Friday, September 19, 2014

A Little More About Elves

With my first session of my face-to-face 5e game in the Land of Azurth coming up this weekend, I've had a few more thoughts about the elves in Yanth (which is timely, given than one on more of my players will probably play one).

High Elves (as they are called in the PHB) reflect reflect the most civlized elvish group. They tend to live apparent from humans and the little folk (halflings, dwarves, some gnomes) that are associated with them. They tend to live in small settlements, maybe centered around fanciful, fairytale sort of castles (something like the Vadhagh in Moorcock's Swords Trilogy). They dress in pseudo-"High Medieval" sort of dress (a couple of centuries behind other folk) and talk in the sort of cod-Shakespearean way that Thor used to in Marvel Comics.

Wood Elves are more primitive than their high elf cousins. They're half The Hobbit's wood elves and half Elfquest. Part "indigenous people in harmony with nature", part "fairy forest trickster." The Elfquest elves, the Rankin-Bass wood elves, and Moebius's concept art for Willow are all good visual inspiration. They probably have a similar speech pattern to the high elves, but maybe with a little more Robin Hood banter.

As the pictures might indicate, elves won't be universally physically attractive--but they all have the fae glamour about them.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Places of Note in Yanth

Apiaria: The Hive City of the Bee Folk and center of the domain of their Queen, Melitta XLI. Relations between the humans of Yanth and the bee folk have been pleasant but formal for some time. Wealthy Rivertown folk imbue an antiaging tonic made from bee folk royal jelly.

Castle Machina: Just outside of Rivertown, an old castle is the workshop-palace of the Clockwork Princess Viola I of Yanth. The barracks, sheds, and small laboratories around it are known as "Mechanicstown" and house the tinker gnomes and others that assist the Princess.

The Enchanted Wood: An ancient and dense forest north of Rivertown where the plant and animal life encountered is very often capable of speech. It is said to be the domain of an old and eccentric druid.

The Great Standing Stone Sages: A circle of eight monolithic stone heads in which reside the intellects of great sages of a past age. Their names and their scholarly specialties are: Whindbog the Historian, Blathrur the Astronomer, Pomphus the Philologist, Laangvynd the Geographer, Eggedd the Scientist, Baombast the Physician, Drohninon the Mathematician, and Nowhitaul the Theologian. These learned minds may be consulted by touching their respective stone, allowing telepathic communication as long as the contact is maintained. They will answer questions put to them, though they tend to do so with a degree of irritation and condescension.

Horologopolis: A subkingdom in the Country of Yanth where many aspects of the lives of its citizenry are predetermined at birth by extensive application of the astrological and numerologic sciences. Horoscopes are prepared and zealously tracked and rechecked through a citizen’s lifetime by the great tabulating engines controlled by the Master Time Keeper, a giant, many-armed construct with a head like a clock face. Those who stray from their appointed role or seek to alter their fate in significant ways are corrected by his agents, the more humanoid, but likewise clockfaced, Watchmen.

Rivertown: Largest city in Yanth, at the confluence of the Yellow and Flint Rivers. It's a center for trade and home of an infamous, waterborne, red-light district called (appropriately) "The Floating World."

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wednesday Comics: Princess Aura in Her Underwear

...and Flash, Ming, and Thun, too--but they don't make for the click-grabbing headline.

I picked up IDW's Definitive Flash Gordon and Jungle Jim Volume 1 last week with a bit of hesitation has I already had Checker's and Titan's first Flash Gordon volumes, but the full Sunday pages size (actually slightly larger) and colors( that are a good compromise between Checker's glossy ones and Titan's too muted ones) are worth it. Though at a little larger than 16 x 12, it isn't exactly portable.

Another interesting thing about these full reprints is that they reproduce the paper dolls that Raymond did along with the strip.

As promised, here's Princess Aura from 1934:

Her papa, Ming:

Lura "Vultan's favorite":

Flash Gordon:

And last, but not least, Prince Thun the Lion Man:

Monday, September 15, 2014

Planning for 5e: Classes

My group is meeting this next weekend for character creation for inaugural 5e D&D Land of Azurth session. Just like with the races, some of the classes require some explanation and/or tweaking for the setting:

The "fighting man" classes of Barbarians, Fighters, Paladins, and Rangers are all okay. Rogues and Bards work as-is, too.

Hierophant of the Church of Azulina
Clerics: I discussed primary deities and clerical domains in a post last week.

Druids: Probably more common in the Country of Virid, but they would will be present in Yanth where the campaign will begin.

Monks: I haven't figured out where the the Way of the Shadow and Way of the Four Elements orders might fit it.The Monks of the Way of the Open Hand will come from isolated mountain monasteries.

Sorcerers: No draconic bloodlines, but otherwise okay.

