Thursday, June 30, 2011

Nephews Meet Brownie

For the Ohioans among us.
Daddy Grognard's recent post gave my memory a helpful jiggle: the last time I played with two of my nephews (J - 4th grader; Q - 5th grader), their party encountered a brownie.  Q asked, "What's a brownie?"  (I blame too many hours playing first person shooters.)  J responded, "It's like a little elf."  He then drew the awesome picture below on the post-its I keep handy during our games.  I believe he also referenced the Keebler elves.

I like the implied attitude of the brownie, although his suicidal thought bubble is a little troubling.  The drawing likely was influenced by the brownie's unhappiness at being captive more than the simplistic, regrettable gaming attitude that all creatures encountered are for killing.  (My nephews are smarter than that: they've killed, negotiated, hid, and run, as appropriate.)  We tried randomly generating the brownie's name using dice.  (Meh, Qeigoiz is okay, I guess.)

The setup was this: the local townsfolk were the object of fey curses going beyond the usual harmless pranks, leading up to the death of the town cobbler.  The town's wizard recruited a party to go to the faerie mound to speak with the faerie queen to find out why the faeries were unhappy.  The brownie had been captured by the wizard, with the promise of release once he led them to the entrance of the faerie mound.

So far, the boys have learned all kinds of things about the faeries.  They keep Moldvayian killer bees* in the woods nearby both as protection and to harvest their honey for, among other things, faerie mead.  Their sensitivity to iron** means they have enchanted into being a brood of creatures that you may be familiar with:

Rust Monster by *oddhatter
Whoa, those rust monsters gave the party a fit!

Taking any single fey creature, such as the brownie, can provide an entree into how you construct the fae in the setting of your fiction, game, or whatever you are working on.  The traditional categories for faeries are Solitary or Trooping and Seelie or Unseelie.  I have been wondering if, in regard to first set, a third option isn't needed: Domestic.  Brownies are a domestic faery.  They don't troop and live in fey communities in the wild, and they don't live separately from human and fae alike.  They live in human (perhaps also demi-human) dwellings.  Now the second dichotomy is usually interpreted to mean Good or Evil, respectively.  However, here are some further possibilites for members of the Seelie (S) and Unseelie (U) courts:
  1. Law (S) vs. Chaos (U) - for games centering on a Law/Chaos struggle.  This would provide a very different flavor from the tendency to make faeries Neutral.
  2. Friendly to Humans/Nonfae (S) vs. Unfriendly to Humans/Nonfae (U)
  3. Feywild (S) vs. Feydark (U) - Adopting 4e terms here.  In other words, Sylvan vs. Underworld.  (Who says I refuse to learn anything from 4e?!)
  4. Silly (S) vs. Serious (U) Fae - I especially like the complexities this would introduce and the folklorish flavor.  Note also that the root of "seelie" gives us the modern word "silly."
The first set of categories tells you about the fae's ecology, the second set about their behavior and potential for conflict.  Whatever court you imagined the brownie owing allegiance to, you are now faced with the question of why they live with humans.  Curiosity?  Protection?  Ambassadors of good will for their court among humans?  Spies?  Thieves?  Maybe some of each? While the brownie in this example served initially as a story device, answering these questions and others like it contribute to world-building, and provide further elements for the continuing adventures of my nephews' characters.

* 2-3 feet long, and delivering a potentially lethal sting, for those unfamiliar with them.
** This also gives another reason for elves' use of mithril/mithral.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sorry, Mythopoeic Monday...

...will be unavoidably detained.  What I was planning will definitely not be up, and it is doubtful if I will get anything squeezed in late today.  I'll try to get ahead to keep this sort of thing from happening again.

In the meantime, I hope everyone saw Matt of Nod's pointing out that the longest entry on Wikipedia is The List of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons monsters from second edition.  Also in the monstrous vein, curse Jeremy for sending me this link!  (No, it's not why blog is running late.)

Finally, I have it on the authority of Ed Healy that Paizo is coming out with a GameMastery Bra.  Surprising, I have to say, even though he insisted that it was all about excellent costumer support.  Er, I mean, customer support.

Friday, June 24, 2011

What is Wrong with the Comments Feature, Blogger?

I've been getting complaints recently that people can't comment on my posts.  Are people having this problem at other blogspot addresses or only here?  Very annoying, I wish Blogger would get its act together.

Documentary Grist for the Mythopoeic Mill

Free for Netflix Subscribers

Netflix Watch Instantly is the mythopoet's friend.  Lately I have been watching David Starkey's "Monarchy," which is like fine historical candy for the anglophile.  (The first two series are available.)  Very watchable, thought-provoking, and packed with historical nuggets presented from Starkey's strong perspective -- many of which I think will be new to the general reader/viewer who has been fed textbook views.

The Spanish Conquistadors by Michael Dialynas

I have avoided commenting on the OSR's most recent brouhahas, one of which directly relates to another documentary available to watch on Netflix: player characters as heroes vs anti-heroes vs villains.  I think basically I will continue this avoidance, but here is a resource for the anti-hero who enriches himself in disregard for others: Conquistadors.  This series by Michael Wood (I'm less of a fan of his, compared to Starkey) explores those who may be the most obvious real world parallel to fantasy adventurers who dare the unknown to kill, conquer, and plunder, yet whose violence wins them favor rather than outlawing.

Auguste Rodin's La Porte de l'Enfer by Trey Ratcliff

Documentary from Hell

So much for the good, yet even bad documentaries may be sources of inspiration.  I turn to The History Channel.  Now, The Gates of Hell is not the worst show on The History Channel by any means, as that continuum goes disturbingly low, indeed.  So while you are almost always better off watching the Smithsonian Channel, The National Geographic Channel, or even Planet Green, it just goes to show that it is not only the excellent that can be a source for thinking and creating.  My advice is, never mind the constant plastering over the vast and important differences between Hell, the realm of Hel, Sheol, Tartarus, Hades, Xibalba, Gehenna, the Egyptian Netherworld, and any other visions of the Underworld and what it comprises.  Soak up the images, and above all, think about all the claims that are being made.  Here are the claims that most intrigued me on one particular occasion: the Underworld as Prison versus the Underworld as a nigh-impossible destination.

As I watched and listened to the descriptions of the Underworld/Hell as a place that is exceedingly difficult to get to, guarded by trials, dangers, difficulties and so forth, I thought, Why would the Underworld be difficult to get to?  After all, "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matthew 7:13-14).  If the Underworld wants souls, it should make it as easy to get to as possible.  Besides, if the Underworld is a Prison, it should be impossible to get out of, not impossible to get into. 

