On Killing Book Review

On Killing

I finished Lt. Col Dave Grossman’s book On Killing recently. It’s about soldiers’ resistance to kill, how the military overcomes that instinct, and the larger reprecussions of that type of training on society. It is not a “how-to” book as I feared many people might’ve thought whenever I read it in public.

At the start I should say that Grossman presents a good case. He backs it up with hundreds of interviews with soldiers and his personal impressions from being in the service. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a lot of hard data to support his point. Why? Because for the most part there just haven’t been a lot of studies on how to get someone to kill another person. It ranges into the unethical territory of psychological studies. The data he does have is convincing. Continue reading

The Division: Game Feasibility

I posted a review of The Division earlier. The game plays quite well and if you’re looking for an FPS to play with your friends then The Division should fill that hole nicely.

The plot though!

The plot is barebones, with most of it being shown to the player in hidden conversations between NPCs throughout the game instead of directly telling you what’s going on (a good story device!).

In the game an evil scientist has altered the small pox virus to be extremely lethal and resistant to treatment. Continue reading

Petar

Petar

Petar is home to about 110,000 people and is the seat of Xorian military power. The main contingent of Xoria’s army was stationed in Petar during peace time to prevent incursions from the nearby Magical Lands. The city is walled and has a large keep at the center if the outer fortifications are breached during an attack. In the case of a siege non-perishable food is stockpiled in the basement of the keep and a large staff of clerics and mages are kept in reserve to act as an infirmary and food creating service for the army and the civilians of the city.

The economy of Petar is heavily focused on supplying the army. All blacksmiths have a quota of goods they must sell to the army every month. The mages guild has so many students of battle magic that a few renegade war mages from the war mage academy in Greshen Dale have set up an illegal teaching outpost in the city. Druids in the city are coerced into using magic to enhance crop growth to feed the troops. Everybody who does not send some of their products to the Xorian military must serve a year service in the army every five years.

Almost all of the farms of Petar grow wheat and other staple crops. The military command wants all arable land to be used as best it can. A few fruits and vegetables are cultivated to provide a balanced diet for strong troops, but the populace is always complaining that there isn’t enough. Cattle and sheep are raised on the exhausted land to get wool, dairy, leather, and meat. The manure from all the animals refertilizes the tired land and every few years the grazing land will be switched with the farm land.

Petar is strategically located atop a hill in the middle of a wide plain. It is gossiped that this is the spot where Hades’ head hit the roof of Erebus when Zeus told him the conditions of his marriage to Persephone. Four months of companionship out of every year would seem ridiculous to any man, let alone an Olympian. The hill allows the Xorian army to see any approaching army for miles and gives them a defensible position once that attacking army is within bow range.

The government of Petar is headed by Duke Delor who is subordinate to King Jevaninada. The Duke does most of the administrative work and takes his orders from Commanding General Barejando when he is present in the city. Barejando is in charge of all Xorian infantry battalions on offense and defense and Petar’s police force. He is personally responsible for the defense and safety of Petar. The general has his hands full planning invasions, rooting out Persian, Rebel, and Cimmerian spies, and maintaining order. With so much to do it’s easy to see why Barejando leaves management of the civilian population of Petar to Delor.

Duke Delor is also the Dragovinian religious leader in Petar. He manages the blood drinking ceremony every week in the city’s main cathedral. Delor personally created many of the Dragovinian beasts that watch the people of Petar for any possibly seditious activity. In his free time he enjoys spying on the citizens, and if he’s lucky, ripping a suspected Rebel’s throat out. When Delor tours the city he always seems to find suspected rebels, and suspects are always found guilty.

One of the most amazing things in Petar that has most likely led to the rumor of Hades’ head bump is the extraordinarily large gold deposit beneath the hill. The gold vein was discovered many years ago by one of the kings of Xoria himself. While surveying the digging of one of Petar’s many wells the king’s sharp eyes picked out the glint of gold at the bottom of the well. That well has since turned into a mine shaft where most of the money of Xoria is minted and then taken to the current king, Jevaninada II.

