Posted this elswhere on G+ (and Thought I'd discuss it here.


It is the, a, future. Centuries ago, possibly a thousand years, who knows, our ancestors took refuge in the great undersea settlements they built for themselves. We call them the Immortals and theirs was a world of wonder and scientific marvel. But it fell apart. We are taught, here in Lux Atlantis, that it was our hubris that was our undoing. A pursuit of science unbound that brought a star, I think they called it Sol, crashing down upon us. All that remains is what we have, here, under the surface of Mother Ocean. Though it is heresy, I have heard from the Skywatchers that the world above is real and it is slowly, slowly, healing. Occasionally my father brings me trinkets, peculiarities from that world, they are forbidden keepsakes, but a child can dream...

Imperium Atlantis:
Formerly a powerful alliance of the city-states of the Immortals, built beneath the vast Atlantic ocean. Long ago, when Azoth was discovered, a cadre of nobles realised it's potential to unlock genetic knowledge. They tested many and found a shared trait, a strand of long dormant and impossibly ancient DNA. They supposed it came from Lost Atlantis, whom the schools teach was the birthplace of man. Using Azoth these nobles unlocked that DNA and created a race apart. A race that would rule: the true Atlanteans compared to the rest of us. So it was that the first true Atlantean Dynasty was born, supplanting the more egalitarian rule that came in the wake of the passing of the Immortals themselves. Since them there has always been an Atlantean Emperor and, despite its power, the Empire has always been a divided society.

Peoples of the Deep:
The Atlanteans are a race of humans bred through centuries of genetic engineering, using Azothic technology. Their origins can be traced to the founding of the world underwater and the founding of Lux Atlantia, the capital of their empire.
Atlanteans are not significantly different than regular humans. Their advantage is largely one of class and their position in society. However their appearance is obvious as they possess coloured irises. This is representative of the presence of Azoth within the gene pool.

Kraken is the name given to the wayward genetic cousins of the Atlantean strand. They are the product of now-outlawed attempts to take elements of marine biology and weave them into human DNA, using Azoth. THe purpose of these experiments was benign: to evolve humanity to its new environment, but the project’s failure is clear. While many Kraken do bear interesting mutations, these are not as consistent as their appearance. Kraken are clearly different, and not seen positively within the Empire. At best they are tolerated as a useful grunt class. It is beyond that they find a place, though even in the frontier they are still seen as too different.

And then there’s regular humanity, trying its best to survive.

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Here's some more great how-to from +Jacqueline Lichtenberg (google her if you're not familiar with her work). She has a huge compendium of writing how-to specifics at her blog. This particular item struck me as especially useful to world builders who are writing fiction, since royalty often makes an appearance especially in fantasy works.

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Grab your polyhedral dice (or fire up your dice app) and use this handy Quick Alien Generator to see how homeworld conditions affect the evolution of lifeforms.

Alien species of the day

Imagine a population that is friendly and gregarious, highly intelligent and individual. The newly hatched individuals come with a wealth of knowledge. They hatch from soft cocoons that are attached to the stems of fast growing, highly productive plants, and they draw nutrition from these plants during their larval stage.
After hatching, they consume plant matter – leaves and fronds mostly. Upon aging, they start consuming plant spores, which will trigger their transformation into their sexual stage.
The sexual stage are hermaphrodite obligate carnivores without sapience which soon become sessile. While still mobile, they hunt indiscriminately and exchange sperm with already sessile specimen.
Their homeworld is entirely devoid of other animal life forms, so the only source of food are their own species. The hatchlings are protected from this appetite by their cocoons, which leaves only our friendly, intelligent and individualist intermediary stage as the food the sexual stage.
The individuals actually compete for being selected as food. In a series of competitions, only the individuals who came out in the lead in multiple disciplines get selected for consumption by the sexual form. They too are fed plant spores.
The selected individuals get injected by the sexual form with an enzyme that begins to digest their bodies alive. As a side effect, the brain tissue of the individuals forms spores which contain instructions to reassemble their neural structures.
When ripe, the digested individuals will be consumed by the sexual form. The intake of the spores will trigger a ripening of the plant spores once a critical level is reached. The sessile parent dies, while the fertilized ova begin to collect the sporal instructions for neural growth of the consumed predecessors. The decomposing body of the sessile parent finally erupts with the seeds of both its own kind and the plants that the asexual stage lives on.
Caretakers of the asexual pre-adult population arrange the seeds and hatchlings in optimal patterns.

The individuality of the asexual stage gets lost in this process. Individuals who progress into the sexual stage don‘t get to pass on intellectual achievements, but their emotional structure – basic neuronal setup, hormonal activity. And they pass on physical traits to their offspring.
Individual pre-adults consumed by mobile adults coontribute their neural setups for the basic personality. Their spores imprint on the formation of the neural development of the hatchlings.
Individuals consumed by the sessile form will imprint their neural development on an already semi-developed neural structure in a hatchling, and their skills and memories will be dominantly installed in the new individual.

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So, it turns out "spite houses" are a Thing, at least in our universe.
How about in yours? Do your urbanites have similarly quirky building practices?

