World Lore Archive


Org Co-Founder & Project Lead
Skaldarnar edit: Added related thread

Name: World Lore Archive
Summary: Writing some backstory for the "before" world of the proposed Untrue Tao game mode
Scope: Core Content
Current Goal: Brainstorm
Phase: Inception
Curator: ?
Related: World Theme and Backstory, Lore by SuperSnark

So the more I think about the potential in a subtle post-apocalyptic setting the more I like it vs. the "tabula rasa" approach of Minecraft (among others) - as in, before the world there was nothing, here's a pristine new world with no origin, have fun!

The idea of Untrue Tao (mainly discussed in the World Theme thread, but also elsewhere) is that of two sharply contrasted factions in an early mode of the game to showcase how we could distinguish factions or even races from each other at both a technical level as well as for gameplay. There have been a few snippets of suggestions of how those two factions could've come about, including a post-apocalyptic one.

My personal take on something like that was that of an advanced society that disintegrated itself with strong factions either for or against high tech, likely blaming each other for whatever went wrong. One side ends up steam-punky trying to recover occasional scattered artifacts and exploiting the world again, the other one abhors technology and devotes itself to some divine purpose including "magic" artifacts and peaceful energy-based interactions with the world - not realizing their "power" actually comes from technology indistinguishable from magic, including nanobots or something coursing through their veins giving them their energy manipulation abilities.

Many years after whatever went wrong have passed and the world is mostly pristine again, with a few bits of scattered ruins and artifacts here and there (gives purpose to exploring the world). Both sides have been struggling to get by for some reason but finally as the game starts they're beginning to reach out beyond their tiny communities again ...

So all that is still for the World Theme thread - the point here is what was the world like before and what happened?

I don't really want us to be explicit in-game about the world's origin, but think it could be neat if we have a series of short stories or even just fragments of the World that Was (concept art in story format?). I remember fondly how years and years ago right before Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri came out (99) they were releasing these small lore snippets weekly (I even found them again, yay! Journey to Centauri on this page). As a good little Civilization fanatic I was waiting impatiently for SMAC already, those lore stories just made it even better especially since they tied directly to events in the game.

This is something I think we could do, and specifically those interested in writing could do so without any direct relation to game implementation - sky's the limit since we don't need to model the old world in-game. Unless somebody later wants a scifi game mode, anyway ;)

With some snippets of lore like that we could use some of it as marketing material, some nice snippets could be embedded within the game found in ruins, the old tech could be described then found broken in the world, etc etc. It would give a lot more meaning to the game, yet be liberated from the main march down the road of implementation. This item could go from inception to completion independently.

Thoughts? Anybody interested in writing lore?


Active Member
I'm interested in working on that sort of things, especially the magic people part (i'd rather have a less obviously tehcnological magic). I'll submit ideas as soon as i have some :)


Lore Master
I'd love to work on this as well! There are so many approaches we can take with this and I truly believe that it adds depth to our world.

Some of this stuff might be parceled out in lore objects, as you mention Cervator. I've gotten back to playing Skyrim again and I'm thinking about all the books sprinkled throughout the game. I'm not one to read book after book after book in a row because I want to get back to slaying monsters. But in small doses it really does add extra flavor and character to the game.

In other games like the Legend of Zelda series, lore is always handled in very light sprinkles. You find an ancient monument or some vine covered building. And perhaps there is a way to decipher the language of it. In fact, this could be an actual gameplay element. Say you can build or acquire a device that allows you to figure out what certain objects are in the world before you can "use" or "exploit" them. Or there are bonus artifacts you can pick up that alter your stats or abilities. And along with this you get a little dose of previous history.

All kinds of fun things we can do. But first I need to get that contributor badge done. ; )


Active Member
just some thoughts, would be nice to tie in some game mechanics with the lore, like what happens when you die etc.

If the world returned to a pristine state, then you aren't really dealing with a post apocalyptic world. What would be more interesting but a lot more work is to actually initiate some kind a cycle within the game, where the world / society you built actually gets destroyed, and you need to deal with the aftermath, and ruins are actual ruins of your old society.

It might break the traditional "exploration" factor, but depending on how / what destroyed the world it could influence what you find in your own ruins. Like say a magical source / device which got drained / overproduces magic / another effect. Using the blueprints you'd have to create different versions of some buildings. We could define a couple types which might survive a cataclysm, or even a type of cataclysm.

The reason I mention it is because it might be an interesting way to add "updates" to the world, without having to break the one you were already playing with. You could alter cataclysms or add new ones, and add additional buildings / stuctures etc that way. It could also alter the mobs in different ways. I guess some inspiration comes from the thaumcraft mod in minecraft, where you have "taint" that influences your world and makes pigs go berserk etc.

