Fading Suns and Flaming Heresies
Powers come in three basic forms: Psychic powers, Theurgy rituals, and Antinomy spells. Only the first two are introduced for player characters in the main rulebook. Each of these powers is rated from 1–10. A character may only learn powers equal to or less than his occult characteristic’s level. For example, Lucretia has a Psi of 3; she may learn Psi powers of level 3 or less.
Each power requires a roll with a particular characteristic (often a Spirit characteristic, although there are exceptions) and skill, as detailed in the power description. Most powers also cost Wyrd points to use; the amount is given in the power description.
Using a psychic power takes one action, unless otherwise noted. Casting a theurgy ritual takes one turn, unless otherwise noted; the theurge cannot perform any other action during that turn. Once cast, however, it usually requires only one action to enforce the rite (to ask a question with Inquisitory Commandment, for example).
If the activation or casting roll fails, the character does not spend any Wyrd points. Only if the roll is successful — or if it is a critical failure — are the listed Wyrd points spent.
Each occultist bears an occult stigma, a sign of his or her supernatural differences from common humanity. This stigma does not necessarily have to be connected to the use of her powers, although it is often a metaphor for those powers.
For instance, a psychic trained in Sixth Sense may have an odd and uncontrollable tick which makes him blink in one eye when using his powers, or a psychic trained in Psyche powers may uncontrollably whisper when giving psychic commands to his targets, possibly revealing him as the cause of the townsfolk’s woes.
Psychic stigmas are somewhat like medieval folk superstitions:
A man with hair between his eyebrows or an odd birthmark that happens to resemble a pentagram when looked at from the right angle is surely a werewolf, while a man with hair on his palms and a pale complexion is a vampire (and, of course, the most famous vampire was a noble lord— a revealing clue about peasant superstitions and their intended targets).
Theurgic stigmas, however, tend to be more religious in nature. Those bearing a theurgic stigma are often held in awe by peasants, although fear is also a common response (the theurge may be holy, but trouble tends to follow such chosen ones). Some examples are:
- Lash marks on the arms and back (sympathy with the Prophet’s own beating by Diasporan nobles)
- All clothing worn eventually stains red (sympathy with the blood-stained Mantius, the Fourth Disciple, also known as the Soldier)
- Unnaturally long beard which, when cut, grows back to its full length the next day (sympathy with Horace, the Sixth Disciple, also known as the Learned Man) — rarely found among women
- Occasionally speaking in nonsense tongues (sympathy with Hombor, the Seventh Disciple, also known as the Beggar)
- Tears run down the cheeks at inappropriate times (sympathy with Amalthea, the Third Disciple, also known as the Healer)
- Sleepwalking (sympathy with Paulus, the First Disciple, also known as the Traveler).
Players should be allowed to choose their characters’ stigmas, but although the gamemaster has to right to veto those he feels are not severe enough, neither should he force crippling stigmas on player characters.