Friday 31 July 2020

Building a Reality

The project I have been doing with Eldritch Foundry has its World Anvil page up and running. Don't know if they have an RSS or how you follow it, but this breakdown of how and why I designed the reality the way I did should be on there and I thought I would give it to you also for something to read over the weekend.

> What was Esh?

Gino Severini, 1912, Dynamic Hieroglyphic of the Bal Tabarin

I imagine Esh at its height as a kind of multiversal super-civilisation. Think of somewhere a little like Planescape plus Marvel Universe plus Spelljammer plus Ian M. Banks Culture novels plus Star Trek, plus anything else you can think of. All of the tropes and technologies of any science fiction or fantasy cosmos were present and all would be utilised to their finest and highest extent to produce a reality of freedom and meaning.

Esh was probably not a reality, or a 'realm' without evil, opponents or challenge, neither was it a static, unchanging place, but it was somewhere where 'good', of some form, usually, probably won, and where there was always the opportunity for redemption, creation and adventure.

Realms, Worlds, Dimensions and Gates.

Esh was made up of planets, rings, super-ships and dyson-spheres, like a sci-fi universe, but it also included magical realms, dimensional planes, time-travel, parallel realities, worlds inside the dreams of gods, virtual sumulated worlds, pocket-dimensions like the Tardis and simply any and everything else that can reasonably be imagined.

Becuse of their enormous difference in nature, most of these were referred to as 'Realms', meaning a reasonably coherent chunk of space and time where things work by the same rules.

The Optimates

We know relatively little about Esh as its fall and destruction set the scene for the creation of Uud, but one thing we can suppose is the existence of beings called 'Optimates'. We can think of these as hyper-powered or exceptional individual beings of various kinds. A Culture 'Mind' from an Ian M. Banks book could be considered an Optimate, as could Dr Strange, Superman or the Archangel Gabriel.

These Optimates watched over the varied realms of Esh. 'Watched over' was intended to mean, not that they directly ruled any planet or dimension, but that they kept it safe, and as separate as it generally wanted to be from the meta-realm of Esh.

So, if a hyperdimensional predator wants to feed off the life essence of a world, or if a sci-fi megacorp wants to invade a realm with only medieval technology to colonise it, or if a super-magician like Sauron or super-being like Professor X decides to try to build a multiversal empire of their own, the Optimates were meant to stop them.

Generally, the Optimates were meant to protect 'Realms' from things coming from outside that realm, not from creatures or agents from within. Though, since they had a great ability to set their own boundaries, its likely some Optimates did not quite keep to that mission exactly.

Esh fell. Uud is what remains.

The peoples of Uud know very little about what Esh was like, but in the Waste-lands, which includes Zoiterra and Blackwater, they do at least know that Esh existed at one point, though they have quite different legends about what it was.

> What is Uud?

There are eventually meant to be multiple different 'layers' or 'versions' of Uud, including a fantasy realm, a Steampunk realm and a science-fiction realm.

Right now, only the fantasy realm has been worked out to any depth, and only a few of the lands within it have been described.

So far I have been calling this Fantasy Realm 'The Waste Land'.

The Waste Land

Russ Nicholson

From the perspective of the people in it, this is a flat, caustic plain of grey ruined stone, oceans of ash, salt flats, memory stealing rain and other awful, largely grey and colourless things.

So far as they know, this is what remains of Esh. All of it. It was leached of meaning, identity, memory and structure by Yggsrathaal and reduced to this horrible fractured plain.

There are various nations adrift in the Waste Land, places where people and culture might survive, so far we only know about two of these, Blackwater and Zoiterra.

Neither of these places really know much about each other, they have perhaps a few fractured legends but little else to confirm that.

As well as that; exactly how the Waste functions, differs slightly around each Realm. Blackwater and Zoiterra are both Islands of meaning and identity in a formless waste, so the way they perceive both it and themselves does leak out somewhat.


By Skullfungus
(all of these have their own descriptions, which will hopefully be linked through the image)

Blackwater is the first place imagined in any depth for Uud and was created specifically in order to host most of the common and well-loved fantasy races, places and adventure types.

Within its own history, Blackwater was created, or preserved, on or around the end of the Fall of Esh as a somewhat stable and self-supporting realm in the growing Waste.

Two things keep Blackwater stable and drive back the Waste.

Towards its Eastern end are the Mountains of Reality, giant eruptions of stone much larger and wilder than any mountain range on earth. The culture of these mountains is protected by the Gloom Queens, who you can read about in their own entry, but the entropic quality of the Waste is driven back somehow by the dense stone of the mountains themselves.

Some legends say the Mountains of Reality were created by a kind of 'folding over' or different mountain rages from different realms, making them somehow 'hyper-real'. Others say the Mountains are the body of the dead God Ark, a primal creator God defeated by Yggsrathaal.

However it works, the Mountains keep back the Waste to a large degree. They provide one of the few sources of heavy metals and minerals in the Waste-Lands (the rest were corroded by Yggsrathaal and their lack keeps technology expensive and low-level). The rivers which run from the mountains carry waters stained black by their eroded stone, the 'Black Waters' which give the continent its name, and these waters also seem to hold back or repress the Waste and its creatures.

Almost all the river systems of Blackwater run East-West, to an unnatural degree, and this is assumed to be due to ancient geo-engineering during Blackwaters creation.

The second, western portion of Blackwater is held in place by its Cities. This whole area, called 'The Grey Cities', is based around crazed, ancient, Cyclopean megastructures which seem to emanate, or re-assert, Reality itself. 

The memory-stealing rains of the Waste lose their powers around the structures and the creatures of the Waste creatures don't like getting close to them.

Around these Megastructures have grown up the Cities themselves, growing now for 5,000 years, most of them know little of how or why the structures work, but they do know that they are sacred.

