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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

ON THE MEND

I have been noticeably absent from blogging lately due to a series of very unfortunate vents. First I had a severe stomach virus, then I had to have a wisdom tooth removed, and then in an accident I broke my wrist severely enough I had to have corrective surgery.

Nevertheless I am out of the cast now and undergoing rehabilitation. And although typing with my wrist is still very difficult and sometimes painful I’m on the mend.

So please excuse my absence.

I am returning this week.

OUT, BUT NOW OVER

For two weeks I was very sick with some type of intestinal/stomach flu. Don’t know how I got it and the main infection only lasted a week but for the following week I was simply exhausted. Probably as a result of dehydration and lack of food (I went one twenty hour period without either eating or drinking – couldn’t stomach either) and a three day period of eating very, very little – mainly only crackers.

Yesterday, two weeks to the day that it happened (becoming infected) was the very first day where I felt completely recovered and back to normal. Though I had other things to do to catch up with my normal work so I couldn’t blog.

Anyway that is why I have been absent so much lately.

But now I’m returned.

Though for awhile my posts will be sporadic. Because I am also behind on other things as well such as my novel.

SITUATIONAL ENRICHMENT – GAMEPLAY

SITUATIONAL ENRICHMENT

This is a sort of parallel post to one on Easter Eggs that I will post here later on.

Today a buddy of mine sent me a link to an Army video on Hyper-Realistic Tactical Training. (Think of it as a kind of live-action wargame involving TSS/Transferable Skill Simulations. I cannot herein reproduce the link because the link has since been extinguished, probably due to security REASONS.) He knows that I’ve been active in experimenting with and developing gaming related training techniques for a long time and thought I’d enjoy the video. (I did by the way. I had never seen it before.)

Anyway the video reminded me of a technique I use both in-
game(s) and in training scenario development that I call Situational Enrichment.

You might think of situational enrichment as the non-combat version (or parallel development version) of Hyper-Realistic Immersive Training.

It has a couple of objectives, but this is basically how it works. You take a non-combat situation, but one highly charged, and interject the players into this situation without warning. The situation will be filled with a veritable plethora of challenges, obstacles, and enrichments. Usually these enrichments will be multi-layered, have various applications, will sometimes compete against each other (in nature, or for the player’s attention), be in continual motion, and have some immediate or demanding application.

The point of an enriched environment is to provide a high level of stress and potential danger without anything that might necessarily induce a combat situation. It will simply be that the enriched environment will be filled with so many potential problems, devices, articles, objects, creatures, movements, events, etc. that are all happening either simultaneously or in quick succession that attempting to react to everything available might very well produce exhaustion, or information, observational, and functional overload. Plus a well-enriched environment might present so many “potential dangers” (regardless of whether the dangers are real or not) that to the player it seems as dangerous if not more so than a standard combat situation.

One of the advantages to this kind of situation (among others) from the point of the DM or scenario developer is that you can test the participants’ reaction capabilities, see how they react to conflicting and/or multiple stressors, and to conditions of “overload.” The advantages to the player are manifold, but include learning to handle high stress situations that do not involve combat, improvement of observational skills, learning to organize reactions to environmental demands (conducting environmental triage), improvement of mental capabilities and problem solving abilities, and so forth and so on. Plus such situations are usually very interesting and fascinating to both develop and play through.

You do not want to inflict conditions of Situational Enrichment on players continuously as they can become mentally exhausted, just as protracted periods of combat or unknown danger can also take a mental and psychological toll.

But used occasionally and judiciously they can, I think, provide a fascinating enrichment experience, and serve as a great training scenario for future actions.

Let me give an example of what I would call an Adapted Gaming Enrichment Situation.

Situation: (this is a situation I have actually used before) The players have been moving through a set of underground ruins. It has been a relatively long time since they encountered any creature or real danger or threat. They are walking down a seemingly ordinary corridor when suddenly there is a blaring din, like several horn blasts going off simultaneously. The noise does not abate but only grows louder over time. At about the same time the walls begin to pulse and glow in a variety of different colors, and it can now be seen that the walls are covered in complex and strange glyphs and designs. As the noise gets worse the walls glow more fiercely until the light becomes almost painful. Fire erupts behind the players and seems to run along the floor, ceiling, and walls. Smoke begins to accumulate along the ceiling and the temperature rises. From the fiery ceiling suddenly erupts a huge swarm of buzzing, flying locusts, all alight. They are careening crazily towards the players. Forced forwards by the fire and the burning insects the players tumble into a room ahead that is also blaring non-stop and whose walls both pulse and seem to bleed. The locusts begin landing on the players, threatening to set their clothes afire. There is apparently a pool of water ahead but as the players move for it a large flesh golem erupts from the water and it can now be seen that the liquid is corrupt and foul. The golem does not attack but screams relentlessly, gesturing wildly at the players and a corner of the room in which lies a man, seemingly a fellow adventurer, moaning in pain and severely wounded. As the party watches some of the locusts swarm around the golem and it and the pool catch fire. The pool was actually filled with some type of highly combustible liquid, not water.

The golem screams even more loudly and rushes towards the wounded man. Before he can reach him the floor drops away spilling both the golem and the man into some type of pit. The players can hear the man is crying and begging for help, but just barely due to the intense and relentless blare. Many of the blocks upon the floor begin to heat, but some seem dark and cool. The air begins to shimmer and several characters vanish from sight, only to wink back into view ten to twenty seconds later. The ones who disappeared swear that it was the other players who actually disappeared. This continues at random intervals until one player reappears in different clothing, and with different possession than he had before.

Suddenly three doors appear which might allow escape from the room. One is on the ceiling and is apparently made of stone and metal. One is on the floor and has already caught fire. One is on the wall on other side of the pit where the golem and man disappeared, and has a demonic like face with a horn for a mouth. The din seems to be absorbed by the mouth of the monstrous face but any time the players try to speak or communicate with one another the demon mouth also instantly absorbs their words. Suddenly the din is gone but there is no noise at all as the face mouth absorbs all sound.

How would your players react at each stage of such a scenario or situation? What would they make of it? How would they attempt to solve such problems, and in what order? What would they fear might be happening?

The point of an enrichment environment however is not necessarily to do any physical harm to the players at all. It is to misdirect, exhaust, and test them with seemingly dangerous, bizarre, and confusing situations. Although occasionally I will throw in a trap or series of them or a real fight in the middle of such a disordered or over-stimulated environment.

However the example I just used was one of “Stress Enrichment.” You can also enrich an environment in any number of ways, such as providing so many amazing, wonderful, and valuable things, all operating at once that the players have a difficult time sorting priorities and modes of reaction.

Anywho, that’s some of the ways I use situational enrichment. Do you do something similar or related, and if so, how do you o about it? Can you cite examples?

MARVEL’S ANNOUNCEMENT

Marvel Encodes: I have two theories of my own but let’s see…

By the way, the images are on the original link.

Marvel Has A Big Surprise Coming, Here’s A Clue

By Eric Eisenberg 43 minutes agodiscussion 27 Comments
Marvel Has A Big Surprise Coming, Here’s A Clue image
The next few weeks are going to be rather huge for Marvel Studios. This Friday will see the release of their first Netflix series, Daredevil; then Joss Whedon’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron will be dropping on May 1st; and soon after that the company will begin production on Joe and Anthony Russo’s Captain America: Civil War. That’s all pretty huge stuff, but evidently it’s not enough, as now a big Avengers announcement has been scheduled for tomorrow morning.

This extremely exciting news comes to us from Marvel Cinematic Universe star Robert Downey Jr. himself, who teased the special reveal on his personal Twitter account. In addition to revealing that there will be big Avengers news tomorrow morning on Good Morning America, he also presented us fans with a rather cryptic image as well:

Given the source of the tease, the metallic plates, and the red and gold coloring, it’s pretty clear that what we’re looking at is a close-up of some kind of Iron Man-related “thing” – but what the hell is it? Is it a new suit of armor? Is it something bigger? Is it some kind of vehicle? (UPDATE #1: As one of our commenters pointed out below, it looks like this shot is a closeup of Iron Man’s shoulder from his character poster). Perhaps even more importantly, what’s up with the very strange and very specific white spaces. My first instinct is to look at them as letters, but that still doesn’t really clear things up.

