Monday, June 7, 2010

The Red Menace

No outside force, not even magical threats, seem to strike as much fear into the populace of the City and its world, as the so-called Reds. These agents of a technologically advanced underground civilization seek to transform the world in their society's image, wiping out free thought and individuality in the name of their perverse vision of equality and unity. Despite their aims, their tireless machinations often dupe innocent citizens and draw them to their cause.

The origins of the Red menace lie with an Old Worlder named Carisdall, who returned after being presumed lost at sea with a strange story of a hidden island civilization where private property was forbidden, and everyone worked for the good of the society as a whole. The rest of his life, Carisdall tried in vain to relocate his utopia. He also wrote a manifesto describing the islander's philosophy which he termed "Communalitarianism." His work found adherents, and spawned small-scale experimental communities and political parties in several countries.

The real danger came when Carisdall's philosophy began to infect the subterranean remnants of an underground civilization. Sometime during the upheaval of the Great War, the degenerate remnant of an advanced, subterranean civilization experienced a violent revolution based on these ideas. The idle, and intellectually diminished ruling class was slaughtered by the more bestial workers. The former workers sought to realize Carisdall's utopia, but in a "scientifically perfected" manner that would have likely horrified the man who inspired them. The workers began to alter themselves into different functional groups to better serve society. Then, using the thought-broadcasting machines of their ancestors, they began to subtlely influence the minds of unsuspecting surface-dwellers.


The Reds (so-called because of their fondness for symbols colored a deep red) seek to transform the whole world into their sterile ordered society with the egalitarianism of the ant hill. To this end, they subvert humans to their cause--either through bribery, deception, or mind-control. There are those evil humans join the Reds, cynically hoping to enrich themselves as long possible before inevitable Red transformation. Some humans under the influence of Red thought-machines become more carnal and depraved, before finally entering into emotionally vacant, automaton-like state that is the Red's end goal.

Symbol: A red clenched fist or a red five-pointed star.

Special Benefits: Reds see magic as the product of decadent superstition, and disbelieve it entirely. This disbelief provides them with a degree of magical resistance, as it does their human stooges in more advanced stages of Red mental conversion (+2 to saving throws vs. spells or direct magical effects). Human in earlier stages are sometimes given technological devices by their masters that duplicate the same effect. Agents might also be loaned other technological advanced items as well, though these will always be parcelled out in a limited, efficient fashion.

6 comments:

Daddy Grognard said...

The more I read of the City and goings-on therein, the more I am reminded of Jeff VanderMeer's Ambergris books? Have they had an influence on your setting at all?

James said...

Great stuff!

NetherWerks said...

I'm still laughing as I type this--Great Stuff! I love how you are blending your chosen influences into a wonderful new mixture all your own. The dero from the Shaver Mystery are too much fun not to use--even Gygax grafted them into AD&D. I also love how you blending the Reds into the lost island utopia and mind control mechanisms...absolutely perfect. Please tell me that you are writing some fiction inspired by this setting. It's a lot of fun. I'd love to read it.

Trey said...

@James - thanks!

@NetherWerks - I'm glad it amuses someone to read it as much as it does me to write it. When you get the right blend of disparate influences in the ight proportions, it tends to make you smile. I've thought about some fiction in this setting--my friend Jim suggested it from the beginning--but I haven't quite got the story in mind yet. I'll keep thinking on it. I probably will do some "flavor fiction" vignettes to accompany so posts in the future. It always is good to know there's a potential audience. ;)

And to anyone who likes all the footnotes: "Carisdall" isn't my invention, but the hero of a 1940 French utopian novel Voyage en Icarie by Etienne Cabet.

Risus Monkey said...

I'm really, really loving The City setting. What a wonderful weird fantasy take on the Red Menace of our own world!

Trey said...

Thanks, Risus! Glad you like it.