Monday, January 25, 2010

Pellatarrum: the Day/Night Cycle

I have temporarily given up on writing Curse/Or and have instead chosen to work on Pellatarrum until such point as my brain decides to behave. So there!

In one of my earlier posts about Pellatarrum, I mentioned its wacky day/night cycle but didn't go into any great detail about it. This subject is worth revisiting because there are social and physiological implications inherent in having the fonts of creation and destruction radiating undiluted energy upon a world for 6 hours every day.

While the effects of the Positive Energy Plane (hereafter referred to as "the sun") and the Negative Energy Plane ("anti-sun") have already been defined in the Manual of the Planes, it is important to note that within the cosmology of Pellatarrum, their radiation must cross the infinite void of the Astral Plane before it reaches the Material, and in the process of that crossing those energies lose much of their oomph.

Which is a good thing, really, because otherwise people would be dying from hit point loss during the night, and exploding from massive hit point infusion during the day. And that would rather defeat the purpose of the habitable world the Elder races envisioned!

But there is a solid, notable, empirically proven effect that happens during the peak energy hours, and if you will pardon me for briefly descending into gamespeak for a moment, that effect is this:
  • During the hours of daylight, any roll which involves life, be it Constitution saves, natural or magical healing, etc, gains a +2 Energy Bonus to the result, and opposing rolls (see below) have a corresponding -2 Energy Penalty.
  • Likewise at night, any roll which involves death, such as necromancy, damage rolls, and the like, gains a +2 Energy Bonus, and opposing rolls (see above) have a corresponding -2 Energy Penalty.
  • During the hours of dawn and twilight, there are no bonuses or penalties, as the overlapping energies cancel each other out.

Okay. That's the mechanics out of the way. Now let's look at what they mean.

If an inhabitant of Pellatarrum wants to ensure conception, they have sex during the day, when the sun is shining and radiating soul-energy though the female's womb. For royalty, creating an heir is of utmost importance, and therefore sex at noon is practically a matter of state security. This mindset has filtered down to the peasantry, who have turned it into a siesta with almost religious significance. Farmers, of course, are nearly fanatical about this custom; if you're going to sow the fields, either figuratively or literally, best do it during daylight hours.

It is considered extremely rude to unexpectedly call upon married couples between the hours of what we would consider to be 11:00 am and 1:00 pm. Even if they are old enough to be past the age of childbearing, lunch is generally thought of as "family time." Of course, not everyone is having sex during these hours, and businesses such as taverns & inns stay open to feed travelers and those who, for whatever reason, are celibate.

As a point of interest, both breakfast and dinner are the big meals of the day (one to give you the energy to work, the other to last you through the night). Lunch is typically a small affair, much like the Tea Meal of England. Children are usually fed first, then let out to play, while the adults retire to the bedroom for playtime of their own, and their food eaten afterwards.

Conversely, night time is best suited for liaisons, assignations, and good old-fashioned affairs. This is because not only does the darkness provide cover for such activities, it also prevents unwanted pregnancies. Therefore it is entirely possible (and even likely) for married couples to engage in procreative sex during the day, and meet with their lovers at night, without ever worrying about bastardy or unwanted children.

There is however one fly in this ointment: within the D&D/Pathfinder mindset (and the mechanics do support this), diseases are not "organisms which live within me", but rather "a destructive force trying to eat me." So yes, while sex at night prevents pregnancy, it carries with it increased chances of STDs.

[Author's Note: It should be noted that the Church of the Light really doesn't care if you're married to whomever you're fucking, it just believes that procreation is sacred. You can screw who and what you want, as long as it's not done furtively or with contraception.]

This one is pretty straightforward, as much of it falls under game mechanics: you get more bang for your buck during daylight. Interestingly enough, the same is true of potions, as the healing effect is actually triggered when it is drunk, and not when it is brewed.

If you are wealthy enough or are a member of the Church, you probably have access to a room which is warded against negative energy to which you can retire in event of sickness or injury. Royalty have their personal chambers permanently warded against both Negative Energy and teleportation. Everyone else makes do with shuttered windows and lead-based paint, both of which have dubious protective abilities at best.


