Archive for the ‘People’ Category

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Marriage and Matrimony in the Sea of Stars (A to Z, M)

15 April, 2019

Continuing to discuss the ways that families exist and are created in the Sea of Stars, you can refer also to Draconic Bloodines and Bastards and Kinships.

The dragons rarely bother with such firm commitments among themselves, their relationships with other dragons tend to be passionate and brief, or contractual and brief.  Rarely will long term commitments emerge between dragons and even those tend to hinge on only being intensely together for a short time and then spending considerable time apart.  Generally, dragons are private beings who prefer only to deal with subordinates on a regular basis, the clash of wills involved when dealing with a peer is draining . . . and dangerous.

Now, the lower ranks of the Draconic Houses, the dracona, dracovi and dani, are expected to marry usually for reasons of dynastic ties and political alliances.  The negotiations involved in such are usually quite complex and involve contracts and exchanges of promises and goods, who ends up married into which house and under what conditions is precisely defined (often on magical contracts).  Sometimes these alliances last only for years, in other cases they are lifetime commitments.

Dynastic unions and political marriages are the usual lot among the noble families in the Sea of Stars, rarely these matches are or become love matches, but children are expected to marry where they are told to by their family.  Sometime these marriages are outside the usual man and woman, triads are rare but not unknown as are same sex pairings.  Even more unusual constellations exist but are rare.

Marriages are a civil and societal commitment, legally witnessed, some cultures invoke the blessing and sanctions of the Sun (even if the rituals used where originally for a different god altogether).  But primarily it is social pressure and cultural sanction that maintains a marriage.

People still seek love and companionship, though not all are fortunate enough to find it in marriage.

Notes: Image King Dushyanta proposing marriage with a ring to Shakuntala. Chromolithograph by Ravi Varma. Wellcome Collection. CC BY.

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Kinship in the Sea of Stars (A to Z, K)

12 April, 2019

The Gods War and the Sundering were hugely disruptive to societies across the Sea of Stars, religious certainties crumbled, the world shattered and everything was in flux.  Weather patterns changed, seas poured away, everything changed and peoples moved, often in great numbers, in search of safety and certainty.  These waves of refugees and migrants washed up near and far changing the composition of many a land and it was decades before the turmoil settled down, partly imposed from the top down as the dragons took charge of their new dominions and partly due to the changes slowing and the new world stabilizing.

With so much turmoil social systems had to adapt or break apart.  Traditions that relied upon religious sanction were particularly hard hit, no small number simply transferred their allegiance to the Sun, the only visible surviving god, and tried to rebuild.  Others turned to the newly triumphant dragons for guidance, adopting Dominae or other draconic beliefs in their attempt to find a new way forward.  A few turned from faith entirely seeking solace in philosophy.

Marriage!With the disruption to families, new ways to organize them were often found: adoptions, fostering and various constellations of marriages were tried and, in some cases, became the new traditions.  The Anjovians from the ice fields on the far spinward part of the Sea of Stars practice marriages exclusively between two couples.  No small number of cultures are matrilineal, tracing decent through the female line.  Contract and limited time marriages are popular in some cultures.  Same sex relationships, and even marriages, are not uncommon in some cultures as there are ways to provide for reproduction and continuation of the family line.

Adoptions and fostering remain common, sharing skills and building ties between families and regions.  Many towns and villages have yearly exchanges to maintain ties running back to the aftermath of the Sundering where one place sent aid to another and that kindness is remembered and built on through the years. The Sheth, a group of grey-skinned humans, adopt children (especially orphans) and feed them a special diet to turn their skin grey to continue their distinctive culture and appearance.  Adoptions are one of the ways that the Draconic Houses increase their numbers, seeking out and recruiting skilled and talented people, sometime even ascending them to the lower levels of the draconic bloodlines.

Kinship is both complex and flexible in the Sea of Stars.

Notes: Image from the Wellcome Collection used under CC BY.

 

 

 

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Draconic Bloodlines and Bastards (A to Z, D)

4 April, 2019

Colorful dragon glassIn the Sea of Stars, all dragons have the ability to change shape most use this ability to take human form which often to indulging in the pleasures and passions that humanity is prone to.  In the first century after the Dragon Rule began there were so very many half-dragons spawned but after that, bearing a half-dragon child became very hard and dangerous on the mother, if not a dragon, the reason for this change is unknown.  (The religious say that it was a punishment from the gods, other wonder if that is so, why did it take a century to manifest.)

