Saturday, April 26, 2014


To the small, infrequent audience that presses this blog, I do promise that my scanty output of content is not completely dead yet. However, due to not having much of a tabletop accessibility anymore, I regret to say that the focus on tabletop gaming will subside a bit.

Of course there still shall be world building and stat-based posts.

Of course there shall be lengthy pauses.

Of course.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Five Things

1 - Khafka Pseudovora
    - Roll 1D8 for HP 
    - Needs to eat only once a month
    - 'Bite' attack that inflicts Filth Fever (Save v. Poison)

They take gaudy paints and draw elaborate designs below their noses, all ivory teeth and crimson tongues. It is almost sad.

2 - One With Sparks in Their Knuckles
    - Roll 1D4 for HP
    - (+1 Intelligence)
    - Knows Burning Hands or Flare

They know little, being chased away as children, aside from that which they can touch—and burn.

3 - Heretical Pisikin
    - Roll 1D6 for HP
    - Can make two things
    - Knows Water Breathing

Lost emissaries from the Submost Kingdoms, lugging branches of ceremonial driftwood and smoking pipes of rare tobacco.

4 - Stone Tower King
    - Roll 1D8 for HP, Wisdom
    - Unarmed attack does 1D4 damage
    - 1D6 points of natural armour

Dead heretic pagan gods, made stone and flesh against their will. They weep in the early mornings.

5 - One Who Kisses Spiders
    - Roll 1D6 for HP, Charisma, Strength
    - Knows Speak With Animals (Spiders)
    - (+2 Dex)

Pale-faced and silent, monks of the natural who build shrines to bask in the eight-eyed stares of their children and parents alike.

Do what you will with these things, small as they are.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Tidewaters - Official Systems

Systems for Tidewaters.

Endurance Points - The ability to avoid damage, be it through resistance or otherwise. Regenerate at a rate of 1 EP per turn of rest.

Wounds - What damage one can take before dying fully. Being reduced to one Wound halves the amount of available EP one can use. Wounds regenerate over roughly one week of medical care.

The five main stats are determined by rolling 2D6—or 3D6 if one is feeling kindly—for each stat. A score of nine or ten is considered normal. If any reach a score of zero a character is effectively considered dead.

Face - Social salience, deftness, showmanship, manipulation, propriety, communication.
Nerves - Composure under stress, ability to react, ability to endure horrors.
Motion - Movements and control of movements, reflexes, reacting, making things.
Body - The use of one's body to an end, carrying, attacking, brute strength or endurance.
Mind - The use of one's mind to an end, remembering details, figuring puzzles, explaining details.

Attacking - A weapon's damage value, modified by either a Body or Motion modifier depending on the weapon itself. For example, smaller hand weapons or polearms use Motion, while larger weapons use Body.

Armour - Comes in two varieties that add to EP while penalizing Motion rolls. Natural armour is considered adapted to a being's form, and thus has no penalty.
Light - (+3 EP / -2 Motion)
Heavy - (+5 EP / -3 Motion)

Resistance - Roll 1D4.
v. Charm - Resisting being compelled, convinced, tricked, or subconsciously affected.
v. Poison - Resisting slow toxins, infections, or diseases.
v. Curse - Resisting debilitating sorceries that drain life-energy.

Saving - Roll a D20. Most normal beings save on a score of 16 or higher.
When saving to evade an attack, add Motion modifier.
When saving to avoid a Charm, Poison, or Curse, add the respective modifier.

Traits - Modifiers of main stats gotten at major events over time. Can be positive or negative, and a character may only have six at any given time that do not cancel one another out.
Skills - Tasks and specific talents of a character. Increases with payment of experience and money for training of said skills—money is quicker, but costlier.

Gear - Equipment that one carries, usually functional. Degrades or depletes over time.
Clothing - Garments that inform on social status and personage.

Resolution mechanics
Task - There is a base value for the task, with a roll lower being failure and a roll higher being success. Circumstantial modifiers take effect.
Chance - There is a value with different numbers corresponding to different results.
Reaction - Out of a value of ten, the involved individuals roll, with the roll closest to ten being the first reaction. A successful Motion roll adds to the result.

What a very concise character sheet looks like.

Name -  Species -  Bdy -  EP - 
Age - Sex -  Min -  Wounds - 
Height - Class - Mot - 
Weight -  Detail - Nrv -  v. Poison - 
Gear Fac -  v. Charm - 
v. Curse - 
Garments Skill - 
Skill - 
Spell- Trait - Skill -
Spell- Trait - Skill -
Spell- Trait - Skill -
Spell- Trait - Skill -

Concept of garments and EP adapted wholesale from Gameswithothers.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Shallow and Deep Dreamers

Within the architecture of dreams and levels of consciousness aforesaid, the interaction of conscious beings themselves is rather one-sided: their brains allow for connection to the Layers, and thus they may manifest themselves in said Layers by connecting conscious and subconscious. These experiences are typically known as dreams.

Most brains are limited to the First Layer, and thus are Shallow Dreamers in essence, distilling their experiences in the Zeroth Layer into their perception of the First, and thus affecting the First within the little bubble of reality it takes up, and vice versa. As it is shallow, however, the change upward is minimal, and not much subjective surrealism gets carried up save for false memories or sensations; common to dreaming.