-GoCorral

Jord

Jord

Jord is a city for the common hill Dwarves of Cimmeria. It holds a community of over 36,000 Dwarves in its stone halls. The city proper lies beneath the confluence of the Cogardes River and the Delain Tribute. The city plan is dictated by the numerous grottos created by the rivers’ previous underground paths. The Dwarves expanded the original caverns to make a more livable and pleasant area for their daily activities. Conditions are ideal for the bearded folk, and a population of some 3,000 other races live above the city proper where the fertile soil is farmed and produce is sent below.

Jord is a royal city state ruled by a Dwarven king with all state powers focused in him. The king’s word is law and Dainlin, son of Doerlin, is the king. He has been for a hundred and fifty years. The main efforts of his reign have been in expanding mining operations and selling more metal to the Magical Lands and less to Xoria. He prefers to supply defenders in wars over offenders. In keeping with this policy, King Dainlin officially joined the Second Alliance against Xoria.

The city’s main exports are metals, stone, gems, and mushrooms. All types of metals are mined in the deep parts of Jord. Adamantite, zinc, iron, and copper veins all exist directly below the city. Mithral, gold, silver, and tin can be found at the Flower of the Deep mine to the northeast. The stone that is excavated is most often granite, but a large marble deposit exists close to the Flower of the Deep. Dainlin developed an expansion there a few years ago after eradicating the indigenous Drow population.

The mushrooms of Jord are grown with the advice and help of a large tribe of Myconid that live in the unworked caverns of the city. The small amount of Dwarven druids who live in the city assist the Myconid with magic and alter the fungus slightly to get all sorts of shapes, colors, and flavors. These odd delicacies are savored by the upper class in the Magical Lands. The Myconid circle leaders also make plenty of potions that are sold to the neighboring city states.

Jord’s alcohol supply is prodigious and almost matches that of Satronwook. Most of the grain alcohol is made on the farms above the caverns, but wine has to be imported. Luckily Dwarves aren’t fans of sissy wine, so not much is needed. They do need to import honey for mead though. Acquiring a colony of giant bees is one of Dainlin’s unexplored projects.

Jord’s military power was and is strong because almost every citizen is ready to arm themselves at the drop of a hat. Every person has a suit of armor and a weapon and most have magical, masterwork, or special material arms and armor. The police force of the city reports to Dainlin directly. The militia is well-equipped and well prepared with potions of cure and other things for every conceivable domestic disaster. 2,000 Dwarves participated in the defense of Phoenix and were captured when the Alliance abandoned the city. Rather than suffer a second defeat by bankrupting themselves to ransom the soldiers, the Alliance let the Xorians keep them. The Dwarves have been put to work as slaves, rebuilding the shattered defenses of Phoenix.

Jord is home to the third largest museum in the world, with only those of Troy and Damascus being bigger. It’s most famous exhibit is the mausoleum of dwarves, where all the renowned bearded folk hope to be laid to rest. Jovy, the human pirate and founder of Lordodo, is present at the mausoleum. He was given an honorary place there as “his beard rivaled that of any dwarf.” The museum holds many fine pieces of art, a gem collection, and a few minor artifacts.

Many changes have come to Jord since the city joined the Alliance. The city has focused on the exportation of weapons and armor to the other Alliance cities to the exclusion of Dainlin’s other pet projects. The capture of the Dwarven army has put an additional emotional strain on the citizens of Jord. They have pleaded with the King to defy the Alliance’s decree to not ransom prisoners. While Dainlin wishes to do just that, he will not as long as the Alliance forbids it.

In addition to the capture of the Dwarven army, the Battle of Phoenix also allowed for the recovery of the Fierce Axe of Dwarvish Lords. This Axe symbolizes the unity of all four Dwarf races, Hill, Mountain, Deep, and Duergar. The Axe instigated a Kingsmoot where all four Dwarven Kings gathered at Highhold in the Terror Mountains. The four kings agreed that King Torngar of the Mountain Dwarves would rule as High King as long as the entire Dwarven race joined in the war against Xoria. The Dwarven war machine has now begun to turn in earnest and will soon strike back at the Xorians.

