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Monday, April 4, 2011

Ch is for-

A different way of using C and a bonus day for the A to Z challenge. I'll let you in on a little secret, C is my least favorite letter. C's usefulness came to an end when it was replaced by both S and K, the soft and the hard C sounds. In Latin there is no K, so a C represented that sound, and we use the Latin alphabet; so why did we invent the soft C that sounds like an S? I don't know, but I blame the French. I do know that the CH is C's only redeeming value in the English language.

So, CH is for Chivalry; the medieval European code of knighthood. Chivalry comes to us from French and the code of the Chevalier, which is French for knight, but really just means horseman. I have to say that if Conan the Barbarian was a major influence on me, so too was Arthurian legend and the bulk of Arthurian stuff is based on Mallory's Morte D'Arthur which features some pretty idealized knights; this is the other pole of my D&D love, the idealized middle ages. I have played Pendragon, although not as it was intended to be played, but I have always wanted a chivalric D&D game too. Other Chivalric influences on me were le Chanson de Roland, which I read an English translation of when I was in 7th grade; and John Boorman's masterpiece film Excalibur, which I saw in the theater when it came out with the friend that introduced me to D&D, Chris G.

Ch is for Chanbara. Chanbara is a genre of swashbucking samurai historical films from Japan. Kurosawa was famous for them. Watch some and an Oriental Adventures (or Ruins and Ronin, depending on your preferred Samurai action rules set) campaign will spring forth fully formed from your brow like Athena from Zeus.

Ch is for China. China is to east Asia as Rome is to western Europeans, except it never fell. All of the Japanese stuff that I love so much owes a lot of it's existence to Chinese culture. I never give the Chinese the credit that they deserve for being the fountainhead of east Asian culture probably because I find their culture to be smug. I have always felt the Chinese were expressing a kind of cultural superiority complex towards all other cultures, they are always going on about how ancient their civilization is. That rubs me the wrong way, probably the same way that all the Germanic tribes felt about Rome and it's empire. Anyway, that's my problem not China's and I have to admit they are responsible for some pretty sweet stuff; kung fu and the associated movies, Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Chinese food come immediately to mind.

Ch is for Chariots, which are just a damned cool way to travel around. Historically they were used by pretty much everyone that ever conquered a settled kingdom or empire from the dawn of history up into the iron age and the Roman raced them. In the Táin Bó Cúailnge Cú Chulainn, with just his driver, fights off the entire army from Connacht for nine days while riding around in his chariot challenging them to single combat at a river ford.

CH is for Charisma everyone's favorite dump stat. Charisma used to be more important in earlier editions when everyone needed henchmen and hirelings if they wanted to survive and WotC D&D made it necessary for Clerics and invented a spell-casting class that used it as it's prime requisite. Me, I always used wisdom as a dump stat when the opportunity arose.

Ch is for Chimera the lone CH monster in the 1st edition AD&D Monster Manual. I just wanted to include him for that reason. I also like that EGG would freely loot monsters from classical sources or anywhere else for that matter and make them excellent. I don't really stat monsters up that well or easily, so I greatly appreciate those that do and therefore save me the work.

Ch is for Chaos. Whether it's the evil chaos of the Caves of Chaos or my own Chaotic Good alignment preference, I like chaos. In early D&D chaos had the implication of evil, but I am a Holmes to AD&D guy, so I like the Good-Evil and Law-Chaos 9 fold alignment axis.

Ch is for Characters. In the modern world they probably would have been called avatars or personae or something. I like characters, it makes them more separate from the player, like an actor taking on a role. Considering the crap that RPGs went through in the early days about people being unable to distinguish between the game and real life I'd like to keep the distinction as clear cut as possible. This is probably because my parents always seemed to assume that because I liked fantasy that it somehow made me retarded. Yes mom, I know the stuff on Star Trek isn't real. No mom, I don't think my D&D character is actually me. Funny, they never asked me if I was confused about my real identity when I was acting in plays.

Ch is for Charging and charging hard. My characters in D&D are hard charging battle monkeys mostly and I am hard charging battle monkey in the SCA. I love to shatter a shield wall, what can I say? it's exhilarating. In D&D I often play berserker types. I think it helps me blow off steam and relieve stress. Oddly I am much more careful a planner when playing wargames, although I do love setting up a good cavalry charge to finish off an opponent!