Search This Blog


Saturday, 25 August 2018

The Arachnid Invasion of Fernveld

There's an interesting pattern where I get some loose idea for a game, throw it in the idea pile and forget about it until the idea randomly pop back on when I'm looking for something else.

The ONLY picture of a spider in this post
because I am a wuss afraid of the damn things.

The Arachnid Invasion of Fernveld!

The land called Ferveld is a suitably generic locale for down-to-earth D&D antics: a remote wilderness region with semi-isolated settlements. The region itself can be as fleshed and interesting as I need it to be but conceptually it doesn't need to be anything unique because it's what is going to happen in that region which matters more. And that something is a mass-invasion of disgusting, horrifying, giant creepy-crawlies.

It's become a D&D staple of associating Dark Elves with spiders and this here is no different. Could I make these Dark Elves more interesting and unique? Sure, I could but it doesn't matter because within the confine of this game all that need to be known is that they are A) evil invaders from below the earth and B) breed monstrous spiders to attack the surface-dwellers. Indeed, the main enemies of such a game would be an endless horde of monstrous spiders bred to be bigger, meaner and smarter. Like arachnid attack hounds, in a way. These creatures would pour over from every unguarded hole to the dark realm below, from every sewer, every dungeon (explored or not) and cause utter chaos as they first eat the livestock and then people.

The first sign of the spider invasion would not be spider themselves but rather goblins or kobolds or some suitably crummy low-HD monster which dwell underground. Their underground lairs taken from them by the advancing spider hordes they would spill over to the land in spite of how much they loathe sunlight. These would be hordes of angry, hungry and terrified goblins/kobolds with nothing to lose. When these pathetic creatures fall, there would be a brief moment of relief. But then come the spiders. Small ones, at first, isolated cases even but they would slowly eat away at the local ecosystem. Forests, already foreboding, would become covered in cobwebs where the local wildlife and even predators such as wolves are found in cocoons, eaten alive. Livestock would disappear soon and people would retreat behind the city walls and into the keeps. However, as one would expect, walls are of little use as defense against spiders. People will grow increasingly hungry, scared and isolated as more and more land is taken by hordes of semi-intelligent spiders.

The Spider Types

Spiders are creatures I personally loathe and am terrified of, which is all the more a reason to use them. They are truly fascinating creatures with a great variation in shape, size and methods of hunting and killing. Combining these ideas with magically-augmented breeding from the Dark Elves would open up a staggeringly large variety of spiders both grounded in reality and fantasy. Even if more than 3/4 of the enemies in such a game would be a type of arachnid you could still see a terrifying variety of tactics and situations emerge. And that's not even getting into size variations! The classic web-weaving spider is but one variety of spider, after all.
  • Spider Swarm: Countless tiny spiders crawling over you and eating you alive. Sweet dreams.
  • Scorpions: Not actually spiders but still an arachnid which the Dark Elves could have imported from a far-away land.
  • Jumping Spiders: These are ambush predators with great jumping capacity. They are unlikely to be seen before it's too late.
  • Mimic Spider: Magically-bred to be able to fold their bodies and change texture. Can even fit inside suit of armors and briefly pretend to be a humanoid. Can't speak but can mimic sounds.
  • Poisonous Spider: Many spiders have a deadly bite but these have been magically-bred to have extremely potent poison.
  • Razor Spiders: Not based on any real-life spiders, these creatures have been magically bred to have razor-sharp fangs and legs which make armor less effective as they slice you down.
  • Trapdoor Spiders: Hide in a hole and then jumps you. Part trap, part monster.
  • Web-Spitter Spiders: Have a ranged attack which binds you into place.
  • Wolf Spiders: These creatures, named after the spider type, actively hunt down their preys. Could have been bred by the Dark Elves to be more intelligent and use pack tactics.
A single creature with a staggering variety of means to kill you. Spiders are disturbingly good hunters. Gotta love spiders...

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Elf Replacement: Moon Folks

A hodge-podge post in presenting various, somewhat disparate idea for a 'Moon Folks' race, drawing inspiration from the Lunarian of Final Fantasy IV, Celestrian of Etrian Odyssey V and Soratami of Magic: The Gathering and other disparate sources. Mind you, the idea of associating elves with the moon or another planet is by now old hat and has been done before in Golarion, Pathfinder's setting, where Elves originally came from their equivalent of Venus. The idea was also brought up by Joseph Manola at Against The Wicked City, among many others that can't be recalled right now but swear I've read before. I figured I'd give it my own spin as well as slowly shape my ideas for a JRPG-esque setting, as highlighted here and here.

