Shear Anarchy / San Dorado [Worldbuilding Exercise]

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Re: Shear Anarchy / San Dorado [Worldbuilding Exercise]

Post by Heretic »

I am filled with jealousy at how nice this map is. It looks so professional and natural.
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Re: Shear Anarchy / San Dorado [Worldbuilding Exercise]

Post by Siege »

Thanks, it took a fair bit of drawing and redrawing, adding features then removing them because they didn't fit or didn't look right, but I'm finally happy with it.

It's funny how difficult it was to draw precisely what's already been established in my head in terms of topography. For some reason I've been obsessing over the streets and blocks and buildings of this imaginary city for a few years now, and so the map has to check all of these boxes in my head in terms of what's next to where and how each element connects to all others. Kind of like a real map in that regard. At the same time drawing it and seeing what works visually and what doesn't changes less well established elements in my head. The size of the lake and the number of large islands has gone down drastically, for example. And finally some places that I'd decided were somewhere in the city but didn't quite know where yet fell into place because a few doodled lines turned into an inlet which made it make sense for a particularly posh bit of city to be right there.

So yeah, I recommend drawing a map... If you have a ton of time and nothing better to do...
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Re: Shear Anarchy / San Dorado [Worldbuilding Exercise]

Post by Siege »

Ashbriar Wrack (E. canens, Plunged Man's Pulse, huijin jan, Cold Tangle, Shah Dara's Fangs, Kadab Yamik) is a species of murderous multicellular algae native to the south-western coasts of Ninkhursag and the floating islands of the Cataract Sea.

Along the remote shoals dotting the forbidden coasts of Ninkhursag the drab algae creeps in from the deep seas, extending tendrils over the ocean bottom and the intertidal zones of the beaches, turning the waters a sludgy ash. The weed wields a poison touch: it sickens fish and other animals that swim in its waters and coral discolors and dies where it rubs against ashbriar. But most seriously it blights animals and humans, inflicting upon them a terrible parasitic virulence, a bacterial colonization that spreads under the skin in shoots and fronds and hideous clusters of dying tissue. If not immediately treated victims of the wrack invariably die agonizing deaths as the disease corrupts their nervous system, distended red veins swollen with anomalous fungal contagion, turning them slowly and distressingly into tendriled seaweed monstrosities who wail for the sea.

The terrifying nature of the Wrack and general superstition of seafaring folk lead invariably to a myriad ghost stories to form around it. Long before SinGen could couch its nature in clinical terms of pseudosymbiotic bacterial transplantation or tRNA envelopment and injection, sailors of Daedalopolis and Dai Xich whispered of the curse of the deep masters, and how its victims are taken by hydrazoans to tend wicked arboretums in the lightless ocean depths of the Cataract Sea, where the dark weeds grow in waving mile-high columns around unnameable flooded alcazars.

Today, SinGen manufactures an expensive antidote. But in the past infection by the wrack would only be treated by immediately excising affected flesh or amputation of digits or limbs, and sailors who were thought to be too far gone were unceremoniously thrown overboard by their erstwhile comrades. The natives of Ninkhursag burn the wrack whenever they find it encroaching on their shores, though on occasion they have used it to great effect as a biological weapon. Indeed, it was its use as such by the porcelain priests of Great Ninmah against the Dai Xich trade fleets east of Katangha that enraged the Red Emperor so that he rested not until Great Ninmah was burned and salted, along with all its priests.

Ashbriar Wrack reproduces asexually by forming spores in sea and brackish water. When it dies, wrack releases a sulphuric acid that is lethal to other life. The only form of marine life that does not find the wrack completely inimical are adult hydrazoans, who from distant observation seem mostly immune to its contaminating effects. Although mostly a localized problem, the wrack is known to spread to the nomadic islands that drift through the Cataract Sea and its surrounding waters. Through the decades and centuries of combating the problems these floating morasses of coral and micro-organisms typically spawn navies have learned that wooden ships that have been in prolonged contact with the wrack are best simply burned and disposed of. Fahrettin Khayr Vaejah, who first carried tales of the Kadab Yamik to Dar Qimr, lost a ship in this manner. And when ships of the Free Katanghan Navy return from prolonged patrols they are still, before being admitted back to port, hosed down with liquid fire - just to be sure.
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Re: Shear Anarchy / San Dorado [Worldbuilding Exercise]

Post by Siege »

Tyche Fatebringer in San Dorado is commonly depicted - when she is depicted - as a clasically robed woman with feathered wings and a dark 20-sided ruby in place of a head, signifying the facets of fate. To depict the true face of Tyche is an unspoken transgression, because it is a widely held belief that to look Fortune in the eyes is to court disaster.

