Don't Forget Your Boots

Meandering aimlessly around the GURPS landscape

Tag: The Church

Taking The Nerf Bat To Bless

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)…

(ahem)

Now where were we?

Oh, yeah.

So.

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?  😉

 

The Further Adventures Of The Turnip… of the Blood Oath?

As noted here, while the party was hiding in the goblin kitchens, Rho rolled a critical success on Search and found something he described as a “fine turnip”. It got wrapped up and tucked away in Rho’s pouch without much investigation, since the party didn’t linger long in the kitchens, and both healers were busy for much of that time. When Rho met his unfortunate end, his belongings were brought out of the dwarven ruins and put on the donkey, where they returned to town with the rest of the group.

There, it was overlooked during the sale of the rest of the loot. Nobody thought that a cast-off vegetable could be considered anything more than a meal of desperation. Afterwards, though, The Knight of the Blood Oath went looking for personal effects to be turned over to The Church.

TKotBO was feeling troubled by the recent adventure. In the heat of the moment, when the party had sighted Kadabra examining the old stone head without benefit of torch or lantern, he had taken the man for an obvious necromancer. Under that impression, he had accepted the party’s subsequent actions as pure prudence. If necromancers were gentlemen, they might deserve a challenge before being attacked, but then, if they were gentlemen, they wouldn’t be necromancers. However, after sleeping on it, he wasn’t sure they had done the proper thing, after all.

“That guy could have been a delver like any of us,” he thought to himself, while rummaging through the disarray of the donkey’s gear.  “It’s entirely too easy for delvers to mistake each other for evil monsters. Maybe if we all got together and resolved to tie a colored ribbon around that tree where we keep leaving the animals. We could even claim different colors for different delving bands, to aid in identification!”  Pleased with this idea, he considered buying some sort of identifying gear for his fellow party members. Perhaps colored bandannas.

This train of thought led TKotBO to a new realization: with Rho gone, he was going to be the primary source of healing for the group. This is going to be a problem. When they had huddled up in the goblin kitchen and rushed through getting everyone healed up, the only reason it had taken 20 minutes, rather than 2 hours, was because Rho could share his strength with TKotBO and then recover from the effort very quickly. (Or, in game terms, Rho used Lend Energy to power TKotBO’s Faith Healing, then used Recover Energy to bounce back, himself. My understanding was that they were keeping in mind the penalties for multiple healings within a day, and the next time, if there had been one, Rho would have used Major Healing. Without Rho, they’ve only got the one “track” for penalties to supernatural healing.)

He reasoned, it might be a good idea to pick up some healing potions and so forth, in case of emergency. If Alric were to fall in battle, who would hold off the foe while TKotBO got him back on his feet? And could the others win the day while TKotBO then sat to the side, exhausted, reduced to shouting instructions and pouring water over his great helm? No, he thought, it would be much better if he could do the job he had trained for, absorbing the attacks of the enemy, protecting his comrades, while one of the nimble, but poorly armored, party members administered a healing draught.

And what if it were the other way around, and it were TKotBO who fell? Who would heal the healer?

Being (obviously) the sort of man who believes the best offense is a good defense, his mind turned to the shield he had seen for sale, but couldn’t afford. It was a fine piece of craftsmanship, in itself, but unique in his experience for its enchantment: the face of the shield would change to reflect the weather and state of the sky above it, even if it were taken indoors or far underground. If the day were clear, one could judge the time of day from the angle of the sun shown on the shield.

With these expensive things weighing upon his mind, saddened at the loss of his comrade, worried about the fate of his friends on their next trip into the dungeon, TKotBO went to clean out Rho’s saddlebags….

… and found a fist-sized package swaddled in some of Rho’s holy vestments, that weighed far more than any turnip should, unless it were made of metal.  Upon inspection, and after brushing off a thick layer of grime, Rho’s turnip looks more-or-less like this. It’s made of orichalcum.

Thinking of all the good he could do, for his own party and, yes, for all the bands of good and honorable men going down into the dwarven ruins and risking their lives for the glory of the gods*, if only he could secure adequate funding, TKotBO scratched his chin** and asked himself, “What was that fellow’s name, again? Mamu, that’s right, Mamu, the man-servant of Strang…”

(To be continued)

* TKotBO is generous in his views of others’ motivations.

** … with a piece of hay stuck through his helmet’s visor. If TKotBO isn’t wearing his armor, he’s in his union suit. If he’s in his union suit, and awake, he’s probably doing some kind of armor maintenance.

 

Lean Times In Tembladera

At the end of session #1, the “delving band with no name” ended up with $541* in cash from the sale of loot, plus $6000 in “goodwill” with the church, thanks to the return of the Golden Book. Split five ways, that’s $108 in coin, and a $1200 I.O.U., each.

The bad news is, the church doesn’t deal in large amounts of coin, so that goodwill is going to have to come out in the form of trade. I’ve ruled that the church can provide room and board, simple goods (robes and sandals, but not boots and definitely no armor), scrolls (divine magic only) and potions, and spells and enchantment. 

One thing to note is the gonzo nature of DF magic, which lets off-screen NPC clerics enchant items with no regard for the enchanting rules from GURPS Magic. In particular, clerics can bless weapons and armor with any enchantment. Lighten, in particular, has received some player attention.

Alric, the northern barbarian, has already declared his intention to camp outside the walls. It’s my understanding that the others will be hard-pressed to come up with the $150 in cash for a week at an inn, so I expect the others will be sleeping on straw tick mattresses and eating gruel with the monks. Somehow, I doubt this lives up to the dreams they all had when they got on the boat…

 

* All prices in GURPS dollars, of course. We’re using the suggested conversion from DF, where $1 equals 1 copper farthing.

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