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DShomshak

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Everything posted by DShomshak

  1. Which leads to the interesting possibility that in this world, the undead are not intrinsically evil. Most fantasies play it that way, but (as Kylvn might say) that is not a necessary assumption. Log? What are the undead actually like in the Helix?(Or did miss this? I'll have to look back at earlier pages.) Dean Shomshak
  2. Heard on the BBC yesterday: the Paris Observatory reports that, using the Very Large Telescope, theyhave observed evidence of a protoplanet forming. Not the protoplanet itself, but a distinctive S-shaped kink in the dust cloud around a star. (I think they said AB Aurigae.) Dean Shomshak
  3. The End approaches... Final pick: Legendary Guardian/Mythic Monster: The Angel of cold Shadow, Kylvn’s Wrath. Monster. Definitely monster. Because a proper god needs something dark and terrible to trouble theologians. Before the world was cut from out the void, Cold Kylvn looked within his holy self, Beseeching Andrea and Augurie To show the worst that he could ever be. He saw he could succumb to deadly wrath, Illogical, unreasoning, malign, A curse released upon all mortal kind, Betrayal of his calm and ordered mind. And so he took Inscissivus’ blade, That cuts all things and cut into himself, Removing through this godly surgery The evil, raging possibility. Then locked it in an admantine box By Liminus anointed, boundary That nothing could then cross, eternal sealed. For ages as the world was shaped it sat, Unheeded, inoffensive, until Fox, The fool, discovered the dark box. “I wonder what’s inside it?” pondered he. “It must be wondrous, I shall set it free!” He stole the keys by which Eternus passes To any place, no matter how well guarded, And oped the box! While somewhere Malice laughed, As Fox felt from the depths a chilly draft… Then blast of ice, that froze him nose to tail! A frozen fury, thousand winters’ bite; Since when, the Fox has had a streak of white. The Angel of Cold Shadow was released, Its curse upon the world has never ceased. — from the Frozen Analects (generally considered apocryphal) No god can remember Kylvn losing his temper. Ever is he courteous. The most they’ve seen is mild pique, and an arch suggestion that certain actions are not logical. Kylvn’s worshippers say that while the Cold God’s actions may not be kind, they are necessary and ultimately for the benefit of mortals and the world. Except there’s the Angel of Cold Shadow. This figure of ice has six faces of silentiaries, merged in a ring to look full circle at once. Twelve arms, with fingers like long blades of ice. Six wings fledged with sleet and a body robed in blizzards. First seen, it stands about a hundred feet tall; but it can grow vastly larger. As it rises into the sky, its wings spread to overshadow a city, or an entire province. Its shadow brings snow and a deadly cold. Even frost elves and silentiaries might shiver; all other folk freeze in minutes, though the W'Brrm usually can thaw afterward and survive. For everyone else, the Angel’s shadow brings death. Only when everyone within its shadow is fled, dead or frozen stiff does the Angel vanish once more. The Angel of Shadow appeared over the city of Scalzaris when riots and civil war set it aflame. It appeared over the kingdom of Vallish-Miir after loyahs overran it, and over the bandit-wracked province of Zung. From such appearances, some speculate the Angel is Kylvn’s dread judgment upon chaos and evil. But the Angel also appeared over the peaceful island of Bonatha, slaying both the native humans and the high elf refugees they had succored. Another story says the angel is truly Kylvn’s wrath: that once, he did lose his temper and sent it forth as the Angel of Cold Shadow to destroy those who had offended him. He regretted this spasm of rage, but could not undo it, nor destroy the emanation of himself. He instead borrowed, or stole, the all-cutting blade of Inscissivus and cut the event from the chronicle of Time and the memory from all other creatures, even the other gods. But the priests of Kylvn condemn this tale as heretical; and anyway, if it were true who would know? Or maybe it's just that Kylvn, too, must sleep and dream on occasion... and the sleep of reason breeds monsters. Some say Malice is the Angel’s lover, and that she seduced it to serve Shayol; but other tales say the Angel is one of only five creatures that Malice fears, and it has nearly slain her. Kylvn refuses to dignify such tales with a response, saying that a logical mind restricts itself to facts; which, his fellow gods observe, is not a denial. They also see that Bestimm the Determinator and the Dragonslayer have both slain the Angel, yet it has returned, as if something truly deathless sustained