In the proscribed Lilac Nil tarot deck Fortune Unmasked is the 23rd member of the Major Arcana, a rare and portentous card that betokens ruin, failure, dissolution and undoing. The Nazhindri have persecuted the card and those who dare play it since its first appearance in the 17th century and it is naturally omitted from nearly all decks. Only hand-made versions of the full 79 card deck survive, found only on rare occasions in hidden obeah parlors and in the hands of backstreet oracles who have not even their sanity left to lose.
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Re: Shear Anarchy / San Dorado [Worldbuilding Exercise]

Post by Shroom Man 777 »

"The Nazhindri" :D

Do these guys have an entry?

And I really friggin dig the mutaloidified grotesquestrosities lurking in the oceans of this world. This really strange Realstrange world. :D

Have you already written about factions of road warriors and such? Or like entire diesel-nomad tribes and such? 4x4 Bedouins. Monster Truck Houthis.
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Re: Shear Anarchy / San Dorado [Worldbuilding Exercise]

Post by Siege »

Shroom Man 777 wrote:"The Nazhindri" :D

Do these guys have an entry?
Yes :D (the article is fairly old, I just now dumped it into the master thread).
And I really friggin dig the mutaloidified grotesquestrosities lurking in the oceans of this world. This really strange Realstrange world. :D
Thanks! I'm pondering how lethal to make the Cataract Sea and its floating island cultures; I like that it has elements of terrible Catachan-ity, but still somehow a bunch of people presumably survived down there and even established civilizations before they developed flamethrowers, so it can't all be gruesome eat-your-face-ery.

I wonder if maybe the currents of the Cataract Sea just go broadly in a circle, so you could have floating islands forever chasing each other around the inner sea. So if you can read the currents and the stars at some points in a multi-year cycle you can predict the arrival of a certain trading culture on its floating island, whereas at another time in the circle you know some Ashbriar-infected husk of a pirate barbarian tribe comes crashing into your shore...
Have you already written about factions of road warriors and such? Or like entire diesel-nomad tribes and such? 4x4 Bedouins. Monster Truck Houthis.
Well, there's these folks. otherwise, not so much yet.
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Re: Shear Anarchy / San Dorado [Worldbuilding Exercise]

Post by Shroom Man 777 »

Not-Maori or Not-Polynesians with egalitarian cultures, pseudo-cargo cults on some hand perhaps, obscure weapons or something, perhaps things salvaged from wrecks and bio-horror-consumed patrol vessels, or alliances with tech-equipped outsiders from hippies to military commanders gone Kurtz...as well as refugees! Refugees with a grudge against those who persecuted them, perhaps with the knowhow to somehow help these islanders, accepted by the more forward-thinking locals (who are exposed to the outside world through piracy!).


...and a practice of smearing themselves in the juices of these rare sea sponges or corals or seaweed-gelatins from strains that have developed immunity to your biohorror algae. Extracts that they can use to also disinfect whatever else is exposed. With goggles and masks for protecting other vulnerable parts.

This either directly shields and neutralizes the algae's toxins or counteracts it in the blood stream or on a cellular level kind of like how having atropine spam cellular receptors blocks out the nerve gas molecules and prevents death, or anti-rad iodine likewise spams the thyroid so there won't be any space for contaminated iodine. It might also have an effect in diminishing other forms of pain, some kind of euphoria or battle frenzy, or it can make people live longer or conversely shorten their lives? If you want to be gonzo, prolonged use can alter the skin, turn people into albinos or scale-skinned reptilianoids or smooth purplish-skinned, strange hair-colored folks that outsiders would mistake for merfolk.

