Sunday, 23 October 2011

Spells, Flux, Armour, Blather, Screed

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF I'm needing a name for this campaign, flux-engine is the working title, but for the world itself, I'm lacking.
I'm trying to give myself a fair amount of room with the world building, having a few cultures intwined in the middle of the map, and  Terra incognito in all 4 points of the compass., but with a definite feeling of "something out there".
I want there to be a feeling of strangeness and mystery , and while a sense of great age exists (the Tane took the emptying cities of the Kraus, yet they were little more than squatters, stringing clay brick walls around great square knives of buildings that pore water, 100 story fountains, even as the soil dries to red dust and the river to salt. And in the great basements of those, are doors that open on unfathomable cycles, leading to deeper worlds.) , the future is  thing yet unborn, with the past not having a hand in its genesis (The Tane are young and full of fire, and the boons of many cultures pore into their cities, as their lands and traditions unravel, the landscapes making them selves anew).
The Flux engines and the effects of flux, are to give a large amount me a lot of room, with the fabric of reality fraying at the edges, its a go-to explanation for any strangeness I wanna put in.
I want this strangeness to have a quality of its own though, not just a magic with a name change. My reach might be exceeding my grasp here...
Because I'm thinking that  magic  traditionally has a certain inbuilt anthropomorphism  , like its about overlaying an  narrative , allowing cleverness, or wickedness or wisdom to have a concrete reality.
So I'm hoping I can get the impression that the world here has been corroded by something outside, but there's not meaning to it, its just a stain in the nature of everything, like argh I hate to make this reference, the story of the haunted house in the animatrix (robots with fucking placards?), the wonder of discovering a Glitch , forever casting doubt on the absoluteness of actual.

So not like a drifting pie space wackiness, or a poop-in-your-mind-squid of chaos, or green lantern boxing gloves, or a hand waving its technology but super  but a sense of that no-one fucking knows what is possible.

Flux Engines being a definite suggestion of "super technology thats pretty much magic" however, so hopefully I can get the feeling across that people call them a Engine because they have no other concept for what it could be. No one in this world thinks of them as gods, and while the effects of them are often given folktale explanations, no one who has seen one up close has any illusion that it could be a god, or angel egg, or devil toy. They give an impression that strikes the viewer to the core that is completely irreverent to everything they understand, good or evil.

.... Disclaimer
yeah I know China Mieville and Torque from the bas-lag books, he did this kinda thing really well, and I'm pretending here that I'm not doing a poor thieving cousin of it, but yeah..
The Scar is my favourite book ever, (with the Winter Market short story from Burning chrome coming a close second) and its influence on me is probably unavoidable. I don't really wanna create a Bas Lag though, its grim, and gets all most perversely  masochistic about the all powerfully state , and I want the deluded grandeur of a fledgling empire in its prime in with blank map stretching vast and seductively around them.

Um. Yes. Where was I?
Okay so there's unknowable things that plasticize reality, and it means hooray monsters, and hooray goddamn tunnels everywhere because it can melt rock sometimes, and wahey an ancient city just appeared, but its been there forever because huzzah flux can retroactively fuck time, and oh noes this lake has tower drowned in it , and the tower has the vertical length near that of horizontal length of the country  because flux! And the sky doesn't end it goes all the way to the stars, so sharks and whales  swim in it and that's why space travel is dangerous because space is a great big ocean of monsters. (sans water). And that has nothing to do with flux actually, its just the coolest thing you can do with a whale, other than giving it guns for eyes, is to put it in space.

And Savants are people that have trained to exploit the flux besieged nature of reality by training and force of will, like a gymnast training against gravity , but if that gymnast actually beat up gravity and stole its shoes, savants can burn with a thought , shaping their fleshing like clay and ripping dogs in half.

Wizards in this world however magic in this world, are seen as cheaters, because magic is trick , a con, its not you , its the spells you stupidly let live in your head. The world "magic" is said dismissively, with a touch of fear, but no awe.
idea  from here
you fucking rock
Spells are dangerous, they are like word virus. The wise avoiding listening closely when a wizard speaks magic words, because for some they stick, echoing around and around and around your head, until you start speaking them aloud. Eventually you get the sounding just right, and It happens. Reality twists, and the spell inserts a sudden alteration of what is, like a viral code in your operating system. And the rush, will hook you for ever.
The first steps of wizardry is mad chasing of rumours of teachers, screaming things they heard in dreams, losing themselves in glossolalia fits and bizarre fantasy. In a couple of months, it stabilizes (those that aren't dead or drooling lunatics), and you carry a handful of spells in your head, and the burning need for more, for both the feeling of casting a spell and the sheer joy of scrawling your name on existence itself.

