Impractical Applications (A Low-Impact Sampler)

Yesterday, I talked about low-impact details, like clothing or choice of drink. As I mentioned then, the problem with a low-impact detail is that it is often inherently nonconstrained, making life very difficult for the kinds of people who require the seed of an idea in order to really start figuring things out. And my game, having a lot of characters, has pretty much required a lot of low-impact details. What are they, and how did I get to them?

Lysha, God of Prophecy, has something of a fondness for palmier (a variety of pastry), to the point where it handing one of the PCs one of those, rather than something else in the office pastry assortment, was a sign of immense gratitude. Whence the choice in food? Just take a look at the things; they seemed to fit Lysha’s generally tangled nature, and beat out funnel cake by being somewhat less perishable and far less messy.

Ruby has the sweet tooth to end all sweet teeth, though I’ve never been quite sure whether that’s because she acts like she’s on a perpetual sugar-high anyway or as a result of Luath’s first attempt to get her attention being pastries. She is, either way, exceedingly partial to rock candy.

Yehudit’s familiar is a tarantula. I actually know very little about Yehudit, and next to nothing about her familiar; the detail came to me when I was trying to illustrate the malnutrition of a thrown-together side character, and I used pointing that out as a caveat to the observation that the PC in that scene had seen spiders with thicker legs relative to their height. (That’s the main reason this is a minor detail; had Yehudit and her yet-unnamed familiar been active characters at the time, it would have been a lot more important.)

Shining Waters once brought a rubber chicken to one of her trysts. While my original choice of implement was mostly for additional humor value, I’m still not entirely sure why a rubber chicken.

Along with her academic pursuits and an interest in codebreaking, Kiara’s fond of a throwing game involving darts and hoops. I got it from the fact that she’s a natural at chucking short-range projectiles, though I have yet to understand why the game in question is one that was created so far from her original home.

Kestrel may not be as good a cook as Luath, but she makes a pretty decent stir-fry. (I think this might have to do with the fact that chopping things up comes extremely naturally to her.)

Spirit-in-weapon Lisbet (the sole resident of her younger sister’s bonegraft arm-blade), often calls said sister “Piglet” when nobody’s listening (and once when someone was and she was a bit annoyed). This was a result of my knowing that Lisbet would be fond of embarrassing nicknames, as it was established as such in another game, and that her sister’s title could be seen as a synonym for piglet.

Two little demon-bugs once got one PC’s attention by keening in 12:8 time while their peers were in 5:4. The PC’d asked me for something that set them apart, and I was feeling musical that afternoon. Had it been a gamelan night, I might have had them in selendro and their peers in pelog, or more subtly them in a pentatonic scale and their peers in some form of minor key.

In most of these cases, the detail came because I just needed something mundane yet quirky (it’s happened a lot, particularly when dealing with people cooking). Some were entirely optional, the detail created just because it would allow me to improve an existing description or draw attention away from something that did matter (Yehudit’s tarantula and Shining Waters’ rubber chicken, respectively). In some cases, like Lysha or Lisbet, symbolism came into play; others, like Kestrel’s stir-fry and Lysha’s palmier, drew from my experiences with food.

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