Because the image isn’t much help, let’s look at this mystery from another angle. It’s interesting to note that Downey Jr. says “Avengers announcement” as opposed to “Iron Man” announcement, and while that could be a reference to The Avengers: Age of Ultron, what if it is instead something to do with The Avengers: Infinity War? That movie is certainly many years away, but Marvel Studios has earned a reputation for always thinking 10 steps ahead.

Without more information, it’s tricky to figure out this puzzle at face value – and hopefully throughout the day we see more clues pop up and give us more of a hint of what to expect. Of course, speculation is always fun, and this is a fun and exciting jumping off point to do just that. Hit the comments section below to tell us both what you think the image is and what you think the big announcement is going to be tomorrow. And be sure to come back in the morning, because you can be sure that we will have full coverage of what goes down!

UPDATE #2: The official Good Morning America Twitter account has posted a clue of their own, which appears to be Hawkeye-centric, and has more of what now definitely appear to be big white letters. Check it out below:

UPDATE #3: Now the official Jimmy Kimmel Live! Twitter account has chimed in with their own post, this one featuring Captain America’s chest star. It’s pretty clear that the letters here say “Jimmy,” and as one of our commenters pointed out below, it looks like the lettering in the Iron Man image above is very similar to the logo of Jimmy Kimmel Live!

THE UNKNOWN RUINS

Nice. Extremely nice. Although I am familiar with some of these sites, some of these will also make good new research investigations for me and material/sites for my novels.

 

 

Done Pompeii, Ephesus and Angkor and still thirsting after archeological marvels? The founder of Timeless Travels magazine recommends 10 less well-known sites that can usually be savoured without the crowds

CE7J30 Ancient khmer pyramid in Koh Kher, Cambodia.
Ancient Khmer pyramid in Koh Kher, Cambodia. Photograph: Alamy

Koh Ker, Cambodia

Lost to forest and abandoned for over a thousand years, you’ll find this little-visited site in northern Cambodia. It’s less than two hours’ ride from its more famous cousin, Angkor Wat, and well worth a visit to see more than two dozen temples emerging from the jungle. A highlight is a seven-tiered pyramid, 40 metres high, which is thought to have been the state temple of Jayavarman IV and is often compared to Mayan temples. The site was the capital of the whole Khmer empire from 928-944AD.
A new road means day trips to Koh Ker are possible from Siem Reap, but there are also now a few basic guesthouses and an ecolodge for those who want to stay longer

Choquequirao, Peru

Choquequirao is a ruined Inca city in south Peru

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Photograph: Zachary Bennett/Corbis

Little sister to the better-known Machu Picchu, Choquequirao is one of the most-rewarding travel destinations in the Americas. Only a few hundred people visit during the dry season (May to October), compared with thousands each day at Machu Picchu. At 3,000m, the site sits on a cloud-forest ridge, 61 miles west of Cusco in the remote Vilcabamba range. The city was built by Topa Yupanqui, son of the man who built Machu Picchu, Pachacuti, some time in the 15th century. It’s a two-day trek to Choquequirao from the town of Cachora (though a cable car link is planned), and exploring it and the outlying sites of Capullyoc, Hurincancha and Casa de Cascada with a guide will take several days.
Buses run from Cusco to Ramal, close to Cachora, where guides and pack mules can easily be hired

Ani, Turkey

The ruined church of Saint Gregory in Ani, Turkey.

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The ruined church of Saint Gregory in Ani. Photograph: Alamy

There are some wonderful treasures in the far east of Turkey and one of them is the site of Ani. Capital of the Armenian Bagratid dynasty until the 11th century, and situated on key trade routes, it flourished for over 400 years and at its peak was larger than any contemporary European city, with a population of over 100,000. It was destroyed by an earthquake in 1319, and today its ruins are spread over a wide area, with the remains of spectacular churches, a Zoroastrian fire temple, palaces and city walls. Take a picnic and spend a day exploring the site.
Ani can be reached by taxi or hire car from the town of Kars, 46km away and served by internal flights from Ankara or Istanbul

Conimbriga, Portugal

Roman ruins (House of fountains), Conimbriga

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Photograph: Getty Images

This is one of the largest Roman settlements in Portugal – roughly halfway between Lisbon and Porto, near the village of Condeixa-a-Nova. It was a prosperous town in Roman times and, while not the largest Roman city in Portugal, it is the best preserved. Although only a small section of the site has been excavated, there are baths, luxurious houses, an amphitheatre, a forum, shops, gardens with working fountains and city walls to explore, with many wonderful mosaics still in situ. In its centre is one of the largest houses discovered in the western Roman empire, the Casa de Cantaber, which is built around ornamental pools in superb colonnaded gardens and has its own bath complex and heating system. There is also a good museum, cafe and picnic site. Pick up a guidebook from the museum and have a few euro coins in your pocket to make the fountains work.
Easyjet and Ryanair fly to Porto and Lisbon from about £50 return

Han Yangling, China

Terracotta figures at Han Yang Ling Museum.

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Terracotta figures in the Han Yangling museum. Photograph: Alamy

A smaller version of the Xi’an terracotta warriors, this often-overlooked site is the the tomb of E mperor Jing Di , who died in 141BC, and his Empress Wang. The site, 20km north of Xi’an, is well laid-out, with glass panels over the burial pits so you can see everything in situ, and there is also an excellent museum. The warrior figures here have individual faces; their arms were made of wood and they wore clothes. Sadly, both have disintegrated now, though examples can be seen in the museum. The pits are filled with figurines of courtiers and animals, and you can see the fossilised remains of wooden chariots.
Han Yangling is easily reached by taxi, from Xi’an international airport (25 minutes)

Pella, Jordan

Ruins in Pella, Jordan

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Photograph: Corbis

Frequently bypassed for the larger sites of Jerash and Umm Qais , Pella, in the north Jordan valley, is a multi-period site, occupied since neolithic times. It has some stunning Roman/Byzantine remains, and recent excavations have unearthed a Canaanite temple dating from 1700BC and early-bronze-age city walls dating from 3200BC. Take the time to climb to the top of Tell Husn, the southern mound overlooking the dig house, and you will be rewarded with a fantastic view across the excavations and the Jordan valley.
The site is 45 minutes by road from the city of Irbid (two hours from Amman). Buses run from Irbid to the present-day village of Tabaqat Fahl

Vatican Necropolis, Italy

Roman necropolis in the Vatican.

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Photograph: AGF/Rex

Beneath the Vatican City lie the ancient streets of Rome and an ancient burial ground, the Vatican necropolis – originally a cemetery on the southern slope of Vatican Hill. Saint Peter is said to be buried here, after he was martyred in the nearby Circus of Nero. Emperor Constantine I built a basilica above the apostle’s grave in the fourth century AD, and excavations in the 1940s did find a number of mausoleums. To walk at ancient street levels through the necropolis is an exciting experience for those who love to step back in time.
Visits must be booked with the Vatican Excavations Office. Tours, in groups of about 12, last 90 minutes

Takht-e Soleyman, Iran

Takht Soleyman

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Photograph: /Getty Images

Takht-e Soleyman, meaning Throne of Solomon, is a breathtaking site built around a mineral-rich crater lake 30km north of Takab in Iran’s West Azerbaijan province. The earliest remains date from the Sasanian period, from 224 to 651AD. Set in a vast, empty landscape 2,000 metres above sea level, the site includes the remains of a Zoroastrian fire temple complex and a 13th-century Mongol palace. It is surrounded by an oval wall with 34 towers and two gates. The lake is 60 metres deep and so filled with minerals that it contains no life and is undrinkable. Don’t miss the small museum, housed in an Ilkhanid (a 13th-century building), with fine examples of tile, ceramics and stucco decoration.
The site is about two hours by taxi from the city of Zanjan, which is served by buses and trains from Tehran

