Mystics are the mortal vessels of the teachings, wisdom, and power of their gods, the Lords of Light, in the gameworld. They are equivalent to the ascetics of the early Catholic Church, many reclusive hermits, each on a personal quest to attain a truly holy existence in the service of their deity (not necessarily the Church, as a social institution), some as wandering teachers. A romanticism of saintliness surrounds them very similar in nature to that of the cult of Chivalry among Knights. Mystics are happy to share their faith with new Seekers and preach the holy Word to all who will listen, to shame those who fall short of the goal and fire the hearts around them with faith, supporting others’ aspirations to heights of noble piety, even to ultimately follow in their own footsteps seeking union with the divine, should they have received such a calling. Proselytizing in this way is NOT their first concern, however. Their religious goals are most commonly personal rather than planned to bring brilliant achievements in the service of the Church’s religious policy.
The Mystic characters in RoM should NOT, by any stretch of the imagination, be confused with the priests, monks, friars, deacons, and other ordinary clergy of the medieval catholic church in the period of the game that made up approximately 1 in 50 of the total population. While Mystics in the game may be friars, monks, or priests, or monks and priests if the monastic vows allow ordination and investiture in the priesthood, they do not HAVE to be regular members of the hierarchy of the Church. In the same vein, being a member of the regular clergy is by NO means sufficient to make one a Mystic with the direct divine patronage detailed in this trade description.
Choosing for the Mystic to be an ordained priest of the prevailing religion actually puts the character in somewhat of a difficult position. In the context of the game, all organized, formal prevailing (widespread) religions in the game are political entities, also. They administer charitable institutions and services according to the requirements of the faith and the number of the faithful in need, but they are involved in raising money, collecting tithes and “first fruits” and death dues, to support those institutions and provide those in the Church hierarchy with their livings, in accordance with their social dignity, even challenging secular lords for worldly power. This is guaranteed to put the Mystic at odds with his masters of the Church at some point and, despite his divine patronage and holy Power, they are not going to hesitate to punish the Mystic if by his actions he embarrasses them or violates their policies, especially those regarding infidels and heathens, sending him off to some unpleasant and remote place, perhaps even under lock and key.
The same is true of Mystics under vows to a monastic rule other than their own, which is why those Mystics who wish to remain allied with the Church commonly establish their own orders, withdrawing to pursue their holy work, preserving both the strict rule of religion and peace with the Church in the process. Of course, the founding of such a house requires the permission of the Church, and the house so founded still falls under the rule of the Church, but generally these answer only directly to the high prelate running the entire Church, rather than part of the lesser hierarchy where pettiness in politics tend to be much more prevalent. Being concerned with only the greatest matters of statecraft and international relations, the high prelate of the Church is not likely to be concerned terribly often with the rule of a single religious house or the Mystic founder unless he hears tales of schism, heresy, or blasphemy he cannot ignore. Despite his calling and holy patronage, a Mystic ordained in the Church SERVES, he does not rule his Church, but serving Deity directly is likely to eventually put him in a difficult position. When the Church and his deity are at odds, as they sometimes are for whatever worldly reason or necessity, the Mystic must always follow the holy voice that speaks within him, guiding him.
IF the Mystic is a formal member of the Church, it is assumed he has already scribed the text of the holy tome of his religion for his own use. This tome will have about 300 pages and will weigh roughly 26.5 lbs., all materials paid for by the Church. This should be clad in plain wooden covers wrapped in simple deerskin and will contain none of the luxurious illustrations or colorful rubrication for which the books of the medieval period are renowned. If the character is an Artisan painter, he might have done the illuminations himself, but even in this event, it is unlikely that the book will have any of the fine gold or silver leaf letters or accents to the images so prized for altar books in cathedrals and the chapels of the wealthy, unless the character hails from a wealthy background and has good relations with the family enabling him to tap their resources for that work. The Mystic should always carry this book with him among his personal effects, especially when he travels, for inspirational reading and in order to properly observe his private devotions. It will also serve as a point of reference on doctrine and points of theology and philosophy in debate with infidels and those who have strayed into heresy.
Mystics may be broken down into two basic archetypes. The first is given to great passion in religion, prone to fiery speeches. This sort are given to very energetic actions, especially to kindle the faith of others to a roaring blaze. They are dedicated to promoting the purification of prevailing religious culture, reviving it when it begins to flag. Ignatius de Loyola, Francis Xavier, Charles Borromeo, Bernardo di Siena, John Capistrano, and Vincent Ferrer are all good examples of this archetype. These were all charismatic men and dramatic speakers. The player should keep this in mind when he is determining his Mystic character’s CHM score.
The second archetype is quiet and retiring, totally absorbed in a tranquil rapture with the divine. They are prone to habitually practice an extravagant humility – fasting, praying intently for hours on end, disdaining the pleasures of the flesh to the point of wearing the extremely uncomfortable hair shirt, even to periodic mortification of the flesh. Far more than their passionate, outspoken colleagues, the quieter archetype captures the popular imagination of the people far more. The common people are always more impressed with displays of the supernatural, by extremes in following the strictures of religion, even to the point of irrational excesses, and especially by miracles performed in achieving union with the divine. Francis of Pauca, Pierre of Luxembourg, and Aloysius Gonzaga are prime examples.
The player of the Mystic character should be sure to choose a basic archetype that suits his disposition. The passionate will be vocal reformers and proselytizers, while the quiet type will be just the opposite, far more inwardly focused. Both are likely to be ardent writers on theological subjects, and also prone to correspond with a great number of the faithful, who are likely to keep a steady stream of requests for advice coming.
The holy fervor of both archetypes is most often aimed at extremes of humility in the pursuit if asceticism, achieving ecstasy in union with the divine and manifesting miracles. It is turned inward, rather than outward. Mystics have no expectations that those around them follow their example and do as they do, but stand as guiding lights for those with the eyes to see and hopefully to inspire them to do. They are commonly willing to lend advice or an ear if others should come upon them having been called in taking up the Path of the Ascetics and the Mystics.
The Ascetic’s lifestyle is characterized by abstinence from various sorts of worldly pleasures, following an inner need to spend their lives in pursuit of the spiritual ideals of their faith, the quest for spiritual “perfection”. This is part of their vows of renouncement, which are embodied in the practices of exercising restraint with respect to actions of the body, mind, and speech. Mystics live extremely austere lifestyles, refraining from indulging in the pleasures of the Flesh and the accumulation of material wealth, recognizing that their spiritual and religious goals are impeded by such indulgences and distractions. They discipline themselves with the same dedication and focus as an athlete.
“Contemplation demands a severe culture of moral perfection as a preparatory condition.”
This is one of the reasons the attention of the Mystic is largely turned inward. That burden of contemplation cannot be shared. And what mere mortal going about his daily business could long endure that environment of intense personal scrutiny on a daily basis? To travel in the company of the Mystic whose energy is turned outward to inspire and lead those around him to spiritual perfection is like standing in the constant glare of the sun.
Mystics apply themselves with great energy and focus to cultivating the heavenly Virtues propounded by the Church. Virtue and Vice are key to the self-examination of the Mystic, as they are central in religious thought and doctrine in the period of the game. But these are not the only spiritual traits the Mystic seeks to cultivate, but also those that are expected of the clergy in orders. These are Humility, Moderation (Temperance), Dignity, Diligence, Piety, Charity, Chastity, Seriousness of Purpose and Urbanity. Urbane restraint, politeness and polished manners are an important aspect of the courtly standards of behavior promoted by the Church, one which discomfits many of the warring, rough-and-tumble nobles a great deal. These are the tools and markers, the pursuit of their cultivation providing signposts showing the Mystic what his next task must be. A Mystic is always looking around for tasks to which to apply himself that increase the Light in the world.
