Ceremony is Always Rite

James Mal has proposed an OD&D gameplay principle: D&D is always right. In other words, if you find an apparent contradiction or nonsensical rule, give it the benefit of the doubt and restructure your gameplay expectations to justify it. I think of this as similar to the fandom practice of creating explanations for apparent errors: for instance, if Star Wars is Always Right, you get to come up with a fun explanation for why the Millenium Falcon can do the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs.

This can be a fun practice, and often leads to interesting and quirky world details that make it seem like a living place.

Here’s another principle: Ceremony is Always Right.

Real old-time superstitions, rituals, and beliefs about magic should be a great source for worldbuilding quirkiness. Assume that any ceremony or ritual is not just ignorant superstition, but has a part in making the world the way it is.

I talked about funeral practices being necessary for speeding souls on their way. The same priests who do funerals probably do weddings too.

weddings in D&D

A wedding’s main function is for legitimizing heirs, right, for inheritance? Besides the legal penalties, what is the magical significance of being born out of wedlock?

I think medieval bastards were perceived as chaotic force. They have no claim on the lifestyle they’re born to. If they want to get anything, they need to upset the social order to get it, like Edmund in King Lear. What if bastard babies have a chance of being possessed by a demon, or being swapped for a changeling or something? A demon-possessed or changeling child will grow up with the goal of disrupting the family, either by seizing power or just killing everybody.

In ancient days, when demons ruled, demon spirits possessed maybe one in 10 children. The wedding ritual, which protects the children of a marriage, was one of the turning points in the war against the demons.

6 Responses to “Ceremony is Always Rite”

  1. Wyatt says:

    My campaign setting works upon mostly the same principle, in a way. The world is very highly religious, and religion is an important element of every single character that plays in it – I don’t let any player play without first deciding on some quirky prayers and rituals to be used. However, the rituals are only one way of doing things, since in my setting I make a note that the secular (evil) factions do manage to make the ancient artifacts work without having to chant and douse them in holy water and burn incense and eat special bread.

    I like the idea of the wedding ritual! I should take the time to write an article myself on the rituals in my setting and their purposes.

  2. eL_sTiKo says:

    Don’t you mean “Ceremony is Always Rite”?

  3. paul paul says:

    Wyatt, I’d like to see your takes on some of the other rituals, since i enjoy stealing others’ work.

    @el stiko: I am ashamed, truly ashamed, that I didn’t do that initially. Updating now.

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by RPG Bloggers Network, RPG Bloggers Network. RPG Bloggers Network said: Ceremony is Always Right from Blog of Holding http://goo.gl/fb/zMrSy #RPG […]

  5. […] mentioned before that in a D&D world, where magic works, we should trust ceremony. One ceremony I haven't […]

  6. […] in D&D, superstition is always right, then cultural taboos are to be doubly respected. Many of the magical ills in the D&D universe […]

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