Category Archives: Parallel Reality

THE WYRDROAD

THE WYRDROAD

By the way, I’ve mentioned this before but I have a new Facebook Gaming page up. It reflects the interests of this blog and you are welcome to go there and join and then participate and make your own posts.

Here is the Address: Wyrdroad

HOLMES

Ian McKellen is Sherlock in first look teaser trailer for Mr Holmes

Ian McKellen is Sherlock in first look teaser trailer for Mr Holmes

By Sarah Doran

Wednesday 4 March 2015 at 04:15PM

Step aside Sherlock, Mr Holmes has arrived and he means business.

A new teaser trailer gives us our first look at Ian McKellen’s take on the iconic character in the forthcoming film Mr Holmes.

Adapted from Mitch Cullin’s 2005 novel A Slight Trick of The Mind, the film follows the world famous sleuth in 1947 when he has retired to a remote Sussex farmhouse, living in relative anonymity with only his housekeeper Mrs Munro and her young son Roger for company.

Cantankerous, demanding and frustrated with the misrepresentation of him in Watson’s best-selling novels, he diverts his attention to an unsolved case. As the mystery deepens, Sherlock tries desperately to recall the events of 30 years ago that ultimately led to his retirement.

Directed by Oscar-winner Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters), McKellen leads an all star cast featuring Academy Award nominee Laura Linney (The Savages), Frances de la Tour (Harry Potter) and newcomer Milo Parker.

And as the first poster for the film reveals, he certainly has no trouble channeling the mystery solving man from 221b Baker Street.

Mr Holmes will be released in UK cinemas on June 19th

THE COLLEGES TO COME?

Following up on the LARPful post. This could be an excellent stimulus for the imagination. Especially for writers. artists, actors, and perhaps even scientists who wanted a free-flowing environment to conduct chemical and physical experiments and make observations in a fun environment.

I can also see this being transformed easily into a Vadding Experience (the exploration of both modern and older ruins), that is LARPing could be used an an environment to train Vadders.

And finally this could also be easily used as a platform to develop ARGs (Alternate Reality Games and LARPs) and could even be used to train participants in Real World Skills (TSS: Transferable Skill Simulations) and in subjects such as ancient technologies and history.

So this could also easily become a GPAD, a Game of Personal Advancement and Development.

Anyway as far as the current Crowdfunding Project goes Claus, Good Luck and Godspeed. To you, your partners, and participants.

 

LARPFUL, LARK-LESS

I admit, I’ve always had a prejudice against LARPing. I’ve always considered it the sort of live-action joke of acting, and the running gag of gaming.

But I also gotta admit. It’s come a long, long way in recent years. Some of this looks really interesting, and would be especially so if you were a kid.

Live Action Role-Playing has a way of sinking its (metaphorical) claws into you. Consider American journalist Lizzie Stark, who in 2011 visited the Knudepunkt conference in Denmark, the most influential larp gathering of its kind. There, she climbed into the rabbit hole and never came out. I know, because I gave her a hug not two hours ago at this year’s conference. She’s still a journalist, and recently published a stunning book on breast cancer, but she’s also an avid larper and game designer in her own right.

“Discovering the Nordic scene felt like reading James Joyce or Gertrude Stein after spending a lifetime on fairy tales,” she wrote in her 2012 book about larping, Leaving Mundania. What would turn a critical American journalist into a die-hard larper? Good question, but let’s step back a bit here. Larp is organized pretend play. During a larp, participants dress up as characters and leave their normal lives behind for a while. A larp can be about cowboys in 1886, witches and wizards at a magical college, or an advertising agency from hell. Instead of watching or listening, you’re an active part of the experience. It’s like stepping into a TV show or novel. Or kids playing. Both descriptions are accurate.

The author as a general commanding 200 soldiers at Warlarp. Photo: Anders BernerNordic larp, the type that gets the most press, and the one in which I participate, evolved out of the scenes in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland (but not Iceland, the other Nordic country). Not only does some of the most outrageous and mind-blowing stuff happen there (want to play soulless ad execs or tortured prisoner for fun? Nordic larp is for you), the Nordic larp movement has also spawned the world’s most celebrated larp conference. It’s called Knudepunkt (“Nodal Point”) and has taken place annually since 1997. It’s a 100 percent volunteer-driven event, where larp enthusiasts of all stripes come together to discuss, play, and party.

The event has slowly grown from around a hundred participants from the four Nordic countries (sorry, Iceland) to almost 600 this year from almost 30 different countries. It’s a magical playground like no other, where devoted hobbyists and academics stay up late at night to rant about subjects like realistic characters, psychological safety, and techniques to simulate rape.

Simulated rape? Really? Yeah. I started out larping for shits and giggles, and while I still do that, I sometimes also larp for more serious purposes these days. I’ve played a prisoner in a not-that-long-after-tomorrow prison and have been tortured using genuine Gitmo techniques. I’ve been a jealous husband in an 1829 Jane Austen romantic comedy. And I’ve played a heartless peacekeeping soldier, who couldn’t care less about the locals. Not all of this has been “fun,” but all have been experiences I treasure and which have helped form me.

Maybe that’s why I love this hobby, and especially this conference, so much. At one moment, I’ll be at a lecture where a Finnish Ph.D. in Game Studies is earnestly telling us all why we need to rethink our definition of “games,” and at the next moment, I’ll be knee-deep in a Russian presentation about larps in the 90’s, and hear a story of how some deranged madman thought he was actually the “Son of Sauron”—yeah, that Sauron, the bad guy from Lord of the Rings. I know, Sauron wasn’t big on sons, but this guy wasn’t big on reason, either.

I was 13 when I started larping. My friend Jeppe and I used a bizarre-looking club as a shared weapon, and our costumes were bed sheets with a hole cut out at the head. The club included materials like “crappy stick,” “lumps of felt,” ”newspaper” and was a bright orange colour. Bright orange. And nobody cared—least of all people from the outside.

The author at a young age at the Knudepunkt 2000 conference. Photo courtesy Claus Raasted.Now I’m 35, and my latest larp project was a four-day event about witches and wizards held at an honest-to-Gandalf fairytale castle. It got featured in People and TIME and on MTV, Fox News, and Good Morning America. And they didn’t talk about us like we were freaks and weirdos. “You guys, they have a castle for this larp. A real, freaking castle,” one journalist wrote. Granted, the author does write for Nerdist, which, needless to say, is on the nerdy side of the media spectrum. But the strange thing was the writer for Teen Vogue magazine was just as enthusiastic.

“Hello, I live in San Diego, California,” an email from a would-be participant began, “and I saw your website published on Teen Vogue.”

WTF!?

I’ve been participating in larps for two decades, and even though I’ve been part of the avant-garde Nordic larp movement for more than a decade, I can say for sure that this one caught me flatfooted. When I was a teenager larping was a hobby for the weird, the bright, and the creative. We definitely didn’t read Teen Vogue, and I swear by Spock’s ears that Teen Vogue didn’t write about us.

But all that has changed. The Interwebz is good for many things, and only 90 percent of them are porn. One thing it’s great at is connecting communities. I remember watching a documentary about Star Wars stormtrooper fans some years back. There was this guy from Mexico (or somewhere equally populated, but remote) who was the only dude in his village who thought Star Wars was cool. But due to the power of the electronic superhighways, he found kindred spirits all over the world. He was no longer alone, and now his story has been told to millions of people around the world because of that documentary.

I wasn’t that stormtrooper, but I know a bit about how he felt. When I started larping in 1993, we were maybe a thousand larpers in Denmark. Now, more than 100,000 Danes larp, and I’ve had sit-downs with Danish ministers (plural) about why larping is something they should be aware of. We’ve come a long way, and one of the reasons we’ve gotten to where we are today is because some people got together at the first Knudepunkt conference in 1997 and talked about their hobby in a serious way.

The author being tortured at Kapo in 2011. Photo by Peter Munthe-Kaas.So why do we do it? We do we take games so seriously? Isn’t it just about having fun? Well, sure. But “fun” can mean many things. I’m also quite sure that no one will mock Johnny Depp for taking his acting seriously even in comedic roles. If creative expression was only about getting a few laughs and making people feel good, there’d be no Schindler’s List, no Oedipus, and definitely no Passion of the Christ.

And now I’ve got to go. Because I need to explain to some critical firebrands that we shouldn’t be afraid of the girl from Teen Vogue who wants to pretend she’s a witch in a magical castle. We should remember that all journeys of the imagination begin somewhere, and that the easiest way to get people to understand the rabbit hole is to make them want to jump into it.

