This time round I wanted to talk about the 'occult' aspects of Fading Suns Third Edition (FS3). Vidar has already released some information through his 'Void Transmissions'. We tend to speak on the blogs in terms of the team did this and the team did that. But credit where credit is due, when I handed what I'd written on the Theurgy chapter to Vidar and told him to go for it, I had no idea what I was going to get back. Frankly words cannot describe how happy I was with the text he turned in.
We had been trying to escape the 'wizards guild' appearance of theurgy and I think what we have manage to achieve that. The section on theurgy actually covers a lot more than just theurgy. Theurgy itself does not exist in a vacuum, but is based upon the religious rituals performed by mundane priests, these sacraments are described and should be a must read section for anyone playing a priest even if they are not theurgically inclined.
Theurgy itself is now grouped by Patron Saint rather than by religious order, and each theurge should choose a patron to which they feel personally called. Naturally the patrons we deal within this chapter are those of the Prophet's Disciples but it is my hope that other lesser saints will be revealed in future products. Naturally certain sects tend to venerate some saints over others, the Avesti preferring Saint Maya, or Saint Hombor for example, but there is nothing to stop an Avesti theurge form venerating Saint Amalthea or Saint Paulus. The rites available from each patron reflect the general character of that Saint, Amalthea being healing, and Maya being justice for example.
Theurgy itself has been over hauled, one of the things that struck the team was the shear randomness of ritual effects, and that to us seamed wrong. This is supposed to be a ritual practice for a very deliberate and specific effect.
The way in which rites are performed has been revised allowing most rites to be cast in one of three different modes, as a quick Blessing, a short Prayer or and a lengthy Sermon. This does not change the out come of the successful rite, but only the ease with which it can be called, a Blessing being the fastest but hardest to perform, while Semons take much longer but are the easiest to manifest.
Hubris is the dark side of theurgy, a swelling of sinful pride in ones power. Though this is now governed by the 'attribute pool' system it should be very familiar to everyone who has played FS2.
The final icing on the cake is the inclusion of Theurgical Operations. These are long winded and complex magical rites, that will often take years of preparation to complete or become the focus of an epic. They represent the seeking of higher truths in the universe, and should be considered a game or quest device. Certainly it is unlikely that a player character will be able perform any one of these operations at character creation, but will likely have to quest long and hard to discover both the specifics of the rite and learn all its individual components. These are arcane experiments to which a theurge can dedicate himself and can result in the strange and bizarre such as the creation of life in the form of a Homunculus, or other weird effects. Of course many would denounce such a practice as blasphemy and hubris made manifest.