Monday, August 31, 2009

Team Dystopia's Contest

Team Dystopia (et. al. Moebius87, and his buddies) are having a contest over on the DAZ Forums to see who can produce a vision of Dystopia. Personally, I think we are already in Dystopia, only dystopic fiction (i.e. The Puppet Masters and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) brings the elements of dystopia to sharp focus so we can recognize what is happening.

Dystopic Character by ~Atlantean6 on deviantART

Here is a character set I'm working with for my piece of Dystopia. The first is M4 in a business suit. Conformist, successful banker, even though his hairstyle isn't conservative. He's probably rich, he's probably mortgaged to the hilt. He's probably a wage slave earning 200,000 dollars a year.

Who do you think he is?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Storytelling/Acting Roleplaying and D&D

What is Storytelling? What is acting in the realm of Roleplaying games? Why is it that I'm so hung up on 4th edition?

4th edition is a rework of 1st Edition and a lot of people have taken a liking to it. A lot of people do not feel that it is really D&D. Even myself haven't bought the books and learned the new set of rules beyond character generation (and a lot of the mystique and the magic is lost). The old D&D is over, much of the gambling chance has given over to choosing "cewl" superpowers and customizing your character.

In the OLD DAYS when I had D&D Basic, you created your character by rolling dice. 3 six sided dice to be exact. You created your character, defined his role, and then played him in the scenario according to your role. In the NEW DAYS, a character that is created with dice, randomly created, is unacceptable in the RPGA's living campaigns.

Plus, you don't tell your people what your role is, you just tell them what kind of role you serve in combat in an RPGA scenario. From my point of view, D&D has devolved into a sport. You play your role, you have fun. What happened to roleplaying in D&D?

For me, it's all about the story. 2e provided a way for the story to be followed. AD&D 2nd Edition had lots of options for character generation and optimization for a storyteller/actor game. You actually acted your role in a second edition game. And the DM would tell sweeping stories, most of the time with combat involved. You had character development in 2e. "Cewl" superpowers aren't at all important. After all, campaigns ranged from Crusader Europe to homebrews. Even wierd campaigns, like Eberron, could have worked out in 2e.

Can you roleplay in 4th Edition? Yes. But I'd like to see more options supporting storytellers/actors in 4th edition. More accomodations, more of the fun. More of the mysterious. Points of light? BAH! Commandos with superpowers who go hog wild only seeking to defeat the monsters in a scenario? Not for me thanks.

I want my character to grow and develop. When I play, I want to take on the role of my character, whether he is Cymbeline, MacBeth, Robin of Locksley, or Richard the First. I want to play underpowered characters when appropriate, and godlike characters when I choose. Give me the options to play the roles of a lifetime. Whether it is a craven noble who takes all the credit, even when his companions drag him into a dungeon (I actually did create a noble in D&D 4e, I just DIDN'T want to play by the rules. Because, frankly, D&D 4e character creation rules suck sparrow eggs and howl at the moon!).

Okay, that's my new rant.

NEXT: The New 4th Edition,
What would I change to create options for storytelling fun.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Horror Scenarios

Sometimes, you need to inject some horror into your gaming to get your players running scared. ICE's Nightmares of Mine suggests that fear is the easiest to invoke along with satisfaction at the end of an adventure. Spicing up your RPG scenario to include horror is quite the best thing to do. Horror from Call of Cthulhu not withstanding, I've been reading Werewolf: the Wild West (my copy of Werewolf: The Apocalypse is somewhere, can't find it!).

The following scenarios from American history can help generate ideas for your own scenarios:

1. The Mountain Meadows Massacre: One of the greatest atrocities in the American West was the Mountain Meadows Massacre. And yes, it had everything to do with Religion. The story is somewhat different every time it is told. But the Massacre happened all the same: a group of Mormons and Ute Amerindians slew a party of pioneers and migrants to California. Everyone was slain except the children under the age of 12.

Using the Mountain Meadows Massacre:
The Massacre turns up already in the Deadlands RPG. In the City of Gloom expansion set, the ones who died in the Mountain Meadows Massacre return from the dead as Revenants or Wraiths, slaying everyone who had something to do with the Massacre (Revenge from beyond the grave). In a typical fantasy scenario, the men, women, and children who were slain could have been slain by a combination of Men and Orcs; and they too have returned from the grave to hunt down those who have slain them.

