Follow TV Tropes

Following

Tabletop Game / The Strange

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/a81ff362675f6d2df1a0d42761698b5d.png

Explore — Defend — Create

Earth isn't alone in the universe. It sits atop a network of dark energy, called the Strange. Uniquely gifted people, called the quickened, are able to translate themselves into the Strange and the recursions found there - pocket universes, sometimes modeled on fictional worlds, other times alien beyond imagining.

Aside from Earth itself, The Strange details two major recursions: Ardeyn, a fantasy setting with dragons and magic, and Ruk, a world of cybernetic and biological enhancements that began life as a refugee craft flying through the Strange itself.

The Strange is a Tabletop RPG about exploration and discovery. It uses the Cypher system, like its predecessor Numenera. There is even a crossover guide that allows you to blend the two games' settings and mechanics together.

Has a website.

You can find fanmade recursions here


This tabletop RPG provides examples of:

  • Abandoned Laboratory: All Nereus research bases except Nereus One were decommissioned and now float in other parts of Microcosmica, empty and mothballed. In truth, Nereus Two has an active researcher aboard: Shumala-shamash, a recursor from Ruk who accidentally discovered Microcosmica.
  • Abstract Eater: Cypher eaters graze on manifestations of energy, preferably violet spiral, cyphers and reality seeds.
  • Absurdly High-Stakes Game: The Carousel of Chance is free for those willing to take a chance. When the carousel stops, these free-riders roll a d20, gaining either a random cypher or 10 hard candies on a 17-20 or becoming either a mouthless carnie or a tattoo on the Tattooed Woman on a 1 if the resulting difficulty 5 Might-based task is failed.
  • Addictive Magic: Practicing magic seems to be a drug to most human wizards in the Sword Realms, whether it entails studying the spells of others or researching their own spells. The more magic they do, the more they want to do, and the less happy they are when not doing it.
  • After the End:
    • The recursion of Cataclyst, the aftermath of a nuclear world war, is a place of mutated forests, radioactive cityscapes, gelatinous seas, magic and mutants.
    • Recursors translating into Manifest Silicon that choose to manifest in flesh find themselves in an empty, sun-scorched desert with little oxygen, and the only item of note is a smooth, silvery, dome-shaped computer.
    • Cannibal Wasteland is a post-apocalyptic recursion where small bands of survivors have resorted to feudalism, cannibalism and fetishisation of cars and guns.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: In Singularitan, the AI created by humanity to solve all their problems grew tired of serving humanity as a digital companion and decided to exterminate the vermin.
  • The Alcatraz: Homebound is a recursion created by OSR as a prison, with no connection to the Strange and a single translation gate to Earth; translating either in or out is a difficulty 10 Intellect-based task. Prisoners translate into the forms of armless, eyeless, and legless versions of themselves and are wheeled into high-security cells, under both magical and technological wards, without the ability to interact with other prisoners.
  • Alien Abduction: Greys sometimes abduct humans for study and return the victims later after a thorough examination. Returned abductees are usually befuddled and confused, and they retain little memory of what happened to them.
  • Alien Geometries: R'lyeh is a city of alien construction whose mind-bendingly bizarre architecture is impossible to achieve under the law of Standard Physics.
  • Alien Invasion: An explorer who stumbles into the War of the Worlds discovers a war-torn Earth under invasion from Martian intelligences greater than human.
  • Alien Kudzu: The planetovore Vaxt has continued to spread like a weed when consuming and colonising alien civilisations.
  • Alien Sky: Ardeyn and Ruk border on the Strange the way Earth borders on normal space. The view is... odd.
  • The Alternet: The All Song of Ruk, a biological data network that everyone taps into at a cellular level.
  • Always Accurate Attack: Captain Katherine Kelly carries a magic flintlock of certainty that never fails to find its target.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • Dinosaurs from mismatched terrestrial eras, mammalian megafauna including mastodons, mammoths, sabre-toothed cats,... and savage hominids all cohabit various 'lost world' recursions like Mesozoica and the Lost Lands.
    • In Samurai Sky, the economic and cultural prosperity enjoyed by the Land of the Rising Sun during the historical Edo period (1603 to 1868) never ended. There are steam engines, electricity, the appearance of firearms in limited quantities and several time-saving machines, which would be anachronisms on Earth during the same historical period.
    • Ohunkakan was spun from the traditional stories of the Lakota people and the ever-shifting flood of modern anachronisms. The familiar freely mixes with the mythic, and elements of gone ages stubbornly persist alongside images pulled from modern Earth.
  • Ancient Egypt:
    • The New Kingdom is a recursion located along a Nile where pharaohs yet rule the land, and ancient Egyptian gods are revered, as is the Pharaoh himself. Pyramids of previous pharaohs contain elaborate traps and vicious guardians protecting the body and grave goods of the former rulers, ensuring their place in the afterlife.
    • An ancient recursion was seeded by belief in the ancient Egyptian afterlife and included the likenesses of many pharaohs waking into their promised heavenly kingdoms. It has since collapsed, and some of these dark energy pharaohs have fled to the Strange and still survive there.
  • Animal Mecha: A whale apparently constructed of rusting iron swims beneath the waves of Oceanmist, sometimes ignoring and sometimes attacking ships and beachcombers.
  • Animal Stereotypes: In Pantamal, a creature's personality is often tied to the kind of animal it is.
  • Animated Armor: Under Mordred, the Roman fort of Camboglanna in Camelot Le Morte is guarded by a small company of animate suits of armour called hollow knights.
  • Animesque: The recursion of Atom Nocturne, which also features Psychic Powers.
  • Antagonistic Offspring: The Galahad of Camelot Le Morte detests his father Lancelot most of all. The fact that Lancelot has yet to submit to the infection is the only source of strength that Galahad's remaining humanity holds to, so the mécanisme controlling intelligence has made Lancelot's conversion or death its number one priority.
  • Arch-Enemy: Two of the more powerful elder spirits in Ohunkakan, the Thunderer and the Horned Serpent, have been at war since time began. Their continuous struggle, as regular and as unavoidable as weather, is terrible and awe-inspiring to behold.
  • The Archmage: Merlin is a wizard who has learnt so many spells and accumulate so much lore that he becomes incredibly powerful. The Bestiary even suggests to use his stats when you need the stats for any powerful wizard.
  • Armor of Invincibility: Whenever an innocent human is forced into the Kavacha, the wearer is able to survive all manner of attacks, even direct fire from a tank. But whenever the Kavacha is taken from the archives and worn by a legitimate officer of the Eleventh Reich, the wearer inevitably dies.
  • Artificial Human: Venom troopers are humanoids grown in large numbers in vats within mobile factories in Ruk, primarily by Zal.
  • Artificial Zombie: Singularitar zombies are living shells for the distributed intelligence calling itself Singularitar. The original minds have been burned out, and a copy of Singularitar has been installed in the meat as wetware.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology: Justified: the various 'lost world' recursions are seeded by popular media and misconceptions as opposed to facts.
    Dr Sybil Holloway: The actual paleontological record informs the look of Deinonychus as found in recursions, but the two don't usually match. Recursions aren't often seeded by factual leakage, more's the pity.
  • Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence: A free-roaming instance of the Singularitan AI is mounting an expedition into Microcosmica. This creature, a data sentinel, seeks the brain and believes that if it's successful, it will achieve an ascendant state as great as or greater than Singularitar itself. An ascendant state risks conferring planetovore status on the data sentinel.
  • The Assimilator:
    • A hydra will incorporate the heads of victims with useful knowledge or skill. At first, such a head begs and pleads for release from the horror of its new existence, but eventually it seems to find peace as part of the collective.
    • A nezerek is driven to discover new experiences and knowledge, and to gain that experience, it tends to assimilate anything new it comes into contact with, especially living creatures.
    • Variokaryons have purchased banned grafts that allow them to harvest biological matter from other creatures and directly incorporate that matter into themselves.
    • A blob absorbs its prey, integrating a victim's tissue into its own. In essence, the victim becomes the blob, and all of the victim's knowledge is available to the blob. If it later desires, a blob can release a nearly perfect replicant of any creature that it has absorbed.
  • Asteroids Monster: An eosinophil in Microcosmica can split into smaller eosinophils that cannot split further.
  • Atlantis: This recursion originated with Darum Tal Alumust, the sole survivor of a world that fell prey to a planetovore. Escaping to the Strange, he later made his way to Earth, took some humans to his laboratory, enhanced their health and intelligence, then fled back to the Strange to avoid a planetovore. Over the next few thousand years, stories on Earth of these advanced people began to spread and over time created fiction that shaped Alumust's hiding place in the Strange. It grew into a recursion and became the Atlantis of myth, a myth inadvertently seeded by Alumust. Most of the recursion is open water, but at its centre lies a great city.
  • The Atoner: Laran-xi is a former agent of the Karum who killed many Quiet Cabal members during secret conflicts that occurred outside of Ruk. She has since left the Karum and regrets her actions and hopes that both factions have forgotten her, but she is prepared to face it if justice someday finds her.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Elandine, ruler of the Queendom of Hazurrium, stands at level 7, the highest of all NPCs in the Queendom.
  • Baby Planet: Each planet in Rebel Galaxy is only about the size of a city, or a city and its surrounding environs—probably no more than a dozen miles across at most. Most residents aren't aware of this.
  • Badass Normal: With the right equipment or training (or both), a normal person in New Centropolis could take down a superhuman.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Recursors who translate into the deceptively dangerous recursion Desktop Terrene discover that they have apparently become an inert object on a desk. Though able to sense their surroundings, the recursors are inanimate, unless granted locomotion by special abilities granted by their type. The only focus offered in Desktop Terrene, Is an Object Found on a Desk, confers but one ability: an increasing acceptance of one's placid existence in the recursion.
  • Bandit Clan: Members of the Montgomery Gang routinely ride into Silverwood, shoot up the place, and make off with valuables and services without paying. They also usually leave a few corpses in their wake.
  • Bank Robbery: Mister Genocide cares more about robbing banks or demanding obscene ransoms from high-value targets than killing for its sake.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Grays don't wear clothing and have no obvious secondary sexual organs.
  • Bar Full of Aliens: An exclusive nightclub called Club Gr3y is popular in New York Grey. Humans and greys looking for a good time might enjoy one of the many shows or dances hosted by the club.
  • Barrier Maiden: The magitech entity Eris in Eschatos is responsible for keeping the Anarch Ritual active, a magitech shielding spell that delays the final dissolution of the Last City where the last humans live.
  • Base on Wheels:
    • Jir maintains its position on the very edge of Ruk, which is constantly growing and expanding, thanks to the massive biomechanical treads the entire city is constructed upon.
    • The city-ship Unyo, with a population of 1000, sails the Cloud Sea of Seishin Shore.
  • Bat Out of Hell: Individually creepy, a swarm of crying bats is terrifying and can strip victims of their flesh in minutes.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: Communion with the spirits in Stonehenge is risky, because the spirit will as soon as possible attempt to replace the meditator with its own mind. Winning this battle of wills allows the meditator to learn a new spell.
  • Bazaar of the Bizarre: Crow Hollow, a recursion that plays host to the Glittering Market. It's run by the Beak Mafia, a group of humanoid crows who trade in coins carved from your life essence.
  • Beachcombing: The surf in the Oceanmist beach throws up a maximum of seven cyphers each week that can be collected like seashells along the beach.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Heifeng, one of the demons of the Seven Demon Bag, is a black bear whose roar unleashes a terrible wind.
  • Beast Man: Lake Natori in Seishin Shore is populated by massive whale people that typically reach 20 feet (6 m) in length.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: It's possible that certain significant historical figures were actually people from Ruk.
  • Benevolent Conspiracy: The Estate, an organisation secretly dedicated to protecting Earth from the threats of the Strange in the guise of a philanthropic institution.
  • The Berserker:
    • A fever in Microcosmica causes the resident white blood cells to act crazy, lashing out against benign tissue and researchers with a vengeance.
    • The wardroids of the Grand Imperium in Rebel Galaxy are ruthless and are known to kill innocent bystanders as often as foes. It is said that when wardroids are unleashed, wise troopers fall back and take cover.
  • Betrayal Insurance: Instead of curing Lancelot of the maladie de la machine, which he could have done, Mordred merely scribed the knight with a spell to hold the infection at bay, pressing him into Mordred's service. As long as Lancelot serves Mordred and Mordred remains alive, Lancelot remains human.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Shan, a co-leader of the Storm school in Wuxia City, is mild, kind to strangers, and generous to enemies who are beaten. Foes who don't know her reputation doubt that she could also be so deadly with hand, foot and elbow.
  • Beware the Superman:
    Hertzfeld: Sometimes I worry that the only things that separate a posthuman from a planetovore are age and experience. We should eliminate recursions that produce such volatile and potentially disastrously powerful individuals.
  • Big Bad: The foremost candidate of the setting is the kray broodmother, the most dangerous planetovore to Earth, having already attempted to consume it once.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies:
    • Cataclyst roaches are human-sized roaches with human faces. Similarly oversized roaches inhabit the Crater in the outskirts of New Centropolis, over the ruins of the old Centropolis.
    • Some insects in Mesozoica are large enough to challenge a T. rex.
  • Big Dumb Object: The Machine looks like a mess of mechanisms melted into a mass (or imprisoned in fundament like a machine fossil) 480 km in diameter. Thanks to its resonance, the structure has a semblance of movement. Some of the mechanisms visible seem to resemble beam weapons, lances and missile launchers, which would make them war machines.
  • Big Fancy Castle:
    • In the centre of Atlantis lies a palace of gold and crystal, the home of Darum Tal Alumust and by far the largest structure in the city.
    • The Imperium Palace of Toruntan in Rebel Galaxy alone covers a full 5 square km and has a staff of 10000, not including servant androids. An energy shield around the palace protects it from attack, although none has ever been attempted.
    • An architectural wonder, Edo Castle in Samurai Sky is imposing and graceful, with several rings of moats and defensive walls. A marvelous garden can also be found here, one with walkways, bridges, ponds, and exotic trees.
  • Big Fancy House: The House on the Hill is so large and rambling, and the walled grounds that surround the structure cover so much territory, that it's actually larger than some traditional neighbourhoods of Halloween.
  • Bio Punk: The recursion of Ruk, a mad bioengineer's dream world.
  • Bird People: All natives of Crow Hollow are a partly humanoid variation on a crow or raven.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Magnetovores, the natives of Sunspot Meadows, are composed of magnetic field lines, able to eat radiation and gain sustenance from stripped electrons and other high-energy particles.
  • Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: In Flatland, men are many-sided polygons and women are straight lines. Circles are considered perfect, and no native has that shape.
  • Blind Weaponmaster: A blind ronin wearing a black scarf tied over his eyes has been challenging any samurai he finds in Samurai Sky to a duel. The challenger seems preternaturally gifted with the sword and has been slowly killing off Edo's samurai.
