Archive for the ‘Things’ Category

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New Monster – Goblin (Stellar) for D&D 5E (A to Z)

8 April, 2021

Goblins in the Sea of Stars, as one would expect, are different.

Goblin (Stellar)

BrokenMirrorMirror, mirror polished bright
Mirror, mirror warding light
Mirror, mirror night and day
Goblin, goblin keep away

-Traditional Visse Cleaning Rhyme

You turn to see something duck behind a rock, a moment later it is leering at you from around a tree.  Glittering yellow eyes slit like a cat’s under a wild green and orange hair peer out from a face like a squashed child.  It laughs evilly as you realize your shoes have sunk into the ankles in a pile of dung that was concealed by loose grass and straw.  You look back and the creature has vanished.
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Divine Artifacts in the Sea of Stars

15 February, 2021

We are about halfway through February’s RPG Blog Carnival for the Month of February, 2021, on the theme of Gifts of the Gods, divine artifacts, so time to add some more to that theme.

What will you make today?Unlike many worlds, the Sea of Stars has almost no new divine artifacts being created, almost all of the such items date to before the Sundering.  The God of Smiths, whose portfolio also included creation, was slain before the Gods War even began, throwing the primary chain for the creation of artifacts into chaos and confusion.  Of course, the forges of the militant gods keep working and the Law Lords and the Shadows of Chaos prepared for the coming war, sadly, they were preparing for the wrong one.

But at the end of the Gods War, almost all of the surviving divine artifacts were seized by various dragons, the majority (about three fifths) were grasped by the Empress and her agents, the next largest amount fell into the claws of Ba’ai’ai, the Dark Star, with the remained shared among the other dragons, almost every dragon who fought in the Gods War managed to acquire at least one divine artifact in the process.  Over the years, the Empress has drawn more and more of the surviving artifacts to her, soliciting them as gift, accepting them in lieu of taxes or fines, or, rarely, purchasing them. 

The Empress keeps these artifacts sealed against times of great need, for example she is well equipped to repulse any attempt by the Law Lords or the Shadow of Chaos, should either return by some means, to restore their power using the arsenals prepared by their opposites.  Further, the Imperial Arsenal lacks no number weapons optimized towards the slaying of angels, demons and devils.  For most situations, normal draconic might and enchanted weapons are sufficient, divine weaponry is only used when it is desperately needed.

Naturally, there are very few divine artifacts made in the Sea of Stars now, the Sun Cult produces a small number of items (such as the Sun-Blessed Diadem) but no weaponry . . . that the dragons know of.  (There may be a cyclops smith still producing Sun’s Champion’s Blades somewhere.)  The Moon Cult sporadically produces divine items for its members use, though with little rhyme nor reason.

There are a handful of hidden artifacts left, placed for divine quests which were . . . interrupted or never started.  It is possible that someone could stumble onto the items or into the quests (and thus, eventually to the items).  Unfortunately, the cyclops who made the divine artifacts were almost wiped out, a few were captured by the Empress, if any other survived they were likely hidden away by one of the Draconic Houses or the Dwarven Holds, the only groups with the resources to hide such a valuable being from the eyes of the Empress.

Notes: Who makes the divine artifacts in your campaign world?

Image “Venus at the Forge of Vulcan” by Louis Félix de La Rue (French, 1731-1777) is marked with CC0 1.0.

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Zymology and Zoophagy (A to Z)

30 April, 2020

Have a drink!Zymurgy is the science of brewing and fermentation because, as we know, if it can be turned into alcohol people will find a way to do so.  That is as true in the Sea of Stars as it is here and in the Sea of Stars there are even more bizarre things to brew drinks such as:

Blood Wine, a red ice wine fortified with spices and . . . other additives.  Packs a very potent punch even though it has a moderate alcohol content.

Flame Mead, brewed from fire bee honey, which is naturally warm and will self-ignite if left out in the Sun.

Liquid Lightning, captured in the outer banks of North Battavel, where the lightning and rain mix together, this charged water is used to brew the local beer which causes an electric tingle all the way through the drinkers system.  Definitely an acquired taste.

Ruby Wine, made from the ruby raspberry of Uvenhome, it has the most beautiful ruby color and if allowed to freeze, it crystallizes and retains that crystal shape unless it is raised to almost boiling.  Making it very useful for decoration.

And so many others (such as Badgerkin Beer).

Zoophagy is simply the feeding on animals by other animals, this can be natural or forced.  Many dragons keep pets and prefer predators.  Some of those dragons in turn feed on those predators reinforcing their place at the top of the food chain.

