The Gods II
Chapter 4: Living in Heaven
by Scott Martin
Last updated 10/5/97
These rules deal with the direct interaction between the characters, their environment, and each other. They apply to the activities of the characters during Eras Aleph, Centrum, and Omega.
Among the many topics addressed herein are the geography" of Heaven, moving around Heaven, demesnes, gaining and using mana, using personal powers, combat, death, obliteration, and the Great Council.
Before a game session begins, you need to make sure that the players have access to all of the information their characters would normally have during the game. This includes: the names of all characters with their known powers, mana totals, artifacts, and demesnes; current Council laws, divine oaths, service contracts, and any upcoming Council meetings; summary information about the terrain and races of Earth, especially populations and pantheons. By distributing this information in advance, the players have a chance to review the situation they left, instead of spending the first fifteen minutes of the game saying "Now, what were we doing last time?"
At the beginning of each game session, you also need to provide each player with all of the information he needs to play his individual character. Give each player a character sheet detailing all of his powers and other relevant statistics. At this point you can also hand out mana chips or cards.
At the end of each game session, you need to tell the gamemasters all of the rules-related information about your character. This includes your current mana, artifacts in your possession, gifts or borrowed powers you hold, any personal powers cast on or by your character which are still in effect, changes made to your demesnes, divine oaths and service contracts made during the session, and any other pertinent info. Depending on how the gamemasters are handling the transition phase, they may also ask you to tell them what goals you accomplished and what sphere cards you intend to purchase.
The Hall of Doom: This should be the largest physical room available, as it is where large numbers of players are likely to congregate. The Hall of Doom is the location of the Great Council of the Gods and the place where duels are fought. Players are free to enter or leave the Hall of Doom at any time. While a Great Council meeting is in session, no combat may be held in the Hall of Doom. The Hall of Doom should contain twelve chairs grouped around a table or otherwise facing each other; only the greater gods are allowed to sit in these chairs! The Hall of Doom is also where current public records of Heaven are posted, such as Laws, scheduled Council Meetings, Council Officers, Outlaws, Divine Oaths, and Service Contracts. A table, counter, or bulletin board should be available where these documents can be maintained and publicly viewed.
The Window on the World: The Window on the World should be placed in the second largest room available as it will need to hold the Earth map (including the referees, counters, markers, computers, sheets, and forms used to run the Earth map) and any players who wish to use creation or history powers on the Earth. Players are free to enter or leave the Window on the World at any time.
The Hall of Feasts: This popular room should be placed in or near a kitchen, as it is the only locale in the game where food is provided! The Hall of Feasts is where any refreshments available should be served. No combat is allowed in the Hall of Feasts; players may not sneak attack or make duel challenges. However, all persuasion powers cost 25% less than the normal cost when used in this room (rounded up). Players are free to enter or leave the Hall of Feasts at any time, but may not take food or drink outside of the locale.
The Primeval Wilds: The original wilderness which even the gods have not tamed, the Primeval Wilds are best placed in an outdoor area if possible. While any character may leave the Primeval Wilds, anyone entering is automatically attacked by the Guardian Beasts unless he uses (or has used on him) a power which prevents this attack. The Guardian Beasts will not attack characters attempting to leave the Primeval Wilds.
The Underworld: This is the Afterlife, where the souls of dead character dwell until they return to life. If possible, the Underworld should be placed in a basement or a dim room. The Underworld may normally only be entered by dead gods or celestial spirits. Living gods or celestial spirits (and demons) must use special powers that allow entrance, but may exit the Underworld at any time. Dead characters may not exit the Underworld until they return to life.
The Void: The original chaos from which the gods came into existence, the Void is now the home of the demons. Many of their powers are increased in potence when used here. All demons share a single set of common mana sources; mana from these sources is placed in the demonic mana pool, a special bowl or tray in the Void. A demon (and only a demon) may put in or take out any amount of mana from the pool while in the Void.
Any character may enter the Void at any time. However, after entering all characters become lost in the Void unless they use (or have used on them) a power which prevents this. A character who is lost in the Void may leave by convincing a demon to let her out. A demon must let a character out if she gives him 5 mana (after toll). If no demon is present in the Void, the character may convince a "generic demon" to let her out by depositing 5 mana (once again, after toll) in the demonic mana pool; this is the only time a non-demon may place mana in the pool. If a character does not have sufficient mana and no demon is willing to help her, then she may be stuck in the Void for a long time!
The Corridors of Time: This is a generic category which may apply to a number of different locales. The Corridors of Time refers to any rooms which the gamemasters wish to keep relatively uncrowded so that through traffic is not impeded. The only affect is that demesnes may not be build in the Corridors of Time. Hallways and other important access routes where players should not generally congregate should be declared the Corridors of Time. Rooms (and locales) which are part of the Corridors of Time need not be contiguous. Each locale within the Corridors of Time may be given a separate name, though this is not necessary.
The Silver City: This is another generic category which may apply to a number of different locales. The Silver City refers to all rooms which don't fall into one of the above categories. These are the generic locales of Heaven where no special rules apply. Most gods will end up building their demesnes in the Silver City. Rooms (and locales) which are part of the Silver City need not be contiguous. Each locale within the Silver City may be given a separate name, though this is not necessary.
The Guardian Beast is played by an "automated combat system" described here. A copy of these rules should be located at each entrance to the Primeval Wilds.
If you wish to enter the Primeval Wilds, you must expend mana sufficient to give yourself two tricks and/or blocks using the combat powers available to you. (As with normal combat, each combat power may only be used once.) If you do so, you successfully defeat a Guardian Beast and may enter the Primeval Wilds. If you do not have sufficient mana, do not wish to expend the necessary mana, or do not have combat powers which will provide at least two tricks and/or blocks, then a Guardian Beast prevents you from entering the Primeval Wilds.
If you attempt to enter the Wilds as a group, then the group as a whole is attacked by a number of Guardian Beasts equal to the number of characters in the party (not including those who have used powers which prevent attack by the Guardian Beast). All members of your group may spend mana on combat powers to produce tricks and/or blocks; you must produce a combined total of two tricks and/or blocks per Beast in order to pass. This method allows gods with few or no combat powers to be "escorted" into the Wilds.
