The Tales of E.J. Lowell https://www.ejlowell.com Creations from the Five Realms and beyond Mon, 08 May 2017 23:01:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.2 https://www.ejlowell.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/cropped-RavenIcon-32x32.jpg The Tales of E.J. Lowell https://www.ejlowell.com 32 32 Unlimited! https://www.ejlowell.com/unlimited/ Mon, 08 May 2017 23:01:47 +0000 https://www.ejlowell.com/?p=890 Continue reading "Unlimited!"

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Hello, my friends!

I’m typing this in the middle of a rather severe thunderstorm but I’m very pleased to announce that all of my books are now available to read for free on Kindle Unlimited! The Tales from Liserna trilogy has been updated, finally, which means all of the dialogue tags and bugs have been fixed (the ones I had knowledge of anyway) and I can get on to other things.  Namely, finishing the second Redgate book.

I’ll let you all know when next I have stuff.  Slowly whittling down the pile of projects. Slowly.

See you when I see you,
-Ej

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Slow Updates and Anniversaries https://www.ejlowell.com/slow-updates-and-anniversaries/ Sun, 23 Apr 2017 19:05:46 +0000 https://talesofejlowell.wordpress.com/?p=797 Continue reading "Slow Updates and Anniversaries"

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Hello my friends, long time no talk.

Seeing as my last update was in December and I haven’t spoken since I figured I should probably fill you all in on what my wee brain has been up to. Namely, too many things. So many things.

First of all I’m happy to announce that I’m in the process of scanning through the Tales of Esper Ravenwood and the Tales of Liserna, fixing typos and dialogue tags, and adjusting some personal and plot bugs that make me wince every time I think about them (like the end of Lightbringer). The Tales of Esper Ravenwood (Revenant, Scourgemarked, and Lightbringer) are all complete and have been updated in the Amazon Kindle store, as well as had a bit of a price drop. They and the first Redgate Chronicles book are also enrolled in Kindle Unlimited now, so you don’t have to pay for them in order to read them, if you’re a member. The Tales from Liserna (Runesong, Heartnet, and Winterdream) are still in progress but are next on the list. I’m also thinking about revamping the covers, but that’s on the back-burner.

Current projects in the works include finishing up the second Redgate book, New World, as well as a third(and maybe fourth) in planning, tentatively titled Other World. Esper Ravenwood is also bugging me about the tales from his “youth,” including how he met Veraggo, the beautiful Efreet fire dancer, and the rest of the band of bards he used to call family. His prequel series has a working title so far of The Adventures of Esper Ravenwood, or possibly The Bard Chronicles, I haven’t decided yet. Legion might be getting a prequel as well, currently titled “Gatewalker,” but I do believe that title is taken, so it will likely change. “A Long, Cold Road,” featuring Tiberius Winters and a shade named Erron Rook, is in a weird writing/planning limbo at the moment, while I try to figure out what goes where, and more importantly who. Blood of Hyperion is currently cryogenically frozen because the plot got so tangled that I might need a minor miracle in order to pick it up again. Last but not least, The Mythology of Omnia is a project that currently consists of a bunch of ideas for vignettes and short stores, Prose Edda style, about the First Gods, the Old Gods, and pantheonic shenanigans. My plan is to write the little vignettes in between doing other things, since they’ll all be in the same book, hopefully. I have dreams of short story collections, but short stories are very hard to write.

I’ve got a bunch of art projects going on behind the scenes, mostly for other people, but I did finally figure out what I wanted to do with the conglomeration of stories formerly known as both Charge and All’s Well in Asgard. I’ve never been good at sequential art, but I’ve decided to try vignette comics. We’ll see. I’ve got two pages done out of the first seven, so far.

It’s also April. This time last year – in a few days anyway – my best friend was in an auto accident and didn’t make it. First anniversaries are tricky at best. I’m dealing by way of having a list of projects the size of Mt. Evans. Obviously. Don’t worry, I have priorities. Just wanted to mention this as an explanation, if I’m a little bit more quiet than usual around the various tubes in the next few weeks.

See you when I see you, my friends.

ps. It apparently took me the better part of four years to figure out that having an undead main character definitely constitutes Dark Fantasy. WHOOPS.

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A Big Project Win and NaNoWriMo Fail https://www.ejlowell.com/a-big-project-win-and-nanowrimo-fail/ Sun, 11 Dec 2016 21:24:23 +0000 https://talesofejlowell.wordpress.com/?p=732 Continue reading "A Big Project Win and NaNoWriMo Fail"

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Hello friends!

So I tried to do NaNoWriMo this year… and I got a bit distracted. I live in the United States, I’m not sure anyone can blame me if I’ve been a smidge preoccupied. With all that and the fact that I haven’t really written anything in about a year – I was going to back in April but due to an unexpected death of a close friend, it didn’t exactly happen – Marcus, Evaline, and Kisuke might have to wait a bit for their second book to actually get going.

However. Whilst in the middle of trying to do anything related to the Redgate Chronicles, I picked up a project I started back in February, which might seem a little unorthodox. I didn’t really want to say anything about it here in case it ended up being nothing but a pipe dream, but sometime in late November I started the project back up after a several month break (April was rough) and managed to bull my way through it in the space of a couple weeks. That’s the power of a Taurus, my friends.

What is this mystery project? The Five Realms Oracle. The art from which I’ve been posting on my author page over on Facebook since I started. Spoilers are kept to a minimum, I promise. Unless you’re really good at symbolism and theory crafting.

Why am I making an Oracle deck and not, say, a Tarot deck? I certainly have enough characters to do so, between all of the stories. I actually did try to create a Tarot deck once, but the characters and stories changed so much by the time I was done with just the major arcana that I couldn’t continue it. A full 78-card deck is also a massive undertaking, and one I didn’t really think I was ready for after completing the major arcana.

