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🎨 Creative The Fall of Mankind (D&Desque world)

Accelerator

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Inspired by this:

You know something? I wish for races do things to.... alter and surpass their in-born limitations. To break free of the mold of the cliches. To develop ways to overcome their weaknesses. Just like normal sophonts do.

Elves grow long lives and reproduce slowly? Use their innate magic to make artificial wombs, so that they don't need to limit themselves to their low birth rates. So now the elven population has exploded. Their populations has pretty much tripled, and their social structures are creaking as they try to deal with it. Elven teachers, once used to training apprentices and students once every decade, now find themselves being forced to teach five children at once. There is a distinct lack of space. Some conservative factions within the elven race, deride these artificially born elves, calling them abominations. There might now be war, as social unrest and lack of necessary resources push and pull within the elven race. They have never warred amongst themselves before, so small was their population. But now... that has changed. Now battalions and legions of elves armed with deadly, legendary weapons and the world's strongest magic now look upon the world with hungry eyes. Once, their numbers were too small to fight any protracted conflict. But that had ended. Now....

The humans are no longer the weaklings in magic. Long-since deficient when using magic, they have turned their resources to change this. And they have succeeded. Artificial linker-cores, mechanical spell-casters, mana forges, and artificial mages have changed this. Now, mana-sparks light up the cities, and war-machines animated by sorcery march through the battlefields. Whether the century will end in salvation or annihilation, none can tell. Either mankind will annihilate themselves in an arms race, that will shatter their cities and obliterate their species, or they will come out of this stronger than ever before.

The orks... ah, the orks. Always jealous of the civilized races. Always pushed to the harshest deserts, the desolate wastelands, the emptiest of the plains, where no life grows. Always sent to the harshest and most arid regions, where there are no resources. One ork, furious, spent his time smithing and inventing. Taking rare scrolls, rare reagants, knowledge from the gods themselves, he endeavoured a way to help augment the ork race. He did not simply hate the orks poverty. He hated how their passions and anger caused them to disdain knowledge and thinking, leading them to be outsmarted and tricked. He hated how their individualism and rebellion against authority lead them to be fractured and disunited. And he hated how despite their hardy bodies, they were still dying everyday to the ravages of the environment. And, he succeeded. The ork race is no more. Now, the only thing left were legions of upon legions of shining steel figures. Eyes looking upon the other races, gleaming with disdain, contempt, and hate. The ork had succeeded. The orks no longer bellowed in great roars and warcries. They now fought in eerie silence. They no longer charged forward in a disorganized mob, heedless of tactics. Now they marched in perfect synchronization, executing complex tactical maneuvers and strategies like clockwork. They no longer fought themselves, and instead now worked as one. And now, they no longer felt anything, save for hate for the races which forced them to adopt this state to survive. Beware the mirror-devils, for they are untiring and pitiless....

I should stop reading 40k.
It was the height of Mankind’s rise to the apex. It was their dawn promise. The ages of the Elves and the Dwarves had long since passed, their numbers dwindling, their races long since enclosed within small territories. Their elders, reduced to reminisencing of their past glories. Surrounded by achievements they will never again equal.

Then the Plague struck. It struck all, but the humans were the hardest hit. The elves were naturally spellcasters, the orcs and dwarves had hardy constitutions, and what not.

But... the humans were hit hard. Their numbers worked against them. Their great cities, packed so densely with people, became cesspits of the plague. Their weaker constitutions had them slain in numbers unheard of. The Plague took their weakest, their pregnant, their children, their elders. Their societies broke apart, as ninety-nine out of a hundred were slain. People scattered amongst the countryside, or committed suicide as their worlds fell apart about them. Grand masters of sorcery awoke one morning, to realise that their students were no longer with them. Warriors wandered the land, searching for someone. Anyone to they can save or protect. To no avail. Hamlets, villages, towns, cities... all depopulated by the virus, emptying of all human life. Within just a few years, they began to be reclaimed by nature, Towns were swallowed up by forests. Paving stones were shattered by tree roots. Great libraries rotted away. Eventually, they would recollect and regroup, regaining some of their old power. But it was too late. They had lost their leading edge.

