Serial Setting 2 ~ Week 18

The Casting Shadows blog’s second Serial Setting appears in weekly installments and is scheduled for a 6-month run. This series is focused on providing basic details for heroic pulp adventures for the Ubiquity Roleplaying System as presented in Hollow Earth Expedition. These ideas, set in a fictionalized and mysticized version of the Korean peninsula in 1936, present a community oppressed by faceless enemies and their own countrymen. It will additionally suggest routes, leads, and hooks for GMs to entice groups based elsewhere in the world to get involved.

18  Celestial Devices-   The most invisible things are often before one’s very eyes

In the Joseon Dynasty, which spanned 600 years of relative peace and ultimately ended in the annexation of the peninsula by its expanding and ambitions neighbor in 1910, a period of early invention and refinement of knowledge set the tone for the rise of a learned elite. Politics being what they always are, those who found themselves in favour did their best to remain there. That this resulted in dark days should surprise no one, particularly in light of the preceding periods of illumination.

Of particular cleverness was Korea’s version of an automated measurement device for the tracking of the time, days, seasons, and positions of the observable planets and celestial bodies. Powered by a water wheel, this device was of great use to astronomers of the time both by day and night.

Most believe that the depredations visited on the peninsula during the late 16th Century during the Japanese invasions referred to collectively as the Imjin Waeran, claimed most of the original sun dials and other celestial devices which were typically stationed in public areas for the use of all. Duplicates and imitations were of course made, but the loss stands as one example among many about the incalculable loss in heritage items which invaders have left as their mark on a resilient people.

Some devices, seemingly nothing more than plain and serviceable tools, still do exist in public spaces, under everyone’s noses, and still point out celestial events every day… as well as changes and timings of events of a more localized and subterranean nature. It would seem, and although the writings and maps of earlier ages lacked the prescience to indicate the possibility, that the circle of learned men in service to the kings of early Joseon were cognizant of certain tendencies in the nature world, which indicate that storms and other ostensibly a-seasonal anomalies will reveal the predictable and gradual opening of access points into a world within a world. Long confused as academic double-speak indicating that the world inside the bowl of the clock was a small mirror of our own, some – more unusually experienced observers – may glean the meaning of what is indicated should they ever get the chance to take a deep look.

Symbols, marred by time, and blurred in the eyes of users by a lack of specific education and need, specify seasons, dates, and times when the storms of the post-rainy season indicate the disturbances caused by the opening of mystical gates in the mountains of the peninsula which lead to the lands within. In small, out-of-the-way villages across the peninsula, treasures like these which may have survived disasters, raids, wars, and simple time, are being systematically destroyed in service to the new truths of the invader’s rewritten realities: without them, this peninsula is less than nothing,

Secret societies based on seeking, or preventing the discovery of the Hollow Earth, may be goaded to move the very heavens to get their hands on these devices should their existence ever be brought to light.

They may be encountered as art in propaganda material smuggled out by rebel groups who have no idea of their significance. They may be encountered in the houses and gardens of the oppressor on the peninsula or on the island home which sent them. They may be encountered merely in the wistful stories of expatriate Koreans reminiscing about their lost and fading home. They may come to light in virtually any sort of misadventure in the wild hills of this dynamic and sorely abused country.

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