Campaign: Young Gods
It is December, in the year 2011. The eve of the New Age is upon the world, and those who happen to be superstitious have been watching the turning of days with a bit of dread. The Mayan people have predicted the end of the world, some would believe, while others believe that this is the end of a world, and the coming of the next.
These both happen to be true.
The winter solstice has come, and with it, a strange sense of nausea and vertigo strikes a rare number of people in streets and homes across the world. Some recover quickly, shaking off the feelings that come, while others collapse, taken to the hospitals or left in the streets until the day’s end. Each of these people are changed – something has awakened within them and left a mark.
These are the new gods of the world, heralds of the next age. It is through their actions that the world is judged – to either continue into the next age, or to be devoured by entropy.
The characters are literally becoming the gods of the next age. This is not an instant process, but more of an evolution over time. Characters begin at Power Level 6, and will gain strength over the course of time, working their way up to Power Level 10 and beyond. Each Hero should choose a specific code of Virtues which represents their heroic ideal – the four presented are inspired by the Virtues of some of the oldest cultures in the world. A character who follows these virtues recover Hero Points and will be rewarded Power Points by how well they hold to the virtues. A character who forsakes the virtues presented will gain Corruption Points as their souls are devoured by entropy. A hero who falls to entropy causes the world to tip towards nothingness, and after a certain number of heroes fall, the world ends. If the heroes can hold off the forces of entropy long enough, the new age begins, and the world is renewed.
Virtue is not a construct of humanity – it is instead an understanding of the principles of the world, given shape and form through human perception. While this understanding is imperfect, it is enough to create a base line for the actions of the gods and to provide a goal to be attained by mere mortals. It is interesting that these codes are laid out by the religions and philosophies of the world.
Code of the Man
Found in China, the Eight-Fold Path was the answer to the question, “what is it that makes a good man?”. These eight virtues lays out the principles that define a person as a good man, and the hero that follows this code is one who constantly strives to perfect themselves and inspire those about them.
Duty: The Hero has a sense of duty – the need to do right in the face of adversity. The Hero has a duty to good for herself, to others, and to the community.
Understanding: The Hero knows when an action is good or not. She does not need to ask herself if her choices are good or wrong. The Hero is aware of what she does and her reasons for doing so, and chooses the right path.
Excellence: The Hero’s path is one of progression. She does not hesitate to rest upon past deeds, and instead strives to do better with her future deeds.
Compassion: The Hero knows the hearts of those about her, and feels her connection to them. Without this bond, she can do no good for any but herself.
Loyalty: The Hero is loyal to those around her. It is through this loyalty that she can contribute to a greater goodness than herself.
Family: The Hero does not stand alone, and if she were to fall, it is through her family that she can be redeemed.
Courtesy: The Hero knows her place by always giving respect to others, and by the respect that others give her in return.
Courage: The Hero is filled with courage, and even in the face of certain defeat she does not hesitate. For without courage, she will never have the strength to try.
The Code of the Hero
Found in ancient Greece, this was the code followed by the classic Greek Heroes. It is a strict code, reminding the Hero that the path is difficult, and requires sacrifice from the hero at all times.
Temperance: The Hero practices moderation. She only takes that which she needs, and otherwise shows restraint. Nothing is wasted, she shares with others when she has too much. This is the virtue associated with nature, for the wild animal will not eat if not hungry, and nature wastes nothing.
Fortitude: The Hero is courageous. She is willing to face both danger, and uncertainty. The warrior will face pain or threat of death, and the scholar will face shame and humiliation, but she must confront her fears and press forward to overcome her own limitations and attain victory over her own fears and doubts.
Prudence: The Hero is wise. She learns from her own experiences and from the experiences of others. It is wrong to neglect wisdom from any source, and it is only through wisdom can one discern if her actions are virtuous or vicious. No Hero is an island.
Justice: The Hero is the instrument of justice. She acts according to her station, and should expect what she is due. In return, she brings justice to those around her. It is her place to ensure that those about her act as their station demands, that they be allowed to own what is their right to own, and to ensure that compensation is given when they are wronged. Each is given what they deserve. One who can not fulfil their role in society is removed.
Piety: The Hero shows respect and devotion to her family, her community, and to those who hold authority above her. She is dedicated to her community and those within it, and is respectful to those beneath her and above her.
The Code of the Warrior
While the image of the samurai as noble warrior is relatively recent, crafted in the current century, it was not a total fabrication. Before bushido was the four precepts of honour – the underlying principles which were used to construct the way of the warrior.
Chu: The Hero must preserve the principles of ethics, acting as is appropriate to her place in society, and ensuring that others act as is appropriate to their station. Corruption must be carved out, so that the people can hold faith in those above them and below them.
Ko: The Hero shows proper respect to those about her. She shows respect to the position that one holds, and the duties that ties someone to that position. She respects the officer of the law and the symbol that office holds. She respects the farmer in the field and the hardship he endures. She respects her family and acknowledges that her actions reflect on her family – as their actions reflect upon her.
Chi: The Hero seeks wisdom, so that she may understand the world and her place within it. She seeks not only knowledge, but the means to understand the knowledge she has. Each action that she takes is one that is weighed by wisdom, and if there is no wisdom in her action, she does not act. Each action that she takes is one that is given purpose and direction by the purity of her cause.
