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Superheroes – Once upon a Time in 1968 – Issue 7 – Pirates Ahoy!

26 April, 2021

Like this with a pirate ship for the main bodyA few months after Issue 6.

CoverCaptain Kraken with cutlass in one hand and flintlock in the other menacing our heroes.

Opening page:  The helicopter-ship of Captain Kraken shattering through the museum skylight (“Kerassssh!!!) as well dressed guests gasp in terror, a keen eyed reader may notice Roboto in a tux in the crowd.

A page detailing how did we get here?: Shadowfist finds that some in Chinatown appreciate her and her friends weakening the Black Dragon triad, other dislike outsiders getting involved in Chinatown affairs.  808 is finding that the Federal Government would like to get a look at some of the out of dimension technology (the New York police just want it off the streets) , Jack Diamond is running interference for 808 but warns him of the Federal Government’s designs (especially the DoD).  Roboto is dealing with the fallout of the Daily Herald newspaper headline “Roboto and his gang destroy Chinatown Business in misguided illegal raid” written, of course, by R Richard Robertson.   Horizon is investigating, at the request of her grandmother. a mysterious Eastern European man (whom the locals have nicknamed “the Count”) who may be responsible of several young people with the Sight, but he proves difficult to follow.  Vulpix get an invitation for her and the team to attend the opening of the Treasures of the Age of Piracy exhibit at the Museum of Historical Art, which she accepts and convinced her uncle that she needs a new costume for.

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Undertakers and the Umbra in the Sea of Stars (A to Z)

24 April, 2021

Among the tombs . . . and ghosts?While knowledge of the heavens and the hells, really the entire afterlife, has been severed from the day to day life of the people of the Sea of Stars, people still die and their bodies must by put to rest, dealt with, disposed of.  Cultural traditions remain, is some cases unchanged from before the Sundering, in many places, so burials remain common across vast swaths of the lands.  Though cremations have become more common as time has gone on.  One of the easiest solutions, from a practical standpoint, of simply tossing the bodies over the edge of an island to plunge into the inky void of space has been adopted only by a very few of the cultures of the Sea of Stars, though many starship sailors ask for such an end for their mortal remains.

The profession of the undertaker remains important, though of varying status, throughout the various lands and states, while not always burying or entombing the dead, they also oversee cremations and other forms of setting corpses to rest.  In a world with necrourgic magics, the unliving and the unbound, proper care of the dead assumes a greater importance, no one wishes to unleash a plague of unhappy spirits or hungry dead.  So, undertakers are skilled on the method of releasing spirits trapped to bodies, warding fresh corpses from beings that may possess them and for the warning signs of necrourgic reanimation.  They seek to insure that the spirit, soul, or whatever their culture calls the animating spark of life, moves on to the Umbra, which is agreed upon term for place beyond life.

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Tailors and Textiles in the Sea of Stars (A to Z)

23 April, 2021

The quest for fashion is universalFashion and clothing vary widely even radically from one culture in the Sea of Stars to the next, even before the Sundering split the world into islands, each culture tended to have it own ideas about proper and effective dress.  Afterwards, those splits became deep and more pronounced in many cases.  Fashions that once emulated that of the gods were abandoned (or at least hidden away) and new styles evolved, a few attempted to flatter the dragons by imitating their form in cloth, leather and metal, but most dragons just found the effect ridiculous so such fashions have been mostly abandoned except for masquerades.

Equally, the materials available to make into clothing especially textiles changed in availability and, often, in composition and quality.  Some materials were entirely wiped out in the aftermath of the Sundering, such as the silkworms of Giesa, were all killed in a frost that lasted a month.  However, new ones emerged such as the giant cotton plants of the Yile Valley which produce so much cotton that the valley has been the site of no less than three wars between Draconic House for control over it.

