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29 January 2016 @ 03:12 pm
RPGs? Theologically inaccurate? Shocked, winnings, etc.  
I wrote a few months back about whether I actually hate LARPing, and since then I've signed up for drydem's Scion LARP starting in April. softlykarou and I are playing scions of Izanami and Izanagi, respectively, since we've lived in Japan, know some Japanese, and otherwise are at least moderate qualified to do so. I was a bit reticent about this, because there's barely any information about either of those two. The 古事記 (Kojiki, "The Account of Ancient Events") has the story of them stirring the waters with a spear and the drops forming the islands of Japan, of Izanami dying in childbirth and Izanagi descending into Yomi after her, which goes as well as people doing into the underworld after their loves always goes in mythology. And that's about it, really. But I figured I could always do some more general research.

In pursuit of that aim, I'm reading Shintō and the State 1868-1988, which softlykarou checked out from the library and I asked to read when she was done. It's currently describing how Shintō in its modern form was basically invented whole-cloth during the Meiji Restoration out of various local cults and influential shrine practices for the political aim of unifying the nation. They repeatedly described it as not being a religion, because that way they could eat their freedom of religion cake while still having their compulsory state rituals.

Which gets to one of the problems I have with Scion. Most of them come down to "the rules are a dumpster fire," but that's not a problem in a LARP. However, Scion's depiction of the Shintō "pantheon" annoyed me because it has basically nothing to do with reality.

I mean, the Greek pantheon (it says "Greco-Roman," but Ares is a crazy berserker, so there's nothing Roman about it) is called the Dodekatheon, but if you asked a Hellene about it, they'd ask you "Which twelve?" At least there, though, there was an ancient concept that there were twelve Olympians even if there was disagreement on which gods counted among those twelve. There's nothing like that for Shintō. The most important deity for most ancient Japanese was the local diety of the fields or forests, or the tutelary deity of their family if they were nobility. Amaterasu was originally a tutelary deity of the Imperial family and was barely worshipped--and probably barely even known about--outside of that small circle.

As an example, the most important deity to the people of Chiyoda, to the extent that any deity is important to them--something like 75% of Japanese people describe themselves as 無宗教 (mushūkyō, "without religion), though that doesn't stop them from praying at shrines and participating in rituals and often just means they aren't part of a formal religious organization--is Sanbai-san, the local rice god who comes down from the mountain he lives on once a year to bless the rice planting.

Sure, it's a game that needs playable splats of roughly equivalent power level. As fun as it might be to play a scion of Sanbai-san, I wouldn't be on the same power level as a scion of Hera or Manannán. And other pantheons have the same issue, but I know more about Shintō so it bothers me more.

Then again, extending modern practice as though it were a glorious unbroken tradition into the past is a political tactic that itself is a glorious unbroken tradition, so White Wolf is just upholding that with Scion.

(And don't get me started on how the game has an Atlantean pantheon but doesn't cover the beliefs of over half the world's population in any way. Not even some kind of Canaanite pantheon.)
 
 
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