Mourning Broach
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Basic Information

A mourning broach is a piece of jewelry created to commemorate a specific dead person as part of the funerary practices of some cultures. Despite the name, the actual piece may take a variety of forms - broaches and lockets have been common historically, but so have rings and other designs. In some cases, there will be a heirarchy where close family wear elaborate contrivances and simpler ones are distributed to more distant relations, friends and retainers.

Typically a broach will either feature an image of the deceased - whether painted, inlaid or carved (cameo and intaglio designs were often popular) or some relic - typically a lock of hair. Some will have both aspects and some merely an engraved name or dedication.

This sort of jewelry is generally a sign of a culture with fairly extensive mourning customs - and there may well be specific rules over who may where what and when - for example a parent (especially a mother) may wear a relic of a pre-deceased child for the rest of their life, a bereaved spouse might only wear their mourning jewel until they re-marry and retainers might only wear a mourning ring until the formal accession of the deceased's heir. Under - or over - use of mourning jewelry may well be frowned upon. Where a day of the dead is celebrated, mourning jewlery from many generations ago might be brought out and worn - or at least displayed - or it might be considered a time when such jewelry is removed, either permanently (as an acknolwedgement that the deceased's soul will have passed on) or for the duration (in case it encourages the deceased to hang around…).


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • A retainer might wear a ring mourning his patron until the patron's killer is brought to justice.
  • A necromancer might find mourning jewelry useful for establishing a link to the dead.
    • In a setting where the dead are expected to associated with the living, this might be at least part of the point.
  • Intelligent undead may take an interest in someone wearing these - perhaps being relatively friendly towards someone visiting their tomb who is wearing a memento of their past life.
    • This may be how people going to venerate undead ancestors as part of a grave-sweeping festival identify themselves.
  • A high tech setting might incorporate a DNA code store (allowing the deceased to be cloned at some later date) and/or a personality simulation or recording of the deceased.
  • PCs might well receive these sort of things as bequests when a friend, patron or ally dies. A large collection may be something of a left-handed blessing.
  • Some of these could constitute treasure - either found in tombs (particularly if someone is buried with the mourning jewelry they collected in life), or attached to various discarded bodies.
  • PCs may be alarmed to find a sigil belonging to someone they killed on a mourning ring worn by someone they have just met (or a familiar face on a mourning broach) … whether or not the wearer recognises who they are may be interesting.
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