Sunday, May 28, 2017

Fluid, or Unstable

Very hard to tell the difference between 'fluid' and 'unstable'. I think we are being fluid. Malleable. Flexible.

But we might just be nuts.

Within the structure of Jorune I have always had the argument between resource and adventures. To allow for that, each issue of Sholari Magazine will have five areas:
  • Resource - details on a subject, usually a geographic area
  • Adventures - Sholari Adventure Kits (SAK) for taking a crew through some Jorune setting
  • Ten Questions - A Jorune personality asked about topic Jorune
  • Opinion: Sholari - About the world, the game, the playing of the game, or a related topic form the outside world.
  • Reprint - Representation of an old item from either Sholari magazine (Volume 1) or the Annals of the Tansoor Historical Society. Edited, expanded, corrected -whatever would be appropriate. Hopefully related to the content of that issue.

For example, in issue one, Scars for Far Temauntro is both Resource (Temauntro, Shanthas, Lamorri) and Adventure (or elements any good sholari can pluck to add to their own games). And the presentation is an experiment with Fiction as Adventure and Resource. Ten Questions will be me - Why Journe? The new editor wanted to ask some questions, I did and now we've asked Andrew Leker to answer ten more for the second issue. The Opinion will be A World of Your Own, about taking a game world and setting it up just for your games. Freedom to create. To leave out what you don't like, put in things no other game you have. The Reprint will be The Somar, from the second issue of Sholari, about 20 years ago, but expanded, edited and made proper for new readers.

We have the usual "waiting for art" thing that will continue to plague Jorune. Oh well. It's not like we can run down to the Walmart to get some frozen art pieces for Jorune. Custom. Time consuming and needs the brain with a hand to create the drawings and paintings to come.

Issue two is set up and about 90% written. Issue three is started. Issue four is outlined but still flexible. Fluid.

But wait, there's more.

On the Yahoo list the question of additional Gomo Guides came up, and Gomo Guide: Tan Iricid seems to be a shared thought. It would be easy to do. There are a lot of previously published Thriddle bits that could be put into the guide, a bit of art, we can do the map and detail locations, plant a few seeds for creating new Tan Iricidi ideas...

Sure, why not. Gomo Guide: Tan Iricid is in the shed and we've started hammering on it.

But, so what. That's not exciting.

Trying to coordinate things has led to this idea.

Ponteer, the Portugal of Jorune; Trade and Intgrigue
Resource. Gomo Guides. But Gomo Guide: Tan Iricid is response to request, but after that we will make the Gomo Guide be related to an adventure.

Adventures. SAK. Sholari Adventure Kit. Independently and inside Sholari Magazine.

For example, Gomo Guide; Ponteer will be related to SAK: The Angel of Drail, a stand alone adventure with some depth and secrets behind Jorune. (Do you know how many years I've been trying to get the Angel of Drail and information on Ponteer OUT? There was just never time and things were on fire. and that pesky 'life or death' stuff kept coming up. You know how that is.)

But if you want resource, just get Gomo Guide: Ponteer. SAK: Angel of Drail will be a connected product with adventure related to Ponteer and the northern part of Drail. You can get just the adventure.

But if you want both buy the hard copy of Angel of Drail and you get a free PDF of the Gomo Guide: Ponteer. And you would still have the option of the printed copy of Gomo Guide: Ponteer. Get one. Get the other. Get both, but an option for the GM to get the hard copy WITH the Resource appropriate to that adventure.

Then Gomo Guide: Sydra, with the adventure Red Gate from Sholari v2n2.

Gomo Guide: Auklin, with Pits of Auklin, Sholari v2n3.

When I started doing the supplements for Chessex, the plan was always one inside Burdoth, one outside Burdoth. Voyage of the Aylon Star (Jasp, outside Burdoth), then Atlas Sobayid (inside Burdoth), and Gire fo Sillipus (outside Burdoth). The next one was to be Atlas: Lusail with Sydra (inside Burdoth). And so on. But that didn't happen. Poo.

Does all of this sound like iot would be of any interest, or a good way to present both the world in more detail, and adventures to drag your players kicking a screaming to Jorune?


Getting the Team Back Together

Dadin Dado Returns in Sv2n1
I have been to hell and back with Macintosh OSX/Font/Bluetooth issues and they may be resolved. May. Maybe. Could be. I hope.

But the cover artist for Sholari Volume 2 Number 1 just delivered his latest 'draft' of the 3D construction which will be a jaw dropper. But he is doing MORE work on it, and the final version will be painted in Photoshop based on a 3d scene that is VERY Jorune, AND it is a great illustration of the story Scars of Far Temauntro in that issue. Wrap around, full color cover ... will set a nice standard for future covers to match, or exceed.

The idea of having a crew to work with is still new to me. Instead of alone alone alone, I have:

  • Three editors who actually edit. What a concept:
  • A proofing editor who is wonderfully anal in his demands for detail.
  • A "First Eyes" volunteer who will examine things fresh, not someone who has been seeing it through process for week or months (or years) and can spot the error before they are released
  • An artist who never knew Jorune but showed up and did a creditable job
  • An artist who has been with Sholari before and has matured and shown more skill (that would be the afore mentioned 3d modeller painter)
  • An artist who has been with Sholari before but become a professional in comics and illustration, who I hope will accept a project that is just a-bornin'
  • An artist who has a style that at first looks "fannish" but you can then see it is a style, very unlike other Jorune illustrations which will work for an upcoming article
Two other artists who have expressed interest - but it is only the follow thru that will matter. Maybe they will join the team. A team to venture into new Jorune material and bring back the old with corrected, updated and expanded presence.

