A bright light attracts others in a city between the remains of ten thousand worlds
You are one of the few beings still alive after the mesocosmic collapse. The entirety of reality as we know it is gone. Only the twisted, surreal wreckage remains. Somehow, your Will has emerged still alive.
Your physical form can be nearly anything that is vaguely human. Here, in this new place, such details are unimportant.
You found, were given, or were forced to have an object of immense power. Through the void it has fallen, gathering with it the energy of other realities. This Artifact grants you special abilities to make your own way in this new existence, and it compels lesser beings to follow your Will. It also acts as a key to the scraps of other places still floating through nothingness.
Not all those who can be are Awoken like you are. Though given new forms, these beings all seek the fiery spark of one who has obtained their own Will. Some lash out, hoping to consume your spark for themselves. Some fear you. But all of them will bow to your being in time.
You find yourself in an impossible, empty city. Its spires grow higher than you can see. Its roads go ever on from where they came in an endless circle. This is Symbol, the last remnant of structure and being. This is your new home, but others speak of endless other worlds to explore.
The Art of Existing
Something about you caused an anomaly – though all the old worlds are now gone, you persist. From the collective debris of ten thousand worlds you are born, a being capable of self awareness, consciousness, and most importantly, Will.
- Perhaps you are New. You did not exist or even know the so-called “worlds” that others speak of. You simply opened your eyes and life began here and now. You possess more natural creativity and are unmoored by biases seen in others, but likewise you do not know the dangers that an older being would recognize.
- Maybe you are Old. Though you hung suspended, torn asunder, floating as if in some infinite dream where there is no body or mind or time. You were plucked from the place you called home. Now you awake to a new existence. You’ve got a firm grasp on who you are as a person, more sharply defined than most reality, but along with this you can be rigid in your point of view.
- Perhaps you simply Are – you have always been and always will be. You cannot think of a time when you did not exist. Though you have not always possessed the form or even the notions you have now, you know that you are older than time itself. All things pass by you with the knowledge that you will be regardless – you can be cold and aloof at times, even supernaturally so.
- Or maybe you are one of the select few who Remained in the last bastion called Symbol, shielded by the awful grace of The Lady Herself. Whether you should be thankful or not is up to you, but you never had to directly experience the absence of all meaning. It has given you a shrewd understanding of things, but a deep fear of losing your grasp on objective experiences.
What truly separates you from others is your unique Will. You possess a drive, a compulsion, that guides your actions and pushes you to act. While all beings that can think and live can be considered sentient, yours is different – stronger, louder. Yours is not one that can be ignored, and it will leave a mark on this new order of worlds. Most cannot tell you are such a being, but those with a similar burning force inside them always can. Some can sense it even if they do not know what it is. Some even seek to devour it.
Physically, you could possess any number of forms. Here in Symbol, even the most exotic barely turn heads. It seems that those who awaken here possess a form that resembles the Lady herself – two arms, a torso, a head and face, and some form of motion.
Something Old, Something New
Some scholars of the old cosmos claim that everything was arranged like a great wheel, with endless worlds sitting next to their ideological neighbors. In this way, the infinite planes could be defined in a finite space. Most people alive now consider this a poor attempt to map something impossible.
The true nature of existence is more of an ooze made of concepts and ideas. Some areas within this place are more static and tolerable than others, with a firm “down” and systems of understanding that one can experience with their own senses. Others are so sideways that even the Aberrants struggle to navigate them, where concepts like “senses” are useless and a frightful pang of subconscious panic can cause devastation and offense.
Since the city itself sees more and more arriving by the day, and since the city is limited in size, most seek to find other places to make their way. The city seems completely static – everything from the tiled roads, to the buildings, and even the vines are totally immutable. Plus, the inscrutable Lady eradicates any who create open warfare here, creating an oppressively tension. However, you cannot leave this place via flight or falling, as any who try never return. You need a Door and a Key.
As new worlds and pockets come into being, they send out a sort of resonance that others can feel. These worlds do not exist in the same physical space as Symbol, so you can’t simply “go” there – in fact, it seems that Symbol exists outside of time and space in a way that prevented it from the same fate as the old worlds. It protected itself, but it also cut it off from everywhere.
Keys and Doors
Thus you need a sort of “key” that fits this “door.” Anyone with the skill, energy, and time can produce such a key, and some truly skilled key makers can create keys which endure multiple uses. The art of Key crafting is considered one of the most highly sought after and respected skills in the city. It is one of the few institutions that the city has. The livelihood of everyone relies on Symbol’s key makers, as they bring in and connect it to new sources of energy, people, and resources.
