Thursday, 10 June 2021

The Ungulix!

What are these posts even? They started out as Scrap doing reasonably sensible hooks and have decayed into me just ranting about the monster in question...

Never mind, whatever I am doing, I shall do. let us move on to... the;


What qualities are mentioned in their description;

- No-one believes they are real, (only the writer of the text, Juglangsing Leptoblast, believes in them).
- There is no record of them anywhere.
- They are compressible winding creatures, tractomorphic, about a wolfhounds size in strength.
- Like a big lizard plus a rabid dog.
- Sharp spines, but these also bend.
- They have clawed feet - these extend and rasp when hungry, they also grasp the ground to keep the Ungulix attached.
- The Ungulix has a maddening crazed head, its eyes are oddly coloured pearls.
- They are coloured like a diseased dirty dove.
- Their presence brings a ruined air blotchiness or spattering of space, with inversions of light/
- THEY COME FROM BELOW. Specifically, from under beds and wardrobes, bookcases, things like that. Reading into it, it seems like there needs to be at least some space for them to come from, its not clear they could come from beneath a carpet or a dropped sheet of paper. And the thing they are coming below seems to need to be some kind of discreet object, or at least not something utterly huge, amorphous or super-small.
- They exist under inverted gravity, their up is our down etc. If they fall up into the sky they disappear.
- They come when you are drunk (or perhaps otherwise disordered).
- "imagine secret wolves"
- If they miss you once, they come back.

Whatever reality powers they have, they know when and how to attack only those who will not be believed, (maybe this is a quantum entanglement attention thing). They need prey, and they can go anywhere, so long as they come "from below".

so the qualities they need to "find" are

1. Prey, (preferably human it seems though who knows)
2. Plenty of accessible 'below spaces'.
3. A roof or something to stop them falling into the sky.
4. A "lack of attention". This could mean drink or drugs or witlessness
could it mean sleep, this is a difficult question. Maybe they need some specific brain activity - so if you fall dead asleep, into REM sleep, they can't do anything, they need you in the "in-between" world.
5. A clear fate line. As they are outside time and space, maybe they can only enter timelines or fate lines, strands of causality where they can be certain they are never confirmed to exist... (Yet if they can perceive timelines from the outside its clearly not well enough to be certain they will catch their prey, unless they are playing very five-dimensional chess every time they hunt.


- Taming the Ungluix

What properties might a captured, tamed ungulix have? Could they even be tamed in any way which make sense to us? Trapped in a glass sphere perhaps? If they can't be known to exist what does a "Tame Ungluix" even mean? An imaginary hunting dog "owned" by a half-mad drunk who wanders the roads, and no-one has ever seen his "dog" but anyone who messes with him tends to go missing.

- The Parts of the Ungulix

What if you get a tooth, some bones, those strange eyes - they are wonderous things. By their very nature the world cannot accept that they are pieces of 'The Ungluix' because the Ungluix cannot be known to certainly exist) - so perhaps they are permanent zeros in the world, JOKERS IN THE PACK, and if you get your hands on some you can almost force them to be what you need, so long as it makes sense. I'm imagining here something like a PT Barnum Exhibit, but its actually from a real impossible interdimensional predator but it seems to be almost anything, or everything else, including a ginned-up fake, but perhaps whatever you can persuade people it is.

- Those being Hunted by the Ungulix

What could be done with someone being hunted by the Unglulix? The only way to save them is to get them off the sauce - or drug they are on, or heal their mind, in which case they may well decide that they were imagining the Ungluix all along.

People don't believe the Unglulix is real. That doesn't necessarily mean they don't know about the Ungulix at all. Perhaps the culture has adapted and regurgitated the Unglulix concept, the idea of them was immediately absorbed from Leptoblast and turned into a 'meme', being - the Unglix is the monster that old drunks think they are being hunted by when they fall over or go into rages - like a version of 'pink elephants', so that if someone turns up and says they encountered the Ungulix, well its ridiculous, sad and a little pitiful and look at the mess they made of their walls.

There are a range of ways the PCs might encounter them;

> They guard an old drunk, but stay aware, they never encounter the Unglix themselves but hear the sounds of crashing and banging and see the old fool running from the house - very sad!

> They are guarding an old drunk but they do *not* stay aware, they get drunk or high and... THE UNGULIX ATTACK! a battle is on and if the old fool gets dragged away then the PCs have to answer for it, all they can say is that the Unglix took them, so they are arraigned for murder and conspiracy. (Also they themselves are not really sure what really happened. Strange wolves? Bandits wearing masks?

