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Author Topic: Over Under- or why the city sways and no one will do anything about it  (Read 10773 times)
Fiercely Anochronistic
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« on: August 03, 2011, 12:28:24 PM »


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       Over Under

Out of Character

-Is a nonsense word. People do things for irrational reasons, even more so in a fictional world-

Over Under is a city. It is also a feeling of nonsense and 'wtf' moments. The humor should be dark'¦skeptical, irrational, lemming-like! The people are driven to build towers into the sky for reasons no one can remember-for social status. This was an idea that just popped into my head and the more I thought about it...the more I liked it. (I haven't worked on anything in a while as it has been impossible to gather enough people to play a decent table top game in a while...But I like the initial ideas of this bare-bones setting...tell me what you think.)


The public forums where Druids and radical naturists debate the order of nature, civilization and chaos over structure-or vice versa. The forums began as a public court. (back when the city was ruled by Monarch) The condemned were given a chance to sway public opinion in their favor and thereby escape punishment.

Measuring time and space

Towers are measured in increments of time. i.e. that tower is 4 hours tall (it takes about 4 hours to reach the top or the very bottom depending on what direction your headed) The largest tower in the city-the Sanitorium is approximately 4 years tall.

Description and Colloquialisms

If one were to view the city from above you would see a great pincushion of towers stacked on top of a sharply sloping mound- An enormous half-sphere erupting from the vibrant valley. Towers are the choice structure dating back to ancient times, well before the Monarchy began and certainly well before it ended. It is a city ruled by status seeking families that raise their towers each year in an effort to literally elevate themselves in social circles.
   Bragging rights are given to the families with the highest towers. The families are generally civil in the public light, but since resources to build are quite expensive these days, downright murder has finally entered the scene in the last 20-30 years.

The old generation of building noblemen is being swept away for the newer-cut throat generation that would not hesitate to burn a nemesis' tower to the ground, gather up the salvageable materials and proudly add it to the top of his tower in some form or another.
  
    It is the city called Over Under by Outlanders and the Circles in Eight by many others. Eight towers-Eight Directions or Winds-Eight Gods-Eight Laws and Eight Gates.

The planet itself is very'¦ dimply. Great mounds called the pox of the earth or mumps of the gods cover the planet. Flat land is non-existent. One is almost always traveling uphill or downhill. Valleys of varying climates are found between the mounds'¦ranging from murky swamps and vibrant jungles. Shadows come early to these places'¦settlements most often built atop the mounds.

Mining is incredibly important to the families that own towers in OverUnder. Incredible amounts of resources are expended each year to raise the family towers yet another level. It is a status thing and drives families to bankruptcy. No one really remembers why the wealthy began building towers'¦but they do and they probably always will until the city sinks into the earth.

Sinking feeling'¦

Beneath the city proper is a layer of endless fog-a great shelter for the more notorious and unsightly types that inhabit the city. Beneath these fog layers are the corridors or the beginnings of the old mines.

The mines beneath the city proper (the circles part of the Circles-in-Eight) are incredibly ancient and completely stripped of resource. Vagrants and poor shelter themselves in the endless corridors and shafts.  (debating whether or not to have these layers...good stuff for dungeons)
  
When the floods finally came, the old mines were quickly filled with the storm waters. Ghettos of plank wood platforms clinging precariously to solid rock shafts were swept away to the core of the earth. Some suspect the mines are so deep as to penetrate the molten core of the planet...When the floods came the fog descended soon after...

Travel
   Silk covered balloons (filled with flammable gasses of course) Dirigibles? (probably not depending on my final choice of tech level) Chariots led by gold and silver chained birds-the only birds capable of lift of course being meat-eaters. The all-too popular and least successful travel-by-cannon (yup, that's a throwback to Secret of Mana) Bridges, gap-leaping, ropes and ladders. Fountain jumping...And of course the none-too-popular sooo last year travel by foot.

Out of Character

Its a start...I'm having an easier time thinking about this setting visually...I have a few sketches I'd like to upload sometime soon. This is bare bones stuff at the moment but an idea I think might deserve more elaboration
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« Last Edit: January 08, 2012, 01:35:27 PM by Sarisa » Logged


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« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2011, 04:35:31 PM »

Your measurements have amusing potential consequences for tactical movement. How far can you move in a combat round lasting one second?

One second!

More than darkness and skepticism, I get a sense of earnest and impassioned absurdity. A world of endless undulations, and a city that is a thousand quarrelsome Babels squashed up into one.

Make with the pics.
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« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2011, 10:11:55 PM »

Sir Digby Chicken Caesar


More than darkness and skepticism, I get a sense of earnest and impassioned absurdity. A world of endless undulations, and a city that is a thousand quarrelsome Babels squashed up into one.

