Information about the Setting taken from the main rulebook.
The world of "Nechronica" revolves around a central point- that technology allows "to make a living corpse, from that biological necromancy exists." In addition, the name of corpses that are affected by the activities of necromancy are "undead." ‘Necromancy’ and ‘undead’ might give an occult impression, but necromancy of this world is the product of science and technology. Necromancy is a technology that was established before human civilization collapsed. It is also the largest and longest lasting heritage that was left behind by human life.
Necromancy is supported by nanotechnology. This technology directly allows the concept of a personality download. First, we will describe the development of the story’s nanotechnology.
In the middle of the 21st century, explorers discovered a new species of slime mold with seemingly intelligent, rapid movement. Thereby nanomachines stemming from this mold’s ‘intelligence’ were realized. Most of the body of the undead created by necromancy is configured by slime mold-nanomachines. Slime mold-nanomachines generate a small force and the weak current individually. Countless amounts of these nanomachines are able to move the body of an undead. In addition, this slime mold has a property of forming a network of complex relationships within itself called a "slime mold community". By artificially forming a slime mold community, it is possible to build highly advanced computers and similar devices.
The slime mold community works as both a single entity and a collective intelligence. This community is able to function as a modular brain. However, due to the complex nature of the slime mold, the mold can only function as a brain and nervous system without regard to the rest of the body. The zombie cliché of destroying the brain does not work in this universe. Each cell of the body contains the slime mold, and as such destroying parts of the body will not destroy the entire organism; the organism retains its functions albeit at reduced speed and power. If the slime mold community is unified or foreign tissue is integrated, the entire organism can be easily reconstructed; this is the alleged ‘undead’ of the Nechronica universe.
Another pillar of Necromancy is personality downloading technology, perfected in the 22nd century. As its name suggests, this is the means and processes to copy and transfer one’s personality into another vessel (such as a machine or clone). Artificial intelligence augments this downloaded personality and as such the human ego is able to change in situ. The basis of this technology is what Japanese scientists termed the ‘Ego Dimension Theory’. A clause within the theory states "the human ‘Ego’ is in contact with an ‘ego dimension’, the personality is the connection between the brain and this dimension”. The theory is best explained through an analog record. The brain is the disk, where information is stored and cataloged, but on its own cannot do anything. When the brain comes into contact with the ego dimension, the brain and ego dimension communicate through a link, the record needle.
The sound that plays from the record is the human ego, or personality. Instead of being interpreted as a different world, it is possible to enter and exit the ego dimension through unconsciousness- humanity succeeded in reproducing contact with the ego dimension before civilization collapsed, thereby paving the way for personality downloading technology. A slime mold computer is able to hold the vast amounts of data the human ego encompasses as well as replicate the ego dimension link. By using the slime mold computer as well as personality downloading technology, the human mind is able to function without a brain; instead, residing in the slime mold itself.
Necromancer and Dolls
A "Necromancer" is a generic term for a user of the corpse manipulation techniques known as necromancy described above. In general, anybody, whether it be human, Doll, supercomputer or dissimilar that uses necromantic technology is therein called a ‘Necromancer’. Necromancy is advanced technology, but it is also available to anyone as long as knowledge the procedure is present. However or fortunately, due to the collapsed present world not having a basic information dissemination system, the number of Necromancers is small.
The Necromancer is a presence that can be called the king of this ruined world, but the term is not accurate if there is more than one necromancer in a given area. For a fixed location that can be called their own territory, where they are holed up intent on creating an eternal paradise to make his or her own; undead populate that territory.
However, eternity is terribly boring. With Necromantic technology, subjects can be made- and with these subjects, the Necromancer can act out dramatic situations. Thus the subject can be called a "Doll". The personality of a Doll is preprogrammed by the Necromancer. Many Necromancers enjoy having their Dolls be girls, and by extension grant them the personality of a young girl. Although there is no technical reason to, it would not be entirely different than the Dolls that exist in reality.
