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Old 02-14-2010, 06:22 AM   #11
Lord Carnifex
 
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Default Re: Witchcraft and Swashbuckling

Pre-Reformation, most witchcraft trials were nominally for heresy; burning at the stake was the usual punishment. This practice died down a fair amount during and after the Reformation, especially after the Counter-Reformation.

Small scale witch-hunts periodically popped up for the next few hundred years here and there. Often, the focus was not on the practice of witchcraft per se, but on the effects; murder by magic was treated as murder. Death in these cases was more often by hanging, if the accused survived the 'testing' long enough to go to trial.
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Old 02-14-2010, 06:33 AM   #12
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Default Re: Witchcraft and Swashbuckling

Up until the Renaissance, I think there was a single case of someone being executed for "witchcraft" in the Italian states frex. I wouldn't count "nominally for heresy" as a witchcraft charge unless there is a clear indication that magic was somehow a part of the accusation. Really, witch trials as portrayed in fiction didnt exist during the middle ages.

And the witchcraft trials in, say, 17th century Sweden (when we had out biggest sweep of witch panic) didnt involve magical murder (though often there were accusations of stealing health or wealth using magic) - the general charge was that the accused had travelled to some magical site ("Blåkulla", Brocken) and celebrated the Sabbat with the Devil himself and other witches. The witches were said to have made things out of the babies they had with the Devil, which were born at once and then murdered, so we had accusations for killing people that you had no proof they even existed, but...

Such accusations were generally made by children who claimed to have been kidnapped by the witches (including their own relatives, say their parents) and taken away to the Sabbaths. After being interrogated with torture the witches would often name others, etc.

This, mind you, is just one instance of how it worked. While far from as large-scale as portrated in fiction, it was widespread. It probably was different in different eras and areas. One common theme though is that were there were less authoritarian control, witch hunts got worse. When the responsible was a local judge who shared the local prejudices of those accused, more people were judged guilty and killed.

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Old 02-14-2010, 06:52 AM   #13
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Very very Lutheran since the time of the Reformation. Note that there was no greater tendency for Catholics to start witch hunts; that is a myth.

Erik
Actually witch hystaria was more common in protostant countries than in Catholic, and the punushement for it more virilant. Modern associations between Catholism and witch burnings have mre to do with modern anti-papalism than anything else. One of the more influencial factors in the developement of witch parinoia was reformation desire to strip Churches of decoration extending to folk proctices since the motivation behind the removal of cerimony from religion could also apply to the removal of folk spiritual practices.
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Old 02-14-2010, 06:59 AM   #14
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All those witches in Salem must have got to the New World somehow...
There were no witches in Salem. The witchhunts there, like those in Europe, were about money, not religion. Those who pleaded guilty were given a minimum punishment, they wealth confiscated by the authorities, and then set free. Those who plead innocent, were convicted, accused, tried, and killed, and their wealth confiscated by the authorities. It was not until Giles Corey did the killing stop. By refusing trial (legal under Massachusetts law at the time) he was crushed to death by stone, but since he was never convicted, his wealth went to his heirs.
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Old 02-14-2010, 07:00 AM   #15
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There were no witches in Salem.
I am shocked, SHOCKED by this revelation!
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Old 02-14-2010, 07:09 AM   #16
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Actually witch hystaria was more common in protostant countries than in Catholic, and the punushement for it more virilant.

I wouldnt go that far, but yes, the reputation for witch-hating from Pope & Co is greatly overemphasized, mostly because of prejudice, both from Protestants and from people of the Enlightenment who saw Catholicism as the example of horrible superstition. The infamous unexpected Inquisition ended witchhunting in Spain, for instance. It didnt fit with their doctrine.

Most witch hysteria was, as I noted, not something perpetuated with authorities, religious or not. They were started and kept alive by regular folks on a local scale. This is as opposed to the hunt for heretics, which would always have political overtones, especially Protestants on the lookout for Catholics and the opposite.

I have always wanted to play a campaign with "witchunters" in a world where actual witches exist but who is kept being troubled by peasants jealous of their neighbour for having higher-milking cows than themselves, etc. ...

Erik
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Old 02-14-2010, 07:14 AM   #17
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Someone of course has to mention 'Pirates of the Carri bean' here. The stuff they went through in those movies was more than a bit over the top, but it still worked mostly.


A point you are going to *have* to make clear at least in your own notes if you want to GM such a campaign is the difference between 'non-christian' and 'satanic'. In a world where magic actually works and Christianity is so dominant and non tolerant any number of relatively harmless things would raise the cry of 'Witch!'.

For historical stuff, wasn't Blackbeard rather infamous for the semi-satanic image he tried to project?
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Old 02-14-2010, 07:16 AM   #18
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The best for-real witchhunts were the mid-seventeenth century career of Matthew Hopkins.

Of course, Vodoun is taking shape in the islands. Some kind of English Witchcraft vs. Voodoo vs. Protestants vs. Swashbuckling game could have potential.
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Old 02-14-2010, 08:11 AM   #19
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Default Re: Witchcraft and Swashbuckling

In a world where magic actually works and Christianity is so dominant and non tolerant any number of relatively harmless things would raise the cry of 'Witch!'.


Actually, despite any intolerance, a lot of the time RL Christian authorities blatantly ignored supposed magics... or even used them. If I am going into this cynically, I would rather assume various churches would try to ursurp any real magical power.

Witch crazes have occured in non-Christian parts of the world, fwiw, including animistic communities among Native Americans, in Western Africa and today in New Guinea.

Erik
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Old 02-14-2010, 09:21 AM   #20
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Horror 3e had a pirates setting (4 pages) but really didn't integrate spellcasting into it beyond a paragraph or two.

All-Star Jam 2004 had a chapter called "Alchemical Baroque" which has magic in a fictional TL5 setting, although piracy doesn't get more than some boxed text (IIRC).

The two could be combined ...
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