Saturday, November 4, 2017

fifteenth post

this isn't criticism, it's more of "fanfiction", "fan rpging", which in the trpg community is cool bc:
  • it is in many ways necessary to creatively collaborate with the rpg writers, in the sense you are using their writing in a creative process which also includes your players
  • you have to fill in the gaps left in any rpg text
the process of contributing to the "canon" of your favorite movie setting or whatever by fanfictioning yr way into a headcanon is the normal method of consumption for most trpgs. The canon of rpg settings and stories foremostly exists to aid yr "headcanon" so to speak.

also the rpg/fan/writer community is pretty small. there's an air of collaboration. Matt Colville said people used to call Gygax up to ask him rules questions, it's nothing new I guess. I would link it to the general wackiness of playing trpgs with your friends, a kind of magic circle frenzy where you're collaborating while also not stepping on each other's toes. stuff makes me anxious but it's also like the main thing I'm into rn


from "Veins"

In "Veins of the Earth" Patrick Stuart and Scrap Princess have done the necessary work to outline a unique vision for the "underground world" so common to dnd-style fantasy. Nominally I think the universal undergound is appealing because dungeons, the underground, caves sort of are the basis for a lot of the hobby-- you go in a dark place full of monsters and come up with gold. In the "Veins" you don't come back up, tho.

"Veins" though lacks some critical elements which I think the book explicitly tells you to fills in yourselves, in a aside: "(Yes it would be great to have a settlement generator in here but the book was already HUGE and I needed all that space for madness generators, darkness types and insane art works. You can probably make up your own using the monster section. We will put one in a sequel if this book doesn't bankrupt the publisher.)" -pg 352 (italics mine)

Being a person who wants to run "Veins" I sketched some city ideas when I started thinking about the logistical and cultural structure of the various races of the Veins as well as what I would need to run them. Bc I have all the "canon" developed by Patrick and Scrap I got a lot of momentum sketching so I have these below to share: (all illustrations clipped from the book)


A Gnonman.

Gnonmen:  their culture around their capital: intense, exhausted nationalism. basically racism/nationalism with zero ego. the stakes are real: anything but the utmost and they will lose everything to the very real and very awful forces just beyond and spidering into their domain. there is no opportunity for diplomacy, it is very clear, and what the insane forces want is actually just a brief taste of sustenance, the source thereof they will immediately destroy via infighting. They really are the only sane ones fighting a world of darkness.

Any detractors within their ranks are rightly regarded as irrational, and most likely defective. To the budget efficiency and a small but very real margin of goodwill will allow, they are treated. Beyond that a tightly efficient and sacred-for-the-point-of-preserving-efficiency caste-system disposes of their soul and their meat is recycled.

players can be apart of gnonmen society in equal proportion to their real and provable goodness. The gnonmen's causes, institutions, and trade always fall along such an exacting and efficient line that only the PC's desire and ability to be intelligently and righteously benevolent will involve them at all.

a knotsman

the knotsmen capital, "Foreclose"-- (knotsmen are highly legalistic people covered in knots of flesh) (this segment already published via g plus post)

there is no city, only rooms, it's like The Trial, and at certain point you may realize that you are in something like an endless series of bureaucratic rooms and at that point you are fucked. whatever thing the players wanted to do; it's now over, it's a game over screen, forever, up to and past the point that the players realize it. Even if the holy god sent his angels to pluck you out of the queue and delivered you back to green earth you would not be free, you would be a liability to all those around you, and by hook or crook the blue sky would become so much papier mache and you would be back underground.

all the memories of what goes on in Foreclose are owned by the Knotsmen, probably. Knowledge of the location of Foreclose is sort of a catch 22 bc knowledge of where it is immediately implies that you are wholly owned by the Knotsmen, because foreclose is not immediately identifiable, and because "a large gathering of Knotsmen" usualy means full control of whoever knows about that. I know where foreclose is --> I have visited foreclose --> I am owned by the Knotsmen, they try and have to almost all extent succeeded in climbing those arrows all the way back.

