2022/06/21

Playing with Fantasy XXXIV

Fantasy thoughts.
  • Wrath of the Righteous is better gameplay-wise than Kingmaker, but not as fun. You get mounts, new races like dhampirs, and new classes like bloodrager and oracle, but several of your companions are scumbags, and/or almost impossible not to have die, and the whole last part of the midgame takes place in the Abyss, which is about as pleasant as it sounds.

    Also Nenio's companion questline is a pain in the ass (fortunately in between you do get some very funny interactions with her). On the other hand (I guess we have four), Arueshelae is the best romance in either game (both the other girls are psychopaths, and there are serious issues with all the female romance options in either game, besides Aru—the only other one as good as Aru is Tristian, and I don't play female characters).
  • Decided my dwarven gods will be combined with my gnomish gods, which gives them nice long names as gnomes are wont to have. Or, mostly; I might have to rework a few in order to combine them. See, two of the dwarf gods are a married couple, two of the gnome gods are twins. Have to pick one or the other, it's not "that" kind of pantheon.
  • Hmm. If Gigantopithecus (male) is 551 pounds and 9 feet 11 inches, to a male orangutan's 191 pounds and 4 feet 6 inches, then it follows that a human-based giant (male 152 pounds and 5 feet 8 inches, female 119 pounds and 5 feet 3 inches) would be 12 feet 6 inches tall for a male and 11 feet 7 inches for the female.

    Just taking the ratio of human weight to orangutan weight seems to make a creature much too light, although Gigantopithecus is a lot lighter for its weight than an orangutan. 438 pounds for a 12 foot 6 inch male and 343 pounds for an 11 foot 7 inch female comes to BMIs of 13.7 and 12.5. But then again, Gigantopithecus has a BMI of 27.4 to an orangutan's 46.

    What this presumably means is I can easily have a Large-sized ogre without having to worry much about the square-cube law, and then I can have Large fire giants (giant gnome-dwarves) and Huge frost and hill giants (giant elves and humans), by using pneumatic muscle.
  • I really need to rework my giantish, though I think I'll keep the Zentraedi-based phonology and just improve the grammar. (Before it had isolating grammar, which is generally what I do when I'm feeling lazy.) Given Zentraedi proper seems to work like English (e.g. masa, "lord", is before names, while genitives come after what they modify as seen in emyulata mbwagh "alien emulator"), I might have Giantish work like Japanese. Which means I can form a lot of polite forms and stuff by compounding base roots with auxiliaries, e.g. the -imasu ending was originally a verb meaning "humbly travel to/from a place (and then do something)".

    Might also enhance my Draconic with plural marking like that in Dovahzul, but different. Namely, I might have it preface a pluralized noun with a vowel and geminate the first consonant, where Dovahzul pluralizes with geminated final consonant followed by e (e.g. the plural of mey "fool" is meyye). Might have the vowel in the plural prefix be an echo vowel of the stem one, though, or maybe one for some vowels and a different one for others, i.e. (a limited form of) vowel harmony. Might actually have pluralization optional and have it be applicable to proper nouns, where it actually means "and company", the way the (very optional) plural marker in Japanese does.
  • My Austronesian-alignment ("symmetrical voice", though I would've called it "voice-split ergativity") Dwarven-Gnomish has a radically simplified version of that alignment. The direct case is the agent of intransitive verbs, the patient of passive-voice verbs, and the agent and patient of active-voice verbs (distinguished by word-order), with the indirect/oblique case as the agent of passive-voice verbs. (An old name for ergative alignment was "passive", and it really does help to think of a sentence as being in passive when composing it in an ergative language, like my Elven.)

    I think I'll do like many Polynesian languages and use active (accusative) voice for verbs of "perception, emotion, and communication", and then passive (ergative) voice for most other transitive verbs. The indirect case will also, I think, function as object-of-preposition (if you think of the ergative as "by [agent]" that's easy to keep consistent). I don't think I'll have ergative/passive voice imply definiteness, and accusative/active imply indefiniteness, like in Tagalog, though. Nor specificity like is a feature of some Polynesian languages, though that would—all proper nouns are specific by default—let me inflect proper nouns differently from common, like I wanna try in a conlang.
  • It also occurs to me I can use the intransitive voice with two direct-case nouns, to mean a causative—as in English, when if you use an intransitive verb like "run" ("we ran him out of town") or "rain" ("they rained artillery fire on the town") it actually means "caused to run" or "caused to rain".
  • Also thinking my Dwarven will use Hawaiian kinship (you may have noticed they're a bit Polynesian-y—I think I said, eons ago, that "dwarves as Polynesian, with mountains as islands" was a cool idea). What Hawaiian kinship means is that all relatives of your generation are siblings, all one generation older are parents, all one younger are children, etc.

    But, specifically (but apparently like many Polynesian languages), dwarven kinship marks relative age of same-generation relatives (all of whom are siblings). I.e. your cousin any number of times removed is your "brother" or "sister", but it specifies whether they are older "brother" or "sister", or younger.

    Another thing using Hawaiian kinship would mean is that instead of calling the friends of parents "uncle" or "aunt", you probably call them "mother" or "father". And, it occurs to me, where elves call the other gods of their divine parents' generation "aunt" and "uncle", except the goblins and dark elves who worship them call them "father" and "mother", the dwarves/gnomes would call them "father" and "mother", so the ogres/orcs and dark dwarves that replaced their divine parents use the same name for their respective deities as other dwarves.
  • Since I consolidated dwarves and gnomes, I think I can just have them become inevitables (with looser alignment requirements) when they die, and then reassign the kami somewhere else. Maybe to giants.

    Decided to add osyluths and some other fiend as political officers of fiendish factions, and then shadow demons and belier devils, as another group of fiends, that possess people. Also have nabasu and vrolikai doing what they do.

    Still gotta figure out what to do overall with rakshasas, oni, sahkils, psychopomps, archons, asuras, aeons, qlippoths, and maybe couatls. One of them is becoming the spidery law-spirits, but which, I don't know yet.

2022/04/27

Playing with Fantasy XXXIII

Icosahedral fantastication thoughts.
  • Thinking I'll give dwarves back the Hardy racial trait, since several feat lines require it.
  • I had lost vowel-length in Dwarven, owing to the desire to keep it orthographically simple, which is why I did away with plural forms, but I can actually use acute accents. See, I had had my old one, with long vowels, mark them with circumflexes, but now, with umlauts added, I can't do that—umlauts don't combine elegantly with circumflexes. (And Ŷ is weirdsville, even if I weren't exclusively using Y for consonants, and good luck putting a circumflex on Ø.) But I can do Ű and Ő, because they exist in Hungarian (and are frankly the most elegant method of writing those two sounds as long).

    Currently /y/ and /ø/, written ü and ö respectively, represent the common gender, of my Dwarven, because they're at the point of articulation of masculine /i/ and /e/ (written i and e, respectively) but are rounded like feminine /o/ and /u/ (written o and u). (The close vowels are animate, while the close-mid ones are personal.) Then I have neuter be with /a/, written a. I figure lengthening those will do just fine for plural (before I'd had long vowels in verb stems represent imperfect/frequentative and short represent perfect/momentaneous, but I decided not to bother with aspect in Dwarven).

