Strolen\s Citadel content. 
True Immersion
Articles  (Humor/ Editorial)   (Gaming - In General)
dark_dragon's comment on 2007-05-09 08:25 AM
55. Learn to Contact Juggle like David Bowie's character in Labyrinth. Now do it blindfolded. Now do it while driving off-road, you may or not be the driver... extra points for driving. More extra points every time you go airborne

Right, so stunt driving, blindfolded, while juggling (chainsaws perhaps?)? Okay, why not... After all, it's your life you're playing with. I suggest starting with beanbags first though... ;-) Go to Comment
True Immersion
Articles  (Humor/ Editorial)   (Gaming - In General)
dark_dragon's comment on 2007-09-23 02:44 PM
81)Learn the basics of sailing.

82)Now go sailing in gentle seas (waves 50cm-1m) in a dinghy. (~beaufort 4, 13-18mph)

83)Now, try it in beaufort 6-7. (considered 'strong breeze', waves 3-4m, 25-38mph)

84)Now, try to be on a boat (any boat really) in beaufort 10 winds, which is now considered a 'storm', with waves ~9m.

Imagine doing this on a boat build with medieval technology. Try fighting. Forget fighting, just try standing up. Go to Comment
Systems  (Mystical)   (General)
dark_dragon's comment on 2007-01-31 07:16 PM
Leprechaun's gold
This simple yet rare cantrip will allow a moderately skilled magic user to make lead appear and taste like gold, allowing the mage to temporarily fool a shopkeeper.

This has several limitations.

Firstly, the lead does not change shape, and so has to be shaped into coins or ingots before the cantrip is cast (some unscrupulous mages have been known to carry illegal coin moulds and stamps to shape lead disks into coins)

Secondly, the cantrip only lasts for a limited amount of time, and shopkeepers will often know that they have been duped the next day, when they see lead in their coffers, making any long-lasting wealth impossible.

Thirdly, this cantrip is clearly seen as illegal and although not hard to learn, very few would teach it openly and its use is severely punished.

(Interestingly, this cantrip is often used by town guards to break up sieges and hostage situation, and due to its rarity, very few hostage takers will actually know they have been duped) Go to Comment
Runecasting - Dwarven Magics
Systems  (Mystical)   (General)
dark_dragon's comment on 2007-02-06 01:18 PM
I really like rune magic, and I am considering a simple rune/chants system for a campaign. This thread has many good ideas, and can trigger the imagination too. Great scroll! Go to Comment
Runecasting - Dwarven Magics
Systems  (Mystical)   (General)
dark_dragon's comment on 2007-09-21 04:26 AM
I did, thankyou. Go to Comment
Runecasting - Dwarven Magics
Systems  (Mystical)   (General)
dark_dragon's comment on 2007-11-26 06:07 AM
Desert rune of Erkina'an
The desert people of Erkina'an live in one of the most hostile environment in the land. The smallest drop of moisture is revered as an immense wealth, to be protected and cared for. Their shamans have long been dedicated to helping the tribes gather water, and the Shaimal-Shan (Lit: Gathering hand) is a rune that all learn how to carve from the earliest age, since it could easily save their life.

Once carved into a surface of any kind (rock works well) the rune's magic will attract all the moisture in the nearby environment to it, and the magic will condense the water into small droplets within the etching. this then allows the water to be collected.

Interestingly, this rune is also used during the funeral rites of the Erkina'an people. Once a tribe member dies, the rune is carved on their chest using their own knife, and the moisture of the body is extracted and runs out of the carving in the form of pure water. This has the side effect of stopping the Erkina'an dead from decomposing, which has led to their custom of cremating them after the Shoman-al'jiman (giving of the water) ceremony.

Tribute to Dune Go to Comment
Runecasting - Dwarven Magics
Systems  (Mystical)   (General)
dark_dragon's comment on 2007-11-26 06:12 AM
Just noticed that I doubled up on the first post! oh, dear... not very good. Never mind. will leave for the background info and fancy names. Go to Comment
Music during a game
Articles  (At Table)   (Game Mastering)
dark_dragon's comment on 2007-01-15 07:43 PM
I definitely agree with the morrowind music. The oblivion soundtrack is superb too, and in both case, the pieces already have specific goals in mind, say adventuring or combat, so they can fit right in! Go to Comment
Music during a game
Articles  (At Table)   (Game Mastering)
dark_dragon's comment on 2007-01-15 07:58 PM
Donnie Darko(Movie) has a seriously spooky and supernatural soundtrack, good for ghost hunt, whether as hunter or hunted! Go to Comment
Newtons Magic
Systems  (Mystical)   (Defining)
dark_dragon's comment on 2007-08-30 09:54 PM
Well, if you really want to carry on with the math, eventually, you'd end up in the realms of probability manipulation too. If classical (newtonian) mechanics can be affected by the caster on the macro scale (our scale) then he can probably manipulate them at the micro scale (1000th of inches) or even nano scale.

