The Miracle System: Cleric Replacement Project pt. 2

Find part 1 here.

So this replaces the old Miracle system completely. Only a few miracles will included in this post; more will be dependent on pantheons, which will be part 3 of the Cleric Replacement Project.

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THE MIRACLE SYSTEM

There are gods, and there are faiths, and there are philosophies, and all three are unique in that they change reality if one believes in them strongly enough. A miracle is this singular event, this one moment where you trust so wholeheartedly into a greater power or ideal that in that moment what you wish for comes true.

Every player character can attempt to invoke a miracle. The Referee, in turn, can have one NPC or monster attempt to invoke a miracle once per session. Once a PC has successfully invoked a miracle, they can never benefit from another one. Faith proves itself but once and beyond that all things stem from casualty.

Invoking a Miracle can be done at any point during the game. It can be the PC's turn, the monster's turn, or someone else's turn entirely. When you do so, roll 1d6. You must roll above a 6 for the miracle to be invoked. Naturally, there are modifiers that can be added to this roll. The Referee always chooses which miracle is invoked. They should either choose that which most suits the player's needs, or somehow decide randomly which occurs.

Miracle Modifiers are thus:
  • Every Backing Power (a pantheon/belief/philosophy) has 1-4 sacraments. If all are performed the session of miracle invoking by the would-be Miracle Invoker, then add +1 to your roll.
  • If the would-be Miracle Invoker is about to die, either from damage or a failed saving throw, add +1 to your roll.
  • If the would-be Miracle Invoker is about to lose something absolutely essential, like a fellow PC they are romantically involved in or the Rod of Lordly Might, add +1 to the roll.

OR, TO MAKE IT FIT ON AN INDEX CARD

Performing Miracles: Roll 1d6 at any point. A 7+ results in the miracle being performed. Gain a a +1 modifier for each of the following: performing your Backing Power's sacraments that session, in danger of immediate death, and losing a crucial thing. Referee chooses what miracle happens.

WHAT THIS SYSTEM ACHIEVES

This system is meant to achieve a way for religious characters to have their religions mean something in game without relying on a spellcasting system. Any character can be religious, and any character can be chosen by their Faith to receive a miracle. It will be rare that this happens (unless one is a Saint, which will be another future blogpost), and a PC can only have one once, but miracles are miracles for a reason.


SAMPLE MIRACLES

Here are some sample miracles, and the format in which they'll be communicated. More next post when I go into Backing Powers (as each Backing Power should have a suite of miracles unique for it). Consider these miracles "Generic Miracles" that any backing power can achieve.

THE MIRACLE OF THE RESSURECTION
You can't keep a good man down, even with the finality of death. This miracle has been witnessed and documented throughout history, and those who see you perform it will know at once that you are their messiah, regardless of that being true or not.
EFFECT: Upon death, you will be reborn 1d12 days later. All wounds you suffered will be half-healed, meaning you are at full hit points but the wounds are somewhat still visible. While dead, you will have a chance to either meet your Backing Power or experience some great meditation or revelation. Your return is accompanied by a great show of divinity, such as angels singing or herds of animals gathering around your place of rebirth. 


DISCOVERY OF THE LOST KEY
Everyone has lost something in their life. All existence, the wise know, is to steal from and to be stolen from. This miracle undoes this, and that which is taken is no longer so.
EFFECT: You will discover something of great value (either personal or worth at least 1,000 s/gp) the next round of having invoked this miracle. It must be something you have owned before, and how it is returned to you depends on your backing power. Odin could send his valkyries to deliver it to you, or the river styx could geyser forth and leave it drenched in soul-dew at your feet.


BE GONE, O'CURSE AND OMEN
The supernatural is a disease on reality. Undead, fey, even angels or the agents of other powers are cancers devouring our world for their own purposes. To kill them is a task for heroes, but to undo them utterly is the domain of faith and faith alone.
EFFECT: Once this miracle is invoked, any and all supernatural effects within 1' mile x character level end. Additionally, any supernatural creatures are banished back to whatever foul domain from which they came and are then utterly destroyed. Demons will be hurled back into hell, ghosts will be ripped from their possessees, and the prideful horrors of warlocks will unravel into stardust. Until an equally cursed miracle happens in this area, never again will the supernatural bleed into this section of reality.