    Also decided to go with not really either of my dwarven or gnomish script, but rework to make a new script. Still mostly hexagon based.
  • Apparently in Tagalog, at least, there is a distinction between the indirect and oblique cases (whoever named them should be slapped), with the indirect being the ergative in patient-focus verbs and the accusative in agent-focus ones, and the oblique being the dative and locative. In some other languages, though, the indirect and oblique are one case and the direct is another (I think they usually have genitives, too). Which is how my Dwarven does it. (I also call my voices active, middle, and passive, when really they should be agent-focus, intransitive, and patient-focus.)
  • I think, using a version of arcanist casting, you can have prepared casters prep a spell for each spell-per-day slot, but then have flexibility about how many of each they use (i.e. they prep one spell for each slot, but can spend any of their slots to cast any of the spells they've prepared, like super versatile spontaneous casters). Arcanists proper can only prepare as many spells in a day as sorcerers of their level would know, which among other things means they only get spells when their character level is twice the spell's level, as opposed to prepared casters' twice the level minus one. You can still have prepared casters do clerics' or druids' spontaneous casting, by the expedient of not having to prep cure wounds or summon nature's ally spells beforehand.

    Similarly specialist wizards have to use two of their flexible slots to cast spells from their opposition school, and spells can be prepped as being a slot higher, or metamagic can be applied on the fly as a full-round action like for sorcerers. Hmm, maybe let sorcerers apply metamagic on the fly by burning higher-level slots? That might be a bit broken though.

    I do kinda feel like just giving spontaneous casters the undercasting of psychic magic (which is also not used by PCs in my setting, just like hybrid classes) is probably not enough to make up the difference, but then again, wizards don't get special powers at 3rd, 9th, 15th, and 20th level, they only get them at 1st and 8th; clerics don't get nearly as many benefits from their domains as oracles get from their mysteries (and even their curses). Plus sorcerers get extra class skills and, while they get one fewer bonus feat than wizards, they get a lot more leeway in what it is, assuming they pick their bloodline appropriately. Oracles are honestly probably OP as it is but maybe give sorcerers the bloodline mutations at the appropriate level without their having to give up powers and bonus feats?
  • Decided to change my dwarf/gnome ethnicities so the ones that live underground have lavender or pink hair, and the ones on the surface have violet or crimson hair, and both have violet or crimson eyes. Then I think the subterranean ones will have yellow skin, and the surface ones orange, from carotenoid pigments in place of melanin (subterranean dwarves need it less).

    My orcs and ogres, meanwhile, are green, due to having a blue pigment along with a yellow one (several blue pigments are used in UV-blocking by some fungi and red algae, though in the latter they more commonly appear purple). They have bright red hair and eyes, which presumably comes from betalain (the pigment that gives the red coloring to beets and fly agaric).
  • Also changing my giants so the ones based on elves and humans are Huge, and the ones based on dwarf-gnomes are Large, thus making each two size-categories larger than its base race. The frost and wood giants based on elves can use some stats from taiga and maybe jungle giants, while the hill giants and cyclopes based on humans will use taiga giants and great cyclopes (but with the mental and magical characteristics of the smaller giants).
  • The gillmen and dark folk now have native-outsider ruling classes, like the other surviving thalassocratic Valyrians with their tieflings and elementals (and dhampirs, but that's not outsiders). Gillmen have (primarily evil) tritons, who in my setting are a mingling of mortal essence with that of aquatic fiends; and dark folk have fetchlings.

    Also the gillmen and tritons have 40 mm eyeballs, like a harbor seal (minus the blubber, a harbor seal is about the same size as a human). But where (I decided) elves have wider faces, to accommodate having bigger eyeballs (which makes them look younger, long skulls being a gerontomorphy), the aquatic mutant humans just have bulging eyes.
  • My dwarves will actually use both hammers and axes; I think I'll have it so they're proficient with battleaxes and warhammers, treat dwarven waraxes and sphinx hammers as martial weapons, and also live in a society with the "commonplace guns" level of availability. (Maybe they'll also be proficient in pistols, even if their class doesn't have martial proficiency?)
  • Maybe have halflings get a +2 to Wisdom, not Charisma? Or actually stat them as Small humans, with +2 Dex, -2 Str, and then +2 to any one ability score. Yeah that could work—you could waste your variable score on giving yourself no Strength penalty, for example.

    That's roughly what the Small version of a tiefling is, after all—just the size adjustments added onto the normal tiefling (if your tiefling subcategory includes a Dex bonus or a Str bonus, a Small version might be more than a little OP, frankly, since you're either as strong as a human at Small size or else you get +4 Dex).

2022/03/23

Come On, Shorty

Decided to consolidate dwarves and gnomes into one race, in my setting. They're redundant with each other; Paracelsus, who came up with gnomes as his earth "elementals", also called them pygmaeus—what that means to a Swiss German is left as an exercise for the student. Also as is pointed out in the TV Tropes article OurGnomesAreWeirder, the gnome in D&D is the dwarf from European folklore, the dwarf is the dwarf from Tolkien (usually via Warhammer, I would add). This also gives me a roughly human-sized "fairy" humanoid and a small one, like humans and halflings, without trying to wedge in the "human sized but weirdly proportioned" fifth wheel.

Decided to give them dwarf magic resistance (6 + HD), energy resistance 5 to both fire and acid, 120 ft. darkvision, and stonecunning, and the spell-like abilities I'd previously given dwarves, but also gnomes' ability score adjustments, obsessive trait, and keen senses. They have dwarves' weapon familiarity (hammers not axes, handguns, firearms are martial weapons), but use both the gnomes' mushrooms (particularly for armor) and the dwarves volcanic-pool algae (particularly for weapons). The rationale of that is that, while elves' gods are both the one tree, the dwarves' gods are fire and earth, two things that are more separate. Also dwarves make more stuff (although I guess this kinda makes the dwarves a lichen, a super rare rhodophyte-basidiomycete one). Maybe the dwarves can also make their algae weapons into the copper that harms neutral-aligned outsiders.

Decided they use largely dwarven language, which has the interesting effect of making all four of my protagonist cultures (elves, dwarves, inland Númenor, hydrocratic Púkel-men), except for halflings (who are an offshoot of the thalassocratic Valyrians), use a language inspired by Tolkien. I decided to take out plural forms and aspect distinctions in the verbal stems that both nouns and inflected verbs derive from, and just have three main verb paradigms: active/agent focus, passive/patient focus, middle/intransitive (in Austronesian alignment the important question is which noun that relates to the verb is in the direct case and which in the oblique one, and intransitive verbs only have a direct-case noun). Still haven't figured out which of their alphabets they'll use, Dwarven or Gnomish.

