Friday, September 29, 2017

Furt Digs Into Tequendria: Fantastical Roleplaying by Scott Malthouse.

Well, here goes nothing. I've decided to try a sporadic series of reviews that don't actually use a rating system or come with any kind of deep, profound experience with the subject material at hand. I just really like whatever I've found, and I wanna share it with others.

As my first random not-review, I've chosen Tequendria: Fantastical Roleplaying by Scott Malthouse, published by Trollish Delver Games. It is a Pay What You Want PDF with the very forgiving suggested price of $3 USD. I picked this book up from the DriveThru a couple of months ago for $1, because that was literally all I had left in my bank account at the time. But after having read through it, I will absolutely go back and do justice to the product.

Tequendria is a world of weird fantasy inspired by the writings of the equally weird Lord Dunsany. If that name doesn't ring any bells, he was an early influence on the writings of HP Lovecraft. If that name doesn't ring any bells, I don't know what to say to you. While certainly not dark or cosmically horrific in any way, it's a quirky sort of fantasy with its roots in the pre-Tolkien world of fiction and poetry. There are many small gods with odd jobs throughout the world, travelers and outlanders are strange curiosities, and the grand, cosmic scheme of things rests upon the long but finite slumber of the Dunsanian over-god, MANA-YOOD-SUSHAI

(Here's where I give my major complaint about the setting given the established willingness to include Dunsanian deities: there is a distinct lack of Skarl the Drummer, who is my favorite being from The Gods of Pegāna. Other than that tiniest of obsessive quibbles, all is good.)

It's a world where magic is uncommon and sometimes untrustworthy. There are however ancient crypts to delve into and monster-filled wilderness to explore, and so the makings of a classic adventure as we might know it do present themselves. Just don't expect to amass thousands of gold Shards according to level or have guaranteed magic items and +5 Weapons or Armor while doing so. The geographic regions and place names are all deliberately exotic in that old-timey and charmingly English sort of way, with perhaps my favorites being the Plains of Khartoov, and The Pits of Snood.

Mechanically, the game runs on the so-called Unbelievably Simple Roleplaying (USR) System. It is indeed simple, with characters being defined by a mere three attributes, skill bonuses called Specialisms, and the unique Ability and other background elements provided by the Character Archetype chosen upon creation.

The Archetypes available run a wide range of options that help to make each character feel like an outsider in their own world, such as Celador Knights who have taken a strict vow of silence, Long Wizards who stand at over 8ft tall and smoke copious amounts of crushed drake horn, or a lonely little Ember Goblin who just wants friends that don't die in lava.

Three guesses as to which is my favorite. The first two guesses don't count.

Non-combat challenges not dealt with via roleplay are done through Contested and Non-Contested Attribute Tests.

Contested tests involve two opposed actors, such as foot racers. Whoever rolls higher in an Attribute test, wins the test.

Non-Contested tests are for one actor and some force or obstacle which lacks agency, like climbing a gorge. Rather than beating another roll, the character tries to meet or exceed a Target Number, not unlike D&D rolls vs DC. Specialisms come into play here, providing bonuses to one's roll if it's the right type of action. There are no combat specialisms.

Combat functions like a series of Contested attribute tests, with combatants rolling defensively or offensively. The system takes several cues from D&D staples, such as the standard Movement Speed of characters being 30 feet, and being able to make Defensive maneuvers to get a small boost to attack avoidance that turn. But there are various situational modifiers which can complicate battle, such as having the higher ground or one combatant tripping the other. A list of Conditions exists as well, from the benign state of being in Cover, to being Hypnotized, Unconscious, or worse. 

When characters level, they gain hit dice and a bonus equal to 1/2 their levels for various combat rolls, with the exception of damage- the amount of Hits you'll be taking away from an enemy is almost always dependent upon your spell or weapon. This creates a situation where (in my imagination, not having played the game yet) low-level combat can be very lethal to those who are unwary of two d6 attacks in a row. At the same time, high-level play doesn't fall into the trap of combat being a long slog because of everyone having massive hit point pools and comparatively small means of damage. Players and monsters alike are capped at level 10, so death always remains a risk- even for the god or two detailed in the Creatures of Tequendria chapter.

Magic is decidedly unlike more mainstream RPG systems in that everyone casts from Hit Points. As I read through this section, I got both fond and terrible flashbacks to my time playing through the Sorcery! adventure book series by Steve Jackson Game's Fighting Fantasy property. Magic is also a lot more volatile, with casting failures being possible without any outside threats or distractions, though mercifully a fizzled cast doesn't drain your life. Critical casting failures are not so kind, however.

