Weird Little Background Piece

15 Apr

The Roads of Happenstance

Understanding the Roads of Happenstance is a difficult task. The first step to understanding is to realise that the term ‘road’ is a misnomer. It would probably be easiest to regard the Roads of Happenstance as a dimension in its/their own right, although a very high-energy and unpredictable universe compared to our own.

The Roads of Happenstance effectively overlay our own universe. Like sci-fi conceptions of hyperspace, it is possible to use the Roads as a shortcut around the light years between stars, provided that one has a suitable Guide. Navigating the Roads is not easy, for reasons that will be described below. Disturbingly, the Roads are always imperfectly interpreted through the human mind. It is possible for a traveller to see a path through the Roads as a highway, or a steep climb (depending on the local texture of the dimension), without realising that the Roads are far more than they seem. A peaceful scene might conceal dangers beyond the ability of the human mind to grasp.

Technology doesn’t function properly on the Roads – the more advanced, the more likely it is to fail. AIs and automated sensor systems cannot operate on the Roads at all, perhaps because they have no mental filters allowing them to perceive the Roads without damaging themselves. If even human rationality falters on the Roads, devices designed to operate in one physical universe cannot cope with one that exists in so many more dimensions than ‘normal’ space.

It is intellect that allows intelligent life forms to travel the Roads. Most humans can see the Roads, even though they cannot escape the prisons their minds construct to keep them from going insane. Guides – humans with a gift for navigating the Roads – are capable of instinctively understanding the underlying structure of the Roads, allowing them to chart paths through the chaos. And Sorcerers are capable of manipulating the energies in the Roads, giving them vast powers.

Worse (from the point of view of a planet-bound civilisation) sorcerers are capable of pulling energies from the Roads into the normal universe. This allows them to perform ‘magic’ acts that seem to defy explanation, or easy countering. Iron seems to negate ‘magic’ to some degree, dispelling the Road energies. Working magic can lead rapidly to madness or death – sorcerers who make a habit of it are invariably very dangerous.

Gateways onto the Roads open up naturally or at the behest of a Guide/Sorcerer. Some gateways allowed humans from pre-technology times to travel to other worlds (and accounted for legends of demonic creatures, as not all of the other intelligent races are friendly) and establish settlements there. One Gateway flickered open and closed in the area known as the Bermuda Triangle, swallowing ships and planes seemingly at random. Most of the lost humans died within the Roads or found themselves on isolated worlds. A very few were lucky enough to link up with other civilisations.

There are very few communities within the Roads themselves. The Roads are treacherous, constantly shifting; what was stable one day may not be stable the next. Some races (including the Fair Ones and the Demons, who have entered our mythology) claim to rule large tracts of the Roads, but these claims must be regarded as highly dubious.

7 Responses to “Weird Little Background Piece”

  1. The Deposed King April 23, 2012 at 3:18 am #

    Kind of Different. Lots of different ways to go here. My question would be, does shut down and inactive hardrives and other hardware containing AI’s survive the travel. If so, you could have a quirky companion that is out of the action whenever our main hero walks the road, and also ineffective (stuck in advisor setting) on low tech worlds without tech hookups. But when our guy shows up with his sword and black powder weapons on a high tech world, he’s not as completely at the mercy of the natives as it might appear.

    The Deposed King

    • chrishanger April 23, 2012 at 6:53 am #

      Well, my theory was that tech would work fine when returned to the normal universe, so that could be worked in.

      Chris

  2. The Deposed King April 24, 2012 at 6:10 am #

    Okay so our guy starts out as a Guide. Either he’s a badass Guide or a down on his luck one. You’d have to pick.

    He moves around trading things that are low value in high tech worlds, exchanging them for things like jewels and gold, spices and addictive substances that are very valuable that he can get from low tech areas. Also if there are any materials that are produced by low tech areas that help with Traveling the Road. He probably picks them up for himself, and if he’s downon his luck, for an expedition from a high tech world. The clients are looking to simultaneously train some guides of their own as well as, send a group of scientists to anotherworld to take readings and measurements. Maybe the young ones are doubling as guide trainees and junior scientist assistants.

    So he gets what he needs to equip them.

    His AI that’s so top end on most worlds, is like a top end blackberry on the one he got it. Sure its neat and nifty and one of the top end civilian models off the shelf. But its got nothing on the real cutting edge stuff. But it makes a great companion, and downloading it with all that world’s obsolete hacking technology. Even going so far as to go to the library for what they consider nearly pre historical ancient programs, patches and downward compatiblity modifications, makes this nifty little daily companion in their world, able to hack and crack most things on most worlds.

    Eventually he can upgrade Ned when he returns to that world and goes to the local equivalent of the radio shack. In the mean time, ned is able to recharge off of a hat, jacket or jumpsuit he picked up there. It can store solar power, as well as is more effective than most light clothing. The rest of his gear can be old Drake Skin Leather. Its falling apart and anyone from the world he got it would be ashamed. A good drake skin leatheris the best but Dragon Skin Armor or equipment is the best.

    Call it Ned (my other idea was Bud but I don’t like it as well)

    Also along the way he is forced one step at a time, to harness magic to save his life. And one slippery step after another, this man who still thinks ofhimself as a guide, starts getting a darker reputation as a sorcerer. High tech goons jumpe him, in desperation he frags them with magic. Low tech guys see him slip (he was pushed) off a cliff and he uses magic to transfer tothe road and back. Demons go after his party and… etc.

    Then he could get sucked into dealing with and fighting off Elves and Demons. And everyone starts assuming he’s playing in the dirty end of the pool.

    The Deposed King

  3. The Deposed King April 24, 2012 at 6:30 am #

    Or ned could be a yard sale or junk shop pick up. Their trash is his treasure. A sack full of broken and discarded stuff from his world would be a researcher’s/developers dream come true on the equivalent of ours.

    Maybe he’s from a low tech world or one equivalent to the 1950’s. He keens most of it. But the electronic computer stuff is just too esoteric and far fetched. And he picks up the little Personal Assistant because it talks and makes good conversation. Over time he begins to realize its value. And moves from a standard midtech to lowtech run, to start including the high tech to mid tech runs. Of course changing routes can get noticed and Guides, to say nothing of outright sorcerers can get pretty jealous of their markets. Even if in theory there’s room enough for everyone.

    Our guy is a halfer. A Guide from a Culture just advanced enough to comprehend most of the high tech stuff with a little explaination, and just in touch with the basics to make it on most low end worlds.

    Eventually Ned gets a download with the tech tree development from stone age to high tech, so wherever our guy goes off road, he has an edge with Ned in his back pocket. But off road and on road are still two very different things.

    The Deposed King

    • chrishanger April 24, 2012 at 8:27 am #

      Definately a good idea.

      The short idea I had for a story was a missing child abducted by a husband intent on moving to one of the low-tech worlds – the hero gets hired to recover the girl…and the plot moves on from there.

      But that would make a good background.

      Chris

  4. The Deposed King April 24, 2012 at 11:36 am #

    What’s his motivation for saving the girl? Money? He is broke and needs a stake. Pressure? As in a favor to one of his big connections on the world she was stolen from. He’s going there anyway? and wants to do a good deed. Is the child special? Or does he have a hard on for this husband and is eager for a chance to lock horns?

    You could have a pretty self contained little story just from where you’ve got so far. I’m just curious about motivation. Depending on what it is, it introduces the character to the world, and/or leads to further development of the plot for later or not.

    Is this just a short story to start?

    The Deposed King

    • chrishanger April 24, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

      Not quite decided. Money is a good reason to get involved if he doesn’t know the girl personally. Perhaps the girl is a potencial sorceress and he doesn’t want her taken away by a wacko, but that isn’t really important.

      Chris

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