Within the Megastructures are the Imperial Lines who perform the rituals, magic and actions which keep the structures working. These are largely descended from the Optimates of Esh.

During the Fall, some of the surviving Optimates came to Blackwater and built the cities while some other force or group, possibly the last Deists or Prophets of Esh, created the Mountains of Reality.

With them came refugees from every realm, reality and world of Esh, all mixed together, and it is from them that the current population descends.


Zoiterra is quite different and was imagined to be a realm or nation, also within the Waste, (so in theory you could walk from Blackwater to Zoiterra, if nothing killed you), but distant from Blackwater.

Zoiterra was created to be a home for the various Animal-People of Dungeons and Dragons.

While Blackwater is very 'Classic Fantasy' with Elves, Dwarves etc, Zoiterra has none of these races, and while Blackwater works very much like a normal continent, with rivers, mountains mines etc, Zoiterra is pretty weird.

As a Realm it exists as ten great nations riding on the back of ten great nation-beasts. 

I never really defined exactly how big each beast is, but I imagined the average to be about the square miles of the United Kingdon mainland. So Zoiterra as a whole is about the size of Europe or the U.S. (Blackwater is I think roughly the size of the U.S.).

While the peoples of Blackwater are permanently at war with Yggsrathaal (in fact this mutual threat and hatred is part of what binds them together) those of Zoiterra are more just, avoiding her notice. (Though they must still suffer through her attacks).

In Blackwater 'Humanity' is defined largely by the majority group; Somon (standard humans), and by the similarity of Aeth, Deoth and other types. The decision on who is and is not human is a political and social one and can be addressed a little bit differently in each polity. To not be part of 'Greater Humanity' is bad, though the line does move, it is still a hard line.

In Zoiterra there is no majority form and, though its peoples all look very very different to each other, it’s clear to them that they are all conscious beings, so definitions and identities work differently there.

Each Zoiterran culture is based on one particular Nation Beast and each Beast is considered to be following a particular Virtue. It is these Virtues which define legitimacy and personhood in Zoiterran culture.

(Not that Zoiterran culture is inherently less prejudiced or more fair that others, only that it works differently. Most Nation-Beasts have majroty ethic/type populations and these almost always wield political power. The Nation-Beasts also differ in how, and how much, they incorporate and allow beings dissimilar to them.)

Most Zoiterran Virtues, and the cultures which spring from them, are based roughly around Daoist concepts. This is intended to fit with Zoiterras fluid and subtle nature. Though there are also pseudo-Bhuddist, Hindu, Confucian and Frog-Fascist cultures.

> Will there be more Realms in the Waste-Land?

I hope so. It will depend on what creatures, beings and cultures are added to the 'Fantasy World' makeup of Uud. 

So far I have vague ideas for continents or Realms for 'Monsters' and Undead, and possibly some kind of Greek-influenced place.

I hope to make them all as different in concept and execution as Blackwater and Marginalia. Each fragment of Esh will have found some particular way to survive and maintain itself, depending on its own nature.

> Where is everything in the Waste-Lands?

Right now its imagined that the continents 'move'. In Blackwaters case it would grind via something like continental drift, and Zoiterra of course, is moving all the time in its eternal escape from Yggsrathaals attention.

My hope is that, in play, people will treat the Waste-Land as largely modular, so continents and realms can essentially be 'picked up' and moved around on the map according to the desires of the game creators.

So if someone wants to tell a story like; "What if Oum, the Black Turtle, carrying the cat-race of Quitt, should crash into the Grey Cities, what would happen?" Then they can simply arrange that to happen.

All of Zoiterra is made like this, with the animals continually racing and changing places and locations, so that each game creator can arrange the pieces of that realm however they wish, so that different places and cultures can be close, in easy contact, or separated.

As more realms are added to the Waste-Land, I would like to try to keep this up so taht ultimately, the Waste-Land became a kind of jigsaw puzzle or lego-set of fantasy ideas, different for each game and story.

> What about 'Sci-Fi' Uud and 'Steampunk' Uud?

So far these realities, and the way they relate to Waste-Lands Uud, have not been deeply worked out.

The core concept for 'Steam Punk Uud' is that its been 20,000 to 25,000 years since the fall of Esh. Uud is made up of a kind of bubble of gas around a giant solar system. Intelligent beings inhabit multiple planets and moons. They know little of each other but near simultaneous discovery of similar technology means they develop the ability to explore their giant bubble at about the same time. Their ships are concieved of as being something like iron cylanders or giant wheels. Society is at a pseudo-victorian state and nations and huge corporations are a big deal. Magic is less powerful than in the Waste-Lands and has been de-prioratised, with different forms being predominant. The old strange hyper-tech of Esh is mostly gone or lost, but Sophonts (intelligent self-aware beings)  have a much better and controlled understanding of their own technology. Yggsrathaals 'Grey Waste' still exists, but only as a distance presence on the borders of the big bubble. Many cultures don't even know about her, regarding her as a legend.

'Sci-Fi Uud' takes place roughly 55,000 years since the fall of Esh. No-one knows anything about Esh at all, or about the origins of the spacefaring species. There's quite a bit more but I will save that for later.

> Are these future versions of 'Waste-Lands' Uud or what?

Honestly I don't yet know. My initial idea was that the fall of Esh "fractured" reality into different streams in which time ran at relatively different speeds.

The closest and the fastest running would be Fantasy Uud, the closest to the Vespershard, where Yggsrathaal was most powerful but where magic was also very powerful.

In the different 'time streams' more and more time would have passed since the fall, giving technology more time to develop. Magic would be less powerful, and so would Yggsrathaal, though she would still be a serious, ultimate and long-term threat.

> Things Outside 'Reality', 

the Vespershard, the Seraphormer and Marginalia

There are some places and Realms either outside reality, or adjacent to it in some fundamental way. I will describe these in turn.

