Hello, everyone! I'll be on the road this week - holidays and all that - so I'm posting our end-of-the-month update a bit early. First up: Mushrooms!
Okay, now that mushrooms are out of the way I've got two guest updates for you guys. First is Daniel Bishop - he has created a new language called Obex and he's got a brief lesson for you. Then we have the next chapter of Kilian Jornself’s Tale of Five Warlocks by Harrison Hall. (Part 1 can be read here.)
Here we go!
Guest Update #1 - The Obex Language
Oh! Hello! I didn’t see you there.
My name is Daniel Bishop, and you might know me as Lars’ resident linguist, gardener, and most importantly, lead axilla musician. Today, though, I am here to explain a bit of my work on a language that is to be used in Frontiers, namely the Obex language.
Lars and I first communicated after I saw his initial Kickstarter video, where I saw a potential for a very interesting niche for myself. I thought that a species, or people, or location in the game might require a language all its own to distinguish itself from the other. I didn’t know at the time if there were elves or talking bears or different groups of people, or anything in between. I honestly still hope it’s the bears option, but that isn’t my decision to make. Instead, I explained in an email to Lars that I am a computational linguist, or in layman’s terms, a huge nerd. I had made a proof-of-concept piece of software some time ago that could help string together fairly realistic and pronounceable sounds in a way that is actually influenced by linguistic theory, as opposed to prefabricated syllables and the like. Lars was interested, and brought me onto the team to make a language.
Over the course of some months, I have developed software that, given parameters, will create something very much like a real language from scratch. Though many English words will have an Obex equivalent, the real place where this shines is in how anything besides an uninflected word is formed.
I was allowed some freedom to go nuts with some of the parts of the language I made. You’ll notice, for example, some Swahili influences in the verb structure. ni-na-soma [1SG-PRES-study] “I study/I am studying” in Swahili provides similar structure to Obex eɗ-ǁuab-əakalz [1SG-PRES-study]. I find that Swahili verb constructions are very concise and informative in a short space, and thus I shamelessly stole from my favorite language to help build a new one. I wanted to use some other unusual linguistic phenomena, such as diminutive and augmentative suffixes, modal markers, something roughly akin to the genitive case, and most importantly (to my sanity) a very regular spelling. There are no irregular verbs, nor even simple phonological rules of place assimilation. These take the language from being more easily spoken and more ‘real’ to something a bit more abstract and academic, perhaps, but no one ever had to speak a language exactly as it was written, after all.
Lars went to the bother of having me make a language from scratch for a reason: his vision for his game is one of a more complete, living and breathing world. This language helps flesh out a piece of it, and will give the players something to ponder, to learn, to explore and get more out of the game if they so choose. No one will be required to get a degree in this language to complete the game, or even do well; rather, it is to be well-crafted flavor and hopefully enrich and intrigue the player.
I’d like to show off a few sample utterances in Obex, and I plan on doing a series of introductory lesson-like posts on the Frontiers forums over the weeks to come.
The largest potato : jiɗ ohoaɓɱʔiezjoab [the potato-AUG-SUPL]
a person’s bone : bwuiʒ oaɗ ǁuoɗɱəadiejm [a bone person-GEN]
I can learn Obex : eɗǁuabiok eaʃǁoɱil jiɗ ʒluokeal ǁuoɗɱəadtwiopiejm [1SG-PRES-be_able learn-INF the language person-PL-GEN
Some of these are hard to pronounce due to sounds mashing up against one another, especially on morpheme boundaries, but as I said before, the written version of the language and the spoken will differ somewhat.
I greatly look forward to working more with the Obex language, and the Frontiers community in general, as this language is discovered and used!
Guest Update #2 - The Other Prince of Terrainia
Kilian Jornself’s Tale of Five Warlocks
Circa 60 AG
Index: Zuzel the Elder Chief ● The Other Prince of Terrainia ● Razela of Rasling ● A Zeni of Zenonia ● Gazani the Recluse
It is usually recommended that you don’t go digging into people’s business in the lower city of the capital, let alone knocking on the back doors of people’s houses. I had heard stories that the crime rings operating out of Terrainia could be traced back one figure who had eluded capture for the last 10 years. I had no true hope of tracking down the “Other Prince”, but I asked around anyway hoping to at least run into some of his hitmen.
It finally happened when I was in the market one day and a man offered to sell me some spiced fruits he had imported from Apple Valley. I was curious to see what fruits he had managed to get his hands on so I followed him into his shop where I was suddenly blinded by the brightest light I have ever seen and then blindfolded and strong armed.