The line against errors and transgression into Vice and Darkness are sharply drawn by the Mystics. All concepts of morality are actually exaggerated when rendered by the Mystics because they are always rendered in the full context of the divine majesty to which they often Ascend and in which they are immersed when performing miraculous feats.
“In every [error], even the least, the [whole] universe is concerned.”
So the consciousness of the common man cannot even really encompass the true enormity of such errors and transgressions, and if they could the weight of it would crush their hearts. These lapses of judgment and character violate and offend the entire Golden Chain of Being, from The Light Itself down to the meanest stone on a country road.
“All the saints and the Just, the celestial spheres, the elements, the lower creatures, and inanimate objects, cry for vengeance on the [transgressor].”
Such curbing of what might otherwise be over-looked as natural desires, the temperance, the laboriousness practiced in Mystic circles which generates the aura of peace and well-being that surrounds them and draws the faithful near are all far too intense for many to suffer being continuously exposed to for long. While the Mystics often found religious houses, abbeys, monasteries and friaries built on holy vows and orders to help others to withdraw from the madness of the wider world and lead more spiritual or perfect lives, those who enter such houses and join those holy orders, who have vowed to withdraw from the wider material world to strive to live that ideal life, often find that they cannot live on a day-to-day basis with the holy Mystic founders of their orders. The spiritual vibration, the residual holy presence of their connection to the divine is just too much, too intense, all of the time for very many to bear, so only those with above average SPT and HRT scores generally can continue to reside in such a religious house.
The holy patronage is always with the Mystic, lying upon him like a mantle. To the common run of folk, living in a monastery with its Mystic founder is just too much like trying to live with the Light Itself looking over one’s shoulder. While infinitely dedicated to the beneficial principles of their faith, Mystics lack something of the individual character of common folk, something of their humanity is missing, having been absorbed or winnowed away by the divine. Looking into the eyes of a Mystic, one can both see and feel the nameless, almost alien “otherness” that one sees in the fathomless eyes of the beasts, which is their constant union and communion with the ‘godhead’, the Cosmic Spirit. The pressure felt by the common run of members of a religious order to rise and achieve the status of the Mystic founder when he is there among them is too great – not from the infinitely patient, forgiving and understanding Mystic, but from within the common inmates themselves. The common run of folk, though they be basically good people at heart, become far too aware of their short-comings when looked at under such a bright Light and all too easily yield to accidia and fall into despair. But it is the gentleness, the simplicity, the atmosphere of peace and quiet, pious fervor that draws the faithful to the Light reflected in the Mystic’s eyes.
Regardless of the archetype the Mystic falls into, he usually withdraws eventually from most social contact except when his activities require it of him, perhaps in the form of a yearly spiritual retreat. This may drive him to limit social contact when he sees the glare of the Light weighing upon those around him.
Because of these facts, ‘hermit’ is the most common worldly calling of the Mystic, as it stresses daily the need for humility. They can be found in isolated spots along the roads, by river and creek fords or bridges great or small, at places of sacred reputation, on cliffs by the sea, in mountain passes, and other remote places associated with travellers, or in isolated monasteries, or more specifically in hermitages, whether dwelling singly or in a community of those following the same path, or they may even be sequestered away in remote places devoid of outsiders as an aid to finding or maintaining a sense of the “stillness” within. In such locations they can give directions to travellers in need, aid in a river crossing, perhaps share his own humble shelter when there is a need, and sometimes a ready ear and sympathetic shoulder. Most holy since the most ancient of times, they are living examples of the life of renouncement, teaching virtue and piety by speech and in deed, fasting, being visited by visions and achieving ecstasy, being tempted and tested by the Darkness, some of their number being canonized after death as saints.
A common cave can serve well for a hermitage, even a little hollow carven from a rock cliff face or boulder. Gifts from ruling monarchs to hermits known to them in aid of their support are common enough. Henry Bolingbroke who later became Henry IV of England gave to one who dwelt at the seaside who met him on his landing at Ravenspur a number of gifts, including the right to any waif or wreck cast by the sea onto the strand for 2 leagues (6 miles) in either direction from his hermitage. Most English hermits did not fare so nobly nor achieve such recognition, most likely to be the case for most PC Mystics in that life.
Accompanying the true ascetics and Mystics sincere in their religion to the pursuit of the holy life, a strange breed of man grew up, under the habit of spiritual dignity cloaking a life that is much less than it is purported to be. These are parasites feeding off the edifices of the Church, which swell in numbers in times of famine, pestilence and war, multiplying in spite of strict Church rules and regulations. These evil men batten like moss onto the ancient stones of the churches and cathedrals, threatening with ruin the nobility of the holy men they ape. A patient hand with a vigilant eye is required to sort them out and pluck them away, one by one. Saints are not numerous enough to assay such work, however, although a saint is needed for it. Mystics do what they can to thin the numbers of such grotesque charlatans and poseurs where they find them.
To assure sincerity and guard against such evil men, the hermit’s life is hemmed around by the Church with interdictions and rigorous rules. To be a hermit a man must be resolved to lead an exemplary life of poverty and privation, and he must also bear testimonial letters from the ordinary – the hermit’s version of the bona fides of the craftsmen and the bishop’s letter carried by pilgrims. But this sort of imposturing is endemic and the Church rules on the matter are broken with reckless disregard. Inside his small dwelling, the not very devout Rogue-Trickster in hermit’s garb can lead a very quiet, easy life, when it could be so very hard elsewhere, and even more difficult in hard times. The charity of passersby is sufficient to live on, especially if the Rogue can beg, one of their main sources of income. No labor, no other obligations if he doesn’t choose to accept them (“Maintenance? What maintenance?”), and the bishop is generally far away, while the pub or alewife’s is close by, indeed. These are seldom if ever seen in church, but often at the high table of some noble looking to perform an act of charity on behalf of their soul, fooled by the ragged clothes the “beggar” wears.
Along with beggars, wandering laborers (without bona fides), and vagabonds of all kinds, these false hermits or false saints are to be imprisoned and await judgement when discovered. Only the “approved” hermits are to be left in peace, true men of religion, and any others who bear letters testimonial from the Church. The problem is far too widespread for the bishops’ attention to make much inroads against, their eyes fixed on higher goals by necessity of their rank. The offense is far beneath the dignity of those with whom they concern themselves most.
Most Mystics and religious ascetics do ceaseless penance on behalf of their fellow men. Little common cottages make common abodes for them, built with the aid of their own hands at the most heavily travelled stretches of the highways, or at the entrance to bridges. In these places they thrive on the charity of passers-by. A bridge with a chapel is already something of a holy site, the presence of a hermit, especially when he is also a Mystic, sanctifies it further. The hermit often acts as custodian of the bridge or building close by his cot, performing simple maintenance and grooming the greenery, and a farthing is commonly and willingly tossed his way by those passing by in return for his efforts.
There are a number of good examples of Mystics from the period of the game we can use to shed some light on their lives and achievements. Denis the Carthusian was a Mystic consulted by great numbers of noblemen, clerks, and burghers who came to see him in his cell at the monastery. He was constantly engaged in resolving doubts and difficulties for the faithful, and especially in settling questions of conscience.
