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Monday, December 31, 2012

Communication is not always spoken, or simple

While working on chapter 2 "Races & Cultures" I am working on describing different cultures. With some, to help in the naming process, I reference a known human language that can be used for naming things, and communication. Of course, for me that wasn't enough, so I made the Orquihave entirely their own language that consists more of cesture, posture, and nonverbal clues for meaning far more than the sounds others would consider to be words.

Below, I have copied a first draft of a description about their language:


Orqui also called Ork, or Orc)
Official Language: Orcish
An important note about the orcish language: To the outsider, it may seem to be a brutish series of grunts accentuated by gestures, but it is far more complex. The gestures a person makes, the direction of gaze, the tone of their voice, if they are standing sitting or kneeling, and on certain occasions, even the clothing, jewelry, and weapons carried can change not only the tone of a conversation, but even change the entire meaning.
Examples: a warrior reports to their superior about a battle
1.      If a weapon is held and bloody, he says without a word that the battle was won,
and the warrior’s head is up, he followed orders
if the head is also turned to look to one side of the superior, he shows deference to his superior
2.      If a weapon is held, but unblooded, it means the battle was lost
If the weapons blade is pointed toward the superior, it is a direct challenge to the leader’s rulership
If it is pointed behind, it should be pointed to the ground to show no one is to blame, or pointed in the direction of the one who failed
if the warrior is looking into his superior’s eyes, he is showing aggression, clearly blaming the leader

Other Situations::
In an audience with a superior:
If a weapon is sheathed, but held, while the orc is kneeling, this is a show of respect and willingness to follow the orders of the one the orc is looking directly at.
If a weapon is held, but unsheathed while an orc is kneeling, it shows discontent or disagreement with the one he is looking at.

In the home if a child is being disciplined:
A parent would hold their open hand near their child’s face, the further away the hand is held, the greater is their measure of the harm caused by it.
If the parent holds a fist near their child’s face, it is a warning that punishment will be forthcoming. If the fist is held to one side, it is minor. If held above, it is a discipline regarding a dishonorable act. If it is held below the chin, the act committed is something below them that only a younger child would do, and they should know better. The fist would only be held in front of the face as it is actually being used to punch their child.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Monsters, monsters everywhere!


I have recently been working on Chapter 16: Flora and Fauna of Erealind. For those not in the know, Erealind is the world Cyborgs and Sorcerers takes place on. Certiantly, other resources will be able to be adapted to my rules, most GMs know it is the balancing, not the conversion that is difficult when porting monsters from one game to another.

But what if I want original, seldom used monsters, or ones with a twist that maybe my players have not seen before? Sure I have some of what I feel are original beings and creatures like these:

River Runners
            Small, Medium, and Large sized insect-like creatures that are so light, they can literally run up and down rivers and prefer to spend all of their time in small tribes. Little is known of them, except that they can be randomly violent, and sometimes protective of a particular spot, for no apparent reason. The bane of river-traders and anyone who lives near a river such tribes have claimed as their own.
 Slaugh, also called The Host
            Originally thought to be the restless spirits of the dead from the many surface wars, this band of the unsanctified dead fly above the planet, stealing mortals and taking great pleasure in harming humans. Recent studies of this unholy horde of spirits indicate they may be raised by, created, or are comprised of the Malum. While exhibiting most aspects of traditional ghosts, they are more deadly for three reasons:
1.      They can manifest physical weapons that still damage a person’s constitution.
2.      Harder to hit than ghosts (25% chance to hit)
3.      They operate in a concerted and intelligent manner as a group.

However, there are many creatures in mythology whose original versions, powers, and purpose can be subverted or modified to be both original and create a possible storyline and other opportunities. (Thanks in advance to Wikipedia for the information below.)

For instance, Harpies are often thought of in western culture as ugly female formed birds, which calls to mind the Hargraven in Skyrim. In fact, Hesiod[2] calls them two "lovely-haired" creatures, and pottery art depicting the harpies featured beautiful women with wings. Harpies as ugly winged bird-women, e.g. inAeschylus' The Eumenides (line 50) are a late development, due to a confusion with the Sirens. Roman and Byzantine writers detailed their ugliness.[3] To subvert player expectations, make them pretty, give them powers of seduction, or go with their original reason for being: winged spirits best known for constantly stealing all food from Phineus. The literal meaning of the word seems to be "that which snatches" as it comes from the Greek word harpazein (ρπάζειν), which means "to snatch". So make them excellent thieves, or patrons of thieves, or servants of a thieving god.

