An interesting take on planetary defense. I really suggest you read David Weber's Honor Harrington series on a treatise of fleet vs. planetary fortress warfare.
Basically, the main issue is this: a planet cannot dodge. Neither can a fortress. In the case of a planet, the foe will exactly know where a planet will be. In the case of fortresses, he can predict it (they will be guarding access vectors from closest systems, wormhole openings, and surround planets and important stations).
The mainenance of a fleet becomes a necessity when you consider that an unhindered enemy fleet can lurk around the star system, shoot up anything not covered by the MADDS, and launch distant asteroid strikes or swarms of dumb nuclear warheads at the planet. Hidden in an asteroid swarm, no less. Because, if useful planets are not ine in a million, denying a foe an asset he invested so heavily in is almost as good as claiming it yourself.
On a different note, I am intrigued by the concept of the cryo-cyborg. Care to explain further?
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Well, what I wanted to point out is that yes, a MADDS can survive an attack, and prevent a foe from taking the planet. But it cannot survive a siege (siege weapons in space have unlimited range), nor sufficently protect its prize without a mobile fleet. Fleets will need their own leadership, because a communication delay imposed by the speed of light between the MADDS in mid-orbit and a fleet in outer space is unacceptable. Unless you have FTL radio in your setting - then, a MADDS could concievably coordinate a fleet in its system too.
Actually, the argument is flawed in several important respects. Let me elaborate.
Space is huuuuge. Actually so huge that light takes several hours to reach the edge of the solar system, if my calculations aren't totally off.
What does this mean? First of all, if you do not have Faster-Than-Light comms, then anything that happens out there takes several hours to be relayed to you if, and only if, you detected it. Meaning, you have to have probes out there. Meaning, you have to cover a sphere with a radius of 50 AU.
Now, with our technology, we are still discovering the things the size of planets. Inside the solar system. Like, Eris. A ship is way smaller than a planet, usually. Meaning, unless you have a sensor grid out there, you will know diddly about what is going on in your solar system. If you do have a sensor grid, you may learn something... six hours later. Now, if this sensor grid does active sweeps, or is in any way detectable, an enemy appearing out there will know it is there, and where it is, and shoot it up. Thus, you learn that an enemy is there, perhaps even something about his forces. Then, you again know diddly. And, unless you have FTL in-system drives, anything you send out there will again take six hours to get there. And of course the foe will be long elsewhere. Meaning, yes you can fire from a MADDS at an enemy fleet you detected at a system's edge. Which will do exactly nothing, because your foe is not a retard to sit there. Whereas your planet is prety predictable about where it will be in a few hours. Along with the entire MADDS, of course. Meaning, you cannot really shoot back.
Now, if you send some combat vessels out there, there will be a several hour communication delay between the vessel and the planet. Meaning, you cannot communicate and have to use live crew. Who are of course fighting without the support of the MADDS. Because it is six freaking hours away. Six light-hours, that is. And if you leave the foe unengaged, he will plunder your system, shoot up the transports and sensor grid, cost you billions of credits and go away without taking a single shot. Once you rebuild, if he lets you, he will do the same again.
Of course, if he lets you, because a few warships can inflict a heavy toll on transport vessels.
So the likeliest scenario is: you invest a truckload of money into a MADDS. Your foe builds some warships. Your MADDS cannot go to his system to mess him up, but your foe can go to yours, and will. And he will make sure to make your life a living hell, and if he grows bored, he can always bombard the orbit from space without really harming the planet. Think gravel, at near light speed. Of course he can also toss a shitload of cheap nukes, if he feels nasty.
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Point made? (the Echo is really trying to help)
I'd slightly accelerate the growth of the flower; also, take into account that a few hours after death, the blood in the body is no longer fluid - hence, thye could us some anticoagulant and preservant (and thus be useful for alchemical blood preservation, too).
Other than these minor issues, a neat piece I might adapt and adopt :)
A note: with its strong foundation in dealing with knowledge, archives etc., the Ark will have a very strong handle on noblemen. Why?
*You need to legitimate your claim to a title. Of course there are documents to prove your right. Kept by an Archivist. Of the Ark.
*You need novel weaponry to defeat your foe. It was invented recently. By a scholar of the Ark.
*You need religious support to motivate your troops. Priests of the Ark can do that. (just look at the Investiture Controversy in the 11th-12th century for a conflict between priesthood and nobility).
*You need competent magistrates to run your realm properly. Of course they are members of the Ark.
Simply denying services will calm many an uppity noble quite swiftly. If the Ark withdraws its members from a realm, it will soon become a hillbilly backwater - especially considering that intellectuals will drain from there to realms where the Ark maintains presence.
I can see them involved in a grand, if silly quest: "Magic is suddenly failing! We are doomed!" Of course, it's just Bobeerin overpopulation.
A tyrannical regime could use them out to sniff out wizards. And once they taste a spellbook, wizards beware!
Adorable. Alas: what is their origin? How does their intelligence manfest? How do they interact with cultures? Any predators or enemies? Etc.
Well, this raises the classic Paladin issues: does being evil but not actually doing evil make you a target for prosecution?
How long does it take for a crime to 'fade' and no longer be detectable by the spectacles? What has to be done to wipe a sin from you?
Also, what is a grave sin to one is an amusing antic to another - for example, gay sex or blasphemy. If they detect solely crime, which law system do they use?
What about making the depictions of the spectacles dependent on the general perceptions of the wearer? So a very lenient person will not see minor sinners as demons, just as humans, while an intolerant one would find himself surrounded by the vilest fiends.
This is so unique and hillarious that the short description provided is truly sufficient.
I'd add but two things:
*Traceability of the coin: can mediums or the like trace where a coin has been?
*Interception of the coin: I echo a previous comment: could a thieving Potter clone snatch them from mid-air to enrich himself? Sure, their enchantment needs to be temporarily suppressed, but perhaps... perhaps catching them is something only a few extremely dextrous individuals could do, making Falcon Coin theft a way of living for a few, while ensuing most transfers are safe.
This is "so DnD" - the lore is decently written, but the whole "weapon made to stop the greatest foe" approach has been used too often and is made only slightly better by having been made by two working in unison.
Also, it's a sword. With a dragon inside. That turns you into a dragon. I know Dungeons and Dragons is supposed to be about as much about dragons as it is about dungeons, but overdoing it with the dragons may lead to diluting their dragony awesomeness and making them less special (been there, done it).
This said, the sword can be a good McGuffin; I'd have included a limiting clause though or some sort of drawback which makes players less inclined to keep it after they down the Big Nasty.
Another note: the bargain Lord Brax struck with the dragon could have actually borne the seeds of his demise - you write he had the power to claim the soul of the dragon - so the dragon in turn should possess the "power, strength, endurance, and knowledge" to defeat him, in turn. Hence, the dragon-turned-blade could indeed be fed a stream of thought betraying the villain's plans or next strike in that battle (knowledge), drain him of vigor feeding its weilder and striking true as defensive enchantments woven by Lord Brax fail miserably to deflect this one weapon.
Also, welcome to the citadel.
You could go with a spring mechanism, with a winch to draw back a hideously strong metal coil... or you could make it a Gauss crossbow, propelling the bolt along the barrel with whatever technobabble strieks your fancy.
Also, I don't think fletching per se has to impart a spin on the arrow, it ensures that the arrow does not tumble.
As it is, the technological solution does not make too much sense.
On a different note - you can really go way out there: what if the bolts are magnetic - and coincidentally, the magic used to enhance the armors of the cavalry improves all the properties of the metal, including attracting magnets, disproportionately so?