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Doctor Agenda

Basic Gods

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I've started a Mythic Urban Fantasy game starting at a very low point level, but the idea is for the characters to eventually become godlings. In trying to figure out the 'minimum qualifications' to be a credible deity, my impression is that the bar is fairly low. Most gods don't even seem to be truly ageless, there are plenty of examples of pantheons who rely on a special food or drink to remain young or have a god or goddess of youth in the pantheon who could be responsible for the longevity of their compatriots...perhaps gods can't die of old age, but continued youth doesn't seem to be something they can take for granted. Marduk is portrayed as eventually getting old, and that seems to be the fate of some of the Egyptian gods.

 

It's not basic for a god to be invulnerable or to re-grow lost limbs and organs...Prometheus's liver regeneration seems to have been part of his punishment, because Tyr and Nuada both have to do without their lost hands (though Nuada's is eventually replaced) and Hephaestus remains lame throughout his life. Ares is wounded by a mortal and flees the battle.

 

On the other hand, gods don't seem to get sick, or bleed profusely. They can impress mortals with a glance. They can appear and vanish at will. They can sometimes hear prayers and seem to be capable of knowing what's going on around their shrines and statues. All but the least of them (like nymphs) seem to have dominion over, or are at least strongly associated with, some aspect of reality.

 

Am I missing something every proper god must have?

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I'm going to offer you a text file which may provide some guidelines. When the late great Aaron Allston wrote his classic Mythic Greece: The Age of Heroes source book for the first edition of Fantasy Hero, he included detailed stats and powers for a "basic god" with the abilities common to all gods from Classical Greek legend. A later errata file for the book, which Mr. Allston posted for free to various sources, also updated the earlier game stats from the book to Fourth Edition HERO. You'll find that file attached below. The material relating to gods starts about two-thirds of the way through the file, at "Character Statistics Of The Basic God."

MG-FIX11.TXT

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That's very helpful, especially in 'working backwards' to something even more basic. Not quite animism or Shinto where every rock has a little god responsible for it or living in it (though I'm thinking of that being the case for most minor NPC 'gods'), and the characters would be physical gods rather than pure spirits. I've already given the PCs the ability to physically travel into the spirit world, which let's them act as spirits for most intents and purposes. They can observe the physical world from the spirit world, and mysteriously appear and vanish with that power (not when observed by mundanes or electronic devices -1/2). They have trouble crossing thresholds or walking through permanent structures, but those are features of the Spirit World rather than Limitations.

 

For the next step, I'm thinking Full Life Support, including Longevity with a -1 Limitation that it only staves off death and permanent damage. They'll suffocate but be revivable without permanent brain damage, get frostbite but not have to have an amputation, they can get old (and be affected by aging attacks) but they stop aging before they get so old they would die. That kind of thing. So they'll still be wanting some Ambrosia or Peaches of Immortality or the like to stay young and healthy.  

 

Maybe next some kind of abillity to receive mental messages (prayers) directed at them. Limited Telepathy is an option, but I think a Detect might be the way to go. It would maybe be like static or background music unless they focus and try to 'hear' a particular prayer. At first it might just be used for them to communicate with each other, and I might require the message to be fervent and/or repeated over and over.

 

I know I'm kind of 'typing out loud', but I'm interested in any thoughts on the matter, especially with the prayer thing. It isn't a superhero game, though it may evolve to that level, right now they're fairly ordinary people with one extraordinary power, and for the time being I don't want them to be powerhouses. In this setting, just getting to spend XP at the rate they're getting it is practically a super power, and I only let them have one per session before they got their 'Fading' power. Maybe if the game gets to the point where it makes sense for them to start being gods OF something, but right now, no one is even up to 50 points total.  

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Here's one attempt at writing up the "hears prayers" ability.

 

Hears Prayers: (Total: 97 Active Cost, 30 Real Cost) Mind Link , One Specific Mind: Own, No LOS Needed (15 Active Points); Costs Endurance (-1/2), Requires A Roll (PS roll, -1 per 5 Active Points modifier; Can choose which of two rolls to make from use to use; -1/2), Stops Working If Knocked Out (-1/4) (Real Cost: 7) <b>plus</b> Usable Simultaneously (all targets standing within 10 meters of Grantor; +1), Grantor can only grant the power to others for up to 15 Active Points of Mind Link, Own Mind, Persistent (+1/4), Inherent (+1/4), Area Of Effect (4m Radius; +1/4), Reduced Endurance (0 END; +1/2), Trigger (Activating the Trigger is an Action that takes no time, Trigger resets automatically, immediately after it activates, Character does not control activation of personal Trigger; +3/4), Transdimensional (Related Group of Dimensions; +3/4), MegaScale (1m = 10,000 km; +2), Cannot alter scale (-1/4) (82 Active Points); No Conscious Control (-2), Always On (-1/2) (Real Cost: 23)

 

maybe there's a better way to do this....

