A Redditor on Reddit’s Judaism community spotted a culturally minded policy change at Paizo. The Pathfinder publisher will stop using “phylacteries” as it has real-world cultural and religious meaning. “Soul Cages” will be used instead.
It’s in the preface of book 5 of the adventure path Strength of Thousands, Doorway to the Red Star that the decision is explained. Paizo say;
Starting with the lich Dwandek in this adventure, we’re making a long‑overdue terminology change. The use of the word “phylactery” as the item in which a lich stores their soul is both inaccurate and inappropriate given the evil nature of liches and the word’s connotation with real‑world religious practices. Instead, liches in Pathfinder Second Edition store their souls in objects called soul cages—an act that liches see as an ultimate act of defiance against the cycle of life and death. Liches consider their souls not as things to cherish, but as weaknesses that, once locked away in a cage, allow for eternal undeath. Apart from this change in name, the mechanics for how liches function remain unaltered.
The game is hardly reduced by using “Soul Age” rather than “phylactery” but no doubt some will moan.
Phylactery is another name for, perhaps the English-language, for Tefillin. These are the black boxes worn on the head during morning prayers. Typically, prayers on a parchment would be put inside.
In D&D and Pathfinder, phylacteries are generally connected to Liches; as a weakness and a strength. Liches themselves aren’t taken from any particular mythology religion, although undead in mythology is common enough.
The fact that Liches are generally evil may have been an unwelcome taint on the use of the word, although this blogger has never encountered this debate before. Ignorance is not an excuse, though, and it’s good for Paizo to get out ahead of any potential issue or react sooner rather than later.
Having coined a phrase, or at least given it a boost, Paizo may now double-down on “Soul Cages” and produce some more material.
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