View Full Version : The Cradle

2010-04-10, 10:37 AM
“Somewhere far away, a non-descript planet orbits a non-descript sun. That planet happens to be God.

Said planet is also home to a myriad of creatures, which live largely ignorant of the fact. While ancient cataclysms have rendered large portions of its surface barren and uninhabitable, life still persists in the depressions of its crust. Largest of these depressions is called the Cradle, named so because legends claim all life once began there. Middle of it is submerged in water, forming the last known sea of the world. Greatest civilizations of present day live on its beaches, while some of the more tenacious people have hewn long, maze-like tunnels and burrows to the high mountains circling this haven.

Life is not easy. For many, space and resources are scarce, and vicious wars are often fought between species. Still, rare few fall into despair. Even in the darkest of times, good-minded people rise to advocate peace, and those with a heart of adventure seek tirelessly the ancient God Warriors, in hope that the world will one day restored to its former glory.

Unfortunately, not all parties agree. Encased in stone, ancient Demon Lords bide their time, waiting for their kin to be released so they can finally accomplish their ancient mission: to awaken the God Beast, and bring forth the destruction of the world…”

This is my little world-building project I’ve been dabbling with for a while. Now that I finally have the bare bones of the setting put down, I decided to post it here for some helpful criticism. The idea is that by answering your inquiries, I can better focus my writing and flesh out my setting.

Primarily my aim is just aiming to create a fun and unique setting to use with my roleplaying group, but also to tie together all the various ideas I have flying around in my head for various short stories I’ve been writing. Hopefully, I can eventually use this as a starting point for my own novel. I posted this here instead of, say, homebrewing forum, because right now this solely a creative writing exercise - if I oneday craft mechanics for it, it'll be another project entirely.

Don’t expect anything too coherent just yet – most what I have is just various notes I’ve scribbled down at random. I hope you find some enjoyment out of them.

The Elder Gods: The three most ancient beings known, unfathomably powerful and ineffable to mortal minds. They are known as the Celestial Queen, The Golden Beast and the Silver Dragon.

The Golden Beast: also referred to as “the god of thousand hands with golden horns”, or just “the Beast”. When the time itself began, it hatched from an egg at the edge of nothingness, and supposedly created the universe from the shards of its egg. After it was done, it coiled before what we call the Sun, and went to sleep. Its body forms the core of the world, and its mind gives birth to and rules over the natural laws. One day, it will wake up and roam free once more among the stars. Obviously, the world will be destroyed by then as well.

The Silver Dragon: also “Mother”, “the Traveller”, “Starspawn” or just “the Dragon”. Supposedly it is a kindred being or a mate of the Beast. Born when the stars were young, it fell from the heavens in antediluvian times. Injured by its descent, it basked beside the Beast. Its blood mixed with water and gave birth to life as we know it. It is known for its longing to the stars, and attributed with being the source of dreams and fantasies. Its purpose in the world’s life cycle is uncertain – some think it will be eaten by the Beast at the world’s ending, where as others think it will spring to the skies first, prompting a new shattering.

The Celestial Queen: Enigmatic being which has existed nearly as long as the Beast itself. It is tasked with keeping the creation together while the Beast sleeps. While it has appeared to mortals in a recognizable form, in truth it is shapeless and diffused throughout the whole of the universe.

God Warriors: ancient war machines designed to enslave life and to destroy the Silver Dragon. When the Dragon pleaded for the Beast’s help, it’s mind lashed out and seized control of the automatons, thus making each God Warrior an incarnation of one of its aspects. When their creators lest, the Warriors went to long hibernation. Later they rose to guide and watch over sapient beings, becoming patrons of different species.

Demon Gods: this term refers to three beings: Lord of Nightmares, the fallen God Warrior, and the new patrons of humans, War and Death. They rule over Demons, malicious spirits of the Lords previous protégés. They are the harbingers of apocalypse and will without doubt one day trigger the awakening of the Beast.

