Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Its Alive!

The guide brings the sacrament in a shot glass. It takes effect almost as soon as I down it. The scales fell from my eyes and I saw the hundreds of writhing things that were hiding underneath.

The stars a thousand cold uncaring eyes and the sky a single black eye in which the stars were mere flecks. Many-tongued trees lap at the sun and shove each other into the shade. In the darkness of the woods some small, scurrying thing is devoured by a larger, scurrying thing. In the darkness between the stars something larger is devoured by something larger still. On and throughout everything a thick veneer of bacteria, always and forever the exemplars of life.

"Behold" intoned the guide "Shub-Niggurath."

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Drones

Brain-lace interweaves the brain with a superconducting mesh, forming a new network of connections. Acting as an interface between the brain and traditional computer systems, brain-lace serves as a basis for plug-and-play augmentation. Universal ports allows cybernetics to be swapped out with a simple hand tool, with the brain-lace smoothing out the acclimation process. The most significant of these is is skillware: ROM chips imparting knowledge or skills that could be changed from day to day.

These innovations restored the practicality of human labor. Brain-lace had made humans the perfect chassis on which to run robotic parts and software, making humans a cheaper option than building from scratch, and more adaptable too. The early-adopters quickly dominated. Corporations wealthy enough to subsidize brain laces for their employees soon had the best engineers making products sold by the best marketers, overseen by the best managers, all run by the best executives.

But, suddenly, skill hardly counts for anything. Skills can be gained and lost at any time. What employers want is what can't yet be induced by chip: loyalty. Successful employees are those who can compete with tireless robots and never break step with company policy. Humanity has replaced robots, in more ways than they ever wanted.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Starve the Beast

So it came to pass that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, and as there was no room in the town the infant was laid in a manger while angels announced his birth and shepherds worshiped him as Messiah and Lord. But He incarnated to reveal to the world that he had been defeated; the great beast squats upon the throne. There would no longer be life after death, only eternal doom in the belly of the beast.

Death would have to be abolished, and immortality embraced in all possible forms. He Himself went first, enduring a year of fasting, eating only pine needles and drinking only resin, before He withdrew to a his prepared tomb. Three days later He emerged, a living mummy, and began the war to preserve the world.

One thousand years later, and from His seat in Jerusalem His unliving armies have strode the world, banishing death and life forever. At the very moment the goal of unity was achieved, however, the world shattered. Even His guidance proved inadequate when spread across the world; time and distance encouraged interpretation, diversion, and schism.

The bog mummies of Britain recognize His divine but not earthly power, maintaining as much home rule as they can. The Zoroastrian problem threatens to peel Persia and Punjab from the empire. Sacred legions, their bodies together by the armor they have been nailed into, suddenly lack the only purpose to which they are suited. At times it seems only the monastic orders remain above the slow decomposition of the world, continuing centuries of perfect meditation in sealed cells.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

In Hoc Signo Vinces

Welcome to the true Church Militant, Praetor

The sword of an angel can cut any substance, not because it is sharp, but because it is more real than any substance. Their goals are not our goals, and their judgement may be upon you at inopportune times. You can fight a demon, but always run from an angel. Remember the danger of the power of God.

Demons "exist" second-hand, manifesting in reflections, shadows, windblown dust, and of course, through possession. They enter the world through the corridor formed by two mirrors reflecting each other, from ponds still and clear as glass, and when someone dreams the right dreams.

The presence of a demon degrades reality. Possessed individuals often manifest "magical" abilities, and will slowly become more and more monstrous. Every demon or case of possession you will encounter will be unique; treat every encounter as though it was your first, and expect the unexpected.

I will see you in the field.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Dogs

Blind dogs lack both hair and eyes, but their senses of hearing and smell have both increased dramatically, allowing them to survive as skilled nocturnal hunters and scavengers. Not only do they breed true, but feral dogs will often give birth to blind dogs, ensuring their ubiquity. They can be found worldwide.

Hellhounds seem somehow to have gained traits from goats. Most noticeably, hooves and horns, as well as great dexterity on steep terrain and powerful jumps. Their primary prey are wild sheep and mountain goats. They are found in southern Europe and the middle east.

Carrion hounds have shriveled, hairless heads with with manes growing from their necks. Much like the vultures they resemble, they live by scavenging, although they will attack wounded or sick animals. They are found in the Americas, most often in mountainous regions.

Song dogs are similar to coyotes: small, cunning, and furtive. Their complex howling (from which they get their name) keeps them in constant contact with each other even over great distances, but they only meet to mate or hunt. They are found in northern Europe and Russia.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Once Human

Humanity, too, has been changed. The changes are widespread, and the causes have been difficult to determine and impossible to reverse. These changes have caused more dread and anxiety among humanity than all the other monsters combined.

