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Ghibli-esque Mothership setting Cloud Empress gets an expansion inspired by Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Land of the Living and Land of the Dead explore two more grand slices of Cloud Empress’ unique post-apocalyptic world.

Cloud Empress' The Land of the Dead cover
Image credit: watt

Mothership RPG setting Cloud Empress plans to release two new supplements that will expand its Ghibli-inspired world of eco-horror, perseverance and capacity for tenderness in the post-apocalypse.

The pair of expansions, titled Land of the Living and Land of the Dead, will hit Backerkit on April 2nd and be limited to an initial print run of 2,200 copies, according to a press release from creator and lead designer watt. Cloud Empress originally crowdfunded through Kickstarter in 2022, promising players a science-fantasy setting that reshaped the horror RPG Mothership into an experience with heavy shades of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea and Hiromu Arakawa’s Fullmetal Alchemist.

Watt said that this newest expansion, which explores both an ever-shifting landscape tethered to colossal spore towers and the ash-laden ruins of a land haunted by the death - and resulting crash - of a cloud city, will pull directly on The Legend Of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom in its depiction and roleplay mechanics. Looking at the preview art and descriptions, it’s easy to see The Elder Scrolls’ Morrowind in the massive insects, ashy geography and exploration of indigenous communities.

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Players who tackle The Land of the Living’s 50-page hexcrawl will encounter communities that traverse the land using “movement-based spores” that mirror Tears of the Kingdom’s new physics. They will contend with, befriend and parley with the various interconnected indigenous groups who call this land home and have adapted better than most to massive ecological change. Creator watt hired Em Matson, a two-spirit Sault Ste Marie Ojibwe writer who formerly contributed to Coyote and Crow, as co-writer for this project in order to understand and “explore how the midwest’s people and the land evolve together over several millennia.”

In contrast, The Land of the Dead’s similar 50-page hexcrawl will challenge players’ survival skills in the wake of a modern calamity that has shaken the land below the polluted cloud layer. If you’ve played Cloud Empress’ main campaign, this pair of books picks up after the conclusion of Land of Cicadas and will follow some of the mysteries introduced therein, including more about Prince Bug and their broken tower.

Cloud Empress' The Land of the Living and Land of the Dead expansion key art
Image credit: watt

As watt states in the press release, their Hereafter setting strives to recontextualise ‘post-apocalyptic’ settings by showing a world where humans strive for a balance that won’t be easy to achieve. Society must adopt a healthy measure of humility and understand the scope of work involved to survive where “humankind is no longer the world’s master.”

Cloud Empress: The Land of the Living and The Land of the Dead hits Backerkit on April 2nd. Backers will receive a free 8-page adventure, Funeral Fit for an Anti-Saint, that will be exclusive to the crowdfunding campaign. Copies of all campaign books from the original launch will also be available if you’re late to the party but enthralled - as I am - with this gorgeous and tragic world.

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