Fanseeth: Vaettir-Tales and Vaettir-Sworn

The Fanseeth believe there are vaettir in everything, that all things have a spirit which must be considered and honored (or, more often, placated). Offer to the skipvaettir, the spirit of your ship, to increase the likelihood of safe travel. Offer to the hylvaettir, the spirits of the mine, in hopes of safe mining. Offer to your knife to turn its hunger from your flesh to the flesh of your foe.

And offer to the wild things, the dark things, the hungry things, in desperate appeal that they won’t hunt you.

Because there is a spirit in everything, and there are spirits that are not kindly inclined towards humans. The Fanseeth lead harsh lives on harsh environments, and they make meaning of mine collapses and shipwrecks through tales of the dark vaettir who were surely responsible.

The Fanseeth have several kinds of spiritual advisors and intercessors to deal with the vaettir. Sometimes these are full-time jobs and the practitioner’s only professions; in other clades, these are part-time roles only, and the practitioner also is a pilot, miner, or does other jobs on the side.

  • Speakers are the spiritual leaders of the community, translating the needs and wants of the local vaettir to the community, and speaking for the community to the local vaettir. 
  • Vaettirthegn are spirit-servants, spirit-sworn. They are the hands and feet of the vaettir. They provide quieter service to the community, often teaching, raising children whose parents are dead or unknown or away at the mines, doing small rituals to placate the vaettir. 
  • Vaettirthralls are… strange. They are devoted entirely to the vaettir to a degree of intimacy unmatched by the other roles, and are often under a series of taboos and behavioral restrictions. In some ways, they are like nuns or monks in other traditions, but more solitary. Vaettir-touched, vaettir-sworn, perhaps vaettir-possessed. They are often avoided by many members of society, though they are believed to have power from the vaettir and sometimes approached warily for good-luck charms, help with a curse, or spiritual healing. 

Every clade has its particular tales of hostile or mischievous vaettir, as does every mining site, each factory, each ship. Parents, teachers, and nurses tell kids to behave, or a particular local vaettir will get them. Kids have fears of the troll under the bed or the goblin in the closet. When little annoying things go missing on a station, it’s a wight’s fault. When ships malfunction, it’s because of the gremlins in the pipes and wires. 

And there are worse stories. 

The Gap-Huldra, invisible vaettir of the space between stars and stations that wanders the void; she consumes ships whole and cannot be reasoned with or bargained with. 

The Storm-Giants, spirits of the radiation storms that swirl over the planets and moons, beautiful and deadly, dancing the auroras in their wake, observable only from the safety of a clade’s shielding but they’ll eat the flesh from your bones if you are outside the shielding when they arrive. 

The Nacker, who plays music so sweet that it’ll draw you out of the station without your suit, and reduce you to gibbering hallucination. (This may be an explanation for the star-madness that sometimes comes from being asteroid-bound too long.) Tales say that some have managed to survive him by offerings or bargaining or entertaining him, and some have sought him out to learn his musical gift.

The cave-trolls, a sort of hylvaettir, believed to live deep in the asteroid mines and who jealously guard its resources. They abhor light and want to be left in peace to their asteroid homes, so flooding a mine with light is believed to keep them away. Lights going out, cave collapses, and any number of mining accidents are attributed to the cave-trolls. If too many of these accidents happen, miners will murmur increasingly about this mine being a vaettir-place full of angered cave-trolls. Some unions have organized strikes until a vaettirthegn, a Speaker for the Vaettir, can be brought in to pacify the spirits. 

Fanseeth: Costuming and Style

The clothing of the Fanseeth reflects its history as a series of prison colonies in many ways. One of the larger ways it manifests itself is in color choices of the upper and lower classes.

Costuming tip: Check out the Fanseeth Pinterest board for visual inspiration.

Monochrome apparel that echoes the uniforms of old is still associated with higher class and power (and is worn as a matter of course by most Vordur and Bondi). Those seeking to rise in station can, on occasion, be made uncomfortable with the fact that their interview clothes look suspiciously like those of the people who beat on great-great-grandma with an electrified baton. Formal wear will also echo this, with sharp lines, muted colors, piping, and jewelry that is based on the ranking sigils of old. It’s considered gauche to wear jewelry of a rank above that of what one’s family achieved, but it common practice to those climbing the social ladder to take on the “rank” afforded them by marrying up.

