Serial Settings 1: Ubiquity ~ Week 33

The entry this week for Serial Setting 1 for Ubiquity adds still another entry point into the lives of the residents of the mysterious Windlet Islands. The Serial Settings series of posts is intended to provide usable setting material for busy GMs. Series 1 is for those looking to run Daring Tales of Adventure or Hollow Earth Expedition.

33) Mother Mountain, Might, and Mercy, The House of Stars, Windlet Settlement, Greater Windlet Island

There are many secrets on these islands, and not a few of them are laid bare for all to see, if one has the eyes to do so. One such secret is the compelling competition held every three months on the dark of the moon among select women of the islands with tight connections to the House of Stars, or the trust of the other participants.

One of the money crops of the islands, particularly Greater Windlet and Hansel and Gretel, is a thick resin which can be harvested from hardy, low bushes with a cruel blue-green sheen, and used to mould hard, light objects of any description. The plants are called Mother’s Mercy, and the resin was first put to use repair canoes and boats after an early expedition experienced trouble when some of the larger predators still unfettered by the fence which was to come took exception to these vessels on the beach. It was also used to staunch wounds and in one heroic case, craft a weapon with which to fight back.

It is that tale which the competition seeks to keep as a living tradition.

On the day of the new moon, the women chosen for the challenge work together to gather a supply of resin for each participant. In the afternoon, they prepare the resin, and in the evening, each participant creates a brutal gauntlet of resin and shards of coral and shell for their right arm, and a blunt bludgeon of a shield around their left. In the darkness of full night, they battle each other until only one is left standing and unmarked. Under the starlight, once a victor has been declared, that victor tends the wounds of those less capable one by one, using the wisdom of the islands and other secrets hidden with more craft and deception, until only the barest traces of scar tissue remains.

The challenge is to first blood and the victor of each match must fight without pause, one opponent succeeding the last until none remain.

The Title of Mother Mountain, Might and Mercy may only be awarded to the woman who vanquishes all other opponents without taking injury herself, and then successfully treating those injured in the contest.


When used to craft the weapons from the legend used in the contest, participants coat their left arm in a knobbed and somewhat bulbous bracer and blunt hook of of resin, allowed to harden into a thick, tough, fibrous shell. In this state the resin is a light brown colour, not unlike honey. It is hard enough to take the heavy battering the contest requires, and if applied with sufficient thickness, can easily foil steel weapons for a short time.

On the right hand, participants have a large globe of resin, made of many coats and layers of the material, built up around their closed fist. As the globe is made, the outer layers have fragments of shell, bone, and rock embedded in them as they dry, which leaves the outer surface rough, and easily able to draw blood and make painful wounds.

It all looks very brutish and alien, but even more disturbing, should a female newcomer be invited to participate, or should someone observe events uninvited, is that the entire contest is handled in the strictest silence. No sounds, other than those of drawn breath are to be made by participants, and if someone should cry out, they are withdrawn from competition in shame, by the elders.

Each participant makes their own applique. No instruction is given. Should the participants’ resin appliques crack and break, the result is the same as losing their match – they may progress no further and are counted among the “dead.” Learning to properly layer and shape the applique is a prized skill among competitors, although the weapons rarely fail to outlive their users.

Left Hand:  1N, +1 to block melee or brawl

Right Hand: 2N for competition, 1L for actual combat


On a critical failure, the resin will develop cracks, depending on who well it is constructed, it may still be usable. When being constructed, the maker’s margin of success will determine how many such cracks the resin can withstand before becoming useless:

  • 0-1   One, the resin will splinter and no longer retain its form on a subsequent critical failure
  • 2-3   Two, the resin will splinter and no longer retain its form on a third critical failure
  • 4-5   Three, the resin will splinter and no longer retain its form on a fourth critical failure

Rumours: heard primarily among the older fishermen

  • The women go off sometimes to work dark works under the shadow of the moonless sky and Mount Cairn
  • The women believe in appeasing the gods if the islands and their people and progeny are to be fruitful
  • The women of the Windlet Isles are both tougher, more graceful, and more grounded than any others anywhere


Seek and thou shalt find!

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