'Are you a god?' - Gozer the Gozerian, Ghostbusters
What is a god?
Sure, many origins of power provide the ability to achieve functional, biological immortality. Longevity, revival, regeneration, and various resistances and/or invulnerabilities can, for all intents and purposes, allow a character to persist forever. Furthermore, individuals with some (or perhaps all) of these abilities might even have additional, miraculous talents at their disposal. But are they deities?
No. All deific beings, no matter how immortal they may or may not be, are what they are because of their interactions with the power of faith. A spectral energy generated by sentient entities, faith bolsters the essence of deifics, making it more potent than that possessed by mere mortals. This not only explains why they have powers, for the most part, but allows them to perform the miraculous deeds they are infamous for.
With such might at their disposal, deifics may reconfigure reality as they see fit, whether on a small scale in an alien realm or in its entirety on their home plane of existence. Not all immortals know how to make use of this potent force, much less actively pursue it, but all beings possessed of a deific essence can learn how to cultivate faith... and how to put it to work for themselves.
This is what makes deific beings so special - and so dangerous. Between their ability to meddle with causality, their staggering physical and/or mental prowess, and the power to guide their flock for as long as they see fit, even a single deity can wreak havoc on the balance of power whenever he or she desires. Add in multiple pantheons, and the myths and legends you read about growing up sound tame in comparison!
What Is immortality?
As far as the Universal Heroes Game is concerned, immortality is, with a few exceptions, the ability to live forever. It is the byproduct of an evolved life force, one augmented by the power of faith, whether it is actively pursued or inherited via the actions of others. For the most part, when an immortal being is killed, he or she will not die, instead recovering as they would from any other loss of Health and Endurance.
Those few exceptions, however, are what should give any immortal pause. They include:
* Immortal Combat: to start with, an immortal being's immunity to death can be canceled out in battle with other deific beings of equal or greater divinity. If an immortal defeats and kills a similarly immortal or less deific foe, they have the option of making that fatality temporary or permanent, as he or she sees fit. Which is one way to thin the competition for faith, should it get a bit crowded.
* Home Turf Disadvantage: secondly, being slain on one's home turf will definitely bypass an immortal's immunity to death, if their opponent wishes to dispose of him or her. While a god is typically at the zenith of their power within his or her home plane, this is where they are ironically at their most vulnerable. Even mortals can vanquish a god if they can overcome him or her in this location.
* Additional Weakness: finally, all immortal beings will have one additional Achilles' heel, a particular vulnerability that can obviate their persistence through the ages. This most often entails full bodily disintegration, leaving the deific life force with nothing to work with when attempting to effect a recovery. This can vary, however, either from one pantheon to another or even from deity to deity.
These may sound like serious disadvantages, but compared to mere mortal beings, deities have it relatively easy. That whole 'living forever' thing is kind of nice, when you get down to it, and really lets you get a whole lot done. But thinking about probability curves, one might come to the conclusion that, over time, situations where these vulnerabilities come into play are a statistical certainty.
So how does one mitigate these vulnerabilities?
* Delegation: to start with, immortals have many means of avoiding direct combat with each other. Driving avatars to extend their presence, sending proxies to do their bidding, or even having their followers wage holy wars against their enemies' faithful are but a few. With proper planning and enough of a faith-based infrastructure, deities need not place themselves at direct risk save under the most dire of circumstances.
* Consolidation: an immortal's home plane isn't where they were created, so much as where they have decided to invest their power. Though this is a space where their protection from death does not apply, this risk can be managed by building a sanctum to concentrate their power, joining a pantheon of like-minded gods to acquire strength in numbers, or even just filling one's corner of the multiverse with an army of defenders.
* Circumvention: while it is difficult to provide specific advice on avoiding a god's additional deific weakness, considering that these can vary so much from one deity to another, in general it is advisable to procure protection against something that can bypass one's immortality - or to simply avoid situations where it will manifest. In other words, if susceptible to disintegration, don't fight anyone with a disintegrator rifle!
The moral of this story is that, despite suffering from a few sparse exceptions to their invulnerability to death, gods can easily live up to their claims of immortality if they're clever enough. This even when beset on all sides by opposing forces, whether of a mortal or immortal nature. The cost in blood, treasure, and faith may be enormous, but what better to spend such resources on than the guarantee of life eternal?
'No?' - Raymond 'Ray' Stantz, Ghostbusters
A character who commands ascendant abilities derived from the power of faith is known as a deific being. Not all deifics are immortal, however. This is because faith can be used to bestow the power of the gods upon otherwise mortal entities, in addition to being a useful tool for godlike entities in the course of their daily activities.
The takeaway from all this is that deifics come from a wide variety of possible paths to power. Some might be mortals wielding powers granted by some deity or another, while others may instead be otherwise mundane men and women carrying a device infused with godly might. Still more may come into their power through hard work, an accident of heritage, or even an apotheosis inflicted by other immortals.
In short, a deific being can be mortal or immortal, and may or may not have control of how and why they have the power of the divine at their fingertips. Each form of deific is described herein, to help would-be players of the gods choose how they would like to express this power - for better or worse. Known types of deific beings include the following:
The character who wields a deific device is not immortal, per se, but can utilize the power of the gods through some implement or another. While some deities do wield similarly empowered objects, usually to greatly expand their own influence in whatever agenda they pursue, the mortal carrying such an artifact of power relies upon it to perform all of his or her ascendant deeds.
This is not to say that they are powerless without it, though this may well be the case. The wielder of a deific device is just as likely to have been empowered by the equipment he or she carries as they are to be completely neutralized if it is taken from them. This all depends on the nature of the deific device(s) they have acquired, which similarly depends on the origins of the character in question.
Either way, the bearer of such potent implements can readily shake mortal society to its core if desired, or stand toe to toe with the mightiest of deities - possibly even those who made their gear! Assuming, of course, that the deific device a mortal wields isn't the product of an actual immortal being, instead being the result of some aberrant science gone wrong, devised with knowledge men were not meant to know...
Likely power and/or character limitation: Portable (weak or strong, depending).
