Pandora's Box

If it were found in a saga in Mythic Europe after all the ills of the world (and Hope) had escaped it, do you think Pandora's Box would have any remaining powers/significance?

Might there be more emotions/drives in there that Humanity hasn't yet experienced?

Might it be a Vis source? (I was thinking that, if so, it would produce both Creo and Perdo to represent its former contents but it would vary one to the other at random from one opening to the next)

I'm thinking it must have had some really powerful rego effect at minimum to have held them all. Unless of course the legend is inaccurate and it is actually the continuing source. Of course if different interested parties have differing points of view- one wants to study it to learn how to contain all the ills in the world again while another wants to destroy it believing all Ills will be destroyed, then it has the power of a McGuffin, which can be very useful when dealing with faeries.

Hmm, Pandora and her box in Mythic Europe's past would have been a Faerie gift.

So Mythic Europe's existing Faeries could revive it, starting from Hesiod's Ergai kai Hemerai (96-99):

Only Hope was left within her unbreakable house,
she remained under the lip of the jar, and did not
fly away. Before [she could], Pandora replaced the
lid of the jar. This was the will of aegis-bearing
Zeus the Cloudgatherer.

Reopening the box then could be as big as a Faerie attempt to change eras in a region or even the world. And whom better to gift with it than the PCs in the current saga?

Better reread Shakespeare's Macbeth before, though. The witches there succeed in something quite similar!

That's the one thing about the Pandora myth that never really made sense to me- somehow everything else in the box is an ill, and gets released into the world when it is opened, but hope staying inside the box somehow allows people hope? I have heard versions where hope was also released into the world, but that somehow keeping it in the box is the opposite of what it was for everything else makes no sense. Unless I suppose what is stuck in the box is a plague of despair and hopelessness that would eliminate hope...

If we consider, that Epimetheus married Pandora as a gift from Zeus, hoping for a boon, this 'hope' left under the lid of her jar is first some irony of Zeus.

Faeries once more bringing her jar back might capitalize on that irony again: "We bring you the jar, so you can get the hope that was left in it!"
Epimetheus-like characters then might indeed find lots of hopes in it, like: "All hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter!" These make them serve the Faeries and feed them with their vitality, as they struggle to fulfill these hopes.

Does that sound like a working story for a saga?

Oh I agree there are lots of possibilities for a saga. It's the original myth that didn't make much sense to me. Then again I suppose ancient Greece had bad writers too...

What I remember from my first reading of the myth was that all the ills escaped and the box/jar was closed. A bit later, someone (Hermes?) told Pandora to cast the box/jar into the sea because "the greatest ill of all still remains inside it", referring to Hope. After that, either Pandora got overly curious or Hermes tricked her, and she re-opened the box, releasing Hope fully into the world.

Granted, that was a version written for grade-school kids, so probably not the most accurate take. I'll also plead Senior's Parma as that was 40ish years ago and my memory isn't what it once was for the misty past.

Take a look at the many other approaches of what was in the jar, but especially at the precise reading philologists try to achieve of Hesiod's word for hope, elpis:

As with most ancient Greek words, elpis can be translated a number of ways. A number of scholars prefer the neutral translation of "expectation." Classical authors use the word elpis to mean "expectation of bad," as well as "expectation of good." Statistical analysis demonstrates that the latter sense appears five times more than the former in all of extant ancient Greek literature.[23] Others hold the minority view that elpis should be rendered, "expectation of evil" ( vel sim ).[24]

1 Like

and add to this one more thought- evil expected can be planned for.

Pandora's box is a great tool for writing but a really difficult tool for good roleplaying because it kind of represents the human heart. That's why hope gets trapped in it, or at least why most people telling the story emphasize that part.
The very fact that it was immediately pegged as a Rego artifact on this thread (probably Rego Mentem) tell us that it's a plot device which takes away players' ability to make choices. It's kind of a boxed demon: it shows up, people start acting badly and players have to roll to see if they act rotten or not, at least in games where I've encountered a version (and there have been three, not all Ars Magica.)
The BEST of the three games I played with a Pandora's Box artifact let players choose to act on their worst impulses in exchange for some crunchy mechanical bonuses to their more selfish goals. It was also the only one that focused on the idea that Hope is trapped in the Box (or Amphora or whatever form you want.) The worst of the three was the just the GM rolling everyone down and saying "No, you act badly."
For that reason, I'd mix its effects and definitely make it a Fairy thing. Pandora's Box is all about getting caught in a story.

