Milestone: published post 101! Also, MOVING HOUSE

Hello everyone.

I took a break from writing this week to focus on the task of moving house. I’m about half done, but I’m hoping to be all done by the end of the weekend, with only a little cleaning up of the old house to do.

If I manage to throw something together, it’ll go up. I have the roundup from the Topaz Championship to throw up, but I might delay that slightly.

Also, my parents are visiting next weekend, so that takes away part of my spare time too!

See you all soon.

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Writing 101, Day Three: Committing to a writing practice

I’m not entirely sure how to go about following the instructions here. According to Writing 101, I need to write about the three most important songs in my life.

But of course, now I’m told to write about them, I can’t even think of three important songs, never mind the most important.

If I write about songs I enjoy right now, I have to include Weird Al’s ‘Word Crimes’, which is his use of ‘Blurred Lines’ to emphasise the importance of spelling and grammar. And which he had to make a public apology about (to be fair, when I heard it played on national Irish radio, I was surprised they hadn’t edited it themselves). Plus, I prefer ‘NOW That’s What I Call Polka’ from this new album, because who doesn’t love polka covers of modern pop songs?

I could talk about Timecop1983 and their album Journeys, which I’m listening to now as I write. It’s some nice electro pop and pretty chilled out, so I can let it run in the background and not have it bother me too much. But I wouldn’t say any of the songs are particularly my favourite.

Or I could write about ‘Kill You’ by Dethklok, which I keep playing because it’s so unlike the rest of their songs, and because I like Metalocalypse.

But none of those are exactly important, in the way I assume the writing exercise wants me to talk about them. The lesson I’m taking from the exercise is to write about something for a given amount of time (about fifteen minutes), and to make a habit out of that. I’ve managed to write on here for about that time or maybe more with having to go fetch links, and on a subject I’m not exactly likely to go back to writing about soon, but I still feel like I’ve cheated the assignment somewhat by not sticking to it.

Magic in the Old Crown: A quick overview of how it fits together

Here are a quick few thoughts on how magic is now working in the setting. I’m not throwing rules in with this yet, as I’m still working some of them out. This is more for flavour.

First, a word on elements of magic/nature.

The forces of elemental magic at work in the Old Crown, and indeed in the rest of the world revolve around two pure elements, Light and Dark.
All other elements are subordinate, seen as a mix of the two, with sentience and the element of Mind at the exact balance of between Light and Dark. Other balances produce the elements of Air, Earth, Water and Fire, since scholarly study shows many similarities between the elements at some fundamental level.

What this means for the Old Crown is most important for the magic users themselves.

The various Oathed orders all follow the different Ascended, and each Ascended is associated with Light, Dark, or Balance. These labels don’t necessarily infer goodness or badness; the Burned Man is and Ascendant of Light, the Storm of Balance, and the Black Lady of Dark.

An arcanist of the Old Crown will be schooled in various practical lessons, but will naturally gravitate toward some element that comes easiest to understanding, or manipulating. Many go on to learn other elements after their formal schooling, and the Archmagus of Raethmoor Academy is known to be a master of several.
Some arcanists find they are more strongly drawn to the elements of Light and Dark themselves, and some very few claim proficiency with Mind.

Witches and seawitches have an innate bond with the magical world. They feel an affiliation with the natural world from a young age, sometimes speaking to imaginary creatures only they can see (spirits), or else able to perform small feats of magic without any arcane training.
Many form a close companionship with an animal. Usually, this animal is blessed by an abundance of the element of Mind, much smarter than the rest of its species.
Some bond some part of their spirit to that of a nature spirit, carrying it with them wherever they go. Sometimes this is an elemental spirit instead, such as a fire or water elemental. Some fewer witches claim to have a bond to a Barrowight.

Next, souls and spirits.

All life has a soul, or a spirit. Some have no physical body, such as nature spirits, or the ghosts of the long dead, the Barrowights. Some elemental spirits do have a physical body, and these are called Daimon by most. They might be creatures with little in the way of a mind, residents of some distant existence in the heart of Dark itself.
Some stories persist of Daimon being born to witches bonded to elemental spirits, but most witches scoff at the idea.
The most dangerous Daimon are those with a strong connection to Light and Dark themselves.

Also, when any person creates an object, they put a part of their spirit into the task. If this is a meal, it rarely uses much of the spirit, but a more laboured process such as the creation of a piece of artwork, or a weapon, or an item with some magical purpose, will yield something else. Such Soulforged items gain something from their creation. Whilst not all spirited labour creates a true Soulforged item, when created they have a more awakened sentience themselves.
Tales abound of swords singing in the hands of their wielders, but more common is the kettle that boils when left in the sunshine or fine clothes that remain dry in the fiercest rain.

