Posts Tagged ‘Sea of Stars’

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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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Tea and Trade (A to Z)

23 April, 2020

Tea is a high value and (comparatively) light weight commodity and in demand all across the Sea of Stars, tea is widely and often drunk, many dragons are connoisseurs following the Empress’ example.  It is a sign of hospitality almost everywhere to be offered a cup of tea, though various places use various things for tea, not everyone can afford the black tea from the few places it is grown.  Other use various mixes of herbs or other materials, some of the shadow elves even using type of powdered mushrooms.

As fast as the wind will carry us!The first crop of tea from each season is raced to the Imperial Capital on sky ship, each vying for the honor of being the first tea delivered.  By tradition, the Empress buys all of the cargo of the first ship to arrive and reward the crew.  While it has been pointed out that ferrying the tea to one of the gate cities would be faster but the tradition continues.

The trade in tea is only part of the vast trading network that extends throughout the Sea of Stars, encouraged by the Empress and Imperial policy.  The Empress provides a universal currency for those that wish to use it, the Imperial Navy is routinely deployed to combat pirates and the Imperial tax policy reward those states that open themselves to trade.  The Empress realized that true wealth comes from innovation, industry and trade, therefore she encourages all three.  After all, the wealthier her subject are, the more wealth flows into Imperial coffers.

What is less know is that the Empress has indirectly invested in many trading ventures, large and small, to open up new trade routes and locales.  There is untold wealth to be discovered in the Sea of Stars, the Empress is certain of it.

Notes: Wealth can be acquired by taking but it does not create wealth, trade and industry creates wealth.  The Empress understands this.  You could join the tea clipper race!  Also, opening new trade routes is a great adventure!

Image Willis Tea Line Clipper, by Frederick Tudgay. Oil on Canvas, found on Wikimedia Commons and is in the Public Domain.

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Salt and Serpents (A to Z)

22 April, 2020

So much can be made from thisBefore the Sundering, on one corner of the world, there was a civilization of serpent people who followed the goddess Ypisara, goddess of salt, serpents and fishes.  Ypisara gave herself up to the Dragon Empress to save her people and the Empress adopted the serpent folk as her own, placing them and their lands under Imperial protection.

The Ypisaran culture is unusual as it uses salt to make many things that other societies used metal or stone for, reinforcing the structure of that brittle material with secret techniques, alchemy and magic.  The Ypisarian blades and scale armor made of hardened salt are the most well known, most weapon collector have at least one Ypisarian knife or sword in their possession and the weaponsmiths of the serpent people manage a good trade in weapons purely for collectors and tourists.

The houses of the Ypisarians are mostly made of blocks of hardened salt making them glow and glitter in the sunlight, it is a spectacular sight but painful to the eyes of those not adapted to such glare.  Visitor expecting the houses to melt in the rare rains will be disappointed but the brief moment when the sun first strikes the wet surfaces of the houses and bathes them in rainbow light for just a few seconds before the water begins to steam away.

What were once the Temples of Ypisara have been converted into government building or palaces for the Empress and, while worship of Ypisara as a god is banned, worship of her as an ancestor is allowed and her image show up in many household shrines, though less commonly in public ones.

The serpent folk, even before the Sundering, are mostly content to keep to themselves.  Rarely one will enter Imperial service or decide to travel but they are rare in the wider world.

Notes:  Bending back to some themes I had wished to explore further.

Image Kosher Salt, Creator stlbites.com, License CC by-nd 2.0

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Rattail Blade (A to Z, Tuesday Magic Item)

21 April, 2020

The god of rats and vermin was one of the last gods to be hunted down and before he was killed, he set in motion what he hoped would be his vengeance (see Osquip, Stellar).  Others, learning of the divine hatred imbued in the Osquip has taken to using that magic to build weapons.

Rats rememberVoddick and Gollaon watched as the guards searched one fellow heading into the Senatehouse of the Serene Republic.  They looked at each other and followed.  “Something wrong,” said Voddick.

“Very wrong,” agreed Gollaon.  “His eyes were too dark.”

“And a twitchy nose.”

They looked at each other.  “Rat tail.”

The man they were following spotted them and started to run.

Rattail Blade

These weapons are always narrow and usually long, their blades are a dull color usually gray or blackened, and their grips are rough leather.  The sheaths are always pale leather.

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Queens and Quislings (A to Z)

20 April, 2020

An ambush?  Of royalty?When the dragons took over, they quickly enforced their will and design of the various polities now under their rule.  There was more than one king who thought his family’s dragon slaying sword and armored retainers could dispose of such an affront . . . almost all of them were mistaken.  Suddenly, many kingdoms found themselves ruled by Queens (or Queen Regents or several other variations), the dragons had no problem dealing with a woman ruler, their highest ruler was a female after all.

Some of the Queen made deals with their dragon rules and changed their line of decent into a matriarchical succession or matrilinealial inheritance (or both) often having odd repercussions throughout their society.  But, as long as the dragon ended up with a stable royal house that followed their dictates, they usually did not care about such disruptions to the previous order of things.

Now, those that bowed to the dragons when other fought them . . . the survivors remember who betrayed them and sold them out to the new draconic hierarchy.  Revenge killings, assassinations and blood feuds were common for the first three or four generations after the Sundering but they they mostly died out.  The heat of passion cooled.  But some noble houses still have long standing, and often deep, rivalry and opposition to each other that date to this division.

There are also no lack of secret societies that were founded to purge draconic loyalists and take back their lands from the dragons.  Most of these have descended into social clubs and other forms of organization but a very few, in their secret inner circle, keep the dream of a dragon free land alive.

Notes:  Q is always tricky but then I remember Quisling.

Image Queen Facua’s triumph; King Famis on his way to Laurentum; Hercules and queen Facua in Laurentum. National Library of the Netherlands. Public Domain Mark.

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