Archive for Random Thoughts

Malus

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on June 22, 2012 by reignofjotuns

I have made a habit of naming all of my PCs after apples. It’s surprisingly easy- you can start with the simple ones, like Macintosh, Braeburn, Jonagold, and then you really get into the world of apples and find out that a character can be named anything from “Aerlie Red-flesh” to “Zestar!”. While trying to think of a god for the cleric PC I made for last night’s New Feierland game (the cleric’s name was Reverend Morgan) I came up with a justification for this:

The church of Malus is inconspicuous, small, and nearly omnipresent. It may only be represented by one clergyman living in a rented room, but it is represented in nearly all cities worth going to. There is no official hierarchy within the clergy, no official prayers, and churches to Malus are rare. Men are appointed to the clergy by existing members, with little ceremony at all, save an oath never to eat worms (very few worshippers, in fact, are not clergymen). If the god has an alignment, it is probably neutral- according to his clergy, he supports clean living, heavy drinking, fresh fruit, dessert, plenty of exercise, relaxation, and free love. Malus’ gift to earth is the apple tree, and in his honor all worshippers of Malus are given one of his many names by a local clergy (or by themselves, nobody cares).

The church is in the curious position, relative to other churches, of posing no credible threat while still teaching everything directly contrary to any other church at all. If you ask a cleric of Malus what he teaches, he’ll tell you that sermons are boring, dancing is for fools, clothing is stuffy, nudity is pointless, murder can be necessary, love everybody that you don’t already like or hate, racism should be applied to all races to be fair, fairness is naive, and anthropophagy is optional. All other churches hate Malus, and will persecute his worshippers if it’s convenient, but rarely speak out against him, for fear that other clergy will think they take him too seriously and peasants will sign up in droves.

Synonyms For Necromancer

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on February 24, 2012 by reignofjotuns

Generally, if you’re talking about one with power over the undead, you say ‘necromancer’. But, of course, the word is relatively unrelated in etymology; it means something along the lines of ‘dead body diviner’, which I would say sounds like an extremely evocative name for a spirit called up by ‘speak with dead’. If I’m going to use it for that, however, I need an alternate name for sorcerers specialising in reanimation; here are a few that I would rather use.

Aculeiform Thanatopsist. Aculeiform, meaning ‘thorn-like’, and thanatopsis, meaning ‘view of death’. Linguists correct me if I am wrong, but one who thinks about death frequently could then be called a ‘thanatopsist’. This would mean ‘a thorn-like person who thinks about death’, or ‘one who looks on death like a thorn’. Thanatologist might be a safer bet, but I prefer the relative obsucrity of ‘opsis’ to the relatively commonplace ‘ology’. Alternately, sagittiform (like an arrow) would work.

Abraidener, from the Middle English verb ‘abraiden’ (alternately, abreiden and therefore abreidener), meaning to start up, rouse, reproach, or move. Abraiden comes from the even elder ‘abregdan’, meaning to ‘pull out, wrench out, draw, unsheathe, lift up, start up’, usually used in relation to a sword, or possibly a conflict. This has the advantage of being obsolete English, and so sounding familiar, as well as having a relatively simple meaning.

Bantling-daw, meaning ‘bastard child crow’. This one works well as a term for the common man to use, derogatorily, being made of common English words recently fallen out of use.

Carnedaedalus, an artificer of flesh.

Desacralist, from desacralise, meaning ‘to divest of sacred qualities or religious significance’. This could therefore mean either one who desecrates, or a pragmatist who cares little for religious tradition.

Flamen Carnis, meaning ‘priest of flesh’.

Fossarian, usually meaning one of two things: 1) a minor 4th century clergyman employed as a gravedigger, or 2) one of a 15th century sect which rejected the sacraments and instead celebrated their own peculiar rites in ditches and caves. Rich history, already has varied meaning, comes from the same root as ‘fossil’ and ‘fossor’-

Frithwreck, from ‘frith’, an Old English word meaning peace, sanctuary, preservation, etc.

Inquinator Mors, as far as I know, is Latin for ‘one who corrupts or pollutes death or the dead’. This one is probably one of my most etymologically pure, but it doesn’t really roll off the tongue. Oh well.

