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Basic Information

The Hecatomb is a form of animal sacrifice from Ancient Greece. In them, one hundred cattle were sacrificed to gods such as Apollo, Athena, and Hera.

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Game and Story Use

  • In some settings, especially large sacrifices might give the worshiper especially potent blessings - and one hundred cattle definitely qualifies. So, what kind of "power boost" might the former owner of the cattle get?
  • It doesn't have to be cattle, or one hundred. Pick any other animal (sheep, goats, and so forth), and any other large and symbolically significant number, and come up with your own special type of animal sacrifice for your fantasy religion.
  • In the Exalted setting, there is an interesting background story for the Hecatomb: The highest of the gods charged the other gods to find him warrior champions he could imbue with his power. Ahlat, the god of cattle, instituted the hecatomb as a sacrifice among the tribes that worshiped him. However, no tribe was rich enough to actually afford the Hecatomb - but when they realized that they didn't have to sacrifice their own cattle, the tribes began to raid each other, thus honing their warrior skills and producing lots of great champions…
    • This story illustrates some possible reasons for why gods might demand sacrifices beyond deriving some sort of direct power boost from the act of worship. Sometimes, even gods have to play politics - and the mortals have to deal with it.
  • If offered as athyestia, one hundred cattle can feed a lot of people as well as honouring the gods1. Such an event can be a major political statement and might well be offered at a significant point such as a regime change or the beginning of a major project (perhaps a war?) - the new regime demonstrate their largesse, consecrate the venture and - in a primitive gift or semi-gift economy - generate credit for themselves.
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