its existence. Never have they see Kylvn direct the Angel; and indeed, he helped Nogrom guide a hero to the Man of Gold in time to stop the Void-Zealots from summoning it at the base of the Integral Tree. Because all bringers of death are known to Eternus, that god knows how the Angel is called. A mortal who is absolutely convinced that all hope is lost — believes this is proven beyond possibility of error — that there is no choice left between a horrible ending and horrors without end — can summon the Angel of Cold Shadow by freezing and starving to death. The mortal calls to the Angel with their last breath; and by Volcanis' gift, the Angel hears, in whatever cosmic adytum it waits. And the Angel delivers the ending they seek. An end in silence, and stillness, and the unity of a common grave. ----- It is ended. Dean Shomshak
  4. Thus spake Kylvn: Concerning fire, My acolytes expect Commandment that they hold in enmity This shining element of heat and change, Destroyer of the handiwork of frost. Indeed, it contradicts much hat I am; But also serves My will in subtler ways. The hearth gives central order to a home, And lamp-light permits study into night, That thoughts be analyzed and fixed in ink. And if the fire destroys when uncontrolled, Then mortals learn to plan around that fear, With comfort, light and cooking as rewards, And safety from the dangers of the night. Besides, the world has holy symmetries: My logic for the madcap whims of Fox; Schemata to unite in ordered plan The diverse entities from Blade-God’s cuts; Hard fixity for dreams of Andrea. ‘Tis meet, then, that as cold doth crystallize All things into a hard and rigid form, The Helix should contain an opposite, That melts, consumes, releases into smoke To evanesce into the empty air! And as the fixéd purity of ice Is emblem of dispassioned reasoning, So fire is worthy emblem of the love You give to mortals, sibling Tasha — What? The fire is claimed by Shayol? Pardons, please, You know you look so very much alike! Dean Shomshak
  5. This is odd: My post on the Silentiaries seems cut off half way through. I'll re-post and hope the whole thing appears, because there was quite a bit more. -- DS -------------------- Kylvn approves of the Frost Elves, but they are not truly his people. And so he created the Silentiaries. He sang them into existence from living frost, breathed souls into them, and finished the work with a great silence. Kylvn create hive insects and similar creatures as early attempts at orderly species, and the silentiaries build on those experiments. Silentiaries somewhat resemble oversized grasshoppers about six feet long, walking (or jumping) on four hind legs but with slender arms with three fingers each. They appear to be made of translucent, pale blue ice with glittering, crystalline compound eyes. Folk of other species find silentiaries very difficult to tell apart. They are cold as ice as well, and take no harm from even the greatest chill. One reason for their species name is that silentiaries cannot speak: They breathe through spiracles in their sides. They communicate through sign language. Their language can barely be managed at a crude level by creatures with only two arms; full fluency requires four. Though they have no voices, siloentiaries can make silences, and these flavor their sign-speech the way humans use gestures to emphasize their speech. They also love music. Their styles are intricate and contrapuntal, full of fugues and interlocking rhythms. These folk live in hives grown from living frost, labyrinthine and many-turreted, amid extensive ice-reefs. They mostly eat living ice, though they cannot survive for long without cold-tolerant ordinary crops such as turnips or rye. The farmland is of course tended collectively. Silentiaries rarely go far from their hives except in winter. Other seasons are at least unpleasant for them, and the hottest weather is deadly to them. In winter, though, silentiaries can travel far in vessels of living ice, animated and directed by music, that stride on a dozen jointed legs through the snow. They venture out to trade, to found new hives, or to perform special feats of ice-shaping for other folk. On rare occasions they are sought for their remarkable mental prowess, for every silentiary is highly trained at memory, observation and logic; or as musicians. But this is dangerous, and not just for the silentiaries. Silentiary society is divided into six ranked castes. Most silentiaries begin in the worker caste, with numerous subcastes for each occupation. Workers have a lifespan of 36 winters. A worker who shows the six disciplines of truthfulness, logic, equanimity, reciprocity, loyalty and perseverence and advances six degrees in their occupation is elevated to the supervisor caste and receives another 36 winters of lifespan along with greater