Denys le Chartreux, however, is the most complete example of the religious enthusiast Mystic. He had a wide mental range and his energy was multi-faceted. An extremely active theological writer, he penned 45 quarto volumes summing up, concluding, reproducing, revising, correcting, subdividing, and illuminating his books, although he had no talent for original thought. He recited the Psalter every day, no less than half and often almost all. Denys followed a ferocious asceticism and experienced mystical spiritual transport often. He was in almost constant prayer, visited with constant visions and revelations, and constantly conversing with the spirits of the dead. Grace came upon him on all sorts of occasions, especially when he listened to music, and sometimes even in the midst of giving advice to noble company. On one occasion he visited the room of a dying woman that he perceived as being full of evil spirits, who descended upon him and knocked a walking stick out of his hand.
However, there are military saints, too, Mystics who offer armed combat to their enemies and are willing to shed blood and have theirs shed in return, such as Charles of Blois of the House of Valois (d. 1364). Despite his noble station and the demands it put on him, he led a saintly life. He married the heiress of Brittany and inherited a war of succession against Jean de Montfort who was in the English camp. Charles spent 9 years in captivity and waged war like the best of knights and captains of that time, fighting alongside such prominent men as Bertrand du Guesclin and Beaumanoir. His own father tried to moderate Charles’ avid love of reading and studying books, to no avail. Charles slept on straw on the floor near the conjugal bed where his wife lay. He confessed every night, convinced no man should go to sleep carrying the weight of his errors on his soul. At his death he was found to be wearing a hair shirt under his armor. Despite his holy life, he is supposed to have sired a bastard. He was beatified in 1371. The only reason he is not included in the description of the Sacred Knight, instead, is there is no mention made of his ever being a member of such an order.
Blessed Pierre of Luxembourg was a courtly ascetic, though of the second archetype rather than the first. He was a scion of the house of Luxembourg. Pierre was described as an “under-witted saint”, having “a narrow mind which can only live in a carefully isolated sphere of devotion”. He had a consumptive disposition. He lived as an ascetic even as a child, full of devotion. He carried a small book in his pocket to record his sins, and confessed every night at midnight, when he could raise a chaplain. The greater part of every day and night he passed in prayer, and was a great giver of alms. His devotion outgrew his strength and he neglected the body. He died at the young age of 18, a virgin, having been made Bishop of Metz at the age of 15 and a cardinal soon after.
It is common for this archetype among Mystics to do such things as mix ashes with their food as a daily exercise in Temperance, refusing to surrender to the pleasures of satisfying the animal needs. In the same vein, the Mystic might test his willpower in maintaining his chastity by sleeping beside a woman. As a child, St. Nicholas refused his mother’s milk on holy feast days. Mystics are living saints, sometimes also prophets to their people, rare and wonderful, truly blessed, regularly receiving the patronage and bounty of the god(s) they serve in the gameworld. They follow a true vocation, an inner calling. Without the series of summonses or visitations in dream, trance, vision, or the throes of religious ecstasy that herald their special lot in life, one will rarely become a Mystic.
Every Mystic character must have SPT, CHM and HRT scores of no less than 14. One cannot become such a holy man on a whim or out of simple desire. Though it may call to some, it may be embarked upon out of conscious choice by a few, but only with a great deal of dedication and perseverance. It is a long hard road, just as much as the Path of the Wizard, any of the Druids, or Witch.
In the talented but unskilled, the power of the gods (mana) can manifest in the material world as unpredictable flashes of precognition or sudden snatches of prophetic vision., or not (GM’s discretion). These are always taken by Mystics as holy visions visited by the gods, either as warnings against evil in their future or as promises of good fortune that they have earned. It can provide the opportunity to develop modest skills like crystal ball scrying, tarot card reading, or exceptional insights in astrological divination.
These abilities are commonly referred to as Spirit Skills, or Othersenses, and are common among Mystics, being very spiritual persons, in a similar manner to their common occurrence among those practicing the various Arts and trades of magick.
The Church is most likely to try to steer people having such gifts into the Church, and it is one of the Mystics duties to try to convince such folk to enter holy orders when they find them. Those with such apparent holy patronage (talent/gifts) must be convinced to exercise their gods-given talent on behalf of the Light that gave it to them before they can be steered into other arts by the Wizards and other similar “irreligious” folk. It is very common for Mystics to arise from among those so talented.
Although maintaining a poor lifestyle, Mystics are by nature commonly well-schooled. Most read the works of the fathers of the Church of the Light avidly to give them suitable subjects for their contemplations. Those who wish it may have the Literatus and Linguist skills as Trade Skills in both the (native) Vulgar Tongue and the Scholar’s Tongue, rather than having them count towards the character’s quota of Petty Skills, if the character has no other award or the player does not care for any of the other avenues by which the character may have them.
While out in the world attending to their various concerns, the Mystic characters’ Credo is to aid those in need and to do no harm.
All the great Mystics praise humble labor and charity.
The Mystic is provided with the opportunity to learn one of the healer Trades (any) as a Secondary trade. If not this, there are a myriad ways in which the Mystic can humbly keep himself busy about providing for his needs and those of his fellow man, engaging in the Opus Luminaris, the Work of the Light as a Husbandman, Farmer/Gardener, or Craftsman of some sort, instead. The humble work of peasants as Husbandman or Farmer is by far the more common of those three, which is why there is a marked preference for the Herbal Trade as the chosen Opus Luminaris among those who practice the trades of Healer.
Mystics in the Church represent a strange and unsettling anomaly in the view of the leadership hierarchy of the Church at large. The Church exists to minister to the faithful, by dogma insisting that a priest must intercede between a man and the Light. How can the Church, which is basically a worldly institution, rule a man who has the direct patronage of Deity? The ministry of the Church becomes largely unnecessary in spiritual matters when one can seek out divine guidance or intervention directly. That is the basis for the Church’s power, its monopoly on spiritual doctrine and ministry. Oftentimes the Church may try to hide or bury such a character in a remote location and try to hide his talent and patronage from the public.
While the Church with its vast resources serves a vital function for the needs of the masses of society, the poor and the disenfranchised, the number of PC-type Mystics is relatively small, less than a handful in any given country. The numbers of Wizards, Druids and Witches are far greater when their numbers combined are considered. Regardless of their direct divine patronage, for the Mystics to take on the ministry of the masses would be a ludicrous disaster. The crowds would bury them. Thus, the Church can also serve as a buffer between the people and the Mystics.
The relationship between the Church and the Mystics is always one of uneasy tolerance. The dangers of unschooled, unrestrained Ecstasy such as the Mystics achieve being brought into the streets, is that, if allowed to go on unchecked and undisciplined, it leads to insanity. The capacity to return to the reality of the mortal world is lost. Another name for the insane in the period of the game is “goddes prisoners”.
Nonetheless, the Church knows all too well that in the all encompassing flames of contemplative rapture, when Ascended in Grace, all of its teachings, its concepts, formulæ, doctrine and dogma must be consumed and swept away by the overriding Power and fiery Presence of the Divine. So the Church looks on with a weather eye, knowing that each Mystic’s Path is solitary in nature. It must be. The Church is content in the knowledge that each Ascension is relatively brief. Someone must care for the Mystic while he is unable, and the Mystic must needs at some point “return from the mountain top”, so to speak, if he is to continue to live in the mortal world. There is always a certain economy in the movements and powers exercised by the Mystics. The Church is well aware that the benefit to the faith and the followers of the Light far outweighs the individual Mystic compromising the doctrine. There just aren’t that many of them for it to become an issue of any real magnitude. Of those who choose to follow in their asceticism and imitate their ways, only a handful at a time will ever achieve the heights of the Mystic’s miraculous power.
