Thursday, March 1, 2012
The Viking raids and settlements were prompted by developments within Scandinavia itself. By the late 8th century power was becoming centralized, creating an intensely competitive society. For many, pirate raids overseas became a means to acquire wealth, a reputation and an armed following to support their ambitions at home. Others, denied the chance to rule at home, sought to conquer lands for themselves and their followers abroad. (1)
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
On another level, however, the leap from punk to monk should not be that startling. Punk rock has always been a semi-monastic movement, with its distinctive reject-the-world garb and ritualistic mortifications of the flesh. The one thing punk has always insisted upon, from the very beginning, is passion. It didn’t matter much whether it was the passionate nihilism of the Sex Pistols or the passionate idealism of the Clash as long as it was fervent and deeply felt. It’s no accident that the hard-core wing of the punk movement gave birth early on to the “straight-edge” ethos, in which followers swear to abstain from drugs, drink, and meat.
Monday, February 27, 2012
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
I’ve been spending lots of time at the Raven’s Nest getting caught up with his blog. I’d read some of it in passing, but I wanted to go and thoroughly read over things I had only skimmed before. One of them I had missed was a discussion about gods. There is a group of gods I have considered for a while for use in a game, and I thought I’d outline them here and see if I can get any feedback.
The genesis of these deities was considering more than just monotheism or a pantheon, but something more like dualism. Reading over Roman mystery cults, I found three that interested me, and I found a certain sort of symmetry when I dug deeper.
The first is Mithras, whose worship pervaded the Roman military, and held rituals in a secret cave called a mithraeum. He represents the sun, is symbolized by the lion, and is a father figure.
The second is Cybele, called the Magna Mater or 'Great Mother', from Pergamum. She is enthroned with lions, is a mother, and represents the moon.
The third is Isis, who was co-opted from the Eqyptians. She is shown with bull’s horns, represents the sun, and is a mother.
This forms a very interesting group; each shares exactly one aspect with another, and opposes them on the other two aspects. Instead of dualism, these three can represent the opposite sides of a hexagon.
The Father aspect is representative of a centralized figure of power and rigid structure. The mithraic cult had level titles, just like classic d&d, and symbols associated with each one. I am definitely using those for structure and flavor.
The Mother aspects are not centralized, but rather have dispersed authority in various localities. They are also associated with resurrection as a major part of their mythology.
The Sun aspects have an affinity for magic, especially Wizardly magic. They each wield a staff as a symbol of power.
The Moon aspect is not heavily invested in magic, and her followers show distrust for it, associating it with Witchcraft.
The Lion aspects value valor in combat and skill at arms. Their followers gain standing through accomplishments in battle. Both of them have rituals involving the sacrifice of a bull.
The Bull aspect keeps themselves as a separate caste, and uses politics and fear of their mysticism as its main source of power.
Following yesterday’s brief reflection on the Fomorians, I thought today should feature a treasure associated with them. If you saw the Sword of Light post and followed the link to the Four Jewels of the Tuatha, you would find on the list the Spear of Lugh.
Lugh was half-fomorian, being the grandson of Balar of the Baleful Eye. He was also half-Tuatha, and went to serve King Nuada in the court at Tara. He was appointed Head Ollam of Ireland, and eventually brought war to his other people, where he killed his grandfather (and put out the baleful eye with a sling stone - definitely worth a read if you've never heard of it).
His spear has many associations and titles from different texts, without much agreement, but I think we can be free to take whichever of those properties serve us best. One title I like is the Finest Yew of the Wood. It has two properties based on this: one command makes it strike unerring in combat (a poor fit for D&D, unless you are at truly epic levels of a campaign and are fighting Lugh himself); another makes it return to the owner (which is common enough in lore and in games).
Under the nickname of “slaughterer”, it is known to be a flaming spear, which is kept in a pot of water to prevent it from igniting. I really like that visual: PCs finding a spear stuck into a pot of water, taking it out only to have it ignite, figuring out how to transport it out of the dungeon or deal with it in camp.
This could be another lost treasure of the King-under-the-Hills, sought after by elves, and viewed enviously if the PCs are not allies.
Spear of Lugh:
Spear +2, flaming (constantly); returns when the command ‘Aithibar’ is spoken.