array(34) { [0]=> object(WP_Post)#1688 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(423) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2021-07-02 08:08:25" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-07-02 08:08:25" ["post_content"]=> string(6629) "Arclands Online is coming   Ok, so let’s get this out of the way first before you continue reading this, (because you’re probably thinking it already) but yes, everyone has a Patreon these days for their world.  We are, of course, going to tell you about the Patreon that we’re going to launch on August 1st in this post and by the end of it, we hope you’ll at least want to check it out on launch day. Wow, that was refreshing, wasn’t it? No sly call to action at the end and all our cards firmly on the table to begin with. We have something awesome for you, and we want you to support it when we go live.  Ok, now we’re over that, let’s get down to business and we can tell you exactly what’s been going on here at Verse HQ.   Some back story How do you fit an entire universe into 160 pages?  This was the dilemma we faced when we created Arclands: The Spellforgers Companion, our first book that we successfully kickstarted in 2020. We had been world building for five years, had an entire universe, five dimensions, ten kingdoms, nine cities, dozens of character origins (we don’t do ‘race’), new classes, items, locations, NPCs, events, wars, thousands of years of history and an apocalyptic struggle that will reshape the universe. Plus hundreds of pieces of art. Eventually, we left so much out (the laws of physics and publishing necessitated it), and were still coming up with new ideas daily that we created our World Anvil for Arclands, but we still had more. We wondered if we could create an Arclands experience for subscribers by bringing them a piece of the world each week, telling multiple stories through weekly NPCs, items, monsters and mini adventures. As we wondered, we got excited, and we got writing! The idea got bigger, bolder, better! Whilst we have successfully funded two Kickstarters (and have many more planned) what if we could bring the equivalent of a dozen new books over several years to subscribers in weekly installments so they can build the world alongside us? For the three of us (Nick, Alex, Katya), Arclands was always about the Arclanders (our amazing friends, supporters, fans and backers who have come along this journey with us). It was about creating new stories and adventures to excite other people and to bring the big story of the Keeper’s fallen universe to their inboxes and bookshelves. We now have another chance to bring our story to you each week and here’s how we’re going to do it.   The Arclands Starter Set To start with, we will make sure that all our subscribers have everything they need to play an Arclands Campaign so we’ll be giving everyone the Arclands Starter Set, with classes, origins and our unique Spellforging mechanic, enabling players to create their own items and spells.  Week One: NPC Each month, in week one, we will give you our NPC of the month. From villains and major antagonists to sages, diplomats, spies, assassins, traders, warriors - each comes with a deep back story, stats and story/adventure hooks.  Week Two: Item The following week we will send you a magic item with a long history in the Arclands world (or whatever world you wish to place it in). As with our NPC, the item will come to you with a stat block and story/adventure hooks. Week Three: Monster In week three a monster connected to the previous two weeks will make its way to your inbox. Each monster will be fully statted and will appear in the following week’s sandbox adventure. Week Four: Sandbox We approach everything we do at Verse Online with the belief that our role is to empower GMs and players (that’s why we came up with Spellforging, for instance). Each adventure that we bring you will be a mini sandbox that your players can navigate and work through in what ever way they want. Sometimes railroads are good, but in general there’s a lot more that can be done with a sandbox. Each adventure will feature last three week’s updates. And of course, everything comes packed with amazing Arclands artwork that you’ve come to know and love. But there’s more.... We’re not done yet.  In November we will launch part two of Arclands Online, our first ongoing mega campaign, The Mill Lands: Shadow and Steel. We will bring you a four to six session adventure each month, every month for a year, ending in an a climactic mega battle and a world transforming event that will shake the Arcverse to its core.  We’re writing a separate original battle mechanic to cap off this first season because we want you guys to experience the biggest, bloodiest, most glorious showdown imaginable. Phew, that’s everything (if you don’t include the exclusive World Anvil posts and the thematic music we’re preparing for you - that’s another post though). So, what do you say? Check out our live stream on Saturday here when we kick off the launch month in the run up to August 1st. We’d love to have you along, it’s going to be a wild ride. Team Verse   PS: Watch our livestream tomorrow (Saturday 3.7.21) here" ["post_title"]=> string(54) "Our next destination in the Arcverse - Arclands Online" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(66) "arclands-blog-our-next-destination-in-the-arcverse-arclands-online" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2021-09-03 17:38:01" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-09-03 17:38:01" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(30) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [1]=> object(WP_Post)#1732 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(420) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2021-06-24 09:00:50" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-06-24 09:00:50" ["post_content"]=> string(11986) "If you’ve been following this blog recently, you’ll have noticed that I have a lot to say about stories, and that stories themselves are the basis of our entire world. When you think about writing a role play game adventure, no matter what the genre, the first place to begin is with the story. Long before the PCs end up in a tavern, with a mysterious stranger hiring them for a perilous assignment, there has been a story, albeit one that the players have not been fully aware of. In this blog article, I will attempt to throw together the structure of a one shot adventure and then in later blogs, add some depth and detail to it in order to bring it to life.  Backstory Ok, so let’s start with the idea of a backstory. In most instances, the PCs will be intruding on some larger drama that has begun some time ago, and their intervention into the story changes it and shapes the events of the drama in one way or another. Here’s a simple starting place for a drama or story ‘Once, long ago, there was a small kingdom in the mountains, ruled over by a popular and successful king who had two sons. The elder son was weak and struggled to maintain his father’s successes once the old man had died, and he feared his cleverer and more decisive brother. The older brother had his younger brother and his family murdered and declared that it was bandits that had done the wicked deed, not he. One of his nephews escaped and was taken in by the bandits and raised by them as one of their own. Now the older brother has heard about this young man, who bears a startling resemblance to his late brother and he fears that retribution might be at hand.’ So we have some powerful stuff here already, a terrible deed committed long ago, a villainous king, a young potential pretender to the throne who needs to have his justice, and a kingdom steeped in secrets and lies.  This is a great starting point for your PCs to wander into or become ensnared in. Some of you might be thinking, ‘but do I really have to go to all the time and trouble of creating a complex dynastic struggle like this? Isn’t that a total drag?’ The answer of  course is no you don’t, you can write your adventure in whatever way you see fit. However, being as we’re in the business of story telling, it’s worth reflecting on why story tellers add such depth and detail to their stories. They do so to create believable characters and coherent plots, so that the story will emotionally resonate deeply with those who hear it.  The same principle applies with RPG adventure writing and a deep, rich, compelling story prevents the session from turning into a flat, two dimensional murder hobo trek where bored players simply see how much killing they can do. Adventure Hook PCs are not naturally altruistic creatures, by and large, they have to engage on quests because there is a reason or a motivation to do so, not because it is the right thing to do. Some will be motivated by the better aspects of their nature, but you have to assume that adventuring is either compelling (there is a reward) or coercive (they’d better do this quest or else). Here’s a couple of ways you can ‘hook’ your players into the story:
  • Hit job: The PCs are offered treasure to go after the bandits, who they are told are the main villains in the local area. During the course of the adventure, the real bad guys are revealed.
  • The wounded stranger: The PCs find the King’s nephew wounded and desperate after narrowly escaping assassination. They learn from a distinctive mark, tattoo, item of jewellery, who he is and that he is the heir to the throne and are presented with reasons to help him.
  • Rumour: The PCs hear the same rumour that the King did, that his nephew might still be alive. They either attempt to capitalise on this or are sent to aid the young man, because the kingdom really needs a change of leadership.
  • Crisis: The kingdom is going to be invaded by its more deadly neighbour in ten days time and only a decisive, strong king can save them. Time to get rid the current king, find the boy, convince him that the fate of thousands rests in his hands and get him ready for kingship and glory.
As you can probably see here, the hook also determines the structure of the adventure/story and each time you choose a hook, you’re also deciding what kind of story you’re going to tell. The backstory is still the same, but the hook enables your PCs to enter the narrative from a different place.  Setting out the journey Let’s imagine we go for the third option, that the kingdom from the other side of the mountains is declaring war and the prospects for survival are not looking good.  An easy way to chop an adventure up into chunks is to give yourself three acts and in each act create three scenes.  Start out by writing what the quest is in one, or a maximum of two sentences, something like this: ‘The quest is to find the King’s nephew, persuade him to overthrow his uncle and save the kingdom’. At this point you can decide if you want to do a one shot adventure or campaign, as there is scope to fight an entire war here if you wish. Once you have the quest summarised in a sentence, you can ask yourself a series of questions about what has to be in the adventure and what can be left out.
  • To complete the quest, what do the players have to do? (find the nephew, help him overthrow the king - so as a result of this question, we know that the adventure has two parts to it).
  • Where will the adventure be set? (In the wilderness where there are bandits, at the bandits camp and at the capital city/fortress where the King is - so as a result of this question we know we have two locations and a wilderness wander).
  • How do you find a bandit camp? (There’s a secret, hidden way of finding it that only a few people know - so this might constitute the first part of the quest, finding the people who know the way or using a magic device that can help. Perhaps the bandits use magic to hide themselves in the forest. If so, what is the nature of this magic?)
  • How do the players persuade the nephew? (Do they cajole, beg, cry? He might not be aware the kingdom is going to be invaded or even care. He probably won’t trust them so how do they gain his trust? By infiltrating the gang or by proving themselves to him - the latter presents itself as more likely to give the PCs something specific to do).
  • Once they have persuaded him, they need to get into the city, how do they do this? (In a time of extreme danger and crisis this might be hard, do they need to do a dungeon crawl through the sewers and if so, what else might be down there?)
  • How does one overthrow the king? Defeating his whole army doesn’t seem to have much potential and you kinda need those guys to fight the war to come. Perhaps there’s a sword or other item that the nephew needs to wield in order to inherit the kingdom. With an NPC on the lose you might find that the agency in the adventure slips away from the PCs so you need to find things for them to do, not the imaginary person who you’re controlling. 
After this process you should see if you can summarise in a paragraph or two the entire adventure. ‘The Kingdom of Nalagare faces a terrible threat, the warlike Ethardirans are preparing to invade and the weak King Voludrine’s rule is failing. A desperate noble approaches the PCs with a treasonous proposition. He has heard that the kings’ nephew Thorle, long thought dead, is indeed alive and well and a skilled swordsman and charismatic leader.  If he could be brought immediately to the capital to wield Zoltharis, the holy sword of the realm, his uncle might be removed from the throne before disaster strikes. The PCs must first find a secret route to his lair, which is guarded by the old mage Askerid. The PCs arrive at Askerid’s tower to find that she is in dire need of their help, an Ethardian mage desperate to prevent their quest from succeeding has sent his shadow minions to kill her and close the hidden routes through the forest to the bandit camp forever.  When the PCs save Askerid, she thanks them, gives them the way through the forest and reveals that she saved Thorle from his murderous uncle 15 years ago. They cross through a forest and navigate several encounters, and find Thorle, but he rejects them, fearing they may be agents of his uncle.  Through negotiation, they win him round and when the Ethardians attack, destroying the bandit camp and killing many of his brethren, the PCs prove themselves by fighting bravely and saving Thorle from the enemy. They cross the mountains together and have to pass through the sewers of the capital city Solcrese, and when they emerge need to locate Zoltharis, which has been missing for several years.  The sword vanished when the king finally proved unworthy of it and only the most holy of priests at the temple to the god Kohve can locate it. The PCs use their scrying device to find that it returned to the tomb of an ancestor and they must fight their way through a crypt to find it. They part company with Thorle, who goes to find the underground resistance and get ready to overthrow the king.  The evil Ethardian mage animates the undead in the crypt (including and end of level boss monster) to stop the PCs, but they get the sword and transport it to Thorle, who is of course worthy and topples his weak and evil uncle.’ Now you have the story beats to write each section and in future posts I’ll show you how that is done.  PS: This took me about ten minutes to think up.   If you would like GM advice, world building tips and a weekly guided tour through the exciting worlds created by Verse Online, join our newsletter here." ["post_title"]=> string(33) "How to write your first adventure" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(47) "arclands-blog-how-to-write-your-first-adventure" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2021-08-25 11:07:22" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-08-25 11:07:22" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(30) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [2]=> object(WP_Post)#1733 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(417) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2021-06-17 19:21:53" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-06-17 19:21:53" ["post_content"]=> string(4940) "How do I run a role play game session?   If you have never run a role play game session before, the number of different things you need to do can seem overwhelming, so this guide is a simple way of helping you focus the important stuff, so that everything else will run as smoothly as possible. It can be easy to lose sight of the fact that role play gaming is meant to be a fun, creative and collaborative journey exercise in imagination; if you’ve started to feel like managing the game is throttling the fun, read on and we will fix your GMing dilemmas one by one. Working with first time players Many first time players will struggle to understand how a role play game functions, their model for gaming thus far will probably either have been board games or computer games, neither of which function in the same way.  Many computer games (Grand Theft Auto or Cyberpunk 2077 for example) offer the opportunity to explore the world in a semi structured or ‘sandbox’ way, but the creation and management of a character using pencil, paper, dice and rulebooks is still a unique and often complex process.  The process of role playing might itself seem odd and unfamiliar and adopting the personality of a character might take players used to board games slightly out of their comfort zone. The answer to this initial uncertainty is to devote at least an hour, if not more before the session begins to rolling up characters together.  Getting the whole party together to choose classes, origins (the Verse team junked the word ‘race’ a long time ago and we ain’t going back), backstories and cool equipment helps the team to bond, even before the first encounter has happened and it helps players learn about the character they have created. During the pre-game session you can talk through any queries they might have and give them some of the background to the world you are creating. These pre game conversations are really vital in encouraging your players to invest in the world that they are going to be experiencing and exploring. Collaborating  It bears repeating that this entire process is meant to be about one thing and one thing only, enjoyment. GMing isn’t meant to be a chore and neither is playing, but in both instances preparation (as with any other pastime or activity) ensures that everyone can get the most from the game.  As a GM, you need to know what happens in each part of the adventure and don’t want to be umming and erring as you leaf through a thick book, silently panicking that your players are getting bored and impatient.  Similarly, you don’t want players who haven’t rolled up their characters properly or who don’t know anything about the world they are adventuring.  Both you and the players have a tacit commitment to one another to ‘make it work’, and an understanding that the game is a collaborative exercise that you are all equally invested in (for what to do when players are not as invested in the game as you, subscribe to this blog because we will almost certainly cover this issue in future posts). As you guide the players through an adventure, you will come to find that initially as they find their feet in the world, you do much of the work, narrating encounters in darkened forests, rowdy taverns or shadowy dungeons.  However, as the players become more familiar with the flow of gameplay there will be a transition and they will take on more of the story creation themselves.  This will happen through the simple act of player decision making and by them describing what their players are like and what they do.  In most instances, players will work well with one another and collaborate to find answers and solutions to the problems and threats that face the party and part of your role is to help facilitate this team working.  If you know the rules better than the players do, you can suggest to them options that might be open to their characters if they are struggling.  If you would like GM advice, world building tips and a weekly guided tour through the exciting worlds created by Verse Online, join our newsletter here." ["post_title"]=> string(38) "How do I run a role play game session?" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(51) "arclands-blog-how-do-i-run-a-role-play-game-session" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2021-08-25 11:08:10" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-08-25 11:08:10" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(30) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [3]=> object(WP_Post)#1734 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(413) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2021-06-14 15:27:07" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-06-14 15:27:07" ["post_content"]=> string(7223) "Prior to the popularity of Stranger Things, there were probably far fewer first time Games Masters (or Dungeon Masters if you are playing D&D), than there are now.  In the past six or seven years, the popularity of role play gaming and the online culture that surrounds it has exploded and a new generation of first time gamers and first time GMs have begun to roll their first dice. If you’re reading this blog post, it’s highly likely that you’ve bought a core rule book from a game system that caught your eye, and whilst the rules are clearly set out in simple stages, there’s still something missing. Often first time GMs become lost within the pages of rules and games mechanics that they need to understand before they start playing and this can be a time consuming and confusing process.  Learning systems for skills, movement, combat and other core mechanics takes time and it’s important not to become too stressed by this or to expect perfection in your first game session.  Players are ultimately very forgiving and understanding of GMs who have to consult the rule books mid play to make sure the encounter or challenge is done correctly. In many ways a new group of players and GM learn the game system together as they play, with the intricacies and details unfolding throughout the game. It’s an added bonus if you are the sort of person who can absorb an entire game system automatically with little trouble, but don’t wait to play your first game until you have mastered everything, the best learning is done through making your mistakes as you go. So if being the perfect rule master isn’t really the point of being a GM, what is? The answer, always, is storytelling The story is everything In terms of human inventions, stories probably predate fire.  Telling stories is how we as homo sapiens communicate virtually everything to one another and it’s how we understand most things.  The next time you are in a supermarket, look at the tins and the packages in your basket and you’ll notice that there’s a story of sorts written on every single one. Every news bulletin is a story, every political speech is a story, every religion is a set of stories and probably every book you’ll ever read, fictional or otherwise is a story.  The reason why we’ve engineered the world around us to be one continuous story is that this is the way in which we understand things most easily. Role play games are popular and successful and have thrived as a genre since the early 1970s for precisely this reason, they are a collaborative system of story telling with randomisation and chance thrown in for good measure. You as GM are the principal story teller, and the players are contributors to that story, and all of you together create a collaborative storytelling experience. In countless cultures around the world, prior to the age of mass publishing and mass literacy, the storyteller was a crucial figure in society.  Some wandered between communities like the Celtic bards of the Iron Age, acting as a news bulletin (often bribed by tribal chieftains to tell flattering stories of their martial prowess), others would be part of the long oral tradition of their societies, but they would carry out a vital task. In our often atomised age, when isolation, loneliness and a sense of separation and powerlessness are pervasive, bringing friends and strangers together through storytelling is an urgent human act.  The GM, therefore, not just as the storyteller but the facilitator of the stories of others is the deliverer of a vital communal service, and someone who helps set up the imaginings of others. Done with the right intent and spirit, a GM can help create wonders for their fellow imagineers and the act of imagining together can be as uniting, healing and empowering as the folk stories that our ancestors listened to at flickering hearths centuries ago. So am I god then? The GM’s job is to establish the parameters of the universe and explain the limits of what is possible (ie interpret the rules).  If a GM doesn’t do this, then the players will, through their natures, subvert the structure of the story-game.  By deciding what happens in the universe, whilst being removed from the actual events of the game, which are decided largely by the actions of the players, does this make the GM the ‘god’ of that imaginary universe? Not exactly, it means that as the interpreter of the rules you explain the hard and fast laws of that reality (just as we have hard and fast rules such as gravity in ours). The rules exist in order to force players to make the kinds of choices that aid and enhance game play, and ultimately create the conditions for the story to exist.  Instead of being the ‘god’ of the imaginary universe, the GM is the master of the narrative, who guides the players through the story, but at the same time allows them the scope the craft the story in their own way through the actions and decisions of their characters.  Conclusion If this is your first ever GMing experience and you are feeling unsure, simply return to the storytelling principle in this article.  Understanding the rules is vital and reading the core book as much as you can before the game begins is highly recommended, but the whole point is to allow you to tell the story and co-create the story as smoothly as possible.  If you see your role as the storyteller and the person who enables others to tell their stories by helping them to navigate the rules and the boundaries of what is possible in the world you introduce them to, you will be an amazing GM. Don’t sweat the rest, you’ll pick it up. If you would like GM advice, world building tips and a weekly guided tour through the exciting worlds created by Verse Online, join our newsletter here." ["post_title"]=> string(40) "How to GM your first ever role play game" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(40) "how-to-gm-your-first-ever-role-play-game" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2021-06-14 15:53:47" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-06-14 15:53:47" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(30) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [4]=> object(WP_Post)#1735 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(408) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2021-06-07 06:23:12" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-06-07 06:23:12" ["post_content"]=> string(3872) "  Arclands, like all creative projects that seem somehow to work was a happy accident. I had just become a father for the first time and this resulted in lots of late nights, and it's a well established fact that everyone creates fantasy universes at 4am. In a moment of inspiration I texted two old friends, Katya and Mat, who both agreed to hear out my crazy world building scheme, and here we are, six years later after two successful Kickstarters - Arclands: The Spellforgers Companion and The Book of the Graces. This was the first phase of the Arclands universe (or Arcverse) and, as disclosed previously, it was a series of happy accidents rather than a conscious plan. Phase Two, you'll be glad to know, has been properly planned out (in as much as anything is ever properly planned out) and we are very excited to share this with you today, if you missed Arclanders Assemble on Sunday 6th June.

2021: Arclands Online

In August this year, we will be launching Arclands Online, our monthly Patreon subscription service which will give GMs and players weekly content, with new monsters, items, NPCs and at the end of each month a short sandbox adventure in the Arclands World. Each subscriber will get a copy of the base Arclands classes, origins and our Spellforging mechanic in our Arclands Starter Set. In November, we will launch the second part of Arclands Online, our twelve part, twelve month mega adventure - The Mill Lands: Shadow And Steel, which will take PCs on a story arc that ends in a cataclysmic, world changing event that will set the stage for Arclands 2.0, which will be coming (see below) in late 2022.

2022: The Book of the Phantasm and Arclands 2.0

The Book of the Phantasm will be our first Kickstarter project for 2022, and it will be the follow up title to the The Book of the Graces, which is currently being completed and prepared for fulfillment. The Book of the Phantasm is an expansion title for the Arclands universe and takes place, as the title suggests, in the dreamworld of the Phantasm, a living dimension that draws in those gifted with the powers of fate, ruled over by the tormented spirit Onikyass. This title and all the other Arclands Expanded Universe books will contain new character origins, new mechanics, new backgrounds, monsters, locations NPCs and more. Later in 2022, we will be launching Arclands 2.0, which will massively expand on the Spellforgers Companion and offer a deeper and more individualised journey through the world of magic and spell creation, empowering and connecting PCs to the magical world. This too will be a major Kickstarter launch and we hope

2023: The Book of the Fey and Helion

In early 2023, the next Kickstarter project we will be bringing to you will be The Book of the Fey, a journey into the dark wilds of the Skaarvald Forest and the heart of the Thorn King's domain. We have been super excited by the possibility of revisiting the Fey and exploring their place in the Arclands Universe. One of our biggest projects in Phase Two is the launch of an entirely new universe in the guise of Helion, an original science fiction/fantasy world, shattered by catastrophe in deep space. Helion sees the reunion of Verse Online and one of our oldest collaborators Mat Troy, who long ago helped to turn Arclands into a reality.

