Friday, January 31, 2014

Unexpected Equipment Sets

I like how Dark Souls used inventory to evoke a sense of setting, conveying details within details.

-Thick tapestry armour (light), tinderbox (pyrites), hunting crossbow, ten steel bolts, carved ceramic shiv, tattered black skirts.

-Steel flanged helmet, steel bardiche, stained crimson cloak, steel cuisses and stomach-plate (light), diamond-pattern hose.

-Leather jacket (light), scuffed blue jeans, high-top sneakers, flick knife, preserved fairie corpse, salt-shaker, iron horseshoe, small bell.

-Grey cowl, plucked celestial feathers, dried third eye, bulls-eye lantern, censor with spices, pamphlet of forbidden behaviors, pinfire revolver (five shots).

-Radio-attuned headset, wavelength-specific goggles, jaw-wrap, hand-crank portable generator, leather harness, screwdriver shiv.

-Compromised NBC suit (light), clogged gas mask, sealed glove full of mycoidal spores cultivating on hand, assault rifle (twelve bullets), military rations, cyanide capsule.

-Leather pantaloons, iron stomach-plate (light), loose silk sleeve with a trained serpent inside (D4 Pit Viper, Cobra, Copperhead, Grass Snake), oil-lamp, rope noose.

-Wild boar skins (light), psychotropic fungus clump, antibacterial fungus clump, bone needle and sinew thread, steel hand ax.

-Rabbit mask, crowbar, bottle of celebratory soda, duct tape, photo of someone important.

-Eyes of another (D4 Cat, Goat, Beholder, best friend), Colt 1911 pistol (seven bullets), trenchcoat, wellington boots, handful of small coinage.

-Steel crescent ax, empty notebook, pens and pencils, mother's sweater (light), maglight.

-Whalebone-and-leather corselet (light), embroidered black dress, silk shawl, poison-containing ring, matchlock pistol, five paper cartridges, ceramic-painted cat mask.

-Rusted brass trident, herringbone jacket, ragged trousers, sapient sea star headpiece, wicker cuisses (light).

-Mossy bark chestpiece, cloak of woven rose petals and silver rings (light), brass scimitar, jawbone of a human adult with a 'beard' of human fingerbones, elbow gloves of human skin.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Cartography

Much larger than they appear

Now, for technicality's sake the above is a world map, slightly compressed from it's original incarnation upon my laptop. This is world map of a story that may or may not ever come to pass, as opposed to mere backstory for sake of backstory.

Regardless, the areas of the world are thus.

The large, triangular landmass in the southwest corner is known as the Stand, and is generally very dry steppeland, as the western mountains prevent bountiful storm clouds from watering the earth. Southward, by the rivers and coastlines are some temperate forests, thick and untamed by humanity. Very far south are frozen wastes leading  to the frozen-over oceans.

The broken collection of subcontinents to the far west is Fosburg, although the inhabitants prefer to refer to them as the Cards—Hearts, Clubs, Skulls, Rings, Spades, and Diamonds, respectively. Being so close to the equator they are generally hot, but the woodlands and undergrowth are cooled by forcing the Stand to cycle the moist air. The great cities of Verdegris and Patina are here.

The large scattered span of chain isles, archipelagos, and islands are called Crosscurrents; this is partially from the tropical air run up from the Stand, and partially from the somewhat turbulent ocean currents and underground boulders. It is mostly used as a more inhabited route across the world, though rife with brigands and pirate-traders.

The northmost subcontinent has been empty of all sapient life for many years, due to a very unpleasant plague that had to be kept contained by fire and fear. Now its burned-husk edges are growing green once more, but silence dominates the place. It is called, simply, Ills.

The northeast-most twin subcontinents are the Brothers or Sisters depending on who one asks. They are simply rolling grasslands and hinterlands by the shores full of farmers, with the small island within being rocky and oddly barren. The city-state of Saline is a major power there, managing delicate interactions with smaller cities like Kick, and Just. Saline is a major stop for traders.

The island chain to the far east is collectively known as Kastor, with each island being utterly nameless as per some obscure tradition. Highly mountainous and rather winding on the central island, and surrounded by hundreds of smaller islets. Civilizations set themselves atop cliffs or halfway within caves, and gather the strangely singing fish and outsized crabs that spawn there.

This is a world for one to run a company-style game as put forth by Dungeon of Signs; perhaps as a mercenary group serving one of the various irritable aristocrats in Verdegris, or attempting to take back territory in the Stand for some new political faction. It's all possible.

Art copyrighted by myself, do note.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Mythological Origins

After a while purely scientific statements of genetic and genealogical origin point grow somewhat dreary, no? In any case, these less factual ideas might inform some kind of cultural perception, perhaps even a religion of sorts.

Origins, or Otherwise

1- From deep unground, in warm pools of primordial water heavy with silt and life, did the physical forms of these people grow. And when they grew too large to fit, and felt their bodies ache with stillness, did they claw at the earth above and drag themselves to the dusty surface to be burned by the suns.

2- Upon the strings of the still universe did the God play the first song, a perfect one that echoed in every space until the God heard it a hundred-thousand times over. And when it heard its own song, it found revisions could be made—but had since forgotten how to play; so the second song had a new ending, which caught at itself and lit the stars and ripped open the emptiness between. This displeased the God, who attempted again; so the second song was played backwards, which jarred at the echoes and sent small stones around the stars. The third song, played in a low key, awoke the stones and their inhabitants. The fourth song, played in a high key, set time in motion with its last notes. And so the God crafts the fifth song to perfect the mistakes.

