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Jul 26, 2013

Vilhellm Xonafitii

I got in the mood to draw today, so I drew the protagonists of the current story I'm writing with my cousin. This first one is my character, Vilhellm "Will" Xonafitii. One thing you should know about my own mythos, Argaenothruzil, is that though it uses lots of cliches (such as elves, dwarves, and vampires), it does so so that I as the writer can interpret them in my own way. In a sense, it's a sort of my fanfiction of classic fantasy.
Will is a wampyre, a recently discovered race (for mainland Argaenothruzil) from Nerolanth. Wampyres in my universe are not bloodthirsty monsters. They are simply another race in the world. They are a nocturnal race, mainly because their skin is sensitive to the sun; their eyes can range from red and orange to pink and magenta in color; they only drink blood from animals, and some even drink the juice from fruits. They are a vain race who value their family lines, ingenuity, and written works.
Will himself spent some of his childhood in mainland Argaenothruzil, so he learned to speak Argaen without a Nerolanthian accent. His main goal in the story is to travel to Argae and become a part-time diplomat and a full-time artifact hunter. He meets Zenaeron, my cousin's character, and they set off together to go on adventures. You can read the story as it stands thus far here, and it's a work in progress, so we're adding to it almost daily.
I'll upload other pictures soon!

Jul 19, 2013

The Creation of the World

I've been slacking on projects due to an especially enthusiastic playthrough of Oblivion, so here's a filler: A look into the world of Argaenothruzil (my play-by-post forum RPG) and its creation. If you want to read stories that take place in this world, check out the forum itself here!

The Creation of the World 

Before the world existed, there was only Void. Matter chaotically flowed through the infinite Void with no reason to do anything else. Th
e only life in the entire universe were the Intelligences. The Intelligences were beings that resembled what humans would later become. They knew the balance of the cosmos and how, more or less, to control it. There were many Intelligences, but nine in particular had great leadership skills amongst the rest

It became meet in time for the Intelligences of the cosmos to organize the matter in the universe and pass on their lineage to lesser beings, mortals. All of the Intelligences agreed that the population of mortals they created should appear in their own image, but before they could create life, they would have to create a world on which their denizens could live. From the matter scattered across the infinite Void, they sorted out five important elements: Fire, Water, Earth, Air, and Quintessence.

Quintessence was the same substance that flowed through the veins of the Intelligences. They used this godly essence to construct the countless stars in the sky.

From Earth, the Intelligences created planets, moons and other bodies of rock to serve as the solid representation of matter in the universe. They especially made great care to form the World on which they planned to let their heirs inhabit.

They used the element Fire to create a yellow Sun to warm their new world. Some Fire was also used within the world itself and other planets.

Water was used mostly for the seas and oceans of the world, but some Water was frozen and wrapped around stars called comets.

Air was useless to the Intelligences, but they created with it a bubble of pure Air around the world in hopes that their inferiors could use it to sustain their mortal life.

Having now a mortal world on which to extend their children’s lives, the Intelligences created a race of strong, healthy humans from the dirt on which they were destined to stand. The Intelligences also created many different animals and plants to accompany them. To make the mortal lives begin, the Intelligences inserted into their veins the most special of all their creations, blood. This sacred fluid was the epitome of the Intelligences’ love for their children.

At this time, the Intelligences of the cosmos reached an argument. What would the human race’s objective in life be? The nine head Intelligences each had a different point of view for the mortal race, but they were divided into three main viewpoints. One group believed that the human race should want to help each other and work together. Another believed that they should work only for their own pride and self-accomplishment. Still another believed that both of the others were wrong, and that something in-between should be achieved, something balanced, like the way in which the world was created.

At last, most of the Intelligences agreed that all of the various viewpoints would be present in their world of men, and that a compromise should be made. But some of the Intelligences were deeply offended and demanded that their way should be the only one present. At this point, the Intelligences made a “Great Division” within themselves. Two-thirds of the nine became known as Gods, hoping for the well-being of the world, and one third became known as Demons, hoping for the possible destruction of what they had just helped create. The latter group and its followers were driven out of the council and shunned.

