Gifts of the Gods is the theme for this month's RPG Blog Carnival kindly hosted by the Sea of Stars RPG Design Journal.
Reading about the idea of gifting player characters with a powerful item, with a specific purpose by a god or pantheon of gods is an interesting concept to a player who spent most of his adventuring days in the dark, misty setting of Ravenloft.
Indeed, in such a realm, filled with darkness and danger, everything was looked upon with suspicion. This would include any item gifted by the gods, or worse, any wish granted(we do not need to go into the horrors of wish-making in the land of Ravenloft, at least not in this post). Often gifts would be given by the pseudo-demigods that ruled each duchy. Gifts that would allow the adventuring group to travel the mists from duchy to duchy, in order for the local legend to acquire something beyond its ability.
In this way, the characters have far more power than a typical person in the realm, but are not so mighty as to cause chaos. Other times, rare light would shine upon a character, allowing for a ray of good to part the mists.
The orc stood, holding his hostage in one hand, a wickedly curved dagger in the other.
"Don't move, or I'll cut her throat", he snarled.
The group stood still, unsure of what to do. Finally, the elf stepped forward.
"If you touch her, you will die", he stated menacingly.
"So will she. We are leaving", the orc replied.
The companions were in an untenable situation. They could not let the orc leave, as it was carrying the item they needed to return to the local lord. Without it, they would be hunted down as thieves. Yet, they also could not let an innocent die. The group had long been determined to bring the sun back to this dark, cold land.
Finally, the elf made his move, stepping forward and quickly striking at the orc, hoping it would drop the woman in order to defend itself. The move backfired, and the woman slumped to the ground in a bloody mess. The adventurers moved in and overwhelmed the hapless orc, before turning back to the woman.
"There is nothing we can do, she is dead", the priest declared.
"Yes, there is", the elf contested.
Slowly he drew the rose out of his pack. Made of some kind of crystal, it was a thing of incredible beauty in an ugly world. At the top of the rose, there were places for five petals, but only one remained. The warrior lifted it up and whispered the name of the fallen woman. The rose shone with a bright, beautiful light, and the final petal fell.
Nearby, the woman gasped, life filling her once again.
It was quite a scene, one that would land the small group a not insignificant amount of fame of fortune. Such an act of kindness was virtually unknown in that land, and it would inspire the local population, giving them, for at least a short time, something impossible to find: hope.
So you can gift your players powerful gifts with limited charges, and see how they choose to use their newfound power. Fame? Fortune? Infamy? Interesting stories and new plot twists will undoubtedly happen should you decide to find out.
Indeed, sometimes it is fun to give the characters something powerful and see what they do with it. Of course, the turns that result are likely to be darker in Ravenloft.