Clockwork Jungle

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The Clockwork Jungle

Cosmology

Races

Gheen · Iskites · Tahro · Umbril

Regions

Obsidian Plain · Mosswaste
Netai · Black Circle · The Wash

Entities and Creatures

Bestiary · Saffron Moss · Cogs
The Forest · Aras Tay

Society

Factions · Trade and Currency
Language · Calendar

Religion and the Occult

Powers · The Breath · Cults
Elder Wyrms · Creation · Afterlife

Lore

The Artificers · Antiquity
Age of Prophets · Recentering

Technology

Metalworking · Dendronautics

The Clockwork Jungle is a fantasy roleplaying world designed primarily as an exercise in imagination. It is a campaign setting in an environment that is both alien and familiar, with the idea and basic conventions of "heroic fantasy" applied to a world that is purposefully very dissimilar to our own.

At present, the Clockwork Jungle is a "fluff-only" world. You will find very little mention of mechanics, skills, classes, and so on, because a gaming system has not yet been applied to it. This may change in the future.

For more information on the Clockwork Jungle, read on, or use the sidebar on the right to skip straight to important topics. If you have questions, comments, reviews, or anything else to say, I prefer comments in the thread on the CBG forums.

The author of the Clockwork Jungle is Polycarp.

Introduction

Imagine a vast jungle, replete with a vast chorus of living things. The land is a verdant sea, blooming and lush, in which some creatures may live for centuries and never see the sky, obscured as it is by canopies of leaves and vines that rise higher than any fortress wall. The sky is roiling and chaotic; blue skies are replaced in minutes by ear-shattering rainstorms that turn a footprint into a swamp. There are valleys and mountains alike in this world, but there are few places to escape the ever-present jungle – only the largest of the Seas and the Obsidian Plain, where barren mountains disgorge lava and sulfurous fumes into an ocean of broken blackness. Even these features, however, are islands in a sea of life.

One might even lose a city in here – and in fact, long ago, a forgotten people lost a whole civilization. There are lonely statues, overgrown outposts, and entire empty metropolises shrouded in vines and ferns, with no builders to admire their works and no families to live in long abandoned houses. These places are ancient indeed; some have been forgotten so long that they are unrecognizable underneath untold ages of growth. It is an Empire of Neglect.

Who made these great structures? Who could carve out such things from the ever-present Forest, which grows so quickly that a idle village could be swallowed in weeks? They left no pictures of themselves. Their artwork is everywhere, on walls and in grand statues, but they depict only abstract designs and strange, foreign animals that none have ever seen in life. Of all the creatures that now live in the Forest, only some are depicted – why thousands of pictures of the same bird, but no trace of a hackler, or rock serpent, or even a speckled cat? Why do no jungle trees appear in their carefully made engravings and frescoes? The denizens of the Forest can only guess at these questions.

This forgotten people, however, did leave some semblance of life behind – the Cogs. There are nearly as many kinds of Cogs as there are types of animals. The Cogs are constructs, made of wood, metal, stone, and even glass, and animated by fine clockwork and some magic spark within them. There are Cogs that appear like animals: Cog monkeys that look down curiously on denizens of the forest floor with empty glass eyes; Cog songbirds that flit about with clicking wings, singing beautiful and haunting melodies; even Cog speckled cats that will stalk and kill prey, only to leave its corpse for the scavengers – for Cogs have no use for food. There are other Cogs too: Cog haulers, who look like tremendous lumbering tripods, and Cog soldiers, gaunt sentinels watching over weed-strangled posts. They are at best semi-intelligent, machines that have lost their masters and continue their ancient instructions eternally.

The sentient races of the Forest do not pay much heed to the Cogs. To them, they are not too different than their “natural” counterparts – just less edible. Just like their counterparts, however, Cogs are hunted, not for meat but for metal and glass. The four civilized races - the Gheen, Iskites, Tahro, and Umbril - use these remnants to arm and supply their own societies. A Cog’s tooth becomes the head of a spear, and the Iskites carry clockwork crossbows crafted from the metallic innards of their prey. It is said that some have even "tamed" Cogs, through magic or accident. No Gheen is as feared as the World-Queen, who rules with the stone-faced (literally) Fleshless Legion, a battalion of Cog soldiers that she has bound to her service. Through the gifts of nature and of the forgotten Artificers, societies thrive in this land – though it is a dangerous one, beset by peril as well as promise. The undiscovered country lies around every tree and bush, for they say the Forest never sleeps.

The Forest is very much awake. It is an entity all its own, moving and growing faster than any "normal" plant has a right to. It bestows favors and curses, causing a vine to trip the unwary or making a traveler’s path lead to a bounty of fruit. It seeks always to cover every inch of ground denied to it by the scorching lava of the Obsidian Plain or the constant labor of mortals. It is the source of all things, and all things praise it.

It is not the only such entity in the world. The Saffron Moss is a thing to be feared, like the awesome and terrible deity that it surely is. Villages must flee the onset of the Moss, which bends anything it grows upon to its own unitary will. Cogs overgrown by the Moss serve its desires, and the hapless living things it possesses end up neither dead nor alive, wretched slaves of its dark and inscrutable plans.

The world has changed since the Recentering threw down the great divinocracies of old and brought the civilized world to the brink of annihilation. The stars of civilization scattered in the vast, dark night of the Forest are shining brightly again, seeking prosperity, glory, and power.

Welcome to the Clockwork Jungle.