-GoCorral

Tectoctar

Jevanicia

Tectoctar was a small city of 6,000 people who the rest of the world described as degenerates. Tectoctar was one of the most awful places one could imagine to live in. It had food and shelter, but not of a particularly good kind. The place had its share of problems with all the bugs, the seasonal flooding, and the continual sinking of any building into Danar’s Swamp. It’s rumored that some of the oldest buildings have basements so far done that they go into the Underdark.

Tectoctar was built on Danar’s Swamp, not next to it, under it, or over it, but on it. The town was built by Tectoctar, a Xorian general turned renegade, who led his army to the north and settled in the swamp when he received a sign from Zeus. Zeus had intended the usurper to die in the swamp, but Tectoctar was an excellent commander and managed to force his troops to stay and work through the absolute discipline he had instilled in them prior to their expedition. Additionally he had his lieutenant general cast a spell that let him read people’s thoughts allowing him to punish traitors before they committed their first act of sedition. Unfortunately for Tectoctar the side effect of knowing every man’s thoughts within a two mile radius is rather destructive. The tyrant general went insane and disappeared into the western reaches of the bog. The citizens of the city had already settled down and knowing they would not be welcomed back in Xoria decided to stay.

Tectoctar had no city plan of any kind. Occasionally an architectural accident would make a front door unreachable and required a new one to be cut in the walls. The principal building material was wood sent upriver from Bigby’s forest. The wood was used to create a frame for the house and then covered with hides, leaves, or hay to keep the rain and bugs out. Any building made with a heavier structure sank into the ground within a few months and even the wooden structures were constantly sinking, creating basements of ever increasing size beneath the city.

The extremely moist soil of Tectoctar was quite good for growing rice, but excruciatingly bad for anything else most people consider edible. A type of flower grows in the swamp that can be eaten called Shorehorn. The animal life that served as the protein for most Tectoctarian dishes is revolting. Snails, slugs, leeches, unclean fish, snakes, and other reptiles. The lucky outsider was served Tojanida. These monsters dwell in the swamp and when a dead one is found it was often sold to the wealthy of the town.

As Tectoctar grew older more people immigrated who were rejected by other cities and countries and were told of a paradise where everyone is welcome. Many of them were not impressed by the “paradise.” Some vagabonds left if they could, but most had run out of money getting to the city and were forced to stay. The rare few actually liked Tectoctar better because at least they are the same as everyone else here. The descendants of these immigrants composed the majority of the city’s population.

Tectoctar neither exported nor imported anything because it is nothing more than a large poor town in the middle of a swamp. The one attraction to the town was their local artifact of chewing gum, a type of food that oozes from trees that you cannot actually stop getting sustenance from. You could chew gum forever and never have to worry about eating, drinking, or going to the bathroom again. Unfortunately this miraculous item does not keep for more than a day, so it was only traded in mass quantities to the most foolish of tourists.

The city was ruled by the Race Council. An influential member of each race that lived in Tectoctar was appointed by their brethren to the council. The council had representatives from many different species including, Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Halflings, Dragons, Ogres, Giants, Goblins, Orcs, Lizardfolk, Gnolls, Trolls, Kobolds, and Troglodytes. Each off shoot of one race was still considered the same. A rather extreme example of the inequity of this policy was present in the representation of Drow by a High Elf councilor. The Race council met once every three months to decide on issues that affected the entire city.

The Xorian government long resented the existence of Tectoctar as it was technically a rebel city. During the regency of Queen Anajakaze, the Xorian army attacked and defeated Tectoctar. It’s people were executed, enslaved, or driven out of the city. With no one else to inhabit the buildings, the city slowly sank into the swamp. The structures still exist beneath the muck, slowly rotting away, but also perhaps holding magic treasures for explorers brave and clever enough to find them.

