I've always been a big fan of folklore and folklore-inspired elements in tabletop games. They tend to fit the theme of low fantasy mud and grime dungeon crawling a lot of OSR seems to fit into.
Much of magical traditions in real life revolve around protection and curing of 'negative energy' and curses cast by other people. I've decided to combine that with some ways for players to get elemental resistances at low levels using similar methods, for the following tables.
The Serf's Elemental Resistances
Doing one of these reduces all Fire Damage taken by 1. Doing all of them reduces it by 2
- Wear a shard of an iron or ceramic cookpot woven into your armor or as a talisman.
- Powder your skin with ash, enough to cover you from head to toe.
- Carry a paper kite flown on the same day as a dragon was sighted overhead.
- Deal 1d4 damage to yourself and quench a candelabra with your blood. Lasts 1 day.
Doing one of these reduces all Cold Damage taken by 1. Doing all of them reduces it by 2
- Adorn your cap or staff with a feather. Must be taken from a migrating bird.
- Bear paw talisman worn on the belt. You must kiss the paw each morning.
- Carry a glass bottle of melted snow from at least one winter ago, older is better.
- Carry a hot stone warmed by a fire. Only counts for as long as the stone is warm.
Doing one of these reduces all Shock Damage taken by 1. Doing all of them reduces it by 2
- Wear any garment sown from eel skin. Gloves are traditional.
- Wear a piece of polished rose quartz. Can be by itself or set in a ring/amulet.
- Put leaves in the bottom of your boots. Works until leaves become dust.
- Touch a building which is taller then a giant. Lasts until you wash that hand.
The Serf's Hex Breaker
Each of these grant +1 to saving throws vs magic against curses up to a maximum of +3.
- Carry a lock of your sister's hair. Blonde sisters work best, red hair sisters actually grant -1 so don't even ask them for any hair.
- Tie a Gordian knot around your shield. Must be tied by someone with a higher Intelligence score then you, you can't know the solution to the knot.
- Wear any piece of clothing sown by your mother or grandmother. Not wife.
- Carry any 'lucky' item. Rabbit's foot, horseshoe, four leaf clover, etc.
- Throw a pinch of salt over your shoulder the moment the curse is laid upon you.
- Swear using your God's name. Take 1d4 Charisma damage from blasphemy.
- Kiss the standing stone. If your village doesn't have one, a neighboring town probably does. Lasts for a season, only works if you have kids.
Each of these has a 1 in 6 chance of breaking a minor curse. You can only attempt each method once. Your village elder knows and can teach you one of these, roll 1d6.
- Partake in a great feast. Can only be done for a 'legit' reason, like a new chief is selected or a good harvest, etc.
- Mock marriage with a pig. You have to actually throw the whole ceremony and pay a dowry. Very embarrassing. Pig gets the curse after you give it a kiss.
- Everything you drink for the next month must have a bezoar in the cup.
- Have sex on a powerful animal's fur made into a rug. If its the same beast that gave you the curse, 5 in 6 chance instead.
- Get really high and go on a spirit quest. Take 1d6 Wisdom damage whether the curse is lifted or not.