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Author Topic: In the Mind of a Legate  (Read 25604 times)
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Evil Knivel
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« Reply #50 on: December 10, 2008, 05:17:25 AM »

As to the mind of the legate... I agree with many of the suggestions here: Fear, desire for Order, bettering oneself, self preservation, etc..

I think there's one important point that hasn't been mentioned yet. As part of a totalitarian organisation, you are allowed to be evil.
Of course, I agree to the statement that most (if not all) legates don't regard themselves as evil. But actually they are. They want to act evil but just don't want to be called so.

That's how totalitarian organisations work (in my opinion). They make use of the fact that every human being sometimes feels intense negative emotions, like hate. The organisation says "You don't have to feel guilty or be ashamed because of your hate. You are allowed to hate. Actually, there is a people [elves in Midnight / jews in nazism] that deserves your hate." That is, the organisation takes a burden from its followers - the burden to control ones negative emotions. They give them a possibility to act out their hatred without feeling bad. They can act it out and still regard themselves as nice people. That's possible because the individuals can repress their own motivation and give in to the illusion that they just follow orders. Everything is so well organized, with official papers, countersigned documents, hierarchical structures, etc. that it appears as nothing personal, nothing the individual is responsible for.
So, contrary to many of the above posts, I would state that legates indeed want to commit aggressive acts. It's an unconscious but very strong motivation.

Another point which, in my opinion, has not been stressed strong enough in the discussion is that there is only one god left. If it's the only god, you surely have to obey him. No? Have a look at the bible, it's full of stories of people who are willing to sacrifice their only son, just because god said so.


As far as the dark god's intents are concerned:
I think of the gods (in Midnight) as something like the Lovecraftian great old ones. You just can't understand a god. If you catch a glimpse, you go nuts. That is, there is no such thing as the psychology of a god. If you attribute emotions or intentions to a god, you're always wrong. To really understand the psychology of a god, you have to be a god yourself.
So, you can't really say that the old gods 'loved' the mortal races. They just followed their very strange ways which resulted in a behavior that looked like love from a human point of view. And the dark one follows a different way.
As a consequence, the legates don't really worship a god of 'hate'. They just know that their god gives them power if they pray for it. It's not so much different from the priests of old who knew that their gods would give them happiness or safety if they prayed for it.

To summarize my view: Evil in Midnight is something originating in the human (or orcish) heart. Evil beings just act out their hate. This evil serves the dark god's ways (by accident? or following some logic? how could a mortal know...), so he gives power to the organization which fosters it. This organization is able to make people act evil because it offers them a relief of negative feelings, like guilt and shame, which normally accompany (and suppress) hate.
Maybe it's not as written in the book, but this way it makes sense to me.
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Sholano
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« Reply #51 on: December 10, 2008, 01:22:17 PM »

Remember, this is a Dark God (tm) we are talking about, not some narcissistic overlord.

Well, yeah, but that's kinda my point. I think where we're differing here is on how a cleric in this sort of setting (legate or othewise) interacts with his God. I always figured there was some kind of feedback there - at least while praying for miracles, if not all the time. Not exactly, "Here are my thoughts and plans, go act on them," but a sort of sense of their presence and will. And, of course, that would get stronger as the cleric grows more powerful. Never revealing the God's intent if they don't want it revealed (they are a God, after all), but working like this, there's going to come a point where you at least realize you're not exactly serving the Lord of Warm Fuzzies. You may not be privy to the grand design - 'scuse me, Dark Intent, but you are aware that it's Dark.
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Doomed Hero
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« Reply #52 on: December 10, 2008, 02:43:57 PM »

This discussion has brought up some really good stuff. Exactly the kinds of things I was curious about when I first picked up Midnight.

I'd like to toss in my vote to Sticky the thread for future forum-ites.
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« Reply #53 on: December 10, 2008, 04:07:44 PM »

This discussion has brought up some really good stuff. Exactly the kinds of things I was curious about when I first picked up Midnight.

I'd like to toss in my vote to Sticky the thread for future forum-ites.
Not sure what that means, precisely, but sounds like a good idea.
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Doomed Hero
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« Reply #54 on: December 10, 2008, 05:56:29 PM »

Take a look at the thread listings. The most fruitful or important threads get "stickied" which means they always show up at the top of the list.
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Deus_Miseratur
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« Reply #55 on: December 11, 2008, 05:21:34 AM »

I cast my vote for sticky-ing this post as well. I love moral discussions, especially the fact that they can go on forever (especially late at night after a couple of drinks... found myself debating until dawn)

I have read really interesting ideas that I whole-heartedly agree with (too many to quote - but the take that religion can give an excuse for actions without remorse... loved it). I just want to re-iterate, or phrase in my own way, the following:

Good VS Evil is an ethical "categorization" if you may, of Western civilization based (for the most part) on the dominant religion, namely Judeo-christianity. There is a one God and his antagonist (whose guises may vary, but he is always portrayed as the bad guy).