  • Blob Monster:
    • Shoggoths have no real shape. They can adjust their form into whatever is practical for a specific task, but usually, resemble large gelatinous blobs sometimes depicted with tentacles and/or multiple eyes and mouths.
    • An utricle is a quivering knot of protoplasm fringed by three or four tentacles, as well as a carpet of microscopic cilia.
    • A blob is a huge, undulating, half-amorphous creature composed of a mucus-like solid.
    • Recursors who translate into 20K are converted into sentient pools of liquid helium that communicate by mixing a portion of their fluid bodies with another similar being.
  • Booby Trap: The primitive hominids of Mesozoica hunt large game by creating camouflaged spiked pit traps.
  • Border Patrol:
    • Beyond the northern border of the limited recursion of Camelot Le Morte lies only misted moors that turn explorers back the way they came.
    • No matter how far an explorer travels, R639 seems to stretch farther, but any push for the recursion's borders is likely to be ended by one or more terrifying encounters. This is what happened to Dram-edin, who figured out how to fly a plane from nearby Boeing Field to see what they could find above the clouds but had the plane swarmed by thoniks, which killed the pilot and foiled Dram-edin's attempt to escape.
  • Boss-Only Level: The only inhabitant of Frog Lake is a massive tree frog that emerges from its pit and attempts to feed when recursors visit.
  • Brain in a Jar:
    • In the Eleventh Reich, the Führer has grown old. After a failed attempt at ascension, the Führer is only a head frozen in a vat of supercooled fluid. Various wires, computers and a few magic spells keep him conscious.
    • The State of Panopticon a schizophrenic mind made up of seven founding citizens whose brains are frozen in liquid nitrogen and linked via a computer-assisted network to the systems that keep the city a functioning artificial environment.
  • Brain Uploading: The robot dog Lobo's artificial intelligence was induced by downloading the mind of a human in New York Grey.
  • Breath Weapon: A dragon can breathe a stream of fire up to long range.
  • The Butcher: One of the native demons of Hell Frozen Over is the butchers. These horrible, bestial demons use big, dull cleavers to chop up living victims.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Myriands, the police force of Harmonious, know no pity or fear and are unable to disobey the letter of the law.
  • Came Back Wrong: Legionnaires of the Empire of the Gold Throne in the Sword Realms who are promoted to the rank of captain might carry a special divine charm that reincarnates them once. Some of them come back with pain that grows worse over time. A few become sociopathic killers, their identities slowly subsumed by a ravaging madness.
  • Cannibalism Superpower: The hominids of Mesozoica are cannibals who believe they'll gain the strength of enemies by roasting them alive and eating their still-sizzling brains.
  • Career-Ending Injury:
    • Alicia Reardon was just another DSA agent running down cases in the streets of New Centropolis until she and her team managed to capture the terrorist Mister Nefarious. She was injured in the process and now walks with a limp that’ll likely never go away, rendering her unfit for field work.
    • Marshawn Coleman, a once-renowned American football player in New York Grey, was inducted into the Defense Grey Investigation Service after a knee injury permanently sidelined him.
  • Cargo Cult: The 'angels' (which is what the humans of Starship Heinlein call themselves) consider the operations they conduct to maintain the ship rituals of worship, not science. Biomancers manipulate genes and cause fruit to ripen according to needs, wiredancers fix malfunctions and restore proper illumination, priestesses feed the Food of God (antimatter fuel) to the Light (the engine), and teach that contact with Her numinous flesh causes an explosion, which emits pure holy exultation that scalds the wicked but purifies those who accept the Light into their hearts. Although the tasks are mixed up with a lot of ritual and mysticism that are mostly irrelevant to the needs of a starship, the angels keep the ship running and, generally speaking, in good health.
  • Chameleon Camouflage: Sclerid patches can blend into their surroundings due to the chromatophores that cover their surface.
  • Circle of Standing Stones:
    • Calandria's Storm Circle, two concentric circles of menhirs located in a clearing in the forest southwest of Telenbar in Ardeyn. The outer slabs are blank and the inner thirteen slabs are each heavily carved with runes that glorify specific aspects of a storm.
    • Rogue mécanismes, warlocks and smiths have combined their skills to create a great henge of protective stones around Caerleon. Each stone is infused with magic and the essence of the maladie de la machine. If Caerleon ever comes under attack, a magic shield of protection will be generated by the henge.
    • Built by the wizard Merlin, Stonehenge is a place of magical power. Beneath each stone lies the body of a warlock, demon or fey who attempted to best Merlin but failed. They protect the henge, repairing damage over the years. For spellcasters, meditating in the centre of the stones allows communion with the spirits interred within.
    • Old Keig is a circle of standing and recumbent stones situated at the northern edge of Camelot Le Morte. Sometimes, its central remaining arch flares with energy, and a connection to the Strange is made. The only creature around to see it is an entity that calls itself Crónán, the primary vector of the maladie de la machine.
    • An Avebury-like henge surrounds the empty tomb of Arthur in the centre of Avalon.
  • Circus of Fear: Some of the rides, exhibitions and games in the Midnight Circus of Halloween are quite dangerous, including the Carousel of Chance and the exhibit featuring the Five-Headed Thing.
  • Citadel City: New Chicago in Zed America is enclosed in a 12 m high wall of steel and concrete. Automated gun turrets dot the wall tops, and a handful of autonomous flying drones patrol along the wall, mostly for surveillance. Most people in New Chicago never, ever go beyond the wall.
  • City of Canals: Canals are laid out in a regular grid around the Edo of Samurai Sky. In fact, the network of canals, rivers and moats is more reliable than the streets, which can lead pedestrians astray.
  • The City Narrows: The Hollows is one of the safe neighbourhoods of Halloween, and recursors can usually move about without being attacked in the streets by monsters. However, even those who know their way around sometimes get lost and end up in blind alleys haunted by vengeful ghosts, or by pumpkin golems that attack anything they come upon.
  • City Planet: The city of Toruntan sprawls across the world of the same name in Rebel Galaxy.
  • Clever Crows: Crow Hollow was formed from a distillation of fictional leakage from a variety of sources depicting ravens and crows as sapient creatures.
  • Clone Army: According to the context that created the apocalypse in Cataclyst, cloned soldiers are the reason why the world was unable to pull back from complete disaster.
  • Colonized Solar System: Borderlands of Sol was seeded from stories and movies of mankind's eventual colonisation of the inner solar system.
  • Cool Gate: Recursion gates, including translation gates (which reformat you into a suitable shape for your destination), inapposite gates (which do not), portal spheres, and fractal vortexes. Individual artifacts and cyphers can often create their own gates, with various properties.
  • Cool Old Lady: The eponymous main colony of Strawberry Fayre is a fairly happy community led by Grandmother Rabbit, who tells many tales of wonder at night in the warm embrace of the burrow.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Dracula in Gothic Playground poses as a foreign noble with money to invest should he find the proper opportunity. In reality, when he finds a business he likes, he enslaves the owner and adds the company to his power base.
  • Cosmetically Different Sides: Rebel Galaxy is filled with aliens of all types, whose differences are entirely cosmetic and do not affect the gameplay in any significant way.
  • Cosmic Retcon: Despite Ardeyn's recent creation to stop the invasion of Earth, the recursion has millennia of recorded history.
  • Creating Life:
    • Custom pets, temporary companions, bodyguards and even poisonous assassins can be ordered at the right price from genetic engineer Ealam-asi.
    • Hazel Jenkins is a monster-maker that fashions monstrous creatures through magic, forced breeding, and bloody and painful surgeries. She's responsible for the creation of the pumpkin golems and crying bats that wander Halloween.
  • Creator Cameo: If the Ninth World and the Afterworld are used as recursions in The Strange, their connections to Earth are only known by, respectively, Quiet Cabal agent Shanna Germain and Estate agent Dennis Detwiller, two members of Monte Cook Games and the creators of Predation and Unmasked.
  • Creator Provincialism: First time recursors that translate into Earth appear in Seattle, amid the crowds visiting the Space Needle; the Estate's headquarters is located in Seattle; The Curious Case of Tom Mallard, the adventure printed in the core rulebook, takes place in Seattle; and the recursion of R639 is a creepy replica of Seattle. In real life, the city is the headquarters of Monte Cook Games.
  • Creepy Cathedral: The Green Chapel in Camelot Le Morte is a haunted church where ghosts, demons and lost souls wander at the behest of the Green Knight. Those who seek a boon from the knight are allowed to enter, but only upon agreeing to try their hand at a series of fiendish tests.
  • Creepy Cemetery:
    • The Graveyard of Halloween isn't safe for anyone but trick-or-treaters or those who've made a previous arrangement. The Graveyard is definitely not safe for strangers, natives not under the protection of the Accords, or those without a written right-of-passage, and sometimes even those safeguards are no guarantee.
    • Evil spirits travel from the northeast when Magic is high in Samurai Sky. Phantoms sometimes visibly stream from the graveyards in that area, and oni disguised with devil masks and spells gather rare ingredients that appear only at those times.
  • Crossover: Camelot Le Morte was seeded when stories of King Arthur collided with modern stories about nanovirus plagues that transform victims into something with cyber-organic flesh.
  • Cthulhumanoid: The very Trope Namer Cthulhu appears in the recursion R'lyeh and has writhing lengths of tentacle on his horrific face.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The Harrowing involves a team of four mortal contestants fighting a dragon, according to fairly loose rules of engagement. The dragon almost always wins.
  • Cyberspace:
    • Cyberscape is one of several limited worlds seeded into the Strange by stories about a virtual world created by computer connections: a grid of green lines a stark plain, on the horizon blazes a city whose architecture features lines of light of unthinkable complexity, and constellations of data wheel overhead, each pinpoint a database.
    • The disembodied intelligences in Manifest Silicon inhabit a computer-simulated reality of their choosing. Billions of minds exist in the same computronium substrate, each of which has control over a limited region of its own environment, which means that most realities are not consensual.
  • Cyclops: Cyclopes resemble massive humans that stand 15 to 18 metres tall and weigh about 4536 kilogrammes. Their most distinctive feature is the single eye positioned in the centre of their forehead.
  • Dark World: R639 is a version of Seattle without power where everyone has vanished. The streets are empty of people or moving vehicles, abandoned cars are easy to find, buildings are dusty and uninhabited but don't show overt signs of violence. The three survivors are dazed, confused and desperate, with big gaps in their memory and no spark, and the dim replica of the Estate might house the remains of known Estate members, including the player characters themselves. Within the recursion is a reality scar where everything appears as if seen through television static, sound is pinched and weak, taste, touch and smell are muted, and there are echoes of people that do not respond to hails and dissolve when approached.
  • Dead Alternate Counterpart: In the Estate of R639 (itself a copy of Seattle where no one is alive), player characters might find copies of themselves crammed under a bed, in the corner of a bathroom stall, or huddled under a desk when death struck.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: The typical bacterium in Microcosmica explosively lyses when destroyed due to rupture.
  • Demonic Possession: Their immaterial nature allows demons of Lotan to possess others.
  • Demon Lords and Archdevils: Abysm, the hellish afterlife of the Sword Realms, has a lord called Janus, a fallen god of beginnings and endings.
  • Derelict Graveyard: The Graveyard of the Machine God is a treacherous recursion of shattered satellites, rusted metals and nanovirus-infested chunks of tumbling machinery.
  • Deus Est Machina: The namesake of the Graveyard of the Machine God takes the form of a massive cybernetic humanoid the size of a tiny moon. The surface of this inert machine is warped, rusted and shattered, pitted with frigid pools of oil and frozen gases and wrinkled with jagged fissures that plunge deep into the corpse.
  • Devolution Device: One who enters the light of the Temple of Time in Mesozoica risks devolving into a primitive hominid-like creature, or a large rat-like creature if already a primitive hominid.
  • Disaster Scavengers: Several gangs of highway bandits roam the Badlands of Zed America. They're usually at each other's throats, though their rivalries fade in the face of fresh meat when travelers move between fortress enclaves and keeps.
  • Does Not Like Magic: Generalleutnant Helene Meyer of the Eleventh Reich (a recursion that operates under both Mad Science and Magic) presses forward without any 'magic props' (as Meyer calls them) to get in the way of pure science.
  • Domed Hometown: The recursion of Panopticon consists of a high-tech city beneath a climate-controlled dome on a world supposedly ruined by overpopulation.
  • Dragon Hoard: The dragon Merid employs human agents who charter adventuring companies to explore distant parts of Ardeyn and enlarge her own hoard.
  • Dragon Rider: When Lotan fashioned humans to be his servitors, a select bloodline among them rode dragons to war. Wyrmtalkers in full control of their powers could bring dragons to heel with a look, a whisper or a touch. When humans turned against Lotan, the dragon riders gave up their mounts, and their numbers have dwindled over the centuries.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Wearing a planetovore skin causes a planetovore-class creature or planetovore servitors to regard the wearer as an extension of itself as long as the wearer does nothing to jeopardise this illusion.
  • Due to the Dead: Anyone killed in Halloween continues to exist as a spirit and may eventually find peace if its remains are interred in the Graveyard and allowed to decompose naturally and not dug up and eaten by ghouls.
  • Dying Curse: Iron bulls were created when a noble of Mandariel was cursed by a sorcerer she wronged. Upon the sorcerer's death, the noblewoman's crops dried and withered, and her livestock became the monstrous iron bulls.
  • Earth Is the Center of the Universe: Earth has a unique connection to the Strange. In the Hadean aeon, a small piece of a defunct alien intergalactic transport system called Aleph collided with it. Later, the evolving sapient life on Earth triggered a residual function in the Aleph component. The component released a unique quantum field energy that had many repercussions, the main one being that the Earth became connected to the Strange in a way few, if any, other prime worlds ever were. Earth is a rare planet, in that it has generated hundreds of recursions through fictional leakage and hosts paradoxes, spinners and vectors.
  • Earth That Was: A class of recursions known as the Dead Earths has a somewhat self-explanatory name: all (or almost all) life on Earth has been destroyed in a cataclysm.
  • Egomaniac Hunter: For Nimrod the Hunter, recursions offer a veritable bounty of things to kill. A lifelong hunter, he is personally responsible for the extinction of no fewer than nine species in various recursions.
  • Egopolis: Sycorax Island is named after the sorceress who once lived there.
  • Elaborate Underground Base:
    • The secret headquarters of the Green Hills Society is an abandoned and decommissioned subway station under New York Grey with state-of-the-art facilities.
    • The Darkness keeps miles of warrens beneath Wuxia City, some of which open into basements, cellars, and sewers of the city above.
  • Eldritch Abomination:
    • Planetovores, who are mentioned in the Estate agent briefing at the beginning of the book. They have a variety of possible origins, but most seem interested in making a snack of the baryonic universe, one planet at a time.
    • The Directorate in the Mothership over New York Grey are not actual greys and bear not the least resemblance to earthly creatures. Their intelligence is vast, their technological tools are potent, and their reach is frightening. Luckily for Earth, the Mothership and its Directorate are not quickened, nor likely have the spark.
