Star Wars Clone Wars Seasons 1 and 2

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Need something to do on a Sat night besides partying? How about visit your old friend Genndy Tartakovsky and his take on Star Wars Clone Wars. The series which came out in small 3 minute segments take place between episodes 2 and 3.  This is the same guy who directed one of my favorite cartoons, Samurai Jack.

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In my humble opinion this EPIC micro series blows away the Disney Star Wars Rebels and the 2008 The Clone Wars. Watch it below here. Go to around the 35:30 minute mark and check out Mace Windu kicking ass like he should. I won’t bore you with any more details. Go check this out for yourself here.

 

 

The Old Sylph On The Mountain

This is the introduction chapter to Anointed: Mantle of the Gods Table-Top Role-Playing Game.

Get the game here. 

 

Galt climbed the mountainside, inch by inch, tortured by heat and pain.

With his two daggers, Frostfang and Venomblade, he punched into the rock, one at a time. He tied a rope, twenty paces long to each dagger and threw it eighteen paces. Slowly he climbed the rope, a good white hemp rope made by folks down near the Crystal Lakes, hand over fist to the dagger lodged in the granite stone.

If one was to look at Galt’s progress up the mountainside, all you would see is three sacks, rope, and daggers.

Galt, blessed by his god of Shadows, was given three gifts. The first two gifts were the daggers, enchanted by his god, one made to freeze and the other to poison. His last gift gave him the ability to blend in to his surroundings. Galt looked much like the beige granite mountainside he was climbing. Even Galt’s shadow was blended in so no one would notice. He is the perfect hero for a god who loves death, dances in shadows and plays with snakes.

During the climb he thought about his god’s command: “Go find the old sylph, the one who lives in a cave near the top of Thumbstone Mountain.” Why would he go find a cranky old sylph? The old ones are unusually cunning, full of words and themselves. They smelled like musty old leather that needs to be oiled along with whatever strange weed they were smoking. And the teas, always strange, made of exotic compounds such as claw of harpy and eye of Lashon, with some mint for taste, of course. The older sylphs had desks, inks and parchment made of strange leathers and papers so they could write out whatever claptrap they knew. Gold and secrets, it was their stock and trade.
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Even at the market the winged creatures made his skin crawl. Galt lead a trade caravan to the Crater of Lugos last summer. The trip opened his eyes to the world. At first he hated the winged monkeys, with their small pointed heads, brown skins, and clawed hands and feet; then he decided it was good to tolerate them for what they knew. Here he was, laboring for an old cheeky bastard who had some strange pact with his god. Three labors will tell you old secrets, he said. Galt wanted no secrets; he wanted to kill for his god. Kill and maybe find a young girl near the wheat field with a large bosom.

Galt threw the sacks onto mountain ledge, kicking up yellow dust. With a groan he pulled himself onto the surface, sweat mixing with sand.  “All-right old man!” he yelled, “I have what you want here!”

The old sylph came out of the cave wearing a yellow hemp robe stained with juices. A silver cane made of gems supported his walk, for he limped noticeably. Old wings were folded up like tent flaps behind his back sticking out of the robe. A white haired head poked out of the yellow covering, bald in the middle with dark brown spots. Old white hairs hung down the robe from the top of his head and chin like tree moss. A couple of gnats flew around him. Teeth replaced with gold and silver filled his mouth. The old one walked to the bags, and with small, yellow, clawed hands, he rummaged through the sacks, carefully inspecting each one.

“Adequate.” He said, turning to Galt. “Come inside, human. It is time I held up my side of the bargain.”

Galt wanted nothing to do with this smelly, rotten sylph. He held his breath as he entered the cave. Strange green fires cast an eerie glow in the room. Shelves of scrolls, books, and leather hides were scattered on a desk, occupying one side. The other side held just a few trinkets on a wooden table, made of copper and brass, along with pots and pans that hung from the ceiling. A green fire was lit in the middle at a large hearth, with a chimney going up into rock. The sylph took Galt to the fire and sat upon a heap of carpets and pillows. Galt sat down on the other side near a pot on a table with two cups. After several minuets he exhaled loudly and finally took a deep breath in; smoke filled his lungs, along with strange scents. He could detect cinnamon and cloves amidst a tincture of other queer smells. He felt lightheaded, relaxed.

“Drink from the cup behind you.”

Galt grabbed a cup and drank, in deep gulps. A part of him, deep inside, screamed out, “No! Do not do that you stupid idiot!” but he drank.

“Drink the other cup behind you.” Galt chugged it like a greedy child, slurping with delight. A sweet mixture of grapes and pears blended with honey coursed over his tongue, tickling his taste buds. Some of the drink made its way down his chin.

“Now that you are more open to curious impulses and strange thoughts, it is time.” The Sylph said. “Ask me what comes to mind. Quickly! This draught will only last some time before you descend back to your dull, nitwit self.”

Another presence filled his mind. Lorthonos, the shadow lord. Calm yourself Galt. I only want to experience what you hear and ask. Make sure you ask the right questions for it will be written down someday, for our tribe.

“Very well then, old one; tell me about our allies and foes. Not just our tribal allies, but all of mankind’s allies. Who are mankind’s foes? Include any important creature or tribe of creatures in the Known World.”

“Figures your mind had more than rocks and balls of Lashon dung in there, eh? Hidden thoughts trouble you. I don’t get paid to fix your messed up mind, do I? The agreement as written in blood by both parties is just a question and answer session. He did not mention I would be talking to a stump with legs either.”

The old man grabbed the pot from the table and threw out the contents into a small gutter leading deep into the rock. After rinsing it with water he put the pot down and turned to the young warrior. “Alright, let’s see if I can get this clarified. Allies and Enemies? Always with the war terms, who is my friend? Who hates my guts? Frivolous! not worthy of deep introspection. Enemies turn into friends and friends turn into enemies, sometimes on the same day. The biggest enemy of man is man! Yes, yes I know that is not what you want. Then learn to ask proper questions. What you should have asked is: tell me what species walks this world and what are their relationships to man? I can make a list for you. Here is a list of all intelligent species on this mud-ball of a world: Gnomes, Sylphs, Undines, Wood Nymphs, Dark Wood Nymphs, Jurelian Giants, Forest Giants Salamanders, Leviathans and Demons. That pretty much covers it. Now for the details. Yes, I will tell you where they live and all that. Unlike humans who spread like locust, and consume everything under the sun these other races, species and entities have their own areas, customs and are not used to brash upstarts rummaging about their lands. You might get killed talking to one the wrong way!”

“Gnomes are pretty much a one-track mind species, always tinkering, making stuff. All of their workshops are loud as a chorus of bullfrogs belching and being stomped on. It’s like they have to put their minds to some type of creative task or they go nuts. Or they burrow deep in the earth for I don’t know how long. Gnomes are rock people, made of stones, ores, minerals and all that. I once thought a beardless gnome was a statue and to my mistake I started to draw a nice beard on him while he sat in a hallway, not blinking or moving. I apologized and the charcoal beard looked so good he kept it, growing grey lead whiskers. They stand about a head smaller than one of you pink fleshies, but are a lot wider. It’s their eyes that always captivated me. I tried to steal an eye from the same guy I drew the beard on, but that did not work out so well. I did, however, retrieve some of his top hair as it was yellow and soft, exactly like gold. Made a profit, too. I did not tell him because then I would have to split my profits. Regarding gnomes and humans, well, they work with humans a lot. Humans outnumber them and are very useful in their ‘creative endeavors.’ One time I saw a gnome make this colossal-sized pump. It took several years and hundreds of volunteers to make. Gnomes and men worked together on this project. I stood off to the side and made sure everyone was getting paid.  You should be able to talk to a Gnome. If he will listen is up to him. Might I advise you better have something of interest to them if you desire more than a blank stare. Material possessions deep within the earth are what they crave. Gnomes live for novel cuts of stone, rare veins of strange metals and ideas on how to improve a process. If you want to find a gnome, go to the nearest mountain range or set of hills. If there are gems and ores, there should be gnomes. If not, then there will be gnomes coming in the near future.”

