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Darius West

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Darius West last won the day on November 25 2016

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About Darius West

  • Rank
    Scimitar Trainer at the Pavis Moon Barracks (D-3)
  • Birthday 09/25/1968


  • RPG Biography
    I have been playing RPGs since the late 1970s. I mainly GM. Most of my Campaigns have run for over a year RT.
  • Current games
    Currently playing Call of C'thulhu (3 year Campaign), where the emphasis has been on the setting of the early 1920s, and roleplaying rather than wiping out parties.
  • Location
    Melbourne, Australia
  • Blurb
    Chat with me and find out.
  1. Scenario ideas for Dwarf Knoll?

    It is often fun to have a number of political factions involved in the same scenario simultaneously. Likely suspects include a Sable tribe, the Flintnail cult, the Oasis people, and potentially a merchant train on the Pavis Road. Of course the Merchant train is comprised of Etyries, Issaries and Lokarnos merchants, possibly Argan Argar too. Naturally the mercants are all bitchy and politically at odds with each other, even when placed on the same side. Now suppose the High Llama tribe is trying to wrest control of the oasis from the Sables? But how can they dare challenge the Sables when they have Lunar support? Well, the Lunars are off chasing delinquent impala pygmies, and recently the High Llamas have come across a powerful magical Macguffin that has tipped things in their favor. Now the merchants want to get to the oasis to water their beasts, but they also want to leave again. Needless to day the High Llamas don't want Lunar caravan guards reinforcing their enemies, so while the caravan is able to fight its way into the Oasis with relative ease, the High Llamas will be ready if they try to leave. Now the Flintnail dwarves have business in the ruins under the hill, and will hire anyone who is prepared to act as extra muscle to help them. But what peril awaits? Trolls? Chaos? The dwarves also have a bit of an interest in keeping the caravan running because trade caravans are the lifeblood of Pavis but they are small in number and in little position to intervene, but if their mission is successful they might have something to break the deadlock. It might also turn out that the High Llamas are less interested in the capture of the oasis, and more in the return of some of their captives whom the Sables want to sell into slavery, but the Sables are not telling anyone about that, and instead paint the High Llamas as entirely belligerent and unreasonable. Of course the wily Sables are quite prepared to offer "these fine slaves" for sale to the merchants, thus drawing their enemies away. Chuck in a romcom element and a surly curmudgeon of a morokanth who keeps threatening to eat the slaves, and it's a wrap I think.
  2. I know, I deliberately misinterpreted what MOB was saying and used it for my own agenda. Shameless really.
  3. Theory on Dragonewt Weirdness

    Greg Stafford told me that he considered Dragonewts to be a right brain culture (by human standards) i.e. dreamy and weird but with enough reptile to still be ferocious. He also told me that a GM should make them a strange deus ex machina, sometimes friendly, sometimes dangerous, but always weird, mystical and alienating.
  4. A Magical Economy

    Re-read my answer, I mainly do agree. Yes, not having a crop fail does mean you have more food because you don't have less, but for the purposes of a whole agricultural society this won't increase the size of your surplus, and it is the size of the surplus which is all-important for a society's growth. This probably doesn't seem to be an important distinction, but in terms of Economic History (which is sort of what we are discussing), it really matters (unfortunately). Totally agree with the RL economic model. The point is, that Bles Crops means that you CAN budget for 100% efficiency, but you only get your 1 bushel and acre. So the Gloranthan magical model DOES budget for 100% efficiency, but that produces complacency in technological development. Thus while a technically advanced society might yield 1.6 bushels per acre but have a higher chance of catastrophic failure, Gloranthans just produce their 1 bushel and are happy with that and don't push the technical envelope much. On the contrary, if you come to expect a reliable 100% magically enhanced crop and budget for it, you haven't increased average productivity, because your fundamental assumptions of yield are different to the non-magical farmer's. Agreed. As there is no framework for testing the models we can't get the evidence to tell the story. It is fun though.
  5. Theory on Dragonewt Weirdness

