Posts Tagged ‘worldbuilding


Worldbuilding: Concordat of Lashan – Halflings


Counted among the numbers of the Concordat, though not vampires in the strictest sense, are the Halflings. Straddling the worlds of both the dead and the living but belonging to neither, Halflings are sometimes tapped as ambassadors between members of the Concordat or vampires and other creatures that walk the night. Their unique abilities and comparative weakness make them well suited to the task… and easily disposed of when they displease their employers.

Halflings, like Klameth, have suffered death. Unlike Klameth, whose souls are so corroded and broken that they either dissipate or are destroyed upon their deaths, a Halfling’s is instead unable or prevented from leaving the corpse, dragging the individual into a half-life… often unwillingly. Some scholars among the Concordat suspect this is something genetic rather than spiritual, some trace essence of an ancestor who was less – or very much more – than human; most Halflings find little interest in the subject. They live on, and that’s all that matters.

After their deaths, the Halfling’s left eye goes dead, typically appearing milky or otherwise damaged; while no longer able to perceive the physical world around them through it, their damaged eye instead provides a view of the spirit world beyond. Ghosts, haunted structures, Lashando and other things touched by the unknown and the afterlife are as real to them as the roads they walk or the living companions they keep.

With sufficient will, a Halfling can tear his way through the membrane that divides the worlds of the living and the dead, making himself physical and real to entities in the spirit realm while essentially becoming a ghost in the physical. Doing so reverses their eyesight, with their dead eye now serving as their dominant vision and their formerly good eye providing sight into the world of the living. The Halfling may return across that barrier with a similar application of their power.

With more finesse, the Halflings are capable of dragging smaller bits of the veil between worlds to them. By doing so, they can clothe themselves in ectoplasm that appears as the Halfling wishes, granting them excellent abilities at disguise and camouflage.

While having the advantage of walking in both worlds, this is not always a gift; beings in the spirit realm can interact with – or harm – the Halfling, regardless of whether the Halfling is currently physical or ethereal, meaning they must always be aware of potential threats from either direction. Likewise, they carry the taint of the lands of the dead with them into the living world, slowly draining the life force out of anything they spend too long around. Plants wither and die in their presence, small animals grow sickly and pass, children grow weary and ill, and adults may begin to show signs of advanced age, potentially even dying if they are already ill or infirm. Unlike other vampires, Halflings have little control over this and are thus unable to prevent the long-term effects on potential friends and allies. Given the damage to their environment and the forced solitude it exerts, many Halflings are nomadic, keeping bonds to given places or individuals to a bare minimum.

Unlike other vampires, Halflings are not immortal, nor are they any more resistant to injury or incapacitation than most humans. Their lifespans are extended by their unnatural hungers, but the oldest known Halfling was only a little over a century and a half when old age destroyed him; a dying Halfling creates a small scale explosion of necrotic energy, typically killing any mortal beings around it and leaving the ground unable to sustain life for many years to come. In the moment of their deaths, however, all Halflings drift into the spirit realm permanently. The ghosts of dead Halflings frequently serve as mentors to their younger brethren, or to the Lashando and Klameth who are capable of interacting with them.

Unlike other vampires, Halflings do not seem to have any association with a classical element; some Lashan from earlier ages liken them to Primus or Ether, a fifth element that serves to bind the others. Other members of the Concordat laugh off such ideas, pointing to their lack of elemental affiliation as one more symptom of the Halfling’s weak and incomplete nature. They also seem to lack any particular elemental affliction, however, suffering no ill effects if not exposed to or embracing the spirit of an element, which allows them to go about their business with more freedom than other vampires. Other members of the Concordat act as though this is of no consequence to them, but a few wonder if the Halflings are perhaps not in a state that more of vampirekind should aspire to.

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God must have had it easy. I mean, think about it; whatever supreme entity or cosmic force you choose to believe created the world, they just had to start it off with a few protozoa or a couple of humans. The rest would sort itself out.

Meanwhile, if you’re a writer and pursuing alternative histories of the real world or creating fantasy worlds from whole cloth, you have to create either an entire fictional history of that world, or discuss the changes and alterations from the point at which you decided history diverged up to the current era of the story you’re writing, whatever it may be.

I’ve discussed this before, in reference to Rotten Apple; I not only had to design the “zombies” and the stories I wanted to tell with them but figure out all the changes to human history – especially in the field of medicine – from around 1890 up to 1970, where most of the stories take place. Those of you who’ve not undertaken such a task probably aren’t aware of the ridiculous amounts of change one has to make to cover 90 years of history, especially fairly modern history. It’s not just the big things (like the World Wars) that had to be considered, but current relations between the nations, the sociopolitical geography of the world, the nature of religion in a world where the dead sometimes do walk. I also had to consider changes that would occur after that so I could tie the “current” events in the story to where I saw things going. Just in case I ever decided to push past the noir and counterculture roots of it into a more modern setting. For anyone who has undertaken such a quest and fully succeeded, I salute you; for those who’ve done even longer periods, I put you among the greatest.

For a fantasy world it’s even more difficult; for Parthenon, my ill-fated fantasy RPG world I still occasionally poke at, I had to cover 10,000+ years of creation and destruction, write the histories as they were presented by six or seven very disparate groups, then the real history that they were all interpreting differently, and then how that shapes the world of “today” in that setting. It was – and still is, when I prop up the tablet and open the document titled “Milefront Schtuff” and peck at it for a while.

That’s a whole lot of rambling that basically amounts to “worldbuilding is hard. Can I just go poke some nice, placid, plain modern fiction for a bit?” Which is exactly what I plan to do. Believe Me and “Riptide” are both owed a few chunks, I believe.

But what about you out there? Who has tackled the summit of worldbuilding, and come away reasonably unscathed? How did it turn out? How did you do it, and what methods or resources helped? Share your thoughts down below!

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