vaecrius: A round squishy plush lobster bursts out of the blue. (cock lobster)
"WHERE THE FUCK DID LUKE'S LIGHTSABER EVEN COME FROM? IT FELL DOWN TO THE BOTTOM OF CLOUD CITY!"
"scavenged by the cloud people obviously (they fly in columns to hide their numbers)"


Having no idea if there are in fact already a Cloud People in the SWverse (Google suggesting that the best answer is "no")...

They continually grow gas sacs on top throughout their lives, replacing damaged or worn out ones. The sacs are larger and more numerous towards the top, creating a vaguely mushroom-like shape.

The burdened, the injured, the very young and very old, the pregnant women, are all towards the bottom where it is warmer and less exposed to harmful rays, dry conditions and alien forces above.

They have a ring of eyes around their heads and numerous tentacles (some with eyes on them) haphazardly surrounding their mouth and breathing-speaking-hole. (They squirt their poo upwards through a tube between the gas sacs to be carried away by the currents. There is etiquette to this, lest others be sprayed.)

There are hardier, more rudimentary eyes on top between the sacs. These generally only give some vague information about light and shadow and a bit of colour with general direction.

Stereoscopic vision is a conscious effort. They usually use their two biggest eyes automatically; those with better training can use any arbitrary set of eyes, though no one has managed more than five at a time.

They copulate and give birth through the mouth. Children cling to the mother underneath her sacs until their own are big enough to let them float.

They keep their belongings strapped to their sides, on modular adjustable harnesses that wrap around their gas sacs.
vaecrius: a crude scrawl of a grinning, blazing yellow sun. (hier kommt die sonne)
The best stupid pun ever.

But I don’t want to stop there. There a few deeper and more mysterious applications of this. The Lamb slain at the foundation of the world as a type of evolution.

That said, another, biologically more, philosophically less cf. colonials: more* ambitious take on the Nth Men story.
(Also he has thought out giant spiders :O :O :O||||~)


*2014-08-21 EDIT: The more I think about it, the more I think Bogleech is right. This is better in every way: humane where MAM was profoundly misanthropic, humble where F&LM was arrogant and certain, hopeful even in death where MAM and F&LM are ambivalent. This is what science fiction ought to be.
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
From the Sayings of the Desert Fathers:
The holy Fathers were making predictions about the last generation. They said ‘What have we ourselves done?’ One of them, the great abba Ischyrion replied, ‘We ourselves have fulfilled the commandments of God.’ The others replied, ‘And those who come after us, what will they do?’ He said, ‘They will struggle to achieve half our works.’ They said, ‘And to those who come after them, what will happen?’ He said, ‘The men of that generation will not accomplish any works at all and temptation will come upon them; and those who will be approved in that day will be greater than either us or our fathers.’

Abba Copres said, ‘blessed is he who bears affliction with thankfulness.’
Building on this. A speculation on a buildup to the great apostasy.

tw: rape, depression, violence, body horror, middle eastern politics )

Clearly something is not being mentioned here, as it is of course much easier to paint Hell than Heaven. I must take some more time to think about this, but it is my intention that the Church is to be noticeably present throughout, if only as a very quietly hummed ison.
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
Tempted to add, or at least reference, this in the Aornos setting.

That all said, a second opinion about that 3WC guy. tl;dr he's a dirty sodomite that "rape is legal in this sci-fi utopia" thing actually wasn't some super-meta take on patriarchy, nor the "true ending" to 3WC merely a reconsideration of the Confessor as an individual character, but what those things look like on a more obvious level.

A potentially helpful guide as to when a rape analogy might not be wholly inappropriate.

So with that in mind: "The most basic, most rudimentary spiritual need of the Russian people is the need for suffering, ever-present and unquenchable, everywhere and in everything."

---

And now, more RPG ideas so this isn't purely a linkdump.

"Alignment" system based on species' Fundamental Narrative.

Winnowing; Cummunion; __________

I propose Dialectic, but only for the purposes of the system for now. NB: this also posits humanity as the honour-obsessed tribal warrior race.

