Friday, October 21, 2016

The Fish from "Earth Departure"

I don't know what "Earth Departure" is, but credit where credit is due.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Ching Shih, the pirate queen of China

To be honest, I have nothing to add to the original article.  I just think it's pretty cool.

Ching Shih, the pirate queen of China

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Julie Has Two Mice

These are not they, but maybe they are in her dreams.

Monday, October 10, 2016

I'm Done

My recent hard drive loss has just taken the wind out of me.  Maybe I'll come back at some point.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Post Name: It was late and I was tired

This one's called "inktober 7" and it's by allocen.

Friday, October 7, 2016


I don't have any good idea for a big, unified post today so allow me to give you a few little snips of ideas.

1:  A Tidal Rush: A land where a Mighty river flows through the jungle. Once every three years the sun and moons align and create a "negative tide". A tidal surge flows some 200 miles upriver, wrecking the boats and homes of the unwary with unearthly riptides. Gnomes surf these waves for fun.

2: Mermen:  Are mermen just Men who have naturally selected to dive comfortably to 300 feet and stay underwater for six or more minutes? They would be small, brown and sun-baked, and nearly naked despite being quite modern and sophisticated.

Maybe instead they are elves

3: Alternate Orcish:  Orcs are like the Neanderthal. Just as smart, 2HD but inferior weaponry - they were terrible shots and couldn't make good bows. Men with superior technology subsumed and interbred with these original men, and so half-orcs now live.  What advantage did Men have over the Orcish? Community. Because we had symbolic artifacts like religious figurines and bone flutes, our culture made it possible to work together and share labor in a new and efficient way.

1- religion and culture
2- division of labor
3- more extensive political groupings
4- superior technology

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Dwellings of the Several Races

I found this swell painting on DeviantArt tonight by CorinneRoberts:

How happy and whimsical!  And Orcish!

My orcish don't actually build castles or immobile dwellings of any kinds, actually.  But this picture speaks to me.

What kids of different dwellings, military or otherwise, do your orcish and other normal-types build?

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Sheet Music as Magic Language

There's a lot said for "magic words" in literature and in D&D games.  A lot of magic guys need to say their magic words, like "a la peanut butter sandwiches" or whatever and then wave their hands and make the spell pop out.  What does magical writing look like in your game?

My daughter is learning to play the clarinet (her third instrument- bragging now) so we have a lot of sheet music around the house.  It looks, frankly, arcane. Even though I can sight read it still looks funny.

It made me think about spells and verbal and somatic components.  When she plays the clarinet, there are complicated fingerings of the buttons to make the basic sounds. She also needs to control the breath both in volume and quality to produce the right tone.  It's a lot like how they describe casting magical spells.

I betcha some spells require the materical component of a little whistle or like a recorder to blow into with valve or holes to press down just so to make the right sounds that the spells like to hear.  And other wizards may then be able to identify the spell by the sounds.

Like modern singers doing the American National Anthem (the trend hasn't seemed to creep into other anthems yet), there are lots of personal flares different wizards would use to personalize the spell- but the notes would all be the same, and recognizable.

Illusion spells would sound jazzy.  Direct damage spells would sound like Wagner.  Spells to make holes in the wall or otherwise move things around would sound like The Sorcerer's Apprentice from Fantasia or maybe use the piccolo.  All Cleric spells would sound like Benedictine chants.  Maybe with bells or a concertina as accompaniment?

What do you think of this description?  Can you think of other spells which would have their own characteristic sounds?

Saturday, October 1, 2016

D&D And the Black Plague

D&D is a post-apocalyptic game.  Someone was around in the past with more wealth than we have now.  Otherwise that wealth wouldn’t be there to be found in the dungeon.  And for that matter, there wouldn’t be all these dungeons around if someone in the past did not dig them all. The process of excavating and treasure hunting is one of reclamation of the past.  So there, we may say that the pseudo-medieval setting D&D is different from the real world setting.

But we would be wrong to say that.  Because the real Medieval world was one of apocalypse and post-apocalypse as well.  The apocalypse we really had back then was the black plague of 1347-1349.

During those gaunt years, our best guess is that about 1/3 of the population just suddenly died.  That is by any reckoning an apocalypse! Imagine that one out of every three of your family members died in two years, or your friends.  It is unthinkable, and yet it happened to Europe in those plague years.

There were a number of effects germinated from seeds sown by the plague. 

Economics: Economically, the labor supply contracted by the largest amount ever seen on a macro scale.  Each worker immediately gained 50% more bargaining power, and with it, greater income.  Industries which were previously sated by excess manual labor turned to technology to pick up the difference (as well as raising wages by quite a bit).  For instance, mills devised wind power and water power solutions, while illuminated manuscripts were replaced by Gutenberg’s wondrous printing press.  Among those who play gnomes and sometimes dwarfs: does this sound familiar to you D&D players?

Now that there were many, many fewer people, there were fewer avenues for trade.  Merchants simply did not come around as often, and the people who remained in place at the manorial level operated mainly on barter.  Therefore, there were a great deal of coins whose value simply collapsed.  People knew what the value of their money was, but there was no market for it.  Therefore, much of it was hidden away in holes in the walls or buried in the ground somewhere safe.  Does this sound familiar to D&D players?

Military Power: Now there were fewer people to be policed as well.  That meant that men-at-arms who had previously been employed by sovereigns were now unemployed bandits and brigands.  They were not going to go back to peasantry, but instead became reavers on the countryside, committing acts of terror to force settlements to pay up or else.  Does this sound familiar to D&D players?

Disease Vectors and Demographics: Those communities which were isolated from trade and from other nearby settlements fared the best simply because they were not exposed to as many plague vectors as more-connected towns were.  That means that these isolated hamlets were left intact in disproportionate numbers.  There were tiny villages here and there, perhaps completely isolated from one another or relying on one central power such as a baron’s castle for trade and defense.  Larger towns were hit harder and therefore there were fewer of them remaining.  Numerous isolated small villages: Does this sound familiar to D&D players?

Spiritualism:  There was a spiritual overhaul that went along with the plague.  Death was everywhere.  Everyone knew many people who had died because of it.  The psychological toll on the survivors was unthinkable, and it reflected in the art work of the day in the theme of danse macabre.  The danse macabre, or dance of death, showed living people traumatized by embodiments of death- most commonly, undead skeletons come to molest and harass the living.  These skeletons represented a kind of living death, for they did not lie still in the ground but did the same things that the living enemies of Men would do.  That which is reflected in the paintings must have seemed real based on the recent experience of the multitudes.  And against such an inhuman and unholy power, the only ones who could really stem the tide were the clergy, at the right hand of God.  Does this sound familiar to D&D players?

Now the black death wasn’t the only apocalyptic event visited on Medieval Europe.  The Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), fought between Protestant countries and Catholic over control of Christendom, was almost as devastating in terms of sheer horror and loss of life.  This could also be a kind of apocalypse for those of us who like to play a little later on, with full plate armor and gunpowder firearms.  But the effect on the people is the same, and will certainly lead to the same kinds of results (especially those under the header of Military Power).