Wednesday, 24 August 2016

The Poets Lamp

Legend says the poet Li Bai drowned while trying to embrace a reflection of the moon on water.

Dumb drunk bastard.


The OSR-DHD has shown less foolishness but perhaps equal inspiration in response to my question about the possible ecology of the Isles of the Imprisoned Moon. It's rare that I do this but the responses  were so good that I felt I had to make a slightly more long-lasting and public record of them.

So here they are:

Shared privately  -  Yesterday 10:33
 
Islands in an underground sea. They are arranged around a gigantic moon chained to the ocean. The moon constantly emits silvery moonlight over a radius of at least 100 miles.

What does the ecology of these islands look like?
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45 comments
Dallas M
Yesterday 11:12
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The moon and the stars. Starfish.
Harald Wagener (oliof)
Yesterday 11:33
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Complete domination by were apex predators would subjugate all other life if not for the ongoing fight between were sharks, were squid (dangerous on land and sea!), were wolves. Most intelligent life gathered on rafts that float between the islands. Some wizards stake out territory by creating pockets of permanent darkness (but all permanence is limited by the life span of the wizards).
Dallas M
Yesterday 11:42
 
 
(So, in my head, I was thinking first level and plankton and stuff. Lol!)
Jez Gordon
Yesterday 11:48
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Lumivores and umbraphagi, occisor cogitatio, the colourless abyssal whales and the associated whalefall ecology, that hunt the cryoplankton of the dark; surely the islands are not islands at all but The Long Council of the Aspidochelone and their attendants, and fungi, fungi everywhere.
Zak Sabbath
Yesterday 11:53
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most are attached, by a long umbilical filament, to the outer cave wall (like the oort cloud of this lunar system) which wall they likely have never seen and never will until they spawn (dying as they lay their eggs agains the wall). This keeps them all from collapsing into the gravity of the moon when they're at rest.
Brian Ashford
Yesterday 12:10
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The moon gives light but not enough for algae and sea weed, instead we have corals and fungi. The coral are thousands different hints of color in the silver moonlight.

Plankton and crill thrive in the water.

Fish are plentiful eating the plankton, and each other. Jelly fish too.

Small mammals have found homes here. Rats are happy on the bare islands. Bats rule the thin sky and sleep on the underside of the moon.

Lizards and frogs can be found under every rock. Crocodiles near every shore.

Goblins love it down here where it is always dark and damp. Away from the bigger greenskins they thrive, their elders living long enough to grow wise in the secrets of the underdark, and the seas and the great moon above.

Humans are here too, because humans are everywhere. Some came to escape other humans who would kill them for being different. Some came looking for treasure. Some are just passing through, smugging their goods from the w warm ocean in the south to the many cold seas of the north.

Then there are those who live on their moon, who are just now beginning to understand what this place is and what they can do to release their home back to the heavens.
Nathan Ryder
Yesterday 12:13
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Does the sea have enough depth to have volcanic vents anywhere? Strange societies of sulphur-dwellers who sometimes come up in weird environment suits (magic or otherwise) because they've found something that is a super-luxury/addictive substance that they can only get near the surface.
Paolo Greco
Yesterday 12:30
 
 
fucked up

a lot of algal blooms i guess?
Dunkey Halton
Yesterday 12:35
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These nocturnal cacti. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night-blooming_cereus

"Some of these species, such as Selenicereus grandiflorus, bloom only once a year, for a single night."

"The flowers are described as being paired, so if one flower is plucked, another flower will die somewhere else."

Moths from all across the sea would be drawn to the moon and circle it in huge swarms. Luna moths, obviously. Also death's-head moths, for reasons of spookiness. They are hunted by flightless owls that have learnt to swim like penguins. The chains themselves would play host to growths of coral and fungus, and birds might nest in the links. Huge-eyed monkeys would hunt the birds and eat the shellfish that grow on the rusted metal where the chains enter the water. It's always high tide I guess. Clouded leopards eat the monkeys.
Dunkey Halton
Yesterday 12:43
 
 
There would also be aye-ayes. I want to make sure you don't not have aye-ayes.
Mateo Diaz Torres
Yesterday 13:16
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Translucent, whale-sized isopods, opalescent seaspiders, wolf-otters, coral snakes in black and silver. Hagfish medusae. fish that affect dreams by the shape of their schools and the leafy seadragon-men that herd them for their dream-magic. Aquatic ragged-winged bats.
Paul Wolfe
Yesterday 13:46
 
 
That's no moon. It's the eye of a transdimensional slave-bot/demi-god seeking solace in the faint radiation from the bioluminescent slugs that crawl over the surface of its eye.
terminal night
Yesterday 14:00
 
 
Around the centre, the ocean churns, swirls violently, tides batter against the imprisoned moon and the water turns a milky white. Slats of silvery moonlight pulse through the ocean, almost a cry for help. Nothing around here lives, consumed by the moon's wrath and wrought into nothingness.

