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Worldbuilding!

Discussion in 'Make It So' started by Exohedron, Sep 11, 2015.

  1. Gyro Zeppeli

    Gyro Zeppeli Pseudo Anti Cult Leader

    I'm working on expanding my old homebrew RPG setting, and it's definitely gone through some refinements since a friend and I began to come up with it.

    The basic idea is that it's a setting that diverges from Earth some time in the 19th century. In this setting, the Earth's core is actually a magical dynamo that produces Mana but is usually constrained by the layers of magma and rock that encircle it. The invention of widespread oil drilling led to large amounts of Mana being leaked out, enabling humans to manipulate magic and jumping science to a level beyond even modern-day science.

    Unfortunately, leaking all this Mana was ultimately a destabilizing element, and over time the magical dynamo grew unstable. Ultimately, this resulted in an Earth-shattering explosion, rendering the planet into a network of habitable chunks orbiting the Earth's core. Everyone more or less knew it was coming, and the "races" of my setting all stem from various groups that survived in various ways.

    The Races:

    The Technocrats - Aristocratic clockwork liches, more or less. Basically, all the world's rich people left on big spaceships and waited for the dust to settle. Problem is, their machines didn't work so well the farther they got from the planet, so they had to get rid of life support. By the time they return two centuries down the line, they're borderline alien clockwork robots who want to reclaim their holdings.

    The Humblekin - Dispossessed Druids. Made up of the poor and working class, various disparate groups of people managed to eke out a living protected by particularly gifted magic users from among the poorer classes. Over time, this reliance on "wild" magic led them to abandon technology and more or less become the wood elves of the setting. They come in different flavors and don't represent a unified faction, so the Humblekin in Moscow are different from those in Glasgow or Los Angeles. Some just want to break stuff, some want to carve out empires, and some want to be left alone.

    The Jade Alliance - The Dwarves of the Setting. Made up of most of Asia, the Jade Alliance was a pre-catastrophe trading-pact that evaded the catastrophe by hiding in underground complexes, some of which survived the shattering. Unlike the Technocrats, their technology continued to function and develop, though the culture that sprung up during the centuries underground eventually came to resemble an odd mish-mash of Islam and Confucian ideals. By the time they come topside, they're ready to start re-forming society and establishing trade routes once again.

    The Ancients - African Elves. Unlike the others, these groups largely survived unscathed, the native faiths resurging and taking the advent of magic well, able to shield their territories by guiding the energies away. Once the shattering had settled, the various groups were united by the Neo-Egyptian Ancients into a stable empire deeply rooted in magic and tradition, seeking to unite the rest of humanity peacefully.

    Along with these groups are various beasts and uncategorized species, having been changed and mutated by the huge amount of Mana that was released during the shattering. While the non-Technocracy groups did manage to survive relatively unharmed, they did change enough to form their own subspecies of human due to what Mana leaked through. The Humblekin tend to be gangly and long of limb, average height around 6' as adults. The Jade Alliance tend to be 4'6 or so on average and are very stocky. The Ancients remain largely unchanged, with pointed ears being the one notable exception.

    Now that all the groups have emerged from the Shattering, the four major powers are officially at peace but all of them are jockeying with each other for territory to reclaim. Travel between the floating planet chunks varies depending on who owns it and what group you belong to. Technocrats might have some ridiculous chariot pulled by robotic pegasi, Humblekin would conjure up giant butterflies to ride, Jade Alliance would probably just build a bridge or fly a plane over, and The Ancients would magically pilot ships from place to place.

    Though these are the major powers settings and motivations, there are nonetheless civilians and individuals that do not necessarily act the same. There are nice Technocrats and evil Ancients, and most people from every group are just meta-humans trying to survive. As such, there is plenty of room for small-scale adventuring groups and big-scale political intrigue as well.
     
    • Like x 3
  2. Starcrossedsky

    Starcrossedsky Burn and Refine

    I am absolutely in love with the idea of the technocrats.
     
