With the primordials slain, banished, imprisoned, or in hiding, the gods took time to assess their brave new creation and their role within it. The war had lasted countless ages – an amount of time certainly beyond mortal comprehension. During that interminable period, virtually every part of creation had suffered damage. Many gods had died or suffered grievous wounds. Even more concerning, the gods no longer had the leadership of their All-Father, the Overgod. Their ranks had been riven with distrust, suspicion, and disloyalty.
The gods also faced the problem of Asmodeus and the other devils within the Nine Hells, in addition to the vast hordes of demons congregating within the Abyss, in addition to making certain no primordials gained freedom or reclaimed power. Finally, without clear leadership, and with all their uncertainties, the gods became increasingly fractious and argumentative.
The cessation of the Creation War had another effect on the deities. As long as the primordials remained a threat, the gods worked together (more or less) and fought on the same side. The various gods put aside their philosophical differences for the common defense. Once the war ended and the threat faded, those submerged emotions and beliefs resurfaced, and often violently so.
Gods such as Bane, Torog, Gruumsh, and Tiamat argued for annihilation of all primordials. They demanded positions of power and leadership within the pantheon. Some gods, such as Sehanine, Erathis, and Melora preferred neutrality so they could attend to their individual interests. Finally, gods such as Bahamut, Pelor, and Moradin demanded the gods observe certain laws and cooperate towards common goals.
Over time, the gods came to the realization that they, more often than not, despised one another. Other gods merely tolerated their brothers and sisters. As disagreements sharpened, the gods migrated slowly but steadily into one of three camps, each based on an overall philosophy. In simplistic mortal terms, these philosophies boil down to good, evil, and neutrality.
Despite their differences and disagreements, even the darkest gods refused to consider open warfare amongst their own. They knew the gods could ill afford another lengthy, drawn-out conflict – a conflict likely to end in bloody stalemate. In a remarkable achievement of cooperation and compromise, the gods gathered one last time and discussed their needs and desires. Initially, Bane refused to participate, and even fought the gods in protest. Ultimately, however, he agreed to the Covenant.
When the gods completed their summit, each of the three groups went their separate ways. Before they disbanded, they created a binding agreement known simply as the Covenant. The Covenant remains in effect to this day, and its resolutions bind all the gods to some extent. The Covenant protects the gods from each other, and also protects creatures of the mortal realms. In basic terms, the Covenant outlined the right of each god to pursue his or her interests and beliefs and to receive worship from mortal beings. At the same time, the Covenant upheld the importance of gods not directly interfering with one another. The Covenant outright forbade gods fighting gods, except in self-defense.
Of import, the Covenant established a balance of power amongst gods, as well as the concept of symmetric response. Under the terms of the Covenant, if a god directly intervenes in mortal affairs to the detriment of another god’s followers, the aggrieved deity may offer similar – and equal – assistance to his (or her) followers. The inevitable conclusion of a dispute becomes quickly apparent: the mortal servants of both gods suffer, and neither god benefits from the situation. In addition, the more aid or intervention the opposing gods provide their worshippers, the more likely intervention from other gods becomes. The more gods involved, the greater the catastrophe, with the interests of all gods suffering.
Avoiding such a rapidly deteriorating downward spiral is simple: avoid direct intervention in the Mortal World. The Covenant maintains no interest in good, evil, right or wrong; it does not discriminate for or against any god. The agreement concerns itself only with preventing gods from becoming directly involved in mortal affairs. More directly, the Covenant seeks to prevent gods from starting a conflict that is likely to grow and lead to widespread destruction. For these reasons and others, deities of all attitudes and beliefs have learned to uphold and observe the Covenant.
For the most part, the Covenant has prevented any large-scale conflicts between the gods. As a side benefit, it has preserved the mortal world from the inevitable destruction that such a conflict would inflict. Gods normally perceived as “good,” including Bahamut, Pelor, and Moradin have observed the Covenant. Gods frequently viewed as “evil,” such as Bane, Tiamat, and Torog, have also kept to the Covenant. The gods may not like the terms of the Covenant, but they agreed to it, and they must abide by its terms or risk the consequences. As a result, virtually all divine intervention into mortal affairs comes in the form of granted prayers, divine oracles, lesser miracles, visions, dreams, and prophecies.
On occasion, gods send their intermediaries to the mortal realm, usually as messengers or to directly punish one of the god’s own followers. Although such events may run counter to the Covenant’s spirit, they do hold to the Covenant’s letter of the law. Most such intermediaries have extremely limited contact with mortals, and their missions are extremely narrow in definition and duration.