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Author Topic: The Cadaverous Earth - Beginner's Guide and FAQ  (Read 3308 times)
Spawn of Ungoliant
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« on: March 07, 2009, 10:57:56 PM »

The Cadaverous Earth - Beginner's Guide and FAQ

Following Luminous Crayon's setting primer tactic for the (brilliant) Jade Stage, here's a relatively brief introduction for the Cadaverous Earth: it's now developed pretty substantially (over 60 000 words, roughly 135 pages, at the time of writing, including the stories and adventure outlines), far beyond what I initially expected.  While I'm striving for a very detailed setting, it does make for the dread wall o' text, and while the introduction does serve as a decent opening to the setting it isn't intended as a synopsis per se.

I'll likely update this thread every now and then, especially if CE undergoes any significant transformations.  Please feel free to post questions and comments here and on the main thread.  Here also is an IRC Q&A for the Cadaverous Earth.

World Synopsis

The World Is Old; Very Old - The Cadaverous Earth riffs off the Dying Earth subgenre, which itself might be seen as an outgrowth of post-apocalyptic fiction.  There have been dozens upon dozens of cataclysms, wars, empires, etc.  Continents have sunk and risen; species died out or evolved.  A vast palimpsest of civilizations lies beneath the surface of the world - an endless, largely forgotten history.  As a result motifs of the setting include decay, death, and ruin.

Technology and Magic Are Nearly Indistinguishable, Ubiquitous, and Largely Misunderstood - Clockwork, biotechnology, eldritch experimentation, grafting, necromancy, diabolism, steam-power, arcane tattooing, electricity, gas-power, divination, mysticism, and psionics are all present to one degree or another and often mingle, merge, and conflate.

Undead Are People Too - Many of the undead, or 'grave-spawn,' of the Cadaverous Earth are sentient and relatively non-malevolent: while some city-states classify them as second-class citizens or even abominations, most accept them as valid members of society.  Ghouls - or ghilan - are a playable race; vampiric industrialists control vast territories; rotting corpses made animate by extra planar parasites, ancient incubi masquerading as handsome young men, and shuffling, psychically dominated zombies rub shoulders with living humans on a day-to-day basis.  Because grave-spawn are largely nocturnal (with a few notable exceptions), this leads to the development of cities that never truly sleep - Twilight Cities.

Carrion Crawlers Were a Major Cultural Force - The now-defunct cestoid Imperium, an incredibly powerful regime of horrifying wormfolk very roughly analogous to carrion crawlers in the Cadaverous Earth, once reigned over the majority of the known earth.  Their bizarre, hideous, non-Euclidean subterranean cities still exist, slowly collapsing under the weight of the world above; many of the races that populate the world may be former slave-species of the cestoids.  Now the cestoids are a pariah race, barely tolerated in the Twilight Cities, driven into the sewers.

The Bizarre and the Macabre Are Commonplace - Anthropomorphic eels, spiders, and leeches; mercenaries with stitched-on limbs from otherworldly monstrosities; walking corpses, clockwork androids, and leashed demons; psychic rifts into the collective unconscious, portals to Hell-dimensions, and a plain whose geography flows like molten wax.

General Themes

Strange Shit - The Cadaverous Earth is decidedly non-Tolkienian.  It aims for an aura of weirdness, horror, nausea, and baroque grandeur.  Its creatures are chimerical, its denizens decadent and often outright depraved, its aesthetic grotesque in the extreme.

Urban Space - The nine Twilight Cities form hubs for the setting, loci for adventure and exploration.  Most people live in the cities - Somnambulon, Dolmen, Crepuscle, Skein, Erebh, Marainein, Macellaria, Lophius, and Moroi.  The cities are ancient, titanic, and often dystopian, or at least violent and unsettling.  Cloak-and-dagger intrigue, back alley scuffling, political manoeuvring, and similarly urban interactions abound.  The cities themselves are dark, Gothic, and brooding, though often colourful and carnival as well.

The Huge Wasteland - Beyond the Twilight Cities are the Slaughter-lands, a vast, unforgiving waste that's been devastated by natural, arcane, and technological disasters innumerable times.  It's an enormous graveyard, haunted by demons, nightmares, hostile undead, and similar monsters.  The only rain is red as blood and turns people into murderous horrors.  The only oases are cancerous forests that consume any who venture within.

