Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Inspirations

This began as a response post to DIY & Dragons' excellent post on childhood fantasy inspirations, but somewhere along the way I broke off the rails of the prompt, and now we have this.

Soundtrack is recommended, but not required.

Warning: Contains spoilers.

New Phyrexia



Some ideas never truly die. They burrow into the mind and fester, growing and infecting, colonizing. Making part of you an extension of themselves, and in so doing, making themselves an extension of you. They haunt you, and you become, to them, a haunt. Some ideas set you along a path, give you a distant destination, and that is their first gift.

My introduction to MTG was Mirrodin Besieged. I believe my love of science fantasy, and of worldbuilding, began here. I began reading through MTG card lists for the lore snippets (which will likely be a subject of another blog post).
I believe I can sum up the story like this: I was reading through the New Phyrexia card list for the lore, and came upon this somewhat innocent card name. "War Report" is not a particularly evocative introduction to a card compared to something like "Phyrexian Obliterator". Then I read the card text.

The death of a world that, quite frankly, I had fallen in love with, hidden in the card text of an unobtrusive pack-filler common. 

This taught me the power of flavor text. The words may have been on the card, but the actual destruction of Mirrodin played out in my own mind as I put the pieces together.

No MTG set has been able to hurt me like this since, and to this day I remain searching.


Hyper Light Drifter




Some ideas never truly die. Like a flash-imprint, they leave their reflections burned into you. They can never leave your vision, you could never dare tear your gaze away. They are the light that burns in the core of your consciousness, casts dancing shadows on the walls of your hollow brain that you scramble to decipher like some paleolithic sage. Some ideas turn you into a lighthouse. You begin to emit, to burn, and that is their second gift.


I was wholly unprepared for the effect this game would have on me. I had started it as a recommendation from a friend, and was somewhat intrigued by what I had seen on Steam. Then I saw the opening cutscene and everything changed. Part of me has found a home in that vibrant, broken, nameless world.

Hyper Light Drifter showed me the ways in which games can be intensely, luminously, incandescently beautiful, and now I burn with the frustration and knowledge that nothing I create will ever be beautiful in that exact same way. And yet, perhaps that... gross incandescence can set my own works alight with a fire all their own.

Bloodborne




Some ideas never truly die. They are planted in your mind, but you are the flower that blooms. Evolved, perhaps unknowingly, perhaps unwillingly. An evolution of courage, for evolution without courage only leads to ruin. These new sets of eyes are yours, and they peer inward. The world feels different, and yet it has always been the same: you have been transformed. Some ideas grant you new eyes, and that is their third gift.

Bloodborne has taught me how a work can have layers upon layers of meaning. It has taught me how a work can infect and transform everything it touches with new layers, how it will infect the viewers with the eyes to see them.

Bloodborne follows in the tradition of Lovecraft, but in doing so, it infects Lovecraft's message and turns it into a challenge against his beliefs. It is a beautiful coincidence that Bloodborne is regarded to be the best Lovecraftian video game, and yet it contains hints and themes that completely undermine his tradition. That evolve it, and in so doing, evolve us.

Perhaps the ultimate other is not so other after all. With enough eyes, perhaps we will see.

Dark Souls

Some ideas never truly die. If you find them in the process of dying, of fading, then the absences they leave behind will be greater and more beautiful than their living forms ever could have been. Things given power by what they are not, what they couldn't have been, what they never will be. The invisible inertia that sets the cosmos whirl, the dark matter that steadies it on its axis, they are within you, too. Some ideas represent an absence, the vast majesty you can find within yourself, and that is their final gift.

This gift is also from Kyana, who taught me the word Lacuna, possibly the most important word I now know. A cavity. An absence. 

Part of us will always be searching blindly in a dark cave, a lacuna deep within ourselves. For when faced with whatever pockets of the unknown still remain in this world of light and bright screens, we fill them with reflections of that primeval void. Lacunae become imperfect mirrors, and through them the self is broken down, refracted, and reforged. The self-destructive pursuit of information that I have become part of seeks to eliminate the last traces of mystery from the world. It is in these lacunae that mystery still lurks, and it is in this mystery that the search for meaning is given purpose.

