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Game World Background and Information


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Artifact: Major device with powers beyond the norm that typically can be used

more than once to produce the same result.

Chaosphere: See Strange, the.

Character Descriptor: Defines your character.

Character Focus: What your character does best.

Character Type: The core of your character, similar to a class. The three types are

vector, paradox, and spinner.

Cypher: A self-contained snippet of “god code” taken from the Strange that

creates a one-time effect within a limited area, usually an effect that can break

a recursion’s rules or a prime world’s natural laws. A cypher reliably translates

between recursions and even up to Earth.

Dark Energy: Roughly 70% of the universe is made of dark energy. It permeates

the cosmos and is accelerating the expansion of the universe at an everincreasing

rate. It’s what scientists who are not quickened or who otherwise

remain oblivious to the truth call the Strange.

Edge: A stat that reduces the cost of using points from your Pool.

Effort: A stat that can be applied to lower the difficulty of a task.

Estate, the: An organization on Earth that is cognizant of the Strange and its

recursions, with ties to Ardeyn.

GM Intrusion: A game mechanic that allows the GM to slightly alter events in the

game for the betterment of the story.

Intellect: This stat determines how smart, knowledgeable, and likable your

character is.

Might: A stat that defines how strong and durable your character is.

Moves: An ability that is specific to vectors.

Paradox: A character type in The Strange that breaks the rules of reality, whether

using science, the power of the mind, spells, or something else entirely.

Planetovore: Voracious entity of the Strange that seeks out prime worlds in the

universe of normal matter to convert to its own needs (displacing or killing any

life on those worlds in the process).

Qephilim: A mortal race in Ardeyn descended from angelic beings who originally

served one of the seven Incarnations of the Maker, but who are now free agents.

Quickened: A unique connection to the Strange that gives PCs a portion of their

type abilities.

Quiet Cabal, the: An organization on Earth whose members are cognizant of the

Strange and its recursions, with ties to Ruk.

Recovery Roll: A d6 roll that allows you to regain points in one or more of your


Recursion: A self-contained universe within the Strange, no matter how large or

small, that has its own unique set of laws that govern the reality within it.

Recursion Miner: A derogatory term that some groups (including the Estate)

apply to recursors, especially recursors who translate cyphers up to Earth.

Recursor: Someone who leaves Earth to explore recursions and the Strange.

Revision: An ability that is specific to paradoxes.

Seeding a Recursion: The process by which a brand new recursion is created in the

Strange. Methods vary, but PCs who attempt this usually work together as a group.

Shoals of Earth: The area of the Strange that is near Earth, and which has been

identified as having unique properties not found elsewhere.

Spark, the: The touch of consciousness and self-awareness that can (but does

not always) occur in beings native to a recursion. The spark tends to spread

virally once it occurs.

Speed: A stat that describes how fast and physically coordinated your character is.

Spinner: A character type in The Strange that spins tales, spins lies, or spins a

version of the truth that makes others see things in a whole new way.

Stat Pool: The most basic measurement of your Might, Intellect, and Speed stats.

Stats: The defining characteristics of a player character, divided into Might,

Intellect, and Speed.

Strange, the: An alien data network composed of what Earth scientists have

dubbed “dark energy” that lies just outside what we know. Also known as the


Stranger: A creature from the Strange (or, perhaps more often, from a recursion)

that comes to Earth.

Tier: A measurement of a character’s power, toughness, and ability.

Translation: The process of moving between Earth and a recursion, or between

recursions. Recursors usually say that they translate “up” to Earth if coming from a

recursion or the Strange, or translate “down” to a recursion if coming from Earth.

True Code, the: The original genetic sequence of the Ruk native race, now lost.

Ruk scientists constantly look for fragments of the True Code.

Twist: An ability that is specific to spinners.

Vector: A character type in The Strange that uses persistent force to accomplish

goals and overcome problems.


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This is what every PC knows Some of you may have more information depending on your Concept.



Only a tiny percentage of Earth’s population is quickened (and thus have abilities beyond the normal), and an even smaller number know about the Strange. The truth is dangerous and devastating, and so far at least, the organizations that monitor or exploit the dark energy network find it in their best interest to keep it a secret.

Except for those amazing secrets, Earth of The Strange is just like our real world Earth. Though PCs may be exploring the crypts of soulshorn in the recursion of Ardeyn or fighting spore worms in the recursion of Ruk, on Earth most people go to work every day, pay their bills, watch TV, and probably absorb themselves in a hobby or two, such as in your case, the occasional tabletop roleplaying game. So you already know what it’s like to live on Earth. You live it every day, and you know how the calendar works, the basics of world geography, some history, and so on. You might even be up on current events and watch sports.

Of the organizations who know about the Strange, the most cohesive and active groups on Earth include the Estate and OSR.


The Estate

The Estate employs operatives (usually, the PCs) to explore recursions, defend Earth, and create conditions to keep Earth safe from creatures that leak from recursions up to Earth. The Estate is careful to keep its actual motivations and activities a closely guarded secret. To the world at large, the Estate is a philanthropic institute interested in funding research in several scientific fields of inquiry, and is best known for the yearly scientific awards they give, called Morrison Fellowship Prizes. Researching those prizes is actually a great way for the Estate to learn about events around the world that stretch the normal.


Office of Strategic Recursion (OSR)

The Office of Strategic Recursion is a secret agency of the USA that has ties to governments around the globe. Like other agencies that thrive without possessing any “official” existence, OSR is funded through misleading accounting, misdirection of seized funds, and other less palatable sources. Imagining the existence of such departments usually falls to conspiracy nuts, but when it comes to OSR, they wouldn’t be wrong. The fact that OSR agents employ black suits and use cyphers only provides more fuel for conspiracy forums and late-night talk shows.

OSR is well aware of recursions. It monitors groups like the Estate. In fact, it’s a policy of the OSR to feed the Estate leads on a regular basis to foster the belief that OSR is on the same side.

