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doc mcb11 Sep 2012 7:12 a.m. PST

I'm soliciting help/suggestions/critiques for a new campaign book based on the war between existence and nothingness.

I've just finished the first campaign book for PRIDE OF LIONS and sent it off to be laid out; it should be out this fall as pdf and printed. It is DARK AND BLOODY GROUND, a campaign in a borderland between the goblins etc. of Moonglade and the halfling settlers etc. from Wyldewood. Sort of Daniel Boone and the early settlers of Kentucky versus the savages.

What I'm undertaking now is the second half of the Wyldewood grand campaign: the sylvan elves versus the "Great Nothingness," the Vasty Vault, invading with legions of undead.

The tactical battles will be fairly standard tabletop encounters, such as a "meeting engagement" in which the VV undead emerge from below ground in the middle of the table, while the elves bring in militia and then regulars from all directions to throw them back. Should produce wild-and-wooly no-two-alike battles, if the undead arrive randomly (all from the center hole but random order and random number of units per turn) while the elves likewise come onto the table randomly (based on how far wherever they were is from the VV hole). Most of the table will be forest but there will be several "places" scattered about including a dryads' grove and perhaps an elven giant tree house, etc. These will give the undead specific objectives to destroy first.

What I am uncertain about – and seeking help on – is the game design question – and, again, the underlying cosmology – for HOW DO THE ELVES PLUG THE HOLE? Once they've defeated the undead on the table? And in the context of a campaign with multiple eruptions of the Vasty Vault?

I have rules for strategic magic, and VV will have a random die of magic points to expend, while the druids have a set amount. Once the undead horde is defeated, the druids can expend a point of strategic magic and "plug the hole" – or "reweave the fabric of the world" or whatever concept fits.

Why do the druids need to defeat the undead first?; why can't they just expend magic and plug the hole regardless? (Perhaps proximity matters; the druids CAN plug it from far away but it takes more of their scarce magic.) Or should there be some other game mechanism for plugging the hole?

doc mcb11 Sep 2012 7:17 a.m. PST

A note about cosmology and theology:

The wood elves take the world as a "given". Rather like the deists of the Enlightenment, they posit a "First Cause" which might be termed "god" but is not personal, not going to intervene in natural processes, not to be prayed to.

(But the world of Splintered Light has magic built into it, and the shamanic magic that druids and many others practice harnesses an immaterial natural force, a mana.)

So for the elves, the struggle with the Vasty Vault is life versus death or existence versus destruction. Or their Garden versus that which would destroy it.

The Godfearers worship a Creator who is SUPER-natural, and for them the struggle with VV would be Creation versus Nihilism. Close but not quite the same thing.

I do have a mechanism for introducing a Godfearer element into Wyldewood, the unicorns:

Here is their current write-up:

The elves do not know for certain what unicorns ARE, but they are NOT a natural animal species. They seem to exist partially on the spirit plane, as do elves, and they certainly have supernatural powers.

Among the many things that are not clear about them is their level of intelligence; it is at least very high animal – dolphin or chimpanzee level – but may be very much higher, perhaps fully sentient. This is difficult to assess because unicorns are so aloof, seeming entirely uninterested in many aspects of elvish life. They come and go as they will, providing invaluable aid on occasion, but cannot be included in any plans or projects. They are simply not answerable to the elves, yet seem to have their best interests very much at heart.

Among unicorns powers are immunity to all diseases and poisons, and ability to heal with a touch. Unicorns seem to be resistant to the Vasty Vault's blight; during both of the VV in-breakings, observers saw a lot of unicorn activity along the edges of the blight, and the Archdruid reasons that they perhaps aided somehow in containing it; he knows that it was not HIS power which accomplished that; indeed, the retreat of VV somewhat surprised him.

But I'm really not certain how to fit the unicorns in, both is cosmological terms and also in game terms.

OR, is it better, both in terms of world design and also in terms of the game (especially the strategic game, the campaign) to leave areas of mystery, things unexplained, of which the unicorns would be top on the list?

MajorB Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2012 7:32 a.m. PST

You what?

Greywing Inactive Member11 Sep 2012 8:02 a.m. PST

"But I'm really not certain how to fit the unicorns in, both is cosmological terms and also in game terms."