Key makers will tell you that their creations work on a different logic that the objective, flesh and bone world. They work on metaphor and invisible meaning. Some describe it as making the door remember what it was for – giving it some context or reason to be to begin with. There is some truth to this it seems – worlds that go without a key for too long eventually collapse back into the maelstrom of other such worlds.
Broadly speaking, the Key makers and scholars have identified 8 categories of worlds and beings that occupy Symbol. These are loose groupings at best, mostly to help better understand the needs, risks, and possibilities of the new world, and not all scholars agree on these groupings.
The vast majority of beings who emerge from the fallen worlds vaguely resemble what some call a human. They possess superficial arms, hands, torsos, heads, and faces. They usually possess legs, and most often have two.
Further, they often are noted for their variety of skills and their ability to improvise. Humanoid worlds are as varied as they are. Most are full of untamed plant life and animals, but unique to humanoid worlds you will find constructed buildings and tools, and ruins of old ones.
In Wild worlds and wild folk, there is an old fury beyond philosophy and science. It is the instinct of the animal, the preprogrammed intelligence of plants reaching for the sky.
Wild planets are overgrown with creatures that can eat a person whole and vegetation that can do the same. you will find no buildings or civilization here – just untampered wilderness and beating hearts thirsty to live.
Solar beings are regal in demeanor and striking in their visual majesty, often with pure skin of solid color and eyes that shine. Many have wings of feathers or light. some even carry splendid objects of beauty like swords or trumpets.
Solar worlds can be literally blinding for travelers and morally suffocating. Their worlds are so perfect that one often feels out of place, like a dirty child caught in an expensive museum. the mountains are silver. The clouds are paintings. The people are kind and brave and speak with impossible voices.
The pitiful and disgusting soulless that arrive have it the worse in terms of relations with others, for their bodies are decomposing but never truly expire. they are skeletons, specters, and walking mounds of dead flesh.
Their worlds are similarly bleak. Here you will find endless mounds of loose burial sites or cleared out crypts. Their cities are dark and pitted, or soaked in black oily rain. Most would rather let these worlds collapse back than ever venture here, but they are not without culture and meaning in their own right.
Any description of Aberrant creatures would be inaccurate on some level. They are those who defy all other descriptions. They can be a wriggling mass of beaks and insect hides, or a floating cube of impossibly perfect sides and angles. Others are pure psychic energy.
The would-be traveler would do best to avoid aberrant worlds, for they are as disorienting and alien as those who come from them. They lack defined meaning and rules. You will find no gravity, no sight, no hearing, no defined logic that can be followed. your feelings can offend the world and your words can spawn maggots – but in these bizarre places you can find the truly marvelous and unthinkable.
Mystics are those with a higher sense of being, connected to forces beyond the perceived. They can see the invisible and peer through time, or even evoke magic unaided by artifact or instrument. Most mystics prefer to obscure their face or shroud their physical forms, or sometimes even lack such things entirely, but all of them have an aura that is unmistakable.
Mystical worlds are crystalline plains of infinite glass spread across a deep purple burst of starlight, or sometimes are small pockets orbiting a hot star that should not be this close without destroying everything. Some are even deep caverns where there is no sight beyond the deeper inner mind.
Mechanical beings can have many forms, but it is not the arrangement of features that define them – it is the material. Mechanical beings are made of metals, silicon, and carbon. their minds are not made of the same soft biology of others, but instead process the world with strange logic.
Their worlds are often devoid of magic and full of devices that are inscrutable even to Symbol scholars. wires, gears, steam, and more await in these places, and so too to hazards capable of outrageous destruction.
Diabolic beings are all horn, scale, fangs, and tricks. They live to deceive and win – everything is competition or hierarchy. They often are rippled masses or muscle with wicked grins, and most are moments away from engaging in blood sport.
Their worlds are an odd duality – some are orderly suffering and pain, and others are scarred hellscapes of fire and blight. Often they are both competing to carve out more of the pocket world than the other. Where other denizens of most species prefer the company of their own kind, diabolic beings can barely tolerate one another for long.
But there is a new way it seems. There are some keys with doors unfound, objects of such immense power they glow like a beacon in the sea of destroyed pasts. These are keys never made but discovered.