At least a part of what lies behind this disjunction is the conception of the Underworld as a place forbidden because it holds riches (say, gold and magic for RPGers or secret knowledge for Odysseus and Aeneas) versus the Underworld as a place forbidden because it is a penal institution for wayward spirits.  So a question for those pondering their own Underworlds: Is the Underworld difficult to get into because the Power[s]-that-be is/are trying to protect the denizens above from the evils that lie below?  Or is the Underworld difficult to penetrate because it is filled with the precious objects of the Quest?  Pondering these two possibilities, is it any wonder that Pluto can be either Pluton, another name for the god Hades, or Plutos (Plutus) the god of wealth?*  Deciding how one is going to distinguish or conflate these two aspects may be an important step in the construction of one's mythic Underworld.

* This division in the Roman mythos is taken up by the figures of Orcus and Dis Pater, respectively.

Monday, June 20, 2011

King James Rules for Mythopoesis!

This year is the four-hundredth anniversary of the translation of the Bible authorized by King James I of England and Scotland.  Popularly known as the King James Version or the King James Bible,* for over half of its history it was known in English contexts simply as, the Bible, so much so that when an English bishop in the mid-nineteenth century reminded his clergy as he held it aloft that "This is not the Bible," he drew audible gasps.  Along with the works of William Shakespeare, this Bible is both the foundation of and the pinnacle of English literature: the only two works that deserve the designation of primary classics in the English canon.  While this is true of its substance as well as of its language, I am going to set substance aside with an assertion whose truth can rather easily be discovered by those who have yet to learn it: one cannot meaningfully enter the thought world of the English tradition of literature in ignorance of it.  To the extent that you want to locate your mythopoesis in this sphere of cultural interaction, you must have mastered this classic text.  Having dealt with that in one sentential swoop, I am going to focus on other lessons that can be learned from King James' translation.  These fall into two groups: 1. Historical (with an RPG rule suggestion) and 2. Linguistic.

1. The Historical
There are a number of excellent books about the story of the King James Bible available in this anniversary year.  I have just finished Alister McGrath's In the Beginning, and can recommend it as a good and informative read with only two major criticisms.  First, it is much lighter on the reception of the text than it is on its background and production and it would have benefited from the final two chapters being expanded.  Second (and this is probably the fault of Anchor Books rather than the author), though it is written by a scholar, its pitch at a popular audience resulted in its being shorn of foot- or end notes.  Even as a popular work, it should have assumed an educated audience and had minimal notes.

McGrath points out a crucial development that played a part in the transformation from Medieval to Early Modern Europe: the rise of the middle class.  The rise of the middle class resulted in a cycle of more literacy/more demand for affordable books.  And it was this complex of increasing demand and developing the technology to supply that demand that led to the availability of printed codices of translations of the Bible into the vernacular languages (which, by the way, was a significant business interest).

Now, for the fantasist working on setting or world-building, I have often seen the concern raised about the existence of gunpowder and how to handle (i.e., usually eliminate) that.  But this history raises another concern: how widespread is literacy and how is it concentrated in your setting?  How is it related to the existence of a sizable middle class?  Answering these questions will be important for identifying what kind of world it is and how things work in that world, as well as what it will tell you about your characters.

When it comes to fantasy RPGs, these questions are no less important.  Thinking about PCs and NPCs, are they more likely to come from the aspiring, upwardly mobile middle class, the desperate peasants looking to break out of poverty, or failed members of the upper class?  Are they more or less likely to be literate?  Here is an optional rule I have been playing around with: to represent literacy as an accomplishment, require one language slot of a PC to speak a language and a second slot to read and write it, unless the PC is a magic-user [wizard/mage] or cleric.  I will likely try this rule out in the (delayed but hopefully still happening) Ygg campaign.

2.  The Linguistic
If you want to be able to produce exalted, majestic English, all of the King James Bible and a good deal of Shakespeare are your greatest sources.  If you want to produce archaic English, the Bible is a better source than Shakespeare.  Though the two are roughly contemporaneous (Shakespeare starts some years earlier than 1611), the Bible is purposefully archaicizing.  The King's translators were charged not only with producing the most accurate translation based on the scholarship of the day, but with changing as little as possible of the wording of the already existing (but not popular) Bishop's Bible (1568).  Furthermore, the translators recognized the excellence of the work of William Tyndale (1522-1537) and relied heavily on his work as well.  These translations were themselves genealogically related, and coming as they did in a period before changes in the English language accelerated, retaining their constructions meant retaining an earlier form of English (this accelerated phase of linguistic change may be observed in Shakespeare, who is not consistent about using the singular [thou] and plural [you] forms of the second person pronouns and the old verb endings that go with them and who often uses the modern forms [you] we are familiar with today).

It is not easy for someone such as myself, who was raised reading Biblical English, to deal with one of the most lamentable facts of our failing culture: many people cannot read Early Modern English.  My students have forced me to accept this fact.  I expected to find it at the community college, but when I found it at the seminary, I will not describe the extreme acts that tempted me.  So we live in a day where use of the old classic is diminishing, but also in which Shakespeare is paraphrased for college English classes and Richard Hooker is paraphrased for Anglican seminarians.  Speaking for a moment only to native English speakers, cutting ourselves off from our literary past is a severe cultural impoverishment, rendering us only partly literate in our own tongue.

For those wanting to avoid this sad fate, there is no cure other than reading to increase proficiency.  Happily, we live in a day where the best version of the King James Bible ever is available: the New Cambridge Paragraph Bible -- and in cheap formats!  Some folks may also be interested in one of the anniversary reprints that seem to be springing up everywhere.  While these reproduce some important parts of the 1611 printing exactly, the biblical text itself is a reprint of the 1611 text from 1833.  This gives them an old look and reproduces the old spellings, but provides the advantage of a text in Roman type.  I can't imagine modern readers struggling with both the language, the spellings, and Blackletter typeface at the same time.  So if you prize "feel" over easy readability and scholarship, get a commemorative reprint, but if not, go for the NCPB.  However, even if you start with a run-of-the-mill printing like a Gideon Bible, you are entering a world of style and diction that will elevate your own poetry and prose, as well as open up a body of literature that is becoming increasingly a treasure hidden from the masses.  As always, thanks for stopping by, and I hope you profited from this week's Mythopoeic Monday.

NB: The NKJV or New King James Version is not what you are looking for.  Move along.

