Posts Tagged ‘ Catholic ’

Day 8: Tannenbaum

St. Boniface again spoke to the people, “This little tree, a young child of the forest, shall be your holy tree tonight. It is the wood of peace, for your houses are built of the fir. It is the sign of an endless life, for its leaves are ever green. See how it points upward to heaven. Let this be called the tree of the Christ-child; gather about it, not in the wild wood, but in your own homes; there it will shelter no deeds of blood, but loving gifts and rites of kindness.”Father William Saunders

1E Effects

A good-aligned cleric of at least 9th level may perform a special ritual during hours of darkness. The ritual requires 10 minutes. During this time, the cleric prays and sings, casting both bless and continual light on a living tree. Once the ritual is complete, the tree glows with soft, multi-colored lights that bathe a 30-foot radius for 12 hours or until the cleric leaves the radius of effect. These lights soothe, protect, and heal those who camp within the radius of effect.

* Soothe: The holy light of the blessed tree suspends baleful physical and mental effects so long as the affected creature remains within the radius of effect. These effects include, but are not limited to, disease, insanity, charm, et cetera.

* Protect: Any opponent must make a saving throw versus magic in order to strike or otherwise attack someone protected by the tree. If the saving throw is not made, the creature may attack another creature not protected by the tree and totally ignore those protected by the spell. If the saving throw is made, the target is subject to normal attack process including dicing for weapons to hit, saving throws, damage. Note that this protection effect does not prevent the operation of area attacks (fireball, ice storm, etc.). During the period of protection afforded by the tree, the cleric who performed the ritual cannot take offensive action without immediately ending this effect for the duration of the ritual. He or she may use non-attack spells or otherwise act in any way which does not violate the prohibition against offensive action, This allows the cleric to heal wounds, for example, or to bless, perform an augury, chant, cast a light in an area (not upon on opponent!), and so on.

* Heal: A creature that rests for at least eight hours in the tree’s radius of effect heals as if a week of continual rest had passed. The creature regains 7 hit points, modified by poor Constitution as applicable. A second consecutive night of rest within the radius of effect heals another 7 hit points, this time modified by poor or exceptional Constitution, as applicable. Regardless of the number of hit points a creature has, four consecutive nights resting within the radius of effect of a blessed tree restores any character to full hit points.

5E Effects

A good-aligned cleric of at least 9th level whose divine domain is Light may cast daylight on a living tree as a special ritual during hours of darkness. Once the ritual is complete, the tree glows with soft, multi-colored lights that bathe a 30-foot radius for 12 hours or until the cleric leaves the radius of effect. These lights soothe, protect, and heal those who camp within the radius of effect.

* Soothe: A creature that completes a short or a long rest within the blessed tree’s radius of effect is cured of the following conditions: charmed, frightened, and exhaustion (up to one level).

* Protect: A creature that is within the blessed tree’s radius of effect when the ritual is completed gains the protection of sanctuary that lasts until the creature leaves the radius of effect or makes an attack or casts a spell that affects an enemey creature.

* Heal: A creature that takes a short rest within the blessed tree’s area of effect can spend one or more Hit Dice at the end of the short rest to regain lost hit points as normal. Add the Wisdom modifier of the cleric who performed the ritual to each Hit Die spent in this way to determine how many hit points are recovered. A creature that completes a long rest within the blessed tree’s area of effect regains all lost hit points as normal. The creature also gains inspiration.

December 9th, 2017  in RPG No Comments »

Day 7: Archbishop

No less a personage than Leo Magnus bore the blessed mitre and valorous crosier into confrontation with the Seeping Horde, that vast army of gnolls that poured out of the east and ravaged the land for decades before their defeat.

1E Stats

The blessed mitre appears as a fine example of craftsmanship suitable for a high-ranking cleric of a good-aligned faith. It is adorned with nine amethysts and a single ruby, all flawless and set in platinum. Each amethyst can store a single cleric spell of up to 2nd level. The ruby can store a single cleric spell up to 4th level. The wearer decides which spells to store in the gems when preparing spells for the day. Stored spells count against the wearer’s spells per day, but a stored spell can be cast with a simple command word (activation time 1 segment). No other components are required, and releasing a spell from the mitre cannot be disrupted by damage or similar means.

