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Whispering Bees (A to Z, W)

27 April, 2022

The air was filled with bees moving to and fro, visiting flowers and performing their tasks.  But listening closely, there was more than a buzz in the air, there were words formed by the harmony of the bees’ wings.  “The weather will change soon, we must hurry,” was all he could make out before he was dragged away by his companion.  “Best not to listen in on the language of the bees, sometimes, they wish to keep their secrets.”

Buzz buzzThe whispering bees seem to spontaneously manifest among certain hives for reasons as yet unknown, though once awakened, only exterminating the entire hive will stop the whispering.  Once a hive has awakened into whispering bees, the new bees are slightly larger but much more capably, stronger, faster, and more efficient in their tasks.  For whatever reason, a whispering hive communicates, whisper-wise, in whatever is the dominant local language which they also understand,

Listening to the whispers of the bees reveals much about their tasks and what problems are interfering with such.  This whispered communication allows the hive to react rapidly to changing circumstances and threats.

One hive is relatively intelligent but when there are multiple hives of whispering bees in an area, they integrate into a network, with three or more hives being as small as an average person.  Adding more hives does not really make them smarter but does give them more information to work with.  Additionally, the more hives, the more esoteric the discussions become.  On occasion, they are sought out by philosophers and others seeking information.

People can come to agreements with whispering bees and there are various specialists who work with the whispering bees and retrieve their honey and wax in exchange for what the bees need which is often very mundane but rarely very esoteric indeed.

Notes: I thought I needed some more insects for this project.  And, I suspect, partly inspired by Gavotte, an intelligent swarm of bees from the delightful webcomic Skin Horse.

ImagePhoto by Jon Sullivan on Pixnio used under Creative Commons 0 license.

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Tuesday Magic Item – Bone Flute of Spirit Stilling

26 April, 2022

Music to sooth the spiritsGollaon listened to the distent music of a flute.  “Rather haunting, no?” he said to Voddick.

“Yes, though I think it is being used to reveal a haunting,” Voddick replied quietly.

“Ghost hunters?” Gollaon asked looking to Voddick.

“Yes, did you not see them arrive?”

“I must have been otherwise occupied.”

Bone Flute of Spirit Stilling

These flutes are made from carved bone, the bone often comes from a person, and they are enchanted, often blessed as well, to play notes that reach beyond this word into the next.  The music of the flute affects those beings who are in the liminal state between life and death, calming and soothing them. Read the rest of this entry »

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Vapor Mouse (A to Z, V)

26 April, 2022

Their feet were wrapped in rags to muffle their footsteps but for all that they moved with exaggerated care to avoid making even the slightest sound.  Their prey had not noticed them, they each readied a small weighted dart in their primary hand, and three more in their off-hand.  They looked to one another nodded and began throwing darts as quickly as they could.  The first struck and the second and third were already in flight.  The first targets died but not soundlessly, only two more mice were impaled before the rest turned to mist and melted away.  “Could have been better,” said the first hunter as he was retriving his darts and dropping the bodies into a bag.  “Or worse, four is not bad.  And we still have the far end to check.”

They can eat a lotThe vapor mice are a plague wherever their appear and many techniques have been developed to try and eliminate them but they remain a potential threat.  They are just mice, you might say, what harm could they do, but they are mot just mice, they are mice that can turn to vapor and then reform.  Only airtight seals can keep them out and they eat voraciously, thankfully, they only reproduce as quickly as other mice, which is quite quickly enough.

While the origin of the vapor mice is unknown, they do not seem to predate the Sundering, their first recorded appearance is almost three centuries after that event when they overran the graineries of Watt and nearly caused a famine in that region.

Beyond giving them the ability to get in almost anywhere, their ability to turn to vapor is an excellent defense and it is their initial reaction when startled is to turn into vapor.  This protect them from most predators, though cats and owls occasionally get the jump on them, and from most mechanical traps.  Poison is the most effective way to kill them but must be applied subtly or the mice will avoid it.  Magic is another option but still requires catching the mice unaware.

The vapor mouse coloration is usually a cloudy brown or grey.

Notes: Pests deserve their place too, these mice are a much greater threat than the jumping snails, capable of wiping out food stores before they are noticed.

Image field mouse by Jean Beaufort found on PublicDomainPictures.net and is in the Public Domain.

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Undertaker Elephant (A to Z, U)

25 April, 2022

The procession was slow but dignified, the mighty pachyderms led the way, fragrent held aloft torches in their trunks.  Followed by a single ancient elephant pulling the hearst behind which trailed the mourners.  Arriving at the mausoleum, the elephants gently unloaded the coffin and retreated back, adding their mournful trumpting to the sad music being played.