In addition to the archetypes, there are two main factions among the Mystics, one representing the Light and the other representing the Darkness. Mystics of the Orders of the Light, Mystics of the White Orders, or White Mystics, strive to promote the Virtues and live by them in their day-to-day lives as much as is humanly possible, to be merciful, charitable, and offer haven and sanctuary to the unfortunate and downtrodden, to look to the welfare of those about them, as well as the world at large, reflecting the concerns of their deities, the Lords of Light.
Mystics of the Darkness or of the Orders of the Darkness, Mystics of the Black Orders, or Dark Mystics, do whatever they can to increase the presence of the Vices in the world, to commit whatever cruelties they think they can get away with, taking advantage of the misguided, dupe the unsuspecting, entice the weak from little Vice to greater Vice, sowing dissent and mischief among the disadvantaged and down-trodden, fostering anger and resentment, to improve their own position and flatter their own myriad, swollen vanities. They know well that the Dark can only thrive where the Light is weak, its agents locked in chaos, or absent altogether.
There is a subtle but distinct difference between those in the Shadow of Vice and those who Walk in Darkness. The Shadow can be flirted with throughout one’s lifetime, and many do. The practice is generally subconscious, though some make it a conscious game. The Shadow can be shed at anytime by confession and/or acts of contrition, penance and Virtue, but true intent is the key, and what mortal can accurately judge the state of his own soul? Last Rites are thus considered a necessity for most folks on their deathbeds.
Walking in Darkness is another matter entirely. It is a conscious submission and dedication to the Darkness, a declaration of war on the Light. Where the Light merely shines and IS and brings comfort and warmth to all It touches with It’s glory, the Darkness can only be where It is not, and so must seek to occlude and eclipse the Light, in the end to destroy it. For, as long as even a spark of Light remains, the rest is really only Shadow, no matter how Dark. To be redeemed from the Darkness and return to the Light requires the same conscious act of will it took to turn away in the first place. It cannot be commanded or coerced.
The reader should understand that the factions of the Light and the Darkness are NOT the only ones. EVERY deity can have Mystics in its service, whether classed as Light or Dark, BUT also the old Green Lords worshipped by the ancient pagans, followed by the Druid trades, Witches and that ilk. If the Mystic character dwells in a highly pantheistic world, the player’s choice of an actual patron deity and religious order is very important to the character persona. The player must check with the GM on the natures of the deities of the game world and iron out these details before the character is played. Getting more information on not only the characteristics of the religions but the nature of the religious practices makes the choice between the specific deities and religions easier.
While the faction of Dark Mystics are indeed in the description here, the reader should understand they are presented as the nemeses of the White Mystics, rivals of the Mystics of the Green Lords, They are foes to be ferreted out and pursued, not provided for use as PC’s. Due to the fact that the name of the game in roleplaying is cooperation, using a Dark Mystic as a member of any PC party is difficult at best, if not downright destructive to the purposes of the game.
Most Mystics live outside the confines of the formal structure and hierarchy of the Church and its institutions, quietly remaining simple members of the flock of the faithful. For them, however, public life can be equally as difficult as previously described for those within the Church, they merely avoid having to bend their knee to the Church’s authority over their personal lives and liberty. It is common for the Church to keep a constant watch on any Mystic coming to their attention who is not under their rule, to watch for the growth of heresy and sedition around them, or worse yet, schism. What need of the Church for those around them if they have a living avatar in the form of a Mystic to tend to their spiritual needs? If he exercises the divine Power does that not make him divine as well? If any Mystic were to allow even a breath of such heresy to grow up around him, especially in a body of the faithful determined to follow him, intent on listening to his words so to catch any pearls of wisdom let fall, or in the wake of his travels, the Church would immediately discharge the Holy Office to address the heretics and charge the secular authorities with their responsibility to support the Church and help to bring those wayward sheep back into the fold, likely imprisoning the Mystic and putting him on trial. Should they not hear what they wish to on bringing him to trial, it would not be out of the question for them to martyr him.
Practically every free moment of a Mystic’s life is spent in prayer, contemplation and meditation on matters holy. The Mystic dedicates himself to an austere and holy life, and has done so for a sufficient length of time and with such fervor that the Light has marked him. He passes in and out of a state of Grace, walking constantly in the residual power of the Light from that bond, so that it is reflected through him, shining in his face and especially his eyes. The Light and the Heavens KNOW his name. His faith is a wellspring of power constantly renewed from above, and that is part of the source of the miraculous powers exhibited by Mystic characters. These powers vary in form or expression from the rather limited Feats to the Prayers and Rites by which the Mystic Ascends to gather and channel the power of Heaven Itself on behalf of the followers of the faith, or to resist the inroads of the constituents of the Darkness and its insidious Shadows.
In the context of the game, Mystic characters are living saints, prophets to their people, rare and wondrous, truly blessed, regularly receiving the patronage and bounty of the Light they serve. To be in the vicinity of a Mystic as he invokes a miracle is an experience of a lifetime for members of his religion, to be standing in the reflected glow of Eternal Glory. To receive the power of a miracle is to be cradled in the infinitely tender hand of the gods, a tearfully heart-touching confirmation of faith beyond all possible description, written or otherwise. Miracles are the epitome of the medieval religious ideal, what the people live their lives for with no real expectation of fulfillment, but hope beyond hope to have revealed to them. The hearts a Mystic can fill in the medieval milieu of the game is one of the reasons for the fact that roughly 1 in 50 of the overall population will be members of the clergy, either laymen or of orders. The player must remember their power to inspire and their responsibility to stand as a constant example. This is key to roleplaying a Mystic character successfully.
The player must also understand that the Church will not necessarily acknowledge, at least not publicly, any Mystic’s miraculous power or gifts. Formal acknowledgement of saintly stays and elevation to the ranks of the divinely blessed and gifted is called beatification, which can be followed by canonization, or formal elevation to and acknowledgement of sainthood. These special states of grace are reserved by the Church for after the death of a holy person, and have nothing whatsoever to do with the deeds one performed in life, no matter how miraculous, though an austere and holy life full of good works is requisite for consideration. The prime requirement for canonization is the performance of three miracles after one’s death, verifiable by those agents appointed by the Church. Once the Mystic has ascended to the Light and forsaken the flesh, the Church can deal with him again, or atleast tell the faithful the Mystic has left behind how to deal with him. Any writings the Mystic penned in life will be swiftly gathered and either incorporated into the accepted works of the faith, or suppressed, as the Church deems necessary, to keep the religion from fracturing.
Through the Mystics, the Lords of Light manifest Their Will in the mortal world, channeling Their power through Their Mystics in the form of miracles, not merely as the Mystics rise to present their needs to Them, but even where and as They see the need. Indeed, in addition to having the capacity of seeking to Ascend at his own need to tap the power of his deity, the Mystic character may well find himself lifted up to Spirit and being flooded by power from within from time to time without having asked for it, literally being spontaneously lifted up to Ecstasy and moved by the Divine spirit to execute some Work within the immediate vicinity (within a mile), most likely for the benefit some faithful and deserving soul(s) or to hinder the Darkness in some way.
In these cases, the duration of the state of Grace foisted off on the Mystic lasts only long enough for the bidding of the Light to be performed, the miracle(s) channeled and delivered. The Mystic requires the normal amount of time to regain his senses and full control of his body again afterwards, however, as described previously.