After all, if we’re to come out of the shadows and into the light, we have to show the world that while we may sometimes pretend to be vampires who dislike the sunlight, we do it in cool and interesting ways.

Claus Raasted

Claus Raasted has made his living doing larps since 2002, and is the author of 17 books on the subject. His most famous project is the Harry Potter inspired larp “College of Wizardry”, which made its rounds on global media in December 2014. When he’s not busy with projects, he’s happily married and is the proud owner of 100 kgs of LEGO.

HEROES AGAIN?

Zachary-Levi.jpg

Image Credit: Robin Marchant/Getty Images

Zachary Levi has signed on to star in NBC’s Heroes Reborn, EW has confirmed.

A relaunch of the original superhero drama, which ran from 2006 to 2010, the 13-episode event series will feature a brand new story, though Jack Coleman is slated to reprise his role as Noah Bennett, a.k.a. HRG.

“We’re still keeping Zac’s role under wraps because everything is shrouded in mystery for this miniseries, but we’re very excited he’s been cast,” NBC boss Bob Greenblatt told reporters at the Television Critics Associations winter TV previews, noting that more castings will be announced over the next few weeks.

Added Levi: “One of my first, and fondest, memories of joining the NBC family in 2007 was having the pleasure of getting to know Tim Kring, and the cast of Heroes. I was a fan of their collective work and always thought it was such a fantastic and fun world they got to play in. With Heroes: Reborn, I’m honored to have the opportunity to bring more of that world to life, and excited to help in offering the fans of the franchise an epic new installation of a series that made such a huge impact on entertainment.”

Levi’s casting marks a return for the actor to NBC after starring on Chuck. He’s previously dipped his toe in the superhero waters after co-starring in Thor: The Dark World.

As for other original castmembers returning for the relaunch, Greenblatt said, “Jack’s the way in—and I’m not trying to be coy because we just don’t know—but I think you’ll see several of the old cast popping in to episodes.” Who would you like to see return?

COMPACT OF THE BASILEGATE

This is the compact or agreement which is signed by every character who wishes to serve in the Basilegate. Of course the requirements to be chosen are rigorous (they were looser in the beginning but became more standardized and more selective over time) and one cannot just join, one must be both sponsored and invited since the very existence of the group is unknown to most people, including most high representatives of the government, military, and church. No one, even the Team Members themselves are absolutely certain who knows of their existence and who does not, and whereas many people know of the group’s existence as a Diplomatic Team, this is merely a cover for their far more secretive and covert activities.

There is no such Compact or agreement undertaken by members of other teams though the Hoshi has an oral agreement, the Oro does as well, and the Caerkara has a legal agreement but nothing really similar to the Compact, which details duties, careers, obligations, rewards, and future potential advancements.

 

Compact Of The Basilegate

By authority of the Emperor Nikephorus, Basileus of New Rome and the Roman Empire, it has been ordered that the Strategion, War Academy of Constantinople, create an official legation known as the Basilegate, the Imperial Legate, to be constituted in the year 805 Anno Domini.

This legation shall be charged with those official duties expressly demanded by Emperor Nicephorus and his representatives. These duties shall include, but are not limited to the following services; Work against the enemies of the empire, internal and external, the suppression of enemy raids and pirating activities, land and seas, the securing of lawless areas and the capture or elimination of criminals, action as official enquirers, action as emissaries and diplomats and as representatives of the Empire and King, and to render whatever other services are deemed fit and necessary by the Empire. That this legation shall swear allegiance to the Emperor and his servants and representatives and shall swear allegiance to the Church in order to serve the Empire as needed.

This legation shall by law and structure be attached to the Strategion and shall receive their orders from the War Academy and from those representatives of the Emperor placed in command of the legation.

The legation shall be initially equipped at Imperial expense, which shall provide arms and armor, and tack, tackle, and gear for their provision. All additional gear and equipment will be provided from War Franchise at reduced cost, as well as reduced cost for training and what additional supplies are as required for the execution of official duties. In addition such travel expenses as are accrued, either by land or by sea shall be compensated as long as those expenses are acquired by conduct of official assignment. Furthermore all additional expenses shall likewise be compensated, whether of travel or of board or equipment or supplies or of food and the legation shall be housed at imperial expense whenever they are stationed in Constantinople.

Whatever additional rewards accrue to the legation shall be theirs to keep and dispense with as they see fit, but the legation shall not be empowered to collect fees or levy taxes in the name of Empire, Emperor or Church. They shall not levy taxes or fees of any kind while executing official duties but may keep rewards and payments they receive for additional services in the name of the empire as long as such additional services do not detract from or conflict with their primary duties and services.

This legation shall travel and execute their duties with the full approval and official support of Empire and Church, but shall remain a secret legation, unknown to the general populace and civil and military authorities, with the exception of those individuals and authorities who need to be aware of the nature of the legation. The legation will travel as needed in disguise. The legation shall be free to act as necessary to execute their duties and are fully empowered to take whatever actions necessary to execute their duties as long as such actions do not imperil the sacred honor of Emperor, Empire or Christian sanctity.

In reward of six years of honorable service this legation and all of the individuals of this legation shall receive in compensation; farm lands of their own in Anatolia, severance pay upon termination, and their farm lands shall be free from annual land taxes, in perpetua. In addition if the members of this legation shall further continue their service beyond the term of their six years either as a renewed legate, or in order to train their successors, or to teach at War Academy or University then they shall also receive; a small estate built upon their granted farm lands, shall be empowered to levy taxes for the Imperial Theme which they inhabit, and shall be granted a seat with the Emperor in Constantinople during Communions performed on High Holy Days. The enumerations of this contract shall constitute the entirety of the duties and compensations respected by all members of this legation and their superiors and their Emperor.

End of Compact

WESTERN MAN and THE DRAGON BLADE

There is very little “historical” about this film. And they have obviously Chinese-filmed up and heavily stylized (and cheapened) the armor and many of the weapons. Meaning even less historicity.

Nevertheless, when I was in college one of the first plays I ever wrote was called Western Man. It was about a Greek Christian who had served his enlistment in the Roman Army in North Africa and Syria and decided to travel East along the Silk Road with some of his fellow Greeks as a merchant and wanderer. Eventually he ends up in Western China and settles and marries there, where, because of invasion (being a Christian he hopes the latter part of his life will be peaceful and almost monastic) he must train the surrounding village in Roman fighting tactics at the same time many of them wish to learn about Christianity.

In the resulting warfare his wife his killed and he decides to return West with his infant son, only to make it as far as Samarkand where he ends up becoming the chief merchant and wealthiest man in the city (shy of the rulers).

For that reason alone I am intrigued by the premise of this film and wonder if the film might actually have a shot at being good. I’d like to think it possible anyway.

The Trailer for Dragon Blade, Starring Jackie Chan and John Cusack

December 26, 2014

Dragon Blade

Although the Chinese production is not yet set for an official release domestically, the historical epic Dragon Blade will open on February 18, 2015 in China in regular, 3D and IMAX 3D theaters. The film has now debuted a first trailer, via Check Magazine, and you can check it out for yourself in the player below!

Directed by Daniel Lee (14 Blade, Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon), Dragon Blade stars Jackie Chan (Rush Hour, 1911), John Cusack (Being John Malkovich, High Fidelity), Adrien Brody (The Darjeeling Limited, Splice), Peng Lin (Little Big Soldier, The Viral Factor), Si Won Choi (“Athena: Goddess of War,” “Extravagant Challenge”) and Sharni Vinson (You’re Next, Bait). Chan also produces Dragon Blade alongside Susanna Tsang.

Set in China during the Han dynasty (206-220 AD), Dragon Blade follows Huo An (Chan), an official framed and enslaved for a crime he didn’t commit. Soon thereafter, however, he meets Roman soldier in Cusack’s Lucius and the pair begin to form an unlikely alliance.

We’ve also updated our Dragon Blade gallery with quite a few stills from the new film and with character posters featuring Chan, Brody, Cusack and many more. Check them all out in the gallery viewer at the bottom of this page.

 

THE FAERY TAILS…

Excellent Work!

Russian Photographer Captures Fairy-Tale Scenes With REAL Animals

When Moscow-based photographer Darya Kondratyeva isn’t snapping family, maternity or baby photos, she creates enchanting photos that seem like re-interpretations of old fairytales or legends. The models in her photos seem like they could be witches, princesses or forest spirits.

Aside from her models, trained animals feature heavily in Kondratyeva’s fantasy photography as well. Each one seems like it might open its mouth and whisper a wise secret into the model’s ear.

Kondratyeva’s work is similar to that of Katerina Plotnikova and Margarita Kareva, two other Russian photographers we’ve written about who also have sharp eyes for capturing folkloric images and settings.

