Author Topic: Project Damascus  (Read 10024 times)

Offline Zakkeg

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Project Damascus
« on: June 23, 2011, 09:26:52 AM »
Entry I: View from the Top




Population: ~200 billion.
Tithe Grade: Exactus Extremis.
Subsector Capital: Hadrian.
Subsector Governor: Hector Gorol.
Naval Presence: High. Orbital bases at Farnesi, Maxima, Medea, New Corinthe and Volatrin.

The Damascus subsector is part of the Fortis sector, a group of worlds in the Segmentum Pacificus reclaimed for the Imperium by Lord Militant Horatio Sarnovich and his immediate successor Lord Militant Nero Farnesi towards the end of M35. The subsector itself, however, did not officially come into existence until several centuries later.


Overview

Originally a large area of wilderness space to the east of Fortis proper, the Damascus subsector was formally incorporated in M36 in honour of the investiture of High Lord Goge Vandire. With this act came waves of settlers, who inevitably brought political and economic power in their wake. With the exponentially increased interest in the subsector, what was once believed to be a relatively empty region of space was swiftly discovered to be anything but.

Encompassing close to a third of the Fortis sector in both size and population, the Damascus is very nearly a sector in its own right. Numerous subsector governors in the past have petitioned the Adeptus Administratum to relocate the sector capital from Sarnovich I to Hadrian, and with each passing century the case for such a move becomes stronger. Thus far, however, administrative expedience has won out, and the Lords Damascus have grudgingly paid their tithes to the Lords Travian (all the while complaining that it should rightly be the other way around).

The Damascus subsector is officially divided into four administrative districts, these being Damascus Viscer, the Kessler Belt, the Nessian Reach and Vandire’s Folly. There is also a fifth district, less official but nonetheless recognized on most Imperial star charts: the Void-Stars.


Damascus Viscer

The heart of the subsector, Damascus Viscer is where the greatest concentration of wealth, manpower and political influence lies. Not only does it contain the subsector capital of Hadrian but also the hive worlds Medea and Tethys, the seats of power for the DeVayne Consortium and House Della Rovere respectively. These two economic giants are between them responsible for so much of the Damascus subsector’s trade that  were they to somehow collapse, the subsector would likely follow suit in short order.

Within its borders are also two of the most prestigious Schola Progenium facilities in the sector, the St. Ignatius Academy on Falistgrad and St. Lucasta Priory on Orphilla. The former is famed as a training ground for the Imperium’s future military leaders. The latter, while somewhat less well-known, is nonetheless held in high esteem. St. Lucasta’s attracts exorbitant donations from wealthy benefactors looking to demonstrate their piety, as it provides the Order of the Burning Blood with the vast majority of its novitiates.

The final jewel in Damascus Viscer’s crown is Volatrin, a ruby to match Tethys’s sapphire. A gas giant of immense size, without its mining enterprises Battlefleet Fortis would be hard-pressed to keep its ships fuelled. As it is, Volatrin’s staggering output supplies fuel across the segmentum and beyond and makes its Imperial Governor one of the richest men in the sector.


The Kessler Belt

In terms of population, economic power and political sway, the Kessler Belt forever finds itself just short of Damascus Viscer. It is thus perhaps unsurprising that the district’s inhabitants (particular those in the higher echelons of power) have developed something of an inferiority complex, which has in turn led to a fierce competitive streak. This is particularly evident on Maxima, whose inhabitants are infamous for their love of bloodsport.

Like Damascus Viscer, the Kessler belt plays host to the homeworlds of two titans of industry. By far the older of these is House Amontillado, which grew over the centuries from a simple winery on the eponymous agri-world to become one of the largest agricultural concerns in the segmentum. Far less ancient, the upstart Imperial General Bionics of Maxima has rapidly expanded to rival even the countless manufactorums of House Della Rovere.

Also found in the Kessler Belt is the garden world of Farnesi, so named for the Lord Militant who was so instrumental in the sector’s birth. He took his retirement there, far from the centres of political power and the headaches that go with it. It is thus somewhat ironic that in the millennia since his death Farnesi has become a favourite retreat for the great and the good, thereby transforming it into a mire of just the sort of backstabbing and intrigue the Lord Militant sought to escape.

