Friday, December 4, 2015

Story Seed - Death's Door

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I was at death's door.

Hell, I was knocking with one hand, and picking the lock with the other.

Exposure is a bitch. I was so cold. My heart was going off like a spastic snare drum. I couldn't place why all this was happening. Memory issues are part and parcel with the worst of hypothermia. You could say I was in bad shape.


I still don't recall what happened to me. How I ended up out in that valley. Cold. Alone. Dying. The strangers showed out of the icy mists like some kind of apparition. It was like they stepped out of some forgotten hamlet. An oil lantern, a crooked staff, homespun clothing, even handmade shoes. I was too out of it to appreciate it all at the time.

They came and helped me up. I asked them to get me someplace warm. Ha, I was a fool. They just shook their heads sadly. I raged at them. I swore and fumed and finally I realized ...

... death is but a door.

So, I closed the door behind me; it seemed the polite thing to do.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Nuts & Bolts #56 - The Language of Wales

OK, no, not really, but it makes me chuckle.

You'll notice of course that I spelled Wales without an "H" and that is because I mean the country Wales and thus the language of Welsh. Welsh is ... kinda weird compared to English. The phonetics are just way different and as a result the written language can look really foreign.

Which makes Welsh my go to for alien and/or fantasy languages.

Take for example something you might hear on a derelict alien space craft:
Warning! Hull breach imminent!
Pretty standard fare for a craft that is unstable and starting to fall apart with the players on board. Saying that in English will be kinda boring though, and just saying that an alien voice is saying something while klaxons run is likewise less than awesome. But run that same statement through Google Translate from English to Welsh and you get:
Rhybudd! Torri Hull ar fin digwydd!
Another example:
Intruders on main deck!
Looks like:
Tresmaswyr ar brif dec!
You get the idea, and you can easily play with the Translate tool as well. Your pronunciation of these Welsh words will likely vary versus my own, and most certainly will be inaccurate to the proper Welsh pronunciation, but no matter how you say it it'll sound very different from anything else, and it may well be conveying any number of things that the players could be worried about.

I don't know if a native speaker of Welsh would find the translation accurate, and really that's not important either ... unless you have a native Welsh speaker in your gaming group, in which case you probably want to use a different language ... because that is the point. The idea is to convey alien/foreign languages in the best way possible with the tools you have available. Google Translate isn't a perfect tool for actual translations, though it'll get you close 99% of the time, but that doesn't diminish its utility to game masters.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Story Seed - Search

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The commander's heavy footfalls echoed off the steel flooring of the deck. The ship was quiet, late during the third duty shift with only a skeleton crew running essential systems. "Computer, bring up the main sensor array and scan the system's fourth planet."

A chirp  from the computer was followed by the rising hum of computer- and holo-systems powering up. The main holographic display came to life, starting with a pin prick of light that expanded, growing into a translucent sphere of glowing light that resolved into the system's fourth planet. The world was a watery one, over 90% of the surface covered by a vast ocean, and as a result the difference between the initial low-resolution projection and the high resolution updates were negligible. The sensors highlighted a handful of small archipelagos and one slightly larger landmass that was little more than an island a few dozen miles across. "Scan complete. Ninety eight percent accuracy in cartographic projection."

The commander frowned, but knew that 98% was the best he would get from a scan over ten AU distance out. "Enhance primary landmass, maximum resolution." The simulation exploded as the sensors performed a narrow beam scan of the largest island, rending it up on the display as a horizontal sand table with full elevation. "Projected accuracy?"

"Eighty seven percent."

"Adjust scans to full EM and overlay," the commander said aloud. "It's gotta be there," he added under his breath as the scan commenced and the display began to update. "Come on Max, you have to have survived."