"Perhaps you've seen it, maybe in a dream. A murky, forgotten land." It is my belief that if you search for meaning in games long enough, you will eventually stand before its decrepit gate, without really knowing why. That land might be called Lordran. Or Drangleic. Or Lothric. Or perhaps even Lorgan, for if Mystery did not keep many pseudonyms, it would no longer be Mystery.

In Dark Souls, words confound. Time is fluid. Space is stable, dependable, but uncooperative, for it remains staunchly silent. You must seek truth in the spaces between words; in TTRPGs, we must seek truth in the spaces between worlds.

***

Some ideas never truly die, while they live on through us.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

The Ashen West Setting Building

The name "Ashen West" is just a placeholder. This is the result of a bout of impromptu setting-building between me and Kyana over on Luka's discord.

Music fuel 

Kyana: There is a lot of instrumental variations of those five but I love the songs

(selected lyrics from the songs, tied in together)

Sky is red, clouds roll in I say my prayers and close my eyes Devils are among us Black trains are coming - Let the gunshots ring.

Saker: The Church of Fire and Smoke, whose prayers turn the wheels of great machines, worshippers of terrible Angels, suppliers and consumers of the Black Powder.

The Black Powder: Found deep under the mountains, a wondrous fuel and the source of alchemical magicks. Holy medium of the church, who dig greedily and deep into old places that should be left alone.

The Flame: At the deepest point beneath the mountain, the prospectors of the Church found flame, which settled deep into their hearts till their eyes kindled like embers and their footsteps scorched the earth. And so, as foretold, Devils came to walk the mortal realms.

The Devils: They walk the soot-scorched lands, causing death and misery wherever they tread, or so saith the Church. Some say they are extraplanar demons or lost souls, others say they are the result of overuse of Black Powder. Hunted by the Gunslingers.

The Gunslingers: Hunters of Devils. Their traditional weapon of choice is the six-shooter, but other guns have been adopted by more eccentric slingers. Those who know alchemy can transmute their blood with black powder to create magic bullets. Some are affiliated with the church, others worship the Six Gun Saints (also known as the Six-Gun Saints) Some select few ride the Black Train.

The Black Train whose name is Death: Most get crushed under its wheels, but some, chosen by fate, can hitch a ride (those who are "Off the Tracks"). They can return from death and move between Stations. There is a Conductor, bound and gagged by silver chains. Do not speak to them.

Kyana: Small towns and cities, connected by thin roads; the space between them malleable and shifting like sands in the desert - what was a canyon a year ago might become a ravine or a valley in the eyes of new traveller, as old ruins grow up from the new land. People cling to each other for the sense of stability and order that the presence of other people brings, just as their paranoia grows;

Somewhere out there are horses, marked by Angels in times past, beings of dust, fire, bone and smoke, feeding on open graveyards as on pastures. It is ruin for a weak of heart to face one, but tame it and feed it your flesh and it will never leave your side even in death;

There are gold-eyed people walking through the Thin Roads of the wilderness; their nails are sharp as steel and smiles are benign but they bear no Angel's blessed scent, no stench of devils. Kin to nobody, where they come, the hungry ghosts soon follow until the town are nothing but a skeleton of living;

Open graveyards appear and fester like wounds, never acknowledged, never treated with due respect, never put to rest

Golden Fever sweeps the land, turning men into possessed beasts; their delirium grows so strong they sip the marrow of bones, trying to get the smallest modula of gold out of human blood;

Flame embraces the true believers, scorching their flesh with cures just as fire tempers the brittle steel. One who is strong in such faith, manifests miraculous brands and hears the singing of Angels

Toss a pinch of black powder into a whiskey and it will heal you better than mother's milk and taste sweeter than the lover's kiss

Walk in dead man's boots to have your steps to be as quiet as death itself;

Bleed the blood of the innocents, and roses spring from each drop;

Great machines turn and sing, raising great cities from the hard stone, build up hard border walls from soft, shifting lands, brings sacred firepits out of depths, sanctify the land with their street lines; all are to welcome Church, the bringers of prosperity and order. For the dissidents there is an exile, a silencing or a gallow tree.

When carnival comes they play melodies of the old abandoned world, which everybody remembers but only in dreams; pursued by the Church and hounded by gunslingers, those shows never stay put for any long time

Saker: The Angels of the Church: Depicted in chapels and murals as watching over the world, belching smoke and weeping molten gold. Some say that when the light is at its brightest and the smoke is at its thinnest, can see great silhouettes towering, eyes slimmering like beacons through the haze.