Fatehpur Sikri, India

Fatehpur Sikri, India

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Photograph: /Corbis

This surprisingly intact walled and fortified Mughal city is 40km west of Agra and the Taj Mahal in Uttar Pradesh. Built by Emperor Akbar in 1571, it was the Mughal capital for 14 years before being abandoned for lack of water. A stunning royal complex of pavilions and palaces include a harem, a mosque, private quarters, gardens, ornamental pools, courtyards and intricate carvings. It is the best-preserved collection of Mughal architecture in India. Don’t miss the Rumi Sultana palace, the smallest but most-elegant structure in the complex, and the secret stone safes in the corner of the Treasury, which also houses a museum opened just last year.
The complex is an easy day trip from Agra: take a bus or train to Fatehpur station, 1km from the site

Pula, Croatia

Ancient Amphitheater Pula, Croatia

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Photograph: Getty Images

The amphitheatre of Pula is the only Roman amphitheatre to have four side towers and all three levels preserved. Built between in 27BC and 68AD, it is one of the six largest surviving Roman arenas in the world, and the best-preserved ancient monument in Croatia. Overlooking the harbour in the north-east of the town, it seated 20,000 spectators. In summer there are weekly re-enactments of gladiator fights, and it is also used for plays, concerts and the September Outlook festival. Look out for the slabs that used to secure the fabric canopies that sheltered spectators from the sun.
Ryanair flies to Pula from Stansted from £117 return

ESSAYS ON GAME DESIGN – ESSAY ELEVEN: LUCK BE NOT LAZY

My next Essay on Gaming and Game Design, since this is my post for Design of Things to Come.

ESSAYS ON GAME DESIGN

Essay Eleven: Luck Be Not Lazy

“High Fortune is the Good Wife of the Brave Husband.”

“Our survival kit is within us…”

“Good Luck befriend thee, Son…”

Synopsis:Boldness makes you luckier.” Boldness and risk taking make you more likely to survive and succeed than timidity and cowardice. This is true both in life, and in-game.

Recently while reading the book The Survivor’s Club (I am a survivalist and often study various aspects of survival art and science) I came across a very interesting equation by Nicholas Rescher.

The equation is as follows:

λ(E) = ∆(E) x [1-pr(E)] = ∆(E) x pr(not-E)

Rescher was attempting to mathematically illustrate how conclusions are drawn about the conditions and functional nature of “luck.” I have not had the time to examine the mathematics in detail for myself since I have only the basic equation formulation and a basic interpretation by the author of the book (not the author of the equation). I plan on looking up the entire background of the equation when I have the time.

Basically the equation states that how lucky an individual (or theoretically an event, with variable exchange) is considered to be depends upon a number of factors, but not least is the level of sufficient risk associated with any endeavor. That is to say the greater the risk taken by an individual, when success is finally achieved (though success is not guaranteed), then naturally the “more lucky” such an individual is considered in relation to others. This is of course only logical, and can be illustrated in the following way.

Two men decide to cross a chasm. One does so by a secure wooden footbridge with a safety railing, another along a length of tightrope. If both men make it safely across then most objective observers would say that the man walking upon the tightrope was “luckiest.” His risk was greatest and when (if) he succeeds then luck has been said to play a greater role in his crossing (in spite of any personal skill he might possess in wire-walking) than in the guy who has crossed the chasm on a relatively secure footbridge (in which case chance or luck plays a much smaller, if any, role as regards the crossing). This is self-evident, though perhaps often ignored or not noticed in this way in most circumstances by some observers.

lady luck

But I suspect that an even more interesting underlying and basic assumption fundamental to the structure of the equation (though it may not necessarily be overtly stated, when considering “normative variables”) is this: the greater the risk you take the more lucky you are likely to be. Not merely as a matter of relative comparison to others in different circumstances, but as a practical and fundamental matter in most any circumstance. And by extension then the more risk you assume in your given situation then the more likely you are to eventually succeed within that given situation. (Also this implies that luck is not a matter merely to be judged and quantified after the fact, or after the conclusion of the endeavor, but as a functional force, and likely an indirectly measurable force, operating throughout the course of events.)

Think about that for a moment. For the idea may just very well be fundamental to the nature of what many consider “good fortune.” Whether most people realize it or not.

The implication is that with great risk comes not only great danger, but also a greater probability towards actual and more capital success. (I think that there are several reasons for the likelihood of this conclusion, some physical, some psychological, and a few of which I will discuss here). The equation actually states that if you succeed then a larger level of risk can be said to include within the nature of the success a greater degree of good fortune, expressed colloquially as “luck.” But underneath the equation, if you examine it closely, is a sort of sub-structural formulation that implies that the greater the level of risk you assume in attempting any given or particular thing, the more likely you are to actually succeed, but that this does not become absolutely mathematically obvious until after the events are actually concluded.

In short the equation is covertly implying that all things being equal, and excluding the impossible (of course, as well as the intentionally foolhardy and reckless), it is the one who assumes the greatest risk who is far more likely to be lucky and in the end, to succeed as a result of the advantages bestowed by luck. (Is luck the only factor in success? Good Lord no. Preparation, skill, cunning, cleverness, drive, desire, etc. – all of these factors and more, or even less, can help to assure success. But what it is saying is that among roughly equivalent situations and/or competitors it is the more daring and less risk averse who is mathematically far more likely to “get lucky” and win the day, other factors not withstanding. Risk is therefore, as counter-intuitive and paradoxical as the idea may seem, one of the open and golden gateways to good fortune. Or as the old maxim goes, “Fortuna favet fortibus.” There is far more to that observation than mere Latin wit.

We all know that boldness is a fundamental aspect of the nature of Heroism. (Indeed, I personally would not attempt the execution of the function of anything heroic lacking the mettle of individual bravery as my guide. There is neither room for in most risky situations, nor likelihood of success in most dangerous situations for the ‘timid hero.’) Heroes therefore are universally bold. Or on the royal road through hardship and risk to becoming universally bold. Yet often heroes also triumph over seemingly vastly superior opponents with vastly superior resources. Why? Because they are bold. Because they are daring, and audacious, and brave. They also almost universally, whether in real life, or in myth or literature, “get lucky” or at least luckier than everybody else around them. Why? Because fortune does indeed favor the bold. The bold risk great things and therefore fortune is a natural and interested companion along the way. Fortune is attracted to bravery and risk-taking. (This does not imply that all risks are equal, or even equally fortunate, only that fortune prefers boldness to a lack thereof.)

Now it might appear on the surface that the heroic individual, or group, is often both bold and lucky. But the actual truth is they are lucky precisely because they are bolder than everyone else. Hence luck does not make one bold, being bold makes one lucky. There is a direct, if not always immediately observationally evident, correlation. That man who takes the most risk is that man who is likely to be luckiest and to be most successful. Even if bravery does not create good fortune in a particular circumstance it at least maintains and augments what good fortune already exists within that circumstance.

There are several reasons for this I think, some derived from my own personal observations, others I have gathered from anecdotal evidence, some taken from historical studies, still others implied by the equation I listed above.

First, the psychological ones:

1. The man who is audacious and daring tends to impress others with their vision. Small visions do not attract interest or followers. Bravery impresses and heroic visions and examples evoke imitation. Courage inspires devotion. And devotion inspires more courage as well as more of itself, which thereby tends to augment good fortune through cooperative enterprise and shared labor and objectives. Making success far more likely.

2. The individual who is brave tends to impress even dangerous creatures and animals, which will sometimes flee a man who the animal could easily kill because the man exhibits no fear. So if something or even someone thinks you’re crazy enough to be unafraid (regardless of whether you really are or not in that situation) when they think you should be then this gives them pause about their own chances of success against you. Courage in yourself can often inspire caution in an enemy or dangerous opponent, tipping the scales of good fortune, as well as the initiative and control of the situation in your favor.