2024: The Book of Damnation

Our final book in Phase Two will be The Book of Damnation, our first horror influenced title, which will give players an journey into the darkest place in the Arcverse, Damnation itself. In 2025 it will be the tenth anniversary of Arclands, so you know we'll have something huge planned for that, but that's another story altogether. Welcome to Phase Two, we're going to do awesome things together." ["post_title"]=> string(25) "Phase Two of the Arcverse" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(25) "phase-two-of-the-arcverse" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2021-06-07 06:24:17" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-06-07 06:24:17" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(30) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [5]=> object(WP_Post)#1728 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(406) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2021-06-05 07:18:57" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-06-05 07:18:57" ["post_content"]=> string(3045) "

Launching Phase Two of the Arcverse:

Join us Tomorrow for Arclanders Assemble!
Hi everyone, hope this finds you well.
Just a quick reminder that tomorrow at 4.30pm U.K. time we will be holding our first annual livestream event with prizes and giveaways.
You will also learn about our next SIX Kickstarter and Patreon projects between now and 2024 - Phase Two of the Arcverse, with our next project scheduled to go live in August.
We hope you can join us to meet the whole team in person. Below is a link to a reminder:
See you tomorrow!
Team Verse

What we’re dropping tomorrow

We want to share some really exciting news with you tomorrow, but here are a couple of highlights from Phase Two:
• Arclands Online, our monthly Patreon content service and mega campaign.
• Follow up titles to The Book of the Graces, looking at different aspects of the Arcverse.
• An entirely new universe, in an apocalyptic space fantasy setting.
• Major news about the next phase of Spellforging itself and the Spellforgers Companion.
" ["post_title"]=> string(32) "Join us for Arclanders Assemble!" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(31) "join-us-for-arclanders-assemble" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2021-06-05 07:19:06" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-06-05 07:19:06" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(30) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [6]=> object(WP_Post)#1665 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(403) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2021-04-19 16:19:12" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-04-19 16:19:12" ["post_content"]=> string(246) "Forty minutes of RPG hilarity and insight is available here (language alert, not suitable for the workplace...)    " ["post_title"]=> string(45) "Starter Set Podcast on The Book of the Graces" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(45) "starter-set-podcast-on-the-book-of-the-graces" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2021-04-20 04:55:35" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-04-20 04:55:35" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(30) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [7]=> object(WP_Post)#1682 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(393) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "4" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2021-03-27 07:26:29" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-03-27 07:26:29" ["post_content"]=> string(9118) "One of the most overlooked aspects of creating a homebrew, whether it be a one shot, a campaign setting, or an entire world, is item creation. Plot, character development, setpieces, monsters, heroes and villains, take centre stage, obscuring the role of minor, but no less fundamental aspects of a compelling adventure or story. Items can all too easily become an afterthought, existing only as a reward, a means from A-B, or a deus ex machina that allows the players to defeat a vastly superior foe. Or else they lack the specific quality or character of the world they are situated in, and,  unmoored from place or history, they have no more depth than their in game function. Though treating items and objects in such a fashion is by no means fatal to the success of a homebrew, it squanders a valuable opportunity to embed the unique character of a world in everyday experience, so that even the most ordinary aspects of gameplay reflect the unique character of the world they are situated in. A world becomes most convincing in the smallest details. On the surface a single item may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of an adventure, but like the small dots of paint that make up a pointillist painting, their combined effect produces a more vivid and vibrant picture of the reality you are trying to immerse your players in.   

The Cultivation of an Aura

  The marxist critic and philosopher Walter Benjamin, in his essay ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’ defines an aura as ‘the unique phenomena of distance, however close it [an object] may be’. The distance Benjamin is referring to is that which is caused by the work of art being uniquely present in space and time, a singular object, with its own unique provenance and embeddedness in tradition, while its aura is the effect of its authenticity, a magical quality it exudes arising from its singularity. He uses the example of an ancient statue of Venus which ‘stood in a different traditional context with the Greeks, who made it an object of veneration, than with the clerics of the Middle Ages who viewed as an ominous idol’, to illustrate the fluidity and vitality of the traditions an object passes through, and inheres itself with. When Benjamin states that ‘both of them, however, were equally confronted with its uniqueness, its aura’, he is not only stating that the object was one of a kind, that it was not reproducible, but that neither tradition can fully capture or express its uniqueness. The statue of Venus ultimately eludes the traditions it belongs to, as neither can encapsulate its aura, which confronts the totality of the traditions and significations inhered in it with its singularity. The aura is present and palpable in each tradition but ultimately transcends them, incorporating them into its provenance, the unique signature of its history through which it renders the history it has passed through.  Benjamin characterises the aura of an object has having a cultic or ritualistic value since through it the object derives value from its existence not its visibility. The aura of the hidden statues and frescoes in gothic cathedrals, meant only for the eyes of God, is not contingent nor communicable through exhibition. An aura’s ‘unique phenomena of distance’ resists the desire to draw it closer through exhibition, which attempts to bring the unique object to the greatest possible audience through reproduction.  Of course each item produced in a homebrew is reproducible, the same item, with the same provenance could be present in a hundred different games, and reproduction diminishes the aura of the object because it removes its singular quality. A player rarely gets the sense that they are the only ones to uncover the item, that they are having a unique confrontation with something authentic. Are we then to abandon the aura in homebrews, focussing on reducing the distance between the player and the objects of the world we are immersing them in? Is there a place for the frescoes and statues, made only for the eyes of God in homebrews? And is the feeling of confrontation with something that is not meant to be seen still possible when homebrews by design bring objects into mass visibility? In the real world this would be an insoluble dilemma. In order to maximise the visibility of an object, it has to be reproduced, but this reproduction diminishes the aura and sense of authenticity which gives it a sense of sacred power or authority, as it renders increasingly meaningless the question of which object is the original one. So the question the homebrewer is faced with is how to create objects, which exude an aura, which seem palpably authentic, but which are necessarily reproductions without an original?  The fashioning of homebrew items by a world builder differs from the fashioning of a statue of Venus in a fundamental way. Whereas the passage of a statue of Venus, and its articulation, through the traditions of the Ancient Greeks and the clergy of the Middle Ages, is a context independent of the creator of the work of art, the world builder is the author of the contexts an object passes through, and is able to inhere the object with its provenance at the moment of its creation, giving the newborn item the aura of a long and extensive history. True, the traditions and histories of homebrew worlds are themselves are reproductions without an original, but if these traditions are articulated in a unique way through the object’s provenance then each object gives an authentic and unique expression to those traditions, which act as its signature. The authenticity of the homebrew item lies not in the fact that it is unique, but rather than it provides the prism through which a tradition or history is invented. If the object’s provenance is made the origin point through which a tradition is articulated, then the history and tradition are no longer external to the object, they are properties of it. When a player encounters an object, without knowledge of its provenance, they can hold it in their hands, use it, or barter it, but it still eludes them. For the fundamental property that is withheld at the first encounter is the histories and traditions that are invented through it. Each item has the potential to be a genesis, containing a world discoverable only through its interrogation. When a player holds an object, they must get the sense that it contains a part of the world that is withheld or withdrawn from them, and that by interrogating the object, by getting to know it, they are having a hand in bringing the histories and traditions solely articulated through it into being.  The unique ability to invent traditions and histories through items in hombrews endows it with the distance necessary for an aura, allowing it to reconcile its utilitarian function of a component of gameplay, with its artistic autonomy from the realm of pure functionality. Each item becomes unique through the way the player interrogates its secrets, incorporating the discovery of its provenance into player experience. This active engagement is necessary to allow the player to authentically encounter it rather than passively receive it as exposition. The item must not give up its secrets to easily, but force the player to actively engage and interrogate it in order to bring the part of the world it hides into being. An encounter with an item should try to have the potential to become an encounter with a territory or landscape, the discovery of an aspect of the world one cannot reach by foot or mount. An item with an aura is an item one can travel into, a secret passageway into the hidden depths of the world. The inner geography of items is something that I would love to explore in The Reliquary, a compendium of items we will release when we reach our stretch goal. I hope that articulating our world through items will produce such encounters, where players can feel that they are not just acquiring something but are participating in the becoming of a world. " ["post_title"]=> string(34) "The Item and the Aura in Homebrews" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(10) "blog-id393" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2021-09-03 17:08:10" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-09-03 17:08:10" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(30) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [8]=> object(WP_Post)#1674 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(389) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2021-03-26 09:55:11" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-03-26 09:55:11" ["post_content"]=> string(10691) "There is nothing as dull as the flawless hero, and no role playing experience as painful as one where a player can’t bear for their character to have a weakness or two. Even when we aren’t playing human characters, we have an innate need to humanise them by giving them frailties, foibles and fears, just like the rest of us.    Sometimes this means (when we become ‘method players’) that we fully embody the role and play a character with a behaviour, hangup or fear exactly as they would actually interact with their environment and peers in the game. It might make for slightly more complex interactions with setbacks and unforeseen consequences, but that’s part of the fun of role playing.   However, there is a fundamental difference between playing a flawed character and a douchebag. The goodness of flawed heroes shines through despite the rough edges, whereas douchebags are just douchebags.   This is important in game play. Having someone play an openly untrustworthy, antagonistic, bigoted or manipulative character might be interesting as a thought experiment, but in a gaming session where as a team your heroes are meant to be working together to solve collective problems it’s a recipe for chaos.   Aside from the obvious point that someone role playing these behaviours might well actually endorse them in real life and be a general nuisance or source of upset to the rest of the players, no adventuring party can actually function with someone in their midst who actively seeks to undermine it.   So, flaws yes, douches, no.   This blog post presents five ways in which players can imagine their characters’ flaws and how they can integrate these into game play.  

The kinda self-serving guy/gal

  Bearing in mind the above sermon on doucheness, let us examine our first flawed hero, the kinda self serving guy/gal. The archetype in popular culture would be Han Solo, whose story arc begins in a seedy cantina in Mos Eisley. At this point Solo’s main motivation is money because he has debts and is in big trouble, so he is happy to ferry an eccentric old man and a farm boy to Alderaan, at the same time pouring scorn on old superstitions like the force. Han Solo can’t resist doing the right thing once every so often however, and this is what makes him interesting as a character and a failure as a smuggler/criminal. The dramatic tension in his character, the thing that keeps us returning is the struggle that exists between being self serving and finding wider loyalties to his friends and to the cause of the Rebel Alliance. Solo has flaws in abundance, he is bad tempered, sarcastic, arrogant and we forgive him all of this because he makes it look good.    How could this be transposed into role playing? Imagine a character who is asked to journey on a noble quest to engage in an act of selflessness, but who is not instinctively motivated by altruism to begin with, so a sum of money has to be offered to induce them to act. What is their story arc? Do they return from their quest much as they started out, obsessed with money and little else? If they do, that’s fine, but all characters in stories need to grow in some way, and so conventionally a character will take that path of maturation that all people eventually do as they grow up and become motivated by things that are greater than the needs of the self and the material, or they will become more embedded in the need for gold and items. A character’s flaw will either be the grain of sand that makes a pearl, the tension that forces them to transcend this human weakness, or it will be their undoing, condemning them to an endless search for material wealth, of which there can never be enough.   

The Long Shadow

  Every hero has a backstory and not every backstory is resolved, which can result in a warrior or spellcaster journeying and questing to lay their demons to rest. In the Infinity Saga, Tony Stark is haunted by the attack on New York by Loki and the Chitauri and, despite acting from good intentions (and some help from Wanda Maximoff’s mind powers) he creates Ultron. The story arc is finally resolved at the end of Avengers Endgame where he sacrifices his own life to snap Thanos out of existence. This is an example of the power of the long shadow at work, the character who experiences trauma, loss, is a witness to an evil doing or has a terrible nemesis who defeated them long ago. The legacy of the trauma can be that the hero either doesn’t feel safe or doesn’t believe they can safeguard others. This can be brought into an RPG by players in various ways. Imagine a PC who saw a particular kind of monster that had never been heard of before emerge from a dimension swallow one of their companions and then disappear into the void. That PC might feel angry, helpless or terrified. They might spend years trying to find out everything possible about the creature and its origins, or cross into its lair, life Beowulf and the cave of Grendel to slay it. The character might also want to get as far away (geographically and emotionally) from their past, but the past rarely gives up that easily. The character arc is the resolution of fear, anger or doubt (preferably avoiding the ultimate sacrifice of the hero). Resolution of the past is a key human drive, the need for a story that has a meaningful beginning, middle and ending, where the monster is slain and the hero can rest exists deep within all of us. These are the kinds of story arcs that normally require a hero to be retired if they survive. Once the monster is slain and the long crisis resolved, what more does the hero have to say or do, other than to hog the centre stage where new stories should be told.   

Quick to anger

  It takes Marty McFly three movies to walk away from the accusation that he might be ‘chicken’ and to set aside his hot temper. There is a whole subgenre of super heroes who thrive on the power of rage (which is a feeble power, when it can be defeated by good sleep, a balanced diet and switching from coffee to peppermint tea). Yes, the angry hero is one who can have good intent in their hearts, but can also cause mayhem with their inability to control the deep an primal emotion that we all carry inside of ourselves. It’s worth asking why a character is so angry to begin with, some angers are temporary and fleeting (a person is rude to us or breaks one of our belongings) and others are deep and lasting. For example, if a character had experienced a betrayal or loss earlier in their lives, rather like the long shadow character above, then instead of becoming dominated by a pervading sense of fear, they might be powered by an unresolved anger and seek vengeance (see Thor, Infinity War). Once again the resolution to the character’s narrative journey is the restitution of order and justice, where the wrong is righted and the hero can find some peace.   

Proving a point

  In this blog, we often discuss archetypes of heroes in film and literature, and perhaps the greatest point-proving, pedantic hero of them all is Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm.    This is actually a serious point, but work with me here.   In most episodes of Curb, Larry tries to do the right thing, or at the very least, when unfortunate events transpire he is rarely the progenitor of them. Larry David, who to the viewer is the hero of the narrative, bumbles his way through interactions with others but in most instances is sabotages by his self righteous and pedantic nature. He alienates others by refusing to yield where others might. He sees getting the upper hand over those he interacts with as a point of pride. The question for D&D players is this:   Can you play a Larry David character?   Imagine a character who has a scholarly background and who has the knowledge to mentally defeat others on a point or lore. Imagine a character who makes sure they get their money’s worth in every encounter in a tavern or a bazaar. This could certainly add some colour to the standard interactions with NPCs and no doubt much needed humour to the session, but what is the story arc? The story arc is to be liberated from small things and to be able to see much bigger issues.   


  Characters and the people who play them are formed by the experiences of living, and in each stage of living we have to contend with questions of fear and trust. As children, we learn whether for us, relationships are safe or not, and this determines much of how we will see the rest of the world and the people in it. If a character acquires a mistrust of a particular group of ‘others’ in the game world, the player must be careful (and must be called on this by the DM) that they don’t simply roleplay a poorly disguised bigotry in the game session. Even though we engage with each other in a fantasy world, our words have meanings in this one, always. The oh so hilarious interplay between various fictional elves and dwarves is a classic example of how mistrust can shape a party. In the Lord of the Rings films, the suspicion that Gimli has towards Legolas, born of his father’s incarceration by the elves during the events of the Hobbit,  becomes a grudging respect and rivalry. This, of course, is the story arc, from mistrust to at least respect if not friendship. In some instances however, a character is right to be suspicious of a potential adversary and often it is when they led their guard down that they are most vulnerable or are likely to be betrayed again. In The Mandalorian, Mando has a mistrust of droids and doesn’t like working with them. Whilst the origins of this mistrust have yet to be revealed it adds a degree of nuance to the lone warrior character.  " ["post_title"]=> string(47) "The top five character flaws for D&D characters" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(5) "389-2" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2021-03-27 07:17:28" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-03-27 07:17:28" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(30) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [9]=> object(WP_Post)#1709 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(386) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2021-03-25 10:15:01" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-03-25 10:15:01" ["post_content"]=> string(7442) "Leridan Ostrik was born in the Tauric Isles, a small archipelago of islands to the north of Arc, sitting some twenty miles off the coast in the Greater Arc Sea. His father, Soland, had lived and worked as a scholar in the great city of Harenis for many years, but left  the dark of the great library of Harenis with his son when Leridan was five. The two journeyed northwards through Arc to the Taurics and created a new life among the fisher folk of the sun drenched islands. Leridan’s father never spoke of his mother, and despite his demands as he grew older, Leridan never knew what had become of her, or even what her name was. His father also never explained why they had been forced to leave Harenis all those years ago. Soland was not a cruel man, but a fearful one, seemingly desperate to keep his son from the truth. Leridan grew up among the children of oyster catchers and fishermen, and left his reclusive father in their cliffside home to pore over scrolls, maps and books until the dark fell each night. His childhood was a surprisingly happy one, joining other children in the coves, inlets, hidden bays, beaches and caves of the Tauric isles. There was little by way of formal education, but Soland ensured that Leridan was able to learn Vannic and to understand the patterns of the stars, the cycles of the two moons and the names of the birds, fish and plants of the islands.  This world seemed to the young Leridan like it could last forever, but of course nothing ever does. It was shattered for him on the day that his father vanished. Leridan had no idea about the nature of his father’s studies or why he obsessively looked at maps of the Arclands night after night. He did not know why his father studied the stars and the moons, or what in truth he was ultimately looking for. Soland searched for a hidden doorway to another realm known as Thoriki’s Gate. Leridan’s mother had sought it out and had vanished into a place known only to those with an understanding of the worlds that lie beyond ours as the Red Waste. Soland’s life in exile, away from the prying eyes of the scholars of Harenis, had been dedicated to keeping their son safe, and to finding her. He left his son with a cryptic note, telling him that on his eighteenth birthday to leave the island and seek out a Carathene Monk called Fra Ordanacke at the monastery of Carathe.  Leridan was consumed with anger towards his father for leaving him and for all the secrets he had kept, but he knew that he still had little choice than to follow Soland’s instructions. On his birthday he sailed a small boat to the mainland and walked for several days until he got to Arc, finding the noise and chaos of the city overwhelming at first. He bought a horse and road the remaining 120 miles to Carathe, finding himself in awe of the vast monastery that rose from the cliffsides of the Arcish coastline. There he found Ordanacke, who had been expecting him. The Carathene explained that he had known Leridan’s father for many years and the two had journeyed together, though he did not say where. He gave Leridan a longsword that had belonged to his father called, Gylthegan, or ‘Summer’s Gleaming’. Leridan was initially surprised to hold the weapon, having been unaware that anyone in his family had wielded a blade in anger. Ordanacke then paused before he spoke:
“I also knew your mother Leridan, I knew them both, before you were born. They were both good friends of mine and whilst I became part of the Carathene Order, they devoted their lives to their work in Harenis, work which consumed them both.”
  Leridan demanded to know what kind of work had consumed them, and Ordanacke asked the young man to walk with him. They descended from monk’s chambers down a curving flight of stairs to a huge plaza in the centre of the monastery, enclosed by a glass dome hundreds of feet above their heads. As they walked across the plaza, Ordanacke encouraged Leridan to look at the floor, where there were five bronze circles laid into the rose stone.   
“There are five worlds in the Keeper’s creation that we know of, and maybe more, but definitely five. For centuries nobody was able to reach these realms and nothing could reach ours, but those days are for better, or for worse, behind us. Your mother believed there was something at the heart of this dimension,”
he said, pointing at one of the large bronze circles on the floor,
“...that explained everything. It is a place known as the Red Waste, and it is here that she journeyed to, and here also that your father searches for her.”
  For a while, all that Leridan could do was sink to his knees, his emotions racing between despair, anger and bewilderment.   
“Your father kept his secrets for a reason Leridan, he knew that they could consume him and he did everything he could to prevent them from consuming you. Sadly, he failed, as I now can see.”
  Ordanacke waited for the young man to get up from the floor and then spoke again.  
“We have much work to do together Leridan, and your new home is here at Carathe.”
  Leridan joined the Carathene Order and came to understand that the monks at Carathe believed that their sole act of devotion towards the Keeper was to chronicle their god’s work and to map the worlds he had created. Leridan took the title Fra Ostrik and accompanied Ordanacke as his apprentice across Aestis. After three years of learning every aspect of Carathenian Cartography, Ostrik sensed that Ordanacke too, had a secret to keep, and when the old man realised this, he confided in Leridan.  
“There is a journey I must undertake, that, like your mothers, will answer many questions and no doubt pose many more. It is to Celestium, a place that the Aruhviad tells us that no living soul may enter, only the spirits of the righteous. I believe there is a doorway to Celestium and that much of what we know may be wrong. Should I be right in what I believe, it will be a truth too terrible for the peoples of this world to consider.”
  Leridan offered to come, but the old man declined just before he left, embracing the boy who had become a son to him. As Leridan looked into Ordanacke’s eyes he realised that it would be the last time he saw him, but that this time, fate had allowed him the goodbye he had so long been denied.   " ["post_title"]=> string(34) "Fra Leridan Ostrik, Carathene Monk" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(33) "fra-leridan-ostrik-carathene-monk" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2021-03-25 10:15:01" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-03-25 10:15:01" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(30) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [10]=> object(WP_Post)#1704 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(383) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2021-03-22 06:13:01" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-03-22 06:13:01" ["post_content"]=> string(12534) "


The great monastery at Carathe is one of the preeminent centres of learning in the Arclands. Second only to the city of Harenis itself, it is the home of cartography and exploration in the continent of Aestis. The Carathene brothers and sisters began the process of mapping the world of Hermia many centuries ago, believing that it was an act of supreme worship of The Keeper, the creator god of the Aruhvian faith. They charted the course of every river, mapped every mountain range, believing they were documenting the works of their lord. When the Carathenes discovered there were portals into other worlds, a profound crisis of faith gripped the order. In the Aruhviad, their sacred text, it explained that there were three realms, the Mortal, the Celestial and Damnation itself. The Carathenes began to discover worlds that had never been described in any religious text and when they journeyed to the Celestial Realm and Damnation, they learned many disturbing truths about their lord and master. The ever suspicious Skarisi followed the Carathenes and learned many of the same revelations; the Skarisi officially view the Carathenes as heretics, but secretly know that much of what the brotherhood knows about the true nature of the universe is correct. In this post, we’re going to examine ten items that your players might discover at Carathe or in one of the smaller Carathene monasteries. 

