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Fantasy Drinking
Items  (Potion)   (Non-Magical)
Kinslayer's comment on 2006-10-31 02:29 PM
The best coffee in Midian is grown in the Heldannic Confederation, with Formourian coffee being the most commonly brewed, as much for its greatly reduced cost as for its ready availability. Due to the cold climate, there are few places in the Confederation where coffee can be grown in sufficient quantities. Mostly this is around active volcanoes, which only serves to increase its cost.

Dwarven brandy is quickly gaining in popularity throughout the world, also from the Heldannic Confederation. The Dwarves also consider their beer to be the absolute greatest, but they usually think this about all things Dwarven.

Tea is the drink of choice in the Killian Empire. Unlike the proper tea common to Formour & Byzant, Killian tea is brewed from a small range of varieties. It is uniformly clear, bitter, potently caffinated, and served at only a scant few degrees below boiling. It's enough to get a cold-blooded Killian (they are a reptilian people) out of a frosty morning daze & on her way to work with a toothy grin & a pulse of 190+. In other words, they could sell "nickel bags" of the stuff on the streets...

Elven wine is an export of three different Great Houses. It is typically a red blend (only one House makes a white, and even it does not sell as much), with floral, herbal, and fruity overtures & bouquet. It is light and sweet tasting, with very little tannins for a red blend. It is rumoured that the wines are in fact flavoured with various fruits & flowers, but the Elves aren't revealing any secrets to outsiders. It is a common enough drink for Elves outside of their Homeland, but gained greatly in popularity after the Elves reopened their borders. Prior to that event, the already limited quantities of the stuff dwindled dramatically, and prices increased accordingly. With the reopening of the Elven Homeland's borders, sales increased sharply, but at still somewhat inflated prices. It is favoured by some Humans under the rather faulty premise of "everything Elven is better." It is often given to Elven visitors by foreign hosts, not realising that this is the same wine that is commonplace back home to them, and that the most common reason for Elves to travel is to seek new experiences.

It can be said of the "capriola" of the Hobgoblins is an acquired taste. It can also be accurately said that one who enjoys capriola has no taste. This thick--sometimes clumpy--alcoholic drink is brewed from fermented goats' milk. There is a variety of ways to brew it, each resulting in different textures, level of alcohol, and taste (all of them bad). These range from lazy-lambic styles--let it sit out & hope for the best, to multiple distillation similar to creating vodka. It is as foul tasting as one would imagine alcoholic & soured goats' milk to be, but is enjoyed by Goblin & Hobgoblin alike, especially the latter. It has often been wondered if Hobgoblins really enjoy the stuff, or if they simply drink it to proove their courage. Then again, perhaps the strategy is to stay intoxicated--after enough drinks, you no longer care that you are drinking fermented goats' milk. Go to Comment
Afterlife
Articles  (Setting Building)   (Gaming - In General)
Kinslayer's comment on 2006-10-09 04:29 PM
Cultural Views of the Afterlife

Reprinted from Death: The Pale Horse, Lost Souls Publishing

Killian typically fear ghosts, but not their own deaths. The culture is one where you are reminded of your own mortality often, but not in a morbid fashion. Killian get an early brush with death, in that most of the eggs laid do not successfully hatch. Bushi-Killian in particular have a phrase that they often think or say upon rising each day, "today I may die." Killian think of death as a total end; anything that cheats that inevitable conclusion is unwelcome. Killian view the afterlife as something akin to a deep sleep or coma, when they think of it at all. Even followers of the Red God feel this way. They do not share in the vision of an eternal tavern - that philosophy is only common to the religion's Human and Dwarven adherents. Killian rarely pursue careers involving death, other than warriors. Morticians and butchers are subtilely, and unconsciously, avoided. In this warrior culture where death is a constant factor, few are willing to deal with it other than at the point of a blade. Rarely does one encounter a Killian necropolitan, or other expert worker with death.

Ghosts are considered abhorrent by the Killian for one simple reason: you cannot kill them. If one is able to return in such a fashion, they are a power to be reckoned with. If a warrior strikes with his sword immediately upon being awakened, how much more wrathful would one be if aroused from eternal rest?

Many Heldanns, and most Dwarves throughout Midian, are not strongly religious and do not believe in an afterlife. For them, dead is dead. Followers of the Red God however, have large numbers in those cold lands. They envision that one who is worthy joins a great feast of heroes after they die. Those who died gloriously in battle are the most honoured, followed by those who lived exemplary lives. Those who died cowardly are doomed to spend eternity as servers of the fallen warriors. A common insult of someone's bravery is to tell them that you are going to make them your eternal serving wench in the afterlife.

