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Several Discworld novels feature interlude/prologue/epilogue chapters which show the gods talking amongst themselves atop Cori Celesti.

I think in some cases they are wagering on a game. Where in some sense the game, is the lives of the mortals they watch.

Which Discworld books feature such chapters? I feel like it is more than one, but certainly not all of them. Bonus points if you can provide enough information that I can identify where in the book it occurs.

  • @Valorum Pretty sure, it is not just those 3. (or nesc any of those 3) – Lyndon White Apr 27 '17 at 6:16
  • I'm fairly sure it's depicted in Small Gods and possibly Pyramids. – Valorum Apr 27 '17 at 11:25
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    You're asking for chapter numbers from Discworld books??? – Werrf Apr 27 '17 at 12:23
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    I believe there is an appearance of the game (or at least The Lady) in Interesting Times. – Irishpanda Apr 27 '17 at 13:19
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Cori Celesti and Dunimanfestin, the home of the Gods are mentioned (by name) in fifteen Discworld novels (The Colour of Magic, Equal Rites, Eric, Guards! Guards!, Hogfather, Interesting Times, The Light Fantastic, Men at Arms, Mort, Pyramids, Raising Steam, Small Gods, Sourcery, Thud!.) and one novella length short story (The Last Hero)


The Colour of Magic - Depicted extensively

On this particular day Blind Io, by dint of constant vigilance the chief of the gods, sat with his chin on his hand and looked at the gaming board on the red marble table in front of him. Blind Io had got his name because, where his eye sockets should have been, there were nothing but two areas of blank skin. His eyes, of which he had an impressively large number, led a semi-independent life of their own. Several were currently hovering above the table.
The gaming board was a carefully carved map of the Discworld, overprinted with squares. A number of beautifully modeled playing pieces were now occupying some of the squares. A human onlooker would, for example, have recognized in two of them the likenesses of Bravd and the Weasel. Others represented yet more heroes and champions, of which the Disc had a more than adequate supply.
Still in the game were Io, Offler the Crocodile God, Zephyrus the god of slight breezes, Fate, and the Lady. There was an air of concentration around the board now that the lesser players had been removed from the Game. Chance had been an early casualty, running her hero into a full house of armed gnolls (the result of a lucky throw by Offler) and shortly afterward Night has cashed his chips, pleading an appointment with Destiny. Several minor deities had drifted up and were kibitzing over the shoulders of the players.
Side bets were made that the Lady would be the next to leave the board. Her last champion of any standing was now a pinch of potash in the ruins of still-smoking Ankh-Morpork, and there were hardly any pieces that she could promote to first rank.
Blind Io took up the dice box, which was a skull whose various orifices had been stoppered with rubies, and with several of his eyes on the Lady he rolled three fives.
She smiled. This was the nature of the Lady’s eyes: they were bright green, lacking iris or pupil, and they glowed from within.
The room was silent as she scrabbled in her box of pieces and, from the very bottom, produced a couple that she set down on the board with two decisive clicks. The rest of the players, as one god, craned forward to peer at them. “A wenegade wiffard and fome fort of clerk,” said Offler the Crocodile God, hindered as usual by his tusks. “Well, weally!” With one claw he pushed a pile of bone-white tokens into the center of the table.
The Lady nodded slightly. She picked up the dice cup and held it as steady as a rock, yet all the gods could hear the three cubes rattling about inside. And then she sent them bouncing across the table.
A six. A three. A five.
Something was happening to the five, however. Battered by the chance collision of several billion molecules, the die flipped onto a point, spun gently and came down a seven.
Blind Io picked up the cube and counted the sides. “Come on,” he said wearily. “Play fair.”

Equal Rites - Mentioned only.

Eric - Mentioned only

Guards! Guards! - Depicted (very briefly).

It is said that the gods play games with the lives of men. But what games, and why, and the identities of the actual pawns, and what the game is, and what the rules are—who knows?
Best not to speculate.
Thunder rolled…
It rolled a six.

Hogfather - Depicted (briefly)

“I anticipated a certain amount of resistance from the patient,” said the Archchancellor. He removed his hat and fished out a small crystal ball from a pocket in the lining. “Let’s see what the God of Wine is up to at the moment, shall we? Shouldn’t be too difficult to locate a fun-loving god like him on an evening like this…”
He blew on the glass and polished it. Then he brightened up.
“Why, here he is, the little rascal! On Dunmanifestin, I do believe. Yes…yes…reclining on his couch, surrounded by naked maenads.”
“What? Maniacs?” said the Dean.
“He means…excitable young women,” said Susan

Interesting Times - Depicted (briefly)

This is where the gods play games with the lives of men, on a board which is at one and the same time a simple playing area and the whole world.
And Fate always wins.
Fate always wins. Most of the gods throw dice but Fate plays chess, and you don’t find out until too late that he’s been using two queens all along. Fate wins. At least, so it is claimed. Whatever happens, they say afterwards, it must have been Fate.
Gods can take any form, but the one aspect of themselves they cannot change is their eyes, which show their nature. The eyes of Fate are hardly eyes at all—just dark holes into an infinity speckled with what may be stars or, there again, may be other things.
He blinked them, smiled at his fellow players in the smug way winners do just before they become winners, and said:
“I accuse the High Priest of the Green Robe in the library with the double-handed axe.”
And he won.
He beamed at them.
“No one likeh a poor winner,” grumbled Offler the Crocodile God, through his fangs.