Anyway it's again another wild idea, very interested to know what others think of it though, specially to use it as some sort of update mechanism.

update* : thinking of it, might even be a nice game mechanic, where a certain combination of actions actually triggers a certain effect.

some cataclysm examples :
tsunami / drought : sea level rises / drops. would open the way to underwater ruins.
Twister attack : twisters ravage the world
solar flare : temperatures rise, creating a sand world
Noah's flood : it keeps raining, creating a swamps
magic bomb : the magic faction was overambitious and destroyed the world, becoming hated by other factions, the magic bomb altered crops / mobs



Org Co-Founder & Project Lead
Note: This post sure got long. I'll probably split this into a few separate topics at some point

glasz - I do want to see some more traditional magic systems, divine powers, etc, and all those will fit in great in a mode beyond Untrue Tao, I believe. The idea with UT is a shorter team goal with a more narrow focus so we don't need to come up with multiple believable races and explanations for why they are in the world. Tossing more story at it is getting exciting to me as it might be its own "whole" thing rather than just a demo / milestone on the path toward something greater.

Beyond UT I imagine us doing a full game mode with multiple races finding themselves in the world for some other reason, with some of the more advanced DF-style features, more distinct factions / bundles of behaviors, etc. I have an old parked game world concept that might fit for that, may have mentioned it elsewhere before, a contest between the gods where they tear out entire pieces of existing worlds with usually one dominant race, then splice them all together on a new world to see who "wins"

The post-apocalyptic setting might work for both as could books and lore - in UT the world isn't entirely pristine, there are ruins and such, but I don't think a freshly destroyed world would work as well, especially with the sneaky tech vs non-tech-that-actually-IS-tech angle. That, and it'll be harder to procedurally generate (or destroy) a world more full of ruins and broken stuff. Scattered ruins could provide hints into the subtle lore we write as back story. In the post-UT setting you could just say large parts of the imported "world chunks" were heavily damaged/worn and arrive with a similar subtly ruined landscape containing snippets from the old worlds (plural this time)

SuperSnark - I really did enjoy the presence of more books than I could easily read in Skyrim. Just knowing that they're there, being able to build a library, and read a few occasionally was very nice. I don't think there are any drawbacks in having more lore than you can easily consume, other than of course the effort in putting it all together - but since that's independent of the game development it is a relatively easy item to work on :)

overdhose - Ruining an existing world to provide more "familiar" ruins is also great, tho they're two distinctly different beasts. One is entirely pre-game (the easy lore writing this thread looks to accomplish), one is entirely procedural and player-driven, so we can't write lore for it (cataclysms or player defeats). Here again I think to DF on how "losing is fun" became a thing, and how you can reclaim a past defeated fortress. There can be "game value" in losing if it is done right, and it can also be done absolutely horribly.

I played a game once that almost entirely drove off time spent in-game, that was also somewhat buggy and exploity - with some bad luck / timing you could lose your entire huge empire overnight, with nothing to show for it but a 100-message capped event queue for "Your 'x' is under attack!" - that was awful. But DF proves it can be done right, and I think we can do it, but probably should also slate that for post-UT

For explaining things - I'd say one option would be that certain individuals of a faction/race have been imbued with something special (backed by a player). To borrow some terms maybe they found a "soul shard" type tech (or later magic) artifact that allows them to reincarnate in a new body on death - they become like the "capsuleers" in EVE Online ;)

For player estates you need something more - so an accident, griefing, or a single large assault (DF goblin siege) can't immediately knock you out (losing without experiencing something = bad). Maybe you have a few metaphorical "dungeon hearts" that must be destroyed in order, and as one is destroyed the rest gain temporary invulnerability to drag out the process (grinding structures / Sov in EVE). That way in a persistent online world at least you'd get a chance to make it on to gain "game value" from destruction, as well as a chance to stop it. If all the dungeon hearts are destroyed then all your resident creatures lose their ability to be brought back from death or just flee back into the wild. The previous estate at that point could then start spawning ghosts and artifacts, showing some subtle hints of the past / being available for "reclaim fortress" functionality.

Finally there's major release cataclysms - that's an interesting way to upgrade if I've ever heard one ;) I like this but it sounds complicated to pull off. Not sure how we would, but it would be a coup alright. In addition to allowing an upgrade path for obsolete worlds you also have the "world refresh" syndrome that really plagues a lot of MC worlds (observing this a lot for the Eve Uni MC server). Players build their stuff, trivialize the content, then quit till next world reset. If you can capitalize on that as a healthy rejuvenation instead.... yeah, that sounds very interesting alright :)