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DShomshak

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DShomshak last won the day on November 30 2019

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  1. I do something similar in my new D&D setting. The two arms of the Grand Canal begin at an upland lake called the Middlefonse and run north and south to the Inner and Outer Oceans. (and the north arm tunnels through a mountain range on the way.) The Middlefonse receives some small streams from nearby mountain ranges, but the Analecta Arcana say its chief source is a decanter of endless water someone lost very long ago. And only a scoundrel would question the accuracy of the Analecta Arcana, despite its being a compilation of quotes from older sources (now mostly lost) and repeatedly edited and glossed by diverse hands. Dean Shomshak
  2. EDIT FOR DOUBLE-POST ANNOYANCE: Incidentally, as I look at that tangle of rivers I wonder if some of them are actually roads. The region does seem to have a lot of "rivers" flowing through mountain ranges, not just the Shaanda, and that aren't clearly labeled. But I haven't red the descriptions for the eastern Westerlands yet. Dean Shomshak
  3. The rivers of Arduna may at times be less-than-obvious, but at least they're better than on the map of Creation, the setting for Exalted. There's a major river that connects the White Sea in the north, with an apparent terminal estuary, to a river system in the East, at a sharp angle that looks like it should be a tributary joining the larger system. Visually, it has two terminals and no headwater. One of the writers I worked with finally defined it as actually being a canal, not a natural river, with powerful magic enabling it to flow uphill out of the White Sea (and with more magic to desalinate it). Now, Creation is a deeply non-naturalistic world (it's flat, for one thing), with a history of both powerful magic and huge-scale engineering projects, but personally I find this a little too much. Especially since it took about eight years for somebody to try accounting for this awkward bit of geography. Dean Shomshak
  4. As it happens, that was my group's last FH campaign. Not Aarn -- my friend created a homebrew setting -- but we had quite a nice campaign as the neighborhood watch of Caravan Court in the city of Bridemore. Fights against gangs and assassins, solving mysteries (including hints about mysteries of the world itself), getting tangled in the political struggle between the city's duke, the nobles, and the merchant guilds. It was unfortunately a short-lived campaign when the GM ran into work/life issues, but it was fun while it lasted. I've stolen the premise for my new D&D campaign. Dean Shomshak
  5. Getting back to the Ulimar Jungle... This setup has good adventure potential. Indeed, you could build a campaign (or at least a story arc) around the jungle and dealing with its inhabitants. As it happens, I presented such a campaign premise in the part I wrote for Masters of Jade, for WW's Exalted. For background, the Guild is a world-spanning commercial organization. Much of it was designed as an unholy cross between the Triangle Trade, the Opium Wars and the East India Company, but I tried to slip in a few suggestions that commercial exploration did not necessarily have to be Eeevil. Here's an excerpt: ---------- <2>Trading Posts and Voyageurs At the other extreme from the massive caravans, lone voyageurs paddle canoes and walk forest trails deep in the Eastern wilderness. Some of the Guild’s most precious medicines, such as age-staving cordial and seven bounties paste, are made from plants that only grow in places no caravan could ever reach. Voyageurs also hunt rare birds and animals for their pelts, parts and plumage. For living treasure, they risk disease, toxic animal, plant and insect life, and the lethal attention of hungry beasts, maddened spirits and unfriendly natives. In Nathir, a feather-worker takes delivery of gleaming purple plumes that shall complete a priest’s ceremonial cloak. A master swordsmith pays a full dirham for jars of forest mimic blood; it will quench a new artifact, the Lying Blade. One cloaked and hooded voyageur presents himself at a side-door to Doctor Alethia’s fortified compound. He — she? it? — brings the great physician living, disembodied arms taken from the Wyld, as replacement limbs for the maimed and very rich. Or maybe something else. <snip description of Doctor Alethia> <3>Trading Posts Instead of hunting rare plants and animals directly, some Guildsmen think it makes more sense to befriend the natives and pay them to do the work. The catch is that the intrepid trader must visit the natives where they live… and in the far East, that often means up in trees that may grow a mile high. The Tree Folk and other Eastern tribes feel comfortable in trading posts that resemble bird’s nests or spider webs of living vines. Visitors from civilized lands find it takes some getting used to. With this much money at stake, they make the effort. <snip description of voyageur Jinru Rose-of-Dawn> --------------- So: Explore the Ulimar Jungle looking for valuable (magical?) plants and animals, try to avoid or befriend natives as needed. If the latter, get involved in their problems and conflicts, with each other and the wider world. Or reverse it: The PCs are Ulimar natives facing both promise and peril from outsiders. Dean Shomshak
