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Andrew Logan Montgomery's interesting ruminations on Nephilim


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Andrew Logan Montgomery admits that "in the (un)holy trinity of my favorite games, Chaosium's Nephilim Occult roleplaying game might actually be slightly nearer and dearer to my heart than either RuneQuest or Call of Cthulhu." Here he begins an interesting rumination on the game, which is still available in PDF from Chaosium.

https://andrewloganmontgomery.blogspot.com/2020/09/nephilim-part-one.html

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From the blog post:

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Nephilim was not, as some critics felt, "body rape" but rather a love story. But from a modernist perspective, games where humans become blood sucking corpses, werewolves, ghosts, mages, and mummies are all well and good...so long as it remains all about the human condition. Suggest there might be something higher or beyond the human condition, and sales suffer.

Wow!  I'd say he put a pin squarely in that one.  Bravo.

!i!

 

Edited by Ian Absentia
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"Suggest there might be something higher or beyond the human condition, and sales suffer."
Well, it works for Call of Cthulhu... of course the 'higher and beyond' there is the nemesis of humanity... or is it?

Edited by Simlasa
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25 minutes ago, Simlasa said:

Well, it works for Call of Cthulhu... of course the 'higher and beyond' there is the nemesis of humanity... or is it?

Assuming that humanity is the epitome and recipient of a universe and supernatural reward created specifically for them?  Assuming that anything "higher and beyond" would be antithetical to human nature, either purposely or inadvertently?  Yeah, I can see how that'd be a bummer.  Fortunately, that's not the premise.

!i!

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2 hours ago, Ian Absentia said:

Assuming that humanity is the epitome and recipient of a universe and supernatural reward created specifically for them?  Assuming that anything "higher and beyond" would be antithetical to human nature, either purposely or inadvertently?  Yeah, I can see how that'd be a bummer.  Fortunately, that's not the premise.

Not the premise of what? CoC? or Nephilim?
IMO it is kinda the premise of CoC... human perspective/awareness coming up as narrow and irrelevant to a larger, expansive one.

I never interpreted Nephilim as 'body rape'. Though the show I just got done watching, the old BBC show 'Intruders', is. It's pretty much the sort of thing old Mythos sorcerers get up to, and the nutty cult in Get Out... forcing their way into other people's minds/bodies.

Edited by Simlasa
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41 minutes ago, Simlasa said:

Not the premise of what? CoC? or Nephilim?
IMO it is kinda the premise of CoC... 

Yeah, exactly.  I even meant to make that explicit.  The nature of Lovecraft's cosmic horror is that humanity is to the universe at large as a culture of bacteria is to the bottom of a shoe.  That sense of cosmic indifference and nihilism leads some of his characters to do some inhumanly awful things, either in an effort to get the attention of greater powers or just because there's no moral authority to stop them.

Alan Moore takes that a little further in his mythos-based comic Providence.  The coming of the strange new aeon is mind-blastingly awful because we lack perspective to reconcile it with our current reality.  Once the monstrous paradigm shift occurs, though, the characters look back at our current reality and see how awful it was.  Welcome to the new normal.

All that said, I meant to say that it's fortunate that this isn't the premise of Nephilim...necessarily.  Andrew Montgomery cited the Hermetic paradigm in his blog post.  It's not antithetical to humanity, but it's not anthropocentric, it doesn't explicitly promote the human condition.  But humanity is part of the equation of what emerges on the higher plane.  That's been hard for people to wrap their heads around over the years, particularly how certain passages of the book were written to suggest or state otherwise (p.83, I'm looking at you).

A lot of the old wags used to liken Nephilim to playing Call of Cthulhu as the monster.  I reckon, if we're allowing that stretch, it's like playing Call of Cthulhu as the monster, but with the monster playing the role of the Investigator and everything that entails.

!i!

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Part Two of Drew's ongoing series of articles about the Nephilim RPG is up. Here he look at the mythology of the game and troubleshoots character creation issues:

https://andrewloganmontgomery.blogspot.com/2020/09/nephilim-part-two.html

nb in the initial post I noted Nephilim is available in PDF from Chaosium; it is also available in PDF and POD from DriveThruRPG.

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3 hours ago, MOB said:

Part Two of Drew's ongoing series of articles about the Nephilim RPG is up. Here he look at the mythology of the game and troubleshoots character creation issues:

https://andrewloganmontgomery.blogspot.com/2020/09/nephilim-part-two.html

nb in the initial post I noted Nephilim is available in PDF from Chaosium; it is also available in PDF and POD from DriveThruRPG.

Nice that you guys have this in POD now!

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Again, from the blog (Part 2)...

Quote

Initiation is not for everyone, neither is Nephilim.  The world of the occult is a mirror that shows us ourselves.  If you look into it and see evil and the Devil, perhaps what you are really seeing is a Fundamentalist religious background you were raised with.  If you look at the Nephilim and see body-hijacking, possession, and rape...perhaps there are issues you should first deal with that a game cannot cure.

Ha, ha, ha!  This is really good stuff.

!i!

 

Edited by Ian Absentia
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  • 1 month later...

I found discussion of nephilim/simulacrum relations in part two very interesting. However, I feel there are two problems with the way Andrew explains this.

Firstly, the game itself actually does a fairly poor job of explaining how a nephilim character actually thinks. The nephilim aren't explained as human beings married with an elemental power, they're explained as reincarnating elemental spirits. The very usage of the term simulacrum ("an image or representation of someone or something. an unsatisfactory imitation or substitute.") is inherently dehumanizing. While this sort of alchemical marriage thinking might be easy to grok for someone who is already familiar with the hermetic conception of daimones, it won't be familiar to the vast majority of RPG players unless it is explained in the text itself. That's why the fandom has been debating it since the beginning.

Secondly, the way the game is structured where you have to create a bunch of past lives at the beginning is a big barrier to new players. I think it would have made things far easier if player characters could recall past lives during play. This would also give the player more time to develop the lives of these past incarnations and give them more relevance, perhaps working with the GM to work them into the events of an adventure. The GM could also create past lives for the player characters and reveal them during play while tying them into the events of an adventure. IIRC, the French version of the game apparently included a mechanic like that.

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