Arcana is carefully guarded by the Church. People who learn this without the Church’s express permission are considered heretics, a crime which is punishable by death. Those classes with Arcana can still take it as a skill, but only with the DM’s permission, as it represents access to forbidden knowledge gained with the consent of the Inquisition.
In lieu of Arcana, players can take Sygaldry—the study of runes and their application. The Keepers record and teach the known runes. The University’s Artificers in Wintersholm not only teach the known runes, but apply their power through metallurgy, alchemy, and other practices. A character trained in Sygaldry allows him to recognize runes, understand which combinations of runes lead to which functions, and to discover new runes. Training can either represent formal academic study of runes, or the hands-on application of them through artificing.
Since Arcane rituals and spells are dangerous and forbidden, many magical effects or items are created through artificing and using runes rather than with magical energy. In addition, practical items such as double-thick windows and ever-burning lamps are created through artificing, even though many things are impractical. For example, holding bricks together without mortar using runes is possible, but the balancing of these runes makes doing this very tricky, so it’s just easier to use mortar.
Artificers and their skills are only appreciated in Scardova’s few large cities. Outside of that, many smaller communities regard such folks with suspicion, given that artificing seems very close to magic. In Scardova, artificing is based on Runes, which have their source in the divine (Runes are the True Names of things), so there’s no chance of corruption, but few folks know this.
Modifications to the Inspiration System
During character creation, players will follow the standard rules and come up with 2 traits for their PC, 1 ideal, 1 bond, and 1 flaw. These should ideally be detailed and provocative, yet uses simple phrasing. So, instead of the trait “Suave”, a better one might be “A girl in every town”. Instead of “Regretful”, a better one might be “Scars from the War”. Flaws should be something that could come up regularly, as they’ll be used to help you generate more Hero Points in play (see below). So, don’t have a flaw like “Afraid of white mice”.
In this game, each PC will begin with 3 Hero Points. Hero points can be used a few ways:
1- Inspiration: Spend a Hero Point to get advantage on any roll in which the character’s traits, ideal, or bond can reasonably apply. For example, if your character has the “A girl in every town” trait, you could gain advantage on any Charisma (Persuade) roll to seduce someone. Or, if your character had the “Old Finn” bond, you could spend a Hero Point to gain advantage on a roll relating to him. This could, in rare instances, even apply to your flaw. For example, if you had the flaw “stubborn as a mule” you might use this to spend a Hero Point to resist someone’s attempt to persuade you.
2- Protection of Alm: Spend a Hero Point to halve the damage from any one attack. This applies to only one damage roll, not all the damage from multiple attacks in a single round.
3- Hero of Alm: Spend all of your current Hero Points (minimum of 1) to stabilize your character and not die.
4- Make a minor declaration: Spend a Hero Point to declare a minor story detail. For example, a character could spend a point to declare, using his “A girl in every town” trait, that he had a previous relationship with the watch captain’s daughter upon entering a town for the first time. Spend the point, and it’s true (subject to DM approval).
Earning Hero Points
Players can earn Hero Points in 1 of 2 ways. First, anytime the DM uses the character’s traits, ideal, bond, or (more likely) flaw to impose disadvantage on a roll, players get a Hero Point. This creates a dynamic back-and-forth, where players will occasionally hose their characters to earn points to be more awesome later. Second, anytime the DM uses the character’s traits, ideal, bond, or flaw to cause trouble for the character in the story, players will gain a Hero Point. Players are welcome during game to suggest instances where either of these things would occur. Both of these ways to earn points imply that traits and the like should be double-sided. For example, “A girl in every town” can be used by the character for advantages or by the DM to cause the character problems.
Hero Points are not a static quantity, so players can earn more than their starting value during play. At certain plot points in the game, Hero Points will return to the starting values of 3, regardless of whether characters have more or less than this total.