Augusta Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace & her more famous father, George Gordon, Lord Byron. Ada was instrumental in assisting Babbage with his early computer work. Byron's life reads like a well-thought pc background. His unorthodox lifestyle & facinating personality makes him an all-too-easy NPC to drop into any campaign.
Any of the old Greek inventors would make great NPC's for a number of different genres, from fantasy to sci-fi. Archimedes, Heron, Dionysis, Ctesibus, or many of their contemporaries are, in my opinion, far more interesting than the more famous philosophers that followed them a few centuries later. Early computers (including one that used a differential engine for the apparent reverse-motion of the moon & some planets), rapid-fire & multi-shot ballistae, catapults that could fire with greater range & accuracy than what cannon would achieve until late in the 19th century, devices that could fly under their own power, and deadly radiation weapons that could torch ships in seconds--and do so further out than archers could retaliate, and hundreds more inventions were created by these brilliant individuals. Go to Comment
I have to agree completely with MoonHunter on this. The explaination of magic as an unknown physical effect, the inherent uncertainty, and convoluted development of magic could have been taken right out of my "development bible" for Midian.
Not only can low-tech have a mystical feel for what is now known as simple science, but the higher levels of technology can have a similar effect. For example, a code from an unknown programming language can be just as mysterious as any spell scroll. Understanding exactly how a television image goes from the soundstage to the idiot box is something that few people really know to any true extent. And which long distance company really saves you more money? I think the introduction to Spelljammer put it best. "The simple answer is 'it's magic.' The more involved answer is, 'it's magic and it knows its magic.'"
I also like the magical treatise on vaporemancy. And the SteamBrewer is a nice touch. It makes the rest work better conceptually if the art of steam is used for common & practical applications.
I agree with Strolen that anything to "magic it up" would be beneficial. The timing chants can be used here, as can mystic symbolism for the gauges. Creation issues aside, the use of a specific steam item can be a separate skill/spell, and this can be varied according to the tradition/Coven that created it. That is, two different Steam Looms will have its own chant, symbol set, etc. Likewise, this can be a design control element. Knowing how to create a regulator can be a specific "spell" rated up to a certain amount of "magic" pressure. Instead of creating a checklist similar to the one for Gnomish inventions in Dragonlance, allow players to utilise combos of their "spells" for the item design & creation.
Superflous elements can be added that are unique to a given Coven. For example, one decorates its creations with metallic feathers patterned after a specific rare bird (heat sinks). Another Coven believes that the creation of steam is a magical effect of the breath from a spiritual body. As such, they sacrifice something as part of the construction.
Much of enhancing the feeling of mystical lies in the terms used, as well as the rituals that accompany. For example, calling something a "vorpal sword" implies magic; calling it a "vibroblade" is much less so; using the term "chainsaw" completely removes the feeling of the mystical from what was always the same exact item.
Nothing destroys mysticism quicker than the commonplace. Go to Comment
The rapid growth of the trading post into the current city of Gaslight took place within only a few years. Earlier, it didn't have a name, save only perhaps "that trading post." Any interim name that might have been given prior to Surtsblood & Al Biqa' tapping the gas has long been lost to memory. Changes of government, or major features may cause the locals (and visitors) to refer to a city as a new name. This is not uncommon in Bizzannite cities--where one name is completely replaced by another--as is evidenced by the much more recent (and publicized) transition of Vridtown into Scientius/Darkmouth Emirate. Vridtown had only been known as such for 12 years, as that city's name was changed then from yet another previous incarnation. Go to Comment
For a less-subtle joke, you could make all of the full partners actual mutant sharks. Intelligent, predatory, and with a Juris Doctorate--this may have been what originally focused their area of expertise. Go to Comment
They could denegrate warriors or chieftans of other tribes, or sing backhanded complements in song form, such as saying that a chief was so fierce that he couldn't even show his face on the battlefield for fear that he would scare even his own men away--suggesting that this chief was a coward.
Singing the praises of those in other tribes can be used to ingratiate them to their host, such as for an alliance... or to lull them into a false sense of security. Alternately, a bard that doesn't feel he is being treated well enough can sing about the generosity of another chieftan as a subtle hint to his own boss. Go to Comment
With the songs of warriors & chieftans of reknown, one can easily imagine a fair portion of a lorekeeper's duties being researching (or faking) how his/her chieftan is descended/connected to these great warriors.
Another hireling for the greatest chieftans, is the philosopher. It is the ultimate luxury expense: you are so powerful that you can spend your wealth frivolously, and so wealthy that you can hire someone to just sit around all day & think about thinking.
Considering that thinking has never been traditionally considered an Orck strong suit, I wonder what forms of philosophy they would create... Go to Comment
Quote from: "Scrasamax"
Also, the orcish philosopher would not contribute anything of substanciable value to the tribe or clan.
This is exactly why they are the ultimate luxury item for a wealthy & powerful chieftan. Since it's not something that the typical Orck has an aptitude for (or the typical Human for that matter), and serves no useful function, they could be employed simply as a status symbol of one's power & wealth... and by extension, manhood. Go to Comment
Since they live in almost perfect stasis in their society, there doesn't seem to be much to drive events in their lives. Granted, this is rather the point, but it's hard to create a story without some conflict.
They are a bit more chromatically vivid than most Elves, but they aren't that off.
I don't understand the differences between Tools and Copies. Go to Comment
The kids these days with their dancing. I mean, just look at how their cutting into the rocks, tearing up their shoes, making so much noise. It's not like the good old days, when we had respect for the rocks... Go to Comment
Or an afterthought, or side effect, or creatures that gained sentience on their own, or sub-sub-creations so far down the line that they cannot create in the deific manner--but are still driven to create in some fashion...
These dieties (or rather, their churches) may not be of the type familiar to most Westerners, but they are very familiar to many gamers. Power in exchange for a token worship, adherence to a code, &/or furthering the dieties sphere of influence, is the basis for many roleplaying games. Go to Comment
Trolls with a wide variety of physical appearances... grouped according to location... true natives of the land... borrowing bits from the other people nearby... this sounds awfully familiar somehow... Go to Comment
I was kidding; it was more of a cheap plug than an accusation. Midianite Trolls were taken from a wide variety of sources: historic myth, *D&D, other games, comic books, movies, and treasure troll dolls. With such a large assortment of sources, there's bound to be similarities with other versions of Trolls.
I like this version. It's very primeval & elemental. These Trolls straddle the border between flesh and spirit. Go to Comment
It sounds much like Palladium's Wormwood setting for Rifts. There's some interesting potential here, such as mages trading magical sources, much like trading manna cards in a CCG... Also, the variable nature of the magic in an area can make things interesting for players--not enough in a blasted area, too much to safely handle big spells in a jungle. This can also help explain why certain areas aren't developed in the game world, as magic there wouldn't work as it does in other areas. I like the idea that mages have to tend to magic, rather than simply using it whenever desired. Go to Comment
There is a sword-mage in development for Midian, to be printed with either War or Conquest. The basis for this magical tradition (think "necromancer" or "enchanter" rather than a full class) is that the preferred weapon becomes the mage's familiar. With additional class levels (both mage and familiar gain levels) new special abilities and new weapon Features are gained, and the weapon is upgraded to be bigger, shinier, fancier, etc. As Midian is a fairly low-magic system, the normal munchkin problems with this concept are avoided.
Two skills/spells that relate to magical blade-drawing techniques will be a suggested part of the sword-mage's arsenal follow.
With this magic you are able to rapidly draw any weapon on your person to your hand. The blade will mystically launch itself out of it's scabbard and into your waiting hand. This effect takes place rapidly--effectively using no additional action, nor incurring an initiative penalty--and may be quite surprising for those witnessing it for the first time, especially if they suddenly find that weapon under their chin. Note that this magic does not enchant the weapon, but rather is a skill of the user. The magic can undo a simple strap or peace-bond, but cannot force an item out of a closed rucksack. The sword-mage must only know where the weapon is located on his or her person, no Telekinesis roll is needed, nor is weight a factor provided the weapon may be wielded at all. Items that are not actually carried by the sword-mage cannot be affected. This mystic ability does allow you to draw and attack as a single action.
Requires: Call Weapon
You are able to recover a dropped weapon or item. You need not look directly at the object, but merely need to know it's approximate location and hold out your arm. Any item that you may effectively use may be so recovered, i.e. you can pick up a small rock to throw, but not levitate a boulder or your opponent. Much like Call Weapon, the item quickly launches itself into your hands. Those items "in the aura" of another cannot be affected; that is, you cannot use this ability on a weapon held or carried by another person. The maximum range for this effect is about three feet, enough to pick up an item on the ground or from a weapon rack, or one that is just out of reach in a hole, but certainly not from a great distance. Go to Comment
One possible tangent to this is that another (perhaps invading or pseudo-invading) group took over the surface territory after it was abandoned or nearly so following the fall of the empire. Following historic precedent, these "barbaric invaders" can emulate the Dokoren culture, and may preserve traditions that have been long forgotten by the Dwarves themselves. This is much more likely if the Imperium was the dominant power in the region prior to the collapse. For example, the Gothic kingdoms in what is now Spain had a Roman style culture long after Rome itself was no longer a power. Go to Comment
A people who believe it is incredibly impolite to speak to anybody they meet for the first time. They believe their actions should speak for them until they are comfortable in each others presence and can then trust each other. Only then would converstation be appropriate.