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Rumors and Tales
Plots  (Coincidence)   (Single-Storyline)
ephemeralstability's comment on 2005-12-17 06:36 PM
There have been complaints recently about livestock going missing and carcasses turning up days later, disfigured and mangled. They are focused on the local manor. Something strange is going on, and the tavern meets tonight to discuss a resolution: should we take the law into our own hands?

Players may be unwillingly dragged into a vigilante posse intent upon attacking this manor (which is either perfectly innocent or a haven for evil magics. Either way...) Go to Comment
Rumors and Tales
Plots  (Coincidence)   (Single-Storyline)
ephemeralstability's comment on 2006-12-16 10:00 AM
With special reference to the plot "The Deterrent" or just generally overheard to demonstrate superstitious extremism after a few pints:

"So what d'you think, Kjurd?"

"I'd heard it was nearer sixty thousand, all be told."

"Sixty thousand!? Now yer talking sh..."

"No serious. They breed them. No! They do, really! They have whole castles full of 'em, just waiting for the word from the King and then..."

"And then?"

"Well...they'd release them, I suppose."

"And how's to know that a horde of sixty thousand dragons wouldn't just fly down and start attacking us? Our country?"

"Well I suppose they must feed them on Stanic flesh."

"Or make 'em smell Stanic food so's they can sniff the place out?"

"Yeah, or maybe they're like racing pidgeons..."

"Pidgeons?"

"...well they'd know where to go..."

"Are you tellin me that a horde of sixty thousand fire-breathin serpents is like a flock of pidgeons?"

And more such typical tavern conversation-observations. Go to Comment
Larping Advice
Articles  (Other Gaming)   (Gaming - In General)
ephemeralstability's comment on 2005-12-14 08:51 AM
I've played homemade LARP for a few years now (though I've never done it through an organisation) and I find it very good fun. If you try running a homemade LARP, don't expect to be fighting dragons or giants. The effects aren't great and fantasy settings tend to be better for board games. I tend to go for sci-fi or modern-day settings when running LARP, as it reduces the amount of dressing-up that needs to be done.

If you do run an adventure like this, I recommend you have quite a large group and enlist the help of one or two others to act as multiple GMs as this takes the pressure off. When we play, we usually do so in the woods nearby, and restrict the playing area to about 1km^2. The multiple GMs can then more easily keep track of where the players are and can spring attacks on them.

For instance, we ran a game based on Jurassic Park. Obviously we couldn't get real dinosaurs, so we did it in the dark in the dense woods with lots of velociraptors because they are more human-sized than a Tyrannosaurus Rex and when it's dark no-one can tell the difference. There was no actual combat involved, mainly running away from dinosaurs and problem solving (trying to turn the emergency power supplies for the park online). I don't think combat works very well with LARP, it's better to create an atmosphere and scare people.

As Moonhunter has stressed, vampires and undead (or psychotic killers) make a good premise for LARP because they are so human-like and therefore require a minimum of effects.

As for organised LARPs, I don't know much, but I've found a few links (mainly relevant for the UK):

http://www.larpweb.co.uk/index.htm
http://www.camarilla.org.uk/
http://www.k2boys.btinternet.co.uk/ukm/index.html
http://www.pathfinderlarp.org.uk/
http://www.foolsandheroes.com/

(most of them seem to be based in the South )

You could always try the relevant Usenet group...

http://groups.google.co.uk/groups?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&group=rec.games.frp.live-action

Hope these are of some help! Go to Comment
Cantrips
Systems  (Mystical)   (General)
ephemeralstability's comment on 2005-12-10 02:01 PM
The following are spells learned by first-year wizards, and which drop-outs from magical universities may remember in their future lives.

Groan: A spell which generates groaning noises. These could be used to embarrass foreign dignitaries, engender caution or fear in mineshafts or create distractions. It's more limited than ordinary aural illusions, as it can only make groaning noises.

Summon wasp: After a whole term's work on conjuration theory, this is the first conjuration spell learned by all wizards in their first term at university. It's fairly self-explanatory.