This brings me to the Erinyes better known as the Furies. Originally, In Greek Mythology the Erinyes (ρινύες, pl. of ρινύς, Erinys; literally "the avengers") from Greek ρίνειν " pursue, persecute"--sometimes referred to as "infernal goddesses" (Greek χθόνιαι θεαί)-- were female chthonic deities of vengeance. They were three netherworld goddesses.[1] A formulaic oath in the Iliad invokes them as "those who beneath the earth punish whosoever has sworn a false oath".[2] Burkert suggests they are "an embodiment of the act of self-cursing contained in the oath".[3] Virgil, probably working from an Alexandrian source, recognized three: Alecto ("unnameable" who appeared in Virgil'sAeneid), Megaera ("grudging"), and Tisiphone ("vengeful destruction"). The waists of the Erinyes were entwined with serpents (compare Gorgon) and their eyes dripped with blood, rendering their appearance rather horrific. Other depictions show them with the wings of a bat or bird and the body of a dog. When in human form, they are said to appear as mourners in long black robes or maidens in short skirts and boots.[9]

Now, my intent is to make the Harpies in my world beautiful winged messengers of the Moon goddess Inanna offering mercy and help to certain individuals. Then I will make the Furies into beautifully horrific vengeful messengers of the Sun god Utu. So you have immediately opposed groups, as Utu the Sun god’s domains are Chaos, Healing, Fire, Sun and Innanna the Moon goddess has the domains of Law, Knowledge, Good, Protection. Futher, your players could have done something that angered the Utu while endearing them to the Inanna. Suddenly, there you have it! The makings of a storyline with established history in the mythology, and the known creatures of the world.
I love it when a plan comes together! 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

NPC Character Questions


What happens when you are trying to develop a long term NPC? It doesn't matter if this NPC is the BBEG, a regular schmoe that will just reappear or a recurring ally, you should have a good character profile for the NPC. A detailed character profile can help you maintain a solid, consistent characterization.

To that end, I found a post on Reddit from user KaityPoo regarding a character questionnaire she uses when planning character for her stories. I like it so much, I copied it below.

The original post and comments can be found here: http://www.reddit.com/r/writing/comments/14nij7/i_found_this_while_looking_in_my_old_fb_notes_its/


Writing Character Profiles - Questionnaire 1 (Adult Characters)
  • Name:
  • Age:
  • General physical description:
  • Hometown:
  • Type of home/ neighborhood:
  • Relationship status:
  • Current family:
  • Family background (parents, previous marriages, etc.):
  • Friends:
  • Other close relationships:
  • Relationship with men:
  • Relationship with women:
  • Job:
  • Dress style:
  • Religion:
  • Attitude to religion:
  • Favorite pastimes:
  • Hobbies:
  • Favorite sports:
  • Favorite foods:
  • Strongest positive personality trait:
  • Strongest negative personality trait:
  • Sense of humor:
  • Temper:
  • Consideration for others:
  • How other people see him/her:
  • Opinion of him/herself:
  • Other traits, especially those to be brought out in story:
  • Ambitions:
  • Philosophy of life:
  • Most important thing to know about this character:
  • Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?
Writing Character Profiles - Questionnaire 2 (Child Characters)
  • Name:
  • Age:
  • Birthday:
  • General physical description:
  • Hometown:
  • Type of home/ neighborhood:
  • Father’s name, background, and occupation:
  • Mother’s name, background, and occupation:
  • Brothers and sisters:
  • Position in family:
  • Other close relatives:
  • Family relationships:
  • Special friends:
  • Enemies:
  • Influential person or event:
  • Grade in school:
  • Attitude toward school:
  • Grades:
  • Favorite pastimes:
  • Hobbies (music/art/reading material):
  • Favorite sports:
  • Favorite foods:
  • Dress style:
  • Religion:
  • Attitude toward religion:
  • Relationship with boys:
  • Relationship with girls:
  • Leader or follower:
  • Strongest positive personality trait:
  • Strongest negative personality trait:
  • Sense of humor:
  • Temper:
  • Consideration for others:
  • How other people see him/her:
  • Opinion of him/herself:
  • Other traits, especially those to be brought out in story:
  • Ambitions:
  • Philosophy of life:
  • Most important thing to know about character:
  • Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?
Writing Character Profiles - Additional Questions
  • If your character has a job, is he or she good at it? Does he or she like it?
  • What are your character's bad habits?
  • If you asked about his or her greatest dream, what would your character tell you?
  • What's a secret dream that he or she wouldn't tell you about?
  • What kind of person does your character wish he or she could be? What is stopping him or her?
  • What is your character afraid of? What keeps him or her up at night?
  • What does your character think is his or her worst quality?
  • What do other people think your character's worst quality is?
  • What is a talent your character thinks he or she has but is very wrong about?
  • What did his or her childhood home look like?
  • Who was his or her first love?
  • What's the most terrible thing that ever happened to him/her?
  • What was his/her dream growing up? Did he/she achieve this dream? If so, in what ways was it not what the character expected? If your character never achieved the dream, why not?
  • In what situation would your character become violent?
  • In what situation would your character act heroic?