There is a crew of people from Jorune's past surfacing and I am really looking forward to their contribtuions, including the oft-lamented Heridothians of the UK, the Sholari James and editors of Borkelby's Folly and Danstead Traveller.

And the whole project moving up to become a more fluid, living thing. A living fluid ... kind of like isho. I like a living fluid that can fill to any shape container and remain itself.

Can I handle it?

Twist my damn arm. Let's find out.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

I have to say this blog is a nice option. I get to blather as much as I like and only people who have the interest find out what I said or care.


It is a shame I can't get more people to care. But a small group of people who share the illness makes it more bearable. Always.
Dominic Green's "Jack Ho Tried" from Sholari v1n2
During excavations during "spring cleaning, I came upon a real find.

A character sheet for a culture. 

Not mine. Not a character, really. But it was the "character" sheet for a city, and the culture of that city, in Heridoth. I may scan the front page to share. In the late 1980s and early 1990s there was a PBM game (I think it was not postage stamps, but actually Play By MAIL) where each player became a city in the confederation of city-states in what we call Heridoth. It was background for the City of York in Sholari #3.

And an ongoing wonder for me. What a great, original way to explore Jorune. Play a CITY, and each city had its own culture.

There are several articles I would like to publish in future issues of Sholari Magazine. And the Heridothians of Cambridge were as unique a way to play Jorune as I ever hope to find. InterYord, fashions, histories, notable characters like Jack Ho Tried, and a whole different flavor of a unique culture on a unique world, Jorune. 

I don't remember Skyrealms actually figuring in.

This is the list of Heridothians from 1994 and the cities they played. 23 years ago, for the non-math inclined.
  • Koistra - Owen Smith
  • Sholis - Jonathan Roach (circus) then Alan Glover (Church of True Isho)
  • Ellemin - Paul Roberts
  • Dowsen - Howard Chalkley
  • York - Bob Dowling
  • Simbi - NPC under Mike Tittensor (Sage Robert) then Dominic (Pan Tahsia) then briefly John Sloan (Sage Robin) as a Dobren puppet
  • Meard - Dominic Green
  • Vamdrey - NPC under Mike Tittensor (Gull Priests) then Dominic (Pan Tahsia)
  • Korrid - Jim Chapman (God King Angar) briefly invaded by Pan Tahsia
  • Holy Terran Empire - NPC under Mike Tittensor
  • Cemaes Tribe - Nick Hornigold
Owen was my primary contact. I have about four email addresses for him, all dead. He was in Cambridge, can't locate him through the alumni services. Yet. I have looked for an been unable to find any of them. And I would kill to find them. (You give me your list, I'll give you mine...)

Seriously - if anyone has a way to reach these guys, I think it would bar the benefit of all Jorunis to see what they had to offer. Unique UK flavor, like Dr. Who. But not.

You see, I have had this folder of Heridoth material and I refuse to publish without the author's (or artist's) permission. Funny, that. Gets in the way of sharing. And that might be a whole stand alone Best of the Heridothians collection. Or a series of articles in Sholari. As god intended.

Dominick Green also gave us this rooftop view of Meard. Click on it. I dare you.

Stop Croid Slavery Now.

If you dig through the files available on or search for "SOJ RPG" on, you will find copies of the Danstead Guide to York. A PDF you should have.

Up and Down

I try to look at things that way, and go for the Up first.

Up. Spent about two hours with Andrew in a chat yesterday. Getting started on getting caught up, filled him in on all the news around Return to Jorune, which seemed to please him. And it was just a nice catch up session. These days he has a lot going on and reaches out often enough to stay in the loop,  and prevent Sholari Joe from feel left out in the cold.


Down. Paul Pinkosh, the new editor for Sholari Magazine, found an error in Gomo Guide: Thoneport. And I had that dramatic "What the hell is wrong with me? Why do I even do things in the public eye?" stuff. But that only went on for about half and hour, then it was solution. I can fix the PDF immediately and anyone who bought the PDF will get the upgrade immediately. People who bought the book already will have a corrective PDF emailed to them, if they write me to ask for it. And I can update the files with, so that anyone buying it in the future gets the corrected version.

But, Up. We're talking the legendary master of the typo, Sholari Joe. And this is "an" error.

Progress. Seriously.

The chaos of the corrupted system which carried into being unable to restore files from the backup system. But - UP. I have become so paranoid about losing files due to lightning strikes and hardware failures (particularly hard disks) that I have threads to find almost everything I've done in the past couple of years. Almost.

From Radio Heyoka Drama Workshop, 1978.
I have found some projects that are just GONE. I had been digitizing some of my old radio shows (I did a LOT of radio, particularly radio drama in the 1972-1991 period. Most of those never made it to digitized MP3 format. But some did. Recent archeological finds include cassettes of some of the old KPFK, American Radio Theater, Invisible Radio Theater, Midwest Radio Theater Workshop, and stray independent things from other people, mostly through Sue Zizza's RadioWorks project. I found about 60 tapes and was in the process of digitizing (and listening while digitizing) when sewage struck the air circulation device.

