The Magic Economy

Recently, I looked at restrictions for religious development, and it sparked a bit of discussion.  The concept that ‘Income generated by a religious house should be used to further the aims of the deity’ hasn’t attracted much comment, and the little I have received has been positive.  However, it has led to a bit of a discussion on who should be building Temples and Churches, and who should be controlling the income they generate.

The Aims

So what do I want to achieve, first and foremost, I want to stop religious developments becoming a go-to tool for general income generation.  I also want to add more substance and flavour to my world, in a way that help PCs to build and Role Play as a part of the world – rather than as an outsider passing through.

For these purposes, a priest is a member of any Character Class who can cast divine spells.  Cleric, Druid, Oracle, Inquisitor, Adept, Paladin, Ranger etc.

Religious Developments for Income Generation

Religious developments are attractive in a lot of ways, they help balance Economy and then (as they develop) start to generate an income, through magic, that doesn’t need balancing, which has advantages over other developments.  That was done purposefully, to keep religious developments comparable with businesses and strongholds.  However, that ‘special’ income is generated by a priest’s commitment and promise to a deity, and the priests’ powers are dependent on the deity’s goodwill.  A priest who doesn’t follow their deity’s philosophies falls out of favour, and is liable to lose their spells and other divine abilities.  Sure, most DMs are fairly generous in their interpretation of PC actions –  but we are a lot less generous in our interpretation of NPC actions  :}

The implication of this, is that NPC priests NEED to stay on the right side of their deity, and NEED to make sure they are promoting the deity’s philosophy – or else they will lose their divine powers, and they won’t be priests any more.  And, let’s face it, Adepts with no spells are about as useful as a Commoner.  NPC priests will insist that money they generate is used to promote their deity’s philosophies.

Role Playing 1

Just about every fantasy world is polytheistic, there are lots of different deities and, generally, only divine casters are required to choose one deity (or philosophy) as a patron.  Most characters get along in life by making offering, donations and prayers to which every deity is convenient at the time – and that is a very reasonable approach to a polytheistic setting.  If you are going on a journey?  Make an offering to the patron of travellers.  Setting up a business?  Make an offering to the patron of trade and commerce.  Your father just passed away?  Call in a priest of a Psychopomp but, if you can afford it, you will have to donate something.  Even priests with a Patron Deity follow the same philosophy – when it falls outside the Patron Deities area of interests.

I don’t want to stop PCs from developing a religious side of their character, nor do I want to stop PCs from supporting or making significant offerings to a deity – or even two or three deities. That is good role-playing.  I can see that a wealthy PC might want the blessings of a deity, or two, on a regular basis – and the easy way to achieve that is to build a shrine, of some sort, to the deity.   However, except at the most basic level, that isn’t a commitment to further the deity’s philosophies.

So religious buildings that do not produce Magical Items (Hermitages, Shrines, Great Shrines & Graveyards) should be available for anyone to develop.  It is a nod in the deity’s direction, recognizes the deity as important to the character.  It also gets the character regular blessings, leaves the character in good standing  and brings that deity a little more influence in the world. However, it doesn’t tie the PC to the deity in any significant way, nor does it really advance the deity’s agenda.

Some characters, without divine abilities, might want to take a deity as their patron, or promote a deity’s philosophies, however that implies commitment, and the PC needs to role-play that commitment.   The entourage rules provide a good way of doing t good way of doing this, by allowing the PC to take a priest as an entourage member.  It is worth noting that a character’s entourage includes squires, cohorts and other followers generated by feats as well as those defined within the entourage rules.

PCs can have quite a large entourage, so this isn’t a particularly onerous requirement.  However, the priest must select a deity or philosophy to follow – and this will affect the way they expect their employer to behave.   Which brings us back to the PC role-playing their commitment to the deity.

Role Playing 2

Two things underlie this section – World Demographics and Economic crunch.

