Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Miracles: How priests use magic differently than wizards

   One thing I set out to do fairly immediately is to differentiate priests and wizards in Neoclassical Geek Revival. Priests as hammer wielding armoured mini-mages always bugged me. Their ability to act as heal bots in so many games likewise was troublesome in a game world scenario. Someone who can fully heal someone disembowelled by a sword or raise the dead EVERY DAY (sometimes multiple times per day) would completely unbalance the world.

   There was also the problem with priests being "agents of their deity" but not really doing much beyond the occasional bit of tithing or whatnot. Of course their deity would also routinely let them perish because while the deity was willing to intervene with magic, not if the priest didn't file out the correct prayer paperwork for each spell a day in advance. So I set out wanting to make a few changes to Priest "spell" use:
1.) I wanted to limit the amount of world altering healing and miracles
2.) I still wanted priests to be able use a full suite of miracles in a pinch
3.) I wanted to make priests act like priests

From Neoclassical Geek Revival, Page 88-89

Game Mechanics of Miracles
Miracles function in a fairly
simplistic manner. A character may
choose to summon forth a miracle
provided they have enough piety to
cover the costs. Miracles are not the
actions of the character but the actions of
a patron on behalf of the character. For
some miracles the rank of the character
may grant additional benefits.
   Character’s can only summon
miracles related to their patron’s nature.
Thus a character must be able to
reasonably justify a miracle as relating to
the patron’s domain they may summon
the miracle. For example, a priest of the
sun god could call forth ‘increase yield’
if they justified it as giving the right
amount of sun, while the follower of a
war god would have a hard time unless it
was dressed up in some sort of elaborate
   The use of time lengthy rituals
will be required to use most miracles. A
fire priest would probably need an
elaborate ritual where a person is
surrounded by flame to justify using a
healing spell.
   Any starting character able to
summon miracles at normal cost begins
the game with 20 piety points.

Accumulating Piety
   Here are some example ways in
which a character could earn piety
Preaching to a congregation for a week: 1
Personally converting someone: 5 or 5 (cumulative) per level
Converting a region: 50-1000+
Building a roadside shrine: 2
Building a small shrine: 10
Building a small temple: 30
Building a temple or church: 100
Building a great cathedral: 500
Building an epic wonder (such as the Hagia Sophia): 1000
Completing a small task of faith: 5
Completing a moderate task of faith: 20
Completing a large task of faith: 100
Completing an epic task of faith: 500+
Killing faith enemy: 2 or 2 (cumulative) per level
Defiling/Destroying enemy temple: 3/4 as building plus a task
Converting a faith enemy: three times normal conversion
Sacrifices (Patron specific): Variable
Burial of faithful: 1 + cumulative level*(must be level appropriate)

Creating a Patron
   A priest requires a patron to grant
their miracles, if the GM already has one
or more options in your game world, you
may wish to use them. Alternatively it
isn’t that hard to build one. First choose
if the patron is aligned with civilization,
the natural world or hell.
   Civilization patrons reside in the
realm of the dead, and usually are
intermediaries between a mortal and
heaven. Hero cults, saints, prophets,
messiahs and ancestor worship all fall
into this category. So while the god may
be Zeus, the patron may be Hercules as
an intermediary. For the domain of the
patron, assume that the miracles must be
justified as coincidence (even if nigh
impossible in terms of probability). The
patron will reward attempts to civilize
and control the natural world, removing
the demonic and the wild.
   Patrons of the natural world are
extremely powerful nature spirits,
elementals, djinn or titans. These should
have power over 1 broad natural force
(an element, plants, animals, fertility,
weather, etc). Alternatively a region can
be selected, granting the ability to use
any miracle within the region but
nothing outside of the region. The latter
is not recommended for any PC. Piety is
awarded for keeping magic and mystery
present in the world, keeping civilization
localized and removing demonic
   Patrons of hell are powerful
demons bargaining with would be
sorcerers. Some demons claim to be
working for a dark god or THE devil,
but most claim there are no such things
as gods or devils. Patrons of hell may
use the method of either civilization or
the natural world. Demonic patrons give
piety for banal evil deeds and causing
corruption. As truly hideous deeds tend
to cause people to resolve themselves to
a life of resistance (ref: Batman), piety is
not awarded for such acts.

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