02 September, 2015

Darkhive Worldbuilding (Part 12) - Just a Girl



In Darkhive, the gender roles are reversed.


But what would it take to really do this?

Is the fungus enough? Conversely, is it too heavy handed?

I don't know. 

I'm imagining a setting where every Disney princess movie is flipped on it's head. Princes are considered weak and need magical intervention before they are able to manifest their destiny and marry the all powerful princess. Petty stepfathers who've been slighted all their life because they are nothing more than eye candy to the powerful female warriors who keep them locked at home...stepfathers who imprison and punish their stepsons, emotionally because they know that a physical beating might kill them, and then they'd suffer the wrath of powerful regenerating women who could wipe the floor with them.

I'm imagining cultures where an inverse of the Islamic stereotype manifests. Powerful women keep a harem of men, not allowing any to injure them because possessing an old man is a symbol of status and prestige...possessing a collection of them from different exotic races is an even better conversation point, and worthy of more prestige. If a woman is powerful enough to protect many helpless men, then she is a worthy leader. If she is unable to land a man for herself, then she is wanting. In some of the "enlightened" lands, men are pushing for their own rights, but this is a difficult struggle because women are the bringers of life, and men can only take it. 

Men are considered necessary parasites, groups who have reclaimed their technologies (or magics), and groups who managed to keep them viable, might have methods of artificial insemination, they might even have storage banks of "pure" sperm. Less technologically inclined races might see females drugging males to get them "sex ready" (this might be construed as rape), where a herbal concoction forces and erection and ejaculation to be harvested biologically or mechanically. Those with psychic potential might will a male to "say yes" when asked. Every situation that you've heard regarding non-consensual sex, just reverse the genders... And powerful women say the same things in that setting that powerful men say in ours ("the body has a way to prevent sperm forming if it's really not desired"..."they should think themselves lucky that their seed was chosen out of all the potential candidates"). 

Similarly, because males are so frail in this setting and females so hardy, men are only ever trained to do simple things around the house, or maybe become courtiers. Women are given the opportunities to hunt, to fight, to perform manual labour, to engage in sports, to become the pivotal figures around whom a community is forged. 



Sketch by +MARCIN s, unrelated to this project, but I thought it was awesome and it fit my current thoughts. 


Sexism isn't the only thing flipped on it's head here. Cultural and racial stereotypes have been deliberately subverted too. Take for example the "Khar-Tui" who are stereotypically known as a race of scholars. In the cultural description, I called their language "Khar-Tui-Go" (reminiscent of the Japanese language's name for itself, "Nihongo") and said they wore flowing robes embroidered with family symbols (reminiscent of Japanese Kimono). But I like fusing things to avoid falling into stereotype traps, so physiologically I made them black skinned, and made their "pure blood" traits more Elven... I've accidentally almost turned them into a black skinned version of the white skinned "Kiasyd" that I love so much from the Sabbat in Vampire the Masquerade. Almost, but not quite.

The most dominant group in society across the Darkhive are the olive complexioned "Nullans", the pale skinned "Riven" are basically like Valkyries, mercenary warriors with a specific caste in society. The other pale skinned races are the mysterious "Panaho", more attuned to their fungi than the social world around them, and the fiery red headed "Xelani", who have a cultural tendency toward religious fanaticism.

Everything has complexity, and cultures can be mixed and matched far beyond their stereotypes. That what is important in worldbuilding for me...and these are just the basic elements. We haven't even gotten to the truly monstrous elements that lie in wait to devour the unwary, the savage mutants that exist separate to the civilised realms of the Darkhive, the ancient mysteries that may bring dreams or nightmares, or even the special powers that certain characters are capable of manifesting to confront the darkness and change the destiny of those around them.

This is not a grimdark setting, it's a world of hope. But for hope to become poignant, it really needs a darkness for it to shine out from.

Nobody is "just a girl" in this setting...


01 September, 2015

Darkhive Worldbuilding (Part 11) - Bring Me to Life


We've established that there are at least two major towns in this setting.

One seems fairly cosmopolitan and multicultural, and is overseen by a empress. The citizens value honour and justice, and they seem quite civilised but there seems to be an implication of a caste system in effect here.

