Friday, 27 September 2013

Monotheism in Legend/RQ6

Now as every Gloranthaphile knows the western part of Genertela is full of Monotheists, people who believe in some variety or other of the one Invisible God whose existence was first deduced by Malkion, the First Man. I'd like to use this type of cult in Legend and RQ6, but just giving monotheist priests sorcery to play with, as they did in the MRQII Second Age material, doesn't feel right. I like the idea that Western cultures do things differently. While in Central Genertela there is magical and spiritual anarchy, in the West they are far more organised, with professional priests providing all the blessings anyone would need far more skillfully and with more oomph than the amateur practitioners of the barbarian lands.

Here is my suggestion as to how to handle it. In the notes below I will be using the terms Grimoire and Manipulation, the Legend skills, but for RQ6 just substitute the Invoke and Shaping.

Blessings (and Curses)

Monotheist communities are built around their churches. Ordinary worshipers donate magical power to magical professionals, Liturgists, to cast special sorcery spells that benefit the whole community called Blessings. These are very weak when used by just one person, but when a whole congregation gets together they can benefit many people across a wide area. The holy books of such religions are full of blessings (though in many religions the lowest clergy will learn a few by rote) and most will have a few proper sorcery spells as well. Most blessings are beneficial, but some religions also have curses, attacking spells that focus the ire of a whole congregation on one target.

To cast a Blessing the Liturgist uses his Grimoire (Holy Book) skill, just as would any other sorcery spell, and can boost its power using Manipulation as usual. But with a Blessing he can also add the Faith of his congregation to the Manipulation (see below).

Blessings last a lot longer than ordinary sorcery, 1 hour per POW point of the caster, not 1 minute, and can only be cast on people carrying the right holy symbol and the faith of the recipient can also affect the potency  of the blessing. Curses also have the extended duration, but can usually be cast on anyone.

Faith and the Chain of Reverence

A Liturgist leading a congregation adds 10% of his worshipers Grimoire skill in the appropriate book to his/her manipulation; this is their Faith score.

Father Umphred has Grimoire (Abiding Book) 60% and Manipulation 50%, but with his congregation of 10 souls each with Grimoire (Abiding Book) 30% praying along with him he adds 3x10=+30 Faith, giving him 50+30 = 80% Manipulation to apply to the blessing, enabling him to affect more people for longer.

In a Monotheist cult there are almost always several layers of clergy. A second tier cleric gets the benefit of half the Faith gathered by his subordinates, plus their Faith, and this can be transmitted across any distance.

Deacon Anslem is in charge of Father Umphred and two other clergy of like ability with similar congregations, He gets 30 x 3 (for the ordinary worshippers) x 0.5 + 6 x 3 (for the Liturgists' faith) = 45 + 18 = +63 Faith to his Manipulation skill. He reports to Bishop Cleeve, who gets half the Faith each of his Deacons gather added together, plus their Faith, the Archbishop above him gets the half the faith all his subordinate Bishops gather, and through the Archbishops the Ecclesiarch wields the Faith of a whole nation. 

Faith can only be applied to casting Blessings, it won't work on normal sorcery. At any given time most worshippers will have the benefits of at least one Blessing and there may well be further blessings on his village, guild, town or fields, regularly renewed in weekly services.

Mana TO Heaven

The magic points to power these mighty Blessings also come from the faithful. The only spell taught to ordinary worshipers by most monotheistic churches is Venerate.

Sorcery, Concentration
Can only be cast while holding a holy symbol, this spell transfers magic points up the Chain of Veneration; from Worshiper to Liturgist, from Liturgist to Deacon (or whatever the title of the next higher ranked clergy is), from Deacon to Bishop and so on, and from the highest clergyman to the Invisible God itself. It takes 1 hour plus 15 minutes per magic point transferred to cast, the magic points are stored in the recipient's holy symbol, and it has no range limit. The maximum transfer per day is 1 mp per 10% Grimoire skill. A worshiper many miles away can make his private devotions and the magic points will be moved to his ecclesiastic superior. Occasionally the spell is used to move magic points back down the Chain. A congregation might send a dozen or more magic points to their Liturgist, who may then bless a member of his community, perhaps far away fighting a war, with these magic points for their personal holy symbol, if it has the capacity to absorb them. Magic points can never be passed horizontally to another person of the same standing in the church or sect.

At each level of the church there is a minimum required commitment of magic points per day or per week; worshipers usually have to provide 1 per week, though they often give more, Liturgists have quotas they must pass on to their superiors, and so on up the Chain of Veneration.

Holy Symbols

Different churches use their own unique form of holy symbol; many western ones go for Malkion's Holy Triangle in simple wood or a fancy precious metal job on the end of a staff for Bishops, the Lunar Cerise Church uses Moon runes of various kinds etc. but they all work the same. Each symbol stores magic points, amount varying, for one week. Magic points can only be put into a symbol by Veneration, and you can't transfer points to your own magic symbol. You cannot use a holy symbol that is not of the prescribed form for your sect.