Daeun Parchment

This is a map writing parchment of the highest quality, made from the bark of the mountain birches that were once found on the highest peaks of the Vannic Empire. It has a powerful ritual significance, is in short supply and is not used for anything other than the most exquisitely drawn Carathene maps. It is thought that the Graces, celestial servants of the Keeper, first showed the Vannic peoples how to produce this very fine paper, and schooled them in the art of map making. This was passed down to the Carathenes, whose order was established long after the end of the Vannic era. The Graces knew that their special variety of parchment contained qualities that would aid map making and allow those who used it for cartography to chart places far beyond their own imaginings. The venerable Carathene Fra Ordanacke wrote once that: “...the gift of Daeun Parchment was no accident, the divine helpers of the Keeper wanted we weak and foolish mortals to understand the realms their lord had created and gave us the perfect tools to do it.” PCs using the parchment for maps, drawings, sketches or notes will find that the ink settles on the pages in such a way that it enhances the perception of the character. A PC can add +2 to an investigation roll (once per long rest) when they use the parchment, as long as they are using ink or pencil to draw out the thing they are trying to understand (part of a dungeon, a fragment of old arcane language etc).

Marcondian Prism

Marcondian Prisms are clear crystal pyramids of immense rarity and value. They used by the Carathenes on their travels in order to see through illusions. The Marcondian Prism is thought to originate in the Celestial Realm, and it only allows the light of the stars to pass through it, not the distortions created by illusions and other tricks. It can be used once per long rest (any attempt to constantly use the crystal and it will become cloudy and opaque) to see through spells, illusions, shape changing and other tricks and deceptions. Once per long rest it will cause any illusion to automatically fail when its user looks through it. Some Marcondian prisms were corrupted long ago and have been scattered across the Mortal Realm in order to confuse and cause chaos. They convince their users to have fearful, paranoid ideas about their companions and those failing a save roll on Wisdom will experience the effects of a Fear Spell. 

Ironwood staff

Ironwood comes from the far distant world of Helenas and was brought to the Celestial and Mortal Realms by the stag people, the Atrushki. The wood grows from the branches of huge black pines in the snowbound mountains of the Atrushki homeworld and can be carved into deadly weapons. An ironwood staff at first glance appears to be hewn from fine grained dark wood, but it is icily cold to the touch. In battle, it is as hard as the metal it is named after and as strong, doing 1d10 damage. 

Carathene Robes

The light blue robes of the Carathene Order are worn by monks across the Arclands and beyond. To lay people, the  Carathenes are a strange organisation, unlike any other monastic order. They rarely engage in the charitable activities of other monks, there are no Carathene almshouses for the poor and the monks do not distribute food or clothing on high days and holy days like other religious denominations (with the exception of the Ashtarians of Skaris, who believe the Keeper’s greatest gift to humanity is suffering). Most ordinary folk know little about the real work of the Carathenes and have no knowledge of their journeys to other dimensions. In the Celestial Realm, Damnation, the Red Waste, or the Grey Kingdom however, it is a different story. The creatures and beings that wander these realms know the distinctive robes well (for many, it is the only colour they associate with the Mortal Realm), and they either react with friendship or hostility when they see the colours of the Carathene Order.

Sketch drawings of a tormented figure 

Carathenes are almost universally excellent artists, drawing maps and diagrams or pencil sketches of the many extraordinary things they have seen on their journeys. If observant PCs find themselves browsing through the drawings in the notebook of a Carathene monk, or leafing through the piles of parchment on a desk in one of Carathe’s great halls of learning, they might find one very distinctive sketch. Again and again, one monk has drawn a picture of a man in torn, ragged  robes. Where his face might have been, the artist has drawn a shimmering cloud, which appears to hide a dark skull in its midst. These images are deeply unsettling to all those who see them, and generate a fear and foreboding of the character in the sketches, and a horror as to his fate.

Cantica Surtus

The Carathenes have vast libraries in the catacombs of Carathe, and each monk is expected to write their own tome of lore in their lifetimes. Some write about their travels in Hermia, others who are more intrepid and have crossed into other dimensions record their journeys through mysterious and baffling landscapes. The PCs might find the Cantica Surtus, or the ‘Account of Surtus’; one of the few regions in the Red Waste that the order have been able to map. Surtus is an immense valley between two ridges of blood red mountains, where a battle between gigantic creatures raged many millennia ago. If the PCs read the book, they will find that the planes of Surtus are littered with the carcasses and skeletons of mighty giant folk and their mounts, and all that remains is their armour, which has not corroded or decayed, even after thousands of years. The book details the many creatures that can be found above and below the burning sand and the strange wandering nomads known as Nurakai who trade what they can find amidst the ruins and debris of the long dead titans.

Heavy travelling boots

Carathenes have very distinctive heavy shod boots; few Arclanders walk as far during one lifetime as a member of the Carathene order. The members of the order pride practicality and utility above all things and value items that are made to last, but there is another secret to Carathene footwear. The Carathenes learned long ago that no two dimensional portals are alike, they are either tears in the inter dimensional fabric or doorways created by powerful entities, but each has its own unique signature. Carathenes who walk through a portal sprinkle sand on the ground several feet before it. The portal emits a powerful field of energy that arranges the sand into a distinct and unique pattern, and then turns it into a strange liquid glass that is cold to the touch and which ice burns itself into anything that comes into contact with it. This is where Carathene boots come in handy, as a Carathene monk can step on any part of the pattern and it will freeze itself into the soles of their boots. The next time the Carathene comes close to the portal, the field it emits will connect with the pattern on the soles of the Carathene boots, which will act as a key fitting a unique lock. 

Ghorwhinder’s Amulet

There are few more repulsive creatures than the Anazsulg, a vast, bloated horror that creates Zsulg spores and seeks out sources of magic energy to consume. The Carathenes first encountered these bike horrors in the Red Waste and many brothers and sisters were devoured by them before the Carathene smith Ghorwinder used Anazsulg blood to enchant stones that offered protection against their evil. Ghorwinder, a Half Firg, created only a handful of amulets to protect against Anazsulg, and each enables the user to become invisible to the creature for 2d6 turns once per long rest. It does not work on any other being other than Anazsulgs and Zsulgs it is shaped to resemble a ring of interlocking hands with a blood red stone in the centre, which is worn around the neck on a chain. 

Golden firebug

Not everything in the Carathene’s chambers arrived there by design. When Carathene monks return from wanderings in other realms there are few quarantines to make sure that they have not brought unwelcome visitors with them. As a result, the dark recesses of Carathe are often alive with strange creatures both benign and hostile. If the PCs find themselves in a Carathene monk’s chambers they might see a small brightly coloured gold insect, about the size of a walnut scurrying across a stone floor or a desk. The golden firebug is a highly intelligent and social creature from the Red Waste (where they are normally just covered in thick rust coloured dust). They were created in a world of machines and engines far beyond the wastes themselves and whilst it is a sentient living creature, the Golden firebug is also a tiny automaton and can pose as an ornament or object. They are friendly unless they are threatened or stepped on, at which point they can let out a five inch jet of flame from their tiny mouths.

Black Heart Ink

Just as the Carathenes use special parchments for their maps, sometimes they require special inks, depending on who or what they are writing about. Writing in High Vannic (which is the language all Carathenes are educated in), has both its strengths and limitations, Vannic was originally taught to humans by the Graces, which means that it lacks the words within it to describe Damnation. A tiny number of Carathenes understand the damnation tongue of the infernal city of Orog; Zhugaian script. Zhugai is the language of the Prassus, the middle tier of infiltrators, persuaders and corruptors that speak on behalf of the Legion of Damnation. Only the most experienced and mentally robust Carathenes dare write the script, but it cannot be completed in any ordinary ink. Black Heart Ink, drawn from the blood of Graces and Legion that seeped into the tortured earth of the great battlefield of Locaris, is the only medium that can be used to write the words of Zhugai. The dark, malevolent ink is stored deep in the Carathene vaults and has a power and a consciousness of its own. It seeks to use the words it writes against the mind of the writer and can produce a sensation of deep terror, suspicion and delusion for those who fail a wisdom save when using it. " ["post_title"]=> string(49) "Ten items you might find in a Carathene Monastery" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(49) "ten-items-you-might-find-in-a-carathene-monastery" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2021-03-22 06:19:55" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-03-22 06:19:55" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(30) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [11]=> object(WP_Post)#1710 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(378) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "4" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2021-03-20 08:26:39" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-03-20 08:26:39" ["post_content"]=> string(10468) "One of the oldest, and most powerful, techniques of immersion is ritual. A ritual is generally understood as a sequence of acts, performed deliberately, and mindfully, in a specific order, often in a sequestered place. While often associated with religion or tradition, individual and secular rituals can be no less potent of effective. For the purposes of immersion one of the most important aspects of ritual to consider is the power of ritual to sequester the person or people performing it from everyday life, and everyday time, often by inducing a distinct headspace. Though traditional ritualistic frameworks are in decline, ritual still retains a fundamental significance in popular culture most notably in superhero movies. This article will take a brief look at the ways in which ritual is integral to the superhero genre, specifically the ways in which it gives its protagonists a transcendent quality which allows them to become superheroes. It will also try and outline a few ways in which an understanding of the ways in which the superhero genre, specifically Christopher Nolan’s Batman, can help the D&D homebrewer, and their players, in relation to characters with specific codes.  It is a testament to the enduring power of ritual that superheroes hold such a strong grip on the popular imagination. When Bruce Wayne puts on the batsuit he becomes more than human, he becomes Batman. The acts and sensations Bruce Wayne experiences while putting on the suit, from the descent into the Batcave, to the distinct tactility of the material, all help reinforce a change in headspace, and in identity, allowing the identity of Bruce Wayne to recede and the identity of Batman to take over. While Bruce Wayne will always be the billionaire playboy son of Thomas Wayne, whose parents were brutally murdered in front of him by a mugger, Batman has no past or history, save the record of his exploits kept by the papers and his place in the imagination of Gotham’s citizens and criminals. His identity is a restricted one, serving a specific role or function, with a specific set of responsibilities, bound by a code. The vow a classic superhero like Batman takes is not unlike the vow of a priest or monk. The suit does not make him Batman, any more than a habit makes a monk, rather the suit reinforces by pledges and promises which make him Batman by reminding him of his obligation to live his life by them every time he wears it. By embodying those values in his actions, he becomes more than a man to the people of Gotham. He is a symbol of justice to the people victimised by crime and corruption, and a vengeful angel of judgment to the criminal and corrupt he punishes. His superhumanity is not primarily derived from his abilities, but in the eternal quality these abilities allow him to cultivate in his image. A superhero, like a saint, is someone with the strength to become a living icon, a changeable and fallible person, who is able to project the quality of an eternal, almost archetypal symbol.  It is Batman’s consistency in his actions which makes his image so powerful and potent, so that the very sight of the Batsuit or Batsignal is immediately emblematic of justice. Batman is as much a product of rituals as a saint or ascetic is. By combining consistency of action and fidelity to a moral code with a consistent image, Batman use of ritual enables him to facilitate not only a shift in headspace from Bruce Wayne to Batman, but also to fix the image of Batman into an unchanging icon. What is remarkable about the Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy is that rather than simply present a hagiography in which a superhuman person is able to attain superhumanity or sanctity, it often focusses instead on the imperfect and human struggles of the person beneath the mask to maintain the superhuman icon in the wake of a series of tests and a series of failings. Ritual in the Batman films and comics is ultimately a way in which the heroic persona can become an icon of heroism. It is the story of a man’s attempt to unmoor themselves from everyday life, from a past, and future and embody and inhabit an eternal, almost archetypal image, and the human struggles which maintain this image. It is the drama of a struggle for ritual consistency. The Dark Knight pushes the tension of the imperfect man struggling to maintain a perfect image to the point where fidelity to the icon of Batman necessitates its destruction. Throughout the film The Joker tests the limits of Batman’s moral code, trying to provoke him into breaking his most important rule, that he must never kill anyone. By the end of the film, Batman is unable to save Commissioner Gordon’s son without killing Harvey Dent. He becomes a scapegoat for Dent’s crimes, taking on his sins, and  by extension the sins of the law, in order to purify its image by maintaining the purity of the image of Harvey Dent. This is ritually enacted through the destruction of the police Bat-signal, severing the ties between Batman and the law, which in Batman’s eyes was the source of his legitimacy. For Batman Harvey Dent is a much purer icon of justice since the instrument through which Dent dispensed justice was the law, while Batman remained outside of it, serving as an exemplar of an ideal of the law which transcended the reality of the justice system. By adopting the image of a villain Batman achieved an imageless heroism, one which was not recognised, could serve as no example, but one which become the force that sustained the image of the laws purity, the way in which the law started to approach an ideal of justice in the form of Harvey Dent. Batman’s failure to maintain the image of heroism he projected undoubtably stemmed from his failure to prevent to corruption of Harvey Dent, and to maintain the vows that imbibed his image with an eternal and superhuman quality. But in many ways it was these failings which allowed him to become a hero whose heroism transcended the image of heroism.  The Dark Knight not only explores the limits of the iconography of superheroes but also poses the question of whether a superheroes obligation to maintain an image of heroism limits their fidelity to heroic ideals. It questions the usefulness in the rituals necessary to maintain the superhuman quality of a superhero’s identity in achieving the zeniths of heroism. One could argue that its central point, in relation to ritual, is that the most powerful quality of an icon is the significance it lends to iconoclasm. It is not simply the destruction of any old image, but an image which has attained the quality of an eternal archetype. The destruction of the Bat Signal is not an act of violence against the ideal it embodies but an act of fidelity to it, akin to the destruction of images of God in fidelity to the transcendent quality of God. So what can a D&D homebrewer learn from the ways ritual is employed in the superhero genre? The rituals behind the iconography of superheroes contain principles which can be applied to any conscious act of self-fashioning to elevate a adventurer, a character, a hero or villain, above the quotidian world, A paladin or knight is more than one who abides by a code, they are cultivators of an image or icon which outlasts them. The drama of the struggle of fallible beings to create an image so perfectly faithful to an idea it is imbibed with that idea’s timelessness brings forth a new dimension to the roleplaying of that character, in which actions are not only good or evil but iconogenic or iconoclastic. The exploration of the tension between the maintenance of an icon and the fidelity to the ideal embodied and transmitted by that icon, allow the unfurling of a compelling and multifaceted character, whose personal drama is closely intertwined with their code and image, to the point where the heights of their ideal may necessitate a painful self-annihilation of the icon they have cultivated.  The ritual of maintaining this image and of making its destruction meaningful is constructed not through acts of good or evil themselves but the rituals which maintain the separation between the heroic persona and the flawed hero beneath it. Ritual is the bridge between worlds that allows passage from the quotidian to the sacred and the profane, the finite to the eternal, the historical to the ahistorical, the person to the persona. It is not a process which merely governs solemn ceremonies but is integral to the most inner dynamics of characters, creating a space through which they can give your world a universal significance through the strength of their personas. It is a form of self-ordering which allows the realisation and communication of untapped potentialities. Bruce Wayne always had the potential to become Batman, and the story of the rituals through which he created and maintains the Batman persona is the story of the superhumanity he was able to draw out of his humanity. The superhero is remarkable in that the that their solution to their existence takes on the quality of a universal solution, in the way that the solutions of the saints to existence were held up as examples in hagiographies. Ritual governs the retention or destruction of the hagiographic quality of a persona. It elevates a persona to an exemplar introducing a necessary distinction between one who adopts personas for quotidian ends, such as a thief or a swindler, and one whose persona always transcends their individual situation.   " ["post_title"]=> string(45) "Rituals of Heroism: The Iconography of Heroes" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(44) "rituals-of-heroism-the-iconography-of-heroes" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2021-03-21 10:17:41" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-03-21 10:17:41" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(30) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [12]=> object(WP_Post)#1776 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(373) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2021-03-19 09:15:31" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-03-19 09:15:31" ["post_content"]=> string(6366) "In one way or another, most DMs try to create immersive and ambient experiences for their players. The use of lighting, props, miniatures and various other physical cues completely transforms the experience of role playing from a two dimensional pen and paper exercise to a multi sensory journey of the imagination. However, one key ingredient in the development of the game is the use of music, and this article will explore a few ways in which the game experience can be enhanced through sound. 

Heroic Themes

Your players think of themselves as heroes, and they definitely think of their characters as heroes (even if they are frequently cowardly and incompetent). Heroes in movies have themes, it’s how the audience quickly learns their significance, importance and centrality to the story. Thor has a theme, Aragorn has a theme, Batman has a theme, sidekicks and also-rans don’t. Without overly inflating the ego of the players (and this can be a difficult tightrope to walk sometimes), give them the opportunity to either devise their own theme or motif (the catchy bit in every score that sounds similar throughout the movie), or borrow one from a much beloved film. Watch them eagerly reach for the play button on Spotify on their phones as their character is about to do something awesome (you might want to introduce extra penalties if they screw up while playing the Avengers theme). Ration this feature of the game, or it will quickly become annoying or dull; allow one hero theme per player per adventure. 

Background Ambience

Background ambient music is a simple way of quickly building atmosphere and when necessary, suspense. There are countless free options on Spotify and other streaming services, meaning that you can have hours of scene developing music in the background. Be careful to have periods of gameplay without music in order to enhance its dramatic potency when you use it again (just as in the movies, there are periods when music is not used). Vary the ambient tunes to fit with the context as you switch from location to location, and sometimes you might want to replace ambient music with something more dramatic to work with the mood of a particular encounter. 


Who says you have to listen to the Lord of the Rings soundtrack during a battle? Why not Pretty Vacant by the Sex Pistols or Sabotage by the Beastie Boys? Sure, it might not be what the people of your D&D world might recognise, but it sends a message to the players about the emotional intensity of the moment they are in and the purpose of that particular encounter or scene. Here are ten modern suggestions for your battle scenes: Lithium - Nirvana (or even the Polyphonic Spree cover) Rock ‘n Roll - Led Zepplin Can’t Stand Me Now - The Libertines Pretty Vacant - The Sex Pistols Caught By The Fuzz - Supergrass Sabotage - The Beastie Boys Sleep Now In The Fire - Rage Against The Machine Scooby Snacks - Fun Lovin’ Criminals The Hardest Button to Button - The White Stripes Be In - The Dandy Warhols

Movie Score

Just steal an entire movie score and play particular tracks at moments that correspond with the movie. Obviously you want something like Lord of the Rings and not When Harry Met Sally, but, if you want to take your gameplay to new and interesting places, why not use the soundtrack to Rob Reiner and Nora Ephron’s 1989 chalk and cheese romance? Actually, really don’t do that, it’s a totally awful idea and will ruin not only every D&D game you ever play and also When Harry Met Sally, as your Half Orc Barbarian will inevitably end up doing the diner fake orgasm scene. I’m copywriting the word orcgasm now, don’t @me.

