#AtoZ: B is for Baptistery

This post belongs to the #AtoZchallenge 2024, where I attempt to turn a word a day into something that can be used in Role Playing Games.

Back in the day, only proper Christian might enter the sanctified part of a church, that means, the church proper. One also needed a place to turn the run-of-the-mill pagan into a proper Christian, and that place was the Baptistery: Either an antechamber of a proper church, or, more often, an usually octagonal chapel used for instructions in catechism that ended with the baptism. They were closely supervised and sealed if not in use, as they were not sanctified.

If possible, baptisteries were built at the site of sacred natural springs, as those a) provided sufficient water for the whole immersion of the applicant and b) prevented those pesky pagans from sacrificing to their water idols.

They mostly fell out of use when Christianity became established as main religion during the Middle Ages, which makes them common archaeological discoveries in former Christian countries (like Syria).

How to integrate it into your typical fantasy RPG?

  • It could be an antechamber for the temple of a diety connected to water, and to get into the temple proper, one actually has to dive through the pool. As protective measure it might require a small ritual that all faithful would know by heart, but that infidels would usually not think of (like reciting a typical prayer or a small sacrifice).
  • Instead of a temple, it could also be an entrance a dungeon that was once sealed away by a water diety.
  • They could be used as a magic pool, as described for example in the Dungeon Alphabet or the Dungeon, that only activates if the user enters them naked, or three times, or both.
  • They could be a way to remove curses by anyone who knows the proper ritual, located at dangerous and difficult to reach places.

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