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Drake's Dozen
 

Revolution is coming


Industrial, magical, political; the dual-moon planet of Neyush is on the precipice of change.

People of many different species, reeling from the effects of the Great War almost two centuries ago, are accelerating into a new age, fueled by innovative discoveries and forgotten secrets. The event that ended the war and decimated an entire people is referred to as The Blink.

No-one knows how or why it happened, though many have theories.

Little fish, big pond


The Blink also brought change to the Dozen.

Empty metaphysical Spheres of existence, or the homes of unknowable, ancient gods? Opportunities for life-enhancing magitech, or eldritch traps waiting to ensnare the curious? Aspects of reality as normal as time and gravity, or complex creations of the Drake herself?

Whatever the Dozen truly are, something is different now. Something changed with the Blink. Something is coming to Neyush.

Are the secrets behind the Dozen the key to saving it, or the catalyst for its doom?


Message me on Discord (Pan#1034) if you want to say hi.

 

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Spectre Blacks

I didn't even see them until after I heard the scream. They were a shadow, except for the eyes. Those eyes...

Design

Function over Form

Banished by an unknown force to the frozen wasteland of another planet, the vena on Rudeska have been forced to become more utilitarian and pragmatic than their brothers and sisters still on Neyush.

This pragmatism is evident in the uniforms worn by the most famous group of operatives among them: The Spectres.

Any Colour You Want

As long as it's black. Originally assumed to be a conscious choice for stealth or intimidation, the colour is simply a factor of the materials.

The stealth and fear benefits are happy side-effects.

Leather and Rubber

The odd shine to the spectres' outfits is one of the (many) factors contributing to their mystery.

Again, not a choice but a result of them being constructed first out of dyozhik leather (these older outifts feature more brown and grey hues), and more recently out of rubber from trees in the Belt.

Hoods and Masks

While both the hoods (that are worn just as often as not while on Neysuh) and the masks associated with spectres help maintain their anonymity, both have secondary purposes:

Hoods

A thick hood is necessary on the cold dusk side of Rudeska. On Neyush, however, spectres have been seen with them raised just as often as not. Without them, it's clear to see that many spectres wear their hair far less stylised than is the current fashion in Yenagun.

Masks

These also help keep body heat in, but, more importantly, they keep out the invasive sulfur associated with the Nomad magic that powers their teleporters.

Blind Seers

The spectres' teleporters are based on Absent magic harnessing a shard of a Nomad Stone.

Although the secret to making them was lost with their creator, he left behind the knowledge of an Absent procedure allowing spectres to use the devices to harness the power of the Nomad. The milky eyes sported by all spectres can see just fine; they are just a side-effect of that procedure.

Essential Accessories

He left confidently but when he returned, his body was still and colder even than the arctic landscape from which we operated. A wind accompanied the corpse that had come in his stead that burned our throats.   I, like the rest of my people, am no stranger to death–it was not a fresh corpse. He had been alive hours ago, yet the evidence in front of me suggested he had perished days, if not weeks earlier.  
— Excerpt from Galnë's journal

These items aren't technically clothing, but no spectre is ever seen on-mission without them.

Chirkemev

The proper Rudeskan Elveñan term for the Nomad teleporters that allow spectres to operate so efficiently. Thanks to the Nomad magic that powers them, they can carry out a mission and teleport back to Rudeska to avoid capture.

The very nature of their magic means that no teleporter stays on Neyush long enough to be studied in any real depth. Notes on their design and operation are mostly conjecture or the limited info gathered from spectres themselves.

Magitech

What is known about them is that they are handheld, copper devices. They look somewhat similar to an hourglass with two glass sections, just with more tubing and wiring, a protruding failsafe switch, and a small gauge. One section of the 'hourglass' holds an unstable shard carved from a Nomad Philosopher's Stone.

If it's Stupid but it Works...

On activation, the shard is impossibly squeezed through the opening into the other section, putting the shard under incredible physical and extraplanar stress. Somehow, the Absent magic used to create the device harnesses the release of energy caused by this and hurls the nearest consciousness (and its body) from Rudeska to Neyush.

Start the Clock

After the first activiation, an invisible timer is started; the teleporter brutalises the already-unstable shard, which starts to break down and leak Nomad energy, giving the user a limited time window within which to re-activate it. On this second activation, the crystal is squeezed back through to the first chamber and the user is sent back to where they originally jumped from. The Nomad shard is destroyed after the stress of two trips.

Boomerang

All teleporters have a built-in failsafe that automatically triggers after a certain amount of time.