This would lead to the equivalent of being able to directly affect the mechanics of each molecules in the room (remember, calculus can be all about motion), which is really a way of saying that your caster can affect statistical mechanics, or probability (this would curdle a physicist's blood, but you get the idea).

He could then force all the air in a room to reside within a single cubic inch of space

(remember, each particle is a distinct newtonian body obeying newton's laws of motion, and whose path can be interpreted using calculus, and with statistical method, one can derive the behaviour of X numbers of particles, treated as a whole)

Or heat it up to spontaneous combustion. God almighty! he could even heat it to fusion point if he controlled the energy distribution of air particles. (see boltzman distribution) in fact the math for this is pretty simple and can be done in your head today, with a good high school level. (no calculus needed even)

Effectively, the logical implications are enormous, since it is statistical mechanics which gives 'time' a unique direction (let's not dwelve too long on the last 50 years of RL how they come into it) so effectively your mage would be capable of reversing time's unidirectional arrow. ie: the broken vase could be made whole again, or you could make one half of an open room cold and the other one hot by controlling the motion of particles through variable changes in calculus math. (see maxwell's demon to see what i mean conceptually)

newton's work is so fundamental, and so truly universal that the mage's power would become *limitless* if used with any insight. And that's without even talking about his work on gravity and celestial motion nor his deductions on inertia.

This is it, i think, what separates real science from the fantasy type magic. if you start messing with the fundamental natural laws discovered so far, we enter universes so alien to our own that our minds stop being able to comprehend them. (indeed, it is quite hard to comprehend the universe into which we evolved, let alone one where the rules of the game are utterly diferrent) It is not simply a matter of being a powerful form of magic, but being the very fabric of reality which you are wielding. One arithmetic mistake and poooof!!!, the standard nuclear mass for hydrogen is tenfold too big, and most of the matter in the universe collapses to a singularity. Oooops.

(I make similar mistakes daily.)

In magic, vague restrictive concept can be used: "that takes too much life-force to cast" or "not enough mana" or even "the gods wont allow it" but there is no such security valve for math/physics. you can change one rule, nay, one variable, and you become God.

Changing the laws of physics (calculus inc) is not an option. one must comply, it is why they are called laws. Our math changes to reflect the world. ( and so our mage uses natural laws) but if the world changes to reflect our math, as you seem to suggest, that is a totally different ballgame.

(Oh. PS: I know this comment is about two years late ignore at will) Go to Comment
Newtons Magic
Systems  (Mystical)   (Defining)
dark_dragon's comment on 2007-01-15 02:29 PM
What about if instead of the opposite happenning in a random, indeterminate way, the mage decided where and how the opposite occured, so that a pyromancer mage would in effect select an area to heat up, and an area to cool down by an equal amount.

PLAYER: i throw a fireball at the critter, taking the energy from the room
DM: suddenly, as a great ball of flame leaves your hand, the air in the room becomes intensely cold, freezing your breath as it leaves your lungs

and hence, not only does magic follow newtonioan physics, but it also follows the laws of thermodynamics. the mage can then be considered a very efficient heat engine that does work, the work being the magical effects!

this also serve as a built in game balance! who is going to get a big enough heat reservoir to cast an epic level fireball? Go to Comment
Wild West - A Genre Untapped
Articles  (Resource)   (Game Mastering)
dark_dragon's comment on 2007-03-31 01:31 PM
I was thinking of something like this recently when I came across your article Moon!

I agree, Western games can offer a good gaming scope, even for long term campaign. For example, Firefly/serenity is basically a western game.

But as you said, the genre could also be homesteading... where the charcaters have to bulid their homes, farms, towns and everything else from what they start with in their wagons! Maybe the campaign intro could see them be trapped in a snowy mountain pass.

Will they go for help?

Will they turn on each other?

Will they become canibals?

How will they deal with their actions in the pass when they finally arrive at their destination? If some guy ate part of your wife to survive, how is it going to affect you when the sun starts shinning again. perhaps this could even turn into some kind of western horror/thriller.

Good sub, wich, with a couple of previous ideas, really got my synapses firing! Go to Comment
Why I don't want to modify Elves and Dwarves
Articles  (Humor/ Editorial)   (Game Mastering)
dark_dragon's comment on 2009-04-21 02:41 PM
Hey, Its all for fun anyway, so have whatever races you and your players enjoy!



