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Dreamward Worldbuilding Info

PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2014 11:39 pm
by Alicorn
This setting is mine, all mine, and no one else has the authority to contradict me on it, so there, hahahahahahaha. But if you like it we could glowfic it and then I would pay attention if you made suggestions.


The world is infinite and (except for local things like mountains) flat. Since there is infinity of it, human civilization has not spread from where it originated throughout everything yet, and indeed they haven't yet caught up to e.g. the edges of the preexisting spread of plant life. The world is illuminated by a quantity of suns, which travel in straight lines at various altitudes. Suns may be of any size, travel at assorted speeds, and come in many pleasing colors. There is usually at least one visible from most places at most times, although this is by no means guaranteed and every now and again there will be a "longdark". Most of the plant life has dark-colored leaves to absorb a wide variety of light and is capable of tolerating occasional longdarks.

People in the setting talk as though the world is round, not infinite. It is customary in some places to use "hubward", "rimward", "clockwise", and "counterclockwise" as locally-cardinal, universally-round directions. This is because there was a finite and roundish area of the world colonized by people, and then pretty much smack dab in the middle of it a great big sinkhole opened up and started emitting demons from the hellscape below the ground, and now human civilization is a slowly expanding ring.


So, there's this hellscape below the ground. If you dig far enough (way too far to do by accident), or if there is a particularly problematic earthquake, some demons can get out. (Earthquakes usually only cough up a handful of demons before the hole fills in. The sinkhole is special and unexplained and thus far unique.) Demons come in many varieties and do not appear to be sapient. All of them can eat your soul. By and large they do this by attacking you in some way; none can accomplish it at a distance. They are difficult to kill, though it's possible to do so to any of them in variously obscure ways, except for the klaonso.

Klaonso (singular: klaon) are the only insubstantial demons. They can eat souls without having to come into (impossible) physical contact, and there is no known way to kill them. They are visible, although only just barely - they're easy to miss even if you're looking for the telltale colored mist in the air and you pretty much can't be confident that you are not intersecting one at any given time. They can, however, only eat souls out of sleeping bodies.


Troportation is extremely similar to the magic system found in the Effulgence original setting Thalassa (Cymbeline's world), mostly because Thalassa's magic system is more or less a direct ripoff thereof. Troportation in the Dreamward setting involves touching any two things (contiguous objects or contiguous quantities of substances) and moving their properties. Properties may include things like color, size, sweetness, stickiness, temperature, tiredness, etc. (but not things like "validity as currency", "beauty", mathematical properties, location, and other exceptions). If you have a red brick and a blue stick, you can touch them both and then have a blue brick and a red stick. If you have a grain of sugar and a glass of water, you can touch the sugar and stick your finger in the water and have sweet water and tasteless sugar. If you have been hiking for hours and you have a recently napped mouse you can hold the mouse and be refreshed and leave the rodent very tired.

Troports generally fall into the loose categories of "swaps" and "transfers". In the case of a swap, two objects which both have something of some property - as the blue stick and red brick, both having colors - exchange their respective statuses with respect to that property. In the case of a transfer, a property is removed without replacement from one object and added to another which can hold it (you can make a mouse tired; you can't make a tree tired). Some customary uses of troportation can be done either way - for instance, you could drowse a mouse by exchanging your statuses with respect to tiredness, or you could just give the mouse all of your tiredness. Swaps are usually easier and safer than transfers. (You can kill a mouse by making it as physically tired as an entire human like that, even if it's a fresh mouse.) (Mice are a commonly used target for drowsing and other troportations that require living things, because they breed rapidly and are small and portable and eat anything.) Troportation is fast, but requires concentration and a sort of mental agility poorly correlated with other cognitive aptitude; only about 1% of the population is good enough to learn to do a soul transfer if they try, and far fewer can manage to make a dreamward.


Since klaonso cannot be kept out of settlements via walls or killed, while the first humans to deal with them were busy dying in droves, they managed to invent a fantastically complex troportation that repels them from an area. The area is small, although you can concatenate several of them, and almost no one is capable of making a dreamward at all. Most settlements these days have a decent-sized dreamwarded area in which children who aren't yet cohabiting live. Cohabitation solves the problem for the rest of the population.

If you want to leave the dreamward for longer than you can stay awake, you're going to need a roomie. A complicated (but not as complicated as dreamwarding) troport can take two bodies with two souls and move one of the souls into the other body, yielding one body with two souls. In communities that for whatever reason don't have a dreamward they have to do this with newborn babies, right away; in larger/richer/more established towns and cities, they can wait to let people pick their own cohabitors at ages that vary culturally.

What having a cohabitor does is let your body go without sleep. Specifically, you accumulate both physical fatigue and mental fatigue. Physical fatigue you can shunt into animals, but they don't have minds in which to put mental fatigue: human souls need periods of real inactivity to be able to stay awake (albeit not necessarily as often as unaided human bodies need it). Even infant souls will automatically - if physically non-tired - allow a cohabitor to front rather than falling asleep from mental exhaustion. People who share a body and have access to animals they can drowse are not in danger from klaonso.

