Paths of Immortality

I was talking with tussock in rec.games.frp.dnd about talent design and what various tiers mean, for practical purposes.

Among other comments, I read

Speaking of which: I flicked through the OD&D Deities, Demi-Gods, and Heroes the other day, and couldn’t help but notice they considered that characters over about 14th level were *GODS*! It’s where the max level of 13th-16th for some classes came in.

Might explain why it’s hard to visualise your higher tiers.

Seems they were originally intended to be …

B = 0-level, non-adventurous townsmen, guards, and soldiery.

X = adventurers, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli.

H = great heroes, King Conan, Gandalf the White.

M = super-heroes, x-men, comic thor, the flash.

C = Wizards; destroyers of armies, green lantern, demi-gods.

L = Major Gods, Arch-Mages, Kings of the Giants. World-shapers.

Your Legend team should be Ra and Anubis off to the underworld to recover the ten thousand souls stolen by the lizard from before time so the next generation of Egypt can be born.

I kept wanting to put the Gods in Epic territory in 3e, but they’re quite easy to fit into 16+ if I let it happen, 12+ for the lesser ones, 8+ for the wieners.

This actually is consistent with what I have found in other places.  One of the major ones is Mongoose Press’ Book of Immortals, which suggests allowing access to the paths of immortality somewhere around 10th-12th level.  The powers gained at low numbers of victories (gaining a measure of primal power is a challenge, and progress is measured in ‘victories’) are consistent with others gained in that level range.

The powers gained increase from there, and there are four steps of apotheosis (five if you count ‘transcended’, which is becoming a full god and out of play).  If it is possible to start at Master tier, this gives

Tier Level Echelon Step Victories Great Challenges Aura
Master 9-12 17-20 Aspirant 1-3 0 0 + 1*victories
Champion 13-16 21-24 Wielder 3-6 1 5 + 1*victories
Legendary 17-20 25-28 Illuminated 6-9 2 10 + 2*victories
Epic 21-24 28-32 Immortal 9-12 3 15 + 2*victories
Transcended 12 4 30 + 3*victories

This looks passably aligned between the systems.  I did not include a specific tier for Transcended because I think it might work better as a capstone.

Normally each victory brings with it a gift of some sort (usually a step along a path of power).  I think each path could be implemented as a talent with four steps (in Book of Immortals each might need more victories to complete, but there are empty steps that I am happy to remove, and I don’t mind merging others).

I need to consider how victories and challenges interact with talents.  Requiring a victory before gaining or improving an ‘immortality talent’ seems likely and appropriate.  The Steps are probably cornerstones (Aspirant through Immortal, at least), but I can see the later ones (wielder through Transcended) being capstones instead.

Not everyone would want to pursue immortality, though.

  • Gaining these talents requires specific effort.  You have to take the Immortal talent just to play the game, and you are likely to have specific challenges to meet.  These might be forming a tap on a wellspring of power, complete a quest for a more powerful patron, or some other great deed.  It might be easier to pursue more mundane avenues of power.
  • It is likely dangerous.  Becoming an Aspirant is likely to make you a wonderful target… before you are powerful enough to truly stand up to the scrutiny, if you don’t pursue it hard.  Find patrons, tap wellsprings as quickly as you can, and otherwise build up your power to become too dangerous to be a target.  “Mere mortals” (who might in fact be more powerful) may not have the same threats… or might be the threats, since one way to achieve an easy victory is to defeat and absorb the power of an Immortal.
  • In addition to specific effort, this is likely to prove expensive.  If you want to grow beyond Aspirant, it looks like it will take three talents plus cornerstone or capstone, probably kept toward the top tiers.  If you have only six top-tier talents (and only eight or nine in your top two tiers) this is a pretty big investment.  I think it would be difficult to ‘dip’ immortality.
  • Most powers bring limitations.  Powerful creatures of Law, for example, find it difficult to lie, or even to mislead.  Creatures of Death might be surrounded by a deadly miasma.  Most talents otherwise leave you free to act (being a champion berserker might make it practical to adopt certain tactics on a regular basis, but you may and can do something else… being a Legendary creature of War might make it literally impossible to do something else).

However, these things do bring power, and potentially (or at least, until you are killed) unending life.

Decisions, decisions… I’ll need to explore this some more later.

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3 Comments to "Paths of Immortality"

  1. tussock's Gravatar tussock
    February 17, 2012 - 3:34 am | Permalink

    I see the proper title of the OD&D book is “Gods, Demi-Gods, & Heroes”. Deities & Demi-Gods is the first edition version (before they renamed it to Legends & Lore).

  2. February 17, 2012 - 4:45 am | Permalink

    What exactly is a “victory” in this context? I haven’t read their book (I may get it as it sounds relevant to something I’m working on).
    I assume “Great Challenge” is exactly what it says on the tin, some sort of Herculean task to earn your right to immortality.
    I like the idea of a Legendary game played using Ra and pals. Sounds like a laugh!

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