Suranse (genocide aliens vs. the clam planet)

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Suranse (genocide aliens vs. the clam planet)

Postby Kappa » Tue Jul 03, 2018 4:58 am


The story of Suranse begins way back in the early days of humanity. On an Earth very much like our own, except with some interesting magical additions, early humans were just beginning to learn about exciting new concepts like agriculture and urbanization. Then genocidal aliens descended from the sky to blast them all into their constituent atoms.

Except! Fortunately for the people of Earth, one of those interesting magical additions was winged people. The capacity to become winged is a contagious magic that originated on Earth in this universe. If you have the capacity, then the first time you accomplish something truly impressive and fulfilling - something that you expect is the sort of thing that counts as an accomplishment; something that you feel accomplished about - you are engulfed by a spectacular column of light, and when it clears, you have a pair of wings on your back. (The accomplishment can also be acknowledged retroactively, if you acquire the capacity to get your wings and then think about something you did that would have qualified if you'd had it at the time.)

The wings are magically 'retractable'; you can put them away and it'll be like they were never there. Most Suranse wings are of either a birdlike or a batlike variety, but stranger variants are possible. Your wings will be personalized to you: they'll look and behave in a way you feel is right, or at least acceptable, or at least minimally weird, depending how you feel about having wings in the first place. Wing styles may also run in families a bit.

Besides the obvious feature, winged people also get several other perks. They no longer age past maturity, and cannot die of old age; they are somewhat harder to kill in general, tending to resist illness and injury and bounce back easily even when those things happen; and they each get a Sphere, a personal pocket dimension that starts out big enough for a modestly sized house plus some nice yard space and grows a little each year for as long as its owner lives. (I haven't done the math to figure out what a good Sphere growth rate is, but it's linear in the radius of the Sphere, and not fast enough for you to sit at the edge and watch unless you are very very patient.)

In order to get to and from your Sphere, you can create portals. Creating a portal is a simple, intuitive mental action with a range of a few feet or so. You must create the portal outside your Sphere; the Sphere end will go where you want it, anywhere in your Sphere, with no effective range limit. Once created, a portal can be closed and reopened arbitrarily many times, but never destroyed. A closed portal is undetectable except by its owner and possibly by extradimensional metamagic.

You can create a portal to your Sphere from someone else's Sphere, but if that person is still alive, they need to actively grant permission for your portal to exist, and once it exists they will have co-ownership of it; either owner of a portal can close it, and either can reopen it with the active permission of the other. (Once a Sphere owner dies, their Sphere begins to behave just like the base universe with respect to portals, and all their portals to other living Spheres revert to the sole ownership of that Sphere's owner. If a portal is 'orphaned' by a Sphere owner's death, it stays open or closed forever, depending which state it was in at the time.)

So when everything started catching fire, the people of Earth evacuated through a maze of Spheres - closing portals frantically behind them - into the biggest one they could find, a Sphere that came to be called Suranse. It was big enough to have its own planet... sort of.

See, Spheres don't necessarily obey the external world's laws of physics. In fact, they often don't. They usually have some sort of recognizable correspondence to places the Sphere owner has been or heard of, but they're magical pocket universes and can therefore get pretty weird, especially in the sky department.

Suranse in particular has what has been semi-affectionately referred to as a "clam planet". The planetary shell is composed of two separate halves, arranged into a configuration similar to a hollowed-out jelly donut that has been very messily bisected along its most sandwich-yielding plane. The outside of the planet is nice and habitable and full of pleasant landscapes and good farmland; the inside of the planet is also habitable, but instead of pleasant landscapes and good farmland it has ominous shadowy vistas and giant man-eating snakes. Gravity on the outer surface points inward, and gravity on the inner surface points outward, and floating in the very middle of the planetary donut is an enormous tangly zero-gravity jungle where the giant man-eating animals all have wings.

Needless to say, the outer surface of Suranse was a vastly more popular destination. But not everyone could settle there; some people, unwelcome for whatever reason among the newly-forming nations of the outside, were driven into the planet's interior to avoid being eaten by snakes as best they could.

The exterior of the planet came to be known collectively as Ceir, and its people as Ceirene. The interior came to be called Aluvanna, and its people the Aluvai.

Because Spheres are magic, the Aluvai found themselves adapting unnaturally fast to their new circumstances. The ones living on the inner surface developed long fearsome claws, catlike eyes with excellent night vision, and pointed mobile ears that could hear very well and place sounds very accurately; the ones living in the floating jungle developed shorter claws better-suited to climbing, long prehensile tails to assist in same, and eyes not quite so well specialized for darkness since they got a fair amount of light coming in through the gap between the planet's halves. (They also have the same ears as the surface Aluvai.)

Partly out of heredity and partly out of cultural expectation, winged Ceirene tend to have feathered wing styles, whereas the Aluvai tend toward the batlike model. Neither of these tendencies is perfectly reliable.

Over the course of their settling-in after the initial scramble, and the subsequent centuries of isolation and periodic war between Ceirene and Aluvai, the people of Suranse gradually forgot that they had ever lived on another world. They began to think of Suranse as their base universe; its owner was dead by that point, so there was no obvious way to tell it was definitely a Sphere.

