How Fate of Cthulhu (currently on Kickstarter) is doing something with mythos storytelling I've not seen before.

Bruce Redux

Not flying or biting
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As long as I'm thinking about inspirations: James Tiptree, Jr/Alice Sheldon wrote several stories with pretty suitable apocalypses that desperate time travel might, or might not, avert. "The Screwfly Solution" (note: you will want to hide the background for this link) with its marvelous, eerie ending is one such.

Spoiler: Show
The thing I have to write down is that I saw an angel too. This morning. It was big and sparkly, like the man said; like a Christmas tree without the tree. But I knew it was real because the frogs stopped croaking and two bluejays gave alarm calls. That's important; it was really there.

I watched it, sitting under my rock. It didn't move much. It sort of bent over and picked up something, leaves or twigs, I couldn't see. Then it did something with them around its middle, like putting them into an invisible sample-pocket.

Let me repeat—it was there. Barney, if you're reading this, THERE ARE THINGS HERE. And I think they've done whatever it is to us. Made us kill ourselves off.

Why? Well, it's a nice place, if it wasn't for people. How do you get rid of people? Bombs, death-rays—all very primitive. Leave a big mess. Destroy everything, craters, radioactivity, ruin the place.

This way there's no muss, no fuss. Just like what we did to the screwfly. Pinpoint the weak link, wait a bit while we do it for them. Only a few bones around; make good fertilizer.

Barney dear, good-bye. I saw it. It was there.

But it wasn't an angel.

I think I saw a real-estate agent.


There's also a nearly-humanity-annihilating catastrophe in the past of "Houston, Houston, Do You Read?", which literally only a few hundred people survive.
 

Ian_the_Skinny

Registered User
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And then it occurred to me that the whole "Sea of Decay" scenario overtaking the world could VERY much be understood as a Lovecraftian End of All Things scuttling bio-horror scenario... albeit a "win" condition for our time travellers, because humanity has definitely survived.

Woah. WOAHHHHHHH. Woah.
Okay yeah that’s cool
It's been a really long time since I read Nausicaä, but I seem to remember that the poison that's overtaken the world is slowly receding.
“Slowly receding” is the exact opposite of what the Sea of Corruption is doing.
Spoiler: Show
What Nausicaa discovers is that the Sea of Corruption is a genetically engineered ecosystem that is working to cleanse the world of radiation - the problem is that it is cleansing it of the people and animals that have adapted to the post-apocalypse as well.
It’s also stated that birth rates are declining. While the comic ends on a hopeful note, the future of humanity is still very much in question.
 

The Unshaven

Registered User
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Deal. I'll watch out for this.
Yay! If you pledge $10 USD, you get instant access to the full no-art version of the game, and can then decide if you want to upgrade for all the PDFs in the kickstarter.

Okay yeah that’s cool
I'm glad that works for you!

I'm wary about turning the thread into the All Nausicaa Of The Valley Of The Wind Channel, but I had some overnight thoughts that make the manga EVEN BETTER while also connecting to why I think it connects to a Lovecraft-esque mythos, and questions relevant to FOC.

It just... isn't something I can explain without like Double-Secret Omega spoiling the story.

So, here goes: major spoilers for Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind live here:

Spoiler: Show
The whole question of how to value life in apocalypse situations is something that Nausicaa has woven through its whole narrative.

Effectively, the world was destroyed by human wars using incomprehensibly dangerous advanced autonomous weapons that were also radioactive as hell. This poisoned the planet.

An artificial ecosystem was unleashed onto the world to spread, absorb, contain, and eventually neutralise the toxins poisoning the world. This became known as the Sea of Decay. The ecosystem and its member components became conscious, although it was up for debate to what extent that was an accident, or part of its design.

Part of the problem is that the ecosystem and life within it are deathly toxic to human life... during the process whereby the poison is being gradually neutralised. Once the underlying toxins are gone, it's fine. But it's a long process expected to take many, many, many generations, and during that time the Sea of Decay is an existential threat to the surviving pockets of humanity. Birthrates are falling, people who are exposed to its gases even for brief periods of time get terminal diseases. And its spread means that the isolated pockets of remaining humanity shrink further.

