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.

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.

A smidgen of Nostalgia. And a spattering of Whimsy.

Two words: Rankin/Bass.

I grew up on the old Rankin-Bass stuff- I watched their holiday specials (still do, every Christmas), watched The Last Unicorn at least five times before the age of twelve, own the Return of the King on VHS (hey, it’s Alaska. We’re at least a decade behind the rest of the world. Well, except for Mongolia. And Idaho.), and watched The Hobbit whenever the library would let me have it. Their animation was one of my early inspirations. Heck, I probably watched The Hobbit more than I did Aladdin, which I actually own and really love.

Speaking of The Last Unicorn, I just rewatched that earlier today. Ahh, Shmendrick. Probably one of my favorite characters in any of the movies I watched as a kid. If you haven’t read the book, he was basically so abominably bad at magic that he was cursed with eternal youth until he could cast an actual spell.

Then there’s The Dark Crystal. Not Rankin-Bass; we’ve moved on from that topic. I think I watched it before I ever saw Star Wars, and it made an impression. When the library wouldn’t let me borrow the Hobbit, I made a beeline for the Dark Crystal instead. Those puppets, man.

And then there’s the art of Tony DIterlizzi. The Spiderwick Chronicles barreled into my life around the age of twelve, and that pretty much blew me away. I found his old Planescape art, and that made a big impression as well.

…I really don’t know where I was going with this post. I may have been intending to talk about the whimsy and magic that the intersection of those three things caused for me.

On the other hand, I might have been intending to talk about the impression the art made on my early style.

I dunno. I’m gonna go watch The Labyrinth now.

And popcorn. I need popcorn.

A brief life update and some Alternate History.

So, first a brief note.

Due to my experience driving with a permit for three years, I know everything there is to know about driving… right? I certainly didn’t think so… which was good. Because I killed a street sign today.

My mom was directing me as to where exactly to turn, but since neither of us was sure which road that happened to be, I got the message a little late and murdered the stop sign with my car. It put up a good fight, though- it ripped off my driver’s side mirror and shattered the driver’s side window. Also, you can now see the inside door handle from the outside. My knowledge of automotives may be limited, but I’m pretty sure that’s a bad thing.

Anyway, I’m fine, my mom’s fine, my car is… doing okay. I’ll need to vacuum out all the glass tomorrow…

And now, for a bit of random Alternate History that’s been trying to pound its’ way out of my head for a few weeks.

Point in time: the 1980s.

1806: Thomas Wedgewood creates the world’s first photograph.
1843: Scottish mechanic Alexander Bain creates the Fax Machine (predating the bicycle, telegraph, internal combustion engine, and the potato famine, among other things).
1983. Viewtron is created by Norman Morrison in Florida. Later renamed the ‘World Wide Web’.

Dueling sticks around until about the 19th century, but the Victorian Era’s ‘Gentelman’s Code’ of sorts keeps It going. However, it takes on a small connotation: In most duels, your honor is diminished if you actually kill the guy to win. So duels to first blood are more common than death duels. Dueling is identified with fencing throughout the 20th century.
In fact, having a duel aboard an airship placed into an Urban Fantasy novel being written by an inhabitant of this Alternate Timeline (ATL) would be pretty much the same as putting in a paintball battle, tennis match, or political debate- not very jarring.

Also, the Hindenburg Disaster never happened, and gas production stabilized after WWI

Notes of Cliff
So: Due to the earlier photography, we’ve pictures of the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812 (among other things). We’ve fax machines and never had a telegraph. We’ve printers, we’ve scanners, and we’ve the internet.
We also have zeppelins. And dueling. And motorcycles.

Culture and Fashion
When invited out to a social event, one often brings several changes of clothes, and they often change part or all of an outfit during the evening.
Eclectic outfits are even more popular- Cyndi Lauper? Pssssh. Too mundane. Add some bright dye and some hair gel; a pair of mechanics’ goggles; a leather jacket or crop top for guys and some rolled up jeans, or really loose high-waisted pants and pretty much any shirt for girls; you’re golden.
So, in other words, while this may or may not happen in this ATL… picture a charity fundraiser. Cindi Lauper and Michael Jackson are dueling for fun and charity on a zeppelin. MJ is wearing goggles on his forehead, and CL has bright blue hair with green highlights. Paul McCartney is singing in the background, and at least twelve crowd-members are videotaping it so they can upload the cassette to the Web.

Another random forum discovery; small life update.

I found this on the comments on a YouTube video.

why I read youtube comments 1

There are some reasons to read comments. Those rare moments of comedy and/or awesomeness are worth it.

Life Update:

So, at the moment there are three large forest fires burning in the Southcentral section of my state. One of them, which was frighteningly close to our largest population center last I heard, has been declared a Disaster. Of the two on the Peninsula, one is close enough that I can see the smoke- which, admittedly, is akin to saying one is close enough to see the smoke of a volcano. It’s close, but not that close. However, we currently have a number of friends who are closer to it, and waiting to see if they have to evacuate their homes.

We were lucky here last summer with only one big fire, but with these two, well…

Please, those of you who are religious? Pray for the people that might be affected. Those who aren’t? Hope.

To end on a slightly brighter note, the temperature tomorrow is supposed to be between 80 and 90.

I’ve lived my entire life in Alaska.

I’m going to feel like a polar bear in the Sahara.

Lucky I have writing to keep my mind off the heat.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for prayers and hope.