Faith and Folklore -- Please critique my house rules

Firstly, unsure if this should go here, in Sparks, or in the Campaigns forum. I chose here, but please move it if necessary.

Secondly, rules from BWG, MaBu, and AdBu are all referenced. I wrote this all up in one post because the house rules I am discussing are all related to one another.

I’ll be starting a new campaign next weekend. The players and I have been burning the physical setting via email for almost a month now, and the campaign world is really starting to come alive. It’s very Martin-esque, with lots of Houses and political intrigue. I’ve also created a complex cosmology and theological system, kind of a cross between the non-religion in Tolkien’s Middle Earth and the superstitious religions practiced in ancient Europe. I have a genesis story, a complete pantheon, etc. The deities are very much alive, and I want them to have a real impact on the setting.

What I want for this setting is to have the truly Faithful be very rare, but yet to have prayer and worship by the general Believers actually mean something. To this end, I’ve created a few house rules to allow Believers pray for low Ob miracles. Please analyze what I’ve written up, and let me know if you think it’s broken or would be unfair. I really don’t want to undermine the Faithful trait, and am a bit worried about that.

Edit: Also, just wanted to say that one of the PCs will have the Faithful trait. He’s playing a knight of a holy order, a paladin of sorts. So, it is imperative that the house rules not overstep the boundaries of the Faithful trait too much, although he’s said it sounds interesting to try out.

Here are the House Rules I’ve proposed to my players:

Faith – House Rules

1. Believers Helping: If Believers want to help pray for a miracle (BWG pg. 526), they must have Beliefs about the specific deity being prayed to, or about the goal of the prayer. If their Beliefs are about the pantheon in general, a Ritual must be performed first as a linked test, using the same rules as outlined in the AdBu. One person, usually a priest, makes the Rituals test, although he may have helpers.

Why? Because, general belief in the pantheon is pretty commonplace in this homebrew setting. Believers devoted to specific deities are rarer, and more in line with the numbers of people you’d have devoted to a certain faith in other fantasy worlds. Think ancient Greece.

2. Believers Praying: Normal people may only pray for miracles if they have a bit of Faith in them. They need not possess the Faithful trait, but must instead meet two conditions:

  • Firstly, they must be able to honestly say that they identify most strongly with the chosen deity’s archetype. No changing deities later on – once you choose your identifying archetype, you’re stuck with it (barring a trait vote). Most normal people wouldn’t identify with any single archetype!
  • Secondly, they must have a Belief related to either their faith or what they are praying for, and this Belief must have been in effect for the entire duration of the journey to the temple (the “pilgrimage”).

If both of the above conditions are met, the character may pray as if they had a “Faith” score of 1, but it is subject to the following restrictions:

  • When rolling Faith, the Believer is always at a double obstacle penalty.
  • This Faith exponent can never be advanced without first obtaining the Faithful trait (tests never count toward advancement).
  • It may only be used to pray within temples or consecrated castle shrines. Prayer at a place special to the deity that is not a temple (ie. a crossroads for prayers to Hermes) is possible, but with a +1 Ob penalty applied to the prayer.
  • The prayer takes a number of minutes equal to the Ob of the miracle being requested. Praying during Fight or DoW is not possible, but R&C prayers might be doable, if you can get to a temple….
  • If only prayer is offered, only Boons and Blessings are available as possible miracles. Remember that the Obs are doubled.
  • If a blood sacrifice is made, and the ritual is performed at an altar within a temple, the Believer may pray for the Aid miracle, in addition to Boons or Blessings. Again, remember the double obstacle penalty. The animal to be sacrificed must be carefully chosen, in accordance to the deity you are appealing to. Animal sacrifice must be made with the Folklore skill, using the special rules for Folklore detailed below. Many nobles do not believe in Folklore, and as such, would not make animal sacrifices! In some circumstances, human sacrifice might be acceptable, and the full rules from the Blood Magic chapter of the Magic Burner would be used in place of the Folklore test. Human sacrifices are potent, and can actually add multiple bonus dice to your Ritual test, while animal sacrifices have a lesser effect. Not all deities would accept human sacrifices though…
  • Let it Ride is in full effect. No praying at every crossroads you see! The situation must change dramatically before your prayers may be heard again.

Note that the double obstacle penalty makes successful miracles pretty hard to attain without first performing a linked Rituals test. This is intentional. The Faithful may pray for divine intervention at any time, without prior preparation. Normal Believers may not.

