Characters of Cimmeria: Jevaninada II

Time to talk about the BBEG (Big Bad Evil Guy), King Jevaninada II,  leader of the evil Xorians and first of the draconic vampire Dragovinians.

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King Jevaninada II leads the Xorian people both as their monarch and as the living avatar of Blendegad’s divine might. Jevaninada II grew up under the feminist regency of his mother, Queen Anajakaze. Blendegad attacked and turned Jev into a Dragovinian on the same night that he became King. Jevaninada spent twenty years undoing his mother’s reforms and spreading his condition to those he deemed worthy within Xoria. Over the last five years, King Jevaninada led an invasion into Eastern Cimmeria against the Second Alliance. Continue reading

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Neighbors 2 Review

Neighbors 2

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising is the latest comedy directed by Nicholas Stoller who had been involved in a fair number of modern comedies including Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Five Year Engagement, and the more recent Muppet movies.

Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, and Zac Efron reprise their roles from the first Neighbors movie as Mac, Kelly, and Teddy respectively. A couple of the side characters return as well but who cares about them?

The fraternity from the last movie has sold their house and moved on. Mac and Kelly are getting ready to sell their place to upgrade for more acreage or something (the reason is never really stated).

They have a buyer and they enter the closing period of escrow when suddenly a sorority moves in next door in the fraternity’s old house!

The reason for the sorority’s existence is a rather nice critique on the Greek system which I will attempt to explain.

Good sororities are almost always a part of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC). Membership in NPC comes with lots of support, but also lots of rules.

These rules happen to be a bit… sexist. Sororities are not allowed to throw parties or have alcohol in their houses. To get those things they have to go to fraternities.

And as the movie shows, fraternities can have a rapey atmosphere at their parties.

In Neighbors 2, a girl named Shelby decides to buck the system by forming an independent sorority along with her two friends, Nora and Beth.

Having a sorority next door threatens the closing of the sale for Mac and Kelly so naturally a prank war begins just like in the first Neighbors.

It’s a traditional and predictable comedy so at the end everyone has a happy ever after. I won’t spoil more than that.

There’s plenty of good jokes and funny scenes. There might not be a romantic subplot, but it’s a blast.

If you’ve seen Nicholas Stoller’s other stuff I think you’ll like Neighbors 2. If you haven’t seen any of his movies then you should get out from under your rock and go see Neighbors 2.

My favorite part was how the movie approached the sorority girls’ unique brand of feminism.

It’s less socially acceptable for women to do drugs, be gross, and make jokes than men. Instead women are encouraged to be dainty, polite, and out of sight.

The characters in Neighbors 2 directly challenge that stereotype. They smoke and sell pot. They don’t dress up for men and they joke about how they look fabulous with Cheetos in their hair. They throw used tampons at Mac and Kelly’s windows and laugh when it’s suggested that a used tampon is any different than the used condoms that were thrown around in Neighbors 1.

Best of all, Shelby, Nora, and Beth also accept women who don’t want to challenge the American stereotype of what a sorority girl is. If you want to be pretty and polite, that’s fine too.

So if you’re looking for a movie with a strong feminist message or just for some laughs, Neighbors 2 is right for you!

-GoCorral

Nox

Nox

Nox, the jewel of Xoria, boasts a population of over 200,000 people and the largest collection of magical artifacts. The artifacts are kept at the Museum of Power in the center of the metropolis. Because of the destructive potential of these various weapons, visitors are only admitted to the museum by petitioning King Jevaninada II himself. The collection includes the Sanguine Belt of the Night Mother, the Mace of Slaughter, the Invisible Ring of Cats, the Crescent of Wrath, the Fork of Horripilation, the Ten League Boots, the Face of Gods, the Ring of Impervious, the Prismatic Blade, Sin’s Mask, the Shadowstaff, the Staff of Not, the Ring of Draconic Wizardry, the Orb of Omniscience, a Hammer of Thunderbolts, a Deck of Many Things, and a Staff of the Magi. A few more items would be in the stockpile if the king himself was not using them. The possible depredations these items could commit led to the gods themselves granting aid for their protection. Hades allowed the resurrection of Argus from the dead if he would keep his hundred eyes upon all the artifacts in the Museum of Power. The museum is one large hall with Argus standing in the center of it, eternally watching and guarding the items to make sure none of them go missing.

