[PnP] Etymology, Sumer, And Ancient Vampires (Happy Thanksgiving!)

Phineas Cromwell phineascromwell at gmail.com
Thu Nov 27 23:47:47 CET 2008

One of the many, varied things that drew my interest in the P&P game was an
evident knowledge, on Richard Snider's part, of a deeper-than-average angle
on mythology/folklore. The content and the substance of several of the
creatures (and some of the spells also) seemed to have a quality I never
encountered before in other systems.
One of these angles I recognized from the patterns of words, and this I've
always summed up as 'Sumerian'. Technically, it would be a catch-all for
'Babylonian/Akkadian/Chaldean', of course, but the term 'Sumer' is kinda
like the word 'Atlantis' (at least nowadays; it carries a lot of mystique
with it; over the years, I've picked up Zecharia Sitchin's books at used
book stores not hoping they were true or not but just to read them as
ancient stories). I guess the best person to answer this question is Mr.
Snider himself, but I know he has been busy and dealing with some heavy
situations lately. But I was wondering if anyone had any info on this
'strain-of-meaning' in the milieu.
I have tried to do etymological research on some of the terms, but for some
reason it seems to be difficult. I think the University Of Pennsylvania (and
one other university, either in Britain or France, I can't immediately
recall) has a decades-long research project into fully 'cracking' and
putting into dictionary form the language of Sumer. As I recall, this
lexicon is fairly expensive. What interests me in what Richard did is that
it seems he had access to a lot of mythology and terms that at the time he
wrote P&P were quite rare. Maybe I'm wrong, but given the relative
difficulty I've encountered, I would guess he had some pretty scholarly
source materials.
The word that fascinates me the most is "Akhkharu". I've combed the Web, and
I can only find one list that simply says the word translates as "vampire",
but there is no elaborative explanations or any details concerning this, at
least as far as I've found. Everything is cursory. And most references on
the Web seem to point to the same vague source: that list. I've even checked
the Encyclopedia Of Vampires, a book about as thick as a metropolitan
phone-book, and in its second edition: not a peep.
Now, I do come across some terms fairly often. Edimmu (or Ekimmu) is easy to
find, and the deities. Wikipedia does (or did) make small mention Akhkharu
(and also an Akhkhazu), but there's not much there, nothing that indicates
source texts or the detailed nature of the creature. I know that possibly
there are no details in whatever extant source materials scholars have drawn
from, but what puzzles me nonetheless is WHERE it came from, and where did
Mr. Snider draw it from (no later than, what, 1982 or 1983?)
I've also taken note of his Priesthood titles; clearly of that 'Sumerian'
sound, but employed by all cultures in the Perilous Lands, whether based on
quasi-Western or -Eastern analogues.
I was just wondering if anyone also asked similar questions, or happened to
have some kind of inside angle on this stuff.
(You'll have to please pardon me... I'm REALLY into Worldbuilding...hope I'm
not complicating the digestion of anyone's turkey dinner... I'll end it here
for now...)
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