The Vespershard

In itself, the Vespershard is pretty simple. Not unlike Borges 'Aleph' or the Marvel Universes M'Kraan crystal, its a giant hidden crystal which simultaneously reflects, encapsulates and combines every version of the Udd-verse. A hidden Axis-Mundi or fulcrum of reality which sustains and preserves what is left of causality.

This reasoning behind it is more interesting.

Essentially I didn't want to create a fantasy world where there was only one way it could be and people had to wait around for the company in charge to validate things for them to be "real".

I think that puts a fan community and a company in a negative feedback loop. It’s always easy to sell the nerdiest parts of the community More Details, as they think that’s what they want, but the relentless accumulation of detail makes the world impenetrable to newcomers, raises the lorekeeper mindset over other (and I think we do need that personality just not on its own) and trains people not to think or create for themselves, as they can always go to the company for answers and validation.

And since the company can charge them for that detail and that validation, its almost self-destructive for them not to do so. And that gradually trains the company and the fans to resent each other as they are feeding each others less-meaningful habits and thought patterns.

So the Vespershard is a piece of Uud which explicitly says that every person who plays a game or does fiction in Uud is reflected in the Vespershard, and that every one of those interpretations is valid, and that Uud as a whole, both as an imaginative creation in our world, and as an imagined reality, only persists due to all these different realities in the shard, so everyone who contributes to it is keeping it alive. Though they may be very separate versions of reality, they all show up in the Vespershard.

So whatever game or fan-fic, art, cosplay, whatever, shows up in the Vespershard and plays a part in keeping the Uud-Cosmos alive, both literally, as in if you don't engage with it, or use it, it dies, and diagetically, in the imagined world itself.

While the Vespershard does exist in Uud, beneath Phosphorfall, at the centre of the Wate-Lands, its not meant to be easy to access or even to discover that it exists. 

The Seraphormer

The idea behind the Seraphormer started with the conception of the 'Eldritch Founder' actually existing in the imagined world of Uud, and then slowly grew from there.

The Seraphormer is the Founders 'Soul Machine' and its conception is designed to give the impression of a near-divine technology, scraped together from the detritus of multiple layers of reality, combining magic and technology in order to perform a divine action; the creation of souls.

And of course, just as the Verspershard, looked at one way, is a kind of literalised metaphor for the recording of the lore of Uud and for its relationship with its fans, the Seraphormer is a literalisation of what Eldritch Foundry does, the combination of creating your own mini, having it printed out and delivered, and then incorporated into your own imaginative world. In doing this, you are essentially doing what the Eldritch Founder does, playing the 'role' of the Eldritch Founder before you play the role of your character.

The Seraphomer is imagined as existing in its own "pocket-realm", adjacent to, but outside any realm or layer of Uud.

Physically we can imagine this pocket realm as being roughly the size of Luna, earths moon, with a core about the size of a large city.

Almost the only living beings within the Seraphormer are various versions of the Eldritch Founder, though the Captains of the LicheJammer craft which bring Quileth into the Seraphormer are also present. The Captains are meant to be memory-wiped before being allowed to leave, meaning they do not know what the Seraphormer is, only that they must complete their mission and return. Since the LicheJammer Captains are assumed to have absolute control over their largely mindless undead crew, its assumed no one needs to bother memory-wiping them.

The Zone of the Speraphomer is physically non-existant in the space beyond it, its envelope is invisible to all senses and only the LichJammer Captains have the codes and knowledge to even find its apporximate location and to request access.

As well as that, the Delusion Engine of the Seraphormer infiltrates all of Uud, making it near-impossible for any self-aware being to even imagine that it could exist. Even Founders which leave the Seraphormer can lose any memories of it and not be able to return.

Nevertheless, there does seem to have been at least one incursion of some sort into the Seraphormer and the Founders security arrangements may be less perfect than they assume.

The Founder(s) within the Seraphormer are able to gain access to any 'layer' of Uud, and it seems they can even inject Souls into a variety of timestreams, suggesting that the Seraphormer is not completely fixed in time. Though if the Seraphormer had complete and free access to the time-stream, its mission would be a lot simpler, which suggests that either it is not a fully functioning time machine or that the presence or existence of Yggsrathaal somehow prevents this.

The means by which the Founders gain access to Uud seem to vary and few of them have been made clear, though it seems some combination of manipulating the strands of Marginalia, travel through the Vespershard and possible deep-future Sci-Fi hypertech.

Wherever they Seraphormer "is" in regards to Uud, it always seems to be hidden phsyically in some way, located in some lost and forgotten place, and it seems to have trouble interacting with or being close to a planetary surface, or the surface of the Waste-Land. It is a quasi-astronomical object, most akin to a hidden moon or shrouded space station.


The ultimate series of tubes.

Marginalia was conceived of as a 'connecting realm', a world which spread tendrils of itself to every land, layer, nation, realm and reality of Uud. 

If you need to get anywere in Uud, in theory, the strands of Marginalia can take you there.

Its closest inspiration is something like the 'Webway' of the Warhammer 40k universe, mixed with the 'Otherworld' of Celtic myth, actual Medieval Marginalia and NASA ideas about enclosed cylilndrical environments in space which maintain the illusion of gravity through centrifugal force.

Being inside any part of Margenalia is essentially like being inside a giant cylinder, with gravity equal around the diameter, like being inside a space-born cylinder ship which is rotating.

Rather than just one such tube, Margenalia is a gigantic sprawling, perhaps endless, maze or network. Some tubes are wide enough around to contain whole nations and others are only the size of manhole covers, or even smaller.

Portals or entries to Margenalia can theoretically be found all over Blackwater, Zoiterra, the Waste-Lands and anywhere else in Uud, perhaps even the Pale Courts of Yggsrathaal and the Seraphormer.

In practice, finding and using such a portal is immeasurably difficult. The peoples and cultures of Margenalia keep themselves very secret and obsessively guard any access to their realm.

