The Invasions of Criu

The history of Eriu appeared in the Book of Invasions, an apt title, for the early history of Eriu was one invasion after another. According to literary sources, Eriu was first settled by Cesair and her people around 3000 B.C., then invaded in successive waves by the Fomor, Partholan, Nemedians, the Firbolg, the Tuatha de Danaan, and some 2,000 years later the Milesians. Cesair's people drowned in a flood. The Fomor were a hideous and evil people who were eventually driven out by the Tuatha,...

Th Irish Stories

The stories of Celtic Ireland do not exist in the coherent form in which they are set down here. Bits and pieces of the cycles exist, written in different books by different people at different times. Some stories were written down as early as the 7th century A.D., but the stories also remained within the oral tradition, growing and changing. A story recorded by Christian monks in the 9th century may seem more authentic than one written down by anthropologists in the 19th, but sometimes the...

Thg Warrior Elite

Directly below the king in the Celtic hierarchy were the warriors, the nobles of Celtic society. They led a life similar to that of King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table, but Celtic warriors were much more interested in battle for its own sake. The entire story of the Tain Bo Cuailgne, the great epic of Irish mythology, concerned the efforts of Queen Maeve of Connachta to steal a bull from King Connor of Ulaid (see The Tain, p. 36). The title means The Cattle Raid of Cooley, and the valiant...

Deltic Belifiion

He religious life of Celts was so integrated with other aspects of fcj m their life as to be almost invisible to casual observers. What might V Jr appear to us to be pointless superstition was actually an important part of their religious beliefs. In day-to-day life they were not so much concerned about the gods as they were about luck and fate. They worshipped the gods in the proper season not to do so would be unlucky. It would also be impolite, and no Celt would be rude to the gods. But...

Introduction

About the Authors 4 About GURPS 4 The Celtic World-View 6 Celtic The The Living Countryside 10 So Much Magic 10 Doing it by Threes 10 Celtic Kings 11 Plan of a Topical Dun 11 The Warrior Elite 12 The High King 13 Celtic Women 15 Single Combat 16 Cattle Raiding 18 Celtic Halls and Forts 19 Honor Price 20 The Celts at Play 21 Dressing for War 21 Board Games 22 Hurley and Other Field Sports 22 Celtic Rituals and Rites 24 Druids and Priests 24 Celtic Festivals 25 Gods of the Celts 27 Other...

Fasting

If someone was wronged by another (through the loss of property, the murder of a loved one, or any other offense), and if a challenge to single combat was not an honorable option (because one or both involved weren't warriors), fasting was a recognized way of bringing a grievance against the offender. The aggrieved person publically announced his intention to fast, and then sat in front of his opponent's house, allowed to drink water, but nothing more. The person in the house was honor-bound...

Cmin

Gmain Macha was the principal dun and capital of Ulaid. It was built by Macha of the Red Tresses, a Tuathan queen, with the help of captured enemies. It was a typical hilltop fort with extensive earthworks, and covered 11 acres in which there were four great halls. The name Emain Macha is curious it may mean the Brooch of Macha, as there was a story that Macha took off her cloak pin and drew the plans for the dun on the ground, leaving the prisoners to build it. The name may have been...

Holy Groves and Temples

Near every center of habitation there was a holy grove or Nemcd, and most of the community's worship took place here. Ideally it was planted with one of cach magical tree (see pp. 93-94) Sometimes it was entirely made up of one type of tree. Every grove was different, and had a different emphasis, set of rites, and effectiveness of intercessions, depending on what trees were present. A druid coming lo a new grove needed to spend some time there growing used to the grove's individual...

Lre in me King s Hall

The king's hall was the center of the cultural life of the Celts. It was here that the bards performed, feasts were held, and hospitality could be had by any passing stranger. Because of the way that a person's generosity reflected on his reputation, any traveler could expect free food and lodging at any king's hall. It was considered impolite to ask a stranger about himself before he had eaten, and the stranger could refuse to answer questions if he wanted to, although this was unusual and...

