|Pieter Claeszoon – Still Life with a Skull and a Writing Quill (1628,
Oil on wood; 9 1-2 x 14 1-8 in./ 24.1 x 35.9 cm)
can be found on the following website
below is designated as Open Game Content
As is customary with most
professions, writers organize into small groups and communities, sharing their
passions, ideas and creations with their fellow artists. Some of these congregations
gather purely for business reasons, while others function as eclectic and loosely
affiliated entities, serving little practical aim other than sharing a common
interest. Regardless of their purpose, these associations provide a valuable
resource for the writing community. Within the creative halls of these social
fraternities, writers exchange bold new ideas, constantly expanding the creative
boundaries of their craft. Poets debate the virtues of free verse, playwrights
challenge traditional theatrical conventions, and composers echo the emotions
stirring deep within their murky souls. The organizations structure often
embodies the cultural values espoused by society in general.
Clearly, permanent establishments
are also the most visible and easily recognized forms of writing communities.
Churches, monasteries, universities and courts provide a solid foundation for
burgeoning writers as well as fulfilling societal needs and expectations. The
institutions inherent discipline results in the prolific production of
wellwritten and scholarly texts. Unfortunately, stability usually breeds complacency
and conformity. The rigid and stoic bureaucracy administering many of these
entities often vehemently dismisses radical and unconventional thoughts. Creativity
frequently stagnates in the quagmire of ideological suspicion, superstition
and suppression, while impassive pragmatism runs amok. Despite the imposing
obstacles, some adventurous writers buck authority and promulgate daring concepts
contradictory to traditional teachings. Vigorously debunked by the entrenched
establishment, these intellectual clashes arouse public sentiment and in some
rare instances, spark a firestorm of rebellion within the communitys membership.
Private and semi-private
institutions, such as concert halls and theaters also exist, however their autonomy
does not always exempt them from censorship. Governments maintain a wary eye
on the fledgling institutions, closely monitoring them for immoral and politically
|Heyman Dullaert. A trompe l’oeil with plumes in an ink bottle, a letter,
a seal stamp, a delft pot and a bottle, arranged upon a wooden shelf.
Oil on Panel
In many primitive, sedentary
societies, churches represent the only bastions of education and knowledge.
Tucked away within the churchs inner recesses, scribes tirelessly labor
in the buildings scriptorium, painstakingly transcribing its collection
of books. Despite the endless reproduction of these valuable texts, most churches
covetously hoard their stores of knowledge, unwilling to share them even with
their congregations. In fact, many clergymen consider an illiterate and uneducated
populace a blessing. Unable to intellectually challenge the churchs dogmas
and supremacy, the citizenry unquestioningly accepts the societal values imposed
by its clerics. Because of the strict limitations placed on individual creativity,
scribes are the only writers that emerge from these churches.
In more sophisticated,
cosmopolitan societies, churches play a more active role in the education and
enlightenment of their congregations. Although censorship still exists, the
church provides free elementary education to all children and shares some of
its knowledge with its constituents. While these churches vigorously denounce
controversial ideas, their proponents are graciously encouraged to rejoin their
group, gather than face violent persecution. And although scribes and scholars
are still the most prevalent groups of writers in these churches, some playwrights
and musical composers specializing in morality plays and hymns also exist amidst
Of course, the churchs
ultimate outlook depends entirely upon its patron deity. The clergy of an evil
god of chaos and murder undoubtedly prefers ignorant, fanatical followers, while
a good deity of magic assuredly demands educated and articulate devotees. Lawful
deities train and retain some of their clerics as barristers, promulgating the
churchs dogmas and doctrines through legal authority.
Often secluded from the
outside world, monasteries provide an unspoiled sanctuary of contemplation and
reflection. Despite the monasterys emphasis on inner peace, regimentation
and discipline abound within its fortified walls. Similar to a church, monasteries
also employ scribes, charging them with the task of duplicating the monasterys
vast collection of documents. Unlike churches though, monasteries strongly encourage
individual creativity and greatly admire brazen intellects, provided that their
proponents curtail their proliferation outside of the monasterys walls.