Costuming tip: If your character is upper class, look for sharp clean lines. A button-down dress shirt will do in a pinch, as will more military-style outerwear. Check out military surplus stores. Add pins and patches. Vests or waistcoats create the right sort of lines, especially if they keep to a relatively monochrome theme. Gloves, hats, and boots (or spats) can add to the look. Even something like a simple turtleneck with a jacket or vest overtop can work for this.

Those who would traditionally be perceived as being “lower class” (namely the Hakal and the Kappi) tend to wear colors with fierceness. No shade is too bright, no riot of hues damned. Needlework and cross-stitch is also something that makes its way into the fold. Common motifs are sigils made up of prisoner glyphs, reindeer, and alchemical symbols representing the elements of what was being mined at a given time. A common social game to play is “spot the rich kid”, tells for which are a nonsense jumble of numbers (or not even setting them into sigilry), or a grouping of elemental markers that make no sense given the mineral compositions of a given mining location. Accessories are often pragmatic (a flask clipped to your belt by a carabiner, or paracord woven into a belt) or otherwise scavenged (spare parts off discarded equipment turned into jewelry), and sometimes even spiritual (rocks from a home moon to connect you to the landvaettir, the symbol of your ship to honor the skipvaettir).

Costuming tip: If your character is lower class, try thrifting some “ugly sweaters” or Christmas sweaters. Look for heavier, bulky, rougher-cut clothing and durable materials. If you want to go the extra mile, add some distressing to give it a heavily worn look. You can use fabric paint or markers to add sigils, glyphs, or alchemical symbols to a shirt, pants, or leggings. Try a trip to a hardware store, get some odds and ends and string them up on cord for a necklace or bracelet.

This goes more for class rank than specifics of group—a Vordur of the lower classes might wear brighter shades, while a Bondi who wants to be seen well by the Vordur will tend to dress in a more muted style.

While layers are common, it’s more for look than need, as climate control is the norm, and is well maintained within the clades. Climate suits being, of course, necessary for heading “out back” or to the mines. It is not uncommon for people to carry breathing masks even within stations, “just in case,” though the degree to which are actually used is open for debate.

Biomodifications and cybernetic modifications are more common among the working classes as a way to make them more desirable workers or more effective in the mines, as pilots, or in processing plants; oftentimes a hakal will receive the mods after getting injured on the job. These mods are usually industrial, emphasizing function over form. When upper class Fanseeth receive mods, they are still functional (even the most bourgeoisie Vordur value function; they are still Fanseeth, after all), but are generally sleeker than the clunky hackjobs afforded by the lower classes. More often, upper class mods aid perception or fine dexterity, or provide mental outsourcing like a computer implant, whereas lower class mods are more like exoskeletons, hardware limb enhancements, or skin protection.

Written by: Lia Lilley
with additions by Dani Higgins, David H. Clements

Fanseeth Cultures and Subcultures

It is important to realize there’s class mobility in the Fanseeth in theory, but very difficult to exercise in practice. Your culture is largely defined by the socioeconomic status of your parents and is derived from who you rubbed elbows with growing up, what resources were they able to provide, and what sorts of connections they were able to help you make.

Artist Toby Morris illustrated this concept well in the short story, On a Plate.

This means that it is entirely possible to see a Vordur working as a miner, despite that this job is almost always occupied by Hakal, but they are probably friends with the manager (and maybe went to the same school) in a way that the other miners wouldn’t have access to.

Similarly, if your parents were disadvantaged Hakal, they might sacrifice disproportionately to make sure that you had the advantage of being able to rub elbows with the “right” sort of people.

Vordur

Vordur society is defined by generational wealth, with each new generation being expected to add to and prove their worth to receive their inheritance. They are investors, inheritors, and view their role as “keeping the engine of Fanseeth society running”.

They carry a sense of themselves as caretakers. They are the ones who create jobs (they own the major businesses, after all). They are the ones who safeguard the cultures of the Fanseeth. Their investments allow miners to find their fortunes.

That is what the Vordur tell themselves, anyways.

