Archive for the ‘Things’ Category


Yokewood of the Sea of Stars ( A to Z, Y)

29 April, 2019

TwistedYokewood is only found in four groves and it thrives nowhere else, these groves were once holy sites to the God of Slavery, three of them are part of the Imperial demesne and the fourth lies in the Dark Star Dominion.  The yokewood tree does not grow straight but curved and twisted, forming natural yokes and pillories, and it is easily shaped.

It is used to bind and restrain, the wood grows back together, forming cuffs, bars for cages or doors,or other restrains as needed.  Yokewood draws strength from those it binds making it harder to break, the stronger the person being restrained, the more unyielding the yokewood.

Used as manacles, they are treated as masterwork, as bars, they are treated as iron, as other binding, as chains.  Their hardness and break DC is increased by half the Strength modifier (rounded up, minimum 1) of whoever is trying to attack or break them.  Yokewood’s hardness is increased by 5 against most energy attacks and by 10 against cold and electrical attacks.

A magical key, also made of yokewood, and the right gesture and word (or phrase) is required and the person using the magical key cannot be a slave, if they have accepted that status for them-self, the key will not function for them (unsurprisingly, the God of Slavers was cruel and cautious).

Cost: Manacles, 1,200.  Bars, 2,000 for a 5×5 area.  “Chains” 800 for 10′

For D&D 5E:

First, second and fourth paragraph as above.

Used as manacles, they are treated as metal, as bars, they are treated as iron, as other binding, as chains.  Their armor class is 17 and a Damage Threshold of 7, both of which is increased by half the Strength modifier (rounded up, minimum 1) of whoever is trying to attack or break them.  Yokewood’s resistance to all energy attacks.

Notes: From a suggestion from my wife.  Y is a difficult letter too.

Photo “squirly” by joysaphine is licensed under CC by-nc 2.0



Printing in the Sea of Stars (A to Z, P)

18 April, 2019

The Empress has pushed printing forward as a technology, as it supports her goal of an efficient Imperial administration as does her promotion of education.  The Empress feels that the dispersion of knowledge is a good in and of itself and printing aids in that task.  The Imperial press is jointly overseen by the Judge (for legal affairs), the Minister (for governmental documents) and the Sage (for everything else) while the Herald is usually tasked with seeing the printed materials distributed throughout the Sea of Stars.

Printing pressesThe various scholar-towers of the City of Borusa have all invested in their own presses and churn out monographs and scholarly works on a wide variety of esoteric subjects.  These works are exported across the Sea of Stars and are occasionally in great demand and reprinted (with or without permission and license).

Most major cities produce broadsheets of news and opinion which are then slowly dispersed throughout the countryside, first to towns and then to villages, spreading throughout the land as quickly as coaches and riders can carry them.  Some states attempt to control the use of printing with greater (the Dark Star Dominion) or lesser (the Eosiant Kingdom) success through the use of various strategies: licensing, control of supplies, censors and other such means of control.

The elves mastered the use of wood carving for printing, while the dwarves pioneered the use of metal and stone movable type but both are now widely used across the lands.  Printing presses are occasionally enhanced by alchemical treatments or magic, there are even rumors of print golems and elemental powered presses.  Works of poetry and fiction, philosophy and warfare, engineering, history and magic are all published and sent around the Sea of Stars, this proliferation of written works encourages and supports literacy even in the far corners of the world.

Notes: More excuses for literate characters across the world.

ImageL Many types of printing press, with details of their mechanisms. Engraving by William Home Lizars after himself, 1830. Wellcome Collection. CC BY.


Justice and Imperial Law in the Sea of Stars (A to Z, J)

11 April, 2019

There is no one universal law or system of justice in the Sea of Stars, the closest is Imperial Law but it only reaches as far as the agents of the Imperium and the Empress.  While most Draconic rulers cooperate with Imperial Law, they do so with various degrees of enthusiasm, for example, almost all Draconic Houses wholeheartedly cooperate with the Imperial proscription on the Moon Sect as they are a source of chaos and disruption.  While the assistance provided to the Imperial navy when they are hunting pirates tends to depend on how much the ruler benefits or is harmed from such piracy (the Imperial navy will not punish privateers as long as they operate within their letter of marque).

Is Justice blind?The only Imperial laws that universally enforced, and will trigger intervention from the Imperium if not followed, are the paying of Imperial taxes and the maintenance of the Imperial currency.  Imperial Law is, well, draconian,  offering harsh punishments for the narrow band of crimes it concerns itself with but most crimes are left to the local states to prosecute and punish as the rulers, legal systems and cultures see fit.

As a general rule, the dragons have not interfered much in the legal systems of the lands they now rule finding such matters tedious at best.  When they want a law changed they tell their subjects to change, which is how the Moon Sect has become illegal and hunted in most lands of the Sea of Stars, though a clawful of states have never passed official laws to such effect.  Membership in the Sen’Tek conspiracy is punishable by death in a wide range of nations but not, oddly, by Imperial Law.

While one of the members of the Empress’ inner circle is the Judge, who studies, collects and analyzes laws from across the entirety of the Sea of Stars, the Imperial legal system is as simple and understandable as it can be.  The Judge occasionally refines a line or two but spends far more time answering questions and advising Draconic Houses and states both on legal matters and ways to improve their legal codes.  He favors a transparent set of rules, understood by all, to best seek both truth and justice with, as least as far as dragons understand such a concept.

Notes: Image “Framed Justice” by djking is licensed under CC by-nc-sa 2.0.


