|Scions of Chaos from Majesty: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim ©2000 MicroProse|
Now that I have established the setting, and created an interesting racial group, the next step I wanted to take with it was to create some religious orders.
I actually don't have issues with the Cleric as a class; they're fine... So long as Paladins don't steal their role and their thunder the way they did in 3.5 and onward... But I always thought it an odd thing thatthey didn't differ more. The variant priests in the AD&D Deities & Demigods was my go-to solution for this problem in highschool. The mix of Domains and Prestige Classes in 3e also worked alright, but I feel they needed to do more to alter the base class, not just add to it.
In The Drowned World, mystery cults and holy orders are much more unique in their design and purpose. I want each religion to come with a unique class for its most devout. (The Stonespeakers from the last article would fit here, too.)
I always thought that a god of thievery should be - well - Thieves. I wanted a holy order was designed to steal something specific for their gods. Ones that would use a mix of magical powers and thief skills to do so. The Braid were my answer to this and an odd combo: Thief-exorcists who hunt down demonic artifacts for destruction. To keep their operations low profile, they commit other crimes, pardoned by their gods.
An order of thieves that have given themselves over to the Seven Lords of Shadow, these rogues can become invisible, climb impossible walls, and change into cats as needed to carry out the thefts on artifacts
Few know that The Braid are charged specifically to hunt the Atmor, demon-possessed Weapons that are powerful, but often possess mortals who use them recklessly. The Braid collect Atmor, then return them to their order to be exercised and the Morzan demon within cast into the void. All other heists conducted by these thieves serve as a cover for their true purpose.
Thief Skills: A Braid has a 1 in 6 chance of Open Locks, Find & Disarm Traps, Climb Walls, Move Silently, Hide in Shadows, Pick Pockets, or Hear Noise. They may distribute 4 extra points out of six (to a maximum of 5 in 6 in any skill) in any skills. Every level after first up to thirteenth they may add another 2 points across their skills.
Magic Sense: A Braid can use detect magic. detect evil, and analyze once per day each.
Cat Shape: Braids are taught the art of transforming themselves into housecats. If they take any damage while in this form they instantly revert to their human form. Their equipment is subsumed when they are in this form and they cannot use magic items or benefit from them. They can speak as a cat.
Weird Stride: Once per day a braid can grant themselves the ability to walk on walls and ceilings for 3 turns. They experience gravity as always pulling toward whatever surface their feet are touching.
Invisibility: Once per day, after a Braid has successfully hidden in shadows they may choose to become invisible, so long as they remain in dim light (magical light, bonfires, beacon lanterns, or daylight will deactivate this power.) They remain visible until; they attack, use a magical power or item, pick an object up, or are exposed to daylight.
I wanted the most familiar role for clerics in TTRPGs to come with some unique flavor. Thus the spellcasting healer becomes a rare human-angel hybrid that feels more like a biblically accurate angel, or one from Madeline L'Engle's A Wind at the Door than a man. I even gave them a terrible Gaze like something out of the Old Testament. There's a reason every time someone is visited by an Angel they have to be told "be not afraid. "
The Gliff have the only spell list in the Drowned World with healing in it... and it is very limited, Raising the Dead, in particular has a terrible cost. This is a big part of my overall experience design: I am handing players Characters with a lot of strange abilities at low levels; you are going to need to use them intelligently and creatively to survive.
The Gliff are descended from heretics of the priesthood of Runa during the Deluge. Horrified at what their goddess’ grief had wrought, they chose to become inhuman things - merging themselves with the dying remnants of her angels, so that they could save human lives from their Goddess’ wrath. The Gliff are Inky black beings dozens of whose eyes open and close all over their person and who communicate by luminous runes that appear on their flesh. When they speak, they can do so only in whispers. They are healers and surgeons without peer.
- Creatures with 3 HD or less are knocked unconscious for 3d4 rounds. When they wake up they are blind for 2d4 rounds, and stunned for 1d4 ronds.