More info: dasha-kond.com | Vkontakte

CHARACTER PARTIES AND BACKGROUND MODELS

These are some of the characters that appear both in my gaming worlds (which are in some ways practice worlds and scenarios/situations for my fictional and fantasy/mythological writings)  and my fictional writings. Now, that being true even my gaming worlds are pseudo or proto-historical, or might be thought of as an alternative historical environment or milieu. They are not merely entirely fanciful or fantastic. Nevertheless they are also not entirely fictional, but partially fictional and partially historical. That being said here are the characters and the various parties or teams those characters belong to.

The Basilegate and the Consociatio are mortal enemies.

 

CHARACTER PARTIES AND BACKGROUND MODELS

THE BASILEGATE (The Emperor’s Legate)

Vlachus – a former Armenian missionary, who was called by the Patriarch of Constantinople to assist with the attempt to Christianize the Balkans. He attached himself to the Monastery of Myrelaion where he has served as both priest and missionary. Recommended by the Prelate of the Monastery for the Basilegate assignment. Known for his toughness and dogged determination, for his forgiving nature and his amazing success as a missionary to the East. Single, with two younger brothers, Largus, a leatherworker, and Klemis, a smith and soldier of the Armenian theme. Both parents are dead. His insignia is the Holy Star and he is of the Gold Deme.

Luthemia Casel Venetia – a Latin nun of Venice, sent to Constantinople as an official delegate and representative of the Pope. Widely rumored to be a Wizard, in addition to being an unofficial Cleric, and appointed to the Basilegate because of her extraordinary reputation as both a Saintly and miraculous nun and a Scientae. Single, an only child, and considered a prodigy as a youth. Her father is dead but her mother Sandra still lives. She was once married but now never speaks of her former husband and it is unknown whether he lives or is dead. Her insignia is the Cross and she is of the White (Foreign) Deme

Drakgarm – a former Viking of Gotar who traveled south into the Russian lands and eventually passed through the Iron Gate into the Balkans. While nearly dead from wounds received on a raid he was rescued by Orthodox monks who healed him and converted him. Upon recovering he traveled to Constantinople where he entered the monastery of Studios and became a fighting monk for the Empire. Recommended by the Abbot of Studios for his devotion and enormous physical strength and power. He had one brother, Braedon, and one sister, Yvette, but their whereabouts are unknown. His parents are both dead. Single and childless. His insignia is the Rose and he is of the Red Deme.

Larmaegeon – a Welsh Bard of Caerlean in the British Isles he was trained by the High Bards of Britain, the poetic descendants of the Druids. He was converted when a young boy by Roman Christians, but continued his studies among the Bards in Wales and Ireland. He claims that his mother was Aelfish and that therefore he is Haelfla. He has one half brother, Cimmeus, who considers himself Roman and British, rather than Celtic and Welsh. Cimmeus’ father was killed in battle with the Picts and Larmaegeon was said to have been sired by an unknown person after his mother Eponia became pregnant by a stranger she refused to speak of. Very worldly and unattached he will woo women freely. His personal insignia is the Holly Leaf and he has adopted the Green Deme. Chosen for the Basilegate due to his extensive language capabilities, his diplomatic skill and his knowledge and travels in the West.

Suegenius “The Dwarf” – a Galatian Slav, nicknamed the Dwarf due to his small statue and tough disposition. A very hardy man, very skillful in technical matters and an excellent spy and infiltrator. Raised a Christian in Galatia by his mother Yarlas who was also small, he is unaware of who his father was as his mother would never speak of it. He is unaware of any siblings or other relations, and also unaware of any children though it is possible he may have produced children with any number of women. Immigrated to Constantinople, briefly arrested and flogged for theft, escaped, recaptured and offered freedom and pardon for service in the Basilegate. Attached to no Deme, no personal insignia.

Klura – sometimes called “prav Sagae” due to her reputed powers of the soul, which she possessed form a very early age. She was a former Rus Barbarian who lived in the village of Kiev until traveling south with a caravan to Constantinople. While in the City she began to attend Mass and became a devout convert and briefly entered an unknown hermitage, where the hermitess there supposedly helped her refine her many gifts. Considered a witch and an outcast by her pagan sister Drexa and by her mother Rulliss, she is nevertheless loved by her father Sergei. Unmarried and childless, though she has a suitor named Theocytio, a Rhodesian sailor. Of the White Deme, her insignia is a White Rose. Chosen by her reputation for psychic gifts and her reputed ability to foresee the future.

Marsippius Nicea – originally from Nicea, and from a long line of distinguished and professional soldiers, he served a short time along the Western Frontiers and was then transferred to Constantinople by the Prefect of Nicea in order to honor the service of his father Marsimmius Stratus, a city Consul of Nicea and former Imperator of the Thracian Theme, and to give advancement to the son. Middle Son of a large family including; Marsimmius Duotus, a Centurion of the Thracian Legion and eldest son, Galinda, the eldest daughter, Talera, the youngest daughter, Marsippius, and Darinius an estate farmer and Senator of Adrianople. Both his father Marsimmius Stratus, and his mother, Lucia still live. His family also consists of many famous cousins, and nephews. Married to the noblewoman Celena they currently have no children. While in the capital he impressed one of the Sub Prefects of the Strategion with his intelligence and capabilities, and was recommended for the Basilegate. Family native of the Blue Deme, his personal insignia
is the Cross.

Edomios – a young Paladin who had served the Mayoral line of the Pepins in the West in Barcelona, Spain. Sent East to train and to learn the ways of the Oriental Palademes of the Byzantine Empire and to act as a liaison between the Court of Charlemagne and the Court of the Emperor Nicephorus. The village in which his parents lived was overrun by the Moors and both his father Emus and his mother Chiara are now missing and presumed dead. He has three young teenage daughters; Alisa, Elena, and Maria by his wife Doria, a Greek woman. His family is housed in the Venetian Quarter. Raised as a Latin Christian he has sworn his sword and service to the Church and to both Empires, East and West. Adopted the Green Deme, and his insignia is the Anchor.

 

Rhorric of Capadocia – a Vigilante’s Vigilante. For many years Rhorric served the Capadocian and Armenian themes as a Frontiersman, an enforcer of the law, an imperial Scout and a spy. Eschewing life in the cities, towns and villages, Rhorric grew up along the frontiers, intermingling freely with various barbarian tribes, Arab raiders, pirates and mercenaries, many of whom he secretly worked against after seeming to befriend them. His grandfather, Rhomarr was a Palademe who was eventually hunted down and ambushed by a group of Dragoons and slain after enduring horrible torture. His father, Calandus escaped with the help of his unmarried uncle, Lexemes, a Vigilante, but his father never became a Paladin or Ranger and forbade Rhorric to pursue Paladinhood or Vigilantism. After the death of his father, and his mother Rheda, Rhorric located his elderly uncle who trained him to become a Ranger and made him swear vengeance against the killers of his grandfather and against all Dragoons, but especially against the Antipaladins. Since then he has led a secret and disguised life assisting the empire, hunting criminals and searching for the murderers of his grandfather. Not an official or sanctioned member of the Basilegate he is nevertheless a trusted and secretive ally. He has one younger brother named Critius, a merchant, and a married sister, neither of whom he has seen in years and both of whom assume he is dead. Of no Deme, but with the personal insignia of a Fish intertwined by a Serpent.

CONSOCIATIO

Leticus Cambrius (Antipaladus) – an Ebone Dragoon whose family was wiped out during a Germanic raid into Northern Italy, he was the only member of his family to escape the massacre. He was taken in by an Italian nobleman at Ravenna who was secretly of the Dragon order. Raising the boy as his own and renaming him he enrolled him under the tutelage of a famous black Dragoon who gave him the nickname Antipaladus after he killed his first Paladin at the age of sixteen by ambush. Since that time Leticus has become a devoted, almost fanatical slayer of Paladins, mainly by treachery.

Seth ben Hamar – an Hellenic Jew and Rogue from Alexandria, his background is secretive. He seems to hire out his services in a mercenary manner to the highest bidder. He has been in the employ of Leticus for nearly six years.

Semius – a Latin Argent Dragoon, Semius is older and more experienced than anyone else in his party, having lived through 2 wars, several battles and numerous raids. Since the Dragoons are no longer an official or sanctioned group under the pope he has served his masters by infiltration of various military units where he has acted as both a spy and an agent of sedition.

Cedred – a Spanish Negro and former friend of Edomios, who helped free him from slavery, Cedred is also a secret member of the Hispanic clan of the Crimson Dragoons, whom he has been employed by since his first year of freedom. Cedred sees the Dragoons as a method of assuring his freedom for the rest of his life, and fears to detach himself from their service.