That's my favorite sentence.

OSchmidt Inactive Member11 Sep 2012 8:04 a.m. PST

The idea falls apart when it degenerates to a normal table top action. Once you have that the rest is merely rhetorical and not really in need of answering. You can make up whatever back-story you desire.

KatieL11 Sep 2012 8:04 a.m. PST

None of this stuff seems particularly mid-fantasy medieval.

Medieval people didn't spend very much time ranking animals in order of intelligence. Man was the only intelligent being, blessed so by God. If you start pondering if dolphins are smart (most people wouldn' t even know of them), then you were clearly questioning God's Scheme.

Yes, they're elves, but they still live in a world where a pile of neurons is a tasty snack and not to be wasted.

Unicorns don't need fitting into things -- unicorns *existed* to medieval people; same as the dog-faced men and mermaids and miracles and daemons. They don't need to have reasons, they can just BE.

One of the tricks with both sci-fi and fantasy writing is not to do much explaining, but make it appear that you did do it.

Neither, you, nor your players, actually need to know how the incursions of the damned get stopped. It is, after all, likely to be terrible, terrible thing… never spoken of by those castes involved. Once the initial breachers are defeated, they can safely approach. But the cost of the Bargain that they are required to make with the horror is a weight that they must carry alone…

This is a dark setting and much of it can remain in darkness. If you shine a light into the darkness, it isn't darkness anymore.

doc mcb11 Sep 2012 8:16 a.m. PST

Katie is no doubt correct. David has warned me about, e.g., comparing the halfling Bounders in DARK AND BLOODY GROUND to early Texas Rangers (that is, a militarized constabulary normally operating in company strength), saying that "as soon as I read that modern and this-world analogy I fall out of the "suspension of disbelief" that makes me feel at home in YOUR world."

I think it needs to make sense TO ME, though, to keep the world and the rules reasonably consistent and coherent, even if it isn't explained to the players.

And perhaps a campaign needs a gamemaster just like an rpg, who DOES know what's going on.

I recall Stafford writing that he deliberately kept the dragonnewts mysterious and unexplained for all sorts of creeative and also practical reasons.

doc mcb11 Sep 2012 8:22 a.m. PST

Otto, yes, as far as the tabletop action goes you are no doubt correct. And I assume that for most people that is the main thing, and for some it will be the ONLY thing. Though having a campaign context does heighten the pleasure of a battle, I believe.

But I am also interested in strategic gaming -- the old "boardgaming" -- within a big world. I've taken immense pleasure in that -- in Glorantha and Greyhawk and such (and NOT so much in Middle Earth which I find too restrictive, I guess because the stories are TOO powerful, precluding any new stories by ME). Creating the world and its conflicts is MY game, and of course I'd like to share with others who may be interested. I assume I'm not the only one who loves a "war of the world" game within a world-not-our-own.

doc mcb11 Sep 2012 8:23 a.m. PST

Okay, Jack, what IS a unicorn?

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2012 8:57 a.m. PST

I think your main hangup is requiring that your theology be logical and consistent.
What the inhabitants believe and what really happened do not necessarily have to be the same.

In other words, wing it.

Chef Lackey Rich Fezian Inactive Member11 Sep 2012 8:59 a.m. PST

Okay, Jack, what IS a unicorn?

A perverted goat with a birth defect?

doc mcb11 Sep 2012 9:12 a.m. PST

I think "perverted goat" may be redundant.

And John, yes, of course perception is its own reality. And I want to do a campaign system that doesn't HAVE to have a gamemaster. But I think the WORLD needs to be consistent and yes, logical, although beginning from a different set of givens than our own. And a GM does need to have a logical world system, even if it is mysterious to the players.

Chef Lackey Rich Fezian Inactive Member11 Sep 2012 9:19 a.m. PST

I think "perverted goat" may be redundant.

Unicorns only want virgins. By goat standards, that's perverted – anything with a hole in it normally qualifies as a potential bed partner.