  6. Getting back to the Ulimar Jungle... This setup has good adventure potential. Indeed, you could build a campaign (or at least a story arc) around the jungle and dealing with its inhabitants. As it happens, I presented such a campaign premise in the part I wrote for Masters of Jade, for WW's Exalted. For background, the Guild is a world-spanning commercial organization. Much of it was designed as an unholy cross between the Triangle Trade, the Opium Wars and the East India Company, but I tried to slip in a few suggestions that commercial exploration did not necessarily have to be Eeevil. Here's an excerpt: ---------- <2>Trading Posts and Voyageurs At the other extreme from the massive caravans, lone voyageurs paddle canoes and walk forest trails deep in the Eastern wilderness. Some of the Guild’s most precious medicines, such as age-staving cordial and seven bounties paste, are made from plants that only grow in places no caravan could ever reach. Voyageurs also hunt rare birds and animals for their pelts, parts and plumage. For living treasure, they risk disease, toxic animal, plant and insect life, and the lethal attention of hungry beasts, maddened spirits and unfriendly natives. In Nathir, a feather-worker takes delivery of gleaming purple plumes that shall complete a priest’s ceremonial cloak. A master swordsmith pays a full dirham for jars of forest mimic blood; it will quench a new artifact, the Lying Blade. One cloaked and hooded voyageur presents himself at a side-door to Doctor Alethia’s fortified compound. He — she? it? — brings the great physician living, disembodied arms taken from the Wyld, as replacement limbs for the maimed and very rich. Or maybe something else. <snip description of Doctor Alethia> <3>Trading Posts Instead of hunting rare plants and animals directly, some Guildsmen think it makes more sense to befriend the natives and pay them to do the work. The catch is that the intrepid trader must visit the natives where they live… and in the far East, that often means up in trees that may grow a mile high. The Tree Folk and other Eastern tribes feel comfortable in trading posts that resemble bird’s nests or spider webs of living vines. Visitors from civilized lands find it takes some getting used to. With this much money at stake, they make the effort. <snip description of voyageur Jinru Rose-of-Dawn> --------------- So: Explore the Ulimar Jungle looking for valuable (magical?) plants and animals, try to avoid or befriend natives as needed. If the latter, get involved in their problems and conflicts, with each other and the wider world. Or reverse it: The PCs are Ulimar natives facing both promise and peril from outsiders. Dean Shomshak
  7. I am not so sure that setting books don't sell. White Wolf did a great many of them, from Chicago by Night for Vampire: the Masquerade to Compass of Celestial Directions: Autochthonia for Exalted. It seemed to work okay for them. Though some of this may be a function of branding and the audiences this attracts. WW was setting-intensive from the start, and attracted readers who liked that. Rigorous and robust game mechanics, OTOH, were... how shall I put this politely... not their main selling point. Hero, in contrast, generally seems to attract people based on game mechanics more than setting development. (Apart from a bazillion Enemies books for Champions.) I suppose it became self-reinforcing. Dean Shomshak
  8. The airplane crash expert interviewed on All Things Considered yesterday would merely say that any simple "technical fault" was improbable as a cause of the crash. The most severe thing he could imagine was a complete engine failure that could damage a wing and even part of the fuselage, but even then the plane could make a controlled landing and the pilots would have time to radio for help. But he stressed that nothing could be positively known without a thorough investigation. My sympathies to Canada, and to all the relatives of the people on the plane. Dean Shomshak
  9. Just heard a sound bite of Trump on the radio saying okay, he won't target cultural sites because it's illegal... but still delivered in a sneering way to make clear he thinks the law is stupid, and following any law is stupid. And still repeating the "They're allowed to..." nonsense. I dare say Trump has no conception of why anyone thinks culture is important. Or the rule of law, for that matter. dean Shomshak
