Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I had a thought at work today, hearkening back to a conversation we had the other day. The pharmacists usually complain that the pharmacy is too cold while the technicians complain about it being too hot. This discrepancy is easily attributed to the fact that pharmacists typically stand in place while technicians move around doing actual work.

This brought me to the comparison of a wage-worker's exertions compared to a salaried worker's exertions and the notion of a hard/honest day's work. This does not hold true across all professions but in the general scheme a wage worker is concerned with physical matters while a salaried worker is paid for the benefit of his mind.

My thought, and the reason for this post, was a simple exchange between a white collar and a blue collar when there was physical work to be done (perhaps a shelf had fallen and the mess needed picked up) and the white collar left it to the blue collar.

The blue collar asks, "How about you help me clean this mess up?"
The white collar responds, "It's a matter of principles."
The blue collar asks, "You're principled?"
"Huh, that's a mighty long word for lazy."

However, I was just reminded of a most delightful word: sesquipedalian. Sesquipedalian as an adjective refers to an overly long or multi-syllabic word or one who uses overly long words. So the exchange becomes a bit more subtle and impenetrable if the blue collar responds, "Huh, that's a rather sesquipedalian term for lazy."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Drums of War, Chimes of Defense

As I was walking out of my room, the video playing on my computer had a particularly deep note that sounded like a moment of deep thunder or the strike of a very large drum. It occurred to me that such deep, thunder-like rumblings are inherently frightening (humans and animals alike are frightened by huge claps of thunder, even when distant) and that might be the reason why drums of war are so evocative a means to demoralize an enemy.

I thought about the Owl Clan constructing a huge drum to sound the deepest, most primal notes possible. I remembered the huge speakers the team on Mythbusters built in an attempt to make the loudest car stereo system and wondered how a Rokugani people would make such a device. I imagined a drum 20+ feet across. Where would you get the material to make a skin? Does a drum work the same when the skin is patched together from multiple pieces? I assumed not because every real drum I have seen (made from natural materials) is one continuous piece. Perhaps if I used magic to seamlessly merge multiple skins. But where would I get so many skins?

My first thought turned to goblins from the Shadowlands. Now that would be a hell of a drum, constructed from the flesh of Rokugan's enemies. It would also creep the hell out of Rokugani. In fact, it would likely be considered a tainted object of great evil and I would be seen as an evil, insane artisan in the vein of Asahina Yajinden. So I immediately thought of the exact opposite idea: a bell.

Bells are strongly connected to good and right and religion. Temples sound a heavenly, clear peal of the blessed bell to start the day and mark special occasions. But no one uses bells in an advancing army because of the size and weight issues (and you want to sound a bell from high up to let the sound reach as far as possible). Bells are a defensive signal, raising the alarm to alert the defenders while drums are an offensive signal, keeping time for the march and instilling that primal fear of approaching thunder.

However, the thought of an army that sounds chimes and bells as it camps across from the enemy. Large bells have have an ominous, deep ring. Not quite the fearsome thunder but evoking the death knoll has its advantageous connotations.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Quaeless's Adventure Log

We played through ADAP1-1 Barrow of the Ogre King, Core 1-1 Inheritence, Bald1-1 Flames of Initiation, and Corm1-1 Black Knight of Arabel.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Day of the Crab - Owl Clan Rice Festival

This past weekend was the 4th of July and the weekend edition of the Mesa Republic was, as expected, primarily concerned with the holiday. I read it today because I was busy all weekend.

The Owl Clan goes out of its way to support their neighbors and family, the Crab (the Owl are situated at the north end of Crab lands and the daimyo's wife is a Kaiu samurai-ko). The Owl understand and deeply appreciate the sacrifices the Crab make on behalf of the Empire and this festival is part of their effort to give back to the Crab.

The Day of the Crab is a combination of Memorial Day and Independence Day. It takes place in late spring or early summer after the rice harvest (going by a website that cites the rice growing season for southern Thailand, planting occurs September to November while harvesting occurs in March through May). All Owl, from the daimyo to the eta, refrain from regular work in honor of the holiday. In the morning, the Owl rise and pay their respects to the fallen Crab.

Incense is lit in their honor as lists of that year's dead as well as stories of Crab heroes who have died in battle are read aloud amongst each family (some Owl families adopt particular parts of the Kaiu Wall and focus on warriors who served there). The air of mourning and the gravity of heartbreak give way to the day's labors as the portion of Owl rice destined for Crab lands is gathered at Shiro Ryujoji along with other Owl gifts (raw materials like iron ore, linen, lumber, etc along with finished gifts like armor, clothing, and supplies).

Immediately following this gathering, the Owl adopt a spirit of joviality as they enjoy the afternoon and evening festival. The Owl eat, sing, dance, and compete to enjoy the day more than any of their brethren. Having paid their respects to the dead and having gathered their gifts for the coming year, the Owl celebrate, for only by enjoying the life of safety and freedom the Crab have given them can the Owl truly honor their sacrifices.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Gluttony Spell

Had an idea for a spell while eating a hot dog.

The spell is a magical compulsion to consume one's body weight in food by the end of the day. According to a quick google search, humans only consume about 1/20 their body weight in food. As such, a 20-fold increase in diet would likely rupture the stomach.

I imagine Saren Kollmer would use this gluttonous curse on rich and poor alike. The rich have the means to actually kill themselves before day's end while the poor would die more slowly, having consumed the entirety of their pantry.

The subject of the curse is driven to eat continuously. Water and other libations will be taken as needed but a diet of just liquids would not be satiating to the curse. The cursed individual craves staple foods like bread, meat, and cheese along with fruits and vegetables. Given the choice between a bowl of apples and a bowl of mashed potatoes, he would choose the potatoes (more fat, more starch, more salt).

Deprived of food, the cursed individual would be driven to eat other edible substances (bark, leather, dirt), developing the condition pica. In extreme circumstances (or deprived of food while possessing a mirror), the cursed individual would begin to feast upon his own limbs to sate the hunger.

This last is Saren's personal favorite outcome. If she casts this spell on a kidnapped victim, she will allow him to gorge on rotten food, then non-food items, and finally place him in front of a mirror and watch him eat himself to death.