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  • Church Grims

    With the addition of non-human (animal) ghosts and the bit on guardian geists, I could only think of the mythology of a church grim. A church grim is a dog that was buried as the first resident of a graveyard so it would rise as the guardian bound to the graveyard. Which to me sounds very much in line with the described guardian geists.

    To build on this further, an animal ghost can also drink from the river to raise its rank as other ghosts can and possibly become a geist in other ways. Which among other things makes me wonder, what effect could it have if a sin eater had a 'church grim' rather than a more standard type of geist?

  • #2
    Two things to remember:
    1. The combination of "the first person to be buried in a graveyard" and "most animals outright do not leave ghosts and those that didn't even prompt a breaking point roll are Rank 0" means that if this happens at all it's going to be in the rare circumstance of "the church grim was a beloved fixture of the community before its death" and that in-universe it's entirely possible that the proliferation of church grim mythology is the result of some combination of plausible-sounding sanitization, confusion between related phenomena and metaphorical language, or Sin-Eaters putting a cultural lens on the Caul.

    2. Most barghests being Rank 0 means, among other things, that specimens smaller than Size 8 literally cannot survive a drink from the Rivers even if they can be induced to drink instead of running into the waters to dissolve.

    Like, there's a reason the Devil Cat is a weird phenomenon and the church grim is a less dismal niche in the wider mythography upon which the guardian geist phenomenon is built. We've not yet been told how the practice worked out for local Sin-Eaters historically, but it seems to close more doors than it opens to allow geist-barghests to form through the guardian geist phenomenon in normal circumstances.

    The intended effect reads more like a Ceremony than a thing that just happens normally, and it messes with the dynamics of Underworld expansion in both directions if 1) you can get a largely-uncomplicated graveyard guardian to stave off Reapers without wandering off through a simple animal sacrifice and 2) new deathmasks can be made by exploiting an easily-replicable cheat around a known deathly phenomenon.


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    • #3
      I do notice the 'person' line but since the guardian geist seems based on the concept of a Church Grim it seems easy enough to ignore that one flaw in the presented idea.

      To your second point, I had not considered how a lack of integrity would interact with the river. That does make it seem odd that there are references to barghests being made to drink to grow stronger. Though as long as they still had essence it would not truly kill them just send them into hibernation as they heal. If done in a domain as well they could have the time to heal from these wounds without worry of being consumed by the underworld (its inhabitants however not so much).

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Mr.F.I.X. View Post
        I do notice the 'person' line but since the guardian geist seems based on the concept of a Church Grim it seems easy enough to ignore that one flaw in the presented idea.
        The guardian geist is based on the concept that the church grim exists as a hack of to spare human souls the cruelty of sticking around past their time — "let's bury a dog to watch over the new churchyard" was never the starting point of that idea, but "the first person buried in a new churchyard watches over it for some length of time until a replacement guardian is provided" has a clear line to draw.

        The presented idea has the flaw that this is explicitly taking a thing that makes the dilemma of guardian geists easier to stomach based on a notion that isn't supported by the established default metaphysics of animal ghosts. Drawn from a common cultural belief in the part of the world where we got the term "sin-eater" from.

        To your second point, I had not considered how a lack of integrity would interact with the river. That does make it seem odd that there are references to barghests being made to drink to grow stronger.
        There aren't. There's references to barghests being diverted from their usual beeline into the Rivers and trained as pets and companions, which is not the same thing.

        Though as long as they still had essence it would not truly kill them just send them into hibernation as they heal.
        Hibernation in the Underworld will destroy a barghest with an extremely high rate of certainty, because they aren't naturally recovering Essence over time and that means getting Trapped In The Walls until they run out of the Integrity that they don't have any of.

        If done in a domain as well they could have the time to heal from these wounds without worry of being consumed by the underworld (its inhabitants however not so much).
        You generally need to cross the Rivers to get to a Dominion in the first place and it is difficult to say how capable animals are of "following" the Old Laws instead of, say, committing ectophagia.

        This is getting increasingly niche. It's probably within some krewe's vision of the world for the practice of making a church grim to be commonplace and consistently form a barghest-geist that will faithfully defend the residents of a graveyard, but it seems self-evident from the setting as-presented that either it's not that simple or something made it stop being as viable to just do.
        Last edited by Satchel; 08-30-2018, 02:10 AM.


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        • #5
          I admit it is a niche idea. I do not mean to present it as common but as a rarity. I'm aware that the church grim is not what the guardian geist is directly based on but the church grim is a part of that mythology. Yes, the mortals doing the practice might have been wrong but they may have also been right. Either way, in the modern day such a practice would have fallen out of use to not be relevant in most locations. So yes, it is a niche.

          Ah, my bad for mixing up that mention of the rivers.