The Five Realms Oracle is a 40 card deck – which might change after I’ve gotten a chance to look at the proof copy, we’ll see – featuring 34 diverse characters from the Five Realms as well as five landscapes (one for each Realm) and a Wyrd card. The deck uses my own hand-made font, Ratatosk, and also pictures 33 runes from the Elder Futhark and Anglo-Saxon Futhorc. I plan to create a full guidebook for the deck at some point, and be able to sell the cards and the book as a set. There are a lot of steps involved in that process though, and I anticipate the cards won’t be out until sometime late next year.

This project has been and will probably continue to be a massive undertaking, for me at least. I find it an excellent way to pay homage to my universe and my characters, in a way that might help guide someone else through their life, or even just have around as a curiosity. It’s something I can hold and work with, which is important to me. At some point I might end up revisiting my previous attempt at a Tarot deck, but that will likely take more than a year to complete.

Have a good one, my friends!
φ

02-bard

 

 

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NaNoWriMo 2016 https://www.ejlowell.com/nanowrimo-2016/ Tue, 01 Nov 2016 15:22:51 +0000 https://talesofejlowell.wordpress.com/?p=698 Continue reading "NaNoWriMo 2016"

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Heyo!

It’s that time again. Time to settle down with a good book and a warm coffee. Of course, I’ll be writing said hopefully-good book. It’s November! Which means it’s National Novel Writing Month, and this year once again I’ll be diving into the Redgate Chronicles with the second book in the series, New World. Marcus, Evaline, and Kisuke were such an awesome group to work with last year, so I’m excited to continue their story.

A quick project update: The Tales of Esper Ravenwood audiobooks are in production (by me, as usual) and will be up on YouTube eventually. Probably not this month. I’ll make an announcement for it when it happens, and I plan to release two chapters a week when I start releasing them. The audio versions of my books have been edited, and I think the story is, frankly, better. Which means I’ll also be creating revised-edition versions of the Kindle books at some point. The Lazarus Anthology and Blood of Hyperion are on the back burner at the moment, and at some point I’d like to visit Esper’s younger years in a series of prequels, tentatively titled the Adventures of Esper Ravenwood. That’s a long-term idea, though, and I won’t know until I get there. Other far-distant projects include a sci-fi universe in the works, slowly developing with the inspiration of my friend and romantic-fantasy writer, Sarahbeth Lazic, and the story formerly known by various names, such as Charge and All’s Well in Asgard. For some reason it isn’t working as a story, which means I need to sit down and have a chat with it at some point. But not this month.

This month I’m breaking out the old Redgate playlist on YouTube and settling in to see what mischief this band of reprobates get up to. To my fellow WriMo’s, as usual, may the words be ever in your favor, and good luck!

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Aside: Character-Driven Workouts https://www.ejlowell.com/aside-character-driven-workouts/ https://www.ejlowell.com/aside-character-driven-workouts/#comments Mon, 26 Sep 2016 01:03:09 +0000 https://talesofejlowell.wordpress.com/?p=622 Continue reading "Aside: Character-Driven Workouts"

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Okay, hear me out. This one’s for writers who struggle to exercise.

Also this is especially fun for people who play D&D, Pathfinder, or whatever-have-you. Like moi.

You know that t-shirt that says, “I’m working out so I can do some of the things my D&D character can?” Well, the way I see it, doing – or attempting to do – some of the things your characters can do is a great way to learn about your character and get into their head, while getting exercise. And it’s kinda fun, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Think about it. How often have you played, say, Assassin’s Creed and wished you could do parkour? And if you can… props to you. All the props. All for you.

Now I’m not saying you have to go out and buy a sword or something to swing around, or go leaping around trying to do flying kicks or weird, super-human abilities. That’s a great way to hurt yourself. Or you wallet. However, picking out an action that your character does that might seem trivial to them, and trying to do it yourself, can and probably will help you write that character better. And it might just put some muscle on those bones. (points at self; I am twig)

For example: many fighters, soldiers, warriors, and mercenaries (so, many main characters) in fantasy stories wield swords. What do you think their training looks like? What would they do every day to keep their skills honed? You don’t have to have a sword to do this. For some, it might make sense to go outside, find a decent sized branch on the ground, and start swinging it around. For others, try one-handing a five or eight pound dumb-bell (or heavier, if you’re much stronger than I am). It’s a little heavier than an actual sword would be, but I feel like the extra weight compensates for the fact that the center of balance isn’t farther away from your hand. Once you have your weapon of choice, imagine you are that character, and start walking yourself through the motions. How would they slash? How would they parry? It might be a little weird at first, but if you think of it as warrior training, it might be a little less tedious. Especially if you’ve been sitting down and typing all day.

Archery types who don’t own bows – either because of money or lack of aim, or fear you might break something with it – can invest in a resistance band, which can be pulled up and let down as though you’re drawing back a bowstring. Since there aren’t any projectiles involved you don’t have to worry about breaking anything. Or anyone. The closer you hold the band, or even by doubling it over on itself, the more resistance is provided, and the heavier the “bow’s” draw will be.

Of course if you’re like me and you have characters that tend to walk everywhere because they don’t actually own horses, they do something every day that you might be able to do as well. Walking. It doesn’t have to be a long walk or a strenuous one, just some time spent on your feet every once in a while can help a lot of issues.

If you don’t feel comfortable walking, play a monk or mage, or feel awkward leaving your chair, I recommend Tai Chi and/or Qigong. Most techniques can be done seated, with a little creativity. The key is integrating all parts of the body, just to get them moving.

My current exercise routine varies from day to day as I feel the need to change, but I do stuff based on many of my characters, from books or otherwise. I practice Marcus’s ranseur techniques with an oak walking stick, I practice Eirnin’s archery with a resistance band. I have a ten pound dumb-bell that I can swing two-handed as though I’m using an axe, rather than a sword. For two of my tabletop RPG characters – Sadiq, a monk, and Hyena, a brawler, – I practice both Tai Chi and Kenpo, which is something I have prior experience with. Esper is a special case, since I do actual own a (not sharp) saber, and can work out his style with it, as well as Aelius’s to some extent. And, like all of my characters, I don’t own a horse (or a car), which means I walk everywhere. Thankfully, I live in a smallish town and built up excellent endurance via high school marching band. And no, I never do all of those on the same day. I would be exhausted and probably risk injury. My knee already gives me enough crap from the walking alone!

