Sebastien Sinclair Dalin

Sebastien Sinclair Dalin

Thursday, 17 January 2019 03:13

Guardians Rising [Time Storm]

 

A young Miosi woman wandered through the streets of Velrivel. Her clothes appeared worn, as though she had been traveling. She wore a light hood, made out of cheap, non-dyed wool. She kept it drawn up close to her. As she wandered she turned her head looking around in amazement. She flipped her head around at a clatter on the flagstone road behind her. The street was busy, but no one had followed her down the alleyway she had taken.

“Just the wind or a pebble, probably,” she sighed in relief. She continued down the alleyway, squinting at all the signs as she went. She drew out a scratch piece of paper from beneath the tattered cloak. “What place was it? Naiel’s House of Wisdom? Urivie Alley?” She looked at the next street sign and recognized the name. She turned and headed down Urivie Alley. She saw a dirty shop at the end of the street and headed towards the sign to see if it was the place she needed to be. A Shadow passed above her, as though someone was watching her from the rooftops. She tilted her head up and squinted. She tried to find where the shadow had come from. She had no such luck. Anara continued down the alleyway, her goal in sight. She entered the shop.

The shop keeper looked up from his dusty tome and spoke in monotone Miosi “Welcome to Naiel’s House of Wisdom. What can I help you with?”

Anara removed her hood to reveal a beautiful face, radiating heavenly light with its fairness. Her skin had a silver sheen to it, which the shop keeper, Naiel promptly noticed. Her hair was also dark, like a Raven’s. Naiel sat straight up and spoke once more, “What is your name mi’lady.”

“Anara” she replied in a forced Miosi accent.

“What can I help you find Lady Anara?”

“I come from the city of Naerin, seeking a particular bit of knowledge and perhaps some guidance.”

Naiel came out from behind the desk. He hobbled over to Anara and brought her a lopsided stool to sit on. Even at his full hight he was dwarfed by Anara sitting down. He brought out a second stool for himself to sit on, and he spoke to her. “My dear lady, ask me any question, and we can find the answer together.” He tilted his head to disguise the lopsided face he wore.

“What do you know about other worlds?” Anara asked carefully.

“I know they are theorized to exist, but no one has ever been able to prove that claim,” Naiel said calmly.

“Is it possible to travel between worlds?” Anara hesitated, and then added “Hypothetically of course.”

Naiel looked somewhat exasperated, but replied in a kind tone nonetheless “I mean, if other worlds exist, and there was a way to get a vessel to cross the great distances of the unknown, sure.”

“Well, what about the Void? Couldn’t one use that to travel in between all the worlds?”

“First off, the Void is more mysterious than even I dare seek answers to.” His voice seemed to rise as he spoke, “second, No one even knows if the Void is survivable.” Naiel inhaled, “Third: even if someone understood the Void, and knew how to survive in it; they would still have to figure out how to control when and where they would even have access to it.”

“So it is possible?” Anara encouraged

Naiel was starting to get upset with her questions, as he spoke in a rude tone, “Did you not hear a word I just said?” His face turned beat red as he backpedaled, sighed, and then spoke in a muted tone, “It is theoretically possible, but no one has knowledge of any real substance on the matter.”

“I have another question sir,” Anara said, her accent slipping slightly.

Naiel became noticeably irritated at these words. Through gritted teeth he spoke, “Yes, mi’lady, what is your question?”

“What do you know about the Guardians?”

“My dear, surely you don’t need me to tell about the Guardians, all Miosi learn about them during their tutoring at the temples. I helped the Imperiarchs to design the current system.” Naiel raised his eyebrows in suspicion.

“I wasn’t raised in Miosi lands,” Anara began, still forcing an accent. “My parents fled during the War.”

“Ah, I see,” Naiel replied, thoroughly unconvinced. “Well, repetition is a great teacher.” He chuckled to himself. “No one can agree about what exactly the Guardians are, or where they came from, or have gone. But, even the most skeptical of scholars agree that they first appeared to us long ago when the Rivel Empire was at its height. It was a brutal Battle fought just outside the gates of Mios, the remains of the great Tyrant Rivelion Imperio Daevus Dragus Imperius IX and his army of great beasts can still be seen from the great towers of the Imperial Capital. The Guardians arrived at our ancestors’ direst time of need. They were able to slay the Rivel Emperor, his beasts, and all but one of the Imperiarchs.” Naiel paused, clearing his throat.

“What happened next?” Anara asked.

Naiel coughed and then sharply retorted, “Hold up there little lady, I needed to take a pause to clear my throat, don’t interrupt. Now, after the Battle of the Guardians, the accounts vary. Some legends say that they then organized our nation’s structure and blessed the line of Iesiah the Great to rule over our people. Others say that Iesiah was the one who slew the Imperiarch Evren and was anointed Emperor by the will of the people. Most accounts do agree that the Guardians did not stay long this time, just long enough overthrow the Rivel Empire.”

Naiel coughed again, and then after clearing his throat spoke some more, “The next time the Guardians came to our aide is debated by all the scholars. I say that every account has merit, even if only to increase the legends surrounding our great protectors. But, the next time we have evidence of them helping us is during the wars in the Expansion era. There were elvish strongholds all across the Imperial Forest and up and down the Imperial Roads, and they were receiving support from the Amahlese. Accounts indicate that during a fierce storm one of our caravans carrying supplies for the people Bourivel was destroyed and many of the men lost, but the Guardians arrived and led the men to the city and lifted up a great cart full of supplies.”

“So the Guardians only protect the children of the Miosi?”

“Not at all my dear, you see, the Denthesians also see their protection. The Guardians protect all the righteous people, even if they don’t recognize it.”

“Have there been any recent appearances of the Guardians?”

Naiel laughed a little bit, “The Guardians haven’t appeared in living memory of the Miosi; only an elf would be able to remember.”

Anara looked disappointed, “Thank you for answering my questions wise master.”

Naiel sat up taller, “It was no problem mi’lady, truth be told I haven’t had many people come to me for answers, at least not since I retired from the Emperor’s service.”

“You worked for the Emperor?”

“Yes, now no more questions or I’ll start charging you!”

Anara stood stiffly at this remark. She reached into her beat up cloak and withdrew a purse. “I have 10 Seraphs for your patience wise master.” She slid the pouch into his hand and then spun around. “I really do appreciate all you have done, take care now.”

“Thank you sweet lady, come visit me anytime,” Naiel winked at her as she departed from the store.

Anara stepped down, strolling back through the alleyway. She pulled up her hood as she rounded a corner onto a busy foot-path. Muttering to herself in a strange tongue she went on and on about the information she had discovered. She paid no attention to the man watching her as she crossed the square in the Market District of the great city. The man also kept his face hidden from view. He was average build, a bit short for a Miosi, more human. His beige skin showed at his hands. He smiled and kept watching Anara from the distance. He shook his head when she ran into someone while muttering to herself.

“Raelius,” a Stranger Called.

The man with beige skin turned to address the stranger, “Ah, Vincent glad to see you.”

Vincent, a large military looking man with scars to prove his long service strode over to stand near Raelius. His skin was pale compared to Raelius’s, but not ivory or porcelain. With a giant shovel-like hand he passed Raelius a drink with bits of fruit hanging off of the side. In his other hand, he carried a similar drink for himself.

“Something interesting?” Vincent asked his voice gruff and worn.

“Yes,” Raelius replied his voice smooth and baritone, “I think I found another one of us.”

“Another foreigner?”

“Yes, another off-worlder.”

“Is she one of us?” Vincent asked.

“Not yet, not by the looks of her.” Raelius said, almost talking to himself, “She seems like she is still lost and confused.”

“What will we do?”

“Wait and watch, see what she does.” Raelius trailed off, “If she is an off-worlder we will need to bring her back to the island, you know?”

“Yes, Raelius, I know.” Vincent said patting Raelius on the shoulder, as he took a sip from his cup “For her sake, I hope she is just a regular foreigner and not one of the ones we are looking for.”

Vincent turned from where Raelius stood. Raelius was still watching over Anara as she disappeared into the crowd. Raelius drained his cup, sighed while passing it back to Vincent. He stepped down from the raised platform and began to silently follow Anara as she wandered the city. He tracked her effortlessly, she made little effort to conceal her destination and put less thought into being cautious. As they went along her path, his thoughts began to wander just as Anara’s footsteps. He thought back to when he first was taken to the island. Pain and misery flooded his emotions as he remembers the agony he was put through in order to become what he was. The tracking sensor he set up went off, bringing an alert to the forefront of his mind. Anara had gone into the great library. Great, she might be in there for hours or even days. Raelius thought, well at least I have a lot of spare time.

After adjusting something on his wrist a great glowing dial appeared in front of him with all kinds of strange markings on the face of it. It resembled a strange clock, although blue and almost ethereal looking. He tapped on some of the strange energy like surface. Raelius’s surroundings began to spin with a couple clicks and a burst of electricity. And then suddenly, the lights and swirling world stopped, revealing the great library, but it was dusk and the street-lamps were being lit. Raelius seemed un-phased by the sudden change in lighting, instead opting to look around for Anara’s distinctive strut across the courtyard. After a few minutes of taking in the night air a tattered cloak flowed behind a feminine figure as she departed the library and went down the steps. Raelius walked over to her.

As Raelius approached the long sweeping steps up the library he saw Anara turn around, peeking over her shoulder only to bump into him. She whirled on the ball of her foot to face him.

“You would think tracking a foreigner would be easy. It was even easier than I thought,” said Raelius in Miosi.

Anara replied in Miosi “I am no foreigner, I am from the city Naerin and this is my first time in Velrivel.”

“Oh good, you already speak the language” Raelius said in different, yet familiar tongue to Anara “This will make things easier.

“I don’t know what you are talking about.”

“You understand me, I know you do.”

“I understand the words, but not what you are saying.”

“Going around town asking about traveling between worlds is a good way to attract attention to oneself, especially, if one is not from this world.” Raelius spoke in a gentle tone, attempting to smooth things over.

Anara cursed, “That old man, Naiel, he ratted on me didn’t he?”

“Oh no. Of course not. Naiel is too senile to remember anyone who comes through his shop. His memory on other topics is remarkably un-phased by his advanced age. No, we have been watching you for a while.”

Anara looked visibly upset and unnerved by this revelation, “You have been following me all this time!” She screeched, “How dare you!”

“Now, now,” Raelius interjected, “you do not want to make a scene dear one. We are not here to harm you, we want you to succeed.”

“We?”

“Ah, yes. I forgot to mention my associate, he isn’t nearby at the moment, but you need not worry, he is an upstanding man who has seen a lot of harm come to young people at the hands of others. He doesn’t want anyone else to get hurt. His name is Vincent de Valeaux, although I suspect you may know him as Veisze Valeaux du Praetor.”