Extinguish candles: Creates a mere whisper of wind for blowing out candles at a distance. This is the sort of spell learned by naughty first-year wizards who are punished by being forced to clean up after the senior wizards' dinners. Walking from one end of the table to the other is seen as too strenuous, so cantrips like this are learned for efficiency.

Minor telekinesis: This is for manoeuvering small objects from a short distance. Pens can be lifted, but coherent writing is very rare. It feels like trying to do up a button with cold hands. Go to Comment
Unique Magic Items
Systems  (Mystical)   (Defining)
ephemeralstability's comment on 2005-12-10 10:58 AM
I suppose it all lies in your interpretation of the idea of charges and how much stress you'd lay on the importance of uniqueness.

For example, the Staff of Saoul, crafted by the eponymous wizard, draws on the powers of an ancient deity, trapped beneath the earth in a mighty cavern. The deity is too weak to grant its powers more than once every day and only then may they be used on a quest to free the deity. After the deity is sapped of its strength it can no longer grant powers to the staff, so the staff ceases to work as a conduit: in game terms it runs out of charges.

Each staff which is created is unique and individual, so though there may only ever be one "staff of snakes" a future wizard can base his design on that of the now defunct (i.e. chargeless) staff. It will have approximately the same powers, but slightly different: e.g. it will transform into a cobra instead of a viper. When a staff runs out of charges (however that is to be interpreted) it cannot be recharged, but a new staff can be made which monopolises on the powers previously held by the dead staff. Go to Comment
Runecasting - Dwarven Magics
Systems  (Mystical)   (General)
ephemeralstability's comment on 2005-12-10 10:40 AM
How about these few more examples (help/mischief in the community):

Milking Rune - Two versions: one makes a barren cow provide more milk, the other makes a fruitful cow barren. The runes must be tatooed onto the udder.

Wheat Rune - Like a crop circle these runes are cut into the crop. They help to improve harvest.

Or these:

Rune of Lockdoor - Carved/drawn onto a door. It increases the door's strength (reduces chance of door being barged down or opened). This can be carved quickly in the heat of an escape. Go to Comment
Runecasting - Dwarven Magics
Systems  (Mystical)   (General)
ephemeralstability's comment on 2005-12-10 10:40 AM
I'm involved in a local archaeology project in our area and we've been finding these strange cup-and-ring-marked stones and other more zoomorphic carvings. We're not sure what they were for so who knows...

Here's a few more for the runic spellbook:

Rune of Light: A glowing glyph whose brightness and duration depends on how long the caster spends carving it and also on the sharpness of the chisel used.

Rune of Iron: Similar to your "condense water" rune: when carved into iron-rich rocks this rune gradually fills up with liquid iron which seeps from the surrounding rock and then solidifies. The process takes a minimum of 6 hours but depends on the caster's level and the complexity of the shape required. Useful for when a set of replacement arrowheads are needed and a skilled caster can simply carve the arrowheads into the rock. Go to Comment
Music during a game
Articles  (At Table)   (Game Mastering)
ephemeralstability's comment on 2005-12-08 10:13 AM
Whalesong is a great noise. I hadn't thought of using for an adventure, but it's so eldritch it's bound to send shivers up your spine in the silences between combats. It was actually incorporated into a piece of symphonic music by Alan Hovhaness (called "And God Created Great Whales"). Go to Comment
Music during a game
Articles  (At Table)   (Game Mastering)
ephemeralstability's comment on 2005-12-08 10:16 AM
Shostakovitch, Symphony No. 4 **** ## ## ##

We've just started playing* this piece in an orchestra and it's amazing. Shostakovitch withdrew it before it was ever performed because it would have been perceived by the Stalinists as being anti-regime and it wasn't performed for another 25 years. It could be used primarily for battles/combats/to indicate great suffering and anguish, or any other common roleplaying scene. Especially the fast fugal section in the 1st movement.

*When I say "playing" I mean "trying unsuccessfully to play" on my part anyway.

WARNING: Do not attempt to listen to this piece of music if you are of a nervous disposition. Do not attempt to listen to it if you don't like modern music. Do not attempt to listen to it if you have delicate ear-drums. Go to Comment
Music during a game
Articles  (At Table)   (Game Mastering)
ephemeralstability's comment on 2005-12-08 10:17 AM
Monkish chants! Definitely. Very atmospheric. The Tallis Scholars do lots of good monky stuff too (or should I say monky business?).

