Divine Purpose, part 2

Divine Purpose, part 2

A common trope in fantasy involves a protagonist beholden to a destiny bestowed upon them by the gods. If you play a cleric, you should have a well-defined relationship between your character and their god. Let’s explore this relationship by providing a foundation for cleric characters born with a divine purpose woven into their background.

If this is new to you, go back to the first installment to catch up!

In the previous installment, we discussed acts of faith. These are challenges or sacrifices that a cleric might undertake which lead them toward a revelation about their purpose in their deity’s grand plans. Those acts of faith were mainly roleplaying prompts, designed to help steer a player into imagining a growing relationship between their character and that character’s deity.

This time we’ll revisit acts of faith and add a little mechanical crunch.

Key Points

When your cleric completes an act of faith, they gain a number of key points. Key points are like little clues. Once you gather enough of them, they result in a revelation.

There are two ways to use key points to gain revelations: general and named. General is a simple addition to regular roleplay, while named revelations are a more involved system that helps tell a more specific story, but includes more tracking along the way.

General Revelations

Each time a cleric accomplished an act of faith, they gain 1d4 key points. After the character gains 8 key points, they experience a revelation. Revelation serves as story “unlock” from a character’s background. We’ll talk about that more in a future installment.

Named Revelations

If you want a little more crunch in working toward your character’s divine purpose, try named revelations. Instead of an act of faith adding key points to a general pool, acts of faith are associated with specific revelations.

Below is a list of named revelations. When your cleric commits an act of faith within a revelation’s purview, they gain key points for only that revelation. If you have a desire for your cleric’s larger story and want to roleplay toward a goal, you can use these as markers along the way. If you prefer to play to see what happens, use this system to track how your cleric progresses toward . . . wherever they wind up.

The Avatar

The cleric gains key points by performing humble acts of faith that appear miraculous. They act in a way that so closely reflects the words and deeds of their deity that others question if the cleric is a manifestation of their god.

A cleric who acts in a way that embodies the words and deeds of their deity gains 2d4 Avatar Key Points.

Examples:

  1. Solve a conflict by precisely following a primary tenet of your faith.
  2. Recall the deity’s actions in a similar situation and use similar measures to resolve it.
  3. Speak powerfully on behalf of your deity.
  4. Cast heroism to assume or display aspects of your deity.

The Demagogue

The cleric gains key points from an acts of faith that involve revolution, rebellion, or aggressive conquest in the name of their deity. They infuse their speech with bias and exaggeration to rile the common folk; they focus on triggering strong emotional responses over reason.

A cleric who successfully acts as an agitator on behalf of their deity gains 2d4Demagogue Key Points.

Examples:

  1. Launch a battle charge into a group of enemies without hesitation.
  2. Make brash demands on an authority figure.
  3. Rouse the residents of a small village to exile a corrupt mayor.
  4. Organize the capture and public punishment of an opposed religious faction.

The Martyr

The cleric gains key points from an act of faith involving personal sacrifice or enabling another individual to undertake an act of great personal sacrifice.

A cleric who places themself in harm’s way, preventing immediate danger to others gains 2d4 Martyr Key Points.

Examples:

  1. Jump in front of an ally to block an opponent’s strike.
  2. Take a public lashing for refusing to reveal secrets of the church.
  3. Take damage but use your healing on allies rather than yourself.
  4. Battle to unconsciousness or exhaustion and refuse to take short rests.

The Prophet

The cleric gains key points from an act of faith that involves successful foresight, interpretation of dreams or omens, or recovering and deciphering lost scriptures.

A cleric who seeks divine knowledge, cites scripture, or uses divination magic and reports their findings to members of their faith gains 2d4 Prophet Key Points.

Examples:

  1. Overcome a challenge by casting divination spells such as augury or guidance to resolve it.
  2. Recover a tome of lost lore that reveals a truth.
  3. Assemble the clues in a series of dreams to solve a mystery or puzzle.
  4. Tie the histories of two or more people to establish a previously unknown relationship.

The Saint

The cleric gains key points for an act of faith that grants significant benefit to their church or followers. They may also act as an intercessor, listening to the plea of commoners on behalf of their deity. The saint uses divine power on behalf of others to grant reasonable requests of those who cannot aid themselves.

A cleric who commits an open display of holiness (such as using Channel Divinity) in such a way that members of their faith can observe it gains 2d4Saint Key Points.

Examples:

  1. Offer healing to everyone involved in a conflict, regardless of which side they supported.
  2. Use Channel Divinity to turn a near-miraculous number of undead.
  3. Cast create water to save a caravan suffering from thirst.
  4. Create a shrine in a small village.

The Savior

The cleric gains key points from an act of faith that offers protection in the Material Plane and prepares a follower for the afterlife.They frequently offer guidance or leadership; the character assumes or gains notoriety as a leader or has the qualities of a great leader under the tenets of the faith.

A cleric who uses reason or casts abjuration magic that serves the best interests of the faithful gains 2d4Savior Key Points.

Examples:

  1. Cast sanctuary to ward a group of shepherds from the onslaught of marauding humanoids.
  2. Provide shelter to individuals wanted by a dangerous foe or unjust authorities.
  3. Use control water to lead a group of refugees safely across a raging river.
  4. Stand up for rebellious common folk after they deface the statue of a tyrant.

Concluding

When a cleric deals with a challenge in a way that reflects their faith, the player uses key points as a way to track that behavior. A trend toward one revelation might suggest predestination or divine fate.

It should take a few levels for the cleric to gain enough key points to establish a behavioral trend, at which point they have accrued enough key points to experience a revelation.

The Next Step

Once you’ve collected all your key points and have rolled up to a revelation . . . then what? In the next installment, we’ll talk about how your character experiences revelation and what you do with it once you’ve got one.

<<PREVIOUSLY IN DIVINE PURPOSE


Discover more about your character—of any class—by gazing into the Tome of Heroes. Use this book of character options to make your character special, with new backgrounds, subclasses for every class, unusual races, tons of new equipment,and much more!


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