Saturday, June 25, 2022

QHW, Day 9: In-game Bestiary

 An interrogation of the intellectual travesty wrought about by Vickelstein upon the Humble Bullywug:

Vickelstein is a well-respected scholar, considered "The people's intellectual" by some, and a common source of the patronage of the Merchant Princes.  I am here to expose him for what he is, a fraudulent intellectual revolutionary, too weakened by his own self-inflicted neuroses to do any proper accounting of the events he describes.  And nothing could explain this better than his account of the Froglings, or the Bullywugs, as he refers to them.

"The Bullywugs are a race known for their cleverness and inventiveness, despite their relative lack of technology.  They live in small huts perfectly designed for their swampy homes, collapsible structures that are cozy and waterproof, easily able to be disassembled and put back together after being moved.  They have no metal, except what they can find."
Here Vickelstein begins one of his classic tactics, glorifying the primitive and the savage, elevating it over the civilized.  Vickelstein never once stops to carry this thought of his further.  If he loves the primitive so much, why does he go out of his way to avoid it so much?  Vickelstein is a scholar who almost exclusively spends his times with other academics and those of the gentle classes, who do not need to dirty their hands with labor.  This is as far from the brutal, short and nasty lives the Bullywugs or any other savage race lives, where life is a matter of scraping in the mud for subsidence and death is never far way.  

Instead, Vickelstein does this not to promote the actual idea of primitivism, or even pastoralism, but as an attack on those who he dislikes.  He further goes on to say:
"Unlike in more, developed, societies, for lack of a better word, the Bullywugs do not engage in commerce.  Instead they live among each other in harmony.  Each tribe acts as an extended family, giving to each other so that all needs are met.  None go hungry within these tribes, and all are cared for."
Vickelstein is not as clever as he seems.  He praises the lack of hunger and the unity of the Bullywug tribe, but he fails to note the greater context.  The Bullywugs do this because of social pressure and mutual interest, not because the primitive conditions create better men.  He seems to imply that you would be better off living in a tribe of swamp-dwelling hunter-gathers, but that is a ludicrous position to take, so Vickelstein merely implies it.  You look to those who are hungry on your street and wonder, "Why doesn't someone do something?"  Yet you should ask, "Why don't I do something?"  

Vickelstein has by-passed the question of personal responsibility in favor of creating a utopia out of his own fancies.  This is, again, an attack on civilization, specifically, ours.  He fails to mention the fact that should one Bullywug within the tribe go hungry or sick, it weakens the tribe.  And a weakened tribe will be gobbled up by a stronger one, or pushed into less desirable hunting grounds and left to languish into starvation and deprivation, which will only invite more attacks.  

He does not mention the Bullywug habit of destroying the clutches of eggs laid by females from rival tribes, the kidnapping of said females, or the cannibalism of captured warriors or any of the other countless brutalities that threaten the Bullywug.  

He does, however, mention their lack of marriage. 
"In Bullywug society, there is no need for marriage.  Instead, females are given the right to pursue any male of their choosing, even multiple males.  For access to her, all the males will couple with her and help her to raise her tadpoles when they are born.  It only makes sense that a female would, if given the option, choose multiple males instead of one.  Why not have the best warrior, hunter and story-teller instead of just one?"

Firstly, this is utter nonsense.  Any scholar worth his salt knows well enough that Bullywugs practice 'marriage' via kidnapping and rigidly enforce female chastity, to the point of scarring females and killing males who practice such crimes.  

I am unsure of how he arrived at this conclusion, but I suspect it has something to do with the rumors that Vickelstein was, let's say, indiscrete in his visitations of a young woman who was traveling with his research party while he went on his trip to study the Bullywugs, despite the fact that he was married at the time.  I will not repeat the sordid details here, there are publications where you can find such things, just know that there was probably much more on his mind than the behavior of this small tribe of Froglings over those six months in the Favan Bogs.   

