Monday, November 28, 2016

Machete vs. Machine, Magpie Museum, Thri-kreen, The Ritual

Oh, whistle, in Scarabae, and I'll come to you...

This is my attempt to describe a setting through its material culture, which is probably foolish since I'm not an archaeologist or anthropologist. 

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Weapon of the Machete's agents (1)
Behind the petty squabbles and bloody warfare that occurs between criminal gangs, political parties, guilds, aristocratic cavaliers and courtiers, religious orders, and the like are two great ideological factions: the Machete and the Machine. Agents of the Machete value liberty above all else, and are willing to pay the price of violence to protect it; the forces of the Machine foster security and stability at the cost of oppression and obedience.

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Astrolabe “acquired” by the Magpie Museum (2)
Generally looked upon merely as an institution for the study of history, art, and culture, the Magpie Museum has secretive bureaus that pay explorers to find and retrieve rare objects for its collection. Adventurers possessing of deadly accuracy and flexible ethics can often find a little “night work” with the Museum if they know who to ask.

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Head of a thri-kreen hunter (3)
Scarabae suffers periodic invasions from swarms of thri-kreen warriors. Some philosophers have postulated that they invade from a future time-line, and are possibly echoes of what mankind will one day evolve into.





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Ritual combat helm (4)
There are a million ways to be entertained in Scarabae: all-night cabarets, theater and opera, veil-dancers, pub sing-alongs, etc. But the most invigorating performances are those of the Ritual—gladiatorial events in which ostentatiously-arrayed warriors bolstered by otherworldly pacts fight each other to the death in bouts that are part of some larger occult significance.



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(1) - Inspired by Felix Gilman's The Half-Made World. This also puts alignment (at least in its chaos vs. order permutation) into the fabric of the setting in a semi-Michael Moorcock way.
(2) - Inspired by The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities, the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia, and the teevee show Oddities. 
(3) - Inspired by M. John Harrison's Storm of Wings and Steph Swainston's The Year of Our War. Plus, it's difficult to do something different than Dark Sun's thri-kreen, but why not try?
(4) - Inspired by Laird Barron's The Light is the Darkness and Tanith Lee's Venus Preserved.