Lethologist, one who studies oblivion or forgetfulness.

Necrodaedalus, one who crafts or crafts with corpses.

Necrogyve, ‘one who binds or shackles the dead’.

Ossedaedalus, a crafter of bones.

Learning Traveller

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on February 7, 2012 by reignofjotuns

I recently managed to get ahold of PDFs of the Classic Traveller core books and supplements. After having heard so much about them around the internet, I was extremely excited when I first looked at them. I should point out that I am not what I would call a Sci-fi geek (not that I don’t want to be, I just haven’t gotten around to it). My experience with Sci-fi can be summed up quite briefly:

Firefly (all episodes at least twice- we had a borrowed DVD collection for a relatively long while), Serenity, Star Wars (my dad used to show us the original trilogy a lot), Tron, The Last Starfighter (my great-uncle rented it from Blockbuster- else I never would have thought to watch it), Poul Anderson’s Hoka stories, The Hitchhiker’s Guide series, two of the short stories from I, Robot, ‘I, Robot’ (the Will Smith flick), MiB 1 and 2, some of the Vorkosigan saga, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, The Rolling Stones, Podkayne of Mars, Star Beast, Glory Road, and Red Planet, Heavy Metal, Llana of Gathol and John Carter of Mars, Schlock Mercernary, Dresden Codak, Batman Beyond, Dexter’s Lab, Samurai Jack, Thundercats (the original). Does Gremlins count? What about The Matrix?

I’m not sure how that list measures up to the Sum Total Of All Science Fiction, but as far as I’m concerned, I am much more involved in fantasy. I don’t actively seek out Sci-fi. But Traveller, I think, might help with that a bit.

At first, I read diligently, but ultimately just skimmed. Rules are boring, and they’re much harder to read when you all you have is a .PDF rather than an easy-on-the-eyes hardcopy. I am now actually taking the time to test out the character creation rules, and it comes to life for me. Originally, I had planned to fill every line of a page with character- as I  write this, I have decided, this task finished, that I should add a second column. Character creation is actually that fun. Every time I roll up stats (UPP) I mentally evaluate which service this character would be best for as the stats come up. I’ve even started to convert the numbers rolled to hexadecimal like it ain’t no thing, and come up with a mnemonic for UPP order (Some Dumb Everyman In Exotic Space). Character creation is that fun.

I’m sure this system would work great for a Firefly-inspired campaign, and I’m seeing lots of stuff around the web to support that, but my personal evaluation is “Bujold Novel RPG”. Case in point: 4 in 6 characters are in the military, swords and polearms are still in frequent use, and Social Standing as a stat. Make of that what you will.

Comparing this system to Firefly works, I guess- the ideal firearm for many of my characters is the shotgun. Also, cloth armor- which according to the wiki is inappropriate for formal occasions unless specifically tailored, but not culturally odd to wear publicly. I’m picturing Malcolm Reynold’s coat. But the ships in Traveller RAW work differently, and if I wanted to play a campaign based on Firefly, it would be the episode with the fancy dress party and the sword duel.

It’s neat that the game works entirely using d6- I usually have 5-7 of those in my pocket at any time. I do like rolling all the wierd dice, though- I’m sure I can find some way to work them in.

Creating the characters, I was so astounded at the amounts of money they were getting as ‘Mustering Out’ benefits relative to the cost of equipment that I stopped listing equipment that wasn’t gotten free as another benefit after the first character. Now I’m looking at the Starships rules and I’m astounded that anybody manages to get the ship equivalent of a beat-up Toyota without becoming a wanted man in the process. I can see this game is well able to keep people on their toes.

I hope that I can resist at least until the Beetledome is complete.

In other news- I have only five experience points to go before reaching level 15. That’s just 370 until level 16!

Dwarven Tidbits

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on February 5, 2012 by reignofjotuns

From my

campaign

world

Four for strength, Seven for luck,

Thirteen to keep fortune from fattening much.

             -Dwarvish Children’s Rhyme

The number thirteen has held special significance to the Dwarves for a long time. It has been a tradition among many clans to build particularly important rooms with thirteen sides since at least the year 700. Due to the Dwarves long-suffered ill fortune (which none talk about as much as they), Men have long associated the number with that ill fortune. the Dwarves say sardonically that if this is so, then they should keep using the number thirteen- with all the bad luck that comes to them, they wouldn’t want to go soft!

