Harbinston

Harbinston isn’t nearly as politically important to Cimmeria as the other cities I’ve detailed. It is a small village on the border of the territories influenced by Bradel Fields and Dalleer. I wrote a description of the out of the way town because a series of adventures I ran for my players was based in the village. Maybe the village will be important in my current campaign and maybe it won’t. Time will tell!

Harbinston

Harbinston is a small town of little more than four hundred people. The town sprung up as a trading stop between Dalleer and Bradel Fields. Merchants and traders traveling on the Black River would stop at the easy banking spot close to Robber’s Canyon. As trade increased along the river it also increased the number of robbers from which Robber’s Canyon gets its name. Many of the townsfolks had two lives, one of theft, and another of reprovisioning their victims. No concrete evidence of the duplicity was ever discovered, but the traveling merchants eventually grew suspicious and switched their method of travel to caravans along the eastern shore, safe from the robbers’ ambush tactic.

Harbinston’s large bandit population was a result of no administrative control in the town. No system of government controlled the town and for a long time both Dalleer and Bradel Fields claimed the small town as their own. The dual claim caused a standoff where neither city sent representatives to the town as doing so might spark a war between the two larger city-states.

About sixty years ago a group of adventurers did take an interest in cleaning up the town and cleaning out the nearby dungeons. The adventurers provided a steady flow of income to the villagers from the dungeons they raided. Highwaymen moved back to town and reopened their old shops to draw the heroes’ attention, greatly reducing bandit activity. The peace did not last forever. Eventually the adventurers retired to various mansions they had built close to the town and the highwaymen came back to prey on what little river traffic remained. One of the adventurers, Burne, even led the bandits for a time.

When the adventurers retired Harbinston lost its temporary protection against the many different monsters and creatures that have chosen to live around it. The town had no real guardians to act as predators for the monsters of the world, so every beast imaginable invaded the area surrounding the little village. Constructs, undead, plant monsters, mutated beasts, trolls, minotaurs, and even a dragon with its kobold servants moved to the fertile and previously unsettled fields around Harbinston. The dragon, called Joker, took a maiden from the town every decade.

To make matters worse two decades ago Harbinston had an outbreak of the plague. Without an experienced enough cleric to cast remove disease, the town sought help from Dalleer. Surprisingly, Dalleer agreed to send some strong clerics and medical supplies downriver and for once it looked like the town would have a lord to protect it. Unfortunately, due to a misunderstanding, the town’s bandits attacked the medical barges. The medicine was not lost because of the strong guards Dalleer had hired, so the sick people in Harbinston were saved. The same could not be said for the dozens of young men who lost their lives in the foolish battle. Diplomacy with Dalleer was broken off after the incident.

The same guards who killed so many of Harbinston’s men to defend the medicine took it upon themselves to remove the other afflictions that plagued the town. They slew Joker and freed the maidens he had taken as his captive wives. The guards cut a bloody swath around the town, removing every monstrous threat for miles, save the kobold servants of Joker who were left to their own devices.

The town began to thrive again after the monsters were slain. With the bandits gone as well, trade resumed. Only the occasional kobold attack interrupted the town’s resurgence. During the recent negotiations between Bradel Fields and Dalleer, Bradel Fields agreed to cede all claims to Harbinston in exchange for Dalleer’s entrance into the Second Alliance War against Xoria. Harbinston now has official protection from a large city-state as well and it seems could never be brighter for this small settlement in the wilderness.

Most of the original band of heroes that protected the town are now long dead. The remaining hero, Sherlock the Warlock, built a tall tower for himself a day’s journey outside of town. He hasn’t left the tower in decades. Adventurers visit him occasionally and tell tales of all manner of strange things in the tower. Sherlock appears very knowledgeable if knowledge is what you seek. The adventurers who have gone to the tower also say that the old wizard has lost his mind.

-GoCorral

Condensed Gurutama Timeline

The Revised Gurutama Timeline is done! But the problem is that it weighs in at around 35 pages when you load it up in Microsoft Word.

