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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Pellatarrum: Giants (part 2)

by Demonic Bunny


The Sundering

The first few centuries after the giants' invasion of Pellatarum were worrysome. The Shapers had observed, studied, made simulations and even conducted what limited live trials they could, but even they could not be certain that their predictions would be correct. The giants had arrived, but there were no signs that they were growing weaker. Then, finally, came the event known as "The Sundering".

The Sky giants had been among the first to arrive on Pellatarum. Of the many kinds of giant they were among the greatest, strongest and the fleetest of foot. Unlike other giant breeds, however, they were also among the most social, living not in scattered clans but in great cities. They alone among had overcome their base instincts and banded together in great communities. This was another form of evolution, as their prior enemies had been the mighty djinn (genies of the air) and their unwilling servants, the dragons.

When the sky giants arrived on Pellatarum they constructed great cities in the air, weaving clouds and magic into fantastic constructions that stretched for miles and forming great floating island-fortresses that dominated the skies. These cities were not just bastions, but also mobile warships from which the giants could descend upon the surface of Pellatarum.

The other giant species were somewhat lesser and later arrivals, but not by much. During these first centuries the elder races of Pellatarum hid themselves well, in the deserts, among the mountain peaks, or deep under earth and ocean surface. They waited, and they hoped.

And then it came, the first sign of the Sundering. It was not a lessening in power that came first, or a loss of the giants' sorcerous powers as the Shapers had predicted. It was a loss of one of their natural abilities.

Gradually, some sky giants began to lose their power to walk among the clouds.

It is uncertain what the sky giants could have done at this point. They still had enormous power at their command, and it was uncertain if the Shapers could have defeated them as things stood. Perhaps if the sky giants had acted promptly they could have marshaled their forces and remained the most powerful race upon Pellatarum. What they did instead was the worst thing possible for the future of their race: they banished their crippled kin from their cities in the skies. The exiles were told that it was the natural progression of things, that giantish adaptability was once again propelling the race onwards, but the true reason was that the sky giants were prideful and saw all non-cloud dwelling races as beneath them. 

As time went on, more and more sky giants began losing their ability to walk among the clouds, with this loss of ability soon followed by a lessening in size and intellect (becoming what are today known as frost giants). Even the other giant races could see that this was not how it was supposed to be, but their numbers were few compared to the sky giants and their sorcerous abilities weaker.

Eventually, the only race oblivious to the lessening of the giant races were those few who still remained in their cold sky cities.. until they too were diminished. These last remaining sky giants did not lose their ability to walk among the clouds; they gradually lost their ability to resist the biting cold. Soon they were shivering in their aerial fortresses, discovering too late that they no longer had the power to make their cities descend to a lower altitude, nor to construct new ones. The cold finally drove them from their fortresses and down into warmer climates among the low and temperate mountains of Pellatarum.

Their arrogance and selfishness had gained them nothing but the unanimous hatred of their kin. Though a few storm giant seers took pity on them and stopped their lessening (as they had done for other giants long before), even today the cloud giants (as they are now known) are shunned and spat upon by their giant kin.

It is uncertain if any of their cities have survived the passing of time, although rumors of  ancient sky-forts still trickle in from beyond the borders of civilization.




(Editor's note:  If you are not imagining an adventure where PCs investigate a creepy abandoned (or is it?) and possibly booby-trapped city of unimaginable magical power, you're doing it wrong. )

Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Phoning it in

The rest of the week's been a loss, might as well continue the trend. Have some videos.

1.  Holy crap, someone's finally made a Shadowfist/Feng Shui movie!




B) If you like Downton Abby and coarse humor, you will probably enjoy Very Maggie Smith: Sex and Sexuality.




III) From Derek Littlejohn, a Facebook friend of mine:
Dear Women of Pittsburgh,
This does not pertain to all of you, but a good number. It is balls melting hot outside. You have a clutch, a purse, even a mini wallet. I see you carrying it with you. Some are gaudy, some fashionable. If you like it, hey. Good for you.

But I swear on eyepatch of Odin Allfather, the helm of Thor Odinson, the Beard of Zeus and Flames of Hades if you do not use your cash carrying contraption to house your money instead of giving me damp swamp titty money, I'm going to wipe my balls with your change and quarter bukkake you afterwards.

Thank you.

100) On a related note, "Damp Swamp Titty Money" would make an excellent name for a song by Hayley Willis. If you don't know who she is, she performs the song in the Fiat Abarth commercial, and her voice sounds like stanky Louisiana blues poured over smoky mesquite voodoo.




ε)  Hmm. The last three posts have been about breasts. Let's even that up, shall we? Here is Gilbert Gottfried talking about Joan Rivers' vagina. I don't know why it is, but that man can make the crassest jokes sound endearing in that voice of his. 



Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Pretty

Woke up with a headache like a spike stabbing into my eye. Which is always fun.

I'm going to phone this one in and post a nice video. The boys can appreciate the pretty girl and the girls can appreciate the pretty gun, and hopefully both of you can appreciate the amazing speed and fluidity of the shooter.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Rained out

Between the constant rain, my mother being mad at the rain, the sinus headaches as a result of barometric pressure changing because of said rain, I don't have the wherewithal to make a post tonight. I might have something for you tomorrow as I collect my thoughts regarding epithet-hurling harridans who would rather women be perpetual helpless victims instead of  being intelligent, aware humans who understand that safety is primarily the responsibility of the individual.

