Page 2 of 6 FirstFirst 123456 LastLast
Results 31 to 60 of 163
  1. - Top - End - #31
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Bohandas's Avatar

    Join Date
    Feb 2016

    Default Re: What folklore inspired creatures have really changed from their original versions

    Quote Originally Posted by Arbane View Post
    In D&D, dragons. Most (European) dragons of legend were exceptionally dangerous beasts tearing up the countryside, not intelligent spellcasting treasure-hoarding masterminds. (Well, Fafnir hoarded treasure, but I don't think he could talk.)
    I think Fafnir could talk. If not necessarily in his dragon form then certainly in his dwarf form.

    EDIT:
    According to Wikipedia it seems he does talk while in dragon form. While dying he tells Sigurd of the curse on his gold.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arbane View Post
    Ogres. In some of the fairy-tales I remember, they're intelligent and often magical - a far cry from D&D's moronic brutes. They did still eat people, though.
    That type of ogre is in D&D as well as the "Orge Mage"

    Speaking of ogres, IIRC "Orc" was originally just a variant or cognate of the word "ogre"

  2. - Top - End - #32
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    WolfInSheepsClothing

    Join Date
    May 2018

    Default Re: What folklore inspired creatures have really changed from their original versions

    Quote Originally Posted by AceOfFools View Post
    I'm quite sure druids were part of non-Irish Celtic groups on the island of Britain (I have no idea of there were bears in Britain or not). I was under the impression that there were some in Gaul, but the citation given for that fact on Wikipedia was flagged with "not in citation" when i checked.
    They were druids in Gaul, according to Posidonus, writing in the second century BC. Also according to Caesar, but he mostly use the writing of Posidonios and is testimony may be less than reliable in the specifics of druidism as he mostly used the writings of Posidonios so he seem to have used second-hand informations already old by is lifetime.
    Diviciacos, the only person named as a druid in antiquity is mostly described as a military and political leader, also a diplomat and the main animator of the roman faction in the Aedui, a celt group from central Gaul.

    The picture of druids as a pan-deltic sacerdotal class is really problematic. Their knowledge and philosophy is hinted in classical sources but this early organisation seem to have disappeared by the time of Caesar.
    Also the oldest account are known only by second-hand retelling. So for example we are not sure if the institutions described by Caesar were a local practice from the second century that he expanded to all the Gaul because it fitted with how romans understood the country at this time.

    Cicero, the famous orator, at the same time, used some similar arguments to win one of his trials. At the same time, the picture of Diviciacos that he write after having him as his guest is really nuanced but clearly don't fit with the picture of the white-bearded font of wisdom.

    The Irish and welsh mythologies are about a thousand years younger. Note also that Celtic civilisation is younger in this part of Europe than in the continent. Also as I said, it is unclear how the institutions were connected in Celtic Europe. It tend to relativise the idea of Britain as an island of Druid in roman time.

    But my point is that a continuity of institutions is really unlikely and mythologies would also be greatly different.
    So I'm not sure what would be called a druid then. As the Celtic corpus was again mostly written by christians monks, and thus heavily rewritten, it is not unlikely that they would use romans concept to frame the society and give it more prestige.

    Also there is at least a famous transformation in welsh mythology, around the poet Taliesin and the tale of Gwion Bach ap Gwreang, one of his first name according to some versions.

    And then again by the XVIII-XIX century, the Celtic corpus would be reactivated for a lot of reasons, from romanticism to the invention of nationionalism but also because the concept of folklore was invented, leading to the idea of collecting and making sense of those stories.

    You know, that's a lot like a huge river, at first you have small sources, little flow of images that come together, thus also consolidating the banks, making the image stronger and stronger. At some point it become a truism. But then the banks are dissolving, the image is mocked, parodied, it loose forces, like in a swamp or a delta.
    The image is dissolving but ready to start the cycle again.

  3. - Top - End - #33
    Colossus in the Playground
     
    Eldan's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Switzerland
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What folklore inspired creatures have really changed from their original versions

    Quote Originally Posted by Arbane View Post
    Ogres. In some of the fairy-tales I remember, they're intelligent and often magical - a far cry from D&D's moronic brutes. They did still eat people, though.

    Goblins. A synonym for 'fairies'.

    In D&D, dragons. Most (European) dragons of legend were exceptionally dangerous beasts tearing up the countryside, not intelligent spellcasting treasure-hoarding masterminds. (Well, Fafnir hoarded treasure, but I don't think he could talk.)
    And most dragons in medieval artwork seem to be the size of a dog, to maybe the size of a horse at most.
    And if you gaze long into an abyss, sometimes the abyss blushes and looks away.

  4. - Top - End - #34
    Pixie in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jul 2015

    Default Re: What folklore inspired creatures have really changed from their original versions

    Most of the creatures that you find in D&D bear little resemblance to their folkloric source creatures. Even the creatures based on Tolkien's critters aren't very close to the folklore versions, since Tolkien changed a lot of things and took some very vaguely defined beings from mythology and fleshed them out to work with his world.

    Two of my favorite examples of D&D creatures who barely resemble the folklore and myths they were based on are ghouls and the various varieties of djinn. They are very different than the ones in Middle Eastern myth, and (frankly) a lot less interesting overall.

  5. - Top - End - #35
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Knaight's Avatar

    Join Date
    Aug 2008

    Default Re: What folklore inspired creatures have really changed from their original versions

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    That type of ogre is in D&D as well as the "Orge Mage"
    Kind of. There's some weirdness to the particulars of the ogre mage that doesn't make a lot of sense based on that version of the ogre. Most of it suddenly snaps into place the instant you notice that the ogre mage was called an oni in previous editions.
    I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums.