Upon the islands, life clings on. Every so often, waves surge through the craggy outcrops, residues of rage emanating from the centre. Whatever may have been called human is but a husk now. Beings, vacant, led only through fear and a numb desire to live. Sunken eyes, sallow skin. A mollusc crawls upon a rock encrusted with the skeletons, long dead and crumbling. Atop the rock, the creature sits. For a brief moment, the waves and the broiling water parts and the mollusc sees the moon. It is milky white, and there is silence. The waves sweep through once more.
Matthew Adams
Yesterday 14:53
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Blind maggot-like otters near the islands. Their squeaks sound almost like human singing.

Moths. So many you can't go out of your dwelling without a mask of some type because there is so much wing scale is in the air it is easy to choke on. The ground is covered in grey "ash" which is really the wings of moths. Moths are repulsed by the moonlight, but swarm any lantern, candle, torch...

The water surges up towards the moon, so the middle of the ocean is like a mountain of water in which the larger creatures live. All currents flow to the center. Travel is always across or against the current. The air flows in a constant anti clockwise direction, creating a permanent wind vortex. "He is clockwise" is a way of saying that person is stubborn, obstinate. No-one knows what clockwise means anymore, there are no clocks, no time keeping. People work and sleep at various times.

Fungus, moss, cover the islands, and dead-looking leafless trees that continue growing but fall apart easily like rotten wood, releasing hundreds of maggots.

People grow fungus on themselves to provide protection and clothing. Fungalscale armour is like those flat mushrooms that grow out of the side of trees, but grown over a person to look like a fungus scale.

People fear the ghostly pale craymen and the sclack of their claws. But their carapaces are rubbery and slimy and can be pierced.
Patrick Stuart
Yesterday 15:11
 
 
Everyone is doing very well so far
Chris Tamm
Yesterday 15:52
 
 
prehistoric albino amonites, glass like invertibrates, sea scorpions, spiders, trilobites, tully monsters, crabs, lobsters, horseshoe crabs, primitive plants, segmented tooth worms, early land invertebrates, carpets of fungus and gelatin, colonial organisms with swarm or singular forms, deep sea luminous horrors, things from the stars stranded long ago that tried to build civilization but failed, now wailing with sorrow and difficult to separate from earth born creatures, yet not bound by earthly laws. Immortal, broken and mere shadows of their former selves. Their physical forms are just dreams that wax and wane to elder stars
Barry Blatt
Yesterday 15:57
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The massive iron chain that holds the moon still runs down to the bottom of the sea and up to the cave ceiling way above.

This is the only source of iron in the cavern, and the lower chain - links a hundred meters thick in loops about 500m long and wide - is covered in a creeping detritus of bacteria, worms, crabs etc that is chipped off by passing mining fleets to get at the raw stuff within, which is taken off by massive steel files. The Selenites are of course very unhappy about this, and have a castle perched on the second link above the water, and drop warriors on flying manta rays to drive them off.

The chain above is similarly fortified, the Selenites look to invade the surface and have built a vertical city reaching up the ceiling. The unknown, but much dreaded, ceiling dweller reaches down with black semi transparent tentacles to pluck Selenites away into the darkness.

The sea and island dwellers have legends about this 'war in heaven', the are too far away to see it being fought, but wish the God of The Higher Depths well in his fight.
Jacob Hurst
Yesterday 16:31
 
 
Small prismatic clouds of dust that fell into the chamber of the underground from the world above and we're given sentience by the moon. Some say they're remains of good creatures killed in ancient wars. They float and fly and glow and sing strange tones.

Where flakes of chain land on islands bushes of rust roses grow. Their leaves shine silver in the moonlight, and their blooms of pure rust disintegrate on the winds. 
Brian Murphy
Yesterday 16:45
 
 
Oh, damn you to the blackest pits of the Abyss, sir. >.<

This island chain is a hidden outpost of the Moon-beasts, where they cultivate a twisted and sinister lamprey-mouthed race of dwarves to serve as rowers in their black galleys, and store and prep slaves for trade between the material universes and the Dream Lands. Iron fortresses with vaults stuffed with rubies abound.