However, I leave you with this charming thought:

Me: Oh my god, stupid people are infuriating. But you know that.

Oleg: Only live stupid people. The dead kind are ok.

Me: True. Pity we can't reanimate them and make them useful. Necromancy would actually be a "green" technology.

Thank you, and goodnight.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Odds & Sods

  1. The family computer is suspiciously fine. After I posted Wednesday's update, I had to go and do Suzie Homemaker stuff for like an hour. That accomplished (and fully awake now that the caffeine had kicked in) I decided to try to power the computer up just to see where it would fail, i.e. would it make it past the power-on self-test or not. Eerily, it booted up completely fine, with no hint of the earlier problem (a complete freeze, followed by a "BOOT SECTOR NOT FOUND, INSERT BOOT DISK TO CONTINUE" message). I've run all sorts of tests, and there appears to be nothing wrong; all the fans are working, everything is at a good temperature, no viruses or malware. I am at a complete loss as to what happened. Current theory is that the pixies who spin the hard drive were having a coffee break.
  2. "You got me hung, Jack" is one of my favorite ways of saying "Fuck if I know." I'm not surprised that most folks don't get the reference, but you'd think that they'd figure out what it means just from pure context.
  3. Last night I had a dream that I had stumbled upon a cache of various weapons, including such objects of desire as the Kel-Tec KSG and RFB, as well as enough ammo to bathe in. I was running around like Remy the rat in Ratatouille going AHAHAHAHAHAHAH! I was very, very sad when I awoke sans firearms. 
  4. The best hat I ever bought was an "Eh, this'll do" boonie from Wal-Mart. I found it in the men's department near all the typical beer-and-sports teams baseball caps. What's nice about it is that it has an absolutely HUGE brim -- 3.5 inches from the band, which I think is a full inch shorter than most boonies I've seen -- and so not only does it completely cover my face from the sun, it gets most of my shoulders as well. It also makes a fantastic rain hat as well once it's waterproofed; I dosed mine back in '09 and I've only just now had to reapply the waterproofing. Between it, a poncho, and waterproof boots, I can stay dry in pretty much any downpour so long as the wind doesn't drive the rain sideways. 
  5. Or flood. Fortunately for me, I'm on the coast opposite McThag, so by the time it got to us it was just a lot of rain rather than "Where did the car go?"
  6. Weerd Beard has been assimilated into the Herd. That's another notch for my barn door.
  7. There is something incredibly endearing about Gilbert Gottfried telling a filthy joke. One cannot prove this, but it is in the same sense that Mount Everest is, or that Alma Cogan isn't

Goodnight.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

This is not a triumph

Home computer just experienced a total hard drive failure.

Fortunately I have a laptop from which to internet (yes, it's a verb now) and a spare tower with which I can either attempt recovery or convert into the primary unit.

There are 3 of us in this household and only I am serious about backing up data.

Wish me luck...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Prezzies!

I like it when people give me things.  In fact, it's pretty much a goal of mine to convince the Internet to give me things for free.

I am at least part of the way there:


This is a can opener used to open Soviet military surplus ammo "spam" cans. They typically come one to a crate, with two cans per crate, so if you order just the one can you usually don't get one. My friend Jeff W. has ordered several crates of Mosin ammo, and he was kind enough to send me a spare for my single can.


Also in the package were these:


Buttons of the Mane 6 + Celestia from a network giveaway a while back. Amusingly, Fluttershy's pin hid in the envelope when I poured the others out and I had to go looking for her when I realized I was a pony, um, shy.


These will go great with my Derpy pin!



Amusingly, Derpy is larger than the other pins.



Seems almost fitting!  Now I just need some kind of pony-themed jacket or vest where I can properly display my swag.


Speaking of ponies, this is the spiffy gun belt that matches my Luna holster:



The proper name for that shade is "Yale Blue." I think it matches Luna's mane perfectly!

This belt is awesome. It's sturdy enough to comfortably carry my pistol, but small and flexible enough that I can put it through most belt loops. (Also, it doesn't cover Luna's horn. This was, believe it or not, a design requirement.)  And it's very very comfortable.

Finally, this was also made my Michael's Custom Holsters. I am told it is the first inside the waistband ammo carrier he has ever made.(Possibly in existence? I'm not sure how common these are.) Yes, those are full-size Glock 17 magazines.




In conclusion:  Please send me cool things for free, Internet. In return I shall blog about them. Sound good?

Mall Ninja Geardo Gun

I am a self-professed "geardo" and fan of weapon accessories, but even I feel that this degree of customization is a bit much.  It is, however, hilarious. To me, at least.

As contributor Jeff W. (who sent this to me) said, "Full of ammo, that thing would weigh like 25 pounds. That's almost 9lbs of ammunition alone."

And if you wince at all the Rule 2 violations, then you too just might be a gunnie. :)


Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday Gunday: Linkdump Edition

Since I have a fair number of firearms novices who read my blog, and because I accomplished nothing notable this weekend, I figure it might be a good idea to include some articles and videos for those who are fascinated by the idea of guns but who know precious little about their proper terminology or how they operate.

Therefore, we start with some easy to digest videos:




There are more videos in the series as well.


(hat tip to Weerd for first posting this.)