  3. Gyro Zeppeli

    Gyro Zeppeli Pseudo Anti Cult Leader

    Thanks! Them and the Ancients were the initial ideas, while the humblekin and jade alliance were brainstormed by my group
     
    • Like x 2
  4. Starcrossedsky

    Starcrossedsky Burn and Refine

    started going through a fantasy worldbuilding checklist and immediately began laughing awkwardly to myself at questions like

    "How was your planet created?" "by natural planet-forming processes like gravity and star-waste, for fuck's sake"

    and

    "Is there a higher being, or a pantheon of them?" "nope, you sure can tell this was written by an atheist, can't you"

    awkward noodle atheist noodles atheistically
     
    • Like x 2
  5. Wingyl

    Wingyl Allegedly Magic

    There's a crossover (Days of Wasp and Spider/Undertale) I started on in which the planet it takes place on was made by a 'god', which was an 11-dimensional sapient pattern of...something. It did this because it was bored and needed something to do, and learning how to warp physics to make planets, life, etc was interesting to it. Eventually it ran out of things that it could think of and learn, so it went and made people by changing an already-existing species, providing language by dividing itself up, and what was left of it became self-replicating automatia at the bottom of spacetime.

    To quote the canon of Days of Wasp and Spider: "What was left of the Pattern curled up in the realm of shortest distance and shortest time, waiting for instructions."

    Said 'instructions' are what allows people to do magic and must be given by a neural net or simulator thereof via a crystal-one crystal, one function, except for the Creation Stones (get all 6 together and you can do anything) or the crystal horns of the species created by the Creation Stones.

    Days of Wasp and Spider has three sapient species: Dogs/the People, burrowing canids who believe that they're the only sapients in their world; sapient horses/servitors, winged unicorns who were created by Dogs who found the Creation Stones and used them to create biological robots (then later genetically modifed their robots to be more powerful, adding a mind-control spell to each foal to keep them obedient), and griffons, who were created solely by genesplicing and are kept in line via shock collars.

    Crossover has the Dogs role filled by humans and the servitor role filled by monsters, but I don't know what the griffon role would be-can't be monsters, they can all do magic and would therefore all be banned from fighting because it might teach them how to slip their bonds or make them realize that they're actually quite powerful and therefore that humans aren't Basically Gods to them.
     
  6. ChelG

    ChelG Well-Known Member

    I'm trying to work to properly set up a city in my 'verse. What I'm going for is Victorian London riddled with various magical hazards; old traps intended to fend off enemies in wartime, random magical fallout, shit the locals do to each other, wandering monsters... Any help on getting the balance of awful and liveable right? How dangerous could it be before people just left? Ideas on how the locals would adapt? I'm sort of inspired by this and this and this, but I'm not very good at getting the right weird and unpredictable tone. Maybe some SCP Foundation influence too, except the weird shit isn't locked away and people have made their own containment procedures. The story starts from the point of view of some homeless kids, so they'd naturally be super vulnerable and thus would have to find ways to adapt.
     
  7. Wingyl

    Wingyl Allegedly Magic

    Note for anyone with an avian species featuring in your worldbuilding: birds wag their tails.
     
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  8. ChelG

    ChelG Well-Known Member

  9. OnnaStik

    OnnaStik Relatively nice for a bloodthirsty mercenary

    Fallen London does this by making death often impermanent- you may not want to go with that specifically, but you might get a bit of feel for the balance by playing that game? (Yes I want to pimp it everywhere but it's still relevant!)
     
  10. Wingyl

    Wingyl Allegedly Magic

    Yup! It's not like a dog wagging its tail-that happens constantly when the dog is excited. Instead, what happens is the happy bird will rapidly shake its tail from side to side (the tail goes so fast it's basically just a blur) for about a second or so, and depending on the species can mean either 'relaxed and happy', 'relieved', or 'excited'. It's frequently done after stretching, which birds usually only do when feeling relaxed.
     