Different races are as believable as a moon made of cheese. Not for any physical reasons, oh no.

Hell, when the western world became aware of people with a different _skin color_ they viewed them as a different species. When the American settlers encountered native Americans, their reaction was "get off our god given land!". Just imagine their reaction to finding lizard men...

Realistically, cultures generally have a tendency not to support other cultures in cohabitation. The result when two cultures meet is either clash or subjugation. (There are so many examples throughout history I'm not even going to enumerate them. I can think of at least a dozen example of clashing/subjugated cultures in _today's_ world.)

Evolutionary tendencies at the genetic level tend to view competitors as animals to be slaughtered as quickly and efficiently as possible. Two sentient races trying to cohabit on the same continent would give the same result as putting two competing predators in the same cage (pack of hyena and a lion in a 5mx5m room) the only stable solution is enslavement or extinction.


Peaceful subjugation through economic, cultural or religious means is possible, (eg: one specie worshipped as divine, one exporter of culture, or economic inequality) but that is only a more digestible form of enslavement and subjugation. One culture always comes out stronger, while the other one weakens. Tex-Mex is _not_ Mexican culture. It is a vague shadows that remains after subjugation and assimilation. It makes us feel hapy to know that we can "share". But we are being dishonest (See the poppadom paradox). Scras says that the US is the global economic and military superpower, and that this is why everybody speaks English. he forgets to mention that the US is also, and perhaps more importantly the world's largest Cultural superpower. Indeed, US culture has gone to places US soldiers could only dream of going. You can buy Coca-cola in almost every country on the planet. Same with MacDonald's, Starbucks, fast food, Rock and Roll, Jazz, free market, democracy, Nike, capitalism, Levi, free speech, etc... Indeed, The US tries to export its culture by Any Means Necessary(TM) And the it is incredibly good at exporting culture.

Have a look at

to see what I mean. How many are American? how many of them are consumer oriented? Why is it that fast food and luxury brands are growing the fastest? Can you name a Chinese run fast food brand? _not_ a chain of Chinese restaurant, but a Chinese-run fast food brand. I can't. Panda-Express is American.

I would argue that the west is as good at exporting culture as china is at exporting goods. (Disney goods made in china, for eg.)

(Don't get me wrong, I'm not passing judgement on any of these. I like free speech, fast food, democracy, Donald Duck and Rock and Roll as much as the next guy.)

The true fight of the 'War On Terror'(TM) isn't going to be won with mortar or bullets but with culture. Whoever can export theirs the best will win. Vulgarly: Radicalise or Capitalise.

The only hope for different smart races is that they do not compete for any resources (or culture). Algae harvesting mer-people might just cohabit with men. But genetic xenophobia would be so strong against another sentient species that I see very few palatable cohabitation strategies.

A simple look at the cold war will tell you what to expect. And that was a clash between two very similar cultures: similar family structures, similar traditional gender roles, similar technologies, hierarchical power structures (even if one side would have pretended the opposite) etc, etc...

The traditional fantasy idea about different races is all well and good, but not if you want your world to be realistic and reflect the way "we" would behave.

Fantasy humans are so far from who we truly are as to be a completely different specie in themselves.

That's all rather pessimistic, isn't it? I guess it's why we _need_ to cohabit with elves and defeat orcs. Like Scras says, orcs and elves are just a thinly veiled mirror. It's why we need them, and heroes, and fantasy. To give us a slither of hope. To let us know that maybe, just maybe, we could do it. The self deception and hope is what it's about. It's why we play fantasy in the first place. It's why we'll casually accept a dwarf in RPG while not hiring a black guy in Real life.

(I'm sure a good portion of us would behave differently, but I hope you understand what I mean.)

So if you really want different races, go nuts, use whatever you like, however you like, because, cliché or not, you've already strayed so far from reality that it makes no difference. The humans cohabiting with elves in fantasy, no matter how you dice it, are so far from us as to be just that: fantasy.

#OOC# I don't know what to make of that, but since I wrote it, what the hell, it's going up. Crucify me if you must. Go to Comment
Ryder Spear
Items  (Melee Weapons)   (Non-Magical)
dark_dragon's comment on 2007-02-08 11:07 AM
Very cool! This is definitely something that would be a centrepiece in a culture, and leather weapons are a smashing idea! This could even be used to shape the weapon, while the blade remains of iron, stone, etc...

Overall, a fantastic item, a great idea, lots of history seeds! brilliant! Go to Comment
Maker's Ward
Locations  (Neighborhoods)   (Any)
dark_dragon's comment on 2011-12-06 07:35 AM

I think this stub could benefit from having a few denizen of the Maker's ward added, as well as plot hooks and important location.