Austranul – a young Emerald Dragoon whose distant ancestor, Stranius, helped to establish the original contingent of Dragoons in Rome and who helped to persecute the original Cavaliers, Austranul is determined to make a reputation among his masters as a vicious and ruthless hunter of all of the offspring of the Cavaliers. He most desires to hunt down any direct descendants of the Cavaliers, as he still believes that the Cavaliers exist as a secretive group in exile somewhere in Byzantium or in the Balkans.
Galtostelain – with Christianity under Charlemagne threatening to convert or tame most all of the Germanic tribes and the descendants of the Celts, Galtostelain, a Germano-Frank who considers himself one of the last of the Druids, hopes to both take vengeance on the Christians and most especially the Paladins, and to follow the ancient migration of the Celts to Galatia. Once in Galatia he hopes to lead a new pagan rebirth of Druidism and desires to raise an army to return to the West and crush Charlemagne and the Latin Church.

Mucheria – an Italian Stregas (Witch) Sorceress known for her great beauty and cunning, as well as her Elturgic skill, she has sworn vengeance against all holy men of the Church. While still a small girl she was abducted and violently raped by a traveling heretical monk who eventually tired of her and abandoned her, believing he had strangled her to death. She survived and vowed vengeance. Eventually she located an old pagan witch to teach her Elcraft and has used her charms to lure many monks and priests into her bed where she has then used magic to kill them and disgrace their parish. She eventually left Italy and briefly became the lover of Seth ben Hamar in north Africa before going to work for Leticus.

Cargis and Tellos – two Macedonian brothers and highwaymen, taught to murder and steal by their father and uncles. They have lived most of their short lives as Barbarian mercenaries and robbers and have gained a vicious reputation for torture and murder.

Iodamas – not attached to any particular party this strange creature nevertheless despises Christian clerics and their soldier champions, the Paladins. Said to be the offspring of a woman who was raped and carried away by a hideous and vile, but extremely cunning monster or spirit, she often wanders deserted cliff areas or wilderness caves where she lures men to death with her song and illusions. She is said to be able to use her formidable powers of soul to appear as a ravenously beautiful woman or handsome man until a person is close enough to look into her eyes, and then the person realizes he is looking into the misshapen face of a horrid, daemonic countenance with hair and mouth covered by the tentacles of a sea creature. Some swear that she is none other than the sister of the ancient Greek goddess Athena, and that she was turned to stone when she accidentally saw the head of the Gorgon, Medusa. But that Athena begged Zeus to bring her back to life, but that when he refused Athena went to Plutus who did resurrect her, but only as a hideous monster who could mimic the illusion of her former beauty, not as her real self. Because of this, or perhaps because of the fact that she is said to engorge herself on the flesh and blood of her victims while they still live, eating the hapless soul alive, she is called “the Gorge” by those who know of her.

 

THE EASTERN HOSHI (Foot-Bridge)

Namamitu – Traveling to China from Japan with a delegation lead by the Bhiksu Kukai, the Japanese Shoensa Namamitu is chosen by Kukai to accompany the newly formed party of the Hoshi into the West, to discover the source of the strange visions and dreams simultaneously seen by Kukai, Saicho and the Shugenja High Priest Shun Lo Tzu. Namamitu escaped from the court of the Lord Kaida as a young boy after having been falsely accused of spying for another Lord, and lived for several years off the land as a wandering robber and laborer before being accepted as a groundskeeper for the Shrine of Tamo. Kukai, having seen the young man and glimpsing his potential had him transferred to the court at Nara where he was instructed in the new legal reforms as a Shoensa. Namamitu was then returned to Kukai to serve as his personal bodyguard and attendant. Assigned by Kukai to travel west with the Hoshi to provide an armed escort for the monk Sentoku Asamura.

Sentoku Asamura – A Shugenja Monk assigned by Saicho to accompany him to China to study Chinese Buddhist scriptures. His two brothers, Nikaida and Matu died in the two ships that foundered on the trip from Japan to the mainland. Seen by many as Saicho’s most loyal attendant and most faithful friend, when the visions and rumors begin about monsters invading the World from the West Sentoku Asamura is asked to lead the secret Hoshi expedition into the West to find out what might be the cause for the invasions. Reluctant to leave his master Saicho and anxious to stay in the Orient he nonetheless consents to be the overall spiritual leader of the party and to go West as far as is necessary to determine the cause of the invasions. Known as particularly powerful spiritually and magically he is reputed to be able to speak with animals and to understand what they think and know.

Han Shu – As a young boy Han Shu lived near the Eastern Trade routes for the Silk Road. He spent many hours among Greek traders from the West and became fascinated by their culture and their peculiar religion. Eventually he learned the Greek language and spent many hours reading any material he could locate in Greek, including Christian scriptures. As he aged he applied for and was accepted into a Shaolin monastery as a Monk where he quickly gained a reputation as a brilliant linguist and scholar, as well being very good at hand to hand combat. He learned to speak several Chinese dialects, and learned to read Hindu scriptures in Sanskrit, as well as to read and speak both Japanese and Greek, among other languages. When his master Po learns from his friend Shun Lo Tzu of the party to be sent West he recommends Han Shu as a translator. Han is anxious and eager to accompany the Hoshi into the West, wanting both the see India as the birthplace of Buddhism, and because he knows that the original Buddhist missionary efforts went West instead of East, which only increases his curiosity to see the West. He hopes eventually to travel as far West as Greece and to meet
Christians he has read about in Greek stories.

Dama – An older man when he decided to give up court life in Vietnam and move into China, he became attached to an old hermit and shortly thereafter himself became a Taoist Priest. For many years afterwards he remained the devoted disciple of his hermit-master and after his master’s death he rejected his given name of To-bah and took the new name Dama. Dama wandered from place to place living off alms and begging as if a monk, but occasionally he would offer priestly assistance to any whom might obviously need it. He never provided assistance if asked to however; he would only spontaneously volunteer assistance. Gaining a reputation as a sort of people’s champion, and as an old sage, he was also said to have strange visions and would often sit in meditation for days unmoving. At the age of nearly fifty he wandered into the presence of Shun Lo Tzu, announced he knew all about the mission of the Hoshi party and demanded to be allowed to accompany the party. Lo Tzu consented without debate and Dama joined the group becoming an instant friend and mentor to Han Shu.

Wu Lee – The middle son of a famous Chinese military hero Wu Lee distinguished himself only by his reputation as a womanizer and as a drunkard. Often in trouble with both his family and his superiors he was considered reckless, a ne’er do well, and a braggart. Sent to the capital to study under a famous sword master and weapon smith he was nearly killed when he fell from his horse in a riding accident, which left him mildly paralyzed in his left leg. At first he seemed completely paralyzed but after months of convalescence, he recovered. Suddenly serious he became the most devoted and favored pupil of his master and after returning to arms he gained a new reputation as both a fanatical fighter and an honorable and heroic champion at war, being honored with the new title, Tang Xia. Considered handsome by women, he is nevertheless very self-conscious about his lameness of movement. Impressing his father, however, with his new studiousness he was sent to study for one summer at the Sho Lee temple where he was so impressive at self-discipline that he was sent onwards to the Shugenja. Recommended for the Hoshi party by Lo Tzu’s master of discipline, Hong.

Sumisara – Sumisara’s father was a wandering Bon shaman, reputedly from Tibet, and her mother was a minor Korean courtesan. Sumisara began to display unusual powers when very young which were nurtured by her father who taught her both Shamanic arts and to be a Mantrikai, a Witch Hunter. While still young her fathered wandered away into the forest and never returned, Sumisara and her mother uncertain if he was killed, lost or had simply abandoned them. Because Sumisara knew that her father was a shaman and witch hunter she refused to believe he had simply abandoned the family. As Sumisara grew she impressed local officials with her skill at poetry, some of which was often bizarre, and for her ability to tell other people very accurate details about their long dead ancestors. She gained the title Winter Blossom Maiden for her strange abilities and poetic skill. Possessing very unusual and striking features she also gained a reputation for physical beauty. After becoming an adult she went into China to look for any trace of her father. While in the capital she learned of an expedition headed West, which needed servants, cooks and porters for the supply train. She applied for, and was accepted, as a cook and porter for Dama, but secretly she is in search of her father, who once predicted that strange beasts and creatures would come from the West and that he would have to go and meet those creatures because some of them would be dangerous Witches and Demons. So Sumisara acts as a cook and servant while leading a secret life in search of her father, and while acting covertly as party Shaman and Mantrikai for the people she accompanies.

