Tuesday Magic Item – Negation Seal (A to Z, N)

16 April, 2019

Gollaon sauntered around the corner, turned on his heel and came back.  “We have to go,” he said to Voddick.”

“Why?” asked Voddick.

“Imperial Auditor,” Gollaon shot back.

“Oh?  Oh!” said Voddick and hurried to catch up.  “That cannot be good.”

“Indeed not.  I think we should not stick around to see the inevitable conclusion.”

“We can steal horses.”

Negation Seal

These seals bear the mark of their issuing power, by that empress, queen or high priestess, decorated in enamels or colored precious metal and are made from hard metal, often platinum, with the seal itself usually an equally hard stone.  The bearer must take an oath to serve and uphold the law of the issuing power and the seal only work as long as they maintain that oath.

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Marriage and Matrimony in the Sea of Stars (A to Z, M)

15 April, 2019

Continuing to discuss the ways that families exist and are created in the Sea of Stars, you can refer also to Draconic Bloodines and Bastards and Kinships.

The dragons rarely bother with such firm commitments among themselves, their relationships with other dragons tend to be passionate and brief, or contractual and brief.  Rarely will long term commitments emerge between dragons and even those tend to hinge on only being intensely together for a short time and then spending considerable time apart.  Generally, dragons are private beings who prefer only to deal with subordinates on a regular basis, the clash of wills involved when dealing with a peer is draining . . . and dangerous.

Now, the lower ranks of the Draconic Houses, the dracona, dracovi and dani, are expected to marry usually for reasons of dynastic ties and political alliances.  The negotiations involved in such are usually quite complex and involve contracts and exchanges of promises and goods, who ends up married into which house and under what conditions is precisely defined (often on magical contracts).  Sometimes these alliances last only for years, in other cases they are lifetime commitments.

Dynastic unions and political marriages are the usual lot among the noble families in the Sea of Stars, rarely these matches are or become love matches, but children are expected to marry where they are told to by their family.  Sometime these marriages are outside the usual man and woman, triads are rare but not unknown as are same sex pairings.  Even more unusual constellations exist but are rare.

Marriages are a civil and societal commitment, legally witnessed, some cultures invoke the blessing and sanctions of the Sun (even if the rituals used where originally for a different god altogether).  But primarily it is social pressure and cultural sanction that maintains a marriage.

People still seek love and companionship, though not all are fortunate enough to find it in marriage.

Notes: Image King Dushyanta proposing marriage with a ring to Shakuntala. Chromolithograph by Ravi Varma. Wellcome Collection. CC BY.


Languages and Linguistics in the Sea of Stars (A to Z, L)

13 April, 2019

Words in progress?Prior to the fall of the gods there was no universal or common language, not ever a true lingua franca, since the rise of Dragon rule and the Imperium the language known as Low Draconic has spread widely, as it is used for all official matters within the Imperium.  (High Draconic can only be properly spoken by dragons and other such creatures.)  An educated person should know at least the basics of Low Draconic and it has come to form the basis of what is known as the Imperial Tongue, a mixture of simplified Low Draconic with loan words from, well, just about everywhere.

The dwarven language is widespread, even beyond the dwarves, who have different dialects (occasionally radically different from each other) for each clanhold though the written language is nearly the same whatever.  So one can be said to be fluent in spoken Ruby Dwarven and should be able to make themselves understood to a Emerald Dwarf but with much greater difficulty to the distant Jadite Dwarves but using writing they should be understood by either.

The elven language is musical and complex, the tendency toward cultural conservatism and the fact that the long lived elves often travel to visit their more distant cousins have combined to keep linguistic drift to a minimum even between widely dispersed elfin communities.  That is not to say that there are not the occasional miscommunication especially with the elven groups that are more enmeshed with the quickly changing human cultures.

The giants had their own languages, with dialects for the various giantish cultures, but it is barely kept alive in a primitive state by the small number of surviving giants on the fringes of the Sea of Stars.  A few scholar still study it as well trying to puzzle out the secrets of the lost giantish civilization but they know it almost exclusively as a written language.

Many nations, such as the Eosiante, maintain their own language, though words leak in from the Imperial Tongue (and words migrate from it to the Imperial Tongue as well).  Scholars of rare and lost languages are always in demand among those seeking forgotten treasures and knowledge: tombs and temples, wizard’s towers and libraries, are all sought.for power and plunder.

Languages, speaking, reading, understanding them, is a valuable talent in the Sea of Stars.  So, do not neglect your studies.

