Monday, March 9, 2020

Garden- Potpurri

Random Tables

What weird allergic reaction do you have from eating alien food? - 1d8
[1] Your stomach feels bloated. After four days, you realize the particulants are stuck.
[2] Big purple zits, all over your face. They go away once you pop them.
[3] You cough up a weird worm creature. It tips its hat to you; thanks you for birthing it.
[4] Permanent heterochromia. The second eye color is normal for your species, you think.
[5] Your hair falls out. It grows back at an astonishing rate, but it's the wrong color.
[6] You lose all color vision and see in black and white for about three weeks.
[7] You seem fine, but get a fuzzy feeling in your fingers. Touching lightbulbs makes them flicker and radios you operate spit out static and random words. Lasts for three days.
[8] Grimly, you feel as though you are going to die for a day. Then you wake up refreshed, with a scar across your belly like a crooked smile and a newfound appreciation for being alive.

What scavenged metal is your armor made from? - 1d8
[1] Soup cans, with a smiling alien face.
[2] License plates; etched with political slogans.
[3] Like a hundred pie tins. If you look at the edges you can see the layers pressed together.
[4] Car scrap. The hood ornament is squished in on the right shoulder.
[5] Rusty bolts and nails; melted down into a smooth iron with reddish streak.
[6] Struts from a cell phone tower- found in the forests around Garden.
[7] It's a barrel, with some cut out holes and a few joints, but mostly just a barrel.
[8] Not metal, plastics. Alien superplastics. Very strong, but difficult to shape into anything but the flat plates used for armor. Lacks intricate shaping without their native technology.

What is that gangster greasing his gun with? - 1d6
[1] Bastard Oil. Claims to be made of bastard sons, just a joke, actually clam grease.
[2] Oil from the Uskar Bean. The bean is carnivorous, so its price is inflated.
[3] Midnight Vinegar. It's a common cooking and lubricating oil in Garden. Made from moonplants.
[4] Spit. And a lot of it. He's from a rather drooly species.
[5] Conductive Juice. Used in certain batteries and power facilities on Garden, toxic.
[6] Animal fat, possibly from a wild hog or street lemur.

What's the name of the Talkie you're going to? - 1d20
[1] All's Fair in Love and War
[2] The Street Samurai
[3] Silver Screen, Golden Girl
[4] Night of the Leachbear
[5] Mrrkba's Growth & Enterprise (Company Propaganda/new employee training film)
[6] Spawn of the Flapper
[7] Speakeasy Slims
[8] Sex Around the Cosmos
[9] Postman's Dance
[10] Cigar-Smoke Curtsy
[11] The One AM Man
[12] Knife Fight!
[13] Creature from Behind the Sign
[14] Mr.Gumshoe
[15] Hovercar Exhibition- Garden's Rich and Powerful show their Rides
[16] Our City Speaks
[17] Service-Tunnel Spelunkers
[18] Radio Man
[19] The Haunted Apartment
[20] Chimneys- Maintenance, Operation, Safety, and Fun from the whole Family!

Garden Symbols
Garden is a city of signs. Neon signs to advertise businesses, hand painted posters for back alley shops, gang tags, hobo signs, new arrival graffiti, and many more. These signs and symbols may have more power behind them then just chalk or paint on brick and paper. The psychic powers behind Garden may also change reality itself from these symbols, and one who learns them may be able to manipulate them beyond what seems possible.

Symbolicists (1+1 HD, +1 Armor, +2 Resistance, 1d6 Guns, Jams on roll of 1, powerful symbols)
Numbers- One or 1d4

These cultists love and study the symbols present throughout the streets and back-alleys. They appear disheveled, with poorly maintained weapons, but are quite tough due to their inner drive and fanaticism. They are not typically violent, except to those who dare to remove their precious symbols while they are studying them, or on a 1 in 20 chance they think one of the party members are part of a secret group called “The Darkeners”. The Symboliscists have no proof that this group even exists, except for the black stud piercings they carry in their pockets; said to be taken from the bodies of the Darkeners agents. The studs are uniform, made of an unknown material, and are stained with blood from different alien races giving some credence to their insane ramblings.

Beyond their innate strength and psychic resistance from their beliefs; the Symbolicists are also known to have powerful symbols that they have cultivated. These symbols are difficult to replicate, as the mind only expands in a certain way if you have the capacity for it. Even if you copy the symbol, it won't have the same effect as if a Symbolicist drew it; it is believed the Symbolicists' power is yet another unexplored facet of psychic powers. Those with capacity for psionic power but no direct mental control may manifest it instead as symbol power; similar to what is believed to happen to those who develop the murderous intent of the Slashers. The Symbolicists each know one “magic” symbol. There is no “magic” in Garden, but the powers of the mind can seemingly cause the impossible to happen. Each symbol has no effect unless the victim of the symbol can see it.

