Priests can gain access to spell effects by summoning a powerful spirit which inturn will cast spells through the priests body. This section details the rules for that. The specific rules for each god are covered in their own individual entries (see also Iru Religion and the Priesthood).
The gods rarely intervene directly in mortal affairs, even on behalf of the faithful. In their stead are powerful spirits crafted by them to act as intermediaries between the mortals and the gods. These beings are known as Celestial Intercessors, or simply Intercessors. They channel the god’s energy to the mortal, as a facilitator. They exist solely for this purpose, and they are made to bridge the gap between the mortal and divine.
Summoning an Intercessor provides a great deal of power to a priest, but there is a cost that makes it dangerous at worst and inconvenient at best for a lone priest to take on the burden of channeling celestial energies. Dealing with Intercessors takes its toll on the fragile mortal form.
A priest need only summon an Intercessor once per day. The ritual takes a minute to complete, in which the priest must make an offering and parlay with the spirit for favor. The priest recites relevant holy texts to the spirit to convince it that he or she is a worthy servant of the gods.
When a Celestial Intercessor manifests, they are not normally visible except to the priest who summoned them and those who can see spirits.
Summoning a Celestial Intercessor of the Gods
The initial summoning takes a full minute. Requires a roll vs. the Priest’s Ritual Magic + Level of Initiation. The cost for the summoning is 6 energy. This means the priest must rest for about an hour after, unless others shared the energy in the ritual. Failure means the spirit can’t be summoned that day, critical failure means the energy is still spent, and the spirit can’t be called upon for (3d6) days.
Once the Celestial Intercessor has been summoned, any spell that it can cast may be requested. It takes a minimum of 2 seconds, or the time to cast for that spell, whichever is longer. At dawn, the Celestial Intercessor leaves.
Summoning Multiple Intercessors
A priest may summon more than one Intercessor at a time, thus able to call upon more variety of spells. However, they must also abide by the personalities of any and all present. Also, a priest can’t have two intercessors with diametrically opposed personalities, such as Montros and Phera, Aelgar and Kialgeyr, or Corrym and Fulonus. These gods are not actively hostile to each other, they are just not compatible in their personalities.
The only spell prerequisite that matters is the level of Magery. Spells that require a certain level of magery also require the priest have that level of Power Investiture in order for the Intercessor to cast them. For example: Compel Truth requires Magery 2 to cast. An Intercessor of Aelgar can only channel that spell through a priest of Summer initiation or higher.
Each Celestial Intercessor has a wide range of spells it can cast. But they all pull from the same energy allotment given to that one priest. The priest may use up to three times their Ritual Magic skill in power for any magical effects. This tally is reset at dawn the following day. The priest may continue to request aid of the spirit if this pool is used up, instead powering the spells with his or her own FT. But the priest must always use the allotted pool before they are allowed to use their own FT.
In groups, priests can combine their pool, but must split it evenly.
Example: Precept Lain has Spirit Lore Skill of 15, that means he has up to 45 points of energy that he can call upon in a given day.
The Cost of Power
Channeling celestial energy through the mortal form by its very nature causes strain on the material components of the body. This strain is known as Thinning (or Spiritual Distortion in the GURPS Thaumatology rules.)
At the end of each day, the Priest must roll vs Will + Initiation Level, subtracting the number of points that they borrowed from a Celestial Intercessor. For every 10 points they fail by (rounding up), they gain one level of Thinning. It is likely they will fail if they called on more than a few points. This is why most priests share the burden of spells when they can.
In the case of multiple priests summoning the same intercessor, they equally divide all the costs, and penalties for their own rolls. The exception is their level of Thinning when modifying their individual rolls.
Example: Precept Lain used 30 points of energy this day. At the end of the day, he rolls vs (Will)+(3)-(30). He has a Will of 15,and is a level 3 initiate.. He rolls a 5. That means he failed by 7 points and so gains 1 level of Thinning. If he had been able to cast his spells at the temple, he could have enlisted three or four other priests to share the burden, and likely would have made his roll.
On a much lighter day, Lain uses only 5 points of power (Will 15)+(3 levels initiate)-5=13. He rolls a 12 and all is well.
Maintaining Proper Decorum
When summoning an Intercessor, the priest must conduct him or herself in the manner that does not offend the spirit. If the priest does something that may offend the Intercessor, (Lying when in the presence of Aelgar’s, for instance) a reaction roll is required at –1 if it is a minor infraction and –4 if severe. No other modifiers may be applied. On a bad reaction, the spirit abandons the priest and may not be summoned again that day. On a Very Bad result, the priest must journey to the nearest temple to make a sacrifice to the offended god. On a Disastrous Result, the priest is now cursed! To break the curse depends on the circumstance.
The Thinning and Transitus
Dealing with powerful spirits directly is a risky business, even when they are largely benevolent like the gods. Priests are endowed with certain powers that cost them little as long as they hold to their vows, but they may also summon great power from the gods to achieve many of the same effects that a wizard would. The more challenging obstacles that a priest must deal with often need more direct intervention by the powers that be.
This can put a strain on the body, as divine energy surges through the priest to be directed where he or she wills it. The priest is susceptible to weakening of their corporeal form called the Thinning. When it gets really bad and the priest in is danger of dying, he is said to be going through Transitus.
A priest who is unwell from this phenomena is treated with sympathy by fellow priests. It is not considered avarice that leads one to have to do this, but is just the luck of the draw. If they can recover, they are helped as much as possible. If they succumb, they are given an honorable funeral, as it was their time to join the ancestors.
