I very much enjoyed the quality of prose and the tone of this piece. I really found his dissent well characterized, how he started to enjoy suffering and his use of pain to try and track time. I enjoyed reading it, found it engaging and thank you for that. If I had written this I would be proud.
I think as an RPG supplement this is wonderful, players could take this information and discuss "shell hell" as a down side to water travel, wear little turtle offerings totems or maybe even seek to enter shell hell in order to get information from a dwarf damned there.
The questions regarding what the demon wants or his ethos or origin or his deity social circle should he have one are irrelevant from an emotional roleplaying perspective-this is the boogyman of the ocean. But some discussion of those might enrich this as plot device if a gaming group ever needs to deal with Nuverl. For example do you in vision Nuverl as being present ii all water as seen by the dwarves or just sea water? Perhaps when dwarves take baths they wear little turtle totems. Perhaps this dwarven fear of Nuverl extends to all pooled water, and they may touch their totems before picking up a bucket or dipping their hands into a finger bowl (assuming your dwarves have finger bowls).
Some thoughts about the world building and the story telling. These are not criticism but things I might offer where this discussed in a story workshop.
World Building: I like the tone. It is impersonal and it catalogs the dwarves suffering in manner almost devoid of self piety. It has a Lovecraftian feel to it. But if you were to change the journal entries to more personal and self reflective you could transmit more information about the dwarf's world as well as his plight.
For example, perhaps his desirous thirst manifests as some pontification about standing in line at his favorite distillers back home. Perhaps instead of unaddressed journal entries he direct his writing to his son, wife or father and in this way the character discusses his relationship with them. Right now there is very little "dwarf" (no pun) in the story. You have a bit of this in the 45/46 entry. Perhaps you could add more. Of course adding this info. may change the tone, which I think is very good right now, so take that worth a drop of water.
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Storytelling: I would add a climax to the story. Perhaps he finds an exit and almost gets out or feels trapped by on of the other damned creatures and tries to communicate with it. Perhaps he tries to eat one of the other damned dwarves. The climax could only be in the mind of the character in which he thinks something is going to change and he is going to escape or figure it out.
1) Shadow Sigil of Insanity:
You may call it a flaw or unfortunate coincidence, others may call it a brilliant statement on the fruitlessness of war, but the designer thought it evidence of his own cleverness. And clever he was until in his hubris and pride he looked at his own piece of walking shadow art.
When light hits this mech at just the right angle and the mech is standing in the correct position the shadow cast is the sigil of the being known as Penemue. Penemue is described by those familiar with him as a fallen angel and is known as the scribe of the damned. Gazing upon this sigil instills in mortal man knowledge of life’s own futility and his own mental and physical weakness. Those who have seen it grow depressed, despondent and lethargic.
“Hey Covergirl check out this sunset its…woah. You know what? I am pushing 40 and I am still playing with these f**king mechs. What is the point? I’m going to get a calzone or ten.”
2) Small pointy feet:
The feet of this mech do not distribute the machines weight well and instead of distributing weight over the entire foot, weight is forced into three tiny prongs on each leg. This means that road ways and surfaces that would normally tolerate the number newtons per square centimeter produced by a mech of this weight walking or running along it will become broken or damaged. There are other problems as well.
“Staff Sarg-ant! How many times have I told yee to wheel dose mechs out of my hanger? Them feets on da metal floor panels…worse than biting into tin foil.”
3) It looks kind of like giant bird
The birds think so too. Specifically, Megateron Dalvus, this awakened terrestrial bird weighs in at between 20 and 30 tons and is descended from the African green pigeon. The mech design in question resembles, strongly, the female of the species. If you happen to be marching this mech through the Serengeti during mating season you will be set upon by male Megaterons and subjected to their courtship dances.
“You know when said quickly over the comms, Megatron and Megateron sound a lot the same. My bad. Can you scrub the missiles?”
