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The Grand Duchy: Intrigues from the Current Season at Court

J. W. Waterhouse (1849-1917) The Favorites of Emperor Honorius, 1883.Every season brings a fresh round of disputes the Imperial Court must entertain. Feel free to use them as scenarios for roleplaying-focused sessions or as seeds for adventures across the Grand Duchy.

Here, then, are the petitions large and small brought to our Beloved Imperatrix, Regia Moonthorn Kalthania-Reln van Dorig.

Rings to Rule Them All

Her Majesty was asked to mediate the 326th dispute between the Ringsmith’s Guild and the Guild of Wondrous Creators. The issue is whether either group should have a monopoly on the crafting of toe rings, torcs, armbands, earrings, circlets, and the latest rage in resurgent fashion—tiaras. Item quality and expense are two sticking points.

The petition includes examples of magic items that best represents each group’s work in the various categories of adornment.

The Beloved Imperatrix has commanded the items be displayed so that her subjects can take pride in her artisans’ accomplishments.

Her unspoken intent, however, is so foreign emissaries can be awed by their magnificence and other ne’er do wells might be tricked into revealing themselves by rash attempts at thievery.

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Book Review: Jala’s Mask by Mike and Rachel Grinti

Jala's MaskJala and her people live on the Five-and-One Islands. They are a proud race of raiders who have mastered the art of building magical ships from the reefs that surround and protect their islands. This has been the way of her people for the last two hundred years. But things are about to change. King Azi is looking for a new bride and Jala is on the short list. Jala has been raised to be queen and there is nothing that her father wants more than for this to happen. When the time comes for their meeting, Jala is the exact opposite of what her parents have told her to be. This catches the king’s eye and, despite his uncle’s reservations, he chooses to marry her. Jala is whisked away from her family and friends and thrust into the middle of island politics. She quickly learns that her father’s ambitions stretch far beyond just wanting his daughter to be queen. On the second night of her arriving at her new home, the island is attacked by mysterious ships arriving with a heavy fog that reeks of foul magic. One of the islands is decimated and others have not been heard from. In these circumstances, it falls to Azi and Jala to save their people, while trying to navigate the dangerous waters of island politics and trying to get to know one another.

This is not the type of novel I normally read. This is the type of novel I normally read. Those last two sentences are not typos. This is a fantasy novel that is filled with action and adventure, and I normally read those. This novel is a love story set in a fantasy world, and I don’t normally read those. In the end, the co-author team of the Grintis made this a coherent novel that should appeal to a larger swath of audience than your normal run-of-the-mill fantasy novel. This is the type of novel that could get someone who is interested in romance novels to read a fantasy book. This novel, like the Navy SEALs, does double duty at land and on sea.

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The Many Faces of Gaming: Gamers in the Non-English World

The Shrine by John William Waterhouse

Like previous explorations in this column, this author presupposes that the gamers in the subgroup of non-English speakers have little more in common with each other than they do with English-speaking gamers. Their only specific link is that they face certain difficulties when pursuing their hobby in an industry that is dominated by a group that can be inhospitable, though not necessarily deliberately. Problems of translation and a lack of fluency in English limit the breadth and quality of available translated gaming materials. This is the focus of this discussion, which is informed by an interview with French gaming enthusiast and entrepreneur, Leonidas Vesperini. For space reasons, the original interview is not printed here, but some of its most relevant ideas are.

At its most basic, non-English speaking gamers face a relative lack of translations. In some countries, games can survive and flourish only if they are translated into the native language. France is a good example. As Leo told me, sales figures can be as much as 80% better if a game is translated into French. The problem is that some companies don’t have the resources or interest to translate their games. This is especially true in countries with unique languages but small populations.

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Prepared!: Dungeon Props

Fountain in Verona (original photographer Photographer: Riccardo Speziari)You’ve made a great dungeon. It has riveting plot hooks, compelling challenges, custom-made traps, and all the atmosphere of an ’80s goth music video. All it needs are a few flavorful bits to finish it off. Prepared! is here to help with worthy dungeon props ready to drop into your spelunking masterpiece.

The Broken Fountain

Before you sits a simple stone fountain. A cave-in far above caused several large chunks of rock to plummet into the fountain and damage the spout. The falling rock also dislodged several colored stones from their insets in the basin. A quick glance reveals a crudely carved laughing visage in the fountain’s base.

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