laurawilkinson

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laurawilkinson
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    Everything has changed except human nature

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    That's the premise I like to start with when inventing something new for Numenera - a place, a city or a culture. After all, it's a far far flung future where even the limits of science fiction are strained to fully explain what is and isn't possible.

    So when my GM asked me to flesh out a new character for our post-playtest game, I decided that I wanted to play a mishmash of wuxia and steamtech. A monk from a far off monastery, versed in martial arts and meditation (A Clever Glaive), but whose tradition revolved around turning steam tech into something mystical. Nothing burns to drive the clockwork of these immense structures, instead the sweat of the initiates turns the cogs in accordance with scripture. It also means I can give my combat manuevers fancy anime titles, like Swing The Pendulum when I'm using Bash.

    I'm still working on things like taboos, religious holidays, and the five Sacred Metals (all conductive of course).

    So where do others get their inspiration from? It's a very big canvas at the moment.

    Finding my religion

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    So, that steampunk monk I described before? I wrote up her beliefs for the game she's in, and now I look at the book it seems similar to the Aeon Priesthood's teachings. Possibly an offshoot, or influenced by a shared history...anyway, here it is.-----------------------------Yeti's BeliefsYeti follows a heavily Buddhist-inspired path that is pantheistic - that doesn't believe in a separate anthropomorphic God, but instead that Universe is inherently divine. Yeti refers to this divinity as Intelligence, mostly because she doesn't have better words for it.This Intelligence isn't sapience or self-awareness, it's the quality of things which have a purpose and pattern or design. Things which have been made by sapients will be more 'divine' than things made by accident. However Evolution is a prime example of what she might call Natural Intelligence, or Divinity in Nature.While the Universe is driven by Entropy, Opposition and Attraction, Intelligence can oppose these forces. This means that technology - especially numenera - are sacred, as they are devices which contain divinity and aid intelligent beings in opposing Entropy. The two principles of Tradition and Innovation are about maintaining this move away from Entropy. Like a cog in clockwork, it can only go forwards or hold steady, going backwards is against it's Purpose and a surrender to Entropy.In practice, this means that Yeti really dislikes retracing her steps or giving up on a project, and breaking something which has been made is practically blasphemous. It also means she values all kinds of artifacts from the past, when Intelligence had enormous power and miracles were made.Yeti comes from the Chablon Monastery, a sect dedicated to maintaining and repairing a Great Device. It's pretty big. It doesn't just take up a lot of the mountain, it forms most of the mountain. No one there really understands what it does or what it is for, but such a intricate and grand artifact demands their service. Initiates spend much of the day climbing through the clockwork, oiling chains and polishing gears, and there are a few sections inside where some function has been restored - the people have adapted the engines to tasks such as pumping water, or lifting and lowering platforms. The heat of the steamworks keeps the inside of the Device temperate, explaining why so many locals prefer to live inside. From the outside it mostly looks like a snow-covered mountain range.Death and Afterlife? Yeti doesn't believe in Reincarnation. She does believe in Recycling. Nothing is ever truly destroyed, only rearranged in new patterns.Astrology:Intelligence manifests in Pattern and Purpose, therefore the stately movement of the stars has been long studied as a kind of blueprint for an over-arching plan of reality. The Monastery maintains that there were once 12 'houses' which made up the sky, however aeons ago one of these houses went dark and is now referred to as the Void. More recently though, a new house has appeared. While the remaining eleven still move in a pattern of twelve, the new house moves alternatively in patterns of three, five and seven, and it moves through the space of the other eleven. Centuries after it appeared debate is still fierce over whether this Ghost House is a new Twelfth House or a Thirteenth House.Astrology is used as a teaching tool by the senior monks, although the Monastery does make a few shins through those who wish their fortunes told.Martial Arts:Well, you have the heavy physical labour which requires a fair degree of agility as one clambers through the Device. You have the injunction to improve yourself in all ways in order to be a better servant of the Divine. And you have the saying that a good argument should be tested like steel, to see if it is strong enough to support your theory.Imagine then, a pair of monks facing off across a horizontal cog as it methodically ticks around. A pendulum swings and the two sprint into action, hammering each other with blows and performing the most amazing twists and leaps to avoid being thrown off the cog. One feints to the inside, the other misjudges their block and ends up being suspended by a foot over edge of the gear. There is a sigh from the onlookers as the perpendicular one says "I concede your point."This is usually reserved for when two sides are truly deadlocked, but practice in the art of vigorous debate is encouraged. It emphasises relying upon your own skills and using your environment to best effect. And the teachers find it is a very effective lesson in applied physics.