The valorous crosier is made from enchanted silver and a marvelous wood native to the Upper Planes. It functions as a +1 footman’s mace. The wielder is immune to fear-based effects and receives a +1 bonus on saving throws against attacks or effects from evil creatures. Once per day, the wielder can grant heroic courage to up to four allies within 30 feet. Affected allies become immune to fear-based effects and enjoy a +1 on “to hit” and damage rolls for one turn.

Both the blessed mitre and the valorous crosier function only when used by a good-aligned cleric or a paladin. An evil creature that attempts to use either suffers 2-20 points of damage and must make a saving throw against magic or commit suicide.

5E Stats

Blessed Mitre
Wondrous item, very rare (requires attunement by a divine spellcaster of good alignment)

The nine gemstones affixed to the blessed mitre store divine spells cast into them, holding them until the attuned wearer uses them. Each of the nine amethysts can hold up to a 2nd-level spell. The ruby can store up to a 4th-level spell. The spells are cast into the blessed mitre by wearing it as the spells are cast. While wearing the blessed mitre, you can with a command word cast any spell that you have stored in it. The spell uses your slot level, spell save DC, spell attack bonus, and spellcasting ability.

Valorous Crosier
Weapon (mace), very rare (requires attunement by a creature of good alignment)

You gain a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this magic weapon. While wielding it, you are immune to effects that cause the frightened condition. You make saving throws against attacks and effects from evil creatures with advantage. Once per long rest upon command, up to four allies who are within 30 feet of you are affected by heroism. This effect lasts for 1 minute with no need for concentration.

An evil-aligned creature that tries to use either the blessed mitre or valorous crosier takes 6d6 radiant damage for each attempt.

December 8th, 2017  in RPG No Comments »

Balaam’s Ass

And the Lord opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, “What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?” And Balaam said unto the ass, “Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee.” And the ass said unto Balaam, “Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? Was I ever wont to do so unto thee?” And he said, “Nay.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face. (Numbers 22:28-31)

Balaam’s Ass
CR 2; XP 600
NG Medium outsider (native)
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, scent; Perception +5

DEFENSE
AC 13, touch 12, flat-footed 11 (+2 Dex, +1 natural)
hp 30 (4d8+12)
Fort +7, Ref +6, Will +3; +4 racial bonus vs. poison
DR 5/magic; Resist acid 10, cold 10, electricity 10; SR 13

OFFENSE
Speed 40 ft., fly 80 ft. (good)
Melee 2 hooves +0 (1d3+1)
Special Attacks smite evil (2/day)
Spell Abilities (CL 4th; concentration +6)
3/day – protection from evil
1/day – aid, bless, detect evil

TACTICS
Balaam’s Ass prefers to avoid combat. It lacks the proper training, and its gentle disposition makes the idea of shedding blood unpleasant. As such, it prefer to rely on its skills, spell-like abilities, and common sense. If forced to fight, Balaam’s Ass seeks to flee. If it cannot flee, it will fight with its hooves as well as it can.

STATISTICS
Str 15, Dex 15, Con 16, Int 16, Wis 15, Cha 10
Base Atk +3; CMB +5; CMD 17 (21 vs. trip)
Feats Endurance, Persuasive, Run (B)
Skills Acrobatics +4 (+12 for running jumps), Diplomacy +6, Fly +13, Knowledge (nature) +7, Intimidate +2, Knowledge (planes) +7, Knowledge (religion) +7, Perception +9, Sense Motive +6, Stealth +9, Survival +6; Racial Modifier +4 Acrobatics for jumping
Languages Abyssal, Common, Celestial, Infernal

SPECIAL ABILITIES
Docile (Ex): Balaam’s Ass has no specific training for combat. Its hooves are treated as secondary attacks.

Smite Evil (Su): As a swift action, Balaam’s Ass can smite evil twice per day as a 4th-level paladin. The smite persists until target is dead or Balaam’s Ass rests.

Nota Bene I used stats for the pony, applied adjustments as per the awaken spell, and then tacked on the half-celestial template. I tweaked things a bit here and there just because.

September 22nd, 2017  in RPG No Comments »

Hurricane Harvey Update

Well, it’s official. Hurricane Harvey has done his damage for the most part. Months to years of rebuilding await. Fortunately, I’ve been little affected. A tree in my backyard split near into thirds. It’ll have to come down, but it’s not an emergency. I’ve had electricity, Internet, food, clean water, and shelter throughout, so I’ve got nothing to complain about and a great deal to be thankful for. Not everyone in and around Houston can say that same thing.