* Abbreviated variously: KJV, KJB, and AV for Authorized Version.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Guest Blogger's Peek inside PaizoCon 2011

We've been treated to a pretty thorough digestion of the announcements at this year's PaizoCon, so now my pal Mike Welham is offering up a more personal look into the con experience.  Thanks a lot, Mike!  Hopefully,  I'll join you one of these years.

One Geek’s Trip to PaizoCon 2011

PaizoCon, originating as a fan convention before becoming Paizo took over a lot of the operation, is a relatively small convention—attendance this year topped 450 people. This gives us Pathfinder fans a chance to interact with fellow fans as well as nearly everyone in the company, which is a real treat to someone who finds conversations rather rushed at larger conventions.

This was my third PaizoCon, and I intend to go every year they have one (assuming my son’s graduation is not the same weekend next year, that is). Not only did I get to see people I’ve met at previous conventions, but I also saw a few people I have befriended on the Paizo message boards, mainly in FaWTL—Forums are Way Too Long.

Paris Crenshaw, one of those message board friends who I actually met in person at last year’s PaizoCon, gave plenty of great information about Paizo’s announcements. I’m not going to rehash those here. Instead I’ll just give you one random person’s experience, which I hope will not drive away regular readers of this blog.

I learned the hard way in 2009 that I want to arrive early on Thursday and leave late on Sunday (or Monday morning), by missing out on the Meet and Eat and some Sunday afternoon panels. Determine to make it to my second Meet and Eat this year, I didn’t actually end up going, because the siren’s call of Wolfgang Baur’s Open Design dinner drew me away.  My decision might have been firmly set upon finding out that Wolfgang was buying the first round of drinks.

Not to worry, I caught up with my fellow convention goers in Dennis “Ogre” Baker’s room, where I had a delightful concoction created by a Mr. “Fox.” Unfortunately, there was some rum in the drink, so I got reacquainted with my annoying allergy to the stuff, which wasn’t bad enough to blunt my enjoyment of the company.

The highlight of the evening was seeing Hugo Solis, artist extraordinaire, who brought his copy of the over-sized Book of Drakes, complete with laser-etched cover. I might be biased since I am a coauthor on the book, but I was in awe of holding a physical copy of the book. Seriously, ignoring the “blah blah blahs” I put in the book, it would be worth it just for the art that Hugo crafted.

I got a lottery event! For the first time ever! OK, I missed the deadline for last year’s lottery due to some life chaos, so that was on me. I played a druid who could talk to plants, animals, and the wind, in Kevin Andrew Murphy’s “Star of Prizendorf.”  Interrogating palm trees regarding the theft of an important jewel was as fun for me as it was baffling for the rest of the characters/players.

Afterwards, I dropped by the store to pick up copies of The Time WarSuper Genius Games’ PaizoCon-only offering—for friends. I also planned to do a little shopping for myself while I was there. What was originally an errand run/shopping trip turned into a little bit of fun work, when Shelley Baur roped me and Adam Daigle into autographing “ashcan” copies of The Book of Drakes, printed and transported by Hugo Solis. It’s still very surreal to me.

I got some unintended exercise thanks to Dave Mallon (Eldritch Mr. Shiny on the Paizo boards), who wanted to print some copies of illustrations for his portfolio. 1.5 miles is what Google Maps said it took to get to FedEx/Kinkos, and I felt confident I could make a 3 mile round-trip. What Google neglected to mention was the 20 degree incline on the way to the copy shop. I felt my age and my sedentary lifestyle catch up to me on that journey, but it was good company at least.

Friday night was spent in the Coast Bellevue bar, drinking copious amounts of Purple Paizo Punch with FaWTLies and special guests Gary and Sara Marie Teter. My PaizoCon roomie, Justin Franklin, worked very hard to get details of Gary’s plans for the Paizo website. The code name “Twiddler” came up a few times, and Gary gave us hope that a private messaging system (complete with group PMs) will debut in the future.

There were plenty of scoops to be had on this day, which you’ve already seen. Additionally, I got to participate in two creation exercises—Adam Daigle’s “monster in an hour,” where 30 of us created an ooze which sucks its victim’s brains out, and at the RPG Superstar panel, where 50 of us decided a corset would be an interesting magic item for the first round.

The highlight of the day, though, was the afternoon snacktime conversation Justin, Paris, and I had with Paizo co-founder Lisa Stevens and Paizo’s “godfather” Ryan Dancey. We learned some eye-popping things about creative accounting at previous companies and got an excellent glimpse into Lisa’s vision for the company.

Saturday night was, of course, the banquet, where we FaWTLies (and honorary member Gavin Smith sporting a lovely Red Mantis Assassin costume) sat with Gary Teter. We were torn, though, because Gary and Sara Marie got split up this year as opposed to last year when they got to sit at the same table. It was like having to choose between one’s parents after a divorce. As luck would have it, Gary couldn’t stay long, since the server decided to go down during the banquet. Had he been there, he would have been proud of us absolutely stunning Mark Moreland during the trivia contest.

After the banquet we had more purple punch and more conversation with Gary and Sara Marie. During my attempt to return to my room to get some sleep, I ended up talking to a myriad of people and showed off The Book of Drakes to Paizo staffers.

The previous night we made ambitious plans to play in a Pathfinder Society game at 8 AM. Surprisingly, we all made it (except for Sara Marie, but Gary told us not to expect her to be up that early). Mark Moreland and Hyrum Savage made sure we got a table, which was nice, but the chap running the game was less than prepared to run a game. By then fatigue was setting in, though, and we weren’t nearly as rowdy as we should have been. The experience made me vow to run Society games next year, so we can hopefully have a full FaWTL experience.

Sunday afternoon involved us winding down, first around a game of Kill Doctor Lucky, then just sitting at the table fighting off sleep. We had one last meal together before everyone else took off on their red-eye flights. I at least got to sleep in the hotel room for one more night before having to fly back across the country.

I left PaizoCon glad to have met old friends for the first time, as well as brand new friends, and I also left with a hopeful sign for my future as a freelancer. I hope to see everyone again, and some new faces, at next year’s convention!

Let's just see if anybody wants to ID themselves in the comments...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Guest Blogger Details PaizoCon Announcements

For this post, I am pleased to unveil one of my Most Valuable Moles from PaizoCon 2011: Paris "Scoops" Crenshaw, who has gone to the trouble of putting his rough notes into a wonderfully detailed account of this year's announcements for the readers of the blog.  Paris, please accept my thanks for your hard work during and after the convention!

