Lore question: the cataclysm as it was perceived by common folk


#1

I’m writing a bunch of npc dialogue, and I am increasingly wondering what exactly the cataclysm was like for citizens on the ground. I’m sure mostly they were aware of bomb attacks, but did they see hellish beasts walking around as acid rain and fire fell from the sky? Did they hole up in homes and Evac shelters as zombies rose to walk the streets? Or was it more subtle than that in some areas? How did people initially start dying in order to rise up as zombies?


#2

This is Lore Guide from the old forums:


be aware - massive spoilers.
There might be newer documents.
Overall you would have to go with a bit of fantasy as very little would be known to actual people and different information would be known and circulating among different people. Interpretation can differ from person to person, like someone with a particular political disposition could be thinking that source of everything is a sabotage by another government, or terrorist organization.
Those which survive would be more focused on survival than reasons for things happening.


#3

Some of that is actually already happening, like “Zombies” are called Zombies in game as they look like that but they aren’t according to lore.


#4

How do you access the old forum? All those topics just redirect me to the front page of this forum


#5

Old forums! Hah. There’s still something left :))


#6

Click on “Official Lore(spoiler)” blue text - it’s a link to discourse post here.


#7

Ah gotcha. That’s a helpful lore repository, but it doesn’t answer my basic question, which is much lower level… What did normal people see during the cataclysm itself? They’re totally unaware of the polydimensional politics of all of it.


#8

For the common folk the cataclysm was like being [INSERT CAUSE OF DEATH HERE].

Source: They are all dead now.


#9

Yes, true enough, but I still would like to know what wound up killing most of the first few waves that then started turning into zombies, so that the few who didn’t die can describe it to the players.


#10

if you’d like to stay ‘lore-friendly’ consider basing their experiences on what’s already been written about in the various newspapers - as it is all supposedly common knowledge
Unless you’re planning on making a pre-war general / knowitall type npc, no single one should make a claim to know why it happened, only share any more than their own experiences. If you’re going to write the assumptions they make, First consider the npc’s background- normie/religious/conspiracy theorist/etc.

If you examine the snippets that appear on lab terminals, you would know that people don’t turn into zombies upon being killed by or infected by a zombie. A certain chemical had to be present in the body prior to exposure.
But there’s no way anyone who hasn’t had access or known about what those labs were would know or suspect that.

providing too much information is handholding, please lore responsibly.


#11

I realize everything you just wrote, that’s why I’m explicitly looking for a lower concept, man-on-the-ground perspective of the cataclysm, and asking what led to the initial deaths of people since I’m well aware it wasn’t colonization by the blob, and why I just said that I don’t need a lot of polydimensional politics since none of the survivors know that stuff. I don’t know how else to ask this question without people continuing to tell me the same stuff. Newspapers are the closest we have but are still very very vague and tell me nothing about the actual event. This is the sort of thing survivors would talk about, so I need a clear idea what they actually saw so that I can write it.


#12

Well for hunters they would have seen the giant bugs and likely died to them.
For city folk they probably just died of mundane suffer but were “infected” and so rose as zombies while the older survivors (those who didn’t die of mundane things) might have seen the eldritich horror spawn.
Mutated people would like know more about the mechanics behind the infection such as what causes it or might know about the messed up stuff in the labs they could have either been an explorer of the labs a test subject or a scientist.
The soldiers might know when it started and where a little more they also would have seen the fungus’s horrors first hand as well as the unique zombies and the triffids grey would know a little about maybe(knowledge there depends on rank and location when everything fell apart(like a general would know EVERYTHING but a grunt would likely only know of the mushrooms and zombies from witnessing it first hand likewise with the rest).
Lab techs would know a bit about the zombies as well as the horrors of the New England wasteland while the scientists would know more and the overseer even more.
Miners might know of the horrors that those contain.
Some soldiers might know what the hazardous waste sarcophagi contain as well as some other buildings.
In general most people know very little and really only know what they saw only a handful of people knew everything that was happening.


#13

That’s closer to what I’m looking for, but still doesn’t cover the meat of the question, which is what Joe and Jane Office Clerk who Survived actually experienced. I’m starting to think I’ll have to ask Kevin, since I think the answer is that we just don’t know yet.


#14

At what time are we talking? As it starts? A month later? I mean they might have seen a coworker (precataclysm) come in with the flu and had it go around the office. As you near it they might have seen a coworker have a heart attack and die only to get up minutes later and try to kill Jeffery the EMT on scene. A month after and Jane’s probably dead and Jeff too likely; but if they did survive they would have watched as friends and loved ones people in their group start to fall one by one and get back up to haunt them they may have tried the old troupe of shooting them in the head only to find out later it did nothing to them.
It really depends on location and time if you could give me a time I can tell you what they likely experienced.