> The PCs are hired to protect an old drunk but get them off the sauce and behold - the Unglix is gone.

> The very sad and horrible idea of the Ungulix hunting old people with dementia - is there even a way to permanently defeat or ward against it? 

> Can you get real wasted and follow the Unglix into the topsy turvy world - I mean that sounds utterly reasonable to me, maybe you can make some kind of drunk bargain with the Unglulix toothed goddess 

- The Wards of the Ungulix

Lets say that, like sharks, getting bits and pieces of the Ungulix can ward against them, they don't want t go too near the bodies of their own kin. Of course no-one really knows what these strange doodads are and they seem like the leavings of a carnival curio cabinet or the back room of a shop that sells incense. But the effect is good, fill your house with bonkers curious and mad taxidermy and the Ungulix will stay away.

Building models or fetishes of them - and leaving them upside down in the ceiling or under furniture - if the Ungluix sees another Ungluix from a different pack it will assume they are already hunting here. 

- Treasures of the Ungulix

- The knobbly scaled skin. Make leather of this and you won't be see, and if you are see, you won't be believed. Write your conspiracy theory on this and you will be believed, at least from those who read it from your own hand.

- The funky teeth. A necklace of these delirious fangs would be good protection from Witches and madmen. You won't lose your head in dreams or astral projections and your memories cannot be read.

- The terrible eyes. Children using these as marbles will give correct divinations, but only if the questions are phrased in terms that make sense to the childs world-view. Children lose interest quickly and once given an Ungulix eye cannot be repossessed. If one rolls a bunch of Ungulix eyes down stairs they continue past the lowest floor and if you chase them you can gain access to the "other floors".

- The warped spines. More like most of its bendy skeleton. Baffle audiences! Use it as an 'Oddity Hook' - a pseudo-grapple that gives you access to unlikely spaces. Use it to escape those guards chasing you! Where will you end up? Anywhere in the Multiverse! It’s worth a try maybe?

- Post-Ungulix Comedown

Even after you have an adventure with the Ungulix you are so fucked up from it that you can't really decide if it was real or not - was that a drunken dream you had, were you all wandering around wasted and not really knowing what you were doing? 

An ungulix adventure should be like strange violent dream, things should fade into each other, you don't quite know how you got places - rapid scene changes, things cutting out in the middle, not saying or doing quite what you intend the way you intend it - roll a fumble - scene change! roll a crit? flashback?

- Ungulix City

A place where everywhere is nowhere, where the Ungulix live and eat people with knives and forks, here they are fine fine gentlemen and we are beasts who crawl upon the walls. Why would you go there and can anyone ever get back?

Saturday, 5 June 2021

What would Imperial Gothic sound like?

 How would Imperial Gothic actually sound if we could listen to it?


Of course this will only be even slightly possible if we assume a massive slowdown in the rate of language drift.

Proto Indo-European is about 6,000 years ago. Fragments of core word sound remain, so if you are listening to those descended languages they do all sound different to something like Chinese or Khoekhoe.

But Imperial Gothic is, as they say on the front of the box, 40,000 years in the future, if language change continues at the same rate then any spoken tongue would be so different that even the wildest projections based upon what we do know now would be totally inaccurate.

English has perhaps slowed down in its shifting, the last 500 years at least would at least be generally comprehensible to each other. Some of this must be due to printing, and the expansion and integration of different populations - is it fair to argue that the rate of language change in human culture slows down a LOT over the next 40,000 years?


I will also imagine that English, or more likely something that has some strong influence from English, remains important in human language.

One reason this might be the case is the way English is closely locked in to a lot of the scientific and technical language of the world. People speaking very non Indo-European languages seem to have an easier time learning English than the other way round and lots of scientists speak it or a version of it to communicate in.

Still I don't imagine the actual English language remaining.

I would argue that what might remain is a combination of phonemes; word sounds and voice-shapes, syntax, since the pattern of a language is much more resistant to change than its individual parts, and some scientific and technical terms, since those seem 'sticky', like legacy programmes locked into the structure of technology which, even when replaced, might generate symbols of themselves in the systems that consume them, like the 'recycle bin' in a drive an 'IP Address' or 'Boyles Law'.