The Dcsths of Brsnwcn and Brsn

At first the fight went to Matholwch's men, because whenever they were killed they were revived in the cauldron Bran had given him. When Evnisien saw this he was furious. He lay with the dead men, and when tossed into the cauldron, the might of his hatred cracked both his heart and the cauldron . Deprived of this asset, the battle continued until only Bran wen and seven men remained alive of the army from Prydain and only five pregnant women remained alive in all Mumu. Bran was mortally w...

Th Destruction Of Da Dergks Hostel

Conary Mor was the son of Mess Buachalia, daughter of the high king of Eriu, by Nemglan, a powerful Sidhe whose particular concern was birds. Although Conary was of the royal kin he did not expect to be made king. After his grandfather's death he rode out in his chariot and began casting stones at birds, whereupon his father appeared and revealed the conditions by which Conary could become king. Nemglan also revealed all of Conary's gesas to him. He must not kill birds, because his father was a...

Msrrisgg and legitimscy

The Celts had an interesting attitude to marriage. There was no marriage ceremony if a man and woman lay down together with the intention of being married it legitimized their union. Sometimes there was a marriage feast, like that of Pwyll and Rhiannon held in the house of the bride's father. It was considered important to be married when Cuchulain got to the right age everyone agreed that he should have a wife, both to stop him stealing their daughters and wives and to ensure the continuity of...

Lobs and Income

He rules for this Job Table are slightly different from those in the Basic Set, pp. B192-194. The Monthly Income shown isn't paid in cash, but is a measure of the standard of living of the person during the month he is employed, since he lives on the hospitality of his employer. The money shown can't be saved, since it is paid not in cash but in food, drink, entertainment, and the like. However, if a critical success is rolled, the person's employer gives him a gift equal to half a month's...

Gurps Wild Mana Generator

Wo druids make a woman out ot flowers to be a king's wife, A warrior chases a white deer into a green hill and finds himself in * another world, A fisherman in a coracle sees a horse riding across the waves, but the rider claims that he sees a plain of blossoming trees. This book is about roleplaying in the world of the pagan Celts, the people who lived in western Europe before the coming of the Romans, and of Christianity. Tt is about the mythological and magical lives of the Celts. The word...

Continued

On their first landing the Danaans fought a battle with the Firbolgs at Moytura. There was then a period of peace before war broke out with the Fomor, Nuada, who had been the king of the Danaans, lost a hand in the first battle and was thereafter ineligible for the honor (see p. 11). Dioncet made him a silver hand, with which he could fight even better than ever, but his brother Bres took over the kingship. The leader of the Fomor, Balor of the Evil Eye, had one huge eye covering virtually the...

Rituals nd Rites

Religious rites were performed by druids on behalf of the whole community, and were regarded as an important part of life, holding the balance of the world and the position of man within it. They involved complex invocations and rituals, often including animal (or even human) sacrifice (see sidebar, pp. 25-26). They had to be performed in exactly the same way each time any stumbling over words, or any variation in what the druid was wearing or how sharp the knife was, could spoil the ritual,...

Ranged Weapons

Weapon Type Amount SS Acc 'AD Max Cost Weight Min. ST Notes Sling DX-6 2 hands to load, I to fire. 2 turns to ready. Spear Throwing DX-4 or Spear Thrower'4 . lt -_ t y-. I-''J''- Jj Jtyrfl, jw fffljF.lF yf iyipw yyr fi wr.iWll I ill I.-. '-.-. 1 a ' .' ' - -I' -in - v v Cost is in for cheap quality weapons, with a small amount of decoration. Fine decoration can multiply the cost of a weapon up to as much as ten times the base cost of a weapon of its quality. he Celts wore very little in the way...

Thc Tklc of Msc Da Thos

Sometime after the death of Cuchulain, Mesgora Mac Da Tho became king of Lagin. He was a good fighter but not very clever. Luckily his wife Buan supplied ail the cunning the kingdom needed. He had three claims to fame a dog which could outrun any wild beast in Eriu, the largest boar in Eriu, and a reputation for stinginess. Although preferring to stay neutral in the fighting between Connacta and Ulaid, Mac Da Tho was drawn into the conflict when Maeve and Connor sent offers of riches and...