Monasteries jealously guard their intellectual secrets, sharing their knowledge
with only a handful of privileged individuals.
Despite its rigorous and
cloistered lifestyle, a few writing styles flourish within its confines. Scribes,
accustomed to its harsh and rigid conditions, comprise much of its ranks. Scholars
also thrive, gleefully immersing themselves in its endless volumes of books
and tomes. Because of their highly suspicious nature, some monasteries employ
the services of cryptographers; document experts specifically trained to detect
forgeries. Many of its residents view the monastery as an oasis of enlightenment
in a dark desert of ignorance.
Devoid of the religious
dogmas of churches and the regimentation of monasteries, universities provide
a fertile foundation for the budding intellects of its adolescent pupils. Despite
their sprawling size and virtual self-sufficiency, they are usually located
within or on the outskirts of large, cosmopolitan cities, relying heavily on
the support of its infrastructure as well as its population for prospective
students. Because of its intricate ties to the community, universities and city
governments are often interconnected; a number of the same individuals hold
offices with both entities. The relationship proves lucrative for both parties.
Through the generosity
of wealthy alumni and steep tuition fees, universities amass substantial libraries
rivaling those of their institutional counterparts. Naturally, their exorbitant
costs limit enrollment to only the wealthiest and brightest students. The universities
reciprocate by attracting rich merchants and their families into the city, infusing
a steady stream of cash into the local economy.
As an income generating
business, universities seek to include as many diverse disciplines as possible
without lowering their high standards of admission. For this reason, universities
provide extensive programs in a number of liberal arts including poetry, literature,
music and social sciences. Scholars comprise most of the universitys general
faculty and administrative positions, while renowned artists teach the specialized
fields. Because of their unwillingness to lose revenue, universities avoid confrontations
with students regarding creativity issues. They reserve such challenges only
for the most violent and politically insensitive ideologies, preferring to handle
such matters with the utmost discretion and secrecy.
Universities are the havens
of barristers, scholars and the patrons of lyrical poets, musical composers
and playwrights. Even after graduating, many of these individuals return to
their alma mater, engaging in the open and unbiased exchange of fresh ideas
and beliefs with their former instructors and classmates.
Established for the purpose
of resolving legal disputes, courts are the only institution controlled directly
by the government. As an instrument of the government, courts exert and maintain
their authority over the citizens through the creation, enactment, implementation
and application of law. Governed by volumes of strict regulations, courts perform
their duties based upon an intricate set of rules, often befuddling ordinary
citizens unaccustomed to its unique jargon and strict protocol. Consistent with
its approach towards its proceedings, courts strictly monitor rulings, and generate
many briefs and memos. Frivolous and baseless legal arguments perpetrated by
any party, especially barristers, result in the swift censure of its proponent.
Courts permanently or temporarily prohibit the barrister from practicing law,
while ordinary citizens expounding these ridiculous legal challenges face hefty
fines and occasionally incarceration.
Despite the rigidity of
this institution, masterful and innovative pieces of legislation and legal thought
continuously stream through its hallowed halls. Some legal interpretations presented
within its confines prove so compelling that they establish new precedents in
the implementation and application of various laws. Courts largely remain the
domain of barristers, although a handful of scholars and scribes occasionally
dabble in its proceedings.
