It’s been a while since «we» were under attack, so maybe it’s time to revisit this thing. I mean, water under the bridge and all. It’s all settled down, now, so perhaps certain things can now be said without causing undue burning of books and howling and looting of the streets.
Because, well, yes, gamers really are satanic. Not all of them, of course, but a fair few. Not just to the kind of people who find a nice morning stroll to be satanic if it raises an amount of sweat that might be considered lascivious (though, like me, those people are usually rather uncertain what that word really means. No, I refuse to submit to the Gøøgle at this time). Not even «satanic» like the Harry Potter books. But satanic by the definition of the world’s majority religions; those of them which come with a satan included, that is.
Really? Well, millions and millions of people are playing WoW right now. «World of Warcraft»? «Satanic?», you say, perhaps shocked, or perhaps nodding sagely.
Oh, yeah, granny: Out of a sample of that many people, it’s quite likely that you’ll find at least a couple of cellarfuls of satanists. There will be pagans, heathens, polytheists, magicians, shamans and witches too, I’ll bet you your firstborn. And I’m not talking about their characters. Even if you narrow it down by picking the no-no definitions currently in use by just one single cultus, sorry, religion, any sample that large is likely to contain a small fraction of very strange and terrible, terrible things. And much stranger than a bit of magic, are, in fact, the things that the average Normal Person gets up to when you are not looking. But we won’t go into them here, because this is a decent, Chtulhu-fearing blog.
Anyway, it is a well known fact-like object that a game is not a complete game until it is played. A movie is done when the last bloopers are consigned to the cutting room floor, but a game never stops writhing, changing, mutating. And all games are built to let the players inject their feelings, hopes and other needy annoying things into them. So you betcha those statanists are putting their naughty satanic ways into their games.
But, hey, so what? Bankers are satanic too. If I could drum up one or two devil-worshipping cashiers – or perhaps a chairman who does chaos magick, would you please organize to wipe out banking instead? They’ve been such a pain in the arse to us all lately. And as I recall, the Church Fathers were rather stern on the subject of money begetting money. «Unnatural» I think the term being bandied about was. And we all know what else is «unnatural», don’t we? What do you say, Fellow Concerned Citizen?
No, please leave those streets alone. They’re public property. We need them to get to the mall. Seriously. Not cool.
These are the facts: There are gamers who do things good christian parishioners would disapprove of. And if a gamer likes to do something, it’s safe to assume that he’ll mix it into his gaming too. So there *are* satanic games being played out there. But due to the game industry’s shameful and collective failure to follow the Hand of the Market and supply this obvious demand (a number of praiseworthy efforts excempted), the satanic dungeon master or larpwright generally has to make do with the tools and precious bodily fluids he can find in his own home and garage. In the following, we will examine some of the ways in which you can turn seemingly innocent games into vicious tools of the Father of Lies. If you can find a way to keep your hands idle while you do it, then more occult power to you.
Pre-game: Curses, sigils and summonings.
One of the more powerful spells known to gamerhood since the dawn of Gygax is the [Discordian Turkey Curse] (Note that «powerful» in this sense indicates that, yes, it will certainly render actual real results which even a Dawkin can not deny). It makes an excellent warmup exercise, as it will indeed banish aneristic spirits and possibly even make actual physical aneristic gamers vanish like demons before a pope soaked in holy water. For the best effect, make any pretender to authority, such as the owner of the night’s game material, recite the whole page of the Sacred Text aloud, springing the curse as he reaches the appropriate passage. When everyone has thorougly cursed each other, commence gaming.
[Hoodoo] is the post-order folk magic of rural northern america. Recorded and codified in an age of carnies, fundies and P.T. Barnums, it offers a delightful range of tricks and nasty, messy things to do to each other. While spells for gambler’s luck might immideately appeal to the tabletop player, the fairy tales and the the Twilight Zone will probably turn out to be right – it’s no fun winning all the time, so why even try? However, a lot of gamers use candles for a bit of atmosphere; how about plugging some [candle-reading] into your game engine?