(This has happened to me on more than one occasion with animals, men, and situations. For instance I’ve been shot at and drawn on on more than one occasion. Most recently this happened to me about two weeks ago. Yet I managed to defuse that particular situation without bloodshed or anyone being harmed because I walked towards the gunfire instead of freezing or fleeing from it when guns were drawn. Not that walking into gunfire is the most impressive or important kind of courage, it is far from it. Other things are often far more dangerous. I know that from personal experience. But the policeman in this case had the wrong location and the wrong target and he was obviously afraid of attack himself and so he drew and fired when he thought he was under attack. I don’t blame him by the way, he did indeed think he was under attack and may have even thought he could possibly be killed. He was also a young fella and a bit of a rookie. I doubt he had ever drawn his weapon before in the line of duty, but that’s just an assumption mind you based upon my observations of the boy, I didn’t really ask him. But he didn’t do anything really wrong; he was just surprised and scared by the situation, not knowing what was really going on. So I supported him when his commanding officer came out to do the in-the-field inquiry about why and how he had discharged his weapon. But I was able to prevent any real harm during the incident by walking into his line of fire [he wasn’t shooting at me, but I caused him to pause by interjecting myself] and taking control of the situation with my voice. Thereby stopping any further firing. I don’t think most people realize how effective an instrument the human voice can be in controlling a dangerous situation but those of you with law enforcement or military backgrounds probably know exactly what I mean. Your voice is probably often your most effective tool of courage and control. So I wasn’t afraid at all when it was happening, though my wife later yelled at me, as she often will, by saying “you stupid white guys run towards gunfire instead of away from it.” But obviously it has got nothing to do with being white, I’ve known a lot of brave men from all kinds of backgrounds, or even really with being stupid I would argue, but with training. I wasn’t afraid at all and so acted as I have trained myself over time, to walk towards danger and not away from it, and to attempt to command any given dangerous situation by not panicking, but by trying to assume control of the circumstances. I also wasn’t scared at all in this situation because I wasn’t thinking about myself at all. Over time I have basically trained fear for my own safety out of myself so that when others are endangered I think about others and not myself. Which eliminates the occupation with “self-fear.” It has become a matter of habit by now, and I never consciously weigh dangers for myself in my mind in that way anymore. However this does not mean the elimination of fear, if my children or wife had been under fire or endangered then I would have been afraid, I would have been thinking of their survival. I do not think though, and thank God this has never occurred, that even in that situation it would have paralyzed me, but I would have been afraid. Afraid for them. Indeed after the shooting I spoke about before was over and I realized just how bad the situation could have become for everyone – there was another officer who could have drawn and started shooting but he remained basically calm and watchful – I had about two minutes where I needed to sit down. To prevent my legs from shaking. But that was about 15 to 20 minutes later. Various friends and some people at church heard about this little adventure from my wife and the police and they all said I was a lucky fool. Just shook their heads. But I wasn’t a lucky fool; I was lucky because in that situation my training allowed me to be bold enough to prevent the situation from becoming completely out of control. I guess what I’m saying is that training yourself to move towards danger may seem apparently crazy, and so the assumption is that you just get lucky that nothing bad happens. Actually you get lucky because you act boldly. The crazy is only relative to those who do not understand that boldness enhances good fortune, not detracts from it.)

3. Bravery does not allow for panic, especially not debilitating panic. Courage is usually prepared for most situations (through exercise, practice, training, and habit) or at the very least does not panic and make situations worse. Boldness has “faith in itself.” Because boldness and enterprise are habits and skills that can be learned through practice. Perhaps some people are naturally born fearless or bold. But regardless of the veracity of that statement a person can become bold and daring through the exercise and practice of courage, just as is the case with bodybuilding through resistance training. You become muscularly and physically stronger by working ever-heavier resistance against weak and inexperienced muscles. You become more courageous by placing yourself in dangerous situations and exercising control against your fear. Eventually your “courage physique” will increase and it will take more and more danger to cause fear any real friction or resistance against you.

That’s all I’m gonna say about the psychological factors because it is not my intent in this essay to discuss all possible psychological variables. But merely to present basic possibilities.

greek

Now for some of the physical factors:

1. I suspect that on the physical level there is an “Entrainment of the unlikely” but nevertheless “necessarily possible” whenever boldness is a factor operating upon the physical environment. That is to say that boldness has both a physical and a quantum effect upon the surrounding environment much as it does on the psychological environment in which courage is in operation. Though the effect may be subtle, it nevertheless positively influences events in favor of the party operating “boldly.” The apparent physical effect is displayed as a tendency of events to move favorably in relation to the “bold party.” Though of course more than one party may be simultaneously operating in a bold fashion. It is not my intention in this short essay though to discuss competitions or conflicts between separate parties acting against each other each in their own bold fashion. That subject can be taken up by another if they so desire.

2. I suspect boldness is probably also a “quantum excitement” to the local environment, causing obstacles and frictions to move away from or bend away from the “bold party.” Friction and resistance does not build up in the environment against the bold, but rather boldness acts as a sort of overlaying energy field that slightly tilts the operational environment in the favor of the bold. You might think of daring and risk as exciting the local environment in such a way that it acts as a sort of simultaneous lubricant for good fortune, and as a sort of barrier against misfortune.
Now if all, or indeed if any of this is true, then this idea has large scale implications for human activity and work in the real world. It also has large scale gaming implications, because heroic gaming could therefore be used as a sort of imaginary training ground for the development of higher and higher states of mental and psychologically habitual (behavioral habits begin in the mind after all) boldness, which could then be effectively transferred outside the self-contained environment of a given game and exported to the wider world.

But for the moment, since this is a website and forum dedicated to gaming let’s examine how we might exploit the idea encapsulated by the statement: “Boldness makes you luckier.”
So I’m going to make a few suggestions as to how to use this hypothesis within your game and/or game setting.

1. If you use some factor, variable, or attribute in your game that represents or expresses Luck (I use several in my games) then (given that my previous statements and hypotheses above make sense to you) anytime your players display real courage this should have a corresponding and even compounding “Luck Effect.” If they are brave, and bold, then their level of Good Fortune should naturally increase, or be augmented in some way. Good luck is never lazy, and it is rarely risk-averse. Rather the braver the character the more likely he is to be lucky in any given situation (assuming he or she does not face impossible odds or an inescapable situation).

So acts of courage and heroism are more than likely to have a direct and positive corresponding effect upon factors of good fortune and the benefits bestowed by luck. I can’t tell you how to do this exactly in your game or setting (because I don’t know the details of your setting) but it is my recommendation that you bind together in some way acts of heroism and boldness to corresponding gains in good fortune. (However these things might be expressed, as bonuses to saving throws, or as “luck advantages,” or as gains to certain types of abilities or skills, or whatever the particular case may be in your situation.)

2. I would also suggest that acts of cowardice and timidity have a corresponding suppression upon factors involving luck. The risk averse would also be averse to natural good fortune. After all the obverse of my proposition, that bravery makes you luckier, is easily demonstrable. No great thing was ever achieved by timidity. The timid do not attempt and therefore naturally do not achieve great things. That is self-evident. Therefore good fortune can hardly be considered a close ally of timidity or cowardice, for achievement is the opposite of being retiring and timid. And achievement against great odds can be called one of the potential proofs of good fortune. So the bold often achieve where the timid will not go. And good fortune goes where the bold dare to lead her. Therefore fortune is long time friend of the bold, but always the stranger to the timid.

3. Courage might not only affect “Luck Factors” but even attributes like Charisma, Wisdom, and leadership. Courage should and will increase luck and overall good fortune but it might also temporarily or even permanently increase attribute scores like Charisma, Wisdom, Intelligence, or leadership abilities.

4. Courage causing increases in luck and good fortune might also have a corresponding positive effect upon things like intuition or even psychic abilities (I use the term psychic to reflect both mental abilities and spiritual capabilities.)