From June 9th through June 12th, 2011, Bellevue, Washington played host to a diverse group of gamers, writers, artists and industry professionals, all gathered at the Coast Hotel for PaizoCon 2011. PaizoCon is an opportunity for fans and colleagues of Paizo Publishing, LLC, to get together to socialize, play games, share stories, and learn the secrets about the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

But you probably already knew that.

You probably also knew that in addition to the scheduled gaming events, including Pathfinder Society Organized Play, the con schedule is filled with seminars on such topics as small press publishing, having your art or writing published by Paizo and third party publishers, designing RPGs, and drawing maps. Designers, developers, and writers also took the time to share their experiences and give up secrets about the Pathfinder Campaign Setting and future Paizo releases.

The major event that takes place at PaizoCon is the Preview Banquet, wherein the Paizo staff shares a meal, a trivia contest, and a whole bunch of information with attendees. My plans solidified late this year, so I almost missed out on the banquet, but thanks to Charlie Bell from the Paizo messageboards, I was able to get a ticket at the last minute.

So, in gratitude for my opportunity to share the evening with some good friends, and learn some very interesting things about the coming year for Pathfinder, I think it right and good to share some of those insights with you.

Let’s begin with a discussion of Pathfinder RPG product schedule for the next several months.

In August 2011, we will see the release of the much-anticipated Ultimate Combat. This book has been heavily play-tested and hotly debated on the messageboards. I’ll be discussing its contents in greater detail below.

In the Fall of 2011, we will see the Pathfinder RPG Beginner Box, which I will also discuss with more specifics below.

After the Beginner Box, Paizo will release Bestiary III in Winter 2012. This product will include several favorite monsters from products like earlier Adventure Paths and the Bonus Bestiary, as well as new monsters to challenge your players.

The next product discussed is a book called Ultimate Races, slated for Spring of 2012. Since the banquet, much discussion has been held about the appropriateness of the name, leading to the decision to name it the Advanced Race Guide.

The 256-page book will provide tons of information on the seven core races with which players are already familiar. While giving you racial options and archetypes that give more flavor to your favorite PC race, the book doesn’t limit itself to the core rulebook races.

There will also be information on 12 "spotlight races" which are the more common and popular non-core races that players choose for their PCs. There will be information for players of aasimar, tieflings, dhampyr, kobolds, and goblins, as well as the elemental races.

Perhaps even more exciting was the news that the book will introduce PC-playable information on every creature in the Bestiary that advances by class levels. Paizo has released subsequent information that creatures from all three Bestiaries and The Inner Sea World Guide will be covered.

So you can see that there are plenty of new RPG rules options coming up in the next year. After Erik Mona finished tantalizing us with these details, James Jacobs stepped up to discuss the next adventure paths. First up was the AP that will follow Carrion Crown.

Entitled The Jade Regent, this adventure path will take your characters across the face of Golarion, starting from the now-familiar town of Sandpoint, carrying them over the Crown of the World and into the mysterious lands of Tian Xia. As Golarion's analogue for Asia, Tian Xia has been discussed on the message boards and anticipated by fans for a long time, and this adventure path sounds like an excellent way to bring more of Golarion's secrets into the light.

As a side note, Dave Gross's upcoming novel Master of Devils is set in Tian Xia and features Pathfinder's favorite "odd couple" of Radovan and Count Varian Jeggare. I had the pleasure of sitting in on two sessions in which Mr. Gross read the first 5 chapters of August's Pathfinder Tales novel, Master of Devils. In my conversations with Dave about his book, I learned that he tried to provide examples of three great genres of Chinese action adventure film: the romantic film (think Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon); the over the top kung-fu movie with superhuman, "flying monks", etc.; and the Chinese fantasy film with otherworldly spirits and fey-like elements. From what I've heard so far, he managed it very well. There’s even a third character’s voice in this book...but I’m not going to spoil it for you. You’ll just have to wait until you read Chapter 5 of the book.

Mr. Gross also read the first chapter of "The Husk", the novella-length Pathfinder Journal, which details the famous pair's adventures in Minkai and the events leading up to Master of Devils. There will also be a web-fiction feature, which occurs even further back in time before the events of "The Husk." Dave asked everyone who heard this to point out that you don't have to wait for the entire Jade Regent adventure path or for the web fiction to come out before reading the Pathfinder Tales novel in August. You'll be able to enjoy all of these stories without reading them in the order they happen on Golarion.

When you combine the novel, the Pathfinder Journal, and web fiction with the upcoming Dragon Empires Gazeteer and all the support material that is certain to be contained in the adventure paths, you'll have plenty of material to add flavor and crunch to whatever Asian-themed Pathfinder campaign you want to run.

On top of all that, you're going to find the same level of quality in art direction that you would expect from the Pathfinder product lines. James Jacobs announced that, for the Jade Regent adventure path, Wayne Reynolds' work will be returning to Pathfinder covers. He showed us some beautiful images from Pathfinder #49, The Brinewall Legacy.

James didn't reveal anything more about the first volume other than what you can read in the product description on, but he did give some fun hints about Pathfinder #50, Night of Frozen Shadows. This second installment of Jade Regent will take place in the Crown of the World, as the characters prepare to make the journey over the northern trade route into Tian Xia. Mr. Jacobs said that you should think of the adventure path as "Vikings versus Ninjas," which sounds like a heck of a lot of fun.

In addition to the new setting information, Jade Regent is likely to introduce some new formatting elements to the Pathfinder Adventure Paths. James mentioned the inclusion of an index for major recurring NPCs, that will hopefully help the gamemaster stay organized when running the campaign. If such elements are well-received, we can probably expect to see them in future adventure paths.

Which brings me to the next announcement James made: The next adventure path after Jade Regent will be set in the Shackles. James said that the working title had been "Skull & Bones," but the official title was recently announced on the Paizo boards as Skull and Shackles, which I think has a decidedly Pathfinder feel to it.

James also said that this adventure path is an inheritor of Kingmaker's legacy and that you might think of Skull & Shackles as "Pirate-maker." In other words, your characters will be able to make names for themselves as notable pirates, building their reputations and perhaps even a hidden lair somewhere on one of the Shackles' many islands. The adventure path will introduce a mechanic to keep track of your fame or infamy, as well as a "plunder score," which presumably will quantify how much you are able to take from those scurvy dogs too weak to defend their treasures. I'm greatly looking forward to seeing this adventure path, as well as the wealth of support material that third party publishers will undoubtedly publish for it.

So, what else was discussed at the banquet? Well, they did go into a little more detail about two upcoming products...