Next up is a nice Primer on the Shotgun from The Art of Manliness website. This article is mostly correct, though it subscribes to the all-too-common fallacy of "criminals will shit themselves if you make the ch-chunk sound with a shotgun."  Let me briefly explain why this is a bad thing:
  1. If your first choice is to "scare them a little" rather than telling them to freeze or shooting them, you should not own a gun. Period. Do not own one if you are uncertain you can use it to kill another human being in self-defense. Otherwise you will hesitate, and then the criminal could disarm you and use it against you. Or you could "fire a warning shot" and then who knows where your shot will go and who it will hit?
  2. Never approach a home invader with an unloaded weapon. In the time it takes you to chamber that round, you could be killed. If you are uncomfortable with keeping a shotgun loaded all the time (perhaps you have small children in the house), then chamber that round before you leave your room. 
  3. Don't give away your position while you are vulnerable. If the intruder hears the click, he may turn around and attack you before you can clack. If you don't like the thought of just shooting someone unannounced, then you may of course shout "Freeze!" or the like. But for God's sake, do it with a LOADED weapon.
There is also a nice beginner-level article on rifles and how to operate them.  However, please avoid their "How to correctly clean your revolver" article (link deliberately not included).  It is filled with all sorts of inaccuracies and wrong information. 

I realize there should probably be a third offering here but I can't think of anything. If you, dear reader, can think of anything I should add, then please inform me.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Pellatarrum: Burial Rites resource page

Collecting the entire week's worth of posts about Burial Rites in Pellatarrum, for ease of reposting on social media:

Pellatarrum: Burial Rites and the Cult of the Dark

Burial Rites: Cult of the Dark
Part 2 of "Dealing with the Undead"
by Demonic Bunny

Unifying the Cult of the Dark is the belief in the "three part soul." In the cult, the soul is referred to as the secret, or the sacred secrets. These three parts are the secrets of the mind, the secrets of the heart and The Great Secret.
  • The secrets of the mind consist of the everyday secrets that people carry: private knowledge, unshared opinions, and other kinds of dirty little truth that they keep to themselves. 
  • The secrets of the heart are what drive people forward and compel them to take action: hopes, fears, dreams, and ambitions, as well as deep secrets of shame and loss.
  • The Great Secret is the spark of life itself:  that intangible difference which allows sentient beings to live, not just exist. Joy, love, and reconciliation fall under the Great Secret, but so do darker feelings such as anger, lust, and vengeance.
While the Great Secret cannot be stolen, cannot be kept and cannot be found, the other secrets are up for the taking -- and this is the core of necromancy: Speak with Dead steals the secrets of the mind, and the higher undead are animated by the secrets of the heart. It is this issue which divides the cult (see Necromancers, below) and forms the basis for their burial rites.

To many cultists, secrets are holy and must not be stolen. To steal the sacred secrets from someone is a violation of that person's soul. Cult members who hold to this tenet believe that burial is an act of intimacy, a sacred duty given only to a loved one or a very close friend. This person is known as their secret-keeper. It is the duty of the secret-keeper to choose a place of burial (or ensure that the deceased is buried according to final wishes), to make the necessary preparations, and to bury the body. Traditionally, the secret-keeper is allowed to pick one item from the possessions of the deceased before the rest is divided among the inheritors. This item can be of incredible monetary worth, or completely trivial; it up to the secret-keeper to decide. While this is traditionally regarded as just compensation for the hardship of a burial, it is in fact rooted in the practice of allowing the secret-keeper to remove from the body items which would embarrass or indebt the family.

There is a traditional farewell among these cultists, not unlike the French adieu (“See you with god”); if you believe that this is the last time you will see each other in life, the farewell is done by touching the other just above the heart and saying “May your heart keep your secrets”.

Another aspect of this belief is that while the soul belongs to its owner, the body of the deceased belongs to its family or community. While the burial itself is still performed in secret, it is typically done at a family or community burial ground. From then on, the body is the possession, and the responsibility, of that same community or family. This includes being raised as an undead if  it is deemed necessary or desired.



The Cult and Necromancers

The relationship between the cult and the necromancers among them isn’t a simple one. While necromancers almost always subscribe to the ideals of the cult, not all cult members (even those who are practicing and aware cult members) approve of necromancy. It is perhaps easiest to draw parallels to the relation between practitioners of vodou and the bokor. Necromancers are, in general, respected. They are keepers of secrets and makers of secrets, guardians of ancient knowledge and hard won mysteries. When the cult resists the church of light, the necromancers almost invariably form the tip of the spear. In both guerrilla action and in more straightforward clashes, their creations and subjugated minions serve as everything from cannon fodder to elite shock troops to spies. Their magics serve to both defend and bolster their allies, and crushing the lives and hopes of their enemies.

However, the art of necromancy is also the taking of secrets. Necromancers are, by their very nature, thieves. They steal the forms and soul-secrets of the previously living.* On Pellatarrum, controlling the undead is more than just a matter of blasting them with necrotic energy and then gaining control through some sort of sympathetic energy effect (although, in the case of lesser undead, that’s not that far from the truth); the art of turning and controlling true undead is to the ability to learn their secrets. Not just their average everyday secrets, but their secret of the heart, the secret that drives them and which is kept closest.

