Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Architect of The Abode of Departure, Pt. I

I thought I'd use Porky's new architect builder mechanics to say a bit more about the fortress-town known as The Abode of Departure.  Italicized quotes are from Porky's tables.

  • The 1D6 Quantity roll is 3. That means that the architect had a middling number of completed projects.
  • The 1D6 Quality roll is 5. That means that the architect had a reputation for excellence.

The 1D3-1 roll for the number of Strengths is 2.
  • The first Strength is Connections - "circle of advisors, friends in high places, outstanding favours etc." 
  • The second Strength is Grasp of Local Physics - "quality of load-bearing forms, circulation, sanitation, etc."
The 1D3-1 roll for the number of Weaknesses is 2
  • Again, we have Connections.
  • A second Weakness roll is also Connections.


The optional 1D3-1 roll for the number of Other Motivations the roll is 2.
  • The first result is "constructs 1d3 unrequested secret structures through non-Euclidian spaces". The 1D3 result for the number of secret structures is 3.
  • The second result is "incorporates demolition mechanism - or similar - in case design ages badly"

We are going to sleep on all this data overnight, and possibly also consult some tables in Spears of the Dawn RPG. We'll be back with a narrative tomorrow, but in the meantime, suggestions are always welcome!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Heretic King and The Sun Faith
The Three Lands have two major faiths: the Spirit Way, which reveres the ancestors and a number of gods, and the Sun Faith, which is monotheistic and came from the East. After the horrors of the Long War, few in the Three Lands today want to think of the Sixth Kingdom as having been the source of the faith of light and truth. But the faith's roots go back to one pharaoh of the Sixth Kingdom.

The so-called Heretic King recognized the existence of the one true god. He represented this god using the Aten sun disk, whose ray-hands gently reach down to touch and bless the life of this world. The Heretic King banned the worship of the many beast-headed gods of the Sixth Kingdom, thereby earning the hatred of their entrenched temple bureaucracies.

The Heretic King built his own temple city in the desert, where he could seek refuge from priestly conspiracies and build the New Faith. In time, this was the Heretic King's undoing, as his royal, sun-drenched isolation gave room for the priests to sow rebellions -  which in time grew unchecked throughout his empire.

When the end came, it was swift. A few of the Heretic King's generals escaped West into the Three Lands. They spread the Sun Faith to the people of the Three Lands. At least one general went even further, using a gate to bring the Sun Faith to the now-lost realm of Bensalem. The Kirsi in particular embraced this faith and made it their own. They became evangelists to the other lands and people in the West and South.

In time, the lands and people of the Sixth Kingdom fell into the darkness of the Eternal Ones. Had they listened to their Heretic King, everything would have been different.

The Three Lands, the Kirsi, and the Sixth Kingdom are part of the default setting of Kevin Crawford's medieval African pastiche RPG, Spears of the Dawn. This post expands on that setting  for use with both Everway and Spears of the Dawn, and was written to comply with  the non-commercial usage guidelines on the Sine-Nomine blog. Bensalem is a realm created for Everway, and is already included in The Everwayan's Creative Commons license.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

In The Abode of Life
The Abode of Life is the chain of oases guarded by the fortress-town known as the Abode of Departure. This oasis-chain links the Three Lands with the Great Basin to the north. The Abode of Life is scarcely more than a few leagues across at its greatest width, and can be as little as a quarter-league wide in some of its narrower valley passages flanked by steep hills. Traversing it usually takes at least a week - and significantly longer in flood season, or when sandstorms blow up the valley from the Kirsi-lands to the south.

The region is patrolled by mounted lancers from the Abode of Departure. Unfortunately, most of these patrols do not go more than 2-3 days north of the fortress-town. They also tend to turn a blind eye to the safety of groups that refuse their en route demands for protection payments. Small bands of nomadic Kirsi hill folk raise sheep and goats on the slopes of the oasis-chain. These folk are expert bandits, and will prey on any groups without adequate protection who pass through the valley.

