Davou, Covered in Snow

Emperor Orrin Tormant’s father, the Emperor Evane Tormant II, once commissioned a painting of Davou by famed Ortian realist painter, Horas Yunara. Near the painting’s completion, Horas decried his work and destroyed it before beginning anew, creating a massive canvas depicting Davou in ruins, half buried in snow. Upon hearing this, Emperor Evane thought of how he might punish the artist with imprisonment or even death.

However, when he saw the painting, the Emperor felt a strange enchantment within the pigments which depicted the demise of his northern stronghold. He ordered the new painting to be locked away in the vaults of the palace in Gatia, only to be placed on display once the events and destruction depicted had come to pass. Horas Yunara and his family were banished from the province of Cirsova until the day his painting hung in the courts of Gatia, upon which the Emperor would abdicate and hand his crown to Yunara or any surviving heir of his line. His grandchildren are rumored to live in Ortia, where, to this day, they guardedly pray for snow.

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Alignment in MYFAROG

Though I’m sure most of you folks out there have yet to glimpse into the dark depth that is MYFAROG, discussions on the virtues of Alignment and Alignment systems are ongoing and ubiquitous throughout the gaming community. Some time ago, when I was posting my first reactions to MYFAROG, I’d mentioned briefly how alignment worked, but did not go into any details other than that it is determined by a combination of factors rather than plotted on a grid or spectrum. Well, turns out I’m a little wrong; it can be plotted on a grid, as is illustrated in this post. If anything, alignment in MYFAROG is similar to Myers-Briggs Type Indicator archetyping.

With any game system that implements an alignment system, one needs to decide if alignment is what guides and motivates the character or if alignment is the manifestation of a character’s actions. Alignment as a constraint is very unpopular in some circles, with many players simply choosing to ignore it altogether, treating it as an optional rule. But in a game like MYFAROG that focuses on social interaction, diplomacy and both the mechanical and cultural aspects of religious practice, the alignment, in some ways, IS the game.

I’ve said before that MYFAROG is an incredible world bogged down by some cumbersome stat-based rules. If I had to recommend a way to play a rules-lite “introduction” to MYFAROG, instead of discarding the non-mechanical optional rules, create characters using ONLY the the rules regarding Culture, World-view, and Alignment. Play around in the world of Thule a bit, exploring the motives and means of its inhabitants. Use some simple proxy system for combat until you decide that you want to get into the system’s crunchier aspects.

Mr. Pants

I recently fell into a fey mood and felt the desperate need to:

Play Oblivion

a.As a Khajit

i. Named Mr. Pants
ii. Dressed in the finest imperial fashions

b.Who is a lordly swashbuckler

i. using ONLY a Cutlass
ii. wearing NO Armor (see also dressed in the finest imperial fashion)

c.Leveling up only when necessary

i. Stupid Anvil Mage’s guild quest
ii. Stupid Dark Brotherhood
iii. Stupid Dark Brotherhood
iv. Stupid whatever is going to make me level up next

I wish there were an “unarmored” skill like in Morrowind. Eventually I’ll probably enchant my fancy clothes for some shield bonus. Meantime, I’m trying to stay ‘under-leveled’ to where I can handle just about anything with only my blade to defend me.

Davou

Davou sits at the crossroads of the north and sees through its gates the great shipments of crystals coming from the east, Gatlian trade goods return from the west. The road south leads to Gatia and all the empire beyond.

Davou quarters the Northernmost legion of the Cirsovan empire, though it is a shadow of the force that subjugated Ungoza. There has been no conflict in the region for over a century, and the task of quelling piracy and brigandage has fallen to the local barons. The only threats to Cirsova’s north are the encroaching snows and the radical political experiment brewing in Gatlia. Only one of these might bring the legion to bare, though only a few truly brazen members of the aristocracy would even breathe suggestion of sorts.

Presently, Davou prospers greatly from the trade road it sits upon and generates sizable revenue from the many warehouses within its walls. Additionally, it receives its own skim of imperial tax receipts collected from Ungoza and Gatlia.

Davou is also home to a travelling troupe of performers, the Wagons of Mystery, which often travels along the Long Road behind large merchant caravans, putting on elaborate plays and strange feats of daring in the towns along the road. During the colder seasons, when merchants are less frequent, the troupe stays in one of the dingier corners of Davou, trying out new talent, developing new routines, and occasionally offering private performances for those lucky enough to receive a writ of invitation.

Adventurers who wish to visit Jorgora may set out north from Davou, following the corridor between the  Gatlian Mountains and western forests of Ungoza. It is, however, a difficult journey with no roads, markers or wayrests, and most are disappointed to find nothing but a large, sometimes snow-covered hillock.

The Dungeons & Dragons Movie (and Why the “Rights” Dispute is Stupid)

Why is it significant that there are now talks about Warner Brothers making a Dungeons & Dragons movie? And now Hasbro is claiming that they have a deal with Universal.

First, I’d like to put forward the incredibly heathen idea that the first Dungeons & Dragons movie is not as terrible as most people say it was. When I saw it in theaters ages ago, it was just me, my mom (I was 16), and some fatbeard. While it was not remarkable or amazing, it was fairly entertaining, I enjoyed it well enough. After the movie, the fatbeard went on about how horrible it was and how they got everything from D&D wrong and such. Now, given further retrospect, I know one thing to be true and another highly likely to be true: Dungeons & Dragons was one of the better movies Marlon Wayans has been in and if the Dungeons & Dragons movie had be called “Final Fantasy” and Final Fantasy: Spirits Within had been called anything else, there would be a lot less butthurt nerds in the world.

Okay, that’s out of the way.

D&D is the Kleenex of the RPG world, at least as far as non-gamers or casual gamers are concerned. To the non-gaming world, playing any sort of tabletop roleplaying game that isn’t LARP fodder is “Playing D&D”. However, the OSR movement has made this true among gamers as well. “Playing D&D” can mean playing Labyrinth Lord, OSRIC, Basic Fantasy Roleplaying, Castles & Crusades, Swords & Wizardry, Blueholme, or Lamentations of the Flame Princess, or, god forbid, actual, literal, published by the company that also gave us Littlest Pet Shop, Dungeons & Dragons! And really, those Retro-Clones pretty much are Dungeons & Dragons, with the name replaced and a handful of writers’ favorite homebrew mechanics and pet rules codified. For awhile, I was really confused about what Pathfinder was, but oh, hey, turns out it’s Dungeons & Dragons.

So, why bother with fighting over the Dungeons & Dragons name & licence for a movie? Clearly the gaming community has moved beyond caring whether the trademark name is slapped across something. They already know what’s up. Anyone could make a Dungeons & Dragons movie pretty much the same way anyone can make a Dungeons & Dragons retro-clone: strip out the names and product identity. Everything else can be done with a wink and a nod. Don’t call your movie Dungeons & Dragons and don’t base it on published books and settings. Fill it with dangers, monsters, magic, and, of course, dragons. Give your wizards Vancian magic and familiar spells (“Magic missile!”). It’s cool. We’ll know it’s Dungeons & Dragons.  But you can stick a copy of the OGL in the credits if you must.