The world was made up of two continents: Argaenothruzil(or “Gods’ Crown”) and Elidethnar(or “Noble Diamond”). After the Great Division, the Demons attempted at once to seize control of the world for their own practices. The Gods and their army of Angels outnumbered the cowardly Demons, and succeeded in saving Argaenothruzil from their evil taint. Unfortunately, the dark grasp of the Demons held fast to the latter continent of Elidethnar. The continent was corrupted beyond the Gods’ control of it. Before the blight could spread, the Gods decided to use their remaining element of Air to thwart the Demons’ plan. With their remaining supply of element Air, the Gods conjured massively violent storms surrounding the corrupt island in hopes that none of their noble children on Argaenothruzil would be touched by its dark influence. The storms successfully ceased the Demons’ invasion, but the humble continent of Elidethnar was lost. The Gods’ children there were no longer in the safety of their influence. Only a small part of their power could occupy them any longer. The Demons rejoiced in their taking of the entire continent to their own. They renamed the continent Eredathios, meaning “Black Possession.”

To this day the Gods extend their help to their beloved blood-children in hopes that they can sustain the order of the world, but not all of their heirs held fast to the feelings of Good in their hearts. Many let their ungodly passions corrupt their own minds and become under the Demons’ influence, and some even lost the love of order altogether, and sought to aid their Demon lord masters. However, most of the blood-children adhere to the standards set by their divine creators, even through the much evolution the world’s population has gone through, to the splitting of races besides pure humans. In many societies, they construct magnificent temples in worship to the Gods. Although, of course, there are those gullible and weak-minded who spill their own precious god-given blood in sacrifice to Demons as well. The Nine Deities and their alignments are as follows:

Vendictes: The most pure of the Gods, Vendictes dwells in the hearts and minds of the blood-children in hopes that he can guide them in their thoughts to what is right in their lives and the lives of others. He is always with those who are Virtuous.

Phroella: Known as the Nature Mother by some, Phroella is always anxious to use her argument-quelling powers to settle the various disputes among men. She is the Goddess of sympathy, regret, and forgiveness, and the Goddess of Peace.

Bezzoan: The noblest God is by far Bezzoan, who puts determination and fervor into the hearts of his blood-children. He is a warrior God, but not a bloodthirsty one. He is revered by those who value their Honor above all else.

Henaeros: The wisest of the Gods and the organizer of the world’s creation, it was Henaeros who protected Argaenothruzil from the steady corruption of Eredathios. Henaeros is the God who never changes, and he believes that the world should be that way as well. Henaeros is the God of Order.

Ezrim: Ezrim, who esteemed the Demons’ actions intolerable in comparison to the Gods’, chose to join their order. He was the founder of the cities and governments of Argaenothruzil and gave the kings of such cities divine right to rule. Those who seek Justice are favorites of Ezrim’s.

Moeki: Moeki was actually one of the Intelligences who proposed a selfish race of humans, but in seeing his comrades the Demons outnumbered in vote joined the Gods instead. He is a cunning, sneaky God, and he still believes deep down that the favor of others is ultimately important. Those who seek Fortune worship Moeki in particular.

Rauroth: Perhaps the most quick-tempered of the Demons, Rauroth’s entire being is consumed in hatred for the Gods and his banishment from their council. Those of the world who find themself in a similar vengeful state of mind will find themself growing closer to the influence of Rauroth, the Demon of Revenge.

Khlamul: Followers of Khlamul are rarely religious, busying themselves entirely in the workings of science and knowledge, in hopes of dominating others. He was among one of the more missed of the council, as his lust for knowledge was rivaled only by Henaeros. Now he sees no other way to defeat the Gods than to overtake them by making himself more Powerful than they.