I felt a chill wash up my skin like I had been plunged into ice cold water, and then a floating sensation. I could feel my legs moving back and forth, back and forth, but it was through no will of my own. I couldn’t feel my arms, it was as if they were gone entirely. My legs moved beneath me shuffling and trudging forward I don’t know for how far.
I don’t know how long I walked but when I suddenly regained control over my own legs they were sore and I was shoved backward into a chair. The blindfold was ripped from my eyes and I could tell that I was far from any buildings constructed in Laufgren. This one was more of a tool shed, and smelled very strongly of cattle.
Before me were three men I’d never seen in all my travels or wanderings through Laufgren and none among them was the man who had offered me fruit. The man in the middle was short and dark skinned, and he was dressed in a suit, wear a fashionable hat that obscured his face from which chest-long dreadlocks emerged. He was flanked on each side by two men who might have been identical twins, easily 7 feet tall each, shaved completely bald with the words “Slave” tattooed to their foreheads.
The shorter man spoke, and the rings on his lips clicked together, “Why do you seek the other prince?”
My skull felt warm and my ears buzzed as my lips moved without my conscious effort, “I am a writer for the Pathfinders. My name is Kilian Jornself. I am building contacts for the Pathfinders among the Warlo-Kai.”
The shorter man grinned and gestured with ringed fingers towards the men and they moved out of the room in a manner that reminded me of puppets. Once the door was shut the short man removed his hat and set it on a chair resting against the far wall. “I am the prince, and you will not document my appearance. I trust you because you cannot lie in my presence. If you do betray me, I will make you into what became of the Bruzelli brothers.”
I nodded. This time of my own control. “I will not document what I see, only what we discuss.”
He placed a pipe in his mouth and lit it with a stick he lit from a hanging lamp. After a few tokes the room filled with a strong scent I recognized as a type of ‘incense’ many warlocks from Riverbog enjoy, though I’d never seen someone inhale it as he did, “Ask what you want, I’ll see if you’re worth letting go.”
I quickly blurted out, eager to begin and prove my innocence, “How did you end up like this - like a uh... gami politician?”
He grinned a crooked smile, revealing almost too-perfect white teeth. “Like a gami, eh? How many gami have you met like me? You walk among the Summerfields a lot, huh?”
I shook my head, “I mean you look like you come from the upper class. Pardon me for saying.”
He let out a howling cackle, “That’s two insults in a row, you’re off to a good start there zemmi. You try walkin’ around with my skin and eyes and see how many jobs you get offered, eh? Most people like me use their skills to get closer to the lazy guy and teach the ferals how to talk to themselves. But the big napper had different plans for me. Told me he needed a zeni with money skills, moving skills. So I hit the road and built my own contacts. Bit like you isn’t it?”
I shrugged helplessly, “So you’re a Zeni then? One of the spiritual leaders?” He cackled again, that laugh sounding so much like a baying coyote. “Sure. Call me prince zeni. Zeni of money. You here to hear my life story? I grew up in Riverbog. No, I’ve never been inside the citadel, before you even ask. My mom was a Gami like you, ran off and went feral. When she got pregnant they moved to a small village on the outskirts of the gallows to raise me until I was old enough to go through the adulthood ritual. I know your ways and mine.”
“What brought you to Laufgren?” I asked, as he paced closer, his dark eyes on me. I could smell his earthy scent. Not the pungent body odor I expected after meeting Zuzel. The prince was different. Like clay and smoke and horse.
“I followed the money trail. All money passes through Laufgren at some point. And you’d be surprised how many people in the trifold council dabble in illicit activities when they can.”
“You’ve been inside the tower? What kind of activities? Who?!” I blurted out, the juicy story was just hanging there in front of me, teasing me like a carrot in front of a mule. He merely cackled again and grinned crookedly.
“I might have been. Looked like the tower. And I can’t say who. He paid me a lot of marbles to keep that girl’s memory clean of their meeting. And let me tell you, zemmi, he also paid me in pure refined luminite and I used most of it up that night.”
My stomach twisted at the implications and my mind turned to my own current predicaments. “You’re the one controlling my body right now... am I your latest mule?”
His spreading crooked grin was the last thing I saw before waking up a few miles outside the city.
(For more details about my adventures with Laufgren’s underground, find your local copy of “Laufgren’s Lawless, by Kilian Jornself”)