So … we’ve reached the end of February, our self-proclaimed APOCTHULHU preview month. So far we have provided “sneak peeks” of three of the example Lovecraftian Apocalypse settings that you could conceivably use our forthcoming RPG rules & sourcebook to bring to life at your game table. In truth, we’ve tried to design the rules to be open enough to power weird Apocalyptic games in a hugely diverse range of settings — so, the samples we provide in the book (and here) are really just that, examples to get your own creative juices flowing.
The sample settings we have revealed from our book manuscript so far are:
Now, its finally time to reveal the fourth-and-final Apocalypse setting preview. Before we do that, we’d like to thank the people who have given us positive words of encouragement about APOCTHULHU. Even more than that we’d like to thank the many people who have voted in our poll — the number of folks casting their votes has truly amazed us. It’s also made us double our commitment to making sure that the APOCTHULHU book that we release in the coming months is high quality in terms of both writing and production values. We figure we owe you for the enthusiasm you’ve shown our humble project, and will repay that with the best our team’s collective skills can muster!
Anyway, with all that aside, let me present to you our fourth revealed setting.
Credits for the material from APOCTHULHU which appears below are as follows: the Apocalypse setting description was written by yours truly, while Car 648 and The Neural Netrix (both of which are statted in the actual book itself) are a creation of Chad Bowser.
The God From The Uttermost South (APOCTHULHU Example Setting #3)
In the early 1930s a pair of expeditions braved nigh-unsurpassable challenges to travel to the Antarctic regions – to not only reach the so-called Mountains of Madness but explore the ancient city ruins they contain. These structures, millions of years old, were built by the Elder Things as the heart of their empire. The twin expeditions uncovered a terrible secret that had lain buried for vast eons: in the distant past, the Elder race had constructed a vast technological marvel, a machine that could attract a powerful Mythos god from space and trap it within a stasis. During a long-forgotten war the machine was used to lure and trap a vastly powerful yet unnamed thing – perhaps a Great Old One, perhaps a more cosmic god. When the expeditions reached the Mountains of Madness, they found that the trapped god-thing was still within the machine, and still alive. The only problem was that long millennia of entropy and decay had left the machine on the verge of permanent failure. Quick thinking was called for by the assembled expedition crew … but sadly they failed to avert the collapse of the machine.
With the ancient trap now ineffective the terrible and unknowable alien power was free to exert its influence across Earth for the first time. It began slowly, ejecting seedlings up into the atmosphere to fall across most of the Southern Hemisphere. Incredible news stories of black eruptions from volcanos in Antarctica hit the headlines. The black pods from these eruptions served two purposes: they devoured living things to channel much-needed energy down to the frozen thing at the South Pole, and they ensnared the minds of people with low character. These men and women worked to help spread the god’s influence still further by arranging for larger and larger samples of its alien flesh to be shipped around the world.
In time entire countries went dark, halting their communication with the world. Those places were ruthlessly depopulated by men and women mindlessly enslaved to the silent will of the alien god. Within a year, all communication from the southern half of the world had ceased and certain countries north of the equator were starting to fall as huge masses of the dark seeds were somehow smuggled into their borders. After another year, the entire world was under the influence of the once-imprisoned god, who had also now warmed from its million years of cold slumber sufficiently to leave its ancient jail.
- When Did the Apocalypse Occur? The spread of the god’s influence started in 1935 but did not entirely consume the world until late 1937.
- What Event was the Trigger? The original cause was the breakdown of the Elder Thing machinery that had long held the trapped god in stasis.
- What Changed? The goal of the alien god is to subsume all of humanity into itself, and to kill anyone it cannot mentally integrate into its global telepathic control network. In the Post-Apocalypse world there is no need for communications technology (since everyone gets their instructions via telepathy and nobody has independent thoughts to share with one another). But all other forms of technology are still maintained – there is functioning electrical grids and well-maintained transport networks, both used extensively to harvest brains from captured “dissenters” (those who cannot be integrated) and ship them to wherever the alien god now resides.
- How Long Afterwards? The game setting takes place a couple of years after the last ‘normal’ parts of the world finally fell to the influence of the alien god and its insidious dark seeds.
- What is the World Like? Silent, and highly ordered. The controlled members of the human race work as an insect-like hive, following instructions issued telepathically by the once-imprisoned god. Concentration camps have been set up to house anyone who has not been successfully integrated – these people are subject to intensive ‘re-education’ and if that fails, they are slaughtered and their brains extracted as food for the god.
- What Communities Exist? Not everyone has fallen under the spell of the ancient god; people of high integrity, will, or sensitivity have proven far more resistant. Such people, if they can survive the silent squads which trawl the cities and countryside in search of outcasts, still live a normal life scrounging what little they can safely obtain. Many small societies of such people have sprung up, but the larger the group the more likely they are to be tracked down by the black-suited elite squads.
- What Mythos Entities? As the influence of the once-imprisoned god has gained dominance, it has become bolder in sending forth other extra-dimensional beings to work side-by-side with its mindless human workforce. Nobody knows whether these horrific alien monstrosities are parts of the god itself, children of the god, or simply allied creatures it has brought from some otherworldly or extra-dimensional place.
- Is There Any Hope? The Game Moderator can decide whether there is any possibility of putting the alien god “back in the box” or somehow banishing it from Earth. If either of those (nigh-impossible) tasks could be achieved, it may be possible that the humans under its thrall could return to being independent.
Car 648, an example horror for The God From The Uttermost South
Those controlled by the world’s new god use the existing train infrastructure to ship the brains of dissenters to the central collection points. Sometimes, things go off the rails. Each train consists of the locomotive, a tender car, a guard car, and however many cerebral cars are needed. This train only had one.
Car 648 was carrying a supply of brains to the depot. What many don’t understand is that the god feasts upon the psychic energies of the brains, not the gray matter in and of itself. To that end, it’s a common occurrence for the god’s followers to link together the brains into a single psychic entity and torture it, creating even more food for their master.
A landslide eroded the tracks Car 648 was scheduled to use. As the train rolled over the weakened rails, it plummeted off the track and down a defile. The custodians of Car 648, as well as the crew and guards were all killed as the train plummeted. The one thing that didn’t die was the fused psychic entity.
Wounded and alone, in the wilderness, trapped in the train car, it thrashes in the psychic maelstrom, believing itself a veteran of a psychic war that was never fought.
It has access to numerous psychic abilities and could be a friend or foe, depending on how it’s approached and treated.
The Neural Netrix, an example ‘Tome’ / Device for The God From The Uttermost South
Created by the followers of the new god, these contraptions are a series of mental probes inserted into human brains and linked via cables. Each probe can be no more than a foot from the next and each netrix is limited to 256 probes.
Inserting a probe is an incredibly painful process as smaller feeler probes emerge and root their way through the neural pathways of the target brain. Once they find the memories they need – and it’s not one specific memory, it latches onto a different memory in each brain – it begins to interface and all the memories collide, creating a psychic feast for the new god.
What’s Next for APOCTHULHU?
While this is the last preview we are sharing for now, there are more announcements and surprises of an APOCTHULHU flavour that we’ll be making here on the blog (as well as on the Cthulhu Reborn twitter, @cthulhu_reborn). We might even share some more extracts of the book itself … though for now we need to switch back into actually getting this book of Apocalyptic horrors finished and published!