Thursday, March 29, 2012

Let's talk about Roll Playing Part 4

How do you encourage to players to be philosophical explorers?

I was talking with my wife about this and sort of discovered two things. It's not really philosophy that I want the game based on, it's just good story telling and I think the best way to achieve that is to HAVE clashing philosophies. It really falls to the GM or the adventure module to come up with hard questions the player would need to answer, as I can't think of a way to build that into a game itself. This means staying in character should be paramount for the game. This isn't exactly for hack-n-slashers.

As such, we set a standard when the character is being created. Pick a race, then pick an archetype. If the archetype fits with in the race, you start with a set amount effort points you can spend. Call it, Attunement. Then pick a philosophy or creed to follow. A strong belief of the character. A god? A way of life? A faction? We can come up with this list later on. Players are rewarded 1 point of Attunement for good roll playing and staying with in their archetype or philosophy against strong opposition. "Sticking to their guns," as it were. Lastly, players should pick a long term desire. Something the character really wants. If it clashes with their internal belief system, all the better.

Attunement can be spent as non-free effort in place of experience, but the sum of experience and attunement players use cannot exceed 3 per task, just like experience. Attunement isn't experience and can't be used to upgrade the character, so what is it for? Well, if you spend Attunement as a resource, you free up experience used for upgrading the characters later on.

I'm breaking the rule here, because I'm changing the foundation in order to stay within the spirit of Annalow. If we want to talk about philosophy and belief in a Roll Playing Game, it would have to be by example, and not arguing philosophy verbally. That would just tie up the game and that's no fun. Instead, the philosophy will have to be made manifest int he factions alone.

A note: Tho Experience points may be given out for completing challenging tasks, It should be noted that points would never be given out for winning a battle. The benefit from battle would be surviving to the next day.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Let's talk about Roll Playing Part 3

Why is your game about Exploration and Philosophy?

I have to keep reminding myself that this is the setting for a game and not the game itself. I've made games in the past, none with any success, and I'm done trying. So what we have control over isn't the mechanics of the game, but the setting, and Annalow is ripe for this for two reasons.

Alpha: Because we can apply differing, even opposing philosophies to the races, themselves.

Beta: Because we can have differing factions within and around the city hold opposing yet valid views.

Mandra's totally on the same page with me on this. Great opposing philosophy makes for great conflict and growth that comes from within that. The exploration of the city is easy enough, with the Marf Catacombs in the plateau and the districts on the surface and in the docks. Let's start, then, with the nine races by basing them on some basic personality archetypes for flavor:

Borcs (Bear Kin): Wariors. Champions of hard work and brave in the face of all conflicts. Oversimplifying, but honorable.

Crynt (Crow Kin): Wise Men. Fill a mind with knowledge as a canvas with paint. There is so much truth to learn, but the biggest surprise is how everything is part of one thing.

Dryads (Tree Kin): Mothers. The planet suffers because the Anaviated work against the natural cycle of life and death. They must nurture and protect life. (Ironically the protection of Death)

Felfs (Fox Kin): Scholars. Curious and exploring the nature of time, truth, life, and the crevices of the world. These are the born philosophers that ask that enduring question: Why?

Ixxar (Dragon Kin): Fathers. Stern and stubborn, believing their way is the most beneficial. They know what's best for everyone's prosperity so they should be in charge because they're clearly smarter than everyone else. Worse yet, they might be right.

Marfs (Mole Kin): Soldiers. Tho ugly and misunderstood, they work in terms of duty. The rules are already set and following them is more important than their morality. Without law or duty, the world would fall apart. Slow and enduring, like tectonic shifts.

Moblin (Mouse Kin): Tricksters. Liars and deceivers (not the same thing). There is no truth of the world because the world is wholly subjective. Might as well have fun teaching everyone this.

Mumes (Mandra Kin): Artisans. Creative and expressive also emotional. The highs are really high and the lows are really low, but everyone can relate. Expresions must be perfect, even at the cost of practicality.

Tame Effee (Rabbit Kin): Servants. Like Marf, they have their loyalties, but work to make everyone happy. Everyone else is more important than them, which means someone needs to look after them.

Wild Effee (Rabbit Kin): Liberators. Anarchy and freedom. Not only should everyone be allowed to choose, they should be made to choose. DOWN WITH OPRESSION!