If an inhabitant of Pellatarrum is not well, the night can be a dangerous time. The superstition we have on Earth that death comes in the darkness is a real and proven fact on Pellatarrum.

If you're planning to murder someone, night time is the right time. You get a +2 to all damage rolls, and if your victim is poisoned or bleeding to death, they have a -2 penalty to their Fortitude saves. In many ways, this makes killing much easier, in that you don't have to deal the death blow -- the environment will do it for you as long as they aren't able to get to help in time. Of course, if they do happen to die in the night, there is an increased chance your victim will return as an undead. Fortunately most undead do not rise with supernatural knowledge of their killers, so a sensible assassin hides his face.

Conversely, if you can make it through the night, your survival during the day is practically assured. Very few people die in radiance, and those who do are typically revered as either being martyred (if they are the victims of violence) or saintly (if they died of natural causes). The basic perception is that they were too good for the world, and the Light took them home. In very rare cases (such as with Paladins and the like) this is literally true, with their bodies dissolving into radiance before dissipating, leaving nothing behind to resurrect or reanimate.

Oddly enough, this makes the logistics of warfare somewhat more complex. If you fight during the day, you inflict less damage upon the enemy, but suffer less yourself. Battles at night will carry greater casualties for both sides, with the increased possibility of the dead coming back as undead. Most commanders prefer to fight in the 6 hours of dawn, withdrawing by noon for gathering of the wounded and dead. Only the fiercest of battles fought by the worst of enemies will ever progress past dusk, and those are typically "No quarter asked, nor given" between racial foes with near-genocidal hatred of the others.

Military operations at night consist mainly of lightning raids and assassinations -- actions where the element of surprise helps protect the attacker from being hurt. The day is best suited for things which are constructive (cooking, repair, planning, blessing) or for things where injury is a possibility which should be minimized (training and sparring.)

Executions are performed at dawn or dusk, naturally.

The Undead
Only an idiot fights the undead at night. They are stronger, do more damage, and have increased chances of turning you and your friends into abominations. You, meanwhile, are more likely to lose attributes or levels to ability drain, contract a disease, bleed to death, have your soul eaten...

Turning the undead is also much harder at night, as it is also a function of channeling Positive Energy. Hunt them during the day, when they are weakest and you are strongest. Unless of course you're a necromancer...

On a related note, if you're caught outdoors at night, don't bang on the door asking to be let in. You won't be, because you're clearly an undead who wants to feast on the souls of those indoors. If you're still alive in the morning, they'll take you to the local church for healing, because if they take you in, and you die later that night, you might return as a ghost and blame them for your death.

Live in the Light, die in the Dark. In Pellatarrum, it's not superstition, it's a matter of survival.

Coming next: the seasons

Friday, January 22, 2010

You should do this thing

We can discuss in greater detail where I've been lately and why I suck so hard. Right now, there are more important things to talk about.

If you're like me, you're probably appalled at the tragedy in Haiti and at the same time sick of hearing about it night after night. It's okay to feel that way, though; it's human to not want to be reminded of suffering and death on a nightly basis.

But I have to tell you that part of that dread comes from guilt. Maybe you feel guilty that you haven't helped, or haven't helped enough (though what constitutes enough is purely between you and your neuroses; I won't presume to lecture you), or maybe you have some bizarre form of survivor's guilt.

So here's what you do to alleviate that guilt: You head on over to Gamers Help Haiti at RPGNow/Drive-thru RPG. If you donate $5 or $10, they will match your donation. If you donate $20, you get over $1400 worth of digital downloads in return.

Look guys, rarely do you get the opportunity to do the right thing AND make a profit doing it. Your money goes to Doctors Without Borders, which is a bona-fide Good Guy Organization, and you get nifty swag for your trouble.

As of this writing, gamers have raised over $90,000 for relief efforts in Haiti.

Go now, and do this Good Deed, and reap the fruit of your efforts.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I'm not slacking


Yesterday was mostly spent deep in the bowels of bureaucracy (bureaucracy needs a colonoscopy, btw) as I dealt with the Social Security administration to prove that yes, I am who I say I am, and I was indeed born here.