However, through some mechanism of deepmost, base consciousness, a brain can bottom out through their First Layer into the Second, and thus be considered a Deep Dreamer. Most, if any, only manage to achieve this once before either getting lost in the morass or waking so terrified as to never sleep restfully again—but there are even fewer who take interest in the phenomenon, and cultivate their skill in navigation and pattern-reading. It is said the Deep Dreamers access the Second Layers in REM sleep, during which the connection between the conscious and subconscious is most direct, and can prolong that state to maximize their time out of the conscious world. At usual a session can be three hours before 'surfacing'.
As well, due to their immersion into this more fundamental plane, any perceptions that would normally result in dreams in the First Layer, result in local alterations in the Second, which carry up to the Zeroth in the form of more sustained irregularities of reality. The stronger the perception gotten before sleep, the stronger the irregularity that emerges from the primordial unconscious.

When Deep Dreamers descend, they affect a sort of 'sinkhole' for surrounding minds: sending most into drowsiness, disorientation, microsleep, and inconsistent memory—and allowing other Deep Dreamers to track them on all three known Layers. Such factors allow for competition to be swift and lethal between those who would wish to be solitary in their strange and terrible powers.

Some say that the sensation of 'surfacing' is similar to watching a movie reel burn, whilst being pulled upwards by a hook through the skull.

Every person one meets in dreaming is either real in the Zeroth, or real in the Second.



Art credited to Torvenius.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Denstyx, The Great Fortress

        Upon the banks of a churning river so polluted as to be corrosive, the Shoeless Lord Pasramat brought his vast hordes of starving refugees, lost nobility, rejected prophets, and losing armies of the war against the Eighteen Lights. Despair wracked their faces as the blighted lands were shown to be their resting place. They clamored to their Lord to save them, in wrath threw rocks, rotted fruit, the corpses of their newborns.
And led by divine visions, driven by encroaching illness, Pasramat led the masses to the riverbanks, and brought a bowl of the toxic river sludge to his lips— only to spit it out as crystal-clear water. Whatever his kiss touched was purified, brought back to health and perfection. So emboldened the masses drank freely and found deeper faith in their shrunken, dying Shoeless Lord. His commands to quarry great blocks of stone from the earth were met with mass enthusiasm, and so great walls and feast-halls, winding avenues, floors upon floors, buildings upon buildings flew up to comprise what is now Denstyx, a vast city-state.
The lands around grew prosperous, and harrying bandit tribespeople of the wastes were brought to civilization or stripped of goods and executed. From once-wretched desolation came frequent trade caravans and emissaries from lands conquered by the Eighteen Lights, offering goods and alliances. But Pasramat was not so convinced, and from his divan ordered walls thickened, gates quietly sealed, farmland brought inside, strange oil-powered mechanisms from exotic Fossaban imported and set in the subterranean sewers—all for the safety of Denstyx, so that they may never be made refugees again.
But when Pasramat came quietly to his deathbed, only inward issues pressed on the populace: the Fossaban devices brought in only a quarter amount of clean water the Lord’s kiss once did, and the city-state had been built too large to support itself properly. In the midst of deliberations, Pasramat clutched his gut, let out a final cry, and vomited the most foul, contaminated fluids known to time. All present died soon after of vast infections, and their corpses fell to liquid rot soon after. The upper palaces were sealed off, filed with the cries and pleadings of the servants as they too become naught but stinking, contaminated sludge. Overzealous looters or curious guardsmen soon coaxed the poisons out before their timely deaths, and entire wards of the city-state ran red. 
        Huge, crude plague-walls of reserve stone and river-clay came up to seal away safer wards and neighborhoods—but to little avail. The wise fled downwards and upwards, to highest towers and lowest sub-basements; the foolish remained in the open, or even dove over the walls into the river, soon to be dissolved.

Now Denstyx faces no ruler, a water shortage, a chaotic population, and a plague washing through each and every crumbling corner of the labyrinthine Fortress—and no one can get out. 

Denstyxi Liquid Plague

Infection DC- 20 (Inhalation), 35 (Liquid Contact)
Incubation - 1-2 Days
Damage - 2D6 Str damage (Save v. Poison twice), or Death 

If both rolls v. Poison are failed, then the character infected will quickly liquify from the inside out, expelling liquid from all orifices in a pool about ten feet in diameter.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Tidewaters - Naming Conventions

Small detailing, but possibly very important.

Humans - Has a forename and a surname, sometimes a middle name to distinguish two of the name-named people. Reliance on either Earth-sounding names, or a mash of phonetic pleasantry and wordplay. Puns are acceptable.

(Ex. - Als Soisante,  Taxer Riddling, Cal Trop, Jemar Stanstets, Bron Tideater, Lazarus Laudislav.)

Bilgeborn - Has either a single name with an epithet or title, or just an epithet. Epithets are usually nouns or adjectives, very simple.

(Ex. - Salt, Proper, Omar, Osli, Lisper, Drummer, Sweetling, Kicker, Howler.)

Slinks - Actual names are presented in personalized tattoos and body-scents for explicit tale-telling, but verbal titles are in contrast very vague and impersonal, not always in the first person, and hint at larger implications.

(Ex. - One Who Told Lies, She Sleeps Free And Calm, Has Long Made Peace, Has Long Made War.)

Crewpeople - Do not have proper names, but instead transliterate the number-codes on their utility suits into combinations of letters that make phonetic sense. Three sets of four are the norm, but  phonetic clarity is preferred. None know what the Eight High Navigators are called individually.

(Ex. - Ghyd-Ilhi-Geht, Rast-Els-Telt, Mas-Vant-Ilsi, Goht-In-Elst, Tas-Reem-Chau.)

Mushrooms - Refer to themselves and each other as 'I', exclusively.

Snails - Take after human naming-conventions, but sometimes have pet names when in service. Usually musically-related.

(Ex. - Calliope, Oboe, Sinatra, Nightingale, Opera, Strum.)

