Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Petty Magic for Petty Matters—Part #2: Divine

Last time we talked about how Petty Magic (Arcane) could be used by a Magister to improve the lives of the smallfolk—peasants, merchants, etc. This time, we're looking at Priests and Petty Magic (Divine)!


Petty Magic (Divine)

Petty Magic (Divine) falls into a weird grey area, for me. On the one hand, I tend to have Divine magic much rarer, in my WFRP, than Arcane magic. Divine magic is literal miracles, and rarely, if ever, is it exact or reliable. Petty Magic, on the other hand, is more along the lines of blessings, which I can forgive as being rare, but no more so than secular wizards (which are super rare, anyway).

Whilst everyone in the Warhammer world would have been blessed at some point, and most of them often and repeatedly, few would encounter true blessings in their lives (and very very few multiple times throughout their lives). But the big thing to note is: believers think that every blessing they receive is a true blessing. Every "spell" below represents what occurs when the blessings seem to have tangible effects. These would be welcomed, if misunderstood, by the people who receive them, and would give common folks a heightened sense of faith in their Gods.

Blessing of Courage

The Priest speak inspirational words, emboldening the audience to shake off fear and terror.

Whilst there are plenty of chances to use a prayer like this in combat, there might not seem to be as many chances outside of it. You'd be wrong. Consider the moments of your life which are scary or terrifying, in which people freeze up, or don't have the courage to act quickly…

A bully is harassing the children of a nearby school, and the kids don't have the courage to stand up for themselves. A fire is raging in a local tavern, and everyone is frozen with indecision about whether to rush in and save the folks inside or not. Someone needs to go down into the dark well and fish out the bucket that got cut loose.

These moments may seem inglorious, but then many instances of folk prayer are. They're not asking the priest to embolden them before battle, but to aid them in simple tasks which are made not-so-simple because of the circumstances. A priest whose words seem to miraculously lift the hearts of the people would soon find themselves beloved of the smallfolk.

Blessing of Speed

The Priest touches the beneficiary, who moves faster and with more agility.

Delivering a message just in time. Running for cover out of a terrible storm. Or just having the chance to get everything you need to get done in the few hours of the day you have to work (because peasants rarely have time to be idle).

The Blessing of Speed could be used near constantly by anyone in the Old World, and their lives would be better for it. Obviously, such flippant use of miracles would come with the ire of the Gods, but perhaps Taal would look kindly on a Priest who blessed the running of a hunter, or Rhya the busy work of a nurse maid, or Sigmar to speed of the blacksmith, to ready weapons for the coming Greenskin Waaagh!

Blessing of Fortitude

The Priest touches the beneficiary, who becomes tougher of body and mind.

This is the catch-all "please help guide me" prayer that the smallfolk ask of so many Priests. A blessing like this could aid them in choosing the wisest course of action—which grains to grow, or where to send their sheep. It could aid them in passing uncooked or spoiled food, or accepting the death of a loved one, or… You get the idea.

This would likely be the most requested blessing, and also the least understood. Because it's only a small boost to Toughness and Will Power characteristics, often the results might never be observed. Did the peasant do better because of the blessing? Or because they were more confident? Maybe both? To the simple mind, though, correlation is easy to draw, and a Priest who dispenses these blessings would be very popular.

Blessing of Healing

The Priest touches the beneficiary, who heals a single Wound.

I don't think I even need to go into why this would be useful. It's only a single Wound, so it's not a huge difference, but it is significant if tipping the balance between Heavily Wounded and Lightly Wounded (and that's a difference of getting better in a single day, rather than two).

Even speeding healing by one day is enough to separate a peasant who starves (and potentially dies) and one who doesn't. Not to mention if the healing comes during harvest season…the lack of healing could have follow-on effects for the rest of the year, or longer, if the peasant needs to sell themselves to a Lord in exchange for the extra food that is missing.

Blessing of Might

The Priest touches the beneficiary, who becomes stronger and more skilled with a blade.

Whilst clearly focused on battle, here, there are situations when being stronger would aid in the day-to-day work of a peasant. Carrying bundles of hay, back and forth, would be much easier with this little boost. Being able to thresh grain from wheat stalks more effectively. Being slightly less tired from hauling enough water back from the well…

This blessing is similar to the Blessing of Fortitude, in that when it works, it's not certain if it's thanks to the Priest or not. But most folks would be thankful for the blessing, regardless.

Blessing of Protection

The Priest bestows the protection of their deity upon the beneficiary.

Now, this one requires a bit of GM fiat. Whilst the prayer's description is entirely focused on combat, that doesn't make too much sense for most of the Gods. Why would Rhya care about a battle? Why would Ranald care about protecting from sword swings?

Instead, I would rule this prayer gives, essentially, narrative proof against the areas of influence of the chosen God. Either the GM should choose a new target for the foulness, or should roll at a -10% to see if it affects them, or the character gains a +10%, or… You get the idea.

Maybe Rhya gives a +10% bonus to gathering food, or against food spoilage, or makes sure a mother's child isn't targeted (but perhaps the mother is targeted instead?) Maybe Ranald makes it so a thief thinks twice before taking your purse (rolls a Will Power at -10%, or chooses another target). Maybe Ulric has less snow fall on your house and your fields, not destroying your crops quite as much as your neighbours.

As you can see, Petty Magic (Divine) sometimes needs a little more thinking through than Petty Magic (Arcane), but such consideration is good! You'll get more of an idea how priests fit into your game world, when you examine how their blessings would be received and even misinterpreted. Next time we'll touch on Petty Magic (Hedge)!