Endless Blue – Week 01 – The World of Endless Blue   4 comments

Life Began in Water…

Expansive oceans forming an endless horizon, Elqua is a swath of pristine blue waters. Seas teaming with varied life ranging from the microscopic to beyond gargantuan, races of intelligent life both clinging to archaic ways and embracing new concepts, and island archipelagos sparsely dotting the world, Endless Blue will be a distinctly different world with boundless potential.

The purpose of the Endless Blue campaign setting is to provide a truly aquatic-themed world for players and game masters to explore. While most ocean-themed supplements are more a conglomeration of sailing ship rules spruced up with water-breathing analogs of surface races and a little pirate slang thrown in for atmosphere, Endless Blue intends to present a true “underwater world” designed from the bottom-up.

To accomplish this, there will need to be a few intrinsic rules that will help define the mood and direction of the setting:

1. No Air-Breathing
All life in the currents of Elqua is solely water-breathing creatures, especially intelligent life. On this world, intelligent life sprang up beneath the expansive waves. It grew and evolved without breaking to the surface due to nearly borderless seas and bountiful ocean resources. Crossing the boundary from the water onto land is fundamentally the quickest way to violate the integrity of the Endless Blue setting. This means that even if a creature is mammalian based (such as the Mer) they will lack the ability to extract oxygen from air. Though this may cause some anachronisms further along in development, it is perhaps the primary, most fervent law.

2. Life Is Not Always the Same
As a fan of both speculative evolution and role-playing games, I hope to marry the two together into a relatively seamless whole that balances the species we already know with new ideas that will give Elqua a significant feeling of an alien ecosystem. There are volumes of folklore pertaining to the denizens of our own world, and it would be a shame to waste that communal knowledge and symbology. But that doesn’t preclude the addition of new creatures and new associations. The intent is to develop animals and plants unique to the setting that, through text, come to be identified on their own merits.

3. Genre Neutral
The majority of information on Elqua and the Endless Blue setting will be done in a genre neutral way, eschewing commitment to any one rules-set. Some things will be presented in fantasy game terms (such as classes) and others in science fiction terms (satellite orbits and planetary ring), but overall no text should be too heavily enmeshed in rules text that its basic information cannot be extracted to other game systems or genres. This may result in sections of information that will be useless in a fantasy game or inapplicable in a science fiction game, but overall should provide a more rounded, more vibrant setting.

4. Magic Exists, But Is Not Prevalent
While most of the setting presented will try to be genre neutral, there will need to be some concessions in order to effectively integrate the use of magic with a scientific world. The power of magic will be lessened, limited to a more direct, personal interaction instead of the wide swaths of destruction that has become expected from practitioners of the mystic arts. Sea monsters of epic capacity will roam the oceans, but sylvan spirits like nereid or fae will not exist. As a result, the Endless Blue setting will have a low magic yet high fantasy feel.

5. No Need For Fire
Perhaps the greatest obstacle to the formation of civilization, fire does not “exist” on Elqua. Instead, other methods will need to be used in order to achieve the equivalent end result that normally would be achieved with fire. Manipulation of heat and chemical reactions will be the tools of progress for underwater races, and will affect countless aspects of daily life such as shelter, construction, and even cooking. But even those methods pose unique challenges when the surroundings are completely submerged.

6. Single Races are Multi-Cultural
A distinct attempt will be made to present races as more than a stereotypical caricature. Ethnicities are an imperative for all races in a setting where diversity in flora and fauna is as extensive if not more so than on our own world. Just as species of fish have become numerous and varied, so should the intelligent races. Most will have at least two ethnicities if not more, and culturally they will have complex political and religious histories. Even the “human-equivalent” Mer will have multiple ethnicities, with visible differences that make them distinct.

7. Combat
In nature, the predator vs. prey dynamic is constantly in effect. As civilized as any race may be, invariably there will come a time when one individual will need to fight, be it for protection, survival, or simply to feed. Beyond tooth and claw, weapons will be the next most common tool used for this result. However, due to the properties of water, soldiers swinging swords and warhammers is difficult and hampers the effectiveness of the weapons. Thus, combat will be limited to weapons that can be thrust with relative ease in the various vectors around, above, and below the individual.

8. The Rule of 8
More thematic than anything else, there will be a cultural emphasis on the number “8”, from the eight notes in musical notation, through the spectrum of visible light under the waves, to the eight vertices in a mathematical cube of three dimensional space. The Fibonacci curve of a nautilus, the radial symmetry of octagrams, the number of bits in a byte, the cardinal and intermediate directions of a compass, even the Kraken/Ceph themselves, all will have strange connections to this numinous value.

These inviolable laws have many repercussions that will be addressed more closely in subsequent posts. Over the next year I intend to regularly publish material pertaining to the world of Elqua and the Endless Blue setting. My vision of this water world has some concrete concepts, some nebulous ideas, and some gaping holes that will be explored in enough detail to entertain but not give away all the secrets. Hopefully future submissions will bring my ideas together into a fully realized world that intrigues and challenges the imagination.

William James Cuffe

Posted January 1, 2010 by William James Cuffe in Endless Blue Campaign Setting

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