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​How post-apocalyptic is your Creation?

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  • ​How post-apocalyptic is your Creation?

    Over 700 years ago Creation was ripped apart and nearly torn asunder by the twin apocalypses of the Great Contagion and Wyld armies’ endless slaughter. This resulted in the death of ninety percent of everything and huge sections of Creation plunging into the hungry maw of chaos to be lost forever.

    All of that review done one important fact is that it was in fact over 700 years ago and creation seems to have recovered pretty well. Actually it is almost like it didn’t happen in a lot of the books I have had a chance to look at. The fall of the first age gets much more attention. As it stands right now it seems to me that the Great Contagion and such are mostly justification for the rise of the Scarlet Empress. Which is great and all but her rise to power doesn’t necessitate the death of 9/10ths of everything. The pure devastation doesn’t seem to be as emphasized as I would think it should be. I can only imagine for years of huge swaths of dead, rotting waste land. Still other areas bearing scars in the form of shadow lands and twisted sections of Creation mutilated by Wyld energy just on the edge of falling apart from reality. I guess Creation is really a post-post-apocalyptic setting as the ecosystem seems pretty healthy & the population seems quite high.

    What influences of the Great Contagion/ Balorian Crusade are part of the game you all are running or playing in? How has it affected the Creation of your gaming experience?
    Last edited by Snakesandsuns; 02-12-2018, 05:18 PM.

  • #2
    After 700 years, I'd expect the population to have recovered.

    But you do raise a good couple of points. You're definitely right that the books have in the past, talked a lot more about the High First Age than the Shogunate, even though it's much further back in history.
    I think this is because of the default play assumption of Solars, but in terms of the setting itself, it can be a bit odd.

    So, I like to have Shogunate ruins, random ancient Shogunate monoliths and statues, societies that trace their history to the Shogunate, DB families who are descended from Shogunate Daimyos, and so on. Shadowlands are most likely to be from the Contagion.
    Though you don't want to have too many societies tracing back to the Shogunate, because, well, it's post-apocalyptic.

    (Although of course, a lot of Shogunate ruins are also High First Age ruins)

    Thing is though, 768 years is a long time. And so I don't think it's necessary to go mad with Shogunate ruins, blasted landscapes, etc.

    STing Bronze Age Exalted


    • #3
      Creation is still in quite the primitive state compared to what it was during the Shogunate, so there is that, but Creation is definitely in a recovered state. It is worth noting that High First Age ruins are much more likely to have survived than Shogunate simply because High First Age had a better grasp on making stuff last. The Shogunate has been noted to have been in a steady state of decline as the DBs couldn't do things at the same level as Solars.

      Now there probably should be more shadowlands attributed to the Great Contagion as there is very little anybody can do about them. Though they should be concentrated toward the inner sea as the Wyld would have wiped away any that formed farther out.

      Wyld Zone on the other hand should be rare as there are a lot of ways to reduce or eliminate them. The Wyld simply isn't strong enough to hang out in creation and survive Exalted efforts to erase it.


      • #4
        Maybe the way to look at it is to not assume that the current setting has recovered really well, but that the high first age and even the shogunate were so mind-bogglingly awesome that the current setting is what you'd get after an apocalypse and a few centuries of recovery.


        • #5
          Originally posted by Hark View Post

          Now there probably should be more shadowlands attributed to the Great Contagion as there is very little anybody can do about them. Though they should be concentrated toward the inner sea as the Wyld would have wiped away any that formed farther out.
          Yeah, the fluff does say that most shadowlands are caused by the Contagion, but then when it talks about specific shadowlands, if there's an explanation given, it's generally not the Contagion. For example, Marama's Fell is from the Usurpation, Skullstone is from the Primordial War, etc.
          The ones in Chiaroscoro I think are from the Contagion though.

          STing Bronze Age Exalted


          • #6
            To say it a bit more;

            I think I kind of intend for my Creation to have loads of ruins and ruptured sorcery from the Shogunate. But I also want it to have lots of more recent history (I feel that 1-760 RY has not much development in the fluff). And so it kind of gets lost.

            Mostly, I think what I like is to have contemporary societies in Creation squatting on the ruins of the Shogunate, or being affected by ancient Lunar or Dragonblood sorcerous workings.
            For example, the capital of the PCs puppet kingdom was a Shogunate-era Manse built by a Lunar (in the middle of the jungle, hidden from the Shogunate), which the Djala had turned into a temple.

            And there's nothing wrong with having High First Age ruins or ancient Solar workings. I think I just find that there's so many, I want to de-emphasise them. Of course, it kind of depends what you're doing with the game. If you want a game of Solars who realise the world is in the ruins of an ancient Solar civilisation, and they should restore it, then having lots of High First Age ruins makes sense, genre-wise. And that, perhaps, is the default assumption of the game.

            STing Bronze Age Exalted


            • #7
              I try to think in terms of the story structure. (*)

              There are places of stability where regular (for Creation) life has recovered and goes on as it seemingly always has. They're my scene-setting areas where I linger for a bit to establish a sense of normalcy and expectation. And I come back to them for a breather, now and then, and to see how things have changed in the course of the story.

              Then there are places of danger where the Circle can explore and sneak and battle. They're where I drop hints that things are not all as they seem, where we find hints of prior cataclysms, tombs from the past, evidence of evils on the march today. Also a good place to find evidence of glories of the past, which also hint at what may again be.

              Then, I've gotten fond of going to real weird places, where the deeper mysteries can be found and the hints from before all make sense in context.

              So what I'd try to do is to build drama in by changing the location. Start off in stability and chat with the locals. Go to the danger for an adventure and come back - enough to get a sense of the rules - and return with a hint or McGuffin or whatever; stability is still fine. Return to the danger for a longer bit of adventure, finding clues and artifacts and growing powerful - and getting to know the characters really well. Only, then return to stability and find that it's been disturbed, damaged, or destroyed by the Big Bad. Chasing after the Big Bad requires moving into danger again, or maybe stability turning into danger. Before you can return, you go to the real weird place where you find out what you need to complete the story and confront the Big Bad. When you ultimately get back, the locals back in stability are trying to rebuild, but it won't be quite the same.

              Fill in the spots and you've got the basics of your story:
              Stability = Coastal An Teng
              Danger = wilderness up in the mountains, with ancient dead streaming from shadowlands
              Real Weird = into the Underworld to find why the ancient dead are behaving differently
              Big Bad = Wong Bongerok and some Abyssals
              Makes Sense in Context = Wong came into contact with some freshly-Exalted Abyssals and convinced them to stir up trouble and invade. He really just wants to get a Celestial Audit off his back and gain fame and fortune for rallying the Southern Courts against the invasion.
              Won't quite be the same = Finishing the story means defeating the dead, defeating or swaying the Abyssals, and censuring Wong. With Wong gone, the rest of the order in the area is thrown into chaos and the story closes with the Circle filling the roles to help rebuild An Teng; they're no longer young adventurers but are now de facto rulers or protectors of a nation.

              (*) I'm not actually good at this, but it's a current project to get better at. Also apologies for the italics-fu, this is literally something I was working through my notes on late last week.

              Check out Momentum Exalted!


              • #8
                The thing about shogunate relics is that the shogunate isn't all that different from the realm. The empires reorganized, but the "civilization complexity" is basically the same.
                Shogunate relics and ruins are not about what was lost and can't be recovered. They are about what was wasted and no one capable bothered.

                So much of what is shogunate-era that broke during the contagion and the crusade and what else IS fixed, and in use.

                And that includes, or course, the people themselves. You can pretty much correlate the "ruin" level of something by how far it is from settled peoples.

                Check my Exalted homebrew!


                • #9
                  On my *vision* of Creation, differs between edition. I had a chance to read through Arms of the Chosen and I get the impression that 3rd offers a distinctly different image of the First Age and so of the Age of Sorrows.

                  1st and 2nd offer a vision of the First Age defined by something that resembles industrial and sci-fi civilization; for me it's defined by images of arcologies, climate controlled domes, for want of what better words we'd call robotics and something resembling spacecraft. Very definite *build* objects and hyper dense urban environments. That all leaves something that Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind or Severian of Urth could, and which we would probably recognize as post-apocalyptic, studded with blown out structures and things that we would see ruined spaceports, mass transit and ecological disasters and the rest.

                  From AotC, 3rd seems much more in keeping with a shift towards a kind of high fantasy-meets-weird sword and sorcery tone; so my image of it involves fewer densely packed populations (and part of that is that in 3e, the First Age expanded the world more, and is more extensive and less intensive?) and less in the way of huge obviously built environments, which where they exist and last are stone and more defined by unthinkable workmanship than landscape dominating size. So generally much more magic that is intangible, and personal and less that would leave any huge obvious mark on the landscape, for all that it is associated with a high quality of life and civilization.

                  (Half answering the question, half on a tangent here)


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Synapse View Post
                    The empires reorganized, but the "civilization complexity" is basically the same.
                    ​Assuming that the chapters from the Aspect Books are still valid, the Shogunate would have been quite different from the Age of Sorrows, in terms of things like communications, finance, and military tactics.

