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21
Fields of Challenge / Re: Freetext Friday
« Last post by Scrasamax on January 07, 2017, 11:54:26 AM »
January is the first month of year and it starts with "J" and that rhymes with "A" and that stands for... A new freetext. Which will not start with "J" or "A" but will be Battleship.

Individual ships are cool, as are classes of ships (your Star Destroyers and Yamatos). Or heck, HMS Dreadnought is said to have rendered immediately obsolete all other battleships - give me your equivalent. Or the weird and unusual: Are there cyberspace battleships? Submarine battleships? Land battleships?

How about a space folding flying city full of crazy ass inbred space royalty?

https://strolen.com/viewing/Fortress_Maximus
22
Citadel Tavern / Most Memorable Dungeons and Levels
« Last post by Scrasamax on January 07, 2017, 09:41:20 AM »
Most of us here play video games to some extent, and I was doing some research and random tidbits will pop into my head, and I had the notion of making a list of the most memorable dungeons and such from games that I have played. For a moment I considering integrating them into the Cosmic Era but there is really no point to that. So, it's just nostalgia, and maybe some examination into how and why these dungeons were successful enough to leave a lasting impression.

1. The Floating Continent, Final Fantasy III/6

http://finalfantasy.wikia.com/wiki/Floating_Continent_(Final_Fantasy_VI)

I remember playing this as FFIII on the SNES, and the Floating Continent looked completely different from the rest of the game, feeling more reminiscent of Metroid than Final Fantasy. I seriously wanted to equip my entire time with spread guns from Contra and flamethrowers, plus the transition gates looked like egg pods. The Floating Continent was seriously hard, unless you had done grinding before hitting it. The monsters were big, the item drops were worthy, and there were two things that seriously stuck out, you could only do the Flying Continent once, and the other was Shadow. After fighting the Triad and Kefka, the continent breaks apart, and the world is literally ended. The animations and story are limited to the 16 bit output of the system, but you see the World of Balance destroyed and it become the World of Ruin. There is no going back. The second was as mentioned, Shadow. You have a timer to beat to escape the Flying Continent in time, and if you jump back to your airship as soon as you reach the escape point, Shadow dies. You have to wait for the time to count down to something like 5 seconds, and then a battered and weary Shadow runs up and joins your party.

Holy crap, a character can die permanently???

Awesome.

2. The Great Crystal inside Giruvegan

http://finalfantasy.wikia.com/wiki/Great_Crystal_(Final_Fantasy_XII)

The Great Crystal was a hell of a dungeon, located entirely inside a dimensional crystal, and navigation was done without a map in game, you had to learn where you were, while fighting impressive enemies, and facing the frustration of the loot drops being absolute awesomeness or total s**t, you either got a gold skullcap or a knot of rust. At the heart of the Great Crystal was Ultima, the second most powerful summon in the game (and not part of the story, you had to deliberately go in after her) who had a great animation, appearing as a spectral woman with a steam engine airship centaur thing going on. The fight to defeat her is challenging, and then, you have to navigate back out of the crystal. The only save point is next to her fight area. That dungeon took about 3 hours of gameplay to defeat and escape.

Epic.

3. Midgar

http://finalfantasy.wikia.com/wiki/Midgar

The first 4-8 hours of Final Fantasy 7 gameplay is set inside the city of Midgar. It is a solid romp through cyberpunk before cyberpunk was a dime a dozen thing. The mako reactor raids, the plate falling, the locales in sector 7. Unlike the others, Midgar isn't so much an actual dungeon, but it has several in it, and at the time, it was incredibly novel. It broke away from genre fantasy, it had solid music, and dealt with slightly more relevant themes, such as ecology, eco-terrorism, PTSD, and it looked fantastic. Returning to the city to go through Shin-ra tower, great fun, plus it was awesome that on the world map when you got close to Midgar, the screen would darken, like it was under a pall of pollution.

Well done.

