Not all recursions were created all at once, fully formed: nor does all fictional leakage come from stories. The Shoals of Earth are seeded by human ideas, and during the Industrial Revolution the people working at textile mills had no time for stories or myths. Their world shrank down to the size of a single loom or cotton gin, and collectively, these unnumbered masses birthed Weavings, a recursion which in its infancy was simply a giant cloth factory.
The world’s development didn’t end there, however. As the textile industry became more automated the ideas forming the recursion began to be drawn from a greater variety of sources, from revolutionary propaganda to dystopian narratives, and finally steampunk and neo-Victorian fiction. This ‘smear’ in the formative sources meant that Weavings, which is just over 200 years old, now combines a wide variety of elements. Though the law of magic holds sway in this recursion, treat it as being hostile to any entering creatures or artifacts that operate under that law. The only magic which seems to work in Weavings is that which preserves the unbreakable ‘daemonthread’ and the rotational energy that is provided by the Ministry of Seamstry, and the Treadle implants that citizens possess.
No longer simply a titanic mill, the recursion now has the aspect of a dizzying high-rise city roughly the size of Manhattan Island and surrounded by dye-polluted waters. Natives of the recursion call it Threadham City, and a new traveller will likely find the vast and complicated arrangement of thread-bound skyscrapers covered in pulleys more than a little labyrinthine. Natives of the recursion make their way from building to building by means of zip-lines made of daemonthread, and skilled users simply swing around by hooking their needles onto the sides of buildings. All these threads, both great and small, connect to the Grand Spindle, a massive rotating tower in the very center: wound in great chords of daemonthread and constantly, inexorably spinning and providing the torque that powers the entirety of the city’s infrastructure.
The edges of Threadham City, though not the recursion of Weavings itself, are its dye-soaked banks. These regions are constantly shrouded in a poisonous fog the locals call ‘Pea Soup’ for its sickly color. Treat it as a level 3 poison that causes nausea and internal bleeding. The Ministry of Seamstry has erected nets around the border of the city, and for reasons probably only they understand these nets are somehow able to keep the deadly toxins at bay.
The Ministry of Seamstry (MiniSeam) probably began as the recursion’s aristocracy, but over time the fictional ‘smear’ which affects the rest of the recursion gave it elements of a guild, a trade union, and finally a corporation. As such, it exists a sort of Orwellian mix of all of them–hereditary positions include Earl of Finance and Viscount of Production Management, while the fearsome Human Resource Order* provides security and surveillance throughout the recursion. This complex and often corrupt bureaucracy is headed by Crown Executive Officer Rupert Crowley**, an aged tyrant who is well aware of the Strange and the dangers it poses to his city , though such information is only shared with a privileged few.
Other than governance, the Ministry’s main purview is powering the Grand Spindle and producing lengths of daemonthread of various thicknesses. The means which they use to produce these wonders is a closely guarded secret, and knights of the Human Resource Order have no qualms about killing anyone who pries too deeply. The dense city center nearest to the Grand Spindle consists almost entirely of the Ministry of Seamstry, and those who make their living there operate under constant surveillance. In addition to being impossible to cut, daemonthread, when taut, carries sound extremely well. Every home administrated by MiniSeam has a metal listening plate installed, which is connected by a network of pulleys to a central loom at which squires of the Human Resource Order may listen in to any conversations taking place. Though it is impossible for all citizens to be monitored at all times, the inspections are random and the citizenry lives in fear that an incautious word will lead to a surprise visit by the Knights. Certain elite of the Human Resource Order pay special attention to hotels and slum flophouses, knowing that recursors will usually not have a permanent place of residence.
*Typical Knight of the Human Resource Order: Level 4, 2 armor, able to move a short distance and attack as a single action
**CEO Rupert Crowley: Level 5, level 7 for intimidation, knowledge of the Strange, and detecting subterfuge
Citizen Racial Option
Citizens, who make up the majority of the population (about 65%), are not a distinct race from humans, but instead are what humans who have a ‘Treadle’ installed in one of their arms as children are called. The Treadle is a small gear, which is implanted in the underside of the dominant arm and turns in response to the will of the Citizen. Most Citizens wear devices called Spools or Bobbins, which are complicated clockwork mechanisms shaped something like shields or bucklers. They are wound with daemonthread and used in conjunction with the Treadle implant to utilize the recursion’s personal technology. A Spool is a foot wide and is used for military or police purposes, however ministers often carry one as a status symbol, while a Bobbin is about six inches in diameter and mostly used for civilian purposes only, although it is possible to use it with weapons (the difficulty of all such attacks is increased by one). Some knights and recursors (those who choose or drag the Wields Two Weapons at Once focus) have Treadles implanted in both arms, and the ‘Knitting’ fighting style that this allows is very much respected and admired. The technology of the recursion depends on rotation provided by these devices, and individuals without one are treated as inferior.
