Monthly Archives: August 2014

Meet the Silla Jinn

The Silla Jinn were actually the very first characters we met in the Sun cycle, in the form of the three brothers at the tomb.  We’ve barely seen hide nor hair of them since then, as Dokkaebi, Parua, humans, and Ghul have filled out or characters.  But we will return to the brothers soon, so tonight I present with some information on their people– the Silla Jinn!

Silla Jinn

Silla Jinn are of the same general size and shape as humans.  Their skin ranges from an orange or red tinted tan to pale peach colors and dark browns.  Their hair is always black, and they grow no body hair, only head hair and occasionally facial hair, but even this is sparse.  Their eyebrows are pointed in inverted V shapes.  Their eyes are always a fiery red orange.  Silla live to be 500 years old, and reach traditional maturity at the age of 33 (though they are physically, mentally and sexually mature earlier.

The Merchants Three Sons: A Tale of the Silla Jinn

 

Our story, the story of the Silla starts with a man.  Long ago, before some Jinn chose to eat the flesh of men, before some Jinn learned the sin of pride and named themselves Afrit, and before some Jinn chose one form and named themselves Silla, when we were all only Jinn and could take any form we chose.  A human merchant named Lizemon lived in a city whose name even we have forgot.  He was a shrewd dealer who loved with passion, haggled without mercy and lived without fault.  Now one day while he was traveling from his city to a nearby city to ply his goods he came upon a woman whose camel had died.  Now Lizemon traveled alone and had with him only enough water for himself and his own camel, but seeing someone in need he offered her some of his own water and took her with him on his journey.  Now this woman was no human lady, but a Jinn of no small importance—a Queen of our people, of a land known only as the Sill, a coastal region south of what would later be known as the City. 

Now the Queen of the Sill took a liking to this kindly merchant, and as they journeyed both fell graciously in love with the other.  Now this was the first time that any Jinn had taken a liking to a mortal man, and that night as they consummated their passion Padaga looked down in anger—for the Sun had given man and Jinn each their forms to be separate, not to be one.  There would be consequences for the Queen, her Kingdom fell to her brother, Var e’Ghal who later would make cause of his own fall.  More than that, the Queen of the Sill found herself trapped in the form she had worn at the time of her passion, and could change it no longer—such is why her children, who could not change their forms, are forever known as Silla.

Now the Queen bore Lizemon three sons.  The oldest, Garan, was wise but weak.  The second son, Karan was cunning but clumsy, and their youngest, Oaran, was fair but fragile.  The brothers grew together till the day of their thirty-third birthday, when they left the tents of their father and struck out each alone to mark out their destinies.  Garan went south, into the Empire of Phalia.  Karan journeyed to the east, where he found root in Old Zhang while the Shining Land was at its height.  Oaran went west, and came to rest in Ikar.  All three brothers flourished and married wives who bore them many children, whose children bore children and whose grandchildren bore children and the Silla multiplied down to this very day.  This was the time of the first sundering, when Jinn forsake their forms for love, and it is our story.

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A Normal Man

I know that somewhere deep inside

A normal man, of sorts resides,

but then again he may have died

that last time I heard the bullets fly–

And it could be that I buried him

somewhere way out in the deep sand

across the sea in that Arab land

and something else crawled in my skin.

 

Now I can’t say I know myself,

Am I who I was or someone else?

I used to think I was a good man,

but now I can’t tell grace from sin.

 

I can’t help if my eyes do stare

If you’ll come along I’ll drive anywhere

I”ll conspire in any plot you contrive

as long as it makes me feel alive.

 

And now the changelings moving in,

swallow another handful of my son’s ritalin.

Mix up another drink that end And Coke

cause Ill take anything to feel a little bit less broke.

Want to stare at the Sun till I go blind,

But if you want we’ll wander the desert my body to find,

and when you’ve finished my new design–

Dig me up, stitch me up, I’m goddamn Frankenstein.