UP - some of the things that were lost had already been digitized, tho not as well, and were up on All four hours of Chapel Perilous (my personal favorite of all my radio work production). Some, but not all, of Bertha And... (often spoken as Bertha And Dot Dot Dot), a parody of radio soap operas.

The stuff found on cassettes include productions with my late partners Gregg A. Roebuck and David L. Krebs. Bill Berkuta, our benefactor and engineer, is still around, and some of the actors are friends on Facebook. It will be nice to get them digitized and up onto so people can find them. Should they ever look. Every once in a while, I do get an email from someone who just discovered a show...

I'm also doing the script for a presentation at the upcoming Ghost Town Writer Retreat for horror writers, held in a real ghost town of Colorado. I have an even longer obsession with radio drama than I do with Jorune. It's a shame the two cannot be combined at this late day. I would LOVE that. But I will not be able to attend and present that personally, so my old chum Mike Hance will be at the mike to introduce a new generation of writers to the possibilities of Radio Drama.

There is a direct correlation of radio drama and role playing games. They are two of the three "Hot" media. The third is reading. (How's that for three Rs?) They require the participation of an audience to be complete - you decide what they look like, what the movement was like, the casting, the costuming, the choreography of the fights... all in the privacy of your own brain. And no one else can do it as perfectly as it sits in your brain.

I love me some "Hot" media.

Up. Up. And Up.

Part of my communications with Andrew, and with Paul, has been to pull the threads together to reveal a pattern in the wampum. Just a bunch of beads formed over 25 years, but when you get them all together they show revelations and fun related to human fanatacisim (and the Thoneport project was up an running long before the current political song and dance, so do even go there), secrets of the Lamorri invasion a thousand years before humans arrived (Sholari Magazine v2n1, and more in Angel of Drail - which reveals more about humans and Isho, combined), secrets of the Earth Colonies and how it effects people on Jorune to this day - and next week, too (Thoneport and the big campaign of Children of Bomoveris). There are revelations on problems of Warp Mechanics (Sholari v2n2).

I've had 25 years of crafting the beads and hope to get all of the wampum out by mid-2018. Up?

Sunday, May 21, 2017

I was introduced to Jorune in 1992. In the past 27 years I had one break of about three years away, but the rest of the time has been pretty well saturated Jorune lore.

So when I recently mapped out what I wanted to get done, it was a surprise that I could get all of my foreseen projects done by mid 2018 (at my present pace).

The most recent include:

  • The Scar of Far Temauntro (in Sholari v2n1) - More about the Lamorri with an ancient curse
  • The Red Gate (in Sholari v2n2) - this incorporates a project formerly mentioned as 'the Mes Dig' 
  • ORFA Jorune (introduced in Sholariv2n1, but free download for future issues) - minimalistic system evolved from 2nd and 3rd Edition d20 systems, Jorune 3.5, Oracle, and other tweaks along the way.
  • The Blue Gate (in Sholari v2n2)  - a very different warp pairing
  • The Name of the World (Sholari v2n2) - new thoughts on a secret in Miles' original map 2 page map in 2nd Edition, plus nuances of Shanthic language.
  • The Gift (in Sholari v2n3) - there was once an eighth Isho, but there isn't now. And why the Ebba are kie-Ebba instead of ca-, like all the other lih-als. Also why there was so little recovery for the shanthat in the 1,000 years between the eviction of the Lamorri and the arrival of the Hoomanzi.
  • The Angel of Drail (standalone) - More about the Earth Colony, then and now
  • Day War or The Head Game (standalone) - soccer hooligans of Jorune
  • The Pits of Auklin (looking at v2n3) - to-the-death gladiators in the Dah-ah-dey underworld
  • New Jorune Atlas (not sure where this will go. May be a standalone) - pretty is nice
  • The Far Side of Jorune - what if there were no land masses on the far side of Jorune. Would that explain why the outer edges have no large cities? It would mean hellacious storms, mostly on the western shores. To be explored. Destination unknown.
  • Allidoth Confidential (standalone Jorune fiction) - the Dark Side of Allidtoh, featuring Mord Jalanor, author of the Slam Desti, Boy Yord stories.
  • Children of Bomoveris (Standalone) - A campaign write-up of an eight year game. this is the last of the new series I currently project, and it can be done by mid-2018

Background map for the New Jorune Atlas, based on Teves 2nd Edition Map

All of these are actually in various stages of completion, some are in editing, some are just outlines, others are waiting for art. 

Each of the Sholari will also have a reprint from previously published things, with proper editing. They include:

  • The Somar (from Sholari v1n2 for Sholari v2n1)
  • Introduction to Warp Mechanics (from Annals of the Tan Soor Historical Society for Sholari v2n3)
  • The Art Lovers (from Sholari v1n1 - destination tbd)
  • Slam Desti, Boy Yord (from Sholari v1n3 - destination tbd, maybe with additional Yule Dreadful stories added in a pseudo-pulp) 
  • Thriddle Culture and Measure (from Tan Soor but not clearly destined, yet)

But I'm sure some other things will come up along the way. I owe this to the appearance of Paul Pinkosh, who has turned into a very sympatico collabarator, proofreader and cohort. There is also the matter of two old Jorune illustrators returning (the first will be the cover on Sholari v2n1, of which I have managed to keep my mouth shut but I will say it has to do with a Jorune monument from a 3D model and... you'll have to wait to see it) and two more illustrators who are willing to do the work. I think Miles left shoes way to big to fill, but they are going to step up and do their own things. And I have been encouraged to pick up a pencil again. It's been a while.

