Saturday, September 13, 2014

Shadowrun Websites

{Author's Note:  This is one of my Shadowrun Rants. This is seriously dated, I was talking about websites from the late 90's and early 2000's.  At the time I was an AOL (America Online) user.  Things have changed dramatically since then.}


Well Folks this rant is the result of a recent chat in the AOL GIX section.  A few of us were discussing the quality of Shadowrun Websites on the Internet.  Many are great resources for the game, but there are a quite a few that in my opinion are not worth it.  It seems as though too many of them regurgitate the same stuff.  My main problems with Shadowrun websites are that too many are reprints of stuff that exists on other pages, too many are all graphics and no substance, and finally too many seem to put out the same kind of stuff: spells, guns, equipment, PCs and NPCs.

First the reprints, too many sites reprint or plagiarize content from another sites.  Folks please be original and if you do borrow something, credit the original.  There is a site online that used one of my totems and credited me.  I am glad; it is nice to know people like my stuff enough to use it.  When done like that I see it as borrowing and no problem.  Using something of mine or someone else’s and not crediting them, I see as outright theft.  On my site a few totems are based on other peoples work.  I have changed a few things, but I still credit the original folks.  As to those who mirror what is on another page with permission it is fine, but I would still like to see more original work.

Second the flash but no substance sites, come on folks enough.  There are too many non-Shadowrun sites like this.  One problem in this area is an incomplete site that includes all that the owners wishes to do, but has not gotten around to doing.  When I posted my site, I had tons of stuff ready.  I only posted links that were active, not ones I had planned to have.  Folks, before you post a site try to have a good number of stuff ready.  I have seen too many sites that are just a list of what the author intends to do.  Graphics are great, but they are just window dressing.  The meat of the matter is the source material.

Finally the same old stuff, too many sites post spells guns, equipment, and Characters (PCs and/or NPCs).  Not that I do not like these things, but too many sites are just only that.  Folks be creative.  There are things you can do that are fun.  I posted gangs, Rocker Bands, articles and anything I can think of.  Heck, at one point I was tempted to do a Ultimate Fighting type Federation with Pro-Wrestling type gimmicks.  I still may do it.  Heck someone could update the Professional Sports teams listed in the Shadowbeat Sourcebook (some teams have moved since the book and new teams have been added all together).  What I am trying to say is we need more stuff that is off the wall and interesting on Shadowrun Websites. 

I am by no means saying all Shadowrun sites are like what I am ranting about, but about forty to fifty percent are.  I have seen many good ideas, not all of them will I use or did I like.  However I liked the creativity and that the author was trying to do something new.  So those who are being innovative and having fun, more power to you.  Those who are putting out the same old stuff, try something new and let you imagination and weirdness run rampant.

Well once again is My Not So Humble Opinion.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Secrets & Lies

{Author's Note:  This is one of my Shadowrun Rants.  Some of this stuff is seriously dated}


I love concept characters as do most of my players.  A word for the wise though, if your character has a secret your Gamemaster will reveal it to the other players through a scenario.  I once had a Player get upset because I had several runs related to certain parts of her character’s background that she wanted to be left alone.  First thing if you are in my campaign any part of your character’s Background is fair game for me to utilize as an adventure hook.  Sorry Folks but most Gamemasters cannot leave well enough alone when it makes a good story.

The Character mentioned earlier was a Japanese Ex-Patriot Elf who escaped the tribulations of being interned in Yomi.  She was a Rocker Mage and was an Oyabun’s daughter.  Well I ended up creating the rest of her family including a Martial Artist Adept Ork brother who was a member of the Oni-No-Yoosoo from my Organizations page, a Yakuza Ninja sister who wanted to kill all of the abominations that shared her lineage, and a little Elven girl sister.  Needless to say I had fun with it, but the Player was upset with the Family runs.  She seemed to dislike the fact I let loose most of her character’s secrets.  However those runs were very fun for me, they helped introduce some of my favorite NPCs although now they are seriously altered.  Funny thing about this is as a Gamemaster the player in question created more havoc than I ever thought of.  She would have done the same as I if not worse.

Now I let my players know ahead of time anything they create for their background is fair game (he he he).  If you have an enemy you thought you left moving to Seattle, wrong they found you and have been tracking you down.  If you think your new identity is foolproof, it is not.  As a Gamemaster I will wait for the character to accidentally let it slip, then in comes the enemy.  Remember as a Gamemaster it is our jobs to make things tough and interesting for the characters.  It is all part of what makes Shadowrun fun.  I am not saying that everything is going to be rough.  I will let up, but just to give the characters a false sense of security

 Shadowrun follows the idea of whatever does not kill the character makes them stronger.  As a player I loved it when my Dolphin Kahuna (Hawai’ian) Shaman was hunted down by the Renraku Executive that led to Riptide leaving Hawai’i.  The whole adventure led to Riptide changing his face and his Nome de Guerre.  I thought it was a fun adventure and it made things much more interesting. Realize folks that this is just a game and let even the frustrating parts be in fun. 


That is My Not So Humble Opinion

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Shadowrun Magickal Stereotypes

{Author's Note:  This is one of my Shadowrun Rants.  Some of this stuff is seriously dated.  there are also references to various in game settings and institutions.}


OK Folks, here I go again about Magick in Shadowrun, but this time I am going to tackle the Stereotypes of Magickal Folk in Shadowrun.  I have already covered a several shamanic stereotypes.  Well, I missed a few. Here we go.

Shamans as Slobs, in the Shadowrun sourcebooks there is mention of the Odd Couple clone Vid-show called Odd Coven.  The Shaman in the Vid-show is presented as a slob and disorganized.  That is a major generalization.  I can think of a few totems that would not be that way.  Mouse, Squirrel, Cat and Eagle,  I can see as very organized, very clean, and sharp in appearance.  Fox is another that would fit this bill.  Shamans are a bit more improvisational with regards to their magick, but that does not mean that all are disorganized or slovenly. 

As to the reverse Hermetics as Neat Freaks, well not all Hermetics are the same.  I can see a few like the absent minded professor or mad scientist with notes and formulas spread out all over a room.  Ritual materials scattered in the room would be more common than some might think.  Street Mages may also more likely be less organized than their refined colleagues.

Shaman as uneducated and less worldly, I can see this in more Primitive types from remote areas.  This is the 21st Century so more Tribal types would be educated at least to High School diploma level.  I can think of a few NAN Universities that would have Doctorate Studies in Shamanism.  It may not be as common as Hermetic Studies and Ph.D.s in the UCAS, CAS and Europe, but they would be common in the NAN, African Nation and others Shamanic Nations.  

Hermetic as educated and worldly.  Well Folks I could see a few naive Mages who learned their craft intuitively or were taught by a family member.  Also I think Mages from that Lower Classes would be less likely have a Degree, especially certain Metatypes.  I think I would be uncommon to see an Ork or Troll Street Mages with a Thaumaturgaical Degree.  I can see some Street Kid Learning from some old Geezer Mage who has become a hermit in a condemned building.

Shamans as from the Lower Classes.  Think of this, a Shaman whose family have always been Shamans or Chiefs in the Tribe or some rich kid who hears the call of Dog.  The Gift and the totems do not differentiate between Rich and Poor, so you would see affluent and influential Shamans as well as those from humble beginnings and origins.  Some back to land types would shun wealth and its trappings but not all Shamans would do this.

Hermetics from the Upper Classes.  Like I said above the gift does not differentiate between rich and poor.  The sourcebooks mention Corporations going into the barrens and testing kids to recruit those magickally active into the corporate service.  Some would slip in between the cracks especially certain Metatypes, like Orks and Trolls.  I could see some late bloomers too slipping between the cracks and learning their magick after a lifetime under another path.

Remember folks, when creating a Character look at all the possibilities.  Create a few who break through stereotypes.  Have a Tiger Shaman who likes to wear silk suits and trade stocks or a Hermetic Mage who has focuses made from refuse items like old tin cans and soda pop bottles.  Everything is possible have fun letting your imagination run wild.


Well once again is My Not So Humble Opinion.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Shamanism & Shadowrun

{Author's Note:  This is one of my Shadowrun Rants.  Some of this stuff is seriously dated}


Well a friend of mine said why not do a rant on how Gamemasters and Players portray shamans.  I thought about it and figured I covered it in Magick and Munchkins.  After thinking about it, I realized that Magick and Munchkins only touched the tip of the Iceberg.  I have some trouble with some of the way that FASA has portrayed Shamanism and related Magickal Traditions.  They leave out a lot and show only a small part of the equation. 