First up was the discussion of Ultimate Combat. To paraphrase Jason Bulmahn, it's about stabbing people. Which is fun, right? I think so...well, in a roleplaying game context, anyway.

As anyone who's been following the open play-test knows, the book introduces three more base classes: Ninja, Samurai, and Gunslinger. The ninja and samurai, of course, support the upcoming Tian Xia releases. The gunslinger, another hot-button topic in the PFRPG world, will be released as a full base class, rather than as a fighter archetype, as it was originally envisioned.

Speaking of archetypes, the book will provide lots of those. According to Jason, the goal was to provide plenty of options to make the "martial classes" even more cool. While the majority of the book focuses on this, Ultimate Combat will also provide options for making combat-oriented versions of spell-casters. For example, there was the much touted revelation of an art piece to go with the gunslinging wizard. I don't know about you, but that sounds like a fun option to me.

Ultimate Combat will also provide the single, largest collection of feats ever produced in a Pathfinder product. Jason indicated it was likely to be the largest they would ever produce, as well. Clocking in at around 250 feats, the chapter's table of feats alone runs for 8 pages. Aside from introducing many great combat-oriented feats, the book will also introduce a new type of feat: "Style Feats."

Style feats are how the Pathfinder RPG will implement various styles of martial arts. From what I could gather, these feats are likely to have trees associated with them, since most characters will focus in only one style. There will however be options for those who wish to study multiple styles. I'm sure this will be a great way to add the White Crane style to your monk's repertoire of unstoppable moves. Of course, no one will ever be able to defeat my cramping hand style...but we don't need to talk about that now.

Moving past the feats section, Jason revealed that Ultimate Combat will contain an expansion of Ultimate Magic's dueling rules, allowing for cinematic sword duels and the like. Additionally, there will be rules for "performance combat" for when your characters find themselves in the arena and need to get the crowd on their side. As a fan of the Starz series, Spartacus and Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, I couldn't help hearing the cheers of "Gannicus!" in my head when I heard that announcement.

Ultimate Combat will also include new rules for vehicle combat, which apparently will help you adjudicate those moments when your characters’ dirigible is attacked by a great wyrm, if the cool artwork is any indication. (You can't help but love the pulpy, action-filled options that the Pathfinder RPG system provides you!)

The book will also introduce several new optional rules systems that you can incorporate into your game, if you choose. There will be a discussion of how to manage piecemeal armor. Jason's description demonstrated how you no longer have to take the GM's arbitrary decision that your combination of various parts from different armor types grants you a +4 armor bonus to AC. Now, you can do a complex series of calculations and determine that the bonus is, in fact, +5! (This was, of course, said tongue-in-cheek. I'm sure the system will be very useful. Really.)

You will also have the option of treating armor as DR, incorporating mechanics for called shots, bringing in the wounds/vitality point system and similar alternate rules to customize your Pathfinder play experience.

Lastly, came the announcement that Ultimate Combat will include a few spells. Before the groans could reverberate off the banquet halls too many times, Jason clarified that these spells were designed to help make fighters and other combat classes better. I assume that means that we will be seeing a lot of buffing spells that team-oriented casters can prepare to support their meatshields...I mean, their companions.

When the talk of combat was all done, Jason moved on to reveal the innards of the Beginner Box. As a father of 9 year old girls who are already asking me if we can play Pathfinder together, I'm greatly anticipating this release, and the more I see of it the more excited I get.

As the product page on will clearly tell you, the box will contain the following:
  • 64-page Hero’s Handbook, detailing character creation, spells, equipment, and general rules for playing the game
  • 96-page Game Master’s Guide packed with adventures, monsters, magical treasures, and advice on how to narrate the game and control the challenges faced by the heroes
  • A complete set of 7 high-impact polyhedral dice
  • More than 80 full-color pawns depicting tons of heroes, monsters, and even a fearsome black dragon
  • Four pregenerated character sheets to throw you right into the action
  • Four blank character sheets to record the statistics and deeds of your custom-made hero
  • A durable, reusable, double-sided Flip-Mat play surface that works with any kind of marker

I'll start with a discussion of the pawns, which are paper stand-ups that come with bases. The total count of pawns will be 87. This will include 28 PCs and 59 monsters. I was able to get some clarification from Vic Wertz on the messageboards, and the PC pawns will include the 4 iconics representing the classes in the box set (fighter, cleric, rogue and wizard), so you'll see Valeros, Kyra, Merisiel, and Ezren. The other 24 PC stand-ups will be representations of every gender, race, and class combination among those possible per the Beginner Box rules.

So let's talk about those rules, starting with the Hero's Handbook. This 64-page book will tell you how to build your character and play the game. It will include a solo adventure that players can run to familiarize themselves with the game, even if they're by themselves.

Players of the Beginner Box will be able to play the four core classes mentioned above and will be able to choose to play either a human, dwarf or elf. They will be presented with a reduced choice of skills and feats, which simplifies game play while still introducing players to the basics of the Pathfinder RPG.

The equipment section introduces one of the high-production value choices that Paizo made when putting together this set. Every piece of equipment, including weapons, has a picture associated with its entry in the Hero's Handbook. New players will know exactly what their chosen weapons look like and will have the stats for their equipment easily referenced next to the picture. I had the opportunity to talk with Lisa Stevens about the Beginner Box on Saturday afternoon and she was very animated about the quantity and quality of the art in this product. From what I saw at the banquet, I can see why.

The Hero's Handbook wraps up with a discussion of the basic rules that cover the exploration your characters will do and then discusses combat. To give you an idea about how streamlined the combat system is, the entire combat chapter is only 8 pages long!

During that conversation with Lisa, she revealed the same story that Jason told at the banquet: Paizo contracted a blind play-test study of the box set, in which a group of 14-year-olds were given the box and simply told to play the game. The developers were able to watch the children through a one-way mirror as they opened the box, read the rules and started playing Pathfinder within about 20 minutes. As I said, I'm a dad who's looking forward to this product.

In addition to the Hero's Handbook, the box holds a GM Guide, which contains a short adventure set in everyone's favorite Varisian coastal town of Sandpoint. The book also has the information GMs need to run the game and create adventures of their own. And there are magic items, both old and new, so even those who already know how to play Pathfinder will find something useful. Lastly, the monsters in the boxed set are presented in a new format, providing a picture and a one-column text entry.

Overall, I predict this is going to be a fantastic product that will have secondary effects on design within Paizo. For a long time, our hobby has been a game that must be taught. The challenge of diving into a massive rulebook and figuring out how to play the game is just too much for most people to undertake without the help of someone who already knows how to play.

