Re: Animist magic [was: Changed magic in 2nd and 3rd Age]

From: L C <lightcastle_at_-Ks_5yk_PVY__-DHm8l5gHkvS7lCRLhk31kLLNyS0QkMsaCaLAXfBQ8ifQVsffvf>
Date: Sat, 20 Jun 2009 14:05:46 -0400

Chris Lemens wrote:

>I think HeroQuests for animists are usually like the vision quests
that you can find described in any decent book on native American legends.

That's what I would assume. This makes them seem much less "safely follow the myth" that the Theist HQs are, of course.

>Spirit society members (formerly known as practitioners) can interact
with spirits in a more limited way. Think about their abilty as opening a window to the otherworld and talking through it, instead of >opening a door and wlking through it. (That's an analogy only.)

But a useful one.
I am starting to like the idea of specialized magic (as opposed to common) requiring at least a window to be opened. (I'm starting to throw the HeroQuest word overboard as mostly unhelpful as short-hand for "contact the otherworld".)

Now, how that otherworld contact works/looks/feels is very dependent on culture and particular religion. Whether someone even considers it an "otherworld" rather than some kind of internal state of grace or contemplation is probably variable, as well. That great swaths of the world use similar approaches that more or less fall into the three world model is a product of people adopting approaches that work. And an oversimplification.

If I approach it this way I can keep the basics of what has already been written, smooth out what "common magic" actually means, and allow for an infinite variety of actual magic styles in different cultures. I can also get to a more mixed magic that feels far more Gloranthan than the "shove whole cultures down a single path" approach the rules tend to imply.

>Mere tradition members look on from the outside. They get their charms
from other people. They would only visit the otherworld on rare instances, under friendly circumstances, preferably with a shaman or
>powerful magical leader present.

I'd say practitioners as well. They probably only deal with windows. This whole "lay person" level is probably where the ecstatic/sacrifice/veneration thing comes in, and is a very fuzzy line between common magic and specialized magic IMHO.

>It seems to me that there are four styles of animist worship that get
you magic, though some of these distinctions are meaningless in rules terms:

And I am more and more thinking that this sort of distinctions that matter immensely on a cultural/pracitcal level but not on a rules level are the way to go in all the systems.
I mean, they would affect what you could get magically, but have nothing to do with the how you describe the magical effect aspect.

>1. Ancestor worship. I think you get a charm from this. You create
a nice home for your ancestor (the charm), who comes to live in it with your for a while. You can also allow your ancestor to possess >you. But I think the thing that makes this one really different is that ancestor worship society members can open that window and talk to the ancestors, getting good advice on a successful contest (except for >lying Uncle Pogner -- don't listen to him because he's a mean drunk).

I never did trust Uncle Pogner.

>2. Hsunchen-style worship. I think you invite friendly animal
spirits to inhabit parts of your body. You invite Razortooth to inhabit your teeth and Runs Like Wind to be your legs, etc. Once your whole
>body is inhavbited, you can transform into your totem animal. I don't
think you normally make charms of your totem animal. That would be unfriendly because it is the wrong kind of home in your tradition. It
>is important to note that doing this right is something that your
tradition teaches. A Praxian can;t jusy go up to a Telmori animal spirit and invite it in. It will certainly come in, but it would be a case of
>possession. (That might explain werewolves in cultures where there are
no Telmori.)

Oooh, that's a nice touch. And, of course, other traditions might have teachings about how to get a telmori spirit into a charm, because for them that's the way to do it. Different approaches, still dealing with spirits.

>3. Worship of embodied spirits. We haven't talked much about these,
but there is some good non-rules chrome in the HQ1 rules. Basically, you go to the sacred mountain and do one of two things. Either >you ask it questions and get advice that might or might not be good. You'd narrate this as a contest, probably uusing your tradition as the main ability or as an augment. Or you ask it for some of its helper >spirits: the Big Falling Rock, Mountain Fir, etc. You make charms for them, but they don't like being there. They have a natural place to live. If you release them, I don't think they come back (absent some >really good story reason).

Yeah, I see them as a source for helping spirits. This also is likely a source of common magic, where you don't actually have to make the breach to the other world to get it, since the spirit has a home in the mundane world already.

>4. Normal animist worship (ie everything else). You visit the great
spirits in the otherworld and ask them for their helper spirits. You bring them back and put them in charms, which are the homes you have
>prepared for the disembodied spirits in the natural world. If you are
prepared for it ritually and hold the medicine bundle, one of the great spirits can possess you directly. Of course, the ritual preparation
>often takes a loooong time, might require you to be ritually selected
in the first place, etc. And the medicine bundle might be the one that was created back at the dawn, using things that no one can even
>identify now, much less find another one of.
>There are also animist rituals that result in a specific happening,
rather than the acquisition of magic:

I think all three systems have rituals like this, of course.

>a. Propitiation -- done ahead of time to keep the bad spirits from
visiting. Anyone can do these. People do them daily, subconsciously, though not for all spirits. For example, Praxians drop a bit of food
>into every prairie dog hole they come across, to ward off the bad
little spirits that make holes where you galloping herd beast steps.

And there are big versions of this as well, done for the whole community when important/necessary/proper.

>b. Placation -- buying off the bad spirit when it arrives.
Tradition members can do these, but usually a shaman or magical leader leads the ritual. Often, these amount to scapegoating rituals.

*nod* Similar to what I see the big version of Propiation as.

>c. Banishment -- sending the bad spirit away. Shamans or specialist
magical leaders usually do lead these. They are really dangerous. If you lose, the bad spirit might possess you.

>The question of where the hero plane ends and the spirit plane begins
is tougher for me.

I think there's more bleed over from one to the other than most people think.

>I think when you go to visit a great spirit, you clearly end up in its
home in the spirit plane. Likewise, a society member's window probably opens directly to the home of that society's great spirit. But when a
>shaman goes traipsing about, visiting the spirits that are not core to
the tradition, I suspect she goes through the hero plane to go from "place" to "place" in the spirit plane, unless the two spirits are both
>entirely native to the tradition. (E.g., a shaman can go from visiting
Waha's great herd to visiting Daka Fal's camp without leaving the Wide Plaines (which is what Praxians call their part of the spirit plane.
>But going to visit Oakfed means going through the fire lands.) Even
when visiting a non-native spirit, the tradition will know the way through the hero plane. (So, the shaman going to visit Oakfed follows
>Waha's Hotfoot Path.) Does that make sense?

It does to me, anyway. It's got enough over-arching structure while allowing for quite a bit of culture-specific tweaking.



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