Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

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Tea and Trade (A to Z)

23 April, 2020

Tea is a high value and (comparatively) light weight commodity and in demand all across the Sea of Stars, tea is widely and often drunk, many dragons are connoisseurs following the Empress’ example.  It is a sign of hospitality almost everywhere to be offered a cup of tea, though various places use various things for tea, not everyone can afford the black tea from the few places it is grown.  Other use various mixes of herbs or other materials, some of the shadow elves even using type of powdered mushrooms.

As fast as the wind will carry us!The first crop of tea from each season is raced to the Imperial Capital on sky ship, each vying for the honor of being the first tea delivered.  By tradition, the Empress buys all of the cargo of the first ship to arrive and reward the crew.  While it has been pointed out that ferrying the tea to one of the gate cities would be faster but the tradition continues.

The trade in tea is only part of the vast trading network that extends throughout the Sea of Stars, encouraged by the Empress and Imperial policy.  The Empress provides a universal currency for those that wish to use it, the Imperial Navy is routinely deployed to combat pirates and the Imperial tax policy reward those states that open themselves to trade.  The Empress realized that true wealth comes from innovation, industry and trade, therefore she encourages all three.  After all, the wealthier her subject are, the more wealth flows into Imperial coffers.

What is less know is that the Empress has indirectly invested in many trading ventures, large and small, to open up new trade routes and locales.  There is untold wealth to be discovered in the Sea of Stars, the Empress is certain of it.

Notes: Wealth can be acquired by taking but it does not create wealth, trade and industry creates wealth.  The Empress understands this.  You could join the tea clipper race!  Also, opening new trade routes is a great adventure!

Image Willis Tea Line Clipper, by Frederick Tudgay. Oil on Canvas, found on Wikimedia Commons and is in the Public Domain.

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Once Upon a Time in 1967 – What is Happening in Earth-H

18 March, 2020

Since we cannot meet to continue our Masks campaign at the moment, I thought I would put together some resources for the setting to share.  It is Fall as we begin the campaign and this is to present some context to the world around the young heroes.

Politics:

UN HQLyndon Baines Johnson (“LBJ’) is the President of the United States, following the assassination of John F Kennedy in 1963 and his victory in the 1964 election.  Hubert Humphrey is Vice President.  LBJ has tried to get more superheroes to back the US war effort in Vietnam with little success.

John Linsay is the Mayor of New York City, where are campaign is set, and who is still deciding if having New York City be the “Superhero capital of the US” is a good thing or not.

The Six-Day War in June sees Israel capture and occupy the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria.

Anti-War Protests are increasingly common in major cities.  Race Riots, usually triggered by violent police actions, roll across the US causing great disruption and doubt. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Doomsdays and Dystopias of the Sea of Stars

14 July, 2017

The theme for this month’s RPG Bog Carnival is Doomsdays and Dystopias hosted over on Daemons & Deathrays.

What a messThere are two major doomsday points in the Sea of Stars:

The Fall of the Gods and the Sundering, the war between the gods and the dragons had considerable, to use the current term, collateral damage.  While the dragons did not seek to destroy any more than necessary, looting rubble is less productive, there were situations that required significant devastation especially in the cases of the gods who choose to live among their worshipers.  The combats in those cities were massively destructive to life and property.

But the damage caused by the Gods War pales by comparison to that of the Sundering which followed immediately afterward, as the world itself shattered and pulled apart.  The loss of life was immense and some area were rendered uninhabitable as rivers were diverted, lakes and oceans drained away, mountain ranges crumbled or emerged.  In less than a day, the world was irrevocably changed.

However, with the help of their new rulers, the dragons, the world was slowly rebuilt.  Some areas took longer to recover than others . . . and a few never did leaving ruins in formerly fertile areas that were now deserts or marshes or worse.

If massive environmentally disruption is your idea of a good campaign, the Sundering has everything you could imagine.

A much more focused doomsday is the Sen’Tek Revolt, the attempt by a conspiracy within the Visse servant class and Imperial bureaucracy to overthrow (and replace) the draconic overlords.  The deep conspiracy planned across decades was forced to act prematurely when it was revealed to the Empress.  While many dragons and dragonkine were killed, the plot as a whole was foiled, and many, many Visse were slain.   Though the core of the conspiracy escaped deep into the far mountains.  Even this failure caused deep disruption to draconic rule as the dragons turned upon the weakened houses and sought to benefit until the Empress stepped in and reorganized the survivors.