Worry not about stereotypes and being shoe horned into a certain race by personality. Jungian Archetypes have a tendency to shift and overlap like masks. Also, like dogs and cat, all races have room for individuality. After all, what about the Dryad who thinks the world owes them something? Or the no nonsense Mume who's big in accounting?

At least this is a start.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Let's talk about Roll Playing Part 2

Let's set a tone for the rest of the week. With Annalow as a game setting, it would become it's own game (sort of), so I will borrow the four questions of Game Making from John Wick. Those questions are:

What is your game about?

Why is your game about that?

What encourages your players to be about your game?

Why is it fun?

Woof. I have my work cut out for me.

What is your game about?

If we go by Amythra, the basis of the game is one of discovery, but through exploration and philosophy. No RPG I can think of covers Philosophy as a foundational game mechanic, so I'll try that one, and why not? (note: this is a temporary foundation until we can find something less vague) There's RPGs about Comedy, Drama, Adventure, Action, but where's the genre's Six-Degrees of Separation? Where's the Our Town? The introspective battle one alignments? Actually, these are as easy to find as Dungeons and Dragons, with their alignment system. Just ask a Planeswalker about the difference between devils and daemons.

Still, exploration of philosophy isn't D&D's approach, rather that's more about a player's rise to power and their use there of. I may need the help of a philosophy professor to truly grasp the meaning of this game premise, but we'll keep it as a base for now. I know Annalow is NOT about rise of power, even tho there's an obvious power struggle between the Ixxar and the Mumes over the city as well two factions of the Borc up north are waring.

The Mume and the Ixxar are an interesting struggle that makes sense. The Ixxar are vastly intelligent and are, in their minds, trying to right a wrong. The Mumes keep them at stalemate, having the creativity to continually innovate. The Ixxar seek the old way, one's with logic and reason while the Mumes radically grasp for the new and the expressive, making champion emotion and sensation. Similarly, in the north, the Union of Borc Nations that dominate the northern Hemisphere fight against the Borc Cross Militia who struggle to free their people, breaking them back into a city-state society. One big government versus individual governments. This sounds like a battle of philosophy to me. (Edit: Ideals, really)

As always, we may need to work on it, but let's keep Exploration and Philosophy as a foundation for now. This may change in the future as we discover Annalow's premise.

(Blank Map stolen from

Monday, March 26, 2012

Let's talk about Roll Playing Part 1

I'm currently at a bad writer's block for Amythra, so instead, let's take a week to remember that Annalow is a setting meant for RPGs. I study the theory to many games and their strength and I'm somewhat familiar with Pen and Paper RPGs as an art form as it's pretty close to my own territory of Comics. Stay with me as I explain.

I've been trying my damnedest to keep in the loop of newer RPGs that have come out today by listening to the reviews of Kurt Wiegel or monologues of John Wick with earnest interest. The unique genre of games that is RPGs I would sum up in one bold sentence:

Roll Playing Games is Improv Theater.

The director sets the stage and each player plays by their own script. The dice are to keep things fair (tho Annalow uses a diceless system simply because I'm not a fan of frustrating wiffing. [For the unattuned, Wiffing is when by long odds, you fail at a task] Even so, there are rules and numbers involved with the Active Exploits Take Two system I keep in mind when designing parts of Annalow.) They're just there as rules of Improv to keep everyone grounded in one setting. After all, Zeus wouldn't hang out with a group of mortals trying to become gods, so power is limited. It all depends on the kind of story you want to improvise.

If each medium of story telling has it's advantage, RPG's would be interaction between players and director, because there are rarely props on the stage. A player tends to get drawn into the world, imagining the details left unspoken by the game master and other players. Here's where comics and RPGs align.

Comics is my favorite art form because of the necessary interaction needed from the reader. The magic of comics has always been between the panels, where the punches are thrown, not landing, and the character enters and leave in a way the reader chooses. It's difficult to put into words, but there is imagination being used on the part of the reader more than in any other. The same is true of books, but comics have fewer and greater details involved where time is malleable. If RPGs shine because of involvement, Comics shine because of it's use of time and closure.

I admit, these are the observations of someone who's been out of the gaming for a long time. I haven't RP'ed since...Gosh, 2007.

For the rest of the week, I think I'll try to sum up my wishes and designs for Annalow as a game and see if we can't find some foundation to build on.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Money in Mash'ta

Most races have their own style of coin, but because of it's ease of use, they all tend to be a mimic of Ixxar economics. Ixxars have 4 denominations of coins, each coin having a certain mixture of gold and another metal for base, separated in multiples of Five.