When I build a world, I use a slightly unusual demographic mix.  It doesn’t quite match with the data published in the book, but it seems to match quite closely with the level spread that I have seen in publish modules.  Most Characters who only have NPC classes max out at level 5 and secondary characters with PC classes tend to max out at around level 10.  There are exceptions, of course.  PCs will face higher level enemies, and they will meet ex-adventurers that are higher level.  Most won’t quite match a PC in terms of power and ability, but they will be much closer.  A very few, generally antagonists, will be a match for the PCs, some will be more powerful.  There will be more powerful monsters – but normal, civilized, humanoid NPCs aren’t a match for the PCs.  That is what makes the PCs special and the focus of the game :]

However, it means that Entourages and even Cohorts are not as ‘special’ as PCs, and they will all be lower level than the PC.

By Economic Crunch, I am thinking of the rules around crafting magical items.  Even the smallest shrines encourage donations by casting spells, performing ceremonies and helping the local people out.  That just goes towards the running costs of the shrine.  Many of those ‘donations’ will be food, clothes, good will, bundles of firewood etc  – although there will be some coin involved. However, that isn’t enough to make a profit or serious income for that the priests need to make and sell magic items – and that means characters with feats, and the appropriate levels to gain them.  So a quick look at the rules …

  • At level 3 most priests have the option to take Brew Potion or Craft Wondrous –  both of which are capable of producing items in the Minor Items list.
  • At level 5 Craft Arms and Armour and Craft Wand are available, and it is possible to craft in the Medium Items list.
  • At level 7 Forge Ring is available, and it is possible to craft items in the Major Item lists as well.  Only a very few of the lowest value Items  – BUT they are in the Major Items list.

Note:  I decided that Scrolls aren’t sufficient to generate an income for a religious house.  Priestly scrolls are useful, but only to other priests.

So, looking at that in terms of the religious developments available :-

  • No Magic Income: Shrine, Great Shrine, Graveyard  and their variants.  These can be built by any character without restrictions.
  • Minor Magic Developments: Holy House, Chapel, Holy Grove and variants. The PC is CL3 in a divine casting class, or they have an entourage member at CL3.  This class of building becomes available to PCs between L3 (PC) and L8 (Cohort ranger/paladin).  The development MUST follow the philosophy of the PC/Entourage’s deity.  
  • Medium Magic Developments: Priory, Temple, Abbey, Minster and variants. The PC is CL5 in a divine casting class, or they have an entourage member at CL5.  This class of building becomes available to PCs between L5 (PC) and L10 (Cohort ranger/paladin, Entourage-Assistant Adept).  The development MUST follow the philosophy of the  PC/Entourage’s deity.  
  • Major Magic Developments: Cathedral or variants.  This is much more restricted than other religious developments, as cathedrals are such iconic and important places, on top of that Bishops are very influential people and Deities only want the best people to serve their most prestigious houses.  The PC, or their cohort, must be CL 7 in a full divine casting class – Cleric, Druid, Oracle or Inquisitor.  The development MUST follow the philosophy and style of the  PC/Cohort’s deity.  

FAQ

OK, no one has asked any real questions yet, but it is as good a name as any.

What about the current game world?

We have what we have.   I am not going to take anything away from anyone. 

Going Forward?

I want to see religious developments funding the deity’s philosophies and interests.  Use the religions section at the Pathfinder Wiki  to look at Areas of Concern, Worshippers, Domains and Sub-Domains to work out the sort of things the Church funds are good for.  There is an awful lot of scope there. However, I intend to apply those changes to any new religious developments.

Can I roll my developments back?

Yes. If you want to, we can roll any religious developments back to Great Shrine, and I will refund the extra purchase cost.

What do you mean by Entourage?

Unless specified otherwise, Entourage Member means: Entourage Assistant; Entourage Cousin; Entourage Ally; Cohort or any other follower attained by spending a feat.


Other developments that produce magic

There has also been a suggestion that I should impose the same sort of limits on developments that add to the Magic Economy, although the case for that is not so clear-cut.