Zombies (aka shadows, echoes, hollows, or blanks) are those whose conscious minds seem somehow to have “burnt out.” Zombies will maintain basic instincts, behaviors, and powerful habits, but nothing complex. They are often seen wandering in groups, moving away from danger, towards food and warmth. They do react with some intelligence towards their environment, for example, taking shelter from rain. In green zones, zombies usually survive about four months, or until winter, whichever comes first. What turns people into zombies remains a total mystery, but the phenomenon is global and constant.

Ghouls are habitual cannibals that have fallen prey to a mysterious disease, warping their features, and rendering them obligate carnivores. Their jaws lengthen, forming a short muzzle, their backs hunch, and their eyes become highly sensitive too light, forcing a nocturnal lifestyle. The disease is passed from mother to child, with affected children having all the associated changes at birth. Such children are perfectly healthy, but must suckle on blood to survive until they can handle solid food. The most popular hypothesis is that the changes are caused by prions, much like kuru, but gathering enough samples to test it has proven difficult and dangerous.

Transplants are intelligent, well-educated, and rarely with a previous history of mental illness. Every so often, these sorts of people become possessed with a powerful new drive, pushing them to abandon any previous responsibilities and delve deeply into historical, archeological, or paleontological mysteries. This lasts from five to ten years, at the end of which their old personality returns, with no memory of what had happened or why. Its cause is unknown: it is associated with a distinct pattern of neurological changes, but they seem caused by the illness instead of vice-versa.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Giant Insects Brought to Heel by Clockwork and Spikes

On display now next to the grand pavilion, the greatest insects of our world, tamed for your use by our fine clockwork!

Our insects may be large, but they will not act against their programs, guaranteed. A permanent spike destroys the escape reflex and anchors the rest of the mechanism, the remaining spikes pithing the beast in accordance with their punch-card program or your on-the-spot instructions. As sections of its nervous system are disabled and reactivated it will carry out its instructions exactly.

The NYMPH! The nymph provides a smooth seat for its rider even as it strides upon the very water! Mirror striders possess a speed and ease boats can never attain. The perfect gift for an avid fisherman.

The WEAVER! The source of that fine, inexpensive spider-silk clothing you are wearing! Just like an auto-loom, a weaver can be programmed to create any number of patterns, and don't worry, as frightening as a giant spider can be, all ours are de-fanged and non-venomous.

The DREADNOUGHT! You can enjoy the height of opulence and look out on the countryside from a luxurious howdah! An elephant beetle makes a fine platform for sightseeing, picnicking, hunting, and for our military patrons, sharpshooting and even light artillery!

The DRAGON! You'll have the best of views, safe in the grasp of the legs of one of our great dragonflies! The glass dragonflies of the south are unparalleled in their aerial agility, coursing powerfully forward, darting to and fro, or hovering in place.

The CARAVAN! The steadfast companion of every merchant! The long, sturdy millstone millipedes are capable of carrying as much cargo as three wagons, but with no need for roads. Know that your valuable cargo is safe, for nothing with this many legs will trip!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Pharming Monsters

While many of the new creatures produced by the Mi-go mutagen are aggressive, and most are hazardous in at least some way, some are also useful. In particular, many produce useful biological compounds, including medicines. Humanity is not in any position to turn these down, however strange the source.

The parasite resembles a short centipede, with long stringy mandibles. It will latch itself to an appendage and then insert its mandibles, seeking major veins or arteries. While one mandible feeds on it's hosts blood supply, the other secretes a mixture of steroids. As a result host animals are stronger, more aggressive, and more fertile, but have shortened lifespans. The parasites have become sought after as sources of the steroids they secrete, as well as experimented with as a means of augmenting soldiers.

Ghost cows have moist, translucent, ghostly white skin. The moisture, which their skin continuously secrets, is actually an antiseptic and antibiotic. The skin is relatively weak, tearing easily, but the trade off is virtual immunity to infection, as well as resistance to many parasites and diseases. A collaboration of enterprising individuals across the world are attempting to capture, tame, and raise these cows as a source of antibiotics.

