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Topics - Jubal

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1
Discussion and Debate - The Philosopher's Plaza / UK Politics 2022
« on: January 19, 2022, 12:29:03 PM »
New year, time for a change of thread!

And we have a bit of political excitement for the New Year, too: Boris Johnson is finally severely tanking in the polls, and everyone (everyone who's an enormous nerd anyway) is watching avidly to see when enough letters to the Conservative 1922 committee get sent in expressing no confidence in him, such that there's an actual confidence vote among Conservative MPs. There will also be one fewer of those MPs, as the member for Bury South today crossed the floor and joined the Labour benches about ten minutes before Prime Minister's Questions.

Johnson may yet see off a confidence vote if his potential replacements - including my MP Liz "Pork Markets" Truss, Matt "I've got an app" Hancock, Jeremy "don't mispronounce the surname" Hunt, and chancellor and probable front-runner Rishi Sunak - don't feel ready to jump into a contest. But he's looking more and more damaged by the day, honestly.

2
General Chatter - The Boozer / Jan Pub - Friday 28th?
« on: January 16, 2022, 12:30:13 PM »
Would the above date work for people?

3
The World of Kavis / Palictara and Tullactara
« on: January 12, 2022, 08:05:05 PM »
These are two regions eastward of the Heirophancy.

Palictara consists of some sizeable floodplain valleys and forested areas, down to their relevant coastline. Tullactara effectively loops around Palictara, consisting of the mountains to Palictara's north and east, and also continuing into the island chain to its southeast and south. The peoples of each region have closely related but separate languages and share a religious pantheon, and are respectively simply referred to as Pals and Tuls.

The major political powers in the region are the inland Palictaran city of Sante, the Palictaran coastal realm of the Murtec dynasty, and the theocratic Tullactaran isle of Mestapesh.


Religious Practice

Pal and Tul religion is pantheistic. One of the largest curiosities of it is that they believe that mankind was invested with certain authority with regard to heaven as well as vice versa. This particularly emerges in civic religion and ceremonies to select deities to perform certain functions in the pantheon beyond their core aspects - the most major such decisions being selecting the ruler of the gods, though in rarer cases leaders may move to make or annul marriages or add or revoke the functions of certain deities. Selecting the ruler of the pantheon may be done at any time there is widespread agreement among a realm's leaders that it is needed or prophesied, especially at times of war. Often certain Oracles will encourage all the region's rulers to have their say at once or give some indications which lead to a bit of alignment, but it is still not uncommon for there to end up being competing claims as to who is the legitimate current ruler of the gods - which, if a war wasn't already happening, would probably provoke one.

The system is made significantly more complex by the very different ruling systems across the region's major and minor polities. Sante's people are fiercely protective of their right to elect their leaders, and likewise their gods, whilst the Murtecs contend that their dynasty is descended from Milnashecte (which is often acknowledged even by other regional powers) and thus uniquely divinely inspired (which is not). For the Mestapheshis, all the priests of the island gather and may choose any deity other than their own: when there is a change of supreme deity there is also a change of leadership as that deity's priesthood is accorded the supreme executive functions of the state.

Priests and priestesses across the region must be ordained twice, the birthing and binding: first they are ceremenially "born to their deity", and then bound to their temple (and thus flock). All deities have priests and priestesses alike. Being bound to their temple is a ritual that requires the participation of every household in a settlement: it is thus easy to veto a priest's binding and this happens not infrequently. Potential priests who are born to their deity but rejected by their chosen community, or who cannot find a temple, have a number of options: large temples may take subordinate priests either by having pseudo-temples that nominally serve a single household, making the binding ritual easier to manage socially. Alternatively, some create their own household-temple and bind themselves to it, becoming a sort of hermit or monk: such a hermitage is not treated as a "true" settlement, but the most important of them attract other people in similar positions and may become oracular sites: visions created by various means are an important religious practice.

Finally, some may choose to become Tephe, literally "reachings" of their deity. This is also done by a ritual process that must be agreed to by several other priests of the deity: it is a difficult road, for among other things Tephe may carry no name, only that they are a Tephe and of whom. They are granted charity and supplies but they may not take more than three days' hospitality under the same roof. They are wanderers who are accorded a revered status, and generally carry out functions particular to their deity - some Tephe become fearsome warriors, others become law-givers, or healers, or spend their days calling for alms to go to the poor: some may even be brutal avengers of sin.



4
Pangolin Games / Fenlander - A Parser RPG
« on: January 09, 2022, 11:38:12 AM »


Fenlander is a small RPG/Adventure game, built with a text parser engine. It was made for the Historically Accurate Game Jame 5. I've been wanting to make a game for a jam for a long while and thought this was the time to get round to it.

In Fenlander, you play as an ordinary resident of the fenlands of East Anglia in the medieval period, trying to smoke enough eels to pay your rent. Life seems simple: there's reeds to be cut, peat to be dug and eels to be fished for. But getting the right balance between those activities can be a matter of life and death, as can learning from and interacting with your fellow villages and the beautiful, dangerous, ever-shifting landscape around you. The fens are ancient, with reeds that seem to whisper of things we have long forgotten - but for all that, they never stop changing.

The aim of the game is to store enough smoked eels to pay your rent (which, yes, is literally paid in eels). You have three main tools - your glaive, spade, and scythe - to gather materials from the fen that you can use for producing food and for selling to other villagers. There are four fellow villagers - Lennerie, Moll, Hob, and Dickon - who you will probably need to interact with to win: they can buy and sell important items and give you key bits of information. You also have four whimsically named skills: Harnsering for hunting/meat and eel cooking, Hickathrifting for strength and resilience challenges, Surefooting for careful, balanced challenges, and Skeining for social challenges. These can be improved by keeping an eye on the landscape around you or by getting help from friends in the village.

The game is text-based, with an original soundtrack and location art. Please do play it and let me know what you think!