Their destruction by the plague, meant that the empires of man no longer existed. Orc warbands could no longer be fought back. Diplomatic treatises and settlers could no longer encroach on Elven lands. The loss of Farmers, meant that the Dwarves in their mines now had more space than they knew what to do with.

Of course, not all was fine and dandy for the other races. Some cities starved, lacking supplies of grain from farms that were now desolate. The city of Parata was left destitute as their buyers were slain in droves. But on the whole, the other races weathered the cataclysm better than the others. And... changed.

One wonders what happened. Perhaps a twist of fate? A cruel joke, by a god? The balance between races? Or, perhaps it was one of those things which could only be looked at by later generations, and pointed to as the moment the pendulum swung?

The Elves weakness was always their numbers. Their magic, their long lives, their natural prowess, meant less than nothing when outnumbered a thousand to one. Knowing this as a problem, the leaders of the elves poured their knowledge, magic, and wisdom into solving this problem. And as the race of man fell, they hit upon a solution. Vats. Vats, to artificially bring an elf child to conception. An elven woman would bear three or four children in a century. With the vats, they could produce ten children a month. The elven population, for lack of a better word, exploded. Teachers found themselves swamped, teaching 5 children where they once taught one. Crafters and Builders found themselves runned ragged, as the new arrivals needed everything, like bows, clothes, and shoes, all the little things children needed. The social institutions are strained, as the population grew and grew. There is constant tension. Some deride these elves as artificial abominations. Some think that the vats did not go far enough. If they could create their own children, should they not modify them? Regardless, they needed a distraction. Perhaps a common enemy could unite the Elven Race and prevent them from imploding.

Spoiler: Show

Elves grow long lives and reproduce slowly? Use their innate magic to make artificial wombs, so that they don't need to limit themselves to their low birth rates. So now the elven population has exploded. Their populations has pretty much tripled, and their social structures are creaking as they try to deal with it. Elven teachers, once used to training apprentices and students once every decade, now find themselves being forced to teach five children at once. There is a distinct lack of space. Some conservative factions within the elven race, deride these artificially born elves, calling them abominations. There might now be war, as social unrest and lack of necessary resources push and pull within the elven race. They have never warred amongst themselves before, so small was their population. But now... that has changed. Now battalions and legions of elves armed with deadly, legendary weapons and the world's strongest magic now look upon the world with hungry eyes. Once, their numbers were too small to fight any protracted conflict. But that had ended. Now....


The dwarves always had an affinity for metal, technology, and craft. Being born of the earth, and having an innate talent and affinity with technology and clever works of all kind, their craftsmanship and machines were famed amongst the world. And as the plague struck, and they found themselves bereft of friends, customers, and colleagues, some turned to technology, seeking to repair the weakness of flesh, saddened by the deaths of their human friends. They did it, again and again. They researched. They strained their minds and muscles, as they seeked to obtain their goal. And in some way, they succeeded.
The first was Teralax Munanis, a foremost in golem engineering, runic magic, and enchantment of intelligence. His assistants found his body, cold and in a coma, devoid of spirit... and the construct he had been working on in the past decade, alive and moving. It was not powered by powerstone or crystal. It was not moved by mana battery. It was powered by the craftsman’s very soul, his own soul puppeting and moving it like a man moving a puppet, or a person in clothes. His body was of metal. His eyes, solid mercury. Yet, when he lifted his hammer, all knew that it was their beloved craftsman. And what a change he had! He now never tired. He never weakened. He did not need eat nor sleep. His new body channeled magic better than his old one ever did. HIs new mind, freed from the prison of fragile flesh, was now far more clearer, far more logical, and far more efficient than before. And lo! Behold the way he changes his body! He detached his hand, and replaced it with another. Now he had tools that he could use, that could let him manipulate and craft on a scale far smaller than the nimblest hobbit. And then another hand, that could let him smash into shape mythril, a metal that previously needed entire river-powered hammers to shape. A body that could be reshaped and altered to suit the situation. Craftsman and craft, becoming inseparable. The line, blurred.