Big Pharma SinTeks from San Dorado would send mercenaries to try and find the secret of a potential miracle cure, cue Crichtonian techno-science-thriller akshuns. Electro-laser fences and energy beams bisecting superintelligent killer gorillas plus horrific hippo hordes and Tim Curry eating all the sesame cake. :D

Anyway, also maybe the absorption of outsiders and an enlightened islander polytheism and philosophy might have occurred before in the past, when they contended with proto-globalization but before the age of GPS and sonic electronic ballbreakers and ekranoplan-deployed drone-assisted killsquads, maybe they did so during the age of sail or the age of steam and over the years the islanders - on their own accord - became Captain Nemos and then Wakandas! :D
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Re: Shear Anarchy / San Dorado [Worldbuilding Exercise]

Post by Siege »

The Hecatomb

The corporate HQ for biomedical giant SinGen is arguably the most striking skyscrapper in the San Dorado skyline. Not because it is the largest or the tallest building (it is neither), but because the Hecatomb doesn't look like a skyscraper at all. Its locale Jericho Island is the smallest of the Downtown islands and wholly owned by the Sinclair family. Their base of operations is a warren of basalt spires and stacked white-washed concrete triangles that emerges out of the bedrock of the island in a way that looks grown rather than built. This appearance is further enhanced by hydroponic gardens and conservatory plazas overflowing with greenry on each of the superstructure's interweaving levels, draping the building in shrouds of evergreen plants and brightly colored blossoms.

The Hecatomb's jagged and seemingly chaotic contours are precisely calibrated for San Dorado's equatorial proximity, mitigating solar heat gain throughout the year. Semi-mobile sun-shading 'leaf' curtains allow daylight to enter while shielding the building from the worst glare and heat. Solar panels and geothermal pumps guarantee net-zero energy status. The Hecatomb peaks at 412 meters. Just underneath the crest of the skyscraper a 72 meter tall illuminated sign beams SinGen's logo, the twin snakes of the caduceus morphed into a genetic helix, in striking viridian across Lake Ventura. Near its base the Hecatomb tapers off into irregular building clusters that blend into the rocky outcrops of the island to finally disapper into waterside parklands. All buildings on Jericho Island connect together, with the sole exception of the isolated Sinclair family compound on the opposite edge of the islet.

At night, but even during the day, it can be difficult to tell where the island stops and the Hecatomb begins. In this way the skyscraper's dazzling design is said to reflect its owners' intentions to improve upon mother nature's work - and do it in such a way an onlooker might not immediately realize anything was changed at all. Semi-organic motifs are repeated throughout the building, from its grandiose entrance hall featuring a sixteen story waterfall to pod-like elevators wrapped in brass leaves, carpets made of living gengineered grass and the ubiquity of indirect, softly pulsed light. The subway station serving Jericho Island is acclaimed for its organically curving architecture that famously features not a single fully straight line beyond its platforms.
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Re: Shear Anarchy / San Dorado [Worldbuilding Exercise]

Post by Invictus »

It's quite fascinating if this is the world's equivalent to architectural Late Modernism/Brutalism, resulting in sloppy implementations of it being designed and erected all over the San Doradan continent. Their image of a stereotypical public housing development could be some kind of noisome demi-organic urban hive choked in badly tended greenery!
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Re: Shear Anarchy / San Dorado [Worldbuilding Exercise]

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The Shalem Mile is a critical energy infrastructure hub on the eastern bank of the Slate, a ten mile stretch of southern San Dorado. Ninety percent of the liquid fuel exported to the Palmaran Grace flows through the Shalem Mile, which also houses everything from generating plants and pipelines to pumping stations and the Goodnight Point nuclear power and reprocessing plant.

Oil and liquid gas comes into San Dorado from the offshore berths of Devant Sound in the northeast. Pipelines connect the harbor to Russet Ridge, whose skyline is defined by the largest refinery on the Astrafican continent. Russet Ridge turns raw oil and gas into petrol, kerosene, diesel, ethane and other materials for chemical industries in nearby Vandycke Park. A significant amount of their product in turn is destined for export to captive markets further south, where San Doradan companies have a death grip on local economies. After the 1907 Disaster* however ships carrying dangerous cargo were banned from crossing Lake Ventura and the Palmaran Grace lacks the harbor capacity required to feed the continent's appetite for oil and gas.