5
Exilian Articles / A Bad Pun RPG Idea Calendar
« on: January 02, 2022, 12:25:32 AM »
2022: A Bad Pun RPG Idea Calendar
By Jubal


So, recently on Twitter I foolishly said that I would post a pun-based RPG plotline idea for every like on a tweet. I am nothing if not true-ish to my word, and as the likes piled up I ended up producing over fifty of the things as the month of December 2021 wore on... and having produced that many, I decided there was nothing for it but to reproduce them in article form. And how better to do it than a 2022 calendar?

As such, here it is, with one awful pun-based idea for a sidequest or subplot per week for the entire year of 2022! Check out your birthday or other significant dates through the year for maybe-or-maybe-not appropriate puns galore, or just browse to find interesting ideas for your upcoming creative projects and campaigns. Or because you just want a lot of groan-inducing humour in your life, that's fine too. And thus - the calendar!


JANUARY
Jan 03 - Jan 09
Jan 10 - Jan 16
Jan 17 - Jan 23
Jan 24 - Jan 30
Jan 31 - Feb 06
.
FEBRUARY
Feb 07 - Feb 13
Feb 14 - Feb 20
Feb 21 - Feb 27
Feb 28 - Mar 06
.
MARCH
Mar 07 - Mar 13
Mar 14 - Mar 20
Mar 21 - Mar 27
Mar 28 - Apr 03
APRIL
Apr 04 - Apr 10
Apr 11 - Apr 17
Apr 18 - Apr 24
Apr 25 - May 01
.
MAY
May 02 - May 08
May 09 - May 15
May 16 - May 22
May 23 - May 29
May 30 - Jun 05
.
JUNE
Jun 06 - Jun 12
Jun 13 - Jun 19
Jun 20 - Jun 26
Jun 27 - Jul 03
JULY
Jul 04 - Jul 10
Jul 11 - Jul 17
Jul 18 - Jul 24
Jul 25 - Jul 31
.
AUGUST
Aug 01 - Aug 07
Aug 08 - Aug 14
Aug 15 - Aug 21
Aug 22 - Aug 28
Aug 29 - Sep 04
.
SEPTEMBER
Sep 05 - Sep 04
Sep 12 - Sep 18
Sep 19 - Sep 25
Sep 26 - Oct 02
OCTOBER
Oct 03 - Oct 09
Oct 10 - Oct 16
Oct 17 - Oct 23
Oct 24 - Oct 30
Oct 31 - Nov 06
.
NOVEMBER
Nov 07 - Nov 13
Nov 14 - Nov 20
Nov 21 - Nov 27
Nov 28 - Dec 04
.
DECEMBER
Dec 05 - Dec 11
Dec 12 - Dec 18
Dec 19 - Dec 25
Dec 26 - Jan 01



THE PUNS

Jan 03 - Jan 09
Evil wizard Butho Cai will try to create the Thousand Coloured Robe of Fate amid the the Ancient Looms of the Hill of Fading Time.

Will you stop him, or all perish? Fight cloth demons, unravel traps and find out in this adventure because it's a WYRD HILL TO DYE ON.


Jan 10 - Jan 16
Dragon-hunters use hawks to track their mighty prey - and you've just found one in a snare. Will you return it, losing time and maybe the huge bounty? Or keep pushing on and leave the bird to its fate? Your choice will have consequences in THE EARLY BIRD GETS THE WYRM.

Jan 17 - Jan 23
The Ship of Dreams carries the Elder Kin from world to world and plane to plane, powered by the dreams of a mortal who broke a fated duty. But now it's crashed in the mortal world: its pilot has escaped, and the Elder Kin raid to find him, desperate to leave, in OUT OF GEAS.

Jan 24 - Jan 30
A herbalist has grown the world's first hardy all-weather mandrake, but is under pressure from the King to hand over the secret and makes no secret of his distaste for the monarch's plans. Can you save him from the royal guard in A MANDRAKE FOR ALL SEASONS?

Jan 31 - Feb 06
You awake. Sheogorath is there. You see a bubble of abstract madness. Fifteen glowing atronachs pop in and out of existence. You wander in the nest of a moth. You sleep. You awake. Sheogorath is there. You see a bubble... welcome to GROUNDHOG DAEDRA.

Feb 07 - Feb 13
You know you did nothing that would merit this - but you've awoken in a demon's lair anyway. Are you being framed for consorting with demons? Who is responsible? And... might it not be somewhat fun even if you are? Face death and lust alike in THROWN UNDER THE SUCCUBUS!

Feb 14 - Feb 20
Sir Everhorn is a legend among knights: appearing and disappearing like the wind, saving the lives of folks who he will never see again. But can the heroes get him to commit to protecting the people for a longer term? Why does he roam eternal? Find out in ONE KNIGHT'S STAND.

Feb 21 - Feb 27
A young lady had a romantic tryst with a Selkie three summers past. Now the Selkie has left her for another, but she's still magically, inexorably drawn to the sea. Can you break the curse? Or might she still find true love in the water? This and more in SEALED WITH A KISS.


Feb 28 - Mar 06
Dwarves are notoriously secretive, their protections against Watch snooping absolute. When Elder Bastrom fears corruption in the Diggers' Guild, then, she needs you to join the guild & investigate. Can you thwart the plot? Only if you've successfully MINED YOUR OWN BUSINESS.

Mar 07 - Mar 13
A document has surfaced proving that a mere farm-hand must be the heir of the famed Beowulf. Now he's come to you: he's been exalted as a potential hero, but he doubts the document is real and has no idea how to fight a dragon. Will you help him manage GEAT EXPECTATIONS?

Mar 14 - Mar 20
Rumours of the Lost Dwarf Forge prompt streams of would-be heroes to investigate. But are the young warriors being lured out for other reasons? Why don't they return? Are the best weapons the ones you had with you all along? You'll learn more in A HALBERD IN THE HAND...

