Blast from the Past – Original Description of the Sea of Stars setting

29 November, 2010

As I am busy trying to wrap up NaNoWriMo, here is something from my files, the original presentation of the Sea of Stars setting:

Lost Among the Sea of Stars

Ages ago in the mists of time, there was a Great War.  The Gods, the greatest of the sorcerers, the paragons of the wizards, and the Dragons, the mightiest of all fought for supremacy among themself.  As we all know, the Dragons won . . . but at such a cost.  Heaven and Earth were torn asunder, the world itself was wounded near until death.  At the last, the Gods and wizards gave the last of their magic to bind the world together . . .

The last of the sorcerers had allied with the dragons and they too used their powers to bring the world back to life but the world had changed.  No longer the vast fields and towering mountains, the long seas and deep forest, now we are all adrift on islands in the Sea of Stars.  Only the last strength of the Gods and the mighty heart of the Dragon Queen keeps us for drifting apart forever.
Welcome to the Sea of Stars setting, a world literally shattered by magic and now only saved from destruction by that same magic.  A world ruled by dragons, who are distant autocratic rulers.  Dragons are rarely seen, but their influence is immense, their power undoubted, they are worshiped, loved, feared and hated by the common folk.  Most people will never see a dragon except at a distance, but their magic and strength lies like a shadow over the lands, enforcing the laws of the Dragon Queen, exacting tribute and crushing opposition to the Dragons.

The vast interplay of magic and the isolation of the various regions of the world have led to the evolution of strange and wonderful lifeforms and cultures, yet all are in thrall to the Dragon Queen and her Court of Seven Stars.  However, slowly building in strength are the forces of change, of rebellion, those that would see the Dragon Queen cast down and the lands freed from her rule.  Some oppose her tyranny, others the harsh laws of the dragons, still others seek the chance to supplant the Draconic rule with their own, but whatever their motives are, they are bound together by their opposition to the dragons.

Magic is omnipresent, from gossamer bridges linking the floating islands of the world, to sorcerous airships and enchanted castles.  Magic infuses almost everything to one degree or another.  The greatest center of magic, learning and art in the Sea of Stars is the palace city of the Dragon Queen herself, Shel’lioc, or as it is known to most ‘The Lair.’  Within the palace city, it is said, are wonders undreamed of, as all the greatest treasures of man, god and dragon are contained within.

The world that once was has been shattered like a piece of plate glass dropped onto a floor.  Thousands of ‘islands’ of land drift connected to each other by ropes, chains and magical bindings.  The islands range in size from a clawful of continent-sized pieces to ones barely large enough to stand upon.  The larger the island the less likely it is the move, while some of the smaller pieces drift aimlessly or orbit larger ones.

The ecologies on these islands vary enormously as do the physical features.  On some islands, seas pour away into space endlessly, on others, the sea was swept away and nothing remains except an expanse of bleached fish bones and shells.   Great forests, huge mountains (sometimes a single huge mountain is an island into itself), winding rivers, rolling farmlands, all are there.  As are seas of glass, mushrooms the size of trees, rivers that flow uphill and stranger things.  In some places magic saved what was there, in others, it destroyed it and in still other it changed things beyond recognition . . .

Trade is vital to many of the regions and it is primary conduced via skyships, which fly, or starships, which can sail on the space between the islands as well as over water.  Other islands have built bridges to nearby regions.

The Dragon Queen is the undisputed, absolute ruler, but she has little interest in overseeing the day-to-day activities of her subjects.  As long as tribute rolls in on schedule, the Imperial Edicts are obeyed and troops serve when called, she is happy.

Each administrative unit, some large, some as small as a single town, is assigned a satrap who acts as liaison between the Dragon Court and the ruler or rulers of the land.  But as long as they paid their tribute on time and obey the Imperial Edicts, the satrap rarely interferes . . . officially.

The gods are dead . . . Long live faith!

Dragon Cults– Though not initially encouraged by the Dragons, in the aftermath of the Sundering, Dragon Cults sprang up.  Now they are tolerated as long as they show proper respect and do not interfere excessively in the running of the world.

Ancestor Sects– Worship of ancestors and veneration of the past is a common theme in many place in the Sea of Stars.  Sometimes these Sects intertwine with Dragon Cults when the bloodline is traced back to a Dragon ancestor.

Celestial Order– The answers are to be found in the stars, all wisdom, truth and power ultimately comes from the stars which surround us.  They are the finest astronomers and astrologists exist within the Sea of Stars.

Dominae– Believe that everything can be achieved through will alone, they seek to master both themselves and others.  While inspired by Draconic ideas, the Dragons are not entirely pleased with their philosophies being adopted by the ‘lessor’ races.

Redemptionists– Believe that the gods are not dead, that they will return and redeem the faithful as long as the faithful remain true.  The fortunes of the redemptionists wax and wane, and, as long as they are content to wait, the Dragons let them exist.