    I'm not joking one bit. I would buy the hell out of that.
    -- ChubbyRain

  6. - Top - End - #36
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Griffon

    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Taipei, Taiwan

    Default Re: What folklore inspired creatures have really changed from their original versions

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    No, there are no bears in the British Isles (barring zoos and the like). Otherwise living here would be unbearable.
    Oh boy

  7. - Top - End - #37
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Anonymouswizard's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    In my library
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What folklore inspired creatures have really changed from their original versions

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    And here I thought it was a Britain only thing
    To be fair to my ex she's French, grew up in France, and we originally met soon after she started her year in England. She knew that the Britons had had Celtic priests, she just thought we used another word for them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    Kind of. There's some weirdness to the particulars of the ogre mage that doesn't make a lot of sense based on that version of the ogre. Most of it suddenly snaps into place the instant you notice that the ogre mage was called an oni in previous editions.
    IIRC even when it was called an Oni it was still pretty weird for what it was supposed to be. But we've come to expect that and it's not even a terrible thing, chagning creatures to add more playability or mystery is great. Although some of the changes in D&D don't actually do either.

    I would go through my 2e Monstrous Manual and pull it apart change by change, but I don't know my folklore well enough.
    Snazzy avatar (now back! ) by Honest Tiefling.

    RIP Laser-Snail, may you live on in our hearts forever.

    Spoiler: playground quotes
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

  8. - Top - End - #38
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    gkathellar's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Beyond the Ninth Wave
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What folklore inspired creatures have really changed from their original versions

    Some of it comes down to the specificity thing. Terms like ogre and oni are generally pretty vague, and folklore generally doesn’t worry about which version is canon. Most cultures have a word for monsters that are big and strong and human-shaped and wicked, but the details are usually up for grabs.
    Quote Originally Posted by KKL
    D&D is its own momentum and does its own fantasy. It emulates itself in an incestuous mess.

  9. - Top - End - #39
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Anonymouswizard's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    In my library
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What folklore inspired creatures have really changed from their original versions

    Quote Originally Posted by gkathellar View Post
    Some of it comes down to the specificity thing. Terms like ogre and oni are generally pretty vague, and folklore generally doesn’t worry about which version is canon. Most cultures have a word for monsters that are big and strong and human-shaped and wicked, but the details are usually up for grabs.
    I've come to have the belief that goblin, fairy, (aes) sidhe, troll, oni, and similar 'generic' words that basically mean supernatural creature can pretty much be considered direct comparisions. You know what something is? Cool, but if you don't you'll call it a troll or a fairy or a goblin because that's your culture's word.'

    I'm considering turning goblins in my setting into evil stereotyped Englishmen just to mess with the word's origins. Your average goblin here drinks tea, is skilled in the longbow, has an accent strangely reminiscent of RP, have a few other quirks that only make sense if you're an Englishman stereotyping the English, and a pack of them is referred to as a 'club'.
    Snazzy avatar (now back! ) by Honest Tiefling.

    RIP Laser-Snail, may you live on in our hearts forever.

    Spoiler: playground quotes
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

  10. - Top - End - #40
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Saratoga Springs, NY
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What folklore inspired creatures have really changed from their original versions

    Quote Originally Posted by Epimethee View Post
    ...
    The picture of druids as a pan-deltic sacerdotal class is really problematic.
    ...
    Fair. It'd be quite like both the Romans and people that construct consistent rules for ancient mythologies to apply the word they knew to similar concepts that may have undergone significant drift over time and distance.

    And, regardless of the specific forms used by druidic shapeshifting, the idea of them being magical champions of nature isn't accurate to their classical literature or what i know of later mythology.
    I consider myself an author first, a GM second and a player third.

    The three skill-sets are only tangentially related.

  11. - Top - End - #41
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    MindFlayer

    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What folklore inspired creatures have really changed from their original versions

    Sometimes you can even get words for creatures that have nothing to do with the original legend at all. Take “Wights” for instance. That’s an Old English word originally used mostly to mean person, human, or man. But an individual by the name of William Morris in the 19th century was translating an old saga and sought to make a more english-like substitute for the norse Draugr, revenant-like undead of Norse and Germanic mythology, and chose to call them Barrow Wights (essentially “people of the barrow” or “people of tombs”). After Tolkein copied that, the rest is history. “You see a wight.” “Every time I look in the mirror, yes.”

    And sometimes, the legends even overlap. The word “elf” is related to the german word alp, for “nightmare,” making it close to legends of incubus, nightmares, and bogeymen. Witch and vampire are near synonyms in traditional Romanian mythology. Most dragons of old were also massive snakes, hence “wyrm.” I’d love to use these older forms and play with player expectations a bit
    2B or not 2B, that is... a really inane question

  12. - Top - End - #42
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Zombie

    Join Date
    May 2010

    Default Re: What folklore inspired creatures have really changed from their original versions

    In D&D, a doc cu'o'c is a kind of creature. It's 5 feet tall and looks like a man cut in half vertically. It has one arm and one leg and wields a magic lightning ax.

    The original story is Vietnamese. Độc Cước was a unique giant that lived in a small village. He used his great size and strength to help the people of his village. He helped plow fields, clear land, and did other work. He also used a tree cutting ax to fight against monsters that attacked the village.

