November 6, 2021


I renamed phylacteries as “soulstones” in my own games about five minutes after I became aware that “phylactery” was a word referring to an actual thing in the real world of contemporary faith, and not a relic of a dead mythology, as my very white, very Anglo-Saxon, very atheist-but-effectively-Protestant-by-osmosis self had assumed was the case when I first read the word in the AD&D Dungeon Master’s Guide

I swapped the name “golem” for “animata” for similar reasons. I’m in the process of renaming nagas and rakshasas and angels and other creatures in my own game likewise. I did these things because changing names in a game is dead easy. Figuring out how things work, figuring out how rules balance, figuring out the best way to present mechanics and lore — that can be tough.  

Changing a name, though? It’s nothing.

I’ve retroactively changed the names of NPCs in my games. I’ve changed the names of classes and monsters. I’ve changed the names of cities, nations, and historical periods when I realize there’s a name I like better for something than the name I first chose. It’s a non-event every time. 

So the idea that anybody would get bent out shape over acknowledging that the use of “phylactery” by D&D and its progeny games is culturally problematic makes me wonder what exactly it is they’re getting bent about.

(Archive post from the personal blog.)