The Undying Sun– This group worships the only god that can still be seen, the sun.  They hope to one day free and heal him, to that end they oppose slavery and master the healing arts.  The Dragons watch this sect but consider them mostly harmless.

The Way– More a philosophy than a religious.  The Wayist faith has slowly spread across the Sea of Stars, finding a nitce in almost every area.

Dragons and Dragonkine– The ruling race, ruling powers, of the world are the dragons.  They are the most powerful, both physically and mystically, of all the races among the Sea of Stars.  Dragons come in many shapes and colors, but all share the ability to take a humanoid form at will.

The Dragons often mate with lesser races, the children of these unions are the Dragonkine.  The first generation of these, the Dracona, sometimes called half-dragons, are the most powerful.  Later generations, the Dracovi, are less powerful.  Eventually, the bloodline is further diminished to those who are simply touched (or tainted) with dragonblood, the Dani.

Dwarves (Gemkine)– Many of the dwarves and their holds were badly damaged in the sundering of the world, but they have since recovered.  The dwarves continually chafe under the rule of the Dragon Queen but they are not willing to directly provoke her wrath.  (Though there are rumors that they supply weapons to groups that oppose the dragons.)  Over the centuries, the dwarven kingdoms have reached some accommodations with the dragons providing fine metal work and jewelry to the Dragons in exchange for other commodities.

The various kinlines of dwarves are aligned with the various gems, the largest of them are Diamond, Emerald, Ruby, Obsidian and Sapphire.

Elves (Earthkine)– The Elves almost died out as a race following the sundering, they are deeply tied to the world and many fell sick or died when the world shattered.  Even today, they live under the curse of the sundering, every elf child born is born without something.  For some, it is something physical, a finger or an eye, sometime it is something metaphysical, an inability to sing or to perceive the color red, but they are all missing something . . .

The elves may have wished to oppose the domination of the dragons, but many of their finest wizards had already perished before the sundering.  The weakening of their race in the aftermath eliminated them as a threat as far as the dragons were concerned.  Slowly, the elven race has recovered but it has remained a shadow of what it once was.

The kinlines of the elves are aligned with the great trees, such as ash, oak, and willow, with the houses and family aligned with individual plants.

Sen’tek (‘vile’)– Hundreds of years ago, a group of servitors conspired against their Dragon masters, generations of planning went into their coup.  Had it not been for a brave group of Visse who revealed the plans at the last moment to the Dragon Queen and forced the conspirators to act early, it may have succeeded.  The attack disconcerted the Dragons long enough for the conspirators and their families to flee ahead of the rightful retribution of the Dragon Queen.  They fled deep into the distant mountains into a deep set of caverns and tunnels prepared for just such an eventuality.  The traitors broke the teeth of the first attack on the caverns, but at great cost.  A second assault was planned to destroy the traitors utterly but it stalled on internal politics and worries of even greater losses.  In the end, the dragons sealed all of the entrances they could find after raining down their magical fury on the caverns.  It was hoped that this would solve the problem once and for all, but the traitors survived . . .

They are know to the Dragons as the Sen’tek, which means ‘vile’, the call themselves the New, but most refer to them using the Draconic word.  They refuse to more then the minimum of magic as the Dragons can detect its use.  Instead they have turned to chemistry and artifice to build weapons and defenses against the dragon.

Visse (‘servitor’)– When the Dragons emerged victorious from the Great War, they realized that they had no plans for how to rule the world afterwards.  The first thing they did was to build the palace city of Shel’lioc, but they needed people, servants to tend to their needs and to fill the new Imperial bureaucracy.  Humans were too ambition and short lived, the dwarves too dour, the elves too weak, so the Dragons made their own, the Visse (‘servitor’ in Draconic).

Following the treachery of Sen’tek, the bloodlines of the Visse were purged and purified and never since have they troubled the minds or hearts of their patrons.  Visse are the only race that the Dragons are forbidden by Imperial Decree from mating with.

Beastkine– The Sundering had many strange effects, warping both man and beast, sometimes combining both.  This lead to the creation of new and bizarre races that had never been seen before.  Many of these young races died out but other have thrived.

Among the Beastkine are the Dogmen of Altacia, the Sisters of the Swan and the Catfolk of Felix Talis.

Giants– The giants had stood aside during the war, perhaps because they hoped to seize power afterward, perhaps because they did not see any threat to themselves.  In either case, they were wrong, the first project of the Dragons was to shatter the giants and their kingdoms.  The remaining giants were driven to the outer edges of the Sea of Stars.

Those giants that remain have become experts in fighting and slaying dragons.  The dragons rarely seek out the last of the giants except as the most challenging of prey.

I hope that people find this look back at the origin of my campaign setting interesting.  I know I do.  Questions and comments welcome.

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