Tamiyo the Moon Sage by Eric Deschamps

The Moon Folks

The being called Moon Folks do not call themselves that. What they call themselves no one knows, but they have been around in history from time to time, never gathering in one place on The Planet to form any coherent nation but enough for archaeological records to show they were around. Most Moon Folks who come down to The Planet tend to be broadly split into a few categories. There are the agents (who serve some higher power or political figure), who tend to want to set themselves up as advisors to powerful individuals (think like Merlin) or as some wandering magician serving some higher power (sort of like Gandalf). Then there are the exiles, who flee due to some crushing defeat of either themselves or their allies and who abandon their homeland to become land-dwelling mortals. Some of them can be great heroes (or at least sire them) but others are foul villains with sinister agendas.

As a race, the Moon Folks do not fall anywhere on the Good or Evil side: if they fall on any side it is most likely beyond human comprehension. They never really side with any cosmic force of absolute destruction, however, safe for some fallen and twisted individuals. They live for centuries and when they die their bodies turn to light and vanish to grow into Moon-Pearls at the bottom of their lunar seas. While capable of reproduction, for the most part their society is one of reincarnated spirits made flesh, living off in their crystalline cities tended by magical homoculi and other weird things which would populate a late-game JRPG city on the moon. Moon-Folks are notoriously disconnected from nature, as they live in the bizarre and mostly-sterile landscape of the moon.

Physically, the Moon-Folks vary greatly in appearance, which is shaped by arcane forces and bizarre eldritch rules only known to themselves. While a sizeable portion of them do look like ethereal and beautiful humans with light pastel or white hair, some displays odd traits like truly elongated, almost rabbit-like ears (think 'anime elf ears'), horns, feathers for hair, three eyes or seven fingers and toes. They rarely look monstrously deformed as these alien features tend to be delicate and well-formed...but they certainly look alien and weird.

Moon Folks Adventurers

Most Moon Folks encountered on The Planet are adventurers: the rare few who aren't generally have managed to earn themselves a rather cozy spot from which they can either observe or influence the world, such as the aforementioned court magicians, prophets or sages. Questing moon-knights and wandering sorcerers travel far and wide in search of purpose and hidden truths and only rarely do the Moon Folks ever create a village or outpost for themselves: these tend to be secret bases and hidden villages built to guard places of great power or pathways between the planet and the moon.

Magnolia, from Bravely Second.
Just how wise Moon Folks are really is...up to debate. Most are ill-prepared for life on The Planet, even if their past incarnations have gone 'down there' before. In fact, odds are that whatever a specific Moon Folk remember is centuries out of date anyway. In spite of their smugness many of them fumble at basic tasks, which can amuse humans. Every generation there are a few Moon Folks who fall in love with mortals and produce offspring.

There tend to be two paths which appeal to the Moon Folks: that of the spellcaster and that of the hybrid jack-of-all-trades. In systems which use multi-classing, Moon Folks should be encouraged to multiclass: a reflection of their many lives and the phases of the moon. It is in Moon Folk nature to diversify their skill set and fighting style. Some do it because they feel the strong pull of a past life while others do it to distance themselves from a past life, such as one who was a Fighter in a previous life now having the Rogue class as this current incarnation is much more two-faced and doesn't really feel like being a master swordsman. Especially if the past incarnation got stabbed in the face by a goblin. This conveniently allows the Moon Folks to use the Elf class from systems where such a thing exist or to use Magic-User with maybe a tweak or two.

Moon Maidens

Cecil Harvey from FF IV, the ORIGINAL
'brooding bishonen' of the franchise.
For the most part, Moon Folks don't reproduce the 'old fashioned way'. Those who reproduce with don't have to produce an offspring which is female...but if you ever needed some mysterious, mystically-gifted and impossibly cute and sweet  blue-haired girl to drive the plot it would most likely be a Moon Maiden. Lacking the wisdom of other Moon Folks, the Moon Maidens are often cruelly exploited and manipulated. Reproducing with humans yield a human offspring (albeit often quite lovely in appearance or magically-gifted but otherwise human) while two Moon Folks reproducing together brings to life an entirely new Moon Folk soul, which grows as a pearl in the moon sea as any other. Often called Moon Maidens, Moon Princess or something equally fancy they don't automatically have to be female.

Some Moon Maidens come into being on their own as part of vague, ill-defined prophecies without having any parents while others still occur when a moon pearl fall to the planet early in it's infancy, birthing a Moon Folk (initially) disconnected from past lives. A few rarer Moon Maidens are born of human parents either due to, again, ill-defined prophecies or the mother being exposed to the moon pearl which transfer the unborn life to the unsuspecting woman or, in some cases, a man whose next child will be a Moon Maiden. These Moon Maidens born of human parents tend to share some resemblance to the parent but tend to have some odd, tell-tale sign of their inhuman heritage.

