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Showing posts from May, 2020

Circumnavigating the Eurofantasy in Role-Playing Games

As all gamers know, D&D and most other fantasy role-playing games default to a eurofantasy. Imaginary "Medieval" means imaginary "Medieval Europe." If you want more than that, or something other than that, is there any way out of an imaginary pseudo-medieval pseudo-Europe in your fantasy worlds? If it's all fantasy, shouldn't you be able just to imagine something else? There are plenty of alternatives, but plenty can go wrong. This musing is about these questions. Maybe the issues I discuss below have not touched you. Maybe your play group is mostly homogeneous socially and with respect to family origins; its members have little contact with other kinds of people; you don't feel the need for other kinds of imaginary settings besides the ones you have. Or maybe you are all enlightened beings. If that's you and your group, well... have fun! You certainly don't need to read this. Click elsewhere! Your fantasy version of other cultures (ab

The Etymology of Cthulhu

The name Cthulhu has an ancient Semitic origin. I know it's fictional, but hear me out. Most fictions play on realities.   q ṭ ul-hu : kill-him In ancient Aramaic and Hebrew (Canaanite), q ṭ ul-hu plainly means "kill him!" (imperative, addressing one male). The first two consonants represent phonetics that you can pursue here .   Suffice it to say that the Roman alphabet has no exact equivalents, but the use of c for Semitic q and th for Semitic ṭ were not rare in the nineteenth century, especially before the development of standards in Semitic comparative philology. Lovecraft said that "the first syllable [is] pronounced gutturally and very thickly." The rest of his remarks about the pronunciation make little sense. Lovecraft's nonspecialist description of the sounds in the name he chose for the Great Old One is typical of the ways in which Europeans and Americans try to convey their impression of the phonetics of Semitic languages. "Gut