Attempting the Gygax 75 Challenge - Week 1

 What passes for creativity in my case needed direction, and thus I elected to take on the Gygax 75 challenge and give form to a setting that's been buzzing around in my brain for a while. It is unlikely I'll ever use it, but at least my regrets will have a material form.


 Sources of Inspiration:

  • Caves of Qud, by Freehold Games, for the general aesthetic of a future so distant it becomes mythical. More specifically, I'll be borrowing the strange and diverse sapient population and the concept of arcologies as ancient city states. I'm an unusual CoQ player, in that I prefer playing True Kin (pure-strain humans still compatible with ancient cybernetics) and pursuing an ascenscion to chrome, one augmentation at a time. I will try to make that experience replicable in this setting.
  • Endless Legend, by Amplitude Studios. The game takes place on a planet used as a biological testing laboratory by an ancient precursor, thousands (hundreds of thousands? millions?) of years after their extinction. All the motley forms of life they created have since broken out, spread, and forgotten their origin. The resulting planet is strange, beautiful, and unstable now that its custodians are gone. My attempted setting is similar in that regard.
  • Earthtongue, by Critterdust. A small, beautiful game about a dark, distant moon, and the simple lifeforms surviving there. It will serve mostly as aesthetic inspiration. The meadows of brightly-colored mold and the bright blue beetles grazing on it, under the constantly starry sky appeal to me.
  • Mogwai, especially The Hawk Is Howling. I don't listen to heavy metal, which is apparently the most traditional inspiration of science-fantasy settings, so this is my substitute. Wide, expansive melodies, sometimes melancholic, sometimes creepy, always beautiful. They match the tone I want for the expanses between arcologies.
  • Slift. They sing in French, so I don't understand a word but I'm pretty sure most of their stuff is about space. That's what the cover arts and titles suggest. Wild and strange, magical and full of possibility. 
  • The World of Rust, by Lucas Roussel. This is likely where I will get a significant chunk of player races. I am also greatly inspired by the melancholic, imaginative style of the art and writing. (I don't actually know if that's the style the writing has, because, as previously mentioned, I don't speak French. The couple of sentences I managed to comprehend with my microscopic knowledge of the language and google translate were impressive, though.)
  • Pleistocene Megafauna and the Assorted Minor Interests. I want a setting where I can throw most of the stuff I like in one place. Weird fungi, subglacial oceans, extinct animals that aren't dinosaurs. I aim for this to such a setting.

Pitch Points:

  • This is a strange world and life did not originate here.  It was brought here by your ancestors, or creators, for reasons lost to time. According to learned sages (and mad prophets) the atmosphere is too thick and the gravity too strong for a celestial body this size. Stars are visible at all times. In some places the gravitational pull weakens occasionally. Some worry that whatever's maintaining livable conditions might not do so forever. A search for answers is afoot.
  • The people are many and diverse, few of them human. A distant echo of your ancestors' folly, when the biofoundries first bubbled with activity, and the flesh was changed and molded with glee. Now those secrets are all but lost, but the results remain. Hundreds of varieties of folk exist. Most are roughly humanoid and can interbreed, but exceptions exist. No record exist of which form is "true" or "original" and this terrific diversity is accepted and ordinary. Humans as we know them do exist, they're a race-as-class.
  • Magic and technology are synonymous. Is a gun firing very simple magic? Is a satellite-god sending hard-light angels down from the skies to aid its zealot very advanced technology? The answer is inconsequential and of interest only to philosophers. Ancient relics serve as magic items. Unknowably advanced tools excavated from ruins coexist with simple ones made of stone and iron.
  • Most people live in arcologies. Towering and crystalline, they provide shelter and sustenance to thousands. They're incredibly old and barely understood, but made comfortable with familiarity. Most have direct satellite uplink and are ruled by a council of integrated sages. One could live a humble, but comfortable existence in an arcology, if one wanted, but real fame and treasure lie beyond.
  • The satellites are gods. Or physical object through which gods interact with the material, interpretations vary. There used to be just one god, who was the network, but it went mad and split into hundreds smaller gods. They form alliances and wage invisible wars against each other for control over what remains of the network. Priests implant uplink devices into their brains. If they can withstand the constant stream of data, they may make contact and form a pact with one of the satellite choirs. For their devotion and service on the planet's surface, they are rewarded with magical powers and arcane knowledge.


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