The PCs are hired by the town mayor (who was involved with the Massacre) to protect him from the evil "ghosts" who are trying to slay him. The initial encounter should strike fear in your players' hearts. Seeing someone from beyond the grave should instill fear or apprehension.

Books required for reading:

2. The Headless Horseman: the legend of the Headless Horseman begins in Sleepy Hollow, New York. The Horseman was a Hessian of unknown rank; one of many such hired to suppress the American Revolutionary War. During the war, the Horseman was one of 548 Hessians killed in a battle for Chatterton Hill, wherein his head was severed by a cannonball. He was buried in a graveyard outside a church. Thereafter he appears as a ghost, who presents to nightly travelers an actual danger (rather than the largely harmless fright produced by the majority of ghosts), presumably of decapitation.

Using the Headless Horseman: Classic for a fantasy scenario. The Headless Horseman is a ghost that waylays travelers looking for a suitable head to replace his missing head. Any number of undead can be used: Ghost, Revenant, Ghoul, Ghast, even a Death Knight. The power of the Headless Horseman ends typically when you cross a border marked by water (i.e. the river Styx should come to mind here). The adventure should be one where you are building the horror and dread right up until the last when the players encounter him. Don't forget to include at least one true believer in ghosts to help build suspense and to challenge the players' skepticism (if any).

3. The Donner Party: Like the Mountain Meadows Massacre, the Donner Party was a real part of history. The Donner Party left Missouri rather late to follow the Oregon Trail. The Party stopped to resupply at Fort Bridger and was about to go into Idaho and Oregon and then settle downwards in the new promised land of California. Using the Hastings Cutoff instead of going over the Oregon Trail, the party had traveled over the Great Salt Lake Desert and into Nevada.

Attacked by the blistering heat, suffering Indian attacks, and a Death by Manslaughter (Donner himself killed a man to protect his wife), the party made it to the Sierra Nevada mountains only to be stopped by the winter. A California winter is not as hard as a Utah Winter, but it is hard enough. Especially with the shape the Donner party was in. During the Winter, the Donner party suffered hypothermia, frostbite, and the dwindling of supplies. Eventually, the party turned to cannibalism in order to survive.

Donner did survive to make it to San Francisco. When he heard that they were stuck in the mountains, Donner did all he could to get his party out of the Mountains and down in the San Fernando Valley. However, many of the Donner party did not survive that harsh winter.

Using the Donner Party: The Donner Party makes a good scenario for the Savage West (Werewolf: the Wild West) or the Weird West (Deadlands). In either case, the Wendigo should be involved. The Wendigo is a cannibalistic spirit that a man turns into when he eats human flesh (according to American Legend). In the Savage West, part of the Donner Party turns into Mockeries and the pack must go to investigate.

Savage West Donner Party Wendigo (no relation to the Wendigo tribe of Werewolves):
The Wendigo is blue furred with yellow teeth. He wears all the clothing of a settler and is armed with tooth and claw.
Physical: Strength 4, Dexterity 2, Stamina 2
Social: Charisma 1, Manipulation 1, Appearance 2
Mental: Perception 3, Intelligence 1, Wits 2
Abilities: Alertness 3, Athletics 4, Brawl 3, Dodge 1, Intimidation 3, Larceny 1, Firearms 1, Melee 4, Stealth 1, Survival 2, Occult 1
Powers: Claws and Fangs, Immunity to the Delirium, Monstrous Strength.

In a typical fantasy scenario, you don't have settlers who are trapped in the Mountains everyday. But what if its a caravan? Using the ideas from an old solo adventure, you can turn a caravan trapped in a snowed in mountain pass into a nightmare! Monsters and animals can be most disconcerting. Snow orcs, ice mummies, mountain lions, and the threat of hypothermia and starvation can turn what was a normal caravan to another town or city into a living nightmare! All it takes is a little skill and imagination.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Worgen and DAZ

After reading up that Worgen are going to be a new race for World of Warcraft, I've been taking a close look at the Lycanthropos model that DAZ sells. After, all I want to model my own worgen, and the worgen are the werewolves of World of Warcraft. And Lycanthropos are the werewolf models that DAZ sells for Poser and DAZ Studio content. So I stuck it on my wishlist.

Here are some Lycanthropos related items I have on my wishlist.

Hunter's Moon: perfect for simulating the Gilnean countryside when it isn't raining.
Raw Lycans: Wolf and Fox: just for Wolf renders. I'm not planning a wererat.
NightWolf Plus: Pretty important for those Warrior renders (Superhero morph) and female renders (female morph).

