Sunday, July 19, 2009

Be careful on Holy Ground

Today's post is going to deal with a common lacking I've seen in many role-playing games with clerics, the lack of importance of a holy ground. While in a lot of fantasy media and historic folklore there is a strong importance of being on holy ground, not so in most games.

In Piecemeal holy ground is a prime consideration for using Priest Miracles. Most healing and damage spells are given a re-roll, or reduced piety cost when cast on holy ground. Weapons wielded by the faithful on holy ground count as magical (making the town chapel an ideal place of refuge when the werewolves attack) and those of enemy faith's cannot heal on holy ground.

This makes being on holy ground (and not being on unholy ground) very important to consider. But how prevalent is holy ground? "Consecrate Ground" is a priest miracle, any PC or NPC priest who wants to spend the piety may use this miracle. It turns a shrine, temple or church into holy ground for as long as the shrine , temple or church remains undefiled. Thus in conflicts it is often important to make sure you destroy the unholy sites of the enemy.

Why is this good?

1.) On a tactical level this adds a spiritual element to the terrain. When fighting an evil cult to Baphomet, deep in the woods around the base of the JuJu tree you need to make some decisions. Do you focus on fighting the cultists and the high priest first and destroy the shrine afterwards? Doing so means your priest is at a disadvantage and t he enemy priest is at an advantage. You could also focus on setting the JuJu tree on fire first, letting the high priest use more infernal miracles against you. And a third option is to perhaps have a thief sneak in before hand and set fire to the JuJu tree as a signal to begin the attack. It adds choices and more strategy to terrain.

2.) It makes the local temple or church more of a "safe house" from the supernatural and occult shrines that much more foreboding of a place to venture.

3.) It allows priest characters the ability to add permanent additions to the world that will have a lasting and recurring benefit to them.

How to add this into other games without using the Priest Magic system of Piecemeal?

Allow a Cleric or Druid to spend a full season blessing a church or sacred grove etc. Afterwards, as long as the church or sacred grove isn't defiled (IE its altar vandalized or the sacred oak chopped down) then all healing spells allow a re-roll for hit points regained and all damage spells allow a re-roll for damage dealt. All mundane attacks against enemy supernatural creatures count as magical. Tweak to taste to give a mechanical (and revokable) benefit to being on holy ground (besides being immune to getting your head cut off)


  1. I like this idea a lot. I'm in a game right now where clerics and gods and so on are a big deal, and I'm really digging that aspect of the game. Hmm . . . if I used this in a D&D-ish, polytheistic game, it'd be a lot of fun to give each god a slightly different bonus to their particular holy ground.

  2. Nice suggestion and a timely reminder.

    I'd go for more defensive or passive-offensive powers (e.g foes take penalties to their attacks against the faithful, abominations to the faith (e.g. undead for solar/healing gods) take damage as if doused in holy water if a priest is there.

    And yes, there should have been only one!

  3. Im really glad this appeals to people, its occassionally very hard to know what types of rules appeal to people.