Friday, September 14, 2012

Personal Quests - The Test of Faith

The test of faith is a personal quest designed for lawful characters (or good characters, whichever version of alignment you use in your game). I'm sure somebody out there can modify it for other alignments, but for now I'm sticking with the good guys.

Step One: The lawful character challenges his deity or faith to test him. Test him down to the marrow in his bones to see if he is truly worthy. The petitioner must wager wisdom points (a minimum of 4) on this personal quest. Each point of wisdom wagered translates into either one month, or one game session, of the test (referee's choice). During these months, normal XP acquisition is suspended for the character.

In place of normal XP acquisition, the petitioner earns XP for lawful/good acts. We're talking acts of sacrifice, generosity, caring, love (not lust), etc. The XP value is based on the object of this lawful act, with clerics and paladins (and perhaps rangers, depending on the rules you use) earning double the XP because the stakes of this test are much higher for them.

Close friend or family = 50 XP x level

Associate = 100 XP x level

Stranger = 200 XP x level

Stranger, helpless = 300 XP x level

If the lawful act directly benefits the petitioner, cut the XP in half.

Step Two: The test involved here essentially works like a curse (and one than cannot be magically alleviated, since the petitioner entered into the test on their own volition). Every time the petitioner performs a lawful/good act, they are beset by a misfortune.

During the first month/session of the test, these misfortune's are fairly minor annoyances - food going bad, a piece of equipment is lost or damaged, they trip over something and make a fool out of themselves. You get the idea. All of these misfortunes affect the petitioner.

During the second month/session of the test, the misfortunes are magnified and more mechanical - penalties to saving throws or attack rolls, weapons or armor breaking in the middle of a fight, etc.

During the third month/session of the test, the misfortunes begin to affect the petitioner's allies (i.e. party members, henchmen, hirelings). The misfortune's might be as above, or might be things like surprise diseases or house fires. Each time such a thing occurs, there is, obviously, a good chance an NPC becomes hostile to the petitioner and abandons them. The actions of party members are up to the players, of course.

During the fourth and subsequent months/sessions of the test, the misfortunes begin plaguing random strangers (could be a child, could be a powerful king) in the city or kingdom or region the petitioner is adventuring or living in. Word of the petitioner's test will have spread, of course, so it is likely that the victim of this misfortune will know who to blame. It's also very possible that every misfortune will be blamed on the adventurer. Needless to say, these are going to be rough times.

Fortunately, there is a way out ...

Step Three: To stop the misfortunes, the petitioner need only renounce his or her god/goddess/faith, publicly and loudly. The adventurer's alignment is changed to neutral, and all benefits from the lawful alignment are lost (i.e. clerics lose all spellcasting ability, turn undead, paladins become normal fighting-men, etc. - it's up to the referee if the petitioner can atone to regain his alignment and abilities) The petitioner loses the wagered wisdom points (they have lost their faith), and these cannot be restored by any means.

If, on the other hand, the petitioner survives this test of faith, they receive half as many wisdom points as they wagered as a permanent boost to their wisdom (max. 18) and begin attracting 1d6 zealous followers to their flock each time they advance one level. These followers are in addition to normal retainers allowed by charisma and in addition to followers gained when one builds a stronghold. The adventurer is now known far and wide for his faith, but he might also be despised for the trouble he has caused and have to work diligently to make things right.

Monday - the Test of Intelligence


  1. Like the principle, though it would take a better GM than myself to run it well. If a player made it thought all this, I think I'd be tempted to reward them with a little more than a couple of wisdom points. Just my 2c.

  2. They also get the followers. And boosts to ability scores are more significant in older games - hard to come by.

  3. I hear you. I think, however, that I'd have to allow the possibility of a "19" max, though, especially if the loss of attribute points is going to severely impact the character's performance (i.e. going from a 16 or 17 Intelligence down to a 13).

  4. I should have also mentioned that the real reward and point of these quests is character development. The mechanical bits and pieces are meant to be a minor component.

  5. This type of article is exactly why I read NOD. I hope it shows up in the next issue.

  6. In stages 2 and 3, in addition to the misfortunes, do you foresee adding temptations of other natures? A chaste knight tempted by lust? A usually humble cleric tempted with advancement in the hierarchy purely for recognition or power rather than true devotion? A ranger tempted to mine a resource for wealth that has no obvious effect on the environment he protects? Would resisting these temptations (if you did have them) off additional XP?

    For a true Dark Night of the Soul experience at Step Three, one might even consider removing the character's ability to create any miraculous effects/spells. Or perhaps more importantly would be the feeling of complete abandonment by their god whom they profess during meditation or prayer. One could even take this to the extreme of a trip to the god's abode, only to find it empty and derelict, then see how the character responds ... not to mention the bonus coolness of describing a desolate Olympus, Asgard or Elysium.


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