Foxes are an ancient civilization. They have existed for thousands of years. Though we can think of them as being as old as humanity, they are technologically less advanced and their world does not strictly conform to ours. We may conceive of them as neo-Athenians, with refined senses of culture, art, and philosophy, but limited technology.
Foxes are creatures that live across three realms:
Once upon a time, Foxes stretched across Terra Volpa, a large, geographically diverse terrain roughly the size of Alaska. Terra Volpa was once fully inhabited by different skulks, each with particular cultures, skills, philosophies, and trades.
Here is a map of T-V:
In the northeast of Terra Volpa, is a shadowy territory that most refer to as The Unknowing. It sits on the other side of a vast mountain range that is scarcely traversable – rumor has it that at the bottom of The Unknowing’s gorge lies the entrance to Perdita, the place Foxes are supposed to go when they die.
Throughout history, few foxes have been foolish enough to attempt to cross the range to visit The Unknowing. Among those that have, only a handful have ever returned. Those that do make it back are changed, hollowed, scarcely able to speak. Foxes refer to them as Retrogradi. Often, the Retrogradi become transfixed by empty spaces in the air that may make them shriek with laughter or burst into tears. Many believe that the returners see messages, missives from Perdita, in the empty air.
Ancient tales tell us that there was once a time that foxes visited Alucinora (also known as the Dreaming Realm) each and every night. In sleep, foxes roamed Seven Realms, each with different properties.
No one is certain whether it was ever possible to visit Alucinora every night. Later generations of foxes could only do so via a structured spiritual ceremony that involved an endemic root, Somni. Once consumed, Somni created vivid hallucinations and opened the doors to Alucinora. Foxes completed this ceremony twice a year as they believed rare wisdom and information came from visiting Alucinora.
Today’s civilization of Foxes is a shadow of its former self. Most of the once-revered skulks have died out or disappeared. The few that remain – roughly 1,000 by some estimations – live in a state of amnesia – unaware of what came before them or who they are. Indeed, they do not even know their own names, choosing to refer to one another only by the last thought that entered their minds.
They have no memory of their ancestors and the great feats they accomplished. They have forgotten about Alucinora’s hallucinations, how to brew Somni; indeed, they do not know it even exists. The name Perdita means nothing, though sometimes fear grips foxes without visible cause.
The remaining skulk lives in Shadowoods in the district of Rostrum. To their knowledge, the world is only as large as the copse they inhabit – they do not even know there is sea to the west. When historians write about this current age, they will refer to it as The Long Sleep. Finally, it may be coming to an end.
Though Terra Volpa has traditionally been governed by different skulks, akin to city-states in Renaissance Italy, there have been periods in which unification has been attempted. The last and most prominent attempt was made by a sovereign called Belua the Insane.
Belua was born to a low-class fox family. Early in his life, he was recognized for his exceptional intelligence and binary markings – traditionally a sign of good fortune in foxlore. Some even believed he may have been a Limnus – a fox with the ability to jump between the three realms instantly.
As a young fox, Belua would stand at the Ore estuary and speak of his ambitions to unite foxes under a single banner. Crowds would ring the lagoon to catch a glimpse of him and listen to his words. He soon rose to power and brought all territories west of the Corpus Colossi under his power. For two decades he ruled in relative peace and harmony. He established a royal court with representatives from each of the skulks under his power and groomed his son, Catulus, to be his eventual successor.
In the twenty-first year of Belua’s rule, a terrible blight broke out across the territory. Some believe it arrived from the rough, northern hinterlands of Hamoban while others argued it had come from the Dark Sea, spirited on a black breeze or ferried by some traveler. Crops and livestock were laid low, leaving the civilization starving. Strife swept across the kingdom as foxes fought and stole from one another to stay alive. Belua tried everything to bring food to the kingdom, including sending parties to every corner of the kingdom. An outpost was set up in Oseaan to search for fish. Another group voyaged to the bottom of Mimicgorge in search of the fungi some said grew large as apples along the bottom of the earth. One group even crossed the Colossi, searching for wild boars in Telescope Hills. All returned empty-handed. Soon, every corner of Terra-Volpa seemed to have been searched – save The Unknowing. Though loyal to Belua, no fox was foolish enough to visit the Unknowing. And so, Belua went himself. As an example to his cowardly courtiers, he brought young Catulus with him, scarcely more than a kit. Hummm, the portly squire, joined too.
What we know of Belua’s journey is the result of hearsay and dark rumors. As the story goes, the three made it across the Corpus Colossi that autumn and across the Kapatagan Plains. It was winter by the time they sought to make it across Absentia Pass and into The Unknowing. They had survived on few rations and whatever food they could scavenge. By the time they attempted to cross, they were nothing more than hides, dragging themselves forward foot by foot. Still, they climbed, even as they began to go mad with hunger and thirst which became so bad that Catulus would cry through the night in delirium. Soon, the kit grew sicker and thinner.
What happened next is subject to great debate. Neither father nor son were ever seen again. Some say they fell into one of the fissures, lost forever. That is the story most wished to believe.
But a second tale grew large in the years that followed: In the heart of night, Hummm awoke to shrieking. As he hurried to the sound, he came upon a figure looming large over a body, still alive but screaming in pain.
None know more than that — if we can even say that itself is known. But no fox can bear such a vaporous truth. As years passed and the tale was told and retold, detail was added, and uncertainty sanded down. It became an accepted truth that what Hummm had seen was Belua, standing over the body of young Catulus, the kit’s flesh open to the air. Driven mad by hunger, the king had devored his son. Insane with grief and guilt, he fled to Perdita. Some say he lives there, still.
One day, years after they had departed on their expedition (and long after hope had been lost), Hummm appeared on the outskirts of Ore. It took some time for the locals to recognize their old friend for he could not speak. When the locals asked what happened, the fox could give only a small sound, a hum, which gives him the name he is remembered by.
Eventually, the blight left Terra Volpa and crops began to grow again. But as the land began to bloom and return to life, something in the mind of foxes began to wither. They began to forget things.
Some believed this new disease was a mutation of the blight that attacked the brains of Foxes and caused them to lose sense of themselves, their history, and their surroundings. As time passed, though, citizens started to see it as a wholly unique phenomenon. When they could remember it long enough to name it, they called it The Ellipsis, a gap between thoughts that grew wider and wider. While most considered The Ellipsis to be a disease, not all were certain. Some imprudent, credulous foxes assumed it to be a divinity — a desperate few, hoping to be spared, even began to worship it.
As foxes’ forgetting grew, their numbers dwindled, retreating generation by generation to Rostrum.
This is our story.
Our foxes find themselves in Shadowoods.
They have no idea who they are, how they got there, or what came before them.
They are waking back up into the world, though they have existed before. They know nothing of the land beyond their immediate territory. The world, to their mind, is clouded over.
Our skulk’s mission for Narrative 1 is to remember who we are, and unveil the cause of The Ellipsis.
We must discover new parts of our world, learn about our ancestry, and identify what has caused us to forget. In searching for their ancestors, we should expect to find unfamiliar foxes and secrets.
What lies beyond Shadowoods? Who else is out there?
Now that we have outlined our world, what can we do with it? We encourage you to use this to play games with your fox -- and build out the lore of the Foxverse.
We also hope you’ll join us for our experiments with mini-games.
Foxes, the world is yours. Let’s explore.