The other is more focused on a particular racial group (the Panaho) and is overseen by a council. The citizens are more naturalistic, not necessarily more barbaric but they try to live a more harmonious existence with each other and with the world around them.

These two towns are aware of each other's existence, but they're generally too far apart to specifically trade with one another, or wage war against one another. They aren't threats to one another, nor formal allies. There are bigger menaces in the setting such as the nightmarish biomechanical shellbrood, and mutant bands who scour the quiet and dark corridors between them.

Four other towns sepcifically aren't described at this point, thus allowing GMs to develop their own communities if they want to take the game's stories in a different direction.

Smaller villages typically define themselves according to one of these two large towns (or one of the other four settlements that might be large enough to be called "towns"). Either the are allied with the larger nearby settlement, or they specifically identify themselves as opposed to it.

For the moment though, let's look at the races of the setting. We've defined the cultural context of each race, and we've established that the races are capable of interbreeding, but to truly be called "races" we need there to be something different physiologically about them. Note also that Nullans may have traits from any of the "pure" races, and unless otherwise specified they have an olive complexion and brown eyes.

All races have 4 common identifiable physiological traits (Skin, Hair, Eyes, Height), each then has a pair of uncommon traits (uncommon traits typically manifest special traits with their own benefit and penalty, a character created in this setting will always have less uncommon traits from a specific race than common traits from that race).

All people in the setting basically start as mixed breed Nullans. Any character may manifest a common trait each from two or three different races reflecting their mixed heritage,

If they have weak blood they'll pick one or two common traits from the race whose blood shows traces in their veins (and maybe one of the uncommon traits).

If they have strong blood they'll pick three or four of the common traits, and one or two of the uncommon traits).

If they are pure members of a race they gain all of that race's common and uncommon physiological traits. Pure members of a race are few and far between (and often hide the signs of their "pure" heritage).

Note also that there is no problem in this setting for an individual to have a strong genetic heritage from one group and an upbringing from another group.

Nullan
Skin: Olive Complexion
Hair: Mid to Dark Brown
Eyes: Brown
Height/Build: Average (1.6-1.8 m), Average Build (60-80 kg)
Uncommon 1: N/A
Uncommon 2: N/A

Khar-Tui
Skin: Dark
Hair: Black
Eyes: Grey
Height/Build: Average (1.6-1.8 m), Slender Build (50-70 kg)
Uncommon 1: Pointed Ears (limited sonar, but aversion to loud sounds)
Uncommon 2: Long Slender Fingers (high manual dexterity, but delicate bones)

Riven
Skin: Pale
Hair: Straw Blonde to Light Brown
Eyes: Blue
Height/Build: Tall (2.0-2.2 m), Average Build (75-100 kg)
Uncommon 1: Hardened Skin (tough, but aversion to warm temperatures)
Uncommon 2: White Blonde Streaks (psychic potential, but suffers from hallucinations)

Kithling
Skin: Grey Mottled
Hair: Jet Black (but often dyed)
Eyes: White (no discernible iris)
Height/Build: Average (1.6-1.8 m), Slender Build (50-70 kg)
Uncommon 1: Skin and eye colour shifts according to mood (disguise bonus, but susceptible to toxins)
Uncommon 2: Sinewy muscles and catlike reflexes (fast, but skittish)

Ichthyan
Skin: Tanned Complexion
Hair: Dark Brown
Eyes: Green
Height/Build: Short (1.4-1.6 m), Stocky Build (50-70 kg)
Uncommon 1: Webbing between fingers and toes (swimming bonus, but reduced manual dexterity)
Uncommon 2: Gills (breath underwater, but requires humid environment)

Panaho
Skin: Pale Grey
Hair: Brown
Eyes: Purple
Height/Build: Average (1.6-1.8 m), Average Build (60-80 kg)
Uncommon 1: Entire eye is a deep purple shade (nightvision, but aversion to bright light)
Uncommon 2: Skin faintly glows (affinity with fungi, but makes animals uncomfortable)

Xelani
Skin: Pale
Hair: Red
Eyes: Green
Height/Build: Short (1.4-1.6 m), Average Build (40-60 kg)
Uncommon 1: Horn Stubs (psychic potential, but bestial urges)
Uncommon 2: Hot Skin (resistance to fire, but aversion to the cold)

