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Paths to Immortality: Groupsby Rodger Burns
The 'canon' rules for acquiring Immortality assume that the process is an individual endeavour - one character, one sponsor, one set of tasks, one new Immortal being at the end of things. It's a reasonable starting place, but some characters (like the nine Korrigans and the Twelve Watchers) seem to run counter to the thought. In addition, Immortals are powerful and fairly alien beings - why does there have to be a one-to-one correspondence?
Following are a few guidelines for allowing a group of heroic characters to cooperate on a single path towards Immortality. At the completion of the path, the characters will be joined together as a group of Immortal beings with a shared Immortal life force and power source, but retaining their own personalities and histories and cooperating to achieve greater Immortal power.
The Petition: A group of characters wanting to achieve joint Immortality must travel together to petition an Immortal sponsor. They must act in consensus on all major acts, functioning well as a team and avoiding internal dissent; their progress will be observed and the challenges to their virtues will be designed to encourage internal strife.
The following modifiers apply to Immortal Arrival:-1 For each time that the characters feud or squabble amongst themselves
-1 Per test failed because the characters could not act as a team or disagreed as to the proper course of action - this stacks with the normal penalty for failure
+2 If the group has an explicit and successful system for working as a team and avoiding disagreement
When the sponsor arrives, the characters must present a gift worth at least 25,000 gp per member of the group seeking Immortality - a group of four would need a gift worth 100,000 gp, for instance. In addition, many Immortals are disinclined to accept the petition of a group, preferring instead to see each individual seeking Immortality on their own. Petitioning an Immortal who feels this way results in a -2 to -5 penalty on the response roll, depending on the strength of the Immortal's feelings.
The Paths: If the petition is accepted, the group as a whole embarks on the appropriate Path towards Immortality. The fact that a group, rather than an individual, is making the effort modifies the Paths as follows:
- Path of the Dynast: The group may nominate one of their number as a ruler, or may reign as a coequal council. In either case, each character must train a successor, and the group must construct a system of rule that provides a solid role for each successor rather than degenerating into autocracy or civil war. The trial consists of a minimum of three challenges to the kingdom and dynasty; each member of the group must, in turn, travel forward in time alone and overcome at least one challenge.
- Path of the Epic Hero: The characters function as an epic brotherhood of heroes, and must establish a legend for their group as well as individually. Each character must train a successor and create a different legendary weapon. During the Task, each member of the group must perform at least one impossible feat, that none of his partners could have achieved. (If the group is building a city in the sky, then the party thief might steal its foundation stone from the hearth of the Giant King, the mage might tame the clouds used to send the city aloft, and the mystic might use his bare hands to kill the great dragon sent to destroy the city.)
- Path of the Paragon: Each member of the group embarking on this path must create their own unique magical item. In addition, the magic items must unite in some way that unleashes some even mightier power. Each character of the group must recruit apprentices, and the group must insure that the apprentices honour and respect one another, working as allies even after the characters themselves have passed on to Immortality.
- Path of the Polymath: Each character will face two new lives as usual for individual Polymaths; in addition, each member of the group will be reincarnated in the body of one of his fellows, as a first level character. He will have to overcome his fellow's enemies, past faults and failures and atone for at least one past sin or wrongdoing. The character will have access to his own memories and that of his fellow's during this task; however, he will not recognise any of the other members of his group, or be able to associate with or aid them.
Attaining Immortality: If the group achieves Immortality, their life-forces are amalgamated into a single Immortal being. This character is a first-level Initiate; the mortal personalities share its Power pool, Home Plane and powers.
The new Immortal must maintain one avatar for each member of the original mortal group; this avatar houses the original mortal personality. Additional avatars can be controlled by any of the personalities, or an amalgam, as desired. Each of the mortal personalities can select different Special Powers, and can have a different set of ability scores (choosing which of its six scores to increase when Power is spent to improve abilities). Decisions about how to act in a crisis or further Immortal goals are made by compromise or consensus.
Campaign Implications: An Immortals game where all the characters are personalities of a single Immortal life-force is an interesting change from a standard Immortals game. Each avatar personality is run by a different player, and has nearly as much versatility as a standard Immortal, but less power and hitpoints overall (lessening the 'power creep' inherent in the WotI rules). Against this is the fact that the characters' experience gains all go into the same pool (as well as penalties due to poor play). The players have a powerful incentive to cooperate, and the combined cunning of an experienced group of players may just come close to matching the Intelligence and Wisdom possessed by a single mid-level Immortal!...
As NPCs, a 'grouped' Immortal is an interesting encounter - more diverse than a single Immortal with multiple avatars, more focused than a group of Immortals, and something a bit different from either. These characters are comparatively rare, but interesting when they do appear.