    One day, the village was attacked by red-nosed goblins that approached from two directions: by land and by sea. Độc Cước was in the classic comic book situation of having to choose who to save. Does he run up the hill to fight the invaders from the mountains or does he head down to the beach to face the invaders from the sea? He solved the dilemma by using his ax to cut himself in half so he could be in two places at once. Half of him went up to fight the mountain goblins and half of him waded into the surf to fight the sea goblins.

    He saved the village and then the two halves of him went out to patrol the area around the village to keep it safe. He didn't come back to the village again, but the people made a shrine to worship him as a hero-god and there are big divots like giant footprints in the stone cliff overlooking the sea where Độc Cước walked while on patrol.

  13. - Top - End - #43
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Bohandas's Avatar

    Join Date
    Feb 2016

    Default Re: What folklore inspired creatures have really changed from their original versions

    Gnomes, IIRC, were originally spirits of elemental earth

  14. - Top - End - #44
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    FathomsDeep's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2018

    Default Re: What folklore inspired creatures have really changed from their original versions

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    In full 'woman of the fairy mounds', unless I'm very much mistaken. A Bean Sidhe would watch over a family and, as I remember, let out a wail when one of them was about to die.
    Um, actually, (because I had to)
    Bean Sidhe is in fact Gaelic for "white fairy". And she was quite certainly always a type of monster. Sidhe refers to fairies. "People of the mounds" is I think an extreme transliteration, since legendarily, the fairy people were tricked into living underground through a shady contract that would grant them half of the land, leaving out precisely which half they were to receive.

    The white lady, or wailing woman has taken various forms over centuries, but they always fortold doom. She may in fact be an oblique reference to the wailing of Macha, and the curse she inflicted on the men of Ulster. (Macha was forced to race on foot against horses while heavy with child, and won the race, then died in childbirth, cursing the men of the region to feel the pangs of labor whenever they were in the hour of their deepest need.)

    The bean sidhe is said to either appear to a family to presage the death of a family member who is far from home, or to appear near the home of one presaged to die, though not necessarily appearing to the doomed individual. Later, it was told that to hear her cry was to hear one's own death knell, but I don't think that's a very big change.

    She is also sometimes confused with the bean nighe, the "washer at the ford", who is a hag or ghost who lingers in water near crossroads, washing bloody linens of either those about to die, or of children who died before birth. (Seeing her was also a terribly ill omen.)
    Last edited by FathomsDeep; 2018-10-13 at 02:29 AM.

  15. - Top - End - #45
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    FathomsDeep's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2018

    Default Re: What folklore inspired creatures have really changed from their original versions

    Unicorns are a favorite of mine. Pliny wrote that “The unicorn is the fiercest animal, and it is said that it is impossible to capture one alive. It has the body of a horse, the head of a stag, the feet of an elephant, the tail of a boar, and a single black horn three feet long in the middle of its forehead. Its cry is a deep bellow.” From which, it's not impossible to surmise, he was refering in fact to a rhinoceros.

  16. - Top - End - #46
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    gkathellar's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Beyond the Ninth Wave
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What folklore inspired creatures have really changed from their original versions

    Quote Originally Posted by FathomsDeep View Post
    Um, actually, (because I had to)
    Bean Sidhe is in fact Gaelic for "white fairy". And she was quite certainly always a type of monster. Sidhe refers to fairies.
    That's not so clear. While Sidhe means has come to mean fairy in the present day, this doesn't seem to have been the case historically. Non-static language etc etc.
    Quote Originally Posted by KKL
    D&D is its own momentum and does its own fantasy. It emulates itself in an incestuous mess.

  17. - Top - End - #47
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    FathomsDeep's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2018

    Default Re: What folklore inspired creatures have really changed from their original versions

    Quote Originally Posted by gkathellar View Post
    That's not so clear. ((link ommited because I'm a GitP newb)) While Sidhe means has come to mean fairy in the present day, this doesn't seem to have been the case historically. Non-static language etc etc.
    I believe to be most accurate we'd have to discuss it with a native speaker, who is also a scholar of etymology. *lol* It's a tangled language, and I am fairly certain there are few if any native speakers left in the world. Still, from all I can determine, the word síd or sídh refers to the landscape feature, and sídhe, to those entities believed to dwell within. Interesting also to note that sídh could historically also mean woman or breast, which may have referred to the shape of the hill, rather than any supernatural trait. Still, while your disagreement has merit, I would challenge the reading of "bean sídhe" as "woman of the hill", if only for the sake that it omits the critical bean or ban, which denotes a crucial difference between the beansídhe and, for example, the leanann sídhe, sídhe la na gig, and other varieties which might be called "women of the hill". (Likewise, the initial notion implies that sídhe refers both to the woman, as an entity, and to a hill. Most likely, this issue has become steadily more complex as the language dwindled, owing to failed interpretation of non-native speakers.)

  18. - Top - End - #48
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Clistenes's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What folklore inspired creatures have really changed from their original versions

    The list is enormous...

    D&D elves have nothing to do with mythological elves. Tolkien based his elves on Irish Tuatha de Danann, Scottish Aos Si... etc., but he wanted to give them a more familiar name, so he picked "elf"... he latter regretted his choice deeply, since traits from folklore's elves leaked into the popular image of Tolkien's elves (like, for example, pointed ears) and at the same time, the popularity of Tolkien's elves "corrupted" the folklore...