The Bit: Smallest form of coin, a bit is usually the size of a thumb nail made with 10k gold. In Annalow, a bit will buy you a simple meal. Another bit will get you a pitcher of beer to go with it. Other places may go as far as three times that, depending on the strength of their coin. Annalow is a very rich city-state, being a center for trade.

The Piece: A Piece of gold is about the size of a bottle cap, made of 12k gold. It is always used to denote 5 bits. A middle class merchant in Annalow earns about 18 pieces of gold a month.

The Horn: These are about as big as a US Quarter, but thicker and made of 14k gold. Horns are used mainly by banks and merchants to transfer high loads of currency in small packages. They are worth 5 pieces or 25 bits. Horns, by the way, in the Norther Borc lands are Actually Horns from a stag.

The Crown: These heavy coins are the size of a thick US Half-Dollar and are made of 18k gold. Crowns are so called because usually only royalty sees money in such a big denomination. They are, of course, worth 5 horns, 25 pieces, or 125 bits. Some military will receive annual pay in crowns, but the coins, themselves, are a rare sight. It's like finding a one-thousand dollar bill.

After the Crown, gold is simply kept in ingot form of 24k gold. There are pure gold coins, but no one has used them for thousands of years, and when found, they tend to get melted down into ingots anyway.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Amythra 41

"You're Arrow? Arrow Mufger the smith?" Amythra knew he was without asking, but couldn't stop herself.

The borc looked behind him. "Unless I'm in the wrong building again." Arrow looked at Amythra's companions and he brow furrowed when he saw Roose and Boose. "What...uh...what can I do for you, young womume?"

"This is from my father." Amythra opened the olive-wood box revealing the master work sword handle. The black ivory shined, even under torchlight, and Anna Goldeyes gasped. It was the complex detail that made her back away. The carving was small, precise, and detailed, as if an army of Mume and Borc were shrunk down and turned to bone. Crow Whale Ivory was hard and sturdy, like granite, and such a carving would've taken skill and time and time and skill. So much of both. "He said this was his eighth attempt. He apologizes for taking three months."

"Good gracious me." The borc exclaimed, not looking at the box or it's content. "You must be Burret's little womume." He stepped around the counter and picked up Amythra. As if examining a doll and turned her left, then right. "HAW!" And then he gave her a bear hug, ruining her cloths with forge soot and wet borc hair smell. "Little Amtree!"

"Amythra." She corrected.

"Same thing." He held her up again and marveled. "Why, I hadn't seen you since you had only a...a hand full of seasons." He put her down and suddenly shifted his mood to business. "What's this, then? Why isn't Marvate here?"

Amythra gave Goldeyes a look, as if asking for help. "He's...joined the war, Mr. Mufger."

"Bah." Arrow threw his hands in the air and rounded tot he other side of the counter again. "Idiot. Anyway, it's Arrow, Amtree, an let me look at this."

"It's Amythra. Not Amtree."

"Yes yes."

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Amythra 40

Arrow's Smithy was not advertised as a weapon's shop, rather a metallurgist for constructions and horse wears. A sign read, "Sharp as an Arrow Smithy" which hung over a fairly plain looking blue brick building with smoke billowing behind it. Apparently the forging and such was done in back.

Amythra drew on her gloves and took a second look at the olive-wood box. She breathed in, straightened up, and blew out. "Right." You're your father's daughter, she thought. She nodded. She spoke out loud. "Let's go, then."

Pushing the heavy groveroot door open caused a deep clank to emit from a bell on its other side. Inside was a variety of tools, devices, and a corner dedicated to armor and shields. The room was lit, barely, not by lamps, but with torches hooked onto the wall and baking a green-stone ceiling. It smelled like oil and polish and sent Amythra's mind racing back to one of the smithy's back home who molded ties and long nails for ship building. "Just a moment!" cried a deep chirping voice from in back.

That was the only way to describe it. A deep chirp.

When she approached the counter and placed her box on top, Amythra couldn't help but adopt a wide goofy grin. There was a light wooden carving of a borc holding a pickaxe that sat on the counter with the words "Paper Jewel" on its base. That was the name of her father's ship when he was a deck hand and this was clearly his work. The connection she needed to be at ease again.

