So after that last post (might be important to read that one before this, but your choice), I was thinking through some “divine alchemy”. Should these pilgrimages include things like: put a dragon fang, a lit blue candle, the long sword, and a live chicken on the altar in order to enchant the blade? So I was thinking that these pilgrimages should have sacrifices associated with them. Not only does it make them harder to do (requiring more adventuring instead of just showing up), but these are gods - they like sacrifices.
Now I have all sorts of rules about sacrifices in my game. Chief among them is the idea that sacrificing a person to a god allows that god to require ten years of service from that soul before they are released to their eternal reward. Well, I was thinking of a dog breed I developed as a temple guardian for the main war god in Fletnern (Manoto, god of war in the Dinsthain pantheon). What if someone sacrificed one of these “sacred temple guardians”? I think we have too dark a concept of sacrifices. Since the vast majority of us are monotheistic, we don’t see sacrificing in a good light. I am trying to role-play my NPCs, and I think giving a sacred dog to your god would be a good thing.
So here’s what I’ve come up with: You find a “perfect” dog (unblemished and the right color, etc.). You raise it for a certain period of time, maybe six to ten months. You have to follow some rather serious restrictions on how you raise it, including what you feed it, etc. After that, you sacrifice the dog on Manoto’s altar in a special ceremony. You have now created a dog angel that will serve Manoto in the afterlife. Manoto is a war god, so he has legions that battle other divine armies all the time. Not only did you just help your god, but when you eventually die, you get your dog back as a celestial war dog to work with you in the divine army.
Sounds a little sick to us modern folks, but not only do these folks have faith, but they actually have lots of gods around - gods that grant them spells and magic items. They can damn near prove that that the dog becomes an angel. Isn’t that a good thing?
A couple of extra things. Some people who have done this ritual swear that the angel dogs must be following them around, because they have been awoken from sleep just before an ambush by loud barking that no one else heard. The ritual is typically done by younger people (teens) because it is pretty exhausting to train the dog in this fashion (too tiring for old men) and because the amount of time you spend with the dog is something a married guy just couldn’t do. Lastly, or those of you still thinking this isn’t for you and your more hack and slash campaign: A priest (maybe the one in your party) is contacted by one of Manoto’s angels. It seems that there is a dog breeder who is not following all the proper tenets of raising these dogs. Because of this, young faithful men are going through all the work to create these angle dogs, but it isn’t working. This breeder needs to be punished. Boom, your next mission. The breeder will have an extensive family of guys who are training fighting dogs (those guys do tend to be rather rough or at least nasty) as well as a herd of war dogs. Maybe there is some special dog on that breeding farm that they have to rescue. It might be destined to be a special temple watch dog or it may be destined for one of the party members.
You see, I like the gods being involved in the campaigns; I just don’t like the gods being so predictable. Pray for X hours and get these spells. That’s not for my style of play.