    Kobolds are very different too. In German folklore kobolds are dwarf-like, gnome-like or imp-like, their traits changing wildly from one version to another, but the most common traits are: Kobolds are small humanoids (the look like tiny old men or children or deformed dwarfs) with bird (chicken or goose) feet who can become invisible (it's their natural state) and often help humans working for free for them, either as housekeepers, farmhands or as miners, but will leave if offended. They can perform magic, and in some versions they can change leaves into gold. In some versions they are demons, in other they are fairies, and in other they are the souls of dead children.

    Ghouls are a kind of ogre-like demon-like creature in Arab folklore. They are deformed humanoids with a mix of animal traits (claws, hooves, bat wings, beaks...etc.). They eat dead corpses.

    Orcs were an original creationg of Tolkien. It is believed their name is based on Beowulf's orcneas, which are believed to be some kind of evil undead... Tolkien just wanted a catchy name for his ogre-like, hobgoblin-like evil race.

    But the "species" that have been warped most by D&D are... gods. D&D has convinced the general public that gods need human faith in order to survive. You will find that idea in all kinds of modern pop culture. Ancient people did never believe that their gods needed faith to survive... at most, they believed that gods needed to eat, and fed them with sacrifices, but it was blood what fed the gods, not prayer...

    D&D dwarves on the other hand, are very similar to Nordic folklore and mythology's. I think it is due to how much information on dwarves we can find in the old Eddas, as opposed to elves. Tolkien basically copypasted them with few changes (making them less divine and more mundane).
    Last edited by Clistenes; 2018-10-27 at 03:30 PM.

  19. - Top - End - #49
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    DruidGuy

    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Location
    IRL
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What folklore inspired creatures have really changed from their original versions

    Quote Originally Posted by FathomsDeep View Post
    I believe to be most accurate we'd have to discuss it with a native speaker, who is also a scholar of etymology. *lol*
    Well, I'm not much of a scholar of etymology but I am a native speaker of Gaeilge (Irish). I don't speak Gáidhlig (Scottish Gaelic, and yes I know the accent is the wrong way around there but I've an Irish keyboard so it's the best I can do) but they are fairly closely related languages that exist on a continuum of dialects. So let me give this a shot. I'll say that the literal translation is "woman of the mounds" or "woman of the barrows" but a better translation in terms of capturing the meaning is "fairy woman".

    First off, let's clarify what the variations on the word are. The original term in Old Irish was ban síde, the modern Irish is bean sí and the modern Scottish Gaelic is (I believe) bean síth. The most common variant people use in the English speaking world is probably bean sídhe (with or without the accent) which I think comes from an 18th century text - so it's somewhere in the middle. It's very possibly someone with more modern Irish just transcribing the word according to a more modern standardized form, putting the "e" into bean and adding the "h" to indicate the softened sound in sídhe that may have been represented by a diacritic or simply left up to the reader to understand in older written forms. Think about how we'd separate out the words if we were transcribing something originally written in scriptio continua. From now on I'm going to be including the "h" in sídhe because not marking this distinction feels weird to my modern sensibilities. As far as I can tell, all of these are pronounced identically by the way - the same as the English banshee, at least the modern Irish definitely is. If there's a Scottish Gaelic speaker or scholar of Old Irish on here who'd like to correct me on that one, please jump in!

    Now, ban sídhe does NOT mean "white fairy". This is a common misunderstanding coming from the fact that Irish word for white is bán which looks very similar to the old word for woman ban and they're identical if the accent is ignored as often happens in transcriptions into English. This is made more complicated by the fact that the modern Irish for woman has an altered spelling, bean. Further, sídhe does not mean fairy. A sídh (sídhe is the plural) refers to a burial mound or ruined fort of ancient peoples that legend says is a doorway into the/an Otherworld where (at least some of) the aos sídhe ("people of the mounds/barrows") reside. There are those who use the term sídhe to refer to the fairies directly but with respect to the original folklore and language, this is incorrect. It would be like referring to the Children of the Forest in Game of Thrones as "the Forest". I don't know where that usage originates other than it's something from English speaking folklorists.

    So bean sídhe literally means "woman of the mounds" or "woman of the barrows" but that doesn't really capture the meaning correctly. To use another example from Irish, Tá mé ar muin na muice! means "I'm on top of the world!" but literally translated it says "I'm on the pig's back!". Saying "woman of the barrows" would be an even poorer translation because of terms like barrow wights giving very clear undead connotations to that kind of terminology that is NOT present in Irish. The meaning in Irish communicates that a bean sídhe is a woman of the aos sídhe which is simply a different term used for the Tuatha Dé Danann after their retreat to the Otherworld(s), leaving Ireland to the Milesians (who are the primary ancestors of the Irish people according to legend). These are what most people refer to as the fairies of Irish legend and so "fairy woman".

    Spoiler: On the Tuatha Dé Danann
    Show
    There are a LOT of variations of this legend where sometimes the Tuatha Dé Danann and the Milesians just decide to split things up fairly amicably and sometimes the Milesians defeat the Tuatha Dé Danann and force them off the land as retribution after the Tuatha Dé Danann killed the leader of the Milesians' uncle. If you're wondering how on earth it makes any kind of sense for mortals to be able to take on the gods... well, the Tuatha Dé Danann aren't exactly gods as most western cultures would think of them.

