Superstitions can be based in mythology, folklore, or local legends and can range from the mundane, such as covering mirrors after a death in the family, to the exotic, say chewing gum after dark turns into human flesh. But the one thing that all superstitions in our reality have in common is that they are not true; just malarky and hokum usually indoctrinated into children and thus continue to thrive despite the severe lack of evidence.
In the world of fiction, evidence no longer matters and we can play with “real” consequences of not abiding by the rules of superstitions in our game world. Superstitions provide a great way to flesh out a campaign world, can help differentiate cultures from each other, and if you add some simple mechanics, can give players a different tangible experience in their travels.
Clad Your Navel Superstitions
Vyalachia is nestled at the mouth of a pass along the Wallachi river before it empties into Wallachi Lake. The area between the borough and the lake is mostly swamp where the backwaters of the lake ebb and flow. These swamps are notorious for plaguing the two main roads out of Vyalachia with thick mists and fogs and travelers are warned to beware the gloom grubs and to “clad their navel.”
The fog is known to contain a magical disease that manifests as small, grey worms or grubs and is known locally as gloom grubs. It is not just a Vyalachian fashion trend to for men and women to wear corsets featuring a large, cold iron disc over their bellybutton… it is the only known preventative for gloom grubs.
Those finding themselves within the fog of Vyalachia have a cumulative 10% chance to be exposed to gloom grubs every minute. See below for the PFRPG stats for the disease.
Type disease; Save Fortitude DC 17; Frequency 1/day
Tracks mental (see below); Cure remove disease
No latent/carrier state; upon death small grey worms burst forth from the abdomen, subjecting everyone within a 5′ burst to the gloom grubs disease and then immediate dissipate into vapor. Anyone with cold iron covering their navel automatically succeeds in the Fortitude Save to contract the disease.
This superstition is based on the Japanese superstition that Raijin (雷神, Shinto mythology), the god of storms, lightning, and thunder, would eat the navels and entire abdomens of children. Japanese parents would tell their children to hide their bellybuttons during a storm and so its origin is in preventing illness.
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