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Thread: Improvidence: An Exercise in Exploration

  1. #1

    Improvidence: An Exercise in Exploration

    Across the horizon of imagination, where fantasies and horrors alike are redefined in ways never understood before now, there lies a city-state named...

    --An Exercise in Exploration--


    Objective: To create settings and concepts never before imagined as a writing exercise. To clarify, this thread should attempt to be the following:

    • Original - Above all, the best effort should be taken not to be familiar and not include things already done in fantasy, science-fiction, horror, or the like. For instance, no elfs, dwarfs, orcs, dragons, gods, ghosts, vampires, or other established non-humans, even if yours are different. Ideally, we're making something new, so avoid things that can be considered to match one or more genres; simply mashing genres together is not enough to count. This exercise isn't simply about avoiding or subverting relevant tropes, though a mindful note of some fantasy and horror story conventions helps. Be wary of writing wish-fulfillment. The sole exception, so as to aid in allowing readers to identify, is anything based in modern reality, though even that should be used economically.
    • Setting-driven - This thread is a writing exercise and not a story or character-driven narrative, and should be written more as an exploration into various settings and concepts than as a story of one or more particular characters. As with above, be mindful of story conventions for settings and the like. A 'documentary' or similar account of a famous figure and how they shaped a particular setting or concept is the acceptable boundary for this thread. Should writers wish to create a narrative out of elements from this thread, please start a new thread and link back to this one to credit the source.
    • Liberating - Improvidence as both a setting and a thread is designed with the intent of exploring new ideas and not to constrain new ideas. Therefore, so long as they are not familiar or story-driven, they will be accepted in this thread, even if it contradicts something "already established" and breaks believability. Writers are free to attempt to reconcile contradictions so long as they do not explicitly ignore or reject anything previously written. Reconciling contradictions is not required for this thread.

    We will all fall short of the ideals set in this thread, if only because it is practically impossible to be original, setting-driven, and liberating all at the same time. So, when we do fall short, we'll accept it, and we'll move on to try our best to praise each other when we do reach the spirit of the ideals. Writers are encouraged, though not required, to expand upon each others' ideas so as to better avoid the familiar, character-driven, or constraining. Posting original art is more than welcomed, whether the art compliments written work posted or stands on its own.

    This first post will be updated to add clarifications and address any questions that are asked regarding the nature of this thread. With all that said, please post as much as you like!
    Last edited by Gebohq; 11-11-2013 at 03:35 PM.

  2. #2

    An Introduction to Improvidence

    For even the longest-dwelling of residents -- as well as the passage of time can be defined -- the city-state of Improvidence presents itself as a challenge in navigation. Its landmarks are often in flux, with the most well-established of improvinces shifting in shape and source if not disappearing altogether. Non-euclidean districts such as the Kata Parabloc are only part of the reason a person may experience a sensation of walking around in circles. However, most of even the newest tourists find their way around, thanks to both help from strangers and from the few landmarks which everyone can typically rely for guidance.

    On one side of Improvidence, the Portale opens its hand to many who come and go. Lining its fingers, docks and stations and runways harbor a myriad of vessels: passenger flighs which buzz and skitter through treacherously colossal expanses of the zyvrose, cargo llows which dive and follow the flow of eams, and even reserved blazedrives where the nomadic Imagi can sear themselves back into existence upon arrival. From the Portale, a newcomer may need to adjust from the disorientation, should they gaze towards the rest of Improvidence with notions that it should have a top and bottom or an absolute ground level.

    Stretching across the opposite end of Improvidence are the Trock Wastelands, separated in part by a spine of upside-down mountains known as the Vrith Range. While many enjoy the thrills of shirling down inside the anti-mountain slopes, or relaxing with a float down the Ouvi River as it flows through the range with the great crystal-clear ceilings high above, few enjoy the temptation to trek into the Trock Wastelands and discover what lies beyond. The founder of Improvidence, the late Zosonov, was the sole survivor of an expedition to the other side, to which she reported in disappointment to contain the same familiar desolation as the rest of the Wasteland. Despite this knowledge, the allure to find something beyond Improvidence often draws those with limited vision to try.

