Friday, July 30, 2010

A Revisit

This post is a year and one month old and I wrote it as a way to kind of ask myself questions to get more info about my world...from myself. Anyway, I do love the retcon machete and I thought it would be fun to go through the post question by question and fill in what has changed about my campaign world.

A thousand year war? Seriously?
-Kind of a stretch, I know. But is it really a thousand years or was it just agreed upon that it was a long period of warfare and a lot of records were lost (Kusseth City itself lost three analytical engines and documentation storage facilities). Who says it lasted a thousand years anyways? Kusseth? The New Empire? What about the elves of Volungsheim? They are immortal after all.

Machete Use: Minimal, there are no elves in my world now that I've stepped away from the whole "fantasy must have elfiness" mindset, it is also called Volungshemle now.

Are there dragons in the world?
-Yes. They are neither metallic nor chromatic or crystalline. This goofy ass color related shit DnD has pulled is weird and has always bugged me. My dragons are much like komodo dragons, just bigger and more dragon-like. Their "fire" breath is actually a pair of venoms that when combined in oxygen begin to burn. Its kind of swirling around in the back of my brain, but I'm picturing a Council of Wyrms-esque setting (Which only means something if you know your AD&D settings.) on a continent to the south of The Known World. Maybe.

Machete Use: Minimal, probably won't do a southern land ruled by dragons, but a primordial one full of dinosaur type creatures would be a fun exploration experience for the group. The countries of The Known World are looking to expand.

If the continent the Empire of Kaleshmar was built on exploded in the unnamed magical catastrophe, why is the Old Empire about three feet off the shore of The Known World?
-Kaleshmar was big, Pangaea big, likely bigger. Every continent (including The Known World) in the hemisphere was a piece of Kaleshmar. If you go a couple of inches beyond the paper borders of my drawn map you find other continents. One is a barren island composed of the remnants of the huge crystalline towers the Kaleshmarians dwelled in. Might be fun to explore that one.

Machete Use: Borderline nothing. The Island of Crystalline Towers is where Walthuler went. Kaleshmar was a flying island now though, so The Known World was kind of under it I guess, rather than being a piece of it. I wonder what lived on it before Kaleshmar burned the sky and crashed into the seas.

How advanced are the Abraxen Orcs?
-Early 1900s era technology.

Machete Use: These words remain true, except the orc part. They're just called Greyskin Abraxens now.

Why is Kusseth so lawless?
-Everything in Kusseth is taxed, including corruption and breaking the law. Fines are the most common form of punishment in Kusseth with only a rare few crimes are punishable by death (mainly those involve pissing off wardens). It is more productive to use a warden to extort a crime lord and take a percentage of the warden's take than it is to shut the crime lord down outright. If the people of Kusseth really truly wanted law and order, they'd murder the crime lords and bards and petty criminals themselves and save the officials the red tape of documenting and tracking all the bribes and kickbacks and fines. Kusseth bleeds every mark it can from its people, and this allows the nation to be the powerhouse of the Known World, rivaled only by the Fallen Empire, and New Empire.

Machete Use: Not at all.

What about the Dwarves and the Children of Volung, aren't they pretty tough?
-Dwarves are completely non-aggressive, mostly they just respond to attacks on them. Even then, the attacks on them are pretty fruitless. They outnumber every other nation in the Known World, but their cities are so deep they really don't need to bother with the above ground world. The Children of Volung are the least populous race (excluding the Fallen) in The Known World, without support from the Dwarves they would quickly fall to the superior numbers of the surrounding countries, but only in a full scale war situation. The warriors of Volungsheim are quite literally the most competent and deadly (excluding Cenn the Reaver) found in The Known World and only when outnumbered could they be conquered.

Machete Use: Quite a bit, dwarves are called Dwenoren now and are a lot different from typical fantasy dwarves. Also, reavers are the deadliest warriors in The Known World, but a lot of them are Children of Volung, so it kind of evens out.

What caused the long ass war?
-A rogue faction of the empire of Kaleshmar that did not become the Eldumans living in the Old Empire.

Macehte Use: Fuck if I know. What started off the war has become as much a mystery to me as it has to the people that dwell in The Known World. In the original incarnation this campaign world, it was Gorvixes. Anyone remember fucking Gorvixes?

-Kaleshmar was big and had lots of wicked powerful sorcerer types living in it. Plus they had colonized the whole world by the time their empire shattered. They didn't all land on the little rock that became the Old Empire, nor did all the tribes of that empire experience their own little dark age. The world is scattered with uprooted Kaleshmarians and their various plots and empires. It was a big empire and lots of people means lots of schisms among the population.

Machete Use: Heavily and violently. This bit is now non-canon. Heh. I should get a rubber stamp of that made too. I think I'd hit Eric in the face with it.

How and why?
-They wanted to destabilize The Known World and prevent the Eldumans of the Old Empire from having a support base should this rogue faction find itself needing to fight them.

Machete Use: Your guess is as good as mine.

How do Cromm Cruach and the Fey relate to Kaleshmar?
-They don't. The empire of Cromm Cruach and the Grey Wastes rose up after Kaleshmar was destroyed.

Machete Use: Pretty significant, his name is Keroen Skathos now and the Fey are called the Nel.

Ok, what about Balor and the Firbolgs and Fomorians, they predate Cromm and the Fey don't they?
-No, they don't.

Machete Use: Pretty significant. His name is Braldenon now, and they are called the mountain-kin and primordials of the Feronel now.

But Cromm discovered them and they were full-fledged civilizations that were locked in a war with each other.
-Not a question, but I'll explain. The Grey Wastes and the Fomorians and Firbolgs and Balor himself are/were figments of Cromm's imagination. Just like Herne was a figment of Mab's imagination. The Glamour of Rulers, and Cromm Cruach especially, is godawful powerful and Glamour turns the will of its wielder into reality.

Machete Use: Major. I've changed a lot of names, heh, you should read my story. Glamour is called Gifts now, and Herne is Herowen and Mab is Merobel. The early Nel aren't figments of Keroen Skathos' imagination anymore, he fed his power (his Gifts) into some strange misty phantoms and they gained corporeal form and became the Feronel races.

What are the sea-folk exactly?
-A tribe of Kaleshmarians that live in massive underwater cities. They did experience their own dark age when their magic failed and most of them died.

Machete Use: One word, magic should be technology.

How far out are you man?
-I'm pretty far out man.

Machete Use: Still hella true, and now I am listening to Bowie's In Space

Why is magic screwy in this world?
-It isn't screwy on the world, just on the continent called The Known World. This is because there are certain objects that regulate the ebb and flow of the cosmic energies that power creation. These objects are scattered across the world and one in particular lies somewhere in the Known World and it is malfunctioning. It is not the only one.

Machete Use: None.

Why call the continent The Known World if you admit that it is not the only continent on the Known World?
-Because the people dwelling there (aside from the Abraxens and Eldumans) are as self-centered and self-involved and pompous as early human civilizations were. Most think that they are the center of the universe, so that arrogance would of course lead to stupid shit like calling a relatively tiny chunk of land The Known World. The pirates of Haven have another name for The Known World.