A few even agree with:

The Ogre philosopher Gnerdel believed the purpose of life was to live as high on the food chain as possible. She refused to eat vegetarians, preferring to live entirely on creatures that preyed on sentient beings.

(From the Magic: the Gathering card Grey Ogre, not a great card but a great quote)

NotesAnd with that, we wrap up another Blogging from A to Z.  Hope you enjoyed a wander through the odd corners of the Sea of Stars.

Image Visitors in a brewery storeroom full of casks of ale. Wood-engraving, c. 1847. Wellcome Collection. License CC BY.

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Xenacious Talisman (A to Z, Tuesday Magic Item)

28 April, 2020

One of the things that has always bothered me in fantasy world was the default assumption of xenophobia, that anyone from not here was bad and evil.  Fantasy worlds are full of wonders and strange and interesting being may of whom are happy to talk over a cup of tea.  Which is why I subverted this trope to a default of xenophilia in the Sea of Stars.

See the world!“I like our new employer,” said Voddick.  “Nice to be traveling with someone one who is exciting about seeing new places.”

“As do I, it is . . . refreshing,” replied Gollaon with a smile.

“It gives me hope for the future, makes it exciting to travel again,” Voddick struck a dramatic pose

“Yes!” Gollaon stepped up and matched the pose.

“Are you two done?  There is an amazing mural here!”

Xenacious Talisman

These talismans are always made in a blend of styles, not two are the same, incorporate coins, symbols and other elements from various cultures and places.

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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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Salt and Serpents (A to Z)

22 April, 2020

So much can be made from thisBefore the Sundering, on one corner of the world, there was a civilization of serpent people who followed the goddess Ypisara, goddess of salt, serpents and fishes.  Ypisara gave herself up to the Dragon Empress to save her people and the Empress adopted the serpent folk as her own, placing them and their lands under Imperial protection.

The Ypisaran culture is unusual as it uses salt to make many things that other societies used metal or stone for, reinforcing the structure of that brittle material with secret techniques, alchemy and magic.  The Ypisarian blades and scale armor made of hardened salt are the most well known, most weapon collector have at least one Ypisarian knife or sword in their possession and the weaponsmiths of the serpent people manage a good trade in weapons purely for collectors and tourists.

The houses of the Ypisarians are mostly made of blocks of hardened salt making them glow and glitter in the sunlight, it is a spectacular sight but painful to the eyes of those not adapted to such glare.  Visitor expecting the houses to melt in the rare rains will be disappointed but the brief moment when the sun first strikes the wet surfaces of the houses and bathes them in rainbow light for just a few seconds before the water begins to steam away.

What were once the Temples of Ypisara have been converted into government building or palaces for the Empress and, while worship of Ypisara as a god is banned, worship of her as an ancestor is allowed and her image show up in many household shrines, though less commonly in public ones.

The serpent folk, even before the Sundering, are mostly content to keep to themselves.  Rarely one will enter Imperial service or decide to travel but they are rare in the wider world.

Notes:  Bending back to some themes I had wished to explore further.

Image Kosher Salt, Creator stlbites.com, License CC by-nd 2.0

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Rattail Blade (A to Z, Tuesday Magic Item)

21 April, 2020

The god of rats and vermin was one of the last gods to be hunted down and before he was killed, he set in motion what he hoped would be his vengeance (see Osquip, Stellar).  Others, learning of the divine hatred imbued in the Osquip has taken to using that magic to build weapons.

Rats rememberVoddick and Gollaon watched as the guards searched one fellow heading into the Senatehouse of the Serene Republic.  They looked at each other and followed.  “Something wrong,” said Voddick.

“Very wrong,” agreed Gollaon.  “His eyes were too dark.”

“And a twitchy nose.”

They looked at each other.  “Rat tail.”

The man they were following spotted them and started to run.

Rattail Blade

These weapons are always narrow and usually long, their blades are a dull color usually gray or blackened, and their grips are rough leather.  The sheaths are always pale leather.

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Looms and Luck (A to Z, Tuesday Magic Item)

14 April, 2020

Weave your fateThe loom of fate is woven by powers that are not quite gods but certainly powerful in a way unique only to them.  Powerful enough that is is wise not to interfere with their work if you value the quality of your existence.  The thread of fate can be rewoven . . . or cut.

“What did the old weaver ask for?” asked Gollaon as they began their march out of town.

Voddick frowned.  “You will be unhappy with me, my friend.”

“Will I?”

“Yes, they asked for a lock of my hair,” said Voddick.  “Normally, not something I would give.  I know the way magic can be used, you have warned me enough.  But, perhaps foolishly, I trust the weaver and gave the lock.”

