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Author Topic: The Cadaverous Earth  (Read 64896 times)
Spawn of Ungoliant
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« Reply #30 on: November 08, 2008, 03:32:25 AM »

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What do I picture? How do I put it best? When I read these stories I envision a decrepit world festering with the boils of catastrophe and chaos. A realm falling apart, dead though it doesn't yet know it. Everything seems overly gaudy. Like a corpse touched up with makeup or an zombie clown. Like it refuses to acknowledge its sorry state and instead covers up with a false show of color and beauty. I don't know if that is what you were hoping for but that is the feeling it generates with me.


That's exactly the feel I'm going for, a combination of lurid energy and the extremely macabre, grotesques in a hideous masquerade...
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Planar Grazer
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« Reply #31 on: November 09, 2008, 04:07:46 PM »

Steerpike


 

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Responding to an older post:

 [blockquote=Llum]Whenever I think of this setting, I always get the picture of a bleak, gray wasteland. Can't help it, the two are tied together![/blockquote]

Bleak, gray wasteland pretty much sums up the Slaughter-lands half of the setting!  The other half would be the gigantic, more colourful cities, though of course they possess their own particular horror.



Ya, whenever I picture something, I'm never able to imagine cities, they tend to just slide off my mind unless I really focus on them. I remember thinking about your setting and remembered a book I read, Scar Night by Alan Campbell. It's somewhat similar to your work, in feel at least. Just wondering if you've ever read it.

Also just want to say that the Slouching Devil mountains are great, I really liked Highspire and the mention of some famous mercenaries. However I did have a question, since the fossils are poisonous (kinda magic radiation poisoning it seems), wouldn't just transporting them from the mountains to the towns be a huge hassle? And them just sitting in market, I guess depending on the range that could really cause a lot of havoc. I'm also wondering, when their made into items, weapons and what not, do they lose the radiation?
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Spawn of Ungoliant
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« Reply #32 on: November 09, 2008, 05:13:10 PM »

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Transporting the bones is a huge hassle - they're generally sheathed in warded metal and packing in an attempt to contain the Slow Plague.  Limited exposure rarely does much harm, though.

Ur-fossils are rarely if ever sold in their raw form in marketplaces.  When properly treated (carved with glyphs), the radiation gets "channeled" or redirected; its still there, but it no longer seeps off in random, chaotic, undirected ways, rather being harnessed to power a weapon/engine/construct/what-have-you.  So properly crafted items made from ur-fossils don't cause Slow Plague, but untreated, raw fossils do if one is exposed closely to them for long enough.

 

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remember thinking about your setting and remembered a book I read, Scar Night by Alan Campbell. It's somewhat similar to your work, in feel at least. Just wondering if you've ever read it.


I have read Scar Night (though not yet its sequel, Iron Angel I believe its called...).  I liked some elements of it very much, particularly the  small, incredibly creepy section with the demons and the labyrinth, the underword sections, and the descriptions of urban space.  I quite liked the poisoner character and Carnival (who inspired the Goremother to some extent); the rest of the characters I found rather bland and one-dimensional.  I prefer Mieville, Peake, Lynch, Leiber, and Bishop to Campbell for urban fantasy, but I'm sure some bits were influenced by him.  The Talon district in Lophius steals from Scar Night quite directly, and the more gothic elements of some of the cities probably owe something to Deepgate, though New Crobuzon, Gormenghast, Ashamoil, and Camorr are probably there more than Campbell's city (at least, I have them more in mind than Deepgate).
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Spawn of Ungoliant
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« Reply #33 on: November 11, 2008, 09:11:52 PM »

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Naghini added to the Inhumans section - a more reclusive race than many of the others posted.
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Spawn of Ungoliant
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« Reply #34 on: November 13, 2008, 04:44:14 PM »

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Added an entry on zombies to the grave-spawn section.  Typical in some senses, though I'm erring very much on the side of worker/servant zombies as opposed to the brain-eating dead...
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Gibbering Mouther
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« Reply #35 on: November 14, 2008, 01:45:09 PM »

A truly brilliant setting, Steerpike.  I think you've created a new category of fantasy roleplaying - Visceral Barroque.  
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Spawn of Ungoliant
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« Reply #36 on: November 14, 2008, 04:31:50 PM »

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Visceral Baroque - I love it!  Though I think you may be giving me too much credit; I'm very much emulating a lot of fantasy authors, and steampunk worlds with an urban gothic/baroque feel are getting quite common these days.  Not that Cadaverous Earth is a purely steampunk setting (though it borrows a few elements from steampunk)...
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Gibbering Mouther
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« Reply #37 on: November 16, 2008, 12:03:26 PM »

Steerpike


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Visceral Baroque - I love it!  Though I think you may be giving me too much credit; I'm very much emulating a lot of fantasy authors, and steampunk worlds with an urban gothic/baroque feel are getting quite common these days.  Not that Cadaverous Earth is a purely steampunk setting (though it borrows a few elements from steampunk)...



I have'nt read that genre of literature, so I can't comment.  However, I can comment on the setting you've presented in your thread, and I thought it was genuinely breath-taking.  
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Spawn of Ungoliant
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« Reply #38 on: November 17, 2008, 05:40:53 PM »

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Skein has been added to the first page.  It's sort of meant to be a cross between a Gigersque cityscape and  Restoration London with a touch of Imperial China and a lashing of Victorian steampunk.

