Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

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Re: Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by DesEsseintes » Mon 21 Mar 2016, 08:03

I want to see more of this thread!

Gigi, come back! [:'(]
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Re: Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by elemtilas » Tue 22 Mar 2016, 00:30

DesEsseintes wrote:I want to see more of this thread!
[+1] !
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Re: Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by gestaltist » Thu 24 Mar 2016, 10:45

Thanks for the kind words, guys. Caught between a hectic time at work and wedding preparations, I haven't had much time for anything recently. My novella-writing has ground to a halt, as have all things creative, I am afraid. It may be a month or two before I catch a breath, but who knows.

On topic of conworlding, I had one realization recently. Namely, it occurred to me that my conworlding has been strongly influenced by my past as a tabletop RPG player. Whenever I approach conworlding, I want the world to be complete and open to explore. I have been concentrating much more on the framework than on the interesting detail. I have been avoiding superheroes and supervillains. The thing is, I haven't played RPG for years now, and I am becoming more interested in writing stories. And my style of conworlding doesn't do too well for that.

This thought is liberating in a way, as I can now think about a detail or a story idea first, and weave the world around it. (Although I still feel like I am cheating when I do that.) Let's see what grows out of this new train of thought.

I am afraid I don't have anything interesting to share other than that.
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Re: Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by gestaltist » Thu 04 Aug 2016, 10:48

I had an idea today. A possibly huge idea, if I do go along with it. I thought of a way to tie my various conworlds together - those I posted about here, those I didn't publish, and those I haven't thought of yet. The only one that wouldn't (and shouldn't) fit is Scosya.

So here goes a first sketch:

SOMNIVERSE

There was a special woman on our Earth - or maybe on alternate Earth - whose dreams could become reality. She dreamt of a different world - the same dream every night. Or rather, the same place - but there was always something new in the dream. She was unaware it was more than a dream. The world she imagined came to life - somewhere - unreachable by any human means of transportation. It wasn't bound by the laws of physics - it was only bound by the Dreamer's logic. It coincided with the natural laws to a large extent, since it was the reality of the Dreamer. But it could have other rules as well.

It became the first Dreamworld, but it wouldn't be the last. The First Dreamer's power was huge - and she bestowed it upon some of her creations. They became Dreamers, too - creating further worlds. Some of them dreamt of their own worlds, altering them, some of them dreamt up new ones - some of them dreamt of worlds already created and added their own flavor to them.

This way, a tree of worlds was created. Two new types of dreaming appeared. Some people became Awake Dreamers - changing their own worlds while awake - a very rare, very powerful ability. Such people would frequently become heroes or gods of their worlds. Another type were Travelers - people able to hop between worlds - usually only in the hierarchy in which they were dreamt up. And the places directly dreamt of by their Creators are the easiest to hop to and from - some worlds guard them to prevent intrusions.

Some rare Travelers are able to open permanent portals between worlds where normal people can cross, too.

---

This multiverse idea helps rationalize several interesting things: first off, unnaturalistic fantasy features of some worlds, especially if they are a mix of things existing in the Dreamer's world (stuff like flying angels, gryphons, etc.) If it can be dreamed of, it can exist.

Secondly, it explains the existence of humans everywhere, and the general Earth-like character - the whole multiverse is shaped by the First Dreamers imagination - although the further out, the more whacky the worlds can become.

Thirdly, it explains defying laws of evolution and climate - nature follows the Dreamer's logic, which can go against our natural laws.

Last but not least, it explains lack of completeness of some worlds: some powerful and educated Dreamers could dream of whole solar systems, while others could dream of multiplane worlds with "real" heaven and hell, while yet others could dream of only one kingdom - at which edges there could be endless ocean or desert, or simply nothingness.

--

Dreamers can die, leaving the worlds motherless - at which moment they solidify their laws and go on their way. Interesting problem: awareness of history. The Dreamer can also dream up history that never happened but is the Canon in a world. Or people could be aware that they simply "appeared out of nowhere" and try to rationalize it. Some worlds could be dreamt up without any creatures and be populated by Travelers later.