The Master Crafter feat allows characters of non-caster classes to create magic items at level  5, although that requires retraining an existing feat to an item creation feat.  Demographically there are also a number of CL3 casters around  (mainly adepts of L3 of L3 and above) who are capable of creating magic items, and many of them are not tied to a religious philosophy.  This means that Exotic Craft workshops can create Minor Magic Items and shops can buy them from ‘anonymous’ NPCs (unnamed NPCs without character sheets) so no restriction at Minor Magic level.

Luxury stores and large markets import goods from many places, where there are higher level casters creating items that they need to sell.  There are also items that PC parties collect while they are adventuring and then sell for cash.   So there isn’t a reason to impose restrictions on them. 

However, Casters Tower, Great Tower, Magic Academy and University – all imply research or creation of medium and major magical items.  I am tempted to restrict those to having a CL5 character as a patron/owner for Medium Magic, and CL7 for Major Magic, creation.

Business and Trading Reports.

Business and Trading Reports for the Stolen Land. As the rules on Cross-Border trade and development are progressing, I needed to think about how they would be applied across the game. There areas that could be ripe for trade, at some point – the Lebeda holding at Silver Hall, Stonewall and even Nikvata’s Crossing – BUT those aren’t on the agenda at the moment.

River Kingdoms

Mivon (Large City)

Political: Mivon is controlled by eight major houses and their allies, who run the city for their own benefit.  In their view, everyone else is lucky to receive their protection, and can pay for that privilege.  There is a large premium (1bp) for developments in the Central District.

Risks:  Mivon is not well patrolled, various Aldori Houses vie for the right to patrol the city, and they patrol the upper city regularly –  although you can never be quite sure of who will be on patrol and their outlook on life.  The lower part of the city, ins not patrolled by the Aldori, and in the control of various gangs.  So long as they don’t encroach on Aldori territory, the patrols leave them alone.

Tax Rate: High

Jovvox  (Small Town)

Political: A small town dominated by Gnomes.  They are aware that expansion will bring in more members of the larger races, and they want to keep things small, compact and primarily Gnomish.  Getting permission to build here is difficult, and will always be restricted.

Risk: Inconsistent government, via and ‘open’ council where every member of the community can take part in decision-making.

Tax: Medium

Brevoy

New Stetven (Metropolis)

Political:  Since the Surtova took over, trading here has become less profitable – Favoured Status goes to those who support The Surtova.  They charge a premium (0.5bp) for developments in the city, which even long-term residents pay.  It is believed that the Surtova are protecting their Port Ice trade routes.

Risks: The river route along the East Sellen through the Hooktongue Slough and beyond has become more difficult in recent years.  Pirate numbers have declined, but attacks by monsters and monstrous humanoids has increased.  Many merchant houses  use armed vessels to improve their chances of getting through.

Tax rate:  Very High.

Brundeston (Large Town)

Political:  Run by members of the Al Golka clan of dwarves, to serve as the new Dwarf Home, to replace the mines and holdings in the Golushkin Mountains (Gray Haven) that ‘disappeared’.  Leaders of Dwarf Clans are favoured Developers.  Humans may be given ‘Standard’ investment rates to provide services the Dwarves need, but other developments are restricted.  Somewhat isolationist.

Risk:  Very Little.  Stable government and a secure area. 

Tax: Medium High

Eastern Region

The Eastern Region is a political alliance between East Rostland, Restov and House Khavortorov.  They share a Chapter of the Brevic Order, in the same way as the Southern States do, but it is unclear whether this arrangement will last, nor quite how the three power groups will work together in the longer term.  Both Restov and House Khavortorov seem concerned that East Rostland will simply swamp them.

Restov (Large City)

Political:  There has been little change in the City Council’s makeup, since Lady Jamandi was made Countess of East Rostland, but the balance of power has shifted towards a more conservative philosophy favoured established businesses.  There is some concern that they will become less influential as Lady Jamandi takes full control of East Rostland. The Mayor and Advocate are both from merchant families, and any Merchant House wishing to get established will be in direct competition with them.  There is a 0.5bp premium for developments inside the city walls.  Part of the Eastern Region.

