Archive for January, 2017


Welcome Ill omened February, fare thee well January

31 January, 2017

January always seems to go by so quickly and we now move into February.  February gets its name from Latin term februum, which means purification, via the purification ritual Februa performed at this time of year.  The Romans considered February an ill-omened month which is why it is only twenty-eight days long.   For this month we return to the theme 0f curses, cursed items, ill-fortune and, perhaps, defenses against such terrible things.  As usual, suggestions, comments and ideas are welcome.

So, what was published on the journal in January, 2017?  Take a look:

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Tuesday Magic Item – Portable Desk

31 January, 2017

Fold up and go“That fellow does not seem unduly burdened by his massive load,” Voddick pointed with the stem of his pipe to the lone traveler approaching with a massive wooden box on his back, which he barely seemed to bend under.

Gollaon looked and started.  “I am not surprised.  That is Master Measure, the Imperial Auditor, and the chest upon his back carries his work desk.”

“An Auditor?  That cannot mean good things for our employer.”

“Perhaps we should draw our pay from the quartermaster directly,” suggested Gollaon, already making his way in that direction.

Portable Desk

These items are made for the bureaucrat on the go, while some are decorated with elaborate carvings and even gilt-work, most are simply extremely well made desks of durable wood.  Prepared for travel, they are either the size of a trunk or a large box on a backpack frame, depending on the particular version.
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Blog Carnival – Prophecy and Foretelling in the Sea of Stars

27 January, 2017

Tales of a GM is hosting this month’s Blog Carnival, the theme of which is Prophecies & Omens.  So, I thought I would write a little on how prophcies and other foretelling fit into the Sea of Stars.

Look to the starsWhile a wide range of forms of divination are used in the Sea of Stars, by far the most common is Astrology as the stars are so visible both above and below.  The consensus amongst the astrologers is that the stars provide guidance and signposts to people, and some would say destiny, but do not force it.  However, by aligning oneself with the path laid out by their stars, success is more likely.  Work with, not against, the currents of your horoscope, is the simple form of their advice.

Equally, if you can learn the horoscope of a rival, you can try to maneuver them into acting against their best guided path throwing them off-balance and making them vulnerable to ill-fortune and existential unease.  While the ability to seriously harm someone by this method is nearly impossible, most dragons keep the date their egg was laid and their hatching time well protected, no need to take chance.  Successful venturers and wizards often try to do the same, though the more public one’s birth, the more difficult such is to accomplish.

Most courts maintain an astrologer or group of such to choose auspicious times to begin major works, wars and marriages.  A little extra luck never hurts after all.  Most towns will have an astrologer and even a village may have a part-time one, there is quite a network of astrologers exchanging notes and observations, devices and charts, it is a popular hobby among city-dwellers and country folk alike.

Many other forms of divination exist, the elves are fond of dream-trance visions and augury (or ornithomancy divination by studying the flight of birds), while the practical dwarves use runestones and lithomancy by which the future is told using stones or the reflected light from said stones, in the Jade Pillar Dynasty the oracle bones are consulted (dragon bone being preferred when available), while the Necrourgist of Laccini turn to the dead, practicing necromancy as well.  Somewhere in the Sea of of Stars you will find every variant of divination practiced.  But, again, they are generally regarded as guides and aid to planning rather than fixed predictions of the future. because, to a certain extent the very idea of divination and prophecy suffered a serious blow by the Gods War, the Sundering and the ascension of the Draconic Imperium because none of it was predicted.   Even scholars who have searched through what ancient prophecies survive have been able to find even one that even comes close to what happened.  It is said that when asked about this, the Empress replied that it is simply proof of her philosophy of Dominae, that one’s own will is paramount.

Notes: Telescope photo by Thomas Quine and used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Edit: Additional thoughts about False Prophecy and Hoaxes here.


PinkCat: Running in the Shade “Bad Dogs” (A different sort of SR campaign report)

25 January, 2017

To understand what is going on here, you had best read the first PinkCat: Running in the Shade post, but short summary, this is a campaign report for our Shadowrun campaign set in NorCal through the filter of a cartoon made by one of the team members.

Episode Twenty Five: Bad Dogs

Guest Starring: Clawz, DD, Double Up and ToraGo team!

The School’s crosstown rivals, the Caninefornia Academy, have been getting more aggressive, starting fights and pulling mean pranks, as both are competing for the prestigious city school sports award.   It turns out the Caninefornians are using drugs supplied by Hippogryph BioLabs, who sponsors the Academy teams, to increase their performance but it is also making them more aggressive and reckless.  While the drugs are not technically cheating, they are unsporting, and the team makes plans to trick the Caninefornians into disqualifying themselves by going too far.  The team lets it be known that they will be building a float for the big game at a “secret location”, which Tora lets slip, the Caninefornians break in and trash the vehicle that would be used for the base of the float . . . which turns out to be the Academy Headmaster’s new SUV.  The worst of the Caninefornians are suspended and the use of ‘performance enhancers’ is stopped.  The School wins the award and they invite the Caninefornians who played fair to join them at their victory party.

What really happened:

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Tuesday Magic Item – Janus Helm

24 January, 2017

Watching forward and back“That is a cunningly crafted helm,” said Voddick, watching the knight in his two faced-helm spar.

“And, I hear, equally cunningly magicked,” added Gollaon, sipping at a mug of mulled wine.

