JACQ: Hello everyone and welcome to the Practical Gamemaster! A podcast that I named back when it was about dnd, so it's not really relevant but, I don't have that good good rebranding money.
Today with us we have a special guest! Your favorite Orc-lady, and mine. Geneva!
GENEVA: Thank you Jacq, it’s nice to be here.
JACQ: Now as a disclaimer, I would like to say that we will NOT be talking about Geneva’s mission on Earth. So any cops listening in can relax, maybe go take a coffee break.
GENEVA: Do you think they’re gone now?
JACQ: Probably not, but that’s okay. They’re just helping me increase my listener numbers.
GENEVA: Do you think they’d bring us some donuts?
JACQ: (laughs) We can get donuts later if you want. I’d rather not have any spooks showing up at my door.
JACQ: So let’s get into it, shall we? Geneva, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself, in case we have new listeners.
GENEVA: Sure! I’m an orc from the planet Chel. I am an archaeologist, though right now I’m focused on muggle studies, and the interaction of magic with the planet Earth.
JACQ: (sigh) Sometimes I think letting you browse around on the internet unsupervised was a mistake.
GENEVA: But you love me!
Oh also, I have a girlfriend, her name is Jacq and she’s sitting right next to me!
JACQ: (groans) What is it about being on a podcast that makes you go into super cute mode?
GENEVA: Is that the first question?
JACQ: You know? Yes. It was going to be rhetorical, but, yes. It is now. So, Geneva! Why are you being so completely adorable right now?
GENEVA: No problem, Jacq! So you see, I go into this performative cute mode as a way of dealing with my nervousness. As long as I’m super cute, everyone will like me, right?
JACQ: Um... right! (pause) Sorry. I can pull that from the edited version. I’m sorry. Of course you’re nervous.
GENEVA: It’s fine. Doing this helps me deal with it pretty well.
JACQ: (softly) Hey, look at me.
SFX: Microphone noise as Jacq reaches over to hold Geneva’s hand
JACQ: You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to. I know that podcasting is kinda my thing, but you don’t have to do it just because I do.
GENEVA: No! I like it, like, sure I’m a little nervous, but I like a chance to ...uh what was that word they used at pride… ah! I like the chance to be a big queen.
JACQ: (laughs) that might be a bit outdated. But you are certainly my big diva.
SFX: Hand kiss? More mic noise as they go back to normal.
JACQ: Mmm. Well! As long as you’re having a good time. (clears throat) Where were we?
GENEVA: I think you were about to kiss me some more.
SFX: Slapping Noise
JACQ: I was not. We are making a podcast, Missy! Get your head in the game!
GENEVA: Aww. Do I have to?
JACQ: Yes! Why don’t you tell us a little more about where you came from?
GENEVA: Sure! Chel is a world that is in some ways very similar to Earth. It is roughly the same size, with similar atmospheres, and even a similar day/night cycle and calendar year.
It also has a single moon, and is ringed.
JACQ: Okay, so how is it different from Earth?
GENEVA: So our world is quite similar to what you think of as fantasy. We have magic, fairies, unicorns, dragons and all that stuff. Meanwhile Earth has a large range of complex technologies that we don’t have.
JACQ: Can you give me an example of something you do with magic that we do with machines?
GENEVA: Hmmm. Well, okay how about communication? You have cell phones that you use to talk to each other over long distances. We use spells to do the same thing.
JACQ: Can anyone do that kind of spell? How do nonmagical folk communicate over distances?
GENEVA: So most people can’t cast the spell, but we do have sending stations throughout the city, where you can go to communicate with distant people. I think some of the richer residents even have one in their home.
JACQ: Oh! That's actually really interesting, our phones used to work a lot like that, before cellular tech stepped in. That's really recognizable! So you do have, uhh, devices. Pretty similar to ours. But they run on magic! Would it be fair to say that you have a lot of things similar to this situation?
