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Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Halloween Trick

BEGIN TELEPHONE TRANSCRIPT: 10/31/2010  0053 HRS


Unidentified Male #1: Hello?

Unidentified Male #2: Fuck you, Nick! Fuck you!

Nick: What? What'd I do? Who is this?

Unidentified Male #2: You know what you did, you sick fuck! God, I hate you so much right now!

Nick: Matt? Is that you?

Unidentified Male #2: Who else would it be?

Nick: Um, honestly, I didn't expect anyone to be calling me after midnight, so when my cell rang I thought it was my family calling with some bad news. So why're you freaking out, dude?

Matt: Don't pretend you don't know.

Nick: Humor me for a moment.

Matt: [subject audibly sighs] Fine. You emailed me a link to that fucking Maze Game, and at the end of the third level that Exorcist chick popped up and screamed at me. You know I scare easily, Nick! That is so not cool! I thought we were better friends than this! I deserve better!

[pause of several seconds]

Nick: Matt... I didn't send you a link.

Matt: Bullshit!

Nick: Hand to God, dude. Listen to my voice. Am I laughing? No. Would I be laughing if I sent a "scare the shit outta Matt" link and you called me all freaking out? Yes.

Matt: Uh...

Nick: Yup.

Matt: But why did it have your email address? Did you get a virus? Might be time to run a malware scan.

Nick: Hey Matt?

Matt: Yeah?

Nick: I wanna ask you a really strange question.

Matt: Um, okay...

Nick: Is there a part of your body that feels cold right now? Or are you just like hot with adrenaline?

Matt: Oh, um, I'm still shaking from the scare. And I'm covered in cold sweat.

Nick: That's all?

Matt: Well, the back of my neck is really cold and the hair is tingling...

Nick: [voice is firm, almost to the point of shouting] MATT.

Matt: What?

Nick: Okay, I need you to listen to me right now and most importantly, do not freak out on me.

Matt: Um, yeah, saying things like that really doesn't make me any calmer...

Nick: I need you to promise me that whatever happens, you will not turn around.

Matt: What?

Nick: Don't turn around. Just don't. Don't move your head. Keep facing forwards.

Matt: [in a weak voice] Why?

Nick: Do you have that really weird feeling that someone is standing behind you, looking at your neck?

Matt: If I didn't before, I sure as hell do now...

Nick: MATT! DON'T TURN AROUND!

Matt: Okay, okay. What's going on, Nick?

Nick: What you sense behind you is what sent you that email.

Matt: [unintelligible whimpering]

Nick: Urban legend says that there are fear demons out there who send you links to games or YouTube videos that scare you. They feed off of that fear. And the more scared you get, the more powerful they become.

Matt: [unintelligible whimpering]

Nick: If you hadn't been such a wuss, all that would have happened was that you'd jump a bit, the fear demon would get a bite, and move on. But you freaked out so much it's like Thanksgiving over there.

Matt: [unintelligible whimpering]

Nick: If you turned around now and saw it, you'd probably have a heart attack from sheer terror. So don't turn around.

Matt: [weakly] What do I do?

Nick: It's easy. Are you in your bedroom?

Matt: Yes.

Nick: Okay. Remember when you were little and scared of monsters, you'd hide under the covers and feel safer?

Matt: Yeah.

Nick: That's what I want you to do now. Slowly, without turning your head, get up and walk over to your bed. Take off your shoes and cover yourself with your blanket.

Matt: What about brushing my teeth?

Nick: Dude, do you really want to look in the mirror right now?

Matt: Point. Um, should I take my clothes off?

Nick: Dealer's choice. If you do, though, do it quickly. Being naked around this thing will only make you more scared and it stronger.

Matt: [rustling sounds] I'm getting in the bed now. Gonna take my clothes off under the covers.

Nick: Good idea. Now for the tough part: turn off the light.

Matt: Oh god.

Nick: Matt, you have to turn the light off, otherwise you'll never get any sleep and it'll feed off of you all night.

Matt: But... I'm so scared...