Dreams and Dream-Layers

Now, the world can be divided into four separate 'layers' stacked upon one another in successive coherence and discretion of detail. This is a most convenient fiction, as the actual metaphysical structure of these 'layers' are couched in terms of older psychology, and thus take their shape as is easiest to describe. In reality they are enmeshed, with inconsistent borders, feeding into and out of one another.

The Zeroth Layer, the Conscious, the 'Real World' the space where all waking beings reside is topmost, filled with all the known universe. It is a layer of sensory perception filtered through mechanisms of rationality by brains, a layer of distinct wavelengths, atoms, pressures, materials, and elements that obey four basic constants—in short, it is very constructed and ordered by the observations of its inhabitants. In a way this is both its greatest gift and limitation: assumption and law have events far less mutable, with abnormalities reasoned away or too minuscule or obscure to make much impact on a large-scale.  But likewise this keeps it largely intact.

The First Layer, the Personal Subconscious, the 'Shallow Dream', the trillions of individual subconsciousnesses that are formed by just as many brains, all clustered together as grains of sand. The First is a kind of warped reflection of the Zeroth, holding the minds as the latter holds the brains: each metaphorical grain of sand is all the perceptions, impressions, reactions, mid-level data, and subtle computing made law in its own small space. In sleep, the conscious mind reduces itself and allows for a more direct connection with subconscious thought—this connection between the physical and metaphysical results in dreams.
Each subconscious in the First Layer is very private, near-impermeable if not for how they tend to bottom-out and leak into the Second Layer or make themselves subject through physical manifestations in art and thought and behavior.

The Second Layer, the Collective Subconscious, the 'Deep Dream', is simultaneously that amassed pool of leakage from the First, and its own kind of template by which the shape of the First is taken. Within it are primordial swathes of common-knowledge, patterns of habit and law that can be observed in all beings—communication techniques, emotional reactions, fears and counter-fears, needs and compulsions, the base stuff of the mind—with stains of the nuanced individual minds from above. These large patterns allow it to be more navigable than the First Layer, and even the Zeroth, for it informs both while being informed.

The Third Layer, the Template Subconscious, the 'Waste Land', is a mysterious, somewhat-theoretical Layer. Going by the model of the above two Layers, each progressing towards primordial form, the Third thus must inform the Second by being the template on which patterns of all minds can form; that is, it must be the most base of all, with a blank structure that allows for the above Layers to be constructed atop it. This makes it most dangerous, for to imprint a structure or pattern upon it would be to utterly alter the structures of other Layers.

Subsequent Layers either do not exist, or are so base and simple as to not allow definition beyond their existence allowing the existence of all above.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Tidewaters - Mushrooms and Snails

"...Small beings, hangers-on of a temporary type. Genetic dead-ends, small populations unable to hold their numbers, species lost and without advantageous situations. They are the limited, the dying species, the lost individuals from places we know not. At times it seems depressing, as if there were no real rooted places or peoples in the known world..."
—Prof. Triadesches Ballett

Mushrooms, taciturn fungus minds who came to be in the pumps and hydroponics of the Ship. They are new and young and not very outgoing as a species, tending mostly to their growths and crops, muttering when they speak if at all. They have a rather eminent concept of self, and think all other Mushrooms are themselves—more specifically, each believe they are all they encounter, and observe all others as reflections of themselves. This leads to very difficult diplomacy, as conversations go tremendously one-sided after a Mushroom starts picking up on a speaker's phrases and ideas.

As such, not much is known about Mushrooms, aside from their agricultural tendencies and extremely forceful punches and backhands, which seem to be derived from the only source of bone in their bodies. They are small, only three feet tall at the most, and seem to need only moisture for survival, rejecting all given food for anything other than fuel for their projects of fungus. Some have begun to associate them with the embodiment of resilient life aboard the Ship, walking representations of the possibility of survival in a place that is often hostile—others, merely mushrooms.

If they have culture, it is either purely internal, or somehow incomprehensible to other species, beyond the arabesque patterns of their food crops.

Brought aboard by a long-ago group of wealthy treasure-seekers, this sapient species of snail was found almost immediately in a servile role to their 'saviors', used as mobile drink tables and sources of light conversation. For the generations onward, sheer physical limitation has kept the Snails as such, with only their clear, charming voices being of much use in contest.

For the singing of a Snail is addictive, derived from the humming inside of their shells, reminiscent of unheard winds through rusted keyholes in tones that go above and below listening spectrum. It is a gift that demands ever more song until the Snail itself cannot hear anymore, and then still more. It is said this is lethal to all Bilgeborn, and will drive the latter to melancholy and madness if heard for too long. Affluent humans, however, continue to listen as they will.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

People Have Most Strange Results

Hacked Ubik

Phillip K Dick has a most inventive mind—so, it is only right that a shameless reduction to mere mechanical movements of his works is warranted. If this plays, then so be it; if it does not, so be it.

Upon the economic and societal collapses of 20XX—to be specific, a most desperate need for resources brought on by booming technological complexity and population—the human psyche-space effectively lost its already tenuous grip. From the instability emerged coherent corporations cognizant on their mission of keeping the structures of culture in place, putting a discrete price on literally everything and thus keeping everything manageable. Life and death themselves came to be measured in currency, as the advent of 'coldpacking' corpses and stimulating their grey matter could sustain a mind coherently for up to a decade.

Of course, this is true for mostly industrial states—much of the world has fallen back to city-state and tribal- or clan-based ways of governance, mixing heavily advanced tech with a nomadic lifestyle through the ruins of culture since abandoned. They return to older, reviled methods of communism, capitalism, shamanism, ancestor-worship, and democratic elections without even a second thought towards machine-dominance.

So too, the Moon and Martian territories annexed during a more affluent age of space-travel are rough frontiers poisoned by ultraviolet rays and decaying nuclear power stations.

