Court of the Wise seems to be a dramatic thriller with subtle political overtones. However, it is believed by some loremasters, nethermancers, and conspiracy buffs, that the book's true author was a Demon, and that the book is acutally a political satire of Hell. Go to Comment
Going quickly from dry autobiography, to pedantic description of building a house, to horror/sci-fi, House is the story of the author's descent into madness. As the titular house continues to expand beyond the original architectural designs, it seems (at least to the author) to expand into other realities as well. That the author's mind became unhinged during the building process is evidenced by personal daily details becoming fewer (wife, mother, and children aren't mentioned past page 405), with more minute details of the construction process taking the fore. By the end of the book the author has lost all sense of time and reality, and is fully convinced that the house has become a living evil thing. Go to Comment
Another thing to consider is that any time two linguistically different cultures encounter one another, they will borrow words. This is most commonly used for concepts previously unknown to one, such as an item invented by only one of the cultures, but is nearly as often used as new synonyms.
Languages also change over time. These can be quite sweeping, as terms come and go, cultures divide lingustically & reconverge to borrow new words. Alphabetic writing systems mitigate this somewhat, as a written document can outlive a speaker & be copied or travelled widely. However, this introduces some new complications, as both spellings and pronunciations can change over time, and affect one another. Go to Comment
Like all good advice, I am going to give what I failed to follow: quit. Quit now while you are behind. Don't look back. Realise that the fantasy of starting your own game company belongs in an rpg, itself.
Game design is like all writing (or singing, or acting, for that matter) in that most people think that they can do it, but very few people can do it well. Also just like acting, writing, or singing, it is never obvious to the person doing the game design just how horrible they are at it. Everyone else can tell you are really bad, but you never can. Fail.
If you want to run a successful business, do so. If you want to make games, by all means, please do so. Just don't get the two confused. Go to Comment
Would these be any kin to the harbinger birds?
Quote from: "Death: The Pale Horse" Some who live in the northeast of the Byzant Empire feel that a harbinger bird that finds its way into someone's home and sings its sad dirge, foretells the death of an inhabitant within a few days. Interestingly, these birds are not harmed they are seen as messengers rather than causes of death and the belief is that killing the bird means the death of everyone in the house. Besides, if two harbinger birds get into the house and sing, then they bring good luck and prosperity.
This is pretty much how I envisioned the harbingers, lacking only the large-flock aggressive behaviour. Go to Comment
Heldannic Confederation: last night's left-overs for breakfast, as there is little wasted by these frugal people, and many meals are stewed--coffee is considered the most important food group for breakfast
Killian Empire: eel & eggs--of all varieties--are the most common breakfast, with the former typically raw, and the latter often beaten, cooked into strips, and wrapped around something else
Kingdom of Formour: quite similar to a western-style breakfast with cereal (milk still warm & creamy), chicken or duck eggs, and as often as not, some type of grain-based fried food, such as pancakes or egg-battered toast--Heldannic coffee is becoming popular
Elven Homeland: not much, some fruit or juice typically
Byzant Empire: small spicy pastries, prepared the night before, or small breakfast fish covered in various sauces, are common to northeastern Byzant
Elder Kingdoms: varies widely based on culture--some have large meals, some barely anything at all for breakfast
Northern Protectorate: S.O.S. usually with stale bread, salty pork sausages, and bits of other foods with long shelf lives; this is mixed with foods common to the various soldiers' homelands--especially the Heldannic Confederation & Killian Empire
Orckish Highlands: whatever (or whomever) you strangled last night... that was trying to kill & eat you; Lowland Orcks hope for small game trapped over the previous night; most Orcks don't eat breakfast, which might explain their generally surly attitudes
Ogre Tribes: Plains Ogres have a traditional sunrise meal of a cricket-like insect & its leavings; Forest Ogres don't have nearly enough of that breakfast for a full meal (especially given the typical Ogre's size), and supplement it with raw eggs, nuts, & fruits
Firps: dispite their swampy homeland, Firps love shelfish early in the morning; marsh-dwelling crabs & oysters are preferred, and nearly everyone has a sticky sheet that they leave out at night to catch juicy bugs for breakfast
Whale oil--imagine a whale with a derrick on its head... One city in the Byzant Empire uses natural gas to light up the city streets. Some of the larger Elven homes are open enough to allow a minimum of light to be used within. The Elven Homeland has a nice climate year-round, so spacious homes with lots of windows are feasible. Also, some homes are designed to allow the maximum sun &/or moonlight in, with carefully placed skylights. There have been a few recent discoveries of ancient Dwarven mountain kingdoms (lost during the oppression by the Olde Empire), that used a form of fiber optics to channel light throughout. Mostly, everyone just uses good old fashioned fire for light, whether in the form of kerosene, coal, whale oil, candles, or wood. Throughout much of the more heavily Gothic cities of Formour and Byzant, the cities are lit most of the night by shops open late, with normal flames (lamps, et al) providing enough light to navigate to it.
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There's a magical tradition in the works for an upcomming Midian book along these lines. From a non-magical viewer's perspective, there isn't a difference between pulling a rabbit out of a hat, and summoning that same beast via a magic circle. If anything, the stage magician's "spell" appears more magical due to the theatrical flourishes, as opposed to spending hours carefully drawing a circle, encoding the sigils, and chanting for an even greater period just so that a rabbit "happens" along & hops into the circle.
As for using magic to enhance other types of theatrical performances, such as a play or a band, this is an interesting new twist, and one I need to think about further... Go to Comment
The "official" named organisations of Midian, in no particular order
Church if the Rising Night, Atrum Ortus (fan creation): once a secret society, now a cult, dedicated to the destruction of the Undead
Darklings: dubbed the "Gothic Mafia" by some players; dabblers in social control, and backed by assassins; source of the Phantom classes
Way of the Blade Guild (fan creation): the first & foremost Midianite adventurer's guild; based in Argent, Formour
Shadowed Skulls (fan creation): a treasure-hunting, training, and mercenary guild; perhaps the most influential in Midian
Rolling Iron Guild (fan creation): trading/mercenary guild; transports expensive & dangerous cargo
Sundered Guild (fan creation): public-relations guild for Orcks, Ogres, Hobgoblins, and Trolls
Knights of the Temple: holy order of nights belonging to the Temple of Light, one of two such knightly orders of that church
Crimson Order of the Knights of the Shadows: also known as the Death Knights or Shadow Lords; this order of knights-errant are vile mercenaries who dabble in necromancy
Syndic's Union: formed by mutual agreement of disparate Syndics by Claxxon; this allows for something quite similar to international banking in Midian
BlackGuard's Warband/BlackGuard's Armada (fan creation): two names for the same mercenary force, depending on whether encountered on land or sea; this army was the one that encountered the Orcks during the Scourge War, and now runs the Northern Protectorate in Osterre
House Obsidrian: an influential, but fairly typical Elven Great House; responsible for siring Volgor, the necromancer Go to Comment
I would implement this with a big list of possible suggestions, rather than a random chart. Different varieties of spells could have some examples, but I would personally prefer to use general ideas to select and modify as needed.
Another idea to take into consideration is that the rifts don't have to go one way. That is, they may be reversed so as to steal the desired element instead. For example, a failed fire spell may instead cause cold as the heat is drawn out. Alternately, the wrong plane can be accessed: an earth spell to repair a stone wall can instead have the hole patched with white essence, granting the wall a form of pseudo-life. Go to Comment
An alternate solution, not as good but applicable if the number of players or the degree of polarization is lacking, e.g. only one player is an excessive Roleplay Nazi:
Rule Monger: Decide results without using the dice. This especially works to shock and confuse them in situations where the dice are used extensively, such as combat. Doing this in small doses often helps those who overly rely upon the little plastic polyhedra to realise that there's more to the game than dice. For truly difficult cases (e.g. the guy who has to roll dice to determine pizza toppings), entire sessions may need to be played diceless.
Roleplay Nazi: Coldly and ruthlessly enforce the game's rules. You don't want to stop them from roleplaying, you just want them to realise that there's more to being a good player than one's thespian abilities. For example, after an in-character bit of dialogue to an NPC, state "that was a great speech--that's good enough for a +3 on the roll."
Interruptions: There are two ways to handle a player who interrupts excessively. The sneakiest is the Bait-and-Catch method. This is where you start a description with something geared to get a response from the problem player, and end with an obstacle. If the player interrupts, you can continue your description appropriately, if desired. For example:
GM: "You open the door to the vault, gold bars stacked nearly to the ceiling..."
Player: "I start unloading them onto the cart."
GM: "... And as the alarms sound when you break the sensor laser, guards rush in with weapons drawn, pinning (Player) to the wall."
The second method is simpler in theory, but more difficult to put into actual use: ignore the problem player's interruptions. Pretend you didn't hear what they said & continue whatever you were saying without pause. If you ask the troupe what their plans/responses are, and the interrupting player doesn't respond at that (appropriate) time, then he or she must not really want to do anything then. If the problem player interrupts another, specifically ask the non-problem player to repeat him- or herself. Only when you have responses from everyone, only then do you turn to the problem player--who may have been trying to state his or her actions the entire time.
In many ways, the actions of the players reflect those of the GM. If the GM engages in bad habits, roleplays insufficiently, or arbitrarily ignores rules, then the players cannot be strongly faulted for doing so. In other words, if you want your players to roleplay more, et al. then do so yourself. The GM sets the standard for the troupe in most cases, especially as regards roll/role balance, table talk, etc. Go to Comment
The key has long since been lost, but what if there was something locked inside of it? Perhaps the cabinet contains the remains of Malisso's lost love are inside, wrapped in a thick cloth so that it would not be heard if shaken, and hidden behind a false pannel. Her restless spirit could be responsible for the ill luck. Go to Comment
I use something similar to the above. Reputation is a simple percentile-based mechanic, but could--and perhaps should--be expanded. Statuses are descriptive labels. Reputation is if they know you, status is how they know you. The mechanics are linked as the number of statuses is added to the effective reputation score.
Both mechanics are used as rewards for players, and can easily be used as a back-handed reward, such as a thief or assassin becomming too well-recognised, or statuses that don't seem like nice labels (e.g. Unholy, Untrustable, or Vengeful). Statuses are also used for climbing the social ladder. In some areas, nobility can be earned by having certain statuses, and higher levels achieved with additional. Go to Comment
On a related note, contacts can be highly useful rewards. Sometimes, knowing the right people is better than having the item, information, fame, money, etc. It's also a great power base; after all, why do something yourself when you can have it done for you?
Contacts can have useful skills, beneficial positions (not necessarily the person in charge), important information, monetary aid (and the willingness to lend it), material resources (e.g. a ship for the group to travel fast & cheap), political support, or even useful contacts of their own.
This is also good for the GM as plot hooks, because the relationship works both ways. If the players ask their contacts for favours, then the contacts may ask the pc's for favours in return. This adds to the immersion in the game, and helps maintain a long-term flow of the campaign by including recurrent NPC's, as opposed to simply stringing together adventures. Go to Comment