There is also no such thing as an "average necromancer”. There are many different ways into the mysteries of necromancy, and as many reasons to choose to study this often reviled craft. To some, it is a means to bolster the defenses and strengthen the ideals of the cult. The Cult of the Dark is always short on manpower compared to the vast numbers in the employ of the Church of Light.

To others, it is the pursuit of knowledge for the purpose of knowledge itself, or for some other personal goal: to pursue revenge, or power, or to raise a loved one from death.  The cleric that can cast raise dead is rare, and willing ones even rarer. One who can raise a body that has been dead for a long time is rarer still. A person capable of performing this task will soon find himself sought after by wealthy, desperate, and powerful individuals on both sides of the moral divide.

Finally, there are the very few and very rare necromancers who belong to that most extremist of sects, reviled even by other cult members: that very small part of the cult which actively pursues an undead apocalypse. 


*This is another reason why zombies are usually created from the bodies of the deceased. Not only is it a simpler task, with the body serving as a ready-made mold for the undead, but it is also a necromancers demonstrating their dominance over other cult members. Your average cultist doesn’t know the difference between a true undead and a lesser undead; he tends to assume that to enslave the bodies of the dead, the necromancer must also have enslaved their souls. Clever necromancers go out of their way to perpetuate this illusion.

Pellatarrum: Burial Rites for Elves

Burial Rites: Elves
Part 2 of "Dealing with the Undead"
by Demonic Bunny


To the elves, there are two parts to death. The first is the actual death of the body. Elves typically do not place much importance on this event;  a physical death just means that there is another carcass to dispose of, just like any other type of rotting meat.. It’s done quickly, efficiently and without fanfare*. The part of death that elves focus on is social: the departure of the elf from formal society and recognized, official existence.

As with many other elven formalities, this process can be a drawn-out affair, and in the meantime the deceased is considered “indisposed and unable to properly greet guests as they deserve.” This phrase is not a euphemism; it is used by elves to describe anyone who is unable, for whatever reason, to make a public appearance. These reasons may vary by such extremes as death, exile, public humiliation, or simply having an unsightly blemish.

This pretense that nothing is wrong strikes most outsiders as a somewhat eerie practice, but to elves it is simply the natural way to grieve. Once the family has decided to formally acknowledge the death, they hold a formal (and often extended) ceremony which serves as both a ritual goodbye and a means of establishing a new pecking order. The higher the status of the deceased elf, the more elaborate the ritual. Dwarves tend to joke that all elven politics is just an extension of the burial ritual of the previous elven queen, and there may be some truth to that observation.

Once the ritual is complete, the deceased no longer exists. While there may be records of the elf's life, they are in the past and are a matter of only minor significance; a historical curiosity which is largely irrelevant to the perception of the eternal elven "now". 




*Elves have two techniques for disposing of bodies. The least preferred, and almost exclusively done where the other option isn't available, is to simply dig a grave and bury the body. This is always done in dirt, never stone, and is always done immediately after death, preferably the very day after the elf dies.

The preferred method, however, is to feed the body to the stonebirds, a large flightless carrion-eater indigenous to jungles and hot swamps. Stonebirds are peculiar in that nothing that has been eaten by a stonebird ever rises as an undead. In fact, they are immune to whatever diseases or curses may be upon the body. This makes them the only naturally-occurring predators of the undead in Pellatarrum.

The traditional elven burial-ground is reminiscent of a Tower of Silence. Built out of volcanic rock, these ossuaries are essentially ritual feeding grounds for scavengers, maximized for efficiency and designed to ensure that the stonebirds' feeding is done as easily and as throughly as possible. Unlike their earthly counterparts, however, there is no need to ritually dissect the body before the carrion eaters begin; a stonebird's beak and claws will tear flesh and splinter bone with ease. What little is left behind is would be of use to only the most powerful and dedicated of necromancers.
The ability to safely eliminate undead is one of the reasons for their name. The other reason is that a Stonebird is built like a tank, with feathers as hard as iron, beaks like battleaxes and legs that can kick harder than a mule.

Without stonebirds, life in the preferred elven climate -- a climate which is hot, wet, and completely unbearable to the dwarves, who refer to living in such a climate as “rusting away” -- would be impossible as there is no place where the dead can be buried in dry earth. (To understand why it is important to bury the dead in earth and keep them away from water. see The Elemental Nature of Undead.)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Pellatarrum: Burial Rites for Orcs

Burial Rites: Orcs
Part 2 of "Dealing with the Undead"
by Demonic Bunny

The orcs believe that they are all part of the eternal fire. Each orc is just a kindling and a small part of the great flame. They do not fear death, as it is merely a return to the great fire. They do not necessarily believe in reincarnation, as when you die any unique characteristics die with you, but your essence, your inner fire, will go on to be redistributed among a new generation of orcs. They care little the body, as it is mere fuel, but believe that the smoke of a funeral pyre will carry the orc's inner flame directly to the great fire.

This practice has a fairly large drawback: it drastically increases the chance that the deceased will rise as an incorporeal undead. Fortunately, the orcs have devised of a way of dealing with this problem.