Galt stares at the little old wrinkle faced creature with deep eyes processing everything. Thoughts of the last trade with his tribe and gnomes made him see the folly of giving away tin ore so cheap. Instead of bronze spearheads and ax heads they could have asked for much more! Iron axes, iron spearheads and other metals could be theirs if they had something worthwhile. The next meeting with a gnome will be on better footing. A strange green rock was found by one of the miners. I bet it could fetch a nice price with them.

The winged old man grabs a bowl of sickly sweet smelling rotten meat and un-ripened fruit. With deft claw hands he rummages through the small eyes picking and eating each one. Small berries still green along with bird feet are eaten in one quick scooping action of claw to mouth. Galt’s stomach starts to growl and churn as the smell mixed with the spices he inhaled upon entering the dark, musty cave.

“Wood Nymphs, on the other hand, vex me by their very nature. Talking to one is like talking to a cat. They will only pay attention if you have something unique. They do not believe in possession, so good luck trying to bribe one. I know; I tried it. Metals are out of the question; they will not touch the stuff. These tree huggers can make stuff like necklaces made of acorns which they will give away if you show them something neat, like a magic trick or whatever. Wood Nymphs look for the next experience much like a gutter alley junkie. Except they get high off life. If you have something unique, like a horse dropping shaped like a tree, they would gladly give up their shiny gems for it. Well, if they have any. You never know what they have. I knew one that liked to cultivate mushrooms—on his body! I will not tell you what places they were, either. They are sneaky buggers too, with skin made to hide in the wild areas, mottled and striped, leaves for hair so they blend in well, and they are skinny, too skinny. I offered a turkey leg to one and she turned her nose up at it! They are all Kipthmanish-maat! In your tongue, untrustworthy. They do not believe gods are real, either. Nothing like a bunch of Atheists in a world filled with gods. They believe in each other, that they do, and love to call each other ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters.’ Wood Nymphs practice a magic similar to what your god uses when casting miracles. Not sure how it works but the mechanics are similar. I have seen their homes in the trees, shaped using their magic. Pretty neat stuff. I asked to have a table made using their magic so I could sell it and they looked at me like I was the crazy one. Ha! They do trade and hunt with humans, but do not expect them to show up at a proper time or place for anything. Look for them in a forest area filled with lots of fruits and nuts growing on trees. They are all fruits and nuts to me. You are what you eat.”

 

“Dark Wood Nymphs, the cannibalistic, disgusting, backstabbing sneaks we will not speak of this time. They live in the fungal forest of Baathun and never venture far from their lonely land in Raanon. They pose no threat and would not trade with you. But you would make a tasty snack to them.”

“Undines, the turkey of the sea, too laid back for my taste, never in a hurry.  They are shape shifters, going from a humanoid, fishy form with a hole in the back of their neck to a fishy, fishy form like a dolphin or whale. You can tell the shape shifted ones from regular fishes by the plant growing out near its blow hole. Undines like to bond with a sea plant and grow it for hair. I guess if you get hungry you could eat it. Not even going to try. I lived with a whole enclave once, even knew the matriarch, down to the little ones. It usually is a large, extended family. My time with them in Ar-Feyslyn was profitable, yet dull. I shared jokes; they looked at me like a three-eyed fish. We did exchange information, but I did most of the writing. For some reason most folk do not practice writing. Information is memorized. The priests do write, but only seldom. I did like the coral armor they made for me. Fine stuff. Check out the third shelf and you can see my old helmet gathering dust. Unlike the gnomes and their many gods, undines only have two, Plthunlos and Celundynn. They were a couple, in legend, but they are separated. No one talks about what happened either. I doubt it was based on cheating. Honestly I would trade with and work with followers of Celundynn and avoid those who worship Plthunlos. They make for good allies but sometimes it is hard to figure out who is who. You can find undines in the cliffs and shallows near the sea. The cities are gorgeous and you could learn a few things about architecture by studying them. The mean bastards usually hang out deep in the ocean or near areas with no land, so be careful on your next sea voyage.

“My people, the sylphs are much more practical and full of wisdom than all of the other species combined. We value gold, gems and knowledge. In fact we created the first world currency, the Shekel. Our accounting houses can be found in any major city. We ally ourselves with everybody. Everybody needs us. But, it is true that we only tolerate everyone else. Why? Because everyone else is not a sylph! In fact you probably do not even appreciate what I am saying to you right now! All of this great knowledge came at a price. Well, then. A few things you should know about us, besides the fact we represent a great evolution of spirit, is we are descendants of air elementals, shaped with brown leathery wings, round heads, sharp chins and claws. Proudly, we call Lugos, god of Air, Wisdom and Thought our only god. We inhabit many areas in the known world, always close to where the action is but we always call the Crater of Lugos home. We pride ourselves in getting along with every sentient race known. Salamander generals call on us for advice. So do human warlords. We have even given council to jurelian giants and leviathans! You would shit yourself, human, if you had to speak to one, much less give it advice. There are several clans in existence, dedicated to different aspects of our focus in life. The most famous clan of all: The Silver Scroll Gatherers. Every family has someone who dedicated their life to the cause to gathering knowledge for its own sake. You and your god benefit from their hard earned wisdom and truths. So pay attention and pass me that bag of giant brains, will you?”

The winged scholar grabs a large brass kettle and puts it over the green fire in the center of the cave room.  After several minutes the old sylph pours liquids into the pot from water skins lying on the ground. Galt hauls the first bag over, green and red thick liquids ooze from the brown cloth sack. The old sylph motions for the bag to be emptied. A fizzing sound with several cracking noises comes from the pot. With the silver cane in hand, the winged scholar stirs the pot around. Galt stares at the floor, deep in thought.

“Wake up, you! I am not even close to being done, It is time to speak of those whom you would call foe. Salamanders.”

Galt turns his head up from the floor and glares at the old sylph, “I supposed you will tell me how good they were to you, right?”

“No, they let me live because I was too valuable to them alive. Knowledge is power, boy. Even a god can be thwarted from scrying into our minds. Lugos blessed us with such fortitude of mind.”

“Go on then, old bat, tell me are they as vicious as people say?”

“Even more. Salamanders embody their fiery ancestors. Always fighting, they live for the struggle, consuming like a forest fire, always seeking more trees to burn.. Salamanders are ruled by nine dragon gods, each one vying for power from the other eight. If they ever united for a cause, I would shudder. In my life I have never seen them come together. This goes true for their followers. Now, what they have in common is pretty simple. They worship and respect power. If you are powerless, you are nothing but a servant. Might is right. Salamanders seek to rule over the world and each other.  The struggle or “Nniss-thok” is what they live for. I have seen salamanders that lose the will to live or kill themselves. If there are no challenges, they will invent something to overcome. Lugos help those who lack imagination. Better yet, Lugos do not help them. Women rule their culture as queens of a colony. The men fight and so do the barren women. Females that can have children rise up in status. I am sure you have seen Salamanders, but you can tell the difference between a male and a female by the frills. Males have them and females do not. You, of course, know they are taller than humans yet leaner, with tails and hard diamond scales for skin. They call the desert and its harsh environs ‘home.’ The salamander economy is simple. It comes down to slaves. The more a matriarch has, the higher her status and the more her male consorts can accomplish. Yes, we sylphs do engage in helping to transact and quantify this, but please, we do not advocate slavery. Gnomes oppose them and their practices. Hatred between the two species is high and battles have been waged over a mere sighting between each race. My advice is to never trade when near a gnome and a salamander at the same time. Oh, one more thing—gnomes can create wonders, but salamanders are the true masters of metal.  Exotic metals able to split brass like dry twigs exist and are worth their weight in gold. I would not take the whole slavery issue personally, human; it is their nature. They have even enslaved each other to a limited degree. Often the slave masters of a house are former slaves themselves.”