The gnomes were from the planet, but the dwarves that I consolidated gnomes into (and vice-versa) still come from one of the moons, which means I might have humanity have just grown up naturally, on the planet, unobserved by the more advanced lunar races because you can't see cavemen from orbit.

Not sure what to do about their coloration. Probably yellow structural coloring, in their skin, with phycoerythrin turning them various shades of orange, red, or pink. I thought I might have to give up on white dwarves and purple-haired gnomes but there are rhodophyte algae in basically every shade of red and magenta, up to dark lavender-violet with no red at all.

I struggled with what to do with orcs and ogres, if they should all be much bigger than their dwarf ancestors, but I hit on this: female orcs are gnome-sized (male and female gnomes are the same size), then male orcs are as much bigger than them as male mandrills are compared to females. Then female ogres are the same size as male orcs, and male ogres are mandrill male-to-female larger than them. This gives me Small orc females (whose stats become +2 to Strength and Dexterity and -2 to all mental stats), Medium male orcs and female ogres (which latter have the stats of orcs), and Large male ogres.

2022/02/25

Playing with Fantasy XXXII

Thoughts concerning icosahedral amusements.
  • I realized how to represent the effect of wearing a helmet, thanks to the Hard-Headed feat line. Namely, if you don't wear one, you (Hard-Headed) have a -2 to saves against being staggered or stunned, and (Dented Helm and Cloven Helm) have a -2 to your AC against critical hit confirmation rolls. Now, I think, you can still keep those feats around—having them means you just get a bonus over and above just having a helmet.
  • One theory about the question mark is that it's originally a cursive (lowercase) Q over an O, from quaestio (question). I don't know how sound that theory is in the real world (the Wikipedia article on "question mark" doesn't mention it), but I decided that my main human script's question mark, exclamation mark, and period would derive from the first and last letters of the words for "question", "exclamation", and "statement" (more or less).

    Decided the other human language that uses a form of the same script does something similar but with just the first letter, with like a dot over and above it, or a line through it, or something. And then the last human script, on the other continent, uses a trio of dots pointing up, for questions, and one pointing down for statements (it doesn't have an exclamation mark, because most scripts don't—maybe they eventually borrow one from the other scripts, the way Arabic and the East Asian scripts borrowed the question and exclamation marks from Roman).

    Not sure what to do with Elven, Dwarven, or Gnomish. Elven and Gnomish usually use verb-infixes to mark interrogatives, but there are also pitch questions—like how in Japanese you normally have the -ka ending on an interrogative-mood verb, but you can also just say "[Word]?" Considering having my Elven derive its question mark from the infix (or rather, two question marks from its two infixes, one used for polar questions and the other for nonpolar).
  • Was thinking my Dwarven might have articles, and definiteness obligatorily marked on all common nouns—maybe the definite divided into proximal and distal demonstratives. I considered it so there could be something (definiteness) that verbal adjectives could agree with their "head" on in the unmarked nominative, but it also let me give Dwarven a feature of Chukchi, namely inflecting proper nouns differently from common ones. Which is a trait I had been meaning to use in a conlang.

    However instead I decided to bite the bullet and have my Dwarven use Austronesian alignment, and thus I now use the old accusative for the direct case and the old dative for the indirect (the genitives, volitional and nonvolitional, remain the same). So now there's case agreement on the "nominative", because the direct case is marked. Thinking only the oblique case will mark on proper nouns, though, which still lets me inflect them differently (and you mark adjectives for them with the direct suffix).

    I also decided to give my Dwarven seven genders: masculine, feminine, common, neuter, and then divide each of the ones other than neuter into animate and personal. Unfortunately I can't think of a way to name the genders "Doc, Sleepy, Happy, Grumpy, Dopey, Bashful, Sneezy", but that would of course be the ideal if you had seven genders in Dwarven.
  • Crunched the numbers: if elves have eyeballs the same size as humans (they probably have bigger ones), 24 millimeters in diameter, they have a surface area of 1839.84 square millimeters. Taking just the outer half of that, you get 919.92 square millimeters. Now, rod cells can pack at densities up to 150,000 per square millimeter, which means the front half of the eye can fit 137,988,000 of them. Rod cells are also 100 microns long.

    So if an elf has the entire outer surface of their eyeball (or a nictitating membrane that closes over the eye) covered in special rod-cells, that form a fractal antenna for passive radar, they effectively have a length of 13.8 kilometers. Which, given an "electrically small" antenna is the wavelength over 2π, means they can receive wavelengths up to 86.708 kilometers. That's low in the VLF radio band, 3457.5 Hz, which is used in geoscience and so could form the basis of passive-radar darkvision.

    Hmm. If we gave elves eyes only slightly larger, say 35 millimeters like a tiger's, 35 millimeters in diameter, you get a surface area of 3848.45 square millimeters, half of which is 1924.225, and thus can pack 288,633,750 of them onto the surface, for an effective length of the fractal antenna of 28.9 kilometers, and a possible wavelength as high as 181.6 kilometers, a frequency of 1650.8 Hz—pretty much dead-center of the ultra low frequency band.
  • Bows, I decided, should not be divided into "long" or "short", nor "composite" and "non-composite", but into "hunting" (stats of regular shortbow) and "war" (stats of composite longbow, including the minimum strength requirement). Because warbows had draw weights upwards of 100 pounds; 200 pounds was not unknown, and some required assistance to string them. In terms of how it's used, though not how it's made and stored, an English longbow has much more in common with a Mongol bow than either does with pretty much any hunting bow (and you honestly can't pick between a well-made example of either type for power).

    And then we could give specifically composite versions of bows the "horse bow" advantage, when being used mounted. Namely, no attack penalty when used on a mount making a double-move, only -4 when mount runs, rather than -4 and -8; the Mounted Archery feat would then reduce the penalty from a running mount even further, to -2, which is normally the benefit of Improved Mounted Archery, which feat would presumably remove the penalty entirely. (You think, of course, of mounted archery as a military technique, but lots of animals are best hunted while mounted, too—buffalo, for example.) Maybe have composite versions cost 50% more.

    No idea what the hell I'll have elves' "Wabenaki" double bows do. Maybe just make them regular bows but made of two leaves ("elven twoleaf bow"?) and therefore collapsible by folding the leaves together, allowing it to count as "easily concealed" for purposes of Sleight of Hand? Maybe with a dagger's +2 bonus for the shortbow/hunting version? Yeah I think I'll go with that. They're already basically made of darkwood, so they weigh half as much and count as masterwork.
  • Yeah I'm just gonna have special-material stuff that equates to mithral, add to the price of weapons the way darkwood does, masterwork plus an amount per-pound. Given mithral has 50% higher hardness than steel, the metallic version will come to masterwork +15 gp per pound. Maybe, since my mithral-equivalent is also applicable to things that could be made of darkleaf cloth, which is twice as good as wood, masterwork +20 gp per pound? (Darkleaf cloth is mostly used to substitute for armor materials, and my armors cost, instead, what mithral does, because it gives all of mithral's benefits even to nonmetallic armor.)
  • Discovered a very weird fish, the bichir (the ch is like sh), from Africa, that has lungs and can live on land for extended periods of time. Sound normal? It's not a lungfish. It's not even a lobe-finned fish. It's an extremely basal ray-finned fish, and may be the closest fish still extant to the common ancestor of all bony fish. It has really weird, simple lungs, and a unique method for filling them with air (along with "buccal pumping" i.e. gulping with the mouth), namely it exhales by pulling the scales on its chest inward to exhale, and creating negative pressure when that's released, pulling in more air. They're the only vertebrate with lungs but no trachea.