Risk: The city is patrolled by independent Guard units associated with the most powerful faction in a district.  However, the Guard Unit is consistent and follows the same philosophy every day.  There is a risk of hot-headed young duellists fighting in the street.

Tax Rate: Medium.

Sway (Small Town)

Politics:  Owned by House Khavortorov, Sway is a satellite town to their main holdings at the Khavortorov Citadel, it sits on the New Steven road and provides access to many of the small estates in central Rostland. There is some concern that they will become less influential as Lady Jamandi takes full control of East Rostland. House Khavortorov get favoured development rates while everyone else is treated as an outsider, and only given limited development permission.  Part of the Eastern Region.

Risk:  Low.  Stable government and a secure area, although with political concerns about their neighbours. 

Tax: Medium

Sirian  (New Town)

Politics:  Set on the Restov/Brundeston road this destined to be the capital of East Rostland – the county created for Lady Jamandi Aldori after the recent ‘disagreements’.  The town is still very new, and it is not yet clear how it will develop. Part of the Eastern Region.

Risk:  Lady Jamandi’s rule is not yet fully established.  There is still contention with The Surtova, nor has everyone within her new County acted her rule.  It could be in for turbulent times.

Tax Rate: Low

The Colonies

The Southern Region

The Southern Region is a political alliance between Midmarch, Tusk and Old Keep.  They share a Chapter of the Brevic Order, in the same way as the Eastern States do.  The political position in Midmarch, is well known. 

MidMarch:

Tusk:

Old Keep: Old Keep has broken ranks with the rest of The Southern Region and has a Medium Tax rate, which leads to commercial profitability of 0.4bp.  Lady Zelona  has stated that Old Keep will stay a rural and wilderness estate, and as such she wants to encourage investors who will help promote those aims by accepting a lower return rate.

Others

The two other colonies remain independent and are not part of a regional organisation.

Fort Drelev

Politics:  The original settlement was sponsored by The Surtova, Lebeda and Khavortorov, although Surtova are the most influential patrons by far. However, Baron Drelev’s reputation has diminished as trade south via the East Sellen has fallen. 

Risk:  Is in danger of becoming a dead-end trade route.

Tax: Very High.

Varnhold

Varnhold is not currently trading.  This is under investigation.

Cross Border Trade and Development II

I have been thinking about trading and development across borders again and realized that the system that I have put in place is complicated and doesn’t really use the rules that I already have in place effectively.  The current system uses the cash values of BP, then ‘sort of’ tied that in with the difference in values between BPs in different size settlements, and the portability of some resources, such as boats and soldiers, and it just gets complicated.

I already have two variables that I can use:  Purchaser Status (Preferred; Standard & Outsider) and tax rate –  It would be simple, and more sophisticated, to use those two  variables alone.  I will also standardize the mechanic of Taxable Vessels, which I have already introduced for the Community Pier and Serai, so that it applies across the board.

Why now?  Because a number of people are starting to ask questions about it –  quite legitimately, and I want a relatively standard system that I can apply consistently.  So far it has all been worked out on a case-by-case basis.

Those changes allow me to restrict the build of Religious Developments so that the income is used for religious purposes, rather than running a business or a holding.  A couple of people have already gone down that route (which has helped me identify the issue) – their existing holdings won’t be affected, but it won’t be available in future. 

Developing across borders

We have been fiddling about with PCs only being able to ‘cash in’ specific things to facilitate developments abroad – which is a pain for all concerned.  It means the PC has to optimize their holdings for cash generation, rather than business interests, and it means I have to check every example carefully –  not something that is good for me, the PC or the game.  These rule changes will mean that the PC can ‘cash in’ all their income to develop abroad, if they like.  However, it won’t be a straight equal value exchange.  PCs will pay a premium to move BP from one location to another. 

