Some Deadlands: Weird Wars House Rules
|by T. Jordan "Greywolf" Peacock|
Miracles Master List
There are many religions followed in the world of Deadlands, and many types of Blessed who have been endowed with powers by their patron deities. It is a matter of fierce debate whether some of these deities are really gods or goddesses at all, but rather particularly powerful manitous (or, as some would call them, "demons") who grant powers mimicking those of miracles, but by a darker source of power.
The truth behind it all remains to be determined by the Marshal, of course.
There are some who actually follow the gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt (or "Kemet"), and this article is meant to provide some possible rules for them. This is a religion with many gods and goddesses to it, and while once upon a time, a priest would pray to whatever deity happened to hold sway over the "jurisdiction" of the problem he needed help with ... these days the old gods and goddesses are fairly jealous of their followers and the miracles they grant. It's possible for someone to have faith in the Egyptian pantheon as a whole, and for someone to claim to be a priest or priestess representing them, but when one is a Blessed, one must select a particular god or goddess to follow. Priests of old would offer prayers to all the deities, and Blessed of the Egyptian gods likely will do the same, but the granting of Miracles to Blessed is done on a more "personal" basis.
It should be noted that while it's popular to portray certain gods and goddesses in the Egyptian mythos as "good" or "bad", they are not seen in such a light in the "western" sense. It is entirely possible for a good Posse member to be a Blessed of Set, a god best known for murdering Osiris (twice!) ... and it's entirely possible for a Blessed of Isis to be a downright nasty character and still gain her favor. Likewise, two Blessed of the same god or goddess might battle it out, and their diety will still give them both the same blessings and miracles. All that matters is that they still show proper honor and respect to the values of their patron deities.
The identity of various Egyptian gods and goddesses is fairly blurred, as there are some who claim that they were really all just various "aspects" of a single deity known as Netjer. Thus it is that there are strange fusions of the identities of gods and goddesses, and inconsistencies in the mythos. In one myth, Bast might be the daughter of Ra, and in another, his wife - but not both. (The Egyptians had a thing for brother-sister marriages amongst their rulers and deities, but things didn't quite get that exotic.) Sekhmet, Goddess of Vengeance and Destruction, is often considered to be a form of the normally peaceful goddess Hathor.
It is up to the Marshal, of course, to determine the "true" story behind the Egyptian pantheon in his campaign, but this article is written with the presumption that the Egyptian deities are separate individuals. Perhaps some of the Egyptian deities don't even exist, or some are stronger than others, but they're each treated as different entities, with their own fields of specialty. There might really be a "Netjer", a single entity wearing many masks, but for the purpose of these rules, that's a purely academic detail.
Faith is purchased in the same way for a Blessed of an Egyptian god/goddess as for any typical Blessed - It represents faith in the Kemetic (Egyptian) gods, but the Egyptian Blessed character must choose which Egyptian god the character is primarily serving.
Faith for an Egyptian Blessed is treated slightly differently when used to determine the difficulty of invoking Miracles.
When an Egyptian Blessed seeks to use a Miracle on someone who has a "general" Faith of the Egyptian Pantheon, this is treated as if the person was of the same religion, even if that person is not devoted to a single god or goddess. The target's Faith level is added as a bonus to the Faith roll of the Blessed invoking the Miracle.
When an Egyptian Blessed seeks to use a Miracle on someone who is a believer in the Egyptian Pantheon and is devoted to the same deity, then most certainly the Faith level of the recipient is added as a bonus. However, if the recipient follows another deity, it is possible that the Faith level may count as a bonus, may count as a penalty, or may not count at all, depending upon how good of terms the deities in question are on with each other. (Seti and Osiris, for example, probably don't have each other over for dinner and a game of dice very often.) It is important to note that the Egyptian deities are not so strongly aligned as being "good" or "evil" as more "western" religions, and it's entirely possible for Blessed serving the same deity (or deities) to be in mortal combat with each other, without either losing favor from their patrons.
The actual priests of Egypt were not largely concerned with the performing of miracles - at least, not at the higher levels of the hierarchy. As the priesthood expanded in size, and there were many temples to be maintained, the priests were largely concerned with the maintenance of the temples, and the practice of horology (the tracking of the hours of the day), astrology, predicting the high and low flows of the Nile, and regulating agricultural practices for Egypt.
The high priest was at the top of the hierarchy, and acted as an advisor to the pharaoh. He might either be hand-selected by the new pharaoh, or may have worked his way up through the priestly hierarchy to attain this position.
The "oracle priests", stolists, of the temple held the most prestigious positions, being personally responsible for the ritual tending to the statues of the gods - ceremonially feeding and clothing them, and opening and closing the doors to the temple. They were especially concerned with physical and spiritual purity, and shaved themselves of all body hair (partially to protect against lice), and bathed three or four times daily.
At a lower rung in the hierarchy were the "lay magicians" who filled the last caste within the priesthood. The lay magicians would serve within a temple known as the "House of Life", and would, through the use of magic and connection with the gods, provide services to their community, through counseling, healing, interpretations of dreams, counteracting of evil magic, and to supply incantations of various types. Although the lay magicians were not as high in the hierarchy in regards to the administration and maintenance of the temples, they were by no means less important - just more involved in a more "practical" application of the powers granted to them by the gods.
