Free RPG – Powers and Principalities

by MugaSofer

This game is basically a monument to the fact that Exalted is hyped up as The Game Where You’re God-Tier. And that I’m the sort of Simulationist type who wants to be able to recreate stuff they’ve read/scene/whatever. And that I’m a fan of Superman, everything Neil Gaiman has ever written, and also real-world mythology.

And I’m a total RPG nerd.

(Mechanics after the jump.)

OK, so you’re a Power: a god, or an archangel, or a personification, or even a technically mortal individual with the heroic willpower to become the greatest ever at what they do and fight their way through the armies of hell itself rather than give up. Whatever.

So: pick four Titles (FATE Aspects, basically) to describe your character. Focus on what makes them Powers: Scion Of The Aesir, Bridge Of Rainbows, Lord Of Thunder, Hammer Of The Gods, for example. Yes, maybe he’s also witty or attractive or very good at juggling, but this almost certainly doesn’t need mechanical representation. Also, pretty much every mythic figure has outwitted their enemies time and time again; this doesn’t get a Title, you’re supposed to play it out. Ideally, Titles should sound like some sort of fanciful, well, title but it isn’t strictly necessary.

Also, pick a Principality, or Realm if you don’t want to use Unique Capitalized Game Terminology. This is the place you live, defend, and maybe not rule, but certainly influence. For Superman, this is America or Metropolis; for Lucifer, this is Hell; for Morpheus, this is the Dreaming. Try to resist the temptation to choose “Earth” as your Principality; every heroic god-tier character ever is Defender Of Earth, and it gets awkward. If your group only has one person who wants Earth, and it’s central to their concept, fine; but it’s usually best if Earth is no-man’s land that suffers the side-effects of titanic conflicts played out across it.

(Principalities serve basically as built-in plot hooks, and have no mechanical representation unless you take them as a Power as well. If you really want to focus on the God-King aspect, you could stick the Company rules from Reign over the top of this.)

Everyone starts with a pool of five Lesser Miracles and five Grand Miracles. These are used to reshape the worlds and change – or end – lives. Lesser Miracles refresh each session; you also have a Flaw, which is a reason your character doesn’t quite play well with others. Creating conflict by playing to your Flaw gives you a Lesser Miracle. Grand Miracles are recovered by achieving great victories; generally speaking, each character should earn an average of one per session. They can only be spent when it falls under one of your Titles. All this is judged by the Referee (GM; you didn’t think a game like this would be GMless, did you?)

 

A single Lesser Miracle can reshape a single mortal’s life. This could mean healing an incurable medical condition, killing them, or something weird like turning them into a crab-centaur. Anything smaller than this – lighting lamps, flying, confusing a stormtrooper – is free and entirely fluff, as long as it only applies to a single person, is purely temporary, and can be justified under an appropriate Title.

Lesser Miracle costs are as follows:

1 LM- Changing a single mortal’s life (turning them into a frog, say, or giving them low-level superpowers.) Affecting a small aspect of a large crowd’s lives (e.g. giving them all purple eyes.)

2 LMs- Changing a small group’s lives (fifteen at the absolute most.) Changing a small aspect of a vast army or city’s lives (a few million tops.)

3 LMs -Changing a large crowd or army’s lives (1,500 maximum.) Changing a small aspect of everyone in a country’s lives.

4 LMs -Changing millions of lives. Mildly affecting the life of every being on Earth.

5 LMs – Changing the life of everyone in a large country or continent. Gaining a single Grand Miracle, or granting one to a loyal servant.

Grand Miracles, by contrast, involve world-shaking events and are spent only rarely. Spending even a single Grand Miracle is a major event in the story, and regaining spent GMs is similarly significant. Generally speaking, they are designed to encourage players to hoard them, spending them on grand gestures that mark the peak of their character’s arc.

Grand Miracle Costs:

1 GMs – destroying, creating, or performing sweeping modifications to a continent (or America, which is really big for a country.) Meddling with the life of a Power as if they were a mortal (killing a Power is generally pointless, since they can still spend Miracles, and take appropriate actions if they can justify it under a Title.)

2 GMs – destroying, creating, or completely reshaping an entire world. Empowering a non-Power as your servant; assume they gain a (full) LM pool from this point onward, are reasonably loyal and are controlled by you but occasionally seized control of by the Referee.

3 GMs – nullifying another Power’s Grand Miracle spending. Tends to lead to “arms races” between the warring Powers. Additionally, creating some elite servants; treat as creating a servant with 2 GMs but allow them to be in multiple places at once etc. (being in multiple places at once yourself would be a 1 GM expenditure, BTW, but it’s probably not worth it.)

4 GMs – Creating, destroying, or reassigning the Titles of a Power (this is liable to earn a lot of enemies no matter what you do with it.) Note that pretty much any Power with 3 or more GMs will block this attack and then proceed to destroy everything you know and love for your hubris. And you still can’t keep a Power down forever; they can still technically gain and spend Miracles, and take appropriate actions they can somehow justify under a Title despite your best efforts.

5 GMs – completely reshaping the entire cosmos (chopping down the World Tree.) This can function as a “mass” version of spending 4 GMs only with explicit Referee permission, and reshaping the cosmos in other ways as well always requires two expenditures.

Spending Grand Miracles has serious repercussions for the setting; the Referee should roll a number of d6s equal to the GMs spent during a session at the end, count those that roll 5 or 6, and “spend” that number of GMs themself on side-effects in the next session. (FUDGE dice are handy for this, as you can just count the plus sides. Or you could roll something else with 1/3 odds of succeeding – nWoD dicepools are good for this, d10s that succeed on 8, 9 and 10 and reroll any 10s as well .)

 

P&P is a fairly abstract and vague system, since I was focusing on the theme of being powerful rather than, say, Responsibility to mortals (they’re so like children!), having to deal with everyday mundane problems while juggling vast titanic conflicts, or maintaining your emotional attachments to humanity. However, while I like to think it works fine on its own, P&P is also fairly easy to slot over some other system, so if you have something that brings out the themes you want but isn’t powerful enough you can add some P&P goodness and stir (Mage players may want to hack this in place of the Archmaster system, for example.) If you’re a little more technically-minded, you way also wish to rework parts of this system to suit your needs (or patch bugs I missed) – I’ve tried to make this as transparent as possible regarding the purpose and thinking behind everything.

Have fun, and, of course, if you have any questions I will definitely try and answer them. I may also put out a default setting and even a starter adventure for this, at some point, but honestly it’s kinda a part of the concept that PCs practically are the setting – what with Principalities and Miracles and all. Indeed, if you have a certain kind of players, you wont even need NPC Powers – the players will just bounce off each other and their own growing mythos, carving new epics into the world.

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