4. Idar Flamme

http://shadowhearts.wikia.com/wiki/Idar_Flamme

Shadow Hearts Covenant was the second game I bought for the PS2, the first being Need for Speed: Underground 2 (SCREW YOU EA FOR NOT MAKING NFS:U3) and it followed a bizarre path through an alternate timeline Europe and Asia, and you pick up an international cast of heroes, from a Japanese guy who turns into demons, to a French bodybuilder and professional wrestler, to Princess Anastasia Romanov. The game was quirky as you went from locale to locale, collecting demon's souls, and chasing the man who stabbed you with a funky candlestick and something to do with Rasputin. Part of the way through the game, Rasputin does a magic spell and calls Idar Flamme up from the bowels of the earth. Crazy steaming techo-city, infested with worm like monsters, with Rasputin at the end, awesome. After you beat Rasputin (after he turns into the arch demon Asmodeus) you steel his power and can become Asmodeus yourself, or something like that, and then Idar Flamme collapses into rubble.

I wish I still owned that game.

What are your memorable dungeons and levels?
23
Fields of Challenge / Re: Freetext Friday
« Last post by Dragonlordmax on January 07, 2017, 09:03:51 AM »
January is the first month of year and it starts with "J" and that rhymes with "A" and that stands for... A new freetext. Which will not start with "J" or "A" but will be Battleship.

Individual ships are cool, as are classes of ships (your Star Destroyers and Yamatos). Or heck, HMS Dreadnought is said to have rendered immediately obsolete all other battleships - give me your equivalent. Or the weird and unusual: Are there cyberspace battleships? Submarine battleships? Land battleships?
24
Sagely Advice / Re: Khazad Collaboration Thread
« Last post by Scrasamax on January 07, 2017, 06:39:27 AM »
Also, the span of the story with those 3 mentioned dwarves might seem quick, but probably spans between 5 and 7 centuries.

The Hall

Dwarves don't move unless there is a d**ned good reason. Their parent hall is still large and powerful, but like Baptist churches, there was a split among the dwarves, likely along a matter that would only matter to the dwarves, it could be as simple as the feel of the stone under their hands telling them it's time to move, or more pragmatic like looking for a new source of ore to follow. The hold's gold vein might be playing out. Thus, the expeditions started, and Earnie was born and was among the young dwarves who went in the migration. He was a colonialist. The new hall was scouted, with omens and test mines burrowed into the earth. This is a process that might have taken a century or two to play out.

The new hall is never going to be a great fortress of a mountain keep, it wont be a Nogorod, a Menegroth, or a Khazad Dum. But it will still be a decent Dwarven keep. The keep isn't in the friendliest part of the map, and the colonialists had to fight hard to secure it, and then to blaze the roads between the keeps and down to where the humans were (trade is trade, and if humans will accept useless things in exchange for valuable things, that's their problem. they'll trade huge amounts of food, leather, etc in exchange for pretty rocks? hoho very good)

As a more outpost-y type hold, it is closer to non-dwarf lands, leaving greater chance of meeting non-dwarves. Earnie finds non-dwarves to be barbarians, flighy wastrel twits who don't appreciate dwarven values, babbling and generally being a huge pain in his 700 year old arthritic ass. Smitty sees them as useful, humans are willing to fight and die for gold, and if a human army is wiped out, in 40-50 years, their numbers are back. They also trade gold for iron, and food for useless gemstones. Milly quite likes the non-dwarves, they are bright and interesting, noisy and chaotic.
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Sagely Advice / Re: Khazad Collaboration Thread
« Last post by Scrasamax on January 07, 2017, 06:18:20 AM »
Thus far I like. Rather than three brothers, I would say a lineage, a dwarf and his son, and his son's son. The 1st dwarf, Ernie, was young when the clan arrived at their new hall at the end of a migration, to move into the first excavations dug into the mountain and to press themselves to the task of burrowing out their new home, and clearing and inspecting the land around it. Among dwarves, Earnie has had a variegated career. He has dug, he has fought, he has made things, but his skills took him most strongly with wood. He was a forestal, tending the woods around the new hold, clearing out undesirable trees, and planting the seeds and acorns of the wood they wanted. He has spent literal centuries raising his family, tending a forest that wasn't there before (free of those bothersome wastrel barmy elves)