Machete Use: None.

What is it?
-The Ass End of the Southern Seas.

Machete Use: None.

Why are Abraxens so savy with technology?
-They were enslaved long ago in their desert homeland by an invading force of Kaleshmarians. At this time they were primitive and didn't know shit (much like the orcish cliche' found in the Monster Manuals of the past). The Kaleshmarians were utterly corrupt and lazy and totally hedonistic. They did not care about their slaves, but they expected them to be competent, so Abraxen society and culture was eroded and replaced by Kaleshmar learning, except that the orcs had no talent for sorcery. They still made good slaves though. Now they were smart and they realized they were outgunned, so they used their newfound learning to fashion devices to mimic the powers of their enslavers. Then they gutted those sons of bitches.

Machete Use: Orcs are Greyskin Abraxens.

Why is every race so long-lived and/or immortal in your campaign?
-Hard to say. There is logic behind it though. The Fallen are immortal because the Bleak Tyrant won't let them die. The Children of Volung are immortal because Volung is a Ljosalf (sp?) and they ate other Ljosalves who ate Jotuns, who ate the fuck out of the gods of the north (who were actually a faction of Kaleshmarians that managed to survive the destruction of their empire with most of their arcane gadgetry, but not the magic that made it, intact.), that power is quite thin after all these years so the Children of Volung can't do the awesome shit he can, but it can still sustain their lives. Eldumans are immortal because their bodies are crafted from living crystal and their mental prowess fuels them. The Vyanth elves are immortal because their master the...D'ayO'hE'en (I have it written down somewhere but that is the gist of the name) infuses them with life and vitality. The Sereth are long-lived but not immortal because their creator the Fair One and his power are no longer living among them, eventually they won't live much longer than a normal human. Unless the Fair One is found.

Machete Use: Mostly true, but a lot of the names are different now because The North is no longer my Norse Story.

Why are the Children of Volung so bat shit crazy and violent?
-The Hunger, as detailed by Maggot in my Norse Story. They just don't know it though.

Machete Use: Still technically true I guess. I've toned down their insane violence though.

Why no gods?
-Because I don't like the idea of being totally subservient to some creature that can't understand the daily trials and tribulations of life. Plus, it means your character is a totally useless individual that is only competent because he has a divine creature paying attention to him once in a while. Seriously, what does a Cleric have without divine power backing him? A high Religion check, scale mail, and some weapon proficiencies. Maybe a flashy holy symbol he can sell for a few gold as well.

Machete Use: At this point, we're playing the potato poe-tah-toe game. The Bleak Tyrant isn't a god, but he can grant more power to his followers, tear down cities and buildings with his power, and reshape his country into a more pleasing environment. He can do big deal shit, and some people might worship him because of it. He isn't a creator of the universe, but he is definitely more than a dude with some magic.

Why put in stuff to take the place of gods for divine characters then?
-Because it isn't fair to just say "Nope, can't do it. Be a Bard if you want to be a leader role." I also think my definition of extremely potent individuals like the Bleak Tyrant and Cenn the Reaver granting others pieces of their power is a decent analog.

Machete Use: Fuck divine classes, there are twenty-six classes in 4th Edition now, five of them are from the Divine power source. I wouldn't let anyone play them now even if they wanted to.

How are they different from gods then? (Thanks for this one Eric)
-A god exists on an alternate plane and has armies of angels and archons and shit to serve its whims and put the hurt down on those that piss it off. The "gods" in my world have homes and kingdoms they and their followers must defend and if they want to hurt someone they need to do it themselves. My "gods" can have their heads hacked off, it wouldn't be easy, but it can be done and it would be final and would allow their killer(s) to absorb its power if they so desired. Gods automatically grant you power for your prayers, regardless of what you are doing at the time. The "gods" in my campaign turn off your juice if you go against their will. Maybe its not quite as different as I would have liked, mechanically speaking in game terms, but when/if I write about it, it will be different.

Machete Use: That still would work, if I allowed divine classes anymore.

This is Bowie to Bowie, do you hear me out there man?
-This is Bowie back to Bowie, I read you loud and clear man.

Machete Use: Ooo yeah man.

How can Traith survive having a boiler and turbine assembly installed in his chest cavity?
-He's not fully human, and by the time the boiler and turbine get put in, he's mostly running on electricity anyways. I don't have hard science for it, because it likely doesn't exist, but the turbine juices up his spine and brain, the brain directs it like it would any electrical impulse and that is how Traith continues to exist. If I can't figure out a way to eliminate the need, I have Doc supplying him with IV foodstuff to combat the fact that his stomach is gone.

Machete Use: I haven't written about Traith in a long ass time. Bums me out sometimes.

The Fallen have the Bleak Tyrant, the Children of Volung have Volung, etc, etc. Who or what do the people of Kusseth and the Dwarves have?
-The Dwarves have Maggot. The people of Kusseth have Law or Chaos.

Machete Use: Nope. No divine classes.

How can Law or Chaos grant power?
-The same way sorcerers and wizards can use "magic" and the Eldumans can use psionics.

Machete Use: Sometimes I say nonsensical goofy things.

So its all the same thing, magic and psionics?
-It is and it isn't. Consensus reality, to a certain extent. Magic is magic, but it is no different than the power divine characters receive from their patron, or psionicists use. Its is all energy redirected by the will of those that use it. The wielders just perceive it differently and their perceptions dictate its nature, thus psionic powers are stable and magic is not. If a warden who is a Paladin believes in Law and Order and that he serves those forces, he will be granted power. Just as with the other patrons, requests for aid and power will be denied if he works against the cause of Law.

Machete Use: Moderate. It is true that all the crazy super powers in my game stem from the same cosmic energy, and they are altered by the perceptions and beliefs of the wielders, there are no divine characters in my campaign anymore.

So where does "magic" come from?
-Those objects that regulate the ebb and flow of cosmic energies are called Cosmic Engines and they help refine and channel the animating forces of the universe. Some were built to allow living creatures access to those forces.

Machete Use: Still true.

Who built the engines?
-The Eldarine.

Machete Use: Yup.

Who are the Eldarine?
-The Conteog, Saevoi, Lacerat, and Everseon. I suppose the Vacusu are Eldarine as well, but they are trying to eat the universe whereas the others are trying to preserve it. They built the Cosmic Engines so that they could wield the energies of creation to fight the Vacusu. They could already wield the energies of creation, because they were part of the birth of the universe, but the Engines allowed them to fine tune their powers and provide more juice for them.

Machete Use: Entirely accurate.

Why so many different afterlives for the Fey?
-Because they are immortal energy vampires. Energy/matter cannot be destroyed, only transformed.

Machete Use: Spoiler alert!