After the destruction of Tectoctar, Queen Anajakaze created a new colony on the edge of Danar’s Swamp named Jevanicia.

-GoCorral

Jipangu

Jipangu

Jipangu is a large city of 110,000 people in the middle of Zeus’s Canvas. Most of the people in the city have some relation to one noble family or another even if they are several hundred steps away from being leader of their family. All this nobility confuses outsiders, but for those who grow up with it, the whole hierarchy makes perfect sense. In fact, the natives find societies without this level of nobility difficult to understand.

Jipangu is built on Zeus’s Canvas, a place in which great storms rage year round. The city is atop a large, dirt-covered, rock plateau. The constant deluges do not have disastrous effects for the citizens when they are inside the city. Irrigation canals reroute the large amount of rain from the plateau into the rice patty fields that feed the large population of Jipangu. An ancient orchard also exists close to the city. It has many different types of fruit that are eaten by the Jipanguese and the birds that flock around it. Sounders of pigs are kept around the city for the disposal of waste and to provide fresh meat for the citizens.

Honor is very important to the Jipanguese. The slightest offense or indignity is settled with a duel or immediate compensation; thus, there are many duel shrines in every section of the city. These places look like large square gazebos with benches on the outside for spectators to watch the duels if they wish. Within the shrine a weapons bracket holds a variety of wooden weapons. Most duels are decided by the first hit landed with a wooden weapon. Serious offenses will proceed until one combatant is rendered unconscious. Only in extremely dire circumstances are duels to the death. Duels to the death are scheduled in advance to allow both sides to make arrangements should they die. Such duels attract large crowds.

Because of all these duels the average citizen in Jipangu can act to carry out his own justice. The high sense of honor prevents most of the citizenry from abusing their skills. Jipangu has neither police force nor the need for it because of all the trained swordsmen. Secret crimes, like burglary, are still committed in Jipangu. Such crimes are investigated by the government detective agency, Tarot De’Longshare. The army handles riots and revolts when they do occur. The system works well and crime in the city is swiftly punished.

Jipangu has a militaristic culture. A strong man is respected and gains honor with every fight he wins. Weak men lose their political power without repeated reinforcement from their other traits. The high value on physical strength makes surrender an unacceptable and cowardly option. The Jipanguese army does not retreat from battle. Politicians do not change their positions when the situation changes. This adamancy in one’s decisions once they are made means very few things are said with uncertainty in Jipangu. An unofficial law has sprung up that if one breaks their word, they will be exiled.

Jipangu has a traditional style of clothes that is worn at all times by people in the city-state. Anyone not doing so is socially ridiculed and outcast. The traditional garb is a long, colored vest worn over a white shirt. The color of the vest indicates the wearer’s honor and position in the hierarchy of Jipangu. A headband is also worn that signifies special achievements by the symbols upon it. The pants of the outfit are extremely baggy below the knee, but no other special significance is applied to them. Silk is of course better than cotton or wool. Pants are worn by both sexes except at special ceremonies. There are no special shoes worn with the outfit. Armor is not worn within the city except by soldiers.

The official Jipanguese army of 7,000 is one of the best equipped and trained in Cimmeria, but it lacks unity. The soldiers fight for themselves and their own honor. Tactics are often simply choosing where the troops will charge from. The army does contain infantry, cavalry, archery, clerical, and magical units. Each unit has its general and each general has his centurions. They meet before each battle to discuss where they will fight, but since honor is obtained through killing with your own sword, instead of the overall victory, they will work on their on.

Jipangu has a First Family that rules over the whole city and decides disputes between the other families. The most honorable family holds this position and only loses it in a challenge by another family or through a major dishonorable event for the First Family. In the case of a dishonored First Family a council of all the families is called to decide which of them will take the place of the First Family in the new order.