I've also added demographic breakdowns for the various Twilight Cities posted so far, and a small vignette to the Slaughter-lands post near the beginning.
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Spawn of Ungoliant
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« Reply #39 on: November 18, 2008, 04:37:25 AM »

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A character added to the Characters section - Felix Rhadcuth, a professor, witch, junkie, and former adventurer.
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Spawn of Ungoliant
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« Reply #40 on: November 19, 2008, 06:45:38 PM »

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Added some short Architecture sections to each of the cities' entries to aid in their visualization.  Moroi is sort of 1984-style London, socialist brutalism and Victorian squallor; Lophius mingles Meosamerican temple architecture with Venetian baroque and something like  Five Fingers; and Baranauskas mixes straight-up gothic with a kind of Byzantine/Islamic style (I felt I'd already covered the style in Skein fairly well, though I added a few sentences about the industrial side of the Radula).
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Spawn of Ungoliant
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« Reply #41 on: November 20, 2008, 02:08:49 AM »

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Added a couple more characters from Skein, the "Scarred Gentlemen."
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Spawn of Ungoliant
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« Reply #42 on: November 21, 2008, 01:37:20 PM »

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I added a section on the Membrane Wars and the Great Fettering to the Witchcraft post (for lack of a better place to post it) - I get the feeling this info has been long-awaited, and I hope it ilves up to expectations.  The Cadaverous Earth is in some ways "anti-history", in the sense that history kind of collapses and gets forgotten and dusted over in this world.  I very much want to leave a lot of things vague and only hinted at in the past of the world, to give the impression of terrible secrets and indescribable or unknowable events, but I recognize that some details are necessary - so voila.
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SilvercatMoonpaw
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« Reply #43 on: November 22, 2008, 05:03:13 PM »

Hmmmm, you have an interesting way with the grotesque.  I have to ask, though, have you ever felt that maybe you've gone a bit too far for one setting?  It seems like this stuff would become simply squicky after a while at this saturation.  It's interesting as an artwork, but have you had anybody play in it long-term?

In some ways this reads more like it would be better as an alternate plane to the main non-grotesque setting, maybe as a gateway to someplace even worse.
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« Reply #44 on: November 22, 2008, 07:20:48 PM »

I just threw up a little in my mouth.

No, seriously. I pretty much agree with SilvercatMoonpaw's point-- I have to wonder if you haven't gone a little too far in trying to create a certain theme for this setting. Your writing is definitely quite good, so this criticism isn't mechanical at all. I do think you may have gone a bit overboard on the artfully archaic "thesaurus words" at times, but nowhere (at least that I could tell) did you actually misuse one, so I've got no real complaint there. The real complaint is in the content... there is a certain sameness in its pervasive, grotesque atmosphere.

I'm reminded of a kid in my 4th grade class. He, like many boys of that age, had a fascination with excretion and other bodily functions. However, for him, it was a fine art. While I am in no way making a comparison between your setting and the ramblings of a slightly mentally disturbed nine year old boy, I will say there is a certain similarity in the way you were both able to form a barrage of repulsive imagery into a coherent narrative. While your material is more compelling and more varied in its forms, it still has an undercurrent of those stories about the poop monster that ate Boogerville.

See, the other thing about Boogerville (and the Cadaverous Earth) is, it's pretty horrible to imagine for us, but how about if that's the only place you've ever lived? Let's look at things this way: though we like to gloss over this given our current modern attitudes about hygiene, things were pretty dirty back in medieval Earth, anyway, forget any sort of supernatural intervention. That said, even now, we eat and excrete, we get cuts that bleed and form into scabs, we occasionally suffer from some kind of embarrassing and repulsive skin condition, and all sorts of other biological processes that our transhuman descendants in however many centuries (if you will permit me a bit of futurism) may not be able to fathom how we ever endured such an unending cavalcade of ickyness. Point is-- it's all relative. In a world as utterly corrupted as yours, life would be, in the words of Hobbes, "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short," but that's how life was in a medieval slum, anyway. The people might not actually notice.

Oddly enough, to me, that means the greatest strength of the setting is also completely subverted by everything else you've done. I did enjoy your depictions of the undead (or Grave-Spawn, as you call them), and found them to be just about everything that undead should be. The ideas were much more unique than just shambling mindless corpses, and your occasional vampire or lich. Instead, you had sex-parasites, mind-controlling worms, and otherworldly psychic overlords. (You did have zombies, but you even managed to give them a unique spin)-- unfortunately, the problem is, this unique take on the undead sort of blends into the whole world and loses its character. The entire setting is rotting, decomposing, and such, so the undead don't really stand out. Instead, they're just another moribund mass among many in this decaying world. To me, that's a shame.

I like your writing. I really do. I wanted to like this setting, but, right now, it just pushes one point and pushes it way too hard, and I find that a significant point against it. As some sort of "evil mirror" of a more standard world, this place would do wonders. That way, it could be completely normal to the inhabitants, and yet the PC's-- who were new to it, just as we the readers are-- would be able to view it with the full shock and awe that such a cleverly twisted setting really deserves.
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