Knacks: Devotion, Justice, Mercy, Righteousness, Truth
Apprentice Degree: Portents
Adept Degree: Blessings
Master Degree: Miracles
The Second Prophet, Malak, came from the Crescent Empire, preaching a doctrine of purity and self-sacrifice, and leading nine Witnesses. While history has recorded as much as possible about Malak himself, little is known of his Witnesses, except that they seemed to practice some sort of magic akin to the Cathayan art of Qin Fen. As for the Prophet himself, while a miracle has been credited for his escape from Imperator Alexius, he seemed to possess no Sorcery of his own.
This, however, was untrue.
Malak’s private journals, currently lost somewhere in the Crescent Empire, describe his journey from adolescence to adulthood. They depict a life of faith and prayer, including numerous accounts of supernatural events whose only common thread was Malak’s presence, and which could not be explained by any other phenomena. Should these journals be found, a suitably devout follower of Theus might be able to recreate this lost art.
Unlike most Sorceries, Athnan requires an investment of resources beyond those required to purchase the Sorcery. Only a character with both the Faith Advantage and the Miracle Worker Advantage may become Blooded (Half- or Fully-) in Athnan. However, this Sorcery represents the only means by which a character with the latter Advantage may control the use of his Miracle Dice, and the only means by which a character may build a pool of more than three Miracle Dice.
This Sorcery does not cause any physical changes to manifest in a practitioner; rather, it requires behavioral challenges to remain effective. Vows of Devotion, Justice, Mercy, Righteousness, and Truth must be maintained, or a character will find it increasingly difficult to use the powers of Athnan. For each Vow broken, the character must make a Resolve roll vs. five times his Mastery Level in Athnan (e.g., a Master breaking the Vows of Truth and Justice would have a TN of 30 for this roll), or the power he is attempting to manifest fails, and his Miracle Die is lost. In addition, breaking any particular Vow removes the practitioner’s access to that Vow’s powers until atonement is made.
To atone for breaking a Vow, a character must perform a series of penances: one per Mastery Level, and related directly to the Vow that was broken. For example, breaking the Vow of Justice may require the character to defend an innocent man in a legal proceeding, or capture a marauding bandit and bring him to the proper authorities. Breaking the Vow of Truth may require the character to take an oath of silence for one week, or to solve a mystery that is plaguing a community in need.
An Apprentice of Athnan receives several benefits. First, he receives one additional Miracle Die added to his pool (to a maximum of four). Second, he may use the Apprentice ability described under each of the Knacks listed below. Finally, he may spend a Miracle Die to perform either of the following portents:
Purify. You may make water clean and healthy to drink for one Scene. You can choose to purify a source of water (such as a natural spring or a lake) or a drinking vessel (a waterskin, cup, or similar item) filled with water. The purified water is cleared of any impurities, including poison, and can be consumed with no side effects.
Radiate. You may illuminate the area around you as brightly as an oil lamp, and may dim or brighten it as you wish, until the end of the Scene.
An Adept of Athnan receives a second additional Miracle Die, increasing the maximum size of his pool to five. He may also use the Adept ability listed under each of the Knacks listed below. Finally, he may spend a Miracle Die to perform either of the following blessings:
Flourish. You cause a single plant to heal or grow. This can cause vines to grow up a wall to provide a ladder, or a tree to tilt and grow across a canyon (as long as it lies within the tree’s natural capacity to grow to a size sufficient to cross the canyon). This does not create vegetation, and only works on existing plant life.
Rain. You can summon rain for one Scene. You can make it rain as much or as little as you want, creating a gentle spring rain or a torrential downpour. After the Scene ends, the weather returns to normal.
A Master of Athnan receives a third additional Miracle Die, and the maximum size of his pool increases to six. He may also use the Master ability described under each of the Knacks listed below. Finally, he may spend a Miracle Die to perform either of the following miracles:
Effigy. You may craft a clay effigy of an animal that can fit in the palm of your hand and bring it to life. The effigy is indistinguishable from a real animal of its type. Your creation lasts until the end of the Scene, at which time it reverts to a lump of clay.
Float. You may activate this power to hover just above the ground for the rest of the Scene. This prevents you from leaving footprints on the ground, and negates any effect that your weight may have on the environment (such as triggering a trap or collapsing a rickety bridge). This does not protect you from the dangers of your environment: if you float over fire you will still get burned, and if you float over water a wave could still drown you. You can navigate your surroundings as if you were walking normally, and at the same pace.
