The Sword of Heaven
The Sword of Heaven
"The Sword of Heaven" is the default setting for Paladin. It covers familiar ground - pseudo-historical knights imbued with the power of heaven - but takes everything you've ever thought about those stuffy, annoying guys called "paladins" and turns it on its head. Ready?
"The Sword of Heaven" is set in a fantastic, medieval land called Castillia. Castilla is a high plateau teeming with life that rises far above the dark and blasted world below. The plateau is large enough to support a variety of landscapes, from the grey-and-green plains of the south, flat and arid; to the lush forests of the north, thick with moist life; to the wondrous mountain ranges of the west, filling the horizon; to the deep green seas below the western cliffs.
Once in Castillia, there was great peace. The natural barrier of the plateau walls protected the land from the murder and darkness that covers the rest of the world. Even now, people try to keep the peace: the king is still a decent man, the people are usually law-abiding, and life is given the utmost respect. The people are polytheistic, worshiping a variety of gods: the god of the sun, the god of fertility, the god of water. There is a god for everything, for everything is connected by Animus, the bit of divinity that the smallest rabbit and greatest of men have in common. Ancestors are respected, and in some families, treated as small gods.
The greatest crime in Castillia is to steal life. People hunt animals, but for food only. People harvest plants, but for food and shelter. People never take the life of another, though, for in life lies power, and Animus can be twisted and hoarded by stealing life. The act of murder gives the murderer an unholy power. The world outside Castillia fell into this dark cycle years ago - Witches murdering innocent people, then each other, to gain another drop of power; armies of Unliving - mindless animated dead creatures - created by their infernal magic; and a blasted landscape raped by unstoppable darkness.
Castillia has held strong until now. The outside world grows ever bleaker, and every day, more twisted beasts and unholy Witches are seen infiltrating through valleys and gorges, threatening to take the world's last bastion of Light for their own. The Sword of Heaven is the weapon to strike down those who would steal life.
Organization, Faith, and Charter
The Sword of Heaven is a martial order - the martial order - dedicated to preserving peace, protecting Castillia, and fulfilling the will of Ai, the ur-god over all, the Giver of Life.
The Sword of Heaven is made up of strong men and women, people of a transcendent faith that lets them tap into that Animus that binds all people. These men and women are the only people in all of Castillia given the charter to take life of other humans.
The Sword of Heaven is the razor-sharp edge between good and evil, life and death, and fate is balanced like a hair on their blade. The Sword of Heaven is mandated to hunt down murderers, or Witches. Murder gives men awful power, letting them hoard Animus to give themselves supernatural powers and to animate the foulest of creations: the Unliving. While Castillia has remained relatively free of such transgressors, their numbers increase every day now. With dark times come dark responsibilities, and the Sword is mandated to hunt down evil wherever it sneaks into Castillia and smite it.
The Sword of Heaven maintains one house of worship on Mons Calpe, the highest mountain in Castillia. There they train their members and focus their Animus into a keen blade that would strike down those that would transgress the will of Ai. Once members are ready, they wander the roads and forests of Castillia, bringing peace to the good-hearted and death to the wicked. They travel light, wearing no armor - it's nearly unknown in Castillia. Their swords, an incredibly rare sight in a land that was once filled with such peace, tell people all they need to know.
You shall not suffer an Unliving creature to maintain its semblance of life.
You shall not tell an untruth, for truth is life.
You shall never ignore a request for help.
You shall not kill an innocent.
You shall never put your own safety before the will of Ai.
You shall not suffer a Witch to live.
The Sword of Heaven is represented by a flaming broadsword, the weapon each member carries as a symbol of his office. Members need no other protection from evil or symbol of their office.
The Sword of Heaven is given the following gifts by Ai:
The ability to discern truth.
The ability to soften men's hearts.
The ability to perform prodigious feats of physicality.
The ability to sense and ward away death.
The ability to bring Ai's holy white cleansing fire.
In addition to all normal Animus rules, there are special rules for "The Sword of Heaven" that give Dark Animus for killing innocent people, Light Animus for defeating evil, and allow Witches to create heinous Unliving. We'll return to the setting in The Flow of Animus."
Animus in "The Sword of Heaven"
There are a few special rules for using Animus when playing in the default setting, "The Sword of Heaven." The setting is centered around the fight against murder and the awful powers it can bring to murderers - called Witches in the setting.
Witches can use the Dark Animus they have collected by murder to create Unliving - awful dead creatures with a semblance of life animating them. In order to create an Unliving, a Witch must spend a number of Dark Animus totaling all the attributes of the creature, plus 1 Dark Animus per ability it will have.
An Unliving can only have Flesh and Dark Animus attributes. Most Unliving are mindless creatures, following only orders from the Witch that created them, and only have offensive and defensive Flesh attributes, but a rare few have a social Flesh attribute, and the worst have Dark Animus attributes. An Unliving with Dark Animus attributes is free-willed, and does not need its Witch master to give it orders in order to take action.
Unliving must have Dark Animus attributes in order to use Animus, and gain more Animus. They gather Dark Animus by killing people that follow the Light, using the rules above. They can also gain Dark Animus by convincing a living being to give them Dark Animus. There is no other way they can gain Animus, however. Unliving with Dark Animus can use it to re-activate Animus attributes, per normal, and can attempt any difficulty level of task.
Paladins can feel Unliving as a sort of "empty bubble" in the flow of Animus. You need a number of successes to feel their presence as if they were Dark Paladins.