Your God is Dead...and everyone cares...

I’m considering sending my players to a dying world soon where in they will find that their gods, or the things closest to them, are effectively dead, having fallen to Cthulhu like entities.

Now, they may well be stuck in this alternate dimension for some time, and several of the PCs are divine in nature. So…what should happen to them? Can they regain spells? Are they limited to only level 1 and 2 spells (like in 1st Ed D&D)? Should their abilities work normally? should they end up in contact with a soul blasting horror? Should they be unique in that they can bring the light of the gods back…and therefore become the most hunted humans on the decaying world?

I know there is no ‘right’ answer, but I’m looking for ideas because frankly I’ve not decided.

One thing you could do would be to make them memorize spells like D&D Vancian casting, or choose from a limited selection like ACKS mages. This wouldn't be a total screwjob but would make it feel very constrained to rely on divine power in this realm.

You could also say that, while they have a divine spell memorized, they stand out somehow - to everyone or only to sensitives of the Cthulu power. Again this creates consequences and choices; players understand when they're at risk of detection and can manage that risk.

Those are both interesting ideas. I love the idea of their divine energy being a beacon to the hostile denizens of the realm. I also think the ‘memorization’ thing could work as a nice go between utterly screwed and freely casting.

It will definitely have them wanting to escape!!!

I played a short series of “after the bad guys won” adventures. The players spells were one use. They cast them when desperate and each was a poignant little miracle that the world would not see again. They were a little more powerful/different than normal befitting the last gasp effort of a fading god though.

This was in the 90’s when grimdark anti-heroes and villains were becoming cool and the players wanted to play as bad guys for a change. I wasn’t keen so suggested flipping the traditional axis. It worked really well.

If there is a hell, I’ll see you there…

That’s an interesting idea. I’d thought about not letting the character’s abilities ‘refill’, but that seemed terribly, terribly harsh. I also toyed with the 1st Ed Ad&d idea that you can get back level 1 & 2 spells, but not any higher while cut off from your god.

In my cosmology, it’s not that the gods are truly dead, but their reflection on this plane are gone, leaving them with no conduits with which to interact with the plane. So I want the penalty to be real without totally hosing my players (who play a preponderance of divine based characters).

I like the idea of the PC’s powers drawing down attention on him… Give him spells, but make sure every time a spell is cast (over 2nd level maybe) a lot of Attention results.
Sure, flashing that cleric magic will turn him into a beacon of hope in a beleaguered world, but that’s exactly the kind of behavior the bad guys are trying to extinguish. The Erdrich abominations know when the spell has been cast and their minions begin to converge on that location: the more powerful the spell the more powerful the minions and the more swiftly they’ll converge…
Good luck!

In my ACKS cosmology, clerics and priests are distinguished not primarily by the god they worship, but by their capacity for channeling divine energy.

You could say that your clerics can only get spells from available gods, obligating them to pray to the only ones left. That might entail evil rituals and such, or close scrutiny by other priests concerning their dedication to the Great Old Ones.

A cleric that didn’t sit well with might find someone to retrain them as a fighter, trading in some portion or all of their XP for fighter levels. And then found an order of magic-less “paladins” to spearhead the resistance. :slight_smile:

That’s a very interesting take on Clerics and it really handles the division between ‘priests’ and ‘clerics’. It’s something I’ve still never fully grappled with (though certainly in my world, not all priests are clerics and capable of miracles).