The borc who emerges from behind a leather curtain was bare-chested and hid his remarkable mass with light springy steps. His hairy face was smoked and grilled except over his eyes, eyes like a reverse raccoon, where a thick set of goggles had been pulled away from. "'Allo. Can I help you folk?" His voice wasn't gruff, it was a baratone sing-song, quite unlike any borc Amythra had heard. He wiped the sweat from his hands and put them on the counter.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Amythra 39

"It hurts," Anna said, softening her voice a little, "and that may never fade, But he's not dead, Amythra."

"He will be. I feel it. I don't care if he'd be a slave to the family. He'd be alive. He'd still be laughing with his idiot friends at the pub. He'd still be elbowing me and pointing to sailor womume ask'n me if I thought they were hot. He'd still be do'n this job instead of me, bring'n back different looking coins to add to my collection." Amythra rolled up the map and put it under her belt. She already knew where she needed to go. The map wasn't lost anymore, she thought, her finger tips to her eyes.

"But he's not dead." Anna didn't know this girl. She had only just met her. Why did it matter? She tightened her gloves and put a hand on the girl's shoulder. "Stop mourning him, Islander. Wait, at least, until you have grave dirt to soak those tears."

The others races in Mash'ta always berate mume-kin for worrying over nothing, but that's because they underestimate the power of mume imagination. It's valuable, agile, and vivid, fore what happens in a mume's mind is just as real to them as outside their heads. Roose and Boose, being dragon-kin stood and watched the two womumes, light fading around them under a red sky, and could not see that to Amythra, Marvate had been dying over and over and over again.

"Can we go, now?" Asked Boose impatiently.

Amythra felt the squeeze of Anna's hand. "Come on, then," Goldeyes said, smiling. "Time to do your brother's work."

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Amythra 38

The blue-green buildings in the next street over absorbed all the pow of the festival voices. There was a distinctly, clearly impossible quiet in the tinted shadows of this road, nearly devoid of people in the dulled rawr. Amythra could think, here.

A mume reached out of his house to light the lamp at his porch, illuminating most of Amythra's map. They were only a few streets away. Turning toward the ebony tower, a black stripe on sunset heavens, she began to march with her companions struggling to catch up.

Anna stepped closer. "That was very impressive, Ms. Tanglenet."

Amythra shrugged the complement off. "All borcs are the same. Forged by their mothers and tempered by their fathers. An' when they're drunk, they become..." she shrugged again. "...simple, I guess."

"Ah." Anna slowed to Amythra's pace, relaxed and looked up at the top of the tower for the 2,222nd time in her life. "Have you given any more thought to your brother?" The islander instinctively turned away from Anna, reinforcing her focus on the map. "Or his decision?"

"Who's had time? You, I suppose?"

"Cool your head, girl. I just ask because we'll probably not see each other again and I'm curious."

Amythra stopped under a public street lamp and threw her arms down. "Well it's none of your business! Not that there's any point to it!" Anne stopped and put her arms behind her. "He's just gone, alright?"

"...and you won't see him ever again?" Anna offered.

"I know." The thought burned Amythra, like touching the sun or looking off the edge of the city. Dreams of plummeting below, tumbling into infinite black. Her brother was gone and she would never hear his voice again. "I know."

Monday, March 12, 2012

Amythra 37

Amythra planted her hands on her hips and yelled again. "You put her down, Mister." Dreth was having some trouble registering how this little mume girl had such a loud voice, or if she was a mume. His losened the grip over Anna's face and she fell to the ground with a gasp. "What do you think yer do'n, grab'n people as if they were hunks of ham. S'no way to treat a smaller and you know it!"

Didn't make sense, Dreth thought. Well as close to thought as he could handle. Mumes don't usually yell at him.

"Is this how you were raised? Ta' drink and drink and pick on the smallers? Don' sound like a propper borc mother would'a taught you that!" Amythra walked up and poke the drunkard in the belly. "Not. At. T'all, Mister."

Hey, she can't bring his mum into..."Hey," He said, "you can't bring me mum into this. Ssss...She's not even in the city."

"And if she was? What then? This is what ya'de like her ta' see, is it? All thick-headed with beer an' sulk'n in the back ally of Annalow city covered in shame an' mume blood?"

Dreth dropped his arms. " ma'am."

"Clean yer'self up. You're a borc. The pride of the north. S'time ya' acted like it."

"Yss...yes ma'am." Dreth couldn't believe it. This mume was making a idiot of him. He didn't have to put up with this. He was a Borc, Pride of the North. He mouth flew open, his finger went up and...