The thing to get is that Foreclose is the center of Knotsmen proprety technology. Think about intellectual property rights today and advance those under a microscope with magic and in the context of the Veins. There is almost certainly a convoluted partnership with the DeR0, and the fact that this can be easily surmised given the information above is a current crisis to Knotsmen.

the only warning you get is one, maybe two or in the final jaws of three rooms of bureaucratic processing before it is all over. Like I'm saying literally only continue to describe bureaucratic procedures until everyone wants to stop playing

the other thing to remember is that Foreclose is, in the logic of the Veins, a knot.

But that's obvious.


  olm-sump --  an example of an Olm settlement, maybe the capital why not:
(olm are amphibian grey humanoids who hibernate for extended periods underwater)
  the whole thing is traded around a single (secret) patch of land, which grows something like a cucumber plant inside of it. This plant grows without light, for some reason, and for that reason its genes are fantastically valuable. However, no one down here really knows about the secrets of agriculture, at least the Olm don't, so they're unwilling to share the produce/seeds of their fantastical singular plant/fortune. The food produced by the plant is enough to keep one Olm family alive, 1 parent and a 1 child. Once the child reaches adulthood and a mate is found the parent retires to the sump where some 1,000s of Olm float.
  because the Veins are what they are, occasionally force is needed; however, applied force requires calories so: Olm will only be awakened in direct proportion to near-guaranteed calorie return rates. Only if the entire basis is threatened, i.e. the food-plant, will Olm be awakened in starving numbers.
  If the Olm gain windfall they will awaken some relatives and have a party, and information-share, and refresh the gene pool. Visitors who bring windfall get to be a part of all that.
  Outside appearence: hidden, ofc, but the less hidden part is where the awake Olm live (the more hidden part is the singular patch of mud with the cucumber plant, that is maybe deep within the sump itself. The sump isn't that hidden on the assumption that invaders will quickly find themselves surrounded by like a million Olm warriors in their prime environment-- they'll be instantly awakened by the gene-presence of intruders in the water. However it's a matter of common courtesy like going to the bathroom to not be seen going into and out of the sump so players may be continuously surprised at the growing # of olm.)
  the olm-settlement itself: a hollow, carved, and obviously ancient place, much bigger than it needs to be: like an abandoned amusement park that someone is camping out in. Obviously an army could be staged here, and there's a rather large altar with an auditorium that looks like it could fit a lot of people. The active settlement though is one or two people in one verrrryyy worn living space, like, carved by walking around in for centuries worn. there's only one person in there, and one child, but when you come by another one shows up shortlyh, and if you have trade another, and if you bring sustenance, a bunch more, its a party, best place to store calories is their bodies

the der0 capital. 

There isn't one. Or is there?

that being said:
der0 society is anonymous on a large scale and over-intimate on a small scale. The largest unit of organization is a cell. Sometimes there's an ostensible clandestine organization but in reality it is doubted that any der0 society could be above 3-4 members without dissolving into total anarchy-- which is what most of der0 civilization is.

THAT BEING SAID there probably could be a large scale city of der0 mostly but the inner workings therein would be like if Voivodja was pulled inside of itself.

Isolated der0 are hard enough to trade with as it is, normally it is something people only do when there are no other options available, which in the Veins isn't exactly uncommon, especially since der0 have the disturbing skill at eliminating competitors, more or less any situation wherein they are the last worst option and yet the only option is what der0 are driven to create. (because they can only see clients as enemies and are always, always jumping the gun)  As a result they hold a perilous middle ground between Veins cultures, you can imagine if North Korea was also the intelligentsia/CIA of our earth.

another way to think about it: der0 are literally incapable of allying with anyone, so: they are useful. but also not.

trading with der0: "trading" for der0 is "attempting to trick people who are going to betray you" so if you can accept the bait of a trap in exchange for involvement in *the der0 conspiracy*... you can play ball (but you shouldn't)

other rules of der0:

