A Character Piety is measured by piety points, which are gained through pious acts and lost through Impiety. The current number of Piety Points determines the piety level. As with experience levels, increased Piety brings more benefits that “kick in” at discrete intervals. Unless experience, however, it is easy to lose Piety and drop a Level. The listed Piety Points (Pip) are the minimum necessary to enter the corresponding category. All followers of an Immortal begin Pray with 1 point of piety in their given Faith. All servants (Clerics, Clerics, Paladins, Avengers. Healers, Shaman, Shamani, Masters, Druids, Knights, and Dervishes) begin with 1d4 Pip. This rule is only used for entry in a new religion after successful initiation rituals.
A beginning character determines his current beginning Piety according the table here, from “In The Line of Duty” with the ability trait Reverent. At higher levels of Piety, all followers and servants gain with special powers and advantages as a sign of divine favor in the fight against the enemies of the faith. All benefits of piety are cumulative. The character’s effective power level with any granted ability is the same as that of a Paladin of the same experience level (that is a 1/3 of a Cleric). Example; A pious follower of Odin is a Bard level 12. He is given the major ability to Turn Undead. When he does, he has the same chance as a Paladin of the same level, thus as a Cleric level 4.
A character’s Piety represents the protective aura placed around him by his Immortal. This aura is usually invisible to Mortals (thus can be seen by Second Sight), but may be detected by appropriate spells. All extraplanar servants of the character’s Faith (Guardian Angels, Souls on the search of a body to be Reincarnated, etc.) automatically know his current Piety level (not number), and extraplanar servants of other faiths can detect his Piety level by making a successful Wisdom check. Extremely Pious characters (Piety level 100 and above) may become noticeable to the casual observer after a Wisdom check (may be repeated each day). The nature of the aura will generally reflect the character’s faith. For example. A follower of a good aligned faith may radiate a feeling of peace and goodwill, while a servant of evil may radiate a chilling unease.
Gaining and Losing Piety
Character’s receive Pip gains or losses at the same Time the they receive experience points, when the events of the adventure are still fresh in the minds of the characters, and of the Immortal (even Immortals look only rarely more than once a day upon their followers). Since different faiths have different demands, these are listed under each Immortal separately. To calculate Piety awards, simply add all applicable awards and penalties to determine a number.
There should be a strict limit on how many can be gained, and as thus no more than 10 Pip are gained each month maximum. Note that one act could have many consequences. For example, robbing a poor box is both “theft from a church” and “Harming the Weak”. Any number of Pip can be lost during any amount of Time, according to the character’s behavior. Canny characters will plan their actions so as to minimize Piety losses and maximize gains (killing only in a good cause, doing a few extra good deeds to make up for a lapse, etc.). Add up all awards to the character’s current total, and apply all results immediately.
Transition from one level to another is a major event in a character’s life, and most Immortals may wish to throw in some sort of sign or omen (a pleasant or disturbing dream, an unpleasant bit of weather, etc.).
If the total Piety Points are reduced below 0, the character’s Piety remains 0, and a divine Curse is placed on the character as a warning. A character who commits a further offence earns a further curse for every three such offenses (rounded down). If this is the first Time for the character, a good or tolerant (or ignorant) Immortal may let him off with a warning, and the curse will only last one day. Otherwise, all curses are permanent until the character has atoned for his deeds. Although a character may earn enough Piety to go above 0, all curses remain until the offence that triggered each one is atoned for separately.
Although all Immortals and their faiths have much the same categories of awards and penalties, each Immortal will have specific behaviors that earn each one. For example, although all Faiths require some sort of regular ceremonial observance, the exact nature of the observance can vary widely, from some private meditation to wild festivals. Each Immortal can determine the specific actions that will earn each award or penalty in his or her Faith.
A character may be not content with his Immortal, its faith and its rules and restrictions, and as thus might want to change to another religion or faith (and thus Immortal) without penalty. When he is divinely cursed, however, only opposing Immortals will accept the character without proof of loyalty to the chosen faith. When accepted by another Immortal all divine curses may be removed if that Immortal wishes so, or later as a period of training and acceptance.
Some characters don’t follow any Immortal, and as thus don’t have any piety, nor religion, or faith. The Reverent skill is always below 6 at best. These characters will have no problem by any Immortal rules, they have no Immortal or religious based rules or restrictions. These characters will mostly be either true Neutral and well balanced, or Chaotic and absolutely uninterested. No good or Lawful character could become a skeptic. Skeptics have much penalties, most positive based spells will not work on them. All these spells have only a 25% chance of success on the character (this includes any healing spells), as the Immortal, refuses to spend his might (the power of the spell send through his loyal follower; the casting cleric) without true cause.
The cleric must explain this explicitly beforehand or soon thereafter in his prayers or he instantly drops in Pip 1d4 points, depending on the mood and character of the Immortal in question. Negative based spells (Blight or Cause Wounds) work normally. The skeptic character has no restrictions of entering any temple, holy ground, or similar. But can’t activate any clerical magic from items (Good or Bad), and is not affected by positive clerical shrines or holy powers. These characters often become marionettes of the powers of Entropy, as Immortals often aren’t interested in them. Entropic Immortals misguide them with trickery, guile, and outright lies to enable acts no follower of them (or other Immortals) would do. Skeptics also can’t become Immortal, as some Immortal power must guide them, alter them. If trying to become Immortal, they often follow the trail of Entropy, unknowingly, unstoppable, slowly guided toward Chaos, Death, Destruction or Evil.