A prominent landmark seen throughout the valley are the so-called Tower Tombs. The drier areas of the valley are dotted with these structures. The people who built them are unknown. Their tomb-doors are often open to the desert, and there is often a scatter of loose bricks around the entrance. The Kirsi warriors who patrol the oasis-chain warn people to stay away from these structures; hill tribesmen will often attack parties seen coming too near to the Tower Tombs.

Those brave souls who enter the Tower Tombs often find that they are open air structures with vaulted, open ceilings; the techniques used are similar to those in the corbelled vaults built inside the pyramids of the Sixth Kingdom. Oftentimes the floor of the tomb have a skeleton and grave goods. These have often been disturbed by a previous tomb raider. Oftentimes, there is also a stone slab hiding the entrances to a tomb complex below. Such Tower Tombs hide great riches and horrors.

The Three Lands, the Kirsi, and the Sixth Kingdom are part of the default setting of Kevin Crawford's medieval African pastiche RPG, Spears of the Dawn. This post expands on that setting  for use with both Everway and Spears of the Dawn, and was written to comply with  the non-commercial usage guidelines on the Sine-Nomine blog

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Abode Of Departure
The inhabitants of this fortress-town on the northern fringe of the Three Lands call their home The Abode of Departure. This town is the gateway to the oasis-lands north of there, which lead to the Great Basin. The locals call the lands to the north The Abode of Life. Both the name of the town and of the realm it guards have an ominously Sixth Kingdom ring to the ears of folks from the Three Lands. These names conjure up memories of the Long War.

While the inhabitants of The Abode of Departure are dark skinned and definitely of the same Kirsi stock as the people of that northeastern land, there are some unsettling facts about the town that make most Spears depart quickly - or explore further, in secret:
4th Grade student art installation
Richfield Public Schools

  • The long-worn walls of the town reveal the tell-tale trace of Sixth Kingdom hieroglyphs
  • The locals seem diffident at best, and sometimes become visibly agitated, when the Long War is mentioned
  • The town was neutral during the Long War, but not because they are cowards. The town and the entire realm of The Abode of Life is vigorously defended by mounted warriors. Many ride tall, swift moving beasts that are foreign to the Three Lands - and no one in the town will say where these creatures come from... 
  • Visitors who stay overlong - more than a week, really, tend to disappear. The same is true of visitors who try to sneak north without paying their locals' steep fees for passage and protection on the oasis-trails
  • There are several old, abandoned structures in the town that may lead underground to tomb-houses

The Three Lands, the Kirsi, and the Sixth Kingdom are part of the default setting of Kevin Crawford's medieval African pastiche RPG, Spears of the Dawn. This post expands on that setting  for use with both Everway and Spears of the Dawn, and was written to comply with  the non-commercial usage guidelines on the Sine-Nomine blog

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Gateway To The Great Basin

Reaching the Great Basin from the Three Lands* to the South requires passage through very steep and rugged mountain passes. Most of these are secret ways, and unsuitable for passage by large parties and pack animals. Only hearty women and men venture up these steep paths. 

One pass is different: a green, winding valley makes its way through the mountains North to the Great Basin. A chain of oases allows travelers to quench their thirst and rest. This way allows a steady trickle of trade back and forth into the Great Basin, and this is in fact how most Spears reach the Northern lands. 

Art by Miguel Santos
From the Spears of the Dawn Art Pack
Since ancient times, the Southern entrance to this valley has been protected by a walled fortress town. Whether this outpost of the Three Lands is there to keep the people of the South out of the valley, or keep wanderers from the Great Basin out of the Southern lands in unknown. What is clear is that none may pass by this town without paying a toll to the fierce warriors who defend it.

*The Three Lands (which includes the Sixth Kingdom) is the default setting of Kevin Crawford's medieval African pastiche RPG, Spears of the Dawn. This post creates setting intended for use with both Everway and Spears of the Dawn, and was written to comply with  the non-commercial usage guidelines on the Sine-Nomine blog

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Great Basin: A Crossroads Wilderness For Everway & Spears Of The Dawn

The Great Basin and the Northern Lands
Far to the Northwest of the realm of Emerald Savannah, and just North of the great sun-soaked mountain chain that shelters Three Lands*, are the lands of the Great Basin. The Great Basin's land is fertile, heavily forested, dotted by numerous small freshwater lakes, and crisscrossed by many rivers. In its very center is a Salty Sea. The Great Basin's lands and waters are sparsely populated by different peoples. Its lands are a vast wilderness of danger and mystery.

The Salty Sea at the center of the Great Basin is dotted with numerous islands. Some of these are inhabited by brown-skinned fisherfolk, while others are shunned as Necropolis Islands, littered with the ruins of ancient city states and tombs. These islands were settled by the darker-skinned refugees and colonists from the wicked and now-eternally-lost Sixth Kingdom to the Southeast of the Great Basin.

The forest lands to the north of the Great Basin's Salty Sea are sparsely peopled, and contain a great many wild animals. The people living on the Salty Sea's shoreline look like the island folk. The villagers fish the Salty Sea and carry on a great deal of trade with the island-folk. They live in small coastal towns and villages. The shoreline communities also trade and at times clash with the light-skinned forest folk who have wandered South from the Northlands, and who now roam the North shore in small tribal hunting groups.

The Southern shore of the Salty Sea lacks permanent settlements, although light-skinned tribal groups also hunt game here. Adventurers from the Three Lands have begin to explore the southern rim of the Great Basin and have established Spearpoint, a small town made of house boats and houses on stilts on the Salty Sea's southern shore. From here, expeditions of Spears from the Three Lands go out to the islands, and the shore communities and forest areas of the Great Basin.

Word has begun to filter back to Spearpoint of a powerful, golden-walled city-state to the north of the Salty Sea. Its inhabitants are dark-skinned, and ruled by a Queen whose dress resembles that of the old rulers of the Sixth Kingdom. There are a number of pyramid tombs outside the city. The elders of Spearpoint think the time is right to send Spears north to investigate.

*The Three Lands (which includes the Sixth Kingdom) is the default setting of Kevin Crawford's medieval African pastiche RPG, Spears of the Dawn. This post creates setting content intended for use with both Everway and Spears of the Dawn, and was written to comply with  the non-commercial usage guidelines on the Sine-Nomine blog. The realm of Emerald Savannah was created for use with Everway, and is already included in The Everwayan blog's Creative Commons license. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Inspiration At The End

RPG Inspiration Cards C. 2012
by Obsidian Serpent Games
One of my frequent experiences while GMing convention games is running out of time. Whether due to overpreparation resulting from my terror of "running out" of material for a 4-hour convention session, or just because players have taken the game and run with it (usually both!) I often have to close out a convention game through some kind of summative narration at the end of the session.

This time around, I introduced a more player-facing process in the last 15 minutes of each session. I asked each player to consider a question about what happens next for their character, the group, or the story. After each player stated their question, I asked them to draw an RPG Inspiration Card from the deck, and to answer their question using the card they drew as guidance. Where a player felt "stuck" interpreting the card, others could help - but only if asked. It worked, particularly in the Leagues of Adventure game.

As a GM, I have in the past used RPG Inspiration Cards as a GM to prognosticate a variety of things: including the weather, whether the moon was out at night,  proximate terrain in adjacent zones, direction of scatter, the disposition of NPCs, whether a character was being watched by an NPC, and much, much more. But normally these have been my own card draws.

I think the players got a kick out of using the RPG Inspiration Cards as a tool for thinking about what came next for their character. I'll be doing more of this!

FATE fans should also note that this was the first card deck published with a FUDGE die randomizer on each card. You can see the result of a 1DF roll right under the d20 result on the middle left hand side of the card. The result circle is empty, indicating that this result was a blank face.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Same Sex Relationships in Everway

Many years ago, I asked Jonathan Tweet through the Everway listserv (I believe this was the "" one of ancient times) about Everwayans' attitudes toward homosexuality and lesbianism.

Here is a bit of his response to the list, with a scenario seed:

There's real pressure on Everwayan women to bear heirs (daughters). In a patrilineal society, one son can have a lot of kids by wearing out his first wife and moving on to a second (and maybe a third). In a polygynous society a male heir can have lots of kids by having multiple wives simultaneously. A son's breeding potential means that some of the pressure can come off some of the other sons. In Europe, for example, it was common for younger brothers (especially gay ones?) to enter the clergy.

In Everway, where an heir has to produce heirs with her own body, an heir's maximum capacity is limited. Even younger sisters, therefore, are expected to contribute to the next generation's population. Given this pressure, an Everwayan woman (especially an eldest daughter) gets grief for pursuing anything that kept her from having children, whether that interest is women or collecting butterflies. That said, a woman who bears children can get away with a lot on the side.

(All of which suggests a plot element: An Everwayan woman, perhaps an eldest daughter of a prominent family, has been declared infertile, freeing her of her breeding obligations. Now she's free to pursue her romance with another woman. But rumors suggest that the infertility exam was "fixed." Maybe she used magic to ask her fertility. Maybe the examiner was bribed, or sympathetic to the woman's desire to get out of her obligations.)

Men, on the other hand, are more like free radicals. Unless a mother is planning to marry a son off to a prominent family and gain some clout thereby, her son's pursuits and interests aren't that important to the family. Since a father is hardly even seen as related to his wife's children, even a married man could forsake his matrimonial duties and let his wife find another man to fertilize her.

Of course, marriages between men and between women would make no sense to an Everwayan. In the case of two men, what family would they belong to? None. In the case of two women, what family would they belong to? Both? Marriage is something that families do, not just individuals [emphasis added], so there's no place for gay marriage in Everwayan society.

Consider that 10+ years ago when he was asked this question, Jonathan Tweet could have simply ignored it. There was much less pressure for representation of LGBT people and relationships in gaming back then. He took the time to think his answers through, in the context of the culture he had created.

Even today, game designers sometimes do far less. I was struck by the "Lustful" Mental Flaw in Leagues of Adventure (2012) when I was reading the game rules last night. The Flaw is all about "the opposite sex". Perhaps a small detail, but these exclusionary frameworks really need to change.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Magic Art of Metallic Air, Part III

This is post 200 for The Everwayan!

Sitka Tlingit Moose Hide Armor
with Chinese Coins

The Magic Art of Metallic Air is a magical tradition practiced in the realm of The Rust Gate. This Art is best known for the mage-assassin's spell Coagulated Metallic Air, but there are several levels of casting possible with it. Not all of them are deadly.

All spells cast with Metallic Air magic require that the caster fuel their spell using Dragon-backed metals of some kind. Shirts and gauntlets made from coin mail, and strings of coins are popular casting materials. But other Dragon-backed metal materials such as thuribles, scepters, and toys are also popular. Quantity/weight is always a consideration, since such metals will be exhausted as the spell is cast.

The practitioner should have either the Element of Air or Earth at the same level as the Magic level being used.

The Magic Art of Metallic Air

At this magic level...A mage can:

1: Create clinking sounds such as those of:

  • Men-at-arms in chain or scale mail armor
  • Coins being counted
  • A silversmith or jeweler at work

2: Increase the luster of a metallic mirror or surface (such as armor)

3: Create a shimmering metallic cloud that can blind enemies during bright daylight

4: Coat an object in the desired metal

5: Summon Serpent Coils - a waving mass of metallic springs and coils to impede the advance of an enemy

6: Coagulate Metallic Air - encase a average individual (Earth 3) in a suspension of metallic air, suffocating and coating them in the metal of the caster's choice

7: Arrow cloud - a single arrow with a metallic head becomes a cloud of metallic arrows capable of killing a small group of people (Earth 3)

8: Unleash a metallic tsunami upon an large group, devastating a city, army, or large beast (Earth 5)

9: Call and infuriate the Dragon whose hoard was used to fuel this spell; in its wrath, the Dragon will despoil an entire kingdom or a mighty beast (Earth 6)

10: Open a Gate to the fabled City of Brass

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Magic Art Of Metallic Air, Pt. II

The Magic Art of Metallic Air combines two Elements: Air and Earth. There is only one text that mentions this Art in the Library of All Worlds. The Book of the Diggers lists this form of magic as one of the dangers that miners face when delving in the Dragon- and Ifrit-infested Hot and Cold Realms.