Symbolicist Symbols- Roll 1d6
[1] Stopping Symbol. If you see this symbol on a door or by a passage, you must make a save to pass through it.
[2] Carstop Symbol. If you see this while operating a car, the car stalls and requires three rounds to get moving again. Only works on hovercars, traditional engines are unaffected.
[3] Marking Symbol. This symbol marked on an object makes it disappear if left alone and unwatched for at least one hour. One day, it will be found again in one of the mysterious lockers underground.
[4] Killing Symbol. This symbol must be drawn in blood. Whoever sees it takes 2 more damage on the next melee attack they are subject to. Symbolicists are not immune to it.
[5] Sign from Above. If you can hear a radio when seeing this symbol; strange coded messages are heard in the static. Causes 1d4 Psychic Stress. Symbolicists receive no stress, instead, they write the messages down to find a hidden meaning.
[6] Power Symbol. Grants Psychic Resistance of +1 and the power to sense nearby psychics capable of manifesting a fully fledged Psychic power. Symbolicists who know this sign have it stitched on the inside of their clothes, or can draw it on their body for its effects.

Among the symbols of Garden, some common symbols are much less serious and even humorous. The most common of these “cultural” symbols is the sign of the suicidal glider. This symbol lacks much formal use among the homeless, the symbolicists, mercenaries, or even companies. It's just a sort of funny image, kind of like that Cool S shape people like. This symbol is sometimes used in advertising or as a funny background gag in a show, and one local brewery uses it on their draft.

The suicidal glider image is based on a specific alien race. The race of pterodactyl-like creatures comes from a world with a hot, very active sun. They biologically have the ability to fly there, but only when the sun shines on their skin to give them energy (they are slightly green, to signify chloroplasts) and when the day is hot enough to create thermal columns so they can rise up into the air. In Garden however, it is always night and it doesn't get that hot, so these gliders are permanently grounded here. Needless to say, the ones that live here commonly commit suicide because of this; the ones who do not commonly get their wings disfigured with aesthetic holes or just removing the skin flaps entirely. Regardless of the small community that lives here for native-born gliders that live in the city, the image of them being all suicidal sad saps has lived on and ingrained itself in the public consciousness.
Inspiration & Ideas
Originally, and in all blog posts since I've started talking about it, Garden has always had a lot of hover cars. They're the one blip of sci fi technology in the setting that is commonly used. Originally I think the inspiration for Garden came from a bit of an “electropunk” angle, and as such it sort of had flying cars as a way to really sell the idea of unlimited or free flowing electricity as the primary driver behind the entire tech level. I still like this idea. In my mind, a mental image of a hovercar with a heavy teslacoil or exposed plasma orb as the engine, chromed up hot rods made with scrap parts and raced by scrappy street gangs sticks out to me the most about the car culture.

Of course, I still like that idea, and it is also entirely possible to use electricity to power a more normal car. But I also have had idea for the otherwise; motorcars. The oldschool model Ts and other nice old cars with an open top that look more like horseless carriages with cranks on the front to turn them on. I love these aesthetically and think it would nicely smooth out the tech level of Garden, make it a little more believable that a city with black and white movies and radio as the primary form of media used these instead of hover cars. Of course this presents a problem; where does the gasoline come from? This might potentially more interesting then the mystery of where the power comes from. Instead of a single source, it comes in from a million places. Maybe some members of certain species are hunted down as soon as they reach Garden, as their blood makes a nice fuel. Maybe biofuels from vegetables grown under the moonless night are what is used, or perhaps a strange oil from beneath the earth or even from the service tunnels. Eldritch Americana (the Goblin Punch setting which is one of the biggest inspiration to Garden when I first wrote it) used blood from an elder god, which is equally awesome for this purpose.

The City & Politics & Money
Garden was always meant to be anarchistic, but the exact idea of who owned or controlled the city was a little suspect. At first, the idea behind Garden was extremely closely tied in aesthetic to the real life Kowloon Walled City; less like an actual city to a single fortress. Extremely tied knit and cramped, this would be more plausible to explain where the people of this weird dark forest dimension could actually survive together- a fortress of lights among the darkness. I decided to change this, or generally expand upon it, so I could include more types of city, more districts, more scope and scale, and so on. Of course, I absolutely love Kowloon's aesthetics- I want at least one district of my Garden to closely mirror it. It may not have been a good place to live in real life, but it's too cool not to include.