Friday, June 24, 2022

OSR: A Story about the Founding of the Church

by Simon Dewey
Zulin, God of Kings, Prince of the Upper Air, Master of Heaven, Pathway to the Authority, Carver of Fate, Hand of Dominion and Burner of Worlds is widely known and worshiped all across the land today.  But this was not always the case.  There was a time before the Church, before Coramont, before Hesayanism.  This is the story of the marriage of Hesaya and Zulin, and how the world trembled at their Union.

Zulin was a Prince of the Upper Air and lived in a castle of ice high in the air.  He was given every desire of his heart and lived a life of doleful indolence under the care of his Father, a High and Lofty Spirit of Air.  But Zulin desired more than this.  Even as a young Spirit, he had little desire for the flesh of women or men, nor for wine or music.  The parties of his Father and many wives bored him.  Instead, he spent his time discussing philosophy, practicing rhetoric and reading treatises on the nature of existence, searching for some kind of deeper meaning to his life.  Why did one live?  He felt that life had some greater meaning than the one his Father presented, but he could not find it. 

It was during one of these discussions that he discovered the presence of 'mortals'.  He inquired after such creatures and found out that the world below, that quilt of brown and gold and green and blue, was not only filled with animals and plants, but instead, was full of tiny creatures with small souls and short lives.  Zulin was fascinated by the idea.  He immediately began making plans.  Days later, during the next party, when his Father and the harem were busy entertaining guests, Zulin disguised himself as a common Wind Spirit and slipped out of the palace. 

He made his way down and down, until he reached the surface of the Earth.  He found the Earth to be as strange and wondrous as he imagined.  Here he finally had a chance to see many of the plants and animals he had only ever seen in books, and he found the experience entirely beneficial.  Seeing such creatures up close reinforced his awe of them.  Their beauty and majesty were like nothing he had ever seen before, even compared to the sumptuous splendors of his Father's Court.

And as Zulin explored further, he found the mortals in question.  They had built their own cities down here, he found, tiny piles of bricks and mud.  Yet for all their humility, these tiny creatures strutted with the pride of Kings, laughing and singing as they worked.  This fascinated Zulin all the more, especially when he saw what they laughed in the face of.  For you see, Zulin's father had recognized the innocence his son had, and thus had spent a great deal of effort to try and hide the uglier side of life from him. 

This was the first time Zulin had ever seen sickness.  He saw a man leaving his town wearing a funeral shroud, the man weeping while others fled from him, yelling "Unclean!  Unclean!"  He saw an old woman die and her family weep over the corpse.  But worse still were the crimes that others committed against each other.  These mortals robbed, beat and killed each other for barely any reason.  They abused and tortured each other, crushing these small, pale lives with barely a thought.  Zulin was heart-broken at the sight of such things.  He needed to know, why?  Who could have possibly caused such a thing? 

So Zulin roamed the world, seeking out someone who could answer him.  But no one could.  They fled in terror from him, or trembled in fear as they could provide no answer.  This made Zulin despair all the more, as he began to feel their might not be any answers.  Yet he had to keep trying, so he continued his search for the truth. 

It was then, after much searching, that he found a young woman named Hesaya.  She was a girl from a provincial village in an unimportant kingdom at the tail end of a great Empire.  She seemed quite ordinary on first appearance.  Yet she did things no one would have permitted a woman to do.  One day, she stood up in the Temple and strode to the front, where she asked to read from the scrolls.  The Priest was so shocked he stood aside and allowed her to speak.  

Hesaya did so, reading a prophecy from the scrolls, one that declared the liberation of the people and the reformation of the Kingdom.  She declared that the time of the fulfillment of this prophecy was now, and that she was the one who would bring it about.  This response provoked shock and rage from the people in the temple, who laid hands upon her and seized her. 

They dragged her outside and threw her off a nearby cliff, in an attempt to kill her.  But Zulin, unwilling to stand by, saved her by softening her fall with his command of the Air.  When she landed unharmed, she did not look surprised.  She turned and looked, but could not see Zulin, for he was disguised as an Air Spirit.  She demanded that 'The hand that saved me come forth'.  Zulin revealed himself to her, and when he said it was he, Hesaya told him that was not true.  Zulin protested that he did save her, but Hesaya insisted it was not true.  Instead, she had been saved by the Authority, Maker of Heaven and Earth, who had revealed himself to her.  Zulin was merely his chosen instrument. 

