The Queue: Holding on by our fingertips
Love as many people as you can. Fight for a better tomorrow, in whatever way you can. Take care of each other.
I will not be around — I have to go to the doctor.
Q4tQ: Did you check out Mythic Odysseys of Theros? Any thoughts?
I have looked at it, and it’s interesting — it takes a different path than Odyssey of the Dragonlords did, and that’s good, more diversity in how games use Greek mythology as an inspiration is only a good thing. I wrote a brief post about it yesterday, and I’d say it’s a fun sourcebook. I might actually consider fusing Theros and Thylea at some point into a campaign. Theros could easily be the landmass that Thylea is exiled from, and both cultures share significant elements. Which makes sense, as they’re both Greek mythology influenced.
Q4tQ: what does your own internal screaming sound like? I don’t even notice mine anymore.
Well, between the pandemic, the constant escalation of the current crisis which I’m honestly afraid to even talk about, my wife having been hospitalized twice last week and me having to go in for eye injections tomorrow, mine sounds like a rotary drill burrowing through my forehead.
I don’t really have that feeling right now but I’m glad to see someone else having it.
It’s kinda sad to think that there are likely whole mythologies that would’ve made awesome D&D settings but are lost to memory.
That’s really the next step after Tolkien: use shared PIE roots to suss out the first known linguistic mythology. JRRT did it somewhat, but his focus was on the Germanic branch. We can go back farther! We have the analytical technology!
Not all linguistic groups have shared mythologies, and not all mythologies within a specific language group are free from cultural crossing. One example is Adonis, who despite being part of an Indo-European language group’s religion, actually comes from a Semitic language group originally — the name Adonis derives from the Caananite word Adon, which is itself related to the Hebrew word Adonai, often used even today to refer to God. It means Lord.
We have done a great deal of work on tracing back to a proto-Indo-European shared mythology and more work continues, but it is and will always be impossible to really reconstruct shared religious ideas from the time before writing. Heck, just look at the Arcadian preservation of the idea that Poseidon and Demeter were married, an idea the rest of Greece did not share and which was likely a preservation of a very ancient religious idea from well before what we consider Ancient Greece, an idea that goes back to before the Minoan era of Crete and may reflect a pre-Mycenean religion that viewed Poseidon as the chief god of the region, potentially related to Dyeus, the current reconstruction of the chief god of the proto-Indo Europeans.
But we always have to remember that as groups spread and come into contact with each other their mythologies mingle and derive — for example, the story of Moses in the reed basket is similar to a story told of Sargon of Akkad.
Still, you could take the reconstructed mythology of the proto-Indo Europeans and use it in your RPG campaign, if you wanted to. The Sky God, the Earth Mother, the Daughter of the Dawn, the Divine Twins and the Sun, plus the Thunder or Weather God and the God of Herding could be used as starting points for you to build your own pantheon. I’ve often thought that Zeus, Hades and Poseidon are the god Dyeus broken up into three aspects, much as Demeter often seems to be in later myths.
But ultimately, there are so many religions and mythologies out there — hundreds in Africa and Mesoamerica and Asia and the Pacific, I feel like running to reconstruct Proto-Indo European pantheons to base my game on might not be my first choice.
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