OBSCURUM: SHAPES IN THE DARK
A portion of a message from a long-dead human is scrawled in blood on a steel wall of The Ark, a ship bearing the last survivors of Earth’s apocalypse. It reads:
Despair no more, dear sinners, for salvation cometh! The chosen shall establish Dominion, and angels shall descend from on high to bring you to release from your suffering.
This prophecy propels humanity to a new planet they name Eterra. A new home means new horrors.
Eterra is a world built of rubble and bones, a vast zombie planet birthed from the remains of sister planets that have already come and gone. It is the last planet orbiting an ancient star at the center of its galaxy. The humans born there, called demi-humans, are strange - they are born deeply connected to the dark energy and matter of the universe. Eterra and her people prove what happens when evolution takes a sharp left and enters the deep dark of the unknown.
Aeternus, City of the Initiate’s Light: The capital city of the entire planet, built around the landing site of The Ark. It is also the only place on Eterra with government-regulated access to the planetary core. The city itself is the cultural capital of the planet but also its most significant military strength, built to provide planet-wide offense and defense.
The Ark: The ship of the original demi-human settlers, flora, and fauna salvaged before Earth’s demise. The ship has been broken into parts throughout Aeternus and other parts of the planet, but some of its original steel walls have been preserved in the city center.
The Core: The place where dark energy is most concentrated. Since the time of The Initiate, a descent into The Core is a coming-of-age rite of passage for children born on Eterra. It is believed that this first high exposure to the concentrated dark energy activates the genes within demi-humans, allowing them to see "demonic" creatures but helps the most gifted of them form contracts.
Trekka, The Dark City of the Tremor: A demi-human settlement founded in the later years of The Era of Discovery that is eventually partially destroyed by the first “angel” to descend upon Eterra. It is the planet's second-largest settlement, boasting a concentrated population of exceptionally gifted children.
Fliewood, Dark Village Born From Trees: A small settlement founded during later years of the The Era of Enlightenment on the outskirts of The Wilds. Only the bravest, most outcast of demi-humans tend to live there.
The Wilds: The places where Eterra remains relatively uninfluenced by demi-human tampering. Rumor has it that the trees have eyes and ears. Not much is known about what lives there, but demi-humans are known to go missing.
The Chapel: The underground illegal training facility near Trekka started in the Era of Enlightenment. It was turned semi-regulated government facility for demi-humans of demonic nature in the Era of Dark Decay.
The Seat: [In the Era of Dark Decay] A massive crater south of the planet where portions of Trekka used to stand. It is now a graveyard and monument to those lost during first contact. Beginning in the year 394 A.E, the decaying body of a Throne lies in its center, and Seraphim and other monsters openly swarm from where it lies.
**HISTORY & LORE:**
SYSTEM OF TIME:
Relative to IRL time measurements.
One Eterran Day: 30 hours
One Eterran Year: 415 days
A.E = After Eterra
THE ERA OF DISCOVERY
0 A.E: A million years after the surface of the planet forms, one thousand demi-humans arrive on The Ark. They bring the remains of their long-dead civilization and the “prophecy” with them. They name the zombie planet Eterra.
2 A.E - 10 A.E: The first mutation is observed within the demi-human population, among the first children born on the surface. They are born with genes wholly intertwined with the dark energy flowing through the planet. They also report seeing the “demonic” creatures living within the energy. Nervous and struggling to adapt to this unforeseen circumstance, demi-humanity sequesters these children and their families in a minor city called Trekka.
THE ERA OF ENLIGHTENMENT
100 A.E: The first contract between demi-human and tenebris is made, allowing a demi-human to control dark energy and the strange creatures that have haunted them. The Initiate rises to power as the first planetary ruler. They believe they have achieved dominion over the dark energy to lead demi-humanity to a golden age. They pass on their knowledge and non-violent teachings to proliferate their tender civilization. As more contractors come of age, combat using demonic contracts is outlawed.
130 A.E: The Initiate’s Commission is founded to govern the planet.
131 - 249 A.E: Gifted children are openly selected to hone their dark energy skills. Only ten are chosen to form contracts per generation and only for non-combat purposes. Descendants of The Initiate continue their ancestor's mission, building the capital city Aeternus.