5. Courage would make one “fortunate” in the types and quality of the individuals you attract to yourself as friends, allies, and followers.

6. Another suggestion I might make is that in game terms at least allow for a sort of generalized and conditional reaction to acts of heroism, bravery, and boldness on the part of the surrounding environment. This could take any number of different forms but the overall effect would be that the environment “acts lucky” towards the person exhibiting bravery, initiative, and enterprise.

7. Courage and luck might have a beneficial effect upon the degree of power and level of control one may exercise over magic, magical items, artifacts, and devices, and/or more mundane types of tools/technology.

8. If courage increases good fortune and good fortune makes survival more likely then heroism and bravery should likely have direct and positive effects upon any useful survival mechanism or skill within your game.
These are but a few simple ways that the relationship between boldness and good fortune could be exploited in game, and could also serve as a sort of “reward system” to your best and bravest role-players. I could go into other related matters such as the possible mathematical relationship between boldness, confidence, and chance mechanisms, like gaming dice. But I’ve explored pretty much what I personally wanted to explore as regards this subject, and since I am presenting this post as an Interactive Essay others can add related or peripheral content as they see fit.

But in summation I would also like to encourage you all to make better use of heroism, enterprise, initiative, and boldness in your own situation(s), both in real life and in-game. I suspect that given time you will find yourself more and more inclined to boldness through practice (assuming you are not already), and as a result of that more likely to find yourself enjoying an ever increasing level of good fortune and definite luck.

Good luck to you then.

ON MEET-N-UP FOR D&D

On using Meetup to play D&D with a group of strangers

Posted By on Tue, Mar 24, 2015 at 4:00 PM

Fate robbed me of an important rite of passage for dorks and nerds. Growing up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in the 1980’s, I never got to play Dungeons & Dragons. Sure, I played lots of dorky video games with friends, watched the Saturday morning Dungeons & Dragons TV series, and read whichever trashy fantasy novel I could find at the library. I would always see the D&D rule books, with their beautiful cover art depicting scenes such as a wizard with an octopus face firing crimson rays at female barbarian clad in a bone bikini, at bookstores and toy stores, but I never knew anyone my age who played the game. The closest I ever came to dungeoneering in earnest, was a board game called Hero Quest (which is now worth $400! Why did you throw it away, Mommy?), a sort of D&D lite which came with plastic miniatures. Though, the only person I could convince to read the 40-plus page rulebook was my cousin Chris. A few times, we played the six-player game with two-players. Sad, but fun.

Aside from its status as a game only for the biggest dorks, this was long before George R.R. Martin and HBO had made dark fantasy mainstream, D&D has also suffered from a stigma brought on by religious groups and lazy journalists (cough-cough) alike in the 1980s. References to demons and the occult within the game as well as a well-publicized suicide of James Dallas Egbert III caused an international stir. Egbert was a severely, clinically depressed individual who happened to enjoy playing D&D. The press ran with it as they’re wont to do and, as a result, many children, such as my 9-year-old self, were denied the pleasure of invading Castle Ravenloft to defeat its vampiric lord.

Then there was Christopher “Chris” W. Pritchard, convicted of the murder of his stepfather and the attempted murder of his mother. He, along with his three cronies, happened to play D&D and they also happened to covet Pritchard’s $2 million inheritance. Even the film industry got in on the act. Three movies about the purported dangers of Dungeons & Dragons were made in the ’80s with Mazes and Monsters (1982) starring Tom Hanks and based on the novel by Rona Jaffe, taking honors as most silly. The Dungeonmaster (1984) is a close second with its dazzling special effects and memorable dialogue: “I reject your reality and substitute my own!”

“You’re not getting that. It’s bad,” our mother’s would say. It didn’t matter how cool that undead castle looked or how intense the need to fight a weretiger , “…they said on TV it’s bad.”

Time went on and, for me, D&D became little more than unrealized nostalgia. Sex (or rather, the pursuit thereof) and getting high tend to replace the lust for simulated goblin slaughter. Yet, the love of fantasy persisted. Once a dork always a dork. Laughing friends would always deride my choice of fiction. Frankly, I think they’re just jealous of the cover art. Perhaps Mitch Albom would move more copies if his covers depicted a shrieking owl-bear eviscerating a hapless halfling rogue.

Then, one day, it happened again. Strolling through a Barnes & Noble while waiting for a companion, that gorgeous cover art got to me. A beholder, a creature made out of teeth, tentacles and eyes menacing a heavily armored dwarf fighter wielding a jewel encrusted maul. All the years of deferred quests came through the mists of time. Before I could make an intelligence check, I was the proud owner of the Fifth Edition of D&D’s Starter Set and Monster Manual.

After several unsuccessful attempts to convince friends and family to indulge me in my hunger for arcane warfare and pop and chips, I was forced to Google, “How to find people to play D&D.” I’d come too far and waited too long to give up twice. By all the gods I would have satisfaction! The search led me to a site called Meetup. A popular bit of social media, new to me, but used by many to meet others with similar interests: rock climbing, quilting, support groups and dungeon crawling.

Once the obligatory practice of testing the cyber waters for serial killers was complete, I agreed to meet at a stranger’s home to finally play Dungeons & Dragons. Pop and chips in tow, I expected a human horror show from which I would politely excuse myself after an hour. Instead, I pretended I was a necromancer with a heart of gold for five hours. I actually closed my damned eyes and imagined (for the first time in ages) myself creating a crew of zombies to man our seafaring vessel. Zombies work for cheap. My necromancer’s staff featured a human skull with ruby eyes that totally lit up when conjuring skeletons. The skull, by the way, belonged to a former slave master. (I may practice dark arts, but I don’t go in for that human bondage business.)

A more friendly and diverse group of adventurers would be hard to find. The owner of the house, we’ll call him Kumai from the equivalent Japanese culture in the Forbidden Realms (the setting for D&D), had prepared delicious burgers with homemade buns, tomato salad with mint, and freshly baked, crusty Irish soda bread paired with imported aged Irish cheddar. There was Gmorg, the Dragonborn raider who also repairs cars alongside computer systems and a 70-year-old “dark gnome” cleric and retired school teacher who remembered when one had to trade sci-fi and fantasy novels at book fairs and in “back alleys.” They cost 50 cents back then. Our dungeon master was a former Marine with an uncanny ability for doing silly voices and drowning careless adventurers in pools of boiling blood. The use of miniatures and game maps, which adds a board game element to D & D, was too new-fangled for this group. One had to use their imagination with a little help from the gorgeous artwork in the player’s guide.

It didn’t matter that I was clueless to the process of rolling polyhedral dice to determine character stats such as dexterity, charisma. Nor did it matter we were five completely different people of vary ages, cultures, and socio-economic backgrounds, who, truth be told, would have never uttered a word to one another outside of this gathering. We had a fucking blast and we’re doing it again next week.

Mostly, social media gives one a depressing glimpse into the cesspool of humanity. A scrying pool into a lich’s jerk-off session where you can witness a grown man refer to a group of first graders in a Christmas pageant as “bitch-ass faggots.” But this time, perhaps the only time in my memory, cyberia came through for me. I played Dungeons & Dragons with a group of strangers and it reaffirmed my faith in humanity.

“It sounds ridiculous, but it’s like a mental vacation,” said the dark gnome cleric. “You’d be surprised by how a spot of imagination can do you well.”

BLACKLIST AND VIKINGS

I have a feeling that both the Blacklist and Vikings will be superb tonight.

Here we go…

GONE A’VIKING

I’m not going to Ireland to do this, but you gotta admit, it looks like a fun gig.

Looking for some extra work? ‘Vikings’ need 8,000 extras for filming in Ireland

Ever fancied joining a viking army? Now you can. Here’s how to apply…

Vikings, the hugely successful History Channel production that is filmed in Ireland, has announced a casting call to find a minimum of 8,000 extras to work on its forthcoming season, which will be filmed here.