Dressed for successThe undertaker elephants live in and around the mortuary city of Neth-Akr, once a stronghold of the twin gods of burials and embalming, but whose priesthood was exterminated quite throughly after the Sundering.  The elephants used in the ritual and funeral prosessions took over as many of the tasks that they could from the now vanished priesthood, the craftspeople of the town stepped up to take over the other tasks, together, they brough the city of the dead, back to life.  Their new draconic ruler did not mind as long as there was not even a whiff of religion, anything that brought money to the city, and by definition, then to the dragon’s coffers, was welcome.

The undertaker elephants are quite as intelligent as humans though their ability to communicate with non-elephants is rather limited, though they have a caste that excells in writing with large brushes.  They uses their trunks, tusks and massive strength to build, carry, dig and otherwise provide all of the major physical labor for Neth-Akr.  Some help with farming and logging in the hills and fields around Neth-Akr, others with quarrying and mining, without the elephants, Neth-Akr would be a much poorer place.  The undertaker elephants have evolved a society with distinct castes by profession, with the urban castes especially those who assist with funerals generally having higher status in Neth-Akr society.

The undertaker elephants average about nine feet (2.75m) at the shoulder for those that live in the city, and nine and a half feet (2.9m) for those outside with the female elephants being slightly smaller.  Their tusks are strong and often have tools attached.  While they allow the tusks of their dead to be carved into ivory items, they are very choose about who does so and to whom the final product is given to.  Such carved ivory is almost never sold and a gift of such is a sign of high regard.

The urban elephants are a darker slate-grey, while those who work outside of Neth-Akr, tend to a milder grey, both have green to blue eyes.

Notes: Needed to have some more large animals to go with the terrapins and snakes and elephants are pretty awesome creatures in any case, they deserve to be showcased more in games.

Image elephant by Ian L found on PublicDomainPictures.net and is in the Public Domain.

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Titanic Terrapin (A to Z, T)

23 April, 2022

There was a thudding and the ground trembled as the massive terrapin plodded forward, entire huts fixed to the shells.  They were directed along the path by younger villagers riding on the necks of the vast creatures.  Neither villagers or terrapins seemed concerned by my presence,

Large but slowThese turtles originate in the Marsh of the Thankfully Departed, which was know for large turtles even before the Sundering, several centuries afterwards, the titanic terrapin began emerging.  The local villagers quickly saw the advantage of a mobile lifestyle even at the slow pace of the terrapins and developed a symbotic relationship with the massive creatures.

While the terrapin are slow, they are also very tough and quite strong, and very few of the predators in the marsh are willing to confront them.  The terrapin villagers travel through the marsh on turtle back, their small huts secured with shaped wood and vines to the shell.  The terrapin villagers survive by harvesting plants and gathering fish from traps, making things from the wood of the trees and weaving items from reads and vines, some of these things they trade for items that cannot make.  The few creatures that are a threat to the titanic terrapins, the terrapin villagers will gather to drive off or kill, ironically, such creatures are usually much smaller than the titanic terrapins.

The titanic terrapins can haul a great deal of weight, though not at high speeds, and the terrapin villagers are extremely protective of them and have worked our ways to help their sizable mounts and maintain a pleasant lifestyle.  They have made cunning fireboxes that rest above the shell of the titanic terrapin warming both hut and turtle while not risking scorching the creature’s shell.

It is rumored that deep into the marsh there are even more titanic terrapins, ones capable of holding multiple huts or even a small village on their shells.  The terrapin villagers do not deny such rumors but no one else has actually seen a terrapin that titanic.

Notes:The idea of creatures with habitations on their backs is just so fun that I could not resist including one among the unusual animals.

Image of the Burmese eyed turtle, c 1878, found on WikiMedia Commons and is in the Public Domain,

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Sunblessed Spaniel (A to Z, S)

22 April, 2022

The dog was beautiful, its pelt shimmering in the sunlight, it seemed alert and ready to act if needed.  There was just something about it that seemed noble and somehow sparkling.

Blessed by the SunSunblessed spaniels are descendants of the dogs that the Sun is allowed to keep as pets, he has been allowed to give the dogs as gifts to his favorites.  They usually breed true but the Church of the Sun does its best to keep the ownership of sunblessed spaniels until within its membership and most loyal supporters.

Their coats range from a pure white to a golden brown and their eyes are gold to amber.  They are usually about two feet at the withers (61 cm) and weigh in at about fifty-five to sixty-five pounds (25–29 kg).

The sunblessed spaniel’s divine gifts enhance the natural dogness of the spaniel, they are more loyal, more brave and more alert than the average dog.  They are quite intelliegent and easy to train and work very closely with the guards of many Sun Temples, some have even been taken to war but they do not seem to care for that task much.  Their bite seems especially damaging to the unliving and their blessed nature shields them from necrourgic energies to a limited extent making them highly prized as helpers by those tasked with hunting spirits and the unquiet dead who the sunblessed spaniels hate as much as their patron.

Many dragons, possibly correctly, consider them spies and agents of the Sun and will not allow sunblessed spaniels in their courts or homes.

Notes: Having done a cat, needed to have a dog as well.

Image edited from An 1859 drawing of a Water Spaniel, found on Wikimedia Commons and is in the Public Domain.

