Today, we’re coming to the new part of the character description in Gods of the Fall: the Dominion of the character. This is the part that describes what the newly Awakened god is the god of, augmenting them from “merely” powerful mortals to something divine. The chapter starts off by stating it’s specifically addressed to the GM; it always amuses me to see these things, because every game book is addressed to the GM.
Characters start off at Tier One having already had odd visions, dreams, and a growing awareness that they’re something more than mortal. They know that a divine spark has touched them; at this point it’s now up to them to decide if they’re going to embrace their new nature or try to reject it.
No one knows for sure where divine powers come from; some insist that the new gods must be the old gods reborn, others think they’re the children of the old gods. Nulumriel thinks the new gods are merely echoes, lost avatars of the old gods in the process of fading away once and for all.
And now we get to the interesting bits; to unlock their Dominions and the abilities thereof, characters need to meet Obligations. They suggest an Obligation for each tier to unlock it, but note that (as the GM’s prerogative) this can be deemed to be any sufficiently significant accomplishment on the part of the growing divinity. Obligations are a mixture of divine works and philosophical choices needed to draw followers and create something that could be construed as a faith around the character.
Discovering the Obligations can easily be a quest in itself, discovered by any number of methods. If the characters have a copy of the Book of Fate, it might spell out some of what they need to do. A seraph of virtue might turn up to proclaim the Obligation to the characters. Or they might just have a dream or a vision of what they need to do. Regardless, an Obligation can be met before reaching the necessary tier, but if an obligation isn’t met by the time that tier’s reached the player can’t benefit from it.
At first tier, characters need to choose their Dominion; this is at once the most important and yet most nebulous of Dominion aspects, as the choice will inform a lot of other decisions – possibly even having in impact on the rest of their descriptor. It makes far less sense for a God of Fire to be someone who Works The Back Alleys, after all, than it does for them to Bear A Halo Of Fire.
The next tier brings a need to choose a symbol to serve as their sign; they also need to have a representation of that symbol on them in some fashion, be it worked into something they wear or literally tattooed onto their skin as a sign of their purpose and power; this is where they gain their first divine shifts, collecting three at once. Every tier after brings another divine shift with it.
Tier three brings a divine labor obligation; this could be killing a lesser raver, ending a slaver’s business, rooting out a nest of goblins, or whatever else fits the character’s dominion. The characters don’t get a say in what their labor is; the GM assigns it and they have to figure out how to accomplish it.
At tier four, characters need to define their dogma, codifying what will become the creed of their faith. This could be as simple as “Help the needy” for a god whose Dominion is Protection or Mercy, or something layered and obfuscated for a god whose Dominion is something like Secrets or Mysteries.
Fifth tier brings the need to acquire believers; this could be handled by the GM off-screen, having adherents pop up in the wake of their adventures, cheering their divinity from out of sight, or it could be an explicit set of adventures to convert people to the faith of the new gods. There’s also apparently a Dominion ability that can serve to fulfill this requirement; by the name of it I’d say it gives the new god a devout follower.
The last tier is basically an amped-up version of the third; a divine labor that qualifies as a truly major task, such as defeating the Fleet of Sin, killing the Hellmaw, or something of equally significant effort. This is, in effect, proving the characters’ divinity in a large enough fashion that no one can argue against it.
So what’s the actual benefit of all these things? First up there’s the divine shifts. These let you pick a category of tasks and apply your divine shifts as automatic levels of Effort. Accuracy, which might make sense for a God of the Hunt, applies the shifts to all attack rolls; picking a single specific attack (which might befit a God of War) applies them to all attack and damage rolls with that attack. Resilience might grant the levels of Effort to Might Defense and grant you Armor at +1 per shift. The book has a reasonable list of options, but that’s hardly the end of possible ideas; additionally, you can spread your shifts out across multiple categories, allowing you to diversify what you can accomplish.
As a Tier 1 god, you can manifest a divine nimbus; you can choose whether or not non-godly beings can see it, and it may provide an asset (or inability, depending on the situation) on various social interactions. Godly beings can always see your nimbus, and you theirs. At Tier 2 you can do things like become aware of your name being spoken anywhere in the world or summon a seraph to serve at your side. At Tier 3 you can choose things like manifesting an awe-inspiring divine nimbus, gaining a celestial steed of some sort, or having a disciple. Tier 4 allows you to create items from nothing or shapeshift to disguise yourself, among other neat tricks. Tier 5 allows you to gather a band of disciples to follow you through the world, conjure a creature from the Aether, or travel at phenomenal velocities. And finally, at Tier 6, you can do things as powerful as controlling the weather or causing an earthquake.
Last, there’s a section on forming a formal pantheon; benefits to it include multiple PCs using the same ability but only one paying the Pool cost, and the disciples of a pantheon collectively offering a bonus on recovery rolls by the PCs in that pantheon. This is followed up with a bit on advancing past Tier 6, but that’s largely something you can find in the Core book, if I remember right.
Next time, I’ll be delving into Equipment and the GM side of the book; check back to see how far into it we get!