A cleric is an individual of unsurpassed faith who connects to a particular god as a mutually beneficial relationship for the god, cleric, and community—an intermediary.
From a god’s point of view, the cleric’s primary purpose is to build congregations. The congregation generates divine force, a portion of which goes to the god, another portion of which goes to empowering the cleric’s spells, and a final portion of which is available to the cleric for magical research, reduced stronghold construction costs, and the like.
From a congregation’s point of view, the cleric’s primary purpose is to provide miracles, explain subtle distinctions of faith and wisdom, and connect the congregation to a higher purpose.
Note that gods do not need to expend their own primal energy to empower cleric spells; cleric’s class abilities are empowered by the connection they make between god and congregation, and this is all handled invisibly by the ACKS demographics rules.
Primal is a measurement of divine power, expressed throughout this manuscript in gold-piece equivalents. Primal can substitute for the gold-piece value of special components and precious materials used in divine magical research, but it can also do a lot more.
Eíre (including the physical, planetary manifestation and its surrounding heavenly sphere; their connections to the elemental planes of existence; and the divine plane of existence in which all of these things exists) produces 100 million primal per month, all of which goes to Oceana (the greater power of Eíre).
Oceana used this primal to shape the continents, fill the oceans and sky, place stars in the heavenly sphere, and otherwise spruce the raw physical manifestation up a bit; and then began spoon-feeding small amounts of primal into raw life force to manifest life, then shaped that into forms (mostly elemental bacteria) that tapped into more universal forces and produced primal themselves—a form of cosmic gardening. Over time, Oceana has managed to turn what was a relatively dumpy little plane into a lovely little garden world producing 250 million primal per month, of which she continues to re-invest 50 million per month into the root life force of Eíre.
Humans and other sapient creatures are a higher-order entity in this primal ecology. They do not produce primal themselves, but they do process the life force in their environment and, through the mechanism of faith, distill it into a form usable by still-higher-order entities … the gods.
Any entity who possesses primal already can accumulate further primal by persuading others to worship them. The faithful and steady worship of five humans produces 1 primal per month usable by a divine entity. This primal is ephemeral and is lost if not put to use immediately, such as divine magical research.
The ephemeral primal can be stored with some effort, but the process is inefficient, converting each full 100 ephemeral primal into 1 permanent primal. Permanent primal has a key advantage, however, in that every full 10 permanent primal owned by a divine entity produces 1 ephemeral primal per month.
(A divine entity with at least 1,000 ephemeral primal per month who expends all excess toward permanent primal could double their ephemeral primal in a century, although in practice it takes much, much longer.)
There is no difference between permanent and ephemeral primal other than permanent primal’s ability to generate ephemeral primal.
Immortals are sapient individuals with the barest brush of primal connection. This costs 1,000 primal per month. This usually means the immortal is sponsored by a more powerful divine entity.
An immortal possesses a limited palette of divine abilities:
- Ageless. Aging slows to one-tenth normal (longer even than the elf-blooded), and there are no penalties for old age.
- Resistance. Grants a +1 bonus on all saving throws.
An immortal can also expend primal to cast clerical spells. This grants the ability to cast cleric spells, with a cost based on the level of the spell:
1st. 0.25 + 0.125 per effective caster level.
2nd. 1 + 0.5 per effective caster level.
3rd. 4 + 2 per effective caster level.
4th. 16 + 8 per effective caster level.
5th. 64 + 32 per effective caster level.
An immortal who is a cleric may expend primal on divine magical research (constructs, rituals, and the like); a non-clerical immortal can produce the effects of that research, but this costs 5× as much and takes 5× as long, due to a lack of knowledge and finesse.
Godlings can flatten a small army or city block, but are nonetheless the bottom rung of the gods. This costs 30,000 primal per month.
Godlings possess a number of abilities:
- Unaging. Godlings do not age at all. They will live forever, barring violence.
- Resistance. Grants a +2 bonus on all saving throws. In addition, the godling is immune to disease and poison; does not require food, water, air, or sleep; and regenerates 1 hit point per round per three Hit Dice.
- Godsight. This grants true seeing, detect alignment, and detect magic constantly, and godsight cannot be fooled by mortal illusions. godsight can detect divine power in others.
- Telepathy. The divine entity can read surface thoughts and communicate telepathically with any creature possessing even a rudimentary mind within sight. Language is no barrier. When communicating with another divine entity or a cleric who derives spells from the godling, range is only sight the first time; thereafter, range with that entity or cleric is limitless. (Note: most divine entities do not talk directly to their clerics—they have better things to do with their time—but they do hear petitions.)
Godlings can expend primal for clerical abilities in the same fashion as immortals, but they do not suffer the 5× multiplier for research. In addition, godlings can expend primal for more powerful divine abilities:
Smite. A single smite deals divine damage to a single individual. The base cost is 5 primal for 1d6 of damage, doubled for each +1d6 (so 5d6 costs 80 primal). This can affect any individual the god can see or touch, even through magical agencies such as clairvoyance. Smiting is an attack, but does not require an attack throw, and does not allow a saving throw.
