Since posting the first extract from our forthcoming APOCTHULHU sourcebook’s section on “example Lovecraftian Apocalypses” I have been closely watching the summary of votes in our poll. Right from the beginning there’s been a high level of interest in Apocalypse #8: “This Fecund Planet” … so let’s make that our second manuscript “sneak peek.”
As mentioned previously, the plan is to do four of these throughout February, so there’s still time to influence which of the remaining Apocalypses we leak as #3 and #4 in coming weeks. For a description of all of the example Apocalypses, head back to this earlier post. If you want to lodge a vote for the next one — the same poll is still open, and is repeated at the end of this post.
Credits for the material from APOCTHULHU which appears below are as follows: the Apocalypse setting description was written by yours truly, while the Hollow Men (which are statted in the actual book itself) are a creation of Chad Bowser.
This Fecund Planet (APOCTHULHU Example Setting #8)
Most Post-Apocalyptic worlds are defined by the scarcity of life, due to some horrific extinction event. This particular world is not like that – it is a horror brought about through an excess of life. A terrifying fertility.
Cults devoted to Shub-Niggurath have existed since the dawn of human thought, most seeking to invoke their awful god’s powers of corrupted fertility. But in the 1970s one cult achieved what no other had been able – to bring about a global manifestation of Shub-Niggurath’s ‘blessing’. Masquerading as a New Age movement dedicated to the protection of “mother Earth”, the cult duped hundreds of innocent Britons to participate in ‘fertility rituals’ held in an isolated Scottish castle owned by a popular musician. The weeks of gyrating dances and liturgical chanting seemed like harmless fun to most of the participants, but what none could see was the changes that were being wrought due to Shub-Niggurath’s ‘blessing’.
In the weeks that followed the ceremonies, many accounts were reported world-wide of odd floss-like matter blowing on the wind. Wherever this white fibrous material fell to earth, common plants grew rapidly – even in the most unlikely of places. Scientists took samples of the miraculous floss but could not explain its origins nor its amazing powers as a fertilizer. Then the day came when the floss-streams got higher into the atmosphere and seeded themselves into clouds. Wherever rain fell, it had tiny dissolved particles of the floss. And in every square foot of earth touched by this rain, things grew faster and bigger than normal.
At first the scientific community and the world-at-large embraced this miracle, even if nobody knew from where it had come. Parts of the world where food is perpetually scarce suddenly found themselves with bumper crops. Normally lush-and-green places found their harvests topping all-time records, so much so that business was soon booming and there was enough food that overabundance became more of a problem than scarcity. The cost of feeding the planet halved overnight.
However, what nobody knew – except perhaps for the shadowy Shub-Niggurath cult that had set events in motion with their orgiastic Scottish rites – was that food grown by such fertilizer is infused with something otherworldly. Something that is part of Shub-Niggurath. This enigmatic element causes the plants, fruit, and vegetables to grow rapidly … but they do not stop growing when they are harvested, nor does the miracle ingredient stop growing even after it is eaten. Instead, the mysterious substance accumulates inside those who consume it … and when it accumulates to the right level, it sends forth its “shoots” to find the soil, right through flesh and bone if needed. And once those steel-hard shoots are in fertile ground, they are almost impossible to remove.
After just four years, the normal order of civilization had crumbled. Vast numbers people were torn apart by thick verdant tendrils bursting from their chests; just as many were pinned to the ground to die a slow death of starvation. Too late the message went out to abandon eating produce grown in the soil, but by then the element was already in the flesh of livestock – and so an all-meat diet offered no protection.
- When Did the Apocalypse Occur? The events unfolded in the mid-to-late 1970s.
- What Event was the Trigger? The ceremony at the Scottish castle.
- What Changed? The creation of the super-fertilizing floss, which is carried on the wind, right around the globe. It is eventually also dissolved into clouds. Everything it touches – directly or indirectly – grows fecund and tainted with Shub-Niggurath’s element.
- How Long Afterwards? The game setting takes place four years after the beginning of the monstrous fertility and the fall of civilization.
- What is the World Like? The world is greener and lusher than ever before, with abundance of foliage covering over even the most densely-populated cities. Scattered amid the foliage are the corpses of people torn apart or pinned down by greenery bursting forth from their internal organs.
- What Communities Exist? Some people have sought out those places around the globe which are most inimical to life – rocky islets with no topsoil, harsh deserts, and the like. These people survive off stockpiles of tinned food from before the coming of the floss. But this scarce resource is rapidly running out.
- What Mythos Entities? As regions of the planet have become depopulated to humanity, creatures of the Cthulhu Mythos have slithered from hiding to take up residence. Also, Shub-Niggurath’s many and diverse “children” have been drawn to the bountiful harvest infected with her seed.
- Is There Any Hope? It may be possible to find a way of neutralizing the effects of Shub-Niggurath’s fecund floss but doing so will mostly stabilize the situation rather than reverse it.
The Bible of Southcross Fields, an example “tome” for This Fecund Planet
(By Chad Bowser)
Rumors say that there’s an unwilling scarecrow deep in the 400 acres that comprise Southcross field that will tell you all about a new god. Thomas Jacobson was a farmhand working Southcross field when he was transfixed. Stuck where he stood, a migrant with a beard down to his knees and wearing dusty traveling robes came by and began to pass on his wisdom. By carving it into the still living Thomas’ flesh.
The ritual practiced by the man keeps Thomas alive so that there is always fresh blood to keep the words bright. However, the ritual does nothing to dull the pain. The script is tiny and Thomas’ body contains thousands of words of this wanderer’s screed. To compound matters, the wanderer writes in the language he hears in his head – Akkadian.
Thomas’ body is filling up, though, and a new scarecrow, Heather Bunham, has just appeared not too far away.
Vote For The Next Apocalypse
Next weekend we’ll be releasing the description of another example setting ripped from the pages of APOCTHULHU — you can help pick which one by voting in the poll below.