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Sailors and Ships in the Sea of Stars (A to Z)

22 April, 2021

A fisherman in good timesWhen the Sundering happened, it hit sailors and the ships at sea particularly hard, some of the seas just poured away into the void, taking all of those upon them with it, others were wracked with storms and waves, as few as one in six of those ships unlucky enough to have been out when the Sundering happened ever made it back to port.  This was a terrible loss of skilled sailors and knowledge, not to mention ships and cargoes, several merchant houses were wiped out by these losses even before the other changes of the Sundering disrupted their business.  Many coastal fishing village lost the major portion of their adult fishermen in a single day, a handful were almost depopulated of adults, leaving only children and the elderly waiting for the fishing boats that would never return.

As if such devastation was not enough, the fracturing of the world disrupted -when they did not eliminate- maritime trades routes, fishing patterns and more.  It was some years after the Sundering before wood (such as Karrias wood) and other materials were discovered that would allow for the construction of starships which could travel the space between the islands as though it were water. The Empress poured no small amount of money in the search for materials to build starships with, freely sharing the knowledge, as she recognize that wealth is generated by trade and the Sundering had all but killed trade on anything other than the most local of scales.  The ability to travel between the island by starship caused a huge boom in trade and travel, leading to the construction of new ports, the revitalization of old ones and shipyards springing up to build the new starships.

Unfortunately, the availability of sailors was at an all time low as the starship boom began, leading to a huge influx of new people into careers about ship, old traditions -often half remembered- were reestablished, schools and academies were opened, but most of the training was actually aboard the new starships.  As one can imagine, it was an exciting and harrowing time for the new crop of sailors and lead to new traditions.

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Raiders and Robbers in the Sea of Stars (A to Z)

21 April, 2021

Raid for plunder, profit and  . . . patriotism?There is an illusionary calm to the Sea of Stars, an impression that a Pax Dracona has ended war and conflict, nothing could be further from the truth.   While under dragonrule, open war between states has become vanishingly rare, as such invites war between the Draconic houses, so armed conflict is waged by other means: raid, skirmish, reconnaissance in force, chevauchée, backing of rebel factions, hiring bandits and pirates, and other such tactics.  Life can be very dangerous in the borderlands between two ambitious realms even if war is never declared, in fact, it may be worse than war if such raiding is left unchecked.

Those who raid often do so under some vague authority or authorization from the powers that be, though the legality of such things is questionable at best without a formal declaration of war.  Privateers operating under a Letter of Marque, soldier on an extended “scouting missions”, such actions tend to dissolve into raids, counter-raids and reprisals.  It is a messy business when soldiers act as raiders and looters, they can quickly become barely distinguishable from bandits and brigands without a strong commander who can maintain discipline.

Bandits, robbers and pirates are there to get money and goods, rarely they have some other purpose as well, but in general, they are are very focused on the money.  They usually operate in small groups or bands, it requires an exceptional leader to gather together multiple bands into a large group (or, for pirates, ships into a flotilla) as the bands tend to be very idiosyncratic in their organization and, especially, in their leadership.

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Tuesday Magic Item – Quizzing Glass of Quizzicalness (A to Z)

20 April, 2021

Watching you, quizzing youVoddick finished cleaning his cosh.  “For ruffians they were not willing to put up much of a fight.”

“I suspect they were hired to put a scare into us and were not expecting us to fight back,” said Gollan.

“Our charge was more competent than I expected with that cane they carry,” said Voddick.

“Yes, between the three of us, we gave them a solid beating.”

“Indeed,” said Voddick, “but we must be more careful from now on.  The next group will be more serious, and more dangerous, when it comes to turning our client from their path.”

Quizzing Glass of Quizzicalness

These are quizzing glasses, a lens on a handle, some are magnifying lenses, other corrective, and the handles range from simple to extravagant.  They are often worn on a chain or ribbon around the neck.  While useful for investigation they also have their place as social tools.