The Canadian/Irish production recently began its third season and will begin filming the fourth in Ireland in April. The producers have today announced they are looking for extras to take part, and the selection process will be held in Dublin, at the Film Base in Temple Bar, and at the Grand Hotel, Abbey St, in Wicklow.

We covered the application process last year, and you can learn a bit more about what life as an extra on Vikings is like HERE

The work is casual and temporary, but with 8,000 spots to fill it would appear you’ll have a good chance of getting the call sometime between April and December, when filming wraps up.

Those interested can attend the open casting days, with the events page on the Vikings Extras Facebook page offering the following advice to applicants turning up to stake a claim.

They are mainly looking for adults aged 16+
People from all ethnic backgrounds are required
You do not need an appointment
You only need attend one day of auditions
Each person who attends will fill out an application and have a photo taken
The process will take roughly 20 minutes
When you head along, have your measurements to hand. E.g. Height, chest, dress, shoe size etc. (You’ll need them for the application form)
No need to bring a CV or headshots, but the team will accept them if you do have them with you
There’s a long list of specific skills and appearances they’re looking for, including: Fishermen, carpenters, skilled swords people, bowmen and women, ship hands, Latin speakers, tree surgeons, and males with long hair and beards (you can find a full list of these – and there are plenty more – on the Vikings Extras Facebook page).

Full listing

There will be 3 x Extras Open Casting days in 2015 – 2 days will be held in Dublin and 1 day will be held in Wicklow. Details are below

Dublin

FILMBASE, Curved St, Temple Bar, D2

Tuesday 31st March 2015 between 9.30am -4.30pm

Wednesday 1st April 2015 between 9.30am – 5pm

Wicklow

The Grand Hotel, Abbey St, Wicklow Town

Wednesday 7th April between 10am – 6pm

Check out the Vikings Extras Facebook page for more information

And if you haven’t seen Vikings, here’s a taster

NEW PUBLICATION SCHEDULE

NEW PUBLICATION SCHEDULE

Recently I have been involved in a number of different projects that have left me little time for blogging. I have been writing the lyrics for my second album, Locus Eater, I have been writing and plotting my novel The Basilegate, I have been putting together a crowdfunding project for one of my inventions and one of my games, I have been helping with and compiling material for my wife’s new career as a public speaker, and helping my oldest daughter prepare to enter college. In addition I have been speaking with and seeking a new agent. I have even been preparing a new paper on some of the work of Archimedes and what I have gleaned from it. Finally I have been preparing my Spring Offensive, which is now completed.

All of which have kept me extremely busy.

However I have not been entirely ignoring my blogging either. In background I have been preparing a much improved Publication Schedule for all five of my blogs, my business blog Launch Port, my design and gaming blog Wyrdwend, my personal blog The Missal, my amalgamated blog Omneus, and this blog,  Tome and Tomb.

Now that most of these other pressing matters are well underway and on an even keel this allows me more time to return to blogging.

So below you will find my new Publication Schedule which I’ll also keep posted as one of the header pages on my blogs.

So, starting on Monday, March the 15th, 2015, and unless something unforeseen interferes this will be the Publication Schedule for this blog every week, including the Topic Titles and the general list of Subject Matters for that given day. That way my readers can know what to expect of any given day and what I intend to publish for that day. I will also occasionally make off-topic post as interesting material presents itself.

Tome and Tomb – 9:00 – 10:00 AM

Monday: Gameplay – Games of all kinds, Hobbies, Media, Entertainment
Tuesday: Design of Things to Come – Design, GAPD Post, Essay
Wednesday: All-Thing – Reader Discussions and Commenting, Reblogs
Thursday: The Forge – Tools, Linked In, etc.
Friday: Lost Library – Archaeology, History, Media
Saturday: Resurrected Relics – Reblog best Personal Post, Review
Sunday – Sabbath

INCOMPLETE

 

For the rest of this week I will not be posting any original content to this blog or any of my blogs. Recently, due to my work schedule and other obligations, I have had very little time to work on the overall construction and the technical aspects of my blog(s). I had planned to complete those aspects of my blogs long ago but other things kept interfering.

So this week I have decided to spend the entire week finishing my originally conceived construction-plans of my blogs to make it easier for agents, fellow game designers, publishers, writers, and others to find me and to communicate and work with me.

To that end I will spend the rest of the week finishing my original plans and retooling this site.

As I said, as it stands now I plan to add no more original content this week so as to finally finish my original designs without interruption or any more delays.

However you can still find a great deal of useful content in the various Categories already present on this blog, and on the Categories of all of my other blogs. Just pick the categories that interest you and browse at will. Uncategorized will allow you to find everything.

I will also be sharing useful articles, content, and posts I find on other sites as I run across them and time allows. But most of my time this week will be spent on blog development.

Thank you for being a Reader and Follower of my blogs, I appreciate your patronage and hope you find my blogs enjoyable, entertaining, and most especially, useful.

SOME OF THE BEST

36 of the Best Roleplaying Games

“I love video games, but you can’t beat the magic in the personal interaction around a table.” — Filamena Young


Just as there really is no such thing as a best book or movie, there is no best roleplaying game, or even best in a particular category. But if you’re looking for something new to try, this selection of games will help. The games were selected to cover a wide spectrum of game mechanics, settings, and play styles. Some are well known, others relatively obscure. Some are licensed from video games, movies, TV shows, or books. Some are free for download, and several provide free quickstart PDFs.

Select an image to read a full page writeup about that game, including overview information, three of the things that make the game stand out out, purchasing information, and links to reviews and community sites.


13th Age
All Flesh Must Be Eaten
Apocalypse World
Atlantis: The Second Age

Basic Roleplaying
Burning Wheel
Doctor Who
Dragon Age

Dread
Dungeon Crawl Classics
Dungeon World
Dungeons and Dragons

Eclipse Phase
Fate Core
Fiasco
Firefly

Godlike
GURPS
Lady Blackbird
Microscope

Mindjammer
Mini Six
Misspent Youth
Mutants and Masterminds

Night's Black Agents
Numenera
Pathfinder
Pendragon

RuneQuest
Savage Worlds
Shadowrun
A Song of Ice and Fire

Star Wars
Swords & Wizardry
Traveller
Valiant Universe

NATURALLY OCCURRING

GAME OF DICE SPELL

Wiz Dice is having a contest. Asking what you would do with 100+ dice.

I entered and replied that I would create IEDs (Improvised Exploding Dice). As a new spell.

The contest/giveaway is here: What Would You Do With 100+ Dice?

Below is the new spell I would create using these Improvised Exploding Dice. Well, the sketch notes for when I actually create the parameters for the spell itself, anyway.

 

GAME OF DICE SPELL (aka, Game of Chance Spell)

I was thinking that characters could carry with them small clusters of gaming dice, as if they carried their own gaming dice for games of chance. Though technically it could be any small, easily potable object. But the gaming dice, and dice games go back thousands of years, would be both easily portable and a splendidly innocuous cover-device so the targets do not suspect the users intentions.

(Of course you could always just use a version of the spell to create IEDs out of other people’s dice, ad hoc.)

The spell could then be exercised in such a way that the dice explode upon contact, explode when thrown or rolled, after a certain number of rolls, or set to explode after a certain period of time has elapsed.

The dice could then be used at a dice game (say you encounter a Thieves’ Guild or group of assassins and as an infiltration method you play a game of dice with them or give the dice as a gift), as a pre-set trap, or simply thrown like small hand-grenades. You could also just leave them lying around and when someone touches them to investigate you have a cheap but effective improvised explosive.

They could also be set to glow, to smell attractive, or to make unusual noises, so as to attract attention or to encourage theft.

More advanced versions of the spell might allow the dice to be used as tracking locators or beacons before they detonate. And the most advanced version of IED spell would allow the user to create his own dice, and depending on how the faces are decorated, carved, or painted (or maybe due to the numerical value expressed on the various faces) that would determine detonation force and how big of an explosion they would create.

