Friday, January 4, 2013

Rockulon Prime

Excerpts from the lecture "The Straight Shit on Rockulon Prime" delivered by Dr. Karl Satan, natural philosopher and space-wizard holding dual Ph.D.s in metalphysics and wizardology, as delivered before the Arcane Brotherhood, Guildhall Ward, Sigil.  As the name suggests, Dr. Satan's penchant for profanity occasionally becomes apparent; most attendees are fairly certain he was in some state of inebriation throughout his presentation.

The esteemed Karl Satan, Ph.D.

People who talk a lot of science shit say there's a multitude of crystal spheres in the universe — I've heard a septillion.  Of course, dudes with the kind of time to count a septillion stars don't get laid often, do they?

Those in the know would know that most of those spheres and the planets around them are boring as hell.

Rockulon Prime was probably fated to be the same.  Maybe the gods would intervene and seed the planet with life, maybe an advanced race would do the same thing.  Hell, maybe the whole shebang would self-organize into living systems.

The intervention of the Space-God!

Instead, we received the Space-God.

Some claim to see the Space-God in their dreams.

The nearby Blood Nebula — possibly an incursion of the Galaxies of Blood in our crystal sphere — probably vomited forth the Space-God's Corpse.  The Corpse crash-landed on Rockulon Prime.  Maybe the native microflora overtook it, maybe the God's own parasites started to feast upon it.  Who the fuck knows?

We do know that the little beasts began to grow.

The residual magical energies from the Corpse of the Space-God mutated life to fit new forms; we're all descended from the soulstuff of the Space-God.

Plants and dumb beasts evolved first, most notably the Hell-Maggots that are thought to be some of the most ancient life on the planet.

A small Hell-Maggot

Hell-Maggots can be found everywhere on Rockulon Prime, typically underground, but are most heavily concentrated in the Sea of Maggots, feasting on the Corpse of the Space-God.

The truly big monstrosities lurk in the vicinity of the Corpse of Space-God.

The first sapient race to evolve from these monstrosities was probably the drider.  As the adult form of one of the varieties of Hell-Maggot, the driders began to form their own civilization.  So suffused were they with the Space-God's cosmic energies that their mutations continued.  A subrace of driders appeared, known as the drow.

The drow are better than you

These aren't the pussy, angsty, emo drow of some worlds.  These drow are fucking metal.

I should probably explain that term, shouldn't I?  We understand life and much of our material resources to come from the bounty of the earth, from the Underdark.  The most abundant substance in the planet is iron; as a metal, it is one of the most stable and least reactive, and pretty damn important to our industries.  Metal is our lifeblood.  So, when something is a great goodness, we define it as metal.  We recall the strength and utility of metal, as well as its sublime beauty.  It's hard to describe the concept of metal to one who is not from Rockulon Prime, but understand that metal is quintessential.

So, our drow developed grand civilizations and advanced technologies.  Most importantly, they developed magic, including the Maglaban Chambers which wizards still use for wizard's duels today.  As one of the first races, there were few other sapients to subjugate, so they made their own.  Drow are probably responsible for most sapient life on the planet, most likely beginning with the bullywugs or troglodytes.  Their experiments on frogs and lizards yielded the creatures, eventually spawning lizardmen and yes, even dragons — for some reason, the ancient drow experimented on drakes and uplifted them as mounts and slaves.

A drow sorceress with her mutant experiments.

The drow created a vast empire that conquered the entire world, making use of magically-created slave races to cater to their every whim.  Their experiments continued as they began to uplift the primitive apes of the savage jungles.

Of course, with nothing left to conquer, they turned on each other.

The drow go to war.

One faction tried to grab territory, the other resisted, and war was upon the land.

It was brutal.  It was bloody.

The drow are believed to have created some of their mutant ape races, such as the savage white apes, as well as hybrids such as the dragonborn and the vat-bred orcs and their goblinhobgoblin, and bugbear kin.  The trolls were almost assuredly bred as an engine of war, as were various other creatures too numerous to mention.

Drow society was so advanced by this time that their magic and tech was devastating.  Other worlds have things such as blood rock or godsblood or bloodstone (or even the gemstone known as "bloodstone"); our Bloodstone is cast-off detritus of the Space-God, and the crystallized crimson rocks have magic powers.  The drow used them and their magics to make very effective weapons.  Whole portions of the world were turned into blasted, wasted hellholes.  Many of these are still dangerously toxic, spawning mutants and all manner of abomination into the world.

And you still get douchenozzles like this questing in the Wastes.

Records from this time are still spotty, so we don't quite know the order of things.  We know the schism among the drow led them to acquire various territories.  The classic drow were forced underground, and their various descendants would eventually evolve into the elven subraces of today.

Elves are still among the most ruthless predators of Rockulon Prime.

Around the same time as the conclusion of the Drow War came the first threat from Outside; the aboleths.  We're not entirely sure if the aberrations came by some manner of spelljammer, or if the magical energies of the Drow War opened gates to Outside, but the aboleths arrived to take Rockulon Prime for themselves.

Many of the sapients of the sea, such as kuo-toa and sahuagin, were likely created by the aboleths as part of their bid for takeover.

Much as the drow, the aboleths gladly used slaves to aid them in their goals.

Of course, the aboleths didn't win, probably because giant fucking fish suck at fighting on land.  Weakened and in decline, the elves still managed to fight off the aquatic creatures and force them to back the fuck up.  Of course, whatever channel to Outside had been opened would never close.  It wasn't long before illithidsbeholders, and other aberrations appeared in the Rockulon Underdark.

