Friday, April 25, 2014

Game: (Fair?) Weather Friends

Let us play a game. I'll make the rules up as we go along.

  1. Generate one random word (generator).
  2. List two people you know whose names start with that letter.
  3. These two people now have weather-based powers. Whether these are superpowers or the people are elemental spirits or have constructed weather-altering weapons is up to you. Describe these powers, what the person does with them, and from where they originated. The character can morph away from your friend however much you want.
  4. These two people get into a duel. Why are they fighting, how does the fight progress, and who wins? Use the original word you got as a jumping-off point.


I got the word "rebuilding," which made me think of the people Robert and Rachel.


Robert is a wizard who controls the wind. He is very tall and wears a magnificent blue cloak, embroidered with geometric figures and, at the edges, feathers. With this cloak he can fly long distances; though he has never attempted an ocean crossing, he can easily fly for eight to ten hours at a time.

He learned how to control the wind after years of hard study (begun when he was twelve) in the mountains with his mentor, the mysterious sorcerer known as Giovanni, who reportedly has visited hell. Giovanni loves the wind because it allows him to be free. Robert likes it because it gives him a different perspective of the world, letting him see how interconnected and vast everything is, and how small.

Robert uses his powers of wind to power turbines, which generate enough electricity for the four small villages in his area. He looks forward to taking on and training apprentices so that he will be able to fly farther away to conferences on magic held in the big universities farther south.


Rachel, by contrast, is a sun magician. She can also fly, but does so by turning into a large creature that looks like a cross between a phoenix and a dragon, with burnished bronze and golden scales, and startlingly blue eyes. One limitation on her powers is that she cannot fly, cannot even transform, during the night of new moon.

Sun dragon magic can only be gifted, not inherited or even truly studied. Rachel, an intrepid young girl, rescued a young dragon once when she was eight and quested with it to help it back to its true home in the Valleys of Sol. There the dragons took her in as one of their own, giving her the power to change her form.

In practice, her sun magic is mostly used in concentrated form at the forge, where she is now apprenticed to a blacksmith. (Despite being short and slim, Rachel is very strong. Dragons tend to be so.) The ores she smelts gain powerful properties, and in each tool she forges (she lives in a peaceful part of the world, and does not often need to make weapons) she puts one of her feathers. These wonderful tools have allowed the artisans of the district to attain great renown for their fine craftsmanship, and Rachel to grow rich on commission rates.


"Wizard Robert, you have to come quick!"

The wizard looked up from the letter he was writing to the president of the University of Analoum. "What is it?"

The boy--a scrawny shepherd with scabby knees--said, "It's a dragon! It's going to eat all the sheep!"

The wizard's wife, who had previously been absorbed in reading legal case studies, said, "My dear, you had better take a look at that."

Wizard Robert looked longingly at the letter, then sighed and stood up. "Lead the way."


The dragon, its scales a mosaic of glimmering metal tones, was circling lower and lower over the terrified flock. Wizard Robert could hear the distressed sheep baaaing from all the way at the bottom of the hill. He would not have time to climb up, so he spread out his blue cloak and muttered the incantation that made threads of light streak through, the geometric figures glowing and the feathers beginning to stir.

He ran forward and then leaped into the air. The wind caught him and the wizard soared upward, headed straight for the dragon.

It noticed him coming and narrowed its bright, sky-blue eyes. The color around its mouth began to rise--not good. Increasing temperature probably meant it was about to breathe fire--

Robert performed an elegant barrel roll and thus avoided the burst of flames that rippled by. He banked his wings and then threw a blast of wind at the dragon, which could not maneuver fast enough and careered backwards, its wings flapping mightily.

Contrary to their fierce appearance, dragons usually don't stick around once their prey has proved difficult to catch. Robert brushed some flecks of dust off his shoulder and congratulated himself on a job well done--

And then reeled, as the sunlight reflected unnaturally bright off the returning dragon's scales and blinded him. He threw up his arms to block the glare.

So of course he couldn't dodge the dragon's tail, which whipped into his side with alarming force. Robert flew backward--as a projectile, not under his own power--and crashed into the ground.

"Ow," he said, as the stars swam before his eyes.

The sheep bleated noisily, but they sounded more confused than terrified. Robert heard footsteps, which were lighter than the shepherd boy's would have been. As confused as the sheep, he rubbed his eyes and looked up.

"Sorry about that!" said a girl he had never seen before. She must have been about fourteen. Her dark brown hair was tied back practically, and she wore a soot-covered tunic and trousers cut in the style of the southeast. "Didn't expect you to fly that far."


"Then again, you attacked me first, so maybe I shouldn't apologize."

Wizards are generally smart, and even though he had just been thrown to the ground, Robert needed only a second to put two and two together. "Wait--you're the dragon?"

"Yes, isn't that obvious?"

"But you were trying to eat the sheep. Why were you doing that?"

The girl smiled ruefully. "I got hungry. I've been flying all day and all night. You're going to ask why. Well, I'll tell you. We ran plumb out of the good timber and there are too many orders to wait for the next trading caravan. I take good care of my customers, so I volunteered to come get it."

Parts of the story made no sense. But the girl didn't look as though she was malicious. "In any case, though, you shouldn't have tried to eat the sheep. That's destruction of private property."

"I would have paid the shepherd back," said the girl indignantly. "After. I was hungry." As if on cue, her stomach rumbled.

Robert sighed and shook his head, but smiled. "Why don't you come join me and my wife for lunch? It'll be a lot less messy than a sheep."

"Really?" said the girl. "Thank you. That's very generous. What are you making?"

Wizard Robert got to his feet, and a convenient breeze blew the dust off so that his cloak shone blue and bright as ever. "Sandwiches. Boar sandwiches--they're my wife's favorite."

"Boar," she repeated, with a pensive expression. "I can work with boar." And the dragon and the wizard traipsed down the hill.


So I completely forgot about the "rebuilding" part. Oops. But as anyone who has been playing for a while has noticed, the rules are only really important in the beginning.

Try it out if you like. And have a good weekend.

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