Let me start with things FASA has overlooked.  First let it be known I have some friends that follow the Shamanic path and the Wiccan path.  I have read extensively to better understand these paths.  Shamanism is also a path that interests me greatly as well.  One of the things that bothered me is that FASA has only shown Shamanism from the point of someone born into the Culture of the tradition that they follow.  With Magick returned, the Totems and Idols would be speaking to those whose connections to that culture are not strong or the Culture’s Shamanic Tradition is lost.  Think of a Irish-American in Boston that gets a wake up call from Serpent or Bull, or an African-American in Los Angeles getting noticed by Lion or Ogun even though they had no proper contact to Shamanism or Voudoun.  I was glad how they presented that concept from the point of view of the Celtic Druids and Nature Magicians in Europe

However there are several lost Shamanic traditions from Europe I think they did not cover.  One of them is the Seidhr Tradition of the Teutonic peoples.  They followed animal totems and revered the Goddess in the form of Freya.  That tradition would have been prevalent amongst the Norse, the Ancient Germanic Tribes, and the Saxons of Great Britain.   Another idea is the Egyptians could have two traditions side by side a Nature Magick tradition and a Shamanic one.  Think of all those Animal headed gods and the like and how they would translate in a Egyptian form of Shamanism. 

I also have trouble with the manner FASA has portrayed Wicca.  They do it as strictly a Nature Magick tradition.  I see it as a mixed Nature Magick and Standard Shamanic.  One thing is many theorize that Wicca is the descendant of a European tradition of Shamanism that was Matriarchal.  In my campaign some who hear the call of Wicca also hear the call of an Animal Totem.  I could easily see a Wiccan follow Cat, Raven, Wolf, and Fox to name a few.  Some of those I know who follow that path in Real Life do follow an Animal Totem and they revere a deity.  In Shadowrun terms they would only be a Wiccan Shaman but still follow a deity.  In my campaign the rare leaders of Wicca are the Nature Magicians.  At least three out of every thirteen or so.

Back to the idea of European-Americans being called upon by a totem.  First is FASA’s view of Celtic Druids is too restrictive.  I would rather say that a Celtic Druid can leave the Islands and make new sacred circles anywhere they call home.  I think one would see groups of Celtic-Americans do just that.  Some gain tribal status as a pink skin tribe and so on.  Areas I think Groups of Celtic-American Druids would be found is in the Pacific Northwest, Boston Metroplex, Nova Scotia, New Foundland and the former Saskatchewan.  In Many Dances of Shamanism I cover many ideas of how a European-American and African-American would approach Shamanism under these circumstances.

In my tenure as a Gamemaster and Player of Shadowrun, I have seen some portrayals of Shamans that had me cringing.  First, PLEASE NO STEREOTYPICAL NATIVE AMERICANS.  I mean like, Tonto, can smell Bad guy in the Wind, Kemosabe.  Give me a break.  Native Americans are usually native English Speakers.  There is a tribal accent but today and in the Sixth World it would be very slight. 

Second, DO NOT OVERPLAY THE MYSTICAL ANGLE.  Shamanism is a mystical path, but it is very down to Earth.  Its tenants are based on being one with the Physical and Spiritual world.  In Shamanic Cultures, the Shaman is the bridge between the Real World and the Spiritual world.  Without being firmly anchored in the Physical Plane many traditions believe the Shaman would be lost in the Spiritual plane forever. 

Thirdly, NO MR. MIYAGIS.  I mean the whole idea of a mystical not get to the point till the last minute is only found in Student/Teacher relationships not between a Shaman and the general public.  And the reason for it in the Student/Teacher relationship is the Teacher is trying to teach the Student a new way of looking at the Universe.  To do this the Teacher must get past the garbage modern society has dished out to the Student. 

Fourthly, NO ULTRA-PRIMITIVE TYPES.  In Shadowrun. they exist but they are the exception not the rule.  Remember, even a Shaman grew up with TV, Guns and other modern conveniences.  I had a friend who played a Wolf Shaman, whose fellow players were surprised his character carried a Predator II.  In the Sixth World It is very rare for someone to grow up not knowing what modern technology is.  Those areas were they are unfamiliar are the most remote areas of the World and even they have been invaded by Western Man and Modern Technology.

I am not saying you cannot portray a Primitive or a Mr. Miyagi type but understand what is means and the consequences and implications behind such Characters.  Also try not to stereotype too many of the Totems.  Some have meanings one would not think of.  In Native American Lore the Wolf is the Mentor, Teacher, and Advisor as well as the Warrior and Hunter.  He would be fierce with his enemies but gentle with family and friends.  Bear can be deceptively slow, because when needed he will be extremely fast.  Ever see a Charging Bear not a pretty sight.  Plus a totem chooses a Shaman based on internal characteristics not external ones.  So one could see a big man follow Hummingbird or Mouse, or a small person follow Bull, Bear or Gator.  As Yoda said, Size Matters Not.

I covered some more of my Shamanic Pet Peeves, but by no means all of them.  So there may be more to this Tirade.  LOL 

This once again is My Not So Humble Opinion.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Magick & Munchkins

{Author's Note:  This is one of my Shadowrun Rants.  Some of this stuff is seriously dated.  There is a lot of RPG jargon in it. The definition of a munchkin from Wikipedia: In gaming, a munchkin is a player who plays what is intended to be a non-competitive game (usually a role-playing game) in an aggressively competitive manner. A munchkin seeks within the context of the game to amass the greatest power, score the most "kills", and grab the most loot, no matter how detrimental their actions are to role-playing, the storyline, fairness, or the other players' enjoyment. The term is used almost exclusively as a pejorative and frequently is used in reference to powergamers.  Powergaming, specifically min-maxing almost breaks the rules trying to make the most powerful character with the minimal points}

One thing that has driven me absolutely bonkers in Shadowrun is how Munchkins view Magick. Most want to play the dark manipulative master, who wears all black, everyone respects and fears or they play the down right combat monster mage from hell.  Yeah Right.  When they do play shamans which in my experience is rare they go for the Totems that illicit fear and foreboding. For example I have seen them play the following totems Raven, Wolf, Tiger, Wolverine, Lion, Griffin, Gargoyle, Owl, Shark and etc.  I have yet to see them play something like Dog, Mouse, Raccoon, Beaver or Rat. They first look at the bonuses and the disadvantages and find the one who has the best combat or manipulation spell bonuses.  Then they look at the prestige of the Totem, very few would lower themselves to play say a Prairie Dog Shaman or a Squirrel Shaman.  Finally it is attitude; they want the Bad Asses, the ones whose symbolism instills fear and respect.

All Munchkin Magickal types want to be feared and respected. Funny thing is in the groups I have Gm'd and played in; they become the butt of the jokes.  Most of them are cardboard, no real background or they keep the character's background from the other players and characters.  I had one Munchkin Hermetic Mage in the past that blew the identities of his team mates on his Cable Vid Show. He also cut a deal with Lonestar (the Police in Shadowrun).  Let's just say at the time both player and character were not very popular.  One thing that is a problem is most of the Munchkin Magickal types are very selfish and do not understand what Shamanism is all about.

Shamanism is about serving one's community and Totem. Most Munchkins want their characters to only serve themselves.  The player who played the character I mentioned earlier played a Celtic Raven Druid who followed the Celtic Goddess Morrigan.  This Character, who I will call BattleCrow here, fled Tir Nan Og before his enemies could kill him.  The Player understood the service part but still had to play the closest thing to a Physical Mage at the time (1st Ed and Early 2nd Ed).  He ended up creating a gang of BattleCrow wannabes who he called the Chosen, they became his community.  However the chosen more often than not served BattleCrow than the other way around.  The Player in question had to be feared, respected and idolized.  Once again his characters fell into his usual trap.  If one plays a Shaman one must choose a community to serve.  One's Tribe, One's Neighborhood, or just one's immediate circle of friends.

Another point of contention I have is most Munchkins do not get the Totem/Shaman Relationship.  When I posted my Call Of the Wild article, I had one young Munchkin ask why didn't I say instead of losing all one's magick for misbehaving just allow the Character to be a Hermetic Mage.  I tried to explain that it is a  punishment that the character becomes a Mundane for blowing it.  A character must not be rewarded for not following his totem, so when he loses it all it should be ALL. No Magick.  He becomes blind to that part of him and it is meant to be a bad experience, almost self destructive.  Now I did not come up with all of this from my imagination. I read much of Shamanic Lore and learned that this was the least of the typical punishments.  Most Shamanic Cultures say if a Shaman loses his magick he dies.  This is due to how magick is tied to the complete essence of the Shaman.  To disobey one's Spirit Teacher is to pay the ultimate price according to Most Shamanic Cultures.  In the Article I do have rules to get another Totem, but the road is hard and rough.   The Shaman has to prove to the Totem that they have REALLY learned their lesson and WILL NOT REPEAT their previous mistakes.