 

THE MIDDLE HOSHI

Paravasi – Considered a great sage and spiritual leader in addition to being a Yogi, Paravasi was raised to be a Brahmin but decided to forgo family precedent in order to become an aescetic and practice Raja Yoga. At the age of fourteen he retreated into the local forest and found a Yogin under whom he could study and learn. Years into his practice Paravasi began to exhibit strange powers that his guru told him to suppress as being a distraction in the pursuit of Samsara. Paravasi could not suppress these abilities however and one night while in meditation he had a vision of a Deva who visited him and told him that he was to use his Yogic powers in the future for a great mission to the West. Paravasi continued to try to suppress manifestations of his abilities and to hide them from his guru but as time passed he continued to fail to do so, and the vision of the Deva continued to recur. His guru finally told him he had to leave and seek out the reason for his strange powers and the source of his visions. Moving north he studied ever more deeply, at this time from written works and scriptures rather than under the guidance of a guru. Hearing of a strange desert monastery along the Silk Road he decided to head into the desert. While bathing along the headwaters of the Indus River in Hindu Kush Paravasi happened upon the Eastern Hoshi and was able to converse with Han Shu in the Sanskrit language. Discovering the destination of the party and that they have come West in search of supernatural events Paravasi abandons his idea of visiting the Silk Road monastery and instead joins the party in hopes of discovering the purpose of his own visions.

Sraddnayar – Raised in the Warrior Caste the Kshatriya Sraddnayar served with distinction in parts of Northern and Western India. Often employed on diplomatic missions due to his loyalty and intelligence he began to desire more and more solitude as he aged. By his twenties Sraddnayar had gained a reputation of service which included the ability to operate alone, and in difficult conditions far from support and far from shelter. Eventually he gained a reputation as an outpost runner, serving as a lone messenger between posts scattered from each other by great distance. The more dangerous the assignment or position the more enjoyable Sraddnayar found the work and in time he began to operate as a scout into distant and foreign lands; Nepal, Sri Lanka, north as far as Tashkent, and west as far as the Persian-Afghan border. Into almost every land he traveled he learned the local languages, at least well enough to communicate with the natives, and could soon speak Pali, various Indian dialects, Afghani, Persian and various tribal tongues. He worships Vishnu and considers himself a lone defender of the helpless, especially against criminals and highwaymen. By his thirtieth year Sraddnayar gave up his official caste position, becoming a wandering warrior, and turned East deciding to explore in that direction as far as he could possibly reach. Turning north around Tibet he made it as far as Lop Nur where he was attacked at night by a strange and vicious creature, which almost killed him, leaving him all but mortally wounded. Greek merchants following the Silk Road west discovered his body and rescued him from death. Three weeks later the Greek merchants sold the still recovering Sraddnayar to the party of the Hoshi who desire an Indian guide to help them with their progress through unknown lands.

Namahra – As a young boy Namahra was raised among a nomadic tribe in Persia. Every night his tribe would build a huge bonfire for purposes of warmth, with which to cook and for religious fire ceremonies. Often the tribe would linger in mountainous areas, where Namahra would explore what by even that time were ancient ruins left by the original Zoroastrians. One night while exploring by himself in these ruins the boy fell into a pit, which led him into an underground area, which had obviously been sealed for some time. Severely injured with a badly broken shoulder and elbow the boy could not escape and fell into a stupor. Namahra’s family searched for him for two days but finding no trace of him they eventually abandoned the search assuming he had been killed by mountain lions. On the third day he was discovered by an heretical Christian hermit from Syria named Prolistus who lived in the ruins and had moved east into Persia where he had discovered an unknown sect of fire worshippers. The hermit rescued Namahra and raised the boy as his own son, teaching him both the Nestorian Christian heresy and how to perform the rituals of the Zoroastrian religion, making him a Zot Priest. After the death of Prolistus Namahra cremated his stepfather’s body and began to travel from ruin site to ruin site in Persia seeking answers about his past, his lost family and about the secrets of both Christianity and Zoroastrianism. Eventually while exploring ruins near Mount Ararat Namahra met the Sufi Mystic Dab-al ar Zaid who was himself traveling north from Baghdad and was also in search of ancient secrets. Forming a strong bond of friendship the two eventually traveled to Persepolis in search of ancient manuscripts and ruins to help them with their various endeavors. It was at Persepolis that the two friends encountered and joined the party of the Hoshi.

Dab-al ar Zaid – Dab-al ar Zaid was born Said Massa, a peasant boy from a small family of carpenter craftsmen. Firstborn, and well loved among his family, he gained a personal reputation as a precocious lad, extremely intelligent and inquisitive. Possessing enormous mechanical skill he also soon gained a popular reputation as an inventor, able to create small devices and mechanical contrivances that earned him a certain degree of wealth. As a young man, and pooling the money he had made from inventing he was able to become a moneylender and became even wealthier. Known as a scrupulous and fair man, by his mid-thirties he was able to purchase a merchant caravan and was able to profit immensely from trade along the Silk Road, trade with India and trade with the Byzantine Empire. Eventually moving to Baghdad he helped use his money to establish a large library and center of learning. Hearing of Wise Men named Sufi he went to meet one, a certain Bali-al Gwazi and started studying under him. Soon Said became a very serious mystic himself and received the new name Dab-al ar Zaid, or Dabal as he is called for short. Hearing many fantastic stories of the past from his master Bali, Dabal soon began to finance missions of exploration, hiring special agents to accompany his caravans wherever they went. After having had delivered to him several artifacts from various parts of the world Dabal decided to undertake his own personal missions of exploration. Learning over time that it is often easier to penetrate foreign lands alone, and dressed as a beggar in disguise, Dabal came to travel alone, gaining the nickname, Beggar of God. On one personal mission near Mount Ararat Dabal met the priest Namahra and the two became fast friends due to common interests. By the age of forty Dabal found himself in the city of Persepolis where he encountered and joined the party from the Far East, the Hoshi.

 

THE ORO
(Moonshadow)

Addo – born and raised among the tribes of Ghana it was noticed early among family members that the name Addo fit well with the boy’s personality and his desire to travel. Often family or friends would discover Addo as a small boy out late at night, wandering by himself, sneaking off from the village or silently stalking animals that he loved to track and follow, but would not kill. Even from a young age the boy refused to eat any kind of meat, saying it was still inhabited by the spirit of the dead animal and he absolutely refused to touch or drink blood. At the age of seven Addo began to have strange visions, often seeing spirits or ghosts floating in the air at night, and he would speak of these experiences to his friends who would often flee in fear. At the age of ten Addo fell gravely ill, from no known cause and lay comatose for nearly six days, unable to eat, drink or move. He could not be forced to eat but his mother poured water down his throat every few hours. On the evening of the sixth day of the coma a strange old man appeared and roused Addo, then asked his parent’s permission to train the boy as a Shaman, saying the boy had called to him while sick. After three days of recovery, and debate with his parents, Addo was allowed to go live in the mountains to the north in order to train with the old man. The old man, Chewe, trained Addo in how to hunt, live off the land, see and speak with spirits, how to steal, how to track, how to speak to men and how to be a powerful Shaman. On the day after Addo’s sixteenth birthday Chewe died, and after burying his teacher under a tree Addo lived alone for four days. On the fifth day he had a dream that instead of returning home that he should head east towards unknown lands. Eventually Addo reached Karnak and there he joined the Moonshadow.

Erasto Qwara – born in Axum, the third of six children, Erasto grew up following his family tradition of soldiering. At fifteen he became a Christian Soldier and rose quickly through the ranks, so that local officials were soon sending him as an escort and emissary to foreign lands, such as to the courts at Egypt. Smart, driven, and self-educated Erasto learned six African tongues and was soon able to read and write Koptic, Greek and Latin as well. Because of his linguistic skills and general education by the age of 19 Erasto was made commander of a unit formed to escort diplomatic missions throughout the Nubian kingdoms, along the coast of east Africa, into the tribute states of the Arabian Peninsula, into the Near East, and also into Egypt. The farther afield Erasto roamed the more types of people he encountered and he soon discovered that he loved to mix freely with people of different nations and races. Developing a personal interest in trade Erasto also was soon gaining experience as a trade representative in addition to his diplomatic and military skills. Born into a devout Christian family Erasto nevertheless had no interest at all in religious matters until traveling in Egypt he discovered an early copy of some of the works of the Philokalia written in Koptic. Reading it eagerly Erasto became a devout Christian and returning to Axum began to study under Aksumite Christian Masters. Erasto remained a solider but also developed a strong interest in interpreting scriptures from a Monophysitic point of view, and became such a skillful writer, fluent interpreter, and powerful debater on Christian doctrine that he soon earned the nickname, Qwara, the Cushite Christian. At the age of 25 Erasto was assigned to escort a trade and diplomatic mission to the Byzantine Empire by way of Egypt and the Mediterranean. At sea his ship, along with several others, was attacked by Sicilian pirates and many on his ship were killed. Erasto was severely injured in combat and had to return to Egypt, where as a result of his injuries he was retired, but allowed to retain the rank of Commander as a Christian Soldier. While recovering in Egypt he studied with Kopts in Alexandria to become a Christian Cleric and within two years was ordained. After ordination he was returning to Axum but stopped at Karnak where he met Addo and the other members of the Moonshadow.

