Piety is an attribute that describes the relationship between a character and a deity or pantheon. It controls the likelihood that a deity will directly intervene on your behalf. Regardless of how many deities a player character serves, a normal player character starts with 1d6 piety in a pantheon or god of their choice; for every point of Wisdom above or below 10 this is increased or decreased by 1 point (to a minimum of 0).
Priests and paladins start with more, as do rangers if they choose a woodland god to invest their starting piety into. These types start with 1d6 plus their Wisdom score in piety to their god. If priests fall below 10 piety, they lose all powers until their piety is at least 10. If a priest falls below 0 piety, they fall from grace.
|Piety||Relationship with Patron||Maintenance Criteria||Improvement Criteria|
|Negative||Apostate||Has done something to anger or offend the patron. Fallen from favour.||As "Unfaithful", but cannot be improved above -1 without a sincere act of contrition.|
|0+||Unfaithful||Ignores their patron, and is ignored in turn.||Pray, visit temples, make small donations and similar minor deeds.|
|5+||Layman||Has respect for their patron when convenient, but is more concerned with worldly matters.||Act in accordance with the patron's teachings even outside of the temple - beyond "lip service".|
|10+||Faithful||Pays respect, tithes or sacrifices, and tries to follow their patron's teachings whenever possible.||Inconvenience or exert yourself to act in accordance with the patron's teachings.|
|15+||Pious Servant||Always keeps their patron's teachings in mind in their life and dealings, and almost never strays from the path.||Advance the patron's cause in a tangible but minor or temporary way, or apply their teachings at some personal cost.|
|20+||Righteous Agent||Follows their patron's teachings, and goes out into the world to spread the word, maybe even to fight for their patron's cause.||Advance the patron's cause in a lasting and noticeable way, or apply their teachings at significant personal cost.|
|25+||Holy Crusader||In the highest favor. Is both impeccable in conduct and unshakable in their faith. Actively champions their patron's cause in the world.||Advance the patron's cause in a significant and noteworthy way, or apply their teachings at great personal cost.|
|30+||Champion||Dedicates their entire life to the service of their patron; relentless in their zealotry and unshakable in their faith.||Perform legendary and heroic deeds to advance the patron's cause.|
|35+||Saint||Beyond a mere servant; their patron's chosen servant. When they speak, they speak for their patron.||Perform a personal service for the patron directly.|
You may only have piety for one god or pantheon; deities are jealous beings. You may revere whatever gods you wish, but you must choose one deity or pantheon to be the recipient of your piety, and these are the only ones you can gain or lose piety for. The other deities you pay homage to are not central enough to your ethos to take any real interest in you. It is possible to convert and change your principal deity/pantheon, but your accrued piety points will not carry over to the new god - you must start afresh.
Gaining & Losing Piety
In the table above, each piety rank has associated "improvement criteria" - this is the requirement that must be met to improve your piety by one point. If you perform a deed that is commensurate with your current rank, you gain a single point. Performing deeds above your own rank will grant additional piety points. If a "Layman" advances their patron's cause in a tangible but minor way (the improvement criteria of a "Pious Servant"), they would gain 3 points.
It is much easier to lose piety than it is to gain it. It can be lost at any time for deeds which anger the patron, but a piety score of 0 to 9 does not degrade naturally. As long as you do not anger your deity, you will tend to gain piety over time rather than lose it. Above this level, however, each rank is associated with a certain standard of conduct. This is the behaviour required to maintain your position - if the DM judges that you do not qualify, you will lose piety points at a slow but steady rate.
Obviously, this means that maintaining lower levels of piety is much easier than the upper echelons. Although a spate of good deeds may temporarily increase your piety score, the favour of your god will be relatively temporary if you do not otherwise devote much of your time and attention to them. In many ways, this is what sets aside clerics from other professions - a warrior may go on a quest in the name of St. Cuthbert, but when it is over he returns to spend his gold and drink himself silly. A priest, on the other hand, lives his life for his god - and so he finds it much easier to maintain his piety score.
In addition to being gained and lost through "natural" means, piety can also be spent as a resource by offering prayers for assistance to your patron. Piety can only be spent down to a score of 10, after which you cannot spend any more until you increase it again. Otherwise, it can be expended on the following common miracles:
- Prayer for guidance. The player may ask the DM a simple question regarding their god's desires, what they should do, what hazards they will face, and so on. This costs one piety point and will give a vague but helpful response, which comes as a gut feeling or a leap of intuition.