Their view of:

  • Kappi: Good, hardworking people who would move up in the world but they lack a firm long-term vision. Disinclined to settle down in one place, they tend to spend their kcal as they make it without regard for the future.
  • Bondi: They don’t put in the hours that we do and the hours that would be necessary for them to move up in the world, but otherwise many of them show good business sense.
  • Hakal: They need direction and purpose or else are prone to violence. Given direction and purpose they are tremendously valuable and hard-working, but prone to sloth and the worst of vices without a firm guiding hand.

Kappi

Kappi tend to not like being tied down. They like movement and travel. Their culture tends to work on the same sorts of shifts as the Hakal (see below), but their shifts tend to be shorter in nature and they are much more mobile than any other culture. It isn’t uncommon to find Kappi on cruise ships and aboard stations for some period of time just working to make ends meet, gaining new experiences, and then moving on when they have gotten what they came for.

They are the most mobile in terms of jobs of any of the groups. While all of the groups are theoretically mobile and may shift jobs at any time, the Kappi are the ones who do it the most of their own volition.

They see themselves as the glue that hold the Fanseeth together. In their mind, there would be no Fanseeth without the Kappi.

Their view of:

  • Vordur: Self-aggrandizing to an extreme, they still pay most of the bills and nothing is going to change that any time soon. A necessary evil to keep them around and if you stay out of their direct gaze you can live a pretty good life. Just don’t piss them off.
  • Bondi: They miss what makes life worth living. Sure, they do important things, but they themselves tend to be pretty boring. Planetbound. They’d also do well to not define themselves so much in terms of their jobs. They also tend to be complicit in the control of the Vordur, most of them without knowing it.
  • Hakal: Crude but just trying to get by. They lead hard lives and don’t look up nearly enough, but in many cases they don’t get the opportunity to do so. They are best when they are working together.

Bondi

The Bondi fill the gaps. They do a lot of the planetside jobs and some of the stationside jobs and fill all of the “middle” roles of Fanseeth society that don’t pertaining to the flying of spacecraft.

They tend to be pretty anchored, both in place and in career. They tend to have very strong connections to their families and aren’t bound by the “shifts” that the Kappi and the Hakal usually experience in their families. They take a very “family first” view of their lives and tend to see “work-life balance” and something important to strive for.

Their view of:

  • Vordur: Self-important and prideful. They hold all of the chips, they pull the strings. Work hard, and you may get there some day.
  • Kappi: Free spirits who won’t settle down and focus on their families. They would get further in life if they would just stay put.
  • Hakal: Poor souls. It’s a shame they need to work so much and spend so much time away.

Hakal

For the Hakal, their entire lives are structured around their shifts. Even those who aren’t working the mining and processing plant shifts often have their lives dictated by the ebb and flow of people going and coming out for work. Shifts last for significant periods of time and then they get a significant amount of down time before their next shift.

During their downtime they will frequently work other jobs, but at a much more relaxed pace.

They have a strong attachment to their view of themselves as the “backbone” of the Fanseeth. They are the ones who provide the fundamental resources on which society is based. As such, they have a lot of pride in themselves and that identity.

Their view of:

  • Vordur: The highest bosses. The people they despise and/or want to be, depending.
  • Kappi: They are often the other side to what we do.
  • Bondi: They have no idea what life is really like, of course, and their lives are pretty cushy all things considered. Soft. That said, be polite to them, they can get things done and since they tend to stay in one spot they develop deep connections and provide the jobs you’ll need when you are off shift.
Written by: David H. Clements

The Darkest Space: Disease mechanics

Note: This post applies only to the upcoming Fanseeth prequel, The Darkest Space.

At The Darkest Space, there will be a disease beginning in Act II. The disease involves marks on the skin and an envelope with a symptom list. If you are infected, you will not escape as your character from the doomed ship. Basically: if you agree to be infected, your character will die.

At check-in on the day of the game, you will be asked whether you wish to be infected. This will be marked on your name tag using a piece of string or ribbon. Possible answers are “yes”, “no”, or “ask me when the time comes”. It is perfectly acceptable to say “no” to this, and there are no consequences in or out of game for refusing. You may choose for your character to escape in the final act if that’s your desire.