 

edit: maybe not better, but I found another way I wrote it up some years ago

 

54 Hear Prayers: Detect A Class Of Things: Prayers, Oaths, any use of any Name by which the God is known 18- (Hearing Group), Discriminatory, Analyze, Increased Arc Of Perception (360 Degrees), Perceive into a related group of dimensions, Targeting, Telescopic: +5, Tracking, Transmit (Can choose to acknowledge a prayer and answer directly)

 

 

Here is a link to a relevant thread

 

http://www.herogames.com/forums/topic/67350-how-would-you-stat-up-gods-in-hero-system/?hl=%2Bstat+%2Bgods

 

Lucius Alexander

 

God of Palindromedaries

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A general rule of thumb to consider is that if the power write-up of a single ability fills up a third of an iPad's screen, then it is way over-specified and you're probably not letting sfx do enough of the heavy lifting for you in terms of the minutiae.

 

It's odd. I rarely saw this problem pop up during the game's first four editions...not sure why I see so much of it nowadays. I can't help but look at modern villain/NPC write-ups with an accusatory glare.

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I think Lucius touches on the most important point here, which is th relationship between the god(lings) and their followers. Traditional mythos often depict gods as deriving power from (or even being dependant on) the faith/belief of the faithful. That may or may not fit with your campaign or course, but it's something you'll want to decide.

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One approach is to let gods draw power from a specific source. It does not have to be worshippers - it could be a specific strange looking rock or a stream. Those things are low maintenance (unlike worshippers) but they are also subject to destruction, poisoning or alteration. And unlike worshippers, they are fixed in extent.

 

Exactly what "drawing power" means is up to the GM, but one possibility is a cosmic VPP that you can only use for specific powers: for example, teleport to travel to your power source, clairsentience to see and hear the area around it, and powers associated with it (durability for stone, the ability to change form for water, etc). The first two powers take care of the "hearing prayers" issue - a god or godling can always choose to see and hear what's happening at their source of power, and snoop mentally on what people there are thinking, if their VPP is big enough. If they draw prayer from worship, they can choose to check out what their worshippers are doing and maybe answer a prayer or two with the powers they (or their friends: why do you think deities form pantheons?) have to hand. I'd be inclined to make the VPP start small, and geometrically increase proportional to the size, class or rarity of the power source. So the god/spirit of a weird shaped rock might get a 5 point VPP. The god/spirit of the valley of weird shaped rocks, a 10 point VPP, the god/spirit of a mountain a 20 point VPP, the god of the region, a 40 point VPP, etc. A particularly sacred mountain dotted with temples would generate more than one without.

Such a VPP would be "free" but have the limitation "independant". Destroy the wierd-shaped rock and the spirit will leave. Use the sacred stream as a waste dump, ditto. Kill the worshippers and burn the church, and the power drawn from there (and the ability to see and manifest there) is lost, and so on. My initial thought - just riffing here - is that "sacredness": a sense of awe - is what is required to generate power. It's why a weird stone, and a dramatic landscape attracts/generates power while an ordinary stone and a parking lot don't. It's why worshippers write sacred, uplifting music and build and decorate awe-inspiring places of worship.

 

Cheers, Mark

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Crossposted

 

I'm probably butchering this quote from Roger Zelazny. "What does it mean, to be a god? Not immortality; the lowliest laborer in the fields may aspire to mere continuity of existence. Is it then the cultivation of an Aspect? No. Any competent hypnotist can play games with the self image. Is it then the raising up of an Attribute? Of course not. I can design a machine more powerful and accurate than any faculty a man may cultivate. Being a god is being able to recognize within one’s self these things that are important, and then to strike the single note that brings them into alignment with everything else that exists. Then, beyond morals or logic or esthetics, one is wind or fire, the sea, the mountains, rain, the sun or the stars, the flight of an arrow, the end of a day, the clasp of love. One rules through one’s ruling passions. Those who look upon gods then say, without even knowing their names, ‘He is Fire. She is Dance. He is Destruction. She is Love.’"

 

Lucius Alexander

 

What does it mean, to be a palindromedary?