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Saints and their Endless Miracles: The Cleric Replacement Project pt.




I don't like the Cleric class. I don't like the name of it, I don't like that they just cast spells, and I don't like Turn Undead as their calling card power. It isn't bad, just not my taste, and I'm a vain, ugly blogposter.

So, I've begun work on my replacement. This'll be a rather big project, because it needs to replace the Cleric in my Lamentations games and the Cleric in my 5E games. I like the former more than the latter, so that's where we'll start.

For reference, see this post on miracles. It's the prototype for this whole idea.

P.S: I know I'm not unique in replacing the Cleric, but none of the other replaced Clerics have been to my taste either.

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WHAT I NEED TO REPLACE

Clerics - I need to replace the Cleric as an idea in my games. This means no more people who randomly get chosen to go do whatever they want with divine right. But that basic idea kernel of doing something with divine right should still be there. I guess what I'm really doing is removing the Van Helsing/Abrahamic influence for something else. 

Divine Magic - I don't want the replacement to be a spellcaster. You can argue that magic might as well be done through spellcasting because of ease of access, but I'm a firm believer that magic systems are coolest when they all have different, slightly esoteric rules--makes the whole thing just feel strange to me. Also, most standard Cleric spells are boring to me. So, these gotta' go.

Turn Undead - As mentioned above, I'm stripping out the Van Helsing/Abrahamic influence that hitherto now has been firmly wedded to the Holy Man archetype. Turn Undead can still be some sort of miracle, but that's neither here nor there.

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INSPIRATIONS

I'm taking my inspirations for this new direction from the following sources: Joan d'Arc, St. George, Jesus, the entirety of the Mesoamerican aristocracy, the Oracle of Delphi, and the countless Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and Wisdom Kings from Buddhism's various branches. What these things all have in common is that they are people who either do extraordinary things out of sheer will/faith or they do something frankly impossible, enabled by their pantheon/deity. Both of these things are called Miracles.

Also, all of the above are considered saints in some way, shape, or form. So then, what we have is...

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THE SAINT CLASS & THE MIRACLE SYSTEM

A Saint is someone who creates Miracles. These can be miracles of war, miracles of life & death, or miracles of fate; regardless of their classification, they are supernatural feats of incredible potency. Always there is a deity, pantheon, or philosophy that backs the Saint. This will determine the type of Saint we're dealing with. Are you a warrior-hero, like St. George who slayed dragons? Are you a people's savior, like Jesus? Are you someone who is trying to save humanity from its own suffering, like the Buddhas? Regardless of the type, you someone who will have a special set of skills in relation to your backing power; a unique set of miracles that you can work; and access to sacraments and relics for your day to day adventuring needs.

Some might ask why a Saint is an adventurer. Well Strawman, the answer is simple: a Saint is someone who creates Miracles. Miracles can only be created when there is great need for them. When will there be greater need then when the thief gets stuck in a spike trap and loses both his legs? For those of you who want more direct story hooks for your characters, those can be given, but otherwise, you're there because you can only exist as a class in that situation. A thief steals. A fighter fights. A Saint...saints? Hm.

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WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE

The following things need to be done to complete this project:

  1. The Miracle system revamped to be something that can support both the Saint class and other characters who want to make use of it.
  2. A system for the backing power (deitiy/pantheon/philosophy) established. This will probably be me using some standard ideas to expand on.
  3. The Saint as a class actually written.
  4. Sacraments and Relics theorized and then written.
  5. Playtesting. 
  6. The 5E Version created, since I run that as well. This means more playtesting.
  7. Once that's all done, I'll probably edit it heavily, throw it into a PDF, and upload it somewhere.

So there we have it--declarations of intent and a plan set out. Step 1 will begin next blog post.