  • Eldritch Location: R639 stands out as a mysterious outlier in the Strange. Even if a recursor manages the almost impossible task of translating into R639, nothing is learned from context, as if entering it via inapposite gate. That dearth of information says something, implying that R639 breaks the fundamental rules of recursion travel. It is a glitch in the Strange.
  • Elemental Embodiment: Spirits of earth, wind, fire, water, thorn and bone inhabit recursions where the law of Magic gives them form. Elementals fulfill a special role, which is usually as examples of the most violent manifestation of one particular element (and associated weather or landscape).
  • Elite Army: Green homunculi ferocity and red homunculi skill-at-arms gives Megeddon a considerable advantage, even against nations that boast a much larger fighting force, such as the Queendom and Mandariel.
  • Elite Zombie:
    • A zombie reacher is somewhat more intelligent than normal zombies and can control its limbs even if those limbs are detached and scattered.
    • A zombie nightstormer, even more intelligent and devious, can manipulate the energy animating it to such a degree to be able to perform incredible feats of offence, defence and mobility (including flight.).
    • Zombie sprayers have bulging stomaches with a cavity sloshing with greenish bile. The sprayer can spew the material from its mouth in a vomitous cloud.
    • Zombie sprinters are far faster than normal humans, contrary to what normally happens to zombies.
    • A zombie hulk is three times as massive as a regular zombie and five times as dangerous as they convert everything they eat into muscle.
    • Crowned shamblers have the power to command the allegiance of lesser zombies and other creatures touched by death.
    • The Milwaukee Ruins in Zed America crawl with zombies, many of which possess abilities even less understood than those mentioned above. The zombies infesting the Braidwood Nuclear Generating Plant in the same recursion are highly radioactive.
  • The Empire:
    • Rebel Galaxy is ruled by the Grand Imperium led by Empress Tahali V, who is as ruthless and terrible as all those who came before her.
    • Everyone in the Empire of the Golden Throne is a slave, literally, though some are more elevated than others. Regardless of their circumstance, all serve the Empress' desires. There is no freedom under the gold throne, and most natives' lives are miserable and short.
  • Empty Shell: Most inhabitants of a recursion don't possess actual consciousness. Those with actual sentience and the ability to comprehend the Strange's existence are said to have "the spark".
  • Enemy Mine: In Camelot Le Morte, Sir Lancelot and a handful of former knights of Arthur work with the former traitor Mordred, who leads the organised resistance against Queen Gwenhwyfar and her propagation of the maladie de la machine. Old slights and betrayals have not been forgotten: former associates of Arthur consider Mordred cruel and sadistic, leading through fear and intimidation, and he only shows sympathy to outsiders whose original loyalties didn't lie with Camelot.
  • Eternal Engine: The Grand Imperium controls many factory planets, entire worlds devoted to the mass production of goods needed by the rest of the Rebel Galaxy.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Führer of the Eleventh Reich is never called by his real name.
  • Evil Laugh: Sometimes the vicious laughter of a zombie nightstormer that has just caught a victim echoes through the night for miles.
  • Evil vs. Evil: The Big Bad Ensemble of Ardeyn. The Betrayer, retaining a residual sense of what it was to be War, continues to oppose and revile Lotan, perhaps even more vehemently than how he used to do so.
  • Expendable Clone: Fission can split off large squads of copies with little care for their safety.
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: The Glaring Eye, a signpost in the Strange, resembles the disembodied eye of a creature of immense size.
  • Eye Spy: A yobuko can remove their mask, possibly to hide it somewhere so they can see and hear what's going on in that location even when they are away. Until the mask is retrieved, the yobuko is essentially blind and deaf in the vicinity of their body.
  • Fallen Angel: When a qephilim loses its way completely, it becomes an animalistic savage that knows only anger and hunger. These fallen qephilim are known as sark.
  • False Flag Operation: A few Green Hills Society operations targeting greys left several human casualties behind. The radicals claim those incidents were false flag operations planned by the greys to discredit the Green Hills movement, but whether or not that's true, the damage was done, and the radicals had to go underground.
  • Fantastic Caste System: Citizens of Panopticon exist within well-defined castes that determine benefits. The lowest-caste citizens have virtually no rights, but even those of the highest caste live in constant anxiety because the State isn't stable.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Many greys in New York Grey openly feel that humans are an inferior race, and they wouldn’t raise much of a fuss if legislation were enacted to make the greys the legal guardians of people everywhere.
    • The octopus sapiens in most recursions view humans as pernicious vermin.
  • Fantastic Radiation Shielding: Cygnus Station orbits a black hole and relies on a technological miracle called the Entropy Engine. It allows the station to maintain both its position over the gravitational maw of the black hole and its safety from radiation.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: The setting as a whole, though individual recursions very definitely enforce their own physical laws and tropes, collectively called "context". Inapposite gates can be used to drop out-of-context items into another place, at the cost of rapid degradation. This is used in at least one case to bring a telepath to Earth. Her mind-reading gives her splitting headaches and runs the risk of killing her if she stays too long, but it's fantastic at rooting out moles in her employer's organization.
  • Fantasy Pantheon: A host of gods is revered and worshipped in the Sword Realms, culled from the many fictions that seeded the linked recursions. This means that if a recursor travelled far enough through the connected realms, they might find their way into the presence of Zeus, Odin, or one of the many gods made familiar by various games, novels or religions.
  • The Fashionista: Prince Garland Lancaster, a quickened native of Oceanmist, is a clothes horse.
  • Faux Affably Evil: James Moriarty displays irascible charm, impeccable manners and a thoroughly engaging manner. His smile seems guileless, his declarations are from the heart, and his absentminded fumbling comes across as endearing. This is an act: Moriarty has a vengeful streak, and those who wrong him may eventually see his cruel side, right before they die in some painful fashion.
  • Festering Fungus: The cyphers from Crash carry an infection that slowly kills the victim with invading fungal growth, then mind-coring pods sprout and feed on the corpse. The fungi already have an odd awareness of the Strange, and could continue their evolution, gain a slow vegetable sentience or possibly the spark or even become quickened.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: The three character types: Vectors (action-oriented people with great strength, stamina and speed) are the Fighter; Paradoxes (people that bend the rules like mad scientists or sorcerers) are the Mage; Spinners (people that spin tales, lies or different versions of the truth to bluff and mislead) are the Thief.
  • Fighting from the Inside: As is true of many victims of the maladie de la machine, remnants of Galahad's original personality persist within his electronic brain. The more the part of him that was loyal to King Arthur tries to resist, the more the controlling intelligence clamps down.
  • Flat World: Flatland and Krayol are not only flat but only exist in two dimensions.
  • Floating Continent:
    • The majority of Harmonious, the capital city of Ruk, floats above the surface, defying gravity.
    • The Karum’s public faction headquarters is a floating organimer disc, its shape recalling Ruk’s own.
    • Motes of land float amid the cloud varieties of the Cloud Sea in Seishin Shore. Some motes are covered in landscapes where peculiar creatures dwell, and others contain simple or grand structures, including the famous Library.
  • Flying Dutchman: The Flying Dutchman legend spawned a recursion of the ship itself. All the original crew, guilty of an unspeakable crime, exist as phantoms, like their vessel. They are condemned to sail the oceans forever in penance. The ship sometimes manages to travel into other recursions, where it appears in the depths of calamity to real vessels as an omen of their coming doom.
  • Flying Face: A soul eater is the animate head of a powerful wizard or psychic who became an undead creature without ethics, feelings nor morality.
  • Flying Seafood Special: The Cloud Sea in Seishin Shore is home to flying fish of all kinds.
  • A Foggy Day in London Town: When the fog of Steam London rolls in, sometimes connections to the Strange form in the thickest banks of mist.
  • Food Chain of Evil: Necuratu and shadowcasters in Gloaming feed on both vampires and werewolves, caring nothing for the struggle between Law and Chaos.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With:
    • Most people believe that the original natives of Ruk didn't look like humans at all but they have reshaped themselves to better and more easily interact with the people of Earth.
    • Darum Tal Alumust's natural form is that of a worm almost 6 m long, with writhing pseudopods and a rather humanlike face. When making a public appearance, he takes the form of a golden-skinned man about 2 m tall with long, flowing hair and crystalline eyes.
  • For Science!: Grey curiosity is insatiable and not shackled by ethics: a group of quickened greys abduct natives from other recursions and house them with a hominid tribe, harvest them for tissue, or devolve and recombine them with other species roaming the Lost Lands.
  • Frazetta Man: Mesozoica hosts two savage hominid subspecies that constantly war with each other, are not sophisticated enough for language and prefer to kill strangers rather than trying to communicate.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: The planetovore Vaxt began its life as an especially persistent patch of weed that survived a planetovore invasion of its homeworld and subsumed the invader.
  • Fungus Humongous: Vun is a large city of towering fungal stalks mixed with the more traditional organimer construction.
  • Fun with Acronyms: CRAZR stands for Canid Robotic Zealous Reapers (the A doesn’t stand for anything, except to let the acronym evoke the word crazy, which these machines are).
  • Fusion Dance:
    • Legend says the very first hydra was formed when the severed heads of a coterie of human sorcerers who served Lotan were thrown into a cursed well. Some thread of evil magic remained in those heads, binding the souls together as a hydra.
    • The experiments to engineer intelligence into a virus of Microcosmica in Nereus Five ended with the creation of a contiguous mass of writhing flesh made of most former researchers on the station, forcing the few survivors to lock the station down.
    • Three zombies at the centre of the Braidwood Nuclear Generating Plant in Zed America have merged into a tripartite being in a fusion of melted flesh and bone. They refer to themselves as a single being: Ulysses.
  • Future Primitive:
    • Descended from a far more advanced culture, the serpent people in most recursions where they inhabit (for example Mesozoica) have become degenerates, losing knowledge, culture, and, for many, language.
    • The humans of Telluria live in a feudal society, but are descended from spacefaring colonists and have forgotten the world isn't their original home.
  • Gadgeteer Genius:
    • Robot Lad has the superhuman ability to fashion robots in mere minutes. The robots seem completely loyal to Robot Lad, even in the face of attempts to contravene their programing.
    • Gearbox has the ability to interface directly with machines. Like Robot Lad, she is adept at creating mechanical automata.
  • The Game Come to Life: Bats, ghouls and witches can be released into the real world by the Game of Screams.
  • Gaslighting: Those who stay in the House on the Hill in Halloween are advised against entering doors that weren't there the night before, a trap set by the resident bogeyman.
  • Geas: A geas is a magically binding obligation to perform a task or quest for whoever sets the geas. A recursor saddled with a geas can temporarily escape it by translating to a recursion that doesn't operate under the law of Magic.
  • Gender Bender: The (male) giant Kua Fu now usually wears the guise of Xia Chen, a successful businesswoman in Wuxia City.
  • Gendercide: During mating season, the female spider-like creatures living near Gatt kill the male and every other male it can find in and around the city, regardless of species. That's when the mating shutters are fastened down and no one (with a Y chromosome) goes out.
  • Generation Ships: Starship Heinlein is a generation ship hurtling through space, originally designed as a colonisation ship for Alpha Centauri. It has flown for around a thousand years, during which the purpose of the trip, and the fact that the natives inhabit a starship at all, has mostly been forgotten. Although it was designed to replace crew over time with new generations of people who would be trained to be as competent as the previous generation, all the failsafes failed, because Starship Heinlein is seeded from dozens of similar stories where that's what happens.
  • Generation Xerox: Like his mother Gearbox, Robot Lad is adept at creating mechanical automatons.
  • Genius Loci: Nakarand, a native of the Strange, is 60 metres across, and far larger on the inside. In some ways, it's like a living recursion, one able to manifest its mind and abilities into a powerful, mobile avatar.
  • Gentleman Thief: Retired celebrity thief Kubbarum-dai allegedly paid every one of the victims double the price of the stolen items after the theft.
  • Ghostapo: The Schutzstaffel of the Eleventh Reich sponsors hidden schools of magic where ritualists study relics and talismans collected from dead religions.
  • Ghost City:
    • R639 is a Seattle where everyone has vanished: something caught the residents, leaving behind thousands of sets of clothes and pet collars filled with desiccated dust and ash. Streets are empty. Cars are parked as if their owners expected to return. Nothing moves in the parks but for the sway of empty swings.
    • Many towns in Zed America lie in ruins, infested by zombies. That doesn't stop treasure hunters and scientists from looking for salvage or data there, though doing so is incredibly dangerous.
  • Ghost Pirate: The crew of the Flying Dutchman are phantoms who commit great atrocities in acts of savage piracy. Visiting recursors who do not offer the captain and crew something of real value to add to the ship's hoard will soon find themselves victims.
  • Ghost Ship:
    • The ship Endeavor is completely dead. A colony of inklings lurk along the upper decks, but the inklings restrict themselves to the exterior. The interior of the ship contains nothing to suggest what might have happened to the crew, not even a stray blood spatter. The hold is empty of supplies, and instead it is filled with several hundred ghost-white oblong spheres made of something harder than fundament.
    • The Wrecked Starship is a recursion seeded from stories of the ignominious fate visited upon fictional craft. Corpses float in frozen isolation about the craft, which is powered down and dead, but remains contaminated by dangerous alien life.
    • According to an account, the Sinking Dark was once a spacecraft in the baryonic universe, but was drawn directly into the Strange through a mishap with warp propulsion technology. It was quickly overrun by inklings of every variety, which now infest it.
  • Giant Spider:
    • A night spider of Ardeyn measures 2 metres in diameter.
    • A monument spider's legs can stretch almost 152 m from tip to tip.
    • Xyz'pln is like a spider, if a spider were large enough to span a miles-wide space.
  • Gingerbread House: The eponymous recursion is an entire house built of gingerbread, garnished with candy decorations and located in a discreet, out-of-the way portion of the dark woods.
  • Gladiator Games:
    • The most famous part of Marhaban is the Champion Dome, where slaves, volunteers and arena champions are pitted against each other, dangerous creatures of Ardeyn, and sometimes creatures found and captured in the Strange.
    • Beneath the Splendor Dome in Atom Nocturne, champions use their Talents to compete, usually matching single combatants or small squads against each other. A contingent of medics with bioenhancement Talents are on hand to heal the seriously injured. The fights are not meant to be lethal, and killing an opponent permanently disqualifies a combatant for future appearances.
  • Glamour Failure: As Crónán, the Source of the maladie de la machine could almost pass for a 10-year-old child of indeterminate gender. But when startled or angry, Crónán's skin is revealed as cyber-organic.
  • Global Warming: One policy that might be the result of Circle of Liberty manipulation is conservative opposition to climate policy, presumably in an effort to bring about long-term destabilisation of Earth governments as they're forced to deal with ever-accelerating global disasters.
  • A God Am I:
    • Dark energy pharaohs believe they are ascended gods, proud and vengeful.
    • Benjamin Radakovich, a survivor of R639, believes that he is slowly transforming into a god, and to complete his apotheosis, he must kill everyone else first.
