Author Topic: The Prismate – Story idea  (Read 426 times)

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Offline Drul Morbok

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The Prismate – Story idea
« on: March 03, 2018, 03:14:39 PM »
I had the following idea as a part of a rather special setting for my campaign.  I present it with the hope that parts of it might be used for any campaign – and because I like the sharing of creativity around here ;-)
I should add that the idea is based on idioms and metaphors that work in German. I try to translate them when I feel confident about it, but some of it can't be translated...at least not by me. I will mention and explain any borders I meet.

The idea assumes a setting where it s considered normal that supernatural beings take natural forms. Human form, animal form, but also the form of a spring, a cloud, a rainbow and the like.
Mortal beings within the setting tend to keep their heads low, as speaking and even thinking of those beings only attracts their attention – the attraction of beings with purposes beyond human reasons and reasoning, beyond human values. Bad idea.
Most importantly, players can not assume to find out what „really“ happened, since even the GM would not necessarily know whether the recent encounter was a god, a ghost, an illusion or anything else.
At least that's how I encorporate it in my game world. Feel free to do everything different ;-)


The encounter:
At the beginning of a campaign/adventure, the players meet a strange figure. It looks like a human-sized and -shaped jester, with a fool's cap, a venetian-style mask and gloves, so that no skin is visible. The garment is black and white only in some „symmetrically complementary“ way (not sure if this expression fits – I mean that it is black on the left where it is white on the right, and vice versa).
The being is oddly prismatic/angled: No matter where you look at it, you always seem to look at a flat surface. Quite obviously, there need to be edges or roundness, but you never seem to able to put your glance on them.
The being talks in a pleasant voice, always in complete and rather sophisticated sentences. It likes using metaphors involving sight, light, and the like, and whenever it does, „eyeholes“ in the mask glow in a color that's...well, it's a color, but impossible to tell which color: For example, when players make a comment about it, it will call them „bright“ or talk about it „dawning on them“ or them „seing daylight“, always accompagnied by emitting light fro the eyeholes.
At some point, it will use an axpression about it „looking through“ the players, emitting light that just seems to pass through the players.

If the players try to attack it, it will move in a strange fashion: a side of his face will...well, imagine the photoshop effect of drag&dropping a point of the face, so that the head will get cone-shaped woth the tip of the cone being several meters away, then sucking the being into that cone and reshaping below the tip of the cone (phew, hard to describe).
In any case, it will evade any attack.

Later, if the player talk to any „normal“ NPC about the encounter, some wise-guy will tell them the following:
„Do you know how seing and sight really work? You tend to say that you throw your glance at the world, but this is not quite true. In truth, it is Retmayeb's eye [GM note; he's pointing at what we would call the sun] is throwing its glance at the world, and the world is reflecting His glance into your eyes, so that you can perceive the world.
Light ist sight.
This in turn means that all knowledge about what ever happend in the world lies within the glance of Retmayeb, within the light.
The being you met, the Prismate, has control over the word 'light' [but see below]. Therefore, it commands truth as you know it. It is said that the Prismate can take away all truth from you, it can take away what you might call your past. What used to be truth earlier is no more.
It does so by 'looking through' anyone.“

GM note: In the minimal version, this is an ingame explanation for why player characters do not have a background story. Their past was taken away from them.
Also the metagame idea of „gaining Xps/levels“ could be turned so that the Prismate is giving the players back their past. Or it is turning whatever idea into players' reality. If you like this more than the idea of players getting more powerful by „experience“.

In my setting, the incorporation of this being into the game world goes much deeper, but it does not have to:
In German, there is a term „Wortklauber“ - „wort“ meaning „word“, and „klauben“ being a verb that might be translated as „to pick“, generally to pick something interesting/valuable from the floor from amidst rubble. A „Wortklauber“ is someone who uses words as it fits his own purpose...somehow pedantic, but there's more to it (online dictionaries translate the term as „verbalist“).
And there is an idiom that literally translates as „getting something/ a word into the wrong throat“ (maybe „taking something the wrong way“).

In my game world, mortals could literally „get a word into the wrong throat“, and the word would stick there, turning into a bitter lump in the throat. Some people trie to spit it out by force, and the word is mighty enough to tear those people into pieces. Others reach a symbiotic relationship with the word, and those are calles „wortklauber“.
The original idea was inspired by sorcerers from D&D 3rd, so a „wortklauber“ might be a mage whose magic is working on words and idioms rather than on schools of magic.
So the Prismate would be someone who "got the word 'light' into the wrong throat", but as the relationship is symbiotic, the very principle of light is commanding this being as much as this being is commanding light.

As a said, at some point the whole idea can not be translated. I hope my description is still at least interesting to read.
I will soon continue and elaborate why words do have such a great influence when they get stuck in throats ;-)

Offline tanis

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Re: The Prismate – Story idea
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2018, 03:00:17 AM »
It sounds interesting, and I really like these ideas. I have a few thoughts/questions, but it's 6:00am here and I haven't been to sleep, so I'll have to table them until later, but I'm looking forward to hearing more.
He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.