In the days of the Orcish Empire, before their cultural apocalypse at the hands of the rest of the elder races, the duties of dealing with this problem fell upon the ash warriors (also called “ash eaters”), a cult of warrior-monks who specialized in fighting the undead. Their name came from the ritual practice of eating the ashes of an orc that had risen as an incorporeal undead. As even incorporeal undead are still bound to their corporeal remains, this ritual ensured that the spirit would be forever bound to the body of the monk in a kind of symbiosis. The undead spirit was no longer capable or roaming outside the ash warrior's body, and in return the ash warrior promised to perform great feats of bravery in the name of the dead spirit.

Given the rarity of the ash warrior monks and the magnitude of the problem, the terms "ash warrior" and "ash eater" became synonymous with the possessed. Even though the ash warrior was fully in control of his actions, to outsiders it was difficult to tell the difference between an undead creature's  hatred for all life and an orc's lust for combat. Once the warrior died in combat -- which was often --  the spirit bound to him would follow him to the afterlife. Unless, of course, that warrior's ashes were consumed by another ash warrior...

These days the ashwarrior order is no more, and their secret methods for achieving the spiritual strength to remain in control of their bodies were lost with them. However, the custom of ash-eating still remains. It is a duty that most often falls upon the greatest warrior of a tribe, but in the symbiosis between warrior and undead spirit the balance often tips in favor of the spirit rather than the living. These possessed warriors remain a constant threat for the civilizations that live on the borders of orcish territories.

(In game terms, ashwarriors were dual-classed  Savage Barbarian and Hungry Ghost Monk with a feat that allowed them to bypass the alignment restrictions of both classes. Fortunately for GMs, the philosophy behind this feat has been lost to the ages.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

WNW: Kicked Right in the Legal Briefs

No need for me to explain this one. You've probably already heard about the epic-level bitchslapping that web cartoonist Matthew Inman gave to douchebag lawyer Charles Carreon. If not, you can remedy this in three easy steps:
  1. Douchebag lawyer makes empty threat; cartoonist opens up can of whup-ass.
  2. The Internet catches wind of this and creates a flawless victory.
  3. Douchebag lawyer whines that it isn't fair someone can fight back.

The Internet is living thing, a gestalt consciousness and morality, and I laugh my ass off watching a predatory troll lawyer get his ass handed to him like this.

Pellatarrum: Burial Rites for Dragons

Burial Rites: Dragons
Part 2 of "Dealing with the Undead"
by Demonic Bunny


Dragons die so rarely that there is no standard method of burial -- which is just the way dragons like it (both the “not dying” and the “not standard” part).

When dragons do die, it is often violently and in a spectacular manner which leaves very little left of the order, structure, and survivors necessary for an organized burial. Still, there have been some customs that have evolved throughout the ages.

If the dragon died in its lair, it is traditional to collapse the cave on top of it. If it died outside, it should be buried under rock (this is usually done by toppling a mountain or causing a landslide). What is important is that body should be difficult, if not impossible, to recover.

In the rare instance that there are any kobolds left after their master has died, it is considered a mark of respect to continue the secret draconic plots until there are no more plots to resolve. As such, if a dragon's network isn’t completely annihilated, it can be impossible to discern if a dragon is actually dead, as  schemes and plots created during its lifetime can continue for centuries after a dragon's death.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pellatarrum: Burial Rites for Dwarves

Burial Rites: Dwarves
Part 2 of "Dealing with the Undead"
by Demonic Bunny


The dwarves have had a troubled relationship with death. Of the elder races, they are the only people who lost their immortality upon their arrival on Pellatarum, a price which the dwarves paid willingly in exchange for sanctuary and the chance to create a dwarven utopia.

On the elemental plane of earth, dwarves had a tendency to go into petrified hibernation for extended periods of time (sometimes centuries), and the process of death for dwarves is reminiscent of this hibernation. In the early days of Pellatarrum, the dwarves continued this trend.

Before the process of petrification would fully set in, the body of a deceased dwarf would be set in a flattering pose, and then dressed in finery that would not rot away in a few centuries. Generally, this meant ritual armor made from treated metal and semi-precious stones like jade, and armed with metal weapons, axes and swords that in a thousand years would remain as sharp and shining as the day they were made.These “statues” would then be deposited in waiting-halls filed with rows upon rows of dwarven warrior-statues, waiting in silence and darkness.

Over time, however, this practice struck the dwarves as increasingly macabre, such that there was a cultural revolution in dwarven burial customs. While they did not disturb the already finished halls-of-waiting (dwarves consider it highly improper to disturb the dead and the sleeping), for a while anything but the most spartan burial was considered the height of social faux pas. Since that time, dwarves in their home cities have been buried in small (but deep) stone alcoves cut directly into the bedrock itself, and sealed with an unmarked stone plug. Dwarves who die outside their city-fortress are temporarily buried in stone coffins, and then transported home in yearly caravans. Even today, caravans leave dwellings all over the world, heading for the Dayspire carrying their cargo of stone coffins, their departures timed such that they will arrive at the end of the year for a proper burial.

These days, however, the reactionary measures have mellowed somewhat. Dwarven tombs are often inscribed with their names and frequently retell some of the greatest deeds of his or her life. These deeds might seem odd to non-dwarves, though, for the inscriptions of dwarven tombs rarely tell of great deeds in battle, but instead generally refer to their advances in craftsmanship. Regardless of how trivial the advance is, or what other feats the dwarf had accomplished, dwarves revere the art of smithing over all other things.