Recursors who travel to Weavings can choose to be Citizens, which allows them to make use of the special weapons and amenities that the recursion offers – though like all Citizens, they are advised to stay out of the more lawless areas run by gangs. Likewise, recursors who decide to translate as normal humans or arrive by inapposite gate will probably have to put up with severe discrimination in most of the developed parts of the city. There is a thriving black market for implants in the slum districts, which inapposite travellers sometimes avail themselves of if they plan to spend a long time in the recursion, though the skill to use them well must be trained separately. Such inapposite recursors treat all tasks involving the use of a Treadle as one step more difficult until the user has a chance to become Trained in treadle use.
The OSR has discovered that Treadles implanted in this way are quite resilient to the degradation usually suffered by recursion-specific artifacts, generally lasting for weeks or months if brought out by inapposite gate. When brought in this way to recursions that operate under the law of Magic they last even longer, up to several years or even forever. Given the enhanced mobility offered by these items, both the OSR and recursion miners find them to be extremely valuable.
The Noble Rot
Sometimes, the strange energies powering the Treadle implants react poorly with a user, causing an unpleasant red network of vein-like bulges to spread across the skin. As nasty and painful as this condition is, due to the fact that citizens regard their implants as a status symbol, these marks are viewed as something of a mark of pride. If that was the end of the story, the condition known as the noble rot would be otherwise unremarkable. The truth hidden from the people, however, is that the painful red marks are simply the first stage in a terrifying transformation. Sufferers of the noble rot eventually begin to experience an unquenchable craving for daemonthread, often ingesting great lengths of it at a time. Stranger still, advanced cases find themselves able to chew through the otherwise unbreakable daemonthread. Once the transformation reaches this far the unfortunate victim will very soon transform completely into a monster known as a Spool Wight. The condition is slow to advance in its initial stages, however, and poses little threat to a recursor, as a simple translation is enough to end the affliction.
Guerrillas of the Mist
The boundaries of the recursion are often marked as the shores of Threadham City itself. In actual fact, Weavings extends quite a distance beyond, and consists of several smaller islands as well. Reaching them, on the other hand, is no easy task. Not only must one contend with the poisonous ‘Pea Soup’ and ply a barge across the polluted, multihued waters, but all is not quiet away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The toxic environment hosts a variety of dangerous creatures, not the least dangerous of which are the Pea Soup Irregulars, the remnants of a mafia-turned-revolutionary force which was mercilessly purged by MiniSeam several years before the present day. Originally the most powerful slum gang, the Irregulars led a popular rebellion and were nearly wiped out – driven beyond the protective nets to choke in the toxic fumes. Hundreds died, but the survivors stumbled across the other outlying islands, finding them filled with ruined cityscapes and populated by small human tribes which were able to survive with the aid of specialized breathing apparatus. The Irregulars merged with the tribes, swelling their numbers and providing normally fractious leaders with a common enemy in the Ministry.
That a ragtag band of survivors avoided being killed by the impoverished and suspicious islanders is largely due to the sheer charisma of Camilla Tullett*. A simple gang lieutenant during the failed revolution, once the exodus began it was her determined leadership which kept the routed army from breaking completely, and brokered a peaceful merger into the island population. Camilla now wields great influence, not only among the tribes and her subordinates, but among the poor and downtrodden in Threadham City itself. The Pea Soup Irregulars now wage a smaller-scale war against MiniSeam, consolidating their power and influence in preparation for their next move. As an organization, they are very suspicious of travellers, since double agents are one of the Ministry’s favorite tools and one of the major reasons the initial rebellion failed. Recursors who wish to explore the hidden wealth of the ruins in the fog are well advised to seek permission with the Irregulars before attempting to prospect.
