Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wondrous Equipment Wednesday - Rites of Marriage

Rites of Marriage

Most civilized cultures celebrate marriage as a way-marker on life’s journey. Ceremonies can be simple or elaborate, private or community events, sacred and chaste or lustily profane, depending on the whims of the culture. A handful of marriage rites draw upon the world’s ambient magic and upon the power of the gods themselves to bestow blessings upon the lovers.

Good Marriage Charms: Many clerics and even some druids and godly bards know the secrets of placing a deity’s blessing upon a mortal marriage. Blessing a marriage in this way requires a divine spell caster within one alignment step of both spouses to succeed at a DC 10 Knowledge (religion) check and perform an hour long ceremony, the types of which vary wildly among the various cultures and nations.

One of the most common human versions of this charm is celebrated as a long, complex dance, as the newly weds dance a wild, whirling pattern over the shattered pieces of cups, plates and gourds, tossed by their wedding guests.

By blessing the marriage in this way, both partners are enchanted to be more attentive to their partner’s needs and desires; both parties receive a +1 holy bonus on CHA based skills (except for Intimidate) used to influence their spouse.

Lusty Marriage Charms: Like good marriage charms, this simple ritual is designed to provide a divine blessing and ensure a content marriage. Blessing a marriage in this way requires only that a divine spell caster of compatible alignment succeed at a DC 11 Knowledge (religion) check and perform an hour long, often explicit ceremony.

Many humans and Elves celebrate this ritual by stripping the newly weds before the assembled guests. A cleric places intricate tattoos around the newlyweds’ genitals and bellies: humans tend to favor henna ink that quickly fades away, while Elves enjoy more permanent tattoos.

Fertility Charms: Most cultures have a variety of superstitions and magical rites to ensure a bountiful pregnancy, safe delivery and healthy childhood. Casting a fertility charm requires a DC 12 Knowledge (religion check) performed by a divine caster of compatible alignment.

Fertility charms often involve the creation of a tiny fertility idol or doll, which one or both parents carry or keep close at hand. Anointing the belly or genitals of a pregnant mother or would be father with oil, milk or holy water is also common, among all the races.

The ritual ensures that pregnancy occurs more often, when desired, and the resulting pregnancies are safe and relatively easy, and that children produced grow up healthy and strong. Some cultures have charms to ensure that sons or daughters are born, depending on what is preferred in that society.

Some charms allow parents to shape a child’s destiny. Performed during pregnancy or while the child is nursing, a charm can be placed upon the newborn, providing a permanent +1 holy bonus to one ability score, chosen by the parents when the charm is laid. This charm is designed to ensure the child’s future success.

Providing Charms: All parents wish to provide for their children, and ensure a comfortable life for their spouse. A divine caster of compatible alignment can attempt a DC 14 Knowledge (religion) check to ensure that this is so. Casting this charm requires the better part of afternoon- most ceremonies of this type last four to six hours.

Many races have imitated the Halfling charms for financial success. A small wooden sculpture is carved and blessed with a drop of blood from each member of the family. This statue represents the family’s business, or might symbolize a particular god and is kept near the entrance to the business, for luck. When this charm is laid, both spouses receive a +1 holy bonus on a single Profession check of choice, ensuring they earn enough money to take care of their families.

Most clergy perform these simple, joyous rituals for their faithful at no cost or for a pittance. Strangers might be charged up to 50 gp for a ceremony, while members of the local community can expect to pay much less- perhaps as little as a handful of coppers or some fruit from the field in poor communities.