Their main purpose is to prevent the user being sent somewhere far worse when the shard of Philosopher's Stone breaks and releases chaotic energies, but they have the useful side-effect of ensuring that spectres (and their valuable teleporters) return home safely even they are captured or incapacitated.

Nomad Teleporter
Technology / Science | Jul 3, 2021

The Nomad-powered teleporter used by Spectres

Obsidian Blades

Rudeska lacks many of the natural resources and much of the biodiversity that make Neyush such a thriving, complex planet. Those resources that do exist are usually found in the Belt, which is hotly contested by the native troll population.

Rudeskan vena managed to find evidence of old volcanic activity in parts of the Dusk side where trolls are unable to travel, and with that they found vast supplies of obsidian. Perfect for creating terrifying, deadly, disposable weapons.

Over the Years

Wrap Up Warm

Spectre blacks can be traced back to innocent roots. Anyone who has spent time in the frozen north of Pfemba has either heard of or has experienced first-hand the warmth of dyozhik-leather parkas.

The amphibious dyozhik have been synonymous with vena culture, heritage, and craftsmanship for centuries; even for a people displaced to another planet, that level of tradition is difficult to step away from, especially when said people live for hundreds of years individually.

Besides the impressive greenery, there seems to be a lot of useful rock and other building materials just below the surface. Long-lasting building materials.   In addition, we should be able to use the sap from some of those trees to produce a rubber with which we can start making some functional clothing. I was lucky enough to have my dyozhikskin parka on me, but many among us were not.
— Excerpt from Belnë's journal

Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.

Even now, 157 years after the Blink, subtle shades of brown and grey in some spectres' outfits point to surviving traditional clothing. There is simply no material on Neyush that compares to the natural warmth and waterproofing of genuine dyozhik leather.

All leather, no matter how tough and hard-wearing, eventually wears down. With no livestock on Rudeska, the vena once again had to adapt. Fibres woven from strong plants allowed for repairs, but ultimately even they weren't enough to preserve the clothing they were wearing when the Blink happened.

Plant-Based Alternatives

The ancient trees in the Belt secrete a thick sap that can be easily processed into hard-wearing rubber. While not quite as insulating as dyozhik leather, it is enough to block out the harsh winds, a constant reminder that Rudeska is tidally-locked to the sun.

Along with its excellent waterproofing, Rudeskan rubber has made for a reasonable alternative, and it is this material that gives the spectres their signature, modern-day appearance.

Tall, Dark, and Deadly

Very little was known about the spectres until very recently. In fact, until the 8-day War, most people simply assumed they had all perished in the Blink 157 years ago.

They first became known in Neyush during an 'attack' in Yenagun that sparked the 8-day War, acting as the final straw among rising tension between humans and vena in the city. A second attack 8 days later ended the war, under morally grey circumstances.

Since then, it has become clear that the attack was a badly-timed accident; the perpetrator couldn't stay to defend their actions thanks to the limitations of their prototype teleporter, so a city already in racial turmoil was simply left to spread rumours and conspiracy theories.

Spectres
Organization | May 3, 2022

Mysterious vena assassins, responsible for the Eight Day War

#NotAllVena

While all spectres are Rudeskan vena, not all Rudeskan vena are spectres.

The term 'spectre' only applies to those vena who have undergone the procedures and magical training necessary to operate the Nomad teleporters that allow them to travel between planets in order to carry out missions.

The majority of vena on Rudeska fulfill the varied roles that any civilisation needs:

  • Agriculture
  • Sanitation
  • Lawmaking/lawkeeping
  • Research
  • Slavery Recruitment



Cover image: Pan via HeroForge

Comments

Author's Notes

Entry for the May 2021 Costume Challenge


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15 May, 2021 15:46

I love the amount of detail put into this. I especially appreciate that you give a clear reason as to how the material is made and why. It gives me a good idea of what the place they live in is like, but also cultural about these people. I personally appreciate the extra equipment and changes over the years. Overall, a great article!

Please check out my article for the Tavern Challenge! The Black Haired Dog!
Sage PanAndPaper
AS Lindsey (Pan)
17 May, 2021 11:31

Very kind words, thanks! I'm glad that all came across.

Drake's Dozen | Magic and Tech and Identity, oh my.

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15 May, 2021 18:40

Nice article. A very simple costume. I would like to know more about the spectres themselves

Check out the worlds of Solis Empire, Magic Earth, Ithir and Vyraj
Check out my Summer Camp progress page
Sage PanAndPaper
AS Lindsey (Pan)
17 May, 2021 11:33

Thanks! Simple and effective, that's Rudeska for you.   I do have a Spectres article, but it's currently private as they feature heavily in the book I'm working on and I keep changing specifics about them...

Drake's Dozen | Magic and Tech and Identity, oh my.

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15 May, 2021 22:22

Very nice article! I love the layout and that you have no long pieces of text which makes it all easy to read. Some nice titles as well such as 'Any Colour You Want' :p   You explained every part very well and I especially like how you discuss the leather alternatives they created. Good read!

Feel free to check out my River challenge article and my Secrets in the swamp Adventure article if you want to see what I am up to!
Sage PanAndPaper
AS Lindsey (Pan)
17 May, 2021 11:35

Thank you! Intimidatingly large walls of text are a pet peeve of mine, and I'm glad you enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek titles.

Drake's Dozen | Magic and Tech and Identity, oh my.

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TimeBender
Time Bender
18 May, 2021 00:03

This is a very nicely detailed article! I think I can figure out the history without having to read the other articles (although I might, because this is a fascinating article). Great job!

Sage PanAndPaper
AS Lindsey (Pan)
24 May, 2021 09:04

Very kind, thanks! Most of the linked articles are in private for now while they're still a disorganised collection of contradictions and vague ideas...

Drake's Dozen | Magic and Tech and Identity, oh my.

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Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
19 May, 2021 12:45

Nice article. It's interesting that you use leather and rubber for warmth when that would not be material to wear in cold weather for us.   " Slavery Recruitment" Lol   I'm wondering what the teleporters look like. Some kind of jewellery they are wearing?

To see what I am up to, see the list of my Summer Camp articles—my favourite is Sentient Cells.
Sage PanAndPaper
AS Lindsey (Pan)
24 May, 2021 09:02

Yup! They work with they've got.   As for the teleporters, they're handheld devices - I should update the article with more info on them!

Drake's Dozen | Magic and Tech and Identity, oh my.

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23 May, 2021 23:21

This is a really interesting outfit! You've put a lot of detail on both the practical and cultural side, and it makes for a really well blended and interesting mixture of ideas and information. Its really awesome, kudos to you!!

Author of Arda Almayed - check out my SummerCamp articles here!
Sage PanAndPaper
AS Lindsey (Pan)
24 May, 2021 09:03

Thanks so much! Glad you enjoyed it.

Drake's Dozen | Magic and Tech and Identity, oh my.

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24 May, 2021 23:03

Nice info on what they use and why, real curious why they're doing these missions, hope to see that in the future.

Sage PanAndPaper
AS Lindsey (Pan)
25 May, 2021 09:31

Thanks! They and their motives feature heavily in the story I'm working on at the mo, so watch this space ;)

Drake's Dozen | Magic and Tech and Identity, oh my.

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27 May, 2021 18:41

Fantastic article, with so much detail behind everything! I liked the double meaning that the hoods and masks have, that was a very nice touch, and the eyes turning to a milky color is also very interesting. The addition of the tree sap as an alternative is also very nice! Not to mention, the outfit just looks great.

Come and take a look around my world, Totania!
If you'd like, also check out my Tavern Challenge Entry, The Gilded Camphor.
Sage PanAndPaper
AS Lindsey (Pan)
28 May, 2021 07:47

Thanks so much! Everything about the spectres is a practical response to their situation, so I'm glad you enjoyed the meanings behind each bit.

Drake's Dozen | Magic and Tech and Identity, oh my.

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3 Jun, 2021 11:25

Hahahaha, the heading + intro sentence here cracked me up:

Any Colour You Want
As long as it's black.
  It was a really nice article, giving a good perspective into this culture. However, it has a lot of terminology that people who are not familiar with your setting are gonna blank on. And it occurs often enough that it may demotivate further reading. You could easily fix this by adding tooltips to terms like "Nomad magic", "Absent magic", "Blink" etc...   I also loved that you not only covered the clothing but also all those extra things they usually carry that allow them to do their job. It ties everything nicely together :)

Sage PanAndPaper
AS Lindsey (Pan)
3 Jun, 2021 11:33

Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it! Ain't got time for boring headers.   That's a fair point on all the terms - I haven't got round to properly making articles for them all yet, so I really should go through and pop some tooltips in.   Thanks again :)

Drake's Dozen | Magic and Tech and Identity, oh my.

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3 Jun, 2021 14:32

I love this article. The amount of detail is incredible. I like how you have chosen to use assassins instead of a military uniform. The history and cultural aspects are great. I look forward to more articles.

Check out Corrigenda and 2275 earth
Sage PanAndPaper
AS Lindsey (Pan)
3 Jun, 2021 14:43

Thanks so much! I'm really enjoying just how different everyone's responses to the same prompt are.

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