Posts Tagged ‘Sea of Stars’

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Brave Folk (Badgerkin) for Dungeons & Dragons (5E)

30 December, 2020

Badgerkin (“Brave Folk”)
Badger the bard notIn the Crimson-Lined Valley, the Clans are guarded by the warriors of Drake’s Hold, the bravest of them are from the Badgerkin line. The origins of the Brave Folk are traced back to the Sundering when the Baron of Jackery drew upon all of their resources to defend the Crimson-Lined Valley from invasion. Among the defenders were the trained badgers of the young Baron. What happened has never made clear, but the Brave Folk returned from the battle having driven off the invaders, their leader was the young Baron henceforth known as Rolland the Brave.

Since then the Brave Folk have guarded the Crimson-Lined Valley from harm.

Physical Description: The Badgerkin are humanoid badgers, stocky and powerfully built, their bodies ripple with muscles under their wiry fur. Their fur is grey above and black on the under parts with a distinctive black and white striped face and white-tipped ears.

Their eyes are usually black, brown or amber, with the occasional green, blue eyes are not unknown but are exceptionally rare. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Sisters of the Swan for D&D 5E

12 October, 2020

The Abbey on the Lake of White Lilies was famous for the honor and learning of its sisters and the beautiful swans that populated the lake. They were not warriors but healers, scholars and gardeners. When the Dragons launched their attack on the gods, all the sisters could do was pray.

Fly with meWhen the Empress visited the Abbey after the sundering, a fragment of a heaven had lodged in the lake and the lilies had changed to gold and the sisters and the swans had been melted together. The transformation was rough for some, wings for arms or exceeding long necks, others had been killed outright, their new bodies unsuitable for the world. The Empress used her magic to heal and reform them, making the form of woman and swan, separate but joined allowing them to switch between the two.

The Abbey on the Lake of Gold Lilies remains under Imperial jurisdiction and remains a center of learning. It exports fine lace, goose down and illuminated manuscripts.

Physical Description: The Sisters of the Swan are willowy and graceful with long necks and usually pale skin, pale hair is common as well but their eyes are dark. Every generation there has been a black or gold Sister hatched but they have been occurring more frequently. Their faces tend to be narrow with large eyes. They have long delicate fingers and long toes on their feet, with webbing between their toes.

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New Beastkind for D&D 5E – Ypisarian Serpentfolk

4 October, 2020

Distant ancestor?The Serpentfolk are the children of the goddess Ypisara, though she is now only acknowledged as the great mother of their race. A minor race, they weathered the war of against the gods and the Sundering better than most due to the act of submission and self-sacrifice by the goddess Ypisara in exchange for the protection of the Empress, she gave her life willingly to the Dragon Queen; in exchange her children have been protected and since then, they have thrived, in a restrained fashion, under the eye of the Empress who acts as their patron and guardian.

Serpentfolk are a dedicated and loyal people, devoted to their communities and, in a vague sense, the Empire as a whole. While each of the serpentfolk is their own person they often think of themselves as part of a chain of community and tend to weight the good of the group over the good of the individual.

Serpentfolk are humanoid, tending toward slender builds, and covered in a network of fine scales usually in shades of green but other colors show up on occasion. Their eyes are dark and their heads are decorated by low crests. Most have slender tails. Serpentolk have claws but they are not usually large or strong enough to be effectively used as weapons.

The serpentfolk are warm blooded but lay eggs.

Serpentfolk Lands: The Serpent folk have a large island that is theirs, though under the direct rule of the Empress, it runs from the Bitter Hills, mined for salt and copper, to the mangrove swamps of the Darksea Marsh and the Darksea beyond.

The Serpentfolk are not well known outside of Imperial circles, they only having really begun expanding outside of those confines in the last few centuries. Their position as direct Imperial subjects means that their homeland is essentially inviolate but they do trade salt and items made of salt for what imports they need.