- Creatures with 4 or 5 HD are Blinded for 1d4 rounds and stunned for 1 round.
- Creatures with 6 or more HD are stunned for 1 round.
Sacrifice: A Gliff my sacrifice itself to raise another creature of equal or lower HD from the dead. The GM will not tell the Player if a potential target has the correct number of HD.
Gliff Spells Known
Many years ago, I worked as a research assistant for a PhD candidate in Social Work who was trying to figure out how to design mental Healthcare programs for Muslim immigrants in the U.K..Which required me to learn a lot about traditional methods of care in Islamic countries. Namely about Sufis and Holy Hermits.
Generally, trauma In Islamic nations before the 1960s was handled three ways: ritual service prescribed by your local mullah (charity, amulets, animal sacrifice, recitation of the Quran, or cleansing,) going into the service of a Sufi mystic (a.k.a. a Dervish or a Pir) to learn meditation and seek personal gnosis, or, in extreme cases, you would dissociate from your old identity, take a few things, and wander into the wilderness in hopes that God would provide you food, shelter, and eventually a sign.
The Sufis were of particular interest to us, because during our research (in the 90s and 00s,) they already had a presence in England and were offering a parallel means of getting mental Healthcare. Sufis fascinated me; they often became Sufis by being chosen by their own Pir, usually because they were struggling with deep, life altering trauma. Becoming a Sufi, meant learning not just meditation and rituals, but ceremonial songs, dances, in some orders even juggling or swordsmanship. They would give up their whole life before to become advice-givers, dancers, and singers in service to God.
At the same time as I was doing this work, I was also reading a lot of modern mysrics like Hakim Bey and Igor Kalinauskas. Kalinauskas, a Baltic mystic suggested a similar, but very European approach to becoming a mystic and leaving trauma and toxic life situations behind. He recommended becoming God's Jesters: intentionally playing fools, and learning performing arts to give one's self a personal goal, express pain artistically, and eventually to forget it in laughter. Which will make the world I general a better place.
I wanted to blend the Sufi, and God's Jester with the idea of God's of fate and luck. To create an order of Clerics who wear masks, leave everything behind, and trust to fate and chance. They have a very simple magical knack for being lucky, fighting prowess that is pure dumb luck, and the Thief skills only that are associated with needing to gamble or escape a bad situation. Thus gave me The Fortunate, part Sufi, part Mystic, part clown.
For some people a single painful tragedy - a stroke of bad luck that they had no control over - leaves them with nowhere to go. These people put on holy masks and become wandering pilgrims in the service of the luck goddess Entrypta. They are called “The Fortunate.”
They wander performing and gambling for food and favors. They trust that the favors they trade for will give them purpose and let them carry out Entrypta’s divine plan. Over time they learn to bend luck itself… although their goddess punishes those who use that power to cheat.
Fool’s Fortune: A Fortunate gets a +1 bonus to AC and Saving throws at 1st level. It increases by an additional +1 at 4th, 8th, 12th, and 16th level at 6th and 10th level.
Thief Skills: A Fortunate has a 1 in 6 chance of Open Locks, Find & Disarm Traps, Climb Walls, Move Silently, Hide in Shadows, Pick Pockets, or Hear Noise. They may distribute 4 extra points out of six (to a maximum of 5 in 6 in any skill) in any skills. Every level after first up to thirteenth they may add another 2 points across their skills.
Mighty Deeds: Thanks to stunning luck, rather than skill, A Fortunate can attempt to trip, blind, stun, disarm, push, reposition, etc. an enemy each time they attack. The Player describes the result they hope to gain and rolls the Mighty Deed die indicated by their level. On a 4+ they achieve their aim. Unlike other classes, this die progresses very slowly, and cannot be used to improve attack or damage rolls.
Augury: Starting at 3rd level, a Fortunate may perform an augury once per day as if they were a cleric of equal level. They gain an additional augury per day