Memories of Connor's Adventures

Orlando the Adventurer pulled a Scimitar from beneath his Robes and smiled...

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Kick it to Warp: Advisor on Native American culture on Startrek Voyager a Fraud?

Frankly that doesnt diminish the Chakotay character. If we factor in Trek History then Chakotay is not of an existing native american tribe but a future one. In a post World War 3/eugenics wars setting Chakotay and his people build an identity that amalgamates the diverse cultures from which they are descended or claim descent.
Its not a factual identity because thats not what culture is. Culture is the lie we tell our children so they will not stray from the group. Just as Hitler and the Nazis created the Aryan culture, Chakotay's people would create an identity that allows them to isolate themselves from the multicultural blend of the federation and the culture of starfleet.
Imagine if that 'native american revivalist' faction leads the push to isolate earth from the Federation. It would be as bad as the earth first group from the enterprise series.

And then Chokotay discovering his native american symbology on an alien world in the Delta quadrant reveals that that native culture has alien influences anyway.

Chakotay (having discovered it was all a lie): "Nooooo!"

If you were looking for a darkness within Voyager and the Star Trek Universe it is there.


Friday, 24 February 2017

Dungeon Mastery: Cultural Bias in Language

First off lets start this with some reasoning: Ansu is protoindoeuropean for 'demon'. Why is this even relevent? When we refer to other others, we do so in a Them verses Us manor. Ansu or the -ans suffix is added to a word to demonize it.

How we see ourselves collectivly
Group A: Humans (so collective world government is out).

Group B: The People (Individuals as a group are in).

Group A: Germans, Russians, Arabians, Iranians, Asians, Palestinians, Egyptians, Lybians, Armenians, Americans, Canadians, Australians, Africans, Bulgarians, Hungarians, Croatians, Italians, Indonesians, Spartans, Romans, Persians, Barbarians, Huns, and Martians (in case you were wondering how the independence of your Martian colony will go).

Group B: Scottish, Irish, French, English, Spanish, Turkish, Chinese, Japanese, Israelies, Hittites, Gauls.

Group A: Christians (collectivly), Lutherans, Mormons (-ons a variation on -ans).

Group B: Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Buddists, Jews, Scientologists.

Food Animals
Group A: Chickens (-ens being a variation on -ans).

Group B: Pigs, Cattle, Fish.

Basically during the modern language development period humans have carved an 'Us' zone across europe and the middle east with the death-ray of language and its become how people regard 'the other'. They are not like Us.

D&D and the Mystaran Setting
Bigotry and Bias are destructive things so lets apply this microscope to D&D and the Mystaran setting.

For Dungeons & Dragons we have:
Group A: Humans (collectivly), Goblins (-ins a variation on -ans), Dragons.

Group B: Elves, Dwarves, Gnomes, Trolls, Orcs, Halflings, Kobolds.

I suppose we would see this as a shift in popularity way from dragons, humans, and goblins to 'other' more exotic creatures.

And for the Mystaran Setting we have National Identities. The majority of human National Identities fall into a group that we would consider 'Volcae' Descent.

Group A: Alphatians, Thyatians, Karamekians, Traladarans, Glantrians, Ochaleans, Darokinians, Minrothaddans, Wendarians (other elves).

Group B: Ylari, Sindi, Shire-folk, Ierendi. Rockhome Dwarves, Alfhiem Elves, Broken Landers.

Shock, Horror
So yes there is cultural bias - in D&D and in the Mystaran Setting. Even though this is rather inverted in what is Us and Them. In this case the cultural bias is still represented by a central group of humans with the monstrous and exotic pushed to the edges of the known world.

What can we do with/about this?
Use it and make it part of the Game. Imagine Dragons and Goblins being the only creatures in your human centric region (something that seems prevalent in the Grand Duchy with its Dragons, humans, and forest filled with goblins). If you are looking to create adventure material, try creating it in the 'monster' populated regions at the fringes.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Short fiction: The Secret of Fire

The Secret of Fire

It sits in the air. A fountain of light so pure the very blindness that poisons my sight vanishes. I see the flames. Out of the hole from which the brightness dances in the very air the strings that entangled the event horizon rise from the heart of the flower of life and death and back in to the hole they loop.
I want to wake my brother. He lies on the ground, sleeping or dead. I want him to see that which gives us warmth. That which ends us. That which burns like a signal for those searching for us. Why create a black hole in the minds of men if not to anihilate their capacity to understand? The limit where there is no limit. To set their past and future ablaze. To see where the secret of fire burns that they may be seen, for out in the darkness predators dwell. Hungry and savage and monstrous and they desire all that is. They desire the warmth of a fire not ignited by their own sacrifice. They desire kindling for a fire where only life burns. They desire so they will come.