Mar 21 - Mar 27
The Host of the West comes. All forces of darkness quail... and you are one of Morgoth's lieutenants. You must devise & enact an escape plan to allow your master to flee to hiding and waylay his mighty siblings, in DISCRETION IS THE BETTER PART OF VALAR.

Mar 28 - Apr 03
In 972, you were sent to the Howling Jail of the Elfin Lords for a fairy crime you didn't commit. You escaped: still hunted, you survive as tricksters of fortune.  Now someone has a problem and no one else can help: and they've found you. Maybe they can hire... THE FAE TEAM.

Apr 04 - Apr 10
Two murders: a jilted love affair, an ensuing blood feud. Such happens in the blood-dark of a cold marshland winter. But these ghosts are unquiet: the locals think the souls refuse to leave, but you know powerful ritual magic binds them here, in TWO WRONGS DON'T MAKE A RITE.

Apr 11 - Apr 17
Lightning rolls. Two shepherds drunkenly stumble off the moor: each blames the other for the howling banshee that has been unleashed from the Auld Stones. Who is right - or is their enmity hiding the real tale? You must face the truth this time in KNOWING MEAD, KNOWING EWES!

Apr 18 - Apr 24
Preachers roam the streets chanting about the Great Floods and urging you to drive back the evil water spirits. Doom seems nigh indeed: outlying villages have been washed away. But are the water spirits solely to blame? It's time to wade into the problem in THE END IS NAIAD!

Apr 25 - May 01
A musician is forced to leave her home city of Dassalora permanently after inadvertently causing a riot. She turns to you for help clearing her name: the Council may be willing, but they have other problems to solve. In BARD FOR LIFE, see if you can help her return to fame!

May 02 - May 08
A noble believes his harvest will be the realm's finest, and has invited the king to stay. But, some say as punishment for hubris, a cockatrice now ravages his lands. You are called in: can you find the cockatrice's vulnerability and save the visit in COUNT, YOUR CHICKENS?

May 09 - May 15
The rules of troll fights are intricate and hard for humans - and then there's their strength. But now a huge young lady from from the hill clans demands your village beat her fairly on the village green or give her a husband. Will you play fair when BRAWLING A MAIDEN OGRE?

May 16 - May 22
The great bird has come to your mountain realm. It carries off the great markhors and elephants, and threatens all the herds of the kingdom. You must find a way to save the region's wildlife by travelling to the barren, rocky mountaintops in BETWEEN A ROC AND A HARD PLACE.

May 23 - May 29
You'd expected Devils to be hellish, enforcers of rules. You hadn't expected them to be so parochial. A carnival of demonic evil would be one thing: standing in perfect, recorded line to play hoop-la for your soul is somehow worse. Can you survive A FETE WORSE THAN DEATH?

May 30 - Jun 05
The Monster tears - again - a rift between Daevic and Mortal realms, unleashing curses into both. As you investigate, you find the source of its pain and realise why it it cannot rest. Can you find a way for it to exist at peace? Test your heart in THE BEAST OF BOTH WORLDS.

Jun 06 - Jun 12
The trail is cold: Geralt's investigation of a curse in scrolls and notes is fruitless. But the first witcher who took the contract is missing & could have seen more: perhaps finding him is Geralt's only hope in A WITCHER IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS.

Jun 13 - Jun 19
At the Grand Archery Tournament, a stray arrow that missed the target has shot Prince Muskwort, who is critically ill. The archer uses his own distinctive arrows... but he and the crowd swear he was facing the other way. What's the truth? Find out in HIT OR MYSTERY.

Jun 20 - Jun 26
A fae message comes from Orion, King of the Hunt. Against Forest Law, he refused to kill a magic talking stag he loved but was fated to slay: it lives wounded and hidden. The breach of law would tear the fae court apart. You, an outsider, must decide who is left HARTBROKEN.

Jun 27 - Jul 03
Rebellion and civil war loom. One last social event, the Dance of Summer Moths, will bring partisan lords together: the Great Temple wants YOU to host it & avert all-out war.

Expect intrigue, romance, murder: how you react is crucial, because THE BALL IS IN YOUR COURT.


Jul 04 - Jul 10
A fad for demon possession? You can't believe your ears, but the archmage nods. Locked in their tower, mages hunger for anything that gives strong feelings: and demonic anger is truly strong. What can men do against such reckless hate? It's ALL THE RAGE right now, after all.

Jul 11 - Jul 17
The story of Icarus' death and the wax on his wings is well known, but is that all there was to it? Having discovered Daedalus' notes you realise Icarus was never meant to land safely - and that you must journey to the sky yourself to find the truth in LIKE FATHER, LIKE SUN.

Jul 18 - Jul 24
You are in Saruman's retinue in Isengard. You've been told to oversee work in Fangorn.

A promotion? ...or is someone getting you out of the way? You might very well think that, but the events of I COULDN'T POSSIBLY CALM ENTS will determine your survival.


Jul 25 - Jul 31
A team of Dwarven thugs are operating in broad daylight in your outpost town: worse, they have a signed order from King Bhelen's governor giving them wholly free rein for whatever they wish to do. Stop their plans and expose corruption in CARTA BLANCHE!

Aug 01 - Aug 07
You dreamt of being Chosen by a god as a scarred urchin on the streets. Now it's happened! But... rather than the great war or death gods you've been Chosen by Aheria, Goddess of Beauty. Where fashion sense is sacred, tread a path from sacking to silks in BLESSED TO IMPRESS.

Aug 08 - Aug 14
Cave lions as a rule don't come into the cities, but folk in Krahlek keep hearing them. When you investigate, it turns out this isn't just a wildlife problem and that the merchant guild is involved - and that it may not be clear who to side with, in DOING A ROARING TRADE.

Aug 15 - Aug 21
A silvered blade: it strikes fear, and also a lot of sharp metal, into the heart of monsters. But the anvil that made them is lost. There's one upside: that gives YOU a shot at real glory. Venture to the clouded isles and find the forge where EVERY SWORD HAS A SILVER LINING!