If you want a survival horror type scenario it could be run on either side of this: either dragonkine nobles trying to survive against servants who know their every foible and weakness or a group of Visse, possible mixed conspirators and innocents, avoiding dragons and trying to escape.

For dystopia, well, it is a world ruled by dragons after killing the gods, for many, they could not imagine a worse world.  For the dragon rulers who had to “reeducate” formerly pious societies, it was not a pretty task.  While, in general, the dragons take a claws off approach as long as they get their taxes, there are always exceptions.

So if you are looking for unhappy places, there are no shortage such as the Kingdom of Laccini and its militant knights backed by necrourgists or the Dark Star Dominion and its ruler, Ba’a’ai, the Dark Star himself.

Other dystopias must exist as well but I cannot immediately think of any more.

 

Notes: Photo “Ruined Castle” by Grant is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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Plot ideas for the Secret Society Ring

3 May, 2017

I was a little rushed getting the Secret Society Ring out, and some ideas came to me tonight, so some thought on how to use the Secret Society Ring to drive adventure:

What secrets do you hold?Firstly, I was thinking that the identification sensation would vary from society to society: a spider cult would feel the sensation of spider legs along their spine, members of a celestial back conspiracy would see the other member with a halo, and so on.

So someone who is sensitive to magic emanations might still get the sensation that the ring triggers when member exchange handshakes when they touch someone wear one of the rings.  How would they react?  And what might they do to find out why that sensation was triggered?

A flawed ring, one that just requires that it be worn for a day to align it to the wearer, and that wearer would suddenly be treated as a friend and ally by people they had never before met.  How long can they keep up the charade?  What about when other member of the conspiracy start asking them for help and expected that it will be given, what then?

What is the group found a stash of these rings and the ritual to activate them?  What would they use them for?  And if they do use them, how will they react when they start encountering other people who have activated rings of the same type?

How would you use the rings to spark adventure?

Image “Ring” by Celtic via The Metropolitan Museum of Art is licensed under CC0 1.0

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Beginning of the End, the Gods War and Sundering as the End of the World

21 May, 2016

So the RPG Blog Carnival theme for May is At World’s End dealing with the end of campaigns as well as end of the world scenarios (Rising Phoenix Games is hosting the Blog Carnival this time around).

Thus the world endsIt occurred to me that the Gods War that sees the dragons triumph over and kill the majority of the gods and the Sundering that follows, shattering the world, could very easily be read as the end of the world.  The old order is cast down and destroyed, all that was once worshiped has been shown to be powerless before the might of the dragons and the very world itself has been torn apart.  You do not get much more apocalyptic than that!

But it is not the end of the Sea of Stars but the beginning, all of this forms the deep background of the campaign world (though I have run a few short stories set in the immediate aftermath) but there is no reason that it could not be center stage.  Either with people joining in the (doomed) fight against the dragons or just trying to survive in the aftermath adjusting to a radically different world.

Imagine just being out for a stroll in the city square and suddenly screams erupt as the bodies of charred angels and mangled dragons start falling from the sky, crashing into the building and trading stalls.  Looking up, the sky is split by rifts of light and shadow and flashes indicate that something is happening but it is too far away to see . . . until another body plunges down to earth.

Or, you are in your village up in the mountains when the light from the sun, at midday, goes red and the earth shakes.  Everything just seems wrong, the animals are terrified and running all over the place.  Then, for a moment, every seems to return to normal, the sun is again bright . . . and the earth splits, tearing mountains away from mountains and the crack is heading straight for the village!

There is a lot of possibility for drama and action with fights against dragons or the elements (or both) at the end of one world and the beginning of the next.

Art is the Great Day of His Wrath by John Martin and held in the Tate Gallery and the image is in the Public Domain.

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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 – Heart Nail

20 October, 2015

Hammer it inVoddick cleaned his sword and frowned.  “It that a nail in the chest of that unliving corpse we just put down?”

Gollaon looked from where his was cleaning the wound to his forearm.  “I think you are right.”

“Bugger,” said Voddick, pulling a dagger from his belt.  He stepped over to the corpse, knelt down and dug the nail out of the body with his dagger.

“Messy work,” commented his friend.

“Some of the dead brought back with nails like this do not stay dead.  Lost two members of a patrol to a nailed corpse once.  Not again.”

“I am glad you recognized that.  I have not encountered such before.”

