The Samsara Pilgrimage was a major turning point in the history of Kaf. During this event roughly 95% of all major deities stepped down from their positions as gods and instead used their immortality to enter a cycle of birth, death, and reincarnation among the mortal sapient races of Kaf.
Before the event, Deities used their powers known as Divine Works to offer boons to mortal races. This in turn awarded them with praise which further strengthened them. This was known as the pantheon age.
Then everything changed when the Shaytan invaded Kaf. The advanced alien spirits overwhelmed many followers and heroes despite their divine blessings. Add in the introduction of their Ghul warriors and demonic forces and creatures that specifically attack spirit realms, the pantheon of deities had their hands full.
This lead to infighting among the gods as they each wanted followers to empower them, sometimes having their current believers convert followers of other Pantheons. This was more intense between deities who had the same spheres of influence like sun gods or fertility goddesses as they had to share the overall power of their domain. The more crowded ones with many deities across pantheons would have battles and crusades with each other when they weren’t concerned with ghuls or demons.
Eventually the Shaytan made creatures attacked the integral structure of the spirit realms that the gods themselves dwelled in, causing many to crash onto various mountain ranges of Kaf. Vulnerable without their home, minor deities were abducted and their essence was used to operate various doomsday weapons. Eventually the Shaytan side was defeated but at the cost of causing destruction of Kaf civilizations, spurring natural disasters and desolation and the extinction of many beasts and intelligent species.
With rebellions against the gods from their followers increasing during this time mixed with the feelings of failure for being unable to prevent it and failing those still loyal to them, a decision was made. The major pantheons announced to the survivors that they were disbanding the pantheons and they would use their immortality to instead enter a cycle of reincarnation among the remaining mortal races.
Decisions and Reasonings
The idea of being reincarnated was said to have come from the Vedic gods, although remaining minor deities and angels from those pantheons say that it was an agreement after the major pantheons went to a meeting with the supposed God who created everything. Regardless, the dieties decided that their inability to control the outcomes of battle was due to their infighting and lack of consideration for non-divinities.
The Samsara Pilgrimage was intended to give deities a renewed perspective for mortal beings. Although there could be a variety of personal reasonings behind it, the end result is the same.
For some deities, the events of losing their homes and followers lead to depression and existential crises. The rebirth cycle offered by Samsara provided a renewed vigor to live out their existence in completely new lifetimes.
For most of the divinities, they felt they had an obligation to be compassionate towards all people, and the only way to do that is to live with them. By constantly living and dying with mortals, these once immortals experience the same sadness, anger, joy, and happiness they feel. By feeling all these emotions, the deities can hopefully reestablish a sense of empathy to help them understand how precious life is, so they will do anything to protect it. This renewal to connect with the mortals was seen as a way to condone for their failure during the Ghulat Wars and prevent future loss of life on that scale from happening again.
Aftermath/New Era for the Arcane Realm
Gods leaving their domains greatly changed the dynamic between divinities and mortals. When the gods left, they also renounced worship of themselves and giving blessings to followers. However, they assured them of their attempts to better connect with them.
Over the generations, polytheism waned to almost non-existence and replaced with other belief systems like nature worship, etc. While monotheism existed in the form of Islam, a new version from the perspective of the dieties decision and the allusion to a higher power lead to Deism developing as well as non theistic beliefs like Buddism. Atheism developed in a few places as rejection of the gods and they deny that the gods were ever truly divine and thus not deserving of worship or blind faith rather than outright disbelieving in gods whose existence can still be seen via relics, angels, and minor deities. (Thus, atheists may be better classed as dystheists or misotheists.)
The dynamic for acquiring divine works changed as well. Without the presence of the gods themselves, it was harder to come by but not impossible. Seekers of the divine would have to find minor deities with weaker but still effective miracles or for find a deities remaining angels if they had any. Objects previously blessed by divinities still operate as before, however and thus greatly treasured.
At first this presented a crisis for the angels of the deities who choose to become perpetual reincarnations. As angels were created to serve a god’s will, most felt they were going to lose their purpose for existing. Responsible figures were able to console their creations that they were free to make their own purpose and values. Other suggested they could be the attendents of related minor deities that decided to stay how they were. Some angels took it upon themselves to serve as guardians of their deity’s mortal incarnations, sometimes raising them and training their divine powers. Some were gifted with the ability to procreate in absence of their god, so that they could become their own race of beings.
Careless dieties who left their angels to fend for themselves risked having them lash out of control with delusions of grandeur and righteousness as fallen angels.
For the deities who took on this journey, it would likely mean the cycle would last until the end of time itself with almost no known way to back out of it once done. For each lifetime, a deity would become a semideus or “living god”. As such they are the dominant form of deities in the eras after the Ghulat wars.
Since they are both a mortal creature and a deity, an semideus is not dependent on faith to maintain their existence. They are born without their memories as a deity, and have to regain them gradually throughout their life or have a significant event awaken them. They also still maintain the unique power they had as a full-blown diety, first as a reflexive defense mechanism that can potentially trained under conscious control.
Each rebirth can randomly become any race or gender regardless of the original diety, although some have an affinity for a certain sex or even race at times.
So this is a big event that shapes the worlds of the Arcane realm and I spent a lot of time and revisions getting the concept to where it is now. Comment if you like what you’d see or wish me to clarify some issues (and it helps me think critically about my own work). And if you’re interested in using the Samsara Pilgrimage for any of your own writing ventures just send me a private message.