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Magical Pathway: The Cost of the Divine

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 With the fall of arcane magic in the wake of the Collapse came a rise of divine magic in some regions and societies.  In part this can be attributed to simply filling the void left by the departure of ubiquitous arcane magic - other theories abound.  One thing that is certain is that divine magic comes with it's own particular cost in the Dark Golden Age.

Clerics and Paladins

Clerics and Paladins must make a single powerful sacrifice when they gain a new level of divine spells  (i.e. when they first become able to cast level 2 spells, then level 3, and so on).  The sacrifice that the divine caster makes is based on her alignment.  The specifics of the sacrifice are up to the DM, though players should always have input.  The sacrifice should also always drive the story forward and create problems for the caster - it seems that part of the effectiveness of the sacrifice depends on it having a real, genuine cost to the player-character.  Characters who have alignments like Lawful Good can choose either a Lawful or a Good sacrifice.

Good

The caster must make a personal sacrifice for the betterment of others.  This sacrifice might most commonly be simply a large donation of land, goods, services and so on.  The sacrifice in question cannot be valued at less than the caster's level squared x50gp (450gp for level 3; 5000gp for level 10 and so on).  The caster and her family and friends and allies cannot benefit from this sacrifice - it must be made to strangers.

Conversely, you can do something more dramatic to help others - breaking dozens of slaves out of prison, driving a gang of ruffians out of town, etc.  If your actions result in combat encounters, you cannot benefit from them in any way - no loot, no gold, etc.  Your allies can, however.

Lawful

The caster must either establish a lasting lawful order in a particular place (found a court of law, build a jail and hire guards, build a library, etc.) or destroy a cause or source of chaos (bring master criminals to justice, break up a thieve's guild, humiliate a corrupt person in a position of power).  As above, the caster cannot benefit from these actions - no loot, no payment, etc.

Evil

The caster must do something truly awful that serves no other purpose than to hurt conscious beings.  Burning down an orphanage, slaughtering a family in public, destroying winter food reserves to ensure that a town starves.  You call yourself evil?  Prove it.

Chaotic  

The caster essentially does the opposite of what she would do in the case of making a Lawful sacrifice.  Establish a thieve's guild, destroy a jail and release the prisoners, trounce a group of bounty-hunters, so chaos and disorder in society.  Depending on your particular flavor of Chaotic, this chaos can either serve to free people or simply make their lives more difficult.

In call cases, the 'sacrifice' made by the divine caster should be consummate with her level and capabilities.  The sacrifice must be a genuine threat to the caster and must have a significant cost.  Again, it is up to the DM to determine what the sacrifice will be, with the players' input.  DMs are encouraged to use divine casters as story-engines for their games.

Druids and Rangers

The powers that Druids and Rangers serve do not seem to be so concerned with morality as such.  For these divine casters, their sacrifices must serve to empower nature at the cost of civilization.  A good example is to burn down a lumber mill with a prosperous town built around it.  Terrorize a hunting lodge so that hunters never come back.  Sow a field with fast-growing weeds or liberate huge herds of cattle or other domesticated animals.

Guildelines for Divine Sacrifices

Gold piece value: the caster's level squared x 50gp

Equivalent encounter: a CR equal to the caster's level +1 if aided by the other PCs or an opponent one (adjusted) level lower than the caster

Divine sacrifices only need to be made for level 2 and up spells in the case of Clerics and Druids (pure casters).  Paladins and Rangers still need to make sacrifices for their level 1 spells when they get access to them.

Until a sacrifice is successfully made, a divine caster does not gain access to her next level of spells.  She can still use those spell slots,  however, to prepare lower-level spells, or spells modified by metamagic Feats.

Divine casters can 'team up' to make a sacrifice as long as their alignments overlap on one axis (lawful good and chaotic good for example) and they must make a sacrifice according to the guidelines for the overlapping alignment they share (in the above case, good).