Fantasy Wargaming, cover to cover (XXVI)

So the next section deals with the pagan Norse religion in lines that mostly parallel the previous section, although with some changes in the order of presentation. “Norse” religion stands in for all Germanic, Teutonic, and Scandinavian religious traditions, as they were fairly similar. It is too bad the Celtic religion does not get a similar treatment, but the Norse model makes it pretty clear how one might simulate other pantheons and religions, with a little research. (It would also be really fun to see similar sections on Islam, Judaism, and other major religions of the periods covered!)

First, the hierarchy of gods & goddesses is discussed, along with how intercessions work (things are complicated a bit because of blood and marriage ties between various deities), and how promotion within the hierarchy works.

Piety for pagans is always with respect to their own gods, not the Christian ethereal host, but pagans with negative piety attract the Devil’s attention, as he may claim the souls of anyone, of any religion. I did not like this idea much until I remembered a certain scene in Poul Anderson’s The broken sword where the Devil visits a Viking woman who is desperate for revenge, so I guess it would work.

The sins & virtues of Norse paganism are generally different from those of Christianity, with much more focus on heroism and hospitality than self-abasement and charity, as you might expect. The afterlife is handled differently too, as there is no Norse Purgatory and the circumstances of death matter more (in battle, at sea, etc.) so you may go to Valhalla, Niflhelm, etc. as appropriate. Heroes form the lower ranks of the Norse Ethereal host, so in principle you could have fallen heroes advance to become full-fledged gods in time, just as you could work out afterlife adventures for saints and sinners in Christianity.

The Norse ceremonies mostly involve sacrifices and feasts, and I as I noted earlier the mana values of specific animals are lists (ranging from 2 for fowl to 5 for cattle). There are also ceremonies for marriage, baptism (dedication to a specific god or goddess which also adds a component to the recipient’s name), funereal rites (barrow and ship burials), oaths (which are immensely important for the flavor of sagas!), and Seidhr (a sort of divinatory appeal combined with a ceremony). Inspiration may follow appeals, ceremonies, or oaths, and the Norse are more easily inspired spontaneously than are Christians.

Then a run-down of the Ethereal host is given in more detail, with a similar descriptive table to the one for Christianity and demonology.

Lastly, there is the section on monsters, magical beings, and general fauna.

Published in: on August 21, 2010 at 11:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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