My home group is close to finishing up a Numenera campaign, and several of them are itching for some Pathfinder, so I'm planning on running Rise of the Runelords for them. We've still got a couple of months to go, but I want to go ahead and start prepping for it. (if you're in my group, stop reading this)
Anyway, while skimming over the adventure path, one thing that stuck out to me as really cool was keeping track of their individual acts of sin and virtue. Since Thassilonian magic is all about sin, I really like the concept of having a game mechanic that affects the players to drive it home.
However, the payoff is really underwhelming -- four chapters of paperwork for some minor static bonuses or penalties in certain areas of the fifth part? I've searched around and seen other people saying they dropped the mechanic entirely and their players never batted an eye.
With that in mind, I've been thinking about ways that I could expand on that. If energy from the runewells activating is enough to affect NPCs, I think it's perfectly reasonable that they might cause permanent, more significant changes in powerful characters who go around exemplifying certain virtues (or sins), possibly starting in chapter 4 and continuing through the end of the campaign.
So, I'm still thinking of exactly what I might do, and I was curious if anybody else had any suggestions or if you've done something similar.
Ideas so far include:
For particularly virtuous characters, giving them a bonus to saving throws against spells of the school associated with that virtue.
Alternately, I might give each character a bonus feat associated with their strongest virtue -- maybe something like the virtue feats out of Champions of Purity. I'd want to make sure it's something the character in question would actually use, though.
If a character is particularly strong in two virtues, give them some kind of bonus against the school that opposes those virtues; for example, a character who has displayed a lot of charity and zeal might get a bonus against creates who use evocation abilities. The exact type of bonus would probably depend on the character; a melee character might get a "smite"-like ability, while a caster might get a secondary effect on their spells when used against the target.
On the other hand, I'd give particularly sinful characters some kind of penalty associated with their primary sin. The easiest thing to do would be a penalty against spells associated with that sin.
I'd like it to be something more interesting, though, so I might go with some kind of physical corruption (see the 3.5 book Heroes of Horror); for example, a particularly slothful character might develop painful lumps that make it hard to move, or a gluttonous characters' gums might begin to swell and bleed.
That's all I've got right now. My goals here are to provide rewards for being heroic and also to provide unique, memorable attributes for everybody's characters ("So there was this campaign I was in once where my character could --"). Any other ideas?