Nox is the capital of Xoria and is ruled by King Jevaninada II, patriarch of the Xorian royal family. While Jevaninada II’s official duties include the administration of  Nox, he is far too busy with the ongoing war between Xoria and the Alliance in Eastern Cimmeria. Daily tasks in the city are delegated to Firotoshan, one of Jevaninada’s friends from childhood with a great head for numbers. Nearly every day he can be seen leading some public works project to benefit the upper class, executing criminals, or welcoming new Dragovinians into the fold. To many citizens, Firotoshan is the symbol of Xorian oppression. The Rebels have tried to assassinate him several times, but failed in all attempts. Firotoshan was the one who suggested the practice of using Dragovinian beasts to monitor the commoners and crush dissent.

The Kingdom of Xoria began its true expansion under King Demotinira. He conquered the cities of Jeutontic and Cecilia and setup the successful colony of Petar. When Demotinira died he left his throne to his eldest child, his daughter, Tarigananata. His son, Jevaninada I, rallied the nobles of Xoria against Tarigananata, claiming that she was possessed by a demon. She was exiled and Jevaninada I took control of Xoria and Nox. He continued the expansion of the Kingdom, taking over Dradalden, Colchis, Makotako, and Semanarie. As his invasions threatened more and more of Cimmeria, the First Alliance was formed by Princess Tarigananata to reverse Jevaninada’s actions. The First Alliance took several cities and killed Jevaninada I. Jevaninada’s Amazon Queen Anajakaze took control of the growing Empire and ultimately crushed the Alliance.

During the last months of the war, Anajakaze gave birth to Jevaninada II, the son and king of Xoria. Until he turned eighteen and could take the throne, Anajakaze ruled as his regent. She continued the relentless expansion, taking over Gazeara, Danar’s Swamp, Crafterton, and Sheerzen. Anajakaze implemented a matriarchal system of leadership, placing women in positions of power to undermine the traditional patriarchy. Jevaninada II resented this system and wished to return to the old ways. Anajakaze, aware of this, did not surrender her regency when Jevaninada II came of age.

Both Jevaninada II and Anajakaze were in for a surprise. After months of insisting that his mother step down, Jevaninada II attacked her in an attempt to force her compliance with his wishes. Their battle was interrupted by the arrival of Blendegad the Reaper, vampiric red dragon. Blendegad slew the queen and drank the blood of Jevaninada II. The vampiric dragon blood mixed with Jevaninada II’s divine royal blood creating a new form of vampire, Dragovinians.

A new religion was created for Xoria, Dragoviniysm. The deity, Blendegad, and his avatar, Jevaninada II, asked for service from their subjects and the immortal status of the Dragovinian was gifted to the faithful. The matriarchal reforms were reversed. Jevaninada II spent twenty years securing his power within his own Kingdom. Then in 400 BCE, Jevaninada II mobilized the Xorian people to attack the Second Alliance city of Phoenix. After several years, the city was taken. Jevaninada II splits his time between directing activities on the front and performing his duties in Castle Xoria at Nox.

Originally all the buildings of Nox were contained within the city walls, but more and more people immigrated to the city over the years. Now less than twenty percent of Nox’s population is actually protected by the walls. The rest of the city sprawls outwards to the west and north. After a large fire within the walls decades ago the city was rebuilt with orderly straight streets. The fire also allowed the nobles of Xoria to cluster their estates around Castle Xoria in the center of Nox.

Although Castle Xoria is not as physically strong as Colchis Castle or Sheerzen, it does have the advantage of being a complete maze. Most of the inner passageways are only two or three feet across. Guests often get lost if not accompanied by a member of the castle staff or a noble. There was even one noble who was thought dead for ten years who resurfaced in the castle. He had lost his way and survived on rat flesh and moss for a decade. The problem is so severe that some visitors to the castle are sure that magic is at work.

The nearby wood is called the King’s Copse because only Jevaninada II and his guests are allowed within the forest’s borders. He goes there occasionally on hunting trips, but the copse is used for nothing else. Any who venture into it are never seen again. The wood that Nox uses for fires, buildings, and furniture is acquired from the thin Royal Forest to the northwest or imported from Makotako.

Nox’s main export is food. In the past this was sent to Persia, Scythia, or the rest of Cimmeria. With the war underway, all excess food is sent to the front to feed the troops. This is especially necessary due to the shortage within Phoenix due to the prolonged siege. Nox continues to import luxury items for the many nobles in the city. With the explosion of Dragovinianism among the nobles, rare bloods are now in high demand.