“As your tribe lives in Kathonia on the land mass we sylphs call Naalgrom, I must tell you of another race, the jurelian giants. Not the forest giants who live in the lands of Raanon way on the southside of the world. Giants from the land of Jurel, which lies in the north, are unique with four arms, three eyes, shaggy and huge, twice as tall as a man. If you want chaos and destruction, they are the people you seek. Jurelian Giants worship ancestor gods and their primal god, Thuun Lord of Destruction. Destruction is their very nature and if you need a place, tribe or even a field of crops destroyed get yourself a good and strong one. Bribe him with simple pleasures of fat pigs, large bushes filled with ripe fruit and Lashon’s milk and you can keep one loyal to you. In the cold lands of Jurel, they live for the fight, seeking rival tribes and other challenges. I have been there myself and witnessed two clans fighting. I never knew those shaggy beasts could throw each other so far. One thing I will say is their eyesight is poor, along with their speed. They are accurate mind you, but I have dodged a few blows in my life, and I am still alive thanks to my quickness. They do have a language and heritage but it involves seeking stones deep in the ground and killing. Lots of death and destruction. I worked with one in particular over the years. You can see the remains of his foot in the corner. Yes, it holds up the corner table. I kept it as a souvenir when he was dismembered by a tribe of wealthy humans. He never cried out or screamed; he just kept fighting until his last breath.”

“Pass me that bag of bones now…here help me lay out the bones. We are making a pattern here.” The old sylph scratched out a wing shaped pattern with charcoal on a large wooden table. One by one, bones are removed and put on the table, making the winged sketch come to life.

He looks up from the table at Galt. With a steady gaze he looks deep into the human’s eyes. “Boy it is time to discuss matters of spirit and the second world we all walk in. I saved talk of demons and leviathans for this discussion. First I need to lay down some framework for you to think about. Your body is just a vessel, a mount for your spirit to experience this world on. You have been blessed by Fate to have a body and keep your sanity. There are spirits coming from the well that have no home, no body, just a conscious. Give me the third bag. Yes, the harpy feathers. Hurry now, quickly, quickly!”

The old sylph starts laying the feathers down on the winged bone outline, a bit at a time. He grabs a ladle of the giant’s brains, cooked down to a soup, and pours a bit with the feathers to keep them in. Soon a proper harpy wing shapes up on the table.

“Everyone, man, god, demon, salamander, gnome and even I come from the well of souls. It is where the spirits comes from and where we go to when we die. Some spirits manage to avoid the cycle of the well and life, usually the few blessed by their god, and gods.

Demons are special. Imagine a pot full of water boiling at the rim. The splashes of water which escape are the demons that make it out of the well before their time as a spirit inhabiting a body. What is even crazier is the fact other escapees, or demons, lie in wait for the “pot to boil over.” Most, if not all, demons are whisked away to start “spirit life” as a free, amoral spirit learning arcane secrets on the demon plains. From the demon plains, these twisted souls make their way to the known world, the veil of dreams or the celestial gardens. It is up to them after their period of indoctrination on that infernal plain if they become good or bad. Demons are not always bad, in fact some become gods after they prove themselves to Fate. Oftentimes they become villains, leviathans or worse, enemies of Fate. Demons have their own magic, too. I worked with another sylph for ten years before I found out he was a demon. He would do most if not all of the talking. He has the queerest eyes now that I recall him. Glowing purple eyes and his nails were always black. Those ten years were quite fascinating. Too bad I killed him and bound his demonic soul to this rock over here. Yup, the purple crystal rock right there on the table. Pick it up and listen closely, you can speak to it a question and I am sure he will answer, out of boredom, probably.

“Quick fact: our sense of smell still works when we die. In fact, it is sharpened and emotions turn into those smells. The most succulent smell (so I am told) is fear. Imagine a roasted side of beef, flavored with salt and garlic.

“Leviathans feed off of and are addicted to fear. Their tortured souls, who were once spirits, demons or gods, live life for the next fix of fear. Leviathans come in all shapes and sizes for they are a reflection of our nightmares, the worst of our imaginations. I even worked with one once, a gnome sailor who hid his alter ego. We sailed into three harbors only to see the ports wiped out from the carnage but we were left alive. He was discovered later on and I was the only one to escape alive. He might still be sailing the world for all I know. Boy, you have to prepare yourself to fight a Leviathan, for they fight with terror and kill with miracles designed to create more fear. Bravery can only get you so far. Imagination and cunning are your two best weapons to defeat these fiends. Baesop, human god of the Hracians, defeated the first leviathan, rallying the gods to the first war of the Leviathans. You would do well to seek his council. Morgis, the Lion-headed god of man also knows how to defeat leviathans and has celebrated several victories.

“Now that you understand what terrors lie out there I will speak to you of the realm of the gods and the path of the dead.”

“There is a cycle of the spirit one you must understand in your dealings with life. As a representative of your god, you have some of his innate abilities such as seeing demons, spirits and being able to affect them. The average sentient being cannot touch them, nor can a spirit touch a living being. But they can communicate through dreams and whispers on the wind. So pay attention to this cycle I speak over, boy!”

“We all come from the Well of Souls. Our newborn spirits float on spirit streams to our destinations, through the veil of dreams to a newborn body coming into the world. We live, experience life, and then we die. Afterward, we go back on a spirit stream, through the veil once more, this time to the Celestial Gardens, a place where souls reside until they meet Fate or their god. Some spirits do not feel the urge and stay here. The pull is much gentler, and more powerful minds are able to stay in this world. So you either stay here in the afterlife or go to the gardens. After that place of holding, you move on, either back to the Well of Souls or to your god’s realm in the Celestial Spheres.

“You need to know a bit more about the Veil of Dreams, the first odd place before you come into this world and on the way out. Dreams are the stuff of reality here. Every night when you go to bed, you visit this place, taking part, willingly or not, in a fantasy or nightmare. Usually it is good you forget what happens there. But sometimes the place leaves a mark on your soul. Make sure you talk to your god about all dreams. Leviathans and hungry demons play here as well, seeking weak spirits to use and cast aside. Strengthen yourself before going here. Make sure your goals are clear and you know yourself. The last thing you need to do is wind up lost in the Veil of Dreams. Some spirits do and never escape. My cousin Lem was one of those poor souls. His body lived on like a vegetable, nobody home. I think they finally let him die, starved to death.

