The Enemy Within
Divine Prayers & Invoking Blessings
Religion and the power of prayer are undeniably present in the Old World. Those who have curried the favour of their chosen gods can perform great deeds in their names. Calling upon one’s patron deity is not without its own risks, however. Should a faithful servant beseech his god at the wrong time, or without due case, he may lose what favour he has gained, and suffer strain, injury, or worse!
Divine prayers and blessings in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay are fuelled by favour. Divine characters invoke their god for aid, asking to be blessed, then pray to generate the favour necessary to fulfil their request. The more significant the blessing, the more favour required before it is fulfilled.
Before generating favour, a divine character must ask his deity for a specific blessing. This is called invocation, or invoking a blessing. If the deity responds to the request and deems the character worthy, the character then prays to curry favour and fulfil the blessing.
To invoke a blessing, the character selects the appropriate action card from his collection. The character must be able to fulfil all the requirements listed on the card. Most blessings require the character to attempt an Invocation check, which is based on his Fellowship. The blessing results are listed on the action card, based on the outcome of the Invocation check. Some blessings use other abilities, or are automatic. Refer to the individual blessing cards for details.
Invoking divine blessings is inherently safer than casting arcane spells. Since the specific blessing is selected first, it is far less likely for a divine character to “overchannel” in the same way an arcane caster might – a blessing resolves as soon as it has accumulated the required amount of favour.
If the Invocation check fails, the blessing is not successfully invoked. The character loses one favour, regardless of the listed favour required for the blessing. The character may try again on another turn.
Once a blessing is successfully invoked, it automatically draws favour from the character in an attempt to fulfil the requirements. If the character has enough favour to fuel the blessing, the favour is immediately consumed and the blessing’s effect goes off. If the character does not have enough favour to immediately activate the blessing, all of the character’s favour is drawn out and placed on the blessing card to indicate how much favour has already been accumulated.
Thereafter, the character continues to funnel favour to the blessing until either the blessing is invoked or he chooses to abort the blessing. All available favour is funnelled in this way during a character’s Beginning of Turn and Action phases. Any favour generated during a character’s End of Turn Phase or during another player’s turn is stored by the character, and only applied to the blessing during his next Beginning of Turn Phase.
As a consequence, a blessing’s results can only be resolved during its invoker’s turn (unless that blessing is a Defence action). If a character acquires enough favour to fuel his blessing during his End of Turn Phase or during another player’s turn, he still must wait until his next turn for the blessing to be resolved.
Aborting a Blessing
If a character aborts a blessing that is currently holding favour, all favour is lost and returned to the supply. If the amount of favour lost is equal to or less than the character’s Willpower, he suffers one stress. If the amount of favour lost is greater than the character’s Willpower, he suffers one stress and one fatigue.
Invoking a blessing is just one part of the process to create miraculous effects. Once the character succeeds at invoking a blessing, he must gain enough favour with his deity to fuel the effect.
An individual divine character can be viewed as a rechargeable favour battery, of sorts. A divine character slowly earns favour with his god over time, by remaining faithful to his god’s tenets and teachings. The divine character’s Willpower rating indicates his favour equilibrium. When a divine character is currently holding favour equal to his Willpower rating, he is at equilibrium.
When his favour level is below his Willpower rating, his favour slowly recharges, until it eventually reaches his Willpower rating. When his favour level is higher than his Willpower rating, he slowly loses favour unless the character can show his god that he deserves the extra favour coursing through his body and soul. If the amount of favour currently held by a divine character is far more than his Willpower, he risks angering his god by showing too much pride and arrogance, and the excess favour will be violently purged from his body. This purge can potentially cause fatigue or inflict wounds to the character.
To generate favour, the divine character selects the Curry Favour action. The Curry Favour action is resolved by making a Piety check, which is based on the character’s Willpower. The action card details how much favour is generated based on the results of the Piety check.
Divine characters can safely hold favour up to twice their Willpower, though they still need to expend a small amount of energy to keep from purging favour as it tries to reach equilibrium based on their Willpower. To reflect this, a divine character must spend a manoeuvre on his turn to control this extra favour. If the character cannot or chooses not to spend a manoeuvre to control the extra favour, he loses one favour.
Divine characters can attempt to hold even more favour, but at greater risks. When a character’s current favour is more than twice his Willpower, he risks angering his god. The character must spend a manoeuvre, as well as suffer one stress to maintain this much extra favour.
If he cannot or chooses not to spend the manoeuvre and suffer one stress, all the excess favour is immediately purged, returning to the divine character’s point of equilibrium. The character immediately suffers one fatigue for each point of favour vented. In addition, the character must roll one misfortune die for each favour vented above his safety threshold. For every challenge symbol generated, the caster suffers one wound. For every bane generated, the caster suffers one stress.
Some effects can force a character to lose favour apart from the favour used to fuel divine blessings. Also, the bane or Chaos Star effects of some blessings may force a character to lose favour in addition to any favour consumed by the invocation of the blessing.