It was always my intention that it would be more easy to develop in areas where you are well known and influential –  but tougher in other areas.  I was hoping to use Influence to modify those costs, BUT that has proved much too difficult to implement, and very time-consuming to maintain the influence records.

This system lets me vary rates according to the stance of the New settlements rulers, and supports Role Playing.  Adoven, for example, has already negotiated deals that allow him to trade in Jovvox and Mivon –  although growth in both of those places will be slower and less profitable than in Tusk/Midmarch.  However, the associated benefits, such as trade routes, base income and stability, should make up for that.

Investment costs

The PC can ‘cash in’ their income to use when developing and use the ‘Development Costs List’ below.  These cost represent fees, licences, compensation and other similar costs associated with the development of new businesses.  Most settlements choose to favour their own business owners, at the expense of incomers.

These tables will be used by NPC states and will normally be followed quite strictly.  In some cases a ‘dispensation’ for a lower rate might be agreed, IF the development suits the needs of the settlement.   It will probably be tied to a specific development.

PC controlled states can charge what they like, when they like.  Some settlements in Southern Region, those particularly keen on expansion, choose not to charge any fees at all – in effect granting a blanket dispensation.  Other states work more closely to this list.

Examples of Dispensations

V&A have a ‘dispensation’ in Jovvox –  they can expand at Preferred Rates inside their Hamlet, although they must ‘balance’ the Hamlet in terms of Econ, Loy & Stab.  However,  they may not develop anything outside that hamlet. 

DELEM had a dispensation in Restov – permission to build a Town Base at Standard Rates, rather than Outsider rates.  It is limited to the town base, and DELEM may not expand to a City Base.  Other developments are permitted at Outsider Rates.

NOTE:  Dispensations are agreed on a case-by-case basis – and will differ between settlements.

Investment Costs Table

  • Preferred investors – are people who have a special relationship with the settlement’s rulers, they pay 0.5bp social development contribution per point of Economy.
  • Standard investors – The normal residents of the settlement, pay 1bp social development contribution per point of Economy.
  • Outside investors – Anyone coming from outside the settlement, pays 1.5bp social development contribution per point of Economy.  Using BP generated at the settlement, by a development owned by an outsider.
  • Externally Funded – Any development that is even part funded by BPs generated  from outside the ‘state’, costs 2bp social development contribution per point of Economy.  (this is represents Outsider Rate, plus a small premium to represent moving the resources about)

Vessels, Mules etc are still portable and can be purchased at the normal rate, then moved to a new site.  For example, Shallops can be purchased from the Boatyard in Tusk, at their normal price, and then sailed down to Jovvox or Mivon.  Mules could be purchased (at the normal rate) from Zora’s ranch and moved to Restov.  They do not attract ‘outsider’ costs.  Example:  V&A can but Fishing Boats in Tusk and sail them down to Mivon, for use there, without paying an extra fee.

Taxes

The ‘standard’ tax rate for Midmarch was set so that one point of economy  earns 0.5bp per year – however, that is a very generous rate, and other settlements do not  match it.  Some might not even have the same tax rate for different categories of Investor.  (NOTE:  I am not going to deal with different tax rates for different classes of investor in Midmarch or PC managed settlements – it really screws up my spreadsheets!)

Tax rates are higher in Mivon, Jovvox and Restov – which means lower profitability for businesses –  which leads to slower growth.  My first thought are 0.4bp income per point of Econ in Restov and Jovvox, 0.3bp per point of Econ in Mivon.

Why that huge difference?  Midmarch was a ‘boom’ economy,  a whole state that was being built from scratch –   it needed investors, and it needed them quickly.  Tusk took that tax rate on, they have always had the option to change it, if they  wanted to.

Jovvox and Restov are both well established settlements, they are more interested in protecting their own interests and their own investors, that encouraging new comers –  and they are both Chaotic settlements, although they have a settled hierarchy.  Mivon is even more different, it is Chaotic, and it is run by a self-interested group of nobles – Mivon’s Great Aldori Houses.  Those guys are only interested in themselves, anyone else is there on sufferance and is expected to pay through the nose for the privilege. 