Most cultures in the Waste-Lands do not even believe that Marginalia exists, assuming it to be simple a legend. Those that do know of it are aware that obsessively and systematically searching for it is unlikely to work. Some people just persistently 'happen across' the Realm, whether they wish to or not, while others will never find it.

In terms of world design, and game design, Marginalia provides the means to connect any imagined place to any other imagined place, temporarily or permanently, with rules or circumstances which can vary according to need or design.

It me

> A New-Age; or, "Why is everything so terrible?"

The whole basis of Uud is a world which starts out as pretty bad, but which you can change through play.

Again I'm trying to re-iterate that Uud is meant to be a world to be played in, to be brought to live through play and through interaction, and that the experience of play and of interaction, whether that be through fan fic, cosplay, art or whatever, is the essential purpose of the world.

So let me highlight two broad moral typse of fantasy reality.

The Grimdark, like Warhammer 40k, Berserk and maybe Dark Souls. This is a reality where everything is screwed and all people can do is resist that for as long as possible. It’s dark, moral choices are harsh and  largely the structure of the world makes the world a tragic one.

Then we have more classic Adventure worlds. This would be like most D&D worlds and like the Marvel Universe. There may be terrible threats and all kinds of apocalyptic events, but usually the good guys can win and a heroic effort will count for something in the end.

Uud, at all its levels and in every realm, especially in Blackwater, is meant to be a reality which is very, very dark, *but in which the players can change that*.

Again this feeds into every game, campaign and story being individually valid and an actual part of Uud.

Every adventure (in classic D&D anyway) starts with a small group of heroes. In Blackwater, they will be oppressed by the conditions of the world, faced on every side by the Waste of Yggsrathaal and be part of a slowly-decaying society which doesn't really believe that anything can change for the better.

The very nature of a classic set of D&D heroes, individuality, anti-authoritarianism, questing for adventure, taking on bad guys, amassing treasure, building a legend, pretty much everything that D&D characters do, specifically re-enforces and sustains exactly the forms of identity, specificity, character, hope, possibility and change which work against the power of Yggsrthaal.

The Waste is Grey, and empty, and drains everything of live and individuality. The world is like this, when the adventure begins.

But the heroes, through their actions and adventures, change the world, and shift it onto one with more colour, life, possibility and hope.

Diagetically, this is why the Eldritch Founder created them, and from our point of view, it is part of why we both run games and play in them.

So, to put it simply, Uud should be "A Dark world, that you can do something about."

Pat Boyette

> What's "Diegetic"?

This is a complicated-sounding term that is actually pretty simple. The concept is taken from film and culture studies and came to RPGs through Emmy Allen. If something is 'Diegetic' then its part of the world of the story, or the world of play.

So, in a Quentin Tarantino film, if we see someone driving their car, accompanied by cool music, it seems like a soundtrack. Then they stop the car, reach down and turn off the radio and the music stops.

We have a little moment of surprise. We thought it was non-diegetic and was actually Diegetic.

Many times I have used the idea of making something Diegetic in the creation of Uud.

Race and Humanity; there are big culture war discussions in D&D-land right now over the construction of 'Humanity' and what should or shouldn't be considered 'inhuman', as well as the concept of Race.

In Blackwater, in particular, people have very similar discussions. The culture has a specific idea of what is an isn't 'Human', and both Players, and Player Characters, can agree or disagree with that. These rules count quite differently even in Blackwater. Some Cities are highly conservative, others, like Yga, have relatively open rules about who is 'valid'.

Zoiterra also has its own ideas about what makes someone a valid person or not. Ones quite different from Blackwater, and even different from beast-to-beast.

The Worghast, or robotic people of Blackwater, have their own laws about what allows them to claim personhood.

This isn't intended to prove any particular point but to allow players to inhabit the world in a contextual complex and interesting way (should they wish to, you can still have a fun game where this stuff doesn't matter). The main idea is that each society has different standards and that these make sense *to that society*. Not that they are absolute truths.

The Eldritch Founder, the Seraphormer and the Vespershard are all, in part, literalised diegetic elements in-world of things which affect and influence the creation of that imagined world.

The Seraphormer is the 3D printing of minis, but also the whole creation of a character and their embedding in the imagined world of Uud. The Eldritch Founder is a little like the company Eldritch Foundry itself, given form and the Vespershard is a hoped-for validation of different peoples creations and desire for a positive feedback loop between Company and Fans, all given form as elements of Uud which could possibly be interacted with.

> Cross-Linking

My hope with the development of the Lore of Uud is that it will never be complete. Leaving some parts of Uud 'open' or undescribed is  deliberate. 

There are some places, people and events that there will never be an 'official' line on - to discover what happened you need to play through those events or do your version of fanfic about it - to actually make something.

I hope that the slow cross-linking and development of entries and lore grows, but always leaves some subjects, events and eras blank, and open to interpretation.

What really happened at the Treaty of Birch Falls? - Play to find out. How did Esh fall? - Play to find out. 

The reason for this is to keep Uud an "active" world, one made real by its use and interpretation, rather than a huge block of dead lore which will sell mainly to people of the 'lore keeper' mindset (which I don't object to, I am one after all) but which becomes so huge, interconnected and dense that it’s impossible to play in.

The existence of the Vespershard is meant to confirm this. Every version of Uud, no matter how the base material is used, is valid and appeared in the Vespershard.

> First-Person in Uud Fiction

What follows represents an original conception for fiction set in the reality of Uud. This shouldn't be considered an absolute rule but I will explain my methodology and the intentions behind it so you can decide for yourselves

My original idea was that every story would be from a specific in-world point of view. 

It could use a literary effect like a diary or letters or an interview. In this case the singular pov character would be the writer or the imaginary compiler of the information would be the writer (like the unseen *whoever* who collects all the letters in Bram Stokers Dracula).