Is there a tavern that a particular class of craftsmen likes to frequent? Is there a smithy that will sell high quality weapons without a city-approved license? Is one of the factories a front for a criminal organisation?

Who owns the largest factory/smithy? Who makes the finest silk? Do young men come here looking for work? Will someone accept them?

It would make a good intro to "30 denizen of Maker's Ward".

Sorry to say that it lacks the spark that makes the disctrict come alive for me.

Go to Comment
Maker's Ward
Locations  (Neighborhoods)   (Any)
dark_dragon's comment on 2011-12-07 04:34 PM
Hey Moon,

Oh, I know about Arth, and have encountered Antioch posts, What I mean is that I find that while the post describes the ward, it doesn't give me any information about what it would feel like to walk down one of its street.

I don't get a sense of it. It describes the ward, without actually giving me a good idea of the *feel* of the place.

A cheap way of doing that would be to describe three NPC and their motivations, three establishments and their denizen, and three unique sights in the Ward.

I don't really know Arth (It's your dominion :-) ), but have a look at the idea that I added for an example of what I mean.

Go to Comment
Maker's Ward
Locations  (Neighborhoods)   (Any)
dark_dragon's comment on 2011-12-07 06:10 PM

"A cheap way of doing that would be to describe three NPC and their motivations, three establishments and their denizen, and three unique sights in the Ward. "

Noteworthy NPCs:

  • Callista Silverhand: As one of the finest jewelry maker in Antioch, Ms Silverhand's work is in high demand throughout Arth. Unlike her competitors who maintain their shops in highly desirable areas of the city, Callista prefers to work in her father's old workshop, which she inherited after his death. Being thrust into commercial affairs at only 15, she had to learn fast. Luckily for her, the warm-hearted giant Fenrik Greyheart mentored her in the art of the forge. She quickly turned to jewelry making and her talent grew with each passing year.

  • Fenrik Greyheart:  The 7 foot tall smith has skin the color of dark amber, and his thick forearms are covered a myriad of criss-crossing scars, testimony to his trade. While terrifying in appearance with a face more fitting on a troll, one could not hope to meet a gentler soul. Now on the cusp of retirement, he has mentored an entire generation of smith in the art, including the young Callista. While he initially put her to work like any other apprentice, he soon noticed her natural talent for fine metal work and guided her towards the finer aspects of the craft, selling her delicate cloisonne pommels at a premium. To this day, he still wears one of her first creation around his neck: a crude steel eagle, clumsily engraved, a constant memento of his favourite pupil, who became much like a daughter to him.

  • Josmael Whitting: Josmael is the son of a rich clothmaker and merchant. Always immaculately dressed in the finest fabrics, Josmael had a privileged upbringing. After receiving an education fitting for a guild member of his standing, Josmael has started to work with his father, managing the family business. Since childhood, Josmael has always admired Callista, and has held a flame for her in his heart for most of his life. Now that he has returned to Maker's ward, Josmael has started to court the beautiful Callista, much to the dismay of his father, who hold only contempt for the metalsmiths. Much to Josmael's chagrin, his advances have so far fallen on deaf ears...

Noteworthy Establishments:

  • The Crowded Mare: This small drinking house is nestled between two large woodsmiths. The emblem above the doorway is a painted wood sculpture of five dwarfs riding a pony, flagon of ale in hand. The place's bad reputation, is frankly, well deserved. Only last week, two woodsmiths, drunk as mules, started a fight that ended when a man's chisel was planted in his own chest. Thankfully, he survived, but in the fracas, the culprit was never found.

  • Cardamont Square: Cardamont Square is a well kept stone building, so called because of its perfectly square inner courtyard. It houses the offices of several important traders in Antioch. The men and women who work here are savvy, smart, and ruthless. Unlike their competitors, who prefer to work in more pleasant surroundings, the traders of Cardamont Square understand the value of getting important information about the goings on of Maker's Ward as soon as possible, and acting on them immediately. When entering Cardamont Square via the understated gateway, one will often be faced with a veritable army of gophers, carrying buy and sell orders throughout Antioch. All of them, without exception, overworked, underpaid and grumbling under their breath about "Those darn imps in their fancy clothes"

  • Waltman And Sons: W&S is, supposedly, a shipwright. With large warehouses along the docks, W&S is a prosperous family enterprise, and while their ships are expensive and somewhat slow, they have a reputation for weathering the most severe storms, and can be made in a third of the time the next fastest shipwright would quote. Insurances will often offer a discount for W&S vessels. Where W&S truly excel, however, and the reason for their impressive stone edifice that dominates one end of Archerius avenue, is their project management skills. Often, other trades will come to W&S for advice on how to fulfill a large order, or on how to improve the efficiency of their processes. This has made W&S powerful in Antioch, and they are owed many favours from the Guilds. 