    They might have been something more along the lines of the Norse deities once upon a time and then had their power and significance down-played by Christian authors over the centuries but in any case, that's what's produced the folklore about this lot that we know today and it's honestly a pretty interesting take on divine and heroic figures. The way the Tuatha Dé Danann are portrayed in the folklore that resulted are basically just people with some superior knowledge and wisdom. They are descended from the Nemedians (who tried to settle Ireland but all died of a plague or were horrifically enslaved by Fomorian overlords) who fled "into the North of the world". There (wherever there is supposed to be) they found the four cities of wisdom/knowledge (Falias, Gorias, Murias and Finias) and maybe received patronage from the (actual) goddess Danu. Anyways, when they come back to Ireland they have powerful magic and treasures and kick some Fomorian hindquarters. BUT they were not a united group, but multiple tribes prone to infighting (tuatha means tribes). So maybe as a result of fighting each other and the fomorians they weren't really at their strongest, so that when the Milesians showed up who also know how to use magic - they weren't able to win that fight.

    It's also worth noting that the Tuatha Dé Danann did have children with both Milesians and Fomorians - and these children aren't distinguished as being demi-gods or half-demons really, though Lugh (who is half of the Tuatha Dé Danann and half Fomorian) being Cú Chulainn's dad is kind of a big deal. That might be more to do with the fact that different Irish tribes sometimes identified themselves as being the descendants of a particular heroic figure among the Tuatha Dé Danann and Lugh could basically be described as the hero/god of all things protagonist-y. In fact all Gaelic people are supposedly the descendants of Donn - whose name could literally be translated as "the Dark One" and his dying wish was for all his descendants to join him in his house after death - explaining where people go after death in Irish myth and getting Donn the description of "Irish god of death". You can see where the concept of godhood in the traditional sense doesn't really apply here - the Tuatha Dé Danann and indeed all the heroic figures of Irish legend are more like REALLY high level dnd PCs than true divinities.

    It's also the case that the Otherworld in Irish mythology is not really one thing like in other celtic mythologies. In Welsh myth, the Otherworld is identified with Annwn while in Arthurian myth it is identified with Avalon. In Irish legend there are places like Tír na nÓg, Emain Ablach, Mag mell and the House of Donn which are all different... probably. Some legends say that the aos sí dwell across the sea instead of underground and others say that they dwell in invisible parallel worlds, living alongside us but unseen to our unenlightened eyes, with different mounds being portals to different realms. So in some legends the Tuatha Dé Danann just ceded the land of Ireland to the Milesians because they were done fighting with the Fomorians there and didn't really mind letting them have it.

    Another thing that might help make the fall of the Tuatha Dé Danann to aos sí make sense are geasa. A geas is basically a taboo but a magical one. They are quite common in Irish legends. For example, a folk belief that still persists to a certain extent is that bringing white hawthorn flowers into a house will mean someone in that house will soon die. Another is that eating the meat of a dog causes one to "grow physically and spiritually weaker". Basically, geasa are magical rules about the world or compulsions that don't make sense but are nonetheless true. Some great curses or enchantments are artificial geasa - and perhaps all geasa were originally made by someone. They were also generally limited - only affecting a certain place or a certain group of people. It is generally assumed that elsewhere and with other people - the rules are different. The reason the Tuatha Dé Danann became the secretive and hidden aos sí could certainly be explained by them accepting a geas or having one placed upon them.


    The bean sídhe and the bean níghe do get conflated a lot - though in fairness they are usually taken to be female fairies who foresee coming death. The major difference is that the bean níghe is typically associated with stillbirths or death on a battlefield while the bean sídhe wasn't. Originally the bean sídhe were associated with specific families - though later this became the family of whoever heard the wailing. The bean sídhe was rarely welcomed but she is not a malicious figure. It's generally interpreted that her wailing is in genuine grief at the upcoming death that only she knows about - so she's not spreading death.

    Why exactly a generic term for fairy woman came to mean specifically one in this pretty narrow role I couldn't say. Then again there are analogues in other legends. The Lady of the Lake is a figure of considerable importance while the Woman of the Lake doesn't really mean anything. It's just convention I guess.

    Spoiler: On a few other things mentioned
    Show
    I have never heard of sídhe ever referring to a breast or to a woman, though I do not know of a refutation of this. One thing to bear in mind is that Irish is a language that, to quote an American friend who came here to study the language and culture academically, "talks around things but never about them". It uses almost poetic imagery and metaphor as a part of everyday speech. So it is likely that there are some texts that use the imagery of sídhe to refer to a breasts but most likely with additional symbolic meaning dependent on context - for example it could be read as inferring the woman's breast was like a barrow which could have been an insult to a childless or older woman but it could also be read to mean that the woman had an alluring an otherworldly/fey sexuality/beauty that should not be trusted - labeling her a temptress. The Irish language is honestly a convoluted, if beautiful, mess and can genuinely be a headache to use if you don't have a rapport with the person you're talking to.

    Sídhe le na gig is not a thing in Irish folklore. This comes from a misunderstanding from the pronunciation. There is a specific style of grotesques found as ornaments on certain Irish churches referred to as Síle na gigs which are female figures with over-sized... to stay on the safe side of forum rules just google Síle na gig. The figures are called "Sheela na gigs" in English I think. Síle is just a female name (probably the Irish version of Cecilia) and can be used just as a stereotypical Australian might to refer to an arbitrary girl or woman, much like "lass" or "lassie". And yes, Australia did get the whole Sheila thing from Ireland. There's debate about what the symbolism was - if it was a fertility symbol or a warning against lust or a remnant of a pagan figure that didn't otherwise survive - nobody's sure. I'd hypothesize that someone saw the pun and ran with it to make a decent yarn except, again, sídhe does not mean fairy in Irish. So this is an invention external to Irish folklore - though by all means run with it if you find it interesting, we're all constantly creating and re-imagining stories. After all, that's how folklore got started.