          I should have elaborated in regards to the idea of a barghest drinking from the river. I do not expect such to occur outside of them being directed to and as such cared for during their hibernation but again. Far from common but a possibility that could be explored.

          As to why the church grim is not something sin eaters try to establish if it is possible that the knowledge of such has been lost, as the practice fell out of mortal culture they were unable to maintain it or that not sin eaters, in general, don't have enough control of graveyards to continue the practice.

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          • #6
            Edit: Nevermind


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            • #7
              I like the idea in game that first buried person in graveyard becomes Geist. I also like and think it's not so big stretch that buried purposely dog on future graveyard can become Geist himself. I really would simply break the normal Rank rules for Berghests here, as idea of Geist-dog bound to cemetery is just too cool to pass on.

              Is there more info on Church Grims tradition? Where it was common? WHEN it was common? Cause I like to use it for my prepared Beast/Geist game in Edinburgh, just not know what cemetery should have one.


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              • #8
                A stuff on Church Grims from Wikipedia: English folklore

                The English church grim usually takes the form of a large black dog and guards churchyards from those who would profane them including thieves, vandals, witches, warlocks, and the Devil himself. For this purpose it was the custom to bury a dog alive under the cornerstone of a church as a foundation sacrifice so that its ghost might serve as a guardian.
                Like many spectral black dogs the grim, according to Yorkshire tradition, is also an ominous portent and is known to toll the church bell at midnight before a death takes place. During funerals the presiding clergyman may see the grim looking out from the churchtower and determine from its aspect whether the soul of the deceased is destined for Heaven or Hell. The grim inhabits the churchyard day and night and is associated with dark stormy weather.
                When a new churchyard was opened it was believed that the first person buried there had to guard it against the Devil. In order to prevent a human soul from having to perform such a duty a black dog was buried in the north part of the churchyard as a substitute. According to a related belief in Scotland the spirit of the person most recently buried in a churchyard had to protect it until the next funeral provided a new guardian to replace him or her. This churchyard vigil was known as the faire chlaidh or "graveyard watch".
                A folktale of the Devil's Bridge type is also an example of the motif of a dog (in this case a dog also named Grim) being sacrificed in place of a human being. In the North Riding of Yorkshire attempts were made to build a bridge that could withstand the fury of the floods but none were successful. The Devil promised to build one on condition that the first living creature that crossed it should serve as a sacrifice. When the bridge was complete the people gave long consideration as to who should be the victim. A shepherd who owned a dog named Grim swam across the river then whistled for Grim to follow, who went over the bridge and became the Devil's sacrifice. The bridge then became known as Kilgrim Bridge[7] and was later renamed Kilgram Bridge which today crosses the River Urein North Yorkshire.
                Scandinavian folklore

                The Scandinavian church grim is also known as the Kyrkogrim (Swedish) and Kirkegrim (Danish) and likewise defined as the protective revenant of an animal buried alive in the church foundation. It dwells in the churchtower or some other place of concealment, or wanders the grounds at night, and is tasked with protecting the sacred building. It keeps order in the church and punishes those who perpetrate scandals. It is said that the first founders of Christian churches would bury a lamb ("church-lamb") under the altar. When a person enters the church when services are not being held, he may see the lamb, and if it appears in the graveyard (especially to the gravedigger) then it portends the death of a child. The lamb is meant to represent Christ (the Lamb of God) as the sacred cornerstone of the church, imparting security and longevity to the physical edifice and congregation.
                Other animals used to create the church grim included a boar, pig and horse. A grave-sow (or "graysow"), the ghost of a sow that was buried alive, was often seen in the streets of Kroskjoberg where it was regarded as an omen of death.
                There are tales of the Danish Kirkegrim and its battles with the Strand-varsler that tried to enter the churchyard. Strand-varsler are the spirits of those who die at sea, are washed up on the shore, and remain unburied.


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                • #9
                  Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post
                  I like the idea in game that first buried person in graveyard becomes Geist. I also like and think it's not so big stretch that buried purposely dog on future graveyard can become Geist himself. I really would simply break the normal Rank rules for Berghests here, as idea of Geist-dog bound to cemetery is just too cool to pass on.

                  Is there more info on Church Grims tradition? Where it was common? WHEN it was common? Cause I like to use it for my prepared Beast/Geist game in Edinburgh, just not know what cemetery should have one.
                  It is primarily an english or Scandinavian legend but I cannot seem to find anything specfic on when it was practiced.

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                  • #10
                    More information on the looks and how it should work - can be found on Wikipedia article on Church Grims. Still searching in what times was this tradition popular.


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                    • #11
                      Tradition is both English and Scandinavian, so logical it is at has roots at least in Vikings era. Question is was it popular still in like 16th century? 18th century?


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