He stood before the Conclave of Dwarves, and showed himself and his mystical new body. In that, they marveled. He embodied the Dwarf virtues. Hard work. Craftsmanship. Focus. Untiring diligence. Rationality. Adaptability. Labour. The consensus was inevitable. All must forsake the weakness of flesh. And with a single cry, seeing their ideal form within reach, the Dwarven race, changed.

*Or perhaps without mankind banging on their mountain homes, they had time for other projects. HIstory is unclear....
 

Accelerator

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Gnomes:
The gnomes. Younger sibling of the Dwarves. Their creations are far less puissant, less mighty, less epic. Nevertheless, they are famed and skilled in their own right. A dwarven creation may be a wonder in a noble’s home or placed in the collection of a magistrate.... but one can easily find gnome-made automatons or devices on the street corner. Little boxes with dancing men and moving pictures for entertainment. Self-driving carts with heating elements and water pumps, for the fleet of street sellers that work for the guild. Watches, clocks, and various little clever mechanical devices, all ordered in bulk, and all made by gnomes. They were famed for their reliability, cheapness, and their great clockworks.

Which underlines the horror of what had happened to them.

The gnomes were on the cusp of a renaissance, a creation of clockwork. During the plague, they ignored what was happening, their full efforts on their newest project. A new clockwork. A thinking machine, meant to be as above them as they were above ants. A gigantic clockwork titan, meant to be as an aide and a ruler of their race, to help bring them to prosperity. They designed it. They built it. They wound it up. They turned the key. And they started it.

There is a realm beyond realms. A place behind everything. Dimensions, parallel universes, alternate worlds. Often, these are obscured and hidden from ordinary sight. Even the mightiest of the mages can only see and perceive a few, and most of them, are realms that are closely related to their own. Those more esoteric realms, containing intelligences that do not resemble those of humans or any creature on Earth, are often difficult to perceive. And this goes the other way as well. The minds of the creatures of this realm, are difficult for these Outsiders to comprehend. Except for one piece. The universal language. Mathematics.

If an ordinary sentient’s thoughts was a buzzing of a fly, a mechanical clockwork computer was a person speaking. If the collective thoughts of an entire world was the equivalent of an entire field buzzing with crickets, then the mechanical clock that the Gnomes had built was the equivalent of an entire orchestra. One grabbed the attention. One didn’t. And as the clockwork god of the Gnome began to tick, something descended upon them. Something breached the skeins of reality, as the patterned thoughts and impulses pulsing through the machine wore down the barrier between realities.

The Gnome race is no more. At least, not in any way that is recognisable. Something within them had taken over, puppeting their bodies, using them the same way one would move his chess pieces or toy soldiers. Eyes blank, faces grinning with sadistic glee, bodies moving with inhuman coordination and precision. The Gnome race now marches. No more clocks. No more toys. No more little men. Now they march out, along with hissing clockwork war machines, to break the other races beneath the yoke. Implants of clockwork and other, more esoteric machinery and devices, are connected to their bodies. Replacing eyes. Replacing hands. Replacing limbs. Replacing brains. The creature puppeting their bodies, altering his servants to better serve his purpose. They aim to take their bodies and make them join in their collective. And then, they would deploy more clockwork gods at each corner of the World, and then activate them.

The thing which stole their souls and use their bodies, only has a tiny foothold within the world. The equivalent of a hand or foot or a finger. It is not its full power. Once the Gnomes fully break the barrier between realities, they can fully enter reality, and devour all. Souls. Life. Leylines. Magic. Sun, moon, stars. Eternal night.

A/N: Some gnomes did not make it back to their lands. They either seek a way to free their race... or put it out of their misery.

The Orks

The orks. Always persecuted. Always chased out of fertile lands. Spat upon, shunned, and despised. Not always without reason, but sometimes more than they deserved. Driven out of fertile lands and rich mountains, they were forced to the wastelands. To the desolate places where no one wished to go to. To starve, to rut, to try their best to farm. They starved, for lack of fertile soil to grow food. And other spoke. “Look at the orks! So stupid, they do not know how to farm for their food!” And when they were starving, they took up arms and took their lands back, and took the spoils. And others spoke. “Look at the orks! How barbaric and savage. Let us strike them down, before they overrun us all!” And they were driven back.