Cosmology:Some tidbits of information to give a better general feel of how the world works.

Material Realm: the everyday world everyone knows of. This is the level of existence where physical objects interact and mortals go about their lives, according to the laws of nature determined by the Beast.

Magic: while mortals call a wide variety of things they don’t understand “magic”, there are real metaphysical forces one can interact with. Magic as a whole consists of dealing with a wide variety of spirits, with different types being defined by what sort of spirits and how they are dealt with.

Charming: the simplest form of magic, and also the only one that can invoked accidentally. It does not require the user to step into the Spiritual realm. It’s based around bribing, persuading, seducing and intimidating sentient nature spirits to do one’s bidding. While haphazard at best, it doesn’t have as far-reaching implications for the user as more powerful forms of magic.
Wizardry: a more difficult form of magic, used by reaching to the spirit world. The wizard then imposes his will and personality over non-sentient nature spirits, thus gaining control over laws of nature. However, the more one practices wizardry, the more intertwined one becomes with the fabric of the Spiritual Realm. Souls of powerful wizards eventually meld into the soul of the Beast, becoming lesser versions of the God Warriors.
Necromancy: form of magic dealing primarily with souls of the living and especially the dead. While weak incantations can summon souls of the recently deceased to the Material Realm, the greatest uses of this art require the user to travel all the way to the Grave. This often attracts unwanted attention from the guardians of afterlife, and thus necromancers often find themselves removed from the Wheel of Life a bit… prematurely.
Sorcery: by far the most dangerous and grimmest form magic, its basic methods are similar to necromancy; however, the spirits called forth are none other than the Demons of the ancient world. While powerful in their own right, the infernal beings often do their best to twist the wishes and orders of their summoners, and thus their services often come at a heavy price. Most sorcerers find themselves unwittingly bound to their servants, and are eventually forced to join the legions of apocalypse.

Spiritual Realm: the level of reality where spirits work, adjusting and maintaining the laws of nature. Objects and places of the Material Realm look hazy and ethereal when viewed from the Spiritual Realm, and time passes at different pace in the two. Still, they are not separate, but more like extensions of each other. It is possible to accidentally cross from one to the other and get hopelessly lost. The spiritual realm contains echoes of places that exist in the Material Realm no longer, or don’t exist yet. There are also places in the two realms that lack an analogue in the other.

The Grave: a special place in the Spiritual Realm where souls of the dead are brought to wait for their eventual departure from the world. The Grave is eternally dark, and living beings fill feel as if a cold breeze or flow is sapping their strength and lulling them to sleep. If one just knows their names, it is possible to call forth people long gone and speak to them for knowledge, and powerful necromancers can even lead souls back to life. However, if one wanders too deep to the grave, it is said the laws of nature seize to bind them and they will fall to the sky forever more, disappearing from the cycle of life completely.

Wheel of Life: used to describe transmigration of souls in the world. The Celestial Queen angles souls from the great flow of the cosmos, so they can be born, die and be reborn until they either bind themselves to the world or are swept away by the flow once again.

The Flow: torrent of energy initiated by the Beast at the beginning of time, watched over by the Celestial Queen. It both brings and takes away souls from the world.

Last but not least, here's an abstract representation of the world. (http://img361.imageshack.us/img361/2628/world.jpg) The divided orb in the middle represents the Material Realm and the two divine beings who sleep within it. The white-and-red area represent the Spiritual realm and the grey-and-black area is the Grave. The blue line is the world's orbit around the sun, pictured as the yellow smear in the upper left corner.

Sapient species: Not much here, for now. Many creatures are alluded to in the history, but I've yet to do write ups of them.

The Elder People: first species to grace the world, they were originally born somewhere else and predated modern life. Utterly alien in nature, there was and never will be anything like them. As a testament to their might, some of their structures still stand, even though millennia have passed since they left the world. They created the God Warriors.