Now take that, and remove the antagonist (or, in better words, merge the two). What happens? What is good and what is evil? For people using religion as a moral guide (i.e. Legates) things get a bit confusing, no?

I'd also advise looking into other real-world religions, which don't really involve an "antagonistic" god of destruction, but more like a 'necessary' part of the divine order. Many Eastern religions follow that paradigm.

<Personal Rant>
I have been wrapping my head around making a game concept based on Midnight (I started taking a Masters degree in Computer games, so I had plenty of inspirational lectures). It involved an uncorrupted, fledgling legate who in the middle of the story realizes the error of his ways and tries to repent. To be honest, it is really hard to envision how such a change is possible for someone in such base contact with Izrador. But exploring the motivations of one such character was one of the most important issues of this project. It is very hard to make a legate retain the illusion that he is actually working on the side of good, when he is working closely with orcs and goblins, overseeing executions, and being in a Church of Shadow with high-ups clad in black armor. (black - not the skin tone, please - is never portrayed as a positive color, in any cultural context)
</Personal rant>

On a personal note, I would really enjoy seeing Leviathan posting again. I hope you don't feel offended by any people here, as I'm sure that was not their (our) intent. I don't like having to finish each and every post with "I don't try to offend or impose here, this is just my opinion", since it's kind of a non-brainer. I also hope you don't feel that you have to defend yourself, your opinion and your religion on every step. I can see how you fear that discussing such an issue would result in a flame war or something like that, but it's safe to say that as far as I can see people in the AtS forum are very mature in such matters. Concluding, I'd say that reading a different opinion such as yours adds a much-needed perspective on things, and this thread is so much the poorer without it.

P.S: Kudos to everyone for the well-written and insightful posts!
« Last Edit: December 11, 2008, 05:24:07 AM by Deus_Miseratur » Logged

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« Reply #56 on: December 11, 2008, 11:59:44 PM »

"It is a common misconception that evil folks run amok, indiscriminately killing and defiling everyone they meet.  This isn't to say that such behavior isn't evil; yet it is a shallow view of evil, driven by preconceived notions and stereotypes.  Evil is self-serving, merciless, and willing to make sacrifices in order to succeed, true. But it can also be subtle, insidious and to many, inexplicable."

Hand of Shadow, pg. 58
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Dirigible
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« Reply #57 on: December 29, 2008, 04:06:11 PM »

Some motives that make sense to me:

Tainted Love: Sunulael is the exemplar of this. A man so desperate to have faith in something, that when he discovered that the only thing he could have faith in was Evil Incarnate... that's just what he did.

A Family Affair: In my mind, the Cabal has been all about isolated little cults for millenia – most of its members are traditionalists, worshippers of Izardor for longer than they can remember. They were born to it, and die for it.

Vae Victis: The Shadow won. Siding with the Shadow is easier and more comfortable than opposing it – this is a characteristic of the Devout branch of the faith.

Dark Protector: Sure, there's the regular blood sacrifice, but day to day, being under the thumb of a legate and human garrison is probably better than being occupied by orcs. Legates may only kill one a week or a month (not including executions or personal pecadillos); orcs may kill every day, if they fancy fresh meat.

Brainwashing: I've always figured that the Church takes 'oblates' as part of its tithe form the populace; children taken to be raised by the legates, as slaves, or sacrifices... or initiates. If all you've ever known is the Shadow's power and terror and discipline, it's all you'll ever know.

And to Leviathan:
Quote
PS: Just for the record, as a real-world Catholic, I have always found the fact that the game designers decided to call one of their evil organizations the "Umbral Catholicon" pretty offensive.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholicon
“Catholicon is also another word for Panacea.” Panacea = cure-all. Appropriate name for the Shadow's medics, I thought. You should no more be offended by that than African-Americans should be about the word niggardly.

Quote
plastered a picture of an S&M-esqe nun right next to the description. Hmmm...yeah...
She's part of the Sisterhood of Tender Mercies, as you probably know.

Any offence you take over these matters if your own fault and your own problem. You are choosing to interpret them in a way that offends you, even when presented with strong evidence to the contrary.
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« Reply #58 on: December 31, 2008, 03:54:24 PM »

That brings me back. 