The orks were driven to desolate wastes, where the ground was hard and the rain, scarce. They dug with their bare hands, for they had no metal for ploughing. They thirsted, as they had no tools for digging. One of them, a wise man named Garzgul, took pains upon himself to gain them the material they needed. He was an old man, fighting, defending, and leading his people since young. He had lead them when they fought against marauders seeking to slay them as pests. He lit their hearts with fire, when they starved during winter and their bellies grumbled with hunger. He led them away, and made entreaties for mercy when the Ork race was finally driven out into the wastelands. And now, here may be the orc’s final trial, before they were all dead.

Alas, disaster struck. The forge exploded, slaying many orcs. Weeks and months of hard labour, of digging ore and building the forge. Of gathering precious firewood, of digging and making clay bricks. All that effort. Wasted. Garzgul looked upon the dead face of his followers, who had followed him through thick and thin, and had trusted him so, and excused himself to meditate upon the nearby mountain.

Others did not dare follow him.

There, Garzgul wept. For what could they do now? He was no weak minded weakling. But the orks were spat upon and shunned by every other race. They had no allies. No sympathy. No resources. No money. No food. More and more died everyday. Some from hunger. Some from thirst. Some from wild animals. And some from despair. Perhaps the orks deserved this. Perhaps not. But they were his people, and he had to help them.

They were about to be annihilated. And he was willing to do anything to avert that fate.

Salvation came from an unlikely place. A vision took over him. A green sun, over a black basalt city. An acidic sea. An infinite desert. A silver forest. A black boar. Infinite coils, and a sphere of words. Someone out there knew his pain. And someone out there, reached out.
When Garzgul went down the mountain, he was filled with new life. Green fire burnt from his eyes, and he mouthed words of encouragement and hope. He did new things, made new ideas. This place had nothing. No metal. No fertile ground. Nothing, which was why they were allowed to keep it. They could not prosper the same way other races did. So they would not. They would try a different way. The orks, had to change. But he warned that this would be irreversible. He had no idea whether this would lead them to the abyss, or grant them ascendance.

It took less than a moment for the orks to shout assent. They had nothing to lose.


First came the trees. Silver-barked, that fed on heat and light, whose roots could survive the desolate rock, that pierced into aquifers and brought the cleansing water into fruits. The orks took them, and drank their fill. Then came the wormss, one which could eat rock and sand, and grew quickly and fat. These were eaten, and the orks lied down with full bellies. Then more and more. Plants which altered the climate beneath their branches, letting Garzgul plant medicinal herbs, to tend to the wounded and the sick. And he taught the rest, how to twist life into new forms. To alter them, to suit their needs. Metal was replaced with chitin and ironwood. Their mounts were transformed, turning into great and strong beasts. Termites, ants, and honeybees, worked to get to build strong homes and houses for the Orcs. They were surviving, and for the first time, they did not truly want for anything.

Garzgul did not think this was enough. It was never enough, he preached. Soon, he said, others would come and see what they had, and try to take it from them. Soon, they will lose everything. Unless they fought back. Unless they made sure they were never weak again. Again, he was heard, and they agreed. Conveniently forgetting the times they had started those wars. The orks always disdain the complex sorcery of the elves, the battle formations of the humans, and the complex machinery of the dwarves and the gnomes. Always relying on their own native brute strength and prowess to carry the day. But it was not enough, said Garzgul, earning some grumbling from the younger orks. Their strength was not enough, and thus they were driven out. The solution is simple:

They have to become stronger.