In other places the tax rate will be higher, and the income per point of Econ even lower – rumour has it that the tax rates in New Stetven is so high that businesses rarely make more that 0.25bp  per year, per point of Econ!

Tax RateProfitability 
   
Very High0.25New Stetven
High0.3Mivon
Medium High0.35Brundeston
Medium0.4Restov, Jovvox, Sway
Low0.45 
Vey Low0.5Midmarch, Tusk

Untaxed Items

Currently, Vessels and trade caravans are considered as Untaxed and don’t count towards the Balance that settlements need to maintain.  That is not going to change, it is one of the perks of  Merchant Houses –  however, it is going to be reflavoured.

Rather than Untaxed, they will become Permit Free.  In other words, Merchants do not need to seek permission (or pay extra costs) to vessels or Trade Caravans operating from their Jetty, Serai etc.

They will however, be taxed.  This means that Vessels and Trade Caravans have the same profitability as the rest of the business  (ie 0.5 in Low Tax areas, 0.3 in high tax areas etc).  It is also a win for the people who manage the settlements –  as I will modify their income to reflect this extra tax generated by vessels operating from the town.

Religious Developments

That gives me an opportunity to ‘fix’ religious development.  It was always my intention that Religious Developments should be used to promote the philosophies of the deity involved, rather than be a ‘settlement’ or ‘business’ development tool.  Settlements have their own lists (Defence, Social) development lists.  Merchant Houses, which represent the ‘pinnacle’ of business development, have all sorts of development advantages that can be leveraged to improve their profitability. I would like to see religious developments have a similar ‘specialist’ flavour to them, it helps to enhance the RP flavour of the world.

I intend to restrict religious developments, so that non-priests are limited to building shrines and great shrines only.  That allows PCs to Role-play a religious devotion to their deity but means they can’t use the income generated by Deity’s favour to fund their own developments – without some sort of commitment to the deities ideals.

Once the PC reaches Level 6 (or above) they can take an Entourage Cousin/Ally, who will be able to build larger religious establishments.  However, the Cousin/Ally will expect the income generated from Church premises to be spent on their Deity’s agenda, rather than their PC patron’s.

NOTE: Some PCs have already built Holy Houses without meeting the Priestly requirement, and I won’t take those away from the PC.  However, in future, I will expect the income to be used to advance the Deity’s interests.

A deity’s agenda is defined by their: Areas of Concern; Worshippers; Domains and Subdomains – or something that can be clearly associated with the deity.  You can find the listed in the entries at the Pathfinder Wiki.   https://pathfinderwiki.com/wiki/Portal:Religion

That still gives you a lot of scope to develop.  Pharasmin orders might concentrate on Graveyards, Fighting Undead or The Circle of Life.  As well as Dwarves, metalworkers and the other things listed, I find the line ‘Many of his followers are architects, artisans of all stripes, or military planners. He is also popular among guards and city watchmen, who pray to him for protection’  in his description.  There is lots of ways you can interpret that.

The same is true of  the other deities –  BUT I do expect you to be able to make a case for the philosophy and to be reasonably consistent in your interpretation of it.   

Some obvious examples include: taverns and breweries for Cayden; schools, libraries or courthouses etc for Andoletta; defensive structures or sword-schools for Acavna; markets, banks and shops for Abadar; anything to support rural life for Erastil; natural things for The Green Faith.  However, there are many other things that work just as well.

Placement can benefit the PC –  for example Mother Beatrix supports Henry’s objectives and often builds in places that benefit them.  Lutz Stigmar, has agreed to support House Aeris in their development and Brother Gandred is committed to Ringbridge and House Lebeda-Ondari’s estates and  Maril will support developments in wilderness areas that are part of Old Keep.

Addendum

I knew I had forgotten something! I need to add an extra cost for building in Prime Areas. For example, Tusk might charge 1bp per point of Building size for buildings inside the Inner Walls, and 0.5bp for buildings between the two walls.