If you have consented to be infected you will be told when/if you are infected by an NPC (portrayed by a doctor who will be investigating and attempting to treat the illness in-game) and you will be given the envelope with the symptom list we are proposing for you in a progression format (basically “you will develop these symptoms, and then these, and then these). If you don’t like the specifics, make up what you are comfortable with, but please try to keep with the “feel” of what you’ve been given. If you don’t want your skin marked, or only are comfortable with it being marked in specific ways, just let the doctor know. On our end, we’ll be using body-art pens for marking your skin.

You may also choose to approach the doctor and ask (out of game) to be infected any time after people begin to show signs of illness.

Example symptoms

Early stages

  • Mild paranoia (you think people are out to get you, but not in the “oh gods I need to run” over-the-top sort of way)
  • Being unable to read, suddenly, or reading things that aren’t there (subcategory: benign things, for example you convert a list of equipment to a list of ingredients for a cherry pie)
  • Marks on the skin
  • Weakness
  • Irritability

Middle Stages

  • Sporadic vertigo
  • Hydrophobia (fear of water—but please stay hydrated from an OOG standpoint)
  • Disorientation

Late Stages

  • Sporadic panic attacks
  • Avoidance of crowds
  • Spontaneous bursts of agitation, anger, fear
  • Death

None of these should be continuous (except death, naturally). They should come and go once you enter that phase. You may be aware that this is not your usual behavior—it’s up to you to play it either way.

From an OOG perspectives, some things need to be emphasized:

  • If you are infected you do not get to survive the end of game. You can die before that point, but if you aren’t dead by the end of the game, your character will be dead after that.
  • You cannot be cured. There is no cure in game at this time.
  • If you aren’t having fun with it, feel free to change your symptoms around. Symptoms changing are completely in keeping with the nature of the disease and you won’t break the game, even if your symptoms stop appearing entirely (asymptomatic != cured).
  • The specifics of the disease—where it comes from, etc—aren’t a solvable problem in (this) game, but you should feel free to investigate them.
Written by: David H. Clements

Fanseeth: Transmission from Aiye Titun

<TRANSMISSION OPENS>

Aiye Titun Shift 5 Bravo, Day 120, personal account of Jing Myneer:

We started a search of Protoclade 1537 today. The protoclade itself is on the older side, but initial dating indicates that it was one of the last abandoned, and there are still some rooms that look to be fully sealed. We preparing extraction teams now to make sure that there’s no damage to the interior when we breach them.

In the opening chamber we found some old fragments of pottery—they look like ceramic tablets—with writing on them. Who would have thought that buried in all of these old ruins from the earliest settlements we’d find records engraved on pottery? Why would they write anything in ceramic at all, let alone produce a ceramic tablet for writing? We haven’t found anything like that in the other protoclades we’ve entered.

The shards are broken and partially fragmented, it looks like maybe they were slammed into by something blown by the wind, but they are certainly still legible. We’re sending the text over to the lab to have it analyzed, because none of us recognize the language it is written in. The tablets have been the most excitement we’ve had in a while around here.

Like in some of the other last-abandoned protoclades we did find some remnants of skeletons, mostly eaten away by the elements. Per protocol, we’re sending those remnants back to the labs on Kala Station, for whatever good that will do. We’re hoping to find more information on what may have killed so many in some of the sealed chambers, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Two more 30 day cycles and I can get off this rock and go home.

</TRANSMISSION CLOSES>

Written by: David H. Clements

Fanseeth Economics

The Fanseeth use a representative currency. You may have a slip of paper, but what gives that slip of paper value is the fact that it is backed by something more concrete, and could be exchanged for some backing commodity at any time.

There are two different economic units of account that can be freely exchanged for fixed amounts of what they represent. Those two units are the Kilocalorie (kcal, usually stored in either a mechanical or chemical battery or in the form of glucose) and the Gram of Gold (gg, exchanged as coins or as bars for larger quantities).

Kilocalories are (usually) represented by a paper currency); gold is generally represented by coins of (usually) non-precious metals or other forms of physical token.

In day-to-day transactions, especially those involving a transient good—going out to a restaurant, by way of example, or finding fuel for a spacecraft—the kcal reigns supreme and is widely used as a base unit of currency. Most people with jobs are paid by their companies in kcal for their salary.

Grams of Gold are considered a long-term, more stable unit of value. Often when purchasing non-transient goods (e.g., a chair, a ship) the payment will be in in gg. If a job offers a retirement plan, it is often in gg.