If you’re looking to help, I recommend both Catholic Charities and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. If you’re actually in the affected area, please check in with whatever local shelters or missions might be nearby. For example, not too far from my home is the Mission of Yahweh, which helps homeless women and children and needs food, water, diapers, et cetera.

Once I’m back to work, probably after Labor Day, I’ll get in touch directly with my students for the first time in a week. While the school has suffered no damage, I don’t know about my students’ homes. I hope and pray they’re all safe and dry. Once I have a better idea about their needs post-flood, I’ll look at putting together a special bundle or two of Spes Magna products to help pay for lost books, school supplies, uniforms, et cetera.

Finally, here’re some encounters for adventurers during a flood.

August 30th, 2017  in RPG No Comments »

Wisdom

In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night. God said: “Whatever you ask I shall give you.” Solomon answered: “You have shown great kindness to your servant, David my father, because he walked before you with fidelity, justice, and an upright heart; and you have continued this great kindness toward him today, giving him a son to sit upon his throne. Now, LORD, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed David my father; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act — I, your servant, among the people you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant, therefore, a listening heart to judge your people and to distinguish between good and evil. For who is able to give judgment for this vast people of yours?” (1 Kings 3:5-9)

Wisdom traditionally has been viewed as the ability to discern good from evil with the aim of doing the first and avoiding the latter. This view is reflected in AD&D‘s explanation of Wisdom, which “is a composite term for the character’s enlightenment, judgement, wile, will power, and (to a certain extent) intuitiveness” (PH, p. 11). It is the attribute which “subsumes the categories of willpower, judgment, wile, enlightenment, and intuitiveness” (DMG, p. 15). The qualities that Wisdom represents help me understand why Wisdom is the principal attribute of clerics, as well as being important for druids, paladins, rangers, and monks. For all but the monk, Wisdom also represents a connection to the divine, and, by extension, is a factor in a character’s alignment.

Some words about alignment. First and foremost, alignment is not a set of rules that dictate how a character must act. Sure, certain characters may suffer major consequences for acting contrary to their alignments, but their alignments per se do not make contrary action impossible. Also, alignment descriptions in the rules (PH, pp. 33-34; DMG, pp. 23-24) are generalizations. But what is alignment? It is a short-hand description of “the broad ethos of thinking, reasoning creatures” (DMG, p. 23). That’s it. Alignment summarizes a particular creature’s “disposition, character, or fundamental values” (to quote the dictionary about ethos). Alignment makes it possible to predict what a certain creature will do in such-and-such situation most of the time. Deviations are always possible, and probably fairly common in at least small ways.

Alignment is not, however, a reflection of a wholly subjective set of value judgments. In AD&D as the rules are written, it makes no sense to say that dwarves only think orcs are evil because dwarves are socially conditioned to think that way, but the orcs don’t view their actions as evil and so those actions are not really evil. It cannot be denied that there is always a subjective element in all moral judgments, but orcs “are cruel and hate living things in general”. They really hate elves “and will always attack them in preference to other creatures.” Orcs “take slaves for work, food, and entertainment (torture, etc) but not elves whom they kill immediately” (emphases added). In no way can cruelty, murderous cannibalism, slavery, torture for fun, et cetera be colored as anything other than evil. Orcs are not misunderstood or functioning under different but equally valid cultural norms. They’re evil as a general rule, both individually and collectively.

Alignment is especially important to classes with a connection to the divine. For example, clerics who “have not been faithful to their teachings, followed the aims of their deity, contributed freely to the cause, and otherwise acted according to the tenets of their faith” may find themselves unable to acquire certain levels of spells (DMG, p. 38). The consequences for paladins are perhaps the most severe of all. Paladins who “knowing perform an act which is chaotic in nature” must do appropriate penance. Those who “ever knowingly and willingly perform an evil act” lose paladin status forever.

My strong suspicion is that Mr. Gygax’s wording about paladins shows at least a familiarity with classical expressions of Christian moral theology. Note that certain actions are “chaotic in nature”. In other words, those actions are in and of themselves chaotic, regardless of what the paladin’s opinion might be or what the circumstances are. Christian moral theology doesn’t really consider things on a law-chaos axis as much as a good-evil axis, but recalling that “law dictates that order and organization [are] necessary and desirable” and “generally supports the group as more important than the individual” helps me grok essential differences. Ultimately, law cannot be concerned with what is merely legal. The Western philosophical tradition, well back before the time of Christ, has understood that unjust laws are not really laws. If torture is evil, for example, no law saying torture is acceptable makes torture not evil. Instead, in its essence, it seems as if law’s main thrust is that the Other and/or the Many have greater priority than the Self and/or the One. Note well that AD&D‘s alignment system conceptually separates such considerations from good-evil.