Airships, Alchemical and Otherwise, in the Sea of Stars (A to Z, A)

1 April, 2019

Come fly with usTravel and trade between the islands that compose the Sea of Stars is primarily through starships and skyship some people (and groups) try to find other ways to move safely between the islands that is not reliant on rare woods or magic.

The dwarves in particular have sought our other methods of aerial travel to replace their expensive gemburners and crystal ships.  While the Sen’tek seek to use ways to travel that the dragons will not sense.  Others simply seek new innovations and the excitement of air travel.

Various sorts of hot air balloons and semi-rigid airship with lift provided by heated air have been tried but their limited carrying capacity and range have made them impractical for anything beside short range transportation but they are popular at fairs and for aerial surveys.

Use of gasses, such as hydrogen or helium, alchemically refined from natural gas (or other sources) has been tried but both the difficulty of refining and working with such gasses, combined with the flammability of hydrogen, have limited the ability to develop these technologies very far.  Purely alchemical lifting gasses, such a purified air or elemental infused smoke, have had greater success but move into magic adjacent territory which is not the aim of all of the practitioners, but several of the dwarven holds have managed airships carried by such gasbags which are viable if ungainly forms of local air transport.

Notes: Image from the Wellcome Collection and used under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.


Slings and Slingers for 5E

30 March, 2019

Take that!To round out Mars’ month, I return to looking at slings (which I covered for D&D 3.x/Pathfinder here)which have historically been ill-treated in D&D (and equally so in Pathfinder).  Historically, the Baleric Slingers were mercenary soldiers prized by the Carthaginians and later by the Romans and served all over the ancient world, David used a sling to defeat Goliath.  For centuries, they were a weapon justly feared.  It should be the same in fantasy games.

So to do that, in D&D 5E it just need a minor tweak (much less than Pathfinder needed): several things need to be addressed:

Damage and Range:  The damage a sling causes is just pitiful, no one is going to be afraid of sling and you are sure not going to be taking down any Golaiths with one.

So, use the following:

  • Sling Bullet, 1d6 bludgeoning, Ammunition (range 70/280)
  • Stone Stone, 1d4 bludgeoning, Ammunition (range 45/180)

This moves a slinger with bullets into a comparable damage/range band as an archer with a short bow, which is where I think they should be.  (It also includes a increase in the range for the basic sling stone

Sling and sling-related magic items for 5E: Kidney Sling Stone.  (More to follow as I have time to convert older items.)

More information on slings:

Slings at Wikipedia, a resource site for the modern slinger

Notes: Sling bullet image from the Portable Antiquities Scheme and used under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.


A to Z – Giant Bone

9 April, 2018

Bone“Weapons made of bone,” Voddick shook his head.  “I cannot help but find them distasteful.”

“Understandable,” said Gollaon inspecting a dagger carved from bone.  “Using what was once an animal, or a person, as a weapon has a stench of necrourgy to it.”

“Agreed,” nodded Voddick.  “I will stick to steel and bronze.”

Giant bone is a prized material, as hard as metal, it can be shaped and it easily accepts enchantments aligned with the elemental nature of the giant it was harvested from.  The larger the bone, the larger the giant and the more elementally powerful the giant was, all play into the value of the a piece of giant bone.

Since the aftermath of the Gods War, the number of giants has declined precipitously and new giant bone has become increasing rare, though some Draconic Houses are said to retain a considerable stockpile of giant bones.

One of the rarer classes of sky ships use alchemical treated bones, usually the ribs, of the sky giants incorporated into the hulls to provide lift.  Their magic has proved very potent and many of these ships still travel the skies even today.

Notes: Many, many years back I remember reading an article, I think it was in Sorcerer’s Apprentice magazine, that discussed giants and if a humanoid was as large as a giant, it would have to have bones like structural steel and blood like acid.  This has always inspired my thinking about giant bone.  Additionally, in the RuneQuest book of treasures, there was a legendary lance carved from the thigh bone of a giant (because giants in Glorantha are really big).

Image cropped from “Bokeh Bone” by Al King is licensed under CC BY 2.0.


A to Z – Fantastic Foods of the Sea of Stars

6 April, 2018

The Sundering and the release of strange magics in the aftermath of the Gods War has produced many odd things to mix with the many foodstuffs that existed before.  Most anything sort of food that exist here in Earth can be found in the Sea of Stars.  Additionally, there are many stranger and more unusual edibles to be found, such as:

  • Food!Eternal apples from the Stone Forest of Vut, while their fruit is grey, and the flesh slightly grainy, they keep indefinitely (or at least for centuries).
  • Self-cooking barley from the Sulfur Hills, the grain tossed into water boils the water and cooks itself but it does taste of mildly of sulfur.
  • Fish from the Fish Trees of Malabar, packed and salted in barrels.  Their wooden bones can serve as toothpicks.
  • Blue honey from the giant sapphire bees of the Karulean mountains.  It is said that the mead brewed from it can provide the ability to fly.
  • Rat steaks, and other cuts, harvested from the giant rats of Tikk Most, where there are raised like pigs.  Sadly, the merchants of Tikk Most have not been able to convert rat meat into much of an export commodity.
  • Rainbow wheat from the fields of Khelm are extremely colorful, though it takes considerable work to sort the grains by color.  Chickens, or other foul, fed the grain produce eggs with shells of the same color.
  • The glowing shrimp netted in the waters off the Pearl Cities, cooking in the proper spices will adjust the color of the glow from yellow to orange, pink or even lavender, the most difficult color to obtain.

There is more, much more, but that is all I have for you today.

Notes: Image “Food” by Ray_LAC is licensed under CC BY 2.0


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