So that's spoilery background.

Where this gets particularly relevant for FOC is the revelations at the end of the story: there is a deeply bunkered supercomputer from the days before the apocalypse, filled with incredibly advanced, incomprehensible knowledge and technology. It has been gradually sharing crumbs of its secrets to societies that obey it, which it has used over generations to destabililise societies and generally be a spider in a manipulative web. It has caused wars. It has engineered atrocities. And occasionally those things happened without it because humans are humans.

But what turns out to be going on is that the purpose of the bunkered supercomputer is to protect a cache of people from before the apocalypse who are waiting out the age of the Sea of Decay. The whole plan is for them to walk out onto a world once more made pristine for them aeons after the disaster they caused.

The computer, and the people who programmed it, have actively written-off all of the people who survived the apocalypse. Those survivors are not "truly human." They're mutants who have adapted to survive a poisoned world, to such an extent that exposure to air that the bunker-people would consider "non-toxic" will kill them. The super-computer's purpose is to keep the factions outside the bunker fighting each other over the crumbs it offers so that there's no united force that might pose a threat to the release of the eventual bunker-people, who will either exterminate the surviving interlopers when their time arrives to leave, or wait for them to die off first.

So, connecting things back:

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is a story about a world facing an apocalyptic threat posed by a shadowy, manipulative entity reaching out of an unimaginable, antediluvian past to reshape society to work unknowingly in service of its ancient masters, and which wields unimaginably advanced technology that mortal minds cannot comprehend.

In the setting, the ancient unliving threat to society is us - the people from before the apocalypse. And the fact we can't let go of our time on the world and pass the torch, instead preferring to treat uncountable generations of survivors as an accident that can be erased and then forgotten.

Worse, it's strongly implied that since the people from before the apocalypse are from the same culture that wrecked everything in the first place, that once they're freed they're going to go right back to warring over things again with cataclysmic weapons.

It feels very, very mythos-like, except the Great Old Ones are an outgrowth of our current society.

It ALSO raises questions for FOC, in that in many ways the conflict underlying Nausicaa is the conflict faced by time travellers. Do you write-off the fact that people HAVE survived the apocalypse, albeit changed in ways you don't understand or recognise and try to save what YOU understand as society by risking extinction, which is what the bunker supercomputer is doing, or do you try to preserve that changed state of a meagre handful of survivors as enough of a win-condition to fight for?
 
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Timon

Unabashed optimist
RPGnet Member
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Backed this. I was kind of done with Cthulhu but this does seem like an interesting take. Also I am a Fate completist.
 

Ficino

Rascally Rabbit
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It's an interesting idea but I have to say that optimism sort of takes away one of the key things that differentiates cosmic horror from other types of horror. Actively malicious great old ones pushes it even further into the more mainstream take on horror...
Yeah, that sums it up for me. I don't find the Mythos that interesting, aside for the cosmic horror elements. It's rather like a new take on the Grinch in which, rather than saving Christmas, he burns down Whoville. If he's not saving Christmas, I've got no use for him. If other people do, that's great.
 

JetstreamGW

Seeker
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Yeah, that sums it up for me. I don't find the Mythos that interesting, aside for the cosmic horror elements. It's rather like a new take on the Grinch in which, rather than saving Christmas, he burns down Whoville. If he's not saving Christmas, I've got no use for him. If other people do, that's great.
But the Grinch didn’t save Christmas. He just reneged on his theft of Christmas when he realized that The Whos weren’t gonna let his nonsense wreck their holiday.
 

KaijuGooGoo

Not Woke until I’ve had my Coffee
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You don't have to have actively malicious Great Old Ones for them or their followers to have done something to wreck civilization.
 

Bruce Redux

Not flying or biting
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In fact, at least one of the timelines in Fate of Cthulhu is very explicitly about that - people tugged on the wrong bits and it all came down on us.
 
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