For the comfort and convenience of all participants, restrooms at the game site are considered to be officially outside of the game. Players in the restrooms may not be attacked or have powers used on them. Players should not use the restrooms as refuges in which to hide out or hold secret discussions. Absolutely no game-related activities should take place in them. Restrooms should only be used for their intended real-life purpose.
A lot of the abilities and effects used in the rules for the Gods Game are based on time. Players often must wait a certain amount of time before doing things. The gamemasters can help out the players by placing clocks in strategic places throughout the game site. Players are also encouraged to carry watches to help them with time-keeping (preferably worn in some way that does not detract from the costume).
Transmigration is the act of traveling from one locale to another without passing through the points in between. Transmigrating characters never have to worry about entrance restrictions (such as the Primeval Wilds, the Underworld, or demesnes) or exit restrictions (such as the Void).
While gods are often able to disappear in one place and appear in another, the players in your game probably can't. When a character transmigrates from one locale to another, the player must of necessity traverse the points in between. Transmigrating characters should hold their hands above their head and make appropriate whooshing noises to indicate that their essence is merely passing through on some astral voyage. Transmigrating characters may not communicate or interact in any way with people or places between their arrival and destination. However, characters who see a transmigrating character pass by need not pretend to not notice; gods tend to be aware of such things.
Heaven is represented by the game site where the players actually move around. The gamemasters should prepare a site with as many rooms as possible, including at least one room where most of the participants can gather at one time.
Heaven is divided into locales. Locale has a slightly different meaning in the Gods Game than in real life. Each actual room in the site is generally considered a locale in game terms, but because few gaming groups can provide a game site with 20 or more physical rooms, one physical room may be divided up into two or more locales for game definitions. Each easily identifiable segment of corridor or outdoor space can also be considered a separate locale. The gamemasters should identify any ambiguous locale boundaries and make the players aware of them.
Physical rooms can be divided into multiple locales in a number of ways. Partitions or furniture can be moved to divide the space. A specific sign or piece of furniture can represent a separate locale -- any player touching that sign or furniture (or touching another person who is touching the sign or furniture) is considered to be in the locale. This latter method is ideal for demesnes (see below), as it allows each demesne to be of variable size, depending on the number of people in it. Demesnes which the gamemasters know will be heavily populated should be assigned larger areas in advance.
The basic rule on locales is that players may only interact with other players who are in the same locale. A player may not talk with, attack, or use powers on a player in another locale, even if the other player is physically within sight. (Exception: A player outside a demesne can attack a demesne or request permission to enter. See the rules for demesnes.) This is important because certain locales have restricted access or other rules, as described here. For the sake of simplicity, the senses of a god, celestial spirit, or demon are considered to extend as far as those of the player, even to places outside the locale, so the player doesn't have to pretend ignorance of matters which his character might otherwise not know.
Before the game begins you must define the boundaries of the basic locales (the Hall of Doom, Window on the World, the Hall of Feasts, the Primeval Wilds, the Underworld, the Void, the Corridors of Time, and the Silver City) and communicate these boundaries clearly to the players, so that they will always know which locale they are in. It is helpful to place signs wherever the boundaries or locale identifications are not obvious. Almost any arrangement of rooms will work, as long as the three restricted locales (the Primeval Wilds, the Underworld, and the Void) do not block access to any other locales; players should be able to reach at least one entrance to every locale without going through a restricted locale.
Demesnes are special locales within the basic locales. They are created by the gods during Era Aleph to represent their unique homes in Heaven. As noted above, a demesne may be an actual room or just a marker of some sort, depending on the space available at the game site.
Demesnes may only be built within the Silver City, the Primeval Wilds, the Underworld, and the Void. Demesnes may not be built within the Hall of Doom, the Hall of Feasts, the Window on the World, or the Corridors of Time. Though a demesne is a separate locale, it is still considered to be "inside" the parent locale for purposes of casting powers. For example, a character may use powers which can only be cast in the Primeval Wilds while inside a demesne located in the Primeval Wilds.
Each god may only build one demesne (though she may own others by right of conquest). Two or more gods may build a joint demesne, splitting the mana cost in any way they choose. Each builder is considered an equal owner of the demesne and receives an equal fraction of any mana produced. Helping to build a demesne still counts as the god's one and only use of the Build Demesne power.
A demesne may only be entered by its current owner(s) and the minions and/or lords of the owner(s). However, anyone already inside the demesne can allow anyone outside to enter. Characters inside the demesne are free to exit at any time.
A demesne itself can be attacked from the outside in order to force entrance. It can also be attacked from the inside in order to take over ownership of the demesne.
If attacked from either the inside or outside, any characters inside may choose to take control of the demesne's defenses. If no characters are in the demesne (or none wish to control the defenses), then a referee will take the part of the demesne's defenses. See Attacking Demesnes in the rules for Combat.
It is up to the player(s) who create a demesne to provide the sign, marker, or prop which will identify the location of their demesne, preferably something indicative of the demesne's nature. In addition, each demesne should also have a card somewhere on it which indicates any powers have been cast on it that alter its attributes in any way.
Mana sources are determined by a character's spheres or other powers and are defined in the power lists. The amounts listed are for each card which a character has in that particular sphere; the more cards a character has in a certain sphere, the more mana he will get from those sources. A few sources specifically say "flat rate"; a character need have only one card in the sphere to get this rate and it is not multiplied by the number of cards.
Mana sources are divided into three categories. Era-end and century-end sources provide mana at the end of each era or century. These two categories are usually associated with the terrain, populations, and races of Earth, though some era-end sources refer to things in Heaven. Event sources provide mana each time that the listed event occurs; these refer to events in both Earth and Heaven (the latter primarily from combat events and the actions of the Great Council).