When an Ascended has a hand in making some item, it will generally absorb a part of their more powerful spirit, becoming Godforged in the process. The most famous Godforged items, like the Black Lady’s Crown of Thorn and Feather or the Masque’s Cloak of Falling Shadows have stories told about them across the known world, and are known to always be in the company of the god that forged them.
It is said that Soulforged items created by an Ascended before they become gods grow suddenly in power and become Godforged on their creator’s Ascension.

The process of giving a part of the soul for the creation of a Soulforged item is generally accepted to be the same process that bonds witches to spirits, though they receive something in return. Some believe the same process is used by the Fiend and his followers in the Undeath Curse, though only they would know if it is so.
It is also generally agreed that whilst the labour of love necessary to create such items can drain a person, leave them feeling particularly empty or vulnerable because of the effort of their spirit, over time they recover, and a person’s spirit cannot be destroyed in this way.

There’s probably more to magic that I’m forgetting, but the various bits on ritual and stuff aren’t that set in my mind yet, so I can work on those a bit first. Feel free to comment and give me some feedback!

Writing 101, Day Two: Setting description

The rain tumbled down from the dark grey clouds, lightning flashing and thunder rolling. It poured from the eaves of the buildings in Queenstown, and poured from the thatched rooves as it did the beards and cowls of the people forced to walk the streets.
On days like today, when the sun barely lightened the day at all, the city felt as grey as the skies above, from the waves down in Portside, up to the carved stone of Temples, and up again to the smoke pouring from the great houses in the Estates, perched up on the cliffs.

For two days, the rain had fallen in great sheets, the low clouds mimicking the waves of the seas below. The city was sodden, and Bedry was sodden, his every movement enough to wring a little water out of his ragged grey clothes, slowly trickling down his legs and pooling beneath where he stood, and only to be replaced by more water from far above. His hood was crudely sewn together from a torn sail, soaked in tar, and it was barely any shield to the torrent of water.
Slowly making his way along his normal route through the markets, Bedry had given his all to coax the few coins now in his hand from those of any passers-by, as few and far between as they had been in this storm. He could already taste the mug of watered sweet ale and spiced bread the few slivers of metal would bring him.

Water gushed down the handful of steps to the front door, and pooled heavy in the old, long-blocked drain at their base, sloshing into the bar as he opened the door and stepped through, mixing with the dirt, reeds and straw covering the floor.
The room was hazy, thick with wood smoke from the cooking fire and pipe smoke from the patrons. Regular visitors rarely used the real name for the tavern, calling it the “Smoking House”. Tonight, the air inside was particularly thick; the pouring rain outside had washed loose old birdnests and the mummified bodies of vermin to plug the various small holes in the roof that gave the place its name.

Bedry shifted uneasily. The House was busier than he liked, and he could spot more than a few people who would pick a fight with a beggar to satisfy their own urges. He hugged the edges of the room, where water fell down the inside walls almost as much as it no doubt did outside. In a corner far from the hearth stood Albi and Stethen, beggars like Bedry, as wet and grey as himself. The landlord, Bannis, saw him come in, and sent a girl over with a mug and a small, damp loaf.
Bannis was an abrupt man, with a hard brow and a scalp barely hidden by thinning hair. Bedry had known him a long time, since before his luck had fallen, and the landlord had always done his best to give him a small meal and a roof in a storm.

Bedry handed all his coin over to the serving girl, thanked her, and slumped down to the floor near Albi and Stethen, and thanked whichever Ascended was listening for the respite from the rain.

Today’s Writing 101 assignment came from here. Any views on how I did, please leave them in the comments!

Writing 101, Day One: 20 minutes of freewriting

His eye jolted open at the sound of a distant screaming. His arms and legs were cold, his clothes and hair stuck to him with water. Saltwater and gritty sand covered his lips.
He didn’t know where he was.

Razir had fallen asleep in his room at the inn, exhausted, fresh into port. He didn’t believe it to be a dream, and couldn’t remember a storm that had washed him overboard.
The air filling his lungs was cold, and he could hear the waves lapping at a beach. The sky directly above was grey, clouds filtering the light of the sun in such a way he couldn’t tell if it was dawn or dusk or anywhere in between.

Lifting his head slowly, he found himself on a beach of grey and black sand, and above sheer cliffs, perhaps once white but clearly scorched and cratered as far as he could see, before a pervasively thick mist covered them from view. From the sands and the shallow waters rose wrecks of many small boats, all made of dark wood, or else burned black themselves.

Another scream, and this time the roar of a great crowd, high above, at the top of the cliffs, and then a sound like none he had ever heard, as if a storm erupted from the throat of some great hulking monster. Strange light flashed high above, and then he found himself running for the cover of the cliffs themselves as great clods of earth and stone began to rain down onto the beach and the waters.

