Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Internet and Copyright

Most of you are probably wondering why I have joined with the Libertarian Cause to get rid of Copyright or to reduce it's power.  Why I think the OGL was a good idea, and why I find Wizards of the Coast's handling of 4e so perplexing that I don't know whether to laugh or to cry.  So I just laugh, since crying can invite sadness and depression.

To understand where I am coming from I have to address two issues: Free Content vs. Copyright, and the Cult of Originality, Crappy Products, and Good Products.

The simple answer is: We live in an era of near instantaneous communication which works by way of the Internet.  The Internet is a copy machine.  It's THE perfect copy machine.  You either have to take our Free Speech and Free Press Rights away -- which was granted by the Divine, or you have to learn to live with the fact that this machine exists and use it purely for your benefit without infringing on the Rights to Free Speech and Free Press on others.

The simple answer to the second issue is this: You can't curb Crappy derivative and transformative products.  It's impossible.  Some fan who excercises his creativity in exactly the wrong field will always produce CRAPPY derivatives.

I will deal with part of the Second and the First in this blog post.  And I'll largely deal with the second in a future Blog Post.

To first understand why Libertarians want to abolish copyrights is to understand the History of Copyright in the first place and the Internet's purpose in the second.  Lets start with the internet.
The Internet is the result of Man's advances in the art of Printing for the last 500 to 600 years.  It is the source we go to get our news, to communicate with people over vast distances, and rely on for commerce.  The internet is a communication device because it can copy and transmit vast amounts of data to many different people.  It's a printing device because it can copy and transmit vast amounts of data perfectly to many different people.

The Internet is the culmination of the moveable type printing press technology. Invented by  Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg in and around 1439 A.D.; he first printed the Bible.  It was a best seller.

The Printing Press moved to England, and soon William Tyndale printed the bible in English.  The Catholic Church got in an uproar over his printing of the Bible in English, and burned him to the stake.  That was the first time a Copyright was applied.  Despite this, Tyndale's Bible was copied and progulmated across England.  The Bible was read in the Southern English Dialect and standardized English pronounciation.


Later, the Government of England got nervous about the Printing Press.  Not as nervous as the Catholic Church, but nervous enough.  If someone can print a bible, a human anatomy pop-up book, and a scientific treatise of the Solar System; they can print Seditious and Libelous Tracts against the State.

Parliament and the Crown sought to control such seditious and libelous tracts against the state by creating a guild of private sector censors called the London Company of Stationers.  The London Company of Stationers weren't the first thought police, China has that dubious honor of creating the first recorded instance of a thought police.

Because of the Law, the Stationers were granted a monopoly over all printing in England.  Yes, the Stationers were granted a monopoly over printing in England. Every work, old and new, could be theirs to print as long as they kept a strict eye on what was printed.  As a result, their Charter not only gave them the exclusive right to print but also the right to search out and destroy unauthorized presses and books, and even had the right to burn illegal books.  As a result, the Company of Stationers had effectively become the English Government's private, for profit thought police force.


It gets better.  This system was openly designed to serve the book seller and the English Government, not the author or the reader.  New books were entered in by a company member's name, not the author's. By convention, the member who registered the entry held the "copyright", the exclusive right to publish that book, over other members of the Company, and the Company's Court of Assistants resolved infringement disputes.

This was not simply the latest manifestation of some pre-existing form of copyright. It's not as though authors had formerly had copyrights, which were now to be taken away and given to the Stationers. The Stationers' right was a new right, though one based on a long tradition of granting monopolies to guilds as a means of control. Before this moment, copyright — that is, a privately held, generic right to prevent others from copying — did not exist. People routinely printed works they admired when they had the chance, an activity which is responsible for the survival of many of those works to the present day. One could, of course, be enjoined from distributing a specific document because of its potentially libelous effect, or because it was a private communication, or because the government considered it dangerous and seditious. But these reasons are about public safety or damage to reputation, not about property ownership. There had also been, in some cases, special privileges (then called "patents") allowing exclusive printing of certain types of books. But until the Company of Stationers, there had not been a blanket injunction against printing in general, nor a conception of copyright as a legal property that could be owned by a private party.

This won't Change until the Statute of Anne, and the U.S. Constitution.  The copyright clause: "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." -- was greatly debated by Madison and Jefferson and this was the result.

Notice it says Authors and Inventors not companies.  However, a Copyright Law was enacted with Hamilton suggesting that the Copyright Term lasts to 14 years.  However, Copyright always serves the middle man.  The Printing Company -- the Walt Disney Company, Wizards of the Coast, Harper and Collins, Houston Mifflin, etc -- is benefited the most when it comes to Printing.

This is was the status quo, with Copyright terms being increased in the 20th Century by authors and artists who were brainwashed that Copyright served them.  Then came the invention of the Computer.  The first computers were impossibly huge electronic calculators.   Although Babbage was working on a cipher machine back in the late 19th Century, the first real computer was a monstrosity of vaccuum tubes and wired circuits.

micro-computers were invented, thanks to the Transistor and the integrated circuit.  Then an experiment was conducted by the U.S. Military and a few U.S. Universities taking advantage of XEROX PARC's invention of the ethernet.  This experiment, called ArcNet, was the next stage of evolution in printing and communications technology.  Something that won't take off until Compuserve, America On-line, and eventually ---- the World Wide Web.

The Internet was invented, and the Internet is composed of interlocking, interlinking microcomputers across the Planet.  And the Internet, for the first time, is a cheep, near instantaneous way of sharing information. It was a revolution!  And for the first time, Copyright Law, has been made obsolete by this technology.

Years ago, the Company of Stationers made the argument that if Printing was left in the hands of everyone, printing would be impossible.  Now, Printing is left in the hands of everyone thanks to the Internet.  Now the Company of Stationers argument can be testable.  So, would authors still create without a centralized distribution system to publish their works?  The answer is an emphatic YES!  They already are.  It's as simple as that. :)

Copyright has been borked by the Internet.  Copyright has been destroyed by the Internet.  Copyright allows for a centralized distribution system to publish works.  The Internet has made competition with the middle men possible and profitable.  It also made copying of works possible and profitable.  Therefore, with this reality, it's become a different world.  The Author must work hard to get his thoughts down on paper and to advertise his work.

Now that the internet has been invented, do you think God thinks highly of a centralized distribution system of print?  Of course not.  One time, he commanded Joseph Smith to sell the copyright of his precious Book of Mormon (God owns the copyright on the Book of Mormon).  If God was willing to give it up, don't you think that an author or musician should rethink their position on Copyright?

Shouldn't we all?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Understanding Free Content

Someone asked that I should come up with a logical reason to create derivative and transformative works based on someone else's work.   He said that my reasons of using neuroscience and quantum mechanics (i.e. the nature of Energy) are stupid and he labeled them as pseudoscience.  They are just an original way of addressing the problem.