“The Celestial Gardens comes up next in places of weird. It is a ‘hang out’ for the gods, and the occasional living soul wanders in and out of there. You best stick right close to your god or Fate will see you right back to the Well of Souls. Seven unique gardens exist within this place with a secret eighth garden rumored. These are: the Courtyard of Fate; the Orchard of Knowledge, Reason, and Madness; The Floral Garden of Vigilance, Paranoia, and Sloth; The Fungal Garden of Charity, Gluttony, and Greed; the Herbal Garden of Fate, Revenge, and Trust; the Tropical Gardens of Lust, Adoration, and Revulsion; or the Frost Gardens of Joy, Pain and Sorrow. Each one is a place filled with delights and perils. What you practice in life, echoes into the afterlife. More on this can be found through your god and in books such as The Celestial Gardens written by my second cousin.”

The old sylph fastens leather strips to different parts of the bone structure with brass rivets. A few sharp hammer blows fall as each one is carefully put into place. “Help me with these wings; I will lie forward and you must spread my old wings out. I will tell you which ones to fasten.” The night is spent with the old man hunched over with Galt tightening the new harpy wings. Both men sweated and cursed until finally, near the dawn, the wings were fully attached. Words and symbols decorated the old sylph in dark green ink. Galt sat down and thought of nothing.

“Lorthonos, it is time.”

A wind blew open the outer cave door rushing inward swirling around the room. Sheets of parchment and leather strips danced in the air. The old man changed, expanding bone and flesh, grew into a being not quite sylph and not quite harpy. Large black wings grew in place of the attachments; bones stretched while the spine crackled. Legs stretched forward. Pain shot through the old man as he cried out in agony. Galt watched on in horrific fascination as the sylph became something more.

Something new, crafted by his god, stood in front of Galt—a tall, slender humanoid man, young with sylph features, harpy wings and human limbs.

“Ahh, I am renewed again! Now to leave this dusty place. You may have it, Galt, as a workshop for you to learn about the world. This morning I will fly towards my new goal, Frinth and the gnomish city of Arador. I will give you some parting advice as anointed champion of your god. How your god fares is how you will fare. If your god gains more followers, you will gain more in power. If you want to live forever, you must make sure your god succeeds. Make friends with other gods but understand where you belong. Your god puts a mantle upon you, a cloak of brilliants for the whole world to see. You are his vassal in the world, go forth and be worthy of his patronage.

“War is coming between men, for there can only be a few gods among any group of people. We sylphs had several but were reduced to one. You humans have thousands of gods. Know that as you struggle with outside threats, tensions between your tribes will be less, as all of man focuses on common enemies. Soon you will turn inwards. Make sure you and your god are ready.”

The old sylph on the mountain flew off after his last statement, flying on the wind to his goals.

Written by Richard Leon

Capitalism vs. Robots – which is more terrifying?

An excellent article here for your consumption.

Science, Technology, + Culture

In an article that recently resurfaced on Reddit, Famed Astrophysicists Stephen Hawking argues that we should fear capitalism more than robots. I think the timing of this is somewhat interesting, being an election cycle and the two populist candidates are opposites in many regards especially in terms of Democratic Socialism vs. Crony Capitalism (Sanders v Trump). In the broader context of emerging technology this is important as well though, as many other technology leaders have expressed fear of AI, such as Elon Musk, while other leaders are running full steam ahead towards more and more automation.

Hawking isn’t the only person thinking about the economy and technology though. Warren Buffet just released Berkshire Hathaway’s annual report with some pretty stark warnings about the future of capitalism in action at the corporate level. Indicating that innovation does have a darkside. While he’s speaking as a manager, there are economists looking into…

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Introduction to New Gods of Mankind Legendary Artifacts

Get the whole book here. Enjoy the introduction chapter below.

Greetings Seeker,

            If you have obtained a copy of this book, you are either a very sly thief or a member of the Silver Scroll Gatherers. If you do not speak the proper phrase within the allotted time, this book will dissipate into fine sand. Please return this book in a timely manner to the Silver Scroll Gatherers in Arador. You will be rewarded.

Bound within this third volume of Secrets of the Silver Scroll Gatherers is potent knowledge of Legendary Artifacts . Information is power and such power can be found inside this secret text. Any portion of this text, if misused will shift the balance of power in Naalrinnon.

These puissant objects of power, filled with the Belief of many, are the subject of many tales—some true, others false. Belief over a period of time in the object of supremacy is what empowers these Artifacts, creating a living object able to cast Miracles about as though it were a god. Legends, fictional and real, are discussed here, along with the laws, properties, and rules governing the use of such Artifacts. Some records are first-hand information, although some are second- or even third-hand accounts. Scholars and scribes including many sylph, undine, and gnome priests have contributed to this work and are referenced in it. Many questions such as how the objects were created and where they are located are only hinted at; true locations are never revealed as this knowledge alone is dangerous. Gods who created and controlled the item along with people who have worshiped the Artifact are mentioned as well. Some Artifacts have only manifested in the Known World a few times, while others are lost, as the God and the people who worshiped it are dead. Much of the distilled knowledge of millennia of study can be found here, although there are lamentable gaps in our knowledge when it comes to these legendary Artifacts.

            This book is divided into several chapters discussing these Legendary Artifacts of the Known World. Below is a list of the chapters along with topics discussed:

  • Chapter 1 Introduction to Legendary Artifacts: We discuss here all laws and attributes of Legendary Artifacts.
  • Chapter 2 Legendary Artifacts of the Gnome Gods: Puissant weapons of power are stored with the Gnome Gods.
  • Chapter 3 Legendary Artifacts of the Dragon Gods: Even the Artifacts of the Dragon Gods are divisive.
  • Chapter 4 Legendary Artifacts of Undine and Sylph Gods: Celundynn, Plthunlos, and Lugos all have created extraordinary items that influence the Known World to this day.   
  • Chapter 5 Legendary Artifacts of the Nymph and Giants The forests and wild places in the Known World hold strange secrets.
  • Chapter 6 Menacing and Terrifying Leviathan Artifacts: Malevolent wills and raging souls created several horrifying weapons of fear and destruction.

May Lugos guide your thoughts and deeds,

 

Rhenn,

Third brother of the Silver Scroll Gatherers in Arador

This book is for any god who wishes to create an Artifact, or to make his Artifact legendary. Players should note each myth surrounding the Artifact and the Miracles each one contains. Each section has some unique items of power which can be incorporated into any game.

If your god finds such knowledge during a campaign you should talk with Fate (The Gamemaster) about questing for the Artifact or creating your own.

To Fate (GM):

Every Artifact here can be used for a campaign, either as a focal point or something to add in. If you see an Artifact with too much power, or not enough, feel free to alter the Miracle stats for the weapons.

New grades of Miracles are introduced in this book to show a grander scale. The Mythical, Grandiose, and Impossible scales of Miracles reflect the following die values and cost.

Make sure when role-playing to give each legendary Artifact at least a semi-sentient persona. Most of the Artifacts will display their feelings through actions. Very few are verbal and have full consciousness (a few are mentioned).

Most of all have fun!

