Outsiders are, by definition, “insiders” in the cosmological sense. They are closer to the behind-the-scenes activity of the observable cosmos. This manifests itself in many ways: fluency with Truespeech, the ability to store and channel essence, true immortality, and cosmic keys are major examples.
While cosmic keys are particularly the domain of gods, many potent outsiders can claim a key or two – even enterprising mortals occasionally claim a key. The keys manifest as physical objects, but they are also concepts, almost compacts with the universe. The act of collecting and activating keys is ultimately what unlocks a god’s portfolio.
Keys can be discovered through profound self-contemplation, crafted through great effort, discovered deep in remote planes, or wrested from vanquished foes. Regardless of the means of discovery, the key must be claimed through a process of attunement. [TBD]
If an individual loses control of a key, it can sense whether the key still exists, and whether it has been attuned to another being. The former owner has only a vague sense of the distance and planar location of the key. If the key is unclaimed and the former owner qualifies to claim it, she need only touch the key to reclaim it. If it has been claimed by another, then the former owner must take the key to her own divine realm, holy site, or equivalent place of power before the attunement process can begin.
Keys are usually attuned to individual deities, but they can be shared among several, usually members of a tight pantheon. They have a dual existence, both as abstractions (prayers, names, and ceremonies) and as objects (usually sculptures and jewelry, but sometimes scepters, weapons, textiles, or architectural features).
Keys of Invocation
Those who have a personal truename and know it have begun to grasp the intrinsic connection between cosmos and self. Through research, meditation, and quests, they can grasp the keys of invocation, allowing them to converse with any who speak the names or titles inscribed on the keys. Binders can use these keys in sigils to invoke the bearer and tap into its power, but most keys of invocation are used to draw a god’s attention to rites and vows, or to allow a powerful outsider’s minions to speak with their master.
Whenever the key’s name or title is spoken aloud or its symbol traced, the bearer becomes aware that it has been invoked. Succeeding a level check allows the bearer to hear what the invoker is saying, and converse directly for one round per character level/ HD. The base DC is 25, and the following modifiers apply (and stack):
+5 bonus if the invoker is known to the bearer
+5 bonus if the bearer is specifically listening for an invocation
- +5 bonus if the invoker and bearer are on the same plane
- +5 bonus if the invoker or bearer knows the other’s true name (or key(s) of veneration)
The keys of invocation take on added power for gods: their remote sensing and remote communication powers stem from the power of these cosmic keys. The relatively low DC of the level check means that lesser beings may occasionally miss an invocation, but gods almost never do. They may not bother to listen or respond, but they still notice.
Even imprisoned and otherwise disabled gods can use keys of invocation, though their compromised state makes the link tenuous and confusing, more like a dream than a conversation.
Those who seek to claim a key of invocation must know their personal truename. No more than one such key can be claimed per 10 character levels or HD. At least one such key is required for a quasi-deity to claim a portfolio and reach Divine Rank 1.
Keys of the Litany
Once an outsider has collected two keys of invocation, it can use those as the basis for crafting keys of the litany. These keys often manifest as scrolls or tablets inscribed with rites and observances for the faithful to carry out. While a god’s priesthood can always use worship services to direct essence to their god, keys of the litany create veneration rites that require no priesthood. The litany is tied enough to the god’s identity that anyone anywhere can perform the rite and honor the deity.
The god’s proper names and titles do not have to be used as such in the performance of these rites. If they are, the deity can tell the difference between its name within the context of a veneration rite and when used elsewhere.
The god is aware when its veneration rites are being performed, and can pinpoint the activity within one mile. If the rite is close enough to a remote sensing location, the deity can choose to observe the rite directly. If the rite is compromised (improper wording, inappropriate materials, etc.), the god is also aware of the fact. The power of the veneration rite flows as much from accuracy as it does from intent.
Only beings that can store essence (fey and other outsiders) can claim keys of the litany.
Keys of the Watcher
These keys are more potent than keys of invocation, and are only accessible to deities (Divine Rank 0+). These keys take the form of specific symbols and images: shapes, patterns, and representative art. Wherever these symbols are used, even accidentally or by chance, the god can use the symbol as a remote sensing location. If the symbol is deliberately used (carved into a statue, tattooed on flesh, etc.), the god can act as if it were physically present: sensing, communicating, and casting spells from the symbol. It cannot move or alter the symbol itself, though its resourceful priesthood might have methods to do so…
While this key is usually used to create idols and altars for a god’s faithful, it is occasionally useful in lieu of salient divine abilities like Avatar and Possess Mortal. Unlike those abilities, the symbol itself is not a part of the deity. The deity can change the connection at will among the following states, as a free action:
- Awareness: the deity can sense the status of the symbol, whether it is intact, damaged, or presently being damaged.
- Remote Viewing: the symbol functions as a remote viewing site.
- Remote Action: the deity is considered present within the symbol. It cannot move the symbol without outside help (like an animate objects spell), but it can make touch attacks on anything touching the symbol, and ranged attacks can emanate from the symbol. While in this state, others can affect the deity in similar fashion, though any physical damage is dealt to the symbol, not to the deity. While engaged this way, the deity’s damage reduction applies to the symbol. Projecting into the symbol in this way costs a point of essence to initiate. If the symbol is destroyed while the deity is projected, it loses 10 points of essence as the link is severed.
Keys of the Watcher are only usable as long as the deity is capable of spending essence.
Keys of Consecration
These keys grant the owner’s followers the ability to make temporary holy sites to the deity. The ritual requires one hour, 10 points of essence, and 1,000gp of materials per intended level of the holy site, and the effects last for one week.
Using this ritual creates ripples in the planar tapestry, which mana-sensitives may detect at a range of 1 mile per intended level of the holy site. These ripples begin as soon as the ritual begins.
A deity must have a Divine Rank of 1 or more to claim a key of consecration, and may claim one such key per divine rank.
Keys of Manifestation
The most versatile of keys grant the deity new (supernatural or extraordinary) abilities. As the deity explores and deepens its connection with the cosmos, it can claim keys that give it potent abilities that would normally be classified as magic.
A deity must have a Divine Rank of 1 or more to claim a key of manifestation, and may claim one such key per divine rank (for supernatural abilities) or one per two (for extraordinary abilities).