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Arcane Background (Possession) - looking for ideas

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  • Arcane Background (Possession) - looking for ideas

    Hi!

    So I'm working on a homebrew setting for post-apocalyptic fantasy. I'll spare you the long story and let's just say a major god went crazy and set the fairy realm on fire and magic itself took a severe thrashing. It's not completely gone, but it's so weak that the magic users had to find different ways to do their thing.
    The divine spellcasters (aka those who would normally take Arcane Background (Miracles)) have found their method: they allow their god to possess them and use their body as a focus for their own powers. It's a short, benevolent process, lasting only seconds and never taking full control of the body. It's also consensual on both sides, so while you don't have to be a cleric or have any place in church hierarchy, you need to at least be on good terms with your god.

    Now I'm looking for ideas for rules to put that into game terms. Basic power use is already covered (using No Power Points btw), so I'm mostly looking for limitations and consequences. As a servant of a god, they should at least roughly follow their god's commandments. But it'd seems like a waste of the whole possession idea if there wasn't at least some chance of the god taking over for a while, with good gods trying to rectify former missdeeds ("You used poison to hunt? The god of the hunt makes you throw both the poison and the pelt away." "You stole money from those who needed it? The god of generosity makes you give all your money to beggars."), while evil gods would rather go for punishment ("You forgave an enemy? The god of grudges makes you carve his name into your arm. Take one wound.").
    Though I'm not a 100% sure how to tie it all up in terms of rules and internal logic.
    I don't want to make it much more complicated than the Miracle Background, but I obviously need two mechanisms here: one to punish breaking a gods commandments and one for simply failing a roll. Because malevolent possession should only happen if the god is angry, and if the god is angry, the character likely wouldn't dare to use magic. Only if he tried anyway and failed, a malevolent possession should be possible. On the other hand, even characters who follow their god's commandments need consequences when they fail at their casting.

    So... I'd appreciate any input.
    Last edited by SuspiciouslyLookingDuck; 07-10-2019, 02:44 PM.

  • #2
    The simplest thing I can think of is a negative to casting if you've committed a sin in some way (until you atone) and an additional rule of "if you have a penalty to casting because of a sin and you critically fail... guess who's moving in to your body for a while!"

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    • #3
      Hi! Welcome to the fourm!

      Originally posted by SuspiciouslyLookingDuck View Post
      Hi!

      So I'm working on a homebrew setting for post-apocalyptic fantasy. ...
      The divine spellcasters (aka those who would normally take Arcane Background (Miracles)) have found their method: they allow their god to possess them and use their body as a focus for their own powers. It's a short, benevolent process, lasting only seconds and never taking full control of the body. It's also consensual on both sides, so while you don't have to be a cleric or have any place in church hierarchy, you need to at least be on good terms with your god.
      Wow, neat idea.
      I'd probably just use Arcane Background (Gifted). Assuming each power requires some training and practice to channel effectively, the limited power selection makes sense.
      Worthiness is going to depend upon religion. Each god has a different rules, and minor violations should give a -2 to powers for a week, major violations should prevent power use for a week, and "mortal sin" violations should prevent power use for ever or until a redemption quest completes.
      The available list of powers may also change depending upon the god being channeled.

      Good luck!
      I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

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      • #4
        Welcome!

        Cool idea! One thing to note about this concept: because you're using the No Power Points Setting Rule, higher teir powers are going to be strictly off-limits unless you find some way to mitigate the penalties. Ritual Casting is one possibility; alternatively, this thread might be of interest to you.

        Secondly, the way you presented the possession happening---as a consensual, short-term event---sounds like a Trapping of AB Miracles. If you want to include a mechanic where the god can literal compel the host's actions, I think some additional benefit needs to be in place as well. It also sounds like characters can petition multiple gods, depending on what they want to cast. This can also be used as a mechanic.

        As for suggestions, I think you could make separate power lists for each god. When a cleric petitions a god, they may only pick a power from that particular god's list. If they anger the god in some way, those powers are off-limits to them. Other gods may offer the power, but it would have different Trappings.
        .... For example, the demon god of hell only has fire Trappings. Anger him and you can't use fire spells.
        ... Likewise, some powers might only be available from certain gods. Healing might be restricted to just one or two gods, meaning you had better stay on good terms with them if your party wants a decent chance of survival.

        Gods may also judge you by the company you keep, meaning the bloodthirsty companion becomes a liability.

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        • #5
          Thanks for the ideas, I'm starting to figure out how to tackle this.

          @ Deskepticon:
          No, characters will only have the option to devote themselves to a single god. Though following several different deities and trying to keep them all contempt also sounds interesting. Not for the world I'm building right now, but in another one it could be used for a voodoo or shamanistic style of magic. One would just need to replace gods with spirits.

          And yes, all gods have their own lists of powers. The only power they all offer is Boost/Lower Trait but that one is only applicable to certain attributes and skills that fit the god (e.g. the god of law and commerce can make you talkier, but not sneakier). It'll even be part of the balancing between the Arcane Backgrounds. One of the perks of the Possessed (or whatever they'll officially call themselves, still undecided) will be a comparatively large selection of powers to learn from. Though the balancing is still WIP.
          Last edited by SuspiciouslyLookingDuck; 07-10-2019, 07:56 PM.

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          • #6
            I've done something similar for a Sci-Fi campaign where some people had the ability to bond with an extra-dimensional being and either "summon" it for a few second so it activates a power instead foryou or fuse with it permanently and becoming a dual-natured entity, able to see in both dimensions , but vulnerable to attacks on both dimensions as well.

            In short, in the fleeting moment where a small part of the god's essence is within the caster's body, it becomes vulnerable.

            An interupting enemy could attack the caster and disrupt the god's essence. Any damage enough to cause a Shaken to the caster breaks the link between the devout and his God (it wasn't worthy enough to protect it's divine patron) and counts as a Minor Sin. In addition, when acitvating a Power, the caster becomes vulnerable to entities that normally wouldn't be able to affect the corporeal world (ghosts, intangible foes, etc.)

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            • #7
              I was going to say you might consider giving Mona Lisa Overdrive a once-over. The Project Girls may give some ideas inline with what you're looking for. But this is post-apoc, not cyberpunk, so I'll just say read it anyway.

              As for the rules, I'm partial to the idea that a Critical Failure means the caster can't "evict" the power after casting. This is when his sins are evaluated and the power enacts retribution accordingly. The default result is the level of Fatigue normal to Backlash, but other options of the same severity should be available to the GM (like the aforementioned cutting of a name for a Wound.)

              Speaking of sins, the Fantasy Companion has rules for this, and Savage Lankhmar has stuff focused on a NPP setting. Particularly, black magic has some ideas for more creative backlash.

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