Religion: The Serpentfolk venerate Ypisara as their ancestral mother and the Empress as their protector with their ancestors being revered and offering made for them. They have an idea of rebirth in a continual ouroboros of life and spirit. Rumors of a secret sect that continues to worships Ypisara as mother-goddess are entirely unfounded.

Names: Names in the Serpentfolk tongue are difficult to pronounce for non-serpentfolk so they tend to attract monikers when dealing with them.

Adventurers: The Serpentfolk increasingly are seeking posts with the Dragon Imperium outside of their homeland and a few of those have decided to explore the greater world on their own.

Your Ypisarian Serpentfolk character has certain traits deriving from your ancestry.

Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2, and your Wisdom score increases by 1.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Darkvision. You have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You cannot discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Age. The serpentfolk mature slightly more quickly than humans, reaching adult development around fifteen. They live as long as humans or slightly longer.

Alignment. The serpentfolk are group people, working together to build a society to honor their ancestors and Patron. They are loyal, hard working and stoic. They tend to weigh the needs of their society over that of the individual.

The Serpentfolk are organized in family groups and in clutch-cohorts, all of the serpentfolk who were hatched in the same season, it is a loose structure but it works. They are very community oriented and tend to defer to their elders.

Size. The serpentfolk are slender and lithe, rarely taller than five feet tall when reaching adulthood but continue to grow (slowly) throughout their adult life and often reach over six feet tall. Your size is Medium.

Languages. Serpent speak their own language, handed down from before the Sundering, and also learn the Imperial Tongue and Low Draconic in honor of their Patron.

Friend of Fishes. Serpentfolk are natural swimmer and at home in the water, gaining advantage on Strength (Athletics) checks related to swimming.

Salt Resistance. Due to their constant exposure to salt, Serentfolk advantage on saving throws against salt and have resistance against salt damage.

Scales. Serpentfolk have tough scaled skin, when not wearing armor, your AC equals 11 + your Dexterity modifier.

Shaper of Salt. Raised with salt as the primary building material, they become adept at working it from an early age, gaining proficiency with all tool checks involving salt.

Notes: You can find a version for Pathfinder here.  Have had D&D players interested in the Beastkine races so wanted to start getting them transferred over to 5E.

Photo Gulf Salt Marsh Snake (Nerodia clarkii) Florida by Glenn Bartolotti found on Wikimedia Commons and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

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Visit Scenic Petrichor

29 September, 2020

I have been running learn to play D&D sessions monthly, so I thought I should consolidate the information on the usual location to make it easier for the players to reference.

Petrichor

What emerges after the rain?Many odd places exist in the Sea of Stars, one such place was the Wash, a large island that was constantly under pounding rain.  While a few hardy (or unfortunate) souls set up small settlements to sell fresh water to passing ships, expeditions into the exterior never returned or came back with stories of washed out plains and low hills of mud.  Even the expansionist powers gave up on settling the fringe of an island whose only resource was rainwater.

Then, the rain stopped, entirely.  The omnipresent clouds, blew away.  Suddenly, the Wash was just another island.  Cautiously, exploration began, after all the rains could come back at any time.  To their surprise, there were forests, mountains and lush grasslands, rivers and streams, even ruins.  It was as if the real nature of the land had been held ayont, waiting for the rains to stop before they returned.

Now, there is a great rush to claim this new land.  While in the capital, lawyers and surveyors argue over who owns the lands, everyone knows that it will be the facts on the ground that ultimately decide the division of this new realm.

Setting: The Sea of Stars, a new frontier thereof.  Characters who are venturing upon such land for reasons of their own.

  •    Continuity: Episodic with continuity, season arcs.
  •    Rating: PG13, themes of colonialism, slavery and exploitation are likely to appear.
  •    Style: Exploration, politics, community building.
  •    Tone: Serious but not aiming for dark, just thoughtful.

Rules: D&D5, with standard Sea of Stars modifications (see character creation notes here). Read the rest of this entry ?