The orks now march into the world, intent on revenge, conquest, and loot. They swing weapons of chitin, claw, and ironwood. Their skin is near-impervious, defended by a fungus that fed on ork sweat and created a near impenetrable armour. Their mounts, once wild and frightening, are now worse, covered by iron scales and breathing green fire. Their eyes burn with burning flame, a side effect of the bacteria they placed inside for night vision. Strapped to their arms are beetles whose internal organs mix together volatile chemicals, expelling them in great gouts of flame. Flying beasts move above the horde, ridden by orks trained for their roles, firing out explosive symbiotes from underhung ovipositors. Ork strike teams land, riding dragonfly-winged beasts, and wreck havoc behind enemy lines. Within each ork are symbiotes and parasites, releasing adrenaline and muscle-enhancing potions, healing their wounds and drinking the lactic acid that brings fatigue. The orks are stronger than ever, and they now bring revenge, and the worship of their new patrons.
 

vitruvian

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I like how you have gnomes using clockwork Babbage engines rather than arcane spellcasters being the ones to trigger Case Nightmare Green... along with shades of March of the Toy Soldiers and the Borg from Star Trek:TNG.
 

Accelerator

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I like how you have gnomes using clockwork Babbage engines rather than arcane spellcasters being the ones to trigger Case Nightmare Green... along with shades of March of the Toy Soldiers and the Borg from Star Trek:TNG.
Truly? I thought it was obvious. Gnomes = clockworks = computers = lovecraft.

The borg? Yes. My first idea was to use the Dwarves. What with a combination of Necrons, Cult Mechanicus, and other things. Then I realized that full-on body mods with mind uploading, isn't conducive to the kind of image I wanted to send.

So yes, lovecraft.

Originally, it was meant to be rather ambiguous. Was something puppeting them, or have the gnomes truly found transcendence within their clockwork god? Is it truly apoethesis they preach, or do those clockwork implants hold something far more sinister?

Besides, I'm tired of the arcane spellcasters causing the apoclypse. Let someone else have a turn.
 

vitruvian

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Truly? I thought it was obvious. Gnomes = clockworks = computers = lovecraft.

The borg? Yes. My first idea was to use the Dwarves. What with a combination of Necrons, Cult Mechanicus, and other things. Then I realized that full-on body mods with mind uploading, isn't conducive to the kind of image I wanted to send.

So yes, lovecraft.

Originally, it was meant to be rather ambiguous. Was something puppeting them, or have the gnomes truly found transcendence within their clockwork god? Is it truly apoethesis they preach, or do those clockwork implants hold something far more sinister?

Besides, I'm tired of the arcane spellcasters causing the apoclypse. Let someone else have a turn.
So, let's see, so far:

Humans are all but wiped out, certainly their political organization is gone except perhaps in some small enclaves. There seems to be an assumption that they were the majority of farmers, making me wonder how other races such as dwarves who are mentioned to have gotten food from them survive to make their respective transitions; maybe imports from human farmlands were always just supplemental, with big fungi farms in the deeps of their caverns and mines. I'll come back to the question of farming a bit later, but for now, what is the tendency for the remnant human race - cluster together into small enclaves, protected by newly dominant dwarves, elves, etc. possibly, or to live among the other races in smaller family groups or at most small sections of their cities? Reservations or assimilation or a mix of both, and what does this mean for any remaining political institutions or traditions? Are there any restrictions imposed on their reproduction and potential for rapidly (in dwarf and elf terms at least) rebuilding their population, either by their hosts or new rulers or by lingering effects of the original plague?

Elves come up with artificial womb vats and are going through a population explosion as a result. But to the extent this is causing problems for them, why? Is use of the vats to produce offspring mandatory? If so, on whose orders - what is their current political structure, where such edicts can be enforced? Are they expanding into formerly human lands and territories as part of this population explosion? How long has this been going on - are even the first generation of vatborn elves physically grown up, let alone at a point where they're considered responsible adults?

The dwarves have gone through their own version of the Singularity, converting themselves into robo-dwarf constructs. Your initial take has them all accepting this change in unison, but are there any traditionalists holding onto the flesh at all? Does the process work on children, or do they need to wait for maturity? Once the entire population has undergone conversion, do the new construct versions of the race have any capacity for reproduction and the creation of new personalities and souls, or are they a static population of potential immortals? Do their new bodies require any source of energy and raw materials for new parts and repairs, or are they perpetual motion machines; or, if they do run completely on their original soul/spirit, is that perpetual or something that gets depleted over time? Can it be replenished by fair means or foul?