Spoken like a true left wing intellectual.  Methinks thou doth protest too much..

The fact is, the in-game organization and drawing did actually evoke a real world religious association and was probably meant to.

It seems as though it is very chic these days to disrespect and belittle the Catholic Church and the defense given and so-called evidence does not otherwise convince.  I notice the organization name and drawing did not instead belittle some alternate real world religion.  Heavens no.  Some of those religions don't take kindly to such things and sometimes even take action.  It's so much easier to lampoon a religion unlikely to do anything about it.

Easier still would the decision have been to have simply called the organization some in-game in-world title (real world religion neutral) and called it a day. 

So, to summarize...I find and accept no fault here of my own and have no problem other than with your evidently strongly negative opinion of my comments.  I admit I considered it risky to actually state my real opinion for a change and, as is often the case, that's often an unpopular thing to do.

I'm assuming that since you are an Administrator, you may decide not to post this reply and that is fine.  That's a possibility I understand.  If you find I've overstepped my bounds here, just let me know and I will deal with being banished back to the ether vapors from whence I came.  Easy come, easy go, I guess.  Such is the problem with threads that deal with certain topics.

L

PS:  For the record, for my own part, I live pretty close to the border of a place called agnosticism.  I was simply playing Devil's Advocate for the sake of debate and because I do often see a cultural backlash against Catholicism in the USA and western Europe, for whatever reasons.

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« Reply #59 on: December 31, 2008, 04:12:50 PM »

I also feel like playing Devil's Advocate, but to pick this issue apart. I do my best to look at these kinds of discussions as an opportunity for everyone involved to learn something, and then go back to the original topic with a new perspective. So...

So just for the sake of argument, Lev, would you have been offended if one of the Order of Shadow subsets had been a particularly zealous and judgmental order who's members preached selfless service, sacrifice, poverty and who were known for their suicidal charges against Izrador's enemies? Maybe called the "Shrouded Jihad" or something? The picture next to the section might be a particularly Arab looking angry, shirtless, bearded Sarcosan man in a short turban wielding a scimitar, or something equally recognizable and culturally insensitive (but still pretty cool).

If so, why would it bother you? If not, why would it not bother you?
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« Reply #60 on: December 31, 2008, 04:20:44 PM »

As a proud left-wing liberal, but also one who has high regard for Catholic history and teaching (namely Benedictine and Cistercian Theology), I think you are taking offense where non-was intended.  The use of the word is clearly derived from the medical context, and as such it is wise not to confuse exegesis and eisegisis.  While I see anti-catholic insults in many places, I do not think this is one of them, friend.
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« Reply #61 on: December 31, 2008, 04:36:39 PM »

FWIW, there is a somewhat related conversation over at RPG.net called Why would you worship Murder?
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« Reply #62 on: December 31, 2008, 08:32:41 PM »

I'd like to believe that I'd recognize a "Shrouded Jihad" organizationing functioning in the role as a tool of evil as a questionable decision.  I doubt I'd be offended because I'm neither of that faith nor even culturally of that faith.  If I were, however, I would've been similarly offended.

As far as whether I'm seeing conspiratorial religious insensitivity where there is none, maybe so.  If the other posters are of that opinion, thats good enough for me.

L
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« Reply #63 on: December 31, 2008, 10:05:34 PM »

Quote
Spoken like a true left wing intellectual.
Would that make you a right-wing moron?

Quote
Methinks thou doth protest too much.
I'm 99% sure that the sub-order names were made up by Shadowfane - they have his grandiloquent style. I know Shadowfane, and I've met him in real life. You're essentially calling him an anti-Catholic bigot.

Yes, I DO get upset when my friends are maligned by people who refuse to accept reasoned, non-offensive alternatives to their persecution complexes.

Quote
The fact is, the in-game organization and drawing did actually evoke a real world religious association and was probably meant to.
Prove that was the author's intent. Money, mouth, or shut up.

Quote
that's often an unpopular thing to do.
Insulting people who can't answer back often is, yeah.

Quote
While I see anti-catholic insults in many places...
Now I'm glad we left the Virgin Izrador In A Condom artifact out of Fury Smiley
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Doomed Hero
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« Reply #64 on: December 31, 2008, 11:03:46 PM »

Dir, you're about to start a flame war. Please stop.

I don't think Lev is intending to insult Shadowfane, he's just misinformed. He's entitled to his opinion, and I do think there is something to be learned from all this. Let's steer towards that and try not to alienate a contributing board member.

