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Shiningbrow

Rites, rituals, beliefs and superstition

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I've just been catching up on The Last Kingdom, and it occurred to me that it has something that seems to be entirely missing from RQ - the smaller details that really relate to actual beliefs.

For example, we know that Norse beloved in the gods, and also if a warrior died without a sword in his hand, he wouldn't go to Valhalla... I don't see anything like this in RQ. 

Similarly, where are the curses? Perhaps a spirit is sent, but that's definitely not the same thing.

Where's the love spell? 

If I think about it, I think it's the "personal" touch that's missing.

Now, sure, you could just say "the GM should provide that", but I think it's something that should at least be raised, discussed and suggestions given...

So... Any ideas? Either in general, or mechanics, or suggestions for what various cultures might have specific beliefs and superstitions about?

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1 hour ago, Shiningbrow said:

Any ideas? Either in general, or mechanics, or suggestions for what various cultures might have specific beliefs and superstitions about?

I agree, this is an area with potential for expansion or further detail. One of the things I'm currently messing around with is a sourcebook set in Esrolia, trying to describe a small city both in adventurous stuff, and in daily life as well. One of those topics, which unfortunately I haven't muddle around with much yet, is personal religion. Or perhaps "spirituality" might be closer to modern parlance. Basically, the prayers and rituals which are a part of daily life.

One I like a bit is that every inn or guesting-house has a guardian deity, embodied in a snake (using the Ernaldan Summon Household Guardian spell), to which visitors must sacrifice MP in order to stay there. If they break hospitality, the snake's enthralling gaze can overcome their POW immediately. It will also defend them, in addition to the permanent residents, if there's an intrusion.

I imagine farmers leave small bundles of seed after plowing a hide at each corner of the field, to propitiate the Seed-eaters. They're a type of minor spirit associated with Mallia in my Glorantha, which runs along the ground and eats up seeds (of course, much action attributed to them can just as easily be attributed to mundane birds or mice). Seed-eaters are typically drawn to a community when it's undergoing strife, but not enough to let Chaos into the world. Sort of a warning sign or omen.

I also imagine a common action would be to pour a libation from one's cup before or during a meal, as a small thank-you to the Earth for the meal.

Mechanically, I wouldn't in general worry about representing this. I'd focus on roleplay, and not what the gamemaster comes up with, but the players. "How do you say thanks to the Earth? How do you ward away disease?" Customs or Homeland Lore could work for particular skills, but I also think Worship (culture) or Worship (pantheon) could be an interesting way to mechanically represent general practices, if a skill roll was required.

I'd have to double-check, but I think Vasana's Saga in RQG describes her making hand signs to ward away evil, including disease, spirits, and sorcerers. Imaginatively, I can see the Harmony Rune being easy to draw in the air; stick out three fingers, and swipe upward, or downward. The Fertility Rune is also probably pretty easy to draw, but I wonder if one would have to be careful not to air-draw Infinity instead...

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This is the kind of thing that I have seen Players raise as something that would add flavour to a game. i have usually said that they should come up with some example and they happily go away and think of a dozen or so things. Then they start using them in play and use all 12, then after a few weeks they only use 10, then 8, then 6 and then eventually they forget about doing these things.

It is like the various Lightbringer Challenges for a Wind Lord. I used to love them and would trot out the verses every time we met a Lightbringer, an Earth Priestess or a thing of Chaos, many a Broo heard "Foul Slime, Curse of Existence, Begone!" before they passed away. However, some Players find them tedious beyond belief and just dismiss them with "Yeah, yeah, I know we say that".

If you want to give something, then allow each thing you do give a Bonus of +10, but cap them off at a maximum of, say, +20, so it doesn't mater how many you do, the benefits don't get better.

Some things don't work with a bonus, for example the "Dying with a weapon in your hand" means you either go to Valhalla or you don't.

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54 minutes ago, soltakss said:

If you want to give something, then allow each thing you do give a Bonus of +10, but cap them off at a maximum of, say, +20, so it doesn't mater how many you do, the benefits don't get better.

