Illustrations by Florian Stitz
Illustration by Scott Purdy


Why Do That Juju?

Friday, September 3, 2010

There's a line when it comes to what sort of material we put in our products. We try not to tread over the boundary of what might be offensive, provoking, or generally beyond what you might see in a PG-13 rated movie. But every now and then we test those limits—or abjectly bound past them. In Pathfinder Adventure Path #39, the ol' "questionable content" line gets a little hazy; not because of sex or violence, or whatever have you, but because of religion.

There's no doubt religious elements influence the characters and plots of the Pathfinder RPG—clerics, paladins, monks, and witches are playable classes after all, and untold armies of cultists have fallen before legions of adventurers. But we've long danced around one religious tradition with a lengthy history of involvement in sword and sorcery fantasy: voodoo.

We've kept away from this topic—one I've personally wanted to cover since back in the Dragon magazine days—for several reasons, the primary one being that vodou is a living religion practiced and respected in several parts of the world, and no one here knows enough about it to judge what might be offensive. What we do know about, though, are films like The Serpent and the Rainbow and stories like Robert E. Howard's "Hills of the Dead" or "Black Canaan." We also know the "juju zombie," a toughened up zombie who's been in RPGs for years and years (with a name inspired by African fetish magic and in, coincidentally, Bestiary 2). So, motivated by the Advanced Player's Guide's presentation of the oracle, a divine caster who worships a pantheon of patrons and cultivates a host of strange abilities, now seemed like a perfect time to test our luck and take a swing at a new tradition of magic inspired not so much by real-world vodou but more by voodoo films, stories of bayou magic, and swamp and sorcery fantasy.

All of this comes together in Mike Shel's article in Pathfinder Adventure Path #39's "The Path of Juju." Now, oracles can look forward to a new juju mystery allowing them to tap into the mysterious secrets of nature's deadliest wildernesses, while casters of all types might create a host of strange new magical items, from soul trapping powders to the infamous ganji doll. It's all in there, ready for GMs looking to tell tales of swamp magic and mystery or PCs ready to challenge the cities of men with the true power of their ancient beliefs.

Wes Schneider
Managing Editor

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Florian Stitz Oracles Orcs Pathfinder Adventure Path Scott Purdy Serpent Folk Serpent's Skull Undead
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Mmmmmmm..... Braaaaaaaaiiins


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

This sounds awesome. I love the supplemental articles in the APs almost as much as the adventures themselves. Keep the awesomeness coming!


YES! I've been wanting something like this for a long time.


Great post. Though "wallawallabingbang" may be the best part of all. :)


Hm... rated V for voodoo content.

While we're at it, can we have some sex and violence, too, please?

I mean, it wouldn't be D&D('s successor) with the good old violence, and the game has gone too long without its jungle nymphs!

The Exchange

I'm looking forward to this, even if it's a year too late to be of much use. A player of mine wanted to play a voodoo witch doctor type in a short campaign about a year ago; we made due with Cleric but this would have been great to have.

Maybe it's time to revisit that group....


Will vodoo zombies be faster, stronger, smarter than their old cousins? I hope so, time for zombie destruction XXI century style.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Nice! This reminds me of

Savage Tide spoiler:
Nulonga, the crazy legless witch doctor in the final Savage Tide adventure.

*Sniff* I loved that little guy.


Oh no, can't be real. Yesterday night we finished the long dungeon delving in a negative plane energy-permeated complex full of juju zombies. I made conversion straight from the tome of horrors. Weird.


Walla Walla Bing Bang?
I take it that the name is some sort of classic film reference/homage, because it seems inexplicable how it could have ended up on a non-gnome otherwise. :-k

Edit:
Ah, Google informs me that it isn't a film but a classic song reference.