As many slave species revolted during the Drow Wars, the elves continued their experiments with apes, crafting such kin to them as the dwarves, halflings, gnomes, and yes, the humans.  Weakened and fractured by centuries of warfare, however, the elves could hardly maintain their new slaves, and after a scant generation or two, the new creatures revolted and found themselves out in the world.

And what a beautiful world it was.

The land was sick, warped by magic and irradiated by blasphemous technologies.  Using secrets plundered from the vaults of the elves, the new races banded together to survive.  Survival was pretty tenuous in those days; the world was still full of arrogant elves, mutants, aberrations, and monsters of all types.  Still, within several generations, the dwarves had built a stable civilization that would grow into the grand Wraithsmasher Empire.

The dwarves are a most capable race.

The dwarves never hit the grand expanse of power the ancient Wormwarper Empire of the drow achieved, the Wraithsmasher Empire succeeded in unifying several races without enslaving them, and bringing civilization to lands untamed for centuries.

Of course, the secret to the Wraithsmashers' downfall lies in the name; the Wraithsmasher family of dwarves specialized in fighting undead and planar outsiders.

He who fights monsters and all that.

The Wraithsmashers became an infernal bloodline.

The Wraithsmasher Empire didn't truly collapse — not right away, anyway — but they did become corrupt bureaucrats and demon-worshipping shitheels.  Deals with infernal creatures were established, and pretty soon, the ruling dynasty was replete with maeluths, dwarves with infernal blood.  Tieflings and wisplings — fiend-touched humans and halflings — also appeared among their retainers.  Just when it appeared that the whole of Rockulon Prime would go tumbling into the Nine Hells or the Abyss (thought by scholars to be the ultimate goal of the corrupted Wraithsmashers), internal conflicts wracked the world with war again.

Although these conflicts were not as destructive as the Drow Wars of antiquity, war was total.  Any race that wished to grab for glory or settle an old conflict leaped into the fray.

After nearly a century of war, all was finally silent.  Most races on the surface were in decline, their numbers low, and they teetered on the brink of extinction.  Most of the infernal lineages were pushed elsewhere, into dark corners or their home realms.  The world was silent for a time, and sapient life was again a precarious thing.

Some artfag probably captured this shortly before being devoured by cannibal mutant halflings.

Of course, with their short lifespans and compressed reproduction time, this allowed humanity to take control through sheer numbers.

The teeming throng of humanity, brought to you by copious fucking.

It's the same sort of boom-and-bust cycle we've grown accustomed to on Rockulon Prime.  The historians keep track, but otherwise, the human dynasties tend to change hands way faster than those of the demi-humans.  There's more variety now — the dwarves and elves have their own homelands, the few remaining dragonborn lord over their degenerate kobold kin while ultimately owing fealty to the dragons, the mutants claim territory in the Wastelands, and the various other subraces hold sway in their own spheres of influence.  Presently, the grand empires of yore are gone, but humanity is definitely the most notable force on Rockulon Prime, and the time is ripe for another ruling power to rise.

But if the yuan-ti hybrids take over, seriously, fuck those guys.

The landscape of Rockulon Prime is currently dotted by a loose confederation of city-states joined by the old highway system.  Despite the lack of large-scale organization, much of the infrastructure of the old empires remain; as best as we can tell, we're more technologically advanced than other worlds we have encountered.  We've got gunpowder, steam, and internal combustion, but they have yet to match the efficiency of magic.

Exactly.

Magic is still more versatile, and more intuitive to those who understand it, although tech tends to be more intuitive if you don't know magic.  Why use a gun which requires constant maintenance when you can launch a magic missile or a fireball that replenishes as you study and rest?  Why use a gas-guzzling van when you can ride a nightmare that only needs a small amount of feed?

Although it's harder to listen to your 8-track on a nightmare.

Of course, us magic-using types combine magic and tech.  Enchanted guns are pretty scarce, though they tend to be popular with adventurers if they can be found.

 Kickin' rad.

Some wizards have also combined the ancient magic of the spelljammer helm with the more recent automobile.

Seriously?  Wizards fucking rule.

Rockulon Prime still contains many of the dangers and features we have encountered on other worlds.  Outside civilization, roving bands of monsters threaten travelers.  Ancient ruins of fallen civilizations hold danger and treasure for those with the balls to face them.  Civilization ebbs and flows, but maintains a sort of dynamic equilibrium with the wild places.

And now, we close this transcript with images of Rockulon Prime:

We all start as apprentices.

But some wizards may progress to higher accomplishments of magic.

When the student is ready, the master will appear.

Evil wizards lord over petty fiefdoms.

Barbarians stalk the Wastes.

Although some evidence of civilization may exist in those borderlands.

Although not all settlements on the frontier are friendly.

Beastmen may be a danger in the wilds.

Some have even learned the metal mysteries of arcane music.

Of course, you should probably be a bit more worried about the mutants.

Fortunately, there are always those willing to defend the borderlands.

Especially since vast rewards lie beyond civilization.

Interested parties are directed to the subsequent post, On the Subject of Rockulon Prime.

4 comments:

  1. Damn, and this is why I say I'm not creative, just adaptive. :)

    Anyways, I'm reminded of this (short lived) webcomic: My Name Is Might Have Been.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've taken it upon myself to make a soundtrack for this game. Expect brutality.

    ReplyDelete

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