Dwarven folk stories are hardly ever about senseless heroics or renown. Rather, they match the humors of the Dwarves themselves, and therefore usually begin sadly, end badly, and have protagonists who are surly, cynical, vengeful, and yet wise. A popular story that is told to the children of Dwarves and Men alike (though sometimes with different purpose) runs as follows:

A Dwarf was returning to his clan from a visit to another. This required him to head aboveground through lands where no Dwarves lived at that time, which was normally no trouble to him- but this time, a great storm struck while he was travelling, filled with winds and rain and thunder, and he was forced to seek shelter in the hall of a human. This human’s name was Brevaldi, and he was but a minor chieftain among his people. His hall was thatched with straw, and had but a small pen for pigs and a stable for no more than two horses. When the Dwarf knocked at his door asking shelter from the storm, he said: “Allow such a filthy creature as yourself in my hall, in the name of hospitality? When have you given such to men?”

The Dwarf replied, “If you will but let me stay the night, my clan will offer shelter to you and yours whenever you should need it.”

“Faugh!”, he answered, “What should I want with your dark and unwelcome halls? I will allow you to stay in the stable, with the following conditions: you will pay me whatever gold you may have on you, you will join my kitchen thralls in serving food and drink tonight, and you will take nothing which you are not offered, or I will set my three hounds on you!”

The Dwarf paid him the thirteen gold pieces which he had brought with him. These were much larger, and of purer gold than the coins Brevaldi was accustomed to and was expecting to be paid, but he said nothing. That night, the Dwarf served food and ale with the kitchen thralls, while Brevaldi and his men drunkenly heaped abuse upon him and the hounds snarled whenever he came near them. He was offered no food, and so took none, not even the scraps that the thralls ate when all had gone to bed. He slept in the stable in the damp hay, scarcely drier than the grass outside in the storm.

That morning, he said nothing before he left but this: “You are a fool. Farewell, and I leave with you my fortune.” That afternoon, it was discovered that crucial beams had been sawn through when the hall fell over in a strong wind.

Traditional Dwarven ale may be distinguished by its metallic taste. While enjoyable, one should avoid drinking too frequently; this taste comes from water-soluble copper, and drinking it more than need demands leads to problems in the bones.  -Gleowin the Bard, Alcohols of the world

And there were all the flying things, and all the swimming things, and all the climbing things, and all the crawling things, and all the burrowing things, and they went about the world, each and his mate deciding their talents, so that there might be all manner of creatures when Men finally came to be.

And the most burrowing things decided to become worms, and badgers, and moles, and rabbits, and snakes, and beetles, but two of them decided instead to burrow very deep indeed, and so hoped to find their talents.

And as they burrowed, they passed by many things most wondrous and strange, and were filled with questions, but they could understand nothing- for understanding still was a talent that was reserved for Men, and such things that had it already. The two passed many such things, but they could ask no questions of them, not understanding speech. So deeper and deeper they burrowed, until they came at last to a great heat.

And they saw before them the great beast that is father to all beasts, the name of which is Dragon; The great thing that holds up the earth and is imprisoned beneath it, that claws at it with immense hands as slowly as trees may grow, the great hands that are strong enough to squeeze the blood like fire from the rock.

And he understood many things in his immense groaning, and the two sat and listened for many score years until they understood- and they lived there in the deepest depths for many years and had many children. –Dwarven myth on the origin of the Dwarves

Campaign Basics and Unnecessary Detail

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on January 3, 2012 by reignofjotuns