    Agree totally. An interesting point. The relationship between newtlings and dragonewts definitely needs more press. If mammal humans can learn dragon magic after surgery, it makes eminent sense that the amphibian newtlings have fewer problems with it. While there is truth in this statement, I worry that it has the potential for reductionism. I could as easily argue for it as against it. Don't dragonewts spend a lot of time basically defending their cities and clutches of eggs? Isn't the breaking of dragonewt eggs by the True Golden Horde that set off the Dragonkill? Who knows how much effort and reverence dragonewts devote to their eggs? In a culture of reincarnation I can't imagine that attuning oneself to one's next rebirth wouldn't be important. What little we know about dragonewts suggests that they do a LOT of rituals. Perhaps some dragonewt behavior can be explained by youthful exhuberance, especially in the crested community, but definitely not all. Dragonewt violence often seems totally unexpected and random for example, moreso as they don't explain their actions. I must strenuously disagree with this. Perhaps GMs and a few player characters respond this way to dragonewts, but it would not be a common view at all. Most Gloranthans don't live in Genertela and have probably not even heard of dragonewts. Those who DO live in Genertela probably have their opinion of dragonewts heavily colored by the genocide of their ancestors during the Dragonkill War. I am sure that the general response is that dragonewts are weird, mercurial and treacherous. That opinion is probably not well-informed, but how many humans regularly deal with dragonewts, even in Dragon Pass? So how about the more cosmopolitain Lunars, I hear you ask, well, post 1625 I am sure they go from feeling the dragonewts are a colorful Elder race local to Dragon Pass to viewing them as terrorists armed with WMDs. Dragonewts share more cultural similarities with Japanese Buddhism and the Aztecs I would suggest. Also, not all dragonewts are crested, and the others are much more culturally influential. I view Dragonewt society more as a system of heavily ritualized monastic city states under the control of the tailed priests, with the cresties being the serfs. I don't think their society is as laissez faire as you suggest. I think it is more dogmatic and structured, but in a structure reminiscent of architecture in dreams. Au contraire, imagine having to empathically reconcile the two halves of your own brain into something approaching a reintegrated personality? Remember also that the loss of empathy in a split brain is due to the dominance of the left brain in language production. The right brain retains its empathy, it just can't speak. This is a good metaphor for the alien and alienating mindset of the dragonewts I think. I don't see the dragonewts as being merely playful. That might be true of crested scout hunters out on their own, but not for the larger society. If the dragonewts didn't care about humans the EWF would never have existed. To suggest the EWF was merely dragonewts being playful doesn't gel with the history.
  6. A Magical Economy

    Obviously the spell has a beneficial effect, otherwise who would bother to cast it? The point I was making is based on how agronomy affected economic history. IRL technical development hinged on the production of a food surplus that allowed urban environments to flourish. IRL if you want to plant more crops, you need more people and to clear more land, which is a problem because each person requires an acre of land to produce a bushel (1 years food), and clearing land was time-consuming, difficult work. More fertile land was desperately important. Much hinged on soil fertility, as potentially if 1 acre could produce more than 1 bushel you were ahead. Thus if you could get even a 1% increase in productivity by rotating your fields or using a new fertilizer it was worth it. Hârnmaster is the best game system for this btw, they literally have each region's soil fertility listed. My point was that Bless Crops doesn't get you ahead, it mitigates total failure, which means that as with the rest of the point about Glorantha being homeostatic, Bless Crops doesn't add anything, it maintains homeostasis.
  7. LOL, my opinion of Hero Quest as a system is neither favorable nor secret. The same goes for non-sequiteur Bollywood musical numbers in an action fantasy movie. I suppose I can fast forward through them. I like a LOT of things about Indian culture, but not compulosry Bollywood musical numbers. Did you know when Bollywood produced a version of "I Spit on Your Grave" they had musical numbers? In the spirit of full disclosure and fairness it was the one time I wasn't annoyed by a Bollywood musical number because I was too busy laughing.
  8. Perpetual Spirit Magic

    Sorcery isn't "always on", it merely has a long duration. Ultimately any sufficiently advanced magic looks like technology.
  9. Theory on Dragonewt Weirdness

    Do dragonewts even have emotions the way humans do? I mean, obviously all animals have a spectrum of behavior that translates into emotions as humans understand them, and so too for other sentient species one must therefore suppose, but there is also considerable room for variance. This is a species that enjoys a conscious recall of their past lives, and is therefore functionally immortal in every way that counts, while they stay on the path. We also know that they are not as united as might be supposed. They have subtle doctrinal differences in the interpretation of right action that are all but opaque to humans, except maybe Lhankor Mhy dragonewt specialists. We also know that dragonewts are protective of their secrets, especially since the fall of the EWF. Consider and example from KoDP; dragonewts waltz with a wasp nest balanced on their head. Not perform some sort of dance; they waltz, three step in each others arms with wasp nests on their heads. This is clearly evoking the Harmony rune and forms an overture to making contact. The waltz itself represents joining in a co-ordinated effort with another, with overtures of amity, and there must be music, referencing the first harp, and the wasp nest represents everything that could go wrong if harmony is broken. Next thing you know the dragonewts are sending envoys to chat with you and figure out what your values are, and then testing to see if you live up to them. That would seem to support the whole rune casting hypothesis. Now for a human to even learn Auld Wyrmish you need to split your tongue and your brain. Why is that necessary? Well the split tongue may allow certain vocal manipulations, but the split brain is more telling, given what we know about human left/right brain processing. Some people who have experienced this operation have even found themselves fighting their own hands as the other side of their brain decides on a course of action and is determined to carry it out. Perhaps the division is a means of enforcing internal harmony, but not through the dominance of the ego but through negotiated process amounting to right action? It is fair to say that Dragonewts seem to be a very right brain society, full of art, magic and ritual, and who are able to create a localized geography that reflects the dream-like right brain view of the world. The dragonewts are supposed to be weird and opaque, even deliberately so. Perhaps much of what they do is to actively and deliberately confuse human onlookers so as to avoid future EWF copycat activities and the disasters that brought?
  10. Before I get too enthusiastic, is the movie punctuated by the mandated 4 song and dance routines Bollywood demands by law?
  11. A Magical Economy

