GURPS101: Sin-Eating

Sin-eating is a practice that goes back for hundreds, maybe thousands of years. In essence, a sin-eater takes all the wrong-doings and evil acts a person has committed into themselves. This is typically done after the subject dies, but before they die is possible as well. Sin-Eating can be found in many cultures and religions. The Aztec goddess Tlazolteotl would take confession of sins from at the end of their lives. Jesus Christ could also be considered a sin-eater – except he performed this on a wide and enduring scale. Coming to Christ meant forgiveness of past sins and that is exactly what a sin-eater does. Additionally, since I’m gamifying this ritual practice there will be a few instances where I stretch it out a bit. Also, one of the few pop culture movies about sin-eating, The Order (2003), will be another source I draw from. The movie isn’t perfect, but it’s decent enough and shows how a sin-eater might operate as well as what benefits they might gain from the practice. Next, I’m going to use the rules for Power Corrupts from GURPS Horror (pp. 146-148). (Those that have Pyramid #3/67: Tools of the Trade – Villains might want to use those rules with these instead. If so, just swap out Corruption Points for Impurity level.) Finally, I’m going to focus on the practice of Christian sin-eating as it is the most well documented and thus easier to gamify.

Sins and the Sinner

First up, let’s talk about how to gamify sins. A sin is “an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law.” Essentially, each culture has things that are considered taboo or evil. And what is taboo or evil in one culture may not be in others. For the purposes of this system any negative disadvantage such as Bloodlust, Bully, or Sadism are considered “doors to sin” and thus sinful themselves. Whenever a character succumbs to their disadvantage they gain 1 point of Corruption per 10 points the trait is worth. For example, if a target had Bully (12) [-10] every time they succumbed to their disadvantage they would gain 1 point of Corruption. If the GM feels this is too harsh, they could opt to make it 1 point of Corruption per 10 points per game session. Thus, a sinner would gain 1 point of Corruption the first time he gave in during a game session and that’s it. This probably works best in most campaigns.

Side Effects of Sin-Eating

A sin-eater who successfully completes the ritual gains knowledge of the sins the deceased had committed during their lifetime. This is ephemeral, but important. Knowledge of events that lead to accumulation of sin can be extremely useful depending on what it was. In general, the GM should allow long-term sin-eaters to purchase Racial Memory or Reawakened to represent this knowledge base. Generally, an IQ roll will allow the sin-eater to know about the specific sins of any being he’s consecrated in this way. Secondly, sin-eaters build up a “tolerance” to the filth and smut of other souls. Represent this as a form of Damage Resistance (Limited, Other’s sins/corruption, -80%) [1/level] – whenever the sin-eater concreastes another soul subject gained corruption points from this value first. For example, if a sin-eater gained 20 points of corruption from a soul and had DR 10 (Limited, Other’s sins/corruption, -80%) he’d only gain 10 points. Sin-eaters gain the ability to purchase a special version of Detect (Esoteric) for sins. With it they can detect the sins of another (including knowing any negative disadvantages the subject might have), locations or places that have sin happening in or near it often (e.g., a brothel), and similiar. This allows for an experienced sin-eater to know what they’re getting into before they consume the sins of the deceased. Finally, for the target of the sin-eater they can no longer be tracked by supernatural abilities that target sins or similiar – the subject’s soul is wiped clean by the sin-eater.

Eating Sins

Next, let’s talk about the practice of sin-eating itself. Real world practices are as simple as “I eat this [ritual meal] and now I have taken all of [the deceased’s] sins into myself.” That’s not exactly fun. Instead, use one of the following options:

Sin-Eating is an Act

On the other hand, it might just be as simple as a single act. Transfering the sins from one person to another is a simple as eating a ritual meal that has touched the target having their sins transferred. No roll or additional act is required

Sin-Eating is of a Divine Nature

Being able to consume the sins of another is the province of saints and holy men.