#15

Well, I’m writing dozens of NPCs, so the specific stories are pretty broad. Most NPCs have to be written under the possibility that the player meets them on day 1 of the game, so post-cataclysm day 5 (I have a subset of npc stories for later game, but that’s another project). But my question is slightly broader than that, it’s what in general people saw going on during the cataclysm. This is an event where there were bombings along the east coast, dimensional storms, and rifts opening, but it’s unclear how widespread that sort of thing was. People got evacuated, but who told them to evacuate? What was going on in the cities at that time? Zombification was 50% within days, but it’s unclear what was killing people to cause them to rise up so quickly. The early early stuff (Joe has a heart attack and then comes back) would be day 0 kind of thing, and is easy to put together. It’s the transition from that to near-total extinction in under a week that is difficult to visualize from an NPC perspective.


#16

Alot of it started is and is fairly localized mainly the portals and warpy things are localized to a few places the zombies are everywhere and the triffids and Mycus are in certain areas but they are easily found. Day one the average guy is probably gonna see zombies attacking people but to them it might seem like people hurting people like a civil war they also would have seen people rise back up and they may have seen the giant bugs(there were rumors precataclysm) and some would have seen the monsters as well owing to the fact there were rumors and that the monsters did most of the killing leading to this. Really depends on who you ask and when. Day one will always tell you something about them getting back up and that you need to break them fully however they might have seen the monsters killing there friends like the Jabberwok and the Migo (two most commonly known/seen). So you’ll have to make the story up a bit look at the lore and make the decision what they saw hermits wouldn’t see much office people might see more as with evacuee.


#17

You’re partially right that this just hasn’t been explored in any great depth, though as you can see people have picked at the edges of it.
I think this is a pretty good resource for this kind of thing:
https://discourse.cataclysmdda.org/t/draft-of-the-cataclysm-lore-writeup/10345/3

SOME OF THE ABOVE IS WRONG. In particular a lot of stuff about societal change (super lax gun laws, drug use, widespread CBM use) was added to rationalize game elements, and is very subject to being reversed as some of those game elements are reigned in to be closer to modern day reality. For example the current direction for guns is to model present-day gun demographics, this provides a nearly inexhaustible supply of home defence and hunting firearms for easy scavenging, as well as another near-inexhaustible supply of military ordinance that can be scavenged with greater difficulty. No special plot points are needed to explain it.

As for what killed most of the first wave (a quarter of the population or so), it’s a mix of:

Extra dimensional horrors that evaporated after the first surge.
Armed forces targeting above extra dimensional horrors.
Rioting and panic.
Transient environmental conditions like poisonous gasses and acid rain.
Reprogrammed homicidal security robots.


#18

Thanks Kevin, and eastwardrope. I think that gives me enough to go on. I’m still a little fuzzy on how evacuation happened for people, but it seems like I’m basically okay to just write that myself as the characters describe it to the player.

I don’t have access to the link unfortunately.


#19

The best info the game itself gives is you managed somehow to escape by yourself. That is you managed to escape possibly via the PFM Principal (Pure Fucking Magic)


#20

There are also dozens of survivors that got out by the same principle, and what I really aim is to explore what that might look like. By getting their stories we can start to imagine what player stories might look like better… I find it hard to start RPing when I don’t really know how I got there.

If you’re curious, this is the sort of thing I have been sketching up. It is phase one of a big project.

-What happened to you after the bombs dropped?
-“Same as most people who didn’t get killed straight up during the riots. I went to one of those stupid fucking evacuation death traps. I actually lived there for a while with three others. One guy who I guess had watched a lot of movies kinda ran the show, because he seemed to really know what was going on. Spoiler alert: he fucking didn’t.”

PERSUADE: MEDIUM: What happened to your original crew?
FAIL: “What do you think happened? You see them around anywhere?”

SUCCEED: “Things went south when our fearless leader decided we had to put down one of the other survivors that had been bitten. Her husband felt a bit strongly against that, and I wasn’t too keen on it either; by this point, he’d already been wrong about a lot. Well, he took matters into his own hands and killed her. Then her husband took matters into his hands, and killed the idiot. And then she got back up and I killed her again, and pulped our former leader. Unfortunately she’d given her husband a hell of a nip during the struggle, when he couldn’t get his shit together enough to fight back. Not that I fucking blame him. We made it out of there together, but it was too much for him, he clearly wasn’t in it anymore… The bite got infected, but it was another zombie that finally killed him. And then I was alone.”