Rich Howard guides Kat Kuhl, DC (Orion), Devon George, and Richard Kreutz-Landry through character creation.
References in show: Mimic Octopus, Hermit crab shell exchange.
Session 0 MP3 (181MB, 2:12:03)
Rich: Welcome everyone to a very special game of Descent into Midnight. Descent into Midnight is a role playing game where you play psionically linked sea creatures in a technologically advanced alien world. You take on the role of highly trained and gifted psionic guardians defending your underwater city from an existential corruption, both of which, the city and the corruption, you define with your group at the table.
Everyone is encouraged to bring whatever cool things they know about the ocean in as inspiration or even the things that scare you about it. Whatever's most horrifying or most interesting to you. That's what we're playing with today. The game is ultimately hopeful, but explores the emotional consequences of fighting corruption and the bonds between the people who fight it and the community they protect.
I am honored to have four incredible players with me today, but I'm going to let them tell us more about themselves. So, first up. Kat Kuhl. Welcome to this game.
Kat: Hey, Rich, thanks for having me. Hi everyone. I'm Kat Kuhl. She/her.
Rich: Tell us more about who you are and what you do in the world. I'm going to steal a line from my own podcast.
Kat: Okay. Uh, yeah. I'm Kat. I am an actual play podcaster and game design. I do a podcast called Autonomic, which is a kid's actual play. Uh, it's like my favorite thing I've ever done. I love it a lot. It's...
Rich: It's amazing.
Kat: ...weekly, usually releases on Thursdays, and you can find it at autonomicpodcast.com. Other than that, I made a card game called Noisy Person Cards.
I helped design a role playing game for Roll20 that's called Burn Bryte. And I like that thing a lot. It's in beta, so you have to like be a Roll20 person to do it. But I'm really excited for people to get to do it ‘cause I feel pretty strongly about that.
Here's a good segue. It cares a lot about climate change and themes like ocean conservation.
Rich: Yay! Tell me one thing that either fascinates you or terrifies you about the ocean.
Kat: Oh gosh. Okay. Well, there's a lot that fascinates me about the ocean, but really the biggest thing about the ocean for me is how much it scares me.
Um, like it, I...
Rich: Excellent! Good place to start.
Kat: Yeah. Yeah. I can't get over both the like claustrophobia and agoraphobia of it. Right? But it's just, that's so much of the ocean to me.
I spent a lot of time on beaches as a kid, like the Steven Universe, like three beaches, that whole Delmarva area’s where I grew up. So I love that whole stretch of land. But once I'd spend more than a few hours out there, you know, it would start to spook you. That's just a knowing that I don't belong out there at all, and other things very much do, so...
Rich: You're going to belong today, so it'll be good because you can face that.
The reason I brought that up too is 'cause, too, Descent into Midnight started the same way. It started as a joke about a Broseidon playbook for Monsterhearts. And then I had all these playbooks in my head for Monsterhearts, and then it evolved and we're like, let's do a skin.
And then, Oh, maybe we'll do some do it with Masks, and then now it's whatever. Now it's what it is now. Which I love. DC I want to hear something that excites you or terrifies you about the ocean.
DC: What a great question. I am very afraid of the ocean, uh, but I respect it. And what has always been interesting to me, is that I love conceptually and physically, space. Space is very interesting because it's infinite and there's so much out there. There's so much life, all these planets, all these things that could destroy us instantaneously, but the ocean is way more terrifying to me because it is limited.
It is... closer. And although we have made so many scientific strides in the world and in space, we still don't know what's in the ocean.
Rich: So that fascinates and terrifies you? Both.
Rich: Excellent. I love it. All right, Devon...
Devon: It's me!
Rich: Who, I will say has done some absolutely breathtaking art for Descent into Midnight. Thank you so much for all of your work. Tell everyone a little more about you and what you do and where they can get your incredible art.
Devon: Well first, thank you. Doing that art was really awesome and actually like, I really enjoy how both of the illustrations I did turned out. I think they turned out really well and I'm glad that they're working out for you. So, yeah. My name is Devon George. I'm an artist and sometimes a game designer.
You can find my illustrations over at devongeorgestudios.com. Devon spelled with an “O”. My social media at dgeorgestudios on Twitter and Instagram. So I've done art for a Descent into Midnight, and I'm also doing, I'm just also drawing just a bunch of llamas for a game called Valhallamas.
They’re a local group to me who approached me and it's like a player-v-player fighting llama card game. If you want to check that out, it's by Fidget Creative. And I am right now coloring so many llamas right now.
Kat: That rocks!
Devon: Yeah. This one's fun. I tried to draw a dog like a week ago and it turned out looking like a llama.
Rich: I love it.
Devon: But I also, as I said, I do a little bit of game design. My game Edifice is in beta and it will be in beta probably until sometime next year when I'll figure out how to get that out to the general public, the final version, and you can find that also on my website or on my Twitter. Other than that, I don't do much other than draw art and like robots.
Richard: Oh, and Character Creation Cast. It has a series of episodes. So you can go check it out and get a sneak peek.
Rich: I was going to bring that up.
Devon: Episode 13 and you can listen to an hour of me just talking about the creative process, which it just evolved into.
Rich: It's a fantastic episode. You should go check it out.
Rich: Devon, there are no llamas in the ocean that I'm aware of.
Devon: Not yet.
Rich: What fascinates you… ? Not yet. Awesome, awesome. Do you want to tell us a little bit about your Cultivator and what you were thinking to start with?
Devon: So, first of all, crabs are llamas of the sea for me. So I'm going to be playing, I wanna play a hermit crab is what I want to do, but it's like a hermit crab with a million arms. So it's got like 37 arms, and not all of them are its own and like 20 eyes. Um.
Rich: I love it already.
Devon: Yeah. And I'll talk more about my weird thing about the garden ‘cause I had an idea.
All I know is I went down a Wiki hole of facts about hermit crabs and I have a bunch of really weird fun facts. They like, conga line. Okay. Anyway, other than that, I don't really have too much plan for them other than I think they're just going to be kind of a gentle character who really likes to build stuff and help people out.
I don't really have too much more on them yet.
Rich: I love it. I love it. All right, well let's go to Richard, cause obviously you've played once or twice. What playbooks were you interested in?
Richard: The one I'm looking at today is the specialist. This is one that I think you kind of drove a little bit.
Rich: I did. Yeah, the specialist, it's one of our newest playbooks, so most people haven't seen it yet.
Richard: Yeah, I'm excited. Basically the blurb, as it were, is you are an expert at getting your allies into and out of dangerous or questionable situations with skill and grace. Whether rescuing the victims of a natural disaster, negotiating a lethal hydrothermal vent field, breaching into the biotech security of an ancient civilization, or extracting psychic information from a coral hive mind.
So their, their whole thing is getting into and out of dangerous situations. So you can think of them like maybe a combat medic or an infiltration specialist or maybe even a psychic hacker, that kind of thing. And, after seeing the video of the octopus that was eating a bird, I was like, okay, that's real cool.
I'm going to do something with that. And looking over the cool powers list or the list of gifts, the psionic gifts, I am definitely going with an octopus with a penchant for getting into and out of things. So...
Rich: Nice. I love it. Fantastic. Kat. Do you have, did you narrow down a few playbooks here or do you have a specific one you're looking for?
Kat: So the one that jumped out to me was the Redeemed. Partially… um, so this is a pretty spiritual game, Rich. I have noticed that.
Rich: It’s as if I designed it.
Kat: It seems, it seems that way.
Rich: It's spiritual, underwater superheroes. What? What do you want from me?
Kat: It's kind of like a Rich jam.
Rich: It's just #OnBrand.
Kat: Yeah. And something that you've recently realized about me is that, I am not anti-spirituality, but I have some incredible family trauma surrounding it.
Rich: Yes. I just, I literally just found out...
Kat: Yeah, you found that out like last week. And I love a lot about the Redeemed, the idea of it, especially with, as we'll find soon, the idea of somebody who was created by something. Who had been affected by the Corruption beforehand, so has somewhat of a different perspective of what's going on. Which will enable me to have frank conversations about how my perspectives on this whole world might be slightly different than what you guys are dealing with because I don't know that I'm always going to be on the same page here. And I'm a little worried about that coming into this game. I'll, I'll be vulnerable right now and say I'm a little worried about not being the cool kid and, and just chill spiritually it with all of every, all you nice people.
Rich: May I may I offer a few things up? So just so people know the Redeemed is a character playbook that we kind of designed is like, almost like, your captain America, Hulk, something where someone was created by something or trained by someone to deal with conflict in some way. And it's very grounded out many times in the physical world, the physical protection, but is no longer that weapon of potentially war or conflict and is now become a guardian for whatever reason to try to protect and work with the community. So the Redeemed can be interpreted as a lot of different things. But the idea of having a Redeemed who maybe was trained by someone who then betrayed them or had been influenced in some way by the Corruption as we're going to develop it down the line and then has like this… a very strong or different viewpoint on much of this would be really interesting to me.
Kat: Cool. So they're also the only playbook that has my favorite thing about the ocean that we didn't talk about in our interest section, which is venom. I care about that a lot. And I'm always very much interested in exploring characters who have like this variety of past and are no longer really interested in trucking with violence all that much.
Think of people who are really skilled at it, but don't want to do it like your, like your Killua from Hunter X Hunter. Um, so yeah. It jumps out and appeals to me. This one's interesting to me.
Rich: It's fascinating to me because that is not the playbook I expected you to pick it all.
Kat: I know. I'm sorry. I'm, I'm really dark and angsty a lot. I'm so sorry.
Rich: No, no, no. But what I was thinking was actually another playbook you had mentioned you might have some interest in, which was the Touchstone.
Kat: I know, which is such a happy and light character!
Rich: Well, but it also reminded me a lot of the character of Tamlin that appears on Campaign podcast.
The innocence in the face of terrible things, right? And how that can approach, these terrible things and make change through hope. Um, not less, more about you, but more about like, that Tamlin is, you're clearly… Like, Tamlin is a piece of your heart in this podcast.
Kat: Very much so. That like “The Duality of Man.” I could have easily… that's the other playbook that I offered up of like, I'd be happy to play this. But, thinking about it more, I was like, I want to play a weird blue ringed octopus person, and just go for it if everyone's chill with me doing that. But also, if you guys don't want to have like an angsty person on your team, I don't have to do that at all and I can be a happy Tamlin.
Rich: So Kat, um, this game is hopepunk meets horror.
Richard: So I, I'm just gonna interject here. So at gen con last year. I went into this game, you know, I was real tired. I was feeling a little down. I just lost my job. I’d been having all these issues. Right? And I go into this game and I'm GMing it, and I think, “Oh, cool. We've got some players, everybody's upbeat, we're doing voices. It's great.”
Uh, we were, I think everybody at the table except for one person was crying about an hour into it. And we hadn't even started the game. We were doing character creation and community building. Like, we do angst.
Rich: I was running a game at the table five feet from them and I kept getting notifications to the DiMRPG Twitter feed with pictures of people crying. And I went to Richard, I was like, what are you doing to them over there?
Kat: Yeah. Then in an act of self preservation, I think the Redeemed is really… This is the most… um, like violence isn't… I noticed that I was like, “Huh. It's funny that it's built for physical violence because that isn't what's important to me about this playbook at all.” But this playbook is so much in my wheelhouse, so yeah.