What are their afterlives exactly?
-Fading is when they allow themselves to dissipate into nothingness, they haven't the will left to keep themselves solid (though they don't really understand that that is what happens). Oblivion is when a Ruler or some similarly strong force unmakes them and reabsorbs their essence, this is about as close to utter and complete death that they can get, although technically they still exist. Death's Halls are where they go to basically sleep for eternity kind of endlessly reliving their lives. Rebirth as one of the Sluagh is when their bodies still exists but their brains get hollowed out and emptied of all their memories, since they must die to become Sluagh their bodies are usually in pretty rough shape.

Machete Use: A bit. Some of the names are different now and I've restructured the deaths a Nel can suffer.

Bloody Head/Cromm Cruach, how does that work exactly? Does he have multiple personality disorder?
-No. Cromm is a complex individual. He loves violence and mayhem and slaughter, but he also has something resembling a code of honor and conduct. There are certain things he will not do and certain non-murderous things he enjoys. There is something of the scholar in him in that he enjoys the knowing of things and educating others. He is basically a scholar and a warrior, but he finds his natures at odds with each other. For a Fey to deny his nature is the path to Fading. If they have an identity crisis and are confused about who and what they are, they can lose touch with themselves and Fade. For Cromm to exist the aspects of his personality must be forced into extremes. Bloody Head became insanely violent and hungry for blood while Cromm ended up a pacifist.

Machete Use: Still mostly true, but I do get a bit more in depth on the whole Keroen/Bloody Head relationship in the newest version of the story.

Ok. What caused the initial rift?
-Danu and her talk of honor. When she came on the scene she filled Cromm's head with the notion that mindless slaying was unwise, even if there wasn't any true malice in it and the Tuatha De' Danann didn't truly die (they became Sluagh). Cromm trusted her and paid attention to her as he did any warrior sworn to his service, but he still love the slaughter, just as his people did. This put his thoughts at odds with his impulses. Driving a wedge between his personalities and dividing his nature, which led to him beginning to Fade and the creation of the Bloody Head personality.

Machete Use: True.

Why is Oberon such an asshat?
-Because that is his nature, to be self-centered and narcissistic. That is why he is a giant beacon of Glamour that can challenge the might of the Sluagh. He is a thoughtless creature of almost pure impulse and that is why he is so powerful.

Machete Use: Names are all different, but still essentially true.

D20 Shadow Chasers became this world of Kaleshmarians and Fey and shit, how did that happen?
-The final scenarios of Shadow Chaser would have resulted in the breaking of one of the aforementioned Cosmic Engines, by way of nearly killing one of its caretakers (the skull of brass and bronze was his skull in fact). This coupled with celestial events occurring above the planet totally altered the lines of power blanketing the planet and the empire of Kaleshmar. This caused all their carefully managed energies and various magical powers to go haywire very briefly and send their empire into utter chaos and mayhem.

Machete Use: True enough, though there have been some minor tweaks to the story, which is all detailed in the Kaleshmar 101 post. Kalesmar was not magic, though this is what the races of The Known World think of it.

Celestial events?
-The Elder War ended and the creation that the Eldarine had used to end it had to be dismantled, but it was too powerful and instead they had to wipe its mind of knowledge. If it was allowed to survive the war intact it posed too great a threat to the universe should something go awry with its internal workings. They could not kill it so they erased its knowledge and personality and cast it down to be imprisoned on the planet below them in hopes that it would find something resembling peace and happiness. They loved it and respected it and owed their lives to it, but they could not allow it to jeopardize the life of the universe.

Machete Use: Still all true.

What was the creation?
-A remnant of a previous universe. Kind of like Marvel's Galactus, I think.

Machete Use: Still basically true.

-This universe was not the first one, nor would it likely be the last. The thing the Eldarine used to end their war was an artifact left over from a previous existence. They don't know much more about it other than the fact that it predates the Saevoi and the cosmic seas of chaos that birthed them. They also discovered that is has some similarities to their Cosmic Engines.

Machete Use: True.

So what exactly did they do to it that makes it their creation?
-They sort of went Six Million Dollar Man on it. It resembled their Cosmic Engines enough that they were able to remake it better, faster, and stronger so it became sort of an uber-Cosmic Engine.

Machete Use: True.

What else?
-They gave it weapons that further empowered it.

Machete Use: True.

Sounds pretty powerful.
-Yes, stars and even whole solar systems lived and died at its command. It could remake reality within certain parameters, but that is what it took to beat back the ever hungry Vacusu.

Machete Use:

Why are all the names in your world taken from Earth myth?
-Earth and this world are separate realities, but some things are what they are regardless of your reality. Iron is iron in both worlds, and water is water. In Earth's reality science and technology are ascendant, in my world myth and magic are ascendant. So, Thor was a real dude with fancy gadgets here, not a myth. If someone starts talking about electricity or some obscure scientific discipline in my world they would take about it with the same manner of awe and disbelief that someone in our reality would talk about magic or monsters.

Machete Use: Gone the way of the dodo.

Are you saying your world is an alternate reality and has an alternate Earth, Jupiter, Venus, etc?
-I am in fact saying that.

Machete Use: Probably not an alternate reality anymore, more like a far distant part of the same universe. I figure the universe is big enough to accommodate a bunch of goofy shit.

Does that really affect anything though?
-Not especially.

Machete Use: Still basically true.

What's the deal with the big animals in the Beast Lands?
-They are big. One of those things that regulates the flow of cosmic energies and whatnot lies in the Beast Lands and over the millenia it has affected the nature of the creatures dwelling in close proximity to it.

Machete Use: Still true.

Anything else?

Machete Use: Still true.

That was fun. It is kind of neat to see how my campaign world has evolved and changed over the past year. It feels like the thing is becoming mine, rather than my world seen through a lens of DnD rules. I like it, it feels like I'm making something tangible and "real" to spend my gaming time in. Heh. I think the world is robust enough that I can focus less on world building now and more on history and current events and hopefully players new and old have enough info at their fingertips that they can find their own stories in it. A secret dream of mine is that one of my friends would run a campaign in my world, and then I could have a character galavanting around in it too.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cosmology 101

My world doesn't have gods in it, sort of. In a questionnaire I put out a while ago, Fred actually said he was interested in discovering why. At least, I think that is what he said, more on that in the previous post. Now, when I say there are no gods, I mean gods as in the "creators of everything" sense. The universe or galaxy or however you would like to phrase it, exists. There are creatures in it that could pass themselves off as god-like beings and grant powers to those that serve them and whatnot, but they don't run shit. There is a creature that was called a god in a story I wrote, but he and his kind were never the creators. They existed to protect the universe from destruction, then his race died and he went a little crazy and found himself in a series of unfortunate events that crippled him.

So, there aren't gods per se in my world, but there are god-like beings. Beings that possess immense power and can manipulate reality and so on and so forth, but they can be killed and wounded and enslaved. Kaleshmar wasn't the first empire to try and probably wasn't the last.

