This is an update of the ongoing Q&A thread for Arrows of Indra on theRPGsite. If YOU have a question for me about AoI, please feel free to write on that thread and I will do my best to answer!
Today we have three questions:
Q: Maybe obvious, but for the sake of exploring the topic, can Yogis use
magical mala, staves, robes and bowls? Presumably yes - the book notes
that Yogis may change their items for another. The section on magical
mala notes the use of mala in general (again) by Yogis (among others).
And of course, there are example magical staves and mala in AoI.
A: Yes. A yogi can use any magical mala, staves, robes or bowls, within any other regular limits of their class.
Q:I appreciate the Arrows of Indra is self-contained, pretty easily
digestible, and requires "no anthropology, history, theology or
Might you suggest some follow-up readings for GMs so interested? The
introduction of course recommends reading Indian myth outside the book
(for those so interested, but not require) … but it's been … let's call
it 2 decades … since I personally studied the Upanishads and the
Bhagavad Gita - so I'm a little disconnected from the source myth.
I'd love any recommendations you might have, as the author.
A:Well, its hard for me to give out any specific recommendations,
particularly since I don't want to end up sounding too much like saying
that added research is essential. There are a number of good
(condensed) versions of the Mahabharata, and also the Ramayana out there
these days, including in Comic book format if you're very lazy; plus a
couple of amusing TV/cinematic versions.
The Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, Bhagavata Purana, etc. are available in a
number of good modern translations (hint: I would generally stay away
from the ISKCON/'Hare Krishna' versions, which I don't think are very
good). But these are all mystical texts, of them only the latter
contains actual mythology.
I would recommend that you do some google searches for each of those. You can find the Mahabharata for free here. Other important texts for free here.
Q: Another question (or prompt, perhaps). I've read the the Gods and Religion chapter of Arrows of Indra (and groked it, I believe).
I've also read the AoI articles "How to Play a Bharata Kingdoms Indian", "The Importance of Family in Old-School Play", and "Presenting the Familiar", among others. All good stuff.
I think the article on playing a Bharata Kingdoms human is especially
insightful re: religion and caste, but in some ways, just scratches at
the surface (and no disrespect intended here) - I'm thinking, at the
moment, of the likes of old school RuneQuest with their cult
While not looking to duplicate those or necessarily have that level of
detail (where's my 9 page write-up of the cult of Shiva the Destroyer,
), I am wondering about additional details for the Bharata religions …
such as additional trappings on Vaishnavite practices vs. Shaivite
I don't think this is any particular lack in terms of Arrows of Indra
completeness, so not a criticism. I'm just looking for any additional
insights to bring the players to encourage their specific role-play and
provide a little more verisimilitude re: the Kingdoms.
I'm also open to responses of "Yep, make it up - keep a page in your
notebook and jot down the times that PC1 says he uses x incense for y
rite, that there is a Shiva vengeance spirt, or whatever comes up in
A: Ok, so in the first case, I would point out that most D&D Old-School
games don't go into tremendous detail about Clerics' worship.
Obviously, Arrows of Indra is not just any old-school RPG when it comes
to religion. I plan to post more "AoI articles" talking about the
Yes, of course, you can just make it up! There's nothing to stop GMs from doing that.
You could also do some research, HOWEVER, note that the modern religion
of Hinduism and the religion practiced in the time of the Vedas are not
really the same thing. Here, in brief, is the history of it: You had
this ancient pre-Vedic religion, then the religion of the Rig-Veda (and
if you read the Rig-Veda, its very clear just how different that
religion is from modern Hinduism, it doesn't even have most of the Gods
the average Hindu worships these days, and its utterly devoid of
core-concepts in Hinduism, like Karma, Reincarnation, Non-dualism, etc).
After that, you had this Brahminist religion, which would have been
the religion of the period of the Mahabharata; its a lot more similar to
modern Hinduism, but its not the same thing. It had rituals where you
slaughtered and ate cows, for example; where you slaughtered horses and
had the queen fake sexual congress with the corpse; you start seeing
things like karma and reincarnation, but many of the more advanced
spiritual concepts are still absent.
So what happened? Well, the next step was Buddhism, which swept over
India and almost wiped out the Brahminist religion. Jainism also surged
at this time, and had important influence. It was these two movements
that refined some of the concepts that had already existed but were in a
very basic form in Brahminism: samsara (the (bad) cycle of
reincarnation), Moksha (the idea of final liberation from the cycle of
reincarnation), non-violence, vegetarianism, etc.
It was only after several hundred years, when the Gupta Dynasty arose,
that an upsurge of a new and reformed set of different movements rose up
that consolidated as the idea of what in the west we termed Hinduism.
It was here that many of the rituals of the Vaishnavite and Shaivite
sects came to resemble their modern form; not to mention more mystical
or esoteric stuff like Bhakti or Tantra.
So what you really might want to do is look at and read the source
texts; the Rig-veda has rituals in it that would be already considered
antiquated in most of the Bharata kingdoms by the time of the AoI's base
setting. The Ramayana and Mahabharata have descriptions of rituals and
religious practices in them that would better reflect what most regions
would be into at this time.
In the setting, religion is in transition: Temples and priests are still
very important, but the Yogi ascetic movement is gaining ground, and
the esoteric schools of various Siddhi philosophers/wizards are rising
in popularity; plus the Avatara Krishna is creating a popular Cult of
Personality that is bypassing the traditional methods of worship, which
are largely based on financially-supported Brahmins performing very
complex rituals in temples for you and presenting you with some blessing
you are the passive recipient of.
That's it for today, please feel free to send your questions to the Q&A thread, and I'll answer it about once a week!
Currently Smoking: Stanwell Compact + Image Latakia