Zothique: The Brazen Serpent

The last continent on Earth holds Creation's greatest treasure... and its greatest terrors.

"Gnydron (aka Zothique)... is more subject to incursions of ‘outsideness’ than any former terrene realm; and more liable to the visitation of beings from galaxies not yet visible; also, to shifting admixtures and interchanges with other dimensions or planes of entity."—A Tale Of Gnydron, synopsis, CAS to Lin Carter 1931

Earth has been wracked by countless cataclysms—man-made, natural, and magical! A bloated carmine sun illumines the bleak landscapes of the last continent: ZOTHIQUE. Antediluvian GODS and DEMONS have returned from the darkness between the stars to court worship and foster the primæval sorceries of æons past. Sacrifice and diabolatry prevail as in ancient days.

Nature has run amok; perverted and distorted beasts of myth, colossi of yore, and fiends unimaginable prowl the frontier. In the vast central deserts, cities that once boasted the sepulchral grandeur of TASUUN have fallen into the hands of bandits, warlords, cults, and worse. Rumors persist that the SERPENT-MEN of legend have slithered up from their subterranean nests in search of flesh for their transmutation vats. The quintet of desperate kingdoms surrounding these lawless wastes hunger for the territory and treasures Tasuun lost, as much as they fear unknown enemies building power within.

Out of the night-cursed desert comes a party of disparate travelers, sole survivors of a bandit raid upon a caravan train. YOU are one of these intrepid souls, united by blood, sweat, and chance. Wealth, knowledge, power, glory all await you; and perhaps—the key to humanity's salvation. Choose your path wisely...


Conspectus

Tech/social level analogous to Greek Dark Age (i.e. the Bronze Age collapse); Ancient Mesopotamia/Levant/Horn of Africa; Pre-90's sword & sorcery; Italian westerns; Italian peplum (i.e. sword & sandal); Dune ('84); Conan; the Hebrew Bible; The Scorpion King franchise; One Thousand and One Nights; Gor; Thundarr (man's civilization is cast in ruins!); Dark Sun; Brom; Frazetta (1970s fantasy art); bronze vs iron and metal scarcity; fantastic war chariots; bustling bazaars; onion-domed palaces; curved swords, kaftans, and jeweled turbans; tasseled fezzes; veiled women; diaphanous robes; kohl lined eyes; eye-to-eye swaths of battlefield dead; genetically resurrected dinosaurs, monsters, and megafauna (they brought back the mammoth… but didn't stop!); Egypt analog in the west of lavish tombs, mummies, and beast-headed gods; Great Rift Valley with actual temporal rifts and variable biomes; craggy savannas; semi-arid, beautiful deserts (more rocky and shrubby like the Mojave and Kalahari rather than dune seas like the Sahara); majestic buttes; huge cliffs and faults; immense dungeons, subsurface environments, and subterranean cities; astrology-based sorcery; women warrior tribe based on Scythian and Dahomey Amazons; reincarnated snake-men and serpent cults with weird temples and laboratories; conniving jinn (note the lack of a "d"); cutlass twirling dervishes; simian hominids (all of them); dry tropical forests in the northwest; ruin-laden rainforest valleys in the mountains; cloud jungle plateaus in the south; tribesmen, bushmen, desert nomads, headhunters—friendly and antagonistic; Tcho-tcho; revolting inbred degenerates; genetic mutant humans, war-painted, bone body jewelry-pierced cannibals; recrudescent ancient astronaut "gods" exploiting the superstitious masses; massive cone ziggurats; half-buried stone monuments and obelisks; advanced precursor technologies; Lovecraftian horrors from the void; humanity struggling to retain a semblance of civilization; enlightened ascetics meditating in remote monasteries; squirm-inducing decadence and libertinage, rampant nihilism; inhumane and prejudicial laws; slavery; crimson soaked altars and blood sorcery; crucifixions and public executions; bloodsports; cultural decay; screaming doomsday prophets; masked Old One cults; debauched tyrants; depraved wizards; casual gray-ethic necromancy; structural decay; depopulated cities; mysterious ruins; great cracks in the Earth leading to hidden biomes; plagues; natural and sorcerous disasters; rampant brigandry, bloodthirsty warlords; barbarians; SANDSTORM; and amid all this awfulness… heroes (not necessarily do-gooders) who seek more than mere survival, who rage against the dying of the light.


Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
—Dylan Thomas