May RPG Blog Carnival – Occult Mysteries and Magic

1 May, 2017

While I have participated off and on in the RPG Blog Carnival, this is my first time hosting.  You can learn more about the RPG Blog Carnival and visit the archives at Johnn Four’s Roleplaying Tips page.

During May, the Sea of Stars journal will act as the central list for all the articles. If you write something as part of the Carnival, then please leave a comment with link below that it can be found by all interested.

This month’s theme is:

Occult Mysteries and Magic.

Deep OccultWhile we tend to use the word Occult is a general sense of magic and strange things, its original meaning was simply hidden or secret, so we will be looking at the secrets behind and intertwined with magic in the world and in campaign settings.  We can think about questions such as:

  • Is magic practiced openly or only in secret?  Are there legal or social punishment for magical practice?  Or are only some kinds of magic banned?
  • How is magic used behind the scenes in a setting for good or ill?  Are there magical conspiracies afoot?  Does magical power imply other kind of power (political, criminal, economic)?
  • Who controls magical knowledge and its dissemination?  Can anyone learn magic?  Or is it confined to particular people?

Obviously different types of campaigns will answer these questions very differently, the occult landscape of a modern supernatural game (say Unknown Armies) is literally worlds apart from the standard fantasy world (say D&D or Pathfinder).

I will try to answer all the three trios of questions for the Sea of Stars over the month, but I will start with the first triad today:

Is magic practiced openly or only in secret? Openly, the Sea of Stars only exists and thrives because of very visible magics, such as the captive Sun and the floating islands.  The use of magic is common but not omnipresent, though every settlement the size of a town or larger is almost guaranteed to have some sort of magic worker, and even villages often have a minor priest or practitioner of natural magic on hand.

Are there legal or social punishment for magical practice?  Some societies, and some dragons, actively oppose certain kinds of magic but societal ostracism is a more common punishment than legal methods.   Though some dragons have outlawed certain magics in their realms for reasons known only to themselves.

Or are only some kinds of magic banned?  Only the Moon Sect is banned outright, it exists only in secret societies and underground cells.  While the Empress disapproves of summoning and necrourgic magic, only the opening of permanent gates to other realms and the creation of self-replicating undead is expressly forbidden.

Other ideas that you might want to pursue:

  • Secret Societies.
  • Lost or hidden books or libraries of magical knowledge.
  • Mystery Cults.
  • Fallen civilizations, especially if magic caused their downfall.

At the end of May, I shall write a short compilation article gathering all the submissions. I look forward to reading your contributions.  Good luck and have fun!

Contributions so far:

Warlock Lodge: Masters of the Invisible College and Using witches, magic and occult practices in your games and the Psychic Witch from The Other Side.

Occlusion from Infinite Adventures.

D&D 5E: Rituals and the Occult from Harbinger of Doom.

Occult Mysteries (of Eberron) from the Codex Anathema.

Keep it Secret, Keep it Safe and Supah Seekrit from Inspiration Strikes!

Spiritualist Sorcerer and Exorcist Background from Daemons and Deathrays.

Cult Magic Failures from Tales of a GM.

A Secret Society Of Character-Hunters For Your Campaign from Roleplaying Tips.

Greater Rituals (for D&D 5E) from the Dragonsmith.

Notes: Photo “Warenology at the Warren’s occult museum” by 826 PARANORMAL is licensed under CC BY 2.0









  1. Awesome!

    I am sure to have something for this.

  2. First one is up!
    Warlock Lodge: Masters of the Invisible College

  3. My contribution to the Blog Carnival is up!

    D&D 5e: Rituals and the Occult – http://www.brandesstoddard.com/2017/05/dd-5e-rituals-and-the-occult/

  4. Alright, here I am, having a look at Eberron’s unique Draconic Prophecy, the most unfathomable of its occult mysteries.


  5. I did 2 blogs this month for the Carnival, both are more theory and GM advice, but the second also has a few ideas tossed out as examples.



    • You have been busy! Thank you for your contribution.

  6. Doing more this week. Up now, using the history of the witchcraft trials in your games.


  7. Psychics and Witches are up next. With a little bit of Jungian psychology and 70s occultism for good measure.


  8. While I’m not sure it totally fits what you’re looking for, I have player content that was inspired by the theme for certain. It should be done by later today or tomorrow.

  9. Hi Sean,

    Thanks for hosting the Carnival.

    Your thought-provoking topic made me think long and hard about where my campaign is failing to achieve its goals. One of these areas is divine magic, and the way it should tie the Heroes and the culture to the cults and the gods:


    I am not sure how to solve this problem, but at least I now have a clear idea about what I need to put right.

    A lot of careful thought is needed.

    All the best

    • If I made people think, then I have done well.

      I quite enjoyed your post. The Cults of Gloranthan are indeed wondrous and I would love to get that sort of buy in from anyone playing a religious character.

  10. Hey Sean,

    Here’s my entry for the carnival. A secret society of bounty hunters who will target the PCs called The Masters of Destiny.


    Thanks for hosting, man.

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