The fountain of eternal youth. The fire that lights the cave forever. The inferno that burns back the world jungle until the world you knew is ash and stone and broken Bone and pillars of glass and steel created by others from the iron in your blood, the carbon in your flesh.
I know what it is the instant I lay eyes on it. A black hole. Its obviously man made. Three Polyhedrons, long shattered and open like coloured petals of a lotus lily floating at the edge of the fountain, pointing out into the universe. And I know somewhere in there, within the source of the fountain, are pieces of a puzzle, merging, ceasing, becoming other.

I contemplate walking away. The problem is I'm tired. If I go, the fire will sit alone and unattended, burning uncontrolled, and I may not even return. The diameter of a black hole increases the further you are from the moment of its singularity.
I regard the strings, thinking I might stretch them out and under and back into the black hole or play with them as a child with a cat's cradle. Inquisitiveness versus uncertainty. What secret do I know? What threat do I pose to the murderous and monstrous?
They want the secret of fire. Once they have it the victim can be blamed.

If I stayed with the fire would they tear down the crumbling house around me and build a ziggurat beneath me and the worst of them climb the steps to claim he alone is chosen by god with the secret of fire just to take it from me. Over and over they come for the secret of fire, climbing the steps of their pyramids looking to claim what is theirs by the divine right of vanity. The iron in every brick their victim. And the victim to be blamed as they climb that pyramid of corpses.
And where every pyramid is built a city of our future was created only to be gutted, and the victims blamed and the secret of fire claimed anew. Tearing down all and watching their victims build pyramids from their own blood and bone and climb the steps to claim the poisoned prize and all the while down there in the darkness of that cave, forgotton, the fire would provide light for eternity to the one tending it. The secret of fire would need tending forever.
 I will sit awhile, contemplating the nature of the flames. The fire that burns with light and not heat. The Inferno where the future burns.
Perhaps they will build their ziggurats on other worlds and climb the steps to claim the secret of fire as their own. Forever onward, upward, and outward until the fire deep down in that distant cave is long forgotten. Their humanity long ripped from their DNA having never existed, their future found huddled, extinct in a cave with its exit sealed where they dream by the fire.
Dream of kilometre long starships of a million tons accelerating from inside the planetary atmosphere from a hundred metres per second to a hundred thousand metres per second driven forward by the sound of the big bang, and gravity equals mass multiplied by acceleration so it sucks the very sea, and earth, and atmosphere from the world and the atmosphere rises from the planet like a spear of ice and mud to chase it across the vastness of the dark. And out there an infinity of sheltering fires about which huddles life.
Dream of great gates where ships create black holes to pull open space and time itself closing the distance between an infinity of gates seeded across the universe.
Dream of seeding the very stars that shelter life with crystals of darkmatter that the great fire cools and becomes a spawning ground for some genetically engineered star kraken as we extinguish life not of our own making.
Dream of rising to superposition where all life is the same life to become the god of life and death that the worst of us desire to be, climbing out of the fire that burns in front of me.

I can only wonder with curiosity.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Kill Bargle: Encumbrance and Saving Aleena

The Death of Aleena
You are confronted with the death of Aleena after your collective plan to murder Bargle without a trial goes horribly wrong, and try as you might, you fail to return her to town in time for a raise dead. This is because you took too long to get there. This is due to encumbrance.

Things you carry have an effect on your movement rate. Apart from the weight of a human body you were burdened by the weight of your armour and equipment and Aleena's armor. Forget all the equipment in your hands...because that suit of chainmail is heavy (40lb). The Warrior (your character) wears one and Aleena wears one. Thats eight hundred cnc of encumbrance right there. A human body also has weight. If we assume Aleena is five feet six she will weigh 1,600cn.

Encumbrance (cn) 400, 401-800, 801-1,200, 1,201-1,600, 1,601-2,400
Speed(ft/turn) 120', 90', 60', 30', 15'

That means carrying Aleena, her chainmail, and your chainmail is an encumbrance of 2,400cn. reducing you to fifteen feet per turn. Eliminating both chainmail reduces your encumbrance to 1,600cn. With a speed of thirty feet per turn.

Having stripped yourself and Aleena naked you make double time back to town and are able to get here there in time for a raise dead. The locals will be talking about that one for years to come...

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Short Fiction: Hero of the People

Hero of the People

Little more than human ghouls, they emerged from their nest on dark of night, moving silently through the alleys and over rooftops and walls, content to feed on the populace.

