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Subject: Epic Tales Declassified rss

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Micah Brookey
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One of my favorite aspects of this game are the Epic Tales Cards. I absolutely geek out every time one is played because they seem to so perfectly capture the spirit of the stories they are referencing. In my group of players I'm the only one who has studied Celtic Mythology to any extent and have noticed that I seem to get more out of this game than the rest of them. So in the off-chance that it's because I get the references (or at least most of them) I figured I'd compile a summary of the stories which the Epic Tales cards are referencing. This is still a work in progress. Here is goes:

Balor's Eye: Balor was the king of the Formori. He had a third eye in the middle of his forehead whose lid was so heavy that it took four of his men to open it. When it was opened, this eye was instantly kill anybody who looked into it.

Battle Frenzy: A common theme in Celtic mythology is warriors being so overtaken with bloodlust that they mistake their allies for enemies. This is usually protrayed as the warrior being ensorcelled by one of the gluttonous war goddesses seeking a greater meal of carrion to feast upon (usually the Badb or Nemain, but occasionally Fea).

The Battle of Moytura: Moytura is also known as Mag Tuired. It means "Plain of Pillars." There were acturally two Battles of Moytura. The first was between the Children of Dana and the Firbolg. The Second was between the Children of Dana and the Formori. Both were massive battles comprised of the entire armies of each faction involved.

Breas's Tyranny: Breas was also known as Bres and Eochu (the latter being the name of his birth). Breas means "the Beautiful One." He was the bastard son of the Children of Dana princess Eriu and the Formori king Elatha and was (briefly) the King of the Children of Dana. Breas was notoriously cheap and unhospitable to guests. He was cursed by the bard Cairbre, for failing in his duties as a host, with boils all over his face (never get between a bard and beer). In the face of this humiliation Breas was forced to abdicate his throne and then turned traitor, joining the Formori in battle against he Children of Dana.

Cathbad's Word: Cathbad was a prophet of the Ullaid (the people of what's now North Ireland). His prophecies and actions play a critical role in many of the tales of the Ulster Cycle of Irish myths.

The Champion's Share: Also known as the curad-mír. The portion of thigh meat reserved for the mightiest warrior present at a feast. If multiple warriors had claim to the curad-mír then they would fight until one party either surrendered or was incapacitated (often being killed).

Children of Dana: Also known as the Tuatha Dé, Tuatha dé Danaan, Fir Dea, and Children of Danu. The primary faction of "gods" in ancient Irish mythology. They are (mostly) decendent from the fertility goddess Dana (anglisation of Danaan). They fought a bitter war against he Sons of Míl (the mythical ancestors of the modern Irish) which resulted in a treaty which stipulated that the Sons of Míl rule the surface world while the Children of Dana rule everything else.

The Dagda: The Dagda was the chief deity of the ancient Irish. His name meant "the good god" as we has both benevolent and skilled in all things. He was also called Eochaid Ollathair ("Father of All"), Ruad Rothessa ("Lord of Great Knowledge"), and Crom-Eocha (I can't find a translation for this one). He was a trickster god, who delighted in playing practical jokes.

Dagda's Cauldron: The Dagda's Cauldron had several magical properties. The first was that if bathed in, it would cure any illness or wound (other than decapitation). The second was that as long as it was over a fire, that it would an unending supply of sustenance.

The Dagda's Club: The Dagda's Club was so massive that it had to be carried around in a cart. The Dagda was one of the few beings strong enough to lift it.

Dagda's Harp: The Dagda's harp could only play three melodies: Sleep, Grief, and Laughter. When one of these melodies was played anybody who heard it would be overcome by the melody's namesake.

Deirdre's Beauty: At Deirdre's birth, Cathbad prophecized that she would grow to be the most beautiful woman to ever exist and that her beauty would be so great that it would destroy the kingdom of Ulster. The tale in it's entirety is one which is too long to describe in this post but essentially Cathbad's prophecy comes true as the king of Ulster, Concobar, becomes so filled with lust over Deirdre that he commits acts of murder and rape which drive Deirdre to suicide, with Concobar's men becoming so disgusted with him that they leave him to serve Queen Maeve.

Diarmuid and Grainne: Grainne was the fiance of Fionn mac Cumhaill who fell in love with Fionn's subordinent Diarmuid. The two eloped. Attempting to evade the persuing Fionn took them all across Ireland. Fionn eventually caught up with them and captured Diarmuid but decided to let the couple be. The two returned to Fionn's hall and lived happily until Diarmuid was killed by a wild boar.

Eriu: Also known as Eire and Erin. Her name means "round" and she wore many rings. When the Sons of Míl first arrived at Ireland, the first people they encountered the the three sisters Banba, Ériu, and Fódla. Each of the three sisters asked that the island be called after her. Ériu was the most beautiful of the three sisters and the one who offered the Sons of Míl she was the one who they named the island after.

The Fianna: Fianna simply means "war band" and when refered to without being capitalized is used to refer to any military organization. THE Fianna however refers to a specific group which is the Irish analogue to the Aurthian Knights of the Round Table. The were led by the hero Fionn mac Cumhaill, though each member was a hero in their own right and there is an entire segment of Irish mythology, refered to as the Fenian Cycle, which is devoted to stories about the Fianna and thier deeds.

Kernunos' Sanctuary: This is the only Epic Tales card which is not a reference to Irish mythology. There is a figure in Irish myth which matches Kernunos's physical description and has a similar name, called Carnun, but their are no known myths of Kernunos himself, though his image is commonly found at Celtic archeological sites in modern day France.