Endoss
Skin: Dark
Hair: Naturally Grey
Eyes: Amber
Height/Build: Average (1.6-1.8 m), Heavy Build (80-110 kg)
Uncommon 1: large ears (unnatural musical talent, but)
Uncommon 2: claws (natural weapons, but reduced manual dexterity)

Residual Genetics
There are a few races that appeared in the Darkhive such a long time ago that their genetic diversity has spread entirely through the population, and there are no "pure" members of their species left. Despite this, sometimes the bloodlines converge through specific individuals (an eighth-caste here mates with a sixteenth-caste there) and some of the genetic traits from those lost races spontaneously manifest among the Nullans (or occasionally among those who have other blood in their veins). There are said to be groups who have spent generations secretly involved in eugenics programs to bring back these lost races; but due to reasons of ethics, few have been willing to publicly claim their involvement in such experimentation.

At this stage, the following combinations have been identified occasionally in the population.

The Feline Genome
Eyes: Slitted, Typically Green or Amber.
Height/Build: Short (1.4-1.6 m), Slender (35-55 kg)
Uncommon 1: Fangs (natural weapon, but speech impediment)

The Vespine Genome
Skin: Greyish Black
Eyes: Blood Red
Uncommon 1: Wing membranes stretching between arms and legs (gliding, but claustrophobic)

The Serpentine Genome
Skin: Greenish Tint
Hair: Naturally Bald
Uncommon 1: Scaled Skin (natural armour, but cold blooded)

(There may be a few more, it depends how we go).

The next thing I'm thinking of doing for this is a 16 digit genetic coding for characters, where players allocate half of the values (A,C,T, and G as per genetic proteins) depending on the racial traits they possess, and use a random roll to determine the remainder. This would be used as a system to determine if characters are able to use certain magical/hyper-tech items which analyse a wielder's DNA before activating their special powers. Kithlings and subtly mutagenic characters might be able to shift their randomised values, and exposure to fungi might strip away genetic heritage (gradually replacing the character's insides with a fungal symbiotic infection). Nothing specific at this stage, just something I'm toying with.  


31 August, 2015

RPGaDay (Day 31)

Favourite Non-RP thing to come out of RPGing


My wife, +Leah Wenman.

Darkhive Worldbuilding (Part 10) - I See Who You Are



I've temporarily added the cultural elements to the two major cities in the setting, as well as basic elements for smaller villages and border settlements on the edges of dangerous zones. These may be subject to change s new ideas are developed for the setting. The important thing to note here is for the most part I haven't gone out of my way to "feminize" these assorted cultures, and except for the type of clothing worn and the housing arrangements, I haven't really applied anything gender specific anywhere. There will be a post or two dedicated to men in the setting shortly.

Like the pirate/steampunk setting developed last year, this now gives prompts for how religion might play out in the Darkhive, and starts to give us new ideas for details about governing systems and authority structures, and aesthetics in the setting.

Main City Cultural Elements:
Language most commonly spoken: Street Nullan
Valued Possession: Mien/Personal Honour
Type of Clothing Worn: Renaissance-Era bodices and flowing skirts (or doublet and hose), typically in bright colours and often elaborately embroidered.
Valued Concept: Dignity
Common Pastime: Haggling in the market or watching the gladiators
Housing Arrangements: Small family - mother and two to three children in a self-contained single cell.
Primary Virtue – strives to do this: Hope
Secondary Virtue – strives to do this: Justice
Primary Vice – strives to avoid this: Pride
10 Secondary Vice – strives to avoid this: Lust
Religious Beliefs: Divine Order of the Holy Empress
Acknowledged Authority Structure: The Imperial Matriarchy
Unusual Cultural Character Trait: Tendency to wear too much makeup

Secondary City Cultural Elements:
Language most commonly spoken: Street Panaho
Valued Possession: Personal Garden
Type of Clothing Worn: Simple ancient-Greek styled flowing dresses (or togas) in plain but striking colours.
Valued Concept: Tranquillity
Common Pastime: Working in a garden or entertaining friends
Housing Arrangements: Large family – possibly a pair of sisters and their children (maybe half a dozen) in a self-contained single cell.
Primary Virtue – strives to do this: Love
Secondary Virtue – strives to do this: Charity
Primary Vice – strives to avoid this: Lust
10 Secondary Vice – strives to avoid this: Gluttony
Religious Beliefs: Sacred Path of the Fungal Way
Acknowledged Authority Structure: Council of the City
Unusual Cultural Character Trait: Never wears jewellery or adornment