Also Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite was a major omission from the list! Hall of the Mountain King is great! Go to Comment
Music during a game
Articles  (At Table)   (Game Mastering)
ephemeralstability's comment on 2005-12-08 10:24 AM
Mahler definitely! And I've been listening to Dvorak's Vodnik (Water Goblin) which is also very good for fantasy music. Also try Stravinsky's Chant du Rossignol, based on one of Hans Christian Andersen's stories about a nightingale. It's very weird, but atmospheric. Go to Comment
Music during a game
Articles  (At Table)   (Game Mastering)
ephemeralstability's comment on 2005-12-08 10:25 AM
I wholeheartedly agree! Despite the fact that I actually started this thread I often don't use music during games, because it can be too much of a distraction. I like the idea of designating a player to run the music, because it takes the stress away from us DMs! Go to Comment
Music during a game
Articles  (At Table)   (Game Mastering)
ephemeralstability's comment on 2005-12-08 10:32 AM
You could always try Nimrod by Elgar or Holst's Jupiter. Many people find these pieces patriotic and noble, I just think they're good pieces of music. Go to Comment
Novel Musical Instruments
Items  (Art and Music)   (Non-Magical)
ephemeralstability's comment on 2005-12-04 02:43 PM
The Cliff of the Thousand Birds
In the Fourth Kingdom there is a cliff as tall as a cathedral. It is called the Cliff of the Thousand Birds, for here the birds nest in their thousands and such a terrible noise, a squawking mess, has never been heard anywhere else.

And so displeased was the Emperor with this unholy sound that he summoned to him his wisest mages, asking their advice. So it was that Relevi, wisest of the wisest mages, decided to cast his magics over the birds of the Cliff of the Thousand Birds and instil in them some sense of rhythm and melody.

He still stands there, conducting the birds as they sing their long symphony, as they will for as long as the Earth is here. Like a vast cathedral organ the Cliff of the Thousand Birds resounds to the mighty chorus of its denizens, and such a glorious sound has never been heard anywhere else. Go to Comment
Gemstone Magic
Systems  (Mystical)   (Defining)
ephemeralstability's comment on 2005-12-03 03:43 PM
An exhaustive exploration of a possible magic system, bursting with creative discussion. A beautiful example of where brilliance has sparked off threads fizzling with ideas.

ephe! Go to Comment
Cups and Rings
Items  (Other)   (Magical)
ephemeralstability's comment on 2005-12-01 02:20 PM
The Cave Potato

These curious plants are extremely rare. Found in deep caverns, they resemble large, rough boulders; you would be hard-pushed to find anything less vegetablesque anywhere in the world. But left to themselves, after decades of gestation, they sprout tender, fist-thick tendrils which grope their painfully slow and convoluted way through the tunnels, seeking the light above. More often than not, they are not left to themselves. Rats, trolls, insects and other cave-dwelling species feed on the nutricious tendrils, sucking out the slightly sweet flesh and leaving a menagerie of toothmarks. After centuries of trying, the cave potato will exhaust its starch supplies and shrivel up, dropping its tendrils to leave a rough husk covered with the weird circular markings of tendril-sockets.

Just occasionally, maybe once every hundred years, a cave potato will succeed in reaching the surface, where the sprout buds into flower and the entrance to the cave will be garlanded for a few days with pretty white blossoms. The blossoms scatter countless amounts of pollen to the wind and the resilient pollen hangs around for a long time (sometimes up to a thousand years) until it eventually lands on the stamen of another cave potato flower. Then the strangest thing of all happens.

With its last remaining energy the mother potato grows its tendrils yet more. As the baby potato begins to swell and harden it is pulled back into the caverns and pushed on to uncharted depths far from the mother's resting place. Eventually it becomes too heavy for the mother to carry and she shrivels up and dies, depositing the baby in a deep cavern of its own so that the whole cycle can take place again. Go to Comment
The Urwhor- A New Look At Orcs
Lifeforms  (Intelligent Species)   (Any)
ephemeralstability's comment on 2005-11-27 04:25 PM
I love this thread. Orcs deserve a makeover and this one's doing them justice.

