Bric-a Brac of the Third Imperium

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Bric-a Brac of the Third Imperium

Postby Astromancer » Mon Mar 31, 2008 1:45 am

Here's the deal. Everybody in this thread will describe a
commonplace item or cultural artefact of the I3. The item must be a
source of plot hooks, slang, or simply cool strangeness. I'll go
first.

The Jewel Books.

Duke Alfred was a close relative to three early Emperors (you
pick for your campaign), he was an able adminstrater but his heart
was in the study of folklore and he loved the wonder tales and fairy
stories of Solimani cultures. As he was important in setting
educational policy in the early decades of the Imperium, he decided
to make some collections of Earth's folktales part of the curriculum.

Duke Alfred, leaning on Lang's Fairy Books of many Colors,
gathered tales from many Earth cultures and rewrote them into the
common Language of the 3rd Imperium. Some say he had the Jewel Books
create the language of the 3rd Imperium. Duke Alfred truned out to
be a master stylist, even a millenium later, the Jewel Books are
seen as the basis of any fine prose style of the 3rd I!

Because of Duke Alfred's conections as well as his genius in
writting prose. Just about every school in the 3rd Imperium uses the
Jewel Books as readers. Kids love them, teachers find them useful,
and school boards and similar creatures find them charming and safe.
The Jewel Books, because they are used to teach young readers, are
much more likely to be printed rather than ebooks. Especially when
compared to other 3rd I literary works. Especially because the
subject matter leads itself to fine illustrated editions.

The Jewel Books are called that because each of the thirty
volumes is named for a Jewel(the Emerald Book, the Ruby Book, the
Coral Book, the Onyx Book, ect). The jewel in the title generally
reflects the contents. The Emerald book has many Irish and Arab
wonder tales in it. The Onyx, Jet, and Obsidian, books contain most
of the ghost stories. The Onyx and Obsidian books also have many
Mesoamerican stories. The Pearl and Coral books have lots of sea
stories. The Jade and Pearl books have many east Asian tales. Each
book is generally printed in a highly durable format (for the use of
young readers) in bound in covers whose colors tend to be
coordinated with the title.

Because Duke Alfred was the greatest prose stylist of the Early
Imperium, the Jewel Books are heavily studied and like the plays of
Shakespeare, the paragraphs and lines are numbered. Thus like
Shakespeare, any quote has a mathematical equivalent. Any sentence
in the Jewel Books is in a real sense a number. Thus the Jewel
Books, since they are the most widely distributed printed text in
the 3rd Imperiun, are the basis for thousands of secret codes. The
perfect key to any code hidden in plain sight!

The Jewel Books also shape language in more mudain ways.
Unbelieveable stories are Jewel Book Tales. Like a Jewel Book Tale
can mean, phony, false, delusional, lovely, or dreamy, depending on
context. "Tell me another on Al." is a common way to call someone a
liar, a fool, or just gullible.

Okay, you make up a piece of cool bric-a-brac.
Last edited by Astromancer on Tue Sep 30, 2008 2:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Astromancer » Fri Apr 04, 2008 1:37 am

Won't anybody try their hand?
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Postby Golan2072 » Fri Apr 04, 2008 7:21 am

Spacer Stew (AKA Hydroponics Soup)
This ubiquitous Solomani dish originates in the early pre-gravitic days of space exploration, when shipping foodstuffs (and especially raw and fresh ingredients) from Earth to the orbital stations and planetary and asteroid colonies was extremely expensive. In the cramped rotation-gravity stations and underground moon caverns of the time, space was at premium and thus agriculture was mostly limited to plant hydroponics (raising meat - especially large vertebrate meat - consumes quite a lot of space, resources and food).

The Spacer Stew is composed of ingredients easily produced by hydroponics - beans (typically gengineered to include the vitamin B12 in order to remove the spacers' dependency on animal products), tomatoes, onions, a little vegetable oil and some salt (locally producible in some colonies, easily imported to others, and only a little is used so a dton of shipment could last for quite a time). Cooking on space stations was usually done in the rotating section; if it was intended to eat in micro-grav the whole stew was mashed in a food processor to produce a soup which could be drunk through a thick straw from a sealed container.

Variations include adding chili peppers; replacing the beans with soy-beans, broad-beans, hummus (chick-peas) or peas; adding peeled shrimps or Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches (arthropods are far more efficient in turning feed into meat than vertebrates; this is why they were popular as a protein source in the early colonies); and adding rice or corn in some cases. Later on, when extra-solar worlds were colonized, locally-available alien plants or even animals were substituted for some of the ingredients.

This is considered a signature Solomani dish, on the menu of every Solomani restaurant, and what you get to eat in the mess if you're a rating in the Solomani navy. As many Imperial worlds were settled by people of Solomani origin, this dish is also very common all across the Imperium.
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Postby Astromancer » Tue Apr 08, 2008 2:37 am

Thanks Golan2072,

Let me try to prime the pump again.