These god-like beings that inhabit my mythos don't live in strange realms of their own creation like Valhalla or Mount Olympus or The Abyss. They don't occupy palatial estates in unnamed ephemeral heavens either. They hang out wherever they like. There are a few bumming around Hekinoe and some others in the space nearby.

So these creatures are distant and unreachable for the most part, except for the few that are on Hekinoe. There aren't any in The Known World, but there is one creature that approaches their power, that horned dude that screwed over Kaleshmar (if you remember that post).

These distant and unreachable creatures (the Conteog, Saevoi, Lacerat, and Everseon) are primarily uninterested in the Hekinoe. Its neat enough, but these creatures are old and have their own established domains. They have no need to conquer a new one, and if they were curious about it, they have the means to investigate it from afar. What would stir them from their far distant thrones and empires, what would bring an age of godlessness to an end upon The Known World, is a thirst for revenge.

If you remember one of my previous posts, it was Kaleshmar that dragged some of these celestial entities out of the skies and chained them to their power plants to preserve their failing empire. When Kaleshmar fell, these creatures died and I imagine that might be something worth some wrath and ruin to these entities that could be called gods.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Fistful of Nerdy-Ass Shit

I got the new Early Man album yesterday. I really like this band, they have some very solid guitar work that I really dig, and their first album had some serious Black Sabbathness to it that made me happy in my metal organs. Those are the organs responsible for producing the chemicals that cause one to throw up the horns and headbang.They're also in part responsible for the growth of facial hair. Its science, trust me, I'm an EMT-B, I know things about the human body.

With the second album, the guitar work is still what draws me to them, I really love it. Each song, in my mind, starts with a very solid, very "metal" thirty to fifty seconds of good guitar work that remains throughout the tracks. There is less of a Black Sabbathness to the songs, which is good, because it means the band is replacing it with Early Manness. Fuck, I'm not a music critic. I like Early Man, if you like metal, you might as well.

I got confirmation from Jeremy that he is interested in playing Pathfinder with me as a trial run. Unlike the GURPS trial run, this is going to be more like a mini scenario, rather than a ten second battle that Eric and I didn't run properly. It's going to be a Spineplate and D'alton kind of thing, perhaps with Ga'zara as well if Jeremy feels like involving him. It will kind of kick off some things that get readressed in the next DnD scenario as well and the Pathfinder thing combined with elements of the eighth DnD scenario will amount to Spineplate's side mission. So, if the players do all the right things, they will be rewarded with two levels for our next play session. I believe this will bring us up to level fourteen by the end of the campaign (arc?). I'm excited!

Been toying around with this thing called Hero Lab from Lone Wolf Development, and it seems like a nifty product. It lacks the "Hey, you're doing stuff wrong!" warnings of the 4th Edition Character Builder, but it is still a pretty robust character generator that covers a wide range of systems. I believe the price point is like thirty bucks for the full version, you get data for one gaming system with it, and you can get full install on two computers (I think). It has data for 4th Ed, 3.5 OGL, Pathfinder, Call of Cthulhu, and a few others, available for purchase. I believe it also offers some customization tools that would allow me to tailor the Pathfinder database to my campaign world. This excites me a bit. I love character builders. Especially the kind that update their data. I have no idea why my players haven't bought a one month subscription and gotten the 4th Edition character builder. There is so much published material out there right now and the character builder has it all centralized in one place, no need to steal pdfs or page through books. Plus, if you let your subscription lapse, you still keep the full version of the character builder. Fred has often said there doesn't seem to be much material out there for 4th Edition, or something in the vein of there aren't enough options. Or maybe that was Eric. I'll be honest, I only half listen to Fred, I find it more productive to just listen to my earbuds and assume he is talking about Whil Wheaton or Hurley. Hehe.

To continue, there are twenty-six core classes in 4th Edition, one of which is a DDI exclusive. Every power source has at least one of each of the four roles. Except Shadow, which only has a Striker, and Martial, which lacks a Controller. Each class has three or four defining features to choose from to tweak their playstyle and dozens upon dozens of class specific feats at each tier to further tweak what they do. PLUS, fifteen to twenty powers at each level to choose from when picking At-Wills, Encounters, and Dailies when those option comes up. Then you get into paragon and epic destinies. There's a lot there, and my players aren't getting any of it because they don't know it is there, and they don't care to investigate it so it is really on them. I just kind of wonder if that lack of info is coloring Eric and Fred's opinion of the game. They are basically playing out of the PHB, and there are three of those now, heh, plus a book dedicated to arcane characters. They play a Artificer and Swordmage respectively.

On a side note, 4th Edition isn't about your feats or your loot, those generally do minor things. 4th Edition is about what your characters can do, that is the basis of the power system. Your powers, not your feats, determine your play style. If you want to be a shield using fighter that charges around bashing people with that shield, you take all the powers that let you do that. If you expect feats to allow you to do that, you are going to be disappointed, because all you're going to find is the ability to add your shield bonus to your Fortitude defense.

Moving along.

I recently took a really close look at 4th Edition and what I can do with it and I found myself in danger of speaking about it, rather than Pathfinder, when we decide to use a new system. I'm not in the fevered grip of GURPS fanboyism anymore, and I really do enjoy 4th Edition. Fucking hard as Hell to make Kethranmeer the way I want to in it, but I can do it. I'm at the point where I can pick and choose and tweak and change as I need to to make my own races and feats, or even powers if I thought it was necessary. If I stumbled a bit and things weren't entirely balanced, we can roll with it and I can look to other places for inspiration. I was starting to edge towards staying with 4th Edition and just continuing with it, rather than switching. I think I'm over that now though. I just feel like there is so much 3.5/Pathfinder love in the group, that someone should offer up a dissenting opinion that is rational, experienced, and well thought out.

Always remember that first and foremost, above everything else, I am fucking metal.

Music: Death Potion - Early Man
Music: Brainwash At Birth - Early Man
Music: Someone Elses Nightmare - Early Man
Music: Nine Riders - Early Man
Music: Fight - Early Man
Music: Through Chemtrails - Early Man

Friday, July 23, 2010

Blown (Minds)

Shawn and I had a conversation earlier today that has fascinating ramifications to me.

I am really into the narrative aspect of GMing,I've said that before. I also enjoy the simulation aspects of the game. That's why I like robust rulesets that can accomodate some of that. Anyway.

Shawn and I were discussing how he is busy and our first session of over the net gaming is getting pushed back due to schedule conflicts. We're all busy folks with lives and whatnot, and there is a three hour time difference between the two halves of the gaming group. It is proving really difficult to get a two or three hour trial session in. Now, I have this rote response, kind of a defense mechanism, that I respond with when people start complaining about the trials and tribulations of GMing and I launched into it without thinking. Shawn started saying something to the effect of "Hey, I really want to do this, its just hard to get time. We'll get there." But I believe I had overtalked while he was talking and said something to the effect of "Unless I just rerun my current campaign with you guys."

I think he said some stuff, but at the point my mind had been blown and I was standing in the middle of the wash bay at work spraying a random wall with the hose and staring off into space.