When a character is forced to lose favour, that favour is immediately removed from his current supply. If the character does not have enough favour in his supply to satisfy the required losses, he is reduced to zero favour and immediately suffers one stress.
No Favour to Lose…
If a character is already at zero favour when an effect forces him to lose favour, the situation grows more dire. The character must immediately attempt a Discipline check, with a number of challenge dice equal to the amount of favour he is unable to lose.
If the Discipline check succeeds, the character suffers 1 stress with no further effects. If the Discipline check fails, the character suffers 1 stress and immediately gains a temporary insanity with the Enigma or Trauma trait. The player then places a number of tracking tokens on the insanity card equal to the difficulty of the check.
A priest who has as much favour as his Willpower score is said to be at equilibrium. It is the default, natural “rest” state for all priests. All divine character trend towards equilibrium, and they are assumed to be at equilibrium anytime their current favour is not defined, such as during story mode (in most cases), or at the beginning of an encounter.
During the end of turn phase, a character whose current favour is less than his equilibrium gains one favour. A character whose current favour is greater than his equilibrium loses one favour, unless he spends a manoeuvre to control the excess, as noted under Excess Favour above. Characters also trend towards equilibrium in this way during a Rally Step, gaining or losing favour as if it were an end of turn phase.
Note that priestly favour behaves in exactly the same fashion as a wizard’s power, in regards to equilibrium.
Erich, a Priest of Sigmar with a Willpower of 4, has 4 favour. He is at equilibrium, and doesn’t need to do anything special to maintain this level of favour.
Later, Erich invokes a blessing that requires 6 favour. All his available favour is immediately moved into the blessing to fuel its effect, and Erich’s player places 4 tokens on it. He still needs to generate 2 more favour to complete the blessing. Erich now has 0 favour, and during his end of turn phase he gains 1 favour, bringing him to 1 favour and closer to equilibrium. This favour is also immediately applied to the blessing, so Erich is back to 0 favour.
Erich then uses Curry Favour, generating 8 favour! One of the 8 favour is applied to the blessing, which finally has all the favour it needs. The remaining 7 favour go to Erich, who now has 7 favour. During his end of turn phase, Erich loses 1 favour, reducing him to 6 favour and bringing him closer to equilibrium.
Resolving a Blessing
Once a blessing has been invoked and enough favour generated to fuel it, it can finally be resolved. Each of its effects as determined when the blessing was invoked are triggered, and the appropriate number of recharge tokens are placed on the card.
There is no need to check requirements a second time, nor to roll a second check when the blessing is resolved. Note that some effects (particularly bane and boon effects) may be resolved when the blessing is first invoked. These effects are identifiable due to their use of the word “immediately,” as in “immediately gain 2 favour.”
In Great Need
Normally, a character can only perform the action listed on one action card on his turn. However, divine characters can attempt to both invoke a blessing and generate favour on the same turn, if they are willing to accept more risk. To generate favour during the same turn his character invokes a blessing, the player adds an extra challenge die to his Curry Favour check.
Stances & Divine Blessings
Managing stances is one of the critical decisions a player makes when establishing how his character interacts with others and solves problems. This is no less true for initiates and disciples. A reckless Sigmarite has little choice but to act aggressively when a challenge arises. A conservative Shallyan is far more diplomatic but less prepared when negotiations fail and matters devolve into violence.
The Conservative Stance – Caution and Diplomacy
Invoking blessings while in a conservative stance is as close to reliable that the unpredictable whims of dealing with the gods gets. Alas, it can also be unbelievably slow and potentially less effective in combat. Divine favour accrues steadily but slowly as the priest patiently and carefully beseeches his god for aid.
Playing a priest in a conservative stance means being contemplative about action. Blessings invoked while in a conservative stance are often prayers of defence and recovery, of information and negotiation. The priest does not rush headlong into unknown situations, and is not overly eager for a fight. Often, the priest is trying to save life, protect others, and minimise violence.
The Reckless Stance – Fury of the Righteous
The reckless stance is often seen as the purview of the zealous and fanatic. Tactics and strategies are very direct: to crush the unbelievers headlong. Divine favour accrues more quickly, and critical effects (both good and bad) are frequent and often intense.
Playing a reckless priest means throwing caution to the wind and putting yourself into the hands of fate and your deity. If it is the priest’s time to meet his maker, so be it. These fanatic servants of the gods are certain that a place of honour is prepared at their god’s side. Reckless priests can invoke powerful and dramatic blessings that can turn the tide of battle. They want to show the unbelievers the unleashed fury of their patron deity.
Omens and Portents
The fact that some priests perform miraculous feats and blessings is evidence enough for most that the gods of the Old World exist and take an active hand in events. However, to the truly faithful, this is not the only way that the gods make their presence felt.