So, all of this could be done by mid-2018.

But then what would I do? Will I find another planet for my dream time, or will more Jorune reveal itself. I don't know.

But I have to get back to work.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Meanwhile back on Earth

Ganeshaji, Remover of Obstacles
I've had another chapter in the worst computer misadventure I've had since I bought my first Macintosh in 1985.

By use of deductive reasoning, the tech who has been on the phone for me for about four of the last twenty-four hours, and the work I've done off line and off phone for about 16 of the last 24 hours, may have brought about a revival of deductive reasoning to do Sherlock Holmes proud.

We had the same problem, i.e. repeated and uncontrolled reboots without actually loading the operating system or the programs. Booting over and over and over during the booting process.

Computers are stupid and obedient. They do what they are told. They cannot say whether or not they are capable of doing what you've ask. And what you ask may not be you, but a program, or a bolt of lightning in 2015. A mung in a file was created sometime around that period. That mung is in an invisible file (i.e., a file with a name that looks something like ".filename.bluetooth.startup" -something and which short circuit the boot process.

Which file - we may never know.

What I have to do is NOT copy invisible munged files to the newly formatted hard disk in the new computer (Mac Mini) nor into the new operating system (OS X 10.12.4). I must transfer single files. I can do them in groups but no "Select All" and drag copy. Individual files, clicked on directly, drag copied from the old folder to the a new folder on the disk of the new computer.

So for one of the immediate files, Sholari Volume 2 Number 1, the process will be:

Select all of the most recent article files, graphics, fonts, and primary documents (InDesign layout file, for example) into a fresh folder at the receiving disk.

Or, to be precise: Create a new folder on the freshly formatted disk, then lick "Why Jorune?" click "A World of One's Own" click "Scar of Far Temauntro" click "The Somar" click Albertu MT Font click Sv1n1 layout (InDesign) click individual graphics files for the whole issue including the cover in Photoshop click Cooper font for the cover click notes for the issue click Palatino font for the interior click click "Return 2 Jorune" blocks for the magazine series click layout graphics (like the cool Miles Teves header footer squiggles) click graphics from previous Jorune publications to drop in where appropriate and drag all of those into the new folder on the revirgined main disk on the MacMini.

Then repeat that process for the Collected Danstead Traveller.
Then repeat that process for the Collected Borkelby's Folly.
Then repeat that process for the standalone Angel of Drail and the Gift of Kie
Then repeat that process for the Collected Sholari James
Then repeat that process for my novel Song of Orphans so it can be up on DriveThruRPG before the end of the month which is not a part of Jorune but part of my Earth life
Then repeat that process for the Do It Yourself Radio drama book, which is not related to Jorune but is part of my Earth life
Then repeat that process for the Horror in Classic Radio Drama syllabus/presentation for the Horror Writers in the Rockies retreat in July, which is not part of Jorune but part of my Earth life.
And the project for snappy sayings in 12-Step Recovery, ditto Earth life.
And the 'Mazing Adventures comic book, ditto Earth life.
And Sholari v2n2 (Red Gate, Blue Gate, Black Gate, Name of the Planet, and more)
And Sholari v2n3 (Pits of Auklin, and more)
And standalone Day War or the Head Game
And the novel What I Want To Be When I Grow Up, ditto Earth life
And the novella Saturn Ate His Young, ditto earth Life
And the novella Villain, ditto Earth Life
And the Children of Bomoveris Campaign Book
And the novella Song of Power, ditto Earth life.

And people wonder why I prefer Jorune.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Going four rounds with Jorune

From Alient Logic CRPG
I'm supposed to get a new keyboard and mouse delivered.

I just had the worst computer chapter in 32 years as Mac user. The keyboard I am using on the new Mac Mini is very resistant and punching down in this damn thing is like shadowboxing.

Makes typing, even for Jorune, just plain unattractive.

If you are reading the blog, how about checking in - and from where? I know I have people following the game in the US, Canada, UK, Sweden, France and maybe Germany.

Where are you?

Monday, May 15, 2017

Hard Boiled Jorune?

Mock-up for the new SHOLARI magazine format
Does anyone write fiction about Jorune? 
Years ago I wrote a short story, "The Muadra's Meal", with the muads hiding in a cave from an isho storm outside. They had a ceremony to mark their community - and a dancing shantha. It was in one of the original Danstead Travellers and will re-appear in the forthcoming Collected Danstead Traveller. 
There is another story based on the adventures of the author-turned-querrid Mord Jalanor. He appeared in "Slam Desti, Boy Yord" way back in Sholrai #3, about 1996. It is called "Allidoth Confidential" and centered on an unexplored city up the coast from Ardoth and a very pulp mood with a Jorune twist.
While wondering where it should go, it occurred to me to ask if anyone else finds Jorune to be an interesting setting for a story. Maybe we could do an anthology. It could originate with a write of your favorite Jorune game.
To me 'story; means it is the narrative that is a point in the life of the protagonist important enough to tell. It is something at risk or desired to the point it marks a change in the life of the protagonist. Otherwise it is an anectdote. Most episodic television is anectodal - the character must be in the same position at the end as they were at the beginning (so shows can run in any order during syndication). Recently there have been real 'stories' on the telly - stories that are really 'life and death' - and it has improved the quality of many, many shows.
So, anyone have a story about Jorune that might be interesting to include in an anthology. (I would like a lot of noir/pulp stories in a pulp style cover... but that's me. Which matters because I'd actually publish a volume of fan-fiction.) 
Send me a private message if you have something.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

We Return You To Our Blog...