And while you’re lighting candles anyway, make a bit of a show, or ceremony of it, and create a ritual space for the game. Here’s how to [cast a wiccan circle] – adapt as needed. If that’s too simple, fluffy or just inauthentic for you, do try the [Thelemapedia].
The session: Glyphs, channelings and bindings
There’s a pile of divination tricks out there; if dice won’t do it, or candle reading is too slow, any shop which smells of more than one kind of incense can get you bagfuls of runes, tarots and assorted thingamajiggers guaranteed to make your game go the ways the spirits, or fate, or the alien love gardeners want it to. The old norse method of divining fate might seem a bit icky at first, but our test panel assures us that throwing the twigs used to stir the blood of a sacrificial animal on a nice, clean sheet to read the runes randomly drawn thereby can be very satisfying.
That brings us nicely on to the matter of the stuff on the gaming table, and the maps. We all like maps, yes? We draw them, we study them, we buy them, we shuffle our miniatures around on them. But have you ever considered using a cosmogram as a world map? Detailed, accurate representations of real geography is a fairly recent invention. Your characters in a medieval world – or maybe even a sci-fi world – are unlikely to concieve of their surroundings in those terms. Come to think of it, most modern people don’t mentally place themselves on a map wherever they go either, and new communication techs have been dissolving and rewiring our spatial positioning metaphors for years. Why do we even bother with those crappy old things? Here; have a [mandala] to meditate on instead. Add to it as you progress trough the game and explore the world, and combine it with some of the mnemonic techniques of convicted heretic and magician Giordano Bruno.
Roleplaying also involves a lot of playing pretend. Some roleplayers like to immerse; in play, they think their character’s thoughts and feel their character’s feelings. There are a lot of exciting techniques for immersing in a character, but why bother with derivatives – how about a hit of the real stuff? Shamans, houngans, seers and oracles have been immersing like fuckery for untold millenia. 15 000 year old cave paintings have been interpreted as shamans taking on the aspects of totem animals. Even though we prefer to think they depict early furries, and that the jury is still out on the issue, the playtest records on these tricks are still extremely thorough, with a huge success rate.
Most of these techniques involve inducing some sort of altered state of consciousness, and are either rather brutal, or require dangerous amounts of intoxicating or just toxic substances. But if you’re fine with that, just remember not to mention us after they’ve talked you down from the nunnery roof. These procedures also rely on figures heavily established in culturally loadbearing narratives – gods, heroes and ancestors; basically, you need to know them to the bone to be able to let the spirit, or alternate persona, take over. On the other hand, whoever said modernity is bereft of mythos can hand in his flappy little jaw at the door: Some voodoo believers snap in and out of possession as easy as scratching their nose, and animist religions have ceremonies that can invest just about anything with divinity. Why not your character?
Wrapping up – the Great Work
Look, it’s not just the role players. Comics, as you no doubt expected, have also been irredeemably tainted. Yes, officer, sir, he went that way. Thank you, I’m fine, it’s not my blood. No, this sacrificial dagger does not belong to me.
Chief among these, you will find two of the great magicians of our time – Grant Morrison and Alan Moore. Master Moore has much interesting to say on the subject, but he worships an ancient fraudulent roman sockpuppet god called «Sweetie», has scary eyes and can make your head explode with magic (as evidenced by videos on youtube) so we will avoid attracting his attention here.
Morrison, in his serial The Invisibles, experimented with the idea of the work of art as a spell, or more specifically, the idea of a comics serial as a massive sigil, or «hypersigil». The sigil is a form of medieval magic; modern «chaos magic» seems to have grabbed the basic idea from the famous occultist Crowley and the grimoires Clavis and Clavicula Salomonis, which are conveniently available on the world wide web, just a few clicks from here. Comics are clearly, just like sigils, glyphs densely encoded with information which are intended to effect change as you meditate on them. And, granted, people do go away and think new things after reading compelling literature. Maybe that’s all there is to magic? Could you, with the right twists and tricks, turn your game into a great spell, a magnum opus to rock the world? Only one way to find out.