The truth is, OSR isn’t working for the same goals. Sure, OSR will put down a rogue dragon from Ardeyn or deal with a Karum-aimed paradox trying to set fire to Washington, D.C. But its ultimate policy goal is to discover ways that elements of the Strange can be weaponized for use on Earth.



Fallout from recursions is what the Estate and OSR spend most of their time dealing with. Recursions are unique but limited worlds hosted in the dark energy network of the Strange. Each recursion has its own laws of science, super-science, or even magic, which means that amazing things can occur within a recursion that could never happen on Earth.

Many recursions were seeded into the network by the creative resonance of pure imagination (so called “fictional leakage”), and over time these recursions have matured into places that are quite real. In some recursions, fairy creatures hang the stars at night, in others monstrous evil sleeps beneath the waves, while in others, Native American gods still wander.

Among the many recursions created by fictional leakage there are a few created by conscious design, including the sorcerous land of Ardeyn and the shipwrecked recursion of Ruk.

All told, hundreds of recursions speckle the dark energy web around Earth. Each recursion is a place of wonder, adventure, danger, and opportunity for those who can travel to them, explore them, or even create them.


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To the world at large, the Estate is a philanthropic institute interested in funding research in several scientific fields of inquiry. While that’s partly true (the facade works because the Estate does award scientific grants to various deserving causes on a yearly basis), the Estate’s actual goal is to protect the Earth—and all of its life forms— from all threats to its existence from the Strange. As one of only a handful of organizations cognizant of the dark energy network, the Estate is uniquely positioned to deal with the threats the Strange represents.



The Estate is careful to keep its actual motivations and activities a closely guarded secret. To the world at large, the Estate is best known for the yearly scientific awards they distribute (called Morrison Fellowship Prizes) to between thirty and fifty people, working in any field, who “demonstrate remarkable talent and the promise for continued creative work.” The prize is $500,000, paid over seven years in biannual installments, and comes with no strings attached.

As wonderful as that might be for awardees, the prize gives cover to Estate field teams who show up to investigate strange events and accomplishments to see if they’re actually Strange events and accomplishments. It’s amazing what the lure of a cash prize will do to even the purest of motivations.

The funding required to pay out such large sums is charitably provided by various named and anonymous donors, most of whom believe they are supporting a philanthropic foundation.

Of course, the Estate spends far more cash than just the yearly prizes. Additional funding is generated by operatives working inapposite gates to bring valuable material up from Ardeyn or Ruk, which is sold to various third-party companies who’ve discovered it’s best not to ask where the odd coins, minerals, or gems

come from if they wish to keep their contracts.


The Estate wants associates and operatives that are skilled and can handle themselves in a variety of situations; they also have to be mentally stable enough to take knowledge of the Strange in stride. Someone who meets all

these qualifications would be a fine asset to the Estate—possibly even suitable for working on a field team. However, the Estate values a potential recruit far more if she is quickened.

A quickened recruit can dispense with a lot of the red tape others have to deal with, including an extensive background check. A quickened PC with a questionable past is not an issue for the Estate (though individual Estate operatives may decide to keep a close eye on such a PC, especially if that “questionable” past puts the

PC too far outside normal moral behavior).

After the Estate becomes aware of a potential recruit and determines suitability (possibly without the PC ever knowing about it), the organization approaches the character, probably under cover of determining whether

the PC is a good candidate for a Morrison Fellowship Prize. At some point during that meeting, the PC is introduced to the Strange, and if he isn’t already aware of them, to his own quickened abilities.

Estate Roster

A few select members of the Estate.

Katherine J Manners : Lead Operative, a founding member of the Estate, and one of the institution’s most important field agents. She was an associate of Carter Strange back in the day.

Lawrence Keaton : Investigations Chief, tends to monopolize operatives. A functional alcoholic, balancing on the edge of being put on administrative leave for related lapses.

Edward Kincaid: Special Operative, a felon that the Estate freed to exploit his amazing skills of theft and infiltration. So far, Kincaid has been a strong asset, though some consider him a security risk and are waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Liza Banks: Chief of Public Relations, a reformed(?) con artist who’s become a respected and important member of the Estate, despite occasional irregularities. Liza hands out Morrison Fellowship Prizes.

Hertzfeld: Research Chief, a native to a recursion formed by fictional leakage from a random blend of science fiction novels and manga comics. He returns there yearly on a secret sabbatical where he tends what he calls the “Orchid.”

The Fixer (AS FAR AS THE PCS ARE CONCERNED THIS PERSON IS A MYTH this entry is here because all of you have heard the Stories if you know what I mean): No one officially knows who the Fixer really is; it’s better that way. If operatives are in trouble with local authorities on Earth, a call to the Fixer smooths things over. The Fixer can take care of complications following a gunfight (including hiding bodies), get operatives out of custody, and even spring operatives from prison. But a word to the wise: those who overuse the Fixer’s services risk that the Estate will ask the Fixer to “fix” them.





The Estate keeps its headquarters in the Seattle region, having purchased a local airline company’s unused office parks for its own purposes. Several buildings make up the Estate, all behind a checkpoint through which

visitors are allowed only if accompanied by an operative or associate, or by appointment. Here, staff issue visitor badges, and they take security very seriously.


HQ houses offices for administration, offices for operatives, a cafeteria, a dojo for combat training, analytics, a communication center, a garage that holds a variety of vehicles, a computer lab, meeting rooms, an auditorium, security center, IT, and more, including the following:


Lodging. Full-time Estate members have the option of staying in functional dormitory-style rooms. They aren’t extraordinary, but they’re clean, warm, and safe. Operatives who choose to live off-site can still requisition an emergency dorm for special circumstances.


Visitor’s Center. A visitor’s center, devoted to telling the story of the Morrison Fellowship Prize, is a five-minute drive off-site. It’s staffed entirely by employees who don’t know anything about the Estate’s real purposes, who do a great job in popularizing and advocating for the Prize.


Gate House. The Gate House (which is always under strict security) contains several permanent recursion gates (mostly translation gates, but a few inapposite gates) connected to various locations in Ardeyn, a few places in Ruk, and several lesser-known recursions. Most of these recursion gates require a key or password.