Guedado – born of an unwed mother, there were strange rumors surrounding the birth of Guedado. It is said that she was raped by a strange man, slim and tall, very muscular who had jet-black skin, white eyes, and strange, straight long hair. Some believe that the father of Guedado was a malevolent ghost. In addition the boy was born with a withered and malformed right hand, which meant that as he grew he had to use his left hand for nearly every action. Because of these bizarre circumstances few people would associate with the child, or even his mother Sali, and so she named the boy Guedado, “Wanted by Nobody.” Like his purported father Guedado’s hair grew straight but it also grew white, only adding to the strangeness of his appearance. His eyes were gray, his skin dark and almost glistening, and he appeared slimmer, taller, and more lean than most of his family and village members. He was also possessed of almost animalistic capabilities of sight and hearing which further alienated most people. Born a Mali in a small village he was never accepted by the other villagers and after the death of his mother he moved to Jenne. Even there however he was considered an outcast and so after spending nearly twelve years in Jenne he wandered away again and settled on the banks of Lake Chad. There an old woman told him that he must travel north and become strong for what he must later do in other parts of the world. The old woman also spent three years instructing Guedado as a Griot and her son taught Guedado to fight with wild, barbaric abandon. After this Guedado went north and eventually reached Libya where by determined and relentless physical training and by constant boxing and wrestling became immensely strong and an excellent combatant, despite his withered hand. After several attempts by Arab slave traders to enslave him Guedado eventually wandered east far enough to reach Karnak, having heard of an African Christian kingdom near Egypt where he would be safe from slavery. While in Karnak and Luxor he visited the legendary Temple of Amon and was immensely impressed by the huge hall, colonnade and hypostyle columns. While standing near the huge Obelisk which still stood guard over the temple, out of impulse Guedado struck the obelisk with his withered hand. He heard a strange, melodic hum and ringing, like a bell striking underwater, which continued to vibrate for several minutes. Few other people seemed to notice the sound but three other people approached the spot and spoke with him, eventually forming the Moonshadow.

Aza Zahra – born deaf and mute Zahra was the child of a Chinese father and an Azani Swahili mother. Unable to speak until she was ten years old because of her inability to hear, Zahra nevertheless was taught to control her voice and to speak by the patient efforts of her mother. In time Zahra learned to speak Chinese, Swahili and Arabic. At fifteen her father sailed back to China with a merchant fleet, promising to return within a year. He never returned. By the age of seventeen Zahra’s mother had died of plague and the same plague nearly killed Zahra as well, who fell ill for over two weeks but managed to live. After fully recovering Zahra was given the nickname Aza, or Powerful, for her ability to survive. Known for her great physical beauty, almond shaped eyes and long straight, jet black hair she was also easy to distinguish as being of mixed heritage so that many people considered her of possible noble birth. In time she went to work for an Arab shipping, mining and merchant concern, inventorying and tracking cargo. Because her father had been Buddhist she was allowed to live as a Buddhist minority and was not forced to work as an Arabic slave. At night and on her free time she began to Vad throughout the port of Mombasa and in other trading or port cities such as Zanizibar, Kilwa, Kismayu and Barawa. Because of the contacts she made in these cities and because of her ability to speak Swahili, Arabic and Chinese she was often employed as a sort of free agent for interpreting and trading affairs in various cities. At the age of twenty Zahra became the lover of a Greek Vigilante named Costos who came to love her very much. At her insistence Costos trained her as a Vigilante (Ranger). Like Zahra’s father, Costos sailed out with a merchant fleet and failed to return. While she waited Zahra learned the art of Nyama from a young female Nyamakalaw immigrant from the West. By twenty three Zahra was fully trained as a Nyama and had given up waiting, and next moved north, hoping to find word of her former lover in one of the other coastal port cities. Unable to gain any information she continued north into Axun territory and encountered Christians. Knowing that Costos had also been a Christian she searched throughout the Axun territories and then discovered information on the Byzantine Empire. Desiring to go there to search for Costos she made her way through Egypt, stopping at Karnak where she heard the ringing of the Obelisk struck by Guedado. Being the first real sound she had ever heard in her life she was confused by what the sound was or where it came from but eventually discovered the obelisk along with two men and a boy who stood nearby. Following their conversation by reading their lips she eventually asked if she could join them when she discovered they intended to head north. They all agreed to travel together as far as they could and noticing that they had talked throughout most of the night so that the obelisk now blocked the light of the late risen full moon, she called the group Oro, or Moonshadow.

MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS

If this actually happens it would be extremely interesting. I’ve also long thought that At The Mountains of Madness would make a superb home-brew adventure or campaign for nearly any gaming genre (fantasy, sci-fi, horror, action-adventure, detective/mystery, super-hero, mixed, etc.)

Guillermo del Toro: His Version Of At The Mountains Of Madness Coming Soon!

By screenPhileson September 8th, 2014 at 5:47pm· 3k saw this· 3+ people are talking
image courtesy of Tales Of The Cthulhu Mythos
image courtesy of Tales Of The Cthulhu Mythos

Guillermo del Toro’s version of H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness was a passion project for the director, and for awhile was moving full-steam ahead at Universal Studios. As if fan-favorite director del Toro at the helm wasn’t enough, it would have starred Tom Cruise and been produced by James Cameron, the director of films like The Terminator, Aliens, Avatar and Titanic.

Yet somehow it wasn’t because Universal pulled the plug on the project.

Ostensibly, the reason for doing so was the cost, as well as the rating. The horror movie was based upon a H.P. Lovecraft short story of the same name and budgeted at $150 million. Ratings-wise, del Toro was adamant that the film be R-rated, which I still think is a really good idea, despite that it contributed to the project falling apart (If you’ve never read Lovecraft, you can download a copy of At The Mountains Of Madness here and The Shunned House, here. Both are available in most popular ebook formats)…

THE TOMB

Real World discoveries and sites like this make excellent settings for both single adventures and campaigns.

TOMB IN NORTHERN GREECE

Greek village abuzz after discovery of tomb dating back to era of Alexander the Great

By Agence France-Presse
Friday, August 22, 2014 21:14 EDT

Greek village abuzz after discovery of tomb dating back to era of Alexander the Great [AFP]

AMPHIPOLIS (Greece) (AFP) – To the villagers near the ancient Greek town of Amphipolis, archaeological treasure is nothing new — many in this area have lived off antiquity smuggling for decades.

But a massive tomb unearthed near the town dating back to the era of Alexander the Great has locals and visitors abuzz like never before.

“The mystery hiding behind this discovery has excited our imagination,” says Katerina Arabatzi, who drove from the nearby city of Veria to see the tomb.

“In recent days, we have started to remember the tale of Alexander the Great once more,” she said.

The Hellenistic-era tomb lies within a mound 500 meters (1,630 feet) long and three metres high — the largest of its kind ever discovered in Greece.

A five-metre marble lion, currently standing on a nearby road, originally topped the tomb, and two headless stone Sphinx statues flank the entrance, officials said.

“We knew something lay here,” said visitor Eleni Avramidou, whose family hails from the area.

“All of northern Greece constitutes an archaeological treasure trove…”

GAMING CAMPAIGN TYPES

This is a list of my Gaming Campaign Types.  These are the types of Campaigns I develop for my various games. It can be applied to any type of game, from RPGs to Alternative Reality to Video Game Scripts.

You might also find it a useful guide-typology for your campaigns, games, and game designs. Or even for your fictional works and writings. If you have another type of Game Campaign you’d like to list then please feel free to do in the comments section.

Enjoy.