What this means for the lawful creature is that, all things being equal, the lawful creature puts the needs of others first. If a cleric and her companions are severely injured and in imminent danger of more harm, the lawful cleric probably heals her companions first. Perhaps some practical circumstances makes another use of healing resources more prudent, but, in general, the lawful cleric’s needs take a backseat to the needs of others. Back to the paladin, avoiding chaotic actions probably means that much of the time the paladin’s ability to “lay on hands” is going to be used to heal someone else.

When turning to good-evil, we see that “the tenets of good are human rights, or in the case of AD&D, creature rights. Each creature is entitled to life, relative freedom, and the prospect of happiness. Cruelty and suffering are undesirable.” Evil “does not concern itself with rights or happiness; purpose is the determinant” (DMG, p. 23). In other words, evil is about the will to power, about the ends both justifying and rationalizing the means. Those means may be aimed at the perceived benefit of the group (lawful evil) or entirely selfish (chaotic evil), but questions about life, freedom, and happiness are unimportant. As such, evil actions are evil in and of themselves. They are malum in se, not merely malum prohibitum. They violate what has been variously been called divine law, natural law, moral law, or (to use the term preferred by C. S. Lewis in The Abolition of Man) the Tao.

Back to what appears to be Mr. Gygax’s familiarity with classical expressions of Christian moral theology. Note that the paladin must “knowingly and willingly” do evil in order to lose paladin status. In classical Christian moral theology, distinctions are made between acts that are venial and mortal. Paladins lose their paladinhood for mortal acts, and for an act to be mortal it must meet certain objective criteria, namely:

1. The act’s subject matter must be grave. In other words, the act itself must be malum in se.
2. The act must be committed with full knowledge/awareness of the action’s evil and the gravity of the offense.
3. The act must be committed with deliberate and complete consent.

Each part above corresponds to part of makes paladins stop being paladins forever:

1. The act must be evil.
2. The act must be knowingly performed.
3. The act must be willingly performed.

In instances where the paladin does not have sufficient knowledge and/or does not act freely, the action remains evil, but does not meet the criteria necessary for him being stripped of paladinhood.

So what does this have to do with Wisdom?

Well, since Wisdom deals in part with a character’s ability to judge good from evil, it stands to reason that a character’s Wisdom somehow reflects at least the voice of conscience that kicks in before a character performs some act that will have dire consequences (such as loss of spells or no longer getting to advance as a paladin). This also means that I, as a DM, need to be clear about what constitutes law-chaos and good-evil in my campaign, and that I clearly communicate that information to my players. It doesn’t mean that such considerations are up for debate (although it might). If in my AD&D game I as DM say that torture is always and everywhere evil, then torture is always and everywhere evil.

Does that mean that, for example, a paladin may never resort to torture? No, for one reason: Paladins have free will. Does that mean that a paladin who tortures an enemy immediately and forever ceases to be a paladin? Probably. Referring to the three criteria above and considering that it’s my campaign world governed by certain moral absolutes I’ve defined as DM, the first criterion is met. I’ve communicated such to the players, but that doesn’t mean the paladin is all that hip to the truth. This is where the paladin’s Wisdom comes into play. If the paladin lacks sufficient Wisdom and sufficient moral training, he may be bit off in his understanding about torture. He might be fully aware of torture’s evil and gravity. Even if he is, there is still the third criterion. Does the paladin really have no other acceptable choice? If so, then, yes, the paladin commits a gravely evil act, but does not do so willingly. Some punishment from the gods is appropriate, but this punishment ought not include the permanent loss of paladinhood.

Wisdom reflects a character’s ability to discern good from evil. An exceptionally wise character ought not be surprised to learn after the fact that such-and-such action is evil. The character would have the insight to know ahead of time. The character may choose to ignore that insight as the player decides, and that is one of the ways that the moral drama implied by AD&D‘s alignment system comes into play.

July 31st, 2017  in RPG No Comments »