Rich: That's, and that's actually it. The redeemed actually started off as called the living weapon. And then we realized the violent aspect of it was not what we were interested in. The idea of having been something and wanting to be something else is the most important. That's why the name is called the redeemed.
So it is about that emotional thing. It's not the fighter playbook. That's not what it's for. It's like The Bull in masks where people go in and think like, “Oh good. I can just be the invulnerable strong person.” And then they realize it's literally the most emotional playbook in the entire masks game.
That's what, that's what I really want to see from the Redeemed. Ideally. Yeah. So I think you're spot on.
Rich: All right. And then last step…
Devon: I think I teared up when, Oh, sorry, go-
Rich: No. Go ahead Devon. What were you going to say?
Rich: No, I heard “teared up.” I want to hear about it.
Devon: I was just going to say, I think I almost cried when I played too.
Rich: Excellent. I win!
Devon: I did tear up. I think it was when we were trying to save the corrupted little grub babies.
Richard: Oh my gosh. Yeah.
Rich: And we're having, we're going to have flashbacks. Okay. All right.
Devon: When we were on the “moon.” It was bad.
Rich: So Kat, you're in safe hands. Let's do this. DC, you and I had talked a little earlier about the playbook that you wanted to play. Tell us the playbook that you want to play and tell us why it kind of draws you.
DC: I want to play the traveler, which- I will read the blurb. Where many lives thrive within and around the city scape, you have spent years, perhaps even centuries, studying the world outside. Whether a scholar, trader, explorer or bounty hunter, you have collected a lifetime of knowledge and experience and seen the best and worst the world has to offer.
I very much resonate with the traveler. Mostly because I have I always feel like I don't center in my personal life. I feel very on the edge, observant of people. And, most of the skills that people are like, “Oh, you're very good at this…” Cause I, I've been watching people be people for a long time and so my understanding comes from there.
And the really interesting thing to me about it is that there's a sense of this person is both one of us and not one of us. And how a person who is a traveler can have that sense in their own self, because the things that, the experiences that they have are truly unique on both sides.
And so it's one foot in on both areas and not two foot feet in any way.
Rich: I love it. Do you have an idea? I've heard some octopuses and some hermit crabs and some, uh, some, some... We'll get more specific, but you have some idea of something that you might like to…
DC: I'm going to have to go with my favorite animal, the immortal jellyfish.
Rich: Excellent. I love it. We're doing that for sure. All right, so let's take a look at our playbooks now. Thanks for everybody, for, I got everybody right? I did get everyone. So let's take a look at the playbooks now. On the front page of the playbook, of course, you have your name and your pronouns.
You can fill those in. We'll do those a little bit later on the front of the playbook. You have your look. Which are just suggestions and ideas to help stimulate an idea that you have. If you didn't have one to start with.
Gifts, which are, could be psionic, they could be natural to your species, or they could be bio-engineered technology or a bio-engineered, cybernetics, that kind of thing as well.
However you want to interpret it, you get to two gifts. Again, these are suggestions and you can use gifts from any playbook, similar to games like Masks. The powers are our ideas and themes that seem to go well with the playbook, but you can, you know, pitch whatever you want.
An idea for attitude or viewpoint.
And then also an idea about where you come from in your home though you now all reside within a metropolis. And the basic core city that we use as a base is a reef. Metropolis. Millions and millions of creatures, sentient creatures, live in an advanced civilization in this reef. That doesn't necessarily mean that you or your species come from the city itself, or they could be some district of the city that has these qualities.
Like, for example, in the specialist, the examples are a snug crevasse, a dirty hole, too many teeth as a suggestion for home, or a family legacy. So these aren't like, just like, “Oh, a kelp bed or a coral reef.” These are ideas and themes that you can talk about where your home and family come from. So why don't you take a look at that and circle a few things, and then we'll talk about the specifics there. And then we'll go on to the next.
Devon: I love it. One of my options for home is “What are these plants?”
I'm circling it. I don't know what it means, but I'm circling it.
Rich: Excellent. We can all figure it out together.
Richard: I think Taylor basically started bringing in just some really poetic language. And if you need poetry, Taylor is the person to go to. Like, he's so good at evoking images and feelings with just a couple of words. You know?
Rich: He leaned heavily into the alliteration on the looks as well. So for, again, for the specialist there is invisible and infinite, beefy and bulbous, fluid and fastidious are examples.
Richard: And of course they're all suggestions. So if you've got something else in mind that you think would work, go for it. And that includes the gifts and…
Rich: Or if you want to pick up another playbook and just say like, “Oh, none of these are really, I'm not really feeling inspired by any of these.” Pickup another playbook and see if anything jumps out at you.
Devon: Yeah, I'm just going to circle two that are close to each other, but aren't in the same like, comma.
Rich: Oh, that's great! Yes, you are allowed. No commas or hard stops here.
A really popular one is, uh, the redeemed has colony of creatures. That one gets picked up a lot.
Kat: Yeah. I can see people liking that.
Rich: Yeah. Yep. I also like the deceptively delicate for the Redeemed.
Kat: That is what I have picked.
Rich: Excellent. I'm already loving this character. Kat. You're good. All right.
Devon: I'm good. I just have to figure out my second gift. I'm a little stuck on that, but other than that, I'm good.
Rich: All right. Well, why don't we talk, why don’t we start with you then, Devon, since you're pretty close, and then we'll move on to the rest. So for your look, what did you pick?
Devon: I circled. Yeah, I had, I had enlightened and encrusted, boisterous and blooming, and guarded and gooey, and I circled the two that were close to each other. Which was encrusted and boisterous. And then I also circled enlightened, so I'm not sure what that means, but we'll find out.
Rich: Excellent. Welcome to Powered by the Apocalypse games.
And then, and then your gifts you had, do you get to choose two of those gifts? What did you choose?
Devon: I have technopathy first and I am very… my first thing is to hit like impenetrable armor…
Rich: Because you're a hermit crab.
Devon: Yeah. But also because of what I plan to do with my garden, I feel like that's, I feel like that's cheating. A little spoiler alert. I want to put my garden in my shell, but in a, in a… What does the term-
Kat: Yeah. Like a pocket dimension.
Rich: Absolutely. I'm in.
Devon: I want to put it in my shell, but in a subspace dimension, and I can turn my shell inside out and turn it into the garden. So that's why I don't want to do impenetrable armor, because I feel like…
Rich: Well, let me lean into that if you want to do impenetrable armor, because let's talk about that. Because one of the things that you do for your garden is a move called seafoam green thumb. You pick two, you pick two benefits and one liability, one of the lines that the liabilities are things like that your garden is appetizing, that your garden is vulnerable, that your garden is ostentatious, delicate, or that your garden is hungry. So if you're gonna put it in a pocket dimension inside you and you roll in a way that triggers your liability, that could give us some interesting ways to go. So I don't have an issue with you taking in penetrable armor because it's inside your armor and it may be the problem.
Devon: All right. Yeah. I want impenetrable armor and technopathy. And then for attitude, I hit nurturing and for home I have “What are these plants?” I also have a name.
Rich: Great. What's the name?
Devon: Their name is Maybe Many Homes.
Rich: Maybe Many Homes.
Devon: Yes. Maybe m-a-y-b-e, Many as in there's a lot, and Homes as in, “this is my home.”
Rich: And then do you have pronouns?
Devon: Uh, I always stall at pronouns, so you're gonna have to come back to me on that one.
Rich: That's okay. You can hang out with that one. That's no problem. And then we're going to go around and talk about individual characters. Then I'm going to start diving a little bit deeper, but right now, Devon, I want to plant the seed to remind you that you are not just creating a single character. You're not creating all dwarves.
You are representative of all dwarves. You are a member of the species that happens to be a Cultivator. Meaning that your whole species aren't all cultivators. So in your mind, think about, start thinking about things like, well, what if my species, same species was a Traveler or a Seeker or a Redeemed?
How would they maybe fit in those? And then also the people who aren't these playbooks, the inhabitants that aren't these playbooks live in the city every day. And so there they are going to be a people in the city. So think a little bit about that. I'm going to ask you some questions later about the culture: some interesting cultural things and things like that for your people, not just yourself. So I'm planting those seeds right now.
Devon: Awesome. I will go take some notes ‘cause I already have some ideas.
Rich: So who wants to, who's popping up next to, who's got something for me?
Richard: I mean, yeah, I'm ready to go if y'all want to take some time. Okay. I started with the idea of an octopus, but I think I'm going a little bit weirder because this game lets you do that.
Rich: Lean into the weird. Yes, it does.
Richard: So I'm going to be playing a group of echo plankton called Même,
Rich: Okay. The plankton are called Même, or you're called Même?
Richard: Well, we are called, Même.
Richard: And essentially, uh, we are a group of plankton that sort of span the gap between the Echo and the physical world.
And we can take on the form of other creatures. And they pick one when they basically like gain sentience or sapience so they can shift that. But generally they like to hang out as a squid. I'm in the shape of a squid. And they are fluid and fastidious because what they can do, is they have material mimicry.
And so when they come into contact with materials in the physical world, they can transform themselves into something similar to that. And the other power that they have is phasing. And so they can move through materials as they sort of lean more towards the Echo. But it's dangerous for them because they can pop back into the physical world if they get tired or something happens and they can lose a part of themselves inside of whatever the material is.
Rich: I love this. This is fantastic.
Richard: And they're very sort of curious and probing and they go to different worlds, but this collection, they have happened upon this world and they like it. So their family legacy is interacting with this world and sort of, you know, swimming around and hanging out with this particular physical world.
Rich: So one of the things that we play around with is the idea that Seekers or other characters that are going into the far, far Echo can actually appear, or discover other realities, uh, and may just be like other worlds like this. So it seems like that's something that you, that, that Même has done,
Richard: Yeah, and I think they, as a family, the collection that they come from has sort of latched onto this particular world. And so they can't go back into the far Echo anymore. Like they're sort of tied to this world.
Rich: They've kind of, it's almost like maybe when you were younger, they travel around, they find a place, and then once they've kind of manifested themselves, they have, they're kind of rooted generally.
Richard: So it's, it's sort of like if you had some sort of sea kelp or something that floated around and then the moment it found a rock, it would attach itself to that and then it doesn't move after that.
Rich: Love it. That's super cool. Okay. DC, Kat?
DC: I've got some stuff. So my traveler they’re, you know, a jellyfish. Their name is Traveler.
DC: This is because this particular species just manifest from the Echo, and they're... a special… their species is treated as like a special class because they just manifest and within the city they are then like, “I am here for this particular role.”
And they don't have any conscious knowledge of the Echo, like their past.
Richard: Oh, interesting.
DC: If they even view time in that way, I'm not completely sure yet, but-
Rich: Well they're immortal jellyfish, so this tracks.
DC: They then say “this is my role.” And then it's basically like, okay, go ahead. And then they contribute to the city in whatever way that things are given to them.
So they're sort of sage, like, I picked smooth and sage-like for a look, so that kind of leans into that. And they come with contributions and then are usually given a lot of flexibility as to what their position is in any given situation.
Rich: And so there's, there's multiple of your species in the city. They've all manifested with specific goals in mind or specific jobs or things that they participate with in the city?
DC: Yes. Some might show up and be like, I take care of children. And that's their thing.