The PDF is 78 pages in total from cover to last page, though 24 of those pages are dedicated to a chapter on Selected Works of Lord Dunsany himself. There are three short stories included, and they each do an excellent job of adding to the feeling and themes of the book. For people who have never read anything Dunsanian and don't know up to that point whether the inspiration is genuinely there in Tequendria, these stories may serve to "legitimize" and confirm it.

I noticed that there were very few pages of nothing but text (aside from the stories mentioned above), as every few columns of information are broken up by small, thematically appropriate images. The 12-point font is standard and the spacing is good, making it difficult to skip over lines or accidentally reread something, if your brain is the type to do that (mine is).

The artwork in this book is quite a mix, but all of it is pleasant. Black and white sketch-styled pieces such as the cover image predominate, but there are also several muted or full-color illustrations throughout. They variously evoke the art styles of 1970s D&D manuals, 19th century watercolors, medieval tapestries, or Dante's Inferno engravings. I also spied a few pieces of modern and seemingly public domain art, such as one of a Flying Polyp (this game has Lovecraft references as well!). But whether the book is a mix of art sources or just very judiciously selected from the internet, it's well-put-together.

All in all, this book is quite nice, and a steal at the gentle asking-price of $3. I would highly recommend checking it out if Dunsanian fantasy is something you're interested in checking out for a small change of pace.

I also think that one could homebrew a pretty sweet Hyperborean campaign out of this, if more chilly and barbaric settings of a Clark Ashton Smith flavor are more to your liking.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Things I Wish They Did More With #1: The Garif of FFXII.

Figured I'd break the silence with an odd one this time around, as well as begin a series of occasional out-of-character (out-of-narrative?) posts where I write about what I think of various fantasy thingies.

The premise of this particular series will be to take a look at something that is by itself a very minor part of a larger story, whether it be campaign setting, video game, or film, and then discuss the woeful lack of lore or screen time spent on X.

Or in this case, XII. Because I want to ramble on about something in Final Fantasy 12.

But not this guy.

I never finished this game because my GameFly subscription was about to end and I was out of allowance money for the month, but I spent enough time in the world of Ivalice to find my favorite location, in the form of Bancour. It's an underpopulated region of plains and flatlands which none of the major world powers in Ivalice have taken an interest in, beyond the Henne Mines which are known to contain magic rocks. More on those later. More importantly right now, Bancour was the region within which stretched the Ozmone Plains.

Pictured: Not a geographer's best definition of a plain.

Ignoring for a moment the fact that the "plains" are just as craggy, segmented, and broken up by hills and tiny mountain ranges as any other traversable map in the game, I'm still very fond of this zone. The weather changes from sunny to cloudy to rainy and back periodically, the skybox is simple yet pretty, and the foliage just faintly hints at something of an African savanna belt inspiration. Ruined old structures and strange rock formations jut out of the ground here and there, suggesting that the place has seen a fair share of violent history. It's peaceful, without being empty or boring- assuming you stay the hell away from the Sylphi Entite on your first run through the place. Aeroga hurts on top of Silence and Sleep effects.

At the far edge of the Ozmone Plains rests a fenced-in village built in and around what I never could determine to be either a ditch, or a dried-up riverbed. But given that the land immediately around the village is much drier than that of the surrounding plains, I think there might have been a drought which didn't receive mention in-game. The village was located upon one of the elevated areas of ground, so that it had several levels, several of them connected by wide bridges. This is the village of Jahara.

Within this village are members of a fascinating species named the Garif. The Garif are powerfully built, broad-shouldered with long arms and patches of what might be reddish-brown fur here and there across their bodies. I say "might" because they wear leather and hide clothing in the classically patchy and impractical fashion of all Final Fantasy humanoids, so it is a bit difficult to determine where the clothing ends and the skin begins. They are also tall, taller than adult Humes/humans by about a head, even while they are stand with the ever-present hunches in their backs, possibly caused by their opulent headgear.

Unless those are real horns. Again, it's hard to tell.

