Gods, Ascension, and Abilities


I do not intend gods to take active roles in this setting. They are too powerful to let players RP freely, yet restricting them to staff means gods will by necessity be downplayed due to the many demands on staff time. In short, gods cannot both be restricted and also be actively engaged in the game on a regular basis.

Instead, I would like to set all divinity outside the game world, and simply state that gods may not act directly upon the world; rather, they must use people as their hands. Their followers are their agents and instruments. By stipulating this, while it removes the awe and terror of divinity from threads, the door is opened for PCs to stand in their steads, to effect their wills, to take actions according to (their best understanding of) divine instruction. Thus, PCs remain the stars of the show, even when divinity is involved.

I also want to structure this in such a way that PCs 'draw closer' to their gods with time and are directly rewarded for living according to the 'way' of their god. I am also thinking this offers an excellent opportunity for playing with tropes… and allowing players to help build the world.

Building all this out is going to be difficult, but I think crowdsourcing it — allowing players to contribute new gods and paths, under supervision — will help with that.

Affinity and Ascension

Consider that each god embodies an 'archetype'. They are the epitome of principles that can be expressed through lifestyle. Thus, there might be a Noble Hero, a Mystic Sage, a Clever Tinkerer… as long as a given concept is distinct from others that already exist and a path can be devised that shapes PCs into embodying its principles, a divinity can be created for it.

The progression along any given path is:

Aspect: Aspects are behavioral traits and principles, things like "helps anyone in need" or "always wants to know more", which are more binding than mere opinions. They may be positive, negative, or mixed blessings. They are not personality traits per se, but are fundamentally essential to the identity of the character. Aspects cannot be retracted, refused, ignored, or set aside; once a character formally acquires an Aspect, they have it for life. The idea is that, as happens with expertise for skills, players will 'collect' Aspects over time and become more like the divinity they worship, conforming to the path/lifestyle that divinity embodies. (If they choose to progress; progression is never required.)

One Aspect may contribute to multiple paths. Any player may collect any Aspects; simply having an Aspect does not link a character to a divinity. However, the only paths a player can progress along are those they already have an Aspect for. It's also possible some Aspects will be mutually exclusive with some paths; for example, you can't have "revels in cruelty" and expect to become a Noble Hero…

I imagine that players can request additional Aspects from a Moderator, with thread evidence that their PC is living the appropriate behaviors. I don't think I want Storytellers or Moderators to make a habit of handing out Aspects unasked, because Aspects should be essential components of a character's identity.

Awakened: Characters who are 'Awakened' have been noticed by a divinity and are susceptible to being Called to do that divinity's work. That said, Calls for an Awakened are relatively few and minor in scope; they can be thought of as apprentice jobs, baby steps on the path. The god can 'speak' to the Awakened through dreams; however, dreams are by their very nature symbolic, murky, and highly subject to misinterpretation. (Thus, PCs are free to pursue whatever they like 'on the order of their god'… as well as mods using this to drive plots.)

To become Awakened, a PC must already have one Aspect of the appropriate path. They will receive a special Ability according to their path. I imagine that in addition to PC request and a successful modded Trial, Awakening may also be granted at Storyteller discretion if appropriate (i.e. players can be surprised with it during modded Quests or maybe even some Events).

No one may be Awakened in conflicting paths or by deities in opposition to one another. I am on the fence for whether people should be allowed to Awaken in two related paths (e.g. a heroic path and a healer path), kind of leaning towards 'yes'. I think it could be interesting to allow people to mix up abilities from more than one path. More than two, though, will not be allowed, so that players don't try to go around collecting too many powers without committing to a path.

Aspirant: For a PC to arise to Aspirant, they have to actually pursue increasing affinity with their path; this rank can only be obtained from a successful Trial. Someone who becomes an Aspirant most likely is either very devoted, or has their eyes set on apotheosis — becoming divine themselves. (Which, yes, I do want to be a possibility… after a fashion.)

Aspirants either must already have or will receive a second Aspect for their path. Similarly, they gain a second Ability, unless they already have one from a second Awakening. Aspirants should be taking a much more active role as their divinity's hands in the world, Called to more involved tasks of greater scope, although they are still limited to communicating via dreams.

Avatar: These characters are essentially the representatives of gods in the world, ambassadors with the authority to speak for their gods, second to no one on their path. Again, this level can only be reached through a successful Trial. Avatars get a third Ability appropriate to their path, but they also receive a third Aspect, which in principle adds constraints to their behaviors, binding a character more tightly to their archetype. Avatars also gain a direct, soulscape-level connection to their patron divinity, which allows at least somewhat less-ambiguous communication.

Archetype: Archetypes are the gods themselves. In theory, the next step up from Avatar is to become divine and take a place among the gods; however, no player will ever actually apothesize, not least because it would be the end of their career as a PC. However, I would like to allow PCs to take an additional Trial as if they could make that ascent. Provided they succeed, the patron god of their path will then be replaced with an 'echo' of the PC, a revised archetype inspired by their particular history and circumstances. The PC continues as an Avatar, but they have left a (potentially) lasting mark upon the game, and there will also be follow-on repercussions for other PCs of the same path.

There may also be opportunity here for branching off and founding a new, related path, depending on circumstances and how crowded the system already is.


For something of a toy example, pretend that Caiyha was an Archetype, exemplifying something along the lines of 'harmony and balance in nature'. It could be called the 'Path of Wilderness' 'Path of Untamed Harmony', or something to that effect.

Aspects for this path might include things like:

  • Respects Life — Recognizes that all life has a role to fill, be it large or small. Does not kill indiscriminately or when unwarranted.
  • Respects Death — Recognizes that death is a necessity, removing the old, sick, and weak to make room for the new. Does not grieve an appropriate, fitting end to life.
  • Affinity for Nature — Strongly prefers wilderness over civilization. Uncomfortable within walls and departs them as soon as possible. Not enamored of societal or technological trappings.
  • Action over Words — Socially reserved, says little, acts as necessary and expects others to do the same.

And abilities for the path might look like:

  • Nourishing Touch - promoting growth and fecundity (e.g. improving plant health, aiding sickly young animals)
  • Entropic Touch - aging or promoting death (e.g. of invasive weeds, diseased animals)
  • Cleansing - environmental purification (e.g. of soil, water)
  • Beast Communion - animal communication
  • Green Communion - plant communication

With appropriate limits specified, of course. No path-granted abilities really should be large in scope; they should be tools that help the character do their god's work, not things that reshape the land or otherwise break the game.

There must be three Aspects and three Abilities for every path; ideally, at least a couple more than that so that PCs have some room to mix-and-match and to come at it from different angles.


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