It is the duty of the gamemasters and referees to distribute mana to the players as it is produced. During game sessions this is most easily achieved by having "mana distribution points". A mana distribution point consists of one or more sheets of paper divided into boxes, one box per character. Depending on the extent of the game site, two or three such points should suffice. At the very least there should be one next to the Earth Map (for all the mana produced by Earthly sources) and another in the Hall of Doom (for all the mana produced by sources related to combat and the Great Council). If using chips or other markers for mana, the distribution points should also contain a supply of these markers from which the referees can dole out the required amounts.
Whenever a character receives mana, place the appropriate amount in one of the mana distribution points. Make sure all referees/gamemasters are clear on who will distribute mana and how so that duplications do not occur.
Keeping track of the numerous mana sources can be a job in itself. Era-end sources aren't a problem because they can be calculated during the transition phases and simply added to the mana totals in the gamemaster's records. They're also usually sufficiently large numbers that fractions can simply be rounded off. However, century-end and event sources must be handled during the actual game sessions.
Event sources can be handled by the use of event worksheets, one for events in Heaven and one for events on Earth. Each worksheet lists all possible events. After each event are listed the gods who receive mana from that source and exactly how much each receives per event. Whenever an event occurs, a referee need merely consult the appropriate event worksheet and then distribute the amounts of mana listed. Event sources on Earth can be handled by one or more Earth map referees. One referee or gamemaster should be available at all times in the Hall of Doom to handle Heavenly event sources. Mana from actions of the Great Council and combats that occur in the Hall of Doom can thus be easily dealt with. Combats that occur outside of the Hall of Doom will have to be reported to this referee (see below under player instructions). Because event sources often involve fractional amounts, mana amounts less than 1 should be recorded at the mana distribution points and added up over time.
Century-end sources can be the most complicated, because they involve fairly complex calculations. Detailed guidelines for handling these are found in the Chapter Six.
Because the total amount of mana available in the game tends to increase over time, the gamemasters should closely monitor this change. Unfortunately, this progression cannot be predicted as it depends heavily on both the number of gods in the game and the level of cooperation between gods, so no hard and fast rules can be given. If at any time the amount of mana floating around starts getting out of hand, the gamemaster can adjust the rules between game sessions by halving (or even quartering) all mana sources. This will prevent mana from becoming too common. This should only be used when the amount of mana gets really ridiculous. A good rule of thumb is to halve the mana sources whenever the average amount of mana per character goes over 50; quarter them if the average exceeds 100.
Whenever you feel like it, you can wander by the mana distribution points and pick up your mana. If you are unable to reach a mana distribution point for some reason, you may ask a referee to get your mana for you (though you should try not to abuse this ability; the referees have other duties besides fetching and carrying your mana).
Note that mana sitting in the distribution points under your name is considered your mana from the instant a referee places it there. Thus, any effects that refer to "all of your mana" or "half of your mana" must count that mana into your total. If you run into a situation that requires you to give away or spend half or all of your mana, perform the indicated action with whatever mana you currently have on you, but then immediately go to the mana distribution points (or send a referee) and do the same thing with your mana that's there. In summary, the mana distribution points are not banks where you can store your mana in an untouchable cache.
Mana is used to "fuel" all powers and artifacts; characters must spend a certain amount of mana in order to use any power or artifact. The mana costs for a power is given in brackets after its description. The mana cost to activate an artifact is usually equivalent to that of the power it duplicates.
There are a number of powers or effects which make a character lose mana. Unless otherwise stated in the power description, if the character does not have enough mana then whenever he gains new mana he must immediately expend it until the full amount is lost. Until the full amount is paid, the character may not use powers, give mana away, or make use of mana in any other form.
Whenever you use a power or activate an artifact, you must spend the appropriate amount of mana listed. If using written mana records, simply subtract the amount spent from your total. If using chips or markers, deposit the mana spent in the nearest collection bowl. These are bowls placed strategically around the game site, preferably one in each room so you never have to go far. If necessary you may make change from the bowls, but you should never take mana out of the bowls for any other reason!
If your game uses chips or markers, you will have to scatter collection bowls throughout the game site. Try to make the bowls distinctive so that they are easily spotted. At regular intervals, referees should collect the mana from the bowls (leaving a few markers behind so people can make change) and bring them to the supply caches at the mana distribution sites, keeping chips in circulation so that the game doesn't run out.
In addition to fueling powers, mana is also the currency of Heaven. Characters may transfer mana among themselves as gifts, bribes, extortion, or payment. However, all mana transfers between players suffer a 50% loss (rounded up) during the transaction. A character's mana is most effective when used by himself; if transferred to another character, it loses strength. This loss is referred to as the toll.
If using mana chips or markers, the 50% lost to the toll should be placed into mana collection bowls (see above).
The toll is in effect from the end of Era Null until the end of the game. It thus applies also during the transition phases. Players may transfer mana between their characters during transition phases by simply informing the gamemasters, who will subtract the appropriate amounts when recording the new totals in the character records.
There are a number of powers which require the target(s) to give mana to another character. These have no effect if the target has no mana.
For the sake of brevity and ease of play, the myriad powers described in the rules are often given short, barebones descriptions and reduced to simple rules mechanics. However, all participants should remember that these are supposed to represent the abilities of divine beings, not just the movement options of pieces in a really complex game of chess. When using a power, don't say, "I use Sword of Fire. I now have two tricks." Instead say, "My hammer bursts into brilliant yellow flames!" Basically, don't just name the power, describe the effects in terms of the game's internal reality. This simple change in wording can transform a simple exchange of tedious power-naming into a vivid story which will be far more enjoyable to both you and everyone watching.
Given the number of powers available in The Gods, it is unavoidable that now and then two powers will be used which have contradictory effects, where the effect of one precludes the effect of the other. If possible, use common sense to resolve these conflicts. Remember that the powers are meant to simulate a fictitious reality; viewing the effects within that reality rather than as written rules can sometimes determine which power would logically predominate. If the situation is still ambiguous, then the power with the higher sphere level takes precedence. (Celestial spirit and demon powers are all considered to be first level powers.) If both powers are of the same level, ask a referee to make a judgement call.