*Camilla Tullett: Level 7, level 9 for all tasks involving interaction
As one of the major centers of the Industrial Revolution in its heyday, the recursion of Weavings was strongly influenced by London – from the toxic ‘Pea Soup’ which forms a boundary around it to the infamous East End slum. Threadham City’s East End is a deadly place where citizens barely dare to tread, filled with feuding gangs. Recursors without treadles are likely to be ignored unless they make themselves particularly appealing targets to the many pickpockets, muggers, and assorted lowlifes who make their home here. Anyone with a treadle (such as a recursor who chose the Citizen racial option) who doesn’t have obvious affiliation with a major gang is likely to find trouble quickly, but it is especially those foolish enough to wear baggy long sleeves to try to hide whether they have a Treadle or not who are sure to find themselves at the receiving end of a nasty ambush.
It is in this vast winding high-rise ghetto that recursors who travel to Weavings by inapposite gate can find the black market chirurgeons who will implant a treadle, for a price. Characters who wish to submit to implantation will often find that simple money is not enough, and that even though cyphers and other wonders are in demand, it is favors and affiliation which gain the most traction – a black market treadle is a great way to get swept up into the many gang intrigues which crisscross the district. Such chirurgeons are also in demand for colorful skin brocade decorations, which are highly fashionable in the slum districts and are also used by gangs as a mark of membership.
One of the smaller gangs in East End, known as the Yellow Hats, are actually a small task force of the OSR tasked with testing the unique tendency of Treadle implants and other artifacts found here to withstand the degradation normally suffered by such items in recursions operating under a different law. ‘Snaps’ Devonshire* (Special Agent Arjun Patil on Earth), the leader of the task force, is convinced that the OSR has found a true gold mine in these unusually resilient artifacts, and is determined to maintain his team’s monopoly. A ruthless and calculating man, he uses his task force’s cover as a slum gang to good effect. By using military discipline, he controls a thin, meandering swathe of territory which, unknown to the other gangs, contains most of the inapposite gates in the recursion. These gates are kept strictly monitored, as are many of the chirurgeons who offer treadle implantation. ‘Snaps’ is a true believer in ends justifying means, and his heavy-handed tactics are extreme even by OSR standards. Certain members of his task force, and some of his commanders back home, would like to see his reign of terror cut short, but for the moment he maintains his position through influence and outright intimidation.
*‘Snaps’ Devonshire: level 6, level 7 for attacking and intimidation, able to make two attacks and move a short distance in a single action, also possesses several offensive cyphers
Legacy of the Ripper
The East End of London was infamous for more than its poverty and danger however, and a great deal of literature exists about the famous Jack the Ripper, which is why it is probably not surprising that for the past 120 years, the recursion has been terrorized by a serial case that defies logic and explanation. Every month for over a century, without fail, a woman is discovered dismembered and arranged in a grisly pattern somewhere in the streets of East End. The victims come from throughout the recursion, from streetwalkers of the district all the way to upper MiniSeam officials who would never travel to the outer slums. In fact, one of the Ripper’s most high profile victims was the former Crown Executive Officer, a woman named Eunice Crowley and mother of the current CEO of the Ministry who inherited the position after her death about 20 years ago. A subsequent invasion and purge of the East End slums uncovered no clues, and the cold case is still a dangerous subject of inquiry for anyone interacting with the Ministry.
As a recursion which operates under the laws of Substandard Physics and Magic, equipment should be handled in a manner similar to that of Adreyn (Shillings, Threadham City’s monetary units, are exactly equivalent Adreyn’s Crowns), though without any of the special magic equipment common to that recursion. Additionally, the following equipment is available for purchase and may be provided to recursors arriving by translation.
Breathing Mask: This beak mask is reminiscent of a plague doctor’s costume, and is filled with dried plants and spices. The difficulty of all breathing-related Might defense actions is decreased by two steps, but the difficulty of any task involving perception is increased by one step. The protection lasts for one day, after which the beak must be refilled with the necessary spices, though the correct recipes are usually kept secret. Cost 20, refill cost 8.
Daemonthread: A rust red coloured string with an unnerving leathery texture, the thickness and length varies from cables as thick as one’s arm to almost invisibly fine. Daemonthread cannot be cut in the recursion of Weavings, and even if taken outside retains much of its strength. Treat as a level 8 material in recursions which operate under the law of Magic or in the Strange itself, and a level 6 material in all other recursions and on Earth. If it is successfully cut or damaged, the whole length disappears in a puff of acrid smoke. Cost 30 per 50ft/20m.
