Mavet Rav, probably one of the best articles of the e-zines

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Great article, very original and complete.

Some elements are close to CSI, but that is just funny.
Yes, an excellent article, especially because this city can be dropped into your campaign world very easily. The politics and NPCs are pre-made and fleshed out just enough to get a DM going. Very nice, very useful!!
Really, really nice! The possibilities for plot hooks are endless.

If this is the level of content that will be in Dragon then the price will be well worth it.
Its not bad. Certainly the best of the last four or five months. Was it just me or did it seem to have a very strong Noir theme? Good for Eberron, but probably not for the Realms.

Might be fun in Spelljammer though.

Most of the NPC's struck me as kind of generic, but thats more of an opinion, and something I can change if I ever use this in an adventure.
Can anyone with better familiarity with Hebrew translate some of the names?

A few of them I recognize: haim, meaning "life," or "living," almetim, meaning—I think—"undead," based on the plural form of met, meaning "death."

It would be interesting to know what the rest of the names mean, particularly the phrase "Mavet Rav" itself.

—Siran Dunmorgan
I also liked it a lot.
fo diggity Twitter: www.twitter.com/fodigg Comic Books You Should Have Read: http://tinyurl.com/ycxe9l7
I liked it alot to. It became one of my "must print" articles. I have quite a few now. I need to organize them and put them in a notebook.
I liked it alot to. It became one of my "must print" articles. I have quite a few now. I need to organize them and put them in a notebook.

I have a couple binders like that.
  • Star wars saga in-game info binder
  • Star wars saga general info binder
  • D&D 4E binder (needs to be split soon into stuff I need at the table while DMing and stuff that can be set aside)
fo diggity Twitter: www.twitter.com/fodigg Comic Books You Should Have Read: http://tinyurl.com/ycxe9l7
Can anyone with better familiarity with Hebrew translate some of the names?

A few of them I recognize: haim, meaning "life," or "living," almetim, meaning—I think—"undead," based on the plural form of met, meaning "death."

It would be interesting to know what the rest of the names mean, particularly the phrase "Mavet Rav" itself.

—Siran Dunmorgan

I borrowed this from an EN World post:
(http://www.enworld.org/showthread.php?t=223962)

Nice, but I would never be able to use it without giggling. "Mavet Rav" means "Lots of Death" in Hebrew. Imagine coming to the city Death-A-Lot....

Other Hebrew in the work:
"Haim" means living,
"Almetim" means undead (literally),
"Adon Nadiv" means generous-lord,
"Doker Believ", very close to "Doker Balev" meaning stabber-in-the-heart,
"Ben Gufot", meaning son-of-carparcaces,
"Naval Afel", meaning nefarious-villain,
"Kosem Ragil", meaning ordinary-wizard,
"Khoker Boker", meaning cowboy-investigator,
"Yom Balman", the first name means day,
"Rosh Kaatan", literally small-head, meaning someone who doesn't take initiative,
"Gibor Gadol", means great-hero,
"Yodekh Kola", suspiciously like "Yodeah Kol", meaning all-knowing.

Hope that helps.
I borrowed this from an EN World post:
(http://www.enworld.org/showthread.php?t=223962)
Hope that helps.

::chuckle:: I've been using Hebrew to characterize the undead race on my homebrew world for years. Damned convergent evolution of ideas.
I also felt the need to pop in and applaud this article. More like this, please, Wizards. Whoever the writer is, he or she deserves more work.
Howdy!

First post on Gleemx...

I want to thank everyone for the wonderful reviews, they really warmed my heart... thanks guys! Also, I would like to make a few short comments;

Kipper's translations are correct except that Boker means "morning" and not "cowby" (although "cowby investigator" is much funnier.)
Elessar: from your lips to the gods, aka "the editors"
Goldomark: Uri is indeed a Hebrew name, it means "my light". But don't let it confuse you - I'm wholly vested in the dark side.
Are we likely to see updated 4E stats for this article?
fo diggity Twitter: www.twitter.com/fodigg Comic Books You Should Have Read: http://tinyurl.com/ycxe9l7
To be honest, I was inspired by Sprague de Camp's "The Reluctant King" – not the book itself, but rather the very idea of using various "crazy" regimes in a game. My post-previous campaign was based on the PCs being normal citizens desperately looking for a normal country to live in. “Mavet Rav” was not where they settled…

I wasn't particularly inspired by CSI, though it's a great show!
My first adventure (Murder in Oakbridge, Dungeon #129) was inspired by CSI a bit, but more by Se7en (great movie, very recommended).

Regarding 4e update - I think Chris is more qualified to comment on this one.