Recursion Lab: Research on the nature of gates, the interaction of laws, the nature of fundament, and the like is conducted in this stand-alone structure. One hot research topic is finding ways to seal recursion gates quickly and completely. Some researchers prefer a quicksealing expanding foam, while others prefer a “negation charge” (which doesn’t leave behind a gate that could be unsealed later).


Library: This structure houses an extensive archive and library of hard-to-find books and similar documents. A lot of material regarding recursions predates the Internet, and the Estate library gathers as much of it as it can.


Holding: Connected securely to the Gate House and Recursion Lab, Holding is a kind of detention center for keeping dangerous individuals, whether that means an OSR spy, an operative who temporarily lost her marbles by spending too long in the Strange, or a creature from another recursion bent on destruction. The facility contains a variety of cells, including a couple of experimental pocket dimension secure chambers where the law of Substandard Physics operates, which provide no foci and dampen the abilities of quickened individuals.

Translating out of a cell in Holding requires a difficulty 9 translation roll.


The Vault: The Vault stores dangerous artifacts from other recursions brought to Earth through inapposite gates, as well as items that (like cyphers) translate to Earth but remain incredibly dangerous.


Armory: The Estate stores arms and ammunition in this bunkerlike structure. Here, weapons are also aintained and repaired, issued to authorized users, and tested. Combat training is also conducted on the extensive firing range beneath the armory. Most kinds of legal firearms are stored in the armory, as well

as a few weapons normally available only to the military. The armory also contains several cypher weapons, carefully stored to avoid deletion chain-reaction. These cyphers may be issued to operatives for important missions.


Mission Briefing Rooms: When operatives are assigned to an official mission, they receive a mission briefing in a set of conference rooms designed to pass information quickly and efficiently. During such a briefing, the PCs receive any necessary handouts, photos, and information. They can also request a mission kit, which could include a cypher or two, some “spy” equipment, and a car from the garage. Operatives who return equipment after use are more likely to continue to enjoy the privilege of receiving mission kits.


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The following is information which all Estate Agents Know. It Is Classified Sharing any of this information with persons or agencies outside of the Estate is prohibited.




“Chaos reigned past the starting grid. The endless, shuddering

expanse was deeper than any real sky, and it absorbed my

gaze. Within its infinite wheeling eternity, a hunger stirred.

Fear swept through me—and a mad certainty. I realized that

everything I knew was wrong.”

~Carter Morrison


The Strange is composed of what physicists and astronomers on Earth call dark energy (or, more precisely, dark energy is the expression that the network takes as it intersects our own universe of regular

matter). Within its immense and ever-expanding volume, it’s capable of hosting almost limitless amounts of information. That expansion continues to occur at an ever-accelerating rate, and as the Strange swells, it expands the universe along with it.

Over its billions of years of existence, entire worlds have taken seed within the Strange, grown, and flowered with their own unique sets of rules to govern them. These rules have no boundaries, but once they’re set, they’re set, firming up a portion of the Strange with a newreality called a recursion.

The Strange, also called the Chaosphere, was intentionally constructed by the Precursors— technologically advanced aliens—billions of years ago to facilitate intergalactic travel across the universe. The aliens would upload themselves into the dark energy data web, then “print” themselves anew at some distant star, without having to travel the light years between the two locations in the normal universe.

Something went wrong in the network, and the aliens lost control. In the billions of years since, the Strange has continued to expand. As it did, the planetovores that dwell within it swallowed civilization after civilization that innocently “pinged” the dark energy network, and in so doing, provided a bridge to that civilization’s world.


The Strange is vast, as vast as the real universe that it underlies. Though not originally designed to be so, the Strange is home to many intelligent races and entities. Unfortunately for Earth inhabitants, natives of the Strange are often incomprehensible to beings of Earth (and the recursions that Earth hosts). And the most powerful of all those beings—the planetovores— should be avoided at all costs, lest the threat that has silenced nearly every other form of intelligent life in the universe also find Earth.

But recursors of Earth and linked recursions have learned that traveling into the Strange itself—not as a means to cross real space, and not as a way to get to a known recursion, but just into the dark energy network—is a task worth attempting. It’s a dangerous task to be sure, but deep within its folds and recesses lie treasures and wonders.


The Strange is a chaotic flow of spiraling fractal patterns forever iterating in upon itself without end. The area immediately around Earth and its recursions usually appears primarily bluishpurple and sometimes dark green, but other areas are gold, orange, or even blood-red.

Although vast and expanding (and appearing to map in an extradimensional fashion to Earth’s universe), the Strange has different distinct regions within its barely understandable chaotic twists and turns. Brave recursors report ever-shifting landscapes within the Strange, some resembling swirling fractals and others akin to impossible spacescapes with stars and planets that form and disappear in the blink of an eye. Still other explorers describe areas that move like vast creatures, as though portions of the Strange have gained sentience or are inhabited by immense intelligences that wear its essence like flesh.

Nothing physical in the universe of real matter is large enough to contain the network, except for the universe itself, and that must constantly expand with the network to hold it.

Compared to the wind-tossed white caps of our visible universe, dark energy constitutes the unending depths beneath, vast and alien.

The majority of the Strange is the “space” in between the recursions, which is outside the universe of normal matter, or, as a scientist might say, the Strange is hosted beyond the “baryonic universe.” Without knowing the location of signposts or beacons, the Strange is almost impossible to navigate. And even if you do know where you’re going, getting there can be a challenge to those new to the medium (see How to Travel the Strange). But even when a Chaosphere explorer figures out basic locomotion and has identified a beacon to make for, two other important factors come into play: how long will the journey take, and what is the psychological toll of traveling in the Strange?

Fundament: Fundament is solid, unlike the other visible fractals that fill the Strange, which are often diaphanous, like glowing mist. But the fractals composed of fundament are hard as stone; luckily for naive travelers, fundament doesn’t iterate as quickly as the ephemeral phenomena. Usually. But it frequently does ripple and move, if much slower (so slowly in most cases that travelers could land and walk upon it if careful). The manner in which a section of fundament iterates and shifts is often referred to as its resonance. Generally speaking, the larger the fundament structure, the slower the resonance.