250 A.E: The second half of the prophecy is discovered. It reads: “From your bones, they’ll rend your flesh, and no longer shall you feel pain. As was prophesied, all shall weep tears of blood and joy, and The Devourer shall emerge from the Dark to reign forevermore.” A breakaway cult, led by The Apostle, forms. They are the cultural minority on Eterra but worship dark energy and fervently believe contracts to be a gift for a higher calling. Several older contractors train for combat illegally and establish a tradition of underground fighting rings for combat training.
THE ERA OF DARK DECAY
251 A.E - 391 A.E: Divide between demi-human factions grows, and strange happenings continue in the shadows,. Nevertheless, prosperity reigns as demi-humans cultivate the planet to fit their needs. They are unaware of the eyes watching from the deep dark. Starting in 295 A.E, the nights on the planet grow increasingly cold.
392 A.E: Eterraquakes begin, and the dark energy behaves strangely as if being manipulated by something far larger. The few demonic contractors of this generation report erratic behavior amongst their contracted tenebris.
393 A.E: First known contact with an angelic monster. A Throne with six spinning wheels and millions of milky white eyes descends upon Eterra. It destroys most of Trekka, killing thousands. When the Throne falls, an Archangel peeks from the dark of space and sweeps its massive eye over the destruction. It opens its maw and shrieks, a signal that something bigger has begun.
394 A.E - present (430 A.E): Eterra has been experiencing regular attacks from Seraphim, Virtues, and in increasing numbers. The underground fighting rings are converted to open facilities as the combat ban is lifted. Things are getting worse as older hunters fall. The planet’s ecological instability grows worse.
**GAME PLAY & PLOT POINTS**
Obscura is designed as a sandbox with multiple storytelling entry points depending on era. A Game Master leads up to six customizable player characters through the narrative. Players can choose to be either invasive “angelic” monsters or demi-human planetary settlers/defenders throughout the history of this new planet. Plot prompts are semi-neutral and playable from either side (Demi-human or Angelic) at the GM and players' discretion.
(Era of Discovery - Set just after Eterra is settled) The children are mutated and possessed! They wander The Wilds and are seduced by shadowy creatures, often lured to their deaths. For the good of the children and the good of Eterra, something must be done.
(Era of Enlightenment - Set during the construction of Aeternus) As construction booms, a city comes to life, but there’s something so strange about the soil. Demi-humanity pushes ever onward, but some of the most dark energy-sensitive people can’t shake the feeling of being watched.
(Era of Enlightenment - Set during The Apostle’s rise/rebellion) A stranger with madness in the dark of their eyes draws together those who believe The Oracle’s warning. Mysterious marks appear on the surface of the planet.
(Era of Dark Decay - Set before the Throne attack) Trekka has been experiencing Eterraquakes with increasing frequency. Though it has been reported to those in the planetary capital, no investigation has been started. The children of the town begin experiencing seizures just before every quake. The citizens finally take it into their own hands when one child dies.
(Era of Dark Decay Set in the “Present”) The monster crisis is at its peak, and the discovery that the initial prophecy was incomplete rocks demi-human society. A monster has destroyed Trekka, and the eyes from the dark hunger for humanity’s end. Unless they can fend off these “angels,” Eterra is screwed. It is time for an overdue galactic Holy War.
And space to improv many more!
The Historian: A long-lived demi-human scholar stationed in the capital who is well versed in the lore of Eterra and the history of the first demi-humans to arrive on The Ark. The GMs primary NPC.
The Blind Man / The Oracle: The in-world term for the human who scrawled the prophecy. Referred to as The Blind Man by followers of The Initiate and The Oracle by followers of The Apostle.
The Initiate: The first demi-human to form a demonic contract (manipulator type) and the leader who pulled together demi-human society from a few scattered settlements to a sprawling metropolis with branch colonies. Their control over dark energy brought forth a scientific and cultural revolution and fast-forwarded the settlement of Eterra. Considered a deity by some, a traitor by others.
The Apostle: The leader of a cult fixated on the prophecy written in blood on a wall of The Ark. Believes the prophesy is literal and that The Initiate was blocking demi-humanity from its destined evolution. Organized underground combat training for demonic contractors until combat became legal.
Systems of Government/Magic
**GOVERNMENT & MAGIC**
The Initiate’s Commission: The ruling governmental body of Eterra was founded in 130 A.E. The council is always compromised of two leaders from the three largest settlements on the planet with the direct descendants of The Initiate leading the pack.
