Created By: Goldfritha on October 4, 2012 Last Edited By: Goldfritha on October 11, 2012

The Sacrifice

Making an offering to the gods

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Sacrificing a young boar (to be the caption)

An old, pious, and pervasive practice -- making an offering to the gods.

While this is Truth in Television, fictionally, it tends to be the more dramatic animal sacrifices rather than the cheaper and more commonplace things such as wine, or flowers. Animals are also often entirely burned up when offered in fiction. While this was sometimes practiced -- and the technical term for it is a holocaust -- generally just part of it was actually burnt; the rest was cooked up and eaten by the sacrificers.

Super Trope of Human Sacrifice (and therefore Virgin Sacrifice); please include only non-human sacrifices here. Also, because this is a widespread custom, only include particularly striking Real Life examples.

Examples

Literature
  • In Rick Riordan's The Heroes of Olympus book The Mark of Athena, Percy has them sacrifice Chrysaor's boat and all the Pirate Booty to Dionysus.
  • The Dragon Jousters novels don't show the sacrifices, but they're used to justify keeping dragons for military use. The gods take the spirit and blood of the (many, many) sacrificial animals, and most of the leftover meat goes to feed the dragons.
  • Sacrificing animals is fairly common on Discworld. In Mort, the coronation of Princess Keli involves a nearly-blind priest and a confused goat. The audience brings raincoats.
  • In the Marcus Didius Falco novels, sacrifices to the Gods are common and routine, as you might expect for a work set in the Roman Empire. Falco's not particularly devout (though he does end up keeper of the sacred geese for a while), but many of his acquaintances make regular sacrifices.

Tabletop RPG
  • Dungeons & Dragons has had a number of examples of this over the years.
    • Deities and Demigods Cyclopedia. Appendix 3 (Clerical Quick-Reference Charts) had data on each deity, including when and which items were sacrificed to them. For example, the standard sacrifice to the Celtic deity Arawn was valuable items when a worshipper died.
    • Module D3 Vault of the Drow. In the Drow temple to Lolth, worshippers could make sacrifices to Lolth and receive advice from her clerics.
    • Module T1-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil. In the Fire Elemental temple visitors can sacrifice valuable treasure in a fire pit.

Theater
  • In Dorothy L. Sayers's The Emperor Constantine, Livia, hearing that her husband died in battle and lost, announces that a prophecy that an enemy of Rome would die that die has come true. She tells Constantine that she had promised to sacrifice cattle in thanksgiving if it were true; Constantine, who has not quite grasped the whole Christianity thing yet, agrees.

Myths & Legends
  • Polykrates offered the gods a precious ring as a sacrifice. It proved a Clingy MacGuffin, reappearing in the stomach of a fish he ate, and thus did the gods reject it.

Video Games
  • This is a huge part of The King of Dragon Pass. Sacrificing to the gods can convince them to smite your enemies, bless your clan, or teach you their secrets, among other things. You can also build temples that provide permanent benefits but cost upkeep in the form of annual sacrifices to their respective gods.
  • In Riven, a temple has several offerings of fruit to a statue of a whark.
  • In Black & White, mana can be generated by sacrificing anything living. People work best, but this hurts your Karma Meter.
  • In Dungeon Keeper, minions (mostly monsters) can be sacrificed by dropping them into a temple with a font. Sacrificing the right minions can earn a keeper several benefits (or curses, if the wrong minions are sacrificed), and is one of the only reliable ways to recruit the much coveted Horned Reaper into your dungeon's army.
  • In NetHack, if you find an altar of your alignment, you can sacrifice the corpses of monsters you slay there, and gain luck, as long as the corpses are fresh--Gods don't like stale offerings. Sacrifice enough and you can even be gifted with an artifact, though this will reset your luck back to neutral. (Just don't sacrifice a human, unless you're chaotic.) If you find an altar that's not of your alignment, you can try to convert it with a sacrifice, but this is risky--if it fails, your god may take offense.
  • In Myst IV, the player must make an offering to a nature spirit in order to receive its guidance through the spirit world. The offering is either smoke, a bubble, or a dandelion puff, depending on the spirit chosen.

Community Feedback Replies: 20
  • October 4, 2012
    KTera
    This is a huge part of The King Of Dragon Pass. Sacrificing to the gods can convince them to smite your enemies, bless your clan, or teach you their secrets, among other things. You can also build temples that provide permanent benefits but cost upkeep in the form of annual sacrifices to their respective gods.
  • October 5, 2012
    Astaroth
    In Dungeon Keeper, minions can be sacrificed by dropping them into a temple with a font. Sacrificing the right minions can earn a keeper several benefits (or curses, if the wrong minions are sacrificed), and is one of the only reliable ways to recruit the much coveted Horned Reaper into your dungeon's army.
  • October 5, 2012
    DracMonster
    Sacrificial Offering might be a better title - The Sacrifice sounds like a sister trope to Heroic Sacrifice,
  • October 5, 2012
    Generality
  • October 5, 2012
    Goldfritha
    The offering is the object, not the act. Besides, it also sounds like "scapegoat" rather than sacrifice.