Most Munchkin Shamanic types I have seen hate any restrictions and will fight rules like those covered in Call of the Wild.  Most of the Munchkins I know though are good role players and when they take a Totem they follow the Totems restrictions and personality.  But some of them have not understood the nuances of some of the Totems. Among many Native American Tribes Wolf is seen as the Elder, Teacher and Mentor, not just the Hunter and Warrior many portray.  When Playing a Shaman I suggest you try to find out the symbolic meanings of the animal see what all that the Totem could encompass.  When I did it I learned more than I thought I ever could about Shamanism and Totemism.

Well that is my not so Humble Opinion.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Nobody Tricks a Trickster

{Author's Note:  I thought the concept of the Trickster needed some more time lent to it.  This is due to its prevalence in multiple cultures.  I did my best.}

The Trickster is one of the most universal of magickal archetypal figures.  The Trickster exemplifies the use of cunning and trickery over force.  The Trickster is also seen as the fool, the jester and the Joker.  He makes fun at the problems of society.  His role is to show society what is wrong so that it can be solved.  The Trickster is found in one form or another in most cultures around the world.  The Trickster rarely takes things too seriously or is rarely seen as serious.  However the Trickster can be serious when needed.

The Trickster always has his own agenda, which does not always fit with the plans of those around him.  Due to this, the Trickster is seen as chaotic, unpredictable and self serving.  Many times the Trickster has the greater good in mind, but since he is unconventional, his methods are always in question.  Not all forms or Aspects of the Trickster are benevolent, some are very malevolent.  In many ways the Trickster is the true neutral, and when viewed the standards of mainstream society he seems malevolent. 

The Trickster tends not to be one for direct conflict.  Trickster uses his mind and fights through trickery and cunning.  Sometimes though the Trickster tricks and fools himself into trouble.  The Trickster has a big ego, he knows he is cunning and thinks he can outsmart anyone.  That however is not always true. 

The Following are various Trickster Totems.


Coyote

Grandfather Coyote is known as the Trickster in the Southwest, Great Plains and parts of the Pacific Northwest in North America.  He has been shown in the modern character of Wyle E. Coyote.  He was the one who gave fire to the Native Peoples; he was the schemer, whose schemes sometimes blew up in his face.  Coyote still had to try.  Coyote many times did the wrong things for all the right reasons and the right things for all the wrong reasons.  Coyote is definitely more of the Jester form of the Trickster.


Raven/Crow/Magpie/Rook/Blue Jay

Raven and his Corvid cousins, Crow, Magpie and Rook, are the more mysterious and enigmatic of the Trickster totems.  Raven is found in Celtic, Norse, Aleut, Inuit, Pacific Northwest, and other Northern cultures.  Crow is found in most cultures around the world.  They are seen as unpredictable, less jester, more cunning.  Modern examples are Heckle and Jeckle.  Raven and his cousins’ agendas are shrouded in mystery.  Sometimes through their actions they seem to be evil or malevolent, especially Raven.  Raven and the other corvids are operating through a bigger picture. 


Hare/Rabbit

Hare and/or Rabbit are the Tricksters to the Southeast North America, British Isles and Scandinavia.  Rabbit is a symbol or sexuality and madness.  Hare is more non-confrontational.  Hare sneaks his way out of trouble.  He is seen as the jester and joker.  However Hare rarely has things blow up in his face.  Hare comes off as harmless and many underestimate his power.  Bugs Bunny and Brer Rabbit are examples of Hare as Trickster


Fox

Fox Trickster is found mostly in Europe and Asia.  He is cunning, sly and intelligent.  Fox also has a dark side; he does not take defeat well.  In Asia he is seen as malevolent and evil.  Fox overestimates his own abilities since his is very overconfident and arrogant.  Fox prefers to use his mind than brute force.  He is less comical and more shrewd.


Spider (Anansi)

Spider is Trickster to many African, Southwest and Great Plains tribes.  Spider is more mysterious and shrouded in shadow.  Spider is seen with motives beyond what anyone could ever understand.  In African and Afro-Caribbean cultures Spider is the male Anansi. To the plains tribes she was Inktomi. To the Pueblo tribes she was Spider Woman, To the Kiowa she is Spider Grandmother.  The spider was also the symbol of the Fates of Greece.  She is the great weaver and trapper of others.  She tricks her prey into entering her web.


Monkey

Monkey is Trickster in the Amazon, Africa, Central America and Asia.  In China he is the Monkey King who removed his people from the book of mortality in the Celestial Court.  Monkey is both hero and jester.  He is very similar to Coyote in that his schemes sometimes backfire and blow up in his face.  Monkey uses is mind, but is also a fighter. In Asia there is a Monkey style of Kung Fu.  Monkey like all tricksters prefers cunning to brute force.


Loki

Loki was the Norse God of Mischief. Loki was the malevolent trickster.  Loki was the Father of Lies.  Loki used his abilities to cause confusion, chaos, death and destruction.  Loki was a troublemaker; he was always scheming to best one god or another.  Loki is either the Adversary or the Trickster Idols.  His Followers more often than not are toxic.


Pan/Puck

Pan was the Greek God of Fertility and the Wild.  Pan was an impish deity who enjoyed having fun with others.  Pan did not care about the consequences. Pan was also seen according d to some  as the Fairy being of Puck or Robin Goodfellow.  Puck is well known from the Shakespearean play Midsummer Night's Dream.   Puck is sometimes seen like pan with the legs of a goat.  Both are masters of mischief, but though they can be malevolent at times they are generally seen as benign.  Pan is represented by the Horned Man Idol.


Dionysus/Bacchus

Dionysus was the Greek God of Fertility, Frivolity and Wine.  Dionysus was at times seen as a God of divine madness.  Although not the stereotypical Trickster, he was known for being cunning and sly.  Plus like many Tricksters he could be benevolent one minute and malevolent the next. Dionysus is represented by the Wild Huntsman or Bacchus Idols.


Hermes/Mercury

Hermes was the Greek God of Mischief, Travelers, Thieves, Luck and the Messenger of the Gods.  Hermes was known for his notorious practical jokes.  Hermes was also very magickal and seen as the master magician.  Hermes was a benign form of the Trickster. When he wronged a god with his trick, he compensated the offended god with a gift or favor.  Hermes was a quick wit and stout friend. Hermes is represented by the Magician or Trickster Idols.


Others


Other Trickster possibilities are Badger (Japan), Maui (Trickster, Polynesian), Susanoo (Trickster, Adversary, Japan), Krishna (Trickster, Dragonslayer, India), and Legba (Voodoo).  These are the most common ones.  One thing to remember Tricksters are always an enigma, because they seem to be up to something.  Others around them are always guessing what comes next.  What neat trick will the trickster come up to save their bacon, what joke will backfire, or are they the victims of the next scheme?  Trickster Shamans are much like their totems and idols.  They have very few allegiances, but to themselves.  Those around a Trickster types are going to wonder if the Trickster is just using them.   So, members of the same team of a Trickster Shaman are going to be suspicious of the shaman's schemes, plans and motives.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Tree & Plant Shamans

{Author's Note:  This Originally was half of an Article on Tree and Plant Totems.  Since I am not re-posting the Totems I thought I would put the section on the concept here.  This did include three possibly controversial Totems, Marijuana, Tobacco and Peyote.  I included them because of their meaning among certain cultures. I included a disclaimer that I did not condone the use or abuse of these substances and I included them because of major cultural and spiritual impact.}

Tree and Plant Shamans have a different approach than the conventional Animal Shaman.  One is the use of plant matter.  A Tree or Plant Shaman or Druid will use a preponderance of plant matter for Foci and Fetishes.  They are known to use Stones and Metals too, however they never use animal products such as furs or bones.  The use of plant materials includes the practice of herbalism both magickal and medicinal.  Examples of foci used are like wooden staves, wands or woodwork amulet and the like.

Another difference is Sacred Ground instead of Medicine Lodges.  These areas are consecrated by the individual Shaman.  The Materials to do so are the same in cost as materials fro a Medicine Lodge.  The Sacred Ground can be a Sacred Grove, Field, Garden, or Orchard.  The Sacred Ground must always be in the favored environment of the Totem and include example of the Totem plant or tree.  A Tree or Plant Druid though has another option in Sacred Ground in a circle of standing stones or any other typical Druid Sacred ground.  The Druidic Sacred Ground does not need to be of the same environment as the Totem.

Another difference in approach is how Spirits present themselves to the Tree or Plant Shaman or Druid.  The Spirits rarely take human form.  They look like the elements, plant or animals.  For example a Mountain Spirit would look like a Mound of rock and earth with a semi-humanoid form or a Forest Spirits would look like a Human looking tree or a Field Spirits would look like a plow horse.  Although accumulatively these differences are mostly subtle, they need to be realized.