Zulin was fascinated by this response and demanded she explain herself.  So she did.  She explained that she had received visions from the Authority, who had told her to go out into the world and proclaim his truth.  She had been selected by him, created to advance His Will upon the world.  Zulin, when he learned this, wept.  Here were the answers that he had sought his entire life.  He vowed that as long as Hesaya lived, he would be at her side, for he too saw the value in such a mission.  Hesaya agreed and Zulin began to accompany her.  With the aid of Zulin's power, Hesaya was able to perform mystical feats and work miracles that astounded those who heard her speak.  This enabled her message to spread even further. 

It was on these journeys that led to her recruiting a number of Gods and Mortals who would come to be extremely important later, the Gods becoming the Divine Gatekeepers and the Mortals the First Saints and Martyrs.  But as her fame grew and her message began to be heard by more and more, the Priests grew increasingly worried by what they heard.  This Hesaya, her message called for a radical departure from the laws of religion and renounced the current ecclesical authorities as wicked men who cared more for glory and money than they did for the Authority.  They attempted to discredit or assassinate her, but all these attempts were foiled by Hesaya's own skill or Zulin's power.  So they came up with one last plan, a scheme to destroy her once and for all. 

On a Feast Day, they gathered a mob of zealots and had Hesaya arrested.  Her followers wanted to attack and free her, but she refused them.  She told them to wait, for this had all been foreseen.  She was taken to the Council of Priests, who interrogated her.  They asked her many things, but she refused to answer.  Many witnesses came forward to speak out against her, but their testimony was confusing, illogical or they simply could not say anything comprehensible.  Others, upon seeing Hesaya and being under her steely gaze, found themselves unable to speak a word.  Finally, they asked her "Do you hear the voice of God?"

And she said, "Truly, I do, and it tells me that you will all be devoured for what you have done this day.  It would be better for you all if you had been drowned as infants than live to stand before me this day."  At this, the High Priest broke his ceremonial staff and threw it at her feet.  "What further need have we for charges of blasphemy?  She had spoken them herself."  So Hesaya was confined to a cell to await her being handed over to the Orzanian Governor.

While within her cell, Zulin came to speak with her.  He told her he could easily enable her to escape this confinement, should she wish.  Hesaya refused, claiming that her visions had told her this would happen.  She would be saved, but not yet.  Zulin did not like this answer, but accepted it, and left.  The next day, Hesaya was brought before the Governor.  The Governor was informed that Hesaya was guilty of many crimes, including treason against the Empire and Marzan.  The Governor questioned her as the people and the Priests requested, but he could find no evidence that she had committed such crimes.  She did not seem the type to raise up armies against the Empire, nor to promote the taking back of her people's land from His Imperium.   

When asked if she desired a crown, Hesaya replied "My crown will come from on high.  Even now, my husband prepares it for me."  The Governor did not know what to make of this response, so he returned to the people and told them he found no guilt in Hesaya.  But they insisted she was guilty.  The Governor insisted that she was a Queen, he could see it in her bearing, her eyes, her speech.  She had been born to lead them.  But they cried, "We have no Queen, only an Emperor!"  The Governor asked them then what he should do with Hesaya.  He hoped that they would ask that she be pardoned, which was within his rights.  But they instead demanded he kill her.  So the Governor gave her over to the mob and told his soldiers to do as the mob wished. 

The soldiers then abused Hesaya, torturing her with whips and thorn-branches.  They stripped her and pierced her flesh, then shaved her and made her a crown of molten metal, which they seared to her bare scalp.  Then, after reviving her, they sent her off to be impaled, the penalty for traitors in those days.  She was paraded naked through the streets, escorted by soldiers so no one would rescue her.  Zulin came to her, disguised as a man watching from the crowd.  When Hesaya stumbled, as she had been burdened with the heavy length of wood they planned to impale her on, he used his powers to implant the idea into the soldier's head that Hesaya would not survive the trip, so they pressed him into service to help her carry it.  He asked her again to let him intervene and save her, but she refused again.

