in the Shadow of Greatness

:: Zelazny :: [polish] :: sparks that fly from the ironsmith's hammer ::

::. Friday, August 29 .::

The Core Worlds: Villains
sweet reference work here in this answer...

:: Arref Mak 29.8.03 :: link ::
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WISH 62: My Favorite Villains
Describe three of your favorite villains from campaigns you’ve played in or GMed. What makes them good villains? Why are they your favorites?
Prince Brand of Amber: because he's dead. It's a very important notion that PCs risk things. Maybe reputation, or bodily harm, or even humiliation. In some games, the bigger the daring, the more fun folks have playing those characters. Brand is dead. And dead, he is a shining placemarker for risk and consequence. Pay attention younglings, Even Brand Died. And some folks died making sure he died. And some almost died helping. Big Bads can be pulled down, whatever the cost.

Part of Amber's 'charm' for me as a story is that immortals will die if that's what it takes.

The Nameless Enemy, It: because it is a tactically weak, unimaginative opponent who cannot be destroyed, is relentless and will never stop trying to destroy you (Eternal City campaign.) Defeat It a thousand times and it will return. Give up just once, and It may win everything. Why is that good, especially with what I just said about Brand? Cosmologically speaking, the Enemy is a binding force for the entire canvas of my Amber campaign. Anyone siding with the Enemy is deluded, mad, or just incredibly uninformed. The Enemy isn't even evil in the sense of moral philosophy. The universe (including morality) wouldn't exist if not for the Enemy, yet it can't continue to exist if the Enemy undoes the 'mistake' of sentient life. The Enemy is corrosive and a real test of Character stamina and purpose. The Enemy is also something of a major secret, a Thing that literally cannot 'see' you if you don't understand what It is. The complexity of the Enemy, and its purpose in unmaking the universe is an icon for the complexity and contradictions of Amber and its metaphysical integrity. The Enemy is my tribute to Zelazny--and in a completely self-referential way--the existence of the Enemy makes everything in Zelazny's story about Amber make even more sense in spite of the narrative contradictions.

For Players, it also draws a line which is clear once you experience it in-game. There is a Thing out there vastly horrible and completely uncaring of your continued existence. Something that once you see it, you are forever changed and eternally endangered. Everything is natural compared to It. Your worst enemy is a mild obstacle compared to It. Even more, you and your worst enemy are on the same side compared to It.

The best part? If you are vigilant and never stop caring--- It will always lose.

Finally, a tossup--I'm tempted to just tell you all about Orcus again, but I've done that even though it's a great excuse to link back to that answer. What I liked about dear Orcus would be easy to tell if I had an hour--he was a villain--but one who I found myself helping on more than one occasion. Instead I will do one more of my own villains:

Tiamat, Queen of Dragons: daughter to gods, mother of her race, and love of her two brothers, Tiamat was an essential part of the Second Age of my D&D campaign. She was once young, beautiful and a proponent of Neutrality. But thousands of years later, in the Age of Mortals she had become an evil and dangerously mad leader of all vile and corrupted dragons. More to the point, she had been one of the early victims of that corruption.

Her story was romantic, harsh, full of promise and utterly compelling on some personal level. Tiamat was still in love with her brothers. One known to mortals as Lek'Ronnik, the King of Good Dragons, the other less well-known by modern races, the Prince of Bloodstar, Talisman. The three semi-divine beings were the progenitors of the race of Dragons.

The scale of the campaign was such that PCs did not really associate with such lofty persons as Tiamat. Just meeting one of the ancient dragons of her personal court was a scary business. Yet over time, because of the twists and turns of the PCs' stories, matters concerning the Second Age came to be important to some of the PCs.

And most interestingly, the PCs discovered that the pained relationship between the three proto-dragons was a living thing. Something that drew them back together over and over despite the years and differences between them. This was not just ancient history--it was an ongoing nightmare.

Actually, I don't think I can do justice to how noble, sad, and complex the feelings were-- I'll cut to the chase.

One day, a PC got a formal note from the Queen of Dragons. "You are hereby invited for tea at the Court of Tiamat. Please reply." And the PC understood that this note was a very high honor, and also meant: "I know you have been having an affair with my brother. Prepare to die." The only woman to ever return from one of these teas had been insane ever since. Six others had never been seen again.

The blood literally ran out of the PC's face. Yeah, that was a good one.

:: Arref Mak 29.8.03 :: link ::
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::. Thursday, August 28 .::

tragic glass :: ADVENTURE!
five scenarios/worlds to explore!