Throughout Eras Aleph and Centrum, the Earth forms a focal point for activity in The Gods. Various natural phenomena occur, mortal races grow, migrate, and fight wars, and the gods constantly intervene. This activity is controlled and monitored by the Earth Map referees. Using the rules described in Era Centrum, they handle any spontaneous events that occur without divine intervention.
The Earth Map referees also serve as the interface between the characters and the Earth. In order to prevent confusion, no character may touch or alter the Earth Map in any way! Instead, a character who wishes to use a creation or history power on the Earth must inform the referees of his intentions; the referees will then make any changes.
Because the Earth is of vital importance to the characters, it is quite likely that many players will want to simultaneously use powers on the Earth. To control this situation, the gamemasters should design some kind of system which will fairly allow players to use the map in sequence, preferably without having to wait in line. A sample system is described here.Take a Number: The gamemasters will provide a set of sequentially numbered tickets or pieces of paper and place them near the Earth map, in order. Whenever a player wishes to use a power at the Earth map, she must take the next sequential ticket available. Each player may only have one numbered ticket at a time; tickets may not be traded among players. If two or more players wish to combine their powers in some fashion (see creation powers and history powers) they must select sequential numbers.
The Earth map referees will call out the numbers in sequence. As each number is called, the player who holds that ticket steps up to the Earth map and uses one power once; to use another power or to use the same power again will require a separate trip to the map. (Exception: multiple powers may be used simultaneously in order to create a single race during Era Aleph.) If the ticket-holder does not show up, her chance is lost and the referees move on to the next number. Whether the player used her chance or not, she may then draw a new number to replace the one now passed.
If you are the target of a persuasion power it's your responsibility to act as if you have actually been convinced to voluntarily follow the course of action dictated by the persuasion power. The caster of the persuasion power should provide you with a "rationalization" which you can use to explain your character's behavior. If he doesn't provide a good one, then make one up. The rationalization may include "false" information which can later be "disproven", but you must act as if it's true until you've completed the action. This can be a role-playing challenge, but you should take it in stride and play it out legitimately. It's not fair to tell other players "I'm doing this because I was forced to do so by X."
Personal powers work during Eras Aleph, Centrum, and Omega (basically, any time except Era Null and, of course, during transition phases). The represent the innate powers of the characters, powers which affect Heaven and its inhabitants. Personal powers never have any effect on Earth.
Personal powers generally affect the caster, a target character, an object, or a place in Heaven. The target of a personal power (whether a person, place, or thing) must always be in the same locale as the caster. (See the special game definition of locales.) A variety of effects can modify the cost of a personal power; no combination of such effects can lower the cost below 25% of the normal mana cost. All fractional costs are rounded up.
The personal powers include a number of categories, identified by the letters in parentheses after the power's name. Some powers fall into two categories.
Combat powers affect the caster or his opponent in combat. These are the only powers which may be used during combat. In fact, these powers can only be used in combat unless they also fall within another category.
Powers marked (Cd) are a special sub-category called combat-duel powers. These powers may be used to aid another character immediately before a duel, in addition to being used directly in combat. Combat-duel powers may only be used on voluntary targets.
Powers marked (Cs) may only be used at the end of a combat, just before it is complete. They effect the outcome of the combat. Most can only be used when certain conditions are met, such as when one person surrenders or disengages.
Specifics on the use of combat powers are given in the rules for Combat.
Persuasion powers are those which make other characters do what you want. They receive reduced costs in the Hall of Feasts and can often be modified by other powers which specifically refer to them.
Persuasion powers are instantaneous and considered cast immediately after the caster announces it. However, before the effects actually take place, the caster and the target must spend three minutes conversing, during which time the caster should role-play out her persuasion of the target and explain exactly what he wishes the target to do. During this period, neither the caster nor the target can leave the locale, attack, use powers, or talk to a third party unless one is forced to leave or defend himself by the actions of a third party. Both parties are also immune to further persuasion powers during this period. This conversation period is mainly for purposes of realism; the persuasion power is complete when originally cast and nothing can change that afterward. Once the conversation is over (either by time or by interruption) the specific effects described by the power begin. A player may not cast two persuasion powers (or the same power twice) within three minutes of each other.
Persuasion powers marked (P2) have two targets. Both targets must remain and listen during the three minute period. If either of the targets has an ability which increases the mana cost of persuasion powers, then the cost is increased.
Powers marked (Pm) are multiple persuasion powers. They affect all players in the locale who meet the criteria for being a target (e.g., all gods or all demons). The caster must initially announce his use of the power in a loud voice so that everyone in the room will hear. (Players may not duck out of the room while the caster tries to gain everyone's attention.) All affected players must remain in the room and listen to the caster for the three minute period, during which the caster must make a speech to the assembled crowd. If any of the targets have an ability which increases the mana cost of persuasion powers, then they should inform the caster of this fact; each such target is unaffected by the power unless the caster pays the increased cost for him. Characters who enter the room after the speech has begun must stay and listen but are not otherwise influenced by the power's effects.
Direct effect powers are those which have some effect on other characters but are neither combat or persuasion powers. The effects of a direct effect power occur immediately when the caster announces its use. Players may not, however, use a rapid series of powers to overwhelm someone. After casting a direct effect power you must allow all other players in the locale a chance to react with one action such as sneak-attacking, leaving, transferring mana, saying a few quick words, or using a direct effect power of their own. Holding a discussion is not a single action; if someone starts yakking, then you're free to use another direct effect power on them.
Direct effect powers marked (Nt) are not instantaneous. To use these, the caster must first tell the target of his intention. If the target immediately leaves the locale or sneak attacks the caster, or if someone else in the locale sneak attacks the caster, then the power fails to be used and the caster expends no mana. If the target does anything else, then the power is successful.
Powers marked (Nv) can only be cast on a willing target.
Powers marked (Ns) may only be used on yourself.
Demesne powers are cast on demesnes rather than on characters. Unless otherwise noted, the caster must be inside the target demesne to use these powers on it. The effects of the power are permanent, unless overridden by one of the sub-categories below. Each demesne power may only be used once on any demesne until it wears off, at which time it can be used again. There are also demesnes powers which are creation powers.
