Just The Rules: Godbound

A couple days ago I wrote about the effort mechanic from Kevin Crawford’s game, Godbound. There is some great material in here, let’s see if there’s anything else I might want to use.

Bundle of Holding

If you find this post piques your interest in Godbound — and I hope it does, it’s a great game system — there is a Godbound Bundle of Holding active through April 27. I backed the Kickstarter back in the day and my only disappointment was in not being smart enough to back at a level that would get me the hardcover book. I ended up paying full bubble on that one a few months later.

The Bundle of Holding won’t get you the printed book, but it will get you all the Godbound PDFs.

Features of Interest

I had a quick look though the Godbound PDF, and I found quite a few ideas I might be interested in appropriating.

Worthy and Lesser Foes

In Godbound, some characters and creatures are more worthy than others. Rules affect worthy creatures differently than unworthy. All godbound characters are worthy, regardless of level, and any creature with more hit dice than the godbound character are worthy. Lesser foes are more easily dealt with than worthy foes, such as not receiving saving throws against gifts, while worthy foes might either receiving a saving throw or not be affected.

Damage RollDamage Taken
1 or lessNone
2 .. 51 point
6 .. 92 points
10 or more4 points

Damage done to lesser foes is not measured in hit points, but in hit dice. Look the rolled damage up on the table to the right, and that is how many points (or hit dice, against lesser foes) the target takes.

I can see situations where this might be worthwhile. FantasyCraft has some similar rules (special and regular characters), as does D&D 4e (minions).

Fray Dice

Godbound heroes have a Fray die, representing casual use of power. Each round a godbound hero can roll the Fray die and do the resulting damage to a lesser foe in sight. If there is any damage left over after this, the remainder can be applied to another target in range with equal or worse armor class.

This applies whether the godbound hero is martial or not. For an arcane-aspected godbound hero, the Fray damage might be from incidental magic missiles and the like.

The lesser foe receives no save against this damage.

Words and Gifts

Godbound represents divine power with Words of Creation, fundamental powers that can be used by godbound heroes. Each Word comes with an intrinsic benefit, and a collection of lesser and greater gifts that can be used.

This aligns almost perfectly with the divine blood post a few days ago. Like the idea of using a mystery to represent a divine bloodline, a Word’s gifts are much like a mystery’s revelations. I will of course have to make sure they fit together, but this could be an alternate approach, or at least alternate source of powers.


Facts are much like Fate aspects. Each is a brief statement about the character that, when applicable, gives a +4 bonus on attribute checks. They do not stack — a character with two relevant facts gets only a +4 bonus.

Sometimes a fact allows an automatic success, with no check needed. A character with a fact regarding an organization might automatically succeed on certain checks related to that organization. A fact might also satisfy a prerequisite for another ability, such as having certain special training or gear because of a fact.

A starting godbound hero has three facts, ideally “about their origins”, “about their past profession”, and finally “about a relationship with another entity”, ideally a group of some sort.

A godbound hero gains another fact every time the hero gains a level.

Facts vs Aspects

Facts and Fate aspects are quite similar, and I have a fond spot in my heart of aspects. I especially like how aspects can be compelled and used against a character, in exchange for more fate points. In fact, the best aspects can be used in this manner to get fate points for other purposes.

For instance, ‘strongest man in the world’ is probably generally positive, but I can see how it might lead to unnecessary challenges (“prove it!”). A better aspect might be “stronger than he knows” — both aspects give the same bonus, but might be applied in slightly different circumstances, but the latter is more easily compelled. The character might casually do feats of strength others can’t, but could have a habit of breaking things inconveniently.

I’m more inclined to adapt Fate aspects rather than facts.

Magic Traditions

Low magic (i.e. what non-godbound use, and some godbound pick up kind of incidentally) all follows certain rules, but there are multiple traditions that each use magic in a different way.

Of course I want to keep this in mind. It plays very well indeed with the path system, and I like to see distinct differences between casters.

Theurgy and Invocations

These are a higher form of magic usable by godbound, similarly powerful creatures, and archmages (high rank users of low magic, who pay dearly for the privilege). These are thematically similar to occult rituals from the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, but implemented differently.

World Building Tools

I think this is technically out of scope of my project, but I would recommend it as good reading on principle. Kevin usually includes a wealth of good world building tools and advice in his books, and does so in this book as well.

Keith’s Choice

I see myself making use of most of these ideas.

Worthy and Lesser Foes are a convenient division of creatures based on ability, and the distinction makes creating certain abilities and rules easier.

Fray Dice, I’m not sure of. I understand why they’re used here, but I’m not entirely certain I want to use them. At least, not generally; I can imagine situations where abilities might allow minor actions against lesser challenges.

Words and Gifts are likely, almost certain, to be considered when I’m designing abilities that fit the model. I might not keep the Words as they are presented, but I can see myself choosing gifts for divine bloodlines from the gifts of the Words.

Facts, I think I would not use as written. I’m more likely — and quite likely — to adapt Fate aspects and perhaps have them cost (and recover) effort instead.

Magic Traditions are very likely to come up. A basic path might be sufficient for a dabbler, but any dedicated caster (i.e. expert) will probably be associated with a tradition. I don’t know that I’d make a mechanical distinction between ‘arcane’ and ‘divine’ traditions, though I suspect there would be in-world distinctions.

Theurgy and Invocations are also likely to be present. I’ve always liked having rules for rituals and special powers that are outside the normal ‘spell casting’ rules.

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