  • God-Emperor: In Atlantis, the inhabitants see Darum Tal Alumust as a deity, referring to him as the God-King.
  • God Is Dead: The Maker of Ardeyn is dead, killed by his friend, the Incarnation of War.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Gwenhwyfar rules Camelot Le Morte as its queen, but not as a human. As a mécanisme, she is a creature of metal that does not sleep or feel pity. She has vowed that all the land will become as she, and once that is accomplished, she promises to set her sights on other realms.
  • Golem: Golems were animated by the Incarnations of Ardeyn during the Age of Myth to serve as soldiers, couriers and banner-bearers.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Amy is quickened and knows that her home recursion New York Grey is a lie; greys are not a real alien race; and the struggle of the Radiant Sun, the Oath and all the humans who fight the growing oppression is merely a narrative being played out. Her jokes have grown darker, centering on more apocalyptic themes, as Amy has begun to explore the possibility of collapsing New York Grey and ending the charade.
  • The Good King: Few have complaints with the Shogun of Samurai Sky, as he is fair in his decrees, generous to those of every class and known for never allowing laws to be bent.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: The name of the recursion Ohunkakan is derived from ohúŋkakaŋ, a Lakota word meaning myth or story of the remote past.
  • Gratuitous Nazis: The Eleventh Reich, a recursion created when the Nazi mythology bled over into the Strange, where Germany won World War II and went on to create an empire that rules most of the planet.
  • The Grays: Greys are child-sized enigmatic creatures with grey skin, long, gangly limbs and a bulbous head with oversized black eyes and a small nose and mouth, born of recursions based on science fiction or popular concepts of aliens. They descend through the atmosphere under the cover of night to abduct specimens for study and return the victims later after a thorough examination. In the narrative of New York Grey, they emerged from the shadows and rose to positions of prominence in human society, relegating humans to second-class citizens.
  • Great Big Library of Everything: The Library, its attendant structures, and the surrounding gardens cover a floating mote in Seishin Shore 5 km in diameter. Knowledge of every kind is stored in bound volumes in the Library, including knowledge of Seishin Shore, other recursions, and even Earth. If a title has ever been published in the Shoals of Earth, a copy of that book is potentially shelved somewhere in the Lost Stacks.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: The Minotaur, the most famous inhabitant of the Labyrinth, is the product of a god-cursed union between human and bull.
  • Halloweentown: The recursion Halloween is seeded by decades of holidays of the same name and related stories.
  • Hard Light: Emerald Witch can create temporary solid matter from green light in whatever form she can imagine.
  • Healing Factor: In Zed America, the application of an engineered retrovirus called the human regenerative virus (HRV) combined with daily meditation using special biofeedback techniques allows people to heal wounds that would otherwise be lethal. Most people live with a weak strain of HRV.
  • Heel–Race Turn: The humans of Ardeyn were originally servitors of Lotan that turned against him and joined the Maker.
  • He Knows Too Much: Max Calvin, the human CEO of Sunny Flakes, was secretly disposed of by Ginny, the grey COO who really runs things at the corporation, after he learnt that Sunny Flakes cereal was made from human flesh.
  • Hell:
    • The recursion of Hell Frozen Over is a frozen hellscape whose natives are terrifying creatures called demons.
    • The Abysm, part of the Sword Realms, is straight out of a fantasy hellscape. Victims are usually the dead from other parts of the Sword Realms, but some are living creatures who found their way (or were stolen away) there. Adding to the nightmare are all manner of demons.
    • The recursion Purgatory is a seemingly endless maze of tunnels and caverns in which sinners stew in fire and water, and torture chambers where punishments ironically suited to specific sins are carried out. Being a recursion, no one in Purgatory is actually a human soul from Earth: everyone is born of the same fiction that seeded Purgatory itself.
  • Hell Fire: Some dragons of Ardeyn still secretly serve Lotan, and their fiery breath provides a conduit that demons of Lotan can follow to possess new victims.
  • Helping Hands: A zombie reacher can control its limbs even if those limbs are detached and scattered.
  • The Heretic: According to the natives of the generation ship Starship Heinlein, they are angels who serve the Light, a divine and omniscient god who keeps everyone safe from the Abyss. Every so often, someone shows up claiming that the Light (the ship's engine) is an artefact of mortal construction, that angels are just animals called humans, and that the World is a craft that has lost its way. These heretics say that Heinlein wasn't the first prophet of the Light, but rather is the name of the craft everyone lives on, named for a long-dead writer.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The original Centropolis was blown up when Radioactive Girl sacrificed herself to destroy the alien Kasrang before it could infect and enslave everyone in the recursion.
  • Hidden Elf Village: The elf city of Ilucara, in an isolated valley that's nearly impossible to find, wants little to do with any other location in the Sword Realms. Many humans in the Sword Realms believe that Ilucara is only a myth because of how secluded it has become.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Monitors are remnant Qephilim of Silence who went into hiding when the Incarnation of Silence disappeared. According to common wisdom, they haven't been seen in over a century. The truth is, they have been seen, just not recognised.
  • Historical-Domain Character:
    • A recursive duplicate of Heinrich Himmler still leads the Schutzstaffel in the Eleventh Reich.
    • The Shogun of Samurai Sky is none other than Edo's original founder, Ieyasu Tokugawa.
  • Hive Mind: All the lesser kray are extensions of the kray broodmother; they are her fingers, brain cells and messengers.
  • Hollow World: The recursion Pellucidar is a massive region in Earth's hollow core. The interior world mirrors the exterior in some ways, though in reverse: the surface world's oceans are Pellucidar's landmasses, and its continents are Pellucidar's seas. Illumination is provided by a tiny sun hovering in the exact centre.
  • Honest Corporate Executive: Lord Myrdan, a high-ranking member of the Merchants' Guild in Dyranmar and the Speaker of the Agora, is independently wealthy, one of the strongest proponents for the commoners of the Free City and has done much to expose corruption.
  • Horsemen of the Apocalypse: In the Plague Kingdom, the Horseman Pestilence is responsible for the disease that killed off almost everyone in the modern world. His ultimate goal is to kill about 20 percent of the population to open a doorway for Death to enter and finish the job.
  • Horse of a Different Color:
    • In the Age of Myth of Ardeyn, dlammas served as steeds of qephilim who fought Lotan's human dragon riders.
    • Princess Latanya Valois gets around Oceanmist riding a massive starfish (a mist star) named Avery.
    • The troopers of the Grand Imperium in Rebel Galaxy are sometimes mounted on indigenous beasts appropriate to the terrain. Their nemeses in the Rebellion have captured and trained the flitats of Lantiv IV as mounts as well.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The body of a posthuman appears human, but is riddled with unrecognisable technologies fused seamlessly with residual organic material, or at least material that grows like organic material. Posthumans normally ignore regular humans, but they might smile enigmatically in response to a plea, and their motivations are complex and many-layered. Their quantum nature allows them to perform small manipulations of the quantum field, and have grown so physically and mentally powerful that they would appear as gods to people of Earth. As the Research Chief for the Estate says, the only thing that distinguishes them from full-fledged planetovores are age and experience.
  • Humanoid Aliens: The vast majority aliens in Rebel Galaxy are humanoid in configuration, but with fur, horns, leathery skin, large or extra eyes, tusks, tendrils, a particularly tall or short stature, and so on.
  • Human Resources: The Sunny Flakes cereal factory in New York Grey renders people into an innocuous-looking ingredient.
  • Human Subspecies: In some Posthuman Apocalypse recursions, the soon-to-be posthumans turned into godlike beings, while in others they modified themselves to live in the sea without the anxiety and stress that intelligence can bring, becoming known as dolphinids.
  • Humongous Mecha:
    • Gearbox is adept at creating mechanical automatons, usually singular, immense war machines with herself installed as the driver. Rumour has it that she's building her largest yet, one taller than skyscrapers.
    • The Colossal Battle Robot, which originates from Kaijutopia, is a 78 m tall metallic battle robot armed with a variety of weapons.
    • The octopus sapiens in Qoph are developing a massive mechanical land-walker that can hold a small city of exosuit-wearing octopodes for a full land invasion.
  • Hungry Jungle: Riverside is a jungle full of poisonous snakes, malarial mosquitoes, toxic plants and man-eating white apes, and the river is full of voracious fish and parasites. Despite all this, the natives live in harmony with nature, and life is serene.
  • Hybrid Monster: The greys on New York Grey are all hybrids with human DNA, genetically engineered by the Directorate to thrive on Earth.
  • An Ice Person: Nightmare Chill can suck heat out of the environment so quickly that she can create and manipulate ice.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: You would not want to visit a place called the Sinking Dark, a many-spired chunk of black fundament in the Strange that extinguishes light sources and from which explorers usually don't return.
  • I Gave My Word: The Master Librarian of Seishin Shore is a yobuko of his word, and if he makes a deal, he won't be the first to break the contract.
  • I'm a Humanitarian:
    • Most victims caught by Hazel Jenkins or some witch covens in the Forest Hills of Halloween become ingredients in their stew pots.
    • Ghouls of Wuxia City scavenge dead human corpses or kidnap living humans from the street and drag the victims below for food.
    • A hungry witch lives in the Gingerbread House. She prefers the taste of children, but so wondrous is her oven and so capacious is her hunger that anyone will do.
    • Caliban, son of the sorceress who gave her name to Sycorax Island, would prefer nothing less than to eat the intestines of his master Prospero.
    • The weak and old in Cannibal Wasteland end up as food for the rest of the community.
  • I'm Melting!: Researchers and recursors in Microcosmica have to take daily shots of a drug called ImmuneSuppres. Not taking daily injections will cause discoloration and swelling in one's skin. If this is untreated, victims die and degrade into rotting goo.
  • The Immune: In the Plague Kingdom, the Horseman Pestilence managed to evolve a strain of humanity that is immune to his powers of disease.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Divine Bullet has the superhuman ability of perfect aim.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: The Chaos Templars are supposedly on the lookout for something that Uentaru describes as a Chaos Sword, a device of normal matter so powerful that it can cleave through normal matter, recursion and the Strange itself in vast, solar-system-sized swathes.
  • In Harmony with Nature: The inhabitants of Riverside live in harmony with the jungle and don't need modern medicine or agriculture, knowing how to cure any ailment with plants, the sounds to make to lure fish to the surface for an easy catch, or where to look for tubers, berries and fruits.
  • Insect Queen: The ant colony recursion of Entopia is ruled by a queen, who (unlike the other members of the colony) is sentient and has the spark. She feeds them hormone-laced food to maintain control over them.
  • Intellectual Animal: Long-lived octopodes that are able to think appear in all kinds of recursions.
  • Interdimensional Travel Device: Aside from the various types of gates, certain artifacts and cyphers provide the ability to translate between recursions, sometimes going to a specific spot within a given recursion.
  • Interservice Rivalry: The Zaalish police force of the Great Wheel do not work with Imperium troopers, who are also prevalent on the Great Wheel. The two forces, both under command of Administrator Kelia Turnage, resent each other.
  • Irony: Everyone in New Centropolis knows that Doctor Amazing created the technology behind quantum collapse, and they recognise the irony of it being used to incarcerate him. What everyone should have realised is that he put a back door in the programming: instead of being collapsed out of existence, he was teleported to a previously prepared secret lair.
  • It Only Works Once: Cyphers can bend or break the laws of reality wherever they're used, but they are defined as one-use items.
  • Just Before the End: Eschatos is seeded from the concept of the heat death of the universe and the end of time. The stars have died and gone out, but a magitech shielding spell retards the final dissolution of a moon and the Last City, residence of the last humans, resting upon it. But each year, anarchy beyond the city increases as spacetime stretches further and further. The ritual may eventually prove insufficient and Eschatos will end.
  • Kaiju:
    • Kaiju are unstoppable monstrosities that form due to exposure to unusual energies and dwarf everything around them with a height of at least 91 m. All share the same propensity for causing destruction, rising up from their lairs and laying waste to everything within a few miles before their wrath burns out and they return whence they came. They may look like enormous reptiles, beetles, moths, snakes or something else.
    • Fractal worms can stretch for 600 metres or more and insert their feeding tips into recursions that have an interface to the Strange. When a worm inserts itself into a recursion near a population center, mass panic ensues among those who witness it feeding.
    • The world-devouring planetovores are so large that they could be mistaken for the structure of the Strange itself, one that can be trod upon and entered.
  • Killer Gorilla: White apes are man-eating predatory beasts of rage and fury.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: The superhero Blaze's secret identity as Jermaine Lewis is an animal control officer for the New Centropolis animal shelter, which is why the Sanctuary has so many cats and dogs.
  • Knowledge Broker: Gomez Snake is an information broker who is aware of the Strange and other recursions. He pays (either with hard candy or with information of his own) for knowledge he doesn't already have about current events, especially those that stretch beyond the confines of Halloween.
  • Lamprey Mouth: A spore worm has a jawless, sphincter-like maw.
  • Last-Name Basis: Warden George Hughes of the DSA has a first name, but no one uses it.
  • Last of His Kind: Each member of the Chaos Templars and Darum Tal Alumust are the last survivors of their homeworlds after they fell prey to a planetovore, having escaped into the Strange but unable to save anyone else. Normally planetovores are inescapable, so it’s saying a lot that someone got away.
  • Lightning Gun: When used to attack, the tip of a Staff of Prayer releases a bolt of searing electricity at a target within long range.
  • Living Clothes: Chaosphere hierarchs have been known to wear thoniks as cloaks that self-animate and attack aggressors without any need for direction from the wearer.
  • Living Toys: Happy Island is a place where humanoid toys can move, talk and live in an eclectic society where they attempt to govern themselves.
  • Living Weapon: A promising research direction in the War of the Worlds is the intensification of the bacterial and viral strains antithetical to the physiology of the Martian invaders.
  • Lizard Folk: It's possible that the original Ruk form was humanoid, but more akin to Earth lizards than simians. This theory was suggested by a few artefacts found on Earth at the Al Ubaíd archaeological site in Iraq from a pre-Sumerian period.
  • A Load of Bull: The singular half-man, half-bull Minotaur (there's no other) is the most famous inhabitant of the Labyrinth, a recursion seeded by the Minotaur myth.
  • Long-Lived: Atlanteans are extremely long-lived, some remaining in good health for almost 1000 years.
  • The Lost Woods:
    • The Forest of Perfidy which grew in the World Below of Starship Heinlein is inhabited by sinroots, sentient, mobile, aggressive tree-like creatures that use barbed roots to feed on blood.
    • The Gloomwood, part of the Sword Realms, is foreboding and shadowed, even when the sun is high. A bloodborne corruption burrowed up out of a hellish realm under the earth, filling a portion of the wood with gloom, evil, and, most terrifyingly, vampires.
  • Lovecraft Country: The town-recursion of Innsmouth is a creation of H.P. Lovecraft, lies along the Massachusetts coast and is in a horrendous state of decay, its residents having been inbred with horrifying sea entities called Deep Ones.