Village Cultural Elements:
Language most commonly spoken: Low Nullan
Valued Possession: Family Heirloom
Type of Clothing Worn: Utilitarian clothes with few adornments, often in muted colours.
Valued Concept: Community
Common Pastime: crafting handiworks or entertaining friends
Housing Arrangements: Extended families of a grandmother, her daughter(s), and grand-daughters (up to a dozen) in pairs of adjacent cells, where one cell is restricted to sleeping and private quarters while the other functions as cooking/entertaining/work space.
Primary Virtue – strives to do this: Diligence
Secondary Virtue – strives to do this: Wisdom (thought this may vary on the village)
Primary Vice – strives to avoid this: Pride
10 Secondary Vice – strives to avoid this: Wrath
Religious Beliefs: Local Angel Superstitions and Ancestor Worship
Acknowledged Authority Structure: Local Council of Elders
Unusual Cultural Character Trait: Varies by village (examples: always wears village crest, superstitions)

Small Settlement Cultural Elements:
Language most commonly spoken: Low Nullan
Valued Possession: Map of the nearby cells and passages
Type of Clothing Worn: Plain clothes, typically in dark colours, greys or browns.
Valued Concept: Survival
Common Pastime: Patrolling nearby cells and passages or crafting goods/weapons
Housing Arrangements: Extended families of a grandmother, her daughter(s), and grand-daughters (up to a dozen) in single cells, often sharing cooking and communal areas in an adjacent cell with similar families.
Primary Virtue – strives to do this: Bravery
Secondary Virtue – strives to do this: Chivalry
Primary Vice – strives to avoid this: Wrath
10 Secondary Vice – strives to avoid this: Greed
Religious Beliefs: Local Superstitions and Ancestor Worship
Acknowledged Authority Structure: Quasi-Military Structure
Unusual Cultural Character Trait: Varies by settlement (examples: always armed, always masked, travels barefoot)

Nullan Cultural Elements:
Language most commonly spoken: Street Nullan
Valued Possession: Family Heirloom
Type of Clothing Worn: Plain clothes with a blend of simple styles unique to the individual
Valued Concept: Community
Common Pastime: Gathering with friends or watching the gladiators
Housing Arrangements: Large family – possibly a pair of sisters and their children (maybe half a dozen) in a self-contained single cell.
Primary Virtue – strives to do this: Hope
Secondary Virtue – strives to do this: Charity
Primary Vice – strives to avoid this: Envy
10 Secondary Vice – strives to avoid this: Sloth
Religious Beliefs: Local Angel Superstitions and Ancestor Worship
Acknowledged Authority Structure: Meritocracy
Unusual Cultural Character Trait: Tries to prove themselves exceptional in some skill to make up for a lack of genetic advantage.

Khar-Tui Cultural Elements:
Language most commonly spoken: Khar-Tui-Go
Valued Possession: Oldest textbook
Type of Clothing Worn: Elaborately embroidered flowing robes often depicting family crests and personal icons
Valued Concept: Curiosity
Common Pastime: Reading or crafting handiworks
Housing Arrangements: Small family - mother and two to three children in a self-contained single cell that doubles as a laboratory or library.
Primary Virtue – strives to do this: Wisdom
Secondary Virtue – strives to do this: Patience
Primary Vice – strives to avoid this: Pride
10 Secondary Vice – strives to avoid this: Gluttony
Religious Beliefs: Agnostic
Acknowledged Authority Structure: Geniocratic Council
Unusual Cultural Character Trait: Pet Animal of Some Type

