Fantasy Wargaming, cover to cover (XXIII)

The next section under religion covers the very important matter of Divine Grace (or for Devil-worshipers, Devil’s Favor).  Players generally do not know their exact status here, and an exact account of one’s state was one of the suggested questions listed under Appeals.  The DG/DF is determined by three things: Religious Level, Religious Rank, and Piety Band.  The first two a player will certainly know; the last is a secret tally known only to the GM, except under certain conditions.

Religious Level obviously is the experience level of the character in the Religious area, and starts at zero unless you creating higher level characters.  Religious rank is the rank of the character in some religious organization, whether it is the Church, a coven, or some religious order (monks, Templars, etc.).  I will only mention that given the awesome gloss of Witches earlier (a pagan cult subverted bythe Devil) I’d hoped for something similar to the Knights Templar but I suppose their official status changed too much for any one interpretation.  In my own campaign I’d make them subverted by Devil-worship and/or Islam around 1300 A.D.

Anyway Christian clerics belong to one of several main organizations or types of organizations: Secular Clergy (i.e., clergy “in the world” like your parish priest all the way up to the Pope); Monastic orders (traditional monks & nuns); Friars (itinerant clergy with no permanent congregations); or Religious Knights (Hospitaliers, Templars, etc.).  The Religious knights are a special case because they would also choose a “Warrior type” and so begin with armor and certain favored weapons.  Religious knights range from rank 1-5, but the other types range up to rank 10 (Pope).  Devil-worshipers belong to Covens which also range up to rank 10 (Anti-pope).  There are rules for promotion within religious hierarchies, and basically you may attempt to be promoted when gaining Religious Levels, but (as you might expect) Social Class plays a big role too.

The third component, Piety Band (PB) is mostly unknown to the player and tracked by the GM.  PB is determined by the total number of Piety points a character has accumulated, and can be a negative number or positive.  Points are lost for committing sins and gained by doing acts of piety or “virtues” that the power approves of.  Because God and the Devil are in direct opposition, Devil worshipers gain Devil’s Favor by having negative piety and Christians try to keep positive piety.  The point total converts to Piety Bands in a fairly straightforward manner, bot each “Band” is increasingly broad, so that 1-10 piety is PB 1, 11-20 is PB2, 30-50 is PB 3, 51-80 is PB 4 etc. (or something like that, my notes are sketchy and the book is not with me just now).  Anyway the higher a PB one attains, the more slow the progress gets, because sins and virtues have variable piety values depending on which PB the character is in.  If you are very, very negative, only the worst sins will matter.  Contrariwise a very high PB character loses more points for a sin than a lower PB character, as God expects more of saints!  Sins and virtues are rated class 1-7 and spelled in in detail for Christians and Devil-worshipers.

There are a few situations when a player will learn his character’s exact PB.  these are at the break points of PB2, PB0, and PB-2.  All clerics are expected to maintain PB2 to be in God’s good graces, and they will actually sin if they perform ceremonies and offices while below PB2 (although the ceremonies and sacraments remain effective, just as theologians held).  At PB0 and again at -2, a character may get visions of hellfire or other serious warnings that they are in danger of damnation.  At PB-2 a character’s spirit is damned to hell.  At PB-3, the Devil himself may come to claim the sinner’s soul.  He might kill the character and drag him to hell or more usually he’ll bind the character to him with spells (Absolute Commands) and force him into a contract.

Piety is also used to determine the fate of a character’s soul after death.  There are calculations to determine if the soul goes to hell, heaven, or how long it will spend in purgatory.   There are also rules for determining if a soul will be promoted to a saint or demon!  Later in the rules there are guidelines for the promotion of spirits to higher ranks within the Ethereal host, so with a little tweaking you could continue a party’s adventures even after a TPK.  I can imagine allowing the spirits to appear before followers, and entreating them to perform masses, ceremonies, or even sacrifices to grant some mana to the spirit!  Accumulate enough mana and you may be eligible for promotion.  There would probably be certain dangers of pride, sin, and even casting out of heaven for those too ambitious within the Heavenly host!

Piety is probably too “core” to FW to do without, although I’ve heard that some GMs don’t try to record the points lost and gained for every action and just assign a number by fiat.  I would consider having any clerics in the party keep accounts of the other characters’ sins and virtues, which could be a pretty fun metagame!  The power of priests to withhold sacraments would make them quite important in any conflict.

Next up, Delegated, routine, & ceremonial clerical powers, and becoming Inspired!

Published in: on August 18, 2010 at 10:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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