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clarence

Odd Soot - Magical SciFi in the 1930s

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Hi all,
 
while waiting for the publishing formalities to get sorted out for BRP Space, I have been working on a scifi setting I'm very happy with. Last week I finished the groundwork for the book and would like to show you what I've been busy with. 
 
It's an alternate history set in the 1930s where Christianity never caught hold in the western world. As a consequence, traditional shamanistic magic has partly survived and scientific progress, untethered by religious prejudice (together with some luck), allowed humans to go into space much earlier. In the 1880s several intelligent alien lifeforms, stranded without FTL for two centuries, were encountered. But a terrible disease called The Odd Soot is assailing the interstellar community, and only a few tragic heroes are standing up to the threat. 
 
Cover plus short blurb below it.
 
And here's a link to the introductory chapter:
 
 
Let me know what you think; all comments welcome. More to come soon.
 
564cd981b6bab_cover07small.thumb.jpg.47a
 
Odd Soot
 
Eorthe, 1932. A universe separated from our own only by a thin veil. It’s been 50 years since the first humans crossed the voids between the stars and found it teeming with alien life.
 
The Odd Soot is spreading from planet to planet, driving humans and aliens alike into madness. After 230 years the gruesome disease is on the move again. But only a few dare see the truth. The Philosophy Engine is presenting stranger and stranger predictions and the Skreeder Shamans see signs of worrying times to come. 
 
Will the insanities of the infected once more threaten to throw entire worlds into chaos? Are the desperate actions of a few ragged individuals enough to turn the tide? Comae Space need heroes more than ever.
 
The survival of civilization is in the hands of the characters.
 
Cover: Depiction of an Aygaan Seeker, by xeno-anthropologist Karyn Oakley. 1929.
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Are the heroes doomed, never able to save the worlds or are they just down on their luck and there is a cure out there somewhere?I like the setting a great deal, very original. 

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I'm happy to hear you enjoyed it! The heroes are not automatically doomed, though they have a rough time ahead of them. "Winning a battle, but loosing the war" might be a good way to describe it. They can make a change on a small scale, but the big picture is painted in much more desperate (and dark) hues. Regarding a cure - nobody knows so far.

And character desperation isn't likely to decrease when the first one in the party is infected with The Soot : )

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Extremely cool mix with a flavor all its own, Clarence. I'd love to play in Eorthe as an adventurer, doomed or not :-) Here's to things eventually getting "...sorted out..." as you say, and to things working out so as to get a chance to romp in this setting.

Cheers!

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Thanks Sunwolfe! It started as a setting for BRP Space, but as things have turned out I'm aiming to make it a free-standing book. Instead of having to buy three books (BGB, BRP Space, Odd Soot), one will be enough to play. 

Hope to have some more to show soon!

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Thanks Nick! I think the Nuveri, an exceptionally fragile alien species with bodies in a paper-like material, will be next. Or perhaps the works on the fourth and fifth dimensions by Charles Howard Hinton, and its implications for the Undolding Device. I'm not sure what comes together in a good way first. 

Edited by clarence

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I've just uploaded a few more pages from Odd Soot! 

It's the first pages from the chapter called Major Forces, detailing The Philosophy Engine and the Colloquium.

I added the file to the download section, with both chapters in one file (Major Forces is at the end).

I hope you like it - all comments appreciated!

Link: http://basicroleplaying.org/files/file/521-odd-soot-magical-scifi-in-the-1930s/

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Thank you both : ) I've been working on it for quite some time now and it's taken many iterations to reach this stage. I'm about half way through I think (at least in the sense Zadie Smith defines half way through: I'm living and breathing the book most of my waking hours at the moment…).

Nuveri species up in a few days!

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I just finished a few more pages for Odd Soot - about the Nuveri species:

"What does extreme fragility do to a life form? 

It turns out to depend not so much on the life form itself, but on the world surrounding it. The Nuveri are made of a material perhaps best described as paper, not unlike the mixture of wood and spittle wasps use to build their nests, only slightly sturdier. This makes them the perfect floaters - just like all life forms on Corinthi. With a gentle nature surrounding them and potential threats as fragile as themselves, fragility is not such a terrible weakness as it may first appear to be. That is, not until they visit other worlds and encounter species not shying away from everyday violence."

Link: http://basicroleplaying.org/files/file/521-odd-soot-magical-scifi-in-the-1930s/

The new pages are in the middle this time.

 

565735efd4342_nuverismall.thumb.jpg.8b52

 

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Your eye for the physical design of a game is pretty outstanding. 

Is there going to be any bits about military vessels? The development of the modern navy is something that has always interested me and any changes in that because of, well, space, would be fascinating. For instance if there are no torpedo boats, no torpedo boat destroyers are needed and the term "destroyer" never becomes part of naval parlance. 

Anyway, this looks great, I look forward to more bits.

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Thank you ReignDragon! I really enjoy doing the layout and illustrations, making everything come together as a whole with the text. I think it adds a lot of personality and character to a game.

Regarding military vessels, one of the initial seeds for Odd Soot was a frustration that so many sci fi games are semi-military - I think Traveller, Star Wars and perhaps Alien have influenced sci fi RPGs so much we don't even think about it anymore. (There are exceptions of course, and those games can be played without military ingredients, though it is an important ingredient). So, as I'm sticking to the plan so far, I have designed Comae Space conflicts to avoid involving military forces. The significance of the military is somewhat close to most Call of Cthulhu games. It's probably around somewhere, but not really interfering with the characters' business. 

There is a kind of peace-keeping force, but it's very small and doesn't have much to do besides patrolling. The legacy from the Luminarian species (now gone) have resulted in a relatively peaceful mix of species - though far from conflict free. So, no vessel write-ups planned and no military professions either so far - perhaps at a later stage.

So, how is work going with Skaerune? I see you are very productive - I haven't been able to keep up with your writing.

Edited by clarence
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Work on Skaerune' is going very well. The rules are falling into place and the setting is coming together nicely. I will be updating the sneak peak this upcoming week.

And I totally get where you are coming from with eschewing the military aspects. Many of the RPGs do involve military or para military forces as an integral part of the setting.

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I finally checked out the Old Soot download - Clarence this is going to be very impressive!

Edited by Mankcam
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I'm happy to hear you like it Mankcam! I just finished research on some of the early signs of Soot infection. My favorite is Fugue, or Ambulatory Automatism as it's also called, where the infected travels in a completely amnesiac state - often across continents or even entire worlds - and one day just snaps out of it...

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Here's a map of Europe, the way it looks on Eorthe in the 1930s. The major differences are:

The shallows we call Dogger Bank were never flooded 8000 years ago and is an island named Doggerland. It's placement between Great Britain and Denmark makes it a nation with influences from both British and Scandinavian culture. Glimminge, the capital of Doggerland, is the home of The Philosophy Engine.

Germany was never united and is split among Preussia, Bayern, Sachsen and Magdeburg. The headquarters of The Priests of Wittenberg is placed in northern Sachsen.

In the 17th century, the Scandinavian countries met unexpected resistance when colonizing what we call Lapland, the shamans being the prime movers in the defense. The indigenous Skreeders have instead formed their own nation - Sapmi - built from the small splinter of people enduring the last ice age in a pocket of greenery around Atla in northernmost Norway.

56604cbeb0586_mapofeurope03finalsmall.th

 

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