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Sunday, November 1, 2020

Mappae Solis: Villages of the Elves, and the Shard-Holts of Terra

 The Villages of the Elves

In the same vein as the Copses of the Halflings, I am going to use two combined tables of 6 to produce a variety of different villages for the elves.

Elven culture is based on the answer to one question: what does it mean to be human? Whether this is a philosophical question or a query into fashion, each village is essentially a subculture, exploring specific answers to the question. Villages may grow or shrink in popularity and population as fads come and go, or even vanish overnight as the elves finish fully exploring the fashion.

Source: Christian Benavides

 Philosophical core of the village:

  1. Emulation. Mimicry is the sincerest form of flattery. These villages focus on replicating human culture and behaviour, whether it’s a specific shard-holt, or a remembered or recovered remnant of pre-Fall humanity.

  2. Creation. To be human is to expand and grow. Stale mimicry has no point in truly “being human”, and it is only in the creation of new ideas, fashions, and art that the idea of humanity can be achieved.

  3. Discussion. Fashion is important, but more important are concepts. To be human is to think and ponder, and it is only in the deepest of thought that humanity can be found. And really wanky literature.

  4. Striving. To err is human, therefore to be human is to err. Instead of chasing perfection, failure is the goal. Trying things beyond your ability, striving for the impossible is the very essence of humanity. 

  5. Deconstruction. If to err is human, then obviously everything humanity did was wrong. While their achievements are impressive, it is only in doing everything different from them that you can become them. Meta.

  6. Anti. Don’t just specifically do the opposite of what humans do, do whatever. Freedom from constraints, ignoring humanity, is the secret to self-actualisation, the true heart of humanity. Not that you care or whatever.

Source: Zhengyi Wang

Fashions of the elves:

  1. Courtly. High fashion, elegance, and impeccable manners. Whether historical, modern, or fictional, these elves will make anyone who visits their village feel slightly shabby.

  2. Everyday. These elves wear casual workday clothes, and often have polite but warm mannerisms. They are still slightly fancier and neater than they should be. Often try to appear rural or “down-to-earth”.

  3. Goth. No one knows what historical period or country these elves are mimicking, but there’s a lot black and skulls involved. Which is interesting because elves don’t have skulls, and don’t often know what human ones look like.

  4. Bright. The exact fashion varies, but these elves like bright colours. In fact, they often extend into the ultraviolet, leaving some visitors confused as to why their eyes are stinging, but drakuu and halflings love it.

  5. Norm. These elves are normal, thank you very much. Beige is in. Shoes are shined. Everyone smiles. They still haven’t nailed human gender roles completely though, so expect neatly pressed dresses on buff moustachioed gentle-elves, and artfully ruffled shirts and trousers on slender figures.

  6. Crust Punk. The closest elves have to dissidents, or radicals. Display every form of bad manners and often violate closely-held elven traditions, taking joy in freaking out visitors with inhuman displays of flexibility, beaks, and skin flaps.

Source: Anthony Jones

The Shard-Holts of Terra

Most shards are Shards, large crystal or metal pieces embedded in the ground, shrapnel from unknown and gargantuan structures that no longer exists. The rest vary a lot, as do the holts that spring up around them. Terra is a dangerous place, and long-term habitation outside the protective radius of the Shards is impossible. Places that seem safe might hide buried threats, or simply lack protection from extreme events such as un-storms.

Un-storms are one of the driving forces behind the shifting terrain on Terra. The begin as a series of lights in the sky like golden aurorae, while simultaneously blocking out sunlight, eventually replacing it altogether. Wind vanishes, and sound mutes. Slowly at first, parts of the flora, fauna, and landscape below start liquefying, droplets of matter beading off their surface and flying upwards into the light. As the un-storm worsens, entire animals, trees, hills, and unlucky travellers dissolve into thick rain that vanishes upwards. When the un-storm has completely darkened, forming a thick boiling cloud, it will stop absorbing matter from below, and drift for potentially hundreds of miles before depositing its burden in strange formations. Survivors, marked with neat little pockmarks on their skin, will talk about how they felt nothing, and only noticed when they looked down.

Source: Ryan Lowe

Types of shard that stop your skin from floating away (if you don’t want to go with a standard Shard):

  1. Ghost. Some memory, spirit, or broken holographic recording lies buried here. It replays specific scenes under specific circumstances, and the holt most likely has legends, festivals, and rituals based around these events.

  2. Space-time. These shards have no physical presence. Instead, some part of the holt behaves oddly. A certain area might experience time at a slightly different rate, or the area of the holt might be impossible given its radius. The people might use this, ignore this, obsess over this, or study this.

  3. Liquid. Some shards are pools of odd liquid. The colour and characterics of the fluid vary, as does its behaviour. Some dissolve metal but nothing else, some glow brightly but are cold, some move away from contact like a living thing. The holt values the liquid, and in cases where it is not self-sustaining, guards its reserves zealously.

  4. Building. Some holts are within ruined structures, or rest upon their outer surfaces. These structures might be empty, or dangerous, or solid, but whatever the case, they offer shelter.

  5. Gravitational. These shards are areas of disturbed gravity. Whether higher, lower, or angled, this results in odd holts. Some might appear to cling precariously to the side of a cliff, but to the residents be perfectly flat. Others might have elegant and high-reaching structures, or low and squat buildings. The people might change too, the effects of gravity compacting them or lengthening them. 

  6. Biological. These shards are living creatures, or at least appear to be. Usually either sessile or localised, they are cared for and tended to by their holts. Tree-like shards will be strung with lights and carefully fertilised, animal shards will be regarded as local deities, and the rare mobile shard will have a nomadic community that follows it closely.

Source: Terry Vanatta

Types of holt:

  1. Agrarian. These holts have no particular technological, material, or unique resource, but they can grow food. Some shards seem to assist in this process, making land far more productive than it should be. Generally quiet places, these holts are highly valued for their produce, and will often have a few lucrative trade routes with dwarven hives.

  2. Coastal. The oceans of Terra are, if anything, even more dangerous than the land. The rare shard that has part of its influence extend into the sea will have a thriving fishing port, and even the occasional coast-hugging trade ship, though such daredevils are widely regarded as insane.

  3. Mining town. Whatever it is, you only get it here. While common metals are more easily acquired from the dwarves, these holts mine exotic deposits of rarer things. Almost never used for their intended purposes, strange materials buried in the fall can be used as high-quality and unique ingredients in many things. Some can only be worked using secret techniques, and some grant additional effects. To a traveller, a hydrophobic cloak is worth its weight in gold.

  4. Trade hub. The routes between Gates shift and change, and cannot always be relied upon. Those holts fortunate enough to have several nearby gates, or even a single Gate with several stable routes, can guarantee an constant flow of goods from the farthest spheres. Often richer and more cultured than other holts, their currency is probably one of several recognised and used throughout the system.

  5. Arcane. These holts are either known for peculiar shards, or fortunate locations. Regardless, although they engage in the farming and trade necessary to survive, their greatest strength is their wealth of knowledge. Anomalous shards and locations attract the curious and scholarly, and over generations these bloom in universities, monasteries, and a general morass of academics. Whatever their original goal, like attracts like, and it is these holts that libraries are built, theories made, the past delved into, and scraps of godtech collected and misused. 

  6. Isolate. These holts don’t like you. They don’t like anyone. Self-sufficient and insular, they may react aggressively to outsiders. Trade routes that pass through these holts rarely last for long, and little is known about them by outsiders.

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