Still, there are no small number of people with some amount of dragon blood flowing in their veins, the dragons categorize the people in such a fashion:

  • Dracona, those in the first generation, or half-dragons as some would call them.  Embody quite a few draconic powers (toughness, magical attack -usually being able to breath fire or some such- and great physical strength).  New Dracona are rare (as noted above) but they have a significant lifespan so there are quite a few around.
  • Dracovi, children of the Dracona and other mortals, still marked by greater strength and durability compared to most humanish species but not to the same extent as the Dracona nor is their life as long.  Elves with dragon blood are often called Shadowelves due to their closeness to the Draconic House Shel’liochassa (“Shadowed Heart”).
  • Dani, those with just enough dragonblood for it to manifest in some fashion, providing abilities that are by echos of the power of their distant ancestors.

Certain complex and powerful magics, held almost exclusively by the dragons, can allow people to ascend up the draconic chain of being.  But only the Empress holds the key to the magics that will advance one of the dracona to the status of a true dragon and such power has been exercised . . . once in the history of the Sea of Stars.

The Draconic Houses, in general, care more about loyalty and the power that the dragon-blooded bring than  concern about who their distant ancestor was.  Prove yourself useful and loyal, and you can go far.  Bastards, distant relations, foundlings with dragon-blood, it makes no difference ultimately as long as they devote themself to the house they find service with . . . it is those with greater ambitions that take greater risk but sometime, achieve greater ends.

Notes:This was going to be the A to Z for B (with bastards taking the lead) but I changed it around and you can see how it links to the Bloodline Chain.

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

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Horror Fiction – Cannon forged of Chains

31 October, 2018

Athens, State of Georgia
12 November, 1891

Dear Hannah,

It is done, I will be on the next train back to you. I cannot say I will be sad to be leaving the South, it is not welcoming to a man of my temperaments.

When last I wrote, our local agent, Jon Butler, and I were close on the heels of an artefact tied to the men behind the Order of the White Sword. Using the cache of letters of one Augustus Bartholomew as a guide to trace what had become of the ingots of tainted iron, iron rendered from the chains of slaves, but not any slave chains -as if slave chains are not evil enough- but the chains used to transport escaped slaves back for execution. Anything made from the iron would be at best cursed and at worst, a weapon for evil.

The war was a chaotic time, so much of the paperwork and records of the period were lost. This made tracking the iron into difficult task if not impossible. Records in Atlanta where useless but they set us onto a collection of papers in Athens at the University of Georgia library. There a scrap of information indicated that the iron had been shipped to Athens for use by John Gilleland, to cast a double-barreled cannon. Nothing in our research showed that Gilleland, who designed the cannon, knew the source of the metal used but someone was working with or for the Dark insured that it was the iron used.

Double Barreled CannonThe cannon and reports on it were not difficult to find. It was our good luck that the cannon was still here in Athens. Silver powder applied surreptitiously to the cannon tarnished instantly. It was truly cursed, the souls of the murdered slaves were still bound into the metal shown by the black green of the silver. Mr. Butler believed that is why the cannon failed so spectacularly when it was tested, the angry spirits would not let it be turned against those that were trying to free them. But someone knew what had been created. Why they did not finish binding the spirits to the cannon, indeed, even who was behind it, we could not discover. Mr. Butler believed he was a Confederate officer who was called away and killed before he could complete the magic. It seemed plausible but I doubt we will never know. Read the rest of this entry ?

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A to Z – Zoomorphic

30 April, 2018

There was some zoomorphism among the now slain gods, especially among the gods whose portfolios included the beasts.  Though, with the possible exception of Ypisara, they did not create peoples in their image.  It seems there was no place for zoomorphic folk under the old divine regime.

BeastKine at playThe majority of Beastkine emerged in the aftermath of the Sundering as a result of the potent and uncontrolled magic released from that event.  The Beastkine are small in number by comparison to the other major people and are unusual enough that they will often earn a second look even from jaded city dwellers.  Naturally, the Beastkine do not consider themselves strange at all and are happy to venture and explore all across the Sea of Stars.

Further, the magic changes from the Sundering both created many chimeric creatures and made using magic and alchemy to create new ones a much simpler task.  In some regions chimeric beast are almost as common as their unblended relatives, though with them being so common, people no longer think of them as anything other than the beast of the region.

While wizards and alchemical masters may try to make their own chimera very few have tried to create their own beastfolk.  Perhaps it is simply too daunting of a task or perhaps even the flexible morality of wizards has it limits.