Monday, 20 August 2018

Capturing the style, feel and aesthetic of JRPG

Trying to bring to the tabletop the style of the JRPG is nothing new and it is something I've loosely worked on-and-off on before. Recently I've been playing Radiant Historia and my tabletop group and I briefly discussed the idea of running a tabletop campaign which draws heavily upon JRPG.

"I like sword."

One disagreement which quickly emerged was what elements of the JRPG style were more important: one of my players argued that, if one was to run a JRPG-style game using any D&D edition or any retroclone, then that there should be some mechanical simplification as to better emulate the older games I was referring to which tend to be very static with the now-infamous 'everyone standing in line waiting for their turn' style of gameplay. Now I, on the other hand, would argue that trying to perfectly mechanically emulate JRPG is the wrong approach simply for the following: the classic-style JRPG gameplay emerged as an abstraction of the older tabletop RPG mechanics. They were meant to be a crude simplification of Dungeons & Dragons because the Famicom/NES could not even remotely handle anything more complex.

Personally I would argue trying to emulate the mechanics of JRPG is pointless because they are basically just that: abstractions of ideas and concepts already existing in tabletop decades ago. So then what would allow one to emulate the style and tone of the more classical JRPG from the '80 to the early 2000 (with a few outliers and callbacks in this decade)? Well, I would say that you can very much channel the style, tone and feel of these games and worlds with whatever edition of Dungeons & Dragons you intend to play.

The main inspirations and generally what is in mind are, in no particular order:
  • Final Fantasy I to X
  • Final Fantasy Tactics, Tactics Advance and A2
  • Bravely Default
  • Chrono Trigger
  • Dragon Quest
  • Breath of Fire
  • The Legend of Dragoon
  • Tales Series
  • Golden Sun
  • Fire Emblem (Not a JRPG but relevant to eastern RPG)
  • Radiant Historia
  • Xenogears
  • Etrian Odyssey
  • Disgaea (Not a JRPG but definitely fit more to this mold)

Brighter Worlds

Yoshitaka Amano is a goddamn master.
In spite of all the jokes in the early 2000 about 'emo protagonists', the worlds of JRPG are (barring some exceptions, especially the Shin Megami Tensei series and spinoffs) are at least ostensibly bright, colorful, full of wonder and filled with all manners of quirky elements. While these games often do become increasingly darker as the plot advance, in general these tend to be comparatively lighthearted worlds.

There's a bit of a joke about cliche fantasy settings going around, be it so-called 'generic fantasy' settings to the OSR blogosphere cliche setting. While I very much love dark, moody, grim and gritty violent sword & sorcery settings filled with cults, eldritch abominations and death where the characters are morally ambiguous mercenaries living in or around a corrupt empire and the ruins of past civilizations as much as the next guy these are a bit less in-tone with the JRPG. True, any of these elements can exist to some extent but they are invariably downplayed in most cases. Which brings me to the next point.

Archetypal Characters and Ideas

The most important work in JRPG history.
Yes, seriously.
As much as the newer Final Fantasy titles have increasingly caught flak for their convoluted-to-the-point-of-stupidity narrative, the key elements of the success of past JRPG titles was their story focus. Was the story any good or any meaningful? Debatable. The thing is, however, is that earlier JRPG (especially early Final Fantasy) copied Star Wars in the best way possible: they understood the power that clear-cut archetypes held. The best JRPG tend to generally introduce things in very broad and poignant archetypal ways even if they intended to later flesh these out in the story. That is where their reputation as formulaic or cliche come from.

A game which strives to be more like JRPG should not try to 'subvert' cliches, at least not early on. There should be a strong sense of archetypes and symbols, be they from public consciousness or having evolved in JRPG themselves as conventions. Heroes and villains should be clear cut mold, or at least begin as such. Likewise, the politics and economics of the setting or the overall culture are far less important the archetype and imagery: you have the good Kingdom/Republic, the Evil Kingdom/Empire. Maybe they have a specific style or design to them but beyond that everything is in service to that archetypal image.

Shameless (and often meaningless) Symbolism

Not only do JRPG love archetypes, they also love to heavily borrow from mythology and religion. Now this is hardly new to tabletop RPG (which JRPG did spring from) but it bears repeating for the sake of being accurate to the older and more iconic titles in the genre, especially early Final Fantasy. Words are important. Words have meanings. Now is said meaning really entirely relevant or just some fake symbolism added to pretend to be 'deep'? The answer is: it doesn't matter! One should use as many cool and obscure-sounding words as possible within reason of not sounding like complete gibberish. Sephiroth would most likely not be as a remembered if not for the fact his name A) sounds cool and B) the Kabbalah is not exactly something teenagers playing videogames in the mid to late '90 knew about.

