Out of character interlude – deities and (no) demigods

I’m feeling lazy today so it’s time for that segment everyone hates. 

As a crusty old D&D man I’ve created hundreds of campaign worlds over the years – a couple of which actually got used!  Most of them had no name, I’ve never been good at names.  Also most campaign world names are stupid – dishonorable mention to when a campaign world is called E’arth or Urth or something like that.  Shame on you.  The only two that come to mind as being pretty good names are Athas for Dark Sun and Golarion for Pathfinder.  Those are okay.  Anyway this should be titled “The Gods of CAMPAIGN NAME” but there is no name so it isn’t called that. 

The first god introduced was ripped off from Magic the Gathering.  I wanted a trickster god but not a D&D style trickster god which are usually thief gods.  I’ve never quite understood that, stealing isn’t really a “trick”.  And the organized crime nature of D&D thief’s guilds doesn’t make a lot of sense coupled a trickster god to me.  I think it would be neat to have a trickster god who hates organized crime because it’s you know, organized and therefore stuffing and boring.  Anyway, I chose Kozilek the Butcher of Truth – although the idea for this “campaign” is more of a D&D god and less of an Elder Being Cthulhu end of all life in the universe monster like in Magic (or is he?!) .  A trickster god like Loki – mythology Loki, not Marvel Loki who’s less of a trickster and more just a jerk.  If I remember correctly (questionable) one of mythology Loki’s classic tricks was tricking Baldur’s brother into killing him.  That’s the kind of trickster I was looking for.   I think in an early post I had Ela visit a temple of Kozilek which doesn’t make a lot of sense, why would a trickster god have temples? 

But Kozilek is a fringe god for weirdos, what about the main event?  I decided to have two “chief” gods.  I figured “the” main god should be a boring happy nice god like Pelor.  I called her Adariel, I don’t remember why exactly.  I think Madriel is something and I just borrowed from that.  She’s the standard good god – nothing much going on there.  The other big shot god is Odobenine, the Lord of Greed.  This is a partial rip off, again from Magic.  I always liked the Church of Deals from Ravnica.  In a world where magic is real and gods can give it to you I find the ideal of a transactional religion interesting.  Odobenine’s creed is basically worship me and I give you shit, the end.  The church sells their spellcasting and also acts as a bank/moneylending institution.  No idea where the name Odobenine came from.  After the fact I realized there was a fun class distinction there – Adariel is for the lower classes and Odobenine for the movers and shakers. 

I think Kralten may have come before those two.  I wanted there to be a god of hatred and revenge and spite so that Ela could not worship him to show that she’s not really down with religion.  As they say, show, don’t tell (which is why Ela talks about how she’s not religious all the time – I’m the best writer ever!).  Evil gods usually don’t make a ton of sense to me.  Why would anyone worship a plague god?  Or a god who just wants to torture people?  They wouldn’t, unless they’re crazy, which is no fun.  But a god who’s all about pettiness and holding grudges?  I could see people getting on board with that.  Kralten is a classic evil god who’s followers don’t think they’re evil (despite the human sacrifices) they see themselves as the aggrieved party getting justice.  Also I rolled a random encounter with cultists so I needed to come up with something.  I envision the typical Kraltenite as someone who’s suffered a trauma and is mad at the world.  I think somehow his name came from mangling Kristen Bell. 

Now that I think about it Strider may have even come in before Kralten in the story.  I wanted there to be a travel god to encounter priests of on the road.  Fharlanghn is the only travel god I remember being remotely interesting or fleshed out, but that’s a terrible name.  I thought the Striders of Fharlanghn from the Shackled City adventure path were cool though so I just went with Strider.  Which I think is what they called Aragon in the Fellowship of the Ring.  So double theft there. 

Korrok is a total rip-off from the John Dies at the End books.  I also wanted an utterly evil god that no sane person would ever worship and Korrok fit the bill.  I envision the worship of Korrok like a mental disorder that’s communicable.  Dwarfs refuse to say his name not just in a fun “He Who Shall Not Be Named” way but for practical reasons.  I guess that’s kind of a Cthulhu rip-off as well then, if you learn too much about Korrok you go coo-coo for cocoa puffs and you’re one of his worshippers before you can say Nyarlathotep.

