New Terrors Await
A Designer Diary for Wrath of the Gods
“The end is near. I hear a noise at the door, as of some immense slippery body lumbering against it. It shall not find me. God, that hand! The window! The window!”
–The testament of an unnamed morphine addict
The time long foretold has come to pass. The gods have returned to Earth with chaos and panic in their wake – and worst of all, you and your friends are caught in the center of it. The events of the Book of Revelation take place as the Four Horsemen ravage the world. Nature wages war against humanity’s accomplishments, pushing mankind back to a new Stone Age. The Elder God Cthulhu rises from his aeons-long slumber beneath the Pacific.
Like the other books in The End of the World roleplaying game line, Wrath of the Gods casts you and your friends into the deadly tumult of the apocalypse. If you can survive, you may live to see a new world order in the post-apocalypse, but survival is never easy when the supernatural merges with the mundane. In these troubled times, it helps to know where you’re going.
Today, Tim Cox, the writer behind Wrath of the Gods, offers a designer diary exploring how he developed the scenarios for Wrath of the Gods and how they differ from the scenarios in the line’s other books. Read more below!
Tim Cox on Developing the Scenarios for Wrath of the Gods
As with Zombie Apocalypse, the first book in The End of the World series, I had a starting premise and a lot of excellent art to work from when I wrote the five scenarios in Wrath of the Gods. Despite starting from a similar place, Zombie Apocalypse and Wrath of the Gods became two very different creatures. While Zombie Apocalypse has lots of variety within the core concept of zombies, Wrath of the Gods features everything from Nature running amok to the appearance of the Great Old One, Cthulhu. Each scenario in Wrath of the Gods offers a totally different way the world might end by the will of the gods, complete with different threats and enemies for the Player Characters to face. Although each of these scenarios offer their own challenges, a common thread between them is an epic quality as the PCs are forced to deal with momentous events beyond their comprehension. Whether they’re crushed beneath the weight of destiny or rise to the occasion is up to them.
While zombies represent a largely homogenous threat anywhere you go, the scenarios included in Wrath of the Gods often focus on cataclysmic events that reshape the entire world. These events can range from Cthulhu’s emergence from the Pacific Ocean, to the battle between Thor and Jörmungandr, to the appearance of colossal Mayan pyramids around the world. (Coincidentally, some of these important events occur quite close to the PCs. How convenient!) PCs in Wrath of the Gods might witness or take part in world-changing events, while still desperately fighting to survive.
Key to these Earth-shattering events are the larger-than-life figures that populate these scenarios. The PCs might flee the devastation wrought by fast-growing trees and hostile wildlife or futilely try to hold onto their sanity in the face of Cthulhu and deep-sea horrors. Not all of these mythical beings are necessarily enemies or threats, however. PCs could request an audience with the Quetzalcoatl, fight alongside angels of the host on the field of Armageddon, or aid Odin in his battle against Fenrir. These are some decidedly epic situations that the PCs might get into!
The epic quality of these scenarios continues in the post-apocalypse. Depending on the scenario and how the PCs handle the situation, the PCs might fight with the resistance against their otherworldly oppressors, take part in a final battle between the forces of good and evil, or even live as warrior-kings and queens in a world suffused with magic.
How will the PCs know what to expect when they engage with each scenario? When it comes to divine causes, the apocalypse is often foretold through prophecy. In the book of Revelation, the Norse Eddas, and even the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, humans in touch with the divine and otherworldly have foretold the end of days. The PCs might turn to these sources for insight into the problems they confront.
Of course, trying to turn back the end of humanity and civilization itself is futile when it means resisting destiny. But on the other hand, what if the PCs are destined to play a part? They won’t be single-handedly saving the planet – this is The End of the World, after all – but they could be meant for more than simple survival, selected long before their birth to play a part in the end of days, for good or ill. Alternatively, the PCs might simply face mankind’s utter insignificance in a pitiless and meaningless cosmos. In Wrath of the Gods, the scenarios run the gamut of possibilities at the end of the world.
The PCs are certain to experience a lot of awe and probably not a small amount of horror as the supernatural and the divine collide with the world we know. Against gods, mystical warriors, and elder beings, even the greatest weapons of modern science and technology are useless. Those who adapt to the new reality and state of the world – whether that means constantly hiding from Deep Ones or living in harmony with nature – are the most likely to survive.
Figuring out just some of the ways the PCs might be involved in these cataclysmic events was exciting and a little challenging, but I’m looking forward to seeing what players and GMs come up with. I hope everyone enjoys Wrath of the Gods as much as I did!
In Wrath of the Gods, you may face any number of horrors. Mayan warriors may corner you and your friends. The otherworldly visage of Cthulhu may cause rampant insanity. The forces of Nature may unite to destroy technology and cities. Whether you’re called by destiny to take part in these events or you simply hope to hide and survive, you can experience the end of the world like never before in Wrath of the Gods!
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