And then one day the genocidal aliens, who had been patiently exploring what was left of the original Sphere network for thousands and thousands of years, finally found their way into Suranse through an out-of-the-way portal that the evacuees hadn't succeeded in closing. They attacked the planet, devastating Ceir, but couldn't easily get at Aluvanna through the gap between the halves of the planet's shell. The Aluvai eventually came to the rescue, and with the two nations allied for the first time in recorded history, they are more or less sort of holding off the alien invasion for now.

Topics I have left out of this narrative include "healing wells", "battle magic", and "weird sky nonsense". Let's have the weird sky nonsense first:

See, Suranse's planet does not orbit a sun. Its sun and moon both circle it instead, traveling along huge glowing rings called the sun-circle and moon-circle. (The moon also glows.) The two celestial circles begin the year in perfect alignment, with the sun rising in the east over what's called the "dawn side" of the planet and the moon on the opposite end of the planet rising in the west over the "dusk side". Then both circles begin to rotate: over the course of a month, the moon-circle spins on an axis perpendicular to the planetary plane, while the sun-circle spins on an axis that passes through the planetary gap. Each month lasts exactly thirty days, and there are twelve of them in the 360-day year.

If you are confused about the behaviour of the sun-circle and moon-circle, please consult these poorly drawn visual aids: axes of rotation, position and direction of celestial objects at beginning and middle of year.

Battle magic is another local magic system, which is packaged with the capacity to get your wings but also comes separately. The genocidal aliens are much worse at it than the humans, and I haven't decided why. It consists of nine magical forces: Corrosion, Energy, Fire, Force, Freeze, Light, Lightning, Liquefy, and Stun. A combat caster can learn to project these magical forces directly in the form of beams/bolts/fireballs as appropriate, but this is difficult to pick up; there are also magic weapons, engraved cylinders of specific metals which anyone with the basic underlying magical capacity can easily activate to produce the corresponding force, and magic shields, engraved disks of specific metals which passively deflect their corresponding forces.

Magical weapon and shield design is a precise discipline that requires exacting geometry. You can combine multiple separate metals into a single weapon or shield for synergistic effects, but this is an understudied field because it's already hard to manufacture them to the necessary precision and it gets even harder when you complicate things with multi-metal assemblies. Shield design is likewise understudied because the size a shield needs to be in order to do you any practical good is often prohibitively expensive at the Suranse tech level. On the other hand, "fire pins" are ubiquitous - a plain steel pin of uniform thickness functions as a lighter for anyone native to the universe.

Healing wells are a phenomenon specific to the Suranse Sphere: locations on the planet where, if you sit there while sick or injured, you will recover unnaturally fast. Individual healing wells can be bigger, smaller, stronger, or weaker than others; there are more healing wells in Aluvanna than Ceir, and they tend to be stronger on average, but Ceir's healing wells are often much larger, sometimes to the point where an entire city can be built inside one.

The genocidal aliens probably also deserve some screentime here. The Ceirene and Aluvai know them only as "the Enemy", and they simply call themselves "people", but by convention whenever someone manages to establish diplomatic relations with them they use one of their words for "people" in its untranslated form as a term for their species: "ruikni", singular "ruix".

Establishing diplomatic relations with them is kind of hard, though, because they take it as a fundamental moral principle that it is abhorrent for any sapient beings not of their own species to exist. They're a very high-trust high-conformity society, reluctant to go against societal consensus, and extremely purity-conscious: all these things have plenty of benefits to the ruikni, but when they run into other species, these tendencies make them fanatically genocidal.

They're particularly upset about Earth, though, because Earth is the source of the wing contagion, and from a ruikni perspective the wing contagion is like becoming so corrupted by the abomination of alien life that you start to turn into one yourself. They implemented aggressive quarantine protocols as soon as they noticed it, back in the days of the original assault on Earth, and in the modern day it's even possible for ruikni to live on Earth without fearing the contagion as long as they don't enter the portals themselves. Of course, since entering the portals carries a risk of contagion, and the contagion is undetectable until you start sprouting wings, this means that once someone joins the expeditionary force they are declared ritually dead and can no longer have any contact whatsoever with ordinary ruikni.

(Wing contagion, by the way, works like this: You have a tiny chance of picking up the capacity to get wings if you hang out with other people who have the capacity. You have a much bigger chance of picking it up if you hang out with people who actually have their wings. You have a much bigger chance of picking it up if you spend time inside a Sphere. Everyone in Suranse has the capacity, because being born in a Sphere and growing up there your whole life virtually guarantees it.) that it? I think that might be it. I am probably forgetting some parts. Oh well, it's a start.
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Re: Suranse (genocide aliens vs. the clam planet)

Postby Kappa » Tue Jul 03, 2018 5:50 am

Oh, right, and language:

Ceir and Aluvanna share a language, which the Ceirene call Ceirene and the Aluvai call Aluvai. Its alphabet song goes like this:

fas, var, pei, bes,
san, zar, tai, des,
shar, wyr, kai, thi,
re, lu, ne, mi,
urnu, ormo, yi, adai,
iki, evei, chiri, tsai

"Ceir" is spelled chiri wyr evei iki rei, with the chiri-wyr sequence pronounced with a K sound and transcribed in English as C. "Aluvanna" is comparatively straightforward: adai lu urnu var adai ne ne adai.
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