Notes: Image “Antipodes — English” by wanderingYew2 (thanks for 3M+ views!) is licensed under CC by 2.0.





Kinship in the Sea of Stars (A to Z, K)

12 April, 2019

The Gods War and the Sundering were hugely disruptive to societies across the Sea of Stars, religious certainties crumbled, the world shattered and everything was in flux.  Weather patterns changed, seas poured away, everything changed and peoples moved, often in great numbers, in search of safety and certainty.  These waves of refugees and migrants washed up near and far changing the composition of many a land and it was decades before the turmoil settled down, partly imposed from the top down as the dragons took charge of their new dominions and partly due to the changes slowing and the new world stabilizing.

With so much turmoil social systems had to adapt or break apart.  Traditions that relied upon religious sanction were particularly hard hit, no small number simply transferred their allegiance to the Sun, the only visible surviving god, and tried to rebuild.  Others turned to the newly triumphant dragons for guidance, adopting Dominae or other draconic beliefs in their attempt to find a new way forward.  A few turned from faith entirely seeking solace in philosophy.

Marriage!With the disruption to families, new ways to organize them were often found: adoptions, fostering and various constellations of marriages were tried and, in some cases, became the new traditions.  The Anjovians from the ice fields on the far spinward part of the Sea of Stars practice marriages exclusively between two couples.  No small number of cultures are matrilineal, tracing decent through the female line.  Contract and limited time marriages are popular in some cultures.  Same sex relationships, and even marriages, are not uncommon in some cultures as there are ways to provide for reproduction and continuation of the family line.

Adoptions and fostering remain common, sharing skills and building ties between families and regions.  Many towns and villages have yearly exchanges to maintain ties running back to the aftermath of the Sundering where one place sent aid to another and that kindness is remembered and built on through the years. The Sheth, a group of grey-skinned humans, adopt children (especially orphans) and feed them a special diet to turn their skin grey to continue their distinctive culture and appearance.  Adoptions are one of the ways that the Draconic Houses increase their numbers, seeking out and recruiting skilled and talented people, sometime even ascending them to the lower levels of the draconic bloodlines.

Kinship is both complex and flexible in the Sea of Stars.

Notes: Image from the Wellcome Collection used under 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.


Insects in the Sea of Stars (A to Z, I)

11 April, 2019

Insects of several typesInsects are everywhere in the Sea of Stars, just as they are here, but in even greater variety.  Due to the presence of magical flows, some insect are able to overcome the square law rule and grow to enormous size.  Occasional insect-animal hybrids (such as MothLions and sting squirrels) exist and are more common in some regions than others.  (So, insects, giant, unusual and hybrid, are all viable forms of threat.)

While magic can be used to eliminate large numbers of insects at once, there are always more, but in general the farms and large cities of the Sea of Stars are no more troubled by insects than such are in our modern world.  Though occasionally a new, invasive species with upset the balance in a city or island with catastrophic effects before a balance is reestablished.  There are a small number of wizards who specialize in large scale extermination of vermin, not just insects, and they rarely lack for work somewhere.

Of course, very few know that the insects of the Sea of Stars are occasionally influenced by the mysterious Pattern which acts through them to achieve its inscrutable goals.

Notes: Sorry this is late, yesterday was just a terrible day for productivity.

Image Five insects of the Orthoptera order, including a grasshopper, locust and mantid. Coloured engraving by J. O. W from the Wellcome Collection. CC BY.


Tuesday Magic Item – Heart Crystal Armor (A to Z, H)

9 April, 2019

CrystalVoddick watched the squad of dwarven warriors troop by, the sunlight glinting on the crystal encasing their bodies.  He gave them a salute as they vanished around the corner.

“It is rare to see so many who have taken the crystal at once,” commented Gollaon.  “I hope it is not a warning of danger to come.”

“Given the symbolism of their arms, I suspect they are part of the sovereign guard of the Ruby hierarchy,” said Voddick.  “Possibly a high level trade meeting.”

“If that is the case, we should see about getting ourselves a cut of the action.”

“Indeed,” said Voddick as they set out to follow the dwarves.

Heart Crystal Armor

This magic armor is rare due to the physical and psychological cost of wearing it, as unlike normal armor, the heart crystal armor is magically and spiritually bonded to the wearer.  It is made up of plates of living crystal that are embedded inside the wearer’s body along the long muscles.  Drawing upon the magic of the character’s blood the crystals to grow until the crystals covers the wearer’s skin, solid plates over muscle and geometric scales over the joints.

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