responsibility. Supervisors of great diligence and sagacity can be promoted into the Gaon caste of lawgivers, judges and priests, responsible for maintaining the order of the hive and relations with the outside world. Gaons receive another 36 years of lifespan. But Kylvn paid attention to Shayol’s curse of god-addiction. He saw that, unchecked, order could become a mere fetish of homogeneity or pattern with no real use, rigid and self-destructive. So some supervisors are instead promoted into the Daimon caste of blasphemers, rebels and clowns, tasked with bringing a bit of Fox’s chaos into the hive to prevent complacency and create possibilities for new and better practices. They also receive a longer life. Either gaons and daimons can be promoted for merit into the fifth caste; but of this caste it is forbidden to speak, and no one below the rank of gaon or daimon is allowed even to know what it does. Finally, hives are ruled by a single silentiary of the sixth caste. These prophet-monarchs commune with Kylvn personally, and the Cold Lord is willing to make introductions to other gods if the need is proven. Prophet-monarchs can live up to 1,296 winters – no more. Then Kylvn gives them to Eternus. Kylvn finds Shayol and Tasha both tiresome, in their fashions, and so he did his utmost to insulate his people from their influence and their contest. Evil coming from The Female of the Species? Silentiaries are genderless; and as they reproduce asexually, they have no need or understanding of love. Three silentiaries can drain a bit of their cold, clear blood into an urn of ice filled with snow, which is sealed and quickened with music. After a turning of the year, the urn hatches as a young silentiary. Silentiaries can also reproduce by pure music. If five silentiaries play improvisationally and achieve a spontaneous moment of perfect harmony, a sixth silentiary appears, already adult, with knowledge gleaned from all five of its “parents.” These silentiaries, the Songborn, are gaon or daimon from birth. But gods are not balked. Tasha and Shayol both claim their due from the silentiaries. Shayol’s baleful power in the Helix made the silentiaries a plague unto all other intelligences – literally. Careless contact with a silentiary, especially with its blood, can induce a deadly disease in other folk. The victim gets colder and colder until he or she freezes. This is usually fatal, but about one in ten frozen victims crack to release a young silentiary with the person’s memories. Only the frost elves are immune, by the way the Fair Star made them. Tasha might say she levies no curses, but her influence likewise has a deadly effect. Mistletoe induces desire, but silentiaries cannot feel it. They go mad from the contradiction and probably die within a week if they do not kiss someone of another intelligent species… which merely triggers the second phase of the curse. The silentiary falls into a frozen coma, then splits several days later to release an individual of the kissed person’s species, retaining memories of his or her life as a silentiary but unable ever to return to the hive. As silentiaries largely keep to themselves, rumor about them flourishes. Tales say that silentiaries, playing in concert, have animated the surrounding reefs to massacre invaders with ten thousand blades and spears of ice – or even reshaped the hive as a titanic juggernaut that can crush dragons. Their leaders and magi are said to know strange magics as well, such as incarnating spirits in bodies of living frost. There are somewhat reliable stories of gaons extracting dreams and memories and storing them in ice-jewels… and daimons releasing those stored visions into the minds of other folk. It is even said, by those who claim to know more than other folk, that the silentiaries can control the curses of Tasha and Shayol to trap other folk in a chrysalis of ice and bring them forth as folk of another species – loyahs turned into cave elves, reynardi become humans. But few would dare to investigate these claims first-hand. The silentiaries are pariahs to most other folk, literally untouchable, for fear of their strange, icy contagion. Dean Shomshak