    Leannáin sídhe are really interesting figures in Irish folklore. The word is hard to define so I'm just going to link a dictionary entry for leannán. So you can see that it makes some sort of sense that the leannáin sídhe were often temptresses that enchanted mortal men away to the Otherworld. Sometimes this was to his doom, sometimes he would be replaced by a fairy impostor who would pretend to be him and take up his life and sometimes he just lived a greatly extended life in a bountiful paradise with his new, sexy, fey wife. However, there's also male fairies who would seduce women away - so that's not really the heart of the distinction with the leannáin sídhe though it is the part many commentaries focus on, I guess because that's a pretty common archetype in a lot of different myths. It's worth noting that in many stories a leannán sídhe appears as an supporting character.

    For example, one legend about the birth of Lugh says a leannán sídhe called Biróg helped Cian get to the top of the tower on Tory Island where Eithniú was kept prisoner at her father Balor of the Evil Eye's order. She was a captive on account of a prophecy that said Balor's grandson would murder him - but Eithniú and Cian conceived triplets. Balor gathers the triplets up and orders a messenger to drown them in a whirlpool but one of them is saved by Biróg because she can fly through the water like a bird through the air and has no need of air (at least that's the version I remember). This one turns out to be Lugh, who slays Balor. Biróg is otherwise described as a druidess of the Tuatha Dé Danann. There's also some parallels in abilities to Bodhmall in the story about Fionn Mac Cumhaill being raised by his aunt, the druidess Bodhmall, and her "companion" the warrior woman Liath Luachra (I'm pretty sure those two are an ancient example of an OTP). A lot of Irish legends have "the power of women" as a pretty prominent theme. A lot of the time, the only morals are things like "Listen to your wife's orders or you will wither into a deaf and blind old man", "If your step-mother IS evil, you're doomed 'cause she'll baleful polymorph you and your siblings", "a woman can destroy kingdoms", "the ire of a single woman can raise armies or devastate them". So a leannan sídhe basically refers to a type of female fairy (good or evil) with immense power and wisdom - often beyond that of males or simply different to that of males but essential to their success.

    There are several different women named Macha in Irish legend. The one you're referring to was wife to a man named Cruinniuc who boasted about her too much and got her roped into a footrace against horses. She wins and gives birth to twins - yep, twins - but most stories don't say she dies. She curses the men of Ulster to experience five days of labor pains at their hour of greatest need (which they do when Queen Mebhdh's forces attack in the Táin Bó Cuailgne) but she simply leaves Cruinniuc as she said she would only stay with him so long as he did not speak of her. She's actually a pretty solid fit for a leannán sídhe except for the whole not being of the aos sí thing. She was just a woman with immense power. Remember what I said about "the ire of a single woman can raise armies or devastate them"? This Macha - nor any other - is generally not associated with the bean sídhe, though Macha daughter of Ernmas was one of the three sisters described as the Morrigan and so has some association with war and death.

    And there are still quite a few of us Irish speakers left yet!
    According to easydamus, I'm a 4th level CG elf wizard. Str 9 - Dex 11 - Con 9 - Int 18 - Wis 14 - Cha 16.

    Homebrew setting (or part thereof): Phaunia and the Twilit Between

  20. - Top - End - #50
    Bugbear in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2013

    Default Re: What folklore inspired creatures have really changed from their original versions

    Kappa
    If a kappa is a short guy, who can be depowered by tipping him over so his head water spills, it makes a lot of sense for them to learn sumo.


    Ettins were originally smart. They actually enjoyed Gollum-style riddles, and sometimes you could avoid getting eaten by answering one riddle from each head.

    Basilisk and cocatrice also got mixed somewhere along the way - in Poland there is a legend of a monster hiding in one of the cellars in the capital, which was called "bazyliszek" and had a deadly gaze, (was killed by a convict sent into the cellar with a mirror) but its looks matched the current description of cocatrice. (And you could get one hatched on purpose by doing some shenanigans with a black chicken egg.)
    Last edited by Braininthejar2; 2018-10-13 at 05:28 PM.

  21. - Top - End - #51
    Bugbear in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2013

    Default Re: What folklore inspired creatures have really changed from their original versions

    Werewolves were often just shapeshifting witches, and as far as I remember, they didn't have a hybrid form. Silver vulnerability is also a new thing. I think in the original story it could have been a silver button with a cross symbol on it, used as an improvised pistol bullet.

    Vampires would sometimes have an owl form rather than a bat. They weren't contagious, but born of being cursed (it was common for an evil lord to be restless in death because of the curses of his subjects) or from being born with two souls, (often signified by being born with teeth, or having two rows of teeth, which sometimes happens) which left one soul stranded in the corpse when the person died.

    Also striga was synonymous with vampire. And stake through the heart was just one of the methods of dealing with them - sometimes it was a nail through the skull, and sometimes it was enough to make them 'bite the dust' by turning the buried body face down.

  22. - Top - End - #52
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    gkathellar's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Beyond the Ninth Wave
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What folklore inspired creatures have really changed from their original versions

    Quote Originally Posted by GaelofDarkness View Post
    Awesome
    That was tremendously informative and in-depth. Thank you.
    Quote Originally Posted by KKL
    D&D is its own momentum and does its own fantasy. It emulates itself in an incestuous mess.