 Make with the pics.
[/quote]

 Soon...
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« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2011, 11:20:20 PM »

I was referring to your intended humour ("dark, skeptical, irrational, lemming-like!").
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« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2011, 02:36:05 AM »

This looks pretty good, really. I love absurd settings. I like the space-time hybrid measure and mad squabbling nobles with a fondness for towers. It reminds me of the world in Chris Braak's the Translated Man where nobles engage in the Architecture War which is quite similar to this.
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« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2011, 11:41:12 PM »

Fountain jumping?

...the hell? tongue
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« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2011, 11:52:21 AM »

Since Arcane magic (the study of) in D&D 4.0 is pretty rational...Wizards are out. Yup, no wizards. Don't need them.
Sorcerers though...
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« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2011, 03:11:01 PM »

The Wordy Bird is a small, rare bird native to ___ islands.

Mechanical 'knock-offs' are known to the middle upper class of OverUnder. A sign of a truly wealthy nobleman is a well preened, Wordy Bird affluent in lingual debauchery (a filthy mouth).

What makes these birds unique is their amazing ability to learn words...thousands of them. Specialized guilds have evolved over time to perfect the arduous task of training the birds. In the past birds were trained to cast verbal component spells often resulting in disaster for the trainer, the bird, the building and any nearby buildings. Wordy Birds are Immortal in that they cannot die of natural causes. In Over Under it is punishable by death to intentionally harm or bring into harm's way a Wordy Bird- mechanical 'knock-offs' have flooded the market in recent years.

As I have said, Wordy Birds are immortal and often outlive masters or trainers. Some very ancient Wordy Birds, fluent in several languages (dead ones included) are highly sought after in Over Under. They have become repositories for knowledge and develop interesting dispositions over several hundred centuries of being taught all sorts of words and phrases...These creatures are guarded very carefully, and more than one burglar has met a foul end attempting to obtain them.  

The nobles of Over Under are not permitted to directly insult another noble...which has yielded a curious custom- nobles will tie Wordy Birds to their hats (being careful not to harm the creature in the process) and carry on public conversation with other nobles-(here is where the training comes in) Using cues or signals in the form of whistles or other trigger words, the birds will unleash a barrage of insults upon whoever its master targets it at. Festivals and parties where tensions run high among the nobles often divulge into screeching Wordy Bird arguments, the masters blue faced, furiously whistling commands trying to out-insult their rival.
 

Uses in the past have included casting spells with only verbal components, taunting enemies, sending messages and spreading lies, recording court proceedings, contractual agreements, and pretty much any vocation that involves remembering vast quantities of information...for instance architects trying to remember complex dimensions can assign a set of measurements a single, simple word.

The Grumble is a humanoid, grey skinned creature native to Over Under. They are as diverse in appearance as humans; tall, skinny, stocky, etc...  They have always lived in the city and since they have a rather reserved disposition, no one has bothered to ask where they came from. The Grumblers enjoy mundane, repetitive tasks such as operating lifts, hauling goods and performing minor (simple) repairs to structures. The Grumblers speak in a gurgly muted language that gives them their name.

Grumblers loathe skin to skin contact...even among their own kind. They are never seen eating or drinking and certainly not defecating-but they are organic creatures. (their blood is a nauseating psychadelic blue that, in the past was used to dye garments-far out man)

Every Grumbler has an irrational fear of heights. (any height) It is rare to see a Grumbler more than five feet off the ground. (a general rule of thumb is to never put a grumbler higher than his own height-useful when contracting Grumblers for jobs)

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« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2011, 07:43:39 PM »

So far, this setting is sounding incredibly sexy.
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« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2011, 04:50:28 AM »

Assless Chap


So far, this setting is sounding incredibly sexy.


It certainly is.
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« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2011, 09:48:31 AM »

Memoirs of a Justicar's Conversion


On Authority

I suppose I should mention the city is not without its authority figures. There are the Justicars the officers of the God-Queen Medb, and the unspoken rules of the nobles-by god-queen if one of them ever broke a rule publicly it would be all murder and burning towers and in the morning divvying up their shit and stacking it back on top of towers and well'¦you get the idea.

These days, religions are not doing well -not in Over Under. Ask the God-Queen, Medb. Well, she's doing Ok. The other gods, captured. Some say she killed them. Not true. She made them fall in love with her. She stuck them in the eight gates to guard her precious city. They just sit there swooning for all eternity, till the city sinks and the pox of the earth burst.  Listen close and you can hear them lamenting after dark.

Just think of that-the gods so easily bound to a mortal-over love!

Medb never aspired to be much. But she was beautiful; Natural beauty too. Not like that noble gaudiness that's so popular these days. Beauty like a mountain spring just after the first thaw, or a ripe apple at the bottom of a barrel of rotten ones-

Because that's what the world was back then-

A barrel of rot

I think Medb realized this. They tell stories now, late at night when they think she's not listening-but she always is-but then again they misunderstand-they think she would be angry at them for telling stories-But she's not. She loves it. She needs it and they love her and need it too.

But Medb she's Ok I guess-Not bad for an eternal Queen. Actually when you think about it-her decrees given in that soft chime-like voice. Oh! And the way her hand stays an execution-rare as it is. I saw her once. Up on that tower of hers. Higher than any in the city. Just standing there watching the moons. It was me and her and the entire city beneath us,

Over and Under us.

 Yeah-I think I love her.

-Memoirs, Brother Broolian, Justicar of the 4th Rank


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« Reply #11 on: August 09, 2011, 11:47:55 AM »

Test run


 Just trying to get a feel for how an adventure might form in this world. Let me know what you think.


Broolians Bird



     Cambard Broolian, a noble of the 52nd rank has recently commissioned emergency renovations for his pleasure tower, the  Pulchre-Elder II; the foundation of which has suffered severe damages due to rising flood waters. Cambard has ordered his most treasured possessions to be covertly moved to his brother-in-laws tower, approximately 3 blocks (10 minutes) away. Among these possessions are personal documents(mostly poetry of Cambards own design, that would probably be more useful in humiliating the man than selling for profit), some rare artwork from the age of the Monarchy,(depicting the monarch ravishing women, decapitating foes and being bathed by a Grumbler).
   
     The jewel of Cambards fortune is also among the items to be moved. Quetzal, a very old Wordy-Bird given to Cambard by his brother-in-law is rumoured to know the location of the Monarchs personal armory. Cambard has spent the last few weeks trying to crack the birds language code. The Monarchs Armory was said to have been pillaged by invading.....great wealth.

    The adventure would consist of persuading the displeased Grumbler to give out specifics of the move, forming a plan for assaulting either the tower before the move, or catching the caravan out in the open. Either way the Pulchre-Elder II tower will fall by the end of the adventure, letting flood waters finally reach the surface of the city (something which gains the attention of the God-Queen herself).


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« Reply #12 on: August 09, 2011, 12:38:46 PM »

In Character

Beneath the city proper is a layer of endless fog-a great shelter for the more notorious and unsightly types that inhabit the city. Beneath these fog layers are the corridors or the beginnings of the old mines...



 About the fog...

 Residents of this area are effected by what is known as 'fog-sickness' or 'shading'. A popular joke among the nobles goes something like this:
  " A Fogger walks into a bar. Then he walks in again. Then he walks in again. Then he..."

Well, you get the idea.

If one spends enough time in the fog they gain the ability (or sickness depending on your point of view) to copy themselves. "Shading" is quite popular among the religious occult (compare to occult popularity among the Victorian upper class-it's cool but Im only saying that cause its cool to say) Spread too thin, fog and mist dissipate. So too with Foggers.


A shades first copy can eat, drink, feel and hold things, move about and communicate and use all the senses except smell and taste.
A shades second copy cannot grasp or hold objects, and has trouble hearing and communicating. (they sound like they are down a very deep well).
A third copy is very difficult to maintain, but can see. This has proven useful as look-outs and spies.


It should be noted that the original person must stay in the Fog forever-only sending copies out into the world. Cures for 'fog-sickness' have proven mostly unsuccessful, save for temporary effects. It should also be noted that most Foggers consider it blasphemy of one sort or another to attempt to cure 'shading'. It is not known how the sickness is transmitted. As a general rule, anyone traveling through the fog layer will not spend more than a day there for fear of contracting the sickness.

Foggers are distant, quiet and melancholy. They raise families and carry on their lives beneath the city proper. They revere the Mist-King, who is everywhere and nowhere. He has no temples or clergy except for the foggers beneath the city.


The Fog King? Master of shading. Can render up to 5+ shades...
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« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2011, 10:50:48 PM »

uhhhh


 Get ready for a rambling mess...This is something I thought about doing before..Basically it would be a setting as its written type, almost journal style/creative writing exercise type thing. I'm thinking this setting might be a prime candidate for it.


 So I'm looking at the economy of this world. Something I've always had trouble with in settings so I usually ignore it. I'm toying with the idea of the noble tower-building class not being able to own land other than the city blocks that the family tower resides on. Basically, all farmland would be in the hands of another middle to lower type class. A lot of food would be required to feed a city of Over Under's size; and not just your basic stuff. Nobles are picky bastards. They want the best cuts of meat, the freshest vegetables and of course, the best wines and spirits.