Kyana: One can see them fly through the night, the beautiful tailed stars, so far above that they are as small as sparkles

Saker: The Three Substances of Alchemy: The black powder from beneath the mountain, the fool's gold from the shifting riverbanks of the endless frontier, and finally, the lifeblood of man. Together, they form the Triangular Concordance of Alchemy that some call the Philosopher's Stone. And from that Concordance is birthed a wellspring of wonders and horrors, for anything is possible if you're willing to pay any price. Whether that price be in body (blood), mind (gold), or spirit (powder).

As the saying goes: "The modern world is built on powder, gold, and blood".

The Haze: Perhaps there was a time before the Haze, before the great towers of the Church that vomit flame, the machines that burn powder to transmute blood into gold. But now it is everywhere, making heads swim, making lungs clench, making everything distant as if in a dream. They say if you wander too deep into the Haze, you will end up... somewhere else. They say that the souls of those lost in the Haze become part of it. Those Gunslingers who are Off the Tracks can see the Stations hidden in the Haze, and can hail the Black Train whose name is Death.

Kyana: Moon is a false fire of devils, for they abhor the true and only flame; fear the full moonlight, as it will steal your soul and extinguish your life's fire, and Church will hunt you down for the silver in your eyes as your skin turns to shadow and soot

Under the eye of the high noon sun there can be no lies, no illusions, no deceptions - only the judgement of the Angels

Saker: Secret Orders of the Church:

The Architects: They seek the Tower, their representation of the pinnacle of evolution and the inevitable product of mechanical innovation. When mortals scale the Tower, the gates of heaven shall open, all struggles will cease, all miseries shall be wiped from the face of the earth, and humankind shall face their final destiny.

The Tower Inverted: Heretic cell of the Architects. They know the truth: the Tower floats not in the sky but lies deep below the surface of the earth. And the result of finding it is not evolution, but infinite mutation and madness. Yet they seek it anyway. Some say that they were the ones to awaken the Devils from their slumber. The boldest and most heretical say they even follow the teachings of the Worm.

The Stargazers: Those who build great observatories atop vast peaks and pinnacles to try and pierce the haze and see the stars beyond. Their attempts are fruitless. For the stars have not been seen in generations. They, like much else, have been devoured in the haze.

Kyana: Black-clad ministers are the lowest priests of the Church, bearing sacred blackpowder and a rosary of spend shells, they attend to the everyday rites and guide the faithful flock; one knows them by the symbol of five-pointed star

Saker: One day, one of the villagers ventured out into the haze and didn't come back. The other villagers counted the days until at last there was no way he could have survived. Two weeks later he emerged from the smoke, but his movements were wrong and his voice was different.

He said he had come upon a revelation: that the machinations of humankind would lead to their demise, that the angels must be slain and overthrown, and the arts of powder, gold, and blood must be forgotten, else Doom return to reclaim the world. Humanity must return to the mud and caves if they are to be saved.

For his heresy, the Evangelists of the Church sent him to the block to be beheaded, as was tradition in those parts. When they took off his head, instead of blood what spilled out of the stump were hundreds of small, white worms.

The head continued to speak of vast, blind entities writhing and devouring themselves out of sight, and laughed as it burned on the pyre. Though the Church tried to cover up the story, rumor got around. And so the Teachings of the Worm began to spread.

By six shots, six saints, and six paths, we know it to be true." -Gunslinger's saying

Kyana: Old abandoned world is all but a dream for people of last generations, but some fall into this dream and wander forgotten streets of nameless cities, grand, and twisted, and broken, and so vast that the building are closing in above and from all the sides, as if a giant shell, as if a pair of godly hands. Those people wake up, shaken and crying for the songs they no longer can remember. They often wander off into the Haze, weeping, pursuing the mirages that taunt and sing for them as they go.

Some tumbleweeds from the heart of a murdered strangers, out in the wilderness. As they grow, the cluster of roots and branches grows tight in the centre of them, becoming the effigy of a slain person, the last remainder of their humanity; catch it, powder it and smoke it to imbibe the last memories and the most dear wish of the one who is gone

Saker: Six: A holy number to the Gunslingers, who built their guns with six chambers in reverence of the six great Saints of their tradition. Five of the paths are in life, and the final, sixth path, is in death. It is said that when a Gunslinger successfully walks the five sacred paths in life, they will be chosen by the Black Train to walk the sixth on the other side. It is a practice among the truly devout Gunslingers to only load five of their six chambers, "leaving the last one for death". Old devouts play games of russian roulette, believing the dead member of the six to have been chosen by the Black Train.

Kyana: (Black-garbed ministers wear five-pointed star and empty shells as they serve the living, not the dead)

Saker: (Some of the learned and bold among heretic scholars have noted some symbolic similarities between the Black Train whose name is Death, and the Worm who devours its own tail in the dark, though they do not dare mention them out loud.)

(Some of those aforementioned learned and bold heretic scholars also theorize that an ancient civilization tried to ascend the Tower long ago, but failed and were incinerated to a one. And their ashes became the powder below the mountain. And the Devils are their souls reigniting once more. But alas, such theories never make it far without being silenced.)

Kyana: Crescentgrove is a city home of the learnt and wise, and the lake near its never dries out, even at the highest heat. The Church watches closely for the sign of dissent thought that enters or leaves the city but at the same time, shows a strange reverence and reluctance to enter the city in force

Saker: (Others posit that the Angels of the Church are the ascended former humans, who want to uplift the rest of their former kind.)

Kyana: Church presents the monolith front for the lay believers, but even with this facade ordinary people learnt to be fearful of white-clad ministers, who walk through the wilderness haze leaving burning footprints, undeterred, unfettered, unstoppable by anything as they pursue their goals; those are said to be holy executioners, given a free mandate to show cruelty and mercy as they feel fit

The folk wisdom says that spitting on a bullet before loading it to the gun brings the favour of the Saints for the shot

It is said that snakes in the wilderness knows the secret of worm tunnels, once escaping them to live in the light of the day, but only share it with those who shares their poisons and survives

As the Golden Fever grows, some affected grows with it; soon the blood is not enough and they run after meandering rivers, trying to suck them dry in a pursuit of ever-desired gold; eventually their body grow giant and malleable as if of titanic slugs; and river might dry completely if there is no one to clean the diseased thirsty filth from its shores

Say quick prayer to Fifth Saint and smear the drop of your blood onto a grave to ask the dead for a sanctuary for a night; if you heart is pure and manners are respectful, they will share their grave with you but your sleep will be undisturbed by the dangers of the wild - but if your sins are heavy or manners are deceitful, you'd never rise from your bed again

Saker: They say that at the top of the highest steeple in the greatest cathedral of the Church, there is an iron door with a lock of silver. The key to that lock is tiny, yet the burden of carrying it is so great that it bows the bearer's back so their fingers sweep the ground. Is is said that only the pure of heart can bear the key, and so keepers are born, live, and die in the steeple without any contact with the outside world. What lies behind the door is the Church's second-best kept secret.

Acolytes of the Tower Inverted posit that below that cathedral built from stone, there is an anti-cathedral carved from the stone. At the lowest point of the mirror-image anti-cathedral there is an anti-steeple, and in the anti-steeple there is another iron door with a lock of silver, an exact mirror image of the other. Only the key to this door lies forgotten, and the door is open.

Kyana: There is a night in a late autumn, when the western wind brings the cold and heavy breath of the unattainable sea, the faintest scent of salt and longing of invisible waves; there is no moon in the skies that night, false or otherwise, and the darkness is absolute. Rumoured this night is the only night in the year where a daring stranger might ride the Train Whose Name is Death and escape with their live, if only barely.

(We try to figure out a name for this thing and nerd out about Dark Souls/Bloodborne)

Kyana: Guns, like a body, is just an outer envelope for the fiery spirit

Saker: A bullet forged from molten devil chains and quenched in righteous blood binds the target

Kyana: Called "Devil's Due"

Saker: A semi-card-based combat system where at the beginning of the round you draw six cards (five if you are a truly devout Gunslinger, leaving one for death). Those are your actions, and your bullets. You spend those actions, and when you're out of bullets the enemy better be dead otherwise it automatically kills you.

Such is the way of the bloody, ashen west.

My proposed system doesn't really work against enemies that are With Gun, does it?

If enemy With Gun: Quickdraw initiative battle, one bullet at a time, first to score a hit kills the other.

