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Paradise Park macaw - postcrossing

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An unexplained text message

This just happened:
I am sitting on the couch, reading a biography of Philip K. Dick (Emmanuel Carrere's I Am Alive And You Are Dead), when I hear one of the cell phones in my house ring. But the ring tone, a short piece of the song 'Fokofpolisiekar' by the band of the same name is one that I have not used for many years. Upon further investigation, I find that one of my old cell phones has just received a new text message.
However, this phone, a Motorola RAZR, has not been active for many years. The message is in Italian ("d mi laboratorio") and the number is also an Italian one. Perplexed, I try and make an outgoing call on the phone to see if it has somehow become reactivated. But no, it has not.
I'm at a loss to explain it.
Red Bear Inn (A - Z of Griffin Mountain)

One of the advantages of a staying at the Red Bear Inn when one frequents the citadel of Trilus is that one is very likely to get a decent room. Alas for the owner, that is not because the rooms are themselves of a much higher quality than those of the other inn in the citadel, the Stuck Pig, but because the Red Bear is not a very popular establishment. It's owner, Regus Whitehair, is a Lunar citizen and Etyries initiate and as such the subject of many scurrilous rumours spread by local Triloi. It's even said that he consorts with demons. (Though come to think of it, perhaps that ain't that unlikely.)

So if you are looking for a bit of quiet downtime to recuperate from your adventure wounds, perhaps this is the inn for you. Or perhaps you have developed a taste for Elkoi Beer and are looking for a reliable source. But if getting to know the locals and hearing all sorts of juicy rumours is more of a priority, then get ye to the Stuc…

Quarga Zar (A-Z of Griffin Mountain)

In April 2011, there was an "A-Z Challenge" among old school RPG (and other) bloggers. The idea was that every day of that month one would post an entry inspired by a letter of the alphabet, and in that manner cover all 26 letters in order.
I duly took part, resolving to focus on the fantastic old RuneQuest campaign setting Griffin Mountain, but only got up to P before my various character flaws (laziness, drunkenness, short attention span, etc) got the upper hand and thus on the 19th of the month I threw in the towel.
However, I regret nothing finished. Plus, the Griffin Mountain entries are among the most popular of my blog. (Though, admittedly, that ain't really saying much.) Thus will I begin again in a desultory fashion, and will gradually claw my way to Z.

However, the bugger about starting back up with Q is that Griffin Mountain as written does not have much for that letter. It is rather lacking in "Queens," for instance, though now that I think about it…

Praxenia (A-Z of Griffin Mountain)

King Skilfil Heartpiercer of Dykene keeps three concubines. The youngest of the three, Praxenia, was born a Lunar citizen. She can tell a convincing story of life's vicissitudes and how she ended up in Dykene, but in reality she is a Lunar plant. Unfortunately Skilfil has proven to be rather malleable in her hands, and her influence is beginning to grow in the royal court. Praxenia reports back to Marusa, the Priestess of Jalakeel the Witch in Elkoi (mentioned here).

Orlanthi (A-Z of Griffin Mountain)

The Windsword is a legendary magical weapon found somewhere in the depths of the Elder Wilds, probably within Griffin Mountain itself. And apart from any player characters that may decide to hunt for this wondrous weapon, there are a couple of Orlanthi groups searching the region for hints of its whereabouts.

The first of these is led by the Wind Lord Torath Manover, and consist of the following folks: Torath himself is an older (30) warrior who has been in Balazar for some time now. The local Balazarings like him well enough, and he has even participated in a few Great Hunts. Apart from searching for the Windsword, he is vehemently anti-Lunar, and may well lead an attack on the garrison at Ellkoi these days.
With him is Throggar Giant-Baiter, a young Barbarian and Orlanth Priest, Lyson of Swenson, a Sartarite townie, Eucleia Stormfollower, an illegitimate daughter of Skilfil Heartpiercer of Dykene, and Raveena, ex of Apple Lane in Sartar.

Leading the second Orlanth group is the young…

"No Pigs" Edict of Trilus (A-Z of Griffin Mountain)

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By far the majority of indigenous Balazarings are hunter-gatherers. However, there is a large minority who live in the citadels and earn their livelihood as pig herders. In Elkoi and Dykene, the pig herders live and rear their animals within the walls of the city, on the opposite end to the royal compounds.