Dedicate Holy Symbol
Sorcery, Autonomous
A ritual of variable length depending on how many magic points you want the maximum stored in a particular symbol to be. The simplest symbols, those worn by the laity, aren't meant to store mps at all, just to act as a conduit for mp to be passed up to the clergy and to enable the worshipper to receive blessings and take a few minutes to do, the whopping great golden jobs carried by Ecclesiarchs were prayed over for days by teams of Bishops and Archbishops. The maximum power storage capacity is one point per 10% combined Grimoire skill of the enchanting clergy and takes one hour per mp capacity to dedicate and costs 5 mp per point capacity. The enchantment process cannot be paused once started, though a group of clergy can work in shifts for the really powerful ones. The magic points stored in a holy symbol may be used for anything, not just Blessings.

Sorcerers and Wizards

An independent Sorcerer has only his own power to draw on, with maybe a few apprentices or assistants lending a hand, but a Wizard, a sorcerer who is also a liturgist in a monotheistic religion, can use his holy symbol to help power his spells. The disadvantage of being a Wizard is that as a clergyman you might find yourself with a church full of peasants to look after, the Churches often have serious restrictions on what spells you can use and you have to clutter up your brain with Blessings, which still take 1 INT point to remember.

Many wizardly orders have peasant liturgists to handle the casting of blessings and the accumulation of magic points from the laity, which are then passed on to a Wizard through his holy symbol to do something useful with. The peasants living on the orders lands and ministered to by their liturgists do not usually mind as long as the Order is a responsible landlord and blesses their crops and protects them from harm, but there are sometimes grumblings. On the other hand peasants on lands owned by certain nobles wish their landlord was a spiritually inclined Wizard who merely asked for their souls and not a greedy noble who took their food and goods to blow on feasts and tournaments.

The Western Caste System

In theory only those born into the Zzaburi (wizard) caste can cast spells, but this is usually held not to include Blessings so Liturgists of other castes do exist. They are not allowed to learn sorcery spells though, even if they are in the holy book (and The Abiding Book allegedly contains enough information, albeit encoded, to cast all known spells). Many lower caste Liturgists are nigh illiterate in any case and only know their few Blessings by rote.

The typical member of the Dronar peasant caste will know very little magic, or ought to know very little magic. Hardline churches like the Rokari regard all magic use by non-clergy, even weedy folk magic charms, as vile and evil Witchcraft. Other sects like the Hrestoli Idealists allow a few folk magics, if they are taught by a trade guild. In practice a peasant will know one or two common magic spells to a low level, and his priest won't be too bothered by it. There are underground religions practiced all over the west involving isolated shamen and occasionally theistic priests with small groups of followers. Needless to say these are prime targets for the local Inquisition.

Horals, the Soldier Caste, are likewise limited in their magic. They will know only folk magic and receive blessings and sorcery from their chaplains.

Zzaburi, as noted above, will know real sorcery spells, and are often bound by oaths never to use folk magic, or are so hoity toity about the pathetic little charms of the peasantry they won't lower themselves to use them.

Talars, the Nobles, are also theoretically banned from using any magic, but again often do, knowing folk magic charms passed down through their ancestors. They will also have plenty of personal chaplains on hand to cast magic for them and, depending on the region and sect, possibly sorcerers and wizards in the household as well.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

The Army of Tomorrow

The Army of Tomorrow first appeared in the first edition of Hero Wars published in 2000 as a Hero Band. My version is a smaller and less powerful organisation, less well established in Dragon Pass and more desperate for work. The Army is an irruption of the equivalent of the Earthly 14th century into a Bronze or Iron Age cultural milieu, an alien and sorcerous blot on the tribal landscape.

Who are they?

The Army of Tomorrow turned up in Rhigos in Esrolia about five years ago. They are a band of mercenaries originally from Loskalm in the far north-west of the continent, a country about which the inhabitants of Dragon Pass know next to nothing. They do know that they have many sorcerers and few gods, and that makes them figures of deep suspicion.

The Army has sort of prospered however. They provide decent soldiers at a very reasonable price and they are ideal for disputes where Heortling chiefs, Esrolian grandmothers and Lunar officials do not want to risk their own troops and calling in the Humakti or Yelmalios looks like expensive overkill. The Army has found itself doing all the really crap military jobs in the area – patrolling the Praxian marches and caravan routes, hunting down those bands of undead that make it past the Ducks, dealing with plagues of starving trollkin. evicting refugee squatters displaced by Lunar conquests – stuff no honourable Humakti and many Lunar troops would want to do.

These are all reasonable earners, but they do nothing for the military reputation of the Army; jumped up garrison troops sniff the Lunar officers, a pack of stickpickers who can march in a line scoff the Sartarite thegns.

Sir Malain the Slayer, the leader of the Army's outpost at the Monastery of the Rock in Rhigos knows better. Back in the west Army troops have fought Wolf Pirates, meeping chaos horrors from the Dilis swamps and have seen service against the fearsome trolls of Guhan. He needs one big glorious victory to make his name and his units reputation known in Maniria, and then perhaps he will start getting some real money in, and some better quality recruits. The Army brought a hard core of veterans from their various outposts in the west and have been following their practice of local recruitment in the Holy Country, but there is only so much good old Fronelan drill and discipline can do with the motley tribal outlaws and urban proles who have been signing up.

