Monday, October 24, 2016

Rhyme Battles

Myths Have the Best Weird Shit

Lately I have been listening to the wonderful "Myths and Legends" podcast while driving or doing computer work. One thing that is in every episode is a monster of the week, usually very weird and obscure folkloric creatures and spirits from across the world. As I listen I have been trying to jot down the good and juicy bits, as any good DM scavenges.

Folklore and myth have always been my main inspirations, especially the super raw/original stuff (Brothers Grimm, not Disney), and this a wonderful way to go through a large catalog of material that is already digested and usable.

The Blue Men of Minch

A group of mythological mermen that haunt the channel between the mainland of Scotland and the Outer Hebrides islands, they hunt ships in bad weather and swim like dolphins. But get this, before they get to attack their leader shouts out two lines of verse and the master of the ship must try and answer with two lines that rhyme. If the captain cannot keep rhyming the Blue Men get to sink the ship.

The classic exchange goes like this:
Blue Chief: Man of the black cap what do you say As your proud ship cleaves the brine? 
Skipper: My speedy ship takes the shortest way And I'll follow you line by line 
Blue Chief: My men are eager, my men are ready To drag you below the waves 
Skipper: My ship is speedy, my ship is steady If it sank, it would wreck your caves.
So basically you can save your ship from being attacked by mermen if you beat their chief in a rap battle. That's awesome and gameable.
"Oooooooooh, you got served"

The Merfolk and the Origins of Poetry

(Largely prompted by Arnold K's post on mermaids and giving monsters conflicting/complex motives)

In Ages past there was a lonely island rising out of Ánemos' Sea, little more than a spire of craggy stone. A man and his wife were sailing by, when their small sloop was scuttled on some shallow reefs. Crying out in anguish they clung to the rocks as the surf beat around them and they hear a small but clear voice answer their cries. "Hold your breath and dive beneath the waves! Trust me, I will shelter you in my caves!" The man and his wife did as they were told and dove, finding themselves in calm water and a large cave that they had not seen.

And so Várdana, the Queen of Poetry, was born along with her first believers deliverance. Though the island was small and rugged, Várdana protected her children and saw that they prospered by learning to work with the long flexible stalks of Nunu and how to build on the rugged cliffs of the island.

Centuries past and Várdana's children had made a home on the small island.They practiced poetry and prayer in the same breath, and she sent her children into the world to soften the speech of Ánemos. These wondering poet/priests became know as the Várdini, and they wore their gift of poetry upon their robes stitched into the very fabric. Everything they said was in perfect rhyming couplet, and they spread far and wide gathering the great stories and histories of the world.

A particularly beautiful Vardini came upon the Mageocracy of the Mágos-King of Histria. She was welcomed into his court and asked to recited for them. She told them many stories that night, but the King only wanted to bed her. She spurned him and fled his island, and in a wrath the Mágos-King of Histria flew as a great pelican to the island of Várdana and scooped it up with his great bill and flew high into the sky where he dropped the island and all of its inhabitants into the Vardic Chanel.

As a dying gift to her children Várdana changed them into the Merfolk we know today. To honor their dead mother they are still the best poets in Ánemos and their capital city still lies in the deepest stretch of the Vardic Chanel. Their sisters, the Vardini are now a homeless sect of clerics to a dead God, and they still wander the world reciting poetry, but now they also spread hope for the common man and subvert cruel governments and wizards alike.

In summary:
Merfolk are the best poets ever and they want to wreck your ship, so you have to rap battle them for it.

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