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Zymology and Zoophagy (A to Z)

30 April, 2020

Have a drink!Zymurgy is the science of brewing and fermentation because, as we know, if it can be turned into alcohol people will find a way to do so.  That is as true in the Sea of Stars as it is here and in the Sea of Stars there are even more bizarre things to brew drinks such as:

Blood Wine, a red ice wine fortified with spices and . . . other additives.  Packs a very potent punch even though it has a moderate alcohol content.

Flame Mead, brewed from fire bee honey, which is naturally warm and will self-ignite if left out in the Sun.

Liquid Lightning, captured in the outer banks of North Battavel, where the lightning and rain mix together, this charged water is used to brew the local beer which causes an electric tingle all the way through the drinkers system.  Definitely an acquired taste.

Ruby Wine, made from the ruby raspberry of Uvenhome, it has the most beautiful ruby color and if allowed to freeze, it crystallizes and retains that crystal shape unless it is raised to almost boiling.  Making it very useful for decoration.

And so many others (such as Badgerkin Beer).

Zoophagy is simply the feeding on animals by other animals, this can be natural or forced.  Many dragons keep pets and prefer predators.  Some of those dragons in turn feed on those predators reinforcing their place at the top of the food chain.

A few even agree with:

The Ogre philosopher Gnerdel believed the purpose of life was to live as high on the food chain as possible. She refused to eat vegetarians, preferring to live entirely on creatures that preyed on sentient beings.

(From the Magic: the Gathering card Grey Ogre, not a great card but a great quote)

NotesAnd with that, we wrap up another Blogging from A to Z.  Hope you enjoyed a wander through the odd corners of the Sea of Stars.

Image Visitors in a brewery storeroom full of casks of ale. Wood-engraving, c. 1847. Wellcome Collection. License CC BY.

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Years and Yesterdays (A to Z)

29 April, 2020

Time and Seasons pass for allThe Empress controls the seasons and the time of day across the entirety of the Sea of Stars, indeed the seasons and day length are universal across the all the lands, via her control of the Sun.

The year in the Sea of Stars is thirteen months long, each month consisting of twenty-eight days (divided up into four weeks, each of seven days); Fall, Winter and Spring are each three months long while Summer lasts for four.  The Empress’ Birthday an extra-calendary day is placed in the middle of Summer making a total of three hundred and sixty-five days a year.

While some cultures maintain their own calendars, most use the Imperial calendar for taxes and official business, it is easier (and safer) to coordinate with the Imperial officials after all.

While many cultures and traditions look back on the time before the Sundering as a Golden Era before the dragons ruined everything, the dragons themselves rarely look backwards in time, nostalgia has no place in their make up.  The majority of dragons live looking forward, making plans for decades or ever centuries in the future, though a small few are pure sensualists that live only in the present and near future.  People are advised to avoid the sensualists among the dragons as they are mercurial in mood and very dangerous to more fragile creatures.

While one can use magic to travel forward in time is the Sea of Stars, traveling to the past is impossible.

Notes:  Y is a another tricky one, so just some cultural bits for the day.

Image Clocks: a watch-maker seated at his workbench with a long-case and a bracket clock behind him, diagrams of movements above his head. Engraving. From the Wellcome Collection.  License Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).

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Xenacious Talisman (A to Z, Tuesday Magic Item)

28 April, 2020

One of the things that has always bothered me in fantasy world was the default assumption of xenophobia, that anyone from not here was bad and evil.  Fantasy worlds are full of wonders and strange and interesting being may of whom are happy to talk over a cup of tea.  Which is why I subverted this trope to a default of xenophilia in the Sea of Stars.

See the world!“I like our new employer,” said Voddick.  “Nice to be traveling with someone one who is exciting about seeing new places.”

“As do I, it is . . . refreshing,” replied Gollaon with a smile.

“It gives me hope for the future, makes it exciting to travel again,” Voddick struck a dramatic pose

“Yes!” Gollaon stepped up and matched the pose.

“Are you two done?  There is an amazing mural here!”

Xenacious Talisman

These talismans are always made in a blend of styles, not two are the same, incorporate coins, symbols and other elements from various cultures and places.