Mother and Daughter Moving into the Sill

“Ey, ey, ey!” Mitzia could hear the Hyenas in the distance, but closer now than before.  Her mother pulled the young Parua nearly as fast as her tiny feet could carry her. The yearling Parua noticed the ground beneath them had shifted over the last hour, gone from the sand she knew in the desert and the streets of the City to a gray foul silt like she had never seen before. They moved fast and surely, her mother never pausing as they went. And still the laugh of the fearsome predators advancing on them.

“Do they know where we are Mama?” Mitzia asked, terror showing in her blood red eyes.

“No, child,” Annika responded, “I don’t believe they know that we are here, but they are traveling the desert the same as us.”

“Why did we turn, Mama?”

Annika paused for a moment looking down into her daughter’s eyes, whiskers twitching as her upper lip curled, “We can’t lead them to the rock.  I have to tell which direction they are going.  I have to listen to the baying of their leaders and see if there is a Ghul with them or if they are a pride of hyenas alone.  I have to be ready to warn the others of our people, the Parua, if there is danger.”

Mitzia scratched at her face nervously, “But why Momma?  Shouldn’t merchants like us run as fast as we can to the rock so the others can protect us? Once you told me that the Parua heroes could fight off any foe that came?”

“All the Parua heroes are dead or retired.”  Annika let Mitzia’s hand fall as she began to hop forward faster still, “Keep up love; keep up.”

“Well one of the heroes should un-retire.” Mitzia nearly sprinted as she went. her mother’s dashing pace pushing her near to exhaustion.

“One of them just might have to.”

Sherlock Holmes RPG and Being Stood up by Commissions

Some of you who know me may know that about a year ago I was commissioned to write a core rule book for a Sherlock Holmes based role playing game.  I had the bones of a core dice system (I like to call it the “Core 8 Engine”) which I still plan to adapt and expand for use in a lot of different possible settings.

The offer/rate wasn’t good– 2 cents a word, plus I maintained the right to use the system for other settings.  For a basically unpublished writer that seemed like a dream.  I talked with the individual over email and had the equivalent of a verbal agreement in email form.  I set to work, and while missing the deadline I had set for myself I eventually turned over a give or take 50,000 word document for review.

And then I never heard back from my client.  Some time went by, I chugged away on some updates and proofing/editing and then. . . crickets.  To this day 8+ months after my turnover I have not received any response.

I stopped bothering to attempt to contact the individual eventually.  I later learned he had done the same thing to at least one artist for the first project which the role playing game was originally supposed to have been the follow up to.  Clearly this person had unrealistic expectations about funding a card game and role playing game (as their cancelled kickspy campaign with less than one thousand of a 20,000$ goal funded will attest to.)    Kickspy is off-brand kickstarter it seems.

So what recourse do I have in this case?  As near as I can tell, not really any.  Did he break a contract?  Yes.  Did he steal my material and publish it?  No, I’ve ferreted the web for any sign of it, but there is none.  This seems to leave my copyright intact, which would make my own publication of the material probably the only real course to recoup the lost opportunity on the project.

Of course, I do not have the passion for Sherlock Holmes material personally.  Nor is this game at the top of my to do list, much less my “to hire artists to fill out for so I can publish” list.  I expect that eventually I will be publishing under the core rules of my Core 8 system, though I am more likely to start with Science Fiction, post Apocalypse/modern military, or dark ages fantasy setting than Victorian England– after all, if its my project again in its entirety, I might as well enjoy it as I toil away.

In the meantime, here is the playtest document for the game. I’d appreciate any feedback you might have for the system, the writing in the game, or discussion about what you would do in a similar situation.

Playtest Document

The Bold Scout in the Sill

Maba knew that crossing the Sill was dangerous, but he had no choice– he needed to reach the Five Tribes Desert before the mercenaries; he had to warn his tribe.  Maba knew that crossing the Sill was dangerous, but finding dangerous paths to cross the desert quickly was what he did.

Maba was the chief scout of the Peshga tribe, newly promoted, and he had vital information that could mean the difference between the tribe’s survival and destruction.  For any ordinary information he would go around– for even children of the Peshga tribe knew that the Sill was Ghul territory.

