This is a fun idea. A little known place where they build real life versions of the space craft from popular science fiction (aka the conceit from Galaxy Quest raised to nth degree). That would be a great idea seed. You have taken that idea seed a step farther and tried to realize the Maw in the cosmic era setting. To this end you outline the numerical dimensions of the place, drop is some proper nouns, link it to other cosmic era content and the list some more numerical dimensions. You also add some choice details that really put steps forward towards immersion in the world. I like how each “pod” has its own insignia and that you explained (in your first blurb) how the Maw is subtle part of the collective consciousness. You passed on some easy laughs by not including Pod 6, and writing about “those jerks from Pod-6”.
But I don’t think the Maw is fully realized. You give us a lot of numbers and often give us dry impersonal facts. Numbers that might be more descriptive if you told us the ratio clones to people, the ratio droids to people, the ratio of sheep to people and so on. This kind of reminds of the RPG you ran and when scouted the archeology you told me the design history the archeology but nothing about the current state of the archeology. You are just throwing facts up there rather than “mechanically” using those facts to build a point.
There are 2000 workers on Aleph station, but so what? Is it cramped? Do they monitor their droids from one central control room like NASA or are the labs and departments modular? Is there a cafeteria? Which clones are these? (I hope the the crew is 75% Shipwrecks and Roadblocks) Yes we could answer these questions but the gaps don’t fit with pedantic tone of the piece. You scale down the size of the ships for what? Is it going to ruin your RPG if the star destroyer is over 2 kilometers long? Point is you tell us a lot about what this place needs to be to fit into the cosmic era setting, but you don’t tell us what the place is actually like. It is impossible that your imagination begins with a ship we have already seen in another and ends with a number. I assume there is stuff you planned that didn't make into the post. You mention a shipwright in the blurb, while that could be a description of the place, I assume denotes specific person. Did you intended to write up the chief designer of the station? So how about some personalities or people in here? A place where a bunch of dorks have a huge budget to realize their geeky daydreams? There has to be interesting culture on that station. When and how did the Maw transition from clandestine ship tending to think tank?
All these fact about numbers, discussions of budgets and resources bring up another question. Do you intend for economic game play to be part of the cosmic era? Such rule sets have been a part of many RPG systems. In second ed D&D you had the castle guide which allowed you to budget construction of a castle and tax the peasants. . Battletech has a whole arm of core rules for managing a unit, paying salaries and upkeep costs. Westend Star Wars had the Smuggler’s guide which detailed rules for speculative trading and the economics of playing a working space merchant. I think developing your system along those lines might be fun for you.Go to Comment
The Blessed Witch of Cantalspier was indeed none of those things. Alicestasia was an actress and orator of such caliber that a mundane phrase rolled up and spun out of her mouth carried as much power of charm and transformation as an ancient ephemeral secret uttered by the most ruthless of warlocks. Her self-styled narrative asserts that she had been plucked from a field in the farming county of Pran by a troupe of performers. She claims they gave her father five coins so closely shaved that the King looked more a Prince for want of beard and crown.
This group of rowdy musicians and raconteurs was laying siege to all the Keeps and Market towns across the land. The troupe made a living by prying coins from the merchant farmers with a smile before the taxmen could steal it away with their whips. At first Alicstasia fetched water and collected the coins, but the fates did not have thread that short for her. Before she even came of age she could petrify the wagon trains of commerce with the glamour of her bawdy songs. Once she had held every person in the radius of her voice she would climb atop the murmur’s wagon to address the crowd state of eagle’s splendor. Then she would string words together into a stories of hope and grief. Tears pulled more coins from the hopeful farmers than smiles.
With Alicstasia inevitably in command, that murmur’s wagon proved to be siege engine enough to carry her across the walls of every Keep in the river counties. In the Keeps and the towns she found the theater and the beds of rich men.
A low-born actress would never be more than a novelty to the fine folks with five or six names. Alicstasia knew this. She saved the favors, avoided the feuds with snotty wives or petty courtly mistress, and made her self a type of rich. With fame and coin she surprised everyone by traveling to Cantalspier and there she opened a hostel for the orphans and lost children of those wicked streets.
She became the symbol of Cantalspier within six months and within a year she was the patron saint. She brokered peace between feuding families. She reunited children with lost siblings. She cared for the sick, and gave everyone in Cantalspier a since of pride when she passed them. The saying became that three things will kill you in Cantalspier; the water, a full purse and an unkind world about the Blessed Witch.
Her alliance with Luc-Paiser de Vulasier's and Dr. Krimswoffel occurred naturally and at first proved rewarding. The boys needed money, and she had that. The boys needed safe quiet spaces to study the great spells and store their arcane tools; Alicstasia’s house was the biggest home of common ownership in all of Cantalspier. The boys had spells and incantations that could set bones and clear lungs, and that huge home was filled with broken coughing children. She offered everything material that high-minded wizards like Luc-Paiser de Vulasier's and Dr. Krimswoffel like to pretend they never need.
But what did Alicestasia need? Some say she needed an audience, and that Cantalspier was just an opportunity to mix the applause with a respect and adoration the noble born would never give her. Some say she was making amends for the bastard children she had abandoned in order to pursue her own vanity. Whatever the case it would become clear too late that she grew to need de Vulasier.
Luc-Paiser de Vulasier was not a natural lover. But he took to the embraces of Alicestasisa like a candle dropped in haystack. His joy was infectious. Rather than growing distracted from his arcane studies, he became inspired. Alicestasia was his muse. His incantations became more daring and more complex. The threads of reality became strings on a lute to him. How could they not be? What strength did the laws of Gods or nature have to a young man in love? Luc-Paiser de Vulasier became a force to be admired and perhaps feared.
Dr. Krimswoffel was outwardly generous and sincerely enjoyed in the new directions de Vulasier's was taking their works. But a darkness was growing in him. Everyone could see it, except for de Vulasier's. He had grown unable to see darkness even in his sleep; when his dream-self continued to worship his love.
We should not judge Alicestasia's and Dr. Krimswoffel's actions unsympathetically. Alicestasia had grown callous to love over the years. In order to live as she did she had dug moat upon moat, and built wall upon wall to keep out the vile humors of love. She saw how so many young women had been destroyed by love. It is no wonder that she was terrified and lashed out in self-defense. Krimswoffel was a man in love as well. Though his love was not as clear. Perhaps he loved the magic, but saw his partner going to new heights of power that he could not reach? Perhaps he loved Alicestasia in the way an old man loves youth and hope? Or perhaps he had seen more than a student in de Vulasier, and to this old man de Vulasier was the muse? Whatever the reason the Alicestasia and Krimswoffel acted against de Vulasier; without speaking and without preconception they went to bed together. The love had passion, but it was not passion for each other.
That night, because they would not have done it on a lesser night, de Vulasier and Krimswoffel were going to finish their greatest spell: a spell to change the destiny of the wind.
Don’t under estimate the power of the wind’s destiny. The wind carries change, and words. The wind moves clouds to hide the sun and knocks down trees. The winds destiny is a land’s destiny.
When de Vulasier and Krimswoffel were making the final circle of the spell and were taking a moment to catch their breath while their threads of magic tighten. Krimswoffel looked grimly at his protégé. “Luc, I am afraid Alicestasia and I had a bit of a go at each other in the bed today. I hope you don’t mind son, really meant nothing, you know how women like that are.”
Those words were the cruelest act Krimswoffel had ever performed. He saw de Vulasier’s soul break behind his eyes. But the spell must go on or at least so Luc-Paiser de Vulasier and Dr. Krimswoffel had always said when some event attempted to interrupt their ritual casting. They returned to their positions in the circle of power and began the final incantations.
Ritual magic has a rhythm to it, a pacing and all this is based on trust. Trust in your coven and trust in yourself. When prompted for reply by Krimswoffel’s chanting de Vulasier paused. The air around the two of them became pregnant with untamed threads of power. Krimswoffel began to fear not for himself, but for his friend and for the whole city around them. But there was nothing he could do. He dare not trip on the strings of power circling about them.
Then de Vulasier looked at Krimswoffel. It was same expression that Krimswoffel had seen when he found the boy stabbed and dying in the street. The lad had looked lost and shocked but not scared or panicked. Krimswoffel had always been impressed by how de Vulasier had approached death and pain; with a detached curiosity. Is that how de Vulasier was dealing with heartbreak and betrayal? Krimswoffel never found out. The wizard de Vulasier hurled himself out of the circle of power and disappeared in a gust of wind. The threads of magic, that been woven so tightly around the circle, and de Vulasier were gone.
Alicestasia tried to take her own life early the next morning as well. She walked to the center of Cantalspier and threw herself from a bridge into the slow moving sewer that had been bestowed a riverhood by the royal cartographers. Drunk with grief and shame she had not planned her death well. The bridge was only a horse head high and the river was only a few feet deep. Her many admirers among the citizens rushed to her aid. She was returned to her house unclean but unscathed.
Krimswoffel and Alicestasia still live in that great house together. Still care for the children. But they are not lovers and they are not friends. They are inmates sharing a prison of regret, and a secret religion of hope that de Vulasier will return someday. Aside from the ever-invading legion of suffering children, the only new visitors they ever seem to have are a flock of cawing white ravens.Go to Comment
Pretty darn good, I enjoyed the pulpy tale at the beginning. The phrases and pacing dug into the genre like a flesh spike into The Storm Kings thigh. But then you switched it up by giving us another pulpy little story. This second story really doesn't connect to the first story, and thus lacks bite (get it? teeth, bite...bah). I like the mini world you presented and enjoyed reading this.Go to Comment