Uri Kurlianchik
http://www.werecabbages.com/members.php?id=14
http://urikson.livejournal.com
The article is awesome. As a big fan of all things undead, this has to be one of my favorite articles on the D&D webpage in ages.

That necromancer base clase for 4e can't come soon enough.
I'd also love to know if this will be updated for 4e
Here's one more interesting twist to throw at the article. The Wandering Men (similar to the Werecabbages group) did a quick bit on "Uncommon Evil." One of their ideas was called Ancestral Rights, and dealt with necromancer dwarves who had been slaves of the Drow until they were freed by a great necromancer Mystic Theurge named Bahdur.

I've never liked the Duergar at all, and this was a far, far more interesting take on that kind of idea: an ancestor-worshipping dwarven clan strongly supported by intelligent undead, with little love for the surface world and a viable motivation:

[INDENT]"The dwarves of Takot want their land back, all of it - the mountains, foothills, and valleys. Bahdur's forces systematically raze every orc camp and settlement they find, and they won't stop until they've scoured the Drakenteeth Range. The Lord of the Nightstaff and the dwarves hate the orcs almost as much as the drow, the brutes drove them underground and continued to harass them, and the Takotans offer little or no mercy when they encounter their foes.

It's inevitable that the dwarves will run into the humans that claim the lowlands and some of the mountain valleys. Bahdur has little compassion for humans - in his eyes they're partially responsible for what happened to his people - they drove the orcs into the mountains and didn't care what happened to the dwarves. He's ordered his forces to give humans the option to leave peacefully, the King of Two Worlds really doesn't want another war, but the Takotans won't be denied their lands. If the humans don't leave, the dwarves will remove them - they'll restrain themselves, but their ancestors have have no love for anyone save the dwarves, and they won't be as gentle."[/INDENT]

Perfect. Which leads to the question: what next?

Here's where it can get really interesting. I've used Hebrew for my campaign's dwarves for a long time - there are a lot of fits, from languages designed to be carved into a surface to some cultural levels (those of you who know lots of gruff, curt, go get 'em Israelis, you'll understand). Mavet Rav's extensive use of it made me think... what if Mavet Rav was the result after the Takotans won?

Given the city's size, 100,000 is a bit much anyway - unless there are substantial underground caverns too. Add that element (presto! dungeons!), then switch many of the senators and key figures, as well as a chunk of the population, to dwarves. No problem. The humans weren't all expelled, it was creating problems - so the dwarves changed tack. They stayed, but as a conquered people of doubly second-class Haim (pron. Hah-YEEM), which creates extra openings for storylines and oppressed cultural feel. The halflings were also denizens of the vales, and are doing the standard halfling "get along, but what the big folks don't know won't hurt them" thing. Wee Jas can remain the big religion for humans and dwarves, it still fits perfectly. Bahdur [Dwarf C3/W3/MT 15], The King of Two Worlds, has left the city his people founded, but his disciples remain powerful figures in Mavet Rav and can be found in the Senate and elsewhere, as detailed in the article.

When you consider the incredible ability of the key Mavet Rav NPCs to arrange/ perform assassinations against leaders who declare war on them, you can now put this locale almost anywhere in your campaign world with mountains and vales. They don't claim a huge swathe of territory, and as long as Mavet Rav doesn't give the outside world very strong reasons to go after them, the prohibitive cost of trying will make just about any being think two or three times. Lots of campaign world flexibility there. In Greyhawk, for instance, I'd probably put it in The Pomarj because of the interesting possibilities that raises. But it could just as easily sit near Ratik, the Theocracy of the Pale, Geoff, Sterich, Perrenland, Ket, Tenh, the Yeomanry, etc. Each choice would change the flavor and dynamics a bit by changing Greyhawk events and dynamics around the city, but Mavet Rav would still make complete sense near any of those diverse lands. Very, very versatile.

For spice, add the proviso that non-citizens CAN be made into zombies and forced to work the dwarven mines - or forced to work, then made into zombies (or, if you require intelligent undead, ghouls) when they soon die. The zombie miner move makes sense to supplement low dwarven numbers, and the concept remains outside The Right to Retain Sentience. Even so, it will create tensions in the city, and the moral layering and sense of threat for PCs gets very interesting. If they know this goes on, cooperating with the city becomes a thornier moral problem. Then there's "sentenced to the mines" - a fantasy cliche (Earth cliche too, read The Gulag Archipelago), but this one has some bite. As does the city's potential leverage with any nearby power bases, who now have a metals trade to consider, as well as a formidable defense to justify hands-off policies.

Of course, the whole zombie miners plotline also provides a hook that ties right into The Crypt on multiple levels, from where the money for its intelligence network comes from, to Lt. Gen. Yodekh Kola's connections to the mines, and a deeper layer (and strategic component) behind his "mindless undead" plan.