Numb worms are large, snakelike leeches. They hunt by sneaking up on a target if it is still, or, if desperate, leaping at it if it is moving. Once they bite into an animal, they inject it with an anticoagulant and an anesthetic while sucking out as much blood as possible. With the bitten area rapidly numbed, the animal with struggle less, lessening the risk of it injuring the worm. Unlike leeches, numb worms do not attach themselves for as long as possible, instead voluntarily detaching once full. The potential for numb worms to be farmed as a source of anesthetic is being explored.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Biograph

Cursed the ground where dead thoughts live new and oddly bodied, and evil the mind that is held by no head. Wisely did Ibn Schacabao say, that happy is the tomb where no wizard hath lain, and happy the town at night whose wizards are all ashes. For it is of old rumour that the soul of the devil-bought hastes not from his charnel clay, but fats and instructs the very worm that gnaws...
HP Lovecraft, The Festival

The mind of a wizard is a restless, living thing. It is not the same mind as its body was born with, but is given to the wizard in life in exchange for his soul after death. It is always seeking to find and exploit secrets, and has a tenuous bond to its new owner. It is not at all uncommon, after a wizard's death, for his mind fail to die, and to seek new vessels. Many strange and unique cases of possession often follow the death of a wizard, and children born nine months after such a death always regarded with suspicion.

The mind of a wizard can be captured, however, and bound. A book, written by ritual, on vellum made from the wizard's skin, by ink made from their blood, will hold the mind, limiting its influence to those who read it. A stream of consciousness manifesto, autobiography, and spellbook, these tomes often find ways of being lost by their caretakers, then found by those more impressionable. Many wizards began their careers by finding one of these books.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

USA

There are many parallels between the USA and the USSR. The United States were forced to abandon the west coast as the Rocky Mountains turned into one of the world's largest red zones. The federal government will not give up on reunification, but their control is spotty west of the Mississippi, and nonexistent west of the Rockies, with California now all but independent.

Much of the Midwest is also approaching red zone status. A new dust bowl, firestorms, and a seven year cycle of locust swarms all compete to destroy vital farmland. Well-to-do settlements in these regions are built underground, protecting them from these many disasters. Most of these are typical bunker complexes, but the most distinctive are the silo towns, built in decommissioned nuclear silos.

Most major cities contain white zones in the form of domes or arcologies, the most well known of which are the Manhattan Enclosure, the National Mall, the Chicago Towers, and the Orland Stilts. Aside from the Rockies, the largest red zones are the Louisiana bayou, the Florida everglades, and many sections of the Appalachian mountains.

America refuses to be defensive. No established politician will publicly give up on reunification. The less able they are to guarantee internal security, the more aggressively they advocate it.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Sin Eater

When I was young, my sister went missing. There was a terrible blizzard, yet she went out of her hutch and into the storm. I was the sin eater, so the people told me I must spend my life well if I died finding her. I followed her trail and found her when the storm cleared, on her knees, staring up at the aurora with tears in her eyes.

Soon, she gave birth. The people told me to erase the crime of the aurora by eating the sky-child. This was their mistake. I had been fed on the weaknesses of the people, but the sky-child was strong. After I have eaten the rest of the people, I will go out and find greater strengths to devour.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Antherds

The edges of the high desert are riddled with colonies of giant ants and their erstwhile symbiotes, the antherder clans. Pheromones mark them as friends, and keep the soldiers from antherder living quarters. Antherders can be recognized by their carapace gas-masks, which which keep the stinging sand from their eyes, and built up pheromones from their lungs.

The relationship between the colony and the antherders benefits both. The antherders are immune to the diseases and fungi that occasionally plague colonies; in the very old colonies, with very old relationships with antherders, the workers will bring them corpses, malformed larvae, and rejected food. The antherders gain food, protection, and items for trade. All of the clans practice their own styles of chitin-work, bending it into everything from armor to woks.

Sometimes a small child will saturated with the right mix of pheromones, and the ants will recognize it as a larvae. They will be taken and raised by the colony. They do their best to mimic the giant creatures, learning their values from observation. Sometimes they learn human languages by stalking and eavesdropping on antherders. When they are old enough, and lose their fear, they may reintroduce themselves to the human community. Their thoughts are now too different to ever be an antherder, but they are encourage to try to explain themselves, and their words are recorded.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Chrysler 1000

It's the most breathtaking powered armor to wear you've ever known! You'll be off and away in this brilliant new low-slung beauty to the throaty roar of 1,000 horsepower - the greatest, most dependable power in the American army. You'll feel the same thrill that America's elite armed forces enjoy... the same light-handed, light-footed control and ground-gripping security.

In a Chrysler 1000 you can enjoy the same flashing performance that brought Berlin to its knees in '45 - plus the reliable endurance and maneuverability that saw our boys through the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. For the sleek and stunning new Chrysler 1,000... in regular, though limited production... has the same look, feel, and reliability that have made the Chrysler name famous among the armed forces of the nations of the west.