Rich: I love it. That's so cool.
DC: So Traveler doesn't have any pronouns, they're just Traveler.
Rich: I love it.
DC: They showed up, understood that they were Traveler, looked across the city, got to know the culture and the people probably fairly quickly through a lot of psychic interaction and then left.
Their gifts are movement, manipulation, and matter mimicry. So with movement manipulation, I'm thinking they can speed things up or slow things down when they're moving.
DC: And can probably move things a little bit in a direction if they want to.
Rich: Like they control, they control momentum and inertia in some way?
DC: Yeah. This allows them to move through the world a bit safer and the travel really quickly. The matter mimicry allows him to blend in to areas where they show up because they generally just want to observe.
Rich: So the matter of mimicry for Traveler is almost like a camouflage.
DC: Yeah. They can camouflage by making themselves less visible or if they can make themselves look like whatever creatures around if they want to interact with them. There are no particular rules around it. It's just like whatever the feeling is. Cause it's sort of like the consciousness of, there are forms of consciousness of the echo sort of experiencing different…
We assume worlds and dimensions out there, but it's not something that any jellyfish in any particular place really thinks about. They're just like doing the thing.
Rich: I think that's cool.
DC: The attitude is Restless. They want to be traveling most of the time. If they're in, and that even means not necessarily traveling to different places, but having different experiences and their home is empty spaces.
Rich: Awesome. All right. The Redeemed.
Kat: So my look options were colony of creatures, which is great, polished predator, mailed monstrosity, or deceptively delicate. And I've gone with a deceptively delicate. I really like the idea of being like a branching little flower thing that is like a combination of a blue-ringed octopus and a, uh, what are those called?
Uh, Oh. A lionfish.
Richard: Ooh. With all the spiny things!
Kat: With all the spines. So, different types of venom branches.
Rich: There's a video of a mimic octopus mimicking a lionfish. That might be, yeah, it's pretty rad. So we should find that.
Kat: We should definitely find that and look at that. That's not the secret agenda of this at all.
Right. So, so generally like it can move around, or probably they, they can move around and change with what they look like, but they look like a little flower. They're a bunch of gifts options, but I've gone with venomous defenses and transferable consciousness.
I believe the way that they were constructed was, because they are definitely a product of bioengineering, is that they're meant to infiltrate a society, and spread venom that made it easier for the corruption to take over the consciousness of people and change them, their minds into doing a thing. Um.
Rich: So this is, so this is interesting. So, what I've experienced in the past running the game is that the characters will be a part of the society. And then the corruption is coming in and being introduced in the first games. But this is beautiful. I love this.
Kat: Well, I figured, I figured we already at least thought that we beat this particular corruption and maybe we did. Maybe it's a completely new corruption. It could be related to this past corruption that's still ongoing.
Rich: Somebody tried to weaponize the corruption… that is messed up and I love it.
Kat: So the idea… so I have like multiple types of venom, but one of them is definitely a thing that is meant to help take over consciousness. And then I have transferable consciousness. So that is what I'm intended to do. I no longer like to do that. My attitude in general is I'm a fairly stoic individual because I wasn't made that way. I’m made to infiltrate and be charming and “la-tee-da, I'm happy little flower person.” So now that I don't have to, I don't bother.
And then home. Um, the options are really cute. There’s spines and spires, the bone yard, calm currents. And then the last one was simple beginnings. And I really like simple beginnings, trying to make it work in like a little simple cave these days, now that I have been given space in our little metropolis society.
I have a name: I'm going to go with a Polyp 39.
Richard: Oh my God, I love that.
Rich: Yeah, I'm all about that.
Kat: And, uh, I, yeah, I think pronouns are, they/them.
Rich: That all sounds amazing, and I already have a million ideas from all of you. That's incredible.
Richard: Oh, do we? Did we get a name and pronouns for the cultivator, Devon?
Devon: Yeah. I think I'm going to confirm to she/her.
Rich: Got it. The next thing we're going to do is we're going to go over the moves a little bit and talk about the general moves, and then we're going to go over our links and then we'll develop a little bit more about the city. So, let's start with… let’s just go back in the same order. So let's start with Devon.
So we've talked a little bit about the cultivator has this seafoam green thumb as their core move and then they get to pick two additional moves in addition to that and the seafoam green thumb. You're a master aquaculturist and bioengineer with a connection to the flora and fauna of the ocean world.
You nurture a vibrant garden and tend to schools of creatures both natural and bio engineered. So your garden has two benefits and one liability. Have you put some thought into those?
Devon: I would say that hungry, cause you mentioned that and that actually sounds radical. So I would go with hungry.
Rich: As a liability.
Devon: A liability, yeah. I'm very good at coming up with a bad thing. So you have to give me a second to figure out the good things. Uh. Oh boy, that's a lot of options.
Rich: So while you're thinking about it, I'll share some with the listeners. There's armored constructs…
Devon: It's almost a robot, and therefore I would like armored constructs.
Rich: Good. Medicinal organisms, weaponized creatures, prophetic spores, bioelectric, mainframe and living security systems.
Devon: Well, what do we think of bio electric mainframe means, though?
Rich: Bio electric main frame. It can mean anything, obviously, but what we're thinking about with that is coral computers, some kind of plugging into broad systems. Something that has to do… maybe plugged into the sanctuary that you guys are going to have. But it could be interpreted just like anything else in the game. It’s whatever you think might work.
Devon: What do you think would be making like gadgets? Isn't there something already for that, or is this a-
Rich: There are a few different moves. One is called “It Plugs in Where?” In It Plugs in Where you use your personal energy in the living environment to create and/or power, a bioelectric or genetically modified device. You have the reef protects its own, it goes to 11, which is supercharging bioelectric stuff and something called It's Green, where you call upon nature, your connection to nature for assistance.
You also have buds, which is you have a talent for nurturing friendships, sometimes even growing new friends from seeds or spores.
Devon: I love that.
Rich: And so when you grow a helpful creature or plant.
Devon: I love that so much.
Rich: There's a lot of that kind of thing. So you're very MacGuyvery / computer engineery.
Devon: Yeah. That's what I-
Rich: It's Iron Man, the underwater Iron Man kind of a thing.
Devon: Yes. I want to be underwater Iron Man. I'm literally building underwater Iron Man cause I literally have a suit.
Devon: Also remind me to explain the hermit crab conga line at some point. I'm going to go-
Rich: That’s gonna come up for sure.
Devon: Yeah, I'm going to go with the bioelectric mainframe cause I like the idea of the, I like the idea of like a computer.
Rich: Awesome. And we can talk about more about that as a group. And then you have two other moves. Do you have ideas? It sounds like you would like to do It Plugs in Where when you're creating gadgets on the fly, great.
Devon: I know when I was looking through these, I just wanted one with like a really high altruism because I think there was a basic move that I really liked and I think it was something to do with defending people.
Rich: Yes, there is. The one you're thinking of is The Reef Protects Its Own. Through genetic manipulation, bioelectric triggers, and psionic activation. You can rapidly create a garden in the surrounding area, and when you grow a garden to defend your allies, you gain plus one ongoing to defend another within the affected area.
So you're basically overgrowing the area around you then that area you grow is going to protect and help your allies.
Devon: Ugh, but I only get two and I really like It's Green.
Rich: It's Green is also really quite good.
Devon: I know.
Rich: They're all fun.
Devon: I like the idea of growing a helpful plant or creature.
Rich: The buds?
Devon: I'll choose buds. I think that's cool. But I definitely want The Reef Protects Its Own at some point ‘cause I feel like that's sort of where I want to go with this character.
Rich: Perfect. Great. So we'll do Buds and It Plugs in Where? All right, so Richard, we're doing the Specialist here. Your core move is Get the Job Done.
Nothing distracts you from your tasks at hand. It allows you to use calm as a stat instead of community. When you're scanning the environment and when you act as a team to prepare for an infiltration, a rescue, or travel through treacherous locations, you get to do some cool stuff.
Richard: Yup. The other two things I was looking at… I was looking at safety net. So, when something doesn't go to plan, you react with instinct and training. When an ally rolls a six minus on a basic move, you may mark a condition and describe how you help them. And if you do, the ally may consider the role a 10 plus.
The idea behind that is Même is very quick and running on instinct. And because they're this collection of small things, they just react to things without necessarily thinking about them first. And they're very curious and they operate at that quick speed when they sense that something's going on.
The other thing is Hack the World. When you attempt to bypass a location's defenses, roll plus drive. On a hit, you gain access, and then on a seven to nine you have to pick from some lesser versions of that. And then on a six minus, you may take dangerous or damaging shortcuts to get the job done.
And then you can resist corruption to treat it as a seven to nine so you have some options for, again, getting the job done, but it might not be great for you.
Richard: Which I think is perfect. Kind of given that their whole thing is moving through materials and becoming those materials and the fact that they are sort of like a set collective of small creatures.
Rich: Love it. That sounds great. All right. DC for your traveler, your core move is called Hide and Seek. Whether through education, training or social graces, you know how to find the most elusive creatures. When you seek information about a plant, animal, or another inhabitant, you can roll plus drive and find out a list of information.
So you could either track them down, find a person, or just know things about strange and bizarre plants and creatures that other people don't. And then in addition to that, you get two others.
DC: My two others are Like a Local: when you are introduced to an unfamiliar location or creature or culture, tell the table how you are aware of the location or culture and roll plus community. On a hit, you are able to call for aid, comfort, information, or rest. On a 10 plus, you gain plus one forward, on a seven to nine I get: how you gained your knowledge involved an unsettling personal event and describe the event and mark a condition.
As the memories are brought to the surface, you uncover something dangerous or threatening. Your information is incomplete, causing delays or complications and an adversary, competitor, or rival makes their presence known.
And my other move is More Experienced than Luck. You've survived on more than instinct and will. You have gained experience with the range of disciplines either through research training or practical knowledge. Whether you share an experience with or give skilled advice to your allies roll plus drive.
On a hit, your experience is applicable to the current challenge until the end of the scene. Whenever you spend a maneuver to aid your allies you can double the bonus if your advice applies. On a seven to nine your current situation includes a twist or complication you didn't foresee.
Rich: Nice. More Experience than Luck is very popular. I think a lot of people would want to have more experience than luck for some reason, which I think is really telling. I don't know. In some way there's something psychological happening there. I don't know what that is.
And Kat with the Redeemed.
So your core move is called Heart of Violence. And in that you pick one of two moves. One is called Stormfront. When you appeal to your allies to help restrain you from rash or violent action, you ask your friends if they hold you back and then if they do or don't, there's consequences. This is… I refer to this as the Hulk situation. You want to respond violently, but you're trying to figure out how not to do that anymore.
The other one's called Eye of the Storm. When you remain calm during a conflict with a powerful opponent, ask your allies if they think you can prevail and whether they do or not. And that's more of the captain America facing Thanos kind of a thing, like that kind of situation.
So someone who's already calm in a situation but is dealing with more powerful things. So, is one or the other of those appealing to you?
Kat: Yeah. I'd like to one day be Eye of the Storm, but I don't think this buddy's there yet. So even though I would like to be a character who isn't particularly violent, Stormfront is the more appropriate of the two.
Rich: So that's where you are now. There's an arc going on. I love it. And then two other moves.
