But clerics are about more than just that. Priests fulfill a role in society, basically maintaining the social structure. They officiate at social transition moments: rites of passage, weddings, funerals, investitures, christenings, seasonal rites. And these are traditionally avoided by RPGs.
The few times I’ve seen anything about rites performed by priests, it’s presented in one of two ways:
- As a narrative device. How to include weddings and funerals in your game to make your campaign feel more alive.
- As yet another combat aid. Get a +2 bonus on all rolls if you participated in a wedding within the last week.
The quick fix is to assume there’s a chance of being cursed every time you pass through a transition. Make a reaction roll, for example the standard 2d6 one from OD&D. On a Very Bad reaction (2, for a 2d6 roll,) everyone involved in the transition is cursed. Or, if it is a land-related event (planting season, harvest,) the land itself is cursed.
The trick is that, if there is no ritual observed, either the result rolled is halved, or the GM rolls half as many dice. This increases the chances of rolling a Very Bad result: for the 2d6 roll, there’s a 1 in 3 chance of rolling a 2 or less.
At the very least, curses should shift any reaction roll down one category, or cause disadvantage for games like D&D 5e. Things can go wrong in other ways, too. For example, weapons can break or be knocked out of a PC’s hand when damage rolled is 1. In Our Undying Neighbors, I make a big deal about Animate Dead and Raise Dead spells having a chance of creating undead when cast under the influence of a curse.
Obviously, this can be fleshed out a lot more. And eventually, that will be my job.
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