...and so I'll add some to the pile--they will seem redundant beside Chris' stuff:

Asskickers of the Fantastic
Once you were a mortal. Not anymore. Not since you died. The world however is becoming overrun with Fantastic Abberations like the one that killed you.

Isis doesn't like the direction things are taking. She's pulled strings. Now you're back in the land of the living, your one geas: kick ass! Your only comrades: Asskickers of the Fantastic!

the League of Extraordinary GentleMonsters
The darkness in the world was almost gone. A few noble souls around the globe toiled for decades and succeeded in cutting low the masterminds of evil. Now a new generation inherits a better world.... until an improbable series of events starts a war that engulfs all of civilization. France and Germany are the center of the battlefield. Most of the world is taking sides. Weapons of this new war are taking lives at unimagined levels--

What single event triggered it? Brought the darkness roaring up out of the trenches of the Bloody World War?

Now France is a wasteland with a few scattered souls hiding from the dark. Germany is largely uninhabited except by the undead.
Holmes is an old man now, but he knows many things. From his wheelchair, he telegrams to distant corners of the globe for those few Gentle Monsters that were never trusted enough to join the side of Good.
He has sent for you.

:: Arref Mak 28.8.03 :: link ::
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tragic glass :: A Dozen Games That Don't Exist But Should
oh, he's good--
very good

:: Arref Mak 28.8.03 :: link ::
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The Forge :: View topic - Adventure! First Session.
fab crazy 1920s adventure notes by GM
tip from Doyce

:: Arref Mak 28.8.03 :: link ::
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Deb's Historical Research Page
this cool page from Doyce

:: Arref Mak 28.8.03 :: link ::
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Sci Fi Wire :: Angel :: new season tease

:: Arref Mak 28.8.03 :: link ::
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::. Wednesday, August 27 .::

The "Roll the Bones" Forum seems to have vanished. Maybe temporary.
Not Temporary.

:: Arref Mak 27.8.03 :: link ::
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::. Tuesday, August 26 .::

This Tragic Glass
comments and actual game seeds for games to be run or not
Chris Kindred is a Gypsy King of game ideas
go take a gander

:: Arref Mak 26.8.03 :: link ::
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Brown paper packages tied up with string
A few of my favorite fonts
(complete means it has most characters, numbers and punctuation, many free fonts do not)

Ysgarth English :: complete : for severe formal condensed hand
Willow :: complete : slightly runic or 'prarie style', very readable
Warlock :: complete : chiseled condensed severe almost modern

Twylite Zone :: complete : shattered look
Tengwar Quenya :: complete : unreadable must have for arcane scribble
Sumdumgoi :: hip asian style

Still Time :: sharp fast modern snappy
Stagecoach :: nice western look without excess
Spirit Medium :: very nice modern with art deco feel

Skreech :: odd but readable serif font with alt.universe character
Sirona :: complete : must have serif font in inked style
Scurlock :: sloppy ink serif with old distressed look

Samw :: sanskrit letters beautiful for Chaos Thari
Roughbrush :: hand ink style good for quick notes from royal relatives
Rivanna :: complete : fluid hand 'prarie style'

Pristina :: hand ink style great for personal notes from royal relatives
Porcelain :: scratchy ink style good for quick notes from royal relatives
Pepsi :: hand ink style

Papyrus :: complete : must have hand letter style
Modred :: complete : good for casual serif style with exaggerated capitals
Mistral :: complete : modern ink hand in quick style

Marmyadose :: elegant serif (used for EGB stylings)
Freehand 575 BT :: complete : very readable ink script
Freebooter script :: complete : for anything like colonial hand

Flat Earth Scribe :: bold brash brush style
First Order :: complete : brush style with ink dots
ElGar :: complete : brush style with exaggerated capitals

electroharmonix :: asian SF style (think Matrix)
durango-normal :: complete : excellent old west letters for Texorami wanted posters
dateline :: complete : if you need a typewriter font for telegrams and such

caltek :: elegant thin serif with lots of curl
bridgnorth :: cross between celtic and gothic serif with exaggerated capitals
American typewriter :: complete : comes light-medium-condensed styles (three files)

alchemist :: cluttered but readable
Agathodaimon :: unreadable but interesting arcane shapes
Abaddon :: sickle shaped letters and small caps

:: Arref Mak 26.8.03 :: link ::
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::. Monday, August 25 .::

Summer draws so quickly to close. Hope everyone enjoys this last week. House continues to look more like house. Now have drapes/blinds on half the windows. Construction punch list down to half remaining items.

:: Arref Mak 25.8.03 :: link ::
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