Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Transcendent Paths of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant

The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant excels at enforcing its will upon an entire population and upon the very physics of the world. Thus, it should come as no surprise that they can force Communion itself into the shape that they wish, and that they regularly do so to create new paths.

The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant generally creates paths to serve its own purposes: to expand its power, to shape people’s destiny in such a way that suits them, or to grant themselves desired power. However, their mastery is imperfect, and they unintentionally create a backlash of destiny that can trap them down unwanted paths, or send someone’s destiny spiraling out of their control.

A Transcendent Path works exactly as a normal path and often mix and mingle elements of other paths to create a new cohesive whole. They have prerequisites, symbols, milestones and miracles, just as any path would. The drawback of a transcendent path can be found in its symbols and its milestones.

Most Transcendent paths have not one, but two opposing paths; this reflects the superiority of “natural” paths to “artificial” paths created by the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant. Transcendent Paths also have “corrupted” milestones, which reflect unintentional milestones creeping into their design as fate is exceptionally difficult to pin down. Transcendent Paths have normal milestones, which reflect the will of its creator, and one or more “Corrupted” milestones, which reflect how Destiny sees the true fate of the path; other than the themes involved, they are identical, and either can improve the Legendary Reptutation of the path-walker, and characters who fail to fulfill the milestone they face will find themselves ejected from the path.

Some transcendent paths have more of these problems than other. The Cult of Anthara’s ill-fated experiment with the “True King” path, which was meant to weld the best of the Exiled Master with the Mystic Tyrant to create a king that was truly beloved by all and always right, failed so spectacularly that nobody studies it to this day. Nonetheless, two of the more successful paths are listed below.



The Devoted Slave

Alternate Names: The Puppet; The Champion; The Abducted Goddess

By the time of the Cult of Satra Temos, the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant found the rebelliousness of Domen Sefelina and Domen Sonostra increasingly intolerable. They needed minions who would carry out their deeds, and they relied heavily on crime and slavery, two things the above mentioned Cults fought against fiercely.

They conceived of the Path of the Devoted Slave as an answer to the influence of the rebellious cults, but especially Domen Sefelina. It sought to turn rebelliousness into a failure, and loyal service to the Cult as a powerful reward. The result resonated better than the Cult expected, with many caught up in the romance of service to a dark power, and remains a viable path to this day. However, over time, the rebelliousness of its oppressed paths crept into the Path of the Devoted Slave: masters who treat their Devoted Slaves poorly find themselves uniquely vulnerable to adherents of this path.

The Path traditionally refers to its followers with feminine pronouns, primarily because this path was conceived of as an answer to the feminine path of the Beautiful Fool. It should not be seen as a primarily feminine path, however: the Cult regularly encourages its male servants to follow this path, and the followers of the path more often tend to be devoted warrior-champions or cunning spies than beautiful and seductive saboteurs.

The story told to Cultists who choose to follow this path is that it eventually leads to mastery; this is not a feature of the Path itself, as it focuses entirely on service and devotion to a master. To become a master, one will need to step off the path and enter into another path (typically the Path of the Mystic Tyrant). Those who cling to the Path of the Devoted Slave too long typically either die in the service of their master, or slay him.

Prerequisites

As with all paths, following the Path of the Devoted Slave requires an additional -5% pact modifier “Disciplines of Faith (Ritualism)”, representing how the character must spend every moment of his life carefully engaging in the symbolism of the Devoted Slave.

Furthermore, the Devoted Slave must have a minimum of -10 points worth of Duty to a single master. The details of the service very, and often exceed the minimum of -10. Fanaticism and/or Sense of Duty are common, but not strictly required.

Finally, a Devoted Slave is an exceptional physical specimen. She must have above average physical traits, which may be superior Appearance, superior physical attributes (ST, DX or HT) or High Pain Threshold. The character should have at least 50 points worth of such traits.

