Sunday, February 18, 2018

Mechanics Talk: Divine Favors

Okay, Divine Favors haven't gotten much discussion, and that leaves a hole in the mechanical landscape. So let's talk about them!

Divine Favor represents very literal benefits or gifts given to a Hero as a result of their awesomeness; often, they come from the Hero's divine patron, although they might also be bestowed by other authority figures, gained as a result of their adventures, or even assigned to them by the impressed public. In myths and other heroic stories, Divine Favor are the tools that help Heroes succeed in their aims; magical amulets that protect them, or sacred weapons that they wield in service of their cause, or prophecies that foretell their coming, or guardian spirits who never let them down. As in most myths, Heroes in HJ don't start with Divine Favor when they first hear the call to adventure, but they receive it once they are on their journey, providing them with the help or renown they need.

Divine Favors are permanent once you get them, but you only get them once in a great while, so they're a big deal and exciting when they happen. There are several kinds of Divine Favor, so here's a quick overview of them!

Divine Heritage

Divine Heritage is exactly what it sounds like; your Hero discovers that they literally have the blood of their divine patron in their veins, and it enables them to do and be things they otherwise wouldn't have. Mechanically speaking, this means that the Hero is more attuned to the things their divine patron is good at - they have a little piece of them, after all - and therefore they have more options for using a particular skillset or set of powers that their patron does, becoming able to spend extra resources on it that others can't. Examples of Heroes discovering their divine heritage in myth and pop culture include Wonder Woman realizing that she is the Godkiller, Starlord realizing that his father wasn't a human being after all, and of course literally every Greek Hero ever who one day woke up and was informed that Zeus was their dad and there was a giant monster rampaging around trying to kill them as a result.

Enchanted Object

Enchanted Objects can be any kind of magical, supernatural, or just special item that a Hero has that helps them out; protective amulets, magic rings, a potion that never runs dry, and so forth. Since the item is powerful in its own right, it allows a Hero to use it to activate a Blessing without having to pay for it, even one they don't have access to themself; it won't have as powerful an effect as if a Hero skilled in that thing had performed the Blessing on their own, but it's a great option for giving a Hero a little power they don't normally have, or a panic button if they're too dry of resources to pull any more tricks out of their own hat. Examples of enchanted object Divine Favor in myth and pop culture include the Phial of Galadriel in The Lord of the Rings, Susan's hunting horn in The Chronicles of Narnia, or Andvaranaut, the magic ring from Norse mythology.

Foretold Fate

Foretold Fate means that a Hero is the subject of a prophecy - someone, somewhere, with some kind of spiritual clout, foresaw that they'd do something impressive and therefore they now have the power of their future fate behind them. Sometimes that means NPCs or the other Heroes will also know about them or have expectations about them, and sometimes it just means the invisible hand of Destiny is behind them, but either way, they're the Chosen One and it's a big deal. Having a prophecy about them makes Heroes more prone to doing Big Damn Things, so they can convert some of their most expensive, biggest-effect resources into others and be able to do more grand gestures than less foretold companions might. Heroes with a Foretold Fate Divine Favor in myth and pop culture include Anakin Skywalker as the Chosen One from the Star Wars films, Buffy as the Slayer from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or Kalki's foretold manifestation in Hindu mythology.

Guiding Spirit

A Guiding Spirit Divine Favor represents that the Hero has the spirit of someone subtly guiding and helping them - an ancestor or relative, often, but also possibly the spirit of a Hero from bygone days trying to help out a new generation. Having a spirit protecting or encouraging the Hero lets them sometimes call on that spirit's skills or powers in life - an ancient Hero or a representative of their ancestors briefly lends them their own powers. Heroes with a Guiding Spirit in myth and pop culture include Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender and his ability to call up past Avatars to help him, Dante in The Divine Comedy with the spirit of Vergil to guide him, or Simba in The Lion King hearing guidance from his father Mufasa.

Legendary Weapon

A Legendary Weapon is pretty straightforward: it's a weapon, it's impressive, and it often becomes a sort of signature for the character, associated with them and their legendary career. Since there are lots of kinds of legendary weapons in mythology - sure, some are for beating down the enemy, but some are symbols of authority or foci for sorcery - the Divine Favor version allows Heroes to pick one area that the weapon affects and get rerolls to rolls from that area, triggering them themselves instead of having to rely on their companions' Inspiration pools. Heroes with Legendary Weapons are common in pop culture and myth, and include Luke Skywalker with his lightsaber in Star Wars, Katniss with her specialized bow and arrows in The Hunger Games, and King Arthur with Excalibur in Arthurian legend.