If not using a specific literary effect of this type, the stories would use either a locked-in first person pov or a very close 3rd person pov. 

In close 3rd person, the point of view would be kept entirely on the main character and it would be clear that the described world would be seen from their point of view, literally, but also morally and politically. If the story describes the inside of other peoples heads, or things the main character can’t  witness, it should be clear in the text that this is that characters supposition or imagination about those things.

Each of these pov character would have a specific time, social position, social-moral-religious viewpoint and a particular way of interacting with the world. We see the world as they see it and for the period of the story we see it *only* as they see it, with their moral and social imperative and patterns of thought and behaviour.

So the world as a whole would be a kind of palimpsest, stitched together from these individual stories, and the discontinuities between stories would be part of the world as that is down to the different experiences of the pov characters.

Games Workshop says they do this, but in fact most of their major series are just normal stories with real attempts to maintain standard continuity, they use the "everything is unreliable" schtick to excuse their (understandable) failures in continuity and the shifting nature of the world as it changes under different writers.

But you could actually do what they do, but for real, build this world of individual tales and have different characters and writers encounter and interact with the same imaginary elements, like cities, characters, places and environments, across ranges of imagined time and imagined experience, and the differences between the points of view might be down to the differences in experience or could be actual changes in the imagined world.

So two characters in different stories could meet the same major NPC, but have totally different experiences of that, maybe they met them at different points in life, or just saw them differently, or they are lying or making stuff up.

Same with a place or event, different characters on completely different adventures or narratives can witness or interact with environments and cities or magics and have parallel or different responses and records.

And so the reader is picking their way through all these stories, which they know to be personal and unreliable, and in a state of continually putting together the 'real world' as something that is always slightly beyond direct confirmation. In a way they are like a journalist, researcher or historian of an imaginary world, trying to understand it.

So you still get arguments about 'the lore' and 'who meant what' but instead of being based on undesired discontinuities in what it written they are based on deliberate differences in the record. So everyone reading gets to 'play' in a way.

Click to go there

Wednesday 29 July 2020

Queen Mab

> Confirm. Transponder I.D. is shift-ship "Queen Mab"
> Last ident, hijacked by Some time ago, a group of genius-level transhumanist radicals.
> Skill-set - genetics, cybernetics, direct AI-HUman integration, bleeding edge dimensional technology. > > Transhumanist Views -  Hyper-aesthetic 'new humans'. Something they consider Optimal Beings.
> Be aware, possible development of, extremely dangerous dimensional tech, and access to "True" non-relativistic time-travel. Queen Mab appears and disappears in wildly different volumes. Sometimes seems to dash back and forth across the Galaxy, at other times hovering like a fly around a handful of Suns. 
> Queen Mab itself exists in an variety of states. Sometimes seeming no bigger than a paperclip lost in space, its nature revealed only by its enormous energy emissions and dangerous 'siren song' EM emission sphere. At other times it looms like a moon-sized battle station, blotting out suns in orbit.
> Interior scans ineffective but suggest mycelium web of parasitical, unstable, dimensional conduits to various different realities and paracosms.
> Numerous abductions reported. 
> Mindcrime - Many who encounter the ships EM emission sphere obsessively track it.
> Piracy - stole every perfect circle on the surface of a Omicron III.
> Status and capabilities of the Queen Mab, whether they are developing sequentially or not, may be entering an even more potent and developed phase.
> Suns have gone missing.
> It is feared the Queen Mab may become a Pirate of Worlds.
> Now, by chance, You have encountered the Queen Mab in orbit around a pale and silent moon. 
> Ship is both accessible (at a normal size) and apparently, quiescent. 
> As if it were sleeping.
> Bounty on ships confirmed destruction.
> Bounty on high-status individuals recovered from within (if still living and effectively still coherent individuals.
> Bounty on any post-singularity tech recovered from the Queen Mab includes full pardons, personal A.I.-run paracosm and, through negotiation and dependant upon confirmed results, your own planetary-scale Biosphere.
> Incursion????

"Nature rejects the monarch, not the man;
The subject, not the citizen: for kings
And subjects, mutual foes, forever play
A losing game into each others hands,
Whose stakes are vice and misery. The man
Of virtuous soul commands not, nor obeys."

"Oh lord oh lord, the Fae Knights of the Faerie Queen came not three dawns past.

Through a magic door to the otherworld!

They have ensorcelled your beloved, taken them to Queen Mabs palace!

Yet the door remains, yes it does. And if the tales are true, not for long.

Take this horse-shoe of cold iron (hide it well).

Remember, the Fae are beautiful, strange, terrible and capricious (really they are bonkers but you should never say that out loud). 

They love beauty and music, and they like to be praised.

Be polite and deferential, yet, never give nothing all away, not even your name.

And you must accept no gifts, make no promises, and *never eat anything*. 

And beware the Faeries charms, for they can be seductive.

And remember that time in the Otherworld is not like time here. You might come back a moment after you left, or a century.

No matter to that. Be quick! The Faerie door awaits!"

"Then grave and hoary-headed hypocrites,
Without a hope, a passion, or a love,
Who, through a life of luxury and lies,
Have crept by flattery to the seats of power,
Support the system whence their honours flow..

They have three words:- well tyrants know their use,
Well pay them for the loan, with usury
Torn from a bleeding world! - God, Hell and Heaven."

"Dreams. I have such dreams. Do you know that if I dream of a place I will go there? And I dreamed that I learned that time is a place, and so I could go there too, and did, the moment I dreamed it could be, what was all moments.

But if one can dream, and awake in the time and the place of the dreaming, weaving in my sleep, if one weaves a man and meets a man or dreams of him, and weaves a dream, and remembers that one will remember.. Well then, what is a dream at all?

It is a sleep. All dreaming.