Nick: You can do it. Just stick your hand out and turn off the lamp. It'll be okay.

Matt: [more whimpering, then a sigh of relief] Okay.

Nick: It didn't grab your hand, did it?

Matt: NOT COOL, DUDE!

Nick: Hahahah. Sorry. So, you all snuggy-tight in your blankets?

Matt: Yeah. Now what?

Nick: Now you hang up and try to get some sleep.

Matt: How?

Nick: Beats me. But that's the only way to win.

Matt: Okay. Thanks, Nick. Appreciate it.

Nick: Hey Matt, before you go to sleep...

Matt: Yeah?

Nick: Do me a favor and look at your phone.

Matt: [shuffling noises suggest phone is pulled away from face. Screams follow] OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD IT DIDN'T DIAL OH GOD OH GOD

Nick: I'm your Fear of the Dark, Matt. Thank you for turning off the lights and covering your head. I'm in here with you, now. Sweet dreams....

[phone disconnects]


END TRANSCRIPT


(This story is dedicated to a certain someone on the west coast. You know who you are.)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Please buy my stuff

 LPJ Design's UndeFEATable #21: the Cavalier has officially gone on sale at RPGNow.com. For the low, low price of $1.25 -- what you'd spend on a soda & a candy bar -- you get 15 feats and 2 Cavalier orders, all painstakingly hand-crafted with care and precision by your local lurking goth gamer girl. These feats will last you much longer than a snack ever will, and are undoubtedly healthier. In addition, each time you purchase, I get some money and am one step closer to becoming a successful writer.

Thank you!   :D

WNW: that giant f'ing Q

I have been sick since Tuesday night. As such, I have a hot date tonight with a bottle of NyQuil.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Oh, for a muse of fire...



Tonight, for all intents and purposes, my project (which I teasingly hinted at on the 12th) is finished. I've seen the proofs, made some final corrections, and now it's just a matter of waiting until the weekend for it to be officially released.

But today is Saint Crispin's Day (and oh, how I wish I had saved last Monday's video for today), and I really do feel like I have achieved a rather monumental victory here, because while this isn't my first professional writing credit, it is the first to actually (and proudly!) bear my name. It was also very difficult to write, because it was mostly crunchy rules stuff and I freely admit I'm more of an idea person than a rules lawyer.

Still, I have to say this project turned out pretty damn nifty, if I do say so myself, and I have to give a large portion of credit to my friends who listened to me whine, let me bounce ideas off of them, and in more than one occasion came up with a brilliant solution which I shamelessly stole before brazenly passing it off as my own idea.

So I would like officially thank, with great proclamation and splendour, those allies who helped me in my hour of need:  Patrick W., Mxyzplk, Shawn Sage, and -=horsefly=-. Huzzah to you, good sirs! Huzzah! HUZZAH!

That's all very well and good, Erin, but when are you going to tell us what this product is, precisely?

Ah, yes. Sorry about that. My project, as many of you correctly deduced, was a collection of Cavalier feats for Louis Porter Jr. Design's UndeFEATable line. This was harder than it sounds, because not only do I feel I am weak in the mechanics department, but also because the first time I read the cavalier class I was underwhelmed. "Big whoop," I thought to myself, "it's basically another beatstick with a taunt ability and some mild group buffs." This is not the kind of attitude one wants to have when one is writing specifically FOR the cavalier.

So as I saw it, my first job was to make the cavvy awesome and interesting, and the mechanics would naturally flow form there. I was fortunate in that history and literature and folklore are chock-full of examples of knights, and I gleefully mined them for inspiration. This gave rise to the Knightly Feats, which allow you to emulate various types of knights (some from literature, some from the tarot) by expending uses of your Challenge ability to fuel other powers. Want to be a treacherous, bullying black knight? Take Knight of Swords. If instead you'd rather be more dashing and flamboyant in the tradition of Dumas, Knight of Wands is probably more your speed. And if you really want to imitate the Green Knight of Arthurian legend, well, we can accommodate you there as well.