GENEVA: Yes, pretty much. We don’t have cars whizzing up and down our streets or, uh, computers.
JACQ: Yeah, we have discussed your envy of computers a bit.
GENEVA: I think there are a number of small private magical databases, but nothing like your internet. I really need to see if we can get something like that started when I get back.
But uh anyway, a lot of other stuff is similar, it just works on different principles.
JACQ: Cool! Now that we have some idea of Chel as a whole, why don’t you tell us about your hometown.
GENEVA: Sure! I am from the city of Aellark, which is the capital of the kingdom of Avonne.
It’s a beautiful city with architecture that spans back before accurate historical records. The oldest building in the city is the Temple of Aviana. The base structure of the building is around 15,000 years old.
JACQ: You’ve talked about that before! It’s like the cultural center of your city right?
GENEVA: Yes. It sits in this big courtyard, which is lined with food carts and restaurants and shops where you can buy clothes and trinkets. There’s also an old burial ground back behind the temple which is a popular place to have picnics and weddings and stuff in the warmer months.
JACQ: You have picnics in a cemetery?!
GENEVA: Yeah! Do you not do that here? It’s a way to share your joy and happiness with your deceased loved ones.
JACQ: No!! I mean, there are definitely other cultures on Earth that have closer relationships with their dead, but here, graveyards are a spooky... morose kind of thing. People wouldn’t eat there because they’re seen as scary or sad, or because of being worried about catching some kind of disease from grave gases or something. I dunno.
They do have that kind of thing in other places. Mexico has this celebration called Dia de los Muertos, where they make all these sugar skulls and go out and eat in the graveyard like that. I think they also might do it in Japan? I’ve seen a few scenes like that in some anime, not big group gatherings though.
Our graveyards are also a little crowded to lay out a good picnic spread I think.
GENEVA: How are they too crowded?
JACQ: We just bury people pretty close together, and all the gravestones would get in the way of being comfortable I think.
GENEVA: Oh, you use grave markers! I’ve seen those before! Yeah, we don’t really use those. We do record who is buried in each graveyard, in case there’s been a gap in a family line or something and someone wants to reconnect with an ancestor, or maybe just because we like lists. So... we don’t really have to deal with that.
JACQ: Cool! So it’s really just like a park where you can hang out with your ancestors. I kind of want to hear more about that. (Thoughtful hum). But you should probably get back to your script, now.
GENEVA: Right! So this area is known as the Temple Pavillion and it’s the bustling energetic center of our city.
Services are held in the temple daily. There’s always a big group of people attending, and they actually have to turn people away, because there are so many of them. Everyone makes a big deal of the times that they’ve gotten into the temple for a service.
There are of course other temples in the city, both temples devoted to Aviana and to other gods. Their services tend to start a bit later than the Temple of Aviana’s Service to give people turned away time to attend.
JACQ: Cool. So is it like a first come first served kind of thing? Or is it like… rich people have guaranteed seats if they want to come and then working folks scramble for the few remaining seats?
GENEVA: Yeah it’s kinda more the second one, unfortunately.
A lot of the people from the upper classes are guaranteed seats, but not so many seats that there isn’t room for some people from the lower classes. And if people don’t show up, those seats are given to the lower classes on a first come first serve basis. It’s a bit of a mess, but what are you going to do? You can’t upset the upper classes because they hold all the power.
JACQ: That blows. Not surprised, though. Have you ever been to a service there?
GENEVA: I have, usually on like college trips.
JACQ: What is it like? Like, how do you worship?
GENEVA: Okay so... you go in and take your seat.
JACQ: Are there assigned seats?
GENEVA: Not really. It’s based on the order you come in. So the people in the front go to the first row on the left, then the center row in the front and then the right front row, and so on.
JACQ: Are these, like… benches? Rows of chairs?
GENEVA: They’re chairs, it’s uh like your theatre seating. But the seats are fancier. They’re really old. They’re carved in these windswept patterns. I think it’s wood that's been gilded.
