Sunday, February 5, 2012

Famous tricksters

But things happened and there 
was stuff and shenanigans.
Beautiful word. Shenanigans.
I love tricksters and their mischief making.  When tricksters are involved, literally anything can happen.

Here are some tricksters from both mythology and modern media and all of the crazy shennanigans that they got up to.

The Doctor could be considered a trickster for reasons that are too numerous to list here as he usually involves overthrowing despotic regimes throughout time and space.


Anansi tales come from the Ashanti tribe in West Africa.  Anasi is famous for getting into all kinds of trouble.  One of his most famous stories involves him trying to steal of the World's wisdom and trying to hide it up a tree.  However, he can't drag the pot up on his own until a child suggests that he ties it to his back.  He then drops the pot and the wisdom gets spread throughout the World.  Anasi is a bit dim.

There are plenty of other stories involving Anasi and all of the trouble that he gets into.  Some of them involve his schemes falling flat on their face such as the tale of Anansi and the fisherman.


Loki was not a nice trickster.  He managed to get the most beloved of the Norse gods, Baldr.  Baldr was so loved amongst the gods that everything had sworn never to harm him.  Everything, that is, except miseltoe.  Loki found some misletoe and returned to the gods who were enjoying themselves by throwing all manner of weapons at Baldr and watching them bounce off.  Hod, Baldr's brother, who was blind, was not able join in with the 'festivities'.  Loki helpfully let Hod fire a miseltoe at Baldr which killed him and upset the rest of the gods.  Loki ended up being bound to a rock by his son's entrails and having a snake drip its poison into his mouth.    
If there's one thing that could be said about the ancient gods it's that they really know how to sort out their punishments.

Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner

Meep meep!
The premise could not be simpler.  A coyote chases a roadrunner.  How could you devote so much cartoon time to such a thing?  Well, as it seems, you can.  All you need is a roadrunner, a coyote, a road, a desert and a company that seems to make literally anything.  When it involves anything as simple as catching a roadrunner, no one is as talented as coyote when it comes to thinking up increasingly more elaborate and bizarre schemes.  Unfortunately, cartoon physics is Coyote's worst enemy and it regularly injures and humiliates him.  However, thankfully for us, Coyote just won't give up and this winning formula has provided us with hours of quality entertainment.  I guess there are three tricksters in the cartoon - Coyote, Roadrunner and the cartoon itself.


Q could literally pop up in any time and place.  He is an omnipotent being who can control time and space, but the use of his powers seems to extend to wearing silly costumes, stealing Captain Picard's chair and taking the mick out of his crew.  He appears in the first Star Trek:  Next Generation episode and puts humanity on trial for behaving in a primitive and brutal fashion.  He also appears when he gives Riker Q powers to learn from humanity, when he loses his powers, when he discovers a member of the Q living as a human, when he hurls the Enterprise through space to warn them of the Borg and in the finale to help save humanity.  He also appears when Picard is being operated on but that may be a hallucination.   Q is sometimes a hindrance, sometimes a help but he is always an irritaton.  Although Q is sometimes helpful, he never helps in a straightforward way and only does so after setting little tests for Picard.  

So that's it for some famous tricksters.  Next week, I'll write about some RPG races with trickster qualities.

Until then, happy gamebooking!


  1. I've seen the repercussions of cultures that celebrate the Ananse mentality

    1. Repercussions is never a word with positive connotations, but I would like to hear more. As bad as they can be, tricksters are important to society - they want change to happen. A stable, happy society does not allow change, but a horrible one does.