Bobbin: This tool can only be operated if the wielder has a Treadle implanted. The user may wind up string, wire, or daemonthread, up to 100ft as an action. As long as there is nothing too heavy attached, the length is drawn into the gears and pulleys and wound onto one of the internal spools. If the rope is attached to something very heavy or a solid surface, the user instead moves themselves up to a Long distance (or a Short distance straight up) as an action. The user may eject the wound rope without uncoiling it. Cost 100.
Spool: A Spool can be used for anything a Bobbin can, and likewise requires a Treadle implant, but it is more robust and also allows the user to wield the special weapons unique to Weavings without penalty. Cost 150.
Weavings Special Weapons and Armor
Needle: This is a thick spike about the size and width of a forearm, which requires a Treadle and Spool to operate. It is a Medium weapon and can be fired up to Short range, after which it is drawn back to the wielder by a length of daemonthread. Alternately, the user can use it as a grapnel and pull themselves up to a Short distance in any direction onto a secure handhold. Making a level 3 speed check allows them to make an attack with a different weapon either before or after making this move. Cost 70.
Pin: Roughly the size of a kitchen knife, this metal stake follows all of the same rules as a Needle but is a Light weapon instead. Cost 50.
Attack Loom: This impressive and bulky contraption requires two hands, a Treadle and Spool to operate. It can fire 3ft[1m]-long needles up to Short range as a Heavy weapon and can be used rapid-fire. The needles are drawn back to the wielder after being fired. Alternately, the user can use it as a grapnel and pull themselves up to a Short distance in any direction onto a secure handhold. Making a level 3 speed check allows them to also make an attack either before or after making this move, though it cannot be used as a rapid fire weapon during rounds when this is attempted. Cost 80.
Razor Thread: This Light weapon consists of a length of daemonthread which tapers down to a razor-thin lash and must be used with a Treadle and Spool. It is used mainly as a weapon of subterfuge, as it cannot impart greater mobility to the wielder like the other weapons. However, it can be used as a rapid fire weapon. Cost 120.
Daemonstitch Waistcoat/Corset: Daemonthread which has been woven into stylish torso coverings for men or women, these count as special light armor in Weavings, granting the wearer 1 point of armor and not requiring the wearer to be proficient. When taken to the Strange or a recursion operating under the law of Magic, they instead count as normal light armor. On other recursions or on Earth they are simply unusually sturdy garments. Cost 300.
Daemonweave Swallow-Tail Jacket/Bodice: Full upper body garments made of thick daemonthread, these are special medium armor on Weavings (provides 2 point of armor and counts as light armor when worn), regular medium armor where Magic operates, and light armor on all other recursions. Cost 500.
Daemonchord Frock Coat/Ball Gown: These grand formal ensembles made of an expert lattice of thick and thin daemonthread are the height of Weavings fashion. They count as special heavy armor (counts as medium when worn but provides 3 points of armor) on Weavings, regular heavy armor in places that support the law of Magic, and medium armor on all other recursions. Cost 1000.
Thimble: A large pitted cup with a handle inside, these implements are functionally equivalent to shields, taking up one hand and providing an asset to Speed defence rolls. Cost 20.
Form: Ornate fencing sword with pulleys and springs behind the bell guard
Effect: This artifact is usable as a light weapon, but the blade is hollow and filled with razor wire, ready to be shot into the body of an enemy. If the wielder chooses to make an attack with the wires instead of using it as a regular sword, the attack is two steps more difficult, but if successful moves the target one step down the damage track. Even if the attack misses it deals 2 damage to the target from the lashing wires. After this attack is made the sword is unbalanced and useless as a weapon until the wielder spends another action to wind it back up, which requires a Treadle and a depletion roll.
Depletion: 1 in d10
Form: Small box containing a length of daemonthread and a long thin needle
Effect: This pin can be fired into a flat surface up to a Long distance away as an action, after which the user may use their actions to keep the thread taut and listen to any conversations taking place on the opposite side of the barrier. Another action detaches the pin and winds the thread back into the device. This device does not require a Treadle to operate, meaning that Ministry double agents may use it freely.
Depletion: 1 in d6
Form: Gear-shaped implant in the underside of the forearm
Effect: By itself, a treadle is simply a gear which spins according to the user’s will, but any mechanically inclined character could easily design tools to take advantage of this motive power.
Depletion: In the recursion of Weavings, this artifact lasts forever. If brought by inapposite gate to a recursion that is hostile to the law of Magic roll d100 once per day, and on a 1-2 treat it as depleted. If brought to a recursion that operates under the law of Magic or into the Strange itself roll twice and it only depletes if both rolls fail. At DM’s option the implant remains when depleted and may be repaired if brought back to Threadham City.