  23. - Top - End - #53
    Orc in the Playground
     
    HalflingRangerGuy

    Join Date
    Mar 2018

    Default Re: What folklore inspired creatures have really changed from their original versions

    Hobgoblins are domestic goblins I believe. Think Dobby.

    I believe Vampires and werewolves (moreso the former) were born from disparate myths around the world, which each got lumped into one thing as the world connected more. Werewolves could be shapeshifters, a witch transformation, game of thrones style worging... As for vampires, bloody Australia arguably has a vampire myth.


    A think that annoys me a bit is that the Kitsune (and some others) are seen as Japanese mythology.
    It's a chinese creation. Japan as a distinctly seperate culture has only existed for a thousand years. But when we think of multi tailed fox demons now, it'll be wearing a kimono and'll have a katana somewhere...

  24. - Top - End - #54
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Anonymouswizard's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    In my library
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What folklore inspired creatures have really changed from their original versions

    Quote Originally Posted by The Jack View Post
    A think that annoys me a bit is that the Kitsune (and some others) are seen as Japanese mythology.
    It's a chinese creation. Japan as a distinctly seperate culture has only existed for a thousand years. But when we think of multi tailed fox demons now, it'll be wearing a kimono and'll have a katana somewhere...
    One of these days I'm going to have all katana in a game spontaneously explode and the knowledge of how to create them lost.

    This is rather off topic, so I'm going to spoiler it.
    Spoiler
    Show
    A thing that drives me nuts is how games tend to have the local 'eastern/Asian' culture use Japanese weapons and armour, and generally Japanese culture if they think that deeply. They'll generally be portrayed as either better than or cooler than 'western' weaponry as well. To the point where I was shocked that the Japan-inspired nationin Avatar uses Chinese swords instead of katana, both dao and jian.

    If I ever do have a character from such a culture these days (it happens, my worlds tend to be smaller than the Earth and there's generally trade that goes from one side of the map to the other) they will tend to be either Chinese or Indian (generally the former, occasionally the latter). Staffs, spears, jian, and dao are generally the associated weapons, because I do significantly tend towards Chinese, but you'll see everything from halberds to hook swords.

    One of the things I'd love to see in a game is more countries based off of Asian cultures. As well as 'faux-Arabian', 'faux-Japanese', and 'faux-China' let's have faux-India, faux-Mongolia (as the good guys!), faux-Korea, faux-whatever they want, just make it well researched and something I haven't seen a bajillion times.
    Last edited by Anonymouswizard; 2018-10-13 at 08:28 PM.
    Snazzy avatar (now back! ) by Honest Tiefling.

    RIP Laser-Snail, may you live on in our hearts forever.

    Spoiler: playground quotes
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

  25. - Top - End - #55
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Griffon

    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Bristol, UK

    Default Re: What folklore inspired creatures have really changed from their original versions

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    One of these days I'm going to have all katana in a game spontaneously explode and the knowledge of how to create them lost.

    This is rather off topic, so I'm going to spoiler it.
    Spoiler
    Show
    A thing that drives me nuts is how games tend to have the local 'eastern/Asian' culture use Japanese weapons and armour, and generally Japanese culture if they think that deeply. They'll generally be portrayed as either better than or cooler than 'western' weaponry as well. To the point where I was shocked that the Japan-inspired nation uses Chinese swords instead of katana, both dao and jian.

    If I ever do have a character from such a culture these days (it happens, my worlds tend to be smaller than the Earth and there's generally trade that goes from one side of the map to the other) they will tend to be either Chinese or Indian (generally the former, occasionally the latter). Staffs, spears, jian, and dao are generally the associated weapons, because I do significantly tend towards Chinese, but you'll see everything from halberds to hook swords.

    One of the things I'd love to see in a game is more countries based off of Asian cultures. As well as 'faux-Arabian', 'faux-Japanese', and 'faux-China' let's have faux-India, faux-Mongolia (as the good guys!), faux-Korea, faux-whatever they want, just make it well researched and something I haven't seen a bajillion times.
    Spoiler
    Show
    Don't rapiers beat katana? I don't know so, but they have better reach, and seem capable of surviving being hit.
    Last edited by halfeye; 2018-10-13 at 08:02 PM.
    The end of what Son? The story? There is no end. There's just the point where the storytellers stop talking.

  26. - Top - End - #56
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    gkathellar's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Beyond the Ninth Wave
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What folklore inspired creatures have really changed from their original versions

    Quote Originally Posted by The Jack View Post
    A think that annoys me a bit is that the Kitsune (and some others) are seen as Japanese mythology.
    It's a chinese creation. Japan as a distinctly seperate culture has only existed for a thousand years. But when we think of multi tailed fox demons now, it'll be wearing a kimono and'll have a katana somewhere...
    It's a Chinese creation in the sense that the idea is first seen there, and the idea of animals becoming human through self-cultivation in general has Taoist roots, but myths have a way of taking on the attributes of the cultures that import them. Japan in particular had and has a tendency to absorb folklore and mythology (among other things) from every culture they come into contact with. That doesn't make it any less Japanese mythology. It just means that it has roots elsewhere.

