... it made me think about the role of clerics in D&D / Labyrinth Lord / Castles & Crusades.
Now while official doctrine says that these things aren't holy themselves and don't have mystical powers (except perhaps the relics?) and only serve to stir up the faith of the faithful, the fact is a lot of folks look to these things like magic items that ward off evil. I mean, why else do some folks follow Feng Shui and have their houses blessed by a priest?
I took a quick look at several spells from Labyrinth Lord that might deal with a concern that common folk might have -- keeping their homes and families and neighborhoods safe from evil while they went about their daily lives! Here they are:
Protection from Evil (1st level Clerical Spell, 12 turn duration)
Okay, now this helps protect the target of the spell from attacks of evil creatures by giving bonuses to Armor Class and to Saving Throws. Nothing to scoff at, espeically if you're a poor commoner without the benefit of decent saving throw rolls from racial, class, or level bonuses.
But that's not all! It also prevents you from being touched by summoned or created creatures (including natural weapon attacks). Now, missile attacks aren't stopped, and the protection is voided if the protected one attacks the creature or tries to use it to back the creature away.
Unfortunately it has a very short duration, and doesn't seem applicable to effects that I want the rituals and altars to have.
Protection from Evil 10' Radius (4th level Clerical Spell, 12 Turn duration)
Same as above, except that it has an area effect radius of 10 feet (so that's 20 feet in diameter centered on the target of the spell.
Dispel Evil (5th level Clerical Spell, 1 turn duration)
Affects all undead or enchanted creatures within 30 feet of the caster -- they gotta make a saving throw or be destroyed. If they make it, they gotta run.
Awesome, but ridiculously short effectivity. I'm thinking more of something like this:
Same as Protection from Evil, except that it protects all entrances, exits, and surfaces of a home that is inhabited. That protection is voided if the undead or enchanted creatures are invited or brought in on purpose or under false pretenses. It is renewed by any true resident of the home who touches the focus of the warding (a religious symbol on a door, or the home altar) and says a short prayer to the deity or immortal whose protection was invoked in the first place.
Dispel Evil from Town (6th level Clerical Spell, 1 turn duration)
Same as Dispel Evil, except that it requires at least two other clerics casting the normal Dispel Evil spell, and requires the constant prayers of true residents of the town as a procession is led through the main streets of the town. The spell does not take effect until after the procession is completed (usually 1 hour). Trusted warriors and adventurers have been hired to guard the clerics during this delicate time, though many often forgo payment for the protection of friends and family in the town.