Fantasy Wargaming, cover to cover (V)

Continuing Chapter II, the next section is on religion. First, we get brief outline of Church organization and Church-state relations. Then, there is some interesting discussion of heresy, and the first mention of “piety,” a concept just a central to religion as “mana” is to magic. The context is a mention that when the Church burns heretics, they are in effect making a sacrifice to God which produces mana for God and piety for His worshipers, but at the same time the heretic’s tribulations are just as real and earn the heretic piety points. So, reality of the Otherworld is even more clearly demonstrated to be dependent on human belief, an idea I really like. Apparently the the seeming contradictions between the orthodox and heretical views are to be understood in relative terms. This does seem to leave open the question as to whether the Arian or Pelagian God is the same as the ortodx Christian God (let alone whether any of these can be identified with the Moslems’ Allah or the Jews’ Jehovah!). Perhaps this ambiguity is entirely intentional, as the Otherworld is, after all, mysterious.

The section on Christianity leads by a natural and logical path to the Devil. The Devil’s place in medieval thought and the FW rules are described. For example, the Devil accumulates mana by condemning and torturing human souls. I really like the game mechanics used to explain the motivations of the Higher and Lower powers!

From here, we move on to witchcraft, a very difficult topic for historians and game designers both. Should they be treated as peasant magician types, or pagans, or actual Devil-worshipers? FW solves this problem by saying “Yes!” to all three. To quote the text, “FW treats witchcraft as a pagan cult infiltrated and perverted by the Devil into a foul parody and deadly enemy of Christianity.” We’ll see that witches are one of the several types of magic users playable in the game, while Devil-worshipers have extensive rules in the religion section of the rules. I have to admit this is a pretty elegant solution. Just as with the “unified field theory” of magic, this theory of witchcraft seems to be a pretty good way to handle an otherwise intractable problem of history.

The third major part of the religion section deals with paganism, although the author stresses these should be considered applicable to the Dark Ages only, and not the High Middle Ages. FW intentionally conflates Anglo-Saxon, German, and Norse mythology into a pastiche that covers all three pretty well, since they are after of common origins. This also works because these mythologies are much less well documented than say Greek mythology. To quote the text again: “Our vivid, coherent picture of the Norse region of the Ethereal Plane is an accident of literature more than a reflection of belief.” That is, there is not really an organized Norse “Church.”  Still, there are temples, priests, and sacraments.  The most important Norse sacraments are sacrifices, usually of animals but possibly humans, and there is even a brief mention of the infamous “blood eagle” as a sacrifice.  The text also notes that the Norse gods are not “jealous” and don’t seek converts, but they also are very fickle and may let down even a devoted servant.

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Published in: on July 31, 2010 at 2:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Chello!

    I can’t remember if it’s covered in this chapter or the magic one, but one way that sorcerers recharge mana is through religious devotion, BUT magic is generally antithetical towards magic. Sort of a Catch 22 in some ways.


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