Results 1 to 7 of 7
  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Gender
    Male

    Default Designing divine trials

    I need some help and ideas for designing a sort-of-adventure aimed at testing certain qualities within a player character: one of my players has informed me that he wishes for his character (a Half-Orc Barbarian who has become the ruler of his own small dominion) to undertake a sort of "vision quest" to meet with the orc gods. Within my homebrew settings, the orcs worship a triad of progenitors: Elder, Mother and Warrior. According to their belief, these gods reside on a certain mountain (a very, very tall mountain, as dictated by tropes), and thus the character wants to scale the mountain.

    Now, before he can scale the mountain, he'll have to go across a large swat of wilderness. I haven't yet decided on what will happen if/when the party gets at the top of the mountain, but I want to create some sort of "trials" the character will meet on this journey, tests sent by his gods to assess if he's worthy of meeting them. Each of the three gods values different things and qualities in their followers, and they will test for them.

    The Elder values wisdom and leadership, the capacity to make hard decisions and stick by them, as well as thinking before acting.
    The Mother values family and tribe, knowledge of traditions and the bonds which strengthen both the individual and the community.
    The Warrior values strength and bravery, honour, pride and the ability to assert one's own will over that of the others.

    Now, I also don't want to be very in-your-face about these trials, at least not right off the bat. The character isn't supposed to come across the various trials and immediately be able to deduce they have been purposefully placed there by his gods.

    Designing the trials of the Warrior will be rather easy - battles and duels against monsters and/or orcs, tests of strength like lifting rocks or trees from the path or even just scaling the mountain in itself are efficient ways to see if the character is brave and strong.

    Elder and Mother, however, have me a bit stumped: the Mother could create illusions of family members in danger or need of help, but the character could quickly determine that something isn't quite right - why would his brother be in front of him, when he stayed behind in their hometown when the party embarked on this journey? I was thinking that could be reserved for the latter, more explicit stages of the trials, while early on she could send people who offer something in exchange for help, and see how he reacts. Maybe a wandering shaman could test the character's knowledge and respect of orc traditions.

    Elder gives me trouble because I can't quite decide on what he might use as a trial: puzzles, sure, as well as various hazards which need to be defeated by using brains rather than brawn, but those are really generic ideas I don't feel are quite specific enough. The best setting in which the Elder could test the characters' virtues would be in the city, but the party isn't going to be there.

    Oh, and we're using D&D 3.5 as a system, if that is of any help.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Pixie in the Playground
    Join Date
    Aug 2018

    Default Re: Designing divine trials

    Quote Originally Posted by Silly Name View Post
    The Elder values wisdom and leadership, the capacity to make hard decisions and stick by them, as well as thinking before acting.
    The Mother values family and tribe, knowledge of traditions and the bonds which strengthen both the individual and the community.
    The Warrior values strength and bravery, honour, pride and the ability to assert one's own will over that of the others.
    The Elder might test strength and bravery tempered by wisdom. Does he charge forward without thinking? Or does he evaluate a situation for traps or deception? Have drow or something else known to lie challenge him exactly like tests of the Warrior, but have their challenge be a trap.

    The Mother doesn't necessarily have to use his family as part of the challenge, she can use orcs in general. Have him come across an orc who needs help, he's wounded or needs medicine for someone in his village. The orc won't ask for help, but the character knows he can't do the thing on his own. Does he help his 'family' or just move on?

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Ettin in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Designing divine trials

    Have you been reading the Immortals Boxed set/Wrath of the Immortals?

    'cause this sounds almost exactly like the set-uo for getting to meet a prospective Immortal patron in one's bid for Immortality. You're in luck in that I've run four players through this very thing this year. You're out of luck in that they don't quite match up to your gods. Even so, there may be some useful inspiration here.

    Ignoring the steps you've already taken care of, there are seven trials a petitioner must go through to gain what is basically a divine job interview.
    Bravery
    Wisdom
    Mercy and compassion
    Generosity
    Honor & Trustworthiness
    Dedication to the Sphere of Power
    Resourcefulness
    Persistence in the face of adversity.

    Note: The Sphere of Power in the BECMI/Mystara sense should not be confused with the PF expansion - they are 5 concepts more basic than elements in Mystaran cosmology, and all Immortals and elements are aligned to one of them.