Hdoantagcs

Celtic Mythology

Any warrior is likely 10 have a charioteer as an Ally, probably built on 75-100 points. A Celtic warrior ma have a group of warriors who are loyal to him. This is particularly true of kings. Other possibilities for Ally Groups are foster-brothers, who may be very close friends, and spearmen. Any Ollave or Druid must have this advantage. In a historical campaign, this advantage costs 5 points, but in a campaign with working magic. Clerical Investment costs 10 points. Ollaves have spent 14 years...

Cattle Raiding

While the Celtic heroes were great warriors, they were also landowners and farmers. One of the main measures of a man's wealth was the number of cattle he owned this led young Celts to increase their wealth by attacking neighboring duns and stealing their cattle. This caused a constant state of warfare between some settlements, particularly since revenge for the death of clan members was such an important part of Celtic honor. A cattle raid by one dun could escalate to a clan war, which could,...

Thg High King

The idea of a high king was dear to Celtic hearts, and most Celts acknowledged some distant king of kings as long as he didn't bother them too much. The Gaelic term for high king was Ard Ri Ard Righ , and there was always an Ard Ri of Eriu. Sometimes he was the high king at Royal Tara, titular ruler of the whole of Eriu but controlling only a pocket-handkerchief kingdom of his own. At other times he was the king oi one of the four cuiga of the island and held the title of high king in addition....

Living on Hospitality

Since hospitality was such an important attribute, particularly for a king, strangers were always invited in and given food and shelter. A poor peasant family might not have had much, but what they had they shared. A stingy person could stick to the letter of hospitality, not the spirit, hiding all the best food and drink and only sharing the worst, but he would never eat the best while giving guests poorer fare. It would be perfectly possible for a group of Celtic adventurers to travel around...

Nms

Most names had some meaning, which could affect the life of the bearer. A Celt was usually known as the son of his father, or occasionally of his mother. In Brythonic, son of' was ap in Goedelic it was Mac or Mong daughter of . Many people gained nicknames which replaced these patronymics. For example, Leary Mac Ugaine was better known as Leary Budach. Leary the Triumphant. Nicknames count as a Reputation and work in exactly the same way, with costs depending...

Board Games

The most common game, which people of any worth were expected to play, was a variant of draughts or checkers invented by Lugh of the Long Hand, called fidchell in Eriu and gwyddbwyll in Prydain. The name, in both languages, meant wooden wisdom, and the game occupied the same social niche as chess did in medieval chivalry. Sometimes a king's fidchell board had a name, in much the same way as a weapon. Often guests were asked to play against the king, and were expected to try their best to beat...

Headhunting

One of the most common practices of Celtic warriors, and the one which seemed most barbaric to more civilized neighbors such as the Romans, was the habit of headhunting. When a Celtic warrior killed an enemy, it was considered perfectly normal to take the head as a trophy. These heads were hung on the side of the chariot, or on the warrior's belt, and it was a matter of great pride to collect the most heads in a battle. The heads were taken home and hung around the door of the warrior's house,...

Setkntk

Cathbad had three daughters by his wife Maga, whom Connor counted as sisters, since Cathbad was his natural father. The oldest, Eva, married Usli and had three sons, Noisi, Ainle, and Ardan. The second, Findchaem, married Amairgen and had one son, Con all Cearnach. The youngest, Dechtira, was Connor's charioteer. One day these two were out on the plain when a fog arose and they had to seek hospitality at a strange dun. There they were entertained by a great lord, and when they retired the lord...

Arianrhod and Llcw LLaw Gyffcs

Math then began to look for a new footwarmer. Gwydion suggested that he ask his sister Arianrhod. She came to court and said that she was a virgin, but when she stepped over Math's wand she gave birth to two children. One of them Math named Dylan Eil Ton Seaborn, son of the Wave and fostered. Dylan was amphibious and had toad-eyes, eventually forsaking the land entirely for the sea. The other child Gwydion fostered. When the second child was old enough, Gwydion took him to Arianrhod. Arianrhod...