History (Long Version):This is a stab at making a complete timeline for the setting. Though they are currently missing from the list, I'll mainly focus on detailing the Sixth and Seventh Ages of the world. Together they span something like 10 000 years, but due to greater detail, their invidual entries will probably be longer than the rest of the list combined.

Age of Creation

The Golden Beast hatches from the Great Egg at the edge of nothingness. It reaches out to the shards of its home and with its thousand hands forges the heavens from them.
After exhausting itself, the Beast coils before one of its Solar children, falling to slumber in its tender light. Thankful for its creation, the Sun covers the Beast in warm dust, thus forming the world around it.
The world is molten and lifeless. Only the Celestial Queen walks among newborn mountains. Untold time passes.

First Age

First stars kindle upon the world. The Elder People descend from the skies as a rain of stardust.
The world is too warm and hostile for the Elder People to thrive. Still, determined to survive in their new home, they built great fortresses to the dark side of the world. There they slumber and bide for their time
The world begins to cool down. The Elder People mount great expeditions to map their new home. First kingdoms rise, arts and sciences begin to blossom and the Elder People slowly begin to forget their unearthly origins.
The Silver Dragon falls from the heavens, crashing to the ground at the sunward reaches of the world. This event is called the First Shattering, and it marks the end of the First Age. The Golden Beast stirs in its slumber, and great quakes shake the world. Civilizations of the Elder People fall into chaos as the cataclysm turns the earth inside-out.

Second Age

After the First Shattering, the world is surrounded by thick clouds by 777 years. Survivors of the Elder People ascend from the ruins of the past and begin conquering the world anew.
During the time of clouds, a new weather phenomenon comes to plague the world: rains. Many of the oldest structures of the Elder People become submerged in water, and they have to seek higher ground. Their civilization becomes fragmented and diffuse as water divides the ancient beings.
A great ocean forms where the Dragon fell – this sea later becomes known as the Cradle. Blood flows from the Dragon’s wounds and mixes with the water.
777 years after the First Shattering (hereby abbreviated as AFS), the clouds fade and reveal how the world has changed. No longer is it stationary, with one side always facing the sun – instead, it revolves around itself, and no place can avert the rays of the sun anymore. As light is cast on the Cradle, the Dragon’s blood awakens and grows. Life starts to form.
6000 years AFS: after long years of division, the civilizations of the Elder people begin reaching to each other. Wars are waged, trade routes established and tribes merged as they reach for a new era of prosperity. Many old inventions are found again, among them reading and writing.
10 000 AFS: The Elder People prosper and many old sciences are found anew. Save for the Cradle, no part of the world’s surface remains untouched by them.
12 000 AFS: The Elder People are once again unified under the rule of a visionary called Ahr-Koh. His reign marks the beginning of untold growth among his people.
15 000 AFS: In order to conquer the last remaining corner of their domain, the Elder people puncture the great mountains surrounding the Cradle. This lets water within to contact rest of the world’s oceans, allowing life to flow to other parts of the world. Perplexed by their findings, the Elder people begin tinkering with antediluvian life, trying to harness it to their own benefit.
18 000 AFS: The Elder People have finally mastered the world’s surface, and filled it with the life they’ve shaped. However, it is not enough for their growing population, so they begin digging vast tunnels trough the mantle of the world. In their guest for living room and resources, they dig under the Cradle also, finding the Silver Dragon. Curious, they try to lift to the surface; however, their attempts startle it, and it flees deeper to the ground. Quakes caused by it wipe out all civilization surrounding the Cradle. Horrified, the Elder People decide to destroy the dragon. Unfortunately, their attempts only make the Dragon escape so deep it causes the Beast to stir as well. Repercussions of the event prompt the Second Shattering, sending the Elder People reeling back to another age of darkness.