Pellatarrum: Burial Rites and the Church of Light

Burial Rites: the Church of Light
Part 2 of "Dealing with the Undead"
by Demonic Bunny


“Her father had died the previous night. Death almost always happened during the night, unless it was a violent one. When the morning came she sent a runner, the farmhand's son, to the church nearby to fetch the priest. The two of them returned just before noon.

The priest did as he had done with her mother those years ago. He touched the body’s neck, feeling for a pulse and watching for even the faintest breath. Then he touched it with his symbol of light, sanctified (as all such symbols are) to find foul magic which might put one of the younger races into a semblance of death.

They had said the words, as ritual and ancient as the church itself: “Daughter, I say that he is dead, that there is no life left within him, and that his soul is no longer in the body. Do you deny this?” She had shaken her head, as good an answer as any, and together they had washed the body, rinsing it of sweat and filth.

The priest had laid out the pristine white winding sheet, and together they had laid her fathers body upon it. The priest said the necessary prayers, marked her father with blessed salt upon the forehead, the lips and above his heart, and then sprinkled the body with a fine layer of dry dirt. “With these words I send you onwards. May your soul pass on towards the light,” he intoned. Then they closed the shroud, the last she would ever see of her father.

At dusk the Watcher, the warrior assigned to keep vigil with her, had come. Always two, the watchful eyes, so that none would fall asleep. This time it was a proper Sentinel, clad in the garb of her order, the golden eye upon red tabard on top of well-kept maille. When her mother had died it had been a regular soldier, unused to the spell of vigil, and somewhat manic because of it. The Sentinel, however, was used to the touch of light and kept herself stoic and silent. Armed with her broad-bladed axe the Sentinel waited, almost like a statue. She would stand that way until dawn, unless the body started moving, in which case that axe would fall and behead and dismember the corpse. Even the most powerful of undead is vulnerable at the moment of awakening -- or at least that is what the church teaches.

A few hours after dawn the priest would come, along with his pallbearers, and carry her father to his final rest. They’d march towards the graveyard, behind its tall fence and under the watchful eyes of the Tower. The priest would speak his words and perform the ritual of burial, always circling the body clockwise, always careful to not let his shadow touch the body. Then the body would be lowered into the grave. More salt, more sanctified earth. And at midday they would close up the grave, and there he would rest.”

-The Burial of a Father

The Rite

Much can be said about the Church of Light, both good and bad, but their method of burial has become the gold standard for the younger races of Pellatarrum (specifically humans, gnomes, and halflings). While the specifics vary from region to region, and between different systems of belief, the four core components remain the same where ever you go: The four phases of The Confirmation of Death, The Purification, The Vigil and The Burial, each overseen by the three persons of Priest, Griever and Second.

The Priest is responsible for the ritual purification and is the arbitrator of the rite. He makes sure that the body is indeed dead (and not the victim of enchantments which mimic death), is purified of negative energy, and is properly laid down in dry earth. The priest also represents the interests of the local authority, whether that be the Church of Light, the local druid grove, or whichever king, nobleman or official who rules the lands.

The Griever represents the interests of the family and the deceased. Note that the Griever has as much authority as the Priest in determining if the body is, in fact, dead. If they do not accept the priest's decision regarding the deceased, the matter must be mediated by a third party -- any person of authority that the griever approves-- who then verifies that the dead is in fact dead by whatever means are available to him.

This procedure must be performed before nightfall. If it is not mediated before then, anyone who is being obstinate will be locked up with the body every night and kept under guard until either a full week has passed, or it is obvious that the body has started to decay. If, after a full week, the body shows no signs of decay, it is presumed to be undead and dispatched accordingly by the Second.

The Second is, without exception, a person with martial training and discipline. In a world where ghouls, ghasts, vampires and other nastiness exist, it is his role to make sure that the deceased does not rise  the following night as an undead. While clerics and paladins are preferred for this task, anyone with knowledge of the undead and skill with arms and armor is sufficient.


The Graveyard

There are a number of design features common to Pellatarran graveyards:
  1. They’re located in terrain where the graveyard is protected from wind, water and (to a certain extent) fire. The most important part is keeping the graveyard from getting waterlogged, so proper drainage and keeping it well above the groundwater level are of prime importance. Usually that means that the graveyard is located on a low hill (possibly artificial) and surrounded by trees to screen it from the wind. 
  2. They’re hard to get into, but easy to get out of. Few people visit a graveyard in Pellatarrum unless they’re on official business, and if they do it’s at noon. Any tribute to the ancestors is done at a small shrine at home, or located just outside the graveyard. However, cultists, grave robbers, ghouls, carrion-eaters and other sorts of nasty creatures must be kept out at all costs. A disturbed graveyard is that much more likely to turn into the epicenter of an undead uprising.  An elaborate graveyard consists of a raised hill, surrounded by stoneclad walls that from the outside can be anything from 7 to 30 feet tall, but on the inside are barely waist high. A less elaborate setup consists of a fenced graveyard with a low number (perhaps just one) of tightly controlled accesspoints.
  3. On the other hand, it should be easy to get out of it. You do not want to be caught inside a graveyard if things start to happen, and if undead do rise within the graveyard the last thing you want is for them to stay there, milling around. Active undead are foci of negative energy, and as such a cause for the rise of more undead.
  4. They have provisions so that a sentinel can monitor the entire graveyard from a point of relative safety. This varies between a small stone watchtower (with a sturdy door that can be barred from the inside) barely large enough for a few men and only manned in times of trouble, to a massive bastion that is permanent home to a full legion of church soldiers.


