Gods & Magic in Navah

William Blake's illustration of ProphecyOne of the issues I face in running the Navah campaign is the preconceptions that many people bring to the game that are based on other game dynamics or fantasy cultures (i.e. Tolkien). One of the most common is the issues regarding Priests and the use of magic.

Priests are representatives of the gods, and the gods are real. They do not, however, grant a lot of powers to their followers, as do the Clerics of D&D. Instead, they are like the Runepriests of Runequest, but not as powerful, which throws most people. The reason for this is that there is magic in Navah, and it works for anyone who trains in it. It is also highly regulated. One needs to purchase a license to gain the approval of the Empress to work magic, and thereby gain the protection of the Empress from the common folk who prefer to burn mages and witches. The Church of Grom, the One True God, supports such burnings because it views mages (at least mages who do not belong to the Holy College of Ethical Magic) as the servants of Vlek the Flame King at worst, and egotists with dangerous powers at their very best.

Nevertheless, despite its regulation, magic is a tool, and a powerful one. Licensed magicians, unlicensed Shamans, unlicensed demonic mages, priests of the various pantheons, and priests of Grom all use it in one form or another.

The confusion usually manifests through a comparison of the relative power of priest characters and mage characters. Magic is obviously powerful. Deity-received powers are not. Priests have much fewer powers granted by their god(s), but they can supplement those by studying magic. They do not have to pick one or the other. And Priests gain effective Willpower through the Belief of their followers when casting in their home temple. So a priestly magician can be quite powerful indeed, but little of that power comes directly from their god, who only grants them about 10% of the power they grant their avatars when sent to Navah as Furies. Make no mistake though, if one manages to gain the full attention of a god, they will be sorry they did.

So what/who are the gods? The gods of the various pantheons could be several things:

1. Abstract ideas that folk belief have created. Few gods would admit to this.
2. Powerful figures (possibly with magical training) who have gained enough followers to ascend. This is the most likely case, rather like the Runelords and Runepriests of Runequest who begin their ascension through Heroquests.
3. Ancient gods who now manifest based on the belief of their modern followers. The Harvester of Foes is an example of this.

Belief is the key to power for these gods. The powers they grant their priests may be smaller than their own, but if a god chooses to directly involve itself, its presence will be felt. There are three levels for such intervention:

1. By priests
2. By avatar (or Fury)
3. By the god itself

Grom is very different. Divine intervention for Grom is democratic, so much rarer than for other gods (Grom has more adherents to look after). Miracles of divine intervention have been reported. Intervention can come through:

1. Calling upon Grom
2. Handling a Seyva artifact and calling upon Grom
3. Having a Seyva personally intervene for you with Grom
4. Grom (as represented by the referee) taking a personal hand

So, magic is a tool that everyone uses. There is not a conflict between magic and the gods. There is a conflict between the Gromite Church (supported by the commoners) and the Magician’s Guild (supported by the Empress and most of the nobles in the Empire).


About lostdelights

An old gamer flying his freak flag, I've been playing table-top role-playing games since 1978. I've been building my own system (Journeyman) since 1981.
This entry was posted in Advice to Beginners, Journeyman, Navah Campaign. Bookmark the permalink.

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