The spirit of the universe attends to your thoughts, taking every expressed hope or fear as a suggestion. Nihilistic fantasies consume the pessimist. Extraordinary luck finds the optimist. Spiritual beings in particular find prayers answered. Longer rituals are better. Narcissists make the best villains, and the best heroes have a positive mental attitude.
The Anointed One attends to deeds of the living, subtly steering the course of fate to reward the righteous and punish the wicked. The wise live in alignment with his will. The virtuous discover good luck with each turn, while the villainous stumble into unfortunate tragedy.
Virtues and vices, two sides of a coin tossed by fate, are described in the holy writings. A heavenly tally marks progression and regression. The primary virtues and vices are summarized below. (Adapted from The Seven Heavenly Virtues).
Purity, knowledge, honesty, wisdom as compared to lust, impurity, ignorance, dishonestly, foolishness.
Discretion of sexual conduct according to one’s state in life; the practice of courtly love. Cleanliness through cultivated good health and hygiene, and maintained by refraining from intoxicants. To be honest with oneself, one’s family, one’s friends, and to all of humanity. Embracing of moral wholesomeness and achieving purity of thought-through education and betterment. The ability to refrain from being distracted and influenced by hostility, temptation or corruption.
Humanism, justice, honor, abstinence as compared to gluttony, inhumanity, injustice, dishonor, indulgence.
Restraint, temperance, justice. Constant mindfulness of others and one’s surroundings; practicing self-control, abstinence, moderation and deferred gratification. Prudence to judge between actions with regard to appropriate actions at a given time. Proper moderation between self-interest, versus public-interest, and against the rights and needs of others.
Goodwill, benevolence, generosity, sacrifice as compared to greed, avarice, stinginess, hoarding.
Generosity, charity, self-sacrifice; the term should not be confused with the more restricted modern use of the word charity to mean benevolent giving. Love, in the sense of an unlimited loving kindness towards all others, is held to be the ultimate perfection of the human spirit. Such love is self-sacrificial. It is infused into the soul—and by its residing in the will rather than emotions, regardless of what emotions it stirs up.
Persistence, fortitude, effort, ethics, rectitude as compared to sloth, giving up, giving in to fear, lacking integrity, pragmatic compromise.
A zealous and careful nature in one’s actions and work; decisive work ethic, steadfastness in belief, fortitude, and the capability of not giving up. Budgeting one’s time; monitoring one’s own activities to guard against laziness. Upholding one’s convictions at all times, especially when no one else is watching (integrity).
Mercy, sufferance as compared to wrath, impatience.
Forbearance and endurance through moderation. Enduring the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity. Resolving conflicts and injustice peacefully, as opposed to resorting to violence. Accepting the grace to forgive; to show mercy. Creating a sense of peaceful stability and community rather than suffering, hostility, and antagonism.
Satisfaction, loyalty, compassion, sympathy, positivity as compared to envy, disatisfaction, disloyalty, unconcern for other’s suffering, negativity.
Charity, compassion and friendship for its own sake. Empathy and trust without prejudice or resentment. Unselfish love and voluntary kindness without bias or spite. Having positive outlooks and cheerful demeanor; to inspire kindness in others.
Bravery, modesty, reverence as compared to misplaced pride, immodesty, irreverence.
Modest behavior, selflessness, and the giving of respect. Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less. It is a spirit of self-examination; a hermeneutic of suspicion toward yourself and charity toward people you disagree with. The courage of the heart necessary to undertake tasks which are difficult, tedious or unglamorous, and to graciously accept the sacrifices involved. Reverence for those who have wisdom and those who selflessly teach in love. Giving credit where credit is due; not unfairly glorifying one’s own self. Being faithful to promises, no matter how big or small they may be. Refraining from despair. The ability to confront fear and uncertainty, or intimidation.
Application in Gameplay
In game terms, each session is evaluated for virtues and vices. A session is rated as negative, neutral or positive. It’s applied to a running tally. When negative, opportunities for mercy or good luck are likely to go bad. When positive, the group may experience good luck. This state of grace can only influence situations where a judgement call must be made by the DM and there no clear rule. It never changes dice rolls, for instance. It is not an excuse for fudging.
Consider the case where adventures stand outside a close door, beyond which are hellhounds. With positive grace, the party smells brimstone and hears paws pacing on stone. With neutral grace, the DM calls for a WIS check, only revealing clues on success. With negative grace, no clues are offered. A group of wicked characters might still purposely listen at the door, in which case they’d hear the hounds walking around.