Taking The Nerf Bat To Bless

by mshrm

One of the first tricks the party picked up was to have everybody stop off at the church and get themselves a Bless. These days, they’re going with 2-point blessing all around, except for FuBar, who usually can’t make it into town, and so has to get by with a mere 1-point blessed button up his nose. From my perspective as the GM, there’s good and bad sides to it.

On the “pro” side:  It’s another thing to suck up excess money, which is good, because it lights a fire under them to get more money. There’s a real, immediate cost for playing a monster who can’t come into town like normal folk, which is good, because if you’re not paying for your Disadvantages, they aren’t worth points — even in a game as fast and loose as this one. It’s a buffer against them being wiped out in one shot, which takes care of any reluctance I might have to play hardball.

On the “con”: Picky to track, hard to remember who has it and who doesn’t. It’s a pain to come up with miracles that can save a person from disaster just a little bit. It’s even worse when somebody gets whacked hard, three turns go by, and then somebody says, “Hey, wait a minute, shouldn’t the miraculous hand of divinity have stooped down and sheltered so-and-so from harm a minute ago?  He shouldn’t be falling off the bridge on fire at all! He should have cake! And ice cream!”

Which brings up the point: sure, it sucks money, but not much at all. For $10, you get a 1-point Bless, which makes you better at everything you do, until you need a miracle to pull your fat out of the fire. Then, a miracle turns “dead” into “wounded”. Not even “mortally wounded”, since the example given is moving a heart shot to an arm. Now that is some bang for your buck! If they were serving that at the coffee shop, I’d buy a big cup of it every morning, just for the +1 to all rolls. Come to think of it, back when I was working downtown and passed by several dozen coffee shops every morning, I would regularly pay nearly that just for a +1 to rolls to wake up in the morning, no miraculous protection required.

In the case of the Bless-on-a-person, it’s hard to envision how a person could know if they were, or were not, still blessed. With the enchantment, at least, you can say that the icon breaks, giving a nice visual indicator. But if you’ve gone in for a Bless from your friendly neighborhood cleric, and you get shot in the arm:  did you just get shot in the arm?  Or did that bullet have your name on it, it was going right for your heart, and your Bless spell jumped in front of it? How could you be sure? (I guess you could have your buddy the Holy Warrior take a look at you, but this party’s pretty low on the faithful these days, what with getting all their priests killed…)

I wonder what the existence of such a spell would do to society.  I envision peasants saving up to afford the $10 that would suddenly make them prosperous. Not that it matters, in a Dungeon Fantasy game, where the peasants working the fields in the background are just an animated backdrop for Town, and Town is just two shopkeepers, a healer, and an old guy telling stories in front of the inn.

Not Strang; no, nor Mamu neither; though by your smiling you seem to say so…

You can tell Bless is high-octane stuff, because in by-the-book Dungeon Fantasy, it requires Power Investiture 5.  That’s 5, alongside such fun party tricks as Earthquake and Storm. That’s the level of Power Investiture enjoyed by Moses. The only tier higher is PI6, the tier that includes… hey, look, there’s our old friend Resurrection!

… and now that I look at it, I see that Resurrection is a “one try” spell, so next time around, I guess we’ll need to roll and see the effective skill for the spell and roll it to make sure Jed’s not dead after all, huh, how about that (makes notes)…


Now where were we?

Oh, yeah.


I think I’m a-gonna nerf Bless.

At this point, perhaps it would be useful to point out this post over on Dungeon Fantastic, in which Peter Dell’Orto mentions that he removed Bless from his long-running campaign entirely.  I follow his suggestions pretty closely; my players could be forgiven for thinking that the biggest stained-glass window in the church was dedicated to the Great God Delorto, he gets mentioned so often.

In this case, though, I fear player revolt, so we’re going to go with something less drastic, for now.

I think the thing that bugs me most, really, is the question of how, exactly, everybody knows when they just cheated death. It wouldn’t hurt to make it a trifle more expensive, more on par with healing potions and so forth. Therefore, I’m just going to say that The Church has announced, they will no longer provide the Bless spell to be cast on people.

Why? Precisely because the layman can’t tell when a Bless has worn off! It has come to the attention of the priesthood that folks are pushing their luck, taking risks that they ordinarily wouldn’t take, because “I’m protected by the gods! Hey, y’all, watch this!” Tembladera’s the kind of town where you find people standing on the bar at three in the morning, lighting themselves on fire. On a week night. When they take up risky behavior, it’s a hazard for miles around.

Mechanically, we’ll do it like this.  If somebody picks up a blessed button or the like, I’ll give ’em a poker chip. Flash the chip, get the bonus. Take a hit, turn in your chip, and we’ll figure out your miracle. Lose your chip, well, I guess you were almost bit by a black widow back at camp, or you didn’t step in the pile of leaves that had a rattlesnake in it.

… and I’m sure somebody’s immediately thinking, “We’ll just hire a cleric and have them pray for us on the way out of town!”  Sure, that’ll work. Except for, there’s a few hurdles to clear, first. You’ve got to find a cleric, which has been problematic in the past. You’ve got to find a cleric, willing to go into the dungeon for day-labor pay, who has PI5.  That, I would describe as “challenging”.  Then you’ve got to fast talk or browbeat that cleric into disobeying the standard orders of the higher-ups. Clerics with PI5 are often known for being wise and strong of will. You go through all that trouble, you deserve your 1-point Bless.

Somebody could always play a cleric, but I reckon that’s a drastic move. I don’t expect they’ll go that far, just for one spell.

Anyway, if they manage to thread that needle and get the spell cast directly on themselves, as they have been, well, like I said:  the layman cannot tell if they are under a Bless or not. I’ll make a note of it, and apply the effects as necessary. If it goes away, I won’t say anything.

Any player rebellion?  😉