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Everyone needs content for their RPG campaigns: adventure hooks, puzzles, NPCs, political machinations, combat encounters, and adventure sites. That’s what this site provides! I draw RPG content from real-life fact and folklore, then give advice on how to adapt it to your fictional campaign. I believe content that is grounded in reality (however fantastical) is richer and more vibrant, and your players will appreciate the difference.

 

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Akodessewa Fetish Market

November 26, 2019

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Image credit: Alexander Sarlay. Released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

 

Akodessewa Fetish Market

Vodoun Pharmacy

 

In Togo’s capital city of Lomé, a large open-air market attracts locals with particular needs. Men sit behind racks of tanned skins, and tables groan under the weight of animal skulls. Lines of horns seem to collectively form rows of claws. On this table, some sort of animal paw drapes over a tower of leopard, monkey, and dog heads. Some are clean skulls, while others still have skin clinging to the bone. The market is suffused with the smell of dead flesh. These are just a few of the products you can purchase at the Akodessewa Fetish Market.

 

Though many people think Haiti is the biggest stronghold of Vodoun (more familiarly, Voodoo), the practice originated in West Africa and is the official religion of Togo’s neighbor, Benin. It is the largest religion in Togo, too, which becomes more obvious the more you discover of the huge market. There are wooden and bone fetishes, or talismans, lined up beside ritual ingredients like human skulls and animal parts. There are charms good for everything from treating the flu to removing curses. And if you can’t find the charm you’re looking for, there are priests and priestesses roaming the market who will bless and create fetishes for you.

 

Visitors may browse the offerings and visit healers in huts. During a consultation, the priest or priestess will ask you to describe your ailments before communing with the gods to determine what you need. In the practice of Vodoun, every creature is potent and divine, whether alive or dead. You can find most any ingredient the priestess prescribes in the market – monkeys, crocodiles, goats, leopards, gazelles, and so on. The ingredients are usually ground up with herbs and cooked over a fire, producing a black powder. A healer will then make three cuts on your chest or back and rub the powder in the wounds. There are rarely set prices; the gods usually dictate what you pay. If the price is too high for you, the healer or priestess will continue consulting with the gods until you reach an agreeable fee.

 

A trip through the Akodessewa Fetish Market can be a jarring experience for those unused to animal sacrifice or using pieces of the dead in remedies and talismans. But to local practitioners, the market is a treasure and a necessity. It’s as important to their community as a hospital or pharmacy would be to others. It is the place to go if conventional treatment is too costly or has failed you.

 

Akodessewa Fetish Market in Play

 

The Akodessewa Fetish Market would be the perfect place for a cursed PC to find a cure. If the curse is particularly potent, a healer could need body parts not found in the market. The party might have to venture into the jungle to hunt supernatural beasts so dangerous the market's usual suppliers won’t pursue them. The market could also be a great source of oracular wisdom. One of the priests might tell the party's future or reveal their next destination. Or if the PCs are looking for a magical item, the priestess who sells it might refuse payment, insisting instead on being promised a favor of her choosing at an unspecified point in the future. Finally, a more environmentally-focused party could try to shut the market down, so as to curtail the hunting of endangered species.

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