Monday, October 14, 2013

[Dreaming Stars] A Sample World, Part 4

Continued from Part 3...

Once again we turn to the Random Nations Generator to create a first world for the Dreaming Stars setting.

Major Races/Species

OK, let's see... The Kushtaka is a human-otter shapeshifter, but radical mass changes like that are a bit extreme even for soft science fiction settings like Dreaming Stars, so I'd like to keep them to a minimum. But perhaps the dominant human subspecies on this world has some otter-like features - fur and some adaptations to a semi-aquatic environment. Perhaps much of the world is covered with vast archipelagos where such modifications would be useful. And the fur indicates that the climate there would likely be very cool.

On the other hand, perhaps there is one large continent which is largely desert where the Reptilians thrive. Are these simply another human variant with scales and other modifications suitable for a desert lifestyle, or a native sapient (or semi-sapient) life form? Perhaps then the aquatic modifications of the first group was also intended to ensure that the two species don't share the same environment - just as the aquatic humanoids would feel uncomfortable in the desert, the desert-dwelling Reptilians would not like it among the moist islands...

Two major groups of sapient inhabitants should be enough for any planet in the setting - and we also have those genengineered cat-people dreamers, remember? So what to do about the "Kitsune" entry? Well, presumably the otter people have tails for better movement in the water. But perhaps there is a rare mutation in the population which causes birth of children with more than one tail - and perhaps these don't have the standard Precognition psionic power native to the species, but instead powers of Luck Control and/or Illusion...

Significant Creatures

Just like Talislanta had a wide menagerie of strange creatures, we want to come up with strange creatures inhabiting our world as well. The random generator provides us with:
The Rat King implies that some kind of vermin which grows in power and awareness as more of the creatures come together and form a hive mind. But let's not use rats - let's use beetles instead. Perhaps they come from the desert continent and thus didn't bother the otter people before - but now that they have reached a higher tech level, they need some more dry spaces in their cities where those creatures can spread. Presumably they are most of a problem in the foreigners' quarters' where the Reptilians and people from dryer worlds gather...

Grease Devils are an urban legend in Southeast Asia about people or spirits covered in grease attacking women. I don't really want to introduce entities into my setting whose sole purpose is to assault women, but maybe there are otter people who instead of banishing their negative emotions into artwork like all the other faithful try to suppress them instead - until they finally snap and become near-mindlessly violent. As a side effect, their oil secretions (which all otter people have, in order to insulate their fur and skin from the cold water) go into overdrive, but the real bad news is that they spontaneously develop new psionic powers which amplify negative emotions in those they attack. The dominant religion, of course, uses this as a warning of what happens when people don't follow their dogma...

As for the Hag, let's turn that into a humanoid reptilian creature distinctly related to the reptilian desert dwellers. It walks semi-upright and could be mistaken for one of the otter people from a distance, but while cunning it is not really sapient. And it is much better adapted to the colder and wetter regions where the otter people live. While it can tolerate being in the oceans for a while (which is how it spreads from island to island), it prefers to live inland instead where there is less competition from ocean-going apex predators.

Cultural Influences

While we have a fair bit on the dominant religion, let's see what other cultural influences we can put into this world...
As a large, arid land Ethiopia is not exactly the model I would have chosen on my own for the island-dwelling otter people. But the Random Nations Generator rolled it up, so let's see what we can do with this. I think we can take the long-running monarchy which was converted to the dominant faith by missionaries from elsewhere - perhaps early Dream Travelers? And the monarchy was deposed only fairly recently, while the faith still remains strong. Since Ethiopia also exports a lot of livestock, maybe the otter people don't just fish the oceans but actually herd the aquatic animals they kill for food - and possibly these herd animals also produce other valuable items even when they are alive.

Meanwhile, Bolivia doesn't even have a coast but is entirely land-locked - and what's more, it is extremely mountainous. But presumably the desert continent has a huge mountain range blocking all the rain - and on the rain side the weather might be humid enough (and cold enough, at the higher elevations) to make the climate tolerable enough for the otter people. Perhaps their main religious center is high up the mountainside, and pilgrims climb the path up to there on foot...

The Cathars are, of course, another religious group - which also believes in Dualism, like the main faith! But they were also heretics in our world, so how can we create a similar heretic group in this one? Perhaps they believe that bad emotions cannot be purged via artwork alone, but just via meditation and prayer - since creating artwork just anchors one to the physical world, which was created by the evil deities of the previous universe...


To be continued...