A Doll can be considered completely human in their behavior. This is not the case with their counterpart, ‘Savants’. Whereas a Doll may have a signifying trait, such as kindness or honesty, a Savant is either a corruption or coarse enhancement of that trait. It should be mentioned that Savants are also deliberately made by Necromancers, as well as another source- abandoned Dolls. An abandoned Doll can either fall into madness and become a Savant, or be actually ‘free’- if they are not picked up by the next Necromancer.
For the Necromancer, it is entirely possible to design the ego and intellect of the undead based on personal preference, and is embedded with a set of memories, behaviors and habits that closely resemble a living human being, regardless of their preference for the Doll. This is the methodology for giving the personal identity of the human Doll. However, not all memories are suited to their new Doll vessels. A Doll can be made to suffer by remembering that it was once a grown man- the loss of personal identity, old and new, breaks minds equally. The reason for storing these memories in Dolls is both a depraved hobby of the Necromancers, and also their underlying function. Before and after the war, people wanted to store their memories in computers; the only computer capable of simulating the human and personal ego is the Slime Mold computer; the Doll is a walking information node of a larger Slime Mold computer system.
Therefore, it is common that these memory tanks have scrambled, corrupted memories, and therefore have lost the sense of self-identity. Self-identity, when built up by a Doll on their own, can come crashing down when a specific, personal memory is vividly seen; the image that they built of themselves is lost to the tides of identity confusion and the like. This is how Dolls can become Savants. More often than not, these Dolls wake up in the middle of a barren wasteland with horrors trying to eliminate them- Removing memories of past comforts makes the Doll become quickly accustomed to the environment.
What a Necromancer does with their Dolls is up to their personal preference. However, much of their enjoyment behind making Dolls is the gradual discovery of personal memories that bolster and destroy their ‘character’.
Dolls are as much of an enigma to the Necromancer as they are themselves. In the baseline, their motivating goal is to collect their Memories. However, if that is their only motivating goal, why would they do anything else? They are humans as much as they are robots made of flesh.
Most Dolls scatter across the wasteland, never to find the memory dearest to them. Some form townships and colonies, and some nomadic tribes. But as this is Nechronica, a long sequel to a pathetic ending, it is up to the players to complete their patchwork memories.
State of the World
History of the Collapse
In the mid-21st century, nanomachines are realized by the slime mold described above. Engineering, medical science and biology as a whole is changed forever. However, limited access to basic needs such as water in developing countries lead to wars between poorer countries, the tinderbox dried by the dwindling fossil fuels in the Earth.
The conflict continues well into the 22nd century. All hell breaks loose when a limited nuclear war is started between South American countries based on the availability of oil. Although it is not the cause of the great apocalyptic ending, it certainly starts the ball rolling. The world, having never seen devastation on this scale since the end of the Second World War, begin a worldwide movement to eliminate nuclear weapons.
2130— The first incidents of humans being attacked by the undead begin. Although the creator of these undead is still a mystery, they operate like wild animals, free from the organized influence of a Necromancer. The people of the world, now that the cat is out of the bag, declare the end of the world is nigh; they are more right than the common bystander thinks.
A destructive cult, out to set the world on fire, appears out of the mist. They successfully initiate nuclear terrorism by detonating nuclear weapons in major cities. Due to the rising tensions between countries, it is an all-out declaration of war; another, much larger nuclear exchange starts. Its large-scale damage is like nothing the world had seen before, the global environment is subjected a large blow. Nevertheless, it was not to the extent that mankind will perish.