Shield. A god can expend primal to prevent damage (even from a smite) to the god or anyone within sight of the god. This is reflexive and instantaneous—if the god wishes to protect someone, they are protected. This costs 2 primal to prevent 5 damage, with each +5 damage doubling the cost (preventing 30 damage costs 64 primal).
Plane Shift. A god can teleport instantaneously to any familiar location, including any planes of existence directly connected to the current one. This costs 50 primal.
Sphere of Influence. A god can maintain a sphere of influence. A tiny sphere (“frogs”) costs 1,000 primal per month to maintain; a small sphere (“reptiles and amphibians”) costs 10,000; a medium sphere (“animals”) costs 100,000; and a large sphere (“nature”) costs 1 million.
This basic maintenance cost allows the god to shape or move up to 100 stone of common solid (earth, clay), 200 stone of common liquid (water, blood), 1,000 cubic yards of common gas (clouds, wind), or 500 cubic yards of common energy (daylight, “morale”). Where abstract energies (motion, morale, and the like) are concerned, they can be used to provide a +1 bonus to appropriate tasks within their area of effect. Physical energies (fire, lightning, cold) and flung solids can deal up to 3d6 damage. Range is always “within sight.”
Unless the sphere is living things, the affected material cannot be moved inside living creatures. Shaping always requires concentration. Uncommon materials (iron, poison gas, fire) divide weight or volume by 10; rare materials (fine steel, gems, lightning) divide it by 100 … or 1,000 for extremely rare items.
Creating an item divides weight or volume by 10, requires 10 minutes of concentration, and lasts for up to one day before vanishing again (energies dissipate at their normal rate). A permanent item divides weight or volume by 1,000 instead.
In addition, the god can always sense the presence of things which fall into the sphere’s category, and analyze them in perfect detail.
A god can increase control temporarily. This costs 1/1000 the base monthly cost of primal to increase weight, volume, bonus, or damage by +100% for one hour.
Celestial Home. A god can expend primal to maintain an extraplanar sub-reality. Calculate the cost in gold to construct a stronghold of the same approximate size and luxury, and expend 1/10 as much primal per month to maintain it. For example, a sub-reality the size of a small round tower, with no automatic furnishings, would cost 1,500 primal per month.
Within the “walls” of this sub-reality, the godling has complete and utter control of the reality itself. In addition, the sub-reality provides pseudo-primal equal to 1% of its monthly cost which can be expended every round, but only for effects which remain within the sub-reality.
Most gods, when warring with each other, expend energy from outside the sub-reality to collapse it, rather than try to take on the god on a home turf. (Collapsing a celestial home costs primal equal to twice the amount required to maintain it.)
The majority of proper deities are lesser powers, possessed of vast quantities of divine power, a celestial portfolio, and the ability to deal with mortals independently without worrying overly much about other gods. A lesser power can curse a city, flatten most armies, reshape terrain, and so on. This costs 150,000 primal per month.
A lesser power is identical to a godling (above), with the following changes and additions:
- Resistance. The bonus to saves increases to +3.
A lesser power’s spheres of influence cost the same as a godling’s, but multiply range, volume, and weight by ×100.
Powers are typically rule a pantheon of lesser powers, drawing upon their divine force in much the same way as a king taxes dukes. A power can expend much of their resources to flatten an entire city, raise a mountain range, curse and entire species, or similar … and is held back from expending those resources primarily by fear of other powers. Being a power costs 500,000 primal per month.
A power is identical to a lesser power, with the following changes:
- Resistance. The bonus to saves increases to +4.
A power’s spheres of influence cost the same as a godling’s, but multiply range, volume, and weight by ×10,000.
Eíre has only one greater power: Oceana. Other worlds are said to have more.
A greater power controls reality directly. They are (mostly) not modeled in game mechanics, because a single greater power can flatten an army of powers without significant exertion.
Oceana owns Eíre and controls its primary divine force, but does not appear to be interested in much about the world, even among the powers! (Some say this is fortunate.) She is commonly portrayed as distant, aloof, and uncaring, and most theologies teach that she was an elemental goddess of the plane of water, raised up by ocean to rule Eíre.
If numbers are needed, the world provides Oceana with 250 million gold equivalents per month. She then expends roughly 50 million per month maintaining the life force of the world … and that life force is what congregations expend toward their favored gods.
The sú are well beyond even the greater powers. They operate beyond the scale of even the gods, and are said to be responsible for the creation of entire worlds … and even the greater powers that rule those worlds. They are not modeled in the game system, because they create and alter and destroy entire worlds without exceptional effort.
The usual line-up is said to be:
anima. Life force, souls, vitality.
change. Entropy, motion, time.
death. The mysteries of what lies after death.
earth. The elemental plane of earth.
nature. Beasts and plants, wild places, biological processes, health.
ocean. The elemental plane of water.
order. Thought, civilization, organizing principles.
passion. Emotion, inspiration, art.
sky. The elemental plane of air.
void. All-consuming, that-which-destroys.
The entity void is presumed to be locked away … or not exist at all. Some mystery cults believe that void will eventually escape and end all things. Others believe that death is actually void. Although philosophers like to set void as Chaos and order as Law, Law and Chaos are meaningless at the sú level.
Some mystery cults also believe in wú, a syncretist, still-higher power that guides and directs the sú. There is little evidence of this, however.