The developers had to do a lot of work and "change of thinking" to present a true Pathfinder RPG ruleset that someone completely unfamiliar with the game can pick up and start playing in 20 minutes. My guess is that those lessons won't be forgotten, but will instead be carried forward and applied to the way future RPG products are written.

So, that's my recap of the Pathfinder Preview Banquet from PaizoCon 2011. I attended many other seminars during the weekend and learned a heck of a lot, in addition to spending time with good people from the Paizo and Pathfinder community. I can't wait for my next PaizoCon. Perhaps I'll see you there!

About the Guest Blogger:
Paris Crenshaw is a US Navy officer, currently stationed in San Diego, California. He is a writer and editor of speculative fiction and RPG materials, published in Wayfinder magazine, as well as a member of the Wily Writers group ( and

Monday, June 13, 2011

Beastly World Building

Sometimes, world-building needs to go by the book, beast by beast.  Below are two books I recently finished in which I found ideas about the beasts of a setting that intrigued me and stood out as worthy of reflection, and perhaps out-right stealing.*  Though some revelations are inevitable, I will try to minimalize any significant spoilers.

Hunt the Space Witch!
Reading Notes:  Quite enjoyed these stories, more than the fantasy doorstop setting that he later wrote (admittedly, I just sampled his famous series, reading one or two novellas rather than the full novels.)  Energetic and pulpy!

Beastly Business:  In the titular story of the book, we run across a character who keeps and exhibits a menagerie of exotic creatures.  I am tempted to simply relocate this character to Ygg, changing some minor character features so that s/he fits the fantasy setting better than his outer space origin.  Silverberg's beasties are colorful and threatening.  In the traveling zoo, we find (leaving out Earth creatures):
  • Dreamstones (The gems are apparently non-living treasures he exhibits, but I include them because of the flavor)
  • Gems from the barren wastes of Duu
  • Talking trees of Thanamon
  • Dwarf squids of Qi with red gimlet eyes
  • Poison-tongued raintoads of Mivaghik
  • Violet legless salamanders from the blazing sunside of UpjiLaz
  • Smiling protopods of Viron (blinding agility, flesh eaters)
Bringing the Exhibitor, and the beasts and their keeper(s), into Ygg raises the issue of the problems of a traveling circus/museum such as his/hers.  In a non-sci-fi setting, this would require a large company, unless the Exhibitor wielded great magic.  What if the entry or the exterior of the exhibition traveled and the menagerie itself staid in some hidden location?  Now the Exhibitor is the master of a dungeon.  I'm getting kind of an evil Howl's Moving Castle feel from this change, and I like it.  Maybe most people who pay and visit don't have the dungeon experience.  That would be reserved for special guests.  I think I will also read Ray Bradbury's original short story that inspired Something Wicked This Way Comes for more development ideas.  A dungeon based on such a model doesn't have to concern itself with figuring out a natural ecology, since it is also a zoo.  In addition to holding almost any beast in the bestiary, such a dungeon is a great place to introduce strange new creatures.

I may expand on this idea in a future update to the Dungeon of Game-Mastery.

The Kingdom Beyond the Waves
Reading Notes:  Enjoyable, lots of twists.  I didn't enjoy it as much as the first book for some reason, perhaps partially because I was disappointed the two main characters were almost excluded from the second book.  The first book had an ancient dungeon ruled by elder gods in it.  The second has a dungeon that is the degenerated remnant of the sewer system beneath an ancient city. 

Beastly Business:  The lost civilization at the heart of the story was the pinnacle of super-science and the bio-engineered denizens of the sewer system had mutated into monsters.  The sewer creatures had been created to maintain, clean, and reprocess all the wastes of the great city, and to share a hive consciousness so that they worked together like an efficient system of machines.  From these docile servants, they mutate into monsters.  My preference in gaming generally excludes ancient super-science and technology, but for the Expedition to the Barrier Peaks fans among you, this is a great way to approach beasts and the dungeons they populate.  A look at the Swords & Wizardry Core bestiary yields a number of potential mutants of the degenerated techno-sewer: fire beetles, giant rats, yellow mold, gelatinous cubes, grey ooze, ochre jelly, will-o-the-wisps, black pudding, and giant slugs would need little justification or alteration to fit perfectly.

I hope you've enjoyed this Mythopoeic Monday's peek into one aspect of world-building in two authors, and how they can be adapted for gaming purposes.  Either one of the options could be developed, with thought, from a small dungeon to even a sprawling megadungeon with the features of a mythic underworld.  They provide an environment for imprisonment, exploration, and threat that give a particular character to the setting, whether they are central or tangential to the plot. **

* Gaming, like teaching, is one of the areas of life where one can and should steal from the best, unlike writing and scholarship.  So even while reading a steampunk novel and a collection of space romances, I am alive to picking up some gems to share at the gaming table.
** While the issue of plot is more complex in the case of gaming than it is in the case of the composition of fiction, I maintain that it is an essential part of role-playing, and that the better the plot that arises in gaming, the better the game for most players.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Looks like the Scoops are Over, but ...

Here's a picture that shows the prototypes for all four Pathfinder/WizKids iconic miniatures:

My moles tell me that they believe all the beans were spilled yesterday, so they settled in today to have some fun gaming together: fun well-deserved.  They may be popping in sometime next week for a guest blog reflecting on their PaizoCon 2011 experience.  Tomorrow, it's back to our regularly scheduled Mythopoeic Monday for some thoughts on monsters and world-building.

PS.  Go Mavs!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Next Pathfinder Rulebook Announced

At the PaizoCon banquet tonight, the next big RPG hardback book was announced:

Ultimate Races
Spotlighting 16 races: Aasimar, tiefling, kobold, goblin, dhampir, merfel, strix, and more races that they are currently holding out on.  Teases.  My bet is elemental races.  So apparently the demand for playing monstrous races has reached the point that Paizo is addressing it.

The other big hardback will be (drum roll):

Bestiary 3
The surprise that's not a surprise.  It has a Wayne Reynolds cover with a greater cyclops, kappa, and grave knight on it and will focus on creatures from international folklore.  I love the Paizo bestiaries and particularly look forward to this one.