Finally, Hesaya arrived at the Plain of Bones, where she was weighed and measured and the stake was sharpened.  Then she was impaled and left to die.  Zulin came to her in those last few moments and begged her to let him help.  Then she spoke to him for the last time.  "Why are you asking me?  Are you not a God?"  Then, lifting her voice to Heaven, she spoke to the Authority himself.  "Have I done well, Father?" 

Then Hesaya died.  Zulin was heart-broken when she died.  He stole the sun from the sky so it would not shine and ordered the mountains to weep, which they did, their horrific sobs shaking the Earth.  He commanded those who had died to return to their bodies so they might not steal mourners from Hesaya's funeral and ordered the winds to howl in rage.  And with that, he fled into the temple of the Authority in the City, where Hesaya had preached dozens of times.  He tore down the curtains dividing the people from the altar and threw himself at the feet of that golden idol, sobbing.  His tears flowed into the city like a river and all who touched them were healed of their injuries.  The lame walked and the blind saw and yet there was no rejoicing, for they could taste Zulin's pain through his tears. 

Meanwhile, Hesaya's spirit was taken down into the depths of the Earth, to those lightless places where the Sun never reaches.  When she arrived in the Underworld, she was forced to pass through a series of gates, discarding a piece of her clothing at each one.  At the first, she shed her armor, which was her virtue.  At the next, she left her shield, which was faith.  At the next, her helm, which was her ability to see the truth.  At the next, she laid down her sword, which was her strength.  At the next, her sandals, which was her will.  At the next, her clothing, which was her purity.  At the next, her shift, which was her innocence.  Finally, she reached the end and stood before the Lords of Death, who took her eyes and bound her in chains of everlasting death.

In the land of the living, after three days, Zulin finally finished his mourning.  He had pondered her question and realized the truth.  Why did he accept what had happened?  He ascended into the Heavens, climbing the Mountain of Eternity until he reached the top.  The climb took him all of time and no time at all, for he soon transcended it and found himself standing before the Authority, Creator of the Universe.  There, Zulin raged at the Creator.  "How dare you do this to her, the one who loved you above all things!"  He accused the Authority of countless crimes and demanded that he do something.  "Are you not King?"  The Authority responded with a simple: "No."  

Zulin was baffled by this response.  "Then if you are not King, who is?"
The Authority leaned forward and said.  "The King is the one who acts, while the Slave is acted upon.  So tell me, will you remain as you are, God of Slaves?"  Zulin turned and looked back down to Earth.  "No," he declared.  "I choose King.  Remember me, for they shall know me as the God of Kings." 

And with that, the Authority blessed Zulin and granted him the Hand of Dominion, the Sword that gave him the right and duty to rule over the world.  And with that sword in hand, Zulin leapt from the Mountain and fell through the Heavens.  He struck the Earth and it parted for him, opening a pathway to the Underworld.  When he arrived at the Gates of the Underworld, he opened them with his Virtue, Faith in the goodness of others, recognition of moral Truth, Magnaminity, Mercy and Love.  When the final gate opened, the Lords of Death expected to find a docile, weakened God awaiting his destruction.  

Instead they found Zulin, God of Kings, Prince of the Upper Air, Master of Heaven, Pathway to the Authority, Carver of Fate, Hand of Dominion and Burner of Worlds.  Zulin tore into them with his sword and spells, all of his mercy swallowed up by rage and hatred.  He destroyed them, laying waste to the Underworld and unmaking all of their wretched works in a single, glorious day. 

And then, at long last, when ever enemy was put under his feet, Zulin reunited with Hesaya.  But she was not the woman he loved.  So he located the servants of the Lords of Death who had survived and after swearing he would not harm them if they served him instead, he asked what was wrong with her.  They told him that while a God can bend the laws of Death, mortals cannot.  So Zulin beseeched the Authority, asking if there was any way he could be reunited with his beloved.  The Authority responded there was a way, but it would require great virtue and endurance on behalf of Zulin.  Zulin declared he would remain faithful until the end of the Age.  So the Authority enacted his plan and Zulin sat by to wait. 