At least, all of that is the theory. Government policies are implemented around this assumption, after all, so it has to be at least somewhat true. Right?

Economics and Culture

By and large, kappi and hakal work almost entirely in kcal currency and will do so even for more permanent goods. They often end up not owning their homes in a classical sense, since it is easier to rent when your income is in kcal.

Vordur are the opposite of this in a lot of ways, storing generational wealth in gg which they frequently pass down. Even when they don’t have a lot of gg, this is how they tend to measure their own wealth.

Bondi follow the intended pattern as closely as any group. They tend to have long-term wealth which gets converted into housing and used for retirement. Then hopefully there’s some left over to give to their children or to use to invest in their child’s education.

Conversion

There’s a conversion rate between gg and kcal, but it fluctuates over time. We’ll have the exact exchange for the Fanseeth prequel event up in early January. In common practice, gg can always be exchanged for kcal, but the reverse is not always true.

It is theoretically true that you can reverse the transaction, but that requires a buyer and access to the exchange markets to make the sale. A lot of groups who are willing to do the currency conversion from kcal to gg similarly take a small cut as a handling fee for their difficulty in managing it on the monetary markets.

Representation in Game

For the most part we are going to be giving out kcal currency for this game in the form of paper scrip. You can also feel free to print your own if you think you’ll need or want more. But, if you want to bring gg into game: bring any non real-world metal coins that you want to use. Our standard will be the sort that you commonly see sold for, e.g., Stonemaier games and metal doubloons meant to represent pirate treasure, but any coin will do (be aware that if you acquire ones for ongoing games they probably aren’t going to be legal to spend in those games after trading them here).

But fundamentally that is more to throw around and make an impression. Every good or service sold by NPCs in the Fanseeth game in January will be available for kcal.

Written by: David H. Clements

Fanseeth: Clades, Class, Career, and Culture

This document is a bit of a miscellany of some of the elements of the Fanseeth that contribute to their culture.

Clades

Clades represent groups of people who live in the same habitat on a moon or the same area of one habitat on a station. They are the towns or (more rarely) the cities of the Fanseeth.

Miners and pilots in particular will frequently have jobs that take them away from their clades for stints of time, but they will return to their clades between their jobs (e.g., a miner goes out to a moon for some significant period of time, then has a significant period of time off).

Clades are usually pretty mixed groups. There will usually be a small segment of each of the four predominant cultures in every clade, though how much that matters will change.

For example: A vordur politician living in a clade of mostly miners may be looked down upon by other vordur, but they still have the political connections. They still will likely send their child to a more vordur-centric group for education and friendship-building.

Class Mobility

Class mobility technically exists among the Fanseeth, and there are no rules that prevent, for example, a hakal miner from being elected to the position of Warden.

But it isn’t that simple.

The four predominant cultures of the Fanseeth are strongly tied to the socioeconomic class of the group. They represent who you “rub elbows” with. Which parties you get invited to. Which schools you attend.

Even if you can change your economic situation, it’s hard to develop the connections of someone who was born in that group. Someone who loses their money still has a network of connections and will often make significant sacrifices to ensure that their children maintain those friendships. It can take generations to fully move between two different groups.

There are significant cultural forces in play that make this movement difficult—in both directions. It’s hard to learn everything you need to know about mining on the job if you didn’t grow up around it. It is difficult to know the ins-and-outs of a political system if you weren’t raised among people who are fairly political.

But it absolutely can happen.

Theoretically.

Careers and Other Jobs

As mentioned in the section on class mobility, there’s nothing really that prevents someone from one group from doing jobs commonly associated with one of the other groups, and it even happens. A bondi family that is hard on their luck ends up with one of their children becoming resource harvesters. A vordur child has a large inheritance coming eventually and wants to spend some time to “find themselves” so spends it doing odd jobs aboard ships and then goes back and writes a book about the experience.

In general, however, you see people of the cultural groups in the jobs that are associated with the groups.

So usually a pilot will be a member of the Kappi. But that kappi pilot likely has a family that includes younger members who are doing odd jobs to learn the ropes or working as mechanics aboard ships or for different clades.

A high level bureaucrat is probably a member of the Bondi, but their family (and indeed, their own history) likely includes everything from janitorial work to selling tickets for liners to tour the moons.

