Mars’ Oasis

Mars' Oasis

Mars’ Oasis is a large settlement of 50,000 people in the Shacklack Desert. The city is built around two oases, a large one full of water, and another minute oasis full of a magical liquid called Dythalid. When objects are immersed in Dythalid for an entire month they acquire magical properties, while the Dythalid is consumed. Metals that go through this process become Dythalidium and have the same properties as Dragonsteel. Plant material that goes through the process becomes Dythalidare and has the same properties as ironwood, but can still be consumed for 1d8+3 healing for each serving eaten. Minerals that go through the process become Dythalidem, a crystal that radiates blue light as well as enough heat to protect against cold temperatures as low as 0˚ F. Other liquids that go through the process become Dythalidos, a liquid that explodes under pressure or when the smallest spark touches it. Dead animal products that go through the process become Dythalidon, a virtually weightless substance that still provides ample sustenance if consumed.

Naturally, the liquid is unbelievably valuable. An equal amount by weight is needed to change an object into a Dythalid substance. Dythalid is sold by the government of Mars’ Oasis for 1,600 GP an ounce to citizens of the desert. It is sold outside of the city for more, but this is illegal and carries a very severe punishment that is kept in vague secrecy. Civilians are terrified of this punishment but the fugitives who sell Dythalid to outsiders think the worst that can happen to them is starvation in a prison cell.

Dythalidium is used by the nobles of the city, but is too expensive to give to the soldiers who could easily desert and sell their armor and weaponry for a fortune. Select super soldiers, called the Dythalidee, are chosen to be guards of the Dythalid Oasis from birth. They are always extremely exceptional in every aspect, resistant to mental corruption, have psionic abilities, Dythaldium weapons, Dythalidare armor, and know all the secrets of Dythalid. No Dythalidee has ever fallen in combat.

The city needs food to survive. A little grain does grow around the oasis, but the people need water to drink as well as for irrigating crops. There isn’t enough water for livestock and people to drink, so few beasts are kept at Mars’ Oasis. A special fruit bearing cactus known as Sithica grows throughout the whole Shacklack desert. It is poisonous in its normal form, but if soaked in Dythalid one of the fruits can support someone for a week. The Sithica fruit is the only known substance that does not consume the Dythalid in its incubation period. These fruits are the staple crop of Mars’ Oasis.

The government of Mars’ Oasis is based around a caste system. The lowest caste is slaves, next servants and laborers, moving up to merchants, craftsmen, artisans, and specialists, then nobles and other people from rich or powerful families, the final caste is the royal family who has control over the Dythalid pool. Taxes go through the castes. King Mero III taxes the nobles, the nobles tax the merchants, the employers tax the servants, and the owners take everything they can from the slaves. King Mero decides where the money goes, usually into the army.

Mars’ Oasis needs a good army. It has a constant struggle with the desert environment as well as the other inhabitants of the desert. Bavastatner, the oldest of the blue dragons, lived in Shacklack and his progeny are one of the biggest problems for the people at the oasis. A dragon slayer’s guild has come into existence to deal with the problem. They provide free weapons to the public whenever the city is under attack and King Mero III himself is an accomplished member of the guild. Brass dragons also help against their worst enemies, but only when required.

An enormous formian hive has been set up in the desert. The hive has 25 queens and almost 10,000 workers in it. These outsiders are seeking to enslave the other humanoid species of the desert. To counter the ant encroachment Mar’s Oasis has welcomed a group of Dionysus missionaries. The chaotic clerics are able to keep the lawful Formians away from the city proper whenever they decide to attack.

Previously, undead were an even bigger problem than the blue dragons. In the east of the desert a powerful lich lived in an enormous stone monolith surrounded by legions of undead. The people of Mars’ Oasis, never knowing the lich’s true name, called it the Bane. The Bane sent huge armies of undead to attack the city every few years. The Bane didn’t seem to have any particular goal beyond getting more corpses to make more undead to attack the city to make corpses. It may have wanted control of the Dythalid pool, but the pattern of the attacks were never aimed at that area or any specific area of the city.  Recently the Bane was defeated by the exiled members of the Alliance. King Mero III planned to reward them, but ordered them to leave the city when he discovered that the exiles weclomed an undead in their midst.

Prior to the defeat of the Bane, the mages and clerics of Mars’ Oasis had been thinking of different tactics for driving the undead off for centuries. The most basic tactic is using lots and lots of clerics to turn and destroy the undead. The most effective tactic the mages have created so far is the Rot Reaver. It is a monster that eats and controls undead. It is a little on the black side of magic, but it was seen as necessary to fight the thousands of undead that attacked the city.  With the defeat of the Bane, the mages of Mars’ Oasis are now tweaking their Rot Reavers to prepare for a conflict with the Dragovinians.

Other dangers that threaten the city include lamias, manticores, dragonnes, basilisks, sphinxes, hyenas, giant insects, braxats, dune stalkers, sun giants, asabis, brown dragons, stingers, harssafs, witchknives, and all different kinds of lizards. These creatures never attack in large groups and are usually just one rogue monster that has got the suicidal idea that it can attack an extremely militaristic civilization on its own and survive.