Personal logo Punkrabbitt and Hatshepsuut Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2012 9:23 a.m. PST

Back to the original game question: the elves need to defeat the undead before closing the portal; as long as we still have the dead guys running around, they are still channeling from the other side of the portal. The portal can't be closed until the channeling stops.

doc mcb11 Sep 2012 9:23 a.m. PST

"Unicorns only want virgins."

"But I'm really not certain how to fit the unicorns in, both is cosmological terms and also in game terms."

It IS cosmological (or theological).

doc mcb11 Sep 2012 9:24 a.m. PST

Harry, yes, thank you, that works well and will be included in the explanation.

religon Inactive Member11 Sep 2012 9:24 a.m. PST

I helped teach my younger brother to write fiction. He greatly improved over the years, possibly due to some advice I gave him. He would often bring me rambling, detailed manuscripts with excellent prose. His problem was a compulsion to reveal everything behind the curtain. My advice was to write what is happening. Leave it to the reader to explain it and guess as to why it happened.

His writing became much more pointed, lyrical and insightful. Today, he is outstanding and well received in small artistic circles. Leave the mystery in your mythos. I'm not sure even the GM needs a logical gaming world handed to him. Too many details will burst the bubble as fast as too little.

Settle on a big theme or conflict…evil rises, control of the unicorns, magic is waning, time travelers, the great plague, elves just wanna have fun, the end of days, etc. The threat should probably remain a constant. The GM and players will supply what they feel is lacking. Tolkien never fed his orcs. If you are caught in a paradox, magic explains everything.

Parzival11 Sep 2012 9:36 a.m. PST

I like the sound of "weaving back the fabric of the world." It makes me think of this: the nihilistic power is of course, "pure nothingness." That means it cannot be allowed to contain any portion of creation (or the world or what have you), less that produce a drawing of the world into nothingness. Similarly, that nothingness cannot be allowed to stay in the world, lest it corrupt creation and produce the same effect. Since the "Vasty Vault" spits out undead, it is clearly spitting out beings that once were (and whose bodies are therefore part of the world) but now contain or are controlled by nothingness. Thus the bodies must all be allowed to return to the world, so that the fabric of the world can be whole, but the nothingness which "fills" them must be banished away so it cannot remain to sully the world. Therefore the Vasty Void cannot be sealed until all that is of the world is returned from it, and all that is nothing is banished back into it. This of course means that all the undead must be allowed to enter, yet also slain, before the hole in the world can be woven closed.

So there's your cosmological reasoning.

As to what the weaving is, well, clearly it is the return of the bodies of the dead to the natural cycle of the world— life, death and rebirth— and this seals the hole, upon which is raised a "mound of life" that locks it closed, perhaps topped by a single, glorious tree (an oak, of course).

Oh, and guarded by a unicorn.

(See how I worked all that together? grin)

doc mcb11 Sep 2012 9:38 a.m. PST

religon, I expect that is excellent advice -- that I am going to have a hard time accepting.

doc mcb11 Sep 2012 9:41 a.m. PST

Wow, Parzival, that's glorious! You'll surely see something of that in the final version; that's exactly the way the druids would see it. That takes Harry's idea and develops it further.

And the unicorn remains the Watcher, the sentinel, the Guardian.

Parzival11 Sep 2012 9:44 a.m. PST

As to what the medievals believed about beasts, they were perfectly ready to assume that beasts were highly intelligent (or at least that highly intelligent beasts existed). They also attached great philosophical and spiritual significance to beasts. Indeed, medievals often treated beasts as living allegories of Christ, and few more so than the unicorn (which medievals believed was a real creature, however fancifully they depicted one— it's possible the unicorn derived from sketchy accounts of a rhinoceros— perhaps even a rare white one). I recommend reading through a good medieval bestiary. T.H. White compiled the excellent The Book of Beasts, derived from various medieval sources. It's worth a look for any "classical" fantasy setting.

doc mcb11 Sep 2012 9:51 a.m. PST

In DARK AND BLOODY GROUND I included an exchange of letters between the archdruid and the halfling commander as they planned the campaign; see below.

I'm thinking I'll put some correspondence between the archdruid and someone -- the elven queen, probably, as she is the elves' contact with the unicorns -- pondering how to reweave the fabric and coming up with Parzival's approach.