These “lower level” jobs are also where you find the most mobility between the groups. It is very hard to become a pilot without the correct set of connections and experiences, but working on a moon liner in some role is a relatively straightforward proposition.

In general, however:

  • Vordur will do a lot of managerial jobs at different levels of prestige. They will work as marketing directors for corporations, entrepreneurs finding new creative ways to invest money, and other such things. When younger it is pretty common to see them apprenticing to higher level vordur and doing a lot of odd jobs for them.
  • Kappi do a lot of jobs associated with ships and shipping. Everything from logistical planning to cleaning ships to mechanic work to piloting.
  • Hakal are often associated with mining, but they’ll also do a lot of the work related to resource extraction and preparation. Extracting metal from the ores or purifying gasses to be used, and maintaining the equipment used for these tasks.
  • Bondi fill in the gaps inside of the clades. They are farmers, craftsmen, programmers, and frequently low-level executives at companies.
Written by: David H. Clements

Fanseeth: Knife Fighting

There have been a lot of diffusion of knifefighting styles among the Fanseeth over the ages, so you’ll find every style among every group in different degrees. These usually also involve arguments about what each version does or does not show, or how much it represents reality, or how it isn’t supposed to represent reality, whether and to what degree it can be used to settle disputes, whether it is a reasonable way to spend one’s time, or any number of heated debates on the dueling traditions (and if it gets heated enough, the debate itself can lead to a duel).

Most children among the Fanseeth grow up with a least a passive knowledge of knifework, though how much they’ve actually practiced varies widely.

Thrusting is usually frowned upon for these styles, since it is so often highly lethal when done with an actual knife.

There are four primary arts used in duels, but each has a lot of individual variations: Gisal, Takni, Jasha, and Bowwi.

(Note to players: These are starting places only. Feel free to add, subtract, multiply, or divide as needed for your play preferences. If you want to engage in knife-fighting at the upcoming Fanseeth event, please review the knifefighting mechanics for The Darkest Space.)

Gisal — The Tournament

This style is popular for entertainment and for betting. It originated as a spectator sport for the Vordur, but now all of the cultures enjoy a good Gisal match. It is among the oldest arts found among the Fanseeth, but has evolved significantly over time.

An area is cordoned off on the floor, stepping outside of that area is a loss of the round. All cuts to critical spots (defined as inside of the arms or legs—but not the outside—along with any cuts to the torso) are considered “points” and after each point the participants reset to opposite sides of the field.

Usually done to a best-of-n-rounds, though sometimes different values of points are awarded for each area, and instead of stopping to reset, they continue fighting until that number of points is reached.

Betting is frowned upon in polite company but is perfectly legal and very, very commonly practiced.

Takni — The Academic Art

A common sport among young, educated Vordur that have a lot of money and not a lot of sense, the goal of this fighting is to lay a small, shallow cut with a specially modified knife along the deltoid (most commonly) of the other person. It is widely practiced in schools, sometimes with official sanction (the Fanseeth equivalent of a gym class). In this style it is very common to use a cloak or half-cape in one’s other hand, which is used to bind the opponents knife for a more effective cut.

This cut will sometimes be encouraged by the recipient to scar over, resulting in what is called a “smite” which may be displayed. These are often considered a mark of honor, at least among participants.

The art is studied heavily and treatise on the proper way to engage in it have been evaluated in depth.

Jasha — The Dance

In the early days of Fanseeth, knives were forbidden to prisoners. Additionally, before the advent of safer blades and more sport-like versions, fighting in general was considered a waste of resources.

In this style two opponents move at a roughly equivalent speed, working to match speeds with one another while they make cuts and thrusts at the other person, never actually landing the blow.

The goal is to make an attack on the other person that the person acknowledges as having gotten past their guard.

Almost never done for tournaments, this form is almost exclusively practiced by the Hakal and in mining-focused clades.

Bowwi — Settling Disputes

Based on an old legend from the origins of the Fanseeth, this is a form of duel that arose as a way to rapidly settle disputes between clades and is still widely used for dispute arrangements, especially friendly ones. It’s also frequently used as a legal resolution to difficult problems between clades that don’t want to get a higher level of government involved.

Two fighters either clasp hands or hold on to a piece of cloth and then attempt to land a designated number of cuts (or touches, or whatever equivalent) on the opponent.