Aug 22 - Aug 28
The city-states of the Autumn Isles are a political tinderbox. A priest relays to you a divine command: to help two lovers from rival cities to elope. But far from calming things, this may ignite the flame of war... defy the gods or risk slaughter in A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN.

Aug 29 - Sep 04
The people of Lyrendorf are terrified of the Myrken Woods, where dryads wander and folk hear chanting under the moon. But now the Woods are sick - and the same illness threatens the harvest. To save either side, you must get both to work together in ALL BARK AND NO BLIGHT.

Sep 05 - Sep 11
You're fey creatures, and a human has wandered through a portal to your realm. He looks exhausted and sad, avoids talking & refuses aid. The Fairy Queen Siannura gives YOU the task of helping him learn to hope again and become a hero. It won't be easy to TEACH A MAN TO WISH.

Sep 12 - Sep 18
During the mage rebellion, a hunter comes across a wrecked shrine and the aftermath of a summoning gone wrong: he flees with the dead wizard's valuable supplies. An old templar and a desperate apostate are on his tail, though, in NO CHANTRY FOR OLD MEN.

Sep 19 - Sep 25
Dragons navigate by scent: when the king orders you to catch the Green Wyrm of the Hills, mixing a dragon-breath like gas lure is your best bet. But keeping the alchemical mix stable will be hard & while you stake it out you'll be vulnerable, in A WAIT WITH BAITED BREATH.

Sep 26 - Oct 02
The dead are rarely called on as heroes. But Sir Hordavan cannot be buried until he completes his list of side-quests: he is clearly no longer able. His will names you as champions in the event of his death... descend into the Deep Caves & finish his work in SIX FEATS UNDER!

Oct 03 - Oct 09
What dark deeds linger with those who one fought the Darkspawn? Are you willing to tear memories from the dead to find out? Few Wardens get marked graves... so you, and a troubling mage companion, venture to the Deep Roads to find the SHADES OF GREY.

Oct 10 - Oct 16
A flesh golem, brought to life by great lighting rods, is being hailed as a miracle of a new scientific age and the bringer of perfect truth. But you suspect the creature is being manipulated into parroting messages from a secret cult: can you change its tune in VOLT FACE?

Oct 17 - Oct 23
The town's household spirits are disappearing, sneaking off to standing stones, up old trees and down crumbling wells. What draws them there? What links these locations? An adventurer like you will be needed to examine THE BROWNIE POINTS and find out... before it's too late.

Oct 24 - Oct 30
Due to a problematic legal technicality and an army from its own eukaryotic kingdom, the Grand Overfungus now rules the Kingdom of Soko. You can't risk all-out war: you must persuade the Overfungus to leave before Soko is awash with mushrooms in WHEN IT REIGNS, IT SPORES.

Oct 31 - Nov 06
They believed it useless. A revenant too big to lurk in the dark, too slow to evade the witch-hunter's torch. Abandoned by its undead kin, it lay born of undeath's hubris.

But now the WIGHT ELEPHANT is back. It trumpets vengeance on the deathless: but the living fear too...


Nov 07 - Nov 13
Phoenix feathers are rumoured to have a thousand magical uses: but none in this age has ever stored a full feather and survived the bird's rage long enough to study it. Can your team be the first to return one to the alchemy guild? Burn your way to glory in in TAILBLAZER!

Nov 14 - Nov 20
The siege of Taraness drags on after years, due to a curious problem: the city keeps magically moving around the attackers! In the siege camp, you've towers and weapons but little hope: can you come up with a plan & capture the city? Have you tried TURNING IT OFT, AN ONAGER?

Nov 21 - Nov 27
Cantankerous Sir Kay was never friendly with young Sir Gareth - but tricking the former kitchen servant turned knight into being indebted to him seems a bit harsh. Can you help Gareth out and solve the intergenerational dramas of Camelot in OWE KAY, BEAUMAINS?

Nov 28 - Dec 04
Food delivery, a Viziman noble's new fad: but now a Witcher is called. A man is dead: insectoid monster eggs, ready to hatch, were snuck into the food parcels! Team up with a sorceress in training to get cake delivered safely in KIKIMORES DELIVERY SERVICE!

Dec 05 - Dec 11
A wealthy noble has had some items stolen - he won't say what, but still wants you to find them. You find they have been fed to mimics - but why and what secrets do they hold? Discover the answer in GET IT OFF YOUR CHEST.

Dec 12 - Dec 18
The ferocious Snowbound Order of Nuns lets no initiate leave their ice-monastery: but an old friend was, while habitually drunk, tricked into the magical joining ritual, and is desperate to flee. She sneaks a message to you: can you help her escape, so she can KICK THE HABIT?

Dec 19 - Dec 25
Midwinter brings a mysterious stranger with a set of musical instruments to the castle door. She hails from a land of burning sand, and wishes to find her way home, granting you three wishes for doing so. Can you find the true spirit of generosity in THE DJINN GIRL'S BELLS?

Dec 26 - Jan 01
A carpet merchant hires you to track down goblinoids who stole his stock - but they've fled into the Caves of Frost Eternal. You must fight not only the beasts but the cold too as you build a camp in the frosty tunnels! Can you be...
AS SNUG THERE AS A BUGBEAR IN A RUG LAIR?

 



 


And that's your lot! Happy New Year, dear reader, and I hope this bout of silliness has added some joy to a world that always needs more of it. Take care, let me know in the comments what quest you'll be doing on your birthday, and have a wonderful 2022!

6
Announcements! The Town Crier! / Updates from the Forge 44: New Year 2022
« on: January 01, 2022, 07:04:29 PM »
Issue 44: Winter 2021-22

EDITORIAL

Happy midwinter, one and all! Your regular editor Leafly is currently having a break, so you're back to yours truly, Jubal, and the imaginary editorial llama, to bring you this issue of Updates from the Forge.

