When the God-Mage’s vast necropolis-in-construction was revealed to be a complex plan to invade and take control of Heaven with an army lead by his 100,000 terra-cotta monsters during the Prismatic Planar Conjunction, the gods of the multiverse took notice. Though his assault ultimately failed, it remains unclear if the God-Mage might not have succeeded if so many of his mortal servants had not turned against him when his true plan was discovered. The mortals who inhabited the city of Solstice, which grew out of the remains of the God-Mage’s launching pad, came to work against the remaining elements of the God-Mage’s plan in order to survive, but could do little to tear down the powerful Astrologos Configurations, Clockwork Orrery Chambers, Great Gnomon Spire, or other structures the God-Mage had built to perfectly predict and channel the Prismatic Conjunction. In short, though unlikely, it was possible some mortal might someday attempt to recreate the God-mage’s assault on the Outer Planes.
Obviously, no deity could allow this.
But neither could they all intercede directly. Thousands of deities took notice of the assault on the concept of godhood itself, representing millions of philosophies which often directly contradicted one-another’s plans and preferences. When scores of omnipotent beings all attempted to change the remnants of the God-Mage’s edifices, not only did their efforts neutralize each other, they weakened the bridge that normally divided mortal and divine powers.
In short, they made the risk greater.
And so the Intercession Compact was reached. No divinity would be allowed to directly affect anything within Sanctuary or any area within a radius equal to the farthest point that could be seen by the sharpest-eyed mortal from the top of the Great Gnomon Spire under the best conditions. Agents, priests, and temples could act and draw upon their gods power within the normal limits of mortal ability, but no god could take direct action.
However every god, from every pantheon, would be allowed to send a single mortal avatar, no more powerful than the most powerful mortal, to observe and act within Sanctuary. If such an avatar was lost, it could never be replaced. Nor could such avatars take any action beyond the sphere of the Intercession Compact.
Scores of avatars now reside within Solstice, often as semi-divine heads of churches or local potentates of boroughs of the city. They rarely act, both because to do so is to invite other avatars to oppose their actions, and because the loss of an avatar can never be replaced. But in rare moments an avatar may bring its considerable power to bear on its foes… or use it to ensure no mortal ever again attempts the feat of the God-Mage.
Of course there are hundreds of gods who have yet to assign an avatar. And there are mortals who dare claim to be avatars, and avatars who conceal their true status and go cloaked among mortals.
In some cases this means gods unheard of anywhere else in the world have powerful followings in Solstice, because a powerful avatar resides there. In other cases gods common and popular in distant lands are scoffed at within Solstice, as their avatar is dead (or has yet to appear), limiting the god’s ability to impact life within the city.
And, rarely, a god in its infinite wisdom decides its best choice for an avatar is not something at the height of mortal power, but a lowly adventurer, no more powerful than a fresh recruit, who may have only an inkling of its true nature…