The people of the Old World are a superstitious lot and they see omens and portents in everything. A raven flying overhead may mean a family member will soon die (usually true enough – the Old World is a dangerous place!), a broken mirror is seen as bad luck, and fortunes can change often as the day’s events unfold. The truly faithful, however, may find themselves presented with a far more immediate and potent form of communication from the gods.
A priest of Morr might smell the stench of rotting flesh in the presence of a secret necromancer, or see flowers in a garden turn into black roses outside the house of a man about to die. A priestess of Shallya might see a radiant dove landing at the feet of a woman who is sick and needs healing. A Sigmarite may be woken from his sleep by a vision of a twin-tailed comet, just in time to hear intruders creeping into his home. These sorts of things happen constantly throughout the Old World, if the stories are to be believed.
Unlike a wizard’s magical sight, a priest’s ability to see these omens and receive these visions is entirely in the hands of the gods. Your character may live his entire life and never receive a single vision, or he may be plagued by constant dreams and a cavalcade of phantasms only he can see. GMs are encouraged to make liberal use of omens and portents in their stories to help make the Old World come alive for his players.
The omens and portents that appear to a priest are likely to vary depending on his patron deity.
Omens of Morr
As Morr is the god of dreams, he often chooses to communicate with his priests in dreams or dreamlike visions. These visions are often highly symbolic, with the iconography of death being prevalent. Ravens, skulls and skeletons, graveyards, and black roses are common in both dreams and waking visions.
In addition to his role as god of the dead, Morr is also the god of prophecy. While many of his omens are exactly what one might expect – a raven circling a house where someone is about to die, for instance – he may also grant more far-ranging visions of the future to his priests.
Omens of Shallya
Shallya is unrelentingly merciful and sympathetic. As her priests and priestesses are devoted to easing the pain and suffering of others, her omens and portents usually serve to highlight that suffering.
Sometimes the suffering Shallya’s omens portend is not obvious. There’s no need to bring a priest’s attention to a man with a broken leg, after all – both the injury and the treatment are clear. However, a woman whose broken heart may soon drive her to murder might be a more subtle injury, more difficult to treat, but in Shallya’s eyes her suffering is no less worthy of care.
Radiant doves, tears, and blood drops are some of the symbols that Shallya favours.
Omens of Sigmar
Sigmar is not especially renowned as a god of prophecy or omen. On the other hand, his mortal birth over 2500 years ago was heralded by the passage of a twin-tailed comet through the heavens.
The real problem with omens of Sigmar is not that Sigmar does not send omens, but that the common people of the Empire are inclined to see them everywhere. In the absence of anything as obvious as a twin-tailed comet in the sky, Sigmar’s faithful must set their sights rather lower. The superstitious common folk will find Sigmar’s favour or displeasure virtually anywhere. Some see an overcast sky or a nagging injury as a sure sign of his displeasure, while others see his hand in the sound of a hammer striking an anvil, or other commonplace events.
Playing a Priest
There are a number of special rules that apply to creating a priest character or moving into a priest career.
The Faith Talent
All priests have access to a Faith talent slot, which is determined by the god they worship and the cult to which they belong. All priest characters, whether beginning play as a priest or entering into the Initiate career later in life, automatically receive any one Faith talent of their choice for free. This talent gives the priest a special ability and determines which blessings he can learn and invoke.
The nine gods and their domains are:
- Manann, God of the Seas.
- Morr, the God of Dreams & Death.
- Myrmidia, Goddess of Warfare.
- Ranald, God of Luck & Trickery.
- Shallya, Goddess of Healing & Mercy.
- Sigmar, God of the Empire.
- Taal, God of Nature & Wild Places.
- Ulric, God of Battle, Wolves, & Winter.
- Verena, Goddess of Learning & Justice.
Priests can never acquire a second Faith card, and learning blessings from outside a priest’s faith is impossible…unless, of course, it is the will of the gods.
The blessings invoked by priests come directly from their gods and their faith. While the Empire is a polytheistic society, the strictures of priesthood require commitment to the tenets of a single god, and so priests may never learn the blessings of one of the other major deities of the Old World.
A priest may only ordinarily learn and invoke blessings with either the Basic trait (which represents simple prayers said to all gods) or with the trait of the god matching his Faith talent card. Non-priests may not learn any divine blessings at all.
Erich is a priest of Sigmar. He may learn any Basic blessings or any blessing with the Sigmar trait. He may not learn Soothing Touch, as it is a Shallya blessing.
Creating a Priest
A starting Initiate character who begins the game with Invocation and Piety acquired by investing creation points will receive certain action cards for free. If he begins the game with Piety acquired, he gains the Curry Favour action for free. If he begins the game with Invocation acquired, he gains the Blessing of Health, Minor Blessing, and Minor Ward action cards for free.
A character who becomes an Initiate after character creation gains none of these benefits. He must acquire and learn these skills and actions the hard way.