The other only god that’s gotten more than a mention is Vultur – the Lawful Law god of Laws and Lawfulness.  I wanted a religious themed bounty hunter group to come after Ela.  There’s really nothing more fleshed out about him than that – he’s Judge Dredd shouting “I AM the law!” 

Besides those 11 other gods have been mentioned in passing – name them all you win a water pick!

The main takeaway is I suppose that most of these gods are lifted from other sources.  Which is fine.  Wholly unique campaign worlds are hard to do and usually they’re lame.  Plagiarism is the sincerest form of theft. 

Out of character interlude 3 – The worst one yet!

Is the third movie of a trilogy always the worst? Yes.

I created a magic item page for my own benefit but the response has been so overwhelming that I’m thinking about occasionally posting some game material. You know, for the people that are still playing an outdated game rule-set that already has a metric ton of digital content. Digital content doesn’t weight anything? I know, that’s how much pathfinder 1st edition content there is!

There’s a dude in my gaming group that often advocates for 5th edition D&D and to a lesser extent 2nd edition pathfinder. I assume if and when covid is “over” and we start playing again I’ll have to bow to progress and play one of them. But I hear that the Midwest is horrible at preventing the virus spread so that could be a while.

I’m not entirely sure were my reluctance comes from because I buy tons of games all the time. I guess I just don’t like new editions of things. I’d still be playing 3rd ed if my friends hadn’t strong armed me, and I’d still be playing 2nd ed if they hadn’t dragged me to third. And second edition was terrible.

Anyway, the “sea elfs” as Ela calls them were not exiled because of any political machinations as they said but rather because of their corrupted bloodline.

Yeah that’s right, even better this “new” material is a race. Because pathfinder doesn’t have enough of those.

Exile Aquatic Elf

Racial Traits

Ability Score Modifiers: +2 Constitution, +2 Wisdom, and –2 Charisma.

Size: Exile aquatic elves are Medium creatures and receive no bonuses or penalties due to their size.

Type: Exile aquatic elves are Humanoids with the elf, deep one, and aquatic subtypes. Creatures with the aquatic subtype can move in water without making Swim checks. Aquatic creatures always treat Swim as a class skill.

Base Speed: Exile aquatic elves have a base speed of 30 feet and a swim speed of 30 feet.

Deep Sea Dweller: Exile aquatic elves can survive safely at any ocean depth and have cold resistance 5.

Deepsight:  Exile aquatic elves have darkvision with a range of 90 feet and while underwater ignore concealment from silt, muck, and murky water.

Slow Aging: It takes exile aquatic elves twice as long to reach middle age, and three times as long to reach both old age and venerable

Other Racial Traits

Amphibious: Exile aquatic elves can breathe both water and air.

Weakness Racial Traits

Water Dependent: An exile sea elf’s body requires constant submersion in fresh or salt water. Exile sea elves who spend more than one day without fully submerging themselves in water risk internal organ failure, painful cracking of the skin, and death within 4d6 hours.

-2 to Dexterity score while out of water

-2 on Perception checks while out of water

Out of character interlude – year one

You ever read Batman Year One? It’s pretty sweet.

A year ago yesterday I started this blog mostly as a joke and here still we are so I guess the joke is on me at this point. The origin is that my D&D group and I were talking about Dave the Commoner and we jested that we should each start a blog of the same kind with the other four NPC classes. Someone else was doing one for the Warrior and Adept seemed too “easy” so I went with Expert over Aristocrat because I wanted a rogue-like character.

Originally it was titled the Erotic Endeavors of Ela the Expert because I thought it was funny. Several people told me that they hated the title but I wouldn’t change it because I’m stubborn like that. But then one day a dude sent me a message about the erotic stuff he wanted me to write about and that finally motivated me to change it to a more appropriate title.

I’m pretty sure that half my “followers” are bots and I doubt that anyone reads regularly – as one of my buddies said “I just check in every few weeks to see who Ela is screwing over that day” but I have gotten some feedback. And by some I mean literally six or seven messages. I found this feedback perplexing.

Half the messages were from guys (ostensibly) who said that they liked the story but they didn’t like that it was about a female character. They said it was unrealistic for a woman to be shifty and murderous and cold blooded. One of them said that the only way they could read it is if they pretended that Ela was a man.

The other half of the messages were from women (ostensibly) who said that Ela was unrealistic because women aren’t like that – they’re empathetic and want to help people and aren’t murderous con artists. Furthermore, portraying women as such was bad for society and playing into negative anti-feminist stereotypes.

I didn’t know what to make of this feedback but after a very brief consideration of bailing I decided that I didn’t need to care about it because even if it was harmful it’s such a small scale that it didn’t matter. But then one of my friends pointed out that it doesn’t matter how small your reach is if what you’re doing is bad then it’s bad (they were making no comment on if the blog was bad or not because they don’t read it). But I decided that I like writing it so if I’m a horrible person I guess that’s just what it is.

I play D&D for real as well (or did before Covid) and whenever I’m the DM the feedback I’ve gotten is “I like playing your campaign (you have to say that first because DMs are fragile) but all your campaign worlds are awful places full of awful people”. I’ve never really understood that because I don’t consider my campaigns “dark fantasy” they just seem normal to me, but clearly my normal is awful to everyone else. My point is this, I don’t think it’s a gender issue so much as a issue of me making everything horrible.

Anyway I hope Ela lives long enough that this blog goes at least 479 days so it will be one day longer than Demolition’s first reign as tag team champions. Remember when they first came around and everyone dismissed them as a second rate Road Warriors knock off? But then by the end of the 80’s people thought that the Road Warriors were a crummy knock-off of Demolition? I do.

Out of character interlude 2 – Ela versus Negan, Dawn of Justice

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Pangloss Cosmetics.

I read a blog about stuff.  It’s pretty good.  The other day the author mentioned that he was four when Return of the King (the movie) came out.  I was in my mid-20s.  It made me feel super old and lame.  Which I am, but being reminded of that is never fun.  This has nothing to do with anything but I figured you’d want to know.

I wonder sometimes what I’ll do if Ela dies.  I mean I have her name in the URL so clearly I can never write about anything else.  A few ideas I’ve kicked around are a prequel (weak), continuing the story with another character (meh), or going back and doing short runs of things from the perspective of other characters and the effects of Ela on their lives (might be okay).  But then last night as I was falling asleep I had the thought – what about putting the character of Ela in a different story?  And for a reason what came to mind is Ela in the Walking Dead. 

First obviously you MUST know my history with the Walking Dead.  I read the comic books WAY before the TV show came along and made it cool and popular (and therefore gross).  By the time the TV show rolled around we were in the tail end of the zombie fad started by 28 Days Later and I was suffering from zombie fatigue.  So I didn’t watch the first season right away and when I got around to watching I found it kind of boring.  But it was based on a comic book so what was I going to do, not watch it?  This was in the pre-MCU boom days before comic book properties became cool and popular (and therefore gross) so if something was comic book related and wasn’t horrible I was probably going to watch it. 

The second season picked up though and I was in for real.  For a while.  After a couple seasons Walking Dead started suffering from a bad case of Lost-itis, where the show was way more popular than anyone expected so they needed to milk it for everything its worth.  They started telling the exact same story over and over – everyone’s together yay!  Oh no, everyone is separated, boo!  Reunited! Yay!  Ripped apart boo!  Repeat ad nauseam.  After the Governor attacked the prison for the SECOND time I was out. 

And that’s how it was for a long time but then one day I was flipping through the channels and I saw some people with Ws on their heads running into a town and violently attacking people and I was like “Whoa, what is this show?” and after a while I saw the lady who plays Carol and I was like “that actress must be in this show” but then I kept watching and figured out that it was Carol (still alive!) because I was watching the Walking Dead.  That episode was pretty rad so I started watching again for a little while but then stopped again because it sucked.  Hard.

And that’s how it was for a while but then there was a massive media blitz – RICK’S LAST EPISODE !!!!!!!  And I was curious how Rick was going to die so I admit they got me top tune in again.  And the lead up to RICK’S LAST EPISODE !!!!!!! was decently good.  But then that episode was GOD AWFUL and I was mad because they suckered me back in to watch that crap.  I’ll never watch this show again I shouted at the moon. 

And that’s how it was for a while but then a couple weeks ago I started getting caught up for no reason I can explain.  Anyway, the point is that’s probably why when I was half-asleep the idea that came to my mind was Ela in the Walking Dead.  Which is a horrible idea.  Maybe you could argue (please do the one person who reads this blog) that Ela is an anti-hero but more probably she’s just a straight up villain protagonist.  And that doesn’t really work in the Walking Dead.  An awful person in an awful world is just depressing, and not very interesting.  An awful person in a world that’s more “normal” is little more viable. 

I didn’t really have a template in mind when I created the character of Ela, but a few months after I started writing this blog I re-watched the Last Seduction and I realized that and Linda Fiorentino’s character is basically her.  And if you take that character and stick them into the Walking Dead you have a minor character whose one of Negan’s minions and make has a couple cool scenes before they die.  Because there’s really nothing else you can do there other than a redemption arc and who would want to see that?  Nobody that’s who. 

But the idea of putting her in another setting and story could be a good one if she dies prematurely.  There’s probably a genre like that – character X in this setting and that setting and so on – but I’ve never heard of it. 

Did you know that there’s three different podcasts called Raised By TV?  Because there are.  Which is what I would also call my podcast if I had one.  Which I do not.  This has nothing to do with anything but I figured you’d want to know.

Out of character interlude

I started this blog mostly as a lark and somewhat as a joke but I’m enjoying it at this point.  One thing I’ve realized (with apologies to whomever mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa) is that while writing based on D&D is mildly silly it’s kind of nice to have a structure of what your character actually can do.  Obviously to the zero people who ready this blog, are intimately familiar with D&D (Pathfinder really, but you know), and pay CLOSE attention to every detail I’m somewhat fast and loose with the minutia of how the rules would work but there’s a solid base there.

The thought that came across my mind is if I were writing a story about a super spy who’s a Muay Thai champion, motorcross enthusiast, classically trained chef I would be in a bit of a pickle because I don’t actually know anything about those things.  Could this character Muay Thai kick the door of a car off?  Who knows?  Not me for sure.  They say write what you know but that’s lame because most people don’t know anything interesting – and I know because I talked to a person once. 

Of course there’s the theory that as the author you can have the character do whatever you want or need them to do for the story you want to tell, but  I’m enjoying (in this format anyway) having some limitations.  Ela can’t fly halfway across the world and summon an army of Valkyries because the rules say she can’t.  That’s kind of nice.  I think it’s been shown many times over that people don’t create their best work when they have total freedom – having some boundaries to work within usually helps, even if eventually they end up ignoring them all once you get started. 

I don’t read so many comics anymore because I’m old and unhip but when I did one thing that often bugged me is the wildly inconsistent abilities of the protagonists.  There’s no way around that really, the Hulk has had 100s of different writers at this point, if not thousands – it’s not like there’s a Hulk Bible of EXACTLY how strong he is.  But it’s annoying when the abilities of the hero in question change to service the story – or when their abilities are “forgotten” in order to create drama.  One issue Captain American jumps out of a plane without a parachute and just lands fine because he’s awesome.  Next issue he’s “trapped” on the 15th floor of a building with no way down.  What changed?  A little bit of consistency is nice is my point. 

And while I like using the D&D framework it does make things a little wonky.  Ela isn’t totally helpless in combat just because she’s a 14th level character now and D&D is a linear deal whereas if I was just writing 100% off the cuff I’d probably never have her be any good at fighting.  And her social skills are all so high as the rules are written she should basically be able to convince anyone of anything.  But hey, pros and cons.