Thursday 1 February 2024

More of finding Oath Givers and Cults

I thought i would add to my last post.

So one specification Ive changed is going from you can have a oath per level once to each level is  a slot you can clear and refill as it gives the possibility of traitors and people turning evil without crippling themselves and never recovering. Its obviously easier to trade towards chaotic evil. Plus integrate clerics and alignment and oaths all closer and to make him features of the campagn.

As anyone could make oaths to law and good they could get various gifs including magic, powers and items. So I've never needed a paladin class or a ranger class in my game because a wizard could do this and gain various holy spells and doodahs (Gandalf Dunnit).

The mechanism of finding a oath/gift path and patron power means if you decided to fill all your oath slots at once at the tenth level you might take a long time so its a bit of a bottleneck and possible. Even your traitors and villains might take some time. If they survive meeting adventurers they might make a bunch of oaths to evil to help get revenge.

The most common oaths are from the most popular deities. 
Maybe powerful gods have sub-cults with different benefits
Like Ishtar could have separate temples for love and war specialists
A god might have sub cult shrines for their weapons

In my current game, at least half a population at least follows the patron deity of their nation or city or tribe

Many of the remaining are other popular deities or local powerful spirits. These gods will usually be from other pantheons and gods in other close regions or kingdoms. Each pantheon usually has a preferred element also

A small percentage follow obscure unpopular beliefs for aid. Witch cults use illegal spells on law-abiding citizens and worship in secret. There are other less illegal mostly unknown spirit cults or those who serve petty gods or immortals but also more abstract  

Oath-givers per Settlement
Small VIllage of 50pop typically has one
Medeum Village of 100 pop has d3
Large Village 0f 250pop has d4+1
 500-1000 has 2d4
Small City 2000 has 3d4
Medeum City 5000 has 4d4
Metropolis 10k plus 5d4

So you can generate a bunch of religions/oath types in an area and players can consider which to acquire and how to get them. They could make some funny errors looking or get into trouble or some side quests. Its a whole bunch of weird stuff to do and acquire in game andshould increase roleplaying possibilities and reasons to start fights. You can tease and distract players with offers of oaths and make them investigate the best options. It makes people get into your setting religion but without being a priest and still getting a benefit. There are options that are not traditional gods for people who don't want gods.

Priests are the most obvious people to be oath-givers or facilitate with an oath spell process with a person of the same oath type of higher tier level. Druids often employ and serve various nature spirits and land divinities and even various nature gods. Arcane powers are more abstract, alien and philosophical. They might be a demon or an archon or an outsider pretending to be a weird arcane patron or ancestor. Wizards hoard their secrets to trade of grant their students. 
Wizards might start a school or a fellowship to share magic and research. Sorcerers are very likely to run a cult and offer oaths to higher-ranking members or donors. (In my game sorcerers can choose any spell list so a divine one would be a non-combat priesthood but granted miracles. Nature magic with druid spells have patrons or bloodline of nature spirits or faerie,  Arcane are hedonistic pleasure cults who lazily use wizard like spells without study just talent. Mentalist sorcerers are mystics, illusionists or psions using powers of the mind over themselves or the universe or weaker willed people.

Tiers & 
Zero (0 Lv) holy symbol or a 1st Lv loner or initiate priest* 
First (1-4th Lv) local shrines or weird loners 5th+ Lv  loner or any common shrine priest
Second (4-8th Lv) small temple or a 9th+ Lv loner or a temple priest
Third (9-12th Lv) major temple or 13th+ Lv loner or a high priest
Fourth (13-16th) temple complex or a 17th+ Lv loner or a theocrat of the church
Fifth (17th-20th) monumental wonder of church of from divine patron in person or in a vision
*a zero level person has 1HD so can get one oath like a 1st Lv character

This lists what grade of holy location and and rank of priest is required for an oath
Loners are persons in the higher tier of an oath path. 
An oath spell is required but if the oath-giver can't cast it any priest will do 

Spell levels provided by cult max & size
Local spirits or Immortals 1st Shrine
Petty Gods 2nd Shrine
Great spirit 3rd Small Temple
Demigods 4th Small Temple
Lesser Gods 5th Major Temple
Major Gods 6th Temple complex or small ziggurat
Greater Gods 7th Monumental wonder like large ziggurat, pyramid, wall, etc

d10 Local Oath-Giver  Availability
1-5 Local popular religions like pantheon or patron deity and family of region, city, state or tribe
6-8 Other major religions and popular spirit cults
9 Obscure minor cults
10 Unpopular illegal witch cults

