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Lord Archaon's Journal

- Sunday, November 25, 2012

Welcome to the Journal! Here I'll post random thoughts and plans for the true blog, and basically write anything when the block kicks in for the "serious" stuff. In a non-blog fashion, you'll have to scroll down to see newer stuff, and it will all be (dis)organized as a single post!

I'd like to start by pointing out the next objectives (posts) I'm aiming at, in no particular order:
  • World of Cthon: Second Age
    The Second Age of my Cosmology is the start of "the world as we know it". The primal, deadly, and ultimately alien world of the First Age shifted underground during the First Catastrophe, and a more docile world took its place on the surface of the earth.
    This time-line aspect is just secondary actually, as you may know if you read the Cthon posts: time and space are as one, and the First Age world simply became the Underdark and Abyss of the Second, with its mysterious Shadow-Web extradimensional space becoming in part the Hades of the Second World, in the shallow underground. Two ideas sparked out these days, while thinking about the Second Age:  
    1. Yugoloths in Hades, replacing classic evil spirits of Greek tradition.
      Yes, it would be some kind of shift, but not entirely. Basically the idea is to make the Yugoloths represent ancient Greek evil spirits like the Furies/Erinyes (I know, the latter are Devils in D&D), and the like. It makes sense because Devils are normally associated with Angels, and Angels do not exist yet in the Second Age! So these would be like "proto-devils". They could also still have some kind of relationship with the Demons, which would inhabit a much lower level of the generic "underground", and could still be placed in a "plane" separated from true Hades, although I like the fact that they could have access to the souls of the dead. I have to explore all of this, probably in a separate blog post.
    2. The Tuatha as fey-blessed ancient humans.
      I have a character that is born from the union of a Feywild elf (Eladrin in 4e) and a Tuatha, described as a very ancient tribe of humans that had very close ties with some fey spirit/deity. Since in the Second Age humans are still minor players, this makes a lot of sense: the most cultured tribes would be those that mingle with elves and find the favor and protection of the Fey Primordials (Yes, by my classification, Corellon and the Seldarine are Primordials/Titans/Elementals, associated with the "element of life" and the forest. They are also generally called "forest gods"). I could insert the story of my character in the mix, as a hook to delve deeper into the actual formation of the Feywild as "dream of the forest gods", and to describe these "Golden Age people" of the Second Age, which the D&D version of Tuatha represent perfectly.
  • Evil Tide and the SahuaginThe idea sparked from input by @ArtificerAlf, who is going to run the Evil Tide AD&D module with D&D Next rules. He had already noticed how Lizardfolk could be used to represent Sahuagin, but the tinkerer in me couldn't resist the temptation to actually build some Sahuagin stat-blocks for #dndnext! I'm probably going to do so in an original way, you will see! In addition, I could write a little bit on the role of Sahuagin as one of the sentient races of the First Age and their survival well into Second and Third Ages of World of Cthon!

  • D&D Next ramblings!
    I won't be able to stay quiet on my soon-to-come D&D Next live playtest, set in the world of Innistrad (from Magic: The Gathering). I will post the houserules and homebrew stuff we will end up using and probably also some NPCs, made with character creation rules just for the sake of testing!
That's all for now folks! Oh, only one little-big announcement and disclaimer: people and artists concerned for my liberal use of artwork, don't worry! I will add credits and links to each illustration very soon!

Be seeing you around!

Tweeria!

- Monday, November 26, 2012

Now I remember what was the other thing I planned doing a post about here on the blog! The very recently came our "lazy Twitter RPG" named Tweeria!

It is an original concept in that it uses the Twitter API to transform your tweets into random (with a  few exceptions) deeds that your character performs in the fantasy world of Tweeria. 

The coolest thing is that by means of randomly looted resources, you can craft your own items with a simple system and sell them to other players, earning gold that you can use to buy more items or the totally useless "fun items", such as titles adding up to your Twitter user name (in the game only of course! :D ) or videogamey pets. 

It uses illustrations from World of Warcraft if I'm correct, and it's fun because of a ton of achievements you can earn, and random rare magic items. 

