Levels 5 – 9 (Wilderness Exploration)
During this tier, the intent is to move the adventure “out-of-the-dungeon” and into the larger world as a whole (Hex Crawl). I have a few ideas for creating money-sinks, but since the first one turned out to be rather long-winded, this tier is probably going to be split into separate posts.
For this particular feature (Shrines), we attempt to leverage the Spell Slots and Turning features of the Cleric Class in new ways. Hope you find something useful in it. As always, feel free to season to your tastes, social contract, and campaign.
Although the construction of actual Strongholds typically wait until Name Level and later, it is never too soon to start building shrines, given the benefits that they can provide.
What Are Shrines?
In game terms, a Shrine (used pretty much interchangeably with Druid Groves) is simply a place where someone (usually a player) has invested resources and time to benefit from the ability to create repeatable castings of spells without having to use a Spell Slot (alongside some other optional benefits). Instead of a Spell Slot, these Spells can be cast at the Shrine with a Turning Attempt (an unmetered resource in BECMI) and alongside regular, somewhat trivially priced “offerings.” Additionally, they allow one to exert control over the map/landscape (physical and metaphysical), and serve as a springboard for overland travel based adventures. They can also be a huge financial investment, which is the primary purpose of these posts. :)
A shrine can vary greatly in size and scope. The smallest are simple alcoves/niches in existing structures (the tiny votive statue to the Goddess of Hangovers in an alcove on a tavern wall) to larger and more impressive decastyle, ten column affairs of polished marble.
Shrines have Levels. The size, scope, and Level of a Shrine determines the cost, and requisite steps to establish. These factors in turn determine the time it takes to construct/desecrate, and the boons it can provide.
General Shrine Requirements/Overview:
Step One: Determine a suitable location
Range: 0 (Caster Only)
Duration: 24 hours
Effect: Detects one location suitable for Shrine Construction
This prayer allows the cleric to sense the direction of one location suitable for constructing a Shrine dedicated to their faith. You must specify the Level of Shrine (1, 2, or 3+) you intend to construct or locate. It provides no specific information about distance (start walking), and will only detect the closest suitable site.
For the DM: A suitable site will typically be located at a distance based on the intended level of the shrine:
Level One Shrines are the most common, and have the least stringent site requirements. Generally there will be a suitable site for a Level One Shrine within 1d6 leagues (using the old definition: a league is the distance a person could walk in an hour) of a given location.
For higher Level Shrines, I’d recommend selecting a suitable, existing location on the Hex Map, or just randomly place one in a hex. A good rule of thumb is the distance of a given suitable site is less than 1d6 hexes (per Level of Shrine) from the current location. Use a d6 to determine direction and get ‘em crawling.
Potential Sites can be located via Rumor, Exploration, or even created by Events during Play (the site of a ferocious battle is sanctified by the blood of a fallen Cleric).
NOTE: Any place where a Miracle is granted (ie any 7th Level Cleric Spell is cast) automatically becomes a suitable site for a Level One shrine of any faith. Keep this in mind for later tiers, Players should be dumping money into making Level One Shrines everywhere.
Or one can use the 2nd level beseechment: Locate Shrine
- Some more bureaucratic religions only issue writs [scrolls] that contain this prayer instead of granting direct receipt during the standard prayer preparation. This allows them to exercise a modicum of control over where their faith spreads. These writs are available for sale or reward for service and are typically restricted to only locate sites suitable for a certain Level of Shrine, generally costing 1,000 gold pieces per level of Shine.
- Sometimes access to this prayer is only available at an existing Level Two Shrine (most Druid Groves work like this), created just for this purpose (and therefore Shrines leapfrog across the hex map from this central spoke).
Suitable Shrine sites are sometimes at a premium, so there may already be a Shrine from another faith on the site (it will need to be rededicated/desecrated). Shrine Level times 10% on a d100 is a good gauge to determine if the site already has a Shrine. The area might also be occupied, dangerous, or difficult to get to. Use this as an excuse for a brief site-based adventure/encounter coupled with some hex crawling. The intent of this tier is to get the players out and about exploring the sandbox whilst simultaneously putting down some basic roots and investing in the world (both fiscally and through discovery).
Step Two: Site Preparation:
Once the mundane, non-spiritual forces at a given site are dealt with (slaying the resident Hobgoblins, planting the sacred Oaks, bribing the innkeeper to allow installation of an alcove, etc.), the metaphysical area must be prepared for Shrines higher than Level One. This is done by intoning a Remove Curse on the site to cleanse the area of any stray negative influence.
Step Three: Shrine Construction:
Once a suitable site has been Located and prepared, construction can begin. Unless already possessed by the Player Character in the form of skills or plunder, suitable craftspersons/artists and raw materials must be procured (see the individual Shrine Levels for more information on components and construction time).
Step Four: Consecration
The site must be further sanctified by the Bless hymn at equal intervals, typically at dawn, nightfall, and either noon or midnight (or other spiritually significant times, at least thrice) for each day of construction. Clerics without sufficient Second Level Spell Slots may have to enlist the aid of others, or acquire holy writs for help. Only the first and last Blessing must be actually cast by the character establishing the Shrine.
Within 24 hours of the final Blessing, the imbuement must occur. A hymn or homily from the Cleric (or Druid) Spell List are uttered whilst touching the altar of the Shrine. A shrine can contain any spell from the Cleric (or Druid) Spell List of a level equal to it’s own (so a Third Level Shrine can contain a 3rd Level Spell).
Step Five: Activating a Shrine:
Shrines are activated by the faithful (usually defined by those who possess the Turn Undead ability, and Druids) and only work for those who follow the tenets of the religion or pantheon a given Shrine was built for.
To utilize the primary benefit of a shine, offerings are presented, and a Turning Check is made. The difficulty of this check is based on the Level of the Shrine and the user can generally improve their chances by providing more expensive/exotic offerings (as detailed in the Shrine Levels in the next posts).
If successful, the supplicant may effectively cast or become the recipient of one of the Spells imbued within the shrine. If the user is of sufficient level to automatically turn with a “T” result, then no Check is necessary (although minimal value offerings are still required). If a “D” result is present, the Shrine can be activated gratis.
Optionally, lay members of the religion (non-Clerics) may heap Offerings upon the shrine in exchange for a small chance of it working for them (I’d go with 1% chance per 10 gold pieces in value of Offerings).