Tenebris Contractor/Hunter Classes: Players have complete narrative freedom over age, body type, and other phenotypic characteristics. Choose your class:
Berserker Type: To fight “angelic” monsters, stretch your humanity to its limit. Harness dark energy within your body to modify your very DNA to rapidly mutate your demi-human physiology into that of a tenebris monster. Significant bonuses to strength and defense, average speed, but handicaps for intelligence and wisdom.
Manipulator Type: An angel-hunting class focused on shaping dark energy into external weaponry. Choose a weapon class, and you can form any weapon from that class. Balanced/average in strength, speed, defense, and wisdom, but overall bonus to intelligence for each. Choose and build your subclass:
- Bludgeoning: Bonus to strength, average speed, but handicap to defense.
- Piercing: Bonus in speed, average strength, and defense.
- Armored: Bonus in defense, average strength, but handicap to speed.
Possession Type: Via technological body modification, an angel-hunting class in which a tenebris and its contractor share a consciousness and demi-human body. Average strength but bonus to wisdom and speed. Can communicate with and exert control over lower-level tenebris creatures. Handicap to intelligence as the contractor wars with losing control over their mind for good.
**FLORA & FAUNA:**
Tenebris: are entities born from the dark energy in the core of the planet. It is believed that they are extensions of the planet itself. Their true anatomy/species is unknown as contractors typically see only shadow until a contract is made and the tenebris takes on a unique chosen form.
Angelic Monsters: Entities who are entirely unknown to demi-humanity for a large portion of their history. Once discovered, their classification, like much of Eterran culture, is a system borrowed from remnants of ancient Earth. The nonplayable monsters include:
- Seraphim: The smallest angelic monsters with a particular hunger for demi-human flesh. The average tenebris contractor can destroy one or two alone, but Seraphim attack in droves.
- Cherubim: Medium-sized angelic monsters with many heads and a particular hunger for demi-human flesh. Where there is one, there is another.
- Thrones: Hulking creatures that look like multiple spinning wheels with millions of eyes. The more circles that make up its body, the more powerful it is.
- Archangels: Immensely powerful, the largest of the angelic monster classes. Nearly as big as the planet itself.
- The Devourer: Not much is known about whether this entity exists, and Eterra is not trying to find out. The only known image of it is drawn in blood on a steel wall of The Ark.
- Humanoid Angelic Monsters (Playable or GM NPCs):
Virtues: Humanoid angelic monsters that exert control over Eterra’s surface elements. Subspecies' classification depends on where they spawn from.
a. Terra: Virtues that crawl from beneath the planet’s crust. (Common)
b. Air: Virtues that descend from beyond Eterra’s atmosphere (Uncommon)
c. Fire: Virtues that explode from the planet's molten core (Rare)
d. Water: Virtues that emerge from the darkest lakes and swamps of the planet. Considered particularly invasive. (Super Common)
Powers: Humanoid angelic monsters that exert control over dark energy, similar to tenebris contractors. The nature of their connection to the dark energy is unknown.
Principalities: The largest and most monstrous humanoid class of angelic monsters. They can exert control over the three non-playable angelic monster classes and are often treated as Generals among angelic monsters.
- Surviving Earth Flora and Fauna: Eterra is also populated by evolutionary descendants of domesticated and formerly wild animals rescued during Earth’s demise. These living species are kept in specialized facilities in Aeternus to regulate their evolutionary patterns. Including but not limited to:
- Domesticated Fauna: Diary cows, sheep, goats, llamas, chickens, etc
- Formerly Wild Fauna: Brown bears, lions, crocodiles, horned owls, eagles, silkworms, spiders, etc..
- Surviving Flora: Lilies and several other floral species , Sequoia, and oak trees.
Native Flora: Most flora grow in The Wilds. Otherwise, the planet is very bare.
a. Tenebris Trees: Sprawling, wide-trunked trees native to Eterra. They grow hundreds of feet tall and are older than demi-humanity’s settlements. They feel far more sinister than any tree on Earth ever felt, and the woods are home to lower-level tenebris creatures.
b. Atra Flowers: Inky black flowers grow from moving vines covering the forest floor. Demi-humanity has found a use for them in potions. They do not grow anywhere else on the planet.