Myconica: The Fungal Reach

Overview

Many mistake the Wildsea for an endless sea of branches and leaves, but they’re wrong – it is an endless sea of forest, of all of the horrors and wonders of nature unbridled. Here, in the spore-laden Reach of Myconica, fungus rules the waves.

To many wildsailors the prospect of travelling the soft, spongy waves of Myconica is a daunting one. Chainsaw prows hitch and slip, teeth clogged by fast-growing fibres, every cut sending sprays of noxious liquid or clouds of spores up into the air. Soft patches are more difficult to identify, those yawning voids that can swallow a ship whole. And then, of course, there’s the mood of the sea itself – a mushroom-mind spanning the entire rotted wavescape, roused into unexpected tentacluar frenzies by the wrong pressure in the wrong place.

It’s a place few visit, and even fewer visit twice.

This Illustration

A gau shipwright tending to the internal structure of a wildsea ship, suspended above the fungal thrash.

Don’t Forget Your Towel!

The lovely crew of Don’t Forget Your Towel have just published the second part of their Wildsea adventure, tracking the ruin-delving exploits of the Star-Serpent crew as they balance a search for salvage with helping their fellow wildsailors. The first part is here too, just in case you missed it.

There’s a lot I could say about this podcast, both in terms of the amazing time I had recording it with them and how pleased I am with the final result. Listening to the raw audio files was a treat, but hearing the final versions of these with their backing tracks, sound effects and diligent cutting of off-topic nonsense is an absolute joy!

But I think what I appreciate most was the transformative nature of their work. The time they dedicated to making sure we could showcase each part of the quickstart system, the movement from scenes to montages to journeys, the willingness to throw themselves against serious obstacles and to take time thinking their way through options. They played great characters with excellent rapport, and turned what could have been a simple playtest session into a story.

I couldn’t have asked for anything more. πŸ™‚

Give it a listen if you’re in the mood for more Wildsea content, follow them on twitter @DFYT_Podcast, or check out their other shows if you want something a little different!

Felix

Get Ready for Something Big!

I’ve had a lot of feedback over the past weeks, and one of the most consistent topics has been people sorry to have missed out on the art-creation funding tiers. They went fast – which is great! – but it did leave some people disappointed.

It’s time to rectify that, at least a little. πŸ™‚

+ After conversation with our publisher Ray and our monster artist, Shmeckerel, we’ve decided to…

+ Raise the number of slots open for people to contribute a monster.

+ Possibly raise the number of slots for the people to snag a cameo.

+ And to add a whole new tier – Leviathans!

Though limited in number, backers at the Leviathan tier will be able to work with me to design a titanic creature, a living legend that holds dominance over a swathe of the rustling waves. Leviathans are expected to get a full page of art and text to themselves too, as befits their colossal status!

Details on the precise time these new slots and options go live will be posted soon. There’s at least a few days to go yet – we don’t want to catch anybody off guard.

I look forward to your creativity!

Felix

So, Quite a Lot Has Happened Recently

The Kickstarter: Funded and Beyond!

It took just under five hours to fully fund the essential physical copy of the Wildsea, and in the five days since we’ve reached just over 350% of our funding goal, with more than a thousand backers. It probably doesn’t need to be said, but we’re definitely going to say it anyway – we’re incredibly excited, thrilled and honoured that so many of you have thrown your support and belief into the Wildsea. Thank you all, so very much.

We’ve made an update on the kickstarter talking about our plans for the future in more detail, but I’ll reiterate them here – we’re going to add a few more interesting pieces of content (one of which was funded this morning), but nothing huge and time-consuming. We want the Wildsea to get to you on time and in full.

The Quickstart: Soon to be Expanded

We’ve had a massive amount of feedback on the Free Wildsea Quickstart, and it’s pretty clear that we wouldn’t have achieved the level of funding we have so far if we’d been more secretive with our plans, art and materials. To keep up the theme of openness we’ll be releasing a new, expanded version of the Quickstart at the end of the Kickstarter backing period in celebration, a pdf sturdy enough for you to take a crew through an entire campaign atop the rustling waves.

This new Quickstart will be made available to Kickstarter backers, but also to members of the Discord – there are individuals out there who, though they can’t support us monetarily, have played games, spread the word and participated in making our little community a bright and vibrant place.

If you want access to the Quickstart update when it releases but can’t afford to back the project, Discord is the way to go.

My Thanks: Boundless

Really, we couldn’t have done this without you. Whether you’ve backed or not, played or not, ever said a word to any of us or even just skimmed this over a cup of coffee, thank you. I’ll close this out now and get back to writing – a lot is already done, but we’re far from finished.

Look forward to good things. I am.

Felix

Additional Note: As I write this, England is crashing quickly toward another month-long quarantine. We’re lucky enough, and decentralized enough, that this doesn’t have much of an effect on the production of the Wildsea, but it’s definitely a stark reminder that outside forces can change your circumstances extremely quickly.

Stay safe, people.

Art Showcase: The Moss-Cloaked Pangoska

A pangoska variant living in symbiotic harmony with its envioronment, the pangoska’s precious scales are covered with a thick layer of moss and flower-bloom. Though placid by nature and subject to enviornmental preservation by several forward-thinking wildsea communities (partly due to their genial moods and supposed ability to bring good luck), pangoska can deliver a bevy of powerful punches when threatened, their highly muscled arms as useful for brawling as they are for brachiation.

The pangoska is an original creation of Shmeckerel, our new creature artist for the Wildsea! You can find more of her work Here.

The Wildsea is now less than two weeks away from our Kickstarter launch! Thank you to everyone that’s registered on the pre-launch page so far, we’re overwhelmed by the support.

The Wild Road to Kickstarter 1: Community

A personal, accurate and occasionally ugly accounting of the Wildsea TTRPG as it heads toward the looming make-or-break of Kickstarter crowdfunding. I’ll be focusing on a different aspect of the journey with each post, and I warn you upfront that I’m no expert on any of this – in fact, this series of blogs may be nothing more than a useful repository of things not to do. With that said…

I’ve gone through most of my life staying out of the realm of social media. It never felt like the place for me, because I didn’t have anything to offer – I had a small circle of real life friends scattered across the globe and a job that involved being stuck in a room for hours at a time with up to 40 energetic students. That was quite enough socializing for me. What did I have that might interest the wider world?

But over the last week, things have changed. I have something to offer now, in the form of the Wildsea, but also something a little more nebulous – a shared interest for a new community of people. All sounds a bit high-concept, perhaps, but watching it grow has been fascinating.

The Wildsea discord had been chugging along, quietly and happily, since about the beginning of August. People hopped in to contribute worldbuilding ideas for each other, ask questions about the first playtest release and sometimes even play a few games. We’d go days, sometimes weeks without an active post, and there were channels made in anticipation of content (‘Official Resources’ being the most notable) that remained pretty much empty. The Wildsea is still a small fish in the very big pond of narrative-driven indie TTRPGs, but back then it was essentially completely unknown, and the Discord reflected that perfectly.

It… Looks a little different now.

The worldbuilding channel is still there, but now receives several hundred posts a day as people discuss their own versions of the rustling waves, or speculate as to what future content might contain. There’s an art channel, newly made, for the artists to directly connect to the people that love their work. There’s a section for official resources still but far more active is the one for player-created resources – we’ve had short fiction, in-world audio drama, forest-based sea-shanties and several pieces of original music made to evoke the feeling of the sea, even an entirely new character option written by one of the early playtesters. Some of the more experienced players now run games for newer members, and for the past few nights there’s been a game almost every evening (with new members listening in on mute to get a sense of the setting and mechanics).

It’s a hell of a change.

And it is amazing.

In fact, it’s so amazing it’s surreal. The Wildsea is in bloom, bolstered every day by new people hearing about it and offering comment or criticism. It’s helped lift my spirits, spurred me to redouble my efforts in terms of marketing and outreach, and exposed some mechanical flaws of the game that can now be fixed. We even caught a few typos, the bane of any published product.

But even the most amazing developments have their downsides.

The first is a simple, mechanical concern – I need to work, but I also need to be as active as possible to engage with the people supporting my work. I owe them that in return for their interest, and I love doing it, but it takes time. And before last week, I had no idea how much time it was actually going to take up. Between comments on reddit, posts on discord, messages on twitter, listening to playtests and answering e-mails it takes 3-6 hours, split throughout the day, just to stay in touch with the community. I’ve thought more about the Wildsea, in terms of setting and mechanics, but I’ve written less. Far less, in fact.

Now we’re lucky to be in the position where 80-85% of writing for the core text is effectively done. It might need some revisions, some re-ordering, some cleaning up, but it communicates the rules and setting well enough. Listening in to new people playing the game (independent of me or any of the other experienced playtesters), their games run well and they use mechanics correctly. That was a big weight off of me when I realized.

But it doesn’t change the fact that I miss the writing. Talking to people about the things coming down the pipe in the future is great, but it’s no substitute for creating those things in the first place. And it’s not that I can’t do it – there are enough hours in the day – it’s that I’ve never had to manage my time like this before. It’s a steep learning curve.

The second is an equally mundane concern, but an important one.

I’m *tired*.

In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been this tired. Over the past week I’ve shifted my sleep schedule from its usual GMT to something closer to either EST or PST, because it’s those hours when most of the discord’s members are active and playing games. I get a couple of hours of sunlight a day, and work and chat and play or run games throughout the night, relegated to the living room to spare my housemates from the worst of the noise as they sleep. I took part in a twitch stream with the lovely people over at Flail Forward the other day that ended just past 5AM my time. The last game I ran started at 1AM. I eat breakfast at midday. After years of either a 9-5 or no job at all, it’s a shock to the system.

