Sunday, January 19, 2014

What are the Lost Hymns?

+Adam Muszkiewicz first came up with the idea of the Lost Hymns. I've used them as a play element in my Last Dance of the Disco Lord adventure I ran (and posted) in December. But have you ever thought would it would mean for a cleric, particularly.

We are adherents of the Metal Gods (mostly) in the Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad campaign. Also, to make clear, "Metal Gods" refers the deities, not the PCs or the players (though we try every day in every way to reach ascension). So, think of every heavy metal song. Every one. It has music, and most have lyrics. Those lyrics are sometimes stories, sometimes nonsense, sometimes an anthem to a person, place, or thing, and somtimes to a lifestyle or ideal. These songs are sometimes cryptic, and sometimes explicit. They form a somewhat nebulous body of the Metal Gods' wisdom. The borders between what is truly holy and what is not, are not clearly drawn. There is always dispute about that fact, a quite durable state of affairs, at this point, and not much likely to change. In fact, what some call "metal" may be seen as "not metal" by particularly vehement, orthodox worshippers of the Metal Gods.

This body of knowledge is unevenly shared, even among worshippers. There are always new ones to learn, and even the greatest of the Metal Gods' clergy do not know them all.

However, these hymns are not the basis for divine spells or other effects. They simply are wisdom, and provide a sense of perspective, values, and a variety of orientations to the world and one's place in it. They allow you to figure out what kind of cleric you might have. Or better yet, the kind of cleric you have should tell you which of the hymns are most sacred. It's just a simple way to get into character. If you like pirate metal, for example (e.g., Alestorm), as I find I do (did not know this about myself, and am a bit surprised to tell the truth).

Here's an example:

It's got pirates versus vikings. Fun!

With lyrics like this, it's pretty easy to see why that sort of cleric would make a pretty decent adventurer:
Back trough time, to fight the viking foe! Back trough time, where our voyage must now go! Six hundred years into the the past, Our desitny is here at last! For infamy and plunder we will ride!
The Lost Hymns, though, can only be learned from one of the Metal Gods pantheon. These are the Great Ones, the Avatars of Metal, gods like Lemm, Robhal, and Iod.  Learning the Lost Hymns these gods can reveal requires particularly avid devotion, and are granted only in great need for pursuits important to the gods, themselves. Typically, access to the Lost Hymns requires that the cleric call upon that particular Great One, by beseeching Divine Aid, as per the DCC RPG rules:
To request divine aid, the cleric makes a spell check at the same modifier that would apply were he casting a spell. This extraordinary act imparts a cumulative +10 penalty to future disapproval range. Based on the result of the spell check, the judge will describe the result. Simple requests (e.g., light a candle) are DC 10 and extraordinary requests (e.g., summon and control a living column of flame) are DC 18 or higher. (p. 31)
It's also important to recognize that such a petition for aid must be extraordinary, and that frivolous petition for access to the Lost Hymns may have dire consequences (e.g, in the form of penance of some kind, a divine smiting about, etc.).

Success in beseeching divine aid means that the cleric has access to a Lost Hymn. It's up to the Judge and the player to figure out what happens. There's only one real requirement I'd impose (as a Judge) beyond the good roll: As a player, you should have a lyric in mind that will serve as the basis for the effect you hope to achieve.

In fact, it might be neat to have clerics of the Metal Gods rename their particular, known spells based on a lyric that suggests the spell effect. Since my cleric still lives, I'll have to ponder that for a while, to come up with particulars. One could even limit spells one can learn, based on what's "canon" for the particular sect of Metal to which the cleric adheres.

Anyway, not necessarily relevant outside of the Metal Gods campaign, it at least illustrates how to use even the simplest "literary" sources as inspiration for character-building and roleplaying.