Tell Us Three Things About Blackbloom

I’ll be picking the choices from the Geography of Blackbloom later today — but for now, let’s get started on the next challenge, shall we? This time, an easy one —

Tell me three things about Blackbloom.

Three status quo things.

Can be about anything at all: religion, commerce, society, creatures, history, diplomacy, culture, geography, climate, whatever. Can be very broad or very specific. Feel free to incorporate what we already know.

Certainly don’t countermand what we know, if you can help it.

You must give three things — not one, not two, but three. One entry of three only, if you please.

Deadline is December 9th, by noon.

Put all of your “things” in the comments below.

Then, in two weeks, I’ll pick — well, as many as needed!

Go forth and build worlds, you architects of the divine.


  • 1. Tensions between castes and races really only exist for the Unbloomed. For those beyond their first lifespans, such concerns seem frivolous and superfluous compared to whatever great work they have before them.

    2. A secret society amongst the Bloomed is investigating the rumors of god and god-like powers. It is unknown if they are doing so to protect the gods, or hunt them down. They seem to exist outside of government oversight or jurisdiction, and are backed by powerful off-world interests. They identify themselves to one another by way of an obsidian representation of the Blackbloom either embroidered into cloth or as a pin or other jewelry. The distinct feature of these jewels are the red veins in the obsidian, which cannot be replicated save by some means known only to the society’s inner circle.

    3. Outside of any national interests are the Sandriders, notorious pirates in the vast sand oceans of Blackbloom. With sand cruisers augmented with off-world technology salvaged, stolen or purchased through piracy, the Sandriders waylay shipments regardless of their origin or destination. It is suspected that the Sandriders are almost all Unbloomed, seeking the means to buy their flowers without becoming indentured.

  • 1. Sundance, a Blackbloom holiday starting on the first day of Yarsi’s Rise, it is when the challenges begin in each region for society advancement. The day begins with registration, which include a large fee, and ends with open street celebration. In the middle of the day those who enter the challenges meet with competitors, view the landscape, and prepare. The first day is the only day that allows drunk, dancing, and public displays of affection on the city streets all night. At night a lot of the local families stay indoors, because the rate of violence is extremely high.

    2. Setchaos, the all-day closing celebration on the fourteenth and final day of Yarsi’s Rise, is when the class alterations have been submitted to the district caste keepers, the Magrium. This is a hard day for many of people of Blackbloom. The chance for upgrading becomes harder as the rules increase. The Magrium raise the bar unfairly every year, with their personal expectations for excellence. At night there are a few celebrations, but mostly drunks and arrests.

    3. There is a rumored existence of Death’s return through the wind, the flowers enemy. It is called Kinnis’s Release and has been hidden on the edge of death and life. Only the most favored of Kinnis’s followers have heard of this rumor and only the devoted have attempted the quest to find Death. They believe that rest should be granted to those who truly deserve it.

  • 1) Blackbloom’s currrency is metal-based. The highest valued metal is gold, with silver, copper, and bronze beneath it. Only the wealthiest of the Bloomed posses any amount of gold.

    2) Alchemy is one of the most commonly practiced arts. Many Unbloomed seek to find a way to gain their own immortality without needing a buy a flower. As a result, it has become an outlawed art. Unless, of course, you are a Bloomed.

    3) The cities, with Gloss as their messenger, are planning something very big. No one except the cities themselves knows entirely, and even Gloss is half-sketchy on any details. Whatever it is, it is a certainty that Bloomed and Unbloomed alike will not like the result.

  • 1. The people have subtle but distinctive traits which identify the “season” of their conception and gestation (wet, dry or dark). As families grow over many seasons there are many traits present and some good natured teasing on all sides. While friends & casual lovers may be of any “season”, marriages greatly tend to be among same-season pairs. Those rare individuals whose gestation crosses seasons show the traits of both and are viewed as either magical or mutated, depending on who is looking.

    2. If you are cultured, you can tell what city someone grew up in by how they prepare and drink their tea. Spies and others traveling incognito know this and go to great lengths to affect the local mannerisms.

