Tuesday, February 28, 2023

12 Cultural Relics of the Post-Event Age

The After the End mod for Crusader Kings remains a favorite of mine, and a new version just came out. Instead of playing it (as I do not have CK3 and find those games more fun in concept than in direct experience) I have been digging through the localization files and reading up on all the fun post-apocalyptic religions. I might do something with those later: for now, the result is this.

1. A narrative hagiography of an Old World folk saint; the subject of the text, Saint Heboyé, is a cambion born of a demon father and a human mother, who wanders the world performing many miracles (typically defeating monsters, performing exorcisms, and providing aid to the common folk). Most famously, he is said to have been instrumental in the defeat of a seven-headed dragon and made a journey into Hell for the purpose of releasing souls trapped there. The illustrations in the source codex are striking, their use of color and shadow is rarely well-replicated by other scribes.

2. The common folk revere a panoply of tutelary spirits called poh-geman - brightly colored, simply drawn animals and other more exotic beings, invoked as protectors and spiritual companions of children and the household. They are believed to increase in power when gathered together, and thus it is common to amass large collections of icons, medals, especially in regions where Old World artifacts are still easily found.

3. The Saga of the Wars of the Firmament are a series of oral and written traditions detailing an ancient war and the cosmic conflict that drives it. The heavens have been thrown out of alignment by human sages confusing the powers of light and dark for good and evil, and the resulting imbalance leads to an all-consuming war that lasts for generations. While the main storyline follows the family tree of the Walk-the-Sky Clan, dozens to hundreds of narratives have been dedicated to minor or side characters. It is expected that any decent orator will focus their telling according to their preferences, revealing aspects of the wars in new ways.

4. The gongfarmer brothers Marius and Aloysius are extremely popular stock characters in comedic plays. Most famously they rescue the Princess Persicia of Amanita and her handmaid Bellis from the clutches of the Tarrasque, and are accompanied by a rotating cast of secondary characters: Asinus Conagus the great ape, Bufo the Amanitine majordomo, Catena and Séamus the warriors, and the rival gongfarmers Virius and Valerius.

5. In a tiny village in the hills, it is customary to greet guests with a plate of steamed pork dumplings and the phrase "It is my hope that this meal will not be forgotten."

6. A gorgeously illuminated and perfectly transcribed manuscript of _The Last Unicorn_. Not a period is out of place. Unfortunately, a long period of unpopularity for Old World Nglesh texts has led to the book meant that no copies were made for several generations, and now the book is now so old that it's uncertain if it can survive the copying process.

7. The mystery cult has been appearing in the cities around the Great Lakes in recent years. They wear black robes, black masks, wield swords with no tip, and wear no tunics no matter the chill. They claim to be a penitent order, here to expunge sins from those who submit themselves to their practices. They hold their holy text in extremely high regard, and spend significant time in analyzing it. They are rivals to a school of mendicant knights, who worship the sun and aid those in need.

8. Saint Ripli's hagiography is a simple one; a common laborer, she was shipwrecked on an island with a company of soldiers. Finding a destroyed village, she learns from the single survivor (an orphaned child) that a demon stalks the island. Most of the soldiers are killed by the monster, but Ripli is able to injure it with fire before performing the exorcism that casts it into the outer darkness. Her cult has drawn recent controversy after refusing to comply with decanonization of their patroness (the St. Louis papacy has declared that, as Ripli did not actually call upon any divine aid, she does not classify as eligible for sainthood.)

9. A vast, amorphous, syncretic collection of deities, each representing one or more fundamental Powers of the world and demonstrating mastery of those phenomena. In traditional stories, each of these gods has a human form and name that they use while living among mortals, taking on their epithets only when exercising their Power. Exist in many loosely-defined pantheons and complicated family trees, with the three most popular being the Gods of Justice, the Marvelous Gods, and the Once-Men. Constantly warring against each other and rival villain-gods.

10. Pilgrims from certain rural communities will travel on foot to the center of the Yellowstone Eruption Zone (called "Murder" by this particular folkway). Groups are always nine in number (an auspicious number) and the pilgrimage itself is referred simply as "Going and Returning. If possible, a ring will be thrown into the caldera - symbolizing the breaking of one's oath sworn to the Lord of Worldly Evils.

11. An executable program titled "Dwarf Fortress v1.11" resides on the reliquary computer at St.Brendan's abbey, and it has puzzled the monks there for decades. It is believed to be a complex spiritual practice or meditation aid, wherein one takes the role of a god caring for an uncooperative people. God willing, the monastery's second windmill will be completed soon and the expanded electricity budget will allow the reliquarists more time to unravel its mysteries.

12. Belief in beings from other worlds is commonplace and the source of many cultic practices. It is a widespread claim that these godlike beings arrived in "flying chariots like silver wheels" to witness the wonders of the Old World and pay homage to the great works of the ancestors.


  1. "The apocalypse as a means of exploring the structure and nature of belief in the modern world and its legacy and transformation" is an extremely niche genre but it is also one of my absolute favorites.

  2. I don't get some of them. Reference explanation for the unworldly, please?

    Also, re 3, I assume you too found that bit in Reign of Fire to be inspirational?

    1. I haven't gotten 5 or 7 yet...

      1. Jesus
      2. Pokemon
      3. Star Wars
      4. The Mario Bros
      5. ???
      6. The Last Unicorn (no points)
      7. ???
      8. Aliens (the movie)
      9. Superhero comics (The Gods of Justice are the Justice League, the Marvelous Gods are mainline Marvel, the Once-Men are the X-Men)
      10. Lord of the Rings
      11. Dwarf Fortress (no points)
      12. UFO lore

    2. I think #1 is Hellboy and #5 is Steamed Hams, but #7 has me stumped.

    3. I believe #7 to be a reference to the Guild of Torturers (Order of the Seekers for Truth and Penitence) from The Book of the New Sun novels by Gene Wolfe.

    4. All correct! #7 also contains an oblique reference to sunbros but that's barely supported in the description.

    5. Number 5 is steamed hams, from Simpsons, unless I'm crazy.

  3. I'm similar in appreciating most Paradox games from a distance without actually enjoying playing them, and my appreciation for--and subsequent reluctance to experience--some of their crazier mods like After the End is even greater

    1. The Spoiler Warning LP youtubers had a great series on both Crusader Kings 2 and CK3. In particular, their CK2 series had cannibalism, stealing holy artefacts, literally losing their balls in a Crusade, Satanism (complete with wearing the goat skull) and the disfigured pope getting jailed for just a moment before getting let go.

  4. I'm absolutely losing it over these. I'm going to have to draw some fanart of this post.

    1. I shall add any and all fanart to the post itself.

  5. Poe played with such future missconceptions (among much else talking about the Hindoo philosopher Aries Tottle) in Mellonta Tauta: https://www.eapoe.org/works/tales/mellntab.htm

  6. Off Topic, but I'd like your opinion on this piece: https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/your-book-review-the-dawn-of-everything

    1. Point the first: if you're going to link something in the comments, a little bit of context is nice. Otherwise, since I don't recognize your username, it makes you look like a bot.

      Point the second: It's Scott Alexander, of whom my opinion is "dismissed out of hand, because even if broken clock principle applies I still need to wade through him whining about how people need to stop getting offended at slurs."

    2. Point(s) taken, thanks. Will try to do better next time.