Replacing Alignment Part 2 & In-Game Astrology

In my last post, I talked about replacing the Alignment system in D&D (or my campaign setting of Brittanis, at least) with a list of Character Values that resonate through the entire setting. Keep in mind this is a setting influenced by the Arthurian and Celtic myth cycles, so everything has a very chivalrous/code of conduct bent to it already.

Note: Yes, these are deliberately VERY vague and open to interpretation in a myriad of ways. They are designed to be potent, base-level assumptions about the world and thus are truly beyond good and evil. They simply are. That’s part of what I love about this kind of a system: two players can write “Prowess” on their character sheets and come about it from two very different, even diametrically opposite, views– but both of those players know that the accumulation of power in some form is of importance to the character. Also, it’s entirely possible to take one of these precepts and claim it as a kind of “anti” value, meaning the character knows of the tenet and actively chooses to flout it. Either way it bears a significant influence on the character’s choices and actions.

  • All player characters must choose at least three Precepts for their character. The character cannot take more than one as inverted. If a character chooses an inverted precept it must be designated before play begins and cannot be changed without permission of the GM.
  • All devout followers of a god or primordial must choose at least two Precepts in conjunction with their patron. This also applies to some followers of powerful Primal spirits.

The Twelve Precepts

Ages ago, after the Dawn War was finished, the gods prepared to withdraw from the mortal realm. They knew that in their absence the mortal races would have no connection to the Celestial Realms, no access to the mighty power of the Astral Sea. Thus, before they abandoned the world to its devices, they allied themselves together and each spoke words of celestial power into the earth. These words carried immeasurable mystic power, and the gods bound these sigils into the essence of Sarai, the Primordial who had bound her energy into the world in order to save it. Thus, these words of power have resonated through the mortal realm since the beginning.

Scholars believe that when the ancient elven race was exiled from Faerie into the mortal realm, it was these ancient Deep Magics that caused so many to go mad in those first years–the conflict of the Deep Magic writing itself into their being when it the elves had not experienced it before. The Twelve Precepts are embedded deep in everything that draws life, and especially those creatures that have a soul. Whether they know it or not on a conscious level, all sentient creatures native to Brittanis are influenced by the Deep Magic in myriad ways–at times overt, but most often a subtle, soft push here and there.

Prowess: Seek excellence in all endeavors. Perfection, even if unattainable, should be your goal always. Gain strength, knowledge, and power in order to increase yourself towards your goals.

Justice: The words that issue from your mouth are your bond. Ensure always that you hold true to what you say. Regardless of personal interest, ensure that contracts are honored and bonds remain unbroken. Recognize that justice can be terrible, but it is that which keeps us from true chaos.

Loyalty: Be known for unwavering commitment to the people and ideals you choose to live by. There are many places in life where compromise may be needed. Loyalty is not among them.

Defense: Seek always to defend that which you hold allegiance to, whatever or whoever it may be–your nation, your lord, your family, your companions, and those whom you believe worthy of loyalty.

Courage: Courage means choosing the more difficult path, the personally expensive one. It is the choice that something else is more important to you than fear. Be prepared to make personal sacrifices in service of the precepts and people you value. Courage is choosing the hard and difficult path and walking past the easy, expedient path.

Faith: Whatever your belief, hold true to it. Do not require evidence or proof of your belief, but instead keep the truth of your belief close to you and guard it well. Keep the tenets of your faith and walk in the protection of that power.

Humility: Place value upon the contributions of others. Do not boast of your own accomplishments–if you wait, others will do this for you. Tell the deeds of others before your own, according them the renown rightfully earned through deeds.

Largesse: Be generous insofar as your resources allow. Place the needs of others before your own. The needs of the community are greater than those of any one being. To hoard your resources– be it skill, knowledge, or wealth– weakens all those around you.

Nobility: Seek stature, magnificence and superiority above others. It is the duty of those with the strength to lead to do so in the best way possible, for the masses will never lead themselves. Through leadership over others you can influence the world around you towards greatness.

Principle: When in doubt as to a course of action, hold to your beliefs first before all other considerations. Your ethics and beliefs are motives unto themselves and they will carry you through moments of trial so long as you rely on them and live in them. Follow your beliefs to their conclusion always.

Franchise: Strive to succeed in all situations. Seek achievement always, no matter the circumstance, for attaining one goal empowers the acquisition of the next goal. Do not restrict your exploration to a small world, but seek to infuse every aspect of your life with these qualities. Should you succeed in even a tiny measure, you will be well remembered for your quality and victory.

