Author Topic: Overview: Iame Poinomo, the House of Many Names  (Read 2203 times)

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Offline GrumpyOldFart

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Overview: Iame Poinomo, the House of Many Names
« on: January 27, 2009, 04:15:01 AM »
The reason I wanted this thread was because it occurred to me that I have some of the best minds in gaming right here on tap to critique my work. So by all means, if you guys have any suggestions, questions, comments or whatever, jump right on in there.

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Background, Part I: Early colonization, politics and the seeding of the Kindred

The first skyhook began operations above Quito, Ecuador on May 22, 2019. Funded by several nations, it consisted of the core of what would one day become a huge space station, a long term lease with Ecuador for a mountain near Quito, and a freefall laboratory in the station, producing the cable. The cable was descending toward earth before the end of the year, and by 2022 sending cargo from Quito into orbit cost about the same as sending cargo from Los Angeles to Tokyo. By 2030 there were permanent colonies at Peary on the moon and at Melas Chasma on Mars. By 2050 there was a second skyhook above Mt. Kenya, another lunar colony at Shackleton, another Arean colony at Candor Chasma, and colonies struggling for survival on Callisto, Ganymede and Titan.

The Titan colony was a private, corporate venture. Heritage Services Corp. was a subsidiary of a multinational pharmaceutical company which had been offering minor genetic engineering of unborn children to Arean and lunar colonists for years. The biggest problem the company had encountered since its founding was one of quarantine. That is, minor changes tended to escape the bounds of the test group before anyone could be certain they should be kept. Mutations with indifferent results or long term hazards spread as fast or faster than the useful ones. So they moved the entire operation to Titan, and renamed it Titan-Genesis Laboratories.
TGL had a program attempting to “make our children perfect for any environment”. Humanity had learned early on that the most easily available resources in the solar system were the asteroids, but mining them was both hazardous and disorienting. The more things there were to do in space, the more apparent it became that humans really were not physically suited to extended time in freefall, nor mentally suited to extended time in the cramped confines of spacecraft. So TGL proceeded to design a new strain of humanity for asteroid mining.

They needed to be small, strong, tough and radiation resistant. As one of humanity’s longest standing problems in space was the legs being too powerful, and space travelers having to learn to walk all over again in consequence of it, the muscle mass of the ‘new humans’ was shifted much more into the arms, chest and upper back. Where traits governing mental and emotional aptitudes were known, they were skewed toward the taciturn and the self-absorbed. After all, these people would be spending most of their lives either alone or in very small groups, with huge spaces in between. Social interaction mustn’t be vital to their sanity, or the project would be defeated before it was even begun.

The first “rockhounds” were released from quarantine on July 4, 2076. It was 300 years to the day after Thomas Jefferson presented what was widely held to be the greatest prose ever written on the subject of liberty. Of course, the designers had no way of knowing their action would prove to be a contender for the most deeply ironic event in all of human history.

The rockhounds were stocky humans averaging 4 ½ to 5 feet tall. And they were a design success, they really were. They performed every bit as well as had been hoped. But the public relations angle didn’t work out quite so well.

They were something that had been made. And as you’d expect, humans treated them just as they treated everything they made, that they were there to be used until they are useless, and then thrown away. Rights? It made as much sense to argue for the rights of your phone, or your kitchen appliances.

 “Making our children perfect for any environment.” It sounded good, if you said it fast enough. But that was the problem, they weren’t our children. They were someone else’s children, who knew whose? At least they started out as some stranger’s children, but then they had things done to them, making them almost but not quite human anymore. The people at TGL had hoped humans would see in them what Einstein’s or Gandhi’s parents must have seen, watching their descendants leap past the limits of the generation before, in ways they could only dimly comprehend. And to be fair, some did. Most of the people who worked closely with them, in fact. But humanity’s teeming billions, when they thought of rockhounds at all, thought of them as something akin to the offspring of O.J. Simpson and Dolly the Sheep. Legally they had barely any existence at all, they were “outlaws” by the old medieval definition.

A few people brought up how ridiculous it was that the highest example of human life was the only one completely unrecognized by human laws and human society. They argued that surely such a state could not endure for long. But they were assured that it would wait until later, the rockhounds were so few and so scattered that it simply couldn’t have any real impact on human society….

…impact. What an appropriate word. Oh no, they wouldn’t have any impact.

Edited Friday 3/29 at 10:15pm CDT, changed "dwarves" to "rockhounds".
« Last Edit: March 28, 2009, 03:16:23 AM by GrumpyOldFart »
Eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog.
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting, lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing.
   - Traditional physical spell components
You put your left foot in, you put your left foot out...
  - Traditional somatic spell components
Ooo Eee Ooo Aaa Aaa, Ting Tang Walla Walla Bing Bang.
   - Traditional verbal spell components
Take the lime and the coconut, and drink them both together.
  - Traditional potion formula

Offline GrumpyOldFart

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Overview: Iame Poinomo, the House of Many Names
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2009, 06:31:42 AM »
Background Part II: Seekers, Magic, Capitalism and Big Rocks.

Rockhounds weren’t TGL’s only project. While they kept raising and refining rockhounds, they were also trying to realize one of man's oldest dreams: To live on another world, orbiting another star.

There had never been a consensus between organizations wealthy enough to fund interstellar travel, and in the opinions of the backers of TGL, there likely never would. It was the old paradox: Getting clear of the potential damage man could do his environment required a major leap in technology. That leap was unlikely to become available without being driven by the kind of war that ends up killing the entire system. The only practical answer was to find ways to make explorers and colonies self-sustaining from the moment they left orbit, so the 'up front' costs would be minimal. Much of the mechanics of such enclosed ecosystems had already been worked out, but once again the breakdown came in human terms. It was not ecosystems, but human societies that could not survive generations adrift in space, human skills, knowledge and emotions that twisted into odd, often self-destructive arrangements when isolated. Once again, apparently the problem was having the wrong kind of humans.

What was needed was a human who could wait patiently for the next piece of a puzzle for a thousand years or more. What was needed was a human truly suited for a low gravity or freefall environment, with muscle mass spread evenly through the body, and the eel-like grace such a human would need to be fully functional in three dimensions. It would not need to be abnormally strong, but would need a long reach and good moment arm. What was needed was a human whose body would stay viable, "young" if you will, and heal itself with near perfection, so that essentially the same people could step out of a spacecraft after a thousand year journey as had stepped into it. What was needed was a human who could be so easygoing and so charming as to spend a thousand years with someone in the close confines of a spacecraft and not murder them. They "succeeded" in September of 2136. They called them seekers, and the seekers called themselves the Zayende.

During the development of rockhounds and seekers, great strides were made in understanding genetics, and some have argued that it reached the point of hubris by the time the first seekers were born. Among the things learned was something implicit but (until then) unrecognized in the works of classical physicists from the century before. The work of Einstein, Heisenberg and Schrodinger among others had taken note that the presence, placement, movement, even the state of mind of an observer changed the state of that which was observed. Any part of the universe could in fact be in several states of existence at once, and some of them did not exist until they were observed. TGL genetic research found vestigial areas of the brain which, like ears and vocal cords, were specifically designed to perceive and use particular energy forms. But unlike the classical energy forms, these energies did not, in the usual sense, exist at all until and unless you believed they did.

People like Rasputin, Joan of Arc and many others had been accused of “sorcery” in earlier ages, but there was always the accusation standing alone, the supportive evidence never bore it out. Many, many studies had been done into the possibility of “magic” and “paranormal abilities”, and the results had always been found to either be a hoax or, at best, were inconclusive. Now the reason why was understood. The very fact of the observers’ objectivity prevented the possibility of proof. Among the things that went into the design of seekers were an aptitude for “psionics”, as it was called at the time.

Another idea for interstellar colonization was to come up with a species to serve as a scout. Dogs are fine, but they can’t fly at all, they can’t swim very well, they are too easy to kill and, even when everything else works, there is a sharp limit to how coherently they can report what they experience. Besides, their life cycle is too short. Something else was needed.

Intelligence was easy, designing seekers had taught them much about the nature of the mind. Psionics were added in, too. They were made to live thousands of years, to heal even better than the zayende, and to go dormant in times of little food, so as not to place undue strain on a ship’s ecosystem.

Armor and weapons were harder, as it involved changing how bone and skin are produced, and what they are made of. The real stumbling block was mobility. Bits of genetic code were incorporated from all sorts of species, including some taken from pre-Cambrian ‘fossil ice cores’ obtained from Antarctica, or so it was rumored. The result was about the size of an adult male lion, with a hide nearly as tough as that of a rhinoceros. And yes, with the help of its psionics, the thing could fly. They approved the design in 2141 and called them guardians, the Keturi. It was the first sextopod, neither reptile, bird nor mammal, but an entirely new order of chordate life.

Other things had happened in the sixty-five years since the first rockhounds, or "!uxe" as the called themselves (pronounced as "cookie", replacing the 'c' and 'k' sounds with a palatal click). The Moon colony had become four colonies, the Mars colony had become five. A third skyhook had been built in Borneo. Short landings had been made on the dark side of Mercury. The !uxe now numbered over a hundred thousand throughout the asteroid belt. Space mining had become hugely profitable, so much so that the "System Futures Market", an organization vaguely akin to a stock exchange and reminiscent of the British East India Company, set up a Mars office in Coprates Chasma and had an "inspection fleet" of some dozens of ships used to control !uxe mining with the ruthlessness of any slave trade. Over 90% of the hard resources easily available off Earth passed through the hands of the !uxe, the group of people with the fewest rights, where they had any at all. Somebody was bound to take advantage, and they did.

It is said by some that every !uxe who ever drew breath is always looking for an excuse to feel offended and retaliate. Regardless of whether or to what degree that is true, the fact remains that the !uxe were not specifically designed to be easygoing as the zayende were. They were superior to “normal” humanity and they knew it, as anything that was not superior had been ruthlessly culled. But the fringes, and indeed the cream, of that inferior society preyed upon them, and the body of that society offered them no protection.

Some !uxe, as well as some humans, had been working for their legal rights for more than a generation. But even after sixty-five years, and even using the most generous estimates, there were fewer than a quarter million of them. Less than even the tiniest of nations, smaller even than many large towns, fewer than the populations of Mars or the moon, and spread out over an immense distance. Worse, the people with the authority and position to help them were often the very investors profiting most heavily by the existing state of affairs. But even without that, there were just too few of them to matter in the big scheme of things.