There are people out there who will ride their opinion into the ground without any arguable reasons for thier thought other than "cause that's what I say, so there". They deserve to be alienated. I don't think that Lev is one of those people. I suppose only time will tell, so lets take the time to work through this like adults.
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Leviathan
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« Reply #65 on: December 31, 2008, 11:35:00 PM »

Dirigible:

I've corresponded with Shadowfane once or twice on the old site and he seemed nice enough to me. If you say he came up with that group name in a fantasy game minded fashion, that's fine.

As it is obvious that I have both angered and offended you (and whomever else), please consider accepting my apologies.  My intent was to splash a little bit of extra voltage into this particular thread and, as things have turned out, that was not the best move.

This is probably the 4th or 5th email volley over the last, say 10 years, that I've mishandled.  As time goes by I've become better at my tact, but it would seem I still have a ways to go.  The other 3 or 4 were with people whom I actually knew and/or interacted with, so, would seem more important, but..as I like AtS, this debacle would rank pretty high.

Anyway, had this same conversation been real, say...in a pub with 6 or 7 of us all shouting back and forth...I think I would've had sense to change the subject and diffuse any problem.

So...long story short, although I'm probably not as thick or as bad as you might be thinking right now, I'll be the first to admit that my contribution to this post has been extremely ill-advised and poorly thought out.

Again, my apologies...

Sincerely,

Leviathan


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Dirigible
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« Reply #66 on: December 31, 2008, 11:49:32 PM »

Apology accepted.

It's not that I think your point is entirely without merit: the Order of the Shadow does have a superficial resemblance to the Catholic Church (Sunulael = Pope, Grand Legates = Cardinals, Legate is a term for a papal diplomat), but that's not because of any sly agenda on FFG's part. It's because the Catholic Church is utterly ingrained as the shape of large-scale organised religion in the Western mind, being the oldest continuously-existing group I can think of off-hand.

Conversely, look at the picture of the Witchseeker legate. He's wearing an American-style pilgrim hat, like a stereotypical Salem witchfinder (or a Witchunter in Warhammer, or a dozen other RPGs). That's another deeply ingrained image that they used, even though it's rather out of tone with the rest of the setting. Would you interpret that as a slight against Protestants/Puritans/Americans? I don't think so. It's just a shape that's work itself deeply into our culture.

That's not to say that these 'deep images' are always acceptable or tolerable. If the legates had been portrayed as, say, child-molesting cannibals who ate the flesh and blood of Izrador (or whatever other negative stereotypes of Catholics/priests you care to invoke), even if it had been unconscious on the author's part, that would be something you could fairly criticise. But getting het up over one word, that shares an etymology with the name of the church but means something different and is entirely appropriate to the context doesn't seem reasonable to me.
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« Reply #67 on: January 01, 2009, 08:07:18 AM »

Agreed.

The picture was secondary to me.  Basing 90% of my complaint on the use of a single word was a move that lacked sufficient support or evidence.  It was unreasonable.

L

PS:  In terms of the possible uses of the word "niggardly", I would say that using it in written form would probably be fine, based upon the type of publication or the nature of the audience.  If, OTOH, you, let's say, find yourself driving through the projects on the south side of Chicago, southeast of Chinatown, and decide to stop and ask a group of a half-dozen young men for directions, and they prove to be sullen and decidedly unhelpful (bad day, maybe?), I would not say to them, "Your aid to me was niggardly!"  My guess is that that would be bad, even though the word used technically wasn't meant to be taken the way they would probably take it.  I also wouldn't use it around the office, either.  Not worth the likely bother.  PC?  Unfortunately, yes.  But still something to watch out for.



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« Reply #68 on: January 01, 2009, 12:36:26 PM »

Sounds like (looks like?) the anger over here is dying down a little. Good.
As the conversation dies down, I feel like pointing this out. If, while looking for a suitable word to describe this thing, they simply went with the actual definition of catholicon [(n) : a supposed universal remedy; a panacea or cure-all], or catholic [(adj) : all inclusive; pertaining to all mankind], they would fit pretty well into the grand scheme. Admittedly, in the world as we live in it today, the word catholic in any form tends to refer to the Catholic Church, but that isn't - technically - what it means.
I'm not necessarily saying they didn't have the idea of the Church in their heads, since as Dir pointed out, it is more or less the religious archetype we all know at this point - just saying that if they didn't, it wouldn't be unreasonable.
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« Reply #69 on: January 01, 2009, 03:26:05 PM »

So to try to properly nail down the thread and force it back to it's original topic, I can see this exact sort of argument about definitions and intentions being the thing which caused the schism between the Devout and the Cabal in the first place.