These cuts are usually limited in where they can be landed—never on the arms that are bound, nor on the leg on that side—and is often fought with each fighter’s primary hands being so bound, leaving the blade in their off hands.

Written by: David H. Clements

The Darkest Space: Knife Fighting Mechanics

For today’s #MechanicsMonday, let’s talk about what knife fighting will look like in the upcoming Fanseeth game!

See, knife fighting is sort of a thing among the Fanseeth. Actual dueling with actual knives was outlawed in the early days, but there remain multiple competitions and sports that involve it, as well as duels to settle issues—especially between young people and between clades. These duels are seldom done with real knives, and even when they are the consequences are rarely directly fatal. Often ways of simply marking the opponent are used, with some agreed-upon bet set ahead of time.

We’ll talk more about the hows and whys of these fights in an upcoming #WorldbuildingWednesday, but for now: let’s talk about the out-of-game mechanics of knife fighting for the upcoming game, The Darkest Space.

For the purposes of the game there are four guiding principles:

  • No real weapons. None. Zip. Zero. Zilch. No real injuries. Weapon approximations should also total less than one foot (12 inches) in length (pommel to tip).
  • All fights *must* be with “lightest possible touch” as the guiding principle, and no thrusting with weapons is allowed (this is cultural as well, more on that later). No cuts to the head, hands, or neck either.
  • Any contest has to be agreed to by both parties, and the blades or blade facsimiles you are using must be both inspected by the opposing party and approved of. You assume all risks (we as the LARP organizers don’t assume them), so make extra sure that you are comfortable with the person you are fighting, the rules of the engagement, and the weapons being used.
  • Any fight needs to have at least one volunteer stand by as safety marshal who is briefed on the engagement, consenting, who has inspected the “weapons” and consented to their use as well, and who can be trusted to keep people out of the engagement (if you negotiate a party barging in that’s another matter, but they should be apprised of it). IG they can have a role as a second, a marshal (so they are a marshal both IG and OOG), or even as a bet taker, just so long as their focus is on the fight while the fight is taking place.

Basically: the emphasis is on small, light cuts. Frequently to called targets and/or at reduced speed and/or with other restrictions that are more IG than OOG.

We’ll talk more about the IG culture and rules in a later post, but for the purpose of this post: Before you challenge someone, make sure you have an out-of-game consent negotiation as to what you are going for. What the rules of your contest are, what the potential outcomes are, and what you are going to be using.

Examples of good choices for weapon facsimiles, depending on what you are doing and who you are fighting:

  • Padded boffer daggers from basically any of the local boffer LARPs. This is probably the best choice for the majority of our players.
  • Rubber, plastic, or even wood practice blades (talk to the LARP organizers if you want recommendations).
  • Sidewalk chalk! This is extremely effective for showing “cuts” and works exceptionally well if you think of it as “showcasing a duel of skill” rather than “representing a cut with a real weapon.”
  • Latex daggers, of the style you see in basically any local boffer LARP tend to not be great choices for this style of fighting, but you can use them if both parties are comfortable.

You may want to bring multiple types, so that if someone isn’t comfortable with one type you can use a different type.

If you are looking to duel, depending on the style that interests you (or that is used in your clade), you may also want to bring:

  • A piece of cloth for both parties to hold in their primary hand (while trying to cut with a blade in their offhand).
  • A few lengths of rope (I like P.O.S.H. rope for this purpose, but any rope will work) or other form of marker to designate an area that the fight has to stay within.
  • Marker flags for “keeping score.”

Poor choices of weapon facsimiles (consider these banned):

  • Metal practice blades or SCA-style metal daggers.
  • PVC with no padding or just wrapped in tape.
  • Permanent marker, since it tends to get into people’s clothing.

Hopefully this gives you some ideas for the upcoming game! Let us know if you have any questions.

Written by: David H. Clements

Fanseeth: Religion

The Fanseeth’s religion is tied very much to the place and the people. It is tied heavily into the moons they inhabit and to the history of the Fanseeth. They also have a lot of rituals, usually administered by a lay-priest (someone who is a member of the population at large who has chosen to administer the rituals) but sometimes by people for whom that is their full profession. This collection of beliefs, rituals, and practices is called Vaettirveg by non-Fanseeth scholars, but for the Fanseeth, it’s just the way things are.