I mean, fucking a. I've said before that I love the narrative aspect of the game and watching what the players do with my story. How fucking crazy would it be to contrast and compare how two separate groups went through the same storyline? Where would they diverge? How would they diverge? I mean, the spot in the first scenario where the group either chooses one of the nine npcs or goes their own route could lead to massive differences in direction. Would they delve into Whurent like Kothos asked them to? Would they have stayed in Kusseth and become lawmen or bards? My mind just ran like a hamster wheel going over everything in my head, it was insane and fascinating. It would become a divergent reality.

I don't even know how to properly express my thoughts and fascination with this concept here. I just, I really dig the concept of running a campaign multiple times and seeing what different groups of players/characters do with it. It would be like making a flowchart of one of those old choose your own adventure books and tracking every which way the plot could go. I find this shit interesting and find myself unable to properly expresse it in words.

I also started on my "Why I Like Pathfinder" essay in preparation for when we discuss switching systems. I honestly don't know how to write it, I've been mostly gushing for paragraphs at a time about how it is swell. I'm not sure if I should compare and contrast it to 4th Edition, which I might end up doing. I know Eric wants to do GURPS, maybe? So maybe I should contrast and compare it to that. I haven't talked gaming with him in a while though, so who knows. I'm sure John wants to go back to 2nd Edition or 3.5 Edition, but I can't imagine him coming up with a well thought out case for either of those editions, he's not exactly talkative and tends to go along with everyone else. I know Fred likes 3.5, but I think he was interested in Pathfinder too, as is Jeremy. If Jeff keeps gaming, he'll probably bow out of the discussion, since he only knows 4th Edition and isn't too big on the whole P&P RPG scene to my knowledge.

To me, that paragraph reads like "Pathfinder wins." Pathfinder is 3.5, but better with more refinement and more cool shit. Heh, maybe that should be my argument. I dunno, I just can't see Eric pulling out a well thought out argument for GURPS over other systems. I see him saying "GURPS is awesome because you can do stuff in it." Which, you know, is true. GURPS is cool, but he knows almost nothing about it, and I'm too burnt out from this last year of being fixated on it to give a shit about it. I dunno, if you read this anymore Eric, prove me wrong. Go to the mat for what you like and stick to your guns. Be impassioned and convince us.

We'll see what happens I guess.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

An Explanation

I figured I might as well break down that whole skill thing from last post and explain my point of view. I think I'll start from the 3.5 Edition skill set, rather than 3.0. 3.0 had some serious jank that I am happy to see gone. Anyway, let's get with it.

Craft skill are where we start and if you look at the seventeen for 4th Edition, you see there is no analogue. Except for Martial Practices and Alchemy, if you're speaking of creating magic crap, Rituals handle that.

Climb has been folded into Athletics, which makes sense, and because it saves time, Swim has been folded in there as well.

Appraise, hmm. One.

Balance, Jump, and Tumble are handled by Acrobatics, and Escape Artist as well.

Bluff is Bluff, simple enough. It also incorporates Disguise.

Diplomacy is Diplomacy.

Gather Information is covered by the Word on the Street Martial Practice, maybe even Streetwise.

Concentration is irrelevant to the game mechanics of 4th Edition, two.

Decipher Script is covered by the Martial Practice of the same name.

Forgery is covered by the Martial Practice Precise Forgery.

Speak Language is replaced by the ability to take the Linguist feat.

Disable Device, Open Lock, and Sleight of Hand have become Thievery.

Handle Animal, hmm, sounds like Nature. Nature also handles Knowledge (Nature), and Survival.

Heal is Heal.

Hide and Move Silently are combined into Stealth.

Knowledge (Arcana), along with Spellcraft, are Arcana.

Knowledge (Architecture). Hmm, three.

Knowledge (Dungeoneering) is Dungeoneering.

Knowledge (Geography), it doesn't say it implicitly, but this is goes with Nature in my book.

Knowledge (History) is History.

Knowledge (Local), this is Streetwise.

Knowledge (Nobility), four.

Knowledge (Religion) is now Religion. Which is a lot easier to type than Knowledge (Religion).

Knowledge (The Planes), depending on the plane, I would say this falls under Arcana or Religion. Call it a cop out, but I'm a GM and Rule 0 applies.

Listen, Search, Spot, and even Read Lips are now Perception, and Perception is used for tracking now.

Perform...five? I guess.

Profession, six.

Ride, Nature if you're riding an animal. If you're riding something magic, you could probably just use Arcana to control it. I dunno.

Sense Motive has become Insight, not Streetwise like the chart says.

Use Magic Device, seven.

Use Rope, you got me. Eight.

I know I said two in my last post, that is now eight (or more if you want to be picky). So, when dropping from thirty-six to seventeen, it looks like only eight have actually been removed from the game, and I'll get to that in a moment. I've written all this knowing very little about Martial Practices, Rituals, and Alchemy. Plus, there are Skill Tricks as well. I feel like the argument against 4th Edition's "weak" skill list is kind of rendered invalid at this point. Granted, not all of this was available right out that gate when 4th Edition came out, but we're two years in here and 3.5 Edition had a lifespan of five years, plus three years for the developers to figure out what they were doing during 3.0's run. On to the next part.

The following is just my ruling on things, its kind of the GMs job to fill in the rough spots, or at least try to until the publishers produce something.

Appraise, ok, I don't know what do do with this one. Concentration, the whole purpose of this skill has been removed from 4th Edition, to hold spells while being distracted. Its not really necessary anymore and I think any non-spell related effects it handled could be probably handled by Endurance. Knowledge (Architecture), I've never seen it used, but I would allow a Dungeoneering check to handle this. Knowledge (Nobility) could be handled by History or Streetwise I think. Perform, I think Bluff would work for plays or acting. Anything else, I dunno. I guess if you play an instrument, indicate whether you are good or not in your background and play that way. If you're guy is funny, make funny jokes.

Profession deserves its own spot here on the old blog, it really grinds my gears. Fuck this skill, it is dumb. Ok, you were a blacksmith or a leatherworker before you became an adventurer. Are you one of those now? Yes? Why are you adventurer? Why aren't you in your shop? You are going to die if you go into a dungeon, that's why they send the Fighters and Wizards in there and not the tanners and coopers. I understand the purpose behind the skill, but it seems like the game can lose it without losing anything. If you really really want being a cooper to be in your background, say so, then go on Wikipedia and spout off random barrel based quips during game time. That is role-playing. If that isn't enough, take the Master Artisan Martial Practice and make a damn barrel while everyone else goes off into the dungeon and makes a few hundred marks killing bandits.

Use Magic Device. Magic items have lost a lot of their "only this class can use this item" stuff. Any character can take the Alchemist of Ritual Caster feat. If you really want to use magic holy symbols and wands and such, most multiclass feats allow that when you take them.

Use Rope, hmm, just tie a damn knot I guess.