Title theme

What would Star Wars be without its title? Still great (as long as you pretend there are now and were only ever three films), but significantly diminished. Anyone who plays the Star Wars FFG game without starting each game session with the theme tune is robbing themselves and their players. Why not devise a theme of your own? If you’re musical, great, if not, pester or even better pay someone to help create it for you. All players see the game they play in their heads as an amazing movie so help them to enjoy it more deeply by creating that movie theme they will never forget (again go for dramatic, epic and powerful, not quirky, romcom and offbeat).   Final thought. As I have been writing this, it occurs to me that there might be a niche in the market for a quirky offbeat rom-com based role play game where a team of 20 somethings have to battle evil employers, cold hearted exes and general social embarrassment over a period of years in order to have meaningful relationships and satisfying employment. If anyone wants to take the baton and run with this idea, let me know. " ["post_title"]=> string(61) "The Top Five uses of music to bring your D&D campaign to life" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(5) "373-2" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2021-03-19 09:17:48" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-03-19 09:17:48" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(30) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [13]=> object(WP_Post)#1777 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(367) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2021-03-18 09:00:54" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-03-18 09:00:54" ["post_content"]=> string(5103) "Gol, a vast ruined city, where fragments of civilisation have somehow managed to cling to the edges of a once mighty metropolis, is a place that rarely attracts newcomers. Those that ride into town or cross the Greater Arc Sea to get there are often cautious about their business and are shrouded in secrets. Elam Tor is a classic case in point. Nobody can quite pinpoint the day that she arrived, rather most Golans recognise that one day, she was simply among them and they knew well enough not to ask too many questions. Elam is a tall, strikingly beautiful woman with flowing golden hair and the golden eyes of a Basale Chorale, which she often keeps hidden behind crimson Wardenhalese eyeglasses. Rumours of her ‘otherness’ have passed through the community, but once it was understood by most Golans that she was no threat to them and had not come to loot the ruins, she was gradually accepted by the community.    The first Chorale were created centuries earlier in the years immediately after the Sundering, when the magical energy that flowed back into the world began to mutate humans. The descendents of these first early mutants fled to the periphery of civilisation to hide from a fearful and unforgiving world, and gradually four varieties of mutant emerged, the Basale being those who could read the thoughts of others and understand events from the past of the person whose mind they were temporarily inhabiting. The hair of each Basale changes and shifts based on the emotional state of the mutant, Elam’s golden hair which matches her eyes remains that colour because of her determination not to hide exactly who and what she is.   Elam came from a Chorale collective in the Arcish Wastes called Zonas. All collectives have a hive mind, where Chorale can hear one another’s thoughts when they are close, but in the case of Zonas, the hive became corrupted by one of its founder members. An ancient Chorale name Nimahwin, who claimed to have witnessed the Sundering first hand and to have been one of the first generation of mutants believed that it was possible to achieve immortality within the hive mind itself. When Nimahwin died, she somehow managed to project her consciousness into the hive and into the minds of the entire collective, existing as a powerful controlling voice. Elam at first attempted to do the bidding of Nimahwin, partly from loyalty, partly from fear, but gradually the voice of the ancient one became darker and eventually almost unrecognisable as it snarled, hissed and threatened. The collective members had to escape from one another until gradually Nimahwin’s voice dimmed, losing much of its power; years later, Elam still shudders when she thinks that she hears a stray, familiar whisper.   Elam joined the Harbingers, a group of bounty hunters and protectors of the ancient artifacts of Gol, her thoughts telling her that another Chorale was hidden amongst their number. So far this mystery Chorale has not revealed themselves to her, and a force greater than simply the psychic abilities of mutant-kind seems to be working to keep them hidden. Some months ago, while searching through the ruins of the first Hipostic temple in Gol, home to one of the earliest orders of the Hipostic Knights, Elam found a small stone puzzle box, which she was drawn to instantly. Hour after hour when her duties ended, she studied the intricate patterns carved into the stone, with a growing sense that solving the puzzle of the box would draw her deeper into mysteries within her that she had seldom even acknowledged. Elam now feels frustrated, exhausted and desperate for the puzzle to end, and days ago she walked to the Golan harbour to throw the accursed box into the waves.    “Wait,” whispered a familiar voice, deep within her mind, barely audible but unmistakable, “...let’s solve it together Elam, let’s solve the riddle.”   Elam hesitated momentarily, considering her choices, and then whispered back.   “Very well…”   Adventure Hook   The PCs are sent to Gol by a collector of artifacts from Taeor and are sent to search for a particular carved puzzle box that is rumoured to give those that solve its riddles the power to see beyond the mundane world and see hidden realities. The PCs learn that Elam Tor has been seen with such a box, but has now vanished into the depths of the city’s ruins." ["post_title"]=> string(27) "Elam Tor, Chorale Harbinger" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(26) "elam-tor-chorale-harbinger" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2021-03-17 20:22:20" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-03-17 20:22:20" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(29) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [14]=> object(WP_Post)#1778 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(357) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2021-03-15 09:00:18" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-03-15 09:00:18" ["post_content"]=> string(9414) "Gol is the most mysterious of the cities of the Arclands, it is certainly the oldest and now stands in ruins following a devastating tsunami three centuries ago. The over half the city is either partially or fully submerged and a thin crescent of the once vibrant metropolis now remains above the waterline. For Golans, is a battle for survival and a struggle against the ever present memories of the past, and a grief for those who were lost. Gol was once a great repository of arcane knowledge and mysterious objects, collected by those with hidden knowledge from across the Five Dimensions. It now attracts looters determined to find artefacts to sell in the secret markets of Taeor and Veska.   
  1. A coral carving of the Old Man
  All Golans live in fear and awe of the power of the sea god The Old Man. Aruhvians who believe only in the now dead god The Keeper have no way of explaining the existence of the Old Man, and tend to deny his existence and denounce such trinkets as heresy. The small carving, which can be hung on a necklace shows the Old Man with his arms outstretched. When  swimming with this item, the water seems to flow more quickly around the swimmer, parting to let them pass, as if obeying the trinket. Some who have worn similar trinkets have drowned in even the most placid of waters (Golans are excellent swimmers), and many fear that the Old Man just as quickly takes the lives of those who seek to venerate him.  
  1. Leaping fish daggers
  Found washed up on a beach is a pair of daggers in a dual sheath, designed to be strapped to the thigh. They are shaped to look like leaping fish and are used by Golan free divers to cut through nets, old ropes and to deal with the many threats that lurk in the sunken ruins. Both blades are long and sharp, despite being in sea water for lengthy periods of time and on their blades the bear the name of their creator Haphyrus of Nevagar (a small port north of Gol where many of the survivors of the devastated city rebuilt their community).  
  1. Dythecker’s Signet Ring
  Molurgin Dythecker was one of the most feared Golan Corsairs of his generation, meeting his end some thirty years ago when he was tricked and betrayed by a mysterious Taeorian collector of artefacts. Dythecker wore a distinctive bronze signet ring that was partly corroded and green; in the centre of the ring was an engraving of a man wearing a mask, with two small red stones for eyes. Dythecker was convinced that the ring brought him luck, but surviving members of his crew beg to differ. Many, now old timers on small fishing boats believe that his luck changed for the worst the day he found the ring. None of Dythecker’s friends were able to tell him the truth, for fear of his anger.   
  1. Seaborn’s Axe
  The mighty Half Firg Seleyan Seaborn is master of what remains of Gol’s harbour. The various clans of Golans who have taken control of the ruins pay the gigantic warrior a stipend to patrol the waterfront and keep watch for looters. He carries with him a huge double headed axe called Slighawalf (Sea Wolf). Seaborn was once one of the Axe Guards of Hothis, an elite cadre of warriors from the southern shores of the Greater Arc Sea and he is an expert in axe combat. The weapon is carved with Seaborn’s Firg ancestry on one side and his human ancestry on the other, and he anxiously etches new family connections on to the axe shaft when he hears about them. For him, the two heads of the axe represent the two sides of his identity, Firg and human.  
  1. Nazurian Mirror
  A Nazurian Mirror is a powerful but unpredictable device, named after the Grace Y’Nazuri, who it is believed created the mirrors. They were given to Vannic human beings several millennia ago, so that they might be able to communicate with their Celestial allies. Almost all the Nazurian Mirrors cracked during the Sundering and became corrupted, imperfect means of seeing, scrying and communicating with the Celestial Realm. They  became gateways for manipulative creatures from Damnation to speak to unwary mortals, sometimes they would show the past and other times they would show the future. A Nazurian Mirror if found by PCs might turn out to be a helpful scrying tool, but it might also be dangerous and unreliable in the hands of the inexperienced.   
  1. Golan fishing spear
  A trayga is a long, barbed Golan fishing spear that has been used along the Golan coast for centuries, it is light and cuts through the water to its prey. Many Golans used the trayga as a means of protecting themselves against larger creatures that crawl or swim through the ruins of the ancient, devastated city. The trayga that your players might find has a traditional curved shaft, which transforms the spear from a hunter’s weapon into a powerful melee armament. The tribal colours of a well known community of warrior folk, the Gol-Atrai are wrapped round the spearhead; they are famous for their lack of a sense of humour when it comes to seeing other people with their possessions.   
  1. Map of pre Sundering Gol
  One of the great cartographers of the Arclands, Lendus Skaynem, who learned his trade from the Carathene Monks, made three famous maps of Gol before the Sundering. These maps were so accurate, they were considered by many to be works of art. The Skaynem Library in Arc keeps all known Skaynem maps (of which there are several hundred), but some remain missing. If the PCs find the missing Skaynem map of Gol, they will be able to see what the world the Golans inhabited was like on the eve of the Sundering. A Skaynem map is also very useful in helping to navigate the ruins of the city, as it shows where the subterranean (now flooded) levels of Gol are and the tunnels and sewers that connect them. The map is a priceless collector’s item and sensible PCs might decide to make a copy and keep the original somewhere safe when they go exploring.   
  1. Dokhin net
  Before the Sundering, Golans had never encountered Dokhins before, but these hideous creatures that cruise through the deep waters of the Golan coastline have devastated countless fishing crews and merchant vessels. A full grown Dokhin is about eight feel long and has a round, oval grey body that it dotted with eyes at the front and a crescent shaped mouth. Behind are its barbed tentacles, which it bunches together to form a rudimentary tail. Dokhin nets are thick, heavy rope latices covered in sharp steel barbs, designed to protect the harbour and keep the foul creatures out.  
  1. Nathcarian clockwork sparrow 
  The Nathcarians were all killed in the wave that devastated Gol, but their craft was famed across the continent of Aestis. They were a secretive school of crafters who created the most exquisite jewellery, clocks and compasses. They also created small takade or clockwork animals that were extraordinarily lifelike. The Nathcarian sparrow is a tiny golden bird that once had two rubies for eyes, but one is now missing. If it is wound up with a key, it will hop around, flutter and fly, trill and chatter with whoever has activated it.  
  1. Umagan sea raiders helmet
  If the PCs find a helm of a Umagan, it is an ill omen indeed. The Umagan are fearsome sea raiders who devastate communities across the Greater Arc Sea, but whose origins are not well known. Even the Carathene Monks, who are known about most things, have little to say about the Umagans. The helmet is made of iron and has a T shaped space for the raider to see through and is studded with spikes. On the back on the helmet are hundreds of small scratches, each indicating a life taken." ["post_title"]=> string(40) "Ten items you might find in a Golan ruin" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(40) "ten-items-you-might-find-in-a-golan-ruin" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2021-03-14 10:36:05" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-03-14 10:36:05" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(29) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [15]=> object(WP_Post)#1779 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(351) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "4" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2021-03-13 09:40:53" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-03-13 09:40:53" ["post_content"]=> string(16796) "As a party of players moves through a homebrew setting, levelling up, improving their gear, discovering new items, and uncovering arcane knowledge, it usually follows that they will start to feel at home in the world, experiencing a tangible sense of progression. The sense of mastery a party develops as they journey through a world can very easily slip into boredom as the increasingly familiar world presents fewer and fewer challenges for a party increasingly prepared to deal with any eventuality. DMs with an understanding of different forms of horror are equipped with an extensive arsenal which allows them to continually defamiliarize their world, unsettling and problematising even an experienced party’s sense of progression.  In this post we will explore Cosmic horror as developed by H.P. Lovecraft, articulating some of the main principles that underpin it, as well as exploring some of the ways that it challenges homebrewers to think differently about progression in their D&D campaigns. Cosmicism Cosmicism, or cosmic horror is a form of philosophical horror that stresses the utter insignificance of humanity in the face of an indifferent and incomprehensible universe, originating from the works of H.P. Lovecraft, the most influential and accomplished horror writer of the twentieth century. Lovecraft’s protagonists are often pioneers in the sciences or explorers, pushing the frontiers of human knowledge and experience, humanists with faith in the inevitability of human progress and the singular importance of human beings in the cosmos. His stories stress the sensory and intellectual limitations of human beings by confronting the protagonists with glimpses of realities beyond the comprehension of their limited sensory and intellectual faculties, whose incomprehensibility shatters the illusions that enable them to function in the world and retain their sanity. In many ways the philosophical kernel of cosmic horror is encapsulated by the aphorism: No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality’. Human beings make the world inhabitable through the maintenance of illusions which protect us from the implications that arise from exposure to an excess of reality, reducing an immeasurably vast universe to human proportions. By confronting his protagonists with realities, creatures, and places inaccessible to the human senses and intellect, Lovecraft undermines a sense of belonging in the world by outlining how our humanity obstructs our ability to comprehend the world around us. This is most apparent in ‘Whisper in the Darkness’ where the knowledge and experiences of the subjects of the radical alien surgeries of the Mi-Go are clearly contingent on extensive bodily modifications which completely strip them of their humanity:
‘Do you realise what it means when I say I have been on thirty-seven different celestial bodies – planets, dark stars, and less definable objects -including eight outside our galaxy and two outside the curved cosmos of space and time? All this has not harmed me in the least. My brain has been removed from my body by frissions so adroit that it would be crude to call the operation surgery’. 
The radical alterity of the surgical subject’s experiences is made possible only through a substantial modification of his form. By stressing the necessity of these modifications to the acquisition of knowledge and experience beyond the sphere of human awareness and comprehension, Lovecraft postulates that the desire to know oneself and one’s world is at once integral to and incompatible with the preservation of our humanity. It is the surgical subject’s desire for knowledge which drives him to relinquish his humanity, the most terrifying aspect of which is that whatever emerges from this self-annihilation insists that ‘All this has not harmed me.’ The subject of the Mi-Go surgeries challenges our notions of progression as a perfection of human potential, that inevitably allows us to master the world and ourselves, by embodying a grotesque and monstrous vision of inhuman progression. Humanity for Lovecraft does not encompass to the full scope of human potentialities, many of which are not recognisably human,  but rather refers to a fragile self-image through which we orientate ourselves in the world, not a means to self-knowledge, but a protection from it. Cosmic horror is the terror of losing this self-image irrevocably, the dread of passing into a world we are unequipped to navigate and unable to escape, one from which every atom of our being flees in terror because all attempts to comprehend it necessitates the destruction of the faculties that try to process it. To the victim of cosmic horror self-knowledge is an affliction that precipitates a radical othering of the self, whereby one becomes irrevocably alien to oneself and the world, a human beyond humanity.  Consequently, Lovecraft’s cosmic horror offers DM’s a radically different conception of progression and the fulfilment of potential through its exploration of the ways in which the acquisition of cosmic knowledge, and thus to some degree, self-knowledge, renders the self as radically other and alien, tearing away the ground one stands on rather than consolidating it. In many campaigns the acquisition of arcane or forbidden knowledge has no disruptive effect on the player’s sense of self or the way in which they orientate themselves in the world, its acquisition increases the players ability to master the world and walk fearlessly into otherwise challenging encounters, culminating in god-like level 20 ubermenschen who have reached the apotheosis of their potential. The world becomes familiar and easily navigable. At first glance, incorporating a Lovecraftian model of progression into a homebrew setting appears to run contrary to the structural principles of a D&D campaign. The players are the centre of the world, the action revolves around their decisions, the places, encounters and monsters exist for them to face. In a great cosmic horror homebrew the party is not the centre of the world but the prism through which a hostile, indifferent and increasingly incomprehensible world is experienced by the players. Although there is a sense of progression in the party’s comprehension of this world, it is a defamiliarizing progression which confuses, frightens, and disorients the party more than it empowers them.  One way this can be achieved is by making the use and acquisition of arcane knowledge consequential. The chants of the cultists in ‘The Call of Cthulhu’ and even the names of The Great Old Ones are not accurate transcriptions of reality, rather they are crude approximations adapted to human faculties. Even Lovecraft’s famous grimoire, The Necronomicon, is described to have ‘mercifully cloaked’ the nuclear void from which the universe stems under the name Azathoth. Arcane knowledge in Lovecraft’s mythos allows a limited degree of access to incomprehensible realties, but it is not a transcription of reality, only an approximation comprehensible for human faculties. Thus, the degree to which it is an accurate reflection of reality is always up for debate. Viewed as an approximation of inhuman knowledge, rendered in a form accessible to humans, arcane knowledge distorts and disturbs the humanity of its possessor by drawing them as close as possible to realities beyond the limits of human comprehension. The arcane viewed as the science of taking the human beyond humanity is a knowing that is simultaneously an othering, one which continually disorients its user by expanding their comprehension to its limit, and by extending the limits through the modifying their faculties, as radically illustrated by the surgeries conducted by the Mi-Go. However much like the surgical subjects, the player who continually extends their faculties, progressing in their understanding and comprehension through the overcoming of human limitations, would by traversing far beyond recognisably human capabilities, could slowly metastasise into an object of horror and incomprehension to the rest of their party, alienating them from other players and negatively impacting their sanity. Such a radical transformation in awareness and insight would underscore the poverty of language. Everyday quotidian language, and the concepts and ideas produced and comprehended by human beings would become increasingly inadequate to describe and articulate the experiences and insights which would come from a radically altered perception of reality which transcended human limitations. A player may gain important insight into reality but will struggle to communicate it to those around them, particularly those with radically different sensory faculties and modes of expression.  Players often rely on a DM to flesh out a world, conjuring up and evocative picture which allows them to immerse themselves in the world, providing a foundation for their own roleplaying, impacting their responses to the encounters they face. This makes crafting encounters with the kind of entities that would induce a state of cosmic horror particularly challenging. As Graham Harman has pointed out, Lovecraft is a writer of gaps ‘between appearances and things-in-themselves’, describing creatures and entities in such a ways as to emphasise the gulf between the description and the reality of the thing described. In few stories is this more apparent than in ‘Through The Gates of The Silver Key’ than the transformation undergone by Randolf Carter after he passes through The Ultimate Gate: 
‘It was as though his body had been suddenly transformed into one of those many-limbed and many-headed effigies sculptured in Indian temples; and he contemplated the aggregation in a bewildered attempt to discern which was the original and which the additions – if indeed (supremely monstrous thought!) there were any original as distinguished from other embodiments.’ 
This passage brilliantly illustrated how to evoke an incomprehensible being or experience through a series of approximations that hint at the reality underpinning it, but can never be reduced to it. It starts off with a clear signifier ‘his body’, with a clear referent, which through the proceeding lines, is dismantled, until it is expressible only in approximations, many of which are worlds apart from the original image. The most notable of these approximations, ‘the many-headed effigies sculptured in Indian temples’ presents a clear enough image, but is complicated when the resultant entity is referred to as an ‘aggregation’, a term which implies a cluster of disparate objects rather than a singular body or even a body at all, disrupting the clarity of the mental images most readily associated with ‘many headed effigies’ such as statues of the Hindu god Shiva, who would not be described as an aggregate, given the sense of continuity between the many heads and limbs as well as their origin in a single source. Lovecraft does not even say that Carter underwent a transformation, rather a transformation is an approximation of his experience, he may have always existed in that form but is only now able to perceive it. By the end of the passage Carter, let alone the reader, cannot discern between his original body and the additions, even doubting that there was an original body in the first place. The signifier ‘his body’ is gradually stripped of a clear referent through a detailed unpacking of what it actually refers to. By the end it is clear that it is no longer an appropriate signifier and that indeed the referent is beyond the capacity of any signifier to encapsulate. Lovecraft gives his readers an image, only to complicate it in ways which demonstrate its inadequacy, simulating the ways in which the sensory and intellectual faculties of Lovecraft’s protagonists attempt to unpack and make sense of what they are seeing and experiencing. His descriptions stage the breakdown of language as it attempts to express the inexpressible.  Incorporating Lovecraftian descriptions of language opens up a whole new range of expressive and imaginative possibilities to a DM, particularly involving shifts in perception and apparent transformations, as illustrated in ‘Through The Gates of The Silver Key’, both in terms of creating compelling descriptions of players undergoing transformations, whether they be psychological, physiological or phenomenological, and of creating monsters which are so horrifying that attempts to describe them expose the limits of language itself. In particular, a Lovecraftian use of language and phraseology is suited emphasising the estrangement of characters whose perceives reality on a plane so far removed from that of their party that they find it increasingly difficult to communicate that reality to them. It is this last application that can open up the possibility for textured and multi-faceted areas and encounters. By accommodating for a plurality of different phenomenological faculties the same could be textured with different realities like a many layered palimpsest, with different layers of the same space unlocked in different ways to different members of the parties depending on the state of their perception and the senses developed, defamiliarizing once familiar territory the players were led to believed they had comprehended and mastered. Texturing and layering areas like palimpsests puts defamiliarization and disorientation at the heart of progression, ensuring that there is no aspect of the world the party has truly mastered, no place where they are fully at home, as the exploration of new potentialities brings out and realises latent possibilities of the world, enrichening and deepening it as players progress rather than making it increasingly navigable and quotidian. At level one a player may perceive that they are in a corridor, by level twenty what they thought was a corridor has been revealed to be a small passage in a cyclopean labyrinth, perhaps the player like Carter, does not know whether his level one self was his original form or one aggregate of many, for to be enlightened in a world subject to cosmic horror is to be disorientated.  For the sake of brevity only a small portion of the conceptual underpinnings of cosmic horror has been explored in this article. Though it is undoubtably one of the most challenging forms of horror to successfully integrate into a homebrew it is also one of the most rewarding and most innovative, requiring perhaps more work than a typical campaign. Even if you are not a horror fan, the ways in which cosmic horror subverts, undermines and problematises more standard conceptions of progression is a source of endless inspiration for any D&D setting and homebrew, particularly the ways in which it puts defamiliarization and disorientation at the centre of progression and challenges the player’s sense of mastery as they make their way through the world, while still providing players with a sense of accomplishment and discovery.                                                      " ["post_title"]=> string(30) "Role Playing and Cosmic Horror" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(30) "role-playing-and-cosmic-horror" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2021-03-15 20:33:55" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-03-15 20:33:55" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(29) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [16]=> object(WP_Post)#1780 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(348) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "4" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2021-03-12 09:00:20" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-03-12 09:00:20" ["post_content"]=> string(13764) "Homebrewers are world-builders. Even if that world is the length, and duration of a one shot, it is still a world. But not all homebrew worlds have the power to eliminate the world around them, so that players are able to lose themselves in it entirely, to step out of the limited, quotidian world of routines and responsibilities, into one pregnant with possibilities and potentialities. To homebrew successfully is to retain the capacity to flee from the world, and to aid others in escaping its constraints. In this sense it has much in common with cinema. Cinema offers an escape, a way out of everyday life, but the flight  from the mundane world is not an escape from reality but an intensification of it. Here are five cinematic worlds, each with their own unique vision which one can lose oneself in time and time again. The purpose of this article is not so much to interpret them, as to introduce them, not only as films but as a ways of seeing, experiencing, transporting and transfixing. I recommend them unreservedly not only as experiences but as inspirations for everything a world can be.    The Hourglass Sanatorium   A film adaptation of the short stories of Bruno Schultz, Wojciech Has’ The Hourglass Sanatorium is a surreal phantasmagoria, which captures the logic and atmosphere of dreams perfectly. Informed of the death of his father Jacob, the protagonist Joseph enters a strange and dilapidated sanatorium where he is informed that his father’s death has not yet penetrated its walls as time operates differently within. Joseph’s journey through the rooms of the sanatorium follows an internal dream logic, melding fantasy, memory, past and premonition, in a shifting stream of consciousness, permeated by a feeling of carnival, claustrophobia, decay and foreboding, that enchants and overloads the senses.  Like the short stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer set in Frampol, the film’s excess of life seems to serve as a requiem for the destruction of Poland’s Jewish communities during the Second World War. To try and pin down the film is a pointless exercise, as liable to reductivism as the Freudian interpretation of dreams. To impose or try to force a linear narrative out of it will only hinder one’s enjoyment of the film, but for those who go along with it, throwing themselves into its dream logic, and allowing themselves to be carried away by the experience, rather than worrying about understanding its twists and turns, will be rewarded with a sense of infinite depth. It is a film that you could watch one thousand times over and still find something new in it, making it the touchstone for the flawless replication of dream logic.   Hard to be a God  The final film of Russian director Aleksei German, Hard to be a God is a loose adaptation of Arkady and Boris Strugatsky’s sci fi novel of the same name, that plunges the viewer into the mud, blood, snot, and shit of the most vivid and hopeless Medieval setting ever captured on film. Earth is a communist utopia, that has sent scientists to an unnamed planet stuck in the dark ages to slowly eek it towards progress. The film follows Don Rumata, a scientist disguised as a nobleman and demigod, through the streets of the capital city of Arkanar. Rumata fears that Arkanar is descending into fascism, as the film’s antagonist Don Reba, oversees a purge of all intellectuals, but is restrained from bringing to bear the full extent of his power, by constraints of his role as a scientist and observer.  The camera pans seamlessly through cluttered landscapes, populated by grotesque figures, peering into the camera curiously, or jostling it, each shot capturing a vista of ignorance, cruelty, barbarity, and filth, giving the viewer the sense that they are wading through one of Hieronymus Bosch’s hellscapes. German constructs a world which is too immersive and immediate for comfort, an outright assault on the senses that distorts the viewer’s perception of time and space, creating an overwhelming sense of claustrophobia and disorientation. Hard to be a God is one of the few films which challenges our notion of what sci fi should look, feel, and smell like. Aside from the opening voiceover, only a few anachronisms such as the saxophone Rumata plays at the beginning of the film, remind the viewer that they are watching a work of science fiction. These imperceptible hints of the film’s futuristic setting are complimented by the films phenomenological approach to its subject. Instead of explaining the action, or organising it into a narrative, the viewer is plunged in the chaos of an alien world spiralling out of control, forcing the viewer to come to terms with the strangeness of the world, and removing the familiar structures and modes of perception which allow viewers to feel at home in the world of a film. German’s sci fi is borne out of the radical alterity of the modes of perception he forces the viewer to inhabit. To do so is uncomfortable in the extreme, but ultimately worth persevering through. You’ll never look at sci fi the same way again.   On the Silver Globe Andrzej Zulawaski’s masterpiece On the Silver Globe is, along with Sergei Eisenstein’s Bezhin Meadow, one of the great tragedies of cinematic history. Adapted from the first novel of Jerzy Zulawski’s Lunar Trilogy, On the Silver Globe is a proto found footage film, predating Cannibal Holocaust by several years, concerning a group of astronauts who settle by an ocean on the moon, and give birth to a tribal society. Their children age rapidly, and several generations pass in their lifetime. The astronauts are deified, with the female astronaut becoming the Mother Goddess and the last surviving astronaut the Old Man. The film has an primordial feel to it, and traces the evolution of not only the society, culture, and religion of their children, but the origin and development of the archetypes that define their way of life, and view of their world. No film comes closer to depicting the process whereby history passes into mythology. The landscape of the film, set for the most part facing a limitless ocean stretching into eternity, gives no sense of place or time, the passage of which is experienced through the continual mythologisation of events, people, and places.               Unfortunately, the film was never finished. In 1977, with eighty percent of the film completed, Poland’s new cultural minister shut down the production, ordering its destruction. Thankfully, the existing reels of film were preserved by members of the cast and crew, and the film was finally released in 1988. Zulawski never attempted to finish the film and instead filled the gaps in the narrative with shots of contemporary Poland in which he summarised the missing sections. These are undoubtably the weakest sections, and often jar the viewer out of Zulawski’s primordial world to contemporary Poland. Perhaps this became his intention, but one is always wondering what the film could have been with that final 20%. In spite of all the difficulties that plagued On the Silver Globe, Zulawski’s film even, in its unfinished form, is one of the few sci fi films, outside of Kubrick’s 2001 to capture inordinate stretches of time in a condensed form. One could imagine the billions of years captured in Olaf Stapleton’s universal voyage Star Maker, fitting comfortably into On the Silver Globe. Its imperfections testify to its strength, as there are few films which could stand with the greatest of their genre in the wake of a comparable mutilation.    Stalker The second adaptation of a Strugatsky brothers novel (Roadside Picnic) on this list Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker follows the journey of two men through the Zone, a mysterious area, cordoned off by soldiers, where it is thought that the fundamental laws of the universe are violated by frequent anomalies. They are specifically guided to a room in the Zone which will grant the deepest desire of the person who enters it, by a stalker, one of the clandestine guides who smuggles people into the Zone. Tarkovsky is deliberately ambiguous with regards to the supernatural occurrences in the Zone, but clearly designates it as a sacred space, the film bursting into colour upon the characters’ entry into its confines. Much of the action takes the form of a philosophical dialogue between the three characters, guided through the landscape by the stalker’s attunement to the shifts and movements of the complicated system which comprises the Zone. There is a sense that it is the stalker’s love of the Zone which allows him to commune with it, for reason and understanding bring us no closer to comprehending it. The film is shot in long meditative takes, which linger on the characters and landscapes, filling each moment with a sense of heaviness. Indeed, cinema for Tarkovsky is the imprinting of time onto celluloid, not the servile time of seconds minutes and hours, mutilated by the logic of utility, but the contemplative time of icons. Tarkovsky draws viewers into the shots through highly textured images, each shot having a real sense of tactility and detail which not only captivates and entrances the viewer but heightens the emotional resonance of his characters’ inner worlds. Though many of the techniques used to convey the world of Stalker are purely cinematic, the creation of images one could drown in, speaks powerfully to creators of worlds. For the best worlds, whether they be cinematic, literary, or homebrewed, are those which force us to lose ourselves in their textures.   Alice The first feature film of the Czech surrealist director Jan Svankmajer, Alice is undoubtably the most faithful adaptation in spirit, of Lewis Carrol’s Alice stories. Set in the microcosmic world of a Soviet era playroom, brought alive by a child’s imagination, Alice captures, in some of the best stop motion animation incorporated into a feature film, the amoral logic of childhood exploration and experimentation. With virtually no dialogue, save for the titular protagonist’s refrains to the white rabbit, the film builds its world through textures, sounds, movement, tactility, and taste, stimulating many senses which are underdeveloped in our audio-visual culture. The use of real objects gives a sense of solidity to Alice’s games that helps convey and capture the vivid power of a child’s imagination, while the tactility and physicality of Svankmajer’s world helps convey a sense of curiosity, for what better way to discover a world than to touch and taste it. With so many flat CGI images percolating cinema, a film like Alice is more important than ever, precisely because it demonstrates the depths an object can reveal if attention is paid to its textures and tactility. The objects, animated by Alice’s imagination as much as Svankmajer’s stop motion help bring out Alice’s character, formative as it must be, in the process of its own discovery. Watching Alice however briefly, brings one back to childhood senses and powers, a sense of discovery and unfamiliarity, employing long dormant senses, with a mindful desire to explore and understand the world phenomenologically, without resort to abstraction. Of course, there is plenty to find if one is looking for interpretations, but these are secondary to the senses and ways of knowing the film, helps us to remember.   " ["post_title"]=> string(47) "Top Five Films to inspire your D&D homebrew" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(42) "top-five-films-to-inspire-your-dd-homebrew" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2021-03-15 20:52:50" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-03-15 20:52:50" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(29) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [17]=> object(WP_Post)#1781 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(345) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "4" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2021-03-11 09:00:51" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-03-11 09:00:51" ["post_content"]=> string(6446) "It was not until the second year following his initiation into the Skargoline that Ambrosius Valance ceased to feel human. Granted, monks ought not to feel like other men, for to draw near The Keeper was to withdraw from the world, or rather to only see what was pure in it, to burn away the refuse and grasp the heart of things. Life had little meaning to Valance before he joined the secret religious enforcers of Skaris, he had drifted from one calling to the next and had attracted only opprobrium and suspicion from the city's authorities; in Skaris, it does not do to be without purpose and direction. Great interrogators, like great prophets, are truth seekers, extracting pure statements from guttural screams. Ambrosius took no pleasure in the suffering he inflicted, though he would not have been charged with the work if a sense of craftsmanship and pride in his technical proficiency had not driven him to constantly question, refine and innovate. Pain fascinated him as much as it perplexed him. Although his skill in inflicting it was second to none, he intuited that no amount of mastery would allow him to understand it. Perhaps nothing is truly pure unless it takes on the quality of a mystery. Day in day out an encounter with him was less an encounter beyond thought, but the destruction of thought itself. It is a fallacy to suppose the torturer can attain any sense of intimacy with their victims through the emotions and sensations they draw out.  Ambrosius saw himself as not only a destroyer of thought, but a destroyer of trust. He took great pride in ensuring that if, by some miracle, one of his subjects was delivered from his clutches, that they would wish to saw off their legs rather than take a step on the ground, fearful that Hermia would swallow them whole and devour them. The most severe Skarisi ascetics could not approach, through all their mortifications, such a distrust of the world as he was able to cultivate in his experimental subjects, for they loved in the world the essence of The Keeper from which it emanates. For him nothing was pure until it attained the quality of mystery and the person with absolute distrust in The Keeper and the world would radiate such a terrible purity that they would darken the earth, with their sheer nullity of faith. His experiments were not all negative, he was well aware that there was more to pain than a mystery, he had positive proof of the changeable nature of the human body. Through torture, experimentation and the discovery of energies that could be channelled from Damnation and the Grey Kingdom, Valance began to create the city of Skaris's first abominations. Creatures that had formerly been human, Firg or other beings were cruelly mishapen and tormented until they served their master as new monstrous creations. Valance rejected the term; those who called his creations abominations, not only lacked respect for the ingenuity of The Keeper, and the intricacies of his creation, but lacked the imagination to encompass the multiplicity of human potentialities under the word human.  Ambrosius combined within himself a near unparalleled knowledge of the body, with an unusually impoverished knowledge of the human condition. He struggled in his personal relations, feeling distant and detached from them. People were overfamiliar, and a torture chamber is hardly the place where one cultivates the affection capable of stopping familiarity from slipping into boredom, he was quite relieved the Skargoline were a monastic order, to take a wife and raise a family, as was expected of the most patrician Ulmine of his station, would have been an insufferable tedium. He could never remember names. They were important in so far as the point where he forced a subject to stare at their reflection, to gaze upon the changes wrought to their form, and they no longer recognised that their name referred to them. What fascinates him is the possibility of acquiring subjects from other dimensions, a mission he has tasked his underlings with performing. He has spied extensively on the Carathene order to find out what they have learned on the multiplicity of life scattered across the known multiverse. Are their different classes of human in Damnation, Celestium, The Red Waste, and The Grey Kingdom? What new insights, techniques and processes can be extracted from these strange places and put to work on the human form? The research that Valance has conducted has led him, in the holy city of Skaris, to contemplate some heretical ideas. He has now come to believe that the Keeper (contrary to the teachings of Skaris's Ashtarian Aruhivianism) may truly be dead and gone, and in such a state of affairs, it could be men such as he who can re-order and reshape reality and the chaos that the one god left in his wake.   Adventure hook:    The players meet a strange creature, crawling along a road, on closer inspection it appears vaguely human, and tells them that it has escaped from a Skarisi Dycrit, recognising it as a person partly transformed into an abomination of the Skargoline, the victim tells them that five other people from his village await the same fate in the bowels of the Elunre Dycrit. He says he cannot offer them a reward, as everything he once had, including his sense of humanity, has been taken from him, but promises riches and forbidden knowledge beyond their wildest imaginings await them in the dycrit. As they are talking, the players are interrupted by a monk who sympathises with Skargoline’s victim, and offers, out of Aruhvian charity, to help them break into the dycrit and save the victims awaiting transformation. The victim refuses to look at the monk, and trembles slightly, but says nothing.    " ["post_title"]=> string(55) "Ambrosius Valance Skargoline Interrogator and Tombearer" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(55) "ambrosius-valance-skargoline-interrogator-and-tombearer" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2021-03-15 20:53:30" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-03-15 20:53:30" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(29) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [18]=> object(WP_Post)#1782 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(339) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "4" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2021-03-08 09:00:45" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-03-08 09:00:45" ["post_content"]=> string(11762) "Often the most intriguing and terrifying places in a world are those laboratories of knowledge and experience which seek to fundamentally alter our understanding of a world, traversing lines of thought and feeling most would recoil in terror at. They are the places in a campaign or adventure that radically alter a player’s conception of the universe they inhabit, places where few characters emerge unchanged. In Arclands the most secretive and insidious institutions devoted to overcoming all limits, whether they be moral, theological, experiential, epistemological, or psychological, are the Skarisi dycrits. Founded by the deeply conservative theocracy of Skaris as experimental seminaries to train the elite members of the city’s clandestine religious enforcers, The Skargoline, dycrits push the plasticity of the human form to its furthest limits producing abominations in a ruthless quest to exhaust the potentialities of human beings, creating whole new disciplines of knowledge beyond the pale of accepted scholarship. You can find out more about The Skaris from the links in this article, but below is a list of ten items you might find in a Skarisi dycrit.  
  • Book of Welts
Each page of a book of welts is fashioned from the flayed skin of scourged penitents, preserving and recording the bodily mortifications of Skaris’ most extreme ascetics. Originating from research into preserving the body after death, attempts were soon made to derive an affective and experiential history of an individual from an analysis and examination of their preserved pages of skin. The Skargoline’s most brilliant scholars are often seen pouring over books of welts through strangely shaped lenses of glass, the colour of a deep red wound. Judging by the pained expressions, silenced screams, and the nervous convulsions that linger with a reader long after they have put the book down, the claims that those who dare to peer into them can experience the mortifications far more acutely than the penitent who suffered them may not be altogether unfounded. Books of Welts offers knowledge which cannot be put into words, communicating to the reader not only the marks, but the motives and emotions behind their infliction, providing surer knowledge of an individual than even the most detailed biography, for nerve endings never lie.   
  • Old Vannic Prayer Beads
Dating back to the formative period of the Van Empire, the foundational civilisation that sired the nine city states of the Arclands, Old Vannic prayer beads, harken to an age where the great power of the world was harnessed in ways even the most imaginative scholars of Harenis could scarcely dream of.  Comprised of 216 whalebone beads, likely seized from the inestimably ancient cults of Gol, and each inscribed with four strange glyphs, little is known about the precise nature of the rituals performed with such artefacts. What is certain is that whatever form of prayer was practised in the early days of the Aruhvian faith, bears no resemblance to the forms practiced by the laity of Skaris. It is speculated that the glyphs are spells early Vannic mystics incorporated into their prayers, turning the beads to form new and powerful combination of spells. As magic awakens in Arclands once, so too could the power of these mysterious beads.  
  • Gorin Bone Axe
Few creatures are understood so little, and feared so much, as the gorins of Veska. Giant, pallid and gaunt, with a wiry strength matched only by the speed with which they wield it, gorin bone weapons are exceedingly prized for their power and durability. Near impossible to kill, and with lifespans that extend far beyond those of humans, practically no-one brave or stupid enough to fight a gorin has lived to tell about it. As such few gorin bone axes exist in Aestis. The handle is expertly fashioned from a gorin’s fingerbone and engraved with poetry from the Aruhviad, the sacred text of the Aruhvian religion, suggesting a clerical origin. Its blade is crafted from a small section of a gorin claw, carved to resemble the creature’s skull, and thus can cut through almost anything with ease. For those strong enough to wield it, the gorin bone axe is uniquely deadly weapon with few peers, the very sight of which makes foes tremble and flee before it.
  • Yarakta 
Yarakta is an entheogenic brew synthesised from the roots of araqa trees, in the mangrove swamps of the Olorian interior. It is an inky black drink, with a viscous and oily consistency used by Olorian shamans to commune with the Weave, an extensive magical network extending throughout all the dimensions, that is thought to predate the mortal realm. Users liken the experience of drinking it to falling into an abyss of boiling water, often they feel as if their flesh is falling off their bones, as their body collapses into a heap of bones. Shamans emerge with a disembodied perspective and must build a new body out of creatures and items they find or harvest from the Weave. For the unprepared the experience is maddening, but with the proper instruction and guidance yarakta grants admittance into an unseen world, hidden amidst the profane reality of everyday life, that is no hallucination, providing adventurers skilled and daring enough to partake in it access to knowledge and artefacts beyond their wildest imaginings.   
  • A Vial of Hesych Oil
Not all magic is loudly proclaimed in flourishing incantations. Often the greatest practitioners can perform remarkable feats without uttering a single world. Hesych oil aids greatly in one of the most difficult and nuanced branches of magical study, the magic of silence. When consumed it embeds itself into the heart forming calluses on the cardiac muscle. When the user silently repeats an incantation in their mind, the hesych oil activates and forces the heart to beat out the syllables of the incantation, opening the potential for the unceasing incanting for experienced practitioners. This is particularly useful in sustaining and prolonging protective magic, such as warding spells, but requires great physiological discipline to channel magical energy through the body in a form it can harness. An inexperienced practitioner attempting to incant powerful spells without the proper preparation courts disaster, for the user of hesych oil must control the energy coursing through them to prevent it from destroying them.  
  • Elunre’s Orison
Deriving its name from Skaris’ founder, the Aruhvian prophet Elunre Ashtar, an Elunre’s orison is one of the few musical instruments to feature in Skarisi rites and festivals. Said to have been a spartan flute, without adornment, carved from the thyrsi of the old Golan cults by Elunre herself. In spite of its simplicity it has a complex and varied range, and a rich textured sound that can often seem discordant to those who have not grown up listening to its mournful cadences. It is often played to anchorites to console them throughout their immurement and fortify them for a life of solitude and devotion.   
  • Harp of Y’vestan 
Taking their name from the martyred Grace Y’vestan, condemned to suffer eternal torment at the hands of the forces of Damnation, harps of Y’vestan are scourges each member of the Skargoline must construct to exact penitence for the heresies they perpetuate in their unceasing investigation. Each design is unique to its creator and must reflect their failings and impurities. The construction of a harp of Y’vestan is an exercise in self-reflection and self-discovery, inflicting upon the penitent the form of pain they are least able to bear. A harp of Y’vestan follows a member of the Skargoline to the grave, acting as both a source of absolution and consolation throughout their life.   
  • Face of Goliar
Grotesque, distorted, with lurid expressions, steeped in carnality, faces of Goliar are the hidden faces of Skaris, emblematic of everything deemed heretical and impure. Cast from the death mask of the holy fool Goliar, whose achieved a baseness so inhuman that through it he attained a form of holiness and sanctity, these masks plunge their wearer into a frenzy that allows them to overcome all fear, exhibiting such reckless abandon that they will viciously attack all that attempt to restrain them. The intoxication and virtual imperviousness to pain experienced by the elite Skarisi shock troops trained to wear them, make them formidable foes. Upon coming out of the state of frenzy they experience prolonged fatigue from which it can take days to fully recover from.  
  • Coil of Arrus
A Coil of Arrus is a circular vellum codex into which dreams are transcribed. The writing spirals inwards towards a central point, requiring the reader to rotate the book continuously as they read line after line spiralling inwards in smaller and smaller script, ending upon a single word in the centre into which the author must attempt to condense and encapsulate the essence of the dream recorded on that particular page. The Skargoline transcribe their dreams with ink synthesised from crushed base stone, one of the rarest and most fundamental alchemical elements. It is said that it is difficult to rid oneself of the dreams recorded in a Coil of Arrus inscribed, as those in the dycrits are, with basestone. It is as if, once unpacked, the exegesis buried deep within that central word, opens the doorway into the dream itself, condensing what is imagined so convincingly it becomes indistinguishable from what is real.  
  •   Noose of Shibar 
To be dead to the world in Skaris, is to be alive and receptive to the spirit. Holiness for those devout people is the will to experience death continuously, a death without end or finality which never terminates, even in the paradisical visions of Celestium that console the mystics of the Aruhvian faith. Even with such a conception of holiness not all deaths are equal. The gravest and most austere of deaths awaits those who undertake the weaving of a noose of Shibar. Often immured and immobile, subsisting in complete darkness and complete silence, with only their inner imaginings to guide the movements of their hands, finding consolation or despair in the knowledge that the life they have undertaken is self-inflicted, they weave until death a shroud, longer and more intricate with each passing day. The most evocative Noose of Shibar in the prestigious Elunre Dycrit, is said not to depict but to be one continuous scream, more real and more tangible than any that could be produced by mere vocal cords.  " ["post_title"]=> string(44) "Ten items you Might find in a Skarisi Dycrit" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(5) "339-2" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2021-03-15 20:54:03" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-03-15 20:54:03" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(29) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [19]=> object(WP_Post)#1783 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(336) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2021-03-06 06:59:46" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-03-06 06:59:46" ["post_content"]=> string(7758) "


Last week we explored how the hero's journey, a narrative structure in folktales identified by Joseph Campbell, could be applied to role play games, and we examined the first six stages of the journey. Today we continue by exploring the final six stages.

7. Approach To The Inmost Cave

Things truly start to suck for the hero at this point, as indeed they should. Every hero must go to the place that they fear the most, be it a place external to them like a scary cave or somewhere within them, such as a dark memory or an unpleasant truth. Aragorn is tormented by the knowledge that he is the heir to Isildur, the king who was so weak that he could not throw the One Ring into the fires of Mount Doom. As he continues on his hero’s journey, he is forced to come to terms with this legacy and to wield the reforged sword that Isildur once used to cut the ring from Sauron himself. At this point, Aragorn has to stop being the wandering ranger, and become the reluctant King of Gondor that fate needs him to be. Neo has to rescue Morphius from Agent Smith’s scary looking office block, knowing that it is a suicide mission. He helps Morphius escape but by going through the ordeal and believing himself, he is transformed and becomes the person that everyone clearly knows he is born to be, the ‘one’. How does all this map into a D&D game? You might decide that a player has to go to the limits of what they can withstand in order to develop and to grow. You might decide that as a player levels up, they have to go to their ‘cave’ in order to understand their destiny and to wrestle with what lies inside them. In the hero’s journey, it is the quality of wisdom, courage, fortitude or trust that the hero acquires or accesses (we’re assuming they really had it all along). A great role playing experience, carefully balanced between DM and player can achieve the same.

8. Ordeal

The ordeal is the experience that pushes the hero to their limit, and by rights, it’s not meant to be pretty. Luke Skywalker’s ordeal, when he first faces his father in the Cloud City and loses his hand is a terrifying moment of realisation for him. He finds out who Darth Vader really is, but also knows that the force is strong in him, after fighting it out with the old man. The combination of these realisations clearly weighs heavily on the Skywalker psyche, as he quickly recognises the potential for such darkness in himself. For a character to have an ordeal, they must be faced with a true nemesis, a force of evil that is not only powerful in terms of abilities and stats, but roleplayed in such as way as the player might be left wondering how they can triumph against such odds (though of course, for gameplay to work, there has to be a way). Ordeals are more than physical slug fests, they the moment where the hero has to reach deep inside themselves for the determination to fight on and in doing so, transform.

9. Reward (Seizing The Sword)

In the previous stage of the hero’s journey, the hero survives the ordeal but does not triumph over the villain, they are pushed to their very limits and somehow escape from certain doom. They do however triumph over themselves as an old self dies and a new one is born and awaiting them at the end of this process is some manner of reward. In D&D terms, players can find treasure and magic items, but there are ways, as a DM, we can develop the reward stage to integrate the hero’s journey more deeply into game play. A reward after slaying the nemesis might be a new item (it will be a pretty unmotivating game unless the player gets something decent out of the victory). However, the real reward might be a revelation that gives the player a deeper insight into what they fight for and perhaps leads them to the next phase of the quest, setting up the next adventure. A PC might hear in the mocking words of their nemesis the fact that the villain was merely a pawn of a far more powerful adversary all along, or they the PC’s real father is a dark mage, trapped in Damnation. The reason why this is a reward is that it transforms the world that the character inhabits and makes the player’s experience deeper and richer. The reward might also be the magical elixir or gemstone that heals a society of a terrible plague, meaning that they acquire an object for altruistic purposes. 

10. The Road Back

The road back is the journey away from risk and action, toward the final resolution of the story. It is easy in this stage to take the foot off the gas and assume that the story is over and normality has been restored. However, the world that the PCs return to might have been fundamentally altered by the nemesis, even though they are now vanquished (what, for example, might Lake Town have been like after Smaug’s visit?). New realities mean new interactions between the PCs and their environment. Might PCs returning to a town devastated by a villain, perhaps even believing they have slain that villain, be required to take on the role of leaders, defenders and protectors?  Might they want to find out who the other seven evil town devastating wizards are who might rock up at any point to cause further trouble?     

11. Resurrection

But not so fast! The villain that the PC believed they had evaded returns and once again pushes the hero to the very limits. Our hero now has two things, a magic sword or reward of some description, and the self knowledge and determination within themselves to slay the monster. Here is the moment where the nemesis is cast down and a new order is born. Of course, there will be huge consequences for the innocents that the hero seeks to defend if they fail. This point in the hero’s journey is called the resurrection because they literally return from the dead (or as close to zero hit points as it’s possible to go, given the confines of game play). When they return from the dead, the hero’s journey is all but complete, as the hero themselves has been transformed (see Neo, Matrix), by the experience and has found their true self. Some players will play their character from level one onwards as the finished article, the heroic hero from hero-town who knows themselves instinctively, and who fights with a sword in one hand and a martini in the other. How impossibly dull. The hero can only become who they are meant to be by reaching the point of resurrection, and a character can be presented with this crisis several times at significant levelling up moments.   

12. Return With The Elixir

Here’s where the PC, stepping over the dead body of the enemy, finally hands over the magic elixir, gem, ring or item to the grateful townspeople, in order to heal their broken world. The transformed PC can hang up their sword for a week or two, knowing that they have undertaken the hero’s journey. For some players, this is a good point to retire the PC. It might be that they have nothing left to learn and instead go through the motions, adventure after adventure, until they become a tired old relic, busting out the same old spells and abilities. When there’s nothing more to be said about a character because their journey is over, start a new journey, because ultimately, it’s the hero’s journey that is more interesting and important than the hero themselves.   " ["post_title"]=> string(53) "The Monomyth Part Two: D&D and the Hero's Journey" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(46) "the-monomyth-part-two-dd-and-the-heros-journey" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2021-03-06 06:59:46" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-03-06 06:59:46" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(29) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [20]=> object(WP_Post)#1784 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(333) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2021-03-05 08:30:51" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-03-05 08:30:51" ["post_content"]=> string(7101) "If you DM, you are a storyteller. Any role play game is an exercise in collaborative storytelling with some randomisation thrown in, and a few rules to stop you from wrecking the story you’re trying to tell. With this in mind, it’s worth asking:   “Am I any good at story telling?”   The chances are that you are. It’s something that most people do every day and are largely unaware of. Think of the last time you explained a movie plot, gossipped about a colleague (don’t say you haven’t, because we both know that’s a lie), or wrote a history essay. All stories of different types. People tell stories and have done since the dawn of time, we understand them far more easily than anything else, which is why when politicians tell stories that are lies, it doesn’t matter how accessible the truth is, the story wins out because that’s what people listen to. Even if you don’t think you’re a good story teller, there are a few techniques you can learn which will transform your ability to engage your players and take them on a journey through the adventure. 


Any war movie you go to see normally starts with some contextual blurb on the screen: ‘It is June 6th, 1944, and the allied invasion of Europe has begun…’ Without context, the viewer experiences confusion as soon as the action begins, which is distracting and ensures that the story fails. If you create a rich and deep contextual picture for your players, this will anchor them in the world and make for much more engaging gameplay with much less confusion. If your players have come to a new city give them a deep dive into the place. What does it look like? What is the feel of the environment around them? What are the people there like? What is the culture of the place? Is it poor or rich? Menacing or welcoming? What individual connections do the PCs have to the place? There’s no actual thing as too much lore or detail.


Why do script writers include cliffhangers into episodes? Because they work (if used sparingly). The cliffhanger is the plot device that leaves the viewer or player in unbearable suspense until the next episode, meaning that they are left pondering what is going to happen. Human beings find this an irresistible place to be, and also an agonising one, which is why it can be such a powerful plot device. What would happen if, at the end of one adventure, you introduced a cliffhanger. Just as a quest is completed, a new adversary or news of some new crisis is received, setting the PCs on the road to adventure once more. What would happen between one game session and another, the PCs were left dangling over blazing coals from a chain? Would your gamers show up the next time wanting to resolve the cliffhanger? More than likely. 


Fifth Edition D&D is strongly focused on the development of character backgrounds, helping players breath life into two dimensional characters. However, the background feature presents DMs with the opportunity to create a rich and compelling narrative. The lifepath of a character is invariably littered with enemies, allies, events and incidents. Making connections between these events and skeletons in the closet can create a long hidden history that the players can draw from. Of course, the DM has to get buy in from the players and involve them in the process too. All too often, DMs spend hours creating a backstory from the constituent parts of the player’s stories, only to find that the players themselves pay scant little attention to their character’s histories. This results in players having little engagement with the bigger narrative that the DM is trying to tell. Remember, a role play game is a co-created act of story telling, not something that the DM creates on their own. 

Deus Ex Machina

Ok, careful with this one. The literal translation from Greek means ‘god from the machine’ or act of god. Your game world might have gods that directly intervene in the affairs of humanity, meaning that the occasional act of god makes more sense, or you might have a world where the gods either never existed or have long since departed, meaning that ‘acts of god’ are freak occurrences like earthquakes or famines. There is no law against using these plot devices in the wider context of the world (the PCs visit a kingdom recently devastated by a freak tsunami, which may or may not have been caused by the angry god of the sea), but it can be risky to include the act of god in the gameplay itself (ie, the PCs are being pursued by an army of skeletons, which is miraculously engulfed by an avalanche). If the PCs have some kind of agency in killing off the skeletons by causing the avalanche, it no longer becomes an act of god. One way of using a Deus ex machina is for a reset; are you bored by the bandit kingdom that has been causing hassle in one way or another for years? Great, hit them with a meteorite at the start of a new campaign, perhaps a new and challenging enemy will emerge from the ruins. Many a good game world has been destroyed by gods turning up as regularly as characters in soap operas, acting in decidedly mortal ways and genuinely being uninspiring brats with mega powers. Don’t let your acts of god be the product of hyper familiar deities, devoid of mythos.


Here’s a thought experiment. Think of one movie that was ruined by time travel or by revealing to the lead characters knowledge of the future. There are too many examples to note here, but it has long been understood by script writers that flashbacks and forwards are a notoriously difficult aspect to any narrative. So too, your game can sail into dangerous territory if you use flashbacks and flashforwards in an ineffective manner. Why use flashbacks at all? This could be a more elegant way of roleplaying a successful lore role. If the PCs meet powerful dignitary, and a successful lore role reveals their dark past, it might be the result of a memory that one PC has, of meeting the dignitary when they were a child. Flashforwards, normally the product of some magical intervention or experience, show the players one of many possible futures (depending, philosophically, what one thinks about time, space and causality). If the PCs look through a magic portal and see their own demise, this of course doesn’t fate them to die at some juncture in the future, but gives them a powerful clue about something that might happen, or some action they might need to take to avoid it. Subtlety is the key here; use flashforwards to intrigue and to sow the seeds of ideas in the PCs minds to help them with the next phase of problem solving, don’t give the entire game away.  " ["post_title"]=> string(56) "Top Five narrative techniques to employ in your homebrew" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(56) "top-five-narrative-techniques-to-employ-in-your-homebrew" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2021-03-05 08:30:51" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-03-05 08:30:51" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(29) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [21]=> object(WP_Post)#1785 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(329) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2021-03-04 09:00:56" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-03-04 09:00:56" ["post_content"]=> string(5758) "Oran and his horse Thorga are a familiar sight in the Roedas Valley in the foothills of the Lower Orne Mountains. For three hundred miles he is the only source of law and order, but the respect that he commands means the villages of the Roedas have relatively few cattle thieves and robberies. For years his main role has been to keep an eye on the notorious Seven Brothers Clan, a gang of thieves, robbers and murderers from across the border in Free Welland. For a Swithick, Oran is impressively tall, with flowing black hair and a thick beard that is now starting to show the first flecks of grey. The other members of the Honourable Company of Trailkeepers cross through the Roedas Valley from time to time, but in total there are now fewer than three hundred to patrol all of the northern Mill Lands. This means that for Oran, life is a solitary affair.   

The Machenites

  Most Mill Landers care little about religion, instead they spend their time farming, drinking, buying, selling, gossipping, complaining and caring slightly more about their dogs and horses than they do about their children. History taught the people of the Mill Lands that great passions and causes rarely end well and for the most part they are happy to ignore the words of preachers and priests. Something has changed in the north, however. A group of wandering preachers and acolytes have emerged, calling themselves the Machenites, named after a long dead hermit and religious fanatic called Machus. They follow the Ashtarian Aruhvianism, an extreme branch of the faith that originates in the puritanical city of Skaris. For some years they have been mocked and derided by the Swithick peoples of the Mill Lands, but slowly their creed has started to gain traction in the poorest, most rural communities in the foothills and the mountains. Word has reached Oran of strange developments in communities to the north of the Roedas Valley, where now the Machenites have established themselves as the community’s main source of authority and power. In the hamlet of Wellesker, the Machenites cut the mayor’s throat in front of the villagers and then imprisoned all those who were deemed impious in the communal barn, which they had plans to burn to the ground. Oran hurried northwards to intervene, believing that alone, he might be able to drive the Machenites out, but learned to his surprise that these were no ordinary religious fanatics or ascetics, instead they were men and women who combined the fire of their faith with military training and expertise; where they had acquired martial knowledge from is still unclear. Oran was forced to retreat and was discovered, wounded and bleeding on the banks of the Nyman River by the Seven Brothers.  

The Seven Brothers

  Aglan, Borric, Bosman, Suge, Kildic, Losi and Dunal and their twenty five gang members are the scourge of small northern villages. They combine a level of animal cunning and ruthlessness with an anarchic spirit and a love of drink and bare knuckle brawling. It is curious, therefore, that one thing that unites this frequently feuding and violent gang is an immense respect for Oran. For many of them, their first experiences of authority was one of utter hypocrisy; priests who sinned more regularly than anyone, sheriffs and magistrates who stole, cheated and killed. Knowing that the keepers of the law were as bad as the criminals helped each villain in the gang to justify every act of thievery and plunder they carried out. Then they met Oran, the incorruptible knight of the northern Mill Lands, who was as tough as he was fair, even letting gang members go when he could not prove that they were behind cattle thefts and robberies. The brothers took Oran’s problems very personally indeed. Oran found himself in the curious position of being helped and protected by the very gang he had sworn to defend the region against, but he quickly concluded that there was little option but to gratefully receive this assistance. Riders from the Seven Brothers crossed into the west of the Mill Lands and searched for Trailkeepers, alerting dozens to the Oran’s plight and that of the people of Wellesker. When a force of Trailkeepers and bandits had assembled, they marched on Wellesker and quickly defeated the Machenites, destroying their powerbase. However, Oran sensed that the battle had been too easy and noticed that many of the fleeing Machenites followed a path into the mountains where one prisoner revealed the cult had a redoubt. It is here that their leader resides, who Oran’s interrogation subject revealed had travelled from Skaris in order to bring ‘light and purity’ to the Mill Lands, but instead had brought dark corrupted creatures with him.  

Adventure Hook:

The Seven Brothers decide that they’ve done their bit for the cause of justice and leave Wellesker to return to their normal activities and Oran looks to the PCs, who were passing through the area and who joined in the battle to save the village. He says that the Trailkeepers must fight battles against the Machenites across the rest of the Lower Orne Mountains, and he is counting on the PCs to follow the cultists trail, find their fortress and discover the secrets of the Skarisian master. " ["post_title"]=> string(63) "Oran Mellast, Trailkeeper of the Honourable Company and Dragoon" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(62) "oran-mellast-trailkeeper-of-the-honourable-company-and-dragoon" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2021-03-03 16:49:55" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-03-03 16:49:55" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(29) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [22]=> object(WP_Post)#1786 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(326) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2021-03-01 06:07:19" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-03-01 06:07:19" ["post_content"]=> string(8348) "

About Pelonastra

Pelonastra is the capital city of the Mill Lands, a once formidable regional power in Western Aestis, but now in steady decline. The city, divided between two islands, Yulinast and Olinast, is a shadow of its former glory. Adventurers who pass through Pelonastra during the almost perpetual rainy season find a population that enjoys banter, bargains and beer. The people of the Mill Lands, the Swithicks, know the value of a good pair of sturdy boots, a Haatchi stallion and a sword made by the Firg. Their blacksmiths are well respected if not renown for their handiwork and their smithies are often adorned with items from around the world, bought or bartered from the many travellers that cross through the Mill Lands.   

Firg Smithy’s Hammer

The Firg are the giant master craftsmen who live to the west of the Mill Lands and they do not part with their good hammers lightly. A hammer in a human smithy or workshop will need considerable strength to wield it effectively, but might be considered to be relatively small in Firg hands. This smaller hammer, ideal for crafting human swords in known as a Stovag or ‘little brother’ hammer and incorporates an ornate design of a horse and mountains on its head. This shows the old connection of comradeship and strength between both of the Mill Lands neighbours, the mountain dwelling Firg to the west and the horse breeding Haatchi to the east.   

Mont Inaerian Coal

It is beyond dispute that the best coal in the Mill Lands comes from the mountain town of Mont Inaer, two hundred leagues to the north. All Pelonastran smiths order it by the sackload from Mont Inaer, and it makes its way down the Shay River on small boats sailed by the Ferry Folk. The black coals sometimes glitter with tiny flecks of blood red resin and these are highly sought after by master forgers as they heat the furnace to higher temperatures, enabling stronger and more durable steel.   

Haatchi Javelins

The neighbours of the Mill Landers are the tribal Haatchi, whose prowess in the saddle and bravery in battle is rarely matched by that of the Swithicks. The Haatchi have a long and often fraught relationship with the Mill Lands, but recognise that the wealthy folk of Pelonastra and the Shay Valley have gold to spend and produce to sell, and make for better neighbours than enemies. Haatchi warriors keep a quiver of javelins by their saddle at all times called a Hokhao, and to be gifted one is a rare honour.  

Assorted Arclander Coins

Pelonastra is the most westerly city that most Arclanders will visit. Traditionally, the people of the Greater Arc Sea are insular and do not like to travel ‘West of Dancare’, seeing it as backwards and uncivilised. If for any reason they do, they will go as far as Pelonastra, but often look in disgust at the decaying wooden buildings and run down streets of the city. Pelonastran smiths are in great demand to re-shoe horses and replace lost weapons, so many will have coins from Arc (Silver Princes), Wardehal (The Ironfellow) or even warlike Dran (Varrensilver).  

Del’Marahan Rum

Del’Marahan Rum, made from the sugar from dupra beets is the dominant hard liquor in the south and west of Aestis. Mill Landers make their own bitter Root Spirit, but gradually tastes in the Mill Lands have changed and the rum from the south has become the drunken blacksmith’s drink of choice. As a sign of good luck, it is often poured on a still hot newly forged blade from a small pewter cup.

Yegorian Mansword

A Yegorian mansword is a mighty weapon indeed. The Wardenhalese knights, known as the Ironborn wield these huge blades in battle and slew many hideous Vrugg, the giant monster beserkers of Mordikhaan. The manswords were originally made by a Wardenhalese smith called Yegoras Thule, and his apprentices have created countless weapons that captured the strength and power of the original blade. Inscribed on each hilt is an image of the skyline of Wardenhal, so its soldiers who march far afield can remember the home they fight to defend. 

Ferry Folk Boxing Hand Ropes

The greatest boxers in the Mill Lands are invariably found on the banks of the River Shay. The Ferry Folk, who are originally from the deep southern lands of the Oloris Delta are highly skilled boxers. When they don’t fight bare knuckle, the Ferry Folk box with rope bound around their hands, which forms a rudimentary but hard type of boxing glove (far from limiting injury to others, however, the rope does precisely the opposite). Some Ferry Folk rub powdered glass or coral into their rope gloves to rip the flesh of their enemies.   

DeHauer armour

The two main noble houses of the Mill Lands are the DeHauers and the Revers. The DeHauers are widely disliked in Pelonastra, and whilst there is no king and the throne has been vacated for centuries, they see themselves as the rightful incumbents and wearers of the Mill Landish crown. Armour owned by a DeHauer is normally of high quality and possibly even Firg crafted, but as with all the possessions of a noble family in decline, it has seen better days. The younger DeHauers, all accomplished knights, are terrifically arrogant and seemingly incapable of looking after anything they’re given. Helmets and breast plates with the DeHauer crest of an eagle’s head looking eastwards (symbolising the DeHauer’s hunger for Haatchi territory), litter the floors of well known blacksmiths. Normally the DeHauers are so disliked that good smiths are happy to take their gold and kick the repair work to the back of the queue.  

Tiger Anvil

Tiger Anvils are rare finds indeed. Other than spellforges, they are the only way of creating magic items and there are only a few thought to be in existence. The Tiger Anvils come from the frozen southern continent of Sindhi and have been used to craft powerful magic swords by the great swordsmiths of Aestis. Several of the anvils were lost and some have been bought and sold without their owners having any understanding of what they possessed. Some now sit in blacksmiths workshops, forging standard magic items, but anyone with knowledge of the anvils might be able to identify one and even learn how to harness its power. 

Hothian Axe

In the past year, several groups of Hothians, renown for their mastery of the axe, have passed through Pelonastra. Their presence in the city has been noted by the chief spymaster of the Mill Lands, the old magistrate known as Chancellor, but there is little understanding as to what is bringing the axe warriors of Hothis so far west. It is not an uncommon sight to see Hothian axes propped up inside smoke filled workshops. Single headed Hothian axes have a curved shaft and a vicious spike in place of a second head, designed for piercing armour, hide and monster skulls. " ["post_title"]=> string(48) "Ten items you might find in a Pelonastran smithy" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(48) "ten-items-you-might-find-in-a-pelonastran-smithy" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2021-03-01 06:07:19" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-03-01 06:07:19" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(29) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [23]=> object(WP_Post)#1787 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(315) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2021-02-27 09:39:24" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-02-27 09:39:24" ["post_content"]=> string(10066) "You might not think you know what the monomyth is, but you do.    You live with it every day, it exists in nearly every film, book and graphic novel you’ve ever read in one form or another and it exists in every skillfully crafted D&D session. The reason it it is so omnipresent in our culture is that the monomyth, or the hero’s journey springs from within each and every one of us. It’s part of the way that human beings imagine their own experience and the struggles of life, and here is a brief rundown of a timeless concept. Joseph Campbell, the literary theorist and follower of Carl Gustav Jung argued that in every story from the Egyptian myths to the Bible to Star Wars, a hero’s journey existed. He said it had distinct phases:  

1. Ordinary World (or for our purposes The Tavern)

In a game of D&D, the DM invariably begins the adventure in a familiar setting. It might be a well known tavern where the PCs spend much of their time, or a place that has the qualities of order, stability and predictability. In literature, this was the shire of Frodo Baggins, a place that the reader could sense was peaceful and ordered and therefore within the control of Frodo. So, the PCs start their journey, normally, in the ordered world where there are few threats and life is good. 

