The Power of the Devotant God, Power, or Entity Compels Thee!

So, yes, this is a trouble of my own choosing, and an ironic one.

  1. Bleys, as a Devotant, has the Power of Prayer.

You worship a god, power, or entity. Give it a name and choose one of your stats to represent its nature. When you FACE DANGER or SECURE AN ADVANTAGE by calling on it for guidance or blessings, roll +linked stat. On a hit, take +1 momentum or +1 spirit. On a strong hit with a match, a miracle or sign manifests: take another +1 momentum or +1 spirit.

  1. As an aid or assistant to any action we might want to take, it feels like I should be mashing that Prayer button.

  1. Granted, in trying to (e.g.) Secure an Advantage, if I Miss, I might Pay the Price (“you fail or your assumptions betray you”). But with a 3 Heart, that seems not very likely.

  2. As a person, I feel uncomfortable about mashing the Prayer button*. As a player, feel that way, too, like it’s somehow exploiting the system. Being the person saying, at every challenge, “I am calling on God to bless Nail’s trying to shoot the gibbering fiend lunging at us,” feels somewhat weirdly unbalanced, and benefitting from every action everyone takes by praying about it feels a bit theologically squicky.

Am I missing something here? I don’t see much downside to exploitation of the power, except my own kinks about the subject. Why would I not pray every time that Face Danger or Secure an Advantage comes up and rake in the Momentum/Spirit (plus the move benefit)?

* “If you feel like that, why did you take the Path, Dave?” Because I thought, as a RL Devotant, it would be interesting. I’m only now finding my own hang-ups about it as both a player and a RL Devotant.

Smash that Like button asset!

So, I mean, you would. How seriously you take it is up to you, but I think it can be taken seriously indeed. Why? Because in 2004 I was playing the Devotant equivalent, in a game called Synthetic Saints. Jiro Uzuki was a cleric of the Exiler church, which mapped gnostic beliefs onto space travel, and saw the loss of their stargate system as a fall from grace.

Logs here - click through the SSL cert error, I’m a garbage sysadmin.

“Odd, isn’t it,” muses Jiro, quietly, mostly for the benefit of his electronic associate. “How life insists on asserting itself in the cosmos. Something the Creator gave to non-sentients as well, perhaps, so that people like us, who can choose despair, would have something to look at to remind us how to feel otherwise.”

Victor flickers into a semblance of solidity next to Jiro, giving the appearance of standing next to him. “It is true,” the program says. “It says some other things about the nature of life, of sentience and non-sentience. These are wild and primitive things. They live where you and I cannot, because they do not make the choice that it is too danerous to attempt.” He looks at Jiro. “There was a famous military unit on Old Earth with the motto, ‘Who Dares, Wins’. Can something dare, that does not think?”

So looking at the Devotant asset, it just says “When you Face Danger or Secure an Advantage by calling on it for guidance or blessings”… That’s super vague. How do you do that?

It doesn’t have to be an elaborate “oh Lord, bless this jump gate” Evangelical style prayer - unless you want it to be. It can be an internal act, something other characters might notice but that isn’t ostentatious. It can be a recognition of the religious element of the universe, a sort of regard for nature and space and such.

In Jiro’s case, a lot of it was a conversation with this limited AI companion/ethical expert system, “Victor”, that the Church sent along with him.

A shutter opens in the roof of the launch bay, and a short, noiseless burst from the shuttle’s thrusters lifts it from its moorings. On another display, you see the small craft exit the hangar and drift towards the center of the Gate torus. “Jump control, 7298. We have cleared moorings, eta to position, six minutes.”

Jiro closes his eyes, clasping his hands together. In sotto voce he begins chanting, whispering a prayer to the Aeons for a safe journey. “May this passage bring the light, may this passage hearten the soul, may we return to the realm of light by your blessing.”

Make the move not only for the mechanical benefit, but to tell us about this part of your character, and the universe. How have human beings used spirituality to seek comfort? In the real world, we know how travel restrictions have made us feel lost and isolated; how does a formerly connected scifi universe feel about a similar loss of freedom?

Synthetic Saints also gave us rogue super-AIs, and mysterious entities beyond the gates, that in fact sounded a lot like Jiro’s beliefs. We might discover some objective truth behind Bleys’ religious convictions, or we might only see how those beliefs drive him forward. Either way, show us the humanity here by making the move when it feels right.

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Bill gave us some really good thoughts and analysis on this “problem,” but allow me to come at this from a different direction.

In a theoretical game, I am playing a character who has the Blademaster asset. Here’s the asset’s text (at least the first benefit) for reference:

If you wield a bladed weapon…

  • When you Clash or Strike in close-quarters, add +1. On a strong hit with a match, mark progress. Also, once per fight, you may reroll any dice as you make a move to attack or defend using your blade.

With this asset, why would this character ever choose not to wield a bladed weapon in combat? Sure, occasionally something like a gun or some such would make more sense, but given the choice, this character is someone who would likely decide to face conflict up close with a sword or knife.

Most of the assets are written this way. When asked about the issue of “spamming assets” in the playtest Discord, the game creator was a bit perplexed by the question and responded “But that’s what the character is good at.”

Let’s go for another example, a character who would likely also have the Devotant asset: Shepard Book from Firefly. In most cases, you can imaging Shepard making use of his own Devotant asset throughout most of the show. When would he not? Usually when he was doing something outside the tenants of his faith. The assault on Niska’s base? Probably not a lot of Devotant when you’re shooting people in the kneecaps.

Michael Carpenter from the Dresden Files novels is very similar. Very devote man and throughout the main series we generally see him trust in his faith to a fault (though one of the side stories probably comes the closest to “nope, forgoing the Devotant asset for this course of action”).

So I can see Bleys very similar to these two: generally trusts in his faith and beliefs whenever faced with an dilemma. The interesting question is going to be “What course of action could Bleys take that either would make him not rely on his faith or action outside of it?” And the answer may be “there won’t be, Bleys will stick to his guns throughout anything” and that is just as interesting an answer as any other.