Warlocks like their pointy hats.
Warlocks: No Great Old One patrons for now. The archfey represent the relatives of Azulina in Elphame. Also, the fae lords of the Sun and Moon. Warlocks with fiendish patrons will be the most common. Witch hats and mantled coats will be a commonly seen "uniform" among Warlocks, perhaps inspired by the traditional clothing of the Witches of Ix.

Wizards: Okay as written.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Land of Adventure...

...That's California.

Or at least all the places California gets to be in the movies. The above is a 1927 Paramount Films map of potential shooting locations in Southern California. This next one is locations within the Alabama Hills were films were actually shot:

Now, I'm not sure exactly how one might use this information to make a setting from the terrain of Southern California, but I'm sure it's possible.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Of Azurth and the Gods

The folk of Azurth seem less troubled by gods than the people of other lands. Or perhaps it's merely religion they are less troubled with. The small shrines and occasional monastery were sufficient for them, until the Wizard decided his new revelation called for a more elaborate priesthood and administration for the state church.

Azulina: The blue Faerie Queen is the center of reverence in Azulinism, the preeminent religion of the Land. The myths say she requested (and got) special dispensation from the gods of the outer world for her own subcreation: Azurth and its environs. Once it was done, Azulina and her sister-handmaidens entered the little world and brought life to the things that were there. The royal family of Azurth were held to be of the family of Azulina by magical adoption. The four handmaidens and companions of Azulina have monastic orders and shrines dedicated to each of them:
Iolanthe: Lady of Knowledge and Communication. Her color is purple. [Domain: Knowledge]
Cerise: Lady of Love. Her color is rose. [Domain: Life]
Pyrrha: Lady of Battle. Her color is vermilion. [Domain: War]
Melaina: Lady of Souls. Her color is indigo. [Domain: Death]

Gob: Beneath the Cave Land of Subazurth at the center of the world, there dwells a giant, crystalline gnome, and his name is Gob. It was Gob, master artificer, who did most of the heavy work in the creation of Azurth, all for the love of Azulina. Gob is seldom directly worshiped, but he is frequently named in oaths and exclamations by Azurthites.

Machine Mysteries: There are minor (and somewhat disreputable cults) in Yanth (in the main) based around itinerant, tent show performances whose primary attractions are automata called "god machines". Adherents believe god machines differ from other clockwork, electrical, or steam-powered contrivances by being imbued by "divine motive power." Side shows of clockwork tableaux vivants or magic lanterns revealing central myths may be free, but the god machine can only be viewed by initiates--i.e., those that have paid the admission price. Performances of machine mysteries are often accompanied by ecstatic (even orgiastic) rites, contributing to their reputation--and popularity.

Outer Gods: Some of the true gods of the outer world, greater than fae godlings of Azurth, are known in myth and legend: Urania, Queen of Heaven, who gave Azulina her blessing in Azurth's creation; Pan, whose piping is heard by the druids in the ancient forests of Virid; and the greatest of all, the Slumbering God with many names, who created all the gods, and now sleeps, his work done. There is an ascetic order in Azurth that venerates this last, but they hold that all the world was created (and exists only) within the great god's dreams and will fade when he wakes.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wednesday Comics: Prophet

In a first for my Wednesday comic book meditations, I'm featuring a comic I haven't even read yet--primarily because it is just being released today. Prophet: Strikefile #1 (borrowing the "strikefiles" title from 90s Image) is a who's who (and what's what) of various important characters, aliens, and world's in the Prophet Universe (which is the Extreme Comics Universe in the far future).It also gives a history of the Earth Empire:


Anyway, I assume most of my readers are at least familiar with the Prophet revival series by writer Brandon Graham and several artists. If not, here's a brief  rundown: John Prophet (the Extreme Comics character from the 90s) awakens from cryosleep on an Earth dominated by strange alien species in the far future. He must trek across this exotic landscape to find the ancient tower where he can complete his mission. There, he sends a signal to revive the Earth Empire from it's slumber. That signal awakens the Empire's most implacable foe, too--who just happens to be another clone of John Prophet. 

This is all is collected in one volume. Subsequent volumes detail Old Man Prophet (the rebel) gathering allies (including a few familiar names from 90s Extreme, if not familiar faces) while the Earth Empire likewise consolidates its forces and it's power. It may be that both sides will have to join forces against an even greater menace.

Prophet is probably most comparable to science fantasy comics like Metabarons and the Incal, but has its own voice and feel. No guys in rubber masks here; the aliens of Prophets universe are most often somewhat arthropodian and always alien. Even the human cultures have an exoticness to them too, like you'd see in far future literary science fiction.

The density of the concepts and world-building may not be to everyone's taste, but if any of this sounds appealing, you should check it out.