Kat: Yeah. I love Sense Weakness. Sense Weakness is you identify weak points in everyone, friend or foe, when you first encounter a new ally, predator or other notable creature, you may ask the guide one question about them. They must answer truthfully. And then, what is the move grapple?
Rich: It just says when you grapple with an opponent, the move is called One-to-One. When you grapple with an opponent, ask if they yield. The grappling can be generally interpreted. So it could be a physical-
Kat: Cool. Cool.
Rich: Or it could also be a social conflict grapple. Again, that Captain America, like right in someone's face, using his presence to say “do you stand down?”
And if they don't, then there are consequences. Or if they do, there are consequences. So it, or in this game, there's so many things with tentacles and arms that it ends up being a physical grapple a lot of times anyway. But it can be either of those. It could be both, or either one.
Kat: Yeah. I'm going to take one-to-one. The idea behind it is that you're grappling with a person in a one-on-one capacity and then asking them if they stand down and if they do, you can get them to back out of the fight. And seeing as I'm someone who's trying to get things to chill out nonviolently it seems like it would be a benefit to me.
Rich: I like it. Before we get onto taking a quick look at the team moves and then doing our links, I want to talk a little bit about the stats because we haven't talked about those yet. The stats in our game are not based on physical stats. Like several Powered by the Apocalypse games do, the stats that happen in our game are hope, altruism, community, calm, and drive.
In addition to those, each stat has an associated Condition. So for Hope there's Despairing, Altruism is Selfish, Community is Isolated, Calm is Angry, and Drive is Conflicted. So when you have a conflict with somebody, whether it's physical, social, emotional, psychic, and there is “damage” inflicted in some way, or you mark one of those conditions, that condition gives you a minus two on any role that happens to involve that stat.
So if you are Despairing, any Hope roll you make is going to be made at a minus two. When you have all five conditions marked and you have to mark another condition / you're forced to mark another condition, you need to remove yourself in some way from whatever's happening. It could be being knocked unconscious, teleporting deep into the far echo, discorporating into whatever, just… it could be any at anything that removes you from that particular conflict to recover conditions.
There are a few things that you can do. One is a special move that's called “What Have We Done?” It allows you to contemplate the consequences of whatever the thing was that happened that caused that condition, and you can remove that condition if you do something that's role playing driven. For example, you could clear Despairing, but you try to convince someone of an impending doom. You put it off yourself. You clear yourself of this bitter despair that you have by bringing somebody into that space with you.
You can also do it by a basic move, and that's called Salve Wounds. And what that is, is either it could be physical salving of wounds, like a medical roll, or it could be verbal or emotional, just being supportive of someone else will allow you or your teammates to help you clear conditions as well.
So let's go to links. On the back of your playbook is a list of five questions. You just have to answer one. You can answer all five if you want, but you just need to answer one or more of the following questions. So for example, one of the questions for the Specialist is “blank helped you achieve a goal that was personal to you. Why did they help you and what was the result of that mission?”
Or “You confided in blank about an enmity you have with an influential member of the community. Who is your rival? And how did blank react to the news?” These are questions to help you link yourselves together in ways that tell us that there have been previous episodes of this TV show. So now you guys know a little bit about each of the characters.
Let's answer some links. I am going to, instead of going around, I think I'm gonna see who's got something they want to throw out first. This is definitely one where you like, “Hey, I, this is an interesting question to me. Who wants to join? Who wants to be my person for this?” You know?
Richard: So, Kat, I was thinking, one of mine is “you know something about blank’s past? What do you know? How did you uncover it? Do they know? If so, what was their reaction?” I'm wondering, would you be cool with, um. Même because the way that they interact with the world is like they touch things and then that portion of them kind of resonates with whatever they touch, and will transform into that and gain information about it that way.
Would you be cool with them having touched Polyp 39 at some point and learn, absorb some of the venom or something and figured it out a little bit, of like what they can do, where they came from or something like that. Does that sound cool?
Kat: Yeah. That's, that's very cool. Especially ‘cause we need a way for Polyp 39 to have gotten out of the bad situation to start with. Right. So you need to have gotten, someone needs to have gotten information at some point that didn't kill them. So, A-okay.
Rich: I'm gonna add… I'm gonna dig into some questions here. So did this happen… is this how you helped Polyp 39 stop doing this?
Richard: I can imagine that Même, sort of like Traveler did, sort of appeared in the space. Because I imagine that they float around near the physical dimension and then filter in one day, and that's when they're born essentially. And that was, the first creature that they found. And so that's the sort of shape that they take on. But they were still sort of young and exploring things, and that's when they first came across Polyp 39.
Rich: what mission was polyp 39 in the middle of doing when Même showed up?
Richard: Oh gosh, I don't know. Kat, what do you think?
Kat: I don't know.
Rich: I'm guessing you were in another city.
Kat: Yeah. We were probably at least, like, a little forest of us was probably taking over a city or something.
Richard: Ooh. Interesting. So Même has a piece of themselves that takes on a little bit of what Polyp 39 is able to do and sees that “Oh, there's a consciousness there” and reacts weirdly to it. And maybe like, I imagine that, that piece of Même sort of like cut itself off and turned on the rest of them.
The rest of Même basically destroyed that piece. So how would, how would Impala 39 have reacted to that? Seeing that, here's this almost blank slate creature that sees what it is, but immediately recognize this, “Oh, I need to destroy that.” And then destroys it.
Rich: Même touched Polyp 39 and some part of that corruption was injected into Même and then Même like severed itself, to keep the corruption from taking over? I have a question that might feed into this a little bit. Did Polyp 39 not want to do this to start with or was there some reaction maybe between Polyp 39’s interaction with Même that triggered a sense of wanting freedom in some way?
Kat: Yes. I figure the latter. I think Polyp 39 basically was able to come online because of interacting with friends. You know, like, I'm not sure that there was much in… not… not saying that they weren't a fully thinking being, right? But it was all brainwashing before that.
Rich: I'm thinking, it sounds like Même... Let me throw this out there and see if this gels with you guys. So what if Même, who had just maybe recently manifested and was still learning about whatever this, this world was, um, runs into Apollo 39, you guys have a physical contact in some way, and then part of Même who is still like basically like, neonatal cells trying to form themselves, got into Polyp 39.
You guys exchanged, yeah, there was Corruption on, came into you and you had to cut off part of yourself, but that part you cut off also-
Rich: -kind of got into Polyp 39 to show… and it inadvertently gave Polyp 39 a vision of the bigger universe, that you manifested from. Maybe even just seeing the infinite of something, that made Polyp 39 go, “Wait, this is the… I don't… this is not the only thing I have to do” like somehow broke that programming. Does that sit with either of you guys?
Richard: It's fine with me.
Kat: Yeah. It works with me.
Richard: Okay, cool.
Rich: Cool. Awesome.
Richard: (processing) So I think like it, it's the kind of thing where, “Oh,” there's one piece of Même that starts to form up and then men cuts it off. Like, “Oh gee, I touched something weird. I'm going to cut off my whole hand because I can.” And then, the rest of the pieces of Même integrated with Polyp 39 and you were able to take that new view or experience and go, “Oh, there's something else here.” And it was enough to kind of break that programming?
Kat: Yeah. That very much works.
Rich: Yeah, that's what I'm thinking. Very cool.
Rich: Let's go to Polyp 39 then. Let's take a look at your links now that we have a little bit of an idea of how you get freed, and then kind of made a, have a bonding moment here with Même. Do you have any of the links there that are interesting to you?
Kat: Yeah. I'm intrigued by the, “A memory from my past weighs heavily on me, but I've only told X person about this memory Y” one because I think a lot of my stuff is public record to start with, right? People know what we did, but the idea of a secret memory, oh, you know, is kind of fun. And I was thinking it would be cool to have that connection with Maybe Many Homes, because I think the idea of a Cultivator is pretty much the closest thing that I would have to a mom being as though I was bio engineered, right?
Devon: I like that. I actually have a little bit of a, I have a little thing that I, I want to say before I get to that, ‘cause I think it'll set it up. First of all, I figured out what “what are these plants?” means.
Devon: And the answer is, I think that there is a garden that is a laboratory in the center of this place, but the plants are alien to us. Like these plants came from outer space. And so I don't know if maybe that means that laboratory has something to do with the creators of Polyp 39 maybe, and that's why, is because like I work and maybe knew, or hell, was related or had some kind of connection to the creators of whatever was going on with Polyp 39. Does that make sense Kat?
Rich: Wow, yeah.
Devon: Okay, cool. I don't know what the secret is, but I know that I have some weird stuff that I feel like could answer that.
Kat: I was figuring that my secret was that there was a chunk of memory that I didn't have anymore.
Rich: Something was removed?
Kat: Yeah, so, you can just know what it is and I don't.
Devon: Ooh, I'm keeping a secret from you.
Rich: Or you know where to… you know where you might be able to find it maybe, and you haven't gotten it yet.
Devon: Yeah. I like that idea. I mean, if we want to make this even more heartbreaking…
Rich: Yeah. The answer is yes.
Devon: Okay, ‘cause I feel like this is, this is interesting and relevant and like relatable to a certain extent. But what if this character is like mentor, or one of her mentor figures was one of the people that began this project and therefore you not only have like it being like…
Maybe has a little bit of a strange relationship to Polyp, and her mentor, because her mentor turned out to be a really bad person. And so she can be like, “Oh, I don't know. Like how, what does that mean for me? Does that mean I'm a bad person? Does that mean that because I didn't figure this out? Does that make me a horrible person and I can't help this person who is the victim as much as I wish I could? Does that… what does that mean? What can I do?” Cause I think that puts her in a very almost helpless place where she's trying her best. But...
Rich: I'm going to throw some things out again. So what if Même helped to kind of free Polyp. As such, Polyp started this chain reaction of free thinking, left whatever mission you were doing, and came to the city where you guys both came to the city together, almost like a little bit of outsiders and not sure what what's happening.
Ran into, in some way, Many Homes and Many Homes recognized what Polyp was. Right? Also probably has some idea of what… cause I'm going to say that members of Même’s species have manifested across the world in the past. You're not completely unknown, but you're a curiosity in some way.
Richard: Okay. I like that.
Rich: And if, if the plants that are in this laboratory are “alien” in Descent to Midnight, it doesn't… they certainly could come from another planet in this physical dimension, but more than likely, they're probably things that somebody has gone out and pulled from some other physical dimension in the Echo and brought back, which means that there may be something, some connection that Many Homes has to Même’s people and understanding. So you would see, Oh God, this Même creature and Polyp 39 trying to like, I don't know what you guys were doing in the meantime, but running into them and going, what's happening? And then understanding that, “Oh wait. These polyps have consciousness. These polyps have sapience” and then you left that program to become a guardian to change. Maybe have some redemption for yourself, something like that.
Devon: Yeah. Figure out if… what, what that means ultimately. I'd say that to make it maximum sad and angsty, I think that it would make sense for Maybe not to be the one who blew the whistle because she was, I don't know, figuring something out or like was too slow to figure out what's going on because that would definitely make her more apt to blame herself ‘cause she didn't take action.
But yeah, I can imagine just everything going down and her being like, “I can't continue with this. I need to go find something else. I can use my skill somewhere else. ‘Cause this is obviously not for the benefit of society. So I am peacing out.”