In the course of events, immortal entities often have the need to get things done that they simply lack the time, patience, or desire to handle themselves. Most often, such tasks can be handled by their loyal followers, whether they are mundane individuals of even those that have access to clerical magic thanks to their faith. But on other occasions, a deity may have need of, shall we say, a special operative.
Mortal agents directly empowered by a god wield super-human powers granted through the auspices of faith, whether or not they subscribe to that deity's teachings. Thus, an empowered individual might worship their newly found patron, may be sympathetic to their history and goals, or could even be completely unaware of their existence - at least, that is, until he or she pumps them full of deific might.
As surrogates of the gods, empowered mortals can be granted the ability to do just about anything. And even better, unlike the situation with their clerical counterparts, the empowered's exceptional abilities are subject to revocation at any time, with only a minor net loss of faith. Thus, an empowered mortal whose task is complete, or somehow betrays their patron, need not be feared as is the case with an apostate priest.
The recipient of a legacy is not immortal whatsoever... but their powers are. Legacies are created when someone or another performs astonishing deeds, whether or not they actually have super-human abilities, and they ultimately become legendary. As tales of these deeds are told and retold, they tend to take on a life of their own, and thanks to the nature of the zeitgeist they can actually empower others!
But who exactly can inherit the legacy of a previous hero or villain? That all depends on the nature of its originator, but typically the recipient of a legacy power or power set is determined based on how closely that individual matches up with the idealized embodiment it is based upon. A character who gains awesome healing prowess from the legacy of Asclepius, for instance, might be a great doctor themselves.
A legacy bearer is most assuredly mortal, but thanks to the nature of their powers their work can often continue after their demise - untimely or otherwise. In fact, should a legacy character die, it's often quite easy to replace them with another of like ability. They'll have the same powers and probably a similar background, after all. Thus, a player attached to a particular character concept can make it live on many times!
Mortals who desire to slough off their mortality, imminent or otherwise, aspirants pursue godhood - or, at least, a perpetual existence. The fiction of our world is replete with examples of otherwise mortal characters who strive to ascend beyond their frail, limited existence, and according to mythology, can come from any background and/or origin of power that can be imagined.
The most direct form of character that fits this bill is a deionicist, whose entire path of power involves understanding and controlling the divine - whether to become such or to combat it. But any character can strive for apotheosis, whether they are a sorcerer researching a spell of immortality, an adventurer seeking some special fruit that imparts godhood, or even a scientist attempting to nullify the process of death!
Occasionally, the adventure of pursuing godhood itself is enough for such beings to ascend to the divine. Much like a demigod, the mere act of completing grand adventures and extensive trials builds up enough faith in a body to catalyze their divinity. Or, as is most often the case, this end game is simply the punchline of all their hard work, rewarding their very survival of it all with at least partial immortality.
Quintessential variants are beings who persist through the ages, though not in mind or in body. No, it is the spirit of a quint that allows them to continue on even after their physical death. You see, after a being of this type dies in any fashion, they are reborn in a new body. This is a natural birth, however, meaning that the death of a quint will remove them from play for quite some time.
When the essence of a quint starts life over, it sheds all memory of its past lives. However, the impetus for this seeming reincarnation, the quintessential variation power, allows a quint to communicate with any number of past incarnations. This gives them added insight into who they are and who they might ultimately become, as well as the ability to spike the timeline with small favors here and there.
Whether they've always had this ability or acquired it during some lesser apotheosis, a quintessential variant is marked as being more than mortal. This alone can readily justify whatever additional powers they may possess, or their ascendant abilities might instead be unique to their current essential variation. In other words, a quint's powers can manifest in each of their lives, or may vary from one birth body to another.
Bonus inherent power: Quintessential Variation.
A character who reincarnates is reborn each time they die, no matter how grisly their demise may happen to have been. This sounds good, but when reincarnating, a character's essence must first root itself into a body about to be born. And then, once it has 'moved in', the deific must then sit back while their body matures from a newly born configuration into an adult which can manipulate the world.
The advantage of this is that, unlike quintessential variants, a reincarnator is of the same mind as they were in their previous iteration. The disadvantage is that a reincarnated entity cannot communicate with previous versions of themselves since there aren't any other selves to speak of. Thus, no reaching back into time to tell your former self to buy stock in that strange new software company nobody's heard of (yet).
How long reincarnation takes to replace the character's body upon their death depends on the rank of their reincarnation power. With a high enough power rank, reincarnation can get its possessor back into the swing of a campaign in relatively short order. However, those with a lower rank of such may be 'out of the game' for a time while they grow up all over again - particularly if possessed at a rank of Feeble (1)!
Bonus inherent power: Reincarnation.
A preincarnator, on the other hand, will see their essence flung back in time upon their demise, to reincarnate many years before their current end. What will happen in this case is that, while the deific will be aware of their new life, they will be unable to directly influence the outcome of their new iteration at first. This prevents them from altering the time stream while growing up once more, and thus avoids paradoxes.
Upon reaching the point in time that they previously died, a preincarnator's new body should be at or near adulthood, and they may then assume control of it. Since there is already a personality resident, albeit one based upon their own, the preincarnator must either 'share' head space with it, merge with it, or attempt to bury it in their subconscious mind. Which is chosen depends on the player and the character they choose to build.
Thus, a preincarnator may seem the same upon being reborn, or may suddenly become startlingly different - which can have serious ramifications on the campaign they play within. The other players in the current campaign will have to get used to working with this somewhat new persona, or in rare cases, with the Judge's approval, said persona might actually be one of their extant supporting characters!
Bonus inherent power: Preincarnation.
More than mortal but not quite gods themselves, demigods occupy a sort of in-between place in the grand scheme of things. Individuals of this stripe include the offspring of mortals and immortals (or perhaps their descendants), as well as those who have experienced an apotheosis thanks to either hard work, happy chance, or possibly even due to some experiment that has gone horribly, horribly right.