Maba could hear Jackals baying in the distance.  He paused for a moment, scanning the horizon.  He could make out their outline behind him, a corral of fierce furred foes.  He knew they would try to guide him to a trap. and that he had little choice but to let them– for it meant conflict on way or another.  Better, he thought, to outpace them, spring the trap while he could face their master alone.

Maba saw where the jackals would spring the trap– a grouping of ruins, three buildings left mostly intact.  He aimed himself toward the goal and took of into a spring, hoping the jackals would not realize this and adjust their methodical stalking speed as well.  Maba sprang and bounced, the characteristic gait of a Parua at full tilt.

Within a few minutes he was approaching the buildings, he slowed to a walk, drawing his scimitar, catching his breath for the battle ahead.  Cautiously Maba stepped into the ruins, scimitar held high to deflect any blows.  The snarl and the strike came simultaneously.  Maba dodged but a moment too slow.  He felt the weight of the jackal upon him, twice the size or more of an ordinary jackal.

He felt the teeth sink into his shoulder.  Maba dropped to one knee, jabbing the jackal with his scimitar.  The creature let out a yelp as it careened to the floor.  Its shape shimmered for a moment, then the shape crouching before him transformed to that of a Ghil, human shaped with pointed ears like those of other Jinn but with a stark pale gray skin caving in onto its bones, its eyes white, almost lifeless, bus sinister and very much alive.

Maba held forth his scimitar to guard himself, sweat beading at his brow, a steel expression on his face.

New PF Compatible Prestige Class: The Devil Sworn Fist

Some warriors will seek the greater power which spell-casters of the region can gain through magical means by bargaining with fiends.  Desperate for power, or so focused on a single goal that they are willing to go to any length, these warriors will bargain away even their very soul for the purpose of gaining might which they use to attain their goals.

These warriors will seek out a powerful Devil, bargaining with it in exchange for great power.  The Devil Sworn Fist must swear an oath, the specifics of which are determined by the fiendish patron, but which typically involves a specific vile act which they must perform under a certain stimulus (such as sacrificing a humanoid to the patron’s glory every new moon, or defiling any shrine to a particular good aligned deity whenever they pass by.)

While some might see Devil Sworn Fists as irredeemably corrupt, they would argue that the goals and the ends to which they apply their diabolic means justify the bargain.  Many Devil Sworn Fists bend their new abilities towards the aggrandizement of their own noble houses, towards the advancement of a lawful and or evil nation’s power, or towards spreading the word and religion.

The path of the Devil Sworn Fist is never taken up lightly, so only those with a strong focus and strength of will begin along this path.  The most common entrants into the prestige class include Lawful Evil and Lawful Neutral monks, though occasionally Fighters, Anti-Paladins which focus on natural attacks may seek out their own pacts.  There have even been rumors of a Neutral evil druid who considered the diabolic power of the Devil Sworn Fist (in combination with wild shape) the path for which the most could be done in service of nature.

Role: Devil Sworn Fists are skilled first line warriors, capable in the art of battle.  They will ally themselves with those they consider equals or only moderately inferior.  All allies, however, will share a goal or have a purpose to which the Devil Sworn Fist intends to use them since those who barter with fiends are by nature selfish.  Devil Sworn Fists might be conflicted about the path they have chosen to power, or they may accept and revel in the depravity of it.  Either way, Devil Sworn Fists have chosen this path for a purpose and they will unflinchingly bend their fresh-gained might towards the achievement of this goal.

Alignment: Since Devil Born Fists must willingly bargain with Devils they cannot be good.  Devils will never entrust their power to chaotic supplicants.  All Devil Born Fists therefore are Lawful Evil, Lawful Neutral, Neutral Evil or very rarely True Neutral.

Hit Die: d8.

Requirements

To become a Devil Sworn Fist, a character must fulfill the following criteria.

Alignment: Lawful Neutral, Lawful Evil, Neutral Evil, or True Neutral.

Skills: Diplomacy 5 ranks.

Base Attack Bonus: +3

Feats: Improved Unarmed Strike, Stunning Fist.

Pact: A Devil Sworn Fist must swear a particular oath to a Devil Patron.  He must make friendly contact with a greater devil or higher and agree to terms which the Devil finds suitable.  The most common patrons are horned devils, ice devils, and pit fiends, though very rarely an archdevil, Duke of Hell, or even Asmodeous himself will take a supplicant Devil Sworn Fist.  The terms of this pact must be incredibly specific as to what is required of the Devil Sworn Fist.

Class Skills

The Devil Sworn Fist’s class skills are Acrobatics (Dex), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (history) (Int), Knowledge (the Planes) (Int), Knowledge (religion) (Int), Perception (Wis), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), Stealth (Dex), and Swim (Str).

Skill Ranks per Level: 4+ Int modifier.

Class Features

All of the following are the Devil Sworn Fist’s class features.

Weapons and Armor Proficiency

A Devil Sworn Fist gains no weapon or armor proficiency.

Contractual Obligation (Su): At 1st level a Devil Sworn Fist must sign a contract with a greater devil (or higher) outlining the terms of his service and requirements.  The onus on the Devil Sworn Fist seems small at first, a simple act performed on a moderate schedule, though if ever violated the terms will call for immediate forfeiture of not only their life but their eternal soul.  The benefits beginning at 1st level include stacking with Monk levels for determining unarmed damage bonus, AC Bonus, Fast Movement, Furry of Blows attack bonus, and Stunning Fists attempts.  If they do not have Monk levels, treat their Devil Sworn Fist level as their Monk level for these purposes. Benefits at later levels which apply to unarmed strikes may apply to any weapon with which Flurry of Blows can be used.

Lemure’s Pact (Su): At 1st level a Devil Sworn Fist gains resistance 5 to Acid and Cold.

Imp’s Pact (Su): At 2nd level the Devil Sworn Fist gains the service of an Imp consular (see Bestiary) such as could be gained by an Arcane spell-caster with the Improved Familiar Feat.  Use the Devil Sworn Fist’s character level as their Class level for purposes of familiar abilities.  This Imp serves a dual purpose, granting increased abilities to the Devil Sworn Fist in combat and scouting, as well as enforcing the terms of the Contractual Obligation.

Bearded Devil’s Pact (Su): At 3rd level the Devil Sworn Fist may substitute a use of their Stunning Fist ability to cause an Infernal Wound.  Infernal Wounds deals 2 points of bleeding damage per round. A DC 17 Heal check stops this damage, and any attempt to heal a creature suffering from an Infernal Wound must succeed on a DC 16 caster level check or the spell does not function.  Success indicates the healing works normally and stops all bleed effects on the victim.

Erinyes’ Pact (Sp): Beginning at 4th level the Devil Sworn Fist may use the animate rope spell three times per day as a spell like ability.

Bone Devil’s Pact (Ex): At 5th level the Devil Sworn Fist may substitute a use of their Stunning Fist ability to cause a Poisoned Strike.  Poisoned Strike—injury; save DC 15+ Con modifier; frequency 1/round for 6 rounds; effect 1d3 Str damage; cure 2 consecutive saves.

Barbed Devil’s Pact (Su): At 6th level the Devil Sworn Fist grows spines and barbs on their skin.  A creature that strikes the Devil Sworn Fist with a melee weapon without reach, an unarmed strike, or a natural weapon takes 1d8+Str modifier points of piercing damage from the barbs.

Ice Devil’s Pact (Su): At 7th level the Devil Sworn Fist may substitute a use of their Stunning Fist ability to inflict Numbing Cold.  Numbing Cold inflicts the slow spell for 1d6 rounds unless a DC 17+ Con modifier Fortitude save is made.

Horned Devil’s Pact (Su): At 8th level whenever the Devil Sworn Fist uses their Stunning Fist ability the effect lasts for 1d4 rounds instead and the DC to resist the effect is increased by 2.

Pit Fiend’s Pact (Su): At 9th level the Devil Sworn Fist gains the use of Hellfire Breath.  This breath weapon deals 5d6 fire damage and 5d6 unholy damage to a 30 ft cone (DC 10+ ½ character level+ Devil Sworn Fist level + Con modifier reflex save for half).  They may use this ability every 1d4 rounds, up to 3 times per day.

Devil Traits (Su): At 10th level the Devil Sworn Fists type changes to Outsider (Native, Lawful, Evil, Devil).  This grants the Devil Sworn Fist the following traits of the Devil subtype: Immunity to fire and poison, resistance to acid and cold increase to 10, See in darkness.

Duke’s Pact (Su): Beginning at 10th level anytime they slay a humanoid with an unarmed attack they may attempt to transform the slain creature’s soul into a ghost under their control.  The creature receives a Will save to negate this effect and pass on to the afterlife as normal (DC 10+ ½ character level+ Devil Sworn Fist level+ Wis modifier).  The Devil Sworn First may control a number of ghosts equal to their Cha modifier (minimum 1).

Summon (Sp): At 10th level the Devil sworn fist may summon as a Horned Devil (1/day, level 6, three barbed devils).

Level  BaB Fort Save  Ref Sav  Will Save  Special

1st       +0           +1           +1           +1           Contractual Obligations, Lemure’s Pact

2nd       +1           +2           +2           +2          Imp’s Pact

3rd        +2           +3           +3           +3         Bearded Devil’s Pact

4th       +3           +4           +4           +4          Erinyes’ Pact

5th       +3           +5           +5           +5          Bone Devil’s Pact

6th       +4           +6           +6           +6          Barbed Devil’s Pact

7th       +5           +7           +7           +7          Ice Devil’s Pact

8th       +6           +8           +8           +8          Horned Devil’s Pact

9th       +6           +9           +9           +9          Pit Fiend’s Pact

10th     +7           +10          +10         +10       Duke’s Pact, Devil Traits, Summon

“This post consists of Pathfinder Compatible material”

OGL & Compatibility Information

Comic Script: Knights of the Round

Isue 1: the Comet Falls

Page 1: 3 Panels

Panel 1: (Merin, white male, early forties, hair is light brown with strands of visible gray, eyes are green, dressed in plain brown robes with a single heavy brass medallion featuring the dragon of Pendragon on it is looking through a telescope.  He is in a tower, various books and chemistry apparatus scattered about.) Caption: “To now I’ve been a simple man—astronomer & physician to a petty King of Gwenydd.”

Panel 2: (Zoomed in view as though through the telescope shows a massive red comet, its tail awash of colors.) Caption: “’ve been tracking this comet for months, trying to determine where it’s heading.”

Panel 3: (Merlin with a terrified look on his face as a board covered in equations.) Caption: “I believe it’s coming right at me.  My name is Merlin, and my life is about to change.”

Page 2: Four Panels

(Panels show the comet breaking apart in the atmosphere in various stages—first the comet splitting in two, then each of those crumbling into four, then smaller pieces, then zoomed in on one of the meteorites)

Panel 1: Caption: “I watch the comet slowly breaking apart.

Panel 2: Caption: “If my calculations are correct it is the size of Brittania herself.”

Panel 3: “Now its scattered pieces rain down on hundreds, thousands, perhaps a hundred thousand locations.”

Panel 4: “The impacts must cover all the world, but I don’t have time to worry about that.”

Page 3: 1 Panel

Full page image showing the comet piece striking Merlon’s tower, his belonging and the bricks of the wall scatter through the air, he sits in the center, his eyes clenched tight, his hands held before his face as flames dance around him.

Page 4: Center panel and 3 side panels

Side panel 1: Flames and Smoke surrounding Sir Ector, an old man, late sixties, face creased with lines of age, dull grey eyes, white hair and moustaches, he is doubled over coughing from the smoke.

Side panel 2: A girl, Morgana, 17 years of age, dark black hair and green eyes, a beautiful if angular face, a large support beam is hitting her, knocking her to the ground.

Side panel 3: A boy, 15, silhouetted by the flames, his long scraggly hair is visible, and he is thin, this is Owain.

Main Panel: A comet piece crashing into a small house with a thatcd roof, flames ignited all across the house.

Page 5: 4 Panels

Panel 1: A hillside, a beautiful golden haired girl with blue eyes is being thrown from her horse as a piece of the comet hits her.

Panel 2: A forest, two boys look very scared as a comet slams into the ground between them.

Panel 3: A farm yard, a snake in the process of eating a chicken as the comet strikes.

Panel 4: A boy, blond almost silver hair, beautiful with curls and fine clothes swimming in a lake, the water boiling around him.  Word bubble (boy): “Nimmue!”

Page 6: 3 Panels

Panel 1: Merlin frantically searching his room, he is leaned over his table in the act of pushing aside a stack of books with one and knocking over pen and inkwell with the other.  Caption: “I can feel something changing in me as the heat envelops me.”

Panel 2: Merlin is back at the chalkboard, he has wiped a section blurrily clean and began to scribble new calculations over it.  Caption: “I should be dead.  Instead I can suddenly understand what eluded me before.”

Panel 3: Close up of Merlin a look of realization and understanding on his face. Caption: “I can track the impacts, and two more were close—one within the same building.”

Page 7: Full page with inset panel

Full Page: Smoldering remains of the thatch roofed house, smoke rising into the air.  In the background the outline of castle that contains Merlin’s half ruined castle can barely be seen.  Owain can now be seen, his back to the viewer, his dirty blond hair and dirty peasant clothes obvious, though his frame appears fuller than the earlier image.  Caption: “My name is Owain, Son of Sir Ector the Brave.  I live in Gwynedd with my father, long ago retired, and my sister Morganna.”

Inset panel: A close up of Owain’s face, stoic, but squinting his blue eyes, a smudge of charcoal beneath one eyes. Caption: “Or I did until this morning. . .”

Page 8: Right side one panel; left side four panels arrayed top to bottom.

Top left: Sir Ector and Owain outside the burning house, Sir Ector has been laid on the ground; Owain is turning to go back in the house, calling out as he rises.  Word bubble (Owain): “Morganna!”

Second left: Owain rushing through the door. Caption: “I’m barely thinking, the heat tingles almost; my whole body shivers.

Third left: Closeup of Morgana pinned beneath a massive wooden beam.  Word bubble (Morgan): “Owain!  It’s no use. . . tell father—“

Bottom Left: Owain crouched over Morganna, medium distance shot showing their tearful expressions.  He has his hands set under the beam.  Word bubble (Owain): “No, I’m not leaving you.”

Right: Owain has lifted the beam over his head, an expression of equal parts shock and joy. Caption (top): “I fight back the tears, straining to lift what must weight a thousand pounds. . .” Caption (bottom): “And to my surprise, I lift it easily.”

Page 9: Tri-panel; split top half, bottom half page

Top left: Morganna is in Owain’s arms, looking into his face, both their expressions still showing shock. Word bubble (Morganna): “How?”  Word bubble (Owain): “Does it matter?”

Top right: Shot from over Owain’s shoulder, showing Morganna’s expression.  Word bubble (Morganna) “Something’s change; I can feel it.”  Word bubble (Owain): Everything’s changed, but for the better?”

Bottom: Both face the fire and are silhouetted against it, their backs towards the viewer.  Word bubble (Off page): “The End!”

Page 10: Quad Split.

Top Right: Owain and Morgan lean down, tending their distraught father.  Sir Ector’s eyes have been replaced by glowing yellow pupil-less eyes.  Word bubble (Owain): “Father!”  Word bubble (Ector): “And in his final moments he was taken by the voice of prophecy!”

Top left: Close up of Sir Ector whose face is extremely animated into an almost grimace as he speaks.  Word bubble (Ector): “So it begins in fire; so will it end.  The fall is written even now!”

Bottom left: Owain clutching Ector; tears streaming down his face. Word bubble (Ector): “It’s you, son—you’re the one—the Wizard will know what to do. . .”

Bottom Right: Ector’s eyes are closed, Owain still crying over him, his face now buried in his father’s chest.  Word bubble (Ector): “Don’t be afraid, embrace your destiny.”  Caption: “So ends Sir Ector the Brave.”