“What did you say?” Anara snapped back in the language Raelius spoke in.

“Veisze the Praetor, my dear. Have you heard of him?”

“How do you know him?”

“He arrived shortly after myself on this strange world, just like yourself. Ah, what is your name my dear?”

“I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours!” Anara grumbled back.

“Oh, yes, how rude of me I completely forgot my manners; you’ll have to forgive me. My name is Raphael, although many people here call me Raelius as they can never get my proper name right.”

“Alright then, Raelius, my name is Anara.”

“How wonderful,” Raelius remarked, “It is time I take you to the island.”

“Where’s that?”

“When.”

“What, I asked Where?” Anara said grumpily.

“You know if you keep up your impertinence you may never find the answers to the questions you have.”

“How do you know what questions I have?”

“My point exactly,” Raelius replied.

“Harumph!” Anara exclaimed. “I’ll wait right here until you answer my questions.”

Raelius used his eye scanner to detect if Anara was likely to accept the answers here or he was better off leaving her behind until she cooled her jets. After a few moments he sighed and spoke, “Your first question, where? It is not a matter of distance, but of time. The correct question is when. For your second, I have no clue what answers you seek, but I know that you have questions. I also know we can find the answer in the place I am going to take you. Are you satisfied?”

“Not really, no.”

Raelius responded with silence.

“But, I’ll accept it for the moment.” Anara added.

“Very well,” Raelius said stiffly, “You’d best get ready.

Raelius twisted the device on his wrist again and the great ethereal clock-like device appeared before him again, this time with even more strange markings on it. As he fiddled with the display Anara stared in shock. Raelius held up his hand to silence her before she got out any sort of exclamation. He tapped on a different space on the dial, seizing Anara’s hand, and all the buildings began to blur. As their surroundings whooshed past the two of them a burst of electricity shot out from the device and jolted them away, leaving the steps of the library empty. The only sign of movement on the entire street were small particles of dust floating down from the air. The dust settled, and the courtyard was still.

 

Saturday, 22 December 2018 03:48

A Return to Dragon Age [Review]

 

Introduction

     Recently at the 2018 Game Awards they revealed a trailer for a new Dragon Age- along with the hashtag #TheDreadWolfRises [1]- which re-sparked my interest in the series. I had basically dropped BioWare games entirely after 2017’s abysmal entry to a different BioWare series, Mass Effect Andromeda. When I did play through the Original Mass Effect last year, it only rubbed salt into the wounds left by that awful game. But due to the recent announcement, I decided I would retry BioWare’s Dragon Age: Inquisition. A game I had not picked up in four years.

     I had fun with my experience, getting to experience the parts I enjoyed again, but, as I progressed through the first act of the game, all of the terrible bits also became increasingly clear to me.  After playing for several hours and enjoying several play sessions I tried to take a look at my old review. I had written of Dragon Age: Inquisition right after it came out. I could not find it, but I do recall some of what I said. And currently I do not agree with everything I said. The six main points I will be focusing on include Setting, Plot, and Quests; Characters; Graphics; Soundtrack and Score; Gameplay and Mechanics; and Controls. Oh and a fair warning - Spoilers Ahead.

 

I. Setting, Plot, and Quests

     The Dragon Age Setting, or Thedas, as the writers call it (Yes it an acronym) can be briefly summed up as a Dark Fantasy World. In Thedas there are Demons and all sorts of foul creatures. Magic is dangerous, and Mages are treated as second-class citizens. The Chantry (Church) is overbearing and often corrupt. I like this setting; I have played the first and second entries into the series a few times each. This is an interesting setting. The plot on the other hand is where this category is going to lose out on some points.

     The Mage-Templar War is set up during the climax of Dragon Age II, and has come to a head during the opening of Inquisition. The game opens with a massive explosion, making you the sole survivor of a tragic event. The Prologue is actually fairly paced and offers much In terms of story value. The first act sets up everything it should, your motivation, the big bad, taking a side in the war, fighting the war. This offers great progression in terms of Characters and Story. The Quests here feel big, you are trying to acquire materials to essentially assist one side in a war. The “fetch” quests here serve a purpose which is not typical of the Open-World RPG. Each mission you take on helps move the plot as all the companion characters are gathered together by the end of the first act. The characters you interact with grow as you help them with their personal journey and take time to get to know them and their motivations.

     Then act one finishes, and the game immediately takes a nose dive in coherency and overall is a big letdown. The Mage-Templar war, which has been hyped up the entirety of two games ends at the first act’s climax. The “big bad” they set up was really not that big of a deal, as there is a bigger badder baddie to deal with that comes out of nowhere during the second act. The second act is inherently worse than the first act. The story becomes disjointed, wandering from large open world area to the next, to the next, with no real reason to do any of it, no satisfying motivation for your protagonist, (none of it). The Quests become nothing more than chores that are a slog and a grind to get through. I find myself having to force myself to play the game so I could get further in it, even if I didn’t want to.   

     Although the real icing on the cake is that there was an entire section, an entire questline that was gutted from the game. A section Bioware was all too eager to show off during E3 and other conventions. In this quest line, you would have to choose to either save an entire village, allowing your stronghold to get captured, ultimately sacrificing your soldiers, or protecting the stronghold and sacrificing the village.  The village would have side quests, merchants and a whole bunch of content for you to experience, should you choose to save it. The village is gone. That whole section was reduced to securing your hold on the region and investigating the fate of the village. This was a total let down. This is an adept description for the entirety of the second act.

     The bigger badder baddie at the end of the game was revealed to be a character that you had already dealt with in the previous game, Corypheus. Honestly, the reveal is major letdown and the fight against him was as well (according to watching gameplay videos, as I never finished the game). Another reveal is then made that one of your companions, Solas, is actually an Elvhen (ancient Elvish) Deity by the name of Fen’Harel the Dread Wolf, a god of Trickery. He was the one who caused all the mess of the game’s intro to happen in the first place. I actually found this revelation about Solas to be pretty awesome; but it is a bummer that so much “meh” surrounds the reveal that it gets lost.

     Dragon Age: Inquisition earns high marks for its stellar opening, excellent first act, and tremendous setting. Its second act drops it down to only average marks with a -1 penalty for inconsistent storytelling, and a -1 penalty for cut content shown at a convention. It does earn a +1 Bonus for setting and World Development.

 

collection of Dragon Age themed tarot cards

 

II. Characters

     The characters in this game are (with a few exceptions) pretty memorable, many of them have depth and are well written. Varric makes a return from Dragon Age II and along with his crossbow Bianca to join your crew. Varric’s witty banter and exaggerated stories make him a personal favorite for me. Iron Bull is probably the best written of the crew. Each of the party members (with 3 exceptions) is a compelling character. They have their own motivations, thoughts, and quirks and their personality makes you want to help them along with their own goals.

     Take Cassandra for example, she has a deep hidden love for the stories written by Varric, even though she and Varric butt heads all the time. Her favorite series of his is an erotic novel series, featuring a character from a previous Dragon Age game. She asks you to secretly convince Varric to finish the final entry in the series. Varric takes the opportunity to really tease her about her reading habits. It is an extremely awesome scene and I loved every second of it. I died with laughter and marveled at the chemistry the crew has because of these interludes.

     The Character line-up is probably the strongest part of Inquisition. There are So many relate-able Characters and because of the depth of each one you wouldn’t mind taking a whole side mission just to help one of them find something or other whether it be equipment, artifacts, secrets, etc. This earns Dragon Age: Inquisition high marks with a +1 Bonus for Character Interaction.

 

III. Graphics

     Dragon Age: Inquisition has a highly stylized art style that I personally find very enjoyable and pleasant. It has aged reasonably well the past four years. However, there is an abundance of animation glitches and several of the characters (Josephine and Cassandra in particular) have weird facial animations. Overall, the facial animations are fairly lackluster at best and below par at worst. The environment is probably where most of the attention went to, as it is beautiful and colorful. This is a stark contrast to the tone of the series, but it complements the game instead of detracting from it. This is a commendable achievement.

     Performance-wise, it does make my computer run pretty hot, but seeing as my Computer is over 5 years old that is not a surprise. However, at the time of release, many people did complain about performance optimization as it came to playing the game on PC. Its performance was rough on my computer at release, even if I ran at medium graphics settings (I have a laptop, and not a gaming rig). By contrast it did run Dragon Age II and Mass Effect 3 on High to Ultra settings with little effort. With all this taken into account, Dragon Age: Inquisition earns above average marks. It also earns a +1 for stylization. Dragon Age: Inquisition takes a -1 penalty for its lackluster facial animation and for its performance.

 

IV. Soundtrack and Score

     The Soundtrack of Dragon Age: Inquisition is amazing. Trevor Morris is a Genius. Honestly, it is probably the most enjoyable portion of the game. I could not help but hum along or dance with my feet as I was playing the game concentrating on boss fights, crafting loot and doing various other things. Inon Zur is the composer that had worked with Dragon Age in the past, and as much as I loved his work, Inquisition probably has the best soundtrack as a whole with very few notable exceptions from the previous titles. Even the ambiance noises and other environmental features are beautiful to listen to. This is real reason to buy the Digital Deluxe Edition; the other content is kind of irrelevant. I love the Soundtrack and commonly play it as music to listen to around the house. Trevor Morris brings home extremely high marks to the Dragon Age team for his musical genius.

 

V. Gameplay and Mechanics

     Dragon Age: Inquisition feels light on the actual RPG mechanics that put the series on the map to begin with. Gone are skill points and several of the specializations that the Series is known for including the Blood Mage, Bard, Assassin, and even the Spirit Healer. Instead of the four specialization choices for each class that Origins and II had, Inquisition only has three (The Awakening Expansion had 6). The Spirit Healer was my jam in the first game. It really sucks that the Mages in Inquisition have been relegated to a DPS role exclusively. In fact there is no way to heal your party outside of using Health potions- which have been mapped to the “9” slot on your hotbar. Slots 1-8 are the only slots you have for abilities which feels very limiting. “0,-, and =” have all been assigned other uses as well. There are also less Armor slots (only Armor and Helmet) as opposed to Chest, Legs, Arms, and Helmet from the previous games. Skill Points have been removed and skills are now boosted through equipment and passive abilities you take when leveling up.

     The Tactical Camera makes a comeback in this installment. It is useless indoors (literally unusable) and basically useless outdoors (clunky, but usable). Even interacting with objects has been made more difficult by a combination of the controls and mechanics of the game. You have to be facing the exact proper angle in order to loot, something that should be a breeze in an RPG. To top it all off there is no area loot mechanic like in the two previous games/installments

     There is a nice addition to the newly revamped crafting system. It allows essentially full customization of your party’s equipment. Everything can be adjusted to your preference: from the color, to extra abilities, the type of damage, stats and more. The crafting system is pretty extensive. It is easily the best of the mechanics that have been changed from previous installments.