I would like to emphasize that you should never do any fitness program or exercise that makes you feel uncomfortable, or that you’ve been told by a professional that you shouldn’t do. If you pick up a big ol’ rock to heft around because your character carries people or things out of danger for a living, but you find that you’re straining, put it down and walk away. The goal is to have fun, get a break from the keyboard, and not hurt yourself. Please don’t hurt yourself. Be careful.

– Ej

ps. If you want to try this but lack inspiration, look up, “[Your favorite character here] Workout.” I know there’s one on the Witcher out there somewhere, which partially inspired me to start doing this.

pps. Again, check yourself before you wreck yourself. Listen to your body. If it hurts, stahp. Especially if you aren’t used to doing crazy business like flailing around with a weight in your hand. Do what you can, don’t feel bad if you can’t do as much as someone else, and celebrate that you did a thing in the first place.

Bonus fun fact! This is how I taught myself to draw! Getting up and acting out what the character on the page is supposed to be doing so I knew how it looked in 3D. I still do it sometimes. I have applied it to writing as well. A few combat scenes in the Tales of Esper Ravenwood trilogy involve actions that I stood up and acted out so I could figure out how to write them. See? Told you it was useful.

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Character Tip: The Well of Nope https://www.ejlowell.com/character-tip-the-well-of-nope/ https://www.ejlowell.com/character-tip-the-well-of-nope/#comments Tue, 20 Sep 2016 19:30:33 +0000 https://talesofejlowell.wordpress.com/?p=566 Continue reading "Character Tip: The Well of Nope"

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You ever have characters that, no matter what you do, you can’t seem to find a decent conflict for them? Maybe they’re a major support that needs a subplot, maybe it’s a main character who wants nothing to do with the story being told, or maybe it’s a character that should have a bigger role in the story but nothing is working.

Enter, the Well of Nope. Also known as the giant list of things that your character never wants to do, be, or witness.

There’s a phrase that I keep in my head when I’m writing, especially when I’m planning a story: “Never name the well from which you will not drink.” Not only useful to remember for character development, but decent life advice as well. Never say never, as in, never say you’ll never do something. This can have unintended side effects. For instance, when I was in school I constantly told myself that I’d never be an author because I don’t tell good stories. Esper and the rest of the Five Realms happened. I also told myself I’d never be a good multiplayer gamer, because lots of information overwhelms me. Overwatch happened.

So, what would your characters “never?” This question actually goes deeper than one might think. As an example: a young man never wants to become like his father. Which begs two questions: What about the father does he hate, and what is the father actually like? Answering those not only gives insight into the boy’s psychology, but also provides a direction and potential for growth. Let’s say the boy dislikes his father because he ignores his son. That would, of course, be from the young man’s perspective and not the objective truth. The flip side to that is that the father is a hard worker and wants desperately for his son to have a better life than he did, so he throws himself into his work.

That would mean a potential path of growth for the young man might go something like this: The son has grown up and made a name for himself, but now he has a young apprentice. He keeps working, but when he realizes that he’s ignoring said apprentice, he faces one of his “never’s” from the Well of Nope. From there he can confront that issue while maintaining his hard work, eventually becoming very much like his father, but not just the negatives. The end point might be that once he’s made peace with the fact that he is his father’s son, he realizes he is better able to manage both his work and his apprentice. He ends up knowing when to work and when not to ignore, and resolves whatever conflict stemmed from the neglected apprentice.

Marcus, from The Redgate Chronicles, also has an example, and one that illustrates how the Well of Nope can also be used as a massive catalyst. Because of his appearance, he believes he’ll never find love. When that belief is proven false, it gives him both hope and an exploitable weakness. It leads to him both screwing up in the worst possible way, but also to him trying again. The massive screw up? Changes the world forever, and leads him toward encountering and subsequently dealing with even more of his never’s.

While single never’s can have far reaching consequences, there are usually multiple answers to this question. Esper has a long list of never’s that he confronts throughout his story. All of them are double-edged swords, bringing both complications and boons. See how many answers you can find to that question, and pull them apart to see how the result would affect the character, both negatively and positively. How many of those can you weave into the plot? How many would change its course entirely?

From which wells would your character never drink? 

Think about it.
– E.J. Lowell

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The Five Realms – Senabyss https://www.ejlowell.com/the-five-realms-senabyss/ Thu, 30 Jun 2016 21:54:26 +0000 https://talesofejlowell.wordpress.com/?p=510 Continue reading "The Five Realms – Senabyss"

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The surface of Mars as seen by the Curiosity rover; my inspiration for the deserts of Senabyss. (via Reddit)

Synopsis

Often called the Dark Realms or the Demon Realms, Senabyss is, by most accounts, a desolate place, full of creatures that don’t belong anywhere else. Unlike Liserna and Oberun, Arcturus and Senabyss aren’t so much harmonic opposites as they are harmonic equals. Beings from either realm can exist in the other, but it takes a great deal of energy and willpower to get from one place to the other. As could be guess by the common names for this Realm, the denizens are collectively called Demons. Two languages are spoken by the Demons, depending on the class they fall into: Infernal, which is the more common tongue, and Abyssal, which is spoken mostly by the Archdemon’s court.

Lands

The main Realm of Senabyss is ever-changing, with tempestuous seas and raging storms stirred by the high levels of volcanism, and massive tidal shifts. The earth is iron-rich and gives the ground a reddish tinge no matter where one looks, but which is especial evident in the vast stretches of desert in the rain-shadows of almost perpetually smoking mountain ranges. Anything living in this Realm is hardy, adaptable, and generally shares a chaotic attitude that mimics the natural order of the plane. The Demons manage to live in a tenuous symbiosis with their surroundings, but most established cultures are focused only on one thing: survival.