But like all provinces of the Imperium of Man, the Kessler belt has much blood in its history. The shrine world St. Sebastien is a prime example. From the ancient murder of the martyr whose name it bears to the very recent corruption of its leadership by foul xenos and the mayhem that followed, St. Sebastien has come closer to the brink with each catastrophe. And to see the fate that awaits it should that line ever be crossed one need look no further than Rassilon, left a lifeless wasteland a thousand years ago by the Inquisition’s most final and terrible sanction: Exterminatus.


The Nessian Reach

Though not especially populous, the Nessian Reach contains several of the oldest worlds in the sector. This tends to afford its ruling class a respect incommensurate with their temporal power.

This is not to say that the lords of the Reach are powerless, however. Indeed, the Fabricator-General of Dorn’s Landing is one of the most powerful men in the sector. His displeasure can bring planetary economies grinding to a halt, while his favour can ensure prosperity and protection from the vagaries of such petty issues as “market forces” that more secular manufacturing syndicates must concern themselves with.

Similarly, the bankers of House Singh who call New Corinthe home have financial influence which far outstrips their relatively modest planetary holdings. Some say that the other great houses of Damascus are so deeply in their pockets that House Gorol rules only by consent of the Singhs.


Vandire’s Folly

Once known as Vandire’s Glory, Vandire’s Folly (sometimes simply the Folly) is widely considered an insignificant backwater. While this may be true to some extent, that very insignificance makes it an appealing refuge for rogues and malcontents of all stripes.

An excellent example of such a haven is Journey’s End, a former hive-world stripped of its entire populace by a terrible plague of mysterious origin. The great hives now stand as haunted ruins, but the wastes between them are dotted with ramshackle towns where one can find some of the worst examples of humanity on offer.

Conversely, Last Hope plays host to communities of simple Emperor-fearing folk who work their fields to no more sinister an end than feeding the hungry masses of the Segmentum Pacificus (and filling the coffers of House Amontillado, of course). More pertinently, it is also the location of the last significant spaceport before the wide stretch of wilderness space en route to the Carthax sector.

Though of little consequence to most, within Vandire’s Folly can also be found the enigmatic dead world known as Bane. It has of late come under the intense scrutiny of certain factions within the Adeptus Mechanicus, which has of course piqued the interest of several other parties - particularly the Imperial Inquisition.


The Void-Stars

Technically a part of the Folly, the Void-Stars have an evil reputation throughout the sector and beyond. Sailors call the area cursed, telling stories of ghost-ships, void krakens, and worse things lurking out in the blackness.

True or not, the region is known for warp-storms, and more than a few ships have disappeared there without a trace. Only the boldest (or maddest) captains venture into the Void-Stars without good reason.


_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Entry II: Bane
Entry III: Tethys
Entry IV: Volatrin
Entry V: Dorn's Landing
_________________________________________________________________________________________________


I know that the Dark Millenium subforum is traditionally used mainly for fluff Q&A, but I wasn't exactly sure where else to put this. Not exactly IC, is it? Anyway. The Damascus Subsector is something I've been working on intermittently for years, but I've only just now begun to organize it. As you can see, I've gone for sort of a DH approach.

If this manages to generate any interest there'll be further entries. (I'm not promising updates on a regular schedule, mind; I've only got one more done so far, and my interest has a tendency to wax and wane without an actual group to keep me involved.) The plan is to have one for each of the planets marked, with plot hooks et cetera. Past that there'll likely be one for the major civilian power blocs, one for the Inquisition, one for the various Adepta (Adeptas? Adepti? Adeptuses?) and perhaps one for local ships of interest. (Though I'm not quite sure what I'd put in it apart from Women Wept, so she may just get an entry to herself.) Oh, and just maybe one for dramatis personae, though more likely they'll just go up in Rules Discussion along with stat blocks as and when I've finished models for them. Once upon a time I was going to make a website out of it. That might still happen, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

