Archive for June, 2009

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Dragon Empress and other Big Bads

29 June, 2009

Not all campaigns have them, but many do, the biggest of Big Bads: Dark Gods, Lich Kings, Embodiments of Primal Chaos, and other such insanely powerful beings.  You know the archetype.  His dark shadow lies across the land, the armies of the light arm to fight him, the common people quake in fear and  even heroes make signs of warding against his name . . . and the player characters want to fight him?  How do you cope with players wanting to take down beings of such power?

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Plans for July

28 June, 2009

Monday will see the last article (for now) on the Dragon Empress.

Wednesday will see some discussion on certain fantasy tropes.

Friday will see us into July, named after Julius Caesar (and replacing the earlier Roman month of Quintilis).  It will be a time to look at governments and people of ambition in the Sea of Stars.

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The Dragon Empress’ Agents

26 June, 2009

While the Empress has removed herself from the day to day running of her Empire, there is a certain minimal Imperium Government that exists to ensure that her will, enacted through the Imperial Edicts, are carried out.

The Imperial Government is organized under her Seven Stars, who are known only by their titles:

The Chancellor, The Herald, The Hunter, The Judge, The Marshal, The Minister and The Sage.

Together they oversee:

  • The Imperial Army, mostly cadres around which other troops can be organized.
  • The Imperial Auditors, who ensure the appropriate taxes flow into the Imperial coffers and maintain the purity of Imperial currency.
  • The Imperial Courts, for the small number of cases tried under Imperial Law.
  • Intelligencers, the eyes and spies of the Imperium, watching from the shadows for threats and dangers.
  • Shel’lioc and the Imperial Holdings, the lands personally held by the Empress, which include the Capital and all its wonderful museums.

Imperial Agents are rarely seen, but when they are, they are treated with the utmost respect as they can mobilize the entire weight of the Imperium when needed.

But all told, there are less than 10,000 beings, dragons and others, in direct Imperial service, yet the Empress still maintains control over her Empire.  Some would think that she is too trusting of those lower on the ladder of rule . . .

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Gaming Webcomics

24 June, 2009

We all need to laugh at our hobby and ourselves on occasion.  These are the gaming related webcomics that I visit:

WereGeek, a recent discovery but one I am glad I found.  The first arc is a little slow and a little weak but after those initial startup problems, the strip really takes off.  Highly recommended.

Girl Genius, while not technically a gaming comic, it will be enjoyed by gamers, and it is written by Phil and Kaja Folio who did the classic What’s New strips for Dragon Magazine back in the mists of time.

And one cannot mention gaming webcomics without mentioning Order of the Stick, you must know about it already.

Now, my gaming is primarily RPGs, with some CCGs and the occasional board game,  I do not do computer based gaming at all (I know, weird), and my choice of webcomics reflect that.

What are your favourites from around the web?  What is good out there that I have missed?

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Never Split the Party

23 June, 2009

But if you do . . . you can rejoin at GenCon.

Wizards of the Coast is having a contest, the Never Split the Party Contest in fact: Describe your gaming group that has since broken up and you could win a trip for all the group (up to six) to GenCon.

What a wonderful idea.  Good luck to all.

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The Empress, distant and threatening

22 June, 2009

In Friday’s post we looked at Who is the Empress? Today, we look at her role in a campaign.

The Empress is the biggest of big bads in the Sea of Stars, the most powerful of the dragons who rule the world.  However, she is a very laissez-faire in the structure of her rule.  There are only a small number of Imperial Edicts which are universally enforced and Imperial Taxes will be collected but other than that, each dragon or draconic house is free to rule their territories as they see fit.

As the Empress embodies the Dominae Philosophy, that the strong rule because of their strength, she does not ban conflict between dragons or even wars between the lands that comprise her Empire.  Though there is a formal and ritual element to proper challenges between dragons that the Empress, or her agents, will oversee.  The Empress herself is even willing to meet formal challenges to her status on the field, from dragons or mortals, but no one has been so bold for over two hundred years.

Defeating the Empress could be an end point for a campaign but it would be a great challenge.  She has been preparing to defend herself from threats, direct and indirect, for two millenia and has near infinite resources at her disposal.  However, if the player do not aim so high, she is likely to accept, perhaps even reward, their success as it too proves her philosophy.

“The strong rule by right of strength alone; nothing else is needed.”

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Free RPG Day!

20 June, 2009

It is Free RPG Day today!  Go and check it out if you can.

This is the third year of Free RPG Day.  It is fun to see such an neat idea doing so well.

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Who is the Empress?

19 June, 2009

Firstly, an apology, there was a big fire in downtown Athens, GA, which disrupted my morning leading to the lateness of this post, but luckily no one seems to have been hurt by it.

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The Dragon Empress is an enigma, undoubtably the most powerful being in the entire Sea of Stars, she is rarely seen and acts even more rarely.  What is known of  her – her name has been sorcerously erased from the knowledge of the world- is that she was not the strongest, nor the eldest, nor the richest of the dragons, but she was the most charismatic and clever.   She spread the philosophy of Dominae, putting into words what the dragons felt, that the strong alone deserve to rule.

Over more than half a millennium, she built a conspiracy among the dragons, cajoling, bribing and manipulating her kin into a unified force.  It was a difficult and dangerous path, she debated, and occasional fought, those who opposed her vision, out thought her enemies and survived hunters.  But slowly, all the dragons fell in line behind her vision.

Then, as one, the dragons rose into the heaven to cast down the gods.  The losses were tremendous, we know all of the Empress’ children perished in the war,  but the dragons were victorious.  The Sun was captured, the islands bound and the future of the world was saved.  With the aid of her Seven Stars, her inner circle of dragons, she structured the Empire, divided the lands among the dragons and withdrew from the public eye to administer it.  It is said she knows everything that happens in the Sea of Stars, but surely that cannot be true.

Her appearance?  That of a white-gold dragon of a beautiful line and terrible visage, not exceptionally large but of great grace and poise.  But she is rarely seen in public even in her own capital.

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Plans for the Future

18 June, 2009

Wheels within wheels and all of that.

My intention is to post Sea of Stars themed content each Monday and Friday and more general content on Wednesdays.

The theme for June is the Dragon Empress as June is the Month of the Goddess Juno (aligned with the Greek Goddess Hera), Queen of the Gods.

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Why?

17 June, 2009

Why does the gaming world need another fantasy campaign setting?  Well, in honesty, I would have to say it does not need one but that does not stop it from wanting or finding a new one useful.

If you are a gamer like me, you love to be exposed to new ideas and new takes on things.  You see  clever new adventure or magic item and you think “how can I fit that into my campaign?”  That is what I am hoping to inspire here.

The Sea of Stars is a very modular setting and it is one of my design goals that it will be easy to pluck pieces of it out, ‘file off the serial numbers’ and add them to your game.

  • Need a powerful evil empire? The Dark Star Dominion is ready to conquer the lesser nations of any world.
  • Like tinker gnomes but think they are too cute?  Cue the sinister, yet short, Sen’Tek engineers and their death squads.
  • Someone want to play someone who is part dragon but does not want to go the full half-dragon route?  Look at the Dracovi and the Dani bloodlines.

As we explore the Sea of Stars, I hope to discuss how the ideas can be used in both a Sea of Stars campaign and in a wider sense.  Equally, I hope to start conversations on what makes good gaming and campaign building in general.

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