Another difference between Tree or Plant Shamans or Druids and standard Shamans is that all plant shamans can summon Manitous, otherwise known as Spirit of Wood.  They gain this ability at the expense of one class of Nature spirits, usually either spirits of MAN or of the LAND.  This difference allows the Tree or Plant Shaman or Druid to summon Spirits that are connected to the greenery of nature.  Even a Cactus can summon a Manitou since even the desert has vast vegetation (tumble weeds, brush, cacti and etc.).  Shamans of Cultivated Plants, although no longer as strongly connected to the Land, can still summon Manitous.  This shows that though these Plants have a stronger connection to Man, they are still inexorably connected to the circle of all vegetation.

  

Saturday, June 21, 2014

What's My Line?

{Author's Note:  If you see some Idols, and Totems you do not recognize it is Okay.  I was Totem and Idols happy in the old days. I used to make tons of Totems and Nature Magick Idols. I am not re-posting those.  That is because I am 2 Editions of the game behind.  I even had Plant and Tree Totems.}

Shamans come in many flavors and many walks of life, the standard archetype does not account for a shaman's life path just their spiritual path.  Each Shaman has a specialization based on his occupational area of expertise.  By looking at the shaman's occupation, one creates a more rounded character.  The following are a few examples of professions found amongst the Shamanic community. 


     Healer: This is the Medical Area.  A Shaman of this Path can be a Doctor, Physician, Medic, Nurse, Naturopath, Herbalist, and Psychologist.  The path is involved in Healing others and serving the community of the Shaman.

(Totem Examples: Totems(Antelope/Gazelle, Bear, Bison/Buffalo, Blackbird, Bull, Cow, Deer, Dolphin/Porpoise, Dove, Dragon/Serpent/Wyrm, Elephant, Elk, Falcon, Frog, Goat/Ram, Gull, Hippopotamus, Horse, Iguana, Koala, Leopard/Black Panther, Leviathan, Lizard, Mink, Otter, Parrot, Pegasus, Phoenix, Pig/Sow, Polar Bear, Python, Stag, Toad, Turkey, Turtle, Unicorn, Whale, Wildcat) Idols(All Father, Great Mother, Sea King, Sun God)Plant Totems(Apple, Ash, Birch, Elder, Heather, Mistletoe, Oak, Willow)


     Protector: This is a path dedicated to protecting people.  A Shaman of this Path can be, a Bodyguard, a Security Guard, a Police Officer, a Parks Ranger, an Environmental Activist, a Metahuman Rights Activist, a Fire Fighter and Etc. The Path is in Involved in protecting either the community of the Shaman or Society at large.

(Totem Examples: Totems(Ant Eater, Armadillo, Baboon, Badger/Brock, Bat, Bear, Bison/Buffalo, Boar/Warthog, Bobcat, Bull, Buzzard/Condor, Chameleon, Cheetah, Cow, Coyote, Crane/Heron, Crocodile/Croc, Crow, Deer, Dingo/Warragal, Dog, Dolphin, Dove, Dragon/Serpent/Wyrm, Duck, Eagle, Elephant, Falcon, Fox, Frog, Gargoyle, Gator/Alligator, Giraffe, Goat/Ram, Goose. Goose/Nene, Gorilla, Griffin, Gull, Hawk, Horse, Hound, Iguana, Jackal, Jaguar, Kite, Leopard/Black Panther, Lion, Lizard, Monkey, Moose, Mouse, Orca/Killer Whale, Osprey, Owl, Pegasus, Phoenix, Pig/Sow, Plumed Serpent, Polar Bear, Porcupine/Hedgehog, Prairie Dog, Puma/Cougar/Panther/Catamount/Mountain Lion, Raven, Rhino, Robin/Redbreast, Rooster/Cockerel/Cock, Salmon, Sheep/Ewe, Snake, Squirrel/Chipmunk, Stag, Tiger, Toad, Turtle, Unicorn, Vulture, Walrus, Whale/Kohola, Wildcat, Wolf, Wren, Zebra) Idols(All Father, Bright Maiden, Creator, Crone, Dragonslayer, Firebringer, Great Mother, High Priestess, Horned God, Lover, Magician, Moon Maiden, Sky Father, Sun God) Plant Totems(Alder, Ash, Birch, Blackthorn, Hawthorn, Hazel, Holly, Oak, Reed, Rowan, Silver Fir, Spindle, White Poplar/Aspen, Willow, Yew)


     Artist: This is a path involved in Artistic expression of one kind or another.
Most Shamans have artistic outlet, but Shamans of this path it is the whole life.  A Shaman of this path may be a Painter, a Sculptor, a Writer, a Poet, a Musician, a Singer, a Dancer and etc. 

(Totem Examples: Totems(Aardvark, Anaconda, Ant Eater, Antelope/Gazelle, Armadillo, Baboon, Bat, Beaver, Bison/Buffalo, Blackbird, Blue Jay, Bobcat, Cat, Chameleon, Cheetah, Chicken, Chimpanzee, Cobra, Coyote, Crane/Heron, Crocodile/Croc, Crow, Deer, Dolphin/Porpoise, Dove, Dragon/Serpent/Wyrm, Duck, Fox, Frog, Gecko/ Mo'o, Giraffe, Gopher, Grouse, Hare, Hummingbird, Kangaroo, Kite, Koala, Kookaburra, Leviathan, Lizard, Lynx, Manta/Stingray/Ray, Mink, Monkey, Opossum/'Possum, Ostrich, Otter, Parrot, Penguin, Phoenix, Platypus, Polar Bear, Porcupine/Hedgehog, Prairie Dog, Puma/Cougar/Panther/Catamount/Mountain Lion, Python, Rabbit, Raccoon, Raven, Scorpion, Seal/Sea Lion, Skunk, Snake, Spider, Stag, Swan, Toad, Tortoise, Turtle. Unicorn, Walrus, Whale, Zebra) Idols(Creator, Crone, Firebringer, Great Mother, High Priestess, Horned God, Lord of the Underworld, Lover, Magician, Sea king, Sun God, Wild Huntsman) Plant Totems (Alder, Apple, Ash, Birch, Elder, Furze, Hawthorn, Honeysuckle, Ivy, Rowan, Vine, White Poplar/Aspen, Willow, Yew)


      Warrior: This Is the Path of the Warrior involved in the arts of war.  A Shaman of this path is a Soldier, Police Officer, Environmental Activist, a Shadowrunner and etc.  Shamans of this path are involved in direct conflict and resolving it most likely by force.

(Totem Examples: Totems(Badger/Broc, Bear, Boar/Warthog, Bobcat, Bull, Cat, Cobra, Cheetah, Croc/Crocodile, Crow, Dingo, Dog, Dragon/Serpent/Wyrm, Eagle, Falcon, Gargoyle, Gator/Alligator, Goat/Ram, Goose, Goose/Nene, Gorilla, Griffin, Hawk, Horse, Hound, Hyena, Jaguar, Kite, Kookaburra, Leopard/Black Panther, Lion, Lynx, Manta/Stingray/Ray, Orca/Killer Whale, Osprey, Owl, Plumed Serpent, Polar Bear, Puma/Cougar/Panther/Catamount/Mountain Lion, Python, Raven, Rhino, Rooster/Cockerel/Cock, Scorpion, Shark, Skunk/Polecat, Snake, Stag, Tiger, Walrus, Weasel, Whale/Kohola, Wildcat, Wolf, Wolverine/Glutton) Idols(Bright Maiden, Dragonslayer, Horned God, Master of Destruction, Moon Maiden, Sea King, Sky Father, Sun God, Warrior, Wild Huntsman) Plant Totems(Birch, Hawthorn, Holly, Oak, Rowan)


     Seeker: This is the path of a Shaman looking into Spiritual Exploration.  This path involves Astral Exploration, looking into oneself and seeing where it leads.  These are the most spiritual of the Shamans.  They are always pushing the spirituality farther and farther to see where it leads.