Time can tick at different speeds in different worlds, but that speed tends to stabilize/equalize after the death of the Dreamer - usually it slows down at that point (a lot of Dreamers dream of distant historical events, making up thousands of years of history in the course of their lifetime).

When the Creator Dreamer dies, the world becomes Mature or Orphaned - it can be hijacked by another Dreamer - complicating the "tree" because it can drift into a Dreamer from somewhere else in the tree's mind.
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Re: Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by elemtilas » Thu 04 Aug 2016, 11:44

gestaltist wrote:I had an idea today. A possibly huge idea
Does CBB have an Understatement of the Month Award? I think this would easily qualify.
gestaltist wrote:SOMNIVERSE
Ah, and isn't this the story of us all! You've come up with a very elegant and beautifully laid out plan; and I like the tree nature of the multiverse's going.

If you've never encountered them before, it looks very much like you've grasped Ytterbion's Rules by the horns and have ridden them to a lovely place indeed!
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Re: Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by gestaltist » Fri 05 Aug 2016, 08:50

elemtilas wrote: Does CBB have an Understatement of the Month Award? I think this would easily qualify.
Thank you. It's funny how these things happen. I originally had an idea for a conworld with Dreamers. It was months ago. And then I played Magic Duels yesterday and started to think about the possible universes in which fantasy creatures like manticores and angels would make actual sense. And there it was...
elemtilas wrote: Ah, and isn't this the story of us all! You've come up with a very elegant and beautifully laid out plan; and I like the tree nature of the multiverse's going.

If you've never encountered them before, it looks very much like you've grasped Ytterbion's Rules by the horns and have ridden them to a lovely place indeed!
Reaction 1: Is there anything you haven't thought of first? [;)] The World is so incredibly detailed, amazing.

Reaction 2: Great minds think alike. [B)]
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Re: Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by elemtilas » Sat 06 Aug 2016, 01:37

gestaltist wrote:
elemtilas wrote:If you've never encountered them before, it looks very much like you've grasped Ytterbion's Rules by the horns and have ridden them to a lovely place indeed!
Reaction 1: Is there anything you haven't thought of first? [;)]
The answer to that, of course, is an unqualified yes! There are actually quite a few I've come across while here, those "gee, wish I'd thought of that before" kinds of things. The way you described dream-creation is very cool, so that's definitely one. Recently are the bracelet language idea and the stave system of writing.

The bracelet language idea was too awesome for it not to find expression in The World -- but as a system of visually representing a language, I felt it was too complex, so went down a rather different pathway with it. The stave system has inspired me to create a runish writing system based on the shapes of twigs and branches.

We take inspiration where we can find it!
The World is so incredibly detailed, amazing.
Well, thank you as always for overly kind words! Every time I think there might be some good detail worked out, I realise there squillions of things left undiscovered and unapproached.
Reaction 2: Great minds think alike. [B)]
Hear hear! [:D]
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Re: Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by gestaltist » Sun 21 Aug 2016, 20:12

# Floating in the Void #

This is a world I saw today while daydreaming. The first new "child" born from the idea of Somniverse.

Imagine islands of varying sized floating in the air. Below them is the Void. Above them is the Light. And between them is emptiness. The islands move, albeit slowly, swimming through the ether. On many of them, there are forests, teeming with life. Many others are empty rocks. And yet others are full of people and their civilization.

There is no Sun or stars: the sky glows during the day, bringing life, and dims and darkens during the night. The day length is the same everywhere, but not all islands flow at the same height. The closer an island is to the Light Above, the hotter it is. The closer it is to the Void Below, the colder it is. It is also well known that the larger a landmass, the less likely it is to float upwards - there are large islands the size of a continent covered in frozen tundra, but the higher up you go, the smaller the islands, so the tropical ones are typically much smaller.

There is a seasonal cycle: during Winter, the pull of the Void is stronger, and all islands sink towards it - further from the Light, they become colder. During Summer, they float back up.

For the longest time, people were at the mercy of the islands' natural movements: cultures could only cross, and inventions could only be shared if two islands happened to fly right by one another. Their horizontal movement is usually slow enough that such exchanges persisted through centuries or even millenia. However, living in such narrow confines, human civilization would probably never progress on its own. But people are not alone in this world.