However, the main Realm is only one part of the Dark Realms. In the skies of Senabyss, an even more desolate sight can be seen: the remains of a once-glorious domain, a world broken to its core, trailing pieces of itself across the cosmos. It is the pull from this dead world that influences the tides of Senabyss, and many legends exist about it. The Shattered Realm, the Darkest Realm, is rarely discussed, save for being invoked as a manner of speaking. To all conventional knowledge, nothing lives there, and if there are still remnants from the Realm’s former living days… everyone hopes they don’t exist.

Countries

There aren’t so much established countries or kingdoms on Senabyss as there are tribes and clans, sometimes bands with no more organization than an average family group. Most Demons see any kind of order as unnecessary, since it will likely not survive in the harsh environment, anyway. That’s not to say that the people of the Dark Realms are barbaric, in fact they resort to trade more often than bloodshed, much to the surprise of foreigners.

The exception to the rule is the Archdemon’s Court. In one seemingly static, calm place in Senabyss’s otherwise difficult landscape, one Demon rules over a collection of underlings, officers, Knights, and Lords, usually with an iron fist. The first was Tharenor, who created the Realm in the beginning, and after he stepped down, Asmodeus took up the mantle. There have, of course, been various uprisings against whichever Lord of Chaos sits upon the throne, almost all of which ended in the challengers swearing fealty to the Archdemon. However, in recent history, there has been at least one successful revolution, by a Far-born with unusual talent.

dnd___asmodeus_by_ejlizardbreath-d6prd6v
Archdemon Asmodeus, a Firbolg and trickster extraordinaire.

People

The native races of Senabyss are a chaotic, eclectic lot, changed and shaped by the power of the Realm on which they live. They are the most likely to venture out into other worlds, most usually Omnia, simply because they can withstand whatever the relatively peaceful environments can throw at them. Most pure-born Demons are fire resistant, and can withstand intense heat, cold, and toxic conditions. However, nobody knows how long the natural lifespan of a Demon is. For all of their adaptations, most die either from accidents, environmental catastrophes, and each other. The most common types of Demons include Firbolg, Fomorians, Imps, Gargoyles, and Far-born.

  • The Firbolg are what most think of when they are asked to imagine a Demon. They are also the most Human looking, and stand around 6 and a half feet tall on average. They possess a wide variety of traits that set them apart, the most common being horns, tails, and scales. Some Firbolg bloodlines also grow wings, or have other abnormalities like several pairs of horns or multiple tails. For as long as Senabyss has existed, the ruler has been a Firbolg, or a Far-born, and as such the Firbolg are the most likely to speak Abyssal.
  • Fomorians are large, ox-like humanoids, standing well over 7 feet tall and built to take heavy damage. They have wide jaws and tusk-like fangs, and usually sport at least two pairs of large horns. They usually speak Infernal, because it’s an easier language for them to physically produce, but some have learned Abyssal to be able to conduct business with the Firbolg.
  • Imps are gaunt, devious, and the smallest of the Demon races. They stand 4 to 5 feet tall, and have long arms that end in claws. They hunt in packs, teaming up in scores to take down prey or enemies. They aren’t the smartest of all races, and tend to swarm rather than have any manner of tactics. Imps are often employed as mass foot soldiers in Senabyssian armies, sometimes to devastating effect.
  • Gargoyles are massive, lumbering brutes that tower over the other Demon races, even without standing up straight. They, like the Imps, have very long arms, but the Gargoyles’ are thick, built more like tree trunks than useful appendages. They walk around on their knuckles, hunched over, and don’t speak much of any language. However, they are intelligent, possibly even more so than the Imps, and know how to use their massive presence to their own advantage. The Gargoyles are on good terms with both the Firbolg and the Fomorians, and are actually the most peaceful race, relatively speaking.
  • One of the main ways Demons multiply isn’t by actual reproduction, but by contamination. The Far-born are members of races from other Realms, who have become become so affected by Demonic corruption that they begin to resemble one, themselves. They mostly come from Omnia, since Humans are the most easily affected by any manner of magical change, and while some choose to live out their lives on their home plane, many do flee to Senabyss. Those who master their Demon blood are often looked on with respect by the Firbolg and the Fomorians, and there have even been Far-born Archdemons in recent history.

I hope you all enjoyed this overview of the Dark Realms, and the people who inhabit it. Next week, I have to backtrack a little bit, because there’s a race in Oberun that I missed. Good job, self! Hope to see you then.

– E.J.

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The Five Realms – Arcturus https://www.ejlowell.com/the-five-realms-arcturus/ Wed, 22 Jun 2016 18:26:45 +0000 https://talesofejlowell.wordpress.com/?p=448 Continue reading "The Five Realms – Arcturus"

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Arcturus

Synopsis

The Astral Realm, the Divine Realm, home to gods, Gaurdians, and floating cities of light and magic. Unlike Liserna and Oberun, Arcturus and Senabyss aren’t so much harmonic opposites as they are harmonic equals. Beings from either realm can exist in the other, but it takes a great deal of energy and willpower to get from one place to the other. Beings from Arcturus are generally called Immortals, because they tend not to age or die. The languages spoken here are Archaic, used as the common tongue by the Celestials, Eionic, which is the language of the long-dead Dragon race, and used mainly by the Alkali when speaking to each other, and Primordial, a primitive language spoken only by the tribal Groundlings.

Lands

From anywhere in Arcturus, you can see the stars, even in the daytime. They flicker through the clouds in bands of vivid pastel shimmers, and are even more beautiful at night when the auroras light up the entire sky, both above and below the High Cities. Most civilized places on Arcturus are situated on islands that levitate above the landscapes and seascapes below, suspended by the innate and powerful magic of the Realm. There are very few places on the Ground that are settled and civilized, because of the extraordinarily high concentrations of wild energy that flow through the ground and water, and permeates the air. This incredible power has adverse affects on those of a more fragile nature, thus leading to very little contact between the Ground and the Cities.

