Redemption is a major theme in the Worldwound Campaign, and PCs have many chances during the campaign to defeat evil with wits or words rather than swords or spells. The witch hunts of Kenabres have slowed, but corruption still plagues the crusaders, and formerly good men and women turn to evil every day.
Path to Redemption
Changing alignment can be a tricky process, both in mechanical and roleplaying terms. Alignment shifts have little mechanical effect on characters of classes without alignment restrictions, so they can be as simple as the GM mentioning a drift one way or another (something I will do throughout the campaign). For some, though, redemption can be a driving force for character development or plots within a campaign. And for others, the desire to take a prestige or base class that requires characters to be good, or to use a good-aligned item, might encourage them to seek a purer path. This system presents guidelines for tracking a creature’s path toward redemption. It allows for a great degree of customization and alteration to ensure it feels natural for players and fits comfortably into an ongoing campaign. But keep in mind that certain classes and other rules require a more demanding form of redemption, such as a paladin seeking atonement or a cleric or druid attempting to regain her spell powers. This system does not circumvent such requirements.
Each character has her own unique path to good. Many creatures are set in their ways and don’t vacillate between distinct ethical philosophies, making such a fundamental change in thinking and acting an arduous road. The notion of good is as much about intention as it is about action. Simply committing a series of good acts is not enough to change a creature’s alignment—it must want deep down within itself to be good. As such, finding true redemption involves the creature passing through a number of stages on its path to goodness.
Determining a creature’s intention is largely a roleplaying task. Creatures that truly seek redemption should display genuine remorse over evil acts they’ve committed and must be willing to embark on the difficult road to becoming good. If you are actively seeking to redeem a creature, there is no guarantee of success, but by offering it examples of mercy and decency you might spark a desire to do good in its heart. Many times, confessing one’s past sins and evil deeds is the first step toward redemption. Purposefully completing at least one penance (as proposed by a player or required by the GM) and succeeding at a Will save as outlined in the following rules should prove a creature is ready to begin its journey.
Calculating the Path to Good
To alter its alignment toward good, a creature must pass through a number of stages, depending on its starting alignment. A creature with an evil alignment must first shift its alignment to neutral before shifting its alignment to good. To make this shift, the creature must perform a number of penances equal to double its total Hit Dice. This number of penances must be completed for each stage of shift in alignment, from evil to neutral and again from neutral to good. If the creature seeking to become good gains additional Hit Dice or levels during the course of its redemption, the number of penances to be completed should reflect its new total Hit Dice. For example, if a creature with a total of 7 Hit Dice completes 14 penances to shift from evil to neutral, but gains a level before completing its path from neutral to good, its total Hit Dice rise to 8 and it must now complete 16 penances in order to complete its path of redemption.
For exceptionally evil creatures, the GM may wish to increase the required number of penances to reflect a life of utter depravity. For creatures with the evil subtype, their alignment is ingrained into their very soul, and the GM may rule that they are beyond redemption of this sort or at the very least a difficult and exceptional series of tasks must be completed to facilitate the change in alignment.
To pass through each stage of its path to good, a creature must perform a number of good deeds equal to double its total Hit Dice. The GM decides exactly which penances are appropriate, but examples of such acts include things as simple as charity to a beggar or as complex as completing a quest for a good faith or organization.
When a creature completes the penances required for a stage, it must succeed at a Will save to overcome its nature. The DC of this save is equal to 10 + 1/2 the creature’s total Hit Dice + its Charisma modifier.
If this save is successful, the penances have taken hold and the creature has completed another step toward becoming good. If the creature fails this save, it must complete another deed in order to gain a chance to attempt another save. It can continue to complete additional deeds after each failed save until it succeeds.
It is far easier for a creature to change its alignment with the tutelage and support of another. Someone who wishes to become good can seek out the support of a good creature to improve its own chances of success. At each stage, a creature may enlist the help of a number of sponsors up to its Charisma modifier. Each sponsor aiding a creature on its path to redemption provides a +1 bonus on the creature’s Will save (or saves, if the first save is unsuccessful) to complete that stage of its redemption.
To be a sponsor, a creature must absolutely believe in the penitent’s ability and sincere intention to change its alignment. This certainty may arise from friendship, divine guidance, the application of divinations or mundane interrogation, or any other source that results in absolute conviction that the subject desires to be good.
Each minor evil act a creature performs (casting spells with the evil descriptor, praying to an evil deity, using an evil magic device, mind controlling good creatures to commit evil acts, inflicting pain on a helpless subject, and so on) counts against whatever penances the character has already performed, effectively canceling one out. Any major evil act (knowingly slaying an innocent creature, spreading a disease among a community, inflicting pain on an innocent subject, or animating the dead) undoes all of the good work done for the current stage, and the creature must begin that stage anew. A GM may rule that a particularly heinous act reverses all work done, and shifts the creature back to its original evil alignment.
The Nature of Demons and Cultists
They are servants of chaos, and revel in destruction and desecration. Many sites that were once sacred to nations and faiths have been corrupted by their influence, often even turned into bastions of power for these beings. Returning these sites to their former glory, or even attempting to, can bolster the morale of crusaders who might come across them in the future. Seeing that the spark of humanity is not so easily stamped out can be the difference between the will to go on and the decision to give up.
Keep this goal in your minds as you adventure in these lands, and know that pausing to take the time to re-sanctify (or even to merely clean) a despoiled place of worship or honor can win you favor. Do not lightly pass by the dead, either; be aware that providing them the proper rites can keep their spirits from succumbing to the will of those more powerful than they were, and keep them from becoming future foes of yours.
Performing Evil Acts
If they are minor or major, as listed in the “Relapse” section, they have the chance of shifting a good character’s alignment, operating in reverse the rules listed under “Penance” and “Calculating the Path to Good.” If a character becomes evil, it will be removed from play after switching over to the demons’ side, and the player must start a new character at <party> minus <one> minus <one>.