Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Heterodox Virtues of True Communion

No! My heresy is just beginning!
Comprehending the fullness of True Communion lies beyond the reach of any single individual. While the three orthodox virtues capture perfectly the three paths of True Communion some among the practitioners of True Communion argue that they do not capture the totality of the virtues of True Communion or, perhaps, that they are but lesser virtues or distractions from the true virtues of Communion. The practitioners of Traditional Communion naturally have a low opinion of such attitudes and note that such heresy became rampant in the Knights of Communion shortly before their demise, but those who adhere to these heterodox Virtues seem to achieve genuine connection with True Communion in new and innovative ways!

Treat Heterodox virtues as identical to Orthodox virtues except for social attitudes. They may present a risk to the saint who adheres to them, but orthodox virtues have a similar risk in dogmatic devotion to ancient ideals. Importantly, following a Heterodox Virtue is not a violation of True Communion, nor a one-way ticket to a fallen state and becoming bound by Dark or Broken Communion.

The Knights of Communion have lost much since their fall, and the lingering chapters often only have a fragment of the original truths of Communion, and may have picked up new and innovative (or “heretical”) ideas about what true unity with Communion involves! Most such chapters have access to one or two Heterodox virtues!

Heterodox Virtues are not “invented” but “discovered,” usually through intense philosophical study and deep, meditative introspection. A GM who wishes to allow players to explore new heterodox virtues might use the invention system, with the governing skill being Philosophy; any such virtue is an Amazing “invention.”



Humility

The True Communion philosophy argues that the self is less important than the connections one has to others. The Virtue of Humility takes this a step further and argues that the self should not exist, that true masters of Communion should immerse their self in the grand psychic collective of the cosmic infinite until they become nothing but an extension of Its will.

The Traditionalists of Communion argue that the Virtue of Humility goes too far, that the total extinction of self risks treading into the realms of Broken Communion. Adherents disagree, arguing that the extinction of self is a necessary step to completing true communion with the cosmic infinite, that it logically follows from the virtue of Asceticism.

Humble Communities

Communities that embrace humility tend to be exceedingly modest and egalitarian. They tend to bristle at the idea of status or hierarchy, believing each to be equal; even so, if they do have a rightful leader (typically the leader of a temple), they will obey his commands without question. They often wear simple garments and engage in simple labor. Even the leaders of such communities will roll up their sleeves during the harvest season and join in.

The Code of Humility

Justice is best represented by Code of Honor (Humility) which has the following tenets:

  • DO NOT accept fame or honor for your deeds.

  • DO NOT disobey the commands of your temple

  • DO NOT give anyone outside the faith your true name

  • DO lift up and honor others for their deeds

  • DO obey the urging of Communion

The Power of Humility

Blind Investiture 5/level

Masters of the Virtue of Humility try not to exert their will through Communion, but allow it to exert Its will through them. As such, they can achieve enormous power with True Communion by allowing True Communion to enact whatever miracle it wishes! Those with Blind Investiture may add its value to the Reaction Roll from True Communion provided they do not specificy what miracle they want. This is cumulative with all other forms of reaction modifiers for True Communion, including True Investiture. Characters may have no more than 4 levels of Blind Investiture.

Statistics: Power Investiture (True Communion; Accessibility, only for General Prayers -50%; Divine Virtue +0%) [5/level]

Communal Regard 5/level

Those who follow the precepts of Humility accept no fame, honor or reputation, which means that none should admire or love them. But Communion honors those who honor them. Despite lacking any name or fame, the masters of the virtue of Humility find that the faithful intuitively sense their devotion and will readily listen to them or assist them, even if they do not know why. Such characters gain a bonus to all Reaction Modifiers from those who follow or believe in True Communion equal to their Communal Regard level; characters may have a maximum of 4 levels.

Statistics: Holy Regard (see Pyramid #3/78 page 7)

Empty Self 5/level

The saints of Humility become empty vessels for the will of True Communion, and this can manifest as a peculiar absence of identity. All attempts to identify the saint will automatically fail. Their identity cannot be discerned via psionic efforts, digital records will fade, corrupt or simply become lost. Even those who have seen the character will find themselves forgetting details. Nothing can prevent this effect save a cosmic means of identification.

Statistics: Zeroed (Cosmic; Both informational and magical +50%; Divine Virtue -15%) [19]

Patience

True Communion teaches a principle called “The Eternal Now,” which argues that all moments exist and that their separation, no matter how large or how fine, are but illusions. The saints of Patience attempt to gain the same temporal perception that True Communion itself has, and to them, time seems to flow differently: they can pluck out a moment and crystallize it, and have phenomenal perspectives on the future. This allows them to cultivate an intense patience and act precisely when they choose to.

The traditionalists of Communion have few direct complaints with the precept of Patience; they argue mainly that it serves as a distraction from more important work. Why have an eternal perspective when one should work on their inherent spirituality and love of others? Followers of the precept of Patience argue that the eternal perspective is critical to graping the nature of spirituality and that a great deal of harm can be done via impatience of impulsiveness.

