Days of Halcyon Knights
“Days of Halcyon Knights”
Halcyon dictionary definition: “Denoting a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful.”
In life, we know that death and taxes are certainties. We go from being born as blank slates to becoming hopefully happy children and with good fortune, develop into functioning healthy adults. Yet there’s a lot that happens between Point A and B, isn’t there? While we can grow from these things, it’s clear that life isn’t often fair and we can lose the sparkles in our eyes. And we learn of another bitter fact all too late… we can’t choose to be innocent again. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.
But… what if you could?
In adventurous sagas long and mystifying, far beyond the ken of our understanding, there existed a man made of clay. His name was Heizenroux. Whether he choose his name or if it was given to him, none can say for certain. Whatever the truth about him truly was, we’ll never know, for he alone carries the nature of his origins like a blurry photograph in his back pocket. And there are none who can speak to him of it, for he is a quiet presence in this universe. It only makes sense… for he alone made it.
Coming from a universe of war, suffering, and confusion, Heizenroux chose both peace and mercy. He achieved enlightenment in the process and from his heart, he developed a unique geometric shape. He held it aloft and found that he could begin a new universe far away from the madness he observed daily, for that is how pure his gift was. He could enter this shape of his own making and it could be anything he wanted it to be- the only limitation was his imagination.
But Heizenroux was scarce of ego and he desired little, if anything for himself. So he made a unique gift for others. There was no war that was not a harmless game. No sword was not a mere stick. No worry of nuclear weapons, cruel controlling businessmen, and no warped ideologies about what should and should not be. He made a place for everyone. If they earnestly chose it… they could start again, far away from worlds of worry.
The Playground is a sprawling dreamworld occupied by nothing and everything at once. It is a place of grand imagination and joy. It embodies the best parts of being a child, to have fun with one’s friends, and to go on adventures. No one dies, no one can truly be harmed, and no one needs to grow up.
Here, everyone is eternally young, somewhere between seven and ten years of age in equivalence. You could be from almost any background- human, lizard man, anthropic starlight… it would make no difference. You are remade here, a person largely free from the grip of cynicism who simply enjoys having fun adventures with your friends, playing games, or perhaps going off to explore on your own. Your imagination largely defines your reality, allowing you to take on the ‘guise’ of something you’d like to pretend to be as you go on adventures with your friends. It could be something like a cowboy, a ninja, a knight, pirate, etc. You and your friends will see each other as these pretend roles. Officially, you are known as a Halcyon, a word Heizenroux selected that reflects your state of being in the Playground.
Your imagination also determines what ordinary mundane items become in your hand. A stick becomes a sword, a garbage can lid is a shield in your hand, and an oversized coat might be a superhero costume. Going on adventures, you might scour the neighborhood for ‘just the right kind of stick’ to symbolize you finding your Excalibur. Bottlecaps and pull tabs can be a tradeable currency. A traffic pylon becomes a helmet or a legendary bardic instrument.
The Playground resembles a sprawling semi-abandoned suburbia circa 1950-1990. It’s not as overdeveloped as many modern towns, but it is a bit overgrown. Trees, tall grasses, and wild flowers grow abundantly. There are no actual individuals older than you and your friends, but your imagination has created various ‘dreamfolk’. These are potentially kindly people who make up a village, roving monsters, and imaginary friends come to join you.
When you’re done having your adventure, you pretend to be defeated in a battle, or just need to drop out, it’s all good. Perhaps you tell your friends you hear your mom calling you. Or it’s getting near your curfew. Maybe your uncle is coming by and he’s making the really big pot of spaghetti for the family tonight. Perhaps the monsters are playing too rough today or they’re scary and you’re just not in the mood for the adventure right now. Or it could simply be your bedtime. Your character excuses themselves, fading into the aether or otherwise out of sight, away from everything that’s going on, and maybe they’ll come back out again tomorrow to play some more.
Areas of play are various. A town could be a kingdom or something as simple as a marketplace. The creek might have a mermaid splashing about within it who wants to show you how to make a wreath of dandelions. An old school might be a haunted mansion to explore. A field of tall grass and scrub brush might be a jungle for a hearty explorer looking for the legendary two headed giraffe lion of Kazibaba. The local baseball field can be an exotic desert if a regular game of softball isn’t of interest.
Fitting with the relatively light hearted theme, all areas should have silly, quaint, or defining names. Absurdity is good!
Examples: Brisketville, Goober Junction, The Come On Inn, the Lair of Griznak the Ever Snacker, Fartsworth, Deelybopper, Lake Chowder, etc.
Heizenroux: (High-zen-row) In the scheme of things, Heizenroux is the only real being around outside of the playable characters. He doesn’t appear in the world, simply having faded into the background of all things. Heizenroux takes no meaningful presence in adventures and at best, acts as a narrative component. He exists spiritually in a meditative pose and is for all practical purposes, not directly interactable, affectable, or responsive. He IS the world and desires nothing. Behind the scenes, his actual appearance is that of a serenely eyed bald man with strangely turquoise skin. Resembling a monk, he sits in a contemplative pose with a tesseract floating in front of his chest.
Imaginary Friends: These dreamfolk are particularly friendly characters that may hang out with you, coming and going as you please. Many Imaginary Friends resemble cute animal-like people of your relative height. They’re often positive and happy to join in on any adventures, especially when other Halcyons aren’t available. They have their own personalities. Like yourself and all other dreamfolk, they do not question their existence. They’re as real as you are, as far as you’re concerned.
