Monday, July 21, 2014

Domains in Hero's Journey: Powers of People and Prayer

Now that we've been through Celestial, Elemental and Spiritual, we've covered all the Domains; or at least, we've covered all the ones that we've been discussing in a general sense for the past several weeks, and gotten the full rundown on the magical and divine powers that they offer to any and all Heroes who want to dabble in them. What we've been cagey about, however, is that there's a fourth Domain to round out the set: the Devotional Domain, which works at once the same way as the others and completely differently.

The Devotional Domain is, as the name would suggest, concerned with devotional and religious activity. It's important both to us as writers and to the game world of HJ at large to remember that the mythologies it's centered around aren't just fun adventure stories but also part of real religions and belief systems, to which they mean a great deal and are often very centrally important. All Heroes, by taking on their destined mantle of greatness and setting out to represent a god from one of these religions, will almost inevitably end up part of that religion themselves within the game's world - their activities on behalf of a god will enter the stories of that faith and be interpreted by its followers, whether for good or ill. This can of course happen in a number of ways, depending on the Hero in question, and might range from being lauded as a glorious hero representing that religion's values, being hated as a traitor or misfit who opposes them, becoming an adjunct or servant in the stories of their divine patron, or becoming a god with their very own cult within the religion, but it's unlikely that any Hero who is active for an appreciable length of time will escape being incorporated into their patron's faith in some way. Like Cassandra, Rama or Imhotep, Heroes' exploits will most likely end up as part and parcel of their patron's religion in some way (or possibly even other religions, depending on what they do and where they go).

The Devotional Domain represents a Hero's investment in that religion; it is a set of powers unique to each pantheon, which allow the Hero to perform great feats and take on religious roles that are concerned with their patron's pantheon, its religion, and the cultural beliefs of the people who invented it. Each of the pantheons of Hero's Journey come from peoples and places with unique religious, mythological and folkloric beliefs that have shaped their history and the stories of their deities, and the Devotional Domain is designed to allow Heroes to tap into those powers that are a distinct part of their patron deity's religious heritage. This means that it is functionally different for Heroes with patrons from different pantheons; a Hero who represents the interests of Ra has access to powers in the Devotional Domain that are concerned with purely Egyptian religious concepts and mythological ideas, while one who represents Vishnu has available entirely different powers based on Hindu theology and myth.

In a general sense, the Domain works like the others; it has a number of discrete powers that Heroes can purchase access to and provides the same structure for rolling and using its Blessings. Its only difference is that it's specific to the pantheon you choose for your Hero, so there are several possible sets of powers rather than a single one shared by all Heroes globally. Like other Domains, Heroes can choose to invest in it or not; doing so gives them access to unique Blessings they can't get anywhere else, but there's no mechanical penalty for choosing not to do so, and each player can decide how much or little their character is interested in or beholden to the religion of their patron god.

Because each "version" of the Devotional Domain contains different Blessings depending upon the Hero using it, a general overview of what kinds of powers it contains isn't possible the same way it was for the other three (past the point of "stuff having to do with your patron's religion", and we already said that!). However, because I'm sure you'd like to know and Cameron tells us folks are very interested in hearing about the different options available to Heroes of different pantheons, we'll be doing some more posts to take a look at each one in the coming weeks. Feel free to agitate for your favorites on the forums, and we'll see about starting with those!