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If your world has human sacrifice, why do they sacrifice humans?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by BloodyHellSausage, Oct 19, 2017.

  1. BloodyHellSausage

    BloodyHellSausage Troubadour

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    What kind of people are sacrificed? Slaves, criminals, prisoners of war, what other kinds of people? How do they sacrifice them, and how painful or brutal are their deaths?

    That's all I can think of for details.
     
  2. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

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    The Trenchmen of one of my settings only allowed people of the highest social standing to be sacrificed. Sacrifice was considered a huge honor to the point of being heroic. It would basically put your whole family in good standing among the tribe for at least three generations and often monuments or murals would be created for those who go through with it. It was also, more or less, a guaranteed way to get into "Heaven".
    Also, those who were sacrificed would usually be cannibalized and no self-respecting Trenchman would eat a slave, criminal or prisoner.

    I'm not sure exactly how they would be killed. I imagine some kind of quick blow to the head with a blunt object as to be quick, painless and minimize the amount of damage to the body.
     
  3. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    My worlds have Lovecraftian overtones - there are a number of 'Gods' ('energy entities') that feed off strong human emotions, some positive, others negative. One of these entities, Kato-Siva, the 'Three-In-One,' had to manifest physically in order to forge another portion of its name. (Names mean *everything* to these beings) Doing so required tens of millions of sacrifices on the part of Kato-Siva's priesthood. Their first effort crippled the Agban Empire (which they ruled) so badly it fell to a barbarian horde whose members fell into madness. Their second attempt, centuries later, involved taking over a surviving Agban satellite state and turning it into an engine of conquest and sacrifice.

    As to specifics: Traag's sorcerer-priests sacrificed everybody - prisoners, soldiers, criminals, citizens guilty of even minor offences, 'surplus' peasants, plus large 'tithes' from cities under their sway. They sacrificed not just humans, but goblins, elves, and members of other races.

    The sacrifices took place in immense, arena-like temples - multiple rings of ascending seats about an area roughly the size of a football field with a 'tentacle tree,' vile pond, and a house-sized pyramid shaped altar rising from a field of sand and gravel. The more critical occasions, which saw thousands sacrificed, required audience participation - and these audiences often numbered into the upper five digit range. Other events involved captive groups of warriors fighting Traag's soldiers and conjured abominations. The sorcerer-priests were assisted by the 'marked' - individuals with arcane glyphs on their foreheads. 'Demon-Warriors' - soldiers with magically enhanced strength and speed provided security. Ultimately, all these groups answered to the 'Three' - quasi-immortal avatars of Kato-Siva (humans 'possessed' by the energy entity.)

    As the goal was to maximize the energy for Three-In-Ones return, the sacrifices painful and horrific - tearing the hearts out.

    At the end of the Traag War, with Solarian legions battling mobs and demons in the streets, Traag's insane leaders attempted to sacrifice the cities populace in an effort to conjure Three-In-One - an effort that almost succeeded....and resulted in over a million dead (95% of the cities population).
     
  4. Orc Knight

    Orc Knight Auror

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    It's not so much human as it is 'everyone' sacrifice. My most notorious sacrificers are the wood elves on Eld. The worship of Quercuis, the Bloody Oak and one of the top war gods, requires sacrifice. Arten and Athen (War and Revenge) also take bloody sacrifice. And it takes many forms. From ritual battle challenges for leadership to nailing and killing a person to his tree to simply going to war and spilling the blood of ones foes. There's not a single race on Eld that hasn't ended up nailed to a tree and then eaten by the elves later.

    It also comes with a bonus, as the dryads within the tree get a sort of power up to become big war tree's (think blood thirsty Ents) who can sweep into battle as part very mobile siege machines and anti-infantry. In the days before the Lich Wars, especially with the Silver Queen, it wasn't at all unusual to see upwards of ten of the things on the battlefield with bodies hanging off of them and the queen herself with a fresh head hanging off of her unicorn's thorn collar of skulls.
     
  5. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Maester

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    I've only mentioned the practice in the passing (so far) as an evil from the 'old days' among my Mora people but the implication was prisoners of war were the primary sacrifices and that ceremonial quartz knives (a different color, rose, golden, etc for each priesthood) were employed. Some devotees of the old practices are using those knives in assassination attempts, which could be considered a form of sacrifice. All sacrifice transfers mana to the sacrificer, which is the primary justification. I did go into a little detail about the followers of the Shark God, Wanga, who would cut their victims and then toss them off a cliff into shark-infested waters. The objective was the same, serve the god, earn mana.

