Escarnum may be a world without gods, but this is not intended to keep characters from drawing upon divine power as their source of strength. This section discusses how divine power is intended to function, mechanically and thematically, in an Escarnum game.
The basis of this is that divine power is not granted deliberately by a higher power, but accessed directly through transcendent devotion to an ideal.
Divinity in the World
The divine power source itself does not require any mechanical changes to suit the nature of Escarnum. Of course, the concept of a patron deity who grants holy magic doesn’t make sense here, but there are no special rules needed to shift the understanding of divine power from worship to conviction.
For some, this conviction does indeed take the form of an organised religion with a deific figure at its head. However, the difference is that divinity itself comes from the mortals who believe, not the god they believe in. Rituals and prayers are not transactional—offerings to a god who grants power in return—but rather effective methods of reinforcing the devotion that creates such power.
The Mechanics of Devotion
Instead of choosing a deity, divine Escarnum characters should determine the philosophy or ideals they wish to champion, then choose one or more domains that embody those beliefs. Feats and other rules that relate to domains can then be used normally. The GM might wish to impose a limit of 2-4 domains per character, both to limit mechanical complications and to encourage players to distil their philosophy to its most important ideals.
For the purpose of game rules that require a specific deity, the GM should look at the domains and ideals associated with the deity in question, and map the requirements to domains accordingly. (We recommend being permissive as a rule, as flavour requirements like these are rarely of mechanical significance.)
Moral Codes and Fallen Champions
As in core 4th Edition content, Escarnum leaves the idea of “falling” for narrative spaces only. While organisations may lay out specific moral codes, a character isn’t made to lose divine power just by breaking rules or changing religious fealty. No matter how their ideals shift, a character’s divine power remains as long as their conviction stays strong.
Accordingly, if you want to explore this narrative space, a crisis of faith is a clear reason that a divine character might lose their powers in Escarnum. They can’t be denied by a patron, but they can certainly be stolen by doubt and insecurity.
Belief and Reality
Gods don’t exist in the world of Escarnum. But, powerful conviction can manifest to change reality in the form of divine power. Therefore, does it not also follow that enough divine power, devoted to belief in the same god figure, might in fact cause it to become real?
This concept has certainly not escaped the notice of Almish scholars, and is the topic of much discussion. No such thing has been documented thus far, of course, but it certainly appears to be a logical conclusion.