Cláirseach

The cláirseach is a modified harp, a harp-guitar really. It is as easy to tune and keep tuned as a guitar. It's as loud as a guitar. However, in all other ways it more closely resembles a perfect cross between a harp and a lute.

Invented toward the end of the Ramshackle Empire period, the cláirseach was imediately popular. It was portable, as easy to play moderately well as a guitar, but with amazing possiblities for expression beyond even the finest guitars, and unusally rugged for a musical instrument. Spacers loved the thing.

Durring the rise of the Third Imperium, large amounts of music was written for the cláirseach. It became a sign of elegance to play the cláirseach. Eventually the cláirseach became a symbol of the noblity itself.

This means that groups hostile to the Imperium and the nobility often use inverted or broken cláirseachs as political symbols. Breaking a cláirseach or cutting its strings in public or in a preformance, or depicting the same in a work of art, is often seen as a subversive political statement.

By the same token, the very popularity of the cláirseach makes it part of folk and popular culture. Throughout the Imperium, certain cláirseach tunes are know to work with certain formal poetic meters. Thus any pome published in any of the formal meters used by most Third Imperium poetry is automatically an art song, a folk song, and a rock song. This makes poetry far more demotic, populist, and popular, in the Third Imperium. Famous poets are known in the malls, spaceport bars, and dancehalls!

Well, now you guys add your cool bric-a-brac!



Notes: The poetry bit is a steal from Iranian culture, so that the setting can't be sneered at as Yanks in Space (not that there's anything wrong with that). And cláirseach is the Irish word for harp.
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Postby FallingPhoenix » Tue Apr 08, 2008 4:52 am

Hatch Guardians
also: guan li yuan, guan gong, Gun-ly One, The Gong, or Gunner.

An evolution of the ancient Chinese tradition of painted or statue door guardians, Hatch guardians are intended to ward off evil spirits, the Deep, the Black, bad luck, or whatever other intangible dangers the ship's owners may wish to ward off.

They are usually painted in bright colors on one or both hatches of the ship's airlock(s). They are always facing each other, as back to back is bad luck. This means they are nearly always painted inside the airlock, so that both are visible when passing into or out of the ship. If only one hatch is painted, it is usually the exterior hatch.

Door guardians, in their traditional form, are two Solomani warriors, armed with pole-arms, swords(for one) and staves(for the other), an axe and mace, or occasionally, other combinations. More recent forms may be armed with more modern weapons, or may be other animals or creatures, particularly dragons, a dragon and phoenix, or guardian lions (or fu lions (look up imperial guardian lions on Wikipedia, it's worth a peek)).

FP, who welcomes comments, suggestions, criticism, etc.
Last edited by FallingPhoenix on Wed Apr 09, 2008 6:45 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Aramanthus » Tue Apr 08, 2008 7:15 am

Very cool new devices! Thank you for sharing them. I'll join in later on. I'm beat!
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Postby Astromancer » Mon Apr 21, 2008 1:30 am

Please put in more cool stuff. Pretty please :(
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Postby AKAramis » Mon Apr 21, 2008 6:50 am

Spacer's Trumpet

The standard trumpet, but entirely dismantleable to fit a 5cm deep drawer.

The bell assembles in several rings, and the only solid assembly is the "core mount": the three buttons. The action is slightly taller, and the tube narrower. Also, except for the mouthpiece, all the tubing is adjustable for matching alternate tunings.

Additionally, a mute is also included, as is a stand

(Note that the physics of trumpets basically mean that all musical systems with trumpets will have at least 3 degrees in common with the modern diatonic & chromatic scales (1st, 3rd, 5th))

Parts list:
main body with tubes for keys
moutpiece
input tube
forward main slide
back main slide
1st key slide
2nd key slide
3rd key slide
6 key tube caps (Stored in main body)
3 key buttons (Stored in main body)
1st key action & spring (Stored in main body)
2nd key action & spring (Stored in main body)
3rd key action & spring (Stored in main body)
5 Bell sections (4.5cm each, 0.5cm overlap, they nest when stored.)
4 mute sections
Music holder
folding stand
bore brush
mouthpiece brush
Slide Oil (0.2L)
Calibration Rulers (5 different tuning systems)

GM Notes: this gewgah is a fully functional and decent instrument when in good shape. When in bad shape, it rattles and buzzes. Further, it's not calibrated on instrument; one must use the correct calibration rulers to tune it for use. Sadly, most used ones are missing one or more...

New prices typically about Cr1000 at TL 9+, halved at TL 10+ industrial worlds (but not halved at other TL10+ worlds). Used prices range from 10% to 90% of new, and generally they lose value over time. Expected lifespan, in student hands 10 years, in careful pro hands, 50 years...

(This is actually based upon real travel french horns, where the bells are threaded)
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Postby Jame Rowe » Mon Apr 21, 2008 2:50 pm

Very interesting stuff. Keep it up!