Heart Nail

These nails are at least as long as a grown man’s hand and the metal used to make them is often pitted and scarred.  They seem heavier than they should be and they are as cold as ice when inactive and as warm as blood when they have been prepared.  Made from the metal of weapons that had been used to kill, the fires used to forge the nail must be stoked with bones and the finished nail quenched in fresh blood.

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Summerland Blog Carnival – the Empress’ Birthday

22 June, 2015

The Sea of Stars is unusual in that all of the lands upon it have the same seasons, indeed the same length of day, as the Sun is allowed out for longer times during the summer and shorter periods in the winter.  As the Empress likes summer best, it lasts for four months, rather than the three for each of the other three seasons, and in the middle of Summer on the day with the most daylight, her birthday is celebrated (or at least recognized) across the Empire.

Enjoy the show!The tradition has evolved to have a huge party in the Capital starting at dawn.  The Empress mingles with her people and gives out gifts and recognition to the Imperial bureaucracy and military and, occasionally, to one or more of the Draconic Houses.  In the later afternoon, she ventures out to visit other celebrations, bringing stories, entertainments and gifts.  The appearance of the Empress at one of the distant celebrations is a great honor . . . and a terrifying experience.  There are rumors, never proven, that one insult will lead to the wrath of the Empress and the extermination of all who participated.  But no one has visited such a place, or even met someone who has, but always a cousin who met someone who knew a traveler who found such a ruin.

Feasts, contests and fireworks after the Sun returns to his prison are the traditional entertainments and Imperial duties and taxes are suspended for the day, the Empress wishes everyone to enjoy the day, at least, so her proclamations say.

While the Empress’ Birthday is celebrated, her age is never discussed.  (Though it is believed to be well over two millennia possibly as much as three and a half.)

Notes: My contribution to June Blog Festival – Summerland hosted by Tales of a GM.

Photo by Kevin Dooley and used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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Incursions (A to Z Challenge, I)

10 April, 2015

Incursions

Here or thereWhether it was planned or it was a side effect of the Sundering, after that event, transitioning to other places, such as the realms of the Fae, the Shadowed Land and the various heavens and hells become more difficult or nearly impossible without extremely potent magic.  At least, most of that time, that is true.

But sometimes, the walls between the world and one (or more) of the worlds beyond thins.  One of the reasons that the study of astrology is such a refined art in the Sea of Stars, for the alignment of the stars predicts and reveals these periods of thinning.  Yes, the stars will be right.

Even with the walls between worlds being thin, it usually takes some sort of event to create a door.  A storm, a stone circle, a good old fashioned ritual, these and more can all act as the final key to open the door between worlds.  These doors can be opened by accident as well as by design and occasionally dangerous -or just odd- creatures are released into the world.  Sometimes they are snapped back to their side when the alignments change, other times they are trapped.

These alignments are the best time to summon creatures to be bound.  Summoners call and bind angels, demons and other more exotic metaphysical creatures for different tasks, usually considering them to be nothing more than tools for various jobs.  It is said that the Empress disapproves of such dealings with outer beings but she has not imposed legal sanctions against such actions.

Notes: In one of the earlier adventures, the player characters had to deal with a guardian angel who tried to warn them off and almost killed their best fighter.

Photo by Forest Wander and used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license

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Solstice Quest Item – Fern Flower

21 June, 2014

Solstice Night is a magical night, the shortest night of the year.  In the Northern arc of Eastern Europe, it is celebrated in various ways.

Across the region sacred or magical rituals are enacted, almost all linked with symbols of fertility (the maypole, the wreath) and  elements of water and fire.  In Belarus girls and boys bathe in lakes, in Sweden they dance around the Maypole, in Poland young maidens dressed in white float flower wreaths with candles – symbols of maidenhood – on the rivers.  If the wreath gets caught by a man, the girl will get married soon, while if it floats, she can hope to get married one day but not in the near future.  However, if it burns, sinks or gets caught in something, she will never marry.   Herbs gathered during this time and considered to be especially effective in combating illness, but none more so than the mythical fern flower.

The fern flower, which only flowers on this one night, and only the the deep forest, can only be found by the most dedicated or most pure or perhaps just the luckiest individuals . . . For the fern flower is potently magical, it brings one or more of the following:

  • Ability to understand animal speech.
  • Earthly riches.
  • Health.
  • Luck.

Of course, some say the flower is secretly guarded by evil spirits.   Others that any blessing gained from the fern flower will be balanced by a curse.  Though one that is pure of heart and only using the flower for noble ends will not be punished . . . right?

 

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