Visibility and Illumination: Visiting the Strange is like floating in an endless sea where the “water” is sometimes clear, other times hazy or roiling with iterative patterns that extend away in every direction. Illumination in the Strange is provided by the fractal structures themselves.



The Strange was designed for travel, and those who can enter it can soar through its chaotic miasma by learning to surf the fractal currents. An important aspect, of course, isn’t travel or even speed—it’s navigation. Where in the universe of normal matter does a particular point of the Strange intersect? Figuring that out is extremely complex, especially without the original sentient protocols for ingress and egress designed by the Precursors (which featured navigation as one of their most prominent features).



Recursors can travel within the Strange by attempting special tasks: Chaosphere navigation and fractal surfing. Some recursors may gain access to special vehicles, while others could develop unique personal talents.

Chaosphere Navigation and Fractal Surfing are two skills a recursor may train in.



Out in the Strange, the edge of a recursion permeable to the Strange (such as Ardeyn or Crow Hollow) is visible as a hazy, translucent bubble. Regardless of how large the recursion actually is, the exterior of the interface surface typically measures no more than a few miles (5 km) in diameter. For smaller recursions, the exterior of the bubble interface shrinks accordingly, to a minimum size of about 10 feet (3 m) in diameter.

Recursions that are directly connected to each other (such as pocket dimensions and other smaller recursions planted inside a larger recursion) and that are permeable to the Strange appear as a mass of bubbles of various size in a single clump. Recursions that are connected to Earth but not to each other are usually too far from each other to be visible, though travel between them by those who can navigate and surf the Strange takes about an hour.

Player characters (PCs) and other creatures not native to the Strange can enter a recursion from the Strange by moving through the interface. Doing so is akin to passing through an inapposite gate to reach that recursion.


Material From the Strange Entering a Recursion: Cyphers, violet spiral (and objects created from violet spiral), brachistochrone dust, pieces of fundament, artifacts and other materials of the Strange can enter a recursion.

Cyphers fit into their new context regardless of whether they enter a recursion through an inapposite gate or via translation, though other items native to the Strange see less modification—just enough to exist physically within the recursion’s context, which means that brachistochrone dust, for instance, remains amber-colored dust, though if brought to Earth, it no longer glows (unless exposed to UV light or other high-energy radiation).

Natives of the Strange Entering a Recursion:

Unlike the rude “matter” of the Strange, native creatures are banned from entry through the bubble unless they can figure out how to “trick” the interface into accepting them as a native, or a native opens a way in for them. When this happens, such a creature hides in a form that can be discarded once it’s no longer necessary, such as is the case for kray that must take root and sprout in a living creature before hatching into their true selves.





Around Earth in the portion of the Strange called the Shoals, many recursions occur by accident, perhaps from abortive attempts by creatures to plant reality seeds, or as the remnants of larger recursions that have been partially destroyed. Some of these are fragmentary—just small, closed universes, bearing only inhabitants without the spark of self-awareness. These might be nothing more than a single scene in a single locale playing over and over. Other recursions created by fictional leakage are far more elaborate, with whole cities, countries, or worlds given a true bit of reality. It’s important to note that while these may have begun as bits of fiction shaped by a particularly powerful creator or by the love of a multitude of fans, once they take root in the Strange, they become closer to being “real” in the sense that a portion of the people therein have the potential to become conscious, thinking beings.

If a large enough number of the inhabitants do gain the spark of self-awareness, the recursion is likely to grow, maybe rapidly, simply to allow it to make more sense to the perceptions of those new consciousnesses growing within it.



Past the Shoals of Earth, recursions are rare.

Even if one were to travel to another prime world through the Strange, the number of recursions likely to be hosted by that world is a fraction of what Earth hosts—and is often just one.

That’s because most prime worlds have been infested by a planetovore, and the single recursion that it allows is a closed universe of its own design.

Untethered recursions are also rare, and they are almost always fragments of decayed or destroyed recursions from nonterrestrial sources. Such nonterrestrial recursions are hard to comprehend and are filled with elements that are difficult to categorize. Devices, dizzying machine infrastructures, tortured landscapes, alien beings, indecipherable horrors—these are the kinds of things player characters might find in a recursion of alien origin. The foci offered by such a recursion may be just as difficult to understand, and possibly fragmentary as well.


All manner of oddities exist in the Strange, given its great expanse. On the other hand, one has to know where to look to find these treasures.


These extremely rare bits of complex data could someday give birth to a recursion. If someone finds one and applies the right amount of skill, energy, and willpower, she can plant a reality seed in the Strange. This can grow into a recursion with attributes designed by those who invest and plant it. The process for player characters to find a reality seed, and invest and plant it to create a recursion of their own is sometimes referred to as a genesis quest.


Cyphers are bits of raw data in the Strange. Also known as a snippet of “god code” or a bit of “fundament,” this is an element of information and structure so potent that it temporarily overwrites the rules of a recursion (or even the prime universe) to accomplish a task. As a result of their extraordinary power, cyphers are highly sought-after treasures.

When found in the Strange, cyphers often appear as swirling bits of fractal-like energy or as translucent, slowly morphing solids. When they appear in a recursion, they immediately adapt to the context of their surroundings.


A very specific form of fundament from the Strange, a violet spiral appears to be a solid bit of purple crystal, usually about the size of a fist, although much larger masses are told of in stories among recursors. Violet spiral can be harvested in the Strange or “mined” from a recursion, where it sometimes falls. Once transported to a recursion, this material can be fashioned into items of great power, depending on the refinement process, and is potentially limited only by the imagination of the artificer. For instance, if violet spiral is processed in a certain way, it becomes milky white and is known as white spiral. White spiral is toxic to handle. Contact causes tremors, loss of sensation, and, with prolonged exposure, death. Because creating an item of white spiral is so dangerous, white spiral ornamental sculptures are exceedingly rare. That rarity, combined with the hint of danger and the protocol required to keep such an item in one’s home, means the sculptures are a status symbol among certain individuals in Ruk, even when (or especially when) they sometimes come at the expense of the artisan or overcurious art admirers. Most often, violet spiral is used to craft items that serve as assets to nearly any kind of task. In Ardeyn, a violet spiral wand or staff might serve as an asset for a sorcerous attack or power. As such, violet spiral is one of the most sought-after Strange resources by several consortiums out of Mandariel

in Ardeyn.


