An Unlikely Campaign
The world you inhabit is called by many names, but most commonly referred to as Aerth. It’s origin, like it’s name, is variously described. There are those that would say it always existed, others claim it was created by the Gods, some by the Titans, and still many other stories exist. The truth may never be known. Although it’s origins are nebulous, the races of Aerth all agree on their origins: 935 celestial cycles ago, a dense mist lifted from the world revealing to it’s denizens it’s various mountains, seas, and deserts.
With no memory of their origins the various peoples of Aerth, discovering a shared language and kinships, set about constructing civilizations. Each race discovered within themselves an innate knowledge of their own mores, crafts, gods, lands, as well as the general topography of the astral sea along with its denizens. Where this knowledge came from is as much as mystery as are the mists the once covered the world.
I will gladly allow you guys to create your own feats for your characters. I will insist, however, that they be cleared by me so that they’re fair. Before you create anything for yourself, take a look at the feats in the PHB. Your feat shouldn’t duplicate or improve anything that already exists and should be in-line power-wise with what’s already printed
In an effort to make out-of-combat-free-time more meaningful in D&D, I’m going to reward you guys with something I’m calling minor feats. If your character spends a certain amount of time practising certain non-combat tasks, I’m going to award them bonuses to those specific tasks. The “minor” part of “minor feat” refers to the nature of this bonus: it will be limited in scope and modest in degree. As an example, it may be that you spend a lot of time reading a particular history book in your off-time, so I award you with a “+1 to history checks related to history covered in such and such a tome”. Or maybe you practice the incantations used in a particular god’s ritual; you now get a +1 bonus to your check when leading that ritual. Maybe you don’t practice anything, but just socialize a lot, I’ll award you a +1 bonus on Charisma checks when dealing with other adventuring groups.
In addition to those rewards stipulated in the D&D manuals for roleplay (see Inspiration in the Player’s Handbook), I’m also going to be giving out bonus XP to those players I think are roleplaying in-keeping with the character personality. The bonus will be nominal but should add up overtime. I’m doing this because I think good roleplay makes the game better for everyone and as such I want to reward it.
One thing I’ve always disliked about how gods have been treated in D&D is that it has never quite captured the feel of true paganism; if you’re not playing a cleric or paladin than the gods are pretty much irrelevant. Even if you do play a cleric or paladin only one god is relevant to you, namely whatever god is your personal deity and then generally only in combat. This is very unlike what paganism should look like – it infused all aspects of daily life and was celebrated in its totality, i.e. the whole pantheon was important.
So, to try and capture the true feel of paganism I’ll be adding some rules to the game. Every god will have his/her own rituals. In addition, actions that fall under the purview of any given god can be done in his/her honour, for example, declaring an attack as dedicated to the god of war, or stealing something in honour of the god of trickery. By performing these rituals or honouring particular gods in certain ways you can gain favour with them. Of course, making one god happy may invoke the ire of another god, so appeasing the gods will be something you have to take into account as well, especially if you botch a ritual or fumble some action you do in some god’s honour.
Favour will reap rewards: perhaps you’ll have a vision of the future, or maybe a bonus in your next round of combat, or a heavenly item will appear in your haversack. Of course, the gods work in mysterious ways so sometime you’ll have to interpret their signs. You can guess what might happen if you earn the ire of some god, so I needn’t expand on that.
An illustrative example: The party has reached the mountain of Kar’Thor and taken refuge at Shamus’ Landing. To cross the mountains is surely a perilous journey so the party needs all the help they can get. In town, they collect the components needed to perform a ritual in honor of the god of travel. After successfully performing the ritual the DM—in secret—awards them a +5 bonus to constitution checks and survival checks made to cross the mountain.
Another example: Kor charges heedlessly into battle with his axe poised over his head. To honour his war god he dedicates his next kill to him. Kor rolls a critical strike and bathes in the blood of his now decapitated foe. In a future battle Kor may call upon his god to remember his deed and grant him a bonus in a battle, or perhaps he’ll lead the next ritual in honor of his god giving a bonus to his ritual check resulting in a party-wide bonus to their next combat encounter.