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Mancy, or, Why Divination is Cool, Mechanics for it

The -mancy suffix actually means divination, not control. Learned this just recently and made me feel kinda' stupid. Also opened up some ideas for me.

The purpose of the mechanics below is to go with my Esoteries system. I don't like spells or spellcasting as they usually are, and wanted to come up with ways to replace standard, flamboyant magic and wizards in my games. Read more about what Esoteries are here.

I currently have a player using these mancy rules in my Sunday campaign. It's been dope so far. The answers she's gotten from her divinations have helped the party decide on various plans, but has yet to yield anything gamebreaking or too explicit. Also makes for some cool roleplay moments.

Note that not all settings are meant to have all Esoteries in them. Dark Sun for example has curios, psionics and sorceries. My Heaven Bless'd & Burned setting has curios, miracles, and mancy.

MANCY

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Melisandre from GoT is the archetypical pyromancer-using Cleric.
Divination has guided mankind since they left the muddy basin they evolved in. Every kingdom is dictated by it, every nation forged on its back, every war fought with its truths.

To use mancy, first decide which of the four methods you use for your divinations. Each method dictates a different type of information.
  1. Anthropomancy, or divination by entrails. Produces strange visions, encoded in shadowed symbols, that show a possible future for a question ask.
  2. Asterimancy, or divination through stars. The sky, star maps, globes and pools that reflect the heavens. Reading this tells you what sort of supernatural events are quickly approaching.
  3. Geomancy, or divination by earth. Break rocks, listen to how soil slides through the hand, hear the vibrations of trees, and then you will know what has happened recently in your area.
  4. Necromancy, or divination through the dead. Take a skull, paint it, lavish it with oils, and then place it on a table in a dark room. Ask it three questions, and it will answer truthfully.
  5. Oionomancy, or divination by symbol. Watch the flights of birds, see what strange colors appear on someone's back, study how many crosses sit atop buildings around you. These will tell you when something dangerous, supernatural, or determined is nearby.
  6. Pyromancy, or divination through flame. Light a flame, stare in it, use bones instead of coal. In the fires you will see a series of images that tell you of dangers to come.
You have a d6. This is your Divination Die. Roll it when you go to perform your mancy. Add +1 to the roll if you meet any of the following criteria:
  • You are under no pressure.
  • You have copious amounts of your preferred element.
  • You are unharmed and under no curses or other ill effects.
The following chart shows how exact of an answer should be given by the Referee.

1-2: Vague answers, cryptic, lots of symbols, nothing direct.
3-4: An answer requiring less interpretation, some explanation, familiar things and obvious clues
5-6: Clear answer, obvious people or creatures, no real trickery, still somewhat encoded
7+: Exact answer, no room for interpretation.

Everytime you perform mancy, the maximum X-in-6 chance you have goes down. So, if you do it 3 times in a day, any roll above a 3 is treated as a 3. With 8 hours of rest and letting omens leave your mind, this resets completely.


AN EXAMPLE: In my Sunday game, we have an anthropomancy. Last session, she divined with the entrails of a murdered man to see what creature had killed him. She rolled low, only a 1, and the answer she was given showed the shadows of a woman with six limbs, wings, paws, and that lived in the trees. The entire party went hunting for this creature. It turned out the woman was actually a human woman who was using dead animal parts to trick the party. Technically they were given the right answer, but it was so vague and cryptic because of her low roll that what came out confused them. If she had rolled higher, it would have been clearer that this was a human woman, not some monster.


USING THIS IN YOUR GAMES

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If your game has divination spells, remove all of them. Mancy is your divination spell now.

Magic-Users (of any kind), Clerics, and Elves have a 1-in-6 chance of knowing Mancy when created. Everytime they level up, reroll this chance again but add +1. One can also learn Mancy from another Mancer, though it takes a month of study to get the basics.

One can study another type of mancy by themselves. Instead of learning new spells, you can make a 1-in-6 chance and increase it by your Wisdom modifier to learn a new type of Mancy when you gain a level.

Fighters, Thieves/Specialists, and whoever else can learn Mancy as well, but their 1-in-6 chance never increases as they level.