The collapse had more effect than on just the physical: for upon its spiral outward and downward, the human brain took to growing strange through its neurons and structures. It grew to learn to calculate what might happen, to see intentions of other brains, to manipulate the little chemicals that make up emotion, to throw coups upon dominant consciousness, to dive into the psyche and draw out its most terrible nightmares and blissful fantasies.

And thus the psychic population emerged at random, from debt-ridden addicts to business magnates alike, encroaching with a subtle influence upon the majority.

But as one forms to feed, the other reacts in turn: psychic 'nulls' as well formed from select couples—possibly tests, possibly natural—to distract and override those powers that might override the common populace in turn. So began a conflict of use through psychics, to steal and manipulate and counter-manipulate as suited those who could pay. 'Influence' groups and 'Prohibition' groups, mirrored counterparts, made mercenary by way of constant debt and power-grabs.

1D6 for HP
1D10 for Str, Dex, Int, Wis, Nrv, Cha
1D4 for Resist v. Charm, v. Fear, v. Poison

Psychic Type Primary Power Secondary Power Result Nullified By
Telepath Communicate mentally and silently with two others. Read the immediate thoughts of one other. Headaches and bloodshot eyes. (-2 Int) Antipath
Precog Predict three possible results from a choice. Anticipate an action in the immediate future. Confusion of movement and the moment. (-2 Dex) Ticktockman
Empath Invoke terror in two others. Alter the emotional state of one other. Lack of emotion of reaction. (-2 Cha) Stoic
Kicker Take control of one other directly. Force one other to follow your  thoughts. Loss of higher mental functions. (-2 Wis) Shackle
Jumper Avoid a lethal result by placing another in that place. Switch places with one other. Wracking muscle pains, bruising. (-2 Str) Blackbox


Credit/Spending - Befitting a culture where everything costs, one simply cannot have the ability to freely move about without considering knowing the value of what they do. Most people operate on credit, and pay when able.
XP and credit are the same, and at the end of every game a player can expend it to pay off their debts.
Minor Costs (Doors, restrooms, calls, snacks, lights)
Small Costs (Tools, bribes, food, information, alcohol, clothes)
Major Costs (Rooms, cold packing fee, tickets, sex, weapons)
Significant Costs (Vehicles, flight, poison, real food, tech)
Dramatic Costs (Psychic or Null hiring, space travel, property)

Psychic Use - Same rules as Magic-Users—start with being able to prepare three powers. Use takes one round. Detrimental results of using powers last about three rounds.

Death - Not always permanent. If possible, a body can be coldpacked at a cost of 700 XP/credits per session, and be consulted as if alive, though without any abilities. Players can pool payment.

Weapons - Most weapons are small and easily hidden, like brass knuckles or stun-spray, and do 1D4 damage. If found or purchased, firearms do exploding damage with 1D6.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Tidewaters - Crewpeople

"...Had I—or the scientific community at large—been able to acquire more than a cursory and outward set of observations upon our eponymous crew, then might some of the oldest barriers have been circumvented in understanding between the passengers and their servitors. They are mysterious beasts, of huge stature and quiet nature, carnivorous, industrious, and seldom ceasing. I have a friend in one of them, who sometimes tells of how quickly I grow old and withered..."
—Prof. Triadesches Ballett

An intrinsic part of the architecture of the Ship, a constant presence that holds together the inner workingsliterally and figuratively—the Crewpeople are the semi-mechanical population of mindful laborers who were supposedly built or bred for the task. They are said to have roots and memories that reach back to the original launching of the Ship, and know the specifics of what the Captain looks like and is sailing for; if this is true, then none yet have divulged or hinted such secrets. All the populace can claim to have met or worked with a Crewperson, while only a select few can say they have gotten to know one on more than name-basis. Omission of information is their schtick, and the main way they manage to be so unknown, alongside laws against experimentation.

Of old and established personage, with a population just barely reaching one-hundred, the Crewpeople can spend days in routine or regular behavior, seemingly entranced by the mindless action they are required for, and never speak to another being. Nonetheless, when speaking they very much like singular and face-to-face interactions, and can seemingly find solidarity with those who are productive with them. They cannot speak well, cannot hear through heavy helmets, pick up only on the extremes of emotion if not attentive, and seem to have some compelling sense towards being commanded from the Eight High Navigators, or generally anyone in power.
The first jaw inside a Crewperson's helmet.

They are large beings, on average six-and-a-half feet, and very heavy from a mixture of muscle and metal. Bipedal, with odd proportions that have the arms and legs too long, giving them a slinging, rocking gait. Never seen out of their suits, their only claim to biology is behind the portholes in their helmets, which swing out to reveal several sets of fleshy jaws and skinny teeth, each set behind one other. Otherwise, they seem to have no sexual characteristics or inclination to expand their numbers save for when crisis strikes.

Crewperson Factors
- (+1 Mind) or (+1 Motion)
- (+2 Body) or (Skill: Bull Rush)
- (-3 Face) or (-2 v. Charm)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


People do dangerous things. Here are some dangerous things below, as per some kind of list that might tell of how these dangerous things could be used in Tidewaters. Hack all you like.

Do note I do not advocate drug usage outside of fictional situations—the stuff kills.