(Totem Examples: Totems(Aardvark, Anaconda, Baboon, Badger/Brock, Bat, Bear, Bison/Buffalo, Blackbird, Bobcat, Cat, Chameleon, Cobra, Coyote, Crane/Heron, Crow, Deer, Dingo/Warragal, Dog, Dolphin/Porpoise, Dove, Dragon/Serpent/Wyrm, Eagle, Elephants, Falcon, Fox, Frog, Gecko/Mo'o, Grouse, Hare, Hawk, Horse, Hound, Hummingbird, Iguana, Jackal, Jaguar, Kangaroo, Kite, Koala, Kookaburra, Leopard/Black Panther, Leviathan, Lion, Lizard, Lynx, Manta/Stingray/Ray, Monkey, Moose, Mouse, Opossum/'Possum, Orca/Killer Whale, Osprey, Ostrich, Otter, Owl, Pegasus, Penguin, Phoenix, Pigeon, Platypus, Plumed Serpent, Polar Bear, Porcupine/Hedgehog, Prairie Dog, Puma/Cougar/Panther/Catamount/Mountain Lion, Python, Quail, Rabbit, Raccoon, Rat, Raven, Robin/Redbreast, Rooster/Cockerel/Cock, Salmon, Scorpion, Seal/Sea Lion, Snake, Spider, Squirrel/Chipmunk, Stag, Swan, Tiger, Toad, Tortoise, Turkey, Turtle/Honu, Unicorn, Walrus, Whale/Kohola, Wildcat, Wolf, Wren) Idols (All Father, Bright Maiden, Creator, Crone, Firebringer, Great Mother, High Priestess, Horned God, Lord of the Underworld, Lover, Magician, Moon Maiden, Sea King, Sky Father, Sun God, Wild Huntsman) Plant Totems(Alder, Apple, Ash, Beech, Birch, Blackthorn, Elder, Hawthorn, Hazel, Heather, Honeysuckle, Mistletoe, Oak, Rowan, Silver Fir, Vine, White Polar/Aspen, Willow, Yew)
    

     Counselor: This is the Path of the Advisor.  Shamans of this path can be a Teacher, a Psychologist, a Political Analyst, a Scholar and etc.  Shamans of this path are behind the scenes helping those who have need of their advise and counsel.  They are anything from political to personal counselors.


(Totem Examples:  Totems(Aardvark, Baboon, Badger/Brock, Bat, Bear, Bison/Buffalo, Blackbird, Bull, Cat, Cow, Coyote, Crane/Heron, Crow, Deer,  Dingo/Warragal, Dog, Dolphin/Porpoise, Dove, Dragon/Serpent/Wyrm, Eagle, Elephant, Falcon, Fox, Frog, Hare, Hawk, Horse, Hound, Iguana, Jaguar, Kangaroo, Kite, Koala, Kookaburra, Leopard/Black Panther, Leviathan, Lion, Lizard, Lynx, Manta/Stingray/Ray, Mouse, Monkey, Opossum/'Possum, Orca/Killer Whale, Ostrich, Otter, Owl, Pegasus, Phoenix, Pig/Sow, Pigeon, Platypus, Plumed Serpent, Polar Bear, Prairie Dog, Puma/Cougar/Panther/Catamount/Mountain Lion, Python, Raven, Robin/Redbreast, Rooster/Cockerel/Cock, Salmon, Seal/Sea Lion, Snake, Spider, Squirrel/Chipmunk, Stag, Swan, Toad, Tortoise, Turkey, Turtle/Honu, Unicorn, Weasel, Whale/Kohola, Wildcat, Wolf, Wren) Idols (All Father, Bright Maiden, Creator, Crone, Firebringer, Great Mother, High Priestess, Horned God, Lord of the Underworld, Lover, Magician, Moon Maiden, Sea King, Sky Father, Sun God, Wild Huntsman) Plant Totems(Alder, Apple, Ash, Beech, Birch, Blackthorn, Elder, Hawthorn, Hazel, Heather, Honeysuckle, Mistletoe, Oak, Rowan, Silver Fir, Vine, White Polar/Aspen, Willow, Yew)


     Skulker: This is the path of those whose dwell on the edge of the shadows. Thieves, Assassins, Stalkers and Etc. 

(Totem Examples: Totems(Bat, Blackbird, Black Panther/Leopard, Blue Jay, Bobcat, Cat, Chimpanzee, Coyote, Crane/Heron, Crow, Dragon/Serpent/Wyrm, Fox, Gecko/Mo'o, Hare, Hummingbird, Hyena, Jackal, Kookaburra, Lizard, Lynx, Mink, Monkey, Manta/Stingray/Ray, Mouse, Opossum/'Possum, Otter, Owl, Platypus, Prairie Dog, Puma/Cougar/Panther/Mountain Lion, Rabbit, Raccoon, Rat, Raven, Scorpion, Seal/Sea Lion, Snake, Spider, Squirrel, Weasel/Ferret) Idols (Crone, Firebringer, High Priestess, Lord of the Underworld, Lover, Magician, Moon Maiden)


     Scholar: This is the path of the searcher of knowledge on the physical plane. Very much like the Seeker, but more interested in knowledge of a less spiritual nature.  This is the Path of Anthropologists, Historians, Linguists and Etc.

( Totem Examples: Totems(Aardvark, Anaconda, Baboon, Badger/Brock, Bat, Bear, Bison/Buffalo, Blackbird, Bobcat, Cat, Chameleon, Cobra, Coyote, Crane/Heron, Crow, Deer, Dingo/Warragal, Dog, Dolphin/Porpoise, Dove, Dragon/Serpent/Wyrm, Eagle, Elephant, Falcon, Fox, Frog, Gecko/Mo'o, Grouse, Hare, Hawk, Horse, Hound, Hummingbird, Iguana, Jackal, Jaguar, Kangaroo, Kite, Koala, Kookaburra, Leopard/Black Panther, Leviathan, Lion, Lizard, Lynx, Manta/Stingray/Ray, Monkey, Moose, Mouse, Opossum/'Possum, Orca/Killer Whale, Osprey, Ostrich, Otter, Owl, Pegasus, Penguin, Phoenix, Pigeon, Platypus, Plumed Serpent, Polar Bear, Porcupine/Hedgehog, Prairie Dog, Puma/Cougar/Panther/Catamount/Mountain Lion, Python, Quail, Rabbit, Raccoon, Rat, Raven, Robin/Redbreast, Rooster/Cockerel/Cock, Salmon, Scorpion, Seal/Sea Lion, Snake, Spider, Squirrel/Chipmunk, Stag, Swan, Tiger, Toad, Tortoise, Turkey, Turtle/Honu, Unicorn, Walrus, Weasel, Whale/Kohola, Wildcat, Wolf, Wren) Idols (All Father, Bright Maiden, Creator, Crone, Firebringer, Great Mother, High Priestess, Horned God, Lord of the Underworld, Lover, Magician, Moon Maiden, Sea King, Sky Father, Sun God, Wild Huntsman) Plant Totems(Alder, Apple, Ash, Beech, Birch, Blackthorn, Elder, Hawthorn, Hazel, Heather, Honeysuckle, Mistletoe, Oak, Rowan, Silver Fir, Vine, White Polar/Aspen, Willow, Yew) 

This is by no means all of the possibilities.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Feuds, Friends & Totem Relations

{Author's Note:  This article is more about interaction than game mechanics so not much editing done.  Also I snuck in some in game references.}

One of the things people forget is that not all the Totems and their Shamans get along with each other, some have long lasting feuds and  others get along well with others.  The pattern usually follows with Nature.  Rivals in Nature are Rivals in the spirit world too.  Prey Totems tend to distrust Predator Totems.  A Mouse Shaman is not going to trust a Cat Shaman as far as he or she can throw them.  Usually if the Prey Totem is the Prey of the Predator Totem in Nature there is the distrust from the Prey's side of the relationship.  If the Prey and Predator in question have no connection in Nature like Puma and Kangaroo the distrust is lessened to a degree.  Also Size matters in the Prey/Predator Relationship.  Example Moose Shaman is not going to think a Cat Shaman or Weasel Shaman is a threat. Some Herbivore Shamans are not afraid of Predator Shamans due to their size, for example Rhino, Elephant and Whale.  These animals have almost no predators but Man.  In fact most Predators avoid these Animals. 

Another dynamic in Nature is the Rivalry like Puma and Wolf, Otter and Eagle.  These Totems do not necessarily have a feud going on but, they do not care for each other because they are usually in competition with each other for resources.  So if the totems in question actively compete for Prey in Nature they usually do not get along and try to get one up on the Shaman of the rival Totem.  The two totems are not actively out to get or destroy each other.  They dislike each other and want to show they are better than the other, but it is not personal.

The Active Feud is always based on whether the Prey can fight back against the Aggressor Totem.  One example of this is the Dolphin and Shark relationship.  They hate each other. Sharks eat Dolphins, but Dolphins can defend against the Sharks and kill the Sharks by tipping them over.  Another well known feud is between Cat and Dog totems, they distrust and rivalry there has built into a hatred since in Nature Dogs eat Cats in some circumstances.  Some Prey Totems will ally themselves with the Rival of their Predator Totem as happens with Dog and Mouse.  These Feuds go to the death sometimes.  In the Pacific Islands Groups of Shark and Dolphin Shamans have been known to create Total Destruction in the wake of their feud. And in Africa the Hyena and Lion Feud has destroyed whole areas.

Some Totems never create positive relations with other Totems and are fairly Magickal loners.  These Totems rarely get along with others let alone other Shamans.  Their totems are the Brutes of Nature, Crocodile, Gator, Tiger, Shark, Wolverine and the like.  They are usually Vicious and Destructive Totems and that is also why most other Shamans stay away from them unless there is an on going feud.  Others are just hard to be around due to habits like Vulture, Hyena, Rat and the like.  They are usually the Carrion Eaters of Nature, they involve themselves in things most Totems would rather not know about.  However due to this they are perfect for Shadowrunning.  They will do what others will not no questions asked and are not as morally indignant as other Totems.