Other customs

Not all subscribe to the Church of Light model, however. The elder races have their own customs, reinforced by a cultural heritage that stretches over millennia. The druids of the Grey sect generally live in areas where there are not enough sentients to warrant a proper graveyard (not to mention that it would be contrary to their philosophy). The Cult of the Dark, those who consciously choose to associate themselves with the night and its mysteries, have their own traditions based on a very different belief in life and death.


These differences will be addressed in the next article.

Monday Gunday: Carrying Concealed

Having recently acquired both my concealed carry permit and my spiffy Princess Luna inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster, I decided that it was time for me to carry concealed. I remember being told by many people -- specifically JayG, but also others whom I don't recall -- that I would feel like everyone was watching me, and I'd be nervous, and would constantly be fidgeting.

Well, no. Not really.

As I've remarked before, I'm a part-time goth. I used to be gothier when I was living in Washington D.C., both because there were handy clubs and because the weather was better suited to wearing black than here in semi-rural and hotter than hell Florida. But the fact remains that I've gone out in public wearing some rather unusual outfits, and have been stared at by lots of people. So really, once you're used to being regarded as a freak because you're wearing black lace and pallor makeup by everyone in a subway car, then having a legal pistol inside my pants is really no big whoop.

I've also done my fair share of people-watching,  and I realize just how oblivious most folks are in their day-to-day lives. To be completely honest, I doubt half of them would notice if I were carrying openly. (I hate to say it, but looking white and middle-class probably helps my case as well.)

I will admit to some fidgeting, but that's mostly because I'm not used to the way the pistol adds inches to my waist and makes my pants tighter. I imagine I'll become a lot more comfortable once I buy some looser clothes and find the sweet spot on my hip where the gun can sit without pinching or poking as I turn or bend over.

(Let me just say how nice it is to have the luxury of buying larger clothes without having the downside of admitting that I've gained weight.)

I've heard that a lot of folks who carry concealed are constantly touching their carry pieces to make sure they are in place and hidden. I get the feeling that a lot of that is from folks who 1) don't have proper holsters and 2) are carrying illegally. Since I know I am legal in what I am doing, and the fact that Florida only requires my gun be covered as opposed to "It must be rendered completely invisible" a la Texas and other states' rules, I basically have adopted an attitude of "I frankly don't care if you know I'm carrying."

And other than a slight increase in a feeling of preparedness and confidence, I really don't feel any different with it on.

Just wondering

Does anyone find it odd that, five years ago, my blog was about comic books and Discordianism and goth, and now it's about My Little Pony and role-playing games and guns?

I mean, I never said my blog was about anything other than whatever insanity extruded from my brain-meats, so I am curious how many folks feel that Lurking Rhythmically are disappointed that this blog has changed direction vs. how many folks feel that it never had any direction to begin with and therefore whatever I write is cool, or at least interesting in a train wreck kind of way.

Just curious, is all...

Friday, June 8, 2012

Meet Tamara

Some of you will read this and think I'm paranoid. Of course, you probably think I'm paranoid anyway because I carry a concealed pistol. Oh well.

Anywayz, earlier in the week an article was brought to my attention by Tamara Keel, the gunnie Patron Saint of Snark. After I read her post, I read that article, and then I read on a couple other blogs (whose names escape me at the moment, sorry gents) about how someone had tried to forcibly disarm them from behind.

All these posts got me to thinking, "What would I do in a situation like this?" After I thought about it some I consulted with my mother, who despite her age is a third-degree black belt in Shotokan karate. We both decided that the best course of action would be as follows:

  1. Grab my holster with my right hand to move the butt of the pistol against my body. This makes it difficult to remove the pistol from the holster since my waist is now in the way of the draw.
  2. If possible, use my elbow to lock the guy's arm. 
  3. With my left hand, draw a knife. 
  4. Rotate to my right. This will probably break my opponent's grip on my gun. Use momentum to power knife attack to opponent's face or neck. 
  5. Use whatever means necessary to remove opponent from my immediate area, allowing me to draw my pistol. 

A few practice sessions confirmed this. The only problem was that I had no fixed-blade knife I could draw and use with my weak hand. Therefore, like a proper girl, I went shopping for accessories.

I originally thought about getting a karambit of some kind, because they did exactly what I wanted and looked mean to boot. However, karambits are big, expensive, and (allegedly) useful only with specialized training. That's when someone -- I think it was guest contributor Jeff W. -- suggested I look into a Ka-Bar TDI.





Oh my, yes. This will do nicely: less expensive than a karambit, expressly designed for exactly what I want, and it's law-enforcement issue to boot. So I went ahead and ordered one.

Imagine my pleasant surprise, then, when my choice was blessed by none other than St. Tamara, who said "Kabar TDI is a fine knife, and specifically designed for defending gun grabs. Don't worry that it doesn't have any mystic woo-woo. ;)"

Well then. Not only did I make the right choice, but clearly this is some form of divine providence, as the woman who got me thinking about it approved of my decision. Obviously, my only course of action was to name the knife Tamara.


(My guns are boys because they are big and loud and, let's face it, phallic. But knives, swords -- anything sharp, really -- are girls. This is because while it's easy to make a boy go bang, females require skill and technique. Also, they'll cut you if you fuck with them.)