  10. Well, it has already been politically effective... at ending the demonstrations by Iranians fed up with their government. Who can demand reform when the crazed, murderous Americans have just committed a real, no kidding, internationally defined act of war? I am not intrinsically opposed to assassination. I can imagine specific circumstances in which it might be the most effective course to prevent greater harm, or be the only way to stop certain enemies. This is not one of them. Dean Shomshak
  11. My local newspaper printed a story about this, but it's a few months late. Here are some links to an interesting bit of archaic astronomy revived. Armillary Sphere Unveiled on Santa Fe ... - St. John's College https://www.sjc.edu › News and Features Cached Sep 27, 2019 - During Homecoming weekend on the Santa Fe campus, the St. John's ... a functioning armillary sphere, the only one of its kind in the world. Tycho Brahe - Armillary Sphere - Armillary Sphere Replica https://www.popularmechanics.com › space › telescopes › brahe-armillary-... Cached 1 day ago - St. John's College in Santa Fe, New Mexico has unveiled the only working Tycho Brahe armillary sphere on Earth. The complex device is used ... Tycho Brahe armillary - David Harber https://www.davidharber.com › news › tychobraha Cached Tyco Brahe Sphere in Santa Fe. Next. David Harber, has unveiled the world's only working Tycho Brahe Equatorial Armillary Sphere, a piece commissioned by ... Dean Shomshak
  12. Guide to the Gods, by Marjorie Leach, might be useful to FH GMs in designing gods for settings. Or at least the table of contents might be, as a source of divine types you might not have thought of: I Cosmogonical Deities 1 Primordial Beings 2 Male/Female Principle, Angdrogynous 3 Deities of the Universe, Space 4/5 Supreme Being, Great Spirit, High God/Creator Deities II Celestial Deities 6 Sky and Heaven Gods 7 Solar Gods: Dawn, Day, Light, Twilight, Eclipses 8 Lunar Gods: Eclipses 9 Gods of Night, Darkness 10 Stellar Gods: Constellations, Planets, Stars III Atmospheric Deities 11 Weather Gods: Thunder, Lightning, Rain, Wind, Rainbow, Drought IV Terrestrial Deities 12 Animal/Bird Gods 13 Earth Gods: Land, Soil, Earthquakes 14 Fire Gods: Elemental, Domestic 15 Fresh Water Gods: Rivers, Lakes, Irrigation, Curative Waters 16 Metals: Mines, Minerals, Treasures 17 Nature Gods: Forest, Hills, Mountains, Stones, Trees 18 Sea Gods: Surf and Coastline, Seafarers and Navigation V Life/Death Cycle Deities 19 Life: Birth, Procreation, Soul (in life). Longevity 20 Mankind: Men, Women, Children, Youth, Age 21 Fertility: Animal, Vegetable, Phallic 22 Disease Gods: Accident 23 Death Gods: The Dead, Soul (in death). Funereal, Embalming, Cemeteries 24 Afterworld/Underworld: Judgment, Soul (in death) 25 Resurrection/Rejuvination Deities VI Economic Activities 26 Agriculture/Vegetation Gods 27 Deities of Domesticated Animals 28 Fishing: Fish Gods, Water Animals 29 Household Gods: Doors, Hearth, Home, etc. 30 Hunting: Gods of Wild Animals 31 Roads and Locations: Crossroads, Boundaries, Gates, Travelers 32 Trades and Crafts: Merchants, Markets, Artisans 33 Gods of Wealth: Abundance, Plenty, Prosperity 34 Gods of Non-Wealth: Famine, Hunger, Poverty VII Socio-cultural Concepts 35 Abstract Deities 36 Arts: Music, Dancing, Poetry, Theater 37 Gods of the Cardinal Points 38 Culture: Teachers/Givers of, Lesser Creator Gods 39 Gods of Evil, Destructiveness 40 Gods of Destiny, Fate 41 Fortune: Luck, Good or Bad 42 Intellectual: Wisdom, Learning, Teaching, Scribes, Records, History 43 Justice: Law, Judgment, Equity, Government, Order, Morals, Oaths, Curses, Thieves 44 Love: Lust, Sexuality, Phallic, Lovers 45 Gods of Marriage 46 Medicine and Health: Body, Healing, Herbs, Senses 47 Pleasures: Happiness, Revelry, Festivals, Games 48 Gods of Time and Seasons: Calendar 49 Gods of War: Victory 50 Gods of Wine: Intoxicants, Narcotics, Drunkenness VIII Religion 51 Religious Activities: Rituals, Initiation, Ceremonials 52 Divination, Prophecy 53 Magic, Sorcery Okay, so you won't get detailed information about gods that you can crib. Even at more than 800 pages, there are so many gods the book can't give much more than a name and a source for more information, from the bibliography in the back. Here's an example, from a random page -- fire deities, as it happens. Sakhadai The god of fire of the Buriats. Also SakhidaiNoin, whose wife is Sakhala-Khatun. Siberia. (MacCulloch, 1964: 454; Klementz, 1925, 3: 4, II) Sakhala, Sakhala-Khatun The goddess and ruler of the fire with her husband Sakhadai (Sakhidai-Noin). The Buriats, Siberia. (MacCulloch, 