Then there are the fun concept ideas, like Sheriff or Quixotic. (Consult your GM before taking these.) There are the obligatory "engage ass-kicking mode" feats like Vendetta and Crusade. And of course there are the utility powers that nearly everyone wanted during the playtest, like Extra Challenge and Improved Mount.

But the best part for me was writing the two new Orders. After I re-read the cavalier entry in the Advanced Player's Guide, I realized that it was missing a critical concept: that of the knight-errant. I split this concept into two distinct groups: those who quested after something (like the Grail knight), and those who swore to defend a specific thing (like the Hospitallers, or the archetypal Knight Who Bars the Way.) These became the Order of the Wolf and the Order of the Citadel, respectively.

I am very, very proud of this achievement, and here upon Saint Crispin's Day, I ask you to join me in my victory.

(And buy the PDF when it comes out. It'll be cheap and I get a chunk of the proceeds!)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Some inspiration

Another hint on what I'm working on... I'm watching this video quite a bit for inspiration.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wednesday Night Monster

This is making the rounds on teh intarwebz, but in case you haven't seen it, this is the last word in Old Spice parodies:





Moo.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Hard Day's Knight

I don't wish to Cavalierly toy with your feelings, so I thought I would tell you that posts may be a little late (or non-existent) because I am currently writing 2.5k words for a game designer as a kind of audition for freelance employment. It may take me all week, but when I am finished Porting to Louisville, it shall be a Feat most remarkable.

I cannot say more at this time, but if you look for clues, I am certain you shall Find your Path.

;D

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A brief meditation on fantasy economics

Note: I am SO not an economist. I don't even claim to be good at math. Therefore, this is not a serious discussion of fantasy economic viability vis-à-vis reality.

If you've played fantasy RPGs for any length of time, you have certainly collected a fair amount of gold coins. Gold is the coin of the adventurer's realm, as it were, with silver relegated to being pocket change and copper worthy only of a sniff of condescension. I want to a little bit of mental re-alignment here to show how skewed that mindset it.

Peruse the equipment lists of your preferred fantasy RPG. Ignoring specific numbers and certain oddball outliers (flint & steel, I'm looking at you), we begin to notice certain trends:
  • Subsistence-level items, like a loaf of bread or a mug of ale, cost copper pieces. 
  • Sustainment-level items, like tools, basic clothing, and nightly shelter cost silver pieces. 
  • Things which cost gold pieces are either truly expensive tools or luxury items (and if you're a peasant, a sword or a suit of armor is a luxury)
So let's do a bit of role-playing and put ourselves into a magical medieval society.  Since we are all reading this essay on a computer, it's reasonable to assume you have a regular supply of food, shelter, education, and entertainment. That immediately puts you well ahead of 90% of the fantasy populace, who eke out a living in what we would consider to be third-world conditions. They aren't illiterate because they're stupid; they're illiterate because they are too busy herding or farming or otherwise keeping their family fed to have time to study books, and when they get home in the evening they are too exhausted to do much of anything except eat their dinner and go to bed. They aren't dirty because they're slobs, they're dirty because they toil at jobs which make them filthy on a regular basis, and water is too precious to be wasted on daily bathing when they're just going to get dirty tomorrow.

For these people, copper is the only kind of money they use on a daily basis. They may occasionally see a silver if they have a particularly lucrative business (like a smithy) or if they sell livestock. They have never even seen a gold piece, much less touched one, and if you gave them one it would likely be more money than their family has ever had before. You, however, would be closer to a well-off merchant: you see silver all the time, occasionally some gold, and maybe once in your life you've seen a platinum piece.

Now let's apply this to the real world. A copper piece is worth roughly a dollar. We buy (cheap) meals for $5 - $10 all the time, and think nothing of it. It's disposable money to us, but to the lower classes -- those below the poverty line, on welfare and food stamps -- a dollar can make the difference between eating and going hungry.