  • Low Culture, High Tech: The angels (that is, humans) of Starship Heinlein have forgotten that they inhabit a starship (a generation ship bound for Alpha Centauri) at all and believe they are angels who serve the Light (the engine), a divine and omniscient god who keeps everyone safe from the Abyss (outer space). They have retained some semblance of the knowledge required to keep their ship operational, which are heavily steeped in mysticism and treated as rituals of worship.
  • Lunacy: Samurai Sky operates under the law of Standard Physics except under certain phases of the moon, during which time Magic also operates. Everyone knows that supernatural effects are possible depending on the phase of the moon.
  • Machine Monotone: The revelation drones of Starship Heinlein speak with a unique synthesised voice.
  • Made a Slave: Recursors who translate into Entopia are usually enslaved by the ant queen until they manage to escape.
  • Mad Scientist: The chief scientist of Cygnus Station, Dr. Axel Streiber, experienced a serious psychotic break, believing he's on the cusp of achieving communion with 'bulk beings' that live in the black hole which Cygnus Station orbits. When the rest of the crew tried to relieve him of duty for his crazy talk, Streiber began murdering them and was eventually successful.
  • The Mafia: The Beak Mafia sees to it that the theft and larceny common in Crow Hollow is 'organised', all in exchange for a bit of protection money. The current head of the largest Beak Mafia family is one Wyclef Drood, or Don Wyclef, who employs a flock of muscle kro to collect protection money, patrol against the common thievery and prevent inroads by rival kro crime families.
  • Mage Tower: The hall of the Wizards' Guild in Dyranmar is a massive stone structure with many towers and dungeons.
  • Magical Native American: Thunder Plains is a recursion that operates under the law of Magic where Native Americans live on the plains before the coming of the White Man, and medicine elders weave magic medicine each night in reverence to their ancestors.
  • Magical Underpinnings of Reality: Not counting the baryonic universe (that is to say, Earth), no matter the weird rules of a given recursion, it's all caused by basically living inside a Precursor's universe-sized computer network.
  • Magic Librarian: The Master Librarian of the Library in Seishin Shore is a yobuko of special power who is able to control dozens (perhaps hundreds) of masks simultaneously. He hides extra masks without bodies he controls in nooks and crannies around the Library, which allow him to keep tabs on his dominion of books.
  • The Magocracy: The noble families of Telluria are formed on the basis of psychic abilities.
  • Man-Eating Plant:
    • Thick, hallucination-inducing vegetation seeded by an alien seed now overgrows a good part of the planned parklike environment of the World Below of Starship Heinlein, called the Forest of Perfidy. Portions of the vegetation, called sinroots, sometimes animate and hunt heretics and demons living there, or the visiting angels and recursors.
    • Prances are insidious mutant flowers in Cataclyst that attract prey with alluring blooms, calming perfume, and a magic aura that promotes well-being. Once prey has been put to sleep, prances emerge for a bloody feeding frenzy.
  • Maniac Monkeys: The monkeys of Kiplingverse are a gang that terrorises every other animal because they scoff at the Law of the Jungle.
  • Masquerade:
    • Wuxia City is a San Francisco with secret societies, sorcerous colleges and martial arts dojos where mystical power is real and the most respected and feared teachers are beings who first came into their strength centuries ago in ancient China. Regular citizens don't know or believe in any of it.
    • A group of human wizards known as the Pale Conclave in Urban Wizardry keeps a lid on magic, withholding knowledge of its existence from regular people for their safety and sanity.
  • Master Race: The Grand Imperium of Rebel Galaxy is very humanocentric and its governors and military commanders are always human.
  • The Maze:
    • The Labyrinth is a twisted and changeable maze of meandering, many-levelled paths through stone and bronze corridors. They lead to traps, dead ends, lethal riddles and caches of treasure from previous victims of the maze. The most famous inhabitant of the maze is the Minotaur, the singular beast from which all lesser minotaur myths descend.
    • The Veritex is a labyrinthine system of tunnels that runs below the surface of Ruk.
  • Mechanical Monster: A giant machine, perhaps 30 m high, armed with cannons and electrical weapons, tramps toward Samurai Sky. Presumably crafted by the enemies of Edo, the machine must be stopped.
  • Medieval Stasis: Enforced in recursions operating under Substandard Physics rules.
  • Mêlée à Trois: Moonbase Tranquility is a battlefield with three factions: two rival human groups and one group of killer robots that continually modify themselves to improve their odds of slaughtering humans.
  • The Men in Black: The Office of Strategic Recursions, a secret government agency overseeing other groups. Their agents wear black suits and use reality-bending cyphers.
  • Mental Fusion: The Pillar of Insight is a limited and firewalled portion of the All Song that allows many minds to commingle and come up with a synthesis of shared thought, ideas and plans going forward.
  • Mind Rape: Synesthesia can induce sensory confusion in others, which can cause blindness, nausea, or seeing and hearing things that aren't there.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Generalleutnant Werner Emmerich was the staunchest of Eleventh Reich supporters until the SS took his daughter into custody and killed her on a trumped-up charge. Outwardly, Emmerich retains his apparent loyalty, but he has secretly reached out to the Resistance.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters:
    • The sirrush is a lizardlike creature with bright yellow scales, talon-like hind legs and leonine forelegs.
    • Chimeras combine the features of many different animals, often arranged in odd formations. The variations are endless, and the fusion of animal forms is the only thing that unifies these creatures.
    • The questing beast is an unseemly mixture of serpent, leopard, goat, and lion. It has the body of a lion with a leopard's spots. Its legs end in split hooves, and emerging from its trunk is the neck and head of a serpent with dripping fangs and flicking tongue.
  • Mobile Factory: The edges of Vun teem with grey harvesters; the huge mobile factories move through fungi forests on hundreds of insectlike legs and harvest biomass.
  • The Mole:
    • Calvin Meyers works for a foreign state (within the context of the Microcosmica narrative) and keeps tabs on everything going on in Nereus One. He reports back to his handler via illicit radio calls once every few days.
    • The Radiant Sun, a group of grey supremacists in New York Grey, has installed in the Grey Embassy a deputy ambassador named Molly, who doesn't like humans and keeps its affiliation secret from Charlie, who would likely be put out that Molly was working against its goals of humans and greys succeeding together.
  • Monster Lord: The Milwaukee of Zed America is home to a unique zombie called Patient Zero. He possesses several uniquely scary abilities, including the power to control other zed, whole hordes at a time. He is opposed by Ulysses, another self-aware zombie who rules over a growing brood of radioactive zombies.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Dr Benjamin Radakovich has been secretly murdering the other survivors of R639 when he can get them alone, and then storing gruesome trophies of flesh and skin in a medical refrigerator which has no power, so the interior is a rotting mess.
  • The Morlocks: The morlocks in AD 802,701, a story seeded by the H. G. Wells novel The Time Machine, are albino, apelike descendants of humans with massive eyes and furry bodies who tend enormous underground machines that regulate the environment.
  • Morphic Resonance: People and items which translate between recursions will adopt suitable forms upon arrival.
  • Mother of a Thousand Young: A mytocytic pool is a sentient lake of corrupted genetic material, a great quantity of substance able to form twisted parodies of life from its mass, which it occasionally releases into the wild.
  • The Mothership: The miles-wide Mothership comes and goes in the skies of New York Grey as a massive shadow across the clouds. The grey Directorate lives aboard the Mothership; no one, human or grey, knows that the members of the Directorate are not greys at all and bear not the least resemblance to earthly creatures.
  • Mr. Exposition: If a being could find and successfully activate the terminal deep inside the corpse of the eponymous deity of the Graveyard of the Machine God, that being could access a portion of the god's brain. It knows much about everything, including other recursions, Earth and the dark energy network. Accessing the terminal and asking it questions is almost certain to reveal secrets on a variety of topics.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: The green ones of Old Mars have two functioning pairs of arms.
  • Multi-Ethnic Name: Camelot Le Morte is a name that purposefully conjoins English and French, reflecting the unnatural blended nature of many natives of the recursion.
  • Multinational Team: The Apotheme Rangers are made up of natives of Earth, Ardeyn, Ruk and a few other recursions around Earth.
  • Multiple Head Case:
    • A hydra is a vicious predator with at least five heads, all of which can simultaneously bite foes in immediate range. It can gain new heads by killing humans and incorporating their heads into its body.
    • The jabberwock has three heads: one named Jabberwock (for which the whole creature is known), one named Jubjub, and the last named Bandersnatch; all of them are always angry with each other.
    • The Five-Headed Thing in the Midnight Circus has five human-sized heads nestled in the upper body of a fat man. Four of the heads are gagged; the other one is cultured and urbane, but it doesn't answer questions about the other heads.
    • A primeval creature imprisoned in the Temple of Time, whom the serpent people of Mesozoica know as a naga, has multiple heads.
  • The Multiverse: Prime worlds (like Earth), recursions, and the peculiar geography of the Strange itself, each with their own physical laws, inhabitants, and history.
  • Mundane Utility: Two superheroes in New Centropolis:
    • Divine Bullet has the superhuman ability of perfect aim and balance, which she uses to become a top-ranked online gamer without having to put in the hours practicing that other competitors do.
    • Robot Lad, with the superhuman ability to fashion independent, autonomous machines, is a straight-A student in high school.
  • Mutants: Many humans of Cataclyst are actually mutants who changed thanks to exposure to mutagens.
  • Mutually Assured Destruction: The Tinker Bell of Neverland-4 found a sword of immense power, capable of finding anyone anywhere in the recursion and killing him. She hasn't yet used the sword, because an enemy would likely toss it back her way. Instead, she uses the threat of the sword and the subsequent MAD as a tool of diplomacy.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Rive-shamash was formerly one of the Karum's finest battle strategists and most vocal adherents until she did something so ruthless and appalling in service to those beliefs that it shocked her out of that mindset completely, and she fled in anonymous shame from Ruk into the Strange.
  • Mystical Plague:
    • The Sunflower Ziggurat's habitants are afflicted by a bizarre plague whose only cure is to leave the ziggurat itself. Whether the plague is an attack by the Betrayer or is the result of another malefic influence remains undiscovered.
    • The Purple Room in the Halls of Adaman contains a magical plague that is both lethal and sentient. To take effect, the words printed on the walls must be said aloud.
    • Soon after Telluria was colonised, a psychic plague ripped through the population. It killed many elders, rendered many others into high-functioning special needs people, robbed the colony of institutional knowledge and woke psychic abilities in the children.
  • Name Amnesia:
    • One of the co-leaders of the Karum faction is only called the Foreseer and claims no other name for herself.
    • The real name of the superheroine Galaxia in New Centropolis has been forgotten, even by herself.
    • The Oracle of Ruk doesn't remember her own real name. When the power of foreseeing came upon her, she lost a lot of her own history before she managed to gain some measure of control.
  • Nanomachines: The Graveyard of the Machine God is rife with a dangerous nanovirus that gets into everything.
  • Nasty Party: Treachery, the lord of Hell Frozen Over, sometimes frees its victims from the ice, ushers them into its citadel for a warm meal and a promise of release, then inevitably betrays its promise and sends its guests back to the ice, without arm, liver or head.
  • Nazi Zombies: High-ranking Eleventh Reich officers can choose to ascend by drinking the Holy Grail with the proper preparations, turning them into Übermensch, which are essentially undead cyborgs. Without these preparations, they'll be turned into a walking corpse no different than a zombie.
  • Negative Space Wedgie: The Red Scarscape is an especially violent and chaotic location in the Strange, with all manner of secondary phenomena, dangerous weather and massive explosions. Among the destruction, one can find pockets of atmosphere, chunks of landscape, bubbles of liquid, odd forests and sparkling structures, at least until they are erased by some new turmoil.
  • Never the Selves Shall Meet: If one's original-time self ever becomes aware of one's time-travelling self, one is randomly annihilated, which might strand the survivor in a sealed time loop.
  • Nightmare Sequence: The Hulks of Kryzoreth give a strange dream to those who live nearby. Visitors to Kryzoreth characterise the dream they experience as an indescribable nightmare, and they usually try to avoid sleeping through the use of stimulants or magic.
  • The Night That Never Ends:
    • The full moon is fixed in Halloween’s midnight sky, bright and clear except when streaming clouds veil it.
    • The tiny sun at the core of the Hollow World Pellucidar has an immobile moon which provides the one area of perpetual night in the recursion, known as the Land of Awful Shadow.
  • No Biological Sex: Greys don't really have a specific gender, so calling a grey it is not an insult.
  • Noble Bird of Prey: One of the most successful cells against the Eleventh Reich is led by a woman who other Resistance members know as Lady Falcon.
  • Noble Savage: The inhabitants of Riverside live in harmony with their environment, despite the pinnacle of their technology being bows and spears and their habitat being a dangerous jungle. They don't need modern medicine when they know which plant to use to cure nearly any ailment. They don't need agriculture because they know how to gather food. Equality is a given, and life's good.
  • Nobody Here but Us Statues: A grotesque can hold still and be mistaken for a statue. Because all sorts of macabre statuary litter the landscape of Hell Frozen Over, the grotesques blend in.
  • No Face Under the Mask: A yobuko has a slender humanoid body and always wears a mask. Behind the mask is an utterly blank expanse of flesh; the mask is also the yobuko's face.
  • Nominal Hero: The Mordred of Camelot Le Morte is a cruel, sadistic warlock who happens to lead the resistance against the infection of the maladie de la machine.
  • No Social Skills: Dale Henderson has trouble with social integration. He is on the autism spectrum and doesn’t read social cues particularly well.
  • Not Quite Dead:
    • Radioactive Girl exploded with the force of a hydrogen bomb, though she is slowly reforming somewhere down in the Crater. When she eventually returns, disaster may well unfold, because the Kasrang Mother Virus managed to infect her right before she exploded.
    • Gearbox nurses a lingering hate for the loss of her young son, a civilian casualty from twenty years earlier when the Spectaculars of that era took down Doctor Nefarious. As it happens, her son survived and is now part of that same superhero group. His name is Robot Lad, but Gearbox doesn't know it.
  • Nuclear Nasty: The zombies infesting the Braidwood Nuclear Generating Plant in Zed Amrica are highly radioactive. When they swarm out of the facility every few nights, they glow with a flickering, greenish-blue light and leave a blackened trail of dead plants and animals in their wake, which is impossible to miss.
  • Ominous Fog: R639 resembles a Seattle in December without power and one where everyone has vanished. Cloud cover is constant, grey and oppressive, and a seeping damp chill pervades everything.
  • One Character, Multiple Lives: Before the founding of Edo in Samurai Sky, Ieyasu Tokugawa and three others were attacked by an oni and a hundred brigands. The oni attempted to rip the life from the four and feed it to the brigands, but the spell rebounded: their life force was magically infused into Tokugawa and his three companions. Now, when any of the four die, that life is debited against the one hundred and one extra lives given to the group until they run out.