By 2140, mankind finally agrees to ban the use of nuclear weapons, the ownership of nuclear weapons, and the construction of nuclear weapons. However, with the swath of fallout from the previous nuclear war is any indication, the conflict over the remaining clean resources had been steadily intensifying. The military leaders turn to different methods of achieving superweapon power status, and in 2141, the North American superpowers and Asian superpowers turn to the use of undead armies. This is the moment when Necromancy became widespread as a tool. Necromancy was attractive to all parties because it was very inexpensive, compared to the maintenance and upkeep of nuclear weapons, living armies, and vehicles. Because the slime mold can be active with only slight nutrition, it cost less to feed, maintain and use an army. Of course, you do not also use fuel and oil for tanks and fighters. Although the undead body is vulnerable to wear, a steady stream of biological material quickly mitigates the problem. And, in a world where there are 20 billion people inhabiting Earth, in a time of war the ‘biological material’ is plentiful.
The war doctrine quickly reverted to trench warfare, as both sides would fight a war of attrition, won by power, numbers and resources. The re-use of bodies was considered to be ethical, but the opposite was greater with the use of propaganda. "Using the corpses of your families, the powers wage a war at the expense of the living.” Other countries, eager to develop this necromancy technology, produce a wide variety of horrific military undead units. In addition, with the advent and usage of necromancy, research into biological weapons designed to combat and augment the undead re-started.
It can be said that the greatest loss mankind had faced so far was the loss of military morals, thanks to Necromancy. If the masses say that it is alright for a corpse to move and fight, it was only a matter of time until more heinous inventions were brought to light. One such method is ‘slime mold personality downloading’, which is a form of brain scanning which is stored in the miraculous slime mold’s data matrices. The idea of personality downloading, and then uploading into an undead body, gives rise to the first notion of ‘artificial immortality’.
Unsurprisingly, low-scale conflict sprung once again. As long as it was anything but a nuclear weapon, it was fielded in combat. Even the most austere of weapon ideas and technologies were tested in the field. Earthshakers, devices that destabilize the continental shelf, were used in East Asia. Insect weapons, biological weapons, viruses were used heavily in Eastern Europe and its surrounding areas. Unofficially, the nuclear weapons ban had failed. Too late, it was realized that nuclear weapons provide the deterrence so these horrific weapons would not be used.
The year turns to 2155, and finally 130 nuclear weapons had been exploded in Europe. But while it wasn’t clear who had pressed the button, European countries had deigned all their remaining resources to the war effort, and left the kill switch on. The Final World War begins, a war of the dead versus the living. The anarchy under the nuclear winter does not affect the undead soldiers that march. Undead soldiers indiscriminately attack human beings, wiping out 98% of humanity. Mankind is critically endangered.
Nuclear winter is finished by 2182, and there are a few humans living in fallout shelters. But the world aboveground was far from being silent and dead. The Necromancers that had survived the nuclear holocaust and harsh winter now begins a fight against each other, for territory and similar, primal wants. Necromancers also must contend with the abandoned biological weapons, designed to eat the undead. Humans without Necromancy technologies are essentially dead. This era considers that if it is ‘active’, then it must be a Necromancer. And if even a Necromancer had hoarded every bit of slime mold for her central computer, much of human culture, history and literature are invariably lost.
Turn of the century, 2200. Necromancers have given up fighting. Nothing is living. They are too tired even to fight for hegemony, instead opting to retreat into their own domiciles, separated by hundreds of miles of devastation. No one tries anything, nothing new is made. There is no new history, nothing to add to the thread of time. This world is a sequel to the bitter end of the last. It is the play stage of ‘Nechronica’.
The world of Nechronica is a sea of contamination, land of fallout, and sky of deadly particulates. The sky is almost always covered by dark yellowish clouds, and the sun rarely shines through. The sea is pale, shiny with the film of oil and contamination on it. Countless amounts of flotsam and jetsam are washed ashore. The climate is always unstable due to weather weapons deployed during the Final War, some still active to bring sudden rainstorms. Rain that falls from the sky is black, as is the greenish fog that blankets cities and battlefields. Ruins of human civilization are nearly everywhere, but wilderness areas where long-dead forests still stand.
This world is not strictly a world of death. Quickly evolved descendants of biological weapons grow in forests, slowly reclaiming the world once dominated by humans. In particular, mutated plants and insects are common. Because they have evolved their own after the final war, it had become a different species than the biological weapons that mankind had created. That it has undergone various changes beyond appearance, they had retained their fertility even through the lab-induced infertility created long ago- ‘nature finds a way’. More often than not, these biological weapons are much more unpredictable and harder to kill than an undead by the characters in this story. It can be said that the theory of biological weapons developed to fight the undead had been proven, quite ironically.
However, the protagonists of this world are undead, through and through. Undead can be broadly divided into the following four types.
- Legion: The rank and file undead of the Necromancer’s forces; however, it is not uncommon to see them independent of their long-dead Necromancers. Built with a minimum of slime mold, they always operate in packs- larger numbers means more processing power, and by extension more processing power means better horde tactics. ‘Horde tactics’ are used to simply eliminate an enemy; if they are controlled by a Necromancer, they carry back the parts to the ‘nest’ for repurposement. If they are independent, they simply kill anything in their way and leave the body, like hunting for sport. A cruel and embittered existence, larger hordes of Legion have been known to develop hive minds, their intelligence sometimes on par with that of Dolls.
- Horror: The Horror is the next step in evolution of Legion. Whereas Legion are completely expendable, Horrors are expensive in resources as well as mold, and are brutish and efficient when it comes to killing. With a minimum of personality and a maximum of combat power, they are the strongarms of the ended World; a Doll would have a difficult fight with one of these.
- Savant: Technically the next step up from a Horror as well as the Doll’s alter ego in more ways than one, the Savant is a corrupted personality with its mind bent on one thing; killing its doppelganger, or the True Doll. Also unlike Dolls, Savants are under complete control of the Necromancer; all the Necromancer has to do is put in a personality value, crank it up to eleven, and point it at the nearest Doll party. Savants will unquestioningly obey the order of a Necromancer.
- Doll: As explained before, the Doll is the portmanteau of a stable personality and a collection of Memories, many of which are not the original body’s. All *strong* Necromancers possess the capability to make Dolls, but require special materials such as the Think Tank (a data drive full of human memories) as well as large amounts of mold. Dolls think and speak for themselves, and as a result a band of Dolls can turn on their own Necromancer and potentially defeat it (but nobody has done it… yet.) It is also possible for two groups of Dolls from opposing Necromancers can become friends. In this world of the autonomous undead, Dolls are the true wild card.
- Necromancer: The Necromancer cannot be easily fabricated, and as such there are a steadily dwindling amount of Necromancers on the planet. Each Necromancer is a combination of Mold, pure energy and a special chip called a Hex. The Hex is what focuses the dead-raising powers of the Mold, and as such powerful Necromancers can have hundreds of Hexes in their bodies. Necromancers are fickle beings, as childish as they are serious, and are notoriously unpredictable- as much as the Dolls they create.
As said before, sometimes the undead had gone beyond the control of their Necromancer. Discarded Horrors and Savants, thrown away to make room for processing power, these ungoverned undead are sometimes encountered by the characters.
For the rulers of this undead world, the Necromancers are holed up in their strongholds. Their vigilance is strong, not needing to know any more about the outside world than is considered necessary. Necromancers had adopted Cartesian logic; where there is a blockage of information, where there is no input or in some cases, output, the only thing that exists is oneself, the Necromancer. The days that followed immediately after the war have closely matched the current time. No Necromancer has enough energy to wage war as they had during the End. Nonetheless, they had come to an understanding. If a Necromancer becomes aware of another Necromancer close by, they pretend not to see each other, and go their separate ways. This mutual non-interference is what had kept the world stable past the many years of inactivity. It doesn’t matter if the two necromancers share similar ideals and power, invariably they would rather not be close to each other.
It should be noted that it is still unknown that humans still exist when the story begins, and is completely up to the Necromancer to decide if they exist *biologically*. Outside of biological existence, it should be relatively easy to come across a human personality; whereas Legion and Horrors are expendable, Savants and Dolls are precious to Necromancers and as such many of them still exist.