Theaters occupy a unique
niche in the writing community as a hybrid linking the conventional and the
unconventional. Although a fully functioning business entity, theaters lack
the administrative support inherent in traditional institutions. Instead, groups
of actors known as companies operate and manage the theaters financial
affairs while also writing and performing its repertoire of plays. Despite its
autonomy, many local governments carefully scrutinize the plays content,
immediately censoring politically or morally inflammatory content. In the most
successful theaters, one company produces all of the theaters annual productions,
however the industrys economic volatility often mandates several companies
mutually sharing its costs and proceeds. Fortunately for the genres admirers,
this competitive relationship between rival companies spurs the competitive
juices of its playwrights, who constantly strive to supersede their
colleagues literary triumphs. The systems most distinguished playwrights
eventually graduate from the theater system and obtain permanent positions in
royal courts and on wealthy citizens estates. Bereft of the necessity
of commercial success, these playwrights pen literatures darkest and most
provocative character studies. Theaters are the exclusive domain of playwrights.
Unlike theaters, concert
halls are predominantly owned and operated by wealthy benefactors usually in
loose affiliation with the local or regional governments. Although relieved
of the financial responsibilities of ownership, musical composers encounter
a number of unique hurdles. Its relationship with government officials ensures
some regulatory oversight of its musical content. However, its primary obstacle
is its proprietors lack of musical expertise and appreciation. Performances
are frequently obtained through bribery, flattery and nepotism rather than artistic
merit. Intrigues abound behind the gilded walls of the concert hall, as inept
and less talented composers benefiting from this system repeatedly stifle the
efforts of more prodigious composers to acquire commissions. Despite its obvious
shortcomings, perseverance and dedication eventually reward intrepid composers
whose astounding works capture the publics forlorn imaginations. In many
instances, the formulaic musical pieces composed by its owners relatives
and sycophants fade from collective memory, replaced by the captivating melodies
of its greatest talents. Concert halls are the exclusive domains of musical
composers, especially practitioners of the operatic form.
On the other hand, the
disorganized, bohemian gatherings of writers spawn a myriad of stimulating and
innovative new ideas. These groups lampoon the foibles of traditional convention,
and instead explore untapped nuances of language and sound. While the quality
of work produced usually exceeds that of their organized counterparts, the quantity
remains sorely lacking.
Undisciplined and often
without direction, few of their conceptual experiments capture enough of their
attention to sustain them to fruition. Many ideas wither in the planning stages,
unable to stir their authors creativity beyond conception. Of course exceptions
exist, and the intrepid individuals that persevere through the morass of inaction
achieve artistic immortality, penning some of civilizations greatest literary
and musical masterpieces.
Meeting primarily in large,
cosmopolitan cities, poetic societies afford aspiring poets an outstanding opportunity
to acquire acclaim among their fellow poets as well as hone their developing
craft. Usually founded by an established poet or circle of poets, these informal
gatherings include esoteric debates on poetic devices and recitations of its
members newest poems. Criticism flows freely from its members, although
senior poets temper offensive and defamatory remarks. Devoid of any formal membership
requirements, societies experience significant turnaround as poets enter and
leave the society in rapid, unabated succession. Despite the continuous turmoil,
a solid core of dedicated poets ensures its continued survival.
Eclectic bands of wandering
entertainers, troubadours travel a well-worn circuit of taverns, lavish homes
and royal courts. Their ranks primarily include lyrical poets and musical composers
as well as the occasional playwright and, of course, bards. Although their nomadic
lifestyle impinges significantly on their creative output, their diverse travels
expose them to new literary and musical styles unknown to sedentary performers.
Rarely specialized in one artistic discipline, many troubadours possess a diverse
background of literary and musical talents rarely found in their urban counterparts.
Unfortunately for many, the constant turmoil of life on the road eventually
impacts their health and stamina, forcing their premature retirement.
Only recently emerging
from the oral tradition, nomadic societies boast the most substantial populations
of warrior poets. Refining and transcribing epic poems bequeathed from past
generations, warrior poets informally gather, debating the nuances of words
and phrases translated from ancient forms of their native language. As a result
of the anonymous authorship of most ancient epic poems, warrior poets care little
about receiving credit for their work, freely exchanging and borrowing lines
and even entire passages from another poets creation. Although unburdened
by the stigma of plagiarism, the subject matter and rhyme scheme closely adhere
to a standard formula, effectively limiting their creative expression.
