Ok, so this post is a few days short of being really timely. But I’m going to try to make up for that in utility. Sunday night, those of us here in the US and elsewhere got to catch a glimpse of total lunar eclipse that many have been calling a Blood Moon. Sounds pedestrian enough. When I saw a headline about it on a news site, I pretty much wrote it off as just that. After all, it doesn’t take much these days for some religious (or not) group, no matter how mainstream, to associate some natural phenomenon with the end times.
So what is a “blood moon” exactly? Its apparently a fairly contemporary construct. According to EarthSky:
…two Christian pastors, Mark Blitz and John Hagee, used the term Blood Moon to apply to the full moons of the ongoing tetrad – four successive total lunar eclipses, with no partial lunar eclipses in between, each of which is separated from the other by six lunar months (six full moons) – in 2014 and 2015. John Hagee appears to have popularized the term in his 2013 book Four Blood Moons: Something is About to Change.
And so while lunar eclipses are nothing new, and not even particularly uncommon, this lunar tetrad is especially significant because of the timing of two Jewish holidays:
The April 2014 and April 2015 total lunar eclipses align with the feast of Passover. The October 2014 and September 2015 total lunar eclipses align with the feast of Tabernacles.
All this makes for an interesting witches brew of inspiration for any supernatural rpg, including Witch Hunter. One of the first things I did when putting together my game was create a calendar of October, 1689 and beyond and included the lunar schedule.
But while the circumstances of this particular phenomenon are pretty uncommon, the whole blood red moon is just part of the package when it comes to a total lunar eclipse:
The full moon nearly always appears coppery red during a total lunar eclipse. That’s because the dispersed light from all the Earth’s sunrises and sunsets falls on the face of the moon at mid-eclipse. Thus the term blood moon can be and probably is applied to any and all total lunar eclipses.
So this morning, I stole a few moments to ponder how one might incorporate the “Blood Moon” into Witch Hunter. You could easily transpose this
Lunar Eclipses of the 17th Century
Wikipedia has an extensive collection of data here, but unless realism is the bedrock of your game we can get plenty of mileage just out of the dates. Here’s a list that would be relevant to the Witch Hunter rpg, with tentatively begins in the year 1689.
|Total Lunar Eclipses
Full Moons and Folklore
The whole lunar cycle is suffused with superstition and folklore. Every full moon has a name, coinciding with the season and date. Most of these have religious, even if only pagan, significance. You can find a complete listing here, but assuming a Witch Hunter game set in the northern hemisphere (either Europe or the North American colonies), here is a relevant list.
Full moon names by season (Northern or Southern Hemisphere):
After the winter solstice:
January: Old Moon (Moon After Yule)
February: Snow Moon (Hunger Moon, Wolf Moon)
March: Sap Moon (Crow Moon, Lenten Moon)
After the spring equinox:
April: Grass Moon (Egg Moon)
May: Planting Moon (Milk Moon)
June: Rose Moon (Flower Moon, Strawberry Moon)
After the summer solstice:
July: Thunder Moon (Hay Moon)
August: Green Corn Moon (Grain Moon)
September: Fruit Moon (Harvest Moon)
After the autumnal equinox:
October: Harvest Moon (Hunter’s Moon)
November: Hunter’s Moon (Frosty Moon, Beaver Moon)
December: Moon Before Yule (Long Night Moon)
Supernatural Effects of a Blood Moon
Most superstitions about lunar eclipses have to do with consumption, war, and change. Rather than make things easy on your players, when a Blood Moon comes up, roll 1d10 on the table below for a supernatural effect:
- Manwolves, lycanthropes, or any threat with the Mystical Limitation (Moon) Price ignores any wound penalties during the eclipse.
- All Witchcraft or Diabolism skill rolls receive a +4d bonus during the eclipse; the Mastery of any Diabolism or Witchcraft rite is reduced by 2.
- All portals into the Middle Kingdoms of the Invisible World all lead to the same location during the eclipse; this particular location may only ever be reached during a Blood Moon.
- Threats with the Carnivate Power receive double the usual free successes for consuming living mortals during the course of the eclipse.
- Anyone with a Damnation score of 5 or more who performs a sinful act during the Blood Moon becomes a helpless shell for a dameon for the remainder of the eclipse (see Daemons of Loscar, The Legion Cycle).
- Lycanthropy does not function. A manwolf who consumes the right dosage of wolfsbane during the eclipse is cured of the curse.
- All Threats gain the Weakness or Repulsion (Gongs, bells, or cacophonic noise) Price for the duration of the eclipse.
- All Threats (or characters) with the Contracted Soul Price are free of their infernal obligations for the duration of the eclipse.
- Devout and sincere prayer for no less than a full uninterrupted hour during the course of the eclipse will remove 1 point of Damnation.
- All players roll 1d10; on a roll of 1 or 2, the player may either exchange his or her background power for another (with GM approval) or may gain the Skilled Talent for free.