"Nuh." It was a sharp sound. The sound of his mother warning him not to do what he was thinking about doing. "None'a that nonsense, now. Stand up straight. Now brush yer hair back. A little polish an' you could turn a few heads, ya' can be sure of that. Ya can't fight 'em, tho, Mr. Borc." Amythra dug in her pouch. "I got two bits, 'an that's all for the likes of you, but you're not to spend it on the drink, you hear me?"

"Y...Yes Ma'am."

"Yer' to take these down the street and get a pitcher of leaf juice from the diner. Sober yer'self up. You got a whole bundle of tomorrows to make it better. Now go."

Dreth weakly excepted the money and ducked out of the ally, frankly more sober than when he went in. Amythra sighed as he left. Borcs. They were the same no matter what town they were in. She pulled the map out from under her belt and looked at it again. "Shall we go?"

As for Anna, Roose, and Boose, the term "Slack-jawed" accurately applied.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Amythra 36

The reason every race on Mash'ta fear the Red Guard is not only their use of magic that could alter your mind, but also they train in martial arts designed to reach, touch, and break you. And worse, they could make you love it.

Even though Anna had her gloves on, the direct contact between borc grip and her bare arm was enough to sense Derth's mind and it's muddled contents. Reading a drunk mind is like reading a book drunk and Anna didn't have the time to focus. Angry gold eyes turned toward the Borc, but his only answer to them was, "Gimme s...somethin, lady."

"Alright." Anna used her loose hand to grab Derth's grip and she hopped slighty, using the borc's arm as a swing and sliding between his legs, toppling him over himself. He hit the ground hard as Anna got up. "Sleep it off, Borc."

"Shoull...uh..." Derth got up slowly. "Shouldn'a done that."

Amythra was about to step in, but the ixxars, who were comfortably perched on Dreth's barrel of blue wine, stopped her. "Sit back, enjoy the show." Boose said. "She can handle this." Roose said.

The was a loud POP as Derth's drunken fist smashed into Anna's shoulder, spinning her around like a top. He was aiming for her right. The two worked to study themselves, Anna from the spin and Derth from the perceived spin. His head wasn't in the fight, you see. Once ready, Anna started to pull her gloves off, but only got one of them when a large hand that smelled of sweat and booze wrapped firmly around her head.

A loud voice boomed behind Derth like a thunderclap. "HEY!"

Friday, March 9, 2012

Amythra 35

As with any city the proverbial back allies, even on the birthday of the Candy Marf, were never a good idea. Trouble visited in the form of a large and drunk Borc hunched atop a barrel of blue wine. He was Derth Bigbeard and his girlfriend had just dumped him. He was just thrown out of his first bar tonight and figured he had at least four more before he was done, but needed a little money to get the next drink.

Fortunately, he thought, there was a small group of people headed this way now. Two womumes and a pair of ixxars. Surely one of them would spare a piece of gold. Unfortunately and unbeknown to poor Derth, one of the womumes was a Red Guard.

"Hey, ladiesss," Derth struggled out the words. Words, right now, were like flies and using them meant Derth had to catch at least three to use one. " got a bit'er two?"

Roose and Boose stepped back and held their nose. "Wow." Said one to the other. "It's amazing! It's like a fish monger combined with a trash heap."

"Thass not....uh..." There was a word Derth was looking for, but he just couldn't slur it.

"Nice?" Boose suggested.

"Nah. 'S the opposite of nice, that is. I m'n, a feller...uh...needs a drink sometime. Come on. It's...Sirroot Mister's day somethin' somethin'."

Amythra knew just how to deal with him, but before that, Anna gripped her arm and lead her past. "Come on, Amythra. Just ignore him." No, thought Amythra, that'll just...

"Ya can'na just leave me without a" Dreth did the calculation and decided on "lady." The borc burped, killing three insects with his breath.

"Looks like you could just breath in," suggested Roose. "And the beer on your breath would keep you drunk for days!" finished Boose. Anna escorted Amythra by, waving the drunkard aside.

"No. It's....s'not nice." Dreth barked and he grabbed Anna by the arm.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Amythra 34

Amythra went back to the Slumbering Borc with Roose, Boose, and Anna in tow and the islander grabbed hr father's olive-wood box. The set of ixxar followed of course to meet the necessary Arrow Mufger, legal smithy of weapons, and Goldeyes followed because...well because she just didn't trust ixxar. Anna's excuse was to keep the islander girl out of trouble. Amythra couldn't care less, as the sun began it's evening rituals, casting a pleasant shadow through her inn room window.

