This potent drug is, amusingly enough, the byproduct of a thaumatechnologic process; many factory owners produce the base, unrefined form of the drug, flushing it away nightly as unwanted thaumic pollution, unaware that the clear, vicious sludge washing down the drain is worth more than the rest of their operations combined. It is this alone that keeps the supply of the drug limited, as producers closely guard their secret.
Godsweat is, at the most basic form, thaumic energy distilled into a fluid form. By itself, it has little application, although a Mage may tap it for a boost of power, and a Whisp can happily feed on even a small dose for an extended period. Properly refined, however, it becomes a clear, slightly viscous fluid that has several potent effects, not the least of which is the intense euphoria that accompanies use.
The benefits of Godsweat are enhanced strength and speed, sharpened senses, and wildly creative surges that make the drug popular with athletes, artisans, and thugs alike. Mages also find that the refined form amplifies their spellcasting talent, insulating them from the risk of overloading themselves for a short time.
The detrimental effects are wild and powerful mood swings and the hazard of sensory overload while under the drug's effects; depression and a feeling of sensory deprivation upon coming off the high, as well as a vulnerability to thaumic effects for a short time; and repeated use risks psychological trauma and disease similar to that which can result from long-term exposure to thaumic pollution. Go to Comment
I disagree; sometimes short and sweet is all it needs. This is a simple, easily understood sub; it exists to counteract energy weapons by being the space age equivalent of a sword-breaker. Go to Comment
The former. I expect the residents generally make it something like a part of their birthday celebrations; honoring another year of life and light by adding to the Cathedral.
I also expect that in other places, such as Tarralein, there's slang along the lines of 'trying to make a Cathedral' to refer to some overly massive and grand project someone is trying to accomplish; the wealthy baron trying to build a fifty-story-tall statue of himself as a 'present to the city' is the kind of thing. Go to Comment
It is possibly to make a potentially hazardous light source via thaumatechnology, yes.
And actually, since Kuramen uses Siren's elemental gods, the undead are actually creatures of Light, as the Goddess of Death is also the Goddess of Shadows, and tends to regard undead as a violation of Her domain. Go to Comment
They do; they can recall anything they knew while still truly alive easily. Mages, owing to the ridiculous dangers of their profession, rarely have close relationships with anyone save for other mages, however. It happens, but when you may explode in a wash of energy capable of decimating the entire town at any time you do the signature behavior of your profession, it tends to put off potential friends and lovers. Many mages are even estranged from their family for the same reason. Go to Comment
They very definitely cannot be treated like any other undead; even the liches of normal high fantasy are easier to handle than a Hollow One. The closest thing to one of these creatures is the rare instances of a lich that takes the time to work its way into society, gaining social prestige and power as it does so. A Hollow One, on the other hand, is seen as an asset by rulers in Kuramen, as they are spellcasters who don't risk a thaumaturgic backlash that could level the city. More than one medium-size city-state or moderate-sized nation has a Hollow One serving as adviser to the ruler across multiple generations, considering their access to knowledge and their magical capabilities more than worth the cost in spiritual energy they require, usually relying on prisoners or a special cadre of servants for that purpose.
For other worlds, you could indeed vary the damage their touch inflicts, and how long the effects of a feeding last; without the stolen spiritual essence, a Hollow One can only learn in a detached way; the visceral kind of learning that lets people develop learned reflexes and instant recall of knowledge is only possible with that 'charge' present. A Hollow One who steals entire souls and gets merely a day out of such wanton consumption would be a juggernaut, rampaging across the land in a frenzy of hunger; one who merely dazes the victim for an hour or so and can get by for a day or more would hardly raise curiosity; perhaps it could pass itself and a voluntary victim as someone with a spouse who has 'vapours'.
I'm glad you like that turn of phrase. The notion of magic and unnatural things having colors not known to us is one I've been fond of since reading The Colour Out of Space, and was reinforced with Discworld and the color octarine. The Hollow Ones are basically vessels of raw magic, sustained in a terrible half-life by energies beyond the ken of normal minds... It seemed fitting. Go to Comment
That's pretty much it; deprived of their living soul, they can gain an academic understanding of things, but there is nothing within them to allow the interaction to 'take hold' and root itself in their psyches.
When they feed, they gain the ability, for a brief time, to truly learn once again. This alone provides a motive for those tales of the 'dreadful undead wizard' that conquers a settlement and enslaves the populace; rather than a workforce, it requires a steady supply of soulstuff in order to be able to grow at all, rather than slowly collecting the dust of centuries. Without this, their learning is, at best, a distant thing that they have to concentrate on to recall; it is entirely possible that with enough time unfed, they would begin to lose what they had learned while alive, eventually having their sense of self decay away into mindlessness. Go to Comment
This is a fascinating concept; not likely under the rules which my steampunk world operates on - magic itself is too inherently dangerous and the degree of energy involved would give good odds of both drawing every Whisp for miles and provoking a severe case of thaumic fallout every time it was produced.
However, given the somewhat different rules in operation here, it's awesome. I particularly like the way it gives things coated in it a misshapen, lumpy, and organic appearance, even if the underlying object is a thing of angles and planes.
