A Writer Who Cast a Spell From Which I Have no Desire to Escape

She was born Mary Alice Norton, but the Science Fiction/Fantasy World knew her as Andre Norton.  She was a magnificent writer and her work has had a profound effect on my imagination (and as I have mentioned before her creation: Witch World helped me build Relmorin).  I do not recall which book of Ms. Norton’s I read first, Lore of the Witch World or Spell of the Witch World, but which ever it was, it led me to seek out more and more of her work.  On Wednesday, June 4, 2014, I started reading The Warding of Witch World and once again I am swept up into magic and mystery of her work.  Whenever I think of Rilmorn, I think of it in terms provided by Andre Norton and her Witch World.

There are many examples wherein Witch World and other works by Ms. Norton have shaped Rilmorn.  It was through the Witch World novels and stories that I was introduced to the concept of “Gates,” portals that allow one to travel between realities.  “Rilmorn” translates into “Gateway” in Orthoni, one of the primordial languages of Rylmorrin, because of the number of Gates that cover the world.  While the Chalice of Dragons in my game and the Dragon Silver Scale Cup in Ms. Norton’s work have nothing in common in their nature, I took the image from Andre Norton’s Work and used it to create an essential element of my world.  The Rylmoré Cluster archipelago uses a system of names for its years based on Norton’s Year of the Unicorn (the Forgotten Realms uses a like system and I stole year names from them, too).  The Sanderzani of my world were influenced by the Sulcar.  Places of Power, odd-shaped towers, and the Colours of Magic all come from Norton’s work.  There are probably many more, but I cannot recall them now.  Suffice it to say that without Andre Norton and her work, Rilmorn would be a far less interesting place.

Other authors have influenced my games, but none as much as Andre Norton.  I am sorry that I never got to correspond with or meet her.  I would have loved to hear all about how she developed her worlds and put them to paper for the rest of us.

If you don’t know her work, go find a book of hers and Read On!



“But, That’s Not DnD!”

Rilmorn is a D&D world.  It started as a dungeon with a wilderness map.  In time, I added a city map, then came the BIG continent map.  I stole gods and pantheons from history, mythology, and Dragon Magazine.  I lifted names and words out of Tolkien’s Silmarillion (“Rilmorn” translates into “Bright Darkness”).  Witch World and Gwynedd were the bones upon which I applied the flesh of Rilmorn.  For many years, I ran a pseudo-medieval, Euro-styled, fantasy game.  Yet, even in those early days, I couldn’t help but stretch the boundaries of my world; it got more extreme.

Dungeons and Dragons was originally about exploring underground labyrinths and strongholds, while battling monsters.  I was fairly standard and followed those guidelines, when I first began, but I wanted more for my game.  Dungeons and cities existed in places with cultivated and wild lands.  I built very a basic ecology to explain what the bigger monsters fed upon.  I tried to build societies in which the PCs could interact.  I attempted to provide my players with the illusion of a living world in which they could suspend their disbelief while we played our D&D games.

Because I knew that I didn’t have all the answers on how to do such things, (Truth be told I did not even know that that was what I was doing) I took from other sources to make what I hoped was a better game.  I added names for magic weapons and items from the role playing game Bushido.  I dropped the Gamma World module Legion of Gold into one game.  I used magic effects tables from Man, Myth, and Magic.  I loved the Middle Earth Role Playing Critical and Fumble tables.  Some of it worked, some didn’t.  Then I began to let my players design things both in-character and out-of-character.

Suddenly, I had monster teleportals hidden in caves under my main city of Kardon.  Some of my PCs were humans mixed with giant blood.  I got a square lake on my main continent, Moytonia, when my ideas of world building clashed too much with a friend’s ideas.  An PC elf rolled up a merchant family empire from tables  in Oriental Adventures.  PCs began running around with World War II style guns, after we played The Keep from Mayfair Games.  A pro-psionic PC founded a psionic monastery and warrior order, built massive weapons using psionic power, and established a culture that was pro-psionics and anti-magics–all of which led to the Wolf Wars that redefined the nature of my world.

Years have passed. My PCs have been vikings born in a world, whose dangers have included cities of robots, undead kingdoms, and tribes of wolfmen.  Others have been desert dwelling heroes, who fought against weapons left over from the Wolf Wars and defeated a version of Acererak that was attempting to meld the heroes reality with one that would have given Acererak nigh unlimited power.  Still others were an all elven musical band that defeated an invasion from the Far Realm.  Now, I have PCs that have gone from simple adventurers exploring ruins and getting gold to merchant lords traveling the world in a flying,  steam-powered ship, while attempting to continue building the city that they founded and restoring a mystical wood hidden in another dimension.  Other PCs have decided to become gypsies and are enhancing a magical network that allows them speedy travel from one place to another.

Deviating from the D&D Standard, sure has given me a fun world.  Game On!