## Beings of Light ##

Up above, in the unreachable eternal Light, mysterious spirits dwell. You could call them gods or angels, and you wouldn't be far off. No human really understands their motivations, but they seem to take interest in the world and try to intervene. They occassionally came down to the floating islands, nudging the human civilization forward. While they don't come often, there are several stories about humanoid shapes made of pure light speaking directly to human minds, staying for days or for centuries, only to go away with no warning.

## Things of the Void ##

If you come to the brink of an island and look down, you will see... nothing - maybe some other island floating in the air half a mile down, but more likely only emptiness - pitch-black darkness several miles below. But if you look carefully, especially during the night, and especially during the Winter, or if you happen to be on a low-set island to begin with, you will see the Void is far from empty. You will notice swirling shapes, as if there were currents within the blackness, or as if it was a bowl of writhing snakes of perfect black.

These... Things... also visit. Sometimes, a ribbon of nothingness will spring up, darting through the air, looking for something to attach to. They usually disperse - die? - before they find anything, but occassionally, they will reach an island, and cling to a tree, or a bird, or a person. They distort whatever they touch, creating monsters - or warlocks.

You see, humans have since learned that communing with a Thing of the Void can give you certain powers over reality. Scary, dangerous, destructive powers - so necessary for human advancement. If you see a person with that unique aura - as if a small shard of the Void was their pet weasel, hiding in their sleeves, scurrying around their necks, you know you have to be careful.

While the Void doesn't seem to be sentient, it can extend a mage's understanding beyond the normal confines of the human mind. It is said that it was an ancient mage who first understood how to cross from one island to another.

## Airships ##

At the core of every island, there is a deposit of a certain material. I don't know what it's called yet, I don't even know if it is a mineral or a metal, or something else entirely. What is important is that this something is what keeps the islands floating. That legendary ancient mage discovered that you can embed this material in a vessel and create a ship capable of floating in the air and moving between islands.

It's been many centuries, or perhaps millenia, since that discovery, and human civilization has changed beyond recognition. Some islands have had their core excavated so thoroughly that they crumbled and precipitated into the Void. Many previously uninhabited islands became populated. Trade networks appeared. The inhabitants of the island that first discovered air travel became the rulers of the first inter-insular empire, and spread their inventions and their rule everywhere they could reach.

I don't know much about the technology involved in building the ships. What I know is that the island Core doesn't simply work as an anti-gravity device. You can't grab a bit and start flying. Certain conditions must be met for it to work. Perhaps it is magic - perhaps technology. I haven't discovered that yet.

I am not happy with this description, I think it is messy and unclear - but maybe I'm wrong and somebody enjoyed reading it, so here goes.
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Re: Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by elemtilas » Sun 21 Aug 2016, 23:33

gestaltist wrote:# Floating in the Void #

This is a world I saw today while daydreaming. The first new "child" born from the idea of Somniverse.
Brilliant!

How many of us haven't dreamt or imagined that there were empires and island-states up on the cloudtops, and when the edge of their lands are approaching, and we can see the sunlight reflect off the high peaks of their mountains, we wonder at the beauty of those unreachable realms!

Even George Lucas and Hanna-Barbera placed great cities floating up in the skies of their planets.

You've got a bit of a different take, here.
I am not happy with this description, I think it is messy and unclear - but maybe I'm wrong and somebody enjoyed reading it, so here goes.
Give it some time! Dream about it some more and clear it up stepwise. Set it aside for a fortnight and then, without looking at your notes or this description beforehand, write another description of this Aetherworld. I find that when I do this, some phrases and sentences will harmonise with what I wrote before; others will bring a new perspective or perhaps describe the place better while others will be more ungainly. You can then take from the parallel versions those sentences that seem best.

For the love of Pete, don't try to over-science this kind of vision! Just run with it for a while and discover what you may from it.

And don't forget to tell us a story or three from all levels of this wonderworld!
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Re: Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by DesEsseintes » Mon 22 Aug 2016, 03:38

...don't try to over-science this kind of vision! Just run with it for a while and discover what you may from it.

I would like to echo this sentiment, albeit without any mention of a "Pete" this time.

