Monday, January 25, 2016

Nuts & Bolts #64 - Skyward, a Recursion for The Strange

Switching things up this week ...

I created this recursion as part of my Cypher Live discussion of Worlds Numberless and Strange this past weekend with +James August Walls and +Ryan Chaddock . Jim created Sea Lion Abby, and Ryan created Dead Drop End (forthcoming) as part of this exercise. We hope you enjoy our efforts, both the show and these recursions. 

And for my regular readers, the Story Seed you'd normally get today will post on Wednesday and be set in Skyward, please enjoy, and let me know if you would like to see more...


The skies are blue, the clouds are fluffy and white, and the wind carries with it the sound of diesel engines. Life in Skyward is lived in among the clouds. Airships, planes of all kinds, and grand floating platforms all struggle daily to stay afloat. Down below there is only madness and the Black. All around was the Blue, and above the Bright. None know what happens to those who fall into the Black, or those who try to find the ground, but neither are ever heard from again.

Skyward is a recursion of endless skies. Planes and airships traverse the blue moving between the Terraces, platforms of various sizes that keep themselves afloat by unknown means. If not for the Terraces humanity would long ago have died out. These ports contain the only known remnants of earth that allow for food to be grown, and are one of the few places where water can be reliably collected. The inhabitants use food, plant, and animal refuse to synthesize diesel fuel to power all manner of aircraft. The Terraces are also the only places where aircraft can be built, serviced, and launched. In Skyward control over the Terraces power.

The inhabitants of Skyward know that resources are finite, and that any lost ship or man is gone forever. Aerial combat seldom involves firearms, and only rarely do planes get shot down, for anything that falls into the Black is irrecoverable. Instead acrobatic flight and daredevil boarding procedures are the result, with men and women trying to hijack planes in mid-air, or larger ships using cabled harpoons to physically ensnare smaller planes.

Worse still is the well hidden fact that some of the Terraces are beginning to fail, and fall into the Black. Those in power are doing what they can to hide this fact from their people and their enemies, while also beginning to consider the need to capture other Terraces from their enemies. War is brewing in Skyward, a war over what little resources remain.

Hearsay in Skyward:
  • Land Ho! - A pilot trader has found actual land, rising up out of the dark in some far flung part of the sky. If true this could mean potential for new resources, and for a great deal of power to those who control them. 
  • From Above - Rumor has it that the Bright is becoming less so, as if something were blocking the light from above somehow. Somebody needs to fly high out of the Blue and find out what is happening. 
  • Salvage Rights - The Terrace of Iron Falcon has put out a bounty on “salvaged” enemy aircraft. Of course the only way to salvage an aircraft is to board it and kill its pilot or crew. Is the risk worth the reward? 
Level: 3
Laws: Mad-Science (diesel-punk)
Playable Races: Human
Size: apparently infinite, actually several thousand square miles
Skills: Skyward Navigation
Foci: Collects Bounties, Pilots Aircraft*, Fires a Blunderbuss**, Steals, Leads, Looks for Trouble
Connections to the Strange: Fly downward long enough into the Black and you can emerge directly into the Strange … but getting back into Skyward isn’t so easy.
Connections to Earth: Occasional translation and inapposite gates open within cloud banks high in the skies.
Trait: Graceful (+1 speed pool)
Spark: 15%
Inspirations: Tailspin, Waterworld, Mad Max, Crimson Skies, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, other pulpy tales of airships

Notes on Foci:
* Pilots Aircraft is a simple reskin of the Pilots Starcraft focus from In Translation (pg 69)
** Fires a Blunderbuss is a reskin of the Fires a Blaster focus from In Translation (pg 46)
As a note, projectile weapons tend to be resource heavy because you often cannot recover the projectiles. As a result firearms in Skyward are much less advanced and common than one might expect. Characters who take the Fires a Blunderbuss focus are some of the rare few who know how to use their weapons for best effect and are willing to deal with the high cost of ammunition and fuel (blunderbusses use a special form of kerosene infused black powder), as well as the potential for sending enemy pilots spiraling down into the Black where their planes and gear cannot be salvaged.

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