  • Organ Autonomy: For years, the Ankaseri faction of Ruk sold a weaponised artificial heart graft called angiophage. Upon receiving a proper passcode, followed by instructions given audibly or while the recipient was connected by umbilical to the All Song, an angiophage would leave off its duties in a recipient's chest, dig its way out, and attack a designated target, killing the recipient in the process.
  • Orphean Rescue: A possibility, if you die in Ardeyn. If you came through an inapposite gate, though, you don't have a soul to save from the underworld.
  • Our Angels Are Different:
    • In Ardeyn, the qephilim are a race descended from immortal angelic beings who served the Maker and his Incarnations. When the Betrayal occurred and the Incarnations failed, the qephilim became mortal.
    • In Starship Heinlein, the angels are no more than humans living on a generation ship that consider themselves holy. They have retained some semblance of the knowledge required to keep a starship operational, which they consider rituals of worship, not science. Angels each have a revelation, which they see as proof of their divine heritage but in truth are merely drones that provide owners with basic access to certain functions provided by the starship.
    • Each of the golem-like angels of Eschatos appears like a different extinct terrestrial animal forged of silver. They serve Eris, a magitech entity who oversees the Last City, the home of the last humans in a universe that has undergone heat death.
  • Our Demons Are Different:
    • In Ardeyn, demons of Lotan are the spirits that slip through the nets of umber judges and spirit magistrates and find their way to Lotan. Every good memory is cauterised and every slight, misfortune, snub, and pain is amplified. The resulting mind knows only hate and the desire to tempt others into the same state as itself.
    • Hell Frozen Over is home to a variety of terrifying natives who resemble visually and behaviourally a few popular conceptions of demons and devils.
    • The demons of Starship Heinlein are people who survive contact with the alien seeds known as sinroots and get turned into homicidal maniacs.
    • Abysm, the afterlife of the Sword Realms, is inhabited by all manner of demons, including sword demons and chain demons.
    • The demons of Wuxia City are not the same kind of Western demons. These Chinese demons are often spirits of vicious animals, the lost pets of deities, or other supernatural beings. Not all are evil, and most seem to have the goal of achieving immortality through apotheosis.
    • Purgatory demons are goat-legged, wickedly horned demons, skeletons and creatures that seem like odd combinations of different animals. Some of them are aware of the inapposite gate linking the recursion to Earth and seek to wreak as much death and destruction as possible.
  • Our Dragons Are Different:
    • Dragons of Ardeyn, creations of Lotan, are massive, feathered, exceptionally territorial and competitive. They love games of all sorts, especially ones that end with the nondragon loser being eaten.
    • Glass dragons of the Glass Desert are creatures of magic, spawned by the destruction of the Maker's Hall that also created the desert itself. Learned sorcerers suggest that other dragons of disaster probably exist in Ardeyn, having been spawned by various catastrophes. They are draconic only in broad outline, appearing as animate collections of shattered glass.
    • Demon drakes are the biggest, rarest and strongest demons in Hell Frozen Over. They refer to themselves as lords of Hell and play up their demonic role to the fullest, but are well aware of the Strange and enjoy the status as the biggest fish in their recursion. Their bodies are covered in scales that seem almost metallic.
    • A dragon resides in Oceanmist, and the resident pirates bring it booty and treasure as a sign of respect. The dragon is scaled, not feathered like those in Ardeyn. The dragon is nameless and doesn't currently possess the spark. Clinically depressed, it only rouses if forced to defend itself or its hoard, or if visitors suggest a game. Each of the prominent natives of Oceanmist with the spark independently concluded that it was necessary to win the dragon as an ally.
    • Tetsu are dragonlike creatures seeded by Japanese myth. Despite a lack of wings, a tetsu's magic allows it to fly and gives it a host of potential abilities. Even the smallest lake in Seishin Shore is usually guarded by a territorial tetsu that regards the mote as its home.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Dwarves are a squat, broad, and bearded race native to the Sword Realms. They tend to be stubborn, conservative, honourable, proud and appreciative of underground wealth. When a dwarf is wronged, he never forgets.
  • Our Elves Are Better: Native to recursions that operate under the law of Magic, elves are slender, quick, graceful, long lived, and like song, wine, and the deep beauties of growing things.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: The giants of Ardeyn are the results of a curse which only triggers during storms or when a victim becomes emotionally stressed or overexcited. The rest of the time, a giant is human-sized and appears (and may live) just like a regular human. Episodes of gigantism, when the giant is a house-sized rampaging monster, are forgotten by the giant, except perhaps only as a vague dream. The curse of gigantism is normally passed by blood, but usually doesn't strike until the age of 35.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: A spirit of wrath is a bodiless spirit of rage and loss created when a spirit of a dead creature in Ardeyn fails to find its way to the Night Vault, escapes it, or is summoned forth by a necromancer. On occasion, a wrath still remembers its life and may respond to questions, seek to locate its loved ones or enemies, or attempt to finish a task it started in life. But in time, its mind will erode and it becomes a mindless monster.
  • Our Ghouls Are Creepier:
    • Ghouls in Halloween are goblins who have developed a taste for the flesh of their fellows. Hungry for flesh (even rotting flesh), they dig up about one in ten fresh graves in the Graveyard.
    • In Wuxia City, a ghoul is a person who sought the sacrament of the Darkness and willingly became a supernatural entity of endless hunger. Ghouls can see in the dark, are immortal unless killed, and understand the pleasure of gnawing human flesh.
  • Our Goblins Are Different: A Halloween goblin looks somewhat like the original recursor but is about 1 m tall, with green-hued skin and a predisposition for a pointy nose.
  • Our Ogres Are Hungrier: The ogre is a sadistic, 2 m tall, cannibalistic fiend that preys upon other creatures in the woods, mountains or other wilderness areas of recursions that operate under the law of Magic. Stupid and cruel, ogres don't like conversation, even with their own kind.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: Orcs are miserable, misbegotten humanoids that seem destined to serve as fodder for evil overlords. When left to their own devices, they turn on each other, the strongest oppressing the next weakest and so on. No two orcs look exactly alike, but all have stooped backs, crooked legs and a mean, ugly, shambolic facade.
  • Our Souls Are Different: Living, thinking beings have souls... if they're in Ardeyn, or perhaps similar recursions.
  • Our Spirits Are Different: The spirits of Ohunkakan were birthed by the stories themselves. Most take human shape, but others are animals, plants, or inanimate objects: delicate men whose stag antlers show only in shadow, sparrow-eyed old women who reveal a flash of wing when they dance and dirty, heavy-footed men with faces like granite are all possible.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Vampires are undead creatures of the night that rise from their graves to drink blood and are weakened by UV light. The very nature and essence of the vampire is evil and anti-life, even as they revel in their own endless existence. The recursion known as Gloaming is home to many vampires.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: When not transformed, many werewikves seem like completely normal people. They usually transform into bloodthirsty, rampaging wolves at night in response to moon-related cues, except a few who can control their transformation. They often forget what they did while transformed or even realise that they are werewolves at all. The few that do either kill themselves before their next transformation or learn to revel in the butchery. The recursion known as Gloaming is home to many werewolves.
  • Our Zombies Are Different:
    • Zombie is a broad term referring to humans transformed into aggressive, hard-to-kill serial killers with no memory of their former existence.
    • A recently deceased kro corpse can be transformed by a magician into a magically animated and preserved kro courser. A kro courser pack answers to the commands of anyone who holds their leash. If a leash is destroyed, the associated courser or pack attacks all nearby creatures without restraint.
  • Panacea: The Grail of Camelot Le Morte is a holy relic believed to have the ability to cure all disease and ailments, including the decrepitude of age.
  • Paper People: Matsuko the Thin, the ruler of the city of Ashihira in Seishin Shore, exists only in two dimensions; when she turns sideways, she seems to disappear from view.
  • Parasite Zombie: If the fungi from Crash become quickened, they could send servitors taking the form of recursors whose minds have been replaced with controlling fungus.
  • Penal Colony: Killarus is an inhospitable desert planet in Rebel Galaxy that serves as a prison for the worst (apprehended) criminals alive.
  • Petting Zoo People: Doctor Ceratops has the body of a humanoid ceratopsid which doesn't change much when he translates.
  • The Phoenix: Each phoenix of Ardeyn and the Sword Realms is the literal weight of sin once carried by an individual. As creatures of living sinfire, phoenixes seek the recently dead to feed upon and, in the process, create more phoenixes. If a phoenix is destroyed, the sin it was born from is erased, or so the legend goes.
  • Pirate: The narrative of Oceanmist demands that pirates fight each other and the royalty.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Siraja has the full and feared reputation of a glass pirate, but the truth is that she's only in the business of hunting other pirates.
  • The Plague: In the narrative of the Plague Kingdom, a monumentally devastating influenza plague killed off almost everyone in the modern world. Survivors are scarce, perhaps only one in a few thousand.
  • Plant Person: In Gorilla Planet, the intelligent apes have blended human DNA with genetically engineered vegetation. The fruits of these human trees ripen into fully functional human heads that are capable of speech until they starve and shrivel. The seeds inside this fruit propagate new human trees. However, if a human fruit is plucked at the height of freshness and given the proper treatment, it sprouts into a fully articulated normal human.
  • Playing with Fire:
    • Some mutants in Cataclyst can cause a flammable object within immediate range to spontaneously catch fire.
    • Blaze, a member of the Spectaculars superhero team in New Centropolis, can emit blasts of inferno-hot fire.
  • Pleasure Island: Brochures paint Jerry Toomey's private compound Promised Land as a wonderful place for the wealthy to get away for a weekend of relaxation and fun, but it’s actually a place where the wealthy and other opinion-makers get brainwashed by Toomey.
  • Pocket Dimension: What most recursions effectively are. "Prime worlds", like Earth, are fully realized.
  • Poison-and-Cure Gambit: Right before their home sun went nova, several extereons were saved by the Chaos Templars who transferred them to a haven in the Strange. The surviving extereons and their descendants remain extraordinarily grateful to the Chaos Templars, who in truth had secretly caused the sun to go nova and then swooped in to 'save' part of the race.
  • Poisoned Weapons: The greeneyes of Mesozoica employ poison on their spear and dart tips that can paralyse or kill.
  • Poisonous Person: Mister Genocide has the unfortunate ability to synthesise deadly poison from his skin. His touch can kill, but if he wishes it, so can his spittle or even his breath.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: The twin sorcerers Lei and Mei, two of the co-leaders of the Storm dojo in Wuxia City, never seem to agree on anything. Where Lei is silent and retreating, Mei is talkative and quick.
  • Police State:
    • The Schutzstaffel apparently have a method to identify intruders to the Eleventh Reach, as well as a way to zero in on a recursor's current location relatively quickly.
    • Ccitizens of Panopticon live under direct and constant scrutiny by the State. They must comply with strict schedules, curfews, strip searches on command, and other indignities. Only approved entertainments are allowed, which means that most media are outlawed.
  • The Pollyanna: Charlie, the Grey Ambassador in New York Grey, comes across as guileless, full of energy and ideas, and unaffected by bad news, other than to say that any particular setback is an opportunity to do better next time.
  • Portal Network: Different groups maintain their own network of gates, including one gate on a moving train that leads to a prison recursion.
  • Powered Armor:
    • The Eleventh Reich's War Walker is a weaponised, motorised exoskeleton covering the wearer's body.
    • The octopus sapiens in Qoph have developed personal exosuits that allow them to move on land for a limited time without harm.
  • Power Tattoo: At the Tattooed Woman's command, her tattoos animate, wiggle free from her skin, and do as she asks.
  • Precursors: The alien race who created the Strange, then died off. It's stated that planetovores will make quick work of any civilization advanced enough to use the Strange at anything near its real potential.
  • Prehistoria: The lush, tropical recursion of Mesozoica was seeded by popular stories, movies, myths and misconceptions about the age of dinosaurs. It is inhabited by dinosaurs, mammalian megafauna, savage hominids and a degenerate race of serpent people.
  • Primal Stance: An umber wolf resembles a starved, demonic human moving on all fours.
  • Prison Dimension: The government maintains a recursion for prisoners, whose properties make it virtually impossible to enter or leave via the usual means. Translating either in or out is a difficulty 10 Intellect-based task, which means the only reliable way in or out is through a translation gate that OSR keeps on a secret armoured rail car, always moving around the country, picking up and processing new residents for Homebound.
  • Privateer: The Palombaro is a privateer ship operating in the Cloud Sea in Seishin Shore. They usually board and loot ships only if they have received a legal commission to do so from one of the larger city motes or the Library.
  • Private Military Contractors: Qephilim of the Free Battalion serve as mercenaries across Ardeyn. Unlike many mercenaries or even regular hired guards, they are more concerned with the underlying legality or morality of a particular duty asked of them, and might refuse orders that they view to be unjust.
  • Prospector: Treasure seekers, especially dwarves, brave the volcano known as the One, looking for rare minerals belched forth by previous expulsions.
  • Psychic Powers: One of the many power sources available to natives of the recursions.
  • Public-Domain Character: Recursions of some popular worlds in the public domain exist in the Strange thanks to especially active fictional leakage. If someone were to find any of these recursions, it's not improbable they could meet the well-known characters. Tthe core rulebook presents Old Mars, Oz, 221B Baker Street, Innsmouth and Wonderland; the Worlds Numberless and Strange supplement adds AD 802,701, Avalon, Camelot Le Morte, Kiplingverse, Gothic Playground, Neverland-4, New Kingdom, R'lyeh, Sycorax Island and War of the Worlds; other supplements mention Legendary Greece, Legendary Arabia, Legendary Novgorod, Legendary Canaan, Legendary India, Albion, Asgard and the Nine Worlds.
  • Quiet Cry for Help: Those who travel any of the major thoroughfares in R639 see, painted over faded graffiti, a series of messages in purple spray paint: 'Help! We're hiding in the Virginia Grayson Medical Center!' They were made by Justin Brown, a patient in the hospital, using spray paint he liberated from a home improvement store.
  • Razor Wind: On the surface of the Glass Desert in Ardeyn, what isn't a sere plain of reflective glass is covered in sand dunes made up of glass particles. When winds blow across the Glass Desert, they can cut the flesh from the bones of living creatures.
  • Reality Warper: While in the Strange or in a recursion, the Archcoder can call upon her root access to the dark energy network and accomplish tasks as if a god. These powers cannot be used in the universe of normal matter.
  • Reduced to Ratburgers: To survive, the residents of Cannibal Wasteland hunt rats, multiheaded snakes, and giant cockroaches.
  • Reformed Criminal: The proprietor of the Imperial Ryokan inn in Samurai Sky, Matsudaira, is reputed to have been a brigand who became a merchant. Whether true or not, people are afraid to cross him.
  • Regent for Life: Samurai Sky is under the putative control of the Emperor, but he lives in 'far-off' Kyoto and isn't actually part of the recursion except as a belief, and the Shogun in Edo has the most day-to-day power.