EDIT: I just received Mole Notes on the entire banquet, if you can decipher them.
Ultimate Combat, August 2011
Beginner Box, Fall 2011
Bestiary III, Winter 2011
Ultimate Races, Spring 2012 (256 pages)
Spotlight races: kobolds, goblins, aasimar, dhampyr, tiefling, every character that advances by character classes

Jade Regent AP
Wayne Reynolds
The Brinewall Legacy
50, "Vikings vs ninjas"
New format stuff

"Skull & Bones"
The Shackles
Infamy scores & plunder scores

U[ltimate] C[ombat], "Stabbing People"
Gunslingers - full base class
Archetypes: a wizard with a gun
Over 200 feats
Style feats = martial arts
Dueling expansion
Performance combat: Gannicus!
Vehicle Combat
Optional rule systems
Piecemeal armor
Armor as DR
Called shots
A few spells: Focus on making fighters better.

Beginner Box
Hero's Handbook
Gamemaster's Guide
Pawns: Stand-ups (87); 28 PCs, 59 monsters
Pre-gens: 4 w/character sheets
Hero's Handbook
Solo adventure
Human, dwarf, and elf
Cleric, fighter, rogue, wizard
Skills and feats
Reduced list of both
Pictures for equipment
Combat: 8 pages only
GM Guide
Short adventure
How to run the game
How to create an adventure
Magic items: old and new
Monsters: one column each
Set in Sandpoint

Scoopocalypse! Adventuring News from PaizoCon 2011

The latest reports from my moles are all about published adventures, in both the Adventure Paths and the modules.

Adventure Paths 9 & 10
9.  Jade Regent involves getting Amiko back to her rightful position as ruler of Minkai. Oni (ogre mage, giant oni, tengu oni, human oni, and goblin oni -- think [the] hobgoblin ill[ustration] from [the] 1e Monster Manual).  Jade Regent will cover Crown of the World and Tian Xia, including a Mongolia analog.  Crown of the World will include environmental rules, equipment, and a gazetteer.  Imperial dragons in the Jade Regent bestiaries.

10.  Next AP will be Pirates! Calling it Skull and Bones right now [working title]Mirrors Kingmaker, where you start out small and become a pirate lord.  Ship to ship combat and large-scale naval battles.  Start out as a prisoner on a ship.  Probably culminate in an invasion from, say, Cheliax or some other country that doesn't like The Shackles.  Pirate prestige class of some sort will show up. This adventure path will disallow paladins (as presented in the core rule book).  Or at least discourage them.


  • The Harrowing (Mark's favorite!) --Enter a Harrow Deck and encounter things from the individual cards. Mechanism in place to get bonuses if you recognize the imagery.
  • Feast of Ravenmoor -- by Brandon Hodge, kinda like the (original) Wicker Man.
  • Tournament of the Ruby Phoenix--tied in with PFS [the Pathfinder Society -- scenarios?].
  • Midnight Mirror --RPG Superstar module.

Sorry it took me so long to get this up, moles and readers...I fell asleep!

EDIT: Someone has put up an audio link for the seminar on the future of Pathfinder adventures.

PaizoCon 2011 News Updates

The moles are still busy at work.  (And gaming and partying.  Rats.)  Thanks a lot guys and/or gals! First, the Pathfinder Player Companion is now going monthly.  Second, I got extended details on the Pathfinder Tales fiction line.
Pierce Watters and Erik Mona stated that Paizo is interested in, and actively investigation possibilities for, audiobook versions of the Pathfinder Tales novels. The intent is to go that direction, but as with everything they do, Paizo wants to make sure that what they produce will be of high quality.

They would love to be able to put out Kindle and Nook versions of the books through the actual retailers (i.e., Amazon, etc.), but the current contract requirements with the major retailers are not to Paizo's liking, so they're holding off on that. However, users can already read their Paizo ePub copies by using available conversion software. (I can't remember the name of the software unfortunately.)

The panel also confirmed (re-confirmed?) that rules for the "riffle scrolls" from "Prince of Wolves" will be printed in the "Inner Sea Magic" book coming out soon.

Lastly, one other tidbit from Dave Gross: Along with "Master of Devils" there will be two other pieces of fiction concerning Radovan and Jeggare, including a web story and a novella. The novella will be set in Minkai and will detail the duo's exploits leading up to the events in "Master of Devils."
Yay!  Dave Gross news!

Friday, June 10, 2011

More Scoops from PaizoCon 2011

Some of these were already known, but this just in from one of my moles at the Future of Paizo Fiction seminar:

Next 5 novels: "Master of Devils" by Dave Gross, set in Tian Xia; "Death's Heretic" by James Sutter, set mainly across several planes; "Song of the Serpent" by Hugh Matthews, set in Druma; "City of the Fallen Sky" by Tim Pratt, set in the Lost City of Kho; "Title TBD" by Liane Merciel, set in Nidal.
I've been anticipating the Dave Gross novel for some time.  For more on it and the line in general, scroll down to the Atomic Array link and give the recent show dedicated to Pathfinder Tales a listen.

News of Pathfinder Minis III

This weekend is PaizoCon 2011 in Bellevue, Washington, and readers, while I am not there, I have some moles who are.  This afternoon I got the following:
I talked to [Paizo Publisher] Erik [Mona] about PPMs [pre-painted plastic miniatures]. Nothing solid after the first box. But if they do more they will be random, or in sets (like a set of goblins). And some sort of mini game is expected.
Again, here is the link to the Q&A and preoder page at Paizo.  I'm hearing reasons suggesting that it is wise to preorder this one, among them helping WizKids determine their initial run, so if you want to ensure that you get one and increase the possibilities that are entertained in the report above, I highly recommend clicking away.  Keep up the good work, moles!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

News of Pathfinder Minis II

I still don't see any further press releases, but here is the preorder link, which has a Q&A.  Below are the Wayne Reynolds illustrations of the four iconic characters that are coming in the first miniatures release.


News of Pathfinder Minis

According the post at ICv2, here, the initial box of Pathfinder miniatures will be four of the iconic characters:
  1. Ezren the Wizard,
  2. Merisiel the Elven Rogue,
  3. Kyra the Cleric, and
  4. Valeros the Fighter.
Given the almost irresistible conclusion that the ol' Paizo magic will infuse the WizKids venture, I am sure that the success of the first set will spur further sets.  (With monsters!)  It strikes me as a little odd that there is still no press release at the website of Paizo or WizKids, but I will post again when I have those links.

EDIT: It seems like a lot of people are not finding the second part of the story, which has the preorder link.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Qlippoth, Aliens, and More Fey

The gnomish clockwork scope-goggles I acquired seem to have been well worth the trouble and expense, for I've got a scoop!  Our friends over at Clockwork Gnome Publishing have been busy, as usual, and will soon be announcing three new Pathfinder-compatible products: 

Finwicket's Chronicles: Sailing the Starlit Sea
Professor Finwicket shares his stellar discoveries made thanks to an ancient ship that can sail the heavens. Includes rules for travel, exotic planetary settings, and alien creatures.