While the practitioner of Athnan receives a number of useful and potent abilities as a result of his Mastery level, his power is increased greatly by maintaining his Vows. Each Vow is represented by a Sorcerous Knack that gives him an array of abilities, fueled by Miracle Dice, that complement his Mastery Level abilities.
Devotion. The Vow of Devotion shows you how to heal the wounded. Caring for the suffering is your duty under Theus, and following this Vow reminds you how he watches over and cares for you.
Apprentice: The devoted help the weak. This is the first lesson learned through the Vow of Devotion: to heal broken bones and other injuries. You may spend a Miracle Die to lay your hands on another character and heal one of his Dramatic Wounds. You may only use this power once per Scene, and you may not use it on yourself.
Adept: To truly understand the plight of the suffering, sometimes you must walk a mile in their shoes. You may spend a Miracle Die to permanently cure a character’s blindness, muteness, deafness, paralysis, or similar malady. Until the end of the Scene, you suffer the target’s malady instead; if you cure a person’s blindness, for example, you are blind until the end of the Scene.
Master: The last lesson learned through the Vow of Devotion allows you to give the greatest gift Theus has ever given: life itself. Even if someone is struck down, he may rise up and return the devotion that Theus has shown him. You may spend a Miracle Die and suffer one Dramatic Wound to bring another character back to life. You heal all of his Dramatic Wounds except for one. Neither that Dramatic Wound nor the one you suffered may ever be healed by any means, even through Sorcery, and each manifests as a noticeable scar (both you and the resurrected character will bear the same scar). The power must be used within the same Scene in which the character died, and once you have used this power, you may never use it again for as long as you live.
Justice. The Vow of Justice shows you how to protect yourself and others from Sorcery. The Second Prophet often stopped magic used against him, and this Knack shows you how to do the same.
Apprentice: The first lesson learned through this Vow is to find magic. Knowing where to look can help you stop any Sorcery that is not used for the good of Terra. If you enter an area where Sorcery was used within the last twenty-four hours, you can pinpoint exactly where the Sorcery was used, as well as what type of Sorcery it was (Porté, Sha’ir, Symvasi, etc.), but not who used it or how it was used. This power does not require activation: a character with this power may stumble upon a whiff of magic when he had no suspicion it was there and was not specifically looking for it.
Adept: At this level, you gain the ability to absorb Sorcery used near you. You know that Sorcery can be misused, and your purpose is to prevent it from being used in a villainous way. You may spend a Miracle Die when another character activates Sorcery (or some similar effect) to absorb his power and negate its effect. You must activate this power before any effects of the Sorcery are known, and you may only use it once per Scene.
Master: The ultimate power learned through the Vow of Justice is to redirect Sorcery so that it is used for good, and the best way to to teach anyone the proper use of Sorcery is through a demonstration. You may spend a Miracle Die in any Scene after you have absorbed another character’s Sorcerous effect to activate that power yourself. You may choose new targets for the effect if it requires targets.
Mercy. The Vow of Mercy teaches you that every life deserves a fair chance. With these abilities, you can feed those who need food and protect those who need protection, so that everyone can enjoy Theus’ creation.
Apprentice: The first lesson learned through the Vow of Mercy is that all people deserve to eat. Sustenance is essential to life, and Theus gave life to all people. You may spend a Miracle Die to stretch out your rations to feed fifteen people for every Rank you have in this Knack. You need a small amount of food to activate this power: at least enough to feed one person normally. Activating this power consumes all the food you currently possess.
Adept: The second lesson learned through this Vow is to protect those who cannot protect themselves. Your Vow empowers you to give strength to others, or even to strengthen yourself. Spend a Miracle Die to choose a character in your vicinity who is not armed with a weapon (you may choose yourself). The next time that character suffers damage in the current Scene, the damage rolled is reduced by one Unkept Die (-1k0) for every Rank you have in this Knack.
Master: The third lesson learned through the Vow of Mercy is that violence may not always be the answer, but sometimes it is inevitable. Being able to control that violence and direct it back towards its source shows you how Theus protects the merciful. When another character inflicts any number of Flesh Wounds on you, you may spend a Miracle Die to inflict the same number of Flesh Wounds back upon him. You may only use this power once per Round.