The Church of Pharasma

Pharasma has become one of the chief deities in The Stolen Lands. Her faith is widespread and there are three different religious organisations dedicated to her and, as such, is probably overdue for consideration.  According to the Pathfinder Wiki

“The Lady of Graves”, Pharasma is the goddess who shepherds Golarion’s recently-departed souls to their final reward. Upon death, souls migrate via the River of Souls to Pharasma’s Boneyard in the Outer Sphere, which sits atop an impossibly tall spire that pierces the Astral Plane.Pharasma makes no decision on whether a death is just or not; she views all with a cold and uncaring attitude, and decides on which of the Outer Planes a soul will spend eternity. Pharasma is also the goddess of birth and prophecy: from the moment a creature is born, she sees what its ultimate fate will be, but reserves final judgement until that soul finally stands before her. As the goddess of death and rebirth, she abhors the undead and considers them a perversion.

However, there are many ways that her faith is interpreted by her priests in the mortal world and there is no overall Church of Pharasma that provides rules and guidance  that must be followed.  Each order or chapters of Pharasmin priests finds its own way to celebrate Pharasma’s philosophy, and finds the path that best suits them and their parishioners.  However, there are a number of different ways that The Gray Lady might be honoured.

High Pharasmin

The great Pharasmin Cathedrals and Abbeys are often involved in the pomp and circumstance of faith, they spread the word and provide services based around birth and death, and form the touchstone of the Formal Faith.  However, many support smaller community houses and Chantries, located in suburbs, towns and villages, that provide support to their local communities.  After all, people are born, live and die the whole world over –  not just in cities.  However, the main abbey or Cathedral  keeps a central record of Births and Deaths that have happened in their area of influence.

Community Pharasmin

Many towns and villages have little more than a graveyard or shrine, or (in some cases) just a lone priest dedicated to the Lady of Graves, who may be the only clerical representative (of any faith) in a community.  They still perform the core functions as a new soul is born into the world, and when they ‘travel on’ at the end of their days – however their register of Births and Deaths often includes entries on marriages and other important community events.

Chantry Houses

Sometimes, for the sake of the living, it is important to memorialize the dead – especially if the die far away from home or without a proper burial.  Many people believe that while a departed soul is  remembered, its path to the afterlife and its continued existence are made easier and more comfortable – and the priests of Pharasma encourage this belief.    It might help the soul, but it certainly helps keep Pharasma in the minds of those left behind, and it often helps spread the faith.  Most Chantry houses keep lists of their ‘patrons, and recite the names of the departed at least once a day, thereby ‘remembering’ the individual.   Wealthier individuals pay to have a small plaque placed on a wall, or the departed one’s name inscribed in stone.  The wealthiest might have a whole chantry dedicated to their noble family …

Militant Orders

Priests of Pharasma abhor undead.  In their eyes undeath breaks the Circle of Life and should be stamped out as quickly as possible.  While most provide the basic Pharasmin services, but rather than being politically or Community focussed, the Militant Orders concentrate on the destruction of undead.  Many junior priests serve as Crypt Guards, patrolling Crypts and Graveyards, searching out signs of undead infestations and trying to identify the potential source.  Higher ranking priests deal with the infestation and actively search out undead, knowing that, once they have been destroyed, the Circle of Life will be re-established.

The Voices of the Spire are a good example of a Militant Order which is, like many others, led by an Inquisitor.   Militant Orders often have their own Favoured Weapon, such as Maces or Flails, that are acceptable alternatives to the deity’s preferred weapon of a dagger.  After all, a dagger is not a particularly effective weapon for the destruction of the undead.

Philosophical Orders

Some orders believe that following a specific lifestyle, or philosophy, aids the soul in their afterlife.   However, the philosophies vary widely from Order to Order but the Priests all seem to be in Pharasma’s grace (and receive their Spells/Powers) so it appears that Pharasma  has no particular favourites amongst them.

