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Very Different Places RPG

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Canton - A sovereign settlement that exerts control over a single land. A city-state.

CATO - Crystal Assisted Takeoff. A dangerous maneuver in which a rig pilot will detonate some of their explosive crystals and then ride their shockwave for a quick takeoff, boost in altitude, or change in vector.

Coach - Detachable container holding passenger and cargo, that does not normally open to the rest of the ship. Heighliners will occasionally carry coaches from enemy lands in adjacent slots in a state of truce.

Crystal - Raw crystals grow at the ground level from a few species of deep flora; they can be refined to remove their toxicity and in this state are used as sources of heat, and as fuel for psi abilities. Named crystals are refined crystals that have had psi performed on them directly; they carry the psi imprint of a crystalsmith's will in order to manifest it later, either with a slow release or by shattering. Crystalsmithing involves "teaching" a crystal an intention, emotion or quality through psi effort. Crystalline rocks are called gems, so for example, you can have a quartz gem, gem glass etc.

Direct Control Frame - Emergency control system in a ship which allows all functions including engines, buoyancy, steering, etc. to be run by a single person, usually the captain. This method of control is too exhausting for normal use. The pilot is trapped into a special position equipped with heel and toe switches for engines, levers and switches for gas and vector controls, a steering wheel, etc. Some direct control frames feature tactile feedback; it's not too rare for captains who use their DCF a lot to develop feelings for their ship.

Flicker - A one-person balloon made of stretchy rubber, filled by an inflatable lifting gas charge. Kills one's momentum in all direction, leaving them floating and ready for pickup. Expensive versions have multiple charges. Also called a Cloudhopper.

Gas - Without a specifier, lifting gas used in ships. With enough power, it can be extracted from air. What identifies a proper ship from a balloon is the presence of a gas scoop, engine, and control surfces.

Ground - The very bottom of the world, usually covered by thick xenofungus, hybrid plants, or noxious fogs. A very dangerous environment that is seldom survivable for long periods of time. Raw crystals are harvested here; the alien ecosystem that is developing on the low grounds can also be a source for rare ingredients. Beware the giant bugs, mindless alien footsoldiers, and most anything that moves.

Gyrokopita - A popular form of ready-to-carry meal, usually sold dockside. The canonical variant consists of a meat pie, Enotrian-style lamb in the pie, and a spanikopita (spinach pie) as the lid to the meat pie. Easy to carry, cheap, and nutritionally complete. Each port has its own variant, usually depending on what meat is available and what spices if any go with the greens.

Heighliner - Extremely large ship, often a patchwork of additions built around an ancient lifting engine. They are the size of small lands, and are considered as sovereign entities. They are often strong enough to remain still inside the Slipstream if pushed to full power. Effectively, heighliners are mobile cantons; rumor has it that the Tsuxis have been rebuilding and refitting one as a battle station, but given the glacial pace of their construction, and their convolute bureaucracy, it is likely nothing to worry about.

Hostler - Service crew at a ship dock who is land-bound rather than traveling with the ship.

Klick - Less a measure of distance than of power consumption; generally understood to mean roughly a hundred meters in a dogfight and ten kilometers in cruise flight. A short distance.

Land - A mountain or small plateau that is tall enough to reach the Slipstream's middle layer; habitable land that can be accessed without protective gear. Singular noun: a land, two lands... A land is what most people think of when they mean home, terra firma, terrain.

Launcher - Any delivery mechanism for projectiles that can be used with crystals. The usual launcher looks like a bow with a pneumatic mechanism attached to it, and is also called an airow (some types can shoot conventional arrows and grapples as well). Slingshots, pneumatic throwers, and pyroarms are also used - launcher is the generic term. The fanciest crystal launchers just shoot out the crystal's energy (yay old-timey scifi blaters!)

