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🎨 Creative Setting riff: FTL culture clash.

jsnead

Social Justice Dragon
Validated User
#11
(How's that sound? Slightly concerned giving them too much but the Kenning and the Shaman tricks do have to equal a full space going post-scarcity federation on a lower pop density, per-person the Wataru do need to punch above their weight.)
I love it, and they sound like a perfect equal but exceptionally different/alien culture when compared to something like Star Trek's Federation, Banks' Culture, or Mimdjammer's Commonality. - given that all three of these groups have nearly godlike capabilities, the Wataru need to be pretty impressive.
 

Eled the Worm Tamer

Spider Jeruselem's Warior
Validated User
#12
So with Kenning an adult Wataru (Indeed any adult Wataru) is, easily the equal to the GC special Opps. Before a fight has started they smelt you, remembered volumes of mimetically compressed tactical data, cross reference that against every known encounter with you, and thrown it into a blender with thin sliced predictive observation. They top it with things like controlled hysterical strength, revelatory martial arts, biofeedback and body mechanics, and the most amazing false flag deceptive posturing, situational awareness and ability to make use of one's surrounds. Worse in groups they have a complex enough theory of mind that for people they know and with a clear shared objective they get the Blindsight Vampires planning without communication thing.

They can equal most field scientists too. Put a Wataru in an unfamiliar environment and they will have done the same trick from the first breath mapping oxygen levels, checking selves for the first hint of fever, studying gravity temperature and other things. Not in the abstract jargonised quantifiable ways a GC planetologist might, but simply and startlingly rapidly immersing themselves in a new environment's web of flows and connected exchanges seamlessly recontextualising their own needs to a new space.

This degree of cognitive refinement is interesting when its that defused. No Wataru has to ask another 'where were you' and they rarely need to speak 'how was your day' the forensic grade Kenning lays both out plainly. To other cultures, they seem terse, blunt and laconic. Speech is used mainly for strictly utilitarian exchanges of data that cannot be inferred, the trading of plans and goals, and for art, because most day to day 'Smalltalk' got Kenned assimilated and accounted for. Their social systems must be really interesting because ambition or choosing a valid but divergent path due to internal bias are things that cant simply be Kenned away, but the way they go about expressing and working towards these things might be very different. What does small scale tribal politics look like when every person in the tribe is capable of subliminal post-hypnotic neurolinguistic programming? What happens when more adept Kenner's abuse their power over less puissant? Is that seen as a crime, or more darkly is it just the way of things that the foolish give way to the wise as the child to parent and student to teacher? Status, dominance and competition for limited things like the attention of the most desirable mates will get intense even if the worst excesses are given negative feedback.

I can see our GC patronisingly bringing in people from their one telepathic race to try and study them and that's where the real fun starts.

See Kenning is the 'basic literacy' of the Waterau way, but they do unusually for a hunter-gatherer culture have specialists. Theres2 basic clades though there's a lot of overlap. Call them Shaman and Shapers. Shaman deal in all those things 'unseen' or 'without sensing' and tend to shorthand all those things that are invisible to organic senses and can be interpreted via desire based understanding of emergent systems as 'Spirits' be this the N-dimensional quantum psionic phenomena of songlines, exotic radiation, or germ theory. Interestingly because differing races in the exotic and far-ranging Wataru culture have differing senses the definition of a shaman can vary quite heavily. Shamanic arts mostly focus on opening up one's perceptions to the unseen and then applying kenning type methodology to them. By long-standing tradition, major world stepping or songline navigation are left to shamans and ideally experienced ones. While a fair minority of Wataru can and are encouraged to make use of minor songlines (and so form a body from which promising shaman to be are elevated, and who can lend strength for distant strides done as collective works) only an experienced shaman can, before a stepping, detect such things as an incoming gamma burst, recent nuclear exchange, volcanic eruption or other hazard at the destination and choose another path and destination.

Where a Wataru can shame the best GC scientist or special opps, a Shaman can shame the best science ship processing an epically vast and far-ranging volume of data to advise and direct ones tribe.

The other branch of specialist are simply known as shapers, though the line between 'makes a good spear' or 'has a knack for polishing pretty shells' and full capital letter Shaper is blurry. The Shaping arts concern themselves with those things the Wataru wish to do, but lack the direct physical means to perform, and are responsible for things that replace physical technology. Most of these are not things that say make a stone or Tallon tipped spear the equal to a Galaxy core Pulse Pistol- That would be seen as wasteful, and enabling lazy kenning- but are instead responsible for helping Wataru adapt to environs too hostile or too unusual for pure organism o cope with. Most products of capital letter Shaping are not mystical charms or trinkets, but chants or songs that are kept up as a refrain in one's mind and might say grant the effect, through no mechanism the GC can discern, of a personal force field, or gill system, or a microbial filter. Such chants have to be initiated by a Shaper, and then 'passed on' to other Wataru, but some simple ones, like the minor songlines, can be initiated by anyone, and these areas as with pre-shaman widely disseminated to highlight those who merit deeper learning.