Bring this ad to your Chrysler-Plymouth dealer and receive a free shoulder-mounted Browning M2!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

USSR

The lands west of the Urals and east of the Vistula are now some of the least habitable on Earth, approximately 60% yellow zones and 20% red. Western Russia is an autonomous zone, a patchwork of communes, city-states, and simple chaos. Moscow itself is a red zone, where human life only continues underground. East of the Urals, however, the USSR persists.

Vladivostok is the new capital of the new USSR. Government officials, along with vital civilians, live in a large bunker complex beneath the city. The only remnants of communism are aesthetic: emblems on uniforms and statues. The USSR is spartan, a military state, devoted to and dominated by a military hierarchy.

The cyclical plagues, allergen storms, and toxic rains that render so much of the Earth uninhabitable have largely spared Siberia and central Asia. Mutant animals, however, are more common, especially the giants: gigantic, unique monsters which range across the land. Although the USSR retains a greater ability to wage conventional war than most nations, much of its military is therefore focused on monster hunting and defense.

The USSR has a major technological advantage in the form of live, friendly elder things, retrieved from Antarctica and revived. Deep below the rest of the Vladivostok bunkers, the progenitors tutor their accidental children in the arts of hypnosis, applied neurology, and artificial intelligence. All USSR soldiers are hypnotically fortified, and more and more of their vehicles are assisted or automated by brain-chips, making for a psychologically sturdy military.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Melds

"Melds" is a broad term, referring to a type of extreme aberration among ungulates. Every so often, a horse, deer, donkey, or similar, will have a baby so deformed the only thing it seems to have in common with its parents are its use of the same anatomical parts. The mothers have never survived the birth, even when under veterinary care. The melds themselves always seem unhealthy, often suffering from infections, old wounds that never quite heal, cysts, and boils. At the same time, they can be very difficult to kill.

This phenomena is not known to occur among any group other than ungulates, and does not happen to all ungulates. Each species gives birth to its own type of meld, so although the melds themselves seem sterile, they continue to survive as groups. The cause and mechanism of these changes are unknown.

Horse-melds are most easily identified by their large, frog-like legs. More typical horse legs sprout from their body at odd angles, only partially functional but able to help move food into their mouths, located in the center of their abdomens. Their mouths are flanked by extra jawbones, complete with teeth, apparently useless.

Donkey-melds are characterized first and foremost by bone. Their heads are bare skulls with cracked jaws spreading horizontally like mandibles; the only flesh visible is the eyes, tongue, and esophagus. They have a bone exoskeleton, almost insect-like, but with invariable fractures, infections, and growths. Each leg is split in two, so that it walks on eight bone spikes.

Deer-melds have a body plan similar to that of typical deer, but the devil is in the details. They are constantly trembling, although they are swift runners and rarely seen to fall. Their antlers curve down and forward, ending below and ahead of their mouths. Their hunting strategy is to impale small animals on their antlers, then allow them to rot, eating them once sufficiently softened. Flies can invariably be found following them, and they are always riddled with parasites.

Notes

Inspired by Pripyat Beast by Keith Thompson

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Goblinoid Menu

To the goblinoids, plants are for medicine and spices. Eating plants as food would be like trying to get drunk on water. Food is raw liver, brain soups, and lots and lots of roasts. Food is meat.

Goblinoids all enjoy hunting, and maintain some forested areas as game preserves, but the majority of food comes from great herds of auroch and boar. A large minority of goblinoids make their living off of cattle, rounding them up for slaughter, killing monsters that threaten them, clearing land for them, or stealing them.

The shift from humanoid plant-based diets to goblinoid meat-based ones has caused a shift in the entire landscape. The great herds of cattle eat their way across the landscape, leaving only the thorny and poisonous plants untouched. Deforestation is occurring rapidly and deliberately, as trees are cleared and burned to expand grazing lands. Floods and brushfires are becoming more common. A rough, goblinoid equilibrium is asserting itself.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

UNSEC

The security council became the stability council, and now the sustained emergency council. Most of the rest of the UN has fallen away, but UNSEC remains. It servers as a meeting place for national governments and an avenue for mutual aid. The UNSEC can act directly when requested by a member state, in which case it does so through the OS, the Office of Stability. The UNSEC-OS, to give the full acronym, employers military, political, economic and scientific advisors, a rapid reaction force, an investigation arm, and, unofficially, an espionage arm.