The setting sounds promising. Yay, airships! :mrgreen:
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Re: Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by gestaltist » Mon 22 Aug 2016, 10:56

Over-sciencing this world would be a challenge indeed. Working any science into it will be hard. [xD] Doesn't mean I won't try.

Anyways: I thought a little bit about the magic system for this world, and since this is a scratchpad thread, I will simply dump my notes here:

# Voidcallers #

Voidcallers are people who attracted a Thing of the Void and opened themselves up to it. Other Things of the Void tend to join, strengthening the bond.

They are this world's mages. The effects such a bond has are far from uniform: they depend on the individual dispositions of the person, of the attracted Voidthing, and on the local knowledge and skill in manipulating the bond.

It is generally known that things of the void slowly die when exposed to the light - this is why Voidcallers are more rare on the hotter islands, and if they are found there, they have to make trips downwards to replenish their power. Cold worlds have some of the world's most powerful magicians. In the hot worlds, it is more likely to find people gifted by the Beings of Light.

## Powers ##

The powers gained by the bond are not uniform. Most people get some sort of mind-opening experience where they see the world in a new light. This is to the point where it can feel like they are no longer the same person. Sometimes their new views can be twisted and weird - especially since they seem to get a more detached view that can feel psychopathic.

Frequently, a Voidcaller can command his Thing of the Void like a familiar - having it spy on people, etc. The specifics depend more on the specific Thing than they do on the magician.

Some gain the power to reshape matter in various ways - destructive powers are easier and more frequent (annihillation - making something void, after all), but with training, they can learn to reshape and create: it's easier to create formless matter like setting something on fire or something, but with skill, very subtle changes can be made, eg. strengthening steel to become much more durable, or even creating an object "from nothing".

They can also get positive alterations of their own bodies: gaining longevity, ability to not eat or drink, immunity to poisons, etc.

Since the Things of the Void can interact with the human minds, some Voidcallers learn telepathy through them. However, a mind touched by the Void is altered slightly - look at the transformation it does to the mage itself. As a result, the touch of the Voidcaller can be recognized and it is highly dangerous to use this skill due to repercussions.

Visions: of the past, of the future, of places far and away.

## Dangers ##

Interacting with the Void is not safe - it drains your existence. There are several detrimental effects that can vary but are generally directly proportionate to the powers given and used.

First off, the magician's mind is affected even beyond the initial transformation. Weak minds can lose sanity or get more and more alien views - including a lack of regard for own and others' existence and safety, weird motivations, emotions triggered for weird things.

Second off, the Void affects matter: frequently, the magician seems to "thin out" over time, becoming somewhat translucent - this is rather spooky when you can see their veins and bones through the skin. The composition of their organs can also change - at the most extreme, a Voidcaller could, e.g., have a metallic, hard skin, lose the need to eat etc. Of course, these changes frequently simply end up in the death of the mage.

The third danger is indirect - not mastering the powers and doing damage because of that.

The fourth danger is social - some societies honor mages, some abhor them - all of them fear them though.

The fifth danger is mystical - the Beings of Light hate the Void and will sometimes hunt and smite Voidcallers - especially the most powerful or dangerous ones. Due to the rare nature of the Beings of Light this is not a typical danger but only the most powerful Voidcallers stand a chance in a matchup against the Light if it comes to it.

## Training ##

More often than not, the bond with a Thing of the Void is formed by accident. A lot of Voidcallers - perhaps most of them - only bonded with a weak, single being which is barely or not at all noticable and gives them some small power - they could see it as "luck" or a "revelation," etc. Unless such a person happens to live in a culture where Voidcalling is institutionalized, the likelihood of them learning how to bind a new, more powerful Thing and extend their power, is minimal.

There are, however, organizations of Voidcallers that teach others how to use the powers. Some of them only search out people who naturally bonded with a Thing, some force such a bond upon initiates. Most powerful Voidcallers come from such organizations.

Many cultures consciously employ Voidcallers - the advantage they can give can be hard to ignore in warfare and industry. Such institutionalized Voidcallers are subject to a lot of laws and/or taboos to keep their powers in check. They enjoy respect and protection in exchange for learning socially useful powers and renouncing doing harm.