Resisting an attempt by the deity to ride and rule him in such a way, if the player so desires, requires a successful HRT check on d100.
The DV for resisting being used by the godhead in this manner is equal to the Mystic’s own TR, plus the number of times he has Ascended in the past 7 days, in a Progressive manner, for every time Ascended.
If successful, the Mystic’s own HRT score is added to the DV for the SPT check when next he seeks to Ascend. This penalty is cumulative for every time the Mystic puts his deity off between attempts to Ascend and seek divine aid. This HRT check costs the Mystic (TR) points of END whether successful or not.
When dealing with a miracle whose power must be delivered by touch, the Mystic may receive the power with the instruction to touch or smite his enemy with it, or to bestow it in the form of a Blessing (Benediction). On the other hand, specific instructions concerning how a miracle’s power is to be bestowed or discharged should likely also be given, perhaps to “touch thine enemy upon his brow”, “give the faithful the Kiss of Peace”, or perhaps to strike a specific rock at a particular location a certain number of times, as was Moses in the desert, and so on. The Mystic may also be instructed by the Light NOT to bestow his miraculous power upon a particular person who has shown himself to be ungrateful in the past for such dispensation, or simply disrespectful of the Light and/or has shown by not only his words but his actions that he is irreligious by nature.
The working of miracles for the Light under these circumstances must remain as subtle, mysterious and unpredictable as the player’s GM can make it. The nature of the miraculous Power being dispensed is not likely to be revealed to the Mystic, he is simply expected to comply with the directives of the Light, and the effects or dweomer and the manner applied aren’t likely to reveal the nature of the Power or its function. Further, the one(s) intended to be aided or hindered by the miraculous manifestation will most likely be complete and total strangers to the Mystic, and likely to remain so. The Mystic is prudent who does not question, at the time or even afterwards, the nature of the services he is commanded to perform. Had such information been needful to the Mystic, it would have been revealed to him, and indeed the GM will brief the Mystic as there arises a need, otherwise such information is none of his business, and to go seeking it could get the Mystic in trouble with his holy patrons, the Lords of Light.
The Mystic must merely obey these injunctions against those who stray in error, willful and otherwise, and the heathen and infidel. The character need not have witnessed the other’s disaffection to the religion himself, the Light sees the deeds of all who profess the faith, and the company they keep, and see the hearts of all regardless of faith, as well. If the player uses the Mystic’s ability to read the state of Virtue and Vice, it is not difficult to guess when the Mystic is going to be forbidden to aid a party member who has allowed his Vice score(s) to outweigh his Virtue(s).
The Mystic is likely to be punished, and immediately, for not carrying out any instructions accompanying the power created for his use by his deity, and for failing to invoke that power constructively and in accordance with the principles of the deity and His religion. Moses was denied the Promised Land simply for striking that rock in the desert three times to bring forth water when told to strike it only once.
All of this divine, social and religious responsibility may seem a burden in roleplaying a Mystic, but none of it is so onerous it cannot be worked with. Every trade that wields Power has a similar burden to bear.
The relationship between Mystics and those engaged in other trades that wield magickal power (the Druid trades, Witches and Wizards) in the game may be a bit touchy and difficult for all involved, depending on the point of view they adopt. Some orders within the Church, and a few Mystics along with them, would prefer that all other-worldly Power be left to the gods to dole out, for them to direct its use among the faithful when they are ready to receive it, or when the gods send it to them to use as directed, while the greater majority of the pious, Mystics included, are neither so insecure nor so greedy as to think they actually have the right to rule others so, much less the mandate of the gods to back them up.
Some Mystics cite the effects of iron and steel upon the magicks that stem from the Olde Ways (Druids, Witches, etc.) as evidence of the superiority of holy miracles and the power of the gods, in general, and the lack of such an effect on the magicks of Wizards as at least partial evidence of some infernal protective alliance with the Darkness, regardless of the fact that many Wizards are pious and religious men. Some Mystics and factions in the Church treat Witches, Wizards and all that ilk as simply wayward children who cannot see the error of the Path they tread, some treat them as wicked, willful children. Others rant and rave about godless heathens who defile the very ground they walk upon, accusing the magickal community following any but their own Path of Power of being amoral, demon-loving wretches who have wrested the threads of Destiny out of the hands of the gods to whom they rightfully belong. Another, more patient, gentle and retiring faction simply sighs and offers up their prayers, recalling that ALL Paths of Power lead back to the gods from whom all Power and Wisdom flow, commending them all to the Virtues in the hopes that all will find their way back to the proper deities. These gratefully offer thanks for those who follow other Paths of Power who remain pious church-goers despite their professions and the attitudes of some of the other members of the congregations. The rest of the common folk and the Mystics fall somewhere in-between these.
The player will have to decide for himself, and make sure his GM knows where his character stands, so the GM can ensure the character ends up among like-minded members of the Church and doesn’t have to fight with his own brothers in religion over his views.
Most Mystics can see that there are many roads to spiritual reward, and understand that the one they tread is NOT the only valid one.
Under the Mantle of Light
The Mystic’s ascetic lifestyle brings about greater freedom from compulsions and temptations than is otherwise considered a normal part of the Flesh. They know the raw nature of the Beast that dwells in the Flesh can be overcome, and that doing so brings greater peace of mind, providing an increase in the clarity and power of thought and the ability and fruitfulness of self-examination. Through their long years of discipline they have ingrained a habit of restraint in body and soul.
The Mystic receives a (TR) bonus, for Magi (1 per 2 TR’s), to be applied in making HRT checks to resist the temptations of the world any time he is faced with Vice, as a benefit of his trade training. This reflects his growth in determination and dedication to the ways of his religion, the shift in the character towards a more spiritual existence as he rises in grace in the view of the Light.
As the Mystic follows the Path of the Light, his faith and standing rise, and his ability to wield power grows. The Mystic’s many years of devotion and dedicated pursuit of a more perfect and humble life, a righteous existence, brings him the constant blessing of the Light. He is always hand-in-hand with the Light by his Covenant with it, even if only subconsciously, and this leaves within him a constant trickle of the Power.
When the character uses the power that resides within himself, without using a prayer or rite to actually Ascend, he is performing a Feat. In using a prayer or rite to seek communion and perform works of greater POT, it is called an Intervention. Both are considered miraculous in nature.
Being in constant contact with the Light, there is always a subtle play of light or ætheric fire about his head, in a pale corona visible only to those with Spirit Sight, especially those trained in the magickal Arts, a visible manifestation of the Power of the Light that dwells within him. This is in evidence even when the Spirit does not lay directly on the Mystic while Ascended. When Ascended, the corona is visible to all who are looking on, mundane and magickal folk alike. The greater the Mystic’s TR, the more like a pillar of fire it appears burning above his head.
The Mystic’s constant connection to the Light grants him a (TR) bonus to his M-RES score to reflect the spiritual protection his calling provides.
Like the true practitioners of magick, the Mystic’s full M-RES score (including trade bonus) is innate, even against magicks of which the Mystic is unaware that by their nature are allowed to be resisted.
The most common application of the divine Power resident in the Mystic is for the Laying on of Hands upon one of the faithful, whether it be family member, trusted compatriot or a complete but worthy stranger, and taking a moment to share a prayer with him, invoking and bestowing his blessing.
This provides a bonus to any of the subject’s AV’s for whatsoever task he may assay, this starts at one (1) at the end of the first CS and builds by one (1) at the end of every CS he continues to pray with the faithful, to a limit of (SPT att. mod.) or (TR), whichever is greater.