Though Threadham City is a place of dense civilization, there are many dark corners where less human dangers may lurk. Abandoned cellars, ‘haunted’ buildings and dark alleyways may all be occupied by stranger beasts, and beyond the banks of the city more unusual and deadly creatures lurk in the ruins and toxic waters. Creatures operating under the law of Magic are most appropriate, though take care to avoid any flashy magic spells or energies. Certain creatures operating under the law of Mad Science can also thrive in this recursion, though only ones of a totally biological nature as even the most rudimentary electric technologies fail.
The Strange Corebook: Cypher Eater, Inkling. A clutch of Angiophages was recently transported into the recursion by an unknown faction in Ruk, and are in danger of starting an epidemic.
The Strange Bestiary: Bogeyman, Ghost, Gnock, Mirror Gaunt, Nakarand Avatar, Phantasmic Parasite, Recursion Stain. One Grim Tailor became stranded in the recursion, killed the boss of a slum gang, and now is being treated by the gangsters as their new leader. The Grim Tailor itself is unaware of the significance of what is going on and just wants to return to Middlecap.
The Strange Corebook: Hydra, Utricle.
The Strange Bestiary: Chimera, Nuppeppo, Prance
Some creatures from the Numenera corebook and Ninth World Bestiary may also be appropriate to this weird and dangerous region of the recursion.
Knot [Level 2]
The unusual vermin known as knots are little more than a tangle of animate daemonthread surrounding pulsing, exposed organs. Several theories exist to explain their origins – some liken them to gremlins, malignant spirits given flesh which exist to break down machines. Others simply categorize them as a unique magical creature similar to an Earth hermit crab. Still others whisper that they are a by-product of the secret means that the Ministry uses to create daemonthread.
Motive: Sustenance, interfering with machines
Environment (Weavings / Magic): Dark alleys, tops of buildings
Damage Inflicted: 2 points
Modifications: Speed Defense as level 3 due to size, interfere with machinery as level 4.
Combat: A Knot attacks by lashing with lengths of daemonthread. If the target fails a Speed defense roll they are tangled in the strand, and on this and subsequent rounds must make a Might defense roll or take 4 points of damage as it constricts. A swarm of four Knots tangles together into a level 4 creature.
Interaction: A knot is no more intelligent than a rat or pigeon.
Use: One of the East End gangs, the Stitched Smiles, has discovered an artifact or technique that allows them to exert limited control over stray Knots.
Loot: Each Knot inhabits a length of daemonthread, which remains after it is killed.
Spool Wight [Level 6]
A human form sits upon the opulent throne, connected by strands of daemonthread to needles which litter the floor around it. The figure raises its head revealing a face stretched taught over a gaunt skull. Pulleys under the surface of the skin wind up, drawing its lips upward in a macabre parody of a smile.
These terrifying creatures are the final stage of the sickness called the noble rot. Any individual who is able to undergo such a transformation without being hunted down by the Ministry of Seamstry is likely both charismatic and very well connected. Such beings use their newfound immortality and control over daemonthread to good effect consolidating power for their house.
Environment (Weavings / Magic): Hidden in the manses of elite Ministry houses
Damage Inflicted: 6 points
Modifications: Persuasion and knowledge of Threadham City politics as level 7
Combat: A spool wight fights by producing needles from within its body and firing them on strands of daemonthread at its opponents. It can make three attacks in short range in one round, splitting them as it wishes, or a single attack in long range. It can also move a short distance while it attacks.
It can also absorb daemonthread or any special weapon or armor of Weavings with a touch, destroying it unless the owner makes a Might defense roll to pull it away. The creature gains 6 points of health every time it does this successfully. This effect takes place both when it uses an action to touch an object and when it is attacked with such a weapon.
Interaction: Dig too deep into the affairs of an aristocratic house and you run the risk of encountering the family’s immortal advisor. They are refined and polite, but utterly pitiless and focused on advancing their own political agenda.
Use: In addition to being the power behind the throne in quite a few houses, occasionally one might encounter a lone, wild spool wight in the slums or beyond Threadham City’s borders. Such beings are less dangerous than a politically connected wight, but no less cunning.
Loot: A spool wight might carry 1d6 cyphers, and will likely be encountered in a richly decorated mansion filled with valuable trinkets.