Riven Cultural Elements:
Language most commonly spoken: Rivani
Valued Possession: Heirloom weapon passed down from mother
Type of Clothing Worn: Functional leathers, although some prefer to wear armour at all times
Valued Concept: Integrity
Common Pastime: Displays of martial prowess or exploration of local passages and cells
Housing Arrangements: Extended families of a grandmother, her daughter(s), and grand-daughters (up to a dozen) in pairs of adjacent cells, where one cell is like a dormitory of sleeping quarters, while the other functions as cooking/training/work space.
Primary Virtue – strives to do this: Bravery
Secondary Virtue – strives to do this: Justice
Primary Vice – strives to avoid this: Wrath
10 Secondary Vice – strives to avoid this: Pride
Religious Beliefs: Order of Sho-Seth-Eenh Goddess of Battle
Acknowledged Authority Structure: Kratocracy (Power to the strongest warriors and strategists)
Unusual Cultural Character Trait: Always carries at least two weapons

Kithling Cultural Elements:
Language most commonly spoken: Kithspeak
Valued Possession: Artwork
Type of Clothing Worn: Rarely wear the same clothes twice, and if so, they always shift the way their clothes are worn
Valued Concept: Continued Transformation
Common Pastime: Carousing with friends or Theatre
Housing Arrangements: Live alone, typically sleeping in the same cell as their workplace, often near the middle of a settlement.
Primary Virtue – strives to do this: Hope
Secondary Virtue – strives to do this: Love
Primary Vice – strives to avoid this: Lust
10 Secondary Vice – strives to avoid this: Greed
Religious Beliefs: Path of the Sacred Trickster
Acknowledged Authority Structure: Theocracy (Hereditary Priesthood)
Unusual Cultural Character Trait: Always wears a mask

Ichthyan Cultural Elements:
Language most commonly spoken: Ichthyani
Valued Possession: Piece of Jewellery
Type of Clothing Worn: Simple functional clothes, often treated to avoid water damage
Valued Concept: Harmony
Common Pastime: Fishing or Gambling
Housing Arrangements: Extended families of a grandmother, her daughter(s), and grand-daughters (up to a dozen) in pairs of adjacent cells, where one cell is restricted to sleeping quarters surrounding a central pool/bathing area, while the other is functions as cooking/work space.
Primary Virtue – strives to do this: Diligence
Secondary Virtue – strives to do this: Hope
Primary Vice – strives to avoid this: Sloth
10 Secondary Vice – strives to avoid this: Greed
Religious Beliefs: Old Elemental Gods
Acknowledged Authority Structure: Meritocracy
Unusual Cultural Character Trait: Tattoos

Panaho Cultural Elements:
Language most commonly spoken: High Panaho
Valued Possession: Collection of fungal spores
Type of Clothing Worn: Simple ancient-Greek styled flowing dresses in plain but striking colours.
Valued Concept: Growth
Common Pastime: Farming or Meditation
Housing Arrangements: Small family - mother and two to three children in a self-contained single cell that doubles as a garden/greenhouse.
Primary Virtue – strives to do this: Patience
Secondary Virtue – strives to do this: Cunning
Primary Vice – strives to avoid this: Lust
10 Secondary Vice – strives to avoid this: Despondency
Religious Beliefs: Sacred Path of the Fungal Way
Acknowledged Authority Structure: Elective Monarchy
Unusual Cultural Character Trait: Often prefer to remain silent unless specifically addressed.

Xelani Cultural Elements:
Language most commonly spoken: Xelani
Valued Possession: Relic item from the furthest distance away
Type of Clothing Worn: Dark Robes, often trimmed with symbols and sigils of personal significance
Valued Concept: Purity
Common Pastime: Meditation or Crafting handiworks
Housing Arrangements: Extended families of a grandmother, her daughter(s), and grand-daughters (up to a dozen) in single cells, often sharing cooking and communal areas in an adjacent cell with similar families.
Primary Virtue – strives to do this: Faith
Secondary Virtue – strives to do this: Loyalty
Primary Vice – strives to avoid this: Greed
10 Secondary Vice – strives to avoid this: Gluttony
Religious Beliefs: Divine Order of the Holy Empress
Acknowledged Authority Structure: Theocracy (Elected Council of Priestesses)
Unusual Cultural Character Trait: Superstitions