Notes: And this almost wraps up the A to Z for the month.  Thanks for reading!

Photo edited from “cat people cosplay, furries, at Steampunk Worlds Fair” by Steampunk Family the von Hedwigs is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

 

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A to Z – Villains

27 April, 2018

The Sea of Stars is full of villains, how could it not be?, ranging from (arguably) the Empress down to petty bandits and thieves.  But for this we will confine ourselves to the upper levels of villainy.

How does one define villainy in a world ruled by dragons?  Some would place the Empress as the most vile of villains, after all, it was her machinations that caused the downfall of the gods and lead to the Sundering.  Yet, for all that, she is not much of a villain now, her domains are ruled with a light touch and she keeps order using the minimum of force needed.  it could be argued that she is now a force for, not good, but stability and peace.  Certainly, her death would be likely to through the whole world into chaos.

Eat your foesNow, Ba’ai’ai, the Dark Star, is a villain without doubt, a ancient and mighty dragon seeking only to expand his personal power whatever the cost to others.  He even built an Empire slaved to his dreams of power and conquest.  His ambition will lead directly to the most bloody and destructive conflict the Sea of Stars has seen, the Nightmare War.

The government of the High Kingdom of Laccini, using necourgists, money and military force to expand their influence.  A much more human threat but still dangerous and persistent.

The Sen’tek still plot and scheme to overthrow the Dragons, seemingly careless of who and what else suffers, their initial attempt to tear them down having failed.  They will provide aid and weapons to anyone who will strike against the dragons and the Imperium for whatever reason, the Sen’tek just want the dragons destroyed because only then will they be safe.

Notes: Late again, sorry.  Been busy.  There are more villains of course, but this is a start.

Image “The Dragon Devouring the Companions of Cadmus” by Hendrick Goltzius (Netherlandish, Mühlbracht 1558–1617 Haarlem), after Cornelis Cornelisz van Haarlem (Netherlandish, Haarlem 1562–1638 Haarlem) via The Metropolitan Museum of Art is licensed under CC0 1.0

 

 

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A to Z – Performers, Players and Playwrights (and Philosophers)

22 April, 2018

One of the ways that news travels across the Sea of Stars is with various types of performers, from lone minstrels to theater companies, Commedia dell’arte type troupes to wandering philosophers.

Minstrel, bards and even groups of musicians travel from place to place bringing news and good cheer with them.  Most can be sure of getting at least a free meal and space in the common room of whatever inn they visit for a few hours of entertainment work.  Music is widespread across the lands with many interesting instruments and styles emerging since the Sundering.  Dragons seem to be inordinately fond of choral music and many large cities, and wealthy nobles, retain choirs to please visiting dragons.

Theater is mostly confined to large cities and courts throughout the world, though some groups tour smaller cities in the off season.  The Empress sponsors between three and seven Imperial theater troupes at any time, sending them on goodwill tours through out the Empire.  Theater troupes often stick to classical plays which have been approved and made safe by age, it is only under dragons who ignore or appreciate the theater that troupes are willing to try new and experimental works.

Something for everyoneThe Commedia dell’arte type troupes travel widely, though mostly from city to city, taking their mix of set pieces and improvisational performances to a wide audience.  The open framework of their performances allows for easy adoption of local stories and news into their acts making each performance unique though with common themes.  One of the stock characters in the Sea of Stars is the masked and robed astrologer who give cryptic and often quite ludicrous advice to those seeking his aid

Philosophy as a performance art and intellectual competition, there is a great interest in philosophy in the Sea of Stars perhaps as a result of the loss of the gods and much of the traditional religious understanding of the world.  Traveling philosophers, many from Borusa the City of Scholars, travel a circuit of the cities and larger towns debating each other, local scholars and members of the public.  The dragons by and large tolerate such as long as the philosophers are not actively seditious, some even seem to enjoy the cut and thrust of academic debate.

Notes: While there have not been a lot of bards played in the Sea of Stars we did have a brief musically themed campaign.  And I find the idea of philosophy as performance art, or intellectual sport, highly amusing.  “Come, pit yourself against Ronalf the Learned, never beaten in debate, for a purse of 200 silver coins!”  Also, the idea of using a commedia dell’arte troupe as a framework for an adventuring party has great appeal to me.

Art Commedia dell’arte Troupe on a Wagon in a Town Square, by Jan Miel, 1640, found on Wikimedia Commons and is in the public domain.

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