Narcotics - Benefits, Symptoms, Damages, Addiction
Ywllo Wallpaper Thin strips of dried yellowish fungus. +2 Mind check / 5 rounds Causes paranoid babbling.  -3 Face check / 5 rounds Low. Tolerance can be built over four sessions.
Grin Grass Short, scrubby type of lichen in various shades of purple. +2 Face / 2 rounds Causes a rictus grin when chewed. -1 EP / 3 rounds Low. Tolerance can be built over five sessions.
Anxiety Kicker Extract from a beetle, alternating between clear and crimson +3 Nerves check / session Soothes nerves and slackens reaction. - 3 Motion check / session High. Causes atrophy over time.
Opium Extract from poppy plants; thick milky drip. +2 EP / 3 rounds Reduces pain perception. -2 Body check / 10 rounds High. Requires biweekly taste to hold off withdrawal.
Iocic Toxin Military-grade toxin; colourless, odorless, tastes like pain. +2 Motion check / 5 rounds Tenses all muscles, opens veins for blood. -2 EP / 2 rounds High. Will kill user if done more than twice per session.
Hashish Dried hemp leaves, sometimes coloured and scented. +1 Face check / session Calms the mind down, for a bit. -1 Mind check / session Low. Will impair user’s sense of time.
Steady Headstuff Dried and spiced grey matter from a high-sapient being. +5 Mind check / 2 rounds Amplifies brain with another’s thoughts. -3 Motion check / session Immediate. Requires weekly snuff to hold off withdrawal.

Roll v. Poison every time of use to determine if the user is addicted.

Withdrawal Symptoms
Missed one dose - Listed damage result.
Missed two doses - Listed damage result, -1 Mind check from distraction
Missed three doses - Listed damage result, -2 Mind, -2 Body from distraction and pain
Missed four doses - Listed damage result, -3 Mind, -2 Body from agony

Missed subsequent doses - Listed damage result, penalties to Mind and Body checks decreasing by 1 until the eighth missed dose, where the user is considered to have flushed out their systems.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tidewaters - Slinks

"...As far as examination may prove, the commonly termed 'Slinks'—properly Felinxia—are of a genetic lineage that should impress far more than it does: namely, they brought themselves back from the dead. Or more exactly near-extinction, with an approximate population of only seven individuals who had scarce resources and old age working against them. Even so they attained sapience, attained life and minds and art—all with vestigial thumbs and a dead homeland..."
—Prof. Triadesches Ballett

A major minority, found in the smaller crevices and tangled sections of the Ship, are the catlike Slinks. They thrive in the subspaces beneath major constructions and cultures, quiet observers and actors of the tumult that is culture. Some are put off by their perpetually-surly expressions or non-indicative personalities, or strange interpersonal relations and ancestor-worship—and they don't care, for the most part. For they are not bothered by the influences of others.

Being much closer to their genetic compatriots and of a small population has given Slinks the opportunity to do away with extraneous social niceties, to change to at two points simpler and more complex habits. Communication of oneself is done through personal scent, from oils and spices—honey, and cinnamon, and juniper—to convey a whole self and set of expected actions without wasting breath or time; while intricate and meaningful tattoos are done and modified to convey wealth and social status, interests, past and future. They carry their entire selves with them, and present it with every step, every twitch of the ears.
The eponymous Nicholas Krupkin
(Real name unknown)

Slinks are not large beings: on the average about three to four feet tall, the tallest and longest being halfway to five at most. Like most mammals they are warm-blooded and care for their natal offspring—unlike most, they lack any hair beyond a colourless fuzz that does next to nothing for warmth. Their stature can shift from bipedal to quadrupedal, and their lengthy tails allow for very strange balance. Their voices are not very developed, and spoken language is difficult—written or finger-language, on the other hand, is near second-nature. Against all stereotype, they do not mind water but for its coldness. Weak, but dextrous and almost twitchy, reliant on their sense of smell.

Slink Factors
- (+2 Motion) or (Skill: Climb)
- (Skill: Decipher Symbol) or (+2 Luck)
- (-2 Body) or (-1 v. Poison)

Art by Zarnala.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Tidewaters - Humans and Bilgeborn

"...The genetic divide that differentiates the two most populous species aboard is a subjective and tenuous one, as both incorporate elements from each other, but for this case the definition shall be drawn at major body parts—limbs, organs, and such—incorporating non-mammalian life, rather than minor mutations or abnormalities; for what is the norm in our current circumstance..."
—Prof. Triadesches Ballett
Popular cabaret singer, Als Soisant
For long as recorded history goes, humanity has been a sight in the decks and waves, fluxuous with their names and colours and cultures with every passing generation in reaction to themselves and each other. They have spirit and energy and a sense of self unmatched by most any other things of mind—which seems to result in very short lifespans and a tendency to get bored even with an inbuilt habit of habit.

They are social creatures, clinging in little groups, reflecting and adapting off one another for collective and individual empowerment. But with this need to interact comes conflict and quarrel, competition and a need to prove themselves in some way. Groups seek to distance themselves—almost contradictorily—while remaining in close contact with others. They are complicated, and usually difficult.

Most humans are bilaterally symmetrical: a pair each of eyes, nostrils, brain-lobes, ears, lungs, limbs, and the like. Within the flesh is sun-resistant melanin, in various amounts—and, due to the constant sun, those of a lighter complexion are covered in freckles and birthmarks. Body hair is most commonly dark for those born aboard, but can be stained more dramatic. Their blood contains iron and their stomachs contain acid, every system is designed to resist damage or poisons, and they rely heavily on sight and light. Strangely, they can breed with much higher ease than any other species known, and know each other in terms of lineage and family.

Human Factors
- (+2 v. Poison) or (+1 v. Charm)
- (+2 Face) or (Skill: Coerce)
- (-1 v. Curse) or (-2 Body)

The counterparts to humanity as well come from the depths as infants, but by far more marked by some unknown influence, ears always resounding and hearts always in time with the waves. Blood runs cooler with them, but their connections and decisions are even more passionate, even single-minded at times when let run too long. So too, the song of the ocean will eventually either be broken or draw them into melancholy and erratic behavior as their human elements fade and dissolute to a collection of sea creatures at the end of their long lives.