The doings of the Moon-beasts and their twisted dwarven servitors are constantly preyed upon by an unlikely alliance between the Cats of Ulthar, packs of moon dogs, and a clan of wererats, grown to ogreish size by the constant light of the too-terribly-close chained moon. The presence and strength of the cats waxes and wanes on tides only understood in the Dreamlands.

Meanwhile, sahuagin make war with ixitxachitl for control of the mystic crystal coral reefs that hide beneath the waves, burning like stars where they are caressed by the wave-wavered silver light of the imprisoned moon. The sahuagin don't even suspect that that ixitxachitl are actually cat's paws for the aboleth who seek to free the moon, as it is the interdimensional craft that brought them to this world. All three aquatic races feast on the many blind fish that flow down from the unlighted caverns above, and the purplish seaweed that grows in thick forests along the bottom of the sea. Pale crabs with lurid green fluorescent tiger-stripes feast in thick, fuzzy-leafed mangroves along the shores.

Many of the flora and fauna have been warped by the powers of the moon. Fungus caps unfold into gorgeous and massive blossoms whose colors pulse and throb hypnotically to any looking at them with infravision (or low-light vision if you play with newer rules). Massive beds of heqoranth (http://hamsterhoard.blogspot.com/2009/04/heqoranth.html) steam ominously under the silver light of the moon. That same enchanting moonlight allows sightdust to grow nearly anywhere, though without a stronger source of magic it tends to be small and sickly. Disturbingly thick beds of neshti (http://hamsterhoard.blogspot.com/2009/01/five-fanciful-fungi.html) grow atop swampy mounds that dot the shores of many of the islands.

Massive, silver-furred swine with plate-sized eyes and slobbering, tusk-sprouting maws root through the massive fungal growths, or are kept as livestock by the various sentients living upon this world. None may be harmed by any but silvered or magical weapons, making them especially difficult to hunt or butcher, and it's rumored that these are lycanthropes trapped in their bestial forms by the never-waning light of the imprisoned moon. They are hunted by shadow mastiffs, zihal (http://hamsterhoard.blogspot.com/2009/04/monster-zihal.html) and the moon dogs.

It is not unusual to find entire groves of dreamblossom vines (http://trollsmyth.blogspot.com/2009/08/gettin-high-in-lands-of-doom-teaparties.html) in the islands interiors, especially around grottos or streams inhabited by nixies or sprites. So far, the seepage of fey into this realm has been slow and weak, but should a prince take interest in this place, that could change rapidly.

Moonglories are also common, and some have had great luck cultivating purple and black lotus. These have necessitated the importing of hives of giant bees, and these hives proliferate across the islands.

Why giant bees? Because they are the only known natural defense against the true terror of this place: giant swarms of lurru (http://hamsterhoard.blogspot.com/2009/05/monster-lurru.html) which periodically sweep across the islands like a plague, devouring all manner of creatures that fall prey to their hypnotic auroras.

There. You happy now? ;p
Brian Murphy
Yesterday 16:56
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Oh, and slügs. Lots and lots of slügs.

But not the doctor slüg. That one's just silly.
Ian Reilly
Yesterday 17:27
 
 
Oysters in the shoals, sought for their glossy black Moon Pearls, each with a glowing point within.

Some blind creatures of the outer dark sea can still feel the pull of iron and migrate around the islands in an annual gyre. Cave orcas and King Newts. They sometimes cross paths with the psychic whales and are driven, screaming in fear, into the shallows.

There is a giant squid somewhere out there but it might just be a whale dream.

Cat sized white mantids and child sized violet shriekers compete as first level predators and are kept as pets.

Horse sized crickets. They fiddle but rarely jump - like how chickens don't really fly anymore.

Archaeopteryx flocks with different plumage vie for an angle of moonlight most flattering to their particular colors.

What a strange place. Is the sea/cavern temperate? Lack of normal wind affects how seeds and pollen are spread, and waves. Seasons and tides would be strange if there are any. Crepuscular life would be the norm.


Rogue Prismatic Golem
Yesterday 18:23
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The moon has pulled the sea to itself, and is completely surrounded by water. The islands float around the moon on the surface of the water. All plants grow on the underside of the islands seeking the light from the moon.

Coral spheres float under the islands, fragile and delicate, a complex process of coral growth, and gas exchange takes place to maintain the perfect buoyancy to float at the ideal depth. Too deep and they are crushed.