Okay. Back to functioning.

Tried to change the theme and the menu bar, which allows me to make new posts. All better.

I'll probably post after I get home from class tonight. I'd ditch, but I'm the teacher, so...

How I like to see myself. Slimmer.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Divine Omisson

One of the most appealing aspects of Jorune was the absence of one of the most poorly developed aspects of most role playing game - artificial religion.

Jorune did not offer a pantheon of Gods, nor a thinly disguised Terran religion appearing unchanged over 3,500 years. There was no automatic assumption of religious organization or conflict, but there were suggestions of a deep spiritual life – of a respect for what they know to be true without justification and privilege of a priesthood or sacred class.

There is a type of Christianity. The Mundells, who teach that Jorune is God's punishment for leaving earth, but there is no mention of a surviving book to justify other beliefs for activities.

Shanthat at a Cle Eshta
The native Shantha have a belief in "Sho Caudal", or the Isho Wind, from which their awareness comes and to which it goes, and that belief extends into other awareness, including plants and, to some extent, stone - particularly isho bearing crystal. Cracking crystal to gain power is viewed much the same way as killing animals for meat. Sometimes, that is what you do. Although they have presented as vegetarian, surviving on a mossy water plant grown in their dark, undermountain cities, I don't know that that is true of all Shantha. The different groupings are not just based on color of isho, but there are physical differences that are associated with each ca- (or kie-). There will be a nice chunk on this in the second issue of the new Sholari magazine - "The Name of the Planet".

David Ackerman's Crugar
Iscin races revere their creator, the bio-scientist Theodore Iscin of the original Earth Colony who created their various species in a lab, now lost, somewhere in the Gauss Valley. Crugar particularly have demonized the opponent of Iscin, the bio-scientist Karl Bomoveris. This was the man who created a Shantha killing virus and who, according to Crugar tradition, murdered Iscin and scattered his creations to the wild. Bronth tell a slightly different tale and Woffen agree with the Bronth version, which puts the blame for Iscin's death on the first Crugar, Chowndra (which has become a Woffen insult when facing down Crugar). It is not clear if Blount have a religous thought stream, yet. And no one knows the Tologran view of spiritual reality. Yet.

Thriddle seem to have a paranoid worship of information in any form. They document, archive, hire querrids to do field work they do not want (or are too afraid) to do. They know the true history of Jorune going back to the Lamorri invasion. They live in the old Lamorri base that is the Mountain Crown in the middle of massive collection of artifacts as a closed museum, and issue thousands of reports, many in readable languages in scroll or book format. But it is not clear if that works into a belief system we would call "spiritual". Or maybe we do not yet appreciate the nature of their alien social construct. We have recently learned that Thriddle are not an homogeneous mass - there are lumps in the gravy. Factions vie for power, or to maintain secrets, from each other, but definitely from the other intelligent races that have grown into a savage competition for control of the planet.

Ramian seem to find what we would consider a religious satisfaction of being the last one standing after combat with an intelligent race or a beast. Sometimes with each other. The last one alive seems to be of great importance to them and is the closest we can come to a Ramian spiritual belief. So far.

Thivin have only been known on Jorune for a short while and their belief appears to be simple. Work. Work much. Work hard. Work good. Breed. Work more. Get paid. Work more. A Thivin who daydreams is rear, but should get some attention. What happens when master weapon smiths come up with a new idea? And is that spiritual?

Tologra are the most recently revealed race and we know almost nothing of their society or thought. Maybe a Querrid will report back from Sharden. Soon. I'm sure are already Querrid's on assignment in that distant land.

Cleash. And their chemically enslaved Scarmis. And the non-enslaved free Scarmis. We cannot even describe how they think, much less their thoughts on metaphysical concepts or realities. And it would most likely not be a comforting thing to understand. Maybe.

It is a the shallow imitation of Earth based belief systems that has been the dragging anchor of many other world settings. It isn't a thinly disguised soap box from which to preach a poorly conceal prostletization of all-too-familiar contemporary schools of religious thought.

It is a nice Rorschadt of open spaces where the reader and player can insert their own thoughts and call them "Jorune".

Which is another reason I go back to my favorite Jorune as often as I can.

And I have made my own Jorune to return to.

Enthusiastic Silliness

David Ackerman's Durlig?
I do not worship Jorune. There are things I found silly and the indulgence of teenagers who project their limited thoughts to the world at large.

The silliest thing was the root "durlig", which is absolutely necesary for Earth based life to survive on Jorune. It is the arrogance of thinking they know what people would think is a nasty tasting food. And very American. Around our world people eat things that cause "yuuuck" response in protected populations who have never known hunger or the diseases/conditions as a result of malnutrition. People eat fried rats, with the hair still on it - and pay for it as fast food - on a stick. I go yuck at that, but if it is wait until you can save up for a "real" meal,  or starve, you start acquiring a taste.

