The Unblinking Eye
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Piety is the morality attribute of Heroic characters. While some heroic characters may be more or less devout than others, even in the League the Church has succeeded in defining morality on it’s own terms. No one debates the existence of the Pancreator, or the terrors of demons. No one doubts that some priests can perform miracles because they are holy. These are solid facts of the galaxy, and questioning them would get either a puzzled look or a laugh.
Therefore, even characters who don’t think of themselves as pious and don’t attend church still measure their actions in terms of the Church’s laws and doctrine. Indeed, it is well known that demons are attracted to the ruthless and vile, and that especially honorable and good people are much less likely to be swayed or posessed by them.
Piety is a measure of how well the heroic character can live up to his or her upbringing, and how close or far he is from the expectations of society. A high Piety has benefits. It provides some protection against Psychic and other mystic powers, even Theurgy. It marks the character as a pious and possibly even holy person, giving the character special consideration when dealing with the Church. In general it makes dealings with the Church much easier, and can even make it easier to buy Church status.
Middling levels of Piety are what is expected from most of the galaxy. The Church doesn’t berate nobles who pay lip service to some of the tenants of the Prophet as long as they have the general idea. Most Priests sympathize with the lot of peasants and don’t expect them to be able to overcome the shortcomings of their poverty entirely. A middle-level of piety has no penalties or bonuses associated with it.
Very low Piety weakens a character’s ability to resist the mystic. Psychic powers, strange artifacts, even dread Antimony may become fascinating to such a lost soul. Very pious priests will recognize the stain in the individual and either work against him or try to save him. The common people will shy away, especially as rumors of the character’s depravity begin to circulate.
The Mechanics of Piety
Each level of piety has categories of sin associated with it. Anyone below that level need not worry about checking to see if they lose their piety when they commit those sins, they are already too coarse for that kind of behavior to worsen them. Sins the character commits at his current level or lower may cause a drop in piety.
When such a sin is committed, the player rolls the number of dice shown at the level of the transgression. Even one success indicates that the character has some doubt that the action was an acceptable one to take. There is repentance and a chance to turn things around. The character does not lose Piety. If no successes are scored, the character’s heart has hardened, his nature becomes more coarse and base. Normally, a character loses only 1 point of Piety if he fails the roll, though if a very high Piety character commits a very low end sin, more than one point might be lost.
Extenuating circumstances can add a die or two to the roll, or even negate the need for one. Murder refers to the act of pre-meditating the death of a human being who is not directly threatening the character. Killing someone in fair battle doesn’t trigger that sin.
The chart below shows the various levels of piety, what dice pool may be used to avoid losing piety when committing one of those sins, as well as the general categories of sins themselves. Most characters will begin with a Piety of 7. The average galactic citizen has a Piety of 5-7.
|10||5 Dice||Spoken blasphemy; Refusing a Sacrament; Using Proscribed Tech|
|9||4 Dice||Venial Sins, Extravagance & Greed; Exposure to alien occult power|
|8||4 Dice||Missing confession for more than a month; Declaring a Vendetta|
|7||4 Dice||Stealing; Inventing Proscribed Tech; Gluttony|
|6||3 Dice||Fornication or Adultry; Suffering Inquisitional Torture|
|5||3 Dice||Intentional mass destruction; Exposure to an evil artifact; Starting a new Sect|
|4||3 Dice||Manslaughter; Rape; Suffering Excommunication|
|3||2 Dice||Murder; Studying Antinomy; Non-violent contact with a Demon|
|2||2 Dice||Serial murder; Torture; Summoning a Demon|
|1||2 Dice||Utter Perversion; Demonic Pacts; Mass Murder|
Gaining Piety is a long and difficult process. Repentance of previous sins is important, as is abstaining from committing any of the sins of the next level up. It should go without saying that one must not commit lower level sins when attempting to gain Piety.
Piety never costs experience points. Experience is more likely to erode morals than to build them up. Rather, the character makes a personal journey of faith and morality, and the GM awards the point when he feels it has really been earned.
Benefits and Afflictions of Piety
When a character loses Piety, if he falls below the lowest level he’s ever had, he may develop a Stigma. Alternately, some misfortune may come to the character, or equally likely to the people around him. Sin and degeneration breeds chaos and evil, and that evil may strike at the innocent just as easily as at the guilty.
High and Low Piety:
The highest levels of piety have some nice benefits for those who can keep true to a virtuous life.
Piety 10: The top level of piety represents an impressive commitment to goodness and community. The character’s faith and goodness shines out to others, as an inspirational beacon.
- +3 to all resistance attributes and rolls to resist mystic powers of any stripe.
- May roll Piety instead of a regular dice pool when attacking a Demon or Antinomist. Demonic powers do not provide any kind of armor or mitigation against this kind of attack.
Piety 9: A character at this level is quite faithful and holy, but not quite a paragon of goodness. Still, the character’s nature is strengthened by faith.
- +1 to resist Theurgic powers.
- +2 to resist Psychic and other mystic powers.
Piety 8: The piety 8 character has made some steps toward true faith and goodness, but is still very much on the path, instead of having achieved something great.
- +1 to resist Antinomy and Demonic powers.
Piety 4-7: This is the general state of most people. Sinning is common but the character avoids the worst acts as abhorrent.
- No effect.
Piety 2-3: At this level the character is really depraved, willing to do nearly anything to advance himself. The lives and concerns of other people are of no moment to him.
- -2 to resist Demonic powers or Antinomy.
Piety 1: A character who has sunken to this point is a monster, and the chance of redemption is nearly zero. Anything is permissible, some atrocities will be avoided mostly out of some twisted aesthetic preference.
- -3 to resist Demonic powers or Antinomy.
- The character will be drawn to places and objects of unholy power in the area, even if he doesn’t know they exist.