Of the Penglings

“I first heard of towns of ice sailing the All-sea, the Panthalassa, at the Bloodsac Bar in Free Golf. I was looking for new anorganics created by the golfer fabricators, but this piqued my interest. Ice. Water. The whole dusty miles between Free Golf and Near Moon, so inimical to biologicals, so dry and wasted. Setting up a bottling facility for all that ice would be profitable, right?

So I chartered a light yacht. The captain was a leit named Ten-Iris. They had nearly enough eyes to mach their name. Still, well and good, right? So they took me and a couple of my fellow Peanut Irregulars out to find one of these iceberg towns.

 Imagine my surprise when I discovered the birdfolk sailing that palace of ice: penglings! I’d thought they were a myth, but here they were, large as life. Not a one of them taller than four feet, but each twice as loud and four times more curious than I’d imagined.

Captain Ten-Iris looked uncomfortable staying too long. “They’ll poke me whole boat apart from below!” they said.

And they were right! Those darned penglings had us disassembled while we were negotiating to see what we could trade them for a towed berg in Free Golf harbor. Captain Ten-Iris threw a fit and I thought they’d blast one of those penglings with their hand cannon, but the penglings’ eyes got very big and their voices quite quavery.

The poor things hadn’t realized they’d inconvenienced us. When they learned we couldn’t swim back they reassembled our light yacht near as good as new and apologized profusely.

Soon enough we felt so sorry for making them feel uncomfortable, it was us apologizing! By later that evening, we were buying buckets of pickled sardines, and signing a deal for an iceberg.

Once we were sailing back, the light yacht wheezing weakly, we couldn’t quite figure out how we’d made such a deal. It wasn’t bad, per se, but we were definitely not making a killing on it, and we’d sold a royalty stake in the bottling operation to the penglings for some soft upfront financing.

Captain Ten-Iris cackled, “That’s why it’s safer to avoid them. The damned cute little birdfolk have a field, an aura about them, that forces you to treat them all fair and proper and makes you feel right terrible if you mistreat them in any way. It’s not really mind control. The golfers dissected a bunch of meatbodies trying to figure it out. It’s more like they just imprint fairness and morality on the source code of reality.”

—Pendrake Shelac-3 of the New Porcelain Shelacs, Peanut Irregulars (founding member), New Porcelain—Near Moon—Free Golf expedition of ‘48.

Of the Penglings it is Said [d12]

  1. They are an offshoot of the original lings, and proof that the lings were birdfolk.
  2. They are actually unrelated to the lings. The name is a coincidence.
  3. They can breathe water.
  4. They can hold their breath for an hour, whether under water or in vacuum, which is why there are so many void penglings (also sometimes called “very-penglings”).
  5. Their legs are not actually so short, they just have a fluffy, fleshy insulating skirt that keeps them warm in their arctic environment.
  6. Though they can’t run well, they are surprisingly good endurance walkers.
  7. A pengling will never take no for an answer.
  8. Penglings are by their nature unambitious, but ravenously curious. Their curiosity is usually mistaken for ambition.
  9. Penglings cannot understand cruelty.
  10. Penglings are obligate carnivores.
  11. Penglings sail their iceberg towns from one polar side of the Allsea to the other.
  12. There is a Pengling metropolis tunneled through the Great Ice Lid over the Hidden Warm Sea.
Pengling icerafter in his glory.

Penglings as Heroes

Veil of Cosmic Propriety (ability)

The hero is surrounded by an aura of acceptable behavior and child-friendly consequences. Somehow, everything that happens around them has a PG-13 rating. Nobody in the vicinity of the hero can be violently killed or gruesomely injured, nothing gory can happen around the hero, torture is right out. The same limitation applies to the hero’s own actions.

If actual combat breaks out, injuries might be as bad as a sharp-symbol-shaped scratch or an extra visible bead of stress sweat. Any creature that runs out of life is knocked out. Head injuries only knock characters out. Broken bones are always fixed with cartoonishly oversized casts or bandages.

Character death is literally impossible near such a hero (though a character who would otherwise die will probably still retire from play to take up something safer, like viticulture).

Insufferably Cute (ability)

The hero is just the cutest. [+] to social interactions, but all interactions take twice as long as everyone fusses over the hero.

Decency Field (ability)

The hero imprints morality on reality itself. An aura about them pushes everyone to treat one another fairly and properly, and makes every sentient thing feel terrible if they mistreat the hero in any way.

Sentients have difficulty knowingly cheating [-] or manipulating the hero. The hero cannot cheat or manipulate others. This also applies to trading and profits.


Endless plains under turquoise skies.

Nobly supported by the heroes
of the stratometaship.

—Gracias—

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