Humans, Dwarves, and Trolls of the Heldannic confederation feel that one's deeds will reflect directly upon future generations. This is certainly true in many respects, such as: social status, reputation, or finances. Moreover, to these proud folk, one's worth is measured in large part by one's parents & grandparents. Few are willing to disrespect their legacy, and fewer still are willing to leave their children & grandchildren a legacy of ill repute.

In the Kingdom of Formour, the afterlife is viewed as something rather pleasant, at least this is the official story you will hear if you ask the average citizen his or her opinions. Of course, everyone is creeped out by the thought of death, and afraid of the deaths of themselves or their loved ones - certain necropolitans being a notable exception. The main religion in that land - the Temple of Light - views death as a merging with The Light for the faithful. Of course, death is a painful time of loss for those still living. The Book of the Cannon says, "Shed tears for your loss, but not for your loved one, for they have joined with The Light in eternal oneness and bliss" (Sermon of Mammon the Prophet after the Battle of Jerich, Chapter 7, verses 13 & 14). Even those Formourians who are not baptised LightWalkers are still affected - inversely - by the culture of this powerfully influential church. Many of them feel that there isn't some indefinable "better place" that they will travel to when dead. This counterview of the church's stand on the afterlife is one of the chief tools of converting the unbelievers. Then again, a loss of identity and sense of "self" after death is one of the main arguments used against the Mammonites.

Ogres and Firps have a similar "return to the source" theme for their afterlife beliefs. For them, death is simply another state of being - one to be postponed as long as possible of course - but an essential part of the life-cycle nonetheless. While the concept of blissful eternity in spirit form in another plane of existence is foreign to their native religions, their shamans and witch-doctors teach about the decaying body returning its life to the world.

At least one small vile cult amongst the Orcks have taken this one step further and more directly, by eating the flesh of their fallen foes as part of their religious observance. They feel that they are consuming the life and the strength of a worthy enemy. The typical Orck view on death is much simpler: dead is dead. The Orcks don't have any views on the afterlife. These pragmatic folk don't see a corpse as anything other than an object - or possibly dinner. While one's deeds may live on in stories, their corpse is just more junk to throw into the river. Orcks do not have the same care for how they are perceived after death that the Heldanns do - after all, you're dead, what would you care? How would you care? They generally find the thought of transcendence to another level after death just as distasteful as would a Formourian atheist. It's not a form of selfishness, but rather one of practical apathy: death is the end of worries (and everything else). More specifically from an Orckish perspective, the death of an enemy means that you no longer have to worry about him. It is worth noting that necropolitans are extraordinarily rare among Orcks. It is even more interesting that reports of spectral activity are also rather rare from them - Orck children don't tell ghost stories around the campfire. They have much more immediate concerns with problems from the living.

Hobgoblins do not have the richness of cultural elements regarding the afterlife that others do, even Humans have greater diversity and depth to their beliefs. This stems in part from their immortal Fae heritage. To their Goblinfolk ancestors, death was something that occurred because you did something terribly wrong, like pissing off the wrong person. In their early development as a people they were surrounded by immortal semi-spirit beings: Elves, Fairies, Pixies, and of course Goblins. As they distanced themselves and generations passed, this early involvement began to shape an informal type of spiritualism. Elves watching carefully from the trees & handed-down memories of their odd ways resulted in a general paranoia with things unseen in the "spirit world." With knowledge gained from stories of Elementals, they learned that even the rocks and streams could house unseen presences. Hobgoblins generally have neither the aptitude nor desire for things mystical, so there was no curiosity or attempts to control these unseen forces. These were things best left alone. When the Hobgoblins first forged the Olde Empire, they had not encountered other beings like them - Humans had not yet arrived on the scene, Trolls were viewed only as monsters, Dwarves were not discovered until the fifth century of the Empire (and enslaved by the end of the sixth), and all other races the Hobgoblins knew about were immortal - with the decided lack of views on the afterlife that condition brings. As such, the Hobgoblins did not have any other cultures with which to share or borrow belief structures. The resulting Hobgoblin belief system is difficult to codify with regards to their views on the afterlife, or death in general - other than that they got very good at causing it. Go to Comment
and a ten foot pole.
Items  (Equipment Listing)   (Heroic)
Kinslayer's comment on 2008-01-24 05:00 PM
98) Water

This goes with the water gun, spray bottle, and some other submissions. You can drink it. In fact, all living things must drink it. It's useful for washing, cooking, putting out fires, cleaning equipment, cooling engines, cooling yourself (dampen a cloth & put it on the back of your neck), and acts as a solvent or mixer for just about any substance. Go to Comment
and a ten foot pole.
Items  (Equipment Listing)   (Heroic)
Kinslayer's comment on 2008-01-24 06:17 PM
99) Pencil

The importance of writing implements has been addressed previously, but this little item has multiple benefits. As a writing tool, it doesn't dry out, and the amount left in its useful life is readily apparent. Plus, it works in zero gravity without costing a small fortune for a special pen. It even works underwater.

