The Backhand of God - A question about failure consequence

Hi folks.

Player of mine has a Faithful character. He has been chasing a belief that he will enlighten some nonbelievers, have them form a congregation, and build a shrine to God.

Last session, just as the characters were about to get themselves lynched, the priest invoked divine Aid (Ob 4) to speak with the booming voice of god, and tell the peasants what is what. The characters defused the situation, and some people, awed by the divine display, started showing interest in what the priest had to say. He now has his blooming congregation. If he failed that Faith test, the consequence would simply have been “God does not answer your prayer”.

However, then he had the idea to beseech God to miraculously build a temple in the hamlet overnight. I thought this contravened his own belief a bit - what is the point of having the newly formed congregation build a shrine, if not to show their devotion to God? Now the priest wants God to do the work for them? All the same, I asked him to roll for a Miracle - Ob 10. The consequence for failure would be that God would lash out at the priest, punishing him for his arrogant presumption, with fatigue and sickness. The priest failed, and I described his skin breaking out in uncomfortable poxmarks, and his bones growing heavy and weary, as though he’d been working with dilligence and devotion on some form of hard physical labour.

I decided that the mechanical aspect of this, would be a -1D to all tests, until he got better.

Do you think this was a suitable consequence? Would you have handled the situation differently? How would you mechanize this punishment I described, and how do you represent and mechanize disease and exhaustion in your games?

I think it is fine. The Codex even has some suggestions for faith failures, one of which is getting the “Lost Faith” trait for failing a major miracle, so you might have let him off easy! :stuck_out_tongue:

More to the point, I think you handled it fine, being sick sucks and a penalty to all tests seems appropriate. I would probably be very clear before the roll that their god is going to punish them if they fail this, especially if they’ve been used to getting off scot-free up to this point (which they shouldn’t be, as it leads to them asking their gods for help for all sorts of trivial crap, but I’ve seen it become the norm from both sides of the screen).

I like to give a +1 Ob penalty for exhaustion, which goes away when the character has time to adequately rest and recover. If the character keeps pushing it (I often call for Forte tests when characters push themselves to extremes), that obstacle penalty continues to escalate. Dice penalties are also fine, though I mostly use them to represent injuries. I try to stick with the Advantage and Disadvantage​ rules on page 28.