Mr(s). Bloom
In some ways they are antithetical to the form of the Ship: they are natural, overgrown and only standardized by a common name and a bipedal shape. Their mutations are of a symbiotic or adaptive type: regenerating them even with their frailty, granting new senses or perceptions, armour or organs or chemicals unknown and unexpected. They are organic beings with conception of a self only in terms of how it can grow, how it eats and sleeps and swims in relation to its surroundings. However, human influence comes to them in the use of individual titles or names, the scribing of their deeds, the creation of monolithic art and shaping of their softer parts.

While they are bipeds, of flesh and blood and muscle, their incorporation of sea life can be extreme to the point of not even resembling humanity. Their skin pigments are often of metals or minerals, in uncommon shades of pallor-like blue or green, grey or purple where flesh is present. Almost none have hair, and those that do have it stringy and easily-broken, sun- and salt-bleached to almost translucent. Their skeletons can be flexible and cartilaginous, or overgrown in a lattice that sprouts from the skin, their organs built for high pressure or low nutrition. They have a high reliance on the sense of hearing.

Bilgeborn Factors
- (+1 EP) or (+2 Mind)
- (Skill: Deep Swimming) or (+2 v. Curse)
- (-2 Motion) or (-1 Face)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Rush of Enthusiasm

That night had I stood at the foot of my bed and stared deep at the rumples and creases in the blanket. It was not my blanket, nor was it my bed: the entire room had been gutted and refinished by my landlord during my stay in with the professors and their little retinues. There was no indent of my body weight, no smell of soap or prints of dirty feet—truly sterile of any human presence.
So I left the room, and went downstairs to sit by the communal typewriter, to look at the upright metal keys with their little embossed letters and see how they all fit together. There was a sheet in the slide, covered with a half-finished paragraph of some sort that I didn’t look at too much. 
I pressed a key, and the corresponding letter snapped onto the paper, continuous of the paragraph. But now the word I had subjected to curiosity was illegible, a smear of ink that made no sense. Another key layered upon that, and the mess began to slowly run downwards. I watched it spread and blot and blur, and tried to wipe it away but only stained my thumb.
There was no other paper in sight. The landlord had gone somewhere else; possibly out on the deck, possibly looking over yesterday's salvage or pawing through the photographs they kept collecting. So I slowly eased the paper out of the slide, flipped it around, set the clean side facing me. 
From the table-lamp I could see that there was still a blot. Very noticeable. But it was further down on the page, below where most people’s eyes normally were. 

I pressed a key, and the respective letter made some sense. It was a 'b'. For Benoit, I thought. Or for Bereniche. Both were equally worthy of the honor of being immortalized in cephalopod ink and re-dried paper.
        I pressed another key. This time an 'i'. Like I, who am narrating. As the professors taught me, to address the audience is to understand them, to take their opinion into account and bring them into whatever discussion a text may suggest or bring to the fore. It would never be so easy as that: there were so few who bothered to listen to my dissertation in its draft, and only a little more who stood around during the lecture itself when my opposing side fell asleep at their lectern like a foolish debater. 
        Only I could say I stood up waiting and working and being productive. Even when the fog came roiling over the rails and through the windows across my feet. And even when I took it upon myself to better myself by swimming out all those years ago to the island to make my arms stronger.
        And Bereniche and Benoit swam after me, yelling I was too weak and too sick to even try. So I proved to them, even when they went quiet and slept as the saltwater lapped over their heads, that I could stay up waiting for them to return and for us to swim back home as friends.
        But then the Ship came along. It only took me aboard, for some reason, told me that my brain was good and my body was bad. I had asked why Benoit and Bereniche were getting fucked over, left behind, but got only sad looks as they brought me to the professors and their little retinues for the first time. So that night I had stood at the foot of my bed and thought to write this down.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Tidewaters - What Was Pulled In

Jetsam From Today's Salvage

-A bundle of carved jade teeth, corroded with salt.
-Ten cans of pickled peppers with a ragged label titled 'Pipers'.
-A flintlock rifle, missing the flint, covered in tally-marks that seem to resemble letters.
-Petrified corpse of a human, with gold coins secreted in the skull cavity.
-A phial of clear liquid that smells very foul, and induces vomiting when consumed.
-Documents, useless, about some obscure land trade in a distant empire founded on marble-quarries.
-A child, human, female, who can neither speak or properly articulate why she ended up in the ocean.
-Knucklebones, carved into rough dice.
-Large rubber tires, filled with air still.
-A soaked suitcase full of well-preserved formalwear, in silk and embroidery.
-Textbooks on rational numbers, how to calculate them with regard to variables.
-Sticks of coloured chalk.
-A fine cotton trenchcoat filled with little bronze knives and darts.
-Intact windowpane, coloured pale red.
-A steel longsword, pitted with rust but ornately crafted.
-Bilgewitch named Proper, long though to be dead, who claims only a few minutes have passed.
-Avtomat Kalashnikov rifle, year 1974 (?), with eleven brass-case bullets.
-Silicon-based lifeform, reminiscent of a large crab. Irritable and unable to communicate.
-Pneumatic rivet gun, with Crewperson markings.
-Message in a bottle, written in Arabic:  ملوك المد يراقبوننا لا يغفر لهم.
-Solid elemental mercury. Very cold.
-Preserved fingers, of varied species.
-Brass camera obscura and twin rolls of developing-paper.
-Boiled leather cuirass, branded with a sigil of eyes-upon-a-tree.
-Steel I-beams in very good condition.
-A personal dinghy sans oars.