UNSEC classifies the world according to politics and habitability. Politically, Earth can be divided into member states, non-member states, and "uncontrolled zones". Prominent member states include the US, USSR, European Union, New Columbia, Angola, Egypt and China. Prominent non-member states include Taiwan, Argentina, South Africa, and Nepal. Prominent uncontrolled zones include western North America between the Mississippi and the Rockies, eastern Europe between Warsaw and the Urals, the Amazon basin, the Indian subcontinent, the Congo, the Sahara desert, and Australia. Uncontrolled zones have no overarching organization, and can be composed of every type of small human society ever conceived, from cartels to cults.

The world is also divided into zones of habitability. "White" zones are controlled environments, such as domed cities, arcologies, and bunkers. "Green" zones are suitable for permanent habitation and agriculture. "Yellow" zones are suitable for long-term habitation, albeit with reduced life-spans and elevated risks of violent death. "Red" zones are suitable only for short-term habitation, and can be dangerous even to travel through. "Black" zones are fortunately rare, zones from which few have returned and which remain mysterious except for surveillance from a distance.

Notes

The default path for PCs is to be members of the OS, which gives them an excuse to get involved in just about anything.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Spam

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Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Halls of the Mountain-Kings


The dwarfs had always been isolationists, and with the curse killing the human world they had a reason to indulge their most paranoid instincts. The gates of their great halls were sealed, but that was only a temporary solution. Once they had a reasonable semblance of security, they fell restarted all their old feuds. Now, however, the old arguments were framed by a larger concern: how to survive. The surface world would not be reconquered, that was agreed. They must reclaim their most ancient heritage and seek self-sufficiency underground. The dwarven kingdoms almost erupted in civil war over how this could best be done.

Eventually, it was decided that every hall should be allowed to take its own path. A single strategy would either fail or succeed, but out of one hundred strategies, surely at least one would succeed. They constructed great vaults, each with its own strategy for self-sufficiency, survival, and security.

Many vaults have been discovered by adventurers over the years. They are treasure troves of technology, magic, and lore, but the one thing they have in common is a lack of living dwarves. So far, no successful vault has been discovered. What has been discovered includes a vault shielded against all magic that developed sophisticated gearwork and explosive powder, a massive terrarium vault containing the last of the thunder lizards, and a populated vault, populated not by dwarves but by intelligent fungi that seem to have hijacked their bodies. There are surely many others.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Coins

The ancient city-state Sansalem is ruled by many courts. Each court funds itself and its activities by minting coins. In theory, this prevents any one court from holding total power, as the more costly their activities, the more they inevitably devalue their currency. For example, the military funds wars with its own coins, marked by a vulture clutching a bundle of arrows, while the state religion uses coins whittled from wood. Crowns, minted by the king, can only be exchanged for other coins, not used to purchase things in and of themselves, and are used by the king to influence the value of other coins.

The islanders of the Cayenna archipelago use the shells of a certain species of beetle. The beetle filters numerous metals out of the ground to make its shells, resulting in concave disks of nickle, iron, silver and gold. Since trade with the outside world began, every village maintains at least one colony of them, still sticking to traditional barter internally. Several trading companies have bought live beetles and attempted to breed them back home, but they can be delicate, and none have survived the journey.

Ammandu is an isolated land of ancient and deeply held superstitions, among them, a dislike of all forms of money. Recently, however, they were conquered by the Empire of Thunder, and as part of their assimilation, they were required to adopt a provincial currency. They followed the letter of the law, while flaunting its spirit. All their coins have prime values (eg 3, 7, 13, 19, 29...) so that making exact change is as difficult as possible. They are now developing a new set of superstitions, on who receives the extra change.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Year of Plague and Plenty

At first it seemed like some old testament blessing. Forests began rapidly reclaiming land, crops seemed to grow as fast as they could be planted, and every birth was twins. Any joy at what seemed good fortune was restrained by paranoia at the strangeness of events, a paranoia that would prove justified. The inexplicable fertility boost applied to life of all types and every scale, and soon crops were being devoured by pests as soon as they could be planted, fruit rotted on the vine, and every birth revealed a new type of birth defect. The year of plenty was the precursor to the "the terrible winter", when food stores proved inadequate, the triple flu burned the world, and half of humanity died.

Then changes began to appear in larger forms of life. Animals with birth defects began to survive, even interbreed, becoming new species. There are, for example, the blind dogs, eyeless but with incredible hearing and smell, which have largely supplanted coyotes and wild dogs. Earth's ecosystems now include carrion monkeys, horse-melds, gossamer spiderlings, and many, many others. Some breed true, others appear to be unique. Humans are not immune to these changes.