Table #–4: Miracle Base Cost
Alteration Miracles
Power Base Cost
Trivial 2
Minor 3
Significant 4
Major 5
Legendary 6
Mythical 10
Grandiose 15
Impossible 50
Innovation Miracles
Power Base Cost
Trivial 4
Minor 5
Significant 6
Major 7
Legendary 8
Mythical 14
Grandiose 20
Impossible 85
Innovation Miracles
Miracle’s Power Die Size
Trivial d4
Minor d6
Significant d8
Major d10
Legendary d12
Mythical d20
Grandiose d30
Impossible d100
Alteration Miracles
Miracle’s Power Die Size Increase or Decrease Steps*
Trivial No effect
Minor One step
Significant Two steps
Major Three steps
Legendary Four steps
Mythical Five steps
Grandiose Six steps
Impossible Seven steps
Miracle’s Power Bonus (or penalty) to Die Roll
Trivial No effect
Minor +1 (or –1)
Significant +2 (or –2)
Major +3 (or –3)
Legendary +4 (or –4)
Mythical +6 (or -6)
Grandiose +10 (or -10)
Impossible +50 (or -50)
* An Alteration Miracle improves (or inhibits) some already existing ability. Thus, the power you need to achieve a particular result depends upon the starting material. For example, say you want to turn somebody into a particularly dangerous warrior — one who rolls d10s in combat. If you used a Miracle to enhance a veteran in this way (who normally rolls d8s in combat), you’d need only minor Miracle (because a change from a d8 to a d10 is one step). Turning a feeble old man (who normally has a simply value of 1 in combat) into a similar warrior requires a legendary Miracle (because increasing a value of 1 to a d10 is an increase of four steps: d4, d6, d8, d10).

Note that an alteration must be at least minor to have any significant impact on a conflict.

The maximum bonus or penalty for any die roll is one-half the maximum number on that die. So, a d6 can have a maximum bonus of +3 (and a maximum penalty of –3). A d10 can have a maximum bonus of +5.

Type of Nimbus Basic Cost* Upkeep Die Used
Trivial 2 1 d4
Minor 3 1 d6
Significant 4 2 d8
Major 5 2 d10
Legendary 6 3 d12
Mythical 10 5 d20
Grandiose 15 8 d30
Impossible 50 25 d100
Type of Disguise/ Scrying Miracle Basic Cost Upkeep* Die Used
Trivial 1 0 d4
Minor 2 1 d6
Significant 3 1 d8
Major 4 2 d10
Legendary 5 2 d12
Mythical 8 4 d20
Grandiose 12 6 d30
Impossible 36 18 d100
Type of Amplification or Diminishment Basic Cost Upkeep* Bonus Given
Trivial 1 0 +/-1
Minor 2 1 +/-2
Significant 3 1 +/-3
Major 4 2 +/-4
Legendary 5 2 +/-5
Mythical 6 3 +/-6
Grandiose 10 5 +/-10
Impossible 50 25 +/-50

Introduction

Gathered in the following text are my conclusions concerning the laws and attributes of legendary Artifacts. Many references to the stone tablets of the gnome Kaaran, a chief warden and priest of Orsa, entitled Defining the Raw Power of the Gods, are included in this chapter. Another scholar mentioned here is Twilla’dii, an Undine priestess of Celudynn, who was killed shortly after the completion of her clay tablets entitled Paths to Glory: How the Weapons of the Gods Function. Many years of study went into the project with much research and some first-hand field experience (which I doubt I would ever do again).

Laws of Legendary Artifacts

            Much like the gods who created them, legendary Artifacts have laws that govern them and their use. These laws define the boundaries of these powerful weapons. Pay close attention to these sets of laws. One day you may create your own Legendary Artifact that will have a spirit of its own.

Each Legendary Artifact must:

  • Have one myth, story, or legend attributed to it. Every Artifact in existence is not known or will ever be known. Only the most influential and world-shaking Artifacts are made into legends. When an Artifact is used among the mortal masses, they will realize its power. Legends will grow and so will the Belief in the power of the Artifact if it is used again. Some stories pass on in time and wither. But legends remain throughout the ages.
  • Have a legend known throughout at least one territory. It is not enough for an inner tribal circle of elders to know the power of a Legendary Artifact. Everyone, from the hunters who travel many days away from home to the small children who play in the village, must know the story. Often visitors who come to this territory will be told of the many stories in the land. Myths surrounding the Legendary Artifacts strengthened it. Traveling merchants and wandering sages speak these myths to the masses ensuring the Artifact’s power.
  • Have survived at least one generation of believers. The stories of each Legendary Artifact must pass from father to son, mother to daughter into the next generation of people. This timely passing of myths is essential to the power of the revered Artifact; from one generation who merely acknowledged the power of this item, to another who enshrines the legend as a potent force to be reckoned with.
  • Have affected more than one tribe. As the story of the relic is passed on, those affected by its power are also mentioned. Each tribe will therefore have their own version of the item, whether good or bad. One tribe might revere the Legendary Artifact as an item that saved their tribe from horrible conquest, while their warlike neighbors will demonize the relic, using its name for a curse. Legendary Artifacts gain Belief even in a negative context.
  • Be subject to the will of the owner, be they god or mortal. Even the mightiest of weapons have an owner to activate its latent power. Some Legendary Artifacts are without a master (see below) and can still function. There are some miraculous relics that have a strong spirit within not willing to settle on a single master. Legendary Artifacts are not heroes and cannot choose their own fate if there is a master. But it may bend the rules of master and servant to favor the Legendary Artifact’s own purposes.

Attributes Associated with Legendary Artifacts

Unique attributes are directly associated with Legendary Artifacts.

  • Legendary Artifacts are possessed by a semi-sentient spirit that can influence mortals and even gods. Once a lifeless object of power gains Belief, it takes on a semi-life of its own. This phenomenon is chronicled in the tablets of Twilla’di; Undine Artifacts have influenced mortals and even the legendary god, Plthunlos, to acts of strange behavior. Kaaran mentions this twice in his text concerning the Gnome Gods as well. It is said Gnorr would have never split the world asunder if it was not for the damming influence of his mighty weapon, World Splitter. (Note: Gods who have created this artifact will know if a miracle is trying to affect the artifact much like a worshipper.)
  • Legendary Artifacts need no god to cast Miracles. Normal Artifacts require upkeep from their patron gods. Legendary Artifacts generate their own Belief and control their own fate. Much like gods gain power from acts or deed (See Appendix A: The Celestial Gardens / Additional Ways for a God to Gain Belief), Legendary Artifacts gain power through the tales spread about them.
  • Legendary Artifacts may gain and lose Belief much like a god. Often Legendary Artifacts share the same followers as the god who owns the item. They will have Belief scores but they cannot gain as much Belief. As a semi-sentient object it only gains one Belief for every ten followers.
  • Legendary Artifacts that have no master may gain a following of their own. They still generate a smaller amount of faith, but may have temples and shrines (See Appendix A: The Celestial Gardens Additional Ways for a God to Gain Belief). A few Artifacts even generate their own Miracles (with guidance from a mortal).
  • The object may lose Belief due to use of its Miracles. If the object is defeated in battle in front of its followers it will lose faith. It will not lose faith due to negligence of its followers. A Legendary Artifact does not have to take care of its followers unlike gods.
  • Legendary Artifacts may survive even after its believers have died. Unlike gods who have spirits that can be crushed, Legendary Artifacts cannot die unless they are broken by a god. Even if the Artifact is broken another god may put the Artifact together and it will be whole. In this respect Legendary Artifacts hold a unique ability to live for ages even with no followers. Hidden legends buried in unknown tombs can reawaken the lost item.
  • Legendary Artifacts cannot travel by themselves. Gods may travel freely through the Spirit Realm and the Known World. Legendary Artifacts are very limited and must be carried. Except for a couple of items mentioned in Kaaran’s work, which actually have the power of flight, Artifacts are objects that depend on masters to carry them around be they mortal, spirit, or god.
  • Legendary Artifacts may be held by spirits. Once an object reached legendary status, it holds a power that transcends the mortal realm into the spirit world. Spirits, Demons, and Wraiths may pick up these sacred relics and use them, much like a mortal or god would. This is a frightening notion as The Path to Glory has recorded several instances where demons have reached godhood through the use of a Legendary Artifact (some are recorded here).