Etiquette: The world is ordered and governed by codes of behavior, traditions and customs passed down through all races and that resonate with deep, quiet power. Learn and honor these ways and guide others to do the same. It is through these shared conventions that chaos is kept from our doorstep.

All of this talk about alignment kinda tangented my brain off on to in-game Astrology. Again, the “What If Machine” in my head started running a mile a minute. What if, through centuries of belief in the power of the stars and the planets, archetypal Primal Spirits developed that actually influence the lives of those mortals born under their influence? If only a minutely, these spirits affect each mortal whose soul enters the world under their watch just a tiny bit. It’s an aspect that could be completely ignored, woven in as a subplot as one or two characters in a party explore these themes, or even form the basis of an entire campaign as these primal spirits battle for supremacy or choose the PCs as avatars to fight their battles, perhaps against the Far Realm or incursions of the archfey of the Feywild.

Basically what I’d want to do would be give a PC a +1 skill boost associated with the astrological sign (and therefore month) they were born under. The data below is inspired by the article “Astrology in D&D” in Dragon#340. The initial boost is nearly negligible but it can provide tools for roleplaying and fun things for the GM to play with if he so chooses. I should note that I would GREATLY encourage a GM who opts to use this system to roll randomly for each PC’s chosen month of birth. This reduces the min/maxing that this “add-on” system can inflict and also can come up with some really neat combinations that encourage a player to think in unique ways about their PC’s personality.

Month SIGN Traits Ability Virtue Element Skill
Frostmantle Wolf Unity, Teamwork Dexterity Loyalty Spirit Stealth
Thornrise Giant Bravery Strength Courage Earth Intimidate
Treeborn Phoenix Resilience Constitution Principle Fire Endurance
Rainsong Unicorn Faith, Purity Intelligence Faith Spirit Religion
Arrowfar Crown Leadership Wisdom Humility Earth Diplomacy
Sunstride Dragon Power, Magic Charisma Franchise Fire Arcana
Havenwild Sword Martial skill, Law Strength Justice Water Athletics
Stormborn Lion Headstrong Charisma Nobility Air Insight
Harrowfall Book Knowledge, Rationality Intelligence Etiquette Spirit History
Silvermoon Hydra Emotional, Adaptable Dexterity Prowess Water Nature
Windwhisper Shield Protective, Reliable Constitution Defense Earth Perception
Snowdeep Raven Disciplined, Poetic Wisdom Largesse Air Heal or Bluff

1st level PCs gain the following ability:

  • Astrological Affinity: You gain a +1 to checks associated with the skill your astrological sign influences.

In addition to a +1 (yes, deliberately untyped) skill bonus, here are a couple of feats based around the astrology chart.

Blessing of the Heavens

Prerequisite: Born under the appropriate astrological sign.

Benefit: You gain a +2 to ability checks (but not attack or damage rolls) from your astrological sign’s associated ability.  At 11th level, this becomes +4. At 21st level, this becomes +6.

Astrological Harmony

Prerequisite: Blessing of the Heavens

Your Astrological Affinity ability is replaced with Astrological Harmony.

  • Astrological Harmony: You gain a +1 feat bonus to all skills associated with your astrological sign’s favored ability. At 11th level, this bonus becomes +2. At 21st level, this bonus becomes +3.

Astrological Infusion

Prerequisite: 11th level, Blessing of the Heavens

Benefit: You gain a +2 to damage rolls that correspond to your Astrological sign’s favored element. If there are multiple keywords listed, you must choose one at the time you take this feat. This choice cannot be changed. You may take this feat multiple times. Each time it affects a different keyword you are eligible to choose.

Fire: Fire, Radiant

Earth: Poison, Force

Air: Lightning, Thunder

Water: Cold, Poison

Spirit: Psychic, Necrotic

Luck of the Stars

Prerequisite: Blessing of the Heavens

Benefit: You gain the Luck of the Stars power.

Luck of the Stars
Feat Feature
The spirits of your astrological sign watch over you. Occasionally they grant you inspiriation or a blessing when you least expect it.
Encounter
Immediate Reaction                 Personal
Trigger: You make a skill check and dislike the result.
Effect: Re-roll the skill check. Use the second roll, even if it’s lower.
Special: If you use this power for the skill associated with your astrological sign, you gain a power bonus to the reroll equal to the number of astrological feats you possess.
  • So what do you think? Should PC actions be gauged by something as static as alignment or should there be some other measuring stick? How do you think these Values work to fill that gap? And how, if at all, do you see the influence of the stars and constellations on the world you game in?
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This entry was posted in Applying Theory, Brittanis, Characters, GM Advice, Rules, Tropes, Worldbuilding. Bookmark the permalink.

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