Pencils can also be used in crime scene investigations. Writing a phone number, name, et cetera, on a pad leaves an impression on the sheets under it. Lightly going over the top blank page can reveal the message. In addition, pencil lead can be used as an improvised fingerprint kit, either to take prints of a person, or off of an object (when ground into powder).

Keys, coins, and other items can be recorded using an impression on a piece of paper with a pencil. Place the paper over the object & rub the pencil over it lightly.

The graphite in pencil lead also makes a great waterless & greaseless lubricant, when ground into fine powder. Even carefully twisting a pencil into a stuck lock can grind enough off to make it again operational.

As an improvised weapon, pencils are sharp and hard enough to penetrate Human skin. They are designed to fit a person's hand very well, and are mostly hidden by a fist. I cannot imagine any law enforcement officer (or guard, or thug) who will consider it an implement of destruction. As an added bonus, you can psychologically torture your stabbing victim (or at least the less intelligent ones) by telling them they now have lead poisoning... Go to Comment
and a ten foot pole.
Items  (Equipment Listing)   (Heroic)
Kinslayer's comment on 2008-01-24 06:21 PM
You can fix ANYTHING with a hammer. If it still doesn't work, you'll fix it for good... Go to Comment
and a ten foot pole.
Items  (Equipment Listing)   (Heroic)
Kinslayer's comment on 2008-01-24 06:23 PM
Also, you'll always have change: bus fare, pay phones (they still exist in some worlds), throw to beggar children for a distraction, et cetera. Go to Comment
and a ten foot pole.
Items  (Equipment Listing)   (Heroic)
Kinslayer's comment on 2008-01-24 06:50 PM
100) Entrenching Tool

Aluminum handled & steel bladed, this is an essential part of a soldier's kit. Entrenching tools--e-tools for short--have been in use since the Roman Legions. The e-tool folds up into a small package, & comes with a carrying case designed to fit on a belt or rucksack. Not only does it dig holes, but with the handle folded at a ninety-degree angle & locked into place, it makes a fair axe or weapon. The sort I used only weighs 1.12 kg (2.46 lbs). The most recent version is half that weight. Typically they have a ridged side for sawing through roots (or other obstacles) and the other side is either straight or concave as a chopping edge. The back end--with the head folded to the side--acts as a hammer. Go to Comment
30 Assassins necromancer
NPCs  (Extras)   (Criminal/Espionage)
Kinslayer's comment on 2008-03-22 11:32 AM
17. The Obsessive
This strange person fell into assassination as a career choice because there isn't much money to be made in serial killing. He doesn't take all contracts, choosing only the ones that appeal to his inner voices. Fortunately for many seeking an assassin, one of those voices sometimes says, "Pay the rent, boy, pay the rent." His tendency to carve a souvenir from the victims will get him caught sooner or later, but he is quite effective. He is not quick, however, and will follow a target sometimes for weeks before striking, learning everything he can about their patterns & weaknesses. Just don't use the word 'buttons' in his presence.

18. The Ice Queen
She is very professional, coldly so. She doesn't care about why you want the target slain, only that you do. No pleas for mercy will work on her, she never seems to get angry, and has no life outside of taking others'. No one has ever seen her smile, or frown, or show any emotions what so ever. It is as though she is as dead inside as her targets.

19. The Anti-assassin
He is the killer of killers. He will never take a commission that does not involve someone who has not themselves taken a life. He holds life in a sacred regard--the irony of his career choice does not seem to have hit him yet--and will never harm what he terms "an innocent". This means that body guards or the victims' families are completely safe when he is on the job. Don't think this means you can double-cross him though, he considers those who hire assassins to be just as culpable. The Anti-assassin specialises in skilled targets, such as mages, cyborgs, or whatever is gene-appropriate. He is also willing to take on a specialist assistant & works well with others--just don't kill anyone but the target or you will find yourself his next one.