Then I took the rest of the day to work on Ch 5 of Curse/Or. It was productive, but I have little to show for it, which is frustrating. I hope to have something bloggable on it soon.

And then I sat down to watch Chuck and Big Bang Theory. Guys, if you aren't watching these shows, turn in your Geek Cards right now, because these are two of the funniest, coolest, fan-friendly shows on the planet.

So... that was my Monday.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I am so stupidly proud of this

I have found a clip of Craig Ferguson reading my email on his show.

Yes, I know this "accomplishment" is of dubious merit at best. But this was the first time I ever wrote to him, and I'm thrilled that it made the cut. And it's a bit like seeing your name in the newspaper for the first time.

So in other words, it's not at all entertaining. Your only purpose in watching it is to say, "Oh, I know that person!"

Thrilling, isn't it???

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Just when I was worried that I wouldn't find anything wacky enough to post today (I'm still waiting for a clip of last night's "Late Late Show" wherein Craig Ferguson READ MY EMAIL! ON NATIONAL TELEVISION! It's such a tiny victory but I'm so inordinately happy about that), I found this lovely thing:

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Daleks.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Counting the Christmas Loot

And now, in an inversion of chronology, I go from talking about New Year's Resolutions to Christmas Presents.

I received a decent pile of loot this year, which I achieved through the agency of ordering it myself. I'm not exactly a shopaholic but I tend to get grumpy this time of year, what with the crass commercialism, and so in a bout of extreme irony I usually end up buying myself some really neat things in order to lift my spirits. Yes, I know that I'm part of the problem, not the solution. Sigh.

But anyway! Here are the cool things I got:
  • A 1-Terabyte USB drive. I found a cache of Best Buy gift cards my brother had sent me over the years, and I turned them in to get this bad boy. I've moved all my mp3's and movies and PDFs of RPGs into this thing and I still have tons and tons of space. I think I'll have to start downloading porn just so I can fill it all up.
  • Lots of stuff for my Z-Kit, including a swank new Utility Belt for when I walk the dogs. I'll explain in greater detail in future posts.
  • But the best present I got is awesome because it was completely unexpected. My neighbor is friends with my mother, and she got presents for everyone in our family this year. She gave me Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase & Fable. I had no idea such a thing even existed, but the moment I opened it I wondered how I could have possibly lived without it. If you've ever wondered about the meaning behind an archaic platitude, or (like me) are just a nerd for language and phraseology, you will love this book.
Hmm. I'm not sure how I should end this post. I believe I'll copy Craig Ferguson and use an awkward pause.


Goonight, everybody!

Already I've failed

Yes, here it is, the 5th of January, and I've already broken not one but TWO resolutions this year.

Now admittedly, the first was just asking to be broken, what with its "I shall post on this blog every day this year," but that was my token aim-big-miss-big resolution which always gets broken early so I don't have to dread failure and I can get on with my life.

But now I've broken my second resolution, which was "Okay, seriously, I'll post something before midnight every weekday." I had every intention of doing this last night, but... y'know, stuff happens. I got distracted, and then it was late and I went to bed.

So now I'm working on my third resolution which is "How about posting five times a week, Erin? Can you manage that, you slack-ass?" Only time will tell on this, but I'm guessing the answer is a big resounding "No."

My last two resolutions are a lot more attainable. One of them is "Take better care of my teeth," which is easy because I've already gotten into that habit as a result of last year's intense dentistry. I do need to make a concentrated effort to floss more, but it's not as big a deal as it is for some people because I only have 28 teeth (no wisdom teeth, plus 2 others removed in High School on advice of my orthodontist because I have a small mouth [hah!] and the teeth were crowding each other) and so my standard regimen of "rinse with plaque loosener, brush vigorously, and rise again with fluoride works pretty well.

My final resolution is, of course, to write more/better/faster on Curse/Or. I really want to finish Chapter 5 in January, because that finishes the first Act and that's a tangible reward for me. It's so close I can taste it, and now that Christmas is over I feel like my life is finally my own again.

So, that's me. How about you guys?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Sad Wookiees in Snow

Sigh. Another crap day spent mostly in bed. Will try to make time for a better post tomorrow.

And now, Chewbacca shoveling the walk:

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