So, okay. I’m gonna share a bit of the stuff that I’ve made, and I like. I’m calling it “My Stuff”. I wanna see what else some of you may have put up: fic, comics, wacky worldbuilding stuff (or efforts thereof) or whatever. Anyway, here’s mine:
In my earlier post I mentioned something about a steampunk setting that horusporus decided to call “Steampunk Nusantara”. The thing is, I initially got it from an idea that I got from Mage: The Ascension — specifically a section discussing alternate settings, pages 167 – 168 (I’ve got a copy of it, but I’m really leery of transcribing it, since it’s © White Wolf).
I actually floated this initial idea up in alt.games.whitewolf in this post. We had a blast discussing this, the denizens of agww. Ahh, those were the days.
In case you don’t know much about the M:tA setting: You were supposed to be playing a Mage, someone who had Awakened to the existence of the truth: that belief shaped reality, and that a secret conspiracy called the Technocracy had hardened reality up to the point where only dull, hard science could exist without inviting Terrible Consequences.
Enter the Sons of Ether
One of the factions of the Good Guys were called the Sons of the Ether, and had come to existence thanks to a mysterious book called The Book of the Ether (in Arabic: Kitab al-Alacir, although I have no idea how accurate that translation is). One of their basic tenets is that Science is never static, and that exotic theories that did not necessarily follow the Consensus would still be possible thanks to Scientific Inspiration!
Or something like that. In essence it allowed you to have characters from Mad Scientists to Crank Inventors whose inventions would seriously work and to Two-Fisted Men of Action to Weird and Kooky Scientific Mavericks Whose Ideas Come From Their Intuitions!
In any case, the alternate setting that I had floated essentially asked this question: What would have happened had the Kitab been mass-produced before the Bad Guys managed to solidify reality?
So what are we looking at?
Well, in essence, what I’m looking for here is… I don’t know, a setting that can be used for anything, really: gaming, fic, art, comics, whatever. As you can see from the really extensive thread that we had in agww, we tried to define everything, and we failed, mainly because:
- Most of the setting was written from a White Western perspective. It was as if one miserable event in the Western Hemisphere could make all of these changes. Now I’m a big fan of the Butterfly Effect myself, but one event, based on what one white guy did at some point the 15th century? Come on.
- I don’t know enough. I mean, my knowledge of regional history at that point is remarkably poor, apart from bits and pieces about what happened in my country. What would have happened in Indonesia had the Portuguese not come? And if the Magellan expedition had changed in nature, what then? How would the Philippines have changed? I don’t know. And it gets worse when I think about continents I know next to nothing about, like Africa. What then?
- Besides, I’ve learned better. I mean, writing a setting and trying to hammer down canon, especially for RPGs, just makes people a lot of people unhappy. Some people like tailoring their own setting to their own needs. Besides, not everyone needs to remember which Italian (or Javanese) scholar wrote down which poem in 1785 — if you need to worry about that, just make up something on the spot or something.
The End Result
So, the end result of all of this would be some kind of kit to generate your own setting — a meta-setting, if you will. What that means is that in the end there’d be a whole bunch of common threads — kinds of conspiracies, important inventions, what certain places would look like, the names of groups, who’d make good protagonists and antagonists and the like.