Patient Communities

Communities that embrace patience tend to value the counsel of their elders and take time to enjoy the moments of life. There is, of course, an appointed hour for all things, so they work when they must work and sleep when they must play, but they take their time with each, and often plan ahead, storing grain or saving money for a rainy day. Such communities often engage in communal meditation or wistfully watch the setting of their planet’s sun. They tend to have a stoic outlook on life, proving surprisingly resilient to the grief of loss or the demands of duty.

The Code of Patience

The Code of Patience is best represented with the Code of Honor (Patience), which has the following precepts:

  • DO NOT act without forethought.

  • DO NOT lose our temper or show undue emotion.

  • DO accept the inevitable (death, judgment of the law, etc)

  • DO counsel patience in others.

The Power of Patience

Eternal Foresight 9/level

The Saints of Patience have a keen sense of past, present and future, and this allows them to anticipate events long before they happen. Those who have mastered Eternal Foresight may reveal once per session per level that they had anticipated this precise moment and can retroactively declare what actions they had taken provided those actions could realistically have been taken, do not directly contradict any established facts, and would not have been obvious. Such actions automatically succeed. Characters may take no more than two levels of Eternal Foresight.

Statistics: Foresight (see Pyramid #3/53 page 33; Divine Virtue -15%) [9]

Eternal Instant 12/level

Saints of Patience know how to turn a moment into an Eternity, at least for themselves. This allows the normally patient and slow-moving masters of Patience to react with blinding speed, often moving faster than the eye can see. Each level of Eternal Instant allows the character to enact Bullet Time once per session.

Statistics: Impulse Buy points (Recharge per Session; Accessibility, Bullet Time Only -50%; Divine Nature -15%) [12]

Eternal Perspective 43 points

The Saints of Patience see time differently than others. For them, each moment is distinct and they can soak in as much detail of that moment as they wish. They also know precisely when they are: they can sense the precise time of every moment they perceive and automatically know if something is amiss. This last makes them especially attuned to the shades of time sometimes discussed by the Akashic Order. Characters with an Eternal Perspective have the benefits of Enhanced Time Sense and Time Sense. Characters with Combat Reflexes may replace that advantage with Eternal Perspective.

Statistics: Enhanced Time Sense (Divine Virtue -15%) [38.25] + Time Sense (Divine Virtue) [4.25]

Purity

True Communion demands strictly controlled behavior from its adherents; they must learn to discard “sinful” thoughts and behaviors. Inherent in this, argue advocates of the virtue of Purity, is the need to be unblemished and perfectly in line with the nature of Communion. Those who believe in the Virtue of Purity live strict lives, refusing to indulge in sex or recreational drugs, following strict diets and keeping themselves apart from those who do not follow True Communion. As a result, they often have a pristine and incorruptible quality to them, making them “beyond reproach.”

The traditionalists of Communion find themselves divided on the topic of Purity. Strict traditionalists can find little support for the specific ideas of Purity in their ancient texts and note that it seems to have arisen as a result of the schisms among the Templar as a reaction to the infiltration of their ranks; they further see it as a corruption of Asceticism, replacing physical suffering for social disdain. Others, Keleni purists in particular, argue that traditional Communion already embraces Purity and should move to do so formally. Of all the heterodox virtues, this is the most popular among Keleni traditionalists. Human and Alien communities find a tension between it and the Virtue of Tolerance; if such a community practices one, they rarely practice the other.

Pure Communities

Communities that embrace Purity embrace a deeply ritualistic form of piety. They often engage in ritual cleaning (fountains may be a common fixture, or small basins of water at the entrance of a domicile, for visitors to clean themselves, at least ritually, before entering). They tend to concern themselves with whom they allow into their community, expecting newcomers to prove themselves before gaining entrance. They tend to value chastity and visible acts of piety.

The Code of Purity

The Code of Purity is best represented either with Disciplines of Faith (Ritualism) and a few appropriate vows similar to those from Asceticism, or with the Code of Honor (Purity), which has the following tenets:

  • DO NOT indulge in pleasures of the flesh.

  • DO NOT associate with those who are not members of the True Communion community.

  • DO celebrate the rituals and traditions of Communion

  • DO follow a strict diet of some kind.

The Power of Purity

Purity of Flesh 22

The Saints of Purity perfect not just their soul, but their physical form. By following the strictures of Purity, they become perfectly clean, which means no taint can touch them. They may embrace the diseased and drink poison without fear (though in the case of the later, such acts generally violate their strict dietary requirements!).

Statistics: Immunity (Poison; Divine Virtue -15%) [12.75] + Immunity (Disease; Divine Virtue -15%) [8.5]

Purity of Soul 20

The Saints of Purity follow their strict behavior for a reason. They see the temptation of Dark Communion as destructively dangerous, and by following the strictures of Purity, they can shut out its siren song. Those who gain a Purity of Soul can never take any level in Dark Communion and thus cannot even be tempted by Dark Communion. Furthermore, they are immune to its miracles. In the visions or prophecies granted by Dark Communion, those with Purity of Soul appear as incandescent beings of light about which they can make out no detail.

