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.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Tidewaters - Equipment

Upon the Ship, there are always equipment to be gotten from salvage, trade, or the small industries and artisans in the furnaces and Tanglefront. Given that populations are quite small, barter is commonplace with small goods, but the Captain has long since put in place a representative currency of credits for those who cannot carry their goods with them, or have items of divisible or vast wealth such as property.

Distinct and purposeful weaponry and armor are generally far more expensive due to a lack of materials, and quite a few simply improvise or modify existing tools for their own benefit.

Light Piecemeal leather-and-cloth; Oilskin overcoat; Wicker armour 

Boiled leather chestpiece; Sealed Utility suit 
HeavyChain-mail hauberk; Mirror-armor; Standard diving gear

Crew Utility suit; High Navigator suit; Plate-mail; Ballistic armour 

Melee Weapons
OnehandedBrass knuckles; Sap; Dagger; Hang-hook
Short BladeDiving knife; Cleaver; Hatchet; Spade; Seax
Long BladeSabre; Bastard sword; Estoc
BluntTruncheon; Piping Wrench; Sledge; Mace
TwohandedWar pick; Short spear; Pole-spear; Halberd

Ranged Weapons
ThrownLight jarids; Sling-and-bolts; Darts; Caltrops
MechanicalFolding crossbow; Siege crossbow; Harpoon gun

For those small jobs to be found aboard the Ship, not adventurous but necessary, a standard set of tools and equipment can be found, from hull-repairs and spreading compost to scrivening and entertainment. So too the populace requires day-to-day gear. The traders' collectives attempt to keep base costs as stable as possible, by way of deals made with the more prominent salvagers and manufacturers, and a constantly-updated common stock in storage. This has not stopped individual artisans from offering specialized goods, such as soap or ink, for competing prices.

Common Gear
Oil lantern Knotted rope Spikes Bound notebook
Fishhook and line Firesteel or Lighter Needle and thread Tin container (Pint)
Prybar Netting Pulley-hook Tin tankard
Sawing-knife Spanner Lockbox Slicing-knife
Spade Powderbox Thick gloves Handcloth
Water pouch Copper flask Roll of paper Mortar and pestle
Storage pouch Linen strips Steel chain Smelling-salts
Stick of chalk Stick of wax Hand mirror Alkali soap
Brass spyglass Stylus / Pen Lead weight Salt crystals

As well, rare trade goods and luxuries that cannot be manufactured have fluxuous prices dependent on quantity and temperament of the traders' collectives. Information on the sciences, arts, histories, architecture, philosophy, and navigation are prized by the Eight High Navigators and their respective retinues, who will personally pay great sums for intact copies of a decent quantity.

Luxuries and Rarities
Dried tobacco leaves Fresh opiates Compressed brain ashes
Silk facecloth Ultraviolet crystal Porcelain mask
Tarnished silver diadem Pearl-set-in-emerald corsage Ceremonial orichalcum sabre
Navigation charts of an unknown sea Illuminated text of epic poetry Anatomic diagram of a Crewperson
Treatise of Platonic Form and Ideal Astrological timepiece Gold-flake infused calligraphy ink
Theories of emotion-manipulation Classification of sapient minds Fractal-pattern tracings
Below would be some general suggestions as to what any given individual on the Ship might be carrying.

Possible Species, Jobs, Equipment Sets
Tool Merchant
Wicker backpack, ceramic shiv (dagger), book of purchases and credit, list of inventory, tallow candles, box of potassium matches, ink-pen.
Portable chemistry outlet (Alembic, retort, phials, calcinator, stand, mortar et pestle, etc), padded pack, steel seax, 
Netting (9x9’), catch-pole, wide-brimmed hat, oilskin overcoat (light), oil-lantern, sawing-knife, days’ rations (dried lichen squares), bronze hatchet. 
Wicker shield, three pouches, two hang-hooks, large canvas sack, days’ rations (roasted tubers), 10’ length of knotted rope, wide-brimmed hat.
Boiler Mantainer
Crewperson utility suit (heavy), rusted piping wrench, canvas bag, minor replacement piping and bolts, sealant gun, days’ rations (tinned beef).
Hand saw, surgeon’s bag (needles, sutures, cotton thread, cleansing ethanol, scalpel, forceps, etc), linen bandages, truncheon, ten cigarettes.
Bronze estoc, steel chain-mail hauberk (heavy), steel pot helmet, glass eyepiece, corsage of service, flask (brandy), caffeine pills.
Pole-spear, 50’ of woven rope, wicker hip-basket, days’ rations (bitter crab meat), woolen blanket, luminous seaweed bundle, spiked knuckles.
Glass eyepiece, rolls of paper and parchment, ink-stylus, ink-pot, stiletto, phial (stonefish venom), days’ rations (salt crackers). 
Rusted iron hammer, thick asbestos gloves, Crewperson utility suit (heavy), water jug, tinderbox (captive ember), tongs, arc cutter.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Tidewaters - Flotsam and Jetsam

Across the ocean that spans all of eternity, that from which all things come and all things go, the roiling span with no base and no continents to interrupt it, there are certain small things drifting that may come into passing with the Ship. These are typically called flotsam and jetsam, variously; sometimes good, sometimes useful, often dangerous, and always of interest to those who come into contact with it. Generally it happens to be little more than the average daily debris for scavenger teams to drag back for useful components, relics of other times and places, or even disoriented and dehydrated survivors of various species.

