(Odd Ideas) Father Dominic’s Little Problem

Legacies can be interesting things. You might get one from a long-lost relative or from your closest friend and sometimes they have interesting conditions in them for the inheritor. Sometimes legacies can also be problematic, since they may come with duties or a heavy tax attached to them.  Sometimes inheritors are not private persons. societies, universities, religious and charitable organisations receive legacies all the time.

Sometimes legacies come with a stigma on them or with other strings attached. A notorious privateer might be rich, but his gold is stained with the greed and blood of many. Or there might a conditional clause on the legacy. A quest might have to be done to receive the legacy or the inheritor might need to get married…really fast.

So when a humble parish church receives the legacy of it’s richest and most infamous member, the feared slave-trading, privateering captain “Blood-eye” Jenkinson, they must make a difficult decision about how to use the new property and how to fill the strange obligations laid out in the will.

Pirate’s Bequests

“Blood-Eye” Jenkinson was in his day, one of the most feared of the English privateers. His ship, “The Noble Savage” plundered far and wide. His name was feared by the French, the Spanish and the Dutch alike. His prizes ranged from humble French fishing boats on the Channel to mighty Spanish Treasure Galleons on the Caribbean seas. He even once sailed to Japan on a mission for the king himself, delivering gifts to the mysterious East and capturing a Dutch porcelain trader on his way home.  Read more »

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

(Odd Idea) Friday Night Siege

Sometimes adventure doesn’t need dank dungeons or old castles. True Villains are not mandatory if the premise itself gives the heroes some motivations to seek adventure. Sometimes teens being teens is enough.

Random Midwestern Town, USA, 195X

The heady, hot days of summer are coming to an unavoidable end as autumn and school rear their ugly head. But for this last weekend, the vacation is still here and so is the Last Dance of Summer, a fond tradition for the teenagers in the area.

But when Wednesday rolls in, so does the military. Trucks filled with soldiers and scientists, all wearing strange masks and talking heatedly about curfews, contamination and about something called Project Mandible. They issue an effective quarantine of the town, nobody is to leave the town perimeter until an all-clear has been given. Food supplies and water will be distributed, but no movement outside the town will be allowed on penalty of arrest. To the teenagers, this sounds really bad.

Military cordon or not, they will not miss the Last Dance. Maybe they can even look into the strange lights and sounds coming from the Old McStrange’s farm…

Read more »

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

(Odd ideas) The Vigilant Guardians

Honor and duty, sacred oaths, immortal love and sometimes plain stubbornness can bind a soul to “this” world, in many stories. The undead are not always victims of curses or mindless automatons animated by fragments of life force.

In the ancient and mystical land of the River, the City of Dead has always stood next to the city of living, a graveyard unlike any other. But now the city of the living has been destroyed, leaving the dead alone.

Necropolis Blues

For over a millennium, the people of the River City buried their dead on the left bank of their holy river, building small houses for the earthly remains of their ancestors. In return, the dead stayed on the left bank, unless the giant Bronze gong on the bridge was sounded. This signaled the dead to come the aid of their living descendants in times war and crisis. When the gong gonged, the doors of the small houses would open, the stone coffins slide open and ancient dead would rise to defend the living.  Read more »

Categories: Odd Ideas | Leave a comment

(Odd Ideas) Under the African Moon

In the modern world, bloody civil wars have cost millions of lives over the last decades. Europe, America, Africa and Asia have all witnessed violent conflicts. Some wars have had their roots in local history, others have been bloody legacies of foreign dominance and some are stages where global cold was have flared hot. And some are products of greed and arrogance.

To us, the cause of the conflict may not always be the most important factor. Sometimes, working to end a bloody and wasteful conflict can bring unlikely allies together. If the bloodshed has continued long enough, even those who need human blood to survive, might be persuaded to help bring peace to their homeland.

 Too Much Bloodshed for Bloodsuckers

In a poor African country, torn apart by two decades of bloody civil strife, things are looking grim. The conflict may have once been about tribal blood feuds or the possession of lucrative mines, but that is not really important to this story. This story is about blood, bloodshed and bloodsuckers.

Read more »

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

(Odd Ideas) Some Strings Attached

Some relationships may come with baggage. Some deals come with extra strings attached. And sometimes, when you take over a nation, you get their customs and institutions too.