2. Call To Adventure (the mysterious stranger)

The journey for PCs begins normally when the tranquil world they inhabit or are resting in between adventures is disrupted. A stranger tells them of a village under siege by monsters they must rescue, a half mad sea captain gives them a map to a mystical item on a nearby island, or the PCs are pressed into the service of a local warlord. Gandalf and Obi Wan perform this task when they explain to Frodo and Luke respectively that the small and predictable world they believed they inhabited is far bigger and more threatening than they realised. They learn the nature of the threat and what their role is in defeating it. This is a crucial stage in adventuring and the building of narrative, and it is vital not to let players simply sleepwalk through it. There can be a temptation for players to think ‘yeah, yeah, another quest, let’s go kill some bad guys.’ The point of the quest isn’t to slay lots of monsters (though this is always a bonus), but to develop the character, and the cycle of the hero’s journey is the process by which characters and players change. In the beginning, using as much drama as possible to set the scene and impress on players the odds against them will pay dividends throughout the rest of the adventure. 

3. Refusal Of The Call (it’s ok to be a bit circumspect)

A great strangler of drama is the cocky or over confident player who hears about a quest and says ‘sure, yeah, let’s do this’. Just as you, the DM, don’t want PCs who are desperate to avoid an adventure, you need them to find the struggle ahead a challenge that might involve risk, sacrifice and even death. Frodo is terrified when he first realises he has Sauron’s ring and suggests that they hide it. He has a mentor (see below) in the guise of Gandalf, who helps him realise the scope of the challenge ahead, and once this happens we get to see the true extent of Frodo’s courage. He accepts the challenge and offers to do his best, even though he believes this just means travelling to the Inn of the Prancing Pony. Similarly engineering the refusal of the call moment at the beginning of a quest, is a great tool for dramatic tension. Allowing players to have doubts, to recognise their fears and then to act anyway is a great way of adding pace to your adventure. This can be done by carefully structured role play. Here’s an example of how. 
  • The players are resting in a small town between adventures. One afternoon a wounded rider appears in the town square and says the villages along the coast, one hundred miles away are being devastated by a seaborne army of raiders. The PCs might at first leap to the challenge, but a second NPC in the village knows more. She recognises the arrowhead as being not of this world, but from the dark realm of Damnation. These aren’t normal raiders, these are the evil scourge who cannot be defeated through normal means (introduce some tension, the quest is not an open and shut slaughter fest). The PCs must travel to the old Briar Witch in the forest to find the portal to Damnation in order to defeat the vile scourge’s master. Once PC hears the name of an old and evil adversary they thought was long dead, but is now associated with the chief nemesis (this might cause them to be apprehensive, or to embrace the challenge if crushing their foe finally). 
Within this adventure set up, there are numerous opportunities to prevent the PCs from sleepwalking through the adventure.  

4. Meeting The Mentor

Gandalf, Obi Wan Kenobi, Morpheus, Nick Fury; all these characters serve a powerful narrative function. They are there to guide the hero to adulthood (even though the hero might be physically an adult, often it is the great challenge that they face that will make them a grown man or woman). The mentor explains the nature of the challenge, the key information (find the magic sword to slay the villain), and the price they must pay to complete the quest. The character is often referred to as the dispatcher, who sends the heroes out into the world, taking them from the mundane predictable world to the unknown. Here, role play games run into a problem - the PCs rarely live in the mundane world and their day to day existence is one of magic and monsters. The mentor character works best when fantasy is to some extent controlled in the game setting and the PCs always have something new to learn or discover. When Gandalf explains to Frodo about the One Ring, Frodo doesn’t yawn and say ‘sure G, I know all that…’. Frodo has a smattering of knowledge about Sauron, presumably because his uncle was quite the historian, but it is Gandalf that reveals to him the truth that the dark lord has returned, and in doing so he shatters Frodo’s comfortable world. In Arclands, mentor characters can exist in the form of Forge Keepers, the magical entities that exist within Spellforges, and which can explain to the uninitiated how the magical world works.

5. Crossing The Threshold

Here’s where role play games often fall down, they create a world of the fantastic that is so comprehensive and a magic that is so everyday, that there are few thresholds to cross. The hero needs to take a step outside the world that they currently know, into a new and uncertain reality. If the PCs come across an old well which is a conduit into a subterranean world, there must be a degree of dramatic tension here that comes from crossing the threshold from the known to the unknown, from the mundane to the mysterious. Perhaps magic and monsters haven’t existed in the peaceful part of the world the characters live in for a long time. Like the Cylons in Battlestar Galactica, perhaps evil has waged its war a generation ago and most people expect it never to return. Crossing the threshold from the normal peaceful world into the mystical and dangerous one can be a physical act (ie setting out on a quest like Frodo) or an internal, spiritual act (like Neo finding an entire new reality to inhabit). In both instances, the character most accept that the world, and their part in it has changed in new and alarming ways. 

6. Tests, Allies, Enemies

This part of the hero’s journey is one that most role play games get right. As the adventure begins the heroes will be tested in battle and in problem solving and they should discover any allies or helpers who will be useful to them. The point of the helper or the ally in the hero’s journey is to be of assistance to the hero as they become their heroic self. In a D&D campaign, this might be an NPC who purposefully or innocently guides the PCs to a higher truth. The NPC needs to be fully role played in order for this to happen; all too often the NPC is someone who hangs around with the PCs and is a handy extra sword in a battle. The PCs should also meet their nemesis, whose nature can be gradually revealed to them. A good villain is a magnificent thing and should be used wisely and used to define the characters. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, fans have complained endlessly about Marvel’s ‘villain problem’ ie bad guys who barely match up to the depth and complexity of the heroes. The one villain that Marvel introduced slowly across about eight films was of course Thanos. In the hero’s journey Thanos presents the shadow version of each of the heroes. His cold utilitarianism that leads to destroying half of all life contrasts with Tony Stark’s pragmatism and fatalism, and Steve Rogers’ determination to put people beyond principals and ideologies (this is why the clash of those two world views in Captain America: Civil War, was such a good set up for Infinity War and Endgame).  " ["post_title"]=> string(41) "Monomyth: The Hero’s Journey in D&D" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(32) "monomyth-the-heros-journey-in-dd" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2021-02-20 09:52:10" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-02-20 09:52:10" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(29) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [24]=> object(WP_Post)#1788 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(313) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2021-02-26 10:30:58" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-02-26 10:30:58" ["post_content"]=> string(8178) "So you want to build a universe eh? Are one of the many people who spent years looking at maps of Middle Earth, wondering what Eriador is like, or what types of societies existed in Rhovanion? Do you have a world in the back of your mind waiting to be born? If so, it’s not enough to read Tolkien, you need to BE Tolkien, and understand language, geography, history, warfare, religion and myth. Here is our helpful top five guide to the types of books you need to read to bring that world to life.  


Ok, so we’re going to go out on a limb here and assume that not everyone in your world speaks with a ‘common’ tongue. In our world English, Spanish and Chinese have dominated much of the world due to the colonial and imperial histories of the peoples that spread them and those that were subjugated by them. This means that in your world, language can be a potent source of conflict or a clue as to the history of a region. Languages develop, change, grow, die out and sometimes take over the world for a range of complex and historical reasons and if you are careful, your languages can tell the story of your world. Empires of the Word by Nicholas Ostler is a brilliant primer on the history of human languages over the past ten thousand years. For a guide to how a lingua franca took over the world, also read Stephen Horobin’s How English became English.  


Did you find yourself drifting off in geography lessons? Did you wonder what an oxbow lake was or why you were finding out about the slums of Santiago? What glaciers and mass migration had in common? The worlds of physical geography and human geography are intimately connected and are vital to understand if you are hoping to make a coherent world. Tolkien knew about mountain ranges, river deltas, forests and plains, and no doubt being an officer in the First World War involved a significant amount of map reading. Once you have grasped the essentials geographics of your world, start to draw and map it out. This is vital if you want to gain an authentic feel for the reality you are creating. There are numerous accessible guides to fantasy map creation, but here are a couple of great reads to guide you. Jesper Schmidt’s excellent Fantasy Map Making and Fantasy Mapping by Wesley Jones are both sound investments.  


Your world history is going to be vast, complex and hopefully unique. A world history normally begins with a creation myth and then transitions through phases or, as Tolkein would have put it, ages. Depending on the level of technology, the social relations and the access to information that the individuals in your world have, you might want to research various different ‘histories’. Let us assume (and it is quite an assumption) that you’re creating the standard medieval world that Tolkien produced in Lord of the Rings; you’re writing about a point that countless fantasy writers have examined, essentially the end of the Middle Ages itself. The moment is described in the Encyclopaedia of Fantasy as The Thinning, a moment that Europe reached between the 14th and 15th Centuries when the crises that lie dormant within the medieval world emerge and are abundantly clear for all to see. Countless writers from Tolkien to George R.R. Martin have returned to this historical pivot point because in our reality we know that feudalism and the world of the Middle Ages that we romanticise, was replaced by early and then late modernity, which is where we are.


How did Henry V win at Agincourt? Why did Ottoman navies dominate the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea? These sorts of questions are often matters of science and technology, but they are often questions of social history. The French knights at Agincourt were an isolated social class, without any peasant retainers to support them (they didn’t trust that an armed peasantry might not overthrow them). If you want to research military history and the way that wars were fought in the Middle Ages (or you might be creating something much more contemporary), be clear on the types of questions you want to answer. If you are curious about military technology, there are few better publishers than Osprey, whose titles examine different time periods, campaigns, armies and even weapons. In order to build a detailed picture of a medieval army, navy or siege, find a good introduction or primer and use that as the basis for further research. Your world building should, ideally, be a project many years in completion, so building up a library of knowledge on cavalry charges, pikes, longbows and Greek fire is the way forward. In future blog posts, we will examine how best to organise your research library.   


Why create a world that closely resembles ancient Greece or medieval Japan, only to replicate its mythology? Of course you can do this and many successful fantasy world have but honestly, why? Tolkien’s mythology came from a mixture of Norse, Finnish and Saxon myth, but also contained powerful a Christian allegory, and all sorts of dubious ideas about the west being under siege from scary ‘others’. Providing you skip the ‘clash of civilisations’ schtick, you might benefit from Tolkien’s own fusion of traditions and beliefs. What would stop you from combining aspects of Norse mythology with Native American shamanism, for example? Egyptian ideas of death, judgement and the afterlife with Taoist notions of nature, the body and harmony? There are of course far too many cultures to reference here, but one place to start is Arthur Cotterell’s Encyclopaedia of Mythology, which features Classical, Norse and Celtic myths." ["post_title"]=> string(72) "Be like Tolkien! Top Five Types Of Books D&D Homebrewers Should Read" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(66) "be-like-tolkein-top-five-types-of-books-dd-homebrewers-should-read" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2021-02-26 11:59:58" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-02-26 11:59:58" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(29) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [25]=> object(WP_Post)#1789 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(308) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2021-02-25 10:20:57" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-02-25 10:20:57" ["post_content"]=> string(5674) "Eventually, when you’ve been here for long enough, all you know is Mordikhaan. The cold black mountain ridges, the waves of driving rain, the frozen forests and the tundra. It drains what is left of you away. All the fools, frauds, crooks and killers who wash up on its shores, who wander in search of a refuge end up with that same empty eyed stare, unless they’re foolish enough to try to get out.    Then they end up with a wooden stake for a neck.   Yanne Kaar never chose to go to Mordikhaan, she was twelve years old when Mordikhaan engulfed her. The closest thing she had to a parent was her older sister Tysana, whose she learned to both love and hate; it was Tysana who took them both to the vast lawless realm of the Khul and left them slaves to the dark queen’s whims. Tysana and Yanne grew up on the streets of Arc after their parents died, scavenging and stealing along Storm Row until the mercenaries of the waterfront districts, paid for by the noble Lords of the Port, caught them and threatened the pair with imprisonment in Arc’s vast debtors prison, the Oboline. Knowing that there was no future for them in Arc, Tysana, an accomplished thief and enforcer for the local gangster Kheram Vyle, uncovered the identity of the Mordikhaani spymaster in Arc, known as the resident, and gained passage to the dark and tormented land. She took Yanne with her, knowing that the streets of Arc would destroy the young girl if she was left behind. Tysana’s fiery temperament, skill with a long knife and sword, and her ability to understand the anarchic and mercenary nature of Mordikhaan ensured that she and Yanne quickly found a home in the Khul’s realm.   Tysana was eventually invited to the Kharis, more commonly known as the Crag, and was given an audience with the Khul herself; she emerged fearful and shaken, but assured Yanne that their futures were now secured and that the great queen had plans for her. Yanne was both fearful and fascinated, wondering how she too might find favour with the Khul, now that it appeared that for once they had a place in the world that they belonged in. They were sent to live in Uraneag, a small fishing village along the southern Mordikhanni coast, Tysana would vanish for months on end, working in the interests of the Khul across the Arclands. She was never able to explain to Yanne exactly what she was doing or why she had to disappear; waiting for her to return was unbearable for the young girl. Then came the day, just after Yanne’s 17th birthday when Tysana vanished and never returned, a possibility that Yanne had never prepared for. She discovered a letter that Tysana had left for her in the event of her death. It was short and had one simple instruction.   Run.   Any disappearance in Mordikhaan is interpreted as a betrayal, missing agents might be dead, so lo the logic goes, but they might also be traitors, and if they cannot be caught then their loved ones must suffer their fate. Yanne was captured easily and taken to the Crag, where she was thrown deep in to the freezing dark cells that the Khul’s jailers filled with the innocent. Yanne had little recollection of this time or how long she lived in the dark and the cold, listening to the screams and the torment of fellow prisoners around her. Eventually, at the moment she thought her mind would break, she forced herself to retreat inwards so deeply that she forgot her previous identity and erased from herself any thoughts and feelings that might be used as weapons against her. It was at this point that she heard the Khul’s voice, whispering to her in the darkest recesses of her prison.   “Now you’re ready to serve,” the voice whispered.    Yanne was dragged in front of the Khul and told that her traitor sister had left Yanne with a debt; Yanne owed the Khul her sister’s service and her transformation in the cells of the Crag were part of her initiation. A ship would be waiting for her to command back in the village of Uraneag and it would be her role to captain it across the Greater Arc Sea. The fact that Yanne couldn’t sail was of no interest to the Khul, who dismissed her with a wave of her hand. Work it out, muttered the Khul’s newest advisor, the general Caston Cleargh. Yanne now captains the Saint of Dancare, a small fast ship that couriers messages, people and items across the Greater Arc Sea. Her cover in every port she weighs anchor in is that of a small time trader in spices, oils and scented woods. She knows better than to try to search for her sister, who she has never given up on; she knows that the residents that exist in every major port and town will be the first to know if Yanne has tried to seek out a known traitor and enemy of the Khul. What they cannot see, because of the empty mask that she wears instead of the face of a feeling, open person, is the deep longing Yanne feels for her sister and the deep desire to burn all of Mordikhaan to the ground.   " ["post_title"]=> string(39) "Yanne Kaar: Mordikhaani Spy and Corsair" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(38) "yanne-kaar-mordikhaani-spy-and-corsair" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2021-02-26 19:53:42" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-02-26 19:53:42" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(29) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [26]=> object(WP_Post)#1790 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(305) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2021-02-22 10:20:15" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-02-22 10:20:15" ["post_content"]=> string(6519) "Mordikhaan is a huge, anarchic country ruled by the enigmatic and feared leader, The Khul. She has created a society where survival is possible only through steadfast devotion to her rule and where endless backstabbing and ruthless competition abound. A player character living in Mordikhaan might well end up in one of the country’s countless prisons and ‘blood monasteries’ - former houses of worship that have been converted into torture centres by Mordikhaan’s queen. They might find themselves of Ogathraz, the Khul’s mountaintop prison fortress, where hunger and cold claim as many lives as the jailer’s lash.    The Krivian Tomes   Mordikhaan has a religion of sorts, known as Obsessionalism. It is a cult that seeks to destroy the truth, rather than to enlighten others and its founding texts are known as The Krivian Tomes, a set of dozens of slim, crimson volumes that are dizzying in their complexity. They are purposefully written to cause confusion, chaos, discord and to spread lies and half truths about the nature of reality and the five dimensions; anyone who reads them either finds them incomprehensible, or even worse, starts to understand and then believe what the original Krivian Acolytes wrote.   Gripping Flail   Mordikhaani jailers have little interest where items originate from, as long as they are effective in causing pain and suffering. The gripping flail is an item that originates from the Damnation, and was originally brought into the Mortal Realm by the shape shifting Skabbakh. The flail’s whips are embedded with hundreds of tiny metal ‘teeth’ and they cause extra damage by wrapping themselves around limbs and other parts of the body. The flail clings to its victims and the torturer can inflict an extra point of damage per round as they pull it backwards.    Buzsulg Grubs   These small and revolting creatures are related to the Zsulg, a subterranean mass of tentacles and fangs, which is drawn to magic energy. The Buzsulg Grub simply prefers flesh and will burrow into the ear of its victim and attach itself using a sticky fluid that burns through the skull to the base of the brain. There, it will control the individual, slowly eroding their ability for autonomous action, unless it is burned out with a hot iron.   Enchanted chalk   One inmate fortunate enough to receive a visitor is given a box of chalks, ostensibly to draw with to stave off the boredom and despair. When the user draws on the walls of their cell, their drawing becomes animated and grows to fill the entire wall, becoming a terrifying version of the simple sketch the user made. It will then talk to the user’s enemies or persecutors, threatening them and promising to reveal their innermost secrets to their friends.    Norn Mask   The Khul’s most deadly helpers are the four vile hags she keeps at her fortress Kharis, known as the Norns. In order not to be consumed by horror and madness when looking upon these hideous entities, an enchanted iron face mask must be worn, which offers protection against magical fear.   Alotrican Ring   The Alotricans are a secret society even within Mordikhaan, they are the followers of Altrares Alotric, the first of the Khul’s great spymasters and chief advisors, who was able to influence events across the continent. His followers wore an iron ring engraved with the symbol of the rat, with two small garnet stones for eyes. The Alotrican Ring is only worn openly by a small number of powerful Mordikhanni; other less powerful members of the Alotricans keep their affiliation secret as they seek to avoid the resentment of their fellows. Alotricans have far better living conditions than other Mordikhaani and see other subjects of the Khul as being expendable.    Map of the prison   Not all of the Khul’s prisoners have been completely broken mentally and physically. Some still yearn for freedom and long to escape, and have spent many solitary hours creating a map of the tunnels and passages in the great icy fortress from memory. This map is created from droplets of the prisoner’s blood, though whoever the prisoner was, the blood itself has extraordinary properties. When the command work ‘Nuhkai’ is spoken, the blood vanishes back into the cloth it has stained and the map disappears.   Gem the captures the madman’s wail   The Khul enjoys capturing the intangible, and in her realm, nothing is more fleeting and transient than pain. She created a series of stones, the Okhata, or ‘pain stones’ gems which capture the horrors of torture. Some, when activated using a power word emit the screams of the tortured, others reflect scenes of mutilation in the gemstone’s facets.    Bottle of liquor that you’d have to be insane to drink   Never drink anything that is served in a Mordikhaani prison, especially the alcohol. The jailers and torturers make the most horrific spirits in the Outer Kingdoms in order to stave off the misery of their own existences in the Khul’s terror empire. Normally they pass around a revolting sour black liquid distilled from mushrooms called ‘zeet’, which results in feverish hallucinations and is what passes for entertainment at Ogathraz   Falcrex - the executioners sword   Falcrex is not a blade from the Mortal Realm, it is a sword that was forged in Damnation and is not traditionally used for slicing through mortal necks (though this is the use to which it has been put by the head executioner, Razan Varid). It was originally the execution sword of the Prassus, the go betweens of Damnation. It resembles a bastard sword and its blade, when held by a wielder sufficiently merciless to be worthy of its malice, emits flecks of glowing red energy.   " ["post_title"]=> string(49) "Ten items you might find in a Mordikhaani prison" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(48) "ten-items-you-might-find-in-a-mordikhaani-prison" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2021-02-21 17:56:13" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-02-21 17:56:13" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(29) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [27]=> object(WP_Post)#1791 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(318) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2021-02-21 16:48:07" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-02-21 16:48:07" ["post_content"]=> string(524) "Hi everyone, Last year Verse Online had the pleasure of getting to know Lawrence and Jamie from the Dads and Dragons podcast. The guys became dedicated Arclanders and have enjoyed playing with Arclands: The Spellforgers Companion. This week on the Dads and Dragons Podcast the guys reviewed the Spellforgers Companion and discussed playing Ghothars and Jaraki. You can listen to the full episode here." ["post_title"]=> string(33) "Dads and Dragons Arclands Special" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(33) "dads-and-dragons-arclands-special" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2021-02-21 16:48:07" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-02-21 16:48:07" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(29) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [28]=> object(WP_Post)#1792 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(296) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2021-02-20 11:00:01" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-02-20 11:00:01" ["post_content"]=> string(8062) "This was post is an amended version of the one featured in October in Nick’s newsletter The World You Dream:    It seems fitting that in our first few blog articles that we talk about the beginnings of all things, the creation of the fantasy universes that we’re all building. I’m going to start by assuming that you are either an established world builder or you’ve got world building dreams that are yet to manifest. Either way, one of the first explanations is how the world came into being in the first place. Later on in these posts I’ll start to introduce a world I’ll be creating from scratch and breathing life into week by week, but for now, let’s examine four ways that a reality can come to pass. This is far from being an exhaustive list and I’d love to hear if you have any suggestions to add.   1.Divine intention Most world religions attribute the creation of the universe to divine intention (it’s important to note that in your reality, what a religious doctrine states, and the actual reality of the situation might be wildly divergent). A benign creator at the beginning of time creates order from chaos and breathes life into the world in their own image because…er… Here’s where we encounter a logic chasm that we have to bridge. Normally, the answer that religious doctrines come up with is that the creator god is benign and likes to do nice things, like create life. Christianity tells us that God created Eden for Adam and Eve to live in and if the original sin of disobedience hadn’t occurred, everything would basically have worked out. One of the early challenges we face if we’re going down the route of divine intervention is ‘what did the creator god do all this creating for?’ This question opens up lots of possibilities for exploring an otherwise two dimensional entity and it enables us to begin to shape the world, the theology and pantheon of other deities if we wish to create them. Was it: Vanity: did the creator god want to shape the universe in their own image for reasons of pride? Obligation: did the creator god owe their siblings in the divine pantheon a few favours and have to create worlds for them to rule? Trickster: Did a Loki or Annansi trickster dupe the otherwise omniscient creator god into creating a physical universe for them to get up to all manner of mischief in? Interstellar Maginot Line: Did the creator god create planets, stars and galaxies as a vast belt to hold back some unspeakable evil? These questions are important because their answers will shape every aspect of the reality the characters in your world experience, even if they have no idea exactly how the universe came into being.  
  1. Divine accident
We assume that gods, by their nature are perfect and infallible, even though much of our own mythology suggests otherwise. The god of the Old Testament is vengeful and jealous, Zeus is a philandering patriarch who schemes against his wife to hide his infidelities, Odin gave away one eye for wisdom but is exists in his own plots and plans. These are gods with very human frailties (we imagined them, so duh), and one thing that humans by their nature can’t concieve of is infalibility. We have no frame of reference for what perfection looks like and a mortal meeting a perfect entity like a god might discover that its supreme logic could be cold and brutal or, if benign, almost impossible for mortals to fathom. What if there was a god who, whilst ordering the universe discovered that unfortunately the universe itself wasn’t completely capable of being ordered? What if there was a god that tried to make a world of perfection and failed? Could the god of the Old Testament have accounted for the serpent? It seems as if the serpent in the Garden of Eden existed outside god’s control and essentially did its own thing, giving humans a free will and a sense of seperation from god and an awareness of their mortality and vulnerability. Everything else that happens in Christian doctrine after that are god’s attempts to offer redemption to the children of Adam and Eve. Every world needs a tiny seed of chaos inserted directly into the order so that there is dramatic tension. Because we’re dealing with foundational ideas here, the foundational creation concept that you decide will shape all the other notions you build on top of it. Here’s a quick example off the top of my head. A creator god orders a universe in a precise ‘music of the spheres’ manner, and in his vanity he assumes he is the only intelligence in his beautiful lifeless universe. He is wrong, because the great white hole of matter and energy that spews life into the cosmos also created his brother, who loved disorder and chaos. While the creator was enjoying everything he had created his brother appeared by his side and dealt him a terrible blow with a dark sword and the creator god’s blood spread across the universe bringing life to countless worlds. The now weakened creator god, no longer perfect, had to find all the life forms that were born unto him and his jealous brother, unable to create life, only to manipulate it sought to engage with these life forms too.   I think this might form the basis of a theology in the next few posts.  
  1. Mortal tinkering
You might be creating a godless universe or working on a sci fi world where epic mythologies and theological grand narratives don’t apply. Science fiction works on a different set of tropes, not the infalibility/falibility of gods, but the hubris and nemesis of man. Human beings travelling to distant worlds and prodding things they have no knowledge of underpins countless science fiction narratives. Human curiosity, vanity and ego might be the cause of your world creation event; equally there might be a creator species that either terraformed a lifeless world or created an artificial planet or structure. Civilisations higher up the Kardashev Scale that have harnessed the power of multiple stars and have spread across entire galaxies might be able to create giant structures such as Alderson Discs. At a certain level of technology and power, some of these creatures might be indistinguishable from gods themselves, or have decided for themselves that they are godlike. Are they infalible? Certainly not, and the thing they seek to tame and transform, the universe itself is beyond the control of anyone, god, mortal or supermortal. It is the wild mustang of the story, always ready to throw its rider.  
  1. Cold barren universe
You can always dispense with the creation story altogether. There is no reason why your universe needs one and can be the product of a big bang event like the one we inhabit. The focus of your narratives doesn’t have to relate to how the universe was created, just the human and non human dramas of survival within it.   Was that some awesome D&D content or what? Make sure you get our weekly lore roundup in your inbox PLUS our list of fifty awesome and mysterious trinkets to baffle and delight your players with. Download your copy here." ["post_title"]=> string(52) "In The Beginning: A Few thoughts on Creation Stories" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(51) "in-the-beginning-a-few-thoughts-on-creation-stories" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2021-02-10 21:19:46" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-02-10 21:19:46" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(29) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [29]=> object(WP_Post)#1793 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(293) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2021-02-19 11:00:20" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-02-19 11:00:20" ["post_content"]=> string(6301) "What makes magic magical? The sense of wonder, the mystery, the unknown, the knowledge that your character is privy to arcane secrets that few can hope to master. The hero’s journey from that of Luke Skywalker to Neo to Doctor Strange is one where powers and magic items are hard come by. A hero must journey within themselves for inner truth, they must become the bridge between the world of the mundane and the divine; they must be able to see the magical world that passes the rest of us dolts by. Playing a magic using character in 5th Edition is the most fun, exciting journeys that one can take in role play gaming, which begs the question as to why so many players and DMs conspire to throttle magic itself - with the magic shop.   Here’s our list of the top five worst things about having magic shops in role play games.  
  1. Shops were invented for convenience, magic should be about inconvenience. 
Ever since the birth of mass consumerism, the retailer has had one mission in mind, to make the customer’s purchasing experience as quick, simple and ideally thought free as possible. The existence of the shop or emporium is specifically to take any consideration, tension, uncertainty and drama out of the entire purchasing process. With some RPG purchases (rope, iron rations, boots), arguably the less time spent on roleplaying so much the better, as there is only so much one can gain from discussing the sturdiness of a new pair of archer’s bracers. However, when it comes to magic the acquisition of magic items through the magic shop makes acquiring items of power easy (or at least significantly easier), and drains the game of much of its challenge.        2. Player as entitled fratboy/girl Imagine if one day, bored trust fund boy Luke Skywalker decided he wanted to buy a lightsabre. His aunt and uncle had left him some money after their unfortunate incineration by the Empire and he thought he’d blow the lot on a cool new gadget. Buying things isn’t always the same as earning them, and in a role play game world, acquiring money can be a short cut that the player can take which has unfortunate outcomes for the game. What does the player learn? How does the character grow? If the answer to the first question is ‘that money really is the most powerful thing in the world and the sooner we all stop complaining and accept that the better’, then it’s probably time to crash a meteorite into your game world and start again. Of course Luke Skywalker, King Arthur and Aragorn didn’t but their swords, they were given them by the force of destiny itself. Thor in Avengers: Infinity War, makes his own magic weapon and to do so travels on a quest, nearly dies and almost avenges his brother. The acquiring of powerful items becomes a key plot device and it means that because the item was hard to acquire, it was valued more.          3.One of a kind?  The closest thing you have in your life to a magic item is your smart phone. It runs using invisible forces (battery power, mobile network, internet) and gives you the ability to do things that would have seemed fantastical only a generation ago. The difference between an extraordinary item like a phone and a magic ring or cloak is partly to do with the uniqueness of the latter. Galadriel’s ring was not mass produced, it was unique and part of a limited edition series created by Sauron. If magic item shops exist, it makes sense to assume that their shelves are full and are replenished periodically by the magic item wholesaler, who in turn gets rings, cloaks, hats and wands from the magic item factory. Objects are shorn of their uniqueness when there are lots of them and of their specialness when they’re easy to get.        4. Magic as part of the everyday When magical items can be purchased in a shop on a high street, it means that the relationship that people in the fantasy world have with magic has to fundamentally alter. A magic shop has to be as familiar as a butchers, and therefore part of the everyday functioning of a society. In the Harry Potter stories, Harry leaves the mundane world altogether, which is the only place where magic is out of the ordinary and steps into a world where everything is enchanted. Because the reader sees the world through the eyes of a newcomer, we see magic as something to be uncovered and explored. Imagine the book from the perspective of Ron Weasley. When everything is magical, nothing as magical, and enchanted items become another handy technology, which then starts to recreate the world we already live in.         5. Players want magic shops, but they don’t Giving players exactly what they say they want is a quick way to throttling the game. Players might say they want access to items that will defeat their enemies and solve their problems, all under one roof at competitive prices, but they don’t. Not really. How can we be so sure of this? Because players play D&D for the same reason they watch Avengers: Infinity War, or The Empire Strikes Back, or The Fellowship of the Ring. They play and watch to become immersed in the story, and each story is really the story of the hero’s journey, the quest to overcome adversity and to solve problems. Magic shops are adventure killers, which is why Luke Skywalker, Thor, Aragorn or Jon Snow never go to one.   Was that some awesome D&D content or what? Make sure you get our weekly lore roundup in your inbox PLUS our list of fifty awesome and mysterious trinkets to baffle and delight your players with. Download your copy here.  " ["post_title"]=> string(53) "Top Five Most Annoying Things About ‘Magic Shops’" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(47) "top-five-most-annoying-things-about-magic-shops" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2021-02-10 21:18:30" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-02-10 21:18:30" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(29) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [30]=> object(WP_Post)#1794 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(290) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2021-02-18 11:00:16" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-02-18 11:00:16" ["post_content"]=> string(6302) "Arius Holdt’s face is an inscrutable mask, he learned long ago that his emotions were his greatest weakness and would betray him to his enemies; Arius Holdt has some very dangerous enemies. He lives and works at the heart of the great Library of Harenis, where, to his fellow scholars and archivists, he is a mystery. Nobody is ever quite sure what Arius is looking for in the vast archives and stacks of the library, but he definitely seems to be driven to find something.   