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Poets and Performers in the Sea of Stars (A to Z)

19 April, 2021

Poets come in all shapes and sizesPoetry is a popular pastime in the Sea of Stars no matter where one travels.  The varieties of poetry are almost limitless with many of the elven traditions extending back millennia, tough the main draconic traditions claim such antiquity they were only properly formalized after the Sundering, many cultures have poetical traditions of great lineage and many new ones have sprung up with the blending and bending of cultures under dragonrule.

The Dragon Empress herself is an accomplished poetess, and this is not just flattery, her epic piece on the final battle against the Giantish armies is taught to students of the Draconic language across the Empires and is a favorite piece to recite.  It remains a moving tribute to a mighty foe even across the years.  Many of her other poems have been collected as well but it is known that there are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of poems that she has given as gifts that are only known to her and the recipient, each year a few of these come to light and are added to the official canon.  It is rumored,

Many courts, royal and noble, and even some Republics and citizen assemblies, maintain their own poets (Court, Royal, Official, or other such titles proliferate).  Competition for such spots is fierce, bribery, seduction and other dirty tricks are . . . not unknown when such a job is in play.  Even roles as assistants or apprentices to these official poets is sought after and occasionally demanded as a price for supporting someone for the post.

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PinkCat: Running in the Shade “Underwater” (A different sort of SR campaign report)

18 April, 2021

To understand what is going on here, you had best read the first PinkCat: Running in the Shade post, but short summary, this is a campaign report for our Shadowrun campaign set in NorCal through the filter of a cartoon made by one of the team members.

Friendly dolphinEpisode Forty Eight: Underwater

Guest Starring: Clawz, DoubleUp, Gimmick and Tora.

A friend of Pink’s notices a dolphin trapped in a local waterway, so Pink and the crew decide to mount a rescue before it gets hurt.  Much hilarity ensures as there is an unscrupulous water park owner also trying to snag the dolphin for their own use.  Increasingly absurd devices to lift the dolphin free, a chase to rescue the captured dolphin and finally setting it free into the ocean.

What really happened:

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Oneiromancy and Oneiromagi in the Sea of Stars (A to Z)

17 April, 2021

The power and influence of the realm of dreams in the Sea of Stars waxes and wanes, like all of the Other Realms is partly warded away by the magic of the Empress, but it is such a nebulous realm that it can often slip through the cracks of reality.

Seeing beyondOneiromancy is the practical of divination and prophecy through the study and analysis of dreams.  As it was for all other methods of divination and prophecy, it failed to predict the draconic assault on the gods.  There are rumors and fragmentary reports that the night before the dragons launched their attack, that the dream-seers were overwhelmed with dream images of dragons, destruction and blood but by the time there were awake and able to vocalize what they saw, the Gods War was already engaged.  What warning they were able to sent likely just added to the confusion and it is widely believed (among the oneriromancer community) that it was a deliberate ploy by the Empress to further unbalance her enemies.

Oneiromagi are wizards who specialize in the magic of dreams while some also are oneiromancers, others just weave dreams into reality and shape other peoples’ dreams.  Dream and illusion magic is closely intertwined as both mix magic with reality and play with perceptions and how to to shape them.  Their schools and traditions were heavily disrupted for a generation after the Sundering both from the general disruption of the realms and from the early period of the Empress’ wards.  But dreams are always with us, so the traditions survived and new schools emerged from the survivors of the old.

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Navallia Nordenfeldt, Mason, Engineer, Venturer (A to Z)

16 April, 2021

Oh, this will never doMany people desire to build things, others desire to take those things away, so yet others build walls to keep them safe.

Navallia Nordenfeldt, Mason, Engineer, Venturer

Quote: They have let the town outside the wall encroach too close, if there is a potential siege they will have to tear down rows of houses.  A proper plan to begin with could have prevented that.

The Lavorda have an odd love of six-sided towers, making them round would be even better but at least they are not square.

It is most likely our enemy will rely upon mass assault and ladders but we cannot neglect the possibility that they will have some sort of siege engines available.

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