The Politics of the First Witches’ Sabbaths

Today, a standard component of the European myth of the witch is that witches are organized. They maintain heretical Satanic sects or covens and form a vast conspiracy to undermine the Christian order. From Faust to The Witch (2015), the idea is almost taken as a given. But it’s actually a pretty new concept. The […]

Saving or Sacrificing the Substitute King

In and around Mesopotamia, from maybe 1900 to 300 B.C. (off and on), priests practiced a particular brand of human sacrifice meant to keep their kings safe. When omens and auguries predicted the death of the king, priests would swap the real king out for a fake – a substitute king – then kill the […]

The Book of Overthrowing Apep 

The Book of Overthrowing Apep is a 4th-century B.C. Egyptian religious text intended to help the priesthood assist the sun god Ra in his nightly struggle against the chaos serpent Apep. You wouldn’t want to read it yourself, but it does contain some striking and very gameable imagery! Let’s look at the coolest stuff in […]

Occult NPCs from Aubrey’s Lives

Back in November, we looked at a weird ghost story from an even weirder source: Aubrey’s Brief Lives. This week we return to the Lives to look at his biographies of nine bizarre occult NPCs from 1600s Britain. Some were (according to Aubrey anyway) literally haunted by the ghosts of their sins; others were outright […]

Talking the Tsembaga out of War

The Tsembaga were a tight-knit cluster of clans that lived on the fringes of highland New Guinea. Around 1930, they almost went to war with their neighbors, the Dimbagai-Yimyagai. The reasons why the war never materialized are complicated, and they make a great template for a diplomatic or social adventure rooted firmly at the level […]

The Capitalist Cannibal Butthole Bird

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The Holy Crown of Hungary

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Adventuring in Neverland

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Taboos as Plot: Dá Derga’s Feast Hall

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Spells of Ecological Succession

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David Alroy, the Wizard-Messiah

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Wild Beliefs About Megaliths

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The Wonders of Sir John Mandeville (Asia)

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Folkloric Villains

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The Turu Lion-Men

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