Some dice might even explode by dispensing magical shrapnel or by a ejecting gas or other toxins – like snake venom, or even dissolve into or explode as a corrosive acid.

Anyway those are my initial sketches for an IED spell.

As for more modern or futuristic games you could simply create technological/Real World versions of such dice (or such small objects) useful for everything from espionage to weaponry, and I have some ideas where that is concerned too.
When I get the details worked out I’ll post the completed spell here.

ULTRON TRIUMPHANT

You know, in the Marvel Universe why would anyone in their right mind bother to live in New York City?

EĻDEVÅLAËRAŅE – AŒSEI-SÎDELHI FĖLIJ

EĻDEVÅLAËRAŅE
THE LAY OF THE ELDEVEN

AŒSEI-SÎDELHI FĖLIJ

The Tareåsarmãrl of the Felidic Sîdh

Being the Great Tale of the Fate of the Sidelhi, First of the Eldevens

Then did the Sidelh appear, the first of the Eldeven folk, and none knew from where, or how they arose. And their appearance was as a shock, and a surprise to the Nephýařla, and to the H’alel, for the Sidh had been foreseen by neither, and neither knew from where they came. And the Sidelh themselves could not explain their lives, for they were living souls, and wise, but knew not how they came to be, or from where, or why.

For a while did the Nephýařla watch the Sidelhi from afar, as they approached the lands in which dwelt the H’alel, and the Nephili. And the Nephýařla sent secret emissaries to the Sidelh and they did converse and parley one with another, each seeking to learn what they could of the other. For the Nephýařla did not know if the Sidelhi came as enemies, or unknown strangers, and the Sidh knew nothing of the Neph, or of any of the peoples of the world. So much in word and deed did pass between them, and yet much went unsaid and unlearned, for the Sidelhi did not know from whence they arose, or how, and the Nephýařla would not say from whence they also arose, nor why. But finally, being satisfied in themselves with the nature and intent of the Sidelhi the Nephýařla returned to their own places and left the Sidh to approach that part of the world then inhabited by the H’alel, and their mates, and their children the Tardeeks.

And when the Sidh did arrive then the young Tardeeks saw the females of the Sidh and that they were very fair and pleasing to look upon. So because of the beauty of the females of the Sidelhi the Tardeeks took many of them as wives, and with some consent did the Sidh in those days betroth the Nephili (for in those days they were not foemen, but new companions one to another), and by some clever means known only to the Sidh did their women-folk bear the giants off-spring. And the offspring of the Sidelhi became the Tardeem, the Adharma. And the Adharma were, and yet still are, the half-giants, larger than the Sidh but smaller in statue and strength than their fathers, the ancient giants. And the Sidh also bore unto the Tardeeks the Gabar, the Deirae, the Great and Renown Ones, terrible in war, firm and fixed in form, and as shrewd and strong as any beast of the field. Yet the Gabar were smaller than their brethren, the Adharma Tardeem, being the same in stance and statue as their parents, the Sidelhi. But both races were also sure and powerful, like their forebears, and neither did fear any that lived. Even their own sires.

Then did the H’alel look with envy upon the Tardeem and the Gabar, for they too wished to possess the females of the Sidh for themselves, as their children did. For they reckoned the Sidelhi to be a people filled with lore and wisdom, and beauty, subtle, like themselves, and in this they did not err. And they thought well that the Sidh would make of them the companions of which they wished, and that the Sidh folk would be naturally inclined with favor towards themselves. Yet in this they were much mistaken. For the H’alel were very different from the Sidh, and although both folk were filled with cunning and craft of their own, they were alien and estranged one to another. And the female Sidh did not desire to be wives to the H’alel, and they could not produce offspring between the two. So some of the H’alel did abduct and steal away some of the Sidelhi and they did many unnatural and dark things to those Sidh they held captive, and to themselves as well in order to make them true for each other. But these things all failed and gravely frustrated the H’alel, and in their foiled lust and desire they took to rape and rapine against the Sidh. And in their anger and jealousy the H’alel forbade the Tardeeks and the Tardeem and the Gabar from taking anymore wives of the Sidh.

In those days the H’alel had grown great, waxing to the full measure of their craft and their power, and they had taught many arts and skills to their children the Tardeeks, and the Tardeeks in their turn had taught these things to their own children and grandchildren. And the Tardeeks as well had taught their arts to the Sidelhi, and the Sidh learned much that was noble and high, but the Sidh also had secret and unknown arts of their own, and they held these arts unused and unseen. For they had envisioned from afar what was to pass, and they held their craft in cunning abeyance for the day in which their foreknowledge would bloom in blood. As it was foreseen and spoken as a watchword among them;

Asö læbethl karavądyarcølmed urýl Sîdelhi-ryt gařthe boľgaed, Saêđr jya gűayaţr…

Which is to say, “The secret arts of the Sidelhi are to be held against that day when the spear of naked war is broken by craft, and by guile…”

SAMARKAND: THE CITY OF SAMARL

Continuing on with the myth of Terra-Ghanae (or Earth-Iÿarlðma).

Below is described the Capital (political, military, and spiritual) City of the Realm of Kitharia, and one of the main cities of the Sidh. In addition it is the home of the Samarls, the de-facto rulers of the Sidh and a major influence upon the other Eldeven races.

Samarkand (The City of Samarl): The city of Samarkand sits in exactly the same geographic point as the city of Samarkand on our world, but resides in Ghanae (properly called Iÿarlðma by the Eldevens). Both cities also share the same name. However all similarities end there. Samarkand was designed by the Sidelh but was built by the Adharma. Both races share a similar view of architecture in that they encapsulate information in material objects. Books or written materials are rare among the Sidelh and completely absent among the Adharma. The giants instead are excellent masters of mnemonics, and therefore pass history thousands of years old down orally with very little variation or embellishment between transmissions. They also weave information into every building, statue, column, piece of furniture and art, and physical device they create. The entire city then is one huge library of historical, arcane, and mythological information if one knows how to read the text.

Samarkand is the capital city of Kitharia, the most populous and powerful nation known among the Eldeven peoples. Since the Sidelh are slow to reproduce they have invited many other races of Eldevens to dwell in their city and the Sidelh are actually often outnumbered by the non-Sidelh living there. Nevertheless the non-Sidelh are often granted citizenship after a time, as are their families, and so often easily integrate into Kitharian society, to become stout defenders and loyal citizens of their adopted homeland.

The ruler of the Samarkand, and by extension Kitharia, is the individual known as the Samareül. He is elected by a secret group of individuals and once elected he takes no public name other than his title of Samareül, which means Priest-King. The Samareül is elected for life, and is rarely deposed. The Samareül is the supreme judge, most influential political leader and chief priest of Kitharia, being considered the living representative of Samarl, or God. Strangely enough however the Kitharians and most Eldevens for that matter have no formal religion or religious beliefs, and most seek no relationship with God at all. Instead the relationship between Samarl and the Eldevens is considered the de-facto representative relationship and chief obligation of the Samareül.

(The current Samareül is looking to change this state of affairs wishing to make a religious and spiritual relationship among the Kitharians and eventually all Eldevens to be a matter of personal relation between the individual and Samarl. This has led to strained cultural, societal, political, and in some cases racial [such as between the Sidelh and the Lorahn] relationships among some parties, and to the establishment of a strange interlinked alliance between the courts of Samarkand and Constantinople on religious and spiritual matters. I’ll discuss this in more detail in a later posting.)

The city is dominated by an acropolis into which is carved (in the fashion of the Adharma who carve their homes into mountainsides) the Palace and administrative houses of the Samareül. The acropolis is also said to contain numerous secret passages into which the Samareül and his officials keep stored many ancient and secret artifacts and devices, including weird machines which are said to be able to peer into other worlds and through time. This acropolis is called the Jlæthÿlîrel. There is also a rumor that the passages themselves have created a sort of scrying channel and that the channels may be decorated with glyphs of unknown design. This acropolis is sometimes called the onŵl-Samarkando, or, Helm of Samarkand.

