The Contents Of The 5 Soejima Library

The Contents of the 5 Soejima Library

What follows is a breakdown of the contents of the 5 Soejima library. It does not include every book. Many of the books duplicate information or even somewhat contradict each other. However, this list does cover the areas covered by the library, and outlines the general quality of the writings on them, and how comprehensive they are.
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The Miasma Counter

A Geiger-counter looking device strapped to a world globe. It clicks like a counter but measures miasma levels. A computer attached to it prints out numbers. It can detect spikes, but can’t detect location.
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The Mission Reports

A detailed report of each of the missions undertaken by the Fiends with 22 Faces, Aka F-22. The reports are written by hand in French. They detail the Archetype’s identity, the Archetype itself, the Heed, how the Heed was created, the Dream Theatre’s setting, the dates, a breakdown of the major events of each Dream Theatre and the outcome. Most end in ‘Heed Taken, Shadow Reformed’, but the last one ends in ‘Shadow Terminated’ instead.

The information is divided into four logbooks, covering nine operations. Information on each becomes sparser as time goes on. The logbooks are written in French, but a budget for the team is written in English and contains brief information on the first operation. The four logbooks have censored the names of their operation targets by burning them out.

These books include the names of the nine members of F-22.

The nine operations are as follows:

Operation One: 10th April to 20th of April. Features a Robert Smithson. The first operation of F-22 that saw them fall into the Sea of Chaos by accident and into Smithson’s Dream Theatre, where he was an orientalist sultan ruling over a harem. In real life, Smithson had been outed as a cheater by his girlfriend, and the public argument became the catalyst, with the girlfriend becoming the Heed. By necessity the girlfriend was exposed to the Sea of Chaos and confronted the Heed, but the outcome of this isn’t recorded in the English version. Heed taken, Shadow reformed.
Operation Two: 1st of May to 15th of May. Heed taken, Shadow reformed.
Operation Three: 25th of May to 10th of June. Heed taken, Shadow reformed.
Operation Four: 30th of June to 21st of July. Heed taken, Shadow reformed.
Operation Five: 30th of July to 15th of August. Heed taken, Shadow reformed.
Operation Six: 1st of September to 11th of September. Heed taken, Shadow reformed.
Operation seven: 25th of September to 14th of October. Heed taken, Shadow reformed.
Operation Eight: 11th of October to 28th of October. Heed taken, Shadow reformed. Dates overlap with Operation seven
Operation Nine: 5th of November to 14th of November. Shadow terminated.
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The Nature of Shadows

A great collection of information on the nature of Shadows. It details what a Shadow is (emotion compressed together by repression), and divides Shadows into Troupers, Conductors, Archetypes and Incarnates, although the documentation dithers on whether these are hard, concrete definitions. The definitions are a measure of power but also ‘purity’, where a pure Shadow has its emotions stem from one person whilst the most impure of Shadows are drawn from the diffuse emotions of all humanity. Because the Sea is fundamentally human, these Shadows and their emotions are interpreted through the lens of stories. The more impure the Shadow, the broader these stories tend to be, often falling into myth or folklore. More pure Shadows tend to fall into specific stories, which can be mythology but often are stories relevant to the creator-human.

  • Troupers are the most common Shadow. They are impure and drawn from the morass of the Sea and thrown into shapes.
  • Conductors are the next tier up. Conductors are either drawn from a portion of a human being, or from a small collective of people.
  • Archetypes are Shadows drawn from the feelings of a singular person and are highly powerful. However, as a measure of power they do not need to be impure, and some of the literature imprecisely refers to very powerful Shadows as ‘Archetypes’ without reference to a creator-human. Archetypes are linked directly to their human-creator’s mind, allowing miasma to bypass the Library of Alexandria and emit directly from the creator.
  • Incarnates are a special definition and are never used as a marker of power (although Incarnates are invariably powerful). Incarnates are an Archetype who has conquered their human. The repressed, Shadow personality is now the dominant, real one, and the human personality disappears, presumed destroyed. When this happens, the Dream Theatre collapses, and the Heed dissipates, its power being absorbed entirely by the Archetype. The Archetype then takes over its creator’s waking body and their book in the Library. This does not result in a normal human being, however, due to consuming the Heed and the Shadow’s inherent power. Nor does it become a Persona. The Shadow remembers being an Archetype, has all of those motivations and power. The Waking World limits it somewhat, but nonetheless the Incarnate acts as a powerful gate for miasma to bypass the Library of Alexandria completely.

