RPG Design – The God-Favored

   Now that we’ve had a look at where the ideas about magical rulers and kings come from (HERE), it’s time to translate them into gaming terms.

   The God-Favored are not uncommon; any small tribe may well boast one or more. They’re simply chosen according to the whims of the gods, although the offspring of those already favored (such as chieftains, other favored individuals, and heroes), those dedicated to a god early in life, the especially devout or visionary, those who have strange childhood experiences, and the defective (crippled, mute, deaf, blind, etc) are especially likely to be selected.

   Sadly, such favor is usually less than universal; even if there are no rival powers to disfavor the chosen of another power, the gifts of the gods are normally hedged about with conditions and limitations. If they were not, their interference would hardly be subtle or anything that could be mistaken for random chance.

   Most god-favored characters started off that way at birth, but a rare few acquire their patrons later – whether thanks to some circumstance in early childhood or due to some deed performed as an adult.

   The God-Favored:

  • Are slightly exceptional, receiving a modest boost to an already-good attribute. Exactly which one is determined by the power that favors them – and by the fact that such a boost will never result in the character’s attribute exceeding the usual starting maximum.
  • Get to occasionally reroll the dice – but only when the check being made falls under the auspices of the power that favors them. If this is not necessarily clear, the player will need to come up with a description of just how – for example – the sea god helps out in the mountain battle. If the player can’t come up with something both subtle and plausible, there’s no intervention and thus no reroll.
  • Enjoy relatively good health, pulling through almost any normal illness without serious long-term effects – although illnesses that would commonly kill often result in visionary fevers or other near-death experiences – and recovering quickly and cleanly from wounds.
  • Enjoy limited resistance to curses and the more subtle malign magics.
  • Get to occasionally escape dangerous situations – surviving poisoning, injuries, and falling into fast-flowing rivers or having opponents who are about to kill them slip or get distracted – thanks to sheer luck. This usually, however, calls for making sacrifices to the character’s patron powers and possibly undertaking occasional missions on their behalf.
  • Enjoy minor strokes of good fortune – often finding food, or a serviceable weapon, or a handy distraction, just when they could really use one.
  • Pick up basic skills unusually quickly, swiftly becoming highly competent.
  • Rise in social status easily.
  • Tend to become involved with important events, and are often entrusted with major tasks, notable magical devices and treasures, and obscure prophecies.
  • Are often the targets of individuals favored by opposing powers.
  • Are the heroes of most historical and semi-historical novels and works – all of which tend to have slightly larger-than-life heroes who (often) suffer an astounding array of personal disasters and setbacks which they are fortunate enough to survive. While this is, of course, accomplished thru authorial fiat, what is that but another name for a patron deity?

   Translating that directly into game terms demands a particular game system – in this case, I’ll be using Eclipse classless d20, since it makes it easy to build templates.

   God-Favored +1 ECL Acquired Template (32 CP):

  • Self-Development/+2 to any one attribute, Specialized/the attribute is chosen by the game master and cannot result in raising it above the characters current natural maximum, base cost halved for being in a Template (6 CP).
  • Luck with +2 Bonus Uses, Specialized/only represents subtle shifts of fortune, can only be used on checks related to a GM-selected patron power. If it’s not clear as to whether or not a roll is so related, it’s up to the player to justify how it is and how the intervention occurs. Otherwise there’s no intervention (4 CP).
  • Immunity/mundane diseases and infections (Common, Major, Trivial, Corrupted/potentially-fatal illnesses usually result in visions of near-death experiences which call for sacrifices or services to the gods, 2 CP). A trivial immunity can’t handle everything – but it will greatly reduce the effects of almost any natural disease.
  • Recovering quickly from wounds is pretty much a given in d20. There’s nothing that needs to be bought to get that. On the other hand, the God-Favored rarely seem to get wounded quite as much as every one else – and that can be purchased as Universal Damage Reduction 3/- (this applies to both physical and energy damage and stacks with other forms of damage reduction, 6 CP).
  • Immunity/curses, sympathetic magic attacks, and similar “witchcraft” (Uncommon, Major, Minor, 4 CP). That will handle effects of up to level three and provide a +4 bonus on saving throws against greater effects.
  • Inherent Spell (“Swift Lucky Break” with two Bonus Uses for a total of three times per day. Produces effects roughly equivalent to a subtle second-level spell – blunting an attack, providing a convenient handhold, keeping the user afloat in a dangerous river, helping the user find some food, reducing the effects of a poison, and so on), Specialized for half cost and Corrupted for increased effect (to get that swift-action part); whenever the character calls on this ability he or she must offer prayers and small sacrifices to his or her patron power and may – at the option of the game master – be required to undertake some special task or mission for his or her patron. If he or she fails to do so, this ability will not work again until he or she undertakes the mission (5 CP).
  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills (for +2 Skill Points per level, +8 at level one if this template applied at that time, 6 CP).
  • Privilege/high social status. The God-Favored tend to be seen as natural leaders, and find it easy to rise to positions of power and authority, woo especially-desirable partners, and otherwise rise to the top of the heap. Corrupted/they still have to work their way up, although they’ll find it a lot easier than most people will (2 CP).
  • Accursed: being favored by a god has it’s drawbacks; the God-Favored will tend to be drawn into major events, targeted by opposing forces, and often get handed dangerous artifacts, treasures, and prophecies to look after or fulfill (-3 CP).

   With that Template the God-Favored will be notably above average in a variety of ways – and very difficult to kill. It’s usually easy to justify using Luck on saving throws, while Damage Reduction, Fast Learner, and that “Swift Lucky Break” effect can get the user out of a wide variety of dangerous situations with his or her skin mostly intact.

   Next up; the extension to the Noble-Blooded and Divine King templates, along with a few sample Offices.

   If you want to pick up a copy of Eclipse to build your own templates – or just to translate any of the obscure terms in this template – it’s available in print HERE and in a shareware .pdf version HERE.

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One Response

  1. […] ECL God-Favored, +1 ECL Noble-Blooded, and +2 ECL Divine Ruler – divinely-chosen nobles and […]

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