To solve this issue San Doradan companies constructed a number of pipelines that run from East Ward south into the Sprawl, up the Catkins and into the Grace and beyond. In order to push considerable volumes of volatile liquids up the steep slopes of the Catkins large pumping stations were required, and these in turn required vast amounts of power to run. The Shalem Mile is the consequence, a convergence of pipes, powerstations and high voltage wire forests on the bank of the Slate which provides the water necessary to cool it all.

The Shalem Mile is located in the depth of the Sprawl, the city's violent and unruly underbelly, yet its security is urgently important to a number of San Dorado's largest and most profitable enterprises. Perversely this has not made its administration any easier. It is run by a complex management model in which every corporation involved in some aspect of the operation of the Mile is represented. This does little to discourage competitors from trying to force each other out in order to further their own influence. Subsidiaries from SANDEX quarrel with Acheron and Helix for control of the pipelines; meanwhile, Coldstream Delta is slowly but surely expanding the size and scope of its nuclear site, the largest single CD facility outside of the San Veronica valley. Security to the Mile is provided by a shifting patchwork of contractors with clashing priorities, conflicting hierarchies, deficient communication and unclear paramountcy.

At various points in the past have criminals and insurgents made intrusions onto the Mile, damaging critical infrastructure or stealing valuable items. Another recurring problem is Sprawl locals hacking into the raised pipelines to steal the crude oil and gas and refine or sell it on the streets or abroad. This dangerous illegal tapping has caused a number of catastrophic disasters. The leaking pipes, makeshift refineries and inevitable corporate retaliation continue to take a terrible toll on the environment and the local population, who are amongst the poorest and worst off of the entire southern Sprawl.


* The 1907 Disaster was a maritime catastrophe in which the fuel barge SS Jehoram caught fire and exploded after a collision on Lake Ventura. Vast volumes of burning oil spread across the lake and were carried by wind and water into the shore of Shevirat island, large areas of which burned down as a result. At least two thousand people died in the smoke and fire.
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Re: Shear Anarchy / San Dorado [Worldbuilding Exercise]

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Teyrnon Canhastyr prides itself on being 'unconquered and unbroken', but this is a historic lie. Its history counts several invasions, some more overt and succesful than others. When Daedalean historians first write of the Caiseal islands in the 3rd century, they mention two distinctive indigenous peoples: the rhegedin (followers of Rheged) who occuppied the south and the interior of the islands, and the mearci (whose name is taken to mean marked or scarred people) who dwelled on its northern coasts. These two peoples lived hard and frequently violent lives in a shifting patchwork of kingdoms and tribal confederations across permafrosted Caiseal. Over the next century the Daedalean Empire undertakes some efforts to 'civilize' the island, bringing literacy, its religious practices and the concept of an overking in the form of the emperor, although these are never fully assimilated.

The mid 5th century marks the first shift in the gulfstreams of the Whittlesea and with it comes a wave of invaders. The Huelf Wid come over the sea from an unknown place in the west, a strange foreign people with slanted eyes and mysterious customs. Their name today is believed to be a bastardization of Huong Yueh ('Perfumed People'), a group of river people lead by a banished prince who fled the war-ravaged northern provinces of Dai Xich. In surviving accounts they are described as dark-hued with raven hair, not as well suited to the cold of the isles but nonetheless formidable in their science and military arts. Their leader was Chau Van Tỵ, the legendary Wolf of the West, whose name would eventually become synonymous with his kin and be immortalized as Canhastyr. Although much diluted after centuries of intermarriage the kith of the High Potentate to this day still look different from the 'native' inhabitants, carrying in their blood clear markers that trace back to the Amlathi continent. When Chau Van Ty first sets foot on Caiseal in 441 however it would still be many centuries and countless tribulations before his house could rightfully call itself masters of the isles.
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Re: Shear Anarchy / San Dorado [Worldbuilding Exercise]

Post by Siege »

Shakeltruss Sound runs southeast from Rookhill in West Ward, past Red Gate before emptying in the Slate just north of Shevirat island.