Leviathans!
Brandon Daggerhart
Yesterday 20:22
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Underwater will-o-wisp/jellyfish hybrids whose stinging tentacles cause a delirious waking dream-state, followed by death. Savvy fishermen harvest them for light.

Octopodes (and other cephalopods) who spin their razor-bladed-and-self-luminous arms/tentacles like a glowing fan of death beneath the surface. Savvy water-farers farm them to make protective traps for their homes.

Blind, albino kelpies and selkies who lure surface dwellers to their watery grave by singing atonal lullabies. Savvy folk steer clear.

Baba Yaga of the Sea, a cecaelia witch who moves around the bottom floor of the lake/ocean in a crab-footed hut made from the sunken remains of surface dwellers' ships. She creates stews from the bones of dead sailors, in a cauldron made from the shell of a giant hermit crab.
Arnold K.
01:50
 
 
A dead sun, frozen and drowned. Perhaps a sibling to the chained moon.
Arnold K.
01:51
 
 
Whose moon? Certainly not this planet. It already has all the moons it needs. Perhaps a trophy of a slain opponent, the absent ninth. Perhaps a fetal moon for darker days ahead.
Arnold K.
01:52
 
 
Chariot-ships pulled by white worms, their crews long dead.
Arnold K.
01:52
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Racial underworlds for extinct species.
Arnold K.
01:53
 
 
The Doldrums, wherein all thought ceases. In the center is a fabulous prize.
K Yani
01:54
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The Moon gives light but not much of a heat, so not jungles but taigas, pines with bark that feels to touch like dragon-scaled column and with needles sharp like they are made of glass. Everything is criss-crossed in light and shadows, so animal hides and fur mimic this pattern, almost up to the point of distorted tartan. There are serrated cliffs that migrate alongside of isle edge, making navigation even harder. There are small meadows open to moonlight, of wild garlic, and thyme, and poppies. The poppies are probably the only ones that stubbornly keep their red colour impossibly vivid but for that they have to develop dreaming – they are dreaming themselves into red every once in a while and if somebody would disrupt their dreaming, there will be no consolation. Eggs of azure colour are hidden in roots and can be found rarely, valuable because they hatch into paper birds that always fly to the nearest pure water.
Winds can be predators, and there are Sleepers, disturbed by a bright light of the Imprisoned Moon. For them it might be like a scar on their slumber, and yet, somehow lulling, like a relief that comes after a searing burn when nerves die out, only the burn in this case never subsides. So They dream white beasts and black beasts and most terrible and merciful of all, gray beasts who might be scared away only by music.
Arnold K.
01:55
 
 
Drowned Kings, their kingdom visible only as a reflection in the glassy water. To disturb the water is to disturb their home: walls waver, disappear. A long succession of patricidal sons who never intended to spend eternity with their fathers.
Scrap Princess
02:30
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To supplement the poor quality of the moonlight anything like a photosynthesizers here supplements itself with the other available energies present in moonlight , especially one stolen and reflecting light from unseen and unreal suns.

Most are actually lichens, the symbiotic fungus breaking down the dreams, rogue ideas, madnesses and fears present in the light.

They form forests of velvet stretch horns , or teetering stacks of capped towers.

Spider-Plants and other epiphytes colonize the available height, and certain species pull illusion out of the air like plants with stale air. Too little illusion can cause utter stark disappear however.
The spider-plants are even more spidery than usual, and like most producers here are covered in soft down.


The Moon Lily is a giant single standing flower, man or horse sized , its spathe mirror surfaced to disorientate the moth pollinators long enough to dust them, and sometimes duplicating or replacing them with a mirrored moth.

The many forms of birds are near entirely usurped by moths.

Notable exceptions include a needle nosed blood drinking albino kiwi and gloomy and a ratite like flightless owl.

Moths eat moths more than bats do.

The bats here tend to be either tiny balls of fluff consuming the smallest fly like mothes or huge flightless wolf and ape parallels , running quadruped, leading on their elbows , their former wing fingers now barbed catch claws like those of amblypygids.

The Catcher-Bats can hibernate a long time awaking to the smell of red meat on the island.

The regular herbivores are pearl crabs, thick irregular layered things , picking slowly at the lichen beds and decomposing matter of plant. Some return to the sea others are entirely land bound like galapagos tortoise. Others arboreal. Only the bat-apes bother to eat them , and then only when they can't scavenge a kill, fish or tire of elusive and hypogotic fruit (the seed of which tend to sprout first in your dreams before becoming into the world.).