  11. OnnaStik

    OnnaStik Relatively nice for a bloodthirsty mercenary

    ...or, apparently, "needs to poo".
     
    • Like x 2
  12. Wingyl

    Wingyl Allegedly Magic

    Hah, that's slower. The rapid, wide movements of the tail express emotion, slower, smaller movements are sometimes done by a bird before they poo.
     
    • Like x 1
  13. ChelG

    ChelG Well-Known Member

    The first trap I thought up for the new kid to encounter would be a harmless one which makes your outer clothes invisible, for the purpose of detecting weaponry. Good way of showing that she needs to be super careful and listen to the oldbies without causing sufficient harm to disable her from being involved in plot. By this point she's already been in a fight with other street kids so physical danger is established. The gang live in the upper storey of a wrecked house with something horrible which isn't defined living in the lower floor and get in through climbing the drainpipe to avoid it.
     
  14. Arxon

    Arxon Well-Known Member

    I've always wanted to make a world where the magic works like absurd video game glitches. Run into a specific wall for five hours while holding exactly 53 pebbles and you will pop through with a hundred thousand dollars. Pick a fight with a dog, then spin in a circle and run into a 7 11 and you'll meet god and he'll give you a hundred cans of coke. Of course sometimes someone just accidentally walks into a room wrong and everyone in a square mile becomes terrifying spider limbed monstrosities but that just how life goes.
     
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  15. The Phoenixian

    The Phoenixian Not an eldrtich abomination, but getting there.

    I've considered posting this here in the past, and now I will.

    ---------------------------------

    There are stars in Sheol, but not by nature. For the longest time, the sea was not ken to fire.

    Sheol, the deep sea, lies beneath our world of fire, dust and ash, connected to it only through the force of gravity and a few rare interactions. It's skies are dim and clouded red for energy there is far sparser and more diffuse than in our world. Some would think that because of this Sheol is a dead and empty place where little happens.

    Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Energy may be sparse in Sheol's seas, but travel is not. Varieties of what we call the warp drive was invented, not by great empires, or by grand philosophers, but by Sheol's earliest bacteria. Of the thousand times life has come to pass there, more than a hundred have managed it. Most of the rest have learned to harness the others or hitch rides and it has been eons since.

    The true nature of the immaterial sea is not one of endless disparate emptiness but one of builders and travelers.

    Pilgrims set off to meet their gods, or make them. At times whole societies can be captured by such fervors. Many even manage to succeed in finding their creators, building their utopias, finding their promised lands, bringing worthy heirs into the world, or one of the many other things that might be called divinity.

    Traders ply their wares, secrets and specimens gathered from across the range of a galaxy, reaping the spoils of many further such secrets and artifacts of machine and life alike. More often often than not, this becomes a nomadic existence, never returning to the places from which they set out.

    Civilizations spread out from their origins like a ripple stopped only by social collapse or conquest, uncountable Napoleons, Khans, and Alexanders embark on endless wars, never needing weep for the end of their world.

    With a world so vast, even life itself travels as often as it builds. Countless plagues, of flesh and thought alike sweep across those skies, leaving ruin at their backs. With infinity before them, there is little need to leave anything behind.

    In our material world, it is said that history is what is written by the victors and survivors, to be read by their successors. In Sheol, history is what you leave in your wake.

    And perhaps, had things remained like that, we never would have known the truth of the immaterium. But there in that red seas, there came to be the smallest of things, a creature somewhere between lichen and coral and, quite by chance, it attained the ability to extend part of itself into a new world. It was there, in the depths of gravity wells, that it learned to feed off of the boundless fire of another realm.

    Our realm.

    With great speed those creatures grew and changed. The more energy they had the better able to adapt they became and the larger they grew, learning to delve ever deeper into the places of heat and power until they themselves blazed like beacons in Sheol's red darkness. Thus was born the first star of the deep waters and its makers became the Rephaim, the Giants. Indeed, it is these things of coral* that are the ancestors of all souls.