Every individual clade and moon will have their own specific regional spirits and structure. Everything is viewed to have a spirit, called a vaettir: every ship (skipvaettir), every station (starvaettir), every moon (tangvaettir), every mountain on that moon (landvaettir). Some of those vaettir are called Light or Dark, but in truth all of them are viewed to be entities with their own agendas, and none can be considered wholly good or wholly evil. Many are also thought to have both Light and Dark aspects: what they give in one hand, they take away in the other, for good or for ill.

Each clade or group will give offerings to the vaettir in their own way, with the most common offerings being of cool, clean water. They are most frequently offered to the vaettir—who then consumes the essence of the thing—and then consumed by the offering parties (assuming that the thing being offered is something that can be eaten), who partake of the physical essence of the thing. Nothing is wasted, nothing is lost.

Vaettir

Vaettir—no matter their aspects—should not be viewed as wholly light or wholly dark, but rather as beings of varying complexity with agendas of their own. They are often said to embody the spirit of whatever it is they represent, which may be very simple or very complex in its nature.

It isn’t entirely certain to any observer or practitioner whether the vaetter actually exist in a literal, tangible sense, but they are widely accepted to exist in some psychic or spiritual form, and rituals to honor and placate are deeply woven into the Fanseeth culture. For example:

  • Offerings and prayers are given before an expedition is undertaken and again when it comes to a conclusion.
  • Public ceremonies mark events of public importance (everything from elections to births) and also mark out the Fanseeth concept of a year, providing a shared community and continuity of culture.
  • It is generally viewed that the Vaettir will hear statements and may take them as a challenge, and so better to soothe things over with offerings (the way in United States culture we “knock on wood”).

Light and Dark

Light and Dark are important aspects to the Vaettir. A Light Vaettir embodies the principles of light, heat, and warmth. A Dark vaettir is associated with cold, darkness, and death. Most vaettir are categorized into one or the other, but some—especially greater vaettir (more on that in a moment)—may embody both principles in what are called “aspects.”

While in general life is associated with life and darkness with death, it is important to remember that heat can kill. Light can sear. Coolness and even death can be a blessing. To the Fanseeth, these are inherent traits rather than moral judgements.

While these forces work against each other and the Light vaettir tend to be more friendly to the survival of the Fanseeth people than the Dark vaettir, balance is always necessary and both aspects are necessary.

Ancestor Veneration

The Fanseeth do not practice ancestor veneration in the same way as, say, the Children of Earth do, and there is nothing in Fanseeth practice that would be considered in the same genre.

Pantheon

There are a few vaettir who could be thought of as deities to the Fanseeth. These can be thought of as the vaettir of concepts and are referred to as Greater Vaettir.

Some of the major and widely recognized ones are:

Kanshar, Lady of the Rulers

Lady of the Rulers. Guider of the Wardens. Protector of the People. She is considered to be a severe deity who is called upon in times of hard decisions. When survival is on the line and each decision may be life or death, she is frequently given offerings. She is also the one called upon in the election of a new Warden. Offerings are usually purified water and the meals eaten before decisions are made.

Her light and dark aspects are extreme, but she is generally portrayed as being between the light and the darkness.

Feix, Keeper of Spaces

Keeper of Spaces. Ey guard hearth and home, providing shelter and refuge for those who are accused or those who are hard on their luck. Ey watch over births and deaths and all familial or in-clade disputes. Ey also are said to protect the doors of the clades, keeping out unwelcome elements and influences. Eir domain also extends to sex, protecting children, and are said to love music and dance.

Ey are usually portrayed in their light aspect; eir dark aspect is about barricaded doors, protective shields, and keeping out undesireable elements. The dark aspect is usually only taught as part of an esoteric tradition that few practice.

Shenwa, Guide of the Dead

Ruler of the Passage, Devourer of Corpses. He takes as an offering the essence of bodies before they are reprocessed. Said to love the scent of tree resin, he is particularly drawn to the smell of myrrh. Also the Lord of the Outcasts, he ensures those who are lost to the community are not wasted and is called upon for guidance by those who have been outcast from their clade.

Usually portrayed in a dark aspect, his light aspect focuses on new growth from decay from the recycling of the physical body and its spirit.

Written by: David H. Clements