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Audio Play / The Cartographer's Handbook

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How to survive to the New Century.

The Cartographer's Handbook is an audio drama created by Alex Shaw and is the first story in The New Century Multiverse, marking the beginning of Phase 1 of the overarching story.

Set in the United Stated and framed as a survival guide, the Handbook details the events that led to the collapse of civilization shortly after the American Civil War due to an outbreak of an infection that turns people into savage creatures dubbed Wendigos. The Handbook goes into detail about what a Cartographer, an agent of the Reunified States of America, needs to know in order to survive in a Wendigo infested world and how to further the government's goal of reclaiming what was once the United States.


The Cartographer's Handbook provides examples of:

  • Apocalyptic Log: Lt. Buckner's account is of being infected with the Wendigo plague and becoming one of them.
  • Bambification: The account of a Wendigo hunting and killing a deer is used as a demonstration of their ferocity.
  • Being Watched: In his account, while clearing out a farm, Lt. Buckner says he sensed a presence before he and his partner discovered a Wendigo lurking on the second floor of the barn.
  • The Blacksmith: Captain Tudor, the inventor of the Clementine, was one before the Wendigo plague destroyed the United States.
  • Blood Lust: The Wendigo are described as gorging on blood after a kill.
  • Blood Splattered Innocent: Maggie Strother's neighbor Helen ends up being soaked in blood after a Wendigo attacks her and her husband, Bill.
  • Bloody Handprint: Helen leaves them around her room after she transforms into a Wendigo.
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  • Cats Are Mean: As part of their overal Animal Motif, Pvt. Sadler compares a Wendigo killing a deer to his family's cat playing with the mice it would catch.
  • Cool Guns:
    • The 1873 model Winchester rifle is mentioned as being standard issue for RSA soldiers while RSA scouts can get ones with telescopic sights.
    • The 1860 Army model of the Colt revolver is, in turn, the standard issue sidearm for RSA soldiers.
  • Daylight Horror: While they seem to prefer the dark, there is nothing stopping Wendigo from attacking people in the day.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Lt. Buckner requests that his unborn son be named Jonathan after his own father.
  • Denied Food as Punishment: The Handbook brought up the POW camps from the Civil War, where the imprisoned soldiers were regularly starved.
  • Direct Line to the Author: Alex Shaw is mentioned near the beginning as the director of a documentary in modern times concerning the events chronicled in the Cartographer's Handbook.
  • Driven to Suicide: Astook, the Native American scout, throws himself off a cliff after it becomes clear he has become infected with the Wendigo plague.
  • Fictional Document: The titular Handbook is an actual document that all Cartographers carry with them.
  • Government in Exile: The RSA functioned as this for awhile before they managed to retake Washington D.C.
  • Historical Domain Character:
    • One of the entries is written by Annie Oakley, who is working as a Cartographer.
  • I Call It "Vera":
    • Captain Tudor names the mace he builds Clementine after his wife.
    • While other soldiers give their maces unique names, Clementine becomes the defacto moniker of the weapon.
    • Maggie Strother refers to her Remington rifle as 'Lafayette.'
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: After being attacked by a Wendigo, Maggie Strother's neighbor partakes in some brandy, which ends up hiding some of the symptoms of the Wendigo plague.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: The 1871 Artillery Sabre is based off the katana. Justified because katanas are designed to be used against lightly or unarmored opponents, much like the Wendigo.
  • Knee-capping: Captain Tudor's strategy for using the Clementine against a Wendigo is to break the creature's knee with the first blow before finishing it with a blow to the head.
  • Lost Lenore: It's implied Captain Tudor names his weapon after his wife because she has died.
  • Mercy Killing: Lt. Buckner's death is described as a "dignified soldier's execution."
  • Mix-and-Match Weapon: Captain Tudor mentions that one enterprising gunsmith gave his Clementine the ability to fire a single pistol shot.
  • Nicknaming the Enemy: The Wendigo have no truly official classification, and are referred to a number of different names derived from various myths and legends. The Cartographer's Handbook merely pushes the use of Wendigo in order to allow ease of communication.
  • No Dead Body Poops: Related and averted, as the details of the transformation into a Wendigo mentions that the victim is likely to void their bowels during the last stage.
  • No Zombie Cannibals: Averted as it is specifically stated that Wendigo are willing to feed on one another as a last resort.
  • "Open!" Says Me: The Wendigo that Maggie Strother encounters starts its attack on her neighbor's house by breaking down their door on its way in.
  • Our Ghouls Are Creepier: Some people refer to the Wendigo as ghouls, which both fits well with their depiction and the similarities between the original ghoul and wendigo legends.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Though not examples themselves and having more similarities to modern zombies, specific comparison is made in the Handbook between the Wendigo condition and the legend of the werewolf.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: One of the main tenants of the Cartographer's Handbook is to spread knowledge of the Wendigo, going out of its way to frame them as victims of a real world malady instead of creatures sprung from myth and legend.
  • Quarantine with Extreme Prejudice: The Handbook relates the events that occur in Jonestown, Ohio when a group of Cartographers execute a man who had been bitten by a Wendigo, despite evidence that he had resisted the disease. The locals do not take this well.
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: It is mentioned that the best way to kill a Wendigo is shooting it in the head or heart, though it is possible to kill them in other ways.
  • Shout-Out:
    • One of the testimonies is about a Cartographer who chases a Wendigo into the woods to finish it off, only to be blindsided by a second, female Wendigo. One could say she was a clever girl.
  • Slasher Smile: Wendigo are described as bearing their teeth in rictus grins before they attack.
  • Spiteful Spit: After she begins to succumb to the Wendigo infection, a doctor is called to examine Bill's wife Helen, who spits in his face during the examination.
  • Staircase Tumble: After changing into a Wendigo, Helen attacks the doctor that had been called to treat her on the stairs. As the two fight, her husband, Bill, attempts to break up the fight, but the three of them end up tumbling down the staircase.
  • The Straight and Arrow Path:
    • A Native American scout, Askook, chooses to try and take out a Wendigo with a bow and arrow because he fears the crack of a gunshot will attract other Wendigo.
    • Other scouts are allowed to carry bows instead of rifles for the same reason.
  • Suicide Is Shameful: Pvt. Sadler hopes that Askook is allowed into Heaven despite the fact he committed suicide.
  • That Was the Last Entry: After Lt. Buckner bids his wife goodbye, the entry is described as descending into illegible scrawl before becoming a black stain where the ink well was overturned onto the paper.
  • Violence Is Disturbing: Pvt. Sadler is clearly disturbed as he describes a Wendigo tearing apart a deer.

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