And I am glad you appreciate the term tossed out to describe this kind of thing - thaumatech just sounds better than 'magictech' or 'technomancy' in the sense of a steampunk feel, don't you think? Go to Comment
Applied correctly, I could see it having quite a few uses above and beyond what is described above; a bit of Aphex matter, bound around, say, a vial of Chaosmark's True Ether, could make for one hell of an effective bomb. An antigravitic effect might be possible as well, if you sealed something in it; I doubt you'd really want to fly anything with this property, because the moment the effect destabilizes you'd drop like a stone, but it could be used for some truly gargantuan devices.
I like the notion of a true vacuum letting it be stable; perhaps the city could stockpile it in a specially-designed storage space, halfway out of existence, where the normal environmental effects don't apply, and where perhaps, not being exposed to these radiations, it remains a semi-fluid. Maybe exposure to normal radiations is what makes it set, kind of like cement curing, rather than the heat radiating away from it. Go to Comment
The steam-guards and the tinker-trains are some of those derivatives of Kuramen's "steampunk gone wrong" vibe. Kuramen is dangerous enough that most trade tends to be done via armed and armored caravan, and the very best of those are thaumatech-based, without any need for animals to pull the wagons along; instead, you get a line of armored wagons, each one venting plumes of steam as they roll along their set trails, each one usually packing at least one or two people who can operate the weaponry on the wagon itself, and maybe one in three or one in five having a guard outfitted with what amounts to a steam-powered exoskeleton. It's much safer to use the thaumatech to boil water than to drive the armor and wagons through straight thaumatech; sometimes even a single rune is sufficient, while driving the entire wagon or armor by itself would be at least a glyph, and more likely a full script, with all the hazards attendant to such 'dense' collections of energy.
The arrowheads are the result of a conversation with Siren about the trolls. He has informed me that my notion of cancer arrows is just rude. I agree with him, but the notion seems fairly inevitable. I could see something similar in the form of a siege engine that flings a load of organic garbage laced with some fragments of trollflesh; it would seem at first like a typical plague-spreading shot, until you had a troll or three drag themselves out of the heap and come after the inhabitants. I'm sure there are other similarly nasty uses for these monstrosities.
Kuramen is getting a lot more of my attention right now, as I intend to write a story in it come NaNoWriMo at the end of next week. I may post some of the component bits involved in it, like the thaumic meters, or the City Spirits - a kind of Small God that is effectively the living soul of a settlement or city district. Go to Comment
You always hear stories of trolls putting limbs back on, or about how a troll can grow a new limb/body/etc. This is just the extrapolation from that notion and filtered through the lens of Kuramen's steampunk-gone-wrong nature. Honestly, I woke up a few days ago with the rough idea in my head, no idea why it spawned, and haven't gotten it to leave me alone until I finished writing it down.
Frankly, these things would scare the hell out of me if they existed in our world. Go to Comment
Thank you. It's not much more than a logical extrapolation, I feel, using the rules of the Kuramen universe. (Can I really call it a universe, the way it's split between True and Far? Then there's the way it's starting to tie into the Realms I mentioned elsewhere, with Soreen and his Gloom...) Go to Comment
Hive aliens are 'traditionally' more of the central-nexus-with-limbs breed of "hive mind" - that is, rather than being a genuine hive awareness, the drones are little more than additional appendages of the Hive Queen.
This, however, is a much more accurate concept of a hive mind. Decentralized cognitive processes, which would have numerous useful results. A true hive species is one where the hive is what can be considered the entity, while the individuals comprising it are more aptly considered cells of the hive's collective body. I've seen this brought up in some of Stephen Baxter's novels, usually as human colonies in marginal conditions evolve into 'eusocial' hives due to generations of evolutionary pressure.
It's a good take on the Hive, and it certainly beats the random Swarming Devouring Horde that must be beaten by killing the Queen. This species, killing the queen is probably the least useful tactic for rapid victory. You could, theoretically, halt the hive's replenishment, but if they have pupal-stage members of the hive still, the Hive would likely just spawn a new queen from one. For these creatures, their 'society' is a unity. Individuality is irrelevant. They don't assimilate other races, and likely don't even really need to compete with them; I expect a hive that has been existent for a while will have a very long-term view on the universe and probably relatively progressive views on sustainability practices. Go to Comment
/If/ FTL communications exist - and just because FTL drives may exist is no reason to surmise an FTL communication system does; it may require the physical drive to move something at FTL speeds, after all - then if the hive could use it to maintain contact, it becomes even more potent; a single Hive could spread across the galaxy or universe to the range limit of said radio, effectively making it almost invulnerable. Also, FTL communications do not certify instant communication, merely that communication can happen faster than dictated by the lightspeed barrier.
And the hive isn't imprinting, as it stands, I believe. The entire hive, literally, loads itself aboard a single ship or a small fleet that remains in close enough contact to remain coherent. You /couldn't/ imprint a single Hiver; their neural systems aren't developed enough on their own for such a thing, and that would essentially inflict a form of individuality on the hive member, which is essentially incomprehensible to the hive. It'd be like you having a single strand of hair that you instruct to keep an eye on things, then pluck from your head and leave it to do so. It just... Doesn't work. Go to Comment
The player characters, experienced and somewhat well known, hear rumors and travelers' tales about a distant area being overrun by dragons (or other terrifying monstrosities). The locals have sent them a message, begging for heroic aid.
When they investigate, they discover that nothing of the sort is going on. It turns out that a group of thieves wanted them out of the way so that they could rob them (or someone who would normally receive their protection).