     Combat is pretty mediocre to be honest. Most of the encounters are uninspired and somewhat dull. The limited options for character progression and abilities make many encounters feel same-y. Really the only saving grace keeping the combat from being just like the rest is the tactical approach that essentially every boss fight has. The Dragon Fights are super cool and really well done. Being able to target the different parts of a Dragon is a neat change. You can focus of the wings or a leg to weaken the Dragon before bringing it down, Each Dragon Fight utilizes different tactics so that is nice.

     Nearly everything in Dragon Age: Inquisition has been “streamlined” which is another way of saying removed and striped out of a previously excellent RPG experience. The Limiting of Character Progression choices and combat bums me out. With the removal and simplification of mechanics Inquisition earns below average marks from me. The Crafting system is once again a nice touch, and does snag a +1 bonus.

VI. Controls

     The PC controls of Dragon Age: Inquisition are resoundingly mediocre. It is extremely obvious that it is port from consoles to PC, which is highly unfortunate. There are several mechanics that suffer from the poor controls., The most notable being the Tactical Camera. As previously mentioned, it is useless indoors as it is next to impossible to control properly. The camera gets stuck on everything from tiny rocks, to enemies, to even your own characters. The camera controls in this mode makes the Tactical Camera essentially useless as a mechanic. Some other mechanics that suffer are the Explorations, Combat and Quick Slots, and numerous other “RPG staples.”

     When I returned to the game I had hoped that the issues with the terrible controls would be addressed. They were not. The same awful control system present at launch was still in the game and was still just as atrocious. Dragon Age: Inquisition earns a below average mark with a -2 penalty for sheer dreadfulness in controls.

 

Close Angle shot of Iron Bull

 

VII. Conclusion

     With the #TheDreadWolfRises Trailer and a new Dragon Age announced, it is time to discuss how to improve upon the Dragon Age Formula and how to not make the same mistakes that were made with Inquisition (and DA2) again. First up: Focus on the strong points of Dragon Age. Spend more time writing characters, interactions, and enthralling story threads instead of trying to haphazardly implement multiplayer and “open world” content. If I wanted to play an Open World Game, I would play Witcher 3 or Final Fantasy XV instead of Dragon Age. Simply Focus on Characters and Stories. Second: Open up Character Progression and Hotbars (especially for PC). Limiting Character Progression in the way that Inquisition did felt like they were taking a step backwards. Open it up, put the Role-Playing back in the Role-Playing Game. Allowing players to have quick access to their abilities on a Hotbar (not limited to 8 Slots) would allow players to enjoy their experience in their own way - without artificially being forced to play a certain way. And Lastly: Make sure to make the Controls at least decent on every system the game is released. This should be a no-brainer.

And now for the Scoring:

  • Setting, Plot, and Quests. C+(2.9) Dragon Age: Inquisition takes a -1 penalty for the poor payoff plot wise, and a second one for cut story content. It does earn a +1 Bonus for its theme and setting.
  • Characters. A(3.7). DA:I brings home a +1 Bonus for its stellar Character Arcs.
  • Graphics. B(3.3). Inquisition earns a +1 bonus for stylization, but takes a -1 penalty for its technical issues.
  • Soundtrack and Score. A+(4.0). No bonuses or penalties awarded.
  • Gameplay and Mechanics. C-(2.6). With a +1 bonus for a neat Crafting System.
  • Controls. D(2.2). Dragon Age: Inquisition is penalized with a -2 for Tear Inducing Controls.
  • Totals. C(3.0). In the end Dragon Age: Inquisition is nothing more than an Average experience, in a Stellar series, from once excellent developers. As much as I struggled to enjoy my play through of this installment, I hope BioWare can turn things around before the Release of Dragon Age #TheDreadWolfRises.  
  1. Link to DreadWolf Trailer:
Monday, 20 November 2017 21:06

Races of Tergna Prima - Canthropes

 

Canthropes

[Pykanthrope – People of Spiritual Fire]

     A broad shouldered man stood with his sword in his right hand – a short simple blade, equally narrow along the entire blade and tapering to a fine point at the tip, all the while having a slight curve to the cutting edge. As he waves his other hand over the length of the sword it becomes lined with fire. He charges into the fray cutting down a few enemies before engaging into a duel. His opponent, a man of a tall slender build raised his sword to parry the strike. The broad shouldered man sent out a blast of flame from his left hand and left his opponent smoldering in the dirt. “That’ll teach you about messing with the Champion of the Lykausts!”

     A slim woman of an olive complexion wearing a slender graceful dress, made out of some kind of silk, began descending the staircase into the large hall before her. Lifting her dress so she could move comfortably without tripping she walked into the hall, and then stood at the door to the ballroom. Pausing to summon forth a little fire she was announced to the room, “The Lady Miradel, of the House Mynn.” The Crowd in the room turned to watch her enter, flames surrounding her in aura.

     Blasting fire from both hands, Pyren covered the group as they passed through the gauntlet. All these are examples of the Canthrope, or more properly the Pykanthrope. Hailing from the richly-fertile volcanic continent of Ignaval this race of fire-wielding spiritualists is a force to be reckoned with.

 

Appearance

     Humanoid-Elemental. The Average Canthrope has an olive skin tone, stands about 5’6”-6’1” and weighs roughly 120-180lbs, with females usually being a little lighter. That being said a more medium skin tone is also quite common, and some Canthropes can weigh more than this.

     Eye color varies depending on which region of Ignaval the individual comes from. Canthropes from the north more commonly have Violet, Orange, Yellow, and Blue colored eyes, and Canthropes from the East typically have Yellow, Brown, Green, Gray, Hazel, and Silver eyes. Whereas Canthropes from the South have Red, Black, Gray, Silver, and Hazel eyes; and the individuals from the Western portion of Ignaval have White, Silver, Green, Violet, and Orange eyes.

     Canthropes believe that tattoos can actually harm a person’s Spiritual Energy or “Aki.” Usually when a tattoo is used, it is for the purpose of marking known criminals and as punishments for dishonorable acts. In addition, piercings of any kind are believed to detract from the natural beauty of the individual and as such is frowned upon in Canthrope Society.

 

Culture

     Values of the Canthropes: Honor, Family, Faith, Piety, Order, Balance, CourageCanthrope culture is defined by its spiritual, honor-based, and family-centric society. Each of these aspects plays a key role in the life of every Canthrope, from the peasant farmer, to the Emperor himself. Because of their emphasis on honor, the worst crimes are those that bring dishonor to your family.

     The Age of majority is 17. Often times though, one is considered an adult at age 13 and would be considered eligible for certain responsibilities, such as ruling a nation or province with the aid of an advisor that has less power than the regent did during regency. Also at 13, all Canthropes, regardless of station or gender receive military training as part of their education. During this stage of life, it is customary for Canthropes to get married. The majority of the Nobility has pre-arranged marriages that are the sealing function of alliances and deals; however, most Canthropes have a strong desire for love in their relationships. This is due to the values ingrained in their society. Honor, Courage, and Family are particularly appropriate for this practice.

     The Canthrope Family consists of the Head of House (usually the oldest Male, but sometimes a younger male or older female may take the position); his wife and sons, and their wives and children. Often times up to four generations are living in the same superstructure, with wings being added for each individual family unit. In addition many Noble Families have had the same families be servants to them for many years (and in some cases, centuries). A servant family is under the protection of the Noble Family it serves and relies upon them for their support in terms of housing, food, and livelihood. Serving a Noble Family is one of the highest honors a commoner can have. The Connection between servant and Lord goes even deeper than it might appear.

     Canthropes are tolerant of women in positions of power, though men are far more common to see holding titles. Examples of powerful women include Aseira Loyter, the consort of the Emperor Pyreth. She through her station was able to secure her family’s control of the islands in the east of Ignaval post-War of Ashes.

     Canthrope cities feature large market places in the center, and large farming communities outside the walls. Banks, Inns, Shops of every kind, and Homes are common place to see throughout the city. The crown jewel of the Empire is the Temple of Pyrus, a city carved into the inside of long-since dormant volcano it shows off the height of Canthrope engineering, and it comes fully stocked with all the normal locations that might be found in a standard city. Moreover, arson is considered more of a compliment, as opposed to a crime. Fire setting shows beauty in the object it burns, rebirth and rebuilding in all.

     Canthropes by far have the shortest lifespan out of all the sentient races, leading them to act impulsively and out of emotion rather than reason. They often act in their best interests, but not necessarily everyone’s best interests. This gives them the reputation of being fiery and passionate.

 

Language

     The tongue of the Canthropes is Pytokau or, as it translates in the common, Burning Tongue. According to its speakers, it has many phrases that describe the sounds of fire, crackling and popping. Upon closer inspection it appears as though the sounds are merely inflections designed to highlight the tone of the speaker. For example a sarcastic remark may feature both a sarcastic tone, and a popping inflection if the speaker is being facetious, or with a crackling inflection when speaking to a loved one about a private joke. When written Pytokau uses a simple character set, very common among the more human races.

 

Religion

     Canthropes believe that their control over fire was given to them by Pyrus as a gift for their devotion to Nüré’i. Volcia has gifted them fertile lands to grow their people on and a vibrant landscape. Xeratos has gifted them knowledge of the sun and the warmth of their hearths and lands. Spiritual Leaders include the Oracles and the Emperor himself. Pyrus, Volcia, and Xeratos are the preferred Dragon Lords – seen as a boon from Nüré’i. Oracles who have received their gifts directly from God, teach the people about the Return of the Dragon Lords and the Coming of the Orange Dragon with Violet-Eyes. The Religion also holds that the Emperor is appointed servant of God, and caretaker of the people. Canthropes believe that to honor Nüré’I, one must live and Honorable life and devote yourself to your family, faith, and ruler.

     Canthropes have small shrines inside their homes where the family (often many generations) prays together. Each village also supports a priest (scholars of the written prophecies) that teaches and uplifts the spirituality of the whole community. The Temple of Pyrus is a Holy City, also a stronghold for the Canthropes. This is where Pyrus supposedly brought the first of the Canthropes to, where they were gifted the “Aki” and the Control over fire.

     Religious ceremonies for the Canthropes include a highly ritualized funeral service in which a portion of the ashes of ones ancestors (stored in a communal urn for each house/family) is spread over the remains of the deceased. The body is then cremated and a portion of the ash is collected and placed into the Ancestral Urn, the remainder is scattered to the wind. This represents the belief that the Canthropes hold that ever though their family may no longer be on the earth, they are all tied together in the heavens.