Mavet Rav really is quite the effort, and bravo to the author. The key for DMs is fitting it into their campaign settings, and I thought I'd throw these ideas out for GMs who might want another angle that might help them do that.

As for Bahdur, The King of Two Worlds, any guesses as to his fate?
One more on the translation front - the city name itself. As is often the case with Hebrew, what seems to be a straightforward translation can have multiple shades of meaning.

Mavet Rav. Mavet = death. Rav has several connotations. It can mean many, great, vast, or mighty, which fits. It can also mean "teacher," which offers a double-meaning. Is "Mavet Rav" a teacher of death (that is, teaching others the way of death), or death's teacher (i.e. teachers of death itself)? You could create factions on the basis of that semantic question alone.

For added fun, insert an apostrophe to make it Mavet Ra'av, and you've added a word with a clear meaning: hunger. Death's hunger, or hunger for death?

Both, as it happens; and you can use this one, too. Lt. Gen. Yodekh Kola of the Crypt will have agents for his personal schemes who are mostly incorporeal undead and speak in dry whispers. Extend the saying of the city name even slightly while speaking this way, and "Mavet Rav" sounds like "Maaavehhht Rahhhh-aaaahhhv". Do it right, and your players may not even notice - at first. Encounters with other incorporeal undead who pronounce the city name properly may eventually lead PCs to wonder if there's more to this, of course. There is indeed more to it, and that change has a deeper meaning.
I haven't read the article yet, but the name just jumped at me when reading the title. "Is that meant to be in Hebrew?"

Well, I guess it does.
The funny thing is, I find it somewhat strange to have proper nouns which are everyday words in my mother tongue and I was wondering how others (English speakers) felt about people named things like "Sly Baker" or placed called "Moonfist".

now that I think of it, it IS a very common naming convention in English fantasy.
How about non-English languages?
I haven't read the article yet, but the name just jumped at me when reading the title. "Is that meant to be in Hebrew?"
Well, I guess it does.
The funny thing is, I find it somewhat strange to have proper nouns which are everyday words in my mother tongue and I was wondering how others (English speakers) felt about people named things like "Sly Baker" or placed called "Moonfist".
now that I think of it, it IS a very common naming convention in English fantasy.
How about non-English languages?

Argh, I hate it. I am very obsessive-compulsive about places in fantasy with compound English names. Basically, my problem stems from the fact that the Common language is not English, which means that any proper nouns in English are clearly translated. If you are translating the names of the locations and people of your setting into English, there is no good reason why you shouldn't do it in all cases, because every name means _something_ if you go back far enough. And nearly every setting has a mix of fantasy-sounding names and English compound words labeling their places and things. It goes for all languages, really. For consistency's sake, if you use an existing language once, you should keep using it for that race, and... argh.

I need to loosen up. But it totally rubs me the wrong way when I see (excuse the Warcraft reference) "Bronzebeard" dwarves living in "Ironforge," which is located in "Dun Morogh," on the continent of "Khaz Modan." Pick a language! Of course, nothing irritates me more than the use of the suffix "-mar" to refer to both dwarven and orcish cities, when their languages have no common root.

Argh-blah. In short, yes, it frustrates me. I like rules.
Argh, I hate it.

...

it totally rubs me the wrong way when I see (excuse the Warcraft reference) "Bronzebeard" dwarves living in "Ironforge," which is located in "Dun Morogh," on the continent of "Khaz Modan." Pick a language! Of course, nothing irritates me more than the use of the suffix "-mar" to refer to both dwarven and orcish cities, when their languages have no common root.

Is it really so strange? There are multiple languages in the world, multiple naming conventions, and these things change over time. As land changes hands, sometimes names stay the same, sometimes they don't.

Ironforge is simple enough to name when you found it, but why rename the continent? Keep in mind these are worlds with ancient/magical languages. Maybe "-mar" comes from that and not from any modern language?

I personally feel like mixing languages (and making new languages up) is the best way to go for flavor.

But then I frequently put my characters in locations where nobody speaks common or they speak a version of that's hardly recognizable. So yeah, I like variety.
fo diggity Twitter: www.twitter.com/fodigg Comic Books You Should Have Read: http://tinyurl.com/ycxe9l7
In the United States (English) there is a state called Mississippi (Ojibwe) in which there is a county called Lafayette (French) in which there is a city called Oxford (Saxon) in which there lives a Dwarf called Gimli (Dwarf) Chu (Korean.)

Personlly, however, I like names that mean something, as my players find even such simple names as "Mark" difficult to remember (and that considering the fact one of the players IS named Mark, mind you).