Stone Circles nd Standing Stones

All over Britain, Ireland, and especially Brittany there are mysterious stone circles and standing stones. Some of these are quite small and others are huge. Some are simple rings, others are approached by avenues of standing stones, some have henges or doorways of stone slabs set on two big stones set in a circle. The best known is Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain. Tradition says that it was built by Merlin, and there have been newer tales since the 17th century in England that associate stone...

Holy Places

Many places in the Celtic world inspired a feeling of awe or religious terror, often without apparent reason. A hillside, or a stream in a valley where a torrent struck a boulder, might seem outwardly no different from any such other place, but still might make the hairs stand up on the back of the neck. These places could represent sites where doors to the Otherworld had been opened, places where momentous events once happened, or even spots marked by wonders. These spots were venerated but...

Gods of the Celts

The Tuatha de Danaan were mortal when they came to Eriu from Murias and fought the Fomor. After the coming of the Milesians they moved into the Otherworld and also literally underground, many of them living inside the hollow hills. After living in the Otherworld for some time many developed godlike powers. See Chapter 4 for more on the Tuatha de Danaan. Considered here are the mysterious old gods, who were gods before the Tuatha came and were still powerful afterward. These gods had many...

The Tuatha Be Danaan

He Tuatha de Danaan were the most powerful of the Sidhe, the children of the goddess Danu. The gt came to Eriu, it was said, from the high air, possibly in splendid fl gt ing ships. Very little was known about their original homeland, except that it must have been somewhere in the Otherworld and that it had four cities greai Falias. and shining Gorias, and Finias and rich Murias in the south. When the Tuatha came to Eriu, they brought the best of their people with them, people whose exploits...

Connor Fergus nd Noisi

When this matter was settled Connor decided to try make peace with Noisi. He sent his mother's husband Fergus to Alba to bring Noisi and Deirdre back. Because Noisi trusted Fergus he came with him. even though he suspected a trick. Connor did indeed plan a trick. It was a gesa of Fergus' that he could never refuse a drink. Connor arranged for someone to invite Fergus for a drink on the way back so that Noisi and Deirdre would leave his protection. After the two arrived alone, Noisi kept Deirdre...

Hunting

As well as being a useful source of meat, hunting served as a pleasant diversion for the king's warriors, a chance for excitement, and weapons-training less risky than warfare. Wild birds were commonly hunted, particularly water birds such as ducks. These were usually brought down with slings, or occasionally with bows. Warriors competed to see how many birds they could catch in a hunting session. They used chariots for bird-hunting, and took great delight in shooting birds out of the sky while...

Honor Pricg

If a Celt suffered a wrong, he could demand compensation from the offender. The restitution, or log-n-enech honor price , that the brehon decided on varied not only according to the offense, but according to the social rank of the victim. The base honor price of an individual was what he would normally earn in two weeks' time, and the severity of the offense would multiply this amount. It was possible to refuse an offer of an honor price if it was considered insufficient, but once an honor...

Gwcrn

Matholwch and Branwen lived in peace for a year and Branwen bore a son named Gwern, Alder. After this, Matholwch i gt champions derided him for accepting compensation for his horses when the culprit escaped without punishment. They persuaded him to turn against Branwen. and she was forced to live in the kitchen and have her face slapped every day by the butcher. She tamed a starling and sent it to Bran with a message about her treatment. When Bran discovered what had happened to his sister, he...

The Cult of the Head

The Cult The Head Celtic

The Celts were very fond of headhunting see pp. 22 and 91 . The head of a dead enemy was not only a trophy but a religious item. The head was the seat of learning and the spiritual center of the body. Severed heads were believed to retain many abilities, as house alarms, for example. Merely having the head of a fallen foe gave one some of the power he had in life. As well as the real heads of dead enemies, Celts made many statues of heads, which were appropriate votive offerings, many of which...

Cuchulain Hound of Chulain

Cuchulain Hound

Cuchulain appeared in the stories as a boy and a young man, and was only 27 when he died. As a half-Sidhe, Cuchulain was handsome and had a number of Sidhe advantages, including Wild Mana Generator and the Spurt of Speed version of Heroic Running. He was quite intelligent IQ 13 . and had some druidic learning. He was also exceptionally dexterous DX 17 , allowing him to succeed at feats which no normal person could attempt. Normally his Strength was only 12, but when his riastradh battle frenzy...

