02. The Runelands
Climbing the Stairway to Heaven
Associated Skills: Special
Concepts: Templar, Crusader, Monk, Hospitaler, Wandering Clergy, Sacred Hermit.
Artifice • Divinity • Elementalism • Sorcery • Relativistics
I sat down to design the nature of religion in the Runelands based on Graham Ward's famous penchant for killing my gods. the idea old gods being replaced by newer, shinier ones as creeds split into sects, and new schools of thought arise.
It's a well-established Runelands trope that mortals can and do achieve godlike power; nowhere is this more evident than in the Runespeakers. As a result, the relationship between divinity and mortality is best described as democratic. Gods who provide responsible stewardship of their flock prosper, and their people prosper with them. Gods who overreach or treat their population cruelly find they are abandoned in favour of gods who don't. As I've mentioned elsewhere, this will be explored more fully in-game, as I'm just tapping the framework of a very large setting out for the third time.. I've still got a lot of typing to do. This will be expanded.
Anyone may can enter into a bargain with one of the higher Powers. If this is not done at character creation, it costs a point of Refresh. This school is for you if you want to play a character who reaps great power from devoted service to a higher power. This choice will affect every other aspect of your character, and is not lightly made.
Once you have done this, take an appropriate Aspect. This doesn't have to literally be "Oathbound"… this is just a convenient reference. You can choose a title, like Adjutant to the Bishop of Hollow or Pilgrim of the Pentaverate, or similar.
By taking an Oath, you gain unparalleled flexibility as pertains to the kinds of magic you can wield, but at the cost of your devotion.
Don't get too hung up on the verbiage used here; these archetypes apply equally as well to Prime Elementals, the Lords and Ladies of Faerie, the Nobles of Hell, the Unknowables, and the Deathlords. Plenty of alien intelligences require worship, and the worldwide number of churches and religions easily numbers in the thousands.
You can pick your patron from some of the samples later in this article, or you can build your own using the archetypes behind the links at the top of this section as best fits your character needs.
Characters who choose to become Oathbound receive many benefits but at a cost. Summoning is one ability thus affected.
- If you make a bargain with a Higher Power to become more powerful, take an appropriately-descriptive Aspect. Thereafter and evermore, Summoning works like this:
- The character may only summon creatures from the purview of the Higher Power that he has a bargain with.
- Summoned minions no longer demand a price.
- Failed summonings now always result in the creature fleeing.
- The character’s skill is treated as 4 higher for the purpose of how many minions he may have bound at a time.
- The character may now summon and bind a named elemental creature based on the patron of his bargain. The nature of this creature is part of the identification of the patron. Named creatures are specific sorts of fantastical beasts—firebirds, lightning armadillos, or whatever else the player and GM agree seems cool.
- These Named minions are of Superb rating, have 4 stress boxes and -2/-4/-6 consequences, as well as their elemental bonus—see the table.
It is possible to cut more than one bargain, but doing so pretty much guarantees that from that point forward you will be ground zero for proxy fights between those two Entities.
The power of belief is very real and very palpable in the Runelands. This means that unshakeable faith in a higher power—faith that the higher power will protect and guide you—has a potent magical effect when focused. These abilities don’t arise through training or innate talent; they’re the result of a life of strong faith, elevating the act of belief into a power of its own. As such, these powers are usually seen in seemingly ordinary people—but their power of belief has made them extraordinary and supernatural.
Bless This House [–1]
Description: Your faith is proof against the invasion of the supernatural, enabling you to improve the strength of a threshold in a place where you reside.
Skills Affected: Conviction.
Effects: Bless This House. By your very presence in a place, you may increase the strength of its threshold (page 230)—assuming you have anything to work with (a place without a threshold can’t get one). If your Conviction is higher than the threshold rating of a particular place, the threshold gets a +2 bonus while you are there. Multiple individuals who have this power can stack the effects, making a den of the faithful potentially very safe from supernatural incursion—unless someone’s so foolish as to invite a powerful supernatural creature in.
Guide My Hand [–1]
Description: By giving yourself over to your faith, you may sense the purpose the higher powers have in mind for you, guiding your hands (and your feet) to take you to where you are most needed. Skills Affected: Conviction, others.
Faith Manages. Given the time to pray for guidance and provided that your goals are pure and your actions are selfless, you may spend a fate point to use your Conviction skill instead of any other skill for one roll. This effect cannot be used for any attacks or maneuvers, but it can be used to bypass other kinds of obstacles.
Spiritual Guidance. You have a semi-conscious awareness of where you are needed most. Usually, this simply means you are guided to the right place at the right time. If the GM agrees that such a circumstance is in effect, you need not spend a fate point to stage a fortuitous arrival. Sometimes this might work in reverse, allowing an ally to show up where you already are.
Holy Touch [–1]
Description: When acting with a pure heart and selfless purpose, your very touch is harmful to creatures vulnerable to such things.
Musts: You must have taken Righteousness (below) in order to take this ability.
Skills Affected: Many.
Effects: Holy Touch. If you act in keeping with your calling, keeping a pure heart and selfless purpose, your touch can be imbued with a holy power. This could qualify your touch as satisfying a Catch (page 185) for the Toughness powers of some creatures. Even if not, creatures that would be an offense to your faith take a 1-stress hit from being touched by you. You could use this with a Fists attack, to have your hands act effectively as Weapon:1 against such creatures. In lieu of this benefit, you may have your touch justify a compel on the high concept of any creature that would be offensive to your faith. This way, you might be able to hold them at bay temporarily or otherwise keep them from attacking you. For example, suppose your character with this ability is attacked by a Black Court vampire—you might look at the GM and say, “Hm. I want to have this confrontation, but I don’t want to fight—what if I hit it with my Holy Touch, spend a Fate point, and you compel its Black Courtier aspect to force it to deal with me a different way?” The GM says, “Okay, your touch burns the vampire and it jumps back, eyeing you cautiously. You still look like dinner, you can tell, but it’s listening—for now.”
Description: Your prayers have a profound effect.
Skills Affected: Conviction, others.
Effects: Potent Prayer. When pursuing your calling, you may make a prayer (page 324) to guide your actions righteously—spend a fate point to invoke your high concept and define a Divinely-inspired purpose you’re aiming at. While in effect, use your Conviction to complement (page 214) any action that directly addresses your purpose. If you either achieve your purpose, take any compels that would threaten to derail you from your pursuits, or refuse any compels that are meant to keep you true to your purpose, the effect immediately ends.
Desperate Hour. In times of most desperate need, you may call out a prayer for aid from the Divine. Any time you are hit by an attack that requires you to take a severe or extreme consequence to avoid being taken out, you may make such a prayer. You may also call upon this prayer in any scene where a friend, ally, or innocent victim is taken out, forced to concede, or otherwise suffer a lasting, terrible fate (like being crippled, kidnapped, etc.). Roll your Conviction as an attack against every non-allied, supernatural creature in the same zone as you, which can be resisted by their Discipline. This attack does holy, physical damage that cannot be offset by any supernatural abilities (it automatically satisfies the Catch on any Toughness powers). You can only make one such prayer per scene.