There is a folk belief in the Empire of Splendour that a person may only bear a limited amount of good luck, or fortune. If you experience a lucky break, you must pass on some of that luck to another person to prevent bad luck happening to you to balance out the cosmic scales of fortune. Ordinarily, this is just a nice little custom that encourages people to help each other with small kindnesses. Recently, in the City of Llaza, it has grown into a cultural phenomenon.
The upshot is a sudden increase in mysterious benefactors who seem to be trying to outdo one another with acts of largesse. Some rumours say that these are actually attacks of a kind, trying to invoke bad fortune to strike the recipient unless they continue the chain of charity. The gossip libel known as the Pink Slipper has dubbed this the Cult of Luck, following their theme started with the Cult of Beauty for slaves to fashion. The Cult of Beauty is known to have followers who do consider themselves to be a cult, of sorts, with a loose organisation and extreme beliefs about the nature of beauty. What is unclear is whether the Cult of Luck has anything similar behind it, or if it is simply a craze of excess typical of Llaza.
Using the Cult of Luck
Gamesmasters may like to play with the idea of "finite fortune" by allowing players to take a small bonus (+1 or +2) on a d20 roll, with the understanding that they will be required to take a penalty of the same magnitude on a roll designated by the gamesmaster, later in the game. Both penalty and bonus must be declared before the die is rolled.
It's probably best to allow something like this no more than once per game session, or once per in-game day, and the rolls ought ideally be of equivalent value, so a bonus to an attack roll would be balanced with a penalty to a later attack roll or saving throw rather than, say, a Decipher Script check.
This could be done the other way around, with the player opting to take a penalty that will later paid off with a bonus awarded by the gamesmaster, but we think the first way is better, and raises an air of tension with the players wondering when their luck will turn bad.
A less mechanical method would involve player characters finding themselves on the receiving end of a Cult of Luck beneficience. This could be an anonymous donation of money, help in an adventure lead that they are pursuing, a useful minor magic item or anything else that the party might need. At some point, however, this favour becomes a burden, or leads into a new adventure, or perhaps the gamesmaster could apply a mechanical penalty as above if the characters do not pass on the good fortune.
(c) 2010 The Creative Conclave.