Forty years later, Zulin was walking through a provincial village in an unimportant kingdom at the tail end of a great Empire.  He was in Hesaya's homeland, reminiscing about the woman he had once known.  But then, he realized something was amiss.  The Kingdom was under attack!  He leaped into the air and saw that foreign soldiers had overrun his beloved's homeland.  He moved to intervene, to free the people here, but the Authority told him not to.  Zulin questioned him on why and the Authority told him to look closer.  So Zulin did, and he was disgusted.  He saw that while these people had once served the Authority, now they had forsaken their covenant with Him and instead served their own ambitions.  This had led them to revolt against their rulers and the invasion of their kingdom. 

Zulin then went to the capital, which was being besieged by an army of foreigners.  And as he watched, the foreign general came out to address her troops, and when she did, he wept.  Though she was different in every way, from the color of her hair to the shape of her face to the way she walked and talked, he recognized it.  Zulin descended upon the camp and landed before the General.  She drew her sword at first, thinking him an attacker.  He greeted her, but she was confused.  "Hesaya, do you not recognize me?"  He asked, tears in his eyes.  Then one of his tears landed on her and she was healed, her memories restored.  The General then began to weep too and embraced her beloved, much to the confusion of all who saw them. 

And thus were the two lovers reunited, and the Prophetess Lived Again.

artist unknown

Monday, June 20, 2022

QHW, Day 8: Beverages

In 1527, the Brewer's Guild of the City of Burkinsaw was charged with the crime of poisoning.  Their victim was 127 people from the town itself, most tavern-goers and barkeepers, as well as others who sold or consumed alcohol.  The victims in questions suffered from a variety of strange magical effects.  

Some, even those who only consumed a small amount of alcohol, found themselves drunk for hours or days, even after only a few drinks.  Others found that parts of their body developed strange qualities, such as acting like alcohol or another liquid.  When angered, these poor individuals found their skin would bubble and pop like boiling water, or when they relaxed, their appendages would start to liquefy and drip off.  

Still others developed more obvious physical deformities.  Some grew thick tentacles that burst from joints, or had their existing limbs transformed into those of crustaceans or other arthropods.  One particularly bad case was Hammond Fletcher, who had both of his hands transformed into lobster claws.  He demanded that the Brewers be persecuted for their crimes, as without his hands, he would be unable to continue his usual trade, as his claws lacked the dexterity of his previous, human digits.  

These changes were all traced back to ten barrels of ale, each one found to have been produced within one particular tank within one of their breweries.  After the Brewmaster and his assistants were interrogated, they revealed that the Guild's leadership had an arrangement with the Alchemist's Guild, lending their oversized equipment to them to allow the Alchemists to brew enormous quantities of specific potions.  

In exchange for this, the Brewer's Guild was paid a fee and given discounts on purchases of certain types of potions, such as energy potions and potions of alertness, as well as memory potions and potions of telepathy.  Apparently, these were all used to increase safety and productivity, as they enabled employees to work longer hours with fewer mistakes, as well as to remember complex formula and instructions and communicate more easily, without the need to ferry messages to any of the other buildings or brewers located around Burkinsaw.  

The accused's council argued that while unethical, nothing they did was explicitly illegal.  Furthermore, they argued that the actions they undertook were common, with the Alchemist's Guild coming once or twice a month usually, sometimes even more often than that.  There had never before been any failures or similar incidents before this one, so the Guildmaster and other leaders of the Guild would have no reason to assume such a thing was even possible.  As such, their was no reason to hold them responsible.  

The Magistrate evidently did not agree, or perhaps he simply feared the potentially violent reaction of the mobs that had gathered outside the courthouse for most days of the trial.  So he levied stiff fines against the Brewer's Guild and demanded that everyone who suffered a permanent magical affliction be paid a sum of 30 gold sovereigns.  Those who suffered temporary magical effects were to be given a smaller sum of 15 silver sovereigns.  