    3. Everyone knows how to play a kind of 3-sided checkers game, variously representing the 3 seasons, or 3 levels of gods, or 3 stages of life (child, adult, bloomed). it is used to teach children to count and soldiers to learn strategy. Poor children Play in the mud or dust with loose pebbles, rich people play with elaborately carved & painted sets of exquisite materials & workmanship, sailors play with pieces made from a sticky tree resin that won’t slide off the board while at sea. If you get caught cheating with the wrong crowd you might be risking your life, too.

  • 1) There is a hidden oasis or city within the great deserts. Some say it is just an oasis. Some say it holds a true fountain of life without the hideous cost of the Blackbloom. Others say it is an ancient city now how to the gods. Many seek it out year after year. None have returned.

    2) The great deserts also hold the biggest game hunt in the galaxy. The people of the planet affectionately call them sand dragons (while scientists vigorously decry that they are simply large lizards with no mythical origins). It brings the richest tourists who wish to claim they killed a sand dragon. A 6 legged reptile with spike tail, it seems harmless enough until it spits acid onto your mode of transportation and you’re forced to walk through the desert back to civilization. They are incredibly agile despite their massive size, they are truly one of the most vicious hunters in the universe.

    3) Like any living organism, the cities also must have a way to fight off infection and disease. crawling beneath the surface of the cities are ghasts, white maggot like creatures the size of a cat that devour rotting things. The sick and poor pick very carefully where they choose to sleep for fear that they will awake to find a ghast devouring a diseased limb. On the plus side, the people have little to worry about sewage and the disposal of corpses.

  • I am in awe of everyone’s detailed response and suddenly feel very inadequate in my world-building skills.

    I’ll have to watch from afar, nothing I’ve thought of really is clever enough for this bunch.

    :: slinks back to writing cave ::

  • 1 – Bread must be broken with two hands, but each hand can belong to a different person. It is considered bad luck to break bread from a different end of the loaf and has been known to start wars. Bread is never left to go stale nor is it fed to animals or allowed to touch the ground even if left as an offering to a god (it must be placed upon something); doing such is also considered bad luck.

    2 – Desert nomads use intricate scarves to identify themselves. Tribe, clan, family (lineage is traced via the mother) and profession are all stitched on one end which is always worn so that it falls over the left breast. This is so as caravans pass one another in the desert or during a sandstorm they can identify one another without showing their face. There are other ideograms used as identifiers but few outsiders know what they mean and those who do are not willing to share that information.

    3 – The cessation of conflicts between nation-states, city-states and other entities including the living cities takes place at a hexagonal table. 3 parties are represented, the two at war and a third which hold four of the 6 seats at the table. The third party, whose part is to enable peace to be established, is made up of an Arbiter, a Sentinel, a Harbinger and a Moderator. Each has a particular role in the pursuance of peace. All four people are bloomed but each is from a separate place and all have lived long enough to see their own homelands (nation-states, city-states, etc) fade into history. The Arbiter ensures that the peace brokered is carried out. The Sentinel ensures that there is peace at the meeting and all are safe and protected. The Harbinger ensures that peace is created. The moderator runs the meeting and ensures that diplomatic relations are cordial and timely. The corps, as it is known is select in its choice of members and as stated before they come only from the bloomed. There have only been five times in recent history when either the Harbinger or Arbiter has been forced to act. The Sentinel has never been tested.

  • Have I mentioned how much I’m loving the desert stuff?

    1. Prostitution is legal, but getting a haircut from one who is not a family member or friend (or, in a pinch, a prostitute) is not. The hair may either be preserved or destroyed, but is never left in the garbage. One of the bloomed is reputed to have a mile of hair, which he refuses to have shorn after his beloved deserted him (or died; the story varies); oddly, he goes without a beard. Nobody cares about what happens to their nails, though, except for crazy people.

    2. The tea comes from an extremely sweet flower to which bitter spices have to be added in order to make it palatable for most–the spice blend depends on the species and often has to be imported. People who drink the tea straight are considered mentally defective; they do tend to starve themselves to death, because the tea has no calories on its own.