Demesne powers take five minutes to cast. The casting is interrupted (and the mana cost lost) if the caster or the demesne is attacked or made the target of another power during this period.
Powers marked (De) last only until the end of the current era, at which time the effects cease.
Powers marked (Ds) last only until the end of the current game session.
Locale powers are those which affect an entire locale in Heaven. The power effects all characters within the locale, either immediately or for a period of time stated in the description. Locale powers are not normally instantaneous. The caster must first announce his intention to everyone in the room. If someone immediately leaves the locale then she is not targeted. If someone sneak attacks the caster then the power fails to be used and the caster expends no mana.
Locale powers marked (Li) are instantaneous locale powers. Unlike normal locale powers, the caster need not announce his intention and no one has a chance to avoid or stop the power.
Locale powers marked (La) are access locale powers. They do not actually effect the people in the locale but modify the normal access restrictions of the locale for a certain amount of time.
Artifact powers may only be imbedded inside of an artifact. They are cast while creating the artifact in a Craft Hall but have no effect unless activated in a completed artifact. For more details, see the rules on Artifacts.
Artifact powers marked (Ac) are combat artifact powers. They can only be activated when the wielder of the power is in combat.
Treat gift powers as direct effect powers (N) when casting them.
Gift powers have no immediate effect. Instead they give the target of the power a gift, a special one-use ability. Gift powers may not be used on oneself; gifts may only be "granted" to other characters. The gift is normally represented by a card with the gift ability written on it. Players with gift powers should prepare a sufficient number of these in advance.
A gift may not be transferred to another character; only the original target may use it, though a player may have any number of gifts. Gifts cost no mana to activate, but otherwise follows all of the rules for the type of power which it imitates. Once used, the gift is discarded.
This category includes all powers which don't fall into one of the above categories. Any special rules or restrictions that apply to the power are included in the description.
It is possible that you may desire to, or be forced to, use no gesture during a specific combat round. This is the equivalent of simply standing defenseless in front of an opponent and letting him hit you. The "null" gesture is represented by a flat palm, face up (the opposite of "paper"). The null gesture is beaten by rock, paper, scissors, trick, and block. Even a block used against a null will actually do damage.
Unless modified by certain rare powers, your character starts each combat with 5 hit points. When your character reaches 0 hit points you must either surrender or die (see Ending Combat below). Assuming you are not killed, all damage done to your character during combat is temporary; the moment the combat ends you're back to your full 5 hit points.
The exception to this rule are certain powers and effects which cause permanent damage. These powers remove permanent hit points, which means that the next time you go into combat you will have less than 5 hit points at the start. Lost permanent hit points are generally considered a mutilation and can be healed by powers which cure mutilations, unless the power specifically states that the permanent hit points lost can never be healed. If your character ever reaches 0 permanent hit points, you are permanently dead until a power which releases you from death and a power which heals a mutilation are cast on you simultaneously.
If you accept your opponent's surrender, you must impose one of the following surrender terms:
Surrender Item: Your opponent must give you one artifact (that is in her possession) of your choice.
Surrender Mana: Your opponent must give you 3 mana (after the toll) or half of her current mana, whichever is less.
Surrender Earthly Influence: Name a race on Earth. For the remainder of this era, your opponent may use no history or creation powers which will affect this race in any way (other than global powers).
Surrender Will: Your opponent must swear any divine oath of your choosing with you as the sole witness. You must pay the mana cost to witness the oath. Record the oath in the Hall of Doom at the soonest possible opportunity (or ask a referee to do so for you). This surrender term may only be chosen by characters who have the ability to witness a divine oath.
Surrender Labor: For the next 30 minutes your opponent may not use any powers, attack any other character, or move about Heaven except with your permission. (Exception: He may use combat powers to defend himself if attacked.) He must refer to you by any form of address you choose. In addition, he must follow any orders of personal service which you may give him, including delivering messages, polishing shoes, providing entertainment, etc. You may not order him to engage in combat or use any of his power, only to perform menial tasks.
Mutilations represent permanent damage that does not automatically heal after combat. In addition to the mutilations listed below, which are caused by weapons of obliteration, some personal powers also cause other types of mutilations. Mutilations can only be healed by a few rare powers. Mutilations are supposed to be visible and must be role-played or costumed appropriately.
If your opponent is using a weapon of obliteration in combat when you surrender, in addition to imposing surrender terms she must inflict one of the following mutilations on you:
Lame: You may never use the rock gesture in combat. Limp when you walk.
Lost Hand: You may never use the paper gesture in combat. Keep one of your hands in a sleeve, pocket, or other inaccessible place at all times (as appropriate to your costume).
Lost Eye: You may never use the scissors gesture in combat. Put a patch over one of your eyes.
Internal Weakness: You lose two permanent hit points, and thus begin each combat with two less hit points than normal. You may speak only in a whisper or in a rough, grating voice. (You may not receive this mutilation again unless it is healed.)
Other: Players with sick imaginations are free to make up their own forms of combat mutilations, though they must be equivalent to those listed above. These must be proposed to and approved by the gamemasters in advance of the game session.
If you are inside a demesne which is under attack, whether from the inside or the outside, you may choose to coordinate the defenses of the demesne. (Of course, if the attack is from the inside, you may also choose to defend it personally as if it were a sneak attack.) If two or more players wish to coordinate the defense of the demesne, then whoever states their intention first is the coordinator, though an owner of the demesne takes precedence over anyone else.
While coordinating the defense of a demesne, you use the combat statistics for the demesne, not those for yourself. Any damage taken by the demesne does not actually affect you, only the demesne itself; you are not in combat, the demesne is, and you're just helping it out. Unlike a referee, you can decide to mutually end combat if the attacker agrees.
The most important advantage of coordinating a demesne's defenses is that you may use your personal combat powers on behalf of the demesne; simply replace "you" with "the demesne" in the description. However, unless you are an owner of the demesne, all combat powers cost twice the normal cost when used in this manner. Owners of the demesne pay only the normal mana costs for combat powers when coordinating.