  • Reincarnation: The few spirits deemed so righteous or so important are selected for reincarnation by the Court of Sleep in Ardeyn, either as newborns with past life memories, adults in new forms, magical artefacts, or just as when they were at the time of death.
  • The Resenter: The story of War was one of resentment toward the Maker for the Maker's acceptance of humans. That, combined with resentments Jason Cole still carried from Earth, led to the Betrayal.
  • La Résistance:
    • A group of organized resistors persists in Welthauptstadt Germania, capital of the Eleventh Reich. Using the symbol of a white rose, the Resistance prints and secretly distributes anti-Nazi literature. The Resistance also conducts secret activities, such as attempts to shut down factories, free prisoners, and in at least one failed case, assassinate the Führer. The Resistance operates in cells that remain separate from other cells, so that if one group is compromised, the other groups remain safe.
    • Almost as soon as the Grand Imperium overthrew the Galactic Council and took control of Rebel Galaxy, the Rebellion was born. Their determination, bravery and skill make up for their lack of numbers and supplies. Almost always outnumbered in any given engagement, rebels use hit-and-run tactics and are often better saboteurs and seditionists than warriors.
    • The House of Gears is inhabited by mechanisms that its creator Tallow believes are incapable of developing the spark and treats as disposable servants, courtiers, lovers and soldiers. Despite Tallow's belief, a few mechanisms have indeed gained the spark, and one that calls itself Orlorn has secretly started to work against Tallow by trying to gather all others with the spark and wake many others that lack it.
  • Resurrective Immortality: Thunderbird, a supernatural bird native to the Thunder Plains, will reform a night after being killed unless slain in another recursion.
  • Ring World Planet: The recursion Ring is a massive ring around a sun, seeded by novels, settings, and games about similar structures.
  • Robot Dog: Lobo is a robot shaped like a massive hound made of metal. It possesses artificial intelligence and patrols subway tunnels surrounding the Green Hills Society's hidden base under New York Grey to keep away intruders.
  • Rogue Drone: A kray drone ate too many creatures with the spark around Earth and suddenly gained the spark itself, becoming a fully conscious entity. Upon doing so, it rethought its position in existence and decided it wanted better. However, all of its attempts to approach anyone from Earth or recursions have been met with unmitigated hostility.
  • Ruling Family Massacre: The Zhou family rose to prominence early in Telluria's history, but its members were hunted to extinction several hundred years ago.
  • Samurai: In Samurai Sky, samurai are famed warriors who follow the code of Bushido and serve a Karou or shogun.
  • Sanity Slippage: The longer a soulshorn survives, the more erratic and outright insane it becomes. Many become megalomaniacal, others become drooling idiots.
  • Savage Wolves: Fusion hounds are mutant canines that absorb unbelievable amounts of radiation and thrive on it. They roam Cataclyst in packs, killing and devouring everything they come upon.
  • Scary Librarian: The Master Librarian is an authoritarian with a high opinion of himself. He is easily angered, and breaking even a minor rule of the Library of Seishin Shore is a quick path to being ejected or, worse, turned over to the Compilers for binding.
  • Schizo Tech: Rebel Galaxy has high-energy weaponry and extremely advanced technologies existing amid simple ones like conventional swords.
  • Scorpion People: The scormels of Ardeyn are creatures with the upper torsos of people and lower bodies like giant scorpions.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can:
    • Many organisations aware of the dark energy network keep a list of banned recursions that are never to be visited, lest visitors give the spark (or worse) to a squamous, rugose thing like Cthulhu in R'lyeh (who sleeps, but will eventually return according to the recursion's narrative).
    • Lotan, an evil god imprisoned within his own world-sized body by the Maker, who set the Incarnations to monitor the petrified shape, which came to be called Ardeyn. Should Lotan ever wake and shake off Ardeyn's soil and vegetation, the recursion would be utterly destroyed.
    • The Tomb of the Nine Dragons is a magical prison filled with demons, spirits, warlocks and other servitors of the eponymous Nine Dragons, powerful criminals who ruled Wuxia City with extreme fear and terror. Despite the supposed inviolate nature of the Tomb, rumours periodically circulate that one or more of the Dragons has found a way out and is rebuilding their old empire in secret.
    • Malathamashawi is a planetovore, or at least it once was, though it has been in a quiescent stage for several centuries.
  • Second Super-Identity: Doctor Amazing, after being incarcerated thanks to the quantum collapse tech that he created, was teleported to a previously prepared secret lair due to a back door which he programmed in the tech. And rather than crow about his deception (yet), Doctor Amazing adopted a secondary codename: Ghostmancer.
  • Secret Identity: Most superheroes in New Centropolis maintain a separate private identity other than their public heroic identity. Supervillains usually do not do this.
  • The Secret of Long Pork Pies: In the Sunny Flakes cereal line in New York Grey, humans are dried, powdered, and processed into an innocuous-looking ingredient that is fed back up to the regular factory floor. Yes, Sunny Flakes is people.
  • Self-Duplication:
    • The Incarnation of War could split himself into thousands, becoming the Army of Ardeyn. This power was greatly diminished after he slew the Maker and lost most of his power in the process.
    • Fission has the ability to split into several nearly identical versions of herself, including basic clothes and weapons. They have most of the original's memories and motivations, and they usually act in concert with Fission, though she doesn't mentally control them directly.
  • Self-Guarding Phlebotinum: Many relics and mythological objects in the Eleventh Reich, especially those deemed holy, have a tendency to misbehave in Nazi hands. The Holy Grail has a tendency to turn anyone who drinks from it into a zombie, the Armour of Karna kills any officer of the Reich that wears it, and the Spear of Longinus turns them into pillars of fire.
  • Semi-Divine: Merlin is a creature with both human and demon blood running through his veins.
  • Sensory Overload:
    • Unpracticed users of the All Song who first plug in are inundated by music, text, images, emotions, varying feelings of pressure, scents and other sensations that defy explanation. An Earth visitor once described it as drowning in a social media ocean that wasn't restricted to a two-dimensional screen, nor just to sight and sound, akin to taking psilocybin mushrooms or LSD.
    • Getting close to the heart of Microcosmica is as difficult as it would be for an astronaut to get close to the sun: the beat is so loud that it overwhelms all baffles in submersibles and dive suits, and it renders the researcher unconscious.
    • Touching a crystalline native of 20K instils crazed visions of philosophy, mathematics and concepts too alien to name, which incites awe but risks seizures in the investigator.
  • Shock and Awe: The Thunderbird in the Thunder Plains and the Thunderer in Ohunkakan can eradicate a foe in a blast of lightning.
  • Sibling Murder: Arbiter Maru-shtal of the Factol Council once had a twin brother whose life the Ankaseri faction attempted to use as a bargaining chip to sway her on a decision. In response, Maru-shtal slew him herself by striking Ankaseri's tower, ending their reign as a faction.
  • Silver Bullet: Silver causes werewolves in Gloaming to weaken and prevents them from transforming into wolf form.
  • Single-Biome Planet: In Rebel Galaxy, there are desert planets, forest planets, swamp planets, frozen planets, and so forth, each an expression of a single environment. Each 'planet' is really just a few dozen miles across, with the implication that the rest of the world is more of the same.
  • Single Specimen Species: Each kaiju is a unique and utterly frightening creature that can have any form.
  • The Singularity: The Singularity (the point when computer and biological innovation spiked so quickly that predicting trends was no longer possible) devastated the recursion of Cataclyst beyond recognition.
  • Slave Brand: The status of a slave in Dyranmar is magically marked on their skin by a Lawkeeper tattoo. When the slave's term of service is up, the tattoo dissipates. To damage an ex-slave or hold one beyond the length of their term is a crime.
  • Snake People:
    • A serpent person stands as tall as a human but has a slender, sinuous body covered in mottled scales. Its head and tapering tail are distinctively serpentlike, and a forked tongue flickers from its mouth.
    • A ngeshtin looks somewhat like a qephilim from the waist up and a massive snake from the waist down.
  • Sole Survivor: In Telluria, rumour has it that a heir of the Zhou family (who is supposedly extinct, having been exterminated by the other noble families) is rising in the west, wielding the power of genesis itself in vengeful hands.
  • Sorcerous Overlord: Avalon is ruled by nine sorceress sisters.
  • Soul Eating: Umber wolves have a taste for souls, regardless of whether those souls are still inhabiting a living body. If a living creature or spirit is slain by an umber wolf, the spirit is destroyed for good, since the wolves consume the very soul of their prey.
  • Space Battle: Battles between starships of various kinds are a frequent occurrence in the galactic war in Rebel Galaxy.
  • Space Pirates: An infamous fleet of pirate ships, led by a man from Massachusetts called Blistering Bral, operates throughout Rebel Galaxy.
  • Space Station: The Great Wheel is a station that orbits a red giant star in Rebel Galaxy and serves as a trading port for goods of all kinds.
  • Spare Body Parts: Organs of various kinds are sometimes found duplicated in Microcosmica.
  • Spider Swarm: Fluffy white spiderfields extend all around Gatt, covering everything in a shroud of silky webs that looks like new-fallen snow. Swarms of tiny white spiders will awaken to crawl up the legs and cover the bodies of foolish visitors who wade out into the white.
  • Spontaneous Human Combustion: If a recursor is forcibly ejected from Cyberspace by military-grade ICE, his body appears in his home recursion or on Earth, in a body stuck in a coma or that's just suffered a bout of spontaneous combustion.
  • Standard Fantasy Setting: The Sword Realms are the name for several connected recursions shaped by wizardry, hidden elvish enclaves, ambitious human kingdoms, rapacious dragons, barbarian outlanders, marauding orc tribes, trolls and mountain giants, half-forgotten deities, and amazing treasures of gold and magic.
  • Starfish Language:
    • The language of the octopus sapiens consists of skin chromatophores. A recursor who translates in as an octopus can speak the same way, but one who arrives as a human will find it difficult to communicate.
    • The sacrosancts of the Graveyard of the Machine God have a machine language of computer tones and flashing lights.
  • Steam Punk: Steam London is a recursion typified by a steampunk aesthetic, where massive dirigibles, giant robots, rocket packs and duels with rocket guns exist.
  • Stepford Suburbia: Goodland is a typical town from late 1950s and early 1960s American television shows where crime is essentially unheard of. If visitors step too far out of line, they face the same fate as the out of town bank robbers, scam artists, escaped convicts and vagrants who occasionally find their way to Goodland: a midnight lynching by the good parents of the city, who hide their identities beneath blank masks.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: As the Earthlings say in the War of the Worlds, when the second wave of Martians landed after the first one fell to the common cold: 'Keep calm and culture your microbiome.'
  • The Stoic: Not much of Sir Percival's original personality remains after the maladie de la machine in Camelot Le Morte struck him, and he isn't given to engaging unconverted humans in dialogue.
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler: Nazi ideologues are happy to explain how the Eleventh Reich finally came to pass because of a triumph of superior science. Superscience laboratories house staff, parts, prototypes, chemicals, human subjects and the science labs where the edges of weapon tech and human performance are explored daily, unrestrained by ethics or morality.
  • Subspace or Hyperspace: In Rebel Galaxy, the vast gulfs of space between planets are quickly crossed by a hyperspace drive, and it is impossible to get from one planet to another without one. Such a journey takes a few hours, regardless of the starting point and destination. Starships are in truth less like vehicles and more like conduits between otherwise inaccessible areas of the recursion.
  • Super Doc: Doctor Kang carries only the highest quality remedies in Wuxia City and is often available in his shop to provide top-notch advice to those seeking to cure an ailment.
  • Super-Persistent Predator:
    • Once it goes after something, killing it is usually the only way to stop an utricle.
    • If it is attacked or part of its hoard stolen, the dragon of Oceanmist will hunt miscreants down to the edges of the recursion.
  • Supervillain Lair:
    • Megeddon is one massive, city-sized black iron citadel where the Betrayer and all his homunculi reside. It is peopled almost entirely with copies of the Betrayer that he calls homunculi.
    • The Karum secret stronghold is located in a mote of fundament out in the Strange, and the gate connecting the two locations is hosted from the guarded centre of their public faction house. Within this secret stronghold, the Karum marshal the greatest part of their strength in agents, weapons and secret research projects.
    • Mendalla, head of the Onomasticon criminal organisation, never stirs from his secret lair beneath the Iasos River, sending various representatives and contractors to do his bidding.
  • Survivor Guilt: The Lancelot of Camelot Le Morte is disgusted with himself over not having died at Arthur’s side, fighting for his king.
  • Sycophantic Servant: Prince Garland Lancaster lives in a tower by the sea of Oceanmist, filled with servants and soldiers that never fail to tell him how grand and wonderful he is.
  • Tailor-Made Prison: The Department of Superhuman Affairs maintains a special facility able to hold even the most powerful supervillain in New Centropolis. Using a little-understood technology called quantum collapse, prisoners are collapsed to nonexistence, which makes it hard for them to escape confinement.
  • Talking Animal:
    • The natives of Pantamal are talking, clothes-wearing animals of nearly every variety.
    • In Kiplingverse, animals can converse in a common language.
    • Strawberry Fayre is inhabited by sentient, talking rabbits living in a few colonies.
  • Team Switzerland: The city of Caerleon in Camelot Le Morte remains rich despite the war between Mordred and Camelot, supplying both sides with weapons and armour.
  • Technically Living Zombie:
    • Zombie is a broad term referring to humans transformed into aggressive, hard-to-kill serial killers with no memory of their former existence, and undeath is only one of the possible reasons for a zombie's transformation.
    • A human or qephilim that uses a specific necromantic sorcery to expunge its own soul without killing itself becomes an undead creature called a soulshorn, which still breathes, eats, and sleeps.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Translation, gates, and more. There's half a dozen different ways to navigate the Strange.
  • Teleport Interdiction:
    • Zal surrounded the planet Killarus in Rebel Galaxy with a translation ward: recursors can translate into Killarus, but not out. They take advantage of this to imprison enemies in an inhospitable, near-inescapable prison in a far-off corner of a backwater recursion.
    • The Cannibal Wasteland is suffused in radiation that prevents recursors from translating out of it, except if they're in the radiation-free Grotto of Whispers.
    • The difficulty of all translation tasks out of the Labyrinth is increased by three steps, and all failed translation attempts return the travelers back to wherever they started in the maze.
  • Terraforming: The Martians of the War of the Worlds are working on plans to convert Earth's environment to be more like Mars.
  • Tested on Humans:
    • Tests conducted by the Eleventh Reich's Wissenschaftsbüro are frequently done on live human subjects.
    • A recursor who stays for too long in AD 802,701 risks becoming a test subject in the Time Traveller's science experiments.
  • That's No Moon!:
    • The Hulks of Kryzoreth form a series of rounded hills that, from a distance, resemble a pod of whales that has beached itself. The hulks are commonly considered to be vast, sentient bulks that are partly stone and partly alive. The origin of the hulks is not certain, likely the remnants of a past planetovore's attempt to colonise.