Did I make you? Did I weave you and seed you and set you to sprout in that river-realm from which you came with a memory in your mind, a dream of loss to bring you to me?

That is why I made these. The butterflies. Lao Tze no? He was a butterfly, a very nice butterfly, but he woke a man."

"The sensitive extension of the world.
That wondrous and eternal fane,
Where pain and pleasure, good and evil join,
To do the will of strong necessity,
And life, in multitudinous shapes,
Still pressing forward where no term can be,
Like hungry and unresting flame
Curls round the eternal columns of its strength."

> Confirm that object is a miniature warp nacelle.
> Not a remote. Repeat, not a remote.
> That is an active, I say again, active interstellar-capable warp engine drive element that she is waving.
> Configuration unknown. Albedo high. Its bright. Hard to see.
> Materials unknown.

"The restless wheels of being on their way,
Whose flashing spokes, instinct with infinite life,
Bicker and burn to gain their destined goal:"

> Seeping entropic loss around the prime biform. Query, is it warm?

> Right eye registers darkness, gloom, cold space.
> Left eye, bright area..
> Check your six, check your feet.
> The floor is Her, the walls are Her.
> Reaffirm Transponders on contact, check H.U.D. for E.M. Manipulation. Eyeballs only, don't trust your screen.
> Crypto is good.
> Confirm, six transponders.
> Query, team is five strong.
> Repeat, we are a five strong team.
> Identify.
> Identify.
> identify

"My left eye is a hive of bees..

Would you like to see? See. Little bees, all looking out. A hundred million eyes. Eyes within an eye.

They were not born bees, I made them so, and they may not be bees now.

Be bees. be be be be-be bees. [laughter]

They said a word that pleased me not.

And I made that realm as pale as air and as light as ash, and it blew away in a golden wind from a summer-ripe sun. And.. pop!

Do you know how not to become bees?


You must. Say. PLEASE."


Queen Mab!

A book, that may one day hopefully exist!

A strange new thing in this world.

Made by me and......              AlcopopStar!

(not entirely SFW)

Will it happen? Hopefully! Early days yet, still just brainstorming development.

Thursday 23 July 2020

Binding and Combining

Two big problems inside the mind, neither of which I really understand.

'Binding' which I think is working out what objects are which, and 'Combination' which is about creating the matrix-like world-view which our little homunculus sits inside while riding the body around.

All of this started because I like Louise Sugdens painting style and because I like Dazzle Patterns on ships, and so I began a small investigation into colour, in particular, into colour and mass/shape...

After all, it’s only trying to understand how colour works, and how that combines with our sensation and understanding of mass.. how hard can it be?

Answer - INFINITELY HARD, for the very question opens the doorway to a crystalline dungeon of PRISMATIC MYSTERIES.

The search has taken me through Neurobiology (We Know It When We See It by Richard Masland), Ship Camouflage in WWI (Dazzle - disguise and disruption in war and art by James Taylor), and a deep cut into colour as used by artists (Interaction of Colour by Josef Albers).

We can also possibly add 'Through the Language Glass' by Guy Deushter, about a mild Sapier-Whorff effect in language and colour.



or just the most obviously relative?

So many scientists, art teachers, philosophers, messing around with coloured thread, coloured sheets of paper, swatches of colour, showing them to people of different nations, in classrooms, in laboratories, to rabbits while a hole has been drilled in their skulls to let the electrodes in, sailing around looking for rare islanders so you can show them the colours and write down what they say. More flags, shining lights, patterns of shade and texture.

Albers would remind us that our understanding of all these colours is massively shaped by context, types of light, (electric, dawn, dusk, passing clouds, albedo), by the arrangement of colours around and within each other, one colour on another, next to another, torn edges, straight edges, curly shapes, blocky shapes, texture on flat and so on and so on, so that he might regard these neurologists and cultural analysts running around as quite mad and pointless.

ALBERS - The most curious and unique of the minds I have witnessed through text. A man with the very tight, intense, highly disciplined brain of a laboratory scientist, a careful, systematic and procedural method to his teaching (learning about colour is *not about self-expression!*). And yet, with the least scientific aim and probably the greatest scepticism towards the systematising, totalising goal of science.

Albers is learning and teaching his students, through the medium of relentless attention and careful systematic analysis, about something he believes is very, very, highly relative. Fluid within perception and within the mind, to the extent that considering colour outside of its context, as an isolated quality, I think to him that would be utterly insane, since that is something it can never be.

Is it really the most relative of sensations? I think probably it is not, but that it is the most *observably relative* because it comes to us always alongside shape, objects and *DIVIDING LINES*, and I think the secret to the perceived relativity of colour is not that it is more relative than touch, smell or sound, but that it is more relative than objects and lines.

The mind is Binding and Combining the shapes of objects and dividing lines between things ("edge detection") all the time, and however it is doing this (we still don't really know), it seems to me that shapes, objects and lines are a lot less relative and debatable (both within the mind and beyond it) than the colours which always are sensed with and alongside them.

We might not all be seeing the same colours, and we can be certain, that in different lights and different times of day, things which register as always having the same colour in our minds, in fact have quite different colours, and that our brain is clearly fudging the issue, but *in comparison* to colour, we can be much more certain that the lines, shapes and objects we perceive, are both coherent to themselves and coherent when discussed and compared between individuals.

"That big rock, is it more yellow or green would you say?"

and never (ok, rarely)

"That big yellow-green thing, rock or sponge, would you say?"

And it is this, the evidently-relative-relativity, if you will excuse an awful phrase, which makes colour more obviously relative than sound or touch, because it lives along side and is always contrasted with, shape and line, which is very much less relative (probably more dominant, earlier maybe, in the binding & combining process).

Neurons! How do they work!


It’s likely. If it’s not exactly the same it’s probably pretty similar, unless you are at the far end of the curve, and most crucially, as Albers would tell you, IT DOESN'T MATTER!