The high concentration of Dragovinians in Nox has also put a great deal of pressure upon the common people in the capital city. The nobles and others gifted with Dragovinian status don’t spend all their time drinking exotic imported blood. Usually they gain their sustenance from the weekly ceremony where citizens are forced to gather in Dragovinian churches to “donate.” Bloodletting is spread throughout the populace to prevent injury or death, but the practice remains demeaning. Coupled with the everyday depridations of the Dragovinians due to their naturally evil disposition and the people of Nox are ready to revolt. The Dragovinian beasts prevent direct action within the city, so many people have fled the city to join the Rebellion in Bigby’s Forest.

-GoCorral

Colchis

This is the first of these entries that requires more significant editing. I admit that when a character never showed up in my previous campaigns I saw no reason to change the name or provide a different story. The same can’t be said for Aeëtes. He played a large role in the events over the past forty years in Cimmeria and he also died. I needed to detail the more recent history of Colchis which will become relevant in my campaign soon. I also needed to remove the references to Aeëtes that used the present tense. Additionally, there are a few words and mythical characters that you might not be familiar with in this post. Rather than define them here, I’ve added links to appropriate webpages with additional information if you wish to access it.

Colchis

Colchis is the famed holy city where Jason ventured to find the Golden Fleece. Before the Trojan War the city was ruled by King Aeëtes and the same king continued to rule into the new age. After having his city’s prized possession stolen from him he panicked and immediately sought out a way to extend his natural life. He found his answer in undeath. Aeëtes forced the city magician to transform him into a Curst. With eternity on his side, Aeëtes studied as many magical tomes as he could get his hands on in order to increase his inhumane might. He later had his eternal power increased by having himself spell-stitched.

This unholy process didn’t go without attracting some attention from Hades, Lord of the Underworld. Every mortal who becomes an immortal has effectively escaped Erebos and Hades doesn’t like losing any of his citizens, especially kings. Hades put a bounty on King Aeëtes. Hundreds of Marut inevitables, demons, devils, bounty hunters, and hopeful heroes swarmed to Colchis in the wake of the Trojan War. They all failed and died due to Colchis Castle’s excellent defenses and the intervention of Demeter who stepped in to save Aeëtes due to her old grudge with Hades. Some of the warriors were captured and made to serve King Aeëtes through magical charming, bribing, or in the case of the inevitables, reprogramming. The other creatures have since died out, but the inevitables survived the centuries. Aeëtes even made more inevitables to increase their numbers.

While Aeëtes lived Hades sent another army to attack the city every blood moon. Aeëtes fought off all of these attacks but he could not defend against the Seven Rages of Jevaninada the First. The Seven came to Colchis and subdued Aeëtes. They forced him to undergo a permanent quest spell that bound him to serve King Jevaninada the First. This enchantment was broken by Amalgami and Salzar during the First Alliance War. Aeëtes engaged the Rage, Grave, during the uprising and lost his soul in the conflict. With his soul imprisoned in Grave’s ruby dagger, Aeëtes could not return to life as he once did. Some say that Grave bartered the soul to Hades, but others say that the soul still resides in the ruby dagger, now lost after the death of Grave.

At the conclusion of the First Alliance War, Queen Anajakaze put ruling ladies in control throughout the realm, replacing existing lords or absent lords such as King Aeëtes.  In Colchis she installed Lady Shunawo Ka, the sorceress, as the city’s ruler. Shunawo is one of the few ladies to survive the purge that King Jevaninada II instigated upon taking power. She married the King’s friend, Wulang, adopting his surname, Li. As Wulang often went away on eforcer missions, Lady Li continued to rule in his absence. She keeps control in Colchis Castle to this day, even with Wulang missing and presumed dead in Bigby’s Forest.

Colchis Castle has long been known for its amazing defensive capability. The castle is a built on a solitary hill in the middle of the city. The Don River has been rerouted to flow around both sides of this hill creating a natural moat. A large clutch of about thirty Tojanida were persuaded by Aeëtes to live in the moat. They prevent anybody from swimming across in exchange for food and gold from the ruler of Colchis, now Lady Li.