Symbols

Color: Drab brown or iron grey

Regalia: Immodest clothing, the mark of the master (a sigil, a brand, etc), the mark of slavery (slave collars, chains, manacles, gladiatorial armor, etc)

Tools: The lash; chains; gladiatorial weaponry; the force sword

Locations: A prison; a torture chamber; a gladiatorial arena; in the presence of the master.

Opposing Paths: The Mystic Tyrant (Dark Communion) and the Bound Princess (True Communion): The Mystic Tyrant rules over the Slave, who must always obey the will of her master and thus always fall under his sway. The Bound Princess represents a voluntary surrender into service to others, while the Slave is a corruption of that value. As such, the Princess can purge the nature of the service, purifying it into something transcendent.

Opposed Path: The Beautiful Fool (Dark Communion). The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant forged the path of the slave explicitly to undermine the power of the Beautiful Fool, to help draw their rival cult, Domen Sefelina, into their circle of influence. The slave manages to succeed at that by turning slavery from something abhorrent and unnatural into a natural destiny for those who walk the path.

Milestones

  • The Devoted Slave chooses to indulge in an unrighteous passion, such as revenge or debauchery. The Master warns her against this course of action. She ignores him, and as a direct result of her choices, she finds herself facing dread consequences. The Master rescues her at the last moment, and the Devoted Slave acknowledges his wisdom and swears loyalty to him.
  • The Master commands the Devoted Slave to undertake a task she finds morally questionable (one that might have her kill a former friend, or betray a former organization). Nonetheless, she chooses to obey her master, and sheds her previous morality in favor of fulfilling her Master’s wishes. As a result, she achieves a great victory and gains enlightenment, understanding why her master wished to do this, and advances her spiritual/psionic power as a result.
  • While in the service of her Master, the Devoted Slave achieves a great success and gains access to a great power (a conquest, a legendary artifact, etc). The Devoted Slave faces the choice of keeping the power for herself and betraying her master, or sacrificing it to her master. If she does the former, she will fail before her master’s might and lose her great power. If she sacrifices her newfound power to her master, he will magnify it and return it to her. Either way, she remains under his power.
  • The Devoted Slave’s master faces certain death. Only the sacrifice of the Devoted Slave can save him. Thus, she binds herself and sacrifices herself to Death, and in so doing, saves her master’s life.


Corrupted Milestones

  • The master lies to the devoted slave about something deeply important to the devoted slave. At first, the devoted slave believes her master. An outsider (a long-lost ally to the devoted slave, or an enemy to the master) reveals the lie to the devoted slave, and overcomes her objections with irrefutable proof, thus convincing her of the Master’s duplicity and gaining a measure of her loyalty. The master will not learn of this event until it’s too late to do something about it.
  • If the Master takes his Devoted Slave into his intimate confidence (that is, brings her closer to him than is merely required by their professional relationship), the Devoted Slave will then be able to learn a secret that could destroy both her Master and the power structure he uses to support his regime. She does so and is able to keep her knowledge successfully hidden from her master. Should she choose to reveal it to another, her master will never learn of the betrayal until too late.
  • After a disagreement between the Master and the Devoted Slave, if the Master expresses his dominance by punishing the Devoted Slave and reminding the Devoted Slave that she will forever be bound to him, the devoted slave will realize that her only recourse for freedom is the death of her master. Should the Devoted Slave choose to strike her Master down, she will succeed in killing him. In his death throes, he scars her in some way, but after his death, she is freed.

Associated Talents

Allure: [5/level] (Lesser Primordial Expertise). Found in GURPS Power-Ups 3: Talents, on page 6(and GURPS Fantasy).

Craftiness: [5/level] (Lesser Primordial Expertise). Found in GURPS Power-Ups 3: Talents, on page 9 (and GURPS Action and Psis).

Natural Athlete: [10/level] (Greater Primordial Expertise). Found in GURPS Power-Ups 3: Talents, on page 13.

