Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Level One Spells: Bless

Excerpted from Leveling Up: So You Want to Be A Christian Cleric, by Rev. J. Gary Gygax

One of the first - and one of the most essential - spells you'll be learning as a Christian Cleric is Bless.

This spell is one that can and should be cast by every level of Christian.  When you hear folks talk about the "Cleric-hood of All Believers," they're not kidding.

Meaning, as soon as you've decided to follow the Way taught by our Master, you need to get Bless under your belt.

Bless is a remarkably straightforward spell to cast, requiring only the capacity for self-expression and a connection with the Nature of the Deity.  Holy water had been traditionally used, but as it tends to short out people's cell phones, we've found it rather less helpful in the technological era.

As with most verbal spells, it primarily requires command of posture, tone, and language.  It can be also be effectively cast via written and social media, and even conveyed by nonverbal actions.

Using tone, posture, and language, you cast Bless by pouring out grace and kindness on your spell subject.  The specific words of the incantation vary, but they must always articulate a positive and encouraging potential future or affirm the best of whatever your subject has done.   As you'll mostly be casting this spell in our universe, and in this branch of the material plane, you need to cast this from a deep place of real connection with those you are casting towards.

The effects of Bless are subtle but immediate.  Individuals will be more eager and more creative.  You'll notice a slight but measurable improvement in the abilities of the group you're working with.   A little more will get done, and what does get done will get done more effectively.

There'll be a little more laughter, and a little more mutual patience.   Everything will be "Plus One," as they say.  What's best about Bless as a spell is that it's remarkably easy to cast.  So easy, in fact, that as you level up you'll find yourself casting it constantly.

So what does a Bless-casting look like?

Here are three examples of an effective cast of Bless, one verbal in the Material Plane, one nonverbal on the Material Plane, and one in the Virtual/Cyber plane:

1)  A friend is deeply depressed after the loss of a job and a sustained struggle for employment.  Realizing that their attitude is costing them the capacity to engage meaningfully with the world, you take them out for a beer.   During the sustained conversation that follows, you call down to the self you know they have the potential to be, repeatedly and honestly affirming that they're a valued and able person.   They're a fellow seeker, so as you speak their value back into them, you reference the shared story of faith.  It heartens them, and revitalizes them.

2) A neighbor is struggling with a health issue, and it snows.   They're too physically weak from their recent hospitalization to get out there and shovel...so you bop on by with your shovel once you're done with your walkway.  You get it done, and not only do they feel a bit better, but as they watch you grunting and shoveling, they feel a deeper sense of connection with the Creator.  Later that day, they pass that kindness along to a caregiver, and the world is a better place.

3) A stranger writes a blog-post that you find thoughtful, spiritual and moving.  So not only do you tell them so, but you make a point of sharing it with everyone in your social network.  That gives them the courage and encouragement to keep writing, and they move through the rest of their week with a spring in their step.

It's a minor spell, as are most First Level Spells, but that doesn't mean you can't botch it.   There are two ways Christian clerics typically mess this up:

1) Grasping: As a Christian Cleric, your Bless needs to be cast without grasping.  What does that mean?  Well, it means that you're really blessing, not just trying to get something out of someone.  Your intention needs to be for the good of the other, not for your own advancement.

If it's a Blessing, it needs to be a real Blessing.

Messing this one up can easily turn Bless into Command, a Level One Spell particularly popular among clerics who follow deities on the evil end of the spectrum.  Be careful with this, because making this error too many times ends up negating your connection to Jesus and the Holy Spirit, leaving you functionally powerless.

Worse yet, repeated casting of a Grasp-corrupted Bless opens a spirit-gate between you and the Dark Lord Mammon, who will happily turn you from the Way.  Use caution here.

2) Cursing:  The inverted version of Bless is immensely tempting, and increasingly common as this spell gets cast across media.  It's a spoken word of hostility, negation, and subversion, and it does have an impact.  Done well, it makes an opponent frustrated, angry, and chewing over your curse obsessively in their minds, sometimes for considerably longer than six melee rounds.

But that casting Curse is effective does not mean that it is something Christian Clerics should regularly include in their repertoire of spells.  A few higher level clerics (Paul, for example) and the Master himself could cast it effectively, but most of us find ourselves falling back on this spell more and more as we increasingly use it.

Our every thought becomes Curse, as we focus on the subverting of our adversaries.  We attack them for heresies and errors.  We mock them as ignorant and stupid.  We announce them to be evil, we undercut their every word, and we intentionally miscontrue what they're saying.

But the more we use Curse, the farther we get from the One Deep Spell that gives all Christian magic its power.  Separated from that heart, we move into a dangerous place.  Our lives become defined by it, and our communities become places defined not by Blessing, but by Cursing.  That's a dangerous thing. Curse draws its power from the Accuser, and the farther away we stay from Him and his path, the better.

As the Rule Book says, and as I'll say again and again, our primary task as a support class is to build up, not to tear down.

But what about Cursing in the heat of conflict, you say?  Can't I use it then?

Actually, no.  I do not recommend it.  Stay away from it.  Why?  Because it's antithetical to our Way.

What the Master taught us was the revolutionary notion that Bless is not just something we cast on our friends.  We also cast it on our enemies.  Here's a case in point:

A few years back, I was traversing the virtual plane.  This was shortly after the Great Net Gate had been discovered, and that plane was a new thing to me.  Suddenly, out of nowhere came roaring this Atheist Troll (50 HP, AC 3).  The battle was on.

Now you might think, knowing Trolls, that the first thing I should have done was to hit him with Flame Strike.  But as I was only level 5 at the time, this was not an option.  That was fortunate, because - as we all know now - using flame attacks in the virtual plane only makes trolls stronger.

I'd gotten used to using Bless, and so I just reflexively hit him with it.  His magic resistance held on the first casting, but I stuck with it, casting it again after his first flurry of attacks missed.

Well, by the third melee round, we were talking about our families, and how hard his life had been recently.  When he went on his way, I cast several more Blessings as he left.  What was most remarkable about that exchange was that I found I'd received significantly more EXP than I would have if I'd pounded him into submission with my mace.


Learn it, practice it, use it every day.