The Castle itself is an extradimensional space much bigger than it would normally be. There is space enough for the 65,000 people of Colchis to fit along with the food and water necessary to sustain them for four months. Every single one of the statues in the Castle animates upon intrusion and seeks out the trespasser. A guards and wards spell is also in effect for when the castle is under attack with the added effect of a suggestion over every significant entrance to join forces with the good and just Lady Li and receive great rewards. There are numerous other traps within Colchis Castle to prevent an army from ever reaching the basement where the population of the city waits during an attack. There are even rumors that the ancient sleepless dragon that Medea defeated is still somewhere within the citadel with an army of its Spartoi waiting at Lady Li’s command.

Colchis is practically a Greek city and thus the typical Colchian diet is also practically Greek. The farms in Colchis are especially plentiful because of Demeter’s help. They provide onions, wheat, olives, grapes, and goats for the people to eat and plenty left to export and earn money for the city’s defense against Hades. Some of the best wine in The Magical Lands comes from Colchis. The Colchians also consume fish and urchins that are taken from the Black Sea. Colchis has a small navy that can contend with any of the other tiny fleets on the Black Sea. They need fear no invasion from the Mediterranean due to the Symplegades.

A huge temple to Demeter was built after Aeëtes received her help in the first invasion of Hades. The temple walls are made of magically hardened glass that helps the indoor jungle plants grow. A special breed of faeries was made by Prometheus in exchange for a favor from Aeëtes at a later time. These faeries, dubbed Washernias, fly around on small water jets that keep the plants inside the temple hydrated. At the end of the temple away from the huge glass doors is a thirty foot high statue of Demeter standing with her arms spread out to the sides. In her left hand she holds a shaft of wheat and in her right, an apple. A smaller statue of Persephone rises to her navel. A large basin is carved into the floor at the statues’ feet for sacrifices to be offered into.

A large tomb to Aeëtes’s only son, Absyrtus, exists in the market district of Colchis. The custom of touching one’s hand to the lips and then to the heart as one passes the shrine has continued even after Aeëtes’s death. The interior of the tomb is open to those who wish to see the gold, jewels, treasure, and body contained within. The valuables are cursed and cannot be removed from the tomb. When the tomb was first opened many thieves tried to steal the items only to dissolve into putrid liquid as they exited the tomb. The corpse of Absyrtus was magically put back together after Medea eviscerated it and is now preserved with a magical effect emanating from the tomb itself. On the anniversary of Absyrtus’s death a day of the dead is held which includes a solemn parade that terminates at the tomb’s threshold.

It is not clear to the public why Aeëtes did not bring his favorite child back from the dead. Legend says that he attempted a resurrection that the soul of Absyrtus refused. The citizens of Colchis believe the corpse is animated and is simply under orders to remain in repose at the tomb until some mysterious event has passed. If this is true then Absyrtus would be an extremely powerful being after having nothing to do but gather his power over the centuries.

Colchis is a melting pot for the people of The Magical Lands and those of Greece. It attracts tourists from both sides to enjoy its mixed culture. The city also brings in many religious tourists due to the monuments built to the many heroes who passed through the city on the Argo. A strange effect has been noticed by those who visit Colchis. Whenever Lord Aeëtes or a Dragovinian pass by one of the fifty-two statues to the Argonauts, the statue’s eyes glow an eerie green. No one is sure why this happens, but some believe it to be due to the immortal nature of Aeëtes and the Dragovinians. This has infuriated Hades but his hands are tied by the blood moon restriction on his attacks on Colchis.

The city has many places to stay for tourists, travelers, pilgrims, and merchants. By far the most popular boarding house for adventurers is the Broken Wagon. The first room of the Broken Wagon was built from discarded wagon parts deemed unsalvagable by Colchian wainwrights. That room now serves as the entryway to a far larger structure. The Wagon is owned by the Nima family. The current owner, Dreyus Nima, is the descendant of the original builder, Gestor Nima. Dreyus was an adventurer for a time during his youth, but stopped after losing his hand. He has since regenerated the hand, but the fear of losing it again dampens his thirst for excitement. He loves to hear the tales of other adventurers and vicariously experience their thrills.

The rough and tumble appearance of the Broken Wagon provided the attraction for adventurers initially and now more and more come due to the network effect. Jobs a plenty can be found at the Wagon, bounties are collected at the Wagon, magical items are identified and traded at the Wagon, and everyone has a story to tell at the Wagon.