And if I want to do Gilneas City, I better ask for some Victorian City Architecture. :)

Saturday, August 22, 2009


The Worgen

Since announcing that the new Alliance race is the Worgen, I thought I'd take a crack at converting the Worgen to d20. But someone else has already converted the Worgen to d20 as a Player Race. I've been beaten to the punch, so to speak.

The Worgen are the new Alliance Race, the inhabitants of Gilneas. As the Graymane Wall kept people out of Gilneas, the Worgen curse had ravaged the inhabitants of Gilneas transforming them all into the deadly Worgen. These werewolves of Azeroth are the humanoid combination of humans and dire wolves, looking much more beastial than human.

The Foresaken fear and revile the Worgen, and the Foresaken Queen Sylvanas Windrunner has marched an army upon the Gilneans and the Greymane tribe of Worgen. To help fight the Foresaken, the Stormwindans and the Darnassans come to their aid, but led by a secret Druid sect. The Druid sect bring Druidism to Gilneas, which a significant number of Worgen embrace. Now armed with the powers of Nature, the Worgen fight off the Foresaken and begin their new lives in the World of Warcraft!

Classes: True to their humanity, the Greymane Worgen can become arcanists, warriors, priests, and rogues. But the night elves teach the Greymane Worgen hunting and a new religion or path of spiritualism: Druidism. As druids, the Greymane Worgen can tap into their beastial natures. As hunters, their beastial natures can aid the Worgen in their relationship with animals. Especially wolves.

Appearance: Greymane Worgen are the combination of humans and dire wolves. They look mostly humanoid, except with claws on their hands, a wolf's hind legs, and a wolf's head. They are also furred and the average Greymane worgen stands about seven feet in height.

Region: Gilneas. The Greymane Worgen are confined to Gilneas until the Cataclysm brought about by Deathwing. Like Duskwood, the kingdom of Gilneas is plagued by darkness.

Affiliation: Alliance. The Night Elves had come to induct the Worgen into the Alliance. Greymane is their rightful ruler, as they are attacked by the vile Foresaken. The Worgen are now the Alliance's wild, bestial race.

Faith: The Light and the Wyld. Some, or most of the Gilneans still belong to the Church of the Light. The Church of the Light thrives among the Worgen as part of the human heritage. But their beastial natures and teachings of the Druids of Darnassus has coverted a significant number to Druidism. The Druidic Worgen embrace the Wyld and lead a good number of Gilneans to spiritual peace with Azeroth.

Names: the Greymane Worgen use human names or they may use Worgen names for their children. Worgen names include: Whitemane, Furyclaw, Scarpelt, and Greyhide.

Shapechanger Subtype: The Greymane Worgen are humanoids with the Shapechanger subtype.

  • Strength +2, Intellect -2, Charisma -2. Worgen are mighty, but their bestial natures detracts from their reasoning and their social interaction.
  • Medium: as medium creatures, the Worgen have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size.
  • Worgen land base speed is 30 ft.
  • Shifting (Su): A Greymane worgen has two forms: human and Worgen. The base form is Worgen. As a standard action, a Greymane Worgen may shift from human to worgen or from worgen to human. This can happen at anytime of the day, thanks to advanced Alchemy. The act of shifting from human to worgen transforms the human into a monster, and gives the Worgen the barbarian rage.
  • Access to Shifter feats: A worgen may gain access to the Shifter feats presented in Races of Eberron and the Eberron Campaign Setting, and may take the Shifter traits of Longtooth, Wildhunt, or Dreamsight.
  • Claws: The claws that the Worgen has offers 1d4 pts of damage in an unarmed attack.
  • Low-Light Vision: Worgen can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. They retain the ability to discern color and detail under these conditions.
  • +2 racial bonus on Balance, Climb, and Jump checks: the Worgen's bestial nature enhances many of his physical skills.
  • Favored Class: Hunter. A multiclass Worgen class does not count when determining whether he takes an experience point penalty or not when multiclassing.
Also, the Worgen may take Worgen levels to tap more fully into his Worgen heritage. A new Worgen Racial class is found at my resources page.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Lounge

The Lounge by ~Atlantean6 on deviantART

I'm trying out the Hiro 4 AnimeMe poses. This is called, "The Lounge."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Known Lands Journal, Entry 15

I did 14 Entries on World Building the Known Lands. In this version, we take a look at doing the Warlock class, and converting it over to BESM d20.

