Friday, May 6, 2011

Questing Dice, By Jove!

"Questing Dice" is one of my favorite options from the Risus Companion, which is jam-packed with usefuleness to begin with.  If you trade in one starting dice, you can get 5 dice than can be used once each (per adventure) on any cliche, as long as that cliche is being used in furtherance of a specific purpose. This purpose is the "quest" for which the Questing Dice mechanic was named, and this purpose must be specified when the dice are purchased. This doesn't have to be a literal quest (as in Holy Grail), however; it can apply to any situation which would limit the usefulness of the dice to specific situations. In fantasy games, one such application would be to represent the patronage and divine assistance of a god.

The Greek gods are fairly well known to gamers, so I'll use them as an example.  The best known ones are the Twelve Olympians, which are actually 14 if you count Hades, Hestia, and Dionysus.

  • Aphrodite: Goddess of love and beauty.
  • Apollo: God of music, healing, plague, prophecies, poetry, and archery; associated with light, truth and the sun.
  • Ares: God of war, bloodlust, violence, manly courage, and civil order. 
  • Artemis: Virgin goddess of the hunt, wilderness, wild animals, childbirth and plague. In later times she became associated with the moon. 
  • Athena: Goddess of wisdom, warfare, battle strategy, heroic endeavour, handicrafts and reason. 
  • Demeter: Goddess of fertility, agriculture, horticulture, grain and harvest. 
  • Dionysus: God of wine, parties and festivals, madness, civilization, drunkenness and pleasure. 
  • Hades or Pluto: King of the Underworld and god of the dead and the hidden wealth of the Earth.
  • Hephaestus: Crippled god of fire, metalworking, stonemasonry, sculpture and volcanism. 
  • Hera: Queen of marriage, women, childbirth, heirs, kings and empires.
  • Hermes: God of travel, messengers, trade, thievery, cunning wiles, language, writing, diplomacy, athletics, and animal husbandry. He is the messenger of the gods, a psychopomp who leads the souls of the dead into Hades' realm.
  • Hestia: Virgin goddess of the hearth, home and cooking. 
  • Poseidon: God  of the sea, rivers, floods, droughts, storms, earthquakes, and horses
  • Zeus: The king of the gods, the ruler of Mount Olympus and the god of the sky, weather, thunder, law, order, and fate.
These would be fine for use as Questing Dice in my game, but  I think I can make them even better. Every god also had a number of divine epithets or "nicknames" that describe their scope of authority. These are often more evocative than "God of Animal Husbandry", and reveal more interesting aspects that many overlook:    

  • Aphrodite:  She Who Turns To Love;  Averter of Unlawful Desires; Spying; Peeping; Whispering; Of the Sea; Of Night
  • Apollo: Foreseeing; Shooting from Afar; The Hunter; Healer; Leader of the Muses; Of the Mice; Of the Wolves; Of the Locusts; Of the Mildew; Rescuer; Averter of Harm; Protector of Starngers, Foreigners
  • Ares: Beastly; Brutish; Of the Horses; Murderous; Manslaughtering; Slayer of Men; He Who Rallies Fighting Men; Stormer of Walls; Swift, Fleet 
  • Artemis:  Huntress; Of The Hunting Nets; Of the Laurel/Cedar/Walnut Tree; Of the Beasts/Deer/Wolves/White Birds; Of the Lake/Broad Plains/Wetlands; Friend of Young Girls; Helper of Childbirth; Leader of the Dance
  • Athena: War-Sustaining; Bridler of Horses; War-Trumpet; Defender; Of The Counsels; Worker; Contriver of Plans and Devices; The Deceiver; Born of the Head (of Zeus)
  • Demeter: Of the Earth; She Who Sends Forth Gifts; Giver of Wealth; Of the Furrows; Great Mother; Bringer of Law; Dark-Veiled; Dark Cloaked
  • Dionysus: Of the Bacchic Frenzy; Noisy, Boisterous; Mad, Raging; Of the Night; Of the Torches; Of the Feast; Giver of Increase; Of the Grape; Of the Wine-Press; Of the Phallus; Of Liberation, Of Freedom; Androgynous
  • Hades or Pluto: Of Wealth; Zeus of the Underworld; Receiver of the Dead; Savior of the Dead; Ruler of Many; Host of Many; Master of Dreams; God of Curses; Master of the Furies
  • Hephaestus: Renowned for Skills; Famed Worker; Of the many Crafts; Lame One; Of the Crooked Feet; The Sooty God; Bronze-Smith, Copper-Smith; Ingenious, Inventive
  • Hera: Girl, Virgin; Betrothed Bride; Married Woman; Widow; Midwife; Of Marriage; Of the Chariot; Of the Flowers; Whose hand is Above; Of the Heights; Pioneer; Goat-Eater; Queen of the Gods
  • Hermes: Keeper of the Flocks; Ram Bearer; Of the Market Place; Crafts, Wiles; Of the Crossroads; Of the Games; Interpreter, Translator; Guide, Minister, Messenger; Of the Golden Wand; Thief, Robber, Rustler; Deceiver, Dissembler; Trickster, Conniver; Wily, Shifty, Many-Turning; Glad-Hearted; Luck-Bringing; Keen-Sighted, Watchful
  • Hestia: Of the Hearth; Of the Councils; Of Many Prosperities; Eternal Virgin
  • Poseidon: Of the Horses; Earth-Shaker; Of the Waves; Savior of Sailors; Bull of the Sea; Averter of Earthquakes
  • Zeus: Of the Rain; Dark, Murky; Of the Thunderbolt; Furious, Raging, Boisterous; Of Fair Winds; Watcher of Sea Havens; King, Chief, Ruler; Of Hospitality; Of the Stranger; Punisher of Murderers; Puts to Flight, Defeats, Banishes
This latter approach encourages the players (and the GM) to be more creative in describing the actions of their characters, always a good thing with Risus.  I left out a numbe of other epithets, references to sacred attributes, and sacred places, all of which could fit into the relevant "quest".  Gods of other pantheons also such epithets, or you could make up your own for an original fantasy world.


thwaak said...

I agree 100%. Questing Dice are an awesome game mechanic with limitless potential to add flavor to a setting by refining their application beyond a character's personal quest (eg I must avenge my father!) to the world itself (eg Divine Assistance as outlined in your post).

I've found many players overlook QD. It's a shame.

Risus Monkey said...

Ooo, I love the divine epithets

Nick Brooke said...

Callipygean, man!