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Humbaba

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Humbaba is a spirit from the Ghostbusters RPG's Tobin's Spirit Guide (RPG).

Tobin's SummaryEdit

in mankind's unrecorded past, some nameless individual discovered that wood could be used as a building material. This revelation changed the course of civilization; nevermore would man have to content himself with huddling in caves or piling up stones to form the walls of an enclosure. Wood was easier to carry than stone, easier to work with, and could be found in great abundance in places where natural stone shelters were not available. But, the world being what it is, very seldom does a good thing occur without a negative aspect. To this day, man continues to harvest trees and use the lumber for the good of society-to make houses, ships, packing crates, match sticks. And to this day, every time a tree is cut down, the offender risks incurring the terrible wrath of Humbaba. This spirit was first named and described in the great Gilgamesh Epic composed in ancient Assyria. The Epic stands today as probably the oldest, and one of the longest, poems ever written. It treats of many subjects, but here we are concerned with one small section, wherein is described the awakening of Humbaba, the great giant who guarded the mountain cedars. The spirit first appeared before a powerful man named Enkidu, who strode into the virgin forest and, with one swing of his massive axe, felled a majestic cedar. As big and strong as Enkidu was, he was as a babe compared to the form and power of the entity whose attention he had unwittingly attracted. As the sound of the tree falling to earth began to reverberate through the forest, it was drowned out by an angry voice: "Who has entered my forest and cut down one of my trees?" The voice belonged, of course, to Humbaba. His body, manlike in general form, was as tall as most of the trees in the forest he oversaw. But at the same time, it was the body of more than a man and less than a man. He had the paws of a lion at the ends of his arms, the claws of a vulture in place of human feet, the horns of a wild bull atop his head, and a snake's head at the end of a massive tail that protruded from his lower back. All the other parts of his body were covered with thick, horny scales, making him both invulnerable and immensely powerful. The poem does not relate what became of Enkidu, at least not in any parts of the epic that have been discovered and translated to date. But we do know, from subsequent sightings of Humbaba, that the giant is not especially fast or nimble, and when he attacks he must do so in a very careful, deliberate fashion so as not to knock down or damage any trees. Thus it is quite possible that Enkidu himself managed to escape the giant's wrath and share his experience with the scribes who set down the text of the Gilgamesh Epic. It is apparent that when Humbaba became aware of what had happened to the cedar, he then looked down from his mountaintop abode for the first time and realized that men had been chopping down trees for quite some time. Taking it upon himself to put an end to this depredation, he descended into the realm of men and became what we might describe as the world's first conservationist. When Humbaba materializes, his visual form is always preceded by his voice, asking a rhetorical question identical with or similar to the one that the giant posed to Enkidu. No one whom he catches in the act is immune from punishment, but Humbaba does tend to go easier on those who own up to what they have done. If the offender identifies himself and admits to his mistake, Humbaba reaches out with one of his vulture-clawed feet and snatches away the tool that was used to do the cutting or chopping. His grasp cannot be resisted, and anyone who tries to do is fortunate if he comes away from the encounter with only a dislocated shoulder. With the axe or saw or wedge or whatever firmly in his talons, Humbaba booms, "No more!" and then disappears, taking the implement with him. If the offender says nothing (the usual response of someone speechless with terror), denies Humbaba's accusation, or tries to turn and run, Humbaba gets angry. Reports of what he does at this juncture vary widely, suggesting that the giant is quite intelligent and capable of employing any tactic that fits the situation.

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