Third Age

Now uncontrolled and unrestrained, life begins adopting new shapes and forms, utterly alien to its old masters. Many ruins of the Elder people are overtaken and consumed by their rogue creations. Celestial Queen descends among these beings and begins watching upon them.
0 to 2000 years after the Second Shattering (ASS): survivors of the Elder People regroup at the South Pole, near the most antediluvian grounds of their ancestors. Uniting under the name of the Great Precursor Ahr-Koh, they begin recording and gathering bits and pieces of old history and technology of their species. They swear they will once claim the world like their fore bearers did.
5000 ASS: The Elder People have reclaimed most of the Southern Hemisphere, though fear of the Dragon halts their advance. Determined to purge life that they don’t control and destroy the Dragon once and for all, they begin building mighty war machines – these creations later become known as the God Warriors.
5100 to 5200 ASS: God Warriors are finalized. With their might, they begin purging rogue life and molding the world back to the Elder peoples’ needs. However, once they are turned against the Dragon, things go horribly wrong. Severely injured and mortally afraid, the Dragon latches to the Beast and begs for its help. For a moment, the Beast awakens, and its consciousness lashes forward, seizing control of the God Warriors.
5200 to 5300 ASS: The Elder People’s inventions turn against their former masters, sparking a horrible, world ravaging war. As it rages on, the Beast finds it’s harder and harder to stay still and comes to fear for its own existence. Desperate, it reaches out to the minds of the Elder People, demanding a champion to rise from their ranks and explain reasons for the conflict. One does rise, but when faced with the nature of the Beast and the Dragon, he finds the actions of his people inexcusable. Eventually, they strike a deal: the Elder People must once more take to the stars and find themselves a new home. However, wracked with guilt, the champion does not feel worthy to depart with his brethren. He demands to be left behind to the now-emptied world.
5400 ASS: The Elder people leave the world, their fate fading into the unknown. The God Warriors, now tied to the Beast, remain behind. For a while, they take care and preserve the monuments of their now-gone creators, but one by one they decide to withdraw to the far corners of the world. The Beast and the Dragon fall asleep as well, to heal the wounds caused by the senseless war. Only the Celestial Queen and the Artifact walk the earth as they slumber. Eons pass.

Fourth Age (Age of Ancestors)