Of course, the politics of Garden had changed a lot too. From a rag tag group of survivors in the darkness to a city with warring factions. I had thought of several types of governments; from councils of city elites being the most favored and most used “in practice” to the more perpetual chaos. That's another thing taken from Bastion, another huge inspiration to Garden, to which I think I may have kept too closely to the source material at first. While I by no means think settings (or make settings) with any kind of logical realistic good sense, I do think having some sort of authority gives more legitimacy to the government of Garden.

Of course with that said, we now need to figure out who actually owns Garden. Nobody does literally, but who is the most powerful? A particularly grounded reality warper? A group of gangsters dividing the city like a pie? A megacorporation? An otherwise well meaning OR extremist government, that is powerless in the bickering city state? All of these ideas and more had crossed my mind at some point, but I think I like all of them. For sure though, the money in Garden has to be printed by someone. I always knew the money was glow in the dark, it was papery monopoly money that glowed whatever bright shitty color it was dyed, but who actually makes it?

Granny X
I still never found a good name for her, or maybe I did and I forgot it. Granny 'something' was one of the my favorite ideas for a character or organization. Once meant to be either the leader of the city, or at least an important figurehead, the idea behind some harmless old lady being some criminal mastermind and ruthless tycoon was too good to pass up. I think Mom from Futurama might have been the biggest inspiration here- but the idea isn't bad on its own.

As for this Granny character- one of my favorite first things I thought of about Garden would be what mass produced goods would people need to get buy in this city, with so few engines and productive capabilities of its own? Remember- Garden uses everything again and again, everything is scrapped. I think originally the idea was that cars weren't used in Garden because everyone's cars were scrapped to make engines for the factories- with most people getting majorly ripped off. So heavy machinery was out of the question. I think my favorite idea for the Granny character was that she was a tycoon that sold cookware. While that isn't quite as instantly recognizable as something like tobacco or some kind of drug, I think it works. Remember, everyone that ended up in Garden was lost, probably in a car or on a riding beast, so when they arrive they need to have a stocked kitchen to live off of. Without modern appliances or less of them, mass produced scrap iron pots, pans, knives, and plates would be a huge business in the city. All of them would have Granny 'x' name or symbol on them, showing her subtle power over each and every member of the city.

Some ideas for the races of Garden had come from a very, very old forum concept. The idea that humans would be visited by dimensional travelers from an alternate universe, called Ghouls. These Ghouls came from another world that was dying, and they teleported in and were essentially refugees in our world from this other realm. I participated in this thread before it died off, and the idea stuck with me, and eventually corrupted its way into something like Garden; except instead of one race it was many.

Of course, the desire to create a few set races was always there. A few different dimensions, with perhaps fully fleshed out tech levels and cultures. I let that slide by because of my love of the gonzo weirdness, and it means less work for me. Just saying “oh dude the aliens can be ANYTHING bro” is so much lazier then actually putting in some effort, which is probably why I went with that. Of course, I also once had an alternate idea to Garden. A “humans only” version of the city with people just of different timelines. I liked this idea after reading the book Wayward Pines, which has a semi-similar concept. The idea is that everyone in Garden is a person who is trapped from a different time period, all missing different people. Amelia Earhart was probably among one of their earlier inhabitants, though there could have been even older people there too, living on fire light.

Garden also went through a few revisions when it came to firearms. Some of the first ideas I was given was to make firearms ultra rare, a sort of useless weapon, due to the expense of trying to upkeep such a complex weapon with such a low tech level. These ideas didn't come from me, but from online discussion, which I didn't fully agree with. Later on, I decided to drop this idea in favor of something more mystic- guns were more like unique, quasi-magical weapons. Each one probably used its own ammo type and had a special power. The idea to make them like this is attractive, and better fit the idea of the inspiration from Goblin Punch again, but I also decided against this after writing FLASHBANG!

The idea of guns being omnipresent works to make the game more about tactical squad shootouts and big gang gunfights- less about sword and sorcery adventuring with a modern coat of paint. Not that I'm against that, that's one of the things I always wanted to evoke.

Conclusion & Author Notes
All in all, Garden is one of the my weirder and also more fond ideas I ever had. It's grown quite a lot, and the near personal level I have to all the nights spent driving home past quiet walled communities and subdivisions with their little dimly lit garden paths and atriums was a huge inspiration to the concept of Garden, among many of the sources I have listed here. It's also regrettably something I don't post about enough I think; that is partially due to the difficulty of getting art- originally I probably thought of using this blog with art made by others, until I started to use more of my own simple drawings instead. Still, even then drawing stuff from Garden is really hard. It's not generic fantasy, it's not even really modern fantasy, it's gonzo modern electropunk fantasy. That's one of the reasons it's been one of those things I feel like I don't talk about enough; it's still something a little special to me.

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