There are three types of combat in The Gods: duels, sneak attacks, and attacks on demesnes. The primary difference between the first two is in how they are initiated; the combat rules remain the same once the battle has actually begun. The third works a little differently since the "defender" is an inanimate place.
Combat is always between two individuals. Characters may not "gang up" on one another. Once combat has begun, the two individuals can only use combat powers. Characters outside the combat may not intervene in any way. The two combatants are essentially in an invulnerable bubble, unable to affect or be affected by the outside world until the combat is over.
(Because most of the rules in this section are addressed directly to the player, the heading "Player Instructions" has been left off.)
The "proper" way to initiate combat is to challenge another character to a duel which will take place in the Hall of Doom. You must confront the person you want to challenge (i.e., be in the same locale) and publicly challenge him or her to a duel (i.e., there must be at least one third party present). The challenged party must then name a time between ten and thirty minutes in the future. Inform the nearest referee of who will be fighting the duel and when it will occur. If either of you fail to appear in the Hall of Doom at the appointed time, the person who fails to appear is shamed and forfeits the right to vote in the next Great Council meeting. (This should be recorded by a referee in the Hall of Doom records.) If the person who failed to appear was a lesser god, then his lord is shamed and forfeits the right to vote in the next Great Council meeting. (Note that lesser gods without lords, celestial spirits, and demons lose nothing by declining a duel since they have no status at stake.)
Whether you are the challenger or the defender, it is possible to gain help from your friends in a duel. At the very beginning of the duel, before the first round of combat, your allies may cast combat-duel powers (those marked Cd) on you. This is the only time that combat powers may be used by someone outside the actual combat. Each ally may only use one combat-duel power to help you, and all allies must be present in the Hall of Doom and remain standing behind you throughout the entire fight. During the fight the allies are technically inside the "combat bubble", or at least their own special spaces within the main bubble. Though they may have no further effect on the combat's outcome, they cannot leave, attack, be attacked, use powers, or have powers used on them, even among each other. When the actual combat starts, you will begin the combat with all of the combat-duel powers already cast on you. Once you have begun the first round, no further outside powers may be used to help you.
Rather than initiate a formal duel, you can simply announce your intention to attack another character in the same locale by stating in a loud, clear voice, "I am attacking [name of character]." Any other player in the locale has five seconds to step forward and say, "I will defend [name of character]." (If two individuals announce their intention to play bodyguard, the one closest to you fills the role.) If no one chooses to defend the person you challenged, she must fight for herself. During this five second period, no other actions may take place in the locale; the pause exists solely for players to decide what they wish to do and cannot be used to cast powers or run away.
Combat commences immediately after the defender has been determined. No outsiders may interfere.
Unless the Great Council has changed the laws, sneak attacks on characters are illegal when performed outside of the Void or a demesne.
Combat is divided into a series of rounds. Each round consists of two parts.
In the first part of the round, you and your opponent may each cast one combat power or activate one artifact power. If you are the defender, you may request during any round that your opponent announce which power he will use before you choose which one you will use. However, no matter the order announced, both of your powers are considered to occur simultaneously. Each player expends the appropriate mana and the powers go into immediate effect. You may only use each combat power once in any combat. For example, if you cast Sword of Fire in the first round, you may not cast it again in any subsequent rounds. Once you have cast all of your combat powers you'll have to finish the fight without using further powers.
In the second part of the round, you and your opponent fight a round of "rock-paper-scissors". If your hand gesture beats that of your opponent, you are considered to have successful struck your opponent, who loses one hit point (or takes one point of damage, depending on how you prefer to word it). If you tie, then nothing happens and you go on to the next round.
Simple, isn't it? Well, there are a few complications. First, in addition to the standard rock, paper, and scissors gestures there are two special gestures known as "trick" (fist closed, thumb up) and "block" (palm flat facing toward opponent). Trick beats rock, paper, scissors, and another trick (i.e., two tricks beat each other, so both of you take damage). Block beats all other gestures but will not actually cause damage to your opponent; it is solely a defensive move.
Blocks and tricks are also special in that you only have a limited number of them. While everyone can use rock, paper, or scissors as many times as they want, you only gain tricks and blocks through the use of powers, and once you have used a trick or block it's gone. Tricks and blocks don't carry over between combats; if you have some left over at the end of the combat, then they are lost.
The referee's chief role in combat is to answer questions and resolve any disputes. Ideally, you should not be needed at all. The rules are set up so that the players can fight combats without any assistance from the referees. However, when a combat is in progress it's a good idea for you to stand by; if there are any questions or disputes, the players will need an answer or a resolution as fast as possible.
There are four possible ways for combat to end. In all but the first, the results of the combat must be reported to a referee as soon as possible after combat is concluded. You must tell the referee who fought, who won, and who (if anybody) died.
First, at any point during the combat you and your opponent may mutually agree to end your feud. If this happens the entire combat can essentially be ignored. You need not report it to a referee and no one will receive mana for it. Note that certain combat powers may force your opponent (or even both of you) to agree to end combat.
Second, one character may disengage. You may only disengage if given the ability to do so by a combat power (or forced to do so by an opponent's power). Disengagement occurs at the end of a combat round, so even if you use a disengage power on the first round you must still fight one round of rock-paper-scissors and chance suffering damage. If you disengage, you must immediately leave the locale and stay away for at least ten minutes. During this time your former opponent may not attack you again (though other characters may).
Third, one character may surrender. When you reach 0 hit points you always have the option to surrender. During Eras Aleph and Centrum, gods and celestial spirits must accept a surrender if is offered. During Era Omega your opponent may choose to ignore the surrender and simply kill you; demons may always choose to ignore a surrender. If your opponent accepts your surrender, then she must choose one of the surrender terms listed in the side column.
Fourth, one character may die. If, after reaching 0 hit points, you choose not to surrender or your surrender is not accepted, then you die. See Death below.