The Garif are each given masks imbued with personal and cultural significance at a very young age, and they wear them for their entire lives, only ever removing them when alone, or in private with extremely close or intimate companions. Because of this, and my party's lack of interest in going native and dwelling among the Garif for several years instead of dealing with that Empire of Archadia or whatever the heck it was called, I never got to see what they look like beneath all of that paint and carved bone. The Garif also live sex-segregated, with men and women typically occupying entirely different villages. As such we never see a female Garif, much the same way we don't male Viera.

The Garif seem to organize and orient themselves around a tribal hierarchy of chiefs and sub-chiefs. The Great-Chief and leader of the Jahara Garif is one Uball-ka marked by his truly giant and ornate mask, but underneath him there are also several Low-Chiefs, and at least one current and one retired War-Chief. The former War-Chief had to retire after receiving serious injuries in battle, suggesting that the positions are not held for life. We can only guess at how chiefs are chosen, however. But because the new War-Chief was brother to the old, it wouldn't be far-fetched to speculate that the roles are passed down familially, and sometimes laterally.

To the Garif, the land is sacred. Their religious matters are guided by geomancers, and it is refreshing to say that "-mancer" is more accurately used here than in other fantasy contexts- although I don't doubt that a Garif geomancer could unleash a wicked Quake spell if he had to. Recall the magical rocks I mentioned back at the beginning of this ramble? In Ivalice, those are called Magicite, which are to Ivalice what Dragonshards are to Eberron: multipurpose crystalline objects that can be extracted from the earth and used to power magic, magical technology, or magic-users. The Garif however do not use them as power sources, or as weapons, unlike virtually every other sentient species on the planet. They merely worship these stones, and the gods which they believe them to be representative of.

This is because the Garif are so singularly dedicated to upholding their Old Ways of technological simplicity and closeness to the earth, that they wouldn't manipulate those powers in order to become a major player in the world. They never appear, but there are said to be many tribes of Garif, and all of them united could be a powerful force indeed. But that isn't their way, and no one has been able to convince them differently- not even their own gods, who are otherwise very successful in manipulating people with the promise of power or greatness.

I won't say anymore on that last point in case any of my Burrowers intend to play the game and have a spoiler-free experience. Although that game was released in 2006, so... you might want to get a move-on with that.

The Final Fantasy Wiki, which I've been ruthlessly gutting for every shred of information I can find as I write, includes in its Trivia section the possibility that the Garif may have been based off of the real life, multi-ethnic Garifuna people. I would say that's an extreme stretch, beyond the similarities in the name itself, and the possible West African or Afro-Caribbean influences on Garif personal names such as Kadalu, Sugumu, or Yugelu. Nothing in their material culture or mode of living strikes me as similar, and it is more likely in my mind that it was just a coincidence- the same way I inadvertently named the sadistic healing deity Najis after a state of ritual impurity found in Islamic jurisprudence.

All in all, I think the Garif are fascinating. Which sucks, because everything I've typed thus far is the entirety of what they were used for. They haven't appeared in any subsequent Ivalice-centered games to my knowledge, not even the Tactics series where other species have subsequently been made playable like the rotund and porcine Seeq. Not even the in-game lore-collecting Clan Primer which allows you to gain pages of info on background material and monsters you've fought (including one respawning Garif Adventurer) offers any more insights into the Garif, because after the first rudimentary entry about them the series gets swept up in a completely unrelated fable about a dragon picking a fight with God.

That's all a shame, because I believe that a Garif protagonist, even if he or she were just a one-off party member or traveling NPC, could offer a really different point of view on the fustercluck of a world that they live in.

I can see why they haven't figured more prominently, though. They stand out, physically and culturally, in such a way that doesn't exactly make Final Fantasy hero material, and within the context of Final Fantasy 12's storyline itself, the role of secluded, naturalistic, and vaguely elf-like wise folk was taken up and carried on by Fran's Viera buddies in Eruyt Village.

Still, one of them being in the main cast would have been better than being stuck with Vaan.

You should have died instead of Reks!

*Edit* Wiki link for your perusal.

Also added more on chiefs.

Aaand I forgot to include the Clan Primer bit.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Hylek's Hundreds, Part 1.

"The Hundreds stand high, unbowed and unbreakable!"
- A common rallying chant of the Hundreds.

"Tens of thousands, alike but better, have fallen before us. What chance have you?"
- Acting Commander Fextaenius, to the free-bodied masterminds of the Rioter's Syndrome Rebellion at Ul-Qib. They had precisely no chance at all.

