The Unblinking Eye
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Hubris is the morality attribute for Theurgic priests. It replaces Piety, for the simple reason that any person who has a strong enough faith to learn Theurgy is already very pious, and knows how to maintain that state. That’s not to say that such priests can never make mistakes. For them the problem is one of going too far, thinking that they alone know the will of the Pancreator. Pride, or Hubris is the spectre that awaits a careless Theurge.
Like the Psychic Urge, Hubris begins at 1 point and is increased not by a ladder of sins but rather by distinct acts that are always dangerous, no matter how humble or prideful the character has become. Some acts have the potential to increase Hubris by more than one step at a time, and some acts indicate more pride than others, making them harder or easier to atone for.
A priest who develops a lot of Hubris slowly becomes disconnected from the common people. Darkness descends around her, and she spreads her isolation and pride to those around her, breaking up communities, sickening the land, and generally causing wastefulness and destruction everywhere. As Theurgy is a community-oriented, group focused power, so does Hubris reach out to groups, but in a negative way. Though priests are not supposed to speak of this to lay people, it is believed that some of the dead worlds in the Empire were laid waste to by a priest with a really impressive excess of Hubris.
The Mechanics of Hubris
Hubris has no ladder of sins. Acts of pride and dismissal of the concerns of others can always lead to a fall. What follows is a list of acts that may increase Hubris, and how many levels those acts have the potential to feed into the priest’s pride. So if a character succumbs to an act that can boost Hubris by 2, the character’s urge will increase by 2 points.
To resist gaining Hubris, the character rolls Intelligence + Resolve. The trick to avoiding Hubris is not to eschew pride entirely. It is to recognize when one has done something wrong, and have the resolve necessary to atone for the act and not do it again.
At the start of the Priest’s career, it’s easy enough to be humble. However, as Grace increases, the priest’s sheer ability to produce miracles begins to have an effect on the mind. Surely, the Pancreator has blessed me, she thinks. Surely I know what is right and wrong.
Starting at Grace of 4, successes are subtracted from the Intelligence + Resolve roll. One success is subtracted at Grace of 4, and each even numbered point of Grace reduces the successes by one more. So at 10, 4 successes are subtracted, requiring the Theurge to get 5 successes to avoid gaining Hubris.
Acts that Increase Hubris:
|Hubris Generating Act:||Hubris Gain:||Notes:|
|Missing Confession for more than 1 month||1|
|Refusing any Sacrament||1-2|
|Suffering Inquisitorial Torture||1-2|
|Premeditated Murder & other gross sins||2||1 additional penalty success|
|Major crimes and sins||1-2||1 additional penalty success|
|Minor crimes and sins||1|
|Exposure to an evil artifact||1-3|
|Signing a Demonic Pact||2-4||automatic hubris gain|
|Exposure to alien mysticism||1-2||1 less penalty success|
|Rebellion against one’s sect||1|
|Starting a new sect||1-2||1 additional penalty success|
|Inventing proscribed tech||1|
|Using highly forbidden tech||1|
|Installing cybernetics||1-2||1 additional penalty success|
|Using Wyrd to boost abilities 3 or more times in one action scene||1||1 less penalty success|
|Cloaking oneself in 3 or more ritual powers at a time||1|
The Effects of Hubris
Hubris shows it’s effects first on the Priest, then on the world around her. Guilt and sin compound themselves in ways that make the priest seem to be strange, and frightening. Blemishes or minor physical disabilities are not uncommon. Peasants, animals, and other unsophisticated living beings (i.e. not jaded nobles or guild members) may shy away instinctively from the priest. As Hubris continues to mount, the priest’s sermons begin to bear taint, her power works against her words. Finally, the land and populace around her begins to directly suffer.
The exact effects are unpredictable, but in the worst case scenario, Hubris can kill an entire world, and the people on it, if they can’t escape fast enough.