    Anyway I think I'll base my sahuagin on them, which is cooler because ray-finned fish are more "normal fish", and also makes sense with the association with nagas since one group of bichirs are called "snakefish", guess why. The only question is whether to have them have serpentine lower torsos, like Warcraft nagas, since bichirs generally only have particularly developed pectoral fins. (I'm inclining to no, though.) I briefly considered maybe having them also be the serpentfolk, but I'm leaning toward no, since my nagas (which are actually proteans, stat-wise) are snake-y almost by definition. Maybe they also appear as eels, morays (which aren't really eels), caecilians, and other serpentine critters.
  • Semi-relatedly I think my gillmen will breathe through their ears, underwater, since the gill arches became part of the ears (among other things) in tetrapods, and the ear also connects to the respiratory system by the Eustachian tube. Of course they also have increased sensitivity to vibrations when underwater, to make up for the fact their ears are doing something else.

2022/02/10

Measure, and Number, and Weight II

So I think zled units will be generic terms, instead of untranslated words. (If that bothers you, go look up what "meter" means.) Since they're based on multiples of 12 and various powers of 10 of the Planck units, they can be divided into halves, thirds, quarters, fifths, sixths, eighths, tenths, and twelfths and still be even numbers of the base units.

For length, thought I'd just call the 6.350 centimeter, 1.2 billion Bohr-radius unit a "stretch" (and volume just be "cubic stretches"). Their mass unit, 120 million Planck masses or 2.6117 kilos, will just be a "ladings". And their time unit, unlike the others not based on a natural unit, will be…hmm. "Periods" seems most obvious for the hour-analogue, actually the equivalent instead of a Chinese double-hour because it's 1/12th of a Lhãsai day. Then "subperiods" for 1/120th of that, and "subsubperiod" for 1/120th of that, 1/14,400th of the period, and 1/172,800th of the day. Which makes it roughly half a second, ignoring the difference in length between Lhãsai's day and Earth's.

Let's see, then. What if we express speeds in, instead of meters per second, stretches per subsubperiod? Which comes to about 1/8th of a meter per second. Which in turn comes to about a quarter of a meter per second per second, because you apply the difference of time units squared. And imparting such an acceleration to a weight of one lading results in a "force" of 0.618863217 newtons. Then if we move that force over one stretch we get an "energy" of about 0.0393 joules (or about 245,277,675.123 GeV, i.e. 245.278 PeV, or about a quarter of a EeV—there are some surprisingly small units out there in science-land). And then that is equivalent to a "power" of 0.0759131869 watts, sustained for one subsubperiod.

Hmm. Maybe just call them "units (length, volume, mass, time, acceleration, force, energy, power)"? Or, given how Zbin-Ãld works, "long unit" and "heavy unit", and then "period, subperiod, subsubperiod"? Yeah I like that. Then the derived units, though, are "units of (acceleration, force, energy, power)"? Area and volume of course being "square/cubed long units", of course.

2022/01/25

Playing with Fantasy XXXI

Back on my fantasy RPG bullshit.
  • Decided that the underwater city of the thalassocratic Valyrians, who became gillmen, will also have a race of native outsiders, namely tritons but not good (they have aquatic-fiend patrons); the underground one, whose normal inhabitants are dark folk, have a fetchling ruling class. Though instead of owbs they have shadow demons as their main outsider patrons.
  • My fiends usually wrap their wings around themselves like clothes, one bat wing as a skirt and the other as a shirt (maybe the males wear both as a skirt), even though they're only anatomically correct if they want to be (or maybe they flash you when they fly, or materialize clothes over the relevant body-parts before spreading their wings). Also think the aforementioned aquatic fiends have a patagium (flying/gliding membrane) attached to their tails, like fish-eating bats, though they use it for swimming instead of catching fish.

    Think on the other hand my celestials (bird wings) and elementals (pterosaur wings) will wear apron-like shirts, like the ones used as women's undershirts in China and Vietnam. I don't think my proteans/nagas have wings, but they might grow gliding membranes like flying snakes or fins like flying fish (they also made the sahuagin, after all, and have eel traits too). Dunno what to do with the spidery law-outsiders; maybe ballooning like money spiders. Those two kinds of outsider are not particularly humanlike.
  • Not sure what to call the law-spiders. I incline to ōgumo, i.e. "great spiders", another name of the tsuchigumo. There's actually a shocking dearth of spiders in mythology, as a class—there's a bunch of specific spider gods, like Anansi and his equivalents in Africa, Iktomi in Siouan cultures, and too many Spider Grandmothers to count in other Native American cultures, and individual semi-mortals like Arachne, but races of spider creatures are actually bizarrely rare.

    In-setting the proteans/naga are called neither, but just "snake gods", with the serpentfolk as "snake people" and nagaji as "snake children", or maybe "serpentborn" to signify their partially human ancestry. (They're hybrids of snake people with humans, accomplished by the same alchemical genetic engineering as makes the half-elves and half-orcs of my setting.) I can't find a base for a hybrid aranea, here the law-spider counterparts of serpentfolk, so I guess they never made one.
  • My setting's cairn wights are basically human inugami. An inugami is a yōkai created as an artificial guardian deity by burying a dog up to the neck and letting it starve within view of its food bowl; they guard their master's property loyally but bear dangerous resentments (can't imagine why) and their protection can easily become a curse. My cairn wights are made from soldiers buried to the neck within view of an eating area and allowed to starve while watching others eat.
  • I really hate the "elves as dying race with low fertility" thing. My elves have a two-thirds longer reproductive cycle than humans—menarche at about 21 with good nutrition instead of 12½, ovulating an average of every 48 days instead of 29, average gestation of 467 days instead of 280—but their reproductive lifespan is twelve times as long. If they ever have to outbreed you, they can.

    Same goes for dwarves, who have the same reproductive cycle as humans but six times the reproductive lifespan, and gnomes, whose cycle is one-third longer—menarche at 17, ovulating every 39 days, gestation of 373 days—but have nine times the reproductive lifespan. They just mostly live in conditions where extra children are not an advantage, which always reduces birthrates even without modern contraception.
  • Realized I should revise my height-weight tables. Turns out the government standard that pretends the same BMI range is healthy for both men and women (granting BMI itself is all that useful), is hokum; the real ranges are 20.7–26.4 for males and 19.1–25.8 for females (females have more fat and less muscle, meaning they're less dense). So now my humans average 5 foot 9 inches and 160 pounds for males and 5 foot 4 inches and 130 pounds for females (yeah I'm rounding a little).

