Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Merry Ides of March: A Plan, I May Has One

Or, How the hamster hopes to kick into gear again --

When I started up this blog, I hadn't counted on the sheer amount of material I was about to produce and toss up on it -- it was a grand time, but I couldn't maintain it forever and I only hurt myself by trying, especially after a few events (the most significant of which has nothing to do with gaming) put me in a place where I just wasn't writing my best. 2010 kept up that feeling of burnout compounded with other unpleasantness and the motivation just wasn't there.

But that's enough of that --

I had intended for 2011 to start off better, but crazed holidays, dental surgery and a phenomenally bad extended flu (I don't remember almost half of January ~!) kind of squashed that flat. Until now.

Starting with the beginning of March, I'm going to try to start posting at least semi-regularly again. I can't guarantee the output of my first year, the length of some of those posts or even always the same kind of material; but I'll be giving it a shot to at least be posting something that might see some use ;3

The Blogging From A to Z April Challenge (as passed along by Chris from the Vaults of Nagoh over here) also looks rather intriguing, I have to say ~

Let's give this a shot, shall we?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Egypt Gazetteer thoughts: on clerics.

Well, it looks like I'm actually devoting some brainpower to trying to make this work. Naturally, almost immediately I find myself having Deep Thoughts -- in this case about the four classes and what I plan to do with them.

The cleric is being, to put it kindly, a pain in the arse.

You see, the concept of a "cleric" or "priest" as it exists in the modern Western world (and in many other modern places for that matter) is of an individual who feels a higher calling, called to serve a higher power, preach the word, etc. etc, and this carries over into D&D with the benefits of getting nifty spells and the ability to smite (or control) the undead. Which is cool; I love me some crusaderish types with a warhammer or the pious healer types. It's all good.

But for the vast, vast majority of pharonic history in Egypt, it wasn't like that. Ye hells, there wasn't even an established priestly "social class" until the New Kingdom -- serving at a temple was something the middle class and the nobility did as a job, as a duty. They had seasonal shift-work at the temples, even. And when the concept of an "official" priesthood developed in the New Kingdom it was still more of a job than what we often define as "priest": one could be granted a priesthood as a sinecure, much like any other title, and men could pass on their positions to their sons. Certainly a lowly we'eb could work his way up the priestly ranks, but it was often more like looking for a promotion.

Priestly duties are also different from what the Western world is used to. The Egyptian priest maintains the rituals of the temple and performs the offerings to the god's statue in return for the benefices of the god in question to be given to the people -- a business transaction of sorts -- and because the rituals maintain the order of the universe so that the gods can do their thing. (The offerings to the deity were then distributed to the temple staff as part of their wages!) Very much an "I'll scratch your back, you scratch mine" sort of thing. This is why, when shrines and temples fell into disrepair such as during the Amarna interlude, the gods were said to not answer; humanity wasn't holding up its end of the bargain.

All of this isn't to say that there wasn't faith in Egypt -- there certainly was. In many ways, though, it was a very D&D-ish way of faith, with it's "I'll do x if you do y" (leaving aside how even the faithful will cheerfully threaten the gods when using magical incantations -- which the sun god gave to humanity as its perogative).

So, should there even be a "cleric class"? Or should it be subsumed into the other classes as something any given character may do as a profession? Much of the mechanical abilities assigned to the class fit just as well with an Egyptian "wizard" if not moreso. On the other hand, tweaking a few things to add a bit more flavour and keep the fourth class probably wouldn't break the metaphorical bank even if it might feel a little redundant to me as I write it.

Deep thoughts, blaergh ...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Scribblings from last night's workshift ...

Egypt Gazetteer

- (very!) brief overview

- class changes
-> alternate thief skills
-> redistribute spell lists
-> change/remove turning
-> "name levels"; patronage, titles

- currency and gear
-> weapons, armour
-> Egyptian versions of adventuring necessities
-> "basic kits"?

- spells
-> typical magic types
-> remove/alter most "blasters"
-> summonings, blessings, cursings

-> wax crocodile
-> parting water
-> teleport other

- critters
-> wolf of Upuaut
-> jackal of Anpu
-> divine ("golden") critters
-> akh
-> demon (generic)
-> demon, arrow of Sekhmet
-> sphinxes, Egyptian
-> constructs (ushabti, etc)
-> demon, tutelary (Aha/Bes)
-> Set-animal
-> "night serpent"
-> ba (dead human)
-> ba (manifestation of deity)
-> the Seven Hathors
-> solar cat
-> iaret

- changes to treasure
-> alter deben to "true" coinage?

- magic items
-> amuletic/glyphic magic

- deities

- cities
-> Khemenu (Hermopolis)
-> Waset (Thebes)
-> Mennefer (Memphis)
-> Iunu (Heliopolis)
-> Per-Bast (Bubastis)
-> Abdju (Abydos)

- ruins/necropoli
-> Great Place (King's Valley)
-> District of Eternity (Saqqara)
-> Nekhen
-> Abdju ...

- Kush and the Nubian kingdoms
-> Punt

- Libya and Syria-Palestine, Crete ...

- "the secrets of the deserts"
-> the West
-> predynastic sites
-> Eastern desert valleys
-> "demons and the dead"

- metaphysics & multiverse
-> sky
-> Duat (Field of Reeds)
-> darkened underworld
-> "God's Land"