These Artifacts take a heavy toll on their wielder. They take not just a physical token from them, but something greater – a potential that will never be seen. In exchange they elevate one with a Will to a new level, and those without a strong Will are annihilated against such raw power. There are none capable of wielding more than one Artifact at once, as they conflict with and eradicate each other, as well as the one foolish enough to try to hold both.
Artifacts grant a number of powers, and only grant them to the one designated to possess such a device. It seems Artifacts possess their own Will in a sense, and never serve those they do not wish to serve.
First, they grant power in the sense of causing destruction and creation as the user dictates. Someone with an artifact will always be a force to be reckoned with.
Second, they can protect their user from dissolving back into nothing when exposed to the raw stuff of the old world. Even against a void of unmaking, an Artifact can project its own limited existence to preserve its wielder.
Third, they soothe, attract, or subjugate lesser beings to their own Will. The nature of this bond is different for each Artifact holder, but it is true for them all. It is this power over other beings that make Artifact holders respected and feared above all, as those with one naturally become leaders of armies and builders of empires.
Fourth, though it is speculation only, key makers believe artifacts to be Keys in their own right. They may be able to create or access worlds currently unknown. Like lesser keys, Artifacts are not purely physical objects but concepts. It seems impossible to separate an Artifact from their wielder.
The Artifacts that one may possess are:
What better way to make your way than by your own hand? A marbled stone fist of enormous size, this artifact requires the sacrifice of one’s own matching hand. What it lacks in subtlety and fine control it more than makes up for in raw strength.
Those with the Titan Fist prefer to make their own solutions, usually through brute force. They tend to appreciate monsters that share this aggressive problem solving stance, but also pair well with monsters that can protect and keep them fighting by their own hand. Humanoid, mechanical, and some wild beings pair well with a Titan Fist.
The idea of a divine king burns in your mind and soul. You are fit for the crown and throne…if only these fools knew that. So you set out to prove it by fire and war. The Monarch Blade is a perfectly crafted blade of silver, set with gemstones in the hilt, and a brilliance that can not be ignored.
It commands respect and calls to halcyon days of rightful rule. What it asks for is not so obvious: you must never submit to others or permit a slight against what you know is right. The Monarch Blade prefers to work with Solar beings who can share its radiance and authority, but also can easily impress its sense of leadership on Humanoids.
Glistening, this eye draws you in to its deep hues and scintillating details, luring you further and further into its mysteries. Then, suddenly, it is alight! Fury and righteous might unleashed! And then all is calm again. The eye asks for an equal trade; an eye for an eye.
trained mystics cannot help but be curious about the eye, and they pair well with the supernatural senses that it imparts. The sudden bursts of destruction that rumor to follow it also appeal to diabolic forces.
There is no shape in the city as ridiculously perfect as this orb. It is layered in lines that shimmer and glow occasionally, but its spherical shape is beyond what is possible. Yet here it is, in your hand. Those who would grasp such a tool need to give up that which they desire the most, forever detached from such petty wants.
In exchange, the power grants dominion over magic and those who wield it. It can replicate or stop the magic of others, or even store power for later. This manipulation of the arcane might naturally pair with mystic beings, but can also be appreciated by some diabolic, solar, and aberrant beings.
Witness! Here! Now! The true glory of one perfected in mind and body! The exemplar of what it means to be! The Glory crown is an unfaltering circle of light that never fades against even the darkest blacks and is a sign of one’s mastery over the self. It asks for just one small price: Flawless and unerring discipline at all times. Consuming toxic substances, lazy or indulgent behavior, selfishness, or being overly concerned with worldly matters strips one of their power.
The Crown inspires others to act, especially in unison. Humanoids, Wild beings, and solar beings all bask in it’s presence. The imposing presence of any large monster can make a good line of defense for any being wearing the crown as well.
A heart that kept beating even after its body could no longer carry on, this vessel is a pure thing. It is sweet as snow; it is innocence in a place that never had any. Those would bear it must carve out their own heart first.
The heart of the faithful turns its carrier into an unfailing saint. They can detect all falsehoods and rebuke all tricks with ease. Further, they will live as long as the heart does – forever.
This ability to defend against mental and social assaults pairs well with Wild beings, or any monster that is poor at doing so itself. It also is appreciated by the soulless, who feel its aura as a gentle balm against despair.
Some whisper maddening secrets about this dread hand. A shriveled and pathetic thing so far removed from its original owner to be useless. That hate drives it to find a new, more worthy owner, and in exchange for their own lesser hand, grants its user the power to cripple and pain others. It can even pain the dead into acting for its user.