Folklore – House Rules

Using Folklore in Conjunction with Prayer: The rules for Folklore (MaBu ~ pg 154-157) may be used to enhance the possibility that a deity will hear your prayer. The regular rules for preparing a Folklore ritual are used, in which you must meet a list of conditions you choose to set the Ob of the test. If successful, you are granted a +1D bonus to your Faith test for the prayer in question.

This house rule makes it possible to, say, sacrifice two hummingbirds, one pink and one white, tied together with a strand of bluebells, at daybreak of the holy day of Calisuan, in an appeal to the Maiden for assistance in taking revenge on the one who betrayed your heart. Such a ritual would be an Ob 6 Folklore test (as four conditions were met), which would grant +1D to your Faith test for the prayer. Note that you’d still have to get to a temple to make the prayer, if you don’t have the Faithful trait.

As mentioned above, animal sacrifice to the gods falls under this rule, although human sacrifice uses the Blood Magic rules. Note: I have detailed descriptions of each of the deities with evocative details such as sacred animals, colors, numbers, etc, that can be consulted for inspiration for Folklore conditions. I’ve put a lot of thought into this! My group has a wiki we use for campaign world building and easy reference.

That’s about it. I have other stuff I suggested to my players, but it was mostly just flavor. Please let me know what you think of these house rules. I need all the help I can get here!

Thanks ~ Dean

Anybody? For the record, I’d like to iterate that I’m not trying to drift the system just for the sake of it. I’m trying to add a little to the rules to enhance the setting. The other players in this campaign have expressed interest in the possibility of having the deities answer the prayers of the masses as well. We have built a complex game world that challenges the notion of “reality”, and the gods are meant to be a vivid part of the setting. Furthermore, I absolutely love the rules for Folklore, and was looking for a way to make Folklore a stronger part of the setting – in essence, Rituals for the masses.

Also, we’re now considering relaxing the rules for Believers praying to the following:

  • If a character has a Belief written pertaining to the goal of a prayer, he may pray for a miracle as if he had a Faith exponent of B1.
  • A prayer may only be offered in a place sacred to the deity being prayed to, either a temple, a shrine, or some place the deity is known to be connected with. Furthermore, the character’s prayer-related Belief must have been in effect for the duration of the journey to the sacred place (the “pilgrimage”).
  • All prayers by Believers are at a double obstacle penalty.
  • All prayers by Believers take a fairly long time to complete properly. Prayers may not be offered during Fight, DoW, or R&C.
  • If only prayer is offered, only Boons and Blessings may be prayed for. If a blood sacrifice is made, Aid may also be requested of the deity.
  • Animal sacrifices use the Folklore rules. Human sacrifices use Blood Magic.

Sounds like an awful lot of work for very little payoff.

It looks like after you meet all those conditions, you still have a max of two dice (one plus a successful linked test) to meet a doubled Ob and are limited to the least powerful effects.
Why not just allow colourful Folklore rituals (as you describe above) as linked tests in appropriate circumstances? Then you’ve got more effective Folklore, vivid deity colour AND a bonus die from divine aid. It’s less crunch and pretty much the same effect.

I like it! Thank you! See, this is why I posted on the forums. :slight_smile:

I’ll run it past my players and update here what we decide. Thanks again.

Faith and Folklore V3

So, I’m now thinking there are some problems with the Folklore mechanic revision suggested by Figure Four. If we leave it just as a linked test, then that really takes away the incentive to actually make a Folklore test. Why? Because the Ob is chosen by the player, but the Ob is directly linked to a Resources test needed to acquire the materials for the Folklore test.

High Ob Folklore test requires a low Ob Resources test
Low Ob Folklore test requires a high Ob Resources test

High Ob Folklore is hard to hit, and nobody would want to squander loads of money to get a low Ob Folklore test – especially when the payoff is just +1D.

So! I’d like to suggest the following revision:

Folklore is a linked test, but you get +1D per success over the Ob. The bonus dice can be spent on one test, or divided among different tests, so long as they’re all used in relation to the goal of the prayer, and the Belief you had prayed for.

This gives a serious incentive to squandering loads of Resources for a low Ob Folklore ritual. Lots of bonus dice! Think it’s unbalanced though?

In addition, some simple rules for the Rituals skill:

Rituals can be used in a linked test to pray to a deity, just the same as Folklore can. However, Rituals may only be used in a temple, where the character has access to the temple’s ritual tools. Furthermore, the Ob of the test is not chosen by the player, but instead linked to the type of temple being used:

Small temple: Ob 7
Standard temple: Ob 5
Grand temple: Ob 3

Let it Ride is in full effect for both Folklore and Rituals. No praying every day! The gods only listen when it matters!

What do you guys think?