Posts Tagged ‘Organization’

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Masques and Mazes (A to Z)

16 April, 2020

Dragon love wealth, partly for what it is (see Gems again) but also for the power it symbolizes.  They love ostentatious displays of wealth which can be done in a variety of ways.

Dressed for successMassive and expensive parties, especially Masques, are a favourite of dragons.  The Masque is an interesting sort of party, part costume ball, part staged musical entertainment and part gift giving ceremony.   People are expected to come in costume, often the more outlandish the better as long as they are on theme.  The Masque involves organized singing and dancing, and sometimes acting and debate, usually by professional players (in the theatrical, rather than gaming sense), around a elaborate stage designed to present a deferential allegory ultimately flattering to the host of the event.  The rest of the masquers, usually in support roles, are guests and courtiers.  Sometime the rulers, or their family, will become actively involved in the performance, usually in the dance side of things.  After the performance, gifts ties to the theme are presented, in an equally staged way to the host and patron of the event.  Naturally, there is an attempt for each dragon’s Masque to upstage the one before, sometimes, for very special events, they last for multiple days.  The longest Masque held, and for obvious reasons no one else has tried to equal or exceed, was a thirteen day extravaganza themed around some of the major astrological signs to celebrate the Empress’ birthday on the thousandth anniversary of the Draconic Conquest.

Another way for dragons to show off their wealth is maze building, this became a craze in the fourth century after the Draconic Conquest for reasons unknown.  It has waxed and waned in popularity but has never quite died out.  The dragons enjoy the mazes because they can just fly over them and they love to watch the lesser being try to make their way through the twisting passageways.

Notes: Somehow I got out of sequence and did K twice!  So working on catching up.  Again just some cultural bits to spark ideas and adventures.

Photo allegorical female figure striking a pose in masque costume, with a stork or crane. Woodcut by T. Stimmer, 1580. from the Wellcome Collection, license Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).

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Kingdoms and Knights (A to Z)

15 April, 2020

To be a QueenFor the most part, when the dragons seized power after the fall of the Gods, they simply inserted themselves at the top of whatever hierarchical system that existed in the lands they now owned.  For most system of rule, this worked well, for the few theocracies and republics, adjustments had to be made.  However, in the majority of states, the system of rule remained intact, it just all ultimately served a dragon.

Dragon liked kingdoms, they find them easy to understand and easy to negotiate with.  The dragon talks with the queen or king, who then get done what their draconic overlord wishes.  Easy for everyone, yes?  Well, no.  Dragons are not usually good on understanding the minutia of human interaction and have trouble understanding why things cannot be done as they wish and soon as they wish.  So being a queen or king under a dragon overlord is . . . stressful at best.

Equally, dragons understand knights, warriors sworn into service in exchange for lands and status.  Many dragons recruit their own knights, sworn into personal service in exchange for wealth and status, but the dragons expect absolute and unquestioning loyalty.  Many other knightly orders exist as well, serving kings and nobles, orders and faiths.

Notes: Another discussion of government types here.  Again, just general background and potential ways for characters to get into trouble.

Photo Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I at Wanstead Palace. Wellcome Collection license CC BY.

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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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Tuesday Magic Item – Monster Mask

31 October, 2017

Change your face“I do not like festivals with masks,” grumbled Voddick.

“They are just having fun, trying on a different face,” said Gollaon taking another swig from his bottle.

“I expect people to wear the same face.  There is a reason why two faced is an insult.”

“Well, surely for just one night it is alright.”

“Maybe.”

Monster Mask

These masks can be simple, just painted wood or decorated cloth, but the more powerful they are, the more elaborate they are.  Some are decorated with foil of precious metals and some, the most magical, are set with semi-precious gems.

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Knights and Knightly Orders in the Sea of Stars (A to Z Challenge, K)

13 April, 2016

Not looking good for the knightWhen the dragons carved up the world in the aftermath of the Gods War and the Sundering, most came to the realization that actually governing was dull and unpleasant, so they restored or established new power structures and placed themselves at the very top.  So far on top that they only needed to deal with major, as in populace destroying level, of problems.

One of the tools available to them were the military aristocracy, the knights, who the dragon could easily understand at least.  Most dragons were happy to take on the patronage of Knightly orders in their realm and several dragons (such as Ba’ai’i) even created new orders from the ground up to their specifications.  New knightly Orders have continued to be founded, about half of which are directly or indirectly sponsored by a draconic ruler, with those with a draconic patron more likely to be focused solely on martial achievement and military glory.

Knightly orders in the Sea of Stars are likely to work closely with magic wielders: the Eosiante Knights of the Sun are a quasi-religious order that stands with the Church of the Sun, though they are always careful to bow to the state and their distant dragon overlord.  The Laccini Order of Gold works closely with the necrourgists of that Kingdom often fighting side by side with unliving troops and wielding vicious magic weapons.

Noble and trueA handful of the old knightly orders, shattered by dragonrule, have become secret societies plotting to take back what was theirs.  Most of these have degenerated into simple criminal conspiracies by this point but they still lay claim to (a very tattered) noble heritage but a very few remain true to their original ideas, acting as knights errant in a world with a surfeit of dragons.

Notes: Knights just need to exist in a high fantasy game, of course samurai, martial artists and all sorts of other wandering heroes exist in the Sea of Stars too.

Cloth image by Daria and knight photo by narzissysiphus, both used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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Imperial Agents (A to Z Challenge I)

11 April, 2016

Usually spies, rarely assassinsThe Empress runs the Imperium with a minimum of staff and bureaucracy, she values efficiency over mass and quality over quantity, the fact that she can demand the service of any of the Draconic Houses and their assets as needed provided for the rare occasion when quantity* is needed.