This generous response nearly bankrupted the Brewer's Guild and almost led to it's dissolution.  And while it was called excessive by some, it did seem to prevent most of the violence.  Only a few Brewers were attacked in the aftermath of the trial and while there was an attack on one of the breweries, it was swiftly repelled by the workers and the damage to the building was minimal.          

Sunday, June 19, 2022

QHW, Day 7: Orcs

Orcs, as is well known, are the children of Gruumsh, God of Slaughter and Victory, and Luthic, Goddess of Mothers, Fertility and Plague.  Gruumsh, also called One-Eye, is usually portrayed as a massive Orc in a loincloth and cape of dripping crimson, with the occasional bit of bone armor and jewelry.  He wears an eyepatch or has an empty eye-socket, depending on the artist, and is usually depicted as holding a weapon across some sort of enemy.  The Orcs claim that he is the leader of all Orcs because he proved himself the strongest of their kind, and that strength granted him the right to rule over them.  Perhaps one day, someone will defeat Gruumsh, and this will grant them the right to become the new God of the Orcs.

Luthic, being female, does not need to compete in the masculine games of power.  Some female Orcs do attempt to compete in these masculine games, but they are generally not very successful. In the past, these girls were called the Daughters of One-Eye or less flattering nicknames, but more recently they have embraced such names. 

However, most female Orcs adhere closer to Luthic's example.  Luthic grants her husband the freedom to engage in honorable pursuits while busying herself with the messier side of existence that males are ill-suited for.  Female Orcs handle commerce and the busy-work of keeping their society running.  If the tribe survives by hunting, females clean and cook the game.  If they survive by farming, most of the work is done by them.  Males will assist, but only when masked and wearing dresses, so that their masculine honor is not harmed.  Female Orcs devote themselves to worldly matters, as unlike males, they were made from Luthic's blood and the mud on the hem of her dress. 

Male Orcs, on the other hand, devote themselves to spiritual matters, as they were created from Gruumsh's blood and the fragments of his dreams that escaped after he lost his eye.  Orc men devote themselves to higher ideals, such as honor, glory and victory, as well as to the veneration and praising of the Gods. 

This gendered split is profound and rarely breached, extending to the smallest things.  Male Orcs cannot read, and take pride in the fact.  Reading and writing are women's work.  To share information, Male Orcs memorize large amounts of information and repeat them back to each other.  The most important masculine works are memorized and held by a Tribe's Goran, Shaman or Priests. 

Similarly, all masculine Art among Orcs is epheremal and temporary.  Orc males create works of art out of multi-colored sand and let them blow away, meditating on the temporary nature of worldly things.  They perform plays, dance and sing.  Females make other forms of Art, namely sculpture, painting and drawing.

Orc children are raised by their mothers until they are seven years old.  Until then, they are permitted to go where they wish and do as they please.  To ensure a proud warrior spirit is created in each child, children are taken from their mothers and given to different women to raise, preferrably in another chest.  Women end up raising a child who is not their own.  

Furthermore, they are encouraged not to show affection to the child, as this displeases Gruumsh.  If you love your child too much, he will be cursed with weaknesses such as compassion and mercy later in life, which will only make it more likely that he will suffer and die.  As such, they are cruel and cold toward their offspring, so that their love might be apparent.         

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

QHW, Day 6: Classes

The Social Classes are often rebuked and scoffed at by revolutionaries, despite it's unique and omnipresent proofs.  These folk claim that all the self-evident evidences of differences between the Nobility and the Commons are nothing more than the effects of better nutrition, upbringing and medicine.  In doing so they commit a great heresy against God but worse still, they promote the Great Lie: The Equality of Man.

These men, by claiming that the Noble and the Common are the same have led to enormous amounts of suffering.  Because of them, blood runs in the streets and screams fill the air.  They have spawned famine and plague through their arrogance and hatred.  They claim to want to help the Commons, yet insist on crushing them under heel and worsening their conditions, stealing what little they have and denying them their ancient rights, as granted by the benevolence of the Nobles.  

