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.

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

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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.  

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