The World Today

The World Today
Earth in 2013

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Magic of the Stardust Sequence (basics)

Magic in the Stardust Sequence is divided into six elements: fire, water, wind, earth, sun and life. Users who specialize in any of the elements are identified by the color of robes they wear:

red = fire
blue = water
white = wind
brown= earth
yellow = sun
green = life

Thus a Red Mage would be use fire magic, a Green Mage use life magic, etc.

Society's view of magic varies from world to world. On some worlds magic users are outcasts and often hunted down. Obviously, anyone hunting a mage would have problems if they ever ran into a mage of real power. Try to imagine Dark Age Europe, when witches were burned at the stake. How well would the Inquisition fair against a witch that actually had power.

On other worlds, magic is the domain of religious orders. On Mylo and Apocalypse, mages are the priests. None are born with any power, and spend a great deal of time studying the art and meditating. Casting spells in these instances is not that different from praying.

I can imagine magic on more technologically advanced worlds. Those might have regulatory agencies where mages would have to register. Now that sort of system is just a big box of trouble waiting to be opened.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Gentle Giants

Homo giganticus

            Homo giganticus, commonly known as Ogres, stand at 2.5 meters in height and have a mass of nearly two hundred kilograms. In the most ancient of days, before the Atlantians even left the Homeworld, Ogres were engineered as both guards and soldiers. It was hoped that they could protect continental territories from the wild humans, or perhaps to even help conquer them and bring all of the Homeworld under Atlantian control. They were successfully engineered to be large, and their pudgy faces look fearsome, however, the production of soldiers was not a success. Ogres were made large, but do to a limited understanding (at the time) of the human genome, ogres were also made docile. The Atlantians made the mistake of assuming there was one hundred thousand genes in something as complex as a human, as opposed to only around 25% of that. They also assumed each gene did one thing, instead of combinations of the same genes doing different things. They changed one thing about the ogres, and that had unintended consequences. Though they will defend themselves and their children, ogres are quite non-aggressive. Though they were made as soldiers, they simply wished to live their lives in peace.
   Their large size, produced by inserting a gene that causes gigantism, also reduces their natural lifespan to forty years, though increasing standards of living and medical technology can extend this up to sixty years (this must be noted as the exception, not the rule). Though ogres can live beyond forty, they would be considered elders, similar to a sapien of over sixty. Ogres are mostly farmers, but when conditions turn unfavorable they will move into cities in search of work. Despite their fearsome appearances, ogres are rather friendly and sociable. Their looks and dimensions tend to put off other species of humanity from interacting with them. They are also fiercely loyal. If a friend is in trouble, an ogre will drop everything to go to their aid.
     Ogre families rarely extend beyond two generation within a household. Those ogres who live past forty are considered honored elders, and tend serve as mayors and councils while the younger ogres work. Though they are still physically able to work, ogre society values the elder’s life experiences, and believes the honored elders could best serve the community by guiding it, and hopefully preventing younger ogres from making the same mistakes as the elders. Despite their friendly nature, ogres disperse and live in individual houses. As soon as the young are old enough to give back to their community, they leave their parents and either move in, or build their own housing. Their size makes having large groups living together rather crowded.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Masked strangers

Homo Aureus

            The Ancient Atlantians were masters of genetic engineering. They created the Giganticus (a relative failure) around AY 1700. Almost two thousand years later, they created the pygmaeus (a success). In both instances, they were creating new species of humans to suit their purpose. The case of Aureus, commonly known as the elf, was of a group of sapiens attempting to improve themselves. Atlantians had always used engineering in future generation. Middle Class Atlantians used the technology to alter their own offspring’s’ DNA before they were born, eliminating diseases and traits society (culturally speaking) deemed undesirable. The elves were different. The wealthy of Atlantis sought a way to make themselves perfect, starting in the 26th Atlantian Century. Their immune systems can knock aside diseases that would incapacitate a sapien.
     The average elf stands the same height as a sapien. However, they are slender in build, a sign of dignity and nobility to the Ancients, and a sort of ideal physique. Their DNA was altered to extend their lifespans to over two hundred fifty years. Elves also age far slower than any other species of humanity. Their faces have high cheek bones, prominent noses, and a generally arrogant look. Their skin is smooth and rarely blemished. For other species of humans, these traits are largely assumed as elves are in the habit of wearing metallic masks when dealing with non-elves. From their view, non-elves were unworthy of looking upon the perfection of the “golden ones”.  The type of mask worn is also a status symbol. Wealthy and prominent elves wear masks of gold or platinum possibly studded with jewels; while the poorest of elves wear ones of shinning bronze or light-weight aluminum give sufficient technology to produce the metal.
   Despite their light build, elves are strong. They might not have large muscles, but all they do have are very highly toned. They are also quick, easily the swiftest of all humans. Elves value athletics and appearance. Elves are vein by nature, and quickly judge others by the way that they look. Elf society is also generally aristocratic, where which family one is born into usually determines their future.
   Elves have generated around themselves a culture that declares they are superior to other sapiens. This has not endured them to their neighbors. The fact that elves are generally seen to stand for wealth, royalty, fat cats, and every other thing that is viewed as wrong with humanity, drives other species away from them. Elves live in self-segregation. However, since elves dislike manual labor, those that do not have a highly automated industry, must allow guest workers into their borders. This usually leads to the elves being overwhelmed by those they view as beneath them. Elves can be viewed with simply contempt, or severe hostility. The later tends to lead towards genocidal thoughts and the eventual extermination of Aureus from a specific location.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Dwarves and/or gnomes.