Those that believe the Ship is the only defined space in all reality claim that flotsam and jetsam take shape and form when approached, modeling themselves off the forms of what is true and separating from the utter unknowable chaos that is the ocean. This may be justified, in that everything seems to keep a theme of being worn down in some way, eaten away by the natural world if such a thing could be said to exist. Beings recovered or encountered seem to have their own internal coherence, however, and other Ships themselves are encountered—dead and empty, granted, but just as if not more put-together than the eponymous Ship itself.

In definition, the two terms define separate classes of objects: Flotsam being larger and Jetsam being smaller.


Ships- Vessels ancient and enigmatic, aimlessly drifting and almost certainly abandoned. Otherwise extremely dangerous if of a functional military construction, or simply by being vast and uncharted. Typified by being very large, from three to six hundred meters in length, and having a tendency towards being made of steel. Seemed to originate as tankers, battleships, aircraft carriers, cargo ships, and large-scale designs, as if no personal vessels survived.

Constructions- Artificial designs that were not explicitly built for seaworthiness that seem to float despite that. Personal houses, temples, skyscrapers, planes, monuments, assembly lines, swathes of plastic and metal shaped into elaborate concentric circles, artificial islands, and the like. Sometimes inhabited by hardscrabble clusters of fishers and foragers, beings who do not know theirs is not the true center of reality.

Landmasses- Rootless and disconnected islands or bits of land that do not at all obey gravity. Bear a variety of biomes and buildings, which may overlap with construction-class Flotsam, and are much more likely to hold some kind of civilization. Entire city-archipelagos, mountains with holes in their sides, swamps growing on superlight hollow crystals, deserts of iron filaments, coastal roads that are entirely coast, and others can be found to exist. Slinks claim to have come from a place of river-deltas made entirely of the crumbled bones of their ancestors.

Environments- Atypical and notable shifts in the ocean's environment itself: when two violet suns emerge from the dawn horizon, when great undersea leviathans swim past in droves and leave vortexes in their wake, when there are leaks in the sea pulling everything down, and such. To their credit, the Crew have never let the Ship sink more than twice.


Cargo- Useful tools and devices either to support or maintain a vessel and its inhabitants, for some reason jettisoned away. Includes firearms, ammunition, metal sheeting, copper wire, intact provisions, clamps, alembics, medicines of any kind, floatation devices, navigation records or report logs, piping, ingots, genetic samples, seeds, surgical implements, and such.

Trove- Secret, usually minuscule or hidden stash of illicit objects. Narcotics, counterfeit money, experimental weaponry, stolen art or intellectual property, neurotoxins, photographs of the Captain, and such.

Salvage- Loose debris and ruins upon the waves. Building facades, rebar clusters, plating and decking, furniture, airplane wings, church bells, still-steaming isotope thermogenerators, personal dinghies, rotten foodstuff, hunting trophies, tea crates, bloated corpses, and such.

Beings- Any being lost upon the waves. If they live to be rescued, that is.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Tidewaters - The Ship


The Ship is the center and border of the established and provable world, a vast construction of rusted and corroded steel four hundred meters in length upon an utterly endless expanse of ocean. Drifting freely with the tides or under its own power, it heads toward an unknown destination with unknown purpose in a journey that never seems to properly find closure—at least, so the enigmatic Captain claims. And as the Captain wills, so the crew obeys, for else the Ship would become yet another piece of flotsam or jetsam without purpose.

The regular seascape
As the population is rather small, only a handful of hundreds to fifteen hundred at most, the Ship is reliant on its inhabitants be able in a scattering of skills to support the inbuilt crewmembers, whose numbers are even lower. Salvage from incoming flotsam, fishing, hydroponics and water retrieval, simple structural repairs, inventory management, and exploration of the bilge deck all are commonplace jobs, all to simply live to the next day; that is, if a sun appears in the first place. It is not an easy life, but it provides for the little civilization that flickers atop the waves, mostly alone.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


In an attempt to make some sense of my own purposes, here will be a short bit of content to sate some unknown need to be productive, even if it is only in pixels and bytes of data.


 This is your world

You have always been on the Ship; the Ship is life, and the ship holds back the eternal sea that laps at the edges of everything that drifts past. You, and many others like you, were pulled out of the salty bilge or from rotten shipping crates as babes—sometimes in twos or threes—by the crew who maintain the Ship as regular as clockwork, and brought up in little clades of humans or otherwise. Most everything is in the crowded storage decks, or in the labyrinthine maintenance tunnels, or the boiler and engine rooms deep below, or the navigation and captain's quarters high above. 

There are only a few of you at any given time, a few hundred at most including crew. So you are put to simple service: fishing, carrying, inventory, salvage, anything that needs help or support. Under the captain's ever watchful—but never seen—eye, life goes on.