Rich: Yes, I have got an idea that twists our own basic core game a bit: I don't think you guys are a group of guardians yet.
Rich: I think you have had this chain reaction of weird, terrible, interesting things happen to you right now, and you are only finding out about the history of Corruption that's being manipulated and weaponized and all of this stuff.
And you guys have not become a trained unit or a group yet. I think you guys are friends trying to survive and figure out what is happening to yourselves and what your place is in the world. How do you guys feel about that?
Richard: Works for me.
Devon: I've, I've thought of that.
Rich: Yeah. You're good with that? Get a lot of thumbs up from Kat, little quiet thumbs up from Kat.
Kat: Sorry. I know this is a podcast, but since it's the internet, that quiet thumbs up is how I tend to go. Sorry. No, that sounds great!
Rich: Well then, Devon, let's talk about Many Homes and answer one of those questions and then get onto DC who has been very quiet and patiently listening and watching us all-
Rich: -like the Traveler they are.
Devon: So let see these two? And you can choose which one you think would be more appropriate. “You used a rare/unusual object in your most powerful personal device. What was it? And who helped you acquire it?” or “You tend to the last surviving specimen of an organism? What is it? How did you acquire it and what happened to its habitat?”
I'd love to have Traveler help me have one of those ‘cause I feel like that's applicable to their character.
DC: I think that you could have one of the, the last species of the former jellyfish, that… we evolve over time in a way that it's kinda like in the matrix where they upgrade the agents.
And so I'm a part of the new agents and it's not like we're brand new. We've been around for a while, but there was a previous version species that is still alive and you have one of them.
Devon: I have like a Windows Vista.
Devon: Awesome. All right. My notes are not gonna make any sense. I'll just say I have a Windows Vista. Excellent.
DC: That'd be rad.
Devon: Why did you give it to me then? I feel like my character’s-
Rich: I'm not sure they did give it to you.
Devon: Oh did-
Rich: I'm wondering if it, if you rescued it from the lab.
Richard: Because if they're doing research about creatures that are popping into the physical world from other places in the echo like that 100% makes sense.
Rich: And also for those who are listening who don't know what an immortal jellyfish is: an immortal jellyfish is a creature that goes through its lifetime, and as its body starts to break down, will revert itself into a polyp form of itself. And then regrow again as if you hit 80 years old and decided, “I've had enough of this body. I'm just going to go ahead and just activate all my neonatal genes again and go back to being a baby and go again.”
They don't… the only way they die… they don't die of old age. The only way they die is by being eating. So this idea of this immortality aspect in addition to coming from out in the... It just sounds like somebody's going to want to know more about that.
Devon: Maybe some of those genes or whatever. That we're like engineered. Whoops. Almost ‘gineered. Engineered into Polyp 39.
Rich: Ooh, yup. That sounds likely.
Devon: But I would say that in that case, maybe I did rescue it and kept it in my garden and I went then to you for maybe like, “Oh, you're similar. Can you give me some information? I have no idea what this is and I don't know how to keep, what do I feed them?”
DC: I'm down with that.
Rich: Which raises the question, are they sapient or are they simply sentient, right? So do they just like feel emotions and have some cognitive abilities like “animals,” or are they sapient, like actual logical thinking beings. That's something to think about. We don't have to answer that right now.
Richard: One thing is, you know, if they do sort of revert back into that baby state, it could be that like they're helpless at the moment and small, and that's how you were able to sneak them out.
Devon: Hi, I stole this baby. I need you to tell me what they eat, please. (laughter) I can't. We are now, I am. We are now a parents to this very small jellyfish.
Richard: Oh, wow.
DC: That seems interesting enough for Traveler to be down.
Devon: Yeah. I mean that would also explain why you're hanging around this area too, to a certain extent. ‘Cause it's like,” Oh, there's someone who I have to keep an eye on.”
Rich: We know how these three are connected to each other now. How's Traveler fit into this puzzle piece?
DC: I've been thinking about that. So this is… this fits really well with Many Homes. “You've seen blank with an item from your Homeland. What is the item’s significance? Do they understand the significance?” I think that fits really well with Windows Vista.
Richard: Oh my gosh.
Devon: That's going to be the name of the jellyfish is Vista.
Rich: The baby's name is Vista.
Devon: The baby's name is Vista cause it works in multiple angles. Vista, Many Homes. It depends. I don't know who has custody. Technically-
DC: Co-parenting situation.
Devon: I'm writing Vista Many Homes. This is.
DC: Being that I have no surname, uh, no problems there.
Devon: Mr. Traveler. It's fine. We can, we can do, that's-
Rich: Vista Traveler. That's a great name.
Devon: We can also hyphenate for the-
DC: Traveler of many homes.
Rich: Vista Traveling Homes sounds like an RV company. I don't know. I love it. All right. So we have like an X-files-like conspiracy thing going on with this particular group that I'm pretty excited about. But let's talk about some of the bigger picture of the city that you guys take place in.
Like I said, the kind of default to start with is basically just an enormous reef metropolis. Species from all over the place, however many we end up wanting to create for ourselves, and you know, that live in the city that may not be part of this group. All congregate in this. It is an active ecology. It's an active economy. It's, it's a very big place that again, is technologically advanced in this case, bioengineering and psionics. So keep those things in mind when you're thinking about this.
So the first thing I want to do, we're going to talk about the city. I want you guys to think about a unique natural feature or neighborhood or district in the city.
Devon: Where do we want it to be? Because I feel like that's going to determine like everything.
Rich: What do you mean? Like where in the world? As far as like climate or-
Devon: No, as in like elevation.
Rich: It's funny you should mention that because that almost inevitably comes out as we're discussing things.
Devon: Oh okay, nevermind.
Rich: So people- so no, that's okay. It's a great question to think, and you can think about it ahead of time, but people will say things that make you eventually realize that it's in a trench or eventually realize it's right near the surface or eventually realize it's not a reef and it's actually a mangrove swamp and you're living in the roots. That happened one time.
So as the questions get answered, though, with people's interest, and I think we'll have an idea, but if you have a preference, you can throw that out. What do you think?
Devon: I like the idea of it being in the middle of the ocean and I mean in the middle, elevation wise as well as in “we don't have a top or a bottom, we don't have up or down. We have something that exists in the center.” So like, you know how you can get like a cork to bob in the middle of a tank of water?
Richard: Yeah, yeah. Neutral buoyancy.
Devon: Neutral buoyancy. That's what we are.
Rich: So you're thinking something, this city is somehow almost like a submerged floating self-contained island of some sort.
Devon: I think that would be cool. ‘Cause I feel like, I mean I've already done deep ocean. That's why I'm skirting away from that personally. Although if you guys want to do, that's totally cool. And I also-
Rich: I’m fascinated by this idea.
Devon: Yeah, I'm like DC mentioned space and I think floating with no horizon is…
Rich: And Kat mentioned her, the horror at the agoraphobia and claustrophobia.
Devon: Sorry, Kat.
Kat: No, that's why I'm here, man. You know? That's the… bring on those ocean fields.
Richard: Kim from the Magpies, I think has just got a fish recently, and apparently beta fish will do this thing where they make like frothy bubble things like when they're healthy and they're ready to mate or whatever. But I think it would be really interesting if there was some sort of almost like a honeycomb structure from some huge creature that we don't know what forms them. But there are several of these throughout the world that we know about where it's just like, there was like a base structure of this sort organic bubble honeycomb thing. That's something obviously created, and then other things have come and latched onto it.
Rich: So it's an idea of like a coral reef, right? ‘Cause a coral reef is built off of the bones of coral polyp. Some kind of ancient creature built this thing and is no longer there. But it is a massive structure that floats, that other creatures have colonized over a thousand years and built a society.
Richard: And I think different… like if you go to the different versions of this around the world, depending on how old they are, the deeper they are, because as more creatures are coming and glom onto it, it slowly starts to sink. Unless you take steps to raise them up. And so, there's a very real sort of physical tension of like where, you know, what depth do we want this thing to be at and how do we maintain that and does it sink? Does it float? How do we maintain that as a society?
Rich: I also love the idea of it not just being living on the surface, like this is massive, like a floating piece of this coral cave structure, the size of a city. But it's all inside as well, like inside and outside.
Devon: You could live in an air bubble.
Kat: May I? Yeah, could I have a suggestion?
Rich: Yeah, of course you can. Yeah.
Kat: What about like Marimo moss balls?
Rich: So, say that again.
Kat: Marimo moss balls.
Rich: I don't know what that is. I need, I need to know.
Kat: It's a ball of moss and it's, um, it's a moss ball friend, and they go up or down in the water, depending on the construction of gases within them. So if you wanted them to be at a specific thing, you'd have to like carefully tend to them, but they're like a little ecosystem of moss that's living in fine.
Richard: That is so cool.
Devon: Look up. Look them up. They're really cute.
Kat: They're very cool. Yeah. People keep them as pets. But they naturally, like they're in streams because they are… like the soft rolling action keeps them as balls and they can get huge.
Rich: Oh, all of that.
Kat: Ah, yeah. They're very cool.
Richard: That's so cool.
Rich: I've never heard of that in my life.
Devon: I love that, and I think that maybe it's a two pronged action to keep the city from Descending into Midnight.
Rich: I love it. And now that we've set this up, it implies quite a few things. So, the implication that there needs to be an engineering structure, like an actual infrastructure in place to create ballast areas to keep it floating where people want it to go. Does it move somewhere or does it stay where it is?
Like is there something to propel it to move it from place to place? There are other... Is it continually growing if it's a living moss ball style thing, or is it something that, like we were saying before, was maybe created like a coral reef and is only has that amount of size? Or is it something that they can, that cultivators can grow larger as the population increases?
What do you guys think about all those questions?
DC: We can grow it.
Richard: All right.
DC: It becomes what we need it to be.
Rich: So cultivators would be, are going to be very important. It also, I had this image like when Devon, earlier you were saying that this research facility that you were working with was in the “center” of the city. I'm picturing it at close to the heart of whatever this,moss ball is maybe for a reason.
Maybe there is something at the center of this that allows them to cross boundaries between the actual echo and the physical world, which is not a thing that happens normally very much. They can affect each other. The physical world can affect the echo. The echo can influence the physical world. But physically crossing the boundary into the echo is not usually a thing.
Devon: Yeah. I also imagine that the strange plants that are my home showed up, like they didn't... they weren't always part of our city's cultural heritage. It's something that happened like five... like a hundred years ago. So it's still part of our culture to a certain extent, but it's not recent memory.
Does that make sense?
Devon: It's like, we still have stories of this just showing up and we're still like-
Rich: They’re not indigenous. We know they're not indigenous, but they've kind of started to become incorporated.
Devon: Yeah. And they somehow interact with the Marimo moss stuff that keeps us afloat, but we just know that there's some connection there, and that was something that maybe was where the laboratory started with studying that.
Richard: Interesting. What if we were at risk of a breach, where there was some crisis and then they showed up suddenly, and it sort of calmed things down and so that's why people didn't just freak out about them, but they're seen as… they showed up and they kept us from floating to the surface, which would have been bad for a bunch of people or whatever, but-
Rich: Or sinking.
Richard: Yeah, I mean, either way.
Devon: Yeah. It's like there's a split… You know, it's like blobfish: they have to be at a specific depth. I imagine also the way they look in my head is… maybe all of the plants here have a very specific structure. Like there's always three leaves or something where this one has five, and even molecularly, it's kind of strange.