Endoss Cultural Elements:
Language most commonly spoken: Nullan
Valued Possession: Musical instrument
Type of Clothing Worn: Simple clothes in non-descript style, often in dark dreary colours
Valued Concept: Secrecy
Common Pastime: Gambling or playing music
Housing Arrangements: Live alone, often on the outskirts of a town in small tents and “lean-to”s that they carry around with them.
Primary Virtue – strives to do this: Cunning
Secondary Virtue – strives to do this: Hope
Primary Vice – strives to avoid this: Sloth
10 Secondary Vice – strives to avoid this: Pride
Religious Beliefs: Tabernacle of Rust
Acknowledged Authority Structure: Anarchism
Unusual Cultural Character Trait: Like to be the centre of attention through storytelling or musical performance

Scavenger (Eyes) Cultural Elements:
Language most commonly spoken: Low Nullan
Valued Possession: Most valuable thing scavenged so far.
Type of Clothing Worn: Simple, functional clothes or leathers, possibly light armour.
Valued Concept: Skill
Common Pastime: Exploring nearby cells and passages or crafting handiworks
Housing Arrangements: Live alone, often on the outskirts of a town in small tents and “lean-to”s that they carry around with them.
Primary Virtue – strives to do this: Diligence
Secondary Virtue – strives to do this: Patience
Primary Vice – strives to avoid this: Greed
10 Secondary Vice – strives to avoid this: Envy
Religious Beliefs: Worship of the Angel of Fortune
Acknowledged Authority Structure: Meritocracy of the Eye
Unusual Cultural Character Trait: Always picking things up to examine them

Warrior (Fist) Cultural Elements:
Language most commonly spoken: Rivani
Valued Possession: Weapon won in battle from a formidable foe.
Type of Clothing Worn: Protective armours typically adorned with a family (or local militia) crest.
Valued Concept: Glory
Common Pastime: Feats of martial prowess, or watching the gladiators.
Housing Arrangements: Extended families of a grandmother, her daughter(s), and grand-daughters (up to a dozen) in pairs of adjacent cells, where one cell is like a dormitory of sleeping quarters, while the other functions as cooking/training/work space.
Primary Virtue – strives to do this: Bravery
Secondary Virtue – strives to do this: Chivalry
Primary Vice – strives to avoid this: Wrath
10 Secondary Vice – strives to avoid this: Pride
Religious Beliefs: Worship of the Angel of Battle
Acknowledged Authority Structure: Meritocracy of the Fist
Unusual Cultural Character Trait: Always wants to test martial prowess against new people

Zealot (Heart) Cultural Elements:
Language most commonly spoken: Street Panaho
Valued Possession: Holy symbol
Type of Clothing Worn: Brightly coloured robes adorned with the symbol of a deity or faith
Valued Concept: Love
Common Pastime: Meditation or helping others
Housing Arrangements: Extended families of a grandmother, her daughter(s), and grand-daughters (up to a dozen) in pairs of adjacent cells, where one cell is like a dormitory of sleeping quarters, while the other functions as cooking/praying/meditation space.
Primary Virtue – strives to do this: Faith
Secondary Virtue – strives to do this: Charity
Primary Vice – strives to avoid this: Pride
10 Secondary Vice – strives to avoid this: Despondency
Religious Beliefs: Worship of the Angel of Purity
Acknowledged Authority Structure: Meritocracy of the Heart
Unusual Cultural Character Trait: Hates conflict

Scholar (Brain) Cultural Elements:
Language most commonly spoken: Khar-Tui-Go
Valued Possession: Personal library
Type of Clothing Worn: Functional clothes, often well-worn and out of date.
Valued Concept: Truth
Common Pastime: Reading or Theatre
Housing Arrangements: Small family - mother and two to three children in a self-contained single cell that doubles as a laboratory or library.
Primary Virtue – strives to do this: Wisdom
Secondary Virtue – strives to do this: Patience
Primary Vice – strives to avoid this: Sloth
10 Secondary Vice – strives to avoid this: Greed
Religious Beliefs: Worship of the Angel of Knowledge
Acknowledged Authority Structure: Meritocracy of the Brain
Unusual Cultural Character Trait: Always questions things

