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24 February 2014 @ 06:28 pm
Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom: Prehistory  
The past isn't super important to my game concept because I'm not trying to get people to buy setting books and because I only need to set up the basic reason why things are the way they are and don't need to justify the socio-political situation of the Mushroom KingdomKingdom of Flowers vis–à–vis the constant threat of the kappa tribes or the social structure of the Silent One bands or blah blah blah. It's better to set up a sword and sorcery skeleton and develop everything else I needed in play. And what is a sword and sorcery skeleton without vanished pre-human civilizations?

I should probably do the basic lay of the land first, but this is the idea I had so I'm running with it.

The Predecessors
History is not a particularly advanced profession in the Kingdom of Flowers, to say nothing of the surrounding lands. The ancient Kong Empire to the south, across the Great Bridge, carved their history in letters two inches deep on the ziggurats of their temple-cities, but their degenerate descendants cannot even read. The raptok keep simple palm-cord records of their geneologies but care little about the lives of others. The kappa shamans know only what their ancestors tell them, and anything the Silent Ones know, they refuse to speak of.

There was an original civilization, or perhaps multiple civilizations, that predate the modern civilizations of Agarica and Pithek. Their ruins lay all over the known world, from the glittering miles of the Great Bridge that connects the northern and southern continents to the underground vaults built of mirror-smooth bluish stone to the cloud-islands that hover in the sky to the great pyramids in the deserts of Pithek. Some sages believe that the birdlike statues left behind in some of the ruins hint at the true appearance of the Predecessors, pointing to their giant stature and the scale on which many of the ruins were built. Others point to the use of trefoil patterns and postulate a race with radial symmetry, like the squids that infest the Narrow Sea. Still others point to the cloud kingdoms and confidently proclaim that the Predecessors must have had wings. Some sages believe that there were multiple groups who destroyed each other in a series of cataclysmic wars, leaving the land free for the emergence of younger civilizations. Not so much as a single Predecessor bone has ever been found, much less a carven image that could be definitively identified as one, so the question remains.

Though no Predecessors live in the ruins, they are frequently still inhabited. The underground caverns are remarkably geologically stable, and while cracks in the walls occasionally let in magma or toxic fumes, many caves are inhabited by mycon or kappa tribes who seek solitude and will enforce it with their blades. Some of them are inhabited by hideous creatures, like the shadowcrawlers that hide on walls and ceilings and leap down on their prey, the predatory or pyroclastic plants, the firedragons who swim in the magma, the degenerate reptilians that look like kappa except for their vacant expressions and the spikes that adorn their shells, or the undead remains of those who succumbed to the ruins' many dangers. Some ruins even have still-active traps: whips of flame that suddenly swing out of walls, collapsing and resetting floors or ceilings, elevators that lead down into unknown darkness, or floors that vanish to dump intruders into spiked pits only to reappear above the mangled corpse. Above-ground ruins tend to have been plundered long ago and be much less dangerous, but there are exceptions.

One important aspect of Predecessor remnants is the Warp. There are a series of pipes through the known world, constructed of a shiny green metal that cannot be destroyed or even harmed. They are found everywhere--in the remaining Predecessor ruins, sticking out of hillsides, in the middle of amanitan towns, in the Kappa Wastes, even under the sea. Many of them are simply the pipes they appear as, and entering them only goes for a short distance before the the path is blocked by earth or silt or rock, but others go...elsewhere. Sages call the place that connects the pipes the Warp, and it allows the traveler to cross vast distances in the blink of an eye, or even travel to other worlds. Many great historical events feature the presence of one of these other-worldly visitors: the collapse of the Kong Empire is traced to a revolt by their kremling slaves instigated by one such, and there are entire legend cycles of the Hero in Green who appears from the Warp just when things seem at their darkest.

Many mandragora hope that in the current crisis in the Kingdom of Flowers a wandering hero will come to save them, but so far, it appears only a hope.
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