    Given its actual name is sacrifice, it would probably work better.
  • October 5, 2012
    Goldfritha
    Is the Dungeon keeper example Human Sacrifice?
  • October 6, 2012
    Astaroth
    ^ There's a mix of humans and non-humans you can have as minions, but most of them are monsters unless you've been converting heroes by torturing them
  • October 6, 2012
    DracMonster
    ^^^ Sacrificial Offering can refer to the act (Since you're offering a sacrifice, you're making a Sacrificial Offering.)

    EDIT: Uh.. maybe not... <goes into a grammar induced haze>
  • October 6, 2012
    Antigone3
    The Dragon Jousters novels don't show the sacrifices, but they're used to justify keeping dragons for military use. The gods take the spirit and blood of the (many, many) sacrificial animals, and most of the leftover meat goes to feed the dragons.
  • October 6, 2012
    jatay3
    Jewish customs of sacrifice can be found in the other wiki:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korban#The_end_of_sacrifices
  • October 7, 2012
    Xtifr
    Literature
    • Sacrificing animals is fairly common on Discworld. In Mort, the coronation of Princess Keli involves a nearly-blind priest and a confused goat. The audience brings raincoats.
    • In the Marcus Didius Falco novels, sacrifices to the Gods are common and routine, as you might expect for a work set in the Roman Empire. Falco's not particularly devout (though he does end up keeper of the sacred geese for a while), but many of his acquaintances make regular sacrifices.

    Video Games
    • In Net Hack, if you find an altar of your alignment, you can sacrifice the corpses of monsters you slay there, and gain luck, as long as the corpses are fresh--Gods don't like stale offerings. Sacrifice enough and you can even be gifted with an artifact, though this will reset your luck back to neutral. (Just don't sacrifice a human, unless you're chaotic.) If you find an altar that's not of your alignment, you can try to convert it with a sacrifice, but this is risky--if it fails, your god may take offense.
  • October 7, 2012
    Arivne
    Tabletop RPG
    • Dungeons And Dragons has had a number of examples of this over the years.
      • Deities and Demigods Cyclopedia. Appendix 3 (Clerical Quick-Reference Charts) had data on each deity, including when and which items were sacrificed to them. For example, the standard sacrifice to the Celtic deity Arawn was valuable items when a worshipper died.
      • Module D3 Vault of the Drow. In the Drow temple to Lolth, worshippers could make sacrifices to Lolth and receive advice from her clerics.
      • Module T1-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil. In the Fire Elemental temple visitors can sacrifice valuable treasure in a fire pit.
  • October 8, 2012
    Generality
    • In Myst IV, the player must make an offering to a nature spirit in order to receive its guidance through the spirit world. The offering is either smoke, a bubble, or a dandelion puff, depending on the spirit chosen.
  • October 8, 2012
    shimaspawn
    The name needs to go. Right now it sounds as if it's about a character who takes a bullet for another character. Or a mother who starves so her children could live.

    I would go with Divine Sacrifice instead. You need an adjective here.
  • October 9, 2012
    Xtifr
    I agree, Divine Sacrifice would be clearer and would help avoid possible misuse.
  • October 9, 2012
    Chabal2
    • The Bible: part of the rivalry between Cain And Abel was that Cain offered vegetables to God, while Abel gave meat, and God showed preference for Abel.
      • Abraham narrowly avoided this trope for Human Sacrifice: he was about to sacrifice his own son as ordered when an angel appeared to tell him his faith had been deemed sufficient. Then they noticed a ram had gotten stuck in the bushes nearby, and sacrificed it instead.
    • Arcanum has a long sidequest chain where you make offerings to various gods, giving you different stat boosts every time. For example, the ogre god's altar requires a ruby, and increases your constitution.
  • October 10, 2012
    Goldfritha
    The sacrifice is not divine, any more than Heroic Sacrifice means a sacrifice made to a hero of a cult in ancient Greece. Anyone who would mistake The Sacrifice for a metaphorical sacrifice would also take Divine Sacrifice as a metaphorical sacrifice made by a god.

    Really, it's bad enough, objecting to a plain English word being used in its plain English meaning (and editing someone else's YKTTW in the process).
  • October 10, 2012
    shimaspawn
    <Mod Mode>

    You can not launch this trope under this name. Currently it is too easily confused with Heroic Sacrifice and other tropes. If you do not change the name, this YKTTW will be discard.
  • October 10, 2012
    Chabal2
  • October 11, 2012
    Arivne
    Non Human Sacrifice?

    Unless someone might think it's a sacrifice by non humans...
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=hzwe9wo0crj93i341xhqcovu