So this is Tamara, my new EDC knife:

Pointy!



And this is her with Oleg, my EDC pistol. Don't they make a lovely couple?

Black makes it more tactical.

Hopefully both Tam and Oleg will understand that naming my tools after them is meant as praise and not mockery. I have nothing but the deepest respect for them both.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Julie D'Aubigny

Even though its skill system is horribly clunky and every game I run seems destined (cursed?) to fall apart, I still have a deep and abiding love for the 7th Sea role-playing game. Much of these love is due to the fact that not only can the system adequately model a person like Julie D'Aubigny, but she would also make a perfectly viable player character concept or a splendidly frustrating recurring NPC foil.

This happens, like, every other game session in 7th Sea. 

Julie D'Aubigny was a 17th-century bisexual French opera singer and fencing master who killed or wounded at least ten men in life-or-death duels, performed nightly shows on the biggest and most highly-respected opera stage in the world, and once took the Holy Orders just so that she could sneak into a convent and bang a nun. If nothing in that sentence at least marginally interests you, I have no idea why you're visiting this website.

Go read the rest of the article, it's amazing.

What I find remarkable is that, despite all of her promiscuity, she apparently never had any children. While some may point to this as evidence of contraceptives or herbal abortificants, I prefer to think that she was so badass that no merely mortal sperm could penetrate her eggs to fertilize them. It would take someone like Superman, or at least Sean Connery, to impregnate her.

On the other hand, it is a bit of a pity that she never had heirs, because how awesome would it be to have her as an ancestress?

But perhaps they could exist in the realm of myth and legend. After all, doesn't this title seem perfectly plausible?

"And here is the story of how I impregnated Julie d'Aubigny,"  by Baron von Münchhausen.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Quack

If it LOLs like a duck...


Monday Gunday: Oleg at 25 feet

I had completely forgotten that there was an indoor pistol range in Daytona. As soon as I realized that, I grabbed my pistol and my holster and my CWP and I hightailed it over there.

Oh yeah, did I mention that?  My Concealed Weapons Permit* arrived last week! So now that I can legally carry and I have my spiffy new holster for carrying, I figured it was time to see how good I was at engagement range (25 feet or less) and make sure that my Crimson Trace Lasergrip was properly sighted in.

How did I do? Well, I achieved about a 95% hit ratio, and you can see that most of those are in nice juicy Important Organ Areas. I even got a bit cocky and started trying for headshots (note to self: get better before you try head-hunting).



So yes, I'd say I am quite proficient with my defensive sidearm at most engagement ranges. Next time, I'll try shooting at 50 feet and see how well I do.

Pew pew pew. 




*Sadly, NOT signed by Charles Bronson

Friday, June 1, 2012

More sexy photos of my pony holster

I received my holster yesterday, quite securely packaged. I mean that literally -- it was in a bag, inside a box, inside another box, and secured with enough tape that I needed a lightsaber to cut it open. I told Mike that my postal carriers were rough and that I didn't want Luna getting scuffed, but this was epic-level packing.

It's this level of attention to customer detail that sets Michael's Custom Holsters above and beyond other companies. The specifications I laid out for this guy were so demanding that I felt like I was Count Rugen to his Domingo Montoya. My holster had to, among other things:
  • Fit both inside the waistband for concealed carry, but also fit on a belt for open carry
  • Be comfortable during hot & sticky Florida summers
  • Allow me to wear and draw from a car seat
  • Work with sweatpants, since I wear them a lot at home
  • Look pretty but not be especially frou-frou girly
  • Be tough so that the design wouldn't rub off from being inside jeans
  • Oh, and it had to have this picture on it:

Now I realize many of you are saying "Oh god, why did you have to put a My Little Pony on it?" and my answer is "Because fuck you, that's why."  I like ponies, I wanted on my holster, and now I have one.

Plus, Luna has twin TAR-21s and crazy eyes. That's just awesome.

Anyway, I'd like to state that this holster is amazing. Michael did an incredible job of fulfilling my impossible and sometimes contradictory demands. He kept me apprised of the project's progress every step of the way, asking me how I liked it, and letting me make suggestions. I thought for sure I was going to be his most annoying customer when his first dye job ended up a little too pink for my tastes. I wasn't happy with it but I didn't feel right saying "Nope, hate it, start over."

Guess what? He decided that he didn't like it, either, and started over anyway. And the second time around it came out looking incredible.

More sexy photos like this can be found here

You guys, not only is this holster beautiful, it is incredibly comfortable, both IWB and OWB. It holds my pistol securely yet allows for a smooth draw. It does exactly what I want it to do and the only way it could possibly be better would require violating the laws of 3-dimensional physics.

I know the resolution isn't as good. His camera is professional, and mine isn't. 

Oh, and did I mention that this holster is guaranteed for life? Because it is.

In conclusion, I wholeheartedly endorse Michael's Custom Holsters. His quality, attention to detail, and level of customer service are all top notch. I encourage all gunnies to buy a holster from him, and hasten to point out to my fellow Bronies that he does non-holster leatherwork as well. (Also, he and his wife are fans of the show as well, so we'd be supporting members of the herd.)


Why are you still here? Go! Buy leather goods!

I'll just leave this here

'k? 


The Fine Print


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