Monday, 3 December 2012


This post at False Machine reminded me of noisms' recent suggestion that "Creating a truly new monster is difficult, and perhaps impossible". I thought I might have a go at it.

A noö-braner is a trans-Euclidean being able to bleed freely across any and all dimensions in pursuit of hylozoa. It tracks likely targets from dimensions largely beyond their own, initially inserting only quanta to scan, later perhaps more complex observational and manipulative tendrils from multiple points. Having identified a potential node, a noö-braner strikes from within, either endowing an awareness which extends via the noö-braner and all existing nodes, or altering awareness if a similar being has already entered.

It's a lifeform Mr Lovecraft might recognise, or possibly a distant cousin of GW's Umbra.

It doesn't seem to need stats, and could be best used to bring elements of a landscape to life, to modify mental and spiritual attributes, or psychic or magical ability, or to allow lifeforms to draw on deeper resources. Individuals and units with a heightened sense or advanced sensors could be allowed a check to observe those tendrils before the strike.

For wargaming, you could look at the 'compromised' idea from the GM substitute deck.

For tactical roleplaying, a noö-braner has no real lair, its treasure is the awareness - but could be the recognition of the awareness - and lots of rumours are already out there...


John Till said...

This is quite good. I suppose a creature of this kind could bring a weapon or a treasure or an entire dungeon to self-awareness, which might be interesting.

John Till said...

As well as the Lovecraft angle, this could also explain things like the Presence - the semi-sentience of the Zones touched when something alien passed through, as depicted in Tarkovsky's "Stalker"/the Strugatsy Brothers's Roadside Picnic.

Porky said...

I like the sound of all of that. It could be fundamental or transformative in any fictional world it was used in, a kind of enabling force. It could be that the number and nature of the beings connected to a node, and the number and nature of the nodes networked in this way, account for a large part of the behaviours and forms of consciousness in that world.

garrisonjames said...

An excellent Creature/Power/Influence...thing. This reminds me of some of Hodgson's more nebulous menaces, perhaps in an immature/unrealized state. It could also be the psychically active collective consciousness of very well organized bacterial colonies...which is a shuddersome thought.

This is a great example of the stat-less monster that we've been talking about lately. Rife with tons of potential, loads of implications, heavy with relevance and completely without any need for the usual numbers or statistics to get in the way of it. Excellent stuff.

Porky said...

If the both of you like it, all is very well. I feel that shudder too. I heard only today the idea that every cell is its own intelligence.

Statless is a good way to go. So many systems. Have you read this?

garrisonjames said...

Have you read This?

Every cell being its own intelligence reminds me of Mr. Crowley's analysis of the Goetia. It also recalls a certain group who base their doctrines on the work of a particular pulp writer whom I will not name so as to steer clear of people who are entitled to their views, even if they sometimes don't particularly care to extend the same courtesy to the rest of us.

The cellular intelligence thing is hinted at in HPL's From Beyond, even more so in the Movie. (There is a more recent animated short film as well: Here.)

As for the whole stat-less thing...all systems enforce some level of conformity with a set of assumptions intrinsic to the whole functioning as a 'system.' Consider random generators. They're not random. Not really. They are programmed and limited only to the options pre-loaded or provided by whomever built the table(s) involved. 'Variegated' or 'selectively morphing' might be better choices of terminology. They work fine for what they are. Using them to explore a setting is an interesting idea we've been examining.

We've been working with one system (Labyrinth Lord) for a while in order to see just how far it can be taken. But even so, our worlds/settings are bigger than any one system. The stuff we build for any one system is always a reduction, an adaptation. But not everyone does things that way...

Porky said...

I wonder now where the major inspiration came from. I think it must be the quantum mind thinking, that consciousness might be best described by quantum mechanics. If you also assume the many worlds interpretation, there could be a fine portal in it.

"From Beyond" is another one of those stories where the central conception makes the rest feel like padding. It's still bang up to date, which could mean our world is getting behind the times. If anyone reading this hasn't read it, click through at least the fourth link in Gj's comment and take a few minutes to ponder the essence.

I've never seen that film, or even heard of it that I remember, but it's more likely I will see it now. While I hadn't thought of possible physical transformations, or even a visible physical form for the noö-braner itself, the potential could be there, and the brevity in the description allows for it, another good reason to go brief.

Random generator loading is an absorbing thing. It's hard to look at any table without thinking how much the form offers. You're doing inspirational things with yours, from the subjects, through the tone and specific content, to the linking between tables and out to other sources. The nature of Wermspittle is there in the more complete suggestions, and the implications, and the complexity in the interactions. With the Worldboat tables I played up another area of the potential, breaking up the final result to get number and breadth of options over ready depth, assuming little about the setting beyond the possiblities of the scale of the cosmos. Beyond even this set of fairly different approaches, there's a huge amount more can be done, maybe many things never done before.

Thinking of game systems as reductive is key. A system might open doors, but generally - if not always - those are its own doors, and it may well close many others. System can be divisive on a larger scale, and many other more common reductive approaches may have the same drawback. But we couldn't be that stupid, right?