I considered transplanting Damascus into the Carthax sector, since it was always located somewhere in the Segmentum Pacificus anyway, but given that it actually predates Carthax it felt a bit odd. In any case, Lord-Inquisitor Lund becomes a far less interesting character if he's got Calleia to kvetch to. So I've decided we're neighbours instead. ;D Gives me an excuse to have Felbranche and co. show up if I ever find I simultaneously have the money, inclination and opportunity to fly over for a Conclave event. And if any of you feel like setting a game or two in the Damascus, knock yourselves out. Just try not to do anything an Inquisitorial cover-up can't fix. ;)

Oh, and while I copied this over from Word I've sworn off spellcheck, so if you spot any typos kindly let me know. ;D


Alright, alright, I'll lay off the smileys...
« Last Edit: May 21, 2012, 09:39:52 AM by Zakkeg »
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Offline The Emperors Chosen

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Re: Project Damascus
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2011, 04:08:28 PM »
If you are looking for additional writers, then I would be interested in helping.

Offline Damon

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Re: Project Damascus
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2011, 10:29:47 PM »
Some nice background. I'd be interested to see how this develops. Looks like it has lots of potential :)

Could only see one typo:

Quote
Not onlt does it contain the subsector capital of Hadrian but also the hive worlds Medea and Tethys, the seats of power for the DeVayne Consortium and House Della Rovere respectively.

I presume you mean only not onlt :P

Offline Aidan

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Re: Project Damascus
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2011, 12:03:06 AM »
I like this a lot. I've spent years working on a sector of my own for Inquisitor, complete with 30-something planets, and various cultures, political structures, etc. Right now the Damascus sector is a little undeveloped (though it would still be considered sufficient by many gamers, I think), but if you could build on the individual worlds - and it helps to think like a social scientist when doing that - this could become something really great.

After years, I still can't quite be sure if my players are pleased with or irritated by the mountains of fluff surrounding every campaign I write; but I think it is the duty of any serious GM to be a proper writer and put as much flavour into the background as he can.

Looking forward to more.

-Aidan

Offline Zakkeg

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Re: Project Damascus
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2011, 05:01:21 AM »
Chosen - Wasn't really recruiting, but now that you mention it I am making up about half of this on the fly. Did you have any specific ideas you'd like to run by me? There are quite a lot more planets in the subsector than the ones I've marked out on the map, after all.

Damon - Cheers for pointing that out. Thought I'd got all of them. Ah well - another one bites the dust. ::)

Aidan - It might look undeveloped (alright, bits of it are - still haven't got a bastard clue what I want to do with Medea, f'rex), but this is just meant to be a very loose overview. As I said, each of the listed planets is to get its own entry, and they'll all be about the length of the one up top. (In point of fact, the one I've got written up is about 200 words longer.) So not exactly novellas, but they'll do their job in what I hope is an interesting and informative manner.

On that note, how do you lot feel about the general style? Not too dry or florid? I tend to write the way I think, so it's a bit hard for me to judge objectively.

Oh, and before anyone else notices: It just occurred to me yesterday that the DeVayne Consortium sounds a hell of a lot like the Calixis sector's DeVayne Incorporation. Must've recycled the name without realizing it. Whoops. :-[ But I've been using it long enough that it feels wrong to change it, and anyway I can't seem to find anything else that rolls off the tongue in quite the same way. But there's half a galaxy separating them, so be assured that they're unrelated.

Right. Next up: Bane. (Yeah, they're in a funny order. Live with it. ;D)
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Offline The Emperors Chosen

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Re: Project Damascus
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2011, 02:20:38 PM »
One thing I would add is the reason for the names. Take Vandire's Folly for example. Why is it named this? Other than that, I really like this project, and will post any ideas I have.

Offline Aidan

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Re: Project Damascus
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2011, 11:56:01 PM »
Quote
On that note, how do you lot feel about the general style? Not too dry or florid? I tend to write the way I think, so it's a bit hard for me to judge objectively.

As an inforamtive text, it should be just a little dry, but not too much so - I feel you're doing well on that point.

