Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Faithful Space Knight

Making a Jedi with Divine Favor couldn't be simpler: Take Divine Favor 8 [45], and you have 5 points for whatever character-candy you want... probably learned prayers, but we'll come back to that.

So how does it work? When the Jedi needed to invoke the Force, he'd spend 1d6 seconds concentrating and then roll against his Divine Favor. On a success (that is, on an 8 or less) he'd invoke the Force, and he'd roll a Reaction roll. A really bad result means the Force lashes out against him or causes him problems. On a decent result, the Force does something and it benefits the hero, but it's often a minimal intervention. On a really high roll, the Force might do something spectacular, but only if the Force feels it's warranted (thus, it only ever does as much as the GM wants).

Consider, for example, the following scene: A dark Space Knight needs to get at a fabled force sword that has fallen far from him, while another novice Space Knight is also trying to get at the fabled force sword. The dark Space Knight invokes Divine Favor by closing his eyes and concentrating for a few seconds and holding his hand out to the force sword hilt. He rolls and successfully invokes Divine Favor, then rolls for a reaction. On a high reaction result, the force sword would fly to his hand and then instantly ignite, burning with a baleful glow that terrifies all onlookers, as though to say “This is my chosen champion. Fear him.” On a more modest reaction, the force sword hilt would merely fly to him. On a really bad reaction, though... it might even fly to his opponent, landing in the hands of the female novice, as though to say “The Divine chooses this person as your slayer, you filthy patricide.”

Of course, this model instantly shows a few flaws. First, 8 or less seems rather difficult to come up with, which makes the Force rather unreliable. Let's look at that first.

Divine Favor Modifiers

Divine Favor itself requires that the petitioner follows a strict code, and notes that the power comes from the God, rather than from the character. That means in an area where the character cannot contact God, rare as those might be, his power will fail him (“Where is your God now?”), and if he violates the principles of his faith, he loses access to his power.

Choosing the principles of faith is very much a setting decision so isn't one I want to decide on just yet, but Disciplines of Faith (Monasticism or Mysticism) fit in at -10 points pretty nicely, and either could fit a Jedi well enough. As for losing access to the Force, we could choose to use Power Damper collars as a way of removing access to the Force, though I personally think Divine Favor should be slightly harder to remove than Psionic Powers.

Then the Petition Roll Modifiers on page 5 offer some ways to make calling up on the Force more reliable. Broken down roughly, they are:
  • Taking additional time
  • Praying loudly/dramatically and making a Religious Ritual roll
  • Praying with great numbers of co-religionists
  • “Sanctity” rules similar to mana level rules
  • -1 per successful prayer
The result is this: If your character takes a lot of time, is loudly religious, has a whole congregation behind him, stands in a place of power and rarely asks for miracles, he's highly likely to succeed (our Divine Favor 8 character would successfully petition in this situation on a 16 or less. Virtually guaranteed!). If your character takes as little time as possible, prays quietly and alone and has prayed often, he's highly unlikely to succeed (our Divine Favor 8 character would successfully petition in this situation on a 4 or less if he'd already successfully petitioned twice).

Jedi are rarely loud and one's connection to the Force is always personal, so while Yoda might join his council in communion with the Force, he doesn't go to a great congregation of thousands and ask them to “commune with the Force with him.”

Fortunately, the very same box suggests using GURPS Thaumatology to generate more modifiers! This means that we can do basically whatever we want with these rules! For the sake of balance, I'd rather keep them close to the original modifiers where possible, but note that the sky is the limit, however you wish to tackle things.

Taking one's time seems to be a fine idea. Jedi do regularly “up and use the force,” but most of the time that they do something tricky, they stop for at least a few seconds and concentrate. While the 5-minutes and 2-hour rule seem odd, the older Jedi do seem to do this on occasion, especially for epic-scale stuff, like searching into the future. The “optional rule” of a “one-second prayer” seems highly appropriate to the high-octane nature of Psi-Wars.

Loud prayer seems inappropriate. The logic seems to be making the fact that one is calling upon Divine Favor obvious and succeeding at a skill roll should grant one a bonus. We can replace that with “closing your eyes and either entering an inconvenient posture of meditation, or pointing to the thing of your focus and succeeding at a Meditation roll.”

Large congregations are utterly inappropriate. We need to find another way to generate up to +4 points in modifiers, noting that carting around 25, 100, 1000 or 10,000 people is increasingly tricky. Thaumatology includes rules for gaining +1 to your spell-casting for every 2 HP you sacrifice. We could do the same with FP, but it would be fair to double that cost: +1 to your petition roll for every 4 FP you spend, explaining why some novice Jedi seem so exhausted by the end of their petition. Deep emotional connection also seems to matter. Perhaps if your target is someone with whom you have a noted/recurring relationship, you gain a +1, while a Sense of Duty, or the target of an Obsession or a blood relative is +2 for your petition attempt.

This means our Space Knight could spend 8 fatigue for +2 and if the subject of his petition was his sister, he gained another +2, he closed his eyes and pointed to her for +1, and took 1d6 seconds to petition, he'd successfully do so on a 13 or less! That looks right enough for now.

The Reaction Roll modifiers seem to amount to “How appropriate the GM finds it” and that suits Psi-Wars just as well. Invoking the Force to give your sister a haircut is likely to result in some kind of backlash, while doing so to save her from falling to her death in a fiery pit is highly likely to result in some great bonus for you.

The negative results of a prayer are worth looking at, though. The Bad modifiers are fine, though I would avoid ominous thunderclaps and replace them with an hour-long headache (Moderate Pain, -2) or some ominous pyschokinetic activity in the area (such as the rattling turning of all statues away from the petitioner or something), while the Very Bad Results should probably avoid the strike of lightning. Instead, perhaps a psychokinetic storm, an intense headache for a few days (Severe pain for -4) or the lingering aura of dread that applies a -4 to reaction penalties.