Possessing an Artifact

To possess a Legendary Artifact is to command immense power, giving the user many abilities and a reservoir of Belief. If a god creates an Artifact, and it reaches legendary status, it will stay under the god’s control unless the god’s status is diminished to a spirit or if the god is bound. Spirits may hold on to legendary Artifacts, but it can be taken away from a spirit. A bound spirit is limited and cannot wield an If a god or a spirit notices an Artifact unbound or in the possession of a spirit, demon, or wraith, it may use Miracles to possess the Artifact. Even so, the god must make a spirit vs. spirit roll on the spot to hold the weapon, or else the Artifact will reject it and remain in place.

On occasion, powerful Legendary Artifacts may “lend” themselves to others for temporary use, without the owner’s consent. This has happened in the War of the Elements, when World-Splitter was taken from Gnorr while he was distracted and used to make a deadly blow against Lugos. It is said the mighty weapon Gorr’thu allowed this as its owner never touched it after the War of Invaders, leaving it in the Known World.

Breaking a Legendary Artifact

This daunting task is possible, according to Kaaran’s book. Only a Miracle may break the weapon, as the Artifact is too powerful for a mortal or spirit alone to break. The task is an opposing Miracle to Body of the Legendary Artifact roll. If the Artifact fails, it may use a mending Miracle to keep itself intact, but it will lose Belief. Mending Miracles cost six Belief as it is used to alter its broken form to whole. Some Legendary Artifacts have a Nimbus surrounding it.

Describing Artifacts

            Note: any source used besides the author’s own knowledge is listed with the Artifact.

  • Name of the Artifact: Names are very important as they enable a god to locate the Artifact and possess it.
  • Full Description of the Artifact: This includes its physical description and its Body and Spirit Scores. Legendary Artifacts have no true mental score, which is therefore not listed. Body score is how much it can resist damage to its mass before breaking. Spirit score is for opposing rolls to spirits and gods who try and possess it. Some Artifacts have Nimbuses and are well guarded.
  • Description of each Miracle the Artifact may cast: Each Miracle cast by the Artifact costs Belief. Even if the Artifact cast its Miracles in the Celestial Gardens or in its god’s celestial home, it costs full Belief. Artifacts have no discounts to casting Miracles.

Miracles vary from Artifact to Artifact. Legendary Artifacts do not have domains or inclinations, which make the Miracles cost more. So, the types of Miracles given by a god to an Artifact can vary widely. It can have Miracles of Creation, Destruction, Transformation, and Control in four different domains.

  • Belief/ Celestial Gardens points stored: Some Artifacts use Terror points exclusively. Artifacts which use Terror Points cause fear only. It may use Terror points to cast the Mending Miracle and activate Nimbuses. Terror is generated much like the Leviathans in Chapter 5 New Gods of Mankind New Gods Handbook page 93–95. Belief is generated from several sources: A Gods’ Upkeep (who owns it), their own myths and legends (they earn one Belief per season per true myth as in the Celestial Garden’s Appendix), and their followers.
  • Myths/ Legends surrounding the Artifact: Since a Legendary Artifact has myths or legends, it may earn Belief from them. Listed here are the tales surrounding them.

Dark Ambient Music for Writing or Gaming

Inspiration is one of those elusive sensations which we all seek to find. When it hits us, our brains light up like a Christmas tree. Our bodies grin. Our souls feel nourished. I wrote an article about finding inspiration here.  Music remains a critical key to reaching this state of mental acuity. I highly recommend Cryo Chamber and the artists on their page. You can find a sample of all artists on the main page here.

Cryo Chamber

Three of my favorites below

GD

Gnosis Dei by Metatron Omega

Feelings of a dark church deep in the woods of a Gothic countryside evokes a sense of awe and horror. The murmurs of ancient priests intoning some archaic rite blends with rumbling skies. A dark electronic background music brings it all together.

 

Onyx

Onyx by Apocryphos, Kammarheit and Atrium Carceri

Think of the final scene in Bladerunner as the android talks to Decker about his life experiences.

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. [laughs] Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like [coughs] tears in rain. Time to die.”

If you could capture the dark future feel, this album would be it.

ss

Signals 1-3 by Sabled Sun

Soaring across a celestial landscape just got easier. If you brought forth the feeling of sheer wonder in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 a Space Odyssey this is close to it. Highly recommended for Sci-Fi games like Dark Heresy or Traveller.

 

 

4 Reasons You Should Watch The Shannara Chronicles

 

I just finished watching Episode 9 of the Shannara Chronicles on the MTV website. Yes I am over 40 and despite the network I find this fantasy TV series to be THE BEST on television right now. Everything from casting choices, writers, costumes and excellent story development delivers.

I want to hate on the show, but in all honestly I cannot even begin to dislike anything accomplished here. The show does differ from the books, but in a good way! This is a great retelling of a classic story. I will explain in detail below.

For those of you not familiar with Terry Brooks, you need to go and buy all the Shannara Chronicles books. Currently this season covers the Elfstones of Shannara. From what I hear Terry is happy with the TV adaptation.

Pick up the book here.

Original Cover  I read in High School here.

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Season preview below

Now with that out of the way I will tell you the four reasons why you should be watching this show.

Excellent Casting Choices

I believe the casting is top notch. Every character is believable in their role. Some people might call them too pretty. I do believe their genuine enthusiasm for the project shines through in their roles. Plus some top notch talent is on board to carry this fantasy epic to another level in John Rhys-Davies as the Elf King. For me personally my two favorites are Manu Bennett as Allanon and  Ivana Baquero as Eretria. You can find the complete cast here.

FYI Ivana played the main lead in Pan’s Labyrinth. She grew up to be an incredibly beautiful woman.

” I leave you alone for a couple of hours and look what happens. You completely fall apart.”Eretria-aka-ivana-baquero.jpg

Miles Millar and Alfred Gough

I am not sure what else needs to be said about these two. If you liked Smallville then you might like this show as well. These guys know what they are doing. This writing team is an excellent choice by MTV. The sexual tension and drama between the main leads comes off well. You can see Smallville in the writing.

Top Notch Costumes and Special Effects

If you just like shiny and bright things, then you need to see this show. Everything from the demons to the Elven capital, Arborlon recreated perfectly. The make up effects on the Gnomes worked well. Even the ears on the elves looked real. Some pictures below for your eye candy.

    1. the-shannara-chronicles.jpg
    2. slanter_gnome_03_by_sallow-d9n28mp
    3. Shannara_Ep105-7856-1440426172

Incredible Character Development

This is something I would be vocal about. As a writer myself, not to see the characters develop over the season would turn me off. As of now I want to see more seasons. Finish this book and extend it more if you need to. Add some chapters and drag it out a bit, just like Smallville. This show going off the air might make me sad.

I will enjoy watching the season final next week. Full review coming possibly next week. I have seen some of the negative comments about this show. But I went in with a clear mind and decided to enjoy myself for once. Currently this show ranks as one I can watch again and again like Lost or Battlestar Galatica. MTV, do not slip and let this show go downhill. It has too much potential to be great.

New Gods of Mankind Spirit World Part 3 The Celestial Spheres

The Celestial Spheres: Celestial Gardens

      All spirits pass through the Celestial Gardens, which are just beyond the Veil of Dreams. Here in the seven gardens of emotion, Fate rules supreme.

