Zhilin Campaign Journal #11: Blessings with a Big B

This past week as I looked back at the fun times we’ve been having with this campaign, I had an odd thought. I have many odd thoughts, but this one stuck. And it’s about godly blessings.

Let’s start by describing a blessing as the . Bless is a Level 2 Clerical spell. It acts as a temporary morale boost for 6 turns (+1 to Hit). This is a great spell to help out your party in combat with a bit of an edge.

But I started pondering all the other ways a “blessing” might affect a PC or NPC. Assuming that the gods use faith as fuel to keep them alive, I would suspect that anointing the flock would be a big part of the game plan. Even beyond that however, I was wondering about the effects of a particular blessing — perhaps even along the lines of longer “rituals.”

Recent editions of D&D have included longer rituals such as Read Magic and Raise Dead, but I have to go back to that concept of baptism. It’s used in many faiths and I wonder if there could be a mechanical purpose in the hereafter in game terms.

What if… a character baptized to a particular faith is marked for easier sorting in the afterlife? Let’s say a soul is sent wherever souls go and there’s a hat like the Sorting Hat in Harry Potter. It takes a look at the soul and decides where it’s bound for. But there are many planes of existence. Sure, maybe there’s a heaven or hell. But why not also the Greek idea of Elysium Fields and Tartarus or Maat’s weighing of a soul against a feather to see if it would move on to the Egyptian Land of Two Fields or you were stuck in your body for eternity…

So let’s say that a character is marked by the religion to which they ascribe. A character is blessed as a child by a priest of Mitra, God of Light, your soul is marked to head to their version of the afterlife. Or if you were blessed as a child by a priest of the Undying, your soul was marked for another purpose.

These “Original Blessings” or “Blessings with an Uppercase B” might confer some ability to those who learn to harness them. Perhaps not to the extent of a cleric of the same faith, but still a bit of a boon in certain instances.

For instance, as one of the blessed of Mitra, God of Light, you have slightly better vision in the dark than most people. Perhaps an extra 10 feet in the dark where you can see a world of light and shadow at the edge of the firelight or a single foot in complete darkness. It might not be all that useful, but it’s a gift from the divine.

Or as a member of those touched by the Undying, you gain a bonus to any healing magic you receive. One extra point of healing any time you are healed through magical means. That gives you an edge while you’re alive and maybe something else when your body is called up to fight in the Undying’s final push for superiority…

But there’s a cost. As someone “Blessed” by these divine entities of unnatural power and influence, you are on the hook in the afterlife. For example, a follower of Mitra has his soul weighed when he dies. If there’s more light than dark, the spirit is sent to a plane filled with nothing but holy light. But if there’s too much darkness, your soul serves on the front lines in a cosmic battle against the plane filled with nothing but void. Your spiritual essence is given a great burden and will likely not survive to see a happier afterlife.

And as someone “Blessed” by the Undying, the cost is even higher. There is no afterlife. You agree to be buried after death. And when the call comes to serve your master Ghus’tul when he returns to the world, your body and spirit will serve as a member of an undead horde used to cleanse the lands of any who oppose his message of eternal life through any means necessary.

As a more holy character, such as a Cleric or Holy Knight, there are probably additional abilities available at different levels. Perhaps a Cleric or Holy Knight of Mitra can create Light once a day for free without using a spell slot. And perhaps their opposite number from the Undying gains some influence over the undead. This might bring in a bit more reason to choose various deities in the long run.

But even a Fighting Man or a Thief might choose to worship a deity in a time of need. They might get a small boon from their “Blessing with an Uppercase B,” but that’s about it.

There are still “blessings” with a lowercase “b” — temporary help from a deity in a time of need. But if you want a bigger “Blessing” — well, that has a cost.

Definitely have more thought to put into this idea, but I would be interested in knowing what you think about this crazy idea. 🙂

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