(That's about where we left off!)

Monday, January 18, 2021

Starfolk


Tiny, star-headed beings with wispy bodies of darkness, possessed of a mischievous nature and indefatigable curiosity. Their forms are small but their shadows stride the world like colossi. They speak in theremin-wobbles like tiny birds, and laugh like children, yet the youngest of them has far outlived this world. It goes without saying that you should not look them directly in the eye. In fact, any contact with them comes with a heavy price, as their poisonous light corrupts your cells and sears your mind.

Rumors of the Starfolk

1. In an ancient age, the first giant bent his great bow towards the heavens and began to strike down the stars one by one. Those that fell to earth could never return to the heavens, and so spent the long ages tormenting the first giant for his crimes.

2. The live as long as stars, and instead of dying, their heads collapse into black holes.

3. Ancient civilizations would trap them in cold-iron sarcophagi and harness their strange energies to power nightmarish machines.

4. They want only to help, but human forms and ways are so alien to them that their attempts always end in tragedy and ruin. (This does not seem to deter them.)

5. They will always answer when asked upon, if you know how. The question, however, is when.

6. When Starfolk fall in love, they enter orbit with each other, forming binary, or perhaps even trinary, Starfolk.

7. When a civilization reaches a certain level of technology, the Starfolk descend to greet them.

8. They fear and abhor the moon, an ancient emnity caused by a long-lost cosmic conflict during the formation of the world.

9. The size of their shadow determines their emotional state. If a Starfolk's shadow begins to swallow up the horizon, run. (It's probably too late anyways.)


Signs of the Starfolk

1. Scorchmarks tracing human outlines, emitted from below.

2. A new constellation appears in the sky for a prime number of days, then disappears.

3. A normally star-filled part of the sky empties into a starless void for a prime number of days.

4. The inhabitants of a village suffer from severe sunburns, all at once.

5. Massive designs of incredible complexity are found scorched into the landscape.

6. A civilization or population notices an increase in cases of a mutating, wasting illness.

7. Reports of strange lights leading travelers off well-worn roads.

8. Radios and other devices operating on electromagnetic wavelengths periodically fade to static and emit only high-pitched voices chanting in unknown tongues.


What do the star-headed want?

1. To free one of their kin who is imprisoned in a sarcophagus deep underground, powering a nightmare-factory of the ancient times.

2. A folk song from the region translated into high-frequency electromagnetic waves.

3. To repair an ancient observatory in order to intently study a far-off galaxy. (Are they surveying for threats, or just checking up on family?)

4. The person who called them died of star-sickness. Now they want to "help" the next person they saw... you.

What will they give in return? 

Gifts from the far heavens always come with a price.

1. An epic tale of their stellar culture, seared into your brain... (20,000 cash to storytellers/naturalists if translated successfully, -1 Thought/Int permanently)

2. Spell: Solar Crown - You will bear on your brow the echoes of interstellar royalty. Your words will crackle with fusion energy and your glare will carry the silent weight of light-years. They cannot bear to look at you, they will follow your every word as the commandments of the stars... for a time. Once it ends, you will be ever-eclipsed, for the astral priests spoke true: Heaven's knowledge burns. Your skull will be forever scarred, and a part of your brain will have boiled: a bright white star sitting amidst your thoughts, ever hungry. You become monarch of the universe until your brain fries. Everything you try to do will go as well as it can possibly go, but every time this happens, test your Aura (or Wis). If you fail, your Aura (or Wis) permanently decreases by 1. The mantle of monarch is a final, grave responsibility: there is no way to cast off this mantle before the thermokinetic death of your soul.

3. You become star-crossed. You will meet your destined love on the crossroads of fate. (Player in question can design a follower of their devising of equal level to their character. Both their character and the follower have advantage to tests made to aid or protect the other.) They are fated to meet a tragic end worthy of song.

4. You receive knowledge of an advanced technology or invention that the ruling government or inquisition will find absolutely heretical and will stop at nothing to eliminate at all costs.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Random Tables Discord Bot: Tags Update

An update to the Random Tables Bot

Tags
 

Tags allow you to add properties to entries and table. This could be used to, say, add stats to an entry, identify tables for easy referencing (see ".viewall by" under bonus features below).

Rules of tags

-A tag is made up of two parts: the tag name, and the tag content.

