Miasma

Table of Contents

Miasma

Miasma is a topic of great importance to Evokers. Not only is it a substance that supports and enables Shadows, it also gives form to Personas. Simply put: get used to dealing with Miasma.

What is miasma? You can think of miasma as a type of 'radiation' that is generated by the Sea of Chaos. In effect, it's what the Sea of Chaos is made of. Miasma reacts to thoughts and emotions like putty, being twisted, shaped and pulled by it with ease. Miasma lets those thoughts even override the laws of physics, allowing for incredible, impossible things to happen. Essentially, miasma is the engine by which Shadows and Personas exist and use their amazing abilities.

But miasma is, as one might guess by the name, dangerous. Miasma contains within it the collected repression and emotional pollution that defines the Sea of Chaos, and unsafe exposure to it can see the raw emotion begin to influence people's own behaviour or even draw Shadows out of them. Furthermore, miasma begins to make reality more 'malleable', allowing powerful personalities to shape the world around them. In sufficiently high amounts, miasma begins to infuse real matter, blurring the lines between the world of hard reality and the world of dreams. At this level, reality begins to unravel as people shape it to their whims, and even stray thoughts can sometimes mutate and take on a life of their own.

Should the miasma level ever surpass a level known as the 'Horizon of Minimum Order', then reality collapses. The Sea of Chaos breaches its levees and inundates the world, subsuming it and absorbing it into its own. The world is turned into a primordial state where raw willpower and powerful personality are the only anchors in a nightmare scape, a world where it becomes impossible to keep even the smallest thought from radically changing reality around you. In this event, human civilization would cease to exist, and all but the most powerful of humans would become little more than nightmare-stricken beasts.

It is the Evokers' duty to prevent this from happening. In most parts of the world, the Sea of Chaos is safely isolated from the Waking World. Katashiba, however, is a special 'crossing over point', where the barrier between the Waking World and the Sea of Chaos are thin. Here, without the work of Persona users maintaining the seals and defeating Shadows, miasma would eventually leak into Katashiba and from there, the world.

The Sea of Chaos craves expansion into the 'higher levels' of the metaverse, specifically the Library of Alexandria and the Waking World. As the Tree of Sophia's seals wither, the miasma starts to gradually leak in. Archetype Shadows transmit small amounts of miasma to their creator's waking body, but can vastly hasten the process by conquering their creators' conscious minds and taking over their bodies directly. This turns the person into an untrammelled conduit for the Sea of Chaos, and leads to them steadily pumping miasma into both the Library and the Waking World.

Shadows absorb levels of miasma into themselves at levels relative to their power. The most powerful of Shadows see this miasma coalesce into 'Possibility Eggs', hardened, inert stones of raw miasma that appear after the Shadow has been defeated, which can be used to strengthen the Tree of Sophia, in the Library of Alexandria. However, Possibility Eggs can, if one knows how, be 'hatched' to make miracles happen. Seeing the future, going back in time, maybe even bringing back the dead… But using the Eggs in this way adds a massive amount of miasma to the Waking World.

Despite its name and its terrifying implications, miasma is not a force of evil. It is merely a primordial force that can be shaped by psychic activity. In fact, since Personas gain a degree of power from miasma, it is sometimes in the Evokers' interests to manipulate miasma to give themselves an edge, primarily in the Waking World.

In Summary…

  • Miasma is Sea of Chaos radiation that makes Shadows and Personas viable.
  • It's psychically reactive and responds to powerful thoughts and emotions. The more miasma, the less powerful the thought has to be.
  • It seeks to expand into the Waking World through Katashiba, leaking through due to the Tree of Sophia's weak seals.
  • Archetype Shadows that turn into Incarnates pour steady miasma into the world.
  • If miasma breaches levels known as the 'Horizon of Minimum Order', reality collapses because miasma has utterly subsumed all normal matter, thus making everything fully subordinate to the mind.
  • This is a bad thing.
  • Archetype Shadows leave behind 'Possibility Eggs' on defeat. Possibility Eggs are very powerful nuggets of pure, concentrated miasma that can be used to make impossible things happen- but also dump a load of miasma into the Waking World.
  • They can also be used to power up the Tree of Sophia.
  • Manipulate miasma to give yourself an edge!

