Late in 2012, the #SciFiChat Twitter chat brainstormed a fantasy setting for a shared-world fantasy that I promised to publish through Flying Pen Press. Jaleta Clegg (@Jaleta_Clegg) agreed to be the editor for the anthology.
Clegg sent me the writer’s guidelines, which she asked me to post as a call for writers. I look forward to seeing what writers come up with for this rather interesting anthology concept.
Cooking Up Trouble, Stories of Magistrum
(Name is open to change. Suggestions?)
Tentative publication date is September 2013
Deadline for story submission
First round: March 16th
First round is open to #scifichat regulars only.
Second round: April 13th
Second round is invitation only.
Final and third round: May 4th
Third round, if needed, will be an open call.
Please email story as a .doc or .rtf attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org
Include: Shared World Anthology in your subject line.
Story length: 2-6k for a total of about 100k in the book
Please keep it family friendly. No graphic language or bedroom scenes. No violence just for the sake of violence, unless it includes cool explosions. I like those. But it needs to have a good story.
This is a shared-world anthology, which means you have to set your story in the world described below. For this first volume, we are looking for stories about the Contest, set either on Ketmari before or during the Contest, or on a home planetoid preparing for the contest, or on an aethership traveling to the contest or gathering ingredients for the contest. It will make more sense when you read the description.
Magistrum is a world broken into multiple fragments called planetoids. All of them travel around their sun through the aether, a breathable atmosphere that acts like a combination of air and water. Each planetoid has its own characteristics – one is a forest, one a swamp, another a rock, etc.
Ketmari is located within the Ocean of Mists. It is a market world (based loosely on a conglomeration of the bazaars in the Sinbad movies and tales and the Hong Kong markets) for the rest of Magistrum. It is a bowl-shaped planetoid with the main market located within the bowl. Fringe markets dealing in quasi-legal and illegal substances and services are located in the outer shell of Ketmari. Rule of thumb for Ketmari: the closer it is located to the Gate and aethership ports, the more expensive and legal its products/services will be.
Travel to Ketmari is mostly by Gate. All Gates link to the one on Ketmari, so someone wishing to travel to a different planetoid must first travel to Ketmari. Only those with sufficient magic and/or wealth can afford travel by Gate.
Ketmari also has aethership ports. Those foolish or prepared enough to brave the Ocean of Mists and find Ketmari are rewarded by a rich market place that provides all sorts of things from all the planetoids.
The veils of Ketmari refer to streamers of magical mist that can be manipulated by those with the right ingredients to provide privacy or attract customers or whatever you want to imagine. They are tricky and delicate to manipulate, so those doing it need to have mastered magical power and finesse.
Ketmari is ruled by the Mistress, a mysterious figure who keeps order at the market, enforces the immigration rules and other laws, and runs the Contest. (The Mistress will be my narrator character for the anthology. Feel free to use her as a minor character, but please let me know so I can help with description, personality, etc.)
Ketmari has a few thousand permanent inhabitants – those who grow food for the others and provide services for the merchants. Very few merchants are permanent residents. Most rent out a building or stall when they arrive and stay only as long as they can afford to, or until they have sold their goods.
Other planetoids can be imagined by the author. Contact me if you have questions or need clarification.
Magistrum runs on magic and steampunk-type technology. Nothing too complex or advanced.
Travel between worlds is accomplished two ways.
- Aetherships travel between planetoids. They are a cross between an airship and a sailing ship. Travel can take a long time and is fraught with danger. Storms can arise in the aether, winds can be contrary, monsters can inhabit planetoids or even the aether. But travel by aethership is proven and is cheaper than travel by Gates.
- Gates are constructs that run on magic. They are extremely expensive to operate, because of the sheer amount of magic needed, and can only handle very small amounts of things. For this reason, Gates are used mainly for important and/or rich people who wish to travel, and very small, very expensive goods, like gemstones or magical ingredients.
Only thirteen gates exists. One is permanent on Ketmari. The other twelve are portioned out to twelve planetoids by the Mistress of Ketmari through the Contest. Winners of the Contest are judged to have sufficient magic and wealth to operate the Gate. A Contest is held approximately every five years. Worlds vie to have a Gate since it gives them great political and economic advantages.
Magistrum has three main areas besides the planetoids
- The Lake of Fire – this area contains the sun. As expected it is very high heat and unsafe to travel through. It is located in the central part of Magistrum and is confined to a smaller area.
- The Sea of Ice – located beyond the inhabitable planetoids, the Sea of Ice is a very cold region where the aether itself is frozen into large chunks. Travel is very hazardous because of the huge aetherbergs and frequent violent ice storms.
- Ocean of Mists – a nebulous region that orbits the Lake of Fire halfway to the Sea of Ice. It is similar to a huge fog bank. Travel is treacherous because of the dense fog. It is easy to lose your way. This region spawns most of the weather for the other planetoids. Those closest will be wetter than those farther away. Some planetoids make periodic passes through the Ocean of Mists, leading to a climate that includes a wet season and a dry season.
Magic on Magistrum is concocted through cooking special ingredients in a special way. A magic spell can be cooked using a regular recipe for soup, except using magical ingredients (the easiest and most common way). Or it can be created by cooking a very special recipe from normal ingredients (a very difficult way that can lead to many mishaps and mistakes). Or, the most difficult, magic can be created by using magical ingredients and a magical method and magical implements (only for the very rich, very experienced). Ketmari’s main trade is in magical ingredients and more rarely, in magical cooking implements.
The Contest is held once every five years to determine which planetoids have the greatest magical powers and control. Contestants travel to the Market Green on Ketmari where they concoct their most magical dishes. The contest is overseen by the Mistress of Ketmari and judged by a panel of chefs provided by the planetoids entering the contest. The rules are simple:
- The dish must exhibit great magic, enough to convince the judges that the planetoid sponsoring the contestant has enough magic and trade to make having a Gate profitable to that planetoid and Ketmari.
- Judges may not vote for their own entry.
- In case of a tie or a dispute, the final deciding vote is cast by the Mistress.
Winners receive bragging rights and a Gate on their world for the next five years.
The Contest has a hidden agenda, known to a very few. The Mistress is searching for a way to put their world back together from the planetoid fragments and the aether. It was shattered by a spell of great power and must be mended by a spell of equal or greater power.
If you have questions about writing for the anthology or would like to be notified when and if the third round is opened to writers, please contact Jaleta Clegg at the email address given.
For a description of what SciFiChat is all about, see this sticky post: About SciFiChat.