All combats that end in disengagement, surrender, or death must be reported to the referees. You must take this information to the referee(s) or gamemaster(s) in the Hall of Doom who are handling mana dispersal. This information is used to calculate and distribute mana for the various sphere mana sources that derive power from specific combat results.
In addition to fighting one another in duels or sneak attacks, the characters are able to attack demesnes. Though attacking a demesne is not considered a sneak attack, the same "five-second rule" applies; after declaring an attack, other characters in the locale have a five second period during which they may intervene and take the demesne's place in the combat. A demesne may be attacked from either the inside or the outside. The procedure is the same in either case, the only difference is the outcome of the battle if the attacker succeeds.
Each demesne begins the combat with 10 hit points and 5 blocks, in addition to any other combat abilities which may have been added due to demesne powers cast on it in the past. Demesnes cannot disengage or surrender. Unless a character is coordinating the defenses of the demesne (see below), the demesnes is played by any available referee. If a referee is playing the demesne, she may not agree to mutually end combat (unless forced to do so by a combat power used by the attacker).
When a demesne reaches 0 hit points, it is not killed, but the following consequences occur. If the attack came from the outside, then the attacker enters the demesnes and is now on the inside. If the attack came from the inside, then the attacker becomes the owner of the demesnes; all former owners lose that status and all abilities associated with being the demesne's owner.
As with battles between people, demesnes battles are always one-on-one; one character attacks one demesne. However, any character within the demesne may choose to coordinate the defenses of the demesne. That character is known as the coordinator and may use his powers on behalf of the demesne.
If you wish to attack a demesne, simply announce "I am attacking [name of demesne]." Any other player in the same locale as you has five seconds to step forward and say, "I will defend [name of demesne]." (If two individuals announce their intention to play bodyguard, the one closest to the demesne fills the role.) If someone does intervene, then the two of you enter combat as if it were a sneak attack (though this is not considered a sneak attack for purposes of the default Council law). If no one chooses to defend the demesnes, then your attack on the demesnes continues. During this five second period, no other actions may take place in the locale; the pause exists solely for players to decide what they wish to do and cannot be used to cast powers or run away.
Since demons are not denizens of Heaven, demons who are killed do not die and go to the Underworld. If you are a demon and are killed outside the Void you must immediately drop any artifacts in your possession and transmigrate to the Void. You must remain in the Void for the next 30 minutes and may not leave. However, you are under no other restrictions; you are free to talk, use powers, engage in combat, and exchange mana with any other characters who are in the Void with you. You are considered alive for all rules purposes and are simply stuck in the Void.
If you are killed in the Void, then the effects are more serious. You must drop all of your artifacts and then remain in the Void for the next 30 minutes, but also may not talk to non-demons, use powers or be the target of a power, engage in combat, possess artifacts, or exchange mana with any other characters. During this period you are considered dead for the purposes of any powers which affect the dead.
When a god is obliterated, the individual who performed the deed must decide what to do with the body. The four possible choices are:
The method of disposal has no effect other than to provide mana to one of the elemental spheres.
An artifact is any item in the game which contains powers. These powers can be used by whichever god is in possession of the artifact. The user must still pay the normal mana cost to use such powers. In addition to the normal sphere powers, some personal powers may only be placed into artifacts. These are from the Artifact personal powers (marked with an A). Once made, an artifact cannot be changed; no further powers may be added to it.
Artifacts are represented by props, which can be just about anything the players, referees, or gamemasters can come up with. All artifacts must be clearly recognizable as such; use only props that are large and distinctive enough to be obvious as such. A player may never hide an artifact in his possession but must wear or carry it prominently and obviously. If any other player asks if a certain object is an artifact, you must truthfully answer; this is not an in-character power which can be negated, it's simply a way to make sure that everyone knows which items in the game are artifacts. The full descriptions of the powers in the artifact must be written on a piece of paper which is kept with the artifact at all times.
While a character may have any number of artifacts in his possession, he may only use one artifact during any single combat, though the player may decide which one he will use. The choice of artifact must be made at the beginning of the combat, before the first round.
A number of powers and rules force a character to "drop" one or more artifacts. In addition, a character may voluntarily drop an artifact at any time. If a character drops an artifact during or as a result of combat, then his opponent may take possession of it at the end of the combat. Otherwise the artifact is simply lying on the floor and the first person to pick it up gets it. A character who sets an artifact down to free up his hands is still in possession of it; possession is only lost if the character purposefully drops it or loses it through some consequence of the rules.
The possessor of an artifact may use any of the powers in it as if he possessed those powers himself. This is called "activating" the power and is normally identical to casting it. The wielder must still pay the normal mana cost to activate each power. The exceptions to this rule are the special Artifact powers, which have activation costs different from the original casting cost. These activation costs are listed in the Artifact power description.
If a power has a variable casting cost, then the maximum "strength" of the power in the artifact is determined by the amount of mana spent when creating the artifact. For example, if the creator of the artifact spent 12 mana imbedding Bless Land (3 times a possible casting cost of 4), then the wielder of the artifact could spend any amount up to 4 on the power.
In Heaven, death is only a temporary setback that entails a short period of time spent in the Underworld. Only obliteration can truly destroy a character.
If your character dies, you must immediately drop any artifacts in your possession and transmigrate to the Underworld. You will remain dead for 30 minutes, during which time you are under the following restrictions:
Note that certain powers available from the sphere of Death override or allow exceptions to these restrictions.
Though dead, you continue to receive mana from your sphere mana sources, you just don't have much to do with it! If necessary, you may request that a referee pick up and deliver your mana to you in the Underworld.
Unlike death, obliteration involves the true annihilation of the character. If a god is obliterated, then she is gone forever. All of her sphere cards are returned to the sphere pool, she ceases to be the owner of any demesnes, and her percentage of any pantheon is split equally between the other gods in the pantheon (see Chapter Six.
If a lesser god is obliterated, her lord(s) lose all privileges connected with her. In addition each lord loses half of his mana or 10 mana, whichever is greater.
If a greater god is obliterated, her seat on the Great Council becomes vacant and all of her lesser gods lose all responsibilities and privileges connected with her.
