What is this place?

Incunabuli is a Gothic-fairytale world told through prose.

It's fiction project and a pen-and-paper adventure game setting. The world is told through short fiction, dictionary entries, and encyclopedic lore passages. There is no intended order in which to read any of it.

The reader is encouraged to make of it what they may, to use and enjoy it however best suits them. For me, the author, it is an ongoing repository of concepts for the adventure game I run for my friends. We have an Incunabuli adventure game system that is continually tweaked and developed, since we play it every week. I invite you to enjoy it, too, if only to cannibalize it for ideas.

We call the Incunabuli setting the Coast. It is Gothic in the literary sense, and it is conceptually entailed in speculative science fiction moreso than in traditional fantasy.

What is the Coast?

The Coast is a tiny world, damaged and frayed by ancient hubris.

How it became frayed requires an explainer:

Imagine taking a paper map of, say, Eurasia, and placing it over several other maps. These maps are parallel to the original, extant in separate realities. Different worlds. Adjacent, yet inaccessible. Now, imagine lighting the edges of the top map on fire.

It ignites. It begins to shrink and curl, eventually reduced to only a single coastline (say, Norway to Spain) before extinguishing. The maps underneath catch fire in different spots, opening holes into the slightly different maps beneath them. Now, if we extinguish this mess and view it from above, we still see Eurasia. However, it's a patched-together, holey continent made of different realities, all suddenly accessible to each other via their charred edges. This is what happened to the Coast. A long time ago, something happened which burned the world, once called Noren, down to just a single Coastline. Now, it lies between worlds, awash with the influence of adjacent others. Between the worlds of monsters, of wicked souls, of endless snow, of a thousand trackless shores.

Of course, few Coastal people know this. They just know the forest is full of älves and spriggans, and their cobbler is small and covered in hair.
The Coast is an anthropocentric setting filled with horror overtones. It's defined by humanity's survival against the encroaching unnatural.

Technology and "Magic"

The Coast's technology is on par with the late 19th century, with a few alterations and advances. Due to metallurgical peculiarities, gunpowder is rare. As are fossil fuels. Instead, the people of the Coast rely on a combination of advanced mainsprings and whale oil. The streets of cities are lit by immense networks of oil-fueled streetlamps. War is made with a combination of melee arms and powerful torsion-based gunsprings, though cutters, the principle adventurers of the setting, are apt to use more archaic and varied means.

On the Coast, a magician might well be called a scientist, as the power of so-called "magic" is largely a biomechanical product. Ancient tomes of lore, the leavings of towering empires of bygone sorcery, teach magicians to swap the bones of their hands for magic knucklebones, and to command great energies using the dire potency of mechanism and chemistry.

You know the art of Dishonored? It's a good reference point.

Posting Schedule

Incunabuli updates as its author creates new content; deeply inconsistently. The Twitter page @Incunabuli updates with microfiction and updates. The subreddit r/Incunabuli is a fine place to get updates, too. If you like, it, subscribe by email, too.



* What even caused this fraying is unclear. Most people don't even know about it, and it'd be a pretty big spoiler to put a definite version here, anyway. It's encouraged you make it up.