     Another ceremony is the Dance of the Phoenix and the Dragon. It is a duet of woven fire to produce a retelling of how the land became so fertile. It later became symbolic of the fall and the rise of the Empire of Ashes.

Related Religions/Beliefs

Dyrkism

     The adherents to this faith believe that the “Divine” gifts of the Canthropes are actually a curse given them by the Dragon Lords. The religion holds that this curse marks the Canthropes as “Corrupted Souls” and that the Dragon Lords have in turn become corrupted, else why they remain absent. “The only good Canthrope is one that is already dead, or nearly so,” stated the founder of Dyrkism “the Emperor.” They believe that they will be rewarded in the next life for being the scourge of the Canthropes. (This faith was born on the eve of the Genocide of the Canthropes and died very quickly only three decades later. However, there are still a few humans who hold these beliefs).

Selykism

     The believers of this faith, the Selykites, follow the Dragon Lords and the Oracles by believing that the Dragon with the Violet-Eyes will come one day to restore both balance to the world, and renew it to its original state, before the corruption entered. Ascribes divinity more towards the Dragon Lords, believing that Nüré’i is actually a Powerful Angel in the Heavens, but not an Omnipotent force. This faith also holds that marriage between siblings is divinely appointed – just as the first mortals were united. (This faith maintains a strong presence in the islands to the east of mainland Ignaval, even after their land is ceded to the Canthropes).

Kænism

     A Kænist believes much of the same as the Canthropes, but rejects the belief of the Dragon with Violet-Eyes. They also believe that the Canthrope Oracles are merely a way that they can keep undue influence over others, including their own people. They hold that Nüré’i just does not speak to anyone anymore more, but prophesied of the time when the Dragon Lords would return.

Fyrenism

     The Fyrenist movement shares the majority of their beliefs with their Canthrope allies. However, their main difference is that the hold that Oracles, while very gifted, are not needed. They believe that each individual is their own Oracle and that there is no need for an established clerical order.

Zeirism

     The Zeirites hold that the Dragon Lords exert too much influence upon Mortals, trapping them, preventing them from reaching their full potential. According to the Zeirites, the Demon Lords hold the key to true freedom, achieving your full potential, and they provide ways to break free from the rules of the unjust. Believers hold that the Demon Lords chose Zeira Black Flame and her many, many children to free the people from this illusion. They deny the Oracles, claiming that they are just another tool the Dragon Lords use to unjustly Lord over the people. They believe that Zeira and her children contain “Holy Blood” and that is must stay within the faith – marrying close relatives when needed.

Kyrism

     The Kyrites believe that to counter the spread of the wicked ideology of the Canthropes, the Demon Lords (true advocates for freedom and happiness) sent two Oracles – of their own blood, two brothers. These two “True-Oracles” began to teach about the Demon Lords, the correct way to live and what they offer. They taught that Man’s purpose in this life is to fulfill all of their own desires and that nothing was a sin. Rruin Emperorsson and Flynn Flynnsson also taught that their blood is “Holy” and that all should desire to unite with it, even if it means marrying close relative and having multiple wives.

 

Thank You

Thank you for taking the time to check out this information regarding one of my worlds. Don't forget to comment and rate the post. Let me know what you liked and what else you would like to see about the Canthropes. I love talking about my world and it is my dream to make it come alive for all. Thanks once again.

Thursday, 27 July 2017 05:18

Final Fantasy Tribute

 

     I am a fan of many things, from Bionicle to Pokémon; from RWBY to Harry Potter; from Lord of the Rings to Star Wars; and many other insanely awesome things. Even though it took a while for me to finally get into, Final Fantasy is one of those things that I love.

     Final Fantasy is a Digital Japanese Role-Playing Game Franchise. The first installment was released in 1987. At the time, it was a last ditch effort from game designer, Hironobu Sakaguchi, in the gaming Industry. Should the game have been a failure he would have returned to university, Final Fantasy was not a failure. It was more successful than he thought possible. Because of this, the second installment was immediately put into development. Unlike other series, each Final Fantasy installment features a new cast of characters, a new setting, and a revised battle-system. Each installment maintains thematic aspects from the previous installments such as the use of Crystal in nearly every installment.

     I love playing the games and talking about them with others who enjoy them. Even after mediocre games, Final Fantasy still has a way of endearing itself to me. Even when the stories are ridiculous, I still fawn all over each new installment. Even when parts of the game are forgettable, I still enjoy it. There is some part of each title that calls to me. I shall briefly explain my connection to each of the titles I have played, and why I feel drawn to the ones I have not.

 

Final Fantasy

     I had only played the first installment of this much beloved series after trying out some of the other entries of the series. My reaction to Final Fantasy is that I see how it became so successful at the time, and I can see how far the series has come by this point.

Collection of PS1 Final Fantasy

 

Final Fantasy III

     Final Fantasy III can sometimes be confused. At first North America did not receive Final Fantasy II, III, or V. When Final Fantasy VI came out on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), the North American release was subject to a name change to Final Fantasy III. This has been sorted out by now, and Final Fantasy III (not VI) was actually first released in North America on the Nintendo DS. It is a great game and very enjoyable to play and witness the story as it unfolds.

 

Final Fantasy V

    Final Fantasy V did not make it the United States until the PlayStation One era. The game’s story is mostly forgettable; although, the gameplay makes grinding at least a little bit more enjoyable and collecting items in this game is always fun.  Out of the Entries that I have played, I have enjoyed this one the least.

 

Final Fantasy VI

     I actually have not played much of this installment. I enjoy how emotional the story feels. Without giving everything away, there is a plot point of the game that has a Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back sort of Vibe. It is heartbreaking; yet, an enjoyable experience that leaves one with a desire for more.

 

Final Fantasy VII

     I had not played Final Fantasy VII until I was already grown, but I enjoyed it immensely. I acknowledge the praise and criticism for this title. However, I feel as though Final Fantasy VII has had perhaps the greatest impact of series to date. That being said, the mechanics and graphics that were praised at the time feel greatly dated and are far surpassed by the other Final Fantasy Titles released later on in the PlayStation One’s lifecycle.

 

Final Fantasy VIII

     Truth be told, I have not played much of this one, but what I have played of it makes it stand out as a great experience and one worth revisiting should I get the urge. The opening sequence remains among the best ever put into a game and one of the most intense pieces of music ever made.

 

Collection of PS2 Final Fantasy

Final Fantasy IX

     Final Fantasy IX is my personal favorite title, though not the one I have spent the most time on. By this stage, Square had mastered their technique of production on the PlayStation console, and it shows. The game is gorgeous, and the FMV though dated still looks amazing and holds up to later entries in the series. I love the multi-faceted story in this title, switching between multiple sets of characters is incredibly enjoyable and shows a mastery in storytelling that can sometimes be absent from games. The comedic and tragic are both present within the framing of Final Fantasy IX. While we wait for the next big Final Fantasy title, I am waiting for my Final Fantasy IX remaster or remake or port or what have you. To put it simply, this is Final Fantasy game that everyone should play.

 

Final Fantasy X

     Don’t get me wrong, Final Fantasy X is a good game, and many people truly enjoy it. I find the summoning in this entry of the series to be the most prominent. Even with the HD Remaster on the PlayStation 4, the game’s visuals are just not that great. Many of the cut scenes in the game are gorgeous, and showcase the work of Square well. Some of the cut scenes feel dated and are plagued with clichés and tropes now worn thin. This is not my favorite entry, but not my least favorite either. The super sweet love story is nice though.

 

Final Fantasy XIII

     Final Fantasy XIII is despised by many fans of the series. I see where they are coming from, I really do. The game does take a departure from the rest of the series; replacing the turn-based combat with action based combat with characters that are semi-relatable at best and offensive at worst. I have heard the full gambit of responses towards this game. I like it. It is a rather enjoyable game. The story takes center-stage and does not let you forget it. I find the characters to be inspired by other Final Fantasy characters from previous titles. The majority of the characters seem oddly similar to Characters from Final Fantasy VII, one of the most beloved titles in the series. Lightning the Main Character of the games seems like a female version of fan favorite Cloud.

 

Final Fantasy XIII-2

     Ah, Final Fantasy XIII-2, my first Final Fantasy game ever! This was the game that got me hooked on the whole series. I highly enjoyed my first play through. I had such fun with the fast-paced battling, and the lore was so rich to me at the time. Many argue that this game is one of the worst titles of the Final Fantasy series. I disagree. If it caught a first-timer in its grasp and kept them to experience other games in the same series, it is a worthy entry.  While I do not play this entry a whole lot at the moment, it still holds a fond place in my heart.

 

Collection of PS3 Final Fantasy

 

Final Fantasy XIV (A Realm Reborn)

     One of the two Final Fantasy games I experienced recently. It is a solid MMO, let alone a solid Final Fantasy title. Lots of fun to play with friends and tackle dungeons together; otherwise, one would be better off trying some of the other Final Fantasy titles.

 

Final Fantasy XV

     This is one that I have really mixed feelings about. Final Fantasy XV took the series into the Open-World realm of gaming. I wish that Square had not done that. The story told in Final Fantasy XV suffers from not being urgent enough to cause one to sacrifice side questing and exploring. I enjoy the fresh combat. I see it as a title that I am likely to pick up and play as I feel like it instead of it being a binging type game. I see Final Fantasy XV as an average entry into the series.

 

Finale

     That sums up all of my interactions with the main series of the Final Fantasy franchise. Countless spinoffs and spiritual successors have been spawned and have left an impact on my little world. Regardless of your opinion of the games or gaming; in general, these games have had a large impact on my life and have allowed me to further expand my storytelling and ideas. Many of the games have served me for stress relief and relaxation. The series as a whole has been one of the most influential in gaming history. Many of the staples in modern RPGs were established in within the confines of this venerable series. The legacy of this marvelous franchise will be felt for a long time to come. Regardless of how many screw-ups and false promises Square Enix makes, I will be a fan of Final Fantasy and continue to support their work.

 

Collection of PS4 Final Fantasy

Thursday, 29 June 2017 13:39

Tech Spotlight [Frost Crystals]

 

     Welcome to Technology Spotlight where I, the HighChronicler reveal a piece of technology used in one of my worlds. The intended purpose of the spotlights is to show people the worlds in my mind, and get them to connect with how they work prior to stories being shared. I hope to be able to help others understand the worlds I see within my stories. Today we are looking at Frost Crystals - a crystal found in the frozen tundra of Tergna Prima.

 

Tech Profile

  • Technology: Frost Crystals
  • Location: Frûzdhren (Tergna Prima)
  • Components: Crystalized Frost Dragon Breath
  • Primary Use: Magical Artifacts, specifically staves
  • Secondary Use: Ceremonial items

 

History

     No one truly knows how long the naturally occurring Frost Crystals have been around. Some speculate that the oldest crystals are from the time of the Dragon Lords; although, Ice Elf Scientists have yet to confirm this belief. Their use in Ice Elf technology is extensive, but few outside the tight-knit community of Elves have ever learned of the existence of the Crystals, let alone their uses.