D’nethrokash: The most evil of all the Demons, it was D’nethrokash the Corrupter who succeeded in obtaining Eredathios from the Gods’ control. He is the Demon of Chaos, and seeks to destroy everything that he does not control. Many of the citizens living on the Eredathios continent were driven mad with his dark energies, but his influence extends to a small number of individuals in Argaenothruzil as well.

By way of commentary (so this post isn't a complete cop-out), I think it's interesting how I made this up without too much thought, but that certain archetypes seen in other stories apply here. For example, just like in the Elder Scrolls mythos, there are Nine "Divines," though admittedly three became evil. This is also an interesting allusion to LDS theology, in that "a third" of the hosts of heaven chose Satan's plan over God's.
I also, if you notice, tried to add variety to the Deities' names by making each one have a different beginning sound and ending sound.
Bonus points for whoever can comment and guess who the actors are I used to portray them.
I HATE the actor I had to choose for Vendictes, but that is literally the only picture I could find that remotely resembled the god I imagined in my head. If anyone knows of an older actor who has a beard and a benevolent smile, please let me know.

Jul 10, 2013

Story: The Phoenix Suns Coat

And now it’s time for storytime with Austin. Today's story: The Tale of the Phoenix Suns Coat.

When I was in Fifth Grade, I had a Phoenix Suns coat. It was a pretty nice coat, as coats go. It was purple and orange, and had a shining basketball on the back. It was probably a hand-me-down, but I liked it. My coat didn’t have a zipper—it was one of those pullover-style coats with a hood. Basically like a hoodie made of the slick, snow-resistant coat material.

My coat kept me warm at recess, but it was too hot to wear during lunch. Besides that, because it was so bulky, I didn’t like carrying it or draping it over my shoulder while getting my food tray and eating at the tables. At my middle school, the lunchroom was in the hallway on the way to the doors to the playground. Going down the hallway toward the recess doors, the lunchroom doors were on the left, and on the right were the pop machines next to the gym doors.

Every day on my way to lunch, I would pull off my coat and leave it next to the pop machines. After I ate my food, I would come out the exit doors a ways down the hall, put on my coat, and head off to the snowy playground. I don’t know why exactly I put it by the pop machines every day. I can’t remember the first time I thought they were a convenient and safe place to store my coat. I just remember that being the routine for most of the winter months of school. That way, I wasn’t inconvenienced during lunch, and I could be warm as I played outside every day.

Have you ever experienced that sort of hopeful ignorance you get when you’re doing something you know you could get in trouble for? It’s not even just a one-time emotion—it’s an attitude, a habit; a routine that you know could blow up in your face any time. It’s like speeding, or going outside without sunscreen, or not having a spare key under the mat on your porch. Somehow, with this ignorant hope, we just go on in life, fully realizing we’re balancing on a tottering pinnacle, fully at the mercy of Lady Luck, when we could be in control of the situation with a little less laziness. But since each day turns out okay, that small bit of extra convenience seems to be worth the risk.

Anyway, one day when I came out from lunch, the coat was gone.

I remember being pretty distraught about it. Not enough to skip recess, of course. A kid’s gotta do what he can, even without staying warm. I may have told my teacher or looked in the lost and found, but as far as I remember, I just had to accept the sad fact that somebody had stolen my Phoenix Suns coat, and there was nothing I could do about it.

Months passed, and I wore a different, less warm jacket to recess every day. I never left it near the pop machines, but that may just be because it was light enough to take into lunch.
Eventually, it was Easter time, and the school was abuzz about the upcoming Egg Drop. Each student would be given an egg to be put in a package. The principal would drop the boxes from a cherrypicker, and whosevers egg remained intact would win McDonalds coupons. I can’t remember if that’s the year I encased my egg in jello, or attached a makeshift parachute to my box. Either way, the day finally came when our entire Fifth-Grade class got to get out of class for the Egg Drop.