For colour is RELATIVE and exists only relative to its context and therefore all that truly matters is if what you see as blue has the same relative relation to what you see as red green etc as everyone else which it probably does (though maybe not entirely).


While I know nothing about any of this I know even less about this part so beware, but it seems to me that vision and in particular the binding and combining of colour and form, and many colours, gives us access to a kind of island of no-time within our own minds.

As Albers would tell us, and here I'll bring in Ian McGilchrist of "The Master and His Emissary", sound is sequential, it can only happen in a row of information (though different sounds can be combined at the same time), touch is a bit less sequential, you can tough something with different bits of yourself, or be touched at once. Movement has a 'moment of movement' but is quite largely sequential, it happens in a row but vision, and the sensing of colour and shape, am I wrong in thinking that it has the least sequential elements?

McGilchrist would say that one part of the mind senses and 'sees' everything in one big burst and the other scans and sequentialises, so maybe sight, vision, has the most complex experience of time within the mind.

When I imagine the binding/combining process, I imagine something with a 'loose moment', a kind of drifting, or indistinct sense of the 'now'. The mind sees, absorbs, identifies, arranges and understands, all happening together. The big blurt of information from the all-at-once scan, the rapid sequential object scanning, the binding and combining shape colour, shade, light, fluid integration and re-integration with the imagined and re-constructed mind-state, both what 'just happened' (the part that makes us think the rabbit is still inside the hat) and the 'about to happen' (that lets tennis stars work out where the ball is *going to be*, all of this, binding and combining, looping and feeding back, continually, whenever our eyes are open.

And so, within the mechanisms of vision are many mutual but simultaneous *perceptions of time*. sequential, global, memory looking back and imagination/modelling looking forward, all happening "at once". The experience of vision is like a kind of time machine, a timeless, or looped moment within ourselves, which we can dip into and experience, slightly, a more or less time-powered moment, variations on what 'now' is.


Perhaps this presentiment of the complex nature of consciousness, vision, time, self awareness, is why when I reach certain points of Albers book, Maslands book and McGilchrists, I get a kind of giddy feeling. That feeling when you are just on the borders of a great idea, the moment before something complex, difficult and indistinct synthesises inside your mind into a coherent whole.

This might just be the borders of my own stupidity.

Or am I pressing against the edge of REALITY ITSELF????

More Albers, you and your GODDAMN SQUARES JOSEF


Probably not really no.

Masland is pop-sci and at the deeper end I struggle.

Albers, god damn fucking Germanic Albers. First its a book of experiments really, that you are meant to perform, and I didn't. Didn't have the right stuff, time or will. And second he writes in this bloody art-school Germanic hyper-clear style, which because it is hyper clear and has only the correct info in it
is fucking hard to get through. There is no pulse of info/blather for you brain to take a moment to recombine, instead its infoinfoinfoinfo.

Its one of the most interesting books on colour that I have ever read, but again, I found it a struggle, especially towards the end. There were effects and ideas that I found it hard to perceive, model and consider, and so I ended up somewhat, sweeping over the words in a fearful rush. Back in secondary school maths again! fuck!

Ian McGilchrist being a WEIRD DUDE


God fucking damn it brain, why you have to be so complex. All I wanted to understand was colour and mass.

Well, good news. Brain works out what shape and mass things are about 20 different ways at once. Edge detection and memory probably the most simple, though they exist at different ends of the binding/combining process (probably, we don't really know, and as I theorised above, 'different ends' likely doesn't make much sense in a temporarily fluid process with massive feedback loops).

Other ways - shade, light, texture, gleam, RELATIVE COLOUR. whoop de fucking do, all these things are changing massively, continually, always, depending on light, weather, perceptions, environment, background, movement between objects , movement WITHIN an object (which way will the Zebra jump - dunno as bunching muscles all fucked up by those dang stripes), and everything else.

False weathering patterns on 40k minis, showing you illusory mass one way, comic book style highlights on minis showing you mass another way, fake metal gleams in the non-metallic metal process showing you shape of imaginary metal, Blanchitsu style with decay and deep shadows, and the pale and nacreous skin which is good at showing those gothic shadows, showing you mass another way.

All somehow dealing with mass, or the delusion of mass, enhancing and re-creating the sense of 'shape' using false or simulated miniaturisations of aspects of the real(er) large scale world.


Especially when considered as different painting techniques, as in you literally need to do and think about a lot of stuff differently to employ each one.

Camouflage probably provides the key to entry to this subject but I have only read one book on it - stuff on 'Dazzle' (which seems like it didn't actually work, looked fucking cool though - raised morale, that counts!

But there are even different techniques and ideas behind kinds of camouflage. Camo for invisibility
for disruption of shape, of movement, counter-shading seems to have been invented, or re-invented by camo people (and oddly enough that is the exact opposite of a mini technique called zenithal highlighting).

Looking into the way camo destroys the understanding of mass and shape as a method for understanding how the eye and mind create and perceive mass and shape seems like a good idea.

More on this later perhaps.

Friday 17 July 2020

Goose-Gold & Goblins

My 'Soft D&D' OSR-alike has a provisional name; (see above)

Char Gen
Crappy 1st attempt at Shinto
Shinto in Cumbria
A World Without Violence
Monster Brainstorm

Anne-Lise and The Goose Witch SFA Drawing Illustration Canvas _ Etsy

Reasoning On The Name

Opening structure is that of course it has to be a "This" ampersand "This" name, and it has to alliterate. Preferably it has the same number of syllables, so that's accomplished.

It’s not a double trochee though. GOOSE GOLD & GOBlins vs DUNgeons & DRAGons. There is just no way that either of the single syllable words of GOOSE or GOLD could ever be pronounced without the magnificence of a hard stress.