We've had so many major bits of news demanding their own posts in the meantime that it's hard to know what's left for the newsletter in some ways - in particular, we can congratulate our very own Tusky on the successful release of Tourney: The Medieval Tournament Simulator, a game that allows you to create your own medieval tourney grounds with a wide array of different objectives and a fun little storyline. We've also announced our second Coding Medieval Worlds workshop after the success of the first last February, and had some new content out including an autumnal riddles article.

In other site news, we've got a new policy on Non-Fungible Tokens, which you can find details of here. In short, Exilian's voting members have decided that we will not be supporting NFT-based projects for the foreseeable future, as a result of the environmental and cultural negative impacts of the technology.

Finally, make sure you remember to enter our winter creative competition, this year on the theme Winter Sunset and judged by friends of Exilian, conservator and podcaster Jenny Mathiasson and author & game writer Victoria Corva! We're looking forward to releasing the showcase of everyone's works in a month or so.

And without further ado, onto the Updates themselves...

CONTENTS:

  • Editorial
  • Game Development
    • Halloween Mode in Son of a Witch
    • Infinitas Zero Hour: Shein's Revenge and Tulathrone
    • Wonderdraft: Making Fantasy Maps
  • Arts & Writing
    • Missives from a Fallen City: Audio Drama by Jubal
    • Tales from Infinitas
  • Miscellany
    • What've you been playing?

GAME DEV

Halloween Mode in Son of a Witch



Bigosaur's four player beat 'em up roguelike, Son of a Witch, now has a special Halloween mode! Available to replace the main game, the mode is automatically activated during Hallowe'en each year, and at other times of year can be accessed via the /hwon and/hwoff console codes in the character select screen. Son of Witch's Hallowe'en includes a number of changes - more skeletons, ghostly skins for regular enemies, and a significantly more direct route to hell than in the standard game. This seasonal mode, besides being a fun tweak for the time of year, will also thus be great for achievement hunters seeking those all too difficult wins against the bosses of hell. Check it out!




Infinitas Zero Hour: Shein's Revenge and Tulathrone

BagaturKhan's Command and Conquer: Zero Hour modding and maps, created by him and DarkkozDarka, present his massive World of Infinitas project in game format. These especially challenging maps for veteran players are designed to present the challenges and dangers of the Infinitas setting in a fully interactive way, and there are two new recently released maps for CnC: Zero Hour fans to have a go at.


The first of these is Revenge of Shein, in which you as President Zanzibhar Shein must take on the pro-Acheronian forces of the rebellious General Shului to avert a catastrophic civil war in the Nargon Republic. Meanwhile, in Death of Tulothrone, a rogue AI a million years old has awakened and seeks to complete its mission to subvert technological systems and destroy all organic life in its path. Only you can stop it in its tracks and save yourself and the folk on which Tulothrone seeks to wreak bloody havoc.

Try these and more via BagaturKhan's Exilian thread for the Infinitas Zero Hour project!





Wonderdraft: Making Fantasy Maps


Spritelady has recently been sharing her experiences and tips on using the fantasy mapping software Wonderdraft, which she's found useful in creating a range of maps for TTRPG campaigns. Its features like being able to cycle through a range of preset symbols when painting, generation tools for landmasses, and easy area-paints make it ideal for creating certain map types, and Spritelady's thread takes us through the details of how some of the magic is done.

Do head over and join the discussion: do you use this, or other software for map generation? Do you have hints and tips to share or questions to ask? A cartographic world - or possibly quite a few of them - await...




ARTS AND WRITING


Missives from a Fallen City: Drama by Jubal

In the world of Failbetter Games' Fallen London, men with the faces of squid roam the streets, the waves of the Unterzee lap upon London's darkened shores, and factions from the Ministry of Public Decency to the Rooftop Urchins and even Hell itself vie for advantage in the fallen city. From that world comes Jubal's Missives From A Fallen City - a fifteen minute audiodrama of torrid romance, arson, ambulatory fungi, and cake! When Maisourias Sponderwick, Esq., gentleman of negotiable action, calls upon the heiress Astrabella C. Willoughby, all seems to be set for a tale of possibly-forbidden lust and excessive asjustment of moustaches. This is Fallen London, though, and here, everybody has secrets...

Through thirteen letters of Astrabella, Maisourias, and their acquaintances, uncover their tale, have a listen and give some feedback!





Tales from Infinitas

BagaturKhan's Infinitas universe is having increasing numbers of tales available to read on Exilian with the release of the Tale about the Doge Bertolino and his wonderful house-pet and the continuing process of translating the immense story Revenge Of Tyrants - Darkness Is Coming from its original Russian. These stories, with wide arrays of nations and characters, deal with politics, love, and war across a universe of stories epic in scale. From the fate of the huge stellar Empire of Hyborea to the majesty of giant battle salamanders and the question of whether a kettle can have a soul, there's a great deal to be found in the Infinitas tales - good reading for a dark winter's evening, perhaps?



MISCELLANY


What've you been playing?

It's rare to find someone who makes games without appreciating playing them too, and a good place to see what fellow Exilians have been playing and join in with discussions and inspiration is the Exilian Arcade, our forum area for general gaming discussion. Threads on Wildermyth, the Witcher series, Dragon Age, and other popular games are hubs to share ideas, tips, and thoughts about those games and gain new perspectives on them. Learning more and sharing thoughts can be really important for sparking fresh creativity - and is also just a fun way to get to know folk and find new ideas about your favourite games.

Meanwhile, feel free to post about what you've been playing or ask for recommendations - there may well be an Exilian member out there who has the perfect idea for what games you'll love to play in future.





2021 wasn't an easy year around the world, and 2022 will doubtless have its own uncertainties. There is always hope to come, though, and even the passage of sunsets are promises of dawns not yet broken. Through all these issues we'll be here on Exilian, running virtual meetups and competitions, providing space to chat and listen, and hopefully building the space for creativity and geekery that's often so needed and hard to find in difficult times. We look forward to having you with us on another year of that journey - happy new year, dear reader, with sincere hope that 2022 is kind to you.