Some Voidcallers dislike this, seeing it as slavery, so underground societies also exist - they have to learn the art of illusion to hide their powers, and they are often actively hunted down, but in exchange they get the freedom to practice the truly dark arts. Legends say that they can learn to make Things animate corpses or possess people and animals, gain immortality, etc. How much of that is true is not really known.
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Re: Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by gestaltist » Thu 15 Dec 2016, 09:28

I've been thinking a little more about my "Aztaoists" (thanks for the name, DesEsseintes!) See here: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=960&start=9560#p243838

This is what I came up with:

The ritual of "soul transfer" consists in a person giving themselves over to another. The offerer lies down on a stone table, and the accepter kills them with a stab to the heart made with an obsidian knife. It is believed that metal interferes with the transfer so iron tools are not used. The accepter then performs excercises meant to absorb the life energy of the offerer.

If the accepter is adept at ŋ̩t͜ɬa excercises, they may successfully absorb the soul of the offerer. In that case, they acquire certain characteristics of that person, including physical prowess, memories, quirks of behavior, etc. In most cases this doesn't happen or only happens to a very small extent, though.

Legally, the accepter is then seen as the same person as the offerer: he directly inherits all titles, functions, and properties of the offerer. That means that the ritual can effectively be a means to bypass inheritance laws and also make it possible to determine your successor in a state position. Disinheriting your children or making a fool of your ruler that way can lead to strong emotions and conflict, but the ritual is one of the most sacred things in Aztaoist culture, and nobody would dare question it.

---

On a related note, I think there will be an Outsider in the floating world originally coming from WOTS. Basically, a particularly powerful master of ngtla managed to punch a hole in reality and fall over into the floating world. The inhabitants of the floating world don't have the same kind of spirit that WOTS-people have, so teaching ngtla there wasn't particularly effective... with the exception of the master's progeny.

ngtla excercises proved useful to Voidcallers, though: since becoming a Voidcaller consists in "inhaling" a Thing of the Void, ngtla excercises became a frequent way to prepare one for trying to become a Voidcaller.

The master's progeny can become Voidcallers, too. However, their spirit interacts with the Voidthings in weird ways, making it much more risky business. On the upside, if they are masters of ngtla at the same time, they gain a unique ability: to physically inhale the Voidthings they control, and thus hide them from the outside world.

As you know a Voidcaller can be immediately recognized due to the Voidthings orbiting him like ribbons of shadow, so the ability to hide your Voidthings, and thus your ability, can prove invaluable.
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Re: Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by elemtilas » Thu 15 Dec 2016, 15:52

gestaltist wrote:The ritual of "soul transfer" consists in a person giving themselves over to another...If the accepter is adept at ŋ̩t͜ɬa excercises, they may successfully absorb the soul of the offerer. In that case, they acquire certain characteristics of that person, including physical prowess, memories, quirks of behavior, etc. In most cases this doesn't happen or only happens to a very small extent, though.
What's the downside?

Is the donor able to choose what he passes on, or can the recipient? In other words, it seems like a wonderful idea, but what if, along with physical prowess and so forth, the donor suffers from debilitating gout and nightmares involving radishes and has an insatiable appetite for farm animals? What about debts (either legal or below board)? The grand title is all well and good for the recipient, but what if that involves international shennanigans & business arrangements of a shady type that no one else knew anything about? Now that the recipient is legally the same person as the donor, how might those business "partners" feel about being so hoodwunk, even if this is a highly respected ritual?

Also, does this mean that the recipient loses his own legal identity, or is he simply assuming a second legal identity? Are the two identities fused? Tell us more!
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Re: Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by gestaltist » Thu 15 Dec 2016, 17:08

elemtilas wrote: What's the downside?
There are plenty, as we will see from my answers below.
Is the donor able to choose what he passes on, or can the recipient?
No, they cannot choose at all. It comes down to the strength of their relative spirits, and the skill of the recipient. I.e., if the recipient doesn't have any skill in ngtla manipulation (or if they do the ritual wrong on purpose), there will be nothing passed on on the spiritual side. The legal part is still considered valid, though, and there is a psychological component to it, too. I.e., if the two knew each other well (which they usually did), the recipient is likely to subconsciously try and imitate the donor, even if no real transfer happened.