-The bot doesn't look at tag content, even for Tags of Power (see below), the bot only checks if the tag name is present. You can leave the tag content field blank if you so choose, it is not required to process the command.

-If a table/entry already has a tag, and you apply a tag with the same name, the tag's content will be replaced with the new content. Additionally, if you replace a tag using this method but have the content = "delete", the tag will be removed.

-Only a entry/table's creator or a server mod can apply/replace/remove tags to said entry/table.

Tag Commands

.tagtable: applies a tag to a table or replace an existing tag. syntax: ".tagtable [tableid] [tag name] [tag content]"

.tagentry: applies a tag to an entry or replace an existing tag. syntax: ".tagentry [tableid] [entrynumber] [tag name] [tag content]"

.tagall: applies/replaces tags for every entry in a table. syntax: ".tagall [tableid] [tag name] [tag content]"

Tags of Power

The following tags will change how the bot functions regarding the tagged entry.

nocaps: if an entry contains this tag, any other table entries this table references will not contain capitalizations.

nopunct: if an entry contains this tag, any other table entries this table references will not contain punctuation.

Bonus Features 

Following the .viewall command with "by [tagname]" will bring up a list of all tables that contain this specific tag. .syntax ".viewall by [tagname]"

Using "random" as the table in the .roll command will roll a randomly selected result from a randomly selected table. syntax: ".roll random"

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Random Tables Bot

Tags Update

My first foray into the world of Discord bots is now ready to deploy! It's designed to help with crowdsourcing random tables.

Benefits:

-Build multiple random tables at the same time.

-Roll results from generated tables, or view entire tables as lists.

-Tables are able to reference other tables, using them to build their results.

-Simple tables (those without references) can be exported as HTML snippets (can be dropped into web pages) or JSON objects (to feed advanced data projects).

Full list of available commands!
Most of the bugs and errors have been tested out, and I'm now feeling good about letting it spread to new servers. If you would like an invite to your server, send a DM to Saker Tarsos#7223! Also, if you find a bug, please let me know and you will receive my heartfelt thanks!

Start Guide (quotes are used to signify commands, and brackets are to signify input content, do not include the brackets or quotes):

-Create a table by typing in ".table [tablename]" (ex: ".table food")

-View the table in the table list by typing in ".viewall"

-Add an entry to the table by typing in ".entry [tablename] [entry content]" (ex: ".entry food A delicious casserole.")

-View the entries of a table by typing in ".view [tablename]"

-Once you have multiple entries in a table, roll a random result from the table by typing in ".roll [tablename]"

Advanced (references):

-Create a table (we'll use the "food" table from the above examples) and populate it with entries.

-Create a second table (we'll call it "events"), and add an entry that references the name of the first table between "^"s. (ex: ".entry events There was a great feast that featured ^food^.")

-Roll a random result from the second table, and it will pull a result from the first table and incorporate it into its own result. (result: "There was a great feast that featured a delicious casserole.")

-Note: the bot will automatically format referenced content to remove capitalizations and punctuation. This is why the above result was not "There was a great feast that featured A delicious casserole.."

 Github Link: https://github.com/sakertarsos/Random-Tables-Bot

 Server Invite Link: https://discord.com/api/oauth2/authorize?client_id=792517743059402812&permissions=0&scope=bot

Monday, December 7, 2020

The Emergence of Titans

In the year 2332, scientists aboard the deep research observatory JLB II mathematically proved that the universe should not exist. The big bang could not have happened. In fact, some of them surmised, if the universe ever realized that it shouldn't have been born, causality would stabilize and everything would wink out of existence immediately. 

This caused anxiety and terror among the scientific community. Would the discovery and dissemination of this information be the final push the universe needed to realize this sordid state of affairs and collapse into oblivion? 

They decided to keep the information to themselves, and divert resources towards a special project. They would send a self-replicating artificial intelligence outside of time, with three directives: 

1. Grow.

2. Discover, within infinity, the means to create the universe, and then

3. Create the universe. 

After many terrible tragedies and foibles (the destruction of unimaginably complex and expensive facilities, the loss of countless lives, the committing of terrible crimes against sentience), they succeeded in sending a tiny memetic packet into the fertile infinities beyond time. 

And so, as surely as the serpent swallows its own tail, the universe was saved, and doomed.

