The Unblinking Eye
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Destiny is a signature attribute for Heroic characters. They don’t suffer the stigma and persecution of psychics, they don’t have the demands and ecstasy of faithful characters. Instead, they take hold of their destiny, with will and luck guiding themselves to greatness. The danger of pushing one’s Destiny is that such over-reaching causes some problems and leads one into traps and other dangerous situations that could have been avoided. The advantages generally outweigh the problems however, and it certainly does lead to an interesting and exciting life.
Destiny is an attribute that can be used as a resource in a few ways. It can be Invoked, it can be Taxed, and it can be Consumed. Each use of Destiny is detailed below and provides different benefits.
The most common way to make use of one’s destiny is to Invoke it. In story terms, the character says to himself, “If I don’t pull this off, I’m screwed. But I’m too amazing a person to be stopped here, so obviously I will succeed.” That kind of confidence is exactly the sort of thing that leads to a lot of success.
- When Destiny is Invoked, the player gets 3 additional dice on his next roll.
Destiny can be Invoked once per combat at no penalty, which means that Heroic characters always should do so! Invoking Destiny more than once in a particular scene gives the same benefit and has the same cost as Taxing Destiny.
When a character taxes destiny he is either getting the benefit of Invoking destiny a second time, or calling on destiny in a more powerful way.
- Taxing destiny allows the character to replace either the attribute or the skill in a particular roll with his Destiny attribute.
For Example: Talia al-Maliq finds herself in a situation where she needs to prove her worth on a Hazat estate by throwing a knife accurately in an impromptu competition. She’s never thrown a knife in her life, and considers herself more of a speaker than a fighter. Undaunted, she hopes for beginner’s luck.
Her Destiny is 4, and her Dexterity is 3. She has no Weaponry skill at all. Normally this would leave her with only 2 dice to make the roll. Instead, she adds her Destiny, and now has 7 dice. She easily scores a basic 2 successes, and impresses the Hazat nobles who now view her as more of a worthwhile person.
Often this will be used at first for unskilled rolls, because young characters have a low destiny. However, as Destiny can be increased all the way to 10, it can provide a massive boost for even experienced characters.
- When Destiny is taxed to replace a skill instead of an attribute, it negates any unskilled penalty that might have been a problem. Talia got 7 dice on her roll, not 6, because the penalty was negated by her Destiny.
Immediately after the roll for which Destiny was taxed, the attribute is temporarily reduced by one. Therefore taxing Destiny again and again will yield progressively less benefit. After Taxing her Destiny in this way, Talia’s Destiny drops to 3. If she had to Tax it again, she’d get only 3 more points to add. Luckily, only one knife throw was required.
Restoring Taxed Destiny: Destiny that was reduced by being taxed can be restored in two main ways. Time restores destiny. Every day a point of destiny returns. However, Destiny can be restored directly by the GM by inflicting bad luck or some tough circumstances on the player.
When something a bit unfair happens to a character, or a new enemy chooses to focus on just one person, it restores the destiny of that character a bit by reinforcing his sense of importance in the world, or by making him buckle down and try harder.
Talia’s Player is not too worried about her Destiny being reduced to 3. She can still Invoke it once per scene at no penalty, and if she really needs to Tax it again, she’ll have 3 dice. Besides, tomorrow morning, the point will be restored.
However, the GM has other ideas. There’s going to be an assassination attempt on the Hazat estate, and Talia is the only character in the party with a Destiny that’s currently Taxed. The Assassins are working in a small group, and one of them planned to attack a guest first to distract the guards. Talia is chosen as the lucky guest. After the evening dinner, she finds herself face to face with a dangerous assassin. Her player smiles ruefully at the situation when the GM informs him that Talia’s taxed Destiny has been restored.
The most rarely used aspect of Destiny is Consuming destiny. This reduces destiny for a much longer time than Taxing destiny does. However, the effect is very powerful. It allows the character to assert the primacy of his fate over seemingly unstoppable events.
The character can use this ability to protect herself, or a NPC that is closely tied to her, at substantial cost. It will save the character’s life, the NPC’s life, her position, her most prized posession, her family’s lands or status, just about anything.
However, it doesn’t make things come out all sunshine and roses. Whatever force was arrayed against the character doesn’t just vanish, and spends its energy in some way that is still detrimental, just not as immediately bad as it would have been. A character that was going to be killed might be captured, or left for dead with a crippling wound. A NPC that would have died might instead be used as a pawn or hostage. The family lands might be saved from being overrun by Li-Halan troops but at a cost of a substantial debt to House Decados.
Along with the plot complication in the character’s life, his destiny is reduced by 1. This reduction is not healed by time or spates of bad luck. Instead, it doesn’t return until the complication is resolved. The family must be cleared of Decados debt, lost technology must be found to restore the crippling wound, the NPC must be rescued from the al-Maliq dungeons.
It is, again, a rarely used ability, but one that allows a truly heroic character to say, “No, this can’t happen this way, I am better than this, and I will do whatever it takes to make sure my story continues.”