(so um that got awat from me a little, sorry about the wall of text, any one want to jump in with anything on this?)
 

jsnead

Social Justice Dragon
Validated User
#13
Awesome stuff. Here's a bit of flavor text for early interactions between the Wataru and Mindjammer's Commonality:

Report On Contact With Wataru Grouping Rain-Mountain, Part 4, by Alezza-Tal, senior Sci-Tech, SCI Force Contact Bureau

After lengthy discussions detailed in the previous reports, the grouping’s “shaman”, Riypistalin politely informed up that it was time for her tribe to move on. When it became clear that she meant to another world, we were able to convince her to allow us to observe this process, as long as we promised not to interfere. Riypistalin walked to a location that she mentioned having previously noticed, and informed us that it was a “fold” that she could coax into opening. None of our sensors could detect anything different about this particular location from any around it.


Riypistalin then began singing and shaking the rattle-like instruments that we had previously identified as being made with highly piezo-electric crystals. After approximately 159 seconds, she informed us that this “fold” lead to a “useful world”, and that she could fully open it when the rest of Rain-Mountain Grouping was ready to travel. For the last 11 seconds of her “performance” membrane proximity sensors revealed a minor spatial anomaly, similar to that present immediately after a vehicle’s entry or exit from 2-Space or 3-Space. This anomaly became undetectable 3 seconds after Riypistalin finished singing and using the rattles.

The attached report by junior sci-tech Olantir details the swift and impressively efficient details of Rain-Mountain Grouping’s preparations for departure.


Once the entire grouping had assembled at the departure site, Riypistalin began a similar “performance” that was considerably longer and more energetic. After 103 seconds, membrane proximity sensors registered a similar minor spatial anomaly, which continued to increase in size and intensity over the remaining 119 second of the most energetic portions of her performance. At the end is this time, membrane proximity sensors registered a dimensional aperture similar to an exceedingly small 3-Space gateway that lead to another world with gravity of 0.73 Gs (unlike this world’s gravity of 1.09 Gs). Once the dimensional aperture was fully open, Riypistalin continued singing more quietly, and motioned the members of the Grouping through the aperture, which was (to us at least) now visible as an oval shimmer in the air. The aperture remained stable until all members of Rain-Mountain Grouping traveled through it. Riypistalin was the last through. She did not cease singing, but bowed to all of us, gave us the hand-sign we learned meant “joyful travels” and walked through, still singing. After another 21 seconds, the dimensional aperture closed. During this entire time, quantum substrate, transbaryonic, and ZIP field scanners registered no change, while tachyon sensors registered each entry into the anomaly, but provided no other data.
 

Eled the Worm Tamer

Spider Jeruselem's Warior
Validated User
#14
jsnead jsnead Great work.

Theres2 scenarios that amuse me in this at the moment, that is the actual first contact, and what happens when the nastier side of either culture is exposed.

Conflict does drive a setting and, on the one hand, your Klingons or Romulans will see the Wataru as easily exploitable primitives with a weaponisable trick while and Wataru so inclined can use the social facing end of Kenning to be a terrifyingly and abusively dominant force in a group with no equivalent defences.

First contact would just be funny though:

CG: You see, we travel between the stars in great metal ships, our homeworld is far far from here, we travel the many world many like this one many far stranger, seeking out the strange and new"
Wataru "Yes, we came from another world to this one in the past"
CG "whoa neat, you mean yuor ancestors long ago?"
Wataru "No, this wake* after rising but before breaking fast"

* Because Wataru world walk frequently the idea of tracking time by day or season makes little sense and they instead use 'body time' the equivalent of a 'day' is a wake: the time between waking up and resting, and a Sleep: the time they spend sleeping. The wake and the sleep vary between tribes and species, but most will generally track things by the body time of the lead Shaman, especially in pan-species tribes.
 

Eled the Worm Tamer

Spider Jeruselem's Warior
Validated User
#15
So I'm bored and I still think there's some meat left on these bones. I was thinking on the practical terms of Wataru kenning based culture and how it works to give them the right blend of capability to stand alongside a Federation type entity, but in their way and think I have something interesting. If this strikes no lightning will probably let the thread sink.