Prayers and Miracles

So what does the Force actually do for you? Let's go through the listed Divine Powers and grab the ones that make sense. The Divine Powers book doesn't have that many powers in it, so I've supplemented it with Pyramid #3-36: Dungeon Saints by Antoni Ten Monros. While Dungeon Fantasy isn't particularly useful to Psi Wars, Dungeon Saints are warrior-saints, which totally fits Space Knights, thus quite a few of their powers are suitable. Note also the Fast Prayers advantage (page 8 of the same article), very appropriate to the typical Space Knight.

Minor (Neutral Reaction)

Note that almost all of these are under 5 points, making any of them a pretty good Learned Prayer for the remaining 5 points for our Space Knight.

Final Rest isn't strictly appropriate... but a ritual that allows someone to return as a Force Ghost might fit.

Confidence seems the most obvious. If you “trust in your feelings” then suddenly you get Ridiculous Luck.

Powerful Conviction also seems like a good choice, though we'd need to adjust what talent it applies to.

Flesh Wounds could work. The Force knits your wounds and allows a Jedi to recover quickly from his injuries, making one virtually unstoppable given time to recover.

Sermonize: This might explain the powerful charisma some Jedi seem to exhibit and why people have no problem letting them sit on the capital world despite their obvious mind-control powers. It also makes them excellent and inspiring leaders (or Emperors...).

Divine Guidance regularly shows up in Star Wars as a Jedi stops to meditate in search of answers. Replace Theology with Philosophy or Meditation.

Stoicism is the sort of trick that, with some modification, turns a Dark Space Knight into an unholy terror as he blows through situations ignoring wounds (which he can heal with Flesh Wounds anyway). What is a lopped off limb to a Jedi? An inconvenience.

Major Blessing (Good Reaction)

Traveler's Blessing might seem an odd one, but it quickly turns into a must-have in a world of Hyperspace Navigation gone awry. By tapping into the Force, our Space Knights can ensure that a trip is safe, or that a random Hyperspace jump takes them “to where they need to be” or that a ship will always show up to rescue them. In effect, this prayer turns a Navigation failure from a chance for the GM to inflict something terrible on the party, to a chance for something neat or cool to happen. This also dovetails nicely with the Navigation rules without overriding the importance of a decent navigator.

Sense True Evil definitely applies to how Jedi can readily sense if someone is “of the Dark Side or not.” This allows our Jedi to look into the hearts of others and know if they can trust them or not.

Lay on Hands also seems odd... except some argue that this is precisely what Obi-Wan did when he first touched Luke and woke him, after he'd been beaten by the Tusken Raiders. Force Healing is also a common trope in the Expanded Universe (especially in games)

Holy Glory works if we remove the idea of holy light emanating out of the character, and instead a more psychic effect: everyone just feels the fear/awe in the presence of the Jedi. This allows a small character like Yoda to snap out a word and have the entire room fall silent and cower before him (moments before he uses his Sermonize to tell the Republic what it really needs to do).

Consecrate Ground can turn a mundane place into a holy one, or a dark place into a mundane place. It might explain why Yoda was able to endure and use his holy powers in a dark place like Dagobah, and why the abode of a Jedi always seems holy.

See Evil works for the same reason as Sense True Evil. This lets a Jedi look into someone's heart and know what their problems are and how to fix them.

Righteous Fury: (Pyramid #3-36, page 12). “Let the Force Flow Through you.” This empowers the character, making him virtually unstoppable for a few minutes.

Guide My Hand: (Pyramid #3-36, page 11) The Typical Jedi would probably already be a weapon master, but this grants Weapon Mastery for all weapons. Note that Weapon Mastery allows one excellent defaults with weapons, so this effectively makes a character exceptional with anything he can lay his hands on.

Miraculous Power (Very Good Reaction)

Rainmaker might be appropriate if we see the Jedi as able to manipulate the weather.

Consecrate Ground (Enhanced) might work for the same reasons the normal Consecrate worked... but note that Yoda didn't Consecrate all of Dagobah. He might have chosen not to, but the typical Jedi response to unholy places is to burn them to the ground, rather than walk around blessing it all the time.

Holy Glory (Enhanced) might work for the same reasons as Holy Glory.

Lay on Hands (Enhanced) might work for the same reasons as Lay on Hands, though I'm not sure if I've ever seen a Jedi cure someone of seemingly incurable disease. It does seem like people might go to Jedi temples seeking cures from diseases that science cannot cure them from.

Righteous Fury (Enhanced): (Pyramid #3-36, page 13). As above, but moreso.

World-Shaking Miracles (Excellent Reaction)

Avenging Angel: (Pyramid #3-36, page 14). Angelic wings might seem implausible, but a floating incarnation of the Force seems pretty plausible.

Earthquake: (Pyramid #3-36, page 15). A variation of extreme psychokinetic effect. Why not shake the ground itself?

Typical Divine Space Knight

A Space Knight with 50 points of Divine Favor might have Divine Favor 7 [35], Sense True Evil [7], Stoicism [5], and Confidence [3]. With one additional point, I'd replace Confidence with Flesh Wounds to create a character who could shrug off injuries less than those that instantly kill him, and allows him to recover exceedingly quickly. In any case, we have a character who can ignore blaster damage, knows when an evil character is nearby (“I sense a disturbance in the Force”) and regularly has luck move in his favor. Finally, with some serious concentration, meditation and fatigue, he has a pretty good chance of pulling off any of the above miracles.
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