The principal got into the cherrypicker, and as it slowly rose over the students, I saw a familiar set of colors on the opposite side of the blacktop. There in the crowd was my Phoenix Suns coat, worn by some punk from another class! I told my friend Jake about the coat being the same missing coat I had lost months earlier. “Are you sure, man?” he asked. “I’ve seen Phoenix Suns coats like that before.” But it all made sense. That cretin had taken my coat from its usual place by the pop machines that fateful lunch hour, and had the audacity to wear it himself at a grade-wide event!

I told my teacher, Mr. Peterson, who also asked me if I was sure. Of course I was sure. The hood, the pullover-style, the purple and orange color scheme… that was my coat! Besides, what was the kid going to do when he was confronted if it was my coat? Deny it? Fifth-graders are too dumb to do that, at least to a teacher’s face.

I enjoyed the Egg Drop as much as I could, while glancing over repeatedly at that kid flouncing around in my coat. When it was over, Mr. Peterson disappeared into the crowd. At this point, I panicked. What if he pointed over to me as body language for “That kid is that coat’s rightful owner”? I was a small kid, and the other guy was too, what with him fitting in my coat and all, but what if he had bigger friends who would come beat me up? (I was kind of a worrier when I was younger) I hurried with my friends inside, avoiding any eye contact.

I went to the restroom, and when I emerged, I saw it—in the arms of a female teacher (the jerk thief’s, apparently), my glorious coat lay draped. I couldn’t help but feel a sense of triumph at seeing the coat presented like that—unworn. The teacher had no idea it was my coat; she was just on her way to leave it in the office for its owner to pick up. She gave me a polite smile as she walked by. I later would pick up my coat at the office and wear it for as long as it would fit me. But as I looked out at the woman’s class fanning out behind her, I found it interesting that, without the coat, the coat-stealer kid was unrecognizable.

All throughout high school, when classes were no longer divided, I never could make the connection of who the coat-stealer was. Perhaps he moved sometime after the Egg Drop, or perhaps I later unwittingly became good friends with him. Regardless of who the living, breathing soul was who really did it, I like to think of that kid I saw wearing my coat as someone I’ll never see again—someone who no longer exists, save in my memory. As far as I know, I was the victor on Egg Drop day, and Coat Stealer’s plan was thwarted.

The End

Jul 9, 2013

New Project: Corridor Role-playing Game

I decided just randomly a week or so ago (Literally randomly. I seriously can't even think of what gave me the idea. I was just suddenly there at my computer, with four pages typed up already) to make a handbook for the original Corridor game (previously called "The Hero," and "Dungeons of Doom") that my brother and friends would play as kids.
I'm taking some liberties; for example, a six-sided die is now used to determine the success of certain encounters, and a set of skills are going to be included. But I'm going to try and capture the basics of the game I had so much fun inventing and playing.
Of course, when I'm done I'll release it as a .pdf for download. I'm also still trying to come up with a logo for Corridor (both the board game and the pen-and-paper RPG).
Anyway, hopefully I can capture the fun of actual Corridor games like the one shown here from high school. Obviously, back then we only needed paper and pencils, but a guide will help to organize some of the more iffy rules and have a template for dungeons.
I just really am fascinated with Corridor. I think it's interesting that, even though I never learned about Dungeons and Dragons as a kid, I came up with my own version. I think there's something inside all of us that wants to pretend, to explore what we can come up with on our own. Just looking at the unfinished game here, I really, genuinely wonder what's behind that door blocked by the wooden wall. And I wonder what all of the situations were that these characters encountered. That's the problem with this game, is that you can only play it once per sheet of paper. Then it's anyone's guess what happened amidst the mess of scribblings and erasings. I wish I could invent something that could read the order that lines were drawn. Then I could see it drawn all over again and really get some good ideas.
Anyway! Another fun project on the list to have fun working on. Later days!

Jul 2, 2013

Battle Cards Spotlight 3a: Gameplay I

Part 3a: Gameplay

I'm not sure if my friends and I ever came up with a standardized way of playing Battle Cards. In fact, to my memory I can only remember playing about ten full games total. There were some mechanics that we never were able to completely iron out before the Age of Battle Cards came to an end, but I'll do my best to remember for the purposes of this post.

