Saturday, 1 August 2015

Foes of the Wicked City 4: The Renunciates (character class)

The religions practised in the cities of the great road don't agree on much, but there is a broad consensus amongst them that there are two basic paths to holiness. The first is the path of the mind: you can immerse yourself in the holy texts, losing yourself in language mysticism, sacred mantras, holy calligraphy, and memorisation of the secret names of god, eventually becoming a Disciple of the Word. The second is the path of the body: equipped with just enough knowledge of theology to get you started, you can head out into the world, into the desert or the mountains, and learn to hear those words of God which are not written in any book. You will need to strip yourself bare, of course: you will need to abandon wealth and possessions, living in absolute poverty and simplicity, exposing yourself to whatever heaven chooses to send you. You will need to be tough in body and strong of mind. But if you persevere in your asceticism, then the divine will begin to reveal itself to you: shining out of the heat of summer and the ice of winter, glittering off the slopes of distant mountains, whispering out of the cracks in the earth. Those who have devoted themselves to the pursuit of such divine wisdom - a wisdom which is felt in the bones rather than held in the mind, and which cannot be reduced to words -  are known, collectively, as the Renunciates.

Franciscan friars, Sufi dervishes, Buddhist monks, and Hindu Sadhus are all good real-world examples of Renunciates.

The exact practises of the Renunciates vary from sect to sect: some confine themselves to monasteries or hermitages; some walk the world in an endless pilgrimage; some actively mortify their flesh through rituals of penance or asceticism. Some sit beside blazing fires for days on end to burn all the impurities out of themselves; some meditate naked amidst the mountain snows; some starve themselves, or scourge themselves; some run barefoot in endless circles, day after day after day. All take vows of poverty. They are highly respected by the ordinary people, and even though many of them have only an extremely basic knowledge of religious doctrine they are widely recognised as having access to special forms of divine wisdom of their own. Most of them live by begging - never accepting more than they need to survive - and it is considered very lucky to give to them, even if they don't technically belong to your religion. After all, anyone who's put themselves through that much hardship for religious reasons must be pretty holy by now, right?

The Wicked King is served by Renunciate orders of his own: mad cults of assassin-ascetics, fantastically scarified in atrocious torture-rituals, who serve as the shock troops of his armies and in the death squads of his secret police. These aside, however, the Renunciate orders generally agree that the Wicked City is an appalling stain on the earth; and while most of them do not see it as their place to intervene in worldly matters, they are usually happy to lend aid or shelter to those who are fleeing from the Wicked King's agents, or whom the cruelties of the Wicked City have left wounded in body or mind. Perhaps a few, those who are still young enough to have not become completely unworldly, could be persuaded to take a more active role in bringing about the city's downfall...


