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Smoke Lodge Spirit Quest
Many barbarian cultures embark upon spirit or vision quests in times of need to find guidance and wisdom for a course of action.
Preparation for the Quest
In order for a barbarian to attempt a spirit quest, he must strengthen both his resolve and his body, by anointing himself in precious oils and herbs and by cleansing himself of impure thoughts. To do this, he must abstain from eating for one full week and drinking for a full day before entering the smoke lodge. Once inside, he must anoint himself in a sacred solution with ingredients costing a total of 100 gold pieces.
After these preparations are complete, the barbarian must worship to the point of exhaustion through dancing, chanting, clashing his sword on his shield and other, similar things. To aid warriors in becoming exhausted, the smoke lodge is always kept hot, usually at just above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that a barbarian preparing himself for the spirit quest must attempt a Fortitude save every hour (DC 15 + 1 for each previous check) or become fatigued. Once he is fatigued, he must push himself to exhaustion, by failing another check. A barbarian cannot voluntarily fail a check to speed the preparations, as that is considered a sign of weakness.
When the barbarian becomes exhausted, he collapses in the smoke lodge and his spirit begins its quest. A barbarian can attempt a maximum of one spirit quest each month, whether the quest was successful or not. The quests a barbarian can embark on are described below.
The rules are intended for use in campaigns where the details of the quest the barbarian undertakes are less important than the results of that quest. This means they are perfect for those games where the Players and Games Master prefer to keep the action flowing from one scene to another. In a campaign oriented around tribes, or in one where interaction with the spirit world is important, such as when the campaign is intended to invoke more mythic themes, entire adventures can revolve around a spirit quest. In order to involve all the Players in the quest, so that they do not have to sit there bored as the barbarian’s Player has all the fun, the following options are suggested.
- Companion spirits: When the barbarian enters a spirit quest, he can bring his close friends with him. There are two ways to represent this in the campaign. First, the barbarian and his allies can enter the smoke lodge together, following all the steps necessary to enter a spirit quest and doing so when the last succumbs to exhaustion. Alternately, the Games Master can rule that when the barbarian enters the quest alone, his spirit conjures up phantom representatives of those closest to him; in this way, the other characters can participate, though they are not technically there.
- In a campaign where spirit quests are to play an important role, they should be turned into entire, wilderness-themed adventures, with the party engaged in combat or challenged to use their skills. During such a spirit quest adventure, the characters should gain experience points as normal but should not gain permanent treasures of any sort. If the Games Master wishes to reward the successful completion of a spirit quest with gold or magic items, then the party gains knowledge of the location of one or more such treasures upon awakening from the quest.