There are fewer skills, but each skill is more useful, so in effect, the 4th Edition Fighter with his three skills gets more bang for his buck than the 3.5 Edition Fighter with two skill points per level. the removal of skill ranks removes a lot of the balls ass crazy skill point distribution from the game. Pick a skill, trained, bam, +5. If you want to be a generalist and have a decent ability with a lot of skills, take skill training feats or the Jack of All Trades feat, or take the Bard multiclass feat and the Bard of All Trades feat. It has worked out quite well for my Eladrin Bard. Combined with the +1 to each skill check per two levels, everyone can do decently at a wide range of skills if its really that important.

I guess those are my thoughts on 4th Editions "limited" skills.

This is Neat

I saw this on a blog called Random Generation, not sure if the blogger is the author or where it initially came from, but I really enjoy it. It is about skills.

By my calculations, when going from the forty-two skills of 3.0 to the seventeen of 4th Edition, we've lost two skills from the game.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Meandering Thoughts

Man, hit kind of a wall with writing this week. I've been plodding along with Shawn's notes and have been making some progress. I've been working on some Pathfinder conversions as well, and I've got most of the upcoming scenarios complete. I'm kind of feeling like I hit a wall today though. I can't bring myself to pull up my Pathfinder notes, and I've got my tenth scenario right on the cusp of being finished, but I can't bring myself to pull it up and put words to paper. I'm just feeling really burned out and lazy. I think I just need to take a break from writing my balls off on a daily basis.

In that vein, I Gesso-ed up Kethranmeer today and he looks alright. I tried to greenstuff in his face area to give him that flat metal, eyeless, face that is kind of iconic to him and it didn't go well. I just can't get the bits of greenstuff small enough to fit in the helmet eyeslits in a way that doesn't cause the greenstuff to go every where. I think if I carefully apply Gesso to the slits with a toothpick or skinny ass brush in thin layers, it will do that same job. I just have to be real careful and apply it in several layers. Once I get a good smooth coat of chainmail or gunmetal paint over it, it should be fine. If not, I've got a dozen other helmets I can play with to make it work on. I think if I focus on making Kethranmeer, it'll be a nice break from writing and will allow me to kind of take it easy with the creative muscles.

I've also got a book about characters and viewpoints that I've been reading, so I can focus on that while I'm taking this break or whatever.

Moving along, I recently listened to a podcast from a website called Critical Hits (, and learned about something called campaign planning with the 5x5 method. I'm not going to wax philosophical about how ingenious and awesome it is, but I would like to type about it for a bit. Its awesome, brilliant, I love it, and I'll be using it next campaign. Enough said.

Anyway, the podcast taught me a little about scenarios. The gist of the 5x5 method is that you break shit down into pieces. Our sessions are lengthy, each of them exceeding eight or nine hours. I would like to cut that in have and game once or twice a month, rather than once every three or four months. I've crafted the next three scenarios with that in mind, kind of taking a page from the 5x5 method as best I can.

As an example, our last scenario where the group ousted Phineus the Formerly Fat from power. Instead of one massive scenario, I should have anticipated that there would be a lot of discussion without decision in a group with no centralized leadership. What I should have done was make a scenario based around them figuring out how to bring the district under control. That would have cut the scenario quite literally in half (if we cut out the Lost talk), then we could have called it a day and come back in two weeks and fully implemented those plans. It would have made the sessions more fun and less about endurance, and I could have had more time to implement what went on in the planning stage in the let's do this stage. I've made the ninth and tenth scenarios very focused in their content and purpose, hopefully this will make them quicker to play through and a little more relaxed with less emphasis on "let's get this done!"

I've been thinking about it, I'm totally over GURPS. I can't even think about the GURPS wiki and my Reich-5 stable of characters without sighing and my mind becoming this void of blahness. Reich-5 doesn't interest me anymore, and the initial immense appeal of GURPS' general universal standpoint that allows for easy use has just faded to nothing for me. If Eric called me up and said we were playing GURPS next weekend, I would say "Cool, have fun. See you when we play my campaign."

Sad I suppose, but I'm just sick of thinking and wondering about GURPS and not having it go anywhere. Who knows, maybe Eric will make an impassioned speech about the gloriousness of GURPS when we all discuss what system we want to use next once the 4th Edition campaign is done, and maybe it will re-inspire me. We'll see.

Monday, July 19, 2010

He Does Have a High Wisdom...

I bought myself some Warhammer miniatures Saturday. I plan on making an actual Spineplate mini for use in my DnD campaign, and the Warhammer Chaos Knights can be made to be pretty much exactly what I envision for old Kethranmeer, the warrior of steel mind and steel flesh.

When the group first met Spineplate, he was a savage thing of metal plates welded to a framework of steel struts and hinges and gears. He was also caked in rust and blood. When A'lst refurbished him, he was very shiny and all flat planes of metal. After his most recent conversion (which no one noticed), he wields a hammer and has built his body to emulate plate armor, including a belt and cloak. If not for the blank helmet of his head and his metallic voice, he could pass as a knight of The New Empire if he had need to. As he said last scenario, "Spineplate not beast, warrior. Live as warrior, kill as warrior, die as warrior, not beast." and also "Want cloak, buy cloak. Belt hold pouches, pouches handy."

There is follow up to Spineplate's conversion in the next scenario, hopefully the players care enough to investigate. I remain optimistic.

I'm really excited to play with my paints again. I know it is going to be frustrating, because it has been so long and there is some conversion work I need to do. But I really want to do this, and if I am patient and take my time and don't get too discouraged from dried out paints and clumsy hands, I think I can have some fun.

If we do end up playing these characters for the long haul, perhaps I could make the entire The Robust Five (More Or Less), rather than use Legos till the end of time. We actually have to get to the end of this campaign though before I can decide to put in that much work.

It hasn't changed too much, but it is slightly more robust and I haven't posted it for download in a bit, so here is the wiki:

Music: Queen of Bees - Witchcraft

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Highly Fantastical

Just so everyone knows, there is an Edit After The Fact for the Additional Conversion Rates (Among Other Things) post.

Something has been hanging around in the back of my mind as I ponder my campaign and listen to other actual plays. Can I still do high fantasy?

I used to say my campaign was steampunk, but that is kind of dependent upon where you are in The Known World, and the PCs have opted to go to one of the two hot spots of sorcery on the continent, kind of a low tech place. Steampunk isn't the right term for what we're playing at the moment. Neither is high fantasy though. High fantasy to me is core DnD, where there are pluses and glowing weapons bursting forth from every orifice on every character, dragons are magic, elves are all wise and naturey, dwarves are earthy, etc. I don't think my campaign world is high fantasy. I dunno what you'd call it though, high fantasy doesn't feel right, but maybe I'm wrong. Not that a classification of the campaign's type matters at all.

I've just been wondering if I can still do the whole elves are elves and goblins are goblins and magic swords are glowy and full of bright shiny pluses thing. I don't know that I can. Mechanically, I really dig 4th Edition (not more than GURPS or Pathfinder though), but I almost want to vomit when I think of the magic item economy and the constant need to upgrade all your shiny friendly magical whatsits, the dragonbewbs, etc, etc, etc.