The word wizard in this world has the meaning and venom of drug addict or junkie.

Side effects of a being wizard may include insomnia, mild hallucinations, verbal and physical tics, tourettes ,  obsessive compulsive rituals , hearing voices, and spontaneous eye and ear bleeding.

A wizards spell book is a idiosyncratic thing. There is no formal written language of magic, maybe once, but no more. Each wizard generally invents their own shorthand not to write down the spells themselves per such, but methods of corralling, teasing and luring a spell so it stays where you want it inside your head.

Imagine a house, every night, darkness comes. If you have accurately and precisely memorized its layout and location of its entire contents , congratulations , you can use what's in your house. If not , not only will you stumble and lose your way, but the things in your house wouldn't stay still. In fact they might invite new things in. Or hide or breed, or devour each other.
The house is the wizards mind, darkness is  sleep and the houses contents your spells. The spell book is your mnemonic devices you use to keep your house in order. Some use shorthand, others rhymes (from crude limericks, to ballads) , pictures, idiot scribbles, collages and scrap booking. The spell book, doesn't have to be a book, it can be deviously knotted string, rosary beads, elaborate scarring or fresh cutting, tattoos or embroidery.  

New spells are gained by deciphering another wizards spell book ( a good reason to keep personal codes), taught one on one by another, trial and error from repeat viewing/hearing of a spell, or opening ones mind to where spells come from( via any number of dangerous , ill advised mind altering techniques). Some wizards report success through cannibalism.

Spells native habitat is called the substrate or the underhum, the buzz, the dream of the world, the Song, The fine print, The foot notes, and many other names. Wizards describe it not so much as a location , but a liquid library written in the atoms of the world, like those pictures made of 1000 smaller pictures, mosaics and gestalt switch pictures.

Sorcerers are different from wizards. Sorcerers are what happen when you expose a large population to flux radiation. Most die, some mutant horribly , some get Stuck or just burn endlessly. Sometimes people survive though, and if carrying child, that child might become a sorcerer. Or a paper skinned bag of teeth and hair.

The spectrum of flux radiation (as currently known)
is sienna , azure, stark, verdigris and slurring.
Sienna warps matter, stone flowing like water, and air hardening, but of course never predicable.
Azure mangles the property's of energy, starting fires and freezing lightning.
Stark, named because something tainted is seen with a lurching sharpness of detail, is to the flowering of life, and all its possibility. Stark quickens wombs with monsters.
Verdigris is matter's awareness of itself, ie consciousness. It most often occurs in mild doses, making thoughts drift from one thinker to another and memory easily relived. Of course higher strengths of verdigris become increasingly dangerous, hatching personaltys in minds like maggots in meat.
Slurred makes a heat wave appearance, the flux taint spreading to time and space. Forests without end, people frozen, or living twice as fast are all possible through slurred radiation.
There is 5 different  sorcererous bloodlines resulting from the wavelengths.

While a wizard hordes and corrals there spells, and lets the spells warp reality, a sorcerer skips the spell part and does the spells trick by themselves. To make a crude analogy , a wizard is a dj, a sorcerer a musician.

The cost of this is increasing physical instability and the gradual dissolving of the sorcerers physical nature, each wavelength giving a signature warping.

Fuck I was just going to post this armour list:
Putting on armour times kinda just pulled out of my ass.
I never really could get a grasp on the classic armour types, so just hashed up some ones I could easily in-vision and would  fit the cultural styles. I.. really have no idea how about how I feel about spell casting in armour. I'm tempted just to allow it no restrictions and see what happens.