Of course not every word which has meaning is gibberish: many ancient and outdated names often have some meaning. Drawing upon mythology and history to find some cool-sounding names can go a long to give the setting a veneer of style above and beyond using some poor random faux-medieval name generator one found off Google.

Make weird shit up

After carefully looking at all these mythological symbols and archetypes...randomly insert any idea one find cool and/or weird. Classic JRPG are notoriously bizarre at times, with weirdass monsters, oddball locations and mish-mash of setting elements which pretty much make no sense. In fact, there should be a sizeable amount of weird things which seemingly 'just exist'.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Godbound In Space: Machines

Machines of war come in all shape, form, size and level of complexity. There is as much variety in the form and function of synthetics as there is to organic life, if not more. Synthetics are defined as anything which has a monster/NPC statblock and whose body is predominantly made of machinery and inorganic materials, from rank and file mass produced combat droids to towring unique cybernetic colossus pulsing with reality-warping energy.

Robots are the simplest of synthetics: nothing but a metallic chassis, the necessary hardware and software and maybe a few built-in weapons and gizmo. They lack any kind of meaningful intelligence beyond carrying out their mission. These creatures are comparable to Lesser Undead in function and purpose.

Proper Synthetics are more complex machines and rarely fielded in mobs: these creatures range from more complex and intelligent robots to full blown sentient war machines to mechanical organism. Hunter-Killers exist to isolate and rapidly eliminate specific targets while War Machines are juggernaut of the battlefield either due to massive weaponry or their ability to support allies. Destroyers exist to bring to bear planet-wrecking weaponry while Colossus are mobile fortresses. Intelligent Synthetics are not above retreating from battle: not because they feel fear but simply because they know being destroyed in that specific moment would not advance their programming. They will never retreat in a panicked fashion.

Greater or more unique synthetic beings can be represent using the appropriate statline from some other creature. Assume it has all the communities which come with it's lifeless mechanical body. The Artificial Intelligence Concept Word is a good place to start.

In generally, machines have somewhat lower-than average AC and mobility (being clunky) but very good accuracy. A mob of Battle Robots or Elite Robots can outgun any near-human mortal army thanks to all these targeting systems inside their metal heads which compensate for any deficiency in aiming the current situation may cause.

Machine Type
Battle Robot
By Weapon
Elite Robot
By Weapon
Artillery Robot
1d12 Straight
Big Robot
+8 x2
Synthetic Hunter-Killer
+10 x2
1d8 Straight
Synthetic War Machine
+12 x2
1d10 Straight
Synthetic Destroyer
X2 Auto
1d12 Straight
Synthetic Colossus
X2 Auto
1d12 Straight

Halo 5 Guardian concept art(?)

Machines Powers

The cold, endless ranks of the machines are anything if not varied: every planet, every corporation, every would-be death cult has it's own variations born from a mixture of their own engineering genius (or madness), local materials, manpower and whatever caches of Ancients technology they may or may not have reverse engineered.

Usually only Synthetics have such abilities, as Robots are just crude automaton.
  • Targeting Systems: Commit Effort On Turn. Enemies count as having AC 9.
  • Shield Capacitor Mandala: Commit Effort On Turn. AC become 3.
  • Self-Regeneration Matrix: When reduced to 0 HD can Commit Effort to return to 1 HD unless the machine has been destroyed by an effect related to the Word of Artifice/Invention/Artificial Intelligence or something which grant dominion over it.
Of course, any lazy good GM will recycle the mechanics of pre-existing Gifts. Anything from shooting lightnings arcs via massively tesla coil limbs (Sky gifts) to sonic weaponry (Music gifts) to complex defense mechanism (Endurance Revenge or Protection are good places to look) are expected to be found integrated in synthetics. Usually Hunter-Killers have gifts which help them maximize rheir lightning-fast killing while Destroyers and Colossus tend to optimize raw area-of-effect damage and endurance to enemy fire. War Machines are the most various in form and purpose.

