Thursday, September 10, 2015

Devotional Domains: The Missing Links

All right, we're taking a break from playtesting updates for some promised discussion of the Devotional Domain! (Now with Norse and Hindu spoilers!)

Back when we first introduced the Devotionals, we knew that there would be three Spheres - Divinity, Ritual, and Theology - but we only talked about the first one. This was because we initially only planned to release Divinity in the core rulebook; we were worried that it would take too long and be too complicated to do all three from the get-go, and planned to have Ritual and Theology follow quickly in expansions. But, during the process of working on Divinity, we realized that doing a more combined and interlocked design for the Devotionals would solve all sorts of problems that they were having, and since we wanted people to be able to use all their powers from day one anyway... well, here we are, with the new setup we spoiled a few weeks ago.

So, what are these other two Spheres (using the term loosely since they aren't identical in function to the other Domain Spheres anymore)?


Ritual refers to powers revolving around religious practices associated with a Hero's patron god and their pantheon and religion; they might include things like specific rites, festivals, ritual magic, enchantments and so forth. Heroes use them to practice these rituals, drawing power from them as centuries of other worshipers have done before them, and in order to provide power and respect to their patron and the other gods.

Theology, on the other hand, is big-picture stuff; it contains powers that have to do with the worldview of the Hero's patron pantheon, their religion's concepts of things like how the universe is put together and functions, what forces dictate events and what place mortals, gods, and the Hero themself have in the grand scheme of things. These powers are likely to be about harnessing universal forces and respecting a given religion and pantheon's understanding of and interaction with the cosmos.

On a mechanical level, the new interconnected Ritual and Theology are attached to Divinity, and their powers support and enhance its Blessings. Oh, there are certainly Ritual and Theology powers that do unique things on their own and don't require Divinity to be awesome, but having the whole suite is always better than having only one path; for example, Theology often includes powers that make it possible to use Divinity powers more often or more effectively, allowing those who have both to not only have more different Blessings but also allowing Theology to act as a "battery" for Divinity to make it better than it could be on its own. Ritual tends to provide alternative options - ways you could alter Divinity's powers for special circumstances, or Blessings that make Divinity's options have a wider range, again making the combination of the two give a Hero more neat stuff to do than having just one.


Of course, you can have just one, and that's totally good, too. Some players may not be interested in paying much attention to Devotionals beyond the ones they automatically get for gaining Archetypes, and they can still use a smaller selection to great effect for their preferred skills, or choose to invest their points in something totally different that they like using more. Mythological heroes run a wide gamut from the devoutly religious and prone to displays of holy power to the independently potent and unconcerned with matters more divine than themself, and Heroes created by players have the same option when it comes to involvement with their patron's religion.

Obviously, as you can see here and in the previous post on the subject, Divinity, Ritual, and Theology aren't really "Spheres" anymore the way things like Streetwise or Thunder are, since they aren't rolled and don't have a 1-10 dot rating, so they may not have that label in the final book. But they do have the same spiritual "feel" - each set of Blessings is intentionally designed around those three concepts and hopefully provides coherent paths of advancement, even if they don't have those names. Heroes who go up the Theology track on the right side of the trees should have powers that have more to do with religious concepts and ideals versus Heroes who go up the Ritual track having powers centered around rites and practices and Heroes going up the Divinity track having power based on becoming more potent and divine in their own right.

So, you know, mix and match according to your character's taste!

10 comments:

  1. Okay, after doing a lot of searching and a bit of luck I've found at least a rough description of everything on the Norse sheet except olrumar. what the hell does that word mean?

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    1. "Ölrumar" could be loosely translated as "rune-power" or "rune-magic". :) From "Öl", meaning "luck or power", and "runar/rumar", meaning "rune".

      The M spelling is more common in old English texts, but we may change it to the older Norse N spelling to avoid confusion such as yours. Thanks!

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  2. So the setup, it seems, is one Blessing apiece for Mortal tier, 4/3 for Immortal, and 3/2 for Divine. Interesting.

    I'm intrigued in a "that just raises further questions" way

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    1. To be precise, Divinity gets 3/4/1, and the other two tracks get 2/3/1. But yeah, that's about it!

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    2. Indeed. I just had difficulty phrasing it so it'd be understood.

      So, 20 total powers. 2 Scion PSPs. All I need is a clearer picture of how Theology works (like, I've read the description but I don't think I'll understand until I see it in a) and I can start brainstorming other Pantheons

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    3. It seems like the opposite actually...3/2 for Mortal tier, 4/3 for Immortal and 1 apiece for Divine...assuming you go UP the tree and not down, which is my assumption based on the Hindu Domain, since the more concepts of Averavatara and Dharma etc. are on the bottom.

      As for Theology, I'll hazard a guess that it deals with those parts of a Pantheon's cosmos that are, for lack of a better term, universal, and not limited to Divinity. For example, only Gods in Hindu myth take Avatara and have Vahana, but anyone, mortal or divine, must follow Dharma and has the potential to achieve Moksha. Similarly for the Greeks, Theology deals with Moira and the forces of fate that are beyond most Gods. It'll be easier to confirm my pet theory once the Egyptians are spoiled...I'd wager that the multi-faceted soul thing they have going on is Theology, since everything in Egyptian myth has a multi-part soul, not just Gods.

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    4. I'm going to have to slam my head against a wall for a while now.

      Thanks Samudra, for pointing out that I was reading these upside down the whole time.

      It's obvious now that it's been pointed out. And no, Anne's clarification, which again is obvious in retrospect, didn't help me.

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  3. That Hindu Domain is making me drool...it looks amazing guys, and I cannot tell you enough how much I love that Vahana are finally in the game :D

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    1. And i can't wait to see how Fylgja is incorporated! I always wanted my nordic characters to have one!!! xD

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