Never Cross That Bridge!

Never cross that bridge!

Toss a silver coin overboard before setting off on your journey to ensure safe travel, never cross a bridge when travelling by foot, always feed the campfire a sprig of chamomile to let it sleep peacefully or it may wake up and bite you.

Have you encountered some particularly strange superstitions in your roleplaying adventures, or better yet, been the one to bring the superstitions to the table? Adding some superstition to a game, either as a player or a DM, can lead to some very entertaining roleplay. On top of that, the little rituals or beliefs that come from those superstitions can help flesh out the world and highlight the cultural differences between different types of folk. Adding to that the fun of watching the party accidentally commit a superstitious faux pas and puzzle out why the sweet old lady they had been speaking to suddenly has her hands over her ears and is screaming rhymes into an upside-down mahogany bowl, these superstitions will be unforgettable – knock on wood.

As always, real life inspiration can be used to help you come up with some unique superstitions of you own. Try digging into the superstitions of various cultures to find little quirks that fit your character. Do you swap your left and right hand weapons periodically so they don’t grow jealous of each other? Do you tie the shoelaces of your unworn shoes when you go to sleep so as to ward off any fey who might mistake the shoes as discarded and take them to the Feywild? Do you leave a food offering in any graveyard you see to distract the spirits so they won’t follow you home? Maybe you shield your eyes from elves so they cannot charm you, or always tie three knots in any length of rope over someone who is ill, to strengthen their connection to the living world.

Once you have your little rituals to counteract the bad luck, remember that not doing them should have consequences. They don’t need to be magical or divine consequences but could be as simple as having your character be nervous or jumpy, always expecting the bad luck to get them until they can perform whatever ritual they need to do to satisfy their superstition. Maybe your party member accepted a copper coin from a traveller and now you need to get rid of all your copper coins or you will have bad luck financially. Maybe you had to cut a length of rope while climbing and now need to have the rope burned and a new one woven in its place. It could be that you forgot to pay respects at a shrine and now you firmly believe that you will suffer difficulties in your love life until you find a shrine and say a prayer. Of course, because you are expecting bad things to happen you will point out any failures until your party is as superstitious as you are. The same goes for expecting good luck to come your way.

Whatever the case may be, always remember that superstitions should add to the roleplay, not get in the way of it. Don’t let your chosen superstition get in the way of working with your party or helping in combat. Perform your rituals when appropriate, break your superstitions when needed and revel in the chaos when the entire party suddenly joins you in washing their hands in boar bile because your bowstring snapped during your last fight.

– Teddy

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