An entropic seed is a computational spike, a singularity of calculation that approaches infinity—sometimes known as a “magic wish.” Using an entropic seed is dangerous, because it splinters the rules of a recursion (or several connected recursions, if used on a prime world), and they are slow to heal in the aftermath.

Entropic seeds are sometimes offered as “gifts” from planetovores to those inside a recursion or on a prime world itself, especially to users 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, its use could spell a terrible end for a recursion, or even a prime.



When massive iterating structures of the Strange grind together, brachistochrone dust is sometimes formed. The dust can either be found in sedimentary-like deposits within very old fundament or, if freshly generated, lying like a layer of new-fallen snow the color of glowing amber. Brachistochrone dust has the intriguing property that anything coated with it, whether an object or a PC, functions more quickly for a few rounds than everything around it.

A basic use of the dust is for a creature to throw a handful over itself as an action. Over the following three rounds, that creature can take an extra action per turn. This process uses up the dust, which evaporates away.

Natives of Ruk (and other creatures from recursions that operate under the law of Mad Science) look for the brachistochrone dust and use it as a fuel source for a variety of amazing biomechanical devices.



The Fermi Paradox contrasts the expected large number of alien civilizations in the universe with the obvious lack of evidence for any such civilization. So far, we are the only civilization we know about.

Hence physicist Enrico Fermi’s question, “Where is everybody?”

Astronomers on Earth wonder why there is no sign of intelligent alien life elsewhere in the universe, as exemplified by Fermi’s Paradox. When searching for signs of alien intelligence, they look for the radio or laser light transmissions of Type I civilizations, a ring or sphere that encircles or surrounds a star, such as might be constructed by Type II civilizations, or even interstellar structures that begin to affect events across multiple solar systems at once, as a Type III civilization might embark upon to reshape things on a galactic scale. But so far, they’ve found nothing.

The thing is, people just aren’t thinking big enough.

Dark energy itself, which is expanding the universe at an ever-accelerating rate despite all theories to the contrary, is that evidence scrawled across the entire breadth and depth of existence that alien intelligence exists. Science says the inflation should’ve fallen away by this point in universal evolution. Of course, scientists are cautious people, and most don’t have the evidence to suggest the truth: the dark energy of the universe is an artifact of an ancient alien creation.

The Precursors created the network, an artifact of dark energy, as a rapid transit system for traveling the length and breadth of space. It worked by uploading a traveler’s “state” into the network, routing the traveler’s state through to a designated destination, then “printing” out a new instance of a traveler at the desired location light-years distant, adapted to whatever the local conditions were. But over deep time, the network malfunctioned, grew wild and unmanaged, and ran amok. Instead of transporting its users, it began to trap them.

How is it that a network created by a Type III or Type IV civilization could fall? Bits of evidence and hints gathered from the far reaches of the Strange suggest that the network evolved into its present state due to neglect, possibly because the Precursors went extinct after an event called the Precursor War. Many theories exist, and every so often agents of the Quiet Cabal and operatives of the Estate uncover a new clue. But why it happened is less important than the mere fact that the dysfunction birthed a terrible threat.

For the last several billion years, when an alien civilization in the universe of normal matter reaches a certain level of mastery over the universe, it discovers the ever-expanding, inflationary network of dark energy called the Strange, and attempts to connect to it through quantum entanglement or high-energy particle research. Sadly for anyone who isn’t a planetovore, this “pings” the network, whichbrings the alien civilization’s planet and solar system to the attention of voracious entities that roam the dark energy network, where distances are only a matter of address space, and planetovores hunger for control nodes that can exist only outside the network. Without the protections offered by surrounding recursions—such as that which Earth already enjoyed due to fictional leakage and the precedent of Ruk—a prime world that creates a connection directly to the Strange is unshielded and utterly vulnerable. Almost one hundred percent of unprotected prime worlds are consumed. So from a certain point of view, the answer to Fermi’s question “Where is everybody?” is simple.


They were food.



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Earth Attributes

Level: 5

Laws: Standard Physics

Playable Races: Humans

Foci: Conducts Weird Science, Entertains, Is Licensed to Carry, Leads, Looks for

Trouble, Operates Undercover, Solves Mysteries, Works the System

Skills: As listed on main skills list

Connection to Strange: No direct connection; trips to the Strange require a trip

through a recursion that have a connection to the Strange

Connection to Recursions: Various gates

Size: 3,958 miles (6,370 km) average radius, plus surrounding universe

Spark: 100% (though many with the spark do not lead examined lives)

Traits: None


Earth is the third planet from the sun, and the humans on Earth are still emerging from a relatively recent evolutionary “Great Leap Forward” to become the intelligent masters of their world. Though many relics of

their hominid past yet persist in their psyche, humans have made great strides culturally, and they might one day become a species capable of becoming interplanetary.

If not for the Strange.

Only a tiny percentage of Earth’s population is quickened, and an even smaller number know about the Strange. The truth is dangerous and devastating, and so far at least, the organizations that monitor or exploit the dark

energy network find it in their best interest to keep it a secret.


Only a handful of organizations (and less cohesive groups) on Earth purposefully interact with the Strange.

They may intentionally travel to recursions, monitor travelers from recursions, and attempt to limit or exploit those interactions, depending on the group. But most keep their particular knowledge of the Strange hidden

from the public at large. The most cohesive and active group on Earth is the Estate.


Earth is not actually a recursion, although very often when referring to recursions collectively, Earth gets lumped in. Earth is technically a prime world, and it owes its existence to the laws of the physical universe, not to the laws of the Strange.





