Gematria is a kind of Numerology in Jewish Mysticism. It's basically just an interpretive thing not unlike I Ching or Tarot, but what I find uniquely interesting about it is that there is an actual algorithm you can work with.
Of course any meaning you derive is going to be of an interpretive, personal, symbolic, etc. nature, but it can be operationalized quantitatively and used to produce reliable results, and I just find that really interesting; it's like divinatory math poetry.
I wrote a Gematria calculator in python that does some unique things compared to some of the other Gematria calculators available online, but real Gematria is a little too complicated as a game mechanic, so here's a much simpler Gematria Cipher, which I will use for Gematria Concept Crafting and Gematria Divination, bolt-on mechanics for any game using Concept Crafting (which can already be bolted-on to any rules-light game basically), but in particular for MRD Vol.2 (for a deeper discussion on Concept Crafting in MRD Vol.2 see Mecha Gear for Maximum Recursion Depth Vol. 2).
Maximum Recursion Depth Vol.2 incorporates elements of Judaism into the setting and mechanics in the first place, so Gematria is uniquely suited, but this could be a really cool and unique magical or occult framework for any game.
Gematria Concept Crafting Cipher
(SUM(c for c in W) % 6) + 1
Where W is a word and c is each character in the word.
% means modulo:
a % b = r
Think of it like division, where:
a = numeratorb = denominatorr = remainder
So for "max":
m=13a=1x=2413+1+24=38(38%6)+1=338/6=6.33or in terms of integer division:38//6=6meaning, 6 goes into 38 6 times with remainder 2:6*6=3638-36=2And then we add 1, so that any word could have a value between 1 through 7(rather than 0 through 6).
Excuse any weird formatting, I only just added this CSS template for code blocks to my blog and still figuring out all the weird side-effects with blogger...
Gematria Calculator for Gematria Concept Crafting and DivinationCalculate Gematria for Word:
Gematria Concept Crafting
This is a bolt-on mechanic that could be added to any game with Concept Crafting, and MRD Vol. 2 in particular. Any two Words with the same Gematria Value can be combined to make any new Word with the same Gematria Value.
This differs from normal Concept Crafting in that the new Word isn't necessarily related to the preceding Words, but instead the shared Gematria Value.
Example: WOOD and METAL both have a Gematria Value of 4, but AXE has a Gematria Value of 1, so you couldn't craft WOOD+METAL=AXE like you might normally with Concept Crafting. However, DEMON does have a Gematria Value of 4, so you could summon a DEMON from WOOD+METAL using the awesome occult powers of Gematria! What does it mean to summon a WOOD+METAL=DEMON? Perhaps it's a mechanical monstrosity, a metaphor for deforestation and the effect of humanity on ecosystems?
Obviously this requires some refereeing, like maybe don't let PCs continue to use the same Words all the time, or they need to elaborate on it sort of like I did with DEMON above, but I'm not putting hard rules on it at the moment.
Another mechanic using the same Gematria Cipher.
Each Gematria value (1 through 7) has some tarot-like prophetic meaning, where I'm defining these meanings loosely from the numbers' significance in Judaism:
- One is all, all is One.
- Two is the line dividing One; The Knowledge of Good and Evil (and everything in between).
- Three is a priestly blessing; the laying of hands (two) on the individual (one). Holy, Holy, Holy!
- Four is the perception of spacetime; the cardinal directions, the three dimensions of space, and one dimension of time.
- Five are the grains and the abundance they provide, civilization, and growth.
- Six are the days of work and also of creation.
- Seven is the day of rest, the completeness of the world, luck, and love.
A Gematria Divination entails using two Words with the same Gematria Value, but instead of creating a new Word, one creates a prophecy interpreted by the combination of the Gematria Value's meaning as described above and the two Words.
A WIS Save (or whatever other resolution mechanic) might determine degree of success, unexpected positive/negative externalities, etc., but it's a way for a PC to affect the world in a more metaphysical way by divining things.
Example: A Gematria Divination for the Words TRAIN and TEA have the Gematria Value 3. Three is a priestly blessing; bring a green tea on your next commute and offer it to a stranger. This stranger will provide you with the knowledge you were looking for.
This is all still untested/WIP, but I also want to create a new Nazarite Contract for MRD Vol. 2 leveraging these mechanics in some unique ways, so that might be a future blog post.