Mmmmmmm. Rat like mama use to hawk on street corners.

Human favorite foods are
If there was a on-crop lynch pin to human survival, there would be catastrophe with a crop failure. And, since the Thantierians survived a thousand year siege by living in great fortresses, where did they grown their durlig. Durlig is a giant root plant. Did they have two story tall planters on the roof for sun and water, or expend precious resources on hydroponics and willing sacrifice the lower classes by denying the necessary tubers?

So, I shrugged. One thing I did not agree with in a world that otherwise fascinated and drew me.

Questions of population come to me. How many people were in the original colony, how many survived. How many types of mutations did not breed true or were so mutated that it got in the way of survivability? What is a 'viable' human population.

On this planet we suspect the human population was crashed to near extinction levels, and some even argue for a genetic "Eve", a single pregnant female from whom everyone alive today has descended. But even that is now in question with discovery of breeds beyond the traditional Cro Mangan, Neandertal, and Denisovian stocks. We seem to have a similar genetic bottleneck with the Cheetah. Cheetah are all the same DNA - there is no diversity. One good Cheetah flu and the entire species sneezes into oblivion.

How big was the "Shyee" - the "Dying Times" after the Human-Shanthic war? What were the surviving populations, where, and how big? Who lost? Why did survivors survive? We know the Thantierian - the longest lived non-Shanthic civilization on the planet - survived by having a "Century of Grace" with working Earth-tec on par with the Colony, and many bits of Earth-tec survived for centuries after. But until the recent discovery of Kelvin cryo-bins, most of the original Earth-tec had become non-functional objects d'art, venerated but not actually able to do anything. (Most - some still function, but for how long?)

And the human mutations? It implies mutated children from human parents who could breed true, but where is the history of that? There was one piece written about Mayatrish, a venerated mother who bore the first Boccord (that must have hurt - spontaneous episiotomy) and her husband thought she was cheating on him. Afterall, "he" couldn't be the father of such a monster.

Which opened other problems I don't teen aged boys (or girls) are qualified to answer. What is the difference between a half-Boccord, big Human, and a puny Boccord? (A half-Boccord, big Human, and a puny Boccord walk into a shenter...) No human teenager wanted the weight of Boccord breasts on the top of his head?

Interbreeding. Wouldn't there be half-human, half-woffen running around - and maybe running really fast because of angry townfolk with pitchforks and torches. Can Iscin races interbreed? With humans? A family tree with a Boccord grandfather, a crugar grandmother, a Broth grandfather and a blount grandmother?

They had, thankfully, just implied that such interbreeding had already played thru and there were were none of those interbreeds factored into the write up. But if they are sterile to each other, wouldn't that open the door to some bizarre prostitution practices?

Prostitution was hinted at but never openly described. Thankfully.

I am grateful for that omission. Very grateful.

Friday, May 12, 2017

My God, It's Full of Stars

My introduction to Jorune came as I was getting my introduction to Gaming.

So many games. Many were rips of Tolkein or the magic world of Jack Vance. But some were not. Some were original, and when I opened the Jorune box...

I was playing with people familiar with the traditional, established games. They were used to dwarves and elves and trolls and fairies and such, but never asked about how so many races could exist without one killing the others off - as would happen in a real population of species.

Humans can't even keep peace with their own population. We keep trying to kill each other off for farmland, or cattle, or a flag, or a book, or because he looked at your woman wrong...

Nope. Won't go there.

From my first reading of the books from the boxed set, I knew there was something different. There was a reason all of these races existed on the same world. Some of the reasons were silly - dog men and cat girls and bear guys so the furverts would stay thrilled. Every other game and animal guys - fantasy or science fiction. So - why not? And ray guns, sure. And monsters. Jorune had monsters. Lot's of 'em. Impressive damn things you wouldn't want to meet - ever.

Bit this was different. Not everyone was a human in a funny suit, or with seashells glued to his head (like Babylon 5), or arbitrary changes to a basically human face (like Star Trek or Star Wars). Some were alien, not just in deviance from human forms, but in attitude. Thriddle (shown above) seemed to value information above everything else. Corastin preferred to be paid in LOTS of the smallest value coins, but were not stupid. And the Shantha - the natives to Jorune - what the hell did they think anyway? Seriously. Who could tell?

3,500 hundred years of history. Entire races had vanished. There were hints to cultures that may have existed and since fallen. There was one human culture that had remained for 3,500 years - not unlike our understanding of Egypt with all its changes and dynasties - but why had they not progressed? There were upstarts, like the nation of Burdoth with a sudden influx of retrieved, functional technology from the ancient Earth colonies, and Heridoth, which had been on the rise before they were eclipsed by neighboring Burdoth's rise. There were the distant Khodres around the great lake with roots in all three, but developing its own identity. And beyond, to the north was the human realm of Jasp, comfortable and smug in their isolation and elevating human culture through reverence of education and sophisticated interactions with other nations.

And that was just the "Human" realms, though most were mixed with Muadra and Boccord mutations.

There was the massive land area of Temauntro, controlled by the Crugar, fierce warriors and savage defenders of their homeland, who had not done a damn thing with it in three thousand years. Wide and ripe for exploitation, if that could easily become the focus of one of the rising cultures.