Zweis Radu watched the predators from the safety of his pleasure barge in Specularum Harbour, staring at the scrying mirror.
"Zweis," her whining voice drew him back from the darker entertainments he had discovered to ones that fed her needs. "I want more dates."
Zweis dropped a cloth over the mirror and turned his attention to his lover for the evening.
"What happened to the dates?" Esmarelda Tiza held the large empty bowl out before Zweis with a pout until he relented and tugged twice at the bell-pull summoning a servant. "Another bowl of Ylari dates."
Zweis watched the servant depart and snatched up a Candied fruit.
"While we wait on the dates," Zweis slid between her thighs intent on tasting her forbidden fruits. "Perhaps we can discuss what your Uncle Tiza is doing for the King these days."

The predator grabbed her from behind, dragging her back into the dark alley with a squeal of distress that ended with her throat ripped out, its teeth locking around her juglar and crushing and tearing until her distress became silence.
It dragged the food across its shouders and retreated further into the darkness.

Zweis Radu looked at his naked paramour and considered her prospects. She was Lord Valdo Tiza's neice. He could and would use her to loiter around her Uncle's office making herself increasingly useful to the old fellow and ply her with candied fruit, Ylari dates, and the more pleasant aspects of his personality. As to the darker aspects of his personality. His manly appendage hard, Zweis smiled and returned to his mirror of Scrying to search for the nest.

They took turns brutalizing the living and then fed apon the dead.

Zweis covered the mirror, and sampling the Shire Brandy, returned to bed. The one thing Zweis knew was he was not so far gone as to indulge in that kind of insanity. They did however pose a threat. And their destruction would be good for the Radu family name.

"Good morning my flower." Zweis smacked the pale buttock attatched to a naked body asleep on his bed leaving a hand print and eliciting a painful groan. "Time to go visit your Uncle Tiza and make yourself useful."
"But first," Zweis pulled the bell and a servant appeared. "Breakfast for two."
"One." It was Cartha. "Anton wants a word."

"Nothing?" The old man looked about his proginy until it became uncomfortable. "The Duke infiltrates the Veiled Society...and you have nothing."
"Perhaps if we took..." Anton cut Antonio Radu off. "Were you going to suggest that we could find the Duke's operative if we took the masks off?"
"This is the Veiled Society," Antonio looked down. "This is not a Masked Ball hosted by the fucking Torenescu!"
"Now..." Anton leaned back in his seat. "Rumor has it that last night the Iron Ring snatched half a handful of Traladarans from the Nest."
"Zweis!" Zweis Radu looked up. "I put you in charge of investigating the Iron Ring. Have you learned anything useful?"
"They were not taken by the Iron Ring," Zweis cleared his throat. "They were snatched by Ghouls."
 "Undead?" Cartha choked on the chicken he was eating. "In Specularum?"
"No...not undead," Zweis waved his hands in the air. " like animals and snatching people as food...or worse."
"Idiots like the Miller's boy we killed?" Zweis mouthed the word 'worse!' to Cartha. "Fuck me!"
"I've identified the nest." Anton nodded. "Its in the old cellars of the Blue Water Mead-hall."
"All right." Anton had decided. "We will buy up the Blue Water Mead-hall and eliminate the Problem."
"Actually," Zweis Radu stared at Cartha who was nodding in agreement with the old man. "I was thinking we should inform Minister Valdo Tiza that we tracked them to their nest."
"No," Anton crushed Zweis' plan to ingratiate himself with Minister Tiza. "You, Cartha, and Antonio will personally eliminate the nest."

