As readers might be aware, one reason I like historical or real-world settings for tabletop RPGs is that it means that there’s a wealth of material out there in non-gaming reference works ready for you to adapt for your game. In this occasional series, I review things which have caught my eye as being particularly useful for adapting to RPG purposes.
The Isles of the Many Gods by David Rankine and Sorita D’Este
Put out by Avalonia, this is primarily aimed at a pagan audience, but is particularly aimed at what’s sometimes called “reconstructionist paganism” – as in people who are not so much interested in constructing new forms of paganism as they are in figuring out how older forms of pre-Christian spirituality may have been practiced.
Specifically, it is an attempt to provide as comprehensive as possible a list of the deities with some form of recorded worship or recognition in Britain, prior to Christianity becoming predominant. The growth of Christianity in Britain went in fits and starts – the Roman Empire converted, but people didn’t exactly forget their older traditions overnight, and outside of Wales the Romano-British territories were largely taken by the incoming Saxons.
As Rankine and D’Este note in one of their introductory essays, by the time Alfred the Great compelled Guthrum, ruler of East Anglia, to convert to Christianity as part of a peace deal in 878 CE things were on the wane. They note that from the tenth century onwards, any pagan practice had to be clandestine; they don’t note, possibly to avoid offending that section of their readership who buy into Wiccan myths about their religion being a survival of an ancient pagan faith and other such legends, that by the time of the Norman era pagan worship in Britain was basically done.Continue reading “The World Is Your Setting Guide 3”