The Fourth age is considered to have begun when the Artifact met the first sapient creatures after the Elder People. Exact time between the end of the Third and beginning of the Fourth age is unknown, but extremely long. The Fourth Age is most often referred to as Age of Ancestors, for most of the modern species appeared during it.
Year 0 AoA: The Artefact runs afoul of the first Jarava tribe. His age of loneliness comes to an end.
Year 100 AoA: Ancestral merpeople find antediluvian ruins of the Elder People from the bottom of the sea. They are the first species to awaken their guardian God Warrior, whom they come to call Old Man Under the Waves, or Qirandir.
Year 250 AoA: The Steel Giant wakes up and digs it way out from the collapsed tunnels it had slept in. After accidentally destroying a village of ancestral goblins, it becomes worshipped as god by them.
Year 1000 AoA: The species later known as Demons establish the first agricultural civilization in the northern reaches of the world.
Year 1200 AoA: Demons awaken the 8th God Warrior, later know as Lord of Nightmares. He takes them under his wings and leads them to prosperity.
Year 1600 AoA: The first great intra-demon war rages in the northern parts of the world. Seas are divided between different nations of merpeople, though they are united in worship of Qirandir. Lead by the Giant of Steel, goblins begin to excavate antediluvian tunnel networks left behind by the Elder People.
Year 1650 to 1750 AoA: Demons become unified as one people, under the watchful eye of their lord. However, sudden cold and famine dissolve their kingdom and they are driven southwards, to the lands of the primal Jarava.
Year 2000 AoA: hobgoblins of the eastern world find Sartharaun, the God Warrior of the Skies. They begin a bloody war against western and southern goblin immigrants, who worship the Steel Giant.
Year 2200 AoA: The official beginning of the Creeping Cold. All northern species are driven southwards by advancing ice. Demons and Jaravas dwindle as they fight for resources.
Year 2200 to 11 500 AoA: Time of the Creeping Cold. Goblins are driven further underground and become isolated from other species. Demons and primal Jaravas scatter and their civilizations disappear. Even merpeople lessen in numbers, though their cultures stay healthy and advance greatly in arts and sciences.
Year 8500 AoA: primal humans are first sighted on southern continents. They are driven to hiding by the more aggressive Jaravas.
Year 12 000 AoA: End of the Creeping Cold and beginning of the time of floods. Merpeople civilizations suffer as the seas go through turmoil. Demons start migrating back to their ancestral hunting grounds.
Year 13 000: Lightbringer awakens in the far south and takes the disparate tribes of primal humans under its wings. The first great human cultures begin forming.
Year 13 500: In the north-west, draconian hobgoblins re-emerge from their tunnels. They begin a bloody war to purge their territory from stray Jaravas and Demons alike.
Year 14 000: An ambitious young Demon called Yzrael rises among the scattered tribes and strives to unify his barbaric people in the image of the legendary great Demon civilizations. The Second great intra-demon war begins, giving birth to the greatest empire since the time of the Elder People.
Year 15 000: Sartharaun gives birth to the Death Hawks. They soon take over the highest mountains that no other species can claim.
Year 15 500: Daughter of the Silver Dragon is awakened by Lightbringer. She shares the burden of watching over humans.
Year 16 000: Merpeople unite under the great Frog King. An alliance is formed between the Union of the Seas and Yzrael’s Demonic Empire. Qirandir and Lord of Nightmares make a deal to seek out other God Warriors and unite all sapient peoples under their collective rule, so wars and suffering will no longer be necessary.
Year 16 100: The Demonic Empire assimilates many goblin tribes living close to the surface. The Steel Giant joins forces with the Lord and Qirandir, and begins rounding up goblins deeper under the ground.
Year 16 300 Daughter of the Silver Dragon leads some humans to the southern pole, where she teaches them to learn from and take care of the ancient ruins of the Elder People. Together they reconstruct and repopulate many of the antediluvian structures. Lightbringer is contacted by the Lord and begins spreading the word among Jaravas.
Sartharaun considers the efforts of other God Warriors to be beneath her. Together with Death Hawks, she remains in the most barren reaches of the world.

Fifth Age (Age of Dreams)

Age of dreams is direct continuation to the Age of Ancestors. It started around 17 000 AoA, when the last of the God Warriors was finally found and all sapient races of the world became united under their rule. The Age of Dreams was marked by fantastical prosperity, but also by changelessness. If not for the fallibility of God Warriors themselves, it might have lasted forever.
Year 15 000 AoD: The Lord of Nightmares starts to grow disillusioned with life. He looks back to the past and times of the Elder People, and remembers the folly of his creators. Surely, if not for the God Warriors themselves, even their own peoples would fall victim to such hubris. He also comes to resent the Dragon; after all, it represents a foreign presence and impurity in the Beast’s essence. Covertly, the Lord begins scheming to cleanse the world of life, so the Beast can wake and roam free among the stars once again.
From year 15 500 onwards: odd conflicts start to rise among the sapient peoples. God Warriors do their best to quell them, but ultimately fail. Some don’t take well to their powerlessness, and the Warriors start to bicker among themselves. The Lord manages to convince Lightbringer that ultimately all life, even the God Warriors themselves, are failures, and the only way to correct it is to wake the Beast and let it recreate life in its image. Together, they start to search for a way to do what they failed in ages ago: to destroy the Silver Dragon.
Eventually, other God Warriors learn about the Lord’s schemes. They are mortified, for they’ve become attached to their favored species. However, when they try to confront the Lord of his plans, he sends his own children, the Demons, to war against other sapients. Infused with ungodly power and geared for war, the Demons cut swathe through the complacent peoples of the other God Warriors. Enraged, the God Warriors try to stop them, but this gives the Lord a chance to escape. These events lead to a horrible war, rivaling in scale the attempts of Elder people to exterminate the Silver Dragon. Ultimately, the war is equivalent and becomes known as the Third Shattering. It doesn’t end until Celestial Queen herself intervenes, but even she can only trap the Lord and his species in stone, not destroy them. Lightbringer is broken by others and locked under a mountain in the far reaches of the world.
Even though awakening of the Beast was averted, the world still suffered so much it barely could sustain life anymore. The God Warriors, damaged by their internal conflict, used the last of their powers to preserve a portion of the world habitable for their guarded species. They chose the Cradle, place where all life had first born. The survivors of each species were given a small portion of the area to settle in. So ended the Age of Dreams.