     The crystals are formed from the dying breath of a Frost Dragon. As such, the crystal retains a portion of that Dragon’s soul inside the crystalline structure. This leads to the crystals being semi-sentient and at the most basic level aware of the events surrounding it. There are those who believe the crystals are related to the Aura Crystals of Dekurem, which also are aware of their surroundings. This is pure speculation and wholly unfounded. Unlike the Aura Crystals, the Frost Crystals cannot show their knowledge with their users. This marks a great difference between the two crystals.

      The crystals remained largely undiscovered for much of history until the pilgrimage of the Ice Elves who were fleeing persecution from the various factions of Elves forming at the time of the Second Sundering. The Elves came to Frûzdhren and settled near the North Pole of Tergna Prima - building a small network of cities connected together.  The temperatures were frigid and harsh, but the Elves natural proclivity with Magic saw them change and adapt to their new environment. This is when they were able to find the first of the Frost Crystals.

     Many of the primitive human tribes living near the tundra suspect this is where Ice Magic originated, but Ice Elves deny this rumor. They say that the Crystals only served to awaken their true powers at that time and that the magic came from within. A few notable humans tried to seize crystals, but they were unsuccessful in obtaining any powers. Since that time Frost Crystals have been used to a great extent by the Ice Elves in nearly all aspects of their life.

 

Development

     When the Ice Elves first came to find the Frost Crystals, they began to use them to decorate their staffs as symbols of rank and prestige. Over time as their skill and proficiency with the newly discovered Ice Magic increased, they noticed that the Crystals served as amazing instruments in channeling their powers. They were not required to wield the new art of combat, but the crystals greatly enhanced their natural abilities. The high ranking members of the society got more crystals to enhance their own power further. This allowed them to maintain a high social status.

     Eventually, they discovered that they could shape the crystal into solid structures. They created thirteen solid crystal staffs which ultimately lead to the creation of the Noble Council. The uses of the Crystals were soon also spread to ceremonial objects such as crowns or jewels meant to symbolize the Ice Elf people as a whole.

     The Ice Elves rarely ventured out of their great Citadel. When they did, rumors followed them everywhere especially about the rare and valuable Frost Crystals. The Ice Elves would trade much of their other technology to the humans in order to track down more of the crystals. This lead to the influx of wealth among the otherwise poor villages, and to the spread of other technology in the regions the Ice Elves visited.

 

Legacy

     In time, even the staffs would be overshadowed by the creation of the Frozen Fusion Reactors. As a key ingredient for the powerful energy producing reaction, the Frost Crystal became ever important to the defense and protection of the realm. Soon the Ice Elves, and to an extent the residents of all of Frûzdhren, became the only people in Tergna Prima to have such power.  The Frozen Fusion Reactor was eventually able to be miniaturized, and it powered firearms that could be used without gunpowder. These weapons greatly enhanced the capabilities of the Ice Elf forces in the great wars.

Star Wars Day 2015 – Week  17

     So today is STAR WARS day! And it is a P-Day. This should be fun, as I can celebrate this momentous holiday within reason. I should be able to enjoy the combination of these two events by doing something Star Warsy. This past week has been exciting. Elder Mahler and I got to go to the Temple which was awesome, as it always is when performing work in the Temple. We also met the Yeafoli Family. They are recent move in’s to our ward and they are SUPER missionary minded, meaning they love being able to help with missionary work and enjoy doing missionary-like things. Brother Yeafoli's 90 year old Grandma is living with them and she isn't a member.  We hope to be able to teach her.

     We had a really unique service opportunity this week. The Anchorage Public Library throws a massive book sale once or twice a year. And by massive, I mean massive. The lady said that through this sale they are able to gain between $20,000 and $30,000 for the Library. We probably moved close to 2000 books or more for them. This service was really fun, and they let us pick two books from the sale pile for helping them get all of them set up. That was really nice of them.

     Other than that, not much else exciting happened this week. Oh, and May the force be with you this great Star Wars day.

 

Picture of me in front of the Anchorage Temple

Emergency Transfers – Week 18

     So, this week has been pretty Chaotic. My Companion's headaches have gotten worse, much worse. We spent a great deal of time in and out of Hospitals and Clinics. It was so strange. I also was able to have several emergency exchanges with Elders Brock, Goodsell, Clark, and Vang. This is so that I could get out and do some missionary work while my companion was resting/sleeping.

     So we actually had some really good lessons this week. Everyone is working to help me get out and work as often as it is logistically possible. I am so grateful for this chance and for those who make it possible.

     He had another MRI on Friday, and the results came in this morning. He is going home on Medical Leave. I don't know if that reality has actually hit me yet. I've spent the past 3 and 1/2 months with him, and the last 7ish weeks taking good care of him. I have no idea what is going to happen to me, this area, or anything really. It looks like this is the end of my time with my trainer, Elder Mahler. It has been amazing. I have learned and gained so much from his tutelage and I will be forever grateful for my time serving with such a great missionary. I have a feeling that this is not the last I will see of him though.

Onward to Klatt – Week 19

     Elder Mahler left the mission field last Monday night, and President Robinson flew out with him to Seattle. After he left, I went with the Klatt Ward Elders, I and am now sharing their apartment. The three of us Elder Clark, Elder Vang and I are now covering both the Klatt and the O'Malley Wards.

     As you might imagine that means that this week was extraordinarily busy. We quite simply did not have time to worry about the menial things of this world. We tracted, and we actually found some people who are willing to listen to what we have to say, which is way cool. I had a blast, working in a Trio is the best (most of the time). We get to visit single sisters without having to make sure someone comes with us. However, there are a few downsides, such as the adjustment to teaching people in a trio, which is not as easy as one might think, but it still is fun. Other than that it is a blast!

     It is strange covering two wards, but I since it is only till the end of the Transfer (May 25th). I expect that it will be just fine. Some exciting stuff is going down this week. The Missionaries all get our iPads on Wednesday. And we find out what is going down with transfers on Friday, it should be good. Also, I heard from Elder Mahler, he seems to be doing better now that he doesn't have that strain of being a missionary while trying to deal with the headaches.

So his work continues – Week 20

      This week has been great! I have absolutely loved working with Elders Clark and Vang as we further the work of salvation. We have been covering both the O'Malley and the Klatt wards the past two weeks. It has been keeping us very busy.  Another thing that has kept us extremely busy has been the acquisition of our iPads, and all that we have to do with them.

     On Wednesday the 20th of May, Elder Nielson of the Seventy came and gave us some training on these iPads and how missionary work in the digital age will commence. The Alaska Anchorage Mission is one of 89 pilot missions for the iPads (out of about 400 worldwide missions) this means that we are very lucky to be able to use this technology in our work.

      The training, from Elder Nielson (who gave a talk at last General Conference if you recall), was not what I expected which is very good. There was a deeply spiritual side to this training, and there was very little of showing us how to use these devices (which I am thankful for). We have been given safeguards that, as we follow them, will protect us from the garbage that is out on the Internet. It was such a good day.

     The thing that stuck out to me the most from the day of training was something that Elder Nielson had said. He said that the Brethren Trust Us. This is very comforting, that the modern day Prophet and the Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ trust us to use these devices how they are meant to be used. This is just the beginning.

     On Friday, I found out where I will be for the next six weeks and who my new companion will be. I will be staying in the O'Malley Ward and will be heading back to my apartment. My new companion will be one Elder Miller. I Haven't met him yet, but I will tomorrow. I’m so excited to be with the people of the O’Malley ward for another six weeks. I love them.

The Next Transfer – Week 21

     So this week was great! I met Elder Miller shortly before Transfer Meeting on Tuesday, and we had an absolute blast working with each other this past week. Elder Miller is an amazing missionary. He works hard, and he loves to serve people. All great attributes in a missionary. On Wednesday we went by a potential investigator named Sandy. She is prepared for the gospel; I can tell. We had a great lesson; we left her with the Restoration Pamphlet and a return appointment for this coming week. She said that she would read the pamphlet and the scriptures it points her too. Hopefully we are able to have as good of lessons with her as our first one.

     We also knocked on a few doors and were able to find a couple people willing to listen to the message that we share. It was extremely hot this week, but it was so much fun. During this hot time we ran into a man who thought those that Believed in God were either fakers or not intelligent. We talked with him a bit, and testified of what we know. That was all we could do.

      One of the families in the ward moved out to Utah this past week, the Lemmons. They were one of the best families in the Ward. It is sad to see them go, but they said to keep in touch. I plan on doing just that. On Saturday, we did some service for one of our investigators, Sarah. She is elderly, and we mowed her lawn and weeded her garden. It was fun. She made us lunch afterwards, and we had a great lesson with her.

      Later that day we met with the Hughes family, and we had a great time visiting with them and teaching them. Their son Josh is getting ready to be baptized, so we are helping them out with that.

 

Elder Miller and I at Transfers

Service and Finding – Week 22

     This week has proven to be magnificent. We visited quite a few people and met with even a few that we’ve never met before. One of the greatest things we had happen this week, is that we got 2 new investigators, Janice and then later Yemeli. They are both strong in faith and devout members of their church. But they’re open to learning about the Gospel. Later we did some service for a member in another Ward, helping them move. That was quite a lot of work but incredibly fun. We also got a chance to help the Rilke Schule (a German School across the street from our apartment) move the stuff out of the building they were in. They are moving the school to a new location. And I did not mind helping them at all. The work here is moving along fast, and also time is flying so fast while I’ve been here.

Extra Service Miracles! – Week 23

     This week was an absolute blast. All the missionaries in the Anchorage Stake got to go to the Temple on Wednesday, and that was amazing. The Temple is always amazing, but something about this time made it stand out to me. This time was most definitely spiritually edifying and very uplifting; it made me feel more motivated to get out and find people to teach.

     Another highlight of this week was when Elder Miller and I got to help the German School, close to our apartment, move out of the location they were in and into trailers to await the completion of their new location. That was a really fun experience, especially since it was a German School. Also on that day (Saturday), we helped this nice lady named, Becca, move out of where she was staying into a new place. It took a while and the results of that even made the title of Today’s email. It was a great opportunity to help someone in dire need.

     I believe that she didn’t have very long to move and had to be out that day, so apparently our help was paramount to getting her to where she needed to be. I hope everything goes well for her. Yesterday, in Sacrament meeting a Brother Pintar gave a talk. Now this was no ordinary talk. It was his conversion story, and it is an amazing story. He’s come so far in such a short amount of time.

