Tweaking Religious Lifepaths

In our homebrew setting we’ve decided to do without Faith, therefore our Church is not faith-based, but rather sorcery-based. It’s actually an anti-theistic religion and teaches that the early church destroyed the gods to protect man from their meddling. It holds man supreme and follows a Christ-like Anointed Prophet who is embodied in whoever is the current leader of the Church. Kind of taking the Christian scouring of paganism to an extreme and tossing out the divine nature of Christ.

Anyhow, the powers that be in the Church are sorcerers, though there are many non-Gifted members, who I guess compose the laity, while the sorcerers would be the clergy. I’m trying to figure out how to tweak the lifepaths to represent this. I was thinking to just replace any occurrence of Faithful with Gifted, sprinkle some sorcerous skills throughout the Religious lifepaths, and add leads to the magic college setting in Magic Burner. Could it be that simple or am I overlooking something that could be game breaking. This is my first time messing with the lifepaths and I just want to make sure I’m not screwing anything up.

Are most of the clergy sorcerers? Or are there special paths to becoming a sorcerer?

If there are non-sorcerer clergy, you might want to keep the Faithful trait, but change it to a character trait, or maybe a call-on for religious doctrine or suasion or something like that.

You could also tweak LP prerequisites so if some level of clergy is always sorcerers, you add that requirement (maybe in place of some other requirement).


OK, here’s my Top Secret™ process to making LPs these days:

1. Figure out the main jobs for these people

What’s the primary kind of roles these people would have? Don’t be too specific, but break them up functionally with a short name to describe them. Also work out basic hierarchies. Finally, jot down some new skills that are intrinsic to these jobs, if applicable.

2. Determine if a setting exists, a sub-setting, or neither.

Is there some geographically-located place where these people live, distinct from others? If so, you need to have a new setting. Kids are born/raised here, and outsiders have work to fit in.

If it’s a sub-society of sorts, it’s a sub-setting. These people are located with other groups, but mostly spend time with the others in their sub-setting.

If these people don’t have any society of their own, skip this step.

3. Figure out any additional jobs needed

If there’s a new setting or sub-setting you might need some other support jobs you didn’t think of in the first step.

4. Match up the jobs to existing LPs

Look for similar LPs where the first trait and first skill match the new job. Copy it, and tweak the details as needed. If you’re adding new skills or traits, just leave it as a name for now.

5. Make new LPs

If nothing is close at all, make a new LP, as described in the monster burner. Keep it simple and don’t try to throw everything in there. Again, if you’re adding new skills or traits, just leave it as a name for now.

6. Figure out new traits & skills

For skills, first make sure you can’t just use an existing skill, or adapt an existing skill. If nothing really fits, then jot down a few example tasks, and figure out obstacles.

For traits, ponder carefully if the trait should be something other than a character trait. Don’t go nuts with superpowers.

7. Burn up some characters

Test burn up some characters from 3-5 LPs. Would you want to play them? Are there builds that are “too good”? Are there some that are too railroaded? Tweak to taste.

I can see several ways to approach this.

One is just as you think. Replace Faithful with Gifted. Maybe add Sorcery—but maybe not! It could well be that real mastery of sorcery requires a standard wizardly apprenticeship. Another way is to not change lifepaths at all. Most of the clergy aren’t Gifted (just like most aren’t Faithful in standard BW). Some can wield magic, but magic isn’t like Faith; it requires an inborn gift and a lot of training. Those who want to be sorcerer-priests have to take the extra sorcerous lifepaths. You might then want to add Arcane Devotee to the Religious subsetting.

I like the latter idea, personally. Create tension between time advancing in the Church, which is when all is said and done a political organization, and time advancing as a sorcerer, which requires hard study time that pays off, and is lucrative, and potentially useful in the Church hierarchy, but not immediately a source of promotion.

You might also decide whether advancement eventually requires the Gifted trait. Perhaps all Bishops must have it. Or all Archpriests. Or nothing of the sort.

I don’t want to craft a whole new setting and lifepaths, as our ideas map pretty closely to what is already there. I like the idea of adding Arcane Devotee to the Religious subsetting and then requiring you to follow the typical sorcerer lifepaths if you want that power. The upper echelons could be made up of these sorcerer-priests, who are always on the lookout for gifted acolytes to train and cultivate, and this creates immediate tension and conflict with the rest of the mundane priesthood.

That sounds good. Making relatively small changes has a lot of advantages.

This sound akin to how I would like to structure the religious structure in my campaign. Currently I am modeling it off of a Hyborian/Tekumel approach. There are “gods”…they are just powerful extra-dimensional creatures who you can bargain with to gain knowledge. This would make most sorcery temple based with a few renegades who can contact them on their own. I want to add a few tweeks (“psychic” magic which is based on the users energy, and “ritual” but that is another time).

Supplicant From magic burner (few as gifted and prospective student of the arts)

Temple Acolyte: time 7, res 10, +1M, Leads (City, outcast, servitude, soldier)
Skills: 6: Write, Read, Doctrine, Temple-Wise, Priest-wise, Mediation, Symbology
Traits 2: Tonsured, Obedient, Gifted