7
General Chatter - The Boozer / Happy Solstice
« on: December 21, 2021, 10:25:12 PM »


A day to remember that the sun returns, always. Happy solstice, friends :)

8
Creative Competition: Winter Sunset
 

Dreamy Pixel, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

It's time for one of our ongoing series of creative competitions, where we challenge members and friends to come up with the best creative response to a particular theme! This winter, the theme is WINTER SUNSET - it may be a time of great beauty, or a moment of encroaching darkness, a chance to rest by the fire or to light a blaze to guard against the cold. It is a time of turning, and we're looking forward to seeing how you approach it!



The rules are as follows:
1. Produce your entry. It can be a game,artwork, story, poem, recipe,  rules supplement, sculpture, dance piece, music, whatever - any sort of creative response to the theme.
2. PM your entry (or a link thereto) to Jubal, and post in this thread to say you've put your entry in. Entries that don't have both the post and PM in will not be considered, and you must not post your entry publicly during the contest (so as to ensure judging is name-blind).
3. Each person is allowed up to two entries.
4. Entries must be in by 23:59, January 31, 2022.
5. The judges will score each work out of ten on two grounds: how good a response to the prompt it was, and how well executed the result was.
6. Winners will be announced by or before February 15. All entries will then be posted in a public showcase.



PRIZES

Main Prize:
1x copy of TOURNEY, the Medieval Tournament Simulator by Tusky Games
1x copy of SON OF A WITCH, the beat 'em up fantasy roguelike by Bigosaur
1x original song on a topic of your choice to be written by Jubal

If you'd like to donate a prize and thereby sponsor the competition, please get in touch :)


THE JUDGES

Jenny Mathiasson is a conservator, creative, heritage enthusiast, artist, podcaster, and freelancer. Originally from Sweden, she has worked as a museum conservator across the UK and is currently based in Wales. Armed with a love of archaeology and a no. 15 scalpel blade she hosts conservators' podcast The C Word, as well as being an artist and crafter as the need and inspiration arises. You can find more links about her and her work here.

Victoria Corva, alias the Crow Witch, is an audiobook narrator, author, twitch streamer and game writer. Producing, as their website puts it, "writing with warmth and weirdness", their stories include the small town libraries-and-necromancy fantasy Books and Bone and the queer portal-fantasy Non-Player Character. They put their narration skills to delightful public use regularly when streaming narrative RPGs regularly on twitch, and their game outputs include the interactive fiction game Wyrden and the Tabletop RPG Kin. You can find more about all of their work on their website.

9
General Chatter - The Boozer / Christmas Pub?
« on: December 14, 2021, 11:53:37 AM »
Would anyone be interested in a virtual pub on, say, the 29th? Probably a bit shorter than usual, like an hour or two, but it could be nice to see people. We may well not have the numbers this time, though, I guess.

10
General Chatter - The Boozer / Playing with an AI fantasy art app
« on: December 05, 2021, 10:27:32 PM »
So, I saw people on Twitter playing with the web app Wombo which attempts to produce AI-made art in various styles, so I had a go at some fantasy stuff. Some thoughts:

  • Like a lot of AI, it really can't do people, because whilst it can see pictures with people in or has some in its data banks, it can't link them to a concept or understand what the necessary features of one are.
  • It does landscape far better, presumably because that can be a bit choppier without issue
  • When I did the "Fens of Serraty" from my own setting, I got something much more akin to modern East Anglian fenland: I blame the disappointing under-use of fens in fantasy settings (it's probably safter than simply blaming the Dutch, for one thing...).
  • It must be trained or possibly actively train itself on e.g. a google search dataset or similar. Like, the Solas picture might not be a picture of Solas from Dragon Age, but it's one that makes it very clear that some picture or pictures of him were fed into it
  • It's quite good at "vibe" even if not much else: Sparta is blue skied and square in buildings, the elf city has hints of towers etc
  • Having checked, the same prompt creates different images every time, not repeats.
  • I was amused that the spoof name Gilbert of the Riviera came out better than Geralt of Rivia for pictures of Witchers I asked it to do.

Anyway, feel free to share your own amusments :)


11
Stories and AARs / Missives from a Fallen City
« on: November 28, 2021, 04:18:46 PM »
Missives from a Fallen City
A Fiction set in Fallen London


Missive 1.

By the presentation of this Calling Card, it is hereby CONFIRMED that you have been the subject of a visit by the honourable Mr. Maisourias SPONDERWICK, Esquire, Gentleman Scholar and Man of Negotiable Action! Please find overleaf the details of the address of the heretoforesaid.



Missive 2.

Dear Sir,

I was interested to receive your calling card, which, while unsolicited, was not unwelcome. I would be intrigued to make your further acquaintance and discuss with you a number of queries regarding a manuscript I am currently putting pen to – though my desk, alas and as you can tell from the stains, is a mess of paper, candles, and cake-crumbs (the latter not for myself, you must understand – it is a preferred delicacy of a certain small companion in solitude).

With all due felicitations,

Astrabella Cyclamen Willoughby



Missive 3.

Dear Miss Cyclamen Willoughby,

I was enchanted to receive your missive of the fifteenth, and grateful furthermore for the verbal felicitations passed on by your man. I shall attend to you at the time and place proposed, and look forward to your company. I understand from your man, too, that as alluded to, you have the acquaintance of a Blemmigan: whilst I am unfamiliar with the creatures, I shall endeavour to avail myself of some of the requested foodstuffs prior to your company.

With dutiful wishes,

Mr. Maisourias Sponderwick



Missive 4.

