Friday, January 24, 2014

Seaside ruins

[Y]our intrepid adventurers are wandering the coast, or paralleling it aboard a ship, looking for a place to spend the night. What better than an obviously delapidated, haunted, booby trapped, etc lighthouse and ruins. What lies beneath the weathered structure? Do ghost lights atop the tower lure unwittingly crews to a horrible death on the rocks?
There are so many possibilities for a location like this. Anyone have any ideas, maps, stories...?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Pull Your Head Out or The Point of Longevity

Let's say you're fairly new to gaming and/or you have not given much prior thought to what kind of weapon your medieval character might wield. Most folks would probably instinctively grab for a sword...or axe, or possibly even a warhammer. But what about a trusty ol' spear, or some other variation of a stick with a pointy end?

Before we take a stab at why polearms are (frankly) a better weapon, let's cover some basics.
1) The spear is just about the oldest known weapon in human history. It wasn't long after people figured out how to bludgeon each other with stones that someone smarter thought 'let's make it sharp'. And then an even deadlier genius had the idea to lash it to a long stick, adding to even more jabby-ness.
2) Have you seen 300? The phalanx is an incredibly effective formation dating back to antiquity. The basic idea is to form a near impenetrable wall of shields bristling with, you guessed it, spears!
3) The overall idea in combat is kill or be killed. The best way to not get killed is to be out of reach of your opponents weapon. So the simple math of 3 foot sword versus 8 foot spear = 1 dead swordsman.
4) The final point I will make is that swords were quite expensive and took a lot of training to wield effectively; whereas, Yorik the farmer could easily heft a pitchfork (or other long, stabby apparatus) because he was probably holding it anyway.

Now let's look at some options for what is on the business end of your long stick
For more about spears and fighting techniques for various polearms, including the often over-looked, military fork, check out It's a great resource for many things medieval.

For a long list of links to various weapons, might I recommend Wikipedia: Medieval Weapons.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Beginning Again

Months ago my buddy Jason King posted on Facebook that he's now scouting manuscripts for his publisher. Ever since then it has been weighing on my mind to start writing an actual story after years and years of primarily world building.

Many other things happened in the months that followed. My family grew by my first child. My wife suffered near fatal complications and spent most of a month in the hospital. Work continued its hectic pace. I took an ill-attempted shot at launching a website. Then the holidays and year's end were upon us. There was a lot to distract me from writing. 

When I could finally focus on telling a tale I didn't have a clear idea of who, what, where, when, how, and why. The building blocks of any writing!

I began outlining a chronological story set in one world...and fizzled. I fell into reviewing old notes, ideas, posts, etc. to get my mind in gear. This only served to overwhelm me and drive me into a lackluster funk of creating nothing at all. My subconscious churned and milled with self-loathing, criticism, and wondering if I ought to just scrap it all and grow up. Stop trying to make myself be a writer and focus on just being a father.

Then I found my imagination waking me up at 4:30 this morning with the introduction and first chapter practically writing themselves!

I've posted before about where to start (literally, which world to use as the setting) and which character(s) to focus on. After settling on where and who, it became of question of "when?" Do I tale the tell in the present, or a thousand years earlier?

After discussing it with other writer friends and thinking aloud what would make the best intro, I decided to begin at the beginning. With the creation of the world itself. The birth of, and battle between gods, that made the world what it is. Then the story jumps ages forward to the adventure of the main character, his life as it unfolds, which sets up the founding and fall of a kingdom. The blood of kings is spilled, yet lives on. An empire is founded from the devastation and ashes. Jump again. The empire is crumbling. There is barely a shadow of the grandeur that once gave purpose and pride to the people. The king of legend lies entombed under a mountain. Old threats rise again. New invaders darken the horizon. What happens next? Well, that's the bit where I keep writing and perhaps end this year with manuscript ready to submit.

I believe that my blog presence and posting will decrease significantly as I move onward and upward with other projects.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Lost and Found

Ancient Greeks, the founding and fall of Rome, the Egyptian empire, lost Atlantis. Cave paintings, Easter Island, Stone Henge, Chaco Canyon, Scara Brae. Ley lines, the Devil's Sea, the Bermuda Triangle. King Arthur, Odin Allfather, Mother Earth (Gaia). Aliens, unicorns, Big Foot. Gilgamesh, Marco Polo, Aragorn.
All of these things conjure stories and swirling mystery at the mention of but a few words. There are all kinds of legends and myths, tales of lost cultures. Relics, ruins, and artifacts litter the Earth with the drifting changes of human history. How many of them are truly the makings of mere humans? Will we ever really know?

What kind of ruins dot the landscape in your world(s)? What unsolved and unexplainable phenomena complicate your tales? What legends, myths, and folktales are on the lips around campfires?

These things don't have to be grounded in fact to be believed. Maybe various myths were collected by an old language professor and inspired him to weave his own story of ancient magic and fallen kingdoms. Perhaps his telling led to countless other worlds being crafted from countless others' imaginations. 

An old farmer breaks his plow on an enormous bone hidden under his unremarkable field. Upon digging he finds...what? A dragon skull, a long-dead giant, a whole graveyard of fallen titans?