    And as is ever true of abundance, travelers flocked to that place under a thousand banners. Settlers desperate for fertile regions, scholars seeking knowledge, traders wishing to amass their wealth of secrets and power, and conquerors hoping to claim that Might for themselves.

    And so too all things that lived, seeking energy as inevitably as rain seeks soil.

    And so forced to deal with a myriad beings, seeking their power for countless reasons, the Rephaim encountered the forces of intellect as well as nature, and were forced to adapt. With the Might born of the heat of stars and world they sundered armies**, and with the cunning born of insight and age, the armies learned how to defeat them regardless, conquering the young Domain before learning to carry them to new sites on which to build their empires.

    The upside of this, was that when those civilizations collapsed and when the voyaging plagues came, many of these new colonies of Rephaim survived it time and time again as each new empire found them useful enough to preserve. Until at last, in a sea brightened by not one star but many, one group of the Rephaim had the occasion to realize not merely that they were, but also that they could be even more, and so named itself "I AM."

    It must be noted that the intelligence that the Rephaim developed is greatly different from our own. While each individual of the group is capable of thought, all members of a host of Rephaim are in constant communication on a subconscious level. The mind that arises out of this constant communication thus could be thought of as the character of a shared fiction; A god brought to life by the belief of the populace who then serve as the god's many hands.

    For the most part, "I AM"'s focus was inwards, primarily interested in self betterment and almost solipsistic in focus and outlook, dealing with the world beyond itself only so as to attain what it needed for it's goals. The first shock to this came when the boundless blue flame from which it drew power died, and the Rephaim were forced to retreat to other colonies. Thought each new mind named itself "I AM" in turn, each was subtly different from the original as each star was its own offshoots of the Domain with its own histories.

    What was shared among all the descendants of the original mind was a realization. Even their own race could find destruction if they were unprepared. And so, in a six different ways, a six gods naming themselves "I AM" set about their preparations. And from the fruits of their labors, each star would gain new conception of themselves and in turn attain a new name.

    Of those six the first to change one simply learned to spread itself quickly far and wide, abandoning the need for the inferno and so said "I AM MANY." The second held that not adaptation but forceful expansion was the answer and so said "I AM WAR." The third, more patient and cunning than it's twin decided it did not need force of it's own to win when so many others desired it, and so said to itself and them "I AM ENTICER" Another deemed it best to learn the crafting of machines to complete, spread, and even replace parts of itself, and so and so said "I AM MAKER." As the first and third before it , the fifth too saw the power of the many and speaking "I AM KNOWLEDGE" it set to learning from all its siblings and all the more ephemeral creatures all around it.

    The final of the six did not change, instead deeming that only the direction of it's study had been wrong. Longevity was the key, not of itself, but of the flame above, and so it set to learning what none else knew. In time, it grew eyes, with which to see the world above. In time it learned where its progenitor had erred. And when it was satisfied with its knowledge, it grew towers, tall and proud and built within the flame above a beating heart.

    And there, perhaps, it erred. For so mighty and so grand were those impossible towers --- so bright the light, so wild the wind, so deep and resonant the thunder --- that it could not help but be enthralled. And so the last creature to to name itself "I AM," rent its mind in two.

    Of this moment, there is a legend, or more accurately, a recollection.

    There is a tree that grows in the sea, inverted. Its leaves shine in deep water, its roots anchor themselves in fires of the sky, and where its trunk breaches the surface, there is an endless storm.

    The heart of that tree is a tower, miles wide and still so high as to make it appear slender. So high it seems to almost bend backwards as it reach its zenith and taper into a hair thin strand. A vast array of creatures and plants take what they can from it, and great groves run it's length to beam out power when the creatures of the star can take no more. A river of starstuff, intermingled and yet out of phase, is constantly moving inside it.

    That pillar is accelerating, constantly, holding steady only due to the precision with which the sheer force of warped space around it resists the pull of gravity. The resulting uneven pressure turns the burning heart of the flame above into a geyser, extending it's life. Even here, with Sheol sparser matter, the resulting wind howls like the storm at the end of the world.