If each of the planets gets a 1,000 word overview, that'd be excellent. (I wasn't sure what you meant by a 'new entry). In the case of my background text for planets, the time devoted to planets varies accoring to their importance and complexity of their systems - for example, there is less to say about a recently established oceanic agri-world than about a planet with a 12,000 year history stretching back before the Imperium was established! Similarly, the byzantine politics of a merchant nobility takes more explaining than a crony governor ruling a world on behalf of his extraplanetary overlords.

So, I'll be looking forward to the continuation of this.

. . .

BTW, that's a very nice map you've made. I felt proud of my own maps, but that one is much prettier.

. . .

Quote
Take Vandire's Folly for example. Why is it named this? Other than that, I really like this project, and will post any ideas I have.

I would presume, at a guess, that it was explored/colonised under the reign of Goge Vandire - which would make sense considering the region was, according to the text, incorporated into the Imperium at that time. Since Vandire, after his fall, became 'persona non grata' in a very big way, it would make sense that, when the new region failed (as in, the mysterious death of Journey's End), it would be renamed from 'Vandire's Glory' to 'Vandire's Folly'.

That's all just supposition, of course, but that is what I would infer from the information Zakkeg has given us.

Offline Inquisitor Octavian Lars

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Re: Project Damascus
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2011, 09:30:22 AM »
Zakeg, how have you made the (awesome) map. I would like to make a similar for my own velterax sub-sector
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Offline Shannow

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Re: Project Damascus
« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2011, 11:33:40 AM »
This type of depth that adds so much to character/campaign background is something I really struggle with, so this is always going to be well appreciated (and stolen :P) by me.

Great stuff :)
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Offline Zakkeg

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Re: Project Damascus
« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2011, 07:26:02 AM »
Entry II: Bane



Population: <150.
Tithe Grade: Aptus Non.
Geography: Though large dust basins and salt flats indicate the presence of oceans at one time, the planet is now almost entirely arid (atmospheric moisture levels <1%). Similarly, large mountain ranges are indicative of high levels of tectonic activity which have since largely ceased.
Government Type: None.
Planetary Governor: None.
Adept Presence: Very low. Adeptus Mechanicus (explorator team).
Military: Skitarii security force.
Trade: None.


Bane is classified as a dead world, and by all indications has been since long before the rise of the Imperium. Its chief points of interest are its staggering assortment of satellites and the towering edifices known as the whisper-mounds.

Bane’s extreme aridity means its atmosphere is poor at both deflecting and retaining heat, which when combined with its roughly 32-hour rotational cycle means that surface temperatures can reach in excess of 50°C on the sunward side before plummeting to a frigid -30°C at night. Due to its tilted axis of rotation conditions become even more extreme as one approaches the poles, which experience half-year ‘days’ much like those of Terra.

The temperature differential leads to strong winds and almost perpetual dust storms, ranging in severity from minor irritants to mile-high walls of flensing grit that can strip unprotected flesh down to gleaming bone in minutes.

Given the generally inhospitable nature of the planet, then, it may come as a surprise that Bane’s atmosphere is entirely breathable (though doing so without filtration equipment is inadvisable due to the rapid moisture loss that would ensue). The ratio of gases present is in fact nearly ideal for terrestrial life, though there is little indication as to precisely why that should be the case.


The Moons of Bane

With one hundred and thirty-two satellites (over forty of which are large enough to be classified as moons), Bane may possess the largest collection of independent orbital bodies recorded for any terrestrial planet, let alone one of its modest size (roughly 120% that of Terra). Their collective mass is nearly a third that of the planet itself. Under ordinary circumstances their orbits would be expected to interfere with one another, likely dooming them to mutual obliteration and forming debris rings.  

That this has not come to pass is a source of great puzzlement to those who are given to concern themselves with such things. Bane’s sattelites are locked in a complex gravitational dance around the planet, such that the forces they generate balance each other out almost perfectly and they are never in any danger of collision. They may even contribute to Bane’s curious tectonic stability. The odds of such a state arising naturally are so remote as to be effectively impossible, but the idea of some long-lost alien race rearranging celestial bodies for no readily apparent reason seems scarcely more plausible.

