Sunday, September 21, 2014

Eye on the 5th: Rinaldo Cardano - Coastwalker of the League of Naturalists

Rinaldo Cardano
(art by Andrew Drilon, c. 2014)
My character for Echoes: Piacenza is now a 3rd Level Druid!

Of course, the setting started out magic- and god-less, so the sudden infusion of arcane and divine magic into the world made for some interesting opportunities to tweak the classes a bit.

One year ago, Rinaldo was an up-and-coming member of the Science District of Piacenza who figured prominently in the uncovering of the Conspiracy of Shadows. Unfortunately, the understanding of those who stood against the Fellowship of the Shadow was flawed, and the cataclysmic Violazione resulted in the deaths of many, and the change of many in the lands of Piacenza -- and perhaps the rest of the world.

For his part, Rinaldo has been helping contribute to the community of Science District and Farwater District citizens who've been trying to understand the changes to the natural laws, and struggling to find ways to return to a more balanced equilibrium in the natural order. The League of Naturalists (as it calls itself) is a conglomeration of smaller Fellowships, and is therefore technically even more illegal than Fellowships -- they've had to rely on some older tongues of Piacenza as the basis of their fellowspeak cant.

Many members of the League of Naturalists, like Rinaldo, wield new 'magical' abilities and are becoming increasingly skilled in wielding them. However, they note that their philosophical opposition to the Arcane Fellowships' views on the use of magic will likely spark conflict in the future.

Friday, September 5, 2014

IDIC Files: The Characters I've Been (part 01)

There is a practice of looking at the PCs of a given player -- perhaps in one RPG, perhaps across all RPGs played -- and reading into the choices of play as an insight into the player.

On one level, this is similar to watching basketball or chess players and coming to conclusions about their play style, strengths and weaknesses. On another level, it's akin to reading one's creative work and coming to conclusions about the player's conscious and subconscious issues, philosophies, and goals.

Keill Blackthorn

When my age was in the single digits, I remember rolling up a D&D character, and named it Keill Blackthorn. Funky spelling of first name? Check! Stereotypical fantasy last name? Check!

Never played him, as I didn't have a regular crew to play with.

In my teens, at a Recreational Center in the U.S. where I had to build a high-level character (several levels lower than the average in that group, of course) Keill was reborn as a half-elven fighter / thief.

My conscious goals were to keep things simple, keeping magic out of my concerns, and just focusing on doing combat stuff. Subconscious goals may have been:
  • play a character who doesn't have to lead, to be in front the whole time (as fighters were wont to do);
  • provide more skills to the group beyond fighting -- scouting, theivery, and the ever-popular backstab from the shadows;
  • emulate a more finesse- or swashbucklerish-fighter with multi-classing;
  • be mysterious and not have to talk much, because I was shy and uncertain of myself.
I eventually caught up in gaming skill, but I must admit that I lacked gaming experience as a gaming newbie, and in one spectacularly bad game -- I died three times in a 1-hour timespace, all my fault because I didn't quite understand that the magical symbols I was trying to read were actually a ward that caused instant death when looking at them. They were very generous in resurrecting me -- and one player, she took me aside and explained out of character what I was doing, and that I shouldn't do it anymore, and cited the reasons why.

The campaign was great fun, and though I eventually drifted apart from that group, Keill Blackthorn was my first real ongoing PC in a game.

It was also an eye-opener for me in terms of the separation of playing a class from playing a role, because of a trap that shifted the minds of the various players into different bodies. I learned that I could actually play a character's personality separate from the stereotype of the class (forgive me, I was slow and didn't quite understand the role-playing aspect of the game yet). It freed me to play a truer character in future games as well.




Monday, September 1, 2014

Doctor Who Series 08 Ep 01 - Spoilers and Speculation

So the new Doctor officially enters the fray with his first episode, and I watch it to see what new wrinkles (pun intended) this Doctor will add to the canon.

Also, I'm eager to see where the plotline concerning lost Gallifrey where lead -- and to watch the acting chops of Capaldi in its full glory.

He does his manic Doctor quite well, but I'm more interested in the influences of the first Three Doctors on his character, plus the occasional Fifth & Seventh Doctor, rather than any riffs on the Fourth, Sixth, or the Tenth or Eleventh.


Episode 01 - "Deep Breath"

We certainly get a good measure of the manic side of The Doctor during this regeneration and recovery episode. We also get a lot of heavy-handed discussion about the apparent age of The Doctor and the reaction of his companion.

Of greater interest to me is the emergence of the supposedly darker side of The Doctor. Was the lead android pushed, or did it jump (the latter, I believe, for reasons I'll touch on in episode 02)?

I think it's good to see Clara's usually unflappable character unbalanced quite a bit. It allows for that "perky-optimism-as-defense-mechanism" vibe that we got in her first appearance. However, it's very distressing for her character to be dismissed right out of hand, given her important role in saving The Doctor's entire timeline in a past episode of a prior series.

Thematically, I suspect that the villainous creature in this episode being a throwback to a prior episode alludes to this series (and Doctor) being a reexamination of various Doctor Who tropes and elements, and digging at the core of them -- perhaps deconstructing them and reconstructing them for the modern age.

Missy is of interest, not only because she refers to The Doctor as her boyfriend, but also because she bears the same name as a minor character in a prior episode that also involved Cybermen. Some leaked production stills show her and The Doctor appearing together in front of some walking Cybermen, so perhaps there is a connection there?

I do like the sense of there being raw intelligence and untapped physical power in this incarnation of the Doctor (he physically overpowers the lead android, after all). It really lends itself to the feeling that The Doctor is always holding himself back.

Onwards to Episode 2!

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