Stumbling over something hidden in the sand, Razir barely stopped himself falling head first into the last of the plummeting materiel, and then, eyes widening, he realised this last was the charred and still smoking form of an armoured man.

Razir fell to the ground, sprawling twice as he tried to hastily crawl backwards away from the thing in front of him. His hand fell on the peg of flotsam he had stumbled over, the handle of some oar or tiller.
A low pained moan arose from the throat of the dying man before him, and all too bright eyes looked towards Razir.
“Run, lost soul,” he barely choked out the words. “His forces have almost made the beach. You don’t have long to escape yourself.”

Eyes filled with terror, Razir once again looked about himself. He understood where he was all too clearly. Razir had awoken in the Deadrealms, at the shores of the Sea of Souls itself. And the wild armies of the Fiend, the Lord of Undeath, had almost broken through the lines of warriors loyal to the Black Lady.
And then the sky lit up again.

I think that went pretty well. It’s something that’s been evolving in my head for a couple of months now, but I needed to throw it down eventually. And I managed to get it all done in twenty minutes. Well, barring that last sentence, when my alarm started to go off.
I’ll try write some more on Razir and the Deadrealms soon.

Check out Writing 101 for more on the daily tasks (not sure if I’ll manage them daily!), specifically this one for day one.

Writing courses, Linux courses

I’ve decided to sign up to the Writing 201 course over at the Daily Post.

It’s focussed mostly on editing from what I can see, but there’s some workshopping in there too.

I’m debating working my way through Writing 101 as well, starting this weekend. I should be packing for the move, but I’m sure procrastination is good for some things. It might encourage me to crack on more with the Old Crown RPG work I’ve been doing too.

I also signed up to an edX course in Linux, hoping to learn the basics. There’s a fee if I want certification, but I’m just going to audit the course for my own benefit. I don’t know if I can sign up for money later, but I don’t think I’ll have that much spare any time soon!

L5R 4E Topaz Championship session 2

For part one, see here.

We started the session a little late, owing to using the gang to move some boxes over to my new house before we began. Also, pizza.

It might be very apparent that I’ve made the tournament a lot bigger. The players all decided they wanted to play as Crab, so increasing the numbers in attendance for all the clans made more sense than having the group only watch one contestant perform.
I decided the larger tournament was in honour of the 35th anniversary of the Emperor’s ascendency to the Emerald Throne.

The three Crab began to explore the town of Tsuma, signing in to the tournament registry over at the Kakita Duelling Academy and investigating as much of the grounds as they were allowed. Then they headed for the sake house, drank a cup of shochu with the other Crab contestant, Hida Fujizaka. They rented themselves a private room for the evening, anticipating coming back to mark the evening’s festivities!

Following their shochu with a quick cup of tea at the House of the Laughing Carp teahouse and inn, commotion about town meant that the Imperial Barge was close to the town docks. Moving to the street, they witnessed the Imperial entourage disembark, and meet the various dignitaries in attendance.
The Emperor and his son, Bayushi Shoju and Kachiko, Hida Kisada, even Ichiro Akitomo of the Badger Clan and Yoritomo of the Mantis.
One old veteran samurai whispered an insult to the heir to the throne into the ear of the young Hida bushi, but Crab being Crab, all the young samurai agreed wholeheartedly that signs of weakness were to be held in contempt.
They noticed a few oddities among the crowd. A young make in the black and red armour of the Scorpion would later turn out to be Bayushi Sugai, a late entrant into the tournament. Also, following beside Hida Kisada’s niece was a Unicorn carrying three swords – one wakizashi and two katana. The ornamentation along the saya of one of the katana was clearly in Crab colours. Among a small party of Phoenix stood a female shugenja who was ALSO carrying a katana, ornamented in the Phoenix colours, but the two swords looked so similar they were clearly made by the same person.

On the way back to the sake house, the group ran in to Ichiin, a wandered who gathers information. He offered them knowledge on the other contestants, for a price, which they seemed happy to pay. They found out that the Crane were also fielding four contestants, with most of the others fielding two, or three in the case of the Lion clan. Gaining some idea of the various strengths of each contestant, they also found out that a Mantis had been entered into the tournament, as had a ronin named Toku.

The private room helped them later on, when a drinking contest with Hida Fujizaka got out of hand, the group all eventually passing out, some after almost embarassing themselves!
Waking up some time later, they hauled themselves back to Megumi’s house to sleep off the worst of their drinking. Hida Fujizaka came too, although he had a room at the Laughing Carp.
When they woke, the Hiruma found a note hidden in his obi. Presumably left by the private geisha at the sake house, it read simply ‘help’.

Bleary-eyed and as well-groomed as they could make themselves, the group headed to the Kakita Academy for the start of the tournament.

More next week!