Thursday, April 25, 2019

Steal This Idea: Run The Olympics

We’ve all had nights where we the plot has cooled and you’re looking for something to stretch time or give XP until the party is ready to fight the Next Boss or Dungeon. 

Or maybe you’re flying by the seat of your pants and you don’t know where to go next. They’re coming over in two or three hours and you gotta brainstorm up something quick!

So steal this Idea: Run The Olympics.

At its core the premise is simple, some skill or ability challenges that more physical characters (like fighters and barbarians) should excel at, with the odd bout presented as combat (like wrestling). I’m sure thieves and rogues will also appreciate archery, as well as discuss toss or another sport that could be more dexterity based. 

You could also run like, a magical variant, with chess or such. Or stranger still, magical sports with rules the equivalent of cricket mixed with curling that involves algebra. 

It’s also an apt opportunity to add some intrigue to your game. The party has to kidnap a famed reclusive mobster, but they’re only available in the crowded coliseum, during the height of the track event. One of the players is participating, and another nation accuses them of cheating. Who planted the paraphernalia or magical item in their locker? Better yet, does the party keep the item? 

Winning a medal is always nice, and characters can wear it for like, a +2 bonus to social clout with fans of that sport, or maybe intimidation (if it’s wrestling or javelin toss, maybe shot put, boxing). 

What happens when a manticore or chimera lands during the pole-vault? What happens when said malicious creature doesn’t want to feast upon the crowd, but just watch the games for entertainment? What happens when a contingent from the Undead Army of The Doom Wastes shows up, and demands the right to participate as sovereign citizens of their fallen Empire Beneath the Sands? Why are doppelgängers replacing top athletes? Is lycanthropy cheating? 

You could take this a step further and do the gladiator thing, twist of Spartacus. A whole dungeon could be made for the entertainment of some wealthy extra-planar entity, the demons watching two teams of adventurers race rat-like through symmetrical dungeon labyrinths with challenges and adventures. Those who win, live and keep the treasures they’ve earned. Those who lose... well, the monsters in the maze have to come from somewhere, right?

Friday, April 19, 2019

Languages Part Two

My friend Oliver at Graven Utterance was kind enough to give me a call back on their blog as well as shed some Linguistic Wisdom on me. If you haven’t yet, I really do recommend visiting their website and reading it, as both their depth and breadth of knowledge exceeds mine. I was especially happy with their much more positive outlooks on Common as a trade-language and lasting stamp of multicultural unity and strength. 

The following is a list of languages I started writing even before my last post, and is by no means complete. I’ve broken my own rules here (note that I have elf languages, yuck), but also some fun ones, including one contagious one. You can probably tell I googled “magic languages” at least once while working on these. I may revisit some later, as I’m operating on very little sleep currently.

Fantastic Languages:

Oneiric: Which is the language used in dreams. Anyone asleep speaks oneiric, so long as they are asleep and dreaming. It is also the language of the Fey.

Spore: Language that Myconids naturally speak. People can learn Spore via contracting it as “psychic lichenification” of the skin. If someone takes over 20 damage from fire, or receives “Cure Disease”, they forget how to speak Spore until it is recontracted.

Gorgonite: The common language of monsters, a kind of Lingua-Franca that grew to include terms useful for defending against intrepid explorers and adventurers. Most non-extraplanar monsters (and a few crafty adventurers) speak some Gorgonite.

Thieves’ Cant: An odd mix of slang, codified phrases, and a smattering of Dungeon Hobo only recognized by those who frequently find themselves either on the wrong side of the law or the right place at the right time. 

High-Lyric: language of the oldest elves, largely considered a dead language except in elven spell-casting, or major religious holidays. Shares some phonetic similarities with Oneiric, but elves don’t sleep, so how would they know?

New-Lyric: Modern, in-vogue constructed language of the younger elves. Has a frustrating focus on politeness, cleanliness, beauty, and euphemisms and metaphors to keep it that way. 

Thrush: Language of the Birds, occasionally known but never spoken aloud by witches and sorcerers, for to do so is a sin against the Queen of Aeries and the Hawklord, thus making you an enemy of all birds forever.

Zaumlang: Written language used to transcribe the six-tongue sounds wizards must make in order to cast their spells. It is a necessity to read or write state-sanctioned magic.  