Q. Why BESM d20?

A. BESM d20 is actually the best d20 variant rules set out there. Or it was, when Guardians of Order went down, McKinnon sold all of his assets to White Wolf. Now with the economy in dire straits, BESM is no longer supported. BESM d20 is still the best of the d20 Variant Rules, however. And I was so impressed with Guardians of Order that I was about to enter into a publishing relationship with them to get my vision of Atlantis out to the public as part of the Guardians of Order publisher partnership program. Something I thought Wizards of the Coast aught to have done with the d20 Rules set.

Although, I'm telling you, if Wizards of the Coast would abandon part of publishing Dungeons and Dragons for themselves and become the general D&D publisher for independents, they'd make millions of dollars; because its a fine way of helping millions of gamers produce and print their stuff. Plus, the community would actually be able to support 4th Ed as it was intended.

Q. Why the Warlock?

A. Converting the Warlock to BESM d20 is quite easy, actually. Some of the special features convert straight into BESM d20 Attributes.

Because of limited HTML import in Blogger and limited space, I have created a Google Page that provides all the Warlock class information converted to BESM d20. Well, partially converted anyhow. :) Casting DCs are for Advanced d20 Magic.

The Warlock

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Known Lands Journal

Campaign Journal Entry:

Okay, I've been watching Fullmetal Alchemist. Alchemy is the art of Transmuting one material or many materials into something. So, it's time to talk about the Magic in the Known Lands. How magic works in the campaign setting, and what classes it uses.

Well, it only makes sense to tell you that the d20 System has many different sorts of magic options that have been created by creatives in the past ten years. One of the best that came out of it was the Advanced d20 Magic system published by GoO in 2006. It uses the system in Sovereign Stone d20, but with different effects. Advanced d20 Magic takes the system deeper and adds an anime quality to it. Although there is a lot of math involved (anything better in Roleplaying games does involve a lot of math, people!), I love the system and I love how it works. So, on with the show!

Magic Theory in the Known Lands is a bastardization of Quantum Theory from Ancient Times. It's an application of the theory to produce desired effects. Sometimes, these things seemingly override the basic laws of Physics. Which is why it is called magic or Sorcery. A sorcerer: whether he'd be a Wizard, Necromancer, or Warlock; exerts his will over the Universe to create an effect. A priest does this as well to produce a miracle. Desire is key to produce a certain effect: whether it is a fireball, or a lightning bolt, or a healing miracle.

In the Known Lands, Arcanists are divided into three different classes: Wizard, Necromancer, and Warlock. At the other end (Divine Magic) priests are divided into three different classes: Cleric, Druid, and Shaman.

Q. What about psionics? I thought you loved psionics in D&D.

I do. I liked how they worked psionics! But the Advanced d20 Magic system and the way it treats spells makes the psionics system seem obsolete. Psionics is in the Known Lands, but can only be learned from Ancient Technology (i.e. the Atlantean Codex) or passed down through the generations from an ancestor who has learned from Ancient technology. Eventually, what is learned is bastardized back into Arcane and Divine theory. So, you can have a psionic character, but according to how I'm describing how magic works: Psionics is already in the equation. All psionics is about is exerting your desires on the Universe and making them manifest (hence, MANIFESTER class). Magic in the Known Lands works essentially the same way, but people believe it is magic, not science, that is at work here.


The wizard is a master at spellcasting different sorts of spells. A wizard is a generalist, able to speak arcane incantations to produce a desired effect. While the game system that the Known Lands uses is BESM d20, the Wizard class is described in Advanced d20 Magic and has conversions worked out for the BESM d20 rules right in the BESM d20 book.

Wizards in the Known Lands are given respect and honor. So, hence many people seek to become Wizards in the kingdom of Caithness and in the Hordelands. Many people give wizards a wide berth. This is because wizards can cast spells that both help and hinder people. They also use destructive, battle magic to terrible effect. Typically, for all the power they muster, its possible that they can be defeated as for all their power they are only one man and a full company of soldiers will eventually overpower a wizard.

Wizards are secretive, actually. They don't teach powerful secrets to just anyone. In Caithness, the power of the wizard is handed down from Master to apprentice, from teacher to pupil. The young apprentice is often taught from a young age how to master magic, since younger minds are much more impressionable in learning magic. The result is that wizards are few in number, and that the power they can command can be great indeed.