Thinning is the term used to describe the detrimental effects that a priest suffers when they are channeling a Celestial Intercessor of the gods. Being in contact with so much spiritual energy can weaken the priest’s own material being, causing their bodies and minds to lose coherence. So named because the priest is said to be worn thin by the burden of celestial energy coursing through his or her body.
There are no visible signs until a priest is nearing Transitus. A priest who is suffering from the thinning at level 7 or so will at first only look a little drawn and tired, but eventually, it will show a visible deterioration in their appearance. Hair becomes more course and frayed, eyes glassy, skin pasty.
Sense Aura spell will reveal that someone is Thinning. It appears as small cracks of light that seem to appear and disappear randomly on the priest. As the Thinning gets worse, there are more cracks and they stay longer. At Level 10, the cracks do not go away, they just pulse with energy.
At Thinning Level 10 the priest is dangerously losing his material connection to the world. He has been exposed to celestial energies to such a degree, that the connection between his soul and his body starts to fray. He is said to be undergoing Transitus.
He gains Addiction: Spiritual Energies, which is worth –5 points. The priest will be drawn to use celestial energy, finding reasons to use magic where other options exist, even seeking out situations that call for divine aid.
More dangerously, the mental state of Transitus is that of a willing addict. They feel closer to celestial energies than they do the material world. They are feeling closer to the Divine. This will hinder their ability to realize they must pull back and seek help.
A priest suffering from Transitus may continue to cast spells. But must still make will rolls at a further –10. Any failure means the character drops by 5x the margin of failure in character points(rounded up) to be taken from HT! The priest’s physical body is slowly breaking down from exposure to so much celestial energy. Once the Priest’s HT reaches 0, they expire. Their body bursts into heatless blue and white flames that leave nothing but empty clothing behind.
Example: Lain has reached Thinnning level 10 and has entered Transitus. But he still needs to call upon divine power to aid his friends. He uses 10 points of energy for a spell. Once the spell effect goes off, he must immediately roll against Will+3 (18) – (20). He rolls a 5. That means he failed by 7. He loses 35 character points; worth of HT (4 levels). If he only had a HT of 4 from previous rolls, he would be reduced to 0 HT, he would die.
Recovery from Thinning
Priests who find that they are becoming too Thinned, can decide to go into seclusion in a sanctuary. Shut off from the world, they must undergo meditations and rituals to strengthen their hold on the material world. They must do so for 20-Will days for each level of Thinning. During that time, they must make a Will roll + Initiate level per day. Failure means they do not count that day, critical failure means they lose all previous successes. They do not have to completely recover, instead choosing to end at any point, and retain the level of Thinning they left off with. If they are suffering from Transitus they must first break their addiction and go through the withdrawals (counted as a psychological addiction).
Even if a priest recovers from Transitus, they do not get back any of the character points they may have lost as a result, though they may buy back attributes through role playing. It is rare for a priest who has already entered Transitus to successfully recover, but it does happen.
In a holy place, priests gain a multiplier to the energy they can request from a Celestial Intercessor. This depends on the holy site, but the multiplier can be anything from 2x (a rarely used stone circle in the middle of the forest) to 5x (the Holy City of Ard Usgar). A major shrine, like that found in Brimshire provides 3x the energy.
This multiplier does not apply to any of the rolls of Thinning, or possession. Use the unmodified numbers when determining the effects. Also, this multiplier does not count against the priest’s allotment beyond their base level.
Critical Success and Critical Failure
Critical Success on their spell roll, means the spell has maximum effect, and the power for the spell does not count toward their daily tally. They also do not trigger any roll for Thinning or Transitus.
Critical Failure means not only does the spell fail entirely, but also the priest automatically fails their Thinning roll or Transitus roll by the maximum possible amount, as the uncontrolled celestial energy blasts through their bodies like a bolt from the sky. They are also stunned until they make a HT roll to recover every turn.
Gods of the Iru
The gods are grouped together by the Iru people because they are all appealed to for aid. They are not otherwise associated, and do not interact with each other very much more than between any spirit entities, which have a complex society far beyond the comprehension of mortals. For each god, the Iru at some point in the past made a covenant that the god agreed to provide certain favors in return for the attention of the Iru’s devotions.
The Five Greater Gods
The Greater Gods are beings who existed since the dawn of time, and who represent fundamental aspects of the universe.
Aelgar- God of the Mind and of Truth
Yorn- Time, Fate
Phera- Fertility, Life, Lust
The Young Gods
Some of the gods became so through cults of personality that formed during life and persisted until after their deaths. These beings are the Young Gods.
Mantyr- beasts, communication,
Cruatha- Invention, craft,
Akeron- trade, wealth, persuasion
Corrym- battle, justice
Fulonus- mercy, endurance, healing,
Ogarus- Magic, knowledge
Kialgeyr- trickery, deception, puzzles.
Besides the patron gods of the Iru religion, there are two more, who are not worshipped by most. Instead they are feared. Offerings may be made out of an attempt to placate these entities, but even that is misguided, for they have unlimited appetites.
Korvaal- Chaos, Lies, and Ruins
Doruinn- decay, pain, suffering, disease, madness
Domains: Though some gods share spell domains, they are restricted to the personality of the god. So, even though Montros is a god of Necromancy, you can’t create zombies, or use the other darker malign spells of that college in his name. Players can refer to the personality of the deity when determining if a given spell is open to their use.
Some gods have more spells than others, this is less a reflection on how powerful they are than in how involved they tend to be with mortal affairs. However, gods that offer more power, also tend to be more challenging to deal with. There is a trade off. Aelgar is not very demanding, but Kialgeyr is, as is Phera.
- Author’s Note: For the sake of simplicity, the colleges from GURPS magic have been assigned to the gods directly as domains, because building a spell list that is more rationally adherent to the personality of the god would be cumbersome in play.