NGOMcover_JS_F.jpg

Upon death, every spirit from the Known World travels to one of the seven gardens: the Courtyard of Fate; the Orchard of Knowledge, Reason, and Madness; The Floral Garden of Vigilance, Paranoia, and Sloth; The Fungal Garden of Charity, Gluttony, and Greed; the Herbal Garden of Fate, Revenge, and Trust; the Tropical Gardens of Lust, Adoration, and Revulsion; or the Frost Gardens of Joy, Pain and Sorrow. To which garden a soul travels depends upon its actions and feelings in life. Some spirits simply pass through these gardens on their way elsewhere, while some linger.

Fate wanders the seven gardens on occasion, sending souls to their proper destinations. Fate’s minions, the Grapplers, also gather souls and bring them to the Courtyard of Fate for judgment. Gods may wander the gardens as well.

      These gardens are very familiar to me. I have experienced each and every one.

 

The Courtyard of Fate

 

      The Courtyard of Fate is a solemn place, filled with muted sounds and slow, graceful actions. Rounded rectangular stones in gray tones line the walkways, which lead in a circular maze to the main courtyard. Flowers, trees, birds, and other small animals fill the landscape under a sunset sky. Here Fate resides in a golden chair at the center of a mottled gray pavilion. Benches made of stone and marble are evenly distributed around the courtyard. The gathered souls wait on these benches and upon the grounds, along with the gods who meet here. The Courtyard Garden is the center of all activity in the Celestial Spheres.

Often the spirits of the young who never reached maturity come directly to the Courtyard of Fate.

The Orchard of Knowledge, Reason, and Madness

 

The orchard is a place of entry into the Celestial Realms for those who, in life, possessed astute reasoning skills or much knowledge. Each fruit in this garden is filled with wisdom and knowledge of different kinds. Tales say that the gods come here to think and plan, eating fruit from these trees. Souls that acquired much knowledge in life come to the orchard in death. They may remain for a time, losing their hard-won secrets to the trees and plants of this garden. Eventually these spirits move on to the Courtyard of Fate.

On rare occasions, gods come to the orchard to take souls to their realm to serve in their heavens or hells. Many sylph souls come here before going to the Well of Souls, if they did not serve their god fully. The orchard is the Orchard of Madness as well as of knowledge and reason, for those who are on the brink of genius easily slide into dementia and other forms of mental derangement.

The Floral Garden of Vigilance, Paranoia, and Sloth

 

      In the Floral Gardens, heightened or deprived states of awareness are prevalent; the paranoid soul and the lethargic spirit walk hand-in-hand here. The flowers reflect the moods of the spirits and affect everything, including gods. For a change in mind, gods simply walk here to refresh themselves among the enchanted petals and trumpets.

The Fungal Garden of Charity, Gluttony, and Greed

 

      Spirits whose lives revolve around giving and taking come to the Fungal Garden. Ambitious, greedy, and gluttonous spirits walk here, taking advantage of charitable spirits. These spirits exchange ghostly objects, and the echoes of money clink in the mushroom alleyways. Moss-covered tents form a market area that spans the whole garden, housing money lenders and charitable souls. It is a darkly-lit parade of fools in a bartering merry–go-round that never ends, interrupted only by the occasional god, Grappler, or Fate.

The Herbal Garden of Hate, Revenge, and Trust

 

      Hate-filled souls wander through the Herbal Garden’s intoxicating scents. Here spirits who have life-long devotions and feelings of mistrust skulk in shadows, filled with hatred and loathing. Those who have been wrongfully murdered, if they do not stay in the Known World, sometimes come here to seethe in anger. Also in this garden are trusting souls, willing to take anyone’s advice and trusting every word. These spirits are gullible and make for great servants of gods. Deities frequent this garden, avoiding the hateful and picking out the most faithful souls as companions.

The Tropical Garden of Adoration, Lust, and Revulsion

 

      In the Tropical Garden, all sorts of physical urges are fulfilled. Passionate people, romantics, and others who adored or lusted after a person, thing, or idea come here to fulfill their dreams before moving on to the Well of Souls. Even the gods may be found cavorting in this Celestial Eden with other spirits. Those who have found true love in objects or people here to relive their commitments. Also here are souls sick to their cores filled with revulsion, living out their nightmares in what could be a paradise.

The Frost Gardens of Joy, Pain, and Sorrow

 

       Snow-covered pine trees shelter the holly bushes and evergreen bushes in the Frost Gardens. Spirits who wander here create deafening noises, some filled with pain, others with sorrow, and a few with joy at being released from live of misery. Many nymph souls make their way here to sing with the other ghosts. The spiritual noises resonate throughout the garden to create a symphony of sorrow and joy.

      May you the reader find your path through the Celestial Gardens.

 

The Celestial Spheres: The Four Seasons of Heaven

 

      Past the Celestial Gardens are four spheres circling the Known World: the Four Seasons of Heaven. Only the gods and their chosen souls know of the Celestial Spheres. No mortal being has ever set foot into these realms. Mortals cannot look up to the heavens and see the Spheres; they exist in a different space and time, and only a spirit may travel to them. The four seasons stretch through eternity, representing each of life’s cycles on the mortal world: birth, maturity, decay, and death. The Celestial Spheres are places of wondrous magic and awe. Here the gods rule supreme—apart from Fate.

      Each season has a name and unique aspects. Everwinter is the home of snow-capped valleys, large glacial rivers, destruction, and death. Eternal Spring is a meadow pasture dotted with evergreen forests, with birth and the powers of creation magnified. Endless Summer has rolling plains and sunny hills and holds powers of maturity and control. Perpetual Autumn is filled with colorful forests, winding rivers, and the powers of decay and transformation.

      The creations of the elder gods inundate these seasons. Nearly all the elder gods have realms that span all Four Celestial Spheres. The undine gods hold sway in the eternal ocean known as Ansyllar, with Celundynn controlling the shallow waters while her estranged husband Plthunlos holds fast to the deep. The endless deserts of Jaa-naareth are home to the nine dragon gods of the salamanders, each fighting in heaven as they do on earth: for land and recreation. Rhok-Etheril is the heavenly mountain range of the gnome god, Gnorr, and his fellow gods. The sylphs, once a thriving race, are now diminished, and so is their deity’s territory. Lugos’s realm, Arablis, is found only in the Celestial Sphere of Perpetual Autumn.

Everwinter

      Everwinter is a heavenly sphere filled with unearthly sights and sounds reminiscent of the coldest season in the mortal year. Gods who make their homes in this realm have a harsh environment to control—an environment filled with frozen lakes, snow-covered hills, and icy forests. Few spirits roam these heavenly lands, as only god-chosen spirits can enter. Massive earthquakes occur often. Volcanoes erupt along the enormous white-capped mountain area of Rhok-Etheril. Snow blankets the desert regions of Jaa-naareth here, making for an endless plain of white. Ice fills the ocean waters of the eternal seas of Ansyllar.

Every elder god aside from Lugos has a domain in Everwinter. Thuun, Lord of Destruction and the Jurelian giants, has a large castle made of ice that stretches far into the sky. It is close to the Celestial Gardens. Other domains close to the Gardens are versions of heaven similar to Thunn’s Castle. Most godly homes are made of ice in various forms. Some gods of abstract concepts live in the blizzard storms far from the Gardens, near the Abyss.

Eternal Spring

     

      New life perpetually comes forth from the ground here. In Eternal Spring, gods create many beasts and beings to the whim of fancies. However, only the gods have any true substance; the only other creatures that can exist in Eternal Spring are those that came into being here.

Rhok-Etheril has a small presence in Eternal Spring, with small mountain peaks and shallow green valleys. Jaa-naareth also has a small desert patch here, with a few rocky hills teeming with life and blooming desert flowers. The heavenly seas are bountiful, with many beaches and reefs.