I think one crucial point arises in trying to understand the Urwhor mind and that is the role of the Ghaharshord. I think that the Urwhor do not fully understand themselves what it is they worship, but they are aware of its existence and its awesome power. Perhaps the whole Urwhor spiritual and cultural drive is a groping to comprehension of the nature of Ghaharshord. Maybe as CP has suggested, it is a vestige of some primal memory of a terrifying cabal of sorcerors. But the flock-like behaviour Strolen mentioned makes me think it could be something else. Perhaps the great Power the Urwhor so fear and revere is "I-Urhwor": themselves as a Race.

The average Urwhor may think of Ghaharshord as the Ultimate Master, an axe-wielding warrior, but I think the warrior represents a different part of their psyche. It is a Jung-like archetype for their libido. The Ghaharshord is another deeply rooted archetype which is much less tangible and yet is felt by all Urwhor.

I think it would be good to do some sort of Jungian analysis of some Urwhor myths (or perhaps use these ideas as a guideline for the myths) to discover more about the way the Urwhor think. Go to Comment
The Urwhor- A New Look At Orcs
Lifeforms  (Intelligent Species)   (Any)
ephemeralstability's comment on 2005-11-27 04:49 PM
Can I just reiterate that I think this thread is great, and the same goes for the one on Duerga. I love to see a creative slant on something cliche Go to Comment
The Urwhor- A New Look At Orcs
Lifeforms  (Intelligent Species)   (Any)
ephemeralstability's comment on 2005-11-27 04:51 PM
Scrasamax has hit the nail with his psychoanalysis, that's the sort of thing I was talking about. I'd independently hit on some similar ideas:

The Warrior and his Axe
Perhaps the only males to mate are those born with external genitalia, the majority having internal organs. The sexual repression and frustration which results scars the Urwhor and characterises their whole mindset. This is symbolised by the Warrior and his Axe, a phallic archetype appearing in many Urwhor myths. He is something to be feared and hated, a reminder of their own sexual inadequacy. He is often portrayed wielding his axe on a black hill in a blood-red sunset. He is the thing of Urwhor nightmare.

All other forms of Urwhor behaviour are sublimations of their repressed libido.

Music: Expression of their inner turmoil through song. As a result their music is revered and aspired to. Anyone is capable of attempting to produce music, while only a special few can mate. It is the goal of all Urwhor to become accepted for their art, and those that do come to terms with their twisted minds and are wise, peaceful beings.

Following the Master: The Master is another archetype from myth. A powerful being like Jung's Old Wise Man. It is someone who can protect the Urwhor from the terror of the Warrior and his Axe, and as a communal whole they can act and forget their inadequacies. As a result they are one-minded and efficient, utterly obedient servants.

Anyway, there's lightning around, so I'd better get offline...

ephe!

PS Admirable language, Captain. Any possibilities of some MP3s to let us know how it sounds? It looks juicy! Go to Comment
Mirror Characters
Articles  (Rules and Advice)   (Game Mastering)
ephemeralstability's comment on 2005-11-26 01:38 PM
Why not have characters who mirror the characters in the party? There are many possibilities:

1. The mirror character is almost exactly like one of the party's characters, except of a higher level. He joins them temporarily and starts to oust the PC from his usual roles (e.g. Dardan is an elf famed amongst his fellow PCs for his bow-skill. Along comes Nadrad his mirror, who is even better. Imagine the jealousy as Nadrad starts to flirt with Dardan's lover, or as the party start to favour Nadrad over Dardan).

2. The mirror character is of the opposite sex and starts to distract the original PC from his duties to the party...

3. The mirror character is younger and less experienced than the original PC and looks up to him as a role model: flattering, but can lead to awkward situations.

Mirror characters of this sort could have any sort of relationship to the PC: maybe a sibling or even twin (long lost?), maybe an old schoolfriend, or maybe just a complete stranger.

Try the short story "William Wilson" by Poe for another perspective: the mirror character as ominous harbinger. Go to Comment
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