"Hah! You think a knife in the heart will kill me? They tried that already, you churl; it doesn't work!"
- Dornarseh, Breacher-Captain of the Forlorn Heap Hundred.

It would be naive of me to assume that the entirety of my (admittedly limited) readership has not heard at least a handful of the tales passed down from generation to generation about the exploits and deeds of the legendary mercenary company known as Hylek's Hundreds. But I would be remiss not to offer at least a cursory overview of their history for the sake of outsiders, the uninformed, and those who might stumble upon this record in a day when they have passed from memory, inconceivable as that sounds and has sounded for the past four hundred years.

Hylek's Hundreds are said by the archives at both Deneroth and Nambar to have been founded in 124 P.R. by the eponymous Gertisch-Haraalian warrior Hylek. Physical evaluation records recently recovered in Serminwurth support this, giving the names of several high-profile and particularly exquisite specimens among the Hundreds dated to 109 P.R. Hylek drew upon the masses of soldiers left unemployed by the conclusion of the Third and final Trade War, which had escalated to the point of wide-scale mobilization of armed ground forces alongside the more typical naval powers which had more-or-less carried the last two conflicts along. As a result of this, the original composition of each Hundred was culturally and ethnically varied, though most tended to hail from the lower classes of Ersuunian society- independent officers from moneyed families tended to have far easier times landing peacetime careers in many parts of the empire following the War.

Beyond these few concrete facts--Hylek's first decades of activity and the original Hundreds--little else is known that doesn't read like fantasy and propaganda, even coming from the most reputable of sources. The Hundreds, always numbering ten such miniature legions and totaling one thousand soldiers beside captains, adhere to this magic number rigidly. To the point that they give the impression of their members' immortality. Each morning after even a savage battle, the ranks remain perfectly filled with the same number of men as had been preparing to fight the day before. Even in the most inhospitable of environments, bereft of a baggage train or follower camp, these spontaneous reinforcements seem to find a way- if they are reinforcements at all. None of the Hundreds are ever known to suffer disease or malnutrition, both known as sometimes supreme killers of soldiers everywhere. The remarkable physical condition each member of the Hundred showed, even from the earliest days, was what led to those valuable examination files being recorded by the morbidly fascinated bodily experts at Serminwurth.

Only, it is difficult to disprove these heroic myths. Even under the supremely close surveillance of onlookers drawn from miles around to watch the few battles which the Hundreds are contracted for, not a one in his distinctive blue uniform and armor has ever been found among the dead or gravely wounded. They come up clean, year after year, as the victories unfurl before them, and in the history of their entire company, not a single retired member has ever been encountered, or even recognized as a possibility. There are even academics among the much-reduced intellectual class of Meroth who believe that Hylek still leads the company in private, despite necessarily being several centuries old by this point.

Even now, we are to believe that he contributes to the undying legacy of the Hundreds as moral soldiers of fortune, only ever supporting the cause of those whom they deem righteous. According to tradition, the current face of the company, one Fextaenius of Porylus Mons, bluntly refuses each proposal made to them. Then, the perpetually-wandering host departs with all haste, leaving the prospective employer in their dust. In most cases, that is that. But in the rarer instances where one ultimately succeeds, it is only after repeated and spectacular efforts are made to catch up with the Hundreds once more, pleading more dearly each time than the last, until at last the person in question is moved to give a rousing speech which can adequately extol the virtue of their mission and all which it stands for. Only then does the hidden Hylek reveal himself, and give his word. In an unusually large percentage of contract records dug up from the Coin-Keepers of Abbas, the spontaneous omen of three eagles appearing before the would-be hero bearing olives and arrows is recorded no less than fourteen times within the span of forty years.

Everything surrounding Hylek and his men is unnervingly perfect and made for the grandest of narratives and praise-poems, and I cannot find a single piece of evidence to bring these miraculous accomplishments into question.

Which is precisely why I believe them to be miracles.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Gender & Family in the Fokari Tribes.

"What should we name her, when the day comes? She needs a beautiful name to grow into."
"How about Alyah?"
"After your aunt? She had a nose like a falcon's beak! Better to choose Golnaj, in honor of my mother..."
"You mean the one whose face is like a salt flat?"
- Fokari parents bantering over the cradle of their newborn.