Annalow at night does not grow dark, nor the air thick with mist like other cities around the world. The sea breeze had plenty of time to dry out before it reached up to embrace the impossible plateau, plus the lamps and candles went up in the streets in an hour durring sunset. Shopping hours were not yet over, after all, and there was a festival to continue. Speaking of which.

"What are they celebrating?" Asked Amythra to any of her companions as they side-stepped a parade of children hopped up on sugar cane. One of them fell over.

"We're celebrating the birthday of Mr. Rootsir." Anna said, leaning over to help the poor borc-child up.

"It's just an excuse..." Said Boose. "...for the mumes to party." Finiched Roose.

"No argument, for once." followed Anna. "But it's not such a bad thing, celebration."

Amythra looked down at her map, convinced it would clear the crowd at least from her head. No use. The streets were so think with people, finding street names was difficult and her father didn't give any alternate routes. "Who was Mr. Rootsir?" Anna giggle.

"Rootsir," Boose started, "was a candy smith who made more money than should be possible." Roose said. "We're quite sure he was running a few black markets in the docks." followed Boose. "But we couldn't tell for sure. He was a clever marf." Roose ended.

"In other words," Anna said helpfully, "he started this trend of making really good candies and deserts, then molding them using marf magic. He was called the Candy Marf."

"I thought Marfs didn't like people."

"They don't." Roose and Boose said together.

"He did." Anna replied.

Amythra darted down a back ally, which should be a short cut, but is always regarded as a bad move. "This way."

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Amythra 33

"How could ya' know that?" asked Amythra. Maybe this was such a common occurrence that they had a place just for lost maps. What a strange and wonderful place Annalow had suddenly become.

Anna wasn't so enthusiastic. "An excellent question." She said, narrowing her eyes. She had no idea how the ixxar would be able to read minds, that being mume magic, and of course she had no knowledge of Ixxar magic. What a dark and devious place Annalow had suddenly become. Anna was unconsciously tugging on her gloves, pondering how she would sneak a peek into the Ixxar twins minds.

Roose saw it. "Oh, keep your hands sheathed, Red Guard. We just happened upon a map." He told the truth. "And it just so happens this womume has lost a map." Boose followed up. "And we just happened to have eaten at the same tavern." Roose said. "With this map." Boose pulled out the scroll. They unraveled it and showed it to Amythra.

Mandra must have been shining down on this poor islander girl that day because it was indeed the map we all knew would come back to Amythra. It brought a tear to her eye and dilated her pupils. "This is it. THIS IS IT!" Amythra excitedly jumped off her stool and lifted up Roose and Boose in a bear-hug that would have put a borc to shame. This was the first hug Roose and Boose had received from a mume and they found it not all together unpleasant, if startling.

After only a few fractions of a second, they formed the correct response to sudden embrace. "Uh..." They said in chorus.

Meanwhile, Goldeyes, who snatched the map away, was putting her name sake to work, examining it and looking for flaws. Anything that might tip off this being a fake or a trick. Nothing came to mind, which brought up a bigger mystery of, if this was the genuine map, how in the name of the Living Goddess, could it possibly have come into the hands of a couple of Ixxar who stumbled into an argument with them.

Amythra pointed over Anna's shoulder. "See here! This is my father's friend! A borc named Arrow Mufger. He's a sword smith. This is defiantly my map!"

"So it seems." Anna could not stop checking the scroll over and over. She's must be missing something. It was too big a coincidence.

"Thanks you, Mr. Ixxar and Mr. Ixxar. How can I repay you? Please, anything I can do." The Ixxar twins exchanged glances again. This, they knew, was luck in it's raw form.

Roose brush his hair back with his fingers. "Well...It so happens we need a smith." Boose rubbed his nose with his palm. "If you're the daughter of a friend of Arrow, maybe you could introduce us."

Monday, March 5, 2012

Drinks of Annalow

Leaf Juice

We've talked about Leaf-Juice. Very simple, really. Long ago, the Borc had a superstition that if you take the leaves from this certain tree and boil it, then strain out the water, the shape of the leaves would leave a secret message that could only be read by someone who trained to read them. These messages told the borc about their love life, how well a competitor is doing, the relationship of children, and so on. As such, the tree was called a Rumor Tree.

It didn't take long for the Borc to also realize just how good the Leaf juice was to drink and it was served hot in great mugs, or mixed with fermented sugar to make it bite back. Annalow does not share the same freezing weather as the northern lands, so they prefer to chill the juice in their pantries and basements. Sometimes in ice-sheds.