In addition to its other uses, the Religion skill automatically gives knowledge of mandments and prohibitions and associated piety gains and losses) for the owner’s faith. A successful skill check gives the same information for other common faiths in the area. NPC clergy spend a lot of their time using this skill to give guidance to their flock. However, such guidance is only the owner’s “best guess”, and may or may not be the actual intent of the Immortal.
In general, any spell that specifically affects ‘evil’ creatures (such as protection from evil, detect evil or holy word) will function on characters of an evil faith only if their piety level is devoted or higher—in other words if they are strongly evil. The reverse is also true. Reversed spells of this nature affect good characters only if they are strongly good (piety is Devoted or higher)
For the purposes of the following, any offense that causes a loss of 4 or more piety points is a higher — in other words, if they are strongly evil. The reverse is also true. Reversed spells of this nature affect good characters only if they are strongly good (good-aligned followers or servants with a piety of Level II or higher). “major offense,” while any offense that causes losses of from one to three points are “minor” offenses.
Common Awards and Penalties All Followers and Servants
Following minimum standard of Behavior
A minimum standard of behavior (attending occasional services, giving spare change to church, not spitting on the Shrine, etc.). +0
Failure to Uphold Minimal standard of behavior, mocking the Immortal, etc. Includes behavior such as drinking on a day of abstinence. -1
Attending Major Religious Events
Major events such as Festivals, Mysteries or observance occur 3-6 times per Year (different for each Religion). Each one should occupy most or all of the days and involve some sort of expense (either as a Sacrifice, or a gift, or “I simply must buy a new Robe for Year Day!”) from 1 to 100 Gp. +1
Neglect to attend a major event for any reason -1
Tithes a percentage of all income
A tithe is a percentage of income donated to Clergy of the Faith; it may not otherwise benefit any of the character or his friends or relatives in any way. The percentage of income that a given Faith requires is entirely up to the Immortal or the Clergy. 10% to 50% +1
51% to 90% +2
90% or more +3
Failure to make the required tithe (or misusing Tithes) -1
Constructs a small Shrine
Specific requirements must be determined by the Immortal, but may include building the structure alone and by hand, spending 100 gp or more, consecration of the site by a servant of the faith, or placing the shrine in a specific location (such as a bridge, road-crossing or t-split, or in a forest). Characters rarely gain Piety from constructing more than a small shrine per month. +1
Harms a small Shrine of own Faith -2
This may be a church, a monastery, a school run by Monks, or even a Hospital.
Temples must be well constructed (of
average or better quality), and have a central meeting area, one or more
altars, and smaller rooms sufficient for the Temple’s purposes. The characters are
entirely responsible for either constructing, funding the Temple, or finding staff for it. Constructing
a Temple is a
major event and will lead often to different adventures. Note that Strongholds
that higher-level characters build in order to attract followers do not
of own Faith -10 Temple
This is dying a conspicuously heroic Death at the hands of an enemy of the Faith while fighting for one’s own Faith. Characters well aware that a member of the party had Raise Dead memorized do not qualify for this award, those who expected someone with this spell near or willing to raise him at a later date, but not sure about it do qualify. +10
Betrayal of a Holy Cause to the enemy in order to save one’s own life -10
Aiding Servant of own Faith
Assist a Servant in their duties or Quests, without Thought of reward. +1
Harms Servant of own Faith
If Servant has 0 Pip -1 per Level/HD
If Servant is Killed and had 0 Pip -2 per Level/HD
If Servant is harmed and had more Pip -2 per Level/HD
If Servant is killed and had more Pip -4 per Level/HD
Harming or impeding a member of enemy Faith
An “enemy Faith” isn’t just a Faith that isn’t an ally…it’s a faith that is actively opposed to yours, and whose servants work to harm yours. Highly intolerant Faiths regard all other Faiths as “enemy” (the Immortal Vanya shows such tendencies, and Thanatos is almost to any Faith an enemy). +1
Aids member of enemy Faith
Willingly and knowingly -4
Willingly and knowingly if enemy member has 0 Pip -2
Unwilling but forced -3
Unwilling but forced if enemy member has 0 Pip -1
Unknowingly if enemy member has 0 Pip -1
Clerics, Healers, Paladins, Avengers, Shaman, Shamani, Druids, Dervishes, Knights of Religious orders, etc.
Carry out any of the above duties
All servants are expected to perform all eight duties above and receive the same amount of Piety as a follower would. x 1
Committing any of the above offenses x 2
Carrying out additional basic duties of servants
This includes ceremonies, giving advice and spiritual guidance, casting spells to aid followers, obeying all class restrictions, and so on. Again it is assumed that characters will do this unless the do otherwise. +0
Neglecting basic duty
Each day or a fraction of a day. (this includes the usage of weapons not allowed, as with Clerics) -2
Dragon Magazine 236 page 42 by Lachlan McQuarrie