Level - Altitude sub-band. There are eleven standard levels between ground and space, three per Slipstream layer and two in calm thin air above the Slipstream. Levels 0 to 2 are generally the province of submersibles, and tend to be opaque and toxic. Levels 3 to 5 (clockwise Stream) and 6 to 8 (counterclockwise Stream) are where most aerial activity happens, with the middle level for each stream directions having the stablest ley lines. Levels 9 is the thin layer just above the Stream and is generally calm, and still reachable by a significant number of ships, although powering to it is expensive - the expression "being on cloud nine" has taken connotations of serenity in addition to euphoria. Level 10, also called the stratosphere, is much taller than the others and thins off into space; it is only reachable by a few ships and fewer rigs. The upper limit of level 10 has been raised as aeronautical technology improves; space is used in common parlance as "too high to fly into". High-altitude observation balloons generally cannot carry much more than a passenger with a camera and are not controllable, but can go as high as thirty thousand meters. Stratospheric currents are very fickle but very fast.

Ley - An air current that is stable enough to be reported on a map. Leyline maps are not hard to keep up to date, but knowledge of temporary current can give a courier or smuggler a huge edge over their competitors.

Plat - A human born in the Plateau region. Most are Tsuxi subjects, but not all.

Psi - The ability of a sapient being to influence their surroundings through mental effort; in general, affecting the physical universe requires great psi strength, while affecting another brain requires great psi finesse. Only very minimal psi ability is required to activate crystals. The conscious use of psi is generally referred to as magic.

Raptor - Any living creature that can fly and that is large enough to pose a threat to people or rigs.

Rig - Any airworthy vehicle that operates on aerodynamic principles, whether by wing or rotor. Most rigs tend to carry one to three people and be fast and agile; most properly constructed rigs are fast enough that they can go against the current. Big rigs are used for fast, premium transportation of people and goods between neighboring land.

Ship - Any airworthy vehicle that operates on aerostatic principles. Generally slow, they are usually designed to use the Slipstream's currents and eddies for movement -- ships tend to stick to known-good "canals" of steady air currents. Ships handle the heavy loads and long hauls, and have been around for far longer than rigs.

Socket - A simple crystal-powered fuel cell, usually barely more than a box with thermocouples in it, that generates electricity. Due to relatively low availability of metal, long wire runs aren't common and most electrical devices are powered locally; small waylights and the like generally use windmills and flywheels.

Stomp suit - Protective garb designed for use on the ground. Depending on its sophistication, it can allow safe sojourn from a couple hours to indefinite. Streamie - A human born in the Slipstream region.

Submersible - Ship equipped to operate in the lower levels; it generally can be made airtight and features a reinforced envelope. Often, but not always, too heavy to operate properly in the upper layers. Most submersibles are used for crystal harvesting.

Synchro - Any device that can run unattended by virtue of getting its timing from the Synchro Beacons; the pulse is received electrically and generally acts on a clockwork mechanism by means of relays. Intermittent waylights are a type of synchro, so are radio relays and self-opening doors. Calculators or looms need an operator, so they are not.

Tal - Copper and silver are recognized as the international medium of exchange, largely due to a good compromise between weight and utility in industry -- this has however made it very difficult to build electric grids in most lands. A tal, probably from tally, is a generic term for the value of a small copper coin -- different lands have various official names for their money, but it's usually a matter of a different person's face being stamped on a coin of the same size. Metal shaving happens, but stamped denominations are usually trusted; large transactions happen by weight. A few lands use paper money, but with the exception of Elvitan credit notes, paper is generally worthless outside of a particular canton. Tsuxis use ration chits -- part of why paper money is mistrusted.

Viking - In the Slipstream, it's a verb, meaning to go pirate for a while, usually out of nihilism or existential anger. Even some Sky Knights are known to have viked for a while, usually in their teenage years. "Viked" is used instead of "vandalised" at times, particularly over morse.

Vortex - The wall of miasma, dust and lightning that forms the outermost part of the Stream. While the Vortex is not a hard-and-fast barrier, few things can get very far into the strong wind. Daring traders hop into the Vortex to achieve great speeds, with some making it back to tell the tale. The Vortex extends up towards the stratosphere, and is the main reason why a large part of the planet's geography is unknown. While technically the known world is obviously inside the Vortex, in common parlance "into" the Vortex means trying to exit it, and viceversa.

Waylight - A skyward-pointing beacon that marks a coordinate of navigational interest. Usually built by the Elvitans and operated by the nearest canton. Synchro Beacons are extremely large Waylights that set the clock for smaller Waylights and allow for reliable navigation.


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Page last modified on May 19, 2016, at 05:18 AM