View Full Version : Ancient Artifacts & the Occult: Yay or Nay?

2016-12-13, 04:33 PM
Hi everyone,
I'm planning to run an occult detective campaign set in an alternative history Earth and I'm in the process of making resources for it - monsters, extra classes, gear choices, etc. My chassis is DnD 5e so there's a lot of adjustments that need to be done, but I'm not complaining. As I'm making them I do my best to make them as readable as possible, eventually turning them into PDFs to put online.

Well, now that the background's out of the way, I've been wondering as of late. My group (and me) are suckers for paranormal fiction - stuff like DC's Constantine, the Preacher and the X-Files definitely flow our boat, but I'm curious, what's the general consensus when it comes to stuff like that in the DnD community?

Well, it may be a bit difficult to understand what I mean by that... let's say, as an example, that the party is searching for loot in an ancient abandoned temple and they find the Shroud of Turin. My group would probably welcome that as a very interesting drop and wonder what to do with it next. Do you feel the same, or do you feel like your ground would get offended by that? Heck, if you're not running an Earth game it can be used just as easily, just call it the Shroud of Tyr and have it do the same thing.
Let's say that instead of, as the DM, saying 'I cast Magic Missile', you mumble something in Babylonian or Assyrian (ancient dictionaries are a thing, surprisingly!). Annoying or potentially fun for roleplaying? You get the idea.

Additionally, how do you feel when it comes to 'sensitive' items and cultures? I'm pretty sure that almost nobody on this planet will get offended if you character is wearing the Cloak of Hades, but let's say that a character is attempting to summon a demon straight out of the Lesser Key of Solomon... heck, I almost feel like the majority of the population will get offended at that. Do you feel like there are certain lines that shouldn't be crossed? Ancient mythology is almost always politically correct, while recent (especially Abrahamic) traditions always raise an eyebrow. We all remember the Book of Vile Darkness and how that went down and that was all fictional. Then again, Vertigo comics went way, way further with something like Constantine (I would quote them but I'd rather not get banned for offensive content. Yep.) and it got turned into a TV series. Is there something about roleplaying that just makes it better off without those aspects?

I know this is a bit more loose ended than I originally planned, but I feel like this could be a fun discussion. Thoughts?

2016-12-15, 05:17 PM
As a general statement, I'd say sentiments probably vary from group to group and whether or not, and to what degree, sensitive topics should be used in a game is something that should be discussed prior to the game. I personally would be somewhat offended by real-world religious artifacts being referenced (though probably not with analogues in a fake religions, i.e., Shroud of Tyr) and would be really creeped out and ask the DM to stop if the DM had an NPC reading from an occult book in the real world (that is, if the DM was reading the words to summon a demon from a book, not just saying "the cloaked man reads from the Key of Solomon the words to call forth the demon"). Some players or DMs might not be okay saying the words a particular PC or NPC might say, when referring to real-world religions, even if the character itself would do that. (Example: DM was speaking for the Tyrant of Los Angeles in an oWoD game, and wasn't cool with RPing out what the demon would say when asked about his opinions on Christianity, so the DM just described it briefly.)

Outside of religion and occult works, things like sexuality and rape should be talked about beforehand if you are considering them being in the game (or if there's a chance a player will bring it up). In my group, we had a fade to black rule about sex (no RPing it, but fine if it happens as long as no details).

But I'm sure many others differ. In general, what lines should be crossed depends on the group.

For lesser things like babbling in ancient, real-world languages, I think it would be cool flair, but potentially be annoying since, OOC, you'll probably be asked "So, did they cast Magic Missile, or what? I'm pretty sure my Arcana check can tell me." For most groups, slows down the game and is more effort than it's worth. Some groups may also be creeped out if you are trying to mimic actual ancient prayers or spells.

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