I would say that this bonus is just the result of a spirit spell. After all the design is already done: you say your sentence / prayer / word you want and you gain the bonus of your spell

some are generics (bladesharp gives the bonus with the cap) some are specific to an area / bloodline / etc...

I would imagines some spell for hospitaly (you have +1 con for drink), happiness, warm in winter, etc.. These spells may cost 0 points for memory as they have no impact in gameplay

But from a roleplay / story telling perspective how people use them is very interesting

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2 hours ago, soltakss said:

Some things don't work with a bonus, for example the "Dying with a weapon in your hand" means you either go to Valhalla or you don't.

Yes, but I can see that as being an extremely important part of the death of a Humakti, and if they die without it, they don't go to Humakt's hall, and a great quest is required to get the soul from where it shouldn't have gone to where it should.

I imagine there's a lot of flavour to be had with initiates and particular rites (very much like a geas). E.g., Orlanthi cannot be buried or burned, but need to be released to the winds.   

I get that some will get old quickly, but occasionally throwing in some stuff would be good.

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2 hours ago, soltakss said:

Some things don't work with a bonus, for example the "Dying with a weapon in your hand" means you either go to Valhalla or you don't.

Yes, but I can see that as being an extremely important part of the death of a Humakti, and if they die without it, they don't go to Humakt's hall, and a great quest is required to get the soul from where it shouldn't have gone to where it should.

I imagine there's a lot of flavour to be had with initiates and particular rites (very much like a geas). E.g., Orlanthi cannot be buried or burned, but need to be released to the winds.   

I get that some will get old quickly, but occasionally throwing in some stuff would be good.

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3 hours ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

I would say that this bonus is just the result of a spirit spell. After all the design is already done: you say your sentence / prayer / word you want and you gain the bonus of your spell

I wouldn't use a spell, just perform the act and get a bonus. You don't need a spell for that.

So, if I drop some food on the ground "For the ancestors" or pour some beer on the ground "For the fallen", I should get some kind of bonus for that. It doesn't need a spell, otherwise you end up with hundreds of spells.

Some acts might be specific to certain skills. So, I might go into a Tarshite's house and leave my shield outside, indicating that I come in peace (+10% customs) or go into a Heortlander's house and bring my shield inside, indicating that I am willing to defend them against enemies (+10% customs). Wearing a red cloak when visiting a Yelmalian is rude (-10% customs) but taking it off before you go into their house is polite (+10% customs).

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I follow you for the custom examples (but that means players and gm know it, and you just teached me about the shield issue, thanks !)

For the "drops" a bonus for social interaction -ancestor / fallen / people touched by your act - why not, but difficult for me to create bonus for physical / knowledge skill.

But you are right, spell are just one way, the other way may be skill augmented by another skill, and what you describe can be the materialization of the augment (you augment your riding score by using animal lore when you sing the powerful song under the light of the dawn)

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A lot of this looks to me like Special Effects for Runic Inspiration or Passions or even skill augmentation.

I'd say the Orlanthi poetry is accompanied by an Air Rune check (or other as appropriate). The verse against Chaos would go with a Hate Chaos passion roll. A customs roll for the sort of thing @soltakss suggests would give you an augment on your communications skills (or a negative if you fail and forget to take the cloak off). Hand signs against the evil eye and the like could be defensive augments to POW v POW rolls.

I agree that traditional curses are difficult - I haven't seen any RPG handle them well. My thought is that the really nasty ones would require a Divine Intervention roll. They'd require a similar level of commitment to shake off - a Heroquest at least.

KODP, I'll note, is full of bad omens and terrible things happening because a ritual wasn't done properly. There's lots of inspiration for this sort of thing there.

 

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1 hour ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

I follow you for the custom examples (but that means players and gm know it, and you just teached me about the shield issue, thanks !)

I just made that up, but it sounds reasonable.

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