Archive for the ‘Mythology in Gaming’ Category

Not a T & T Pantheon, Part two   1 comment

We have gone through about half of the Gameless Pantheon.  There are still beauties and horrors yet to come.  Let’s finish the tour of  these godlings.

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K!Ning, God of Torture. The letter N is or me the essence of paiN.

K'Bronzr is the god of heroes. You can just see that he's the kind who likes to go around defeating evil.

K'tring is the goddess of cats--a loose tribute to my wife Catherine at the time. She was, and still is, a great cat lover. And it could easily be argued that the tiger is the greatest of cats, or perhaps this tigress.

Lillitu was inspired by Lilith, Adam's first wife, she who went on to become the first succubus. She is a sex and pleasure goddess..

Maquuatl was mean to be a warrior god--I was thinking of the maquahuitl, the Aztec sword club made of obsidian and wood, but I was also thinking a bit of my friend Stephen MacAllister,who had the best beard of anyone I knew. I must have mentioned my bearded friend, and this is what came out--a wild hermit dervish instead of an Aztec warrior..

Minos, the bull god of strength is clearly a minotaur. Ernest Hogan and I were on the same page with this monstrous embodiment of virility and power.

Every pantheon needs a god or goddess to express the inexpressible, explain the unexplainble, and embody that which has no form. Ernest got off lightly by drawing his Nameless Spirit in invisible ink.

Nook-nook is the Creature from the Black Lagoon. He is the masculine God of Water and all watery things. As such, he is also a fertility deity.

As you can clearly see O is Adonis, giver of light and life itself.

Oxnard is the God of Dragons. You can see his name almost spells dragon if you look at it backwards and the number of letters is the same. Oxnard is also God of Fire.

Pyssyr is the Goddess of Water and of the Sea. Yes, there is a dirty pun hidden in that name.

Shagreen is the god of merchants and of money. The name came from shagreen leather, a rough knobbly form of leather commonly made from shark hides. As you can see, the association of merchants with sharks is a fair one.

Ttex is the Goddess of Justice and Balance. The name comes from Texas, Land of the Fair Deal/

Welbi is the Goddess of Medicine and Healing. With so many beings in the pantheon that would just love to hurt you, we need one that's willing and able to cure you. Yes, the name came from the tv show of the time--Dr. Welby.

Zlaz in the Lord of Shadows. Inspired by Roger Zelazny who was just starting the Amber series at the time, it seemed fitting to make the last deity in the list a master of Shadow.

And that’s it, my friends, a pantheon of deities that never existed, tributes to the things I thought about back then.  As a writer, I have only words, only feeble concepts to express their glory and importance.  But my artistic friend Ernest had much more.  He had then, and still has as far as I can tell,  a weird and unusual way of looking at the world.  He showed me things in my godlings that I could never have imagined for myself.  Thank you, Ernest.

If you worship any of these strange gods, perhaps under different names, feel free to leave a comment.

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City of the Gods Revisited   Leave a comment

M. Scott Verne stopped by TrollCon last week, and played a game of Tunnels and Trolls with me.  In his honor, I winged something using a deck of Magic ™ cards and his latest project–the City of the Gods Map Pack.  When we were done, he gave me one, and asked if I’d review it.  Since this is a very handsome gaming accessory, I, of course, agreed to do so, and here comes the review.

If you don’t know about The City of the Gods by M. Scott Verne and Wynn Mercer you should take a moment and check it out.  They have a website for their book at http://Cityofthegods.com, and the book is available on http://Amazon.com.  I also reviewed the book in an earlier blog–you can see that here: https://atroll.wordpress.com/2011/03/11/city-of-the-gods-the-book/.  The map pack is not available at Amazon yet.

Although the book is epic fantasy, this map pack is planned as a gaming supplement.  It’s a generic product that could be used with any gaming system.  If you are the kind of Game Master who is chronically short on time and/or imagination, these generic products can be a real boon.  They provide settings and npcs that can be adapted into almost any campaign.  I should mention here that City of the Gods Map Pack is a Catalyst product from Flying Buffalo Inc.  (http://flyingbuffalo.com) As such, it is the latest in a series of products that included City books and Traps books, and you can learn more about them on the Flying Buffalo web site.

