Geek Etymology – Drow and Dark Elves

Time to have another crack at looking at the origins of geeky terminology. This time I’ll be looking at where the ‘Drow’ came from, as well as taking this as an opportunity to look at where the concept of a ‘Dark Elf’ originates and how the two terms came to be linked.

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First of all we should establish what the current understanding of the term ‘Drow’ is. The Drow are a fantasy race that are dark skinned, usually white-haired, and share most other characteristics with other Elves. They are generally depicted as being evil and living deep underground, and having an affinity for dark magic, stealth, and spiders. The D&D 5th Edition Player’s Handbook says of them:
“Descended from an earlier subrace of dark-skinned elves; the drow were banished from the surface world for following the goddess Lolth down the path to evil and corruption.”
As I mentioned, the Drow are also referred to as ‘Dark Elves’, a term that is used far more widely than ‘Drow’, which is mostly limited to Dungeons & Dragons and things that take inspiration directly from it. There are Dark Elves in many other fantasy settings, including The Elder Scrolls, Warhammer, Kingdoms of Amalur, and the ‘Night Elves’ of Warcraft share a resemblance.
Continue reading “Geek Etymology – Drow and Dark Elves”

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My Top 5 Actual Play RPG Podcasts

If you like RPGs, but can rarely get a group together to play, or even have yet to try one, then you may be able to scratch the roleplaying itch with an ‘actual play’ podcast. This is essentially just a recording of someone’s RPG session, rather than something scripted or otherwise retold, hence ‘actual play’.

These kind of podcasts can be really useful to give you ideas and even show you a good example of what playing an RPG is like if you’ve never had the chance. Before I started playing RPGs several years ago I looked for something to show me how it’s done and I stumbled across an actual play podcast called ‘Critical Hit’ from majorspoilers.com, and that gave me a pretty good idea of D&D 4th Edition, which is what I started with. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them now, as I haven’t listened to them in over 5 years, but you can find all the podcasts at their website HERE. They are still going to this day.

High Rollers D&D
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The first I would really recommend on my list, in no particular order, isn’t technically a podcast, but more of a Twitch stream and youtube series, but it can be easily converted to audio. This is High Rollers D&D, done by a few people from the Yogscast from Youtube. Continue reading “My Top 5 Actual Play RPG Podcasts”

4 Tiny RPGs Good for a One-shot

There are a lot of RPGs out there that contain a lot of words and rules and stuff.  I know that a good system of rules and setting info can really structure a game and give you something to sink your teeth into, but it can sometimes be freeing to get rid of everything but the bare essentials; the DM, the players, and the premise. This is especially true when you just want a quick game at short notice, or a one shot.

Because this games don’t have a lot of structure to work around and build on, they could potentially be a bit difficult for an inexperienced DM to run, especially if they aren’t fairly confident with their improvisation skills. However, with the right DM I think these games can show off the silly fun that can be had with an RPG in a far more easy to digest way for newer players. Rather than giving someone the impression that RPGs are all about numbers, loot, and killing things, these games show off the side of RPGs that are about teamwork, inventive problem solving, and just having fun by telling stories with friends!  Continue reading “4 Tiny RPGs Good for a One-shot”

To Bard or Not to Bard? 121 Guide on How to be The Cool Kid with thyne Lute

This is something that bothers me endlessly, and lately there has been a few conversations or situations where the topic has come up and I’ve really decided to put my foot down for once and for all. It is no surprise in the geek circles I move, bards always get all the crap thrown down their way – ALL the memes in the internet are about bards did or didn’t. Bards are useless characters. Bards can’t fight. They can’t think either, cause you know, apparently the only stat they know how to use is something charisma related and sometimes not even that. Bards are no good in social situations, they certainly are not made for politics, or war…God damn it, so What Are Bards Good For?! :0

Well, guess what?! The true answer is EverythingIF you know how to use them.

It all comes down with how people play games, and how many, many people choose to play bards cause they think it would be cool and adventurous…or that is what they tell their mates. In reality these people ain’t got a clue and would just try to see if they can get away with the rock star behaviour, cause that seems like a legit enough connection to reality. This is the way everyone’s idea of a bard in an RPG looks a bit like Assurancetourix (which for some bizarre reason in the UK is called Cacofonix?! missing the joke btw, cause in French the name sounds like assurance tout risque o assurance tous risques – an all risk cover on your insurance policy…But hey…).

Admit it: you are the kind of horrible human being that just laughed and thought of a friend because of the many, many times something like that has happened in-game. Well let me tell you, if that how you think this works, you don’t know how to rock n roll – which for sure means you immediately do not qualify for the job!

Continue reading “To Bard or Not to Bard? 121 Guide on How to be The Cool Kid with thyne Lute”

Geek Etymology – Mana

Today I bring you the next post of Geek Etymology! If you missed my first steps into the past of our favourite geeky terminology then take a look here!