Flame, Stone, Cloud, Ocean: You may play a Renunciate, if you wish, although you will need Constitution and Wisdom scores of at least 12. Game information is as follows:
  • You have taken a vow of absolute poverty. The exact wording varies from order to order, but usually it will forbid you from ever owning more than a robe, a staff, a pair of sandals, and a begging bowl. (Some particularly hardcore orders may even leave out the sandals.) You can borrow and use other equipment if necessary - you can ride borrowed horses to accompany your companions on long journeys, climb borrowed ropes when caving or mountaineering, even fire borrowed guns when defending yourself from attack - but these are the only items that you will ever own, as opposed to borrowing as needed on a case-by-case basis.
  • You are proficient with simple weapons (although the only one you'll ever own is a staff, 1d6 damage), but will not use any armour or shield: after all, exposing yourself to the world's hardships is the whole point of your renunciation. 
  • You gain 1d8 HP per level.
  • You gain a bonus to attack rolls equal to one-half of your level, rounded up. 
  • Your body is so hardened by your ordeals that you gain +1 AC due to leathery skin and general toughness. You can also add your Wisdom bonus (if any) to your AC, to represent your superior body awareness.
  • You gain +2 to FORT and WILL saves. (Included in table below.)
  • You may go without food or rest for a number of days equal to your level, and without water for a number of days equal to half your level, without suffering any ill effects. When this period ends, you are as tired and hungry as if your ordeal had only just begun. (So a level 3 Renunciate who fasts for 5 days will be as hungry as a normal person who hasn't eaten for two days.)
  • You can perform incredible feats of endurance. You should be assumed to automatically succeed at all normal tests of endurance: resisting pain, heat, cold, exhaustion, etc. Very extreme tests of endurance, such as resisting severe prolonged torture, may require a Constitution roll. 
  • Your body can repair itself with incredible speed. For every four hours you spend in deep meditation, you regain 1 HP. (This does not count as resting, and is not compatible with keeping watch.)
  • At level 1, and every two levels thereafter, you may select one of the following Ascetic Attainments:
    • Dervish Dance: You gain +2 AC and +2 to REF saves while lightly encumbered.
    • Feel No Pain: You gain +1 HP per level. You are also totally immune to physical pain.
    • Firebreather: Once per day you may exhale an enormous cloud of fire right into the face of someone within melee range. This inflicts damage equal to 1d12 + your Wisdom modifier, although if they pass a REF save then the damage is halved. You can also use this ability to set fire to inanimate objects.
    • Fire Walker: Fire will not burn you. You are immune to heat and fire damage, and take half damage from gunpowder explosions.
    • Healing Hands: By laying on hands, you may cause any injured person to instantly regain 1 HP. This ability may only be used once per day on each person.
    • Healthy Lifestyle: You are immune to poison and disease, and gain an additional +2 to FORT saves.
    • Kung Fu: You're from one of those monasteries. Pick some kind of impractical martial arts weapon, like a meteor hammer or a kusarigama; you are proficient with it, and may own one without breaking your vows. You gain a +1 to-hit bonus with it; it inflicts 1d8 damage wielded one-handed, or 1d10 damage wielded two-handed. (If anyone else tries to use it, they do only 1d6 damage and injure themselves horribly every time they roll a 1 when attacking.) You also inflict 1d4 damage with your bare hands.
    • Language of Beasts: You can speak either the language of birds or the language of animals (pick one: if you select this ability twice then you can speak both). They tend to be mildly well-disposed towards you, but won't put themselves out of their way to help you unless you can give them a good reason to.
    • Levitation: By meditating cross-legged while lightly encumbered, you may cause yourself to levitate off the floor. While levitating you move at a slow walking pace, but you can move freely in three dimensions for as long as you maintain absolute concentration. You can levitate for a maximum number of rounds equal to your wisdom score plus your level; at the end of this time you sink gently to the floor and must wait 1d10 minutes before you can levitate again.
    • Militant Ascetic: You have special dispensation from your order to own weapons and armour, and to wield them against the enemies of your faith. You gain proficiency with light shields, and with armour up to and including breastplates (+5 AC).
    • Tummo Meditation: You have total control over your own body heat. No matter how cold it gets, you can simply choose to stay warm; you could sleep naked in a snowstorm and suffer no ill-effects. You are immune to cold damage.
Renunciate Summary Table

Level
Hit Points
To Hit Bonus
Fortitude save (FORT)
Reflex save (REF)
Willpower save (WILL)
Ascetic Attainments
1
1d8
+1
12
14
12
1
2
2d8
+1
11
13
11
1
3
3d8
+2
10
12
10
2
4
4d8
+2
9
11
9
2
5
5d8
+3
8
10
8
3
6
6d8
+3
7
9
7
3
7
7d8
+4
6
8
6
4
8
8d8
+4
5
7
5
4
9
9d8
+5
4
6
4
5
10
10d8
+5
3
5
3
5

Starting Equipment: Simple light robe, staff (1d6 damage), rope tied around your waist, sandals, needle, begging bowl. This is all you will ever own. 

3 comments:

  1. Shouldn't it be two bo sticks rather than one staff?

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, they started off as a D&D version of Power Masters, but then I tried to connect them with some actual history.

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