The darkness echoes with the delivery of another young life. This is my favorote time. We are not supposed to have an opinion but I can see who is special. I am able to see into their eyes from a few hours old and tell their future – this one will be a great healer, this one a leader, a third an engineer. There have not been any outstanding siblings for a while. Things seem to be stable. Not like a few years back. I wonder what happened to some of the bright souls who passed through my care. The Citadel is so big I sometimes never see them again.
The nursery is full enough, the young are strong and always beautiful. Not much parental interest as is usual which is not abnormal – as Consors we are the new parents. We start as nanny and surrogate mother, through their maturity, ending up as the closest thing to grandparents many have. It is true that more children of Consors end up as Consors than any other castes – it is the way of things.
We take pride in our role. We are the lucky ones. We get to see the new faces of the future and sculpt how our civilization grows. Tending the flock is the best role you can get. We are blessed with caring.
My name is Dauna as I was born on the cusp of the season when the suns are brightest. I am Consors.
When I wake and until I again sleep, I am a Reeve.
It is a burden but not without it’s pleasures. My days are spent in deep debate with other Reeves, with Artisans in conflict and with Consors who need the permissions they cannot take. Because of my youth I am known as a Mediator and my judgements must be passed to the Reeve Chambers for consideration. I have made more than 700 summary judgements and none have been overturned. When I reach a thousand consecutive correct judgements, I will become an Arbiter. I will have the authority to issue judgements without recourse (though they can appeal).
I must memorise the Hundred First Laws. I must carry a symbol of my status. i must be vigilant, I must always be ready to assist in judgements.
Today I assisted in the judgement of propriety. Society has rules and the Reeve are all stops a descent into anarchy. Without our guidance, Artisans would turn upon each other, Consors would make decisions on upbringing with questionable outcomes.
The Artisans within the Citadel are skilled without compare. They create the greatest structures, like the vast cooling vanes in the heights and depths of the rock. These vanes make it possible to live here and they provide clean, cool water – a true necessity in this hot, bright world. Their construction is certainly the pinnacle of Citadel art and engineering and they are the envy of all.
The Artisans remain aloof from the rest of us. They who maintain the cooling vanes reside at the top of their insular pecking order for it is their responsibility to keep us all alive. Further down are the engineers who build and maintain the tunnels. Farther still are the builders of household machines. And at the bottom are the makers of trinkets, embroiderers and stone polishers. When you are born, they make decisions about which art you may pursue. Through hard work and dedication a lowly stone polisher may ascend through the ranks to become a Vane Master. It has not happened in a lifetime or more but can be assisted through sponsorship from a senior, an advantageous partnership or displays of extraordinary ability.
I would suffer no ills upon them, despite their aloofness, as I can barely comprehend the forces they have mastered. The things I wear I owe to them. They represent the summit of our culture.
I started a thread about Viride in the RPG NET forums and I hope to continue to discuss the game in that neutral forum in the future. There have been a couple of contributors to the thread including some very thought provoking stuff from KRNVR which I think is probably evidence that he/she has the power to read my mind.
My vision for this is that it should be an “open source” type project. It’s a bit crap calling a book “open source” because it’s a term filled with Web 1.0 hype. I would like to encourage others to write here and we should form an editorial team to see if contributions can be hammered into exactly the right “theme”. I see this content then being reformatted into an actual web site with art and everything as well as a PDF which would be either sold or given free, depending on the editorial team, with any profits decided on by, again, the editorial team.
The Citadel can be seen for hundred and hundreds of miles I am told. I have never seen this for myself but it is immense and I have no reason to doubt.
It is a vast, black rock which contains hundreds of miles of tunnels and chambers which are home to tens of thousands of humans who live and work within. These are my people, my brothers and sisters, and they represent all that is good and honourable in this world. There is a saying amongst our people:
In matters of honour, be like the rock.