The moons themselves appear in no way special, though two of them (Bane XIV and XLII) contain exploitable promethium deposits. The DeVayne Consortium has applied for permission to begin operations, but the Lord Damascus’s office has thus far neglected to respond.


The Whisper-Mounds

Perhaps even more mysterious than the objects in Bane’s skies are the ones on its surface, specifically the kilometre-high megaliths known as the whisper-mounds. Appearing rather like enormous termite mounds, the whisper-mounds are believed to be evidence of an ancient  race of xenos that inhabited the planet before the earliest days of humanity. (This conveniently dovetails with the theory regarding alien intervention in the arrangement of Bane’s moons.)

There are several hundred of the whisper-mounds dotted about the planet, no two exactly alike. Although they appear fragile, they are in fact harder than ferrocrete, which helps explain how they have survived countless millennia of vicious dust storms. This is all the more remarkable given that they appear to be constructed of little more than sand and a quasi-organic resin that defies chemical analysis.

The whisper-mounds derive their name from the curious sound caused as the wind passes through the thousands of twisting channels that wend their way through each structure, which resembles nothing so much as a gaggle of whisperers murmuring just out of earshot. The similarities to the pylons of Cadia have not gone unnoticed. Many of the first xenoarchaeologists to study the whisper-mounds were eventually driven mad by the whispers, convinced that ancient secrets and ultimate truths were there for the taking if only their meaning could be discerned. A few even claimed to have found understanding, wandering out into the desert never to be seen again. Since those early forays most researchers have taken to wearing ear protection.

The priesthood of Mars has taken a keen interest in the whisper-mounds in recent years, even going so far as to erect a semi-permanent outpost within range of several of them. If they have made some great discovery, however, they have thus far chosen to keep it to themselves.


Explorator Station Alpha

Home to the entirety of Bane’s miniscule population, the unimaginatively-named Explorator Station Alpha was founded in 003.M42 by Magos Explorator Kroener shortly before his death. The Magos was killed while attempting to effect the repair of a malfunctioning moisture recaptivator; a short in the system fried his bionics so badly that his flesh caught fire, leaving little left of the unfortunate tech-priest but smouldering robes and scorched metal. Ever since, Station Alpha has had a reputation for lethally bad luck.

Even so, the Adeptus Mechanicus are not easily discouraged. Many of the finest xenoarchaeologists in the segmentum have spent time at Station Alpha, though their research has been largely fruitless. What few discoveries have been made have been purely of academic interest. Combined with the unusually high rate of attrition among tech-acolytes, most tech-priests eventually decide to focus their efforts on more productive pursuits.

Taken in this context, the recent deployment of a century-strong Skitarii security force seems incongruous to say the least – all the more so given that the only apparent dangers to researchers are technical mishaps and the desert itself, neither of which the Skitarii are equipped to defend against. The Adeptus Mechanicus has been characteristically cagey about the logic behind such a deployment, but it has certainly caused the Inquisition to regard the surface of Bane with renewed interest.


The Banissian Library

Located on the otherwise unremarkable Bane XI, the Banissian Library is one of the subsector’s best-kept secrets. Apart from agents of the Inquisition and the Lord Damascus himself, anyone who has the misfortune to learn of its existence is likely doomed to mind-scrubbing and a future as an archival servitor. How long this secrecy can be maintained in the face of mounting interest in Bane and its environs is of course an open question, but the Holy Ordos are nothing if not fastidious. Even so, the mysterious disappearance of several DeVayne Consortium surveyors and at least one prying Magos has raised more than a few eyebrows.

The reason for such concealment, beyond the typical Inquisitorial inclination toward clandestineness, is of course rooted in the library’s contents: it rates among the largest collections of esoteric and forbidden lore in the Segmentum Pacificus – perhaps even the Imperium. Some of the tomes contained within may be handled only by servitors, for they contain the power to corrupt by their very touch.