 

GAMING CAMPAIGN TYPES

Historical Campaign
Alternative History Game
War or Wargame Campaign (Offensive Warfare)
Invasion Campaign (Defensive War)
Ethnic Cleansing Campaign (Genocide)
Quest Campaign
Diplomatic Campaign
Agency Campaign
Personal or Character Driven Campaign
Achievement Campaign – first one ever to do it, or one of few to ever do it
Training Campaign
Frontier’s Campaign
Psychological Campaign
Thriller Campaign
Criminal Campaign
Law and Order Campaign
Hunt Campaign
Monster Campaign
Geographic Campaign
Political Campaign
Mystery/Detection/Investigative Campaign
Academic or Scholarly or Research Campaign
Transferable Skills Campaign – relate game to real world interest of players
Mythological Campaign
Status (Kingmaker) Campaign – where one of more players seek power, status, wealth, or influence
Legacy Campaign – fulfilling a personal or family legacy
Heirloom Campaign
Religious Campaign
Ritual Campaign
Occultic Campaign – hidden or secret knowledge
Horror Campaign
Clash of Forces Campaign – clash between opposing groups, powers, interests, or parties
Nemesis Campaign – campaign against your nemeses
Illusion Campaign
Magic or Change in the Nature of Magic Campaign, also called an Arcane Campaign
Nature or Environmental Change Campaign
Fate Campaign – one or more party members has a particular Fate to fulfill
Scientific or Technological or Invention Campaign, also called a Progress Campaign – where some scientific, technological, magical (a new spell or device or artifact is created), or invented machine, device, artifact, or discovery threatens to fundamentally transform or alter the world
Geographic Campaign
Relical Campaign – involving some ancient and powerful relic, artifact, or ancient device
Disaster or Catastrophe Campaign
Discovery or Exploration Campaign – discovery of some new area of the world, or of some ancient yet unknown/little known section of the world
Heroism and/or Self-Sacrifice Campaign
Disintegration Campaign – slow disintegration of a structure or system or government or a nation
Rebirth or Renaissance Campaign
New Race or Species – discovery of a new race or species
Weird Campaign

ESSAYS ON GAME DESIGN: THE BLOOD OF UNCANNY MONSTERS – PART TWO

Essay Twelve: The Blood of Uncanny Monsters* – Part Two (continued)

Synopsis: The Blood of Monsters is far more than the blood of simple animals, or the nerveless sap of tree limbs. The blood of the monster is a deep, potent, ancient, terrible thing, capable of warping the world, and either wondrously enabling, or viciously crippling and killing, the Hero. Beware the blood of the monster, and do not easily discard the tremendous potential it encloses within itself.

Essay: In this section I shall discuss some of the more actual mechanical and physical and pragmatic properties that the Blood of Uncanny Monsters will possess, or should possess.

With that in mind I am going to suggest some effects that will result from the injury, death, or shedding of the blood of uncanny monsters. Some of these effects will be light, some dramatic, some wondrous, and some terrible. Feel free to add your own ideas. This is an Interactive Essay on the notion of “Monstrosity.”

The Corpus Dejecti: First of all, let me speak about the remains or parts of a monster’s body (whether or not the creature itself has survived as a result of loss of these assets). The remains or parts of a monster are valuable because of the unique properties they bestow both upon the monster itself, and anyone else either fortunate enough, or unfortunate enough, to gain control of or contact such remains. To that end let me detail just some of the possible parts of a monster’s body that could be invaluable, a treasure in itself, or horrifically disastrous, an unshakeable and lifelong curse.

The Blood
The Brains
The Eye or eyes
The Third Eye or the Secret or Invisible Eye
The Tongue
The Horn or horns
The Scales
The Claws or nails
The Heart
The Liver
The Lung
The Glands
The Tears
The Ichor
The Tail
The Foot
The Hand
The Paw
The Snout
The Jaw
The Ear
The Tendril or Tentacle
The Wings or feathers
The Fin
The Bile
The Stolen Part
The Flesh
The Muscles
The Excretions

The prized and blood or ichor stained possessions of a monster
Each of these parts might render some beneficial aid to the possessor, or might render some monstrous curse. In the case of especially powerful or weird monsters, it might very well render both, and/or multiple effects.

In addition such tissues or remains can be prepared, modified, presented, and intentionally used (with the right knowledge) for other employments, such as:

Creating inks and parchments
Creating Book materials
Creating unique potions
Creating unique magical items
Creating technologies, machines, artifacts, and devices
Creating unique traps and tricks
Creating illusions
Creating unique spells and powers
Disrupting other things, objects, places, or events
Dispelling magics
Enhancing or disrupting miracles
Augmenting or disrupting mental or psychological powers
Augmenting or disrupting physical capabilities
Augmenting or disrupting spiritual capabilities
Invention, Design, and Craft
Summoning or turning away other monsters
Summoning or turning away the undead
Summoning or turning away demons and devils
Foreseeing possible futures
Solving puzzles
Overcoming obstacles
Developing new scripts, ciphers, and codes
Gaining control over, or freeing other creatures
Gaining control over, or freeing spirits
Communicating secretly and/or over a distance
Creating Glammors
Creating powerful blessings or curses
Making objects tough or nearly indestructible
Destroying other objects
Extending or shortening life
Curing or causing disease
Creating or controlling intense emotional states
Charming others
Exciting Love, or Hate
Allowing flight
Healing or preserving health

The Effects – I will divide effects into obviously beneficial and obviously malignant effects. Some effects may seem to fall into both categories. Some effects can be viewed as blessings, others as curses. These effects can occur on the level of the individual, or on the cosmic level (effecting the world at large), or both, when the blood, tissues, and other remains or parts of a monster become exposed to a hero or the world through direct contact. These effects are not intentionally controllable but occur as a result of the unique properties of the monsters interacting with the unique nature of the individual or circumstance to which the blood or remains of the monster are exposed. These effects can also be acute, immediate, temporary, chronic, delayed, or life-long and permanent (unless somehow brought under control or removed).

Beneficial Effects:

Magical powers increase
Sensory Capabilities improve
One can read the thoughts of others
One can know the hearts of others
New capabilities are gained
One becomes stronger
One becomes wiser
One becomes more intelligent
One becomes more charismatic
One becomes more resilient
One becomes faster or more dexterous
One’s flesh becomes invulnerable to certain things
One rarely tires or rarely needs to sleep
One needs little food
One needs little water
One becomes powerfully intuitive
One becomes prophetic
One becomes clever and ingenious
One can speak with monsters

Malignant Effects:

Magical powers decrease
Sensory capabilities become clouded, restricted, or confused
One’s own thoughts become scattered, confused, and open to suggestion
One becomes unable to understand the motives of others
Old capabilities are lost or diminish
One becomes weaker or feeble
One becomes more foolish, reckless, or unwise
One becomes denser, slow-witted, or more stupid
One becomes repugnant or repulsive to others
One becomes drained, lethargic, or inflexible
One becomes slow of body and reflex
One is easily injured or sickened
One exhausts easily and often, or is chronically anemic
One becomes uncontrollably gluttonous
One becomes a drunkard or an addict
One becomes uncontrollably arrogant and prideful
One becomes uncontrollably envious and covetous
One becomes uncontrollably lustful
One becomes uncontrollably angry, petty, and ill-temperate
One becomes uncontrollably greedy
One becomes uncontrollably despairing and cynical
One becomes uncontrollably slothful and lazy
One becomes uncontrollably bloodthirsty and vicious
One becomes easily duped and made fool of
One becomes blind
One becomes deaf
One becomes unable to smell
One becomes unable to taste
One becomes leprous
One becomes mute
One contracts a chronic and perhaps incurable disease or condition

Blessings:

Good fortune is enjoyed
Crops become plentiful
Good and pleasant weather
Enemies avoid invasion or warfare
Water supplies are clean and plentiful
The earth is enriched, plants and animals thrive
The natural environment becomes filled with beneficial magic
Wealth increases
New resources are discovered, old ones are easier to exploit
Miracles occur
The Gift of Tongues – other languages can be understood, or the language of other creatures can be understood
Powerful and beneficial creatures or allies rein habit the area
Trade prospers
Resistances to malignant forces develop

Curses:

Water becomes polluted, fouled, and poisoned
The air becomes poisonous and retched
Foul, dangerous, catastrophic, violently stormy weather
Natural disasters abound
Plagues become common
Droughts develop and wild fires break out
The earth becomes weak, polluted, unyielding and unproductive
The natural environment becomes resistant to beneficial magic or open to malignant magic or other influences
Wealth decreases and resources become depleted
Treasures corrupt or corrode
Misfortune multiplies or lingers
Confusion and misunderstandings of speech and language
Malignant serpents, insects, and other creatures spring from the ground
Warfare and Civil warfare erupt
Vulnerabilities to evil develop

The Death Curse of the Monster: Sometimes at or near the moment of their death particularly powerful, intelligent, and malignant monsters might curse an individual, a party of people, or even an entire region or nation with an especially effective and malicious curse. In such cases extreme and immediate counter-measures must be taken, sometimes even involving the undertaking of a complicated Quest, it order to nullify or reverse this curse. Otherwise, if the curse is not counteracted it may very well unfold as prophesied in a most destructive and devastating manner.