Lofty Title

A non-physical Divine Favor, the Lofty Title is a designation the Hero has either inherited or earned that describes how and why they're awesome. It could be a hereditary title, like "Lord of the Far Reaches"; it could be an earned designation, like "Poet Laureate"; or it could be an appellation given to them by those who know about their exploits, like "Killer of Bear Monsters". Heroes with a Lofty Title get access to an extra Endowment they didn't already have, related to their title (so, for example, our Killer of Bear Monsters there might be able to access the Warrior Endowment when they didn't already have it, because god damn it, their job is to kill bear monsters now). Heroes in pop culture and myth with titles include Benjamin Sisko in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as the Prophet, Setanta becoming the Hound of Culainn in Irish mythology, or literally all the Time Lords on Doctor Who.

Protective Shield

A Protective Shield Divine Favor is also pretty self-explanatory, although it doesn't have to be literally a shield - it could also be a defensive weapon or an object carried around explicitly for the purposes of defense. Heroes get to use this Divine Favor to help protect those around them; they can prevent damage to their allies by swinging their protective shield around, which undoubtedly makes them popular when the shit hits the fan. Heroes with Protective Shields in pop culture and myth include Elric of Melnibone and his Shield of Chaos from the Stormbringer series, Steven's pink quartz shield from Steven Universe, or Achilles and his famous shield used in battle against Hector.

Specialized Training

The Specialized Training Divine Favor is an event rather than a physical item; it represents the Hero receiving training in a certain area that allows them to become awesome at it and that they can carry forward into all their future adventures. Every time you see a Hero do a training montage in a story, they might be receiving a Specialized Training Favor; in mechanical terms, the Hero permanently gains extra Labors to spend on the Aspect they were trained in, because they're just that badass that they can do just that much more. Heroes in pop culture and myth with Specialized Training famously include Danny in The Karate Kid, Mulan training with the Chinese army in her Disney film, or Jack from Samurai Jack repeatedly gaining skills to deal with more powerful enemies via training montages and obstacle courses.

Supernatural Familiar

A Supernatural Familiar is a companion creature - not a human being, or ever was one in most cases - that helps the Hero out or occasionally shows up and provides useful favors and help. A Hero with this Divine Favor can call their familiar once in a while to show up and use its powers on their behalf, which often includes powers the Hero themself doesn't have. Heroes in pop culture and myth with Supernatural Familiars include Sabrina from Sabrina the Teenage Witch and her cat Salem, Kitty Pryde from X-Men with her tiny dragon Lockheed, or Light Yagami from Death Note with his shinigami companion Ryuk.

There may or may not be more types of Divine Favor in the future of HJ; there are all kinds of features and items that help Heroes out. But those are our starters for now, and they're being used to exciting effect in the playtests right now!


  1. would Protective Shield also cover armor like Frodo's Mithril Shirt, or stranger blessings like in the volsunga saga/nibelungenlied when Sigurd/Siegfried bathed in dragon blood to become invulnerable?

  2. Oliver Lindholm SørensenFebruary 22, 2018 at 10:27 AM

    "every Greek Hero ever who one day woke up and was informed that Zeus was their dad and there was a giant monster rampaging around trying to kill them as a result"
    Calling Hera a giant monster is kind of rude.

    Talking of Hera, i have a character concept where she discovers Zeus' fascination with a mortal woman and commands several creatures to seduce her. A satyr manages to get her drunk and with child before Zeus turns himself into a very seductive chair or hamster or whatever and that's where my character comes into the picture. Hera takes responsibility for the existence of the child and starts pushing her around like any good divine patron would.

    Would the blood of a mythical beast like a satyr count as Divine Heritage? It's not like the child is a demigod, but there's still the blood of something else running in its veins.

    1. We would NEVER make the mistake of speaking ill of Hera.

      This particular Divine Favor only functions if you're the child of your divine patron.

      Some of the first divine favors on our list for future release are "other divine parent" and "parent is a non-human race"