Scarab Sages

Wes Schneider wrote:


We also know the "juju zombie," a toughened up zombie who's been in RPGs for years and years (with a name inspired by African fetish magic and in, coincidentally, Bestiary 2).[/i]

HUZZAH!!!!!

does the Dance of Joy


BryonD wrote:
Great post. Though "wallawallabingbang" may be the best part of all. :)

Agreed completely :)

Scarab Sages

I told the witch doctor I was in love with you
I told the witch doctor I was in love with you
And then the witch doctor, he told me what to do
He said that

Ooo eee, ooo ah ah, ting tang, walla walla bing bang

I told the witch doctor you didn't love me true
I told the witch doctor you didn't love me nice
And then the witch doctor, he gave me this advice
He said that

Ooo eee, ooo ah ah, ting tang, walla walla bing bang

My friend the witch doctor, he taught me what to say
My friend the witch doctor, he taught me what to do
I know that you'll be mine when I say this to you

Ooo eee, ooo ah ah, ting tang, walla walla bing bang

My friend the witch doctor, he taught me what to say
My friend the witch doctor, he taught me what to do
I know that you'll be mine when I say this to you, oh, baby

Ooo eee, ooo ah ah, ting tang, walla walla bing bang

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Aberzombie wrote:

I told the witch doctor I was in love with you

I told the witch doctor I was in love with you
And then the witch doctor, he told me what to do
He said that

Ooo eee, ooo ah ah, ting tang, walla walla bing bang

I told the witch doctor you didn't love me true
I told the witch doctor you didn't love me nice
And then the witch doctor, he gave me this advice
He said that

Ooo eee, ooo ah ah, ting tang, walla walla bing bang

My friend the witch doctor, he taught me what to say
My friend the witch doctor, he taught me what to do
I know that you'll be mine when I say this to you

Ooo eee, ooo ah ah, ting tang, walla walla bing bang

My friend the witch doctor, he taught me what to say
My friend the witch doctor, he taught me what to do
I know that you'll be mine when I say this to you, oh, baby

Ooo eee, ooo ah ah, ting tang, walla walla bing bang

Hmm, needs something... FIXED

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Charles Evans 25 wrote:

Walla Walla Bing Bang?

I take it that the name is some sort of classic film reference/homage, because it seems inexplicable how it could have ended up on a non-gnome otherwise. :-k

Edit:
Ah, Google informs me that it isn't a film but a classic song reference.

Image file names are pretty much never an accurate way to determine clues about what that image is actually of. Sometimes they're named funny things by artists. Sometimes they're renamed by the web team. Sometimes they don't have names at all. Since image names don't show up in print, and since the actual images we use in files are not those we put online (the actual images are MUCH higher resolution)... it's basically just a place where certain folks goof off and/or have fun with names. The editors sometimes do the same with the word file names.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Chicken arise! Arise chicken! Arise!

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Generic Villain wrote:
Chicken arise! Arise chicken! Arise!

"You raised our dinner from the dead!"

Dark Archive

KaeYoss wrote:

Hm... rated V for voodoo content.

While we're at it, can we have some sex and violence, too, please?

I mean, it wouldn't be D&D('s successor) with the good old violence, and the game has gone too long without its jungle nymphs!

Yes. Something I miss from the 3.5 era APs is that random, unexpected excess of malice and wickedness that makes the players reel in shock at the game table.

It's the difference between "monsters" and "dangerous creatures".

I'm not asking for a Kreeg tribe/Foxglove Manor/Carrion King each and every issue (that would be way too much).
Just something that says "this is a dangerous place, and your enemies are monsters in essence first and foremost, and in appearance only as an occurrance".


The Juju zombie on the right, the half-orc, has this pose. Like he's Buddy Juju Zombie or something.


Anything on creating soulbound dolls ? ^_^

Scarab Sages

Lazaro wrote:
Generic Villain wrote:
Chicken arise! Arise chicken! Arise!
"You raised our dinner from the dead!"

+1!


That Purdy illustration reminds me of the girl.


W. John Hare wrote:
Lazaro wrote:
Generic Villain wrote:
Chicken arise! Arise chicken! Arise!
"You raised our dinner from the dead!"
+1!