If the recipient had the skill required to do the transfer, the donor's spirit fuses with theirs. I don't know if you remember, but the spirit is like a calque of the body onto another plane. I.e., the default direction is for the body to affect the spirit. So, even if the ritual was done skilfully, chances are that there will be no noticeable effect, or the effect will fade quickly, as the "foreign" spirit will get "overwritten."

What is the most likely to stay, and "reverse the flow," i.e., change the body of the recipient to align with the new spiritual situation, are the most defining, and strongly ingrained parts of the donor. If they were a warrior who spent all of their life training, it is such a big part of their identity, that it is likely to stay - and make the recipient physically stronger, but also more likely to pick up exercise. But...
In other words, it seems like a wonderful idea, but what if, along with physical prowess and so forth, the donor suffers from debilitating gout and nightmares involving radishes and has an insatiable appetite for farm animals?
That's exactly right. If the defining characteristics of the donor were a phobia, gluttony, grudge against someone, etc., it is likely that they will be passed on. If the donor were born blind, there is a real chance that the recipient will lose their eyesight, for example. The larger part of the donor's reality something is, the more likely it is to be passed on.

Because of that, a lot of the time, the ritual is done ineffectively on purpose. If the recipient suspects it would be harmful to them to accept the donor's spirit, they won't try and fuse with it. Most of the time, the ritual is done for legal purposes anyway, and the spiritual part is seen as a bonus. The spiritual part is important if the donor was some kind of mentor for you, for example.

Another problem with this is that a person can seem perfectly "fine" on the outside, so the recipient performs the ritual well, only to discover the donor had some kind of painful secret which they now share. Inadvertently becoming a pedophile? Check. Gaining your mentor's physical prowess, but also PTSD from multiple wars? Check.
What about debts (either legal or below board)? The grand title is all well and good for the recipient, but what if that involves international shennanigans & business arrangements of a shady type that no one else knew anything about? Now that the recipient is legally the same person as the donor, how might those business "partners" feel about being so hoodwunk, even if this is a highly respected ritual?
Everything is inherited, including secret arrangements. The donor is supposed to tell the recipient everything they need to know before the ritual, but obviously, they don't always do. And the recipient will be held liable for anything the donor may have done, including crimes. If there is no proof other than an oral agreement, it can be problematic of course, and it can lead to violent conflict if the matter is grave enough.

In international deals, it can be different - if the other party doesn't subscribe to the Aztaoists' belief system, they will likely understand the situation as the recipient becoming the heir or successor, and nothing more. And they will work with that understanding. If the heir/successor should be held liable for something in their opinion, they will go with that. If not - then not.
Also, does this mean that the recipient loses his own legal identity, or is he simply assuming a second legal identity? Are the two identities fused? Tell us more!
The two identities are fused. I still haven't decided what it means for personal relationships like marriage or parenthood.
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Re: Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by gestaltist » Tue 17 Oct 2017, 13:32

Wow, it's been almost a year since I last posted here. Time flies.

Noah's Ark - Nakàr

Reading Sal's conworld threads got my creative juices flowing. Obviously, this didn't result in making one of my existing conworlds better but gave me an idea for a new conworld instead. I am not sure how much I will work on it and I initially thought about posting this in "What did you accomplish today" but I decided to put it here just in case.

So the gist of the idea is this: a terraformed world with AI-assisted evolution of terrestrial life to adapt to local conditions. Local humans lost all memory of Earth and most of their technology after a catastrophic event. No FTL so no chance of contacting other, more advanced humans.

Interesting caveats:
  • a terraformed world means that landforms get to be very different from the Earth. Tectonics do play some part but the planet is riddled with impact craters large and small, and there is a huge rift across one hemisphere (see full description)
  • life is Earth-like but not quite so, and I have a logical explanation for that fact (it bothers me that most fantasy worlds have humans, horses, and dogs "just because" without any cohesion to the local ecosystems) - I also get to choose and pick which animals got imported at all and can expand their biodiversity as I please
  • there is no fossil fuels which puts interesting limits on the local civilization
  • there is no dinosaur bones so no dragon stories
  • there is no banded iron formations so iron is harder to come by and mainly found in meteorites or fossilized ancient cities and stations
  • after 100 000 years, remains of the original spacefaring civilization have crumbled to dust but they lay under the Earth. As a result, deposits of pure steel are a thing, among other things.
  • the Moon is really an AI-controlled terraforming station that's mostly dormant but can produce occasional effects seen as plagues or magic by the locals
  • AI-enhanced evolution means I can have monsters on the planet
  • local humans have been here long enough that I might have some of them evolved into a "fantasy race" if I so please
TL;DR: I get a scientifically sound low-fantasy world with very unusual topology and geology, and some speculative evolution to boot.