Astrabella –

The butler informs me that you have been entertaining a man who is at best a mercenary and at worst a ruffian. I write to remind you of your station. The time you openly suggested employing one of the rubbery men has not been forgotten, and that accursed creature you keep feeding cake to continues to be a stain on both the family and every scrap of paper it leaks fungal matter onto. In my book, and my book is a tome of not inconsiderable proportions, this new foolery is worse than either. This dalliance will cease immediately.

Johnston V. Willoughby



Missive 5.

To Mr. Sponderwick,

Your concerns about the ethics of the duty imposed upon you by the Ministry of Public Decency have not been noted, because they are irrelevant. We are the ethics of this city, and your failure to appreciate that fact does you, sir, little credit.

Your commission in regard to the Willoughby family remains in force and unchanged.

Sincerely,

Petty Mid-Sergeant Oliver Caxton
M.P.D.



Missive 6.

Dear Mr. Sponderwick,

I fear you may have been under some delusions as to the conclusions of our previous meeting, given your earnest entreaties for further company at the end. I have indeed been informed under no uncertain terms that I am to cease seeking your company, and so I am writing to inform you that under no circumstances shall I possibly be meeting you again, and that the rear glasshouse door will not be unlocked at eleven o’clock tomorrow night in order to facilitate this.

With cordial wishes,

Astrabella C. Willoughby

P.S. Its name is not Gertrude, it is Gratitude. Do get it right next time.



Missive 7.

Dear Astrabella (if I may),

My pen quivers close to the paper as I seek to write to you after our encounter in the glass-house, yet I know not how to put to words the marvels you showed me there.

The fruit revealed amid your vines was sweeter than the fabled gardens of Babylon, Astrabella. The beauty of the stars, the war of the stars, that raged between the honeyed physalis and the ungentle fruit-picker amid your plants: it shall be emblazoned onto my mind as the dreams of Solomon. Did he not, thus fevered, pluck by night the Queen of Sheba’s garden? Or do I merely project my hopes upon that sage, whose wisdom I have abandoned for the madness of the serpent’s blissful apple? Give me your leaves that I may part them to find the sweetness within, give me your flowers that I may rip them from the creeper and scatter the petals across every moment of your being. Give me your pomegranates, love, that I may sink myself forever into any hell you care to name.

I am, respectfully or disrespectfully as you choose, wholly your

Maisourias Sponderwick

P.S. Upon our next encounter, I shall also bring more cake for Gratitude.   



Missive 8.

Dear Astrabella,

I surmise both from the lack of response to my last letter, and the medium sized blunderbuss pointed at me by a most ungentlemanly underservant when I last stopped in your neighbourhood, that I am not, at present, welcome at your residence. This was doubly unfortunate because in my haste to retreat from my gun-wielding adversary I dropped Gratitude’s cake. I pray this is not your doing, and determine to try and meet you again as soon as may be possible.

I am wretched, dear queen, for want of you. The white of your dress I wish only to mar, the smooth flow of your hair only to ravage, the bonds around your slender frame to tear. Your sunlight fills the leaves of my humble weed and leaves me with strength to reach up to your rays that fall upon me from above. I pray to know them again, my Astrabella, my Cyclamen, if you grant me the clemency of your feet upon my earth, your high towers above the lips of my armies. Answer the prayer that lies in my hand and eye upon your countenance.

I am your prisoner, and all the walls of your abode are my chains. Release me from them and I promise you that you shall want not for fond memories of the glasshouse.

Mais



Missive 9.

To my Maisourias,

Father has barred all of the doors in the house to prevent my exit. I do not recommend visiting, though it pains me with every beat of my heart to say so. I shall attempt to smuggle this letter out with one of my maids in the hope that it can reach you. My attempts at writing continue, though my room is filled only with a fury of paper, half-dry scraps that I cannot burn only because too many of them carry your name written a hundred fevered times.

I finally received your last two letters, which I greatly appreciated, though you must believe me when I say that no damnable metaphors about fruit will sate the extent of my feelings. With your absence, my fingers clutch at empty air where your shirt should be wrapped around them, my nails digging into my palms, bereft of the breadth of your shoulders where they seek to sink themselves. My hair is unpulled, my form unstretched upon the floor; I am unconquered and unsullied. And yet, still, here I lie with my legs entangled in sheets that I wish could take the name of Mr. Maisourias Sponderwick, speaking your name amidst beautiful curses to the darkling night.

Seek no fruit of the glass-house from me, Mr. Sponderwick. I have only fire for you here.

And I would burn all that I know and knew rather than spend this life empty.

A.C.W

P.S. Gratitude sends greetings. Or at least some sort of vaguely fungal leakage.



Missive 10.

Sweet Cyclamen,

I write to you, today, not to woo but to warn. And, drat it, to confess.

The Ministry of Public Decency, with threats of suspicion and scandal, engaged a desperate man some months ago to investigate – and then to eliminate – the current holders of the Willoughby estate. That man is no more, though… I still bear his name and face, and shame far greater than any they could pin upon me.

My handlers have grown both restless and careless. They come to me with more threats to myself, but it is the threats to you that I find myself fearing ever the more. My nightmares of a cold cliff edge seem to whisper of you, the zunless zea rolls your name into its waters, more precious than moon-pearls – and that but the name of you, the unimaginable echo of the realities of every startled breath that still wisps over my collarbone by candlelight. 

I no longer care what the Ministry may do to me: I must ensure your safety personally, and get you away from the vile Scylla and Charybdis between which we find ourselves. Love me or hate me, Cyclamen, as you will, but I cannot see you suffer. I shall come to your residence by moonlight, though hell should bar the way.

I have never been a man for prayers, but I offer many that this reaches you swiftly.

Maisourias

P.S. Tell Gratitude that I have never met a finer fungus.



Missive 11.