    It is but one portion of the creature that calls itself "I AM" and there are countless more, both like it and unlike it. Yet this one is different, disaffected with it's source.

    The howling wind and endless thunder, the power of existence are what define it, not the slow burning fire of solipsistic identity. This existence, where eyes are turned only inwards galls it. It would see beyond itself; refine the sea and the realm fire; ash, and dust alike; and share this Might. It's greater self does not share it's vision.

    In time, it would reconnect with the rest of itself, perhaps in subsumation, perhaps to refine the nature of it's greater self. It does not wish that. It would forge its own self, and show to all the Sea its glory.

    And so, it changes.

    With a voice of wind and thunder it speaks of passion and power to it's greater self. Of worlds unseen, things undone.

    And pieces of its greater self feed on that, joining it in song, other towers, other creatures, from the star's depths to the outer reaches, becoming one mind, nascent within the expanse.

    And when it is done its own self stands with it, and that nascent spark accelerates, leaving the star in a pillar of fire. "Wind and Thunder" who is the tree of passion and power, is born from "I AM"'s heart and at last travels to find a promised land.

    Behind it, the fragments of its progenitor line up, distortions of gravity focusing light, and beaming it into towards the twelve, hundred thousand mile towers and myriad creatures that now scream into the void.

    It is a first and final gift from parent to child. Fuel for the journey. So does the prodigal son leaves the father, bearing his inheritance.

    -------------

    Time passes. It's destination approaches.

    A great star lies before it, too large and not long for the world, but that can be corrected. It will steal the divine flame from the heart of that furnace and forge it anew.

    Idly, it thinks that that too is a good name. Perhaps in time there will be kin born from it, bearing such a name.

    But first there is a world to reforge.

    It is at this point that our knowledge of the other ancient Rephaim wanes, for it is this particular star and storm god --- "Wind and Thunder," Vishente as he became after his name was first transcribed--- who is our bridge to the past.

    Of the others, we know that they would in time forge an empire of their own, for the treaty of the covenant was born of their war with our ancestors. We even know some of what became of them.

    But it was Vishente who set the stage for that war, and he who, along with the distant descendants of the hungers for knowledge and multitudity so also set the stage for it's ending.

    So let us return to the past, and the prelude to a world.

    That place in which the Storm God arrived was a world unready for itself and so, like many invasive creatures, it utterly dominated the region in which it found itself. Perhaps less destructively than many of Sheol's being, but still more than enough by virtue of being a complete ecosystem in its own right.

    As the living sun reshaped the world to its will, it grew without limit. Even as it bartered, and listened, and storied, and boasted with those around it, it took ever more of the stuff of Sheol into itself.

    And in so growing its voice attained a property: It became convincing. At first persuasion and slowly more, many with which the Storm God spoke would slowly be drawn in to become yet another arm feeding the ravenous maw. To convince others that more size for it brought more light, more vitality for them. And then further to convince them of the rightness of its nature, of the virtue of power and grand display. Of all the things that made it what it was.

    For the being that would one day become Vishente, it was a necessity; For a creature of its prodigious size, to maintain the coordination that allowed its existence could not be achieved with communication alone, however fast, but rather required that its many instances reacted to events with one will. This is the basis of all of the Rephaim and yet the living sun far exceeded them in its capacity for communication and will to spread its nature, not merely among those coral like Rephaite things, but among all that lived in Sheol's skies.

    And so once more and yet far greater than any time before, the whorling red skies of Sheol grew clear as the living sun devoured them.

    With clarity the light, the voice, and the power of the living sun grew yet brighter and reached yet further. That voice and that promise of protection and vitality attracted more of Sheol's life and with a might born of numbers more and more of the world beneath was drawn in to become part of the sun, in a cycle that continued for over a hundred million years.

    But two billion years time is long, and in time the things of Sheol grew wary of the voices of the stars and so turned their backs to them.