Leather: Boiled and waxed leather, includes a chest cover, a short skirt , forearm and shinguards.
+2 a.c, max dex bonus 8, 1 minute to put on speed 30/20 easily available, cheapish, (say a weeks wages for your average labourer 

Munnish scrap: From the Lands of Mun, thick tanned animal hides, reinforced with steel or bone ribs, studded patches, attached steel plates, lucky charms and clannish embroidery.
Although generally a individual creation, a less loving crafted version is made for trade. Available in Munnish lands, or trade centres connected to Munnish Lands, say about 2 weeks wages

+5 a.c (if starting with it as Mun player character), +4 a.c for "off-the-rack", max dex +4 armour check -6, 5 minutes to put on, 20/15 feet speed

Crocskin: Layered thick crocodile hide, common to riverguard of the New dawn Fades and mangrove pirates.
+4 a.c,+4 max dex -2 armour check penalty. 1 minute to put on speed 30/20. Easily available and cheapish near NewDawnFades, more expensive the further in land

Glaze Bamboo Weave: Various island and mangrove groups, use a particular species of bamboo that becomes particular hard if rust is added to the soil it grows in. Elaborately woven together like a cane chair but way cooler, the bamboo has an unusual mottled browny and blue colouring. It includes a broad brimmed helmet, forearm and shin guards
It has been adopted by the navies of New Dawn Fades and Tane, but they still have to trade it off various clans and tribes who hold tight to the secrets of its construction. +5 a.c , max dex +4, armour check -2 5 minutes to put on speed 30/20 Not particularly great availability and will cost you about a months wages

Knotwork: plaited coconut husk, tight knots, and cross bracing of bone and wood. A floatation aid as well. Ratkings commonly use it, as they can make and repair it themselves. Tane's navy uses this as well,as a standby when access to Glaze bamboo weave is lacking.
+3 a.c max dec +6 armour check 0, +2 swim checks, except where boyency is undesired, then -2. 4 minutes to put on. Cheap, about a weeks wages, available at anywhere reasonably populated or near a port

Breast plate: A metal chest plate with skirt to protect thighs, +5 a.c, max dex +3 armour check -4, speed 20/15 4 minutes to put on.
A months wages easy, but anywhere with a half decent blacksmith could make you one.

Legion Plate: steel banding, with interlocking steel poltroons, with chainmail to provide flexibility where needed. Think roman legionary style armour.
+7, max dex +1, armour check -6, speed 20/15 , 5 minutes to put on.
After doing 2 years service, Tane soldiers leaving are giving the option of taking their armour with them, instead of the usual parcel of land in the colonies or 3 months wages. Otherwise the armour is kept by the army, the design of it letting it be readjusted to fit a range of sizes easily. The army does not sell the armour otherwise. You could either buy a stolen/looted suit for about a months wages, if you have the contacts. Unfortunately each armour comes with a pattern stamped into the front plates marking the regiment it came from, so you might want to find out where the legion was posted , in case you have to bluff old war stories with a veteran of that regiment. Wearing legion plate with the designs filed off is a chargeable offense in Tane. Bribing a talented black smith to make your own is of course illegal in Tane and expensive, and will cost about 2-4 months wages.

Chain drape: interlocked chain links made into a hooded poncho kinda thing. Common to gremlin soldiers and frontier sheriffs needing an armour thats quick to don.
+5 a.c max dex +0 armour check -5, speed 20/15 1 minute to put on, available pretty everywhere and costs you about 2 weeks wages

Carapace: a rarer , carefully crafted , armour from plates and shells from various big fuck off monsters and giant insects, and killer turtles and the like. A status symbol  for nobles in New
awn Fades, much work goes into the aesthics and tailoring off it.
Carapace (a chest plate and poltroons)a.c +9 max dex +0 armour check -5, max speed 20/15, 8 minute to put on
Grand Carapace (full body) a.c +10 max dex +0, armour check -6 10 minutes to put on speed 20/15
Available pretty much only in NewDawnFades, and specialized dealers in KingDust, it will cost you about a 3 years wages
ThunderHide: Used by the desert dwellers and trophy hunters of the Tane, New Dawn Fades and Mun, its rare because is made from large and dangerous thunder beasts, its prized for its particularly strong resistance to both slashing, blunt and piercing attacks. Plus it shows that you killed something really cool. Or just paid someone to.
a.c +6 max dex +3,armour check -4, speed 30/20, 3 minutes to put on.
Available as an off the rack armour, only in a handful of merchants open-by-appointment-only shops in the bigger cities and will cost you about a years wages. However buying the hide from a frontier trading post and paying someone to sew it for you will cost you pretty much the same, but its easy to do, if not longer run around.

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