Associated Powers

Slavish Beauty

Reaction Required: Neutral

Learned Prayer Prerequisite: Dark Communion 4, Legendary Reputation (The Devoted Slave) 1

Learned Prayer Cost: 3 points

The character embodies those features and traits that those who see her wish to possess and control; Slavish beauty might emphasize the sexual desirability of a character to someone of the opposite gender, while it might emphasize the usefulness of the character as a gladiator, spy or laborer. In all cases, Slavish Beauty has the downside that people who witness it tend to react in a specific way: they will assist the character in an effort to get something from the character, or find a way to possess her.

Statistics: Appearance (Trascendent, Glamour Will-5%, Divine, Path -25%, Nuisance effect: induces desire to possess character -10%) [12];

Wisdom of the Master

Reaction Required: Neutral

Learned Prerequisite: Dark Communion 5, Legendary Reputation (The Devoted Slave) 1

Learned Prayer Cost: 4 points.

The Devoted Slave acts as her master’s hand, which means she must know the will of her master. Through this miracle, she may gain telepathic communication with her master, no matter how far away he is, communicating her current circumstances to him, and receiving whatever advice, orders or wisdom he wishes to project back to her.

Statistics: Mindlink (Master; Cosmic, Interstellar Distance +50%; Divine Path -25%) [7] + Mind Reading (Accessibility, Projected Thoughts Only -20%; Accessibility: Master Only -80%; Link +10%; Divine Path -25%) [6] + Telesend (Accessibility: Master Only -80%; Divine Path -25%; Link +10%) [6];

The Master’s Power

Reaction Required: Neutral

Learned Prerequisite: Dark Communion 6, Legendary Reputation (The Devoted Slave) 1

Learned Prayer Cost: 5 points.

Once per day, the Devoted Slave can draw upon the power of her Master. She is flooded with his glory and can achieve impressive, though not impossible, feats. This grants the Devoted Slave a one-time Psionic Energy reserve of 24, enough to allow for Godlike Extra Effort up to 12 times the power of the character's normal use of Extra-Effort. However, after the power has been used up, or an hour passes (whichever occurs first), the power is gone, and she may only access it to perform actions her master would approve of, and if she is in good standing with her master.

If this power is taken as a Learned Prayer, the Energy Reserve regenerate at a pace of one point per hour (thus, a full day to completely fill up again)

Statistics: Psionic Energy Reserves 24 (Divine Path -25%, Provided by Master -40%; Slow Recharge, 1 point/hour -20%, Nuisance: Can only be used when completely filled -10%) [24]

Strength from Pain

Reaction Required: Good

Learned Prayer Prerequisite: Dark Communion 7, Legendary Reputation (The Devoted Slave) 2

Learned Prayer Cost: 7 points

The master and his enemies often force the Devoted Slave through adversity and pain, but the Master knows that this is to strengthen his devoted slave. When faced with adversity, the Devoted Slave can reach deep into Communion and draw enormous physical strength from the wells of her own pain.

As Power of the Abyss (Enhanced) (Pyramid #3-36, page 11) but with the additional Path modifier, without DR 1, added High Pain Threshold, and it can only be activated when the Devoted Slave is in a crisis of some sort.

Statistics: Blessed 6 (Heroic Feats; Divine, Path -25%; Emergencies Only -30%) [27] + High Pain Threshold (Divine Path -25%, Emergencies Only -30%) [6];

Offering of Self

Reaction Required: Good

Learned Prerequisite: Dark Communion 8, Legendary Reputation (The Devoted Slave) 2

Learned Prayer Cost: 8 points.

By her nature, the Devoted Slave offers herself up to her master and to others to be used. By laying her hands upon another, she can take the wounds, afflictions and diseases of the other and bear it herself. In principle, this miracle is intended for the Master alone, but nothing prevents a Devoted Slave from using it on another.

Statistics: Healing (Cosmic, No Die Roll +100%; Divine Path -25%; Empathic -50%) [38]

Avatar Templates

Lesser Avatar of the Devoted Slave

Additional Point Cost: 0 points

The psion retains his own personality, but gains channels the skills associated with the Devoted Slave, becoming a physical specimen, mastering the art of seductive performance, and finding herself able to fade easily into the background and become whomever she needs to be to succed at her mission.