In Trilus, however, it is a different story. King Yalaring Monsterslayer, the first of his dynasty, was a mere 21 years old when he seized the throne. He is a hunter through and through, indeed a winner of the Great Hunt before becoming King. And he is rather prejudiced against domesticated animals, and those who tend them. However, he does recognise the vital role that pigs play in the diet and economy of the citadel of Trilus, so rather than chuck them out altogether, he has banned them from the staying within the walls.

Thus it is that that the pig tenders of Trilus live with their animals in a flimsy stockade outside the citadel. Which may prove a bit of a bugger for them if th…

Maps (A-Z of Griffin Mountain)

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I find myself in the same position as I did around this time last week - tired, muscles aching after the gym, and still needing to do my bloody blog entry in this April A-Z thingy. So it's photo time again, this time one of the maps that come with the campaign book.







Lunar Pavilion at Elkoi (A-Z of Griffin Mountain)

Elkoi is the westernmost of the three Balazar citadels, and one on the furthest outposts of the Lunar Empire. It was only recently occupied by Lunar forces, and the inhabitants are not enamored with their new overlords. Nor is acculturation yet taking place to any large extent, although there is now a small amount of agriculture in the area around Elkoi. (Thus the advent of Elkoi Beer.)

Like the ancient Romans in our own world, the Lunars tolerate indigenous religions. Thus Elkoi is home to a temple of Yelmalio (which also has shrines to Found-Child and Balazar), and a Hero Shrine to Elkoi himself. But the Lunar state religion is also being introduced, and its focal point is a very large pavilion that is under construction just outside the northern walls of the citadel proper, and right next to garrison's barracks.

The interior will be sumptuous when it is finished, quite unlike anything else found in Balazar. There will be seven separate chapels, each dedicated to one of the Seve…

King's Inn (A - Z of Griffin Mountain)

There are no major characters, geographical locations, etc. in the Griffin Mountain campaign book that begin with K. So here are a few minor ones:

The King's Inn is the only boarding house in the city of Elkoi. It is a pleasingly homely place, though getting a cheap room is often difficult due to the overflow of Lunar troops billeted there. The grub to be had is bread and pork, and, of course, Elkoi Beer flows freely.
The owner is a chap by the name of Moraring Broom. He was a pig tender before getting a job at the inn, then had the good fortune of inheriting the whole business after the childless and alcoholic old owner broke his neck in a drunken fall. His pig tending ways behind him, Moraring now sports a paunch and much flashy clothing. He's a pleasant sort, though.

Turning to the citadel of Dykene, Karazar is the young son and heir to the throne of his father, Skilfil Heartpiercer. He's a bookish young lad of 10, more interested in learning than the arts of fighting a…

Joh Mith (A-Z of Griffin Mountain)

Sooner or later, every player will interact with Joh Mith. Good old Joh is an Issaries Rune Priest, based out of the citadel of Trilus. Most of the year, however, he is on the road with his wife Zix Porub, bodyguard Xigxag (a bloody big Troll), and the rest of his caravan. His trade route ranges from Elkoi in the East, to Dragon Pass, to the Eleven Big Giant Mountains in the Elder Wilds, and most places in-between. As long as you are prepared to pay elevated prices, one can get goods that are otherwise very hard to find within the boundaries of backward Balazar. (Like metal weapons and armor, for instance.) And for beginning players, being a guard with Joh Mith's caravan can provide a valuable source of income and experience.

Joh and his aforementioned wife Zix Porub (an Issaries Rune Lord herself) are an interesting study in contrasts. Whereas he is round and jovial, she is tall, thin, and taciturn. Though Joh himself ain't nothin' to fuck with, he usually leaves any figh…

Inoi Sessela (A-Z of Griffin Mountain)

