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The people of Ik'Thulu have no wings.
Posted: Posted January 11th by Xhin

To be fair though, they don't have the level of technology that the Pivotians do. The way the Ik'Thulu people use Gems and Sympathetic Metals is a lot more rudimentary, though somehow they've mastered the art of Waterfalling and they know the islands and what's in them far better than even the most highly trained Pivotian.

The world is a void, a bottomless depth lit by a dim ambient purple light and the occasional Wandering Sunshadow which gives it Day. Floating in this vast purple void are islands of stone and metal with enormous Turquoise cores -- gigantic prismatic shapes that jut out from the top and bottom of the island, slowly eroding in the endless purple void.

Each island is borne on the Tortoise Wind, a slow current that brings it from the wall at the edge of the world (known simply as "Edge") to the wall of scalding water at the other edge of the world (known as "the Sea") over the course of a couple human lifespans. As best as Pivotian instruments can tell, these Walls are infinitely vertical and are just part of the strange geometry of this place. Anyone venturing into either wall has never returned -- although to be fair older expeditions couldn't exploit Worm Gates to read infinite data. A newer expedition is being put together to do exactly that, crewed by some combination of brave souls, arrogant scientists and the certifiably insane. The leader of it -- Lakjos -- is probably all three. He's one of those weird ones that doesn't quite fit into either Pivotian culture and no one knows where he's from either. He could be an Ik'Thulu for all anyone knows.

Your islands are made of stone and metal at their core, but they're seeded by successive layers of plants -- the Axeroot trees of course seed first, digging through the hard layers of rock, and rotting their top layer of roots into the mulch that everything else seeds in. The Axeroots grow tall and fast like vines, shedding branches at each successive stage until they resemble winding snakes that jut out from the landscape with thin layers of foliage on top. Below them you get more normal forest-fare trees (which again grow like vines), though depending on the composition of rock and mulch you might instead get cactus-analogues or tall mushrooms that unfurl during the purple Night.

During that first year, there will be a time known as The Bloom when all the plants spread flowers and fruits in unison. Most of the color palette here is red, and animals on neighboring islands will know it's time to move in. The Birds will come first of course -- unlike the people of Ik'Thulu, they have wings and can simply fly over to the new island. The Drakes, Bears, Vulun, Garmak, Fish, Frogs, Insects, Crocs, Monkeys, and 'Furs meanwhile have laid or starved into their eggs which wait in one of the rivers for the First Pull to bring them in. The Ik'Thulu, who know how to change the flow of the river, can delay this and collect the helpless eggs for easy food and their Bloom Feast -- though granted new island events don't happen all that often.

Sometime that first year after The Bloom (but before the Sunshadows invert) the Agate in the new island will pulse, and the rivers of the surrounding islands will be drawn towards it in horizontal waterfalls. The eggs will be drawn to the new island, hatching into new creatures of every type and starved mature creatures to guide them. The Crocs and Garmak are known to fight and eat one another for a while, quickly gaining sustenance and strength but dwindling in number so they can spread out over the island and hunt the other creatures peacefully. Despite also being carnivores, the Vulun, Drakes, and some of the 'Furs don't do this and have to act more like scavengers for the first couple years in Croc/Garmak territory.

The Ik'Thulu are on a different schedule entirely. They will freely roam the islands, steering Waterfalls with Agate and Inverted Agate, making dangerous (without wings) journeys to other islands as needed. They will typically keep their settlements on one main island until it Falls and slides into the Sea, but they roam widely around the other islands, collecting rare resources and settling disputes (through bloodshed, usually) with the Nal'Tek. The Ik'Thulu also maintain Trading settlements near Pivots and especially near Pivotian islands.

Continued in next post.

There are 9 Replies

If those underlined words (and phrases?) are going to be turned into hypertext, this is going to be a very deep conworld! I’m looking forward to it!

Posted January 11th by chiarizio

Pivots

While large islands are borne by the Turquoise Wind to their ultimate Fall and doom, there are some smaller islands known as Pivots with Charged Agate cores (with a reasonable amount of Brightstar groves surrounding it) that stay fixed in place. These Pivots are very small compared to Islands -- an Island might be about 10 miles across in diameter while a Pivot will be at most about half a mile, and sometimes you'll see Pivots which just have their Charged Agate core (about the size of a skyscraper) with a thin ledge of island jutting out from it. The Pivotians have theorized that Pivots were once normal-sized islands but have simply eroded over time. The Ik'Thulu have other beliefs, but are forbidden by the Nal'Tek to share much of it freely. Some of their bloodiest and drawn-out wars (which even spilled over into Pivotian cities) came from revealing some of those beliefs, which seem really innocuous at first glance:

  • The Tortoise savors its meals. -- This belief, when revealed to the Pivotians, made the Nal'Tek so enraged that they abandoned their own main settlement to camp near the Ik'Thulu one until they could fully burn it to the ground, slaughtering or scattering its inhabitants.

  • King Vulun married a Sunshadow -- This belief was accidentally slipped when one of the Ik'Thulu was discussing their mythology with a visiting Pivotian. A band of Nal'Tek were unfortunately nearby and actually witnessed the slip in person (the first one they only learned about later). This was such a gross violation that another Ik'Thulu immediately drew his scythe and beheaded the speaker, but the Nal'Tek still killed him, the visitor, burned the village down to the ground and then started a generations-long war against both the Ik'Thulu and Pivotians. By the end, both sides of the conflict were so exhausted that their next generations actually overthrew their leadership and maintained a fragile peace (outside of disputes and occasional small territorial wars) that continues to this day.

    There were also some smaller reveals that led to some smaller disputes. Much of the deep Ik'Thulu/Nal'Tek lore is absolutely forbidden to tell Pivotians, even though the biggest bloodiest reveals barely scratch the surface.

    Pivotian Cities

    Linked to a couple of the larger Pivots are more reasonable-sized islands, through large Agate chains (each chain link is about the size of a car) that hook in from the Underbellies of both islands. Linking an island in and stopping its passage on the Tortoise Wind is an enormous engineering project. As such, the Garmak Tribe (also known as Garmakians, not to be confused with the Garmak clade of animals) stopped building them long ago and instead expands upwards, making their Diamoc-reinforced sloped buildings reach ever farther into the sky. The Roc Tribe (also known as Rocites) instead focuses on capturing new islands and expanding to new Pivots.

    Of the two, the Roc Tribe has the larger population, though the Garmak Tribe is far more technologically advanced. Pretty much every important technology you can think of was invented by Garmakians -- Worm Gate technology of course is a big one, but they also invented Ambient Lenses, Gem Chargers, Wings (though the Roc Tribe would argue they *perfected* the design) and Harp Gates. The Garmakians are also far better at building structures to take advantage of ambience fluctuations, though this is by necessity more than anything else. As a result their cities look really weird -- all sharp lines, short slopes and jutting rectangles. They're also coated with Onyx paint to pull in power from Sunshadows.

    Rocite buildings are shorter, squat, and often very aesthetic and totally inefficient at geometrical integrity due to their designs. Rocite power tends to be more centralized in geometrically efficient buildings that focus Sunshadow light through Brightstar lense arrays and into either sympathetic metal wires or Quartz. Sometimes Rocite settlements won't be hooked into the main grid (or dependent on Quartz shipments) but will instead have their own smaller-scale buildings. Despite being extremely inefficient, Rocite power collection plants can concentrate far more power than Garmakian buildings. Despite their snide sense of superiority and complete building self-sufficiency (which is impressive, there aren't even any earth buildings like that), Garmakians are reliant on Rocites for Hyperquartz shipments to fuel some of their crazier scientific ventures.

    Rocites and Garmakians also differ on the food they grow. Both Tribes utilize islands near their cities for agricultural purposes, but Rocites grow things such as Jadeberry or Brickwort for sustenance reasons, while Garmakians prefer sustaining on Feeders (ew!) and using their land to grow high-flavor crops such as Needle or Vu'Mak to spice things up with. Of course the Ik'Thulu think all of this is crazy when you could be dining on Pigfur or Oxfur or Monkey Egg, not to mention the objective preference for Wild Jadeberry over its blander cousin. They also have access to better spices than Garmakians but won't tell them where to find them because they think it's funny that they can't figure it out for themselves without vomiting blood and/or dying.

    Surprisingly, Rocite and Garmakian governments are set up in much the same way -- since that whole giant war about the Vulun King, people can only be in power if they're below the age of 36.82 earth years (33 Island Years). Rulers tend to begin their reign in their 20's-30's, though Kid Lords aren't unheard of. Rulers are either elected by the previous set of rulers or they violently overthrow the previous set, so rulers will tend to deliberate carefully on their "heirs" to keep the peace. Sometimes local dynasties will form where a ruler will marry young and raise their kid to carry their legacy forward. Whole-Tribe Dynasties have yet to happen, though currently the Whole-Shaman leaders in the Garmak Tribe are three generations deep into a dynasty. While the Shaman branch of government has always played by different rules, there's only been a couple other times in history that it's had dynastic rule.

    Next post I'll delve into some of the Pivotian technology.

  • Posted January 11th by Xhin
    Xhin
    Nature is beautiful

    Quick Note

    Feel free to jump in and ask questions at any time. I'll continue making longer descriptive posts too, but I'll answer any questions along the way.

    Sunshadows

    Before going into Pivotian technology, it's important to understand what Sunshadows are.

    The world is lit normally by a dim ambient purple light during a time known as Night. This ambient light waxes and wanes on a 3.5852 earth year cycle (4 Island Years) -- sometimes it's as bright as earth cities with light pollution, other times it's so dark you can't see 10 feet in front of you.

    Occasionally, you'll get Wandering Sunshadows, which are spheroids about a mile above the plane where islands reside that move from the Edge to the Sea (or vice-versa). These don't move in a straight line, come and go erratically, and sometimes stop or reverse direction for no reason. They shine with a light similar to the sun and light up a decent sized sphere in the world which isn't large enough to stretch from wall to wall but will cover all the islands and a mile or two of void underneath them. Despite all the weirdness, the amount of Day is pretty much equal to the amount of Night, whether you have perfect 17-hour days followed by perfect 16-hour nights or you get five sunshadows that race across the sky for 20 hours or you get a sunshadow that stops for a whole 99-hour Triday followed by normal days where the nights are longer for a while. No matter what, things average out to around 16.5 hours of Day and 16.5 hours of Night over the course of the ambience waxing cycle.

    Anyway, these Sunshadows provide light and heat (Night sure does get cold, especially if you're on one of those horrible islands where the ground is mostly metallic) but also some undescribable force known as "charge". Certain types of crystalline rocks known as "Gems" will absorb this "charge" and begin to demonstrate interesting physical properties.

    Gems

    There's a pretty wide variety of Gems, all with their own unique effects. Gems can be "Charged" (which means the effect is stronger) or "Hypercharged" (which is a level even far beyond that). They can also be totally depleted of charge, or "drained" in which case they need to be exposed to Sunshadow light again to be something more than pretty rocks.

    Size also matters -- larger gems will hold charge for longer and drain less of it over time, which is why gem deposits are never found drained and why Pivots seem to just get stronger over time.

    Below, I'll list a few of the more essential gems. I'll cover more over time.

  • Agate -- These basically act like very very strong magnets, however if they're rotated 180 degrees they act like weaker magnets. If they're not Charged, you can pull the rotated Agate away from other Agate by hand, although it still takes some force (it's a bit like pulling two of those black refrigerator magnets of comparable size apart -- larger ones are harder).

  • Diamoc -- This is actually a Gem Alloy of Diamond and a keratin extract from Roc Feathers. the gem Diamond reinforces structural integrity and tensile strength according to its charge, however ironically Diamond itself is very structurally weak and in its native form is seen as a thin dust that condenses on other gem deposits. To get around this, the dust is gathered and exposed to high heat in a process known as Gem Alloying and fused to Roc Feather extract. Diamoc still isn't as hard as actual earth diamond, but it takes quite a bit of force to crack it.

  • Quartz -- Quartz can absorb charge without leaking it back out like all other gems. They can also emit charge in a controlled way. Worm Scanners have determined that it can't absorb an *infinite* amount of charge, but the capacity is way higher than anything the Pivotians can produce. They have also determined that whatever amount of charge it absorbs it can emit just as much all at once. Each Quartz gem has two "poles". Applying a small burst of charge to one pole will expel charge from the other pole according to the size difference of the pole. Quartz poles are thus shaped to determine what kind of power output you want to get from them.