The descendants of the !uxe have a reputation for not suffering abuse well. It is doubtful they would wait sixty-five years as their ancestors did. Regardless, at some point the !uxe decided the time for talking was over. Instead of delivering several thousand tons of refined metal to Arean parking orbit, they delivered several thousand tons of slag to the System Futures Market in Coprates Chasma at Arean terminal velocity. Within the next twelve hours, over 70% of the ‘inspection fleet’ was ambushed and seized, and not a single craft ever made it back to any base.
The Kindred Wars had begun.

Edit 2/12: Changed the location of Paradise Station from an atoll in the Western Pacific to Borneo.

Edit 3/29 10:45 pm CDT, edited for new names.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2009, 04:55:00 AM by GrumpyOldFart »
Eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog.
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting, lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing.
   - Traditional physical spell components
You put your left foot in, you put your left foot out...
  - Traditional somatic spell components
Ooo Eee Ooo Aaa Aaa, Ting Tang Walla Walla Bing Bang.
   - Traditional verbal spell components
Take the lime and the coconut, and drink them both together.
  - Traditional potion formula

Offline GrumpyOldFart

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Overview: Iame Poinomo, the House of Many Names
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2009, 07:51:38 PM »
The Kindred Wars, Part I: There are some things even a nuke can't take out.

Humanity had spared little thought for the !uxe. The people of the outer colonies knew about them, but 99.9% of humanity had never been off Earth, not even as far as a skyhook space station. There were no !uxe on Earth and the combined human population of the colonies was still less than the population of Ireland.

But now, all that had changed. The lump of slag dropped on Coprates Chasma became a “rock” and then a “bomb” in media reports within 24 hours. While fewer than five thousand had been directly killed by the impact, nearly fifty thousand had died when the impact rendered the rest of the works near Coprates Chasma uninhabitable. In addition over five hundred ‘inspectors’ had been presumably killed. Those ‘inspectors’ had been the closest thing to a police force that existed in the empty spaces between colonies. In fact they were the first, and at that time the only, human spacecraft ever to have weapons designed into the original plans. While “police farce” may have been more accurate, nonetheless the story that carried the day was that the !uxe had bombed Mars killing fifty thousand civilians, and had ambushed and murdered the entire in-system police force.

The reaction of the uninformed, underinformed or misinformed billions was predictable. All engineered life of any kind became suspect. The senior executives of TGL and its parent corporation were called into national and international courts to testify. News reporting began to have a “the danger of the monsters we’ve created” theme underlying it. Plans were made to build warships, and to buy up existing ships and refit them for war.

The first priority was to protect the remaining Arean colonies that were “at the mercy of terrorist insurgents”. There was a pressing demand for a “strong force to restore order and the rule of law” in the middle system. Of course from the !uxe point of view, that was precisely what they had just done. They had brought down an organized crime syndicate and its enforcement arm. They were using the remains of the inspection fleet to police that part of middle system traffic most economically important and most subject to criminal activity, in other words the mining industry. They could ill afford the manpower to police everything, but they had already seen the consequences of leaving it in others’ hands. And of course, once they had heard the reaction up from Earth, they really had no choice but to police Earth – Mars traffic as well.

When the first refitted ships went to Mars to “protect the Arean colonies”, the !uxe insisted on stopping them, inspecting them, disarming them, just as you would expect. And just as you would expect, the commanders and crews of those ships refused to allow anything of the kind. The outcome was a foregone conclusion, as the !uxe had a few dozen armed spacecraft and several thousand small, unarmed spacecraft that could be modified. The humans had a few dozen unarmed freighters and a grand total of four ships that had been modified to be armed, all of which were there.

Of course, the billions on earth had all the infrastructure, the manufacturing base, they could produce a dozen dreadnoughts before the !uxe could produce a single new ship. Or could they? Over the preceding two-thirds of a century, manufacturing had adjusted to a new paradigm. Steel mills still had the tools to shape metal, but none to refine it from raw ore. For too many years there had been no point, freefall refineries could achieve higher purity at a lower cost. A lot of planning in all fields, not least spacecraft design, had assumed the availability of many materials that simply could not be created in a gravity well, regardless of cost or labor. To be sure, the largest manufacturers of those materials were the space stations in orbit around Earth, but defending the stations or the colonies either one was doubtful at best. Defending both at once was out of the question.

The !uxe had ‘bombed’ Coprates Chasma and seized the inspection fleet late in 2143. In the summer of 2144, they had fought and beaten the four armed ships Earth governments had at their disposal at the time. By mid 2145, all the space stations had been attacked, and Halfway Station above Quito had been hit so many times it was effectively uninhabitable. The ‘elevator’ still worked, but there was no way to guarantee power and pressure between the elevator docks and the spacecraft docks, nor anywhere else for that matter. Worse, the attacks had made people aware of the dangers posed by breaking the cable. The station was barely beyond stationary orbit, just enough to keep the cable taut. If the cable broke, the end still attached to earth would wrap itself around the equator, hitting the ground at over a thousand miles per hour.

Something had to be done, and it was. The !uxe had found that their most effective tactic was to swarm the opposition with small one or two man spacecraft, as they had tens of thousands of them and the manufacturing base to make more. But when they tried this tactic at Sunnyside Station over Kenya late in 2149, several nations were ready for them. There are few places to hide in space, so they knew the !uxe were coming days before they got there. By the time they arrived, Sunnyside had been evacuated, and several nations had modified ICBMs as ground-to-orbit missiles.

Sunnyside Station itself survived, although it was heavily damaged and irradiated. How many of the !uxe were killed is not known, as no remains were recovered and their numbers were never tallied. That’s when the long range bombardment began.

Canaveral. Kapustin Yar. Baikonur. Kourou. Gorman. Norfolk. Tanegashima. Cheyenne Mountain. Woomera. Socorro. Lake Kickapoo. Maui. Hundreds of rocks were dropped, from too far away for anyone on Earth to do anything about those dropping them. Nor would it have done a lot of good had they been able to attack those who were dropping rocks, there were simply too many targets. The !uxe had endless small spacecraft, and the vast majority of them had been specifically designed to tow asteroids. Often over a dozen rocks were dropped on any given day.

Many missiles were fired in an attempt to stop them, with mixed results. A nuclear warhead impacting an asteroid could reduce it to vapor or small chunks, but nuclear missile guidance systems had long been designed on the premise that pinpoint accuracy was not necessary, you only had to be close enough for the target to be in the primary blast radius. Fair enough with a city, even with specially hardened buildings. But a near miss that would still scour a major city clean at ground level would just shove an asteroid aside, or break it up into several “calves”.

Thus, NORAD under Cheyenne Mountain never took a direct hit, but this was no comfort to the people of Denver, who took one of NORAD’s misses, nor to Colorado Springs which took another. Lake Kickapoo was missed at first, and Wichita Falls took the hit instead. Naturally, the people of Earth blamed the !uxe and not NORAD for the “atrocities”. And of course, with randomly shaped rocks tumbling in the atmosphere, the accuracy of the !uxe was nothing to brag about in the first place.

Some places the poor accuracy was not a factor, such as at Kourou, Tanegashima and Canaveral. Rocks that “missed” these coastal areas tended to land in the ocean, and tsunamis often did the work the rock itself had failed to do. But of course, coastal strikes didn’t just affect the intended target, but wiped out coastal cities for hundreds or thousands of miles in all directions. And again, the !uxe were “mass murderers”.

Nonetheless, the governments of Earth managed to launch warships from Plesetsk and Taiyuan. While they succeeded in destroying hundreds of !uxe ships and bases, their overall effectiveness was minor. There were simply too many !uxe, spread out over too large an area.

One of Earth’s warships did not go after the !uxe, however. Many among Earth’s decision makers thought that all created life was dangerous, and that it was only a matter of time before the zayende joined in the war. So while the other ships were hunting !uxe, one went high above the ecliptic, avoiding the rest of the conflict until it came to its target: Titan.

TGL on Titan was bombed out of existence. Everything for many miles in all directions was turned into a coating of radioactive slag. The zayende and the scientists who created them were no longer a problem, or so everyone thought. In fact, the zayende and the TGL scientists had already decided that the people of Earth were likely to come to such a conclusion, and had quietly evacuated to Mars a year before. Nonetheless, the bombing of Titan proved to them what they had only suspected up until that time: They too were in a war for their very survival, whether they liked it or not.

As circumstances permitted, many zayende joined evacuations from stricken Arean colonies back to Earth. Yes, they were "inspected" by !uxe on the way back home, but since the ships were unarmed and contained basically nothing but refugees, the "returning humans" were allowed to "go back home" with little trouble.The people of Earth now had an enemy in their midst of which they were unaware.

So things continued, and might have continued for the rest of the century, had it not been for two rocks whose effect no one had foreseen, one because it was on target, and the other because it was not.

Edit 3/29 10:50 pm CDT: Edited for names.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2009, 03:52:38 AM by GrumpyOldFart »
Eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog.
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting, lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing.
   - Traditional physical spell components
You put your left foot in, you put your left foot out...
  - Traditional somatic spell components
Ooo Eee Ooo Aaa Aaa, Ting Tang Walla Walla Bing Bang.
   - Traditional verbal spell components
Take the lime and the coconut, and drink them both together.
  - Traditional potion formula

Offline GrumpyOldFart

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Re: Overview: Iame Poinomo, the House of Many Names
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2009, 06:28:22 AM »
The Kindred Wars, Part II: Oops …

Paradise Station was the newest of the skyhooks, and its operations were just hitting their stride when people suddenly became very aware of the dangers of a broken cable. It was estimated that if the cable broke near the top, the entirety of Earth’s land surface within 50 miles of the equator would be devastated, sheared clean of all life, even microbes. Many possible solutions were bandied about, none of them entirely satisfactory. The one that was finally implemented was a twist on a century old idea for space exploration known as the Orion Program.

The original Orion idea from the 1950’s was simple: Build a large ship, the bigger the better. Mount it on a huge steel plate. Light off a nuclear bomb beneath the plate. Count on it, that sucker will move. Before it begins to fall back to earth, light off another one. There was no practical limit to the weight that could be lofted into space using such a method, and very little limit to how quickly it could be sent aloft. The people of Borneo weren’t happy of course, but it was pointed out to them that the only time it would be used would be when it was a choice of having tightly focused, controlled destruction near the center of the island, or Borneo being crippled by a swath of destruction running the width of the island, wiping out everything south of Kuching and north of Balikpapan. In the end, an Orion-style launch system was incorporated into the base of Paradise Station.

No one actually expected it to ever be used. And then one day in the spring of 2155, two rocks were dropped that changed everything.