Conclusion: Make use of monsters, their blood, and their remains in a far more interesting, productive, potent, and imaginative way to reflect their real and inherent potential for creating both endless wonder, and appalling desolation.

* I use the term uncanny poetically. I do not mean to imply that a monster must be supernatural (in the gaming or mythological sense) for its blood to have weird or powerful effects.

ESSAYS ON GAME DESIGN: THE BLOOD OF UNCANNY MONSTERS

Essay Twelve: The Blood of Uncanny Monsters*

“The Blood of the monster is the doom of the unwary.”

“He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”

“Fantasy, abandoned by reason, produces impossible monsters; united with it, she is the mother of the arts and the origin of marvels.”

“History is not the story of heroes entirely. It is often the story of cruelty and injustice and shortsightedness. There are monsters, there is evil…”

“… I prefer the monsters of my fancy to what is positively trivial.”

Synopsis: The Blood of Monsters is far more than the blood of simple animals, or the nerveless sap of tree limbs. The blood of the monster is a deep, potent, ancient, terrible thing, capable of warping the world, and either wondrously enabling, or viciously crippling and killing, the Hero. Beware the blood of the monster, and do not easily discard the tremendous potential it encloses within itself.

Essay: In myth it is often the case that the blood, tissues, organs, or parts of a monster have unique, if not astounding properties of their own, quite apart from those possessed by the whole or intact, living creature itself.

Yet far too often these additional (or inherent, really) “monstrous characteristics” are overlooked (sometimes entirely) in fantasy, mythological, and magical gaming. Monsters are slain, their blood washes over the characters to no real effect, and the monstrous bodies or corpses thereafter simply discarded, as if they were the inconvenient, tiresome, or useless detritus of the true business of adventuring. No real consequences ensue from, or for, the slaying of monsters, from being in close proximity to them when they are killed, or from being washed and covered in the gore and curses and hatred and pollution and ferocity of their ultimate demise. The death of monsters becomes a mere mathematical and mechanical expression of character survival beyond beastly endurance, rather than a fascinating cosmic struggle between weird and uncanny physical, supernatural, and magical forces and the life-force of men. And the killing of monsters likewise has either no additional benefit, nor any additional consequence, other than the taking of their treasure or the removal of their objection to whatever goal(s) the hero currently or ultimately pursues. In short the monster is far less a real monster, far less a real threat, far less weird and far less dangerous, than if hunting and killing monsters implied nothing more mysterious, fantastic, and potentially lethal than a mere exercise in hit point reduction to “less than zero.” As a matter of fact killing most monsters in many role play games implies a level of danger and consequence that is exactly that, less than zero. Once slain or nearly slain a monster is then no more of a real threat than the paper-tiger number stats used to summarize his imaginary existence. But is this really a proper expression of the idea of monstrousness? In the imagination? In myth? Or even in-game?

Certainly not so in myth, where the blood of monsters and weird beings often has dramatic (and even sometimes life-long) effects upon the heroes who encounter such marvels, perhaps even upon nearby observers, other monsters, or the very landscape itself. In this respect I think myth is often far more engaging, richer in content and implication, tremendously more interesting, and far more versatile than typical fantasy (or other genres of) role play gaming. Monsters actually mean things in myth. They are not simply the enemy soldier du jour, dressed in some fantastic garb of hoary yet impotent flesh or rotting, undead sheets of nothingness. They are not merely “tactical challenges” as would be the case as if an infantry battalion in a wargame were suddenly compressed into a single fearsome body and sent forth to fight tooth and claw against armed adventurers. Instead monsters are “danger incarnate,” they are a warping of the woof of existence, their being alters and changes things around them, they bend reality, sicken or extend it, they reshape nature (physical, mental, and spiritual) into a monstrosity of devastating potential. In myth (from which spring the sources of the idea and shapes and names and forms of monsters in role play games) monsters are dangerous, deadly, uncanny, they distort the nature of the things they encounter, and they do all of this both within and well-beyond the very narrow confines of combat. It seems to me then that the monster should be returned to his more natural (or unnatural, depending upon your point of view) state(s) of being, a being that exudes, reflects and engenders corruption, weirdness, lethality, and real, unremitting and unrepentant peril. Both in life, and in death. *

In short I am advocating the idea that even the blood, tissues, and corpses of monsters might very well, and even in some cases definitely should, have effects both upon the characters encountering them, and upon the entire atmosphere and environment of the role-play milieu. That monsters become far more than mere combat automatons, far more than just tactical challenges, far more than an enemy in a rubber mask and a plastic suit of armor who can execute feats of multiple backflips or shoot acid from a naphtha gland in his mouth.

Monsters are not simply monsters because they look weird, because men find them to be distasteful, evil, ugly, frightening, gigantic, or unique adversaries. Monsters are also monsters because of their peculiarly monstrous qualities, which extend far beyond motive and appearance and down to the very marrow of their bones, as well as throughout the blood or ichor that washes unseen through their twisted veins. And that when this blood (and/or body) becomes exposed to the world at large, when it stains the flesh of the hero, and when the bones of monsters litter the landscape, other things occur of definite and noticeable effect. Things that are sometimes wondrous, things that are sometimes terrible, occasionally even more horrifying in implication or outcome than the threat of the original monster itself. (I use the term monster in this respect in a very generalized sense. Of course the same “monstrous properties” might be said to exist for supernatural beings and alien creatures, in horror/supernatural/adventure/superhero, and sci-fi gaming. And I would hardly argue against the same types of monstrous properties I am advocating for mythological and fantasy based monsters is such cases. Rather I would just expect that given the nature of the creature in question that such properties would manifest differently, but also quite obviously, in those other types of circumstances.)

TO BE CONTINUED…

SOLO RETENDERE

Solo Retendere (Claim of Full Possession of My Own Intellectual Properties)

– unless otherwise acknowledged, expressed, or specified all materials on this site (or any of the other sites I inhabit on the world wide web or similar communication structures) that were composed, created, designed, devised, formulated, or produced by me, be they in the form of Artwork, Business Ventures, Capital Projects, Career Activities, Designs, Game Materials, Inventions, Mathematical Equations, Musical Compositions, New Theories, Poetry, Scientific Works, Songs, Unique Innovations, Writings of various kinds, or any other intellectual property I own or retain control of, herein and henceforth shall be considered possessions under my sole authority and are fully protected by copyrights, trademarks, registrations and any and all applicable laws, local, national, and international, and any violation of my rights regarding any of my property, intellectual or otherwise, will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. All rights reserved.

I am very happy to openly share ideas and to work collaboratively, I encourage that, but I do not like the theft of my ideas and property, and that I will pursue and prosecute.

Jack W. Gunter

WELCOME TO THE TOME AND TOMB

“Welcome to the Tome and Tomb. Treasures lie hidden where the fearless still roam.”

 

This blog is my Gaming Blog. It is dedicated to my various game creations and designs, and all other similar Career Pursuits.

I will therefore be posting in this blog excerpts and examples, including entire sections, from my various game articles, books, creations, and designs, as well as posting copies of supplementary materials including maps, milieus, notations, rules, scripts, and sketches of some of the games I have created and developed over time. The pages of this blog will discuss all of the different types of games I create, design, and write on such as; board, card, computer, parallel reality (PRGs), pen and paper, role play (RPGs), video, virtual reality (VRGs), and wargames, etc.

I will also be discussing in some detail my Games of Personal Advancement and Development (GPADs) and the projects that will be used to form them as start-ups.

Agents, manufacturers, and publishers you are most welcome to look around these pages for anything that might interest you and please feel free to contact me if you wish to discuss anything you see posted. I am also open to being contacted by any designer, manufacturer, or publisher who might wish to enter in a partnership with me regarding my game creations and designs.

I will also be cross-linking Tome and Tomb to all of my other blogs and websites. If you wish to follow my Fictional and Literary writings then please visit my Wyrdwend blog. If you wish to follow my brokerage, business, copywriting, and inventive pursuits then please see my Open Door Communication webpages and my Launch Port blog, and if you wish to follow my personal writings on all other subjects, such as Culture and Society, Exploration, History, Law Enforcement, Military Matters, Politics, Religion, Science, Technology, Vadding, World Affairs, and other such subjects then please see my personal blog The Missal. Feel Free to join in any and all of the conversations on any of these sites. Welcome aboard my friend.

Thank you for visiting, please return often, and enjoy the site.

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