Silver pieces aren't quite worth twenty dollars, but the $20 is so ubiquitous (as a result of ATMs) that it suits our purposes. This is where we, the middle class, spend most of our wealth: clothes, entertainment, quality food, entertainment, and either fuel for our cars or bus/train/cab fare. These things cost tens, but not hundreds, and while we may buy a lot of them we typically don't spend this money frivolously. A twenty, to us, is like a one or a five to a panhandler -- a basic unit of currency worth getting out of bed for.

Gold is for things which cost hundreds. Now it's important to note that in fantasy games, society does not yet have advanced metallurgical techniques and super-efficient assembly lines, so prices are often what we could consider exorbitant for consumer goods because of the cost of the raw materials and the time spent crafting them. But skip the Goods & Services table and look at the prices for armor and weapons. My father bought a handgun last week, and I came along because I think guns are neat. I did a lot of looking and window shopping while he picked out his gun, and I came to this conclusion:

Expect to pay $300 - $500, baseline, for a gun. It doesn't matter if it's a rifle, a shotgun, or a pistol, they simply don't go lower than $300 unless you buy used -- at which point you have to wonder if you're getting a discount because of a downward quality adjustment. The really, really good items, like a Desert Eagle .50 or a tricked-out AR-15 with a scope and a laser and a forward grip and all the other bells & whistles, can run over $1000. These would be roughly equivalent to a masterwork weapon.

And then there's this beast, which might be considered a +1 BFG of Ass-Whupping. Puts the price of a magic sword into perspective, doesn't it?

So in conclusion: fantasy games should run on the silver standard, not gold. The fact that adventures don't get out of bed for anything less than gold should serve as yet another indication that they are not, in fact, normal people, and their attitudes and goals are extraordinary rather than baseline. 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pellatarrum: Energy Channeling

I had originally intended to include this with yesterday's posts about priests but I was a goof and forgot. Once again. here be crunchy mechanics. I apologize if this is a bit brusque, but I have been struggling with this all day and have decided I was over-explaining things. So I'm going to jump right in and see if folks pick up on it immediately, and attempt an explanation if they don't.




Energy Channeling vs. Elemental Disorders

Individuals suffering from Despondence are vulnerable to Turning and Commanding by clerics with the Turn Undead and Command Undead feats, respectively. Suffering from Despondence does not automatically make the sufferer undead, however, and does not make them vulnerable to any other effects which specifically target undead, unless they already possessed the subtype.

Similarly, those suffering from Mania are vulnerable to Turning by those with Command Undead, and Command by those with Turn Undead.

Priests with the Elemental Channel feat and either Turn Undead or Command Undead may also effect those people whose elemental disorder matches the subtype (air, earth, fire, water) named when the feat was chosen.


Hopefully this is clear. I hate trying to express a concept in exacting rules-legalese.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pellatarrum: Priests

While I have tried to avoid crunchy mechanics as much as possible so as to make this setting accessible to the widest number of players, the fact remains that I am a player of Pathfinder/D&D 3.5 and sometimes talking about mechanics is unavoidable. I am confident that those of you who do not use these systems will be able to make all the necessary conversions (or ignore the whole thing as appropriate).


Clerics
At character creation, Cleric PCs must choose a priesthood to join: the Church of the Light or the Cult of the Dark. This choice affects their starting alignments and domains.

Church of the Light clerics:
  • must be within 1 step of Neutral Good; however, Lawful Neutral is also permissible.
  • always channel positive energy.
  • receive their spells at dawn.
  • have access to the following domains: Air, Animal, Community, Earth, Fire, Glory, Good, Healing, Plant, Protection, Repose, Sun, Water, and Weather. Paladins who have cleric levels also have access to the Law domain. Specific races have access to other domains (detailed later).
  • have access to the following subdomains from the Advanced Player's Guide: Cloud, Day, Defense, Family, Feather, Fur, Growth, Heroism, Home, Honor, Ice, Inevitable, Light, Metal, Oceans, Purity, Restoration, Resurrection, Seasons, Souls, Storms, Wind.