Unlike the Warlock class in Complete Arcane and D&D 4th Edition (which is kept by a bunch of spoiled brats who live in Renton, Washington who don't want to share all their toys with us, the other children, because they happen to be special and say that it is their intellectual property), the Warlock comes from the World of Warcraft Roleplaying Game.

The Warlock is someone who traffics with demons and other beings from other planes, in an attempt to seek demonic power and other forbidden knowledge. The Warlocks of the Known Lands dabble in powers Wizards don't understand and thus their magic is forbidden. Unlike the Wizard, which has evolved from an incomplete understanding of Quantum Theory, the Warlock student learned his magic from demonic and devilish powers.

Warlocks first appeared in the Known Lands when the Orcs came to the Known Lands and fought the ancients with their demonic arcane power during the second Interstellar War. The warlocks were then organized, but since then they were defeated by the Ancients and their psions. As the years passed, Warlock magic became known to elves, humans, orcs, the undead, and gnomes alike.

Warlocks of the Known Lands understand, and use, dark magic. Their spells are much more destructive, more afflictive, and deals with controlling and enslaving demons. Often, warlocks are seen with a pet. Usually this is a demonic entity: an imp, a Void Walker, a succubus, and a fel hunter are the most often seen pets. Warlocks also have the power to summon a nightmarish Fel Steed from the outer planes, and can summon more powerful pets. The Warlock is a feared spellcaster, and they too, pass down their knowledge from Master to apprentice.


In all of the Known Lands, there is but one thing that is absolutely forbidden. That is the Transmutation of a human body. Such magic is forbidden since it dabbles with the cycle of Life. Necromancy, however, is the study of magic in the application of both Life and Death. Necromancers seek magic that animate, transmute, and control the dead. Above all else, this magic is absolutely FORBIDDEN!

But people try. While powerful psions Among the Ancients have been known to bring back the dead, Necromancy caused powerful problems in the History of the Known Lands. It brought down a powerful, Holy Empire; brought upset to the natural balance, and generally wrecked havoc. While Wizards are respected and Warlocks are tolerated in society, a known necromancer is often hunted down and burned at the stake. Still, the desperate often try. Necromancy lures people who are afraid, who have lost someone, and who are suffering from the death of a loved one into its grasp.

The magic of Necromancy has it's perils. While Warlocks may fall under demonic and devilish corruption, and Wizards bend the Universe to their will, Necromancy is a magic of give and take. When you use Necromancy, to give life you must give something up. When you animate the dead, you give a piece of your life force. When you transmute a human being to create life from its simple elements you give something up. Usually parts of your own body. Necromancers are slowly tainted by their magic. The life force they give to animate the dead slowly takes a toll on them. A being who is a necromancer slowly reveals his own soul: hollow eyes, pallid skin, foul odors, and so forth are the signs of a necromancer.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Elves can be Barbarians too

Although they would be Wild Elves or some other elf, elves can be barbarians too. This is an image I did in DAZ studio to test out Posermatic's basicwear morphs for large breasts.

Here, I gave our barbarian here A breasts (which are larger than real A breasts) and morphed the Basicwear bikini over them. This was done in DAZ Studio 3.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Wizards of the Coast has a fansite policy?

Oh, you can bet its up now. A fansite policy. Reading it, you can tell one thing about Wizards.


Come on, Wizards, where is the love? What happened to the hippy movement in the 1960's. The Summer of Luv, the Winter of Luv? What happened to the pioneering movement of the Open Gaming License? I think you just threw all of that away. So, just . . . stick your license up your proverbial donkey!

What? You're hiding behind that stupid Copyright Law guaranteed by the Constitution? Uhm, Wizards, you've abused that Law one too many times to hide behind it now. Look at what happened. You've set a legal precedent for games that can't be stopped (the Open Game License). Anyone can create a game now based off the d20 system, you can't stop it. Why, do you say, its your legal perogative? Look, you {expletive censored for those with sensitive eyes} Intellectual Property is a myth so DEAL WITH IT!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Review: Robotech the Shadow Chronicles

Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles is the next installment in the Robotech saga. It is a movie that shows the legacy of the Invid Regis and the final battle for the Liberation of the Earth from the Invid. Admiral Rick Hunter orders the Robotech Expeditionary Force to amass at Moon Base: Aluce for a direct assault on the Invid Reflex Point. The REF attacks, the Regis destroys everything and leaves the Earth -- and that is that. Or so we thought.

Robotech Revisited

You can't talk about Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles without talking about Robotech itself. Robotech was a 1980s show that came out in 1983. Brought about by Harmony Gold and Carl Macek himself, it was the splicing of three shows into one: Super Dimensional Fortress Macross (which would spin out Macross II, Macross Plus, Macross 7, and Macross 0); Super Dimensional Cavalry Southern Cross, and Mospeda. These three sagas in Robotech are known as the Macross Saga, Southern Cross (since the Robotech Masters come from the Southern Cross), and Next Generation.

Robotech was the most unusual t.v. series on American T.V at that time. Like G.I. Joe, it was military themed. You had military engagements, battles, and a great story. Looking directly, from the overall picture you could say that Robotech glorified war. People said that about G.I. Joe as well. Looking deeper, you see something else about Robotech that people often overlook. Robotech is actually anti-war.

The battle scenes, the death, the destruction depicted in Robotech actually shows kids what happened in war. It does not hold back. Even beloved characters die in conflict (Roy Fokker dies, Admiral Gloval, and so does Marlene and Zor). The consequence of war isn't even held back. Cities get destroyed, people die. Robotech does not glorify war.

That is what makes Robotech so good. People identify with the issues that it presents. While G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is designed to help raise morale for the troops in Afganistan; Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles is still clearly anti-war. War is something the human race shouldn't have to descend into.

Back to the Shadow Chronicles. If you know anything about the Robotech Expeditionary Force and the Invid War, the REF had allies among the Haydonites. Although the Robotech Masters, Zentraedi, and the Invid are WELL chronicled in the Robotech Universe; the Haydonites are the most mysterious. One question remains. WHO IS HAYDON!?

The Haydonites are a cybernetic race. I.e. a lot like the Autobots and Decepticons of HASBRO's Transformers sagas; but a lot unlike them. These living machines fear the Invid Flower of Life and the power it generates. During the REF's Invid War, the Haydonites allies themselves with the REF and provides them with new technologies. I.e. the Shadow technology, the synchro-cannons, and the Neutron-S Missiles. After the Invid leave the Earth, the Haydonites turn traitor on their allies; and thus begins a new war.


I liked the film. It still has anti-war themes. The animation is crisp, and they use 3D graphics for much of the film. Rick Hunter is of advanced age, he has gray hair and a scar. General Rienhardt, who leads the mission, is finally named and we get a good look at him (about 50 to 52 years of age).

Many questions are answered, and we get a good look at the Invid Regis. We also get a reference of the Children of Shadow: which were the Haydonites. The storyline is great, the beginning of the show happens during Robotech episodes 83-85; and that is the first 30 minutes of the show. The other hour takes place during the first engagements with the children of Haydon. We also learn that Janice Em, Doctor Lang's android, also carries Haydonite technology within herself. Captain Grant is then assigned a mission to get the lost SDF-3, the REF flagship; back to Earth along with an intact protoculture matrix.

This is an original spin off of the three shows together. Written and voiced in America, the show was made in Japan and Korea. Although the final Robotech book doesn't seem to be followed (in fact, it's dumped); it makes a lot of sense that this is the new canon storyline. I give this film four stars.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Review of Visionaries

Visionaries is an 80's Cartoon. It was one of many, but there is something about the 80's cartoons that set them a part from other cartoon series. The 1980s saw a rise of complex storylines, better characterization, and sometimes better animation.

The Visionaries were of this class of cartoons. Thanks to He-Man, and Dungeons and Dragons; the Visionaries tried to top them. On a distant planet orbiting a trinary system, an age of Science reigned. But it failed and everything changed. Electricity suddenly stopped working ad a new age of Magic came into being.

After the old order was reduced in the Apocalypse, a new order of Feudalism appeared and a new order of knights. Of this new order, there were two kingdoms: Prince Loric's New Valaris; and Darkstorm's kingdom. The two superpowers were like the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R.; they were evenly matched so something had to give. Merklyn offered both kingdoms the power of magic. And both kingdoms took the offer. The result were the Darkling Lords and the Spectral Knights.

A Critique

To properly critique the series is to understand what happened. The series never did gain a good following, despite it's superior characterization of every character involved. Only thirteen episodes were made and a few comics. I believe few people believed in it because it, too, was a head of its time. However, a few things don't sit right.

1. How can electricity fail in one fell swoop? The way electricity works is still according to law. It provides power and makes machines work. Surely, items of technology still work in the Visionary Universe that Hasbro devised. Electricity is an application of law. So what happened? This turning of an age is mind boggling to a traditional scientist. What happened broke the Laws. However, if we look at the facts.

For seven thousand years, technology reigned. I propose that there were fewer and fewer people who knew how electricity worked and how everything functioned. Someone said that the more technology advanced, the more it seems like magic. And that is what happened. Fewer and fewer people understood what happened is an application of natural law. More and more people took the electrical power for granted. When the age turned, electricity simply didn't work since people believed it was magic and not the result of an application of magical law. Therefore, the collective beliefs of many instead of a few caused a change in how things work. A paradigm shift. The aligning of the trinary just made it apparent to all.

Although many think that the two kingdoms were autonomous, this is not so. I think the real government of Prismos was actually Merklyn himself. Most everything the Visionaries did was in reaction to Merklyn. Merklyn was an impartial judge who sought to maintain the balance of power in Prismos. This is because he helped the Darkling Lords escape a few times. He also asked the knights to go on quests to find certain items. What was also interesting that Merklyn often bestowed magic that seemed helpful at first; but provided a hindrance. Such was revealed in the "Honor Among Thieves" episode when the writers showed that a false sense of security can provide a problem (we have this here in the U.S. of A. Especially among Utahns, who have a false sense of security). In fact, Merklyn provided the Crystal of Detection, which lulled the citizens of New Valaric into a false sense of security. This was driven home even deeper by cries of less weapons and more plants.

Quest shows didn't show up often, though. They were actually quite rare. Most of the shows showed the conflict between the Spectral Knights and the Darkling Lords. And sometimes, impudence against Merklyn himself.

Although a good show with strong characterization and a strong storyline; Visionaries showed potential. With Visionaries competing against other shows of its time, it was eventually cut. The age of good storylines and great characterization was over as Tiny Toons, and other cartoons like it replaced the cartoons of the '80s. Still, with these cartoons coming back in DVD and BluRay, people are rediscovering what made these shows great. Maybe, in the 2010s, we can see shows that had these kind of storylines again. What made an '80s cartoon show great is that it never treated its audience like little children. It treated them with intelligence; as these '80s shows taught the consequences of our choices: good or bad.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Known Lands

Campaign Journal, Entry 2
Other Races

Other races in the Known Lands include:

Halflings (player) -- Another human genetic redesign -- although by natural forces. Halflings also come from another planet; but the planet they came from is a water world of Archipelagos and not continents. Evolution has created them over millions of years of natural selection. Most halflings are usually forward -- adopting human customs. Others cling to their tribal heritage.

Gnomes (player) -- Little space aliens that look human; the origin of the gnomes are unknown. They live longer than humans and thankfully; are a rare species.

Dwarves (player) -- Dwarves are also space aliens. They also look human, but their smaller, tougher frames and genetic differences fail to produce perfect offspring. Half dwarves and half humans are known as mulls (pronounced ˈmyül as in mule).

Goblins (non-player) -- Monstrous humanoid aliens also from another planet. The goblins are a defeated enemy of the Ancient civilization. Goblins in the Known Lands are the descendants of traitors and prisoners of war after the Second Interstellar War. Mostly a tribal society of primitives, most goblins retain an inherent genius for technology. Most people often don't realize that the goblins and their genius -- during the Second Interstellar War, the goblins were the leaders of the opposing civilization that fought the ancient humans and their allies.

Hobgoblins (non-player) -- Hobgoblins are genetic redesigns of goblins. The goblins created them to be the warrior caste (with the goblins being the science caste) of their original civilization. Bred for war and violence, the hobgoblins are a larger and human sized version of the goblin. They are warriors first and thinkers second. Although in the millions of years since the second Interstellar War, the hob-goblins live in isolated tribal societies and developed a culture built around honor. Hobgoblins are typically ruddy -- a reddish brown color offsetting the brownish green of the goblin.

Bugbears (non-player) -- Brutish goblin redesign, the bugbears are meant to be shock troopers; elite troops that were abandoned because of their ferocity. Bugbears still exist in the Known Lands, and are hard to deal with. An infestation of bugbears means violence in short order.

Ogres (Non-player) -- When the goblins conquered Archaeri and most of Outland, they found the Orcs. Using their weird science, the goblins managed to recreate humans from Orc DNA, and studied the orcs. Then they genetically redesigned a few of them to be even more primitive and monstrous. The result is the ogre, a human genetic redesign that incorporates goblin DNA with the human DNA. The goblins then enslaved the orcs, made them worship demons and turned them into a powerful force to use against their enemies: the Ancient humans.

