- Character Customization
- Pirates! (with Spellbound bonus)
- Agents of Faith
- The Complete Guide to Beholders
- Dark Lore
- Blood and Guts
Agents of Faith
The faithful characters and creatures of any setting can be classified as Worshippers, Initiates, Chosen, Anointed, and High Priests. The cleric, druid, and paladin classes have traditionally assumed the religious leadership roles of the church, but sometimes characters of other classes and backgrounds can grow in their faith beyond the devotion of some of the clerics, druids, and paladins of the same patrons. An individual character’s devotion to a god falls somewhere on a relatively wide spectrum. For instance, there are some worshippers that live strictly by the tenets and laws of their faith, and then there are some worshippers of the same deity that do not take their religious beliefs too seriously except, perhaps, in times of desperation. The more devout and proven the worshiper is, the greater their chance at attaining the rewards of influence and power that a deity offers their followers.
Worshippers make up the massive base of a church’s structure. Most of the residents in a given world or plane will possess some degree of faith, usually to the patriarch or matriarch deity of a pantheon, while a smaller percentage will spread themselves out over the other divine beings, sects and cults. A worshiper’s faith transcends the castes and classes of the society. A lowly beggar and the king of a realm can both be worshippers of the same god and to the same degree. Worshippers are everywhere, and anyone can worship in their hearts any deity they wish. Requirements
Declaring oneself to be a worshiper carries no prerequisites, requirements, or responsibilities. It is the freewill of the character to choose their faith, just as it is the choice for a worshipper to stop worshipping one deity in order to worship a different god if they want to. Some worlds may have stricter requirements of worship, with punishments levied upon those that change their faith too freely. Others may require some level of worship to ensure an afterlife, but that choice can be made at the moment of death.
Worshippers typically gain no direct benefits from their deity. As such, the deities often take little interest in the fickle characters whose faiths can shift like the wind. In settings with stricter standards of devotion, clerics and druids may only cast beneficial spells and lend aid to those of the same faith, but this is entirely up to the Game Master.
Initiates are the worshippers that have shown unwavering dedication to their chosen god and the church. The initiates of a church wield powers granted directly from the deity in the form of divine feats. While the clerics, druids, and paladins of a particular faith tend to become the best candidates for initiation, they by no means dominate the ranks of the initiated based solely on their character class. A rogue who is a very devout worshiper of a god of thieves may prove to be better suited for initiation than a cleric of the same deity who is not as outgoing in furthering the church’s goals. Initiates are often called upon to serve their church or to enact their deity’s will on this plane, so only those that show action and initiative in their worship will be considered for initiation.
To become an initiate the worshiper must undergo some sort of initiation. Initiation can take many different forms and is always at the GM’s discretion, as it will largely depend on the campaign setting and the dogma and practices of the specific church to which the character wishes to initiate. It is not unusual for the worshiper to have to undertake a minor quest or achieve a specific goal before they are deemed worthy for initiation. Other tasks appropriate to the church, such as a period of fasting or cleansing, a donation to the church, the shaving of one’s head, etc., may also be required.
As a suggestion, the Investment ritual, a divine ritual using the rules in LI1501 – Spellbound: A Codex of Ritual Magic, as presented in Chapter 5, is an easy and effective means of implementing the initiation process into any fantasy setting. Other options include a secret moonlit ceremony, a great public naming in front of a throng of worshippers, or even a private initiation on a desolate hillside.
Regardless of the process involved, initiation is usually the purview of high priests (see High Priests below).
Upon becoming an initiate, the character immediately receives the lowest level divine feat as a bonus feat. The initiate then has access to that deity’s lists of divine feats, which they can take at later levels. If, for any reason, the character becomes divested, or comparably stripped of their bond with their patron deity and their rank from the church, the character immediately loses the ability to use all of their divine feats, plus whatever additional ramifications the GM decides are appropriate. For more information on divine feats, see Chapter 4: Divine Feats.
Some initiates may prove themselves to be outstanding by accomplishing important tasks put forth by their church. Initiates that have risen above their peers through their deeds and accomplishments can be endowed with the status of Chosen. A church’s Chosen will be entrusted with greater tasks and responsibilities than the other initiates, and will be looked to as a leader in times of crisis. On average, perhaps 1 of every 100 initiates of a church will become one of the Chosen. Of course, a specific church will have higher or lower standards about who becomes Chosen. The more popular churches will tend to be more selective, while small or secretive churches will often promote their initiates for simply surviving for a certain length of time or accomplishing a fairly pedestrian task.
