Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Severance Project 2

Here is the second part of the Severance, more notes on my thoughts about a multi-generational RPG setting where humans have shrunk to 1:12 scale, while their former animals have been uplifted, taking over the tech humans have lost.

Are We Not Men?
Ok.  I've rewritten this two or three times now.  I'm trying to figure out the best way to put this down.  Here are how the animals in Severance are and act.

Not all animals in Severance were uplifted by the same thing that shrunk humanity down.  Rats, seagulls, and other animals are unaffected by it.  Uplifted animals all are formerly domesticated animals- somehow their close proximity to humans somehow caused them to gain some aspects of human dominance that humans lost.  Language, tool use, planning and more.

They also picked up human sins as well.  Greed.  Curiosity.  Torture.  Entertainment.  War.

A rare few of these animals come to join human communities as allies, but many more remember being pets or potential food for humans.  These animals feel fine reversing the tables on humanity now.

Others form their own communities.  Enclaves where they pursue their own schemes and goals.  They are building their own civilizations, mockeries of the one we lost.

Tiny Size
The converse side of the Severance is the particulars of being tiny in size.  In the early generations, there are no tools that can let humans maintain all of their technology: scale is important here.  Since the scale is 12:1, the size difference alone makes them inoperable.

Creating new tools, at this new size becomes central to survivors.  This is where the aspects of being of such small size begin to enter play.  First off, resources are easier than at larger size.  Humans now need a exponential smaller amount of food to survive.

For early generations, being about to recover food from canned or packaged foods proves key.  But even one or two cans of food could sustain a colony for a far longer.  Hunting and gather remains an option.  However, growing most domesticated crops proves much harder than previously.  Wheat for example, becomes more of a tree than a easy grass.

As for hunting, what is hunted?  Insects, now unconstrained by human pesticides, grow in huge numbers.  It remains easy for humans to have a decent supply of food for a long time.

Tiny size has some other aspects to it too: humans at this size can survive far longer falls, their mass far lighter than before.  Human brains remain just as intelligent, or so we think.  So, the Severance makes humans more resilient against falls, eat less and take up much less space.  What are the downsides?

For the first few generations, this won't be obvious.  Later generations might not notice it either.  As smaller creatures, human perceptions of time become more elongated.  Days seem to last weeks.  They move faster.  Their hearts beat more and more.  Pregnancies take a fraction of the time before to happen, less than a month.  Lastly, humans live for far shorter lives.

This isn't obvious at first.  It remains possible for humans to last for longer periods, perhaps up toward 4 or 5 years.  But humans live for tiny span compared to before.  This is critical to understanding generations in Severance.  Those humans that maintain a count or manage to figure it out, they notice how much longer days seem.  They see how they age much faster than before.

A single generation takes less than two years to reach maturity.  Generations last 2.5 years, which humans perceive as the same age as 25 years.  Some colonies notice this change.  For others, they adapt.  They assume winters and summers have changed too.

I think the best way to create a personalized setting of Severance is to imagine your local area.  Imagine what it would be like after ten years, and create a timeline for that.  In ten years, four human generations would pass, long enough to give you an idea what that future colony of survivors might experience.