Prayer in tabletop games is a tough thing to grapple with. On the one hand, you don’t want deities to intervene at every whispered request and completely do away with challenge. But on the other hand, you want to reward religious characters for abilities and effort spent in gaining favor with their deity.
In Mind Weave, this is particularly important because at level 1, a level in Prayer versus another spell casting level is the primary difference between a Cleric and a Magic-user. Now, Prayer is only a minor ability, so that seems like kind of a rip off, but a Cleric can easily have a backstory that assumes good favor with a deity, and in making the rules I assume that will count for something. But rather than talk about how these classes compare over time, I want to focus on how prayer works in Mind Weave, and why a level in Prayer and good favor with a deity is about even with a second spell casting level.
So here’s how prayer works in Mind Weave. Levels in prayer represent the character’s knowledge of proper prayer language and manners for the relevant deity. When a character prays, this knowledge manifests itself as shifts in probability away from punishment and ignoring, and toward granting the request.
When a character prays to make a request, the GM determines if the request is within the deity’s power to grant. If it is, he then assigns the probabilities of punishing, ignoring, and granting the request based on
- how much effort it would require from the deity
- the character’s standing with the deity
- the character’s need of the aide
- the deity’s personality
- how closely the request aligns with the deity’s goals
- and of course, whether it would break the game.
This allows the GM to guarantee that small requests like “which way should we go?” of a deity that would know be answered every time. While outrageous requests like “solve this puzzle for me,” of Korgaran, for example, could be made almost certain to be ignored, or even punished for it’s presumption. More middling requests, like “Vanias, cause this tree to bloom and bear fruit that we might eat” could succeed or fail on the probability roll and be greatly influenced by the character’s level in Prayer.
It also means that a character with many levels in Prayer has more license to push the edges of the deity’s patience or pray to deities he has never worshiped. As long as his prayers are not preposterous and do not break the game, he is much more likely to receive aide, making him an asset to the party.
What do you think of this prayer mechanic? Would you play a character with focus on prayer abilities? How would you handle a character like this as a GM? Please let us know in the comments below.