Monday, January 5, 2015

A Bit of Inspiration

Being a collection of potentially game-inspiring non-gaming articles from my blogroll over the last month...

1) Mithril Anyone?
Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a "High-Entropy Metal Alloy" that has a higher strength-to-weight ratio than any other existing metal material. The new metal combines lithium, magnesium, titanium, aluminum and scandium (20%) to make a nanocrystalline high-entropy alloy that has low density, but very high strength.
"The density is comparable to aluminum, but it is stronger than titanium alloys," says Dr. Carl Koch, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at NC State and senior author of the paper. "It has a combination of high strength and low density that is, as far as we can tell, unmatched by any other metallic material. The strength-to-weight ratio is comparable to some ceramics, but is tougher--less brittle--than ceramics."
At this point, the primary problem with the alloy is that it is made of 20 percent scandium, which is extremely expensive. "One thing we'll be looking at is whether scandium can be replaced or eliminated from the alloy," Koch says.
Because every Fantasy or Sci-Fi campaign needs more ultra-strong, ultra-light-weight metals to make swords and spaceships out of...
2) The "Bone-worm"...
Genus Osedax are a group of deep-sea dwelling worms that borrow into the bones of dead animals (s,p. whale carcasses) to feast on the marrow--earning them the name "Bone Worms" or "Zombie Worms"...
That's right Bone-eating...ZOMBIE...WORMS...Now all we need to do is make them Giant... 
But wait! The Osedax story grew even stranger when researchers found that the large female worms contained harems of tiny dwarf males. So we've got big mother-worms that host swarms of smaller bone-eating males.
But wait again! A new species has been found where "the males are TENS OF THOUSANDS OF TIMES LARGER than those of other Osedax worms" and "he can extend his body ten-times its contracted state" to find a mate, which is why it has been named Osedax Priapus (after the Greek phallus god).
Giant Bone-eating Zombie Worms...
Proof that god loves GMs...
3) In other deep-sea exploration news...
The Aboleth have been discovered in the Mariana Trench. At least, this new pale, tentacly, eel-like, snail-fish discovered below 26000 feet by "Project HADES" (HADal ecosystems studies) looks like one to me.
Researchers are picking the new organisms apart looking at a protective molecule that prevents the cells of these creatures from breaking down under such extreme pressure as a way of treating human diseases caused by malformed proteins such as cystic fibrosis and Alzheimers.
Suddenly Alchemists the world over become even more interested in the secretions of the tentacled deep-sea monstrosities as a means of treating major neurological problems (which were probably caused by the psionic beasties in the first place).
4) The seventh son of a seventh son will be a werewolf unless adopted?
In a lovely ceremony last week, the president of Argentina, Christina Fernández de Kirchner, became the godmother of Yair Tawil (second from left). Contrary to some reports, this had nothing to do with him turning into a werewolf. Not directly, anyway.
Yair Tawil is the seventh son of his family, which according to Argentine legend means that he is cursed to become a werewolf on every full moon after his 13th birthday unless he is adopted by another family. (Seventh daughters become witches.) Argentine presidents have been "adopting" seventh sons or daughters since 1907
The Guardian says that there is indeed an old legend in which a seventh son, or even worse, the seventh son of a seventh son, is likely to fall victim to the curse of the lobizón. The lobizón is sort of a werewolf...but more awesome!
In the Argentinian version, the lobizón transforms into a mixture of pig and dog every Tuesday and Friday night—not just once every full moon. Unlike other werewolves of myth, the lobizón transmits its curse not through its bite but by passing between the legs of its unfortunate victims.
But the presidential-adoption tradition is "not in any way connected" to the werewolf legend. Rather, it apparently derives from a Russian tradition in which the Tsar became godfather to seventh sons, a custom that Russian immigrants asked Argentina's president to adopt in 1907. A law was later passed providing that every person "who has been sponsored by the Chief Executive" in this way will receive a gold medal and a scholarship. The law doesn't seem to mention the werewolf thing, but that would certainly be another potential benefit.
Of course, the Russian tradition itself arose from a similar legend, which means that the Argentine adoption law ultimately is werewolf-based...
There are plenty of folk traditions around the world involving seventh sons, or seventh sons of seventh sons, although the special powers such people are said to have are not necessarily evil. Like the "Luck Child" from Jim Henson's "Storyteller" series...

Convincing a NPC major public figure to adopt you so that you do not turn into a Were-Pig-Dog sounds like an awesome setup for an adventure...