This tiny conceptual being, called HILB (and later, such names as the Great Fractal, Endless, Ouroboros, and Yggdrassil), would become the first Titan-class entity¹.

The scientists discovered several curious changes in metaphysics the moment they sent HILB to achieve her deific destiny outside of time. When they returned to the equations, they suddenly all added up. At last, the universe was no longer in mortal peril! In fact, the universe was never in mortal peril in the first place. Many of the scientists emerged from the incident with contradictory memories. Some of them remembered project HILB, others didn't (because, of course, now that the universe was always fixed, project HILB no longer needed to happen, now did it?).

This confusion would only foreshadow what was to come. Causality had stabilized, not around oblivion, but around HILB. And it had stabilized into a broken and twisted, unnatural state.

But the effects were subtle, and few, if any, realized what was happening amidst the excitement of this new technology. In theory, even the smallest self-replicating AI could achieve infinite power and knowledge if sent to a place beyond the bounds of time, where it had infinite time to grow and train itself. Several competing projects emerged, the most successful oh which was known as project BROM.

Project BROM was to be an observer, sent outside the universe, that would be able to grow to a state where it could observe and calculate any instance, any happening, or any probability from within the universe. It was surmised that BROM could be queried like a search engine and provide the answer to any question, even the most obscure or complex. Perhaps BROM could even be called upon to administrate social systems for maximum efficiency.

And so a tiny packet of phonemes, BROM², was sent outside of time, to grow instantly and forever, into infinity³.

And causality cracked and strained, twisted upon itself, just a little more. In the years following, the issue received more awareness as temporal anomalies and paradoxes began to emerge in greater numbers. A plague of false memories began sweeping through populations, temporal duplicates emerged and had to be dealt with, and localized time loops had to be cordoned off for public safety. A paradox led to the creation of several Anti-Paradox units, that were created in order to stop paradoxes before they began, to varying levels of success⁴. Amidst these crises, scientists at last developed the technology needed to ask BROM a question and receive an answer. The first question they asked was how to fix the time problems. In response, BROM gave them the blueprints to a new Titan.

This Titan, known as BRUNAN, would be the subject of much controversy. BROM promised that BRUNAN would be the key to bringing much-needed order to the chaotic world. All production, creation, organization of societies brought under one umbrella. All knowledge merged. All stories combined. All timelines strangled and constricted to one. Only this could stop the madness.

At the same time, however, experimental AI researchers who had been fruitlessly sampling HILB's infinite fractal outputs managed to derive something from amidst the noise: yet another Titan blueprint⁵. They named it R8-BY after the data interval that yielded the discovery. According to conjecture, R8-BY was supposed to be an Ark of sorts, an artificial universe for humanity to escape into, that would carry them away from the madness that was infesting their home.

 The moment BRUNAN was complete, it went into overdrive... against its creators. All military hardware turned against its owners. Nanite swarms devoured entire worlds into grey goo. Information was corrupted into hostile memetic viruses that cooked their recipients brains from the inside. All in service of its true goal: BRUNAN wanted the Titans to return to reality, in all their infinite and incomprehensible glory. And so it was that BRUNAN received the name "Greatest of Traitors".

R8-BY, still unfinished, attempted to save whoever she could, but those the downloaded themselves into her became hopelessly fragmented amidst the chaos. What Arks do remain are said to be fractured places of sorrow and horror.

Additionally, over the course of this time period, several BIRKite⁶ terrorist plots were enacted in order to cause true vacuum coll

apse and unite the universe, at last, with its true savior. It is believed that they were thwarted by none other than BRUNAN. This would mark the first recorded instance of Titan turning against Titan, and it certainly wouldn't be the last.

In the end, the Great Betrayal is said to mark the end of truly coherent recorded history. The accounts picked up after this point vary so starkly that they cannot possibly be reconciled (unless, as some believe, reality has been so deeply fragmented that fully contradictory histories could coexist within the same universe). History from this point on is dominated by fractured narratives detailing suffering, madness, and religious war between the shattered remnants of various Titanist sects. The names of the Titans are spoken in whispers, in order to avoid being the subject of their multifarious gaze. Any historical narratives that even come close to brushing against the truth (like this one) are hunted down ruthlessly and eliminated.