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The Structure of the Metaverse

A collection of books breaking down the Metaverse into the Library of Alexandria, the Sea of Chaos and the Velvet Room. This topic has a great deal of comprehensive data on it.

It outlines the Library’s purpose as a ‘filter’ and says that everyone’s conscious minds are in here recorded as books, and says that the Tomes the Persona users receive are basically a form of these books. It also notes that the Tree of Sophia is mostly based in the Library, and that its top branches extend into the Waking World whilst its roots enter the Sea of Chaos, and that empowering the Tree allows it to soak ‘escaped’ miasma from the Waking World and filter it back into the Sea of Chaos. The roots can be traversed, and count as an ‘analogue’ way of entering the Sea of Chaos safely.
The Library also has the Porta, which is an ever-changing room that generates doors that allow for easy access into defined domains in the Sea of Chaos.

Below the Library is the Sea of Chaos, a great mass of psychic energy, made of boundless, formless emotion. However, strong wills, resolve and self-realisation can imprint on the Sea of Chaos, and carve islands of well-defined, stable space out of this chaos. These are known as Domains and are talked more below in the next section.
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The Topology of the Sea of Chaos

This section tries to comprehend the ‘layout’ of the Sea of Chaos in a comprehensible way whilst acknowledging that the Sea does not really conform to human expectation of geography.

One interpretation of the sea is that it is like a large disc in essentially a ‘gravitational’ model. It is a constantly expanding disc of miasma energy, becoming denser the closer you get to the centre, with the Domains constantly moving but at a rate that means they’re stable in distance relative to each other. At the very middle is the ‘root’ of the Sea. Usually this miasma expands at a steady rate but for whatever reason it sometimes ‘flares’ and surges into reality. This interpretation does not detail where the Waking World is relative to the Sea.

The second interpretation is that of a whirlpool in the middle of a lake. The Domains swirl around but avoid falling into the whirlpool by exerting energy to counter the momentum. In this interpretation, the Waking World is the ‘coast’ around the lake. The whirlpool’s epicentre is the source, and when it surges it makes the Sea ‘churn’ more. This pulls the coast deeper into the lake; it is not that the Sea is expanding, it is pulling the world down into it.

The third interpretation is that that the Sea is essentially spherical, like an egg, with the source being the core. The Waking World forms the shell, and when the Sea surges it tries to crack the shell.
All interpretations divide the Sea into the following levels:

  • The Skim, the ‘surface’ of the Sea closest to the Library
  • The Shallow, below the Skim, a broad region that consists of estimated 10-30% of the Sea. Home to the Shadow Market
  • The Wholeness, the largest area. Home to Avalon.
  • The Abyss, the deepest area outside of the source. Home to Thule.
  • The Source, an area never seen or described, but a kind of theoretical ‘source’ of the surges in the Sea.

Travelling through the Sea is strange. If you know where you are going, Evokers can do it immediately by travelling through the Library of Alexandria’s Porta, but if not then they have to navigate through the raw Sea. Shadows can do this somewhat easily, although it’s still risky. Certain ‘currents’ in the Sea are heavily used, and the constant coherent presence of Shadows makes them more stable. For Evokers, travel through the raw Sea becomes increasingly dangerous the closer one is to the deeper, more compressed parts. It involves a shifting dreamscape where the only fixed landmarks are distant Domains. Travel to the Library here is almost impossible as the Library’s Porta avoids non-fixed spaces.
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Domains

The Domains are well catalogued in the Library, including their nature as well as a list of Domains with outlines. Conceptually, the word ‘Domain’ refers to any stable space in the Sea of Chaos. Although Dream Theatres work on similar principles to Domains, they are not considered Domains due to unique mechanisms and the fact that Dream Theatres are unstable; they’re like the cocoon for a butterfly. Domains are the major landmarks in the Sea of Chaos, and most of the literature talks about things in relation to the Domains.