3- When the last of the Old Ones died at the core of the world, their servants took the corpses and threw them inside vast ovens for fuel. Upon those ovens cook-pots were placed and filled, and the servants cut themselves and each other to pieces for the vast meal to take place. But the cook-pots were far too hot, and many of the pieces leapt out from the core of the world to cool as new beings.

4- And in the space before time all were gods in that purified world. And since all were gods, some thought themselves greater than all else, and took condemnation and subjugation upon those others who did not contest them. Conflict sundered the purity of that world: those subjugated gods fell to lesser planes like scorching stars as the foundations crumbled under their feet, and those condemning gods clung to rotting, ethereal cliffsides.

5- '...Being a species of replicants brought back from literal extinction by recorded genomes of our predecessor humans, we are not technically human ourselves: more akin to children, or else an elaborate attempt for the humans to continue their lineage. It is a terrible shame that their efforts failed to come to fruition, and we must keep eternal vigil to prevent any of the offworlder abhumans to assault their holdings and contaminate their greatest and last work...'

6- We have always been on this ship: it is our light, it is our life, and the High Navigator tells that the waves have been lapping at the sides of the hull for as long as they have been aware. We are pulled by hooks and ropes from the stinking bilge and cracked out of rotten holding cases as infants, in batches of one or two, of all kinds and all places, now equal on the ship.

7- Fragmented and heretical are the words that they speak, for theirs is the language of the lesser, warped and mangled to mock the language of the greater and isolate themselves as individual beings. At their heresy they were cast into deep stone darkness, but returned with pale fire and brackish water and knowledge upon leaving the caves. Though far from enlightened, they took upon to at least preserve the greater's tongue even as they drowned and desecrated everything in their path that was not them.




Islands and Conflict

Multiple years back in my childhood, fueled by a frustration-lacking-words and an introduction into online RPG games, I devised a simplistic and somewhat derivative concept set on a series of floating islands on the brink of war due to ancestral crystal artifacts being stolen from each and every one. The very concept of landmasses separate by vast gaps of air fascinated my younger self, yet at the time I still relied upon stereotypical tropes of how those island cultures would be: that is, highly Eurocentric, and somewhat sterile and flat.

This was perhaps a result of my interacts with the aforesaid online games, which had technical limitations and thus could not be as dynamic and spontaneous as the natural world. But it does bring to attention of how some worlds, some presentations, are driven solely by a few names while all the rest seem to sit back and stand merely as stage-dressing—again, this may be due to technical limitations, or an unwillingness to spend energy on details that matter extremely little to the main bearing of a story or world. And the Law of Conservation of Detail is an influential one, no doubt. It would not befit a concise plot to tangent off into various pricing procedures and history of trade routes to explain as to why the protags can acquire quite a lot of weaponry in quite a short time.

In their own way, background glossaries and world encyclopedias aid in a reader gaining context—but if that context is still separate and non-informative by the characters' decisions and narrative commentary, then it seems just as ineffective.

Thus, verisimilitude is just as, if not more, important for context and at least maintaining the illusion of a fluid, reacting world that is not purely set piece. Term-of-focus being illusion, as again the Law and a reader's willingness to absorb data are limiting factors, and to make a world is to effectively lie and bluff oneself into the realm of seeming competence. Unless of course one happens to be highly interested in trade routes or somesuch specific detail, from which a more realistic and informed setting—at least in that specific respect—can be derived. Sometimes this makes for a better tale.

But, in other cases, one must lie and make their creations seem fluid. One could add a large-scale motivating factor, such as the theft of the crystals in my old setting, and work downwards to the reactions of powerful entities, then their supporters, then their lands, and so on until the bottommost layer of detail that is thought to be necessary. One could also make individual points or names, and deliberately put them at odds with one-another to see how a larger system might react; this does not so heavily rely on scale so much, and one can add as many points as one likes.

The point is, texture can do nearly as much as depth.

Hell if I know.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Kill The Envious Moon

Given that I live in the city of Boston, itself not the worst place to spend a college lifestyle, I have noted that it is distinctly difficult to see the stars in the sky due to light pollution.

Here would be a chart what has blighted in the natural world.

D10 Blighted Lands

1- A vast swamp, approximately ten acres around and bordered by several sets of rusted and broken metal fencing. In direct sunlight it boils and bubbles with decayed muck, and at night small mammals who thrive in desolation swarm to strip the surface of anything edible. Any trees in the area have been reduced to gnarled sticks covered in blooming fungus, which has spread slightly to the surrounding environment not regularly treated with fire.
Roughly in the center of this is a tall, oblong metal device, warped from heat and leaking a thin, poisonous fluid. Inside can be seen clogged vents and burnt-out sensors. (Save v. Poison)


Introductory Post

Since at some point I had some intention to blog and bring my thoughts to at least some kind of wider audience beyond that of the mercurial reaches of microblogging and the vast electronic plains of the internet, I might as well begin at this time and place.

Likely I shall blog about tabletop gaming. Perhaps art. Perhaps writing. Perhaps even both, if the mindset strikes.

And so it begins.