Saturday, April 08, 2006

Raavnia: Themes C, Plus Credo

artwork by malcolm mcclinton; copyright hangedman studios; used with permission;
see for more

[That picture has nothing to do with this article, but I wanted to open with something.]


The good news is I have a primer almost done for the world of Raavnia.

The bad news is that you have to read another page of themes from the dictionary (letter C), plus the Credo of Styrga (god of Raavnia).

A long list today: cacao, cadge, caesura, caliph, calumny, Candlemas, canto, captious, carcanet, cardinal, cassock, castigate, castration, catafalque, catalepsy, catechism, cathedral, cavil, cenotaph, centurion, chameleon, chaste, cholera, circumcision, citadel, clan, cleric, cogent, cognac (also Armagnac), cohort, confiscation, contact, confraternity, consecrate, conscription, conversazione, corvette, coup, covenant, covey, cowrie, cremation, culvert, and Czar

Cadge means to beg or hawk. I think there’s an interesting direction to take begging in a society like Raavnia. Not being willing to work for a living has got to be a great sin to the people of Raavnia. Those to infirm to work should be cared for by their family. Otherwise, if you have to beg,

Calumny, captious, castigate, cavil, and cogent are great words that deal with human interaction, manners, argument, and “high society.” They also indicate to me an interesting system of law, where people can accuse one other of just about anything, and it’s the manner in which you present your case that matters most. Among commoners, this practice would be ridiculous. No farmer would ever call his neighbor a horse thief when no one in the area owned horses, especially if they had to deal with each other daily. But among nobility, the art of seeking fault in others and being “slanderous” would certain create a unique dynamic of interchange.

I’m up for ideas from others on this one, but I think it has potential.

The words caesura, Candlemas, cassock, cardinal, castigate, catechism, cathedral, cleric, chaste, and consecrate draw us once more to religious themes. I’m going to add confiscation, not because it’s an interesting word, but because it ties in with the previous themes of “law.” I’m sure the church doesn’t really care what nobles say about one another, so long as their courts do not interfere with the church’s courts. But confiscation of goods might make for an interesting punishment (in modern times) for those who sin.

Caesura is a natural pause in a verse. Add the words canto and alexandrine and you have a very powerful motif for church hymns. For those following previous posts, I addressed this a little in Raavnia: Themes A.

Candlemas is February 2, the day for blessing candles. I really, really like this idea. Perhaps only an archbishop can do this and it’s very important that the candles be brought to a certain place to be blessed. The entire first week of February can be devoted to blessing items of import. Feb 1 is for blessing bells. Feb 3 is for blessing paper (clerical text must be written on blessed paper). Rings are blessed on Feb 4 (remember the holy symbol of the church is a ring). Since Feb 4 is the middle of the week, this would be a high-holy day of Candlemas. Feb 5 is the day that livestock is blessed. Feb 6 is reserved for the blessing of virgins. Feb 7 is for blessing water (although the church can bless water for personal use all year long). If someone has better ideas, send them in.

It just occurred to me we don’t have baptisms on Themes B. We need to fix that.

A cardinal has an obvious place on the list and joins the archbishop and bishop as titles of the clergy. We still don’t have a title for pope, however.

A cassock is a vestment worn by clergy. Each rank has its own color and crest, most likely, making it obvious (on sight) what rank a cleric might be.

I think this one is pretty cool-looking.

Castigate appears twice because the church would use it as a means of marking someone. Although not as powerful a spell as mark of justice, it would be used like arcane mark to show that someone has sinned and should be castigated for 1 week (duration of spell). During this time they would suffer the effects of doom AND suffer a Charisma or reaction penalty.

Catechism literally means a series of questions. It is likely that any time someone is brought forth before the church, they are asked the same 16 questions (keeping the alexandrine theme alive). Based on their answers, the priest or bishop determines his sin. A catechism must be performed by someone of a higher rank than the person being accused. This applies outside of the church to nobility. A bishop questions a baron or count; an archbishop a duke; a cardinal an archduke; and only the pope or ayatollah can question the Emperor.

We don’t have cathedrals, we have basilica. I put cathedral on here to remind everyone of that.

Consecration will get dealt with when we do cleric spells. Like benediction it will become a power of clerics. You’ll see.

Lastly, we have chaste, which could be a vow that someone takes. I assume most priests of the catholic arm would have to. But priests of the muslim arm, would not.

I’d like tie conversazione to the church as well. A conversazione is a meeting or gathering to talk and learn. I think the church would have an annual convocation where everyone shares the issues of their respective dioceses. It is perhaps one of the only times the two major arms of the church convene.

A caliph is not only a muslim ruler, but a successor of Mohammad. In order for a ruler to take a seat as a caliph, he must be blessed and approved by the ayatollah. Yes?

A carcanet is a jeweled collar or crown and obviously a symbol of important station.

Catafalque, cenotaph, and cremation all deal with issues of burial. A catafalque is a raised structure that holds the body for the few days before the burial. It is placed in a town square, church, or place of viewing. In Raavnia, it is only used for saints, those who can afford it, and heroes of the realm. The church has the final say, of course, whether someone be allowed to use it. Cremation is the commoner’s method of disposing of the dead, however. And a cenotaph is a monument or shrine to someone who is buried elsewhere. The church would determine when and why a cenotaph would be built. In the case of heretics where the body is pulled apart and burned, a cenotaph would be a temporary structure designed to remind those of the price of sin.