All Domains possess the following features:

  • A ruler, a powerful central authority. They control and define the Domain, giving them significant power over it. The ruler is the pillar that holds up the space. Without it, the space collapses. This means rulers cannot leave their Domains without the Domain collapsing almost immediately, unless some implement is used to empower and maintain the Domain in the ruler’s absence. (Examples: a Possibility Egg, maybe?). The Ruler is neither omnipotent nor omniscient in their own Domain, however. Although the ruler is always a singular entity it does not have to be a cognizant one, and some ‘rulers’ are the manifestation of a council of authoritative figures; their will made manifest.
  • A defined, stable space that reacts to the psychology, desires or will of the ruler, and is often themed. The scope of the space directly reflects the power of its ruler. This is not a matter of size but also presence. Presence is measured in size, but also in wonder and passive effects, for example a Domain that’s a square kilometre of forest is weaker than a Domain that’s .8 square kilometres but makes you forget about the passage of time. Defining power is an art and not a science.
  • ‘Native’ Shadows. Shadows that start as formless mass of emotion (aka ‘Raw Shadows’) are drawn to Domains that resonate with them. On entry, a subconscious ‘contract’ is formed between Shadow and ruler, where the Shadow receives form and stability, but owes its loyalty to the ruler. The constant attraction of Shadows to a Domain empowers the ruler (in turn expanding the Domain). More powerful Domains shine brighter and thus are more attractive.
  • ‘Visitor’ Shadows. Shadows already possessing forms can travel wherever they want/wherever their ruler lets them (not all Shadows have rulers). Shadows can visit Domains. Rulers might try to destroy or subvert them.

Domains are then further divided into two categories: Baronies and Shadowlands.

  • Baronies are Domains made by errant Evokers who ‘habituated’ to the Sea of Chaos and now reside there. These ruler-Evokers are called ‘Barons’. There is no fundamental difference in how a Persona and Shadow wield power as they both shape miasma into altering reality. Thus a sufficiently powerful Evoker can create a Barony just like a Shadow can. The process itself is not known, however.
  • Shadowlands (there is no consensus on this term and they are sometimes called ‘Pareidolias’ or ‘Scioscapes’ instead) are Domains made by powerful Shadows. The existence of Shadowlands is a perplexing one because it’s not known if the Shadows are rogue Archetypes or Incarnates, or minor Shadows who grew powerful. It is known that Shadows can grow more powerful over time and even change their forms, especially if they consume miasma or human attention.

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Notable Domains

The list of notable domains is fairly comprehensive but can’t be guaranteed to be up to date.
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The Shadow Market

Ruler: Lord Krishna, the 8th Avatar of Vishnu
Type: Shadowland
Brief description: Libertarian synapse-based capitalist society
The largest and most comprehensive Domain in the Sea of Chaos. The major focus of the Shadow Market is a large urban centre on a flat plain in a geometric pattern around Krishna’s sublime palace. The Shadow Market is a Domain defined not by any particular ideology or feeling except the desire for attention and human experience. Because of this, any and all Shadows feel welcome in the Shadow Market. Many raw Shadows that enter the Market are given form but Krishna does not dominate most of them, instead letting them roam free. In this way it acts as a kind of creche for sentient Shadows. Krishna does nonetheless dominate some Shadows, which form as his servants and soldiers.

The Shadow Market’s main purpose is to act as a centre of commerce. It is a deregulated space whereby Shadows are free to indulge in their natures. Shadows compete for human memories here, which they do not consume but instead experience. The more important and resonant the memory, the longer the Shadow keeps it and grows more powerful off it but eventually they sell most memories on to buy goods and services, as even Shadows need those to maintain their forms. Memories act as the main form of currency in the Shadow Market, but there is no standard rate; all transactions are negotiations and bartering. The ability to make human memories is rare, but any who try except for Krishna and his picked servants are punished.

When Krishna mints new memories, he releases them into the economy by purchasing goods. Krishna could demand anything he wanted from anyone in the Market, but he has no problem competing in it as he controls many Shadows and businesses himself.

