Finely etched with symbols of the local deity of agriculture (the original version depicted Gemionn and his wife Alenia), the bowl is most often made of wood or clay, never of stone or metal. It is typically made to keep 1 Pildun (an old unit of volume, about 1.2 liter) or 2, very rarely 5 Pilduns.
It has always been so, that a priest lived with the people, through their good days and bad days, helping with the blessings and wisdom. The people in turn, they helped the priest to make a living. Tradition commands to give at least a single fruit of each tree to the temple at harvest.
Another custom is the Autumn Sharing: giving the tenth part of grain that shall be planted next year. The priest(s) will have a store to come through the winter, and to share it with the less lucky. While most people are surely honest, a coming winter can make even the best man nervous, reluctant to part with the hardly earned fruits of labour... and some really 'underestimate' their future need, making a priest's life harder.
It is unknown, who had the first idea, but granted, all followers of Gemionn are friendly and practical people, unwilling to force others to their faith. And so they found a different way to reward the faithful, and punish (albeit indirectly) the less virtuous.
The bowl must be blessed to work. Many beginning priests bless it in larger temples, or inherit it from an old priest.
The bowl's only purpose is the measuring of grain, usually taking on the form of a small ritual (in fact, it is one). When done so by the priest and the farmer, words of tradition are spoken, rhymes and vows pronounced, and blessings offered, words differing from village to village but similar in purpose everywhere.
If both the grain's owner and the priest concentrate in their well-meaning, they cast a blessing on the grain, protecting it over winter from rot and spoiling, and helping it to grow in spring. And while the overall effect is not dramatic, it clearly shows over the years, that it pays to be honest to the priest... which is as it should be.
Part of one such a rhyme:
Through winter meek,
the spring you seek,
then sleep you bind,
till earth you find.
Start to grow,
as you greet the plow,
From our strain,
shall grow the grain.
From earthy bed,
will come the bread,
then we come near,
to the next year.
Note: many of these bowls are used by a priest lifelong, and are then inherited to another priest. After many blessings and uses uncounted, they grow into true magic items, and could provide weaker blessings on the grain even without a priest. For many a village is its Bowl a real treasure, though it is not always recognized.
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? Responses (16)
Woo! First vote!
Myself, I like the tone. It's not a save-the-world item, but it's a little thing - a metaphorical stone in the enormous castle of a good game world. Just another brick in the wall.
Useful for the next time the PCs really, really need to find out how much grain they've got in a sack - in Pilduns... ;)
I like the concept, but honestly, this sort of thing falls into the 'behind the scenes' stuff that rarely comes up in our game. 3/5 for a nice story.
Aaah, Monument, the antagonism you have for setting pieces. *shakes head*
Well, I like this item, and I can definitely find a use for it, simply as something to be mentioned. Perhaps the players must infiltrate the corrupted temple of Shin, the Moon God, whose sacred plant is grain. Upon the smashed and cracked altar, which weeps blood supernaturally, the players discover the blackened Pildun bowl, containing a still-beating heart.
Or say that they are congratulated by the very same Moon God's priests in a holy ceremony, in which they are blessed by a pouring of grain upon their heads from a Pildun bowl?
Or say that a Pildun bowl is found among a meagre(sp?) stash of treasure. If one of them is knowledgeable of it, it could certainly be valuable to return it to the temple it was stolen from. Or if they simply carry it around, use it as a drinking bowl because they like it so much, and then they are spotted one day by a pious grain-god-worshipper or Shinnite, who demands their head for the insult the level against the god?
In any case, I find this item to be pretty interesting, and with a little special application, it could be useful, even just as a nice bit of scenery.
It is the kind of item that adds color and depth to a world. It is a badge of office for the local parish priest, so you might know who is really in charge in an area if you see one of these. Not every item has to add to tactical effectiveness. This item is clear, functional, and something you might find after bandits/ monsters attack and carry of priests and pilgrims.
It is part of the 7/8ths of the world that the GM/ author knows and the player/ reader never consciously know about.
Bonus points for Captian creating an evil agricultural religion. You don't want to know what (or who) is their manure from. :)
And a ceremonial pouring of grain is also a nice touch... shall be implemented.
Well, Shin is not specifically evil, per se, but he does require blood to be mixed with his sacrifices of grain... But that's neither here nor there. ;)
Yes, it's a background item - but on the whole I LIKE background items - they make the game world "real".
Even taking into account the above mentioned prejudice on the matter, this one is very good indeed. There is a very good, even vital, reason for creating these (without bread even the Mighty Munchkin must fade and die) and a logical reason for their existence.
Great item - 5/5
BTW - There is a depressing tendency amongst some people (mentioning no names - you know who you are) to assign labels like "good" and "evil" to everything. Let me make this perfectly clear - there is no "absolute good", similarly there is no "absolute evil".
Good and evil are relative terms, measured against the traditions, morals, and religious conventions of society. Without a deep understanding of these conventions, good and evil are meaningless terms.
So, just because something requires a blood sacrifice to work does not necessarily make it evil. It all depends on what is normal and acceptable within that society.
chalk up another 'lover of background items'!
BUMP! a worthy bowl
choke... choke.. cough.. when I first read that comment, I thought it said 'worthy bowel'. Okay I am better now.
a worthy bowel indeed! HAHAHAHAHA
Well it is appropriate, as "fiber" in the form of grain consummed... moving.. well you get the idea.
Yes that is a silly joke, but really this is just a less shameless bump.
Updated: Added a little folkish rhyme that could be spoken during the ritual.
Updated: Thanks for the bump; added a little on the use of the grain, and a Stub on the priesthood itself.
I'm stealing this. Hope you don't mind.
The first thing I thought of after reading it was Temple of Doom, how the whole thing started because someone stole the sacred rock. I can imagine my PCs coming into a village and being asked by the elders to retrieve their bowl, which can either be a quest in itself or lead to something bigger (a la Indy and Short Round).
If the bring the bowl back, I will make sure to include the pouring of grain upon their heads.