-they will only kill you by accident
-der0 will always talk to you and at length. this talking is a form of attack actually. they are involving you in *the der0 conspiracy* which is very real despite being composed whole cloth of assumed falsehoods.
-all der0 desires are disposable by virtue of the der0's unceasing tendency towards paranoia. the only non-negotiable desire is the der0's own self-preservation, their beyond-hyperactive sense thereof being the cause of their tao-like state of never having problems. Everything is a problem.
-Everything is a problem.
-nothing the der0 ever do works, it is always sabotage. they are like little mobile units of self- and universal sabotage. they have always been (rightfully) sabotaged.
-they always misunderstand the situation, and their misunderstanding veers eerily close to alternate understanding of reality. or, that is to say, der0 continuously understand and interact with reality only through continuous misunderstanding which in its multiplicity acts like an alternative to truth.
-the intentions of der0 can be recorded but only as snapshots bc the der0 in question will change its intentions at the slightest provocation in an attempt to sniff out a trap. thus u can record der0 intentions but mostly as a starting point for improv

"water? why go ahead and drink this invisible water all around! or no... don't drink it! you're going to drink all our invisible water aren't you?? no! you've poisoned the water! (flees)(comes back) I know that you have drank the water... you know like me its secrets (desperately trying to figure out what those secrets are) we both know what they are, so tell me, it is poisoned, is not? (goes on indefinitely)"

-the means of support for der0 are never visible. der0 don't eat or drink but they do consume resources. this is likely because the acts of eating or drinking are of such an obvious vulnerability that somewhere in the evolutionary chain leading to the modern der0 eating drinking or sleeping were phased out. nor do they procreate. What has come to replace those activities is *the der0 conspiracy* which basically gives der0 enough energy to forgo all of the above, and also consumes all their time and attention anyway.

yeah- asking where do der0 babies come from is non gratis in the Veins.

-der0 actually do not participate in anything morally untoward, despite all. nonetheless they generate intense amounts of bad things.

involvement in *the der0 conspiracy*:::

exposure: if you are made to believe in the reality of another player's der0 encounter, you go up a level yourself.

levels of inundation: 
1) you have talked to a der0. the amount of bullshit in your life increases tenfold. everything around you is a trap, or a mind control device, usually both. these things are true, these things are not true. monsters have secret motives and give you sidelong glances. do you know each other? is this a set up? why are you so distanced from your "companions"? is this the tradeoff? my god, is it actually happening? all along?

**at your option, you can induce der0 encounters. you do this by telling everyone at the table that you are doing that and then you roll on the der0 encounter table. you can do this once with no consequences, but if you do so a second time, you move on to the next stage of *the der0 conspiracy*

2) you have participated in *the der0 conspiracy*. arguably a bad idea. all der0 instantly recognize you and know that you are one of them. you will be accepted, even trusted, at some times. however, there is much to discuss. things will begin happening. you will be presented with sheafs of dossiers stuffed in your pack. inside will be a time bomb. which will release poisonous gas. which allows you to see everything happening laterally in the next room over, and above. You think.

**at this stage, the referee should introduce one der0 encounter per session.

3) your sanity collapses as *the der0 conspiracy* enfolds your waking life, too.

roll the der0 encounter table for every combat or social encounter you have. social encounters include general discussion with players. for every level above level 3 simply add another roll per encounter.

der0 encounter table:

the player realizes:

1- der0 are secretly here
2- der0 have secretly modified one object here
3- der0 have seized the minds of one person or beast here
4- the player is recieving messages from the mind of one other person or beast here
5- two members of two different groups represented here are secretly allied
6- information here is in code.
7- this entire situation is a trap built to kill the player character
8- one person here is not who they say they are, or is in disguise.
9- the subject of this situation has been you all along. if it already was, treat as 7
0- roll again and once more and advance one level in *the der0 conspiracy*

their realization is real, with the caveat that if any other player characters are made to believe in the reality of the realization, count them as exposed to *the der0 conspiracy*

In each case it is up to the referee to furnish the specifics.