The only regulations in the Shadow Market are about maintaining the supply of memories and protecting Krishna’s servants. The laws are as follows:

  • Krishna’s word is law. Any attack on Krishna, his servants or his property is forbidden.
  • Only Krishna and his chosen servants may mint new memories.
  • Should a Shadow perish, their memories must go to their next of kin (which is defined if the Shadow has actual friendship or kinship circles, and if not then is up to the discretion of the executor of the will, who in many cases is a random guard) or someone outlined in a will, which must be legally outlined. If there are no designated individuals then the memories are returned to Krishna.
  • The theft of memories is forbidden.

Crimes are punished with the Shadow in question being fined or destroyed depending on the breach.

The Shadow Market’s urban core is roughly the size of Tokyo (as per 1988 standards), however the entire Domain itself is much larger, most of it varied environments where Shadows dwell. ‘Urban’ Shadows may dwell near the city core, but others dwell in mountains, forests, plains, deserts or oceans. Estimates place the entire Domain as being of a size somewhere between Japan and the continental United States.
Due to its size and nature, the Shadow Market is the meeting ground for Shadows, and every major (and many minor) Domains who fancy themselves worthy powers keep embassies there.

Krishna and his servants draw from Hindu belief, but it is as yet unsure how this interacts with his deregulated free market synapse society, Hinduism not exactly being known to promote such a world view.

Krishna himself seems to be written of in a generally neutral-positive tone. The books say he is ‘honourable’ and ‘keeps his promises’, but wishes he didn’t have to take memories away.

Notable denizens amongst Krishna’s servants include his ‘naga guard’, the main soldiery of the Market; his officials Lord Garuda (also his chief diplomat), Lord Raja Naga (his chief general), Lady Gdon (his steward) and Lord Kartikeya (a general and governor).

Krishna is always warm and accommodating of the Evokers as he likes to gather memories from them. He also finds that their intentions do not interfere with his own, most of the time, so he prefers to coexist with Evokers. The biggest problem with dealing with Krishna is that all of his needs are met except memories, meaning there is very little wiggle room for Evokers to deal with him.

The various amusements and spectacles in the city are highly documented, including bars, cafes, arenas, theatres, etc.
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The Realm of Avalon

Ruler: The Fairy Queen, Protector of Avalon, Mother of the Qualinesti, Paramount Queen of the Eledhel, Everqueen of Ulthuan, Lady of Lorien, the Dream of Midsummer and Lady of the Courts of Seelie and Unseelie
Type: Barony
Brief Description: Fae Monarchy

Quite possibly the single mightiest Domain in the Sea of Chaos, due to the sheer power of its creator and its size. Avalon is not as large as the Shadow Market nor as populated, but Avalon is highly militarised and its population is often quite powerful.

Avalon is quoted as being ‘Very old’ by Lord Krishna, who states that it has existed for ‘many generations of Evokers’. The population of Avalon is mostly Fae Shadows, such as pixies and fairies. Most of these stem from European mythology, especially Celtic, Gaelic, Germanic and some Slavic mythology, but sometimes seemingly incongruous ‘fae-like’ entities dwell in there as well.

Avalon is a diverse and wondrous realm. F-22 estimations put it at either being the size of Great Britain to the size of Western Europe. F-22’s personal exposure to Avalon is limited as the realm was considered ‘incredibly dangerous’, not because of hostility but because of the Fae magic there which requires one to be extremely careful. Everything in Avalon is beautiful, made up of seas, islands, large realms covered in rolling hills, deep green forests, snow-capped mountains shimmering with rainbows, and well-organised, stately cities, some of which dwell within caves, some of which are behind walls of mountains, and others are hidden in forests, with a few out in the open. The settled areas blend seamlessly with the natural world.
Avalon is a Domain with a highly ordered society, yet one that incorporates freedom and nature greatly into its makeup. Because of this it can be analysed politically. Politically, the Fairy Queen is the centre of power in Avalon, and all authority stems from her. However, much of Avalon is divided by nature into two courts, the ‘Summer Court’ and the ‘Winter Court’, also known as the Seelie Court and the Unseelie Court.