This module contains several different pieces.  First, there is a very handsome map of the city itself, printed on medium grade cardboard in full color.  Here’s a look at it:

How many quarters are there in a city? I'm counting at least 18.

The color is absolutely gorgeous, and you’ll be amazed at how much detail can be crammed into an 8.5 X 17 inch map.  The main attractions of the city are the major temples.  I mean, what are gods without their temples?  It’s almost like Where’s Waldo?  How many different famous buildings can you identify in this map.  The Great Pyramid of Gizeh dominates the lower left quadrant, but can you find the Parthenon, the Colisseum, the Taj Mahal or the Forbidden City?  Can you distinguish the different cultures and mythologies represented here?  For those of us with an interest in world mythology and history, the map alone is like a referesher course in the history of the world.

(As a side note, Mr. Verne pointed out that I have had an influence on the city.  If you look in the Egyptian quarter you will find the Sphynx of Nebthu, which was never mentioned in the novel FORGOTTEN.  It appears now because I mentioned the sphynx as the temple headquarters for Sekhmet the Cat Goddess in a short story that I wrote for an upcoming City of the Gods anthology.  Mapmaker and artist extraordinaire Steven Crompton liked the idea, and crowded it into his metropolitan design. Heh!  Of course I like the map–a little piece of me is in there.)

The biggest part of the module is a 20 page guidebook to the map.  If you look carefully at the map, you can find little blue circles with numbers in them.  Each numbered location, all 105 of them, is described and explained briefly in the guidebook.  Study them all, and you will really know your way around the city of the gods.  The guidebook also has a section that lists and describes the 18 character cards–all done in full color–that come as part of the package.  Each character is meant to be used as an adventure hook for a G.M. wanting to set a game in this environment,   The cards give the reader some idea of the appearance and powers of the different non-player characters that might be encountered in the city, and where one would be likely to find them.

The back cover of the book shows the extended map for the realm of the gods.

Eighteen character cards, each with a full color portrait, a listing of abilities, a probable location, and a deity allegiance are included in a separate little packet.  They would be ideal for showing players in a rpg just who they are dealing with.  Most of the characters are gods and goddesses, but there are a few that are just mortals or heroes.  Oddly enough, D’Molay, the protagonist of the City of the Gods, is not included as somene that you might meet.

trading cards of the gods

There is also an 8 page pamphlet in black and white with short excerpts from the first novel.  There is a 2-sided CotB bookmark featuring D’Molay and Aavi.  And there is a full-length comic book created by Steven Cormpton and Debra Kerr–Pantheon number 2.  The Pantheon comic features some of the same characters as City of the Gods, but in earlier incarnations–so to speak.

The whole map pack is very handsomely printed and a delight to the eyes and mind.  It is designed to appeal to gamers, and to lead them back to the novel, and to the sequels that are planned for that novel.  With a suggested price of about $20, this is a high quality gaming product.

I have only one criticism.  For someone who has already read and enjoyed the novel, there is really nothing new here.  The art is recycled, and the prose in the booklets and on the cards simply summarizes and condenses what we learned about the city in the book.  (That’s not strictly true–there are some places on the map that were either never mentioned, or mentioned only briefly, in FORGOTTEN, and that info should be new–but it’s obviously background material that the authors created for the main project, and it will probably be featured in the sequels.)  One of the first rules of film making is “Reuse your footage.” and that appears to be a rule of the City of the Gods project as well.  It is very fine footage, and well worth re-using, but it isn’t really new.

In a normal review I’d say this is a very fine product, perhaps four stars out of five, and recommend you purchase it, but this is Atroll’s Entertainment.  I make comments and critical remarks here without any recommendations.   The map pack amused and delighted me, and I was able to use it for a Tunnels and Trolls session–I’m glad to have it.  You might like it, too.

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