Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Travel Time in Horn of the Kraken

            Are we there yet? Travel time is always a little hard to estimate in fiction. Yes there are average speeds for ship types and horses, but you also have to account for what I like to call “The Little Deuce Coup” phoneme. Some times a ship, a horse, or what have you, will just be fast. Look at the Blue Nose of Grand Bank’s fame. Other times a vessel is a lemon. There is also terrain, weather, wind in particular for a sailing vessel, the skill of the crew, a host of factors. For Horn of the Kraken I shaved a bit off the average speed of a long ship in the game and used that as an average. Sometime with a ruler and an atlas gave me approximate travel times then I gave myself about ten percent leeway to make the times fit the story line. This gave me a fairly reasonable rate of travel, so long as I remembered to slow them down for every time I sped them up.
            Having been through a north Atlantic storm in a modern vessel I have to say, I wouldn’t want to try it in a long ship. The Norse seamen were tough!



Thursday, 18 June 2015

Artillery in Horn of the Kraken

Artillery bothers me. The idea of an off shore bombardment that can slaughter an entire town where the people shooting don’t even see the people they are killing seems innately wrong. Truth to tell, I feel there would be fewer wars if we didn’t have range weapons. If you had to look into the eyes of the people you were killing. If politicians actually suffered the consequences of their choices we probably wouldn’t have wars at all.
            This sentiment is why I incorporated ballista into Horn of the Kraken. With the survivors of fimbulwinter huddled along the coast, ship born ballista would be deadly, especially if they carried incendiary bolts. Farther south, where stone was used more for construction, they would have been less effective, but against people with primarily wooden structures they would have been devastating.
            The confusion felt by Fjorn and his team when they encounter a village burnt, not even looted, and its populous left to freeze without shelter is a commentary of what warfare has become, a waist where no one gains.

Author link: www.stephenpearl.com

FATE OF THE NORNS site: http://www.fateofthenorns.com

Monday, 8 June 2015

A Guest Blog Gone Wrong

This was written as a guest blog. I’ll refrain from saying for whom and I received a message back saying they didn’t want to post it and offering to critique it instead. Since I don’t like having my time wasted I’m posting it here. I’d appreciate honest comments about the piece.

Hello everyone,
I’m Stephen B. Pearl, an author from Ontario Canada who writes mostly Science Fiction, Fantasy and Paranormal. The short form is, if it is a little weird I probably write about it. You can read the first chapters of my books on my website at: www.stephenpearl.com . Please check the rating before you start a story because I write mostly for adults.
At present I’m working on a novel for the Fate of the Norns Ragnarok role playing game. This means I write a book following the rules and settings of the game. It’s like the forgotten realms books are for Dungeons and Dragons. My book is titled Horn of the Kraken and it’s set during the sword age of Ragnarok.
Ragnarok is the Norse, the people the Vikings came from, apocalypse and it had several ages each of which could last years. We know about it from a famous poem where a sear is telling Odin, the king of the gods, about the future. The passage reads

An axe age, a sword age, where shields are cloven.
A wind age, a wolf age, and no one will be spared.

The game, and my book, are set in a world very much like ours was in the 900 CE, but Ragnarok has begun.  A group of unlikely heroes must steal the Horn of the Kraken from Hakon, a false pretender to the throne of Norveig, who is using it to force kraken to sink the ships of Jarl, that’s a Norse king, Eric Bloodaxe, in a bid to win the war between them and destroy the Norse way of life towards enslaving all the peoples of Midgard. Midgard is the earth.
In my book I use a creature called a selkie. Selkie are beings of legend drawn from the myths of the people of Scotland, Ireland and the Faroese and Orkney islands. They walk as humans across the land, but at will slip into a seal skin and become seals to play and hunt in the sea.
Most of the legends of the Selkie are variants on the theme of the fairy bride where the fairy wife lives for a span of years with her human husband then because of a circumstance, in the case of the selkie the regaining of her seal skin, returns to life in her other realm. Always in these stories the human partner in the marriage has taken the seal skin and hidden or locked it away. One has to wonder if the spouses that let the selkie keep their skin and enjoy their duel nature never made it into the stories because they never got dumped.
Selkie are always depicted as attractive in their human guise, the men being tall and muscular and the women fit and lovely. What these designations mean has changed over human history but the selkie seemed to have kept up with the fashion.
When codifying selkie for the Fate of the Norns Ragnarok role playing game and Horn of the Kraken I borrowed the game’s framework for the Ulfhednar, wolf warrior. These were warriors who, according to legend, could turn into giant wolves.
            I also accommodated the fact that in the myth when the selkie recovers it’s seal skin it vanishes into the sea never to return, although sometimes they come back to check on their children, by putting in a clause regarding level division that I think is unique to the denizens in the Fate of the Norns system. If you are a gamer this will make sense if you aren’t it doesn’t matter anyway.
            As the story developed I added an Okra call and worked Okra, killer whales, in as the physical embodiments of the transition to the afterlife. This came about by looking at early human cultures. Often the creature that posed a threat, or prowled the graveyard, was made the guide to the dead. For example, in the Egyptian system Anubis, a jackal headed god, is the guide to the dead and travels of all kinds. In ancient Egypt Jackals prowled around graveyards looking for a quick snack.

            The interesting thing about Horn of the Kraken for me was the fact that it takes real history and legend and weaves them together into a fantasy read. Hakon and Eric Blood Axe were real people, they were half brothers who both tried to take the thrown of Norveig, the area we now call Northern Europe. Kraken are mythical giant squid that may actually be real animals living in the deep ocean.
            Horn of the Kraken will be available late June early July of 2015; I hope you’ll check it out. Until then keep smiling, it makes them wonder what you’re up to.

Stephen B. Pearl: www.stephenpearl.com
Fate of the Norns, Ragnarok: www.fateofthenorns.com/WP/