So is it all worth it?

Yes, emphatically. I’m more tired than I’ve ever been, but I’m also happier. We passed 200 followers on the pre-launch Kickstarter page this morning, which doesn’t seem like a bad show for a week of activity (not that I really have any metrics to measure it against, but I’m happy). I’m excited about the future, I’m absolutely in love with my community and the support they give, and despite the worry and the schedule changes and the constant half-awake feeling, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

And now I’m going to take a nap.

Felix Isaacs

Interview with Flail Forward: The Mechanical and Narrative Design of the Wildsea

Just a quick update, the stream I guested on for Flail Forward is now up on their twitch page. If you’re interested in some game-design reasoning or juicy behind the scenes truths (and there are a few), feel free to listen in here.

– Felix

Updated Playtest, New Publisher & Kickstarter Plans!

I am incredibly happy to reveal that the Wildsea has been picked up by Mythopoeia for publishing! Some of their original works were part of the inspiration for the sea itself, so this really is something of a dream come true.

So to celebrate, here are three new links for you to follow!

The first, to the Kickstarter Page – perfect if you’d like to be updated on our progress.

The second, an invite to our Discord. People do love to throw their worldbuilding theories out there, and we try to run a game for new players everey day if we can.

And the third, to an Updated Playtest that includes…

+ An additional post, the rough-and-ready Corsair
+ A dash of shipbuilding, enough to create a unique ship of your very own
+ More beasts and hazards to throw your crews against, including Jawthorn seeds, Tzelicrae Skin-Thieves and the dread Leviathan Squirrel
+ And a slice of The Foxloft, a pre-made area of the sea with its own factions and story prompts!

At the beginning of the year I posted here that 2020 was going to be the ‘year of the Wildsea’, and for a while there things weren’t looking so good. But, I can safely say, today has been a good day.

Thank you, everybody. Enjoy the waves.

Felix

The Tzelicrae

(Original post can be found on reddit, here… https://old.reddit.com/r/worldbuilding/comments/j0pwu5/the_wildsea_culture_and_history_of_the_tzelicrae/)

Perhaps the most curious of the core four bloodlines, the tzelicrae hail from within the leafy darkness of the sea itself. Beginning as self-organized colonies of spiders, a tzelicrae is truly ‘born’ when it develops a functioning hive-mind and becomes capable of acting as a single individual.

Biology

There are two important fronts to tzelicrae biology, those being their internal and external forms. Internally an individual tzelicrae is made up of thousands of spiders, constantly shifting and crawling over each other to puppeteer their external skin. Some tzelicrae reinforce their internal structure with a skeleton of driftwood and animal bones, but most prefer the fluidity that comes with a completely boneless structure.

Externally, tzelicrae create a ‘skin’ for themselves from silk, bandages and the general flotsam of the sea, often incorporating articles of clothing, gear or salvage into the whole. Masks and hoods are common, as the precision needed to accurately animate the likeness of a face takes many years to learn. It’s also commonly observed that old habits die hard, with many tzelicrae fashioning themselves additional limbs or warping their bodily dimensions to better suit their needs, unconstrained by traditional biology.

Some lucky tzelicrae win the lottery of skin, coming into possession of a donated, bartered or stolen covering taken from one of the other three major bloodlines, or from an animal or insect of the wild waves. These individuals can often pass for years as members of that bloodline, occassionally acting as spies or informers in hostile or developing settlements.

Culture

As the only one of the four common bloodlines to have been created as a direct result of the Verdancy, the Tzelicrae can trace their history back to its earliest moments with startling accuracy. Their oldest settlements are oftne built around a Huskpa, an immense living monument of silk containing spiders from all of the tzelicrae that have ever lived there. These huskpas are repositories of history and tradition, and are protected at all costs.

Due to being the best-equipped to reach the depths of the wildsea, the tzelicrae tend to adopt the cultural mannerisms and building styles of pre-verdant civilizations lost to the darkness of the roots. Scholars often have a particular reverence for their efforts, marvelling at the way they dredge and lift entire buildings from the depths to the surface.

The tzelicrae also have their own common language, Knock, created to be spoken in a variety of ways to suit the differing body shapes and capabilities of their kin. Some versions of knock are entirely oral, others signed with hands and fingers and yet others rapidly tapped out in something akin to morse code.

Tzelicrae A: A three-armed dredger of ancient and forgotten things, crawling below the surface to salvage from wrecks and ruins.

Tzelicrae B: A travelling bard with a beast-skull accordion, their clothing styled after a civilization long-lost to the roots.

Tzelicrae C: A char, a ship’s cook that has fashioned their body to better perform in the kitchen, with multiple limbs to handle food preparation and a headpiece that doubles as a makeshift table.

Art by Omercan Cirit for the Wildsea TRPG – Discord invites available on request.