Noon Beer

It's basically fermented Grey Wheat. No one is sure who first thought of letting wheat just sit and rot for a while in a bucket of water, but someone did and it was delicious. Beer is as old as the Ixxar and all races except for the Mume and the Effee claim they invented beer. Noon Beer is a lighter brew mixed with ice from the north. It's also called Chilled-Hot beer. Even tho it goes down cold, it hits one's stomach like a fire-bomb.

Bean Juice

This was an invention of the Felf, and no felf can live without it. One cup in the morning and perhaps one at night. They cultivate Cave Beans, which grow on vines in the ceiling of caves to the west of the Shrinking Mountains. It takes a year to grow and harvest, rather than a season like most crops. But the Felfs love it, so take great care of their harvest. They then grind the beans up to a pulp and boil it in a special pot that keeps the bean pulp out of the finished juice. The effect is a full and warming flavor that mixed will with any kind of cream or sugar. That's right. It's basically coffee.

Annalow has found it's own love for Bean Juice, as well, again serving it chilled, but always freshly brewed. If it sits chilled too long, the grinds at the bottom spoil the taste.

Note: If you find yourself running a game in Annalow and want to add some flavor, do what I do. Take a normal everyday drink, like tea, and just mess with it until it's got a fantasy flair. Annalow is a trade city, after all, and sees food and drink from all over Mash'ta.

p.s. This was supposed to be posted yesterday.

Amythra 32

For a while, the four didn't speak. Roose and Boose busied themselves with food, Amythra marveled over the unending crowd of people in the festival, and Anna Goldeyes fumed over the loss of a family she hadn't seen since she was 13 seasons old. Anna poured the last of the pitcher into Amythra's glass and finally broke the silence.

"Where did your map lead, Ms. Tanglenet?" Anna asked.

Amythra pulled away from the gorgeous population outside to focus. "Uh...I don't know the name. It must've been a sword smith." Roose and Boose exchanged glances.

"There are a lot of weapon smiths, lately, with the war. How do you know it was a sword smith?"

"Because my father's an ivory carver. He was commissioned to master a sword handle by one of his friends here in Annalow. I have it in my inn room."

"Well, if he's working for the military, chances are good he's in the docks. As you heard, most edged weapons are illegal in the city. Swords are barely tolerated under it." Roose and Boose leaned closer to overhear their two womumes.

"Oh no. I was sure it was in the city proper. Is owning a sword still illegal if you're just making one?"

"Yes, but that doesn't stop weapon smiths from working in the city. I know of plenty of black markets that make blades. Do you know if that was what you were..." Anna stopped. It was because Roose and Boose had leaned so far over to listen that they fell out of their chairs. "Something to add, ixxars?"

The twins stood up and brushed themselves off. "Oh...nothing..." Said Boose. "Just something." Said Roose. "This map you lost..." Said Boose. "Did you lose it near the great climb?" Asked Roose. "Was it like charcoal on a Scroll of Papyrus?"

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Marf Rules

For the Active Exploits Take Two Game.


Here are the starting abilities and aspects of Marfs.

Fitness: 0

Awareness: 0

Creativity: -1

Reasoning: 0

Material Magic: 0

Luck: 4

Discipline: 5

Marfs are not pretty creatures to those not of their kind. The Mole-kin are mostly hairless with squat and pudgy features and long noses, sometimes broken at the tip. They are also not very charming to those not of their kin, shrugging off insults and complements alike from non-mole-kin. Their cloths represent this with thick woven strands of burlap and tweed, dusty from their homes under the city floor.

With in their own kind, however, they are quite jovial. They have a great love for family, food, and most importantly, earth. From the earth they came and they mold it with the respect their great Mole god granted them as they were themselves molded. Marf are patient with earth and sing to it as they shape stone, dirt, and even steel into their vision. The only thing Marf love as much as the earth is rain. When it rains, all Marf are called to it as if by a siren, and they dance and jump and roll around and sing and generally make merry. This vision is such of alarming contrast to other races that it comes off as creepy. The non-marf of Annalow keep clear of the streets on rainy nights.

Marf have control over material in two ways. Earth Smiths move and mold matter as they control the density of matter, and Alchemist can transmute one kind of matter to another. When being raised, a marf must choose one path or the other. One who can do both is extremely rare.