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Miasma Effects

At the start of each week, the level of miasma in the Waking World is measured, as is the rate of miasma spread (ie how much the level of Miasma grows every week). Managing miasma spread is essential to keeping the Waking World in some sense of order.

The reason this is important is because the level of miasma- represented as a number between 0 and 100- has strong mechanical effects. Every Dream Theatre has a fixed miasma level, but the level in the Waking World fluctuates.

Defeating an Archetype Shadow or an Incarnate results in a drop in miasma and miasma spread, and a Possibility Egg can be given to the Tree of Sophia to reduce spread to 0 for two weeks. An Egg can also be used to soak up 10+1d10 Miasma from the Waking World. Using an Egg to produce a special effect creates Miasma instead, at a rate dependent on the act and the power of the Egg.

On the other hand, Archetype Shadows add an amount to miasma spread so long as they have a functioning Dream Theatre and are alive. Thus, you are encouraged to defeat such a Shadow as soon as possible.

The miasma chart, which measures the mechanical effects of miasma, is below. One universal effect is that Archetype Shadows add half the miasma level to their Denial score.

Name Level Effect
Inert 0-9 The environment is practically devoid of miasma. Shadows cannot appear in the Waking World, and Personas cannot be used at all.
Base Level 10-19 The level of miasma in the environment is low. Shadows cannot appear, and Personas won't manifest, but Knacks can be used.
Active Level 20-40 The level of miasma is standard. Shadows appear, Personas appear, and both can do all of their abilities. Shadows rarely appear in the Waking World at this level.
Moderate Saturation 41-60 The miasma levels are pretty high. Shadows gain +10 to all Scores, +2 wounds, and one extra level of resistance. Troupers start to appear in the Waking World with some frequency. Evokers count their Evoker Ranks as being +1 for the purposes of calculating how much Exertion and Spirit they have. Some people start to go missing.
Extreme Saturation 61-80 Miasma levels are spiralling out of control. Shadows gain +20 to all Scores, +5 wounds, two extra levels of resistance and 2 level 1 talents, or 1 level 2 talent, of their choice. Conductors begin appearing in the Waking World, and Troupers become common. Evokers count their Evoker Ranks as being +2 for the purposes of calculating how much Exertion and Spirit they have, and count 10-cost Realisation actions as only costing 5 Realisation. Evokers can spend 10 Realisation to give themselves the Superior Action trait for 3 rounds. Unenlightened humans with a Willpower of 50 or higher develop a single Knack. People with a Willpower of 20 or lower start being attacked by Shadows, who steal their consciousness away and use it to empower themselves- leaving the victims as drooling puppets.
Horizon of Minimum Order 81-100 Miasma levels are at tipping point. Shadows gain +30 to all Scores, +8 wounds, three extra levels of resistance and 2 level 2 talents. Archetypes and Incarnates can start entering the Waking World, and Troupers can be seen in the shadows and dark spots pretty much all the time. Evokers count their Evoker Rank as being +3 for the purposes of calculating how much Exertion and Spirit they have, count 10-cost Realisation actions as only costing 5 Realisation, and count 5-cost Realisation actions as free. Evokers can spend 10 Realisation to gain the Celerity and Superior Action traits for 10 rounds. Humans with a Willpower of 40 or higher develop a single Knack. Humans with a Willpower of 50 or higher develop a single Ability, be it a Power, Art or Passive. At this point, reality begins warping, causing Locales to become unreliable, and allowing new, weird Locales to form. People with a Willpower of 30 or less start being attacked and turned into puppets, whilst those with a Willpower of 20 or lower start birthing or turning into Shadows. Society nears collapse.
Chaos 101+ The Sea of Chaos overwhelms the Waking World.

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