There are those who accuse Mer Vadális Exoarchaeological University of being home to, if not infested with, one of the Starfall Arc’s greatest collections of adventurers, looters, graverobbers, smugglers, treasure-hunters, weirdseekers, and other scoundrels of like nature. It is my honor to assure them that they are understating the case.

Morrí Elarios, 7th Chancellor of the University

How I Met Your Mother

The air whirred when she stepped into the room.

That wasn’t all that unusual. Lots of bravos would spin a sphere or two around their heads as an impromptu weapon or threat display. Some of the more dangerous ones could manage three, with a coin-flip chance on whether what made them dangerous was the odds of them losing their grip on the third.

She had twelve.

Not sharing a track, either, like an idiot’s shotgun. She had them spinning at different angles, weaving in and out of intersecting orbits, in what was on one hand a breathtaking display of psychokinetic prowess, and on the other hand was a blatant statement that she could kill everyone in the bar between one breath and the next.

Cocky bastard, thought I. Then again, I bought her a drink.


On that day, eleven years before Alphas I crowned himself, two figures walked down the dusty road striking down from the wooded dales of upland Vintiver into the setting sun. The hills on either side of the road were shadowy, draped as they were with the vines of the purplish-black Vintiver grapes, whose scent hung heavy in the stifling air of late summer, but no such mercy was afforded the road itself.

The elder of them marched steadily in front, face battered by sun and wind beneath black hair, bound back by a leather thong, and bearing a notable gray streak from an underlying scar. Swathed in a light cotton wrap, covered only by a few selected plates of lacquered armor and the pouches and bundles at his wide belt, the sheathed teirian across his back and hanrian ready at his hip made his profession abundantly clear.

The younger stumbled along behind him, face purpling under sweat-streaked blond hair. Wrapped in antiquated bronze chain from neck to ankle, while the thin-bladed knives of his bandolier and the glaive upon which he leaned tried to convey that same impression, his need to lean under the weight of the immense pack slung across his back detracted rather from it.

The younger spoke.


The elder replied.


“This is adventuring.”


“The books never mentioned this part.”


“All the walking, I mean.”


“Epic quests, terrifying foes, romance, treasure, unbelievable sights, forbidden and forgotten wisdoms, ancient artifacts from the era beyond time, and greater than even odds of unpleasant death, yes, but not all the walking.”


“But I suppose we have to get to them somehow.”


“I just assumed that we would have some suitably epic mode of transportation, too.”


“Don’t you have anything to say besides ‘mm’?”

“No. Walking.”


Trope-a-Day: Badass Longcoat

Badass Longcoat: Ah, yes, the traditional garb of the adventuring classes, not to mention the more… rakish of the free traders. Whether it’s a duster or a greatcoat, it looks cool, contains plenty of Hammerspace even without exotic technologies, can conceal any amount of discreet gadgetry within the fabric, and billows behind one in an appropriately dramatic manner as required. (Whether or not there is any wind, this can be arranged.)

Don’t go looking for trouble without one!

(That special variation that is the sadly-not-yet-troped Badass Labcoat will be covered when we get to Science Hero.)


Rebellion! Insurrection! Vocabulary! (Also, superheroes.)

More questions from over on G+:

How do the words “insurrection” and “rebellion” translate from Imperial to Earthian? Here they have a few too many overtones of “You should be happy that my boot is embracing eternity with your face”, something tells me that those connotations would not exist there.

Well, the answer there is “with great care, mostly, because of the connotations”.

For “rebellion”, you have your choice of three common phrases in the Eldraeic:

  • travocíë livrás, which glosses as – more or less – “citizen default”;
  • tradaranan paléëf, which glosses as “coadunate self-defense”; or
  • tradaranan ca-paléëf, which also glosses as “coadunate self-defense”, but in super-sarcastic sneer-quotes.

The first implies that you had a sovereignty contract (not, obviously, an implicit social contract which is no contract at all) and you defaulted on it, rather than exercising whatever exit option there might be. Implicitly, therefore, you’re rebelling against a Society of Consent, and as such that has all the “You Rebel Scum!” connotations you might care to include.

The second implies you’re rebelling against a non-consensual government, which is just a fancy form of collective self-defense and might as well be called such.