                    I have approximate knowledge of many things.
                    Write up as I play Xenoblade Chronicles.


                    • #11
                      1) I tend to play up the legacy of the Shogunate, and downplay the legacy of the First Age.

                      The Shogunate still reverberates within oral and cultural memory for many of the cultures in the Age of Sorrows. In 'my' Creation, the Shogunate was Imperial Rome crossed with Shogunate Japan, an era of by-and-large peace and prosperity, albeit one viewed through rose colored glasses in the Age of Sorrows. The "Pax Shogunate" was, in all seriousness, a pretty nice time to live in, depending on where you lived. On the Blessed Isle, or the inner Threshold? Pretty nice. Out on the fringes of the Shogunate, where the Legions kept pushing against the Lunars and the Wyld? Not so nice. Or..... the entire Shogunate during the Interregnum right before the Contagion, and the associated civil wars, 'barbarian' migrations, outbreaks of diseases and breakdowns of infrastructure and law and order? Also not so nice.

                      Most Artifacts, Manses, and other forms of infrastructure, both magical and mundane, are from the Shogunate or the Realm.... which is largely viewed as a continuation of the Shogunate, albeit in reduced form.

                      Basically, Creation in RY 769 is roughly functionally equivalent to 700-800 CE in the real world, with the obvious exception that it was the Western Roman Empire that experienced a resurgence, not the Eastern Roman Empire, which in Creation would be Lookshy.

                      2) I manipulated the effects of the Great Contagion.

                      Having 90% of everything die off is........ silly, to be frank. Creation looks to have the same biodiversity, if not more, than the real world, which wouldn't hold water if 90% of everything died off.

                      Instead, I 'just' have varying percentages of human populations die off, dependent on Direction. Creation during the Shogunate tended to be more urbanized than modern Creation, at least up until the Interregnum (and breakdown of urban logistics and infrastructure), and therefore your chances of survival during the Great Contagion depended on where you lived.

                      It also varies just how much I had populations die off from the Great Contagion (which not only encapsulated -the- GC disease, but also other illnesses caused by the breakdown of society), or from other causes resulting from the breakdown of trade, logistics and other infrastructure, such as revolts, famines, migrations of probably-angry people. This concept is called the "secondary kill"

                      The East (called the River Province, and quasi-rival to the actual Shogunate) and the Blessed Isle, with large urban centers and highly dependent on logistics and infrastructure? 90% fatality rate, easily. The North, where most populations were comparatively spread out? Only about 30% fatality rate.

                      Now, don't get me wrong, having 1 in 3 people in a population die over the span of a few short years is catastrophic. Societies will collapse, economies will crash, that sort of thing. For example, in the Shogunate Province of Alba Superior (aka Britannia), the Legions were recalled to the Blessed Isle at the start of the Interregnum, and the local mortal kingdoms, the Prytanni, were given self-rule. The Dragon-Blooded governor, Artoria, disobeyed the order to return and stayed in Alba Superior to assist the newly-formed states in getting up and running, where she accepted the title/position of Penndraig, aka military commander-in-chief. Then, the Contagion hit, killing off 1/3 people, and the kingdoms were hard-pressed to withstand the effects of both the Great Contagion -and- the resurgance of the local Wyld mutants called alternatively fomorie/trol/jotnar. In order to prevent the peoples of Alba Superior from being wiped off the face of the earth, Artoria hired mercenaries from the migrating Aenglisc peoples from the Northern continent, paying them in land in return for military service against the Wyld mutants.

                      More and more Aenglisc warriors kept arriving, and more and more land was given to them for payment, until some of the local Prytennic kingdoms couldn't handle it any more, and a king of them, called Medraut, rose up in rebellion against both the Aenglisc 'invaders' and against the Dragonblood who brought them here (it helps to note than the Wyld threat was pretty much handled by this point). Lines were drawn, with several Prytennic kingdoms standing with Medraut, and the rest standing with Artoria and the Aenglisc. It was a pretty lopsided battle, with Medraut being pretty soundly defeated, yet at a terrible cost: Artoria herself was mortally wounded in a personal duel with Medraut, and the rest of the Prytennic kingdoms were battered and weakened as a result of the civil war. Before she died, she gave the title and position of Penndraig to the most prominent Aenglisc kings, Aelle, in return for his conversion to the Immaculate Faith. Many of both the Aenglisc pagan kings and the Prytennic kings disliked this, and left to form their own lands in the more distant parts of the island.

                      So, as a result of the Great Contagion and the Wyld resurgance, you have the formation of the Aenglisc Heptarchy, the Jotunfordr Jarldoms, and the Cyrminaich Cantrefs.


                      • #12
                        Canon strongly suggests that there was a huge lose of knowledge as a result of the Great Contagion and Balorian Crusade. The Shogunate experience a slow and steady decline in knowledge as a result of their inability to keep up everything from the High First Age, but the amount of death and destruction that brought about the Second Age erased knowledge from the world. The Great Contagion killed 90% of all life. This easily represents literally everyone that knew about certain topics dying. Then the Crusade came through and literally erased from existence storehouses of knowledge like libraries, converting them to Wyld unreality. In the aftermath there were probably cases where knowledge was destroyed out of a need for survival, books may have been burned to stay warm at night, a malfunctioning manse containing a wealth of knowledge may have been destroyed to stop it from releasing toxic essence into the environment. Knowledgeable people had bigger things to worry about than recording their knowledge or passing it on to the next generation.

                        Numenera as a setting may actually be a good example of how the people of Creation interact with the relics of the past, when they even do it at all.


                        • #13
                          What happened 700 years ago in real life. Does any of it impact you today beyond being informative of how we got to where we are now? Probably not. After 700 years those societies close to the Blessed Isle, and Dreaming Sea have had the support of Dynastic or Pure infrastructures to help bring mortals into a new age of non-apocalyptic success.

                          The Shogunate, Great Contagion, and the Balorian Crusade are all efforts in one way or another. They only exist in the game as a lesson (Lookshy aside) for people to learn from or cautionary tales.

                          These events are only tangentially important to people of creation now, where 30+ generations of mortals and 14+ generations of Dragon Blooded have come and passed. Even with Dragon-Blooded extended lifespans most of the living dragon blooded from the time period are like our WWII soldiers now, either old or dead. So the vast majority or everyone living except gods, elementals, lunars, and sidereal’s even have a clear picture of the time and what actually happened.

                          Those remaining survivors might consider this to a post apocalyptic version of creation, but for everyone else it’s forward progress of life, education, and industry. Even elder dragon-blooded 500+ years lived trough what they probably considered the Great Depression and most everything else has been an upward swing in their lives.

                          Patches of apocalypse might live on the fringes of creation, in areas where the lunars had less sway. Deaths of desert in the south, thick forgotten jungles in the east, and frozen norther climates, but they are probably less worried about the apocalypse and more worried about sustenance and shelter.

                          Craft rewrite.
                          Twitter Handle: at maudovajr


                          • #14
                            Hey thanks for a lot the advice so far, lots of good points. Especially on the societal, realm culture, and human perspective. One point I really didn’t address is the biological recovery.

                            Creation if a place of magic and gods so I imagine it would recover faster. However, I think of over ninety percent of all life dying (Great Contagion+ Balorian Crusade) and I can’t help but think of the Permian Extinction. Earth took thousands (if not millions) of years to recover from that event. If 9/10ths of all living organisms die then whole ecosystems collapse leaving the survivors with basically nothing. At that point you are not worried about the charismatic, big animals such as elephants or lions dying off but ubiquitous animals like mice and raccoons. Not to mention the whole web of symbiosis between plants and fungi. It isn’t even the first shock events (the disease and crusade) but the aftershocks, starvation, distance between individuals, and genetic bottle necking that could all play havoc compounding already deep losses further. If it were not for the fact that humans have exalted champions I would highly doubt the species would have made it.

                            Though as I stated first there is magic, gods, and other things running about so recovery could be much quicker. Perhaps certain gods at the time (and currently) keep menageries and gardens of the things they represent safe and sound in heaven? Which those gods in turn used to help repopulate creation. Perhaps the wyld energies themselves spawned great numbers of animals fitting the story themes of the crusaders like the strange animal mix-ups, animals lost to time such as dinosaurs common to creation.

                            All in all I am almost not bothered about the lost the knowledge or ruins. It is impressive that humans still even exist in setting instead of all starving to death seven hundred plus years ago in setting. Though all that is really depressing and doesn’t add to giant sword swinging adventures! But it is there and it bothers me that creation isn’t a complete and total wreck. I guess in a world of magic ruled by the rule of cool everything dying is just a foot note in a litany of constant disasters.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Maudova View Post
                              What happened 700 years ago in real life. Does any of it impact you today beyond being informative of how we got to where we are now? Probably not.
                              Depends on where and who you are.

                              ​The American continents had their own version of the Great Contagion, and I'd say the impact of that continues to have significance today.

                              I have approximate knowledge of many things.
                              Write up as I play Xenoblade Chronicles.