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"When you find yourself the owner of a house fitted with a large, heavy and inconvenient iron gate, it would be best that you were entirely sure why the previous owner had it put up before you take it upon yourself to remove it."

G. K. Chesterton

Basic Information

Folklore is the a shared body of tales, customs, wisdom and oral history that belongs to a given culture. It stretches from mythology to nursery rhymes and covers a wide area of legend, ritual and tradition in-between.

Every culture has its own body of folklore, often borrowing from older bodies of lore and often spontaneously generating new bits.

The majority of folklore also exists for a reason - usually to encourage useful or safe behaviours and discourage troublesome or unsafe ones. Quite a bit of it turns out to be based on false or incomplete understandings of the natural world, but some is useful anyway or turns out to be an allegory for something quite sophisticated1. Even if it is not literally true, most folklore that was easily disproved or lacked a useful purpose would have been weeded out long before it became popular canon.

When dealing with the supernatural, this becomes a lot more important - a lot of local taboos will prove to have been based on something people have done in the past that caused trouble and is best avoided, or that has proved beneficial and is worth keeping up. If local folklore says that it's good to leave wine and meat up at the stones for midsummer's eave, or to stay out of the woods in Hob's Hole on Hallowe'en … you might be well advised to listen.

See Also



Game and Story Use

  • Like Mythology, Folklore provides a rich source of material for plot ideas, characters and themes.
  • This sort of thing stands a good chance of spawning mythagos.
  • Breaking folklore taboos may get you on the wrong side of undead, annoy the fair folk, attract demons and devils, or even unleash sealed evil in a can, depending on what you do where.
  • In an after the end setting, folklore may be the remains of more sophisiticated procedures created to protect from some specific hazard.
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