Monday 19 November 2012

A Time of Superstition

Months back, when I create a list of topics as background research for this campaign, I added Superstition. A player could always lay their misfortune as a result of a superstition overlooked, but other than black cats, witches and walking under ladders, my knowledge was very limited.

This past weekend I painted 16 Wolves from Coppelstone Castings and like most painting projects where my knowledge is limited, I screen the Internet for ideas. Along with the required details for wolf pelts, hunting patterns and the like, nuggets of useful information regarding superstitions and fables were uncovered.

Wolves (from Wikipedia)
"... in Roman mythology, the Capitoline Wolf nurses Romulus and Remus, the future founders of Rome. In the mythology of the Turks,  Mongols and Ainu, wolves were believed to be the ancestors of their people, while the Dena’ina believed wolves were once men, and viewed them as brothers."

"It appeared in the seventh century edition of the Physiologus, which infused pagan tales with the spirit of Christian moral and mystical teaching. The Physiologus portrays wolves as being able to strike men dumb on sight, and of having only one cervical vertebra. Dante included a she-wolf, representing greed and fraud, in the first canto of the Inferno."

The Malleus Maleficarum, first published in 1487, states that wolves are either agents of God sent to punish the wicked, or agents of Satan, sent with God's blessing to test the faith of believers.

Witches (from Wikipedia)
“Folk belief in reality of witchcraft had been denied by the church in earlier centuries; Charlemagne had specifically outlawed the old practice of witch burning "in the manner of the pagans" since witchcraft was originally viewed by many early medieval Christians as a pagan superstition.

By the 15th century, belief in witches was once again openly accepted in European society, but they typically suffered penalties no more harsh than public penances such as a day in the stocks. Persecution of witches became more brutal following the publication of the Malleus, with witchcraft being accepted as a real and dangerous phenomenon."

"In 1484 Kramer made one of the first attempts at a systematic persecution of witches in the region of Tyrol. It was not a success: Kramer was thrown out of the territory, and dismissed by the local bishop as a "senile old man". According to Diarmaid MacCulloch, writing the book was Kramer's act of self-justification and revenge. Some scholars have suggested that following the failed efforts in Tyrol, Kramer and Sprenger requested and received a papal bull Summis desiderantes affectibus in 1484. It allegedly gave full papal approval for the Inquisition to prosecute witchcraft in general and for Kramer and Sprenger specifically. Malleus Maleficarum was written in 1486 and the papal bull was included as part of the preface. “

Further Reading:

Application within the campaign
This is a tricky topic to bring to the game table without a medieval DBA game becoming a fantasy HOTT battle. The early WRG Ancient rule sets allowed for sacred items to lift a flagging morale; the Ark of the Covenant, the Raven banner, and the Oriflamme, to name a few.  In one manner, the hesitancy, uncertainty or fear could result in a reduction of movement, such as would be brought on with a thick mist or no movement due to an eclipse of the sun as examples. 

After some thought, this item would have a better place at the strategic level. If an area were known to be inhabited by wolves, witches or other demons one would normally give the area a pass. 

Questionable areas can be marked on a map, that any player wishing to pass through would require an extra incentive (extra pip) to do so. 

You could view the + 1 requirement to cover the time necessary to find the local “priest/wizard or astrologer” who could bless, conjure or divine the propitious moment to move.  


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