Picture the scene. The Roman Empire has started collapsing and Italians have hoiked up their togas and slowly but surely withdrawn from the towns, cities and indeed, whole countries, that they conquered. In Briton the retreating Romans have taken some of their gods with them, but a few decide to hang around. These gods get converted into Anglo-Saxon or Celtic deities and join the wider pantheon of existing gods, godlets and immortal folk heroes of the era. However, just as they are beginning to enjoy growing popularity, a new brand appears on the market – a dualist religion with a crack team of writers and PR specialists. This new religion makes great in-roads into the god market and slowly but surely merges, co-opts, adopts, consolidates and otherwise incorporates the holy sites, miracles, myths, holy days and even the gods of the old religions for their own purposes.
To make matters worse for the pagan gods, several hundred years later, an idiot teenager messing with magic he did not understand, managed to drain most of the magical energy from the vast swathes of Europe. So not only were the old gods being out-sold, but now they couldn’t even perform miracles or wield their magical accessories. Before long most of the old gods were forgotten about in favour of the new super-religions and they found themselves forced into early retirement. In later years, that period at the beginning of the dark ages became known as the ‘great down-sizing’ for it marked a seismic shift in the god business from the local high street god, to the slick global variety.
Each of the old gods took the changes forced upon them in wildly different ways. Some turned to the bottle and spent centuries drowning their woes. Some withdrew completely from the world and lived in isolation in the darker corners of the planet. Some went native, hung up their sandals and started living and working amongst the mortals. With no alternative, the old gods were eventually forced to sign the Pact for the Protection of Latter-Day Deities and live in certain specific safe-zones. And so it would be for the next 1,100 years until a dead lawyer changed their destinies once more.