  6. I admit, I am of at least two minds. On the one and, yes, American culture fetishizes guns to an astonishing degree. Insurrection from any nationwide attempt at sudden, serious restriction or regulation is a real threat. Though bluntly, I think the odds are high of insurrection within the next 5 years anyway. A civil war disconnected from real economic or political issues -- only about mythology and identity. I hope I am proved wrong, but there seems to be a significant percentage of the population that is *flipping crazy* at the loss of their caste privileges and cherished myths of identity. OTOH, we do have the example of gay rights. There were predictions of civil war over that, too, and it didn't happen. First laws against homosexuality were rolled back. Society didn't collapse, either in a Gay Sex Orgy or an Evangelical crusade. Then a few states tried civil unions. Again, nothing happened. Then outright marriage. And what do you know, nothing happened. Finally the Supreme Court (narrowly) declared same-sex marriage had to be legal everywhere. And God did not smite the country as He smote Sodom and Gomorrah, neither did the Evangelicals rise up in armed rebellion and the military join them. Too many people realized they had friends and family who were gay, lesbian or bisexual, and they were just people instead of some abstract boogyman of "The Gay." A solid majority of Americans think same-sex marriage is just fine, and what's the big deal? Already, polling shows that a solid majority of Americans think some kind of tighter gun regulation is okay. So it may be possible to follow the same-sex marriage playbook. A few states or major cities institute small restrictions, such as on magazine size. There are lawsuits, some laws fail but some stand. Some politicians support these restrictions, the NRA fails to unseat them in the next election, and starts looking like a paper tiger. More regions institute more restrictions, and yet the people are neither crushed by jackbooted government thugs, nor massacred by brown criminals invading their homes! And the myth starts crumbling. Success is not assured. Like I said, we could still get a Seinfeldian civil war over nothing, or Donald Trump could secure de facto dictatorship. But all hope for improvement is not lost. Dean Shomshak
  7. I think all I have left is Kylvn's legendary guardian/mythic monster. I have soime thoughts on this and hope to finish soon. This has been a remarkable experience. I'm seeing people create myths that feel like myths. I'm even seeing theology. I hope I'll be able to participate again. Dean Shomshak
  8. Kylvn approves of the Frost Elves, but they are not truly his people. And so he created the Silentiaries. He sang them into existence from living frost, breathed souls into them, and finished the work with a great silence. Kylvn create hive insects and similar creatures as early attempts at orderly species, and the silentiaries build on those experiments. Silentiaries somewhat resemble oversized grasshoppers about six feet long, walking (or jumping) on four hind legs but with slender arms with three fingers each. They appear to be made of translucent, pale blue ice with glittering, crystalline compound eyes. Folk of other species find silentiaries very difficult to tell apart. They are cold as ice as well, and take no harm from even the greatest chill. One reason for their species name is that silentiaries cannot speak: They breathe through spiracles in their sides. They communicate through sign language. Their language can barely be managed at a crude level by creatures with only two arms; full fluency requires four. Though they have no voices, siloentiaries can make silences, and these flavor their sign-speech the way humans use gestures to emphasize their speech. They also love music. Their styles are intricate and contrapuntal, full of fugues and interlocking rhythms. These folk live in hives grown from living frost, labyrinthine and many-turreted, amid extensive ice-reefs. They mostly eat living ice, though they cannot survive for long without cold-tolerant ordinary crops such as turnips or rye. The farmland is of course tended collectively. Silentiaries rarely go far from their hives except in winter. Other seasons are at least unpleasant for them, and the hottest weather is deadly to them. In winter, though, silentiaries can travel far in vessels of living ice, animated and directed by music, that stride on a dozen jointed legs through the snow. They venture out to trade, to found new hives, or to perform special feats of ice-shaping for other folk. On rare occasions they are sought for their remarkable mental prowess, for every silentiary is highly trained at memory, observation and logic; or as musicians. But this is dangerous, and not just for the
  9. Vide my post about Ice Reefs, I hadn't defined mountaintops as cold, or have any knowledge that anyone else had done so. Kylvn did not insist upon it: Except for Winter, he leaves climate to Volcanis and the other gods. But he accepts Fox's decision that it be so, at least in Silyyaytsa. On seeing the new country, Kylvn smiles austerely and says, A gift divine this truly is, O Fox! And if some details be a trifle edged, As jests in names, or godly foibles tweaked, Why, Fox must e’er be Fox, as Kylvn must Be pompous. (Did I say those words aloud? Ahem. Pay them no heed.) Consistency Is in erratic way thy virtue chief. And if the residents must take some care In which notes they do sing? I still approve, For discipline is good for mortal souls. Be thou assured that I shall not forget, And count on Kylvn’s reciprocity. I seem to recall that "yaytsa" is Russian for "eggs." I shall have to look up the meaning of "silyy." Dean Shomshak
