Archive for the ‘Things’ Category

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Umbra, shadow between the stars (A to Z Challenge, U)

25 April, 2016

Out thereBeyond the space between the islands, between the stars is the darkest of shadow, known as the Umbra to those who study such things.  But there are being that live (or at least exist) in this strange space, the darkness between, is the home to a host of strange beings, many inimical to life as it is known on the islands, though they rarely venture into the Sea of Stars unless summoned by the foolish

These sub-umbral creatures come in a bewildering and frightening range of sizes, shapes and geometries, in some cases their mere presence warps and damages what is around them, others come from space so far removed from the standard conceptions of being that even looking upon them risks one’s hold on reality.  The danger of summoning such alien creatures is often lost on those who have access to the tools to do so, as often their is no indication beyond some flowery description (“The darkness without”, “the infinite shifting flower” and such) about what they are bringing into the world.  Once brought here, they are extremely difficult to control, fortunately in some cases the world is as inimical to these bizarre being as they are to the world, which does not prevent them from causing a great deal of harm before they die.  They that the summoner can control sometime pose an even greater threat as the summoner will probably with to bring more and eventually they will break free.

The sub-umbral beings can be classified into families of strangeness each with similar characteristics but each branch is radically different from the others making classification difficult even when reliable data can be gathered about the sub-umbrals.

One of the secret tasks of the Imperial Navy and other Imperial forces is to locate and root out infiltration of these sub-umbral beings, luckily such tasks are rare as they can be exceedingly dangerous and dragons in Imperial service are routinely called in to support the sealing of such threats.

Notes: For those that want Lovecraftian or Far Realm strangeness in their Sea of Stars campaign, this is where it comes from.  Umrays are one of the least strange of the sub-umbrals being from near space.

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

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Jade, a magical material (A to Z Challenge, J)

12 April, 2016

There is power in jadeIn the Sea of Stars, jade is prized both for its beauty and for its innate magic.   That is it is easily treatable, either through magic or alchemy, to make it as hard as steel allows it to be shaped into weapons as well as hard-wearing jewelry and other useful objects.  Traditional alchemists especially prize tools and bowls shaped from magically hardened jade.

The most important property of weapons made from jade is their effectiveness against ghosts and other forms of returned dead, making jade weapons prized among ghost hunters and spirit slayers.

Jade is often worked into protective amulets, such as those against ghosts, but rarely into to armor though such is extremely effective at defeating the attack of unliving beings.

For those with the wealth to build such thing, Jade serves as a barrier that ghosts and other spirit beings cannot pass through and ghost cages and traps are usually made of this material.

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Fae in the Sea of Stars (A to Z Challenge, F)

7 April, 2016

From here to thereThe fae otherworld was once tightly woven into the structure of the world with portals crossing between the two realms and the Courts of the Seasons playing its political games here and there.  But then came the Sundering, tearing the world apart and away, the majority of the portals between the two were torn apart, some changed into new and different paths, and only a few maintained their previous link.

The Courts of the Seasons were still reeling from this disaster when the new draconic lords started destroying or warding the most obvious of the surviving passageways.  Spurred into action, the Courts, fully cooperating with each other for the first time in the long memories of the fae, began to conceal the existing pathways and restore those of the damaged one they could before they were sealed off from the mortal world.  Their efforts were successful but at a cost, not only were many of the best portals destroyed but no small number of skilled fae perished either in magical accidents or at the hands of the dragons.

The first century of dragon rule would be a difficult one for the fae, cut off from most of the mortal realm and its resources they learned how dependent they had become on materials and magic harvested from the mortal realm and they had to find substitutes or do without, not an easy thing for the fae.  But they managed, though a handful kinlines vanished unable to survive the changed world, and planned to rebuild their pathways to the mortal realm.

It was a slow and cautious process, taking several centuries, but aided by the goblins, the warped fae who had been trapped in the mortal realm, secret pathways were reestablished and the fae again gained limited -but reliable- access to the mortal world.  The fae remain exceedingly cautious and try to avoid being spotted by the dragons or their agents, conveniently most of the people the fae interact with feel the same way.

The fae presence in the Sea of Stars is there, but always around corners or over the next hill.  Finding the fae is the first challenge, dealing with them is the second for they are suspicious at best when dealing with outsiders.  That being said, the fae do have unusual items and magics that can be found in no other place.

Recently, some of the fae -especially those from the Court of Winter- have been reaching out to the Sen’tek as both share a common foe, what will become of such remains to be seen.

Notes: A little more on the other realms of the Sea of Stars setting.

Photo by Ruth Hartnup and used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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Dragonsteel, a Magical Material (A to Z Challenge, D)

5 April, 2016

Some many bladesMagical metals and alloys of metals have been known since well before the Sundering, Fae Bronze, Godforged metals, Meteoric Iron and other more obscure.  However, Dragonsteel emerged late in the pre-Sundering Era, passed from the Crafter of the Gods and his apprentice to the wonder-workers who followed his path and its knowledge quickly spread.