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As far as non-human races go, Elves, Dwarves, Giants, Broos, and the like are quite plentiful in this campaign pack. But just as there is only one named Duck that can be found in all of Balazar and the Elder Wilds, there is only one party of Dragonewts that players are likely to encounter.
Not that the Dragonewts actually reside in the area - they are traveling through the area on a quite specific errand. Their leader, Inoi Sessela, was recently killed by a human adventurer who flayed him and and made armor out of the skin. Inoi has since been reborn (see the Glorantha wiki for Dragonewt rebirth) and is seeking vengeance.
Nowhere in the book is it mentioned who the perpetrator may be, this being left to the referee's discretion. The interesting possibilities are legion (for example, one of the characters could be approached with a view to buying some "unique armor".)
If encountered, Inoi Sessela's band will be quite garrulous for  dragonewts, as they are seeking info…

Hen Cik (A - Z of Griffin Mountain)

Although few in number, Giants are among the most memorable of the various characters in the Griffin Mountain setting. They range from the kindly Bunscotto to the wise Boshbisil to the assholes Tiny Treekicker and Karl the Midget.
Boshbisil is the leader of a small group settlement deep in the Rockwood Mountains in the southeastern section of the Elder Wilds. This settlement is actually the one terminus of Joh Mith's regular trading route, though its location is known to few outside of his caravan. (Hopefully Joh will be the subject of Tuesday's "J" entry.) The permanent inhabitants include Boshbisil, fellow Giants Sa Mita and Hen Cik, the Trollkin Paneye and Glockmoor, Mr. Greatness the Morokanth, Slang the Bear, Hrill the Roc, and Scree the Bear.
Hen Cik, is a 6 meter tall giant, and not the brightest in the world. He moons over Sa Mita, following her around, who tolerates him patiently. Hen is the proud owner of a pair of massive stone dice. These dice, 2 m³, were…

Griffin Mountain - the book (A-Z of Griffin Mountain)

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Griffin Mountain
Originally uploaded by Alhazred
Friday night. Long week. Just got in after having a few beers. Missus is already in bed asleep. Desire for blogging non-existent. So here for G is a hastily taken copy of the Griffin Mountain book.

Firshala (A-Z of Griffin Mountain)

Griffin Mountain is a large campaign book - a full 202 pages in length. There is an amazing amount of stuff for the characters to see and do, from getting involved in the politics of the region, to adventuring and fighting chaos, to seeking out interesting characters for fun and profit.

Balazar is pretty well mapped out, but the Elder Wilds to the north has much open space, and it is up to the referee as to where various "points of interest" are located. One of these, making for an excellent mini-adventure, is the prison of the goddess Firshala.

Firshala is a fire spirit that was imprisoned during the conflicts of the God Wars, and is now forgotten among the creatures of Glorantha. It happens that her prison is actually located somewhere in the Elder Wilds. Adventurers traveling through the region may chance upon a small earthen mound, upon which are two four meter plinths that are made of a bluish, waxy stone. It would be easy enough merely to pass these by (perhaps hurryin…

Elkoi Beer (A-Z of Griffin Mountain)

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Yesterday's entry introduced the three citadels of Balazar, and focused on one of them: Dykene. It may be expected that today's entry would center on Elkoi, but alas, time is lacking. Instead, I'll mention one of Elkoi's stranger products: Elkoi Beer.

Elkoi Beer tastes quite watery, but has a bit of an unpleasant kick for the unwary. Those used to it drink it like water (to which it is rather close), but those sampling it for the first time have to make a resistance roll as if it were poison of potency 6. Fail the throw and you loss 1D8 of strength for 1D4 hours, as you spend your time ralphing, clinging to the floor, groaning, and generally wishing that Orlanth had chosen this moment to call you home.

Elkoi beer is served in the King's Inn (pictured below with proprietor Moraring Broom in the background) and in private hovels throughout the citadel. In addition, it is also served in the Stabbing Cat Lodging House and Tavern in Dykene, and Trilus' Stuck Pig Tav…

Dykene (A - Z of Griffin Mountain)

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The region now known as Balazar was named after a hero of the same name that settled the land during the Second Age, in the year 1082 of the Gloranthan calendar. Balazar had three sons: Trilus, Elkoi, and one daugher: Dykene. Today three citadels in this region bear the names of Balazar's children; Dykene is the easternmost of the three.
Dykene is presently ruled by the 40 year old King Skilfil Heartpiercer. Though settled now with his young son and his three concubines, in his youth Skilfil wandered the length and breadth of Balazar and the surrounding terrains. In the Greatway Mountains to the south he made lifelong contacts among the dwarves, and laid the ground for an economic relationship which exists today. Dykenian hunters travel south to the dwarven mountains to hunt wild game meat for them, and return to their citadel with bronze weaponry. Visiting dwarves can also be found at times within Dykene itself.
An old buddy of Skilfil's, Ostakker Three-Scar, owns the Stabbing …

