Remember the “Blackbloom” worldbuilding challenge?
With 120 comments, I’d say it was a total success.
It’s a good time to pick my ten choices from that challenge, choices that help cement the true nature of Blackbloom — this is Blackbloom’s genesis, when order is forged from chaos, reality birthed from raw void. I’ve got no interview for this week — still waiting on some to come in and I’ve further got to send more questions out — and so why not jump the gun by a day and get this thing going?
First, some comments.
Picking the choices was incredibly difficult for a few reasons.
For one — and you’ll forgive the caps, won’t you — SO MANY SUBLIME CHOICES. Really. Seriously. Lots of compelling little narrative tidbits and fictional factoids. So hard to narrow it down.
Thing is, once you started to narrow them down, it became like a game — or, rather, a troubling puzzle. Because many of the items contradicted one another. Pick one, and five others are blacked out as they cannot exist in simultaneity. Further, some built off of others — so, if the primary entry isn’t chosen, then those that are piggy-backed to it conceptually also fall out of possibility.
A great many of you wanted to define the nature of the term “Blackbloom.” Many saw it as an actual flower, others had some very creatives reasons as to why the planet was named. But, like I said, you pick one of these and the others — in this case, a whole cosmic bowel-load — cease to be options.
Fascinating! And fun. And frustrating, all in one.
Some entries were more than the pre-defined 100 words.
Some entries were fictional and fun but did not present concrete information — the creative flourishes are appreciated, but also make it hard sometimes to discover exactly what’s being determined.
Some entries were concerned with apocalyptic or otherwise wretched scenarios — all of which I’m a huge fan of but were entries that in many cases felt limiting, as if we’ve already jumped to the awful part. It removes a piece of the potential future equation, when we opt to take the world we’ve built and invoke a brand new apocalypse for it. Further, in defining the “status quo” it felt like leaning apocalyptic flew somewhat in the face of that — as if “flux” was somehow part of that status quo. Finally, going with a world-ending scenario seemed perhaps to undercut the notion of world-building.
So, that being said, let’s get to the ten choices, shall we?
Oh! I should note — one of the choices, by DeAnna, built off another choice but exceeded 100 words. I didn’t know quite what to do with this because I loved it so — thus, the choice became, what was more important? The rules of 100 words, or the power of the story element? Story is obviously king, and yet, rules are in place for a reason. So, I robbed her portion of a single paragraph and kept the rest to keep it to 100 words.
* * *
There is not one God, but several. They all have god-like power over their various dominions. They alone hold the keys to salvation both for the creatures and the planet itself. But no one believes in them anymore.
* * *
In the world of Blackbloom, there is no death, there is life and there is unlife.
Upon death, the rare flower is placed in the mouth of the deceased. Three days later, brain function has returned and the person is alive once more, though they no longer grow older.
Those that can afford to pay for the Blackbloom may go about their lives again as they once did. Those who can’t afford the flower are revived to a period of indentured servitude until they can earn their freedom once more.
* * *
Nobody–human or any other race–who has been bloomed may leave the planet. Their faces (and any area that visibly flushes or blushes, like upper chest and genitals) are marked with a fine black lace that comes from staining of the blood (or other bodily fluid, in non-humans).
The Unbloomed, or people in their first lifespan, are often used as surrogates if a Bloomed needs to conduct personal business offplanet. This often is used to pay for the Bloom.
Blackbloom is sought by the dying and smugglers. The flowers won’t grow elsewhere, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a market for the pollen across the universe.
* * *
In Blackbloom Gods walk among men, but are never recognized. In their wake there is chaos.
* * *
There are vast desert areas where the sands are like oceans, and people can ride the sand in specially designed boats.
* * *
Blackbloom has three seasons:
– A rainy, humid hot season that spurs the growth of an algae-type organism which feeds most of the lower life-forms
– A dry, temperate season
– A dark season when the planet enters into a synchronous orbit with its moon, which blocks out the sun (much like an Earth eclipse) for three Blackbloomian months.
* * *
Blackboom’s central civilization is built around a stringent caste system. Everyone knows readily where they stand in station compared to those around them. However, it is not an entirely rigid caste system. Every year there are great Games in which one can win elevation of their caste, find entrance into one of the great vocations, or through penalty of disgrace lose station. Thousands enter, and less than a percent actually attain actual glory. Those few who gain reward through luck and skill are handed over to the royal surgeons for modification, each caste being represented by a dominate physical trait.
* * *
Blackbloom is the kind of place where nobody would look twice at a fedora-wearing trench-coated fellow knocking back martinis with a crumpled face slugbear draped with jewels. And if they decide to take a flitter down the vacuum boulevard, out past where the moneyed citizens build their compounds, nobody here would be inclined to go searching for them after a couple of cycles have passed. You don’t have to be running from something on Blackbloom, but it seems like most individuals are.
* * *
Blackbloom is a place where the technologies and magics of various ages and lores compete for supremacy.
* * *
Eighty years ago, an experiment returned some unusual results. Sounds, of a sort, that we could not detect normally. They were rhythmic and varied, like a whale’s song. It was clearly a language.
Six years ago, a bright young student cracked the code of the language. For the first time, we could hear what was being said, and send a message in return. The content of the speech was shocking, and overturned our ideas of what “life” was.
The cities were pretty surprised to realize we could talk, too.
* * *
(Choices by: oldestgenxer, Joshua D, Miranda Cardona, DeAnna, Palex, Amy, John Vise, Rich Mahagiz, Anthony Laffan, Lugh. Thanks to them for helping write this first proto-chapter!)
* * *
So, there you go.
Ten things we now know about Blackbloom.
We’ll be back tomorrow to think up some more, if you’re willing to join in.
Thoughts so far?