Cult of the Dark clerics:
  • must be within 1 step of Neutral Evil; however, Chaotic Neutral is also permissible.
  • always channel negative energy.
  • receive their spells at dusk.
  • have access to the following domains: Air, Charm, Darkness, Death, Destruction, Earth, Evil, Fire, Luck, Madness, Trickery, War, Water, and Weather. Anti-paladins who have cleric levels also have access to the Chaos domain. Specific races have access to other domains (detailed later).
  • have access to the following subdomains from the Advanced Player's Guide: Ash, Blood, Catastrophe, Cloud, Curse, Deception, Fate, Ferocity, Ice, Insanity, Loss, Lust, Metal, Murder, Night, Nightmare, Rage, Smoke, Storms, Thievery, Undead, Wind.

Racial Domains:
  • Dragons gain access to the Knowledge domain and the subdomains of Memory and Thought.
  • Dwarves gain access to the Artifice domain and the subdomains of Construct and Toil.
  • Elves gain access to the Liberation domain and the subdomains of Freedom and Revolution.
  • Gnomes gain access to the Magic domain and the subdomains of Arcane and Divine.
  • Halflings gain access to the Travel domain and the subdomains of Exploration and Trade.
  • Humans gain access to the Nobility domain and the subdomains of Leadership and Martyr.
  • Kobolds gain access to the Rune domain and the subdomains of Language and Wards.
  • Orcs gain access to the Strength domain and the subdomains of Ferocity and Resolve.

EDIT: I hasten to point out that Clerics do not have the spells and abilities of every domain listed; rather, they are available to be chosen at character generation. Clerics are still limited to 2 choices of domain.


Druids
All druids and rangers are members of the Gray Cabal. Other classes are capable of joining this priesthood but this is rare and requires DM approval. Of course, any PC without alignment restrictions may become a member of a Gray congregation.

Gray Cabalist priests remain unchanged from their descriptions in the Pathfinder RPG.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wednesday Night. Somethingorother

Since I couldn't find anything suitably wacky for tonight, I shall admit defeat and instead give you...


BUNNIES IN CUPS!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Why all this Pellatarrum crap, Erin?

... I hear you asking. Well, the answer is simple, really: while I was working for the census this summer, doing lots of boring clerical work, my mind had time to wander and think about things. Sadly, I wasn't able to use this time to work on Curse/Or, because that requires concentration and attention to detail, but Pellatarrum is another matter because, as a setting, it is a bit more compartmentalized.

So I have all these ideas which I would like to get down on paper before I forget them, and it feels like I'm getting close to finishing all of this -- at least as much as any campaign setting can ever be finished. I have 2 more seasons to do, which will be easy enough, and I want to do a post on each of the 8 major races, which will take longer and might not happen in this current writing cycle. After that, I want to address various monster issues, notably trying to resolve things which don't make sense to me, but that can be done piecemeal.

I have this fantasy of being able to offer the Pellatarrum campaign bible to a publisher like Paizo or Green Ronin and having them buy it, maybe even hire me to develop it professionally, but I doubt this will ever happen. Still, if anyone from a game company is reading this, please email me!

Anyway, I realize that making a fully-fledged and sensible campaign setting is a long and winding road, and I will miss things along the way. Therefore I would like to call upon all of my loyal readers to do 2 things for me:

One, make suggest things you would like to know about Pellatarrum. Something I take for granted may be something mysterious and interesting to you. Plus it will give me a list of things to refer to when I have the time to write but don't know what I want to talk about.

Second -- and this is where my ego gets involved -- I would really like more followers. It bugs me that I only 45 followers with Google Friend Connect when there are blogs out there (I'm not naming names but you know who you are!) who update maybe a few times a month and have 70+ readers. I'm not trying for D&D with Pornstars ratings (though to be fair, I would kill for his readership), but more readers are always better.

I have considered the possibility of pimping my blog on various RPG forums (ENWorld, Paizo, etc) but have refrained because it seems a very crass thing to do. Also, I worry about the quality of people those boards attract. While I can take harsh criticism of my work, I would prefer to avoid the inevitable "This sucks, you can't write, go die in a fire" trolling that seems to come with RPG forums. But if anyone can recommend a board full of mature readers who will refrain from personal attacks (HA!) then please let me know.