    And within the very center of Improvidence lies Void Park, the small and solitary space left undeveloped by any person, or by any force, or by any known understanding of existence. The park, fragile against even mere observation, remains guarded by the Void Rangers appointed by Improvidence officials. For the few who are able to gaze, whether legally or not, they leave unable to describe the impact the experience leaves them with, and even the highly decorated knoghts, accompanied by their asquires and gnosts, are hard-pressed to acknowledge its mark on them.

    Improvidence, at its heart, is not about the Portale or the Trock Wasteland or even the Void Park, but rather, the kaleidoscopic sights founded by its vast number of immigrants, some of which only stand for the briefest of moments. For the meek humans of Earth, who by accident stumble into the city-state through the hidden wonder of their world, they deem Improvidence as a melting pot of cultures they could never conceive of before, both fantastical and horrific. For the rest, they deem only that little in Improvidence can be taken for granted.
    Last edited by Gebohq; 03-17-2013 at 04:13 PM.

  3. #3

    The Monument to Scian Queskno

    Down archaic arcades and past kaleidoscopic canals of liquid crystal, under a sky of stark blue traveling through one district and shimmering jet into the next, just beyond the gateway into the Improvidence Station which houses the knoghts on duty and borders the Kata Parabloc, the sole monument to Scian Queskno can be seen by all. In this city-state, where a metaphor can become manifest and the material can be a state of mind, a mere statue could be considered mundane. Resident knoghts and impressionable visitors alike often miss the subtleties that mark this monument as one of the key works of art and history in all of Improvidence.

    On the surface level, the monument only loosely resembles the figures it is meant to represent, carved out of indigenous vrith stone in a fashion almost primitive. The prominent figure, larger than life and seated square on top of a primal and antiquated gnost, clearly captures the characteristics of the first knoght, Scian Queskno: his unique scraggly chin-beard shaped into a vain point, his frame hunched in seemingly lack of discipline, and his head held tall in apparent arrogance. The grip of his measure, these days now only a ceremonial item given to those who become knoghts, is held almost careless in his hand, the edge of the measure level and forward towards the entrance of the station. To his side, nearly an afterthought, is the much smaller and stouter figure of his companion and first asquire, Kidaughter Tist, staring up in awe towards Queskno. Etched in Old Scapran at the bottom, an inscription reads "Go forth to find truth."

    Many of those whom the monument had been made for would rather it not exist at all, and even skilled artists describe the work as rough at best. For most of those belonging to the Kata Parabloc, the statue is a testament to everything sacrilegious of their beliefs, an unholy adversary that attempted to spread doubt and claim what they know to be absolute and right to be relative - in short, the embodiment of the order of knoghts that they quarrel constantly with between their borders. For most of the knoghts, they see Queskno as only an early footnote, someone whose flawed ideals they've evolved beyond, and a monument which in intent resembles too closely to worshiping falsehoods wrapped as mysteries. In fact, their current philosopher-king and Chair of Maticum, Certiorari the Fourth, when denied by the Improvidence city council to tear it down on grounds that it had become public property, secretly ordered the local knoghts to destroy the monument, only to discover the next day the statue standing whole again. Most knoghts recounting this tale chalk up the reappearance of the statue to the non-linear flow of time in Improvidence.

    Other subtle details which raise unanswered questions can be noticed upon further study and research. For instance, Scian Queskno himself carved the monument, the last among many artistic schematics and models far more technically superior in craftsmanship and innovation. Were it not for this perceived stain that highlighted what modern knoghts consider his flaws, the order which Queskno inadvertently founded would consider him a respected renaissance man. Another observation includes the fact that vrith stone, when exposed to moisture, will turn transparent over time, yet the monument remains as black as it would have been when first carved a millennium ago. The last curiosity frustrates learned minds since generations past. The measure held in Queskno's hand points out of the station and down an arcade, which for the vast credible majority leads to a dead end. For a select few, however, going down the arcade from the monument leads them into the heart of Void Park. Only their word ultimately confirms this claim, though, as any attempts for others to follow or means of recording result in running into the dead end, and no reproducible method as of yet to follow has been found. Were it not for the former Philosopher-King Sapientia the First counting himself among the random few, the order of knoghts would have considered this claim a foolish fantasy appropriate for Queskno's reputation and dismissed any further study.