The Light Fantastic - Mentioned only

Men at Arms - Mentioned only

Mort - Mentioned only

Pyramids - Mentioned only

Raising Steam - Mentioned only

Small Gods - Depicted extensively

They play games. They tend to be very simple games, because gods are easily bored by complicated things. It is strange that, while small gods can have one aim in mind for millions of years, are in fact one aim, large gods seem to have the attention span of the common mosquito.
And style? If the gods of the Discworld were people they would think that three plaster ducks is a bit avant-garde.
There was a double door at the end of the main hall.
It rocked to a thunderous knocking.

and

In the center of the room was what at first looked like a round table, and then looked like a model of the Discworld, Turtle, elephants and all, and then in some undefinable way looked like the real Discworld, seen from far off yet brought up close to. There was something subtly wrong about the distances, a feeling of vast space curled up small. But possibly the real Discworld wasn’t covered with a network of glowing lines, hovering just above the surface. Or perhaps miles above the surface?
Om hadn’t seen this before, but he knew what it was. Both a wave and a particle; both a map and the place mapped. If he focused on the tiny glittering dome on top of the tiny Cori Celesti, he would undoubtedly see himself, looking down on an even smaller model…and so on, down to the point where the universe coiled up like the tail of an ammonite, a kind of creature that lived millions of years ago and never believed in any gods at all…
The gods clustered around it, watching intently.
Om elbowed aside a minor Goddess of Plenty.
There were dice floating just above the world, and a mess of little clay figures and gaming counters. You didn’t need to be even slightly omnipotent to know what was going on.

Sourcery - Mentioned only

The Last Hero - Depicted extensively (much of the short story's action takes place there).

There were always many games going on in Dunmanifestin, the abode of the gods on Cori Celesti. It looked, from outside, like a crowded city. Not all gods lived there, many of them being bound to a particular country or, in the case of the smaller ones, even one tree. But it was a Good Address. It was where you hung your metaphysical equivalent of the shiny brass plate, like those small discreet buildings in the smarter areas of major cities which nevertheless appear to house one hundred and fifty lawyers and accountants, presumably on some sort of shelving.
The city's domestic appearance was because, while people are influenced by gods, so gods are influenced by people.
Most gods were people-shaped; people don't have much imagination, on the whole. Even Offler the Crocodile God was only crocodile-headed. Ask people to imagine an animal god and they will, basically, come up with the idea of someone in a really bad mask. Men have been much better at inventing demons, which is why there are so many.
Above the wheel of the world, the gods played on. They sometimes forgot what happened if you let a pawn get all the way up the board.

Thud! - Mentioned only

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The first prominent example that occurs to me is in Colour of Magic. In the Prologue of Part 2:

On this particular day Blind Io, by dint of constant vigilance the chief of the gods, sat with his chin on his hand and looked at the gaming board on the red marble table in front of him. ...

The gaming board was a carefully-carved map of the disc world, overprinted with squares. A number of beautifully modelled playing pieces were now occupying some of the squares.

Side bets were made that the Lady would be the next to leave the board. Her last champion of any standing was now a pinch of potash in the ruins of still-smoking Ankh-Morpork. and there were hardly any pieces that she could promote to first rank.

Blind Io took up the dice-box, which was a skull–various orifices had been stoppered with rubies, and with several of his eyes on the lady he rolled three fives. ...

The room was silent as she scrabbled in her box of pieces and, from the very bottom, produced a couple that she set down on the board with two decisive clicks. The rest of the players, as one God, craned forward to peer at them.

"A wenegad wiffard and tome fort of clerk," said Offler the Crocodile God, hindered as usual by his tusks. "Well, weally! " With one claw he pushed a pile of bone-white tokens into the centre of the table.

The Lady nodded slightly. She picked up the dicecup and held it as steady as a rock, yet all the Gods could hear the three cubes rattling about inside.

And then She sent them bouncing across the table.

A six. A three. A five.

Something was happening to the five, however.

Battered by the chance collision of several billion molecules, the die flipped onto a point, spun gently and came down a seven.

Blind Io picked up the cube and counted the sides. "Come on," he said wearily, "play fair."

This image:

The Gods' Game

...is from The Last Hero, which I'm afraid I don't have with me to quote from, but it shows the gods playing their game.

There are likely other occasions, but I'm short on references at present, and I think those are the most notable ones.

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I don't know if you will accept this as a source, but check out this wiki. Excerpt below:

The gods are described playing games with the fates of men in:

  • The Colour of Magic
  • Small Gods
  • Interesting Times
  • The Last Hero

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