Gods & Magic in Navah, Revised

One 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 gods and the use of magic.

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. Mages who travel together will benefit from forming a covenant, which is a bond implying great trust, and which allows them to pool their Shakti (magical power) when casting spells. And unlike in D&D, mages can wield swords, wear armor, and hold their own in battle, if that’s where they put their skill points.

Priests are representatives of the gods, and the gods are real. The powers they grant to their followers are given in addition to the abilities of the followers themselves. This means that priests can be mages, warriors, or scouts as well as following their god(s). In general, the gifts of the gods are light. They usually add a bit to one’s skills or give a unique skill that the religion teaches, and which may be possible only because of the will of the god that grants it. In this, they are generally weaker than the Runepriests of Runequest and much weaker in magic than the Clerics and Druids and such of D&D. The gods give much more power to their own Avatars or Furies. Make no mistake though, if one manages to gain the full attention of a god, they will be sorry they did.

However, a priest is more powerful with his congregation. They do not gain as much Shakti from the congregation as does a mage from a covenant, but then again, congregations can be much larger. If a priest is in a holy place or temple, their Shakti gain is twice normal. So bearding an evil priest in his temple can be enormously difficult, as of course Conan taught us repeatedly.

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 abou

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

That applies for the pantheons. Grom, the one True God, 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’s 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 are conflicts between Gromites and mages (the Gromites represent the poor; the mages the wealthy), between the pantheons and the Gromites (the pantheons came first, but Gromites are supported by the Anthavarn Empire), and among the pantheons themselves.

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, Navah Campaign. Bookmark the permalink.

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