The average crew-person, in well-used utility gear

The Ship is not alone in the ocean, however vast it may be. Flotsam and jetsam are very prevalent, storms lash at a distance and up-close, the clouds form serpents and weep liquid oxygen, and rootless plastic continents drift along covered in cannibal flightless birds, among other phenomena. Sometimes other vessels, other Ships, come into contact enough—but they are almost always dead things, devoid of even insect or fungus.

Some say that the Ship is the only safe place anywhere. Some say that the Ship is the source of the world itself, and that if it is corrupted the world around will be corrupted in turn.

However, that does not stop the Captain from organizing expeditions into whatever drifts into contact, or the smaller organizations and families from staking claim or exiling one another into these strange locales. At times there are growing pains. At times the regularity cannot sustain peace. And at times the myriad flotsam brings with it a curiosity that spearheads some great will to explore whatever comes. This is one of those times.

Two well-equipped humans salvaging ancient explosives on a drifting stony shelf

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Now I Wonder Why You Wonder

Rumour, stories, lies, gossip, and truths to be heard tell in the various cities of the world.

-Ywllo Wallpaper and Grin Grass, both imported into Saline at great personal cost to those merchants interested, have grown very near with the recent attacks from Crosscurrents pirates. The more desperate addicts of the narcotics are turning to base imports, like opium.

-The Swallow Blades—a mercenary Company—have recently arrived in Verdegris to gather more recruits and possibly absorb smaller mercenary groups, in a planned expedition into the Cutters for territory.

-A great plague, identical to the one from Ills all those years ago, has cropped up in Crosscurrents villages and emptied out entire islands.

-Speculation from traders suggests shotpowder will increase in price threefold, and begin the fall of the firearms industry.

-The Consul of Verdegris in Mara has been indicted for prostitution and smuggling bodies, and subsequently cut up in the streets by angry families. This is subjective of a report.

-Farmers in the Brothers, or Sisters, have reported that returns in grain are bountiful and uninfected by ergotism, and so are selling wares at more crafty prices.

-The Circle region is rife with researchers heading out into Slow Country to capture specimens for dissection.

-The bars in Patina water their drinks and mix blood into their pies.

-Landed aristocracy outside Saline have been accused of wretched incest and intent to ruin their lineage.

-Annalist for the Greenway Company has returned in rags and cursing her former employers as thieves and liars.

-Sudden silence from Polewaters suggest either abrupt truce of annihilation of the most recent crop of merchants and messengers. Other city-states are planning to respond in kind.

-Suggestion of the Dowager Queen Indrapram to seek a male suitor has resulted in a most grevious offense.

-Purified gold can be found in  the stomachs of Slow Country beasts, explaining why they are so sluggish and heavy.

-Sea salt and camphor can be used to relieve symptoms of poisoning.

-The Cold Rider is in fact a real personage of ancient times, not a mere cultish figure, and their lineage runs strong in one of the Cards, affecting the profiles of the inhabitants.

-Sheep can see into the future and past but never the present, judging by their horizontal pupils.

Cartography As Well

Considerably larger than they appear

As planets are not defined by single continents—unless they are supercontinents, single plains of reality, or else abnormally large landmasses—here would be the second half of the map posted earlier, on the opposite half of the planet.

To the far east are the more broken-up continuations of Fosburg, or the Cards, called the Cutters. They are ragged lands, cooler than the Cards but lacking the winds or forests that brought humanity to settle in the latter. Religious zealots are exiled here sometimes from Verdegris.

Closer east, arranged together, is the Circle: a meteoric crater that formed into a sea when the rains flooded the world. The eastern subcontinents and western coastlands reap the benefits of nutrient-rich muds kicked up by the waters, and have the small city-states of Shir, Drah, Albin, and Mara that have some mixing and trade.

The northern section of the central continent is Slow Country, a sort of mixed scrub- and grassland with mountains to the southeast and islands to the northwest. Lack of rivers makes this land unpleasant and unpopular for civilization, but the dried lake-beds yield up valuable potassium salts to fuel the emerging shot-powder industry and interested chemists. Long-legged canids with tremendously long tails hunt in packs here, and massive grey-skinned quadrupeds wander with teeth bared.

The southern section of the central continent is Dead Country, hot and wretched grasslands with life only under the stone and soil. Semi-underground communities reside here, farming mushrooms and fungus, killing off outsides and lost wanderers.

South of Dead Country is Polewaters, home to a somewhat xenophobic monarchy with several warring dynasties and an ever-shallower genetic pool. The capital city,  has been rebuilt at least seven times, and sacked many more. Most of the working population is capable with militaristic endeavors, and mercenary companies are hired very often. Winter on this subcontinent is mild, but freezes quite a lot of the surrounding sea as well, preventing trade or import.

East of Dead and Slow Countries is the subcontinent of Stagger, the last landscape before the great ocean that separates the two halves of the planet. As such, prophets of the end gather there to watch the endless roiling seas and make predictions based on cloud formations and bird entrails. The descendants of those myriad ancient followers and disciples have formed multiple small villages spread out across the coast and taken up supportive lives for the prophets, even with no end-times having occurred in many centuries. 

Art is copyrighted by myself, do note.