Wednesday, April 1, 2020

[Lands of Ub] Anachronisms, Coinage, and Prestidigitators University

While the vast majority of the peoples of the Lands of Ub live in what can charitably be called “bucolic medieval luxury,” there are no few seeming anachronisms found here and there, some of them quite public and well known. This is because the Lands of Ub have gone through many different ups and downs in science and technology, plus the influence of other-planetary civilizations, not to mention regular if rare jaunts throughout time and space. A few notable anachronisms for “the day” include:

Black Powder Weapons: The magic-using dwarves of the Pecos Freehold broke away from their cousins in the Kingdom of Gold almost a century ago when they developed Black Powder Magic. The cannons, pistols, muskets, six-shooters, and rifles created and used in Pecos (and sometimes further afield) are magical, not technological, and their use is frowned upon by the Wizards Guild and the Church of Frelengia. These weapons are described in more detail, elsewhere. Suffice to say that they are rare outside of Pecos, and by reputation are considered only slightly less damning than witchcraft! Those who wield black-powder weapons are fairly easy to identify, as they cannot wear armor other than a leather duster (it interferes with the black powder magic), and they always wear a Pecos Bonnet (various types of hats usually only worn in Pecos, a land remarkably without shade).

Clocks: These are simply a development of gnomes and dwarves, who tinker with such things all the time. Most towns and even some villages have a clock tower, and many wealthier folk have wind-up pocket watches. Most folks still just live by the rise and setting of the sun (or moon).

Disc Phonographs: Similarly, wind-up phonographs and phonograph record discs are not uncommon. The wealthy are able to keep up with the latest developments and music, while middle-class folk and even some poorer folk have sets that they have inherited over the years. Recording studios are found in most larger civilized towns, and local bands and music stars are all the rage. As production is still by hand, distribution is local at best, though true fans go far and wide to find the best recordings.

Flying Ships: These devices are mostly magical, though more “modern” balloon and lighter-than-air designs are coming into vogue through gnomish influence. Traditional flying ships were developed by an ancient elven empire, whose history is lost save for the continuation of the magical tradition and its name that it lent to it – Voisin. Usually constructed of elevatingoak and upsidaisium, flying ships vary from the classical sailing-ship with wings design (designed to also be able to sail on water), to the more modern biplane design favored by the Luisterdal Luchtvloot (Glitterdale Air Fleet). Such vehicles are so expensive and rare that usually only states and the wealthiest nobles or magnates can afford them, but the Glitterdale Air Fleet has developed cheaper magical lighter-than-air vehicles that have recently been taking on passengers for pay. So far, they only visit a limited number of locales, but the travel is faster (if correspondingly more expensive) than any other means, including horse-drawn streetcars. Cost is 1 gp per mile, and as they do not fly above any dangerous territories, trips can be somewhat circuitous.

Photography: Photography is well known; it has been common since the latter days of the Bugsomagnus Dynasty however, it has not advanced much since then. Pictures are black-and-white or sepia tone; a camera is a large, fragile, expensive thing; flash powder is still used; and one must still sit very still to have one’s picture taken. A sitting usually costs 1 gp per shot, then pictures themselves cost 1 gp for a wallet-sized up to 100 gp for a huge wall picture. Artists can add color through special painting processes for additional fees.

Skyscrapers: Buildings with 10 to 20 floors are not uncommon in the cities of the Great Warner Valley and are coming into vogue outside that area. Built of brick and stone, these are architectural developments combining human, dwarven, and gnomish technologies. When the merchant-towns of the valley found that they could not build out, due to the need for farmland, they developed a way to build up. And so, the skyscraper was born.

Streetcars: Another development of the towns of the Great Warner Valley, horse-drawn streetcars ride iron rails through the major streets of many larger towns today. Locals pay a monthly fee with a discount, but strangers have to pay 1 cp per ride. Several horse-drawn rail lines run from Tradertown to Merchantburg, and from Merchantburg to Vendorville; from Vendorville one can take a rail to Glitterdale and thence to Warlock, and from Merchantburg to Highdale and thence to Goldburg (with lines from Highdale now being built to Silverdale and Warlock). A consortium in Glitterdale seeks to build a line to Burrowburgh but keeps running into trouble with Svinings Viking raiders and Things out of the Looney Marsh. Consortiums from Merchantburg and Vendorville both seek to run a line to Beornburg, but the baron and his people are resistant to such new-fangled foofaraw. Costs vary depending on the line, distance, and quality of service.

Most all the Frelengian Successor States continue to use the old Frelengian coinage system:

10 Copper Kopeks = 1 Silver Simolean
10 Silver Simoleans = 1 Gold Grickle

Each of the Successor States mints its own coins, and most stay to the weights and measures established centuries ago, but there is enough coin-clipping and counterfeiting that merchants usually insist on weighing and testing old coins and foreign coins.

Electrum and platinum are not minted, but they are used in jewelry:

1 pound of electrum = 5 Gold Grickles
1 pound of platinum = 100 Gold Grickles

The metal used to build flying ships (in combination with elevatingoak) is the much-sought-after and highly valuable upsidaisium. Found only in clouds and floating islands that are home to cloud and storm giants, this metal is very rare. It is worth 500 Gold Grickles per pound.

Most magic-users of the lands of the former Frelengian kingdom learn their trade at Prestidigitators University, at the Mother College in Warlock in the Upper Elfdale or one of the many smaller extensions in towns and cities throughout the lands.

Graduation entitles a magic-user to bear the title “Wizard,” and prominently wear and display the ancient and honorable emblem of the university, “Sable, a panther sejant Amaranth a quellazaire in mouth Or holding a gasper Argent,” a charge of arms granted to Frelengo DeFriz, the founder of the university, by King Bosco, the founder of Frelengia. Displaying the badge entitles the wearer to recognition as a gentleman (or gentlewoman), certain rights and privileges of law, and often discounts at many shop locations throughout the lands. Graduation from P.U. enables the magic-user to hold all manner of positions and jobs often limited by law to graduates of the school, such as court magicians, guild wizard, and so forth. They are automatically registered as a member of the Wizards Guild (an inter-state organization), though they must pay guild dues to remain in good standing.

While in training, a would-be-wizard is known as an Apprentice of the Arcane Arts (A.A.A.). Beginning at 1st level he becomes a Bachelor of the Arcane Arts (B.A.A.); at 7th level he may become a Master of the Arcane Arts (M.A.A.); and at 13th level he may become a Doctor of the Arcane Arts (D.A.A.). Advancement to Master and Doctorate levels require the wizard return to P.U. and present an original spell they have created of the minimal level required for that grade (4th for Masters, 7th for Doctorate).

Each level of spell mastered is also a ranking, known as an Order of Rank; Thus, all Journeymen are of 1st to 3rd Order; all Masters are of 4th to 6th Order; and all Doctors are 7th to 9th Order.

Being a wizard also requires strict adherence to the Ancient and Honorably Arcane Sumptuary Laws of Frelengia whenever in public. A wizard must wear classical wizard robes, belt, slippers, and brimless pointy hat, of a color of their choice, with a pattern depending on Order of Rank within the hierarchy:

Sumptuary Requirements
Rank/Level – Levels -- Pattern Required
Journeyman -- 1st to 6th -- Copper moons, suns, and stars
Master -- 7th to 12th -- Silver moons, suns, and stars
Doctor -- 13th+ -- Gold moons, suns, and stars

The color of the robes, belt, hat, and slippers are at the discretion of the wizard; however, certain sub-guilds are known for wearing particular colors. Each sub-guild has a specific color within that color type, and frown upon others wearing that specific color type.

Black (Eerie Black): Death Magic(Necromancy)
Black (Eigengrau): Darkness Magic
Blue (Ultramarine): Water Magic
Brown (Burnt Umber): Earth Magic
Gray (Feldgrau): Black Powder Magic(Gunsmithy)
Gray (Gunmetal): Force Magic (“pure” magic)
Green (Forest Green): Nature Magic
Indigo (Azure): Air Magic
Orange (Amber): Evocation/Invocation Magic
Pink (Amaranth): Enchantment/Charm Magic
Red (Scarlet): Fire Magic
Violet (Tyrian Purple): Divination/Information Magic
White (Ivory): Protection Magic(Apotropaism)
White (Snow White): Light Magic
Yellow (Gold): Summoning/Conjuring Magic

Wizards must also carry, at all times, a wizard staff (quarterstaff) and a wavy dagger, whether magical or otherwise.

P.U. Benefits
Good old P.U. gives all its students an excellent start in the arcane trade. All graduates start with a spell book filled with all 12 of the basic 1st level magic-user spells, plus two 2nd and one 3rd level spells of choice.

However, not all students graduate. If a character wants to have graduated from P.U., they must roll a percentile check against the total of their Wisdom and Charisma scores multiplied by four. If they roll above this number, they wash out (d8 to determine year, 8 means they failed in the first 1d4 weeks), and unless accepted into another school of magic, they are treated as a Hedge Mage or Meadow Witch, with a total number of 1st level spells in their spell book equal to the number of years before they washed out, or the Hedge Mage/Meadow Witch total, at a minimum.

Major Campuses of Prestidigitators University
In general, in descending order of prominence, respect, and resources:

Warlock, Upper Elfshire (P.U.N.C., “National Campus”)
Alville, East Elfland (P.U.K.E., “Kingdom of the Elves”)
Burrowburgh, Carrot County (P.U.C.C.)
Magus, Old Elfshire (P.U.M.A., “Magus Annex”))
Glitterdale, Barony of Glitterdale (P.U.G.D.)
Goldburg, Kingdom of Gold (P.U.G.B.)
Highdale, Regal Realm (P.U.R.R.)
Merchantburg (P.U.M.B.)
Tradertown (P.U.T.T.)
Vendorville (P.U.V.V.)
Settburgh, Badgershire (P.U.B.S.)
Coppertown, Lower Kettle (P.U.L.K.)


  1. James -- I hope you and the Mishler fam have avoided the pandemic. It seems to be reaching a zenith here in Central NY. Be well!

    1. Greg -- good to see you are still kicking. So far, so good here in the Near North Woods. Hope you all are holding up out there, as well. Will we see you return to blogging soon, maybe?