Unique Sights:

  • The Widow's wall: The widow's wall is a thirty yard long stretch of mural painted in the memory of the lives lost to the largest fire to have ever ravaged Maker's ward. Decorated by the survivors in the wake of the tragedy, it has become a symbol of hope and revival amongst the denizens of Maker's Ward. Craftsmen old enough to remember the fire will often make a point of detouring past it on their way to and from work to remember fallen friend. In all, 734 faces grace the mural, each a life lost, depicted carrying out their trade. A yearly ceremony marks the event, and on that day, Maker's Ward is silent from sunrise to sunset.

  • Maker's Shrine: This small shrine dedicated to the gods of the craft is unassuming in appearance. The square stone plinth holds a simple wooden structure that shelters a wide altar. Upon it, can be seen a myriad of small items, all lovingly handcrafted by the people of Maker's Ward. It is said that the very first piece that an apprentice crafts should be brought here and offered the gods for a prosperous life, and that the last piece a man crafts should be similarly given to ensure a safe place in the afterlife. Almost all makers find the idea ridiculous, and if queried will happily denouce the beliefs as mere superstitions. Few indeed, however, are those who do not make their two offerings. Seeing one's own crude work besides the elegant creations of the dying masters is a humbling experience for apprentices, and helps foster a sense of community and continuity to their craft. Families will often come together to offer a dead man's last unfinished work on his behalf. 

  • Tom's Travelling Tavern: While most Antioch citizens like to eat their food on the go, Tom's Travelling Tavern bucks the trend by bringing cool flagons of ale straight inside of the workplace. With his secret cooling method, Tom manages to keep his beverages cool even in the heat of summer. Smart factory owners will often negotiate an hour's extra work from their workers by promising to have Tom drop by in the mid afternoon and offer everyone a cool brew. Most tastes are catered for, and the bells on his cart make most workers of Maker's Ward perk their head from their labour. He will soon be joined by his son Barney, who will be pulling a second cart of cooled drinks to satisfy the growing demand.

Go to Comment
It's midnight (GM time crunch)
Articles  (Campaign)   (Game Mastering)
dark_dragon's comment on 2007-11-27 09:24 AM
Ok, so, let me get this right. This is not the _normal_ way to run a campaign? ;-)

Very good advice, And to be honest, you can run an entire campaign like that and make it work. I'll probably write something up sometimes in the future based on my experiences with a scifi campaign underway. (I was preparing an epic fantasy, turns out my players wanted scifi. Cue fast 'interactive' world building)

Great stuff!

5 Go to Comment
So You Want to Publish a Game
Articles  (Resource)   (Gaming - In General)
dark_dragon's comment on 2007-02-08 10:14 AM
This seems like really sensible advice from everybody, and I personally know people who could do well to read this, and take it in. I'll be sure to point them here.

Ian: Nice one! It will probably end on my shelf too...

I do it for myself first and the business second.

Mourngrymm, I think that you are absolutely right. Sometimes, you become richer by doing something for its own sake.

Publishing an independent RPG, video game, book, or even a boardgame from scratch definitely falls into this category, as do starting your own company, and a plethora of other ventures.

Its a tough Journey which has to be done because of the journey itself rather than the rewards. Climbing K2 has never been easy, and there is no reward, only punishment should you fail.

Neither is spending months out at sea on your own circumnavigating the globe.

The people who manage these things have never come out of it with a pot of gold, But yet, I believe that each and every one was richer in a more meaningful way.

As Mourngrymm said, as long as you understands this, You should go for it, otherwise, I think you should be ready to come out of the other end sapped of all strength and will. Go to Comment
The Breakfast of Champions
Systems  (Societal/ Cultural)   (General)
dark_dragon's comment on 2007-02-04 08:28 PM
Kingdom of Lux

Shredded and spiced fatty fish, cereals and nuts mix, usually wrapped in a sweet pancake(known as swee) with a bowl/glass of milk, complemented by fresh fruits. Eggs are often eaten boiled too for breakfast. Go to Comment
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Sword of long term deadlyness

       By: Cheka Man

Held in a lead sheath the blade of this sword is tipped with uranium and any wound from it, even a tiny one, will go cancerous, although the effects may not show up for months or even years.

Ideas  ( Items ) | May 7, 2007 | View | UpVote 1xp