Some Totems get along due to their being of related species.  The members of the Canine Family, Wolf, Coyote, Dog and Fox, tend to get along and will help each other if it does not create a conflict of interests.  The Raptor Family (Falcon, Hawk, Eagle, Kite, and Osprey) the Feline Family (Lion, Cat, Puma, Lynx and Etc.), the Rodent Family (Mouse, Beaver, Squirrel, and Etc), and the Cetacean Family (Whale, Orca and Dolphin) are also examples of these kind of related species.  Some of these species have the Rivalry situation but it is more like sibling rivalry.  The rivalry is due to the fact the two related species compete for the same resources in Nature, example Lion and Cheetah.  So like Siblings they would try to one up each other but if you get between them watch out.  These Related species will got to bat for each other against others Magickal or otherwise. 

These kinds of dynamics can help players create interesting Team Dynamics either positive or negative.  It can also help a Gamemaster create Rivals, Enemies, Allies, Contacts and Family for the Characters.  These relationships provide good opportunity for interesting Role Play.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Call of the Wild

{Author's Note:  This one does have game mechanics, this was based on 2nd Edition rules.  The concepts still work.  They mirror what many Shamanic Cultures do.}


For Shamans their Totem is the sum of their magick ability.  It is through their connection to their Totem (for Nature Magicians it is their Idol and for Houngans it is their Mait Tete) that they can cast spells or conjure spirits.  This connection, according to the lore of Shamanic Peoples, is so strong that should a Totem abandon the Shaman, they believe the Shaman would die.  In the Shadowrun rules it is not totally shown how strong the connection between Shaman and Totem can be.  When the Totem calls upon the prospective Shaman they make an agreement to mentor and teach the Shaman the ways of Magick and the Spirits.  Basically the Totem teaches the Shaman everything he needs to know about magick.  Part of that agreement is that the Shaman will offer his services to the Totem when the Totem asks.  The Totem agrees to also guide and protect the Shaman at any given time.  The same holds true for the Idol of the Nature Magician and the Mait Tete of Houngan.

According to some Shamanic beliefs one starts with a Totem that watches over the Shaman when they are a youth.  Once the Person becomes an Adult, another Totem takes over the task of guiding the Shaman.  So it is possible for a change in Totems in an amicable manner.  This happens when a radical change occurs and the original Totem knows that another is needed to continue the Shaman's training and protection.  This happens after certain things occur to cause a radical change in the Shaman's outlook in life.  For Example a Wolf Shaman decides to become a Total Pacifist after killing a child in an accident.  Since Wolf is not a pacifistic Totem, Wolf would guide the Shaman to a new Totem say like Dove or Turtle to incorporate the radical change in the Shaman.

The Totem will come to the Shaman and ask that certain things be done with no questions asked.  As for example, a Shaman will be asked to show up at a certain time and place and deliver a message to someone the Shaman does not know.  The Totem can also initiate quests and Shadowrun for the Shaman to complete as part of their Mentorship of the Shaman.  The relationship between the Totem and the Shaman is one of complete trust.  The Shaman must Trust that the totem has his/her best interests in mind.  When a Totem give direct advice or gives the Shaman a directive, i.e. a restriction or warning from certain behavior, it is best that the Shaman obey, which is known as a Taboo amongst the Polynesians and a Geas amongst the Celts.

If the Shaman does not obey a direct order, the GM should treat it as a violation of the Totem/Shaman agreement.  The Shaman therefore loses his/her Totemic advantages till they rectify things with the Totem.  The manner in which things can be rectified are by Astral Quest, doing a task for the Totem, or going through the proper purification ceremony. After the proper things are done the Totem will then return the Totem Bonuses to the Shaman.  However the next time the Shaman misbehaves the Shaman will lose a Magick point per offenses as well as advantages.  This also goes for behavior by the player that goes against the Totems Archetype.  A player should remember that the Totem is also the personality Archetype of the Character as well.  This is all found in the Shadowrun 2nd Edition page 123. 

In order to recover the Magick points the Shaman must complete a purification ceremony, a task for the Totem or an Astral Quest.  The difficulty of the act of penance to the Totem is gauged by the amount of lost Magick points.  The larger the loss the tougher the redemption.

When the Shaman has misbehaved so much to lose all his Magick points and therefore lose his Magick and all Magickal Potential, He risks death.  Due to the Trauma of sudden loss of Magick the Shaman must make a Body Test(4) if they get two successes they Shaman survives the Trauma.  If the Shaman does not get two successes, the Shaman dies because of the Trauma of having all his Magick pulled from him/her.

The surviving Shaman can try to find another Totem to take him/her.  However the other Totem will be reluctant.  They will figure if he/she would not listen to his/her first Totem why would he/she listen now.  So the Shaman must go on an Astral Quest much like a Physical Adept would.  The Shaman must make a Charisma Test(10), four successes and the Shaman finds a new Totem.  Other wise no Totem/Idol/Mait Tete will listen to the Character.  If he does find a Totem the Shaman starts at three Magick point and  must complete a Quest to regain his total Magick points.  If the Shaman misbehaves once with the new Totem he/she loses both his/her Magick and must make a Body Test(8).  The Shaman needs four successes to live otherwise he/she has blown it for  the last time.  If they live they will live the remainder of their days as a Mundane.

The Rules I have stated are optional for the GM, but they help expand things to follow the Lore about the Relationship of the Totem and Shaman according to the Beliefs of Shamanic Cultures.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Modern Idols

{Author's Note:  This Article is a different view of Nature Magick Idols.  Idols are like totems, but instead of animals they represent mythic archetype i.e.: Drangonslayer for Thor and Hercules, Horned God for Pan and Cernunnos, Sky Father for Zeus and Odin, and Great Mother for Gaia.  Here I went a little crazy.  I took the ideas of the collective unconscious, popular culture influencing magick and Nature Magick Idols, and ran with it.  The idea of someone following Superman or Elvis as an Idol was fun.  Brother Ardu was one of my Campaign contacts.  An University Professor and Dog Shaman.  Most of this is an in world explanation.}


>>>>>{Well, folks it turns out that one of the cutting edge discoveries in Shamanic Magick was spearheaded by a local Denizen.  Our very own Brother Ardu is a Professor of Shamanism at Pacific University and has been doing research on a somewhat new Shamanic Phenomenon.  It is called Modern Idols, these are Shamans who follow idols based out of figures from Popular Culture.  The Following is excerpts from his lectures and research papers.  So without further delay here is Bro A.}<<<<<
     --------SysOp(00:31:40/12-14-60)

      As everyone knows Nature Magicians follow Idols; those Idols are based on Mythological figures: Gods, Heroes, Villains, Angels, Saints and the like.  One theory I have had is that since Shamanic Magick is partly based on belief of the practitioner so anything could be possible.  One possibility I have thought of was, that a Shaman or Nature Mage could follow a Totem based not only the Mythos of the Distant Past but also the mythos of the Present and recent Past. 

With the introduction of Self-Created Traditions to Magickal Theory, a lot has been opened up.  I however, before that possibility came to light, kept saying that certain Modern Archetypal figures were more than likely to manifest themselves in the form of Idols.  In the last few years I have been able to amass examples of Nature Magicians who follow new Idols whose Aspects are from Modern Culture: Comic Books, Literature, Movies, and some Modern Celebrities.

Many of the Modern Idols when initially discovered were seen as self-created traditions.  With further time it was shown they were not, when unrelated Nature Mages began following the Idols.  Most of the Idols I listed are from Western Culture.  They are rarely found outside of North America and Europe. These new Shamanic types I refer to a Mytho Mages.  The Archetypes they follow are part of our modern collective consciousness and have become an integral part of our cultural identity.

Mytho Mages do not use Medicine Lodges per se they use what they call sacred spaces or shrines.  These areas are dedicated to the Aspect of their Idol they follow.  Most of the materials can be seen as simple everyday items but once again they need special consideration due to their importance to the Mytho Mage.  Besides, a 20th Century era comic book intact or a movie poster from the same century is fairly expensive as well.


Champion

The Champion Idol is based on the Heroic Archetype of the Superhero figure.  Most specifically tit is he one that fights for Truth, Justice and the American Way.  The Idol protects the weak and loathes corruption.  The followers of Champion tend to prefer the direct approach and are not skilled in subtlety.  The followers of Champion cannot allow an injustice go unpunished, they will go at any length with in their strict codes of honor to rectify the matter. 

