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Not sure if this is a worldbuilding or writing question, but here it goes.

In this setting, gods of humanity are beings of absolute order that exist in another plane of existence. They are constantly at war with chaos, and defend the mortal world from that influence. As a result, they live according to universal laws that govern their actions. There are rules for how to interact with humanity, to what extent they can interfere with mortal realms or realms of other gods, etc.

These gods don't see themselves as individuals in the way humans do. They have their own thoughts and opinions and can act independently. However, underneath that independence is a divine will, or super-consciousness, that they are all connected to. This would be the main deity that created them, and is the source of these universal laws they must live by.

I am having trouble explaining what I want this concept to be in words. These beings aren't meant to be a hive-mind, like mindless slaves or automatons. However, they are not free to act like humans are. How can I make and show this distinction?

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    Definitely Writing.SE. You're not having trouble with the concept itself, just how to explain it to your reader. – Cyn says make Monica whole Jan 17 '19 at 20:24
  • Isn't this EXACTLY what the Q continuum is? Star Trek seems to have no problem explaining it. And if yours isn't exactly Q... you should be able to do it too, simply by drawing inspiration from Star Trek. – ashleylee Jan 17 '19 at 21:19
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It's not dissimilar to an employee.

If you work for the government or a large entity, you represent them at all times when on the job (and sometimes when off work too). You have a set of beliefs and rules you need to uphold. As well as general knowledge about how the entity works.

You get communications from your employer regularly and these will change how you interact with customers/clients/outsiders. You might even imagine a worker with a headset the customer can't see.

Workers are individuals with their own beliefs and opinions, yet they're often not free to act on them, even when off duty.

But it's more.

Your gods are in service to the divine will. It is their higher purpose and always will be. They don't need technology to communicate with it, or each other, because that's built into their physiology.

Everything they do or say will come from the symbiosis of their individual selves connected with the universal consciousness.

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If you understand it, you don't necessarily need to explain it. It's just an info-dump if you shoehorn it in there without it being relevant to the main storyline. And shouldn't the gods be a bit mysterious? Just have them act and speak according to your own understanding of your world's cosmology and metaphysics.

If it becomes important for your characters to know or guess, see it and explain it from their point of view, even if that is incomplete, confused or even completely wrong.

It's worth noting that this is close to how angelic beings are presented in the Bible --you might read it for inspiration.

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Simplest answer - give the superconsciousness a character.

You've mentioned this could be the deity that created the other gods. If that deity is still around, this could be straightforward - if not it could be represented as a spirit, an administrator (I like Cyn's employee / company idea), or something as abstract as an instruction manual - the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" was a fine character.

Introducing dialogue - internal or external - between individual gods and the superconsciousness would establish them as separate characters. This could be done even if we were looking at an instruction manual ("I'm not sure I agree with what it says on page 7"), but could also work nicely as a more interactive dialogue.

Having rules for the gods sets up the premise, but there's a lot of room for character development in how these rules are enforced (or not).

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  • For an example of a work that does this - Kill six billion demons. I don't have a link; I actually find the story disturbing, but it has a superconsciousness that's at least vaguely like this, which gave birth to its universe by dividing its consciousness into different selves, and thus ending itself. And yet, it's still around as a pretty major, albeit background, character. – Ed Grimm Jan 19 '19 at 23:41

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