Lug Samildanach: Also known as Lugh Lámfhoda. Lug means "Oath" and he was the keeper of Oaths. Lámfhoda means "of the Long Arms" which he earned by being a master of the Spear, Javelin, and Sling. Samildánach means "the many-skilled" which he earned by being a skilled carpenter, a skilled smith, a skilled bard, as skilled harper, a skilled historian, and skilled warrior, and a skilled magician.

Lug's Spear: Lug's spear was wreathed in flames and never missed it's intended target.

Maeve's Wealth: Maeve was also known as Medb. Her name is the Old Irish word for "mead". She was the Queen of the Tuath of Connacht and was one of the major figures of the Táin Bó Cuailnge (which, while a fascinating read, is way too long a story to relate in this post). She was known from her extreme wealth including a magnificent herd of cattle (the primary gage of wealth in ancient Ireland) and an array of magical artifacts. Being a consumate pragmatist, she is variously a villain and heroine in Irish mythology.

Manannan's Horses: Manannan was also known as Manannán mac Lir, Manandan, Monanaun, and Oirbsiu. I can only find reference to a single horse of his (rather than the multiple that the card name implies, so not sure if the S is a typo) named Enbarr (whose name means "sea-foam') who was able to travel across water as easily as other horses traveled across land.

The Morrigan: Her name means "Great Queen." She was one of the wives of the Dagda. She was the shapeshifter and would variously take on the form of a raven, an eel, a grey-red wolf, or a white cow with red ears. She was the goddess of war, death, strife, and sovereignty. Although her domains have a negative connotation in modern times, she was a (mostly) benevolent being; protecting various Irish heroes in an almost maternal fashion. Like the majority of Celtic deities, she was known to have vindictive streaks.

Nuada Silverhand: Nuada was a king of the Children of Dana who lost his right hand in a duel with the Fir Bolg Streng. The god Dian Cécht replaced Nuada's missing hand with a mechanical one made of silver.

Oengus's Ploy: Oengus was also known as Aengus, Angus, and Aonghus. His name ment "Vigor." He was one of the Children of Dana and was a trickster god. Four swans flew around his head and he was the lover of the goddess Cáer whom we dreamt about every night for a year before he actually met her. Oengus owned two pigs which would come back to life after being cooked and eaten.

Ogma's Eloquence: Ogma is also known as Oghma. He was the Irish god of eloquence, literature, and poetry. And when his words failed him, he'd beat people over the head with a club.

The Other World: The Otherworld was an alternate world which existed parallel to our own. It was the land of spirits, gods, and the dead. There were believed to be places where the border between the Otherworld and ours was thin and could be crossed. The where also certain times of year in which these barriers thinned aswell (Samhain, the basis for the modern holiday of Halloween was one of these times).

The Stone of Fal: Also known as the Lia Fáil or the Stone of Destiny. It was a stone pillar situated at the center of Ireland which would shriek when the true king touched it.

Streng's Resolve: Streng was a member of the Fir Bolg. At the first Battle of Moytura, Streng realized that his people had no hope of defeating the Children of Dana in open warfare and so challenged their king, Nuada Silverhand, to a duel. During the duel he cut off Nuada's hand.

Tailtu's Land: Tailtu was one of the Fir Bolg who, after the first Battle of Moytura, married into the Children of Dana. She travelled to the center of Ireland and single-handedly cleared it's forests to make land for the Children of Dana to farm. The effort of clearing the land was so great that she died from the exersion. The modern Irish town of Telltown was named after her and an annual athletics competition (which predated the Olympics of acient Greece) were held in her honor. The Óenach Tailten was held every year up to the 19th century on Lughnasa (August 1st) and had competitors from all over Ireland and Scotland.

Tale of Cuchulain: Cúchulain was one of the most significant heroes in Irish mythology and it is impossible to cover all of his deeds (too many of them). His name means "the [Wolf] Hound of Chulain." Most significatly, during the Táin Bó Cuailnge he single-handly defended the Tuath of Ulster against the armies of Queen Maeve.

Tuan's Memory: Tuan was an Irish hero who was repeatedly reincarnated. His first life was as the brother of Partholón. He also lived variously as a stag, a boar, an eagle, and a salmon. He was able to remember each of his previous lives and serves as the narator of the Book of Invasions (a text which describes Ireland's prehistoric mytho-history).
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King Maple
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This is awesome!

But you do know that the rulebook also comes with similar snippets about Epic Tales?

What I would suggest is expanding what the rulebook writes, so there would be less overlap (or combine a more 'complete' description about each tale, since the snippets are pretty short (in the book as well as here).
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Micah Brookey
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The version that I have did not come with any explanations for the cards. No snippets.

And as I stated in the original post, this is a work in progress so I am planning on expanding on most of them, though probably not to include the "full story." For many of them that would necessitate condensing a massive amount of information and would likely lead to an information overload (Tuan's Memory would be an extreme example as that story that card references literally covers over a thousand pages of text). It would essentially equate to working a full time job to goto that extreme.
 
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Jon Snow
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goo Micah,

Great stuff--thanks! Its adds quite a bit to the snippets I also have in my rule book. The designer clearly loves the myths too. You might want to
put this into the Files section, where people will find it more easily later on. That's what I've done with similar work for other games.
 
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Jonathan Pickles
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Thanks for that! Do you have any recommendations for a good book on Irish mythology to read?
 
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Arnaud MATAGOT
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Pickles wrote:
Thanks for that! Do you have any recommendations for a good book on Irish mythology to read?


The Book of Conquests 1978
The Silver Arm (1981)
The Children of Lir (with Michael Scott) (1992)


All of which have actually inspired the game you love.
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Christian
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And
The Cattle Raid of Cooley
Finn Mac Cool

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