Hope and Despair


Hope & Despair

Hope & Despair

Hope & 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 an extra Parry, an extra step of Stealth, a single crafted item, 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.  Skills that grant additional expended uses, such as Parry or Persuade can only be granted a single additional use this way in a scene (since the Skill is only increased one level at all).   

Certain powers, abilities, and rituals grant Hope to their beneficiaries, and characters also gain Hope when a scene resolves in favor of their Devotion. 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 at the end of the scene or hour, so the source of Hope generally needs to be in the same scene as the Hope is used in.


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 friend or companion dies.
  • You are forced to work against your Devotion or Honor Code.
  • Your Devotion suffers some major damage or setback

Despair damages the character's ability to believe in themselves and others, and reduces all of their Skills by 1 Rank. Despair can stack up to 5 times, and is difficult to shake once acquired. Some men shake it by dulling the pain with wine, women, or violence, escaping into Depravity to soothe their hurts by inflicting their pain on the world. For every point of Depravity earned, the character loses 1 Despair. 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. 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.

Once affected by Despair, all Hope fades immediately, and the character cannot gain Hope while they have any Despair.

It is possible to recover from Despair through the support of those who care for you.  If their supporter uses the Therapy Downtime action, as well as performing a roleplay scene working through the hardships on the Gothic Forums in a scene with the aggrieved, 1 Despair can be removed over the Downtime.

Lastly, a character may recover from Despair through a major personal victory relating directly to the character's 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.