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Very Different Places RPG

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Relative ease of travel and low population numbers, plus the shared consciousness of a near-extinction event in the recent past, have caused human culture to homogenize somewhat over the centuries. There are essentially two languages spoken in the habitable world, one of them being Tsuxian and the other having or needing no particular name by reason of being used through the Slipstream universally. Different cantons have different dialects, generally having made up words as shorthand for local events or phenomena -- palio for pylon-style horse race in Enotria, windtrap for turbine-powered atmospheric water extractor in Zoroas, and so on - and there definitely are different accents that make it fairly easy to tell one's land of origin, but a nontechnical conversation is universally understandable through the Slipstream.

Probably owing from Morse code shorthands, while the alphabet has not changed since the Invasion, in handwriting and even in some publications separate symbols for common words exist; while even the most backward Tsuxian or Bergstraz peasant is literate, some symbols are specialized and used only in technical papers; that said, a dictionary of symbols is generally no further away than the nearest library.

Tsuxia effectively has its own peculiar dialect: the alphabet is the same, but most shorthand symbols are different and the language has had a thousand years in which to evolve differently. Tsuxian official speeches are surprisingly brief, snappy, and remarkably unambiguous -- Tsuxian language developed to have all words which represent unpopular, heretical, or politically incorrect ideas made long and hard to pronounce, and has succeeded to some degree. This hasn't stopped the Tsuxian populace to develop their own humor and double entendres, of course. A well-educated member of either society will be able to read a text from the other with no special training, although a lot of nuances will be lost (to a Tsuxian, Stream language is often very ambiguous, which is occasionally pointed to as proof of the hybrids and invaders' treachery; the other way around, words like celespeak and crimethink require some knowledge of Tsuxian culture) and listening to speech at regular speed will convey little but the general meaning.

A few pre-Invasion texts are known and have been propagated through the generations; notably, original (or at least pre-Invasion) copies of Jovian and Olympian myths are known and kept; the adventures of Odysseus or of Mamed are universally known and performed as plays even in areas where they aren't generally considered religious scripture.

While Slipstream culture is homogeneous when it comes to most practical matters, entertainment and local color is as varied and mutable as the mists; other than maybe a dozen great classic authors and composers there really isn't such a thing as a global celebrity, and just because, say, Dionna Celian commands a great audience in Cascadia it doesn't mean she won't be upstaged by a local band when performing in Midya. Someone visiting a land will find it familiar enough to get by, but different enough to be able to tell the difference -- even so, proper culture shock tends to only happens to farmers on vacation. For example, it is nearly unthinkable for a man other than the father or husband to strike a woman in Enotria, or for Cascadians to just up and join the sort of brawl that would likely occur in that case. Different lands have vastly different approaches to law and order, respect for the weak or the elderly, and customs such as time and number of daily meals or preferred types of music.

Due to the low fidelity and weight of records (recording crystals exist and are extremely good, but also insanely expensive; for disc records, oddly enough the "Voyager Golden" 16 2/3 RPM playback rate standard is honored even by the Tsuxians -- they of course claim to have invented it) live music is preferred whenever possible, and most pubs and taverns will keep basic instruments on hand for patrons to give a whirl to. Motorized instruments exist, most notably guitars, pianos and violins; the good ones use crystals and a simple but perfectly tuned mechanical-resonance circuit, while the cheaper ones use electrical amplification. Synchro pianos exist but are usually found in low-class casinos and such places; synchro drums are considered more acceptable.

All this said, there are a few customs that are pretty much universal within the Slipstream, barring Tsuxia. One is that if there are time and resources for a funeral after a death, it must be conducted accorded to the deceased's faith even if none of the survivors agree with it. For example, Zoroans will, perhaps cringingly but near-unfailingly, recommend a soul to Luna if a Selenite dies in their midst, and so on. Another is the Right of Departure: anyone who is not convicted of a crime may leave their land with three days of rations and two changes of clothing, regardless of debts owed -- the assumption being that they'd be able to hitch a ride somewhere else within three days. Originally intended to curb the impact of feudalism, this custom has generated some strange fraud laws and a lot of dodgy repossession services.

Skyknights squadrons, once the pride and spearhead of a canton's military, are now mostly a matter for singers and the occasional fic reel, but there has been talks of reestabilishing the tradition in a more modern form; on smaller lands, what full-time militia there is may be locally known as the land's squadron.

Across the Slipstream, "play ball" refers to a sport hybrid between pre-Invasion soccer and rugby, in which players may touch the ball with hands and feet, but generally not run while holding it; cantonal variations include armor, wingcape use, size of the goals, and so on. This is popular simply because the "ball" can be anything from a pumicoid shell to a bundle of rags, and the goals can be marked with whatever is available.

Overall, the Slipstream should feel like visiting a different country -- the basics are recognizable, but there is some divergence from the familiar.

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Page last modified on October 10, 2014, at 02:46 PM