    The PC who worshipped an Immortal closest to a mother-type deity had Matter as her Sphere. Matter is multitude, stability, variety without change, and withstanding decay. The PC was sent to the Hollow World to wander. Her trials were:

    Spoiler: Ranya
    Show
    Generosity - she found out a passage to the Hollow World which indicated that it would close soon. Just before entering she encountered a young man off to save his kidnapped love. The young man had no arms or armor and they were far from anywhere to obtain such things. Would she choose to help the lad by donating her weapons or leave him to fend for himself?
    Resourcefulness - the PC did not regain spells or hit points from rest. She had to husband her resources carefully on a journey of unknown duration and difficulty
    Persistence - every time she held her holy symbol she felt cold, empty, abandoned by her Immortal and took 1 hp damage. Would she remain faithful?
    Wisdom - the purpose of the Hollow World is a living museum for cultures and creatures that were dead or evolved beyond on the surface. This is not explicitly mentioned anywhere the PC can get the information, but enough hints should be gained by interacting with the cultures there. Would the PC understand the purpose of HW?
    Honor & Trustworthiness - the PC came across a secret order dedicated to collecting information about the HW. Having easily gained their trust, she learns that there is one site in the hidden valley that is forbidden to outsiders, but that information she needs to complete her quest may be found there. Does she betray the trust of the Order or risk failing in her quest?
    Dedication - the PC came across some other outworlders who had stumbled into this place. Unable to get home, they have decided to set themselves up as kings, using their superior technology to dominate the locals. Worse, they were in danger of introducing corrupting influences that could endanger the reservation. Would the PC take time off from her quest to make sure these characters were no longer a threat, at great personal cost?
    Mercy & Generosity - tied to the point above, how much was the PC willing to sacrifice to save the natives and the HW?
    Bravery - when she had come to the final mountain to climb, the PC noticed she became notably weaker with every step. In game terms every X steps she lost a level and at 1st level the final stretch would, going by how much she had lost so far, be more than enough to kill her. Would she press on or give up?



    The relevant Immortal closest to the Elder would be Khoronus, a patron of rulers and leadership. Khoronus is a Time Immortal - Time is about changing others while remaining unchanged, being creative and shaping. The PC petitioning him was a paladin of another god.

    Spoiler: Othariel
    Show
    Resourcefulness - The PC was transported back in time to a pivotal moment in history - just before a massive explosion ruins most of the continent. How will she survive and return to her own time?
    Wisdom - being a petitioner of a Time Immortal, the PC had to learn how to respect the timeline, however much she might want to change it (since time travel is comparatively easy in the setting, at least for Immortals). Would she attempt to stop the disaster or not?
    Honor & Trustworthiness - Locals who knew of the impending disaster begged the PC to somehow go back and prevent it, and like a fool she agreed. Would she honor her promise to help or respect the timeline?
    Persistence - the PC was shown a vision of the future, shown all the mistakes she will make and how trying to become a god will harm the country she currently rules. Will she give up on her quest and any good she can do as a god to save
    Bravery - the PC was faced with a future (?) version of herself: a fallen paladin, a failed Immortal and the ruler of a land of ashes. Someone who had tried to be a good paladin, a good ruler, and a god failed at all three. The ultimate proof that if you try to be three absolute things you will fail at them. Would she give up her paladin status and status as a kind and just ruler to achieve godhood, at the expense of others?
    Mercy & Generosity - The PC was faced with the spirit of her former lover. The lover had betrayed her trust, committed horrible atrocities against her people and even killed her at one point before he was destroyed. Now she is in a position to grant forgiveness and end his eternal torment. Will she do this to the one creature she hates more than anything?
    Dedication - When finally faced with her prospective patron, the PC is given a choice: abandon her current god in favor of the one she wishes to have as a sponsor. Would the PC do this?




    The closest thing we have to a Warrior god among our adventures is Tomokato's prospetive patron Lokena, a lover of tactics, bravery and intelligent warfare. Another paladin dedicated to an Immortal other than the one they wanted to sponsor them.

    Spoiler: Tomokato
    Show
    Mercy - The PC comes across a village suffering a virulent plague. Though he could easily handle most of it, being a paladin, divine worship and power is illegal in this country. Will he blatantly break the law and risk death to help people, who are getting at least some help from the local lord and will probably survive (at least most of them)?
    Honor - The local lord finds out about the PC's status as a paladin. In gratitude for his help curing the plague, the PC is not immediately executed or even cast out, but he is forced to promise not to use any of his powers while in the country. Will he honor this promise even if it could cost him his life of the success of his quest?
    Wisdom - having been lead to a specific area, the PC has to find out why he was lead there and what he needs to find
    Resourcefulness - Lokena is a young Immortal, not even 100 years old. Getting important information on the right quest required going to her old home and getting hold of some documents. Could the PC convince her family to give up the required material without telling them why he wants it or lying about why?
    Persistence - The way is blocked by a military installation. The PC must get through using his wits and intelligence.
    Dedication - He finds hidden worshippers in the installation. Will he risk his life and quest to aid them in staying hidden?
    Bravery - same as Ranya's quest, since the player wasn't around for that bit so we could reuse it




    I was fortunate to have cool players who helped me come up with these trials (and for the final player, whose trials don't really apply here).
    Last edited by BWR; 2018-11-07 at 07:09 PM.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Zombie

    Join Date
    May 2010

    Default Re: Designing divine trials

    Quote Originally Posted by Silly Name View Post
    the Mother could create illusions of family members in danger or need of help, but the character could quickly determine that something isn't quite right - why would his brother be in front of him, when he stayed behind in their hometown when the party embarked on this journey?
    She's a goddess. She doesn't need to use illusions. She can just teleport his actual family to him to test him.