The D fundamental narrative in a nutshell: 2 opposing sides accumulate resources and merit. Resources is wholly abstract and includes numbers of individuals allied with a side as well as merit of otherwise equivalent resources. Our entire moral system is based on the honour bestowed upon the side that wins.

The fundamental assumption is that merit and resources are connected.

Evo-psych explanation: Fighting between groups over resources and territory has been the fundamental struggle of almost all our evolution.

Because of the impossibility of instant communication within a group, and the historical inefficiency of constantly dedicating and sacrificing numerous individuals in long-term processing of possibilities (cf. ants), we have required each group to develop a "head" to coordinate it. The coordination takes place through arbitrary tribal displays which became increasingly complex over time in an arms race against fraud and espionage. This is further complicated by a layer of pack-based system of mating and family groups.

Classified guide for deep-space agents: When dealing with the ones with the fleshy heads on stalks, please remember the following basic rules:
  • Do not ask a question directly any manner of direct question to which the human is privy, whether asked directly of the human or not, if the human did not initiate the contact to tell you the answer. A question must be couched in at least 2-3 key points of indirect phrasing to sufficiently distract their thoughts before the combat instinct kicks in and your query is responded to as an honour-challenge. Simple methods include using a descriptive phrase in place of a noun, or "baby-talk" avoidance of a pronoun, as well as turning the question into a meta-statement about how you feel about the issue at hand.
  • When a human accuses you of some terrible non-specific violence, it may be a simple figure of speech congratulating you for something you did well or they otherwise enjoyed watching. They do not mean any offence, but may take offence if they notice you cringing at their well-intentioned compliment (they are surprisingly good at reading normal body language even though they claim to rely greatly on their peculiar eye- and mouth-flaps and headstalk-waving).
  • If attempting to capture a human ship, DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, SURROUND IT WITH OVERWHELMING FORCES AND ATTEMPT TO NEGOTIATE USING REASON. A statement that there is no rational alternative but surrender has a special meaning in their honour code as a licence to fight to the death of every living being in the area (cf. the catastrophic Galaga siege). Disable the ship by stealth and isolate unarmed crew members (risky - "the only unarmed human has had their arms cut off") or cargo (less effective - there have been cases where humans have jettisoned high-value cargo because of some thing or other triggered in their honour code) to use as hostages or bait.
  • If captured by multiple humans wearing non-matching colours, try to get one of them to state out loud a very specific means that is the best means of killing you, or even better, our entire people. This is extremely counterintuitive but many of our best agents swear by it: such a statement, once heard, is inadvertently accepted as a challenge, they will fight each other over which method is the best and you can escape in the confusion.
  • Do not let them see your fear. Humans have unfortunately assumed a deeply-ingrained fear response to the appearance of our own fear-response displays. Which would seem relatively harmless, except that, having evolved as a slow-moving apex-predator opportunistic scavenger, their fear response is attack.
  • Use the name they give you, however unpronounceable. Humans routinely slaughter people over perceived slights respecting names, killing human, myconian, aerealine, spacer, prosophosid or otherwise indiscriminately.
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
[The implicit setting is from my own private attempts to reboot the Avernum setting with closer attention to the details of living in a magically-powered cave ecosystem. I might post some of that here in the future. This particular post, however, is the direct result of trying to think of an analogy about reading texts free of the context of the traditions they were written within. Source text is this recipe for lemon pound cake.]

Milk is unusual and, shall we say, an acquired taste. The pig has just started farrowing and the wooly rats were recently shorn, so let's go with the pig; it would take quite some time to get an entire cup, though, we may need to get the dog in on this. Postscriptum: the dog was not cooperative. )
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
I've always wondered about that smell!

It's a fascinating simulation though I'm still convinced the land-crawlers look exactly like my mental image of the things crawling out of Abhoth in "The Seven Geases":





Some followup thoughts to these musings follow.

Better that the post be cut, than the tradition of cutting it. )
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
I hope one day you will
forgive me.



The Swarm is a vast, complex, self-correcting set of algorithms executed over the network that takes everyone's opinion on something and crunches it all together into a (usually, hopefully) unified whole that represents the democratic voice.

When people consult the Swarm, they access the network and enter 2 or more questions, each question written by one of the parties immediately involved in the discussion and the order of which is shuffled and the sequences randomly distributed among the viewers. All cameras watching the persons involved relay the last few minutes of footage along with the question, or if the parties are communicating over the network, the last 3000 words of the discussion. A 15-minute break is called and everyone available is expected to comment anonymously to the Swarm; if enough commenters request more time, more time is granted, but still giving a preliminary first-impression opinion is considered "polite" (as far as that concept may apply to faceless network commenting). It is also safe, as requests for more time are seldom granted, or more accurately seldom ultimately requested.

Anyone with the hardware to run it can install a new Swarm. Many specialized communities have a Swarm that only takes information from people in that group, or from that group plus whatever it could mine from other similar groups. Some people can even install an ad hoc Swarm to settle a discussion between 2 people, but the result is usually less than satisfactory (or comprehensible).

Some corporate lobbyists have been trying to get a clampdown on "free" Swarms for years, insisting that such practices be regulated to approved professional providers such as their client entertainment and security firms, but the vast proliferation of Swarms both general and specialized has been such a useful data collection source for marketing and government surveillance that these efforts are generally allowed to be crushed by grassroots opposition (many of whom express their grievances through the lobbying firms' own Swarms).

(Who programs the Swarm? Best not to think too hard on that.)


In other news, the following thought just went through my mind while checking the dominant spelling of a word: "Google was quite happy to give me those results." (emphasis on "those")


In further news, a depressingly conservative futurism, in all senses of both words. )

Still nothing motivating a dramatic, fundamental change, while yet even this cannot possibly last forever.
I may revisit this later on.
vaecrius: The blocky spiral motif based on the golden ratio that I use for various ID icons, ending with a red centre. (g)
Thoughts about a ship (human)
Multiple levels connected by a central shaft. Assume "down" is rearwards. No windows - if you want to look outside, go outside.

Constant radio communication between the crew. There's no air in most work areas and you're in your suit.

Minimum crew and levels follow. )


Thoughts on those better adapted
The spacers are long and serpentine with hard, thick, dry, slightly yielding exoskeletons that don't let their contents dry out easily. Their skin is bright white except for dark rings around their eyes. Their eyelids are under a big transparent section of skin so they can close their eyes to shield from harmful rays but the eyes don't dry out while open. They breathe through their sides, but only out of a few segments behind the head so the breathing apparatus is nicely out of the way. They have big grippers on the front and back ends, and on the front end near the eyes are antennae/fine manipulators for detail work. These manipulators can be tucked in out of the way when not used. They have four-way symmetry and no concept of up or down separate from forward and backward. Their ships have photosynthetic outsides that turn their crap and molts back into food (though there is always a little waste so they have to resupply and clean out every so often).

They communicate entirely by radio bits and the initial implantation of a preverbal child is a very imporant rite of passage into personhood. They are territorial only for the sake of their community and otherwise have no sense of individual privacy or personal space. A group of five able-bodied spacers is considered isolated and vulnerable, and a lone spacer is to their eyes what a human with no arms or legs is to ours. )
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
Zombie spider
Looks like a little slippery brown recluse with a vaguely pentacle-like mark on its back. About the size of a penny legs stretched out. Millennia of selective pressure allows it to rapidly mutate over a single generation to adapt against divine magic.

Bite causes necrosis that gradually spreads throughout the entire body, eventually killing the victim. Three days later the body arises as undead with rudimentary animal behaviours, but generally driven to find sources of other zombie spiders so the original biter can mate. The spiders feed on the decaying flesh and lay eggs in same, often going through many generations before the victim - now host - has decayed beyond the point of motility.

Are naturally curious and instinctively run up anything that strikes their host violently. Best way to identify an infection is to shoot the zombie - won't slow it down any, but you can see the spiders pour into the hole.

Are commensal with zombie fungus. Occasionally develop symbiotic relationships where silk and mycelium combine to form an extremely durable mesh protecting the host tissues from unwanted wear and tear.

Sometimes this allows the fungus to tap into the bones for further nutrition. While this does weaken the overall structure, the soft rubbery consistency of the new skeleton occasionally allows for a surprising increase in the host's agility, letting it move and hide in areas the living host type could not be expected to do.
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)


The man who would live forever

There in the field stands the man who would live forever.

He sways a little in the wind and you can see the sweat slick sometimes on hot days. Mushrooms sprout from the sores and where the shit runs down.

The grove covers much of the field, protecting birds and rabbits that nest among him.

Every so often a storm or some passing animal would break off one of the many thousands of limbs and spines and gnarled half-formed figures in the grove. The piece would fall somewhere, roll off, sink in, take root - and there's more of him next season.

He doesn't move much himself. Stopped caring before any of our grandmas' grandmas were born. Just sorta stands there, that grove out there taking over the field, growing and dropping off bits and growing even more and taking over more of the field.

It's hard work, cutting and plowing so we can grow crops around him like we used to. Every year it feels there's a little less field and a little more him. Hard, back-breaking work for hard folk, honest to a fault.

I suppose if we were more business-like we could just put him out of his misery while no one's looking and take the field back, but who are we to defy the nature that made him what he is?
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
While browing the RPGnet forums there was yet another discussion about reinventing the "stock" fantasy races - elf, dwarf and orc. This seems usually to take the form of taking something that looks like an elf, then pulling it completely out of the mythical role it had in Middle-Earth and/or D&D.

That gave me another idea: take a bunch of other species tropes and shoehorn them into these roles.


Deathbots

A long time ago the Atlanteans built a terrible race of sentient killer robots to conquer the world. They built very many and they scourged the planet, and Atlantis became the ruler of the known world for centuries. But eventually its expansion had to stop, and as Atlantis teetered between downsizing and stabilizing and collapse from its overreach the deathbots had nothing to do. So they settled down, raised families, and moved off to greener (or in their case blacker) pastures. People say that they fled to the caves and deep underground because humans distrusted them, or that it was part of a great tragic rift between the peoples above and the peoples below that drove them into exile, but really they're just down in the mines and caves and undermountains because that's where the fuel and ores are that they need to live.

Deathbots are stout and stubby, standing about 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide with a body covered entirely in metal with one to six yellow or red pupilless eyes glowing out of some impenetrable blackness within the "visor" of their heads. They can detach and replace parts voluntarily though for more important parts it stings a little as a protective security measure. (They tried making it not hurt at all but people kept disassembling themselves trying to do complex field repairs in stupid places in the remote tunnels and needing to be rescued.) They will very often be seen with only one manipulator, the other arm preoccupied with housing some tool or weapon, which are incidentally famous for being some of the best in the world. (They love making and selling weapons though no deathbot-led faction has started a real war in centuries.) A newly built deathbot AI core can usually last about 80-120 years before wear and tear warrant a permanent decommission.


Treebugs

Deep in the forests of every known world these vast insectoid beings flit silently across the canopies, drinking the dew and light in memory of some impossible antediluvian world. At first glance they appear to be beasts, slipping flawlessly among the leaves and branches, naked as Adam in their peculiar sort of primordiality. But in truth they guard some of the most formidable technologies ever seen on this planet, things that would make the finest machinery of Atlantis seem like the work of impatient children, thinly and perfectly disguised to our crude senses as the essence of nature and life itself.

Treebugs are tall and spindly, standing 6 feet tall with long arms like a gibbon and a long forked tail that acts as two independent grasping limbs. They have small heads with huge compound eyes under heavy eyelids, and they can turn their heads to look completely behind their own bodies. They can change colour at will, but are most often some kind of green and brown, reflecting a thousand blues when the sun hits them at the correct angle. But for the four limbs and lack of a separate abdomen they would appear very much like arthropods, but what at first glance appears to be an exoskeleton is really a pattern of scales and spikes and muscle tone - and equipment. Communications devices, telepathic nodes, medical equipment, cutting implements, wings, extra limbs, things just seem to spontaneously emerge from a treebug's incomprehensibly ornate body as needed. They weigh a fraction of a grown man of similar height, bearing the hollow bones of a bird. No one knows the full extent of a treebug's lifespan, and some purport to have personal recollections of Atlantis in its prime.


Hivers

Vast regions of the world lie barren and uninhabitable by man, overrun with twisted forms of the hives that house these brutish beings. Their ancestors exiled those of the treebugs eons ago, naming them heretics and blasphemers against the the purity of their race and the sacred nature of life itself. Now they spawn by the dozen, cannibalizing each other from birth in a race where only the strong and ruthless survive, to live a short brutish life amidst the decaying land ravaged by their predecessors, or to suffer the stigma of being impregnated and locked up in the centre of a hive, barefoot and perpetually pregnant, every few days birthing another batch of fanged grubs desperate to find a place - desperate to find the top place - in their world.

Hivers are thick and coarse, about 5 feet tall with faces like those of treebugs but thickly muscled, with shaggy feathery manes around the neck and four long razor-sharp tusks sprouting from the mouth - and a pair of slit-pupiled yellow eyes long evolved to bear as much rage and hate and inspire as much fear as possible in the viewer. Their grey bodies bear little ornamentation beyond more shaggy fur in strategic places, and unlike their distant kin are quite visibly clothed and armed with shoddy but effective gear. Aggression and visible wealth are directly linked with status. Sexual dimorphism is minimal between males and virgin females, but once impregnated and enhived the females quickly become obese and hairless and glassy-eyed. Potential maximum lifespan is unknown, though life expectancy is typically around 4-24 years for a male or non-reproducing female (with almost all of these on the high end of the scale bearing a male gender identity) and around 15-32 years for a reproducing female.
vaecrius: A round squishy plush lobster bursts out of the blue. (cock lobster)
Flackworm

Distantly related to the liver fluke, these flatworms have adapted to places with very high concentrations of lead. Old battlefields ooze with them. Usually harmless, their eggs and larvae can lie dormant in human bodies for years until the time is ripe to bloom - usually spectacularly, a few days after the host gets shot.


Inner head louse

You know what a tongue louse is, right? These guys have airborne eggs. The larvae drift quasi-dormant for years in the air currents and dust, then if they're lucky someone breathes them in and they can make it into the brain. There they latch on and grow, fed by the nutrients coming in through the fluids supporting the brain, slowly taking over and substituting its own biomass for the host cerebral cortex. To avoid premature host death, the louse keeps the various neural pathways connected using its own nervous system, which expands and builds itself up to grotesque proportions relative to the rest of the louse's body. By the time the louse is mature and is large enough - oh, let's say about the size of a very fat cockroach - to displace a decent amount of grey matter, it is so well incorporated into the host brain that the host may never notice. Often entire colonies of inner head lice can be found inside someone's skull.

The eggs disperse when you - as in you and they - think too hard about too many things, then come down with a cold and sneeze.

It's hard to think when they're wiggling, so please don't mind if I don't end post good.
vaecrius: The blocky spiral motif based on the golden ratio that I use for various ID icons, ending with a red centre. (Default)
So I was looking at a troll (for indeed the communicative/agreement aspect of rhetoric is not to be found, as so the poster claims) about the Singularity and its influence on human longevity had me thinking... just what would it take to get us to live an entire freaking millennium?

First, let's just ignore the whole issue of aging and our DNA, and assume that we could somehow repair everything for that long.

Now we're left with the next most obvious problem, which is brainpower. )

Anyway,
Peziza domiciliana
You are the Domestic Cup Fungus (Peziza
domiciliana
)

You prefer to grow indoors, particularly in
bathrooms and cellars and on damp carpets. You
are gelatinous and adaptable. Good for you.


What Kind of Fungus Are You?
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I know this

if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.

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