September 2017

Behold Chittersnit, resplendent lord of all squirrels.

Rather than fur, Chittersnit has a perfect mirror shine, like unto the surface of a lake. Chittersnit never worries after fleas or ticks or other parasites of the flesh, for Chittersnit is resplendent.

Chittersnit’s claws are sharp eternal and there is nothing Chittersnit cannot climb. Branch, and leaf, metal and cement, glass and tile, all yield themselves to be climbed by Chittersnit. Perfect balance, impeccable jumping, and rapid ascent are all the hallmarks of Chittersnit resplendent.

Predators to not faze Chittersnit. Their claws are useless against Its hide, should Chittersnit suffer Itself to be caught. Their teeth shatter upon Its resplendence. When Chittersnit is no longer amused by the efforts of predators, It is faster than them all. And though Chittersnit has no need of trees, It nevertheless climbs them to elude predators merely as a show of their foolishness.

All squirrels aspire to be more than they are, and it is Chittersnit that embodies that aspiration. They look to It, and Its shining example, and dream of a day when they too will have nothing to fear.

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In time, all were given the choice: city, or exile.

Those who chose the city lived lives of comfort surrounded by poisons. While they wanted for nothing, they were helpless to stop the calcium from leeching from their bones, the tumors growing quick and strong in their bowels, the wasting lungs that coughed away their lives one spasm at a time. They bore the full brunt of their choice.

Nor were the exiles any different. Cut off from the city, they were forced to fall back on the ways of their ancestors, hunting and scavenging what they could. Farming was out of the question, as the ravenous creatures of their poisoned vale were merciless. The exiles lived under clean skies and with clear waters but they were forever beset by predators and death by acute, rather than chronic, disease.

For that was the choice: health in squalor with the likelihood of a sudden and intense death, or ill health in luxury with a long lingering decline into the grave. In this, the founders were remarkably prescient: the agony of both was equal.

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Magical mobsters operate under their strict code of chiaro, or invisibility. Once becoming a made man, mobsters are expected to never be visible to others again through the use of spells, invisibility cloaks, and potions. This includes in the home, as mob spouses are expected to constantly insist that they “didn’t see nothin’.” By remaining invisible, even if they are invisible in a fancy suit, magic mobsters retain plausible deniability and make it difficult for the authorities to build a case against them.

While some mobsters, especially older dons, believe very strongly in absolute invisibility, to the point of wandering around nude, most do not bother with this and wear visible clothing. Thanks to the extreme priciness of invisible clothing, the only mobsters rich enough to afford it are also, ironically, those who insist on the “old ways” of being a nudist, which doesn’t really appeal to younger made men in colder cities. After all, they reason, just because you know that someone is there doesn’t mean you know who.

For their part, the police simply collect fingerprints and match voice waveforms, using physical evidence where eyewitness accounts won’t work for obvious reasons. Surprisingly, this actually makes it easier for snitches to be put into witness protection; all they have to do is become visible and none of their cohorts will recognize them.

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The first firearms were dismissed as mere toys, especially after a single powerful warmage annihilated the entire Royal Rifle Corps in the Humbling on the Rhyn. But they had one important benefit: unlike the Art, which required years of study to master for all but the most talented, anyone could be trained in the use of firearms.

Most importantly, the advent of sealed brass cartridges and repeating firearms meant that guns were no longer limited to a single shot, and a full spread from a six-shooter could plow under an unprepared wizard in seconds. Considerable effort was devoted to bulletproof shield spells in retaliation, but these required concentration and considerable willpower to erect and maintain. It was also exceedingly difficult to fire spells from behind a shield.

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The sign on the door says “detective,” but I’m really more of a folklorist. I investigate the whispers and legends of old, letting people know once and for all if what they once believed was ever true–for a price.

I confirmed an old woman’s childhood fear that there had been monsters on the mountain…by finding their long-dead bones, and letting her know that her grandchildren had nothing to fear. I proved to a young child that the Autumn Lords had never existed, and that what he had thought to be their malign influence was nothing but smoke and mirrors.

But those were nothing compared to the time I was confronted with evidence of a living mountainside, one which had devoured half of a climbing party. If I’d known then what I know now I’d have told the mountaineers to bury their dead and forget about them forever.

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The Sisters of the Lone Daisy are dedicated to living simplistically and are known for producing some of the best wine in the region. Founded on a vision of a llama that occurred in a Mollyborough-on-Trout field of flowers in 1513, the Sisters were able to survive the Dissolution of the Monasteries by going into hiding and posing as simple vintners. Reemerging in the 1680s, they were able to remain a small but devoted convent accepting the occasional new member.

Upon joining the Sisters, a novitiate takes vows of chastity, poverty, and abnormality, pledging themselves to never be complacent and always odd in the face of the Lone Daisy. In the past, the vow of abnormality has led to short-lived nun rock bands and the ill-fated 1966 “Nun Run” marathon.

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The woodland elves of the Wilds and the highland orcs had an interesting and bizarre system of governance. According to their oral histories, a great war between the two was settled through the marriage of an orcish chieftan’s daughter to the son of an elven elder. Their son was born the heir of both peoples and led them to a great victory over an unnamed enemy. After that time, it was decided that the leaders of both societies would intermarry and that their offspring would rule all of the combined territory.

These rulers were known as the edor, a combination of the elves’ word for themselves and the orcs’ own endonym. They were never numerous, as the marriages were uncommon and their offspring tended to be sterile with many miscarriages. But the edor were widely respected for their intelligence, wisdom, and ferocity–combining the best traits from both their parent races.

When settlers from the West began to arrive in the Wilds, the civilized elves and orcs were revolted by the edor and succeeded in having several territorial laws passed against them. Edor encountered by Western orcs or elves tended to be killed on sight, and any elves or orcs suspected of having ‘misagenated’ ancestry were shunned. Although through natural variance some edor looked enough like their elven or orcish parent to pass as full-blooded, even they suffered in the general decline of the local inhabitants.

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