Offline David Roomes

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Re: The Prismate – Story idea
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2018, 09:25:44 PM »
It's late here too and I'm going to keep this short. But I do look the imagery you described. First of all, the idea of the asymmetrical patterns and the two dimensional "flat" nature of the Prismate sounds like it would be visually awesome. The kind of thing that ILM or some other special effects studio would make look really cool if it were a movie.

I also like the idea of mages shaping magic with just words. That's a cool idea.

Finally, the method of his dodge, sucking into a cone in one space and spewing out in another. Yes, I know exactly the Photoshop effect you are describing. I can picture it. At least, when you described it, I envisioned the effect that one gets when you apply a polar coordinate filter to a square image and adjust the intensity. You get this really good effect where the image is sucked into a single point of nothingness, but reappears in a different location, spewing out of another single point. Anyway, that's what I pictured.

Anyway, interesting stuff!


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Offline Drul Morbok

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Re: The Prismate – Story idea
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2018, 02:41:48 PM »
I'm glad you like the idea.
In my game world, there'd be a saying that „you don't master magic- it's magic that choses you to wield it“.
It's symbiotic and individual..there'd be no „fire mages“ as a generic class, there'd be one „fire wortklauber“ somehow inspired by superheroe scenarios where there's one character for one supernatural power.
Everything about the character would fit with the superpower, and vice versa.

In my game world, the wise-guy from above would now continue with a lesson on words:
„In short:
In the beginning, there was the word.
Than there was the sentence.
Then there was the question.
Than there was the story.
Than there was you.

In long:
In the beginning, the world was bijectively described by the runes inscribed into the scales of the Black Dragon Norazûhl: There was no aspect of the world that was not described by exactly one rune, and there was no rune that did not describe exactly one aspect of the world. Our scientheologists speak of this as the world-word-monade, but this is rather inaccurate, as there are what we call words that do not refer to aspects of the world, like "as".

Than there was The Ancient Gnome Mother Ms. Chief, and She read alout each word on each scale, and the echoes of the words rose up and flew around and about. Our scientheologists call this the word-echo-dual, and since then, the world is described by the echoes of the words. It is also often called the beginning of time, despite the obvious inner incoherence of such an idea.
What today we call "demon" is actually such an echo, a manifestation of a prime aspect of the world.

And the words mixed and joined together. Our scientheologists call this the word-sentence-multitude, but the term "sentence" has somehow changed its meaning and today mostly refers to a sequence of words. Originally it named what we might call the fabric that hold the words together.
What today we call "Gods" are actually those sentences, as they built words into terms.
And yet, it was still such that sentences described the world, if only in an infinite multidude.

But there was one sentence that was not satisfied with this dualism of describing and creating the world. His name was Retmayeb an he started describing the Gods. He actually mocked them, claiming that while they where able to shape word and worlds at their will, they still where "all shape and no content".
So the Gods grew angry and worked together to cast Retmayeb into what they considered a miserable shape with a torso, two arms and legs and a head, and forced him to reproduce livings of his own alike for all eternity, and they ripped of his eyelids so he had to  watch his creation forever.

And here we are, His creation, taking pride in it and our duty:
Retmayeb mastered infinity once by describing all Gods, and he will master eternity and rise again.
We are scientheologists, knowledge is our faith, since the day we, his creation, have described the the whole world, He will be all there is to say about the world, making Him truely Everything and Always."

[GM note] Remember that this is not a "true" creation myth of my world, it's some guy talking to the player characters. First and foremost this means that he is translating the myth into their language, and as we all now, you can't translate without losses. For example, the relationship between "sentence" and "God" can only poorly be translated into the language of Earth dwellers.
Also this guy tends to get carried away. At first he tries to stick the long version to the structure of the short version, but he doesn't keep it up.
When interrupted, he insists on finishing the story first, but after that, he will try his best to make things clear by elaborating vague points. [GM note off]
« Last Edit: March 30, 2018, 10:40:05 AM by Drul Morbok »

Offline Drul Morbok

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Re: The Prismate – Story idea
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2018, 10:38:35 AM »
I edited a less short version of the creation into my last post. Now for what it has to do with the Prismate:

Wortklaubers work with the primal echo of the rune words. So their powers are older than the Gods, and people are more afraid of Wortklaubers then they are of the Gods. Also the goals of a Wortklauber are more alien to mortals then the goals of the Gods.

One rune word is carried only by one Wortklauber at a time.
There is a prophecy that one say, there will be the Word War, where all Wortklaubers will fight each other until only one remains. This will be the end of the world as it is known.

In the campaign I intend, people will see the characters' encounter with the Prismate as a sign that the Word War has started.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2018, 10:44:39 AM by Drul Morbok »