Sunday, January 31, 2016

that old time religion

"Later he saw Jesus move from tree to tree in the back of his mind, a wild ragged figure motioning him to turn around and come off into the dark where he was not sure of his footing, where he might be walking on water and not know it and then suddenly know it and drown."
 from Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood

Thinking about this post. Also thinking about Mononoke. The standard old school D&D cleric worships an impersonal, benevolent god. That's an okay model, but I like the idea of deities as more present, dangerous, and visceral. A little more animist, I guess. Clerics can befriend gods, or form grudging alliances with them, or press them into service. Sometimes, clerics have to kill them. In this model, gods are NPCs and spells and adventures in one, and they influence clerics (shamans really, I guess) in direct ways.

Anyways, here's a sketch of what this would look like:

She rebelled against her masters, so they tied her to a tree out in the scrub and left her there to die. When she finally became too tired to kick away the coyotes, when she had nothing but three days of hunger and three days of thirst, when her will to live exceeded anything her body could do, she swore by the blood in her mouth and then sun in her eyes that there would be a reckoning.

There is a tree in courtyard of the mayor's house in the village of Segundo. It grows the most remarkable red flowers and draws the most remarkable red butterflies. The mayor ignores them, but every morning he pours a bottle of excellent red wine on the tree's roots, and girdles its trunk with another red sash. He is a fine man, the nephew of the old lord, so the Segunderos ignore these eccentricities, but they wonder why he would lavish so much attention on a tree while ignoring the fruits of his labor, or why he would grow so fearful when he found out the merchant wouldn't be bringing any shipments of wine for the second season in a row.

La Dama Roja, Goddess of Blood and Sunshine
AC 16 HD 3+1 MV 90’ (30') ATK Spear DMG 1d8+1 ST Fighter 3 AL Chaotic
Spells, at will: Light, Command, Cure/Inflict Light Wounds

The true name of La Dama, the one that will let a shaman make a pact with her, is carved into the trunk of the tree in the mayor's courtyard, beneath the dozens of tattered red sashes. If the shaman botches the pact-making ritual, she will do her best to brutally murder the mayor, who was the man who tied her to the tree all those years ago. If the shaman helps her kill the mayor, her Loyalty will increase by d4. 

If a shaman wishes to extract a favor from a god without making a Loyalty check, they can make it an offering. La Dama accepts only blood. A small task, like casting a 1st level spell, participating in a fight tipped in the Goddess' advantage, or translating the words of a creature that can't communicate with humans, might require d6 HP. Major favors, like casting a 5th+ level spell, joining a fight with desperate odds, or revealing a powerful and ancient secret, might require 5d6 HP.

The Goddess of Blood and Sunshine makes a Loyalty check or requires an offering when the shaman violates one her her taboos in front of her, or when the shaman asks her to violate one of her taboos:
  • BEG NO PARDONS
  • SHOW NO MERCY
  • BOW TO NO ONE

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