They refuse to acknowledge the truth plainly visible- were you to see a Noble and a Common standing next to each other, you would find that they were similar in many ways, yes, but they were also quite different.  The Noble would be taller and would have have either hair or eyes of a unique color.  While some colors, such as red or blonde, do occasionally occur in the Commons, usually as a result of some distant Noble ancestor, no Common has ever had hair that was white, except in old age.  Nor have they had hair that was teal or purple or even bright green.  

They do not have eyes of wine-violet, or blue, cherry-red or pink, or gold and silver.  They do not grow as tall or as handsome, though I have met more than a few comely farmer's daughters.  Yet to compare them to the Noblewomen is to put a racing hound up against a leopard.  It is an unfair comparison, when not just nonsensical.

And even among those Nobles who are not beautiful, the ultimate truth of their divine right to rule is their command of the Mysteries.  By speaking the right words, Nobles can control the elements.  They bring light to the darkness, conjure fire and snow from thin air, make food from refuse and stone and heal grievous injuries.  The only Commons who can wield the power of the arcane are those who have some Noble blood flowing within their veins, usually within 6 generations of their birth.  Anymore and the blood is too diluted to lend any power.  

And this is the case for all Nobles.  Even the lowliest of the Nobles can command arcane power, even if it's only in some minor way.  This separates them inexorably, no matter what the revolutionaries say.  This is most emphasized in the name of the Kings, who are heralded by miracles and great wonders.  At the coronation of Robert III, God's blessings on him and his name, a blind man was gifted his sight to see his Sovereign for the first time, while three pregnant women gave birth simultaneously to three healthy, identical children born with eyes the same color as the Sovereign, bright green.

Rumors of the Nobility electing one of their own to the throne and faking these miracles through sorcery is, of course, to be considered propaganda and lies.   

Sunday, June 12, 2022

QHW, Day 5: Traps

Traps should either be A) very dangerous, so players know to be careful, but also uncommon; or B) very common, so players know to be careful, but not so dangerous. 

Examples of Type A:


The Green Demon Face in Tomb of Horrors is a good example of Type A:

A giant, evil-looking Demon Face with an open mouth that leads to a section of absolute darkness.  Right behind the mouth is a sphere of annihilation.  If the players go into the mouth, they are obliterated and die, along with anything in the mouth.

Now, this isn't a trap, per say, but it is a good indication of what kind of dungeon that you're entering.  The Tomb is not messing around.  If you screw around, you will die. 

An example of Type B:


The Tomb of the Serpent Kings is an RPG module written by Skerples (of Coins and Scrolls) and it functions as a tutorial dungeon, meant to instruct players on how to do an OSR dungeon crawl.  One of the first areas of the dungeon features a hammer trap that, if the player's aren't careful, will smash into them and do significant damage, but probably won't kill them, barring truly bad luck.  This is intended explicitly as warning and a lesson- be careful of traps, they are dangerous.

The hammer trap repeats later in the dungeon, but the second time, it is far more dangerous.  Hopefully the players were paying attention earlier, otherwise, someone's character might end up splattered. 

Some Type A Traps:

1d3

1- A set of saw-blades that are concealed in the walls.  Trigger the pressure plates and they shoot out, one at knee-level, the other at mid-chest level.  If you trigger the pressure plate, save or die.  On a successful save, you take oodles of damage.  Those who fail their saves are slashed into convenient, bite-sized pieces.  The hall is littered with bifurcated skeletons, just in case the players don't get the hint. 
2- An Indiana Jones style boulder.  When triggered, it rolls down the narrow hallway, crushing anything in it's path.  You can't save to avoid it, you need to become something that can't be crushed or somehow stop the boulder.  This one might function better as a puzzle.
3- A door rigged with poison gas.  Fail to pick the lock or use the key and it dispenses a cloud of poison gas through the vents in the door.  Save or take some large amount of poison damage, plus be sickened for 1d4 hours.  This gives disadvantages on Attacks and certain saving throws. 

