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April passed, welcome May

1 May, 2016

Welcome to May.  May was Maius in Latin and was named after the Greek goddess Maia, it seems likely, who is associated with Spring.  So, what shall the theme be for May?  The fae and faerie?  Spring and nature?  Gods and religion?  Something else?  Let me know.  I always enjoy people’s suggestions.

Unsurprisingly April’s writings were dominated by the 2016 A to Z Blogging Challenge, which I am pleased to say I completed (sixth year in a row).  So, the posts for April, 2015, were:

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Zoology (A to Z Challenge, Z)

30 April, 2016

LionAnimals are everywhere in Sea of Stars and in so many varieties.  The initial pool of animals was similar to that here on Earth, with a few exotic variations, but the Sundering changed everything, sometimes for the better, but usually for the worst.  The raw magic released by the sundering changed animals in all sorts of strange ways, though the most common was changes in size, which is why there are giant rats and miniature giraffe in the Sea of Stars, but sometime the changes were stranger leading to tree dwelling sheep and six-legged oxen, or creatures became mixed and dangerous, creating such beings as stagwolves and sting squirrels.

People in some regions were forced to adapt to chickens that ate wood and laid eggs that were shelled like nuts, aquatic cows or replacing transport animals with zebra and other such adaptions which then became just the way things were done in that valley or these islands.  In other words, for those who travel widely, especially venturers, it is wise to not take the animals you encounter at face value without consulting with the locals.

Zoos and menageries is the Sea of Stars are always looking for new and exotic additions to their collections, gatherer of such creatures can make a good living . . . if they do not get eaten first.

Notes: Z is a tough letter to end on, but I hope still fun.

Photo by JoyTek and used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.

 

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Yonder (A to Z Challenge, Y)

29 April, 2016

Get goingOne of the things about the Sea of Stars is that there is always yonder, another place to go, if you are willing to take the risk; many who serve as sailors aboard the starships and no small number of venturers started out as people who just needed to leave their home for whatever reason, hunger, ambition, fear, curiosity, even wanderlust.  Some people just cannot stay at home because of external or internal pushes or a mixture of the two.

While most rulers make some attempt to keep their labourers, well, labouring and not running off to seek a better life, a few actively encourage troublemakers to leave and find their fortunes far, far, away.  It is the wisest of the rulers that seek to channel such people where they can be useful and be grateful for such guidance or, at least, not harbor ill-thoughts towards their homeland.

Though such worries are generally misplaces, once someone sets out for yonder, they rarely stop, for while yonder is a destination, it is not a place.  You can never reach it, not for long, there is always more yonder to wander to.   Even some young dragons become enchanted, or obsessed, with discovering what lies over yonder and spend decades or more doing just that.  For there is always another mountain range to cross, a new town’s streets to walk down, another island to visit.

After all, there are no lack of new places to see, people to meet and wonder to experience across the Sea of Stars.

Notes: Yonder has become an underused word, let us change that.

Photo by Virtual_Raider and used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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Xenophilia and Xenophoby (A to Z Challenge, X)

28 April, 2016

The Sea of Stars is rife with odd and bizarre things, from dog folk to fish trees, cows that can read and eternal snow falls, and other ever stranger things.  Much like the way that people think of venturers, it depends on a group’s recent experience with strange things on how welcoming or hostile they may be towards the next unusual thing that comes visiting.

Generally, the more cosmopolitan and urban, the more likely an area is to have strands of xenophilia, embracing the strange, and welcoming the opportunities presented by new and exotic things even if they occasionally prove dangerous.  There will always be a market down some alley in a big enough city for any strange and unlikely thing that comes through.  Novelty is welcomed in such places especially if it seems to give the possessors of such novelty some sort of social (or other) advantage.

Here or thereConversely, small towns and isolated rural area tend to a natural conservatism and fear of things from outside, xenophoby.  After all, change means uncertainty and danger and small communities do not usually have much in the way of reserves in case things go wrong, so better safe than sorry.  Now, this is not to say that all such communities are hostile to strangers and new ideas, just that they are more cautious, often much more, when it comes to trying new ideas and letting strangers do stranger things.

