Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Designing Holy Drugs

The lot of the practitioner is one of someone who masters the art of gigre, a holy drug that imparts certain behavioral commandments for its use. But other people can and do use holy drugs, or else their semi-magical relatives such as wine, opium, or absinthe.

Unlike the paladin, a practitioner is held to the standards of a commandment only for as long as they take them. It is possible to break a commandment, but to do so makes you Unclean; you cannot benefit from chemic or divine magic and if something bad happens, it happens to you. Some commandments proscribe mortal sins. These are harder to wipe away.

I do my best to pepper the occasional gigre (or gigre recipe) in every dungeon, since it can be used by practitioners and non-practitioners alike.  The guidelines I've hewn to are that there should be at least one commandment that compels you to take actions and at least one that forbids you from taking certain actions. The better the power imparted by the gigre, the heavier the burden of the commandments should be and the more likely that gigre should carry a mortal sin. It's also important to remember that these commandments should be relevant to whatever your game is about. A vow of abstinence is much less of a sacrifice in a dungeon delve than it is for many people in normal life.

To facilitate quick gigre creation, I've heavily borrowed from taboos listed in Stith Thompson's Motif-Index of Folk-Literature to create a list of example commandments, mortal sins, and prompts for gigre powers. In a hurry, you can just roll once on each table and apply some imagination to figure out the drug's name and purpose. I would recommend curating it so that the commandments are commensurate with the power.

 d20/20/20/10 Random Gigre

d20 Compelling Commandments
  1. Must answer questions honestly
  2. Must give thanks upon encountering water/fire
  3. Must boast
  4. Must touch everyone before speaking to them
  5. Must be sexually active
  6. Must eat some of everyone you kill
  7. Must count things compulsively
  8. Must steal when able
  9. Must make sacrifices after victories
  10. Must be silent on the sabbath
  11. Must attack the followers of a certain god
  12. Must pay homage to artists/priests/singers/artisans
  13. Must travel by starlight
  14. Must kill any birds/insects
  15. Must accept wagers
  16. Must daily drink saltwater/alcohol/poison
  17. Must mark yourself with blood/symbols/tattoos
  18. Must consume the heart/brain of a person weekly
  19. Must keep secrets
  20. Must sleep indoors
d20 Forbidding Commandments
  1. Cannot harm someone on sacred ground
  2. Cannot wear leather
  3. Cannot see someone naked
  4. Cannot offend a child
  5. Cannot have bread/meat/alcohol
  6. Cannot sleep indoors
  7. Cannot touch the dead
  8. Cannot touch supernatural creatures
  9. Cannot ask questions
  10. Cannot reveal gigre use
  11. Cannot speak to peasants/nobility/soldiers/priests
  12. Cannot use metal weapons or armor
  13. Cannot cross running water except at its source
  14. Cannot look at holy objects
  15. Cannot lie
  16. Cannot disobey men/women/laws/promises
  17. Cannot harm the followers of a certain god
  18. Cannot glimpse the moon
  19. Cannot ignore pleas for aid
  20. Cannot be suspicious of others

d20 Random Mortal Sin
  1. Wrath
  2. Gluttony
  3. Avarice
  4. Pride
  5. Envy
  6. Betrayal
  7. Malice
  8. Submission
  9. Vandalism
  10. Accepting destiny
  11. Chastity
  12. Temperance
  13. Charity
  14. Diligence
  15. Patience
  16. Kindness
  17. Vainglory
  18. Attachment
  19. Blasphemy
  20. Wealth
d10 Random Ability
  1. Naming a certain animal summons it.
  2. Incite love/hate/curiosity
  3. Cast a certain spell
  4. Smell a certain substance/magic/animal/type of person
  5. “Warp spasm” increases strength/speed/insight
  6. C0mmune with stone/plants/animals/the dead
  7. multiply/summon/refine items/coins/plants/fire/food
  8. prophecy/augury/divination
  9. Create a mask or tool from a cadaver/donor/portrait
  10. Stave off/inflict a certain illness
So say we rolled a 9, a 19, a 10, and a 2:
  • Gigre of the Hearth: Must make sacrifices after a significant victory. Cannot ignore pleas for aid. Accepting destiny is a mortal sin. You can entice someone to share something with you.


  1. Holy drugs are such an interesting idea. I've been pondering it as well.

    I have a similar list of forbiddances. I'll see if I can find it.

    1. Please do. I'd love to see where we converge and diverge.