The rock dropped on Paradise Base hit where it was expected to, nothing succeeded in pushing it aside or blowing it up. It did not, however, destroy Paradise Base. The ‘fail safe cable defense system’ launched with only seconds to spare. The launch system had been designed to automatically put everything attached to the base, along with the cable and the station itself if necessary, into a high but recoverable orbit. But no one had figured in the effects of the vapor plume from an asteroid strike just below it, mere seconds after launch. Paradise Base was launched on a trajectory that would, in time, take it out of the solar system entirely, towing the Station behind it.

The other rock was nothing short of a monumental blunder, as well as a monumental tragedy. The intended target was Uchinoura Space Center on Kyushu, the southernmost of the Home Islands of Japan. The rock was successfully fired upon, but not destroyed. Instead, it was pushed off course and landed in Tokyo Bay. The most populous city on Earth vanished utterly within minutes. But that was only the beginning.

Rocks had landed on Tokyo, on Maui, on Shemya in the Aleutian islands, on many places around the Pacific Rim. Every one of those rocks had rung the Pacific Plate like an immense gong. When the strikes at Paradise and Tokyo landed near the western edge of the plate within hours of one another, things finally began to come apart.

Kluchevskoy, Sakurajima, Whitney, Rainier, Shasta, Cotopaxi, Paracutin, Popocatépetl… nearly every active volcano in the Pacific Ring of Fire erupted, as well as many that had been long dormant, and some few that had been considered extinct. In less than six months, Earth began to resemble a miniature Jupiter, with its bands of brown and white clouds covering nearly the entire surface. Rains that had once been the lifeblood of the world’s crops now buried those crops beneath layers of salty mud and saturated volcanic ash that hardened into something akin to concrete.

There was virtually no harvest that year, nor the next year, nor the next. For most of the world’s “breadbasket” regions, summer never came.

In one sense, the Kindred War ended that day in 2155. In another, the very worst of it began. Certainly from that day forward the people of Earth had more pressing issues than !uxe, even with the possibility of more rocks. As it happened, several more fell over the next few days, but within a week it was obvious that something as ‘minor’ as the destruction of Tokyo would go almost unnoticed in the general background of chaos. Most coastal cities, including every human habitation on the Pacific Rim, were quite simply gone. From Los Angeles to London, New York, Houston, Cairo, Mumbai, Sydney… they once again became the beaches, swamps and deltas they had been. Trade of any kind came to a virtual halt. Most of the cities that still existed were scrambling to avoid riots over food and fuel.

In the colonies they were beginning to realize how many things had been produced on Earth that simply weren’t going to be available anymore, at any price. The colonies might have had new resources and techniques, but in a very real sense Earth had all the manpower and production lines. A loss of resources that would be crippling to a city on Earth meant death to all life of any kind in a colony. The closest any colony had come to true self-sufficiency was the Arean colony at Coprates Chasma. But of course, that was the one that had been bombed. Where the summer of ’55 saw riots on Earth over food, it saw riots in the colonies over places on spacecraft bound for Earth.

Worse still was the effect of magic. For nearly ten years before the war began TGL had made money hand over fist engineering ova to produce psionic children. It was by far their best selling modification among prospective parents wanting “superior” children. Not only that, psionics was only a minor modification of a condition already latent in the human brain. Everyone had the potential to use it. The only difference between those engineered for it and those who were not was that the “changelings” had the ability enhanced, and of course they were aware of it from childhood. Much had been made about how the benefits to society would be “as sweeping as those brought by the discovery of electricity.” While that was true as far as it went, it didn’t go nearly far enough. The benefits were far reaching, but so were the dangers. And the change was far, far more sweeping than the discovery of electricity. It was as sweeping as the discovery of fire. Suddenly everyone everywhere had the ability, through sheer belief and force of will, to make their dreams come true.

Remember some of your dreams?

The problem wasn’t the ability to make your dreams come true, it was making your nightmares not come true that was the difficult part. And what happens when millions of people all die within minutes of one another, all with their beliefs, worries and fears sharpened to a pinpoint and focused on the same event? While of course it can’t be proven, many theologians suspect that the God of chaos and madness had His beginnings in the death of Tokyo. It is quite certain that modern vampires owe their existence to early attempts at magic.

Hundreds of rocks had been dropped on Earth, their mass and energy added in to the planet’s tectonics and hydrology, and their dust added to the skies. Over a thousand nuclear weapons had been detonated within Earth’s magnetosphere, and the fallout of those explosions would be settling to Earth for decades or centuries to come. The civilizations of Earth had been shattered, and the surviving refugees of the colonies, zayende, !uxe and humans all, had returned to fight over the few remaining scraps. Everyone on Earth had the power to reshape their world, and not one knew how to control that power. The darkened skies grew colder and dumped their moisture as snow, a trend that would continue for centuries. People might argue about exactly when Earth’s “Golden Age” was, but no one doubted that it was over.

Edit 3/29 11:00 pm CDT: Edited for names.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2009, 04:01:20 AM by GrumpyOldFart »
Eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog.
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting, lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing.
   - Traditional physical spell components
You put your left foot in, you put your left foot out...
  - Traditional somatic spell components
Ooo Eee Ooo Aaa Aaa, Ting Tang Walla Walla Bing Bang.
   - Traditional verbal spell components
Take the lime and the coconut, and drink them both together.
  - Traditional potion formula

Offline GrumpyOldFart

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Re: Overview: Iame Poinomo, the House of Many Names
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2009, 12:15:49 AM »
Fimbulwinter, Part I: Lebensraum

In 2155 the war ended, and the dying began.


To be sure, there was no shortage of death before, nor any dearth of wars after. But in a practical sense, the Kindred War ended with Tokyo Bay. The !uxe had fought a primarily defensive war all along, a war of resistance rather than of conquest. When the people of Earth could no longer spare the attention for offense, the perceived need for defense likewise lapsed. In both environments, people had more immediate and pressing concerns. Like food.

The !uxe had always felt secure in the knowledge that every place grew food, that there would always be farming communities willing to trade food for metals, finished goods for raw materials.

But the people on Mars were evacuating, they were abandoning their farms. The people on the Moon were still farming, true, but they had hardly any manufacturing base. The people of Earth, even had they not considered the !uxe enemies, could no longer even feed themselves.

Finished goods? By the standards of a newly spacefaring culture, there was no such thing anymore. Trade in various forms limped along for a little while, every year a pale shadow of the year before, and finally died. When sunlight was denied to Earth, a “cascade breakdown” sequence followed. When crops died, the dependent food chain died. When the food chain died, the dependent manufacturing chain died. When the manufacturing chain died, the dependent trade chain died. Everyone had known that Earth dominated humanity… but no one had foreseen to what degree.

Within 2 years the colonies on Mars were wholly abandoned. The Moon colonies had grown enough to survive, barely hanging on, for decades. No one knows what their end was, as communication between colonies with no ships, no trade resources and no stable governments became pointless very quickly.

There may have been refugees still left on Titan, or Callisto, or Ganymede. No one knows. There may have been a scattered few hanging on at Noctis Labyrinthus on Mars. No one knows. The members of the scientific enclave on the back side of Mercury, or the crew of the Venerian Terraforming Pilot Project, may have made it back to Earth, or may have been stuck there forever. No one knows.

There may even be !uxe living in hollowed out asteroids to this day. No one knows.


On Earth, where nearly the totality of life, of trade, of production had been concentrated, there had been a paradigm shift that would be felt for centuries. For years, the air anywhere on Earth smelled of death. The water tasted of death. The food, when food could be had, tasted of death. People died in freak blizzards in Baghdad, Hanoi and Sao Paulo. The wars changed focus as the freezing, starving peoples of the temperate zones in desperation tried to take over the tropics. Those countries in the temperate zones had been the industrial base of all humanity. Now that base slowly fell apart as it was attacked or abandoned, and as the endless plains of the Mississippi basin and the Ukraine turned into cold deserts. In the space of 50 years, the amount of arable land dropped to less than half. Few weapons of mass destruction were used, but not out of humanitarian concerns. Most of the nukes had been used in space, and the top priority was that land taken in war could be lived on afterwards.

A once interplanetary economy had become global, then continental, then national, then regional, then tribal. Loss of communications, knowledge and records followed the same path in its wake. Experiments in the new arts of magic were tried, in hopes of halting the collapse. After all, people could remake the world in the image of their beliefs, could they not? And to be sure, some attempts had positive results. Some did not. All of them, even the ‘successes’, failed to take into account that all things in the universe interlock with one another, that you cannot change just one thing and leave all else the same. A lot of damage was done, and a lot of things previously taken for granted about how life works were changed, before people realized that magic cannot be made to work as simply as it does in children’s stories. In the process, people also found that there are many things in human minds that really shouldn’t ever see the light of day.

While records are of course sketchy, it appears that many of the modern world’s “scavenging monsters”, along with nearly all modern concepts of the undead, date to this period.
Eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog.
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting, lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing.
   - Traditional physical spell components
You put your left foot in, you put your left foot out...
  - Traditional somatic spell components
Ooo Eee Ooo Aaa Aaa, Ting Tang Walla Walla Bing Bang.
   - Traditional verbal spell components
Take the lime and the coconut, and drink them both together.
  - Traditional potion formula

Offline GrumpyOldFart

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Re: Overview: Iame Poinomo, the House of Many Names
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2009, 05:13:13 AM »
Fimbulwinter, Part II: Apartheid

The zayende were very tolerant of extremes of heat and cold and, being very long-lived, were able to keep their knowledge base much more intact than other groups. But whether or not temperature was a factor, food certainly was. Most zayende roamed the sub-artic areas, settling in sheltered microclimates far north or south of where you’d expect them to be. Few in numbers, distrustful of the violence they had seen from both humans and !uxe, supremely patient and designed to explore new planets, they disappeared into the wild places and were rarely seen or heard of for millennia.

The zayende had been taught as life sciences engineers, expected to go into a hostile environment of which they had no knowledge at all, and make something habitable and productive. But since mankind’s experience of different worlds was starkly limited, the vast majority of their teaching was from lessons learned on the very world now beneath their feet. As a group, their knowledge of their environment and how to bend it to their will was perhaps unsurpassed in the history of the Kindred.

On the down side, they had expected to have all the resources of a colony ship. Instead, they had landed piecemeal, as scattered bands of refugees. Groups of zayende occasionally met and merged, but on the whole they had neither the communications nor the transportation to band together as a unified whole.

The zayende have perhaps been bolder than others of the Kindred when shaping their environment, but they had more knowledge to back up what they did, too. The bad news was, only real resource they had to manage their environment was magic.

