Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Raavnia: Themes B

Another round of words before we develop the Balkan dwarf (middle of the week).

This round, the words starting with B that caught my attention are:

baldachin, bandog, baluster, banister, barcarolle, basilica, beldam, belfry, benediction, bergamot, bezique, bishop, bloc, bogle, brigantine, bursar, butcherbird, byre

Let's start with the easy one's this time. Byre, butcherbird, and bandog; all of which relate to animals. A byre is a shed for cows, used during intense weather. This suggests that livestock is important to the way of live of villagers (who make up 90% of the population of a nation in 1000 AD). So a quality byre is a sign of wealth for a peasant; although it looks like any shed or hovel to a warrior or noble.

This is a scottish style byre; half-below ground and made of stone.
The roof is missing from this one, but you get the idea.

A more traditional byre has doors, a slanted roof, and even room to store your entire herd.

A bandog is a chained watchdog, perhaps another sign of wealth. They come in a variety of breeds, even mutts, but are costly to buy and maintain. However, having one keeps teenagers out of your yard.

And finally butcherbird (because it sounds cool) is another name for a shriek. So. The first idea that comes to mind are these dire shrieks that if they are caught at a young enough age (cf in the egg), can be trained to guard crops against magpies, etc. A final sign of wealth.

Okay. But our shrike is much bigger and cooler.

Taking on the common misinterpretation of Jehovah's law of "dominion over the animals," the people of Raavnia think themselves above the animals as well and can kill at will. Those who can maintain enough wealth to purchase, train, and feed an animal, however, do not need to butcher every stray that strolls onto their farm.

For poor peasants, eating a stray or wild animal is necessity. For a peasant who can feed his/her family, however, there is room for "pets." In fact, a brisk business could be made, traveling from village to village selling bandogs and butcherbirds to those who can afford the 3 to 8 gp price.

Next we have the words baldachin, baluster, basilica, belfry, and brigantine. The first three are related to architecture and the last is a type of ship.

A baldachin is a canopy over a throne, most often used in catholic ceremony. However, since the world appears to have a great deal of religious affiliation, even the politicos cannot escape the reach of the church. A baldachin is a must for royalty and the more ornate, the more connected to the church a noble (or his family) might be.

A baluster is a fancy word for a bannister, used to indicate roman style columns that may or may not have been used to support other structures. In most cases, they are style over substance. However, their inclusion here indicates that Raavnia owes much of its history to a previous empire that has long since left (since the events of antenicene)
Antenicene refers to an era, before the first council of Nice, held in 325 A.D. We now a third faction of orthodox catholics that believe in the old scriptures and the time before a great event. Twisting this council meeting of 325 into a gaming event, it becomes a time of great scholars, enlightening priests, bishops and the like coming together.
Three of many designs of baluster columns.

A basilica is a church owing its architecture style to rome; again a connection to the previous empire. Modern churches in Raavnia are most likely more gothic in design, but any basilica that have survived the events of 325 are revered and honored as more holy. Lots of roleplaying/story potential here. When we finally design the church this will be vital.

A simple, rural basilica.

An elaborate Hungarian basilica.

Check out http://www.theicemage.com/maps/basilica.jpg for great maps of churches and villages.

I just like the term belfry and I think all churches in Raavnia need a bell-tower; otherwise the "Pope" doesn't recognize it as a church and therefore worship cannot be done inside a building without one. The muslim arm of the church might not be so strict about this.

Note: We need a name for the religion, the god,
all three arms of the church, and the popes of each church.

Now, because the nations of Raavnia probably aren't seaworthy, a brigantine (two mast ship) is probably as big as it gets. And even these are rare. Barges, triremes, caravel, sloops, and the like are more common for river travel. A buss would also be rare, but would be employed by large fishing teams (if and where they exist).

A barcarolle is a gondalier's song, a hint that bards might not be lame in this gameworld.

A beldam is an ugly hag, a possible term used by peasants to describe any magic-user (regardless of gender).

Benediction is blessing, an important game mechanic function of the new clerics I'll be designing.

A bergamot is a strongly-flavored pear or type of orange; an indication of another detail that removes people from typical DnD games. If is the most common fruit in the land due to the soil and climate.

Bezique is a card game played with four decks and only the 7 or 8 through A. While not invented until the 19th century (and in France), it's too cool to not include in the world. In fact, we'll make it a very popular card game among the peasants and hustlers. Because even the rule version of Bezique is complicated (with six variations and rules changes as the game progresses), it's safe to say every village has its own version of the game. To eliminate confusion, however, Perform (bezique) will be added to the Skills list when we get to that chapter, but it will be based on Int, Wis, and Cha as I will indicate later.

The point of a bishop is obvious, but gives us some starting ground for the organization of the church. We can expect to see priests and cardinals as well, drawing upon the catholic influences over protestant ones.

Bloc is a coalition of nations under a unified concept. Raavnia itself will be made of small duchies, but perhaps three of the duchies are unified in a single cause - a crusade, religious ideology, war against an outside enemy, political aim, economic power, etc. We can develop this later, but we're now getting a taste of the world outside.

A bogle is another word for an ogre, poltergeist, or spectre. Now, while DnD notes these as distinct creatures, most european folklore (except Irish) is not so specific to give different functions to each. In Scottish myth, it is the predecessor to the Bogeyman, a nasty creature whose temper drove him to torment children. The Boggart, Boggard, and ballybogs are monsters of the same ilk. Not really something for adventurers to fight. So. Bogle becomes the commoner's word for monster.

"We need us a few 'venturers to come clear the f'rest of bogle, we do."

A bursar is a treasurer, an another piece of flavor to break this fantasy world from others. In Raavnia, a bursar is a church-appointed accountant who tracks the moneys of the dukes and lords, making sure that a tithe (usually 10%) goes to the church. Of course, corruption is not far behind, but all fiction is rooted in reality, right?

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