The problem with trying to reduce Hubris is that the Priest is convinced that she’s right! It’s not easy to let go of that feeling, to honestly evaluate oneself, and to admit wrongdoing. The road is hard, and often slow, but Hubris can be reduced.
Abstaining from Theurgic Rituals: When one is in doubt about the correct use of the power that the Pancreator blessed her with, it’s a good idea to stop using that power. Better to go without an advantage or two than to compound sin upon sin.
Abstaining totally for a period of a month while introspecting about wrongdoing and going to confession allows the character to make an Intelligence + Theology roll to reduce Hubris. The roll loses dice equal to half the priest’s current Hubris, rounded up.
If the character cannot abstain totally but only uses Theurgy in emergency situations, she is still considered to be abstaining, the effect is simply less dramatic. The roll is penalized by the priest’s full Hubris score.
If the roll succeeds, Hubris decreases by 1. On an exceptional success of 5 or more successes, it decreases by 2.
If the Theurge is reduced to a chance die, and botches the roll, Hubris increases by 1 as the character becomes convinced that she’s done the right thing all along.
Path of the Penitent: Undertaking a penance or holy journey can certainly help purge Hubris. Merely traveling to a holy place in the course of business doesn’t fulfill this requirement. That doesn’t mean that the priest’s group can’t have something to do at the holy site, or along the penitent journey, but the Priest must be intentional and repentant about her journey, focused on self-healing rather than self-gain.
During a penance the priest should eschew all forms of worldly comforts, as much as she can without distancing herself from the people around her. She should meditate and pray as much as she can, and she must not miss confession if a confessor is available. She need not stay in the background or be passive, but she should be very mindful of her actions.
Once the destination is reached, the character prays at the holy site or artifact and makes a simple Resolve roll. The roll gains a bonus of 1 die for each week the journey required, as long as the character kept up her penance during the whole time. The importance or spiritual nature of the site or artifact may also add bonus dice. As with abstaining from Theurgy, the roll is penalized by half the character’s Hubris, rounded down this time.
If the roll succeeds, the character loses 1 point of Hubris, possibly 2 points if the holy site or artifact is particularly potent. If the character gains a critical success of 5 or more successes, her penance and purification have granted her a holy epiphany. This could be a vision, suddenly learning a new Theurgic ritual, a blessing that manifests itself as a new Merit, or even an additional point of Grace.
Focusing on the good that a person is supposed to do restores the priest’s connection to the community. Ministering the the poor, the sick, the needy, helps compassion win out over pride, and reminds the priest of the true meaning of the Prophet’s words.
Good Works have a very low chance to reduce Hubris, because they are easy to do, and do not require much sacrifice. However, routinely performing good deeds is sure to eventually provide some relief for a heart that has grown somewhat dark.
Whenever the character performs good works such as ministering to the poor or sick, preaching to the heathens, renewing the faith of the faithless, acting as a confessor, etc, she may roll a chance-die. If the roll succeeds, she may make a mark next to her Hubris dots. Once she has marks equal to her current Hubris, she may experience a revelation that washes away 1 point of Hubris. If the roll botches, all the accumulated marks are erased.
In most cases, doing good works will eventually reduce Hubris. However, if the GM feels that the character is performing these good works in a very mechanical way, without much thought, and is otherwise quite prideful, some additional reflection and possibly another roll may be required to reduce Hubris when the character has accumulated enough good works.
Self Sacrifice: There is nothing more holy than a martyr. While actual martyrdom is something most player characters won’t experience, self sacrifice is still a good way to reduce Hubris. This kind of reduction is less dice-oriented, and more up to the judgement of the player and GM. If the character has really performed a selfless act of sacrifice and humble faith, then the GM may award a Hubris reduction on the spot. Likewise, the player can petition to the GM that a particular act is an act of self sacrifice, asking him to consider a Hubris reduction.
Depending on the act in question, Hubris can be drastically reduced, or only one point may be removed.