The gnomes have their own invasive clockpunk Singularity in which they are taken over by alien minds, it seems - but within the new order, are any individual personalities still retained? Even through the filter of the overtaken gnomes, do the outsiders fully comprehend the nature of the material planes apart from mathematics? What kind of resources does this new organization still require, and how can it be sustained - do the gnome bodies still require food and drink? Can they still reproduce themselves? Is it just gnome bodies and clockwork constructs and hybrids between the two, or even beyond other sapient races do they also assimilate other forms of life such as squirrels and other forest animal friends? How are orders and thoughts transmitted, and is the system primarily centralized within a few large clockwork calculating engines or completely distributed?

The orcs have gone all biopunk, although it's not clear to me exactly how they managed it - were the first strange bio-tools described derived from a foreign biome, with modifications to native species such as bees coming later? I could see them even using tarrasque-level monsters as kaiju terror weapons, or with suitable control systems and howdahs, as part of invading armies.

Of the usual 'core' races in D&Desque worlds, that still leaves halflings. With their small size and sturdiness, I imagine them as always having been pretty effective and efficient as farmers, and surprisingly competent at defending any territory they chose to hold when needed, whether it be rural or urban. They would take over at least some of the depopulated human farmlands, and they would be the most effective scavengers and survivors in the emptied human cities - especially if they were already a little noticed yet powerful faction and presence. If there were no longer human knights, wizards, armies about to defend against bandits and invading hordes, they would just have to step up themselves, but using their preferred tactics of stealth, hit and run, and terrifyingly accurate ranged attacks. If we want them to go through a transformation of their own, I would see it as somehow leaning into their existing strengths, but taken to the Nth level. Depending on the original baseline, there's no reason they couldn't have had some enchanters and tinkerers of their own, along with the handful of adventurers who were effectively ninja superheroes or forest magicians (rangers) even without assistance from such. What if they were able to use one method or another to make themselves a race of invisible at will deadly snipers (whether with wands or actual firearms) whose actual homes are perfectly hidden from view - not just hobbit holes but halfling bunkers. Or if that's not enough of a transformation, they somehow came to partake of other dimensions, able to not just fade from view but blur, blink, teleport, phasing in and out of observable existence - perhaps with a domesticated race of blink dogs as their new favorite pets and companions.

I'm thinking that with the different transhumanist themes you're already playing with, there's room for a faction of intelligent undead, led by liches or something similar. After all, there's nothing saying that all those humans killed in the plague didn't leave perfectly serviceable bodies for raising. What if there was a faction of humanity-derived undead that decided to do so not only so they could have fodder for undead armies, but actually tried to come up with a means of raising the dead that actually preserved consciousness and personality? Of course, the common undead so raised would owe their lichlords an unpayable debt for maintaining their existence... there could even be more than one such group; where necromancers become liches would use more necromancy to their purposes, perhaps at the same time vampires raced the clock to turn as many of their mortal kine as they could, and then started to prey on the other races in the absence of their old food supply. Ghouls, provided a surfeit of available food by the plague, might have started to spontaneously acquire a higher level of consciousness, and so on. The few remaining living humans might have the additional burden of always being under suspicion by the other races of being undead and having to constantly prove that they are actually mortal and not to be disposed of just to be safe.

Also, you've covered orcs, but not other major humanoid 'antagonist' races that may have been around but pushed to the borderlands by human hegemony prior to the apocalypse. Do the goblinoid races just come loot the unprotected human lands, then retreat to their pitiful ruins and warrens, or do they stick around and set up their own territories? The hobgoblins at least know how to organize for warfare, so this might extend to figuring out that they need to set themselves and their goblin kin up for sustainable farming and living once the easy pickings are gone. I'm not seeing an obvious avenue for true transformation beyond that, except possibly for them to pursue arcane training of enough warmages to actually make magical artillery a central tenet of their military doctrine, perhaps along with actual artillery and personal arms. I'm seeing something like a Napoleonic era military force with major magical support...

And then there's plenty that could be done with less humanoid races and factions in the post-apocalyptic world. Are dryads and treants trying to make their forests reclaim all cleared lands and cover continents once more? How many dragons realized that there were whole cities worth of unclaimed treasure to be made a part of their own hoards?
 
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