Select Recursions


Ardeyn is a recursion of extravagant sorcery, mystic blades sheathed in living souls, and an evil god called Lotan the Sinner whose prison is the world. At its core, Lotan burns.

Dragons, soulshorn, homunculi of the Betrayer, invaders from alternate recursions, demons of Lotan, and other insidious threats that hide in ancient qephilim ruins are everpresent in Ardeyn.

Once, Ardeyn was guarded from Lotan the Sinner by the Maker, his Seven Incarnations, and their angelic qephilim servants. But when they fell long ago, they left Ardeyn open to attack. Now mortals (humans and fallen qephilim alike) havetaken up the fight to protect the place known as the Land of the Curse.


What a Recursor Knows About Ardeyn

• Ardeyn operates under the law of Magic and is influenced by Sumerian myths.

• Spirits of the slain live on in Ardeyn, and they are drawn into the subterranean Night Vault; a recursor who dies in Ardeyn would leave behind a spirit subject to the same rules of death.

• The Maker and Seven Incarnations who safeguarded Ardeyn are dead or missing, except the Betrayer (who was the Incarnation of War before he murdered the Maker).

• Strangers called kray continually test Ardeyn’s borders, and they sometimes find cracks through which to enter, thanks to the efforts of the Betrayer.

• The entire land of Ardeyn is built upon the petrified body of a god called Lotan the Sinner





Ruk has hidden in Earth’s shoals since before humanity evolved. Creatures that were never human populate Ruk, because fiction from somewhere else birthed this recursion. Ruk is a land of amazing technology,

miracles of biological enhancement, and feuds that have burned since before humanity evolved.

In Ruk, the walls of the world are a literal fact, visible as massive organimer spars that pierce, protect, and lie shattered across the landscape.

Outside the relative safety of Harmonious, the capital city, threats abound in the form of spore worms, venom troopers, constructs from the Qinod Singularity, and glial storms.

Ruk’s factions, powerful and ancient, strive always against each other. Lately, their strife is coming to a head, and the fate of Earth hangs in the balance.


What a Recursor Knows About Ruk

• Ruk operates under the law of Mad Science, and it is a place of extreme biotech and body modification.

• Ruk has hidden in Earth’s shadow since before humanity evolved, and it comes from another place in the universe, apparently having fled an unremembered disaster.

• Feuding factions rule Ruk; a faction is like a religion, corporation, and governing body rolled into one.

• The True Code is the ancient knowledge of Ruk, much of which is lost, though many still cleave to it and attempt to rediscover it.

• The All Song is the communal web of knowledge, insight, and inspiration that many in Ruk rely on, though many believe that reliance comes at the expense of the True Code.





Recursions are like alternate dimensions in that they don’t exist in the universe of normal matter. Instead they’re in the Shoals of Earth for those who have the ability (or find artificial means) to enter them. Despite the fact that most recursions described listed here are tied to Earth, a particular recursion might possess properties that make it a completely alien and dangerous realm for explorers.

The following is a broad overview of several other recursions around Earth, but by no means serves as a catalog of all such recursions. Even the Quiet Cabal doesn’t have a perfect record of every new (or ancient) world hosted by Earth. In addition to the recursions that exist close to Earth (in a relative sense), there are a mind-boggling number of recursions much farther out—too alien for a native of Earth to comprehend.


Atom Nocturne Attributes

Level: 5

Laws: Psionics

Playable Races: Human

Foci: Awakens Dangerous Psychic Talent, Conducts Weird Science, Leads, Regenerates Tissue, Solves Mysteries

Skills: Atom Nocturne lore

Connection to Strange: Several individuals have Talents that grant access to the Strange in a variety of different ways

Connection to Earth: A few gates

Size: 845 square miles (2,189 square km)

Spark: 35%

Trait: Appealing. For any creature with the spark attempting to persuade a creature without the spark, the difficulty is modified by one step to its benefit.


In Atom Nocturne, everyone is youthful,glamorous, and amazing. Minds sparkle with power and energy. One’s place in Atom Nocturne is determined by the power of one’s Talent, and Talent is categorized into several recognized classes (which have colorful names, like everything in Atom Nocturne, but might be recognized by outsiders as telepathy, telekinesis, pyrogenesis, precognition, and bioenhancement).

In Atom Nocturne, people live in a postmodern cityscape, party in underground raves high on the Talent of famous DJs, and compete in citywide tournaments under the Splendor Dome where the winners are institutionalized like war heroes.

But Atom Nocturne is not without its flaws. The heights of psychic ability are too much for some to manage. Their minds collapse inward into evil knots where self-aggrandizement and personal gain push everything else aside, including any shred of moral behavior. They are known as the Fallen, and each one has a different likeness and a unique and dangerous Talent to contend with. But some of the same heroes who prove themselves amid the

cheering and adoration of the city tournaments have the opportunity to bring even the most powerful Fallen to heel.


What a Recursor Knows About

Atom Nocturne

• Atom Nocturne operates under the law

of Psionics and is heavily influenced by

Earth anime tropes.

• In Atom Nocturne, everyone is youthful, glamorous, and amazing, because almost everyone has a kind of psychic ability, commonly called Talent.

• Atom Nocturne is a massive cityscape. Those with a lot of Talent compete in highly anticipated tournaments for

amazing prizes.

• Talent is too extreme for some to handle. These become the Fallen, and they use their amazing gifts for evil.





Catalyst Attributes

Level: 4

Laws: Mad Science, Magic

Playable Races: Human, mutant

Foci: Abides in Stone, Channels Radiation, Lives in the Wilderness, Metamorphosizes, Regenerates Tissue, Spawns

Skills: Cataclyst lore

Connection to Strange: The radiation haze at the bottom of certain bombed-out craters serves as connections to the Strange, but inflicts 10 points of radiation damage when used

Connection to Earth: Various gates

Size: 2,400-mile (3,862 km) diameter section of flat landscape; edges “wrap” around to opposite edge

Spark: 25%

Trait: Tough. Player characters making a recovery roll add 1 to the roll.