Initiation is always a prerequisite to becoming a Chosen. Like initiation, the process of becoming a Chosen can be handled in endless conceivable ways depending on the campaign setting, but is always at the GM’s discretion. The Chosen ritual is presented in Chapter 5 for ease, but other options can include performing a specific task at the will of the high priest, a vision quest, or even a divine visitation from an outsider can result in one becoming Chosen.
In reward for their heightened status, the Chosen gain one bonus feat that they can use to gain any divine feat available to their deity.
A select few of the Chosen will ever rise to the rank of Anointed. Anointed are the most devout, fervent, and spiritually charged individuals that stand out above all others in the church, except for the high priests themselves. To be the Anointed of a god is to be the one by which all worshippers, initiates, and Chosen are measured. Depending on the structure and makeup of a specific church, Anointed can even be regarded more highly and reverently than any cleric or priest, even one that’s been ascended (see below). It is entirely conceivable that an Anointed in a church who is a fighter or a sorcerer by class is looked upon with greater reverence and awe than the local clerics or paladins of the same faith. When appropriate, an Ascended or Anointed of a church will select one Chosen in their church to become anointed. Even in the most desperate and selective churches, Anointed characters are rare. They often embody and represent the will of their deity, or at least their High Priest, and such power is not wielded lightly. An Anointed or High Priest that chooses an unworthy candidate for anointing will often face retribution from their deity. In many churches, the Anointed are considered the front-line soldiers of the church. In exchange for their title they are expected to venture into enemy territory, combat the enemies of the church wherever they may be found, and undertake the most dangerous of missions.
Being a Chosen is always the prerequisite to becoming an Anointed. The process of becoming an Anointed should be rigorous, challenging, and perhaps downright dangerous. Whatever the nature of the challenges and procedures put forth on the character, there can be no doubt that the initiate, if successful, is destined to wield the ultimate power of their god in the mortal realm. Just the same as initiation, the process of becoming an Anointed can be handled in many ways and will depend largely on the alignment and ethos of each particular church, but is always at the GM’s discretion. The Anointing Ritual is presented in Chapter 5 for ease, but a highly religious ceremony, a deific visitation or the blessing of an avatar can also create an Anointed.
An Anointed receives a bonus feat they can use to get any divine feat available to their deity. In addition, the powerful bond that an Anointed has with their deity grants them the ability to break through the divine barriers that Temples of other faiths put forth (see “Holy Ground” below). Not even a High Priest receives this powerful benefit, for it is reserved solely for those that are Anointed.
If stripped of the Anointed station, so go the character’s benefits. Depending on the circumstances of losing the title, the character may suffer other punishments, as the GM deems appropriate.
An initiate of a church can rise up the hierarchy all the way to the ultimate leadership position of the church as the Ascended, often commonly called High Priest (or Priestess). A High Priest’s bond with the deity is arguably the strongest possible divine connection that can exist between a character and a god (though many Anointed disagree). The High Priest’s words are often interpreted by the masses as the word of the deity itself. Of course, different High Priests may interpret their god’s words in different ways, which often makes for controversies and disagreements between other churches and within the church itself. While clerics and druids are traditionally the prime candidates for ascension, any character class can conceivably become the High Priest of a church.
Initiation is always the prerequisite to becoming a High Priest. The candidate for Ascension need not be a Chosen or Anointed (though the respect and prestige that goes along with these lofty ranks sometimes lead to Ascension). Ascended are seen as the leaders of their church, so the process of becoming Ascended should involve gaining the trust of the devoted, as well as earning some sort of divine insight into their patron deity’s motives and goals. A current Ascended must choose a candidate to become Ascended, and will be the one to perform the Ascension in a sort of sponsorship. Attempting to ascend one that is unworthy of the position will often result in divine retribution for both the candidate and the sponsor. The Ascension ritual is presented in Chapter 5, but the method of actually achieving this lofty title are as many and varied as the GM can possibly imagine. Everything from spontaneous inspiration to planar travel can be involved, and should definitely be something the character (and player) should never forget.
The High Priest gains the prerequisite necessary for the Divine Feats that are reserved solely for High Priests. These special Divine Feats allow the High Priest to bestow great powers upon their gathered flocks of initiates. In addition, the responsibility of leadership comes in the form that only an Ascended may perform the rituals or ceremonies of Initiation, Chosen, Anointing, Ascension and Divestment. We highly recommend that this step never be removed from the promotion of another character, as being able to side-step the High Priest often removes the GM’s easiest method of reigning in a character that is no longer acting in their deity’s best interests.