    3. While people wear all kinds of footgear, the best kinds of boots for desert work are the fuser boots, which have this nifty little sensor that assesses the stability of the sand underfoot, and throws out a magnetic wave adjusted to “fuse” the sand underfoot for as long as the boot is near. The sand isn’t literally fused, but, containing trace amounts of iron, is merely stiffened while in proximity with the boot. (Earlier fuser boots literally fused the sand with heat, but this proved to consume too much energy as well as providing a handy trail for anyone wanting to steal the boots.) Some fuser boots have been modified by thieves for climbing up walls, etc. They aren’t particularly good in mud or caves, and the only way to survive a sinkhole in these things is to run *really fast.*

  • 1) Alchemy is largely practiced by the Unbloomed, in
    hope that a way to become Bloomed without a flower can be found.
    As a result, alchemy is outlawed, with any offenders sentenced to
    spend whatever remained of their first life in prison.
    After they die, they are revived and made a Branded – a servant
    with no freedom, destined to spend their life as such. They are
    forbidden from taking part in the yearly games as well.

    2) The currency of Blackbloom has four denominations. In order of
    ascending value, they are bronze, copper, silver, and gold. They are
    all coins, with flowers on the faces. Only the wealthiest of the
    Bloomed have much, if any, gold.

    3) Blackbloom has two harvest celebrations. One, simply called
    Harvestime, is when the farmers bring in their crops and kill
    livestock for preservation, near the end of the wet season and
    before the start of the dry season. The second harvest celebration
    is during the dark season, when the Blackbloom flowers bloom. This
    period of time is called Darkharvest.

  • 1) Before the advent of flight there was a rough equivalent to our “Silk Road” on Blackbloom, with traders in sand skiffs charging exorbitant fees to cross the shifting deserts or ferry goods. This has of course been reduced by the rise of transport technology.

    2) Magic and Technology compete, yes, but there are those who strive to master both in a sort of unholy union. Such attempts are often suppressed by either mages or technocrats in fear of someone getting a little too powerful. It is one of the few things that the magic wielders and techno junkies can agree on.

    3) While you can legitimately change your caste by succeeding at games or occasional heroic feats there is of course a less legitimate route. An entire black market of surgeons and scientists and transmogrifiers will gladly give you the physical characteristics of another caste. For a price of course, and caveat emptor.

  • 1. There are two factions that consider themselves to be above the petty bickering and squabbles of the political games of Blackbloom: the Unburdened and the Thraden. The Unburdened make up a group of people sworn to never partake of the Bloom. They believe it is their duty to continue death’s work and kill the Bloomed (Not Death the god, of course). Many of the Unburdened have come from high positions within society and remain there, now as infiltrators. The Thraden are those who have eaten the Bloom and profess to follow the gods. They are over-zealous and violent, justifying their actions as commandments from the gods. These two factions are constantly at war with each other, albeit a secret and quiet war, full of assassinations and backstabbing.

    2. While the pirates and marauders of the deserts are feared enough to warrant trips around the sands to avoid run-ins, none are more feared than the “pirates” of the dark season. Aptly named the Umbrae, and only appearing during the three months of darkness, these pirates have no preference as to which territory or port they attack . They come in stealth ground ships, kill without mercy, and leave without plundering. Their motives are still unknown, but survivors of their attacks are strangely overcome by the need to search for “the Light.” Psychologists have theorized that the Light is, in fact, the Umbrae’s planet of origin.

    3. Coming of age on Blackbloom is usually cause for celebration. Along with the choice of a career and apprenticeship, the youngling is given his or her Indicia: the tokens which identify them. The Indicia is comprised of both a small tattoo on the wrist and an object of the youngling’s choosing. The object, called a Krim, is fashioned by the youngling’s own hand and is unique to each individual. Krims are exchanged between betrothed exactly one week before the marriage ceremony. Because of recent technological advances, higher caste Indicia tattoos have been forged, allowing some to move up in rank without completing the required challenges. Now, a special ink made from the crushed petals of used Blooms is used for the Indicia tattoos.

  • Here are my three whimsical entries.

    1. The Zenchwesel is a small, purple fish that’s considered to be a delicacy due to it being only edible for 17 minutes of its life. If the fish are harvested too soon, then they deteriorate into a tasteless pulp when cooked. If the fish is harvested too late then the Zenchwesel’s fully developed poison glands have made the fish deadly. This has made Cooked zenchwesel a delicacy for any one rich or lucky enough to be able to get their hands on them.