    One human immigrant recently remarked that, unlike other knoghts they had seen, Queskno resembled less like a warrior and more like a scientist in a lab coat. The immigrant also noticed that Queskno's measure resembled less a weapon and more a meter stick which, from the point of view of Kidaughter Tist at nighttime, denotes a length between the only two static stars in the heavens. The same immigrant, when asked if they would go down the arcade the statue's measure pointed towards, vehemently declined, admitting a sudden irrational fear that they felt they would certainly die upon entering the corridor. To the defense of the immigrant, the arcade itself is blinding white when there is light and pitch black when there is not, and a sign posted by the Improvidence Council reads "Do not enter" -- a message which many disregard.
    Last edited by Gebohq; 11-10-2014 at 03:32 PM.

  4. #4

    The Neoriginal Horror of Highchain 40

    Due in part to the evanescent landscape of the city-state, the face of Improvidence shifts in countenance, often bearing wild emotions which flow from puzzling to pleasing to painful, paradoxically both pure and perverse in its character. When Improvidence smiles warm, the residents spoon in the bliss of its embrace, and when Improvidence smiles wicked, they shudder in anticipation of its abuse. At least one terror, dwelling within its borders, clings from outside Improvidence, from the depths between the infinite towers of a city visible on the horizons of the Trock Wastelands: Neoriginal City.

    To reach an understanding of the Neoriginal horror within Improvidence, an understanding of Neoriginal City must first be held. In many ways, the city adopts what Improvidence does not: a glorious stability in purpose, an established appeal of character, and an astounding scale in construction which remains fractal in its familiarity - a familiarity that pervades throughout the Wasteland. Those who first visit Improvidence commonly gravitate to settle within Neoriginal City, including many homesick humans. The foundation of the city's history reflects this trend, with its founder believed to have been human himself. The born-and-bred Neoriginalitans, for their part, give little consideration for Improvidence as they wrap themselves in their own great affairs, grabbing only onto the occasional newcomer out of a fleeting fancy to assimilate them as one of their own, dismissing the rest of Improvidence as queer or quaint. And when things native to Neoriginal City claw too deep into Improvidence, snagging hard and sometimes stuck in place, the scarring wound known as the Neoriginal horror lingers across the streets of Improvidence.

    The deepest of the scars, where the Neoriginal horror bares open the most, lies upon Highchain 40, known also as Old Trock Road. Highchain 40, technically a two-way thoroughfare with intervals of medians, divides Improvidence as a clear-cut line from the Zenith Pier of the Portale, through the Void Park, and past the Vrith Range to Neoriginal City. Those who use Highchain 40, though, almost always travel one way only and with one destination in mind - towards Neoriginal City. Most all others take great pain to avoid using the road itself, using bridges and underpasses instead of crossing the road itself. The most vicious occurrences of the horror, when Improvidence's wound tears fresh, follow immediately after the rare times those from Neoriginal City visit, whether because word of a new improvince or due to waging war with a distant empire. While the Improvidence Council does their best to guard against such times, resistance means little against the might of those from Neoriginal City, regardless of their number or intent. The knoghts who have not dismissed the Neoriginal horror as mere superstition are forced to gather information second-hand from accounts of the few residents unlucky enough to experience the Neoriginal horror themselves.

    While the accounts vary in some detail, certain elements are consistent across each recounting of their experiences. Upon the time of their encounters, the senses of all the victims are impaired due to environmental conditions, typically that of fog. In all accounts, the road remains empty of anyone else nearby. At first, the sensation to turn trock-bound wisps gently by, forming comforting wordless whispers that pull enticingly at them. Given time, the force builds, and the effort to cross transforms into wading across wild rapids or traversing beside a precarious chasm. Turning trock-side sweeps the victim almost against their will down the road. The victims, drawn towards the consuming fire that is Neoriginal City, describe the moment as akin to a child's need to run out of a dark room to hide under the constraints of a blanket, or as the inevitable freefall from too hard a climb. No victim felt they were able to turn against the tide, to perceive towards the invisible force itself. Most victims of the Neoriginal horror die from falling off ledges or apparently throwing themselves against a sharp corner of a wall.