Aspects are a product of Shaping and litanies, a technique that uses Kenning enhanced cognition and a narrative wrapper to make it easier to consciously sustain several sympathetic shaping littanies. Each aspect will consist of a story and embedded in it, concepts or patterns that make the mental recitation of several world-shaping litanies or chants concurrently easier. Aspects are known by the archetypical being at the centre of ehe story that the Waterau seek to emulate

Most tribes based on whatever values they espouse will have a shared tribal Aspect, any specialisation of Shaman or Shaper will have a professional Aspect, difficult or specialised worlds will have them, and broader social contexts such as Mon-rewha who is life-giving, adopted to aid the sick or pregnant, and Amonkira called up in times of war.

Though no external markers are adopted, anyone capable of Kenning and familiar with aspects will know at a glance if someone is using one and its approximate nature, to the point that adopting more sagacious aspects meant to aid in solving of complex problems functions much like hanging a 'do not disturb' marker on ones door.
 

s/LaSH

Member
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#16
I too believe there's plenty of meat on these bones. I was just hanging back so I didn't come to dominate the thread; that seemed impolite.

These technically-mediated social interactions are dreadful for the complex communication inherent to Wataru culture, aren't they? A Wataru might be practically incapable of communicating by telephone; they know how it works, sure, but what they want to convey just doesn't fit into such a limited pipe. Video calls are merely like being locked in a room with a needle-thin hole in one wall through which you can look out. Etc. It makes negotiations with Wataru really difficult - any official record of proceedings will lose all the bits the Wataru thought were actually important.
 

Eled the Worm Tamer

Spider Jeruselem's Warior
Validated User
#17
Oh totally, but for anyone else, a video call or text interface is a necessary social hazmat suit, you have in the Wataru a whole civ of Altered Carbon Envoys, capable of reprograming a person almost casually. Its amusing in a way:-

Galaxy Core: Regarding the Wataru, we have to proceed carefully and limit contact, they are so primitive that we could accidentally destroy their whole culture.

Wataru: Regarding the Galaxy Core, we have to proceed carefully and limit contact, they are so primitive that we could accidentally destroy their whole culture.

Afterthought: Even though they understand things like AI abet though their cultural lens 'our' cultural ability to bond with dumb machines is going to really confuse Wataru, who probably get left thinking that GC type peoples can't tell the difference between inert inanimate objects and actual thinking entities.
 
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s/LaSH

Member
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#18
"They are a strange and superstitious people."

"Why do you say this?"

"We were discussing trade opportunities, and it transpires that one of their languages has a word equivalent to "opportunity". And when we mentioned it, someone said this word, and then everybody went silent and put their hands over their hearts."

"The word made them do this?"

"Not the word, what it represents. I inquired, naturally, but the answer was almost nonsensical. There was some kind of long-range signal device which they sent very far away, and then they listened to the signals that it produced."

"Some kind of... song competition?"

"I understand it was sent beyond the sky itself, to a world where no person had ever walked. And they listened to it for fifteen years."

"I cannot believe that one song would compel listeners for fifteen years."

"As I said, they are a strange and superstitious people."
 

Eled the Worm Tamer

Spider Jeruselem's Warior
Validated User
#20
I too believe there's plenty of meat on these bones. I was just hanging back so I didn't come to dominate the thread; that seemed impolite.

These technically-mediated social interactions are dreadful for the complex communication inherent to Wataru culture, aren't they? A Wataru might be practically incapable of communicating by telephone; they know how it works, sure, but what they want to convey just doesn't fit into such a limited pipe. Video calls are merely like being locked in a room with a needle-thin hole in one wall through which you can look out. Etc. It makes negotiations with Wataru really difficult - any official record of proceedings will lose all the bits the Wataru thought were actually important.
Actually, you know what a phone call or video chat, even with holograms would be for Wataru? Baby talk, the kind of thing you dumb yourself down into using because the adorable infant/vexing brat hasn't gone deep enough to decode the grand symphony that arises when 2 people capable of Kenning encounter each other. It's possible to communicate with people who use baby talk sure but, man you are going to constantly be taking a step back and trying to think on how to not rely on concepts too old for them, even the bright precocious ones.

Edit: campaign idea "One Bad apple" a group of GC contact specialists (The PCs) are approached by a Wataru Shaman asking for help. In broken Gal standard that betrays a childlike mind, they explain that one of their students has gone native in the GC, seduced by the comfort and simplicity the crude GC culture offers.

There's a few ways to play this out, you could do an inversion of the 'great white saviour' thing with the Wataru swiftly rising to a high station in the GC and fixing problems they didn't even know they had. Or the Wataru runaway could be of the more malevolent mind, abusing the power differential and causing problems for the GC looking to sour relations between the two cultures. Either way, the runaway will be covering tracks and using all the influence they can muster to avoid being taken back.
 
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