There’s an old, old saying: “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

Probably every creature on Earth that has ever worn the label “monster” has been blamed on zayende meddling at one time or another. In fairness, much of it is probably true. The zayende are more likely to have included all the little details to fit a creature to its environment than anyone else. They are more likely to have known such details even existed. Luckily for us all, the creative mistakes of others of the Kindred, while often more horrible, are much less likely to breed true.

Moreover, a number of ecological successes bear the earmarks of zayende work as well. Many, many places all over the world would be much less forgiving environments were it not for infestations of various fae. And while there is no direct proof, there is a huge body of circumstantial evidence to suggest that fae are an example of “zayende meddling” that was allowed to ‘go native’, probably intentionally. Certainly the modern pharmacopeia would be quite different (and a good deal less effective) were it not for “zayende meddling”, not to mention the various types of magical woods.

They were terraformers in a hostile environment, with only one tool at their disposal. They “taught the plants to grow”.

Perhaps the only thing modern zayende can be counted on to agree about is that unicorns are not their fault. But of course, no one believes them.

* * *

The !uxe did exactly what one would expect them to do. They went down. Pogroms, wipe out campaigns? No problem bud, come down the hole after me. They were microgravity miners, no one was going to get the advantage of them in a 3 dimensional maze. Fortunately, most cities across the world had sewer, aqueduct and drainage systems already in place, so there were a lot of “temporary shelter” options.

Nonetheless, in the long run they were facing the same problem as the zayende. There were simply too many humans and too few !uxe. They had to find ways to live quietly in the margins while the humans’ wars over farmland raged. And if they didn’t want to find themselves forced into that war, they had to find other ways to farm.

To be sure, a !uxe doesn’t need to farm on the surface, in fact they felt uncomfortable doing so. Farms are supposed to be in tunnels. But in the asteroids, where they’d done such farming, they had endless sunpower at their disposal. Here, under the ground, under the continuous cloud cover? Not so much.

The !uxe ended up “digging in” in places such as Afghanistan, Laos and the Altoplano. They farmed or ranched when and where they could. When they couldn’t… they starved.

* * *

The humans weren’t worried about the zayende, weren’t worried about the !uxe. When and if they even knew the !uxe and zayende were there, they didn’t care. They were too busy worrying about the other humans.

They fought modern wars until they ran out of missiles.

They fought the last century’s wars until they ran out of bullets.

They fought the wars of a millennium before until they ran out of crossbow bolts.

They fought the wars of two millennia before until they ran out of blacksmiths.

And then they fought with sticks and stones.

And when the last of the warriors was buried, the only places humans were “civilized” were the Burmese peninsula, the Indian peninsula, and the basins of the Zaire and Amazon rivers.
Eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog.
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting, lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing.
   - Traditional physical spell components
You put your left foot in, you put your left foot out...
  - Traditional somatic spell components
Ooo Eee Ooo Aaa Aaa, Ting Tang Walla Walla Bing Bang.
   - Traditional verbal spell components
Take the lime and the coconut, and drink them both together.
  - Traditional potion formula

Offline GrumpyOldFart

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Re: Overview: Iame Poinomo, the House of Many Names
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2009, 03:09:44 AM »
Paradise Station: Won’t you pack your bags, we’ll leave tonight.

History says that Paradise Station was slingshotted on a course that took it out of the solar system entirely. Which of course begs the question: Did anyone actually look?

In the spring of 2155, Paradise Station was the only one of the 3 stations that had not been attacked, and those who lived there were well aware of it. To many people this would suggest that it would be nearly deserted, but in fact the opposite was the case. The 3 stations were the backbone of orbital manufacturing and, by the time the attacks had begun, very few finished goods didn’t have something in them that simply could not be produced in a gravity well.

But Halfway Station over Quito was abandoned, and Sunnyside over Kenya was heavily damaged. There was a war on. Paradise Station was running nearly at capacity, both in terms of population and manufacturing production, when the rock hit below.

The combination of the launch system and the vapor plume below it put a lot more acceleration behind the base’s launch than the designers had bargained for. It is unlikely that anyone within the base survived the launch. If they did, they were stuck 22,000 miles from the nearest permanent habitation, with no ships and some very unforgiving vacuum in between.

On the other end, Paradise Station was cracked like a whip by the unusual acceleration. With over 120,000 of its 144,000 population capacity aboard, it is a near certainty that at least 10,000 people were killed or badly injured by falls, mass shifting under changing acceleration vectors, pressure vessels “blowing out” under strain, or missiles composed of small items that came loose. It is doubtful in the extreme that they had medical facilities or doctors to treat even half their casualties.

It is unknown what ships, if any, were docked at the station when it left orbit, nor is it known whether any ship that was docked could have survived the stresses. With little enough damage from the launch and a lot of luck concerning the station’s trajectory, it could possibly have survived. However in less than a year, no one was pointing telescopes or antennae at the sky anymore, so ultimately their fate is unknown.

The zayende were life systems engineers, trained to make productive sense from strange environments. Paradise likewise had its share of life support engineers, working within the system they were most familiar with. Unlike those on Earth however, the engineers aboard Paradise Station did not have the spare resources of a habitable planet on which to draw. Their margin of error was zero.

Eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog.
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting, lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing.
   - Traditional physical spell components
You put your left foot in, you put your left foot out...
  - Traditional somatic spell components
Ooo Eee Ooo Aaa Aaa, Ting Tang Walla Walla Bing Bang.
   - Traditional verbal spell components
Take the lime and the coconut, and drink them both together.
  - Traditional potion formula

Offline GrumpyOldFart

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Re: Overview: Iame Poinomo, the House of Many Names
« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2009, 06:41:41 AM »
Evolution, Part I:”I want this… and that…” “Well then you gotta take the other, it’s a set.” – George Carlin

The ability in humans to use “magic” was “discovered” in 2092. In truth, the ability had been there all along, but few ever recognized it for what it was. Unexplainable “flaws” in various scientific theories long accepted as fact had hinted at its existence, but the subjects of those theories and laws were so widely diverse that no one ever thought the flaws might have a common source. Relativity, gravitation, plate tectonics, evolution, genetics, psychology… the “big picture” of the sciences had never grown so large and detailed that the common thread could be discerned.

Unexplainable objects and events challenged the truth of what people labeled “reality” almost on a daily basis, but were explained away as the ravings of “kooks” precisely because there was no way to reconcile such objects and events with observed reality and the known to be flawed laws and theories that could almost explain that reality. To be sure, most of those who told of such objects and events were mad. It’s a predictable effect of having various parts of your perceived environment, all equally and demonstrably real, that simply will not reconcile with one another.

The fact that they were often insane says nothing about whether or not their observations were accurate.

When TGL engineers first found the areas of the brain designed to deal with the energy later known as mili, they didn’t know what they were or what they did. Several subjects were raised in TGL’s hazardous environment lab on Triton, with the ‘milic system’ enhanced or changed in various ways. Eventually they found a connection between the effectiveness of milic output, the beliefs and knowledge of the subject, and external phenomena that were at best unlikely and in some cases catastrophic. Over the next 30 years, they discovered the basic principles underlying what was then called ‘psionics’, the forerunner of what is nowadays called ‘theoretical magic’, ‘High magic’, ‘chaos magic’ or ‘sorcery’:

1.   The observer changes what he observes by observing it. While this statement is true, it is only true to precisely the same degree as “the observer” is capable of the phenomenon of belief. In other words, the observer changes what he observes only and exactly to the extent that the act of observing confirms, disproves, or refines a previously existing expectation or speculation. Scientific research affects observed phenomena less than expected because some research has no preconceived expectations. The larger the body of “known” science gets, the less common that becomes.

2.   Any entity whose concept of time is too simplified to allow expectation or speculation does not change what it observes. This falls fairly closely along the division popularly known as “sentience”.

3.   Belief is not a power source, but rather a control. What constitutes the true power source of magic has been argued for millennia and probably will be argued until the end of time, like the source of gravity. But just as ignorance of gravity’s true source and properties didn’t affect the builders of the Great Pyramid’s confidence that the stones would stay where they’d put them, so our ignorance of the true sources of magic doesn’t prevent us from shaping that power by our beliefs.

4.   All sentient creatures believe something, all the time. The more “fully sentient” a species is, the more likely its members are to believe several things, even mutually contradictory things, simultaneously. This injects a constant stream of randomized, low-level magic into the universe at all times. Most of what a “spell” works against in changing part of local reality is not reality itself, but rather the inertia of the “reality by consensus” agreed to by the local sentient species. Keep in mind that “local” in this usage means “sharing the same planet”. To be sure, the battle of wills between “yes I can” on the caster’s part and “on no you can’t” on the target’s part is there, it’s the major reason why spells can be resisted. But the “perceived reality inertia” is always there, and has to be dealt with even when a casting does not have a sentient target.

5.   Magic has a “built in safety valve” of sorts, although that’s a poor choice of words as it’s not actually safe at all. That is that the effects are only as accurate, as complete, as practical as the worldview that enables them. If the caster’s visualization (of how the universe must work in order for his spell effect to exist) is sloppy, unrealistic or incomplete, so the result will be sloppy, unrealistic or incomplete in equal measure. The result will either be an unworkable effect or an effect that acts as a power sink, drawing more and more mili to feed an impossible effect. It’s similar in principle to a short circuit in an electrical line, and the usual result is that the caster acts as a fuse and spontaneously combusts.

5a. This is why so many attack spells have durations measured in tiny fractions of a second. The idea is to ‘short’ the target (make him the focal point of dangerous amounts of energy) without shorting the caster. Note that most spells of any kind act as a power sink to some degree, as they assert a local reality that is at best improbable as a natural occurrence. Thus most spells of any type have a finite (usually short) duration, and this is one of the major reasons why the creation of permanent magic is the most time intensive method of magic use.

5b. Because the accuracy of effect is tied to the accuracy of the mind and worldview that produced it, magic users often consider an eclectic and in-depth education as “survival skills”. For example if he wishes to be “safe” when constructing a large illusion, a magic user needs to see the landscape that is his setting at least as skillfully as a master landscape artist. To change the weather safely requires a grounding in meteorology, etc. This is the other major reason why permanently emplaced magic is so time intensive, because it has to mesh with its surroundings so perfectly that the pattern never collapses. This is not to say magic cannot be done without such knowledge, only that without it such magic will be by comparison short-lived, expensive, unsafe and unpredictable. The modern vernacular for such magic is “hedge wizardry”.

6.   Clandestine experiments in less remote places confirmed that proximity to objects or places popularly believed to be “sacred” or just “weird” increased access to power, but with no corresponding increase in control. The test near Axum, Ethiopia was reported by the regular news agencies as a terrorist plot gone awry. The test in the Cydonia region was reported as a “meteor strike” by the regular news agencies and as “Alien Spaceship Crashes Into the Face on Mars” in the tabloids.


