“Weirworld” is my original game world I am adapting for “The Strange” role-playing game as a recursion. Originally I thought to publish it as a stand-alone role-playing game, but some research into the nightmare that is game publishing (in terms of cost, especially for original art and printing) made this a non-starter. So I adapted it to “The Strange” cypher system mechanics and decided to post it a as a series of articles on Livingdice.com. Today’s article will be a very brief primer to the world and the concept of “Burden.” Expect daily updates over the next week to fill out the world.
One of my main gripes with game worlds is they often make little intrinsic sense, even within the established rules of the world. World builders put in “cool” stuff and then completely forget what impact that bit of “cool” would have on a society. “The Stars My Destination” is an excellent example of good world building. Everyone can teleport to anywhere they previously visited, so access to wealthy homes and banks is heavily restricted. Wealthy people make a point of using archaic ground transportation to show off their wealth. Job applications list how far you can teleport in a single jump. The list goes on. For bad world building, see my post on “The Hunger Games.” The author just put in pieces she needed for the story and never bothered to explore how a real, intelligent person might react. This created a world that only works if everyone in it has an IQ of a moldy carrot.
So, with this in mind I created “Weirworld.” Which I hope is more internally consistent than many game worlds. That said, I doubt my world-building skills are up to the level of Alfred Bester, but this is my best effort. Weirworld is a level 7, developed recursion where the law of magic reigns and that power is available to everyone if you have the strength to claim it.
Centuries past a magical experiment went catastrophically wrong and opened a gate to a realm of horrors. For weeks, writhing organic horrors crawled through the portal until a brave few destroyed the gate at the cost of their own lives. As the portal disintegrated it scattered its microscopic fragments across the world. Much as the nuclear tests scattered radioactive particles across Earth, these particles of the tainted gate entered the ecosystem. For reasons unknown the particles accumulate in sentient creatures and only sentient creatures. This is the “Burden,” the taint of the evil gate that each an every person on Krollis (what the locals call the world) carries within them. Remnants of that long ago disaster still haunt (and hunt) the world taking lives and bringing pain. The Burden is a constant reminder of that fact. But there is a gift with the curse…
As one ages, the Burden concentration reaches the point where one might, with enough force of will one might open the tiniest of gates to the foul realm and carefully let a trickle of power through, known ironically as “Godlight.” But, the alien power wants freedom, it wants a gate to stay open. Power writhes and flows like a raging torrent, but the Burden wielder uses their will as a dam or “Weir” guiding the flow of power. Use the power, not be used is a common refrain among the Paradoxes of Krollis. Fortunately, accumulating Burden through the environment is a slow path, so few can truly wield its power and society goes on relatively peacefully. An elderly man might move a cup across a table or generate a bit of dim light from his hand. Younger people can not even access the power at all…unless they choose to take another path. At the moment of death, the Burden leaves a person as a pale mist rising from their eyes. With skill and luck one might gather this burden into themselves and thereby increase their own power.
This is the concept of “Burden” and it drives life on Krollis. Theologies leap into existence that offer to “lift” the Burden from the dying to free their soul from the ancient evil. Priests gathering all this power to “save souls” makes a convenient way to centralize magical power. Unless granted rights by the church, it is against the law to take Burden from the dying, but some powerful families either with permission or without often accumulate power within the family, secretly passing it down through the generations. Folk of high morals seek the dying to increase their power and preserve their morality. Cults, evil leaders and slavers are less concerned about how the Burden is released.
This bloody fact gives residents of this recursin the “paranoid” trait. The “paranoid” trait grants any creature with the spark a one step advantage when searching for an ambush or discerning a potential betrayal.
In Weirworld, people do not use Burden lightly. To use Burden in public invites attention of the church and the vile. It is a life shortening exercise in foolishness. And there are those stories that too much Burden changes you into something…else.
This is “Weirworld,” a dark and paranoid recursion where power is only limited by the willingness to kill. I have quite a bit already written up for this world, so I will publish some history, political structures and environmental information, new foci and finally how to implement “Burden” under the cypher system.
Check back tomorrow as the full exploration of “Weirworld” begins.
Trask, The Last Tyromancer