Generally speaking, there are two genders among the Fokari. These are male and female, and again generally speaking, each of these genders encompasses a broad range of roles, customs, and expectations for those included within it. The most visible example of the sexual division of roles in a Fokari tribe is the existence of the Speaker and Seer. The former, a tribal archivist and overseer of youths within various age groups, is always male, while the latter, the preeminent or sole shaman of the community, is always female. This lines up somewhat appropriately with the general Fokari worldview of dualism and differing halves. But there are more divisions of labor less ritualized than either Speaker or Seer, and there are many more scenarios where these spheres may overlap in daily life.

Women are the commodity powerhouses of sorts in each family, weaving, felting, doing needle-work, and more rarely woodworking or clay-making, when available plant matter and water permits. Men will scrimshaw, tan hides or process meat, or work metal in exceedingly rare cases, but they more often attend to hunting and the maintenance of the tools relevant to it. War is ideally a male affair, but then again war is ideally avoided whenever possible, and pragmatism often calls on all to defend kith, kin, and yuum herds. Both men and women may tend to the tribe's herds, often in larger numbers of shepherds per animal head than in cultures where the use of domesticated horses is common. These house industries are overseen by the elder married couple of each family, with active parents generally exempt from the most rigorous and time-consuming projects unless a grandparent can manage their children for them.

Fertility and the bearing of children is not a private matter for families in a Fokari tribe. Because of the fluctuating access to resources common on the wasteland fringes, the family heads and other elders try to maintain a certain population range from generation to generation, encouraging marriage and reproduction here or discouraging it there. The range has initially soft limits at either end, but the sudden and severe under-or-overpopulation of a tribe's territory can lead to either voluntary assimilation into another band, or the cleaving-off of groups into new tribes. Allegations of adultery arising from unexpected children are dealt with in the same discreet manner as other disputes, with a mish'khiltah rarely ever being needed. Couples who plan for a single child and receive twins or triplets are celebrated as being gifted by the spirits despite the extra burden, but couples who do not limit themselves after multiple instances of childbearing face social stigma of varying severity, mother and father alike. The exposure of newborns is rare due to an association with blood-guilt, but it is not an unheard-of practice. Children who are both needed and desired must still survive the challenging first two years of life before having a celebrated and official name-day.

Being one of the few hereditary roles in Fokari life, chieftainship is passed down from parent to selected heir. As a general rule, the chieftain selects their youngest adult child of the opposite sex who is unmarried, in the belief that this will ensure the new chief's full dedication to their duties, as well as prevent a dynasty of personality from forming through successive generations of fathers and sons or mothers and daughters. Of course succession does not always come to pass in this way, either because of fate, or by personal choice of the chieftain.

Marriage may still occur when children are unneeded, and there is nothing to stop a married couple from constructing their own tent and living together within it. But a low fertility does not mean that infertile or discouraged couples are forever without children. Attrition and challenges to life expectancy are found at all age ranges, and in the event that a youth is orphaned of both parents, or a nuclear family unit is overwhelmed with needs, a foster pair may take them in. These foster parents are typically of the same extended family through one side or the other, so it is not uncommon for these children to be raised by aunts, uncles, or cousins. Often, these foster parents are couples which include one nyaak partner.

Literally meaning "mirrored", a nyaak Fokar is one who identifies and behaves as the gender opposite of the one they were born into. In mythic traditions held by many tribes, they are the result of a spirit being incorrectly clothed in flesh during the movement from the spirit realm to the physical world. A Fokar cannot identify as nyaak until they are of the age to be able to complete the adulthood rituals typical for all members of the tribe. But after that point and upon completion of these events, they are treated in accordance with their truer, unfleshed self. A male is for all intents and purposes a woman, and vice versa. From a certain sociological perspective, couples including one nyaak serve to limit population growth somewhat, and so they are valued as naturally-occurring moderators despite their rarity in the tribes overall. In this way a dualistic binary is maintained, but a mode of transportation between the two points is made available.

Friday, September 8, 2017

A Lowlander's Gloss of the Rise & Fall of the Pach-Pah Empire, Part 1.

Click here to view Part 2 on the Pach-Pah Empire.

"You people price chipped rocks for almost half as much as a silver and turquoise brooch!"
"No one was murdered or starved to deliver these finished "rocks" to you."
- Banter heard upon the traders' streets leading to Addas Bazaar, a place uncommonly reached by highland traders.

"Their guild-heads' tendency to collect and ship off to the regional capital the vast majority of each community's earnings is almost as confounding as each denizen's mighty enthusiasm to have it done."
- Jor Lertuul, A Travelogue of the Southern Reaches.