"We go in through the front doors." Zweis watched Cartha force the doors with his boot while smiling at Antonio. "This is how real men do it."
"Now," Cartha stepped into the dark hall and pulled his sword. "Which of you has the torches?"
"<light>" Cartha's sword became a burning torch lighting the room. "Thats how smart men do it."
"Cartha," Zweis surveyed the web filled room as he struck up a fire and lit an actual torch. "Spider."
"Where?" Cartha drove his sword upward without even bothering to look and stabbed a giant spider in the web above him. "Oops."
"There is a door at the back." Zweis lifted his burning torch higher igniting the web before Cartha could move. No more spiders. "Alright we're clear."
"Previous meal?" Antonio kicked a pile of bones and rags revealing a leather bound book which he bent to pick up. "What have we here?"
"Examine it later Antonio," Zweis followed Cartha toward the back as Antonio stuffed his prize into his backpack. "We still have predators in the cellar to deal with."
"Stairs down!" Cartha examined the stone stairs. It was much older than the plaster walled Mead hall. "Interesting."
"Stay close with the torch Zweis." Cartha descended slowly taking his magical light with him." When this spell fails we will be in the dark."
"Cartha!" Cartha swung the sword through the man-sized creature that seemed to come from nowhere slicing it from groin to head with terrible efficiency. "Thats one."
 "Zweis," Cartha rolled the naked corpse revealing what had once been a man. "How many ghouls did you say there were?"
"About a Thyatian handful." Zweis had reached the bottom of the stairs. " five remaining."
"Antonio!" Antonio appeared at the top of the Stairs. "Stay close. This is going to get ugly real quick."
"Zweis!" Zweis turned to watch as two ghouls tackled Cartha, the large warrior impaling one on his sword only to be crushed under the weight as the second bit down on his ear. "My bloody ear!"
"I'm coming." Zweis Radu pulled his dagger and  drove the blade through the Ghoul's spine until it died. "Antonio!"
"Cartha," Zweis dragged the corpses off the warrior to reveal a man who had gone down hard. "Are you alive?"
"Yes," Cartha struggled to his feet and placed a rag against the wound. "My ear is killing me."
"Thats because this bastard..." Zweis pried the prize from between the ghoul's teeth and held it up to Cartha. "...had in his teeth."
"Is that your ear?" Antonio had caught up. "What in Halav's name happened?"
"Tell you later." Zweis listened. There was something ahead. "Are you ready for round three?"
"Lets get it done." Cartha entered the chamber to discover a pit of chewed-on corpses in the midst of which a pair of large ghouls were feeding. "Looks like this is it."
"Come and get some you bastards!" Cartha gripped his sword leaving an opening large enough to be filled by a ghoul.
"Come on!" Cartha smiled as the ghouls snarled like savage animals and rushed him, his sword dancing in the open chamber beheading both. "That it?"
"Another door." Zweis looked around. It had been an old temple. "Room's empty but there is a tunnel."
"Where does it go?" Zweis followed it. "Zweis?"
"I'm here." Zweis returned. "It exits into an alley way fifty feet up disguised as a postern."
"What now?" Antonio was feeling ill at the sight of corpses. Zweis looked at Cartha holding a cloth to his ear. "We visit Patriarch Alexi and get Cartha's ear healed."
"All right," Cartha slipped past Zweis and headed for the postern. "Lets see this alley of yours."

She lay curled against Zweis Radu, and placed another Ylari date in his mouth.
"Its all over the city," Zweis Radu chewed slowly pausing to kiss the small of her neck. "How Zweis and Cartha Radu put down a nest of Ghouls that had been preying on the populace."
"Uncle Tiza was shocked when they came into his office talking about it." She passed him another date. "My Zweis, a hero of the people."
"Hero of the people?" Zweis licked her neck. "Why...that's terrible."
"Everyone will expect me to marry." She looked at him as though he were about to propose. "They'll find me some well-to-do spinster from a fine rich family and I'll have to settle down and I'll never get to see you again."
"You could marry me." Zweis smiled at her suggestion. It could never happen. " Zweis...?"
"I'll think about it." Zweis searched the bowl for a date and found it empty. "Fetch some more dates will you my Lady Esmarelda Radu?"
"Lady Radu?" Esmarelda Tiza smiled as she got to her feet and walked naked out to the kitchen to fetch her lord his dates. "Lady Radu."
It was quick. The powerful muscles of the unseen ghoul grabbed her from behind snapping her neck as she retreaved a handful of dates for the bowl but they dropped from her hand, scattering across the floor. The monster slung her naked form over its shoulder and moved carefully out onto the deck of the Pleasure Barge.
"Lady Radu?" Cartha dropped her body over the side. "I think not."

Friday, 10 February 2017

Dungeon Mastery: That First Dungeon

You never forget your first...

Dungeon Mastery: A Barbarian for B/X Dungeons & Dragons

You are wondering where the saving throw and hit roll progression tables for this guy are. Just add two points to whatever save slots you like each level and use the fighter hit roll charts.
Yes I know he looks like Conan... Just go play him.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Rules Cyclopedia: Half-Elves

The Rules Cyclopedia doesnt include Half Elves but human cultures from across the world suggest they exist. Within Indonesian Peri refers to Faries and Elves as a fantasy racial group and Manusiaans are a human subgroup with whom they have interbred creating Peri-Manusiaans (Elf-Humans). And they are an Asian-Pacific culture.

To extract a half elf we look at the monster manual entry for normal humans and elves and find a half way point between the extreems. We can call this middle bground our interbreeding bell curve. That way while we offer an average half elf there will be some variation from the average.

The Peri-Manusiaans
As Half Elves they can Save like humans and choose a character class. Their better than human intelligence means they get a +1 on their base intelligence roll when generating a character so magic users will be the more frequent class. They are light brown skin coloured Tropical dwelling Islanders who live inland, coastally, or on the Ocean.