I'd contribute myself but I can't think of anything just yet.
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Postby Shane_Mclean » Wed Apr 23, 2008 5:09 pm

Here's one:

Zero-G Golf

Designed for those long trips in ships with big cargo bays, the zero-g golf kit consists of 18 sticky-back holes, a few magnetic balls, some clubs and an assortment of sticky-back 'obastcles'. The holes are spread randomly around the walls, floor and ceiling of a cargo bay, as are the obstacles. the player hits a magnetic ball towards one of the holes, hoping to hit it just hard enough to get it to stick to a hole pad, without getting close enough to one of the electromagnetic obstacles that will either attract or repell the ball.

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Postby Astromancer » Thu Apr 24, 2008 3:11 pm

I like the Golf idea. It could be a great excuse for why either the heros or the villains are spending time in the cargo hold. Much room for sneakiness :D

This is good! Let's do more!
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Postby Rikki Tikki Traveller » Thu Apr 24, 2008 5:14 pm

Zero G Golf sounds a lot like the Street Golf that is gaining popularity in NY and other large cities.

The existing cargo containers would also be good obstacles and really mess with the magnetics!
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Postby Rikki Tikki Traveller » Thu Apr 24, 2008 5:29 pm

Maybe not Bric-a-Brac but...

Space Quiddich

A Solomani game that originated from a series of books published on Terra during it's pre-space travel era. The game is played in Zero Gravity. Each player has a "broomstick" which incorporates a small compressed gas thruster allowing the player to maneuver. Each player wears a vest that emits a low powered radio signal to the Bludgers.

The Snitch and Bludgers contain small Grav Plates (compressed gas at lower TLs) and use the radio signals emitted by the player's vests to avoid, or attack the players.

Standard JK Rowling Quiddich rules apply regarding scoring and action by the balls.

Variations of this game include one-on-one play with only 1 Bludger and no Snitch (first to 100 points wins) and smaller team play with limited balls. Pick-up games are common as are Crew-against-Passenger games. On larger ships, department teams will often compete against each other for a ship trophy.
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Postby Astromancer » Mon May 05, 2008 2:48 am

Still priming the pump.

Riding Paycocks

These giantic and spectacular birds are one of the few genetically engineered lifeforms to be really popular outside of industry or agriculture. Basically elephant sized and extermely docile Peacocks, although both sexes have the elaborate tail feathers.

Riders sit in howdahs and use reins to controll their steeds. Popular in circus parades, royal processions, carnivals, and palace stables. They actually eat very little for their size (1/2 what an elephant of the same weight would eat).

Some people race their Paycocks, this involves both running and flight and looks incredible even if their are many faster animals.

Who's got more?
Last edited by Astromancer on Thu May 08, 2008 3:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Astromancer » Thu May 08, 2008 3:22 pm

Just flipping this back to the top.

Hey, do any of the writter/publisher types who work for Mongoose like/loath this thread?
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Postby B_Steele » Thu May 08, 2008 3:56 pm

I know I'm getting a kick out of it. I say keep 'em comin'!

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Postby The Greek » Thu May 08, 2008 4:01 pm

I Like It!

The Intergalatic Cookbook

The only cookbook in history thought to have pushed so many races close to war!

Written by top chef Rigella Namsey the book was an underground cult hit, supposedly as a spoof for all the other cookbooks out there that featured unusual ingredients from the worlds beyond the Imperium.

It was the K'Kree who first brought to light the problematic nature of the books with its recipes featuring various sentient races. Unsurprisingly the Aslan and various Vargyr governments soon added their voices in protest, the Hivers initially thought it was a great joke until it became clear that some enterprising traders had been capturing hiver young and shipping them far from their homeworlds to farms where they grew to adulthood destined for the pot.

Namsey is still on the run after her publicist and printer were both assassinated by freelance agents, the K'Kree are prime suspects, although the cookbook's notoriety made her many enemies.

As a footnote - the recipe for K'Kree is Orange Sauce was considered a classic by several (now deceased in unusual circumstances) top gourmands.
Last edited by The Greek on Thu May 08, 2008 9:54 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby Rikki Tikki Traveller » Thu May 08, 2008 9:10 pm

K'Kree burgers RULE. I haven't tried them with Orange Sauce, sounds interes.... BANG <Transmission Ends>
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Postby M. Lydius Of Phoga » Sun May 11, 2008 10:35 pm

Groomites (TL A, Cr 1500)

Contained in a small stainless steel cylinder, Groomites are 100 tiny photoelectric robots that are programmed to groom the user's personal appearance to his or her specifications. A simple program link to a personal computer helps the user define the "look" parameters.

The tiny robots use an electrostatic field around thier transport feet to defeat any biological skin contact reaction a given being may vae to having something small crawling on the skin.

In the span of 30 minutes at nominal setting, Groomites can clean cut and style a person's hair, skin, and nails with mechanical accuracy. The robots are self-cleaning and last for about two years of normal use. The completion time is of course adjusted based on the size and physiology of the user.
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Postby Rikki Tikki Traveller » Mon May 12, 2008 1:03 pm

The standard Groomite (R) comes with a nice pair of goggles that allow the user to NOT watch a bunch of tiny robots running all over them (even if they can't feel them). Sounds CREEPY to me, but I could see it catching on...
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