Saturday, May 2, 2015

Mechanics Spoilers: Divine Favor!

In among all the wild baying for information about Domains and Spheres (don't worry, it's coming on Monday, I promise!) there was also a request for a post about Divine Favor. And heck, we have barely talked about Divine Favor at all, so this'll probably be almost as much fun for me to write as for you to read!

First of all, the basics: Divine Favor is a magical tool or other form of help granted to Heroes to help them on their journeys. They often get it from their divine patrons, who are the logical choice to be like, "Lo, here is a sword, go forth and hit things with it," but it can also be given or revealed to them by many other people and beings who want them to succeed or have an interest in seeing what they might do or become. When Divine Favor is a thing that can be given, it comes from a mentor- or supporter-type force that specifically provided it to help the Heroes get awesome for the trials to come; or, if it's something that can't be given to the Hero but is just part of who they are, Destiny itself decided to bestow it on them and some agent or force will reveal its effects to them as they head out into adventure.

If you're looking at that and wondering if it means that you don't get any say in what your Divine Favor is, since it comes from an outside force... well, yes and no. All players choose their first Divine Favor, so you'll be able to make sure you get something that fits your idea for your character from the beginning, but you'll receive more Divine Favor at various points later in your character's development, and those you won't know the details of ahead of time. (But they'll always have to do with your story and/or skills, and you'll always be able to communicate with your GM to make sure they don't give you something you hate, don't worry.)

I'm not going to tell you the specific mechanical details of what each Divine Favor type does and grants... but I am going to tell you what all of them are!

There are six types of Divine Favor, and each of them has three different forms that Divine Favor might take. Your six types are:

Earned Prestige: Your Hero and the things they've done are well-known and impressive, and there are things in the world commemorating this fact. This Divine Favor can take the form of Artwork of your Hero or their deeds, which grants your Hero the option to buff some of their rolls to reflect how famous and impressive they are; a Legend about your Hero's deeds and exploits that allows you to grant some additional healing opportunities to themself and their companions to make sure they can get back on said adventures sooner; or a piece of Music, which buffs themself and their allies when it's played and everyone remembers how inspiring your Hero is.

Foretold Fate: There is some kind of prophecy about your Hero and their future, which is known to at least one or two oracles or seers and will undoubtedly shape the course of their story. This Divine Favor can take the form of a prophecy of Greatness, which allows your Hero to regenerate their injuries faster so they can continue on toward their glorious destiny, a foretold Mission, which allows your Hero to regain some resources over time so that they'll be armed to succeed in the future, or a forecast of Doom, which gives your Hero more baseline resources as they react to the desperation of knowing that time is short and they have to make the most of it.

Guiding Spirit: A guardian spirit or presence extends its powers over your Hero from afar, helping to protect or promote them (although they may not often or even ever meet face to face). This Divine Favor can take the form of an Ancestral spirit, who grants your Hero resources specifically used to do things their noble lineage has a history of doing; a Heroic spirit of a deceased hero of a previous age, who grants your Hero the ability to call upon the Endowments they favored in life more often than would otherwise be possible; or a Supernatural spirit, who grants additional resources to use powers normally barred to mere mortals from the Domains and Spheres.

Inherited Legacy: Your Hero has some prestigious or notable history or skill that impresses other people and causes them to respond accordingly. This Divine Favor can take the form of divine Heritage, which represents a Hero being related to a deity or magical being by blood and allows them extra resources to use powers favored by that deity; an impressive Title, either passed down through the Hero's family or given to them in their lifetime, which causes NPCs to be more positively-inclined toward them than they would otherwise have been; or an important Tradition of their people, culture, family, or other group, which increases their chances to call for help from an outside force when the going gets lethally tough.

Legendary Weapon: Your Hero's been given a weapon or implement of war of some kind, and told to get out there and kick some butt with it. This Divine Favor can take the form of a Destructive weapon, which allows your Hero to hurt enemies more than usual when wielded against them; a Noble or ceremonial weapon, which grants your Hero the ability to reroll some failed rolls in order to remain as impressive and respectable as they rightfully should be; or a Protective weapon or shield, which can be used to save allies or bystanders from injury in the nick of time.

Physical Feature: Your Hero has something about their physical self, whether part of their body or something they choose to wear on it, that is particularly important or symbolic. This Divine Favor can take the form of an Adornment such as clothing or jewelry, which gives your Hero the ability to gain bonuses to any roll you like for a steep resource cost; an Attribute like a birthmark, medical condition, or other naturally-occurring physical feature, which gives your Hero the ability to gain bonuses to rolls in specific Domains; or a Modification such as a tattoo, scar, or other change to your Hero's physical body, which allows them to gain bonuses to rolls in specific Aspects.

You won't be able to stack Divine Favor - once you have a Destructive Legendary Weapon, you won't be able to get five more in order to try to one-shot every enemy you meet - but you will be able to get more than one in the same type, so you could also wield a Noble scepter of state to try to get people to take you more seriously, or deal death with your Destructive weapon with one hand and dispense mercy with your Protective shield with the other.

There are about ten thousand reasons we set up the Divine Favor system this way, most of them having to do with balance, character freedom, and the ability to have the story be supported by mechanics rather than the other way around; in particular, providing pre-set options for Divine Favor allows us to make sure they're all balanced against one another and that no one player will automatically override the others with their choices. Of course, that's more restrictive than a kind of "choose whatever power you want as long as you can get GM approval" model, but we hope to provide enough possibilities and a wide enough selection that all players will be able to get something useful to them, and they're still fully customizable in terms of flavor and meaning to an individual Hero and their story. It also takes some of the weight off of a GM to have to recognize potential problems or compete with powergaming players to try to keep them under control, and likewise it takes the burden of figuring out what powers a player wants off their shoulders and leaves them free to focus on how this could be interesting for their character's story.

I'm sure there are a lot of questions to be asked about this, so don't be shy - if we don't answer them in the comments below, Cameron will round them up for our meeting this week.

And before anyone asks, yes, we do definitely have ideas for further Divine Favor types to be released in the future, but we really need to focus on getting this book to you, so expansion will have to wait! (Yes, having a familiar or companion animal is one of them!)


  1. You know, we'll probably be here all night if I let myself gush as much as I want to, and I'm sure you both have better things to do, so I'll make do with saying that this is beautiful and I will now spend the rest of my five day weekend (which lasts till Monday) making up Divine Favours in my head :D

    So, on to questions:

    1. What happens when a Foretold Fate is met? I can imagine that meeting your Foretold Doom doesn't really necessitate any further clarification, but what about meeting your mission? Krishna was Foretold to kill Kamsa (not that I'm sure that counts, since it's not really a Prophecy if Vishnu just tells Durga to spook Kamsa out by telling him Vishnu as Krishna is totally going to kill him. That's not Destiny declaring anything so much as Vishnu boasting via Durga) and he did a whole bunch of stuff after that was accomplished.

    2. Does Music have to be a single piece or can it be a class of songs? Not that I'm advocating stuff like singing two of those songs to double the benefit or similarly Pat like shenanigans, but Hindu Gods have many, many mantras each, and it feels weird to say that Shiva gets a bonus from Om Namah Shivaya and not Har Har Mahadev (though again he shouldn't get double the bonus from both).

    3. Do Heroic Spirits let you access Endowments from your non top three Aspects? As in say a Warrior past life of a Sage Hero. I'm guessing not since that seems to have 'abuse me' written all over it.

    4. Do Legendary Weapons have to be 'weapons'? I can imagine Hera's Polos crown being a 'Noble' 'Weapon'.

    Also, in my eternal pursuit of lining things up with other things where they really need no lining up, I can't help but feel that those Favour types each gel really well with the image of one Aspect: Warriors and their Legendary Weapons, Lovers with Physical Features, Tricksters with Fates of Doom and Greatness foretold, Leaders carrying out their Inherited Legacy, Sages communing with Guiding Spirits, Creators Earning Prestige and creating their own artwork and stories and music, and Hunters with their Animal Companions. I know that is totally not intended, but I can't help it :)

    1. I knew we would have many questions! :)

      1) This won't affect your Divine Favor still giving you benefits - that prophecy is part of your self and legend forever, whether it's in the future or the past. It will most likely be a major roleplaying/story event, though!

      2) Seems like a GM/specific game call - we wouldn't want it to get too broad and allow heroes to cheat, but there's also no reason to be draconian about it. (Note also that NPC gods do not always have to use the same rules as PC heroes/gods, so it's possible that Shvia himself could have that but not most PCs.)

      3) Which thing the Heroic spirit gives you resources for depends on who they are and what is most appropriate for them, but I can't imagine a GM would give you one that you couldn't use. Most likely, you won't be granted help from the spirit of Achilles if you aren't a Warrior - you'll get someone who is appropriate.

      4) Yes, weapons have to be weapons. But Hera's polos could certainly be a Physical Feature/Adornment that allows her to make more awesome Leader rolls if she feels like it than she might otherwise be able. :)

      While we didn't intentionally align the Divine Favors with the Aspects - they should be things that anyone who favors any Aspects can use well - but it's not surprising that, since they're based on traditional implements heroes have in mythology, and Aspects are based on traditional hero roles, that they tend to fall easily in line. :)

  2. Also, the sentence about getting Favours at 'various points' makes me wonder if we can only get them at predetermined points? And does that mean the number of Favours per Hero at, for lack of a better term, max level, is the same?

    1. There are indeed predetermined points that Heroes receive Divine Favor, although there's an element of choice for the GM about when those happen. And yes, that means that everyone will most likely have the same number of Divine Favor, and has the same upper limit. :)

  3. Also, can the same thing be more than one favour? Vishnu's Sudarshana Chakra can be both a weapon of Destruction for his enemies and Protection for his devotees, similarly with Shiva's Trishul and Kali's Khadga.

    1. No, we would discourage this - although you can USE items with whatever intent you wish, Divine Favors that are physical objects must be separate. You could certainly try to protect people by destroying their enemies with a Destructive weapon, though, or foil enemies by protecting allies with your Protective weapon who then are free to punch them in the face.

      (Side note, the Hindu deities specifically have some stuff going on in their Devotional domain to do with their iconographical items as well, though not the same effects as Divine Favor.)

  4. Cab legendary weapons include unarmed? And yes, I know this I'd getting ridiculous.

    1. Nope. Unarmed by definition does not use weapons. If you want parts of your unarmed body, that's what the Physical Feature type is for. :)

  5. "(Yes, having a familiar or companion animal is one of them!):"

    - Question answered!

    1. Ha, I was thinking specifically of you. :)

  6. Okay, I have another question. Let's say a Hero has armor for their Divine Favor, like Heracles' Nemean Lion skin. Would that be a Protective Weapon or an Adornment? My gut says Adornment but I'd think the description of Protective weapons fit as well...

  7. Hrm, I dunno. I get why you called them all Weapons, but I feel a Legendary Tool would be a better way to go about it than a Legendary Weapon, so your Legendary Tool can be a sword, shield, armour, sceptre, pickaxe, stethoscope, whatever. While this may risk crossing over into Physical Feature; Adornment, I feel there is enough of a difference between the two if it's Tool instead of Weapon that it'd be okay.

    Either way, still looking forward to this!