He is now old, and the paterfamilias, and very much the epitome of the ideal dwarf. Like you said, when he speaks it is not for conversation, it is to tell everyone how things are going to be, and generally ends said discussions. He is retired. (Hemingway, the Greatest Generation, The Great Depression, killin Nazis, a calloused thumb checking the edge of an ax, the patience that can only be instilled though age and lingering injuries)

The middle dwarf is Earnie's eldest son, the next in line to lead the clan (not all the dwarves in the hold, just the extended family) Born after the establishment of the hold, after the main excavation was complete, he doesn't know a time before the hold. Where his father was a steward and a forestal, this son is a blacksmith, the most respected of dwarven trades. His father can make useful things with hammer and flame, such as nails, ax heads, hammers, climbing gear, and saws. This son can make the great weapons of the dwarves, the moon bladed axes, the banded hammers and flails, and the suits of dwarven armor and the forgemasks that the most gifted smiths wear so that they can get closer to their fires, to work the metal at greater heat. 

He is middle aged, and there are many dwarves who look up to him, because when the drums are beat and it is time to make war, to defend the home, he is among those who lead. (Michael Creighton, young baby boomer/old gen X-er, the 70s oil crisis, watching molten iron poured from a bull ladle, the confidence of the professional professional)

The youngest dwarf is Smitty's youngest son, and by the time of his birth, the hold was well and deeply established. There have been no great wars during his lifetime, and he has the dwarven task of learning, he is unskilled, undisciplined, and has been told that he must apply himself to those dwarven axioms of patience, perfection, stability, excellence, and stoicism.

He is taking up trades and skills that dwarves do not favor, rebelling against their society and it's weird amalgam of libertarian and socialism norms, against their centuries long plans. (Kindle eBook writer, young millennial, celebrity crisis/scandal, deliberately doing a job poorly so you'll be fired because your dad forced you to get the job, the frustration of youth and its inherent lack of focus)
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Sagely Advice / Re: Khazad Collaboration Thread
« Last post by axlerowes on January 06, 2017, 10:52:49 PM »
Still brain storming, here are some notes on the proposed dwarf number 1

Now we have gotten into things that I find interesting.  Dwarves are Hemingway in a fantasy world! Dwarves are embodiments of classical manhood! You tossed out a few examples of what that means but we can explore this deeper.  I have been wondering what the final product of this line of thought might look like. I don’t think a straight forward description done in an encyclopedia-like voice or god-like would be appropriate for this.  What we have thus far is extremely derivative genre work and we won’t need a lot unpacking to get people on the same page. As you say when you say dwarf, most people know what you mean. Plus, I find it more fun to work out all the information first and then present it with a sidelong or indirect view.  I mentioned before, that we write up three characters.  Three dwarven males, brothers perhaps (having three sons might be rarity among dwarves as you describe them) and with the long life spans of dwarves the difference in ages could be large. Each brother could possess different aspects of manhood, we don’t need to and should not make conclusions, but lay out the characters in such a ways the conclusions can be drawn. I don’t know if I will ever get to all three, but here is the notes on the outward personality of the youngest.   