IMO thats a really terrible way to handle Pandoras box. RPG's sometimes have to adhere to rules that are unrealistic. In the real world lots of things control how people act but characters are devices controlled by real people who want to have fun. For various reasons this means that one should be very careful about removing the ability of the players to control their characters (agency). Generally as a story guide you should be very upfront with your players if you intend to do something that takes away their agency, even if that means you must "spoil" your plot.

It makes very little sense to have pandoras box make people act poorly since the shitty behaviour has already been released from the box in the past, and in all honesty either hope has also been released or it was in the world before the box. That is unless you want to declare that no-one can act poorly or have hope before the box is opened.

You could have a plot about having someone who wants to use the box to force all the bad things back into the box, and as a sacrifice they are willing to make, hope also. The players have to stop this to preserve the flawed but beautiful world we live in.

If you really want the box to make bad things happen when opened you could set a plot with one of the players in the role of Pandora. It would be a little difficult to find out how to give the other players an equally interesting role, but at least in Ars magica it is not a requirement that every player must have equally important roles in every story.

I somehow missed this thread when it was first posted. As has been talked about above in the thread there is more than one version of the myth, and in some versions (Aesop in particular) it's completely inverted - the box/jar contained all the world's goods, rather than ills, which all fly away when it's opened leaving only hope behind.

There's some interesting options with that reversed version. You could have it be a magical artefact that has effects empowered by spirits of a certain type most or all of which have long since escaped. For example an effect for each of several eidolons or similar emotion spirits linked to some of the positive personality traits (honesty, for example - maybe the cardinal virtues could be used). The stronger the trapped eidolon, the stronger the effect is. Eidolons have a might determined by the value of the personality trait in the person they are linked to, so to get the full effect you would need someone who embodies each trait to a very high level. Perhaps when you have multiple trapped eidolons there is a stronger set of combined effects. There are some very interesting story seeds there (Eidolons! Gotta catch 'em all...)

Alternatively you could actually have the box in this form be a very early divine relic, granted by the dominion to some ancient group. Perhaps it holds some angels who help the owner of the box, but only so long as they have faith and don't try to test God by seeing how the box works (by opening it, or by magical examination etc.). That could be a real dilemma for some magi...

Alternatively alternatively, it could be an infernal item that actually summons demons to plague the owner once it's opened. The demons aren't actually imprisoned in the box, it summons them in response to the owner succumbing to temptation and peeking inside. Maybe it was made by some powerful demon or diabolist to prove a point about human nature.

And if any of the above were true, they could have inspired the legend, which gave rise to a faerie Pandora and the eponymous box as well (which came first, Pandora or the box?). Or maybe more than one similar artefact existed to spawn the legend. Heck, you could even say there was at one point a whole tradition of spell-binders who imprisoned spirits in boxes (hermetic spirit binding has to come from somewhere, right?) so there could be dozens of them of varying levels of power.

2 Likes

Don't get me wrong. I am listing terrible ways to handle Pandora's box: except the one where you as a player have the agency to use the box to act terribly.
Otherwise, Pandora's box is just another artifact or Relic, an interesting find, like an ostrakon or a chunk of the True Cross. In that case, just throw it on a list. It can have whatever qualities you need to milk VIS out of it.
But if you want it as a core for the conflict that drives stories, you may want to add side effects.
But, you're right: don't add consequences which take away player agency!
I didn't mean to advocate for that at all.

1 Like

As a sidenote, the Jar of Pandora crops up a couple of times in ArM canon. It gets a description on page 107 of RoP: Magic as a source of the spirits of hardship. It is also rumoured that Porphyrion of Tytalus found the jar (The Sundered Eagle page 68) and was presumably planning to use it to seize the Tytalus primus-ship (The Lion and the Lily page 132).

Mark

3 Likes