Here's the exchange from DBG:

The Archdruid and Ned Thornfoot plan the campaign:

1. Your Wisdom,
As we have feared, a Moonglade invasion has crossed the Cain. They are in strength, but my scouts and rangers have been unable to determine their composition due to a dense cloud of skirmishers (mostly the hobgoblin clans) and the presence of dragons which (together with the giant bats) limits the Wind Darts' reconnaissance. I have dispatched all reserve Bounders and auxiliaries to Raccoon Hollow and have asked the dwarves to concentrate their Foresters there as well. We badly need strategic intelligence as to numbers and objectives. My impression is that they mean to attack all three settlements along the Tuck, but that is not confirmed. And my greatest concern is a dragon landing inside the stockade while the goblins attack the walls; I don't believe any garrison could long resist in such a case.

Pipereed is furthest from the Cain, and perhaps the enemy can be delayed in the swamp. To that end, will it be possible to enhance the insects there?
Ned Thornfoot, commander, Wolfwatch

2. Ned,
I have sent Sylvia Windword by Mountain Home Couriership to you at Wolfwatch. I would prefer that she not be more exposed to enemy action than that, but use your own judgment. Her sylphs are at your disposal. Leafmeal is also on his way, as are several units of the Woodsmen, who will land at Molehill soon if the dwarves can provide their barges with a tow.

I have agreed to pay the Golden Dragons' price, and they are sending a flight to confront Moonglade's dragons. Hopefully this will alleviate your (very justifiable) concern on that score.

I have also released sufficient strategic magic to create significant insect hazards in the swamps north of Pipereed. Note that the bugs cannot distinguish between their troops and ours, so you will have to keep your units on higher ground or assign shamans to be fly-whisks.

Beyond that I have little aid to send, as the College is certain that a new incursion by the Vasty Vault is imminent.
Athdarach, Archdruid

3. Your Wisdom,
With the dragons out of the area, the Wind Darts have provided some useful information, and Sylvia's sylphs have managed to penetrate the Moonglade spirit shield enough to confirm that the invasion is indeed three columns aimed at our three settlements. The hobgoblin weasel clan leads the western attack on Pipereed; the bat clan is with the center column aimed at Raccoon Hollow; and the wolf clan is in the east, aimed at Molehill.

Molehill is likely to be attacked first. The woodsmen are there and I have left them to bolster its defenses. The dwarves have also landed marines from their fleet.
I have ordered Senior Captain Sweetwine to engage the center column with all of our Wolfwatch including half of our shamans, with the other half split between Pipereed and Molehill.

The Wind Darts, Leafmeal, and Mountain Home's griffins are at Pipereed, and assure me that they can operate over the swamps in spite of the insects. We have fortified the main causeway and hope for the best – which would be a victory elsewhere allowing us to dispatch re-enforcements to Pipereed. Should any of the Golden Grove Corps become available, that would be the place to send them.

Ned Thornfoot

kyoteblue Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2012 9:57 a.m. PST


doc mcb11 Sep 2012 10:07 a.m. PST

Hah! a RELEVANT unicorn!

doc mcb11 Sep 2012 10:13 a.m. PST

"Indeed, medievals often treated beasts as living allegories of Christ, and few more so than the unicorn "

Albertus Magnus, 13th century saint: "This unicorn is Christ, whose might, typified by its horn, is irresistible." Can't find the whole quote, but he goes on to say that the Virgin welcomed the unicorn into her lap, her chaste Citadel, so that it might become catchable by its hunters.

Andy Skinner Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2012 10:43 a.m. PST

But I'm really not certain how to fit the unicorns in

Noah had that problem, too.


doc mcb11 Sep 2012 10:50 a.m. PST


Spudeus11 Sep 2012 12:38 p.m. PST

To refine the above ideas a little, it seems like the unicorns might willingly sacrifice themselves to 'plug the holes'/fertilize the magic tree. That might be their mysterious cosmological raison d'etre. (After all, horns from deceased unicorns were thought to retain their magical power in the middle ages).

From a game/campaign standpoint, this would also give the bad guys an actual reason to hunt down the unicorns. If they can be eliminated from the face of the world, their victory is assured (bwa ha ha!).

