Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Small Gods



As the meeting point for numerous cultures and even worlds, the religions present in the city are as numerous as the rats that infest it. Ancient religions mix with spontaneously erupting cults and everything in between. 

Irati - A swamp deity of fertility, she has over a thousand mortal sons and daughters who make up her clergy. By her word, she protects her family from harm and spurns outsiders. Irati's protection is real and powerful, as such, her children are in huge demand for marriage or even casual couplings as the Irati’s protection would be extended over any progeny of the relationship.

Urugu - Lives amongst reed beds, he is the maker of papyrus for the book of records and although he doesn't have direct worshippers, Urugu is venerated along with the Keeper of the Book of Records as the provider of materials.

Keeper of the Book of Records – Has never had a proper name, and her small cult claims that it would be unwise to try to name her. Oddly enough the Keeper and Urugu are originally from different pantheons, Urugu being a Kobold swamp deity and the Keeper, a Dwarven ancestor spirit.

Castor - A deity unique to the city, Castor is principally a repeller of mould and fungi. No construction is done in the city without a prayer to Castor. He only has one priest however, a dwarven woman named Gloran. Oddly enough, for a cleric of a fungicidal deity, she grows mushrooms in a set of rooms she keeps moist for the purpose. When asked about this dichotomy she merely smiled and says "know your enemy".

Arxan - A demon god that was originally subservient to Graak but since the reformation has been mostly worshipped in secret in his own right. Several different cults of Arxan exist in the city with wildly differing beliefs, here is a selection of some:

1.       When a believer dies, they must be boiled and consumed. Everything but the spleen must be eaten.
2.       Power is born in the suffering of others. If you can make another suffer without consequence to yourself, that is power and those with power are most respected by Arxan
3.       To bring wealth to your children, insert coins under the skin. Old, rich goblins can get quite chunky.
4.       Those with power have a duty to exploit those without.
5.       Power is useless if not used, own slaves, demonstrate your dominance of them publicly.
6.       Power can be transferred from one to another by means of the former inflicting pain on the latter.

Chrisa - About 300 people follow Chrisa, a goddess of infinite kindness and wisdom. She promises those who follow and serve in her interests will be taken from this world to a better place of light, clean air and abundance. Indeed, under the leadership of Groot (a charismatic young elvish woman), a number of people have managed to leave the world behind and transcend. At least, that's what Groot claims and no one can prove her wrong.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Some things about Orcs


The Orcs of the great oceans of Atmos:
  • are a seafaring race, they ply the seas in great generation ships, touching land less than once a year.
  • have skin like seals (although green), it is slightly oily to the touch and covered in a fine layer of hair.
  • do not experience curglaff (the shock felt on plunging into cold water).
  • smell of brine and fermented fish.
  • diet consists mostly of fish and seaweed, although orcish fish sauce is highly prized in Nocte.
  • most never set foot on land and only a tiny percentage venture farther than a few miles from the sea.
  • will always have upon their person a small phial of salt water.
  • give birth to live young. A mother can control the length of the pregnancy from four to eleven months. A four month orc baby is very immature but an eleven month old will be crawling within a week or two.
  • dissolve quickly in their own acids juices upon death, leaving behind a lot less bones than expected and a small brownish pearl that, when ground, forms a heady intoxicant.
  • have personal gods. Each family has a god that protects them, must be sacrificed to etc. Some of the gods have become popular since the families came to the city and are worshiped by thousands. Public shrines are not unusual, even if no one outside the family worships the god, they still want everyone to know about them.
  • never anthropomorphize things, they would never say the "the ocean is a cruel mistress" or even "that cloud looks like your mother".
  • have no ocean, land or animal gods as the orcs believe themselves to have souls and no one else. Animals are free to be slaughtered and fish to be caught. The ocean is not personified either. It is just the world, random, capricious, sometimes calm, sometimes angry (although an orc would never ascribe orcish emotions to the ocean, they would use kalmeren and bous respectively).
  • never speak their own language on land, it being sacred of the sea.
  • always refer to themselves as aboard a ship, even when on land.
  • when on land, visit a bathhouse daily at a minimum.
  • cherish fresh water. Although not sacred, wasting fresh water is a moderate crime.
  • that live in cities are lonely folk, usually apart from their families, that like to join communities of like-minded individuals such as guilds.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Luck, depression, inspiration, planning



I am an incredibly lucky person (not that I believe in luck) really. I just rode home from my well paid job along a beautiful industrial canal (all the people riding the opposite way looking at me strangely because of the stupid grin I always have plastered over my face when riding along the canal). Of course, hard work got me some of the way to where I am, but I don’t work harder than many others in much worse circumstances than I. Something to consider certainly, but that is not why I am writing today. I am writing because I am feeling good for the first time in a week. All the things that were piling up at work suddenly got done, seemingly without having expended any effort on my part (despite me trying for weeks to get it all done). Most importantly, I feel like writing for the first time in a week. I haven’t mentioned on this blog before, but I actually write something every day. For at least 30 minutes a day I write, some of that material ends up on this blog. In the year to date, I missed only a single week of writing  in February when I was on holiday, not a single other day was missed. Now however, I have a massive hole for the last few days because I have been unable to write a single coherent sentence. Oh sure, there have been many days before where my output is better measured in characters than words, but never have I felt so blocked. 

