Priestly Sorcerers

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babayaga
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Re: Priestly Sorcerers

Postby babayaga » Thu May 08, 2014 10:20 am

Age of Treason is a setting that does "priestly sorcerers" very well in my opinion.

In AoT priests are not, in general, holy men - but professionals who have the knowledge and social standing to conduct the correct rites for (often several) related deities of the pantheon. In mechanical terms the priests are not required to have Pacts and dedicated POW, but instead they have priestly Grimoires with a few (1d6) Worship (specific deity) spells; "casting" these spells means effectively officiating the rite for a small community. Other participants in the rite are expected to spend half their MPs (which go to the deity and regenerate normally); if they don't, the rite suffers penalties, but if they do they get a Blessing, i.e. a 10% bonus to a skill use in the portfolio of the deity any time in the future (up to CHA/5 Blessings can be "stored"). So basically a priest is a sorcerer who knows how to make a "transaction" between the deity and its worshippers: the worshippers provide a one-time pool of MPs to the deity, whereas the deity provides a one-time skill bonus to the participants. The priestly grimoire may also offer a few more (1d4) spells that allow the priest to provide a more "complete" service, such as Mystic Vision.

If you dedicate POW and make a Pact, on the other hand, you are taking a more personal approach to interact with the deity - that basically works as in Legend, providing Divine Magic, Gits, and one-time (powerful) miracles in exchange for essentially saying that a portion of your soul will be forever of the deity to use at is pleasure. This includes the MPs generated by the dedicated POW, but in fact it's more than that: the Pact skill works as a Passion that basically aligns your behaviour to that of the Deity. Again, you do not need to be a Priest to make a Pact, just as in general you do not need a Pact to be a Priest - though really "high level" Priests, those who can call on a deity's intervention on an entire region and officiate major rites, must have Pacts (also, in some cultures where a single deity is of paramount importance and enmeshed with the society, every citizen is required to have a minor Pact with the deity).

I really like this approach. The Pact/Dedicated POW/Divine Magic portion of religion is the mystical, personal enlightenment part of it. The Sorcery/Worship spells portion is the "business", ritualistic part of it. In practice, it means that the majority of any community is constantly "selling" a sizable portion of its "spiritual crops" (i.e. MPs) to its deities in exchange for subtle help (i.e. just skill bonuses, nothing really overt) in the spheres of influence of those deities, with priests being the middlemen who facilitate the exchange through specific sorcery. A few individuals who want to embody the deity (some of them, but by no means all, priests) make Pacts, and gain more substantial benefits in exchange for more substantial commitment.

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