Other Notable Aspects of the World:
Theme of the Playground: The world does not have much in the way of modern era technology. There are no cellphones, internet, or computers beyond the occasional TSR 80 type of PC. You might have a gaming system comparable to a Nintendo or Atari. There aren’t actual weapons of any sort, only objects improvised or imagined. Cars, businesses, ATMs do technically exist but these aren’t necessarily things for you to directly play with, so much as they stay as backdrop. You’re a (mostly) good kid and you wouldn’t be here if you were maliciously wrecking property. Sometimes actions taken against this idea effectively rewrite or reset themselves. After all, kids do exaggerate things. “No… that’s not how it happened. It went like this…”
Parents: Yes, you have dreamfolk parents. However, they’re primarily off camera entities, as the focus of the Playground is having fun on your own or with friends. Your parents provide a background justification for where you stay when you’re not playing, who takes care of you, and act as an excuse (It’s time for dinner!) when your character is done for the play session. That said, they’re pretty easy going with whatever. You want to have overnight adventures camping out in the woods? You’re a bit of a latchkey kid and It’s assumed you let them know.
Allowance: Every so often between your adventures, it’s assumed you’re helping out around the house with chores. For this, you get an allowance! Your allowance acts as a voucher at the various stores a given town may have, such as a Snack Shoppe, a Toy Store, a Costume Shop, and so on. When not directly on an adventure, you might pick something from a list that your character can have as their own. “No, you can only have one!”
Toys: It’s not always feasible to find the right piece of junk to re-imagine as something cool. But that’s what toys are for! Your adventures don’t necessarily need to involve you running around, maybe it’s fun just to hang out in your backyard. With the right figure on hand, you and your friends can play as Batdood and the Klown right on your front stoop or next to that dusty ’68 Charger with the flat tires that your Uncle Jerry keeps on the back lawn that he’s totally going to fix one day.
Costumes: What kid doesn’t love dressing up? Another way to assume a ‘guise‘ is to simply wear a less than accurately designed unlicensed costume. Yes, even in in the middle of April… because /Everyday is Halloween/ if you want it to be.
Snacks: Need a pick me up? Snack break! Fruit snacks, graham crackers, candy, apples, and so on take the place of healing items as needed. You can certainly re-imagine these as health potions for your adventure.
Flora and Fauna:
Normal harmless dreamstuff creatures exist freely. Butterflies, cats, squirrels, etc. All the trees and plants around you seem rather big, but then, you tend to see things that way when you’re only so tall.
Systems of Government:
You might pretend to be a king or queen somewhere, but the world is too big to rule over everything. Also, that sounds like a lot of work. Maybe you’ll just take over that thicket of fallen trees and make a palace out of it! Beyond this, parents are the ultimate authority. When it’s time for bed, it’s time for bed.
Plot line ideas:
The Search for Hidden Treasure: You and your friends get together to explore the local beach for hidden pirate loot! There are some leftover plastic Easter eggs with tiny toys inside still buried somewhere in the sands. Following some rumors from a friendly local dreamfolk man using a metal detector, you begin scouring the beachfront for landscape clues while coastal pirates and snack hungry pterodactyls (seagulls) attempt to interfere.
The Great Race: You and your friends bring out your favorite diecast cars to go play in the backyard. You’ve set up a number of obstacles through the patchy crabgrass to weave around, such as a mountain (a bucket set upside down), a marshy lake (someone’s spilled bottle of water), and a traffic jam (metal jacks and broken toy cars). The goal is to zip ahead and find a path through the forests (patches of crabgrass) to the infamous Honeycomb Hideout, where the winner will receive a fun sized bag of gummy bears.
Hide and Go Cheep Cheep: While engaged in a round of hide and go sneak with your friends, you find a poor injured robin with a hurt wing that cannot fly. If you can convince your friends that you need to stop the game for now, you realize you need to rescue this poor bird before a cat finds it. But how will you take care of it until it can recover? Maybe Mister Weatherbee, your neighbor who likes to woodshop birdhouses can help.
In doing so, Hide and Go Sneak has changed, as Mr Weatherbee asks for your help in finding things the poor little bird will need to recover, such as seeds, insects, and perhaps a comfortable little hanky to sit on, while he prepares to treat the robin’s wing.
If you and your friends take consideration of the robin’s plight, a fantasy takes place, where the bird within the birdhouse becomes Robina Rainbow, the Sky Princess. With Lord Weatherbee’s help, you become the knights of Robina and must find the things she needs for her palace while she visits your kingdom.
My Best Friend, Mr McMittens: You and your cute Imaginary Cat Friend, Bootsy McMittens have been going on some great misadventures. You explored the local woods, sang silly made up songs together, and played hopscotch. But after all this time, it begins to dawn on you, as you feel a certain final lucidity… it’s time to leave the Playground.
The real Bootsy passed on last month and you just haven’t been able to handle it. In your dreams, you’ve been brought by Heizenroux to this wonderous place and it’s felt like several magical summers here with Bootsy. But the real Bootsy didn’t look like a cartoon cat, did he? Your Imaginary Friend knows the truth, you’ve just finally been able to accept that he’s gone. Imaginary Friend Bootsy tearfully tells you with a soft smile that you’ll always be best friends so long as you keep your heart young and full of love, and that you’ll make new friends because you’re a great person. He thanks you for taking care of him and that he’s enjoyed spending time with you too. You exchange a hug and together, walk down the street to the sunrise, as you leave the Playground for good, finally able to accept what has happened.