To the inhabitants of the enormous basin which makes up the purported heartland of the Ersuun-descended peoples, the distant Pashel mountain range to the south-by-southeast is no more grand than the closer Oron'er Range, but not nearly as tantalizing to those with a belief in the fantastic. It does not figure heavily in most local mythic traditions either, although a remarkable and compelling argument has been made in recent decades that the Pashels are one and the same as the legendary Yorl'di peaks which were said to cradle the folk-hero Haraal. This argument was formulated and contributed to extensively by our own late Berschut Groz, Head of the Department of Comparative Mythology.

May Our Eternal Scholar Laizij keep him in His vast libraries, forever favored and tenured.

Putting briefly aside the mythical (and I emphasize "briefly"), I believe it is in the interest of current geopolitical discourse to synthesize and appreciate the full scope of our records on the Pashels, particularly concerning the civilization which thrives there, and which has thrived for thousands of years already, separated from us by only a relatively few miles, plus several thousand feet of elevation.

To begin, a small linguistic observation is in order. To many of us northerners--or perhaps "lowlanders" is a more appropriate term in this context--the mountains are named the "Pashels" in each of six or seven language families, depending on how one treats the branching theory of Middle Misrel. But to the denizens of those mountains, they are named the Pach-Yul. Because of this I believe that all other variants are in fact derivative of that original term, which translates literally to "Land of the Earth".¹ Similarly, these mountains are inhabited by a remarkably homogeneous people self-identified as the Pach-Pah, or "People of the Earth". To others somewhat less sensitive to the realities of divergent humanoid polymorphism, they are often referred to by names and slurs derisive of their height (or lack thereof).

It is true that Pach-Pah (there is no difference between singular and plural forms of the name) tend toward short heights, relative to those of Ersuunian or Nambarish stock. In the absence of concrete statistical data, I must rely on anecdotal evidence that their people can have individuals of roughly four-and-a-half to five feet in height, with the former apparently treated as quite average and the latter having a very slight stigma for tallness.² But the Pach-Pah possess quite proportionate limbs despite their adaptations to the height and cold of their homeland, and with that I would like to discredit the vulgar assertions of their stuntedness or malformed nature which can be found within the libraries of our very own University. Short as they may be, they are men and women, as akin to us as the famously tall and hearty Reossos trailblazers of the east are. And might I add that some among the Pach-Pah may very well view us as goofy and aberrant in our height. Would you have these stereotypes persist and contribute to the regrettable gulf between our vigorous cultures?

The Pach-Pah lead diverse lives today, though their traditional mode of life was one of semi-permanent herding centered around several species of graceful and woolly (if hypersalivating) even-toed ungulates adapted to their precipitous and rocky home. This proud old tradition continues to exist and today, and its supplies the people with clothing, meat, and dairy products (including a certain cheesy alcohol fermented from them). Alongside these herders exist the remarkable vertical farmers of the lower slopes, whose history and immunity to a fear of heights is deserving of a volume all of their own. Other roles include trading, both internally and with outsiders, though the two are distinguished from one another by a system of barter and favor-keeping within, and a more traditional currency-based system without. There are also craftspersons dealing in a wide range of disciplines and materials. Each livelihood is both protected and regulated by fairly nebulous and permeable bodies of workers and administrators which may be glossed here as being trade guilds, though it should be noted that these groups combine vocation with heritage and bloodline in a way unseen in more local cities.

Stonework holds a special place in the culture of the Pach-Pah, for many of their dwellings are made of earthen material set partway into the ground as a means of enduring the coldest winters on the mountains. Smaller, finer types of stonework exist as well, with the cut and polish of sedimentary pebbles being said to rival the luster of a diamond.

These sayings are a somewhat dubious honor to the Pach-Pah craftspeople in question however, owing to their people's long and sordid history with precious metals and gemstones.

¹ This direct translation unfortunately lacks the rich and subtle connotations of each syllabic unit, which draw in suggestions of elevation, majesty, motherly nurturing, and proto-nationality.

² "Upon being dubbed "Inti the Tall" in good-natured jest, Inti the Diplomat reportedly punched Sornes of Meroth in the gut and demanded recompense while in the presence of his entourage, only to privately apologize to Sornes later on and explain that it was a matter of personal honor and familial dignity." Manjus Terg, Salvaged Records on Pre-Rupture Foreign Policy at Meroth and Deneroth, parchment 23.