Monday, July 14, 2014

Domains in Hero's Journey: Powers of the Soul

In our third installment talking about the Domains of Hero's Journey and what the Spheres within them will allow your character to do, we've finally arrived at the Spiritual Domain. Let's jump in with both feet!

The Spiritual Domain is a little harder to pin down than the other two; while all three Domains are of course magical and allow Heroes to do perform all kinds of wizardry, they still deal with fairly concrete subjects: the elements of the planet itself and the celestial bodies above it, all of which can be studied and quantified by science as well as magic. The Spiritual Domain, on the other hand, has to do with much less fully mapped-out concepts. The word spirit comes from the Latin spiritus, meaning not just soul but also breath; in many parts of the ancient world, breath was considered synonymous with life, as it was breath that appeared to animate the body and death occurred when that breath left, so this Domain refers not religious ideas, which is how the word is most often used today, but to ideas regarding the force of life and how it shapes everything around it.

The first of the Spiritual Spheres is Death, which is exactly what it sounds like - a Sphere that deals with the end of life and the continuation of the spirit afterward. Heroes and gods that deal with the dead are almost universal around the world, fulfilling the needs of various mythologies to know what happens after life is over and manage the instinctive fear of death by knowing that even that is not truly the end. Heroes who invest in the Death Sphere become masters of and conduits for the great majority of the dead who have gone beyond, and among other things are able to communicate and interact with the deceased, animate the dead so that they can act as if living or smite them so that they lie quiet forever, threaten the living with the spectre of death or themselves take on its mantle for a little while, and find even the dreaded underworlds more like long-lost homes than houses of despair.

The Fortune Sphere, on the other hand, deals with life in a very different dimension; it's about controlling the path that peoples' lives take, making it easier or more difficult, granting beneficent windfalls or ill luck, and ultimately redirecting any life that the Hero takes an interest in toward a different fortune than it might otherwise have known. Heroes with this Sphere are manipulators of the odds and greasers of the wheels; they understand that luck is itself a universal force that guides everyones' lives, and that massaging it can lead to fantastic rewards or unexpected disaster (and that sometimes they won't know which until they do it). Gods and Heroes who throw their lot in with Fortune can expect to learn to bless themselves or their allies with bursts of good luck when it's needed most and curse their enemies with misfortune, dictate the outcomes of chance events that can change the course of an individual's fortunes, and set random events in motion that, for better or worse, make a difference to their current circumstances.

And finally the Life Sphere, which is about the very building blocks and supporting powers of all living things themselves. It's not exactly the opposite of the Death Sphere; in fact, the one is really a continuation of the other, with the Life Sphere spending its powers on encouraging and nurturing living things and the Death Sphere taking over to continue that work once they have shuffled off their mortal coil. Those with the powers of Life are able to support and empower living things, whether human, animal or vegetable, and to encourage the proliferation of life and health in all its forms. Heroes who use the Life Sphere can encourage plants to grow to enormous sizes and coax life out of the soil where it could not otherwise bloom, affect the fertility of living creatures to allow them to reproduce and alleviate their aging and illnesses to give them relief, and manipulate the very genetic building blocks of living things to create new forms of life or encourage the evolution of old ones to leap forward in new and fantastic ways.

As always with the Domains, even once the core book comes out they won't be over and done with; there are future areas for expansion and we are more than armed with ideas to expand them, and the Spiritual Domain is no exception. If you have ideas for what kinds of things you'd like to see in the future, tell us about them on the forums (we're always watching!), and feel free to guess what might already be on our wishlist!