And I imagine them reflecting that’ cause it's what if plants that showed up here, their whatever they use to photosynthesize was purple.
Rich: Ah, interesting. Okay. I'm fascinated by all of this.
Devon: Something strange that would we look at and go, Oh, that's not right. That's alien.
Richard: Well, I know if you look at the math of things in nature, there's these numbers that keep showing up like the Fibonacci sequence or whatever.
Devon: Like phi.
Richard: Yeah, all those guys. Things where it's like... maybe it's just that the number… that it's just, you know, it's just a little off.
Rich: Well in the Blue Planet role playing game that I've talked about a lot, one of the things that the creators did when they were developing the actual ecology and biology of this planet is looked at the idea that complex eyes like we have and octopus's and fish... that's actually a pretty bizarre way to have developed an an an eye. And on this planet, even though there are complex organisms, like, you know, monkey analogs and things like that, the idea of a complex eye never evolved.
So every animal on that planet has just eyespots. So you might see something like this, they call them stick jacks or something. They're kind of like a monkey analog and you're like, “Oh, look, a monkey.” And then it turns around, it literally has no eyeballs and it's just got spots all over its face where its eyes should be.
And it just, the basic idea of that is horrifying because as humans, we are used to looking things in the eyes and understanding what eyes are. Eyes are the window to the soul, and so it's this thing that's just just left of okay. For you, that kind of makes it feel alien.
Devon: Maybe these plants have eyes.
Kat: That make sense? Yeah. Like, no eyes makes sense for a lot of, I don't know... thinking of an aquatic planet to me usually puts me in mind of Europa. So I'm like, okay, things normally wouldn't have eyes, right? There's no reason.
Rich: Yyeah, it's possible
Devon: There's no, there's no light to catch. There's no light to see with. So.
Rich: On Europa, that would be the case. ‘Cause the ice layer’s like a mile thick. So there's not really, unless it's bioluminescence down there or something else that's happening, which could happen, but we don't know yet. So, but that's a whole, don't get me started on Europa.
Devon: I really, yeah...
Rich: I am absolutely fascinated by the city. Okay. So now we've got a pretty solid base. So let's talk about the actual culture that lives there a little bit. So DC, we haven't heard from you in a bit.
Rich: Tell me about some kind of natural feature, some kind of like neighborhood or a district of some sort that's important or significant or sticks out to you in some way about the city.
Doesn't have to be every district. You don't have to just describe in detail, but just like a neighborhood, a space, a thing that we can glob onto.
DC: Yeah. I think that there's a space that is a place where people go to commune with the Echo, and it's easier to do there, the equivalent of a holy space in this world, but highly transparent on a psychic level there. So like, people can communicate with each other really easily, like on levels where you feel people's emotions as well as their words or like even small bits of imagery.
But the point is to go there and focus on communing with the Echo,
Rich: And, and communing with each other, it sounds like, as well.
DC: It's an option. People go there to do that as well.
Rich: Nice. Kat throw in... building on that with DC said, tell me what this space looks like a little bit. How is this in an advanced, technologically advanced city? What does a space inside this moss ball that is meant to be a space of communion or some type of religious or theological space?
What does that, what does that look like? Let me see. One aspect of it.
Kat: I think it's probably one of the few places in the city that allow individual space. I think that largely the city is a little bit cramped, but this recognizes that personal body space is useful when you're trying to either detach or internalize whatever the mechanism is, when, when you're connecting to the-
Rich: So does it have like little alcoves? Little separate spaces for people to enter into like little...
Kat: Well, that depends on how big the average inhabitant is. ‘Cause I don't know if we have anybody that's like whale-sized. ‘Cause if we have a whale-sized person then they might just need to sit in like a Coliseum-size space.
Rich: Then let's actually sit with that for a minute. So my picture that I have right now is three out of the four of you are, even though there may be multiple members of your species in the city, you're fairly unique. But Many Homes, it sounds to me like because of the aspects of this city, you might be, your species might be one of the major species that are in this city. But in addition to that I want to hear about, let's talk, take a second to talk about a Sapient species that's not any of you. That also lives in the city.
Devon: A whale.
Rich: So you do want to do something that's larger and whale-sized?
Richard: But a particular whale.
DC: Wich are the ones that have like the... it looks like they have a line of teeth. It's really just like-
Kat: Like a sieve?
Rich: Yeah. Baleen, it's called.
Devon: Yeah, so that's one of the filter feed whales. My first instinct was a beluga ‘cause of the song-
Rich: Baby beluga, yeah.
Devon: But I think a baleen whale would be interesting as well.
Rich: But you can, you can also do a beluga… like a beluga is a toothed whale, but you can also do a beluga-sized whale creature that has the baleen filters that DC's talking about.
Devon: Yeah, because that way it's not like ridiculously large, but they do have the baleen or it's just like a smaller baleen whale. I think would be cute. I also really liked the idea of a larger animal being a home for smaller animals, so maybe they're the equivalent of cruise ships.
Rich: That gets us into a different question too, but I like it. So is this going to be one of the sapient creatures that live here or is it going to be a non-sapient creature that is part of the ecology or acts as part of the infrastructure as far as transport.
Devon: I think someone else should answer that.
Rich: So it's Sapient and it acts as either a purposeful or inadvertent piece of transport.
Richard: What if there were tunnels throughout the ball? They get to the different chambers and the flow through those brings plankton or whatever or bits of whatever float through there. And then like literally... that's just how they eat is they just like move through those things because that's where the concentration of all the plankton and everything is in the flow from the big chamber is into those tubes. And so it's literally like if you just like opened up your mouth and like swam through a straw of delicious, delicious food.
Devon: They're like street sweepers except they eat what they're sweeping!
Rich: I'm actually thinking like when you have this many, this many creatures in an area that's going to be contained, right? You're going to have waste products, you're going to have garbage, all kind of stuff. There may be microscopic organisms or maybe even like plankton, like not necessarily microscopic that's consuming all that stuff, right?
And giving these blooms, which is actually part of the cycle, and then having these filter feeders going through, and that's what brings them there. Right? But again, the question, are they sapient and part of the culture in ecology, or are they just sentient?
Richard: I feel like they might be. I'm now picturing like a radially symmetrical whale with baleen things. So it’s sort of like a chimney sweep brush or the fronds just sort of like come out in this poof in front of it, and instead of growing bigger around, they grow longer.
Rich: Yeah. It's sounding like this is a creature that's part of the ecology that's not necessarily sapient. Like it has a specific part to play in the ecology, but not necessarily, you're not going to see one of them doing accounting, right? Or, you know, heading a bunch of people that are transporting materials to another city, and having glasses on its face.
It sounds like what you're describing is something that's a brilliant... which is going to be a different question: another aspect of the city is basic ecology.
Richard: You know, you mentioned accountants. What about a wall of bivalve accountants and that's what they do. So there's the little mollusks or the clams and mussels and everything. And they hang out and instead of hanging out on a trading floor for a stock market, it's literally just a chamber just covered all the way around.
Rich: I'm picturing Gringotts but instead of goblins, it's bivalves all over the place.
DC: Actually, that gives me an idea of a... because Même is a collection, that maybe there is a sort of brain that you can hook up to that it's like... you enter in as a part of like a computation. So it's both a place where people can gain information and are also, uh, the psychic properties of it make it so that it's using yourself as a part of its computing process.
Richard: Oh, solike the, what is it? The SETI search or whatever. Where you plug your computer in and you use the spare cycles to process data to look for intelligent life. It's almost like that. But you plug into it and the part of your brain that is active is going and getting information and accessing things, but then the collective power of everyone who's connected to it is the thing that's helping do all that thinking?
DC: Yeah, exactly.
Richard: Oh, Whoa, okay.
Devon: So it's the internet.
Richard: Yeah. And-
Devon: Kind of.
Rich: And that brings me back. We were talking earlier about Devon's bioelectric mainframe. So how is that fit into this situation? We kind of went off the previous subject, but I want to hang out here for a minute. With this-
Devon: Maybe there are interlocked stations and it's basically if you go mentally plug into them it's like a plugging in through an internet cable or something.
Rich: You took Hack the World as one of your things, right Richard? It's about how to get past defenses, but it's not just a physical place’s defenses. It could also be computer defenses, right? A bioelectric mainframe. So-
Devon: Yeah. So we have the equivalent of like internet cafes and he can hack the internet cafes.
Rich: And we have... so we're having X-Files mixed with hackers is kind of what's going on.
Richard: Okay. So we've got the idea of the baleen whale chimney sweep type deals. We've got maybe these bivalve accountant-ey things. And are they maybe the, oh my goodness, are they maybe the sapient creatures who do a lot of that? Are they managing the connection spots?
Rich: Yes. What I like to have with the other sapiens species is a culture that does lots of different things as opposed to a single identity. I always want to try to avoid the “all elves are like X”. Or “all dwarves are like X” situation. I want to see what an active multi-... like this metropolis is filled with species that we can really latch onto and understand that they are all different, even though they might, we think they look the same and try and get out of that stereotype.
So I like the bivalve idea, but as again, another non-sapient computer program. It's how the computers work. I love that.And they can be living, but I think they're bio engineered as opposed to another people that lives there.
DC: Makes sense to me.
Devon: Do we want to talk about, then, our characters’ species, if there's a context to that so that there's possibly a baseline to start?
Rich: One of the questions that I like to ask, and we'll get back to what I planted with Devon earlier, was I want to know about your... in your species, what is a unique cultural event, time, behavior that has to do with your species specifically. What is something that is uniquely yours?
What are you... what does your species do that's like an interesting thing that's unique to your species or culture?
Devon: I don't think it's necessarily species, but it's definitely the culture. And I don't know if it's the culture in every city that these people inhabit, but I think very specifically in this city, the culture around... and I'm just gonna call them Hermes cause like that. It's stuck in my head.
Devon: The Hermes very specifically have a culture around excellence and specification. It’s their core identity, which doesn't mean that everyone fits into it, but it means that your parents or multiple parents or like, your thirty parents... I don't know. I don't know how it works for them, but, all are like “we’re... demanding very specific things out of you because that's the cultural expectation.”
And I think what it is is, as I said, excellence in specification. And by that I mean you choose what you're... what you do and you are very good at it. There aren't many Jack of all trades. With Hermes, usually it's like, “Oh, you are very good at this.” And it's usually encouraged that you are... you do everything you can to make sure you are the best at it.
Like you are doing very, very good at it and you are made for it. So for example, I was thinking that the Hermes species are encouraged... like modification. So they don't actually look like hermit crabs. They look like hermit crabs out of the shell, which look like face-huggers. Don't look it up.
It's gross. It's very uncomfortable. But like, that's what they usually look like, or to a certain extent and with a lot less arms and a lot less eyes. And so for example, Maybe took this whole thing to a very extreme way, and it was like, “I'm going to be a cultivator in every single way and I'm going to make myself armor, and I am going to make my garden come with me, and I'm going to give myself more arms so that I'm better at X and I'm going to be better at…”
Rich: So that’s what Many Homes did for themselves?
Devon: Yeah. Yeah. She wants to be the best at this.
Rich: But other Hermes specialize in different ways? They have a solid base form, but they-
DC: You're all cyborgs.