Lets do something unoriginal and use Nina Paley's little explanation of how Free Content Works.  How Copyright is actually causing trouble, and what we can do to stand to profit in world where one uses the non-rivalrous goods (i.e. information in Races of Eberron or Serpent Kingdoms) to sell the rivalrous goods (actual physical copies of Races of Eberron or Serpent Kingdoms).

-----

Content is an unlimited resource. People can now make perfect copies of digital content for free. That's why they expect content to be free — because it is in fact free. That is GOOD.
Think of "content" — culture — as water. Where water flows, life flourishes.
content is free, like water in a river
Containers — objects like books, DVDs, hard drives, apparel, action figures, and prints — are not free. They are a limited resource. No one expects these objects to be free, and people voluntarily pay good money for them.
containers are not free
Think of "containers" — books, discs, hard drives — as jugs and vessels. These containers add utility to and increase the value of the water. If you can get water for free in the public river, great — that doesn't reduce the value of vessels. Quite the contrary: when rivers flow, the utility and value of water vessels increases.
free vs not free; use the unlimited resource to sell the limited resource
Continuing this metaphor: copyright monopolies are an attempt to dam up and control all the rivers, reducing them to a trickle. When Big Media succeeds locking up culture, it's like in closing off water: they get a stagnant pool that turns to poison. Fish die and mosquitoes swarm, because the water has no source to flow from nor destination to flow to.
a stagnant pool with mosquitos and fish corpses
(That's how we get things like this.)
Artists don't "own" culture, but we do own our names (attribution). Any artist who has enjoyed a community of fans knows how the power in their name is generously granted by audiences. Our audiences want us to thrive. They want their money and support to reach us.
artist and audience
Therefore an artist's cooperation with a merchandiser is valuable. A signed book is worth more than an unsigned one. Merchandisers who cooperate with artists — share revenue with them — get the blessing of both artist and audience and can sell more objects for more money.
publisher as exchange agent between artist and audience
Under the Creative Commons Share Alike license, Sita Sings the Blues-containing objects can be manufactured and sold by anyone without my permission. But whoever shares revenue with me gets my "creator endorsed mark" or signature, and gets my fans sent to the product (via community word-of-mouth and my web site).
the creator-endorsed mark
Competing products can nonetheless be sold without my endorsement. If they're cheaper, of better quality, or more accessible, they might sell better than my endorsed products. Why shouldn't they? Competition can be good. All the more incentive for any business I partner with to make their products high quality, reasonably priced and easily available. There's no incentive to compete with a good product; if there's a good affordable Sita Sings the Blues coffee table book or graphic novel, why should anyone bother publishing another? If they do, the competing book must have some important quality lacking in the first. If that competitor's quality differential is so high it's worth more than my endorsement, then good for them for doing something right.
Remember:
Free Enterprise is Free Culture too.
Common Questions about Free Content:
Q. Why make a book when you can get the content free on the Internet?
A. Because there are limits to the Internet. You can't touch it or smell it. Images are restricted to screen quality and may cause eyestrain.
straining to read a screen
Books have value as objects beyond the intellectual wealth they embody. They are portable, tactile, and invulnerable to power outages. Art books can have even more valuable attributes: glossy coatings, embossing, reflective and matte inks, paper textures, super-high resolutions. Books can be beautiful objects in their own right. Signed books are works of art. Books can have value as collector's items, because they are LIMITED.
a beautiful book
Audiences seek a connection with creators. Even if the content is free, many fans desire a physical token of the work. They also want to support the artist. Merchandise — objects, like books, DVDs, apparel — acts as a medium to conduct these artist-audience transactions.
Q. Why make it free on the internet if it's available as a book (or DVD, CD, etc.)?
A. Because if it's free, it can spread. If it's good, the audience will quote it, cite it, share it, review it, and promote it. Free accomplishes everything advertising does, except it's good not evil, free not controlled, voluntarily shared not forced down throats. Instead of spending vast sums on crappy advertising to sell "content" you've locked up, just free the content and let it advertise itself. Use the unlimited resource to sell the limited resource.
Q. But even with the internet, I still have to advertise!
A. Maybe. Depends on what your content and how much time you have. If what you have is good, just give it time. "Viral" growth is exponential, but it can take a while. Or you can use advertising to artificially direct audience attention to something they wouldn't care about otherwise. If the work is not good, interest will drop off when advertising does.
graph comparing free culture growth with restricted culture growth
That's our vision of Free. It's not communism. It's not capitalism as we know it. It's definitely not monopolies. It is Free Culture, and Free Enterprise.

A Tale of Two Authors: Why Translations Happen, or Don't.

A repost from Question Copyright.org -- by Karl Fogel.



Why don't books get translated?
If you think it's because it's hard to find willing translators, or because the skills required are too rare, I'd like to offer two case studies below that point to another explanation:

The reason translations don't happen is that we mostly prohibit them. That is to say, translations are what happens naturally, except when copyright restrictions suppress them.

If you're skeptical, consider the following tale of two authors, one whose books are free to be translated by anyone, another whose books are not.

We'll even stack the deck a bit. The author whose books are freely translatable will be a relatively minor author, one whose books are not, to be perfectly honest, of earth-shaking importance. Whereas some of the the books by the other author are acknowledged masterpieces in their original language, and you will see quotes from a prominent scholar about how the absence of translations is "one of the great intellectual scandals of our time".

The first author is me. I've written two books, both available under free licenses, and although I'm proud of them and glad I wrote them, neither is of any great historical significance. The first, published in 1999, was a semi-technical manual on how to use some collaboration software. Despite its limited audience and my having put it online in a somewhat cumbersome format, several volunteer translation efforts sprang up quickly, and at least one (into German) was completed. The other efforts may have been completed as well; I'm not sure, and since the book is old now and I can't read the translations anyway I haven't bothered to track them down. Note I'm really just talking about the volunteer translations — the ones that people started because they wanted to, without asking anyone's permission first. There was also a translation into Chinese, which was completed and which I have a paperback copy of, but we won't count it as evidence here because it went through publisher-controlled channels.
My next book, first published in 2005, likewise appeals to a fairly limited audience: it's about how to manage collaborative, open source software projects — I wasn't exactly aiming for the top of the bestseller lists. But with the gracious cooperation of my publisher, O'Reilly Media, I put it online under a free license, this time in a somewhat more amenable format, and volunteer translation efforts sprang up almost immediately. Several of them have completed their translations: the Japanese, Galician, German, Dutch, and French. The Spanish is almost done, and there are others still under way that I'm not even bothering to list here.

(Yes, by the way, some of those translations are available in high-quality commercial paper versions, and I have copies of them at home. Commercial activity is perfectly compatible with non-restrictive distribution models, as we have pointed out before.)

So... all this for a book on open source software collaboration? Really? What does this tell us?
Well, let's look at a contrasting example.

The author Hans Günther Adler (published as "H.G. Adler") died in 1988 having produced what are widely accepted as some of the core works of Holocaust literature in German. Very few of his works have been translated into English, but recently one, the novel Panorama, was published in English and was widely reviewed.

A look at two of the reviews shows why here at QuestionCopyright.org we consider reframing the public conversation around copyright to be our primary mission. Both reviewers — obviously intelligent, obviously in agreement about Adler's significance, and writing for two of the most influential literary publications in the English language — comment on the shameful absence of Adler translations in English, yet collapse into a curious kind of passive voice when it comes to the reasons for that absence.

First, Judith Shulevitz in the New York Times:
Every so often, a book shocks you into realizing just how much effort and sheer luck was required to get it into your hands. "Panorama" was the first novel written by H.G. Adler, a German-speaking Jewish intellectual from Prague who survived a labor camp in Bohemia, Theresienstadt, Auschwitz and a particularly hellish underground slave-labor camp called Langenstein, near Buchenwald. Adler wrote the first draft in less than two weeks in 1948... He wound up in England, but couldn't find anyone willing to publish the book until 1968, 20 years and two drafts later. The book is coming out in English for the first time only now.
It's hard to fathom why we had to wait so long. ... [Adler] is almost entirely unknown in the English-speaking world. Only three of his books have been translated: a historical work, "Jews in Germany"; a novel called "The Journey"; and now, "Panorama." That American and British readers have had such limited access to Adler's writing and thought for so long is, as the eminent scholar of modern German literature Peter Demetz has written, "one of the great intellectual scandals of our time." [emphasis added]
And this from Ruth Franklin writing for the New Yorker:
...Hermann Broch wrote that the book ["Theresienstadt 1941-1945"] would become the standard work on the subject, and that Adler's "cool and precise method not only grasps all the essential details but manages further to indicate the extent of the horror in an extremely vivid form." (The book was published in Germany in 1955 and quickly became a touchstone in German Holocaust studies, but it has never been translated into English.) [emphasis added]
 — "The Long View: A rediscovered master of Holocaust writing."
by Ruth Franklin
New Yorker, 31 January 2011
Now, to be fair, Shulevitz and Franklin were writing reviews of Adler's work itself, not analyses of why those works have been so little translated into English. Yet it is striking that both choose to comment on the absence of translations, at some length, and yet they don't speculate on the reasons at all. They merely describe the situation and express regret, as though it were bad weather. There is no outrage or frustration at the fact that the reason we don't have those translations is simply that they have been suppressed before they could be started.

I'm not even going to put qualifiers like "probably" or "likely" before that. It should be treated as a finding of fact, at this point. If my books — my little tomes aimed a small sub-demographic of the software development world — get translated multiple times from English into languages with smaller readerships, then there is simply no way that H.G. Adler's much more important books, on a much more important topic, would not have been translated from German into English already, if only anyone (or more importantly, any group) who had the ambition to do so had been free to. English and German have a huge overlap in terms of people fluent in both languages, and there is wide interest in Holocaust studies among speakers of both languages. Furthermore, there are non-profit and state funding sources that would have gladly supported the work. That happened even with mine, for example: the Dutch translation was published in book form by SURFnet, who paid the translators to guarantee completion. It would be incomprehensible if funding could be found for that but somehow not for Adler translations.

The fact that the reason for the lack of Adler translations — and the lack of translations for other important works — is not immediately understood by all to be copyright restrictions points a glaring weakness in public debate about copyright. Right now, translators can't translate if they don't secure the rights first, and since the default stance of copyright is that you don't have those rights unless someone explicitly gives them to you, most potential translators give up without even trying. Or more likely, they never even think of trying, because they have become habituated to the permission-based culture. The process of merely tracking down whom to ask for permission is daunting enough, never mind the time-consuming and uncertain negotiations that ensue once you find them.

It is no wonder that so many worthy works remain untranslated, given these obstacles. But it is a wonder that we continue to hide our eyes from the reason why, even as it stares us in the face.


Thanks, Karl, for letting me copy!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Trojan War

Almost all of the Greek myths have been adapted or made into films, television, and written about in books.  However, the one myth that that has been adapted the most was the Myth of the Trojan War.   Recounted first by Homer of Greece (Achaia).  This was recounted in the Iliad, and then the myth has been adapted and transformed so many times by Americans and the British it can only mean one thing.  The Trojan War is an Epic Battle between two nations -- Greece and Israel.

The Trojan War as a National Epic

There are two players in this great drama, of a war that launched a thousand ships from the Aegean to the lands of Troy.  Greece and Troy.  Greece --  (Achaia) at that time was under control of Mycenae.  The Greeks, or Hellenes, shared a double ancestry.   First, Javan of Japeth took his family and migrated to the Peloponeseus and founded the lands of Achaia.  His inhabitants spread through the land and worshiped first Chronos (Saturn), then Zeus (Jupiter) along with Aphrodite (Venus) and Ares (Mars).  Along to join him were other indo-europeans also descendants of Japeth.  They spoke proto-Greek.

Javan is identified as Hellen by the Greeks.  But in time, others came.  Cecrops had come, a descendant of Zarah -- son of Judah.  He founded Athens, while his kinsman -- Cadmus -- founded Thebes, and several other cities were founded by other kinsmen (including Argos).  Sparta itself was founded by Dan, and many of the Danites moved north, past the Danube.  Cecrops and Cadmus brought laws instituting marriage, and cast down human sacrifice to pagan gods.  They could not cast down paganism completely, but they instituted many reforms.  By the time the Greeks had come to fight the Trojan War, they were a mixed people of Hebrew and Indo-European Descent and spoke Mycenaean Greek.

Troy was founded by Darda (Most likely Troy VI, but could be Troy V).  Darda was also a descendant of Zarah, son of Judah.  The first son of Judah, Zarah's bloodline was to become the Kings of Europe.  He founded Troy, which soon became a great trading center.

Achilles
Homer lists the principle actors in the Trojan War to be as follows:
  • Paris -- Prince of Troy, son of King Priam.  He falls in love with Helen and steals her away.
  • King Menelaus -- King of Sparta, husband to Helen. 
  • King Agamemnon -- The King of Mycenae.  Perhaps the true villain in the entire saga.
  • Achilles -- King of Thebes, the best swordsman in all Greece.
  • Odysseus -- King of Ithica.  Someone who felt he shouldn't have gone in the first place, but Agamemnon needed his wisdom.
  • King Priam -- King of Troy and pure descendant of Zarah of Judah.
  • Hector -- Best fighter of the Trojans.
  • Helen -- the face that launched a thousand ships.

Character Analysis of the Iliad

Protagonist --  King Menelaus, King of Sparta.   His wife, his beautiful wife, was stolen from him by Paris, the Prince of Troy.
Antagonists -- Paris of Troy, Agamemnon of Mycenae
Contagonist -- Odysseus of Ithica
Guardian -- King Priam of Troy

Logic -- Hector, Briseis
Emotional -- Cassandra, Helen
Follower -- Patroclos
Skeptic -- Achilles

Main Character
 The Main Character in the Iliad is Achilles without a doubt.  Although in further adaptations of the story, the Main Character switches from Achilles to Menelaus, to Helen, to Paris, and other characters in the story.  There is a play where Agamemnon is treated heroically only to have his life end tragically.

Impact Character
Briseis
Briseis is the Impact Character that challenges Achilles' point of view of the War.  The Trojan concubine that Achilles and Agamemnon fought over eventually became the property of Achilles.  The great war, which lasts ten years, in all that time Achilles fought for the Greeks.  However, the young maid put doubt in Achilles' heart about the War as to whether it is just.  The major change in Achilles' heart is first seen when Priam asks for Hector's body to be properly buried.


Why was the Trojan War fought?
The War was fought over Trojan Wealth, Trojan control of the Bosporus or Dardanelles, and Troy's control of the Tin Oxide trade in the East.  All roads led to Troy at that time, and the Hellenes, Danaan, or Achaeans were jealous to control that trade.  What ever the reasons, the trigger is the most written about and the most commented upon in the myths.

Menelaus
Who was in the Right?
As far as I understand it, the only Greek King that was truly in the right during the war was Menelaus.  King Menelaus felt that Paris kidnapped his wife and took her to Troy.  He eventually wins the war, and travels with Helen to Egypt.  I agree with this assessment, because Menelaus was truly hurt by Paris stealing his wife, his property.  

Who was in the wrong?
 Both Paris and Agamemnon are actually to be blamed for wrong doing.  Paris, because he stole another man's wife; and Agamemnon for going to war to Troy for reasons that aren't discussed.  He needed an excuse and Helen was that excuse.

Who escalated the War?
Odysseus escalated the War.  The Iliad begins with Achilles and Agamemnon fighting over who would possess Briseis.   When Achilles lost, he sulked in his tent for all that time.  Odysseus, getting reports of what was going on in Ithica, wanted to bring the Trojan War to an end.  He wanted to return to Penelope and live out his life as King of Ithica.  He escalated the war through trickery and deceit.

 Which side suffered the most?
 Both sides.  The Greeks suffered because of Agamemnon's drive and obstinance.  Thousands of lives were lost on the Greek side of the war.  Similarly, many Trojans and Troy's allies also suffered.  Many of the Amazons in the region died during battle.  Patroclos was slain, which brought out Achilles.  Eventually, the Trojans lost because of poor judgment.  They allowed a gift of the Greeks to come in, the Trojan Horse, which contained many Greek Soldiers.  During the night, the Greek Soldiers came out of the Horse and proceeded to sack the city.

What was the outcome?
 The destruction and razing of Troy by Odysseus and his men and the scattering of the Trojans to the North and to the West.  Achilles died because he wanted to protect Briseis.  Hector died because he wanted to protect Troy and bring an end to the conflict.  Priam died because he brought in the Trojan Horse.

Who survived?
Aeneas
 Aeneas and his people eventually moved Westward to establish a colony in the area of Rome.  About sometime later, his grandson Brutus leads about a thousand Trojans to the British Isles and establish Troynovant or Caer Troas.  This colony would later become London.

A number of kingdoms were founded as the Trojans who left and was scattered to Scandinavia.  Memnon eventually begat Thor who eventually begat Odin.  These Trojans settled Norway, Sweden, and Finland.  Eventually their descendants (who included members of many other Hebrew Tribes) came to settle England and Norway.   One of them, William the Conquerer, would set about finally finishing what happened at Glastonbury after the reign of Arthur.  

How does it end?
Menelaus wins his wife back, and they retire in Egypt.  As they retired, Sparta suffered a decline in power and influence and eventually fell to a Doric (Indo-European) invasion like most of Greece.

Did the Trojan War actually happen?
The Trojan War does have a basis in Historical Fact.  The Egyptians, largely a neutral power in the War, have records related to the War.  According to the Egyptian perspective, Paris stops in Karnak (Thebes) Egypt and visits the Pharaoh.  The Pharaoh recognized that Paris stole Helen from her real husband and sends him back to Troy without her.  The Pharaoh keeps Helen until Menelaus comes to claim her.  After Menelaus claims her, they stay in Egypt for the rest of their lives.

Hittite sources tell of a Wilusa kingdom in the area where Troy is.  This source is the Tawagalawa letter.  The letter accounts of an unnamed Hittite king's correspondence to the king of the Ahhiyawa, referring to an earlier "Wilusa episode" involving hostility on the part of the Ahhiyawa.  This is based on a letter from the Hittite king to the king of the Ahhiyawa people.  Sources independent of the Tawagalawa letter also mentions one Alaksandu, which could have been Paris since his birth name was Alexandros.

Troy VIIa
As for Archaeology, Heinrich Schliemann excavated Troy.  Although Archaeology was in its infancy, and what he did was considered to be acceptable at the time; Archaeologists right now would like to hit him on the head.  But Schliemann did excavated the city in a gross manner, and established that there was a Troy.  Scholars now, however, date the War as occuring during the life of Troy VIIa; because of the burn layer found there.

Note though, as Archaeology of the site progresses, a different picture than the one Homer wrote about arises.  So what actually happened?  Who knows?  Archaeology is presenting a different picture based on what has been recovered.

So, is the Iliad truly history?  Homer based much of his epic poem in fact, that much is clear.  With Hittite sources and Egyptian sources mentioning Helen, Paris, and Menelaus it must have happened based on the testimony of two independent Kingdoms.  However, some of Homer may have written what is fiction.  Achilles and Hector's superhuman feats, and Achilles supposed invulnerability, is undoubtedly fiction.  Homer may have recounted the War for an entirely different reason than to write a national historical epic.

But still, the story is a very popular subject in Hollywood in the U.S.  Why this is, it's clear, the Trojan War -- more than any other Greek Myth -- is a National Epic of two nations: Greece -- which was the winners, and Israel, who was the loser.  Of course, History is written by the winners, and there is no way to get the actual Trojan view of the war and what led to its defeat.


WORKS CITED
Historical and Literary
  • Fagles, Robert, and Bernard Knox. The Iliad . New York, N.Y., U.S.A.: Viking, 1990. Print. 
  • Ancient Discoveries -- Siege of Troy. Dir. Ben Mole. Perf. Stephen Kemble. A&E Television Networks, 2007. DVD.
  • The True Story of Troy (History Channel). Dir. Gary Glassman. Perf. Tom Bruno, Kevin Cirone, Allegra De Vita. A&E Home Video, 2004. DVD. 
  • In Search of the Trojan War. Dir. Bill Lyons. Perf. Michael Wood, John Chadwick, Peter Connolly. Bbc Warner, 2001. DVD.  
  • Frost, Frank J.. Greek society . Lexington, Mass.: Heath, 1971. Print. 
  • Fagles, Robert. The Odyssey . New York: Viking, 1996. Print.  

Mythological

Hunt, Keith. "The Trojan connection with Britain." Keith Hunt - Trojans - Jews - Israel - Britain. Version 1.0. Keith Hunt, n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2011.
Freeborn, Leland. "Helen of Troy, the face that launched a thousand ships." Helen of Troy July 2001 Tribes # 9. Version 1.0. The Parowan Prophet dot com, n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2011.
 

Dreams and Dreaming

They say pretty much you can stimulate your crown chakra by writing down your dreams and visions.  I had one last night, a dream.

It was a dream where my grandparents had recently died (they are all dead by now), and we were cleaning everything up in the garage. I dreamed of everything from DVD racks (the kind you have where you sell things) and candy dispensers, to beating up one Lex Luthor. I think we are going to move soon because we were moving.  I didn't see the house that we were moving into, but it's cool.

Here's to moving! :D

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Phoenicia's Player's Guide is being written!

First of all, there is seemingly a misunderstanding about my Pathfinder Campaign Setting.  There is a problem with blogs, they tend to put your latest post first.  I worried over this, and apparently my worry came true (the Law of Attraction really works, folks!  I deeply admonish you to learn it!)

Anyhow, it's nice that people come out and say that they won't be players in my campaign for one reason or another.  However, it's frustrating.  First of all, my campaign is not directly related to Ancient Sparta.  As much as I know about that city state (with a government that's really hard to wrap a mind around), Sparta is not the primary inspiration for my campaign.

Hercules: the Legendary Journeys T.V. Show, produced by Sam Raimi, is.  Frustrating as it sounds, yes I know.  Because of a foolish law that has been made obsolete by the Internet, Pheonicia won't be officially apart of the Golarion universe.  In order to survive as a writer on a planet with an Internet, you either have to support measures to limit Free Speech and further Limit Free Press, like RIAA and MPAA do; or you just have to accept that the Internet exists and use it's community for your gain.

Ahem.  That and I'm not a fan of Golarion.  It's a great setting, but the whole idea of the Original Dungeons and Dragons game is that you work with your own ideas.  So, as a result, I'm writing the Player's Guide to Phoenicia to bring everything together so that you will know, at last, that my setting has nothing to do with Sparta.

Harrumph.  Now that everything is clear, lets move on, shall we?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pheonicia's Armies

The armies of Phoenicia is made up of footsoldiers comprised of fighters, warriors and psychic warriors. Over half of Phoenicia is protected by the Hoplite army. The other part is made up of Vedan warrior units.

So far, Pheonicia had to go to war only twice since the Hellenic conquest. But the city had to defend itself from invaders numerous times. The army it has is mostly made up of non-psychics, but there are three units of Psychic Warriors that defend the city. The units are:

Ares' Sons
Athena's Pride
Rama's Knights

Ares' Sons
Ares' Sons is a Hoplite unit that is comprised of Psychic Warriors.  Armed with an aspis, greaves, and cuirasses the Psychic Warrior hoplite is often ready for battle.  The helmet they wore is the Corinthian helmet, and the weapons they bear are the dory (spear) and the xiphon (short sword).  The hoplite panoply is considered to be AC 14 when constructed out of bronze, and AC 16 when constructed out of iron.

From Wikimedia, in the public domain.


Ares' Sons are located in a fortress built to train their number.  The fortress includes a temple to Ares.  Also called the Spartiates or the Sparti, Ares' Sons are relentless in battle.  When on the field, they are strike fast, and they strike hard.  They are decisive, and able to destroy the enemy in a relentless advance.

Ares Fortress
The fortress of Ares' Sons include the following:


Temple dedicated to Ares -- the temple dedicated to Ares has priests of the War God sacrificing goats.  The temple doubles as a Martial Arts dojo where the tenants go to worship the God of War by learning Martial Arts.  Here, they perfect their use of the spear, the aspis, the sword, and learn unarmed martial arts and grappling.


Other rooms of the temple are dedicated to offensive tactical maneuvers, tactical studies of other kingdoms (they have a copy of The Art of War) and military history.

Here the following feats are taught to young psychic warriors of the Ares' Sons unit:
General Warrior Feats:
Combat Reflexes, Power Attack, Improved Bull Rush, Defensive Combat Training, Improved Sunder, Dodge, Improved Overrun, Cleave, Great Cleave, Endurance, Weapon Focus, Greater Weapon Focus


Psionic Feats:
Psionic Talent, Psionic Weapon, Greater Psionic Weapon, Deep Impact, Focused Sunder, Speed of Thought, Psionic Charge, Combat Manifestation


Psionic Feats from Bruce R. Cordell's Hyperconscious:
Dorje Blade, Psychic Bastion, Wounding Cut, Wounding Resonance, and Visceral Surge.

Weapon Master Nicodemos
Male human Cleric of Ares 4/Psychic Warrior 10


Nicodemos is the main trainer at Ares' Fortress.  He oversees the training of Ares' Sons units.  He's fifty seven years of age, so he trains his students well in the Martial Arts.  He has several assistants helping him.  Nicodemos also oversees sacrifices to the God of War, Ares.


Creche of the Mind -- Here, young children are subjected to the awakening of their psionic powers. Mostly the children of the psychic warriors themselves, the young children sleep here among resonant crystals in hopes of them developing psychic abilities with the onset of puberty.  If successful, they then will undergo training as a psychic warrior, soulknife, or psion.  Those that escape but develop psychic powers either gain the Wild Talent feat or develop into wilders.


Barracks and Messhall -- Here the unit sleeps and a mess hall is constructed to allow them to eat.

Created by me in the Classical style.
Psychic Surgery -- Its important that wounded soldiers are treated quickly.  Medicine is of Iron Age quality.  The army doctors employed here are as knowledgeable as Galen of Pergamon.  They are students of Asclepius and are dedicated to the healing of soldiers.  Some are clerics of Asclepius, others are psions specializing in psionic healing.

Persian Tower -- four minarets done four round towers.  Here, psionic archers defend the parapets.


Command Circle --a psionic item that allows the commander of the phalanx to oversee how a battle at the fortress is progressing.

Staff -- the Fortress is fully staffed with all the staff one needs.  Armorers, a couple of cooks, a few architects, some weaponsmiths, and a few engineers to maintain the fortress.


THE SPARTIATE

Spartiates are warriors that are specially trained Psychic Warriors, Warriors, or Fighters that make up a special unit that is attached to Ares' Sons.  Inspired by Cadmus slaying the dragon and then sowing the dragon's teeth to create an uncommon warrior of Thebes, Spartiates are a special crack unit made up of those who are devoted to Ares' teachings.  In short, they are trained as an elite unit.

Having mastered the martial arts of the aspis, the dory, and the xiphon, a Spartiate would further train as commandos, having uncommon bravery in the face of greater odds.  They are also trained to handle most any terrain while fighting, and can fight not only in formation but out of formation.  A spartiate was a master of martial arts, and a dabbler in others.  The Spartiates have proven themselves several times over when the unit of Ares' Sons had battled invaders from the south.  PC Spartiates -- also called Errant Spartiates -- are expected to be in the field, learning their skills the hard way.  PC Spartiates are expected to be tough and to return to the unit to eludicate on what they've learned.  NPC Spartiates -- or commando Spartiates -- are expected to stay and drill and keep their skills in top shape until the next time they are called upon to go to war.

4th Century Hoplite by Johnny Shumate.
Role: Spartiates fulfill the role of the commando in the world of Terre.  They are crack army specialists where some of them are errant and some of them are not.  They fulfill the role of the Green Berets, the British Commando, and the U.S. Army Rangers.  Veteran Spartiates often hire themselves out as professional mercenaries.


Alignment:  Most Spartiates are lawful in alignment.  While some are chaotic, most tend to be lawful because of the regimented lifestyle they live.   Spartiates that develop a chaotic neutral alignment during battle, however (say, develop psychoses because of battle) are often treated psychologically in the hospital ward.  Choatic evil Spartiates are often deemed untreatable or unredeemable (although there are exceptions) and still are found in the ranks, where it is hoped that they will die.

Hit Die: d12.

Requirements

To qualify becoming a Spartiate, one must fulfill all of the following criteria.

Skills: Climb 5 ranks, Knowledge (Tactics) 5 ranks,  Perception 6 ranks, Stealth 5 ranks
Feats: Combat Expertise, Improved Unarmed Strike, Weapon Focus (Spear), Weapon Focus (Short Sword)
Psionics: If the person entering the Spartiate is a Psychic Warrior, Psion, or Wilder, he must be able to manifest 3rd level psionic powers.  If the person entering the Spartiate Class is a Soulknife, he must be able to demonstrate the Mind Shield and Powerful Strikes weapon skills.

Class Skills
The Spartiate's class skills are Acrobatics (Dex), Climb (Str), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (Tactics) (Int), Knowledge (Strategy) (Int), Knowledge (Military History) (Int), Perception (Wis), and Stealth (Dex).

Skill Ranks per level: 4 + Int Modifier.

Table: Spartiate

Level Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Special Spells per Day
1st +1 +1 +1 +0
2nd +2 +1 +1 +1
+1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class
3rd +3 +2 +2 +1
+1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class
4th +4 +2 +2 +1
+1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class
5th +5 +3 +3 +2
6th +6/+1 +3 +3 +2
+1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class
7th +7/+2 +4 +4 +2
+1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class
8th +8/+3 +4
+4
+2
+1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class
9th +9/+4 +5 +5 +3
10th +10/+5 +5 +5 +3
+1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Phoenicia's Religions

In this post, I'll be going over the religious climate of Phoenicia.  Phoenicia is gripped strongly by an air of personal and individual freedom.  Although there will always be those that will try to take away the freedom of the people -- both Foreign and Domestic, the Phoenicians have held these forces at bay.  As a result, the entire city has a law protecting the freedom of worship.

As a bizarre result, the city harbors many, many religions.  However, the dominate religions can be classified as Monotheistic, Polytheistic, and Atheistic.  The religions are discussed below.

RELIGIONS OF MANY GODS AND NO GODS

Hellenism

Hellenism is the worship of the Dodekatheon or the Twelve Olympians.  Supreme in the Dodekatheon is Zeus, with Hera as his queen, and so forth.  However, Hellenist priests are slowly merging with the Hindus.  Zeus is seen as an aspect of Indra, and vice versa.  Phoenician Hellenism has also adopted the Hindu trimurti.  Saturn or Chronos is an aspect of Brahma, likewise Shiva is seen to be an aspect of Ares.  Finally, there is Vishnu, whom the Hellenists have identified with Apollo (which isn't true, Vishnu isn't associated with the Sun like Agni is).

Hellenism is extremely popular among the middle and lower classes found in the Northern Lower City.  Especially the magic cults associated with Hecate -- who is identified with Khali.  Still, Hellenistic schools of science and natural philosophy say that the Gods are false and that the School of the Scholars which venerates the Force of Good is the only one to follow.

Domains:  The Domains of the Dodekatheon are found in the Dungeons and Dragons book Deities and Demigods.

Hinduism

Also called Vedism, Hinduism is the worship of many Gods, and it is one of the hallmarks of Vedic culture.  Centered in the Upper Southern City, the Hindus worship a multiplicity of Gods and believe in reincarnation.  The main gods are the Hindu Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva with a multiplicity of many gods (including Agni, Khali, Indra, and others).  Hinduism promises salvation through good works (Kharma) and teaches Reincarnation.

Brahma is seen as the Creator.  The god Brahma created all things in Hindu religion -- being the god that brought order out of Chaos.   Brahma is often protrayed as having four bearded faces and four arms, studying the Vedas, and riding on a white goose.  His wife is Sarasvati.

Domains: Brahma is a greater God and has lost prominence over the years among Hindus.  His domains are Air, Law, Good, Glory, and Knowledge.  His subdomains are: Agathion, Cloud, Archon, Honor, and Thought.

Siva is a God of duality. He is is a major Hindu deity, and the Destroyer or transformer among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine.[2] In the Shaiva tradition of Hinduism, Shiva is seen as the Supreme God. In the Smarta tradition, he is regarded as one of the five primary forms of God.[3] Followers of Hinduism who focus their worship upon Shiva are called Shaivites or Shaivas (Sanskrit Śaiva).[4] Shaivism, along with Vaiṣṇava traditions that focus on Vishnu and Śākta traditions that focus on the goddess Shakti, is one of the most influential denominations in Hinduism.[3]

Shiva is usually worshipped in the abstract form of Shiva linga. In images, he is represented as a handsome[5] young man[6] immersed in deep meditation or dancing the Tandava upon Apasmara, the demon of ignorance in his manifestation of Nataraja, the lord of the dance. It is said that he looks like an eternal youth because of his authority over death, rebirth and immortality. He is also the father of Ganesha and Murugan.

Domains: Shiva's Domains are Chaos, Destruction, Good, Knowledge, and Liberation.  His subdomains are Azata, Catastrophe, Agathion, Memory, Thought, and Revolution.

Vishnu is the Supreme God in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God.[1]
The Vishnu Sahasranama[2] declares Vishnu as Paramatma (supreme soul) and Parameshwara (supreme God). It describes Vishnu as the All-Pervading essence of all beings, the master of—and beyond—the past, present and future, one who supports, sustains and governs the Universe and originates and develops all elements within. Vishnu governs the aspect of preservation and sustenance of the universe, so he is called 'Preserver of the universe'. Of the three members of the Trimurti, the Bhagavata Purana, which espouses the Vaishnavite viewpoint, explains that the greatest benefit can be had from Vishnu.[10]

Domains: Vishnu's domains include Glory, Good, Healing, Knowledge, and War (based upon Rama, Krishna, and Kalki).  Subdomains include Heroism, Archon, Restoration, Memory, and Tactics.

There are other gods, of course, but they are too numerous to include in this blog post.


Jainism



Jainism is very small, but highly influential in the city state of Phoenicia.  Jains are centered in the Southern Lower City, and are a minority.  Still, their ideas and thoughts have impacted Phoenician culture.  Jains are strict pacifists, so many do not find the adventure that heroic player characters do.  Some are also extreme aesthetics.  The Jains came with the Spice trade, seeking religious freedom.  Their impact on Pheonician culture is small but significant.  Jains could be said to worship the Atman, but Jainism is an atheist philosophy.

Domains: Jainism grants Good, Knowledge, and Healing as domains but has no subdomains. 


RELIGIONS OF ONE GOD


Zoroastrianism


ISdN - Zoroaster 5 by ~laether-mad on deviantART

A monotheistic religion, an analog to Zoroastrianism exists in Phoenicia that is called Dravidism.  But for our purposes -- since a duck is a duck, why call it a horse?  Zoroastrianism is an ethical monotheism that was taught by Dravid in the East, and had come to Phoenicia by the Sword and the Book.  In ancient Persia, Zarathustra was the main prophet, changing a nation of polytheists into monotheists.  In the world of Terre, Dravid did the same thing and Dravid taught many of the same concepts: History is lineal, and at the end people will be judged against the Laws which God gave.  Also, the faith includes a concept of premortal life, mortality, and an immortal afterlife.  Zoroastrianism is found in all districts of the city and is the city's predominate religion.  Aside from Islam, which does not have an analog or exists unto itself in Terre, Zoroastrianism has a strong impact on Medieval Persian Culture, and is included for flavor reasons.

Domains: The God of Zoroastrianism, in Phoenicia, has some parallels to Brahma. However, as concepts are taught through the ages, the concept of the Zoroastrian God grants clerics the following domains:  Community, Good, Law, and Healing.  No subdomains are included in Zoroastrianism.

The Spirit

The Spirit is a faith that predominates the Upper North Quarter of the city of Phoenicia and is especially popular among Psions, Psychic Warriors, and Soulknives.  Clerics of the Spirit call the thing they worship "the Father."  Concepts of the Spirit is surprisingly similar to the Atman of Jainism, the only difference is that the Spirit is worshipped in this religion.

In fact, the religion is the Unreligion.  Clerics have priesthood but are not organized into a religion.  Tenants of the Spirit will not tell someone what to believe or how to believe.  There are no set ordinances, no apostles, no high priesthood.  People are allowed to live and believe what they want to believe so long as they worship the Spirit and believe in a Savior to save them from their failings.  People who join the faith are expected to have a spiritual experience to show their personal relationship with the Spirit.  The faith includes everyone from the depraved and the politically insane, to the brave and the cowardly, to the heroic and the stoic.  Believers believe they are gods, that they have a personal relationship with the Spirit, and strive to live and enjoy life: whether they be evil or good.

Domains:  This unreligion grants all domains, the Cleric of the Spirit need only to choose two domains.

Monday, April 18, 2011

More about Phoenicia

I have a lot more I want to talk about this city state!

Phoenicia, although named after the real life Canaanite nation of the same name, is nothing like the same city state.  Named after the legend of the Phoenix, Phoenicia is a place about beginnings rather than endings. Settled by a majority of Vedan refugees that escaped invasion by moving North and away from the invaders path; Pheonicia is a mixture of Vedic and Known World (Hellenic) culture.  The Vedans brought with them their religions and their beliefs.  But they also brought with them Psionics.



Like a Phoenix, Vedic culture was reborn.  Although, it's mixed with Known World culture, there is a big contribution of Vedic Culture.  Phoenicia is the center of government for the Phoenix Valley.  Located on a fertile plain between two ranges of hills, it's a city like no other.  Phoenicia is an important traderoute along the Silk Road and the Spice Route.  With the Silk Road leading into the Eastern Realms, and the Spice Route leading back to the Vedans' ancestral lands; Phoenicia's ties to the Known World allow the city to be an important trade route on the East.

 
shots by jacob of the falls, published under the GNU Free Documentation License.


Through the valley flowed the river Sardis, which plunges down a cataract waterfall before emptying into the sea.  Once, Phoenix came here and staked a claim and founded a tiny trading outpost.  That was many generations ago, and now Centuries later the city of Pheonix is divided across the Sardis River into the North Upper City and the North Lower City, the South Upper City and the South Lower City.  The city practically surrounds the cataract.  With refugees from invasions coming in nine hundred years after the city was founded, the city had blistered almost half it's current population.  With the invasion of Helenes two hundred years ago, Phoenix has become the Known World's eastern most city with an unusual culture and a door way along the Silk Road.  Now, the people have perfected their government into a Republican form of government when the last of the Scions of Phoenix was killed during the Hellenic invasion.

Morgiana the Clever by Genzo [http://genzoman.deviantart.com/gallery/11977572?offset=96#/d1m9f7x]


Now the city is under the wise rule of the Senate and the House of Representatives.  The Senate is charged with foreign affairs and is made up of the Aristocracy of the city.  The House is charged with domestic affairs of the city and is made up of the Middle Class of the city.

Besides being renowned as the capital of the Metacreativity Discipline, Phoenicia is renowned with the finest forges in the region as well as the finest crystal craftsmen.  It is also renowned as the source of glyss -- a substance created by infusing glass with vaporized copper.   Thanks to the fact that the hills surrounding Phoenicia still produces about one hundred talents of malachite, chalcocite, and tetrahedrite a year.  Phoenicia has to import tin in order to make bronze, and it also has to import iron from the mountains that are one hundred miles to the North.

However, the silk and spice trade brings in silks and spices.  Spices such as cinnamon, pepper, tumeric, and saffron come into the land along the trade routes.  Spice shops are really popular in Phoenicia, since there are large bags in which people can buy their supplies.

Taken by judepics.  Republished according to the terms of the CC-BY-SA license.




As a result, nearly any tool, weapon, or other metal and crystalline weapon can be found and crafted here.  and the quality of their alloys and castings are quite unsurpassed in the Eastern part of the Known World.  As a result, Phoenicia has a large population of craftsmen working in the Crafts District of the city -- located in the Southern Lower City.  Also, an influx of guilds from the Known World had come into Phoenicia.  As a result, the House has passed laws that limit the Mercantile nature of the guilds and to promote free trade.

Phoencia's Statistics

NG large city
Corruption +0; Crime +2; Economy +5; Law +2; Lore +5; Society +2
Qualities academic, holy site, prosperous, strategic location, tourist attraction
Danger +10
Demographics
Government republic
Population 18,000 (14,000 humans; 1,000 dwarves; 1,000 halflings; 500 elves; 1,500 other)
Notable NPCs
Captain of the Guard Jiranda Hollis (LN female human fighter 5)
High Priest Fallor Pollux (LG male human cleric 10)
Lord Mayor Alton Ralderac (N male human aristocrat 4)
Marketplace
Base Value 12,800 gp; Purchase Limit 75,000 gp; Spellcasting 9th
Minor Items 4d4; Medium Items 3d4; Major Items 2d4

Saturday, April 16, 2011

PSIONICS UNLEASHED!!

Levitating Psion by ~Atlantean6 on deviantART

Psionics in my world plays a very important part.  For Magic, Arcane and Divine, descended from Psionics during the End of the World.  When the Lemurians and the Atlanteans came to the world, they brought psionics with them.  Shapers shaped the world according to their will, savants moved matter with their minds, nomads teleported through the world,  Egoists learned how to control their own bodies, telepaths can receive and transmit thought waves at will, and Seers see into worlds beyond sight.

Then everything changed.  A great cataclysm happened, destroying the civilizations of the Lemurians and the Atlanteans.  The Great Cataclysm resulted in the destruction of human civilization and the appearance of other civilizations.  The Coming of the Elves, for instance -- the orcs, and others came through their own gateways.  To escape, some of the Atlanteans and Lemurians went into the hollow of Terre.   Those left above were forced to survive.

The powers and knowledge of psionics was completely lost for a time (through the Copper and Bronze Ages).  However, as Mankind rebuilt himself, he learned magic from the elves.   But psionics was preserved in the mythical kingdom of Vedicia.  During the Early Iron Age, psionics filtered out of the Spice Route, reaching the known world.  In time, three cities -- Phoenicia, Syracuse, and Sybaris became the three main human cities that had a majority of psionic populations.

The influx of psions, psychic warriors, soulknives, and wilders came during a combined army of Human, Dark Elf, and Orc army invaded Vedicia and absolutely destroyed most of the Vedan Civilization.  However, some of the psions struck back, overthrowing their oppressors in little of 100 years and fracturing their little empire.  But the damage was done -- if it was damage.  The seeds of psionics have been spread throughout the world.

The Three Psionic Cities of the Known World

Phoenicia

Phoenicia is the most Eastern city in the Known World. Pheonicia's culture is an ahistorical mixture of Hellenic, Vedic, and Medieval Persian culture.  The people dress strangely in silk and cotton outfits.  This is simply because Phoenicia is beyond the Dragonwall and the Hordelands near the desert and in warmer climates.   Most people in Phoenicia wear very little, being affected by Vedic fashion, it seems.  While others wear a lot of clothing because of the proximity to the desert.  A few are outright nudists.  But this is mostly because of the Pheonicians' beliefs.

 
A Phoenician by Genzo [http://genzoman.deviantart.com/]


They believe that they are literally gods, so their whole government is based on government by the Self. They have not conquered poverty, but they believe they are free and their city state is ruled by a Republic -- a Representative Form of Government (the representatives make laws, and the people govern themselves -- little laws are needed).  The main discipline being taught here is Metacreativity.

Fashions range from Skyclad (nude), to revealing clothing that leaves very little to the imagination, to costumes coming out of the Tales of Sinbad, to Arabian Dishadi Thobes.  Veils and burqas are simply not in vogue.  Phoenician fashion is often handmade from cotton and or silk, and ranges from the simple to the extravagant.

Hero Classes (Pathfinder, D&D 3.5):
Psion (all disciplines, although Metacreativity is prominent)
Psychic Warrior (Main warrior paths include Brawling, Mind Knight, and Weapon Mastery paths)
Soulknife
Wilder (prevalent among the poor and destitute, where they can't get proper psionic training)

Hero Classes (4e, see the Player's Handbook 3):
Ardent
Battlemind
Psion


Other Disciplines (i.e. Prestige Classes):
Metamind (Psionics Unleashed/Expanded Psionics Handbook)
Chakra Savant (Bruce R. Cordell's Hyperconscious/Mindscapes)
Dream Keeper (Hyperconscious/Mindscapes)
Dream Wright (Hyperconscious/Mindscapes)
Plangent (Hyperconscious/Mindscapes)
Psychic Chirurgeon (Hyperconscious/Mindscapes)
Spirituel (OGL version of the Ardent -- Hyperconscious/Mindscapes)

Paragon Paths (4e, again see the Player's Handbook 3):
Argent Soul
Psionic Binder
Eternal Blade
Steel Ego
Cerulean Adept

Part 2: Syracuse and Sybaris!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Dungeons and Dragons should be Public Domain

Really, I think it's a shame that a few have a monopoly over Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition.  While it seems to be a good idea for everyone, it does leave some Memes undeveloped for 4e.  In other words, certain scenarios can only be developed for Pathfinder and not D&D.

What a tragedy, what a shame, for you guys who play 4e.  For you see, I kinda like psions.  Enough to write an adventure for them.  Without the Players Handbook 3 being in the SRD, you have no chance of seeing certain adventures coming to life for 4e officially except if they are printed by the first party.  But they are in the 3.5 System Reference Document and under the OGL.

But Wizards has a habit of buying the rights right out from under the author.  This is work for Hire.  The author gets paid a paltry sum and really . . . who in their right minds would sell their rights?  Especially on a planet with an Internet?  Boy the internet sure screws things up for publishers, doesn't it?

Dungeons and Dragons shouldn't be owned by a few, but by all the inhabitants of the Earth.   Having a Monopoly over Dungeons and Dragons, even a partial one, is insane.


Comic by Nina Paley and republished under the CC-BY-SA 3.0 License.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

ADVENTURE WRITING

With a twist.

Going over the adventure ideas for my next adventure I came across this one:

A psion believes that a PC is his long lost brother.

For an added twist, what if the psion believes the PC to be her long lost betrothed?  Devious. I was reading Bruce Cordell's Hyperconscious, and it got even more devious. Hyperconscious is overlooked.  It is a treasure trove containing new powers and new beasts for 3.5/Pathfinder.

So, what if a psion believes that a PC is her long lost betrothed?  Then what happens.  That's when the magic happens.  Add in pursuers and hunters -- with id beasts -- and you have a recipe for an adventure of exciting-ness.  Add water, mix, and bake and you get a nice tasting but different cake.

Since the Player's Handbook 3 is not referenced in the new SRD, there won't be an *official* 4th Edition version of this Adventure.  Stupid wizards, keeping 4th ed psions to themselves. :p  But it's going to be a bumpy ride.

TRON 3

Apparently, they have been mulling over the possibility of a Tron 3 for a long time.  However, two teaser trailers were released.  Tron 3 is going to involve the actions of Alan, RAM's creator, and Sam Flynn as they deal with their titular enemy -- the Master Control Program.

So, far, so good, Disney has a good sequel on their hands.  If they don't screw it up, we can get the Rest of the Story.  Why Edward Dillinger is working for ENCOM.  Why he's communicating with the MCP, and why he was so relaxed as to ENCOM OS 12 being released on the Web.

And why RAM's creator ("Alan, can I have some of your popcorn?") is doing Flynn Lives.  The Grid, which Flynn was creating, was to be the evolution of the Net before the Web took over.  And it looks like TRON 3 will be set not on the ENCOM mainframe or Flynn's computer lab -- but the Web.
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