Issues of Life and Death
Posted by docryder
I tried to get this done Sunday night, and my damned computer was killing me, so things never got finished. I have a older “CrackBook” (an Apple MacBook model with poorly designed monitor rests that crack the plastic keyboard bezel) with low RAM and a now out-of-date processor. Sometimes it can just crawl to a stop. Sunday night was one of those times. A couple of reboots and a change of browser later, and things are working a little smoother. It’s nice to see that some of you are wandering by to see whether I’ve got a new post up with me having posted notice.
So, I finally came up with a dwarf concept I like. I believe I’ve commented that I’m looking to throw a spin on some of the tropes of fantasy. My ideas for dwarves just weren’t working for me. They just seemed “blah.” Then some things hit me this weekend, and an idea I like hit me. And it’s related to another decision I’d made about the setting regarding how life and magic interact.
The decision in question was the limits of magic in regards to healing. This is something that will take some tinkering to make work with Fate, as the healing system is actually baked into the character improvement system (which is something else I’d like to tinker with). In Fate, characters are defined by statements called “aspects,” such as “I’ve got [OtherPC]’s back,” etc. Injury is partially handled by a point system (light wounds and exhaustion), and partly by the assignment of special kinds of aspects called “consequences.” While some aspects can be created to be very temporary (like “sand in the eyes”), consequences linger. They’re the “sprained ankles” or even “broken legs” and even in extreme cases, “severed limb.” After every “milestone” (end of a session, scenario, and story), the player can rename and reduce a consequence, representing healing. However, I want magical healing, so this system will have to change somewhat.
On the other hand, I don’t want resurrection to be the option it is in D&D. I want the “Golden Hour.” If you can apply healing magic with an hour of the character dying, then you can bring him back. After that, the character’s soul has moved on to who-knows-where. Same with reattaching limbs, which can lead to magical replacements, etc.
This set of limitations relates to dwarves in that I’ve thought about dwarves being golem-like. So far, though, in the setting, I’ve decided “creatures” like Eberron warforged (sentient golems) can’t exist, as magic cannot create souls. Golems have a certain measure of intelligence (up to computer A.I., but with zero-volition). The summation of the idea that struck me is something like what Chris Perkins was using to explain warforged in his Iomandra setting: fully formed souls come to inhabit a construct. Unlike the Iomandra warforged, the dwarves of the StarSea aren’t dead souls returned to life in new bodies, but are rather coalesced soulstuff inhabiting new bodies through a (more or less) natural process. Before the coming of the Ür, the dwarves were “born” at what the dwarves have come to call “foundry-creches,” natural stony bowls that appeared on their world. Once the Ür began uprooting and spreading the dwarves across the StarSea, new dwarves began forming on other worlds. The dwarves on those worlds began crafting the foundry-creches, and began refining the appearance of new dwarves. The dwarves on Primal worlds have a more rough-hewn look, while those born on other worlds are more like stylized statues, rather than conglomerations of rocks, dirt and roots.
As to gender, I’m considering making the dwarves genderless. They already reproduce asexually, and my thinking is that they come into the world with some basic knowledge (like a large vocabulary), so needing to be nurtured until adulthood is largely unnecessary. The dwarven community shares the responsibility of educating the “newborn,” so again, no need for gender. They will likely have mentor-apprentice relationships, but there’s still no need for gender to enter into picture.
These dwarves are very spiritual sorts, as they have direct evidence of the existence of their souls. They flock to the teachings of the Primal shaman and druids, and the Divine priests and ministers. They join the ranks of both orders regularly. No doubt some would find the “humanist” thinking of the Psions attractive, too. It will take me some thinking on how the dwarves might be drawn to the Arcanists at this point, but I’m sure I’ll think of something.
I’m also considering the place elves in the setting. My current idea is more along the lines of the Sidhe, but associating the elves with dragons. Currently, my idea is that the dragons spread the Wyrd seeds of intelligence throughout the StarSea. However, the first dragon to carry such a seed crashed and died. The dragon’s essence mixed with the seed of intelligence, and the elves were born.
Where I’m stuck at the moment is how to deal with the courts of the Seelie versus the Unseelie, or something similar. I know I can simply use Corruption to explain why the two halves of the race exist, but what the physical differences are is problematic. In D&D, you have the elves and/or eladrin and the drow (who are frighteningly racist and sexist in description). In Warhammer Fantasy, there are the blonde caucasian High and Wood Elves, and the black-haired caucasian Dark Elves (and the Eldar of 40K are pretty much the same). I’m planning on the elves having some draconic traits either way, and I don’t think exaggerating those traits in the evil elves is appropriate, as dragons aren’t necessarily evil in the StarSea.
So, I’m a bit stuck. I need to shake up my thinking, somehow.
Now it’s time for bed, as I work in the morning, so I’ll be curtailing things there for this week. Later.