Saturday, July 30, 2011

Saintly Saturday: The Forefeast of the Precious Cross

I am going to break pattern a little bit today by highlighting something that happens tomorrow rather than today, and it takes a little bit of explanation. One of the first Christian archeologists was St. Helen — mother of St. Constantine, the first Christian Emperor of Rome. She spent a lot of time in the Holy Land retracing the steps of Christ and building churches at the place of key events in the life of Christ. During her searches, she found the True Cross — the cross upon which Christ was crucified. [For those of you who are skeptical, she knew it was the True Cross by the miracles that happened in its presence.]

The Cross was then brought to the imperial city of Constantinople where it became a tradition to make a procession around the city with the Cross at the beginning of August. This particular feast tends to be overshadowed by the main feast of the Cross (the Elevation of the Cross celebrated September 14) and August 1st marks the beginning of the Dormition Fast. Thus, it is not widely practiced; however, it still has a place in the church calendar.

Tomorrow is the Forefeast of this event — a day (and in some cases days) where the Orthodox Church anticipates a feast. Here is the crux of why I chose to post about tomorrow rather than today — time. Forefeasts and fasts (such as the one the Orthodox Church begins on Monday) demonstrate that the Orthodox Church sees time itself as part of creation and therefore it needs to be sanctified along with the rest of creation. Forefeasts are only one of several ways that the Orthodox Church does this.

The one way I find most interesting and inspiring is how the Orthodox Church sanctifies the days of the week. Each day of the week has proscribed hymns centering around a particular theme:

  • Monday = The Angels
  • Tuesday = St. John the Baptist (and all the prophets)
  • Wednesday = The Cross (the betrayal of Judas)
  • Thursday = The Apostles & St. Nicholas (the model for all great bishops — the successors to the Apostles)
  • Friday = The Cross and the Theotokos (the VIrgin Mary who watched her son die on the Cross)
  • Saturday = The Martyrs (and all those who have fallen asleep in the Lord)
  • Sunday = The Resurrection

This suggests a way of infusing this sense of time in a campaign (and, incidentally, incentivizing platers to keep track of time). Have each day of the week affect various classes in different ways. This can take the form of bonuses or penalties to hit, to saves or damage. Alternatively, this could take the form of a single re-roll per day — on good days, the player gets to decide to re-roll a failure; on bad days the Referee gets to force a re-roll on a success. Other possibilities: Clerics and Magic-users get a bonus spell/lose one spell, Fighters get max/minimum damage on one hit, Thieves get one guaranteed success/failure with one of their skills. Here is one possible way to set this up:

Bonus Days

Monday = Fighters
Tuesday = Magic-users
Wednesday = Thieves
Thursday = Clerics
Saturday = All Classes

Penalty Days

Monday = Magic-users
Tuesday = Clerics
Wednesday = Fighters
Thursday = Thieves

Neutral Days

Friday & Sunday

This set up allows for two days of the week to be normal, one day where everyone will be at their best and four days that are a mixed bag. When a party goes adventuring can become as important as where.