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Romance Raven (A to Z, R)

21 April, 2022

One does not think of ravens as romanic birds but they seemed to be overseeing all sorts of meeting across the town.  They watched, their caws were encouraging and soft, for a crow, and seemed to sooth those courting.  It was a strange sight to be sure.

We are just friendsThe romance ravens first appeared in the city of Lutekia shortly after the Sundering, Lutekia had been one of the major centers of several gods of love and courtship before the Gods War and it is thought that the emergence of the romance ravens is tied to those gods in someway that remains obscured by the confusion of that period of time.

An adult romance raven ranged from twenty-one to twenty-six inches (54-67 cm) in length with wingspans from forty-five to fifty-one inches (115-150cm) and they can weight up to four and a half pounds (2 kg).  Their feathers have a rose-red tone under the black rather than the usual blue-black and their eyes flash gold when they catch the light.  While they do still eat carrion they seem embarassed by the fact and will not do so when they know a person is watching.

The presence and voice of the romance ravens tends to turn the thoughts of people nearby to courtship and romance, which definitely seems to be supernatural in effect, but it is a minor and subtle effect, nudging not pushing emotions.

The romance ravens themselves mate for life and they can live for some time.

Notes: I love ravens and these ravens help you feel the love.

Image this photo shows a pair of birds as friends, perching on top of roof by Wing-Chi Poon and found on Wikimedia Commons, edited and used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.5) license.

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Quizzical Owls of Yarrow (A to Z, Q)

20 April, 2022

From the tops of tree, from the fences, from the roofs, the parliment of owls watched and judged those who when by at night.  They not only asked “Who?” but “Where are you going?” “Why are you out at night?” and other such questions and they persisted until answered.

Who?  What?  Where?The quizzical owls started showing up in the university town af Yarrow several hundred years after the Sundering, at first they were treated with respect and a little bit of awe, now they are just part of the town.  Some find them charming, others annoying, but they encourage debate and keep down the rodent population.

The level of intelligence of the quizzical owls is much debated, they have an impressive vocabulary and are able to construct a complete and continuing chain of questions.  It seems that the owls can only communicate with non-owls via questions, they seem to communicate among themselves using hoots and twills.

The owls taken away from their fellows of the parliament of Yarrow, the quizzical owl becomes despondent and eventually stops asking questions and pines away.

The quizzical owls are very large and, like many types of owls, the females are larger than the males.  The mightiest of the females who rule the parliament can be twenty-eight inches (71cm) long with a seventy-five inch (190cm) wing span and can weigh up to nine pounds (4.2 kg).

Notes: Q is always tricky but I like these owls.

Image photo Owls from Jean Beaufort found on PublicDomainPictures.net and is in the Public Domain.

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Tuesday Magic Item – Peacock’s Eye Jewelry

19 April, 2022

Watching youGollaon surveyed the assembled nobles.  “They seem to taking the threat of assassination very seriously,” he noted.

“With three of there number slain in the last month, I should not wonder,” said Voddick.  “But you are referring to their choice of jewelry are you not?”

“Perceptive as always my friend,” nodded Gollaon.  “I wonder if they are pieces they had in storage or if some clever merchant was prepared to cash in on their fear?”

Peacock’s Eye Jewelry

These useful items are always in the shape of a peacock eye, often incorporating the feathers directly into the design.  They can be any sort of jewelry, bracelet, collar, earring, necklace, and all have the same effect, helping to protect the wearer by enhancing their perception of threats. Read the rest of this entry »

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Prognosticating Peacocks of Aiishin (A to Z, P)

19 April, 2022

Everywhere their were petitioners pleading, offering gifts and bribes, even begging just to ask a question of a bird who was said to be able to divine the future.  It seemed unlikely but then, we had seen stranger and more outlandish things that were true.

Is the future colorful?The birds are very carefully giuarded and protected by the Order of Peacock Sages in the city of Aiishin where they live in the extensive gardens of the citadel of the city (the peacocks that is, the sages live in the citadel).

The peacocks are used in ornithomancy, the divination of the future by the actions of birds, petitions ask the sages their question and they devise the proper way to present them to the peacocks so that an answer my be devined from their actions.

They are best with simple, yes or no, questions such as: “Will I be safe on this trip?” “Will we be happy if we marry?” “Is it a good idea to invest with my brother in law?”  For such direct questions, the peacock are right about nine times in ten.  The more complex the question, the less accurate the peacocks tend to be.

The Order of Peacock Sages guards the peacocks, penhens and eggs with great diligence and stealing any of them is punishable by death in the city of Aiishin.  The feathers of the peacock’s tail and the eggshells are often used in the creation of magic items tied to divination and precognition (such as this).

Notes: It was originaly prognosticating swans, but I decided I liked the alliteration of prognosticating peacocks better.

Image photo Peacock In Grass by Sheila Brown found on PublicDomainPictures.net and is in the Public Domain.

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