I know an uncanny amount about divination. Not because I believe in the stuff, mind you. It comes up a lot in my work, both as a practice in ancient religion and as a prominent branch in the history of board games.
So when Chris Chan’s Portents first hit my table, I was fascinated to learn which type of cleromancy it would use. Drawing Roman sortes? The knucklebones and dice oracles of astragalomancy? The fateful archery competitions of belomancy? We haven’t even touched upon the really cool ones. Maybe Portents would let us manipulate shards of coconut, or pour molten metal into water and examine the resultant shape’s shadow, or undertake bean magic. Yes, bean magic. Favomancy. It’s shocking how many forms of geomancy used beans. The possibilities for gamification are endless.
Turns out, Portents is about haruspicy via bird parts. And while any self-respecting haruspex would immediately note that it uses the wrong organs, never fear: this one is about fraudsters trying to out-divine one another.
There is something initially morbid about London Necropolis Railway, and not only because Daniel Newman’s latest offering is set during a cholera epidemic and will release in the third calendar year of our own century’s mismanaged public health crisis. The historical Necropolis Railway was the solution to the bodies piling up in the streets, a line only twenty miles long but devoted entirely to the business of death and mourning. In Newman’s care, the whole thing takes on the pallor of a funeral celebrant both jaunty and jaundiced. More than that, it’s imbued with an uncommon dignity.