Righteousness. The Vow of Righteousness shows you the proper path. It also shows you the fastest way to reach your destination, and gives you the tools you need to arrive safely.
Apprentice: The first lesson learned through the Vow of Righteousness shows you which way to go when you are lost. You may spend a Miracle Die to know which direction you must go to reach a particular destination. Choose what you want to find (e.g., a source of clean water, a specific location, or a particular individual or group of individuals) and you learn which direction your target is in “as the crow flies,” but you do not learn how far away it is, or what obstacles may be in your path.
Adept: The second lesson of this Vow provides you with the means of getting where you are going more quickly. You gain a faster stride, enabling you to arrive at your destination as quickly as possible. You may spend a Miracle Die to move faster than normal across short distances. If you spend the Miracle Die while traveling overland, you (or your mount) may move double your speed for one day. If you spend it during a Chase, for the rest of the Scene, every time you win a Contested Roll during the Chase, you may add two markers for every one you would normally add according to your roll. Similarly, if you lose a Contested Roll during a Chase, you lose half as many markers as you would normally lose according to your roll (rounded down: a result of one means no markers are lost; a result of two or three means only one marker is lost, and so on).
Master: The last lesson of the Vow of Righteousness allows you to create something out of nothing. You may conjure a tool or weapon in your hand; it may be made of sand or air or light, but it helps you perform the task you need to do. You may spend a Miracle Die to conjure a simple weapon or tool (such as a hammer or a sword) for one Scene. The object functions exactly like the tool or weapon it resembles, and is warm to the touch. If used to strike a target, the item deals one extra Kept Die (+1k1) on all Damage Rolls. It only works in your hands; if anyone else picks up the object, it disappears.
Truth. The Vow of Truth teaches you lessons of words. You learn to communicate with animals and to prevent someone from lying.
Apprentice: The first lesson learned though this Vow is to know the exact location of something you were looking for. You may spend a Miracle Die to find a specific item you have been searching for. If it is in the immediate, searchable area, you immediately sense the proper direction and feel a pull towards it, even if it is hidden. If it is not in the immediate, searchable area, nothing happens and you do not lose your Miracle Die.
Adept: The second lesson learned is to befriend and ride any animal. You may communicate with an animal, which will assist you in getting wherever you need to go. Spend a Miracle Die to choose a non-aggressive animal capable of supporting your weight. That animal will allow you to ride it for one day for every Rank you have in this Knack, following your simple commands (such as which direction to go, how fast to walk or run, or to stay quiet) without complaint. While mounted on this animal, you are considered to have a Rank in an appropriate Riding Knack equal to your Rank in this Knack. If the animal is threatened or endangered for any reason, it forces you to dismount and then runs away.
Master: The last lesson of this Vow is that the Truth is always the best way to communicate, and you can guarantee the truth is spoken when needed. You may spend a Miracle Die to select one character who may not tell a lie for the rest of the Scene. The character speaks honestly to the best of his ability and knowledge, so his information may not be accurate, but it will always be what he believes to be true.
Game Master’s Secrets
To call Athnan a rare Sorcery would be a gross understatement. It can only be learned in two ways: finding Malak’s journals and committing yourself to the same sort of life the Prophet lived, or by the direct blessing of Theus. Either option should require an epic series of adventures as a candidate either tracks down the missing journals or proves himself worthy of Tneus’ blessing. It is not forbidden for a Sorcerer to receive the blessings of Athnan, but should he be granted this power, he loses any other Sorcerous gifts he had, even if it is one of the other counter-sorceries designed to oppose the Bargainers.
Although the circumstances would have to be singularly precise, it is possible for an Inquisitor to gain this Sorcery. In this case, the character would need the Righteous Wrath Advantage in lieu of the Miracle Worker Advantage. Should they learn of its existence, the Inquisition would certainly covet having the power of Athnan at their command. It is safe to assume that their extensive intelligence network would keep them abreast of any matters regarding the faith, including a quest for Malak’s journals. It is a safe bet that a group of characters who set out in search of Athnan would have Inquistors dogging their heels at every step, turning the search into a race.
Some counter-Sorceries, such as Glamour, have a direct, positive effect on the Barrier. Athnan is just the opposite: it affects the Barrier indirectly, by creating a character who, by the very nature of his Vows, must live an evangelical life. By spreading the word and blessings of Theus, the forces of good gain strength with every pagan converted or every fallen soul redeemed.