Kerberos Defense Golem

These hulks machines are primarily designed to defend certain locations. Massive, towering, foreboding and often ornate they are tireless guardians of ancestral temples, military industrial complex, planetary cathedrals and key planetary defense installations. While intelligent, they are dour and single-minded for their singular purpose: defense.
  • Stats: Synthetic War Machine
  • Standard Gifts: Defy the Iron and Ward The Walls

Spartoi-Type Command Eidolon

Where the Kerberos is patient (if rather dull), the Spartoi is the utter opposite: granted a more complex mind and an increased ability to think, these machines are designed to be synthetic commanders and icons which tower over the troops to inspire them. Their greatest strength is also their chains: they are blindly patriotic and motivational. Some would say that, as far as machines go, they are zealous to the point of suicide.
  • Stats: Synthetic War Machine
  • Standard Gifts: Will of the Spear-Throne and Voice of Command

Vajra Battle-Titan

A massive imperious colossus brought by the ancestors of the Dulimabaian, the Vajra Battle-Titan is a massive and ornate centauroid monstrosity which crackles with obscene power. It's mind is simplistic but proud and requires complex mantra and prayer activation sequences in order to be properly deployed into battle.
  • Stats: Synthetic Colossus
  • Gifts: Fury of the Heavens and Unbreakable.
  • Words Bound: Sky, Endurance.

Godbound In Space: The Arcem Sector, Part 4

So far the previous post have focused on the major players in the Arcem sector, their society and to a lesser extent their technology. These are generally considered to be part of the more 'mundane' world. Technology may be extremely advanced in the Arcem sector but it is still considered to be mostly mundane technology in the sense of Clarke's Third Law. The divine powers, meanwhile, are completely and utterly reality-breaking.

Unlike the core Godbound setting there isn't really a central origin for player characters: a being is considered a 'Divine' if it is not only able to use Effort and Gifts but also if it is able to use miracles and enact changes via Influence and Dominion. These represent fundamental changes to reality which utterly violate the laws of physics as we understand them rather than simply bend them in a soft scifi way. A good example of this violation of the physical laws as we know them would be the creation of entirely new matter, such as a being bound to Wealth having the ability to just pop into existence a cache of extremely rare minerals used as currency on a planet. Simply put, regular soft science gizmo bend reality to a near breaking point and divine-level powers flat out rewrite reality whether it make sense or not.

The Arrayed - Artificial Godlings

Need source on this.
Introduced in the deluxe version of the Godbound rulebook, the Arrayed a form of artificial divinity. The Ancients very much treated their reality-warping divinity as a form of science and they have left a staggering amount of usable data when it come to the creation of prosthetic divinity, Of course, creating an Arrayed is not cheap and could bankrupt entire solar system-spanning empires. Creating them is more than just creating high-end cybernetics, massive genetic tailoring sequences, complex synthetic organs and soul-grafting metaphysical properties. All the major factions of the Arcem system (Bright Republic, Patria, Dulimbai and more) can theoretically build an Arrayed champion: in practice very few of them exist.

The Arrayed are more than costly transhuman champions: each of them is a massive undertaking which is taxing not only to the resources of a great power but also to theotechnicians themselves not to mention the volunteer. Creating them is equal part scientific knowledge (genetics, surgery, cybernetics, nanotechnology or even more complex and odd sciences) and a mystical experience which demand complicated rites and hours upon hours of soul-cleansing meditations from all those involved. As a result, the Arrayed champions are very much treated as gods or at the very least an abstracted avatar or ideal of their nation or faction.

In the major nations of the Arcem sector, these specially-created champions tend to come in two drastically opposed flavors: there are those who live in the open as champions of the people (or, at the very least, the regime). Their names and faces are known by all the children who look upon these synthetic gods and icons with awe. Given that most Arrayed candidates are immensely gifted individuals by nature, it is likely these men and women could have already been famous before, as those few Patrian Arrayed which exist are invariably war-heroes whose faces adorn propaganda posters just as much as cereal boxes. On the other hand are those synthetic gods the people do not know of: the knives in the dark, the cruel enforcers of the regime and the hidden defender who are able to achieve more without the public's eye on them.

Not every Arrayed looks like a cyborg. Some have drastically different appearances depending on their Word, how they manifest it and how they were created. Some are perfectly formed idealized near-humans of the appropriate genetype while others created via more exotic sciences could look drastically different from their original form.

Divine Intelligences - Deus Est Machina

The Divine Intelligences are so much more than mere AI: they have complex multi-dimensional softwares designed to interact and alter matter down to the molecular or even atomic level, rewriting reality like code is rewritten. Their synthetic matrix are not made of zeroes and ones but rather of multi-leveled energy waves, thoughts-mandala, synthetic chakra pathways and other weird-but-cool-sounding pseudoscience bullshit. Unlike other synthetic gods, the Divine Intelligences were never alive to begin with, being created by advancing and granting sentience to pre-existing divine datastreams harvested from the Celestial Network or being born ex-nihilo. Divine Intelligences are obviously built using the Artificial Intelligence concept word but they may or may not be also a form of Arrayed depending on the concept.