What's more, the best/worst side-effect is that it gives you a big incentive towards tweeting a lot! :D 

... I guess I missed the "lazy" part of the game, by digging too much into it... 
Anyway, a post about it soon!

Dragon's Eye View and "the essence of D&D"

- Friday, December 14, 2012

I really appreciated the latest Dragon's Eye View article by Jon Schindehette on the Wizards' website! I think this is really the epitome of communication between designers and fans/players/customers: the latter submit artworks that they believe to convey "the essence of D&D", and the Art Director himself answers personally, asking questions like "Why do these artworks feel D&D to you?" And even more specific ones, as it was my case that I want to record here, since the comments system doesn't include permalinks for each comment so it's impossible for me to show you what I'm talking about.

Here go the comments:
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I have only one word, and it comes from Wizards of the Coast, but not D&D: ZENDIKAR.

Most of the pics I put here are not official artwork of Zendikar but come from my "Zendikar-esque artwork" collection on deviant-art, which you can browse here: http://sybarith.deviantart.com/favourites/43579908

I'm serious, Zendikar has everything I always wanted in D&D, as a setting. And as you could recognize from the images, I see the essence of D&D not only in fantastic characters, but fantastic environments, and characters VS the environment, something that is very important in D&D IMO, but that only seldom did the rules emphasize. I hope D&D Next will add something in this department...

And when it comes to characters, I enjoy the flexibility of D&D, the ability to describe and bring to life in play and combat the most original fantasy concepts. And again, I hope D&D Next modularity will come handy here!



[Sorry, too much work to add single links, but you can find these in my deviantArt favorites linked above!]

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In your samples, the "character" is secondary to the world. Is that the essence of D&D for you then? The amazing and engaging world? The epic and amazing scope and unearthly feel?


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LordArchaon
Yes, thanks for the reply! Actually, making characters is probably my favorite part of the hobby. But as you say, I put the world and "amazing scope and unearthly feel" above even characters, when it comes to "essence of D&D". Each and every RPG can have amazing characters (although as I said, I enjoy that D&D has more diversity of archetypes), but what probably no other RPG can conjure, is the vastness and diversity of possible worlds. Most games are focused on specific settings and these settings have very few notes, very few if not just one theme. D&D is IMO about going far beyond these limitations. It's the "make your world and play in it" game, like no other.

So in a way we could say I'm against the "what's the essence" question, but I think it's not that. It's that diversity is the essence. And other things that my visuals have in common are the fantastic nature of the landscapes and features, the magic, flora and fauna that are awe-inspiring and weird, hidden places, nearly impossible structures... It's about taking what's normal in life, and even what's normal in fantasy and playing with it like a kid, making it extreme in some ways, but giving everything a touch of "classic", of "ancient and mysterious", and of course the potential for high adventures!

With all of this I don't want to downplay characters. It's just that I think the idea of a cool character is "easier to achieve": everybody wanting to play D&D, even with no experience, has at least a vague idea of how cool he/she wants the playing character to be, and pictures it somehow. But the world? Many people are not accustomed to high levels of fantasy, to the very different worlds and situations that D&D can bring to life. So I think art has a somewhat bigger responsibility in this field, to bring to the gamers truly inspiring visuals and make them think "Wow, I want to explore that world". Which is exactly like saying "I want to play D&D", to me.

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You know, I don't know if there are many other Art Directors out there that discuss their work with their customers at this level, and I'm pretty honored and excited to be part of this, and for this to be happening right to D&D.

I want to end this happy journal entry with a weird and perhaps unrealistic analogy that sparked into my mind right now.

The relationship between the people behind D&D and the D&D fanbase is a lot like the one between accomplished science professors and researchers and science students, in a way. And that way is the down-to-earth and personal attitude of the communication that goes on. It's not like the typical "Master & Student" relationship of other disciplines/products, in which the Masters see the Students as mere followers that must deal with whatever the Master says. Like in science instead, it's more like the "Masters" see the "Students" more like young colleagues, that could very well work with them on their researches, if they proved experienced and interested enough.
In this optic, the D&D Next play-test is a lot like a scientific peer review process. And this latter analogy is perhaps far more realistic than the former. :)