Rules Cyclopedia: Templates for variation on existing monsters

 They dont include monster templates in the Rules Cyclopedia but by comparing the normal form monster to the abnormal form we can get a creature template.
 Potential Variations include Animals (Dire, Giant) and Undead (Skeleton, Zombie).

 So applying these templates to a normal form allows us to get a considerable range of horrors.
The Minotaur (Dire, Giant, Skeleton, Zombie)
The Dire form is slightly larger (size x 1.5) while the Giant form is (size x 2).

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Short Fiction: The Well

Title: The Well

"You realize this war has cost us millions of daro in trade." Selm Boothby lowered the bucket over the edge of the Well. "Damn Diplomatic Corps. dropped the ball if you ask me."
"No one was asking Selm," Tobin of Hinmeet scratched his teeth with a twig and leaned over the edge and looked down. The water level was pretty low down. "Not in the entire population of Hendry was anyone asking your opinion about 'the War'".
"Of course it cost us a lot," Tobin watched the bucket rise. "but with the desert nomads in retreat we will rebuild."
"I hear that they think lies are holy." Selm Boothby shook his head as he lifted the bucket to the well edge. "How can we have anything in common with that kind of dirt loving, nut-butter crazy?"
"I don't know," Tobin climbed up on the edge of the Well and adjusted his buttocks until he felt comfortable seated on the edge. "Maybe hold an annual lying competition and invite them to tea?"
"Hold a lying competition and invite..." Selm shook his head as he poured the cold water into the copper kettle. "Damn crazy halfling."
"That is officially the craziest idea to come out of your mouth." Selm clamped the lid down on the kettle and handed the empty bucket to Tobin. "You know what?"
"No," Tobin laughed into the bucket. "What?"
"I am going to write my brother in the diplomatic corp. and tell him that one." Selm picked up the kettle and walked over to Tobin. "Lets see how much of a laugh you get then."

The sky lit as though the world had suddenly fallen into the Sun now burning just north of Darokin, the heat igniting the air in Selm's lungs as he knocked the burning Tobin backwards into the Well with the only hand not fusing to the instantly superheated copper kettle erupting steam.
The water came as a slight relief the moment Tobin hit it but the feeling of relief didnt last long. The water raised in temperature quickly. Tobin reached a hand above the surface of the water only to feel the sensation of having plunged his hand into a smithy's forge looking to snatch a red hot sword. He pulled it below the water but he could feel it.
Tobin considered his situation. He needed air but the air would kill him with his first breath.
The part of the bucket above water was burning so Tobin pulled it under extinguishing the fire. He then forced the bucket above the surface and scooped air pulling it again below the water. The superheated air took a while to cool even as Tobin splashed water up into the air pocket turning it to steam. Only when the steam stopped forming did Tobin chance to take a deep breath. The warm air felt uncomfortable as he breathed in and held his breath. There would be no telling how long it would be before the air could be breathed or before help would come.
Tobin relented and breathed out allowing the bubbles to surface before he again sampled his private supply of bucket air. Tobin allowed the bucket to surface and scoop more air before dragging it below the surface and again splashing it with water.
Selm. Tobin thought of his friend. Selm had either saved him from certain death or condemned him to a slow and painful one.
As Tobin took a breath of Air from his supply the wall of the Well shook and did so for a while. Whatever was happening to the world above was still going on.
A stone brick loosed from the top of the Well and dropped down into the water landing on Tobin's bucket instantly pushing it against him and squeezing the air from his belly as it descended toward the Well bottom halfling first.
This was it. Tobin surrendered to death.

"An interesting result Sylistryi," Maybe he had been hasty. Tobin took a breath. "And he's Alive."
"'m live?" Laughter. It sounded oddly elvish. " are among living." Tobin laughed until he thought of Selm.
"The sky was bright and the air caught fire," Tobin cried and wiped at the tears. "Selm pushed me down the Well."
"Did anyone else make it?" Tobin opened his eyes to find an oddly pale and smiling elf leaning over him and another elf standing behind her with a look of concern. "Are you elfs?"
"Are we elves?" The elf burst into laughter and shook her head waking away revealing a large cave. "Are we elves!"
"Yes," The stern looking elf was speaking while the other rummaged through packs and pulled out an elf sized robe identical to the ones they were wearing. "We are elves."
"They might be too big." Tobin noticed his hand and arm were like the elves but before he could say anything the nearest elf took his hand and pulled him to his feet.
"Thanks to Sylistryi's magic," Tobin was now as tall as the elf. "We are all elves."