1964: 454; Klementz, 1925,3:4) Sakhri nad, Chulahi nad The spirit of the hearth. The Oraon, India. (Roy, 1928: 72) Savul The fire-stick was deified as an individual god. Babylonia, Near East. (Sayce, 1898: 181) Setcheti An Egyptian fire god. (Budge, 1969, 1: 347) Sethlans Etruscan god of fire, god .of smiths—the artificer of the gods. Same as Vulcan, Hephaestus. Italy. (Rawlinson, 1885: 123;vonVacano, 1960: 19, 110;Pallottino, 1975: 142; Roscher, 1965, 4: 785) Shahli milo The god of fire, identified with the sun which is not addressed except as fire. The Choctaw Indians, Mississippi. (Spence, 1925, 3: 567-568) Shulawitsi The youthful god of fire and also of maize and hunting. He is a messenger for the sun. The Zuni, New Mexico. (Parsons, 1939: 175, 205; Tyier, 1964: 25; Stevenson, 1901/02: 33; Waters, 1950: 283-284) Best if you can find it in a library, but really, the table of contents is probably enough unless you're really into obscure anthropology. Dean Shomshak
  13. DShomshak

    Gods in RPGs

    So, why worship a god, when it's just a sock puppet of a spiritual force that doesn't care, telling you what you want to hear? Two reasonsL: First, it's how you choose your afterlife. When you die, your soul goes to whatever plane and Archon accords best with your temperament. This may be Hell, if you have been sufficiently self-centered or wicked by the standards of your culture. Or your soul might just dissolve. Worst of all, you might become undead. Binding your self to a god foreordains the outcome. Well, maybe: People often believe their gods judge them, with unpleasant consequences for a guilty verdict. But at least you know the rules. Second, many people want gods to be, well, godlike -- which may include telling them things they know they should hear, even if it's not comfortable. This is where prophets come in. Prophets shape how people think about their gods, and so shape the gods themselves. Deep down, many people know they should be better than they are. When an eloquent prophet tells people how they should be, they may mock him or her -- but unconsciously, they know the prophet is right. the Archon picks that up and adjusts the god to endorse the prophet's words. And so, gods can encourage people to behave better and do what's hard rather than what's easy. Dean Shomshak
  14. DShomshak

    Gods in RPGs

    Now that I have a little extra time, I'd like to expand on something I briefly alluded to in my previous post: how gods act the way worshipers expect. The Archons are eternal and unaffected by mortal beliefs; but they also have no will, as such. For instance, the Archon of Mars has an affinity for conflict, but it does not care which conflicts occur or how they play out. Mortal belief generates gods as masks for the Archons, and these gods seem to have wills of their own -- but those beliefs set the gods' personalities and interests. You might compare the gods to high end Eliza programs, bouncing their creators' beliefs back at them, backed by divine power. So for instance, the zealous worshippers of the sun god Sorath, Burning Light of Purity, receive commandments that they must exterminate all infidel who will not convert to his worship as the One True God.. because the prophetess Orvikka convinced a lot of people that's what Sorath wants. Before that, he was a somewhat different god. I set my campaign's metaphysics up this way because I wanted to keep moral responsibility in mortal hands. Sure, people still say "We are righteous and you are wicked because our god says so." But they are fooling themselves. Their god is only saying what they want to hear. And in particular, entire intelligent species cannot be condemned as evil creations of evil gods. You may not like the culture and attitudes of, say, orcs or goblins, but they freedom to choose their actions, same as humans, elves or what-have-you. How you deal with them is between you and your conscience. Dean Shomshak
  15. So, when the gods decided to mend and repopulate the world after their wars, they created white people? That could perhaps be interpreted in ways you do not intend. Though you could go the other way and say it's the Westerlanders whose appearance changed through interbreeding with older indigenous populations. Perhaps the ruddy-skinned, blond Ulg-Hroi are the last remnant of the Old Westerlanders, living in the only lands so harsh the newcomers wouldn't go there. It might be simpler, though, just to say that the three brothers, and their associated tribes, were not created looking the same. There might even be a competition to see whose tribe "wins" some competition -- which might explain the Hargeshite schism. Through Vashkhor, driven by religious zeal, "Team Khori" seems to be doing well. Dean Shomshak
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