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Using Miracles in Nobilis
The Nobilis sourcebook is somewhat confused on the subject of miracles, and manages to contradict itself in places. This page is my attempt at a summary of the rules as I understand them. In the cases where the text disagrees with the examples given, I’ve gone with the examples.
Step 1: What do you want to do?
As always, the first step is figuring out what you want your character to do. If it’s within the realms of normal human possibility, it just happens automatically unless it’s opposed by some other being of power.
Step 2: Is it a Gift?
If you want to do something you purchased as a Gift at character creation (or later, with Character Points earned), it just happens automatically (and for free) unless it’s opposed by some other being of power.
Step 3: Aspect, Domain, Realm or Spirit?
Each Miracle you use is tied to one of your four Attributes, and thus one of your four Miracle Point pools. Which of the four depends on what kind of miracle you’re doing.
- Aspect miracles are all about super-powering your physical and mental abilities.
- Domain miracles are the ones tied into your Estates, where you can affect whatever you're the Power of.
- Realm miracles are those that affect your Chancel, and things within it.
- Spirit doesn't use miracles like the rest. Spirit can be used for claiming Anchors, detecting traces of miracles used by other Powers, and for the ritual magics of the Nobilis.
Step 4: How hard is the Miracle?
Each potential miracle is assigned a level based on how difficult it is. This will later determine how costly the miracle is to use. Pick a description that matches what you’re trying to do. There are fuller descriptions in the book, starting on page 86 for Aspect.
For Aspect (these are quite woolly):
- 0: Peak human performance e.g. graceful jump; identifying Nobles as Nobles etc.
- 1: High-level human, e.g. Olympic long jump.
- 2: World record performance, e.g. world record jump.
- 3: Improbable feats, physically possible but not something a human could attempt, e.g. skeet-surfing.
- 4: Very Improbable feats, e.g. running on heads.
- 5: Impossible for humans, catching a bullet.
- 6: Universally improbable, e.g. parrying Uzi fire.
- 7: Impossible for anyone (local effects), e.g. lifting a hill.
- 8: Impossible for anyone (non-local effects), e.g. lifting a mountain.
- 9: Fabled, e.g. hiding a mountain.
For Domain, these are all of one of your Estates, e.g. a Greater Creation of Storms:
- 0: Estate-driven divinations, e.g. identify threats to the concept of Storm.
- 1: Ghost miracles, e.g. make a day slightly gloomier.
- 2: Lesser Divinations, e.g. know when a storm will hit.
- 3: Lesser Preservations, e.g. make it rain for days.
- 4: Lesser Creations, e.g. create a lightning storm or drizzle.
- 5: Lesser Destructions, e.g. clear away rainclouds, and Major Divinations, e.g. scry in a bowl of rainwater.
- 6: Lesser Changes, e.g. make it hail blueberries, and Major Preservations, e.g. make an ongoing storm perpetual.
- 7: Major Creations, e.g. create a hurricane, tornado or monsoon.
- 8: Major Destructions, e.g. calm the sky above an entire ocean.
- 9: Major Changes, e.g. make it rain every third day in a given Chancel.
For Realm, the descriptions (Lesser Preservation, etc.) are as above. Realm Miracles are not tied to your estates – you may Lesserly Preserve or Majorly Create anything – but the effect must take place in and be confined to your Chancel.
Spirit, as previously mentioned, doesn’t really have Miracles in the same way that the others do. Performing the Rituals of the Nobilis will be covered on a separate page.
Step 5: How much is it going to cost you?
Any Miracle of a level less than or equal to the number of dots you have in that attribute is free. (This is referred to as a ‘Simple’ Miracle.) For example, a Noble with 3 Aspect dots can perform “Improbable feats” (or anything lesser) for free. A Noble with 4 Domain dots can perform Lesser Creations for free.
One level more than your number of dots is considered a ‘Normal’ miracle, and will cost you 1 MP of the appropriate type. Two levels more is considered ‘Hard’, for a cost of 2 MP. Three or four levels higher (‘Deep’) costs 4 MP, and 5-8 levels higher requires use of a ‘Word of Power’, costing 8 MP and a wound.
For example: Elsa, the Power of Machinery, has 3 Domain dots and 6 Domain Miracle Points. She is onboard an aerial battleship that has taken heavy damage, and she wishes to use a Miracle to keep it safely flying. For such a huge ship this is a Major Preservation of Machinery, a level 6 Miracle. For a Noble with 3 Domain dots, this is a Hard Miracle, and will cost her 4 Domain Miracle Points. She’ll be left with two spare.
Step 6: Add penetration!
If you’re up against another Noble, an Excrucian or even an Imperator, they will have an ‘Auctoritas’ that prevents miracles from directly affecting them.
If your miracle is directly targetting an enemy, add 1 level of difficulty for each point of Penetration you wish the miracle to have. The Penetration value of your miracle must be greater than the target’s Auctoritas for it to be effective. For this reason, directly attacking other Powers with Miracles is risky, expensive, and rarely a good idea.
Step 7: Roleplay it!
Your Miracle triggers, have fun with it!
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