Tei: The Hero gives respect to the elderly, knowing that within them is the knowledge of the past and the wisdom of experience. The elderly have performed their duties and have given to the community, and in this time it is the duty of the younger generation to care for those who have come before.
The Code of the Saint
It is not simply enough to hold to worldly virtues, and early Christians believed that life was a constant struggle between good and evil, with the prize being one’s eternal soul. Inspired by the Greek’s Code of Man, the Christians crafted the seven virtues that one should follow to keep one’s soul pure.
Humility: The Hero is selfless, showing proper respect and recognizing the achievements of others. She is modest and is able to take satisfaction in the good works of others, rather than requiring her own glory. She knows she need not be better than those around her, and feels no pride in her own achievements.
Kindness: The Hero has empathy for others, and shows friendship and compassion. She offers sympathy to others with no thought of herself, and without prejudice. It is through these acts of kindness that the community thrives, and she feels no jealousy within herself.
Patience: The Hero shows moderation and forbearance, showing forgiveness and mercy. She accepts the truth of the world around her, and of herself, and comes to terms with these truths, accepting law and the principles of justice, with no thoughts of revenge. She feels no wrath within herself.
Diligence: The Hero shows a strong work ethic, knowing that every action should be done with joy and with one’s whole heart. She does not wait for when she is needed, but actively seeks out activity for herself, whether it be work or play. Each day is lived to the fullest, and she feels no sorrow or apathy in her heart.
Liberality: The Hero is generous, giving of herself without thought of reward. Her thoughts and actions are always for those who are around her, rather than for herself. She is loyal to her friends and to her community, and puts their needs above her own. She feels no treachery or greed within her heart.
Abstinence: The Hero is constantly aware of her surroundings, and shows self-control and moderation. She does not waste, taking only what is needed, rather than what she desires, and ensures that others can share the enjoyment she feels once she is done. She feels no gluttony in her heart, and does not suffer from excess or consume for its own sake, nor does she burden herself with worldly wants.
Chastity: The Hero shows valour, pure of spirit and mind. She seeks knowledge and enlightenment, so that every action is pure of intent. Her goal is to be pure of thought and word and deed, and the pursuit of knowledge and enlightenment is the means to this end. She does not distract herself with physical wants, and feels no lust in her heart.
(Note: ‘Lust’ is a not just about sex. Lust is the distraction of the body to the detriment of knowledge and enlightenment. The Virtue of Chastity does not mean ‘no sex’. Sex is a part of life, and this is understood. Lust, giving in to desires of the flesh and placing that as a higher priority than valour (purity of spirit and mind), is wrong.)
The Code and Hero Points
A character is expected to follow a Code, but can instead choose to follow no Code at all. A character who acts in accordance to her code, and remains true to her Code in the face of adversity will gain Hero Points. A character is able to gain up to half their Power Level in Hero Points (modified by such things as Feats or other methods to increase this level). Thus, a generic character begins with 1 Hero Point, and can gain up to 3 (Power Level 6). A character who decides not to follow a Code can not gain Hero Points. Instead, they have the Hero Points they start with, and when those are expended, they have no more until the next session. A character who does not hold to a Code has only themselves to rely on and that is, in the end, all they have. A Hero can still gain Hero Points by allowing themselves to fail (or the game master invokes GM Fiat).
Corruption Points uses both the mechanics for Taint Points, and for Villain Points from the Mastermind’s Manual.
A character who acts against their Code will gain Corruption Points – this is the pull of entropy upon them, trying to erase them from the world (and ultimately, erase the world itself). Each time the character gains a Corruption Point, a single Attribute suffers a permanent –1 penalty. In addition, the maximum number of Hero Points the character can have is reduced by one. (Thus, a generic character is allowed up to two Corruption Points). A character can spend a Corruption Point as a Hero Point, but doing so does not erase the Corruption Point, and instead gives another Corruption Point. To lose a Corruption Point, a Hero must forego gaining a Hero Point when it would be earned. A Hero with no Code can only lose Corruption Points via GM Fiat – and that is no guarantee at all.
A Hero who does not follow a Code gains a Corruption Point any time they would perform an evil or villainous action. Evil is defined as the following: A deliberate and willful action which is harmful, selfish, or destructive, which does not provide benefit to another or to the community, that is not done in self defence, the defence of another, or the defence of the community. If the action is in question, and needs to be justified in any way, shape, or form, it is considered ‘evil’. Beyond this, whether or not an action is evil depends on the play group. If another player feels an action is ‘evil’, it is brought to the game master’s attention – which will often be enough to warrant a Corruption Point.
The enemy of the world is entropy. This is a very real threat – and while some signs of it are obvious (decay), other signs are more subtle but just as present – degradation of community, family, friends. Entropy is the severing of bonds, spiritual, physical, and mental. It is the place of the young gods to strengthen these bonds – the gods are the ultimate symbols of community. A Hero whose Corruption Points reduce their maximum Hero Points to 0 (or, 3, in the case of a generic starting character), is devoured by the forces of entropy and unmade. Enough Heroes get unmade, and the fabric of creation is destroyed, plunging everything into Nothingness. Game over.
As an aside: The enemies are usually going to be creatures or people chosen by Entropy to try to tear down the world and society. :)