Archiv des Autors: belchion

#AtoZ: N is for Nadir

This post belongs to the #AtoZchallenge 2024, where I attempt to turn a word a day into something that can be used in Role Playing Games.

A nadir is a low or downward point of reference, the opposite of a zenith. It can also mean a real or figurative low-point, the lowest measurement or lowest geographic location (for example the Nadir Crater at the bottom of the ocean). It also exists as acronym for Network Anomaly Detection and Intrusion Reporter, and intrusion detection system. Sometimes it is (wrongly) translated as „Vanishing point at Infinity“ in German. There was also a tribe called Banu Nadir, but the name only sounds the same in English, it has nothing to do with the word otherwise.

How to integrate it into your typical fantasy RPG?

  • A nadir could be a riddle in a dungeon, a place with a treasure that can only be indirectly observed, and only entered indirectly – to walk in, you have not to walk in.
  • A nadir could also be the core of the dungeon – the place most distant from the natural world.
  • It could be a cursed tribe that, despite its wealth, require indirect means to interact with. They cannot be seen (except in reflections), they cannot be heard (except as echo, or perhaps only when referring to the approached in third-person), and they cannot give or take (unless „leaving“ something and not checking again, or by sliding it away at an angle).
  • It could be the name of a castle of a God of the Depths.

#AtoZ: M is for Mead

This post belongs to the #AtoZchallenge 2024, where I attempt to turn a word a day into something that can be used in Role Playing Games.

Mead is an alcoholic beverage based on fermented honey. Nowadays it is mostly associated with vikings, but used to be a rather common drink all over Europe up to the Middle Ages, as well as in India and Ethiopia. It might have even been known in China.

It was often considered something connected to the sacral world of the gods, as producing mead is more expensive than producing wine or beer. It thus was used in festivities that celebrated peace treaties or alliances. Mythologically, the Mead of poetry was said to turn any drinker into a sage and a poet (and, of course, Odin drank it).

How to integrate it into your typical fantasy RPG?

  • A Mead of Tongues, a mead brewed by two brewers who speak different languages. Anyone who drinks from this mead is able to speak and understand both of the brewer’s languages.
  • A cursed Mead of Bees. Anyone who drinks it will forthwith be considered an enemy by all honey-producing insects.
  • Mead could be an important ingredient in certain rituals, and gods of merrymaking, invention or the like need adventurers to gain this special mead from a faraway place.

#AtoZ: L is for Lychgate

This post belongs to the #AtoZchallenge 2024, where I attempt to turn a word a day into something that can be used in Role Playing Games.

I was very tempted to take laminal as entry for L, but a Lychgate already is a fantasy element available in the real world, so I went with that instead.

A Lychgate is basically just a covered gateway to a graveyard. It was used to store the recently deceased between death and burial, plus a place for relatives that guard the corpse from bodysnatchers. But oh my, was that place loaded with superstition! I do not even need to come up with own ideas, the existing ones are already more than sufficient for any campaign.

How to integrate it into your typical fantasy RPG?

  • The ghost of the last corpse has to guard the gateway until the next corpse arrives. This resulted in fisticuffs among their living relatives who gets to be buried first.
  • As a portal between consecrated and unconsecrated space, „the veil between worlds was thin there“ and allowed easy conjurations.
  • They were used for social gathering and peddling, as they offered shelter from both weather (the roof) and evil spirits (just take one step to get to consecrated ground).

#AtoZ: K is for Kraal

This post belongs to the #AtoZchallenge 2024, where I attempt to turn a word a day into something that can be used in Role Playing Games.

A Kraal can be a lot of things, as the word was coined by foreigners to describe somewhat similar looking concepts in Southern Africa first and had its meaning change later on top of it. This probably causes ethnographers and historians headaches, but makes the concept more easily creatively abused.