Operating in the shadowy
and nefarious world of criminal enterprise, guilds demand the services of skilled
cryptographers to communicate with field operatives and pen fraudulent documents.
Their loosely connected infrastructure depends upon secrecy for its very survival.
To this end, cryptographers play a critical role in the development of these
guilds, keeping their membership informed without compromising their identity.
In an effort to combat these organizations, governments also employ cryptographers,
to decipher their codes and arrest their members.
These faceless adversaries
covertly duel one another, desperately seeking the necessary pieces to unravel
the opponents mysterious codes. These incessant struggles precipitate
the creation of even more complex encryption methods. In more sophisticated
cultures, guilds also employ a small staff of barristers to defend its members
during criminal proceedings. Initially recruited from its own ranks, these legal
practitioners ply their trade exclusively for their guild, while still participating
in its criminal enterprises.
|Philip van Dijk (1683, Oud-Beijerland 1753, The Hague) Title
Common interests alone
do not spur the formation of the aforementioned groups. The participants
personalities play an essential role in determining the outlook, structure and
goals of these organizations. Writers rarely join the Profession for monetary
reasons. Instead an inner and indescribable hunger to communicate their emotions,
ideas, passions and desires motivates them to don their pen and pour their souls
onto a blank page. Despite the generally universal nature of their creative
urge, their reaction to its cravings shapes their personality in a variety of
manners. Although hardly all-inclusive, a number of major archetypal personality
types are provided. Intended solely as a guide, players may opt to select one
of the personality types discussed below or create their own.
The bohemian possesses
a smattering of attributes found in many of the other personality types described
below. With the educational background of the bookworm, the idealism of the
romantic and the social skills of the rake, they are generally wellrounded individuals.
However, their divergent interests frequently distract them from their task,
resulting in brilliant, but sporadic work. They care little for wealth and material
possessions, a fact demonstrated by their rather nomadic lifestyle. They make
a conscious effort to avoid traditional conventions, instead experimenting with
innovative and creative forms of their art. Lyrical poets, musical composers
and playwrights are best suited as bohemians.
The socially awkward, introspective
bookworm prefers the comfort and safety of a quiet, solitary library to any
social gathering. Possessing a remarkable Intelligence and mnemonic capacity,
bookworms are voracious readers, digesting vast quantities of information in
relatively short periods of time. Incredibly adept at producing scholarly texts
and comprehending complex theories and hypotheses, they paradoxically encounter
difficulties understanding and performing mundane, routine tasks. Although fairly
comfortable among a small group of their peers, their confidence deserts them
in a larger, integrated social setting. However, given time and effort, most
bookworms acclimate themselves to society in general. Barristers, cryptographers,
scholars and scribes are best suited as bookworms.
The Child Prodigy
Blessed at birth with an
astounding talent, the child prodigy soars past her contemporaries and enters
the adult world at an early age. At the behest and urging of a frequently domineering
parent, she spends most of her formative years on the road, traveling from one
performance to another. Often maturing into a spoiled and unruly youth, her
adult admirers indulge her deviant behavior, while awed by her unbelievable
abilities. Sadly, many child prodigies struggle with the transition from adolescent
to adulthood. Deprived of the carefree years of a normal child, many simply
burn out from overwork and parental neglect. Any writer is well suited as a
Driven by an almost childish
curiosity and naiveté, hedonists indulge their material desires regardless
of the cost. Sociable and impulsive, hedonists act as the centerpiece for any
party, freely showering acquaintances and flatterers with cash and gifts. Constantly
crushed by indebtedness, hedonists hurl themselves into their creative work,
waging a futile battle to generate more income than they spend. Vulnerability
to substance abuse and lecherous confidence men exasperate their financial woes,
ultimately leading to hopeless
addiction and poverty. Lyrical poets, musical composers, and playwrights are
best suited as hedonists.