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Thanks so much,(especially for the link, Luciius, I used up most of my 'likes' for the day there). "How to hear prayers?' is exactly where we're at, now (after a few months diversion into the MSH RPG, for nostalgia and kicks), and I'm crossing it with an old setting of mine I think of as 'Urban Fantasy Champions'. The prayers thing really helps distinguish them from superheroes (plus they're still about 150 XP short of being equal to one). I can see there are issues with being able to process the input of all those prayers, It seems the second version has the dynamic of being able to 'get a sense' of what kinds of prayers people are making, and possibly noticing one that stands out as different. If they hear lots of people praying for help at once, they know their followers are in trouble.

 

I was also considering them paying points for their followers and giving the followers the ability to 'get their prayers through'.

 

 

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With the spirit of sharing I've observed from others, here is a write-up of Set that I used in my Urban Fantasy Champions game (the heroes had to travel the corners of the earth with Set right behind to establish the banishing spell to get rid of him). It draws heavily on the ICE Egypt book.

 

Set the Destroyer

 

Value    Char     Base     Cost     Characteristics: 230      Abilities: 663    Total: 893

45        STR     10        35        Base: 700         Disadvantages: 100       XP: 93

23        DEX    10        39        Points   Disadvantage    Ranking: Meta 

30        CON   10        40        15        DF: Godly Aura, Terrifying Mien

17        BOD    10        14        15        Hunted 11- by Horus the Avenger

23        INT      10        13        15        Hunted 8- by Forces of Light

23        EGO    10        26        5          Phys Lim: Can’t Regrow Parts lost to Divine Attack

40        PRE     10        30        10        Psych Lim: Hates Horus and Osiris and Isis

12        COM   10        1          15        Psych Lim: Megalomaniac

15        PD       9          6          15        Psych Lim: Murderous

15        ED       6          9          15        Psych Lim: Seeks to Overthrow Ma’at

5          SPD     3.3       17                               

15        REC     15        0         

60        END    60        0         

55        STN     55        0          Description: 6’9”, 355 lbs, red hair, red eyes, pale skin.

Cost     Ability                         

5          AK: Ancient Egypt 14-; PS: God of Chaos and Storms 14-, TF: Chariots

4          AK: Africa 14-, AK: Desert 14-

8          Knowledge Skills: Ancient Egypt 14-, Arcane & Occult Lore 14-, Folklore & Mythology 14-, Ritual Magic 14-

6          Languages: Arabic (Complete), Coptic (Fluent), and English (Complete)

9          Linguist, Scholar, Traveler

3          Interrogation 17-

15        Magic Skill 20-

30        Overall Skill Levels: +3

3          Persuasion 17-

10        Survival (desert) 18-

1          Tactics 8-

4          WF: Common Melee and Missile Weapons

20        Deific Body: 20 points of Power Defense

20        Deific Mind: 20 points of Mental Defense; 25 points with EGO 23

15        Elemental Control: Desert God

15        a) Divine Composition: Damage Negation x3 vs. Physical and Energy

15        B) Divine Durability: 10rPD/10rED Armor (25 PD/25 ED)

15        c) Divine Immunities: LS-Immunity to Aging, Disease, and Poison; Safe vs. Cold, Heat, Pressure Extremes, and Radiation; can Breathe Water, needs less food/water

15        d) Divine Stature: Growth x4 at END 0 (+1/2): STR 65, BOD 21, STN 59, -4” KB, -2 DCV, +2 PER

15        Mystic Senses: Nightvision, Sense Magic by Sight, See and Hear Spirits

35        Regeneration: 1 BOD per Turn with Regrow Limbs and Resurrection

400      VPP: 200-point Pool, 100-point Control Cost, Cosmic (+2); Magic Only (-1/4), Skill Roll required if BOD taken at -1 per point of BOD taken (-1/4)

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Pardon the smiley face above, the site likes to change a 'b' followed by a ')' into that, apparently.

 

This version of Set (5.25 Edition) may seem low-powered (and low defense) for a superhero game, but with the VPP, he was terrifying. If the heroes had actually started to get the better of him, he had only to vanish, heal himself, and return out of nowhere at full power. If they had wounded him, he would probably have focused on getting away and retaliated indirectly, maybe by summoning an avatar of himself to do the fighting or devastating the region with powerful storms or plagues of scorpions or venomous serpents.

 

Compared to the Tezcatlipoca writeup, he is very reliant on the VPP for everything: observing the mortal world, hearing prayers, attack and defense and mobility. But I'm of the opinion that pagan gods were often envisioned as not infinitely beyond mortals. More like 'powerful and in charge'.