    Their traditional enemies, the Kohari, have a religion centered around human sacrifice and beheading is the prescribed method. The tribes war among themselves, striving to bring the most prisoners to the central temple of the Sun Bird for ritual sacrifice, and of course also seek prisoners from outside their people. Expeditions to capture prisoners or to simply take their heads back are somewhat common. Heads need to be sort of hacked off with flint-edged swords so it can be a bit messy.

    Now in some future plots, set in a different culture, I am supposing a set of 'evil' gods who are direct opposites of the benevolent pantheon. These just want people (and anything else, for that matter) to suffer and die and their followers 'sacrifice' pretty much at random. Brutally, if possible. I'm taking a bit of a cue from the thugee cult there. Something to develop, when I finish all those other projects..
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2017
  6. Michael K. Eidson

    Michael K. Eidson Archmage

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    Ritual sacrifice is rare, is illegal in most areas, but is practiced at times in the world of Pharas, and is always associated with some undertaking. Any ritual sacrifice performed is symbolic of the desired outcome of the associated undertaking. For instance, if you're at war with a population of humans, you sacrifice a human, the one death symbolizing the defeat of all your human enemies. If you are at odds with another family, capturing and sacrificing a member of that family is symbolic of defeating the entire family. If you want the defeat of your enemies to be prolonged and painful, you torture the sacrifice before delivering the fatal blow. If you want your enemies eradicated as soon as possible, you kill the sacrifice with a single clean stroke. Those are just some examples.
     
  7. X Equestris

    X Equestris Maester

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    I've only got one culture that's big on human sacrifice: the Tyrians. It's basically the cornerstone of their religion. The thinking goes that, in the beginning, their gods slew an evil, primordial serpent and created the world from its body. However, its children lived on outside of the universe. To keep them from returning and destroying the world, the gods need human blood. Because Tyrians believe the world (being made of the evil serpent's corpse) is evil and taints humans the longer they live in it, infant sacrifices are preferred. Those who are sacrificed are almost always slaves, though in times of crisis Tyrian noble families may offer up their children instead. Prisoners of war are also sacrificed, but they don't replace the daily sacrifices.

    The daily sacrifices are usually killed with a fast acting, fairly painless poison (to prevent the waste of any blood) and are then blood let on the appropriate altar. The Tyrian sea god (whose name I'm forgetting at the moment) takes his drowned, while the god of the sun and war has his burnt. The sea god also accepts sacrifices of POWs from naval battles (via drowning, again), while other POWs are sacrificed to the god of war in gladiatorial combat (any victims who survive 25 bouts are sent to "stud" farms to produce more slaves for Tyria). Out of the nine major Tyrian gods and goddesses, only the goddess of the moon/arts and the goddess of love don't have human sacrifices; they're worshipped through poetry and temple prostitution, respectively. That said, the temple prostitutes tend to be born slaves and raised for the job, so one could interpret that as a different form of human sacrifice.

    Since their massive decline in power, the practice of human sacrifice and slavery has made the Tyrian Dominion diplomatically and economically isolated, disrupting the slave trade and forcing them to rely more on slaves "farmed" in Tyria. The only places which outside the Dominion that still practice human sacrifice at all are some city-states in the Colonies, which were originally settled by Tyria. Those cities keep it very hush-hush, since human sacrifice and slavery were supposed to have been outlawed in a treaty they were forced to sign.
     
  8. BloodyHellSausage

    BloodyHellSausage Troubadour

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    I just did some research, and it appears that if the person recently died, they would not bleed as much, because there's no working heart to pump the blood. After several hours, the blood dries, thus making them unable to bleed at all.

    Just a suggestion, but maybe you could replace it with some drug that knocks you out, or gets you high enough to not feel pain.
     
  9. X Equestris

    X Equestris Maester

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    Time isn't a major factor, since there isn't more than a few seconds between the death by poison and the beginning of the blood letting. There's no hours long gap. The sacrifice is brought to the temple altar, given the poison, dies, and the priests immediately begin their work.

    It should also be noted that the poison is an anticoagulant, and there's some fairly low level blood magic involved as well (basically keeping the heart crudely functional post-death), so the volume difference between live sacrifice and their model is negligible. The Tyrians like to think of themselves as being good people by not using live sacrifices, though the rest of the world sees no difference between what they do and just stabbing someone on an altar.
     
  10. Solusandra

    Solusandra Minstrel

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    Sacrifice, by its nature, is the exchange of future potential for current gain. Otherwise, it's simply butchery. So does your setting have magic? Idiot psychology? Or hungry cannibals? That determines pretty much all other factors.
     
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