Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Pilgrimage of Fingers

I created this Pilgrimage of Fingers "secret society" card for Warhammer 3rd a while ago, and have finally decided to share it here. I didn't want to post it here while there was still a decent chance it would come up in my campaign. The secret society mechanics are a little weird because they give PCs bonuses, and yet the GM can't really let the player see the tracking sheet as it's typically riddled with spoilers.

As of this most recent session, the PCs at my table have left the town they were in, and rejected the prospect of having low-level Ranaldite minions accompany them. That means I can safely share the Pilgrimage of Fingers card at this time without it spoiling any future plot developments.

The back of the card (pictured above) is almost entirely a quote from the Warhammer 2nd Ed Tome Of Salvation, as those three paragraphs sum up the "Pilgrimage" quite nicely and there's not a lot of other canonical detail about it available elsewhere.

The front of the card (pictured below) is laid out very similar to the secret society cards from Lure of Power. There's an upper track that is used as the PC infiltrates the group or proves their worth to the NPCs. The further right your marker on the top track, the better respected you are in the group. They get moved to the lower track when they reach the point of being drawn into the inner circle and/or learning the groups dirtiest darkest secrets. The further right your marker on the bottom track, the closer you are to being kicked out, disavowed, betrayed or driven crazy by the hard truths.

I followed the pattern of the existing Secret Society cards pretty closely, picking the most common configuration amongst the example cards from Lure of Power and just chose new powers and consequences that roughly fit that same power-level at each step.

Exactly what insanity the GM attaches to the card will say a lot about the cult of Ranald in your game. The obvious straight-forward choices would be "Gold Lust" or "Suspicious Mind", either of which would rely on just greed or mafia tropes rather than some sort of dark secret like most of the secret society cards harbor. Both of those insanities impact social checks, so that would really be sharpening the back edge of the double-edged sword that is space 7 of the second track. GMs may find it useful then to have some deeper secret behind the pilgrimage to justify a less-social insanity. Here's a few alternate "dark secrets of the Pilgrimage" that are a little more "outside the box", and suggestions about what insanities might be attached then:
  • You discover the Pilgrimage of Fingers is actually an entrapment operation set up by the Vereneans or the Witch-Hunters or some other law-and-order enforcing group to fool criminals into marking themselves. (Insanity: Paranoia)
  • There is no Ranald, it's just Tzeentch running a particularly long con. (Insanity: Mental Mutation... or maybe just replace the Insanity slot with a Mutation slot.)
  • There is no Ranald, or at least he was never a God. Any blessings and miracles are just manifestations of psychic group thought, or dumb unguided luck. All those crooks and gamblers have fooled themselves into thinking there's someone watching over them but there really isn't. (Insanity: Lack of Confidence or Faltering Steps)
  • The entire cult of Ranald is secretly run by some foreign entity. A mob of crooks based out of Tilea or Marienburg, and some percentage of your "income" has to be passed along to this outside group. (Insanity: Paranoia or possibly Xenophobia depending on the group, maybe Don't Leave Me if they're likely to kill to keep the secret.)
  • Ranald and Handrich are the same God... and this is... somehow... scary... or something... I dunno.  (Insanity: probably Gold Lust?)
  • There is no Verena (or Sigmar, or Shallya, etc. Insert-your-favorite-God-here)... they are just Ranald running a particularly long Con. (Insanity: Dreadful Insight)
  • Ranald is actually just the God of luck and chance, and nothing else. All this "God of Thieves" criminal nonsense is a perversion of his cult that was inflicted intentionally by some outside meddling force. (Insanity: Thrill-Seeker?)
  • The Pilgrimage of Fingers is actually dedicated to tearing down the institutions of nobility. The last few fingers aren't just fetch-it quests, they're assassination orders or market manipulations that will devastate entire provinces. (Insanity: Easily Goaded)
  • You're not sure what the secret is, but there definitely is one. Everytime you meet up with the higher-priests who would give you your orders, you black out and loose several hours of memories. They must be using some sort of mind control blessing, but to what ends? (Insanity: Fading Memories or Straying Thoughts)

Any of those could work if you wanted the big reveal to be something the players won't necessarily see coming. As for what the big reveal would have been in my campaign had the PCs decided this plotline into the den of thieves... well, like any good Ranaldite, my lips are sealed.  X

Some parting accessories: As mentioned above, one thing I don't like about the secret society cards is that you can't just hand them to your player(s) or you'll reveal all sorts of spoilers. WFRP3's whole design philosophy is that every ability should be on a card right at the player's fingertips. That suggested that I should gin up some small cards to hand out as the PC progresses along the path. Ta-da!

Membership Space 2:

Membership Space 5:

Inner Circle Space 7:

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