  • The Summer Court is bright, courtly and glorious. The Seelie Fae are bright and gregarious, and often courteous. They are generally more benevolent and tolerant, and whilst not above tricks and pranks, are often fair and congenial and harmless with it. When the Seelie Fae go to war they are splendiferous, radiant, powerful and honourable. The Seelie Fae often act as diplomats and traders with other domains. Within Avalon, the Seelie Fae help plants, forests and cities to grow. Some written examples are: Pixies, Leanan Sidhes, Oberons, Faerie Knights, Selkies and Fee Marraines.
  • The Winter Court is cold, ruthless and hostile. The Unseelie Fae are, whilst not wholly malevolent, generally aggressive, protective and easily provoked. Those who insult the Unseelie do not receive warnings or chances to redeem themselves before the reprisals come. Often hostile to outsiders, some merely wish to live alone whilst others seek to hurt others. Nonetheless they are capable of love, and the Unseelie Fae are loyal friends should their standards be met. The Unseelie Fae go amongst other domains as spies, saboteurs and assassins. Within Avalon, the Unseelie keep the other Fae from becoming complacent, destroy old or greedy growth and protect the frontiers from intruders. Some written examples are: gnomes, Banshees, Dullahans, Glaistigs, Bogeymen, Goblins, Grindylows, Ogres, Carabosses, Asrai and the Ly Erg.

According to Krishna, Avalon has in the past either been dominated by one court or by the other, with the change coming seemingly randomly. When it is ‘Summer’ in Avalon, Avalon acts as the ‘protector of peace and order’ in the Sea, trying to resolve disputes and hemming in destructive Domains. It fosters growth, trade and harmony amidst the Sea, using its considerable power to protect vulnerable Domains.

When it is ‘Winter’ in Avalon, then the wrath of the Fae is unleashed as the insults against Avalon, long-recorded, are repaid for. Avalon’s actions still consist of maintaining order but it is a bloody one, where Avalon expands in an imperialist, brutal manner. Krishna states that in the past, Avalon even invaded the Shadow Market and were successful enough to attack and wound him personally, although they were fought to a stalemate which ended when Winter ended and the Fae withdrew.

According to Prince Idraceyl, however, not all occupants of Avalon belong to either Court. He states that the Courts do not represent one important population: the Elves (sometimes known as the High Elves), who stand above the Courts with a foot in both. For the Elves, it is always Springtime. The Elves do not correspond easily to folklore fae, but more appropriate to the Elves of high fantasy fiction.

Krishna’s take on the Elves is a little more pragmatic. He notes that whilst Avalon is old, the ‘High Elves’ are a relatively new development. He notes that the High Elves dominate Avalon now, even though it was not always so, and their ‘Springtime thinking’ translates into peace and order by tightly focused militarism. He notes that regardless, the Elves have only made Avalon more powerful, as they ‘resemble humans’ in their thinking and have powerful magic. They also have allies with dragons and other powerful monsters that they brought with them to dwell in Avalon. The Elves essentially form a widespread ruling class now. Nonetheless they seem to have no ill will toward Krishna.
The book also divides Avalon’s population into four categories:

  • Trooping Fairies, who live in cities, towns and other settlements
  • Solitary Fairies, who live alone or in small units
  • Changelings, a strange category. Some Fae (usually Unseelie) sometimes sneak into other Domains and kidnap Shadows from there, replacing them with a Changeling. The kidnapped Shadows are also, confusingly, called Changelings, although some books sporadically call them ‘Sabines’ (with a note in the margins that this is not ‘very thematic’). The kidnapped Shadows live in Avalon and fall under the Fairy Queen’s sway; over time they attract others of their kind, leading to Avalon to possess populations of Fae-like entities from non-European mythology, such as Hua Po and Kitsune. The replacement-Changeling lives in the other Domain, but its nature eventually becomes apparent.
  • The Outcasts- Fae that have been driven from Avalon. Krishna notes that this happens sometimes during a ‘change in seasons’, but notes that since the arrival of the High Elves, large numbers of certain Fae, especially goblins and gremlins, have been driven out.

The F-22 had a mixed relation with the Fae. Despite her heritage as an Evoker, the Fairy Queen has no particular warmth towards the Evokers. At best she considers that they might have the same mission (stability and peace in the Sea of Chaos). The F-22 admit they only met the Fairy Queen on a solitary occasion and described her as “a beautiful tall woman, dressed in silken robes, with flawless dark brown skin and curly black hair” and that she was distant to them. They detail that they met because they needed specific information and was willing to trade with her in services or goods (they do not list what goods they provided). The general attitude was that Avalon considers Evokers to be meddling in their affairs, and the Evokers may either cooperate with Avalon or be considered a threat.