The third, which is used rather more often, also implies that, but in the fine spirit of The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized denotes that the speaker thinks that you’re just as unpleasant a bunch of slaving thugs as the people you’re notionally rebelling against and are, indeed, primarily motivated by a desire to inflict your flavor of nonconsensual oppression rather than by an earnest desire for liberty and her handmaidens.  Connotations vary by tone and attitudinals, from weary cynicism to “fuck you guys right in the ear”.

For “insurrection”, you can probably get closest with ulmúrahain, although since that most accurately glosses as “war to unmake the emergent order (of society)”, can in theory attach to anything with enough participants that fails to respect the rights of person and property from an occupation up through a riot to an outbreak of civil war, and implies that the people participating in it are hosti sapienti generis who should probably be exterminated forthwith on general principle, it may be a little harsh for many of our uses of the word.

Also, do they have a recognizable superhero genre? In both the Soph With Powers, an Modern Myth senses.

Yes, with the caveat that dressing eccentrically, developing theme-based gadgetry, and fighting something loosely definable as some sort of good fight or other is at least halfway to being a respectable profession (they usually call those ones “adventurers“), which does change the perspective a bit.

But there is no denying the popularity of the transmedia franchises built around Captain Cosmos, the Orichalcium Fist, the Accomplished Perfect Academician, Lady Fusion, the Steel Engineer, etc., etc., etc., and feel free to consult Exalted‘s list of Alchemical names for other appropriate monikers.

(They do have a disproportionate number of the gadgeteer types – say, the Orichalcium Fist, who is essentially the local interpretation of the Iron Man archetype – given their predilections for smart people and shiny things.)


Surrounded By These

The guards were greenjacks.

For those of you, gentle readers, who aren’t familiar with the term, it’s a gutter-Trade form of the Eldraeic tragrían jaqef (“plant servile”). They’re bioroids, a rough bipedal form hacked together out of freelibs and bootleg genetic sequences hung off a carbon-composite frame, strong and resilient so long as all their chimeric parts stay in approximate sync. They’re also really cheap to produce – a dedicated jackfab and whatever organic sludge you can get your hands on can turn them out by the platoon – and to maintain; their green skin contains a broad-spectrum, high-efficiency photosynthetic ooze, so if you keep them in illuminated environments – but hopefully not around anything that stains – they don’t even have to eat, except for repair raw-material top-ups, and the typical greenjack doesn’t last long enough in use to need them.

This is because greenjacks appeal to exactly the wrong sort of people, for all the above reasons, and for one more: greenjacks are stupid. A useful bioroid mind requires a sophisticated brain and an extensive learning-training period, neither of which is compatible with being churned out quickly and cheaply, and comes with its own “disadvantages”.

All of which is to say that this particular attempt to produce an inexpensive labor force instead gave the greatest gift ever to those certain mentalities that like made-to-order obedient lackeys and dumb thugs, are prone to need replacements fairly often, and who value the aforementioned quantities much more highly than others.

To adventurers, of course, they’re just a amusing dance for a Sulamis afternoon.

An Expensive Sword, Serril Tsurilen

Trope-a-Day: Invocation

Invocation: Yeah, for quite a few people – mostly the “freelance adventurer” type that causes so much trouble in the Galaxy.  But Rule of Cool is in effect in-universe – that’s just melodrama, (or, if you prefer, pretension).  Whatever tech they’re using to hero it up would work just fine without all the shouting and posturing, it just wouldn’t look awesome enough.

Glory is Recklessness Leavened with Success

The freelance adventurer (and his cousins, such as the curiosity-ridden weirdseeker), that product of societies with more wealth and capability than anything resembling sense, is a magnet for trouble, a fountain of disturbance, a contagion of confusion, and a blight upon all settled states of affairs and those enjoying them.

In fairness to them, they are famous for fighting valiantly to liberate the oppressed, avenge the wronged, help the distressed, and solve any problems they happen across in their wanderings that – in their eyes – seem to need it.  In fairness to everyone else, they are infamous for interfering on a whim in the affairs of others, picking up unconsidered trifles along their way, unearthing things best left buried, and flying off into the stars leaving chaos in their wake after the liberating, avenging, helping, and solving is done – and, of course, spending and wagering freely, taking unwise dares, getting blind drunk anywhere from the highest spires to the filthiest dives, and flirting shamelessly with everyone they find attractive all the while.

A less welcome export of those societies, perhaps, but they do keep life in the Worlds interesting.

Albeit in a manner best enjoyed, for most of us, on the printed page.

– introduction to Of Fire and Lightning, Ambría Calanté