4) Chiral steering
The designer of this mech’s guidance system had a little known and rarely diagnosed mental abnormality. When a normal human brain signals to move the left side of the body, it fires a set of neurons on the right side of the brain and vice versa. This designer fires the left side of his brain for the left side of his body and the right for the right. Normally people with this condition are undistinguishable from people with typical brain geography and the differences are only detected in the case of stroke or brain injury. Unfortunately the mech designer used his brain as a template for the neuro-interface. Thus, when you get into this mech for the first time, you must make every action backwards. A mech operator can learn this skill no problem, but it can really throw a pilot that wasn’t expecting it. There are can also be other side effects”
“Sweetheart, you are sleep walking backwards again.”
5) Bouncy walk
The artificial muscles fibers in this mech’s calves and feet are a little tight. The pilot will not notice any physical jostling because of the excellent gyros and the smooth neural interface of this model. But anyone watching this mech walk through a treeline will notice the profile rise and fall two meters with each step. This will also make precision foot and ankle movement with this mech difficult.
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“If they told us the moon had only 0.1 Gs, we may have sent a different compliment of mechs.”
It is fine, I was wrong to suggest that it is little more than the idea. It is a fun useful idea with some plot ideas and 'possible' things tossed into to make this a tool as well as idea.
So well done.
However, The post-starts with a description of a village that one might find in a travel log in the world of Hairy trees. But you don't realize a village in the write up, and with no resolution, narrative or strong imagery (aside from the teaser) this write up doesn't paint a picture or tell a story. Thus you have a bit of false advertising with the title cause we don't get a village, we get the baby idea. It could be the apartment building of baby cabinets or the space station of baby bulkheads.
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But it is a FANTASTIC idea, this plot device could be used to explore issues of affection versus paternity, racism, maternal instincts, the right to have a child versus the ability to raise a child, the fear of being saddled with a family or the inexplicable nature of life itself. I would love to colab on a bigger write up.
There is lot of information presented in here. I love that we get a lot of the information through the backchannels of the piece and not in the direct delivery. We have natural born wizards, a constant battle between the will of men (or ten year old boys) and the will of nature that wants to burn up the citizens, and shadow beasts the make are agents of human sacrifice. We also have consistent voice in the piece.
You see the person telling us about the road and the city is same person who knows all the secrets. But that is unknown to us at the beginning of the pieces, because the speaker uses a very passive voice and asserts almost a second person perspective. He also tends to repeat himself and by repeat himself I mean say the same thing two different ways, like saying it twice or three times. You see this repetitive voice, it gives you the sense that there is a bit a folktale quality to story. You are a little more tolerant of uncertainty when your narrator is a little folksy.
But what is the narrator’s point? Why is he telling us this story? I am 100% behind writing game stuff like a writer first not a like a gamer. That demands consistent voice, considerations of perspective and bias. You have done that here, and I love it. But I don’t know what the narrator is getting at besides few cheap surprise moments (clean skeletons, the guy coming back after the event, or the boy blowing up his town). Using this narrator’s voice, you use twice as many words or more than you probably need to describe the town.
The use of voice would be even stronger if there was more back channel delivery of information and you might achieve this if we knew a little more about the narrator and his intentions.
How does the narrator know all this?
How can this narrator, who drops so may little “surprises” on by taking the round about way to get to his/her point and not end this story with climax or a hook? You have weak ending that does not fit the tone of the rest of the piece. The piece by its nature promises a reveal and it does not give us one.
Here is a plot idea:
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The people get sent back 500 years and rise to power: spreadout, conquer the world and all that. They then begin to actively support the human sacrifice in Litwell to maintain their defiance of the personified force of history you mention. Thus a plot may be to overthrow the tyrants, you have to stop the human sacrifice in the Litwell, this will pull the tryants ancestors out of time, burn them and eliminate the ruling class. Screw that Litwell return makes everything right idea. HOW CAN YOU HAVE A TIME TRAVEL STORY WITHOUT A PARADOX?