The sea is similarly avoided by most Isle dwellers, despite the plethora of edible creatures that can be plucked from it, but the Clestials have come up with their own technology and systems to harvest resources from around them. They are a very sustainable civilization in general, with greenhouse farms, atmospheric water harvesters, and alchemy machines that help keep everything in working order. They’ve imported plants and animals from other Realms, and over the years they’ve adapted to the strange environment. Most plants in the Cities are used for food, while most animals are kept as pets, transportation, or for shearing to make fibers used for clothing and decoration.

Countries

  • The Ground

    The main landmass of Arcturus, which consists of vast stretches of mountains, valleys, deep chasms, forests, deserts, and grasslands, all shrouded much of the time in veils of mist and fog. Veins of magic in the rocks result in alloys and materials unique to Arcturus, as well as creatures that resemble nothing else on the Five Realms. Surrounding the Ground is a massive ocean, called the Astral Sea.

  • The Middle Isles

    Low-floating islands populated mainly by the Alkali, in small towns and cities. They trade different forms of salt as their main form of currency, and don’t have any one ruler. They are mainly self-sustaining, with some groups of harvesters flying down to the Ground to gather components and other miscellany, via the use of special suits constructed to withstand the huge power of the land. Because they are generally below the clouds, the Middle Isles do get rain and snowfall, resulting in rivers that cascade in waterfalls off the sides of the islands.

  • The High Cities

    The towering, sprawling cities of the Celestials sit upon the highest floating islands, in the midst of the clouds. They have become alchemically and magically advanced, constructing large converters that harvest water and other minerals from the atmosphere, and a network of Stangs that allows them to travel from city to city easily. The capital of the High Cities is Æspherium, the City of Hope, from which the Kings rule Arcturus. For most of recorded history, only one of the two seats has been occupied, by the god of Sun and Summer, Dinmora.

People

The native races of Arcturus aren’t as widely varied as the other Realms, in terms of number, and tend to keep to themselves. They are the least likely of any Realm to adventure into the others, so seeing an Immortal anywhere outside of Arcturus is practically unheard of. Immortals include Celestials, Primordials, Archons, Ephemerals, and Alkali.

  • Celestials stand an average of just over 6 feet tall, and are built slim and willowy. Their skin shines as though it was made of starlight, with some even having brighter pinpricks in constellations, just as Humans would have patterns of freckles. Their hair tends to be fine and silky, and, like their skin, varies in rich, metallic tones, from silver-pale to obsidian. Their eyes tend to be vivid and multi-toned, with heterochromia being the norm. Celestials are by far the most common race in Arcturus, as well as the oldest.
  • Primordials stand from 5 to 6 and a half feet tall, and are generally built like highly muscular Humans, with two glaring exceptions: their skulls and faces resemble that of a Dragon more than any other race, and they have an extra pair of arms. Primordials make their homes not on the floating islands of Arcturus, but on the ground, where they’ve built up tribal societies around the patterns of magic in the rocks, rivers, and trees. They are very much in tune with this energy, and it has shaped them in return, possibly being responsible for the strange appearance of these creatures.
  • Archons stand about 7 to 9 feet tall, with long features and slender bodies. They have subtle, smooth scales on their skin in brightly colored and intricate patterns, that change as they age and go through important events in their lives. These patterns can also be color-changed to communicate to other Archons, though they also speak the common tongue. Some Archons live and work alongside the Celestials in their floating cities, but others have formed loose-knit communities around the outskirts, and sometimes on nearby islands, accessible through various means.
  • Ephemerals are serpentine beings that possess a humanoid torso and face, but their lower bodies have long, snakelike tails instead of legs, and whose arms, tails, and backs are patterned with a wide, colorful variety of feathers. From head to tail, Ephemerals are generally around 10 feet long, and use their feathers for a variety of purposes, including limited gliding. They form wandering bands alongside the Primordials, trekking along the ground in search of resources and trade.
  • Alkali are a small race, standing only 3 and a half to 5 feet tall, and are the only race in Arcturus who speak primarily Eionic. They live on the scattered islands that float between ground level and cloud level, rather than above, like the ones the Celestials live on. Their skin and hair come in a wide variety of shades, usually metallic or vibrant tones. They have the largest variety of efficient airships in the Five Realms, and often times the most contact they have with the other races is trade, though the Groundlings prefer to walk, usually, and the Celestials prefer teleportation via the various Stangs in each city.

 

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From the in-progress Five Realms Oracle deck.

Celestial Guardians are extraordinary individuals, usually from other Realms, chosen by the rulers of Arcturus to defend the Realm and its people, as well as perform tasks in their Realm of origin that serve to keep the peace between all Five. They are given wings, like those of a large bird, to symbolize their position and rank, which can be summoned and dismissed at will. Celestial Guardians can only be chosen in times of impending chaos, and only if two or more rulers (or deities) agree on the decision. With Dinmora being the only ruler for hundreds of years, after Luscerann stepped down, he’s had to get creative in finding other deities that agree with him. However, because of the infrequency and importance of these Guardians, there have been rare occurrences in which one is called back from even Death to serve.


Thanks for reading through this exploration of Arcturus! It is by far one of the more mysterious Realms, if not the most so. In the next installment I’ll be diving into the Dark Realms, and as always, let me know if you’d like me to write about anything in particular!

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Magic in the Five Realms https://www.ejlowell.com/magic-in-the-five-realms/ Thu, 16 Jun 2016 17:44:13 +0000 https://talesofejlowell.wordpress.com/?p=435 Continue reading "Magic in the Five Realms"

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Litches be hatin’.

In the Five Realms, “magic,” is not a word that is feared, nor a concept that exists in only stories and myths. It is real, and it is potent.

In Omnia in particular, many styles of Magic are studied, explored, and understood in much the same way that science as a general concept is understood in most modern cultures on Earth. Those who study this manner of changing, understanding, and working with reality are called Mages, and those who have become the most influential, powerful, or well-versed in their area (of expertise or of residence) are called Archmages. One can technically be a Mage or an Archmage without having any magical ability at all, though most people are able to learn how to do rudimentary energy work, which anyone can learn regardless of talent. In much the same way that students in our modern cultures take to their own subjects, though, not everyone in Omnia, or any of the other Realms, are required or even expected to learn about complex concepts in relation to magic. Most know what it is, possibly a bit about how to use it in theory, but generally never get too far down the rabbit hole of one style or another.