Starting in the 15th century the banks of the Sound became a popular place to seek escape from the increasingly busy city center of San Dorado. Patrician families built small weekend residences here, the ownership, size and beauty of which soon became another way to express and measure a family's wealth and influence.

The 17th and 18th centuries saw the high water mark of the San Doradan palazzo. Elegant and ostentatious manors and townhouses sprawled along the banks of the Shakeltruss Sound and the tree-lined avenues of Weehawken, Magnolia Woods and West Verdi, each attempting to outdo its neighbors with marble facades, columned balconies and gilded ceilings. Inside the well-to-do hosted academies and literary salons, discussing natural philosophy and political controversy whilst bankers and shipowners plotted in secret against their enemies in the city or abroad. These grand houses, while luxurious, also frequently had suspiciously fortress-like aspects and featured internal courtyards, secret doorways and hidden shrines that reflected the covert and furtive nature of their owners.

In the 19th century West Ward fell out of favour with the super-rich. The growing coal-fired industries of Shell Sound and Black Creek blew smog and noise south, whilst steamships noisily rattled up and down the Sound. The city's wealthy increasingly preferred La Palma and the bucolic fishing hamlets of the south-west Palmaran coast, which thanks to the miracle of steam could now be reached by train. The arrival of San Doradan ultrawealth would prove devastating to these small villages, pricing families out of their ancestral homes whilst increasingly larger steam yachts disrupted the fishing industry that had sustained generations of coastal communities. Meanwhile the great soot-stained townhouses of Shakeltruss Sound one by one fell into disrepair. Some were simply abandoned or collapsed on their own; many others were torn down to make space for the High Westerly railway that came to connect Rookhill with the mass of the city of San Dorado as it expanded steadily in all directions through the mid- and late-19th century.

Oddly however it was the same coming of the railway that in the early 20th century that would reinvigorate the grand old palaces. As travel times decreased and it became more practical to work in the city whilst living outside it the new captains of San Dorado's industries took a liking to the fancy old palaces of their predecessors. Once again West Verdi and Weehawken became desirable neighborhoods to own a home in as a sign of wealth. And so as broadcast towers, dance halls and neon lights of Radio Row arose on Narrow Street the great townhouses on the other side of Redgate Hill were rejuvenated too, the jungles cleared from the old cobbled streets and long-defunct gaslit lamps replaced with modern electricity.

Today most of the remaining palazzos are again owned by the ultrawealthy or their companies, serving as luxury corporate retreats or prestigious clubs. Once again there is scheming in the ancient libraries and hidden staircases - because as much as San Dorado changes, some things always remain the same. The very greatest of the old palaces are worth fortunes simply by virtue of the significant acreage of the surrounding gardens; however, even the smaller townhouses along Torch Avenue and Ione Ridge are still flamboyant and much sought after expressions of San Dorado's First Golden Age - and thus enormously expensive. A tiny handful of these grand palaces are still in the hands of the old families that once built them, ancestral piles of stone and gold and secrets.
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Re: Shear Anarchy / San Dorado [Worldbuilding Exercise]

Post by Shroom Man 777 »

San Dorado, the city, needs an Arkham Horror style boardgame for its locales. :D

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Better yet, you should GM a game! We're all past adolescence so we can all make non-wank PCs! :D
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Re: Shear Anarchy / San Dorado [Worldbuilding Exercise]

Post by Siege »

:-) If there's enough interest I certainly would like to run a game!
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Re: Shear Anarchy / San Dorado [Worldbuilding Exercise]

Post by Heretic »

Today most of the remaining palazzos are again owned by the ultrawealthy or their companies, serving as luxury corporate retreats or prestigious clubs. Once again there is scheming in the ancient libraries and hidden staircases - because as much as San Dorado changes, some things always remain the same. The very greatest of the old palaces are worth fortunes simply by virtue of the significant acreage of the surrounding gardens; however, even the smaller townhouses along Torch Avenue and Ione Ridge are still flamboyant and much sought after expressions of San Dorado's First Golden Age - and thus enormously expensive. A tiny handful of these grand palaces are still in the hands of the old families that once built them, ancestral piles of stone and gold and secrets.
The decadent, eldritch imagery is strong here.