Pearl crabs require much grinding or hammering to get their oily sparse meat out.

Absurd giraffe walk from island to island when the ocean is still on the reflected moon light. They are incredibly slender and quiet and risk utterly annihilation at the hunger of the Catcher-Bats. But to be fair, so would all the flora of the island at the hunger of giraffe if the Catcher-Bats didn't keep their numbers low

The other bats here are fragment bats , the physical form of which is echo and their sonar location made of temporary form.

They interact extremely irregular with the rest of the environment suggesting intelligence or just an extremely unpredictable alien metabolism.

Possible that some of the flickering possible forms of the Fragment Bats are their tools or scouts or even spore.
Dunkey Halton
03:07
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Dark patches on the moon are actually migrating swarms of starfish. If you land on the moon and set up camp they will converge on your location in 1d4 hours. No-one knows how they got there.

Sunfish that are in love with the moon and fight slow duels over who will get to marry it.

Lots of carnivorous plants. They don't get much energy from the moon and they have to supplement their diet somehow.
Scrap Princess
03:53
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Oh I forgot , land bound corals the size and appearance of pale willows that sag down down into the sea to feed off the inflorescence plankton. From a distance they look like giant nude women washing their hair.
Potent nematocysts in their "fronds" make them a danger to swimmers or boats trying to land, especially on some islands where they line the shore without pause. The frond stingers stay active for a day or 2 and are harvest as a fishing tool and weapon
Matthew Adams
06:16
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Giant (7 ft long) flat cockroaches are used for everything from small boats or armour (wing cases), weapons, shelter, clothes, or food. Alive, they can be trained to carry riders. They are water skimmers, and can be ridden from island to island, but they also make a nice snack for many ocean creatures.

The clear exoskeleton that covers their eyes are used as goggles by humans, and a hollow leg with a porous shell bunged inside it is attached to a mask to provide a breathing apparatus to help survive the moth dust laden air.

Certain large moths called whisper moths are dried out and smoked like expensive cigars, providing a range of sensations from a mild buzz to frightening hallucinations.

Centaurpedes crawl the walls of the cavern, dropping unexpectedly onto the islands from time to time to attack villages using spider woven ropes to climb back up with their captives. But they fear the water and only venture down rarely. They are a barbarian culture, and more often war amongst themselves. Their slaves live in the spider woven netways and often come to enjoy their life above the moon if their master is not cruel. They enjoy freedoms not given to normal slaves.

The spiders the Centaurpedes use are tiny but incredibly numerous, and easy for them to train. Some even wear the spiders as a living robe.

Knives, razors, arrowheads are made from the shells of the glass snails that infest the waters near the islands
Matthew Adams
06:18
 
 
Some lovely ideas here to cherry pick from.
Ezekiel Lake
08:19
 
 
+Arnold K. But the Prophecies of the Didactic Mollusk-Kings, who thrive in the warm upwelling waters surrounding the volcanic islands of Utter Phrang, say that the moon is not a satellite or planetoid, but rather a gigantic egg. If they are to be believed, when the egg brightens and the Great Prophecy Engine of Yithique marks high Amber in the 12th ward, a thousand times a thousand void worms will free and devour the future.

Now, if only someone could figure out how to read the Prophecy Engine, or knew what a void worm was ...
Matthew Adams
08:39
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Giant blind swans want to kill everything
Arnold K.
09:00
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+Ezekiel Lake Void worms are hungry holes in the universe shaped like worms. Sort of like worm-shaped portable holes. Easy to lure away with food, nearly impossible to kill.
Patrick Stuart
09:51
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Everyone's nailing it on quality so far, I may have to blog this.
Brandon Daggerhart
12:36
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This is my favorite post-and-comment-thread in quite some time.
Ian Reilly
18:18
 
 
On foods:
Staple crop is a kind of starchy kelp bred into a quasi grain, like maize. It's farmed in shallows and lagoons. Yellow-white pleurotus mushrooms are farmed on land, (on chitin) to round out the vegetable diet. Mostly things eat meat.

Most beings, if they survive to old age, show signs of iron overload due to the chains' effect on the area - old albinos and Olm develop a bronze sheen, and arthritis is common. Alcoholism kills your liver twice as quickly as usual. Similarly, scurvy and weak bones from vitamin D deficiency are the norm, though perhaps mitigated by the busy trading that goes on.

Most people drink some kind of distilled kombucha brewed with moonflower.