I discovered a group of Champion Mages in Seattle that called themselves the Scions of the House of El.  They seemed to follow the aspect of the Champion known as Kal-El, which I believe is the comic book figure Superman.  Another one I met in my research called the Sentinel followed the Champion in the Aspect of Captain America.  At first I thought these were two different Idols but my research proved that the Archetypes were too close for that.


Avenger

The Avenger Idol is about waging war on Evil and Crime.  It is about protecting society from within the Shadows.  An Avenger Mage prefers not to fight in the open.  They are masters of Fear Tactics and Subtlety.  They are also extremely obsessed with their chosen crusade, whether it be against corrupt officials, crime syndicates, BTL dealers, Drug Trade, Gangs, or polluters.  The common thread amongst all Avenger Mages is they have a personal crusade against a facet of crime, corruption or evil.   Common Aspects are The Shadow, Batman, Daredevil or the Darkman.


Amazon Princess

The Amazon Princess is a unique idol in that its followers are only Female.  The Amazon Princess is the Protector of all women regardless of race, color creed.  She is the embodiment of the protective side of the female spirit.  She is strong and a warrior, but she is also the champion of peace and is known for her calm demeanor. She is strong and forceful, but does not lose any of her femininity in such instances.  Her two main aspects are Xena and Wonder Woman.


The Wild Child


The Wild Child is based on the Archetype of a human raised by wild animals.  The Archetype itself is seen as a Shaman and most shamanic cultures would follow the same totem as the Aspect.  However since the Followers are from Urban areas they use the Wild Child as a way to get back to Nature.  The Wild Child is one born of Human Culture that is thrust upon the Wild and must find balance.  Wild Child's Followers try to emulate that experience.  Common aspects of Wild Child are Mowgli and Tarzan.


Sleuth

The Sleuth is the finder of truth and exposer of evil deeds.  He is an Idol that exemplifies the need to solve the unknown.  Like the Idol his Followers are eccentric and often mysterious themselves.  The Sleuth does not allow his prey to know what he is up to.  Not only can he see through deception he uses it himself to aid in his objective to fight evil.  A few examples of the Sleuth's aspects are Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple, Inspector Poirot, Lieutenant Columbo, and Jessica Fletcher.


King of Rock and Roll

This Idol is one of the few based on a real person.  This idol is based on the legendary musician Elvis Presley.  Yes, folks Elvis. The followers of this Idol exemplify The need to entertain and help their fellow man.  They are very loyal to family ties both by blood and by choice.  There is a large concentration of followers in The CAS, especially in and around Memphis.


Secret Agent

The Secret Agent Idol is based on the Archetypal figure of the Agent who protects his or her nation from threats, both within and without.  The Secret Agent is a charmer and quit wit.  The few Followers of this Idol I have met usually work for the Government of their homeland.  Although most of the common Aspects are British, the Idol does not differentiate based on National origin.  The British government once discovering the existence of this Idol has been actively recruiting its followers for service in its various Intelligence agencies.  The most common Aspects are James Bond, John Steed, Emma Peel, Napoleon Solo, Illya Kuryakin, Matt Helm, and Danger Man (also known as Secret Agent Man and the Prisoner).


The Force

This Idol is based on the philosophy of George Lucas' Famous Film series Star Wars.  The Force is seen as the binding force of all life.  It is the creative and nurturing side of nature.  The followers of this Philosophy say that fear, hate, jealousy and other negative emotion cause disruptions in this delicate balance.  These followers are often referred to as Jedi, like the followers of that belief in the Lucas works.  The followers of the Idol do not see direct manifestation of their Idol, instead they are presented with images of the heroic Jedi from the Movies, books, Comic books, Vid-games and other Star Wars Material from Lucas Ltd.  Toxic versions of this Idol are referred to as Sith.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Many Dances of Shamanism

{Author's Note:  This article went through 3 different versions.  This one is missing the Magickal Tradition write ups.  That goes into game mechanics territory.  It still gives you an idea what can be done.  This also includes a lot of in world information.  The main concept is how Shamanism is shaped by magick returning.}
   
Shamanism comes in many styles and many traditions. With the advent of the awakening, people of the non‑shamanic cultures have discovered that they too hear the voices of the Totemic spirits. Among those of European descent there are several paths to follow. The first is the Way of the Land, it is a path that follows the cultures native to the land. So the Non‑Native follows Native American practices and usually studies under a Native Elder of the same or compatible totem. The shaman adopts native ways and beliefs and usually is adopted into the tribe of his or her Teacher. This Way is full of challenges based on the fact the shaman was not born to the culture and is somewhat an outsider.

Another path is the Way of the Lost Tradition. Shamanism also existed in areas outside of the stereotypical spectrum of Shamanic cultures (such as Native American, African, Australian Aboriginal, Siberian, and Pacific Islander). Europe had several shamanic Cultures, the Druidic Celts, the Teutonic peoples, the Lapps, and the Scythians. Shamans of this path follow those cultures and work to rebuild those traditions which have been lost. The Shamanic Celtic Druids have been covered nicely in the Media because of their high profile in the British Isles. Another tradition is Seidhr the Norse shamanic tradition. Scholars believe it was matriarchal, in that most of its leaders and members were women. They followed the Norse Goddess Freya, but also were known to follow animal spirit guides.
Among the Lost traditions there are both traditional shamanic traditions and Nature magick traditions. The following are examples of both:
     Egyptian Tradition: Following the Pantheon of Egypt for the most part it is a Nature Magick tradition. Though there are those who follow the animal totems.
     Asatru: A Norse tradition following the Nature Magick tradition following the Teutonic Pantheon.
     Seidhr: A Teutonic Tradition following the standard Animal Totem practices and worshiping the Goddess Freya.
     Celtic Druidic Tradition: A Standard Animal Totem that also follows the Celtic Pantheon.
     Olympian Tradition: A Greco‑Roman Tradition following the Nature Magick Traditions of the Olympian Pantheon.
     Slavonic‑Russian Tradition: A Nature Magick Tradition following the Slavonic‑ Russian Pantheon.
     Mesopotamian Traditions: Nature Magick Traditions follow the Mesopotamian Pantheons.
     Finnish‑Ugrian Tradition: A Nature Magick Tradition following the Finnish‑Ugrian Pantheon.


 There are many other Traditions being discovered by Anthropologists and Archaeologists.

Another Path is the Way of the Goddess, it is based on the multicultural religion of Wicca. Wicca also known as Witchcraft believes in the Earth Mother Goddess. Many in this path are also practitioners of Nature Magic and follow the idols of that style of Shamanism. This Path also includes many who follow both Animal and Plant Totems as well. Wicca is a religion in which the Goddess and her consort, the God, are revered. Those of the Path of the Goddess can follow a number of different cultures, for example Egyptian, Norse, Celtic and so on. There are also separate traditions of Witchcraft based on different cultures like the Italian Strega. Typical Animal Totems include Cat, Raven, Owl, Wolf, Stag, Bull, Cow, Snake and others of the same vein.  This path owes its traditions to the religious movement of the late 20th Century and to the Authors of that movement such as Starhawk, Raven SilverWolf, the Farrars, Raymond Buckland, and etc.
Among the Traditions of the Way of the Goddess are the following:
     Teutonic Witchcraft: Very Similar to Seidhr.
     Strega: An Italian Tradition of Witchcraft.
     Gardnerian Tradition: A form of Witchcraft heavy in Nature Magick Elements, but Hermetic. Founded by Gerald Gardner in England after World War II.
     Dianic Tradition: A Matriarchal and Feminist From of Witchcraft. Some Covens are strictly Female. If Co‑ed all the leadership is female.
     Celtic Wicca: Celtic Tradition, same mythos as Celtic Shamanic Druids but include Nature Magick as well as standard Animal Totemic Shamanism.
     Seax‑Wica: Founded By Raymond Buckland and based on Saxon Beliefs.
     Pictish Witchcraft: Scottish Witchcraft very similar to Scottish Druidic Practices.

Note: There are many more Traditions in both the Way of the Lost Tradition and the Way of the Goddess these are just a few and are in no way all out there.

The Final path is the Way of the Spirits, The shaman gets his direction from the Totem itself. This is extremely rare because the totem takes on an even more active involvement in the shaman's life. Everything comes from the Totem. These shamans are the visionaries and they usually introduce new styles, rituals, ideas and methods. All shamans get direction from their totem, but shamans of this path are almost micromanaged by the totem. These shamans are very intuitive and an increasing number of European‑American shamans are coming from this path. Maybe this is a sign of another new Shamanic tradition being created in the Sixth World. A lot of Urban Shamans come from this school.

The most covered shamanic tradition is the Native American but the Africans are also known for shamanism. There are several totemic cultures such as the Zulu, Masai, Swahili and the !Kung(Bushmen of the Kalahari). They have their own rituals, rites of passage that differ from the Native American, but are similar to each other. The Yoruba's traditions are the basis for Voudoun, with spirits like the Loas/Orishas of Voodoo. With the advent of the Awakening some African‑Americans of a shamanic nature found themselves drawn to their Ancestral ways. They gravitate towards either Voudoun or the African Shamanic tradition.

