A [Whiteleaf] Glossary

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willpell
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A [Whiteleaf] Glossary

Post by willpell » Fri Dec 04, 2015 2:14 am

My long paragraphs about my beloved CS are hard to read, I know, and I'm trying to fix this. Here's my latest attempt at an easy entry point: a list of short "dictionary" definitions of words that don't really exist, but which are realities in the lives of Whiteleavians. I will try *really* hard to be succinct. If stuff is still TLDR, let me know and I'll try to move the long article elsewhere, leaving a Cliff Notes version here.

ACJUAR: Acronymic name of a putative entity, both more and less powerful than a god in certain ways, which is thought to act "behind the scenes" upon reality for some unknown purpose, ensuring that things turn out in a fashion contrary to what would "naturally" occur (despite this, they are not thought to be agents of "madness" by those who are aware of this "anti-natural" quasi-alignment force). The Atheist Armada is one of the few agencies which believes in these things, but even they try to avoid mentioning them, as the concept tends to make it seem as though they're losing the argument and have to resort to mummery to silence a rational inquiry; the result makes them seem to betray everything they stand for, and thus the Factors tend to discourage its use. (Think "Godwin's Law"; the overall effect is similar.)

Antique: A magic item of considerable antiquity and/or power.

Anzelig: A term coined to describe the "unseelie court" of the Fey, by those who object to the perjorative nature of that label. The Unseelie are generally motivated by a particular combination of Anger and Panic, which is sometimes inaccurately understood as Desperation; the word "anzelig" (not capitalized; the halfling version adds the "eR-" prefix instead) is also used for this feeling itself. The main difference between Desperation and "anzelig" is that the latter is powerfully tied to a sense of urgency; the Anzelig Fey demand action right now, claiming that even a mere moment of delay is intolerable, because every second of passing time is both everlasting and irreplaceable once lost, thus that even the tiniest of frustrations can "seem" to last forever. (For "seem", substitute "feel like" or "be accurately perceived as", if wishing to further endorse this perspective; even then, though, the untranslatable Arcadian word for this concept leaves no doubt possible as to how pitifully inadequate all of those words, put together, still are when compared to the actual emotion).

Bafflebug: A rumored monster about which almost nothing is known, given that ostensible witnesses to its presence, without any yet-documented exceptions, are left babbling incoherently and/or completely amnesiac about the encounter. Somehow, the rambling accounts of the creature are always in Tradespeak, even among speakers who normally prefer to avoid it (no documented cases yet exist of a victim who didn't know it at all), and heavily feature words that begin with the letter "B". Given that this alphabetic glyph's formal name is variously given either as Bosom or Buttocks, it is regarded as the most sexually-charged letter in the Common Tongue...thusly, current theories suggest that the Bafflebug somehow overloads a center in the brain related to primitive human reproductive impulses, triggering a cascade of self-denials and shame-urges which completely unravel the capacity for coherent thought. Mercifully, the effect seldom lasts long.

"Behind the Lighthouse: Whiteleaf's equivalent to "under the radar".

Buffalo: Not only the name of a fearsome celestial creature, who roam the Happy Hunting Ground in packs so vast they extend from one horizon to the other, but also a colloquial term for "bully", derived from the fearsomeness of these trenchant herdbeasts.

Curio: An obscure magic item, whose power level and age are difficult to guess.

Emporium: General term for a shop specializing in magic items (aka novelties, curious, and occasional antiques).

Errant: Term for a delusional knight who crusades in the service of a cause which is either ridiculous or entirely imaginary. The "knight errant" was once a romantic archetype, but has been dramatically deconstructed by the bardic fellowship of the Empire, who popularize the truth of these unstable warriors (and other bards that may well set them on their path).

Fabe: "Fornicate At the Behest of an Emperor". A persistent vulgarism which is based on an entirely false accusation from centuries ago, which has passed into the common vernacular. Refers to a smear campaign that early opponents levied against the Empire of the day, with enough skill that it stuck in the public consciousness even after being fully debunked. Is on the verge of becoming entirely meaningless due to commonplace usage; one island nation is reputed, with more accuracy than you would expect, to speak the word as practically every third in a typical sentence.

Harp: Slang term for the male genital organ. Derived from the instrument's poetic terms among early bards (who were almost always male at the time, and notoriously promiscuous), "glee-beam" and "joy-wood".

Harper: Slang term for a person who metaphorically is a male genital organ. The loose female equivalent is "piper", although several political advocates have observed that this is as much a disparagement of the woman's sexual partners as of herself.

Harping: Equivalent to "onanism". Also a term for harassment in general, specifically a persistent refusal to desist in sexual advances. Almost never used in reference to women; when these continually harangue a desirable male, various other terms are used instead, depending greatly on context.

"Havoc and cacophony!": Battle cry of the Chaos Lords, rallying slogan of the urban counterculture, and common oath of consternation among rough-edged types in the back country. Thusly, how you react to hearing this phrase largely depends on where you are; in a small wilderness town it means nothing, but saying it to a Red Guard in the capital is likely to get you thrown in the Tank for a night, and hearing it on Ysgard or Acheron (even from some distance) likely provokes you to instantly ready your weapons and defenses.

Hrair: "Either four or six, but definitely not five". Druids have learned conclusively that non-Awakened rabbits can conceptualize the number Four, but not the number Five, using their extremely limited brainpower. Numerologists, geometers, loremasters and the like have observed that many questions of cosmic importance have "4 or 6" (and factors thereof, in some cases) as their only possible answers. At some point, someone in group A talked to someone in group B, and the latter decided that rabbits were the answer. Thusly, the word which a druid claimed was "rabbit speech" for "any number from five on up" instead became the proper term for "exactly not five". Some will even go so far as to count "four, hrair, six" and refuse to use the number 5 at all, regarding it as unlucky (although 7 is more widely considered to represent misfortune, given that it is just shy of being 8).

Hurak's Law: "Whatever can possibly go wrong, it is virtually guaranteed to", or words to that effect. Nobody is entirely sure who Hurak is, although a number of people have suggested that he is a member of a short, blue, magic-hating subrace of goblins, which are occasionally called "murphs". Nobody can ever recall having actually met a Murph, however, let alone one with a name even vaguely confusible with Hurak.

Mark Stag and May Stag: Imperial terms for an unidentified person, depending on their gender. Used primarily in legal proceedings and in bureaucratic death records (the latter are in their infancy), but has also passed into casual parlance in certain contexts. This last phenomenon is rumored at times to be the work of the Empire's intelligence officers, wishing to pass coded messages in plain speech while not seeming out of place. No definitive basis for these rumors has been substantiated.

Novelty: A cheap, weak, and/or recently-made magic item.

Orchard: A slang term for the Empire, referencing a number of fruit-related aphorisms and nicknames that pertain to it. Best-known of these are the phrase 'as Imperial as cherry pie', and the legend that the son of the first Emperor, prior to inheriting the title himself, chopped down an apple tree and then publically admitted responsibility for the act. The latter incident never actually occurred, but it is still often cited as an example of Imperial principles regarding honesty and accountability, to the point that the seventeenth Emperor created an applewood golem in the 76th year of his reign, gave it the face of the second Emperor, and Awakened it to serve as one of the Empire's many itinterant protectors.

Playing Nine Holes: A crude euphemism referring to a MFFF foursome, with no limits imposed by sanity or sanitation. Suggests an overwhelming degree of decadence and irresponsibility; if wishing to emphasize the point even further, one conventionally doubles the number of "holes" referred to, rather than increasing it to any lesser degree. The male instigator of such a debauch is sometimes referred to as a "bogey-man".

Plou-Sa-Mem: A popular genre of bardic performances, wildly popular in spite of their abstruse and somewhat impenetrable nature. The most perspicacious members of the audience will eventually figure out that all such shows have a common theme - to demonstrate that life is inherently unpredictable, and that sudden change is neither disastrous nor irreversible, that ultimately all things are possible and that it is counterproductive to try and control events. Several troubadors regard the style as being intimately connected with the very heart of the minstrel tradition, and indeed the handful of ex-bards who have lost their creative spark also seem to reliably despise a Plou-Sa-Mem show whenever they see one.

Rainbow: While still technically correct, this word is almost never used to describe a prismatic spread of numerous colors; "spectrum" is preferred instead. Peasant superstition (whose origin has been traced back to the Silver Mountain region) claims that a figure of great mythic power answers to the use of the word "rainbow", possibly even having it as his name, and that he expresses great pique at being summoned frivolously. Combine that with the fact that wearing as many as eight clashing colors at once is generally regarded as garish, and there isn't much instance of the kind of "rainbow power" on Whiteleaf which might be implied by the continuing use of the Prismatic line of spells.

Registrar: A bureaucrat (and often a mage) who specializes in the practice of officiating celestially-approved nomenclature. Agents of the Registry of Auspicious, Meaningful and Exacting Nomenclature (RAMEN) are usually consulted by anyone who has to name anything; choosing a name which "doesn't harmonize properly" is regarded as profoundly bad luck. Virtually no one on Whiteleaf accidentally has a name which forms a terrible pun, such as "Herman Stout" or "Amanda Huggins", and Registrars are the reason why. The job is prestigious and relatively easy, so positions in the Registry are sought by many, and afforded only to the best.