Thanks for your continued readership, and I look forward to seeing your suggestions!

Pellatarrum: the Haunted Frontier

Beware! This is a two-day "mega-post".

After I wrote my Navigation in Pellatarrum post a while back, I had kind of a friendly argument with Trollsmyth about why, if the wilderness was so dangerous, did people go out into it? And why would adventurers ever leave civilization?

The simple answer is, sane people don't go into the wilderness in Pellatarrum, and adventurers by their very nature are not sane folks. I think I covered the first clause of that statement pretty well in my initial post, but let me briefly meditate on the second before going on to the meat of this article.

Sensible people do not take unnecessary risks. They stay at home and live boring lives where everything is normal and predicable and safe. These people are not heroes, they are normal schmucks like you or me. Then there are the people who, for virtue or greed or glory, put their safety on the line and live extraordinary lives. We as a culture lionize these people, because it takes an extraordinary person to put himself in danger willingly. While most folks run away from a burning building, paramedics and police and firefighters run towards it.

Because this behavior drastically shortens their life expectancies, it is not, strictly speaking, sensible. Neither is scaling Mount Everest, or rowing across an ocean, or otherwise pushing oneself beyond one's physical and mental limits to accomplish something extraordinary. That is why they are heroes, and it is why we sensible types play games about them instead of wageslaves who stay at home and do safe, sensible things. That is why adventurers leave civilization and brave the hardships of what the Puritans called "The Haunted Frontier."

Also called "The Gothic Wilderness," this may sound like an unknown concept but I guarantee you will recognize it in a heartbeat -- it's what made The Blair Witch Project so frightening and The Village so effective (until the mystery is spoiled). It can be summarized as "the Devil lives in the woods" but it's far easier to show than to tell:




It's interesting to trace the logic which went into this reasoning:
  • Indians live in the wilderness. 
  • They are godless because they don't share our religion. 
  • They attack us, and therefore are savages. 
  • Thus, godless savages live in the wilderness. 
  • Because they are both godless and savage, they are of the devil. 
  • Therefore, the devil lives in the wilderness. 
  • Clearly the devil rules the wilderness, because he sends indians to attack us (the faithful). 
  • Anywhere the devil rules is, ipso facto, hell. 
  • Therefore, the wilderness is hell.
  • All good Christians should eschew hell, the devil, and his minions. 
  • Therefore, if you willingly go into the wilderness, your soul is in peril. 
  • Anyone who enjoys imperiling his soul is either insane or in league with the devil. 
  • Insanity is demonic possession, and anyone in league with the devil is a witch or a warlock. (Exorcisms for the former, executions for the latter.)
  • THEREFORE, stay at home where it is safe; pray for your immortal soul; kill anyone who doesn't do likewise because they are evil; and don't go into the woods.
It's pretty easy to see how this turned into "deforestation is God's will:; a kind of crusade against the wilderness that, in a many ways, is still with us today.

Now there are some interesting parallels going on here between real-world history and Pellatarrum:
  • Puritanism and the Church of the Light. Sure, you need to remove the strictures against promiscuity, but the tendency towards religious fervor and inquisition is still there. 
  • Similarly, the Cult of the Dark and the evils which lurk in the night: if it's hidden, it's wicked.
  • The wilderness is just as deadly: monstrous things live out there who only want to kill you. In fact, in Pellatarrum this is more true than in real life, because of the variety of hazards involved: vicious monsters, aberrations from the depths of the earth, magical beasts, and of course the savage orcs (and their degenerate servitor races) are a hand stand-in for indians. 

OK, so that's the general mood and theme I am going for whenever the PCs leave civilization. Time for the next question,  What happens if they don't have a ranger or druid with them? Is it a total party kill? And the answer to that is "no," for the simple reason that I don't like to have PCs die like little bitches unless it's a result of deliberate stupidity. Sure, if a group of NPCs goes into the woods without the proper skills, then they are going to get lost and die horribly. This makes a wonderful generic adventure hook: "Go rescue the group of village children who ventured out too far and got lost," for instance.