I imagine a growth and massive mutation of English, absorbing words and concepts from all cultures, blurring together with them, over millennia, changing in its contents, and over tens of millennia, the 'technical terms' which provide the unchanging spine of the language of engineers and computer programmers, and whatever super-scientists exist in the future, forms and kind of backwards proliferation in which the meanings and potentialities of those terms are worked back into the everyday language of ordinary people. Like an engineering term describing a glitch or feedback becomes a common term for a mistake or returning and recycling error, until that term itself comes to mean 'mistake'.

So that’s a common lingua franca I imagine prevalent at the start of the dark age of technology.


During the dark age of technology we can imagine a massive expansion of humanity, does this mean greater diversity of language or greater integration into unified tongues?

Well, it doesn't matter because 90% of the population die during the age of strife and 99% of the technical data and non-hardcopy digital records are either destroyed or turned into murder-memetics - or in the case of warp possession, literal bad dreams that eat you.

What remains, and specifically what remains on Earth, is probably a mass, very simplified, argot, based on Tech (but with maybe 5000 years of diversion plus fragments of holdover archived knowledge).
This would make things harder to predict but we have a handy assistant - the Emperor of Mankind and his big project, the Empire of Man.



The Emperor wants things CENTRALISED - he wants the entirety of humanity to be able to speak together (specifically to pay him taxes and so his crusades can be organised) so wherever he conquers (everywhere) he is going to enforce a single language of state. HANDY.


The Emperor fucking loves old empires and human history. He is one of few people who remembers them. So where possible he will probably, like with his buildings and his military, try to reintroduce a 'greatest hits' of Human historical language usage. Also handy for us.


Though he probably started from and adapted from the basic argot of age of strife Terra he (being a massive autocrat) will certainly have taken steps to engineer Imperial Gothic in ways which reinforce the structure, uniformity and stability of the culture that uses it.


BUT - also like an autocrat, we know there is a 'High Gothic' (sometimes represented in books by Latin) and a 'Low Gothic - a demotic version of the language.

Nothing that surprising about that. In Rome the elite all spoke Greek, during the Renaissance most of the European elite spoke Latin, I think the Chinese had a version of this too. The idea of the Nobility speaking literally or effectively, a different language which the proles don't or rarely have access to, makes sense and for all we know, may make a society more stable.

It’s here that we re-integrate the descended Sino-Tibetan languages. They, or the word forms and sounds descended from them, never really went away. Can we suppose that people brought up in an Indo-European tongue find it harder to learn a Sino-Tibetan tongue than the other way round?

If the common tongue (Low Gothic) has a root in 'Tech' then it’s likely to be good at clearly and simply describing direct material things. Maybe it’s not a 'poetic' language, with a range of possible meanings to various things decided by circumstance and context, but quite a brutal "i will do this" "this thing will happen than that thing" kind of language.

So High Gothic, I imagine as drawing much more from the Sino-Tibetan and general South Asian word and sound pool, and, as a reaction to, and deliberate differentiation from, the practical and physically descriptive nature of Low Gothic, I imagine it being bestrewn with varied meanings and suggestive interpretations.

Mastering the varied possibilities is part of proving yourself as a noble, its not meant to be easy, its meant to be hard, and even within that to have layers so different versions of the aristocracy can do status games with each other.

I imagine High Gothic to have a lot of the Tonalities from Chinese and other Sino-Tibetan tongues which Low Gothic doesn’t have. You can produce very complex variations in meaning and suggestion by adding the layer of tones and they are very hard for someone without a lot of resources and experience to learn and master – it’s a 'master' language.

So my final analysis is;

If you were listening to someone speaking Low Gothic it would sound a bit like someone with a foreign accent rapidly reading out single syllables from the back of a scientific textbook, and very occasionally, maybe once every 1,000 words, you would hear a fragment of a sound or phrase that you almost recognised, like "somethingsomethingsomethingnegativfreqsomethingsomething". But of you could take the time to learn it, if you were an English speaker, you could probably do so reasonably well. All the words and concepts would be different but sentences and word ordering would be much the same.

If you were listening to High Gothic, I think that (if you were an English speaker) it would sound like someone speaking a schizophrenic mangling of the above tongue, but in a Chinese accent, with lots of non indo-european words, lots of tonal shifts you couldn't quite trace, and probably softer, slower and more sonorous. Like a child singing sad garbled pseudo-Chinese, as opposed to the more guttural, faster and aggressive sounding rat-a-tat of Low Gothic.