    2. Knixreldt are large domesticated reptiles, covered in scales and thick fur. They are large enough to swallow their owners, yet despite their size they have never attacked their owners and are considered to be one of the friendliest pets to own. They are more common among the poorer of Blackblooms citizens because of their low food requirements but more often because during the harsh winter months they can be used as an alternative to a warm bed. The Knixreldt would swallow their owner and keep them safe until the morning, when they would be released unharmed.

    3. The Great Waste is a festival celebrated by the richest of Blackblooms citizens. The festival goers each cook something splendid to bring to the festival. The finest of wines are brought and the most expensive ingredients are chosen for the meals. No expense is spared. After setting the food up in a prominent place in the city or village, the festival goers let it go to waste. They don’t eat any of it; they simply walk back to their houses and go to bed, leaving the food to rot. The origins of such a ridiculous festival have long since been lost. it wasn’t long before the poorer citizens started a celebration of their own. It took place as soon as The Great Waste had finished, and the rich had gone to bed. They called it the Great Feast.

  • 1. Since Blackbloomers don’t dig into religion and all that god-stuff anymore, magic is considered the science of weirdness. Formulaic spells and rituals are achieved by carefeul experimentation, following strict and methodical protocols. Thaumatologists often use proxy models to explain why magical procedures and phenomena work the way they are supposed to. There’s no Unified Magic Theory, though; magic is a fact, but weirdness is weird enough, and people tend to go with the most elegant or inspired explanation, even though it won’t account for everything. “It’s happening. Isn’t it reason enough?” Awe and wonder in the face of magic are considered dangerous, because the prevailing model states that such responses could provoke a chain reaction that would lead to the implosion of the framework of reality.

    2. Magic-users are either born with reality-bending capabilities or they receive regular injections of magic-conducive plasmids. The natural ability is called “Deviancy”, and thaumatologists can foresee the coming of a “Deviant” using scrying techniques, but there’s no evidence that it could be an inheritable trait. The plasmids can cause terrible side effects, and magic-wielders who have volunteered to receive them are considered “True-Called”. The Blooming can either snuff out or enhance the Deviancy/True-Calling, and the end result is nigh unpredictable, even for experienced scryers.

    3. Cities are born already old and wise, with one notable exception. Narmida is playful, “wide-eyed”, a dreamer. Phit* lays out pher** streets in wild, interesting and/or funny patterns, makes the urbanscape amusing. Phit is also fond of bright and merry places, but sometimes phit has fun turning pher citizens’ expectations upside down. However, Narmida’s most interesting personality trait is that phit is trying very hard to “take to the skies”.

    * Phit and pher are, respectively, singular pronoun and possessive adjective the cities phemselves have suggested other Blackbloomian sentient beings should use while referring to well… phem.

  • 1. There are three aspects to the beings of Blackbloom. The body, the spirit, and the soul. The body is the vessel used on their time in the physical world. It contains the spirit which in turn contains the soul. Upon death, the spirit is released which is the vessel for the soul to travel the next plane of existence.

    2. The Blackbloom flowers bring the dead back to life. They accomplish this by creating a lifeline to the spirit. The spirit is no longer contained within the body but is leashed to it through the bloom. This has a number of effects, albeit subtle for most. It is possible to sever this connection causing “True Death.” It is also theoretically possible to utilize this connection to connect to the next plane of existence, and many other applications have been theorized.

    3. There is an underground faction who have acquired the ability to manipulate the bloom’s connections. Some have said they have large spans of time missing from their memory and waking up in strange locations. It is theorized if the connections can be switched or multiple connections to the same host, a body is nothing more than a puppet and the connections the puppeteers. Multiple connections is a battle of wills to control the host vessel and a lot more intrusive where a switch would be less so but more dangerous to the parties involved as a permanent severed connection can cause “True Death.”

  • 1) Alchemy is largely practiced by the Unbloomed, in hope that a way to become Bloomed without a flower can be found. As a result, alchemy is outlawed, with any offenders sentenced to spend whatever remained of their first life in prison. After they die, they are revived and made a Branded – a servant with no freedom, destined to pend their life as such. They are forbidden from taking part in the yearly games as well.