The main representative of the Fae the F-22 dealt with was Prince Idraceyl Golothar of the Black Staff, the Fairy Queen’s favourite champion. A powerful High Elf, he is noted to be skilled in swordplay, powerful in magic, riding a dragon, clever, tricky, cunning but tender-hearted and dutiful.
There are notes about rules and capabilities of the Fae:

  • The Fae can ‘ask’ for concepts from you, such as names or your capacity to say or do things. If a Fae asks for something eg ‘may I have’, be very careful.
  • Individuals who eat the food or drink the drink of the Fae whilst in Avalon are cursed to stay there forever, unless released by a Fae.
  • Whilst Fae can lie and cheat, a Fae’s solemn oath is unbreakable. Once their word is given, they keep it. However, those who give their oaths and word to the Fae are bound by the same rules. This, however, can give power to the Fae.
  • Fae often fight with a mix of powerful offensive magic, self-augmentation and trickery, but some Fae are brutally powerful with physical force. High Elves are the worst, as they often have great magic powers, high speed and high martial skill.
  • The most powerful of Fae (especially High Elves, including Idraceyl Golothar) use a spell or set of spells called ‘High Magic’, a spell that one cast lingers like ‘a cloud’ around the caster and hits targets with power derived from ‘every element’. The cloud can also dispel magic targeted at the user, create physical shields and becomes more powerful over time.

Avalon is divided into regions, with names drawn from high fantasy as well as tradition. The ‘gateway city’ of Avalon is a port city named Ys, which also serves as a type of capital. The Fairy Queen does not reside in one city but travels through all Avalon and has palaces everywhere ranging from grand estates to small humble affairs.

Avalon has a collection of vassal Domains collectively known as the ‘Dominions’, which includes at least ten Domains but information on these is limited. A few are known, namely Lyonesse, Westernesse and Mag Mell.
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The Lost Playground

Ruler: Indrid Cold (unconfirmed)
Type: Barony
Brief Description: Secretive Cryptid Refuge
A secretive Domain, one which the F-22 never went to, and heard little concrete evidence about. The Mothmen come from here, and evidence of the other denizens suggests they are cryptids, or urban legends, or other such ‘modern myths’.

The amount of confirmed data about the Lost Playground is scant but the rumours and unsubstantiated data was immense. It was said that the Lost Playground was huge, and secretly manipulating many other Domains in the Sea. Their agents were said to be able to take any form, and that they were more at home in the space between Domains than any other. Espionage and subterfuge were how the Lost Playground operated.

It was even said that the Lost Playground was so mysterious that no one knew who the ruler was, even the ruler himself. It seems to be true that the Lost Playground was a relatively free, flexible place, and its members were not fond of hierarchy or being told what to do by those they didn’t like.

The F-22 do not report any problems with the occupants of the Playground. Although the Mothmen could be suspicious sometimes, as well as crass and argumentative, the consensus was that they were ‘charming, fuzzy and cute’.

The F-22 did not ask much from Krishna about the Lost Playground, as they did not consider them a priority. Krishna noted that the Playground was a Barony, and that his sources suspected it was an individual who claimed to be able to see the future who ruled it, which led to speculation that it was ruled by Indrid Cold.
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Thule

Ruler: The Party of Purity
Type: Barony
Brief Description: Germanic Fascist Myth-State
One of the most antagonistic and hated Domains in the Sea of Chaos, Thule, which refers to itself as the Fourth Reich, or as the ‘Present-Past Utopia’, is a barony made up of an especially fascist interpretation of Germanic and Nordic legend. The goals of Thule are to purge the Sea of ‘impure’ elements, which are anyone who opposes it as well as Shadows whose heritage lies in non-Germanic legend. Considering that this is most of the Sea, Thule is widely unpopular.

According to Krishna, Thule is a curious Domain. The original Thule was an old Shadowland Domain, gregarious and aggressive but in an almost playful way. At some point, the Domain known as the Fourth Reich emerged, and somehow ate Thule, assimilating it into itself. The Fourth Reich is much younger than Thule, however. According to Krishna, cases where a Barony usurps a Shadowland is rare but Thule is definitely an example and not the only one, merely the most disastrous.