I like Tolkien depictions of fantasy. I'm fine with talking trees and immortal elves and balrogs and whatnot. I should say that I've only ever read The Hobbit and watched the trilogy of films, so those are what this opinion is based on. I really dig that Gandalf isn't this firehose of arcane power in the films. I enjoy that most of the magic you see is subtle, like the ability to communicate with certain animals or a light spell. Gandalf only really brings out the big guns against a balrog and the witch king. Even the One Ring, supposedly the most powerful item of magic in the world only ever really makes hobbits invisible. Frodo doesn't just walk around throwing bolts of lightning and melting faces off with it. I believe Eric and I had this conversation a while ago.

I start to think about dwarves and elves and what have you and I immediately think "Oh, I'd change this and this and then this would be this." I just rebel at the thought of a dwarf being a dwarf for some reason.

Recently I was considering throwing a more common depiction of fantasy into my campaign world. Just as a continent the players could end up on if I felt they were pining for the familiar fantasy tropes. A place where magic worked fine and didn't warp your flesh and dwarves were, well, dwarves. My thought process was that there would be this huge obelisk on the continent and it would be a piece of Kaleshmar and there would be these huge ten foot tall skeletal corpses bound to it in chains of grey metal. These would be the bones of conteog that Kalashmar had pulled from the skies and they would stabilize sorcery within a certain radius of the continent.

I started to think of dwarves. Now, the dwenoren of Whurent have a warrior tradition, but it has kind of become archaic and silly to them. They haven't had true warrior schools in a long time, once they committed near genocide on the giants and dragons living beneath the mountains, they didn't really have a need for huge standing armies. Anyway, I thought that dwarves on this other continent could be an offshoot of dwen that had retained their martial traditions. Then I decided they had evolved eyes, but they were crude and misshapen so they weren't good with ranged weapons and still had a vestigial tremorsense type ability from their eyeless past, and it kind of became a new race of dwenoren, rather than familiar dwarves.

I don't know if this is even remotely a problem. We've never really discussed at length as a group what people like and dislike about my campaign world, and I honestly have no idea if they'd prefer something more familiar and more high fantasy. I think Fred digs that I'm trying to get out of the whole elf, dwarf, human, etc. thing, but I could be wrong. I know Jeremy and Eric like the place, and that is swell.

I wonder if it is just some bizarre desperate need to avoid as many cliches and tropes as possible. Cliches and tropes are what they are for a reason though, they tend to work when not overused.

Just some thoughts for the evening I guess.

One last thing, the dude on the mountain, his name is Rhetkhan Kannunn. I'm not sure where the mountain is, or what his exact role is (ok, that is a lie, I know his exact purpose), but he is there and it is someplace on Hekinoe. Heh, that might make for an interesting campaign arc, the group tries to find him. I bet he would be grouchy.

Music: Spiral Architect - Black Sabbath
Music: Killing Yourself to Live - Black Sabbath
Music: Hole in the Sky - Black Sabbath


I have gazed into the abyss, and it has gazed into me.

I have been obsessed with podcasts of late. I like a lot of crap, so I like to listen to a variety of them. My favorites at the moment are the Giantbombcast, This American Life, and RPPR's The New World Campaign sessions. Oh! My Brother, My Brother, and Me is just about the most hilarious thing I have ever heard, so it is grand as well.

Anyway, I am frantic for more actual play podcasts, so I've been looking around on the intertubes for some. I guess I like them because it lets me see how other people game and GM and whatnot. It helps me to know that other GMs are out there tackling the same problems I am. It warms my heart to know that there are others out there goofing off and enjoying the game.

I recently found a new one and I listened to the first episode. I have seen what role-playing is finally. The first session of the podcast was this three hour long siege/skill challenge type thing where the party was leading three hundred soldiers in an assault on an ancient temple of evil stuff.

It was long and drawn out and I even skipped a few spots because they dragged on, but damn, I liked it. It was role-playing. I finally got to listen to people role-playing and see what it was. It wasn't something crude like costumes or voices or handouts. It was just people talking about their characters. Not just what they were doing, but what they were thinking and feeling. Listening to that podcast drove something home for me.

I want to game like that.

Look, I'll admit it. I am attached to Spineplate. If he broke and was brought low by the enemies of The Robust Five (More of Less), it would upset me. On a side note, I love the fact that that is the unofficial name of the group. It makes me happy inside. Spineplate's death would (will?) make me sad. I am attached to him, I've written about him and spoken of him to others and clarified his background to the point where he is "real" to me. His death = sadness for me.

Listening to that podcast, I got the sense that those folks cared about their characters. I don't quite know where I am going here, but someday, I think I would like us to role play.

Edit After The Fact: I am aware that some people are trying, and I wholeheartedly applaud and support their efforts. What I mean to say is that I would like it if we as an entire group played like that, not just a few individuals that probably feel a bit self conscious being the only ones trying. Not that I am upset with those that don't. I made it clear that backgrounds and role-playing were optional, but beneficial, when we started this particular campaign and I am not taking that back. As long as we're having fun, I am mostly ok with the way we do it. The fun is the important part.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Additional Conversion Rates (Among Other Things)

I effing hate me some Derf the Swordmage. The Swordmage concept is so hard to fit into anything other than 4th Edition DnD. Derf is expensive in GURPS, but impossible to fit into 3.5 Edition or Pathfinder. Psychic warriors have some elemental attacks, but Derf is magic, not psionic. Swordsage would work, they're kind of mystical warriors that master pseudo-magical blade arts. Both of those classes lack teleportation effects similar to the Swordmage. There is a third option of a Fighter/Wizard multiclass with the appropriate feats and prestige classes to alter it. That might work, but I don't have much knowledge about spells and whether or not they are any that can lightning-ify swords and whatnot, or if Fred would have to settle for fireballs and lightning bolts and whatnot, heh.

I've been toying with both GURPS and Pathfinder conversion stuff, and it has been getting to me. I would really like us to settle on what system we will eventually be using, but I don't want to bring up the issue before it needs to be addressed. I don't want to focus too much on what is to come and distract myself from what is going on at the moment.

I've been watching Avatar: The Last Airbender lately. I actually just started the third season. Jeremy and Laura recommended it to me a while ago, and I kind of added it to my Netflix Instant Watch on a whim. It is surprisingly enjoyable for being a cartoon based on a manga. I have watch a fair amount of anime and cartoons in my life, I was a big Naruto fan for many years in fact. Eventually I get sick of the comical faces and goofy crap though. Anyway, Avatar is a pretty decent show with some surprisingly mature themes scattered throughout it. I mean, a lot of the plot is just blatantly obvious, but it is after all a kids cartoon on Nickelodeon. Or it was at least. I find myself really wanting to reach the final conclusion of the show. Appa is also amusing. I really enjoy the animals of the world, boarcupines, sabertooth moose cats, turtleducks. I find them cute and entertaining.

