An Introduction to The Drowned Earth

Folk stories tell of boiling black skies raining fire while seas rose up to break the land asunder. Tales are told of the floods and devastation, death and destruction on an unimaginable scale, the earthquakes, choking winds and an entire world dying, wreathed in flame.

The result: a timeless and world spanning civilisation crushed in an almighty cataclysm the likes of which has never been seen before or since.

Known as “The Fall”, nobody truly knows what happened. Some say it was the retribution of the gods, punishing the arrogance of The Builders. Others say it was a terrible war to end all wars, but all agree that the once mighty civilisation that ruled The Drowned Earth was utterly crushed.

But whatever destroyed it hundreds of years ago, however utter the devastation, the evidence of this planet spanning civilisation still surrounds us today.

Waters have risen and nature has reclaimed the Earth, healing the scars of The Fall, but the once majestic towers of their cities still stud the jungles and wetlands of The Drowned Earth like so many mouths of broken teeth. Hiding in the ground are the often mysterious trappings of The Builders (the people of the Pre-Fall Civilisation), strange and unknowable. The twisted and broken remnants of their ingenuity lie crumbling in the dew covered forests and high mountains, ready to be discovered, and sometimes even reclaimed.

For The Drowned Earth is a world of tropical heat, of Rain Forest, lagoon, brackish swamp and island archipelago. Even the inner highlands are drenched with monsoon rains and mountain rivers. And these jungles and swamps are dangerous places to travel. Ruined buildings and ancient artefacts are not the only things The Builders left behind.

Only the strongest and most tenacious wildlife emerged from the years of near extinction which followed The Fall. Often the strongest were the species created in the laboratories of the Pre-Fall Civilisation. Huge predatory reptiles stalk the forests and terrifying calls tear through the peace of the night, reminding anyone who hears them what lurks beyond the safety of their settlement.

The third legacy of the Pre-Fall civilisation is the people themselves. Living amongst the descendants of The Builders, often in vibrant, mixed communities, are other intelligent, non-human life forms created by the scientists of the Pre-Fall Civilisation.

The true origins of these species is a secret known only to a few, but for the most part people are more concerned with the necessities of their daily lives.

Now, after hundreds of years of mere survival in an unbelievably harsh environment, something approaching civilisation is beginning to emerge. People have, for the most part, settled and begun to grow crops. In some places large cities are emerging, scientific discoveries are being made, or re-made, trade and commerce have become common as people search for the materials to improve their lives and ensure their safety.

But where some seek to progress through their own endeavours others wish only to take what others have through force. The practice of Slavery has grown with the advent of agriculture. In the south great Empires vie for dominance. The trading leagues of the northern islands fight each other for trade routes while pirates eagerly snap up the scraps left behind. 

The fires of progress are fuelled by the discovery of ancient relics: treasures of the past which contain the secrets of The Builders’s power. Bands of brave adventurers, thieves, bounty hunters and explorers roam the wilds in search of artefacts of power or knowledge be they powerful weapons, rare archives, advanced tools or exotic thinking machines.

To look at the relics and ruins of the past it is hard to comprehend how such a powerful civilisation could ever have been destroyed. Now, looking to the future the challenge is set- progress is inevitable, but who will control it? Ordinary people, or those who wish to subvert the freedoms of others? Will you uphold freedom, progress and a bright future of cooperation and shared endeavour, or will you sow nothing but chaos, and reap only the rewards others have worked so hard to earn?

The future of The Drowned Earth is in the hands of people like you: How will you  choose to shape it?