    Japan, Korea and China all have their own versions of the multi-tailed fox-spirit myth, all with very different subtext and general tone (I think Malaysia might also have its own version, but I'm not sure). Japan's kitsune is more likely to be portrayed as sympathetic or even virtuous, owing in part to the association between foxes and the major deity Inari, and even in their malevolent aspects tend to be pretty keen on infiltrating human society. Korean kumiho are more decidedly monstrous, and stories about them tend to involve them killing and eating people - even in modern, Japanese-influenced portrayals where the kumiho are more humanized, the eating people thing is pretty common. China's huli jing are generally bad news, also get a pretty human portrayal in the manner of kitsune, and are more frequently tied into the larger Chinese cosmology as ascended beings.
    Quote Originally Posted by KKL
    D&D is its own momentum and does its own fantasy. It emulates itself in an incestuous mess.

  27. - Top - End - #57
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Anonymouswizard's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    In my library
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What folklore inspired creatures have really changed from their original versions

    Quote Originally Posted by halfeye View Post
    Spoiler
    Show
    Don't rapiers beat katana? I don't know so, but they have better reach, and seem capable of surviving being hit.
    Spoiler
    Show
    I've previously forced tables to sit through 'katana are just better' arguments when a fanboy is at the table. Generally if I have to pick a good all-rounder example I'll go for the infantry sabre, but my general point is that no sword is just better. The circumstances of Japan meant that the techniques used to forge katana made it a very good design for the region, and thus Japanese smiths tended to use the katana techniques and shape. Meanwhile at the exact same time Europe had decided to abandon those same techniques, they had access to iron that allowed them to make better steel with less hassle, and the differing culture and tactics meant that different designs proved far more practical.

    Now as a very basic assumption we can say that a curved blade will be better at cutting, but even with that there are situations that will cause other styles of slashing swords to dominate.
    Snazzy avatar (now back! ) by Honest Tiefling.

    RIP Laser-Snail, may you live on in our hearts forever.

    Spoiler: playground quotes
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

  28. - Top - End - #58
    Pixie in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2017

    Default Re: What folklore inspired creatures have really changed from their original versions

    Frankly, OP, the better question is probably which haven't changed much from their origins

  29. - Top - End - #59
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    gkathellar's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Beyond the Ninth Wave
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What folklore inspired creatures have really changed from their original versions

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    Spoiler
    Show
    I've previously forced tables to sit through 'katana are just better' arguments when a fanboy is at the table. Generally if I have to pick a good all-rounder example I'll go for the infantry sabre, but my general point is that no sword is just better. The circumstances of Japan meant that the techniques used to forge katana made it a very good design for the region, and thus Japanese smiths tended to use the katana techniques and shape. Meanwhile at the exact same time Europe had decided to abandon those same techniques, they had access to iron that allowed them to make better steel with less hassle, and the differing culture and tactics meant that different designs proved far more practical.

    Now as a very basic assumption we can say that a curved blade will be better at cutting, but even with that there are situations that will cause other styles of slashing swords to dominate.
    Spoiler
    Show
    Mm ... yes and no. Premodern steel depends a lot on the iron impurities found at a specific location to achieve specific properties. Japanese iron was uniquely well-suited to the types of blades the Japanese tended to favor - inflexible with a strong spine, soft core, and hard edge. You couldn't have used the iron found in Japan to make most European swords, but you also couldn't have used most of the iron found elsewhere to make Japanese swords. This is all somewhat complicated by the extended peace of the Edo period, during which the use and even the length of swords was regulated, and they became status symbols and weapons of the civilian duelist. As a result, Edo-period swords are generally shorter, lighter, and less robust than earlier Muromachi-period swords (not necessarily worse, to be clear, but suited to a different environment and style of use).

    That said, a Japanese longsword is pretty similar to a German longsword in actual practice - there's more voiding, more one-handed techniques (especially come the Edo period), slightly less sophistication in the bind due to the lack of a crossguard, and no false edge, but a lot of the stances and transitions are common to either weapon. The German longsword might have a slight edge in versatility, but it's debatable.
    Quote Originally Posted by KKL
    D&D is its own momentum and does its own fantasy. It emulates itself in an incestuous mess.

  30. - Top - End - #60
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Anonymouswizard's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    In my library
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: What folklore inspired creatures have really changed from their original versions

    Quote Originally Posted by gkathellar View Post
    Spoiler
    Show
    Mm ... yes and no. Premodern steel depends a lot on the iron impurities found at a specific location to achieve specific properties. Japanese iron was uniquely well-suited to the types of blades the Japanese tended to favor - inflexible with a strong spine, soft core, and hard edge. You couldn't have used the iron found in Japan to make most European swords, but you also couldn't have used most of the iron found elsewhere to make Japanese swords. This is all somewhat complicated by the extended peace of the Edo period, during which the use and even the length of swords was regulated, and they became status symbols and weapons of the civilian duelist. As a result, Edo-period swords are generally shorter, lighter, and less robust than earlier Muromachi-period swords (not necessarily worse, to be clear, but suited to a different environment and style of use).

    That said, a Japanese longsword is pretty similar to a German longsword in actual practice - there's more voiding, more one-handed techniques (especially come the Edo period), slightly less sophistication in the bind due to the lack of a crossguard, and no false edge, but a lot of the stances and transitions are common to either weapon. The German longsword might have a slight edge in versatility, but it's debatable.
    Spoiler
    Show
    Really my point, the sword style fit the environment, for both cultural and resource reasons.

    I do find it telling that some sword styles have been invented in multiple places. The straight double edged sword with a point in the end and the curved hacking blade, to name two.
    Snazzy avatar (now back! ) by Honest Tiefling.

    RIP Laser-Snail, may you live on in our hearts forever.

    Spoiler: playground quotes
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •