Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Seat of the Soul

Philosophy interests me and I like to integrate a bit of it into Valley of Blue Snails where I can. Admittedly I am probably doing a poor job but I have made the attempt to offer themes with a philosophical slant. Some examples:

  • Elves and Descartes dualism. The males are heavily slanted towards the mind, introverted thought and consciousness. The females far more into the body and bringing things into motions. Two must interact, yet find it an abstract affair where they just don't share the same context. The conflict here is between body and mind.

  • Another would be Dwarves and naturalism. The Dwarves see everything as a machine. The mind being no exception, it is just a machine that they do not fully understand. The 'saints' of Dwarf-kind are the very knowledge whitebeards who do understand the brain as a machine (so they think) and can replicate consciousness into machinery. Ala Golems and their ilk. Spirituality is waning with the Dwarf culture but so is their society. Some Dwarves believe this is no coincidence and perhaps spirituality is not something to be ignored. Anyhow you have some conflict between spirituality and naturalism here.

  • The Oculus is based upon 'effortless action' in Taoism. Abilities through the Oculus are actions that are more like yielding to natural force rather than forcing an action into being. It takes great effort to swing a heavy broad sword, but using the Oculus powers is easier than watching water flow down a stream. I am not sure if I captured that well in the original articles at all, so perhaps it needs a rewrite. The Oculus is intended to be a very natural thing, an effect of the Great Seasons (Estaoculus) and operates far differently than magic, battle and divine types of conflict. All who have the Oculus have their own personal struggles on how to harmonize their ability with the rest of the natural world. This should include PCs as well.

Halflings like wise have a dilemma with seeing the future and the problems with changing it. Humans are more based upon the pull and tug of civilization vs nature. On a broader level I suppose Valley of Blue Snails operates with very symmetrical themes. The major theme is seasons; four seasons which effect all races drastically. Great Season are the major events in the campaign. The seasons dictate prosperity, society and basic survival. I've thought about making the Great Season much more common, as in one after the other rather than years apart. They need not necessarily be in the order of spring - summer - fall - winter, but I think it would be interesting to have seasons that were random in order, years long, and having drastic effect as I've spoke of before (fall, spring).

Still, it feels like something is missing to bring it all together. Some harmony to link it up and bring a greater sense of a singular campaign rather than a mish-mash of ideas. I suppose a mish-mash is not all bad, Greyhawk and Wilderlands are definitely that. It still nags me though, like a constant reminder that I forgot something.

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