Food now is a source of continual paranoia. Crops are often lost to diseases or pests. When harvested, foods are immediately placed in sealed containers. They are not removed until necessary for processing, at which point they will be examined for infections, sterilized (typically by UV light), and repackaged for sale, typically in clear plastic containers. The only truly trusted food sources are the sterile vertical farms of the white zones, and even then, the most popular cooking technique is thorough boiling.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Creation of Men

If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.
Voltaire

The bunker is old. Larger than it needs to be and virtually self-sufficient, built for the worst possible wars. Even before the worst came to pass, the scientists who live there rarely left. With every trip to the surface revealing only greater reasons for despair, they buried themselves deeper and deeper in their work.

Their project had been the creation of a proof-of-concept for super-soldiers. As large as possible a spectrum of ideas and techniques were collected and tried. Genetic engineering, psychological engineering, in-utero surgical modification, drug glands, lifelong 24-hour training regimes, even fringe ideas like sensory deprivation while on psychedelics and nested coming-of-age ceremonies, both designed to impart a lasting paranoia about even the most basic facts of reality.

Finally, with all avenues explored, they realized they could proceed no farther without putting their methods into practice. Producing super-soldiers was now pointless, but they were terrified at suddenly living without an explicit goal. Finally the solution came to them. The world above was chaos, cults and clans in slow decline. It needed unity, purpose and leadership. They must create hope. They must make a god.

God's genes are a human ideal, and God's brain chemically shaped from the moment of conception and has been in an induced meditation for as God has had a brain. God was born into satori, never to leave, from there to unite humanity, to lead humanity, and to reshape humanity. Soon the bunker doors will open, and a bright light will spill out.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Dragons' Empire

Half of the ten dragons of the world joined, and became the Pentarchy. They crushed and conquered, destroyed and then created, until they had made a great empire in the south. They have given their empire no name and will admit to none for themselves. They are only called the Gold, the Silver, the Bronze, the Blue, and the Green.

Reptilians

The vast majority of the dragons' empire are reptilians, organized into a race-based class system.

At the top is the Pentarchy. The dragons' power, both personal and political, approaches godlike. Each dragon is unique, but can be briefly described by its niche in the empire. The Gold is a philospher-king, defining the virtues and values of empire society. The Silver is the master of masters, the greatest of scholars and craftsmen. The Bronze is the lawmaker and supreme judge. The Blue is spymaster and practitioner of realpolitik. Finally, the Green is a great hero, often leading the empire's armies, investigating mysteries, or solving problems for the people.

Second are the blooded. To be blooded means that you descend from a dragon, but this is not defined by who your ancestors were. You are blooded if and only if you manifest sorcerous powers as a result of your ancestry. If you manifest no magic, you are not blooded, even if you were fully half-dragon. Blooded are the only legal practitioners of magic.

Third are lizardmen, humanoid lizards averaging 2 feet tall, with small, beady eyes, they have great patience, a dulled sense of pain, and require little in the way of sleep or sustenance. They are the workers and soldiers on which the empire can depend.

Last are kobolds, child-sized lizards with large, snake-like eyes and great flexibility. They are noted for having no teeth, their diet consisting of small animals and large insects swallowed whole, although stews are becoming popular. They have much the same role in the dragons' empire as goblins do in goblinoid society.

Empire Society


The empire is a designed society. The dragons took scattered tribes, broke them, and rebuilt them. The empire has no state religion, because in many ways the empire is a religion. Virtue is defined by the Gold, justice by the Bronze, value by the Silver, truth by the Blue, and valor by the Green.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The City of the Dead

The ancient people lovingly preserved the bodies of their honored dead, burying them in deep vaults.  At their side, statues of servants and animals to serve in the afterlife. The labor of millennia has expanded the vaults into a cavernous under-land. Deep beneath the desert, the dead have created their own paradise.

They have nothing but time, and endless practice has made them the greatest artisans of the world. The simple linens they were first wrapped in have been traded for fabrics of infinitesimally complex patterns. Every inch of their vaults and caverns are carved, from life-sized bas-relief to immaculate filigree. Their highest art, its origins stretching back to their beginnings, is the creation of living statues.

Their are no plants or animals in the land of the dead, but it does not seem so from a distance. The dead have refined the creation of living statues over long aeons, and having made enough servitors for many aeons more, have turned their efforts towards decoration. The caverns are filled with trees of stone and iron, in forms both realistic and fantastical. Animals move everywhere, playing at hunting and eating, while the whistling of glass birds fills the air. It seems alive.