Styles of Magic

  • Art is a form of magic used specifically by Bards and Skalds to induce specific mental states in either the caster, or the audience. Art uses resonance and subtle illusions to create images in the air, in people’s minds, or in the caster’s mind, as well as to enhance the strength, speed, or other attributes of weapons. Songblades are the preferred weapons of the Skalds, while true Bards tend to stay back and lend a helping hand to their team in combat, if ever they are in combat. Most Bards who end up in situations like that also resort to a different style of either magic or melee, with some only using it to enhance their aim, or to distract.
    • Skaldic Art is a style specific to Liserna, which uses chant, song, poetry, or other verbal cues to put the caster into a heightened state of awareness. Skalds are often called War-Bards or Battle-Poets, and they have much in common with Shamanic Berserkers in the way that their power affects them. It’s said that the Song of Winter was the first Songblade ever created, and it was indeed created in Liserna.
  • Clerical Magic is the magic of predominantly Priests, though there are other practitioners that go by different names. Clerical Magic is the hardest to learn, because it requires not only a keen understanding of one’s own power, but also a devotion to the Gods, either as a group or to an individual, or to a Domain. It is the most widely varied type of magic, because there are so many different gods and domains. Clerical healers can call upon their Patron, Matron, or favored Domain to restore strength and mend wounds, whereas Warpriests can call upon the divine to grant them strength, endurance, or other feats of magic.
    • Channeling is a power that allows Priests, and sometimes other devotees of certain beings, to let a spirit, deity, or other power come into their physical body and express themselves and their energy through it.
    • Smiting is a type of spell that places a mark on the target, usually one that drains away at that target’s energy until they are either dead or unconscious. Normally Smites are only used by malicious Warpriests, but some Priests of, say, Dinmora, have been known to Smite those aligned with “darker” gods and energies.
  • Druidry is a style that calls upon the elements and energy of the land surrounding the caster, in a way that allows them to share power, thoughts, and strength. This allows the caster to do things like hear mountains speaking to each other, trees gossiping, and brooks literally rambling. Most Druids have one element or energy that they call upon better than others, and they tend to focus in that one specific area. For example, a Druid of Beasts would be able to not only speak with animals, but understand them and their energy well enough to borrow that shape for a time, not unlike Shamans do. The difference is that Shamans work with dead spirits, and Druids work with the living.
    • Groves and Glens – Druids organize themselves into factions, usually based in a common physical area, in order to gain a better understanding of the land and each other. While solitary Druids aren’t unheard of, they aren’t exactly common, either. Groves typically have one member, usually an elder, as the leader of the group, whereas Glens do not.
  • Fae Magic includes any style of spellcraft that originated in Oberun, and as a general rule includes all things that manipulate the perceived or physical attributes of objects and individuals. Types of Fae Magic include Enchantment, Transfiguration, Charming, Hexing, Glamoury, and Illusion, all of which do the same thing, but focus on different targets. Enchantment works on objects, Transfiguration works on the body, Charming works on the emotions, Hexing on the mind, Glamoury on the senses, and Illusion on energy. Some scholars believe that Fae Magic came about as a way to hide and deal with the attack on Oberun by Tharenor and his forces.
  • Necromancis defined as a spell, work, or casting that deals directly with passage to and from the Wyrd, in any way that would change, delay, or restrict it. It is the only style of magic that is openly frowned upon in all five Realms, and outlawed in many.

    • Blue Necromancy uses partial souls to animate, resurrect, or change the body.This was the first style of Necromancy ever used, and typically results in things like Zombies, Ghouls, and Skeletons.
    • Green Necromancy brings entire souls back from the bring of the Wyrd, in order to restore function to a body. Subjects of Green Necromancy usually end up being immortal, though not indestructible, and comparisons are often made between it and Clerical Magic. Green Necromancy is responsible for Banshees, Vampires, and Litches, as well as Revenants, who have the most complete soul retrievals and can usually function as well as any normal member of their living race. However, thus far the only Revenants to have been created were done so by the Raven Queen.
    • Red Necromancy is an ancient form of magic that has been banned, and the users hunted down, all across the Five Realms. It involves creating a bridge, or a Gate, into the Wyrd, rather than through it, and is rumored to be so powerful that an entire Realm was destroyed with it, and one of the First Gods split in half. Thus far, there have only been two known users of Red Necromancy in history, and one of them was the First Goddess Val-Serra.
  • Runecasting is an ancient form of magic that is only recently making a re-appearance in the Realms. Nobody is really sure how it got wiped out in the first place, likely something having to do with Scourge, but it traces its origins back to Ancient Borreas in Omnia. Runecasters call upon symbols from the Wyrd, usually learned through dreams and a “call” to do so, in order to change physical reality. Runecasters often have a deep connection with the ebb and flow of life, and a slightly different connection to the world than most people, because they can take spirit-journeys into the Wyrd. However, this is not the same as Necromancy, because nothing outside of the journeyer is changed by their wanderings.
    • The only known modern Runepriest has speculated that the Wyrd forms around the thoughts of the Traveler, and that it can never be fully understood, or even observed, by someone whose mind is wandering. He still isn’t sure where the Runes came from, or why they call to certain people. Neither is anyone else, for that matter.
  • Shamanism is the use of full or partial souls — usually from animals — to augment, change, or disguise the caster’s form. To the untrained, this usually looks like Shapeshifting, which is a type of Fae magic wherein the wielder physically transforms, but they are very different. While the form the Shaman takes is usually quite believable, and even functions as one would imagine it would function, harming the disguise will not harm the Shaman. Another key aspect of Shamanism is the use of trance and meditation to explore the inner mind, and the mind of the animal one wishes to connect with.
    • Berserkers, like those made famous in old Borean tales, are technically a type of Warrior-Shaman, using the aspects of their companion spirits to fly into a rage and augment their strength, speed, and reaction time, rather than take on that form. A wolf-berserk will not “turn into a wolf,” in the same way a wolf-shaman would. Going berserk also takes a massive strain on the body, in a way that normal Shamanic or even Skaldic practices do not.
  • Sorcery is by far the most common form of magic, and the one that is easiest for most people to learn. Sorcery includes basic energy work like grounding, centering, and basic healing, as well as anything that draws purely on the caster’s own power, rather than an outside source. Masters of Sorcery have, with practice, expanded their own internal energy wells, and can draw upon the vast stores of power to do things like summon fireballs, create lightning, heal, and even form weapons out of seemingly thin air. While it is the easiest form to learn, it is the hardest to master, and while most magic users do have some background in rudimentary Sorcery, those who get beyond the basics learn quickly that it is tremendously difficult to control.
  • Witchcraft is a practice that involves using magical implements (for example: wands, staves, candles, and incantations) to enhance natural ability. Witchcraft most likely came about as a way to help control Sorcery outside of one’s own willpower. Witchcraft also tends to specialize in more subtle magic like healing and quiet spellwork, rather than big, flashy shows of firepower. Many consider it to be something like the more refined cousin of Sorcery, given that they share so many similarities, though neither one is objectively better than the other. Practitioners of Witchcraft are usually called either Witches or, in some more formal settings, Warlocks. The word “Wizard,” is actually used to indicate any magic user that uses their talents specifically for practical purposes, rather than to indicate a male witch.