In the most specific definition, a kraal is simply an animal pound in the middle of a settlement. It can also describe the whole settlement, as well as the society within. It could also mean a royal residence. In any case, it consisted of a palisade of thorny bushes on a hill, similar to how hamlets were defended in the North European Plain (The Hague, capital of the Netherlands, got its name from this tradition). Placement within a Kraal was usually strictly determined according to social status, the nearer to the entrance, the lower your status.

To confuse matters completely, a Kraal can also be a kind of fish trap, where fish can easily enter, but not leave (quite the opposite for what the other Kraals do).

How to integrate it into your typical fantasy RPG?

  • Thorny hedges would fit well as defenses for gnomish or elvish settlements, as they can be easily blended in with the environment.
  • It could be a one way tunnel in a dungeon, that can be easily passed in, but is really difficult to get out of – perhaps a drow or duergar uses it to trap adventurers in his arena.
  • The concept of social stratification translates well to typical dungeons, where the most powerful inhabitants also live the furthest from any entrance, while the weakest inhabitants live closer to the entrance.
  • To turn the idea of an animal compound on its head, it could very well be a place which an animal spirit built to defend its kin from humans.

#AtoZ: J is for Juniper

This post belongs to the #AtoZchallenge 2024, where I attempt to turn a word a day into something that can be used in Role Playing Games.

Juniper is a tree family, best known for its berries which are one of the base ingredients of gin. Almost all parts of the tree are useful: the berries can be used as spice or turned into oil, the young leaves brewed as teas, the wood for bows, juniper ash as calcium additive. Some cultures use junipers to turn evil.

How to integrate it into your typical fantasy RPG?

  • Have your priests use holy gin instead of holy water for the added oomph against evil beings.
  • Use juniper as paraphernalia in rituals or protection spells.
  • Doppelginger, Flumph and similar malleable beings could be allergic against juniper due to its bone strengthening effect.

#AtoZ: I is for Iambus

This post belongs to the #AtoZchallenge 2024, where I attempt to turn a word a day into something that can be used in Role Playing Games.

The Iambus is an archaic Greek poetry genre strongly connected with the goddess Demeter and features vitriol and abuse. According to myth, it was invented by Iambe who wanted to cheer up a Demeter and told her utterly profane poems.

This kind of behaviour exists in other cults to, it is an deliberate attempt to reinforce normalcy by stressing absurdity. It usually uses blame to draw attention to dangerous or unsuitable behaviour. There were basically two schools of Iambe: one that focusses on vitriol and crassness, and one that focusses on carefully crafted poems which are a little less vulgar, but just as biting. Still, both are considered some kind of lower class poetry for the masses by distinguished poets.

How to integrate it into your typical fantasy RPG?

  • Have your super civilized toga wearers sing epic rap battles! I mean, fancy Iambic verse battles, of course.
  • Or have your typical warrior cultures like orcs or barbarians be strong in impromptu poetry, with carefully crafted insults to mock others.
  • Rituals need not necessarily be spoken in solemn voices, but might include profanity.
  • Use it as an compass that shouts profanities if you go wrong, but becomes nicer when walking where it wants you to walk.

#AtoZ: H is Heath

This post belongs to the #AtoZchallenge 2024, where I attempt to turn a word a day into something that can be used in Role Playing Games.

Today, we consider Heath an idyllic, quaint Shrubland, overgrown by Heath (that is, the rather beautifully blooming plant species Erica and Calluna). That mostly owes to a checkered history though: Heath was a poor place, where the poorest parts of society eked out an existence. It had little to offer, as soils were poor and unsuited for many crops. It was depletion, which only left shepherding and beekeeping as economic activities, that created our quaint heaths. Otherwise, it would have turned into pine forests.

Thus, heath was considered one of the archetypical places of wilderness, where one needed to beware of evil and the inhabitants were less civilized humans lived (hence the word heathens used for unbelievers in English).

The Calluna species of plants is very hardy and long lasting, thus making for good building materials.