How long this Blessing lasts depends on the nature of the segment of the story in which it is employed (GM’s discretion).
It may last until the next single task attempted is accomplished, if it was invoked to get some truly pivotal task accomplished, or for the duration of a single battle (to be joined soon after), especially when the Mystic and his cohorts are about to face the Unrighteous in some manner.
The Mystic’s touch and blessing in Laying on of Hands may also be used instead to comfort and calm beasts and beings in an agitated state, removing terror, hysteria, soothing grief or anxiety, alleviating loneliness or sadness (Accidia) especially if of a degree that the sufferer intends himself harm or becomes careless of his own safety.
IF the heightened emotional state is of a magickal cause, the Laying on of Hands can actually act as a Dispelling, with an AV equal to the Mystic’s [(HRT att. mod.) + (SPT att. mod.) + (TR)], requiring a d100 check vs. the afflicting magick.
A Mystic is granted an [(AWA att. mod.) + (SPT att. mod.) + (TR)] check on d100 vs. the CHM of those speaking in order to hear the clear ringing of Virtue in the Truth when it is spoken in his presence, or the chuckling twist of the Darkness’ delight in Vice when any falsehood is uttered, so that he may recognize truth and lies when encountered.
IF the Mystic has cultivated the Savvy skill, that SL is added to his AV for this check.
The residual Power of the Light provides the Mystic with a sensitivity to the vibrations of Spirit such that he is provided with an AWA/Perception check on d100 to discern the approximate degree by which any person within sight on whom he concentrates his gaze leans towards Virtue or Vice (Shadow), and discover those who Walk in Darkness. The Mystic’s TR is added to the AV for these checks.
IF the Mystic reaches out and physically touches a subject, no d100 check is needed, in the same manner as a Wizard touching a magick, he simply KNOWs those who lean towards Virtue or Vice (Shadow), what their Virtues and Vices of choice are, and those who stand in Shadow or Darkness. In so doing, the Mystic’s own Light is automatically revealed to any sworn faithful to the Darkness.
The base DV for the AWA check is Progressive based on the number of yards of the distance at which the person concentrated on is located (minimum 1). The subject’s CHM and HRT att. mod’s are added to this, as well, plus a bonus based on his Game Face and/or Player skill, as applicable.
Once Ascended, the Mystic is automatically granted knowledge of the balance of Virtue and Vice in every being he lays eyes on, and the knowledge of truth and lies in all he hears (as previously described), without need of any d100 check for success.
Note, SOME truths are simple, others are not, and the same for lies. Most people shade the truth, changing only small details, sometimes out of habit rather than malice, so many people’s words fall somewhere between truth and falsehood. When this happens the Mystic cannot know what parts of truth and which are lies, only further questioning may reveal the truth. Intent is everything, as well. If a character is fed dis-information, his repeating it doesn’t create the impression of a lie because he believes it to be the truth, he does not know any better.
Being so much a vessel of holy Light in the world, Mystics are granted power over the various restless and wandering spirits that can abound in the world, primarily un-dead (mean-spirited ghosts, skeletons, ghouls, wights, wraiths, vampires, liches, etc.). The Mystic is also granted dominion over creatures and beings from other Spheres of existence, lawful spirits and servants of the Light, evil spirits and creatures of the Darkness, extending as well to the ancient wild spirits of the elements and creatures and beings of Faerie subject to the power of the Druid trades and Witches.
The Mystic’s Power over spirit creatures and un-dead takes the form of the following commands: Banish, Command, and Dispel.
If successful, the Mystic causes the target creature or being to flee, speeding away at its maximum movement rate for (Mystic’s HRT + TR) minutes without ceasing. When the time expires and the creature or being stops its flight, the distance between it and the Mystic who Banished it marks the radius of a circle centered on the Mystic into which that creature or being cannot trespass again for (Mystic’s HRT + TR) hours.
If successful, the Mystic may command one service of the target creature or being. The creature or being so Commanded must remain under the Mystic’s Power for up to (Mystic’s HRT + TR) hours, or until the service commanded has been rendered, whichever expires first. Demands for information are the most common and universally useful regardless of the nature of the creature or being subjected to the Mystic’s Power. The player should be conscious of possible effects on Virtue or Vice on his Mystic in using this Power.
If successful, this Power completely destroys the physical manifestation of the wicked or troublesome creature or being targeted, returning its spirit or essence back to the Sphere of Spirit whence it came.
Creatures and/or beings so Dispelled are barred from interfering in any way in the Mortal Sphere, unable to even TRY to return, for (Mystic’s HRT att. mod.) or (TR) years, whichever is greater. If a creature or being Dispelled by a Mystic is called back by some agent or ally in the Mortal Sphere, the Mystic’s (TR + HRT att. mod.) will be added to his DV to cross the Vale and manifest physically again.
IF the Mystic can track down such a creature or being’s physical link with the mortal world, such as the remains of its former body, sanctify and lay them to rest again in hallowed ground, the DV for its return is increased by the POT with which the ground was sanctified.
This power is the most commonly exercised in the Mystic’s crusade against the unlawful dead and un-dead. The Mystic must be careful of lawful spirits though, who may be trying to get the Mystic to redress some grievance.
The Mystic’s att. mod. for the use of any and all of these Powers are based upon his CHM and HRT scores.
The DV for any and all of these abilities are equal to the POT of the creature or spirit the Mystic is facing. If he is trying to affect more than one at the same time, the highest POT among them should be used as the base, plus the number of others.
IF they also have a material component to their manifestation, the effective STA of it must be added, as well.
These powers can be exercised with the speed of a cantrip, with no Action cost.
The powers above are tools for battling or dealing with the unlawful dead and un-dead, but the Mystic must be very careful how he uses them, as those creatures are anathema and Dispelling should be the first response. Banishing is for ill-behaved and wicked spirits, but the Mystic might seek to Command information from his foe before Dispelling him and sending him back to Spirit where he belongs. While also subject to his Power, lawful spirits must be treated justly, for the very fact that they returned to the mortal world in a lawful manner indicates that they have unfinished business and a right to attend to it, or seek help in so doing.
The DV’s for Commanding and Dispelling are higher than those for Banishment, and Dispelling DV’s higher than Command DV’s. This may affect his decision to use these powers when he suspects he is facing a particularly powerful foe. In addition, the DV’s for Dispelling un-dead and spirit creatures who have physical bodies or physical components to their manifestations will be higher than simple spirits, as they have a physical link to the mortal world, usually some artifact of its previous existence, or a person who dwells upon their loss and lends them the strength to bridge the gap to the mortal world.
To Mystics, who are wholly in tune with the wholesome power of Light and Life (moreso Life for those who follow the Olde Ways), the un-dead are viewed as fetid corruptions of the loving essence of Spirit. Such creatures embody the antithesis of their philosophy and thus are their sworn foes, especially those whose bodies are physical/material (skeletons, ghouls, wights, vampires, liches, etc.). Un-dead live on anti-life and hunger only to consume the heat and fires of life about them.
Whenever any Un-dead and/or other spirits or supernatural creatures or beings of Darkness or dwelling in Shadow approach within [(SPT) + (HRT att. mod.) + (TR)] yards, the Mystic breaks forth in a glorious Holy Aura, revealing their presence for all to see.
This wreath of luminous, silvery-blue spiritfire shines forth to prevent these spirits or creatures from approaching closer than (Mystic’s HRT + TR) feet. This distance is reduced by one foot for every point by which the Un-dead or spirit creature or being’s [(HRT) + (POT)] is greater than the Mystic’s [(HRT) + (SPT att. mod.) + (TR)].