Homo pygmaeus
            The pygmaeus species consists of two races; the dwarves and the gnomes. Centuries after ogres were created, the Atlantians engineered workers who could tolerate high gravity and toxic airs (pygmaeus can tolerate higher concentrations of carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide will not kill them nearly as fast as a sapien) that often are associated with worlds very rich in mineral wealth. Pygmaeus typically stand about chest-high to their sapien counterparts, at about 1.3-1.5 meters in height, and have masses similar to sapiens. The pygmaeus is short, and stout, and most of that stoutness in muscle, and were engineered to last; their natural lifespans stretch to two hundred fifty years. Unlike sapiens (off Earth) pygmaeus have facial hair, and the men almost always grow beards.

            Pygmaeus live to work, literally. So perfect was the genetic engineering, that pygmaeus only feel comfortable while working. Because they were made to extract minerals (be miners) pygmaeus make their homes underground, in cliff faces and inside mountains. The pygmaeus life cycle goes something like this:

0-20) Youth; this is the time when the pygmaeus grows to adulthood, and is spent learning academics. Pygmaeus graduate from basic schooling by the age of twenty. Even when young, pygmaeus appear overly serious and uptight to other species of humanity. They treat games the same way as work; if you are not going to do it right, then do not even bother.

20-50) Parenthood; because they are human, albeit a different species, there is a limited period in their life that the females are capable of bearing children. Pygmaeus pass their genes on as soon as they leave schooling. Dwarves will bear between one and four children, whatever is required to maintain a steady, and viable population. Like everything else in life, pygmaeus take raring children seriously, more so than anything else. However, once the child (or children) reaches 20 years of age, their parents move on to the next stage of pygmaeus lives.

50 onward) Professional; after the children are out on their own, producing their own children, pygmaeus commence a lifetime working. While raising their children, pygmaeus have jobs, and continue studying, not perfecting their field of choice until around fifty. Once children are off on their own, pygmaeus focus all their energy on what they were designed to do; work.

            Pygmaeus have no concept of retirement, as their instincts (programed by their designers) will not allow them to not contribute to society. Which is doubly good in the case of city-ships; there is no retirement in space. There is little a pygmaeus likes less than being idle, and have little tolerance for freeloaders. The necessary evil of any society is government and administration. The way pygmaeus choice their leaders is by election. These are quite different from sapien elections. When pygmaeus vote, they tend to nominate one of the group, usually the one paying the least attention, ask for a second, and then vote. Heads of companies and guilds are elected, but not in the same way as politicians. In business, pygmaeus must work their way to the top, and their corporate society is a meritocracy. In either political or business worlds, the pygmaeus elected does not want the job, but by their nature, they will do their best at it.

            The pygmaeus mindset is very logical, very analytical. Both gnomes and dwarves are also extremely stubborn, only changing when they want (of decide it must be) and will not adapt to another way of doing things easily. Because of this, pygmaeus take far longer to assimilate into a culture than either sapien or ogre. Because they live for over two hundred years, an extended pygmaeus family can contain several generations. Pygmaeus families do stay in contact, but their working nature keeps them spread out. Pygmaeus tend to live alone after the age of fifty. However, if two parents are of the same profession, and sufficiently tolerate each other, it has been known for these pairs to stay together for life.

            The main difference between dwarves and gnomes come down to two sayings. Dwarves believe that if it is not broken, then one should not fix it. Dwarves tend to stay with tried and true paths, and though they innovate, they only invent when needed. They tend to refine their proven method over a great deal of time. Gnomes believe that there is always a better way. They tend to constantly improve their ways of doing things. On average, gnomes tend to stick with development and research, while dwarves stick with industries. However, dwarves can be scientist and gnomes can be miners. Once a pygmaeus picks a profession, they stick with it for life. Pygmaeus are passionate about their pursuits and will dive into them with single-minded drive. A dwarven work ethic is a compliment, or a way of saying one works too much; pygmaeus take great pride in their occupations and creations. The biggest insult to any pygmaeus is to call them a cheat. Contracts with pygmaeus are simple enough affairs with the dwarf or gnome wanting little more than a hand shake and a good word. Pygmaeus react extremely violently when this trust is broken.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Little green men


Origin: Goblins and Gremlins originated in the Small Magellanic Cloud, same as the dragons. 20 million years ago, gobli were spread out across a handful of systems when they were discovered by the dragons. Seeing the gobli were far more dexterous and capable, the dragons sought to conquer and domesticate the gobli. When the gobli were conquered, the dragons employed them in their industry as ‘beasts of burden’. When dragons set out to colonize a new world, they took gobli with them to build what limited infrastructure the dragons (who never lived in cities and required large tracks of territory with prey to sustain themselves) required to stay in contact with its other worlds. When the Dragon’s homeworld and other core worlds were destroyed by a Gamma Ray Burst, dragons and gobli alike found themselves scattered across two satellite galaxies along with the Main Galaxy. This is why goblins are spread out across so many worlds; they were planted there when dragons arrived.

Size: Goblins stand not much more than one meter in height, usually to stomach level on a typical sapien. They are not much more massive than the average sapien child.

Head: Their heads are triangular in shape with flappy triangular ears (like long dog ears) a large nose, reddish eyes and a mouth full of sharp teeth. These teeth are deceiving as both species of gobli are strictly herbivores. These teeth are used to slice plant matter, perhaps tough leaves from their ancient, and lost, homeworld. Their second types of teeth, in the back of their jaws, are used to grind their food.

Limbs: Gobli hands and feet end with five digits. On each tip is a claw-like nail.

Color: Goblins in general are a light green in color, with a smooth skin.

Internal Structure: Gobli are endothermic, but their thin skin makes it easier for them to lose heat. As they did not evolve on a world in an ice age, nor tend to live in cold climates, this is of little consequence. The only effect this would induce would be the gobli wearing thicker clothing and more of it. They have a pair of lungs flanking a four-chamber heart. Their stomachs are rather large in proportion to their body size, and give them a slightly pudgy look. They require large stomachs as vats to digest the plant matter they eat.

Diet: Gobli are strictly vegetarian. In fact, their digestive system cannot even handle meat. To both species of gobli, chili peppers prove to be a strong stimulant, and potentially toxic.

Lifecycle: Gobli life cycles are quite different from sapiens. Both species live for forty years and give birth (are reproductive by the age of nine) in a far different way than humans, or mammal. Gobli are a genus of mammal-like reptiles that in which the female will contain her baby in an internally held egg sack. The egg is never laid, and the young will only be born when the egg is ready to ‘hatch’. The unborn feed upon a sack of yoke before birth, and can eat solids upon birth. Their reproduction is similar to vipers and some species of shark. This lack of direct connection between mother and child leaves gobli families not nearly as tightly knitted as any mammal. Though they are not instinctually as family-bound as true mammals, gobli still form mating pairs as a means to increase the odds of the offspring’s survival.

General Society: The most common, or at least most widely seen, species of the genus Gobli are goblins. They are diurnal and cautious beings. At first, a goblin will act timid to a new situation, but as any threat of danger passes, the gobli will relax and become more social. Despite their sharp teeth and nails (more like claws), goblins are rather peaceful. They rarely start conflict, but will fight fiercely when need arises. Goblins seeing an opportunity to improve their lives at the expense of others will take it, as long as they are certain they will prevail. The only article of clothing worn by any member of either species is trousers. They will also bundle up much tighter in colder environments than any human, for gobli (no matter which species) are not as efficient at retaining their body heat.

Gobli live in various state of technological advance. Since the dragon’s ‘empire’ collapsed some 13 million years ago, gobli civilization have risen and fallen. Many turned upwards towards space, where dragons would not bother them. Gobli city-ships are in constant movement, and often trade both genetic and cultural information with other worlds. Sometimes, gobli from one world will simply leave it and colonize another. This constant flow of data keeps the gobli language relatively constant, though it tends to drift the further one travels from their starting point. Gobli favor worlds where the dragons have already gone extinct.
One might think after millions of years in space, gobli might have evolved to nearly god-like state, at least technologically speaking. They have not physically evolved, because their ‘humanoid’ configuration suits them for their life style (i.e. there is no reason for their body to change itself). The only evolutionary change came when the gremlins shot off from the gobli branch. Advance technology, that does much of the work for goblins, also prohibits evolution. Technologically speaking, the gobli are not an overly imaginative genus. Since technology fits their life-style, and their life-styles seldom change (unless acted on by an outside force) then technology does not change often. They might improve efficiency, but innovation is rare.

Communication: Gobli language consists of guttural grunt, growls and barks. It is similar enough to human speech in terms of physiology that goblins have little trouble speaking human languages and vice-versa. Though humans never bother to learn the language, and eventually goblin populations are linguistically assimilated.

Gremlins: Gremlins are a dark forest green and have slightly larger eyes than their goblin cousins. Gremlins are this way because they favor living in the darkest of forests, as their eyes are extremely photosensitive. Gremlins are a nocturnal species, a habit given from their ancient past when a population of goblins was isolated from their species over 20 million years ago. At the time, the gobli were a two planet species within their own system. However, a disaster, followed by large-scale warfare on their homeworld left its infrastructure in tatters and isolated many gobli colonists on the outermost of the two planets. It was not for thousands of years until the gobli on the homeworld were able to return to space. By that time, the gobli adapted to life on the outer planet and became the gremlins.