Its powers manifest in various ways, including gaseous-metallic clouds (this is one way to create mirrors or coat other objects in a metallic sheen), serpent coil air (a striking weapon), and deadly coagulated metallic air - a favorite of the magical assassins from the realm of The Rust Gate.

The Magic Art of Metallic Air has ties to the Dragon Trade: The Book of the Diggers states that metallic coins from Dragon hoards are required to cast and control this form of magic.  Bronze coins work as well as gold coins for this purpose. Practitioners of this Magic Art wear strings of Dragon-backed coins when they cast their magic. For exceptionally powerful spells, a mage may wear entire shirts and skirts made of coin-mail.

One way that realms may protect themselves from this form of magic is by promulgating and enforcing sumptuary laws. Unfortunately the realm of The Rust Gate has long since lost the political will to regulate its citizenry in this way.

Spears of the Dawn RPG - Now Out!

NOW AVAILABLE: Kevin Crawford's Spears of the Dawn, an old-school flavored fantasy RPG set in a world inspired by the civilizations of medieval Africa, has been released in hardcover, softcover, and PDF!

I was not able to participate in the Kickstarter for the game this fall, but I followed the game's development closely, because Kevin is the author of the superb SF sandbox RPG Stars Without Number:  an old school with such a great toolkit that I use it to supplement Starblazer Adventures and Diaspora.  

Spears of the Dawn brings the same elegant focus on creating tools for sandbox play to its setting! Some of the game's tables for generating African palaces were quite useful to me for generating clan houses in my Everwayan Family Houses series indexed here.

I downloaded the  PDF of Spears of the Dawn yesterday, and look forward to receiving my copy of the hardcover book in about a week. You can order one yourself from DriveThruRPG right here.

You can see a thread on RPGnet discussing the game here.

One really cool thing is that Kevin set-up the Kickstarter with the intent that all of the art funded by the project would become freely available to anyone who wants to use it. You can download the art here. We're really pleased that Kevin made that gesture, as The Everwayan is always on the lookout for African-inspired art for the blog.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Encyclopedia of Fantasy - Now Online

We have added a link to the online version of John Clute's masterwork The Encyclopedia of Fantasy to the right hand sidebar of the FATE SF blog. The link is located several items down on the right sidebar just a bit after it bifurcates into TWO right had sidebars.

The link is in the outer of the two right-hand sidebars, just above the My Blog List. Look for the cover image above and click on it to be taken to the online version of the Encyclopedia. This an essential resource for any serious fantasy fan, with a theory of fantasy embedded across the many entries.

In my opinion, it is even better than Clute's earlier Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, which is also now online. You can find that one at our sister blog, FATE SF. It is located in two places: in a link located in the right hand sidebar of the FATE SF - just above the My Blog List - as well as in the General SF and Science Links page just under the FATE SF masthead.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Magic Art Of Metallic Air, Pt. I

I am developing a specialized form of magic for Everway, which is a new experience for me.  Unlike Mage, a 90s RPG that I really liked a lot and did some fan writing for, I never tried to create my own magical traditions for Everway. Other people did, but I always shied away from it for some reason. I must have been afraid of getting it wrong. But that is changing now.

My current project is based on our gaming group's most recent experience with the Lost Days of Memories and Madness story-game. About a month ago, we created a rather interesting world  - one which I decided to port over to Everway. I decided to call that realm The Rust Gate.

There is a form of magic there that can produce something called metallic air. And you can assassinate someone by entrapping them in a pocket of coagulated metallic air. Nasty stuff - and it sounds like a wicked oxymoron. Two elements combined - something a bit challenging to conceptualize with Everway's magic system.

But I'll be trying to do just that. In addition to the Playing Guide, which sets out the rules for creating magical traditions in Everway, there are also these online resources that I'll be using as references: Kat's Guide to Magic and Twisted Confession's version of Jim Henley's Magic Formula for Everway.

The Architect Of The Abode of Departure, Pt. II