“Traditional westerns typify some of the hardships men face: you have to be rugged, silent, stoic. It’s a man against nature, against the world.”
— Lisa Joy
Over the years I’ve created more than a handful of settings to run games or write about. One of my personal favorites was the setting I called Westfallen.
It has aspects of science fiction, fantasy, post-apocalyptic, and westerns all combined together. I wrote a setting primer for the first game I ever ran in it, I’ll include some of that here and more later on.
The Downfall is the event that changed Khey single handedly in a matter of moments. Nobody knows exactly what it was and what happened, but here’s the general synopsis gathered from logs and journals found over the years.
It was a normal day, like any other day — the citizens woke up, happily going about their merry lives, as Khey at this point was in a golden age. Rumor has it, they cured all diseases, been to the moon, could create life from scratch and turn lead into gold. Their civilization was as bright as the Sun, which they worshiped. This “Solar Hierophant” looked over his people calmly, and granted them safe passage through his celestial waters. On this day, however, the Sun King would find a usurper knocking at his door.
It was a paradoxical streak that appeared across the sky; dark as night, but visible as an eerie light. It tore across the sky in a massive rush, heading towards the sun. In a mere second, it collided, and then nothing. But as time passed, first minutes, then hours, the sun glowed brighter, and brighter, until finally, it exploded in a massive fireball of light.
The Sun was now hollow. A black sun, still emanating light, replaced the once welcome sight in the sky — forever a scar of the tragedy occurring. Two massive shapes, one the previous body of darkness and one of light, flew through the skies in what seemed an endless battle for those who bore witness. The battle ended, however, and the body of light had lost.
Both beings plummeted through the sky, landing on the eastern end of the continent. A bright flash of searing white energy blasted up as a pillar in the sky, followed by a low rumbling from the bowels of the earth. Soon air rushed past, and then a blue glow. Everything stopped working — the people of Khey were left with no technology and no knowledge of the old ways.
Survivors from the area around the blast crater made way to the east, mentioning that the land, as well as beasts and plants alike, were changing. As if the very earth its self was sick, changing and twisting shape. Those who refused to leave were quickly consumed by these mutating life-forms, either killed or left to mutate.
It was a plague that had formed when the West had fallen. All these things became one. They became… “The Westfallen.”
Billions of people left their homes hoping to escape the Westfallen, but the Westfallen were hungry, growing, and relentless. The very earth bent on their beck and call — earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, and floods - the cities and acropolises were besieged by nature, and a metropolis that once held several billion people was reduced to a skeleton of metal, stone, and rubble in a matter of hours.
Mutated wildlife chased down survivors, hunting them and devouring them by the millions. Creatures who had once been kept as pets or as peaceful livestock now hungered for blood. People who would survive the attack would soon turn themselves. It wasn’t too soon that people were killing each other over the paranoia of infection.
It wasn’t until the new life-forms started appearing that the military was defeated, however. They took forms to traverse land, sea, and sky, and their capability to all function as a part of a hive mind gave them incredible efficiency in destroying their enemies.
It was a dark time.
Diseases that were once thought to be extinct came back, mutated, and unable to be stopped by dwindling supplies of medicine. These illnesses ravaged the rest of the survivor population as they were so packed together you could barely breathe in some areas.
As the rest of the survivors trembled and hid, trying to make do, their enemy continued to evolve, to grow, and to devour. They lost more and more land every day that could sustain any life. Ecosystems were destroyed, and all hope was lost.
But, as all great people do, they had hope. They still prayed to their fallen Sun, hoping he could hear them. Their prayers went unanswered, and the black sun loomed overhead every day as a constant reminder of their plight.
The men and women who could provide some answers and hope became leaders of their kind and began their long fight for survival against the hives of the Westfallen.
“The world is a goddamned evil place, the strong prey on the weak, the rich on the poor; I’ve given up hope that there is a God that will save us all. How am I supposed to believe that there’s a heaven and a hell when all I see now is hell.”
— Aaron B. Powell, Doomsday Diaries III: Luke the Protector