Statistics: In addition to the standard Lesser Avatar Template abilities, add the following traits: +3 Allure (Divine -0%) [15] and Optional Rule: Talent may exceed +4 [1]; +3 Craftiness (Divine -0%) [15] and Optional Rule: Talent may exceed +4 [1], +3 Natural Athlete (Divine -0%) [30] and Optional Rule: Talent may exceed +4 [1].

Greater Avatar of the Devoted Slave

Additional Point Cost: 12 points

The psion becomes the incarnation of the Devoted Slave. In addition to the typical, overwhelming power of any Communal Avatar, her aura and features blur into a terrifying, monstrously-beautiful visage, and she becomes an extension of her master. She is in constant contact with her master, who directly controls her actions (she has no say as to what she does). Additionally, she becomes physically far more powerful, gaining +2 ST, DX and HT (and, as a result, gains +1 Basic Speed and Basic Move) and gains +10 energy reserves, which allows her to gain two energy reserve points per turn!

Statistics: In addition to the standard Greater Avatar Template abilities, add the following traits: Appearance (Transcendent; Divine -0%, Universal +25%, Impressive, Glamour Will-5 -5%) [24], Terror (Divine -0%) [30]; Mindlink (Master; Cosmic, Interstellar Distance +50%; Divine Path -25%) [7]; +2 ST [20]; +2 DX [40]; +2 HT [20]; Mind Reading (Accessibility, Projected Thoughts Only -20%; Accessibility: Master Only -80%; Link +10%; Divine Path -25%) [6]; Telesend (Accessibility: Master Only -80%; Divine Path -25%; Link +10%) [6]; Psionic Energy Reserves 10 [30], Duty (to Master; Always; Involuntary; Extremely Hazardous) [-15], Slave Mentality (Directly Controlled) [-40].



The Prodigal Knight

Alternate Names: The Grey Knight; the Path of Infinite Paths; the Threshold Walker; the God of Thresholds; the God of Dawn and Dusk.

Revalis White remains a controversial figure among both the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant and the Knights of Communion in that he embodied the best of both philosophies and fundamentally betrayed both ideologies. Revalis preached a “path of infinite paths,” wherein he argued that enlightenment came from walking all paths and rejecting none. In so doing, he forged himself the path of the Prodigal Knight and his disciples followed him on this path-of-all-paths.

The Prodigal Knight accepts power and enlightnement from whatever source he can find it, which makes the path of the Prodigal Knight unique, in that it can be walked from any form of Communion: it may be a True Communion Path, a Dark Communion Path or a Broken Communion Path. If the walker of the path changes his form of Communion, this does not violate his Path! However, the nature of his miracles and their restrictions depend on the form of Communion he is currently attuned to: When using True Communion, he must adhere strictly to his morals; when using Dark Communion, his miracles are vulnerable to the miracles of Broken Communion; when he uses Broken Communion, his miracles all cause Corruption.

Prerequisites

As with all paths, following the Path of the Prodigal Knight requires an additional -5% pact modifier “Disciplines of Faith (Ritualism)”, representing how the character must spend every moment of his life carefully engaging in the symbolism of the Prodigal Knight.

Furthermore, the Prodigal Knight must have conflicting loyalties, or must explicitly have loyalties to none. Typically, this might manifest as enemies from two sides of a conflict, Duty of Sense of Duty to two opposing sides (or a Secret duty to a faction outside of the faction he serves), or Code of Honor, a Vow or some other self-imposed disadvantage that conflicts with the faction to which he belongs.

Symbols

Color: Grey or silver

Regalia: A hooded cloak; a mask; symbols from two clashing legacies

Tools: A force sword

Locations: Dusk or dawn; a repurposed historical site (such as a holy temple desecrated and claimed by an invader; a conquered capital, etc); a point where a character can have two feet, symbolically, in two different worlds (such as a doorway, with one foot “outside” and the other “inside.”); a road.