    For the nonhumans I based the relative weights on canids, with humans as golden jackals, dwarves as Borophagus, and elves as corsac foxes. (I tried humans as coyotes and elves as red foxes or black-backed jackals, but the differences weren't big enough.) Based on how much all three would weigh at 80 centimeters long (not counting tail), and then applying those mass ratios to a 5 foot 9 person, then giving the same BMI to a person of the average height of elves and dwarves (6 feet and 5 feet, both sexes, respectively), I get elves who weigh 120 pounds and dwarves who weigh 270. Then I took the common canid ratio of females 85 percent as heavy as males, and got female elves who weight 100 pounds and female dwarves who weigh 230. Gnomes are halfway between human and elf builds, which results in a gnome male of 3 feet 8 inches weighing 55 pounds, and a female the same height weighing 45.

    One interesting side effect of this is most dwarves cannot even lift each other, let alone carry each other, and dwarves probably don't roll around much in their sleep. Certainly married ones probably learn not to, fairly early on in the marriage. (Elves weigh so much less than humans of their height because they have much more fast-twitch muscle than slow-twitch, and also have smaller guts, being generalist hypercarnivores like wolves.)
  • My dwarves' special material, I realized, makes more sense if it's just seaweed grown in volcanic pools, instead of coralline algae. You take the leaves and shape them into plates, much like elven armor, but the seaweed can make bigger plates so dwarves wear plate armor instead of lamellar. I also think their hammers will be made of a bunch of the leaves curled up and pressed together.

    It also occurred to me that, since I don't have demons, daemons, or devils, but just fiends, who vary with regard to law and chaos, that I should just have cold iron be what hurts chaotic ones, alchemical silver be what hurts lawful ones, and "mountain copper" (orichalcum) be what hurts neutral ones.
  • Thinking I'll just have the dwarf stuff be like mithral, the way the elf and gnome stuff is—certainly that would make it more valuable as a trade commodity than stuff that makes your weapons and armor heavier for very little tactical advantage (sure dwarves don't slow down when carrying heavy loads, but no potential customers get the slow and steady trait).

    Weapons made from the elves' leaves have the special quality of wyroot, and armor from gnomes' mushrooms have the special quality of singing steel. Armor made from the dwarves' seaweed will just have the special quality of spiresteel. And weapons made from the humans' far rarer stuff, made from the bones of things like hydras, have the special quality of cryptstone.

2021/11/29

Mélange VIII

Random thoughts, only 5/8ths about icosahedral amusements. None of them reference Dune because I hate Dune (much like the Warhammer 40,000 setting it heavily influenced, it's better as a source of memes than actually engaged with seriously).
  • Realized probably the simplest way to turn kytons into goblin ancestor-gods, which I'm calling "barghests", is to swap out a few powers here and there (because they're pure fear, not torture) and then apply, basically, the lycanthrope template, but with my version of worgs as the "base animal". I actually have to swap a lot fewer things than one would think, because kytons run almost as much on fear as on pain, and many of their mutilation-y things will still fly given how much influence from Predator my goblins have.
  • Arcane is good. Really, really good. My brother has the bizarre idea that Silco having a cause, the independence of Zaun, makes him better than the other gang leaders of the Lanes, who operate purely from self-interest. But the other gang-leaders didn't spread Shimmer around or come very close to a losing war with Piltover largely out of nationalistic pride.

    In the immortal words of Daeran Arendae, violence in a good cause is indeed different: it's much more bloody, and is done with pinkies out.

    If I had another complaint, it would be that "Get Jinxed" plays at one point (albeit diagetically, when Jinx is listening to the radio while working—"you're listening to your own image song? don't be that guy"), but "Here Comes Vi" never does. Shameful, shameful oversight. Admittedly she isn't a Piltover enforcer yet, maybe that's it?
  • Golly bob howdy but Pathfinder is weirdly light on items for storing and preserving food, and cooking it. I mean you can use a cauldron of brewing in camp as well as in the alchemy lab, but other than that? I don't think there are any magical storehouses or anything.

    I also think there need to be more low-level magical traps, let your rogues earn their keep earlier on. I mean, since a summon monster VI trap is CR 7, isn't a summon monster I trap CR 2? And maybe summon minor monster as CR 1? 1d3 fiendish-template animals sounds like a CR 1 hazard to me.
  • Ghostbusters Afterlife is a fitting conclusion to the franchise. The two main kids are extremely believable as Egon's grandchildren (the girl especially is adorable—not just her looks and mannerisms but how her shirt is often buttoned wrong), and everything else is good to excellent. (It does have the weakness of being much more interesting before the big ghost stuff starts happening, but that was also true of the original.)

    Critics have mostly panned it in the stupidest manner imaginable, seemingly to punish it for being what the fans wanted, because the critics wanted the 2016 one to be well-received. Which was never going to happen; you can't try to reboot one of the tightest-written movies ever made as a piece of crappy improv, no matter what 1986 Fundamentalist "everything in pop culture is satanic" moral payload you attach to try to shame people into liking it.

    Sorry but the 2016 one was fourth-rate improv consisting very largely of fart jokes, extended painfully-stupid dancing sequences, and a running gag where the protagonist is obnoxious to a Chinese-takeout delivery guy. Can't imagine why people didn't like it.
  • The seven deadly sins are drastically overdone, in fiction. Decided instead that my setting's blasphemous warlockery will run off the Four Sins Crying to Heaven for Vengeance: perversion (the sin of Sodom), betrayal (denial of wages to workers), oppression (of widows and orphans), and murder. Of course, a game-setting is more PG-13, so the main form perversion takes (aside from the decadent witch culture having some sibling marriages) is cannibalism—sexual appetites aren't the only ones that can be perverted. Helps the royal caste of the modern thalassocratic Valyrians are dhampirs.

    Also decided that the non-fiend evil gods basically want to use the witch-power of the fiends against fiends, like using the One Ring against Sauron, or using Stasis against the Darkness (huh funny how one of those examples understands what a bad idea it is, Eris). They mostly take the form of murder (i.e. human[oid] sacrifice), although the ogres and orcs are tyrants and cannibals and the dark elves and dwarves are tyrants. (Both go in for a certain amount of backstabbing but you can't encourage that and still maintain a society, any more than you can permit most versions of perversion.)
  • Decided that the elves' panthers age relative to lions as elves age relative to humans: maturity 2/3 later (elves in my setting are adults at 25 to humans' 15), then age 12 times slower. Which means that, as lions are adults at 3 years, the panthers are at 5; lions get to be middle-aged at 8, so the panthers reach it at 96.