Would be interesting to see a story set in the San Dorado universe, see it from a personal view.
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Re: Shear Anarchy / San Dorado [Worldbuilding Exercise]

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Shroom Man 777 wrote: Tue Feb 21, 2017 3:26 am
Better yet, you should GM a game! We're all past adolescence so we can all make non-wank PCs! :D
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Re: Shear Anarchy / San Dorado [Worldbuilding Exercise]

Post by Siege »

Heretic wrote: Fri Feb 24, 2017 8:46 amWould be interesting to see a story set in the San Dorado universe, see it from a personal view.
One is under construction, but past experience (read: my lazy ass abandoning stories midway through) has taught me not to post it until it's actually finished.
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Re: Shear Anarchy / San Dorado [Worldbuilding Exercise]

Post by Booted Vulture »

Siege wrote: Mon Feb 27, 2017 11:55 pm
Heretic wrote: Fri Feb 24, 2017 8:46 amWould be interesting to see a story set in the San Dorado universe, see it from a personal view.
One is under construction, but past experience (read: my lazy ass abandoning stories midway through) has taught me not to post it until it's actually finished.
I have enjoyed many first chapters from you. :)

Not that I can throw stones on that score.
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Re: Shear Anarchy / San Dorado [Worldbuilding Exercise]

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The dominant topographical aspects of the Cataract Archipelago are geoturbulence and neojungle. Virtually all features of the Archipelago developed from a single event near the end of the Pleistocene, about 20,500 years ago. A significant asteroid impacted the landmass that at the time was the center of the Cataract Sea. Turbulence in the shocked planetary crust caused rapid uplift of parts of the surface whereas other parts, particularly those near ground zero, collapsed and sunk to or deep beneath sea level.

The impact had global climate efects, darkening the sky, disrupting weather patterns and causing a worldwide glacial period that only let up relatively recently (in geological terms). But its greatest effect by far was the total transformation of what had once been a budding protocontinent into a vast archipelago of volcanoes and half-sunken islands. The Cataract Archipelago remains extremely geologically active to this day. New island volcanoes continue to rise from the sea and earthquakes collapse parts of islands back under the waves.

In this violent and uncertain environment only the hardiest and relentless organisms survived. The archipelago is a harsh and inhospitable landscape of impenetrable jungles and sulphuric chasms, earthquakes and sudden pyroclastic flows, toxic plants and murderous beasts. It is home to the bala elephant spider, ashbriar wrack, the Green Spiracle giant hunting millipede, various species of deadly mobile spores and crawling funghi, and a multitude of other flora and fauna inimical to human life.

As a result of the region's inhospitability human settlement has traditionally been confined to the coasts of the archipelago, with much of the inlands unexplored to this day. The greater civilizations of the region such as Ninkhursag and Cham Veng have traditionally relied on trade and fishing on the seas surrounding the Cataract Archipelago. Even today exploration of the inner regions of the Cataract Archipelago remains fraught with danger, a fact to which multiple vanished expeditions over the last decade alone can attest.
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Re: Shear Anarchy / San Dorado [Worldbuilding Exercise]

Post by Shroom Man 777 »

I bet some of these organisms... well, let's just say that the asteroid probably brought some unexpected things with it that survived the impact. :twisted:
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Re: Shear Anarchy / San Dorado [Worldbuilding Exercise]

Post by Shroom Man 777 »

Idea:

In Metal Gear Solid Phantom Pain, a prequel set in the 1980s with missions spanning from Afghanistan to Angola, we see a bunch of bosses, freak mercenaries, with ridiculous superpowers gained from microorganisms that dissolve elements, from metals to corrosive substances, and so some kind of symbiosis with these organisms allows freak mercenaries to have superpowers. This explained the 1960s-era freak mercenaries from Metal Gear Solid 3. Except by the 80s, there are like several units of them with ridiculous powers like covering their skin in metal, drawing huge boulder-sized chunks of jagged metal from the earth and hurling them at SNAAAAKE, emitting signal-jamming aircraft-crashing clouds... whatever. Because of PARASITES.

The jarring thing is that some of these abilities seem to be on par with 2000s-2010s-era Metal Gear Solid 1-2-5 freak mercs enhanced with NANOMACHINES. Which is weird. We also see a psychokinetically enhanced Metal Gear go all gundam or Zone of Enders... in the 80s! Whereas we don't see anything nearly that crazy in the 2000s with a more modern Metal Gear... even when the same psychic, now grown up, is in the same base!

ANYWAY this makes me think of Shear Anarchy because...

My only explanation is that because in the 2000s era Metal Gear games, the freak mercenaries were rogue elements of actual-factual government Special Forces. SO... MAYBE... the Green Berets and Airborne and Navy SEALS had restrictions on what their consenting operators could be subjected to. Because of oversight and regulations.

Whereas in the 80s, the freak mercs we saw were these Illuminati-ran forces deployed by random PMCs, not official (albeit secretive) American gov't spec ops. So who knows what ethics violations and human experimentations these guys could do. Definitely potentially more radical and unconstrained by regs and oversights than gov't forces.

So... this applies to Shear Anarchy/San Dorado because despite the strange anachronistic Strangereal setting, in which I don't think nations have orbital bombers and where some parts of the world are in weird ass Mad Max states... I think freak mercenaries produced via unethical human experiments sound like just the thing this setting would have!

Imagine Srdjan Karic's Sjenskan spec ops with ESP abilities!
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Re: Shear Anarchy / San Dorado [Worldbuilding Exercise]

Post by Siege »

I like the idea of freaky human enhanciles but it's difficult to make sense of their impact and proliferation (or lack thereof) through the years of a setting's existence. The existence of mercenary enhanciles in the sixties sort of begs the question of why they're not even more proliferate, say, twenty years later as research and techology improves. You end up with Marvel-esque 'lost super soldier serum formula' situations to account for the fact that there's not hundreds of these guys running around a decade after the first experiment, and you can have only so many of those handwaves before you start looking a little silly.

I also secretly question the sense of enhanciles, cool as they may be, as a military investment. If a half billion dollar cyborg is only used for obscure commando operations, is that really a sensible way to spend the budget? Wouldn't Karic use that guy for his secret police instead of somewhere a hundred dollar artillery shell might at any time bring an abrupt end to his investment? Much as I like the NANOMACHINES SON vibe, I'd like for things to also at least make a surface level of sense. Mind readers and invisible assassins and such are more useful (and IMO way more scary) as a dictator's political tools than as military kit.

I'd like to allow for a variety of metahuman approaches, from mechanical enhancement and biological freakazoidity to arcane mindfuckery, oracular elder powers and maybe just having a penchant for punching things with your mind. All of these however run into points 1 and 2. It's pretty important to me to implement them in such a way that any story doesn't run into the question of "why don't they send in the guy who can read people's minds / bend reality / punch skyscrapers". There was a sense of that in CSW, where every story inevitably seemed to gravitate towards the deployment of anomalous super commandos in the final act. That is something I'd want to prevent.

So, yeah I'd very much like to have them, but in very limited numbers and I'm thinking about the ways various groups that would have access to them would deploy them. And I'd like them to not always be the obvious groups like states or big corporations. Maybe it's mostly churches or crime syndicates or underground groups of gypsy true believers who've stumbled into a sense of power. Maybe it's more like Hellboy, with a bunch of half-crazy sorcerers and Nazi remnants running around half-forgotten temples, or like Iron Fist, with the Seven Cities of Heaven sending their Immortal Living Weapons around the world. The implementation bears thinking about.
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Re: Shear Anarchy / San Dorado [Worldbuilding Exercise]

Post by Shroom Man 777 »

Before all the NANOMACHINES and explanations, in the first three Metal Gear Solid games (I almost wrote films), their ridiculous superpowers were made out to be just these inexplicable gifts that despite being harnessed for military purposes were nonetheless sufficiently freaky and odd that one really didn't consider the potential of mass producing 'em.

"Guy's covered in bees!" or "some Romanian kid who went Carrie on his abusive dad, got work profiling for the FBI, is now in the military" or "some Inuit shaman with a gatling gun" were just sufficiently out there as to not raise the questions you brought up. But then yeah when it got to "NANOMACHINES!" and "oh we cultivate parasites to do this!" then it raised all the questions with SOD-breaking ramifications you just mentioned.

Hmmm... so with that in mind... for the stereotypical black ops paramilitary freak mercenary, I think maybe it could be achieved through things like low-key biohacking. Like guys with insulin pumps fueled with stims. Or hackjob nerve-removal shticks to make guys immune to pain ala World is Not Enough. Or training that's exotic enough that while it might work for a few Chosen Ones with the aptitude for it, it's too inconvenient to mass produce and not worth it for parties that have attack helicopters and tanks. Like a bunch of people who've developed this immunity to a certain kind of neurotoxin generated by some nasty Shear Anarchy critter, so their group likes to air-disperse the toxin to mess up opponents while they themselves can go around killing all the debilitated.

I think it can be so that the gimmick is attained through ethically dubious methods AND the benefits don't entirely outweigh the risks and costs of doing them, so it can make sense that professional standing armies wouldn't even bother with these methods, but desperate cartels run by nuts and other smaller actors might resort to these to get some kind of edge... like those Special Goons in James Bond movies.

So... yeah, like what you said.
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Re: Shear Anarchy / San Dorado [Worldbuilding Exercise]

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Yes, if the circumstances by which one comes into possession of these abilities is sufficiently 'out there' so as to be not easily replicable, then it makes sense that the groups of people that have these abilities are small enough and hopefully low key enough to not completely take over the entire setting.

I was thinking there could be an entity out there (from the Nazhindri pantheon) that just gifts people with occult abilities seemingly at random (not dissimilar to the Outsider from the Dishonored games). Some of 'em are devoted priests, some are rich idlers from San Dorado, some are criminals up to no good, and the entity itself is sufficiently incomprehensible that its reasoning is unclear (or even that it reasons at all). This would lead into a recycle of the Charlene's Daemons concept I dreamt up for Comix, with a number of them recruited (willingly or less so) by an outcast priest to FIGHT SUPERNATURAL CRIME.

There's also the School of Night for rejected knowledge as a source for ceremonial magicians, and even in its earliest incarnations SinGen was tinkering with fusing gribblies dug up in the jungle with human DNA. In my current thinking the result of that is several generations of experiments resulting first in horrible monsters but later in horrible monsters that can pass for human with increasingly alarming ease.

Maybe throw in some remote villages from the Cataract Archipelago where chosen warriors undergo a gruelling shamanistic procedure that bonds their body with ashbriar wrack? Monks from the Ninth Temple of Krung Khes Kraom's whose aikido is so strong they can turn not just the momentum of opponents but that of entire bits and pieces of reality? A mercenary captain from Canhastyr's Beringian Wolves who always instantly knows when she's being observed, even through camera's? Things like that. Not easy (or maybe even very desirable) to replicate, but it's out there somewhere.
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Re: Shear Anarchy / San Dorado [Worldbuilding Exercise]

Post by Siege »

I'm considering the possibility that this world has both an eccentric orbit and a tilted axis of rotation. As a result the southern pole is tipped toward the Sun pretty much all the time, accounting for why the northern hemisphere is significantly colder than the southern one.

An odd meandering orbit might also account for the lack of orbital infrastructure; every once in a while its orbit takes it through the solar systems' 'plane', which happens to consist of fairly dense fields of space rocks. This is a problem for the people on the ground (in unlucky years the planet essentially takes a space shotgun to the face, in really unlucky years the Cataract Impact happens, and that's an extinction level event). It's even more dangerous for people in space, because they don't have an atmosphere to shield them. Hence no space stations and limited satellites because they just get pelted and swept out of the sky after a while.

I'm really not sure this holds up in terms of orbital mechanics, especially considering the planet is also supposed to have a fairly large moon (like ours), but it at least sounds like a good explanation for the highly asymmetrical climatology and the assorted weird weather and ecological phenomena I want to have around.
"Nick Fury. Old-school cold warrior. The original black ops hardcase. Long before I stepped off a C-130 at Da Nang, Fury and his team had set fire to half of Asia." - Frank Castle

For, now De Ruyter's topsails
Off naked Chatham show,
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