But the Empress is always seeking talented and dedicated individuals to act as her eyes, ears and -rarely- talons across the Sea of Stars.  Her existing agents seek those who might also serve, setting them tasks and challenges to winnow out the less skilled and devoted.  Those that do well, from luck, skill or sheer bravado, are recruited into Imperial service.

But to become a full Imperial Agent, with all that entails, the Empress herself will set the prospective agent a task, invariable one with lethal consequences for failure.  Visse have infiltrated the Sen’tek, branches of the Moon Cult have be exposed, sorcerous conspiracies undone, and many potential agents have died failing in similar missions.  But those that succeed are granted access to specialized training and equipment almost unknown outside of the Imperial circle.

The most successful agents may even, eventually, retire from active and be ascended into the ranks of the dragonkine where they may train and advise the next generation of agents.

Notes:Yes, you could build a campaign around Double O agents of the Dragon Queen fighting dangerous elements with high magic gadgets.  Their numbers are very few and they are only used when required.  Their mere existence increases the worry and need for security among those that would seek to pull down the Empire.

*”Quantity has a quality all its own.” -possibly Stalin.

Image from The British Library where it has No known copyright restrictions.

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Hunters of Dragons (A to Z Challenge, H)

9 April, 2015

Hunters of Dragons

While the dragons may rule the Sea of Stars they do not lack for enemies.  Though the majority of dragon hunting cults and organizations that existed prior to the Sundering were . . . snuffed out in the aftermath of the fall of the gods, a handful of the actual hunters survived and passed on their knowledge in secret.  While out on the Edge of the World, the surviving giants refined their tools and tactics for the inevitable confrontation with dragons.  In their councils and workshops, the dwarves studied their potential foes and prepared weapons.

A shadowy network of these hunters now stretches across the Sea of Stars, with additional techniques pioneered by the Sen’tek and their failed bid for power.  While individual dragons and Draconic Houses make efforts to stamp them out in the territories they rule, the Empress and the Imperium is officially unconcerned as long as they avoid attacking Imperial agents, which bring terrible reprisals.

Books and pamphlets of tactics, theories and potential weapons circulate through underground Hunter Clubs and ancient books of lore penned by the extinct dragon hunter cults are avidly sought.  Scholars and amateurs alike study the weakness of dragons and seek their true names to allow others to construct weapons that will be most efficacious against particular dragons.  Unfortunately for the hunters, dragons are so varied in powers and abilities, there are very few universally applicable tactics or weapons that can be used against them.

While brute force and good intentions may be enough to take down a young dragon, an inexperienced hunter will never live to become experienced one if they do not learn everything they can about their enemy for older dragons have learned to compensate for their weaknesses and are prepared for most attacks.  The greatest weapon against the dragons is knowledge, but such knowledge often comes with its own price.

Notes: Just some background information and things to think about for those who wish to hunt dragons.

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Ypisara, (former) Godesses of Salt, Serpents and Fishes

17 July, 2014

As promised, some time ago, here she is:

Ypisara, (former) Goddess of Salt, Serpents and Fishes

Title             Mother of Serpents, Salt Mother, the Salt Serpent
Portfolio         Formerly Salt, Sepents, Fishes, Now indirectly Saltwork, Serpentfolk
Typical Worshipers     Fishermen, Salt Carvers and Workers, Serpentfolk
Domains         Earth, Repose, Scalykind
Subdomains         Ancestors, Salt
Favored Weapon     Curved Dagger or Kris
Favored Animal(s)     Snake

Light through saltYpisara was a minor goddess with an odd portfolio, the association with fishes was possibly inherited and the least portion of her worship.  The center of her believers were the serpentfolk who mined the salt of the Bitter Hills and hunted among the mangrove swamps of the Darksea Marsh. Not a numerous people but dedicated to their mother-goddess.

When the dragons went to war with the gods, Ypisara was one of the few who saw how the battles were going to play out, she found and submitted to the Empress, asking only that her children and followers be spared.  The Empress agreed and took the life of Ypisara personally, placing the lands and people of Ypisara under her personal protection and rule.

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Shadowrun Campaign Pitch – Unusual Solutions Inc (USi)

16 June, 2013

Unusual Solutions Inc (USi)

“We solve your problems.”

The characters are recently promoted/head-hunted/blackmailed on to one of the field teams of USi.  USi is a specialist micro-corp that deals with unique maintenance and repair solutions.  They have offices worldwide and a small staff of permanent employees but a large portfolio of freelancers.

The Seattle branch is located on the 13th floor of the Caulder Building, a nondescript tower block overlooking the docks.  In fact, they rent the entire floor and use it to host an ever changing host of temporary companies and start-ups spun off from USi.

Maria “the Wall” Wallenstein-Haines runs the Seattle office.  “The Wall” is a former Munich Valkyries (Women’s Global Combat Soccer League) goalie who retired after losing her left leg for the third time.  She has been with USi for six years after a brief stint in Sadler-Krupp security.

Shadowrun – Unusual Solutions Inc (USi)

Welcome to USi where “we solve your problems”, a specialist microcorp with global reach.  We will work with you to resolve your maintenance and repair problems no matter how unusual.

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City NPC – Questor (A to Z Challenge Q)

19 April, 2013

“If you need information on the Death Cults of a Sorcavii Plains,” announced Questor Icalli, “you have come to the right scholar.  No one else in the city, nay, the world can answer your questions with such authority . . . with the possible exception of the members of said cults.”

Questors, The Honorable League and Fellowship of

The origins of the Questors have been lost in time, always a loosely organized group, their tradition passed as often by practical apprenticeship as formal training.  They seek information, truth and justice.

Goal: Seek the Truth, Promote Justice

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