Darkhive Worldbuilding (Part 5) - I Will Survive
I forgot to include a centre mass. The massive "demonic elder god"/"white dwarf"/"black hole"/"singularity"/"unknown thing" in the middle. My gravity field calculations were based purely on empty shells.
It's easily remedied though, and actually fixes up a few of the calculations when I put the central mass back in place. If I declare the central mass to be an equal weight to the inner shell, then each of the shells can be the same thickness while maintaining fairly constant gravity fields on their surfaces.
The weight numbers aren't in tonnes, they're just some arbitrary ratios based on surface area caluclations. I could get stuck into this further, but this isn't another post about the theoretical physics of nested Dyson Spheres, it's time to start looking at the things we really want to focus on with this setting. This is a world for telling stories in, not a world for simulating theoretical concepts.
Working off the same theories that drove the pirate/steampunk worldbuilding example. I'm looking at a few different cultures and a few different races that can be mixed and matched to form the basis of characters in this world.
This is a world of survivors, each of whom have chosen different ways to prolong their existence in an abandoned wreck that could have seen their rapid demise. In this surreal astral prison, at first they are afraid, they are petrified...they loo at their failing technologies (and former magics of their homeland) wondering how long their going to live without these tools beside their side.
Since this whole setting was designed as a variant for my System-4 setting, which has become my TMNT variant game, it applies a similar structure to character creation and character development. This means that there are certain things that can be bought in character generation, but become "locked in" once the character enters play. Races exist on a fluid continuum, but once a point on that continuum is fixed, the character must develop through other means (occupations, associates, agendas, virtues, vices, etc.)
In this regard I'm really interested in the idea of "ring species". This came up in a G+ discussion recently, where someone mentioned humans interbreeding with both elves and orcs, but you never see an elf/orc hybrid. The origin of my thoughts goes back to a race in the "Races of Destiny" book for D&D 3.5, a race called the "Mongrelfolk". The general idea focuses around the ultimate mixed breed race, they are "quartercastes" at best (human/elf/dwarf/orc/"other?"), not so much ugly, but definitely not bearing the marking of a pure breeding. Hell, what is pure breeding, is it (conscious or unconscious) eugenics? Maybe I'm being influenced by a lecture I attended earlier this week regarding the intersection of eugenics and euthenasia...
The concept of Mongrelfolk is perfect for this setting. Astral ships crash here, unable to leave, so they do what they need to in order to survive. This will eventually mean breaking taboos against relationships outside their race, otherwise they will eventually succumb to inbreeding.
Instead of humans being a central race without major benefits or penalties (like you find in most settings), the mongrelfolk are the norm (I'll call them "Nulls" from this point because they exhibit no specific benefits or penalties compared to everyone else). We end up with a ring of various interconnected species like a wheel, and the Nulls become the hub. A species may procreate with those to the left or right on the wheel, or with the Nulls in the middle.
Any bonding between "pure" adjacent species produces a hybrid of those two.
Any bonding between a "pure species" and a Null tends to produce a "Null" who manifests more of the traits from the pure species than any other race.
Hybrids may only bond with Nulls or with the "pure blooded" species from which they derive. If they bond with the "pure" species, their offspring tend more toward those genetics. If they bond with a Null, their offspring are generally no different to any other Null.
There's always the option for throwbacks, and there could be cultures within the setting who strive to breed the best combination of traits from the available genetic diversity, and this makes things into more of a continuum. Therefore character race in this setting will not be a hard "I'm this race", it will more typically be "I have genetic traits commonly found in this race, but I've also got some of that one".
From the original brain dump document...
Null - (common) those descended from mixed blood who have lost their racial heritage
Khar Tui - (uncommon) a noble race of scholars and mystics
Riven - (uncommon) a race of giant warriors with a sense of honour and pride
Kithling - (rare) a race of mutagenic changelings enslaved to half-forgotten monsters
Ichthyan - (rare) an amphibious race once decimated by the Shellbrood in ancient times
Panaho - (rare) a race with floral kinship and a resilience to fungal infections.
Outsider - (rare) those who belong to minor races, and less populated groups.
...each race will have a range of genetic traits associated with them. All characters in this setting fundamentally begin as Nulls with no benefit or penalty traits, players may choose for their characters to manifest genetic traits from one of the other races. Lets limit this to a maximum of 4 traits in total, each trait having a bonus and a penalty, and if they take more than 3 of these from one specific race they are no longer considered a "Null" but are now considered a member of that racial group. Characters may choose racial traits from two different raves to indicate that they are a hybrid (possessing two traits from a single race indicates a "half-breed"), but the racial groups need to be adjacent on the species ring.
The only problems I have with regard to the original brain-dump list are the "Kithlings" who have been defined in their nature as mutagenic (and thus might be able to breed with any other species if they adjusted their DNA accordingly), and the "Outsiders" who are a general catch-all category of assorted genetic traits (which could be used to create "humans", "elves", "dwarves", "klingons", or anything else that might have crashed a ship into the structure).
Maybe it's easier to just forget the ring, and allow players to choose different traits from different races to reflect their character's ancestry (but maybe specify certain pairings of races that are generally genetically incompatible... If you pick any "Khar Tui" traits, you may not pick any "Ichthyan" traits). I'd be interested in developing a few more races, but at this stage I'll do that through specific combinations of traits in the "Outsider" group.