Inspiration and Despair


“God never fails. It is the faith of men which fails.”

The human heart is fierce and valiant, able to struggle through adversity and perform feats of valor, kindness, and terror in the name of the things that it holds dear. The heart is the seat of human passion, but passion is fickle, and subject to the ups and downs of circumstance and the trials and successes of dramatic events. When events transpire which uplift a character, they gain Hope. Hope allows a character to use one Skill a single time as if it were one rank higher than it is.   This can be used for something like a single crafted item, a single entry into Footwork, or some other use of a Skill at a level higher.  Only Skills that the users have at least one rank in can be increased this way, and Skills cannot exceed level 5.     

Certain powers, abilities, and rituals grant Hope to their beneficiaries.  Hope can stack up to 5 times, though can only be used to increase a Skill by one rank for a use – more Hope gives more applications of the single additional Rank.  Unused Hope fades an hour after the character got Hope last.

Just as Hope uplifts, Despair gnaws at the soul of men as well. Despair is more insidious, creeping into the heart and settling there like a cancer. Characters gain Despair when they undergo personal tragedies or challenges to their core principles, such as the following circumstances:
A close friend or companion dies.
The character suffers a Personal Failure
The character violates a Belief

Despair damages the character’s ability to believe in themselves and others, and reduces all of their Skills by 1 Rank.  Characters cannot gain Hope while they have any Despair, any they had is lost.  Despair can stack up to 5 times, and is difficult to shake once acquired.   When characters with high Faith Attribute violate their own principles and gain Despair from violating a Belief or a Personal Failure, they gain an extra Despair for each level of their Faith Attribute above Ordinary.

Shaking Despair

Some recover from Despair by dulling the pain with wine, sex, or violence, escaping into Depravity to soothe their hurts by inflicting their pain on the world.  Some people cope by letting the Despair change their personality for good, accepting the darkness by giving it cracks to bury itself in and trouble them no more.  Some find the strength to move on through their faith, both their personal devotion or their religious zeal.

For every point of new Depravity earned, the character loses 1 Despair.  
If the character accepts a related Insanity, either starting a new Mild Insanity or increasing an existing one by one grade, they may remove a point of Despair.
The character earns a Personal Victory in their Devotion.

If Despair is gained that would bring a character over the 5 Despair maximum, one Despair is immediately spent toward gaining an Insanity to make room for the new one.  These Insanities tend to bring the character closer to actions that may lead them to suicide, or some other ignoble end.
If Devotion and Despair are giving simultaneous penalties to Skill levels, those levels combine.  If Devotion is giving a bonus while Despair gives a penalty, the total levels after all bonuses and penalties are considered is the functional Skill level.