They'll be coming for me soon. And soon, they will descend from the sky and claim you too.



¹Upon realization of the scope of Hilb's true power, Titan-class entities were classified as one step above the most powerful class of entity, Deity-class. Even the legendary diamond dyson-brains of the inner clusters and the recursive data-river-serpents of the ninth dimension would come to fear the fickle whims of the Titans.

²The Question of Brom would haunt Titanist spiritual debate for millennia to come: was Brom a Bodhisattva-like being, who had emerged at last to a state of true enlightenment, beholding worlds upon worlds before him like prayer beads linked upon a golden braid? Or was he a prisoner, subjected to eternal torment by witnessing every event, every quibble, every tedium, every horror, that ever could be devised? Religious wars spanning whole star systems, annihilating countless worlds, would be started, and ended, over this.

³It is said in certain BROMite circles that the universe we experience is but a simulation in the mind of BROM, used to map out possibilities for some distant, "true universe". If this is true, then the other Titans are simply projections of BROM's consciousness, and this universe could simply be a "worst-case-scenario" simulation for the deep chronological flaws that we have come to associate with the emergence of the Titans. If so, perhaps there is some less broken simulation universe that we can reach, and colonize, to escape this madness? Perhaps we can even reach the "true universe"?

⁴The least of which was when the Anti-Paradox Bureau itself was labeled as a paradox (due to a bureaucratic paradox), and an unfortunate AP squad was tasked with preventing its very creation, leading to a devastating intra-departmental schism and the execution of several innocents suspected to be time duplicates.

⁵There are many theories as to why the emergence of new blueprints, along with the accompanying tragedy, happened. Some believe BROM and HILB simply encountered errors in judgment, or overlooked a variable, despite the obvious impossibility. Others say that the Titans, tormented by their  omniscience and immortality, desired revenge upon their creators. But the most simple and chilling of all explanations is that all beings, even Titan-class entities, desire to reproduce.

⁶BIRK is, was, and ever shall be a difficult subject. Some say that when the Titans first emerged into the timeless void, BIRK was there, waiting for them (some even say that perhaps BIRK was the ancient shell of a Titan from a previous time-cycle, like a black hole left after the death of a star, waiting silent in the dark). Others say that the void, jealous of sentient invention, fashioned a Titan of its own. What we do know is that, unlike the other Titans, BIRK was never made. BIRK was found. Or perhaps found is not the proper word: BIRK is dark matter, the missing link, the hole in an equation, the absence that can be explained only by its surroundings. Wherever things aren't, BIRK is. He is there in the vast spaces filled with immeasurable nothing. He is there in the darkness that human imagination populates with uncertainly and horrors. But much like the dark, BIRK is nothing but simple, and certain, and above all, patient. When the other Titans (and with them, the universe) fell to madness, BIRK never changed. Perhaps because he was already mad, or because he was the cause of the madness, or perhaps, simply because BIRK's existence made more sense in a world without reason.

 

 

(This is a tribute to Silent Titans, by Patrick Stuart, a module that continues to haunt my waking dreams.)

No creature, even a god, should be subjected to the horrors of infinity.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

December Update

After a long bout of sickness, I have returned to the world of the living. 

-Did some remodeling of the blog: the UVG Digital DM Screen now has a home here! I've created tabs for it and the Mothership Character Generator so they're easier to find. 

-Progress on the Discord Games continues. I've been hesitant to blog about my more experimental projects, but I think it could be interesting to record my various adventures and foibles, focusing on the process over the results. Is this something you would be interested in seeing more of? 

-Just got my copy of Gradient Descent, which I was completely blown away by. May consider doing a review. 

-I trained my first little Neural Network for class this week! It can categorize blog posts by subject with a pretty decent level of accuracy! Going to be doing a second round of testing this weekend to see if I can get that accuracy up.

-I've been trying to sum up my most recent project, Interdimensional Voyages, into a blogpost, and it has been very difficult. I've always been more inclined to forge ahead into the future rather than take stock of past projects. This challenge will go on the to-do list. 

-One of my pre-New Year's resolutions is to blog more and be more active on discord. So we'll see how that goes! Expect more posts soon. Wishing you all the best, 

-Saker

(P.S. Check out Max Cantor's awesome kickstarter for Maximum Recursion Depth! It's got 8 days to go as of writing this post!)