Some Type B Traps:

1d4

1- A hallway with concealed dart launchers hidden in the walls.  You hit the trip-wire and it showers you with darts.  The darts do 2d6 damage, save for half, but you get advantage on the save if you have a shield.  Alternatively, the darts do DEX damage and paralyze someone if their DEX is reduced to 0 DEX.
2- A pit trap.  If you step on it, you fall into a deep pit that is too deep to climb out of.  Spikes at the bottom, smeared in poison or filth, are optional.  Not that dangerous, if there are not spikes, but still can prevent progress.
3- A Mimic.  Mimics aren't that dangerous, but can be really annoying.  High-level players are only going to be inconvenienced by them, though once you introduce the idea that Mimics are nearby, your players will become extremely cautious.
4- A bucket of acid set above a door, college prank style.  The only difference is that instead of getting wet and saying "Very funny", your flesh begins to dissolve! 

Things a good Murderhobo Adventurer never leaves home without:

1d4
1- Length of Rope or Wire
2- Caltrops
3- A folding shovel
4- Grease.     

Saturday, June 11, 2022

QHW, Day 4: Magical Laws

The "Laws of Magic" are an attempt by Magi to explain the inexplicable and incalculable forces that underpin our fragile universe.  The fact that they are few in number and often disputed proves to most onlookers the obvious truth- the Magi are not nearly as powerful or knowledgable as they think. 

Even the most skilled Archmagus can, upon occasion, have a spell explode in his face.  Meanwhile, lowly novices might produce harmless showers of sparks, or they could work miracles to shame and befuddle their intellectual and sorcerous superiors.  Magic, as a product of the spiritual realm, does not obey the normal physical laws of our reality.  This is an obvious truth, yet it bears repeating.  Attempts to quantify and understand it are pointless- for it defies such classifications. 

A common parable taught to Initiates into schools of Sorcery is "Dragons cannot fly".  This is truth.  Dragons are far too heavy and unwieldly to fly.  Yet if you've ever seen one, you know, in fact, that Dragons do fly.  There are various explanations for this.  Some say that Dragons use their innate control over fire to heat the air underneath them, producing lift.  Others say that they use their power to lessen the pull of Earth on their bodies- weakening the phenomena known as "Gravity".  Others say they use magic to make their bodies lighter. 

But again, this proves my point.  The Dragon flies.  How it does so is less important than the fact it does. 

Yet for all my dismissal of the term, there are certain laws of magic that are (nearly) universal and important to know. 

Firstly, what we call Magic is the natural energy of the universe transmitted through the minds of living creatures, converted into the substance that becomes souls, dreams and ideas.  This transmutation is the source of all Magical energy.  It is a mistake to believe Magi use their own energies to perform sorcery, as Magi are mere mortals like us.  Instead, a Magi's "Strength" comes from their ability to absorb this natural energy and transmute it into a spiritual form, then to manipulate it into doing what they wish. 

Some Magi are very good at the former, but are bad at the latter.  This is a hazardous combination, as having a lot of energy but not being able to safely handle it rarely ends well.  The opposite situation, having little ability to transmute energy but high skill at manipulating it.  This is a much more useful combination, as it is possible to increase one's Capacity through the use of pacts, artificial protheses and the assistance of other Magi.

Secondly, all of what we call 'Magic' requires energy.  Regardless of the source it is drawn from, whether it be from the blood and sorrow drawn from a murdered sacrifice, the raging natural energy coursing through the stones of the Earth in the form of earthquakes and geologic activity, or the blinding light and heat of the Sun, sorcery requires a source of power to be anything besides a bunch of nonsense words and gestures. 

Thirdly, all Magic requires the ability to focus the mind.  This is why incantations and those gestures are necessary.  When you have to remember five hand-signs and say certain phrases, it is harder to imagine what would happen if the fireball you're trying to conjure actually appeared inside your stomach.  Some Magi can use magic just by thinking, but this is hazardous as stray thoughts can easily turn a simple spell deadly. 

All laws beyond this are subject to wild hearsay and speculation on behalf of the Magi in question.