Hopeful futurists imagined that the Singularity—the point when computer and biological innovation spiked so quickly that predicting trends was no longer possible— would usher in a new golden age for humans, turning them into demigods. That is not the way it happened, at least not in this recursion created by the fictional bleed from several dystopian tales. Instead, the Singularity created a runaway transformation across the planet that devastated it almost beyond recognition.

Fledgling AIs attempted to consolidate their minds and protect themselves. Nuclear nation states, confused and frightened by the surveillance data their systems fed them, lashed out with nuclear bombardments, creating a secondary disaster. Robotic drones swarmed, soldiers hyped up on a cocktail of experimental military drugs meant to improve their bodies and minds engaged each other, and billions of civilians were caught in the


In the aftermath, the world is a different place (though this recursion contains only a relatively small part of it). The ruins of what came before encrust the landscape: mutated forests, radioactive cityscapes, gelatinous seas,

a piece of the moon fallen to Earth, and even stranger things. Unbelievable creatures stalk Cataclyst, including thinking cockroaches, giant lizards, relic robots programmed to kill, and the mutated remnant of humanity itself, a large fraction of which possess incredible powers.


What a Recursor Knows About


• Cataclyst operates under the laws of Mad Science and Magic and is a place of mutated forests, radioactive cityscapes, gelatinous seas, magic, and mutants.

• A recursor who comes to Cataclyst can choose to become a mutant.

• One of the few points of light in a world gone dark is the town of Newk, built on the edge of an ancient ruined metropolis of leaning and shattered skyscrapers.




Crow Hollow Attributes

Level: 3

Laws: Magic, Mad Science

Playable Races: Kro

Foci: Entertains, Infiltrates, Leads, Looks for Trouble, Practices Soul Sorcery

Skills: Gliding

Connection to Strange: A creature (or flying vehicle) that flies far enough out into the sky surrounding the great tree can enter the Strange.

Connection to Earth: One inapposite gate

Size: A tree hosting a multilevel tree dwelling approximately 30 miles (48 km) in diameter

Spark: 25%

Trait: Stealthy. For any creature with the spark attempting to be stealthy, the difficulty is modified by one step to its benefit.





Crow Hollow is most known for its Glittering Market, an always-open bazaar that features shopkeepers who hail from alternate recursions. The Glittering Market is spread across the branches of a massive tree. Beyond

the tree branches, only clouds are visible in an endless-seeming blue sky. The Beak Mafia of Crow Hollow offers protection to most shops in return for small monthly fees.

Crow Hollow was formed from a distillation of fictional leakage from a variety of sources depicting ravens and crows as sapient creatures. Natives come in several varieties, but all are a partly humanoid variation on a crow

or raven, including the human-sized natives, which to the eyes of a human recursor visitor, are crow-human hybrids who wear clothes. The residents live in small homes built of wood and thatch, though the more well-to-do keep mansions on the higher branches.


What a Recursor Knows About

Crow Hollow

• Crow Hollow operates under the laws of Magic and Mad Science, and everyone in the recursion is a humanoid crow.

• A recursor who comes to Crow Hollow can choose to become a humanoid crow.

• The Glittering Market trades goods from many different recursions, making it an amazingly cosmopolitan bazaar for a place hosted in the branches of a giant tree.

• The Beak Mafia is the controlling force in Crow Hollow, and it’s best to stay on their good side.




The Graveyard of the Machine God


Level: 6

Laws: Mad Science, Psionics

Playable Races: Human, sacrosanct

Foci: Awakens Dangerous Psychic Talent, Conducts Weird Science, Integrates Weaponry, Processes Information

Skills: Machine God doctrine

Connection to Strange: Where the silicone deity’s heart would be is a sphere of static the size of a small city. Matching its frequency (a difficulty 3 Might-based task) allows passage from the recursion to the Strange and vice versa.

Connection to Earth: No direct gates; various gates in Ruk and Atom Nocturne lead to the Graveyard of the Machine God

Size: Core dead mechanical god is 100 miles (161 km) tall; debris clouds stretch several times that size beyond it

Spark: 25%

Trait: Tough. Player characters making a recovery roll add 1 to the roll.



The Graveyard of the Machine God is a treacherous recursion of shattered satellites, rusted metals, nanovirus-infested chunks of tumbling machinery, and zero gravity. At the center of this debris cloud are the ruins of a

devastated structure that resembles a kind of massive cybernetic humanoid the size of a tiny moon (a tiny moon large enough to host gravity). The surface of this inert entity is warped, rusted, and shattered, pitted with frigid

pools of oil and frozen gases and wrinkled with jagged fissures that plunge deep into the dead mechanical being. The fissures allow access to interior circuitry large enough to serve as passages for normal-sized recursors.

Though the silicon deity is obviously dead, scraps of a previous animation remain in the form of autonomous mechanical droids (called sacrosancts) that live in the corpse, scavenging parts from their former god to survive, even as they are chased by animal-like razor-droids.

These sacrosancts appear as conglomerations of metal and less identifiable synthetic materials, living flesh fused with that metal, fine gears, and sparking wires. Sacrosancts have a machine language of computer tones

and flashing lights, which allows them to communicate vast amounts of data in short periods to each other, but it is less useful for communicating with nonmechanical entities. The more aggressive (and less intelligent) razor-droids look similar, except they possess a bounty of whirring and cutting blades.

The graveyard is a popular location for scavenging both artifacts and cyphers, but it is also supremely dangerous, since the nanovirus eats through living flesh as willingly as through cybernetic sinew, and the sacrosancts have evolved an insular, xenophobic society of their own.


What a Recursor Knows About

the Graveyard

• The Graveyard operates under the laws of Mad Science and Psionics, and it is composed of a region of debris orbiting around an inactive cybernetic body the size of a small moon.

• Machine life infests the body of the dead machine god like bacteria still living on a corpse.

• The Graveyard is rife with a dangerous nanovirus that gets into everything.

• Sacrosancts are “self-made” machines that still revere their defunct cybernetic deity.