The city also has numerous districts in which various Eldeven races mix rather freely, but it also has segregated districts. These are most evident between the Sidelh, and the small enclave of Adharma (who rarely take citizenship) who prefer to live there for periods of time as trusted resident aliens. Politically the situation is stable at most times, except during periods of war. There is a large public gathering area called the Msýthariørl where public elections, entertainments, athletic events, public rites, demonstrations of arcane force and skill, and debated counsels are held. It can hold nearly one-half of the entire population of the city at any given time.

There are also a number of industrial and manufacturing districts to produce and market goods, the Eldarik Houses, the Armories and Internal Towers, the Plarshoel (or, Walking Houses – the giants built the city so that certain buildings can move around the city on tracks, allowing the city to be reconfigured for both ease of trade and transport, and for periods of war and self-defense – unknown to most the city walls can likewise move allowing them to be “interlocked” in various defensive configurations as needed), the sa-Elturaere (the Temple for the study and practice of Elturgy and Elturael – Arcane magic), various markets and domestic areas, the Jmyatŗ Skella (the Crafting District), the Tĕna (Quarters of the Peace Officers), the Nhil (the Warband Quarterings), and the newly created Praşklyřt (the Hall of Investigation – to study and counteract the creation of monsters, discussed later).

As mentioned above the entire city is also a sort of architectural library. However many believe that actual Elturgy was used by the Sidelh to recast the work of the giants so that a secret code now also lies hidden within the structure of the city foundations. To what purpose no-one is really sure.

The River Qira runs through the city (including partially underground) and the river Qala now runs completely around the city in a near perfect circular moat, and then runs away through artificial channels so that the river approaches the city from the East and leaves by routes facing due West, South, and North.

The city is composed of seven plateaus, or levels, the highest being the Jlæthÿlîrel, and the lowest section being an underground area of hot springs and baths called the Myņil.

 

THE DOCTOR IS IN

Looks like Cumberbatch will play Doc Strange. Very interesting, because I’m hoping Marvel will do for the Strange film what they did for Thor and Iron Man.

I actually want it to be creepy, horrific, and supernaturally threatening. Not a bunch of pyrotechnics and a mere stage show.

Strange could be an awesome character facing lethal and terrifying opponents if they don’t muck it up.

Benedict Cumberbatch Is ‘Doctor Strange’

Marvel just made it official, folks — Benedict Cumberbatch will play the title role in Marvel Studio’s upcoming superhero fantasy film Doctor Strange. The sorcerer supreme hits theaters November 4, 2016, as part of Marvel’s Phase 3 in their shared movie universe. The film will be directed by Scott Derrickson (and let me use this opportunity to plug the fantastic occult horror film Sinister — if you’ve not seen it yet and want an idea of how perfect Derrickson is for the Doctor Strange film, check out Sinister, just make sure you aren’t alone in the house when you do).

Marvel’s announcement quotes producer and president of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige as saying, “Stephen Strange’s story requires an actor capable of great depth and sincerity. In 2016, Benedict will show audiences what makes Doctor Strange such a unique and compelling character.”

The official confirmation also included word that the film will indeed focus on how neurosurgeon Stephen Strange survives a car crash and discovers the occult world of magic that leads him to become master of the mystic arts Doctor Strange. This origin was originally revealed way back in the comic book series Strange Tales in issue #115, in 1963.

Cumberbatch is getting much Oscar buzz for his performance in The Intimidation Game, and is considered a top contender for the award. Should he walk away with the little golden fellow next February, it will certainly be an added bonus for Marvel in securing the actor as part of their superhero cinema. But even without a win, Cumberbatch is pretty much a sure thing for a nod at the Academy Awards, and that alone is great for him and for Marvel’s boasting rights. And going a step further, even without an Oscar nomination, Cumberbatch is one of the most popular and acclaimed actors in film today, with a large fanbase on TV and film. So he brings instant credibility and power to Doctor Strange regardless of award season speculation.

After the huge success of Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s impossible to say that anything is too far-out or weird or different in the Marvel movies to be a big hit. So, Doctor Strange clearly takes the fantasy elements in a new direction and is going to be the first truly pure-magic story in Marvel’s stable of franchises (Thor‘s films treats Asgard’s magic as a form of advanced science and harnessing of cosmic forces), and will surely be unlike anything we’ve seen from Marvel Studios so far; however, the Marvel brand plus the general global popularity of fantasy films and occult-horror, Cumberbatch’s built-in personal brand and popularity, plus Derrickson’s deft hand at handling films of the occult and horror variety, adds up to lots of reason to expect this to be another feather in the studio’s cap.

THE OLD CITIES OF CAPPADOCIA

I’m familiar with these places. As a matter of fact they show up in my Other World novels.

Nevertheless they are as fascinating to me now and when I first learned of them.

In addition to the Real World significance of these domains this also possesses very under-utilized story and gaming possibilities. And God, yes, I’d love to vad these places.

 

This Guy Knocked Down A Wall In His House. He Never Expected This To Behind It. WOAH!

Province of Turkey was doing a little home remodeling. He decided to knock down a wall of his home for an expansion. He discovered a hidden room behind the wall with a slender hallway carved out of of the stone below his home. The hallway lead to a cave-like room which lead to more hallways and cave-like rooms. Before he knew it he had stumbled onto an entire city underground and attached to his home. The city was completely empty and abandoned but it had every amenity you would need to sustain a society. What he had stumbled on by accident was Derinkuyu and The underground cities of Cappadocia.
underground city 1

These tunnels are believed to be hand dug around the 15th and 12th century BCE. They sheltered the people and their food from the extreme climates above. They also served as protection from an enemy attack.

underground city 2

Here is A small drawing of what these underground cities look like. The ground is primarily made of ash and volcanic material making it easy to excavate and still very durable. No one is sure who first occupied the underground city however it is certain that many groups have occupied it over the centuries.

underground city 3

With up to 11 floors at points accessible to the public, the city reaches depths of over 280 feet below the surface. 11 floors have been excavated and deemed safe for tourism however it is speculated that there are over 18 floors below that have yet to be discovered.

underground city 4

The miles upon miles of tunnels are blackened from centuries of torches traveling through them. The city connects to other cities in the area spanning miles which would be able to sustain tens of thousands of people at one time.

underground city 5

The underground tunnels lead to giant rooms that housed schools, wine cellars, oil press rooms, churches, gathering halls, shops, tombs, arsenals, livestock corrals, escape routes and water wells separated from the surface water. 

underground city 6

There are over 100 entrances to the underground cities but each and every one of them are hidden behind bushes or walls, even courtyards had entrances that were hidden but big enough to move livestock in and out of.

underground city 7

The entrances and other important rooms were guarded with giant stone doors. They were hand carved and weigh up to 1,00 pounds. Some are over 5 feet in diameter.

underground city 8

Underground river systems were used as drinking sources in order to avoid being poisoned by surface water susceptible to enemies above ground.

underground city 10

 How amazing is this place? I’m astounded that it was completely built by hand.

underground city 11

The size of the rooms is incredible. Right now about 10% of the underground city is open to the public but it was only discovered in 1963 so experts still have a lot to excavate and document.

underground city 12

This is one of the well shafts. They built it so that the vent shaft did not reach the surface. This would prevent any poisoning from enemies on the surface.

underground city 13

This is a vertical staircase leading to a floor below. These lead to most levels and can be very dangerous. 

underground city 14

 

 

The tunnels were dug very narrow to force people to walk through them single file. This would give the people living in the underground cities an advantage over their enemies. 

underground city 16

The room above is a wine cellar and cold food storage. The amount of detail and time that went into each room is impressive to say the least. To think that this may still be sitting undiscovered if it weren’t for one man who decided to remodel his home. He knocked down one wall and opened a door to another society completely hidden underground. A society hidden for thousands of years only to revealed in 1963.

 

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