In addition to the priests, scribes were also highly valued and closely related to the priesthood, though they were not actual priests themselves.
It should be noted that, although the Egyptian culture was most certainly patriarchal, the priestesses held positions on par with their male counterparts in the priestly hierarchy, though their duties were more concerned with music and dance within the temples. As Hathor and Isis gained in prominence, and especially from the twenty-third dynasty onward, such priestesses practically became the rulers of the hierarchy.
One advantage of following the Egyptian pantheon is that they're pretty permissive of the actions of their followers, so long as they show proper respect to their deities and their particular areas of influence.
Here is a very general sin table for Egyptian Blessed, though it may be added to or subtracted from, depending upon the individual god or goddess.
If the Blessed in question happens to be considered a priest, he has a few more stringent requirements than one who is merely faithful. Priests are expected not to eat of fish, since that is traditionally regarded as the food of peasants, and they are not to wear wool.
|Minor||Taking one's deity's name in vain; eating fish (if a priest); wearing wool (if a priest)|
|Major||Accidentally bringing harm to an animal, temple, etc., sacred to one's deity; disobeying a higher-ranking priest; eating cat meat (accidentally)|
|Mortal||Deliberately harming an animal, temple, etc., sacred to one's deity; killing an animal sacred to one's deity, whether accidental or not; eating cat meat (deliberately); blasphemy (denial of religion); harming or killing a higher-ranking priest of the same faith; desecration of a royal (Egyptian) tomb|
There are certain Miracles and Gifts available to Egyptian Blessed regardless of their particular diety. Please note that Protection isn't one of them, and Egyptian Blessed don't get the "Protection" Miracle for free. For the sake of clarity, the same names are used here as would be for Blessed, though Egyptian Blessed may well call them something else entirely.
In addition to this, deities who have a certain sacred animal also allow their followers to have the following miracles, though these are restricted solely to the type of animal appropriate for that deity:
The following Gifts are available to Egyptian Blessed:
There are a number of Huckster Hexes that are available to various Egyptian deities. These are specified with the particular deity that can grant them, or else on the master Miracles List. These hexes have rules identical to those listed in the Hucksters and Hexes book, except that the Blessed rolls his faith instead of hexslingin', and instead of drawing a hand of cards, he compares his roll to a TN determined by the hand that would normally be required for the hex.
The following chart is meant to translate the Huckster hands into Target Numbers. It doesn't necessarily reflect a fair representation of the odds of getting any given hand, or the risks involved in drawing from a deck of cards and hoping not to get a Joker. It does, however, provide a scale of difficulty for the Miracles of certain Egyptian deities that happen to have similar effects. If a spell's description indicates that there are more potent effects for each "hand" the Blessed gets above the minimum required, then this added effect is instead for each raise he gets above the minimum roll.
|Three of a Kind||13|
|Four of a Kind||21|
Egyptian religion is polytheistic in Deadlands, though some might make an argument that the gods were really just aspects of the same being known as "Netjer." (There was also that eccentric pharaoh named Akhenaton (King Tutankhamen's father) tried for a while to change the religion of all Egypt so that they would just worship a single deity, known as Aton - the sun disc. That experiment lasted only as long as he did, and then it was back to business as usual.)
The Egyptian gods are not necessarily "good", nor are they as all-encompassing as, say, God/Allah/Jehovah. They are powerful spirits, but their interests are focused on a specific geographic area (Egypt) and on particular realms of influence. Furthermore, the invocation of their powers is very closely tied with more traditional sorcery.
Therefore, the Miracles of Egyptian Blessed are fully affected by any powers that would normally only affect Hexes and the like. The Disrupt power of a Huckster can be used against Egyptian Miracles, even though it normally would not affect powers of the Blessed. The Censure Miracle of the Blessed (even if used by Egyptian Blessed against other Egyptian Blessed) will affect Egyptian Miracles the same way they would Hexes.
One reason for this is that Egyptian Blessed aren't restricted to the same set of powers that most Blessed get to choose from. They've got a few unique abilities available to the various deities, some of which are very close in effect - or identical - to certain Huckster Hexes.
Another important factor in the invocation of Miracles is that the Egyptian gods are not very tolerant of incompetence amongst their followers. They tend to be fairly vain. Whenever an Egyptian Blessed botches, there will usually be some sort of unpleasant side effect. This side effect may be explained with the description of the Miracle. As a rule of thumb, if the Blessed was trying to strike someone blind, then he strikes himself blind ... or if he's trying to call forth water, the water comes, but it's bitter or even poisoned. If the Marshal is unable to think of a proper "malfunction", then the default ill effect is for his deity to give him a supernatural swat, inflicting 2d4 Wind.
Also, the Miracle will not be available for use again until the Blessed takes the time to offer up a sacrifice to his deity and ritual prayers for forgiveness (an ordeal that takes an hour at the least).
This article should not by any means be considered educational on the matter of actual Egyptian mythology. It's fairly complex, and various sources on Egyptian myth contradict each other on many points, often mixing up or even blending the identities of various Egyptian gods. I have arbitrarily chosen to use this or that reference as "authentic" solely for the purpose of coming up with rules for a game, not as an educational reference. A Marshal who is going to run a game with an Egyptian Blessed in the group is strongly encouraged to actually do some reading up on Egyptian mythology ... or at the very least to make sure that she knows more about the topic than her player does!
Miracles Master List