  • Onyx -- Onyx absorbs charge and emits it out the opposite side. However it can only absorb charge through one axis at a time. If you have an Onyx crystal that's passing a lot of charge through it horizontally and you hit it with a bit of charge from the top, it'll immediately stop moving the large charge and will instead focus on moving the small charge downwards. These axes can also be bent by geometrically altering the shape of the onyx -- a curved onyx crystal might have "up" and "down" in the same place but "forward" and "back" will be at 45 degree angles from each other. Garmakian buildings are set up in such a way that they can shut down the charge absorption of the entire building by running a small charge vertically through the Onyx paint.

  • Ruby -- Ruby emits heat and light in all directions, depending on its charge. Hypercharged Ruby can emit some truly mindboggling amounts of heat -- enough to melt through metals or gemstones like butter. Ruby is typically covered in Putty (a mixture of oil, clay, soil, and generally roc's feather or even diamoc) with only whatever point you want it to emit heat/light being revealed.

  • Brightstar -- Brightstar resembles very clear glass with a faint bright green (and a bit of yellow) tint. It can be used for lensmaking more generally, however unlike glass it can also focus charge into concentrated areas. Doing this enough times (with large enough lenses) allows you to create Charged and Hypercharged gems from Sunshadow light alone.

    Sympathetic Metals

    Sympathetic metals are metals that are conductive to charge. The two biggest ones are Gold, which is conductive to charge, and Silver, which is conductive to inversion (more on that in a bit). Sympathetic metals are used as wiring to carry charge over distances or through circuits.

    Inversion

    Every Island Year you'll have at least one Sunshadow that's inverted -- instead of emitting light and heat it will absorb ambient purple heat and light and instead of emitting charge it will emit something known as Inversion. Inversion can flow through Quartz, Onyx, Brightstar, etc in much the same way as Charge, however it will cancel out charge and can even make a depleted crystal's charge go negative. These inverted crystals tend to have opposite effects, although there's some weird variations:

  • Inverted Agate -- These repel rather than attract. Oddly though, the 180-rotated version is still weakly attractive (although weaker than an Agate with equivalent positive charge)

  • Inverted Diamoc -- Vibrates fast and basically makes anything it touch shake apart.

  • Inverted Ruby -- More straightforward. This one just absorbs heat and light. Touching it isn't recommended if you like your hands to not be frostbitten.

  • Inverted Onyx -- There's a weird property here where it can absorb charge from one side and inversion from the other, and pass them both through without them canceling out. If you interrupt this while both the inversion and charge are inside a chain of Inverted Onyx (maybe something where they're cycling around in an endless loop), something weird happens.

    More to come tomorrow probably.

  • Posted January 11th by Xhin
    Xhin
    Nature is beautiful

    Quick Note

    Feel free to jump in and ask questions at any time. I'll continue making longer descriptive posts too, but I'll answer any questions along the way.


    Will take a bit to read through! Looks very interesting so far!

    Posted January 11th by elemtilas

    Quick Note

    Feel free to jump in and ask questions at any time. I'll continue making longer descriptive posts too, but I'll answer any questions along the way.


    Will take a bit to read through! Looks very interesting so far!



    Yes, I’m only 1/3 of the way through. I’ll read the whole thread, then comment again.

    Posted January 11th by chiarizio

    Xhin is back! Full charged with fierce poetry as always, and I hope you will make some illustrations. Is there any mythical or historical character whose story you can share?

    Posted January 12th by Leo
    Leo
     

    @Xhin:
    More to come tomorrow probably.

    Is there more yet?


    Posted Tuesday by chiarizio

    There's more on the zbb that I need to port over here, and it's a fun project in general, but I'm probably going to focus on a conworld that works good with NIFE for a while.

    Posted Tuesday by Xhin
    Xhin
    Nature is beautiful

    Actually this one does look pretty good -- lots of materials science to mess around with, weather patterns, lots of lore.

    Posted Tuesday by Xhin
    Xhin
    Nature is beautiful
    Reply to: The people of Ik'Thulu have no wings.
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