That's always been one of the questions I couldn't quite get a handle on. What would the behavioral differences between a Devout Legate and a Cabal Legate be? How would their differences in belief translate into differences in policy or action?
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« Reply #70 on: January 01, 2009, 10:39:09 PM »

Quote
What would the behavioral differences between a Devout Legate and a Cabal Legate be? How would their differences in belief translate into differences in policy or action?
I don't see it being a matter of theology at all.

The Cabal are the old guard: they've been slowly burrowing into Erenland's society for generations upon generations, hoarding relics, working curses, undermining the strength of the free races. They toiled for millennia, often ferociously hunted by the nations they were corrupting, burned and hanged as demon-worshippers, vile witches and evil conspirators. In some places, their cults have been active so long they've become the local tradition.

And then, all of a sudden, this guy, Sunulael, shows up with a new wave of legates and the raw, bloody blessing of the Shadow. His followers, the Devout, swept in at the last minute, the Last Battle and stole glory from the Cabal's hand. Killstealing, to use an MMO term. Sunulael has no interest in listening to the wise old legates who have been doing the Shadow's will in secret for generations: he's all about building this gigantic, gaudy citadel of malevolence and setting up sacrifice rotas for these 'black mirrors'. The Cabal can't defy him openly, because he's obviously the chosen one of Izrador, and he's a freakin' Night King, but they are royally pissed and confused that the Shadow apparently dropped them for the new kid on the block.

That's how I've always pictured it.

The Cabal are old, and experienced, and have been shaping events in Erenland for an entire Age. They have secret places of power and hordes of stolen arcane and built divine magical items all across the continent. They don't like the orcs, seeing them as yet more outsiders messing up their plans, but probably have quite strong ties with many of the traitor princes and occupation governors, having maneuvered many of them or they ancestors into their current posts.

The Devout are new, fiery, and backed with unseen levels of power. They're more willing to work with the orcs, the Usurper's forces and the like - though they also come into conflict with them due to struggles between the Night Kings.
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« Reply #71 on: January 08, 2009, 03:24:45 PM »

Just to share:  I am going to pick up the book Lucifer Effect which documents Dr. Zimbardo's Stanford Prison Experiment back in the day.  While I have some concerns about his research methodology, I suspect it will be a useful perspective.  Snipped from wikipedia: "The Stanford prison experiment was a study of the psychological effects of becoming a prisoner or prison guard...Prisoners and guards rapidly adapted to their roles, stepping beyond the boundaries of what had been predicted and leading to dangerous and psychologically damaging situations. One-third of the guards were judged to have exhibited "genuine" sadistic tendencies, while many prisoners were emotionally traumatized and two had to be removed from the experiment early."

http://www.lucifereffect.com/

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« Reply #72 on: January 08, 2009, 04:54:35 PM »

I've seen the whole video of that study. We covered it pretty thoroughly in a psych class I took last year. The thing I found most disturbing about the whole thing was that even the psychologists, who were supposed to be impartial observers of the experiment, got drawn in as well and completely lost their sense of perspective. Even to the people on the outside, the abuse and dehumanization became normal and expected after only one week. It was just something to watch and data to take down.

Luckily, they caught on what was happening to them eventually and they shut down the whole experiment a week early.

I saw an interview with a couple of the people who were in the experiment who still live in the stanford area, and when they run into each other to this day they still fall naturally into their dominant/subservient roles. Even their physical mannerisms and speech patterns change around each other.
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« Reply #73 on: August 16, 2022, 12:15:28 PM »

Hi all.  I am been away from gaming for a while, and Midnight for ages.  Casting a necromantic spell on this thread to see if there is any further life in it.  I have been pondering starting a new campaign, and of course contemplating setting it in Eredane.  And also curious if any of the contributors this this thread are still around.

Cheers,

Mark
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« Reply #74 on: August 17, 2022, 04:54:21 AM »

Hi all.  I am been away from gaming for a while, and Midnight for ages.  Casting a necromantic spell on this thread to see if there is any further life in it.  I have been pondering starting a new campaign, and of course contemplating setting it in Eredane.  And also curious if any of the contributors this this thread are still around.

Cheers,

Mark

Welcome back! You did see that Midnight received the official D&D 5E treatment this year, yes? Opinions are divided on the quality of the product, but the setting is alive... even if these boards don't seem to be.
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