ON THE DELETORIOUS INFLUENCE OF FANTASY RPs...
I am trying to do some research for Unseen, though the cynical among you might claim that I am trying to avoid doing any writing on Unseen.
I am trying to find out more about rakshasas (Hindu demons) and Whisky Jack, the Cree trickster. One problem I'm having is that while anthropologists and folklorists are mildly wired, fantasy role playing people are highly wired. For every mention of legitimate Hindu rakshasas, there are ten characters called "Rakshasa" in an online RP game. Argh. RP people are prone to pontificate about what rakshasas are like, but who knows how accurate they are? And actual Hindus probably try to stay clear of rakshasas, so there's only the odd mention of rakshasas in things like the Bhagavad-Gita. But the B-G is written for people who already know
what a rakshasa is, so fat lotta help that is.
Actually the least helpful thing was that I found out about rakshasas in Zelazny's very cool sf novel Lord of Light
, where he calls them "rakashas." What a difference a vowel makes.
Neil Gaiman calls Whisky Jack "Wisakedjak" in his magnificent book American Gods
, but I can find no references to him by that name. The Cree call their trickster spirit Wis-kat-jan, which was corrupted to "Whisky John," hence "Whisky Jack." [But see later note
I know, I know, noodling around on the Internet is not really "research." Research is going to the library and looking up things in books.