Mars’ Oasis’s army has 3,500 people on active duty patrolling the city, making weapons and armor, and out in the desert killing any monsters they can find. The men are all able to turn undead due totheir clerical or paladin training. They all wear at least breastplate armor and carry masterwork bows and weapons. All of them are trained for killing undead and desert monsters. Their other equipment includes a bead of dryness to store water, cold weapons, potions of healing, holy water, and an oil of gentle repose to be applied immediately upon death to prevent being turned into a zombie or other undead monster.

The name of the city, Mars’ Oasis, comes half from the oasis and the other half from Mars, the Roman version of Ares. In 700 BCE he led a group of Roman soldiers to the dark side of the world and then back around. They fought many orcs, goblins, monsters, and demons on their journey. Ares gave the Romans peace at the end of the journey in his Oasis. Out of the fires of the desert a lake arose with many desert nymphs to become the legionnaires’ wives. From those Romans and nymphs the indigenous humanoid population of the desert has sprung.

With the war between the Alliance and Xoria, Mars’ Oasis is suffering under a constant barrage of diplomats requesting that they enter the war with the Aliiance.  This is due to Mars’ Oasis unique experience in defeating dragons and undead of which Dragovinians are a hybrid. Until now, Mars’ Oasis declined to join the war. The milieu of threats within the desert kept the Mars’ Oasis army busy enough without having to deal with threats outside their immediate region. The situation is about to change though. The Alliance exiles vanquished the Bane and recently slew Bavastatner. Additionally, they negotiated a peace treaty with the formians. Removing the three primary threats to Mars’ Oasis frees them up to join the war against Xoria.

-GoCorral

Hardcore History

A couple weekends ago I went home for a birthday party for my wife’s maid of honor.

Most of our friends still live in an area around our hometown, so when we visit them my wife and I visit them we inevitably end up visiting our families as well.

While there her dad told me about a podcast series called Hardcore History.

For awhile I’d been looking for something to listen to on my car rides to Sac State. Music gets old pretty quick for me, talk radio is too political, and NPR is way too varied in their topics to be consistently interesting to me.

In the past when I’m driving, cleaning, or some other long boring chore I’ve listened to a lecture series put out by the Teaching Company.

My dad gets the lecture series and shares them with me. My favorites are lectures on Greek and Roman classics, but eventually I listened to nearly everything the Teaching Company offered on those topics.

I got a few things from the library, but its difficult to find the perfect audio book to listen to.

My father-in-law’s suggestion turned out to be spot on. Each podcast of Hardcore History is immense. I’m listening to a four hour one now on the fall of the Roman Empire.

The podcasts are also extremely varied. Before the Fall of Rome there was an episode on the events leading up to the Red Scare in the USA.

Plus, the podcasts are free! At least the most recent ones are. The older ones are $2 each and all the older ones can be purchased at a discount.

Hardcore History podcasts don’t come out very often. On average there is a new episode every three months. Eventually I’ll catch up and be without free episodes. I’ll decide to buy the older episodes at that point. No need to rush myself yet.

Either way, the episodes are pretty cool. Dan Carlin is a great storyteller who goes to great lengths to draw parallels between the historical period he’s talking about to the modern world. Quotes from source material are used in the lecture to back up Carlin’s interpretation of events.

The podcasts are quite long, which isn’t for everyone. Plus, Carlin doesn’t know how to keep his voice at a constant level. Every few minutes I need to adjust the volume on my speakers because he’s shouting or whispering.

I’ve had a lot of fun listening to the podcasts. If you’re into history you should try them out! My father-in-law said so!

-Mister Ed

Cartoon History

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I said in a previous post that I’m reading the Cartoon History of the Universe Part 3. Here’s the page I’m on now about Japanese civilization.

The Cartoon History series is now complete with five books. The first three are called Cartoon History of the Universe Parts 1-3 and the second two are called Cartoon History of the Modern World Parts 1-2.

The author’s name is Larry Gonick. He does a bunch of other cartoon non-fiction books as well.

I own Larry Gonick’s Cartoon Guide to Physics, Cartoon Guide to Chemistry, and his Cartoon History of the United States.

All his books are funny, informative, and quick to read. You can check out more of them at his simple website, www.larrygonick.com

I started reading the series in third grade when I was homeschooled by my parents.

Only the first two books existed then. I’ve read them cover to cover dozens of times since. This repeated reading is probably why I know so much about ancient history, but a lot less about anything after the fall of Rome.

I showed the books to my father-in-law recently because he was interested in the Roman Empire and the Holy Roman Empires.

His reaction upon flipping through them was surprise at the vast amount of sex in them.

Gonick doesn’t shy away from portraying the sexual scandals in his books. If sex between two people influenced their actions and their actions affected history, then he includes the sex.

I read the books when I was eight if that matters to anyone.

Gonick also writes a comic feature for the children’s science magazine, Muse. The magazine is written for ages 10-14.

The feature is a page comic of archetypal philosophers from different cultures talking with each other.

The philosophers also fool around and crack jokes in the margins of other articles throughout the magazine.

I’m rereading the later three Cartoon History books now so that I can fill the gaps in my natural recall of different historical periods.

I’ll probably need to reread it another dozen times before my recall of anything past 500AD is perfect, but I’m hoping that I’ll get there!

That’s all for tonight!

-Mister Ed