OSchmidt Inactive Member11 Sep 2012 1:41 p.m. PST

Dear Doc McB

I am approaching this a little differently. I understand all the points made here on the backstory/theology, but I'm aiming at a more central problem. Is this a solo campaign or a campaign where other players will play.

My observation is this. After decades of making games and scenarios, write ups and back stories. I realized that for the most part -- the gamers don't care. Their attitude to most of these finely crafted and nuanced theologies is "WHATEVER, how may die to I get to roll and what do I hit on. That's what I meant by my somewhat disparaging point about the games breaking down once the minis get on the table. Other rules will apply and they aren't always the ones you wrote down. I have seen it time and again that players will more or less make up their own scenario if they don't like, or cannot understand, the one you have made.

The other problem is that all of these crafted plots and backstoies are simply going to be for nothing unless the gamers are themselves "true believers." They are always going to some extend parrot the mythological background , but in the end they know it's the roll of the die and a more or less "napoleonic mentality."

Another dilemma is that, historically as others have pointed out, logic does not have to be part of the game, especially in the Middle Ages or the Ancient World. Phenomenon were explained generally in three ways. "God Wills it." "It is in the nature of the creature to do that." And "It is an act of the devil." These catch-all's wre excellent tools to "fit in" things which did not seem to fit, along with phrases like "It's a miracle." "Or it is a mystery of God." etc.

You all laugh at the Witch sequence in Monty Python and the Holy Grail and they have made a parody of the High Medieval method of analogical reasoning and the like, but that's only viewing from the position of 20th century people. Back in the 9th and 10th century, the new learning (even though mit might reason a witch should float (or not) like a duck, or weigh more, was worlds ahead of what had come before which was mere phenominalism. More than that, once you begin even with similie and analogy to postulate laws by which the universe is run, even God must at some point obey the laws (or be the progenitor of them) and hence… we are one our way to the modern world. But that's 800 years in the future. Back in the Middle Ages, one didn't need much mental gymnastics to "fit things in."

The whimsical reference to Monty Python is really an indication of the great turn in Western philosophy from the ontological ( the "what is", and once one has pronounced "what is" no more need be said, for it is of itself, and the turn to the epistemological which is "how do we inow what we know?" Which is where you get all that labored talk of ducks, witches, small stones ets. All of those are bumbling grasps attempting to know how we know what we know. The foolish crowd is still stuck in the ontological (having pronounced the woman a witch, she therefore IS a witch and they are completely nonplussed when Bedevere asks "How do you know she is a witch." We moderns immediately ask the question when anyone asserts something categorically- "how do you know that?"

All of this means that so long as you keep it in the Middle Ages you won't have to explain a lot and -- at the same time-- your gamers really won't care, just like good Medieval peasants.

Zephyr111 Sep 2012 2:31 p.m. PST

To be a little facetious here, the unicorns have those magic knitting needles on their head. When combined with magic thread, this allows them to seal (reweave) those pesky holes.

In game terms, I'd just have it so the Elven player has to herd unicorns towards the hole, which they'll start to automatically seal up over a few turns. And if the unicorns are uncooperative or ticked off about something, that'll just make it more fun trying to get them there…. ;-)

Lion in the Stars Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2012 5:19 p.m. PST

@Doc: Just a thought, but RE Howard wrote an entire history of Hyborea before he wrote the Conan stories.

I don't think anyone has published the history book, but Howard wrote that to explain his world to himself. The rest of us certainly don't need to read the history to get a feel for the world.

doc mcb11 Sep 2012 5:46 p.m. PST

Keith, I'll have to think about self-sacrificial unicorns. Maybe.

Otto, the problem is that I very much enjoy, e.g., the whole backstory of, say, Stafford's Glorantha. Have since WHITE BEAR, RED MOON. And there's a lot of Gloranthan gamers still out there; google it and see.

I doubt I'll ever have that sort of following -- I'd be happy at 10% of that! -- but I do think there's some out there who may take pleasure in wargaming in the Splintered Lands.

As to the Middle Ages, I don't see that as the model for my world at all. Certainly the sylvan elves are far from peasants! Closer to Renaissance Florentines, probably. I know a fair bit of history, and draw from all over the past.