It would be false modesty to say that we are not a handsome race. Corpulence is a rarity and thought it is true that the most beauteous of us might be considered frail, we are without a doubt blessed. Our skin is pale, almost bluish in refinement and our eyes tend to be large and expressive and ringed with luxurious lashes. I am considered a beauty by many – my hair is long, black and lustrous though I keep most of it wrapped in a long braid down my back which is inlaid with polished stones. I wear a black embroidered tunic and a long flowing skirt. My legs are also covered with the same cloth, the texture of cobweb, and my shoes are hand stitched by Citadel artisans. To some this would represent finery, to me it is something to wear. My hands are frequently covered with embroidered gloves and I have a high collar as is the current fashion. I do not have a veil as I find it to get in the way of my work but I suppose I will have one when I am older. A veil would also serve to hide my nevus and what would be the point of that!
Everything about our culture represents our art and elegance. We are a beautiful people because we dedicate so much of our time to creating beauty and our souls are reflected in our work. No-one can match the craft of our artisans.
I am Zian. I am here to relate this tale.
Here is the Citadel. Hewn from a mighty stone and held fast to the bedrock miles below it is cold where everywhere else is hot, dark when all else is eternally bright. Hundreds of miles of tunnels reach out in every direction and open into vast caverns containing an entire city. We live here and we die here and seldom venture forth upon the scorching sands or gaze at the blinding sun.
Out in the desert, under the unblinking sun, some live. Their bodies are dark, encrusted with the sands of a lifetime in the wilderness. They come to the Citadel to trade. Sometimes for stone, sometimes metal and sometimes words. They bring exotic gifts of food and objects they have found out in the desert. No-one trusts them. No-one can live without water. No-one can live without darkness. We fear them. We must always remain vigilant.
The sand is in everything. It falls from the sky, rises between your toes, in your eyes, your mouth, the water you drink, the food you eat. Out in the sands, there is only light and death. Some of our people fear the sands more than anything. The sand is everywhere. Everywhere but Here.
I was struck by this image when I was looking at protein molecules floating in a lipid membrane. It gave me the idea for a world where civilisation lay on the “rocks” whereas there was a wilderness of dangerous “sands”. There was a considerable cultural difference between modern humans and the humanoids on this world. Differences in castes, upbringing, education, work – all aspects of life.
As gamers we find ourselves presented with different worlds and cultures every week with our game masters. How many of them have similar mores to our own world. They value gold. The epitome of attractiveness is bronzed muscular flesh. There’s good and evil. Evil things usually look nasty. Everyone has parents. They have siblings. It’s just a carbon copy of our own world with a few token changes. Maybe it’s a clone of mediaeval Europe with real magic. Maybe it’s covert operations with a Lovecraftian backdrop.
What I wanted to do was break from the norms of social mores and try to create something a bit different. A bit alien. It’s not the first by any means. Some people can easily point to Tekumel/The Empire of the Petal Throne as one of the most influential “Culture” games. It’s certainly the most alien. I enjoy Culture games most of all I think. I’m a fan of Jorune, of games that are set in far off different cultures (because I was raised in Western Europe, Far Easten cultures are alien to me). I like games where there’s a social aspect, there’s stuff to learn and there’s delight in doing so.
With this in mind, with some conversations with my girlfriend at the time, and with nothing to do I just started writing. Over the next few weeks I hope to tell a bit about the background to this game and then we can see if it’s any good at all.
Thus Viride was born.
Things we have planned:
- game reports – experiences of our gaming groups
- game design – building a novel RPG before your eyes
- tips – things we do before preparing to game
Where do you come in?Â Well, we expect you to share your comments about all of the above.Â Giving your view on a game we’ve reviewed or a tip we’ve shared will help others have different perspectives on the topic.
Perhaps of most interest is the game design: by contributing your views here you get to help shape the path of the game as we design it.Â If you’re keen on designing your own game, seeing one way it can be done will hopefully help you get your project to the finish line.