When the zayende were created, their milic systems were enhanced as well as the understanding of the time could achieve. In reality, that wasn’t much. What made more difference was natural aptitudes for mathematics, music and spatial relations. They perceived their environment accurately and in depth, and described it with precision.

Armed with no more than that, the study of magic was born, as the zayende escaped and hid among Earth’s teeming billions. It is said that what followed shows what happens when people who live forever have too much time on their hands.

Edit: H/T to AncientMinded87 for the note about defining "local" and the "contest of wills" aspect.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2009, 08:18:49 AM by GrumpyOldFart »
Eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog.
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting, lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing.
   - Traditional physical spell components
You put your left foot in, you put your left foot out...
  - Traditional somatic spell components
Ooo Eee Ooo Aaa Aaa, Ting Tang Walla Walla Bing Bang.
   - Traditional verbal spell components
Take the lime and the coconut, and drink them both together.
  - Traditional potion formula

Offline GrumpyOldFart

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Re: Overview: Iame Poinomo, the House of Many Names
« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2009, 07:22:14 AM »
Evolution, Part II: “Is it any wonder, I’ve got too much time on my hands…” - Styx

This document will not attempt to date the various major discoveries in the evolution of the magical arts (and by extension, much of the evolution of species). Failures of record keeping can only become so extensive before the concept of fixing a date becomes meaningless. However, events can be placed in a chronological sequence with a fair amount of certainty, and the obvious variations on magic use resulting from those events noted.
Also note that the terms used are approximations. Not only does this serve to dampen and randomize involuntary casting on the part of both author and reader, few languages have the precise concepts at all. You can no more accurately describe magic in English than you can accurately ‘say’ a symphony score in English, for much the same reasons.

1.   As noted above, success in magic is directly dependent on the caster’s ability to precisely define within his worldview and belief the reality in which the spell effect could naturally occur. To that end, the zayende created a specialized notation to express such things with the needed precision. In its beginnings, instructions for a “standing wave”, “power sequence” or “spell” looked like a cross between a calculus equation and sheet music. The central symbols would define a progression of thoughts and feelings, with type and position of modifiers around those central symbols indicating precise shades of meaning and/or emotional context. In many ways this marked the perceptual transition from “psionics” to “magic”. Certainly runecraft is considered the oldest of the “true” magics, and in many ways enabled the creation of all the others.

2.   Traditionally, written languages attempt to express in visual symbology what was until then expressed by symbology of sound patterns and/or hand and body motions. In the case of both the !uxe language family and magical notation, it worked the other way around. Eventually sound patterns and even hand gestures were used to express notational symbols in teaching and conversation between magic users. As always with any verbalizing species, they found that once they had expressed a commonly accepted name for a concept, using the name automatically presented the concept itself in the brain of the person using the name-symbol. This not only allowed runecraft to become a means of storing spells rather than merely teaching casting techniques, it also heralded the advent of speech and motion as casting aids. They are, in effect, runes stored in your head. Further exploration of magical notation, in written, spoken and sign forms, gave rise to the Somatic/Gestural and Verbal/Bardic schools of magical philosophy, and eventually to ritual magic in all its forms. It also made unarmored, lightly dressed magic users the rule, as clumsiness in “stating the pattern” could all too easily be fatal.

3.   As noted above, durable magic is the subtlest and most difficult of magical arts. This is because the caster must not only “state the pattern” in as complete a manner as possible, but must also “state” how that pattern interacts with the time dynamic over the duration of its existence. A permanent, small radius light spell may seem a simple thing, but its pattern has to incorporate the entropy death of the universe to be truly permanent. What is commonly considered permanent is actually merely, “until the energy budget of this planet can no longer sustain it”, a difficult enough incorporation by itself. However, a quick and easy answer to incorporating the time dynamic into a casting was to make the “magic item” a living creature, which already incorporates the time dynamic into its own existence. Like all “quick and easy” answers, it caused as many problems as it solved. Again, such magic was not truly “permanent”, but defined by the life of the creature that was its host. Experimentation in this area resulted in the discovery that “knowings” could be programmed into the structure of the brain (and later even into the genetic code), which gave rise to many different techniques variously called “spell-like abilities”, “blood magic”, “vampirism”, “lycanthropy”, “necromancy”, “vivamancy”, and many others. It also resulted in the creation and release of many new species, some intentional and some not, that fit themselves into the ecosystem and have since evolved on their own.

4.   The importance of time as a factor in “building” or “stating” an energy pattern cannot be overemphasized. It is a large part of what gives ritual magic its power and stability. But it is also responsible for phenomena observed at “holy” places, and perhaps responsible for the existence of the Gods themselves. A “sacred place” is truly a fixed, permanent “magic item”, but no one intentionally created it. It is the result of a general trend in randomized, involuntary magic, working over centuries or millennia. The broader the base of belief in the sacredness of a place/object/concept/philosophy and the longer that belief has to work, the more power access will result and the longer that enhanced access will last without reinforcement. This tends to make the more powerful “sacred” places/objects/etc. self-perpetuating. “Ley-lines” are a fantasy made real by observation. Power access resulting from proximity to a “holy place” varies with distance, and of course if several are in a line power access will be enhanced along more of the area between them than elsewhere. Observation of this phenomenon resulted in the belief in lines of power connecting such places, and again such belief applied over millennia did the work of making it so. Note that much of the difficulty of magic use arises from the fact that most often the caster is a single individual, spending only minutes or even seconds on the precise focus of a belief. Research in this area gave rise to “High” magic, “Divine” magic, “Demonology”, and many other pretentious sounding disciplines. Eventually it also resulted in such spell concepts as hallucination, possession, glamour and charms.
Aside from belief trends resulting in “holy places” etc., the energy of continuous randomized magic doesn’t just go away, it is absorbed by the environment around it. This made no difference when no one believed in magic, nor even when magic was known to exist but “anything that can’t believe can’t change things”. Once it was widely known that all complex structures encoded magical patterns, magic began taking advantage of it. Thus, even “non-magical substances” like common herbs contained bits of patterns that could be drawn upon. Also, nearly everything in an area could be drawn upon for fragmentary information storage of the history of the area itself. This line of research has resulted in most informational-type magic and the bulk of “druidic” magic as well.

5.   The quest for durable magic changed drastically with the discovery that the “knowing” of a spell could be encoded genetically. In a practical sense, it meant that magic could be placed for later use in or on any substance whose composition was complex enough to encode information within it. Thus if the maker of a dragon-slaying weapon required dragon blood as a quench, it was only partly to do with the beliefs involved. It was also because while he could encode magic into the blood trapped in the pores of the steel, he could not encode magic into the steel itself, as it wasn’t complex enough to carry information. This is the source of the preference for organic, if not actually living, substances in various magical techniques. It is also the source of the “you can’t magic iron” tradition.

6.   While many were pursuing magic that could last, other were finding ways to make “short” magic safer and more effective. The fact of not needing a time dynamic vastly simplifies the pattern involved, making many more options available. But as stated above, the trick of a lot of ‘short magic’, especially combat magic, is to dump all available energy in one spot and get out before it feeds back to you too. Such studies were the genesis of Elemental magic (among others), particularly fire magic, as heat is the common waste product of nearly any energy transfer. This type of research also resulted in many of the containment techniques used to avoid and/or minimize “spell failure”. In fact, very little of the casting time of most ‘short’ spells is spent stating the pattern, the bulk is used “putting the safeties in place”. Some consider basing an entire magical philosophy on such a premise to be paranoid. Nonetheless, blowing oneself in half with your own lightning bolt is something that generally only happens to a person once.

7.   The most recent ‘quantum leap’ in magical philosophy is the discovery that patterns and information can not only be encoded into the composition of a substance, but also into its crystal structure. Yes you can “magic iron”, but doing so requires a) a precisely encoded pattern of flaws in the crystal structure, and b) perfect structure everywhere else in the crystal, to avoid random erroneous information. This discovery, even more than biochemical encoding, signaled the birth of modern alchemy.


By the close of the glacial period, most of the foundation of modern magical philosophy had been laid. Like most philosophies, it schismed  and reformed, and traded logical and ethical constructs back and forth among its various parts. In the process, it added to an ecosystem already overburdened with species, and potentially armed everything living with powers guaranteed to evolve and escape their original scope and intention.
Eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog.
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting, lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing.
   - Traditional physical spell components
You put your left foot in, you put your left foot out...
  - Traditional somatic spell components
Ooo Eee Ooo Aaa Aaa, Ting Tang Walla Walla Bing Bang.
   - Traditional verbal spell components
Take the lime and the coconut, and drink them both together.
  - Traditional potion formula

Offline GrumpyOldFart

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Re: Overview: Iame Poinomo, the House of Many Names
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2009, 05:38:11 AM »
New World Order, Part I: “There exists no difference between Gods and men; one blends softly casual into the other.” – Muad’Dib

The zayende, the !uxe and the humans all survived the glacial period. Thousands of years of physical isolation in widely scattered places had resulted in minor genetic differences and ‘drifts’. Each had made blundering contributions to already crippled ecosystems. Many had accidentally or intentionally introduced changes in themselves, creating yet more variation. Each had researched ways to use magic as a tool to shape the environment, and each had both successes and failures to its credit.

The zayende are credited with magical notation (and thus runecraft), the vast majority of ritual magic, and the entire branch of magic concerning life, death and heredity. They are blamed for most undead, particularly those undead who actually fit cleanly into an ecological niche (usually scavengers).

The !uxe are credited with the discovery of pattern storage in crystal flaws, and hence credited with nearly all of modern alchemy/thaumaturgy and the entirety of techniques concerning golems, constructs and automata. They are blamed for most subterranean ‘monsters’ and several parasites.

The humans are credited with most of the ‘safeties’ in modern ‘short magic’ and most of the elemental magics, as well as nearly the whole of informational and utilitarian magic. They are blamed for nearly all ‘composite monsters’, as well as most “living” threats that have no corporeal component (i.e., specters, some demons). They are also credited (or blamed, depending on who you ask) for the existence of most Gods.

Some few “bad ideas” in magic were, in effect, a group effort. As an example, vampires and werewolves had inhabited the human psyche since time immemorial, but magic let them out to play, and zayende life science put the “final polish” on their modern forms.

There are several varieties of human in the modern world. Humans are widely believed to have originally been uniformly brown haired and brown eyed, with tan skin. Modern humans come in all colors of all three, even within the variations that are close enough to interbreed. Skin ranges from a pink so pale it is nearly white, through various reds, yellows and browns to a brown so dark it is nearly pure black. Hair runs in roughly the same color span, though the pale end of the spectrum trends toward yellow rather than red. Eyes tend toward blue, green, brown or black, although red, amber, gold and violet have been reported. Other variations are distinct enough to be called separate species, although many types of “mutt” human hybrids are still able to breed true.

The !uxe and the zayende also have several varieties. In the case of the !uxe, much of the drift is believed to be related to how much or little time was spent on the surface. Subcultures existing for thousands of years together, one on the surface and another below, meeting only rarely to trade, soon adapted each to their distinct environment. Other varieties “didn’t jump, but rather were pushed”. For example, the various species of giants are believed to be descended from !uxe experimentation gone bad.

The varieties of zayende descendents, on the other hand, are believed to be almost entirely “self inflicted”. To their credit, they practiced their new craft and its effects just as readily and fearlessly on one another as they did on everything else around them. They adapted themselves for rainforest or taiga, places where life was abundant, yet few humans ever went there. They adapted themselves for life underground, and in some places even competed with !uxe successfully. Rumors abound that they adapted themselves for life under the sea and high above the clouds, although evidence to support such speculation is scant. At least one such adaptation went horribly wrong, and the results are with us today. One of the species commonly (and in this case, mistakenly) called “trolls” is actually a sub-species of the zayende.

The zayende are very long-lived. Just how long is unknown, as there is still no documented case of one reaching what a human would call “old age”. Their bodies repair themselves with remarkable accuracy and consistency. At some point late in the glacial period, an unknown zayende researcher tried to take that one step further, and put the ongoing dynamic of birth and death within the cells in perfect balance. Such a creature would never age, and always heal perfectly. The precise nature of the miscalculation is beyond the scope of this document, but the result was more akin to a sentient colony organism, like an immense bacteria culture in humanoid shape. Scholars who have studied such “trolls” conclude that we will never be rid of them now, as a single intact cell, left to itself, will eventually grow into a whole new “troll”. Luckily, blood and small bits left over from exterminating these creatures tends to be consumed by local wildlife before growing large enough to become a threat. But in fairness, it never ages, and always heals perfectly.

As noted above, the idea of fixing a date had long since become meaningless by this point. Further, it is unknown, even to the extent of “early in the glacial/middle of the glacial/late in the glacial/early in the thaw”, when many of these specializations, intentional or not, took place. But these specializations, modifications and accidents hardly took place in a vacuum. When the glacial period ended, Earth’s ecosystem entered a period of “radiant evolution”, as the weather got wetter and warmer, the ice sheets receded, and more and more land became fertile again in the changing climate. Thousands of species had died, thousand of places in the chain of life stood empty, and everything living rushed to fill them. Truly, it is impossible to place “blame” for any part of our current ecosystem on anyone, as the changes nature itself made are well beyond any possible calculating. And few, if any, still live who could tell you what has changed and what hasn’t over such a span.

Alas, one thing did not change. Even with endless miles of fertile land around them, the Kindred once again fought wars of conquest. As the world awoke to new life and the Kindred spread out across the globe, the age old dance between Makers, Takers and Fakers once again resumed.
Eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog.
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting, lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing.
   - Traditional physical spell components
You put your left foot in, you put your left foot out...
  - Traditional somatic spell components
Ooo Eee Ooo Aaa Aaa, Ting Tang Walla Walla Bing Bang.
   - Traditional verbal spell components
Take the lime and the coconut, and drink them both together.
  - Traditional potion formula

Offline GrumpyOldFart

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Re: Overview: Iame Poinomo, the House of Many Names
« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2009, 03:44:23 PM »
New World Order, Part II: “The circumference of your knowledge is the horizon of your ignorance.” – Albert Einstein

As the sun reclaimed the lands the Kindred spread out to cover them, fighting, trading and lying with one another over the best bits. As the growing population sorted itself, the differences between the three major branches of the Kindred made themselves felt.

Humans, especially the shorter lived variational species, were driven by the dual lashes of fecundity and mortality. They spread out quickly, used the land and built their structures for short-term purposes, and were subject to comparatively rapid changes in both physical and cultural evolution. Their empires and societies often collapsed, their people died in droves or moved away… but like a swarm of insects, they always returned. If herds could run or farms could be plowed, humans or their close kin either lived there, had been driven from there, or were on their way.

The !uxe had split into two major races and several minor ones. The minor species never acquired the population density for actual cultures to arise beyond individual bands or tribes. Of the two, the giki, the ones who dwelled on the surface, became farmers second to none. The descendants of the zayende might be able to alter the plants, making an entire forest behave as they wished, but only the giki thought nothing of farming spices on desert canyon walls. Only the giki would consider farming specialized medicinal herbs in alpine cirques. As those below became crafters of stone and metal, they became crafters of land. Where the zayende could bend forests to their will, the giki treated land like an immensely complex bonsai tree. A minor adjustment here or there, as the canvas shows the artist the artwork within it. It is disturbingly easy for a stranger to walk through the middle of a giki farm and never know.
The deep !uxe found less and less reason to come to the surface at all. While some found ways to modify plants to survive by “thermosynthesis” and tap the heat of various depths, most formed symbiotic communities with the giki, providing both raw materials and finished goods in trade for food. As such, they became largely technocrats, judging value in their culture by delicacy or complexity of manufacture. In areas that allow for true multispecies trade, the !uxe tend to do very well and the “city” becomes quite wealthy.

The zayende and their close kin had ranged far into areas traditionally considered hostile to humanoids and made them their own, but limited themselves to places that, while hostile, were far from barren. The major divisions were the vanekova, who live in sub arctic forests, and the vanesavi, who live in tropical rainforests and jungles. Over time they have made over such areas to such an extent that the ecology itself is supportive of their kind, and sometimes actively hostile to everyone else. Evidence for other major zayende kin is scant, doubtful, and sometimes contradictory. For example, if zayende modified themselves to better live underground, the result would hardly be as legends paint them.

But that is by no means all the sentient species we have, and therein lies either the greatest paradox or the greatest ‘gotcha’ of modern magical theory. You see, nowhere is there any evidence that the zayende brought dragons with them. The zayende themselves claim no knowledge of such cargo. You’d think people packed into refugee ships would notice such a thing. And yet dragons and other sextopods, in dozens of varieties, are unquestionably here. DNA sample? Egg, even? A case of magic and belief reversing the normal flow of cause and effect, as with the ley lines? No one has a good answer for that one. Obviously it happened somehow. While it’s true that people can be fooled into seeing and believing in things that aren’t really there, reports suggest that there are few things more “here” than a dragon at close range. They live everywhere, from the poles to the equator, in specialized varieties well fitted to their respective environments, and there are far too many similarities between modern dragons and TGL’s creation to credit it to chance. If that weren’t odd enough, there is no record of a dragon sighting anywhere at any time on Earth where the description of the beast matched the original “scout drake” designed by TGL back before the Kindred War. Always too similar to be chance, but never similar enough to be the same creature.
Nor are we likely to find out from the dragons themselves. They are sentient and intelligent, in fact slightly more intelligent on average than the Kindred. But this never resulted in a ‘civilization’ or ‘cultural history’, as dragons have very little fellow feeling toward anything, including members of their own species. This is probably an evolutionary “preemptive defense”, as any full-grown dragon requires far too much range for “playing happy families” with potential rivals to be a long-term benefit. Dragons, except in cases of a parent with infant or juvenile young, are solitary creatures, and thus have little feeling for (and even fewer records of) their own past.

During these modern days some 3000 years into the interglacial period, one might expect the rise of civilizations to follow a pattern similar to that of the last interglacial. In some ways it does, but the historian should not allow himself to be led astray by the similarities, as it is the differences which give this age its distinct character. 3000 years after the close of a glacial period, history would lead you to expect scattered, bronze age cultures in warm temperate or sub tropical climates to be the very pinnacle of current civilization. But this time, the three legs of a civilization’s recovery – population growth, technology and record keeping – were split three ways among the Kindred, and each branch kept its one piece better than any would have kept the whole. More, our civilizations have arisen with a pre-existing knowledge of magic and most of its rules, something that did not exist before. Because of those and other factors, the Kindred have remade their broken civilizations much more quickly than our human ancestors did. For the same reasons, we will probably reach the same ‘tipping point’ we did before, where the problems of one comparatively small group can wreck the lives, future and civilization of absolutely everyone, however remote their connection, likewise much sooner than our human ancestors did.
Eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog.
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting, lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing.
   - Traditional physical spell components
You put your left foot in, you put your left foot out...
  - Traditional somatic spell components
Ooo Eee Ooo Aaa Aaa, Ting Tang Walla Walla Bing Bang.
   - Traditional verbal spell components
Take the lime and the coconut, and drink them both together.
  - Traditional potion formula

Offline GrumpyOldFart

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Re: Overview: Iame Poinomo, the House of Many Names
« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2009, 10:03:26 PM »
Evolution, Part III: The Ascent of Dragonkind

Phylum: Chordata   Class: Sextopoda       Order: Volatica      Family: Draco       Genus: Draconis/Vermis

Dragons are neither reptiles, birds, nor mammals. Mammals, birds and reptiles are of the class Tetrapoda (four limbed). Dragons and their kin are a wholly new class, Sextopoda (six limbed). They are the only six limbed creatures in the Chordate phylum. Wyverns, manticores and other species in the class are considered members of Sextopoda even though some have only four limbs, as they are descended from the same ancestral stock. The original sextopods were engineered for a high mortality environment, were not expected to last long, and were expected to be improved upon with feedback to the designers. They were not expected to ever be on Earth, much less go wild there and be caught up in the radiant evolution at the close of the ice age.

All members of the Draco family share the need for unusual trace compounds (notably tungsten, titanium and platinum) in their diet and the existence of bladders in the chest filled with lighter than air gases. All members likewise show a tendency to go dormant, a condition similar to hibernation, when food is scarce. The larger the species is among the family, the more marked this last tendency becomes.

Dragons were originally created to be friends and companions of humanoid races, but a whole lot of snow has fallen since then. Modern dragons have been “wild” for several thousand years. More to the point, the various humanoid races are competing with dragons for habitat, and dragons are intelligent enough to know it. In ecological terms, humanoids and dragons are “natural enemies”. We are all apex predators competing for the same resource base.

Dragons and zayende are the only species that were genetically engineered by non-magical means to become magic users. Zayende are social creatures with a written language, and they use comparatively few resources per individual. None of that is true of dragons. A dragon gets taught the basics of magic in infancy by its parents, learns it on his own by trial-and-often-fatal-error, or never learns it. By the time it is an older juvenile, the need for hunting range is already forcing it from the nest, and thus from extended contact with its remaining parent (one parent usually departs when the young is first able to fly).  A single multi-ton carnivore requires a truly amazing amount of fertile ecosystem to support it, which makes socialization as humanoids understand it simply impossible for most dragons. The resulting slowed teaching process has likewise slowed the evolution of magic as art and skill among the species.  The two (nearly equal) major divisions of dragons in terms of magic use is those who use no conscious magic at all, and those who use ancient, “chaotic”, “High” magic. In a practical sense, most dragons who use magic make up their “spells” as they go along, and much of their magic use tends to favor illusion, hallucination, glamour, charm and the like. While this often makes them very versatile spellcasters,  it also adds a special hazard to dealing with one. Nearly all dragons who use more modern forms have had regular contact with humanoid races from an early age, or have a ‘family history’ of such contact. Regardless,  the gases in a dragon’s flight bladders are nearly always flammable, and spell failure (whether ‘chaotic’ or modern magic) can add a new terror to what is already a flying bomb.

Early in their evolution, two mutations occurred in the magic use of dragons as they grew larger, both in the form of automatic, continuous magic. All surviving giant species of drakes or wyrms have both these mutations present. One is levitation, the other is sometimes called “virtual wing”. Virtual wing is a tactile phantasm, a solid bonding in air molecules beyond the dragon’s visible wings, which moves in concert with the “real” wings. The net result is that a dragon’s wings are actually some three to four times the lifting surface that they appear to be, but only the visible part has any weight. The wing loading stresses still transfer to the body of the dragon however, resulting in apparently outsized upper wing and shoulder structure. Note that a solid obstacle in the path of a virtual wing causes precisely the same problems as it would in the path of a “real” wing. Also note that while levitation decreases weight, and therefore wing loading in straight flight, it does nothing for inertia. Thus, while dragons take to the air with remarkable ease, they are nonetheless slow to change direction in flight.

A note on “breath weapons”:  With few exceptions, what people think of as “breath weapons” are either specialized spit or variations on the original flight bladder gases.  Varying conditions made the ability to breathe fire more or less advantageous, and the associated hazards more or less of a problem, and over time the organisms have of course adapted. The metabolism of dragons already incorporates heavy metals, and many of the dietary peculiarities of modern dragons can be traced to the needs of a particular species’ “breath weapon”. Also, most dragons have both teeth and a “crop”, allowing for slow digestion of rock and metal.


Scout Dragon (Draco Explorator)
This is the original dragon engineered by Titan-Genesis Laboratories as a hostile environment scout for zayende slowboat expeditions. Its skeleton is along the lines of the Mustelid (otter, weasel, etc.) family, albeit much larger and slightly longer legged relative to overall size. Adult scout dragons averaged 600 – 700 lbs. with a body about the size of an adult male lion, a wingspan of 15 – 20 feet and wing breadth (lead edge to trail edge) from the shoulder approximately to the diaphragm. Their hide was hairless and comparable to that of a rhinoceros, they had four legs and membrane wings, their brain capacity and basic intelligence was comparable to that of the zayende whose companions they were designed to be, and they had comparable magic abilities as well.

Since they were originally supposed to travel on interstellar voyages lasting centuries or millennia, they were designed to go dormant when food was scarce. Aboard an exploration ship, the dragon population could be effectively “shut down” just by feeding them less. Their metabolism required trace elements of various metals, mostly to allow for a larger proportion of metals in bone and hide production, giving more strength per weight. Most of a dragon’s bones are as strong for their weight as steel honeycomb structures once used in flying machinery. Their changed metabolism also allowed for the production of hydrogen and methane in large flight bladders in the chest, effectively decreasing their weight to they point they could actually fly.

Theoretically at least, this gas mixture could be lit when exhaled, and a dragon could “breathe fire”.  All it requires is platinum as a catalyst. However the size of the bladders prohibits a dragon doing this more than a few times, every flame would be paid for in lift, and the buoyant gas mixture would not be replenished for some hours, perhaps days depending on diet. Such a weapon would be used as a last desperate chance by a dragon in extremis, most likely in situations where the dragon could no longer fly anyway.

Beyond that, the scout dragon never had what most would think of as a ‘breath weapon’. What they did have was a series of resonating chambers in the skull, allowing them to generate a high-pitched shriek that could stun many creatures from up to a hundred feet away.

Draco Explorator is believed to have gone extinct near the beginning of the last ice age.


Great Drakes (Draco Draconis)
The major dragons are of two types, drakes and wyrms. Drakes (with the exception of the desert drake) tend toward skeletal conformation that is comparatively short nose-to-tail for its height, and membrane wings similar to a bat. They have a longer wingspan and less breadth of wing from lead edge to trail edge than do wyrms, and their flying pattern tends toward ‘soar and strike’, much like the large raptors.

Drakes tend to have a tougher hide than wyrms, and they are faster but less agile flyers.  While they are as or more intelligent than most humanoids, they tend to be rather direct in their responses.

Fisher Drake (Draconis Piscator)
With the coming of the ice age, Earth grew colder and dryer. As always, the mass extinctions of a major glacial period hit the megafauna hardest. The original scout dragon relied on the existence of large land animals for food and, when these became scarce, presumably died out. The exception in an Earth-bound scenario would be those scout dragons that lived on coasts and so were able to take their “hunting patterns” out to sea. The drake body is not designed for efficient swimming, and the successful descendants of the scout dragon would be those who stayed close to shore and those who learned to swim: The fisher drake and the sea wyrm. Over time, the varieties grew more specialized. The fisher drake is by far the smallest and sleekest of the drakes, while the sea wyrms have grown ever larger. Fisher drakes are the least likely of all drakes to go into dormancy, but this may have to do with reliability of its food supply rather than any genetically induced behaviors. Note also that the wings of the fisher drake are of shorter length (body to wingtip), longer breadth (lead edge to trail edge) and have more internal ribbing than any other true drake. In fact, the fisher drake’s wing is nearly a cross between a drake wing and a wyrm wing. An adult fisher drake is about the size and shape of an adult Bengal tiger, 800 – 1000 lbs, with a wingspan of 20 – 25 feet and breadth from the shoulder to the lead edge of the pelvis. The wings fold flatter against the body than those of any other drake. The upper areas of their hide are a dark bluish grey, with a lighter grey underbelly.

Draconis Piscator has much the same ‘breath weapon’ as its assumed ancestor.

Rock Drake (Draconis Silicis)
Rock drakes, also known as red drakes, are perhaps the quintessential “dragon”. Equal in size to the mountain drake, it is among the largest of land-dwelling dragons, and also has the widest hunting range.

During the last ice age, the global shortage of liquid water created vast tracts of desert and alpine terrain, as well as places that were green only along drainage channels, and bare rock everywhere else. Rock drakes became the patient hunters of rocky ground. They are likely to know every inch of every stream and waterhole within 50 miles of their lairs, and are quite capable of sitting motionless overlooking a lake for days at a time, waiting for prey.  While not notable for spending a lot of time dormant, they are noted for spending most of their “sentry” time very nearly so. They are also unique among dragonkind for going into dormancy out in the open.

Their reddish brown blotchy upper hide and light grey brown underside makes them nearly invisible in many rocky terrains, and they are adept at using the convection patterns of the terrain below as flight aids. An adult rock drake is 20 – 30 feet long in the body, 50 – 75 feet nose to tail, weighs 20 – 25 tons, and has a 75 – 100 foot wingspan. While rock drakes do indeed “breathe fire”, only a tiny puff of it is flammable gas from the flight bladders, which ignites a flammable  liquid spat from a special sac behind the jaw.  Rock drakes are noted for using such precision flame to put thermals where they want them as flight aids.

Draconis Silicis has a particular dietary need for iron compounds.  Remains of a site where a rock drake attacked members of a technologically advanced species may be notable for iron and steel items that have been chewed to pieces or are missing entirely.

Desert Drake (Draconis Inculta)
The vast tracts of desert created during the last ice age became the breeding ground of the desert drake. The desert drake is the most recent of the drakes, and is apparently descended from an ancestral split off of rock drakes that was ultimately unable to cope with the conditions. All dragons can dig, but desert drakes burrow like badgers, as they spend most of the dry and comparatively lifeless season buried in the ground and dormant, with only their nostrils showing above the sand. The legendary lightning attack is real, and is a response to static charge buildup while burrowing in dry sand. It is not a “breath weapon” as such, as it is generated by the drake’s entire head, neck and shoulders. The disposition and composition of tissues in those areas effectively make the front end of a desert drake a living resonant transformer coil. Static buildup is stored in the chest and allowed to ground off when convenient. Note that this ability is severely impaired during the wet season (when it is most likely to be awake and hunting), and replenishes best in cold, dry weather.

Desert drakes cannot fly as they have no wings, they have atrophied completely over the millennia. However, they can leap for quite an astounding distance in something so large. An adult desert drake is 15 – 20 feet long in the body, 40 – 60 feet nose to tail, and weighs 4-6 tons. They have the shortest back legs and the longest front legs of any drake, and are a flat, even tan all over.

Draconis Inculta has a particular dietery need for gold, probably due to the static discharge mutation in the forward part of the body.

Mountain Drake (Draconis Montis)
Like desert drakes, mountain drakes spend a lot of their time dormant. This is not dictated by temperature or season, but by the presence of food in amounts sufficient to be worth waking up for.  The scout dragons who were the ancestors of today’s mountain drakes took advantage of the benefits mountainous terrain gives to an intelligent flying predator. Flying in mountains is tricky, surprise air currents can turn something airborne into a splat mark very quickly. Dragons who learned to fly under such conditions found hunting grounds that had no defenses against them. Food may not have been plentiful, but the tactical advantages changed things to a few hunts, mostly successful, rather than lots of hunting to gain a few successes. Thus, mountain drakes are the pilots of the dragon world, learning the merciless perfectionism of mountain flying and counting on it to allow them to “choose their ground”. If they are conscious at all, they are likely to be soaring at high altitude, examining the ground and everything in it. If you are within a day’s walk of its lair, chances are it’s been keeping an eye on you for at least 3 days. If it considers you a threat, it will pull every nasty, ugly ambush available in those 3 days. If you’re merely amusing, it may pull one, just to politely warn you off. An adult mountain drake is 20 – 30 feet long in the body, 50 – 75 feet nose to tail, weighs 20 – 25 tons, and has a 75 – 100 foot wingspan. They are a mottled dark and pale grey all over, making them nearly invisible in snow covered rocks.

