Wednesday, April 23, 2008

More Ancient RPGs


I was thinking again about ancient roleplaying games. There were dice games(Mjollnir, for example) and miniatures wargames (chess variants) and improvisational theather (Harlequin stories). One other possibility I thought of was divination. (Divination with dice is called cleromancy.) Like RPGs, someone could determine what was going to happen next in any context by rolling dice. The dungeon master, at least, realized that the game was fictional! It suggests alternate gameplay mechanics, such as reading entrails to determine saving throws, or using the lines on your palm as a kind of character sheet.
I liked the sound of the names and the arbitrariness of the categories in this list from Wikipedia:

astrology: by celestial bodies.
augury: by the flight of birds.
bibliomancy: by books (frequently, but not always, religious texts).
cartomancy: by cards.
cheiromancy/palmistry: by palms.
chronomancy: about time, lucky/unlucky days.
cybermancy: by computers.
gastromancy: by crystal ball.
extispicy: by the entrails of animals.
feng Shui: by earthen harmony.
I Ching divination: by the I Ching; a form of bibliomancy.
numerology: by numbers.
oneiromancy: by dreams.
onomancy: by names.
Ouija: board divination.
rhabdomancy: by rods
runecasting/Runic divination: by runes.
scrying: by reflective objects.
taromancy: a form of cartomancy using tarot cards.
necromancy: by the dead, or spirits/souls of the dead/recently dead

I've actually used bibliomancy, cartomancy and cybermancy as randomizers in RPGs before. The image above is an Eskimo chess variant.

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