A Note on Scourgemarks:

Scourge is sometimes considered a form of Red Necromancy, though nobody is quite sure if it is or not. Some say that because it draws power directly from the Wyrd — which sometimes results in a particular type of Undead — it is most definitely Necromancy, others believe that because it doesn’t have anything to to with physical or spiritual travel, it isn’t. Either way, Scourgemarking is a powerful form of magic that has only been used in one realm — Omnia — and has since been declared a crime in all others.

A Note on Alchemy:

Alchemy is often called a form of pseudo-magic, that involves taking chemical, magical, or other reagents and combining them to produce specific effects. Some Alchemists also enchant their concoctions to give them an extra “boost,” but most don’t. The practice of Alchemy is relatively modern, and not much study has been done into the matter.


I hope you’ve enjoyed or learned something from this outline of the different magics of the Five Realms. If I confused you with anything, feel free to ask questions in the comments. See you next time!

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The Five Realms – Oberun https://www.ejlowell.com/the-five-realms-oberun/ Thu, 09 Jun 2016 14:37:35 +0000 https://talesofejlowell.wordpress.com/?p=348 Continue reading "The Five Realms – Oberun"

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Synopsis

The Fae Realm, the Eastern Realm, which was nearly abandoned long ago when Tharenor tried to conquer it. It is the harmonic opposite of Liserna, which means that natives to that realm cannot exist in Oberun for very long without great discomfort. The beings who live here naturally have limited lifespans, but the limits are not quite as well defined as most outsiders would think. The most widely spoken languages in the established world are Elven, Dark-Elven, Fae, and Mind-speak, which is a kind of telepathy that all races inherently understand, but only native Oberunites know how to initiate.

Lands

Oberun is a water world, composed of mainly ocean with large island continents scattered over its surface, the largest of which is called Titania, and the others having various names in various languages. The islands, including Titania, are split up into Kind and Cruel lands, or Seelie and Unseelie in the language of the Fae, based on how much of it got corrupted by Tharenor’s demons. The sky here is a pale pink, which tends to give outsiders a feeling of eternal dusk, the plants are generally green, but come in a wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes, and the insects are rather a bit larger than one would hope.

One of the most prominent species of plant on Oberun are the giant Dor trees, which tower over the rest of the forests’ canopies, and whose roots dig so far down into the earth that many wonder whether or not the world would come to an end if any of these trees should fall. The shade from this second layer of leaves shelters the smaller, more normal sized trees, and protects them from the weather, which is usually quite warm. Because of the vast scale of the Dor, many Fae societies have taken to carving homes into the deep bark, an artform that keeps the tree growing and yet allows them access to the highest branches.

The island-continent of Titania has a scar across its surface, a mark from where the great war against Tharenor’s demons finally came to a close. In the aftermath of a powerful sage banishing most of the demonic forces back to Senabyss, a crack opened in the ground, several hundred miles long, from north to south. This has come to be called the Great Titanian Rift, and marks the most obvious boundary in the world between the Seelie and Unseelie lands. Some believe that if the rift grows large enough — assuming it continues to grow, of course — it will split the realm in half, and connect the Coven Sea with the Heron Sea.

Countries

  • The West Court

    The West Court includes the western halves of Titania and Nicneven, the entire isles of Puck and Mote, and several of the minor, outlying islands. From May Hall, the head of the West Court and God of Spring, Alromé Sun-on-Leaves, rules over this vast swath of Oberun. For the most part, the Court leaves the Karriban Ride, a stretch of plains and savannah to the Seelie side of the Great Titanian Rift, to the Centaurs that call it home, and the Centaurs in turn stay out of Court affairs. The West is the largest Court in all of Oberun, and has outposts on each of its controlled Isles.

  • The East Court

    The smallest of the three Courts, the East Court contains part of eastern Titania and the Crescent Isle, on which the lesser goddess Dezna makes her home. From November Hall, the Goddes of Autumn and the Moon, Séåninn Wanderer-in-the-Sky, makes her home and presides over the Court. It is said that November Hall was the base of the strongest resistance in the history of the Five Realms, in which Zirquoya Wind-Caller pushed Tharenor’s forces back to almost the edge of the massive eastern forest, and earned his place among the ranks of the First Gods.

