Friday, May 24, 2013

A Commemorative Address on the Eve of the Nepalu Expedition

Most of you have probably seen this already, but, hey... I'm just about out of brain power at this point. The Clockwork Skies "teaser," put together by myself and a few other staff members. There is relatively little mention of the weather, per a certain individual's well-taken predilection. Monday or Tuesday will involve a Clockwork related blog post, but, for now... enjoy!

Commemorative Address on the Eve of the Nepalu Expedition
The League of Arcane Sciences, East Meridian
(Susan Grimsheld, Madhuri Lalit, Theodore Marlin, Thomas Moorehouse, and Jayanthi Nayan)

On this day,
the 23rd day of the 5th month in the 13th year,
in celebration of the Nepalu Expedition,
with the collaboration of the fine minds at the University of Jhumar,
we present to you a synthesized report from the first ever International Crystal Communications Network. While we could, enthusiastically, supply you-- our international friends and allies-- with political, diplomatic, and/or scientific conversation concerning the Expedition, we have decided, in the spirit of exploration, to instead celebrate those who are boldly venturing towards the new island. Based on the developments from the University of Jumar School of Lithomancy, we have collected personal accounts from each of the Nations represented on the Nepalu Expedition. It is our pleasure, using such networks, to present individual narrative accounts of those involved in the Expedition. To quote our Jhumari colleague, Professor Madhuri Lalit, “You will be able to read, for the first time, the narrative trajectory of those living across the known world.” By offering these personal accounts, reactions and perspectives on the Expedition, we hope to foster a spirit of international cooperation and camaraderie. May we move forward, together, with vigor and friendship! From Sindrissil to Meridian, our fellow islanders have offered to us their innermost thoughts. Please, allow yourselves to settle into moments of quiet and intimate reflection.

From the deep forests of Sindrissil...

He hefts his boar-spear, and adjusts the pack slung over his shoulder. His father and mother stand in the crowd gathered to watch the Citizens departing for the expedition. They are stoic and stone-faced, but he can see the pride in their eyes. A bittersweet moment, leaving family behind, but striding forward to adventure and glory.
A shove from behind sends him forward up the gangway.
"Walk, Osser. Mother and Father will be here when you return. The sooner we arrive the sooner I can start brewing," his sister says-- she is hauling twice the weight in gear that he is, most of it affixed to a broad shield on her back. "You represent Sindrissil, that means you're a warrior and a trader. You've strong arms and quick wits. Gawking mournfully at your parents like a child before his first hunt does the Empire disservice. Stop being a damn poet and be a man."
Had anyone other than his sister had spoken such words to him, he would have their blood to grease his scabbard. But she is his kin, and she is right: the expedition will rely on his skills in trade. Plus, she is faster than he, and he has no desire to see his own blood today...

From the hallowed halls of the University of Jhumar...

A young man, stooped of shoulder and thin, attempts to cram the last of several dozen scrolls into an over-stuffed trunk.
“Is that the last of them, Mr. Maresh?” an impatient voice calls from the corner of the room.
“Yes, professor. Fifteen field guides on expected categories of flora and fauna, Five accounts of arcanical manipulations across international borders, Professor Kajaltha’s predictive model on the Kajaltha-4 caves, and--”
“What about Damedra’s index of probable elemental collision matrices?”
“I had, uh, forgotten it, professor,” the young man’s face colors slightly, “and my trunk is full.”
“Oh, honestly, Mr. Maresh! How pointless was your semester at the School of Illusions?”
“Wha-- oh. Er, of course... Mabhradi’s Circle of Expansion...” the young man moves to the trunk, and begins to move his fingers in oppositional spirals. The trunk, stuffed with books and supplies, begins to glow a radiant indigo...

From the deserts of Saliana...
“What about your-”
“Got it, mere.”
“You don’t even know what I was going to say!”
The young woman smiles, and kisses her mother on the forehead. “Ne vous inquietez pas, Maman....don’t worry. There ain’t another lick of room in the trunk, anyhow.”
She looks into her mother’s red-rimmed eyes, fighting to smile when all she wants to do is cry as much as her parents have in the past weeks and months. Travelling so far away has been her dream since childhood, but now that it is here, she isn’t sure she is cut out for the Nepalu Expedition after all. She rubs the small pendant around her neck and forces the grin wider-- instead of thinking about all the possibilities.
“Les Feux sont bons. Fire is good, Maman, I’ll be alright. I hear Papa and the’s time to go.” She picks up the handle of one side of the trunk, allowing the squeaky old wheels to take most of the weight, and goes out into the bright sunlight...

From the tulip-filled gardens of Vandervelde...

“And you’re quite ready to leave, Mr. Kemperman?” asks a rotund man with an impressively bushy mustache.
“Why, of course, Mr. Kemperman!” responds another man, sporting the national symbol as his lapel pin.
“Jansen, Jansen, and Spronk is lucky to have you as an employee-representative on this Expedition, Mr. Kemperman,” says the mustached man.
“Why thank you, Mr. Kemperman. I couldn’t do it without the Company. Ms. Kemperman, of Gaslight Dramatics, has even provided me with a new series of advertisements to bring to potential consumers,” Mr. Kemperman, the pinned, nods proudly.
“Fantastic! That woman is so productive... might I hear the newest one?” asks the somewhat walrusine Mr. Kemperman.
“Of course... Ms. Kemperman wrote this item specifically for the JJS line of lady’s rouge:
‘Sugar smile defeated!
A wrinkle! Eye baggy dreamtime!
Face touch with the blush and red,
the soul is vibrant peach pinkly,’” the not-so-walrusine Mr. Kemperman finishes with a smug smile.
“Marvelous! That Ms. Kemperman-- an ear for the populace, I say!” claps Mr. Kemperman...

From the mountain groves of Aeolia...

"I'm scared," he says candidly.
His tribesman squeezes him on the arm, and offers a lopsided smile before returning to the carving he is working on. "Really, it would be strange if you weren't. That just makes you smart, more than anything." The two sit for a few minutes in a quiet broken only by the soft wooden sounds of chips being worn from the carving. "What is it you are most scared of?"
"Their ways are not our ways," he sighs and shakes his head, "but... truly... it's the idea that I might not be able to live with the spirits as we do here."
Anything further he might have to say is cut off by the enthusiastic scolding of a squirrel in a nearby tree. As the squirrel scrambles down and approaches, the young man smiles a little, in recognition of squirrel and genuine scolding alike.
The squirrel darts back and forth between the two, tail twitching furiously. "Is it that you think the spirits are not so strong, is that it?"
The young man shakes his head, "Of course not, it's that --"
"It's that you are thinking the spirits are bound by the same terms as you!" scolds the squirrel. "You think we need some ship of air to go where we choose, as you do?" Sitting on its back legs, it declares with arrogant assurance, "We do not."
The young man's smile is full and genuine now, and he heaves a deep breath of relief. "No. You're right! Of course you do not."

From the well-scrubbed decks of the Independent Fleet...

After kissing it three times, the young woman removes the crystal, and places it in the small crate. It is nestled in between the other things: the violet ink-pot, the snapped wishbone, the molar, and the tiny, bald porcelain doll. She sighs, staring at the empty shelf in front of her-- it has never looked so lonely before.
“Imagine that,” a voice interrupts her quiet packing, “I never thought I would live to see the day you got rid of that creepy thing.”
As a red-headed woman enters, the young voyager laughs lightly, “I guess I have to find a new shelf for all this stuff.”
The red-head crouches beside her, peering into the box of objects. “It’s going to be weird, you know, living on land all the time,” she says.
“I’ll get used to it... and, besides, you can’t fly without running into a Fleet ship, y’know? I’ll get my fair share of wind and rain, I’m sure.”
The red-head smiles, and, with a gentle hesitation, asks, “Why are you going, anyways?”
The girl smirks vaguely, and, after a beat, says, “Fate, I guess.”
The red-head stands up again, and clucking her tongue lightly, chides “You’re getting predictable.”

From the tumbling valleys of the Caerleon Directive...
“It is so nice to have met you. I understand that you recently attained a great honor from Miss Kindersley?” The Minister smiles, although it does not touch his eyes.
“She did give me a scrying mirror of her own design and make,” the girl’s voice is very small in this large room, yet she dares not speak above a whisper.
“I do hope that you will put it to good use once you join the expedition. Do not allow such talents to go to waste.” He takes her hand, and leans in towards her conspiratorially. “You carry the reputation of the Directive upon your shoulders. Do not forget that.” All trace of a smile is gone, and she simply nods, wanting to return to her trunks and packages.
As quickly as it disappeared, the smile is back, “Travel safely, citizen!”

From the sweeping cathedrals of Vox...

Her hands pressed against her chest, and her head bowed, the robed woman whispers fervently to herself. The church is dark and empty-- only a few dozen candles, guttering noisily, cast light upon the many panes of stained glass. In the half-dark, the faces of long-dead clerics and paladins, usually smiling benevolently from the windowpanes, seem ominous and uneasy.
“Lady, give me the strength to guide those who would walk the path of Light,” murmurs the woman. “Lady, grant me the love to purify my own defilement. Let me walk not in the alleys of Contempt, Pride, Guilt, Obsession. Let me walk, free of these well-trod roads.”
“Sister, are you ready to depart?” asks a cool voice, unseen in the billowy shadows.
“Lady, in your Light, offer me the wisdom to show them their weaknesses, and gather with them their strengths. Vox veritas vita.” She bows her head once more, and, slowly, rises...

And from our noble nation-city of Meridian...

The soldier looks to the throngs of people behind him. His final glance home. He has no words, and, really, he should have no fear. This is one more mission. One more campaign.
But... it’s not, is it? This is different.
This is something... new.
He takes the first step forward. The crowd behind him feels distant and strange.

Presented by the League of Arcane Sciences, in collaboration with the University of Jhumar.
23rd Day, 5th Month, 13th Year

Monday, May 6, 2013

What makes a good RP encounter?

This is a fairly simple question, but one that's important for most players: what makes a good RP encounter?

Whether you're a PC or an NPC, I find, it's really easy to tell when you've had a solid RP encounter. It's a feeling. For me, the best RP encounters are understated: a mostly unspoken understanding that occurs between players. Something you can't really describe, because it belongs so wholly to a particular moment. As an NPC, it's rewarding for me when this happens-- it means, in a somewhat limited time frame, I've facilitated a meaningful narrative. As a PC, good RP anchors me to the gameworld. I'm easily distracted, and I need this.

As either an NPC or a PC, how do you know/intuit that you've had a good RP encounter? Of what does a good RP encounter consist? Moreover, how do you work towards positive RP encounters? Or do you try not to think about it?

So many feelings.*

* Yes. I'm aware that I just sabotaged the integrity of my own blog.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Getting to Know You

Last weekend, I had the good fortune to be at a really interesting Mirror, Mirror event. The game was, as per usual, fun and more than a little exhausting. However, the really interesting part was the huge influx of PCs. Honestly, I have never seen so many PCs enter a game at one time.* This meant that there were many, many introductions. Introductions at MM are kind of fascinating for a few reasons. We're working with some pretty unique "getting to know you factors":

1) This game is high fantasy with a little extra high fantasy, just for kicks. People come in as really bizarre and unexpected things.

2) Because of IG and OoG rules, players can't necessarily say exactly what they are. So if someone says, "This, uh, might be rude, but... what exactly are you?" A typical answer might be, "Gee, well. I wish I could say, but, in this land, I just can't seem to say." The conversation then turns into an elaborate description that talks around the missing word.

3) Because most PCs come from disparate places, most PCs don't have experience with the majority of IG species and/or have different experiences of IG species. A related conversation: Person 1: I'm an elf.; Person 2: You, sir, are not an elf.

While MM has a reputation as a combat-heavy game (and it is very combat heavy), it's also some kind of expansive, elaborate brain puzzle that never ends. And that's what makes it so great, in my opinion.

However, as I mentioned earlier, this whole situation-- coupled with a huge influx of new PCs-- makes for some fairly interesting introductions. On that note...

Pick a character, any character. Well, pick a character (PC or NPC) with an interesting introduction. How does that individual introduce itself to new people? What have been some particularly good interactions?

* The frat house at Endgame being a somewhat close second.