Pharasmin Penitence is one example of such an order.

In the Stolen Lands

Pharasma is an important Deity in The Stolen Lands game.  She was introduced right from the start as the Patron Deity of  Lord Henry (my main NPC) because I wanted a non-intrusive ‘church’ that I could use to support PCs as they grew.  However, she also suited Henry’s family background and fits with my tendency to create True Neutral NPCs.

Order of the Soul Spiral

The Soul Spiral represents High Pharasmin and Community Pharasmin rolled into one.  It is overseen by Abbess Beatrix leMaistre (NPC) who is the  cousin Lord Henry leMaistre – The Ruler of Midmarch.  Mother Beatrix runs the Order from her abbey in Tusk (The  Regional Capital), there is a priory at Newgate and graveyards (or similar) in six other towns or villages.  Initially funded by Lord Henry, The Soul Spiral is now self-sufficient, and its expansion is driven by income generated from its religious sites. While Mother Beatrix supports her cousin, her finances are separate from his.

The Order of the Soul Spiral offers all the ‘mainstream’ services that you would expect from a Pharasmin Order.  Graveyards are always attended by a priest who records births and deaths as well as help with funeral services.  Great Shrines, and larger buildings, all have graveyards or small crypts, and normally offer midwifery services as well.  Rumours are that Mother Beatrix wants to add a chantry at Kunlun soon.

Body and Soul

Body and Soul is a philosophical order overseen by the Priest Ethankos. Unlike Pharasmin Penitence, Ethankos believes that all souls are judged equally by The Gray Lady, regardless of the suffering that they have undergone here on earth – and that the afterlife is influenced  by the previous behaviour, rather than it’s suffering.  As a man who enjoys life’s comforts, Ethankos is determined to share that delight in life with others.  He understands that death is part of the Circle, but so is life – and life should be lived to the fullest, while you still have it.

Based from a Holy House in Fey Falls, Body and Soul already has an Eating House and Shrine in Kunlun, and expects to expand to other settlements soon.

A Militant Order?

Next comes the question of what a Militant Order dedicated to Pharasma  should look like, from what I can see the various wiki descriptions are suitable vague and don’t have enough detail to base anything on.  About the only thing of value is that the leader of The Voices of the Spire is an Inquisitor.   However, there is already a militant order, of Iomedae, based in Tusk.  Led by two ex-PCs it boasts a Holy House, a Sword School and a Library – the Holy House provides a religious base, the Sword School delivers the military training and the Library provides specialist knowledge on their roles in society (etc) and that seems like a reasonable model to follow.   

Graduates from Iomedae’s Mission are mainly warriors with the Equerry Archetype with the very best going onto become Paladins.

However, that doesn’t provide a home for the two principal investors, and (since it became an NPC establishment)  I have been managing it as a low income, slow growth type of organization.  Its one foray outside of Tusk has been to build a watchtower with a shrine dedicated to Iomedae in Kunlun (the religious centre) for The Southern Region.  Future plans only extend to building decent homes for the NPC principals – then it will be time to think again – however, expansion will always be basic and low income.

A Militant Order for Pharasma, with an Inquisitor at the head –  could well follow the same structural lines –  although as it will be home to a PC, it should probably be a Priory, Sword School and Library.  Graduates might be warriors or, perhaps more suitably, Adepts with the Military Chaplain archetype –  basically Adepts with better armour than most others –  The best going on to become Inquisitors.  Maces could be their ‘Favoured Weapon’ – it is usable by Adepts and Inquisitors –  and fits well with the traditional (D&D style) undead killer.  Even now the archetypical D&D weapon for hunting undead is a Mace of Disruption –  and the Disruption Magic Weapon Ability, can only be placed on a bludgeoning weapon.

Expansion Paths for the order, should probably be Holy Houses with a watchtower attached – that generates an Income, has a Def Point to represent the Specialist Fighting Priests, but still gives Stab ad Loy bonuses to help the settlement owner keep everything in balance.