Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Two Small Items

Whew! It's been a heck of a month. Summer teaching is finally done, four writing deadlines have been met (one to go), and things are starting to settle down a bit. Sorry for the month (or so) long hiatus, but the blog was the only thing I reasonably could let wait while I got other stuff done. But enough of my excuses!

Here are two ideas.

Patron Bond as Wizard Class Feature

First, I think every wizard in DCC RPG should get access to the Patron Bond spell--It should be a class feature. Yes, it would make elves slightly less special, but tough shit for them. The idea, here, is that supernatural entities are keen to keep their fingers in a variety of pies, and that being "successful" in ways that make sense to beings of such power, has a lot to do with that being's ability to exercise influence, either through bargains or through other control mechanisms. There also are plenty of people who might be greedy, crazy, or desperate enough to attempt such thing, even without a clear idea of what they're doing.

Having the patron bond (little p, little b) class feature, though, doesn't have to be the same sort of thing as having the Patron Bond (Big P, Big B) spell. The big difference is that a caster without the spell can certainly find some entity that wants to make a deal, but controlling the deal-making proceedings is often aided by incantations, rituals circles, and generally knowing what might get you better results, and what might get you killed.

The caster could simply roll the class feature version on a lower die. I'm tempted to say a d10, as it's an untrained "skill," but a wizard already has some knowledge of arcane magic's workings. So, a d14 would probably be a reasonable choice. You could even open it up to other character classes (but probably not clerics), and allow a d10 (or maybe a d8) roll. Even a warrior might try making sacrifices to beings capable of keeping the Big Sleep at bay for yet another day or two. Why wouldn't they take notice? I mean, hey, who knows where a warrior might be headed. A patron certainly would value a relationship with warlord or king, right?

Some More Stuff About Elves in Ur-Hadad

The elven caste system is as ancient as elven civilization itself, and entrenched in the minutia of elves' daily affairs. Before passage to Ore from whatever plane and or planet they came from, there was tension in that system, and many factions within elven society militated against its limitations. The Elven Dominion of Ore was one outcome of those earlier tensions. Now, though, the elves have been on Ore for millenia, both the Dominionists and the elves of the Old Kingdom. During that time they've been introduced to and (though they don't like to admit it) influenced by the ways of the other races, particularly the humans. This is especially true among the lower-caste elves.

Strangely, though, the bond with humans is not with the humans themselves--very few elves, even lower caste elves, interact regularly with the other races. Rather, the bond is with some of their political philosophy. Where elven civilization is stratified from the very top to the very bottom, human civilizations tend to allow for a lot more churning at the lowest levels. There's still aristocracy, of course. The humans aren't so crazy as to believe they could dispense with rule by their elites. But lower-class humans can rise up the ladder, especially if they're willing to step on their fellow humans to do so. This dynamic has give some lower-caste elves pretensions about How Things Should Be. Some of them have plans about this. Some of them are taking timid, tentative steps.

One odd thing that's come out of that emergence of class consciousness among lower-caste elves is in their slang. It's not uncommon to hear a lower-caste elf insult another by calling him or her "a'matrak kelorko" (more or less, "human fucker"). However, another insult has recently come into lower-caste elven parlance: "a'matrak kelorko-ul." The article "ul" in the elven language of Ore means "dead" or "dying," depending on the context. Given the sparseness of relations of any kind (let alone carnal or necrophiliac relations) among high-caste elves and humans, it's not clear why that insult would apply. If the graffiti in the elven quarter is any indication, though, the phrase seems to be growing in popularity. Also, it's becoming increasingly uncommon to see the masked and robed forms of high-caste elves among the hoi poloi of their folk, treating them almost like they treat humans and the other lesser races. Strange, that.