It is seven billion years in the future. The sun weighs heavy in the sky, numbed by all the deeds perpetrated in its sight. It looks over Bius Station, the last of two hundred breeding pits for the biomantic creations of the Circle of Life, a cabal of power-mad alchemists.
It is the last because all others overflowed with rage and war, and its gibbering monsters assaulted the remaining cities of the world. Each was defeated in turn, by the Sons of Chromas and the Daughters of E, by the grit of the Bound Companies and the personal horrors of a trillion desperate conscripts.
One hundred and ninety-nine times out of two hundred, the biomancer in question chose to wreak the work of war. In the last case, in Bius Station, he chose otherwise.
The biomancer here gave up his previous name. He is called only the scientist, the alchemist, or father. For when he looked over the myriad lives his profane science produced, he saw not weapons nor sons but people, living beings upon whom he had already inflicted cruelty after cruelty. He has spent a hundred years making up for those cruelties by caring for his creations, for their lives are not easy.
I will not tell you he is good or bad. I cannot say that the service he has rendered makes up for his sins, though I can't imagine that treating a wound is as good as inflicting that wound was bad. Crucially, the weight of his heart does not matter to me.
Bius Station is an adventuring location, a "dungeon space" as I have called them in the past. The scientist's creations that are still fairly mobile fill out a random encounter table, and the facility's slow decay offers many challenges of traversal. An adventuring party can be brought by rumors of strange beasts sighted, or by news that scavengers and raiders often visit the location to trade with its biomancer, for his charges require a multitude of things he can no longer synthesize, if they are to live lives as fully as they might.
I can well imagine player characters or their players feeling guilty, betrayed, wroth, if they spend the first half of their visit to Bius Station "slaying monsters," in a place where the moral dignity of the things they encounter are not telegraphed, not signposted by eloquence or grace. What were they meant to do?
There is no moral supplied in Bius Station. I hope it feels authentic to the inadequacies of the real world, as you have seen it. Some are born to endless night, and all that.
How are we to depict violence, the catalyst of so many wrongs in the living world?
- An escapist might say we should construct our fictional worlds to excuse violence, to offer heroic outlets in which we slay shibbolethic hordes of demons.
- An Aesthete of Desperation might say we should depict a world which is fully cruel, but make violence feel scary and desperate, to offer vicarious thrills from escape and cunning play.
- A different escapist might say we should construct our fictional worlds without violence, to offer a kinder example or provoke more creative problem-solving.
- A third escapist might say the first escapist is hopelessly misguided, and has simply constructed an excuse to channel a love of violence against iffy justifiable targets. They might say we should instead construct our fictional worlds as moral examples, to offer heroic demonstrations in which we slay analogues of specific real-world oppressors.