As I’ve been ploughing forward with the kickstarter preperations (April 16th people!) one thing I’ve been asked a lot is “will there be fluff?”. My goodness yes! There are several reasons I haven’t shown it already- the main one is that editing my crazy stream of consciousness notes takes a lot of time, and it’s just nowhere near as much of a priority as organising the miniature sculpts or playtesting the game.
But it’s there, and you’ll see it soon!
In fact, I’ve been asked so much about fluff that I decided a few weeks ago to re-prioritise a little and make an effort to put a short “Guide to the Drowned Earth” together before Kickstarter, so you guys can see exactly what sort of universe we’re gaming in!
That’s a work in progress, but I thought now I’d do a series of quick “crib notes”. Here we go!
A Jungle World… So like… a jungle planet?!
It’s going to be a surprise to nobody to hear that The Drowned Earth, or at least the portion of it in which the game is set, is a tropical area largely given over to rainforest, wetland, swamp and lagoon. It’s time I came clean though- The Drowned Earth is set on the continent of Ulaya- but what lies beyond it? More jungle? We just don’t know… Certainly to the North and West are large spans of ocean. To the East a high mountain range. What about the South? The simple answer is that it is not commonly known. For most, Ulaya is synonymous with “the Known World”.
Nothing like a good Old Fashioned Cataclysm
Known as The Event, a terrible cataclysm of some kind occurred in the past, turning an advanced urban civilisation to ruins. The evidence of this civilisation is everywhere- ruins reach out of the jungle canopy like skeletal hands reaching for their former greatness. Strange and wonderous sights shimmer under the surface of the lagoons of the Northern coast. But nobody knows what The Event was, or how long ago it happened.
The people of today tell stories from “the Dark Times”- great wandering heroes battling huge monsters and terrifying armies of foes. But scholars believe that this “Dark Time” could have gone on for hundreds of years- we just do not know. So while the wise can trace somewhere between four and five hundred years of recorded history (records differ) there is no way of connecting it to The Event.
Settlers and Thieves
Another aspect mysterious to the people of the present day is the climate before The Event. Most agree that the climate has changed- folk memory tells of a time of dark and cold, followed by terrible floods and blistering heat. What most agree on though, is that the land went through a period of extreme hardship where little grew, all were nomadic, and only the savage or the strong survived.
After a time though, people began to settle down again, build defences against the wildlife, and each other, and sow crops. Some still live a nomadic lifestyle, but they are thought to be wild and uncivilised. How true this is depends on your definition of those words, but what is certainly the case is that the remaining nomads are strong and adept- one has to be to survive the jungles of Ulaya.
The Legacy of Science
The Pre-Fall civilisation, as the civilisation who lived before The Event are commonly referred, was a human civilisation. Well, this is controversial, and many of the races of Ulaya (and there are many) dispute this point. What is suspected by some, but known by very few, is that the other races were actually created by the Pre-Fall civilisation, for various purposes, some of which are lost in the anals of time. Nobody knows why the Sorrians were created. The Dverg were bred as workers. Some say the Berengeii were soldiers, while they themselves claim they were the first of the “uplift” species, but escaped to survive in the wild. Undeniably, though, the “splice” species which are now common in Ulaya were at least as, or perhaps even more, successful in the new environment than humans were. The reasons for this can be speculated upon, but now humans are now simply the largest among minorities in Ulaya.
The Pre-Fall civilisation were masters of the gene. Many times, the reason they did things was simply to see if they could. In many ways, they were a decadent civilisation, in moral if not in material decline. Their tinkering with the genetic code of humans and animals, and the hybrid races they created, now populate the world.
A really Wild Wild
The extent of their legacy does not end with the intelligent races though. The wilds of Ulaya are filled to the brim with a dizzying array of terrifying, violent, predatory or territorial species. Megafauna thrived after The Fall, and the landscape has been utterly changed not only by the cataclysm itself, but by the creatures which managed to weather the storm.
A changed world benefited species who were evolved for different times.
Different times you say? Well, a society willing to splice human and animal DNA would certainly be willing to resurrect ancient, long extinct species! Why you ask? Well, initially perhaps the answer was as simple as that previously given: “to see if we can”. That can hardly be the whole picture though. I’ve already mentioned that the Pre-Fall civilisation was in decline. So was the planet. After exploiting it for hundreds of years, things began to get out of control. Fragile ecosystems began to collapse, and scientists decided to intervene.
Many of the resurrected species brought back were done so to replace animal populations which were failing, but essential to the food chain. Then if that species became to successful, another was introduced to balance it out. This was as chaotic as it sounds, and resulted in a dizzying array of genetic diversity in both flora and fauna, the legacy of which can be seen even more strongly today than it could then.
Next time… Technology!