  10. Well, I'm told that J. K. Rowling is a billionaire because she wrote some books that a lot of people liked, and had the luck or foresight to insist in the copntract that she get a cut of any spin-off profits from merch and movies. I don't see how she robbed or cheated anyone. An unusual case to be sure, but it's an "existence proof." If one can exist, so can others. It's why I no longer feel outrage at high-paid athletes or entertainers, when so many obviously more worthy people toil for modest wage. Consider everyone who enjoys watching, say, LeBron James play basketball. Millions ever game. Imagine each one of them could pay ten cents directly to him in appreciation. Clearly, he soon becomes a very rich man. And can one say that each of those millions did not receive ten cents' worth of pleasure? Repeat for actors, musicians, etc. I am willing to extend this exercise to providers of other goods and services, dividing profit gained by the value gained by others. BUT... In such cases, everyone in the supply chain for providing those goods and services has a right to a share as well. If the business model that makes a few people very rich depends on keeping most people's wages artificially low, there is certainly unfairness that should e corrected. Or if the wealth comes from rent-seeking rather than honest competiton for customers. Returning to J. K. Rowling, it is likely she would not be as wealthy as she is if all the people making the Harry Potter merch in Third World countries were paid a share rather than, well, Third World factory wages. But she would still be very rich. I see the problem as less that some few people are so very rich as that so many are so very poor. And that their poverty is not an unfortunate natural event, but deliberately created by those who would rather extract wealth than create it. Dean Shomshak
  11. Oh, and if anyone wonders how silence can be a thing instead of a mere absence, I offer these words from The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, a better writer than I could ever hope to be: ----- PROLOGUE A Silence of Three Parts IT WAS NIGHT AGAIN. The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts. The most obvious part was a hollow, echoing quiet, made by things that were lacking. If there had been a wind it would have sighed through the trees, set the inn's sign creaking on its hooks, and brushed the silence down the road like trailing autumn leaves. If there had been a crowd, even a handful of men inside the inn, they would have filled the silence with conversation and laughter, the clatter and clamor one expects from a drinking house during the dark hours of night. If there had been music . . . but no, of course there was no music. In fact there were none of these things, and so the silence remained. Inside the Waystone a pair of men huddled at one corner of the bar. They drank with quiet determination, avoiding serious discussions of troubling news. In doing this they added a small, sullen silence to the larger, hollow one. It made an alloy of sorts, a counterpoint. The third silence was not an easy thing to notice. If you listened for an hour, you might begin to feel it in the wooden floor underfoot and in the rough, splintering barrels behind the bar. It was in the weight of the black stone hearth that held the heat of a long dead fire. It was in the slow back and forth of a white linen cloth rubbing along the grain of the bar. And it was in the hands of the man who stood there, polishing a stretch of mahogany that already gleamed in the lamplight. The man had true-red hair, red as flame. His eyes were dark and distant, and he moved with the subtle certainty that comes from knowing many things. The Waystone was his, just as the third silence was his. This was appropriate, as it was the greatest silence of the three, wrapping the others inside itself. It was deep and wide as autumn's ending. It was heavy as a great river-smooth stone. It was the patient, cut-flower sound of a man who is waiting to die. ----- I don't know how spirit magic works. That's for Liminus to decide. But if magic words are involved -- words being things of both worlds, material sound and immaterial meaning -- I propose that magic silences be involved, too. Dean Shomshak