Some African Americans also follow the Ways of the Land, most of those shamans are the Creoles of Louisiana and the South who also have Native American heritage. In the Salish‑ Shidhe and Sioux Nations there is the NuZulu Nation. Their traditions are an amalgamation of Native American and Tribal African ways (mostly Zulu, Swahili and Masai). They were granted tribal recognition by the Salish‑Shidhe and Sioux Nations. They feel a strong connection to both North America and Africa, so they show reverence to their dual nature. They all feel the call of the African Totems.

In Asia there is also a tradition of following Animal Totem spirits. Most notable of this tradition is the use in Marital Arts where a Martial Arts Physical Adept or a Martial Artist who is a Magician takes an Animal as the Basis for his Marital Arts Style. When this happens the Martial Artist(Adept or Magician) has the Animal's spirit guiding him as his/her spirit guide. In Asia The Martial Arts Path is a Spiritual and Magickal One. Many European‑American and African‑Americans have taken the Asian Shamanic Path as their own since the Mid‑20th Century. One Prime Example of this is the amount of Shao‑Lin Kung Fu Animal Stylists.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Shadowrun & Me

{Author's Note:  This was a Blog article from my main blog, The Recovering Ubergeek.  Since it spells out my history with this game I thought I was re-post it here as well.}

My favorite Table Top Role-Playing Game of all time is Shadowrun.  My history with it is storied.  First, I need to explain what the Shadowrun setting is.  Shadowrun mixes two genres Cyberpunk and Fantasy. For the uninitiated Cyberpunk is a genre of Science Fiction.  Cyberpunk is in the near future usually less than a hundred years.  Key elements are cybernetics/bionics, the ability to directly connect the human mind to the internet and the power of Mega-corporations usurping the power of nations.  It uses elements from Hard Boiled Detective stories, Film Noir and Nihilism.  Shadowrun is set in the 2060 to 2070’s where magic has also returned.  People are born Elves and Dwarves or suffer Goblinization, which results in becoming Orks or Trolls.  The Mega-Corporations are the true power in this world.  When magic came back cultures that had magickal traditions regained power.  In North America this meant the rise of Native American Nations who break off from the US and Canada.  The game is primarily set in Seattle, which is part of the remainder of the US and Canada (they unified), however it is surrounded by the Native American Nations.  The game is Cyborgs, Elves, Dragon, Hackers (called Decker in the game), Wizards, Shamans, and Bio-Tech.  It is a brave new old world.

The game first came out in 1989 and I was into it from the start.  My first campaign however was in the setting, but not the rules.  My roommate at the time preferred Hero System rules, same rules as those used in the Superhero RPG Champions.  He used other settings but always used those rules.  I played in that campaign from 1990 till 1991.  When I moved from Eugene and back to the Portland area, I ended up with a new gaming group.  This is when I starting using the rules that came with the setting.  Our main Gamemaster and I alternated running the game so each of us got to play.  Generally, I was the head Gamemaster for Shadowrun. My areas of expertise were Metahumans (the catch all term for non-human humanoids), Magic (specifically Shamanic Magic), and the Native American Nations.  I loved the research, which lead me to discover Neo-Paganism and Shamanism as personal spiritual paths.  I did not like dealing with the personal politics.  At one point my players decided to try to get rid of an annoying character.  When the plan failed and the Player of said character got upset, everyone turned on me.  This pointed out some of my social limitations.  I had players that wanted their character histories to be hush hush, and they became upset when I fleshed it out in scenarios.  I was with that gaming group for four years.  When I left, I was made to feel I was stabbing people in the back.  I left for the most part because going became a chore.  It was no longer fun.


I still kept my Shadowrun game books and novels.  I was still buying the newer sourcebooks.  In 1997, I started a Shadowrun website called Dreamsinger’s Circle.  The site was mostly stuff about the Shamanic Magic tradition in the game.  I included new totems, new cultural paths, new takes on Shamanism itself, and articles about various Shamanic subjects.  For the uninitiated, in Shamanic lore the totem is the spirit animal that a Shaman embodies.  I expanded the site to included rants and campaign setting materials from my own campaigns.  I gained a decent following in both the online Shadowrun community and the AOL gaming community.  I never got into the various attempts at Shadowrun video games.  At the time, I did not have a video game console or a PC that was up to specs.  I continued working on my site.  In December of 1998, I bought the newest Magic Sourcebook and found many of my ideas in the book; the concepts were universal enough that one could claim independent inspiration.  However I knew the Author was a fan of the site.  It just left a bad taste in my mouth.  It stung especially when I had failed multiple times to convince FASA, Shadowrun’s publisher to take me on as a contributor.  I should have tried to publish in various gaming magazines before trying to submit something directly to the publisher.   I was young and impetuous.  In 2000, I decided to close the site and I sold most of my Shadowrun gaming books.  I figured that I had spent enough time and effort playing in someone else’s sandbox.  I decided that I would try to concentrate on my own creations.  Life happened and I still need to work on those. Now with a new lease on life possibilities are endless.  I will tell you this; I still love that world and its concepts.  It gave me an outlet that helped me hone my writing skills.  In many ways Dreamsinger’s Circle was the prototype for this blog.  This Has Been My Not So Humble Opinion.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Eyes Wide Awake

{Author's Note:  This was written in world, as a look how after 50 or 60 years what perceptions about magick were and what pre-conceptions were broken.}

When magick returned and the sixth world began, there was a backlash in various communities.  The one hit the hardest of course was the pagan community.  Figure this, the community always believed in magick, however not everybody has the magickal gene.  Some Wiccan covens and hermetic circles were lucky and every member was magickal, but this was the exception not the rule.  There was a group of new age shamans called the Circle of the Drum.  After the Awakening it was learned only one person in the group was a magickally active and was a shaman.  That person turned out to be the daughter of one of the members, a 13 year old.  The Circle was discredited and broke up.  Another group, the coven known as the Children of the Stars, discovered that their High Priest and Priestess were the only non-nature mages in the Group.  This of course lead to a re-configuring of the coven's structure.  Groups that thought they were wholly Hermetic had shamans and nature mages awaken and vice versa.

Incidents like these shattered the pagan community.  Many neo-pagan traditions dissolved due to the fact that there were no real practitioners in their organization.  The Awakening also validated those who had always believed and knew they were different.  Once the smoke settled the remainder of the pagan community was stronger and much more stable than before.  The Awakening vindicated many Pagan beliefs, but shattered others.  Some left the neo-pagan beliefs due to the fact they did not become magickal.  Other still believed and realized that the magickally gifted were the leaders of their beliefs which still needed a congregation.

The shamans that this kind of experience happened to were those who did not follow a cultural tradition.  After looking at some of the precepts one learns, they followed some assumptions that the Awakening proved false.  One assumption that some of these groups had was that everyone who followed their beliefs should be magickally gifted.  In the pre-Christian groups they emulated not everybody was a priest, shaman or druid.  The post Awakening Pagan Community learned this and those who survived it accepted it.  This did affect the size of the pagan community which shrank after the Awakening.   As stated earlier the resulting Pagan communities were stronger in faith and the Awakening trimmed many congregations of those who sought to fleece the gullible. 

It also trimmed the pagan communities of those who dabbled in pagan beliefs.  This led to a situation where the pagan communities were stronger in their beliefs and faith.  After those who were not serious left the various pagan beliefs many newly magickally active folks started to investigate the various pagan beliefs.  This led to the present situation where over 60% of the pagan communities are magickally active.

Another assumption was one chose his or her totem or idol.  Some of those who Awakened learned that they heard the call of a totem or idol other than what they had assumed prior to the Awakening.  Any present day shaman or nature mage will tell you that the totem or idol chooses its shaman or nature mage, not the other way around.  Many of these people had not been taught a cultural tradition, they followed books or made things up on their own.  One belief of the pagan and new age groups that was vindicated was the existence of the mythic totems, like Unicorn, Wyrm, and Phoenix.  Many orthodox shamanic communities scoffed at the idea, but the new age and pagan communities were vindicated when they were proved to exist.

Another assumption that was shattered was that some pagan groups had the belief that there was only one "proper" way of doing things.  This assumption was shattered.  Since members of each pagan belief had magickally active members in them.  Before the Awakening certain groups of each pagan religion had conflicts over ritual and proper style.  After the Awakening many of those arguments were made moot. 

The Post-Awakening pagan communities and religions now have a solid foot hold in the Sixth world.  There are pagan groups in almost every UCAS and CAS state or province.  The pagan renaissance is now in full affect in Europe and North America.  As the magickally active community grows it is believed that the pagan communities and religions will grow.