Although similar in some
respects to the zealot, loyalists distinguish themselves from their fanatical
counterparts in a number of ways. Tremendously proud of their heritage and culture,
loyalists do not adhere to a particular political or religious agenda. Devout
students of history, loyalists write to instill cultural pride into its citizenry
through the heroic presentation of its past and present. In addition to their
creative skills, loyalists are also accomplished warriors, leading their nation
into battle against its foes. Despite their unswerving devotion and bravery,
loyalists do not seek martyrdom like zealots. Warrior poets are best suited
The smooth talking, suave
rake uses her bubbly charm and disarming physical appearance to her best advantage.
One step ahead of the law and spurned ex-lovers, the rake views life as an endless
escapade fraught with peril and opportunity alike. Always on the prowl for a
new sexual conquest, rakes spend much of their time and money at social events
or in common gathering places such as taverns, inns and restaurants. Rakes do
not discriminate based upon economic status; their social circles run the gamut
from the wealthy and powerful to the seedy and downtrodden. Society views them
as shallow, self-centered pariahs attempting to Constitution their way into their victims
purse, bed or both. However, in many instances, the rakes own insecurities
and fears fuel their seemingly insensitive behavior. Barristers, lyrical poets,
musical composers and playwrights are best suited as rakes.
Shy and introverted, romantics
adore their object of affection from afar, authoring countless verses and lyrics
praising the attributes of their beloved. Unable to reconcile their carnal desire
with their pure and rational ideals of love, romantics resign themselves to
the path of inaction, convinced that fate interceded against them. In most circumstances,
the romantics beloved is someone beyond their social or economic grasp
such as a married person, a royal family member or another powerful and influential
individual. Torn between the insatiable need to garner their loves attention
and the fear of rejection and ridicule, the romantic purges her emotions through
writing, secretly hoping and at the same time dreading that her suppressed longings
are discovered. Lyrical poets and playwrights are best suited as romantics.
Consciously avoiding the
pitfalls of emotion, stoics embrace a path of logic and discipline, viewing
life through the eyes of an impassive bystander. Regardless of their condition,
stoics accept the challenges fate bestows upon them. Even tempered in their
demeanor, they claim to experience none of the creative ebbs and flows of their
colleagues. Consistent with their general outlook, stoics approach their writing
as a necessary task rather than a labor of love, endeavoring to educate rather
than entertain their readership. Despite their insistent pleas, stoics never
succeed in completely suppressing their emotions, a charge substantiated by
their steadfast devotion to their philosophy. Barristers, cryptographers, scholars,
scribes and warrior poets are best suited as stoics.
Consumed by self doubt
and loathing, the tortured artist both longs and dreads admiration by her peers.
Although plagued by fits of debilitating melancholy and manic creativity, their
demeanor remains constant and level. Quiet, contemplative and often timid, the
tortured artist rarely initiates conversation, preferring listening over speaking.
As a result of their bipolar personality, tortured artists produce voluminous
quantities of work in compacted periods of time before again becoming dormant
and depressed. Unfortunately, many of them acquiesce to the demands of an overly
aggressive family member, friend or lover, eventually leading to their self-induced
destruction. Lyrical poets, musical composers and playwrights are best suited
as tortured artists.
Obstinate and headstrong,
zealots proudly and openly display their passion, loudly extolling the righteousness
of their cause. Whether motivated by national, political, racial or religious
fervor, zealots write to espouse and advance the merits of their belief. Discarding
the advantages of subtlety, zealots boldly proclaim their ideologies and goals
regardless of the consequences. Zealots view martyrdom as the ultimate expression
of their devotion. Despite their apparent convictions, zealots frequently contradict
and pervert many of their beliefs tenets for their own purposes. Barristers,
cryptographers, scholars and warrior poets are best suited as zealots.