 

A Book of Mormon in a Take One box

 

Time to do some finding – Week 24

     This week we had some pretty miraculous things happen. We did some service for a part member family. This service involved tearing out some insulation from the ceiling in their basement. It was itchy, but worth every fragment of fiberglass that got stuck somewhere on me.

     I also got to know a missionary a little better than I did, and I found out that he likes Bionicles (though not as much as me). We chatted about that while on Exchanges this week. It was fun to talk to someone who knows about the wonderful thing that is Bionicle. However, that is just a temporal blessing to my missionary service. Now, onto some more of the Spiritual types of blessings

     On Thursday we got to go to the Temple again since they have such a long backlog of male names. It was fantastic as always. I know that the blessings of the temple are great and that I don’t fully understand them, but that is okay. Then on Friday we had Zone Meeting where we received some training about how we are supposed to find people to teach and baptize. One of things was that we should be more specific about what we pray for. For example, some missionaries shared an experience that they had had earlier that week. They said that they prayed and asked Heavenly Father to place someone in the path at such and such a place and at a certain time. Then they found some really solid investigators that are truly prepared for the Gospel.

     Elder Miller and I decided to do the same, and tell Heavenly Father where we are going to be, the place he told us to go, and when we were going to be there and that is when our greatest Miracle of the week happened. We came across Jeri. She had just gotten home from the vet and taking care of her really beautiful dog. Then we started talking and found out that she is friends with some members in our Ward. We had an amazing first lesson, and we have a return appointment. She took a Book of Mormon and said that she would read it and pray about it. It was such an amazing miracle to see find someone so prepared to receive the Gospel

Flattop – Week 25

     So last Monday some missionaries in the Anchorage mission, Elder Miller, and I all went to Flattop. Flattop is a mountain that you hike, and it was quite fun to do so. The sun beating down on me caused that I drank all my water before too long. If it were not for the cooling towel that was sent to me by my mother, I would not have made it to the top.  The top of said mountain is flat, hence the name. It was a fun hike. Not sure I would do it again so soon.

     District Meeting this week was a blast, complete fun. We received some training on how to better find people to teach, and it is doing wonders for us. This week we finally got to move on to Stage 2 of the iPad use. We spent some good quality time cleaning up the records that have been left here for the past however long. We watched some training videos on how to use the new area book planner app that we will be getting very soon. It should be a fun experience.

     Yesterday I gave a talk during Sacrament Meeting! It was a great topic from one of my favorite Speakers. President Uchtdorf’s talk, “Are you sleeping through the Restoration?” I had lots of fun preparing for and couldn’t help but toss in a quick Pokémon reference when talking about sleeping. The O’Malley Ward has been great thus far, and I look forward to whatever new adventures I get to have.

 

A scenic view of Anchorage

 

The Final Week in O’Malley – Week 26

     So this past week was my last week in my first area, the O’Malley Ward. We got our Transfer Calls on Friday, and I found out that I’m off to the Willow and Memory Lake Wards. I will be covering two wards out there along with my new companion, Elder Wang. I haven’t met him yet, but he sounds fantastic. Willow is a small little community in the Wasilla region of the State; it is also where those Forest Fires were. I’m looking forward to some new experiences there.

     At the same time, I am nervous about leaving the people here in the O’Malley Ward. I have made a lot of Friends, and goodbyes are really hard. Especially, if you love the people you have to say goodbye to. I have enjoyed my six months among these people, and I am sure that I will be able to keep some of these new friends for a long while yet.

     I will greatly miss the Hughes Family, and I hope that I will get to see them once more. I will also miss the Jenkins Family; we had gotten rather close since they had us over nearly every week. Brother Pintar, I shall miss as well. He is amazing and so strong in the gospel. Also I shall miss the Powers Family. We did our Mother’s Day Phone Calls here, and we also ate with them often. They are an incredible family; I wish good fortunes upon them.

     I have truly enjoyed my time among so many wonderful people, and I feel extraordinarily blessed to have known each and every one of them. They are all so dear to me. This coming week should bring many surprises and a great deal of excitement.

Retrospective – Interlude

     With the many people that I have met and all the influences at this point, my final six weeks in the O’Malley Ward were some of the happiest times I had on my mission. I greatly treasure my experiences that I had during this time. I learned about hard work from Elder Miller, and I am grateful for his example to me as I strive to become a better person now that I am home from my full-time service.  As I look back upon this time of my life it becomes clear to me that my time in the O’Malley Ward shaped my outlook in such a way that I became a more service oriented person. I enjoyed this time immensely. I wish I could thank in person each of the people that helped me along my way during this time.

 

A Totem Pole

 

Saturday, 03 June 2017 23:03

Pokemon - The Next Step

 

     The Pokémon Franchise has been around for over 20 years, and every few years a new game in the much beloved franchise gets released and sees many happy players across the world. It is developed largely by GameFreak and Published by Nintendo. The Original Red and Blue Versions were released in Japan in 1996. With a few tweaks and an update, it arrived in the States in 1998. Since then, we have seen more than 900 creatures known as Pokémon in various digital forms.  

     I have been a fan of the series for nearly a decade. I have purchased games at launch, games a few months later, and some I have yet to acquire. I have a deep respect for Nintendo, their practices, and a love for the Pokémon series as a whole. I want to see Pokémon in the best light possible, and my hope is to share my vision of what I would like to see done with this wonderful and timeless series. Part of my idea also includes what I believe is the best move Nintendo can make to give the Pokémon Series and their consoles the best possible treatment.

     I want to see the continuing success of Nintendo and Pokémon as well as the renewing and revitalizing the series with a vigor that can sustain it for many more years.  The central concept to my idea is mastery. I want GameFreak and Nintendo to demonstrate what they have learned with the Pokémon Franchise as a whole and with the consoles that those games are on. The Golden Treatment is the name that fits best with my idea - my vision of what can be (not necessarily what will actually be). The logistics of my idea contains three phases: the Swansong, the Legacy, and the Rebirth.

 

The Swansong

     The first phase of my idea involves a remake of the “generation four” games - Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. Now these were my first Pokémon Games that I had on my own. I still enjoy whipping out my copy of Pearl just to have a good time occasionally. I try not to be biased towards it. I have numerous complaints regarding the game especially now that it has been out for nearly a decade. The Swansong name of this phase is in reference to the six year old hardware known as the Nintendo 3DS.

      Here is my vision of the spring of 2018, during which a final set Pokémon games are released on the 3DS. The games would be the remakes of the Diamond and Pearl games. These remakes would improve upon and maintain the original spirit of the games. The graphical engine would be updated and the irritating number of moves needed for exploration would be removed, instead replaced with the more manageable system from Pokémon Sun and Moon. Other improvements would be combining the Pokémon center and store into one building, as is the current system and adding additional improvements or elements to the overall narrative to enhance it. This could be in the form of a story arc after the end of the main game, perhaps having challenging opponent that upon defeat can give you the special Z-Crystals (equipment that unlocks powerful one use moves in battles). GameFreak could give the Sinnoh (the region name in the game) starter Pokémon mega evolutions and find that balance between the old mechanics and the new mechanics. Add a little extra polish and care to the games; make them represent everything that Nintendo and GameFreak have learned in making a good Pokémon game.

     GameFreak should use the majority of the features that the 3DS system boasts to show mastery over both Pokémon and console. Make the safari zone feel more like Pokémon Snap. It could use the motion camera to truly capture the feel of being on a safari, looking for Pokémon to capture. Implement the pedometer into the functions of the game by assisting with the breeding mechanics or another training feature. Streetpass and Spotpass features should be used to send powerful teams to your friends, so they can prepare for battle against you, get help beating a challenging trainer, or even as a way to send friends items. The overall effect of the game design, narrative, and game features should blow people away in awe and provide them a reason to hang on to their system.

 

The Legacy

     The second phase of my plan involves the very first Pokémon games, Red and Blue. Pokémon Red and Blue versions were already remade in 2004 as FireRed and LeafGreen. I enjoy the original games and the remakes as they are still fun if a bit outdated, especially coming from other more recent Pokémon titles, they can feel sluggish in gameplay and old graphically by comparison. That is why I propose the Re-Remake of the Generation One games on Nintendo’s new system the Nintendo Switch.

      The Switch came out earlier this year. It has been hitting record sales for several months now, practically flying off the shelves. This is why I propose waiting until late 2019, possibly launching Black Friday, a trio of games with custom systems as bundles; AquaBlue HD, FireRed HD, and LeafGreen HD, each game launching with matching hardware.  For AquaBlue - make the JoyCons (the side controllers) a slightly translucent blue, the Switch Console itself a solid medium blue, and the dock for the system a dark blue. FireRed’s Switch would be a solid red with slightly translucent JoyCons, and a dark red dock. LeafGreen gets a dark green dock with a leafy green system, and again slightly translucent JoyCons. This custom hardware is to increase the variety of the systems as well as give a slight edge to the Pokémon games released at the same time. This hardware is really only one part of the whole for this phase.

 

Nintendo switch console

 

      Waiting until late 2019 gives GameFreak time to get their feet under them with the new system and to produce a game that will run smoothly and on the given system. Since the Switch has power and can be mobile, it could be wise to produce a Pokémon game with stunning visuals and gameplay. The games must give off an air of being the legacy of the series - gym battles are challenging, the soundtrack is awesome, the Pokémon themselves are memorable. These games would basically be the first home console appearance of the Kanto region (the in game area).  As such, they should demonstrate the full power of the console while maintaining its handheld feel. The Switch as a Hybrid Handhand-Console System is the perfect system to try this out on.

     Perhaps in this remake, the Seveii Islands (small portion of FireRed and LeafGreen’s map) are kept and are still part of the story. Perhaps the Johto region is partially added (Johto being the neighboring area in the game). The Battles could potentially be more mobile and have a Stadium/Battle Revolution feel to them, but without the whole arena feel.  There are a great many things that GameFreak could do to make a full HD Pokémon experience. The original Pokémon game of Red and Blue are the way to create both a memorable experience for the younger players and a way to reinvigorate the original audience. I have no doubt that if Red and Blue were given this treatment that the Nintendo Switch would sell many more units, and the Pokémon Franchise would also sell incredibly well.

 

The Rebirth

     The third and final phase in my master plan for Pokémon is to release a new generation of games onto the switch sometime during mid-2021 potentially sometime later for that matter. It should be a good chunk of time to create some concrete concepts and create a truly next generation game. Perhaps this could be a direct sequel to X and Y versions in a similar vein as Pokémon Gold and Silver were sequels to the original Red and Blue. Possibly, even the Black and White games. Give us a new region to explore in full 3D. Perhaps, these new games no longer have an isometric view, but in an over-the-shoulder type way. Also, give us something familiar to see in the best possible way. Let GameFreak stretch their muscles and demonstrate a love and care for this series in the way they would want to. Begin implantation of features from the Nintendo Switch system and show that Pokémon is still well loved by both developers and players alike. This phase is designed to finalize the transition of Pokémon from the 3DS and to a larger extent the Nintendo portable system line to a more powerful machine capable of producing the type of game we all want to see. Let GameFreak decide how to proceed from here.