Opposing Paths: The Righteous Crusader (True Communion) and Madness (Broken Communion): The Righteous Crusader knows right from wrong and slays all of those who deviate. At his core, the Righteous Crusader exists to defeat the heresy of the Prodigal Knight. Madness is a risk that those who follow all paths always face, as they must internalize contradiction, and the result is that they become incomprehensible to others and, perhaps, even to themselves.

Opposed Path: The Mystic Tyrant (Dark Communion). The greatest weakness of the Mystic Tyrant is his refusal to accept the wisdom of others. The Prodigal Knight sees the value in the words of others tries to draw power from all sides, rather than just his own.

Milestones

  • The Moral Authority tasks the Prodigal Knight with overcoming some great crisis. On his quest, the Prodigal Knight discovers a forbidden secret, power or artifact that the moral authority has condemned. The Prodigal knight claims this forbidden power and uses it to overcome the great crisis.
  • The Enemies of the Moral Authority reveal to the Prodigal Knight the existence of forbidden secrets, powers or artifact that require morally abhorrent acts to gain and control. The Prodigal Knight acquires the forbidden power without violating his own moral code, revealing the flawed understanding of the Enemies of the Moral Authority.
  • The moral authority commands the Prodigal Knight to commit a morally abhorrent act, revealing the inherent hypocrisy within the moral authority. Rather than accept the command, the Prodigal Knight turns against the moral authority and destroys them.
  • The Prodigal Knight must contest with an opponent reminiscent of himself, but who lacks the moral flexibility of the Prodigal Knight, and thus the Prodigal Knight is able to use techniques that his opponent never would. Rather than destroy him, the Prodigal Knight spares his opponent.

Corrupted Milestones

  • The Prodigal Knight uncovers an important truth: He has gone mad. A forbidden power that he accepted tricked him when he accepted it, and has deluded him in some manner. At least one his previous milestones was a lie. Consumed by the forbidden power, the Prodigal Knight becomes a puppet to the dark power and metaphorically dies, or is destroyed by an enemy reminiscent of himself, but with less flexible morals.


Associated Talents

Truth Seeker: [5/level] (Lesser Primordial Expertise). Found in GURPS Power-Ups 3: Talents, on page 17.

Occultist: [10/level] (Greater Primordial Expertise). See section 2.

Associated Powers

Inured Mind

Reaction Required: Neutral

Learned Prerequisite: (Any) Communion 5; Legendary Reptuation (Prodigal Knight) 1.

Learned Prayer Cost: 4 points.

The Prodigal Knight, wisely or foolishly, fears nothing, as he has seen all things. With this blessing, the Prodigal Knight cannot be frightened, by anything, even soul-blasting terror. This power lasts for an hour, or until it protects the character from one fright check, whichever is longer.

Statistics: Unfazeable (Cosmic +50%, Divine Path -25%) [19]

Guide My Hand

Reaction Required: Good

Learned Prayer Prerequisite: (Any) Communion 7, Legendary Reputation (The Prodigal Knight) 2

Learned Prayer Cost: 7 points

As Guide My Hand (Pyramid #3-36, page 12) but with the additional Path modifier. This reflects the Prodigal Knights's aptitude with all weapons! Remember, Weapon Masters have exceptional defaults!

Statistics: Weapon Master (All; Divine, Path -25%) [34]

Psychic Nova

Reaction Required: Good

Learned Prerequisite: (Any) Communion 7; Legendary Reputation (Prodigal Knight) 2.

Learned Prayer Cost: 7

Once per day, the Prodigal Knight can draw upon the power of Dark Communion. It floods him with power, allowing him to achieve exceedingly impressive, though not impossible, feats. This grants the Prodigal KNight a one-time Psionic Energy reserve of 24, enough to allow for Godlike Extra Effort up to 12 times the power of the character's normal use of Extra-Effort... or whatever else the Psion likes. However, after the power has been used up, or an hour passes (whichever occurs first), the power is gone.