“Indeed?  What have you heard?”

“That he can see from both faces, making him nearly impossible to surprise,” said Golaon after another sip.

“Obvious yet unexpected.  I approve.”

Gollaon laughed and handed his friend a mug of mulled wine.  “I thought you would.”

Janus Helm

These cunningly wrought helms have two faces, and making such a thing that is both comfortable and protective is no small challenge, and are decorated to emphasize the face and often portray contrasting emotions or expressions.  They are made of the finest metals and lined with quality cloth and leather.

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Tuesday Magic Item – Village Ooser

17 January, 2017

The Ooser judges youVoddick and Gollaon watched the man ride by on a donkey, facing backward, while the crowd made a terrible din,banging on pans and other things.  Children ran behind taunting the man and tossing pebbles at him.

“Poor unfortunate,” said Gollaon.

“There are no harsher judges than one’s neighbors.” agreed Voddick.  “Hopefully he will survive his shame.”

“I shall have to behave myself here, that donkey ride seems unpleasant for all,” added Gollaon with a wry smile.

Village Ooser

These massive masks are ancient folk magic, traditionally cut from a single block of timber, with the exception of the lower jaw, which is movable and connected to the rest of the mask by cloth or leather hinges.  The lower jaw can be moved by pulling on a string which passed through a hole in the upper jaw to connect to the lower with locks of hair on either side of its head, a beard on its chin, and a pair of bullock’s horns.  It has two purposes, to use as punishment of those who violate the village norm and in ceremonial usage or defense of the village.

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Dark Future Ahead 20 – News from the ‘Net of a Cyberpunk bent

14 January, 2017

Let’s jack in and see what the futurewatch brings us this time.

Sailing the sea on a massive container ship, the time-lapse of the port is especially inspiring, but there is a considerable amount of useful information in this fairly short article.

Vanguard RoadsterVanguard is a new company producing a premium motorcycle (in NYC no less).  Now, not only is this a very cyberpunk looking machine. but it was primarily digitally designed.  The Economist has a good article (may require registration) about how the new digital processes allow for small firms to enter markets that have been dominated but the huge vehicle corporations.  Now there is a ton of cyberpunk adventure ideas to exploit from there.

Power from organic waste!  What could go wrong with producing massive amount of methane from organic matter?  Hopefully not much as it is a great way to turn garbage (and less pleasant matter) into electricity.

Feeling lonely?  What about a ‘virtual wife’ to manage your house?  A Japanese company, Vinclu, has developed a hologram linked to an expert management system, who could need more?

And what will your virtual wife have prepared for dinner?  A light article form Gizmodo looks at 8 Foods of the Future, maybe.  Still some good ideas for setting color in a cyberpunk world (“Fried grasshopper anyone?”).

New ways to fix your teeth!  King’s College London is developing a chemical to encourage cells in teeth to heal them.  No more fillings!  If it works.

And the US Department of Defense is looking into spent casting from training ammunition that grows plants!  Guess they are seeking to be more green than olive drab.

What visions of the coming dark future have you seen recently?

Note: Photo from Vanguard and used without permission.


Thoughts on the Suicide Squad movie

12 January, 2017

Suicide SquadI do not get to movie theaters much anymore, so I waited for this to be available on DVD and finally got around to watching Suicide Squad.  I was a fan of the original comic thought I have not followed the series recently.  To my surprise, considering what I had heard about it, it was actually pretty entertaining.  The opening third is slow, laying out too much unnecessary background but once it gets to the action, it starts to come together.  While it is far from perfect (some of my concerns, I will discuss below) it much more than I was expecting and it has some surprisingly effective sequences.  If you like superhero or action movies, you will probably enjoy it.

More thoughts and Concerns (spoilers probably abound):

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Tuesday Magic Item – Silk Slippers of Civilization

10 January, 2017

Stylish“I could get used to this,” said Voddick leaning back and letting the fire warm him as he sipped at a cup of mulled wine.

Golloan tossed another log into the fire.  “Do not,” he said stepping back.  “Sooner or later the hobnailed boots of war will come to tramp upon the silk slippers of civilization.”

“Such as the ones you are wearing?” observed Voddick.

“Just so, might as well enjoy it while we can.”

Silk Slippers of Civilization

These are exquisitely made silk slippers often, but not always, exquisitely decorated, occasionally even with gems.

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Tuesday Magic Item – Gate Key Ring

3 January, 2017

Let's go“Are you sure there is a way out?” hissed Gollaon to the lady in waiting.

“The Princess’ escape route has been planned,” she replied, opening the lock to the north tower.

Voddick loosed a bolt down the corridor and was rewarded with a curse.  “They are gathering their courage, they will rush us soon,” he said, recocking his crossbow.

“Come along Princess, time to go,” said Gollaon ushering her through the door.  “Come on, Voddick,” he whispered.

Voddick shot through the door which Gollaon closed, locked and barred behind him.  Voddick kicked a dagger under the edge to wedge it tighter still.  He turned to go down the spiral stairs.

“Up,” Gollaon gestured with his thumb.


“Seems there is an old mystical gate that will be our way out.”

“Lovely, those always work,” grumbled Voddick.

Gate Key Ring

These rings are always composed of alloys or braided metals, mixed resonances serving as a focus for the ring’s magic, sometime set with crystalline gems but always marked with runes and sigil.

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