Rumours Heard Aboard
-Recently there have been fields of jellyfish drifting past, leading to several salvager deaths.
-A surgeon by the name of Phrax obtained a Crewperson corpse and dissected it. The notes are somewhere, but the good doctor has gone into hiding to avoid the Crewpeople's mounting wrath.
-A good crop of engineers and laborers are being hired for additions onto the Ship's siding for a larger population.
-Popular cabaret singer, Als Soisant, is currently going through threats from some unknown aggressor, who is being a douche.
-Mushrooms are of a singular mind, which explains why they mostly talk to themselves.
-Ten days from now, the sun will go dark. Some have gathered as much combustible material as possible and camped out near the furnaces already.
-The bilge is limited, and will eventually run dry if too many children are taken out of it.
-A rival house of powerful linage is arising over the generations to contest the House of Ushe. They carry abilities of dust and silence, and go by the surname of Colcis.
-Illegal spice can be bought by the handful from a Bilgewitch with tentacles for facial hair.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

On Being Cursed and The Falsely Dead

Most functioning beings are of the mortal coil, and process energy in an attempt to power their bodily cells to preserve that which is called life. Likewise, all nonfunctioning beings have fled that coil, are inert and beget no flow of energy. When these two states are jammed together, a 'curse' is begotten: a persuasion that forces inertia upon something energetic, removes that flow that defines life.

By being fluxuous between the dichotomy of life and death, antithetical to both, a curse is thus nearly the most reprehensible force to be found anywhere.

Those afflicted by said would agree, for they are condemned to an existence of limited, weakened life. And upon their deaths, their bodies retain that imbalance, and continue to function as nearly-mindless false-dead—no matter how many times they are killed afterwards by normal means. Strangely enough, the only proper way to dispose of false-dead is by the efforts of a cursed individual, however weak the latter are—possibly due to their shared imbalances.

Due to its function, a curse requires energy in proportion to that which it takes away, and a place for that energy to go: such as the caster or source of the curse. Curses can be revoked by returning enough energy into a person.

Technical function of a curse
-Halves one's useable Endurance Points.
-Removes a third of one's stat points for every stat.
-Has the character reform as a false-dead of equal level upon death.
-Provides a +3 attack bonus against false-dead.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Tidewaters - Possible Systems

Stats and stat blocks for your characters, with minimal explanation.

Endurance Points - The ability to avoid damage. Regenerates at a rate of 1 EP per turn of rest.
Wounds - What damage one can take before death.

Face - Social salience, deftness, showmanship, manipulation, propriety, communication.
Nerves - Composure under stress.
Motion - Movements and control of movements, reflexes, reacting, making things.
Body - The use of one's body to an end, carrying, attacking, brute strength or endurance.
Mind - The use of one's mind to an end, remembering details, figuring puzzles, explaining details.
Luck - The manipulation and play on chance.

Attacking - Weapon value and body modifier adds together.

Armour - Comes in two varieties that add to EP while penalizing Motion rolls.
Light - (+3 EP / -2 Motion)
Heavy - (+5 EP / -3 Motion)

v. Charm - Resisting being compelled. Mind modifier adds to.
v. Poison - Resisting slow toxins and infection. Body modifier adds to.
v. Curse - Resisting debilitating sorceries or oddments. Nerves modifier adds to.

Traits - Modifiers of stats gotten at major events over time.
Skills - Tasks and specific talents of a character. Increases with payment of experience and money.

Gear - Equipment that one carries, usually functional. Degrades over time.
Clothing - Garments that inform on social status and personage.

Resolution mechanics
Task - There is a base value for the task, with a roll lower being failure and a roll higher being success. Circumstantial modifiers can take effect.
Chance - There is a value with different numbers corresponding to different results. The value of a successful Luck roll modifies the roll towards a positive result.
Reaction - Out of a value of ten, the involved individuals roll, with the roll closest to ten being the first reaction. A successful Motion roll adds to the result.

I may just go with Labyrinth Lord rules, if these don't work out.

Concept of garments and EP adapted wholesale from Gameswithothers.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Mechanic Standbys - Or Not

In working on the more technical, less fluff- or setting-based aspects of Tidewaters, I have come upon some issues with the resolution and stat mechanics. Namely, considerations on what system if any should be used, and how that would affect how the setting is played.

On one hand, the use of vanilla DnD systems are sound and commonplace, and allow for more universal understanding of what can and cannot be done. As well, it allows for me to make judicious and supposedly-clever decisions on how each species can play off one another—for example, how Crewpeople would have Strength and Intelligence bonuses, but a massive Charisma cut and awful saves for vs. Charm, to reflect their utilitarian status. In this case much of the work would be done already, and my job merely reskinning and adjusting terms and numbers to fit the setting.

However, a literary technique that I admire is that of 'the form reflecting the function', or in this case the calculative bits of a game being built to properly fit around what it is attempting to play out. Of course, this isn't to mean that a system should be built from the ground up every time for each and every new test-concept brought to the fore by some upstart little blogger with no established say; but I have the inclination to make Tidewaters more difficult, and slightly more independent.

One method of doing so would be through the creation system brought up in my initial post about the setting, which suggested a mash-together quality of subsystems: the replacement of hit points by regenerating endurance points and dramatically terrible wounds, the use of traits at creation and after major events to have a character's growth be more dynamic than a meteoric rise of stats-points, the  simplification of stats to use smaller numbers with each value being more valuable, and such. 

The intent would to be a game that has most everyone be in a precarious position when faced with the dangers of the world, but not overly-focused on combat.

But I don't know, honestly. Any suggestions from anyone who is reading?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tidewaters - Prominent Factions

Abord the Ship, as all groups of people tend to do, factions and people of import have arisen from the morass to distinction.