This time I will be tackling the mysterious origins of the word that we give to the power source of wizards and spellcasters, the very essence of magic: Mana! It’s in our name so I thought it was the obvious next choice. Unlike with the Paladin last time, there is far less actual etymology to follow with the evolution of the word, so I won’t be going down much of a rabbit hole this time. The origins of this word are however still rather interesting and maybe unexpected.

mana_potions_by_isaac77598-d6pxj8c Continue reading “Geek Etymology – Mana”

Geek Etymology – The Paladin

Have you ever noticed a recurring word that’s used commonly among various geeky things? It could be a piece of terminology you see only in roleplaying games, or perhaps a word that has been appropriated and changed for use in fantasy or sci-fi settings. I come across a few of these, and I always wonder where they come from, so here I’m going to explore them with Geek Etymology!

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To start with I thought it would be appropriate for me to look into the origins and evolution of the word ‘Paladin’. As most of my friends will tell you, I usually end up playing a paladin or similar character in RPGs, and I also go for a paladin style in other games such as Magic: The Gathering. To be honest it is probably this word alone that got me to think of looking into the origins of words used in RPGs and other geeky stuff, but once I started to look around I found many others that warrant some research.

Before we look into the past of the paladin, let’s see what it means to us today. Although there are some other minor uses, the primary way we see the term used is to describe a fantasy character, either in a narrative sense, or a mechanical sense as the character’s ‘class’. They are usually characterized as a holy warrior who fights for the forces of good against evil, usually heavily armoured, wielding a shield and some holy magic and healing ability. As of today you’ll find the word most closely linked to Dungeons & Dragons, but also plenty of other RPGs which were influenced by D&D, as well as many Videogames. Continue reading “Geek Etymology – The Paladin”

Really Cool Awesome Chat with Nic & Stack from Owlman Press!

Today we bring you an interview with our good friends from Owlman Press Nic & Stack. Here they will tell you a bit about themselves, their company and projects, which are all very exciting. You have already heard about their work in this space from our review of Skum of the Stars -Skum of the Stars Review

It is thanks to their game that we met and we want to share their awesomeness with you – so hook up 🙂

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Dear Stack and Nic, please first of all could you tell our readers, how did Owlman Press get to be? Could you explain to them a bit of your background as individuals and how this all ties in together? What are your roles?

Nic: I was raised on a farm in rural New South Wales. I grew up with a lot of Western movies and developed from a young age a love of the genre. As I grew older, I really wanted to make my own. That said, for someone who grew up wanting to write the area near us didn’t cater to many interests. It was either football or fishing (there was also tennis, but that was for the weird people). Writing certainly wasn’t one. So, I pretty much felt lost all the time, unable to explore my interests until I discovered that the nearby town had a comic store. There I discovered roleplay games in the form of Deadlands: The Weird West. My first experience playing was as the Game Master and I quickly found that the role gave me a vehicle to tell stories and develop writing skills in a way that I just didn’t have access to anywhere else.  Again, after playing that for a bit I really wanted to make my own. By the time I was doing my PhD, examining the role of Tonto in the Lone Ranger, I’d consumed enough Westerns and a wide enough array of games to get a sense of what I both wanted to do and do differently with both. My first game, Frankenstein Atomic Frontier, really started as a vehicle for me to both – write westerns and roleplay games. Owlman Press came out of that.

In terms of roles, Stack and myself often initiate concepts jointly, talking about them back and forth. I typically flesh them out into actual background and add the rules. Stack manages the “public profile” side of things for our games along with managing the contacts and so forth. She is also the quality control, reading over everything to make sure it’s up to scratch. We also have great body of friends who help us develop our concepts and come around regularly to play. If you look in our books, you’ll see the same names popping up over and over again.

Stack: So, I grew up in a couple of small country town called firstly Clunes and then Scarsdale both of which are several hundred kilometres away from where Nic grew up. I enjoyed reading and writing from a young age as well as sports such as Roller Hockey until I experienced a sporting injury which has caused life-long complications and a chronic pain condition. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do once I finished high school. All I knew was that I really loved circus/sideshow and writing. So I enrolled into a professional writing and editing degree which is where I met Nic. I hadn’t played any table top RPG type games till I met him so a whole new world was opened up to me at that point. After we started dating we started several projects together, various magazines with other writers, a local writers group nothing really stuck, and eventually Owlman Press sort of developed out of these experiences, and as the games developed further. I look after the social media side of things mostly cause I’m a internet junkie and edit everything developed through Owlman.

I deferred my writing degree several times over the years as we grew our family – being a stay at home Mum for six years while Nic studied his PhD. I eventually went back and finished the final units to attain my writing degree in 2014 (three kids later!) I considered going onto BA Honours but personal experiences helped me find a new passion in women’s healthcare and pregnancy and birthing rights. So now I find myself studying nursing which I’m loving.  

I guess this is just a fancy way of asking, how did you guys get to be so cool?! Because you are parenting, working, researching, making games, photography…I mean, do you guys sleep?! It takes some pretty special kind of people to get going what you have – apart from the fact that as people you two are just Cool, nice and pretty awesome. What is your secret? Do you struggle? We all know it is hard for independent creative people like yourselves to keep things going.

Nic: How did I get to be this cool? Easy – I do what every other cool Australian does. I hunt and kill a Dropbear every morning before sunrise, and then eat it for breakfast. Science and other sources show that eating a Dropbear is guaranteed to make you cooler. In all seriousness, however, I’m going to take the first part of that question as a compliment. I’m honestly just following my passions.

Continue reading “Really Cool Awesome Chat with Nic & Stack from Owlman Press!”