Searching for the last two types you can easily get the attention of the wrong type

d10 Other major religions
1 Patron god of city, kingdom or tribe, possibly the ancestor or creator 
2 Deity and their lover, possibly first ancestors or parents
3 Married pair of gods and their popular child 
4 Deity and their various servants and demigod children and pets and weapons 
5 Goddess and her lovers and children and sisters and spirits
6 God, their family and servants, pets and heroes
7 Worship demigod heroes who lived in old days and their distant divine parents
8  Small pantheon of several generations of gods, their parents, children, pets and servants 
9  Large pantheon of several united families of gods united in the past by war
10 Mega pantheon or a ruling pantheon with thousands of approved gods and spirits

d10 Other major religions
1 Beast cult with a totem beast, abhuman beast folk guardians and their pets
2 Elemental deity or the abstract elemental plane but believes it should rule over weaker elements
3 Elemental deity or the abstract elemental plane but harmonious with all other elements 
4 Elemental deity or the abstract elemental plane but opposed to all other elements
5 Ancestors worship of sacred forebears or a unique tribal ancestor god 
6 Demihuman cult - who follow the religion of one demi human population 
7 Foreign god from a nearby kingdom but possibly isolated from its pantheon
8 Spirit cult who deal with many local spirits, daimon and nature divinities
9 Nature cult who worship the abstract powers of nature
10 Demi god cult - a half-mortal god who lived in the world and has a cult

d10 Obscure minor cults 
1 Arcane cult - abstract unclassifiable beings beyond nature who teach alien occult philosophy, geometry, alchemy, astrology and mechanics. More likely wizards or mentalists
2 Petty god cult - a minor godling embodied in the mortal plane which you can even meet
3 Demi god cult - a half-mortal god who lived in the world and has a cult 
4 Immortal cult - perhaps you will gain the secrets of the immortal and join them in eternal life
5 Local spirit cult - with only part-time devotees of limited influence, possibly object of worship is a changeling with a human form that could be sincere or fraud 
6 Saint cult - associated with a larger religion but independent order not subject to greater church
7 Draconic cult - worship dragons and their ancestors who helped the gods against the enemy
8 Death cult - who contact dead, perform exorcisms and determine the fate of departed souls
9 Mentalist cult - who pursue strange disciplines and mystical methods to master the mind and dreams
10 Plant cult - worship a vegetal spirit of grain, vegetable, flower, fruit tree, forest tree or fungus 
11 Beast cult - worship a domestic animal spirit or divinity possibly part of a greater religion farming
12 Nature cult - worship a land divinity of a river, forest, spring, swamp, hill, mountain or sea

d10 Unpopular illegal witch cults 
1 Night cult - use powers of darkness, nightmares and shadows to seize power in secret
2 Petty god cult - a minor godling embodied in the mortal plane which you can even meet
3 Daemonic cult - swell the armies of the underworld and fill its vast prison of despair 
4 Demonic cult - serve one specific demon of varied rank. power and influence  
5 Diabolic cult - serves hell often devoted so a senior devil of the infernal hierarchy
6 Giant cult - worship giant gods who lost against the gods and seek the wisdom of giants
7 Draconic cult - worship dragons and their ancestors who warred against the gods and giants
8 Necromancy cult - where mostly priests and wizards gain power over forces of death
9 Humanoid cult - follow the religion of kobolds, orcs, goblinoids or abhumans (elemental or beast folk)
10 Outer darkness cult - alien gods live outside our world hungering, it's cold there in the eternal void so let them inside

All this offers quite a bit of non-deity-based options and quick power-grubbing cults for criminals and people who need revenge like that boss villain's lover. Perhaps they were only a bandit but after seeing heroes kill their gang buddies joined a death cult to get revenge and new gifts to help them win or survive. A few changes like an oath per level ever vs oath slots per level have loosened up dramatic villainy to rules.

Where do I find high Level oath-givers?
1 Largest temple complexes with increasingly complex bureaucracy and gatekeepers
2 A secret cult in the sewers that say has mysterious powers but nobody knows what they do really but they say they guard a secret portal to a world of strange alien deities
3 There is a secret school of wizards they say and you need to find an imp to show your the secret door location. they don't charge gold even and they want you to harm your enemies
4 A rancid corpse city of the dead appears in the southern sea once a generation and briefly you can comune with imprisoned alien gods, beware they warp your mind and reality
5 The hierophant of a great city has offered secret oaths to who can find lost relics
6 A foreign priest-king has offered heroes oaths if they aid them against their enemies
7 An isolated wizard in their tower can open planar portals that can take you to meet strange potential patron entities like alien wizards and prehuman immortals
8 Their is a crystal citadel in the sea that appears once a year where heroes of old made oaths
9 A great dragon in its vast lair will teach you but will make you swear to never interfere or harm it or its offspring
10 In the black city in the frozen north are the thousands of remains of prehuman wizards, some may know what you seek if you speak with the dead
11 They say at a certain mountain top you can see a god in their chariot pass often
12 Many beings living on the world tree or faerieland can teach you but beware they enslave you for centuries or make you a cruel plaything

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