The Captain 
Classified as a faction all their own, the Captain is at once enigmatic and ever-present, supposedly watching from their quarters at all hours and taking in reports from the Navigators. The original commissioner of the Ship, and apparently the only being who knows its ultimate purpose and course, but never seen for as long as written record goes. At times releases public statements and injunctions—possibly recorded—and is considered the overarching say on most all issues.

If they are still alive, that is. Or real.

The Eight High Navigators
Close confidants and advisors-on-course for the Captain, Crewpeople of the highest order and great stature, well-tenured through the centuries they have been in service. Though not named and seldom seen, they often associate with hiring scriveners and number-men to aid in properly running the Ship's more technical functions, and seem to have a strong taste for the arts and sciences gathered from jetsam. They gild themselves in gold, copper, and embroidered satin over ancient machinery.

All Crewpeople answer to their demands, but other species may have a resistance.
Riddling at Twenty Years

Heads of Salvage And Refinement
Those who have taken the difficult and precise work of salvage, or the refinement and modification industries afterwards, and made something of themselves within it. Although need is constant, only three have held any lasting and major grip upon what services can be provided in the past half-century.

Taxer Riddling, bilgeborn manipulator and cardsharp in his younger days, came to power through a
series of clever and intuitive unions that brought the more capable salvagers together and allowed him to skim off their collective profits while keeping their inter-competition low. As this model worked only when the salvagers in question did not attempt to one-up each other, Riddling has a long history of firing swathes of salvagers to keep pay equal—and increasingly lower, to note. Has hired some rather expensive doctors as of late, for unknown purposes.

Alexi 'Penny' Drye, former coppersmith in the bowels of the boiler rooms, is the former heir transparent to a small clan of human-brinechild investors of old, supposedly bought to ruin by House Ushe and a series of poor investments long ago. However, with titles came prestige and better connections with the trading world, and as such the small-time smith came to be the face for refinement operations. A clade of viziers and advisors surrounds the man.

Millis Alkal, former salvager herself for twenty years, brought some fortune upon herself with a recovered cache of star-chart paintings and unstable colour-shifting compounds on an expedition into an adrift mansion of flotsam. With it she subsequently began to lease out capable individuals who were willing to made headway into large, dangerous flotsam in exchange for riches, and eventually retired to a more administrative position in her company. Said to know exactly where to hit to dislocate a jawbone.

The Trade Collective
In the bureaucracy of trade and exchange, the highest ranks are separated triparte-by-triparte by their investments, holdings, and economic profit to minimize competition and confusion. This has not stopped said competition, however, as each group attempts to keep ground against one another by a very tense series of alliances and betrayals—as it has been since the Collective was first instituted.
Sir Far Heit

Sir Threadwind, is the eminent holder of rarity items and luxuries in Tanglefront, and likes to express that wealth through ever-more-complex body tattoos in strange inks, and expensive clothes.
Sir Sellador, who dabbles heavily in the medicinal sciences, has a good sense for where and when narcotics are being made and sold. This has helped temperance movements, low-supplied doctors, and his own personal stash.
Miss Ocitet Occitan, herbalist and speculator on what new growths are needed in the bow-hydroponics, has a rather specific venture that nonetheless is appreciated by all those who like to eat more than seafood and tinned salvage.
Sir Salt, a wicked little man who has few friends from his unheeded and constant tax-hackling. This does not bother him, as his shabby appearance and frugal lifestyle need no companionship.
Miss Rushing Stride, true to her name, has made strides in the administrative side of common-stock inventory and how to make it available to all, according to the half-remembered laws of her Rushing motherlands.
Miss Innocent, is a most clever propagandist, never making profit directly off trade, but by how her advertisements and advice allow other small traders to make generous donations. As of late this has been mainly from the taciturn Crewpeople deep in the boilers, who are making quite a lot of new equipment.
Miss Limper, who has a most uncanny ability to make sudden and tremendous fortunes—and subsequently lose them just as suddenly. Her latest foray into the business of intelligence and circulation of the patent-trade has brought much eminence, possibly not to last.
Sir Far Heit, of a lost nobility from a long-forgotted planetscape burned by war, came to the Ship disoriented and with several great secrets from the mercurial depths themselves. Subsequently he doles out these secrets in serial form, supported by a set of scriveners and small-traders who would seek to have these secrets in their shop windows.
Sir Hangman, who is said to have come to the title at age ten, is said to have been rendered tremendously paranoid by the experience, and employs multiple seeing-eyes and census-men to report on conditions of the Ship. Some say he reports to the Captain, as both are never seen.

The House of Ushe
A long and well-established family of humans, claiming to be descended from some of the first to come aboard as passengers, with silver spoons in their mouths and sparks at their fingertips. True to form, even in the modern day, members of the lineage have uncanny abilities or strange knowledge that paints them as odd and out-of-touch. To combat allegations of wretched incest and inbreeding, several generations ago they took to integrating heirs and young hopefuls from other families that had come to ruin, which somewhat warped the aforesaid powers into abilities of the sky, of light and air and fire and sparks.

Cults Artifice and Synthesis
Small, subtle little groupings originally formed by the Crewpeople in their places of gathering that have since spread into a sort of religion in the boiler- and furnace-rooms, focused on the integrity of the Crewperson's suit and their bodily functions. Adherents to Artifice imitate the Eight High Navigators and make small gildings and modifications to their suits, purge poisons from their bodies, and stand in the sun with their portholes swung out for sake of fresh air. Adherents to Synthesis study one another and themselves, to improve and find methods of remaking what a Crewperson's purpose is, and how the form reflects that purpose. This is a reserved knowledge.

So far, the Navigators have not objected to these cults, and some physicians and philosophers have joined to speak their minds.