Remember that all magic requires physical touch. Also, that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Adding weight to an element requires weight taken from something else. If a Marf wants to damage a foe with their power, it takes a difficulty of 3 + the amount of damage they want. This does not ignore armor.

Earth Smith


2- Air

4- Liquid

6- Solid

8- Magic Solid


Diff- Effect

0/1- Sense of what scientific element a substance is up to 15 feet in the earth (like sonar)

2- Detailed understanding of element or mixture of elements and exact weight.

4- Transmutation of one element to an adjacent element.

6- Transmute of one element to another that is 10 atomic weight away.

8- Transmute element into any other element.

[Note: This is the end of the five races one can play. The Ixxar as a race are meant as antagonists. Partly because they are always working toward over throwing the Annalow government and the Church of Mandra, but also because their magic is meant to remain a secret.]

Friday, March 2, 2012

Amythra 31

"Oh, that's not fair." replied Roose who was performing something like the Heimlich maneuver on his brother. "We have no issue against freedom, just..." There was a pop and Boose's food jumped back out of his mouth onto his plate.

Boose Gasped and finished with "...just the excess that mume-kin seems to think freedom leads to. Some choices should not be available for the safty of people kind."

Anna crossed her arms and said "All mumes are free."

"Oh please" Roose said. "Why does no one carry a blade longer then their hand, then? Where are the swords? The Halberds? The 10 foot spears?"

"Ignore them, Amythra," Anna narrowed her eyes. "Everyone knows not to talk politics with Dragon-kin."

"Alright, bad example, Red Guard," Booses words was the first time Amythra realized she was even sitting next to a Red Guard. Up until then, she thought Anna to be just a benevolent womume who got mixed up in the fight outside. Boose continued, "but if a family needs a son, wouldn't it be irresponsible to allow them to join an army not even run by their government?"

"Yeah." Amythra liked the sound of that.

Goldeyes responded with "It's better than being drafted against your will into a war you don't want to begin with."

Roose chimed in, "The draft agents are looking for mume, borc, marf, and even ixxar with combat experience. What does an islander know about fighting?"

"No offense." Boose finished.

"I repeat," said Anna, "All mume are free."

"Nope" Said Boose. "Don't believe it." Said Roose. "Because I see as many mume slaves in the field as any other race. Except, maybe, the Effee."

"As the Effee say, ixxar boys, 'There are many kinds of freedom.' Amythra's brother made a choice. We should respect his decision, as he's submitting to following orders like a slave would, only his service will be to fight and help the Borc armies to the north against he Cross Militia. Even choicelessness is a choice."

"I don't want my brother to be a slave." said Amythra. "I just want him home."

"And in keeping him home against his will, he would be a different kind of slave. One to you instead of to the army of his choosing." Goldeye's words burned a little in Amythra's heart. "Once they are adults, mumes can even choose slavery and the military is just that. Trust me, I know."

"And who's family did you neglect by leaving?" Asked Boose. That shut Anna up. She just turned back to her leaf-juice and shut the hell up.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Amythra 30

"You're brother, huh. Well, he must have volunteered, then. That's something. They don't draft outside of the city, islander."

Amythra turned off of Sad Street onto Angry Ave. "Yes, well he shouldn't have gone. He's thick headed and he shouldn't have gone!"

Anna sighed. "My name is Anna Goldeyes, girl. What's your name?" The way she asked sounded more like a protocol she wanted to get out of the way rather than a friendly gesture. It still took the islander girl aback slightly.

"Uh...Amythra Tanglenet."

"Amythra, if your brother is old enough to be accepted by the Annalow Relief Army, because they do not take children, then your brother is old enough to choose if he wants to fight or not."

The food Roose and Boose ordered finally arrived. Amythra hadn't seen any meat that wasn't fish before, but didn't let it distract her. "Well, he shouldn't of been able to choose, then." She turned back to Anna. "His father needs him and...and..." suddenly, Amythra found a great desire to focus on a tiny pin hole in the window seal in front of her. She turned her eyes downwards, away from Anna's golden eyes. " do I."

"I agree." Said Boose, who just put a large bite of steak into his mouth. His brother elbowed him, forcing Boose to swallow before he was ready. Amythra and Anna watch the ixxar choke.

It's no small secret that the Ixxar are not fond of mume communities, but they outright hate the Red Guard, and the Red Guard them. Anna raised a brow as one twin helped the other. "Of course YOU would." Amythra turned to her new friend and made the universal noise of curiosity. "All ixxar," said Anna, "disagree with freedom."