 

Thursday, 11 May 2017 20:23

RWBY [An Anime Review]

 

Introduction

     I have often associated myself with the various fandoms that exist. I am even more often a latecomer to the party when much of the Hype has already passed, when people move on the other things, while I am still discovering what I had found. Bionicle was much this way for me. Dominion, Final Fantasy, Pokemon, and others are this way still. I do not pretend to have been there in the beginning for the start of a Franchise that I came too late. RWBY is one of the few media franchises that I can claim “I was there at the beginning.”

     There I was in my room that I had long shared with my brother. We were chilling and most likely watching YouTube. My brother called me over to take a look at the video he had found. We watched it, and then we watched it again. It was three times before we realized that there was another video in the same series. We had just seen the “Red” and “White” trailers for Rooster Teeth’s new web series, RWBY. We anxiously awaited the release of the next two trailers “Black” and “Yellow,” respectively. I instantly fell in love with the characters and the show as soon as I saw that first trailer. I was there on launch day, sitting at my computer, furiously mashing the refresh button waiting for the first episode of RWBY to go live on Rooster Teeth’s main site.

      RWBY (Pronounced Ruby) is an American anime web series created by the late Monty Oum and produced by Rooster Teeth Production. Originally airing on the Rooster Teeth main site starting in 2013, it is now available on Netflix, Crunchyroll, YouTube, and on Blu-Ray/DVD formats. The origins were humble, but show that an idea, supported by people who care about the quality of their work, can succeed if given the proper chance and audience.

      Monty Oum had concepts for RWBY created prior to show’s production, but he had never set anything in stone due to being tied up with Rooster Teeth’s other animated series Red vs. Blue. During the production of Season 10 of Red vs. Blue, Monty approached Burnie Burns (the Chief Creative Officer of Rooster Teeth) with a few short descriptions, he was given the “green light.”

       Several of the characters in RWBY are inspired by mythological or historical figures. For example, Ruby Rose is inspired by Red Riding Hood and Weiss Schnee by Snow White. Monty noted that “they are not adaptations, but rather original characters which allude to other works” [1] Monty has also indicated that several of the characters in RWBY actually pre-date the development of such entirely. [2]

     I was there. I was at the start. That was huge for me. I had never before been at the start of something, and I enjoyed it. This is why I will be reviewing RWBY today. Before we get into scores and whatnot let us take a look at the categories for today.

 

RWBY

 

I: Plot and Setting

      RWBY is set in the world of Remnant where future technology meets fantasy in a beautiful array of designs and lore. The setting is intriguing and visually stunning. The creators provide the viewer with the perfect balance of information while limiting the amount of exposition given through needless dialogue. The creators even started a subseries called “World of Remnant” that are an informative and interesting way to give information outside of the narrative that will allow the viewers to follow along without sacrificing plot points.

      Speaking of the narrative, RWBY has one of the greatest stories still yet to fully unfold before our eyes. Each season moves the main arc along – adding new themes and continuing to develop existing motifs. The story is paced well and is emotional. The overarching story, especially in volume one, is kept slightly under wraps. It seems as though the ambiguity of this portion is intentional almost as if the creators did not want to tip their hand early. If this is the case, it is a respectable choice as volume one is a pilot season and does serve to introduce RWBY to the rest of the world.

     The plot centers on a group of four young women Ruby Rose, Weiss Schnee, Blake Belladonna, and Yang Xiao Long, and their shared desire to become huntresses to protect the world from the Grimm (creatures of darkness that have haunted mankind since the dawn of time). These four girls form Team RWBY and attend Beacon Academy where many other students are trained to fight against the darkness. Combining in elements of the criminal underground, racial tensions, and an organization that wants to bring about the downfall of the world, he creates a solid plot.

     RWBY earns high marks in the Plot and Setting category, with a -1 Penalty for using the battle-magic-training school cliché. However, RWBY also earns a +2 Bonus for drawing on literature, mythologies, and history for its own lore.

 

II: Characters

      Each of the characters in RWBY has a distinct personality and is loosely inspired by characters from other sources. These sources include but are not limited to: literature, fairy tales, and legends. RWBY also features extremely good character development and progression. Characters are given chances to grow and to change their outlook; rivalries can change into friendships and vice versa. Each of the backstories is covered through use of good dialogue and conversation. Here is a good example of the development of the characters: one of the characters already knows the name and relevance of another and tells a third character who didn’t know; thus cluing the audience into the loop in addition to developing a character, clever hidden exposition.

      The voice acting is rather good in RWBY, and the personalities of the voice actors/actresses lend themselves well into portraying their characters. The antagonists do have an “evil for the sake of evil” feel to them at some points. This lends itself to creating semi-ambiguous motivations for a few of the antagonists. This does hurt RWBY’s scoring in this section; it still earns good marks for characters and for voice acting. RWBY earns a +3 Meta-Bonus for having characters named Ozpin, Glynda, Salem, and Qrow. Still, with all the awesomeness of the names and the deep protagonists, the insufficient motivations of the antagonists warrant a -1 Penalty.

 

III: Animation

     The animation in volume one can be a little bit stiff and inconsistent with quality; however one must stop to consider how Rooster Teeth isn’t a main stream corporation with deep pockets. They had limited resources and (with what they accomplished) they should be applauded for their effort. Volume two had a greatly increased budget, and volume four has an even greater budget. Monty Oum’s style is pleasant to look at and helps create the vibrant color filled world of Remnant. The animation really shines through in the second, third, and fourth volumes. The action is intense, snappy, and filled with epicness all the way. There remain a few issues though; there is some major and minor clipping in a few noticeable places which can distract from the overall feel of the show.

      RWBY earns above average marks in this department, with a +1 bonus for low budget. Another +1 bonus is awarded for Monty Oum being self-taught. A Third bonus is given for the adherence to the rule of cool, which can be defined as: “The limit of the Willing Suspension of Disbelief for a given element is directly proportional to the element's awesomeness.”[3]. Seriously, RWBY is so cool.

 

Team RWBY and Team JNPR

 

IV: Soundtrack and Score

     One word: Amazing! I highly enjoy the score of RWBY in addition the original songs created for use in the show. Jeff Williams is quite talented and so is his daughter Casey Lee Williams. Their skills shine through on the show’s opening themes, and the lyrical mastery of each of the main character’s themes. The soundtrack serves the story and the setting well featuring an alternative rock style while mixing in a few other elements it manages to pull a sweet sounding score.

     The mastery of Jeff Williams and his daughter earns RWBY extremely high marks.

 

V: Depth and Symbolism

     RWBY is full of symbols relating both the world of Remnant and our own world. Examples include the use of color and the naming scheme of the whole show. In the lore, a war was fought to take away the individuality and creativity of the people in order to preserve the “status quo.” In our world, one could argue that creativity has come under attack and the bottom line is the ultimate ruler. While in the show it portrays a long-since won victory over the oppressive human nature, it also highlights how we are still afraid of what we do not understand. This could also mean that Monty had overcome the fight of maintaining artistic integrity.

     Furthermore since RWBY also shows cultural tensions, it could highlight the continuing tensions between the various cultures of our world. Also present in RWBY is some light spiritual themes that are still developing in the story. With all things considered, RWBY earns good marks for the depth and symbolic themes present in the work.

 

VI: Impact and Significance

      RWBY has made a significant impact upon the online community as it proves that independent studios can succeed and produce good content. RWBY has the distinct honor of being the first American-Made Anime marketed to Japanese audiences, and it has been successful – even getting a Japanese dub of the series. [4] This is huge, especially since it was not made by a big company, but by a small indie studio. Also, in early 2015 the creator of the show, Monty Oum, died from a complication during a medical procedure [5]. This could have destroyed RWBY; ended it in its tracks, but no. RWBY survived. The legacy of Monty Oum was preserved and continues to this day.

     The show’s fifth volume is due out for release sometime in the fall of this year. Not many shows I know of have been able to in their early days survive the death of their creator. RWBY earns a good score for this section, and a +1 Bonus for cultural achievement and bridge building. Another +1 Bonus is earned for the legacy of Monty Oum.

 

Monty Oum at Office

 

VII: Scoring

     Alright, now that we have reviewed the categories, we shall look at RWBY overall and determine its prowess in the anime world.

  • Plot and Setting: A [3.7]. RWBY received a -1 Penalty for using a cliché, but also earns a +2 Bonus for drawing on Histooutside sources for its lore.
  • Characters: B [3.2]. RWBY has achieved a +3 Meta-Bonus for having legit characters and names. However, insufficient motivations of the antagonists warrant a -1 Penalty.
  • Animation: C+ [2.8]. RWBY takes a +1 bonus for low budget. Another +1 bonus is awarded for Monty Oum being self-taught. A Third bonus is given for the adherence to the rule of cool.
  • Soundtrack and Score: A+ [4.0]. No bonuses or penalties awarded.
  • Depth and Symbolism: B [3.3]. No bonuses or penalties given.
  • Impact and Significance: A+ [4.0]. A +1 bonus for bridging cultural gaps, and another +1 for honoring the creator in both life and death
  • Totals: A++ [4.8]. RWBY is amazing and despite all of its insignificant flaws I still love it and would highly recommend it to anyone. Rest in peace Monty. Your work will live on for many years.

 

References

  1. Interview with Monty Oum
  2. Monty's Facebook
  3. Geek and Sundry - Rule of Cool
  4. Anime News Network UK - RWBY Heads to Japan
  5. Monty Oum Hospitalized

 

Rest in Peace Monty!

 

EDIT: The Final Score is composed of the average of the individual categories and the bonus points are added in before the final average score is determined.

Friday, 05 May 2017 22:07

Tech Spotlight [Obsyron]

 

 

Welcome to Technology Spotlight where I, the HighChronicler reveal a piece of technology used in one of my worlds. The intended purpose of the spotlights is to show people the worlds in my mind, and get them to connect with how they work prior to stories being shared. I hope to be able to help others understand the worlds I see within my stories. Today we are looking at Obsyron, a metal-alloy found in the world of Tergna Prima.

 

Tech Profile

  • Technology: Obsyron
  • Location: Ignaval (Tergna Prima)
  • Components: Iron, Carbon, Obsidian, Magma
  • Primary Use: Swords and other bladed weapons
  • Secondary Use: Magical Artifacts

 

History

     Obsyron is an iron-obsidian alloy created by the people of Ignaval to solve a problem they were having with using obsidian or iron as their metals of choice in bladed weaponry. Prior to the innovation of Obsyron, warring factions within the civilization used iron or obsidian as their primary material in forging weapons.