The art of the city is some of the best in the world and it is present throughout the whole city. Almost every object, piece of furniture, and wall is decorated in some way. Vines, flowers, and all things natural and beautiful are usually the subject of art. If Jipanguese art was a representation of the real world then there would be no people, actions, or conflict in it. These things are always absent from the walls, paintings, and sculptures of Jipangu. Their focus is on still-life pictures.

Jipangu joined the Second Alliance against Xoria. Arendil, the current head of the First Family, leads the Alliance as well. Jipangu is currently hosting thousands of refugees that escaped from Phoenix when the city was conquered by the Xorians. The influx of people puts a strain on Jipangu’s resources, but imports from the rest of the Alliance have alleviated some of that burden.

The refugees of Phoenix along with many people from Dalleer, Dorrowsan, and Shalerton have all gathered outside of Jipangu for military training. Gradorian and Junai, the previous leaders of the Mercenaries Guild of Phoenix, are in charge of this vast training program. Kig Yupington assists the two generals as he can with the Dorrowsan Scepter. The training is further accelerated by rituals read from the Tome of Agamemnon. These rituals purify water teleported to the city from the Geyser of Talos. Any who drink this water are transformed into a terrifying warrior for a day. This transformation allows the trainees at Jipangu to learn techniques and strategies that would normally be beyond their abilities.

Geyser of Talos
Where ye Geyser of Talos is for reference

-GoCorral

Gurutama Timeline Revising Part 16

Gurutama Timeline Revising Part 15

The wars between the Dwarves and Humans experience a lull in this update. The split between the Empire and Metal Dwarves is solidified when the Metal Dwarves disown their Empire Dwarf relatives in treaties with Humans and Merfolk.

This post serves as a transition period from the second age of our Dawn of Worlds game to the third age. We’re not quite there yet, but its coming. The events in the Upper Maw set the tone for things to come. The Dwarves and Najarns fight with each other and occasionally a great figure emerges to tip the scale in one direction, but that figure’s lifespan is not infinite. The status quo takes over once more.

The slow expansion of the Grez continues and people start to get worried, but who has the resources to do anything about it? You can fight the Grez or engage in the wars of dominance for the Upper Maw. Fighting the Grez is optional, but it weakens you city for the conflicts among mortals that happen anyways, so you might as well not fight the Grez. What does it get you now?

There will be new events coming in the other parts of the world. This post is in many ways the calm before the storm.

479 NA: The Metal Dwarves only heard of the later events on the Maw through rumors told by traders and merchants. The crusade failed. The Books made it clear. The Dwarves must excise the Black Prince from this world, but they were not strong enough to overcome the Beast from outside the cycle. The cycle of worlds could forever be altered, but what could they do? The Metal Dwarves sued for peace with the Najar and the Merfolk. The terms were accepted.

494 NA: After nearly two centuries of occupation the Humans in Syluk and Farpoint began to accept their new masters. The only real rebels were religious fanatics or those who snuck into the cities from the outside. The commoners, most of whom did not follow Navillus, built a new society within the Dwarven-Human cities.

512 NA:The Grez expanded their army’s size even further. The rest of the world noticed and ominous feelings were felt in the hearts of every mortal during the winter’s storms.

523 NA: An uneasy peace fell over the Maw. The Merfolk commemorated their victories on the Northern Continent and the Metal Dwarves returned to their Tiers. Small conflicts still plagued the competitive Najaran cities and Syluk still sent token attacks against Najar itself, but nothing on the scale of the rebellions or the original conquest of the Dwarves. The Bwarlor set out to know the world in an age of great exploration. Soon, the first complete world maps were published by Bwarloran captains, with patronage for these explorative voyages provided by Merfolk aristocrats.

525 NA:The Hobgoblins descended into reckless barbarism. A few escaped from their horrid Dwarven fathers and reproduced amongst themselves in the Halusho Forest. They soon learned to stay away from the woods surrounding Crodolan due to the traps and Elven arrows that seemed to shoot from the trees themselves.

-Mister Ed

Gurutama Timeline Revising Part 17