Thursday, January 30, 2014

Pandemonia: The Charter and The Covenant

The Stormsea Republic has weathered war, famine and plague over the course of its 1100 year history. Not long after the end of the Leviathan War, a conflict that raged across every continent of Pandemonia and killed millions of humans and Lemurians, the age of the leviathans ended. And the ascent of the humanoid races began. One of the places heavily populated by humanity is a region known as the North Shore, situated between the Redwood Reach and the Mantameer, a sea famed for enormous its luminescent manta rays. The Republic started there.

Before the Stormsea Republic, the geographical area surrounding the Mantameer, was a fractious, Balkanized region recovering from the destruction of the Leviathan War. The city and surrounding area of Darkstar would later become the Republic's first province and first capital. Then, Darkstar was not only the largest city in the known world but the center of a debased and decadent culture. A powerful and corrupt nobility used and abused a large serf caste. This would change.

In its beginning, a tyrant rose to rule Darkstar but his name is forgotten.  A popular rebellion put him to death, formally erased his name from history and forged two governing documents from his skin, written in his blood.

The Charter

The Charter sets out the articles and laws of the Republic. It delineates the method of filling the two senatorial houses: the House of Lords and the House of Citizens. It also details the length and duration
of the terms of the two Proconsuls, one of war and one of peace, which is two years. The Charter also outlines the basic freedoms of the citizens.

The Covenant

The Covenant was signed by the patriarchs of every noble family at the beginning of the Republic. They signed to keep their heads. The nobility signed many powers and rights away. For example under The Covenant, nobles are forbidden from choosing who they marry. All potential marriages must be approved by the Ministry of Husbandry. Further, infidelity, like murder, theft and rape, is considered a capital crime for the nobility. A provision was written into The Covenant allowing for the condemned to choose a form of lifetime servitude over the death sentence, except in cases of murder. An additional provision tells that any noble who takes The Covenant's servitutude will condemn the family to the wearing of a crimson sash, announcing the dishonor to all and barring that family from service in the House of Lords.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Atoms & Arcana

So, over at the Paizo messageboards, where I only recently screwed the pooch in the Paizo RPG Superstar contest, with my wondrous item submission, the Chillforge Stein, I asked the same question regarding a possible sub genre name and I came away with a winner:

Atoms & Arcana!

I'm pretty excited about this because it gives me a catchy way to sell it in the future.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Catching Fire: Movie Review

Finally went to see the new Hunger Games movie lastnight.

I enjoyed the book series, for the most part. That is to say, I enjoyed the first two books, while thinking that the third was too long, overblown...meh. The Hunger Games books always reminded me of Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy: Two fantastic books followed by...something. Something boring and pointless. It never pays to write the climax of a trilogy into the second book. Or leave it out of the third.

With that being said, Catching Fire was my favorite of the Hunger Games trilogy. And the movie, most likely, will end up being the best of the four movies. Why the jackasses of Hollywood keep on drawing out and expanding books is the subject of another post entirely. Greed has a great deal to do with it but I am sure hubris has its place too. Peter Jackson, I am talking to you...

Back to the movie review.

It was really a very good movie. I walked in prepared to be disappointed because, well, I am pretty hard on movies and I am usually disappointed. I mean, with all of the money thrown at these productions, you'd think they would pay more attention to plots and character development and continuity. But, sadly, they pay less and less attention to these things. Catching Fire, for the most part, got those things right, in so much as they occur in this type of story.

On the whole, the movie had an Empire Strikes Back feel to it: A very strong second piece. Hard to top. Genuine suspense, action that furthered the plot (rather than added in just because they had the means to shoot it) and terrific performances. Jennifer Lawrence gets a lot of attention but I think Woody Harrelson's Haymitch is the real core of the movie. Katness Everdeen is that survivor, good at staying alive, while being (mostly) a decent person. But Haymitch, and to a lesser extent Peeta (played by Josh Hutcherson) are the ones actually doing something about the problems.  On that note, a nod goes out to Lenny Kravitz as Cinna, one of the first characters to actually stand up, knowing that yes, he's going to be knocked down for it. A small role. But an important role. And a great performance too.

Catching Fire was excellent. And, in some pretty obvious ways, likely to be seen as very relevant to our times, if not now, then sometime in the future. The themes of oppression, surveillance, voyeuristic sadism and the price of revolution are all there.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Pandemonia: Alchemy

So, the Alchemists of Pandemonia have themselves a method of organizing The Elements:

Their 'Periodic' Table is organized into their 5 Cardinal Elements: Air, Earth, Fire, Water and Metal

An Air Element is any element that naturally occurs as a Gas. Hydrogen in Pandemonia is classified as Air 2 (Pandemonians classify what we know as Oxygen as Air 1), Helium is Air 3. And so on.

Water, therefore, is any element that naturally occurs as a liquid. The Alchemists of Pandemonia, while knowing of Hydrogen, don't yet know that Water is made up of Hydrogen and Oxygen. Water is Water 1. Mercury is also a Water Element.

Earth, being somewhat obvious, is any non-metallic solid. That makes Metal even more obvious. 

Fire, where I think it gets particularly interesting, is any radioactive element. On Pandemonia, some radioactive elements are found naturally. Even some that are not naturally occurring in The Real World. Plutonium, known as Hesperium, is found and known as Fire 2. Uranium is Fire 1. Cobalt 60, though not naturally occurring in The Real World, is considered Fire 3 and is found in the Hesperium Range along with Hesperium and renders many geographic areas uninhabitable and/or the home of horrible mutations. Because it's fiction, that's why.

Pandemonian alchemists and philosophers have known of the Fire elements for generations but are only recently beginning to integrate them into their disciplines.

The Survey No One Will Take

So, there are all kind of variations on the "Sword and Sorcery" and "Steampunk" themes.

I've been trying to decide how to classify Pandemonia. It's fantasy, first and foremost. But there are Sci-fi elements as well. Notably, the cultures of Pandemonia have bypassed the invention of gunpowder, and due to certain philosophical predilections, have made developments in A) Electromagnetism and B) the discovery of Radioactive elements.

The study of Electromagnetism falls under the study of Lightning, which is part of the "Unified Field/Theory of Everything" Trinity: Lightning (Electromagnetism, Light, etc.), Waves (The Way Everything Gets From Here to There), and Tides (Gravity, Strong Interaction and Weak Interaction). I haven't included elementary particles, simply because they haven't made that leap yet. I guess that goes for Strong and Weak Interactions, too.

I should also mention that alongside the absence of gunpowder is an absence of steam power. Because it annoys me. Or I should say, the glut of Steam powers as a proxy way to power everything from trains and airships to what amounts to Her Majesty's BattleMechs. I even enjoy that stuff myself, from time to time. The Iron Kingdoms from Privateer Press being an excellent example.

But, it's way overdone. And it's my world and I make the rules.

So, to get back on track, I have been tossing around a few terms.

Radiation/Punk: Radpunk?

Or Nukepunk? (But that sounds kind of Post-apocalyptic)

Particlepunk? Atompunk?

Or how about Swords and Atoms?

Swords and REMs?

Swords and Fallout? (Once again, too Post-Apocolyptic, probably)

Atoms and Sorcery?

I just don't know. So, if there are any ideas, I'm open for them.

So, after a prolonged blogging Hiatus, I shall return. Hopefully.

After what can only be called a chaotic couple of years, I am back on the writing track. And cruising along too, I might add. My work on The Novel is going swimmingly and hopefully, if The Powers That Be will it, I will get to introduce people to the little world in my head. I should be adding a bit every other day or so for now, and maybe a bit of Pandemonia content(my slapdash, makeshift world of Gates, Giant Insects, and Radioactive magic)