Saturday, June 8, 2019

The Turtle Moved

I posted my terrain generator last week and I like it a lot! Still, it really only works for earthlike worlds, and most of my homebrew settings are very much not. The format works, though, so I just whipped up some new tables for slightly meatier play.

Fair warning to the squeamish: this post, nay, this entire setting, relies on healthy doses of body horror and meat. If surgery videos squick you out and you don't particularly care for being reminded that you're five pounds of meat piloting a bone mecha, this setting is either something that's very much for you or very much not for you.

The Turtle Moved
once, long ago
Image result for zombie turtle art
now, but in space
Once, the world rested on the back of a turtle. Then, the world fell off. A few stragglers clung to the back of the turtle, and cut deep into its shell to build a new civilization. Mighty cyclopean halls, cut from turtleflesh and adamant-bone, quarried with magic picks and mine-beasts formed of and fed on what they excavated.

Then, one day when civilization was strong and hearty and thriving, the turtle died and began to rot. Its heart had stopped, and with it the sun froze, casting the turtleback into eternal twilight. Now the turtle-corpse coasts through space, en route to wherever it may have been going.

The scavengers came, from beyond the cold dead stars, to feast on the greatest banquet in the universe. Civilization fell swiftly, and the few remaining points of light flicker in the depths of the turtle-corpse, pursued by creatures as large as worlds and ridden with parasites of all manner.

Perhaps the turtle may be rejuvenated, if its heart could be restarted. Perhaps there are relics from the time-before-time, that mages from the Old World once stored for safe-keeping on the back of the turtle, that could let civilization flourish once more. Perhaps the world will return, and bring with it final salvation. Perhaps the turtle will collapse, and everyone will die in the cold blackness of intertestudinal space.

The Turtle is rotting, and dead, but most of it hasn't had time to realize this and so it teems with life. Hulking cities forged from blood-iron, weeping their poisoned oils into the clotting arteries and veins. The bone tunnels of the dwarflords, honeycombing the shell and the femurs and the ribs like great engraved beehives. The Meat Hells of the fleshcrafters, where some sickly facsimile of the Turtle still lives on...

Related image
David Kendall
Image result for fantastic voyage art
Matt Tkocz
The Turtle's biology is broadly like that of a normal turtle, but it fractalizes into smaller reproductions of turtle at every scale. Piercing its main heart slew it, but there are many more beating hearts in many more ribcages, tumescent lungs metastasizing across continents, oceans of bile spilling from stomach to stomach. Shell honeycombs the space between bones, growing eyes and limbs and even brains. Smaller turtles of every possible size gestate in great egg-sacs, or float freely through arteries and even the voids of decay (if they've mutated enough to have wings).

What lives in the Turtle? Parasites. Hyperparasites. Very large cells trying their best to do their jobs in a world that no longer makes any sense. Plagues so large they become entities in and of themselves. Lots of undead raised from individual body-parts or organs. Hybrid creatures formed by the fleshcrafter kingdoms of old, now loosed upon the ecosystem. Packs of roaming spells, given life by the Turtle's vast decayed neural wiring. Machines from other worlds, abandoned and forgotten in the void, impacted and burrowed into the shell. Lasts-of-their-kind, sole survivors of the Old World. And most of all, people.

Here's my generic generator. Replace the Terrain table with this one; adapt other results as you see fit.

1. Meat
2. Bone
3. Void
4. Blood
5. Guts
6. Weird (roll on the Weird Table)

Weird Table
1. Artificial
2. Brain
3. Cancer
4. Claws
5. Eyes
6. Fungus
7. Hatchery
8. Mouths
9. Magic
10. Nerve
11. Rot
12. Roll twice, it's a teratoma of both results

Image result for gigeresque art
H. R. Giger
Related image
Innerspace (1987)
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Fantastic Voyage (1966)
Example Terrain
Meat/Meat: A vast expanse of parched fibers, spasming rhythmically faster and faster. Caravans crossing the meatscape must latch on tight when the spasms grow quick and violent.
Meat/Bone: Fat clinging in lumps to scoured, exposed ribs; sticky strands hang between them and play host to nesting pods of sharkbats.
Meat/Void: The inside of a lung, branching alveoli providing ample shelter for small communities with incredibly fresh air. Perhaps it's better than it no longer breathes, for if the floor was to contract and breath out, everyone inside would surely be crushed.
Meat/Blood: A heart the size of a city, split in half under its own weight. Blood spills from its edges in a vast waterfall, and fleshcrafter cities on its sides use their fell magics to filter out iron and forge that most valuable of metals.
Meat/Guts: The dead live again in the deeper, odder organs. The liver not only purifies toxins, it purifies curses and even death itself, returning inanimate chunks of meat and bone to a half-life of far greater animation and far less effectiveness. They shamble across vast plains of pate, attempting to fulfill their purpose - typically this makes them hostile to anyone seeking to claim the purificative powers of the liver itself.
Meat/Weird: A glob of marbled brain and muscle, animate and thinking and gurgling. Sometimes it seems as if it is trying to speak. Fleshcrafters often aim for immortality through merging with the flesh of the turtle - is this a horrific failure? it a success?

Bone/Bone: The shell of the turtle, carved and hollowed into cavernous halls by the giants that survived the fall of the world. They are now abandoned, with lone giants ruling domains in immortal and unchanging silence.
Bone/Void: Shining citadels of bone protruding downwards from a long-rotted rib. They've iced over from condensation and the cold blackness of space, and hyperparasitic wasps flit between the lowest rooms, seeking other parasites to grow their young within.
Bone/Blood: A snapped bone, with parasites eagerly devouring the bounty of marrow inside. The great beast that cracked it now lies dead nearby as well, ridden to death by whatever harnessed it and drove it into the bone.
Bone/Guts: A ruptured stomach far above leaks acid onto a spine, etching it with patterns that seem almost purposeful. Neural ghosts of turtles long-past flit across the spine, creating ghostly storms of acid and nerve-lightning.
Bone/Weird: Fungi have used a flat expanse of shoulder-bone as a stable substrate for growing into a thriving forest, one of the few places of greenery (well, more like brownery) on the Turtle.

Void/Void: On the turtle's shell, where once there was a vast disc with a thriving world, there is now only emptiness and coldness and the judgment of twinkling stars. A crack runs down the shell, splitting it into rough hemispheres, quarried by the first survivors to find meat and water.
Void/Blood: A network of arteries across a vast gap between organs. The arteries have been harnessed to act as impromptu channels, carrying passengers in hermetically-sealed subsanguines. Captains of subsanguines hire on mercenaries to defend against the myriad terrors of the bloodways, including kraken-sized white blood cells with reaching tendrils just trying to fulfill their purpose.
Void/Guts: Bubbles of gas produced as the byproducts of megabiota digestion have inflated a section of intestine to vast proportions. The wind currents propel skyships from polyp to polyp, as they harvest chunks of food devoured long ago.
Void/Weird: In a perfect sphere of emptiness, there hangs a perfect jewel of rock a mile across, covered in trees and pure water and a small house. A micro-sun orbits the miniature world, so unlike the dead sun frozen above the Turtle's head. Why is it there? Can you go there? Should you?

Blood/Blood: An ocean of blood. It runs deep into abysses of all manner of organs, and serpents regularly rise from its depths to consume floating chunks of meat fallen from high above. Island-bladders dot the surface, moving with the currents.
Blood/Guts: A vast gash through organs and veins has created a horrid, clotted mix of fluids and scraps of torn bowel. Parasites fight over every inch of the catastrophe, wriggling and devouring each other as much as they devour the nutrient-rich concoction.
Blood/Weird: It's blood, but instead of the giant blood cells that permeate the Turtle's primary arteries, it's full of eyes and snapping mouths. They flock like fish and swarm like locusts, seeking and searching - for what?

Guts/Guts: A veritable goldmine of mashed-together spleens and pancreata, bloated with filtered-out toxins and hormones. Mining operations delve deep, harvesting tubs of gluey fluid to sell across the region.
Guts/Weird: Turtle eggs of all sizes embedded in a great womblike sac, from city-sized mutants with multifarious new limbs to hand-sized eggs of most ordinary box turtles. Many of them are in the process of hatching, and sometimes a stillbirth plummets from a cracked shell as the Turtle's life draws to a close.

Weird/Weird: A complex of a shining solid, like bone but cold to the touch and molded in angular forms. Its corridors sparkle with embedded lights, and the hum of artifacts can be heard in the walls. Defenders made of the same material as the complex deploy immensely destructive spells from long tubular apertures, and throughout the area a voice speaks with toneless, mechanical precision.


  1. Ah brilliant, as a fan (and maker) of random generators I love how this hijacks something normal to produce something so weird!

  2. Ahhhh so good so good! I want to do the modern/sci-fi version of the d6 table now...


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