Devon: They make themselves be the perfect form for what they want to do. And that's encouraged.
Richard: I love the idea that they can change that. Whatever it is, they can modify themselves at any point and be like, “Oh,” this is like... if they come to a new realization about who they are or what they want to be, that they can continue to change.
Rich: I actually want to go the opposite direction. I want to say like they've..., you get to choose whatever you want. And then you're done. That's what you do. So that if, for example, Many Homes decides not to do this engineering thing, but it tries-
Devon: It would be really hard.
Rich: -to apply it in a different direction, it could be… it has social consequences for her.
So if she's... she, “I still have to work at this place…”
Devon: I don't think it's unheard of.
Rich: Yes. It's probably not unheard of. I see that, but I think I want some roleplaying consequence to the decision you might need to make about the choices of friends you're making.
Kat: It's like a cultural family thing.
Devon: Yeah. I think that like it's, it's one of those things where it's reinforced by not only the culture that, or the species, that participates in it, but also the cultural expectation of the other species that exist around it. It's like, “Oh, these people tend to do this” and therefore there's an expectation not to switch or change.
But I would say that I don't think it's unheard of. It's just very hard and you don't... it doesn't always socially work out very well for you. Because you're going against this kind of thing that you have chosen and... it could work out. And I would say that I think they get to choose. Like it's not... you're not usually pressured into anything where it comes to choosing.
Rich: I agree with that, too.
Devon: So a lot of people are very happy in it, but I definitely think there's some people who don't, who changed their minds.
Rich: Maybe you were happy with it and then you met Polyp 39 and everybody's lives changed.
Devon: Yeah. I don't know where Maybe is ‘cause there's a lot of stigma now around what they are, so I don't know. We’ll figure it out.
Rich: Awesome. Let's figure that out more in play as well. DC, let's talk about Traveler. So you've talked a little bit about Traveler being... the species manifests itself out of the echo and there is a specialty. So there seems to be a theme here. There's a specialty that each of the species members do, whatever that happens to be.
And Traveler’s seems to be collecting knowledge maybe. Is that how you would describe it, or experiences?
DC: Collecting experiences. Yeah. Like it's sort of mystified in a way. Like they know what they're... what they want to do, but they don't know exactly what their purpose is. And that's a... that's a normality. It's like “I'm here and I obviously... I'm going to go and have a bunch of experiences,” but the product of those experiences could be anything, like the actual purpose that the echo was sent forward.
Rich: It's almost exactly the opposite of what Many Homes is, right? You think you're supposed to be specialized, like you were saying, someone showed up and said “I'm here to take care of children.” Oh, okay, well we know what you're supposed to be doing and you're happy with that and good with that.
You showed up and went, “I'm supposed to do everything,” Jack of all trades. What am I supposed to do? Like there's gotta be a reason for it, but I don't know what it is.
DC: Right. But it's something that's normal and comfortable. It's like, I have a desire to do this thing and that's kind of their starting place. And it's sort of like a cosmic reasoning. Things that I do here are definitely for a reason. I don't know what necessarily those reasons are, and some people are fortunate enough to know that at some point. Uh, but-
Rich: Right. So give me something that's, that's a unique cultural trait or tradition or habit of your people. ‘Cause there are... the species is in the city and prominent and active in ways. So tell me something that is a connection with your people in some way. What you, how you would connect with another member of your species in some way?
DC: I think that we go to that place. Did we name it?
Rich: We did not actually. You're talking about the communal place that, Kat was describing with the individual bodies, but communal.
Richard: The first thing that came to my mind was Echo Chamber, and I just-
Rich: Let’s do it.
Richard: It's bad though. I'm like, I don't want to go there, but…
Rich: It’s fine with me.
DC: No, that's great.
Devon: How about Speak and Receive?
Richard: Like a speakeasy.,
Devon: Yeah, that's what I was... but Speak and Receive.
Rich: Now I have speakeasy in my head.
Devon: That's what I was trying to work away from. That was the first thing that came in my head too, and I was like, no, it's something...
Rich: Well, we came back to it, I think. All right. We're going to call it a Speakeasy for now, and then we'll see how that goes. So that's where your people will gather.
DC: That's where we manifest as well.
Kat: Aah, I love that. That’s cool!
Rich: Oh, you manifest there. Okay.
DC: Yeah. So that's where we go back to.
Richard: That's cool.
DC: Well, that's where... one of our people will know when another one's going to show up. And so it's like, “Oh, another one is coming.” And then one will just pop into existence, like come out of a wall or something.
DC: And they'll be like, “Oh, um, I'm here to,” and then say a thing.
Devon: Does Traveler’s species then have any kind of family structure or is it just like mentors?
DC: They don't have.. they're related in the way that they all have the same thing going on, but they don't really consider themselves family.
Kat: I have two questions. One, where in your life cycle are you, and are others in the same place when they come in? Are they at different places? That's the first question, and then the other one's very different.
DC: People can be anywhere in their life cycles. They could be... they show up and they're like, “I'm 3000 years old” and they're a teenager in their cycle or whatever. Or they can be like “I was just born,” but that doesn't seem to have a difference in their purpose or they're not treated any differently.
Kat: Yeah. How it affects them.
Rich: So their physical manifestation is not necessarily... I have so many questions.
DC: Because they're not... also not bound by time. So they can be like... you could do a biological scan on them and they can be 3,026 years old, but they could have just started existing here. And it also doesn't mean that they existed previously in another space. They could actually be brand new. This could be their first physical form and still have a particular age because time is relative.
Richard: That's so cool.
Devon: I love that so much. I love timey-wimey.
Rich: Kat, what's your second question?
Kat: Well, my second question is: what's people's attitude about them here? Because to me it sounds like, especially if people, if other travelers know when the travelers are going to show up here, it seems like they would have either a cult following or a religious following or some, you know, like it seems like people here would be gaga for them unless that's just ubiquitously what this place is like. So I'm like,”Oh, how? How? What do people think about travelers?”
DC: I think that it's actually pretty spread across the board, that some people are like, “Oh, they're so amazing.” And not all of them are travelers. Some of them have different stuff that they do when they arrive.
Kat: Sure, okay.
DC: They say what they do, so they're like, “I'm here to be a part of the government,” or like “I'm here to be a part of the computer.” Whatever it happens to be.
Rich: Alright. Polyp 39 this will be an interesting question for you. Some type of unique… something that's unique to the culture. Something unique that happens or happened with your bond with other members of your species, even though you're engineered.
Kat: So I don't..., I think a lot of us died. Right?
Kat: Well, so I think the way... the way we are constructed to fight people was through a combination of poison and then projecting... like taking over minds.
Rich: Like reprogramming people's consciousnesses? Okay.
DC: Oh shit.
Kat: Yeah. So I think probably the way I and others were fighting back at the time was doing the opposite of that, right? Abusing that, that link back and probably getting an influx of information like overloaded a lot of them.
Rich: Okay. Do you have any concept or idea of how many of your people there are left?
Kat: I'm not sure that I really do because I probably only… and I bet that's not the only thing that killed them, right? I bet also a bunch were just shut down by whoever ran this, right? I bet either via kill switch or via whatever the Corruption actually is. I don't know.
Rich: I'll put it to you this way. Since you were freed by Même have you ever seen another member of your constructed species?
Kat: I think so because I think that I only really had connection to the ones that I was sent on whatever, however many missions I've been on, right? And those are the ones that I know about. And I think that I know that vaguely there were more than that because I have birth adjacent memories, right? Like being in a garden. But there are at least a dozen that survived and are within the city doing things, but are either too traumatized or aren't... or people, you know, like, or whatever, aren't interested in living, an actively fighting back against the thing lifestyle anymore.
Rich: So is this program shut down? Are these like vets now that are trying to fit themselves into the city?
Kat: Yes, very much so.
Rich: Did this all happen because of Même?
Kat: Um, I think it’s-
Rich: Did Même start a chain reaction of independence?
Kat: Yeah, I think Même gave us the tools to do that. So Même gave me that and then I would have been able to link that out to the others and then we were able to start forming a thing.
Richard: I wonder… we said that there was not a current crop of guardians or we are not guardians ourselves yet. What if, I mean, just throwing this out there, but what if the last guardians of the city were there and were part of that and that's why there are currently no guardians, is because...
Rich: Or there used to be guardians. The guardians were either... something happened to the historical guardians. And then this program was started up as a way to try to protect the city.
Richard: I like that.
Devon: But if you're protecting the city, what are you protecting the city from? Usually there's a threat that begins that.
Rich: Well? Well, yes, absolutely. That's part of it. And also some people may be like, “Oh no, we're protecting the city and we're going to protect the city by taking over other cities.”
Rich: And we're gonna, you know what I mean? Like somebody did some things they maybe shouldn't have and maybe it's not public knowledge.
DC: Wait, this lines up, because we had this massive super spy army and then it falls apart. And so everyone who got effed over by that is pissed at us. And now we don't have that army anymore. And so. People are like, well, we're not going to remake that cause that was really bad for all the people involved. Let's bring back the guardians.
Kat: That makes-
Devon: That's a bad decision. We're moving on.
Rich: We're shutting down the Jason Bourne project.
Devon: Yeah. I was going to make a joke about Polyp 007.
Rich: Polyp oh seven.
Devon: But I couldn’t figure out where to put it in.
Kat: That makes a lot of sense to me. Especially ‘cause I was figuring that we were, that like there's definitely alien material spliced into us, but it's not like that's all that we are. We are definitely made off of partially a life form that is very common and ubiquitous so that we partially fit in. Right? So like...
Rich: Okay. I think there's our other sapient species for the city.
Richard: Oh my gosh.
Kat: That’s what I was thinking. So like if, if I'm like a caster flower, it's like a carnation. It's just like a happy thing. So if I'm the blue ring octopus it's like a dumbo octopus. It's a happy, cute little one..
Richard: I love that.
Rich: I think that's our other sapient species. I think that, along with the Hermes, are actually the main species that are here in this community. And I think that you fit in, almost like a... so you fit in until you don't. You're fitting in and then suddenly like you Hulk out or whatever your equivalent is and blue rings start showing up on you and you rage out or I see you rage, like getting like almost like a monk might rage.
You get super focused and you're very focused-
Kat: Super focused.
Rich: -and “I now see every weakness and everybody that's around me like a heads up display and I'm going to take you, I'm going to end you all. And I don't want to, but that's where I'm at and I have to try and pull that back.” But you can live amongst everyone else, but you have to... almost like you're a secret weapon. You're a mutant. Yeah. I love this idea. Okay.
Kat: Yeah. I think that generally they're happy, do a ton of jobs and have the average color changing properties of cute little dopey dumbo octopus people.
Rich: I love this. So then let me twist the question a little bit. So you have a dozen people across this whole metropolis that you know were part of this program with you that you may or may not connect with. We can get into that.
So let's talk about the species you came from that were modified. So the basic species. What is a, what is a cultural commonality or a cultural event or like a religious holiday? Something about that culture that you personally may or may not participate in, but that is something that people know about in the city.
Kat: Yes. I think that they're real status obsessed, and I don't know what our way of getting it is yet. I don't know if we're, I don't really want to be capitalist. You know, I don't like... no, thank you, but, whatever it is, they're really... that's the thing they've bought into, and they've bought into it hard in an embarrassing ways. So that's the cultural driver, is some sort of status.
