Divine Intervention

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Divine Intervention

Postby Jynnx » Tue Feb 18, 2014 7:32 pm

These rules are part of a campaign setting that I used to run - the very first, back when I was still a freshman in high school. They allow for characters in dire straights to risk of themselves in order to call down the blessing or curse of the divine to help even the odds of a situation.

Note that this system has been updated for Pathfinder already, since I have been slowly rewriting that campaign. As a result, they have been altered slightly to make use of the optional Hero Points system presented in the Advanced Player's Guide. Antiheroes (characters who choose not to take hero points) cannot use them. If you are running campaign without hero points at all, but still wish to include these rules as part of your world, the quickest fix is to require that a character take on one drained level each time they request divine intervention.


Faith itself is a powerful force that can openly interact with the physical world. Though the true essence of the gods often resides in spiritual realms beyond mortal understanding, such beings have been known to manifest semi-divine "avatars" that allow them to walk among their faithful and experience life from their eyes. Powerful prayers of priests and shamans can open invisible tears in the very fabric of reality, allowing the divine influence of a spiritual being to seep out and take dominion over areas of the physical world. But most stunning - and most terrifying - of all, is the direct intercession of the spirits on behalf of those who serve them. There is arguably no more obvious sign of the might of the Divine; and of their favor. Or their wrath.

The Nature of Intervention
Divine intervention is never an accidental occurrence. It can take place only when someone of true and unshakeable faith has need of it and requests it. Whenever such a miracle happens, it means that powerful cosmic forces have temporarily overwritten the natural flow of time, energy, and events, and ravaged the normal limitations of reality with their will. The power of such a holy (or unholy) thing may manifest in subtle ways; the laws of probability are skewed to grant success to a gambler in games of chance. It may also manifest in spectacular displays that leave no question as to the awesome and terrible ally of the parishioner; a dying soldier prays for his god to rain retribution down on the foes that defeated his homeland, and pillars of salt and flame tear apart sky, water, and land to reduce an entire army to shredded meat and ash.

It is worth noting that divine intervention does not require an intelligent "deity," per se, in order to function. In a world where philosophy replaces religion, and priests dictate to the spiritual matters of pure good and evil instead of to the will of a god of good or evil, even faith in a philosophy allows for divine intervention. It is this faith that truly fuels intervention of divine powers and may or may not be answered, not the powers (sentient or mere forces of nature) that respond.

Questors of Intervention
Anyone who seeks divine intervention is known as a "questor." A questor need be a sapient creature of true and unwavering faith. In game terms, this means that the questor must have an Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma score each of at least 3, and cannot have ever acted in any way that opposes the tenets of his or her faith while serving it (the actions of a convert, for example, before being drawn into the fold shouldn't be held against a questor). Most divine forces and deities are able to understand the language of any faithful creature that serves them. Without a specific reason for the contrary, language should never be a barrier to requesting divine intervention.

Obviously, only a questor that truly believes in the righteousness of the divine sources he or she is requesting aid from could ever hope to be answered. In many cases, this can be easy to define - a cleric, druid, or other character capable of casting divine magic is definitively a true believer. But what of the tribal barbarian warrior who offers a lifetime of service to the nature spirits worshiped by his tribe? Or the urbanite rogue who swears herself to the cause of a vigilante goddess that strikes out against corrupt judges and officials? In cases like this, "true faith" may be trickier to define if the GM or group of players is focused on quantifying such things. For most situations, a character's actions should be enough of a barometer - has the character devoted his or her time to furthering the tenets of their faith? Then they may be a questor.

The Mechanics of Intervention
To request divine intervention, a character must spend at least one full round doing nothing but praying for aid. This consumes a full-round action, but the character can do nothing else - not even take a five-foot step. Until the start of the questor's next turn, they lose their Dexterity bonus to all statistics (and also lose the benefit of both Evasion and Uncanny Dodge, as well as the improved versions of both features). This act consumes 1 hero point, and permanently lowers the character's maximum number of hero points by one.

At the start of the questor's next turn, he or she must make a Charisma check (DC = 10 + 1/2 questor's total HD). This DC should be increased by +2 for each previous attempt to request divine intervention, successful or not. A questor particularly favored by the divine powers in question might receive a bonus to this check up to a maximum of +4; conversely, a member of the faith that has fallen into disfavor but not yet been forsaken might be penalized by as much as -4.

With a successful check, the questor receives his or her miracle and selects a single 0-level or 1st level spell to be cast on their behalf. This spell is selected from among those associated with any domain offered by the deity or divine power. The questor makes all choices regarding the spell, such as who to target or how to cast it if the spell can be applied in a variety of ways, but any level-dependent variables are calculated with a caster level equal to the questor's Charisma check result. Ultimately, this effect is wrought on behalf of the questor and not by them, and isn't really a spell at all as much as divine will taking form - no spell resistance is allowed, and any saving throw normally checked is automatically failed.

It is possible to receive a stronger miracle by focusing greater effort and personal force of will. While the cost of divine intervention does not change, the maximum level of spell that can be used as divine intervention increases by 1 level for each additional round the questor prays. These additional spell levels can be applied to actually create a higher-level spell effect, or to apply the effects of metamagic feats. In either case, these additional spell levels are added to the DC of the Charisma check required to request divine intervention.
Let me sleep through this time of pain,
And grant me innocent dreams.
Rouse me during the first summer rain,
When all the world's at peace, it seems.

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