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Thanks so much,(especially for the link, Luciius, I used up most of my 'likes' for the day there). "How to hear prayers?' is exactly where we're at, now (after a few months diversion into the MSH RPG, for nostalgia and kicks), and I'm crossing it with an old setting of mine I think of as 'Urban Fantasy Champions'. The prayers thing really helps distinguish them from superheroes (plus they're still about 150 XP short of being equal to one). I can see there are issues with being able to process the input of all those prayers, It seems the second version has the dynamic of being able to 'get a sense' of what kinds of prayers people are making, and possibly noticing one that stands out as different. If they hear lots of people praying for help at once, they know their followers are in trouble.

 

I was also considering them paying points for their followers and giving the followers the ability to 'get their prayers through'.

I dunno...I think I would build it off of Danger Sense, mystic yadda, yadda Lim: "Fervent" or "Only believers, etc...?

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A Danger Sense for when your followers are in trouble? That might have just the right feel, especially at their current low power level (compared to superheroes, compared to regular people, they're mysterious and powerful beings). How much more detail do you really need than that, unless you're in the business of handing out ponies?

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Sure, if the Danger Sense goes off, the God starts to make inquiries of proxies, expand their senses, etc.

And it helps explain why not all prayers get answered (Gawd blew the roll)

 

In a similar vein I like to build supernatural powers that run off of "faith" So a believer can cast out foul things, as long as Belief is pure. So the actual "prayer" is just the "spell" being cast...

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With the spirit of sharing I've observed from others, here is a write-up of Set that I used in my Urban Fantasy Champions game (the heroes had to travel the corners of the earth with Set right behind to establish the banishing spell to get rid of him). It draws heavily on the ICE Egypt book.

 

Very nice! Do you have this in the form of a Hero Designer file, perhaps? :winkgrin:

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Very nice! Do you have this in the form of a Hero Designer file, perhaps? :winkgrin:

Thanks! Too much of a late adopter, I suppose. Or house rules guy. Still putting things in Word. Some of my players use Hero Designer, but I'm always having to correct it because it doesn't understand that I want to use 4th Ed. Regeneration with 5th Ed. modifiers and Damage Negation and VPP rules from 6th Ed.

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There's the Belldandy test.  Twice perform a miracle at least as hard as finding comfortable, clean, and well-maintained accomodation on a university student budget.  If you can do that you're a god(ess).

 

Edit:  And she did that in a major Japanese city.  So if you can do something that impressive twice, definitely Deific.

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For what it's worth, here's my Divine Template for the Celestial Elements of Harmony:
 

Cost Ability
10 +10 STR
6 +3 DEX
3 +3 CON
3 +3 INT
3 +3 EGO
5 +5 PRE
5 +1 OCV
5 +1DCV
3 +1 OMCV
3 +1 DMCV
10 +1 SPD
2 +2 PD
1 +1 ED
3 +3 REC
2 +6 END
4 +7 STUN
120 Domain Powers:  Variable Power Pool, 60 base + 60 control cost, Powers Can Be Changed As A Zero-Phase Action (+1), No Skill Roll Required (+1); 
Limited Special Effects (domain-based powers only; -½)
17 Inspire:  Aid PRE 2d6, Delayed Fade Rate (points fade at the rate of 5 per Minute; +1),Area Of Effect (16 2m 
Areas; Voice Range; +1), Selective (+¼); Extra Time (Full Phase, -½), Incantations (-¼), Only to Aid Others (-½)
60 Divine Aura:  Physical and Energy Damage Reduction, Resistant, 50%
10 Divine Aura:  Power Defense (10 points)
32 Can Travel The Celestial And Mortal Realms At Will: Extra-Dimensional Movement (Related Group of Dimensions, Any Location corresponding to current 
physical location)
5 Divine Heritage:  LS  (Longevity: Immortal)
10 Divine Heritage:  LS  (Immunity All terrestrial poisons; Immunity: All terrestrial diseases)
6 Divine Senses:  +2 PER with all Sense Groups
30 Assume "Mortal" Form:  Shape Shift  (Sight, Hearing, Smell/Taste and Touch Groups), Instant Change, Makeover
3 Divine Beauty:  Striking Appearance (+1/+1d6)
24 Divine Grace:  +2 Overall
20 Skill In Battle:  +2 with All Attacks

Total Cost Of Template:  399

Value Complications
15 Distinctive Features:  Divine Aura (Concealable; Always 
Noticed and Causes Major Reaction; Detectable By  Commonly-Used Senses)
5 Enraged:  action that would incur divine wrath (Uncommon), go 8-, recover 14-
10 Hunted:  Assorted Enemies (Chrysalis, Discord, Sombra, Tirek) Infrequently (As Pow; Harshly Punish)
5 Vulnerability:  1 ½ x effect from attacks that run contrary to the Avatar’s domain (Uncommon)

Total Value Of Template Complications:  30

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