(Posted 11:15 PM PST 2012/11/20)
So, I’m going to cheat a little bit. I wrote a couple of responses to comments or messages on Facebook.
First was Darryl, who had missed my posts that described some of the basics of the setting:
Have you by chance checked out the “Oceans Unmoving” story from Sluggy Freelance? Not for the specifics (you had a finite amount of time and if you ran out of time you froze up), but for the general setting. A giant ocean with no shores as the DOWN direction where gravity orientates, floating islands in the sky that are home to people of all stripes, and flying ships to ferry goods and wage war. Nothing lives in the Ocean and it’s the only way out of timeless space in the story, but with a little tweeking it could be a great fit for the StarSea.
If you wanted to go with that idea, you could have the Ancients building a giant Dysen-sphere (sp?) and live on the inside. After a few million years the Sphere collided with a gas torres and started a rudimentary atmosphere. The Ancients projected that they would run out of room on the interior of the Sphere so they brought in water, suns (probably multiple minor suns or even fusion furnaces in stable orbits), and started terra-forming the surface into a breathable and habitual living space. They made “helpers” (the ones you said might look like elves) to guide the process along and then gave them places to live (the floating islands in the sky) and left them to do the grunt work for a few billion years. During that time the Ancients could have fallen into barbarism and had no way to rebuild their civilization, or they could be ready to emerge from the underworld (to the inhabitants anyway) to occupy the world they made.
I thought about Dyson Spheres and Ringworlds initially, but I found they weren’t fantastic enough, or didn’t fit what I want to do.
The “StarSea” isn’t an ocean; it’s an outer space-like environment. The name “StarSea” is taken from the idea that space is like a “sea of stars.” In fact, at this point, I’m not even sure there are stars as we know them (massive fusion power plants). While I use words like “technology” and “biology,” there will be little in the way of true science. Space ships will get from world to world via some sort of very fast, (literally) magical drive that moves at super speeds in space but slow down in atmospheres. The space between worlds is breathable. There may very well be dragons and undead.
There might be different descendants of the Ancients, that might be hidden on some unexplored world. But I won’t be using an Underdark sort of space, because the worlds are not connected, except through the StarSea.
Friend Eric wrote:
Perhaps one way you might use your elder race is to have them move the world, tweak its position as it were, into a place that is not natural. You know, something like in orbit between two gas giants (which is highly unstable), yet it somehow works. This leaves you with sufficient evidence for your religious groups (The great God Boa is the only being who could have balanced us so. The very cosmos shows us his grand design), and gives you a good reason for a lot of objects sitting around (like the ones managing the complex orbits) drawing energy, and making for some interesting discoveries by your more scientific groups.
The idea being that whatever they leave behind is in its nature open to multiple explanations (some more obvious than others), and is divisive.
I mean, what’s the use of a religious war if you don’t have a good reason to fight?
I’m going to be ignoring a lot of science. For example, the worlds in the StarSea don’t necessarily orbit stars. Stars may just be sources of light floating in the Empyrean, or they might orbit the world in question. Or Day and Night just might happen with no apparent source of light or dark. There may be no gas giants, but rather just small, dense worlds. And I’m not even sure those worlds are round right now, although there is a good chance they will be, because I don’t want to go too unfamiliar. So, I’m going pretty big on the whole “how did the Ancients shape the StarSea” idea. To the point that normal physics don’t really even apply. This is not a setting Neil Tyson DeGrasse would approve of. :-)But this makes it easy for me as a GM; I don’t have to track what effects the gravity on World X is, and what it’s effects are on the PCs, or orbits of planets around the star.
I also don’t want the Ancients even believed to be gods. Gods are gods, beings that are largely unknown, so that the knightly order of the Divinities are in conflict with the other two knightly orders because of their faith. Now, artifacts of the Ancients might be mistaken for works of the gods, but I’m not sure I even like that idea. I just thought of a setting that’s out there that’s more Sci Fi than Fantasy called “Fading Suns.” In it, there is a race called the Anunnaki, and they are responsible for star travel, by having created stargates. They also left other artifacts laying around, but most are incomprehensible. However, they are not seen as being the Pancreator, or even agents thereof, and I want to keep that distinction.
One of the things I’m thinking of is that the Ancients (who I think I’m going to name “the Ür”) are entities for a place like the D&D Far Realms, like the mind flayers. Or maybe a different species of critter that would be even more like octopods.
Of course, these are just ideas right now, and I’m not sure I’m going in any of these directions. It’s something I want to think more about before I setting on anything.
More thoughts tomorrow.