Gollaon chewed on his lip for a moment.  “I cannot say I am happy about that, but your sense of who to trust is rarely wrong.  If it was not so uncannily accurate we would not be here.  So, I will say no more on the matter.”

Loom of Luck

These looms are . . . looms, appropriate to whatever style is used in the region, there is some indication that they change is they are moved from area to area (or as styles change).  They are always well made and even if left in a dusty attic, they are ready to be used once dusted off.  It is believed that the fates made these loom, or had them made, for some purpose not obvious to mortal understanding.

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Kine and Kinship (A to Z)

13 April, 2020

Just a perfectly ordinary familyKine is the term used to group together creatures of a similar type, some of the larger groups in the Sea of Stars:

  • Dragonkine, all of the various types of dragons as well as those with draconic blood
  • Beastkine, those uplifted from animals by gods, magic or other events.
  • Earthkine, the elves and their closely related beings.
  • Gemkine, the dwarves.
  • Giantkine, the giants and their descendants.
  • Vissekine, created servitor race and similar beings.

Each of the groups are assumed to share certain characteristics, and it serves as a shorthand for defining (or stereotyping) the various types of being in the Sea of Stars; All Dragonkine are greedy, all Gemkine hard-working, and so on.

Before the Gods War, there was another kine that was widespread, the Godkine, those with divine blood in their veins.  Their numbers declined precipitously after the Sundering and they are vanishingly rare now.  The only new ones are the results of the Sun’s occasional dalliance.

But what you are is usually immaterial next to what family or group you belong to.  Guilds, trade houses, nobles families, churches, cults, and more.  Very few organizations place any restriction on what Kine belong to them, they are much more interested in success.  Some of the few that rely on species to screen their membership are the Sen’tek, who use it as a security measure, a few criminal organization, for the same reasons, and the exceedingly rare group based around the belief that their species is uniquely valuable.  Even the dwarves, who are organized into Clans around the gem-types they are tied to, recruit skilled craftpeople and specialists from outside the dwarven clanholds.  The Dragons have their Houses, none more powerful than the Imperial House, who are constantly seeking the talented and powerful people to increase the strength of the house.

Usually, once accepted into one of these groups, they are your family, and you are treated as such with all rights and responsibilities thereof.  Meeting a human who is all a member of the Ruby Dwarf Clan is usual but not unknown.  Draconic houses are notable catholic in the acquisition of useful and powerful individuals.  In other words, do not assume by stereotype what role a person may have because of their species.

Between what you and what group you are part of are nearly unlimited combination for adventure and advancement.

Notes: Just some thought about people and families in the Sea of Stars.

Photo ABC Television publicity photo of the Addams Family, found on Wikimedia Commons and is in the Pubic Domain.

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Jewellery and Judiciary (A to Z)

11 April, 2020

Is it just?Dragons loves jewellery, they shaping of precious produce a lovely resonance for dragons (see Gems) and many dragons are in constant competition to acquire the most skilled jewelers (or at least their services) to produce the finest jewelry of the most valuable or most exotic materials.  At the various gatherings of the dragon, they show off their recent acquisitions and offer each other challenges for specific designs or materials to be used for next year or next decade.  The Empress encourages such, and rewards the victor of such challenges through recognition and awards of status, as a way of channeling the natural competitive nature of dragonkine away from violence; though it does not stop violence being involved in the acquisition of materials and craftspeople, though usually by agents and mercenaries rather than anything that would risk a full scale war between Draconic Houses.

The Imperial Judiciary is overseen by the Judge, who gathers and codifies all of the Imperial Laws, it is less known that his agents gather copies of all of the laws passed by all of the polities in the Sea of Stars.  The Judge obsessively analyzes and compares, seeking the perfect blend of brevity and legal clarity, though the laws are not updated more than once every half century.  After all, part of the value of the law is predictability and understanding what is expect of one under the law.

The Imperial Laws are the highest laws in the Sea of Stars and override the laws of the polities that comprise the Empire.  However, the Empress almost never uses this fact against her subject, and especially not against the Draconic Houses, she understand how important the perception of control is to her fellow dragons.  Though sometimes when she wishes something done, she will send a polite reminder of how Imperial Law could be enforced as a spur to getting the result that she seeks.  But the only Imperial Laws that are ruthlessly and routinely enforced are those that comprise the tax code, the Empress will have her share, without fail.

Notes: Just some ideas for unusual situation and quests that could be used to spur adventure.  More on the Imperial Judiciary here.

Photo The Scales of Justice are not even anymore, Creator Sheba_Also 43,000 photos, License CC by-sa 2.0

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