Salt and Garlic: Refers to a mixture of yellow-or-white and white-or-gray, often used in reference to women who are slowly losing their natural hair color (in defiance of the infrequency with which that color happens to be yellow). The phrase is familiar because nearly every public house in the Empire puts a dish of salt and one of garlic powder on each table large enough for more than 2 or 3 people to sit at (in some upscale taverns, there may be a single two-partitioned dish even on these smaller tables, or the dishes on large ones may even be replaced with a small glass bottle with either a shaker top or a grinding-mill, depending on whether the bottle contains whole cloves and chunks of rock salt or if the contents are already powdered). The dishes or bottles are conventionally colored white (for garlic) and gray (for salt), sometimes even bearing an illustration of a large salt crystal and a whole garlic fruit. While other spices are sometimes offered, they are expensive enough to be kept behind the counter and added only by the staff; generous Imperial subsidies to the salt-mining and garlic-farming industries have made these two seasonings commonplace, and Imperial cooking regularly uses both in excessive quantities - although wise hospitality workers permit the diner to flavor their own meal as preferred, avoiding complaints from travelers with low tolerances.

"Sheathed the Rapier": A drow expression for what the real-world French call l'esprit du scalier ("the spirit of the stairs"), a witty rejoinder thought of just a moment too late for one to actually say it.

Yeenagh: The hyena-men of Whiteleaf, whom the ignorant occasionally call "gnolls", having never met a gnome-troll crossbreed. (Such things are mercifully uncommon.) A few animal-wise individuals have observed that the female Hyena is larger, more powerful, and has genital peculiarities which reinforce its dominance over the species's males, and ignorantly assume that all of this is true of the Yeenagh as well. Whether these creatures are in fact "anthropomorphic" hyenas is up for debate, but regardless of the answer, the Yeenagh's females are smaller and weaker than their males, and seem to live in utter terror of them at all times, so clearly the system of natural hyenas does not extend to these creatures. Their racial mythology denies the role of deities in their creation, and instead they are said to be created by a demon prince; this ostensible "overboar" clearly does not seek to breed female Yeenagh as fitting companions for his august self, as the aforementioned hyena-loving naturalists tend to assume he would.

Zelig: Backronym derived from "anzelig", almost never used by anyone who would prefer "seelie", and often even rejected by others. "Zelig" is a deliberately insulting characterization of this Fey Court, and/or of the emotional impulse that they ostensibly thrive upon, which is thought to be an intentionally "backwards" cognitive process by which Desire and Frustration follow Despair rather than proceeding it. In this model, "darkest winter" gives rise to "spring flourishing", and beings somehow transubstantiate the bleakest of depressive, nihilistic thoughts into unrestrained hedonism. Observed human behavior almost never matches this mold, and thus the so-called Zelig fey are perhaps victims of a smear campaign...but then again, maybe they're just very good at hiding what's really going on, beneath a veneer of civility and noble behavior. Certainly, those using the term "Zelig" would prefer you believe the latter version.

Zh'klet: Small reptilian humanoids with a penchant for trapmaking, generally aligned with Law and Evil, and a considerable nuisance in certain border provinces. They are frequently mislabelled "kobolds" by those unfamiliar with the subterranean goblinoid species which properly deserves that name.

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willpell
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Re: A [Whiteleaf] Glossary

Post by willpell » Wed Dec 19, 2018 7:35 pm

Scintilla: These crystals are widely known of in areas with enough money and enough knowledge of magic that anyone might be interested in them; they are found in "ruby", "emerald", "sapphire", "amethyst", and "diamond" varieties, and only these five colors have been seen, although persistent rumor suggest there may be others, such as "topaz" and "jacinth". Each one appears to be a palm-sized square gemstone which gleams and shines internally in an obviously magical fashion; a clear scintilla appears to be a diamond which would be worth over 1000 gold, and the others are nearly as valuable, but in fact, the gem's brilliant internal sparkle, which grants color to the other four varieties and a coruscation of small rainbows to the "diamond", is derived from a localized magical matrix which the scintilla is connected to immediately when created. When the crystal is disconnected from its housing, it immediately loses its inner light and any derived color, becoming effectively a block of gray glass, which cannot be reused for any practical application beyond throwing it like a rock; such objects are not worth even 1 GP, and the manufacturer has a vested interest in making sure everyone knows this. Known as the Magicians, Artificers and Jewelers International Incorporated (MAJII), the company which creates and installs the scintillae, the company devotes a tremendous effort to preventing thieves from prying out the brilliant "gems" which decorate various dungeon doors, statues and the like, often as part of a puzzle-based locking mechanism or a protective enchantment.

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