  • The Unseelie Lands

    The Unseelie Lands don’t have a Court so much as they do a collection of leaders who sometimes gather to discuss what is going on. For all that the entire atmosphere of these lands seems cruel and somewhat unsavory, most of the individual inhabitants are at best quite friendly, and at worst rather shy. The Unseelie Lands contain a section of central and south Titania, most of the Nicneven Desert, all of the Isles Sidhe and Maeve, and a few outlying islands. The only real division between the peoples in the Seelie and Unseelie lands is language. In Mind-speak, past energetic traumas are clearly distinguishable. For a Seelie Fae, speaking to an Unseelie would be akin to playing a tuned violin next to an untuned cello, and the clash of sound would be as uncomfortable to both speakers as it would be to someone who is harmonically aware (rather than tone-deaf).

People

The native races of Oberun are collectively known as Fae, since all share the ability to Mind-speak in some way or another. This includes Trolls, Elves, Pixies, Djinni, and Centaurs, as well as their dark aspects in the Unseelie side of things(Orcs, Dark-elves, Pookas, and Efreeti), and Landwights. Unlike most other realms, the Fae all interbreed with each other, producing strange mixes of creatures that populate the realm, though most established settlements’ races keep to themselves, romantically speaking. The only exceptions to this are the Centaurs, who tend to be reclusive due to their unique anatomy, and were the only race strong enough to fight against Tharenor’s forces without being marked by the experience, thus they have no Unseelie equivalent.

  • Seelie:

    • Elves stand about 6 to 7 feet tall, with generally fair to dark brown hair and skin, sometimes with touches of other colors intermixed. They are built lithe and graceful, with ears that can grow to be the same length as a hand. Average life expectancy for an Elf in good health is about 450 years, some living to be as old as 6 or 7 hundred, when signs of aging finally start to set in. An old looking Elf is a rare sight indeed. They are actually the least populous race in the entirety of Oberun, as most of them actually migrated to Omnia when the corruption happened. Some did come back, however, and they are what are called Pure or True Elves.
    • Trolls are built rounded but muscular, with thick limbs and tufted tails. They stand anywhere from 8-12 feet tall, with each individual’s height being roughly reflective of the size of the island they live on. Trolls are crepuscular, and tend to make their homes in large earthen structures like caves, tangles of Dor roots, and sometimes their own crude architecture. They greatly enjoy art, and frequently draw on themselves and their surroundings with hand-mixed pigments. Trolls live to be about 300 years old, and as they age they look more and more like they’re made of stone. When they die, they crumble into dust.
    • Pixies are the smallest humanoid race in the Five Realms, at a diminutive 1 ½ to 3 feet tall. They possess insect-like wings that often indicate the genealogy of the individual, and they are capable of flight. Pixies band together in hives, which are cities generally made up of an extended family group, and as a right of passage young pixies are required to leave the hive in order to find their own ways in life. Some even travel to other Realms in search of wisdom, gold, glory, or something else. Pixies live to be about 40 years old, with the oldest being around 80.
    • Djinni stand at 7-8 ½ feet tall, with generally flame-colored hair and blue to violet skin that shimmers and reflects the colors of the environment. They have a complex system of birth conditions that determine a Djinn child’s magical element when they are born, and they basically embody that element (or elements in the case of a cusp) as they grow older. Their eyes have a tendency to glow, which makes for rather spooky encounters in the middle of the night. Djinn live to be about 600 years old on average, though some take much longer or much shorter to become one with the element of their birth, thus no longer inhabiting their individual body.
    • Centaurs are a magical mix of Fae and horse, often with long ears and manes that carry down their entire backs. They stand about 9 feet tall on average, and actually have soft hair that covers their entire bodies, resulting in various coloration and marking patterns. Nobody is really sure where this strange race came from, other than perhaps being one of Nylien’s experiments, or maybe a prank from Zirqoya that stuck around. Either way, Centaurs are often touted as creatures of legend, though the demons of Senabyss remember their resistance well. The average age for a Centaur isn’t known.
  • Unseelie:

    • Dark-Elves are physically and energetically distinct from Elves, as they were the most greatly affected by their resistance. They are the result of Tharenor’s attempted corruption of Oberun, and so generally have very light hair, and dark skin that edges more toward gray and blue than brown. They stand about the same height as Humans, with roughly similar build. Their ears are slightly thicker than an Elf, as well as slightly shorter, and the average life expectancy for a Dark-Elf is about the same as an Elf.
    • Orcs, due to energetic and environmental corruption, have lost the slightly portly figure of the Trolls to become more muscular, and generally mean looking. They have a slightly shorter stature, but in return have gained a pair of tusks in place of Trolls’ large lower canines. Their skin has become darker, with pronounced black, green, and brownish undertones. They live slightly shorter lives than Trolls, only because their culture has become one that values fighting for sport.
    • Pookas are ghostly creatures, with long limbs and large eyes. Many a traveler in the Unseelie lands have been frightened by their pale visages, or by the pranks that these tiny things sometimes pull. They quite enjoy pinching sleeping victims black and blue, as a kind of, “welcome to our place,” initiation ritual. They have their own strange culture, and do tend to get along alright with other Unseelie Fae. They actually live slightly longer than their Pixie relatives.
    • Efreeti have become nocturnal, relying on their dark skin as camouflage against Unseelie predators. Their eyes and hair still glow with a fiery light, however, and the Elves have stories of travelers lured to their deaths following those ethereal lights in the darkness. Despite this, Efreeti are actually the most friendly of the Unseelie Fae, often traveling far and wide to enjoy good food, better drink, and still better company in those who see them as individuals, and not the stories that precede them.
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Legion, a Dark-Elf whose family fled to Omnia before he was born.
  • Landwights

    Landwights straddle the line between Fae, creature, and earth. They are the spirits of the land, sea, and sky, and have many names, like Sprites, Dryads, Naiads, and Sylphs. They take many forms and have many different personalities, so it’s nearly impossible to give them all their own categories. It is rumored that there are Landwights on the other Realms as well, but Oberun is the only one on which they regularly take physical form.


Thanks for sticking through this rather long-winded explanation and exploration of the Realm of Oberun. It’s a mysterious realm, but by far not the least explored. In then next “About the Realms” post, we’ll be looking into the floating cities of Arcturus, but before that I’ll explain a little about the many different styles of magic in the Five Realms. Hope to see you then!

-E.J.

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