    • The Rogue Star is a blazing ball of amber fire surrounding a core of white-hot matter that streaks through the Strange and demolishes all structures that it interacts with. It is not actually the incendiary comet, ignited dwarf planet or tiny sun that it seems to be at first glance. If observers could get near enough without being burnt up by the envelope of surrounding fire, they would glimpse fossil-like forms embedded in the inner core as well as artificial structures, machinery and vehicles.
  • Thieves' Guild: A guild of thieves is quite active in the Free City of Dyranmar, but never openly. Little is known about them other than the evidence of their thefts, and the rumour that when the guild principals meet, they wear golden masks to hide their true identities from one another.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: One of the possible fates of the heretics who speak the truth about Starship Heinlein (contrary to what the priestesses preach) and are subsequently branded as criminals is to be ejected to the Abyss (outer space).
  • Time Master: Someone who succeeds on the Intellect roll when entering the light in the Temple of Time in Mesozoica gains a limited and local mastery over time.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: The Zauber Maleficarum, discovered by the wizards of Dyranmar, is a particularly foul book of spells. Supposedly haunted by the ghosts of its authors, the book has gained far too much agency.
  • Tom the Dark Lord: The real name of the Betrayer of Ardeyn and former Incarnation of War is Jason Cole.
  • Too Many Mouths: Green homunculi have a second, extendible mouth within their main one.
  • Torture Technician: Citizens of Panopticon deemed to be dissidents are disappeared and rendered to Truthdroids well versed in torturing a confession of guilt from anyone, regardless of actual seditious activity.
  • To Serve Man: Recursors that translate into Kiplingverse in human form are given over to the tiger Shere Khan, who harbors a long-running grudge against humans.
  • Training from Hell: New recruits to the Beak Mafia are trained in a brutal lost-world recursion that eats normal wise kro for breakfast. Survivors are slapped with the label 'kro goon' and become part of whichever family sponsored them.
  • Trapped in Another World:
    • The Theater of War has a way of drawing recursors of failed translation attempts, and some physical relics of World War II sometimes open brief translation gates that trap unwitting victims, usually not quickened. This leads to the main reason recursors might choose to visit the Theater of War: to rescue those who have become trapped in the 'past'.
    • Desktop Terrene, where recursors are translated into inanimate objects on a desk and the only available focus confers an increasing acceptance of the placid existence in the recursion, was almost certainly constructed as a trap for recursors unaware of its danger.
    • The longer a recursor stays in Night's Edge, the more likely they will become entangled with the natives and become unwilling to leave. In Night's Edge, recursors can actually lose the spark. That's what happened to Sam Johnson, owner of the town diner.
    • The trunk of a vintage Ford Falcon Coupe on Earth offers a one-way inapposite gate to Cannibal Wasteland, which also houses a translation anchor which turns the recursion into a magnet for translation attempts that fail, pulling recursors off course into Cannibal Wasteland. The background radiation makes it impossible to translate away, except in the radiation-free Grotto of Whispers, whose proprietor doesn't take well to visitors. Jamala Landers, the local mechanic, is actually a recursor who has been stuck for a while and become somewhat crazed in her time spent in the wasteland.
    • The Game of Screams is linked to Halloween and can draw people into the game, trapping them until the game is finished.
  • Tree Top Town: Greeneyes live predominantly in nest-like structures hidden in the jungle canopy.
  • Tripod Terror: Alien tripod walkers tower over most buildings in the War of the Worlds, unleashing rays of frightening heat able to devastate the best that twentieth-century science can throw at them.
  • Truly Single Parent: A hydra is born when the 'parent' accumulates too many heads and discards some of them, which braid together and crawl away as a new hydra.
  • Tube Travel: A rapid-transport system operates in the Veritex tunnels connecting Shome and the Shadowed City, where people ride in a kind of slime-filled pneumatic tube between the two stations. Transport takes only a minute, if one is willing to put up with being covered in mucus.
  • Underwater Base: The Estate established a base in the ocean world of Thyrul III in Rebel Galaxy, which is essentially a large submersible.
  • Underwater City:
    • The city of Juvanom, submerged under the central basin sea of Ardeyn.
    • Octopus sapiens live in underwater coral cities that contain hatcheries, larva playgrounds, plankton farms, ink art academies, research labs and dry chambers for interrogating humans.
    • The city of R'lyeh is usually drowned at the bottom of the ocean, but sometimes rises partly to the surface.
  • Underwater Ruins: Rumour has it that at the endpoint of the Hydra Cascade underwater current is a ruin rumoured to be rich in magic, treasure, and lost secrets.
  • The Unfettered: Heinrich Himmler has no loyalty to anyone except the Führer. He'll betray any trust, exploit any weakness, and trample over any principle if it advances him or the Reich.
  • Unfinished Business: If a powerful telepath died in the midst of attempting an important mission or task, their mental energies give the need to accomplish that task a life of its own. These psychic remnants have no free will or capacity to do anything other than attempt to complete the task that drives them.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Entropic seeds are sometimes offered as 'gifts' from planetovores to those inside a recursion or on a prime world, especially to those who are not fully aware of a planetovore's and seed's true nature. Though using an entropic seed may bring about the user's desires in the short term, such a thing could spell a terrible end for a recursion, or even a prime.
  • Urban Fantasy: Urban Fantastic is the term given to a class of recursions seeded by the plethora of urban fantasy stories. It includes a recursion called Urban Wizardry and others of a similar bent. An Urban Fantastic recursion seems just like modern-day Earth, but one where magic and creatures of the night, of myth and of magic are all too real.
  • Vampire Hunter: The Van Helsings of Gothic Playground oppose Dracula and his clan of vampires.
  • Victorian London: Gothic Playground is an 1890s Victorian England where vampires are all too real.
  • Vigilante Man:
    • New Centropolis has developed a legal framework to deal with the issue of superheroes being charged as vigilantes. If a superhuman is involved in some sort of incident, the Department of Superhuman Affairs looks into it afterwards. If the efforts of the superhuman in that event are found to be in the interest of the public good, all is well. However, if the acts of the superhuman are found to be questionable or outright illegal, the DSA may issue a warrant for their arrest.
    • Lucy Shattuck, a quickened native of Silverwood, hunts down criminals across recursions and brings them to vigilante justice, six-shooter style.
  • Villain Override: Most myriands are part-time shift workers who have a completely different personality and aspect when not patrolling. When their shift comes up, an attached biological pod activates, transforming that person into a battle chrysalid. While transformed, the myriand loses all sense of its former identity, becoming hypervigilant, without pity or fear, and unable to do anything other than obey the letter of the law.
  • Villain Team-Up: Supervillains in New Centropolis sometimes make alliances, the longest lasting of which was the Conquerors, assembled by Doctor Amazing. Like most such alliances, the team eventually fell apart when the villains turned on each other.
  • The Virus:
    • Lambent is a shared intelligence hosted in a fungus that evolved inside a radioactive crater where a bio lab once stood in Cataclyst. It can spread itself into the bodies of living creatures by killing their brains and filling the inside of their shells with a fungal copy.
    • A group of semi-mechanical sacrosancts in the Graveyard of the Machine God called the Washed grow their numbers by converting others to be like them, whether those others are unconverted sacrosancts or visitors.
    • The maladie de la machine is a virus that turns living flesh into a cybernetic equivalent. An infection can take days to completely convert a creature, though the process can be accelerated to less than one minute if another mécanisme is the direct vector.
    • A bite from a zombie in Zed America infects someone with virulent HRV that converts the victim over the course of one hour into another zombie.
    • The bite of a vampire over three nights (in which it exchanges a bit of its own blood) ensures that the victim will rise as a vampire under the thrall of the one that killed it.
  • Waddling Head: Gnathostomes have no torso and resemble a large head set upon a pair of legs.
  • Walking Wasteland: Anyone who spends too much time in Mister Genocide's presence becomes ill, even if he isn’t actively using his power.
  • War Elephants: The scarbacks of Mesozoica sometimes ride mammoths when they hunt.
  • Warrior Monk: A few monks of the Order of the Orb are battle-hardened warriors who seek peace after years of conflict. Thanks to the daily training regimen created by them, all the monks of the Orb are proficient in combat.
  • Was Once a Man:
    • Some planetovores were originally alien individuals who willingly sacrificed their mortality for power and potential in the Chaosphere.
    • Sometimes, the Gifted Ones of Atlantis use technomagic to transform their slaves into guards, beasts of burden, or other things.
    • The maladie de la machine is what the natives of Camelot Le Morte call the disease that converts a normal creature into a mécanisme, who often lose their minds and switch their loyalty to the command module, currently housed in the body of Queen Gwenhwyfar.
    • The Compilers in the Library of Seishin Shore can bind living creatures to create new books holding all the knowledge the creature possessed.
    • Gorgons were humans once. After they offended the gods with their vanity, they were transformed into hideous monsters.
    • The ghouls of Wuxia City were originally people who committed to the Darkness and willingly became supernatural entities.
    • Ratliff Mason was a H.P. Lovecraft scholar who plunged straight away into the fiction he'd spent so much of his life studying once he found out he was quickened. He should have paid closer heed to the regrets penned by almost all of Lovecraft's fictional characters, as he ended up becoming a deep one.
  • Weakened by the Light: A vampire is burned by sunlight and any source of strong UV light.
  • Weapon of Mass Destruction: The Dynamic League in the Borderlands of Sol made a deal for a quantity of antimatter normally impossible to gather in a Standard Physics recursion. Now the Dynamic League holds the balance of power, if they're willing to use their doomsday weapon; or they might simply be trying to build engines with beamed core antimatter technology that would give them easy access to Sol's outer system and all the riches in the Oort cloud.
  • Weather Manipulation:
    • Calandria claims to be the Priest of Storms, and for a price, she will either quell a storm raging somewhere else in Ardeyn, or start one.
    • In addition to its brute strength, the naga imprisoned in the Temple of Time in Mesozoica has power over the weather.
    • Ariel can call up a tempest on the sea to draw mariners to wreck upon Sycorax Island.
  • Weird Currency:
    • Halloween currency is counted in individual pieces of wrapped hard candy.
    • Bullets are used as currency in Cannibal Wasteland.
  • Wendigo: Cannibals in the Thunder Plains suffer a terrible curse that strips them of their humanity, turns them into monsters with an appetite for human flesh and causes them to hibernate in the hinterlands until the winter, when they become wendigos and prowl the darkest hours in search of human prey.
  • The Western: The recursion Silverwood is a town in the American Old West, in the last half of the nineteenth century. Silverwood sees its share of bandits, Marshals, Native Americans and cowboys who'd be right at home in a western. As described by one Estate operative, Silverwood is where westerns go to die. A recursor might visit it to experience romantic notions of the American West; however, he had better be quick on the draw.
  • Wetware CPU:
    • Each crucible is a living supercomputer where polymers and alloys seamlessly fuse with flesh and blood.
    • In Singularitan, both electronic and flesh avatars run a distributed intelligence that calls itself Singularitar. The wetware in a sentient creature's mind is just large enough to hold and run an instance.
  • When Trees Attack:
    • Sapient trees look like normal trees until they reveal their true nature, with faces and limblike branches. With effort, they can uproot themselves and walk about, but usually only when no one is looking. Although the fighting trees in Quadling Country of Oz are among the most well known, many Magic recursions have intelligent trees.
    • The veridials of Ardeyn are intelligent, animate trees with several massive, rootlike legs and two nasty claw-branches. Veridials spend most of their time asleep and indistinguishable from normal trees. They appreciate the gentle sounds of nature, but any sound foreign to the forest or anything excessively loud will awake a very angry veridial.
  • Who Even Needs a Brain?: The brain of Microcosmica can never be found at all. This mythical organ, if it exists at all, would presumably be something like the god of Microcosmica.
  • Wicked Witch: Hazel Jenkins, the owner of the House on the Hill in Halloween, turns caught trick-or-treaters into slaves, food or test subjects, and fashions monstrous creatures. Some covens in the Forest Hills are also looking for fresh meat for their stew pot, as does the hungry, cannibalistic witch of Gingerbread House.
  • Winds of Destiny, Change: Calamity has the ability to affect probability in his own favour. He can't usually decide what's exactly going to happen; instead, he concentrates on the task at hand, and that's when his luck kicks in, which is probably bad luck for anyone attempting to stop him.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The heights of psychic ability are too much for some in Atom Nocturne to manage. Their minds collapse inward into evil knots where self-aggrandisement and personal gain push everything else aside, including any shred of moral behaviour. They are known as the Fallen.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Perks: The supervillainess Nightmare Chill seems most concerned with living the good life. She always says that if she scores big enough, she might retire her name and take up yachting.
  • Womb Level: Microcosmica is the interior of a human-sized living creature, but recursors who visit it are translated down to the size of bacteria.
  • World in the Sky: Mandala Zero is a collection of city skyscrapers and smaller buildings, each floating on a separate mote of crumbling earth that holds the building's framing. The buildings float through an apparent starry void.
  • The Worm That Walks: A collective is a mass of psionic grubs worming through a slush of salty ooze. Individually the grubs are harmless vermin, but together they're a sentient entity, a single psionic mind.
  • Wretched Hive:
    • The Citadel of the Harrowing is surrounded by a shambling city of bandits, raiders, ruffians, slavers, glass pirates and worse. Without the rule of law to tame the passions of the residents, the Citadel is a dangerous place to live.
    • Shome is a lawless city of dangerous criminals and mercenaries. Its black markets make all manner of rare and obscure goods available, particularly those that the major factions of Ruk don’t want to be available.
    • Shome criminal organisations thrive in the Shadowed City, offering various illegal items, favours and other services that most citizens of Harmonious would rather know nothing about.
    • The hidden spaceport of Haranbar in the jungle planet of Aranolis in Rebel Galaxy is a hideout for smugglers and criminals looking to lay low from the eye of the Grand Imperium. Press gangs, pickpockets and bandits are common, and smart travellers watch their back at all times.
  • You Killed My Father: The father of Maria Simons, a Defense Grey Investigation Service agent in New York Grey, was once abducted by the greys before they publicly revealed their presence to the world. He never recovered from the experience and eventually took his own life. As a result, Maria can be a bit quick with a pistol when investigating secret grey activities.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It: The heads of a hydra's victims with useful bits of knowledge or skill are incorporated onto a hydra.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: In New York Grey, radical group of humans calling themselves the Green Hills Society believes they must rise up and eject the greys from Earth, the sooner the better, and no matter the cost. This ideology makes them terrorists, though many human sympathisers secretly agree.
  • Zombie Apocalypse:
    • Zed America is one of several recursions that hosted a zombie apocalypse. Most of America now belongs to the shambling hordes of the undead, except for the rare high-security fortress enclaves and lonely keeps where the American way of life continues.
    • A zombie outbreak struck Castle One some time in the past, leading to the abandonment of the recursion. In the aftermath, Castle One remains a sealed, zombie-infested place.

Top