F-22 had some dealings with Thule, all of them antagonistic. At the time of F-22, Thule’s stated ambition was to lead an invasion of reality and establish a new fascist state in the Waking World. This had been its ambition for the Fourth Reich’s entire history, an ambition it had not been able to come close to achieving. Here an explanation had been provided: singular Shadows can travel quite far, but making Shadows form an army and invade as a unit requires concentrated willpower, and Rulers can only project that will so far from their Domains. To extend their reach, they either take over smaller Domains (either directly or as clients) or become bigger. Thule sits in the Abyss, a very deep strata, and has to pass through the Wholeness, the Shallows and the Surface before being able to invade reality en masse (assuming it could even pump enough miasma into reality to make that happen).

The major stumbling block for Thule has been Avalon, which dominates the Wholeness and acts as a barrier that has kept Thule at bay. Thule and Avalon have always been antipathic even before the fascists came, and the addition of the Fourth Reich accelerated it into a blood feud. At the height of Thule’s strength, it was invading Avalon itself and damaging the realm. By the time of F-22 however, the war had swung firmly in Avalon’s favour and was invading into the Abyss with the intent of exterminating Thule once and for all.

Thule’s population is drawn from Norse and Germanic mythology. The most visible of its occupants are the Myrkalfar. Descriptions of the Myrkalfar vary widely between sources. The Avalon Fae called them ‘Dwarves’ or ‘Duergaz’ but ‘Myrkalfar’ was their original description. Others call them ‘Dark Elves’ but the Avalon Fae did not like this. The Myrkalfar had appearances that vary widely, with some looking like wild versions of fantasy Dwarves, almost always blonde or redhaired, always strong and tough; some fought like Vikings, others fight with modern technology. Some actually resemble the Avalon High Elves quite closely. The irony of this diversity was not lost on the F-22.

Other notable occupants include Trolls, Valkyries, Jotunn, Huldra and Berserkers.

The Ruler of Thule is known as the ‘Party of Purity’, and is noted as one of the major examples of a ‘Ruler as a group’. Little is known about the Party, but they seem to be powerful wizards whose combined will forms ‘The Party’, which directs Thule.
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The Orpheum

Ruler: Lady Eurydice
Type: Shadowland
Brief Description: Artistic Twilight Realm
The Orpheum is a Domain sitting on the borderline between the Shallows and the Wholeness. The F-22 describe it in bittersweet terms, saying that there is no place more joyful or more sad than the Orpheum. The Orpheum is not a large Domain, nor is it especially small- estimates put it at the size of Denmark.

The Orpheum is a Domain that draws Shadows attracted to the arts, to music, to celebration, as well as Shadows that reflect loss, remembrance, being left behind and waiting. This is a broad selection that goes across all kinds of cultures, and so the Orpheum is wonderfully diverse. It is full of theatres, operas, parks and other places. It is ultimately a place of peace, and the only aggression that commonly occurs there are overly prideful Shadows who argue over their art, or Shadows that have drunken natures.

The Ruler of the Orpheum is Lady Eurydice. F-22 describes her as songful and alluring, gentle and with a pitying, understanding heart. They were apparently quite impressed by her. Lady Eurydice explained that the Orpheum is always two things.

  • The first part is the “Goings-down”, where those who come to the Orpheum do so to remember what they have lost and to mourn what can never be taken back. This, she says, is better than trying to forget, which is a sadness with no explanation or no answer. Those who come to the Orpheum for mourning express a profound grief that resonates with the reality around them.
  • The second part is the “Goings-up”, by which those who come to the Orpheum do so to realise what they still have left, or to see what they might yet obtain. Here is the joy of understanding the beauty of reality, the joy of understanding another’s heart, of being surrounded by a million different attempts to understand the shared experience we all engage in.

At the heart of the Orpheum are the Golden Pools of Mnemosyne and Ambrosia, one coalescing from the memorials, the other from the celebrations.