The caverns are cold. The inhabitants ancient and desiccated, hiding themselves behind many layers of fabric. They have aged past boredom and passion. They have created their own afterlife, and surely, as they often tell themselves, tarnished gold is better than no gold at all.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Methods of the Mi-go

The Mi-go lack most of what might be expected from interstellar travelers. They have no spaceships or spacesuits, nor do they use buildings or vehicles of any kind. Mi-go tools are custom grown appendages, ready to be re-absorbed and re-made at will. Their bodies can withstand the interstellar depths, and they grow massive, wing-like solar sails for propulsion. The Mi-go long ago became masters of practical biology, and have never stopped refining themselves.

The Mi-go focus on biology is the key to their interest in Earth. They are not seeking water, metals, or radioactive material, they are seeking life. Humans are of interest, but they are also a growing threat to Mi-go activity. The attempted American moon landing, although a tragic failure, was a turning point for the Mi-go. They could no longer remain hidden simply by keeping to the impenetrable mountains. The human problem would have to be solved.

Above every other goal in this war, above even victory, is the Mi-go determination to remain hidden. Second, again above victory, is the preservation of a diverse biosphere for future exploitation. The Mi-go wish to take humanity to the edge of extinction with a soft touch.

The Mi-go attack, like everything else of theirs, is biological. The introduction of a carefully engineered mutagen to Earth is turning animals into monsters. Every week there is a new disease, someone spots a strange new beast, or a strange new carcass washes up on the beach. From the bacteria up, Earth is swiftly becoming an alien planet.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Shipbreakers

A strict hierarchy has been maintained, for eons, by the strength of claws against the strength of shells. The ability to kill and resist being killed are all that determines status. Winners devour losers, strengthening their shells and claws with with cannibalized minerals.

They lack whatever that certain something is that allows for true originality. All of their technology is trial-and-error derivations on the scavenged work of others. They would never have left their planet, were it not for the unfortunate crash of a survey vessel. They discovered the wreck, and applied their stubborn form of non-intelligence to it. Within the century, they were starfarers.

Emergency beacons from long lost ships draw victims towards isolated asteroids, and would-be salvagers and rescuers alike find themselves in a rapidly strengthening gravity well, until they are crushed against the surface. Then the shipbreakers will emerge, never engaging in combat, but attacking survivors indirectly, sabotaging life support, setting traps, and waiting. When there are no more survivors, they will disassemble the wreck, reset their trap, and begin to reverse engineer anything new.

Now their shells are steel and their claws are torn from military robots, but they still live by their ancient code: take the strengths of those you kill, hide from those you can't.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Tusk and Fang

The curse spread like a plague, and the dead piled up faster than they could be burned. Humans, half-orcs, half-elves, and halflings are extinct, elves and gnomes have withdrawn into faerie, and the dwarves have sealed themselves in their holds. The goblinoid races find themselves, for the first time, with breathing room. Now is the age of tusks and fangs.

Goblinoids

There are four principle goblinoid races: goblins, hobgoblins, orcs, and ogres.

Goblins are small, with an ape-like stature and long arms. They are typically hairless, with jet-black eyes. They are prolific, hardy, and seem ever-present. They are the smallest of the goblinoid races and often coerced into labor whenever someone larger needs something done.

Hobgoblins are also hairless, are usually pale white or gray, and are always tall and lanky. Their most recognizable features are their earlessness and cat eyes. A majority of hobgoblins live in militia: mercenary cartels who live like Spartans and fight like landsknechts.

Orcs resemble neanderthals, with sloped foreheads and pronounced jaws, teeth, and noses. They are most often hairy, with reddish-brown skin. They are the most human of the goblinoids, once even interbreeding with humans.

Ogres come in two types. The majority are large and stocky, usually between 3 and 4 meters tall, with goat horns and goat eyes. In every litter there is a "magi", hornless and scrawny, who rarely survive childhood. When they do however, they have never failed to become geniuses, and have define many aspects of their society. It was ogre magi who formed the ogre banks, and an ogre magi who created the goblin script.

Goblinoid Society

Goblinoid society is not unified, and is composed of clans, petty kingdoms, and city-states, based on medieval Germany and eastern Europe. Few formal organizations last long, although the ogre banks and hobgoblin militia are notable exceptions.

The goblinoid races were never considered "civilized", in part because they have little interest in the heavenly and ethereal. They still remain interested primarily in their surroundings and their bodies. Old, "savage" traditions are maintained, but have been steadily refined and innovated. Body modification has especially blossomed, expanding from a ritual demonstration of pain tolerance to beautiful forms of tattooing, piercings and body paint.