Mountain drakes do not, as a rule, breathe fire.  During most of their hunting season, the ground below them is typically mountainous and covered with evergreens, and setting it aflame is not an option a precision flyer typically considers. Like rock drakes, they have a liquid they spit at prey occasionally, but the liquid is a quick-evaporating ketone that tends to freeze what it comes in contact with. The vapors are highly flammable, however. Hunting patterns indicate a preference for brain and central nervous system tissue, particularly from sentient species. This may indicate a dietary need for complex ketones.

Great Wyrms
Wyrms are long, low and sinuous, like a ferret. They have a shorter wingspan than drakes, but more breadth of wing from lead edge to trail edge, and they fly with a swimming motion like a manta ray. Wyrm hide is thinner and more flexible than drake hide, and wyrms are slower in flight than drakes, although they turn much more quickly. Also, they are faster and more agile on the ground and tend to be more subtle in their thinking.

Sea Wyrm (Vermis Carina)
When the advance of the glaciers drove all carnivorous megafauna capable of changing habitat to the coasts, the most successful were those species capable of going back to the seas. Of those, the dragons most inclined to swimming evolved into the sea wyrms of today. The sea wyrm is the fastest and most agile swimmer for its size of any known creature in the history of the planet. But then again, its size must be taken into account, for it is truly huge. Running 40 – 50 feet in the body, up to 90 feet overall,  and averaging 45 – 50 tons in weight, it is by far the largest and heaviest member of the Draco family. Their feet have become flippers, and their wings have become fins over time, running from the shoulder to a point about halfway down the tail.  While it can leap amazing distances for something so large, it is incapable of true flight, and the “flight bladders” have become buoyancy bladders over time. They tend to be dark grey or black.

Vermis Carina has a quite similar ‘breath weapon’ to its assumed ancestor and to fisher drakes. However it has evolved over time and has a much larger range and damage potential, and works much better under the water than out of it. Sea wyrms also use this ‘shriek’ as a form of sonar.

River Wyrm (Vermis Flumen)
As with any water dwelling creature, there is a large difference in biological priorities between those members who dwell in salt water and those who dwell in fresh. River wyrms appear to be just small sea wyrms, barely a fourth the overall size of their cousins. But appearances deceive. While the “wings” are similar, the feet of a river wyrm are still feet, as river wyrms are amphibious. While it cannot truly “fly”, a leap with the assistance of the fins/wings can give one the appearance of an immense flying squirrel. An adult river wyrm tends to be 20 – 25 feet long overall and weigh about 6 tons, with the same dark grey/black coloring. Its fins/wings run the length of the body and about half the length of the tail and its “wingspan” is 15-20 feet at the shoulder, giving the appearance of a finned alligator the size of a killer whale. The hide is supple and the legs are more versatile than those of an alligator however, giving its movements a look more akin to an otter.

Unlike its closer cousins, Vermis Flumen does not have a sonic weapon. Its adaptation is more akin to those of more distant relatives, the drakes. Like them, it spits a liquid at distant prey, its particular spit being a powerful neurotoxin. Like them (and indeed like all spitting dragons), it can adjust its spit toward “stream” or “spray”. This spit attack, rather than a sonic form, may be a response to the comparatively close confines in which it lives. When surrounded by the acoustically reflective surfaces of a river’s banks, a powerful sonic can be as much danger to the user as to the intended target.


When the ice age ended, vast tracts of desert began getting rain, and became too wet for desert drakes.  As the grasslands, the jungles, the forests and the swamps all grew, variants of river wyrms went with them.

Plains Wyrm (Vermis Gramen)
Long and low, when it lies down in grass it can be mistaken for a low mound at quite a short distance. Plains wyrms are more likely to be awake at any given time than all other dragons. They are also the most likely of all dragons to shift hunting grounds. An adult plains wyrm is 40 – 60 feet long overall and weighs 15 - 20 tons. Its wings run from halfway down the neck to the tip of the tail and its wingspan is 50-75 feet at the shoulder. The upper body is green, fading to dull yellowish brown on the underside, in spring and early summer. From late summer through midwinter, its hide is anywhere from dull gold to grayish brown.

The ‘breath weapon’ of  Vermis Gramen is perhaps the oddest of them all. Instead of one “spit duct”, they have two, containing different compounds. The liquids begin to solidify instantly upon contact, before they have even cleared the mouth. From any distance over ten to fifteen feet or so, the “spit” is roughly equivalent to being hit with a six-pounder cannonball. If they choose, they can instead “spray” an attack, hitting everything within the area with a lump roughly equivalent to a sling bullet.

Jungle Wyrm (Vermis Silvapluvia)
Frighteningly easy to mistake for the trunk of a large downed tree, a jungle wyrm rarely flies, and indeed it is only just capable of true flight.  Mostly the wings stay furled, as they get in the way in the close confines of the jungle wyrm’s chosen habitat. A jungle wyrm’s threat lies in the fact that it’s very intelligent, nearly invisible, and moves much more lightly than anything that size should be able to. An adult jungle wyrm is 30 – 50 feet long overall and weighs 12 - 17 tons. Its wings run from halfway down the neck to halfway down the tail and its wingspan is 40-60 feet at the shoulder. Jungle wyrms are deep green with black spots on the upper body.
Vermis Silvapluvia, like its close cousin the swamp wyrm, spits or sprays acid. Perhaps the risk of unintentional damage is minimal in such damp environments. While the precise structures have yet to be determined, the spit seems to be one of a class of ‘superacids’ that combine with organic fats as readily as with metals. What is known for certain is that both types of wyrms have an affinity for silver, perhaps for trace metals in jewelry alloys and perhaps for the silver itself.
   
Forest Wyrm (Vermis Lucus)
Slightly smaller and better flyers than jungle wyrms, forest wyrms tend to hunt at woodland’s fringes and retreat to the center. An adult forest wyrm is 25 – 40 feet long overall and weighs 10 - 15 tons. Its wings run from halfway down the neck to halfway down the tail and its wingspan is 40-60 feet at the shoulder. As intelligent as jungle wyrms, their surroundings force them to be more subtle, as few environments are as visually and aurally chaotic as a jungle. Forest wyrms are dark green with dark brown vertical stripes on the upper body.

Forest Wyms have the only breath weapon among Dragonkind that cannot directly kill you. This doesn’t make them nice, or gentle, or easy prey. Their spit evaporates fairly quickly, and is powerfully euphoriant and hallucinogenic in both liquid and gaseous forms. No, it won’t kill you. It’ll just make you so stupid, clumsy and generally helpless that you’re easy prey for whatever comes along. Exception: The vapors are indeed highly flammable, so if you are near an open flame when it spits at you, it actually might kill you. While the compound still requires further study (and thus no direct connection has been made), the forest wyrm’s need for zinc and tin compounds, leading to a preference for copper alloys among metals, may stem from production of this narcotic spit.

Swamp Wyrm (Vermis Paludis)
Swamp wyrms are the modern day “all-purpose” dragon. Clumsier swimmers than river or sea wyrms and fisher drakes, they are nonetheless better swimmers than anything else. Clumsier flyers than any of the flying drakes, they are the fastest and most aerobatic flyers among the wyrms. An adult swamp wyrm is 20 – 35 feet long overall and weighs 8 - 12 tons. Its wings run from just behind the head all the way to the tip of the tail and its wingspan is 40-60 feet at the shoulder. Swamp wyrms are mottled dark grey and dark green.

Like jungle wyrms,  Vermis Paludis spits a powerful acid. It is not known for certain whether the compounds are identical, but they are probably at least very similar, as the two have quite similar dietary limits.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2009, 01:12:17 AM by GrumpyOldFart »
Eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog.
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting, lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing.
   - Traditional physical spell components
You put your left foot in, you put your left foot out...
  - Traditional somatic spell components
Ooo Eee Ooo Aaa Aaa, Ting Tang Walla Walla Bing Bang.
   - Traditional verbal spell components
Take the lime and the coconut, and drink them both together.
  - Traditional potion formula

Offline GrumpyOldFart

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Re: Overview: Iame Poinomo, the House of Many Names
« Reply #12 on: July 28, 2009, 01:29:10 AM »
Appendix: Sextopoda

Note that not all of the creatures listed below have been proven to exist. Assuming they do and our information of them is reasonably accurate, this is where they most likely fit in the evolutionary tree.


Phylum: Chordata
     Class: Sextopoda
          Order: Volatica
               Family: Draco
                    Genus: Draconis   
                         Species: Piscator     - Fisher Drake
                         Species: Silicis        - Rock Drake
                         Species: Inculta      - Desert Drake
                         Species: Montis       - Mountain Drake
                    Genus: Vermis
                         Species: Carina       - Sea Wyrm
                         Species: Flumen      - River Wyrm
                         Species: Gramen      - Plains Wyrm
                         Species: Silvapluvia  - Jungle Wyrm
                         Species: Lucus        - Forest Wyrm
                         Species: Paludis      - Swamp Wyrm
                    Genus: Incursio
                         Species: Anguineus  - Wyvern
                         Species: Maleficus   - Fell Beast
                    Genus: Brevis
                         Species: Draconum  - Dragonet
                         Species: Vermica     - Pseudo Dragon
                         Species: Ioculator    - Faerie Dragon
               Family: Adnihilo
                    Genus: Diabolus
                         Species: Angelica     - Angel Drake
                         Species: Demonica   - Demon Wyrm
                    Genus: Reproforma
                         Species: Squamosus - Gargoyle
                         Species: Chiroptis     - Hira’razhir
                         Species: Simius        - Carnivorous Flying Monkey
                    Genus: Minimus
                         Species: Veneficus   - Pixie
                         Species: Aquaticus   - Nixie
                         Species: Aetherius    - Sylph
               Family: Mosaica
                    Genus: Venator
                         Species: Aquilinus     - Gryphon
                         Species: Felix           - Sphinx
                    Genus: Pterohippus
                         Species: Equus         - Pegasus
                         Species: Accipiter     - Hippogryph
          Order: Cursor
               Family: Pollex
                    Genus: Centaurus
                         Species: Equum       - Centaur
               Family: Anarmo
                    Genus:  Homomandis
                         Species: Mantichora - Manticore
Eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog.
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting, lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing.
   - Traditional physical spell components
You put your left foot in, you put your left foot out...
  - Traditional somatic spell components
Ooo Eee Ooo Aaa Aaa, Ting Tang Walla Walla Bing Bang.
   - Traditional verbal spell components
Take the lime and the coconut, and drink them both together.
  - Traditional potion formula

 

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