The Bronth - bear guys - had established themselves in a northern coastal region but relinquished that place for a new home to the east, on another continent. They became Crendodor, and Yobreh. Their old home, the Ros Crendor, became the nation of the newly mutated Boccord.

Woffen - tweaked from wolf genetic models - had two lands that had once been connected by warp; Anasan and Lundere. But that warp collapsed, lost contact with each other for hundreds of generations. They had only recently rediscovered each other.

The fear inspiring Ramian called the Volligire their home, but were frequently seen in different wild lands for their own mysterious - and threatening - purposes. Many have been found living peacefully with other races in the region around Drail, and Jasp, and the Hobeh.
The Cleash, monstrous beetles who could manufacture their weapons from their own bodies with a perversion of their own eggs, had no home but could be found in the Glounda Forest of Burdoth, the East and Western Trinnu Jungle Lands, Hobeh, and Drail, but must of all in the frozen wastes of Gilthaw. But why would Cleash dominate a land of cold and ice? And their servant race, the Scarmis – wth? And Scarmis could be found without Cleash and were found to be good neighbors and excellent pest hunters.

And the Thriddle. And the Tologra, and the homeless Blount and Muadra. The Acubon led lives of isolation in the eastern region of the Great Lake, but their brethren Salu seemed content to ply the seas in their open ships without the need for a flag or a place to grow crops.

All of this woven in a mix of the mysterious "Isho" and revived technology from the abandoned Earth Colonies and the alien flesh around creatures with culture but reputation for killing without warning.

And I loved all of it. It was a rich tapestry with a founding in science and technology and history and culture and ... vision. It was a world where things could happen. Soon.

And I was home.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Opening the Box

I will never forget the first time I saw Skyrealms of Jorune after getting home from Gamescape.

Mostly 2nd Edition, 3rd Edition in upper right. (Not my picture)
The original game was with three books (Sholari, Player, and Tauther Guides) and a fourth with a very different graphic desing, the module Kolovashondra. This box had the two primary supplements - Companion: Ardoth and Companion: Burdoth. I am a designer and these were beautifully designed and had one of my favorite techniques - black ink plus one color ink for each volume. The black was deep and saturated, not waters as many printers allow with their ink blankets - printed by someone who cared. The colors were not garish, but subdued. Like the box itself, the interior books had the feel of heritage to it. It felt like tradition.

I had seen other role playing game materials. There is a game with a similar flavor of unique alient splendor - Empire of the Petal Throne. Dungeons and Dragons had a firm stranglehold on the whole role playing market, but there was good competition with games like Traveller, Cyberpunk 2020, and Vampire. There were hundreds of little games put together by a few people with passion – dubbed "kitchen table publishers". The sudden advent of desktop publishing programs for home computers allowed anyone with the patience to put together a book, and prices were resaonable for publishing print runs as small as 2,000.

But the art for these games was erratic. There were some schooled artist, but for every properly executed fantasy masterpiece, there were fifty crappy comic book style illustrations that reeked of someone's high school three ring binder. Sometimes they were even published with the lined notebook paper showing.

They ranged from craftsmanlike to scribbles.

Jorune was different.  Miles Teves (TEH-ves) art was amazing. He specialized in graphite in those days and did in depth scenes of the different races interacting with the planet and it's varied flora and fauna. He lived up to the story of the game with a powerful talent built on classical European art.

His art supported the background. Jorune would have died without his blossoming eye and hand. He went on to design for films, carrying his Jorune legacy with him and building on that foundation. He carried thriddle into the joyriding alien kids in Explorers, the Ramian appered as aliens in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, his Earth-tec designs ruled the cult comedy Galaxy Quest, and I still think the Shantha were his source for the aliens in A.I.. He made a mark with his fat suits for Thinner and Big Momma's House, his gritty designs for Amistad and Shindler's List. I could give a whole entry on him, but he has provided a great gallery at Go there and run barefoot through his artwork!

The the pull of Jorune was not the cool graphics. It was the depth of the world.

Fantasy worlds never explained how so many races could be around at the same time. Jorune explained it and gave the world a special flavor. There was the native race, the Shantha, who had their own social structure, and history. They also had a technology based on a natural energy ocurring in Jorune - "Isho". They used isho to light their way, to levitate targets of their projects in the same way whole mountains were levitated over the surface - the "skyrealms" of the title. They healed. They built. And they could open warps to pass from one location to a mated destination elsewhere on the planet. Isho was the most obvious feature of Jorune and made it unlike any other plante.

Jorune had been invaded a thousand years before humans arrived and the would-be conquerors left their slave- and partner- races behind (Cleash and their servant Scarmis, Ramian, Thriddle, Corastin, Croid and a number of animals that provided them with labor or meat). Humans arrived and established colonies in terrirtories negotiation with the native Shantha.
Sholari James compares the size of races, human in the middle.
But Earth stopped all contact. We never found out what happened to our home world. The humans stranded on Jorune split into two camps - those who wanted to live peacefully with the Shantha, and those who had the fine old human motto - "Let's take their land." Humans moved into lands that had been forbidden them, and a war followed. Humans under the command of Karl Bomoveris engineered a virus to attack and kill Shantha and had started spreading it when Shantha came under the control of the war-maker ca-Desti masters of Red Isho to launch an extermination attack on the "hoomanzi", as they called us. There was an uncontrolled interaction between Human technology (probably atomic energy) and the war use of Isho.