Statistics: Static (Divine; Dark Communion only -20%; Divine Virtue -15%) [20]

Purity of Visage 17

The Saints of Purity cultivate beautiful, aloof souls and their virtue rewards them by letting that inner beauty shine forth. As the follow the precepts of Purity, their hair becomes more lustrous, their blemishes fade, their limbs grow straighter and finer until they become nearly angelic in appearance, gaining Transcendent Appearance. Should they violate their purity, their appearance does not immediately revert; instead, over the course of a week, they slowly lose their numinous quality, an outward sign of their sinfulness.

Characters who already have positive levels of Appearance may reduce the cost of this trait by their “normal” appearance level (and should note what that appearance level was); characters with negative appearance levels should pay extra. At the GM’s discretion, characters with this virtue who manifest an avatar with a transcendent Appearance may add +2 levels to any Awe associated with that avatar, or replace Terror with Awe at +2 levels.

Statistics: Appearance (Transcendent; Divine Virtue -15%) [17]

Tolerance

True Communion preaches against discrimination, arguing that all sapient beings are fundamentally part of True Communion. Precisely what this idea of tolerance means varies from group to group, with Traditionalists opening up True Communion only to fellow Keleni, while even the more open practitioners of True Communion would never open the faith to the great galactic menace or robots. The followers of the virtue of Tolerance argue that the True Communion’s philosophy of tolerance should be interpreted as expansively as possible, and seek to embrace all races, classes and traditions, finding wisdom in all things, and embracing all beings.

Opponents of Tolerance argue that such a stance leads to a dangerous amorality, that one must eventually draw a line between the righteous “us” and the wicked “them.” They point out that embracing “all traditions” is exactly the sort of thinking that led Revalis White astray. The followers of Tolerance argue that one can be tolerant of other beings without necessarily being tolerant of what they do, and that intolerance is both a violation of the ideals of Communion and a path to stagnation.

Tolerant Communities

Tolerant communities tend to be a wild patchwork of diversity. While they may not truly celebrate individuality, they embrace the traditions of others, and often send their children out to “see the world” and expect them to return with new ideas and stories of their adventures, which the community can then incorporate into their own practices. Such communities tend to be highly dynamic, changing quickly over time, and may be seen by other communities as a tad eccentric, or having unusual (unorthodox!) Communion practices.

The Code of Tolerance

The Code of Tolerance could be treated as Sense of Duty (all sapient beings) or a Code of Honor with the following tenants:

  • DO NOT discriminate others based on class, race, tradition, etc

  • DO NOT sacrifice your core principles while exploring the ideas and traditions of others

  • DO defend others from discrimination

  • DO explore new ideas and beliefs from beyond the bounds of your own traditions

The Powers of Tolerance

Communal Brotherhood, 10 points

Those who practice Tolerance find that they receive it in kind. Saints of Tolerance with Communal Brotherhood will not be attacked by others provided the character leaves them alone and/or stays out of their way. This is an intuitive, instinctive reaction: the ghosts of Broken Communion will ignore the character, slavers will pick a different target, imperial soldiers will simply ignore the character, etc, whether or not they know who the character is. This only applies so long as the character does not antagonize his opponents in any way: the protection disappears if he mocks, belittles, attacks or violates the rules (etcetera) of the targets; a saint of Tolerance cannot expect to walk into a restricted imperial facility and be ignored, for example.

Statistics: Brotherhood (Cosmic, Universal +700%; Cosmic, Universal Truth +100%; Cosmic, applies to supernatural +100%) [7]

Infinite Communion, 20/level

Normally, those who use Communion may only have a single miracle active at a time, typically either a miracle or a single learned prayer. The Saints of Tolerance have learned to hold many thoughts in their minds and can maintain multiple learned prayers while enjoying the full benefits of unfettered Communion. Each level of Infinite Communion allows the saint to have one additional learned prayer active.

Statistics: Dual Prayer (See Pyramid #3/50 page 18) [20]

Language of Communion, 8 points

Language separates races and cultures from one another, making it difficult to connect with other members of the same faith. The Saints of Tolerance learn to bridge these gaps and may converse fluently with any adherent or believer of Communion, regardless of what languages they know, and suffer no cultural familiarity penalties when interacting with other members of Communion.

Statistics: Language of Faith (see Pyramid #3/78 page 7) [6]; Cultural Adaptability (Accessibility, Members of True Communion only -60%; Divine Virtue -15%) [2]

True Prodigal Knight 5/level

As an optional power, if using the Mystical Tyrant transcendent path of the Prodigal Knight, then the path of the Prodigal Knight may embody the Virtue of Tolerance. He explores all forms of Communion and embraces all ideals. True Prodigal Knight acts as Legendary Reputation (Prodigal KNight), is cumulative with it, and may be purchased without completing milestones, nor is it dependent on the character remaining true to Path requirements. It may be purchased up to 4 times.

Statistics: Legendary Reputation (Prodigal Knight; Divine Virtue +0%) [5/level]; The additional restrictions of a Virtue balance out the benefit of being able to ignore the normal restrictions of Legendary Reputation.

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