      The sunny estates of Eternal Spring hold many idyllic homes for the gods both near and far from the Celestial Gardens. Close to the Gardens, many gods have hillside abodes made of complex organic shapes with strange creatures floating to and fro. Further from the Gardens, most gods live in simple organic elements such as trees or large fields of grass.

A forest section near the Gardens is home to the dead spirits of the wood nymphs. Since no gods dwell here except for themselves, the wood nymphs hold the place by sheer numbers of spirits. This woodland is the wood nymphs’ final home. Since wood nymph birth rates are low, their spirits do not crowd the heavenly forest. Fate asks some of the oldest spirits to return to the Well of Souls, but does so only if such a return is absolutely necessary. Only Fate knows the precise number of wood nymph spirits that may remain in this spiritual home. Wood nymph spirits that do not make it here are often left in the material world, lost to their kind.

Endless Summer

      Sunlit fields filled with thriving beasts and mature trees cover the landscape of Endless Summer. Everything created here is full of life, wild and ready to be tamed. Gods of Endless Summer usually control the creatures and force them to carry out their will, rather than create new servants.

A huge section of this Celestial Sphere is filled with the desert region of Jaa-naareth, home to the dragon gods. Celundynn and Plthunlos even share their waters of Ansyllar with the dragon goddess Draax; her domain within the ocean appears in boiling waters, heat vents, and lava-covered volcanic islands. The mountains of Rhok-Etheril cross the mountains of the desert region of Jaa-naareth. Even here in the heavens the elder gods are at war, for the dragon gods stage mock battles at regular intervals in honor of their mortals’ struggles on the Known World.

      The gods’ territories in Endless Summer are made of stone and earth. Close to the Gardens, gods make large cities and towers that reach the sky. The dragon gods have many such towers, which they make exclusively to fit their large bulks. Near the outskirts of the Celestial Sphere are ethereal structures made of sounds and light.

Perpetual Autumn

      Perpetual Autumn hosts a landscape of colorful, decaying trees, ripe fields ready for harvest, and large funguses growing on mountainsides. In this realm of decay, gods prefer to transform the lands around them, making for a certain geographical discord: A grove of spring flowers may appear in the midst of a forest of ripe grain. Each place here is unique, as every god has her handprint in this sphere’s scheme.

A deep part of the heavenly ocean of Ansyllar is here, where Plthunlos is stronger than Celundynn. Only a small patch of the desert region of Jaa-naareth runs through this sphere. The gnome kingdom of Rhok-Etheril in Perpetual Autumn is a large tract of mountains covered with deciduous forests. Intersecting this realm are the sylph mountains of Arablis, where the sylph god Lugos holds court. The mountains of Arablis are composed entirely of paper and scrolls; myths say that every bit of knowledge in the Known World is recorded here, on the mountainsides and valleys.

      In this Celestial Sphere of decay, gods have wild and fanciful homes made from every conceivable material. As with the other Celestial Spheres, gods close to the Celestial Gardens have homes made of substance, while territories far from the Gardens are made from strange concepts and unearthly ideas.

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      The lands of the Celestial Spheres resonate through each and every living being, for they are home.

Future of Human Endeavors Part 2 Exploring Space

Currently NASA is working on a great idea. Exploring Mars by drones.

More from the article below.

Autonomous quadcopters — the four-propeller flying craft commonly called drones— are fast, flexible, use little power and can get into (and out of) tight spaces. But they work only with an atmosphere to propel through. Now, the Swamp Works team at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is developing a dronelike robot that works in dark, low- or no-atmosphere environments, and can recharge itself by returning to its lander mothership.

“This is a prospecting robot,” Rob Mueller, senior technologist for advanced projects at Swamp Works, said in a statement. “The first step in being able to use resources on Mars or an asteroid is to find out where the resources are. They are most likely in hard-to-access areas where there is permanent shadow. Some of the crater walls are angled 30 degrees or more, and that’s far too steep for a traditional rover to navigate or climb.” [Watch: NASA’s Tiny Helicopter Drone for Mars]

Let us expand on this idea. I would like to propose to you, reader a simplistic idea for exploring our solar system. This idea would involve the majority of humanity instead of a select few. An idea using existing technology with just a few minor tweaks. Four major technology advancement combined with the ambition and drive of humanity into one great endeavor.

I would hope  if someone ripped this idea off. In fact if they would just reference this blog I would be happy. But you can only go so far without the right leadership, funding and talent.

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So here goes.

Morning comes, shining bright into your bedroom. You roll over, kiss your soul mate and head for the living room. Another day at the office.

You sit down at a desk next to the living room couch. A large display kicks on. “Welcome, Captain.” The monitor chimes at you. Your computer connects to Sol-Net, a network of satellites, terminals and relays talking to each other. This network stretches across the whole solar system. Every moon, planet and major asteroid is now connected. 

“What happened in the last 24 hours?”

“Your 241st drone found a major platinum deposit on Titan with a probe. Shall I set up an expedition?”

“Yes, move replicator T-67 to orbit. Then create 6 mining drones for deployment.”

“Will this be all?” Your artificial intelligence, named Hal, asks.

“No. I want a VR tour of the site to make sure the replicator will create enough drones to mine the deposit on time.  No need for another company to enter this site and take it.”

A moment passes. You check up on Facebook statuses of the family. Everything seems normal. A cat blog comes across your line of site. You entertain yourself for several moments.

Hal speaks to you, “Your VR session is ready.”

You grab your headset, and enter into a VR world. The icy surface of titan looms around you. The sun, just a small speck in the sky. A small island jutting out of the ice is where you find yourself. You see the readings on the right of your headset. You carefully walk across the small island, looking at angles and distances. With the data and VR walk, you gather data and come to a decision.

“Send T-45 and I want 10 total mining drones ready in 30 days.”

“Right away.”

The computer shuts off. You check all the systems and do comparisons and analysis throughout the day. By 3 in the afternoon you finish up work and pick up the kids.

Sounds fantastical right? It could happen within the next ten years. If we could find governments and financial backers willing to listen.

We must combine drone technology with virtual reality.  Then add 3D printing techniques and modern satellite communications into a movement for the stars.

I say this as a person who understands human motivation and the problems our world faces. We have over 7 billion people on this planet. Right now we do not have the technology to get off of this rock safely. But we can extend our technology beyond this planet. We can reach for the stars right now. In a different, safer way.

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Humans have a need to explore. This ideas cuts right to the heart of what makes us human. Seeing the other side of the mountain has always been a need for our race. What better way to do this than piloting drones throughout the cosmos?

This idea is doable. I want to elaborate more but I would rather save the idea for someone willing to collaborate. So here is the bare bones presentation. More to come on this idea and others soon. I always have something up my sleeve.

 

 

Thia’s Top 10 Upcoming Games of 2016

Real Women of Gaming

Well, with the New Year, winter is also here. Thankfully, with it will be coming some new games to keep us entertained. Here are ten games, in no particular order, to get excited for in 2016!

1. One Night Ultimate Vampire by Bezier Games
vampire
Okay, so those of you who follow our Facebook know that I love tabletop games. You also will know that Werewolf is one of my absolute favorites. One Night Ultimate Vampire is similar, but with Vampires. Like with Werewolf this is a 3-10 player game where everyone gets a role and it only takes one vampire to win the game. Best part is that it is available now. Bring on the Vampires!

2. Firewatch
firewatch
Due to be released on February 9, 2016 for PC, Mac, Linux and PS4, Firewatch is going to be a first-person adventure. It has a few twists, including that it is decision-based…

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