1)   A dwarven Hemingway: The challenge though is that Hemingway was an emo and indulgent dude. So it maybe to much to try and drop all that stuff on the page, but we can put out some discreet details regarding habits and general behaviors.
a.   Big game hunter.  The Ernie dwarf could, like Hemingway, hunt animals for sport. Let say this dwarf does it for the trophy and not for the thrill.  The desire to hunt, to stalk something beautiful and elusive and then to take it for oneself as away of feeling connected to it and in control of it could be very dwarven.  Is a griffin head trophy any less of a treasure than a gem stone?   Is this behavior characteristic of manhood? Not according to your ‘hunt for food not for sport’ example, because this behavior isn’t pragmatic.  But big game hunting probably fits Hemingway’s definition of guts. Of course, this dwarf hunts with traps elaborate traps, cause you know ...dwarves and traps go together.
b.   Confrontational: There is a lot of reasons a person might be confrontational, but lets say our Hemingway, like the original was propertied to be,  is thin skinned. I think this particular trait will be helpful in exploring dwarven    (A mixed blessing with using a Hemingway template is that we all think we know Hemingway.  It is hard not to take autobiographical view of Hemingway’s fiction, and though I recognize the danger in that, I think it is safe to do here because we are talking about the Hemingway persona. You could make a good argument that despite the fist fights and acerbic notes to his critics, Hemingway was not a confrontational person. I’ve always wondered if both the boxer-confrontational- and the narrator –suffering in silence- in The Sun Also Rises represent Hemingway’s different response to romantic turmoil. At any rate, I am going with the brawler who told F. Scott Fitzgerald to “kiss his ass” when that writer criticized his work and inspired Dorothy Parker to throw a type writer has his head. )
c.   Over bearing: I imagine this is the guy who unapologetically tells you how it is. The kind of guy that likes to sit at the head of the table and direct the conversation by asking trivia questions to which he knows the answer and routinely starts sentences with the word “Actually”. Of course as dwarf there are fewer sentences but you take my meaning.  In the realm of this man’s truth there is no room for anyone else’s truth.  I think the voice you have been using to describe the dwarves in this thread could be this guys voice.
d.   Guts and Grace: You can’t have Hemingway without guts right. (I know Scras’s is a literary scholar, but I didn’t really get into Hemingway until my mid-20s, and didn’t learn this thing about “guts” until I started reading Dorothy Parker’s essays a few years ago. Hemingway defined guts as “grace under pressure”. According to Chekov, “grace is doing something effectively with the fewest possible movements.”) I think guts and grace are two things we owe our Hemingway dwarf. It would fit with the Big Game hunting because all your preparation can come down to a single high pressure moment. For all our Ernie dwarf’s faults, if he still has Grace and Guts then he is worth having around.
e.   Younger Generation and Rebel: This guy is s rugged individualist, a rebel. By describing what he rebels against, we get to see what the mainstream dwarves are really about.
f.   Grimdark: It is Scras’s setting and these are the heavy metal dwarves of Westeros (not literally but that is how Scras described em) so untimately this guys fate needs to be tragic and hopeless. Like Hemmingway this is the kind of guy that is going to end up blowing his brains out or the like.


Now I need some details: The main mountain hall, the history of these Grimdark dwarves.


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Sagely Advice / Re: Minons
« Last post by EchoMirage on January 06, 2017, 03:18:28 PM »
24) Mana Wyrms (Shamelessly stolen from Hearthstone) - little wyrmlings that feed of waste mana - such as left behind by the casting of spells. Luckily, their boss is a wizard, and each spell will buff his horde - and so will each spell cast by the heroes.
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Citadel Tavern / December 2016 Highlights
« Last post by Kevin Cook on January 06, 2017, 10:13:37 AM »
If you are not interested in new or rare dice that were added to the worlds largest collection of dice this month ... Please ignore this post




To see the highlights of dice added in December 2016 
Click on the photo of the Xierra Machu Pichu dice d20 above