But for PCs, I prefer to err on the side of "death by awesome." It is far better to kill them with a devious deathtrap in a lost tomb than have them starve to death in the wilderness: "OK, after being lost for days, you are hungry, thirsty, and fatigued, but you have found a dungeon entrance. Would you rather die of exposure, or explore this dungeon in search of supplies despite being at a penalty?"  This way they still suffer for their foolishness, but if they die they at least die like heroes.


I'm going to conclude this double-wide post with brief descriptions of how the various races of Pellatarrum view the wilderness.

Dragons are one of the few races which aren't at all frightened of the trackless wilderness, because of the twin virtues of being able to fly above the treeline (which renders most hazards ineffective) and being apex predators. They go where they want, eat what they do, and who is to tell them otherwise?

Dwarves rarely leave the great Citadel-Forge of Agnakorem, which has never fallen to enemy assault. (This is a bit of an understatement, as attacking Agnakorem is rather like engaging the Himalayas in hand-to-hand combat. It's just too damn big.) Given their communal nature, a perfect fortress home, and all the raw materials they will ever need delivered right to their door -- being the architects of the universe certainly has its perks -- they simply don't see the need to leave. Any urge to explore and colonize is directed downwards, which brings them into conflict with the aberrations from the Underworld who are making their way upwards to escape the devastation wrought by the destruction of the Nightspire.

Elves are the other race which doesn't fear the wilderness, because they live there, so nearly every elf ends up taking at least one level in ranger and/or druid. Of course, they suffer from other problems, such as rampant xenophobia and fear of cities, and often wage bloody genocidal war against the orcs who seek to overwhelm them, but they aren't afraid of the place. On the other hand, they have a crippling fear of the open water, probably because their ancestors were aquatic and a great schism happened thousands of years ago which forced half of the population out of the water and into the woods. So, same intensity but directed differently.

Gnomes, if you recall, were created by the elves as ambassadors to the dwarves. This gives them a "best of both worlds" mentality, where they do not so much fear the wilderness as have a healthy respect for its dangers (much like how Australians living outside the cities deal with the fact that practically everything over there has poison which will kill you instantly), but they still band together in close-knit communities and retire to safe underground tunnels when night falls.

Halflings have an interesting take on the whole affair: bring your entire family with you when you venture out. If home comes with you, then you are never ever lost, and everything becomes a grand adventure. Of course, it also helps if there are a half-dozen cousins with practical wilderness survival skills in your family tree...

Humans do the typically human thing and try to be everything at once with varying degrees of success. Some live in great fortified cities and never think of entering the woods, ever. Some take after their elven creators and try to live in harmony with nature, though this is more of an individual undertaking than a community-held attitude. The rest end up living a compromise existence of semi-fortified villages in pacified sections of wilderness, surrounded by farms. Sometimes these villages turn into great cities and sometimes the wilderness devours them.

Kobold attitudes depend on if they are in service to a dragon or not. If in service, the area around the dragon's lair is utterly pacified and the kobolds are quite happy to continue living in servitude to their master. If a masterless tribe, they live in abject fear as everything around them is larger and deadlier than they. They act much like the Viet Cong, living in hidden tunnels and laying traps for everything larger than themselves, as that is the best way to score a victory (and dinner) without risk of injury.

Orcs (and other goblinoid races) don't so much live in an area as they do exploit it of all available resources before moving on to fresh pastures. Much like mongol hordes, they will strip an area bare, which has the obvious side-effect of pacifying it utterly. It's not entirely clear if this is done out of fear, a desire to assert dominance over everything, or simply the nature of fire races to consume everything in their path.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Weekend Update

So how was your weekend?

After a week of splitting headaches caused by freakish weather patterns, I just needed to unwind, so my weekend looked a lot like this:





I really want to get back into the swing of blogging regularly. Feel free to nag my lazy ass if I don't.

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