    2) The currency of Blackbloom has four denominations. In order of ascending value, they are bronze, copper, silver, and gold. They are all coins, with flowers on the faces. Only the wealthiest of the Bloomed have much, if any, gold.

    3) Blackbloom has two harvest celebrations. One, simply called Harvestime, is when the farmers bring in their crops and kill livestock for preservation, near the end of the wet season and before the start of the dry season. The second harvest celebration is during the dark season, when the Blackbloom flowers bloom. This period of time is called Darkharvest.

  • 1) Kargur is the drink of choice among the lowest caste. It is a vile drink created by squashing gobo (a sour vine fruit) into a glass jar and throwing in a live takan (a common crab-like creature from the sand-oceans). The jar is set in the sun for 30 days, or until the takan’s shell turns from brown to green. The jar is then buried for an additional 60 days before the fermentation process is complete. It is common practice to pour 1/3 of the kargur from the jar back to the sand-ocean before drinking.

    In the old days, this was to pay tribute to Ashpuddle in hopes that things lost would be found. In present times, people have forgotten exactly why they pour out 1/3 of the drink and assume it’s to get rid of any of the grit and scum that has floated to the top.

    2) The takan that has been pickling in the kargur is left in the jar until all of the beverage is gone. It is then shelled and eaten and is far more intoxicating than the kargur. The shells are discarded back into the sand-oceans. It is recommended that the pickled takan is shared among 3 people and eaten with bread. Those who brave to eat only the takan by themselves are susceptible to hallucinations and wandering into the sand-oceans

    3)The takan’s natural predator is a sand-ocean serpent called a “shotto.” It has fins and a gaping mouth similar to that of an eel and is covered in scales to help it crawl through the sand. Its teeth are venomous. One bite will induce powerful hallucinations and, in large doses, necrosis of the skin. The venom is ingested or smoked by those who are seeking a thrill. It has been banned in certain countries due to its toxic and disruptive nature.

  • Weapons in Blackbloom range from conventional firearms to the far more exotic. However, socially, most weapons carried are designed to maim more then kill. Particularly among the bloomed, there is great satisfaction and status from giving a visible mark to an enemy that they have to carry for centuries.

    Children are often put to work early, and only occasionally in the family business. Many find their way into apprenticeships, but among the very poor there are work houses waiting to relieve the parents of the financial burden of childcare, while putting those children on the long, hard road to earning enough for their own bloom.

    There is a small sect of people who find the bloom abhorrent and unnatural. Though many look down upon those who dictate in their wills and wishes that they will never take on a second life, some of Blackbloom’s great heroes, changers, and legends have lived only the one life. The passion to accomplish something meaningful in one lifespan often takes over the urge to acquire the funds necessary to live a second or third.

  • 1. Those who study the Blackbloom flowers for many lifetimes have learned that there are at least 9 distinct “bloodlines” among the species. Primes, the rarest, are said to grow directly from the blood of Death, which is quickly running out. Some arcanists claim that using a Prime for a first Bloom creates the Unclean Gods. Fewer say that doing so destroys everything in the Unbloomed, leaving behind something the polar opposite of the being it replaced.

    2. Technologists are of all castes, and none. A person can become a technologist by spending 256 days in The Center, and can stop being one by saying “I renounce my Calling, my Center and my Core” four times in a year. Perena takes great pleasure in tricking Technologists in to doing this. Arcanists, on the other hand, are the only caste that can never be changed, even down generations.

    3. There is no word for “erase” in any known native tongue on Blackbloom.

  • Really struggled to think of three really good ideas, probably still didn’t manage it but here it goes. I also had a cool idea about a fantastical quasi-UN type structure staffed by the undead kings of Blackbloom but Sven got there before me with his infinitely cooler idea about how peace is made and maintained following war.