Finwicket's Chronicles: Beyond the Faerie Path
The sequel to Along the Faerie Path expands on the realm of Faerie.  I am particularly excited about this one as a Chestertonian,* because it promises to reveal some of the mystical laws of Faerie.  Also, I feel like I run into a lot of nervousness amongst gamers that fae come off as twee.  I expect that in this case, they are going to be rather twisted, but here's my question: how to use the expectations of twee to turn up the twist?

The Virtuous and the Vile: Gods of the Outer Void
The qlippoth lords of the outer void have discovered away to manipulate lesser beings into releasing them.  Challenge your players with nasty dose of Chaos in the form of foul rites, myths, spells and magic items from these imprisoned menaces.

Links to the press release will be added to all the images above, just as soon as it comes up.  The machines in the burrows also whisper to me that the Labyrinth Lord conversion of Finwicket's Bestiary: Along the Faerie Path is nearing completion.  I'm happy with the pace, subject matter, and quality I am seeing out of CGP, especially as the ranks of third party publishers and the amount they are putting out shows no signs of anything but growth into the foreseeable future.

* See this earlier post. I'm surprised I didn't link Chesterton's essays on fairy in that article.  I might add those links later, as they are public domain and available now online.  I still haven't taken the further step of reading George MacDonald's essays in full, but I'm told that there is some dependence on MacDonald here, and of course this entire tradition comes down to both Tolkien and C. S. Lewis.  Analyzing that will be a task for a later day -- as will seeing how their line diverges from William Butler Yeats.

Monday, June 6, 2011

World-Building by Analogy

No one starts from scratch.  But to even make a world look new, alien, original, and otherworldly, is tough.  I'm sure that Frank Herbert had both oil and drugs on Earth in mind as he built Arrakis, but those are not the first things one thinks of when one hears "the spice melange," one of the highly original elements of the internal verisimilitude that is Dune.  Instead my minds travels from the desert to the worms to the Fremen to the spice trade to the navigators to folding space to the empire and on and on.  No matter what route the development of the Dune universe takes, it may reflect its light back on Earth, but it never grounds me there.

Sadly, I am not Frank Herbert (who, in my book, may be the equal of Tolkien when it comes to world-building).  But on the other hand, I don't want to be as bald as Gygax in his Mythus and have Aerth, Aegypt, Aeropa, etc., even when I am coming close to this kind of alternative Earth as I am in Ygg.  So while I start from real world analogues, I'm looking for a trajectory that starts with the analogy and then develops it in original ways.  If you've been keeping up, you've already seen me start with real world mythemes like Yggdrasil or Atlantis, or real cultures like the Norse and classical Greek, and drop them in as major elements and references points.  Even when I haven't done anything with them, these elements that I lift give me and the players a ballpark idea of what would fit in certain areas of the world or where the creative process is at least going to start, even (or maybe, especially) if the end product is largely unrecognizable from the point-of-view of its inspiration.

Another example for me are the Persians: a distinctive culture and empire from ancient times, they were later one of the great Islamic empires, and culturally continued into Mughal India.  As a fan of The Thousand and One Nights (a great deal of which is actually Persian rather than Arabian in background) who is dying to read The Shahnameh, I felt that this rich mine had not been adequately tapped in fantasy settings, least of all by me.  Thinking about what I already knew, I knew that Zoroastrianism had a tradition of dualism and fire worship to tap into, but I didn't want to simply reproduce a fantasy version of it.  I had always liked the idea of the lion (especially the maned head of a male lion) being identified with the sun.  I started looking at Persian symbols and words and found khorshid for the sun and sher or shir for lion.  Thus was born one of the two main deities, Khorshir, personal patron of the Emperor.  I saw Vata as a name of a wind deity, which reminded me of the Vaati or Dukes of the Wind.  I had my second, opposing deity.  What to call this immortal empire of the East?  Aryanastan seemed an obvious choice.

This is how I proceed when I know enough to be dangerous.  When I know somewhat more, I take language more seriously:  Take the long unnamed "Peoples of the City-States of the Middle Sea," inspired by the Greeks.  I always liked the name of the great city, Thessaloniki.  The Greek ideal of Kalos kagathos or kalokagathia -- "Beauty & Goodness" -- inspired me to call them after Kalokaniki  or "Beauty & Victory," a compound that looked like it could have been misheard and vulgarized to create the words classic and classical. This yields the plural, Kalokanikai (kah loh kah NEE keh).

As the lands multiply, the question arises: Now, what to do if one, like me, has no creativity in his hands to speak of?  Instead of drawing an ugly (and largely unintelligible) map, I started with a diagram I could easily make on the computer as an abstract stand-in.  I could later use it to make a map in Hexographer. Due to its abstractness, I don't mind players getting some minor spoilers from the map. Some entries may be temporary.

How do you use analogy in your world-building?  I'd be interested to hear your thoughts in the comments.  As the week progresses, I'll add notes about these updates about these lands and cultures in the respective game tabs.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What the Hell is Wrong with Taliesin?

Allen Taliesin, aka, the Clockwork Gnome, should be working on character generation for our Ygg (S&W) play-by-post game.  He should.  Instead, he is doing this:

 And this:

What is he trying to be? A river flowing to gamerdom?  (Or maybe a gnomish clockwork mill on a river flowing to gamerdom?) The point is, he needs to get his priorities straight.  I ask that all loyal readers of this blog go to his site (linked to the covers above) and post demands for the same there.  And sure, if you want to read his press release about his intriguing new products while you're there, fine, whatever.  Just don't get sucked in.  It's all about priorities, people.

By Heiids: Click Image for Designer's Posting

Ygg Updates: Elemental Races

Charles Santore's illustrated version of The Little Mermaid

Both the Game Masters' and Player's sections (tabs above) have been updated with more information about mermen, giants, and other elemental races.  (Updates marked with dates)  All by taking the Swords & Wizardry bestiary as given, but personalizing the flavor to fit the setting.  I also like seeing Fr Dave's post which fits pretty well with where I have been going with the fae or elfkin and is suggestive for where I am going with kobolds.  For those just joining the conversation, these develop ideas that I put forward here.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

One Maggot God, Coming Right Up!

Well, the Clockwork Gnome has been busy again.  Looks like he's come up with a great device for explaining why your world is infested with megadungeons -- not surprising given his interest in the dungeon as mythic underworld.  Check out the announcement by clicking on the cover above!