Borderlands/Sacrifice magic

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The gods (Olympian, Cthonic, and worldly) expect sacrifices and can clearly be influenced (or outright bribed) by offerings. However there are rules about how to conduct appropriate sacrifices and minimum standards to be met.

Last Ditch

When using the options from the Last Ditch box from DF2 page 15, sacrificial offerings are always appropriate.

Seeking Guidance

The most obvious role for sacrifice in Seeking Guidance is using the Divination (Extispicy) spell. Other appropriate forms of Divination include Augery, Gastromancy, and Lecanomancy.


Generally the point where a delver is frantically praying for help is usually NOT the point where he's able to offer an immediate sacrifice (eg, when falling off a cliff). See Pass the Plate for offers in thanks after the fact.

A delver may also promise generous sacrifices later in exchange for help now. Look up the value of the promised sacrifice divided by 1000 as Yards on the Size and Speed/Range Table, and read back to the Size column to find the bonus on the Praying IQ, Meditation, or Theology roll. Example: A promise of $3,000 worth of flawless white cattle would be divided by 1000 to produce 3 yards. 3 yards is a +1. This is cumulative with the bonus for spending character points.

The delver should sincerely intend to deliver the promised sacrifices upon returning to civilization to receive the bonus! Failure to deliver will result in the delver temporarily loosing all levels of the Luck advantage and gaining Unluckiness until the sacrifice is finally made. Already Unlucky delvers will be immediately downgraded to Cursed, and should probably not go out in thunderstorms.

Altars and Shrines

A shrine sanctified in this manner is the minimum requirement for powering a spell via Burnt Offerings

Pass the Plate

Temple donations in thanks can take the form of an object suitable for offering rather than a cash donation.

Burnt Offerings

Clerical spells cast at a sanctified altar or shrine may be powered partially or totally by appropriate sacrificial offerings, ritually burned at the altar. These spells must be cast ceremonially, and require an additional Religious Ritual roll to ensure the sacrifice is performed correctly. Failure on the Religious Ritual roll ruins the offering for the purpose of sacrifice, and destroys 1d×10% of it's dollar value, while success produces an amount of energy for a single, immediate spell-casting effort.

In the event of a Religious Ritual failure the caster may abort the spell half way through the casting time, or may continue it to completion and pay the full energy cost normally (which can include spending HP...)

Object Offerings

Valuable objects may be sacrificed - food, spices, fine fabrics, and works of art may all be sacrificed.

Correctly identifying objects before sacrifice can be critically important - if the sacrifice is successful but the object is less valuable or appropriate than was estimated, the Cleric will be required to make up the remaining energy, even spending out of HP as a last resort!

Burnt Object Offerings provide a base of 1 energy per $250 of actual market value sacrificed, modified as per the sections below.


Fine quality and Ornate items provide energy beyond that indicated by raw value, while Cheap quality and damaged goods provide less - the gods like to receive rare or attractive things, not big piles of junk.

  • Anything Ornate enough to qualify for a +1 to reactions doubles the provided energy.
  • Fine tools and weapons and anything Ornate enough to qualify for a +2 to reactions multiplies the provided energy by 5. The Fine Material embellishment from DF Treasure Tables counts as "Fine" rather than Ornate.
  • Very Fine tools and weapons and anything Ornate enough to qualify for a +3 to reactions multiplies the provided energy by 10. The Exceptional Material embellishment from DF Treasure Tables counts as "Very Fine" rather than Ornate.
  • Cheap tools and weapons halve the provided energy.
  • Damaged goods reduce or remove the Ornate quality, as per the Cosmetic Damage rule from DF8 page 54. In addition, an item damaged to 1/2 HP divides the provided energy by 2, and an item damaged to 0 HP or less divides the provided energy by 5.
  • Items that are Cheap or Damaged goods without a "positive" value modifier like Ornate or Fine to compensate may be subject to rejection by the Gods and may even result in a Curse instead of a gift of divine energy. A Theology roll may be used to determine if the sacrifice is acceptable in questionable cases.

These modifiers follow normal mathematical rules; note that Very Fine does not "stack" with Fine (an object is either Fine or Very Fine, not both) and similarly Ornate +1 is already included in Ornate +2 and Ornate +3.


Symbolically appropriate sacrifices multiply the base value before counting quality modifiers. Symbolic appropriateness can be determined with a Theology roll.

  • provide examples of symbolic appropriateness ranging from ×2 to ×5 value.


  • 1.25 ounce of Cinnamon is worth $187.50, and is normally not enough to provide a significant amount of energy towards spell-casting. Aphrodisiacs are symbolically appropriate to Aphrodite, however and the GM rules they provide triple value to a cleric of the Love goddess, or $562.50, for 2 energy.
  • A Regular Robe made from wool and dyed brilliant purple with Murex shells (an Expensive Dye). It is worth $576; because it is effectively Ornate +2, it provides 5 energy per $250 of value, or 10 energy.
  • An ornamental Thrusting Broadsword plated with gold is Cheap but Gilded. It is worth $11,640; because it is Cheap and Ornate +3, it provides 5 energy per $250 of value, or 230 energy. If it hadn't been Cheap, it would have been worth $12,000 and provided 480 energy! Of course, you have to figure out how to burn it...
  • A ton of broken dungeon doors, goblin beds, cheap torch sconces, and bent portcullises turns out to technically be worth $750 as scrap. A quick Theology check reminds the Cleric that while Zeus has many titles, "Zeus the Trash Collector" isn't one of them, and perhaps they should skip this particular "offering"...