It may be that it turns out to be 90% for my own pleasure, which would be mildly disappointing but okay. And I agree with Lion -- and of course Tolkien is the better example of history before story.

I appreciate everyone's help; this is a good example of TMP as a community of resource.

Peredyne11 Sep 2012 7:01 p.m. PST

I'm completely hijacking this thread for an unrelated topic. My apologies in advance.

@Tochtli, call or IM me if you have a chance. My work schedule has changed and I'm off Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays now.

Sorry for the hijack. We now return you to the topic at hand.

doc mcb11 Sep 2012 7:23 p.m. PST

You're welcome.

Phil Dutre12 Sep 2012 3:34 a.m. PST

#Doc I agree with some of the remarks made, that you're probably worrying too much about fitting an individual battle (= a game) into the bigger cosmological thinking. Would the soldiers and commanders on the battlefield really care?

Hitler had a master plan for conquering Europe. Churchill had a master plan for defeating Hitler. But do you really think low-level soldiers and commanders cared about any of this? The both probably were much more concerned about the enemy machine gun hidden in a village, their relatives at home, and when and where their next meal would materialise. I doubt very much the guys on the field of battle were much concerned with the bigger scheme of things. They were all cursing their own leaders for putting them in this mess in the first place.

doc mcb12 Sep 2012 4:04 a.m. PST

Phil, yes, of course you are correct -- but people also enjoy gaming WWII, or playing the role of Eisenhower or Patton or Montgomery. A strategic wargame is certainly woth doing.

And a campaign imparts all sorts of benefits to individual tabletop battles. But a campaign has to be ABOUT something.

Elenderil12 Sep 2012 5:03 a.m. PST

I don't understand the Mythos you are working within here but from a general perspective the logical framework has to be consistant in any fantasy setting. Any rules of nature which differ from our reality have to be understood by everyone to allow them to be certain that something that works today will work tomorrow , or if not why not.

In Tolkein (and most other fantasy) the world is similar enough to our own for readers to be able to assume basic rules from our own worlds rules. In works like those of Moorcock where the world often runs on different lines the basis of those differences has a coherant set of rules. These may not be made clear to the reader but they can be inferred as the story unfolds. Larry Niven stated that when writting Science Fiction detective stories any science and technology that had an impact on the story should be "unveiled" early in the tale to allow the reader to take it into account while trying to work out who done it and how.

Now I see a campaign as akin to a novel it should unfold and the rules of the world should be understood by all the players. After all they live there so they would understand those elements of the world that they are capable of understanding. That is to say as I am a reasonably well educated 21st Century human, I understand the basic everyday certainties of my world. I know the sun rises and sets every day, and why. I understand how long it takes to travel from place to place and I have a reasonable grasp of politics and economics…so far as I am allowed to know the facts. As for Quantum Physics, I know it exists and what it deals with but show me the math and my brain will melt and flow out of my ears. I see magic in a fantasy setting in rather the same way as Quantum physics in our world.

So I think that a coherant back story for a fantasy campaign is a reasonable thing to create to allow the developer to check the internal consistancy. The back story can be added to as required so long as it remains a consistant logical whole. However, there is no reason why the players should know all of the back story any more than an infantryman in a fox hole in Italy in 1944 needs to know all about the factors which influenced the rise of facism. In fact for game play there are many good reasons why they shouldn't. Provided that there is never a point where a player feels that facts they should have known about how the world works have been withheld and that their decisions have been corrupted by that lack of knowledge all is good.

So providing your logic for having to clear the area around the rip in the fabric of reality is in keeping with the Mythos of your game world it doesn't matter what it is. That is just how the world works.

Murvihill13 Sep 2012 9:03 a.m. PST

Maybe the magic is easier (that is, capable of being performed with present assets) if there is something physical over the rift to cast upon. Kill all the baddies, throw a net (or whatever) over the rift, cast the spell.

doc mcb16 Sep 2012 7:42 a.m. PST

Okay, here's what I'm thinking, and my thanks to all for many ideas, some of which will be used and others that stimulated my own thoughts.

Physical, yes, and natural versus unnatural.