Almost all intelligent life on the planet was wiped and. It was The Shyee - the Shanthic term for "The Dying Times".

A human scientist, Theodore Iscin, feared he might be the last human at his remote research station in the Gauss Valley, and he engineers whole new races from the expressed atavar genes of humans, creating races that resembled amphibian, canines, feline, and ursine traits build on basic human forms, creating more races to populate Jorune. These were (with their Terran sources) the Blount (amphibian), Woffen (wolves), Cygra and Cougar (varieties of cougars), Bronth (bears), and Tologra (lions). More races for the world and the game.

A small established human colony in what is now called Thantier flourished for the first thousand years, and the Shantha were seen so little it was suggested they had died off. But the alien races also wanted whatever they could get from Jorune and a more traditional war raged between the humans of Thantier and the Cleash, with their hordes of Scarmis, plus whole fleets of Ramian who attacked for the sheer pleasure of killing. Within Thantier factions jockeyed for position and power, while small human cultures developed in remote sections of the planet. They enjoyed the benefit of the last known caches of Earth-tec from the Colony, but were hard pressed to win their war against the Cleash from within their seige towers.

But during the time Thantier fought to stay alive, Jorune entered an "Age of Monsters" – mutations of all the races that rose and then vanished. But some muations survived and were around to this day. This gave the world human mutations, like the isho-using Muadra, the heavily muscled Boccord, the aquatic races - the fresh water Acubon and salt water Salu, and the blue skinned, primitive Trarch. Many other races are known to have existed but are unknown in the world as it stands. (Pocket populations might still exist, but that's for game masters to decide.) From the Ramian came the docile, craft oriented, and horned Thivin, who were only known to the larger world a few generations ago.

And the game begins 3,500 years after the Shyee.

And that's where the story began.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The First Blush

I first discovered Skyrealms of Jorune, the role playing game, in 1992. It was the Second Edition boxed set and I was drawn in by the incredible artwork of Miles Teves. It took a while for me to warm to the world itself, but after a short time, I was home. They slug line of "Leave Your World Behind" drew men. Yes. Jorune, take me away.

It wasn't my first world. In addition to Earth I have been an inhabitant of Barsoom and Tchai, but Jorune quickly joined that pantheon and slowly began to dominate.

At the age of 42 I was finally involved in my first Role Playing Games. I had tried a decade earlier when I bought a full boxed set of Traveller's first edition. It was at a hobby shop in North Hollywood and the guy behind the country had no idea what is was, how to play, or anything else. So I left the shop with the boxed set, sure that I could read the instructions and figure it out.

I read the books, followed the instructions, and tried to generate my first character. The problem was that in the first edition Traveller rules was a random roll where the character died during generation. And my first chraacter died. And my second character. I started giving it a different first name and within. couple of weeks I had a whole family tree of characters who had died during generation.

At about that point my roommate's boyfriend was about to go to his post overseas and asked to borrow the books to see how the game was. He had played Dungeons & Dragons and knew a bit about gaming. So I loaned him the box set - and he was gone. Never saw him again. Never saw my Traveller again, and since generating people who didn't survive to have an adventure made me lose interest.

One of my passions, then and now, is radio theater. From 1972 to 1982 I did hundreds of radio shows, and several dozen were fully produced scripted productions like the old time radio shows. We thought we were going to revive the format across America with new productions. CBS Radio Mystery Theater came on the air and we were sure we were riding the wave. At the same time some of my actors wanted me to do some stage scripts for a local small theater (Deja Vu Coffeehouse Theater) and I did. My love of radio remained, but my actions were more toward stage and trying to break into "Hollywood".

It was during this small theater and Hollywood phase that I found the Traveller boxed set.

Over the next ten years I left L.A. and moved to Phoenix, lost everything in Phoenix and went back to L.A., and from there was invited up to San Francisco/Berkeley to direct some stage productions. I went and found a small studio and group of actors who were interested in starting a new radio project, science fiction, called FREE SPACE. I did what I had always done with radio series - I wrote a bible with background and information for the actors and - hopefully - additional writers.

About that time I was having lunch at a Burger King and the local manager was a friendly kid from Texas, and I like friendly kids so he came over to sit with me while I ate. We talked, I told him about Free Space and showed him the little backgrounder. He said, "Have you ever played role playing games?" And i explained about the dead family tree from Traveller.

"Didn't the GM help you?" I had no idea what a GM was and had never gotten so far as a group. I thought I was supposed to generate a character and find a group to play that role. Like improv theater of some kind. I wasn't sure how to find a group, but he said, "You'll loving gaming."

He moved in with me and put a notice up at the local gaming shop, and the first player to show up was someone who has become a serious part of my life for more than 25 years. Rich Eide. My brother from another mother.

Rich ran the first game I sat through. Runequest. My character development was deeper than he was used to. But we played. And added a couple more players. Then we played some other settings and systems and I got enthused.

That was when I went to GameScape in San Francisco and looked through the huge collection used role playing games.

And on one of the shelves was a dark box, shrink wrapped. I bought it. It had the Player's Guide, the Sholari's Guide, the Tauther's Guide, Kolovishondra, Companion: Ardoth, Companion: Burdoth and the two errata that were published for the game, with character sheets for both systems.

And that was one hell of a 'Hello'.