Took me a minute to remember what that was! That chicken was crazy.

Also, does anyone else think that the half-orc zombie looks like Indiana Jones? He has the hat and the whip.

Also, I love that style of hat on a half-orc. It makes him look friendly in a "braaaaaiinnnssss!" sort of way.


Wow. Political correctness gone mad. Now we actually have someone almost apologizing for making an adventure involving voodoo...


Wolf Munroe wrote:

Also, does anyone else think that the half-orc zombie looks like Indiana Jones? He has the hat and the whip.

Also, I love that style of hat on a half-orc. It makes him look friendly in a "braaaaaiinnnssss!" sort of way.

Hehe I admit that was my intention... :)

I read the description and with the word explorer came this certain Mr. Jones into my mind...So I made him look that way. :D

Florian

Liberty's Edge

Evil Midnight Lurker wrote:
That Purdy illustration reminds me of the babe.

What babe?

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Viriato wrote:
Wow. Political correctness gone mad. Now we actually have someone almost apologizing for making an adventure involving voodoo...

No, it's just a preemptive "cover our butts on the off chance someone gets pissed over it" type of thing. It's become a sadly necessary thing in the age of everyone being lawyered up to the Nth degree and using them for the slightest thing ever.

Scarab Sages

Kvantum wrote:
Viriato wrote:
Wow. Political correctness gone mad. Now we actually have someone almost apologizing for making an adventure involving voodoo...
No, it's just a preemptive "cover our butts on the off chance someone gets pissed over it" type of thing. It's become a sadly necessary thing in the age of everyone being lawyered up to the Nth degree and using them for the slightest thing ever.

Sadly, very true.

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

Jagyr Ebonwood wrote:
Evil Midnight Lurker wrote:
That Purdy illustration reminds me of the babe.
What babe?

The babe with the power.


You do that voodoo, that voodoo that you do so well. That voodoo and juju that you do.

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

Good thing I brought my gris-gris.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:
Jagyr Ebonwood wrote:
Evil Midnight Lurker wrote:
That Purdy illustration reminds me of the babe.
What babe?
The babe with the power.

What power?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Wolf Munroe wrote:


Took me a minute to remember what that was! That chicken was crazy.

Actually, I got it from an episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force entitled Video Ouija (NSFW). Though The Gamers is also lol.


I'm reminded of the old "Drums on Fire Mountain" TSR module. Good times.

Grand Lodge

Paul Watson wrote:
Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:
Jagyr Ebonwood wrote:
Evil Midnight Lurker wrote:
That Purdy illustration reminds me of the babe.
What babe?
The babe with the power.
What power?

The power of voodoo!


Viriato wrote:
Wow. Political correctness gone mad. Now we actually have someone almost apologizing for making an adventure involving voodoo...

"We've kept away from this topic—one I've personally wanted to cover since back in the Dragon magazine days—for several reasons, the primary one being that vodou is a living religion practiced and respected in several parts of the world, and no one here knows enough about it to judge what might be offensive."

It's not "political correctness gone mad". He's simply indicating that the voodoo elements in the adventure are inspired almost entirely by the appearances of voodoo in pulp fiction. I don't think he's trying to avoid legal action or anything - I think he just wants to be clear that the voodoo appearing in Pathfinder will have as much to do with real-world religion as the Pathfinder monk has to do with real-world Buddhism. Because, you know, religion is a sensitive thing, a little bit of respect goes a long way.

Dark Archive

Aeshuura wrote:
Paul Watson wrote:
Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:
Jagyr Ebonwood wrote:
Evil Midnight Lurker wrote:
That Purdy illustration reminds me of the babe.
What babe?
The babe with the power.
What power?
The power of voodoo!

Voodoo?


You do!


Zombieneighbours wrote:
You do!

Do what?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Kvantum wrote:
No, it's just a preemptive "cover our butts on the off chance someone gets pissed over it" type of thing. It's become a sadly necessary thing in the age of everyone being lawyered up to the Nth degree and using them for the slightest thing ever.