My campaign is going to be set in a likely northern area, filled with moor and fen and fir. Something like what you think of when you picture the wilderness from The Hobbit, listen to the lyrics to Dire Wolf, or if you’re me, first hear the name ‘Blackmoor’ without any real context. The main location is going to be a dungeon, maybe ten levels, more or less, underneath an old castle. To help me with this, I’m using some Python-based Markovian name generators. I take the base code (found online), and input a list of names and it will output names that sound plausibly like them. I changed a couple things, like having it generate 5 names at a time, run infinitely, and request input between generations. Wikipedia has provided me with the lists for the first two (based on Norse and Greek mythology, respectively), though I still have to manually input each name and format it right (that’s pretty much all the python I know). I’m making one based on Tolkien, since he makes great names and I happen to have a copy of Lord of the Rings with an index of people and places in the back- unfortunately, I didn’t realize the sheer amount I would have to transcribe. I’ve just gotten through the E’s, testing as I go, and it generated one name that really stood out. It looked kind of like ‘beetledome’. So that’s what I named the castle: The Beetledome. Strangely, I feel no desire to come up with backstory for this name, but I do feel like listing the lords and ladies of the Beetledome in order. Here they are. I used a last name mostly of my design (Varghare), but stole the given names from the Brandybuck family tree in the back of my book.

Marmadoc, son of Rufus (1134-1236)
First lord and founder of the Beetledome from 1161-1197

Once I had already written down the span of this guy’s life, I realized this would put his dying age at 102 (hobbits living longer than mere men). I decided that one of the many peculiarities of this line would be their mysterious longevity.

Gorbadoc, son of Marmadoc (1162-1251)
Second lord of the Beetledome (1197-1221)

I decided that Gorbadoc died without heir, and so was succeeded by
Merimac, son of Dodinas Gorbadoc’s brother (1191-1221)
Third lord of the Beetledome (briefly, 1221)

Ahh, time for intrigue.

Doderic the usurper, son of Dodinas (1185-1229)
Fourth lord of the Beetledome (1221-1229)

Who is then vanquished by a forgotten, illegitimate heir.
Obviously, an illegitimate child is, more or less by definition, not a legitimate heir, but the people don’t really care- they let those lords do what they want over there in their castle.

Madoc the vengeful, son of Merimac (1205-1312)
Fifth lord of the Beetledome (1229-1312)

Orgulas, son of Madoc (1248-1323)
Sixth lord of the Beetledome (1312-1323)

Now, here’s a story that I quite like, but that will never be heard by the players unless they read through the library for fun or talk to a ghost. The strange people of Fennario and their strange lords have never answered to the king in any but superficial manner- occasionally they may send a handful of slingers to help in some minor war or another, and some tax money is sent, but the lord Varghare never attends councils (nor is he missed) and the money sent is always either slightly less or conspicuously more than it should be. No one is sent to audit, few knights request lodgings in the Beetledome. They could almost be an independent city-state, save that A) they have no city, just a smallish village, and B) the lords Varghare have always referred to themselves as ‘Baron’, so as to avoid confrontation with their ‘liege’. Marmadoc, and later Madoc referred to themselves as ‘Knights of the Beetledome’. Until, on the day when his father Orgulas dies and the title passes to him, Seredic gathers the people in the town square and foolishly declares himself the Emperor of the new Independent Empire of Fennario. The crowd turns on him, and shoves the still bloody crown onto the head of his younger brother. Thus we have

Seredic, son of Orgulas (1277-1324)
Seventh lord of the Beetledome and first Emperor of Fennario (very briefly, 1324)

Doderic II (‘the humble’ and ‘the nervous’), son of Orgulas (1281-1362)
Eighth lord of the Beetledome (1324-1362)

Milo, son of Doderic (1303-1394)
Ninth lord of the Beetledome (1362-1394)

Milo published the infamous ‘Proclamation of St. Antwelm’ in 1369, which declared that
1) no longer would Fennario honor the saints of the traditional canon, who were largely rather embarrassing, but instead make up their own (starting with one named ‘St. Antwelm the Drunken’)
And 2) founded a yearly feast in St. Antwelm’s honor, during which there would be drinking and smoking and silly hats and silly games like ‘hunt the wocket’.
He also, at the seventh feast of St. Antwelm, set the castle stables on fire to fool the citizenry into thinking that a dragon was attacking. None fell for it, but to this day you can hear the neighing of the horses on cold winter’s nights.

And finally
Dinodas, son of Milo (1348-1400)
Tenth lord of the Beetledome (1394-1400)

Who does not yet have any significant quirks associated with him.

Random Thoughts: action movie one-liners

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on October 4, 2011 by reignofjotuns

I’ll give you one chance. Heads, you live.

flip

Ooh, bad luck. I accidentally flipped a Chuck E. Cheese’s token.