Life Continues - For all its darkness and despair, the Cadaverous Earth remains a(n) (un)living world.  Its inhabitants fight, fuck, feed, and fall in love.  Life continue to thrive, consume, and perpetuate itself in an increasingly diverse array of forms.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2011, 09:58:40 AM by Steerpike » Logged


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« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2009, 04:28:15 PM »

Very nice summary Steerpike.  I haven't had a much time to keep up on the worlds that really interest me and this has helped me realize that I need to find/make the time to read and post here again. The creativity of this group is astonishing as is the quality of the writing.
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« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2009, 05:27:01 PM »

Glad it was helpful smile.  There really is an often stunning display of creativity on these boards.
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« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2009, 09:01:11 AM »

Nicely done and well put together.  Sometimes the bigger settings suffer from TMI, but you put down a firm foundation with this thread.
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« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2009, 09:36:32 PM »

Vreeg's Bordeaux

Sometimes the bigger settings suffer from TMI

The irony that you of all people would say this! ;)
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« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2009, 10:17:39 PM »

sparkletwist


Vreeg's Bordeaux

Sometimes the bigger settings suffer from TMI

The irony that you of all people would say this! ;)

Hey, just because I am afflicted does not mean I cannot see the disease.  I have been told far too many times that a reader 'does not know where to start', and having totally understood this, I applaud SP's attempt to clarify.  It's not ironic if it is understood and intended.  
 Slightly depressing, however, yes.  
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Old, evil, twisted, damaged, and afflicted.  Orbis non sufficit.Thread Murderer Extraordinaire, and supposedly pragmatic...\"That is my interpretation. That the same rules designed to reduce the role of the GM and to empower the player also destroyed the autonomy to create a consistent setting. And more importantly, these rules reduce the Roleplaying component of what is supposed to be a \'Fantasy Roleplaying game\' to something else\"-Vreeg

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« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2009, 04:02:02 PM »

This looks delightful! I love when a story-teller has the cojones to dedicate to a theme, and to stick to an idea; This game will be creepy and horrific. If a player wants a dungeon-crawling laugh-out-loud beer and pretzel game, look elsewhere! If they wanted high fantasy with elves and dwarves and druids, move along! Generic games try to make everyone happy, and leave me unhappy. But this, this makes me happy!

When you can really get into something - like this macabre industrialized strange grave world - when you can put effort into it, that's when you get truly valuable results.

I applaud you, sir, and look forward to browsing more of your ideas! Hopefully they're all Halloweeny!
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« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2009, 08:23:05 PM »

Thank you!  There a few more themes posted in the main thread (in the first post) if you're interested in that sort of thing particularly.
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« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2009, 08:54:36 PM »

Your setting is totally getting a hardcore tribute/reference/guest appearance/thing in The Nightmare/The Other Side. I just wanted you to know the awesomeness that is.
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« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2011, 10:26:07 PM »

VLox

If a player wants a dungeon-crawling laugh-out-loud beer and pretzel game, look elsewhere


Amusingly, the logs of the playthroughs actually have become hilarious in a grim Catch-22 black humor sort of way. I find myself laughing quite often. laugh Somewhat odd how GrimDarkness can result in that--don't find myself laughing much in Mage or Werewolf, alternatively.

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« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2011, 11:26:03 PM »

Light Dragon


VLox

If a player wants a dungeon-crawling laugh-out-loud beer and pretzel game, look elsewhere


Then you obviously never play with a good Corax or Nuwisha hanging around laugh

You have a point with the humor, though. I do laugh out loud at some of the antics of the game, though it is certainly a much darker humor than most other games. Kaius fits the deadpan snarker to the letter-- so whenever he makes his snide little comments, I find it hard not to be amused. And Wispy, though for very different reasons. The levity suits it though, as it helps keep the game from feeling grossly dark, especially when we are also faced with Mantis-Man versus The (Face) Devourer-- which was pretty damn tense and suspenseful.
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« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2011, 06:21:51 PM »

Wow, how did I miss this way back when?  This is awesome Steerpike.  Well condensed for those of us who have trouble wading through the wall of text.  I really think the active role of undead is fascinating.  I am interested in seeing more about the Cestoids, and the bizarre mish-mash of technolomagy
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