IF this allows the creature to come close enough, it may be able to attack with a weapon.
IF this is sufficient to reduce the distance to 0 or less, the last foot is broken down by inches, requiring 12 points to take the last foot down to zero, before the beast is actually able to lay hands on the Mystic.
Creatures of Darkness coming into contact with the Aura’s fires are required to make a successful HRT check vs. the Mystic’s (SPT att. mod.) + (HRT) + (TR) or flee.
Failed, the creature must speed away at it’s maximum movement rate for (Mystic’s HRT + TR) minutes without ceasing, as if it had been Banished (as above).
When facing the physical un-dead, no quarter may be given. They are the ultimate perversion and abomination, to be investigated, pursued and wiped from the face of the earth where and whenever possible. Un-dead spirits (unlawful ghosts, wraiths, etc.), not including lawful hauntings, are similarly horrible to Mystics, but lack the physical corruption and may be parleyed with, their destruction postponed, if other business demands, but destroyed they all must be in the end, indeed their destruction will often require certain conditions be met, which will require time for the Mystic to discover.
Upon achieving Ascension (as discussed in “Magick in Play”), the Mystic breaks out in a similar luminous Holy Aura (assuming it has not already manifested due to the presence of some foe dedicated to the Darkness), shining with the Glory of the Light for all to see.
The Holy Aura manifest while he is Ascended provides a continuous benefit to all on-lookers and compatriots of the faith located within [(SPT att. mod.) + (HRT) + (TR)] yards, as if he had prayed with them and laid his hands upon them and blessed them (as previously described), plus a bonus equal to their own SPT att. mod’s, to aid them in whatsoever actions they may undertake while his Holy Aura shines upon them.
Negative attribute modifiers do NOT apply in this case, the power can only benefit recipient’s, regardless of their faith or lack of it.
The Mystic’s bond to the Light and Its uplifting Power also provides another benefit.
Over time, as the Mystic channels the life-affirming Power of the divine Light, he becomes so steeped in it that his own life-energies are gradually augmented and preserved, slowing the aging process. The GM determines the degree to which the character’s lifespan will be enhanced, according to the Sphere of Power of the mysteries into which the character has been introduced.
The Mystic ages only one (1) year for every [1 + (1 per 4 TR’s)] years that pass, to a maximum of one (1) year per (SPT ÷ 4) years that pass as long as he is initiated only into Common Sphere mysteries.
On initiation into the Noble Sphere mysteries, this slows to one (1) year for every [(SPT ÷ 4) + (TR)] years, to a maximum of one (1) year for every (SPT ÷ 2) years that pass.
On attaining the Sovereign Sphere mysteries, the Mystic only ages one (1) year for every [(SPT ÷ 2) + (TR)] years, to a maximum of one (1) year for every (SPT) years that pass, thenceforward.
Of course, this makes little or no difference to those of the longer-lived races, especially those of elfin blood. For others it is a little bit of insurance against any charms that age the body unnaturally. In the face of such a charm that carries great POT, it at least provides some defense to blunt the effects.
This life-affirming aspect of the Mystic’s Power also grants him a bonus of (TR) to his P-RES score. This is limited, however, and applies specifically to the purposes of resisting illness, healing wounds, and recovering from sickness, only, whether inflicted by mundane or magick means.
The Pious Life of a Mystic
In order for the Mystic to maintain his holy disposition and his link to the divine, he is required to perform a number of hours of obeisance and personal devotions in addition to regular religious observances equal to [(50 + TR) – (SPT)]. The character may take up to (SPT att. mod.) or (TR) days to complete his devotions (whichever is greater) and, once done, he will be free of the need for (SPT x 2) days.
For example, the TR 16 Mystic of Halikhala, Illondra Jondir (SPT 16) is required to perform 50 hours of private devotions (50 + TR16 = 66; 66 – SPT 16 = 50 hours). She has 16 days to do so (TR16), taking just over 3 hours a day for those 16 days if she wants to spread them out evenly, and then she is free except for normal religious observances for 32 days (SPT16 x 2 = 32).
lf the player decides to have his character perform regular devotions during the times when not required, each full hour completed will be subtracted from his required time when it comes time to perform these private devotions again.
For example, if Illondra also takes an hour every evening before she turns in for bed for private devotions over the course of those 32 days she can cut her required devotions down to 18 hours (50 – 32 days @ 1 hour a day = 18).
For every 4 days that the Mystic neglects his required devotions, the DV’s for achieving Grace and channeling the miraculous power of his deity rises by one (1). The Mystic is required to perform penance in the form of additional devotions and abstinence from calling for aid from his deity in order to eliminate this penalty (GM’s discretion).
The private devotions required of the Mystic do not exempt him from the normal homage paid by the rest of the congregations at the regular services, for which once every 4 days is standard of the period of the game. The “special” devotions outlined above are really only the bare minimum required for the character to maintain his holy station as his deity’s agent. In addition to the time he must spend on private devotions, the Mystic will be responsible for observing all holy days and especially all high holidays (saints’ feasts) of his religion, all holy forms, and any special restrictions on actions or activities, whether permanently forbidden or by season. These can be all inclusive (“Thou shalt not kill”, “Thou shalt not bear false witness”, “Do no harm”), or may be by the day of the week (no eating blood meats on Fridays, no working on Sunday), or by the season of the religious calendar (sacrifices of the Lenten season, gift-giving during the Christmas season), and so on, Indeed, in many instances the Mystic may find himself acting as chaplain for his adventuring party, performing services for them when they are in the wilderlands out of reach of a temple.
During the course of play it is very likely the Mystic may assay some task or face foes in battle on behalf of those who cannot do so themselves. In these instances the Mystic may gather the pious and exhort them to devote their prayers to the protection and support of their benefactors. The Mystic may then gather that power and direct it to the aid of those in need to provide the edge to carry the day, or carry it himself to enter into battle so he may attend them in person, as well.
With a group of the faithful behind him lending their fervent prayers for his success, be they common folk bent in prayer or monks or priests or other ecclesiastics in some monastery chapel or cathedral, the Mystic may send the power of those loving thoughts and prayers or carry that power himself and let it shine upon all those of his faction.
This adds a bonus of +1 for every 4 of the faithful praying on his behalf to be added to the AV’s for all trade benefits, abilities, or skills, even the POT of any magicks cast (though this does NOT affect the DV for the casting), of those to whom the Mystic directs the Power, or to whom he carries it.
IF the Mystic should Ascend, the effects (POT) of his Holy Aura are supplemented by the power of the prayers of the faithful in the same manner.
This bonus from the power of prayer endures for so long as the faithful remain at prayer on the Mystic’s behalf.
IF the Mystic remains among the faithful to lead their prayers, the bonus is equal to his TR, instead, +1 for each of the faithful also praying on his behalf. In the case of multiple Mystics so lending their devotions, their TR’s are all combined.
IF the Mystic faces some great task and has sufficient time to prepare for the event or task at hand, he has the option of undergoing a Fast and/or Vigil or even a full Spiritual Retreat for the purposes of purification & rededication. These processes enhance his focus and heighten his abilities and skills temporarily.