Character Tapes

Bard is the first level of the Druidic Order. A Bard knows many stories, poems, and histories, and has some skill at composing new songs and sagas. Bards don't necessarily have Magical Aptitude what they must have is a good memory and a talent for riddles. Bards are keepers of history, teachers, and people who can immortalize heroes in song. Advantages Useful advantages for a bard are Eidetic Memory, Extra Fatigue, Musical Ability, and Voice. Bards are Status 3, and must have Literacy Ogham p....

Bricrius Feast

Bricriu Feast

There was a man at Connor's court called Bricriu of the Poisoned Tongue who delighted in stirring up trouble. He arranged a feast and told Cuchulain, Connal Cearnach, and Leary Budach individually beforehand that they should each claim the hero's portion. They all did so, and had it not been for the intervention and judgment of the druid Sencha the matter might have ended in blood. Sencha's judgment was that the three men should go to the court of Maeve and Aillel at Cruachan in Connachta and...

Thg Heros Portion

One important tradition in the king's hall was that of the hero's portion. When the meat was served in the hall, the largest or most savory portion was supposed to go to the greatest hero present. Great insult could be given if the hero's portion were given to the wrong person. In some cases the meat was carved and then taken to each person individually. In other cases the carver would ask, Who claims this portion The stories of Bricriu's Feast and Mac Da Tho's Pig see pp. 34 and 37 are good...

The Fourth branch Math jfon of JWathonmg

Pryderi Rhiannon Artiste

Ipiw ath was one of the three great druids of Prydain, wise and riddling Bs Yy LJ and able to hear anything that was whispered aloud by anyone ou sSJHr of doors. He ruled Gwynedd from his court in Harddlech and ha lt a gesa that, unless the country was at war, he had to keep his feet in the lap of maiden. Math had two nephews and a niece living near him, the children of his sis ter Don by her husband Beli. The niece was Arianrhod, whose home was a Dun Arianrhod. The nephews were Gilfaethwy, a...

Rhiannon Pwyll and Pryderi

Pwyll Rhiannon

Rhiannon was a very powerful Sidhe, who was wise and knowledgeable, and who gave good advicc. She had the Sidhe advantages Enhanced Strength and Heroic Running, and was a Wild Mana Generator. As well as being very wise IQ 14 she was very beautiful. She had Status 6 as queen of Dyfed, and retained this Status even after Pwyll's death and her marriage to Man-annan. Gwawl and Llwyd were powerful enemies of hers. She was exceptionally good at riding and could shapeshift herself into a horse. She...

Nd rthur hlmsglf

The Three Most Generous Men of the Island of Prydain Nudd the Generous, son of Senyllt, Mordaf the Generous, son of Serwan, Rhydderch the Generous, son of Tudwal Tudglyd. And Arthur himself was more generous than the three . Although Arthur was a genuine historical figure from the post-Roman Celtic period, he was so impressive that he made guest appearances in much older Celtic stories. He and his knights were mentioned alongside people centuries older in the Triads, sometimes as parenthetical...

Moytura

The Tuatha de Danaan arrived in Eriu from four great cities. Nobody knows where these four cities were, although some say they were in Cartre r Gwaelod and others in drowned Atlantis. They came to Eriu from the air, and the place where they are said to have landed is well inland in Mumu. They brought with them four great treasures the Spear of Victory, the Cauldron of Plenty, the Sword of Light, and the Stone of Destiny the last kept later at Tara .

The Othermorld Islands of ff[onders

Celtic Farmer

TV V vT he Otherworld lay parallel to the real world, like a shadow where H M everything was much the same as in this world, except that it was Jr bigger, brighter, and more magical. In some places, such as Eriu, the Otherworld drew nearer to this world, and the border between them grew thin from constant crossings. In other places the Otherworld withdrew, and in consequence this world was more mundane. An interesting use of the Sidhe in a campaign is as Patrons. Such a Patron would normally...