From the tall spires of Takvanak, you can see only the plains, stretching far away. It’s so developed now it’s hard to imagine how it once was, dust-shrouded and cold, and how inhopsitable to our barbarian ancestors. From this height, the farms with their shambling segmented beasts look tiny, microscopic. The grain runs off in dark lines across the fertile uneven brown, and fades into the blackness of far-away.
Far above the cog-clouds roll, just visible in the shadow, revealing tantalising patterns. A small shower of dust-rain falls about four miles away, swirling flakes caught in a shaft of light that pierces the clouds.
Throughout the city the bells are ringing, in musical imitation of the Iron Heart. But bells are irregular and uncontrolled, no matter how pleasing a peal it is. Nothing compared to the soul-shuddering call of the Saekeri. I wonder if it will happen in our lifetime? The priests think it is long overdue.
I have been experimenting with this idea: a microscopic world inside a clock. They farm woodlice and worship the Cosmic Order of Things which seems to pervade the heavens, epitomised by the ringing of the Iron Heart below. A stringent order of priests hold sway with very definite views about the Cosmis Order, but there are controversial scientists who challenge their theories and maybe some who have guessed the true nature of their world.
The inhabitants have inherited the ability of walking on vertical surfaces, so their city is an intriguing three-dimensional place. Their world is filled with deep chasms, vast cliffs and moving parts.
It’s not often you get to justify using giant insects by having microscopic player characters, but a glance at pictures of some of the parasitic microbial horrors that inhabit our everyday world would give you a ready-made Monstrous Compendium for this setting.
There is very little natural light except that which penetrates the mechanisms to fall onto the Dusty Plains. I envision their level of technological sophistication being quite high but purely mechanical, wooden and unlike any conventional, real-world inventions. As such, it’s a world without magic-users, but their place is filled by natural philosophers and engineers.
The strict priesthood gives rise to many secret sects with their own views on the world, ever fearful of discovery. I suppose it’s a bit like Renaissance Italy, except inside a clock.
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Additional Ideas (4)
So I find myself thinking about what resources and technologies these people will have.
I am thinking most of their materials will be "organic" in nature. Carpaces of woodlice and other insects, ceramics made of "dirt" (dust), and thick liquids made of yeast/ molds/ spores/ microbial critters, would be their resources. They might pick up wood splinters from the walls of the universe (but really tiny ones). That would form the logical basis for their world.
So lets move beyond that
There is an ecology here. So there must be the equivalents of plants. I am thinking microbial bushes and "trees" made of some kind of microflora like a yeast. They might have a "wood" from these trees, eating the "fruit" (budding sex cells off the yeasty top). They might culivate molds and such as well, so there would be a "grass".
If this is the case... then we have a wood, metal (in terms of carpaces from the giant monsters and the exo skeletons they leave behind), and ceramics (made of compressed dust pieces). In other words, they have all the makings of an bronze age technogical society, where cold hammering and shaping of "metal" is the possible.
Who are these Tiny People? I kind of put the cart before the horse. We need to define them first.
If we were using real science, they would have to be gloppy bits of protoplasm or insects. So lets toss that out right now.
I propose the Tiny People should be fantasy micropeople. They look, approximately like humans.
Here is my proposal for their appearance.
They are a thin spindly people. Their skin color is a pale yellow (not a sallow human skin, but an honest to gosh pale yellow). Their hair and eyes will range from reds to browns in color. There eyes will be quite large and almond shaped. They have elegantly long necks and a very erect posture. (This is enhanced by the ballet like dancing they do, in mimicry of the God Pattern they see above).
In terms of scale, they will be stronger and faster and tougher than their human scaled counterparts. They will also be able to leap great distances proportionally speaking. Perhaps there is an athletic skill for leaping they might have.
A few links to help get us started...
We have an ecology of sorts, based on microflora and microfauna. A glance at pictures of some of the parasitic microbial horrors that inhabit our everyday world would give you a ready-made Monstrous Compendium for this setting.
We have a tiny peoples that are relatable to by players.
We have the basics of their material culture. Mostly, it is "organics" harvested from either dead animals or cultivated/ herded animals.
We have a society of some technical sophistication, making a near gearpunk world (All the mechanical work of a steampunk world, but without the steam... water is precious here). We have no magic here, or if it is, it is just a belief (which may or many not have benefits).
So what do we have startings off...
I suppose it's a bit like Renaissance Italy, except inside a clock.
Thus we will have many city states. There used to be one empire long ago. However, the disasters happened (the clock moved and shook and such). The Empire fell. In its place are the two dozen city states of The League, a few outlanding states, and the barbarians on the borders.
We have a world in the throws of a rennaisance. The technical is expanding. There was a change in their social situation which has allowed the new to challange the old.
They have had a culture tightly controlled by The Faith. The Faith believes in the cosmic order of things, in the Great Rhythem, in time. Their view of a clockwork universe might be more colored by the heartbeat of the world and the vibrational patterns of the world moving. This view of the Order of Things is epitomised by the ringing of the Iron Heart below. The strict priesthood gives rise to many secret sects with their own views on the world, ever fearful of discovery.
You can never be agnostic or even atheistic here. The details of the clockwork world make unshakable proof that there is "something there". However, Science! is leading us to other interpretations of what is here.
The Faith is throughout The League and is based in one city that has grown in importance because The Seat of the Faith is there.
The Faith has been about faith, about belief in the order of things. There might even be a logical philosophy in The Fait.. probably in some of the sects. That "rigerous thinking" might extend into other things... and of course... SCIENCE!
There has always been well crafted things here. However, they are primative in their basic construction. They do have limited materials. However systematic study of things, and the cognitive ideal or focus of how one thing will lead specifically to another... repeatably. This leads us the same direction it did on our world - technology.
Clockwork/ gearpunk equipment is now becoming available. These technical advances are making changes by leaps and bounds. They bring prestige and wealth to the followers of The Science! Controversial scientists who challenge their theories and maybe some who have guessed the true nature of their world. Natural philosophers are riding on the engineer's coat tails to become more important in the scheme of things. Their theories on "The Universe", "The World", and "Society" will eventually change things. Or if nothing else, the way someone or several someones looks at the world. And that person/ people will change the world with their ideas and what they do with it.
So we will fill things out with the brushstrokes drawn from the Italian Rennisance period.
Thus we will have Art!
We will have "Nationalism" or "Civic Pride" as a driver of people.
Trade is important. So we will have caravans or better yet ships on skids that move along the dust filled plains.
We can have dueling and martial arts. They will be unarmed combantants mostly, but perhaps a short sword/ long dagger (made from the claw of something). They will use it as the duelists/ fencers in Italy did. However, they will be unarmed combatants as well.
War over resources.
So anyone else want to add to what we have here?
WHEN a Greek sponge diver called Elias Stadiatos discovered the wreck of a cargo ship off the tiny island of Antikythera in 1900, it was the statues lying on the seabed that made the greatest impression on him. He returned to the surface, removed his helmet, and gabbled that he had found a heap of dead, naked women. The ship's cargo of luxury goods also included jewellery, pottery, fine furniture, wine and bronzes dating back to the first century BC. But the most important finds proved to be a few green, corroded lumpsthe last remnants of an elaborate mechanical device.
The Antikythera mechanism, as it is now known, was originally housed in a wooden box about the size of a shoebox, with dials on the outside and a complex assembly of bronze gear wheels within. X-ray photographs of the fragments, in which around 30 separate gears can be distinguished, led the late Derek Price, a science historian at Yale University, to conclude that the device was an astronomical computer capable of predicting the positions of the sun and moon in the zodiac on any given date. A new analysis, though, suggests that the device was cleverer than Price thought, and reinforces the evidence for his theory of an ancient Greek tradition of complex mechanical technology
More at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antikythera_mechanism
So Bronze Age does not mean low tech, just low material tech.