  12. But why does Living Frost count as flora or fauna? Because if you don't fix its form with a silence, it keeps growing on its own. And this gives Kylvn his contribution to the landscape. Geography: Ice Reefs. Living Frost can appear spontaneously from people singing in a snowstorm, or a chance harmony of winds whistling through cracks in a rock. It's small at first, but if nothing breaks it and it survives the passing seasons to the next winter, it grows. Not fast, but it grows and new forms appear. In time the patch of living frost resembles a coral reef: a mass of odd lumps, branches and fern-like sprays of ice, riddles with crevices and little caves where the wind can make more music and keep the reef growing. People may destroy a nascent ice reef because they don't want it freezing and taking over their farmland. Kylvn understands, and has no desire for his creation to trespass and disrupt the domains of Liminus or Nogrom. But in some places the reefs grow miles wide and hundreds of feet high. (And villages may tend a small walled ice-garden so they have ice year-round, and a place to cool off in the hottest times of the year.) Okay, my first thought for Kylvn's geography was mountaintops. Nobody's mentioned mountains IIRC; and a rim of mountains would keep seas and rivers from draining off the edge of the Helix. And ice castles on glacier-clad peaks were tempting. But it was still too obvious and too Earth-like. The Helix may have a raised rim and possibly mountains elsewhere, but they are not Kylvn's doing. Dean Shomshak
  13. Since I'm falling behind, I'll keep this one short. No b;lank verse, sorry. Is it flora, fauna, or ore? A bit of all three, as Kylvn gives the world Living Frost. A great musician can set the snowflakes dancing in patterns, and the ice crystals growing in chosen forms. It grows like the traceries of frost but can leave a surface to grow up and out, denser, until solid objects are formed. Then the form can be locked in place using powerful, intense silence -- for as cold in this world is not merely absence of feat, silence is not merely absence of sound. Once set in this manner, living frost becomes as hard as stone -- nowhere near as hard as adamantite, of course, more like marble -- and has a melting point comparable to silver. Given time, castles or entire towns can be built of living frost. If I had a picture of Crystal Castle from the end of The Dark Crystal, I'd post it here. Dean Shomshak
  14. Long overdue but unlikely to happen, even discounting that Trump finds them useful. Back in the Obama administration -- I think it was during the Bundy Ranch standoff -- I heard that the FBI has a policy of never going after these far-right extremists for fear of provoking a worse, more violent backlash. They call it "Weaver fever": Many believe the Ruby Ridge standoff against Randy Weaver, followed by the Branch Davidian standoff, led to the Oklahoma City bombing. Now, I think coddling the fringe in this way only encourages them: It looks weak: Their anger feeds on itself, while perceived weakness increases contempt and confidence that they can get away with violent acts. So we might as well have it out and deal with any resulting insurrection, because -- as the Anti-Defamation League essay A Dark and Constant Rage points out -- this political poison has been around for decades. It isn't going away on its own. Dean Shomshak
  15. Ah! Thank you, I was going to ask what the time frame was for completion. I believe I've worked out all my choices, but I've held back to see what other people were doing. Half the fun is riffing off other people's ideas. Kylvn observes Shayol's work with new displeasure. An initial thought of how to respond in mitigation is rejected, as Shayol's curse would too easily twist it to the opposite end. But he does reflect that shared displeasure may prompt various gods to work together in opposing the curse. Since I have found that one of Kylvn's goals, as God of Order, is to reunite and stabilize what Inscissivus has cut apart, this pleases him. Shayol may have furthered this goal. He raises his glass to Shayol and smiles slightly. (Or maybe it's to Tasha. Like he said, he has trouble telling them apart.) Dean Shomshak
  16. But of course. People cannot play chess with Death without chess. And Kylvn likes those nice, orderly boards. Dean Shomshak
  17. Thus spake Kylvn: Inscissivus hath cloven silence: Sounds Were thus created, from the scuttled step Of Shayol’s cockroach to the dragon’s roar, Volcanis’ thunder, clink of Nogrom’s coins, The final gasp of love or death, the snore Of sleeping dreamers, Fox’s yipping laugh! Infinity of sounds! Though in between My silence still shall reign, I, Kylvn, claim A certain class of sounds to be mine own: Sounds given order to be more than sound. Let rhyme and meter temper speech to verse, And ratio harmonize the twanging string Or pulsing tube of air; let overtones Give sweetness unto sounds, and rhythm tune The cymbal’s crash, the tabor’s tap, and so Compel the feet to dance! A unity Of movement wrought without the threat of force: An order taken for its own sweet sake! Let this be Kylvn’s gift to mortal kinds, And even to his fellow gods, for they Shall hear the pleas and praises unto them Ascend in music, holy verse, and song. Tl;dr: Kylvn’s gift to civilization is ordered sound, encompassing poetry, music and dance, as no clear line can be drawn between them. Dean Shomshak