The soulless languish and listen to the user of this hand, and the aberrant recognize its legacy and understand its wrongness. Any monster that can be driven and pushed by threats will submit to this hand.
What good is one’s own visage? Each quiver of a lip is a betrayal. Every smile and smirk is revealing a weakness. And so you cast it away in exchange for this gift. Your face is now nothing more than a spectral shadow, a ghost hidden under cloak.
Losing your face lends itself to forming new ones as you need them, and shifting into a new perspective is as easy as changing clothes. Aberrant beings respond to this mutable sense of self, and diabolic monsters can appreciate the possibilities it enables.
Restrictive yet freeing. Submissive but in control. This artifact binds you in chains both real and imagined, but it hides all weakness under a perfect mask. No one will ever know your faults; they will only know you as you wish to be known. All it takes is giving up something you never needed anyway – your agency. You do as directed from time to time, and so your power grows.
Diabolic forces naturally submit to you when witnessing such a display of personal violence, and mechanical beings understand the sense of restricted rules that you operate under.
Blood is thicker than water, but violence can easily sever both from their source. You have drained your own vital essence and replaced it with this dark and muddled fluid. You can feel it in your veins, coursing in a rhythm foreign to you. but it feeds you. Makes you feel more alive than ever. And you want to use that strength every chance you can.
This ichor not only makes your body stronger, but gives one control over pure destruction – you wish something to ruin, and so it shall be. Diabolic forces flock to you for challenge and to serve, and Wild monsters will witness your display of power with respect. The soulless can take delight in such slaughter if you desire as well.
This arm has seen better days, yet it still gleams under the sky. It is an immaculately crafted thing of functional beauty – sleek, strong, and practical. Inside you can see wires and panels that are foreign to you for now, but you will discover their purpose. This arm replaces your normal arm, and is nothing but a direct upgrade – it is near unbreakable, stronger than any man, and possesses several defensive abilities.
These defenses are a good combination for any being that lacks its own methods of deflecting harm, but the workmanship and origins of the arm are valued by mechanical beings most of all.
A dreaded and tortuously painful procedure. It took days of cutting, slicing, hacking, and gnawing. It took burning your nerves straight to the bone until you wished for death. But it is done, and now your spinal cord and skull are a pure metallic liquid that glides like skin yet endures any and all damage.
This spine makes you think differently and see the world like the mechanical do, analyzing the world rationally even in the face of nonsense. Further, your ability to endure pain is unrivaled, which is deeply appreciated by both Aberrant beings and Soulless.
A wicked scar along your skull is all that remains to show what you sacrificed for this fearful power. Your old brain was scooped out, and in its place a different one was placed. With it you can think in ways thought mad and make sense of the far realms beyond logic. Your mental powers manifest in the world through powerful psionic abilities when you choose to use them.
Aberrant beings recognize you as their own and will naturally wish to converse or follow you, and your ability to attack the minds of others pairs well with monsters that leave a target vulnerable.
By accident or some twist, your entire skeleton has been transformed into something totally foreign. They ooze, squish, and move as if like jelly. Your entire body sloshes along with them – you can squeeze into minuscule spaces and attempts to harm you are met with a wriggling form nearly impervious to physical trauma.
Aberrant beings and the soulless are drawn to you, but your resilience is partnered well by any offensive strong monster that could use someone else to draw the fire. In addition, your propensity to get into spaces you are not meant to be is respected by beings who likewise desire to be where they do not belong.
You howled under a brand new moon in a world of fangs and claws, and won your prize. Flayed alive, your skin was removed, and then replaced by the predator you defeated. This new hide grants you the power to take the shape of beasts, and feel their instincts as if you were one.
Naturally, Wild beings respect and fear you more naturally. Your adaptive nature partners well with other humanoids who tend to be more varied in their skill as well.
For a time you rested in the soft soil. It ran over you as a gentle repose, and all manner of the world’s creatures drank of you. But in time, you had to return to the world. So you brought more life with you, a symbiosis of lives relying on each other. This partnership makes you immune to mundane concerns like poisons and diseases, and acts as a natural defense against those who would harm you.
Wild beings adore you as a revered member of their own, but the soulless eye you as a possible better eternal form. Your natural ability to endure the world is also a good fit for mechanical beings who can likewise ignore such concerns.
Coming soon: worlds, monsters, encounters, and more!