    From there though we apply the game-rule aging system where "venerable" is twice middle age (70 for humans, who hit it at 35), so 192 for the panthers. Then "old" is halfway between the two, 144 for the panthers. Lions only live about 19 years in the wild, which makes the panthers' maximum lifespan 228 years.
  • Thinking I'll redo my Draconic alphabet, since the old one was pretty much just Persian cuneiform upside-down and with the phonological values assigned at random. Thinking I'll take some cues from the Covenant alphabet, but with the strokes inside the triangles rather than as the triangle. But also from how Ugaritic is actually a cuneiform version of Phoenician (e.g. all the signs that incorporate an O shape, the ones that in Greek or Latin are O, Θ, or Q, replace the O shape with a <-type thing).

    Specifically how I think I'll have it work (I need to figure out all the nitty-gritty still) is take letters like something in a standard alphabet, convert them to cuneiform-esque shapes, and then convert those cuneiform-esque shapes to triangles. Specifically upward-pointing ones: Draconic is written bottom to top, by a dragon perched above whatever hard surface they're scratching letters into (hence the cuneiform, they're claw marks).
  • HBO Max has a bunch of DC stuff, and while the fourth season of Young Justice is even more painfully terrible than the third, at least there's a bunch of movies. I particularly like Superman/Batman: Apocalypse and Superman Unbound—I really like Supergirl when she's not being desecrated by the CW (and by current DC writers, of course). Also the fight in Apocalypse with Wonder Woman and Barda against the Female Furies, is one of the best fights in all of animation.

    There's also The Batman, in many ways the most underrated DC show (and it's pretty highly regarded, just not highly-regarded enough given it's close to as good as Batman the Animated Series). I wonder why Krypton isn't on there, though, unless it's a licensing issue with Syfy or Universal—tell me the thing with Sig-El's grandfather's Fortress of Solitude, and the camera pulls out to show the El crest, and the Superman theme plays, doesn't stir you deep inside.

2021/10/28

Playing with Fantasy Λʹ

Thoughts, back on my constantly-RPG bullshit again. This is numbered with the Greek numeral for 30 so as to avoid "XXX".
  • Decided to break down divine casters this way: clerics still come from dwarves, but now so do druids; oracles come from gnomes; witches come from elves. Humans still acquired all three late, having only had ancestor-worship adepts for most of their history. Decided the prevalence of witches among the black-magic empire (so I don't have to rewrite as many things) was because they were more influenced by elves than by dwarves or gnomes, magic-wise. Think I might have witches count as divine casters in terms of stuff like scrolls, but not for armor purposes.
  • Decided that my Elven, which used to mark nouns and pronouns for ergative, oblique (in practice often genitive), and reflexive cases, will instead use two different pronoun stems for absolutive (formerly unmarked) and ergative, combine the two for reflexive, and do the oblique by just putting prepositions on the pronoun (like "of" for the genitive). Nouns are marked for case just by position, agent before patient before verb (same as Tibetan and Basque).

    I was going to use the absolutive, since I was thinking of it as an "object" case, including "of a preposition", but apparently it's actually usually the ergative that's used as the prepositional case if a language doesn't have a separate one (helps to think of the ergative as being "by [noun]", and then every other preposition just replaces the "by"). You do not want different prepositions to take different cases; I have trauma flashbacks to high-school German just thinking about it.
  • Giving my elves and dwarves 120-foot darkvision and spell-like abilities, like drow and duergar; the dwarves get the derro spell-like abilities (ghost sound, daze, darkness, but once a day each, and not sound burst) instead of the duergar ones (enlarge person and invisibility, once a day each). I'm also giving elves 11 + character level spell resistance and dwarves 6 + level, along with letting them have the Healthy trait that replaces the Hardy trait (there's an option in the core rules for dwarves to replace Hardy with 5 + level SR).

    They also get resistance 5 to cold (elves) or fire (dwarves), which is only worth 1 point in the Race Builder, but in the rules for elves it replaces Elven Immunities, which is worth 2, so I give elves the 11 + level SR which costs 1 point more than 6 + level. 11 + level isn't that OP; a caster 1 level higher than you, or 1 level lower with Spell Penetration, can overcome your SR by just rolling a 10. And I took away all the elves' and gnomes' racial bonuses to saves against stuff like enchantments and illusions—plus SR doesn't work on most witch hexes unless it specifies they're spell-like abilities.

    Gnomes are less nocturnal, and so have only 60-foot darkvision (plus electricity resist 5, the standard gnome spell-like abilities, and 11 + level spell resistance, same as svirfneblin). The elves and dwarves are from the moons, where the nights are 15 days long, and on the far side you can never get "moonlight" from the planet overhead being in daylight (but since the day is also 15 days long, no light sensitivity). Gnomes are from the planet. I basically restrict low-light vision (which elves and gnomes have in the core rules) to real animals and things based on them, like catfolk and gnolls.
  • Thinking I might call witches, in the "dark magic" sense rather than the "quasi-divine primary-caster class" (because now witches in that sense can be any divine casters, while witches in the class sense are elven priests), "warlocks". Firstly because it literally means "oathbreaker", and second because the warlock class, introduced in Let's Send 75% of Our Playerbase to Pathfinder or 1e 4e, is the most hateful thing in 5e to people of decent good sense.

    Warlock is a douchebag-bait class (though Critical Role makes all of 5e straight-up catnip to that demographic no matter what class they wind up playing), balanced by people who went to the Riot Games school of design, that absolutely runs off the "15-minute adventuring day". Alternatively I might call the bad ones "defilers", which does of course raise the question of whether the good ones are "preservers".
  • My hunt for a dwarven hammer comparable to the waraxe (which is a gnome weapon in my setting) and bastard sword, leads me to use the sphinx hammer, I think used by the Egyptian dwarves of Osirion, on Golarion, but with the "one-handed with Exotic Weapon Proficiency, two-handed martial" thing instead of being able to throw it. Still not sure what to call it—leaning toward "battlehammer". "Hammer of arms" seems to sometimes be used for a particularly large warhammer, also—think I've seen it used as a translation (possibly by machine?) of the Warhammer Titan's name, in Attack on Titan.

    My dark dwarves, on the other hand—distinguishable from the others only in their weapon familiarities, stat-wise—use (light and heavy) picks instead of hammers. Where the other dwarves make weapons from a coralline algae, the dark dwarves make them from the chitin of giant spiders. Thinking they'll also make crossbows from chitin, instead of firearms like other dwarves use—though come to think of it you could probably make a decent-ish barrel from the leg exoskeleton of a giant arthropod, given how strengthened it would have to be at that size.
  • Decided that my elves' hunting god, who is the poisonous resin that protects the World Tree, will get Calistria's stuff, in elven contexts—his sacred animal is a toxic moth with venomous caterpillars, and those are easy to swap in for wasps. He'll also get most of Desna's butterfly-themed stuff. (Look, I'm a Spelljammer player, elves and Lepidoptera go together.)

    I had had the elves make textiles from fibers of their sacred trees, and I think they still make some, but a lot of their stuff, now, is going to be made from silk collected from the abandoned cocoons of his sacred moths. There are actually three different other kinds of silk, from three other moths.