    Not really. If a 1 acre plot that returns 1 bushels of wheat has bless crops it will only produce its maximum yield. What bless crops does is ensure that it is likely to make that 100% yield available even when frosts and other trouble occurs that would reduce the harvest. You probably won't get less than the maximum yield, but you will never get more than the intrinsic fertility of the land can support. What you get is a reliable harvest. Does that mean "more" crops? No, it isn't superphosphate fertilizer, and it won't allow you to produce 1 harvest per season either. It produces reliability and predictability not surplus. Frankly, a reliable and predictable harvest is a big deal given that subsistence farming is fraught with the threat of famine IRL.
  12. Perpetual Spirit Magic

    Simply put, I wouldn't allow spirit magic to be permanent unless it was a Godlearner artifact. Spirit magic is intrinsically short-lived and drawn from the essence of the creature performing it. The notion that this can be changed with a heroquest is okay, but not many spirits actually have an associated heroquest for their followers to perform with this in mind. If you want long effects, you use sorcery not shamanism. This limit is fair given how powerful Shamanism is. I mean, why develop sorcery if shamanism, the more primitive tradition is better in every way?
  13. A Magical Economy

    Increased Productivity: Even with magic this is only true to a point. Bless Crops doesn't generate more crops, it stops crops from failing. Much the same is true of Sunripen. Magic is really more about "not failing" than overproduction when it comes to that all-important food surplus. Also, it is worth noting a general dearth of spells that help artisans produce finished goods. Issaries, for example is all about storing and selling, but not so much about making. Pavis provides spells that help you put up a wall, but you need to finish that before the spell runs out. Gustbran at best gives you a spell that helps you ignore fatigue while working the forge. Sorcerers of course, have their useful form/set spells, but they are unlikely to produce high quality finished items unless the sorcerer also has the crafting skill involved. In essence, magic will make a good specialist better, but there is no getting away from the need for skills. As for education, RQ is a skill driven system where nobody is proud of their own ignorance unlike IRL. For all that, any advantage that magic provides is pretty static. Gods don't change, and innovation isn't encouraged by any society except the Lunars. Innovation is something those Godlearners and EWF mutants abused back in the Second Age, and we won't stand for it (jk). In many ways Glorantha is annoyingly conservative, socially, magically and technically. Magic actually acts as a brake on change. Even gods who have a Mobility/Change rune don't really change. Decrease in Child Mortality: The main beneficiaries of more children are agricultural societies where extra hands are needed to perform the 101 daily chores and plant/bring in the harvest. Every child is also a brake on prosperity because they are an extra 1/2 bushel of food lost to feeding them. IRL food surpluses were hard won. For example, in China the careful selection of rice that had more grains was specially chosen and cultivated to yield better crops from the same land. Really, having more children for most societies means that at a certain point they have a surplus population that they will plough into warfare. Traditional social values that promote female values will promote motherhood, not fertility control, plus the social drive to overproduce babies will mean they are harder to feed and will also drive warfare. Societies paid dearly for having ritual specialists and a ruling class soaking up their food surplus. Even artisans were only as useful as the resources they brought to market. Accounts of ancient battles in our world which seemed to exaggerate the numbers of casualties may in fact not have done so. Warfare can be the Malthusian dynamic that corrects human population, but not by the combat so much as the famine and disease that follows such as in modern wars in the Horn of Africa. Back in ancient times however, wholesale slaughter may have served to destroy entire populations, such as the Roman annihilation of the Dacians. Increased Life Expectancy: This will only be true in peacetime, of which there will be little, as most societies seem to measure their success by the seizure of territory. Also, obtaining the services of a medical specialist will be expensive. Essentially the rich will live longer, but they already do. Also, archaeology is suggesting that much of our assumptions about average life expectancy may be statistically abberant due to the effects of infant mortality on biasing the stats. Increased Capabilities: Magic means that individual people will become immense overachievers. These magical specialists are called Heroes. If society is lucky, the heroes might be able to pass on some of their powers through sub-cults. Heroes are a mixed blessing too. They do tend to have some very fixed ideas about the world and their place in it, and they tend to expect to be obeyed or they make your life miserable i.e. they can be massive bullies and may not have the best ideas. As heroes will wind up with a disproportionate amount of social influence and resources, anything that doesn't push their agenda may well be ignored, including (perhaps especially) innovation. Also, again, the Gods put the brakes on innovation and change thanks to their static and unchanging nature.
  14. Do spirits require elemental runes

    My rule of thumb is only ever give a spirit cult one or at most two runes. One might well be an element rune but that isn't compulsory.
  15. Wind Child PC

    We had fun with Wind Children. Their society is hunter-gatherer and quite primitive compared to most. Because their tribes are Kolat worshipers, their variation on the other air deities is shamanistic, but their interpretation of legends is usefully primordial. Because they live in the mountains, they find the low air hard on their bodies. They are also used to the disease free high altitudes and tend to have poor personal hygiene. They are quite good at swoop and poop harpy style attacks too.