     One of the problems that the obsidian users faced was the brittleness of the material. Sure it was razor sharp and could leave some pretty gruesome wounds on those who crossed paths with these blades shaped from the volcanic glass. If one struck your blade against any solid armor, it would shatter most likely maiming you more than your target. This is why some preferred the more sturdy Iron in their blades. While the material was stronger it could not hold as sharp as an edge and had trouble piercing the heaviest armor.

     These issues lead to the development of alternate weapons and fighting styles that are seen even today among the people. One of these styles revolved around using the brittle yet sharp obsidian as arrowheads which upon impact with anything more solid than skin would shatter; either peppering the eyes with tiny shards of obsidian or sending shrapnel through the veins of those who were unfortunate enough to be struck by one these fierce arrows.

     Another type of arrowhead developed alongside the standard obsidian tipped arrow was the less effective stone or iron tipped arrow. However, there was a third arrowhead in use at this time another one made mostly of obsidian, with a major twist. The arrowhead was hollow and filled with gunpowder. At the tip lay a piece of flint so that when the arrow struck, true or not, a small explosion would ignite, resulting in injury to those near the center. A secondary effect was creating a diversion as the native people of Ignaval are highly resistant to getting burned.

     The true pinnacle of this era of innovation though was the development of the aforementioned Obsyron which combined the best elements of the two prevailing materials and had very few weaknesses.

 

Development

     Obsyron was developed by a family who spent much of their time mining the mountains in search of new materials to replace the troublesome ones. Eventually, due to the experiments of one alchemist, Syrion, a retainer of the Mynn family, the perfect solution was found. He discovered that if you heat obsidian inside the magma chamber of a dormant volcano that it returns to a liquid form and can then be used to liquefy an equal amount of iron. Once cooled the substance would not break under any degree of normal pressure, nor even by falling down the side of a mountain. This was the first problem with the new material. Once it cooled, it could not be broken or have its shape in the slightest. This meant that they had to forge their weapons while the metal was still molten.

     They solved this by creating another batch of the liquid obsidian-iron mixture and poured it into molds of swords and other blades. This created extremely well-balanced and strong weapons, but they had no edge to them at this point. Sharpening them was not easy task. It took the development of a new type of grindstone in order to give this newfound alloy, Obsyron (literally translated as forged black metal), an edge. The time and process of developing this new metal was well worth it though, it changed the face of the bladed weapons on Ignaval permanently, and it gave rise to one of the great houses of the Imperial period.

 

Legacy

     Today, Ignaval shares its new metal with the rest of the world, but it retains the secret to its exact process of refining. There are hundreds of thousands of Obsyron blades in the world, and it is said that each blade will last for a thousand years. The black-hued alloy of obsidian and iron has garnered legend status from much of the people. Uses for this mighty material are seemingly endless as new ways to utilize its potential are unlocked by the year. There is talk of a machine powered with steam using gears of obsyron within its internal system to increase its lifespan. But, these rumors are largely unfounded.

 

Two Months down – Week 10

     This past week marks seven weeks in the Mission Field and 2 months overall. However it barely feels like it. I am stunned to think that it has been that long already. Monday was great, I was able to write a few letters and get them sent off. Then Tuesday was transfers and it was so fun. Elder Mahler and I ran over to the Airport and picked up the Juneau Zone Leaders (A pair of Missionaries that flew in from Juneau.) Then we brought them to Transfer Meeting. Transfer meeting was great because we got to talk to other Missionaries from across the mission, and President Robinson spoke to us as all. It was pretty awesome.

     That night we got to take Elder Russell and his new Trainee from the Philippines with us as we visited some members. (Elder Russell had previously served in the O'Malley Ward and so wanted to see a few members before he went back to Kodiak.) The rest of the week was great as well. Since we didn't get to talk to a whole lot of people, Elder Mahler and I decided to walk the one part of our area that we might run into people to talk to. What a success it was - both days we did it we found at least one person to talk to. We even talked to this 70 year old Veteran and man could he talk. It was great to talk with him and share a quick message with him. The best part - he wants to learn more.

     Friday at another meeting we received the news that iPads were coming to the mission in May. It's pretty exciting as they will make the work go faster and be more convenient for teaching. Now on Saturday, we went to the Ceremonial start of the Iditarod. Elder Mahler and I got to be there and help at the finish line. (It was just the ceremonial start and not the real thing, but just as cool.) It was really neat. One of the Mushers said that we could pet her dogs if we wanted. Then once we didn't move she said, "Let me rephrase, GO pet my dogs."

A sled dog at the start of the Iditarod

 

A sled coming into the finish line of the ceremonial start.

 

Hard Working – Week 11

     Elder Mahler and I have been getting out and working hard. Great it has been. We had twenty lessons this past week, and we are set to have even more this week. We should stay busy, which is good. One of the most spiritual lessons that I've had happened last week. We were visiting a sister that Elder Mahler and I hadn't met. She hadn't been to church in just ever since her husband died, (which was two years ago that day). I felt the spirit so strongly as we testified of the plan of salvation, and that she could be with her husband again. It was really neat.

     On Saturday, our entire zone had some service to do at the Special Olympics. We cheered on the competitors, and they loved that we showed our support. Now I, not being a cheering type of person, even did cheer and my voice got exceedingly hoarse.  But it was well worth it.

 

Promising Horizons – Week 12

     This past week we have had some amazing lessons. One with Sister Cummings (who is fantastic to teach by the way); another one with Jared where we read The Book of Mormon with him - Jared is loving it and moving towards his baptism date of April 11th. We also meet with Keegan a few times and firmed up some details regarding his baptism which is this Saturday.

     We have some great work lined up for Elder Mahler and me to go do. I'm very excited for this coming week. We have a Baptism, two more Lessons with Sister Cummings, lessons with many less actives, and in the midst of all of that; Tolkien Day!!!! Followed by my birthday, it should be a fantastic week!

 

Baptisms and Birthdays – Week 13

     This past week has been singularly great! We had some truly spiritual lessons, one Baptism, a Birthday, and Sickness. All contained in the space of one week. So this Saturday Keegan was baptized. It was great! It felt so good to watch the fruit of our efforts and of the Lord’s work to come to pass. I also got to give a talk about the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Then on Sunday I got be a part of his Confirmation. It was very uplifting.

     Two days before that, though, was my Birthday! I had a great Birthday. We had some lessons, one with Sister Cummings and a bunch of other people. It was truly a great day for the work of the Lord. Also, Sister Poulson (the Mission Secretary) and Sister Jacob (Another Senior Missionary) told me some great news. My Birthday Box had arrived at the Office and I could come pick it up.

     So, Elder Mahler and I went to go get the box. Unfortunately, we were too busy to have time to open it up until later that night. When I did open it I was joyously surprised at its contents. The socks were great and the Pajama bottoms were great too. Yesterday, the Library was closed and I got Firefly: The Game. It was so fun to play a board game with some other missionaries. The game itself is quite fun and will be a regular P-Day activity for a time.

     Sadly, on Sunday (and little bit on Saturday and Monday as well) I was sick with "the bug" as Sister Taylor (Our Mission Nurse) called it. Apparently, quite a few missionaries in the mission had caught whatever it is, and I also had caught it. I'm now mostly recovered and for the most part back to work. To quote from Firefly, "No power in the 'Verse can stop me!"

 

#LDSConf April 2015 – Week 14

     This past week has been great. We got our snow tires (studded tires) off; Elder Mahler went to the Doctor, Exchanges, Conference and more. So after emailing last Tuesday, we went on a temporary exchange so that I would not get our elderly investigator sick. Then we rested so that I could fully recover from the cold I had. The next day Elder Mahler went to talk to our Mission Nurse about a constant headache. She set up an appointment for Thursday for him.

     We had exchanges that day, so I went with our fearless District Leader, Elder Dickson. We saw Jared and Sister Gore. They have both come so far from when I first met them. I love them and hope to see them Baptized soon. Elder Mahler has another appointment on Wednesday to get more information on the pain. Oh, Conference was great too.

     I loved Elder Ballard's talk and Also President Monson's during Priesthood Session. It was great, and I loved watching all the sessions at the Stake Center, definitely a different and enlightening experience for me. The spirit was so strong and I could feel the sincerity of the messages being delievered.

 

Collecting never stops – Week 15

     This week has been a neat experience. Elder Mahler's head has been hurting so bad a nap each day has been necessary in order for him to get through the day.  Therefore, work was a little slow this week. Sister Cummings is so close to being ready to be baptized. She has read through Enos of the book of Mormon, and she loves it. However, she just doesn't know that it is true yet. Hopefully she will soon though.

     However, on Friday things got a little interesting, at least for me. After his nap, Elder Mahler and I went to pick up my package from the mission office. It contained a shirt with a mechanical drawing of an AT-AT Imperial Walker on it. Then later, at some service, we were helping a member clean out junk from a storage unit of his, and I came across something really quite neat (at least to me.)

Star Wars: the Empire Strikes Back Atari Game Box

     While moving boxes, I found the box to the Atari game of Star Wars the Empire Strikes Back. I asked if I could have the box, since he was getting rid of a whole bunch of junk, and the member said that I could have it. The Box is now sitting on my desk, holding the pictures that mom has sent me. Also, we got Transfer Calls on Friday. It turns out that Elder Mahler and I will be Staying in O'Malley for another six weeks. I'm very excited, he is a great teacher and a an example to me, and I love serving with him, so these next few weeks should be awesome!

 

The End of Training – Week 16

     This past week has been pretty good, a little slow on the missionary work but overall not bad at all. Transfer Meeting went really well, and Elder Mahler and I are really looking forward to spending another six weeks together. On Wednesday, we got a nice surprise. Sister Cummings agreed to get baptized, and she wants to get baptized this Saturday.  It is so exciting to see someone commit to follow Christ’s example and accept his Atonement into their lives.

     Also on Wednesday we met Kiona. Kiona wanted to go to an English-Speaking unit as opposed another language unit even though most of his family attends a language unit which is why we came into contact with him. He wants to start coming back to Church, he is such a cool guy and I can tell that his desire to come back is real. He came to Sacrament this Sunday; oh missionary work is so exciting!

 

Retrospective – Interlude

     At the end of my formal training as a missionary, I had much to be thankful for. Even though I had many more months to go, I still felt as though the first milestone of the mission had been reached. There was still much to learn and I am grateful for my chance to serve in Alaska. I am grateful for my family and their support throughout my mission. I am grateful for my friends and the people who cared about me. I have had so many experiences and it seems nearly impossible to share them all.

     Thanks to everyone who made my mission the best.

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