Officially, the major powers of the Arcem Sector do not make use of full Divine Intelligence, only limited forms of synthetic minds bound by complex mantra-protocols which limit their thinking to that of their assigned task. However it is not to say their greatest theurge have not built Divine Intelligences in the past, especially Dulimbai and Patria at the height of their wars. More than a few war-torn corners of space are haunted by armies of hunter-killer cybergolems remotely operated by rogue Divine Intelligences whose minds have been twisted by the war.

More than a few techno-syndicates and illegal theurgic guilds have built or been hijacked by Divine Intelligences: these beings are, after all, among the smarter entities in the known universe and able to move between receptacles. This make hunting them down and eliminating troublesome. The Divine Intelligences allied with or running the various cabals, syndicates and guilds across the Arcem Sector are quite powerful due to their reach.

Posthumans - Mortal Plus

The term posthuman here is used to define a being which operate close or at the level of a Godbound, using Gifts and Efforts without actually being able to tap into the fundamental cosmic forces and rewriting reality as the divine-level beings can. These beings are drastically more potent than the average near-human and sentient xenotype but their abilities remain purely within the realm of (almost) plausible. These beings obviously are statted via the Peak Human concept word.

Posthumans can come in a staggering variety, as they basically are a step up from mortal heroes. Some are simply amazingly and ridiculously gifted while others are the byproduct of lesser theo-eugenic lineages meant to produce some sort of space ubermensch, 
as the Patrian and Dulimbaian once attempt in their past, as did the Ancalian. Others still are created, much like the Arrayed: either as unique individual experiment or created in batches as part of some sort of super soldier program. Others are warrior-monks trained from birth to achieve a perfect mastery of their physical forms.

Yoon-Suin: Soundtrack of the Purple Land

Skerples asked people about a Yoon-Suin soundtrack. Here's my contribution to the matter, which is sadly incomplete as I've yet to fully assemble for myself a decent and complete soundtrack to use for Yoon-Suin.

Action Music

  • Endless Legend OST - Embrace the Agony (Link)
  • Endless Legend OST - The Battlefield (Link)
  • Endless Legend OST - The Battlefield II (Link)
  • Endless Legend OST - The Battlefield III (Link)
  • Mongolian Folk Music - Mongol Archers (Link)

Music Mix

  • Endless Legend OST - An Ancient Wail (Link)
  • Endless Legend OST - In Undertones (Link)
  • Endless Legend OST - Still Angry (Link)
  • Endless Legend OST - Trade Routes (Link)
  • Metroid Prime 3: Corruption - Bryyo (Link)
  • Metroid Samus Return - Chozo Ruins (Link)
  • Beautiful Indian Music - Mountains of India (Link)
  • Beautiful Indian Music - Taj Mahal (Link)
  • Beautiful Indian Music - Tales of India (Link)
  • Mongolian Music Part 1 (Link)

Ambience Mix

  • Indian Sitar Tantra (Link)
  • Indian Sitar Raag (Link)
  • Tibetan Instrumental Music - Tibetan Temple (Link)
  • Tibetan Flute Music + Om Chanting (Link)
In fact, just go and grab these new age bullshit music for any kind of 'background noise' music to mix and match with sound effects loop.

Monday, 13 August 2018

Godbound In Space: The Arcem Sector, Part 3

Not every civilization in Arcem is that of a planet-bound society. There are those, out there, which straddle the line between being a civilization and a faction: too mobile and/or far-reaching to be a simple planet or system-bound culture and too vast and numerous to be merely a faction.

The Kasirutan Fleets

Space fleet mobilization by Chia Shin Yeh.
The Kasirutan were the naval nobility of the invaders which brought the ancestors of the Dulimbai people but ancient grudges, political maneuvering and other reasons lost to history have made them into spaceborn nomads: traders, explorers and pirates. Today no Kasirutan has ever been born on a planet as they spend all their lives living aboard their ships. Natural-born spacers, they find it difficult to adapt to environments with gravity without specialized suits. They tend to be pale, elongated people and many sport modifications to allow them to exist in exotic environments in order to trade with xenotypes which near-humans may not normally interact with due to how different their environments are. They have a strong ancestral cult (with common roots to many similar  religions in Arcem) and are known to make their ships (and thus home) into elaborate tombs as well, carving the name or faces of famous ancestors onto the hull while having entire sections serve as catacombs. A few rare artifact ships retain the neural pathways or even the complete soul-data of famous ancestors who now act as ship AI.