Understanding the Parts of a Battle Card

  • CARD NAME: This is the name of the Battle Card. Heroes have their hero class, followed by their actual name to distinguish them from other similar heroes.
  • HIT POINTS: These show how much life the Battle Card starts with. All Battle Cards, for whatever reason, have hit points in multiples of 10. When it reaches zero, the Battle Card is discarded into the dead pile.
  • ELEMENT: What subdeck the card belongs to. The basic elements are Good, Evil, Wild, Tame, Artifact, and Special Move. Some attacks do extra damage or special effects to certain elements as well. For an explanation of the different elements and their icons, see Part 2: Design.
  • APPEARANCE: A visual depiction of the item, troop, special move, or hero.
  • ATTACKS: Each attack has an icon, a name, and one or more effects. The effects will be detailed later.
  • DESCRIPTION/BIOGRAPHY: Every Battle Card has an description, which looks into the untold lore of Battalia. It may describe the unit's origin, practices, diet, etc. Heroes have more specific biographies. Also written here are any special abilities or rules the card carries with it.
  • OTHER FEATURES: "Credit cards" (see below) have a monetary value assigned to them (for example, 50$); One tame card, the Wind Wizard, had an MP stat alongside its HP that it used as a mana cost for its attacks.


As far as I can remember, this is basically the way a typical game of Battle Cards went.
  1. First, we would choose our deck. We would decide beforehand how many each person would get (for example, 1 hero, 1 artifact, and 10 troops). We would arrange them in the order we wanted them to fight in. This style of a "linear" sort of formation was later replaced by a style in which we could set out up to three cards in front of us, each taking its turn. This way we could choose which of the enemy cards to attack, rather than just the first one in the enemy deck (for purposes of explanation, the first style will be called style A and the second B)
  2. The first player would take his turn. A turn could consist of switching out your card for another one, equipping an item, or using an ability. If he chose an attack, it would take effect immediately on the enemy card. The card would take however much damage the attack was designated, or receive the designated status effect. If the card died, it would be discarded into the dead pile, and in style A any leftover damage from the attack would be carried to the next card(s).
  3. The next person would take his turn.
  4. Whoever destroyed his enemy's deck would win.
  1. No using the same attack twice in a row.
  2. God cards cannot be killed in one hit under normal means.
  3. Certain cards could be banned for being too "power-happy."
As you can see, there are a few glaring problems with these rules: Firstly, what limits are put on the card attacks? We recognized that Pokémon cards had those energy cards that were used as a sort of cost system for attacks, but we didn't want to waste paper making a buttload of those. So instead, we simply said that you can't use the same attack twice in a row. This worked okay, but if a card had one devastating attack, they could still use it every other turn for power-happy results. Secondly... well, let's do a whole section on "style A."

Concerning style A, as I arbitrarily refer to it in this post, I have no idea what we were thinking. I think we had a basic grasp on the gameplay of Pokémon cards, and I think they work the same way, with one Pokémon card being in play at a time. This makes sense regarding the whole system of Pokémon trainers sending out their Pokémon one at a time. But carrying over the damage? I think we wanted to make it realistic, in that if a blast of fire seared through one unit, it would continue with the rest of its fuel to harm enemies behind it. But this caused all sorts of issues like having to arrange your troops in a strategic order, which subtracted greatly from the fun. Also, what is the point of an attack that makes the enemy lose its next turn? It uses up your turn, which means it's automatically your turn again. You might as well not do it. And more than one turn would be unfair, because according to our rules you could do it repeatedly forever. I guess this would make sense if more than two people were playing, but style B makes a lot more sense, in that you would want to silence certain cards so that other cards could deal with them. In fact, it makes me sad that it took us so long to get to that point.

The rules were never completely ironed out, but oh well.

On the next Battle Cards Spotlight, I'll discuss specifics of the game such as Combat Effects and Attack Design.