20. Dirty-faced Angel
Who would suspect a child of being an assassin? This youngster uses the guise of youth to gain entry, trust, and especially to escape notice after the deed. This assassin can easily and quickly pose as a pathetic waif invoking sympathy, then disappear in a crowd of schoolchildren after the slaying. Though young--yet older than looks alone would suggest--the Dirty-faced Angel is a competent and ruthless killer. Go to Comment
30 Courtiers
NPCs  (Extras-Horde)   (Political)
Kinslayer's comment on 2008-06-14 12:30 PM
This is useful in different scales. These courtiers can be placed as part of a huge imperial court (with dozens or even hundreds of their own hangers-on) or in a baron's court with these courtiers as landed gentry rather than nobles in their own right. This sub is also useful with different campaign themes. For example, the Lord of Vice can be the token sneaky sort who is really a nice guy & completely loyal to the Throne (as Sir Nicholas Fury in Marvel 1602), or at the other end of the scale, even the Idealist could have his own dark agenda & secrets. Go to Comment
Undead Cosmetics
Items  (Potion)   (Magical)
Kinslayer's comment on 2006-06-08 12:52 PM
{SCENE is underground battle site, post fight. A number of chainmail-clad bodies are scattered, along with various inanimate skeletons & weapons. Animate Skeleton is in foreground, looking at held pieces of bone. Bones are missing from AS}

Voice Over: "Oh no, lost more bones to another adventuring party?" {AS looks up at camera & nods.}

VO: "But how will you ever figure out which bone goes where?" {AS nods vigorously.}

{CUT TO product shot. Camera pans over instruction booklet, quick-find guide, adhesive patches, solvent, and both versions of the video (VHS & DVD). Music starts.}

VO: "With Necro-Fit you can! NASA science and ancient necromatic secrets of the East combine to give you the secret known to European Undead. Our helpful instruction booklet and video will help you match the right bone to the right area."

{CUT TO AS using product.}

VO: "Just check the quick-find guide, apply an adhesive patch, and press. Instantly your bones fit right where they should." {AS looks up at camera & gives 'thumbs up' with newly replaced thumb.}

VO: "It's so powerful, we even trademarked the name!" {ZOOM logo towards screen. Foley apply 'zoom' sound.}

{CUT TO AS frustrated with bones stuck in wrong position, holding others, and glue covering everything.}

VO: "Other similar products leave a sticky, gluey mess. Call now and receive our patented Bone-Off solvent, to fix all of those ugly patch jobs."

{CUT TO POS page}

VO: "For only 6 easy payments of just $19.95, you get the video, instruction manual, Necro-Fit adhesive pads, handy quick-find guide, and the Bone-Off solvent. Order now!"

Disclaimer-VO: "Be sure to specify VHS or DVD. Allow 6-8 weeks for delivery. You must be undead to use this product." Go to Comment
Undead Cosmetics
Items  (Potion)   (Magical)
Kinslayer's comment on 2006-06-08 12:55 PM
Tired of waterlogged or rotting flesh? Try Osteo-Seal, from the makers of Necro-Fit. This revolutionary sealant prevents water from entering into bone or dessicated flesh. It locks away the necrotic freshness, and gives you that unhealthy sheen. Go to Comment
Undead Cosmetics
Items  (Potion)   (Magical)
Kinslayer's comment on 2006-06-08 01:04 PM
Frustrated over your appalling lack of decay? Died in a way that causes unwanted preservation? Sick of being uninvited to the dead man's party because you look too "fresh?"

With Necro-Fit's newest Tarnished Sensations line of Undead cosmetics, you too can be the life of the cemetary. New colours, such as Pallid and Gangrene, can compliment any funerary wardrobe.

Our Putre-scents perfume gives your corpse that odour of decay sure to be a hit with the guys & ghouls. Go to Comment
Capathan Spiritual Beliefs
Systems  (Divine/ Spirit)   (General)
Kinslayer's comment on 2006-04-30 05:02 PM
I would use this not as a stoic emotionless culture, but rather one with passion and drive. After all, their goal is not to avoid emotion, but rather to feel the correct ones at the proper time (of death). Go to Comment
Weather Related PlotSeeds
Plots  (Nature)   (Encounter)
Kinslayer's comment on 2006-03-17 01:52 PM
A large volcano (or volcanoes) erupts, sending ash high into the atmosphere. This can cause a drop in temperature and an increase in precipitation. The reach is potentially global. Even if the eruption is so far away that the players will never hear of it, there can still be unseasonable weather patterns (e.g. summer snowfalls in a Mediteranean climate). I used this one as a long-term story element, to great effect.