Of course isolated and distant communities may have their own strangeness which to them is now just traditional and the way things always have been done, there are many of such places that resulted from the first century after the Sundering which turned everything upside down.  “You don’t eat beetles?”  “Where you come from potatoes do not grow in the shape of human faces?”  “But all goats have two heads.”  “You didn’t hatch from an egg?”  “Of course you grow a new set of teeth each year.”

Notes: Yes, xenophoby and xenophobia are essentially interchangeable words but I like using obscure words when I find them so there you go.

Photo by Susanne Nilsson and used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.

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War (A to Z Challenge, W)

27 April, 2016

This is what it is good forWar is rare in the Sea of Stars but not unknown; the problem with being an expansionist power is that ultimately, everything is owned by a dragon so by declaring war and trying to seize a piece of land, you are also declaring it upon that land’s owner.  Now some dragons are happy to let such conflicts play out on a purely mortal against mortal level, confining themselves to either high strategy or simply observers but a few dragons seek a more active role.

Some dragons expect their charges to be able to defend themselves without aid from their ruler, the weak should not be coddled after all.  As one draconic saying has it “the weak are meat the strong eat.”  These dragons are sure to make sure that the people in their lands understand that they are on their own if attacked and most who adhere to this philosophy promote militarism in the states they oversee.  These states by their nature oft times look for chances to test their mettle and expand.

Other dragons relish the opportunity to test their strength against entire armies or the dragons that command them.  When dragons appear on the battlefield they usually negotiate rules of engagement to ensure that they are unlikely to be killed.  Being wounded is acceptable, even expected, but being slain bu mere mortals would set a bad precedent.  Though even such rules do not prevent the occasional draconic death in battle as warfare is unpredictable (and few can resist the chance to slay a dragon when it is presented to them).

However, generally such conflicts between states and dragons are kept small scale, skirmishes and raids, maneuvers and feints, only very rarely escalating to full scale invasion, the difficulty of transporting an army from island to island may be part of that.  But wars still happen on occasion and when they do, things can change very rapidly.

Notes: Dragons like conflict but wars, wars are uncontrollable once unleashed so the majority of dragons try to avoid them.

Photo by Paul Kitchener used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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Tuesday Magic Item – Venturers’ Indispensable Satchel

26 April, 2016

An unusual venturer“I am so glad we were able to acquire these satchels,” said Voddick chewing on a piece of bread.

“Well, we did save that enchanter life, thrice; we earned them,” said Gollaon.  “But I think you like them because you never go hungry as long as you have it.”

“Only one of its many wonderful features!” agreed Voddick.

Venturers’ Indispensable Satchel

These useful items come in a variety of styles made from an even wider variety of materials with decorations to match.  What is uniform about them is the high quality of the satchel, the surprising number of pouches and pockets and a compass rose embroidered or otherwise incorporated into the design.

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Venturers (A to Z Challenge, V)

26 April, 2016

Those that wander the Sea of Stars seeking their fortune and, occasionally, performing acts of heroism are known as venturers.  They are immortalized in play, song and story and also vilified in the same mediums, how they are viewed in a local area depends greatly on how the last group of venturers treated the locals.  Unfortunately for venturers, good memories fade quickly, but poor ones quickly harden into lasting prejudice.

Wise venturers, a surprisingly rare breed,  try to build on the legends of successful and well regarded past venturers, creating a chain of positive associations.  Paying bards and actors to spread heroic stories and even printing books of tales to present the right side of the tale.  A friendly populace is useful, often vital, providing support and information, while a neutral or hostile one makes life much more difficult on almost all levels.

The stereotype of the venturer as a big talking and overconfident but ultimately barely competent and cowardly is well established and the basis of most comedic portrayals of venturers.   Venturers are common stock characters in popular comedies and show up quite often.  Venturers are rarely played as deliberate villains in the comedies but they often accidentally make things  worse in the stories by their blundering.

While venturers are nearly universally outsiders, they are needed, they fill roles that many communities do not have people who can.  Dangerous beasts, magical outbreaks, sometimes even just bandits, venturers are hired to sort these out when the locals, or their rulers, cannot.

Notes: I just like the term venturer over adventurer, perhaps because merchant-venturer has been stuck in my mind since I was young.  Also, another minor way to differentiate the setting.

 

 

 

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