Various cultural artifacts have sprung up in different regions around cohabitation, particularly around: whether and how physical properties of the bodies of the merging parties are shuffled around beforehand; how family relationships (and particularly parenting) works; the degree to which cohabitors pool resources, social circles, etc; what is done when a cohabiting person commits a crime and their cohabitor is innocent; how it is customary to manage risks to the shared body; what age it is typical to move in with someone; whether cohabitors choose each other or under some circumstances are assigned; and assorted consequences from the fact that adults do not sleep (making something Earthlings would recognize as homelessness a dramatically more viable option even for the middle class).


Out-of-date information on the conlang used for the principally examined culture within the Dreamward setting is available here. It is loosely accurate, especially in orthography, but is subject to change since I wrote everything there like eight or nine years ago.

Re: Dreamward Worldbuilding Info

PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 5:48 am
by Tamien
This setting sounds neat! My first reaction is that this would be a setting in which a JokerSherlock could occur (not having actually read any of the threads with a JokerSherlock in a desperate attempt to avoid Vorkosigan Saga spoilers, and thus knowing nothing about how JokerSherlocks work).

My next reaction: How much mental privacy does cohabitation afford? Could a Bell survive having a cohabitor, given their need for mental privacy? What would happen to a Bell in this setting? ETA: having just finished reading the story and thus basically having my first two questions answered, I'll amend them to: Of currently existing Green templates, who would a Bell most prefer to cohabit with? What traits would they take for their body? (Not the Bell's coordination, certainly!) What Purple or Blue templates would a Bell cohabit with?

My third reaction: *goes off to read the story*

Re: Dreamward Worldbuilding Info

PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 7:08 am
by Kappa
A JokerSherlock could occur in a universe like this, but only with some affordance for complicated soul statuses above and beyond merely being born with an unusual but clearly defined and non-fractional number thereof.

Re: Dreamward Worldbuilding Info

PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 8:53 am
by Alicorn
Under normal circumstances, cohabitation affords perfect mental privacy; you're never awake at the same time and don't share memories or anything. The Bell only needs to trust the other person to take good care of their body (or at least get it back to a comfortable state before falling asleep) and not particularly want to hang out with them socially in real time. Off the top of my head, if we assume compatible genders and that the prospective cohabitors are all reasonably good at troportation and rich enough to have steady access to mice, Bells might consider cohabiting with: other Bells, Carlisles, Didymes, Minnies, Nathans; Banners, Caps, Ekaterins, Hilaries, Jnis, Kolyas, Liselens, Chrises, Raynes, Virginias; and, uh, actually no blue templates come to mind at all. Everyone else (who appears on the spreadsheet and that I successfully looked at) is either too much fun to hang out with (some of these choices skirt that boundary but don't automatically dance over it within five minutes of meeting) or too hard for a Bell to trust with the care and feeding of the body they need to use.

Re: Dreamward Worldbuilding Info

PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 9:08 am
by Kappa
I would advise a Bell against cohabiting with a Rayne, because while under ordinary circumstances a Rayne would take pretty good care of their shared body, it would be too likely that at some point the relevant Kingfisher would have a need that conflicted with either their body's safety or prior Bell-related agreements, and the Bell would wake up grievously injured or several cities away or up a tree surrounded by hungry demons.

Re: Dreamward Worldbuilding Info

PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 9:10 am
by Alicorn
I was imagining that the Bell would, like, be friends with the Kingfisher and the Kingfisher would be interested in the Bell's needs being met. But point taken about things like locational stability.

Re: Dreamward Worldbuilding Info

PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 9:34 am
by Kappa
I could totally imagine the Rayne convincing the Kingfisher that the Bell had agreed to moving to wherever, if the Rayne expected this to work out somehow or other - and Raynes have a known blind spot wrt potential long-term consequences of their deceptive schemes. And I think in situations desperate enough for a Rayne to end up grievously injured or up a tree surrounded by demons, the Kingfisher would be more concerned with not dying than with how to explain this to the Bell when she woke up.

In a situation where the Bell is friends with the Kingfisher and the Kingfisher is pre-warned not to trust the Rayne about intra-body agreements without actual confirmation from the Bell, and where likelihood of mortal danger is predicted to be very, very low, a Rayne would make a decent cohabitor. But there are glaring failure modes not present in most other people on that list.

Re: Dreamward Worldbuilding Info

PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 11:40 am
by Adelene
Alicorn wrote:A complicated (but not as complicated as dreamwarding) troport can take two bodies with two souls and move one of the souls into the other body, yielding one body with two souls. In communities that for whatever reason don't have a dreamward they have to do this with newborn babies, right away.

How does that work? I imagine that most communities small enough not to have a dreamward also don't have multiple babies being born every day that can be troported together, even if the parents are somehow okay with sharing a baby with strangers. (Maybe they temporarily troport the baby in with one set of parents, and then troport them again when another baby shows up? Does three-way sharing even work well enough for that?)

Re: Dreamward Worldbuilding Info

PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 2:10 pm
by Alicorn
Well, they have to keep the babies awake. It's not necessarily very pleasant. They can also induce labor, or C-section someone who's a ways along, when there's a baby who needs a cohabitor.

Re: Dreamward Worldbuilding Info

PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2014 10:05 pm
by Bluelantern
What "is" a soul? And what moving it does to the body? Would the bell clumsiness work as a body trait or a soul trait? Can you move a soul more than once? What happens when the soul is eaten?

Can you troport specific mental traits like specific knowledge, skill or emotions?

Can you troport traits in the same object? Like make the shell soft like the interior? Or if you have different colored eyes, you could swap them around.

They mentioned bird legs are those safe to keep?