What solved my problem? I have no idea. I am not even risking writing anything useful in the blog today (hence this banal entry) but it is enough for me. I resist writing anything Nocte related (curses! I still need to change that name) but I shall attempt to share a few things that I have been thinking about lately. 

I do not read many roleplaying forums anymore, I found they are just not worth the effort of sorting through the flame wars and useless edition warring in order to get to the good stuff (of which I admit there is plenty), but not even I have missed the controversy of the past few weeks regarding the allegedly sexist D&D consultants. I do not wish to weigh into the debate in particular, but one thing did strike me. Although I consider myself non-sexist and take action to regress the sometimes mysoginistic problems in my industry I could not boycott or even decry the employment of such people (even if they were found to be “guilty”). I listen to Wagner, I still watch Mad Max, I enjoyed Ender’s Game. For me, Art surpasses the disgressions of their creators and so D&D transcends its creators, consultants and even bloggers. 

The second thing I wish to share is a brilliant post on how to be creative over at Goblin Punch.

Lastly, I wanted to outline what should be coming up on this blog over the next few weeks. These are topics I have a few paragraphs or a bunch of ideas for, that I will be writing about in no particular order:

  • Small (and Medium) Gods – More information on various gods and religions of the city
  • A timeline outlining a basic history of the nobles and guilds of Nocte
  • Trade goods
  • The seafaring orcs
  •  The Great Goblin empire
  •  The Guild of Engineers 
  •  The various merchant guilds

Hopefully there is something in that it that piques your interest. Unfortunately you will have to wait until next week for the next entry.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

The Halflings of Blonks


Blonks is one of the many Dukedoms formed in the Sutland after the fall of the Tikreti Empire. On its collapse, over 300 years ago, Blonks was formed from one of the Duchies of the Empire.

 

300 years ago, the relatively unmolested halflings of Blonks were conquered by the Tikreti Empire. Empyric practices at the time were to appoint a local related to the previous system to govern and so a halfling was appointed the first Duke of Blonks. Under the duke, three barons were each appointed a portion of the dukedom. A century later the empire falls but the Duchies under it remain. The former empire splits into thousands of independent realms, some fell to conquerors, others saw sense to ally with their neighbors to form new kingdoms. The disparate groups of the Barden plains and Stallem hill valleys that form the Sutland mostly remained small and independent.

 

Life ruled by nobles never really suited the halfling way of life, theirs being a much more equitable and equal society than existed in most other places in the empire. For this reason, the dukes and barons that rule are mostly ignored by the majority of halflings. Their tithes are small and the barons know not to push too hard, else they find themselves completely ostracised from Blonkian society. This society is almost entirely made up of small hamlets and villages, consisting of very few large (albeit low ceilinged) communal living huts surrounding a Home Hearth of Anwyn. All food preparation and consumption is done within the Home Hearth, as well as being the common gathering place and workspace for the village. The huts surrounding the home hearths are also communal space, up to twenty people will live in a hut that has no internal walls or separations of any kind.

 

Halflings are not private people at all, their communal living prevents it, to extremes that other cultures may be shocked by. A Blonkian will happily defecate in front of people, as well as fornicate. Although halflings are mainly monogamous, the participants, nor or any onlookers would feel slightly uncomfortable engaging in sex in a communal sleeping area. Pre-marital sex is not uncommon, the older folk just smile at the youths and their emotions, knowing that soon they will be adults and ready for marriage. Children are brought up communally and although a child will know who their parents are, no particular affection or attachment is normal in Blonkian society.

 

A typical village will be surrounded by many wind chimes and other noise making paraphernalia. Loud instruments and many bodies close together keep away Malkalin, the dark stalker. A god of darkness that takes lone halflings at night, Malkalin also has influence in The city in Darkness. Halflings in the city do not live communally and there is some debate as to whether this has drawn Malkalin to the city.

 

The head of the village is a member of a mystery cult of Yashan. Although they still live communally, only the heads of villages and their eventual replacement are indoctrinated into the Yashani (as they are known). The followers of Yashan meet secretly every full moon to discuss leadership, perform protective rituals over the villages of Blonks and make the sacrifices Yashan demands for his protection. At every meeting, an animal born since the last full moon is sacrificed.