More DnD. In an email a while ago, John told me he would like more battles that have consequences based on the actions of the party. I have a hard time dealing with this question because I feel like the consequences are fairly obvious. I think I understand what John is saying now, but the players so rarely come near to failure that it feels like any sort of consequence for their actions would be wasted effort on my part, and deliberately causing them to fail feels like hardcore railroading. I mean, you can't win every battle, and you are bound to come up against something that whoops you at some point, but the players are so underpowered already that actually making them fight a difficult battle feels like picking on them. John still doesn't really understand the way attacks per round work (one, always one, unless your powers say otherwise), or saving throws. Does anyone know what a bull rush is? Charge? The benefits to each action? I have to tailor the fights to their capabilities, because this is a learning the ropes campaign. What is the sense in making a bunch of tactical options for combat, if they're just going to use their at-wills the entire fight? Is this a chicken and the egg situation though? Are my fairly straight forward fights the result of their less then rock hard understanding of their options, or is it the other way around? I'm guessing the former, rather than the latter, but I eagerly hope to be wrong.

The question remains, should I be more proactive and frequently tell them their options? No. I am an adult, just like they are adults. If they have a rules question, I will answer it, or if they ask "can I do this?" I will tell them how, but I will not hand hold more than I already am. They have all the information at their fingertips and in the books that they have. Their understanding of the rules, or complete lack thereof, is on them. Kind of like whether the scenario sucks or not is on me. Maybe that makes me a grognard, or a hardass, or just a bad GM. It is my stance though and I stand by it. On the ground. In an earth bending stance. With a rock ready to be flip kicked into someone's face or some such.

The handholding will however cease once we get to the next campaign. Heh.

Edit After The Fact: Completely got sidetracked about combat. I mention John's email because I think I may make a post about how the player's have affected the world around them with their choices and actions during game time, just to kind of show that they are affecting the world around them and shaping it as they pass through it.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


I've been taking a good hard look at my story with Shawn's notes in hand for the past few days, kind of taking it slow and mulling things over. There are actually fewer notations in Shawn's notes than I had thought there would be, so that is a good thing.

One of the things he pointed out was that there is nothing to the non-Keroen characters. They only exist when Keroen is around to look at them and demand exposition and whatnot. That was intentional. The story is about Keroen, who gives a fuck about everyone else? I added in Nostathon's bits and pieces for a very specific purpose, and Shawn has suggested that there are other spots where I could do similar things with other characters, and I've given that quite a bit of thought as I progress through my re-writes and additions and whatnot.

I think that I've got some spots where I can add some tidbits in centering around Contuck and Aubernach and Merobel. These pieces will work pretty nicely with some stuff I've had rolling around in my head for a while now, and they should give a better picture of the Nel and some of the characters from the story. So good deal there.

Shawn also mentioned that most of the battles in the story are underwhelming because it is a foregone conclusion as to who will win. Keroen Skathos is war, if it breathes, he can change that. Easily. This is an issue that has crossed my mind before, and I think I can perhaps put some effort forth in this department as I proceed through the book and Shawn's notes. Maybe. We'll see.

Some things to think and muse about I guess. I'm enjoying this, I'm in that mode where I get writing and I cannot physically stop myself from writing. It makes me feel like a real writer when I get all twitchy and fervent about it.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The First Salvo

Shawn just dropped off his critique of my story (Eric won last round, Shawn wins this round and gets extra credit for precise and well thought out commentary). He points out a lot of things I am already aware of, or that have already been pointed out to me and I have slowly been trying to work on. It confirms a lot of what I've believed about the story for some time. Mainly, that is a decent read, but my understanding of the basics of writing are flawed and need work. Once I finish the current book I'm reading, I think I'll start to focus more on some of the books on writing that I have on my shelf. I suppose that it is about time that I did that.

One of the things Shawn and I discussed was "what exactly is Keroen Skathos?" and that is hard question to answer. He is the creator of the Nel, but that just turns into "what are the Nel?" and I have no answer for that. They are what they are, a race of creatures. Keroen isn't a god or anything like that, he's not an elf or a sorcerer or a god-king or something like that. He just is. He exists. Shawn did not accept that answer and said even I didn't know what he was.

I do, and I told Shawn and Heather. I told Eric as well, but that was years and years ago. I'm not sure if it made anything better, but I've known what Keroen Skathos is and where he came from for a long time. The problem with what Keroen Skathos is and why his sword is what it is and why there is gash on his brow is that this story builds on knowledge presented in a story that does not exist.

Whoa. Paradox.

The whole thing starts with The Death of a Universe, then there is a story that I never got past four chapters of writing, then there is The Nel, The Last Blade (the working title for the Keroen Skathos story), then we move into my campaign world and The One-Eyed Man farce. Keroen Skathos has a part to play in all of that. He is something, its just that what he is, is irrelevant to the finished story Shawn read.

Shawn suggested that I use Nostathon as a means of showing what Keroen Skathos is, citing that Nostathon can see things that no other Nel can. I can see that as a plausible option, but there's no way I can show it that would mean anything to anyone. I can't condense an unwritten story into a paragraph of Nostathon musing about stuff. Nostathon wouldn't even understand it clearly, as it is data from a time before the Nel existed and before Keroen Skathos was what he is in the story. He doesn't even recall his origins, other than as opening his eyes to find himself in a mist-choked forest holding his staff and his sword.

I'm not even trying to be cryptic and mysterious. I'm not trying to create artificial mystery in this stuff. It is what it is.

Regardless, Shawn's comments are much appreciated and give me a strong picture of what I need to work on. Hopefully in the next few months I can put them to good use and shore up some weak points of the story.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Mountain

Somewhere in Hekinoe there is a mountain, mighty and black, its peak piercing the sky like a titan's upraised blade. Storms scorch this peak as bleak, bruise colored clouds swirl around it in a vortex of lightning and winds. Atop this peak is a throne, and that throne is built upon the accumulated knowledge of a lost age of Hekinoe's past. The seat of this throne is a tome so weighty that it possesses the knowledge to sear the sky to ash. The armrests are bound scrolls that could be wielded as talismans to drain the seas and shatter the earth. The head rest is a collection of bound maps of ancient Kaleshmar. The mountain rumbles as the ancient engine within it stirs as the creature brooding upon this throne shifts upon its seat and destroys six thousand years of knowledge as a tome beneath its foot breaks apart and is lashed into nothingness by the wind. Ruling from this throne is a bearded king whose eyes gleam with madness, tendrils of sorcerous might curl from the embers of power that are its eyes. Hail and rain slap against its flesh and its dirty ruined robes or torn and tattered by the wind. It does not blink or acknowledge the storm that surrounds it, for it is the eye of the storm and the storm is the turmoil within its mind. This king of storms and dusty knowledge sits upon its throne and gazes into the distance with a vacant stare, unmoved by its surroundings.

At the foot of this mountain is a small figure, this figure is a creature known as D'alton and he knows fear.