Using cruel weather is one of my favourite evil GM tricks. See also the other major weather-related disaster, where a change in rain patterns caused wide-spread famine: Go to Comment
Character Hooks
Articles  (Resource)   (Game Mastering)
Kinslayer's comment on 2006-02-20 02:57 PM
One of the most effective methods I have personally employed was taken from the "I Kill Puppies for Satan" rpg. The first session starts with one player describing his or her character. The second then describes his or hers, and how he or she knows the first. Then, it follows with each character, each describing themselves & how they know the previous pc's.

Another method I have employed with some success, is to have all of the pc's in the same mercenary company. I know from my own experience that you meet many different types of people in the military, ones far removed from your own normal spheres. Mercenaries in most rpg's allow the pc's greater freedom of action, and will more readily have diverse skillsets in a small group--plus you usually don't have to all wear the same outfit. As the historic mercenary was responsible for his own equipment & training, this fits most pc-types better. Variations on this can be for the pc's to control the company, or as low-ranking troops assigned various missions. It certainly helps if the players know that this will be a mercenary campaign in advance, or there is a risk that one or more will create characters that absolutely do not belong in a mercenary group, due to skills, equipment (or lack thereof), or have prepared backgrounds that are very much opposed to joining a free company.

Midian uses a built-in mechanism for grouping the characters. The default backgrounds assume that each character is a lower-class peasant from a small town in Formour, and that they have never left the immediate area, nor been involved in any real battle. It is much easier to gather everyone together, if most of the group are old friends who grew up together.

Various players of Midian have started something of a guild culture, similar to those found in MMORPG's. This gives the pc's a common employer & home base, along with a reason to stick together--mutual support is the main reason to join an adventuring guild. This also makes it easier for later characters--or even starting an entirely new campaign--if everyone joins an established guild. It doesn't hurt matters any that the concept of a guild as a group of characters spills over into the guild as a group of players--synonymous with a gaming troupe. Go to Comment
Character Hooks
Articles  (Resource)   (Game Mastering)
Kinslayer's comment on 2006-02-20 03:02 PM
I use this one. As my game lacks easy access to money (e.g. rats that drop 200 gold coins), the assumption is that the characters are all essentially bums. "Adventurers" start poor, cannot keep money long, often have twisted or circumstancial morals, have few social ties (if any), often dress oddly, and are always moving about, In other words, they're hobos. Go to Comment
Character Hooks
Articles  (Resource)   (Game Mastering)
Kinslayer's comment on 2008-10-02 06:52 AM
It is foolish to let loose mercenaries or even regular soldiers into your populated areas. Even those still in the service are usually kept occupied to help keep them out of trouble. For the stragglers of a unit built just for the war, you march them out into the hinterlands for 'border patrol' before you fire them. Presto: instant player-character party without the "you meet in a bar" scenario. Go to Comment
Character Secrets
Articles  (Character)   (Game Mastering)
Kinslayer's comment on 2006-02-07 11:49 AM
Previous posts in this thread have hit around this, but never quite:

The character can "pass"
He or she is of a shunned social caste, ethnicity, or even other species. However, due to whatever reason, the character's appearance is close enough to an "acceptable" caste, et al. to pretend to be one of them. This is not quite the same as a disguise, but can be augmented & enhanced cosmetically. Go to Comment
The Magic of Art
Systems  (Artistic/Performance)   (General)
Kinslayer's comment on 2006-04-30 10:02 PM
Rather than a magical effect to enhance art, perhaps the art itself could be the source of the magic. For example the entasis technique used on the Parthenon to make it visually more impressive. Perhaps echoing EchoMirage, one Midian player hid some of his more dangerous magical spell effects in plain sight in his gallery, such as a summoning circle incorporated into the border of a painting, depicting the area or beast summoned.

Continuing the 'fear' angle, a noble or other authority could have the audience chamber (or a waiting room) adorned with art that overtly looks rather tame, but has subtle 'wrong' elements--such as some of the cherubim bearing small fangs--or has a subliminal effect--e.g. the pattern of the lillies spells out "confess" where a casual glance would never detect that hidden message. In sci-fi or modern settings, this can be enhanced with television or computer screens with subliminal messages, or hidden in the background music.

Speaking of hidden messages, steganography is a very old method of hiding messages in plain sight. Is it any less of an illusion if you use methods other than overt Gandalf-style spellcasting?

One could argue that the ultimate sign of an artist's skill is that he or she can evoke an emotive state in the viewer. In a game setting, controlling minds and inflicting emotions certainly falls into magic's purview. Go to Comment
Mathom, the God of Delays
Systems  (Divine/ Spirit)   (Defining)
Kinslayer's comment on 2006-04-30 06:32 PM
By Mathom, the time to vote 5.0 for this is now. It's the god of Slack, that's great. Go to Comment
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