Catalepsy is a state of trance. I’d like to use it for hermetic mages and the like. It will be used for divination. It will take longer, but will result in better results from divining.

I’m going to use covenant and coup together because we’ve already agreed that there’s a BLOC of dukes and noble-types that work together. A secret covenant that plans a coup against the sick emperor is great “DM-only” information.

Chameleon will be a new bard or rogue ability (along with mimic). More later.

Cholera is a nasty disease. More importantly it’s a hint to me as a designer that the church probably does not cure everything. In fact, they may not cure much at all. I like the idea that church is about righteousness and strength, not willfully curing every ailment that is brought to them. Anyone that has ever read any tales from Kiev or Novgorod (Southwestern Russian) knows that people from these regions are expected to be hardy. So today’s post of cholera is more about the strength of the people to take care of themselves and less about the disease itself.

Clan and confraternity mean the same thing. In typical DnD fashion, dwarves belong to mammoth families called clans. More next week.

Cognac and Armagnac are the only liquors that the church will bless. They are refined well and cannot be abused because they are so expensive. At mass, people take a sip of cognac to honor Styrga. And yes, I’m aware that these words are French, named for the regions they are made from.

I love the idea of hag coveys. So much so, I’m going to make them numerous and a bother to the church. While not all are evil, they are a source of power that is not divine. As such, people can go to them for aid when the church is unwilling to help.

A cowrie is a shell from the south pacific that is used as currency. This leads me to believe that elves are on the barter system. Hoepfully, you’ll agree when I post more information on the elves.

How do people feel about the Emperor being a Czar?

A recent conscription during the invasion of the Magyars (in a later post) has led to a great deal of men from the age of 15 to 30 either dead or wounded. While it’s been a few years since the war, men of marrying age and those who would work the land are few and far between.

A corvette is a low sleek ship. Perhaps the empire has ONE and it’s the flagship of the fleet.

According to my $1 dictionary, a centurion is a leader of 100 men and a cohort is 1/10 of a legion. Interesting. Sadly, legion isn't well-defined in my dictionary so that dead-ended quickly. Since both a centurion and a legion are drawn from roman era armies and the entire Balkan penninsula was once the Illyric state of rome, there's something there with costumes and tactics, but I can't quite get my finger on it yet. I like the idea that not everyone can serve in the military. You have to really prove yourself to be a soldier.

Did anyone read the Legionnaire class from Mercenaries?

In DnD a cohort is the best follower under leadership. Cohorts, contacts, and leadership will all get overhauls when I get to that chapter.

Castration and circumcision. Okay. I’m not sure these belong in a roleplaying game. I have my reservations about even mentioning them on here. BUT. There’s some interesting themes that could apply in the right campaign. Obviously one arm of the church believes in circumcision and the other doesn’t. That’s all we need to say about that. The topic of castration is the responsibility of individual DMs. That’s it.

Cacao is the real spelling of cocoa and I just thought you should know that. Culvert is a great word that all gamers should know. Citadel is probably one of my favorite words and I just wanted it on the list. [Emperor lives in one, perhaps?]

[Borrowed from the Nicene Convocation of 315 and butchered by jim pinto]

We believe in Styrga, the All-Father, Maker of all things, living and unliving, temporal and forever, visible and invisible. We believe in the Spirit of Styrga, the Giver of Life. And we believe in one holy order and divine church.

We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins. We honor one time each day for pray. We forgive those who do not believe and accept those who accept Styrga. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.

The gates of heaven or open to those who believe and heretics are the enemies of god.
Let Styrga grant his faithful the power to do right and wisdom to know right.



Dave said...

I want to comment and focus in on something you said in this post that jibes with something I have been thinking about recently: clerical healing (see cholera).

Basically everything short of a complete party wipe becomes insignificant at about level 10 in 3.5. Diseases, poisons, health damage, death, severed limbs. As long as the party holds the field in a fight or at least retreats in an orderly fashion, all harm can be undone in a matter of days (assuming they have at least *some* money).

Note I dont want these things to be permanently crippling to a favorite character, but I think there should be a cost other than gold to healing repeated grievous wounds and ailments.

The old "lose a point of Con when raised from the dead" is a good start. Applying this or something similar (slightly less severe) to other spells that repair permanent damage could work.

Clerics just need to be hit with the nerf bat.

The rest of it I really like. You are mixing more standard european themes in with the eastern european stuff and that I think is a good thing. The game world needs both diversity and consistency to seem believable.

I wish it had one more culture that meshed with the world but expanded it in another cultural direction.

One more comment. The civilized areas for some reason, seem to "feel" like they are all fairly similar in climate. This leads me to believe that the direction to travel to find adventure would be either north or south. I like this. Perhaps this could even somehow be represented in the geography. If you spread the civilized countries in a relatively tight latitude line with only a few of them stacked longitudinally it wouldnt take much travel (though it would be dangerous) to arrive at the place of adventure.

jim pinto said...

We are adding Turkish flavor, actually. Wait until I post some stuff on that. And the religious cults should add the personal freedom of DMs to accessorize what they like.

I landed a new job for thursday and I'm busy through the weekend. But I should have something to show off soon in terms of world design. I could at least post the overview, I guess.

Thanks for the words of encouragement dave. It makes typing all this for free that much easier to know SOMEONE is going to use it.