Kat: It can even change, you know.
Rich: Well, let's think of... we've gotten some vague.. I mean, status obsessed is kind of cool. Let's talk about something specific. Like there is a certain time of the week, certain day of the week that they do X or a certain food that they eat, a certain type of cultural idea that they share and celebrate.
So something that's specific to kind of build this out and make this feel like a living culture.
Richard: Talking about the status thing. I imagine because the shape of the city is literally a sphere, I would imagine that your position within it could be really like... literally you are at the center. Yeah. Where it's a very natural progression of-
Rich: Outside versus inside? So outside might be less status, more central is more status.
Richard: That would be sort of my initial thought. Yeah. It's ‘cause you're more protected and you're closer to, if there's governmental stuff going on, that's probably where things are happening and-
Devon: So wait, no, this makes sense. Because what if it was a cultural upset when the, strange alien life, plants showed up because it all of a sudden was like, Oh, we need to pull in people that their status are immediately elevated by bringing them into the center. And therefore people are like, why is their status being upset?
And it's because it was to study them and because their status was elevated artificially, they gained more pull in the community. And that's why this weird, killer, bad corruption influenced like army was created because of these people all of a sudden put in a position of influence, and given influence, even though they were like, “Oh, I don't know what to do with this, and these are my ideas” and were not used to having this level of influence.
Rich: Can other people elaborate on that? ‘Cause I'm having a hard time following that. So the idea that they’re status obsessed being outside is less protected. Being inside is more protected. So that was my first thought. That the central area, if you live or work or move there, that's where the central hub of everything is and the status is more important there. And then these, these plants had shown up-
Richard: In the center.
Rich: -hundreds of years ago at the center of this creature to help alleviate an actual almost natural disaster. We were saying, right? Like something was going to happen with this moss, and then these strange plants showed up and some quality of them seemed to maybe feed into the ballast to help the thing rise back up again that was falling, but we don't know where they came from or that kind of thing.
Kat: Right. So then the idea is that people who wouldn't normally have lived near the center, so like scientists and other things from the outside, were moved more centrally inside. So then they're like, “no, this is a huge status upset” and people-
Rich: So like the aristocracy equivalent, it was with central and then with Devon, you were saying like these plants showed up and now people who would not have been like the middle-class, suddenly some members of the middle class and the researchers and stuff.
Devon: Yeah. So I imagine like to a certain extent, culturally it was like very positive, but it put someone who was Maybe’s mentor, put them in a position where they shouldn't have been. But then it put what I’m guessing is also, like, put the equivalent of middle-class people in a position where they could maybe equalize some of the status issues, but also elevated someone who started this horrible artificial army. Yeah. So we could be also going through, we could also be going through a period of social reform. Ya!.
DC: Im’ about it.
Rich: I like it. I like that as well, and somebody is not going to like that probably.
Devon: And we're people connected to this period of social reform. So.
DC: This is just a Traveler thing. I think that the Traveler has been out in the world for a lot of stuff, and then this stuff started coming down around the time that traveler came back to check on baby and all this stuff started going on, and so it was like, “Oh, this is... This is big experience.” Like the echo is like making waves and it's the time to be here right now.
Richard: Oh, I love that.
Rich: You're almost like a harbinger, it sounds like.
Devon: Oh, I have a question. So because we have status where things are, where is the echo chamber / speakeasy.
Rich: Oh, as far as inner and outer status layers?
Devon: Because that can totally change like the cultural concept and viewpoint on the on traveler species.
DC: I have an idea about that,
DC: There are levels to it. So at the top there's this big glowing light. And that's where the travelers are born from. And that's why people are like, “Oh, well, you can assume any status that you want.” And for the, the aristocrats, it's like, “well, we have to honor it.” And they're not like, we don't really do, we don't F with stuff really. We're just kind of there making small impressions because that's how, the impact of the universe is small things are what really matters. So nobody really... they're like, okay, well I guess you're a part of parliament or whatever.
Devon: They don't make any big waves and therefore it's like, oh, we'll give you a pass. Because you're not overthrowing, you're not busy overthrowing the fishy-archy. Yet.
DC: Right. But there are these levels. It's accessible to everyone, but you come in at a different level, and so there are enough spaces for you at a particular level that going up higher is, it's not illegal, but it's culturally weird. It's like, Oh, you're not... Because the higher up, they see this... it's the only place where high and low kind of exist.
Devon: So it's like here in the center is where the laboratory is now. And then there's a perfect line through it. And it's this column of the... that's really cool. It's like an elevator.
Rich: The Echo chamber goes right through the center of the whole thing.
Kat: That’s rad.
Devon: It's, maybe the echo chamber is open to the ocean on the top and the bottom.
Rich: I like that idea.
Richard: Yeah, that'd be really interesting. And it filters light down or something. I imagine almost like crystal or really reflective surfaces that sort of reflect the light back and forth and just down this whole shaft all the way through the ball. And then-
DC: It looks like kind of shiny and iridescent at the same time.
Devon: Like the inside of 'em shells when you crack them open the nacre.
Rich: Yeah, I like that. I'm-
Devon: It's covered in nacre.
DC: That’s how we get light throughout the entire place.
Rich: I'm also feeling like the central chamber had a different purpose before these plants showed up.
Kat: I know what it is, aside from... so I think that this species, the like blobby one, I think that they partially adjust their diet. Like, they eat things, but then they also grow some of the moss on them to supplement their diet and like partially photosynthesize so they have to go into the chamber to get light to keep their processes going.
Devon: So they get light on the commune with the echo, and maybe it's considered a religious experience, but there was, there's a practical element to it.
Rich: And so I'm sorry, who? Who, who grows the moss? I missed the big first part.
Kat: I figured the-
Rich: The dumbo people?
Kat: Yeah, that's what I figured.
Rich: Yeah. No, I love it. And then these plants showed up and it's still that, but now there's some growths and things that are in there that actually almost seemed to charge or save the city in some way. Okay. All right. I'm in, and then we have a few minutes left. Normally we'd be talking about the Corruption, but I have some ideas about the Corruption and what had happened with it, and so I think we're going to do a little different when we do start our first session.
I'm going to be asking about some of the Corruption as we go, since we've already established how some of it has been manipulated and used in the past, and there's a mystery around that, so we're going to hold on to that. There's also an aspect of the sanctuary, which is a place where the guardians live together and work from together.
But as you're not guardians quite yet, I have some ideas about how we can introduce that down the line as well. But before we go and wrap up, I want to talk about the Specialist here with Même. Même, you have a squid body. You, just like Traveler, have manifested somehow out of the Echo. This is a very common theme in this particular game for some reason.
So what is it with your species in general and members of your species that are as part of the culture in the city, like part of the community? How are you part of the community as a species?
Richard: I'm imagining like this is the thing where if you get pooped on by a pigeon and it's supposed to be good luck or whatever, right?
Rich: This is going in a weird direction, but yes, I'm in.
Richard: Okay. But the idea of... for Même, their species is sort of hanging out just at the edge of the physical world from the echo. So I imagine that they will pop over into the physical world and generally the first thing that they touch is sort of the form that they take on. And I think it can be, it's one of those things where it's considered lucky to be like, “Oh, Hey, like I got chosen by one of them and they have taken on my form,” you know? And they're not going to look exactly like you, so it's not like you're being copied and there's a doppelganger or anything, but it's just-
Rich: Like the pod people-
Richard: Yeah. But they'll come in and I feel like there's a, maybe a celebration or something that happens where people just know that it's a random thing that can happen.
Rich: So I have something I want to throw out to you. You had mentioned a squid body, but we haven't talked much about a squid species, but we do have the dumbo species, and you did run into and touch Polyp 39 so do you think your body is actually similar to the generic, the general species of these dumbo creatures, but you also have some of this strange genetic DNA that's been in Polyp 39 in some way?
Richard: Well, let, let me ask you, Kat, would you be okay with Même essentially looking like one of the polyps?
Kat: I'm totally okay with that.
Richard: Okay, so, yeah, I think maybe that was… maybe Polyp 39 was literally the first person that Même encountered.
Rich: And maybe you are often drawn to sapient creatures, right? But you were like, “Oh, this is one of the two main species on this world. I will touch this. Oh, wait, what is that? That's not quite right. Something's not right.” Right? You showed up and you tried to duplicate the Hulk and you're like, “wait, you are human, but not quite, wait, what's happening?”
Richard: Yeah, yeah.
Rich: Okay, cool. All right. That could lead to some interesting...
Richard: Oh, and just a total random one. I feel like there's also a tradition of braiding the sea grasses and the mosses that are on the outside of the ball and the idea that to celebrate a birth or a death or something, you would traditionally go out there and braid something in their honor. And there's all these traditions around like the knot patterns and how you do all that.
Rich: So going for funerals, services are outside the ball. And on the outside edge is almost like a memoriam along, and the... maybe the bodies are released to the openness of the sea. But you have a place you can go to, and instead of having a tombstone, you have this special knot thing. Oh man, that sounds rad.
Devon: Or your knot, the one that was braided when you came into existence is removed. It's undone. So the next person who comes in can have some of whatever that is.
Richard: Oh, that's interesting.
Rich: So the Hermes and the dumbos, ‘cause I have no other word for them. When they're born, there's one, there's a celebration of it being braided. And when they pass, there's a celebration of it being undone until they come back through a cycle or whenever-
Devon: Yeah. I think that also is a very good way of symbolizing a kind of culture's idea of like the idea of a circle, you know, a cycle.
Rich: A cycle of life. I love that. That's, that's really cool. What do you guys think about that? DC and Kat.
DC: That's pretty cool.
Kat: It’s lovely.
Rich: All right, so we have once again, a fascinating city, a set of cultures, species, and we, I can't wait to see what happens next with the mystery of our corruption and what is going on with Polyp 39.
I can't wait. And baby! We gotta get baby in there.
Excellent. So as we wrap up this character creation episode zero, why don't we go back around and remind people who you are and where they can find you out in the world? I'll start.
I'm Rich Howard. You can find myself and Richard Kreutz-Landry and Taylor at DIMRPG on Twitter. That's at DIMRPG or descentintomidnight.com you can go and get the play test packet and you can play this for yourself.
Devon: My name is Devon George. You can find me at my website, devongeorgestudios.com. You can also find me on Twitter and Instagram @dgeorgestudios. Yeah, that's about it.
Rich: Awesome. DC.
DC: I am DC. You can find me on Twitter @dungeoncommandr. If you like this game, there are some commonalities between it and my game Mutants In The Night, which is a Forged in the Dark game. I'm having a great time and I think that you should back this game on Kickstarter.
Rich: Awesome. Kat.
Kat: I am Kat Kuhl. And you can find me on Twitter at kat_kuhl_ with “cool” spelled like my last name, K. U. H. L. and also you could check out Autonomic podcast, which I think you'll really like. Which you can find at autonomicpodcast.com with autonomic spelled like the nervous system.
Rich: Nice. I've never heard you say that. That is exactly the way it is.
Kat: The easy way to do it.
Rich: And Richard.
Richard: All right. I am Richard Kreutz-Landry, and you can find me at my website, origamigaming.com or on Twitter @rkreutzlandry.
Rich: All right, and thanks everybody for joining us. We will see you on the next episode and Welcome to Midnight.