Diplomat (Tongue) Cultural Elements:
Language most commonly spoken: High Nullan
Valued Possession: Family coat of arms
Type of Clothing Worn: Elaborate clothing in bright colours according to the season’s style
Valued Concept: Honour
Common Pastime: Theatre or haggling in the market
Housing Arrangements: Small family - mother and two to three children in a self-contained single cell.
Primary Virtue – strives to do this: Justice
Secondary Virtue – strives to do this: Wisdom
Primary Vice – strives to avoid this: Pride
10 Secondary Vice – strives to avoid this: Lust
Religious Beliefs: Worship of the Angel of Beauty
Acknowledged Authority Structure: Meritocracy of the Tongue
Unusual Cultural Character Trait: Hates getting dirty

Trader (Blood) Cultural Elements:
Language most commonly spoken: Street Nullan
Valued Possession:
Type of Clothing Worn: Simple clothes, but often adorned with small jewels and subtle symbols of wealth
Valued Concept: Wealth
Common Pastime: Haggling in the market or crafting handiworks
Housing Arrangements: Small family - mother and two to three children in a self-contained single cell that doubles as a trade stall or shop.
Primary Virtue – strives to do this: Hope
Secondary Virtue – strives to do this: Justice
Primary Vice – strives to avoid this: Greed
10 Secondary Vice – strives to avoid this: Pride
Religious Beliefs: Worship of the Angel of Travel
Acknowledged Authority Structure: Meritocracy of Blood
Unusual Cultural Character Trait: Always looking to get a better deal

Strategist (Bone) Cultural Elements:
Language most commonly spoken: Rivani
Valued Possession: Family Heirloom
Type of Clothing Worn: Well-fitting clothes suitable for action at a moment’s notice
Valued Concept: Wisdom
Common Pastime: Entertaining friends or playing music
Housing Arrangements: Small family - mother and two to three children in a self-contained single cell that doubles as a laboratory or library.
Primary Virtue – strives to do this: Patience
Secondary Virtue – strives to do this: Courage
Primary Vice – strives to avoid this: Greed
10 Secondary Vice – strives to avoid this: Despondency
Religious Beliefs: Worship of the Angel of Strength
Acknowledged Authority Structure: Meritocracy of Bone
Unusual Cultural Character Trait: Never rushes into anything without thinking of two plans


30 August, 2015

RPGaDay (Day 30)

Favourite RPG Playing Celebrity


There were some absolutely brilliant roleplaying and gaming anecdotes about the comedian Robin Williams in the days after his death.

One of my favourite all time celebrities is Bruce Campbell, and it really doesn't surprise me that he is on the list.



The notable omission on this list is Dame Judy Dench. While Bruce Campbell may be my favourite celebrity who games, Dame Judy being a gamer is my most awesome combination of the ideas.

Darkhive Worldbuilding (Part 9) - We are Family


What are the cultures of this place? What are the subcultures within those cultures?

When I was working on Walkabout, I divided the population into seven different cultures who each survived in the post apocalyptic wasteland via different means. I had scavengers, neo-tribalists, farmers, mutants, vehicular nomads, skyborn drifters, and hermits in their surviving glass/steel towers. Each of these were divided into four/five castes, defining the various character roles that would be necessary for a community to survive in the indicated manner. The same sort of system could easily be used to describe the cultural diversity in this setting.

Scavengers are still scavengers.
Neo-tribalists are still neo-tribalists.
Farmers might exist on the open parts of the hive but are more likely to be focused on the various methods of cultivating fungus, and the imported creatures (lizard farmers, rat farmers?).
Mutants tend to exist in the innermost parts of the hive.
Vehicular Nomads are less likely to exist, but could be replaced by merchants who follow specific trade routes.
Skyborne Drifters certainly wouldn't exist in this setting.
Hermits in their glass/steel towers would be replaced by new arrivals who remain locked hermetically in their crashed astral ships, trying to avoid the fungal infections, or desperately clinging to the hope that they might be able to return home. 

In Walkabout, there are a few organised alliances of towns, but for the most part each settlement is a self contained group of survivors with their own issues. A few are involved in feuds with their neighbours, a few are incredibly isolationist, most are interested in survival as a priority (whatever that means to them).