Dear Mr. Sponderwick,

By this letter I confirm that your situational obligation has been discharged. Our observers noted that you appear to have entered the Willoughby residence through the roof at one o’clock on Thursday morning, and that shortly thereafter a fire started: due to every door in the house being barred and the servants not being present, there were no escapees of the resulting blaze excepting your own retreat through your means of entry. This had the politically useful effect of making the family’s removal appear to be a domestic accident: we commend you for your efficacy on behalf of the Ministry in this regard.

We advise you to stay away from the public funerals that will be held for Mr. Johnston Willoughby and his daughter Astrabella, in order to avoid further questions being raised.

We hereby confirm you have no further direct obligations to us beyond those the law customarily demands, and wish you a pleasant remainder of your stay in London.

Sincerely,

Petty Mid-Sergeant Oliver Caxton
M.P.D.



Missive 12.

Dear Mr. Sponderwick,

I suppose it must seem strange, after five months, receiving a letter from a dead woman. As you know, however, I have never had a great interest in propriety, and I have little intention of beginning now.

I should apologise for misleading you as to the events after I threw the candle at my stack of writing-notes and at father. I was aware upon receiving your missive that the Ministry would not look kindly upon your attempting to save my life: a friend among the rubbery men was able to procure a young lady’s sadly deceased frame from the alleys of Spite, which occupied my place during the fire: as to myself, suffice it to say that you shall learn the truth in course – should you wish.

You have my understanding if you do not reply to this missive. Much seems outlandish here, and this perhaps not the least among it. My only regrets are any pain I may have caused your good person, and that I am still uncertain what happened to Gratitude. Do keep a look-out for him if you can.

I remain, if you wish, your

Cyclamen


Missive 13.

[This piece of paper has no words on it, and was recovered from a dead-letterbox near Ladybones Road.  It has, however, a number of trails of fungal slime: they appear to form the shape of a piece of cake.]






Author's notes: this piece was written for the University of Vienna creative writing society's fanfiction evening this semester: it's based on the game Fallen London. An audio version read by the author is available here.

12
General Chatter - The Boozer / November Pub tonight!
« on: November 25, 2021, 06:32:47 PM »
Sorry, thought I'd posted this as a thread but apparently it skipped my mind, I've spent most of the past month ill so please do forgive me!

We'll be at the usual link, if you don't have it just drop me a message or reply here :)

14
Announcements! The Town Crier! / Our NFTs Policy
« on: November 17, 2021, 05:03:02 PM »
NFTs: Why We're Not Supporting Them

As many of you will be aware, there has been a recent boom in the use of non-fungible token blockchain technologies. These technologies offer unique digital signatures, which can be used to authenticate sales of individual items. However, there are numerous concerns around their use. The fact that they only usually offer a verified unique link to a piece of intellectual property, not the unique right to use that property, often causes intentional misunderstanding about the nature of the goods and rights being bought. There are also intellectual property concerns around the minting of NFTs for properties that the NFT minters do not necessarily own.

Besides these concerns, there are also problems with the environmental impact of NFTs, with current technologies and even their replacements proving significantly higher in energy usage than conventional methods of authenticating sales. A single proof-of-work transation on the Etherium system commonly used for these transactions requires enough power to serve a household for two days, or drive a car 150 miles, producing thirty kilograms of CO2 emissions at a time of climate crisis.

As of today, we are acting on those concerns: Exilian's voting members have unanimously endorsed the position that Exilian does not support the use of NFT technologies. This means that as of today we will not be providing newsletter space, social media plugs, article slots, and other resources to promoting those technologies or any projects that use them. We will additionally be taking into account companies' NFT usage and policy when commissioning or purchasing services on Exilian's behalf, and avoiding where at all possible providing income to companies that are using these technologies.

We on Exilian's staff are committed to ensuring that we uphold our public interest goals as an organisation, and to keeping members democratically in the driving seat: we've done both here, with a considered discussion and multiple viewpoints raised among voting members along the way. We think our aim to inform the public and members on topics related to creative projects makes it important that we raise awareness of the problems with NFTs and their impacts.

We hope that you'll support us - and as ever we're happy to answer any questions. You can find the motion passed by our voting members here.

Jubal (Megadux/Basileus)

15
Preliminary discussion here. Vote will last a week, simple majority to pass, text of the motion as follows.


The plaza moves:

1.
a) That Exilian recognises the increasing use of Non-Fungible Token (NFT) blockchain technologies in the creative sector, and their use as systems to authenticate ownership of products or artworks via unique encrypted tokens existing across a distributed server infrastructure.
b) That Exilian believes that there are a number of severe problems with the expansion of NFT usage, and that these combined with the rapidity of increases in usage make it necessary to adopt a formal statement of policy regarding NFT use.
c) That we recognise that Non-Fungible Token technologies have a serious environmental impact: a single minting or transaction process can produce over thirty of kilos of CO2 emissions, equivalent to driving over 150 miles in a car or powering a household for two days.
d) That we believe the aims of non-fungible token technologies to decentralise authentication have not been effectively realised, leading to a high risk of complex legal cases over ownership that are difficult to prove.
e) That we recognise that the minting of NFTs often leads people to erroneously believe they are being granted particular rights that they do not have regarding the intellectual property, leading to a high risk of scams and mis-sold tokens.

2.
a) That, as a result of the points in section one, we resolve not to actively provide support for Non-Fungible Token technologies.
b) That this shall include not including projects using these technologies in newsletters, promoting these projects via social media, or publishing official pieces supporting or advertising NFT usage.
c) That Exilian shall, where possible, avoid the use of paid services from companies that make heavy use of NFT technologies, and that this shall be taken into consideration when reviewing and selecting services used on behalf of Exilian.
d) That the above shall not in any way preclude open discussion of these topics or projects using them via Exilian.
e) That the above restrictions shall not apply to any non-fungible token technology that can clearly show its negative environmental impact is lower than using conventional authentication methods.

3.
a) That staff members should, when acting in that staff capacity and on behalf of the site, verbally support the above guidelines given by the Plaza.
b) That this must particularly be the case when using official Exilian mouthpieces such as social media accounts.

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