- Prayer for support. The player can expend one piety point to take refuge in their god. They can use this to continue fighting while in negative HP, to have their fatigue alleviated, to avoid losing sanity in harrowing situations, and any similar effect within reason.
- Prayer for strength or power. The player can expend one to four piety points to gain a commensurate bonus on attack or damage for the duration of a combat, distributed as they please. They can also impose a penalty on saving against a spell they have cast, or a bonus to a saving throw or ability check they are about to make.
- Prayer for deliverance. The player can expend a piety point to be saved from an ongoing harmful effect such as poison or mental domination for which they have failed the saving throw in a previous round. Expending the piety allows them a second saving throw to resist the harmful effect - if this is failed, they cannot keep on trying. This prayer can be made even if not in control of your mind.
- Prayer for blessing. The player can expend a piety point to temporarily bless their weapon for a period of one day. During this time, the weapon can strike creatures that can normally only be harmed by magical weapons. If the patron has a hated enemy (i.e. undead), the weapon also receives a +1 bonus to-hit and damage against them.
Players who currently have a piety of 20 or higher can beseech their god for more powerful blessings, as detailed below:
- Prayer for success. The player can expend a piety point to automatically succeed one attack roll, saving throw or skill check as long as they have at least a 25% chance of success. Otherwise, they gain a +4 (20%) bonus.
- Prayer for a miracle. The player can expend a piety point to have any first-level priest spell in the god's portfolio to be cast on their behalf. Additional points can be spent for higher level spells (i.e. 2 points for a 2nd-level spell), but only if this number of points can be spent without falling below 20 piety.
- Prayer for intervention. The player can spend a piety point to beseech their patron to intervene directly on their behalf in the form of a powerful magical effect, conjured servant or avatar of the patron. Spending the point only guarantees that their plea will be heard; divine intervention is extremely rare and only granted when truly needed. If the request is refused and is considered disrespectful by the god, the requester's piety immediately drops by three additional points.
Other prayers beyond those listed here may be considered at the DM's discretion.
The Piety Priest
This is the variant on traditional priests that exists in Morus. They are a spontaneous caster, but have the tradeoff of being limited by their piety in what spells they can cast. The cleric spell progression table is still used to determine how many spells they may cast each day - representing the skill and wisdom required to channel powerful divine energies - but they may cast any spell from their list whenever they want. Spells do not need to be prepared, although they must still spend time each day in meditation to renew their connection with the divine.
The drawback of this, however, is that they are limited in their maximum spell level by their piety. If their piety is low enough, their effective level for the purposes of spellcasting is lower. They can't replace their spell slots with lower-level spells the way wizards can - they're just gone. For all intents and purposes, they operate as if they are lower level than they actually are.
|Piety||Maximum Spellcasting Level|
Piety clerics who are limited by their piety still gain other advantages related to their level, such as duration, range and/or area of effect of the spells they cast. Again, this is a reflection of their competence and skill at handling divine energies. Likewise, any permanently granted boons (such as a Daybringer's resistance to fire) do not fade unless the cleric's piety falls below 10 and they lose their power.
By virtue of their design, piety clerics are more powerful than ordinary clerics. However, they are also more limited to the will of their gods. Whereas an ordinary cleric only needs to keep their piety above 10 to retain all of his power, this variant's power is directly related to their ability to advance the cause of their god. It is not possible for a piety cleric to become stronger simply by fighting enough dragons - if he doesn't increase his piety to match it, his divine power will remain feeble.
A cleric who is currently in ill favour with their god may find that they urgently require to wield the full brunt of their power. This is not something that is granted lightly - after all, a low piety indicates that their god does not trust them with their divine benediction. In cases that are directly related to the god's portfolio, however, or in times of great need, their god may make a special dispensation.
Regardless of whether their god answers, asking for a special dispensation costs 1 piety point. They must be specific when outlining the task that they are asking for assistance with: for example, "to cleanse the undead in the Solamnus catacombs". If their god is swayed by their request, they will receive their benediction. The god may give their assistance for less time than it takes to complete the task, but it will never be given for more.
While under the benediction of their god, the priest is treated as though they have a piety of 29 - which is to say that they receive all of the spell slots they are entitled to, regardless of their level. If they deviate from their promised task (even for as little as a day), lose any piety, or if circumstances change such that the task is no longer of great import, the effect ends immediately. If the benediction is removed because the priest in question deviated from their task, they cannot request aid with the same task again (and may lose additional piety, depending on circumstances).