If this power is taken as a Learned Prayer, the Energy Reserve regenerate at a pace of one point per hour (thus, a full day to completely fill up again)

Statistics: Psionic Energy Reserves 24 (Divine Path -25%, Slow Recharge, 1 point/hour -20%, Nuisance: Can only be used when completely filled -10%) [33]

Aura of True Sight

Reaction Required: Very Good

Learned Prerequisite: (Any) Communion 10, Legendary Reputation (Prodigal Knight) 3.

Learned Prayer Cost: 14 points.

After making a successful Meditation roll, Communion allows the Prodigal Knight and his nearby disciples and allies to comprehend truth rather than to rely on the frail, faulty flesh of their eyes. In this state, the mystic and his allies can see invisible entities, and see through any illusion or deception. The Prodigal Knight may apply a -5 to his Meditation roll to expand the effect out to 4 yards away. On a failed meditation roll, the mystic can spend a point of fatigue (or psionic energy reserves) and try again on the next turn. This lasts for the remainder of combat, or an hour, whichever is shorter.

Statistics: Aura of True Sight (see Pyramid #3-19 page 10)

Dark Power of the Id

Reaction Required: Very Good

Learned Prayer Prerequisite: (Any) Communion 11, Legendary Reputation (The Prodigal Knight) 3

Learned Prayer Cost: 6 points

The Power of the Id flows through the Prodigal Knight, granting him access to any psychic ability! As a general or specific miracle, it grants the Prodigal Knight any psychic ability the GM sees fit and the skill to use, and it lasts for the duration of one particular task (that can be one roll, or one series of interrelated rolls at the GM's discretion). As a general rule, the point-cost of the new ability should be no higher than about ¼ the point-value of the Prodigal Knights’ Communion (about 20 points at (Any) Communion 11, or 50 points at (Any) Communion 16, etc). As a learned prayer, once per day, the Prodigal Knight may substitute a psychic power worth up to ¼ the value of his (Any) Communion for his (Any) Communion, and may use that power at IQ.

Statistics: Wild Talent (Aspect, Psionic only -20%, Divine, path -25%) [11], as alternative ability, and Unusual Background (May use Dark Communion as basis for Psychic Wildcard Power) [5], as a static trait.

Avatar Templates

Lesser Avatar of the Prodigal Knight

Additional Point Cost: 0 points

The psion retains his own personality, but gains channels the skills associated with the Prodigal Knight. He becomes a fearless warrior, able to use any weapon and any technique, and he excels at getting to the heart of any mystery, whether he seeks to bring a crime to light, or seeks to uncover a forbidden secret.

Statistics: In addition to the standard Lesser Avatar Template abilities, add the following traits: +3 Occultist (Divine -0%) [30] and Optional Rule: Talent may exceed +4 [1], +3 Truth Seeker (Divine -0%) [15] and Optional Rule: Talent may exceed +4 [1], Fearless +3 [6], Guide My Hand [39].

Greater Avatar of the Prodigal Knight

Additional Point Cost: 28 points

The psion becomes the incarnation of the Prodigal Knight. In addition to the typical, overwhelming power of any Communal Avatar, his aura and features blur into a terrifying, monstrously-beautiful visage, he brims with occult power (Gaining +10 energy reserves, which allows him to regenerate two energy reserve points per turn), and he and everyone within 2 yards of him can see the world as it truly is. However, he finds himself unable to prevent himself from remarking on the flaws in others’ ideologies, or blatantly engaging in offensive behaviors to the ideologies of those around him.

Statistics: In addition to the standard Greater Avatar Template abilities, add the following traits: Appearance (Transcendent; Divine -0%, Universal +25%, Impressive, Glamour Will-5 -5%) [24], Terror (Divine -0%) [30], Aura of True Sight [70]; Psionic Energy Reserves 10 [30]; Odious Personal Habit -2 (Heresy) [-10].

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