GURPS developed a very strong magic system in one its first supplements. Other systems came later, and Fourth Edition has done a great job expanding the options, and systems available.

But religious magic has been stuck with the advice from GURPS Religion, which boiled down to ‘use the normal skill-based magic and substitute Clerical Investment for Magery’. GURPS Powers: Divine Favor is a small PDF product that introduces an entire new system based on the precepts in GURPS Powers (which is not needed to use this).

The main idea is a leveled advantage called “Divine Favor”, which allows a character attempt to call upon the power of his god directly, as long as he takes and sticks to at least 10 points of disadvantages that represent the character’s faith (vows, code of honor, etc). When a character needs a miracle, he rolls 3d6 against the level of his Favor, and if it works, his god has heard him.

From there, the GM does a reaction roll for the god (a standard mechanic) and on a ‘good’ or better reaction, the god intervenes with a miracle (chosen by the GM). Neutral reactions still generate a small bonus, and beware of bad reactions!

Since the minimum roll is ‘3’, the Divine Favor advantage starts at level 3, but a Pyramid article proposes levels 0-2, which require getting positive modifiers to get the target number to a minimum of 3 (such as taking extra time, praying inside a church/temple dedicated to that god, a large group…). If level 0 Divine Favor is allowed then anyone with the disadvantages defined as required by that god could get his attention.

In addition to this, there’s also a system of specific and learned prayers. These are less random, with pre-defined limits. Specific prayers are a case of asking the god for a specific miracle, instead of just ‘Help!’ Generally, nothing bad will happen, but the truly outstanding results of an excellent reaction roll cannot happen either. A learned prayer is a ‘power’ by any other name. It’s paid for with points, it can be done without any rolling; it’s a permanent feature of the character. Of course, it is linked to Divine Favor, and if something happens to that (violating the prerequisite disadvantage(s) of the god), it stops working. The bulk of the PDF is eight pages of example miracles already priced out.

When I saw this title, I didn’t think much of it with GURPS’ poor track record of divine magic, and just picked it up cheap on sale. Once I read it, I was very impressed. It’s a clever idea, well done and presented, and feels so right for divine magic I don’t think I’d ever use any other system for it.