29
Sagely Advice / Re: Khazad Collaboration Thread
« Last post by axlerowes on January 06, 2017, 07:33:16 AM »


These are some good points.  First as to the solider thing, we just need to decide where to come down on that issue. Do the Dwarves use citizen soldiers who drill on the "weekends" and keep their kit at home like in early Republican Rome or some of the Pre-Alexandrian greek city states?  Are the dwarves hyper-specialized and military service would be just another specialization?  And if so are the fighting dwarves the lesser dwarves (in terms of the social hierarchy)?  If there are a lesser status but specialized, then why do dwarves enter the military (there could be numerous reasons)? How is it incentivized? Does it provide social mobility? Does it come with a weakly-economic and non-political type of celebrity (like gladiators might have)?   Any way, I could see arguments for all forms.  If we answer these questions we might have other answers. Are these gritty heavy metal dwarves ready to charge the line for king and country seduced by the ego stroking nobility and righteousness of personal sacrifice or are they self-motivated individualistic warriors who can work as a tight team but are really in it for personal glory and success (like the early Anglo-saxons or the vikings)?

Quote
As for the cultural plateau, it may be a direct result of the dwarven way - they have established procedures that work, and have a tested and true way for most things. Improving anything takes great effort, so their progress will be very slow. Example: a highly efficient steam engine is way better than early combustion engines. Why would Dwarves consider internal combustion an improvement? In human society, there will always be chaos and tumult that leads to improvement leaps (and catastrophes) on a regular basis. Dwarves are *stable*....Combined with the slow population growth, their plateau will come when they know how to do everything well enough, and start doing it over and over, just expanding at a glacial pace. The vibrant, progressive Dwarf *loves* innovation. Once they start to scoff at innovation in general, for the sake of the tried and true, that's when the plateau arrives. With a highly technological race, the mindset of technological rigidity will likely be mirrored in rigidity in other areas of life. Nothing is ever perfect - and if you think it is, you prevent improvement.
  This is a point I am interested in exploring.  I will try to write up a dwarf that scoffs at innovation vs the older dwarves that sought innovation. Yes, I'd really like to work that theme into a plot, perhaps a specific example of innovation that leads to catastrophe but also expose the mindset of the plateau dwarves vs the upswing dwarves.  This also directly deals with the cliche technological stagnation in fantasy settings that Scras was lamenting in a recent post.

Quote
(I suggest reading up on how technology improved in the imperial days of Rome, it's ... interesting).
  This is something I have often wondered about and not found a good source.  The few histories of the ancient world I have read (really few, I could probably name them all) describe a much better distribution of technology during imperial Rome, changes to what you might call "social technology" but I have not found one that really focuses on the changes in hard technologies.  In terms of physics and math, it often seems to me (evidence of my ignorance and the biases of american education) that you go Aristotle and the knowledge he generated and complied, then a hiccup with Arcamedies, hiccup with Al-Khwarizmi and then *bam* Newton.  So please, fill me in and direct me where to find more, I am really interested.
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Sagely Advice / Re: Khazad Collaboration Thread
« Last post by EchoMirage on January 06, 2017, 03:41:05 AM »
As for the craftswarf vs. phalanx dwarf distinction, if you look up early Rome, you will note that the fighters were middle class. To our over-specialised selves, it may appear unlikely, but in fact it was possible to be an excellent all-rounder then. This will be even more true with long-lived Dwarves. A proper Dwarf works well, and when the time comes, fights well.

As for the cultural plateau, it may be a direct result of the dwarven way - they have established procedures that work, and have a tested and true way for most things. Improving anything takes great effort, so their progress will be very slow. Example: a highly efficient steam engine is way better than early combustion engines. Why would Dwarves consider internal combustion an improvement? In human society, there will always be chaos and tumult that leads to improvement leaps (and catastrophes) on a regular basis. Dwarves are *stable*.

(I suggest reading up on how technology improved in the imperial days of Rome, it's ... interesting).

Combined with the slow population growth, their plateau will come when they know how to do everything well enough, and start doing it over and over, just expanding at a glacial pace. The vibrant, progressive Dwarf *loves* innovation. Once they start to scoff at innovation in general, for the sake of the tried and true, that's when the plateau arrives. With a highly technological race, the mindset of technological rigidity will likely be mirrored in rigidity in other areas of life. Nothing is ever perfect - and if you think it is, you prevent improvement.
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