Actually it's not even that. It's just a statement describing how they've always been wary about trying to handle a real-life, legitimate religion that actual people with feelings actually practice, because they don't know enough about the religion to handle it with the necessary sensitivity. Followed by a statement about how they've figured out a way to side-step the issue and deal with it in a way that hopefully won't tread on anyone's toes.

I imagine it had far less to do with the miniscule chance that some random vodouisant would notice and decide to sue, and more to do with the fact that Paizo are just nice people who don't want to be perceived as trivializing someone's religion.


So, does this mean that Paizo now has Friends on the Other Side?


Evil Midnight Lurker wrote:
Zombieneighbours wrote:
You do!
Do what?

Remind me of the babe.


Michael Gentry wrote:
I imagine it had far less to do with the miniscule chance that some random vodouisant would notice and decide to sue, and more to do with the fact that Paizo are just nice people who don't want to be perceived as trivializing someone's religion.

Tell that to wiccans, demonologists or neo-druids too, if you're that afraid that Pathfinder material might offend. Ron Gilbert of Monkey Island fame never had to walk on tiptoes just because his stories had voodoo, nor did Gabriel Knight's Jane Jensen, nor did pretty much anybody who wrote fiction based loosely on real-life non-major religious groups. So, unless you actually assign Baron Samedi's CR and have the PCs whoop his derriere in the adventure path's climax, it does sound like too much effort on the PCness side.

But yeah, I'll just shut up now. Religion, hot water, slippery slope, no one'll ever be right, agree to disagree and all that.


The_Minstrel_Wyrm wrote:
Evil Midnight Lurker wrote:
Zombieneighbours wrote:
You do!
Do what?
Remind me of the babe.

What babe?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Viriato wrote:

Tell that to wiccans, demonologists or neo-druids too, if you're that afraid that Pathfinder material might offend.

I think you're not reading my post carefully enough. I'm not afraid Pathfinder material might offend. I think it highly unlikely in the extreme that a practicing vodouisant would even notice, much less possess the combination of resources, desire, and gall to take Paizo to court. What I suspect is that Paizo is primarily concerned with being polite.

There's a difference between cultural sensitivity and adhering to strict PC-ness out of a fear of reprisal. Notably, one of those attitudes assumes that members of the culture in question are people with legitimate feelings, and the other just assumes they're over-litigious dicks.

I also suspect that you would actually find very little in common with wicca or paganism as practiced by serious people today, and the magic rules of D&D. Which is the whole point, really.


By 'you're' I didn't mean you personally, but the people at Pathfinder. Regardless, trivializing, as you previously put it, tends to offend, so my point stands. You would also find very little in common with vodoun and the pulp voodoo that tends to be portrayed in popular culture, so the same line of reasoning can be applied.

To wit, this blog entry is symptomatic of an over-sensitiveness that permeates the mainstream western psyche nowadays, and that annoys me. Wes Schneider might as well apologize in advance for offending people who could possibly take umbrage to such a tiptoeing approach, while we're at it...


Zombieneighbours wrote:
The_Minstrel_Wyrm wrote:
Evil Midnight Lurker wrote:
Zombieneighbours wrote:
You do!
Do what?
Remind me of the babe.
What babe?

The babe with the power.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Adam Daigle wrote:
Good thing I brought my gris-gris.

*adds his own gris-gris greens and a little mojo to the mix as well* :D

-will


And here I thought the Witch was already pretty voodoo-ish with the right hexes, like Waxen Image and Agony.
I'm really excited to see how the new Juju Mystery will turn out.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook Subscriber
Lilith wrote:
Zombieneighbours wrote:
The_Minstrel_Wyrm wrote:
Evil Midnight Lurker wrote:
Zombieneighbours wrote:
You do!
Do what?
Remind me of the babe.
What babe?
The babe with the power.

What power?

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