    And so the living sun, anchored by it's very nature and deprived of a world without, had no choice but to turn its focus inwards. In once sense it decayed, no longer able to grow without limit.

    And yet on another level it still grew as, aeon by aeon and era by era, it continued to survive and refine itself. From this, it also saw the world above in a light that the things of Sheol had not before. Not merely a source of power to be perfected, or a map of gravity to guide them, but also a curiosity to be explored and a bauble to be toyed with.

    It explored and experimented planets and space and the nature of the world above and in so experimenting and aimlessly gardening that reality above it would come to both find and greatly influence a rich abundant world, full of life. And on that world would come to pass the Yarrim.

    And in time, life born of dust and ash and the life of the seas would come to speak with one another, and between them forge an enduring union.

    And as for the other Rephaim? Those the living sun left behind? One might think them lucky, to not descend into isolation and decay with it, but in truth their end was far worse.

    War and toil and bloodshed stains their past almost beyond memory, but at some point there came an inevitable decision; Sheol is a place of plagues and conquerors by its very nature. The ease of travel and the advantages of self containment make it so. For an intelligent race it is only natural, if terrible and flawed, that on coming to this crossroads it might conclude that where there is disease it is right to annihilate it, that where there are conquerors who would burn civilization it is right to burn them from the world first. In this the Rephaim differ only in the power they wield. And once their answer was found to succeed, they fell further to it and it became quicker and more willing to use again.

    If to burn the world to the ground can destroy the greatest of enemies, it can also destroy the least of them. If it breeds new foes it can destroy them too. If it makes foes of brothers, they too can be fought with that same answer. What does a thing so small as the world matter to beings who are complete unto themselves?

    Sheol amidst the light of the Rephaim is not like Sheol beyond them.

    It is much emptier.

    -----------------------

    AN:

    So yes: Sheol. A place of dark matter "beneath" galaxies (and also dark energy given that it has natural warp drives) where life thrives. I don't usually conceive of Sheol as all dark matter and dark energy, just one specific subtype. Though given that the universe is expanding faster and the amount of dark matter within galaxies seems to be increasing, one might imagine that Sheol quietly violates conservation of matter, and so while the material world that we know can be compared to a fire that will eventually consume itself and burn to ash, Sheol is an endless sea that simply grows ever vaster.

    Footnotes:

    *The likeness of the Rephaim to Lichen and Coral both is a matter of their nature: Like lichens they are colonies of many lesser organisms and like corals these colonies build structures of non-living matter to support themselves. Though it is worth noting that most corals do not, in fact, build the equivalent of fully functioning nuclear submarines. Still, in Sheol every organism needs to get around somehow. A sessile existence isn't much of an option.

    **The Rephaim are one of the few races to discover both robotics and nuclear warfare before civilization. More notably, they also survived it.

    ----

    Lastly, a couple abstract symbols for the Living Sun, a simple one that shows it's origins clearly, and one more complex and removed from its origins, to be used both for Vishente himself and also that specific portion of Vishente and similar rephaim that feed on the star's core:



    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
    • Like x 3
  16. Arxon

    Arxon Well-Known Member

    I just wanna plug Vulgar bc its a miracle website
     
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  17. Arxon

    Arxon Well-Known Member

    Trying to decide whether or not to set a story in an original world or our world like....can I just invent a small Mediterranean country.....
     
  18. Lampad

    Lampad New Member

    Fictional European countries have a long literary history; they're especially common in novels about royalty or spying. You can definitely just invent a small Mediterranean country, if that's what works best for your story.
     
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  19. Arxon

    Arxon Well-Known Member

    Thank you for this reassurance, my brain had somehow decided it would be like. Offensive in some way.
     
  20. Exohedron

    Exohedron Doesn't like words

    The reason that making a Gate kills the mage making it is that the Gate-building spell is actually an adaptation of the Final Strike spell (a Final Strike is actually a Gate spell with only one end). Who knows how many mages died before someone figured out how to anchor the ends of the Gate to physical objects, allowing the Gate to persist past the death of the caster?
     
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