God created this world. Now, he’s finished with it.
I’m not entirely sure what medium best fits this story, but the idea started live as a story driven cRPG, so I’ll explain it like that first.
The story begins in the holy city of Kalstar, rumored to the oldest city in the world, and home to the God’s Grand Temple. In the final chapter of God’s bible, He states that the world will end precisely 1000 years after it started. Unfortunately, do to timekeeping irregularities, the year 1000 past almost 200 years ago, so when the end of the world comes, it was unforeseen. Mass pilgrimages don’t happen for no reason, but secular authorities are becoming unnerved by the number of pilgrims arriving at the Grand Temple, and the total lack of any leaving. The Grand Temple can’t possibly be feeding and housing that many migrants. Additionally, the timing of the pilgrims is very suspicious. The pilgrimage wasn’t planned ahead of time, but pilgrims are arriving long before word could have reached them to start their journey. The player characters are hired to investigate.
The players discover a massive tear in reality. Although the Grand Temple used to be filled with rooms, offices, theaters, etc. most of that has been consumed by the massive semi-circular tear. There is no sign of the pilgrims, and the player characters soon see why, as a new group is guided by a skeleton crew of priests to the tear, where they willingly throw themselves in. As the PCs watch, the tear gets a little larger, encroaching on the walls of the temple. It’s not clear how much longer the massive domed roof will hold.
They return to their employers, who have captured and are questioning a street preach without ties to the main church. He explains that the end of the world has come, and God has informed his faithful simultaneously that they should travel to Kalstar, where the tear will start, to be among the first to rejoin him. He also makes it clear that the tear will eventually consume the entire world, killing everyone one and everything, and that only the faithful would continue to live in God’s presence. Finally, that it is no longer possible to gain faith. Faith is quantifiable, gained at birth and through devotion and acts, but no more faith is being given out. You’re either in and you know it, or you’re out of luck.
At this point, the tear begins to expand in earnest, taking its first inadvertent victims and collapsing the Grand Temple. The end of the world wasn’t widely believed enough to preclude a panicked rush to get out of the city as the tear begins to consume it.
From there the story features several unordered beats, including attempts by arcanists to slow the tear (possible) or undo its effects (not possible). Also, managing the massive migrant wave attempting to escape the tear. Managing communications as the tear destroys major overland routes. Trying to save important or powerful artifacts from being consumed, either to help the fight against the tear, or to maintain order and orderly migration. The tear moves faster through low lands than mountains, in some cases outrunning exhausted migrant caravans, instantly consuming them. Opportunistic bandits assaults and steal, and hopelessness spreads as people with nothing to lose lash out. Dangerous wildlife is disrupted, causing trouble caravans and established settlements.
The campaign culminates in a final stand at Yorlon, a secular city as far away from Kalstar as possible both geographically and ideologically. The void reaches the bastion city, and it is clear the city’s shield generators won’t hold for long. Looking out, the last inhabitants of the world see nothing at all, just the blackness of the void. Either taken by the chaos or the tear itself, the population is decimated, with mere thousands of souls left. In a last ditch effort, the authorities hired the player characters to gather arcane machinery and ingredients from around the world, racing against the tear in many cases. These pieces are assembled into a powerful portal generator capable of punching through this world and into another. The inhabitants prepare for the final evacuation through the untested portal, gathering what equipment they can to help them survive the new world. The game ends as the shield generators finally break, and the populace, lead by the player characters, charges headlong into the portal, leaving their home plane of existence forever, and diving into the unknown multiverse. We know they make it through, but not what comes next.
The player characters are martial warriors: melee fighters, slippery rogues, and trained archers. They are also arcanists, dedicated to studying the world from a secular perspective, and harnessing that power in a variety of ways. They are also cultists, individuals who made deals with outside forces that, while not the equals of God, can still make such arrangements worthwhile. All divine souls are already spoken for, and although they were capable of miracles before the end of the world, they’re in no position or interest to help now.
Although I initially envisioned this as a single player computer RPG, it easily be adapted to a tabletop campaign for Dungeons & Dragons, or similar. Currently, however, the real value of this idea is in the worldbuilding, particularly of the unique scenario. Mediums which present this situation to players to react to are, I think, are ideal, because I haven’t thought a huge amount about how individual characters might react. So, writing a single linear story with a small cast of central characters for the scenario is probably not the best approach. The real value comes from players reacting in their own way to the world and scenario, rather than watching a set of preset characters experience it. So, I don’t think this would work very well as a novel or novella, although that would give the opportunity to explore the situation from a much larger number of perspectives.
Many disaster movies feature a large number of characters who start in disparate locations and situations to explore the various ramifications of the disaster. World War Z takes this to the extreme, and in its many chapters, it rarely repeats characters.