Notes

Inspired by this thread from /tg/.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Very Old Trees

Trees are the oldest and most hateful of all living things. Hateful not towards animals, as the trees themselves generated them for their own benefit. Hateful instead towards the people, the descendants of invading gods. The trees had lived for eternity in a perfect garden, until the people came with their gods' fire.

From the deepest shadows of their woods the trees birthed snakes, wolves, and elves. The forests became places of danger, places from which few returned. The people huddled together in their towns and cities, burning their surroundings out of fear, and slowly starving.

It was the druids who first pierced the dominion of the trees. Druids walked into the forest in the forms of animals, enslaved the plants and confined them to fields, tricked the animals into taming themselves, and struck down the trees with lightning and fire.

Now the cities of the people are well fed, served by animals and surrounded by fields. Those with the right skills can even venture into the woods, and return with hunted animals and cut plants. Yet there are still and will always be, the very deep woods, places where only druids can venture and return.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Strange Aeon

...everyone felt that the world and perhaps the universe had passed from the control of known gods or forces to that of gods or forces which were unknown.

HP Lovecraft, Nyarlathotep

Strange Aeon

The galaxy has been, for billions of years and at all scales of power, perception, intelligence and activity, overrun with life. The geometry of reality gives spontaneous rise to minds and organisms, and they beget infinite variations of their kinds. Escaped experiments learn to breed, autonomous systems outgrow and abandon their creators, patterns self-select and iterate into extinction, ‘gods’ billions of years old delineate a living space in lesser minds, time and mutation turn every individual into an ecosystem, and always, new and ancient races build and fight and die.

Earth is no exception.

Timeline


after At the Mountains of Madness:

The Starkweather-Moore expedition recovers the Miskatonic antarctic expedition, and with them, the ancient city, its frozen inhabitants, and the secret origin of humankind. Despite attempts at secrecy, rumors, descriptions, and eventually images of the city make their way into the public eye. Still, skepticism rules, especially after the failures of subsequent expeditions.

What the public doesn't know is that a secret expedition was made, and eleven of the frozen "Elder Things" have been transported back to the USSR and carefully revived. With no other apparent options, the relatively genteel ancient beings resign themselves to tutoring their strange spinoffs. The USSR begins making strange jumps in the fields of cognitive science, hypnosis/subliminal messaging, AI, and biological enhancement.

after Shadow Over Innsmouth:

The raids on Innsmouth and Devil's Reef inspire a government conspiracy to investigate and counter the threat of the "Deep Ones". This conspiracy wages a secret war, and striking at the deep ones in their cities with underwater atomic "tests". The scattered survivors strike back against islands, coastlines, and ships. Coastlines must be either fortified or abandoned, and every sailor learns to keep weapons close to hand. The secret war continues.

all the while:


The "Mi-go", who for so long have secretly exploited the resources of Earth, are alarmed by the sudden acceleration in human science and technology. Unwilling to abandon even a backwater mining colony, they resolve, in a careful and peculiar manner, to engineer the extinction of the human race. Mi-go priorities are first, to eliminate the emerging threat of humanity, second, to remain hidden and unknown to their victims, third, to preserve Earth's resources for exploitation, and fourth, if possible, to preserve humanity for study and exploitation. Therefore they do not invade, assault, or bombard, but begin engineering Earth's biosphere into a hostile force.

now:

The year is 2001. The remnant nations of the 20th century maintain themselves with the aid of the United Nations Sustained Emergency Committee (UNSEC). The rest of humanity resides in collectives, city-states, cult towns, and anarchies both deliberate and desperate. Earth is an alien planet, we are stranded, and adaptation might be worse than extinction. It is the beginning of the Strange Aeon.

Notes

Strange Aeon is my take on a world where humanity spent the 20th century coming face-to-face with a Lovecraftian universe, and flounders in ever more social, scientific, and even metaphysical chaos. Every day there is a new cult, disease, or monster, and the world passes steadily beyond the human .

Think of it as CthulhuTech, with a re-imagined Lovecraftian mythos, but replacing the anime influences with, among others, Charles Stross' A Colder War, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky's Roadside Picnic, and David Gerrold's The War Against the Chtorr.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Reboot

I am restarting Seedware as a blog for worldbuilding ideas, both fantasy and scifi.

I plan on making two posts per weekend, one on Saturday and one on Sunday.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Finish

Seedware is done. I had to focus on other things for a while and it is very hard to get back into the habit of daily writing once broken. Not one entry per day as I hoped, but I'm still pretty pleased with 306.

For anyone interested, here are my notes. Please feel free to use them however you like!