Carrion Birds Update #2
I was hoping to have Carrion Birds out by today, but it looks like it’ll probably need a couple more days of work. It’s not that far from being done.
I just want to add some more setting stuff that I was leaving out.
My goal is to have the text done by tomorrow (I might finish it tonight, but only with a herculean effort), and spend Tuesday doing the layout.
I had 48 hours of incapacitating migraine pain (something I haven’t had in years), so it’s not as far off my projection as normal.
The Setting of Carrion Birds
Carrion Birds takes place in the 1910s and expands from my velotha’s flock content I made back in 2018.
One part that I’m very committed to is the idea of were-ravens in a Miltonian arrangement with the devil trying to pull shenanigans. However, I don’t really expand any metaphysics beyond that. One of the “rules” of my world is that the devil cannot influence people in ways they don’t invite on themselves. There are ancient pagan relics that have supernatural powers but no demonic supernatural beings (though possessed mortals are another things) and no non-demonic supernatural beings (G-d is non-interventionist except in subtle ways that ruin the Adversary’s plans).
There are no other magical beings in the universe, except the things that chase the were-ravens from their home dimension.
I’m not really anxious about avoiding continuity errors. There are certainly a couple minor changes, especially to add the korakthrope clans from the unpublished player’s guide to accompany the three that were in the original velotha’s flock book. Carrion Birds is explicitly more canonical than velotha’s flock, should the two ever contradict.
The actual timeframe is identical, at least as far as I remember. Korakthropes had been in our world about 200 years as of velotha’s flock, and Carrion Birds is more or less a hundred years before that. I don’t set that time in stone, but by the 1860s the korakthropes have spread to all corners of the world.
One difference is that while I had originally barely sketched out korakthrope society, I have gone into some detail about how most korakthropes live. The flock, the collective entirety of korakthropes equivalent to “humanity,” has split into roosts, which are an analogue for both nations and cities, since korakthropes always raise their young in roosts but also migrate back to roosts yearly for meetings.
Though there are korakthrope “clans,” the term is an archaism that dates back to their original world. Although clans have implications for the abilities of a korakthrope, they may mingle freely in roosts and they usually pass from parent to child. However, spontaneous emergence of other clans in offspring is about a one-in-ten event, usually with the “Exile” clans (the three not in the original core rules) being the result, but also recessive heritage of Old World clans coming to the forefront.
I avoid using the term biology to describe korakthropes because they are explicitly supernatural, and the clan descension process is part of this.
When I ran velotha’s flock there was never any difficulty in coming up with ideas for conflict, but I want to lay out some meta-conflicts that characters can take part in.
Although clans are not necessarily the social boundaries of the korakthrope community (barring initial skepticism of the Exile clans), there are sometimes rivalries between roosts.
World War I takes place during the timeframe of Carrion Birds (and was the inspiration for the game’s name). A consequence of this is that many roosts in Europe must move to avoid conflict, since juvenile korakthropes cannot pass themselves off as human like full-fledged adults can with their shape-shifting.
Korakthropes avoid revealing their nature, even though they do not have an inherent fear of people when taking human form.
Another element of this is to make explicit the conflict between the Adversary and the korakthropes. While it’s not a direct conflict, the arch-devil Delilah is a constant thorn in the flock’s side, subverting or destroying any were-raven she catches.
Last but not least are the vengeful god Kelö-ur’s incursions into our world. His minions tend to be spirits rather than taking their true monstrous forms, but this does not make them harmless. Scratching in the walls, whispers in the back of one’s skull, and sudden bursts of calamity are their calling cards, and they have successfully destroyed roosts in both our world and the Old World.
I wanted to avoid explicitly making our world too much of the focus of the supernatural elements. There isn’t some conspiracy or cabal of supernatural korakthrope-hunters, though a few eccentrics may seek to prove the truth after being exposed.
This doesn’t mean that there aren’t events that the player characters might intervene in. I chose the 1910s partly to make this fair. While the American Civil War would probably be the last time you could have a real advantage, given the advent of rifling and repeating firearms as a battlefield weapon (of course, repeaters go further back, but they weren’t battlefield standard and had disqualifying limitations).
Part of the appeal of the 1910s is that it was a truly revolutionary time, not just in literal revolutions but also as social changes added up. I don’t think there’s another decade of the 20th century that rivals it, in part because things happened in the 1910s that set the stage for a lot of future changes.
I also just think it’s neat.
As such, whether or not players see action in the big events of history is up to the Narrator, but there are still lots of changes going on. For instance, the 1910s gave us the toggle light-switch, the mass-produced Model T, and other modernities.
It’s also the end of true monarchy in Europe (ignoring the constitutional monarchies that were primarily just figureheads in some countries), which is a pretty major thing to live through and has some major implications for korakthrope society, which has likewise been pretty centralized around key leaders.
Although this won’t make it into the game, most roosts start dissolving by the late 1920s. The korakthropes are simply too numerous to stay in touch with each other world-wide, and by the time of velotha’s flock there are still circles of korakthropes that meet up and serve the functions of roosts but the larger international or nation-scale roosts have vanished to be replaced by more regional groups.
An update on Kenoma is also in order.
I haven’t made a lot of progress on the writing front, which is going slowly due to my urge to just get done with Carrion Birds.
I have, however, finished the “base” of a map that will serve as an illustration for a number of things. It shows Alcove’s three blades in their current configuration, and I’ll use this as the basis to make faction maps, display other details, and so forth. It’s also in vector format, so I can zoom in and use portions as the foundation for other maps, though the level of detail is low enough that this is probably not too fruitful.
More important is the fact that the new ideas I have should be pretty easy to execute on and make the game feel more full-bodied when the time comes to actually play, especially during the character creation process.
I’ve made the executive decision to be less aggressive with the initial release of the core rules. I’m moving the release target to the end of June, so I can have something polished and well-tested prior to release, though I may still be finishing major sections at that point.