History (Abridged Version): To squueze some cheap laughs out of you, here's a humorous recap:

The Beast: "Uh huh, creation of the universe sure was tiring. I think I’ll take a short nap near that pretty star to regain my strength. I trust the world will do just fine without me."


Elder Being I: "Hey, that planet looks really hot! Lets descend and build our homes on it!"

Elder Being II: "Don’t know, bro, I’m not sure if it’s cool enough for me…"

Elder Being !: "Who cares, I’ve had enough of this “drifting through the void” stuff! Come on!"


The Silver Dragon: "Aaah! I tripped on my legs and can’t stop falling! HELP!"


*tumble* *CRASH*

The Beast: "Urgh… what was that now? Anyways, it hurts… maybe if I turn to this side… "

*rumble, rumble*


Elder Being I: "Dude, what’s this cold wet stuff falling from the sky? I don’t like it."

Elder Being II: "I dunno, but it’s flooding our basement. Up we go!"


Elder Being III: "Hi guys! Guess what? I’m your new king now!"

Elder Being I: "Dude, who’re you?"

Elder Being II: "Doesn’t matter, he has all the guns. We submit!"


Elder Being III: "Hi guys, there’s this huge crater all filled up with goo up there. Wanna see?"

Elder Being I: "Uh, sure. As long as it doesn’t try to eat us."

Elder Being II: "Maybe we can teach it to roll over and play dead?"




Elder Being III: "Hi guys, I found this strange silvery thing under the goo. What do you think it is?"

Elder Being II: "Um, not quite sure here… "*prod*

The Silver Dragon: "Teehee, that tickles!"

Elder Being I: "OMFG!!!! IT’S ALIVE! Shoot it! SHOOT IT!"

The Silver Dragon: "Aaah! Help!"

The Beast: "…hey, I’m trying to sleep here. Keep the noise down, will you?"

*rocks fall, people die*


Elder Being I: "After the horrible demise of my good friends, Elder Beings II and III, I’ve decided we must destroy that silver whatever plaguing our lands. To that end, we’ll build horrible weapons of mass destruction to eradicate this threat. Surely nothing can go wrong."

Crowd: "YAY!"


God Warriors: "Target in sights. Commence assault."

*explosion* *cool sound effects* *another explosion"

The Silver Dragon: "Waah! Onee-chan, they’re hurting me again!"

The Beast: "Okay, what in the world is it this-"

God Warriors: "Secondary target acquired. Lethal force authorized."

*The Beast gets a nuclear blast on the face*

The Beast: "That does it. I’m going to bend you over and –"


The Beast: "Okay, who the heck are you, and why are you disturbing my nap? And what are all this little houses on my back?"

Elder Being I (nervously): "We're awfully sorry, Mister Eldritch Abomination. We didn’t quite know you were sleeping under us. Those thermonuclear missiles were a total accident, I swear!"

The Beast: "Well, now you know. Pack your stuff and leave before I get real angry."

To be continued…

2010-04-13, 01:09 AM
The Cradle is a 3000 Hectare Nature Reserve situated in the heart of the Cradle of Humankind, a World Heritage Site a short distance from both Johannesburg and Pretoria, South Africa.