drow (aelf adal) (evil elves):
If the capital is the most unbridled form of the people it represents then the adal capital would be beyond what thoughts can think in terms of removed from human vision. I think if you glimpse the streets of {the aelf adal capital} the streets themselves would turn to you; it would be considered one of the greatest disasters in their history if a {person who has even seen humans, etc.} walked the street, and the ruination of everything if even the existence of non-drow was mentioned in the {what couldn't possibly be claimed to be a cathedral}. Essentially, to a visitor, the aelf adal capital is pure, terrified liquid hate, things will crumble, sure, there isn't any substance behind for which to glimpse: hate, the makeup, is all there is. itll be come clear pretty quick that its something like hell.

imagine a crying person, ashamed of who they are, who you are viewing. They are crying at you, because you are seeing them, they are mad at you. Their crying transforms bursts their mask and shows you the person really under there. ... take out the shame, take out the person really under there

round by round description by what happens if you somehow (and every imaginable and beyond imaginable step has been taking to prevent you) somehow appear in the aelf adal capital:
1. beyond the height of the beauty arts
2. you are noticed
3. all nearby aelf adal nearby commit suicide
4. everything nearby begins to turn back into nightmare juice or whatever, catch on fire, etc.

a note on the dvargir (work obsessed dwarves, even more so than usual):

dvargir actually represent the exact minimum of work ethic alone to succeed in the veins. to the extent that you can be a wealthy farmer in the veins you have to work as hard as a dvargir. otherwise it's all gig economy and starvation. that being said the dvargir don't spend their excess wealth on food they spend it on the giant empty cities they are always creating, so they are, indeed always starving.

duergar in force are moving work camps, and they are always churning out new capitals.


Prompt:"7. City is inwardly ontologically shattered like a schizophrenics dream. Golems and child slaves sent into its fractured core to scavenge food appearing from 'nowhere' i.e. dropped or created by people who don't exist."

another situation where it's a really desperate population crowded around a central life-giving source. situation is, though, that the realities of whether its heavily populated or a new settlement or everyone is dead isn't stable. the changes mostly happen if you head into the central core.

there's a lot of paranoid planning about who sends who where, people mapping out a landscape which is continually changing, windfalls of cash or food. like trading with alternate reality people for food, and coming back to a (slightly different) reality.

the closer you live to the core the more insane you are meaning "more socially isolated and easy to prey for meat" beyond a certain point. basically it's bandits, organized resistance to intruders, and rarely philanthropic orgs doing work (maybe evil demons giving out poison or demon eggs tho)

so its basically a circle (or semicircle) around a non-shape of intensifying overcrossed realities, populated by factionally different levels of hungry people trying to trade steal or maybe even share food with each other. The only constant is change, meaning (in most versions of the reality) there is no stable amount of food to feed the population.

the above is actually too close to the der0 to appeal to them, der0 strive at bringing more insanity to situations, harvesting sanity, there's very little sanity to go around here, so they mostly don't show up.

1. Ourouboros city engaged in 'Paradox' farming,  feed off their own past, sending forces back along their own loop to take resources and slaves. They must keep growing more powerful so they can defeat their own past but the cultural and physical destruction of their own history forms unstable paradoxes and cripples them in many ways. They live in fear as they never know when their own future will arrive to consume them.

city has to grow more so they are always accepting new recruits, basically everyone avoids them for this reason, its a thing where you'll condemned to an eternal war against yourself, which is probably better than being a demon in the demon/devil war but sorta existentially similar

to make this more clear: if you are protecting the food, you have to fight a future version of yourself, if you are raiding, you have to fight your past version. however you can't kill your past self, but you can kill your future self.

ppl are encouraged to kill your future self bc it guarantees your future employment.

you can still get killed by people who aren't you if you're defending or raiding though.

this whole setup doesn't make sense, like it shouldn't work, but it does anyway

2. City feeds on literalised psychic emanations from below - likely eating the dreams of a mad god or chthulu-esque entity. Reliable supply but drives everyone even more insane than usual.

see here