From Skaris to Harenis

  Arius is a Skarisi by birth and has managed to mask his accent successfully, though some of his more astute colleagues have guessed he has a Skarisian background. Skaris is the paranoic theocracy of the Arclands, a walled city in the heart of the Blackbriar Forest, whose rulers believe it is the source of all spiritual authority across the continent of Aestis. Skaris eyes other cities with intense suspicion and punishes traitors and heretics mercilessly.   Arius was originally a master of the Perendian Dycrit, a secretive chamber of Skarisian religious knowledge, where monstrous experiments were permitted by the city’s founders. The Dycrits were unlike any other aspect of Skarisian society, and were able to cross boundaries that most Skarisi were completely unaware of. Arius and other members of these secretive organisations swore an oath not to use the secrets they uncovered for their own ends, but ultimately the lure of forbidden power was too much for Arius, who spoke with a mysterious and cunning entity from the realm known as the Red Waste, which called itself Nalmut.   The Perendians had attempted to create a map of known dimensional doorways, after spying on the cartographic order, the Carathenes. They were far less cautious than the Carathene Order and did not understand that by finding and observing a doorway, one could cause it to open. They also failed to understand that powerful entities on the other side could sense when an opportunity to cross over presented itself. The creature Nalmut sought out the highly intelligent but flawed Arius, knowing that he was weak and vulnerable to the creature’s beguiling words. At first all Arius heard was a whisper in the dark, cold chambers and cells of the Perendian Crypts, but slowly he began to realise something was speaking to him, calling him, enticing him with an offer. After days of this relentless voice, Arius, on the edge of his sanity called back, demanding that the voice show itself, and in doing so he fell into the Nalmut’s trap; his words opened a door into Arius’s chambers from the blistering, choking Red Waste and Nalmut, a grinning fanged mouth etched from fire and surrounded by a thousand burning, shifting eyes, introduced itself.   Terrified, Arius collapsed to his knees and shook uncontrollably in front of his guest, who told him that his veneration of the Aruhvian god, The Keeper was at an end. Nalmut would now be his master, and Arius would be his eyes in the Mortal Realm, and would serve whatever purposes wished. Nalmut told Arius that he had lived the wrong life in the Dycrit, and that he had something within him an ‘akarue’ (which after research, Arius realised was an Old Vannic word for ‘sacred spark’). It was this akarue that Nalmut was most interested in, and he left a helper, a creature called Falwynd, which chose the form of a salamander to help guide Arius. With that, Nalmut vanished and Arius was gripped with a new fear; he knew that Skaris, a city of watchers and whisperers would not be safe for him. The city’s inquisitors, the Skargoline, could were feared precisely for their ability to see the slightest wavering of faith in the eyes of those they patrolled. With help from Falwynd, Arius escaped through the city’s storm drains and into the wild and dangerous Blackbriar Forest. Arius discovered his power, the ‘akarue’ that Nalmut spoke of, when he was drawn to a hidden Spellforge in the forest and created a spell he called Light Surge, which dazzled and blinded the malevolent creatures of the forest, the Blackbriar Fey.    After years of hiding and evading the Skargoline, who search for him endlessly, Arius has now found a hiding place in the great Library of Harenis, where he searches endlessly for a book called the Lynykari, which contains something of immense value for Nalmut. His master urges him to delve ever deeper into the darkness of the library and Arius emerges from the darkened districts of the vast city sized archive ever closer to madness each time.   

Adventure Hook: 

The PCs are hired by a wealthy merchant called Losian Kaas, to kidnap Arius Holdt, and they are told that he is former servant of the Kaas who has lost his mind and needs to be brought back to safety from the Library of Harenis. Losian Kaas is in reality Master Sorian Dacah, Skargoline interrogator, who wishes to plunge Arius into the darkest dungeons of Skaris and to torture him until he reveals his connection with Nalmut. Dacah intends to kill the PCs when they deliver Arius, but can’t risk the Skargoline being caught directly meddling in the affairs of Harenis and its library. The PCs find Arius, just as he is about to find the Lynykari, a book that will give Nalmut much more power and influence in the Mortal Realm. Once the book is discovered, Nalmut sends its own minions to retrieve it.   Was that some awesome D&D content or what? Make sure you get our weekly lore roundup in your inbox PLUS our list of fifty awesome and mysterious trinkets to baffle and delight your players with. Download your copy here." ["post_title"]=> string(28) "NPC of the Week: Arius Holdt" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(27) "npc-of-the-week-arius-holdt" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2021-02-10 21:19:02" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-02-10 21:19:02" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(29) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [31]=> object(WP_Post)#1795 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(284) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2021-02-15 10:30:48" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-02-15 10:30:48" ["post_content"]=> string(7556) "   Scholastic cities can be amazing places to establish campaigns around. They are centres of learning and lore, where obscure secrets, forgotten ideas and buried truths can only be uncovered by wise and dedicated characters. They offer a chance to investigate the past and the present and can direct players towards new quests. In the Arclands setting, the scholastic city of Harenis is the nearest thing Aestians have to our world’s great library of Alexandria. It is a pristine white marble city built offshore on an atoll, battered by frequent monsoons. Fifty miles inland is the great Library of Harenis, which is contained inside a mountain chamber and is itself the size of a city. You can find out more about Harenis from the links in this article, but below is a list of ten items you can find in a Harenian library (feel free to adapt these to your own campaigns too).
  • Ratheker oil
Ratheker oil  (pictured above) is a pungent substance used in burial rituals across the Arclands. It is normally dripped on the eyelids of the deceased, in order that the tranquility, which is said to be a property of the oil, seeps into the body where the sleeping soul resides. The oil then helps to transport the deceased on their journey to the afterlife, or so it is believed. Ratheker oil can also be used in many other ways, some scholars inhale it in order to plunge themselves into deathlike trances where they have access to knowings that are far beyond anything the conscious mind can understand. A jar of Ratheker oil in the study of a scholar or sage is a powerful clue that its owner has experimented with radical and forbidden ways of acquiring knowledge and might not be all that they seem.
  • Marliks orb
The craftsman Odrean Marlik of the Dures Road in Arc eventually went mad creating works of such extraordinary beauty, and in his life he made twenty seven orbs which collectors seek and will pay a high price for. To the untrained eye, the orb is simply a glass sphere, but inside, Marlik has etched almost indecipherable sigils into the crystal itself. When the orb is held up to the setting sun, the crystal within the orb shimmers as if gold dust were trapped in suspension and the sigil is momentarily visible. It is rumoured that the words have a great power and are in the lost language of Old Vannic. Some collectors seeking all twenty seven orbs have been driven insane by the quest, just as Marlik himself was.
  • Solunite candles
The Solunites are warrior monks who live in deep caves in the depths of the Kheyun Marshes. They are also the makers of extraordinary candles which have a luminescence unmatched by any other type of candle in Aestis. The wax is suffused with the sap of the Agwaera, a tall black tree that grows underground and which gives off a pale blue light from its leaves, feeding all manner of strange creatures in the dark of the caves where the Solunites live. 
  • Del’Marahan silk robes
Del’Marahan silk is unmatched in quality anywhere across the Arclands. The wearer of these robes is a person of immense taste and refinement and one who has probably not been adventuring in many years. 
  • Firg cane
The Firg are the greatest craftsmen in Aestis, a giant folk whose understanding of weapon smithing is unmatched. Whilst they rarely make weapons specifically for humans, when they do, the result is both functional and beautiful. The Firg cane resembles a three foot carved white wooden walking cane, but it conceals a slender, razor sharp blade. Instead of drawing the weapon from a sheath, the blade swings open, similar to a pocket knife. The weapon can be used either as a sword when opened at 180 degrees or a scythe when it is opened at 90 degrees. 
  • Hothian harp
If Harenis is the intellect of Aestis, Hothis is its soul. The city is where skalds, poets and minstrels find their deepest inspiration, and a harp from Hothis has often been played by some of the greatest musicians in the world. It is rumoured that Hothian harps are more than simply musical instruments, and instead they are a way of keeping secrets. Some have been known to be enchanted, and if the right strings are plucked in the right order, a message or a vision that is kept within the harp itself is revealed to the harpist. 
  • Carathene maps
The Carathene Monks are an order who saw it as their task to map the known world, in order to pay homage to the Keeper, the god they imagined created the world of Hermia. The maps your players might find, however, could bear no resemblance to anywhere in Hermia at all. In fact, they might look like somewhere that could or should not exist at all. 
  • Hostari water skins
Some scholars do leave the confines of their chambers periodically, and whilst travelling overland, few items are as useful as the robust Hostari water skin. The riders of the Hostar Plains drape them over their saddles and the cured leather preserves water for longer than any other receptacle.
  • Dranian armour
Dranians do not give up their armour lightly, the breastplate, greaves, shield and hauberk of the warlike city of Dran, known also as the ‘Hammer of the East’, suggest something intriguing about their owner. Some Dranian warriors after many years of conflict have been known to hang up their sword eventually and retire to a scholastic life, finding meaning in knowledge, not conquest. 
  • Swithick snout
Harenian scholars are often heavy pipe smokers and will import tobacco from across the continent. Sometimes heavy, aromatic brakkha (cigars) from Del’Marah are found in a Harenian study, but often the cheaper but no less addictive Swithick snout. The blue smoke of the pipe tobacco often combines with the parchment dust to create a thick ‘scriveners smog’ in the libraries of Harenis.    Was that some awesome D&D content or what? Make sure you get our weekly lore roundup in your inbox PLUS our list of fifty awesome and mysterious trinkets to baffle and delight your players with. Download your copy here." ["post_title"]=> string(47) "Ten things you might find in a Harenian Library" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(47) "ten-things-you-might-find-in-a-harenian-library" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2021-02-15 11:19:29" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-02-15 11:19:29" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(29) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [32]=> object(WP_Post)#2188 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(275) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2021-02-01 12:35:24" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-02-01 12:35:24" ["post_content"]=> string(1967) "Not all Mondays are as exciting as today! In September we decided that the next chapter in the Arclands story was ready to be written and we have been lost in a realm of imaginings ever since (actually, that basically sums up the last five years, but I think you get the point). When we wrote Arclands: The Spellforgers Companion, we began with a world that had been disrupted by a terrible crisis. The collapse of the one god, the Keeper and the subsequent flow of magic back into the world had devastated and transformed Hermia and created spellcasters and magic mutants. We wanted to tell a much bigger story with The Book of the Graces, and explain a bit more about what had led to the Sundering, who the Keeper really was and most importantly, how his celestial servants, The Graces, fitted into the multiverse The Keeper had created. The Celestial Realm, like everything else in the Arclands universe, is broken and mortal visitors there will find no trace of the god that once ruled it. The palaces, temples and fortresses once inhabited by the Graces either stand empty or have been inhabited by mortals who now seek to colonise the realm themselves. The warmth and plenty of Celestium has been replaced by fear and cold as the energy that once flowed from the Keeper himself dissipates. Travellers rely on giant birds, once beloved of the Graces, the Raptors, to travel long distances between great floating islands called Losivaa. We're excited to announce the launch of our playtest group, and we're inviting Arclanders to join today to test out the four new character origins that we will be including in the book. We are also testing our Raptor Mechanic, the Arclands avian combat system, and we're throwing in a free one-shot adventure set in the realm for everyone. To take part and help shape the future of Arclands, join us here." ["post_title"]=> string(34) "The Book of the Graces Kickstarter" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(34) "the-book-of-the-graces-kickstarter" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2021-02-01 19:52:55" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-02-01 19:52:55" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(29) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [33]=> object(WP_Post)#2189 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(211) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "2" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2021-01-14 22:03:34" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-01-14 22:03:34" ["post_content"]=> string(251) "Welcome to the Arclands Blog! We will be populating this space very soon with lore, items, articles and more! In the meantime, we have a video teaser for 2021. Watch this space!" ["post_title"]=> string(12) "What's this?" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(10) "whats-this" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2021-01-14 22:15:40" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-01-14 22:15:40" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(29) "" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } }