Journal Excerpt #1

Sunday, July 2nd, 2017

It seems sometimes, especially when one is young, that an Alaskan summer is never really over; that it goes on and on, a neverending continuum from the first Dena’ina fishermen on the wide Kenai river down to the modern young man or woman, hiking home through the woods with the promise of ice cream and a cold drink held before them. As I lie writing this, I am nineteen; old enough to do grown-up things, such as bargain with the Internal Revenue Service or pay for my own gasoline, but young enough that I do not really want to, and would much rather climb a tree, or read a book, or do both at the same time.
It is true, of course, that even when fully an adult, without the ability to call oneself a teen-ager, most people I have met still have little desire to do adult things; they seem more to have ungracefully accepted them as a part of life, something I have never aspired to do.
As another long Alaska summer day draws toward a close, I stare out the window of our old motor home, meditating on life and living. This evening has been the first of three days, in total, spent at the summer camp that my family attends each year. We have been coming for over a decade now, a longer time than any other family, and in fact longer than many members of the staff, a fact which grants me some measure of familiarity and even prestige. I have, on occasion, gone places that no other except some staff members are allowed, and my long history has given me a greater knowledge of the twists and turns of the moose-paths and side trails than most others with whom I speak.
The evening meal was a quiet affair, for the number of camp attendees this year is surprisingly small, but it marked a reunion with an old friend, who like myself spent much of his formative years at this camp. After our repast and pleasant reminiscence, we parted ways, him to organize the staff members in his charge, and I toward the grassy field overlooking the waterfront. There I met two young women, whom I joined in hitting a volleyball back and forth.
The evening’s enjoyment came to an end perhaps a little over an hour later, as the four of us- for another had joined eventually, a young man with even less skill than I- went our separate ways.

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Writing Comedy

There are a lot of reasons to try to do comedy in writing, or just in everyday life. Yes, comedy can be taught. This post is largely focused on writing it, but it should be fairly easy to distill into general advice.

The stakes in humor are usually low.
The difference between drama and comedy is exaggeration, and character reaction.
For example, the action scene gets funny fast when the guy gets kicked in the crotch.

It’s also funny when people get self-referential during uncomfortable situations.

Comedy is also often surprising; unexpected things are more likely to make people laugh. See Non-sequitors below.

Situational- out of their element and trying (and mostly failing) to cope.

Physical comedy- people doing ridiculous things. People even suffering. But really low stakes.

Linguistic Humor
Wordplays: puns work best when the one who tells it isn’t the one who set it up.
Accurate but unexpected descriptions: the ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.
Awesome, especially when they can be tied to a particular character because they describe things in ways nobody else does.

Here’s a brief example of wordplay: if something is really easy to figure out, you’d probably say it’s obvious. But if it’s about someone’s mother or father, try goig with ‘apparent’.

Character humor
Something about how the characters do things is inherently funny because of who they are.
This kind of contains and kind of leads into Running Gags, which is when one particular bit of character humor is repeatedly called back to.

Cognitive humor
You have three pieces of the puzzle, the fourth is the punchline, and the reader has to figure it out themselves.

Non-sequitors
Something that quite literally doesn’t follow in the expected sequence.
Often funniest when the reader can draw a connection between the non-sequitor and what came before, yet still doesn’t quite make sense.
Lists are great, when the last thing in the list is completely unexpected.

Life Issues

I know, I’ve been absent for a while. Expect a continued absence, I’m afraid. A very dear friend of mine has recently passed away unexpectedly,  and I will be spending a good deal of time attempting to process this. He was also a member of our D&D group, so if you were reading our adventures, don’t expect more sessions transcripts any time soon.

I’m.. I ‘m not quite sure how to end this post…

D&D 5e: Elves of Wood and Jungle

In my homebrew campaign setting of Moonsea (See the Campaign Journal if you’re interested; I just added our most recent session and figured out how the dropdown menus work), Drow aren’t really all that bad. They’re just another subrace of Elves, one that lives in the deep jungles of Dhathan. Perhaps they were something else, once, but if so that was long ago.

Wood Elves are fairly similar to the Wood Elves described in the PHB, but there are a few key differences, including a greater affinity with animals.

Wild Elves are even more closely entwined with the animals of the forest, even being able to speak their language. However, they do have a few… cultural values that more civilized races have difficulty understanding. Yes, I know I’ve posted them before, but this time I’ve added a picture.

 

Drow

drow

Drow are wild elves, akin to sylvan or wood elves, but descended from an earlier subrace of dark-skinned elves. More primitive than other elves, they lead lives apart from civilized beings, deep in wild jungles.

Also called dark elves, the drow have black skin that resembles polished obsidian and stark white or pale yellow hair. They commonly have very pale eyes (so pale as to be mistaken for white) in shades of lilac, silver, pink, red, and blue. They tend to be smaller and thinner than most elves- they rarely top 5’4″-, letting them easily slip through tangles of underbrush that would stop or slow down larger beings. Their small size and light weight also make climbing trees easy for them.

Ability Score Increase. Your Charisma score increases by 1.

Drow Magic. You know the dancing lights cantrip. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the faerie fire spell once per day. When you reach 5th level you can also cast the invisibility spell once per day. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for the spell.

Life in the Trees. Climbing doesn’t halve your speed.

Bestowed by Silvanus. The drow have great knowledge of the jungles that they call home. You have proficiency in Nature.

Drow Weapon Training. You are proficient with shortbows, longbows, daggers and blowguns.

 

Wood Elves

wood elf

As a wood elf, you have keen senses and intuition, and your feet carry you swiftly and silently through your native forests. You are just as quick-witted as you are quick-limbed.

Wood elves are shorter than most other elves and men- about 5’ on average-, and have a frail, delicate build, but they are quite agile, and have an affinity of sorts with wild animals.

Wood elves’ skin tends to be coppery in hue, sometimes with traces of green. Their hair tends toward browns and blacks, but it is occasionally blond or copper-colored. Their eyes are green, brown, or hazel.

Ability Score Increase. Your Intelligence score increases by 1.

Elf Weapon Training. You have proficiency with the dagger, shortsword, shortbow, and longbow.

Fleet of Foot. Your base walking speed increases to 35 feet.

Mask of the Wild. You can attempt to hide even when you are only lightly obscured by foliage, heavy rain, falling snow, mist, and other natural phenomena.

Natures Gift. You gain proficiency with Animal Handling. In addition, animals of the natural world are friendly towards you and your companions, so long as you do not threaten them and they are not overly hungry. They are willing to do small tasks for you, though nothing that would endanger them or their offspring.

 

Wild Elves

wild elf

Wild elves are a far older race than Wood Elves, for the Wild Elves are descended from the first of the ancient Fae to emerge into the mortal world. The Wild Elves live deep in untamed jungles, and have a simple lifestyle, in tune with nature. However, some younger Wild Elves, wishing to know more about the world, emerge into the outer world and are often mistaken for Halflings or Venthel. They have spiky, wild hair in shades of green, blond, silver, or red; large almond-shaped eyes in turquoise, hazel, or emerald-green; and skin with a faint greenish cast. They are adventurous and mischievous, and can’t abide the sight of caged animals. They’re also ritual cannibals, and believe the soul is housed in the throat (if you can’t talk, you must be dead), but hey; nobody’s perfect.

Size: Small. They max out at 3’ 6 in height.

Ability Score Adjustment: Your Dexterity, Constitution, and Charisma scores increase by 1, but your Intelligence and Wisdom scores decrease by 1.

Forest Bond: You gain a +2 bonus to AC in forest and jungle environments (due to ability to dodge behind trees, etc.)

Bite: You have an unarmed bite attack that deals 1d4 piercing damage.

Languages: You can speak Elven, Animal, and Sylvan.

 

And for your viewing pleasure…

I still don’t feel like I’ve made an adequate apology for my long absence (despite the fact that it probably didn’t have any effect on the daily lives of my readership), so here’s the first page of my journal/comic that I create from time to time. I prefer to draw my experiences rather than write them. The voices in my head tend to interject their own opinions.

comic 2.png

Elf Ears mkII; LARP worldbuilding

I know, I know, It’s been a long time since I’ve posted. I’ve been busy. I’ve done some work on my novel, and a lot of work on the history and cultures of my LARP setting. I’ve also added to the lore. But I’ll get to that in a moment.

I’ve been on vacation recently to visit family, and I went to a Renaissance festival in Florida. First time going to one. It was a lot of fun, and I met some like-minded people. I also picked up another set of elf ears, this time the long type- as in, six inches. It’s the little things that make life worth living.

As an apology for my long absence, here’s a player handout I wrote about how worship and magic works in the LARP world.

Worship and Magic in Dariad

Most folk in Dariad worship many gods; only clergy and zealots venerate one above the others. For example, a farmer could mainly revere Erisenna and Cerastia, but also pray to Tieran’i or Aelo to keep damaging storms away, Talaira to keep back disease, etc. Any mortal of any race may worship any deity, though their upbringing and morals/ethics make some matches of faith and person unlikely. The highly unusual ones are usually the result of a person searching for the right path, or one who believes a certain deity influenced an important event in their life. Though most faiths welcome any new believers, some do not (or, if they do, rarely) allow certain races, such as orcs, half-orcs, and dark elves. For the average mortal, religion is the primary worship of one deity above-even if just a little above- all others.

How They Worship

Most people embrace a primary deity, and carry some token of that god. Adventurers usually pray briefly to this deity in the morning (if they aren’t in some emergency), as well as in moments of crisis, such as healing a friend. They may offer longer, private prayers at other times- these are usually requests for protection and guidance, and deities sometimes reply with dreams or (rarely) waking visions. These are generally only a feeling of favor or disapproval.

When arriving in a village or town that has an established shrine to their patron deity, many folk attend a service or give an offering. Customarily, this is a coin offering, or something appropriate to the deity. For Cete, hunted game is a good offering, and for Agaron, spoils of defeated foes are favored gifts. Worshippers without these things typically offer information about their doings to priests, or offer to help around the temple. The services asked from them may be anything from “Help move these chairs” to “Help guard the temple tonight”.

A wanderer who stumbles upon an untended or desecrated shrine to their patron deity is expected to cleanse it and pray there or leave an offering. Those in an area with a temple generally attend services at least once every four days.

Every community has a public shrine to most deities, even if it has no temple; the lack of a particular deity in a settlement doesn’t mean that the deity is not honored in the area.

How Magical is Dariad?

Dariad is very magical, as a lot of magic (such as spells, magic items, and permanent enchantments) is always present, and thusly mages too. Everyone has heard of magic, and most city-folk see use or results of magic every day. Many common folk have seen small spells and tricks, such as in the repertoire of traveling entertainers; however, the average commoner has never had magic cast on them, or handled a magic item. Nor have most ever had anyone cast a spell for them, as magic is generally expensive.

Words of Magic

So, I was bored recently, and I decided to revamp the spellcasting for my LARP group. Until now, spell incantations had pretty much been a bunch of nonsense words, but I decided to change it so that mages were actually telling the magic what effect they wanted.

Each spell begins with an activation word that determines the range of the spell.

Fireball would be something like, “þú a Solas”

Solas being ‘burn, fire, conflagration’

‘A’ being ‘small’.

So, ‘One target player+’small’+’conflagration’. + strike (nask)

(I call) a small conflagration to strike that target.

Ice blast is ‘þeír a fu lannar’

Fu= shard

Lannar= freeze, ice

‘distant range’+’small’+’shard’+’freeze’

“(I call) a small shard of ice to freeze a distant target”

Admittedly, it isn’t the best language I’ve ever designed, but then it wasn’t intended for casual conversation.

On the other hand, now players who figure out how the language and which words mean what can create their own spells for use in the game!