Free Verse: Ache of Bones

Bel Izeard

Dust on the road
The wind stirs the prairie grass
I stand near the tracks,
That cross the highway
The grain elevator is a ghost
It haunts me
The wind whips the dust
I shield my eyes
While my mind tries to shield
The hurt inside
My bike isn’t a steed
Just and escape to nowhere
No hunting bottles and cans today
Only riding with friends
Until our bones ache
We circle our home, this village—
They say it takes a village
But not all villages are equal—
The day wanes
Each one of us,
Pedals home one by one
Until the light is fading
There is supper and TV,
Hockey on a Saturday night,
‘Time for bed’ comes soon
A cat rolls up behind my knees
Purring a soothing sound
I drift away to imagined worlds
To stand with heroes—
Created with my friends—
On the plains of Malecade

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Blank Verse: Foe, Ancient Foe

Bel Izeard

A cinereous mist dampens the moors.
The sun is a silver speck in the sky.
The kingdom, it withers under a curse,
An ancient foe that torments its people.

An imperious lizard chuffs in its lair,
A forge of fire and smoke in the mountain.
It slithers and sleeps on piles of treasure,
A beast that was old when the stars were born.

All who have challenged it have died in vain,
Trying to win freedom for the kingdom,
Or for the wealth and glory for themselves,
Their bones are piled up high as a warning.

Here now, another comes to test the wyrm.
A brazen girl carrying a long spear,
Wearing a helmet too large for her head.
She is her father’s daughter in chain mail.

She steps into the dragon’s lair with pride,
Her cloak billows in the breath of its sleep.
So long has it been since…

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Kalespace

Kulan World Journal

This system was my first attempt at creating a brand knew crystal sphere using my full customized Star System Creation Tables. While I let the roll of the dice build this system, for the most part, I ignored the dice a few times when the rolls conflicted too much with previous rolls. It was interesting that two gas giants got breathable atmospheres while two terrestrial worlds got tainted atmospheres. Another interesting aspect is that all the worlds are large or very large. Plus, I rolled for a primary population type for each of the inhabited planets.

The most interesting aspects of Kalespace are the following:

  • The Eberron-like civilization of native outsiders on the massive gas giant, Zeligos;
  • The Classical Antiquity civilization of monstrous humanoids on the massive gas giant, Brair;
  • The giant civilization on the tainted world of Varn;
    • I decided to switch the atmospheric compositions rolled for Blackash…

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Fane’s Star

Kulan World Journal

This star system is linked to Kulan through the Harqualian event known as The Transformation. A human race, called the Belin, was transported to the Lands of Harqual during a forced planar-crossing. Their home world is Salitt, which is medium world with little technology or magic. While it is a arid world with rugged terrain, it has a typical biosphere for a planet of its size.

While four of the system’s planets have breathable atmospheres, only the terrestrial world of Shalinsar has knowledge of spelljamming technology. Margvelvak, Dreen, and Shalinsar all have technology equivalent the middle ages with Shalinsar being the most advanced of the three worlds. In the asteroid field known as Breakpoint, there are neophyte spelljamming outposts created by the denizens of Shalinsar.

The gas giant called Dreen is an interesting world, as it has a standard breathable atmosphere and a civilization with a understanding of both magic…

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Allorspace

Kulan World Journal

This crystal sphere used to exist in the Shell Reality, until one of its inhabitants met the raia and exposed his sphere to the concept of there being different realities. Of course, that man is long dead and it took hundreds of years after his death before the sphere to shift into the Farspace Reality. But it proves the point of the arcane, exposing shell reality inhabitants to the concept of realities is a dangerous consequence of letting other races from the farspace reality enter the sphere reality. The Arcane Merchants’ Alliance actively discourages other races from making contact with ‘shellers’, including trade embargoes and the threat of military action. So far, none have risked the wrath of the arcane by attempting to shift another shell sphere to farspace.

Allorspace was named after the sphere’s primary, Allor (very large fire planet). Allor is what is known as a fire planet…

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Arcane Order

“The Arcane Order has been described into three different references put out by TSR / Wizards of the Coast. The first book, AD&D College of Wizardry is one of my favorite 2nd Edition accessories and was written by Bruce R. Cordell. The second book is the 3rd Edition (v.3.0) splatbook, D&D Tome and Blood, which was written by Cordell and Skip Williams. (I was not surprised to see Cordell’s name on D&D Tome and Blood once I realized he wrote the first one.) The third book is the 3rd Edition (v.3.5) sourcebook, D&D Complete Arcane, which was written by Richard Baker.” – RPB

The Arcane Order, just the words inspire awe and wonder in the minds of youngsters eager to learn the art of magic. The order is an university of magic with about a dozen campuses spread throughout the known galaxy. Dedicated to teaching and researching magic, the order has existed since the dawn of the Gold Age. Its members benefit from sharing knowledge with one another and the university has its own electronic database of arcana completely separate from the spell database of the Imperial Society of Arcane Magic. The two organizations are like oil and water and don’t mix!

This division has existed since they first became aware of each other. The Imperial Society is the largest known groups of wizards in the Dragon Empire and are somewhat recognized. The Arcane Order, on the other hand, is a much smaller organization that struggles to remain operational due to the universities independent nature and need for private funding. The order is much less likely to be influenced by the Royal Houses of the Empire and it does not back down from threats both physical and political.

This policy is the belief of one man who has been its Chancellor for as long as anyone can remember, Japheth Arcane. He runs the order and directs its research. Japheth is a man obsessed. He has been trying to unlock the secrets to something he calls the Language Primeval (or Aleph). He believes this Aleph is an ancient magical grammar that is older than every other language known to the known galaxy, including Draconic. It is this belief which has brought the Arcane Order into conflict with the Imperial Society. Society members have dedicated themselves to standardizing magical research into Draconic regardless of race and most in the Imperial Society think Japheth a dangerous radical trying to upset the balance of magical power.

The Golden Throne has always taken the viewpoint that the Arcane Order is a harmless group of crackpots and charlatans. The dragons believe that Draconic will always be the language of choice for magical research and just wish the two groups of wizards would stop squabbling. In a dragon’s mind, wizards aren’t important — they only pretend to understand magic, unlike sorcerers, and both groups suffer from second class status in the arcana community of the Dragon Empire. Mezzenbone considers both groups to be a nuisance and not worth the credits it takes to keep them running. However, if given the chance, the Dragon Emperor would love to pit the two of them against each other and have them wipe each other out or start a larger conflict across known space.

While the Arcane Order can sometimes be defiant, Japheth has no desire to incur the wrath of the Empire, as it would make it impossible for him to continue towards his goal of discovering the ultimate secret behind the Language Primeval. He is content to remain neutral when it comes to interstellar politics. Only when dealing with the Imperial Society will Japheth become passionate about his beliefs and the goals of the Arcane Order.

Some of his fellow order members believe that Japheth is either a lich or a soulmech. The truth, if known, would be stranger than the constant rumors that circulate throughout the campuses of the Arcane Order. The ISPD has heard some of these rumors and is the only branch of the Dragon Empire that takes the threat of the Arcane Order seriously. A small group of elite drow are determined to learn the truth behind the origin of Japheth Arcane and his interstellar university.

Mecha Sources

When I first created the concept of Twilight Galaxy for Alternity, I had envisioned mecha as being an important part of that campaign design, which I referred to as Footprints of Thunder. When I decided to scrap Twilight Galaxy and integrate the best parts into Arcanum of the Stars, the concept of mecha was one of the first things I chose.

Then the hard part reared its ugly head.

At the time, the D20 System was still brand new and there weren’t any hard rules for including mecha as part of my Dragonstar campaign. I toyed with the idea of converting BattleTech, which had been the originally basis for mecha design in Twilight Galaxy. The design was clunky to say the least. Then came D20 modern and the DUNGEON Magazine mini-games, specifically Mecha Crusade. I really like the set of rules designed for the mini-game. It won’t be too much work to convert the material in that mini-game to be compatible with the Dragonstar universe.

Another reference that will ultimately influence where mecha design goes for my Dragonstar campaign is the D20 Mecha Compendium created by Dream Pod 9. The mecha in the book were created using the D20 Mecha Rulebook published by Guardians of Order, Inc, which I still don’t own. However, GOO has provided a D20 Mecha SRD for free on their website, so I might not have to buy the book right away (or at all).

Several other mecha sourcebooks and campaigns have come out since I decided upon a hybrid of Mecha Crusade and D20 Mecha Compendium as the “rough” basis for mecha in Arcanum of the Stars. There is Mongoose Publishing’s Armageddon 2089: Total War, which I’m not as interested in as I use to be (it looks too complex for what I want). There is also still the idea of converting BattleTech material as I had originally planned for Twilight Galaxy. I bought the DragonMech campaign setting by Goodman Games published through Sword & Sorcery Studios but quickly became disenfranchised with it. It will not be a part of Arcanum of the Stars.

NOTE: Since writing this section, I have sold away my copy of D20 Mecha Compendium. I could not find a copy of the D20 Mecha Rulebook, at the time, and I decided against using the D20 Mecha SRD as well. For now, mecha design will be based on Mecha Crusade and anything that I can glean from Neo’s web site (see below).