  18. (And yes, it has been suggested to us that we should rent out the house so J. P. can't try moving in again. That's not the point. We thought we lived in a country where your property is your property even when you aren't there personally to guard it. Apparently not.) Dean Shomshak
  19. My brother says he's never liked guns, or the sort of people who fetishize them. But he now admits he has a better idea of why a sane and responsible person would want to own one. My mother still owns the little farmhouse where she grew up. She hopes to pass it to my sisters when she dies. My brother visits every couple weeks to do mow the grass and do other maintenance, though sometimes it's not possible for more than a month. The house's neighbors know him by now. Last September, we got a letter from one of those neighbors asking, "Someone's living in your house. He acts strange. He says he inherited it. Is this true?" No, it wasn't. We had a squatter: a felon who'd been in jail for several years on several charges, including drug abuse, with mental issues as well. Turns out the sheriff's department knew him well. They said they'd actually been out to the house before, at the neighbor's request, but the man -- I'll just use his initials, J. P. -- gave a story about inheriting the property, with names of our relatives, and no obvious criminal activity was taking place, so they left him. With our assurance that no, J. P. did not have our permission to live there, the deputies eventually caught him on the premises and arrested him. When my brother drove out, he found that J. P. had tossed the house, stolen a bunch of stuff, and ripped up floorboards and part of the attic. Items stolen included the LPs and record player he brought there. Realizing there was only one place nearby those could be sold, he went to the local antique store and, yup, there were his records and a bunch more of the stolen items. J. P. had invited the store owner in to buy whatever he wanted. Fortunately, my brother also knew the owner for many years from buying used records, so we were able to get most of the items back. But the shop owner was able to explain why J. P. was tearing up floorboards. He thought there was Klondike gold hidden somewhere iun the house! Still, J. P. was under arrest, caught red-handed. Problem solved, right? Wrong. A judge released him the next day. Over the next few months he returned to the house to fish in the cesspit with a magnet, dig up flowerbeds, steal the chunks of opalized petrified wood my sister used to mark the graves of her dead cats, move the cross and statue of St. Francis, hack at one of the chimneys, and otherwise intrude. At least he can't get in the house anymore -- my niece and nephew-in-law changed the locks and installed an alarm system. Despite the overwhelming evidence of J. P.'s continued trespass, though, the cops say there's no point in arresting him again. He'll just be out the next day because the charges aren't serious enough. J. P. was arraigned, but God only knows when the trial will be held. At the time, the county D.A. said, J. P. was already awaiting trial for other charges from 2018. It's really discouraging when cops tell you, "The system is broken." My brother still makes his visits to tend the property, but he does not feel safe doing so. It's hard to feel safe when you know there's a deranged drug addict who thinks that your house is his house, and reportedly boasted that he's going to take over the neighborhood with his weapons and live there with his girlfriend. And any cops are a half hour away. And that's why my brother says he understands why people own guns. Dean Shomshak
  20. Ah -- to put it in brief, Winter is Kilvn's Interference, because it's implemented as a modification of the Integral Tree. It also trespasses a bit on Liminus' domain of Time by defining what a year is in this world without a sun, but that's secondary. I hope Csyphrett will enjoy the image of the Integral Tree creating winter through big blossoms of ice. Maybe this is how the Tree cre4ates all the seasons, each season with its own flower. And these do not need to be limited to the seasons we have on Earth! Dean Shomshak