If you’ve ever glanced at the timeline section of a campaign setting, it’s usually contained on just two facing pages.

The full version is still useful for the creators of the setting (myself and a few other members of my gaming group). The full version is still fun for those who are already interested in the setting and want to learn more about Gurutama’s history. But for the casual reader who is just strolling by on the internet? TOO MUCH INFORMATION!

So I’ve whittled it down to contain just the essentials.

The new Condensed Gurutama Timeline is up and running.

My gaming group has also started a Wikia for Gurutama. There isn’t much there yet, but we’re working on filling it up!

First step is, of course, moving the timeline over. The revised version in case you were wondering.

As I move over the revised timeline I’m also inserting links to various pages that don’t exist yet. Once those pages are created and filled it, I won’t need to go back to create links everywhere.

Plus, the Wikia has a cool feature where it tells me what dead links I still have floating around.

If I forget one link in all the pages I’m creating, I don’t need to go back through all the pages and check the links. I can just go to the “Wanted Pages” section of the Wikia and see what I haven’t created a page for yet! Greatest thing ever!

But why switch from working on Gurutama on my blog to using a Wikia in the first place?

Pretty easy answer actually, Gurutama is a community project that my gaming group and I have been working on. If everything is posted on my blog where they don’t have access to edit the work, it can hardly be considered a community project.

With the Wikia, anything they want to create and share they can do so without the need of emailing me a Word doc to upload onto the blog or for everyone to throw into a folder and forget about.

And the Wikia system makes everything much more organized. See a word or phrase that you don’t remember the significance of? Just click on the link and you can learn more about that thing!

I'm even learning how to code using Wikia's source language!
I’m even learning how to code using Wikia’s source language!

In the future I’ll probably be working on Gurutama through the Wikia first. Once a significant Wikia page/group of pages is done, I’ll post something about it on my blog here and add another page to the Gurutama section at the top.

That’s all for now on Gurutama!

-GoCorral

Balin’s Holt

It's hard being an anti-magic city in a high magic setting.
It’s hard being an anti-magic city in a high magic setting.

The little town of Balin’s Holt was originally a large city called Fangaroot. Fangaroot had high crop yields and was very prosperous due to the healthy silt of the Black Lake the city. A Green Dragon, Kenderax, desired all the wealth the people of Fangaroot had acquired. This Dragon organized all the Kobolds in the Kobold Lands to the north of Fangaroot. They attacked and in the process Fangaroot’s physical shell was destroyed. Kenderax was slain by the Dwarven paladin, Shalein, before the citizens of Fangaroot abandoned the city to the Kobolds and fled south to found Dalleer.

In 616 BC, 430 years after Fangaroot fell, a descendant of Shalein, named Balin, decided to reclaim the city for his family’s honor. He led a band of like minded people against the Kobolds and managed to defeat them with Balin’s magical abilities and a Halfling scouting brigade led by Terry, the accomplished rogue, who disarmed the Kobolds’ strategically placed traps.

Balin headed the council of the new city and named it after himself when the councilors rejected using Fangaroot as the name again. Balin ruled fairly for many years and he never had a serious opponent in the annual elections for head councilor. Balin developed a strong friendship with Terry; but, with Terry’s unfortunate death, Balin became a recluse. He no longer attends the council meetings and is the leader only in title. He is only seen for the hour of midnight in the Dragon’s Den pub on the south of town looking out over the lake. The pub is named Shaelin’s Glen after Balin’s ancestor. When he goes there many people ask him sage questions that only he knows the answer to. Balin is also he only person licensed to sell or buy magic items in the city, making midnight hour at the Dragon’s Den very popular for the right kind of person.

With Balin gone the council has begun to increase taxes for scientific pursuits. Arcane magic is not very well thought of in Balin’s Holt. The people there see it as only destructive. They instead hope to use nature’s normal laws instead of manipulating them to create fire or lightning. Magic is not outlawed in the city, but it is pretty close to it. Magicians are constantly watched by the Forsakers, a group of secret police who forsake magic of all kinds and in doing so gain some immunity to it. Detection spell are punished as trespassing in people’s minds. Any crime committed with magic is punished doubly than if done without magic.