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Here's a great run-down of Senegalese table etiquette, illustrating how a culture that eats out of a shared main pot or dish conducts their mealtimes. Good ideas here for cultural settings that vary from the European "chair at table with utensils and dinner plate" set up most of us are accustomed to. That background assumption leaks into a lot of our fictional settings, but might not always be appropriate. Here's a counterpoint to illustrate that.

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Small towns, cut off from the main trade routes, seemingly develop their own language over time:

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Geography and terrain
The name given to the continent as a whole - the Amarkhris Sidra - means literally ‘lands of the river people’ (the Khamarkh Kori), the river in question being the mighty Sakhranogakh (or ‘Dear Grandfather’ as it’s sometimes affectionally known), which winds its way majestically from way up in the Lower North West (no-one’s exactly sure where it originates), meandering through the lush Greenlands and past the Western Highlands until it eventually empties into the Southern Sea via the Ketri Delta. Its importance to the people of the Sidra cannot be overestimated, its iconic status matching that of rivers in our world such as the Nile, the Ganga, the Mississippi and the Amazon. At its upper reaches it forms part of a larger river system, and where it joins one of these other rivers it plays host to the Twin Cities, an urban powerhouse that straddles the confluence like a colossus.

The continent itself is vast, covering an area approximately the size of Western Europe, and as such contains many different types of terrain, in common with other great land masses. The climate varies considerably, and, again, following the pattern of other large continents, climatic conditions go from one extreme to the other. For example, it can be very inhospitable in the far North, with temperatures dropping to -40C in Winter, and in the Central Plains it can reach 35C in Summer. In addition, in the latter it gets very dry in the hot Summer months, and travel across it can be extremely perilous, with nary a sign of habitation (or indeed vegetation) for up to a hundred miles in some parts. There are extensive forests across the Sidra (populated with all manner of wild beasts, thus providing another danger for travellers), several large lakes and a vast inland sea. The Sakhranogakh is about 2’200-2’500 miles long (depending on how you measure it), and up to 2 miles in width, so it’s very useful as a transport link, going from North to South, but difficult to cross, especially during the rainy season in the Southerly regions, when it can swell to around 6 miles at its widest point.

There are two main mountain ranges, the Western Highlands to the West, and the Zagra Deni in the East, at the lower end of which are located the so-called Celestial Lights, a clutch of small towns and villages clustered round the foothills of Mount Zagra (Zagra Dag) that are home to a number of abbeys, nunneries and other spiritual communities. Weary travellers can get succour here, and there’s a sort of unwritten code that prevents unwanted clan activity, whether that be extortion, military aggression or what have you. Parts of both the Western Highlands and the Zagra Deni can be - and have been - scaled by hardy adventurers, but they are hazardous to even the most experienced of climbers. To the East of the Zagra Deni is the territory of the Digina, a clan popularly thought of as being nothing but a bunch of low-life thugs, thieves and murderers. There’s some truth in that, but probably nowhere near as much as people - especially their rivals - make out. Of course, other clans hold sway over different types of territory - arable, mountainous, forested and so on.

There are a few dozen cities and large towns across the Sidra, hundreds of small and medium-sized towns, and countless villages and hamlets. The big cities - Khetri-sar, Nogamak, Bandonda and Mifunsa etc. - are for the most part ‘free cities’, i.e. there is a notable absence of clan activity, be it because a particular city is dominated by powerful merchants - not that life under them is any more congenial, hence the expression ‘The yoke of an ox weighs as much in the town as in the fields’ - or because it’s in an area that never came under the influence of a clan in the first place, or only very minor ones. The major towns and cities across the Sidra are linked by a network of trunk roads, built by legacy regimes and financed by those movers and shakers who stood to benefit from trade and currency exchange and the fast and efficient movement of large numbers of people such as couriers, farm labourers and of course the merchants and princes themselves. These transport links also aided the smooth running of the chivalric orders’ fledgling banking system, BUT… where you have money, goods and wealthy personages travelling great distances you also get highway robbery. Step forward gangs of ruthless villains known as Rarta (which approximates to ‘useless trash’ in Amarkhris). No loveable rogues these, no Sunday matinee Robin Hood and his Merry Men. These characters are hardened thugs that terrorise the highways, and from whom no-one is safe.

However, lest you should think that life in the Sidra is all misery, doom and feudal oppression, here’s the bright side. The average person’s lot is not actually as bad as you might think. Sure, there are troubles. There is seemingly endless fighting and destruction, both of people and of property; there is disease, drought and famine, and yes, life is hard. But among all that there are festivals, laughter, friendship and good times. As I mentioned previously, the activities of all the various power bases don’t necessarily impinge on ordinary people’s day to day lives. So long as you keep your head down, keep your nose clean and don’t speak out of turn, chances are you’ll lead a life relatively untroubled by all the shenanigans going on around you. Unless of course you’re a member of one of the afore-mentioned power bases. But even there, if you play your cards right (and the gods haven’t stacked the deck), you could in theory make it through to old age with your intestines and various body parts intact, leaving aside a few scars here and there, and maybe one or two fingers. And perhaps an ear. Hey, you’ve got two, what are you complaining about?

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may also be useful for worldbuilding
You start with a marker in the center.
Each "turn" you roll a six-sided die, and move the marker one hex in the direction corresponding to the die roll.
If you hit an edge, slide to the next adjacent hex if the side you hit is sloped, or stay in the same hex if it's horizontal or vertical.
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