JACQ: Fancy! Is it like that at regular temples? Like with the carvings and stuff.
GENEVA: It varies a lot. Some of them try to emulate the temple of Aviana, and others are far simpler, just plain wooden benches.
JACQ: Okay okay okay, I could pull this apart for an hour, so like. Praying. What's that like?
GENEVA: Well, first they start playing this big organ, and there's a choir that sings. Like they don’t sing words, they make noises like wind, and it’s so loud and all around you and you just close your eyes and you focus on the sound.
JACQ: Oh! Is there not like... a leader, beyond the choir? A priestess or something.
GENEVA: Well, there are sermons, given by the temple clerics, but they’re not really involved in the praying. I mean, they pray with us, and sometimes there’s something special they want us to think about.
GENEVA: It’s...an experience. The sound really carries you away.
JACQ: It sounds amazing. I would love to see it some time.
Uh. Back to the city?
GENEVA: Yes. Back to Aellark, now.
Aellark is also the center of Knowledge for Avonne. Our University is housed there, so the city is filled with the brightest minds from throughout the country. They’re always making some new discovery or another.
JACQ: So what are we talking here? Like weapons and spells? Historical knowledge? Ways to improve the lives of the impoverished people? Oh! Does it cost money to get into the college, or can anyone get in?
GENEVA: Yes to all of those, I think. I mostly focus on any historical discoveries that they make. I know they made some changes to our troops’ crossbows a few years back, and there was an improvement someone made to plows to make them more efficient so that farmers had to do less work.
And yes, anyone can get in. Admission doesn’t cost anything. The operation costs are all covered by taxes and donations.
JACQ: God, that must be nice. I’m going to be paying my student loans till I die.
GENEVA: Yeah, your country kind of sucks from what I can tell. Maybe you should move to Aellark.
GENEVA: (laughs) Usually It’s me that’s doing that. It’s kinda nice to be the one causing it.
JACQ: Ahhh You!
SFX:Scuffling noises as Jacq tickles Geneva and Geneva scream/laughs in protest.
JACQ: There! Now get back to your script.
GENEVA: (smarmy) Yes Ma’am.
So our city makes the majority of its capital from brokering information, and exporting grain and magic items.
The plains are filled with large farms, which mostly grow grains, though we have a few orchards as well. For meat we have domesticated cattle, rabbits, and grouse.
JACQ: Did you, did you just like look at the high school guidelines for writing a report on like a state or a country or something? Do you have like... population numbers in there somewhere, too?
GENEVA: I don’t know how many people are in the city. We do censuses but it’s not a big deal. We don’t post the numbers or anything.
JACQ: So then, yes, that's exactly what you did? You just left out the stuff you didn’t know.
GENEVA: And replaced it with other things that were more relevant.
JACQ: I love you.
GENEVA: We have a large standing military force. They have a small presence in the city. We occasionally get raided by surrounding countries trying to take territory at our borders. The city itself has been taken many times in the past, though we’ve had hold of it for a couple hundred years now.
JACQ: Who had it before you? Why did you take it?
GENEVA: It’s our city. It was taken from us so we took it back. It was this horrible group who called themselves the Freewill Empire. They spent most of their time in the city hoarding all the wealth of the land. People in the outlying colonies were starving and just waiting for their chance to take over again.
JACQ: Okay, that sounds bad, but also maybe like propaganda. Like... it wasn’t always your city. You said that people think that the drow grew that crystal spire. So shouldn’t it belong to them?
GENEVA: I-It’s our home. But I mean just because they grew one crystal doesn’t… yeah. I’ll think about this. Can we cut this part?
JACQ: Sure, you wanna wrap up?
And that’s Aellark! I mean I could talk about it a lot more, but we only have so much podcast time. Right Jacq?
JACQ: Right Geneva! And thank you all for listening to my very poorly named show.
THERIN: Closing matter