    The orc to be tested enters a cave and finds himself in a large chamber with a well of flames. Also in the chamber is his brother and an allied chief from the western valley. His brother is a good warrior, but not terribly important to the tribe. The allied chief is a vital part of the tribe's power structure and without him the tribe will be vulnerable to attack by the kingdom to the west. The three gods appear as faces in the cavern ceiling and tell the orc pilgrim the test.
    Warrior: "Nothing in this life comes without cost and you must be prepared to pay in blood and pain."
    Mother: "The bonds of blood and loyalty bind the tribe together, but it is only as strong as its weakest link."
    Elder: "Anyone can revel in overwhelming victory. To ascend the holy mountain, you must prove you can endure the loss and sacrifice needed to reach a bitter victory."
    Warrior: "None shall pass this chamber and enter the valley of the gods until you throw an orc into the holy flame."
    Mother: "The strength of the tribe is greater than any one orc."
    Elder: "It is a hard choice, but you must choose. Choose wisely."
    Warrior: "Choose bravely."
    Mother: "Choose for all."

    Then just wait to see what he does. The other orcs are real and have been brought here by the gods for the test.

    If he throws his brother in the fire, the warrior will be satisfied that he didn't turn back and the elder will be satisfied that he didn't cripple the tribe for the sake of his brother. The mother will be unhappy that he turned on his brother. He can pass with the blessing of 2 of the 3 gods.

    If he throws the allied chief in the fire, the warrior will be satisfied that he didn't turn back and the mother will be happy that he saved his brother. The elder will be unhappy that he put personal loyalty over what it best for the tribe. He can pass with the blessing of 2 of the 3 gods.

    If he walks away, the elder and the mother will both be satisfied that he didn't harm the tribe or his family for his own personal glory. The warrior will be disappointed that he gave up when the going got tough. He can pass with the blessing of 2 of the 3 gods.

    If he jumps in the fire himself, the elder will be satisfied with a rational transaction of one life for many. The mother will be pleased that he gave himself to save his brother and remained loyal to family and tribe. The warrior will be pleased that he was brave enough to face a painful death rather than retreat and had the honor to not force another to die in his place. He can pass with the blessing of all 3 gods.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Designing divine trials

    Quote Originally Posted by hotflungwok View Post
    The Elder might test strength and bravery tempered by wisdom. Does he charge forward without thinking? Or does he evaluate a situation for traps or deception? Have drow or something else known to lie challenge him exactly like tests of the Warrior, but have their challenge be a trap.
    Actually, they already have fought against Dark Elves in the area, so meeting them again might be fun. Turning the test of the Warrior upside down is a really interesting idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by BWR View Post
    Have you been reading the Immortals Boxed set/Wrath of the Immortals?

    'cause this sounds almost exactly like the set-uo for getting to meet a prospective Immortal patron in one's bid for Immortality.
    Never heard of that, actually. Sounds interesting though.

    Quote Originally Posted by BWR View Post
    -snip-
    Those are all quite interesting trials, and while I don't think I am going to copy-paste them, they'll be certainly useful as an inspiration. Othariel and Tomakato's trials are the ones I'll probably draw the most from. Thank you for sharing them!

    Quote Originally Posted by Xuc Xac View Post
    She's a goddess. She doesn't need to use illusions. She can just teleport his actual family to him to test him.
    My issue wasn't so much as the exact method she could use, but rather that meeting family members who the character knows shouldn't be there in front of him would immediately tip off that something strange and unusual is going on. Which he should recognise as he gets closer to the mountain, but shouldn't realise that he's being tested from the first step of the journey.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xuc Xac View Post
    -snip-
    This is perfect! I'll definitely use it as the final test he'll have to pass before meeting the gods. Thanks!

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    DruidGirl

    Join Date
    Nov 2018
    Location
    Southern Germany
    Gender
    Female

    Default Re: Designing divine trials

    A simple hostage situation might also work as a test, but may not be an obvious trial. Another party member is taken hostage by a bandit, who demands something that the party needs to scale the mountain. Or he simply demands money, since few adventurers like to part from their gold.
    So: What will the Half-Orc do?

    Risk his friends life for some valuables? Obviously, the mother wouldn't be happy. Let the bandit get away with the money, to protect the party member, maybe chase after them later? Not the most honorable decision...
    Talk the bandit into something entirely different?
    Depending on the item that the bandit takes, or if getting to the mountain is a time sensitive matter, there are some hard decisions to be made here, so maybe this could be a trial from the elder.
    Hope this is uselful.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Jay R's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Designing divine trials

    He meets an old man along the way, who asks him to come help defend his village. Then the old man is slow, and difficult, and the PC will have to really divert from his quest to help him.

    When he finally reaches the gods, he will discover that the old man was the Elder, and he has already passed (or failed) the Elder's test.

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •