I’ve just received my print copy of Lands of the Nile, the second African “not-Tribunal” book and it’s an absolutely fantastic piece of work, further demonstrating that “the Mythic World” of ArM5 includes much more than just the conventional construct of Europe and adding to the non-Christian extent of the setting.
To my mind, these two books have always been one project – in fact when Timothy (Ferguson) originally pitched the idea this material was going to be one book. This was how it was developed and brainstormed, until we realised the only way to do the material justice without compromising the amazing potential of this area was to excise Egypt and the Nile into it’s own book and give ourselves more time to get everything right for players and Storyguides alike.
As I’m in between official writing projects at the moment, I’ve decided to try a few different exercises to work on the technical aspects of ArM5 writing (aka “grogging” would be the appropriate word perhaps here) that I feel I need to develop more. This basically means practice.
The skill I think needs the most work is stat blocks – when it comes to a choice of “crunch” (mechanics), I’ll take “fluff” any day… partly because I think there are enough mechanics and sub systems already but mainly to avoid stat blocks.
So to make this more fun, I’ve decided to undertake a more whimsical project – I’m intending to interpret two of popular culture’s more recent misfits, Rocket andGroot, in ArM5 terms, but not just as a straight conversion, I want to represent this oddball pair in the Mythic Europe paradigm as characters that could be used in a default Saga.
I’ve started with Groot, mainly because I’ve been interested in the concept of Loamwalkers and their relationship to the Redcaps of The Broken Branches but also because I believe I can use the Elementals from Realms of Power: Magic as a starting point and then deconstruct and carve out a “Herbam Quasi-Elemental” from it, literally whittling out the Character Guide / Description from the rough block. He’s basically a lumbering giant made of bark and wood, with powers relating to changing parts of his form through growth and twisting, so I think I can replicate those elements readily enough with existing Powers and creative use of the Hibernian warrior feats or clesrada introduced in The Contested Isle (see pages 102-104) while still remaining within the ArM5 paradigm.
My initial design notes for Groot, sketched onto a promotional graphic can be found in the annotated image above, and the completed block will be uploaded shortly.
As to Rocket, a major stumbling block is that raccoons are not native to Mythic Europe (although have been introduced in later years apparently) and the morphologically similar raccoon dog is only found in the Far East… so unless I invoke a Criamon Greco-Buddhist mystic travelling back from a pilgrimage along the Silk Road with an exotic familiar I’m seemingly out of luck.
Fortunately Timothy has given me a great suggestion for the anthropomorphic weapons master that makes great sense and links the pair into Ars canon and history nicely…
So there’s a French versionof Ars Magica 5th edition and it has very beautiful cover-art (see the Covenants equivalent to the right).
I’ve been thinking about this since Timothy posted the announcement over on his blog, and since I haven’t quite worked out the whole “reblog” kung-fu, I’ll just post some comments here…
Sure, although I like the moody art, I think there’s something more here, perhaps just a trick of translation or emphasis but I’ve noticed that over time, particularly on the various forums, the concept of a covenant has become solidified for the vast majority of the community into a physical home for the magi, the whole “castle-on-the-hill-in-the-faerie-wood” trope alluded to in ArM5 Covenants.
Most of the canonical ArM5 covenants are described in terms of places, sites and locations, with some notable exceptions such as the Transylvanian examples.
But to me the place magi live is not actually what a covenant truly is.
Now that the house is more sorted following the sale, I’ve begun to dig out some of my research material that’s been unceremoniously shoved into the wardrobes. By example, I’ve dug out this gem of a little book, which has the following blurb:
“…The dream-hunters, or mazzeri, are unknown outside Corsica and probably date from pre-historic times. At night they go hunting or dream they do so – and kill an animal, in whom they recognise a human face. The next day they announce the death, which always takes place within a year. Where the mazzeri are harbingers of death, the signadori are guardians of life – they practise folk medicine, but more importantly,they secure release from the curse of the Evil Eye…”
When I first picked this up it looked just like a resource I could mine for a large amount of interesting material about the local variant of Nightwalkers (mazzeru or in the south, culpadori) and their benign counterparts, the signadori in particular. This was to be expected, but turns out to be a somewhat limited assumption.
Life does that – sickness in the family, unexpected pressures at work, trying to buy (and sell) a house while planning a trip to Europe etc etc.
Although it doesn’t excuse anything, I notice that the other attempts at NaNoWriMo / NaGaDeMon similarly stalled. (Although Timothy’s “Vanilla Covenant” project seems to be faring well, even though he is the first to admit he’s not really playing by the rules).
Still, it was a real fun start and one post and page per week on this blog wasn’t a bad achievement compared to some of the months I’ve been blogging. I’m really proud of the makila(walking sticks) and lickstone concepts – sure I lifted the latter concept completely from Timothy and just rebadged it for ArM5, but it seems a given to me that magical golden dental plates are a must for any self-respecting fashion conscious 13th century Redcap! 🙂
I found by focusing on a particular topic I actually managed to accumulate a lot of interesting ideas that I’ll hopefully use in the future – tattoos, Faeries as Items, magical feathers and much much more – perhaps even Marco’s amazing Faerie shoes. It also got me thinking about some other concepts: low-level common items with basic magics, the role of hedge magic items for Redcaps, mutable items complements, guidelines for single-use items and their replacements, Redcaps using stories as items, Faerie Item Companions, the interaction between Faerie charms and Redcaps… I think there’s actually a lot to be explored here so I do want to eventually write a full 30 posts / pages on Redcap magic items.
On a technical note, I also learnt quite a bit more about blogging style and formatting, which I think will help as I evolve the rest of the blog and go back and correct some of the issues I had initially with formatting exported text from cut files of supplements or Sub Rosa articles.
I’m catching up tomorrow over lunch with Timothy Ferguson, line author extraordinaire and a great inspiration to me. To this end, I was rereading his collated “Marco the Liar” posts over breakfast. Theses short tales were originally written as part of an attempt at NaGaDeMon, but he became ill during the writing process, completing only 15 posts and then a final post that winds up some of the loose threads. It’s complete enough in its own right, although I do hope for more Marco tales in the future.
The Tales of Marco the Liar is not only a great piece of fiction IMO but also a very interesting insight into the subtle and sophisticated “Fergusonian” meta-game philosophy that underlies all of his contributions to the line and his unofficial material that surfaces in Sub Rosa or his “Games From Folktales” blog (itself constructed mainly from high quality offcuts and extras from his published works).