    The Islands of Yasrial are the most wealthy of the free lands where the Caste system isn’t the basis of the society. A nation of pirates, thieves, smugglers, romantics and harlots the islands are generally viewed with negative connotations across Blackbloom, “a parasite state that feeds off the immorality of the modern world” is how one King famously put it. Whilst Yasri the god for whom the Islands are named has been forgotten her influence still tells in Yasrialian culture, it is said that there are more brothels than there are streets in the islands though no official census has ever taken place to confirm this. Also the myriad of festivals each with it’s accompanying national dance has led to the common belief that the phrase “Dances like a Yasrialian” originates in reference to the islanders. Though technically not a unified state, each port considers itself its own principality led by whoever has claimed the title of Pirate Prince since the last round of assassinations. Whilst the people of Yasrial are viewed as depraved and amoral especially within the Casted lands the islands do still maintain good relations with the rest of the world. Merchants the world over flock to Yasrial seeking to avoid taxes and acquire goods cheaply without the stifling red tape and laws that exist in the wider world. Even the leaders of other Blackbloomian states are keen to foster cordial relations for in times of war the fleets of a Pirate Prince may be a useful resource to be allied with.

    With the gods of Blackbloom long forgotten it is to science that the people of Blackbloom have turned to in order to answer the questions that trouble their souls. As such the Ecclesiastical Caste of the Casted societies are men of science not of faith. Across Blackbloom there are dozens of churches each one that concerns itself with a specific facet of knowledge and technological advancement. Not all of these churches think alike however, many are thousands of years old and still maintain the founding believes and theories of their founders. This has led to many occasions where violent schisms have occurred in churches and nations have gone to war as churches in differing states disagree about particle physics. It is often the case for young priests to find their creativity and desire stifled by the structure of the churches for in the words of Archbishop Isriam “it is fantastic that these young minds want to discover new things but one must be careful with them. They often have a tendency to try and disprove the absolute truths that we have held for centuries and the truth doesn’t stop being so because their mathematics disagrees.” With this backdrop of resistance to ideas that challenge the established beliefs and the use of violence to establish the dominant theories and beliefs it is unsurprising that the minds that are arguably the most gifted often find themselves fleeing the church and seeking shelter in the freelands where a free king or Pirate Prince may support their research in return for the technological expertise and other wisdoms the priest may have.

    There are times in ones life when one may find themselves dissatisfied with their place in the world. This dissatisfaction often happens upon blooming when a disconnect between the life that ended and the one now held can form in a persons mind though it may happen at anytime. It is to cater to this disillusionment that the games happen in all the Casted lands allowing a person the chance of escape. However it is no little secret that few are those who succeed at the games, and thus there are many who turn to the illegal black market transmogrifiers but with their prices it is unsurprising that many more still merely seek to escape and make a run for it. Those who run are known as the Pariasect, they are directionless drifters for the most part as if they aspired to a new caste and new life they could’ve ventured down another path. However to flee from ones duty and ones caste is a most heinous crime, punishable by death for the unbloomed and worse for the bloomed and so to become a member of the Pariasect is to doom oneself to wondering the wilds of Blackbloom drifting beyond the law and eventually fleeing to one of the free lands. However in modern times it has become in some lands a law that is little enforced due to the numbers fleeing and the difficulty in catching them all. Besides the Pariasect have forgone all their rights and thus have been rounded up to form slave labour for great works or as penal armies to be sent to war. Few are those who object to such treatment and would rather face their punishment. All Pariasect know to avoid the attentions of the authorities, for even during times where they are tolerated by the wider governance the judges are all traditionalists who know the law concerning the Pariasect is absolute and unchallengeable.

  • Slugbear time!

    1. The present day Slugbear is the product of selective breeding and genetic engineering. Originally created as a beast of burden, the Slugbear unintentionally evolved into a far more intelligent creature than anyone intended.

    2. Slugbears range from seven to twelve feet tall as adults, and have short life-spans of only twenty or thirty years, this seems all the shorter when one considers that they cannot be resurrected with the Blackbloom flower. They tend to either live alone, working as Jack-of-all-trade mercenaries, or in groups that specialize in one specific type of work. Whatever they do, they are a relentless, objective-oriented race, and will work toward their goals in a hell-bent, straightforward fashion, or likely die in the attempt.

    3. Slugbears while not considered a part of the caste system, are usually well treated and well liked by the lower and middle castes, as they provide a lot of the brute force required in maintaining comfortable living conditions. They care little for whatever mind-games the humans of Blackbloom are up to, and tend to behave aloof to social norms in general due to their simplified, straightforward way of thinking.

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