In contrast, divine magic is generally accepted by the people in Balin’s Holt. It saved their ancestors from the dragon, Kenderax, and they have continued to trust completely in it. Detect spells are still not allowed by divine casters. It is believed that if evil is to be punished it must reveal itself in an obvious manner first. The temple in Balin’s Holt is large enough for two times the 6,000 people who live there and services are attended by almost everybody in the city on every holiday and full moon.

Balin’s Holt has a port on the Black Lake where trade is done with the other small towns to the north and with the large cities to the south. The lake is black because of the charcoal deposits created during the Titanomachy just upriver. This doesn’t taint the water, but instead acts as a filter for the water making it very clean. The people of Balin’s Holt are offended at the smell of most people in the rest of the world because they bath at least every three days. The charcoal also fertilizes the ground near the lake making Balin’s Holt’s crops larger and juicier than any other city’s. The specialties of the town are root vegetables and squash.

A thieves guild was formed in Balin’s Holt by Terry. It was sanctioned by the town as long as they did not steal from anybody poor, were seen while stealing, or if any tax money was taken. Since Terry’s death and Balin’s eventual departure from the council the thieves guild has become more of a scientists guild. They are no longer allowed to steal things in any way at all. The thieves now research new technologies that will benefit the public.

Many works of art are produced in Balin’s Holt. The city’s most famous piece is in the center plaza. It is a large painted marble miniature of the battle in which Kenderax was slain. The whole thing is fifty feet in diameter with each man in it being about a foot tall. Other masterpieces can be seen throughout the city and many people who wish to be artists for their trade come here to be indentured.

Posting on Cimmeria

Map of Cimmeria

For a while now I’ve been rolling the idea around in my head of posting stuff about Cimmeria, my current D&D campaign setting.

I’ve avoided it previously because I want to post stuff about Gurutama and I didn’t want it to get too confusing with two D&D campaign settings in the same place.

I’ve decided I don’t care so much anymore. I’d like to start posting stuff about my Cimmeria campaign.

I’ve been posting campaign log entries on a thread of the Order of the Stick forums for a few years now.

But there’s just this immense pile of background info that I’ve created over the years of playing in this setting. I’d like to make that available, but how do I do it?

Through posts seems the most obvious way. I think I’ll start trying to post one thing a week about Cimmeria.

I’ll mirror the blog posts with pages setup through the top bar on the webpage so the content will be easily accessible in the future.

This serves another purpose as well. While all this information has been available for my players in the past, its been a little outdated.

About 45 years have passed in my campaign setting since I originally created it, so many of the things I originally wrote are no longer accurate. This king is dead, that building burned down, that city got founded, etc.

If I update that info it will give my players access to better information. Making it available through a website instead of a single word document might also be helpful.

So… I think I’ll start this week off by going through the cities of Cimmeria in alphabetical order. First up, Balin’s Holt!

-GoCorral

Editing for Youtube

Making a new video called Blood Knight Adventures.
Making a new video called Blood Knight Adventures.

I started up my own Youtube channel to have another place for my Twitch videos to be watched.

I’ve uploaded my highlights from Twitch to Youtube and I’ve been posting some edited highlights as well.

Twitch is rather limited in how you can edit a highlight. The highlighted video has to be a specific section of the video and that’s it. No other modifications allowed.

So if you wanted to create a highlight that combined a section from the first minute and the last minute of your broadcast, but nothing in between… Twitch’s in browser editing application doesn’t let you do that.

Fortunately, as I’m streaming I also set my streaming software to store the broadcasts to my hard drive. From there I can edit the videos and produce a better finished product.

The two videos I’ve made so far are called “Holy Alchemy” and “Why Mind Control is Amazing in Arena too.”