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Words and Whimsy (A to Z)

27 April, 2020

Whimsy and WordsIt is known that words (and names especially) contain power, wizards are perhaps the most well known users of words of power but others have been known to tap into such magics as well.  The Empress is rumored to be a powerful worker of word magic but then, that is said about the Empress and just about every sort of magic.

Wizards comb ancient libraries for particular lost or hidden magical words but they are rarely found, it is one of the ways the Library-Towers of Borusa make money, providing their libraries for perusal.  The Imperial libraries are also sought after but more difficult to acquire access too.  Caches of lost lore when found are often subject to bidding war or even outright theft!  So ventures might be hired to find such information, protect it or even steal it.

Whimsy, as in the sense of the purely fantastical and perhaps bizarre, must be introduced carefully into a game, as sometimes the mood needs to be lightened or . . . changed.  But too much whimsy can irrevocably change the tone of a campaign, so, like any spice, use in small amounts to enhance not overwhelm the existing tone and themes of your game.  Whimsy is also one of the hardest things to put back one you have let it out, so, be careful!

Notes: An adventure seed and some games mastering advice.  W is always a challenge.

Image By Sir John Tenniel – “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” (1865), found on Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain.

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Venust and Voyages (A to Z)

25 April, 2020

Venust NatureVenust nature, beautiful nature, is prized by many dragons, especially by the Empress and she encourages, but does not demand, that her subjects maintain such.  She does, however, visit sites of natural beauty throughout her realm on a routine but unannounced schedule, encouraging their preservation.  The Empress’ appreciation of such places has lead to continued production of painting from these sites.  Leading to expeditions to odd places with venturers and scouts guiding and escorting teams of painter and other artists to distant and inaccessible site of amazing natural beauty.

Those with lesser resources must do with copies of famous works which have filtered down through noble houses and down into the middle class.  Some cities even have shops that sell prints of famous paintings, many of which are made from images copied from painting in the Imperial museums.

In the areas that are calm, travel for pleasure and to visit historical places are becoming more common, some Visse have even begun organizing package tours and travel agencies.  For those more adventurous types, some are willing to travel to more dangerous places requiring hiring guards and guides.

Notes:  V is another tricky one but Venust is just such a wonderfully obscure word that I could not resist.  Mostly potential adventure ideas or odd people to meet.

Image Krajina s vodopádom. Slovak National Gallery. Public Domain Mark.

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Unliving and Unbound (A to Z)

24 April, 2020

Plague spiritThings that were living and now are not but are still animate, in the Sea of Stars, are referred to as the Unliving.  There are a surprising number of them in some places, as Necrourgists (such as those in the High Kingdom of Laccini) are found of using their death magic to provide these once-living shells with an animating spark of energy torn from dark places, if not properly controlled, these sparks come with touch of malevolent cunning, not true intelligence, but dangerous if not watched and controlled.

Other effects can cause the dead to walk (and hunger): odd magic from the sundering, the residue of dead gods, alchemical runoff and more.  A few few of the unliving predate the Sundering and a few of those have ways of creating more of their kind.  But they are careful how they use such, knowing that if they are too obvious the dragons will swoop in and destroy them all.

The Unbound are those spirits no longer ties to their body, thus unbound from them, yes unable to make the transition through the shadowed lands to judgement beyond.  Many are tormented, seeking revenge or to complete a task left undone, while a few are simply lost.  Setting them to rest may be simple or easy depending on the nature of the spirits, making work for exorcists and ghost hunters.

The Church of the Sun, like their patron, has a visceral hatred of the Unliving and a harsh pity for the Unbound, seeking to destroy or banish them whenever encountered.

Notes:  Renaming things to suit your world / setting in important, it makes it more yours see (also Hollows and Hellions).  Also, I find the term “undead” wearing at this point, overused.  Of course, the challenge is getting your players to adopt the new terms.

Image An allegory of malaria. Reproduction of an engraving after M. Sand. Maurice Sand. Wellcome Collection license CC BY.

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