Dragonsteel is made of high quality steel alloyed with dragon blood and scales and, sometimes, dragon bone or teeth.  The usefulness of dragonsteel led to a run on available stockpiles of such materials and quickly led to the hunting of dragons to fuel the forges making this new wonder metal.  Scholars who study such things think that these expanded dragon hunts may have been one of the factors that pushed some of the wavering dragons into the Empress’ camp before the Gods War.

Now that dragons rule, they gift their favored smiths with blood, scales and occasionally other things to be used to feed the production of Dragonsteel making it one of the most common magical metals to be found.

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Zebra, Riding (A to Z Challenge, Z)

30 April, 2015

Zebra, Riding

Zebra as draft animalsIn the aftermath of the Sundering many areas suffered unusual patterns of destruction, and occasionally creation, but in several areas, horses were almost entirely wiped out and the nearest creature to replace them were zebras.  Zebras can serve in the same role as horses and ponies but not in the role of larger horses.  But teams of them can still be used to pull carts and wagons.

However, zebra are skittish and prone to panic making them nearly useless for military uses.  While zebra can be used to ride to battle but it not recommended that they be ridden in battle.  On the bright side, zebra are hardy and resistant to disease making them very useful for all other tasks.

Treat zebra as ponies or light horses, as is appropriate to their size, with the following additional abilities:

  • Hardy, zebra gain a +2 racial bonus to saves against disease.
  • Skittish, zebra suffer a-2 morale penalty to saves against fear.

Notes: Like X, Z is not the easiest letter to work with.  And with this, the A to Z Challenge for 2015 is successfully concluded.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons and is the Public Domain

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Wayism (A to Z Challenge, W)

27 April, 2015

Wayism

The Way is the Tao is the . . .The Way is the Way.  Wayism is as much a philosophy as a belief in higher powers, while existing before the Sundering, it has spread widely since then filling a need among people for guidelines to live by.  The Way denotes something that is both the origins of and the motivating force of all that exists.  A good life is one that is lived in harmony with both the Way and each person’s unique individual way.

Wayist seemliness and ethics may vary depending on the particular school, but they tend to emphasize action through non-action, harmony with the natural world, simplicity, spontaneity, and the Three Jewels: compassion, moderation, and humility, which form the foundation of Wayist thought and action.

Wayism is in all ways, a faith of the people and is deeply intertwined with folk medicine and magic, divination (primary astrology and coin reading), alchemy and dealing with supernatural threats to the community.  Wayist Ghost Hunters are common in some areas and there is a thriving trade in Wayish charms and talismen.  Only in a few places is Wayism intertwined with the official power structure, usually at best, it runs parallel to the official government providing informal routes to negotiate around official problems.

As it is primarily passive and accepting, the Draconic Imperium has never seen any reason to impose ban or limitations on the practice of Wayism and even a few dragons have found themselves falling in harmony with the philosophy of the Way.

Wayist clerics have access to the following domains: Community, Healing, Repose and Travel.

Notes: While the name is entirely stolen from the Andromeda TV series, the philosophy of Wayism is entirely rooted in the Tao.

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

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Underworld (A to Z Challenge, U)

24 April, 2015

Underworld

Wonders are hidden beneath the groundThere are underground complexes, networks of caves, deep mines and hidden seas nestled in the hearts of the islands of the Sea of the Stars.  Some of the islands are miles thick and have immense areas to be explored and exploited.

The dwarves, of course, have dug deep but cautiously, they use proven techniques and technologies, expanding at a measured pace.  The dwarves wish no surprises and to loose no lives, if possible.  They still have a lingering fear of dragons and they wish to husband people and material in case that conflict does materialize.  But they wish to refine their skills and gather new resources and develop new materials, they take the long, institutional, view of what needs to be done to protect their people and culture.

The Sen’tek are more willing to takes risks, using exotic technologies, slaves and unusual beasts to aid in their excavations, to expand their Homewarrens.  The Sen’tek -unlike the dwarves- know that the dragons are actively seeking to destroy them and they need all of the weapons they muster to defend themselves.  The threat is so great that they consider the risks to be justified.

Humans and others explore the depths of the shattered world as well, indeed some of the Draconic Houses have vast mining concerns, but they rarely dig as far down as the dwarves and Sen’tek.

But within the underworld are lost kingdoms, fragments of hells, fae palaces and other wonderful and strange things waited to be found . . . waiting to be freed.  Mysterious cults hold occult rituals in hidden caves, wizards and alchemist build underground labs away from prying eyes and criminals and revolutions make their plans in caves, a wealth of opportunities hidden below your feet.

Notes: More places to explore and adventure to find.

Photo from colourjungle and used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic lisense.

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