#AtoZ: I is for Iambus

This post belongs to the #AtoZchallenge 2024, where I attempt to turn a word a day into something that can be used in Role Playing Games.

The Iambus is an archaic Greek poetry genre strongly connected with the goddess Demeter and features vitriol and abuse. According to myth, it was invented by Iambe who wanted to cheer up a Demeter and told her utterly profane poems.

This kind of behaviour exists in other cults to, it is an deliberate attempt to reinforce normalcy by stressing absurdity. It usually uses blame to draw attention to dangerous or unsuitable behaviour. There were basically two schools of Iambe: one that focusses on vitriol and crassness, and one that focusses on carefully crafted poems which are a little less vulgar, but just as biting. Still, both are considered some kind of lower class poetry for the masses by distinguished poets.

How to integrate it into your typical fantasy RPG?

  • Have your super civilized toga wearers sing epic rap battles! I mean, fancy Iambic verse battles, of course.
  • Or have your typical warrior cultures like orcs or barbarians be strong in impromptu poetry, with carefully crafted insults to mock others.
  • Rituals need not necessarily be spoken in solemn voices, but might include profanity.
  • Use it as an compass that shouts profanities if you go wrong, but becomes nicer when walking where it wants you to walk.

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