The Army is entirely ecumenical, they take anyone of any religion and do not proselytise, or try not to, though they do rather obviously favour fellow monotheists as sergeants and captains and the colonels are all followers of the Church of the Futurist. If they have a real prejudice it is against non-human sentients, Krjalki as they call them. Back in Fronela and Seshnela these beings are few and far between and they find it disturbing to see humans happily associating with such horrors as trolls, ducks and merfolk. However the teachings of St Dadivic are open to all, and some chaplains are coming round the idea that these monsters might have souls and might even be able to experience Solace and Joy.


The Army is organised into Columns, as they call their companies, each with a different role. Each column has a Colonel, a Chaplain and two Captains and ideally has eight 12 man squads.

First and Second : Basic infantry units equipped with spear and shield or pikes with falchion/shortsword for close up fighting, 20% of the unit will be crossbowmen.

Third: Galleys, where seamen receive training in Seamanship and marines use crossbows, boarding pikes and axes

Fourth: Light cavalry – spear and shield, light crossbow. This unit is somewhat under strength after a series of disastrous encounters with Grazelander raiders.

Fifth: Heavy cavalry using lance and shield. The traditional juggernauts of western warfare, but this column is way under strength due to lack of suitable recruits and decent warhorses.

Sixth: Sappers and Siegers; A bit of a novelty for this part of central Genertela, where sieges tend to be drawn out affairs occasionally livened up by magical assaults and flying Orlanthi fanatics. They have yet to see action, but Sir Malain and their colonel Sir Willebord are confident that they could knock over one the silly little hill forts they have in these parts in no time. A quarter of the troops have pavises and heavy crossbows, the rest are trained in building a few basic bits of siege equipment like battering rams, galleries and siege towers and they have carts with the great sinew springs needed for onagers and ballistas and plenty of woodworking tools. Sir Willebord also knows how to tunnel and undermine, but doubts the flimsy forts of Dragon Pass will need it.


Sergeants must follow a Malkioni Religion. The Army has sergeants from a number of sects but all the Chaplains are members of the Order of St Dadivic. The Army follows the western practice of the Chain of Veneration, where lay members give magical power and support to a Liturgist who then casts spells that benefit the whole congregation, as long as they bear a sanctified holy symbol.

The Captains of the columns are all members of the Order of St Dadivic and their Chaplain-General Lostar Spellster is a former adept of the Order of Bardan's Book, which gives him a number of useful battlefield spells.

The Order of Saint Dadivic, also known as the Church of the Futurist, originated in southern Loskalm during the Syndics Ban when the whole of Fronela and the Janube Valley was cut into isolated units by magical barriers of mist. The Order is open to anyone who worships the Invisible God, though all the major sects of the west regard it as heretical to some degree. The Hrestoli Idealists regard them as worshipping the Demiurge as they cleave to the Abiding Book, Hrestoli Orthodox decry them as Progressives and Feminists, who make a mockery of ancient Caste Law, and the Rokari dislike their Hrestolism and belief in Joy of the Heart.

Nonetheless the Army includes members all these sects and more. Monotheists are a mistrusted minority in the Holy Country and Dragon Pass and in the Army's view they have to put aside their theological squabbles and stick together in the face of rampant paganism, and even welcome some pagans into their ranks as tools to serve the Futurist.

The doctrines of the Great Futurist involve a great deal of optimism about the World to Come, which will finally realise the plans of the Invisible God and see the Perfection of Man, but recognises that along the way there is going to be a bit of an Armageddon to get through. The Army of Tomorrow will lead humanity through that great war and set an example of honourable action, perseverance and tolerance. St Dadivic left a collection of poetic prophesies, called The Glimpses, which the Chaplains consult whenever the path forward seems unclear. One such prophecy rather unequivocally pointed at Dragon Pass as a place the Order ought to take an interest in, but now they are here no one seems to know what to do next nor fully understand the mix of contending factions. Some doubt that the Armageddon is going to happen here at all, just a petty squabble between two gangs of stupid pagans, and want to go back to Loskalm to fight the Kingdom of War.

Special Blessings from the Grimoire 'Glimpses of the Future'

Heal Futurist
Heals 1 HP per 15% of the casters Grimoire skill, plus 1 HP per 15% of the recipients Grimoire skill. Cannot heal serious or major wounds.

Steadfast into the Future
Adds the 1/10 of the recipients Grimoire (Glimpses of the Future) skill to their Persistence and Resilience, an affects one target per 10% of the casters skill. Extra targets can be added by Manipulation as usual.

The Ship of Life
Acts as a Mobility spell for an entire galley, plus one movement rate per 25% Grimoire skill.

The Future is Ours
Acts as a mass Fate spell, adding 1/5 the targets Grimoire (Glimpses of the Future) skill to their next skill roll and affecting 1 target per 5% of the casters Grimoire skill. Extra targets can be added by Manipulation as usual.