For all that, however, its usefulness to the majority of Inquisitors lies more in its capacity as a comprehensive hall of records. (This is also perhaps the reason that the occasional demands from the more puritanical members of the Ordos to have the place put to the torch are pointedly ignored.) Every report made by every Imperial agent in the subsector is archived and collated in the library. Patterns may emerge from items as apparently frivolous and unrelated as crop yields and petty vandalism; countless catastrophes have been averted through the studious analysis of just such trivia.

The post of Master of the Banissian Library, though nominally prestigious, is largely a thankless and lonely task. Inquisitors are by and large a dynamic lot, and few would wish to spend their days as a glorified file clerk surrounded by dust and servitors. For nearly two centuries the office has rested with Lord-Inquisitor Montague, who like most of his predecessors was promoted to the position as a means of curbing his penchant for stirring up trouble. His suspicious contentment with the posting has oft driven the somewhat justifiably paranoid Grand Master of the Ordos Damascus Lord-Inquisitor Lund to distraction.


_________________________________________________________________________________________________


Alright, the weather report may have been a bit superfluous. But one needs to know these things if one's planning an expedition.  ;D

I would presume, at a guess, that it was explored/colonised under the reign of Goge Vandire - which would make sense considering the region was, according to the text, incorporated into the Imperium at that time. Since Vandire, after his fall, became 'persona non grata' in a very big way, it would make sense that, when the new region failed (as in, the mysterious death of Journey's End), it would be renamed from 'Vandire's Glory' to 'Vandire's Folly'.

Top marks. Well, Journey's End happened a bit later, but apart from that: bang on.

As for the others, Damascus Viscer just means "heart of Damascus" in the mutant pidgin Latin that is High Gothic. The Kessler Belt was presumably named for someone called Kessler; I didn't feel the details were hugely important. And I just thought the Nessian Reach sounded good. (Though it bears mentioning that there's a rather nasty centaur by the name of Nessus in Greek mythology, so perhaps something could be done with that...)

Finally, for Octavian Lars: No real trick to it; I just mucked about in photoshop until I had something I was happy with. This tutorial might help a bit though; I followed it almost to the letter to make Bane up there (my first photoshop project, in fact), and I think you'll find a lot of the techniques are transferable.

Still haven't worked out how to make a decent city-planet though, so Hadrian and Dorn's Landing might be a ways off...
« Last Edit: July 01, 2011, 08:55:44 AM by Zakkeg »
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Offline Inquisitor Octavian Lars

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Re: Project Damascus
« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2011, 07:51:03 AM »
One problem for me, Don't have the money to get photoshop :'( and how long does the trial last.
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Offline DapperAnarchist

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Re: Project Damascus
« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2011, 12:24:03 PM »
get the GIMP! http://www.gimp.org/ is the General Image Manipulation Program, a free and reasonable effective photoshop clone. I use it for making starscapes, planets, and photoedits of my characters... There's even a script out there for making planets, that does most of the boring work for you.

On topic!

Lovely work, I don't think I have any criticisms to make...
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Offline Inquisitor Octavian Lars

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Re: Project Damascus
« Reply #12 on: June 28, 2011, 04:05:01 PM »
My 1st representation of Velterax III using GIMP!!

My favourite image software ever!
(big pic)
« Last Edit: June 28, 2011, 04:19:12 PM by Inquisitor Octavian Lars »
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Offline Zakkeg

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Re: Project Damascus
« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2011, 11:39:13 PM »
Lovely first effort Octavian, but if we could, ah, try to stay on topic a bit?

I'd just as soon this thread not become about the relative merits of image manipulation software...
« Last Edit: June 29, 2011, 12:04:20 AM by Zakkeg »
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Offline Aidan

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Re: Project Damascus
« Reply #14 on: June 29, 2011, 05:56:25 AM »
Ah, now that is the kind of thing I was hoping for!

I find that fleshing out worlds like this really helps one when building a campaign; having a setting with established unique features (in this case, strange sand formations, strange oribtal phenomena, xenoarchaeology, and a top-top-secret archive) makes for a much more interesting campaign than 'go to hive genericus as investigate cult such-and-such'.

A dead world is of course mercifully easy from a societal perspective, but you've convinced me that you can write this stuff. Looking forward to more.

-A.