Sunday, August 8, 2010

Superstitious Dungeoneers

Among many of the more dangerous professions, such as those of sailors and soldiers, a number of superstitious beliefs are traditionally held. Dungeoneers and their employees have long held their own superstitions too. While some PCs discount these as they gain experience, hirelings seldom do - and it’s no wonder, as they often die or get out of the business while the getting is good. Once in a blue moon, a hardy old porter can be found who knows many if not all of the local superstitions and takes care to heed them. Wise dungeoneers would do well to carefully observe and listen to these characters, for there may be a grain of truth to what they know - enough to save a life. On the other hand, the memories of such elders are not always what they once were.

Dungeoneering superstitions vary greatly by region. Attentive players may find it interesting and valuable to compare those from one locale to another with the hope of ascertaining which might be more worth observing. In our game, certain superstitions may have an actual logical (and worthwhile) explanation behind them, and some will not. These latter beliefs may still be worth noting though - simple “bad luck” may translate into dice rolling penalties or worse!

Below is a table with some examples of dungeoneers’ superstitions.

d30: What the Old Codger Said…


1. Tying an onion onto one’s belt can help keep away skeletons. Not just any onion though, a yellow onion.
2. Rolling dice in a dungeon is very bad luck.
3. A dungeon exploration should never begin on _____ (day of the week - depends on local deity.)
4. If a chicken crosses your path on the way to a dungeon, there is a coward in the party who will desert it at a bad time.
5. A dungeon entrance should always be exited by walking backwards (or was it the other way around?)
6. Spoiled rations indicate poison ahead.
7. It’s very bad luck to kill baby kobolds (or goblins, orcs, etc. - probably explains a lot)
8. A torch that touches the ground means someone will be injured or killed soon.
9. A bell heard underground is, well, not good.
10. At least one coin should always be left behind when treasure is recovered.
11. If you see a bat you should change your weapon.
12. If a spell book gets wet and it wasn’t your fault, it’s bad luck.
13. Dwarves should never use bows.
14. Halflings should never use maces or hammers.
15. You can’t get laid with a halfling in the party.
16. Halflings are bad luck.
17. Eating a raw egg underground is good luck.
18. Smoking underground is unhealthy.
19. Re-using iron spikes in a dungeon is asking for trouble.
20. It’s a bad idea to sleep next to a cleric.
21. If your cheeks or ears suddenly feel on fire, it’s because someone is casting a spell on you.
22. If someone’s head gets chopped off near you, you should kick it far away lest you suffer the same fate.
23. It’s good luck to bring a mirror with you underground. It’s unlucky to find one there.
24. It’s good luck if it’s raining when you enter a cave.
25. Knock three times on a shield after discussing someone’s death.
26. One should always have two daggers. One for shaving, and one for killing. Never mix the two.
27. Sixteen of anything is a good thing.
28. …Except copper pieces.
29. Always tie a few knots beforehand in any rope you bring with you into a dungeon.
30. Never say the following words underground: pig, orc, deep, or help.

8 comments:

The Bane said...

Addendum to #15...

Unless it be with said Halfling, of course.

This is great stuff. Thanks for sharing.

TB

Kilsern said...

Very cool. I'm linking to this.

Trey said...

Great idea! Of course delvers would have superstitions like that...and given a magical world, some of them might even be true.

Risus Monkey said...

Wonderful. I'm socking this list away for future use.

Stuart said...

Love it - I've got this bookmarked as well. :)

Cole said...

It's tempting to make it "eighteen of anything is a good thing."

David said...

This is perfect for henchmen and hirelings... It's instant character!

strangestones said...

I'm a few days late to the party, but I wanted to chime in with praise as well. I dig the heck out of this, ZB! Especially in the context of henchmen and hirelings as David noted above.

"Um, boss?"
"What is it, Hireling #3?"
"You're... you're not pulling up those spikes to reuse them, are you?"
"Why do you ask?"
"Well, I mean, everyone knows that's bad lu..."
(arrow through the heart)

Post a Comment