Rash Vows and Mighty Oaths.

I’ve been rereading about the heroes of ancient Hellas (that’s Greece to us), and they are always swearing rash vows and making mighty oaths. I was thinking that might make an interesting game mechanic. John Harper’s Agon addresses oaths in the same context- heroes can swear generic oaths to one another for aid during battle or favors in the course of an adventure; but they are just that- favors, not the kind of oaths the stories tell of. They aren’t even specific, really- just a numerical tag showing how many times hero A can force hero B to help them. Which is ok, but not exactly mythic. I’m more interested in the kind of oaths that changed the course of men’s lives. If Aeschylus steps aside so Pelleus can deal the final blow to the bronze-tusked Boar of Aethiops, I doubt the gods are going to sit up and take notice. But they might have when Pelleus swore to his uncle, the king of Pyrae, that he would bring back the tusks to prove his right to rule, or die in the attempt. That, my friend, is an oath.

Not that there can’t be lesser and greater oaths, to be sure.

Anyway, I’m wondering about a setting in which Oaths are sacred, where the fabric of reality is woven with them, where swearing an oath marks you until you have fulfilled it; and where breaking an oath marks you forever.

Also, I’m thinking of how it might work mechanically. I think when you ask for aid from someone, they may require an oath from you… sort of like the mob.  Swearing oaths gives you power, too- or rather, those whom you swear oaths to give you power. But they also hold you in thrall until you have fulfilled the oath. Swearing to someone should never be done casually or rashly (except, of course, that rash oaths are the ones that make the best stories, right?) Swearing to a god is obviously going to give you some heavy mojo- but the oaths required by the gods are never petty. I’m not sure if what you gain in exchange for an oath should be one universal thing, or just whatever thing of value you negotiate with the person. Are oaths a sort of spiritual currency, maybe? If I swear to serve Gaellas the merchant lord for a year and a day, does he pay me with an oath to ferry me across the Sea of Celephos to the island of my birth? (Or vice versa, I suppose). If I swear to climb Mount Syra and bring one of the eternal blooms from its summit back to burn as an offering in the temple of Akkarshamon the Pale, will he give me the power to turn my enemy’s blood to acid in his veins?

Alternatively (and more simply), I was thinking about a basic dice economy, where everyone has, say, 10d10 in their dice pool to start with. Whenever they are rolling, they get to roll them all. When you swear an oath to someone, they give you some of their dice until you complete it; giving you more power. Maybe when you complete the oath, they get back all but one of them, and you keep one. I guess the only way they’d get more themselves is to swear their own oaths.

I’m not at all certain how, or even if, that would work out. I only thought of it in the shower, and I’m kind of thinking out loud about it now. I’m not sure if it should be a zero-sum economy, or if there should be a way to grow it (like, when you complete an oath, you give all the dice back, and also get one more yourself). Not sure if that would lead to inflation, though. I’m also wondering why anyone would want to give their dice to someone else, except I guess if they needed them to do something they couldn’t do themselves. Which means there’d need to be things that some people could do that others couldn’t… hm. Things always get so complicated once they move out of my head and onto paper. Or aether, in this case.

Perhaps I shall think about it more later. Hopefully it won’t keep me awake all night >_<

Hm. I wonder if there should be a difference between “rash vows” and “mighty oaths”… hm…

Crap. It is gonna keep me up all night. Son of a Gorgon X_x


~ by oberon the fool on January 13, 2009.

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