Thursday, March 12, 2009
Vaunderfel - The Great Spring
I initially laid out the history of the Great Seasons to look something like this:
24 year - 7 year Spring (Sapphiron) - 22 years - 4 year Winter (Hibernel) - 28 years - 6 year Autumn (Leafenfel) - 33 years - 9 year Summer (Estaoculus - the summer of eyes) - 32 years - 4 year Spring (Sinchola) - 41 years - 3 year Spring (Vaunderfel) - 21 years - 4 year Autumn (The Great Rot) - 31 years - present year
I am fine with this and have no plans to change it. I have talked already about The Great Rot and plan to write an article about each of the types of great season, using the most recent examples since they would be most pertinent to the game’s lore. Certainly some of the long ago Great Season would be considerably more severe, but for the most part these would be dreadful folk-lore.
Vaunderfel, Estaoculus, and Hibernel will be on the agenda. I will save Hibernel for last since it should be the 'best' one. By best I mean desiccated frozen zombies hunting the living like 28 Days Later sort of best – and that was a mild Great Winter. A severe one would practically be a mass extinction. Estaoculus is the most relevant to the setting since it beget the Oculus traits within the races. Vaunderfel is also very relevant as it represents a great rebirth, change and a time of prosperity that catapulted humanoids out of the deep wilds. And so, onto Vaunderfel:
One of the themes of Valley of Blue Snails is that of seasons. I like the cyclic elements and the occasions where this cyclic nature is disrupted. The endless seasons are probably the most important disruptions that pop up, and it is a generational event which all other things seem trivial. Halfling prescience is purely based upon predicting Great Seasons (everything else is just a side effect), the Elves physically and mentally change with them, the Dwarves build around them, and the Human are more or less a victim of whatever hits them.
Vaunderfel was the great spring that occurred around fifty years ago. The major effects of the Vaunderfel included a huge generational boom, a prolific flourishing of life, and a fulcrum for rebirth and change. This was amplified by the fact that the previous Great Season was Sinchola, another great spring. The two together lifted the humanoids into true civilization and prosperity.
Before - Prior to Sinchola it was a long period of civil warfare among the civilized races. Things were much more tribal, isolated, xenophobic and all-together sullen. Sinchola started to change this, and the Vaunderfel spurred the changes that wrought a level of prosperity for a time. During the autumn of 40’s89 the Halflings predict a Great Season, although they can not distinguish which it will be. Harvest is already completed and most races flounder around in hording resources. The winter in 41’s89 is particularly harsh and does not appear to be ending as thick blankets of snow are rife. Panic quickly grips most civilizations as preparations were wholly inadequate. Luckily spring quickly erupts into the fourth month of the year.
Year One – Spring ends winter with a vengeance and trees begin to bloom with snow still on the ground. All senses are far more intense than usual; color seems brighter, sounds are vibrant, fire burns hotter and creativity is rampant. The weather takes on temperate and mild tone that lasts for three years. Animals quickly come out of their winter holes and plant life flourishes very quickly. The first year is often remembered as The Lust, as the desire to procreate becomes overwhelming for nearly all species. Despite numerous problems with perpetual heat has on civilized society, it is generally a peaceful and serene time. Inter-species mating, once taboo, becomes a burning urge and all civilized races interbreed to some extent. This period lasts for well over 6 months and eventually causes a huge population boom among all living things.
Year Two – Sensations further intensify and creativity reaches a pinnacle; some of the greatest works of art are crafted during this time. The new generation is born and all children born at his time are healthy and vigorous. Inter-racial breeding produces offspring that otherwise would be impossible, creating hybrid races that were previously unheard of. Plant life accelerates in growth; trees bud flowers, bloom, grow fruit within a month during the Vaunderfel. Fruit that hits the ground sprouts almost immediately grows at an accelerated rate and propagates more. New forests and jungles appear in a matter of months. Strange animal hybrids run rampant through the wilds and many new species are wrought into the world. Resources seem endless and diseases vanish.
Year Three – Sensations are almost painful to experience. Colors seem to glow, fire quickly burns out of control, sound is deafening, and creativity is so rampant that it is impossible to focus. Some animals and plants that existed before the Vaunderfel grow to enormous sizes. Some plants take on a sentient quality that allows them to communicate to some extent, and in some cases move. Stranger and stranger hybrid races begin to crop up with bizarre mutations; bear-like creatures with snail shells and ram-head, dragons with crab shells and taloned limbs and so forth. This creates new species and also mutated versions of existing ones. This is not limited to animals and plants, but also to humanoids and strange children are being born carrying the traits of several races.
Year Four – Vaunderfel lasts for only two months into it’s forth year. During this brief period some of those who were long dead rise again, reborn out of the earth. All undead ceases to exist, either overtaken by the forces of life, or wrought with living flesh once again. Wounds heal instantly, animals age in reverse and it is nearly impossible to die. Most living things remember this time like a dream, only vague events and blinding sensations.
Afterwards – Vaunderfel ends in the third month of 1’s90 and summer takes hold. The ecosystem changed drastically with many new races. The new and old races begin to compete as resources begin to wane. Most hybrids and mutants succumb to the drastic change in their environment though a few prosper. The civilized races hold some disdain over the hybrid children and many are outright slain. Others are tolerated to a small degree assuming that they are not obviously aberrant. Many of the behemoth creatures survive in isolated pockets along with their sentient plant counterparts. Several pockets of the Vaunderfel still exist, and the Valley of Blue Snails can be considered one of these.
I initially had no inclination to include Half-Elves and like but this will be as good of a reason as many. These half-races will be a small minority at under 1% of the total humanoid population however. Any race can be a half-race. Half-Dwarf, Half-Marggot? Sure, why the hell not. Most of the more unholy combination would have been killed by now but they are not entirely unheard of. Most of these are not known as a specific race, but simply as an aberration to most of society. The Vaunderfel also offers a good origin to giant critter species as well as your monster-plants.
Ultimately I am thinking all races originated in one great spring or another. Call it Valley of Blue Snails evolution. Eventually older races would be out-competed and new ones will fill the void. This is gradual though as most new races do not have what it takes. Large changes would occur when a great spring follows a great winter, the largest voids would be available then. Those still alive who experienced the Vaunderfel would remember it like a grand dream, although a very vivid one. Reality did not work quite the same, particularly near the end of Vaunderfel.