In the cosmology of Awakening, some entities - primarily Archmages, but also some more abstract forces - can retroactively rewrite huge parts of the world as we know it. We're talking about changes which erase major deities and their religions from the past, retrocreating an ancient worldwide conspiracy that has existed since the dawn of time, or altering high cosmological facts like the existence of Watchtowers and Realms (which have since that point always been so).
While I'm impressed by the grandeur of such possibilities when viewed 'from above', I also have a series of concerns that make it harder to be invested in the 'ground level' events in such a setting (such as those related to non-Archmage PCs), and they mirror some of the concerns I've seen my players state about large retcons done by big movers and shakers in general (i.e. in other franchises):
- The cosmic retcons have wide-spanning consequences that invalidate pretty much everything the PCs did throughout a campaign, to a degree even more drastic than an archetypal Butterfly Effect from eponymous films.
- The retcons come with no or at best very little warning.
- There's unlikely to be anything the PCs can do to prevent or reverse invalidation of all their prior achievements; if they even continue existing after the retcon, they're likely unrecognisable as people and neither know nor care to even try.
- For all the talk of how a small person can make a huge difference by influencing the opinion of an Archmage at some important-in-retrospect moment, there doesn't seem to be a way for said small person to make a meaningful and informed choice of what to shift the next iteration of the world towards when 'performing' such an influence.
- Unlike, say, a nuclear apocalypse, not only does such an event put a full stop on the future ('Today I die, but at least I lived a good life!'), but also the past ('This person never existed in the first place, and thus didn't live a good life before dying!').
Yes, I know that the characters are largely unaware of these things and so can lead lives of blissful ignorance. But I'm asking about the attitudes of players as influenced by the knowledge that all they do is likely to be 'rebooted' many times afterwards. I also understand that a typical character already has a hard time significantly influencing the big world, but in Awakening, the ability to exercise agency over the long course of existence seems even more diminished.
Is there a way to prevent the apathy that commonly accompanies the realisation that most efforts and achievements are pointless and fleeting in this setting? So far the only solution I see is connected with maintaining an 'optimistic nihilist' mentality, and that's not a mentality for everyone. Are there other ways to prevent apathy and maintain player investment?