In The Chronicles of Ceteri universe there are three types of divine gifts. The first is the province of Judeo-Christian saints and holy men. In Ceteri, there is a monotheistic deity who is the real deal and he gives powers over nature and reality to his chosen few. The second type are those who worship spirits, loa, small-g gods, and similiar beings who infuse their worshipper with a portion of their power. Finally, there are mystics who practice a form of faith-based magic as well as worshipping their chosen patron.
Saints draw on the power of God Himself. By their nature most of them are righteous men and women, though this may not always be the case. Mostly, I make PC saints stick to the “good” disadvantages like Honesty, Selfless, etc. Ceteri’s “modern” God is less Old Testament and more New Testament and it reflects this in His chosen vessels. (It should be noted that most of the wrath of God Old Testament acts in the Bible are actually Michael acting for God or in his stead and, well…Ceteri Michael is a jerkl.) Learned prayers tend to be muted or subtle in most cases.
Most saints don’t even know they possess any abilities. (Which is appropriate given that saintly folks are humble and wouldn’t think God is working through them.) Moreover, most of them lack Learned Prayers and instead have just straight Divine Favor. Again, intentional. The few who are conscious of the fact that they are a vessel for God tend to pick one or two Learned Prayers and do their best to live righteously.
Two instances of these abilities in mortal men and women that should be noted are the 36 (the Tzadikim Nistarim) and the 7 Virtues. The first are guarded by archangels from the time of their birth and usually live ordinary lives of peace and mundanity. The 36 are bound to the Tree of Knowledge by their very souls. This in turn seals out the Nameless Ones and keeps the barrier that God created functioning. As one of the 36 die an new one is chosen from the Chamber of Guf and his or her soul is sealed to the Tree of Knowledge and then incarnated on Earth. Sometimes one of the 36 become aware of who and what they are, but it’s rare and usually it’s Heaven making it known to them. Times of great trouble or unease might see one or two of the 36 awakened to help guide others to the righteous path, but more than this has been known to occur. During the Black Death seven of the Tzadikim Nistarim were awakened to help deal with the Horseman of Pestilence as he decimited Europe during his ride.
The second group, the seven Virtues, are holy men and women who are the Heavenly incarnation of one of the seven virtues on Earth. Unlike the 36 the Virtues always find out their true nature at one point or another. Additionally, the mantle of the Virtue is not like it is with the 36 – one can possess the mantle for a limited time or even willingly pass it on to another (worthy) vessel. If the 36 are the shield of Heaven on Earth, it’s the seven who are the sword. They actively fight evil in all its forms and are given the power to do so. The seven typically possess a combination of offensive and defensive abilities such as Smite or Flesh Wounds, whereas the 36 might not possess any abilities at all unless awakened and then they might have anything. When more than one of the seven are in one spot it typically means trouble for those in it.
Channelers are like Saints, but instead of getting their powers from God, they get it from powerful spirits or small-g gods. This makes them more limited in some ways and more powerful in others. They are limited in that they can only call on powers their patrons have, but receive a broader use of that power. This lets them act in very obvious ways and make them much more flashier than saints. Additionally, channelers are limited to a maximum amount of Divine Favor and Power Investiture depending on the power of the spirit they are a vessel for. This is limited to Divine Favor 10 at most or Power Investiture 4. Prayers are also limited based on the being of the channeled patron. For example, you couldn’t ask Zeus for entrance to the underworld – that is Hades domain.
Mystics are magical practitioners whose magic is fueled by their belief in a higher power. (Note: you can be a mystic of Jehovah, these are typically called thaumaturges or wonder-works and are different, but similiar, to saints.) This belief allows them to function in some ways similiar sorcerers (or hedge mages), psychics, and channelers, but their power to do magic comes straight from their patron spirit. Additionally, they have a set list of abilities they can purchase (e.g., Channeling, Medium, etc.), access to some ESP and Astral Projection abilities, and extrinsic magic (i.e., the effect-shaping ritual path magic system Ceteri uses). For psychic abilities the standard Power Modifier is swapped out for Mysticism. For magic, sorcerers buy a specific spell as a IQ/E spell. Mystics may possess Adept, but take a -60% modifier on it to represent their limited casting abilities. Some patron spirits that are powerful enough get full access to Paths instead of IQ/E skills per spell making them similiar and this is noted in their write up.
Here is an example Patron Spirit from my campaign bible:
Example Patron Spirit: Daddy Greenbacks
The zeitgeist of the American economy, Daddy Greenbacks came into being sometime in the early 18th century and has been going strong since, though in the last few years of the 21st century he’s been feeling a bit under the weather.
Maximum Divine Favor and Power Investiture: Divine Favor 7 and Power Investiture 2.
Required Disadvantages: Daddy Greenbacks requires that the mystic take Compulsive Spending (15) [-2], Greed (15) [-7], and Vow (Only use American currency) [-1].
Some or all of: Allies (bureaucrats, spirits of greed or wealth, etc.), Business Acumen 1-6, Charisma 1-5, Contact Groups (corporate employees, the IRS, etc.), Independent Income 1-20, Luck, with Aspected, Business, Status, and Wealth. Furthermore they can purchase an Affliction that adds or removes any of the following traits: Business Acumen, Charisma, Compulsive Spending, Debt, Greed, Independent Income, Miserliness, Status, and/or Wealth.
Other Notes: They also almost never have “nature” related abilities unless the city they reside in has a large zoo . . .
Picking Over the Bones
When I was designing the campaign setting I specifically wanted to be able to support multiple caster styles and multiple worshippers of different gods. But that was slightly problematic given that the Judeo-Christian God is the God with all that that entails. The Bible after all doesn’t say other deities don’t exist, just that God comes first. (Though I admit that is a bit stretching things!) Baking that assumption into my background was easy. The hard part was making it so other gods existed. In Ceteri other deities are powerful spirits or fallen angels who have been warped by their follower’s beliefs into what they are.
With mystics, I wanted a way to create medicine men, primitive shamans, etc. in a way that made sense. Blending three powers into one worked admirably, though no one has opted to play one yet. In theory it all works, the only thing that might be off is purchasing magic spells as IQ/E skills. I may need to say that 1 point yields a skill level of IQ+2, we’ll see if someone ever plays one.
And that’s it for those who wield divine power. Next up will be psychic powers I think.