Confessional

Learned Prerequisite: Divine Favor 4.
Learned Prayer Cost: 3 points.

You may spend an hour with a subject who is truly repentant of the sins and wrongs they’ve committed. Doing so saves their soul and puts them in a “state of grace” so that if they die they go to Heaven. This also makes them immune to spells, abilities, and powers that detect or locate sin.

Statistics: Blessed (Sacrament) (Divine, -10%) [14].

Sin-Eating is a Skill Roll

Transfering the sins from one person to another requires a roll against the better of Occultism+2, Religious Ritual, or Theology (Abrahamic)-2. The sins are temporarily stored in a ritual meal of bread, salt, beer, or wine. Note these were typical meal items, they could be any sort of unleavened bread and alcoholic beverage. Success means the target’s sins are transferred to a willing person (usually, the one making the roll). The above defaults assume the target knows sin-eating is possible. If such a thing isn’t known at a further -6 to rolls! If you’re transferring sins from one target to another this is at a further -2 to rolls.

Sin-Eating is a Spell

Sin-eating could be a spell that is cast. If so, here are four versions for path/book magic, ritual path magic, sorcery, and standard magic.

Consume the Sins of the Dead

Effect Shaping: Path of Spirit at -1 per 10 points of bad disadvantages or 20 points of corruption, whichever is worse; 1 hour.
Energy Accumulating: 1 point per point of bad disadvantages or 2 points of corruption, whichever is higher.

After an hour of ritualistically preparing a meal, sanctifying the body with salt and bread, the caster must consume the food in one setting and then cast the spell. Success means the subject gets a bonus to be involuntarily summoned, resurrected, or otherwise raised from the dead equal to the caster’s Path of Spirit attribute bonus (e.g., if Path of Spirit is known at IQ+5 the subject gets a +5 to resist such effects). The caster assumes the deceased corruption points with all that that entails (see above).

Sin-Eating

Spell Effects: Greater Transform Spirit x2.
Inherent Modifiers: None.
Greater Effects: 2 (x5).

This ritual allows the transfer of a person’s sins to another – typically the caster, but any willing subject will do. Successful casting of the spell transfers all corruption points from one target to another with all that that entails (see above).

Typical Casting: Greater Transform Spirit (8) + Greater Transform Spirit (8). 80 points (16×5).

Sacrement

Keywords: None.
Full Cost: 12 points.
Casting Roll: IQ.
Range: Special.
Duration: Permanent.

By spending an hour with the subject, you can make an IQ roll and assume their sins upon yourself (and all that that entails).

Statistics: Blessed (Sacrement) (Magic, -10%; Requires IQ Roll, -10%) [12]. 

Consecration (VH)

Regular

You can ritualistically consume the sins of the deceased. Success on the spell gives the deceased the effects of the Final Rest spell (Magic, p. 89) and ensures their entrance into Heaven (or other “paradise” afterlife). The caster of the spell gains all the subject’s Corruption Points at the end of this ritual and all that that entails (see above).
This is a Healing and Necromantic spell.

Duration: Permanent.
Cost: 1 per point of negative disadvantages the subject has plus 1/20th of his total corruption points..
Time to cast: Minimum 1 hour This spell is always cast ceremonially.
Prerequisite: Magery 1 . “Holy” persons may be able to cast this spell without this prerequisite.

Picking Over the Bones

Whew. That was a long post. Overall, the act of transferring the sins of one to another can take many forms and I tried to give as many options as I could. Usually, it’s between the sin-eater themselves and the deceased/target, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes the “sin load” is distributed to multiple subjects and I wanted to represent that with most of the above methods. Did you enjoy this post? Do you want to see more things like it? Make a comment and let me know!

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2 Comments

  1. I went with a couple of other variants. Healing Afflictions for Corruption, and Afflict Negated Disadvantage with takes extra time and backlash fr mental disadvantages.
    Mind Control with Conditioning was an early variation too.

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