    While the knoghts attempt to hypothesize rational theories based on the concrete evidence provided, most residents of Improvidence have their own ideas as to what the Neoriginal horror is exactly. The human owner of Newhere's Delicatessen in the Terratown district claims that the spirits of those who have died on Highchain 40 haunt the road, doomed to lure others into the same terminal fate. Most of the Lement people agree that the victims of the Neoriginal horror were themselves captives of past Neoriginalitan violence and thus mentally unstable. The ministers of the Kata Parabloc profess that the deaths are a sign from their higher power that the residents of Improvidence must change their ways and heed their teachings. Whatever the truth is behind the Neoriginal horror, it rings disturbingly familial from its roots foreign to Improvidence.

  5. #5
    Virgin Fleet Admiral
    There is an odd phenomenon in parts of Improvidence known simply, and mysteriously, as "the Crimson". There is no physiological sense that can detect it, including the 5 that humans of Earth possess or the 11.2 senses owned by the nomadic Imagi. (NB. The interested reader may find a full account of the 11.2 Imagi senses, and the means by which those senses are shared and divided decimally among the Imagi as part of their familial lineage and barter systems, in the Logorium branch on Highchain 40.) Many people doubt the Crimson even exists.

    For lack of a better term, it is an intangible field that morphs and moves inexplicably across districts of Improvidence. Its size changes, its location changes, and often it is simultaneously within two noncontiguous districts of the city-state. Its defining feature is the utter lack of import which happens within its area. That is, nothing important ever happens within an area encompassed by the Crimson. No one ever proposes or marries for example; no dire economic downturns or rampant booms occur either. For some, this is regarded as a blessing: parents of mammalian species allow their young offspring to go out on dates within the Crimson, secure in the knowledge that no first consummation will occur; adult lovers can celebrate their trysts without fear of unwanted impregnation; and for races that fear death, such as humans and gllongiopi, that death never comes. For others, however, this becomes a curse: their grand dreams will never come to fruition; their lives will never be anything more than mediocre.

    Some maintain that the Crimson is psychically impressionable; by mentally retraining one's belief that a desired end is not at all important one way or the other, they claim, one's desires become a possibility within the Crimson.

    The Kata Parabloc and the knoghts were once in agreement that the Crimson was nothing more than an urban legend, one of the vanishingly few concepts the two parties agreed upon. However, in recent years, the knoghts have adopted the official stance that the Crimson is a real phenomenon. This is traced to the current Philosopher-King Certiorari's meeting with the Smiling Man, out of which he came visibly shaken.

    The Smiling Man is who most people think of when they remember the tale. He appears as a humanoid figure with two arms, two legs, a head, and a torso, but his limbs are those of a full-fledged adult, while his body and head/face are incredibly boyish, and sized as such, in striking contrast to his limbs. Elderly folk in the city-state claim to remember a time when the Smiling Man's appearance was inverse: his limbs were those of a toddler's, whilst his head and torso were wrinkled and mottled with age.

    The Smiling Man himself is the largest proponent of the Crimson's existence. He seems an inexhaustible font of knowledge on the subject, though he does not thrust his opinions on others, only venturing his information when asked. He seems to have a keen and exact awareness of the Crimson's location at all times, and has helpfully filed reports to district authorities when a section of their burg has fallen under the Crimson's intangible influence. Most district officials chuckle and disregard these reports, yet they remain superstitious enough to file them - just in case.

    According to the Smiling Man, the Crimson is an artifact from an axial coordinate when time, rather than flowing back and forth, ran sideways. Vehement philosophers challenge that time never ran sideways, to which the Smiling Man's calm reply is that of course it never did; "never" is a temporal term relating to the current back/forth flow (even if said flow is not always linear). In fact, the Smiling Man's appearance, or so urban legend holds despite the fact that the man himself has never confirmed nor denied it, is due to him aging sideways, turning from old-limbed and young-bodied to young-limbed and old-bodied and back again, in a constant waxing and waning.

    Curiously, the Smiling Man never actually smiles... but a rare rumor has it that, should you ask the Smiling Man just why it is called "the Crimson", you will be treated to the sight.

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