How to integrate it into your typical fantasy RPG?

  • The Broom Gnomes: After a long war against their dwarven neighbours, the gnomes lost and their woods were cut down for mining and tooling. Now, they live a destitute life in their former woods, hiding behind their illusions to keep from enemies. They are mostly known for their broom exports, but also create shields and other material from the local heath to pay their tribute to their dwarven overlords, against whom they still hold a grudge.
  • Elves could be interested in heath, which is a durable wood, but know fully well that only depletion causes their large-scale growth. This causes quite a black market for heath smuggled in from human lands.
  • A sheep demon could be interested in keeping the heath, counteracting druidic attempts at renaturalization.

#AtoZ: G is for Ghawazi

This post belongs to the #AtoZchallenge 2024, where I attempt to turn a word a day into something that can be used in Role Playing Games.

The Ghawazi is a female dancer that dances traditional rural Egyptian dances in public, these dances later evolved into modern belly-dancing. They were often not danced alone, but accompanied by narration and music. Strangely enough, the word originally meant conqueror, because the dancers conquered the audiences hearts. Originally, they were not considered erotic dancers, but that changed during the 19th century.

Funny enough, belly-dancing seems to be an enormously healthly kind of sport, which improves dexterity and strength, while also relaxing the spine.

How to integrate it into your typical fantasy RPG?

  • They could be a take on the amazon society: a feared female warrior society, known for conquering wherever they please, but who in civilian life favour belly-dancing.
  • Or, of course, the warrior looks for a trainer who has him learn belly-dancing.
  • The Ghawazi could be a school of magicians specialized in charm spells.

#AtoZ: F is for Fugue

This post belongs to the #AtoZchallenge 2024, where I attempt to turn a word a day into something that can be used in Role Playing Games.

A Fugue is first and foremost a technique to compose music, where a theme is repeated in a slightly different form (akin to the Latin root of the word, which means both „to flee“ and „to chase“). One can imagine a fugue as the theme first fleeing, and then being chased by the second voice, or as a leader stressing a topic which is then echoed by his companions. There is also a psychic illness called Dissociative fugue, which consists of forgetting the own identity combined with unexpected wandering.

How to integrate it into your typical fantasy RPG?

It could be a curse that sets your adventurer back to level 1 with random proficiencies, when the curse is removed the new proficiencies (or at least XP) are added to the main class.

It could be a magic spell that allows two (or more) characters to work in tandem. As long as all of them work together and exactly copy the actions taken by the first acting character, they gain a bonus, but if their harmony is broken, they incur a penalty for the rest of the scene.

It could be magical instrument: When played, it causes fear among the enemies, but also forces at least a token amount of allies to chase them.

#AtoZ: E is for Egress

This post belongs to the #AtoZchallenge 2024, where I attempt to turn a word a day into something that can be used in Role Playing Games.

An egress is basically the right or ability to leave a place to somewhere else, so basically a fanciful way to say exit. It is mainly used in scientific terms when exit already has another mean, like for signal leakage (electromagnetic fields leaving their containment), as part of an astronomic transit (when a planet moves in front of another), and in network traffic control. It is also a grammatical case describing the act of leaving one place to reach another in certain Uralic languages.

How to integrate it into your typical fantasy RPG?

  • Chalk or coal of egress as a magic item. If you draw a door with this item, you can return to the entrance of the place you are in.
  • The chalk or coal of egress could also be (partially) cursed, only returning you to the entrance in 1 of 6 cases, while otherwise leaking you to a random spot of the structure you are in.
  • An egress filter on the other hand could be a cursed item that prevents you from leaving a place. A Remove Curse will inactivate the filter to allow you to leave once, but the Curse reactivates the next time the filter is returned to the prison. The curse can be transfered if it is freely taken by another person (that means: the person is not under influence of mind influencing drugs or magic). This filter can have any shape or consistency, but should be somewhat valuable.