Far-flung: Language of Eldritch things and alien abominations from beyond the stars. May be several languages, or psychically enhanced.

Lethe: Language of the tormented dead. Ghosts and other miserably damned forget their old languages and only speak Lethe.

Ephemeral Dictum: The language used to speak with spirits, especially familiars. Has no written form.

Regional Languages:

Aurelian: Language predominantly spoken within the kingdom of Aurelia. As Aurelia was founded relatively recently, the language is still referred to as “Yswil” sometimes. Guaranteed to be one language amongst players in my homebrew world. 

Gotherese: Language used within the broken Empire of Gotheria, especially among those loyal to or old-soldiers of their exiled Empress. A common belief is that she will live so long as it is spoken. 

Vellish: Language used by the people of Vell, a pidgin language consisting of Old Vell, Dorgen (Which was consumed by Vellish), and Vaeresian. Has a costal dialect that abandons the Old Vellish grammar in favor of Dorgenian.

Rusal: Language of the northern Rusalkin, common among cold-water sailors and explorers. Rumored to have been magically stolen somehow from other beings.

Vaeresian: Language common among the Vaerese Penninsula, written in top to bottom, left to right.  

Yurthic: Language common among taiga dairy farmers and steppe nations, has no unified written form, but a strong oral tradition. The introduction of the printing press has seen several communities adopt other alphabets or invent their own.

Reggrimi: Language family of the Reggrim Forest dwellers consisting of a familial language, a language for use in public, and one for hunting.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Pavism: The Religion of Roads

“It came to pass” was the first phrase uttered by Darius Unmuted. He said this at a cart with a broken wheel as the remnants of his town moved from their ruined hovels towards their neighbors.

He stopped, and fixed the wagon.

That night he slept under the stars for the first time, and attained true wisdom. The next morning he sold his belongings, and bought a shovel, and began to work.

Six hundred years later, and Pavism is now a major religion, one with adherents throughout working professions, that is especially popular with the mercantile class.

In no small part to Darius Unmuted’s teachings and the nature of the faith itself, Pavism is common throughout the world and is generally welcomed by authority groups and governments. And who wouldn’t: an entire faith and lifestyle dedicated to roads and travelers?

Although the tenets of their faith remain the same, within Pavism there are two major sects: Laborists and Wanderists. The predominate difference being how they interpret Darius’s teachings, and the individual actions they undertake to live out the nature of the religion.

Laborists are the oldest sect, and live the tenet of “Existence is Work” directly, giving the faith it’s name. Where they go, roads are built, paths are carved, and the way is paved. At least physically if not spiritually. It is here that the heart of the faith can still be found, and wisdom gleaned from the creeping camps’ priests as they speak in koans of sweat and moil.

Wanderists take a much different approach, instead prioritizing the tenet “Connection is about the Path, not The Destination.” Like their Laborist brethren, they too are perpetual nomads, but at a much more accelerated rate. Not all Wanderists are militant, but many do become guardians of those who travel with them, monks on a perpetual pilgrimage to The Horizon, or knights forever errant. Others become roving hostels and inns, setting up camp and leaving spare beds for those in need every few days.

Pavism’s core tenets are simple, but with open room to interpretation, which has led to the divide between its sects.

  • Existence is to Work.
  • We Work to find Connection
  • Connection can be but a Moment, or a Lifetime
  • Connection is about The Path, not the Destination
  • Where you go, Work towards Connection

Pavists insist that practice of daily manual labor, travel, mindfulness, and connection with different peoples and cultures can and will eventually free all peoples of suffering, but Work will always remain, as we are designed for such.

* * *

So, this post was inspired by a few things in particular. Number one being a dream I had, and the second most pertinent being that in most fantasy worlds, the “traveler” religion is invariably a cut-paste-rename of Odin the wanderer, and I didn’t want that. Hence instead we have blue-collar zen-construction workers-errant who are obsessed with roads.I'm also just generally keen on the idea of my fantasy world having religions that are fantastic themselves to what we know: de-centralized religions, or religions without gods, or ones who's gods currently walk the earth for whatever reason. It's not perfect, nor is it fully fleshed out, but it'll work for now.

Work has had me slammed the past week or so, but I'll be back to writing regularly this week.