The Vasty Vault means to pervert, twist, and ultimately destroy physical existence. VV has no way (or in any case little way) to affect the immaterial. And the undead are a mixture of life and death -- both of which are natural, but not when combined. So as Parzival said, the undead have to be returned to death, to restore the natural order. As long as undead are in the world, the Vasty Vault has a foothold that can be expanded.

To plug the hole/reweave the fabric (sounds like Jordan, but hey, HE stole it first) the undead must be eliminated and then the elves (in this case) must bring some immaterial force into the Void, to throw it back while the patch is done. Shamanic mana will do (which is natural but immaterial). Fire would do except that the fuel, the object on fire, is material (being turned into energy, but not yet completely) so will be less effective. The Godfearers' lumens can bring light (a laser beam -- Gandalf was a lumens, folks will recall, when he used light to drive back the nazgul harrowing Faramir's retreat) directly into the Void. And a dwarven balloonboat might use a giant mirror with good effect to reflect sunshine into the Void. (Moonglade's moonboats could do the same at less effect, as they would be reflecting reflected sunlight, i.e. moonlight.

I'm also still thinking unicorns. I think their horns can absorb and emit light. I think if one had a number of unicorns, standing opposite one another around the Void, as points of a compass or numbers on a clock, they could merge their light beams and create a powerful light in the center that would defeat the void. (The light shines in the dark and the darkness cannot encompass it.)

And of course in OUR world one need only wait for December 24th . . . and Rudolf.

Jeremy Wright Inactive Member16 Sep 2012 9:33 a.m. PST

I think it is very important that a world builder create logical consistency, so I applaud you, Doc. It is also good to keep the 'reader' in the dark about a lot of it. So by all means, think about it deeply and write away. You can keep most of it out of the light of the campaign, but it is sad to write it all only to have it never seen by anyone else. Maybe make a seperate book filled with only your world's history and 'physics'. Then those who want to read can, and those who don't won't have their game cluttered too much. I know I would be interested.

To the point at hand. Parzival did a great job relating my very thought on the matter. Let me try to add something to it.

In a shamanistic world view there is 'something', and there is 'nothing'. These points of entry for the VV are an encroachment of 'nothing' into the 'something' of the world. But let us imagine that there are more than two degrees of being, that it is more of a spectrum. The world lies just this side of being, but is close to the edge. That is why it is such a contested place. Far on one end of the scale is utter 'nothingness', oblivion. On the other end is the ultimate 'something', energy and being. The world is comprised of matter and energy and generally 'exists'. Closer to the middle of the spectrum on the side of oblivion are the undead. They have a physical form, but lack energy or life. Thus, they are most able to enter the world, as it takes them the least effort to survive there, making them the soldiers of the nothingness in its war against 'being'.

The more the spectrum shifts towards the other end, of being, the more a creature is tied to energy rather than their material form. Energy is immortal becaus it IS life. (Similarly, the creatures of the VV are immortal in a sense because they are already dead and lack life to lose.) Thus Elves, being closer to being than the other inhabitants of the world, enjoy long life, health, and energy. Unicorns would be a step further up the scale. Though they still have a physical form, the majority of their being is greater than that. Beyond them still would be the spirits and gods, who are wholey energy. They are then also further removed along the spectrum and thus require greater will to manifest in the world. So, like the VV, they use those aligned with them, such as the Elves, to fight the majority of battles for them in the material world.

This way, Unicorns, being closer to being, are greater warriors for their cause. Their nature makes them powerful allies, but also detached. Their ability to draw on that energy would be an asset to sealing the portals. The druids know they must first eject the nothingness from the world, and then re-weave existence in its place. It is a dangerous undertaking and must be done at the source. The aid of Unicorns in the endeavor is a blessing, like having a super charged battery to draw from.

I hope you can draw something from that. Keep it up! I love reading your topics.

doc mcb16 Sep 2012 9:50 a.m. PST

Jeremy, thanks, that is indeed helpful. I'm going to try writing an exchange of letters between the archdruid and the chairwoman of the team from the College he assigned the task of figuring out how to deal with the VV. It is said one should try to write what one knows, and I know academic committees and reports! There may be some (black) humor. And I think it will go into a sidebar or be otherwise set off from the gaming material, to be ignored by those who'd rather.

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