They’re pretty basic. I highlighted a specific card in each video from my early Arena runs on my Twitch stream. I edited all the shots of those cards together and slapped some music on it.

Playing with my new editing software was fun. I started using Movie Maker which is a freeware editing program put out by Microsoft.

I took a video production course in high school that helped me learn the basics of video editing. The program I learned on was called Final Cut Pro.

I’d like to use Final Cut again. It has a lot of things that Movie Maker doesn’t. But it also costs $300. 😦

The first hurdle I had to jump over with Movie Maker was the file type for the recorded videos from my stream.

Almost every internet video site, Twitch included, broadcasts their videos using the Flash file type (.flv). My broadcasting software saves the recorded videos to my hard drive as Flash videos as well.

Movie Maker can’t understand Flash videos. Kind of dumb considering that Flash is the most popular video type now, but whatever.

I had to download a converter to change the recordings into something that Movie Maker could understand.

After that it was simple enough, throw the video in, pick which sections I want, delete the other sections, etc.

I remember Final Cut being easier to work with and having more options than Movie Maker.

Movie Maker hides transitions under the Animations tab. Adding titles is also hidden under the home tab.

I’m still unsure if Movie Maker allows custom title movements, cropping a frame, moving a frame, or even multiple audio tracks.

It might that I just can’t find these things yet within Movie Maker’s interface or maybe there’s nothing there for me to find.

I’ll stick with Movie Maker f it does have those options and I find them. Final Cut’s software is better because I know how to use it. Once I’ve mastered Movie Maker there won’t be any reason to switch.

Go check out the videos if you like Hearthstone! I added in some public domain music from Youtube’s audio library. Enjoy!

-Mister Ed

Online Videos and Copyright

Public domain music is a mystery to me.
Public domain music is a mystery to me.

I’ve been thinking about including music on my streams and Youtube channel.

There’s just this problem of what music I’m able to include.

I want to play my typical playlists that I listen to on my own.

But all that stuff is copyrighted!

I can’t play The Beatles, Elvis, or Johnny Cash. I can’t play the modern stuff I like like Katy Perry, Ke$ha, or Barenaked Ladies. Not without getting slapped by a copyright notice.

Youtube has software that searches a video when its uploaded for copyrighted music.

If Youtube finds copyrighted music, it plays an ad before the video. The revenue from the ad goes toward the owner of the music.

Additionally a link to iTunes appears below the video so that someone can buy the music played in the song.

I could live with that eventually, but when I setup my Youtube channel I was looking forward to the possibility of making money off of it. If I use copyrighted music, then the ad revenue goes to the owner of the music instead of to me.

One of my ideas was to play music while streaming and then using editing software to eliminate the music from the audio track.

I have a theory for how I could do that, but I’m not confident that it will work successfully.

If I can’t get that to work then I either can’t play music during my streams, or I can’t profit directly from uploading clips of my Twitch streams to Youtube.

A separate problem that I hadn’t considered is whether its legal to play copyrighted music while streaming.

I’d need to relook at Twitch’s license agreement that I barely skimmed when I first agreed to it.

If it turns out that I’m not allowed to play stuff there then only one option remains for playing music on my Twitch and Youtube channels.

Public domain music.

I have close to zero experience with public domain music and no idea how I’ll find stuff that I will like or that will be appropriate.

I’m willing to give it a shot though!

-Mister Ed

Gurutama Timeline Revising Part 2

Previous: Gurutama Timeline Revising Part 1

I realized I didn’t like what I’d done in Part 1 much.

One of my goals with the revision was to give the timeline a consistent voice and right now the voice changes too much.

Sometimes there’s flowery prose and other times there’s informational text. Sometimes there’s even dialogue!

I’ve decided to edit it down to just informational text. That way it’ll be easier to find and recognize what we want to know later on when we use the new timeline as an information source.

So here’s the redo of the first section of the Timeline.

4121 BE: The Merfolk came into existence with Drolfo Sitnalta, god of the sea, as their patron deity.

4037 BE: Drolfo told his followers to build a city between the islands of the Maw. The Merfolk named the city Drolfo’s Cove in honor of their god.