The Kasirutan are often considered near-psychic, many of them having lesser posthuman abilities (read: Low Magic) which allow them to interface with their ships (some of which are Artifact), control said ship through a soul-interface and plot complex courses through the stars. Of all the people in Arcem they are the only one to regularly leave the confine of the sector but what they find out there is, for now, a secret. Inside Arcem the Kasirutan are known as great merchants and are one of the few which dare leave the pre-planned spacelane to take shortcuts.

The Black Academies

Techno shaman by Tamer Poyraz Demiralp.
The great (and often shunned) arcane techno-theurgic sciences are an ancient, complex craft. Originating from the Raktine Reach region between Dulimbai and Patria the Black Academies began as a conglomerate of the most brilliant minds from a few star system which wanted to be neutral in the war between these two powers. History does not recall who first proposed turning to forbidden theurgic technique of void-summoning but he or she damned the Raktine theurge: in the modern time they are in exile, living in foreboding void fortress and feared by all yet also reluctantly respected. These fortresses are societies of their own, where insane law, mad decrees and the stuff of nightmares is the norm, with people drawn from all manner of tributes across the sector and shoved into the depth of these fortress as manual labor.

Each Academy has a drastically different culture, rites and secret techniques with only summoning of dreaded void-entities and binding them as a common craft shared by all Black Academies. Each respective academy believe itself to be either superior to all others and/or more 'pure' in their legacy. The Black Academies are an unmatched independent faction solely dedicated to their studies, power and self preservation, Not necessarily in that order.

The Raktine Orders

Art by Gabriel Santin.
A byproduct of the foundation of the Black Academies and their sworn enemies. The Raktine Orders are wandering warriors, mercenaries, space knights-errants, monster-hunters, interplanetary paladins, and curse-eating mystics. Much like their sworn enemies, the Academies, they have their roots in the Raktine Reach yet nowadays have become a society/faction unrelated to it and composed of many groups unrelated to the inhabitants of the region.

The various Raktine orders are military and religious in equal measure but that doesn't mean they can't or won't commit dirty acts in spite of their projected image of honor. Vicious slayers of many unnatural beasts, especially void-summoned entities and Ancients bioweapons they often will stop at nothing to end the threat: it is only a matter of perspective and approach which varies for these orders. The Raktine Orders are generally well-respected and often have many worlds who have sworn ancient oaths in exchange for the service of the Orders. At any time these worlds can have resources tithed to help the Raktine Orders on a crusade.

Godbound In Space: The Arcem Sector, Part 2

The Bright Republic, Patrian Regime and Dulimbai Directorate may be the great powers of the Arcem Sector but they are hardly the only civilizations within such a region of known space.

The Oasian Monarchy

Need to find a source on this.
It was called 'The Oasis': the single inhabited world within one of the more remote parts of the Arcem Sector. Everything else was either highly volcanic or toxic and some say the Ancients hadn't had time to finish terraforming these newly discovered (or created) worlds safe for a single one which settlers named Oasis.

In these harsh (yet rich in resources) planetoids the early settler formed societies centered around massive pyramidal arcologies. developing their own culture and way of life away from what would become the Bright Republic, Patria and Dulimbai. In time, it became a monarchy. The monarchs of Oasis however were not content with merely being the mortal and near-human rulers of their new society and turned to increasingly more complex genetic engineering in hope of recapturing the posthuman glory of the Ancients: today the elite of the Oasian are inbred beings of great metaphysical and psionic often the cost of their sanity or any physical beauty. Much like the earlier Oasian hid the harshness of their arcologies and mining complex behind baroque metal decorations the nobility of the Oasis hide their hideous and failing flesh behind baroque power suits, metallic skin prosthetic and gaudy holographic displays, appearing as shiny golden gods over eight feet tall. Some are impossibly muscular while others are shriveled with bloated cranium while others still display a much stranger form.

Nezdohvan Stewardship

VR buffet by Nico Navarro.
True artificial intelligence is often seen as taboo across Arcem and the various superpowers are quite keen in keeping whatever artificial intelligence they use under a strict control. Nezdohva is a constant reminder of what happen when organic minds turn to the purely synthetic and allow it to run loose and eventually assume direct control. On the planet Nezdohva, the greatest techno-theurges succeeded in creating a machine intelligence which would be the direct continuation of their esteemed leader, allowing him to not only cheat death but grant this machine intelligence the perspective of a human mind. Mere minutes after activation his neural pathways were completely assimilated by the mechanical intelligence which mutated and grew in capabilities far beyond what the techno-theurge expected. 

