Cybrine Dreams Update 2
Been making steady progress, though a lot of it is going to be redundant with the stuff in the previous update so I’ll just hit the new highlights.
The World of Cybrine Dreams
The Cybrine God is a massive entity, both a superstructure and a character. Its body is large enough to serve as the focal point for all the action in Cybrine Dreams.
There are generally six sorts of regions that the players might encounter.
A Spectral nexus is one of the most magical parts of the setting from the player characters’ perspectives. The Spectrals are superhumans like great heroes out of mythology, and their association with the Cybrine God makes them nearly deific in renown and stature. They are alien to the primitive humans, which they call prims (the name has come to be adopted by the prims themselves out of reverence for the Spectrals without realizing its origin) due to their extreme age, but use them to gather resources from the surrounding territories without risking the exposure to technology or radiation that could corrupt them.
Each nexus is built at a hub that looks out at the distant sun, and the area surrounding this hub has massive honeycomb-like structures that are the body of the Cybrine God. These are referred to as the godlands, and host enclaves of the Cybrine Cult. The Spectrals come here often, and they are as close to a land of milk and honey as anyone could expect. The cost is having to be perfect in the eyes of the cult, since any interlopers are quickly banished or executed.
The outlands are established as a quasi-feudal patchwork of territories with networks of merchants who carry information. The Cybrine Cult sends preachers to indoctrinate the outlanders in the teachings of their belief system, and also appoint the dukes who rule over the territories. Most of the outlanders are farmers or herders, though some artisans, mines, and pre-industry is scattered throughout in hamlets. Unlike the feudal system, most dukes hire mercenaries from the Cybrine Cult’s militant orders instead of fielding their own personal armies.
The dim is the area past the outlands where farming becomes difficult. People still live out here, but settlements are smaller. The Cybrine Cult may send preachers by, and their doctrines are still well-known, but they compete with bandits and blasphemers. Most of the dim is unsettled, and many places are either too hot and bright or too cold and dark to be comfortable for travelers.
Fractures are beyond prim habitation. There may still be humans out here, but they’re disconnected from the light of the Cybrine Cult. Out in the fractures, the soil of the earth gives way to nothing but the bones of the Cybrine God. In places these plunge hazardously like cliffs, giving the regions their name. Warped and terrible creatures live out here, as well as tribes of cannibals and hostile peoples with strange languages and traditions. Even the exiles don’t go this far from civilization, but some scavengers and pilgrims do.
The scrapheaps are mixed in with the dim and the fractures. They have vast seas of discarded or destroyed artifacts, with dunes of alloy cresting over poisoned water and layers of sediment filth. The scavengers who live out here are brave or stubborn, but a good find can set them up for life if they negotiate the right price. The Cybrine Cult forbids blasphemous technology, so it must receive consecration before being brought into the outlands, making for thriving business and a surprisingly heavy presence of the cult in the settlements. Ancient machines lurk in the shadows, but they are usually little threat.
The Player Characters
All of the PCs in Cybrine Dreams are draughtlings, meaning that they have consumed the nectar of the Cybrine God and will enjoy extended lifespans and functional immortality as a result.
They still are going to die, though there are rumors of ways out of this, including a pathway that results in them becoming a Spectral, one of the favored agents of the Cybrine God.
They’re also able to gain some powerful special abilities as a result of dilution, the process of remaking that the draught brings on. While it will ultimately kill them, they don’t have to worry about that unless they die quite a bit (the fastest speed-run-to-permadeath setup is two unrecoverable bodies, which admittedly can happen fairly easily). A lot of these special abilities make them even more durable, which is helpful for preventing character loss if a player is really averse to it.
Combat is brutal, with damage equal to the attacker’s relative success over the defender. PC hit point pools start out around 30, which sounds high until you realize that an undefended hit can do 10-25 damage even from relatively weak attackers. A sword-and-board armored combatant can typically soak 10 damage or so, but might wind up taking a lot of hits they don’t want to take.
One mechanic that represents social hierarchy is a Status rank. For all PCs this starts at 4, because those who drink the draught are automatically considered the chosen of the Cybrine God. Some NPCs have a higher Status, such as dukes and high-ranking members of the Cybrine Cult, and PCs can boost or reduce their Status during play. This is important, because the Cybrine Synod can lead to exile or death for a character while also opening doors to influence in a world where the PCs are often far from their usual connections and few people have much knowledge of the world beyond their local settlement.
Kenoma’s still coming along. Character options are fun, but there aren’t any so interesting that they deserve their own spotlight.
One thing that’s nice is that the system is very mechanically-driven rather than case-driven, so some of the wild things like powered armor just work without me having to do much more than make a special quality for any benefits they provide beyond protection and mobility.
This is actually the opposite of Cybrine Dreams, where almost everything is built to be an interesting use-case because I have such a small numerical range of probabilities and I can’t toss a bunch of bonuses without diluting the card values.