When beginning play, a demigod has, for the lack of a better term, one additional 'life'. If their other abilities fail them somehow, and the demigod is slain, they will nonetheless return to the land of the living, hale and hearty. With this extra life expended, however, the demigod now has to contend with the grim spectre of potential mortality. Unless, of course, he or she manages to acquire more.
Demigods can acquire additional 'lives' by doing great deeds, inspiring faith within others that they can use to supplement their own existence. Great deeds, those of a legendary sort, are often fraught with peril - but performing them can extend a demigod's existence if they survive the experience. And once he or she acquires thirteen such 'do-overs', a demigod will ascend to a full, immortal existence!
Bonus inherent power: Apotheosis.
Abstracts embody the various notions that sentient beings cling to, empowered by the zeitgeist rather than specific veneration directed at their person. They draw energy from the general consensus individuals in their sphere of influence hold concerning the idea they represent, and while not specifically worshiped as are normal gods, abstracts share a pool of faith with other abstracts who emblematize the same concept.
Though they need not work as hard to accumulate faith, an abstract is even more subject to its influence, as the perception sentients bear regarding what they embody will manipulate how they appear, how they act, and even how they think. Thus, an abstract's individuality is under constant assault by its very nature, the overwhelming will of mortals' ideas about them trying to mold them as their culture would prefer.
An abstract entity can be a failed god, an ascended mortal, or potentially something even stranger, such as the spontaneous creation of higher dimensions descended into our own. Simultaneously familiar and alien, intense and aloof, methodical and confused, abstracts walk a fine line between immortality and non-existence... and will continue to do so as long as sentient beings conjecture about their base concepts.
Bonus inherent power: Abstraction.
Fully immortal beings, gods are entities that need not fear permanent death, save for under highly specialized circumstances. Gods are not subject to the ravages of aging, and while they can be slain in the course of events, they will not die. No, for the most part, a god who is killed will eventually recover from whatever injury knocked him or her out of the game, so to speak, pretty much as good as new.
Their life forces propped up by the power of faith, whether or not they actively pursue devotion of any stripe, deities are potentially possessed of great power - as well as all the time necessary to put it to use. Some have a signature ability they are best known for, while others are more general in the application of their power, able to expend accumulated faith to perform almost any feat imaginable.
Either way, a deity is veritable force of nature in whatever territory they claim as their own. Their whims can shape the very nature of reality, or at least a small corner of such, and their followers will often go to great lengths to make their will manifest. And this is usually a cinch - at least, until the whims of one deity cross swords with those of another!
Bonus inherent power: Immortality.
Divine Character Generation
'Then... DIE!' - Gozer the Gozerian, Ghostbusters
Random (Dice Roll) Method
Deific characters of every stripe are ascendant humans by their very nature. Even those who merely wield divine artifacts gain special abilities through the possession and/or handling of their equipment, and are thus generated in the same basic fashion. When determining primary ability scores, players may use table B, D, and F to determine two ability scores each, and table H for their seventh - in any order desired.
If the deific has access to hyperkinetic ability ranks, players may instead make use of tables C, E, G, and I, respectively, instead of those indicated above (disregard hyperhexhaustive results for ability scores, however). If hyperkinetic ranks are desired but were not attained through random dice rolls, they can always be adopted as a character enhancement (as they are not applied to powers; see below).
Players roll on table B to determine their initial Resources rank, and begin play with a Popularity score of zero. Add up the character's Health and Karma totals per the norm, along with their Negative and Mental Health scores.
Table 1: Rank Generation
|Table A||Table B||Table C||Table D||Table E||Table F||Table G||Table H||Table I||Rank
Once these rolls are complete, players may gamble on any two ability scores of their choice, potentially shoring up any areas they feel need some help. The only limits in this regard are the results of the tables themselves, as well as the power rank ceiling for a campaign. If you're not already aware of this cap for heroic (or villainous) power, ask your friendly neighborhood Judge!
Table 2: Rank Modifiers (Gambling)
|(Shift X max).||(Un 100 max).||(Mn 75 max).||(Am 50 max).||(In 40 max).||
Deific Character Type
So what kind of deific being will you be playing? Will the role of a legacy hero be assumed, or will one instead attempt to assume the guise of an abstract entity? If a player isn't sure yet, or prefers to leave this determination to random chance, table 3 is available for his or her use. Note that the results of this roll are not binding; a player shouldn't be forced to play something they simply do not wish to.
Table 3: Determining Deific Deviations
Number of Initial Powers
When determining a character's starting powers, begin by figuring out exactly how many he or she will have to begin with. Roll randomly on table 4 to do this, which gives a character anywhere between two and seven ascendant powers which which to fight (or commit) crime. These on top of any deific power the character will have by dint of their specific origin (abstraction for abstract entities, and so on), naturally.
Table 4: Initial Inherent Powers
|01-17||Two Powers||18-33||Three Powers||34-50||Four Powers
|51-67||Five Powers||68-83||Six Powers||84-00||Seven Powers
Determining Character Powers
After determining how many ascendant abilities a deific begins play with, potential bonus powers notwithstanding, it's time to actually figure out which powers they'll wield. This process begins by rolling on table 5 to determine the category a character's first power will fall within. Once table 5 determines a power category, roll on the subsequent power category table (tables 6 through 20) for an individual power.
With this first, randomly determined power decided, read its description. This is because, at the beginning of almost every power description in the below tables, there is a group of related powers, abilities that dovetail with the indicated ascendant talent. A player may opt to either choose one of these related powers for his or her next power selection(s), or may instead roll again randomly.
And so on, and so forth, until the player's power selections have all been determined. What this does is allow a player to build a character with godlike abilities that are closely related to one another, if so desired. This is often recommended when building a deific character, since it assists the player in building a metaphysical profile their creation will be pursuing through the ages.
Note that some powers are vastly more potent than others. These particularly versatile abilities will occupy more than one power 'slot' on a character, whether chosen or rolled up randomly. These powers will have a number in parenthesis after their name (such as a (2), for instance). This will determine how many power 'slots' they use up when added to one's character.
Table 5: Power Categories
|01-07||Biological Control||08-13||Combination||14-20||Energy Control
|21-27||Energy Generation||28-33||Faith||34-40||Matter Control
|41-47||Mental Control||48-53||Mental Enhancement||54-60||Movement
|61-67||Physical Control||68-73||Physical Enhancement||74-80||Physical Weaponry
|81-87||Power Control||88-93||Reality Control||94-00||Sensory
Table 6: Biological Control Powers
Table 7: Combination Powers
Table 8: Energy Control Powers
Table 9: Energy Generation Powers
Table 11: Matter Control Powers
Table 13: Mental Enhancement Powers
Table 14: Movement Powers
Table 15: Physical Control Powers
Table 16: Physical Enhancement Powers
Table 17: Physical Weaponry Powers
Table 18: Power Control Powers
Table 19: Reality Control Powers
Determining Power Ranks
Once a player has determined his or her deific being's ascendant abilities, their power levels should be set. Alternate between tables B, D, F, and H to do this, though in campaigns with access to hyperexhaustive and hyperkinetic ranks, roll on tables C, E, G, and I, instead. With this done, the player may gamble on the ranks so indicated if he or she chooses.
They may do this once if their character has three or less ascendant skills, twice if he or she has from four to six super-powers, or thrice if the character has seven or more divine abilities.
Character / Power Limitations
Players are often unhappy with the ranks they've rolled up for their character. Even after adjusting power ranks with gambling attempts, they're just not satisfied with what they've come up with. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as sometimes one has a specific vision in mind for their character; this is where limitations come in. A player may subject their character to limitations to make them more powerful.
Limitations come in two distinct flavors: power limitations and character limitations. A power limitation is just that, an altering of how said power works to the detriment of the player, as compared to others who can use this ability. A power so limited may not affect certain objects or beings, can only be used during certain specific time periods, or may otherwise function in a manner others may find unusual or restrictive.
Character limitations, however, change the nature of every power a person uses, not just one. A character limitation can simply be a power limitation that 'works' on every single power, may instead be some other alteration to the basic working of powers in general, or even some other constraint that seriously hampers how a character operates (such as an inability to move without the aid of powers).
At any rate, the severity of the limitation determines just how much of a power boost the character may receive. Limitations come in four flavors: weak, strong, very strong, and extreme. A weak limitation is just that, a minor crimp in an ability's effectiveness, and only offers a +1 CS. Each successive limitation offers another +1 CS to the power rank, but as their names imply, they become increasingly, well, limiting.
Alternately, a character can take a limitation on a power to replace one already built in to it; some powers, like those involving time, have several such constraints already worked into them. With the permission of the Judge, players may swap out one limitation for another, as long as the new limitation would be equally as inconvenient (this allows a player to better craft the character they imagine in their heads).
Character / Power Enhancements
Similarly, a player might have more than enough power (or might think such, at any rate), or simply wants more 'bang for their buck' out of their existing power roster. If this is the case, they may decide to empower their abilities with enhancements. Like limitations, enhancements have four levels of power, including weak, strong, very strong, and extreme, each of which adds a subsequent -1 CS modifier to one's power ranks.
In exchange for suffering from the effects of this modifier, the character's ability will benefit from an improvement of some sort. Moving a power up one speed or range category is considered a strong enhancement, while two is an extreme enhancement. At the same time, a power can be given a hyperkinetic rank if not already rolled randomly, serving as an extreme enhancement to the specific power it applies to.
Like limitations, enhancements are difficult to apply across an entire character, though this isn't impossible. While speeds and ranges vary from power to power, things such as initiative bonuses can apply to all a character's actions and powers. Alternately, one might opt to gain a hyperkinetic ability score, which is considered a weak character enhancement (thus applying a -1 CS to all of one's powers).
Usually, the reduction in rank an enhancement inflicts is enough to make up the difference. This can make purchasing new powers more difficult down the line, though, particularly if a character enhancement is in effect; a new power to be affected by an enhancement must be bought at a rank high enough that, upon applying the negative CS, it will at least work at the normal starting value.
Slightly more palatable than limitations or enhancements, quirks are minor changes to a character that either saddle him or her with some disadvantage or other, or enhance some trait of theirs. They can also be used to raise the rank one or more of a character's powers work at if so desired, within the confines of that system. The quirks rules have more on this, but the quirk tables are presented here, for convenience.
Normally, quirks are a voluntary affair - players may use quirks or not, as they see fit. They are presented below in the format of random rolling tables for two reasons, however. The first is for the Judge's use, to quickly generate random characters when time is of the essence. Alternately, a player may roll randomly if they want or need a quirk and don't know what to pick. Not that he or she is bound by such a roll, of course.
Quirks are divided up into the beneficial and deleterious quirks of a physical, mental, and role play nature. Those quirks which cost (or grant) two quirk points are noted with a two in parenthesis (2), while those that can be taken at multiple levels are noted with an asterisk in parenthesis (*).
Table 21: Quirks Categories
|01-17||Physical (beneficial)||18-33||Physical (deleterious)||34-50||Mental (beneficial)
|51-67||Mental (deleterious)||68-83||Role-Play (beneficial)||84-00||Role-Play (deleterious)
Table 22: Physical Quirks (beneficial)
Table 23: Physical Quirks (deleterious)
Table 24: Mental Quirks (beneficial)
Table 25: Mental Quirks (deleterious)
Table 26: Role-Play Quirks (beneficial)
Table 27: Role-Play Quirks (deleterious)
The talents your freshly built godhead begins play with are determined like you wouldl with any other character, beginning by rolling up their number of initial talents on table 28. Then, roll for the category each talent will belong to on table 29. To finish up, roll for individual talents using tables 30 through 37, one table for each applicable category of talents.
However, the actual talents a character has really should be determined by his or her origin. Keeping this in mind, the Judge may well opt to let a player choose some (or all of) the talents their divine being possesses, allowing him or her a lot more creative control over their character. Another thing to consider is that a talent can function at a higher 'level' than normal.
There are three 'tiers' of talents, each providing an increasing bonus to the applicable FEATs involved with said talent. When generating these heightened skills, though, keep in mind that they cost more; a level 2 talent counts as two talents, while a level 3 talent counts as four. This can get expensive fast, but is a great way to showcase what your character is really good at.
Also, some talents cost more than others (before levels of such are considered). A talent that has a number in parenthesis counts as that many talents during character generation; these are mostly background talents but some others cost more. Similarly, the Student talent costs all of one's initial talent slots, for it by definition implies that a body does not have any other talents.
Table 28: Number of Talents
|01-17||Two talents||18-33||Three talents||34-50||Four talents
|51-67||Five talents||68-83||Six talents||84-00||Seven talents
Table 29: Talent Categories
Table 30: Background Talents
Table 31: Behavioral Talents
Table 32: Environmental Talents
Table 33: Fighting Talents
Table 34: Miscellaneous Talents
Table 35: Professional Talents
Table 36: Scientific Talents
Also presented for your convenience is the table used to detail the initial number of contacts a new character will have; it is available as table 38 in the Deionomicon. Table 39, then, lists the types of contacts a deific character may have upon the start their career, if the player needs any ideas; one does not need to roll up contact types randomly if he or she doesn't want to.
Like quirks or talents, contacts can be taken at one of three levels of importance; for example, a police contact might be a beat cop (level 1), an FBI operative (level 2), or even an Interpol agent (level 3). Similarly, contacts have an increase of cost in 'contact slots' depending on their level - a level 2 contact counts as two contacts, while a level 3 contact costs four contact 'slots'.
Table 38: Number of Starting Contacts
|01-17||Two contacts||18-33||Three contacts||34-50||Four contacts
|51-67||Five contacts||68-83||Six contacts||84-00||Seven contacts
On top of all of their staggeing, larger than life capabilities, deific beings also have their pick of conventional, mundane equipment. These devices won't be the kind that make or break a body in combat for the most part, but they often fill in holes on a divine character's roster when needed - or, at the very least, add a bit of style to their life.
Common equipment a character can possess depends on their Resources. One may automatically have any gear with a price equal to his or her Resources rank or less, and may start out with materials of up to their Resources rank +2 CS with but a small explanation (the character has a yacht that she paid off previously). Anything more exorbitant must be approved by the Judge, but isn't necessarily out of the question.
It's mostly just a matter of feasibility and availability at that point.
Systematic (Point Based) Method
Players begin with fifty (50) points with which to build their deific character. They may spend these points as they wish, only limited by the campaign's power level ceiling. For example, a dimension-hopping, multiverse-shaking campaign may limit characters to Shift X (150) or less on most ranks. Ask your Judge about his or her campaign limits - if only to be sure before pulling out all the stops!
To begin with, determine how far above (or below) the norm the character will be in each ability score; for our purposes, the 'norm' will be Typical (6) rank. For every +1 CS a player applies to each spend one point, and for each -1 CS applied to these values, add one point. A deific character need not hold any ability scores back, as they are not curtailed by any preconceived notions regarding 'human ability'.
A starting character is assumed to have Typical (6) Resources and a Popularity score of zero (0). One may alter these ability scores as they can any other, though at double the cost for each CS (Incredible (40) ranked Resources would cost eight points, for example). If one intends to purchase the Heir to Fortune background talent, they shouldn't alter this 'base' Resources score any. Health and Karma are determined normally.
An opposed Popularity score (negative for heroes, positive for villains) is worth two points, no matter how great it is.
Before purchasing his or her powers, one should determine their deific origin (if this has not already been decided), for this may provide a bonus power or character limitation down the line. When buying powers, each rank in each power costs one point, starting at Feeble (2) rank. The upper rank of each ascendant ability is only limited by the campaign's power level ceiling (again, ask your Judge about this if necessary).
Note that a character's bonus inherent power, as listed above in the Deific Deviations section, need not be purchased via the point-based system. The player building a character with this kind of ability may roll randomly for a power rank, if their bonus inherent has one, and then spend points to increase its rank further if desired. But points need not be spent on this power during character generation.
Costs can be controlled by adding limitations, which can apply to either one power or all a character's powers. Whether applied to one power or globally to the character as a whole, weak limitations reduce the cost of an ability by one point, strong limitations by two points, very strong limitations by three points, and extreme limitations by four points. Consider the effect of such limitations before counting your point savings!
Remember that all powers have a minimum cost of one (1) point, no matter how limited they may be.
At this point, a player building a character who wields a divine device must decide which of their powers are entirely reliant upon possession of their deific artifact. This is because such powers are considered strongly limited, and will provide the player a considerable discount for them. If they'd like to squeeze more power out of their character, a player can add most, if not all, of their powers to this device.
Moving the other direction, a player may enhance one or more powers. A weak enhancement increases the cost by one point, strong enhancements add two points, very strong enhancements raise the cost by three points, and extreme enhancements add four points to a power's final cost. Such enhancements include improving a power's range or speed categories, as well as other augmentations to its functionality.
Remember that many powers cost more than the base value; faith, for example, costs five points per rank. Powers with a heightened cost are so noted in the character generation tables listed above (those with numbers in parenthesis after the name). Limitations and enhancements are multiplied in value by this cost; for instance, a strong limitation on faith would reap a ten point discount.
If your Judge allows their use in his or her campaign, one thing to consider is the use of Hyperkinetic and Hyperexhaustive rank qualifiers. These can each be purchased in the point system if allowed, being treated as either an extreme enhancement (in the form of a Hyperkinetic power) or an extreme limitation (in the form of a Hyperexhaustive power). Creating a hyperkinetic ability score is a weak character enhancement.
Both can be very unbalancing in their own way, however, so check to make sure their use is okay.
Once a character's powers are determined, he or she may purchase talents and contacts as they see fit, each costing one point. If one would like heightened talents or contacts (both come in three tiers), they must pay two points for a level two talent or contact, or four points for a level three talent or contact. The Student background talent costs five points, but cannot be purchased with any other talent (save for Heir to Fortune).
A player may use remaining points to purchase beneficial quirks - or add a few points to pad weak areas with deleterious quirks. Most quirks give (or take) one point, but if purchased at a higher level, they function in much the same way as talents or contacts in this regard (two points for a level two quirk, four points for a level three quirk). Also, quirks without level but that count double cost (or give) two points.
Next, determine the normal gear the character possesses. As is the case with randomly generated characters, deific beings built with the point based system may choose any standard gear that is readily available in the campaign, as long as it falls within a few CS of their Resources rank. If they want something more expensive, the player must give a good reason for such, though the Judge has veto power over improbable items.
Once the player is out of points, it's up to the Judge to look over what the player has wrought. Does the character's math add up? Does it fall within predetermined campaign limitations for power level? If nothing appears to be wrong, and the Judge likes what he or she sees, they should approve what a player has created, and then allow him or her to complete the last portion of their character's creation.
Though they probably should have started with such.
Filling In The Blanks
Once all the basic details concerning your godhead have been ascertained, it's time to 'fill in the blanks', or to detail all of their personal and background information, the stuff you can't quantify with dice rolls or points. Who are they? What do they look like? Where are they from? How well do they play with others? How have they managed to become more than mortal? And did they make any enemies in the process?
With the sole exception of any related deities present in one's background (who the Judge must generate, save for perhaps his, her, its, or their names), all other character information must be determined by the player to truly make it their creation, and to really 'flesh it out'. This is often the most difficult part of the character generation process, the part where many tend to fail.
However, with a little effort and some serious consideration, the answers to these questions can make that sheet of paper with all the funny words on it really come alive!
"Ray! If someone asks you if you are a god... you say YES!!" - Winston Zeddemore, Ghostbusters
Deific entities are much like other ascendant beings, in that they have access to a wide array of super-human abilities, whether of an inherent or trained nature - or perhaps some mixture of both. They differ, however, in that those touched by the divine largely concern themselves with the long game, being less focused on immediate issues. Eternity tends to be their plaything, after all.
While this sounds most obvious with gods and demigods, or even those that experience multiple incarnations across infinity, the truth is that all deific beings operate in the same basic fashion. Even if the host of a legacy or the bearer of a divine artifact meet their fate, whether or not such an end is premature as far as they are concerned, their powers will at least move on to a new wielder.
This is the simple thread that binds all deifics together. One way or another, their agendas can continue over vast tracts of time, whether or not the specific mind, body, or soul that they started out with persists alongside them. The primary difference between one deific and another, aside from the basic mechanics which determine how such persistence expresses itself, then, is how they go about furthering their goals.
Some deities are perfectly happy as they are, for instance, feeling no need to accumulate power. Others, meanwhile, wish to amass vast sums of energy generated by the veneration of their person. And still more do not actively encourage others to worship them, though congregations of those faithful to whatever metaphysical profile they've chosen to represent, if any, nonetheless crop up here and there.
Similarly, deifics are often defined by how they relate to their peers. Some gods go out of their way to avoid the notice of their fellow deities, to better reduce the likelihood of their vulnerabilities being exploited. Still others confront their divine rivals to co-opt their efforts, or to give their endless existence more (to them) meaning through challenge. And again, still more fall in the middle of these extremes.
Furthermore, immortals' origins act to shape how they go about their business, though how mortals perceive them does so, as well. While the energy generated by worship empowers deities, faith can work to their detriment if their stable of worshipers begin to regard in them... differently. This is one reason older gods eventually abandon faith generating exercises - they don't wish to lose control of what they are.
And that is the flip side of the tremendous might that mortal followers can deliver to their patron deities. Faith is a powerful force, and can act on a deity even as he or she wields it to further their own ends. It is the desires of sentient beings made manifest, after all, and it can be very difficult for a deity to exhibit one nature when the fervent adulation of their faithful paints them in a different light, indeed.
In short, the existence of deifics transcends that of mere mortals, but is simultaneously beholden to it. They can shape the nature of existence itself through the power of faith, which their very life forces are responsive to, but can in turn be shaped by this power if they're not careful. And how they walk this fine line delineates the difference between obscure gods and deities of renown!
While their intimidating ability scores and impressive ascendant powers go a long way towards describing what deific beings are capable of, these quantities fall short of the bar in one vital area: they fail to explain just how gods manage to perform the feats of legend they're so infamous for. You know, building worlds using the hearts of dead monsters, for example, or perhaps causing a rain of blood.
This is where the power of faith comes in. When they genuinely worship something, either actively or passively, mortals generate a spectral energy that coalesces around the subject of their veneration. While just about anything can be the focus of faith, it usually requires a deific being to perceive this energy and exploit it to their own ends - though there are exceptions to this general rule.
Either way, those who can collect this accumulated spectral power, the product of the focused desires of mere mortals, can then use it to perform what might be called miracles. Whether these astounding feats are performed with the best interests of their worshipers in mind, or instead for more selfish purposes, deifics can wield faith in almost any fashion they can imagine!
Faith Versus Belief
Before going any further, it's a good idea to delineate the differences between faith and belief. When you get down to it, the two different phenomenon are rather similar, after all. Both involve what's going on within the head of a sentient being acting to alter reality to some extent. Where the two differ, though, is in where the power to change the very nature of existence has been focused.
Belief is an impetus for change in the flow of causality that is caused by a sentient being's overwhelming adherence to some philosophy or another, no matter how sensible. This change causes reality to function differently for the believer, which often results in the manifestation of ascendant abilities that reflect the belief's nature, and anyone who possesses similar beliefs can conceivably acquire the same powers.
Faith, on the other hand, is a spectral power generated by a sentient's veneration of something or other. This energy does not reside within the faithful, instead being accumulated upon whatever it is they have decided to worship. Thus, the faithful cannot directly utilize the energy generated by their faith, but if they venerate a being who can wield this energy, they may well receive indirect benefits as a result of its creation.
In other words, belief can change a believer directly, while faith can change the world outside the faithful. And while the two phenomenon are different, there's nothing stopping the two from occurring together - or a deific being exploiting the beliefs of a mortal to generate more faith in themselves. But since the terms are so closely intertwined, it is good to know the difference.
In the course of existence, it is inevitable that mere mortals will begin to venerate persons, places, or things, if not outright shower them with worship. This is simply a function of how the sentient mind works, imparting divine characteristics upon various components of its environment. A lot of the time, nothing comes of this devotion, the subject of such having no means of making use of the attention.
However, the target of such focused appreciation may well be able to perceive the benefaction generated by mortal minds towards him or her. Those aware of the faith directed towards their person might also perceive a means of using this energy to great effect, whether for themselves or for those who generate it in the first place - if not both. Further, they may wish to acquire ever greater amounts of faith.
But how does a deific being do this? By encouraging worship of their person, of course! Faith primarily accumulates as a result of direct worship. When a mortal being begins to earnestly worship something, they immediately generate one point of faith for the subject of their reverence, an amount which is similarly created after every subsequent year that they hold said subject in similarly high esteem.
This direct idolization can be fostered in any number of fashions, whether it involves the naked display of miraculous action, supporting a church devoted to oneself, or even subtle word of mouth. But ultimately, the key to generating faith is giving mortal beings a reason to worship oneself in the first place, which most often involves getting down to earth and doing a whole lot of leg work.
The primary source of faith for deific beings is direct worship - in other words, the adulation of mortal beings. But this isn't the only way a divinity can receive this special, hard fought resource. No, another means of acquiring faith is through the zeitgeist, that 'spirit of the moment' which is made up of mankind's collective unconscious, and is steeped in superstition, urban legend, and various works of fiction.
Responsible for the existence of legacy powers, the zeitgeist is also a font for serendipitous faith, the primary power source of abstract entities. While they're not a form of worship, per se, superstitions and the like are nonetheless held in high regard by a large number of people, and can also produce the energy required to change reality. The trick is that this serendipitous faith accumulates differently than normal.
How this works is that, when enough people hold stock in an idea, however strange or mundane it may happen to be, it will generate serendipitous faith. This form of the spectral energy will accumulate in an amount of points equal to the percentage of the population who adhere to it on a monthly basis. Thus, if half the people believe crossing the path of a black cat is bad luck, that notion will generate 50 points of faith.
This energy, while it sounds like a lot, will then be divided amongst anyone who represents the metaphysical profile of bad luck within that population. This can be any number of abstract entities, legacy characters, full-on deities, or any other deific beings active in the area that fits the bill. And if nobody actually does fit properly, that creates an opening for any godheads looking for a quick source of faith!
Collecting faith is one thing, but how does one use it... and to what end? As it turns out, all deific beings have the inherent ability to wield the energies generated by faith in their person. The ascendant powers which consume faith to function, whether in part or in full, are not automatically available for immediate use by deifics, however, and making them available takes considerable effort for the most part.
In other words, a deific being may develop a given faith power as a stunt off of whatever ability it is that makes them a deific being in the first place. The catch is that such power stunts will always start out at Feeble (2) rank, instead of having operating ranks based upon the power they branch off from. Unless a character begins play with a faith power, that is, at which point its rank is generated normally.
Upon acquiring a faith power, a deific being can develop and wield it at will, though doing so most often costs them some of that valuable energy. Each faith power describes its operating costs, whether they're paid each time the ability is used or on a one time basis. The only limitation on them, then, is coming up with the spectral fuel that each requires to operate (save for those faith powers that work for 'free').
This may sound like a lot of work, and it is, but the payoff for all this toil can be immense for deific beings. Faith powers allow them to both reinvest their accumulated energies into the creation of yet more faith directed at themselves, and the ability to perform truly astonishing deeds that they simply shouldn't seem capable of, whether being in many places at once or doing literally anything imaginable.
The Perils of Faith
While much has been made of just how deific beings are empowered by the faith of mortal sentients, allowing them to perform great deeds that defy logic and/or causality itself, little has been said about the flip side of this energy. Based on the desires of those who generate it, faith can exert influence on the divine entity who wields it, particularly if they don't do a good job of policing just how they are worshiped.
If a group of worshipers begin to venerate a godhead in a different fashion than he or she actually behaves, there is the very real danger that said godhead will begin to be influenced by this differing faith. For example, a deity of law and order begins to be followed by a cult of vigilante extremists. If they use the faith this offshoot group generates in their name, the god might find themselves compelled to act how they'd like.
The emergence of this danger can be represented by multiple pools of faith, which the player will usually know about as soon as the Judge begins to sequester their faith into different sums. This gives the player of a deific character the ability to investigate where this deviant faith is coming from, and either nip it in the bud (if they don't like the implications) or to run with it (if they don't really mind).
Either way, players using 'tainted' faith must pass a yellow Psyche (will) FEAT roll upon next making a decision that would be contrary to how their variant faithful think they should act. Failure of this FEAT will compel the deific to perform as his or her splinter church (or whatever) prefers, which may or may not cause them some grief with their primary source of faith, depending on the god in question.
After undertaking many adventures, or simply vanquishing their foes for a time, a deific entity may have gained new insight into the world and how it works; in other words, Karma. For the most part, godheads use Karma much like any other character type, spending just as much when purchasing new talents or contacts, or when enhancing a current ability or power rank; this is handled as is defined in Living and Dying.
One facet of Karma use that is different for a divine entity is the purchase of new faith powers.
Purchasing New Powers
Since so much of a divine entity's ascendant abilities are inherent to who and what they are, it is hard for them to acquire even more powers for the most part. These are permanent changes to a divinity's mind, body, or soul, after all, which is different than merely subjecting oneself to radiation, since one has to take into account how people venerate the deity in question before even beginning to proceed.
A new ascendant ability has a base cost of three thousand (3,000) Karma points for divine characters, in addition to a fee equal to the new power's original rank number times one hundred (100). Picking up a brand new power at Amazing (50) rank, for instance, would cost the character a total of eight thousand (8,000) Karma (base cost of 3,000 plus the power rank (50) times 100).
If the adventure (or whatever) a character underwent to gain their new power(s) involves the acquisition of a special catalyst, the player may reduce the base cost of that power by one thousand (1,000) Karma. Depending on just how complicated the procedure was, up to three catalysts may be required, which can completely eliminate the base cost of the new ascendant ability entirely.
The idea here is to properly reward a player's effort when they genuinely work for their new powers.
All of the above assumes powers with a standard cost; in other words, a power that has a listed cost of one point per rank. If a power is listed as having a cost equal to 2 points per rank, double its total Karma cost, and so on. If a power is listed with a 'flat cost', the price (after the base fee) is only 250 Karma points per point; circular vision, for instance, would cost 500 additional Karma.
Whether or not a divine character begins play with abilities that exploit the power of faith, such beings may readily acquire them once they begin to accumulate that strange, otherworldly energy. Regardless of what form of deific being they are, the divine may acquire new faith powers as if they were a power stunt off of whatever it is that makes them divine in the first place.
Such power stunts will always begin play at Feeble (2) rank, regardless of the original ability's rank, if any. Each attempt to master a power stunt costs a divine entity 100 Karma points, as they are more difficult to introduce variation into than a mere spell or psionic. Advancing the power rank of any stunt a deific being has mastered, whether or not it is mired in the power of faith, is accomplished normally.
Stunts attempted on non-faith powers have their rank determined normally, but still cost the same per try.
Optional Divine Concerns
While a character wielding divine powers 'plays' similar to textbook characters (mutants, etc.), the fact that their power is derived from the energy bequeathed unto them by worshipful sentient beings gives them an added series of concerns. Optional rules for textbook characters may or may not apply to deifics, considering they live life somewhat on the other side of the probability curve, but that's neither here nor there.
Divine entities in particular may or may not suffer from additional rules modifications that better highlight what makes them different from other player characters. Of course, such optional rules might not be a good fit for one's campaign overall, so consult your Judge before assuming they're in play. Some optional campaign rules specifically for deific entities include the following:
Pantheons: while deities are incredibly powerful beings, the simple truth of the matter is that while rare men and women may, in fact, be an island, sometimes it's hard to go it alone. This is usually why like-minded gods will tend to band together into a pantheon, a group of divinities who share a like background, culture, ethics, goals, or perhaps some other quality that only they can perceive.
While teaming up with others has obvious benefits, such as strength in numbers and the ability to focus a large amount of energy upon a single problem, forging a pantheon has additional perks. For one thing, a pantheon can share a common home plane and/or sanctuary, which further strengthens the position of its members if confronted or cornered within their most vulnerable of spaces (backstabbing notwithstanding).
Furthermore, there's all the faith. When joining a pantheon, one half of a deity's subsequently accumulated faith will go to him or her, while the rest will pool up for the pantheon's use. Similarly, faith generated by the veneration of the entire pantheon is divvied up in a like fashion, half going to the actual pantheon and the rest being split amongst its members - which helps even those gods who don't pursue such power.
How the pool of faith a pantheon has is wielded depends on its membership, of course, but most often it is managed by a singular individual. In human mythology, one can look to entities such as Marduk, Odin, Ra, or Zeus for examples of such. Whoever is in control of a pantheon's hoard may bring it to bear as they see fit, whether to suit their own ends or, as is often the case, to aid its members in their goals.
Pilfering: mortals are funny, when you think about it, and will readily worship just about anything given the proper motivation. Or even when not, really, as they'll venerate rocks, trees, rivers, and other random elements in their environment. Superstition is a strange thing, after all, and causes people to hold fast to the weirdest ideas - this is why abstracts exist in the first place!
But the important thing about this tendency of mortals worshiping unliving, inanimate objects is that this causes such things to accumulate faith. While this spectral power can actually cause the spontaneous generation of a divinity under some circumstances, the greater likelihood is that this power will sit unclaimed, forever. Unless, of course, a deity of some sort comes along and takes it for themselves!
When pilfering unclaimed faith, a deific being poses as the person, place, or thing that is being venerated, essentially tricking the mortals who worship it into directing their faith towards him or her. The idea is that, by convincing enough people that they represent whatever it is they were previously worshiping, a god eventually becomes the essence of this thing - metaphysically, at least.
To accomplish this, a godhead must generate an amount of faith equal to just over half of that which has accumulated upon the object(s) which they are attempting to pilfer from. Once they manage this, the pilferer can claim all of that unused and idle power for themselves. If they fail in this effort, however, that energy will remain out in the open - both the faith generated before their meddling and after.
Poaching: when gods don't have full control over their message, and worshipers begin to venerate them in a manner which does not jibe with how they actually are, weird things can happen. As described above, this can cause a deity's actions to be manipulated by fringe elements of their own faithful, at least when they make use of such tainted faith. But what if this energy is never used?
Well, another deity just might take it for their own! A deific entity can pose as another god, or at the very least, how some sect or another views that god, to put the moves on any associated, corrupted faith they may have. The basic means of achieving this are essentially identical to the act of pilfering faith, mechanically speaking, the difference mainly involving the fact that this faith is someone else's.
A deity will know immediately when someone is attempting to poach their errant faith, even if they're not quite sure exactly who is behind this heinous act, and they will almost invariably react negatively to someone taking what is theirs. This even when the energies involved aren't totally to the god's liking, and would likely harm their overall message if they ever deigned to wield them.
But if a sum of undesirable, unutilized faith is sizable enough, it just might be worth it for a deity to attempt to poach it from one of their fellows. Faith is faith, after all, and if it's easier for one god to engage in subterfuge to gain a massive lump sum than to build it up the hard way, why not give it a shot? Occasionally, where poaching is concerned, the risk is indeed worth the reward.
Deific Power Collection: for convenience while generating your very own deific being, or perhaps simply to aid in understanding the variation with which immortality can occur, the six deific powers are presented here. If a character's origins indicate they should have this ability, the text within should aid players in determining just what they're capable of.
Faith Power Collection: collected in one place for your reading pleasure, in the event that you do not wish to leaf through all of the many and various powers in the Universal Heroes' Powers document, are all eighteen of the faith powers deific entities can make use of. From Avatar to Signature Power, everything one needs to exploit the power of faith is assembled here!
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