Monday, January 25, 2010

Pellatarrum: the Day/Night Cycle

I have temporarily given up on writing Curse/Or and have instead chosen to work on Pellatarrum until such point as my brain decides to behave. So there!

In one of my earlier posts about Pellatarrum, I mentioned its wacky day/night cycle but didn't go into any great detail about it. This subject is worth revisiting because there are social and physiological implications inherent in having the fonts of creation and destruction radiating undiluted energy upon a world for 6 hours every day.

While the effects of the Positive Energy Plane (hereafter referred to as "the sun") and the Negative Energy Plane ("anti-sun") have already been defined in the Manual of the Planes, it is important to note that within the cosmology of Pellatarrum, their radiation must cross the infinite void of the Astral Plane before it reaches the Material, and in the process of that crossing those energies lose much of their oomph.

Which is a good thing, really, because otherwise people would be dying from hit point loss during the night, and exploding from massive hit point infusion during the day. And that would rather defeat the purpose of the habitable world the Elder races envisioned!

But there is a solid, notable, empirically proven effect that happens during the peak energy hours, and if you will pardon me for briefly descending into gamespeak for a moment, that effect is this:
  • During the hours of daylight, any roll which involves life, be it Constitution saves, natural or magical healing, etc, gains a +2 Energy Bonus to the result, and opposing rolls (see below) have a corresponding -2 Energy Penalty.
  • Likewise at night, any roll which involves death, such as necromancy, damage rolls, and the like, gains a +2 Energy Bonus, and opposing rolls (see above) have a corresponding -2 Energy Penalty.
  • During the hours of dawn and twilight, there are no bonuses or penalties, as the overlapping energies cancel each other out.

Okay. That's the mechanics out of the way. Now let's look at what they mean.

If an inhabitant of Pellatarrum wants to ensure conception, they have sex during the day, when the sun is shining and radiating soul-energy though the female's womb. For royalty, creating an heir is of utmost importance, and therefore sex at noon is practically a matter of state security. This mindset has filtered down to the peasantry, who have turned it into a siesta with almost religious significance. Farmers, of course, are nearly fanatical about this custom; if you're going to sow the fields, either figuratively or literally, best do it during daylight hours.

It is considered extremely rude to unexpectedly call upon married couples between the hours of what we would consider to be 11:00 am and 1:00 pm. Even if they are old enough to be past the age of childbearing, lunch is generally thought of as "family time." Of course, not everyone is having sex during these hours, and businesses such as taverns & inns stay open to feed travelers and those who, for whatever reason, are celibate.

As a point of interest, both breakfast and dinner are the big meals of the day (one to give you the energy to work, the other to last you through the night). Lunch is typically a small affair, much like the Tea Meal of England. Children are usually fed first, then let out to play, while the adults retire to the bedroom for playtime of their own, and their food eaten afterwards.

Conversely, night time is best suited for liaisons, assignations, and good old-fashioned affairs. This is because not only does the darkness provide cover for such activities, it also prevents unwanted pregnancies. Therefore it is entirely possible (and even likely) for married couples to engage in procreative sex during the day, and meet with their lovers at night, without ever worrying about bastardy or unwanted children.

There is however one fly in this ointment: within the D&D/Pathfinder mindset (and the mechanics do support this), diseases are not "organisms which live within me", but rather "a destructive force trying to eat me." So yes, while sex at night prevents pregnancy, it carries with it increased chances of STDs.

[Author's Note: It should be noted that the Church of the Light really doesn't care if you're married to whomever you're fucking, it just believes that procreation is sacred. You can screw who and what you want, as long as it's not done furtively or with contraception.]

This one is pretty straightforward, as much of it falls under game mechanics: you get more bang for your buck during daylight. Interestingly enough, the same is true of potions, as the healing effect is actually triggered when it is drunk, and not when it is brewed.

If you are wealthy enough or are a member of the Church, you probably have access to a room which is warded against negative energy to which you can retire in event of sickness or injury. Royalty have their personal chambers permanently warded against both Negative Energy and teleportation. Everyone else makes do with shuttered windows and lead-based paint, both of which have dubious protective abilities at best.


If an inhabitant of Pellatarrum is not well, the night can be a dangerous time. The superstition we have on Earth that death comes in the darkness is a real and proven fact on Pellatarrum.

If you're planning to murder someone, night time is the right time. You get a +2 to all damage rolls, and if your victim is poisoned or bleeding to death, they have a -2 penalty to their Fortitude saves. In many ways, this makes killing much easier, in that you don't have to deal the death blow -- the environment will do it for you as long as they aren't able to get to help in time. Of course, if they do happen to die in the night, there is an increased chance your victim will return as an undead. Fortunately most undead do not rise with supernatural knowledge of their killers, so a sensible assassin hides his face.

Conversely, if you can make it through the night, your survival during the day is practically assured. Very few people die in radiance, and those who do are typically revered as either being martyred (if they are the victims of violence) or saintly (if they died of natural causes). The basic perception is that they were too good for the world, and the Light took them home. In very rare cases (such as with Paladins and the like) this is literally true, with their bodies dissolving into radiance before dissipating, leaving nothing behind to resurrect or reanimate.

Oddly enough, this makes the logistics of warfare somewhat more complex. If you fight during the day, you inflict less damage upon the enemy, but suffer less yourself. Battles at night will carry greater casualties for both sides, with the increased possibility of the dead coming back as undead. Most commanders prefer to fight in the 6 hours of dawn, withdrawing by noon for gathering of the wounded and dead. Only the fiercest of battles fought by the worst of enemies will ever progress past dusk, and those are typically "No quarter asked, nor given" between racial foes with near-genocidal hatred of the others.

Military operations at night consist mainly of lightning raids and assassinations -- actions where the element of surprise helps protect the attacker from being hurt. The day is best suited for things which are constructive (cooking, repair, planning, blessing) or for things where injury is a possibility which should be minimized (training and sparring.)

Executions are performed at dawn or dusk, naturally.

The Undead
Only an idiot fights the undead at night. They are stronger, do more damage, and have increased chances of turning you and your friends into abominations. You, meanwhile, are more likely to lose attributes or levels to ability drain, contract a disease, bleed to death, have your soul eaten...

Turning the undead is also much harder at night, as it is also a function of channeling Positive Energy. Hunt them during the day, when they are weakest and you are strongest. Unless of course you're a necromancer...

On a related note, if you're caught outdoors at night, don't bang on the door asking to be let in. You won't be, because you're clearly an undead who wants to feast on the souls of those indoors. If you're still alive in the morning, they'll take you to the local church for healing, because if they take you in, and you die later that night, you might return as a ghost and blame them for your death.

Live in the Light, die in the Dark. In Pellatarrum, it's not superstition, it's a matter of survival.

Coming next: the seasons


  1. Welcome back! And nice! I like the flavor of the "demonstrably dangerous night."

  2. I absolutly love this Pellatarrum. I cannot wait to read how the rest of this world works.

  3. No less brilliant than any other part of this world. Particularly love the night time stuff.

  4. "What a terrible night to have a curse."

  5. I like the way it takes the superstitions humans have always held and makes them a reality. More than just making the supernatural real it makes its energies tangible in a way that would shape not only sentient society but also the habits of the wildlife.
    The idea of a world bound by traditions that are a matter of actual survival rather than simply based on folk myths is a beguiling one: it will make anyone going against the grain truly heroic/crazy and up the drama in a fairly significant manner.

    Translation: Wooooooooo! :-)

  6. I am so very very happy to have this back.


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