 Professional hunters are common-a household may retain as many as 10-15 to search the land for exotic meats and herbs-I suppose rangers would be a good class for this. There are some groups-druid types and animal protectors that in turn hunt these hunters. Druid circles are known to put poisons in the public water supplies-large pools of water pumped in from nearby aquifers. Occasionally, psychadelic drugs will make their way into the public baths and pools and send the city spinning into madness for a week or so. The God-Queens Justicars can only do so much to prevent this.
 
There is also the other element of the nobles diets, narcotics. Psychadelic drugs are for the masses and a few 'cooky' nobles who enjoy a good trip. Nobles go for the 'uppers'. They want to stay at parties as long as possible and these narcotics help them achieve that. It also makes for a psychotic, schizophrenic ruling class that happens to enjoy building things straight up.
Now I'm not saying all nobles go for drugs-in fact some loathe the thought of putting the stuff into their systems. It takes all types to make a ruling class...

 Where was I..? Economy. So if the middle class owns the land for food, and the nobles build towers...why do they need the nobles? (I need another name for the ruling class) Perhaps the God-Queen needs the nobles to build towers to somehow give her power? If she loses her powers, she loses control of the 8 gods she imprisoned in her city walls...Delicate balance I suppose...could make for a decent adventure arc.

Which brings me to the other point. The world is dangerous. I briefly touched on that in the first post I believe...
I suppose the world used to be your standard fantasy fare...gods and mortals and magic. Then the God-Queen came along and trapped all the 8 gods in her city. Which she had just built and populated (somehow). By locking the gods up...say...the gods of war and prosperity/wealth, death and life etc. the God-Queen has overthrown the order of the world. The city is basically a Utopia. If the gods power is hers, she can rule as she sees fit. Imagine her on a bad day...

I wanted to talk about spiders too. Spiders have popped up in another setting of mine... The thought of a very tall tower-city just screams for giant man-eating spiders to lay webs in the corridors, miles above the ground. I think I will call them...

archnids.raznids. razins?wtf. RAZNATHAS

or Razi's for short. slang term. Razi's are nasty creatures. They have urban camouflage markings. I suppose they evolved somehow in the city to become enormous, formidable foes. I think they should keep evolving. A Razi will eat and eat and eat until it get's noticed by one of the many species of birds that inhabit the city. (or circle many miles above it) A Razi that matures will eventually grow so large it shatters its own exoskeleton. It's last meal before this event will determine it's next evolutionary step.

Bird spiders? Man-spiders? Spider-Spiders?

More often than not, this is some hapless noble that was one moment flying around the city in an avian chariot, the next minute having his insides sucked out. Humanoid Razi's will actually be accepted into Over Under society- Some are well established members of noble society.

Razi-Humans (for lack of a better word) are very dark skinned with longer than average arms (+ to reach!). They have an extra joint in their arms-about midway between elbow and wrist, as well as an extra joint between ankle and knee...They have two sets of eyes, the extra placed just above the first human set. The eyelids for this extra pair can be shut for long periods of time-making it appear as if they do not even have them.

Poisons are produced differently in Razi-Humans, depending on the species that ate them. Some produce a powder that shakes off of their hairs. Others actually have venom in their teeth-usually the canines. These venoms are extremely valuable. Some are even more potent than actual Razi's. more...


I guess I'll finish this up with a note about life spans. Since the gods have been locked up by the God-Queen, many animals will basically live forever. Not to say that they can't be hurt by physical means...Dying of old age is almost certainly unheard of. Like the ancient Wordy-Birds, their are some creatures that have lived for millenia. I suppose motivations vary among these creatures...which reminds me...I need to do some thinking about who/what the total badass creatures in this world are..

  Thanks for reading.

Note: Organization


Nope. None. Stream of conscious style here. Maybe if I ever finish this I'll throw it into the Homebrews section. For now, add your thoughts to Seraphine_Harmoniums interesting discussion regarding Setting Organization.


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« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2011, 08:20:35 PM »

About Niffs



Niffs are small creatures that bring good luck. Also result in 'two-shoulder' syndrome. They are advisers for the individual. They are sharp-witted, clever creatures. The term creature is attached to them only because they are not available for PCs.  

They appear to be human babys of about 5 or 6 months old but have fantastic control of neck,arm and leg muscles. They also live for an extremely long period of time. They are capable of full speech, and develop personalities of a full grown human.
 
Niffs are born to human parents (roughly 1 in every 2000?). They are considered good luck and wealthy nobles keep them like pets. It should be noted that Niffs generally attach themselves to people, it is a symbiotic relationship.

Niffs have small wings sprouting from their backs, giving them the ability of a short, awkward flight. They are very beautiful, the epitome of a healthy beautiful boy. They are all male.

Visualize:Niff


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