  21. Isn't that the God of Evil's line? Anyway, a little thought and a bit of writing persuade me I have something Pariah might not find too unworthy of Kylvn. Sociotard: If you want to make Frost Elves anyway, I don't object. If it's okay with Death Tribble as administrator of this Superdraft, it's okay with me. ------------ Kylvn speaks seldom at the banquets of the Gods. Thus some were surprised when he rose and spake: Attend, my holy siblings, friends and foes: An aspect of the World I now ordain. To some an interference cutting deep (Thou seest what I did, Inscissivus!) And yet it may become a gift to all. With thee, O Liminus, I interfere: A span of time I claim, in which My chill Pervadest all the turnings of the World. Recurring cyclical in such a way That all shall feel its shiver many times; And “Winter” I decree shall be its name; A time of dearth for mortals, hunger, fear; And yet a time of comfort by the fire For those who plan and their provisions store. But this my gift to you, O Liminus: In care shall mortals count thy passing days, From winter’s start to winter’s start, that they Might thus prepare; and this, my greater span I do propose that We should call a “Year.” And thee, Volcanis, also meddlest I, Thy weather to become My vehicle: With snow and driving hail on bitter winds, And yet the billows on Thy seas be stilled And silent for a season, ‘neath the ice. But greater still My meddling! For the Tree Integral shall be herald of my time When it put forth great blossoms all of ice From whence as perfume doth My winter come! And yet you may some consolation find, For though My winter comest without fail, Still Thou decidest where the blizzard falls. And as I workest through Thy sacred Tree, The precedent is set and order giv’n: So must the other Gods, if They as well Their seasons would define within the Year. And to you other Gods these gifts I give, That Winter may be pleasing to you all: Inscissivus, the Seasons honor Thee By Time dividing into different spans. And mortals in their combats may discern That Winter is a weapon for the wise To wield against an over-reckless foe. Let Nogram be assured that Winter brings To mortals care for weight and measure, that Day by cautious day they calculate Their provender, that they may have enough To last the unforgiving Winter through. And if by carelessness or unkind chance They find their sums made wrong… Then, Eternus, Their lives do pass unto Thine empery. To Tasha and to Shayol, I confess, I often cannot tell you two apart. Yet both may find in Winter something dear: For in this time of hardship mortals shall Their choices make and characters define. Perhaps they shall be generous, show love, And place the morsel in another’s mouth Despite their belly’s ache and selfish growl. Or callousness display with sumptuous feast While hungering neighbors shiver by the door. To Andrea, I offer only this: That in a time of hard reality, A dream may be the only comfort left And so its preciousness be made more great. To the Fair Star, alas, I little give. My inspiration fails; I have but this: The Cave Elves, living underground, Shall Winter never know: I make no claim Upon their subterranean demesne. And last to Fox, whom I know skulketh near, Unseen, yet seen with Reason’s inner eye, I offer this — a simple gift for one Of simple tastes — Which You shall understand When next you see a mortal strive to walk Upon My ice — and I need say no more! Dean Shomshak
  22. I had intended merely to be a spectator (and occasional kibitzer), but I had in idea for something to do with the God of Cold. I'll let you know in a few hours if I'm able to assume Pariah's duties as the god's developer. Dean Shomshak
  23. If you haven't seen it already, you (and anyone else interested in geologically plausible worlds) may be interested in the Paleomap Project of geologist Chris Scotese. Reconstructed geographies of Earth going back hundreds of millions of years -- and a few speculations about plausible future positions of the continents. Add a Savage Earth-style tilt and you could get some highly realistic, yet nigh-unrecognizalle, unearthly Earths. http://www.scotese.com/ My "Magozoic" D&D settng uses Pangea Ultima, the Earth of 250 million years in the future. Dean Shomshak
  24. I've visited a little bit of British Columbia: a wonderful beach called Kye Bay on Vancouver Island. Nearest town was, IIRC, Comox. The family used to vacation there when I was young. Once a week, the motel owner did an excellent pancake breakfast. I wonder what happened to that place. OTOH all I remember from the passing through Vancouver, BC is a maze of one-way streets and forced turns designed by a deranged sadist. Dean Shomshak
  25. Playing "Who's the expy?" can get complicated when you look at characters from more than one angle. Take Superman for example. A Superman homage in the CU could be... -- A character who has a similar power level and powerset; -- A character who has a similar origin story (subtypes: alien raised on Earth, or last survivor of deastroyed planet); or -- A character who shows a similar personality or mythic role: a living embodiment of the goodness of the common man. Maybe other angles, too. Dean Shomshak
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