Fasting is an example of purification through abstinence. Abstinence from all contact with any substance associated with a Vice (in the case of fasting, Gluttony) can provide the same benefit – a temporary vow of poverty, forsaking any contact with coin or other forms of wealth including the comforts of rich clothing and furs, for example, or a vow forsaking all pleasures of the flesh, especially carnal (though not limited to), would do the same. The Mystic might mix ashes with his food to show Temperance, taking no joy in the pleasures of feeding the animal needs of the body, or in a similar vein, show his chasteness by sleeping beside a woman with a sword lying between them, forsaking her charms. As a child, St. Nicholas refused his mother’s milk on holy feast days.
Abstinence provides the Mystic with a bonus of +1 at the end of every full 24 hours completed, up to a maximum of (SPT att. mod. or TR, whichever is greater) to ALL AV’s (regardless of the nature of the activity) and the effective power (POT) of all trade benefits, abilities, or skills.
The benefit endures for (SPT ÷ 4) days after the abstinence is concluded, then declines at the same rate it accrued as soon as the practice is abandoned.
IF Fasting, the Mystic must take care. He is only allowed up to (CND ÷ 4) days before physical penalties begin to be assessed. This may put a crimp in his other, less spiritual activities. Fasting to achieve this benefit may only be undergone no more often than once every three months.
A Vigil includes similar privation but in many ways at once, fasting and forsaking physical comfort, chastity, combined with prayerful contemplation and meditation in solitude, in a chapel or other holy place IF one is available, in an isolated personal space if a dedicated holy place cannot be found. A vigil is usually performed from dusk til dawn, or from dawn to dawn.
Over the course of a vigil, from dusk til dawn, or from dawn to dawn, the Mystic gains a bonus of (SPT att. mod. or TR, whichever is greater) to all AV’s (regardless of the nature of the activity) and the effective power (POT) of all trade benefits, abilities, or skills. This should be prorated by the hour in case the vigil is interrupted.
The benefit endures until the sun sets on the (SPT) or (TR) day following its conclusion (whichever is less). At that sunset, the bonus declines at the same rate it accrued.
A Spiritual Retreat provides the character with the opportunity to engage in devotions and contemplation in a secluded setting, where abstinence and privation may be practiced either periodically as described above, or in moderation continuously at a level that can be sustained for a longer period.
This process reduces the character’s Vice scores, and for those accompanying him also, up to (TR) in number, and allow the character to improve the scores for his Virtues, but also provides the same benefits as purification by abstinence (Fasting, etc.).
For every full week spent in retreat, any and all Vice scores are reduced by 1 point across the board, to a maximum of one full season, or three months (three full lunar cycles). The benefits of purification by abstinence undergone during the retreat begin to accrue normally at a rate of +1 point per full 24 hours after the first day the retreat commences, and the benefits endure so long as the retreat continues and (HRT ÷ 4) days after the retreat has ended, fading at the same rate it accrued.
One full calendar year must be allowed to elapse between each retreat in order to achieve the benefits described.
It is of vital importance that the reader become familiar also with the passages titled “An Introduction to Magick”, “The World through a Magician’s Eyes” and “A Primer on the World of Magick” before also reading through the rules for magick contained in the passages headed “Magick in Play”. There are certain basic essential concepts in those passages that, in concert with the trade descriptions are vital to a clear understanding of magick, its place in the world and how it is created and the rules under which it manifests in the game world, especially in mechanical terms.
If the GM feels that a Mystic character has performed above and beyond the normal demands of the Light and this very demanding trade, beyond any expectations the GM may have for such a character, he may wish to consider some manner of gift sent down from On High by the Light as a sign of appreciation. This might take the form of something simple to make his life easier. If he is a member of a poor order and has no horse, perhaps that could be sent to him. Weapons and armor are other options if he cannot afford them, the traditional suit of fieldplate or a sword of quality, a shield, or lance befitting his accomplishments. Making the character earn it he will be more likely to value it. The GM could put together a full war harness of mystical power and put it someplace in a tomb of some great pagan hero and guide the Sacred Knight to it in a dream or through a series of ambiguous signs drawing him on, or do the same with a very special warhorse, already trained and of uncanny intelligence being threatened by some evil foe, being mistreated or perhaps about to be destroyed for being unable to be bent to the use of those unworthy. The character arrives and finds his prize under the watchful eye of some vile and dangerous guardian(s).
The key here is subtlety. The GM should not be handing over some grotesquely powerful weapon that shoots irresistible Bolts of Annihilation, or arms to withstand the wrath of a god. The favor of Deity should be expressed simply. Perhaps the reward is a cloak that keeps all inclement weather out and the character comfortable no matter what, or a fine wooden bowl, a mazer with a lid, that is always full of simple but nourishing soup or brose or porridge whenever opened. Perhaps it is a weapon somewhat sharper than normal weapons and does not seem ever to dull or rust, or armor that never shows a dent or other sign of wear, A chain hauberk may not be the best armor, but when it never rusts and wears as lightly as a shirt of cotton and doesn’t seem to suffer from the abuse of battle in addition to having been given to the character by the Light Itself, who could possibly complain?
The GM should remember that to make an adventure out of giving one or more characters a gift in this way, from On High, it should be to address a need in the party, where their advancement in skills, Trades, reputation warrant it and where there is no real justifiable means in the regular course of the campaign or types of adventures being run at the time to provide for these needs in the Booty normally generated.
The blatant and obvious favor of the Light, or even the Darkness for that matter, should be more than merely difficult to win, but a herculean task taking many years to accomplish and the vigilance of a lifetime to maintain. The notice and benefit of devotion are evident in the spiritual benefits these characters achieve in the simple pursuit of their Trade. To achieve greater reward than should take some serious effort, and the GM should hold himself VERY difficult to impress on behalf of Deity.
If the GM is allowing Knights dedicated to the Black Orders and is similarly contemplating such a gift, he should make the guardian even more of a surprise. As well, there should always be some sort of price exacted in the long run, especially if the character has asked for or been looking for such a prize as a reward. These could be considered in some a cursed items – of little consequence to most who would willingly choose the Darkness. Such a drawback might include a fabulous sharp sword that endures without wearing, but which will not allow itself to be sheathed once drawn until it has been buried in living flesh to drink the life’s blood, and forcing the wielder to attack whomever should be closest to that end if the wielder had no foe in mind to slay when the sword is drawn. Similarly, a beautiful suit of full fieldplate might be made in such a way that it cannot be taken off once struck until the armor has used the wearer’s own life force and energy to mend any damage inflicted on it, despite not showing a scratch on it. Such a suit of armor might have need to drain so much of the wearer’s own energy it kills him, turning him to a wraith. The Knight in Black orders might free a fabulously fast and sleek and darkly beautiful steed from it’s captors of the Light, swift as the wind, whose hooves never seem to touch the ground, indeed able to ride the sky – a Nightmare with sulphurous breath and flaming hooves, cadaverous or skeletal visage at its whim, and none shall sleep soundly in the vicinity.
The Darkness is fickle, bizarre and takes with one hand as it gives with another, and not necessarily in equal proportion. Darkness does as It wishes to suit Itself. The Vices should lend a clue to its priorities and methods. The more the Darkness gives without demanding return, the greater and more destructive the price to be exacted in the end. It’s sense of irony is unmatched, and the bizarre nature of It’s humor sublime as befits any concept of Darkness and Deity. Any attempt to divest himself of a gift won of and for the use of the Darkness will be read as a severe affront and blatant insult to be redressed with retribution that can be coined short of death. Death is a last resort. Living on can be made far more unbearable. Of course, with command of the legions of Un-dead, one of the great and horrible resource in Their power, Death is no barrier to the Darkness. The Tortures of the Damned can run through the ultimate length of life and continue in an eternity of Un-death, too.