If an archetype is obliterated, her archetypal sphere cards do not go to the sphere pool (though any others do) and her position as a greater god may not be filled by election of the Great Council as would normally be the case (see below). Instead, the position is only filled if all of her former archetypal lesser gods (those who were given one of the special extra sphere cards available to archetypes) unanimously agree to elect one of their number to the position. Until that occurs, the position remains vacant. If it does occur, the chosen individual immediately becomes a greater god, gains five more cards in the archetypal sphere, and becomes an archetype himself. All of the other archetypal lesser gods involved become minions of the new archetype. Note that this is the only method by which an archetypal lesser god may become a greater god. If the obliterated archetype had no archetypal lesser gods, then the above rules no longer apply. Her Council position may be re-filled by election and her six archetypal sphere cards go to the sphere pool for anyone to purchase. There will never again be another archetype of that sphere and the sphere is no longer considered archetypal.
If a primal being is obliterated, then the sphere cards owned by the character are permanently removed from the game. Her seat on the Great Council may never be filled again; the number of potential greater gods is reduced by one. In addition, serious side effects occur in both Heaven and Earth, depending on which greater sphere the primal being once possessed. These side effects are detailed in the power list for primal beings.
Remember that only gods can be truly obliterated. If a demon or celestial spirit is obliterated in combat, then treat it exactly as if the character were simply killed.
If your character is obliterated, you must immediately drop all artifacts in your possession and transmigrate to the Void. Once there, you become a demon. Inform the gamemasters of your new status. Note that the demon is a completely new character, not just a new manifestation of your old character; your old character is gone. You are starting off with a completely new character with different powers and different objectives. You should choose a new name, personality, personal goals, objectives, and appropriate demonic powers. For the sake of fairness, you should try not to use your new character as a tool of revenge against the player(s) who caused the obliteration of your former character; allow your demon character to form his own special enemies during play. Remember, you're now out to annihilate everybody, so there's no need to single out any one person.
Before each game session begins, place in the Void some copies of all the demonic powers and any other game materials which you give to demons. If a god is obliterated he can then simply pick up a "demon pack" and have all of the information he needs to start playing a demon. As soon as possible, record each new demon's name and powers.
By various means it is possible for the leader of the Council to be a lesser god or celestial spirit. If this occurs, that character is considered to temporarily be a greater god for purposes of targeting all powers which effect greater gods during Council meetings. (For example, he cannot be suppressed by the Sentinel of the Council and is affected by Prophecy.) However, the character still cannot vote and this special status ends the instant the Council meeting is over.
Council laws can be made on just about anything. They need not be fair, impartial, or even reasonable. Some examples are listed here. (The biblical phraseology is used solely for color and is not required.)
The Council offices start in the hands of celestial spirits for one very good reason: celestial spirits cannot be obliterated, which would leave the office unfilled. In general, whenever an office is unfilled (as would occur if the officer were obliterated) the powers of that office become available to exactly the people who should probably not have those powers. Still, the Council is free to give an office to a god. They could even give an office to a demon, though why they would want to is another question!
This last power of the great Council can only be used in Era Omega and requires a unanimous vote by all greater gods in existence. See Chapter Seven for further details.
The Great Council is made up of all of the greater gods. A Council meeting begins at the time appointed by any character using the power Summon Great Council. It ends when the leader of the Council dissolves the meeting or whenever there are less than seven greater gods present in the Hall of Doom, whichever comes first. While the Council is in session, no combat can be held in the Hall of Doom; characters may neither challenge for a duel or sneak attack.
The individual who summoned the Council is considered to the leader of that Council meeting. He may speak for up to three minutes at the beginning of the meeting; no one present may interrupt or speak during this time. After that the method of conducting the meeting is completely up to the characters present. While the Sentinel of the Council has the ability to suppress lesser gods, celestial spirits, and demons who (in his opinion) disrupt the meeting, there is nothing to stop the actual Council members from acting any the way they want, including the use of non-combat powers on those present.
While the members of the Great Council are free to discuss, pronounce, and decide anything they wish, in order to make a decision that actually affects the rules it must be voted for by at least seven greater gods; this number does not change even if the number of greater gods is less than the normal twelve.
In addition to various minor Council powers which are related to specific powers (and are described in the power lists), the Great Council can perform four specific acts: pass laws, promote new greater gods, grant Council offices, and select a Supreme Deity.
The Great Council can pass laws. These have no direct effect on the rules, but define the parameters of whom the Judge of Heaven can declare to be an outlaw, which in turn affects the usage of certain personal powers. If the Judge of Heaven refuses to pass sentence, or characters with powers which punish outlaws do not use them, then the Council laws have no other effect. Council laws must be recorded in the Hall of Doom.
Once a character is declared an outlaw, he remains an outlaw until he dies. When a character dies, he is cleared of all previous charges and his slate is wiped clean, though it is quite possible for him to break the same law again once he returns to life.
In addition to making new laws, the Council is free to rescind or amend any previous laws. The Gods begins with one Council law in place: "Thou shalt not sneak attack another character. This law does not apply if the defender is in the Void, inside a demesne, or an outlaw." The Council is free to amend this law as they see fit.
There can never be more than twelve greater gods at any time. A new greater god can only be made if a vacancy has occurred in the ranks of the Council through the obliteration of a greater god. Note also that special rules apply to replacements for archetypes and primal beings.
Any lesser god (who is not a minion of an archetype) is a candidate for greater godhood. If selected for promotion by the Council, the new greater god receives one greater sphere card of his choice from the sphere pool. He may immediately begin to use the powers granted by that card, but does not gain the associated mana sources until the next game session (since the gamemasters will need time to revise their worksheets). The new greater god ceases to be a minion of his former lord(s); all rights associated with that relationship are lost.
The Great Council can assign or revoke the three Council offices to any three characters they wish. No character may hold multiple Council offices. If the Council assigns an office to a new character, the former office-holder immediately loses all powers associated with the office and the new office-holder immediately gains them. There is no "gap" during which the office is considered unfilled unless the Council revokes the office and then assigns it as two separate actions.