This morning’s post pertains to my Pathfinder and Dungeon and Dragons’ games.
In both Golarion and in Faerûn (the worlds in which the games take place respectively), Gods are decidedly ‘Greek’ in nature. No, I’m not suggesting that they make a tasty souvlaki (though they likely do!), but I am suggesting that they take a direct interest in the lives of their followers. One of the most common examples is that of Heracles, who is repeatedly aided by his father (Zeus) and other gods who wish his fathers favor.
Similarly, these gods each represent a specific field of life/the world. They effectively carry a portfolio of responsibility or care that is under their purview. Events that touch on that field garner more of their attention. A prayer said to Vulcan by a Blacksmith as he forges a sword will draw Vulcan’s attention, as this is within his portfolio of interest. Likewise, events that occur outside their purview are understood to be of a greater concern to another deity and beyond their interest. A Blacksmith who offers a prayer to Neptune before a sea voyage is unlikely to anger Vulcan as the Sea is outside of Vulcan’s interest. Neptune is also less likely to pay heed to the prayer, though he may, as it was offered by a Blacksmith (who normally ignores Neptune) as opposed to a Ship’s Captain who often prays to him.
In the scope of our games, this extends even further to the Clergy (Clerics, Paladins, Priests) of the gods. They are obviously afforded more of their Gods’ attention, such as the ability to channel spells and spell like powers. Toward the end of the 90’s when I gamed with my high school friends, I had begun to use a mechanism which brought the “Hand of the gods” into moments of critical gaming.
I shall take a quick moment to explain my reason for wanting to include this rather upsetting mechanic into our games, and why I’m bringing it back. One of the many ways for both the Dungeon Master and the Players to bring additional depth into our Role-Paying games, is by including elements of the game/story world. In our D&D games of the 90’s, I found that we were very heavy on combat and lighter on role-playing. I wanted to change this, but I was unsure of how to encourage or meaningfully reward my players who went the extra mile to ‘Offer a prayer to the God Mask, Deity of Lies, before bluffing the Captain of the City Guard.’
Situations like these, and the fortuitous publishing of Faiths & Avatars by TSR, lead me to this framework. I’ll use some simple numbers as a guideline, though I never held myself strongly to any one formula. It was judiciously applied from a context of; “Does this make sense?”, and “Does this move the storyline forward?”, and “Does it seem like this player is always asking for his god’s help for simple things, because if he is that would annoy the god!”.
When a player calls out for a specific Deity’s aid use the following to determine whether the Deity responds:
Pick the ONE that best fits
- Base Chance 1%
- If the requester is Clergy [ 2% ]
- If the requester is a follower of the Deity [ 3% ]
- If the requester is Clergy of that Deity [ 5% ]
ADD the following to that number
- +1% for each other PC who sincerely helps with the pray
- +1% for every 5 NPCs who sincerely help with the pray
Multipliers, which stack;
- The request is game changing (5th level spell) [ x0.25 ]
- The requester has ‘SPAM’d’ the Deity recently [ x0.5 ]
- Was the wording of the request poorly worded [ x0.5 ]
- The request is moderate (3rd level spell) [ x1 ]
- Was the wording of the request convincing and an offering made? [ x2 ]
- The request is minor (1st level spell)[ x2]
- Does the requester have a Skill/Knowledge in Religion [ x2 ]
- Does the request involves the Deity’s portfolio [ x4 ]
To the Metagamers reading this, Yes I am aware that if you manage to arrange the most favorable conditions a member of the Clergy (Priest, Paladin or Cleric), who is knowledgeable in religion, could have his 4 companions convincingly pray to his own Deity for minor help with a matter that pertains to his Deity’s Portfolio could garner a 288% chance to have his Deity’s him, or even 36% for a game changing request!
Gods in fantasy literature listen to the prayers of their followers.
FOOTNOTE: The Gods are fickle, just like a DM who feels that the mechanics are abused.