Othar’s Little Problem

When Othar the Bold led his small horde of tribesmen through the Kingdom’s lands and vanquished the King’s army, the populace hailed him and his men as heroes. The King had been a cruel and petty tyrant with a penchant for excess punishment and abusing his position in many ways. A charismatic and able barbarian leader sounded really good. Othar was pleasantly surprised that he didn’t have to burn and loot to get rich and the endless supply of good wine and willing women kept his men satisfied. So he became the new king and for a while he enjoyed it immensely.

Read more »

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

(Odd Ideas) Into the Storm

On the 9th of March in 1862, the age of sailing ships in warfare ended, with a lot of bangs. On that day, USS Monitor and CSS Virginia faced off on the mouth of the Chesapeake river. Their battle proved for all spectators (local and international) that the age of wooden hulls and sails had come to an end.

Neither CSS Virginia nor USS Monitor weren’t the first ironclad warships or the first ones to use steam as a power source. Ship armor had been around since someone attached thick animal skins to their war canoes for protection and since the Napoleonic wars, an increasing number of warships had been armored.And steamers had been around for decades, with the technology making large strides in the years before the American civil war, thanks to the expanding railroads and the need for faster ships.

But these new ships had thick metal armor, no sails or oars and were powered exclusively by steam in battle. CSS Virginia damaged and sunk several of the finest US warships before being challenged by the Monitor.

A single battle made most of the world’s battle fleets obsolete. The great powers scrambled to build their own ironclads and over the years sailing ships became increasingly relegated to harbor duties and supply ships. Or they were scrapped or hulked. Some say that the romance of sea day died with them.

This is the tale of an old British frigate on her last journey from the Cape to Plymouth were she is to be scrapped. On this journey she is thrust into one last adventure.

Into the Storm

HMS Bonsai had been the fastest ship in the Royal navy when she was launched over four decades ago. Her sleek lines and sturdy masts gave her unrivaled agility and speed. She had never been intended as a ship to stand against larger ships of the line, but she still had 40 guns capable of bringing her enemies down. She was among the last of her kind not equipped with a steam engine and a screw propeller. While she had been considered for a refit a few years earlier, the Admiralty had decided against it. Read more »

Categories: Odd Ideas | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

(Odd Ideas) Rest and Recuperation

image is public domainEven the greatest adventurers have to spend some time resting and recharging their batteries between adventures (sometimes literally). Hospital stays, stints in the asylum and vacations are sometimes needed by the hardiest folk. On some adventure rich worlds, there might be people offering such services for wealthy adventurers. After all, if you have a stack of gold bullion from your last adventure just waiting to be spent, why not use them to maximize the pleasure and usefulness of your recuperation period.

introducing The Greensides manor, world’s only luxury adventurer’s hotel and private hospital.

Welcome to the Jungle

Located on some private Caribbean island, on a former tobacco plantation, the Greensides Manor is the world’s only luxury holiday resort and private hospital. Catering exclusively to adventurer’s, of which there seems to be plenty since “the Event”, the Manor provides a secluded place for rest and recuperation for the discerning client.  Read more »

Categories: Odd Ideas | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

(Odd Ideas) Imperial Ending

History tells us that every empire falls, eventually and is replaced by new societies. The Romans, the Parthians, the Spanish and all the others have fallen. But empires are large, they cover several smaller nations and while their fall may be dramatic, it is rarely quick. The simple massiveness of the social and economic construct that is an empire can keep it from total collapse for a long time, even against internal and external pressures.

Empires can start on their long and slippery road to destruction by many different ways. But most often it is the difficulty of governing such a massive area with multiple cultures that is the leading cause. Lack of good leadership and cultural shifts can also cause the process to speed up. Disasters, both natural and not, can prove the inefficiency of the central government. Also, insecurity about imperial stability is often cited.

In the Thylian empire of the Pretorian dynasty, things start to go bad. Bad management, infighting among the imperial subjects and an invasion of an elvish horde cause the fall of this empire.

End of an Era

Like the Wizards before them, the Thylian empire started to stagnate eventually. Pretorius XIX and his reign is seen by historians as the last high-point of the empire. Pretorius overhauled the imperial administration, began a massive overhaul of the road network and fortified the imperial borders with modern fortifications. His greatest legacy was, however, that he left no direct heir.
Read more »

Categories: Odd Ideas | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

(Odd Ideas) Imperial Glory

 

Empires usually have three stages: the rise, the glory days and the decline. In the previous post I covered the rise of empires. This time it is time to peek into the stable periods of large nations. To some, these periods of stability and prosperity may seem boring and without good hooks for adventure. But despite the general stability, many forces are usually working to shape or rip apart the empire.

When empires expand, they create a need for new social structures. Someone needs to feed the new population, someone needs to transport that food, someone needs to organize things and someone needs to build and repair the roads that the goods move. With large empires, some areas may be very self-sufficient even while some areas need constant supplying from others. For example, Rome needed the Egyptian fields and orchards to feed the capital’s population during the empire’s heyday. These long supply chains offer us opportunities for good storytelling. Threats, both internal and external, can threaten entire nations while power-hungry factions and individuals  seek to manipulate the system to their own ends.

 The Thulian Empire

After the first Pretorian emperor added the mountain-lands to the old Thylian kingdom, the empire was created. With Eisenstad iron and lowland manpower, the new emperor consolidated his grip inside his own borders by creating the Legions, loyal to the emperor alone, effectively disbanding the old feudal levies.

The legions not only provided the emperor with a virtual monopoly of armies, they gave him the excuse to further cripple the nobles’ power by transferring tax-collection to imperial officials. In return, he provided the old nobles with pensions and a new central court to play in politics.

This growing bureaucracy desperately needed new members and to train them, a new educational system was created. While many of the students were of noble stock, imperial decree stated that the schools were open to anyone who passed the entrance exam.

These major cultural changes didn’t happen overnight. The first emperor spent his last years focused on internal matters, leaving a stable and centralized empire for his heir and daughter, Juliana. Later the empress would be known as the “Warrior Empress”, for she expanded the empires borders aggressively using her father’s legacy. In the south, the coastal cities of the Maritime alliance were conquered with little resistance, as the cities faced another naval invasion from the Navaran islands. The Alliance submitted to the Empress in exchange for protection.

In the East, beyond Eisenstad, lay the lands of the Guranni, a collection of tribes unified by a High King only a few decades earlier. The forested lands offered the defenders ample opportunities for ambushes and attrition and demanded new ways of fighting from the legions. The forested lands also lacked roads and had very few cities, further hindering the legions’ tried and true decisive siege and control strategies.

In the end, after over two decades of fierce fighting and imperial occupation, the Guranni were pacified. Imperial settlers flooded the forests and intermingled with the natives, who became loyal subjects eventually. This long and exhausting campaign was started by the “Warrior Empress” but she didn’t live long enough to witness its end. Her successor, Pretorius II finished it.

After the huge land gains of the first two rulers, the empire settled into stability. In the following decades the Navaran islands were added to imperial rule, thanks to the new advanced ship designs of the former Maritime Alliance combined with the power of the empire. These ships also established the imperial outposts on the far shore of the Shallow Sea.

After a century of the first emperor’s coronation, the empire had reached its apex. This Imperial glory made the empire the envy of its neighbors, who both feared it and curried favor with it. But like many others before it, it was susceptible to corruption and decay. The long and gradual end of the empire had already begun.

Categories: Odd Ideas | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

(Odd Ideas) Rise of the Empire

While the definition of the word has changed over the years, Empires are not just large kingdoms, they are traditionally nations covering more than one recognized domain. The ruler of a kingdom that conquers another may declare their new nation to be an empire, as it now governs more than one people. Empires have been formed through conquest and diplomacy throughout our history. Ambitious rulers have declared themselves to be emperors and styled themselves as successors of the ancient superstates.

Empires and their rises are excellent settings for fiction of any sort. Empires provide stories a strong power to fight for or against. The political field of a rapidly expanding empire provides opportunities for ambitious politicians by being usually quite empty and open offices being plentiful. The military is constantly on the move, conquering or pacifying new holdings, offering new places to explore and  new people to meet. And the merchants of both the new empire and the conquered lands reap the profits of a larger playing field.

The Awakening Bear

After the fall of the Wizard king, the lands fell into a long period of chaos. During this dark age, many of the treasures and books of the Wizards were lost. Initially dozens of small states appeared, headed by warlords and other people with guts and strength to seize power in the chaos and power vacuum the wizards had left.  Centered around the towns and cities, these small kingdoms and chiefdoms entered an era of bitter struggle for resources. Foreign invaders raided and migrated into the lands, forming new players on the board.  Read more »

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment