Linked Seas 2018-04-19

By Max Woerner Chase

In this post:

I ended up focusing on the nitty-gritty of faster-than-light travel to start with. The main change I made was, there's no longer the idea of the "first travel". Instead, all planets are accessible if they're in range in phase space, but travel between known locations takes so many hops, and the routes change so often, that there's no motivation to investigate or settle most worlds.

This implies that the empire that's going to conquer Kena'o relies heavily on indigenous labor, which makes sense. The fact that they don't look implies that intelligent life is sort of rare. Also, this implies to me that contact gets made when a scout follows a "ghost ship", not from just randomly stumbling across a settlement.

Anyway, let's get back to Kena'o. Okay, I wrote up to the discovery of the empire. Just kind of introduced two more planets into this, rather than pin down more details about Kena'o. Alalusindralaska is the capital world of the elvish empire, and they have colonies on the orc world, Korochgraklos.

We can see here that I have basically zero shame about using stereotypical linguistic features. I'm thinking, Alalusindralaska is not the original world the elves came from. It's no single-climate world, but it does have lots of deciduous forests. Korochgraklos has a very harsh sun. Most latitudes are settled, but the elvish empire only got a foothold in the tropics.

I should try to hammer out my ideas about the elves. Now, I haven't really thought about setting backstory, but I'd say, if this setting has some kind of interested creator, that creator's "chosen people" would be the now-dead empire that's responsible for all these (spoiler) interfertile humanoids on completely different planets. Regardless, from such a creator's perspective, all these humanoids doing things, including the elves, is kind of an accident. Something irrelevant to their plans. But I'd rather mess with civilizations and lower-level, than try to write stories about cosmic bullshit. So, elves. They're sort of inspired by the disgusted reaction my wife had to my understanding of how half-elves work in Tolkien. Basically, that half-elves end up having to choose one or the other, and they become fully what they choose. So, that implies to me that the difference is not biological, to the extent that that's a thing it makes sense to consider in this context. So, what I had in mind for these elves was, they were normal humanoids that wandered into the forest for whatever reason, and their bodies came back with some kind of forest spirit within them. Half-elves then get born with two warring spirits within them, and one must consume the other. I don't have a great handle on what practical effect the different spirits have. Probably something to do with magical ability, longevity, and some kind of feeling of power. Like, the elvish spirit makes them feel like they can ignore "human limitations" and "human decency". Perhaps the most definite effect on their psyche is just feeling "beyond human".

To accompany this, I think there should be a culture somewhere that can kind of swap spirits at will, for martial or religious purposes. They would have different spirits to work with.

Okay, I think I haven't fully worked out what I want some of the details here to be like, and I should probably step away from this and let it percolate. The big thing I want to make sure I'm not botching is the relationship between the effects of the elvish spirit, and the colonial imperialist structure. Fundamentally, the elvish spirit is a tool that affords empire-building. The point is not that they're evil because of the different spirit, but that the elvish spirit is kind of a force multiplier for oppression.

I imagine I'll want to come up with a resolution to the whole empire thing, and probably the way I want to address it is that the elves aren't willing to give up the spirit unless they can be convinced to face life without it. It seems likely that there will be some proportion of holdouts that, at first, would rather go to war, so that might end up being kind of a fixture.

It should by now be obvious that my intent here wasn't escapism. Escapism is valuable, but also, I am really tired of the state of the world today, and apologism for the history of the United States, and this whole thing is probably pretty obviously inspired by that.

What I need now is to work out how to organize all of the data. I want some kind of flowchart structure, I think. Like, I want to focus on events (I really should get the One Man Institute posted sometime), linking contributing factors and effects, different levels of abstraction, labeling with space and time information... And I want to be able to be vague about it where I'm not sure. At some point, I'm basically describing a database of events that relate to each other via arbitrary binary predicates, and have associated attribute-value tags.

Might as well try building such a thing. My gut feeling is to try building it in Lua. Watch this space, I'm going to pivot.

Next week, I try to write a setting database in Lua.