Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Cultic Greyhawk Pt. 1

It's the damnedest thing. 

So, for the past three or four years I've been toying with running Greyhawk. Keep saying I'm going to do it.
Never pulling the trigger.

So, what draws me to Mr. Gygax's campaign?

It's not the history. Though, I like the history.

It's not the maps. Though, Darlene's Maps Kick all kinds of Ass.

Part of it's the strong ties to AD&D. And 1e Core's Implied Setting.

And the gods.

My favorite D&D pantheon, hands down.

Let's have an excerpt from an old blog post o' mine:

Shit! I better just quote the whole damn thing! (With a few edits...)

Gygaxian Supernaturalism - Or, What Happens to Hommlet's Rufus at 8th Level?
The Gods are Watching You!

From T1:
"Rufus Is also lawful good, and when he reaches 8th level he has been instructed to return to Verbobonc for special service in the Viscount‘s behalf."
Some Quotes from the DMG:
Page 81
"Why then the increase in hit points? Because these reflect both the actual physical ability of the character to withstand damage - as indicated by constitution bonuses- and a commensurate increase in such areas as skill in combat and similar life-or-death situations, the "sixth sense" which warns the individual of some otherwise unforeseen events, sheer luck,and the fantastic provisions of magical protections and/or divine protection. (Emphasis mine.)"
Page 25
Whether or not the character actively professes some deity, he or she will have an alignment and serve one or more deities of this general alignment indirectly and unbeknownst to the character.
         Page 79
By means of skill, luck, magical protections, quirks of fate and the aid of supernatural powers, the character making his or her saving throw takes none or only part of the indicated results - fireball damage, poisoning,being turned to stone, or whatever. (emphasis mine.)
There's more relevant material, such as that involving alignment languages, the penalties for changing alignment, etc. Hell, it's "passim" throughout the AD&D rulebooks!
One more quote, from Deities & Demigods, this time. Page 9:
Otherwise, the accumulation of hit points and the ever-greater abilities and better saving throws of characters represent the aid supplied by supernatural forces.
So. The supernatural realms and relations with deities are very, very important in AD&D. And an integral part of an AD&D campaign world.
Now, back to Rufus.

Almost 8th level! One step away from Lord. He's already gotten 3/2 attacks. Rufus is about to become a Superhero!
Rufus Is also lawful good, and when he reaches 8th level he has been instructed to return to Verbobonc for special service in the Viscount‘s behalf.
Now, Rufus wouldn't know what 8th level means. Would he? As you might suspect, I'm going to make the case that yes, 8th Level would indeed mean something to Rufus.
Gygaxian Supernaturalism! (With Thanks to Mr. Maliszewski.)
He might refer to it as becoming a Superhero. I don't think the text states that Rufus is a follower of the Cugel fellow, though Burne is. For the moment, let's assume Rufus is as well. It's likely, the cult of St. Cuthbert would have it's own title for 8th level. Or, maybe Superhero is more widely used.
The point is, that in a world where Leveled Characters are so closely married to the gods and supernatural powers, a Fighter as high as 8th level, especially one as well connected as Rufus, would have an idea of where he stood with his god, church and the Greater Supernatural Realm.
So, what might the Viscount have said to Rufus?
"Return, when you have witnessed the Vision of the Cugel at Noon."
Or, something.
Being a leveled Fighter, serving a deity, perforce, might be somewhat akin to being part of a Mystery Cult. Take structured training into account and Rufus may well be, just that! An initiate of a warrior brotherhood. The Cult of St. Cuthbert!

Rufus would know when he had crossed an important threshold. Not only is that the point at which Rufus was ordered to return, but it was understood that he would recognize his entry into 8th level. It could simply be that every level would be considered important. Or, maybe just every one above, say 5th.
At what point does a Fighter start noticing that he's a pawn of the gods?
Hell, he's probably been having dreams, nightmares and visions, sent by St. Cuthbert, and/or Planetars, lesser servants, etc., for quite some time. Not to mention nasty, demonic beings, or deliciously enticing ones, trying to make him swerve from his LG path.
Most gods aren't the type to be so altruistic and helpful, without ever being more noticeable. Or, demanding! Characters serving under protest, as it were, might be subject to more subtle treatment. Or, not! Those more involved with Churches and Organizations, might also only see signs of the deity, "out of the corner of their eye," as it were. Or, they might find themselves more directly put-upon.
Rufus' deity has been helping him out with Hit Points, Saving Throws, etc., to the point, where Rufus is 8th Level! He lives and moves in a supernatural reality and the gods have a vested interest, however small, in his doings. PC Level ties into this relationship directly! While it's easier to see with Clerics and MU's, as a Fighter gains levels, he's also becoming more tightly enmeshed within the schemes and powers of his deity. Whether he wants to, or not!
It makes perfect sense, that he would be able to see and track the progress of this relationship, at least somewhat. And that he would notice the changes his relations with the divine, were having upon him. His church, certainly his deity would know!
Established signs, omens, etc., not to mention the possibility of initiatory rituals of a sort, would fit in just perfectly.
Maybe the journey to visit the Viscount is a ruse and the Powers that Be, want to get Rufus out of Hommlet, so they can test his worthiness, to operate at 8th Level.
More on this shortly.

2 comments:

  1. I'm looking forward to reading more about Cultic Greyhawk, if for nothing else but the fact that my thoughts often return to the question of what kind of religion and society would be produced by directly interventionist gods.

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  2. Just letting you know that. despite the obvious fact that I'm showing up late to the party, I feel like I just found my blog blankie...
    It's the first gorgeous day in NYC and I will be spending it reading your blog from the ground up.
    Thanks in advance.
    -=A

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