Cults (A - Z of Griffin Mountain)

The region of Balazar, in which most of the action of the Griffin Mountain campaign pack for RuneQuest takes place, is now home to a wide range of cults, and their interaction is one of the most interesting parts of any campaign. The native cults of the indigenous hunters now exist alongside lightbringer and other deities from Sartar, and invading Lunar deities from the west.

The most prominent cult among the native Balazarings, introduced in this campaign module for the first time, is Found-Child the Hunter. The only requirement for lay membership is that one subsists at least in part on hunting. Thus most Balazarings, with the exception of townfolk, are members. Further advancement is largely dependent on a hunter's performance in the Great Hunt which takes place annually.

Allied to the Found-Child cult is his Hearth-Mother, similar to Eiritha, and Brother Dog, described in the previous post. Further, there are various hero cults: Balazar (after whom the land is named) and his c…

Bunscotto the Kind Giant (A - Z of Griffin Mountain)

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Giants are among the most memorable of the characters that one can meet in the RuneQuest Griffin Mountain campaign setting. My favourite is perhaps Hen Cik, the young gambler, but here I'll mention Bunscotto the Kind Giant.
For the most part, Giants are only found in the Elder Wilds, rather than the more civilised (relatively speaking) Balazar a little further to the south. Unlike many of the other Giants, Bunscotto is always friendly to any player character that is lucky enough to come across her. Indeed, Bunscotto is uniformly good-natured: whether they be gentle Chalana Arroy cultists or the vilest of chaos cultists, she treats all non-Giants like they were all cute little kids to be pampered.
In my last campaign, Bunscotto gave the party a good meal and a sanctuary for the night, and even taught one of them the Healing 6 spell for future use.

Of course B is also for Balazar, which is both the name of the geographical region in which most of the Griffin Mountain action takes pl…

Allosauri (A-Z of Griffin Mountain)

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On one of the Old School RPG blogs that I read I came across an intriguing concept: on each of  the 26 non-Sundays of April, one posts every day, going up the alphabet to find subject matter. So I may as well give it a go here. I understand that one can sign up somewhere and commit oneself to it, but I'm going to skip that. For a start, I'm not a very prolific blogger and will probably not fulfil any post a day commitment.

And secondly, the subject matter is not going to be one that is even remotely interesting for most people, so I would sooner that these posts be found by search than a link on whatever site it is at which one registers for this month long event. I am going to be writing exclusively about aspects of the old Griffin Mountain campaign setting for RuneQuest 2nd Edition. I have long thought that this campaign represents a high point of the RPG, and frequently reread it with pleasure.

And thus to my first post - a shorter one.

A is for Allosauri

Allosaurs are gian…

The Eggman

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The Eggman
Originally uploaded by Alhazred
Every day, I bring a carrot, a piece of chicken, and an egg for lunch. Hey, it's minimal effort and it hasn't become boring yet.

My workmates get much amusement from me bringing this same meal every day. One of them used his skills to concoct this, and put it on the wall outside my office.

Brief notes on 'Disciple of Dagon - a short study of Clark Ashton Smith'

I just finished reading Disciple of Dagon: Clark Ashton Smith and the Cthulhu Mythos by Frater Tenebrous XIII°, a.k.a. Peter Smith. This work, originally published in 1987 by Miskatonic University Press and limited to 123 copies, is now freely available on the internet.

After a brief introduction to Smith's early poetry, the work goes on to discuss those short stories that may be considered part of the larger Lovecraftian mythos. Although the discussion of each story is very brief, it provides those not familiar with Smith's 'Cthulhu Mythos' tales with a useful checklist for future reading.

Following an equally short description of Smith's weird sculpture, Tenebrous gets to the meat of the matter: a discussion of CAS from an occult perspective. It is here that I find what is perhaps the most interesting idea of the paper: why Smith cut back on his literary work after around 1934:

In the same way as an Occult lodge may be established in order to transmit a particular m…