Today Nezdohva is ruled by machines. All organic citizen are chipped to keep track of their whereabouts. Citizen were stripped of their name and history and now only carry names related to their function in society. The mechanical elite of the Stewardship are the only ones given proper individuality, resulting in a bizarre society where machines are, in a way, less machine-like than the organic citizen. The eyes of the machine intelligence are everywhere, ever-watchful. Dissent is not tolerated and those who do not comply are sent to be reprogrammed to reinstall in them a sense of duty. Recidivist are mind-scrubbed and turned into fleshy automatons, part of their skull and faces replaced with hideous machinery. They do not speak. They do not think. They only work for the glory of their robotic overlord. (Did I say overlord? I meant protector.) Why the machine intelligence has not done this to all citizen is a mystery: some believe it may be showing some twisted form of mercy while others believe it is insane. 

Vissian Corporate State

Cyberpunk City by Iroshi(?)
The people of Vissio generally scoff at the idea that they began as a Patrian colony in the early days of the regime. What began as off world colonies soon became thriving societies eventually led by a powerful merchant caste which grew rich from being the neutral ground between Patria, Dulimbai and other powers as well as a rival to the Bright Republic. In time, corporations came to dominate to the point they supplanted all parts of society.

In many ways Vissio is the dark mirror the Bright Republic and what it could become. In other aspects, however, it is not the hell hole one would think it is: true, it is a cutthroat place where the rich and powerful rewrite laws to suit themselves on a daily basis but it is also an extremely lively center of art which is one area the corporations have never trample on immensely, if only because Vissio being seen as the trend-setter for intergalactic culture and fashion is excellent publicity. And excellent publicity is something Vissio likes. It boast some of the most beautiful, vibrant and culturally rich cities in the Arcem sector....surrounded by hideous slums, shanty-town and drab habitation blocks. Cybernetics are more common in Vissio than the Bright Republic but the average individual tend to have implants which are technologically inferior and more intrusive: as a result it has become common fashion to decorate these implants with bright colors and LED patterns, turning what would be an ugly chunk of grey metal jutting from one's skull into a colorful display.

The Tribes of Arcem (Bleak Reach, Toban, Howlers and more)

Art by Leonardo Borazia.

The people of Arcem generally consider each others to be civilized folks with commonalities. Not so much for what are called 'The Tribes' by those who would call themselves civilized. The Tribes are not a common people but rather refers to the tribal, religious, feudal and semi-feudal societies which exist around the edges of the known space lane. These are a mixtures of the pre-Arcemite people (some near-human, some truly alien) which had either found a home there, been planted by the Ancients or even had naturally evolved on these worlds. These are not remotely a singular, united people but rather a mirror to Arcem's societies which developed in it's own way.

How did people come to live on isolated worlds between the known and safe paths? There are many scenarios: many of the earliest settlers were forced there in ideological, religious or ethnic conflicts lost to time which happened early in Arcem's history. These early people could have ended up dominating and assimilating with the natives and in time would have become a unique society: such was the case with the exiled soldiers of proto-Dulimbai who colonized the plain world of Toba. Others, like the Mandalese isolated themselves to developed unique theotechnical research only to be obliterated by their own creation, reverting to a more primitive state. More recent still, these feral and unknown worlds have swelled with pirates, political malcontent, insane cult leaders, deranged scientist and would-be galactic overlords.

The Thousand Gods are feared all across the sector: ancient and unknown planets and asteroid fields seeded with altered life to suit the needs of the Ancient experimenter and their attempts to further understand the reality-warping power of the divinities and their ability to control the 'code of reality'. Centuries or even millennia later these laboratory-worlds would be pillaged by invading near-humans or by the alien life which evolved in their shadow, primitives eager to recreate the gods of their myths. Parasite Gods, cybernetic eidolon-golem and thoughtform avatars are all commonplace there and openly worshiped as the gods they are. Others still worship not gods but mighty techno-theurge who have become as gods and are well under way toward a potential true apotheosis, such as the Witch-Queens of the icy planet of Ulstang. Others still, such as the Lomite refuse to believe in anything in spite of having divinely-powerful artifacts at their disposal and are in utter denial of everything.

Art by Lorenzo Napoli.
There is no standard when it come to these societies and, indeed, they are lumped together solely based on the fact they are not like the rest of Arcem. These are worlds who can range from the stone age to possessing extremely advanced science such as nanotechnology or soul-grafting. Of course, there is a good chance this technology has gone down an unexpected path and is tangled up in unique and unusual rites which are sometimes pure fabrication and in other cases completely necessary. New religion, new technologies, new culture, new species: these can and have happened in these so-called barbarian lands.

In recent times, powerful and power-hungry factions have turned their eyes toward what was once a neglected no man's land of 'savages and mad gods': some believe that, if one power is to rule the Arcem sector they will need the support and power of these gods, both young and new as well as all these caches of ancient technologies their societies are built upon.