    Haven't figured out what gods of my setting will get most of the other stuff from Golarion (as far as I know, if it's on the Archives of Nethys it's OGL, once you change the names; they're on the PFSRD site under the disguised names), though of course each pantheon's war god gets most of the Gorum stuff.
  • Minagho in Wrath of the Righteous made me realize the obvious path to doing multiple levels of "seducer fiend" (succubi and incubi, minus the pretense those are two different things). Namely, succubi as "common" ones and lilitu as "greater" ones. Decided to make cambions into the basis for a "lesser" one, too.

    Think, though, that I'll replace the lilitu's husk stuff with the deimavigga/apostate devil's evangelization, indomitable oration, and ohrwurm powers. Think I'll also replace the cambion's sinfrenzy with the raktavarna rakshasa's "master's eyes" ability, minus the part about being a familiar.

2021/09/28

Mélange VII

Random thoughts, only about half of them about RPGs!
  • Been playing Wrath of the Righteous a lot. The elf witch, Ember, is, unfortunately, a child (specifically a 91-year-old sixth grader), but Arueshalae, the reformed succubus, is romanceable. The part when you're in the lab of the Architect of the Worldwound and see your companions' innermost dreams, and you discover Ember just wants to play with other kids, was, um…not okay, guys, I needed that heart for other purposes.

    It's kinda neat how not only does Ember bring out my fatherly impulses, but even brings out the older-brotherly inclinations of Daeran Arendae, the neutral evil narcissist hedonist. In her first companion quest he starts to make a joke about her having to apologize to a demon lord for her purehearted tears shattering his unholy altar, and then he stops and says, "No, never mind, not even I can joke about this. Ember! Some people don't deserve apologies even if you hurt them!"
  • My brother said, and he's quite correct, that Star Wars Visions is better than basically everything Disney has ever done with the franchise, even the good things. The band one, the black and white one, and the Astro Boy one are just mediocre, but the other six are genuinely good—a ratio almost unthinkable in Disney Star Wars or in anime based on western properties (cf. The Animatrix and Halo Legends). I dunno, maybe the two kinds of badness cancel out. I particularly like the first of the two Trigger ones, with the twins. Though the best Star Wars thing involving Sith twins will always be that one trailer for a SW:TOR expansion.

    The subtitles are pretty questionable, though, since they're the closed-captioning of the English dub. Like for example how in "Lop and Ochō" they don't mention that he's not just "Boss Yasaburō" but is specifically referred to by the term that usually describes yakuza bosses, and that the duty their clan has inherited along with their lightsaber is jingi—the name for the yakuza code. (Neighborhood yakuza, like "neighborhood gangs" all over the world, are a lot less evil than big-time yakuza. Basically this is a classic yakuza-movie plot where a neighborhood gang is being forced to capitulate to a bigger one, and comes into conflict with them when their more amoral, profit-driven ways threaten the security that neighborhood gangs exist to protect.)
  • An interesting idea Wrath brings up that I immediately realized I had to incorporate in my own stuff: paladins' fear immunity means they are also immune to PTSD. They can still worry about things—Seelah is very insecure after what happens with the League of the Inspiring Cart—but presumably in a fundamentally different way from people who still feel fear.

    It also unavoidably made me think of the Adeptus Astartes: "They are my Space Marines and they shall know no fear." But Iomedae the Inheritor is worthier of the service of such beings than the Corpse on the Golden Throne. (Although Aroden was basically him. I've talked about the "ascended human" form of non-infringing Jesus, and why it doesn't work.)
  • The new Netflix He-Man—not Masters of the Universe: Revelation, the one with "He-Man" actually in the title and actually made by people who don't hate fans of the franchise—is really good. Mostly because it's made to entertain kids and parents rather than to win the approval of twenty-somethings from Portland who spend too much time on Twitter.

    The thing in this iteration where Adam shares the Power of Grayskull (the Masters of the Universe always seemed like a bunch of randos in both prior versions, so the old-school fans' complaint there is mostly groundless) was interesting, coming out as it does at the same time as Wrath, in which your character shares mythic power with his companions.
  • Strong Legend of Zelda vibes in Wrath. If you take the Azata mythic path, or even just help the Desnans escape the paranoid inquisitor (who, as the game says, has pretty good excuses for being paranoid), you learn a song from Desna.

    When you sing it for Aruashelae in the Drezen prison, she sings it too, then the soundtrack takes it up non-diagetically. Which is right out of Ocarina of Time. (Also Arueshalae's voice actress kinda sounds like Cortana does in Halo 3, when she's been imprisoned and tortured by the Gravemind.)
  • I'm pretty sure that Rifftrax, not seasons 11 and 12, is the real heir of MST3K. I didn't like that show just to see movies get riffed on, I liked it because I like Kevin and Mike and Bill. Also you get Mary Jo and Bridget doing some of them, and Trace and Frank in at least one.
  • My current playthrough of Wrath I'm an elf bloodrager (with one level in eldritch scion magus) who worships Calistria, goddess of lust and revenge. He's chaotic good, and I'm pursuing the Azata mythic path (because baby dragon companion, because ore no yome musume da), but it's interesting how they actually make things different depending on your deity. E.g. you can swear revenge on Minagho in Calistria's name, after she beats you the first time, and then when you fight again in Drezen if you bring it up, a wasp (Calistria's animal) crawls down your arm, a sign she favors your vengeance, and your party gets surrounded by swarms of wasps that attack anyone who gets close.

    In Kingmaker I liked to play elf paladins of Sarenrae, goddess of redemption, so the contrast between that and a Calistrian is interesting—the duality of man elf. In Wrath there's a cool scene where Sosiel, the cleric of Shelyn, discovers that a necromancer who reanimated other Shelyn worshipers was a guy his temple took in while he was wounded. It was all a plot to turn him against Shelyn's worship, because she doesn't allow killing defeated enemies. So I told him it's not worth breaking his vows, and killed the necromancer myself—the Eternal Rose might forbid it, but the Savored Sting don't care. Just in general the Owlcat Pathfinder games give you genuine opportunities for real roleplaying that I've never seen in any computer game before.
  • Strongly considering reworking my setting's spellcasters, making clerics originate with humans, druids with dwarves, oracles with gnomes…and witches with elves. Since witch is a divine caster, ish, that casts off Intelligence. Unfortunately a lot of my naming comes from the assumption dwarves have clerics and elves have druids (fortunately only the surnames in both cases), and the courtesy-names used by the elite of the thalassocratic Valyrian society are derived from witch-patron themes and possible witch bonds (familiars, mirror-witch mirror, etc.). I also have a lot of "fluff" about specifically witches. But I can redo that in terms of the "witchcraft", possibly renamed, being any evil divine caster, give them witches, druids, clerics, and oracles. About the one difficulty is that then I still have the dark elves, goblins, ogres, and dark dwarves hating witches despite being evil, but I can still make it work, the way that plenty of cultures that practiced human sacrifice still tabooed stuff like cannibalism.

    The one major issue is that I should rethink at least some of the characters in the stories set in my setting, in terms of their class affiliation. Not all the thalassocratic Valyrian people's priests need to be witches, now; I could for example replace a gravewalker witch character with an undead lord cleric (but I won't, because the gravewalker's creepy doll is super important to the scene). I think I will replace another witch with a blight druid, though. Basically now I think their priesthoods will all be corruptions of the other races' ones, and their evil witches be based on elves' good ones (I imagine elves have a lot of positive-energy hex channelers…and dwarves get their channeling primarily from paladins). Maybe I'll change "witchcraft" to "blasphemy"? That's what witchcraft in the anthropological sense basically is, after all. Come to think of it, not calling it "witchcraft" would have the advantage, when I actually publish, of not running afoul of the fools who don't know "witch" never doesn't mean evil, in the real world.

2021/08/27

Playing with Fantasy XXIX

FRPG thoughts.
  • Realized I can actually give my talking-beast accent thing to the cat-, hyena-, and yak-people that the thalassocratic Valyrians made, rather than having them speak (and be named in) Giantish. Which works out better because now I have five languages derived from that one, four languages in the other (landlubber Númenorean) group, for a total of nine languages native to the continent. (Really I should work out multiple dialects of the four landlubber-Númenorean languages, too, though.)
  • Thinking the hydrocratic Drúedain will have daughter-languages that change the quality of consonants based on vowel-length of the root, resulting in short vowels in all words (like it might change voiced to unvoiced or stops to fricatives, I dunno). Or I might have it change long vowels to something tonal—Spanish changed the Latin long vowel into stress, after all.

    Also should probably come up with different dialects for the Dothraki-type people. Maybe have initial biliterals change to a single consonant with a different vowel quality (long, maybe, or palatalized?). And, either in a different dialect or concurrent with that (maybe both, for three different languages) reduce the final-consonant inventory and have the other ones change to tones.
  • Decided that "hide" armor actually means "boiled leather version of half-plate", and "leather" armor means "something like buckskins or a buff coat, made of rawhide" (hey it's only one point better than padded). (And there is no studded leather—or maybe they use something like some Pacific Northwest cultures, where they reinforce buckskin/rawhide with little medallions?)

    Boiled leather is not like a lot of people think of it being: it has roughly the consistency of, like, a Rubbermaid trash can. There actually isn't a reason fantasy characters can't have the "motorcycle leathers" armor that sticklers complain about, but it did in fact not historically exist till far later.

    If you don't like the look of boiled-leather plate armor for a druid character, and I kinda don't either, there's always horn lamellar. The actual best-attested horn armors I can find are either scale or a Filipino thing that uses brass mail to connect plates of buffalo horn, similar to Japanese "tatami" armor. There's also wooden lamellar that you'd probably stat the same as the horn stuff, very thematically fitting for druid-types.
  • I'm kinda an idiot sometimes. I had had my Elven be number invariable except on pronouns. Just recently, though, I realized I can just stick an -i on the end of noun-stems. I think it'll stay where it is when the case-suffixes are added, which basically makes the case-suffix preceded by a Y sound. (I think plural -i plus a case-suffix starting in -i will yield a long I, though, instead of a -yi-.

    This might complicate things for the talking cats they ride, of course, who replace dental and alveolar sounds with palatalized labial and velar ones due to the shape of their tongues. I suppose I can just transcribe it as -Cyi, or -Cyí in the case of the aforementioned case-suffix staring in I. (Given Elven writes palatals with i, yi and would be written ii and , in their script.)

    I'd had a similar problem with the hyenas my gnomes ride, since Gnomish already has palatalized consonants; I made it so the combination of two palatals results in CryV. Of course, one of the palatals is ry, and they could already geminate r—so yes, rrry is entirely possible. Who doesn't like trigeminate consonants?
  • Hmm. Actually what if, instead of -i, the Elven plural is an echo-vowel of the noun-stem? Noun-stems' final vowels (which derive from verb inflections) are already repeated in the inflectional suffix, but currently it's always short. What if I had that suffix's echo-vowel be long in the plural? Of course the absolutive (my Elven is ergative) has no suffix, but what if it has a long vowel, not followed by a consonant suffix, in the plural? That'll work. Maybe you can put an "open" echo-vowel after the singular, too, to emphasize there only being one of something?

    Briefly worried that this would mean I'd have to change all my elven surnames to have long final vowels, because surnames in many languages imply a plural ("the descendants of so-and-so", for example) but the elven ones are "of X grove". Groves might be groups of trees, but they're singular groups. I was worried this would mean I had to change something about my Goblin language, a form of Elven, but then I remembered it lost vowel-length, and uses reduplicated determiners derived from pronouns, to mark its plurals.
  • If I had to find one flaw in the Pathfinder rules, it's that there is no rule support for being able to dive in the way of an attack that's going to hit someone else, unless you burn two feats to get Bodyguard and In Harm's Way (and Bodyguard has Combat Reflexes as a prereq, so you're actually burning three). Personally I would house-rule it that you can't do it as an attack of opportunity, but have to waste a standard action, like you do to aid another if you don't have Bodyguard. But that's a house rule; the default ruleset contains no such provision.
  • There isn't a Charisma witch-archetype in Pathfinder proper other than the seducer from Legacy of the First World, but that's more than a little awkward for mixed company—particularly the seducer's kiss and garden of delights abilities—and better suited for an NPC. (It's one thing if the antagonist always has their significant other charging into battle for them, quite another if one of the PCs does.)

    Wrath of the Righteous comes to the rescue here, with the stigmatized witch archetype, which casts from Charisma, and loses its patron, but acquires an oracle's curse. (I don't know if it has an oracle's mystery, too, to make up for the lack of patron spells?) No word on if they're spontaneous or prepared casters (most Charisma casters are spontaneous, of course).
  • Very irksome that there are the aforementioned Charisma witches, Charisma druids, Intelligence and Wisdom sorcerers, Charisma maguses, Wisdom and Intelligence bards, and Intelligence inquisitors, but no Intelligence clerics, druids, or oracles.

    I mean I guess it just means elven priests are in the same predicament as dwarven wizards, and better off than dwarven oracles or sorcerers (other than the aforementioned empyreal sorcerers), but it's still irksome that there's a druid offshoot that specially advantages gnomes but not elves.

    I guess it makes sense for gnomes to be a little more magical than elves, since gnomes are at a significant disadvantage in a physical fight (sure, there's a Constitution advantage, but that doesn't help much when you can be physically picked up and moved, due to the CMB and CMD penalties).
  • Decided that my setting's vampires die like vetalas, mostly because turning into a flock of bats (like a moroi), a cloud of fog (like a nosferatu), or a pile of dust (like a jiang-shi), or having to possess an object while it recovers (like a psychic vampire) is dumb and annoying to work with. Gotta figure out which other abilities they have, though—obviously the vetala's possession abilities aren't ideal (even with the revised possession rules from Occult Adventures). Maybe the children of the night ability of a moroi and the spider climb ability of a nosferatu? Yeah I like that. They also still get a nosferatu's swarm shape, they just don't turn into a swarm when brought down to 0 hit points.