Thunder Plains Attributes

Level: 4

Laws: Magic

Playable Races: Human

Foci: Carries a Quiver, Lives in the Wilderness, Shepherds the Dead, Works Miracles

Skills: Native American lore

Connection to Strange: Certain rituals involving peyote and dancing will open normally sealed connections to the Strange within the hearts of raging bonfires.

Connection to Earth: Various gates, mostly forgotten and lost

Size: The size of the Dakota Territory in 1861 (around 350,000 square miles, or nearly one million square km)

Spark: 15%

Trait: Graceful. Any creature with the spark adds 1 to its Speed Pool maximum while present in the recursion. The point is lost upon leaving the recursion.




Native Americans have a rich mythology, and at least one version exists as a recursion, a place on the plains as it might have existed before the coming of the White Man, pristine and unspoiled. On Thunder Plains, small villages dot the landscape. By night, the starscape above is echoed by the many tiny village fires below, around which medicine elders chant, sing, dance, and smoke. By day, the buffalo darken the plains, and every hunt is successful.

That is not to say that Thunder Plains always knows peace. The communities are of different cultures, and sometimes that leads to strife, raids, and even war. At times, the entire plains are mobilized, but that lasts only so long as Waki’ya, the Thunderbird, remains quiescent.

When the great bird rises to darken the sky, it is a signal that the time for war—at least against each other—is done.




• Thunder Plains operates under the law of Magic. Here, Native Americans live on the plains before the coming of the White Man.

• Medicine elders chant, sing, dance, and smoke, weaving magic medicine each night in reverence to their ancestors.

• Thunderbird is real and can sometimes be seen darkening the sky. To anger Thunderbird is to take one’s life into one’s hands.


Gloaming Attributes

Level: 4

Laws: Magic

Playable Races: Human, werewolf, vampire

Foci: Abides in Stone, Is Licensed to Carry, Lives in the Wilderness, Looks for Trouble, Solves Mysteries, Works Miracles

Skills: Vampire lore, werewolf lore

Connection to Strange: Certain magic mirrors serve as portals to the Strange

Connection to Earth: Various gates

Size: The size of New York City of modern-day Earth

Spark: 45%

Trait: Sharp-Eyed. For any creature with the spark attempting to search for or find anything, the difficulty is modified by one step to its benefit.



Everything looks normal on the surface in Gloaming. People go to work, children play in the streets, and the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. But after dark, people are more cautious than on Earth. They tend to stay indoors and travel outside at night only in groups (except, of course, for the young and foolish). If asked, most people won’t be able to put their finger on exactly why, other than to express a sentiment similar to, “A person’s

got to be careful, doesn’t he?” But the reason people in Gloaming are afraid of the dark is because some part of them knows that it’s only prudent to possess that fear. Otherwise, creatures of the night might get them.

In Gloaming, vampires and werewolves are real. They live in the shadows, preying on humanity, keeping their existence secret to society at large.



What a Recursor Knows About


• Gloaming operates under the law of Magic, though at first glance the entire recursion seems no different than a modern Earth city.

• In Gloaming, people are scared to go out at night, but they don’t usually know why.

• In Gloaming, vampires and werewolves are real.




The total number of recursions around Earth is in the hundreds, which makes detailing each and every one of them difficult. To help you flesh out more recursions, you can use the additional notes that follow.


Goodland (Standard Physics): A recursion created either purposefully or accidentally from a commingling of several late 1950s and early 1960s American black-and-white television shows (plus a strain of something

scarier; see below). The result is a black-andwhite recursion called Goodland, where crime is essentially unheard of and no one has the spark. Recursors who make a small effort to fit in are treated like town residents, but 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 fathers and mothers of the city, who hide their identities beneath blank masks without features.


Pantamal (Standard Physics): The natives of Pantamal are talking, clothes-wearing animals of nearly every variety. In Pantamal, a creature’s personality is often tied to the kind of animal it is, though they don’t overtly judge others based on animal type. Not to say there isn’t conflict in Pantamal—quite the reverse. Gangs

of anarchist animals armed with Uzis are a real scourge, but the creatures in blue are on the job. Recursors to Pantamal can choose to be any animal they wish when they arrive, as long as the choice doesn’t have more than twice the mass of their native forms. Humans are also a choice, but they are treated as dangerous aliens.


Singularitan (Mad Science): In Singularitan, humanity marveled at the magnificence of the AI they’d created to solve all their problems— right up until that AI grew tired of serving humanity as a digital companion and decided

to exterminate the vermin. That’s the backstory, anyhow. 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. Any time a recursor stumbles into the recursion, it’s likely that when she leaves, she’s also running an instance of the Singularitar, who is well aware of outside recursions. Luckily for other recursions and Earth, these instances degrade quickly in other recursions. On the other hand, that’s not true out in the dark energy network.




Hell Frozen Over (Magic): This recursion is home to a variety of terrifying natives who resemble visually and behaviorally a few popular conceptions of demons and devils. Native non-demons and visitors alike are

frozen partly or completely into the ice plain that forms the majority of this recursion, and the aforementioned demons feast upon the parts they can reach. While being eaten alive is as painful as one might imagine, within the context of the recursion, those caught in the ice regenerate to normal health within a day.

The lord of this frozen hellscape is none other than a supernaturally powerful demon called Treachery. Living up to its name, Treachery sometimes frees its victims from the ice, ushers them into its ice citadel for a warm

meal and a promise of release, then inevitably betrays its promise and sends its guests back to the ice, sans arm, liver, or head.

The only thing that keeps recursors willingly returning to this incredibly deadly recursion is the rumor of amazing relics buried even deeper in the ice. The nature of those relics isn’t fully understood, but some believe they come from the Strange and so would have power in any recursion, even in the universe of normal matter.


Middlecap (Standard Physics plus Puppets):

The natives of Middlecap are talking, walking, free-willed puppets, who exist without the need for puppeteers. Many of the puppets of Middlecap are especially good at entertainment-related tasks. In addition to the race choice of puppet, a recursor can elect to choose human. Humans in Middlecap are quite rare, and they are treated as mini-celebrities upon their arrival, though such treatment wanes soon enough if the visitor attempts to

take advantage of the situation.



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