The Darkhive is pretty much a post-apocalyptic sci-fantasy setting, so the analogues fit. Since I'm most familiar with these themes, it's hardly surprising that they inform my design process once again. But I'm not trying to simply redesign Walkabout as a variant setting. Next week I'll be meeting up with local aboriginal elders, and I'm hoping to learn from them (Leah met up with the ladies group a few days ago), so Walkabout is back on the cards as it's own project. 

For Darkhive, I'm actually pulling the idea I introduced for cultural descriptions in the last worldbuilding exercise. Each culture will have 13 elements that define it. Those who follow all 13 elements will be stereotypical paragons of the culture, most people will vary from their culture by one or two significant elements where they follow some other culture they've been exposed to. It's a bit of a reverse to the racial development system (where we start with a blank slate and build up traits as a character reveals their affinity to a specific genetic heritage), instead we assume a baseline of a specific cultural upbringing and deviate from there as a character is exposed to new influences. 

Cultural Elements:
Language most commonly spoken
Valued Possession
Type of Clothing Worn
Valued Concept
Common Pastime
Housing Arrangements
Primary Virtue – strives to do this
Secondary Virtue – strives to do this
Primary Vice – strives to avoid this
10 Secondary Vice – strives to avoid this
Religious Beliefs
Acknowledged Authority Structure
Unusual Cultural Character Trait
(It would be tempting, since the critical characters in this setting tend to be female, to swap out the secondary virtue and vice for things like "hairstyle" or other girly things...but this just isn't that type of setting, and it would compromise the stories to go down that path. The majority of these cultural elements are about how the character lives and what they aspire to...not what they look like.)

There are two ways I could develop these lists of cultural elements. The first would be to create a list for each genetic heritage, implying that these were the cultural standards of the group before they became stranded in the hive. The second would be to create lists for the largest communities in the hive, working on the assumption that a large enough mass of people would stabilise their community around specific cultural norms, smaller communities regularly trading with such large groups would tend to adopt the cultural traits of their neighbours to facilitate easier trade. It might be a nice complexity to use both systems... An individual character starts with a baseline culture applied through their community of origin, if they start acquiring genetic traits from a specific race they start picking a number of cultural elements from that race implying their affinity with that group of people.

Actually, there's a third way I can develop a list of cultural elements, and that's to go back to the Walkabout survival methodologies. Since there are 13 elements that define the values, appearances and traits of a culture, maybe a character starts with a random hand of cards; where each heart indicates a cultural value aligning with the character's genetic heritage, each club aligns to their local upbringing, each spade links to their survival methodology, and each diamond is a wild card where the player can decide. Areas where one genetic heritage (or one survival type) dominates would have local values the same as the genetic values, and thus these would be predominant (characters of predominantly Nullan/mixed-heritage would default to local cultural norms). There seems to be something heading in a direction I'm happy with, but more thought needs to be applied. 

There are currently 6 major towns, 9 races (including a catch-all category of outsiders who have recently crash landed and who haven't yet been assimilated into the wider community), around half a dozen survival methodologies (again including isolationists still trying to remain sealed in their ships as they attempt to escape)... that's over 20 lists of cultural elements to generate for starting characters to deal with, and there will be more lists of elements for specific secretive cults and groups to whom a character must belong if they want to advance in certain ways (but that's long term play). I might even generate up a simple system that allows a GM to create their own sets of cultural elements for small, of-the-beaten-path villages and towns.


(Yes, one of the reasons I'm developing this setting is to make use of the dozens of assorted female miniatures that generally seem to get ignored by most of the major game producers...and to send business toward a few local sculptors who produce predominantly female models).


29 August, 2015

RPGaDay (Day 29)

Favorite RPG website/blog


Probably G+.

I'm a part of a few awesome game design communities there, as well as RPG artist communities, cartography communities, communities dedicated to specific games, communities for (reasonably) local gamers. Every time I wake up (and often three or for more times through the day), I can log onto G+ and see a new range of inspirations, see people excited for new gaming products, find new artists and new art from artists I already knew. It may not be a dedicated RPG social network, but I've tailored my streams and circles in such a way that it is for me.

Once I would have said 1km1kt, the regulars over there are a great bunch of guys. But they've been pretty quiet lately.

The only other RPG site that I regularly visit is my online store profile on RPGNow/DrivethruRPG, which gets checked maybe twice a week.