Full backstory:
Spoiler:
Nakàr is a working name for a terraformed planet that all but lost its connection to its civilization of origin. It is set in our timeline but several hundred thousand years into the future. Humanity somehow managed to avoid self-destruction and conquered the stars. It developed super-advanced techniques of genetic manipulation, cryonics, and gained understanding of principles necessary to terraform planets and to build AIs capable of overseeing the process. However, contrary to most Sci-Fi, FTL travel is not possible, not even close. As a result, colonization of far-out planets is risky business. It means sending a huge AI-controlled terraforming station containing tools necessary to reconfigure orbits and atmospheres, and to activate tectonics, as well as loads of genetic material to implant life on the planet, and following up with hibernated colonists. All in the hopes that after a lengthy terraforming process, they will successfully be revived and will be able to find a new home.

Nakàr was one such terraformed and colonized planet. It had been similar to Mars: previously Earth-like but later lost its atmosphere and became not much more than a practice target for asteroids. The terraforming station managed to fix the planet's orbit and atmosphere - and it stayed on a stationary orbit to stabilize the planet's rotation. It is huge enough to double as the planet's missing moon. In the process, an ice moon of a nearby gas giant was hurled onto the planet to replenish it with water. Nuclear fusion was used to reheat the planet's core and reactivate tectonics. Subsequently, the AI gradually introduced living organisms, starting with prokaryotes, and adding more advanced plants and animals one after another. With the help of substances increasing the rate of mutations and periodic controlled extinction events, a balanced ecosystem of Earth-like but locally evolved species was created. The whole thing took tens of thousands of years.

At that point, humans were woken up and colonies were set up on the planet. Contact with Earth was established to inform about the success. (Perhaps there is instant communication via quantum entanglement, perhaps only speed-of-light communication - not sure. It doesn't matter for the rest of the scenario.)

Humans successfully colonized the planet, also mining and exploiting other planets in the local stellar system. Their civilization thrived, and all was well. That is, until the Great Breaking happened. It turns out that the reactivation of the planet's tectonics led to latent instability that didn't manifest until several thousand years from the colonization had passed. In a blink of an eye (in geological terms), a powerful tectonic event broke one of the planet's continents in half, creating a rift that could put the Great African Rift Valley to shame. The shakeup from the event, including volcanic winter, killed most of the life of the planet. The violent shift in electromagnetic fields killed off all electronics. The local civilization was wiped out, with only few humans surviving.

(...)

Currently, it's about 100 000 years after the Great Breaking. Life on the planet has recuperated - in some part thanks to the colonization station. The AI recognized the catastrophe as such, and started intervening, trying to get local life back up to its feet. The whole thing has taken long enough, though, for local people to completely forget their foreign origins - and their ancient technologies. After so many millennia, nothing remains of the ancient cities and machines, save for the occasional fossil.

New human civliizations have sprung up since the catastrophe, starting back up from primitive agriculture and pastoralism. They formed new cultures and new languages. As far as they are concerned, Nakàr has always been their home. Only the odd myth alludes to humans having been placed on this planet by gods or to the world being broken through their wrath.
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DesEsseintes
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Re: Gestaltist's Conworlding Scratchpad

Post by DesEsseintes » Tue 17 Oct 2017, 14:42

This looks exciting! [:D]

I like the concept a lot, and several of the premises you mention belong in my conworld Áánene as well, especially the manipulated biosphere and the lack of tectonics.

I hope you don't drop this. I need conworlding inspiration! [:)]
Edit: Oh, I love Nakàr as a name, too. The grave accent adds so much. [;)]
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