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Recommended Reading: Lent

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Lent is the story of Girolamo Savonarola. This real-life charismatic preacher and prophet briefly took power in Florence before being excommunicated and burned at the stake. Jo Walton's book Lent is a character study of Savonarola, in a world where the demons that he was said to exorcise really exist, and Hell is demonstrably real. In the first half of the book, his life plays out more or less as it did in real life, until his fiery death. Then things get really interesting, as Savonarola is given the chance to relive his life over and over again.

Walton's strength in this book is her characterization, of Savonarola and the people around him. Through them, she shows how the Renaissance mind worked. Savonarola is an wonderful character for a Dragon Princes game, either in his historical form or the more fantastical version that is revealed over the course of the novel. It's also extremely readable, and I look forward to trying her other novels (which I understand have a lot…

Recommended Reading: Terry Pratchett

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Sir Terry Pratchett's Discworld books are set in a fantastic flat world that flies through space supported on four elephants that stand on the back of a giant space turtle. They are parodies of fantasy literature and the real world, and are recommended reading for anyone with any interest in fantasy as a genre.

For a Dragon Princes campaign, Pratchett's books set in Ankh-Morpork are particularly relevant. They are without equal at showing how a fantasy metropolis might function, warts and all. The city (a mix of renaissance Prague, Victorian London and modern-day New York) has a filthy vitality and character all of its own. Pratchett's characters are exceptional and worth adapting for any roleplaying world. Furthermore, a major theme in many of Pratchett's later books is how the world reacts to technological and cultural developments like the printing press, a modern police force, multiculturalism, and more. This should also be a theme in any Dragon Princes game.

The m…

Introduction to Tirenia - Ten Key Facts

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The Eberron campaign setting begins with ten key facts that define the world, and make it easy for new players to understand what is important about the world. To help my new players, I've decided to create my own list of ten key facts.
Inspired by the Italian Renaissance. The game is set in a continent called Tirenia. It’s a land of rich merchants, genius artists, ruthless mercenaries, and omnipresent religion. A D&D world. Everything that exists in Dungeons and Dragons exists in Tirenia somewhere - although it may be re-flavoured to fit the world. Any D&D campaign can be modified to fit in Tirenia.Magic is rare. Most people will spend most of their lives without seeing magic or monsters. The one God is distant and unknowable. Everyone believes that magic is real, but superstition is more common than knowledge.Rich city-states. People in Tirenia in large cities. Each city-state is fabulously rich. These cities are constantly fighting – through politics, economics, culture …

The Polycosm

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In the days before the Auromian Empire, philosophers theorised about the existance of other worlds - a polycosm. According to this idea, if space is infinite, then anything that could happen, must be happening somewhere. For every choice that a person could make, somewhere there would exist another version of that person who had made the opposite choice. The theory of a 'polycosm' was an esoteric thought experiment, before it was eventually quashed by church doctrine. If there were infinite worlds, would there be infinite heavens and hells? Infinite gods? The idea was denounced as heretical, and forgotten.
What no one knew was that the philosophers were correct.
Tellaia is only one of infinite worlds, each a step removed from one another. The closer that worlds are to one another, the more likely they are to assemble each other. No one in Tirenia is aware that these worlds exist: it would take extremely powerful magic to move between them. What effect this has on the metaphysi…

Fiumenze Nights - Session Two: The Last Masterpiece

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Gatto and Barzilai discussed their next move over an anchovy salad and a flask of white wine at a local taverna. Barzilai scraped his anchovies on to Gatto’s plate. They now believed that during the last month before his murder, Michele di Lodovico had been engaged with a new art project, which was being unveiled tonight. That could not be a coincidence. And they both had a feeling that there was something happening at the cathedral that Fra Gottifredo and Fabrizio were keeping secret.
In the stifling midafternoon heat, the two sbirri headed to Michele’s workshop. It was a large two-storey house in the nicer part of town, with the workshop downstairs and the living quarters upstairs. The door was answered by an extremely handsome man with red-rimmed eyes: Tommaso di Cecchino, Michele’s model, business manager and partner. He had just heard the news of his lover’s death. Gatto and Barzilai asked him about the last month of Michele’s life, and Tommaso told them everything he knew. A mont…

Fiumenze Nights - Session One: Death of an Artist

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Gatto and Barzilai had just finished breakfast when the body fell out of the sky. 
It was early in the morning in the Plaza del Duomo, but already the square was full of bustling people heading to their works, surrounded the calls of street vendors hawking their wares. The slanted morning sunlight promised that this would be another in a succession of sweltering hot days, and the stink of the river was already noticeable. Come sweltering midday, it would be almost unbearable. Gatto, a young catfolk, newly arrived in Fiumenze, and this was his first day as commander of the sbirri, the city’s poorly-funded, poorly-resourced and poorly-paid civic watch. Not that he had known this when he had enlisted. He had been partnered with Barzilai, who was now showing his new commander the ropes. Barzilai was a cynical, worn-down veteran who had served under a number of commanders, each one incompetent, corrupt or (more likely) both. He had been passed over for promotion to commander himself for the…

Daily Life: Tirenian Fashion

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Even a poor Tirenian is affluent enough to be able to afford multiple different outfits, and to have their 'church best'. However, those of great wealth would wear elaborate clothes made of expensive materials as a visual sign of their success. At the most extreme, some cities have had to enact laws restricting fashion to restrict opulent displays of wealth.

Male fashion is designed to enlarge the upper body and emphasize the lower body. Men wear belted tunics or overcoats over fitted waistcoats. Detachable, often slashed sleeves are common. The hemline is above the knee, although some men wear it up to the thigh; as a result, the codpiece is a recent development. On their legs, men wear close-fitting tights or hose. Some men will wear bright colours to stand out; others prefer darker tones to give an impression of seriousness. Servants and courtiers of the dragons will often wear coloured hose to match their dragon, as a symbol of loyalty. There is also an increased interest …