The Goblins are the easiest part to explain. I wanted something emblematic of D&D (see my previous post) and Goblins are a perfect fit for my idea of this game. They are non-trademarked so I can't get sued. Everyone has an idea of what they are, so no problems with recognition. And they fit real nicely into a non or less violent OSR style game as they are famously full of tricks, deceptions, mischief and hammery. They also make relatively good opponents for child PCs.

But GOOSE-GOLD? That will take some explaining.

Firstly, imagining the game to start with being based around a static community (if PCs "grow up" somewhere and have to deal with the same people and relationships over time they are more likely to invest in them and a lot less likely to be sociopaths as they can't just move on and escape the results of negative actions), I want there to be a pastoral or farming-esque Honobono element. Something from the home or the farm.

However, I also want it to be interesting and fun, and to sound cool. Which, unless you know a lot about farming, it’s hard to find that. Plus it also need to start with a "G" and have no more than two syllables.

I settled upon Geese, and as "GOOSE" has a stronger sound, and matches well with "GOLD", I picked that.

Geese As Nuclear Weapons

In Goose-Gold & Goblins, Geese themselves are both the primary treasure, the sought-for item of the early game, and also poses a monopoly on the use of force.

I will explain all this later on.

The geese of the Capitol by Henri-Paul Motte, 1889

Family, The Honobono Thing

Game starts, your Mum is sick and the Geese are missing.

(Oh and Dad is busy, missing, drunk or dead).

Lets assume you are all from the same family, or are close friends of the family. rothers and sisters likely.


I imagine the game being played including children, and maybe including parents and children. All being siblings in a family solves a lot of the decision paralysis and 'why are we doing this' stuff from sandbox games, or from people experiencing sandboxes for the first time and gives you a solid relationship in a way immediately intelligible to children, or anyone.

In a wider sense it embeds you in the village/community and gives you something to defend (your mum) and a place to adventure from.

Probably not the only way to play the game but a good opener.

(Could steal from Chris McDowall and say the family is in debt to the Vampire Bank).

Arthur Rackham

Freedom And Violence

is it even really possible to create a game with the levels of freedom, challenge and object orientation, with a genuine risk of loss or death, and not have it turn into violence?

Probably, maybe it is.

The means I am using to do this are;

> 'Set and Setting' (like Ryuutama) - the art, background, aesthetic, the way the world is described. Like in storygames this would also have a meta-effect as Goose-Gold & Goblins would be known as the 'less or non-violent' OSR-like game, and that would affect the people who bought and ran it and the kind of culture they created around themselves.

> Options available - so no specific weapons even allowed for starting characters, or accessible in the early game.

> Nature of opponents - they will almost never default to violence, using tricks and bullshit first.

> Any possible violence is clearly 'warning ringed' or 'escalation ringed', its very hard to get close to anything that might kill you without being warned multiple times. Hopefully three times at least, by diegetic elements in the campaign world. Warnings from Loregivers, the environment, the element itself and whatever else I can come up with.

> Your mum explicitly tells you "don't hurt anyone", and she's SICK and in BED. She NEEDS YOU MAN.

> A more high-level Diegetic reason perhaps? Like a Old king who is beloved but dying and doesn't want any violence, or the spirits of the land or something? Not sure yet. (More negative version, maybe there's a dark god or plague god who feeds off bloodshed?)

> THE GEESE - This is the key point. Nothing is more dangerous, frightening or terrible or upsetting than a violent Goose. All beings and spirits fear their wrath.

Geese become angry when they see or sense violence.

So if you are violent around a Goose, you are about to unleash a demon of Berserker rage. (Possibly they also grow in size in a Slaine-Like fashion during this).

(Otherwise, unlike in our world, the Geese are quite tractable.)

I want to avoid placing lots of explicit rules about 'do or don't do this' onto the players so only one element is an actual rule, and that a request from your sick mum, in the game, rather than from the DM

Set and setting is tacit, lack of weapons is a void rather than a rule, warning rings are part of the process of play, if there's an old king, or spirits who sicken from violence then.. still not sure about that. Could actually leave it up to the process of long-term play.

And of course, the Geese. And what could be more natural or reasonable than being unwilling to enrage a Goose?

Geese As Treasure

I don't yet know why geese are so valuable to this society/reality. it might have something to do with Golden Eggs. maybe each Goose is like a Lottery Ticket and will occasionally bang one out, maybe one in every 100 eggs is a golden egg, and maybe golden eggs (or slices of them) are the main currency of the Realm.

Or maybe these eggs have some magical property, which is why Goblins want them. OR - maybe there is a one in so many chance each time of a Magic Egg or something, so eggs are spells?

so obviously, everyone wants to get each others Geese, and having a Goose, or Geese is a big deal for anyone - if someone gets a special egg, that’s a big deal for the village.

BUT - because Geese have a monopoly on the use of force, you can't just murder someone and take their geese (at least not directly), you have to be subtle and use crime, trickery, persuasion and misdirection.

> Geese as ambulatory treasure/threats/problems.

As well as this, Geese can move around on their own, and they can co-operate or not with whoever wants to move them.

Maybe you need to calm or seduce them with an unguent or flute or something. Likely there are multiple ways to do this and you can find them out in-setting.

Thing is, within reason you can have Geese be a settled thing or you can have them breaking out and wandering etc

PLUS -I really like the idea of some child-sized chibi hero picking up a GOOSE in both arms, like a huge bag of shopping, and fucking running for it while being chased by Goblins.

I also like the idea of Geese in Goose-Gold and Goblins being really big though. Maybe they grow in response to violence, like magically, instantly.

Idea for cover is a bunch of adventurers and goblins running like fuck from a giant goose. Goose is in back field of image, people sprinting like hell in burst pattern towards the p.o.v. Goblins and adventurers intermixed. They were formerly scheming against each other but someone punched another in the nose. Maybe one Gob has a black eye and hero has a broken nose, and now the titan goose hurls itself upon them, their schemes shattered.