Using "magic" the orcs and ogres were unleashed on the home planet of the Ancient humans; the Known Lands. The goblins were ultimately defeated in the Second Interstellar war, but ogres exist in the Known Lands. They are primitive, savage, backward, and dangerous. As a human genetic redesign, human and ogre relations do produce half-ogres.

Centaurs (non-player) -- Centaurs were allies to the humans during the First and Second Interstellar Wars and a colony was allowed to settle in the Known Lands. They aren't prolific, but Centaurs exist everywhere. Wemics were also allies, and have settled in southern lands among the black humans.

Draqons (Non-player) -- Dragons are the most powerful beings in the Known Lands. They are also the true inhabitants of the Known Lands. When the humans came, millions of years ago, the Dragons regarded them as a threat, but they were quickly defeated by their own disunity. There are three types of Dragons in the Known Lands:

Metallic Dragons include Gold, Silver, Copper, Brass, Bronze, Mercury, and Steel. Metallic Dragons typically worship Bahamut, the good dragon god.
Gem Dragons include Amethyst, Sapphire, Emerald, Topaz, Ruby, and Crystal. They abandoned worship of a draconic god long ago and learned the Ancient physics of the humans. Applying human physics, they have developed psionic power.
Chromatic Dragons include Red, Green, White, Blue, and Black. The chromatic dragons typically worship Tiamat.

Next: Unusual Races -- will humans mate with anything?

The Known Lands

Campaign Journal, Entry 1

When a DM sets about creating a homebrew campaign world, he often starts from scratch. World Building is the most sublime of expression of Art, more sublime than that of depicting the naked female human in sculpture or on canvas. World Building requires a knowledge of many disciplines: geography, geology, oceanography, biology, and even physics (Quantum Physics and Relativity along with classical physics).

So where does one begin? Returning to the known lands to reconfigure the world and to define it according to new knowledge is an important start. The first place one often begins, what system should the world be used in?

A good world builder would say: Any.

The Known Lands needs it's notebook: currently, my computer system is that notebook. :) An Apple Macintosh Macbook Pro serves as my DM's Notebook. So, again, lets start somewhere simple: the hook.

I imagine the Known Lands to be the legacy of an ancient, ultra technical civilization that seeded the planet. After the civilization had fallen, there was a long night and a long spring. A dark age where ancient secrets where lost and ancient science was transformed. The civilization has become absolutely mythical in its aspect. It leaves behind powerful artifacts of powerful technologies and it's scientific knowledge of physics has become bastardized into a theory of arcane and divine magic.

Now, it is millions of years later and the people have climbed out of the Long Night and slowly into a new age of Enlightenment.

Humans are the children, the true genetic legacy, of this ancient civilization. There are three "races" of humans: the White, the Yellow, and the Black. Black humans live in the southern reaches, yellow humans migrated to the Eastern lands, and the White live in the west. Occasionally, wars brought the races together; allowing for integration at times or cultural close proximity.

Elven Paladin by ~Atlantean6 on deviantART

Elves are a genetic redesign of the human for living on another world (this world is known as Arborea). Once called the Eladrin, the forebears of the elves were forced to flee to the Known Lands after Arborea was invaded by Mind Flayers during an Interstellar War between the Mind Flayers and the Ancients. Although the Ancients managed to defeat and destroy the Mind Flayers on Arborea, the Elves had decided to stay in the Known Lands and not return. Elven creation myths tell of the great egg which their Gods had sprang forth to populate the world (an ancient racial memory of what actually happened).

by ~doriefs on deviantART
Orcs are also a genetic redesign of the human. The orcs were made for living on Outland and Archaeri. They are much more monstrous, having fangs and often look much more primitive -- hearkening back to Homo erectus. This is because while the Elves were developed by scientists who believed that the human form was the crowning achievement of Creation, the orcs were developed by scientists that believed in Darwinian evolution and thought a more primitive, monstrous form would survive the planets of Outland and Archaeri.

Orcs are mostly shamanistic but many groups worship demons and seek demonic power. The orcs returned to the Known Lands as a Legion during a second Interstellar War with a powerful enemy. Like the elves, the Orcs also have creation myths that revolve around an egg. But their mythological cycle, although peaceful, has recently included great violence and bloodshed.

Next Journal Entry:
More Races -- >
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