3983 BE: On the island, Rontu-Aru, the great Egg Mother, Izquitl, created Cui-Xoloc, the tallest mountain in the world, to rest upon. The sheer faced mountain rose miles high, dividing the southern island-continent in two. An enormous waterfall sprung off the north side of the mountain, joining the river leading to the ocean.

3837 BE: Izquitl called up Hrududu, a vast rainforest covering the eastern half of Rontu-Aru. The Egg Mother started singing the first song of the world. The many birds of Hrududu listened and when she stopped her song the birds had taken on tall forms and gained intelligence not present in their lesser cousins. The Avians took flight.

3734 BE: Into the world came Humankind, timid and savage, knowing not from whence they came but living ever in decadent fear of the great fiery abyssal Najar Volcano, their own window into the beating heart of the world. The only thing greater than the Humans fear of the Volcano was their fear of the outside world. Their fear manipulated the physical world and protecting mountains grew up around the Humans.

3654 BE: After the last cycle of the world ended the Dwarves had buried themselves deep within the earth. Now they crawled up out of the dirt and rocks in the mountains in the west. The Dwarves got out their picks and shovels to create a new home in the new world. They would venture out of the mountains once the world “ripened.” The writing in their Holy Books  preserved between each generation would tell the Dwarves when the world ripened.

-Mister Ed

Next: Gurutama Timeline Revising Part 3

Original Gurutama Timeline

As I continue to develop more of Gurutama I’ll be making page links in the top bar for permanent information.

Eventually those page links will be an easy source of information for myself, my players, and anyone else who wants to read up on our imaginary world.

I’ll add more organization as necessary, but with only one link right now, I don’t think its needed.

If you haven’t already seen it at the top, the Original Gurutama Timeline is now accessible.

This is the unedited version which is probably filled with inconsistencies, timing problems, and other errors. I’ll be smoothing those out and posting a Revised Gurutama Timeline as I go.

That’s pretty much it for today!

Here’s a picture of a bear starting an exercise regime to make up for the lack of a real blog post.

Hula Hoop

-Mister Ed

Meeting on the Alexander Paper

One of the few realistic drawings of Larry Gonick depicting Alexander the Great capturing the Sogdian Rock.
One of Larry Gonick’s few realistic drawings depicting Alexander the Great capturing the Sogdian Rock.

Today I talked with the Classics professor who has been helping me with the paper I’ve been writing on Alexander the Great.

I finished the final edits on my paper for resubmission and I wanted to go over them with a professional.

We made a few more minor edits and I will resubmit once I pull all the copies together, make a CD copy, a new cover letter, etc.

I wanted to talk about how the submission process works for papers in academic articles.

First you submit whatever they require to the editor. The Journal of Popular Culture (JPC) that I’m submitting to wants three hard copies of the paper, a CD copy, a cover letter, and a return envelope.

The editor reads the paper to ensure the topic matches what the journal is about and isn’t horribly written. The JPC wouldn’t publish a paper on math theory for example.

If the paper is on topic it is sent out to two or three professionals in the field. These professionals are often professors of that topic.

The professionals review the paper and give their recommendation to the editor.

The recommendations come in four different flavors.

First, they can reject outright. The paper is rejected and will not be accepted ever.

Second, they can reject but ask for a resubmission. This is what I got. It’s also the most common response to any paper.

Third, they can accepted with a few edits. This is for when a few words are misspelled or there’s a grammar mistake.

Fourth, they can accept without any additional work needed. This rarely happens the first time a paper that is submitted to an academic journal.

I got reviewed by two people. One accepted it as is (AWESOME!) and one rejected it, asking me to resubmit after I’d removed some generalizations I’d made.

So now I resubmit. The editor will look at it again.

The editor will decide which reviewers to send it out to a second time. She could pick the same two as before, only one from before, or new people.

That’s up to her though. For now, I just have to get it in the mail!

-Mister Ed