July 01, 2004

The Ancient Laws

These are the Ancient Laws, set down by the All-Mother and given to the first generation of Beasts.

  1. Harm not the Beasts who speak, nor eat their flesh. They are your brothers.
  2. The Caretakers are the arms of the All-Mother; the Oracles are Her voice. Heed them as you would Her.
  3. Seek the fertile lands and tend them. This world is given into your care.
  4. Honor the memory of Man, whose gifts you bear.

Posted by Kiz at 10:34 AM | Comments (1)

Setting Glossary

Age of Man: the time when Man ruled the Earth, before the Last War. No one knows what, if anything, came before it.

All-Mother: the Goddess of life, the creator of Man, the Beasts and all of creation. It is said that she still speaks to the Beasts through the Oracles and that the Caretakers do her will.

Alpha: a common term for the leader of a pack, tribe or clan. In most groups the Alpha is the absolute ruler but they are expected to listen to the advice of their Lorekeeper.

Ancient Laws: the four sacred laws given by the All-Mother to the first Beasts.

Animals: creatures which cannot think or talk, which distinguishes them from true Beasts.

Beasts: creatures distinguished from normal animals in that they have been granted human-like intelligence and the ability to speak. Some Beasts have hands and can walk upright, like Man, but the Beasts of the First Generation cannot.

Blight: the lands south of the Verde are slowly being taken over by strange, bulbous growths that parasitize and eventually replace regular plant life. This region is referred to as the Blight, and it is haunted by strange monsters that feed on the growths (and any regular creatures that they can catch). Blight plants and animals are uniformly poisonous to Beasts.

Breeds: the species of each type of Beast is referred to as its breed.

Caretakers: the loyal servants of the All-Mother, Caretakers are Beasts who have been silvered and accepted into their elite society. Caretakers carry a lot of authority since they carry out the will of the Goddess. They are readily recognized by the metal plate that all of them have in their foreheads. The Caretakers are aided by lesser servants of the Goddess called Rangers. It's believed that there are exactly one hundred Caretakers and that they are only replaced when one dies or goes mad.

Chimera: a Beast who is feral due to hideous deformities. Many Beasts regard other Beasts with visible deformities as Chimeras, even if they can still talk. Chimeras are not considered true Beasts by most tribes and deformed cubs are often declared Chimeras by the tribal Alpha and then slain.

Clans: a collection of tribes that consider themselves allies, if not outright kinfolk. Clans are generally spread over a wide area. They don't always have a specific leader; in many clans, decisions are made by gathering representatives from all of the tribes and having them vote on important issues.

Deathly Wastes: those parts of the Wastes which are most inimical to life. Little to nothing grows there and the water is rarely safe to drink.

Deeps: the enormous and sprawling underground tunnels and complexes left behind by Man. Some Beasts make their homes in deeps, but most of them are considered too dangerous to explore.

Engineers: an organized society of Beasts dedicated to recovering ancient technology and rediscovering the secrets of Man. The Engineers are few in number, but they have a lot of technical expertise and scientific know-how. The Engineers and the Caretakers distrust each other, which sometimes leads to conflicts.

Exterminators: robots which hunt or kill Beasts. It's believed that Man created the Exterminators to destroy his enemies and that they are still trying to fight the Last War. They come in a huge variety and most of them are quite ancient, but there are some particularly murderous Exterminators that appear to be of recent manufacture. No one is quite sure where they come from.

Ferals: Beasts that ought to be able to think and talk, but who have lost the ability (or never developed it) and have regressed to an animal state. Excessive exposure to radiation can cause regular Beasts to give birth to feral cubs or to become feral themselves, a fate commonly regarded as worse than death.

First Folk: this clan of wolves is said to be descended from the very first Beasts. They are the guardians of the Sacred Hills and their priestesses are called Oracles. Intruders are not tolerated in the Sacred Hills; only Caretakers are allowed to move through First Folk territory freely.

First Generation Beasts: the first Beasts to appear were fierce and powerful creatures capable of driving away the monsters that were ravaging the Verde. Their lack of hands proved crippling in the long run, however, and they were unable to build up much of a civilization before the appearance of the Second Generation.

First Speech: a cub's first words are seen as a major step towards adulthood and a cause for celebration. At this point the child has proven that they are not feral and they finally become a Beast under the law (although still not an adult). A child who never learns how to speak will eventually be declared feral by the tribe and may be driven away or killed.

Frog-water: water which is clean and safe to drink. So called because frogs are almost never found around contaminated water sources (not alive, anyway). Frogs are often regarded as a sign of good luck, and it's regarded as inviting bad luck to eat them.

Generations: there are three distinct types of Beast in the Verde and they appeared at different times. Because of this, each type is commonly referred to as a different generation. See First Generation, Second Generation and Third Generation Beasts.

Gifts: any special knack or weird powers possessed by a Beast.

Gifts of Man: those abilities possessed by Beasts that were also possessed by Man. Traditionally they are intelligence, speech, and the ability to walk upright and use tools. Some Beasts regard the Beasts of the First Generation as inferior, because they lack the last of these gifts.

Glows: a common term for a areas of extreme radioactivity. Beasts avoid Glows at all costs, but other creatures often can't detect them and wander in anyway. Glows are often littered with the bones of various animals and they contribute to a lot of deformities in the local wildlife.

Last Man: the last Man on Earth, the sole survivor of the Last War. According to ancient legends, after his death, his body was brought to the All-Mother and his gifts (intelligence, speech, and eventually the ability to walk upright and use tools) were given to the Beasts.

Last War: the terrible, fratricidal battle that destroyed the race of Man and laid waste to the world. No one is quite certain who they were fighting, but the most common explanation is that they were fighting each other.

Laughing League: a group of renegade Hyenas who have set up a society of their own centered around League City. Other breeds of Beast are regarded as second-class citizens by the League.

Litany: the collection of legends, parables and history that makes up the oral history of the Beasts. Every tribe keeps a slightly different version and many Lorekeepers are not above putting a personal twist on things.

Lorekeeper: a Beast whose job it is to memorize and recite their tribe's Litany. The Lorekeeper is generally a combination of pastor and shaman and acts as their tribe's spiritual advisor.

Man: the race that once ruled the world. They were destroyed in the Last War and the Gifts of Man were given to the Beasts.

Man-worshippers: term for Beasts who consider Man the ideal towards which all Beasts should strive. They idolize ancient technology and images of Man. Devout Man-worshipers often wear odd garments, as many try to dress in the manner in which ancient Man dressed. The most extreme adherents have been known to mutilate their own bodies so as to better resemble humans.

Monsters: generic term for the various dangerous creatures that stalk the Wastes. Those that are harmless are generally referred to as animals.

Mother of us All: a more formal term for the All-Mother.

Naked: while a Beast may be unclothed (as First Generation Beasts commonly are), they are not truly naked until they have been stripped of all clothing, jewelry and other ornamentation... basically, anything that would make it clear that they are an intelligent creature and not an animal or feral. Beasts have a very strong nudity taboo; it is considered shameful for an adult Beast to be seen truly naked except by very close family members.

Oracles: the priestesses of the First Folk. These Wolves can hear and interpret the will of the All-Mother, and dispense it to worthy Beasts.

Ornaments: pieces of clothing or jewelry worn solely to mark the wearer as a true Beast, as animals and ferals do not wear such things.

Pack: a small group of Beasts who work together, especially if they do not have a fixed abode. Generally a pack consists of fewer than a dozen Beasts; otherwise it would be called a tribe or clan.

Poison Glow: the subtle green haze put off by radioactive materials. Almost all Beasts can see the glow put off by radiation; few realize that normal creatures can't.

Poison markers: signs posted to warn about radiation hazards or the presence of dangerous toxins. Traditionally, they consist of three triangular pieces of metal attached to a wooden post, usually one above the other, but sometimes Beasts will just draw three triangles arranged in a triangular pattern, mimicking the ancient radiation and civil defense signs used by Man.

Powers: a common term for the psychic powers manifested by some Beasts. The first power (Rending) appeared amongst the First Generation long before the later Beasts appeared at all, so they have been around since the very beginning. Caretakers and Rangers never possess actual psychic powers, but often have abilities that can pass for them.

Rabid: a general term for a Beast who has become dangerously violent and unpredictable, perhaps due to exposure to some subtle poison or illness. Rabid Beasts often become raveners.

Rabies Waste: a blasted and highly radioactive wasteland adjacent to the Verde. It is mostly populated by exiles, ferals and raveners; no one with any sense stays there for long. The locals try to collect rainwater to drink, because the only sources of fresh water are tightly controlled by tribes of vicious raveners.

Radiation: an ancient term for the Poison Glow.

Radiation-blind: a Beast who suffers from radiation-blindness cannot sense the presence of radioactivity like normal Beasts can. This makes it very dangerous for them to explore many parts of the wastes.

Rangers: Beasts who have agreed to serve the Caretakers. There are a lot more of them than there are Caretakers, so they handle most of the day-to-day tasks (especially if they would take a Caretaker too far away from the Sacred Hills). A Beast is not considered a true Ranger until after they have gone to the Sacred Hills to be judged by the Oracles. Those who are accepted become silvered.

Raveners: Beasts who have abandoned the first of the Ancient Laws and now prey upon their fellow Beasts. It is widely felt that raveners have put themselves beyond the protection of the Ancient Laws and that it is not a crime to slay one. Eating their flesh is still prohibited, however.

Relics: things left over from the age of Man that have no practical use, but which contain intact images of Man. Relics are religiously significant to many Beasts, and are highly prized by Man-worshippers.

Rite of Passage: most tribes have some sort of ritual task which must be performed by a young Beast in order to be considered an adult and a full member of the tribe. Rites vary immensely from area to area, and can range from simple, symbolic ceremonies to extremely difficult and/or dangerous quests.

Roads: great flat paths of asphalt and concrete, laid down by Man before the Last War. Most are crumbling or even washed away completely in places.

Sacred Hills: said to be the birthplace of the First Generation, the Sacred Hills are now the territory of the First Folk and the headquarters of the Caretakers. The land is regarded as sacred and outsiders are rarely allowed more than a brief entrance, and then always with an escort.

Scavenger: a Beast who makes their living by scrounging useful devices and trinkets from ancient ruins. A more derogatory form is wire-harvester.

Second Generation Beasts: the second generation of Beasts were small animals with dextrous paws that could be turned into hands with minimal difficulty. Their descendants can stand upright and use tools, but generally have to drop to all fours to run.

Silvered: the common term for those Beasts who have been blessed by having parts of their bodies replaced with silvery metal. Generally used to refer to Caretakers and Rangers. The Engineers have another term for the silvered, one that they only use in whispers. That word is cyborg.

Skullmarkers: a weathered skull attached to a post or tree as a warning to outsiders. Some tribes put the skulls of monsters up as trophies; others put the skulls of other Beasts up as a warning of what happens to their enemies.

Slashing: a common punishment in which a Beast is made to lie still while another Beast cuts long gashes down their back with their claws.

Tech: short for "technology". This term is generally used to refer to advanced technological equipment left over from before the Last War. Most of it is a mystery to the Beasts, and very little still functions. What does work is often extremely unreliable.

Third Generation Beasts: the third (and apparently final) generation of Beasts, these breeds are more like Man than any of their predecessors. Third generation Beasts walk upright like Man and have hands with opposable thumbs. Many of them consider themselves the natural inheritors of Man's rulership over the earth.

Toxic Pools: small puddles or pools of water which are covered with a particularly nasty black slime (actually a colony of toxic bacteria). Water from these pools is very dangerous to drink and even boiling it may not remove all of the danger. The slime actually prevents the water from evaporating, however, so in times of extreme drought, these toxic pools may be the only potential source of water in the area.

Tribe: a large group of Beasts who work together and follow the same ruler or rulers. Tribes are generally grouped into clans. Smaller groups are generally referred to as packs.

Verde: the green and fertile region where most Beasts dwell. The Verde is surrounded by wasteland, with the Blight steadily encroaching from the south. Other fertile regions have been discovered, but none as large or healthy as the Verde itself.

Wastes: the sprawling wasteland around the Verde is commonly referred to as the Waste or the Wastes. The land is generally poor and the water is often contaminated, if not outright toxic. Plants growing in the Wastes are usually in poor health compared to the Verde, as are the animals that live there. The most hostile areas are commonly referred to as deathly wastes.

Wire-Harvester: derogatory term for a scavenger, taken from the fact that wire is one of the most prevalent goods to be found in ancient ruins.

Posted by Kiz at 08:08 PM | Comments (0)