Posts Tagged ‘Sea of Stars’

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Doomsdays and Dystopias of the Sea of Stars

14 July, 2017

The theme for this month’s RPG Bog Carnival is Doomsdays and Dystopias hosted over on Daemons & Deathrays.

What a messThere are two major doomsday points in the Sea of Stars:

The Fall of the Gods and the Sundering, the war between the gods and the dragons had considerable, to use the current term, collateral damage.  While the dragons did not seek to destroy any more than necessary, looting rubble is less productive, there were situations that required significant devastation especially in the cases of the gods who choose to live among their worshipers.  The combats in those cities were massively destructive to life and property.

But the damage caused by the Gods War pales by comparison to that of the Sundering which followed immediately afterward, as the world itself shattered and pulled apart.  The loss of life was immense and some area were rendered uninhabitable as rivers were diverted, lakes and oceans drained away, mountain ranges crumbled or emerged.  In less than a day, the world was irrevocably changed.

However, with the help of their new rulers, the dragons, the world was slowly rebuilt.  Some areas took longer to recover than others . . . and a few never did leaving ruins in formerly fertile areas that were now deserts or marshes or worse.

If massive environmentally disruption is your idea of a good campaign, the Sundering has everything you could imagine.

A much more focused doomsday is the Sen’Tek Revolt, the attempt by a conspiracy within the Visse servant class and Imperial bureaucracy to overthrow (and replace) the draconic overlords.  The deep conspiracy planned across decades was forced to act prematurely when it was revealed to the Empress.  While many dragons and dragonkine were killed, the plot as a whole was foiled, and many, many Visse were slain.   Though the core of the conspiracy escaped deep into the far mountains.  Even this failure caused deep disruption to draconic rule as the dragons turned upon the weakened houses and sought to benefit until the Empress stepped in and reorganized the survivors.

If you want a survival horror type scenario it could be run on either side of this: either dragonkine nobles trying to survive against servants who know their every foible and weakness or a group of Visse, possible mixed conspirators and innocents, avoiding dragons and trying to escape.

For dystopia, well, it is a world ruled by dragons after killing the gods, for many, they could not imagine a worse world.  For the dragon rulers who had to “reeducate” formerly pious societies, it was not a pretty task.  While, in general, the dragons take a claws off approach as long as they get their taxes, there are always exceptions.

So if you are looking for unhappy places, there are no shortage such as the Kingdom of Laccini and its militant knights backed by necrourgists or the Dark Star Dominion and its ruler, Ba’a’ai, the Dark Star himself.

Other dystopias must exist as well but I cannot immediately think of any more.

 

Notes: Photo “Ruined Castle” by Grant is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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Things Out in the Dark

30 March, 2017

This month’s theme for the RPG Blog Carnival is Things in the Dark, hosted by Mobius Adventures.

There is considerable darkness beyond and between the islands that compose the Sea of Stars, the space between the stars is all around, above and below the islands.  And some things both fantastic and terrible live in that darkness.

UmrayOne type of such creatures are the Umrays which haunt and hunt in the spaces between the islands.  These manta ray like creatures move through the space between the stars as though it was water but are not confined to the flat plane of travel that starships are bound to.  However, they almost never venture on or above the islands for reasons unknown.

Other creatures live and hide away in the dark from the gaze of mortals and -more importantly- dragons, beings from the lower and higher realms trapped when the gods were slain.  These beings have found places to avoid the dragons that hunt any traces of the divine, some of these being plot revenge, others just . . . wait.

There are also the ghosts, spirits and damned souls of those who have perished by plunging into the dark between the stars.  The subject of many a chilling tales by sailors upon the Sea of Stars, all new travelers upon a starship will be subject to multiple stories of sinister and bloodthirsty ghosts.  Fortunately these revenants are exceedingly rare but excessively destructive when they do appear.

Lastly, there are the strange and unknowable creatures that are native to the depths of the space.  Most who encounter these creatures do not survive to tell about it.

Notes: A very late entry for the Blog Carnival but I wanted to contribute.

Photo for the Umray is a slightly modified version of “Flower Garden Manta Ray” by NOAA’s National Ocean Service is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Beginning of the End, the Gods War and Sundering as the End of the World

21 May, 2016

So the RPG Blog Carnival theme for May is At World’s End dealing with the end of campaigns as well as end of the world scenarios (Rising Phoenix Games is hosting the Blog Carnival this time around).

Thus the world endsIt occurred to me that the Gods War that sees the dragons triumph over and kill the majority of the gods and the Sundering that follows, shattering the world, could very easily be read as the end of the world.  The old order is cast down and destroyed, all that was once worshiped has been shown to be powerless before the might of the dragons and the very world itself has been torn apart.  You do not get much more apocalyptic than that!

But it is not the end of the Sea of Stars but the beginning, all of this forms the deep background of the campaign world (though I have run a few short stories set in the immediate aftermath) but there is no reason that it could not be center stage.  Either with people joining in the (doomed) fight against the dragons or just trying to survive in the aftermath adjusting to a radically different world.

Imagine just being out for a stroll in the city square and suddenly screams erupt as the bodies of charred angels and mangled dragons start falling from the sky, crashing into the building and trading stalls.  Looking up, the sky is split by rifts of light and shadow and flashes indicate that something is happening but it is too far away to see . . . until another body plunges down to earth.

Or, you are in your village up in the mountains when the light from the sun, at midday, goes red and the earth shakes.  Everything just seems wrong, the animals are terrified and running all over the place.  Then, for a moment, every seems to return to normal, the sun is again bright . . . and the earth splits, tearing mountains away from mountains and the crack is heading straight for the village!

There is a lot of possibility for drama and action with fights against dragons or the elements (or both) at the end of one world and the beginning of the next.

Art is the Great Day of His Wrath by John Martin and held in the Tate Gallery and the image is in the Public Domain.

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Zoology (A to Z Challenge, Z)

30 April, 2016

LionAnimals are everywhere in Sea of Stars and in so many varieties.  The initial pool of animals was similar to that here on Earth, with a few exotic variations, but the Sundering changed everything, sometimes for the better, but usually for the worst.  The raw magic released by the sundering changed animals in all sorts of strange ways, though the most common was changes in size, which is why there are giant rats and miniature giraffe in the Sea of Stars, but sometime the changes were stranger leading to tree dwelling sheep and six-legged oxen, or creatures became mixed and dangerous, creating such beings as stagwolves and sting squirrels.

People in some regions were forced to adapt to chickens that ate wood and laid eggs that were shelled like nuts, aquatic cows or replacing transport animals with zebra and other such adaptions which then became just the way things were done in that valley or these islands.  In other words, for those who travel widely, especially venturers, it is wise to not take the animals you encounter at face value without consulting with the locals.

Zoos and menageries is the Sea of Stars are always looking for new and exotic additions to their collections, gatherer of such creatures can make a good living . . . if they do not get eaten first.

Notes: Z is a tough letter to end on, but I hope still fun.

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

 

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Yonder (A to Z Challenge, Y)

29 April, 2016

Get goingOne of the things about the Sea of Stars is that there is always yonder, another place to go, if you are willing to take the risk; many who serve as sailors aboard the starships and no small number of venturers started out as people who just needed to leave their home for whatever reason, hunger, ambition, fear, curiosity, even wanderlust.  Some people just cannot stay at home because of external or internal pushes or a mixture of the two.

While most rulers make some attempt to keep their labourers, well, labouring and not running off to seek a better life, a few actively encourage troublemakers to leave and find their fortunes far, far, away.  It is the wisest of the rulers that seek to channel such people where they can be useful and be grateful for such guidance or, at least, not harbor ill-thoughts towards their homeland.

Though such worries are generally misplaces, once someone sets out for yonder, they rarely stop, for while yonder is a destination, it is not a place.  You can never reach it, not for long, there is always more yonder to wander to.   Even some young dragons become enchanted, or obsessed, with discovering what lies over yonder and spend decades or more doing just that.  For there is always another mountain range to cross, a new town’s streets to walk down, another island to visit.

After all, there are no lack of new places to see, people to meet and wonder to experience across the Sea of Stars.

Notes: Yonder has become an underused word, let us change that.

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

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Xenophilia and Xenophoby (A to Z Challenge, X)

28 April, 2016

The Sea of Stars is rife with odd and bizarre things, from dog folk to fish trees, cows that can read and eternal snow falls, and other ever stranger things.  Much like the way that people think of venturers, it depends on a group’s recent experience with strange things on how welcoming or hostile they may be towards the next unusual thing that comes visiting.

Generally, the more cosmopolitan and urban, the more likely an area is to have strands of xenophilia, embracing the strange, and welcoming the opportunities presented by new and exotic things even if they occasionally prove dangerous.  There will always be a market down some alley in a big enough city for any strange and unlikely thing that comes through.  Novelty is welcomed in such places especially if it seems to give the possessors of such novelty some sort of social (or other) advantage.

Here or thereConversely, small towns and isolated rural area tend to a natural conservatism and fear of things from outside, xenophoby.  After all, change means uncertainty and danger and small communities do not usually have much in the way of reserves in case things go wrong, so better safe than sorry.  Now, this is not to say that all such communities are hostile to strangers and new ideas, just that they are more cautious, often much more, when it comes to trying new ideas and letting strangers do stranger things.

Of course isolated and distant communities may have their own strangeness which to them is now just traditional and the way things always have been done, there are many of such places that resulted from the first century after the Sundering which turned everything upside down.  “You don’t eat beetles?”  “Where you come from potatoes do not grow in the shape of human faces?”  “But all goats have two heads.”  “You didn’t hatch from an egg?”  “Of course you grow a new set of teeth each year.”

Notes: Yes, xenophoby and xenophobia are essentially interchangeable words but I like using obscure words when I find them so there you go.

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

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War (A to Z Challenge, W)

27 April, 2016

This is what it is good forWar is rare in the Sea of Stars but not unknown; the problem with being an expansionist power is that ultimately, everything is owned by a dragon so by declaring war and trying to seize a piece of land, you are also declaring it upon that land’s owner.  Now some dragons are happy to let such conflicts play out on a purely mortal against mortal level, confining themselves to either high strategy or simply observers but a few dragons seek a more active role.

Some dragons expect their charges to be able to defend themselves without aid from their ruler, the weak should not be coddled after all.  As one draconic saying has it “the weak are meat the strong eat.”  These dragons are sure to make sure that the people in their lands understand that they are on their own if attacked and most who adhere to this philosophy promote militarism in the states they oversee.  These states by their nature oft times look for chances to test their mettle and expand.

Other dragons relish the opportunity to test their strength against entire armies or the dragons that command them.  When dragons appear on the battlefield they usually negotiate rules of engagement to ensure that they are unlikely to be killed.  Being wounded is acceptable, even expected, but being slain bu mere mortals would set a bad precedent.  Though even such rules do not prevent the occasional draconic death in battle as warfare is unpredictable (and few can resist the chance to slay a dragon when it is presented to them).

However, generally such conflicts between states and dragons are kept small scale, skirmishes and raids, maneuvers and feints, only very rarely escalating to full scale invasion, the difficulty of transporting an army from island to island may be part of that.  But wars still happen on occasion and when they do, things can change very rapidly.

Notes: Dragons like conflict but wars, wars are uncontrollable once unleashed so the majority of dragons try to avoid them.

Photo by Paul Kitchener used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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