The Orpheum was a place of healing, and visitors were always welcome. Guests were expected to refrain from violence and harm, including to oneself. The only price Lady Eurydice requests is that one fully and candidly bare their deepest sorrows or their deepest joys with all. Those who do not pay this price may still observe the festivities but may not participate in them, as it is unfair to those who have paid the toll. They are also forbidden from seeing and accessing certain parts of the Orpheum.
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Grimoire

Ruler: King Solomon
Type: Shadowland
Brief Description: Anarchic no-man’s-land of Abrahamic deathmatches
The Grimoire is a sizable domain in the upper Abyss. It is a highly potent domain, attributed to its size, which is estimated to be 'a little smaller than Avalon’. However, Grimoire is entirely self-absorbed, and when its occupants leave Grimoire it is only so they can enact some scheme or find some resource to affect the nature of Grimoire. The lack of focus or cohesion means that Grimoire is an infamous place but not one that imposes its will on the Sea overmuch.

F-22 apparently went to Grimoire several times and did not enjoy the experience. Grimoire is a bipolar realm, where one half is made up of ‘abbey fiefs’, geometrically perfected churches surrounded by geometrically perfected farmlands and forestlands arranged in squares or hexes (the texts contradict each other here). The other half is a sprawling expanse of burned-out villages, excess-laden cities, decadent courts, volcanic wastelands, murderous forests, resentful mountains and seas of burning ice.

The occupants of Grimoire are divided into three groups: Angels, Demons and Summoners. The first two are outlined here:

  • Angels are the ones who occupy ‘The Abbeylands’, the geometrically perfect regions. The Angels are mostly drawn from Abrahamic, Zoroastrian, Kabbalistic and Gnostic traditions as the messengers of God. This includes angels, archangels and ahuras etc but is not limited to them, and also includes major figures from those religions and groups, including saints, golems and houris. The Angels are an orderly, obedient group who try to perfect their realms in terms of productivity and responsiveness. They tend to be extremely inflexible. The Angels’ fiefs are organised in a geometric hierarchy whereby each abbey fief answers to a greater fief in an unbroken, divine chain of authority, each working for God’s great order. The Abbeylands are beautiful, in an artificial way, and are stifling, stark and cold.
  • Demons are the ones who occupy ‘Pandemonium’, the chaotic, excessive regions. The Demons, like the Angels, are drawn from Abrahamic, Zoroastrian, Kabbalistic and Gnostic traditions as those who defy God, rely on sorcery, or test humans for sinfulness, or harvest sins, or try to tempt them away. This includes the demons of the Ars Goetia, as well as entities such as fallen angels, jinn, daevas, lilim and succubus. The Demons are a fraught, argumentative lot who are engaged in many petty power struggles, each trying to dominate their own environment and put their rivals in their place in an endless conflict. There are no innocents, no order except that which is gained by strength and promises. Pandemonium is beautiful, too, but in a horrifying, excessively, orgiastic way that causes one to gag at the strong smells of perfumes, blood and bodily fluid.

An easy assumption to make is that Grimoire is a land of civil war where the Angels and Demons constantly war with each other. That could not be further from the truth. The Angels care only for their duty in maintaining their high standards and looking after their fiefs and have no interest in the Demons, except where the Demons travel into their perfect territories. The Demons in turn do not care for the Angels, for the Angels cannot be perverted or corrupted and their domains are so lacking in humanity that nothing is lost by burning them. They have completely exclusive needs and no reason to compete. In fact, the Demons and Angels, when left to their own devices, actually tend to be quite amiable.

Yet the two are caught in an endless bloody fight, but not because of their own will. This is where the third group emerges: the Summoners.

  • The Summoners are the ones chosen by the Domain’s enigmatic Ruler, King Solomon, to have ‘power’ in his realm. Summoners are almost always Shadows, sometimes ones who stumble into the Grimoire from elsewhere, or are else Demons who suddenly feel dissatisfied with the hollowness of their perversions or Angels who lose sight of what the point of their fiefs are. Such moments of weakness can pass, but if King Solomon notices and places the Grimoire in their hands, then they become Summoners, and can never go back to what they are. Summoners are unique because they have the power to bind Angels and Demons to their will. They can bind Angels with logical problems, acts of devotion, lies or by convincing the Angel that the Summoner is its legal lord; and can bind Demons through transactions, agreements and special rituals, as many Demons are still ‘bound’ to react to certain mystic compulsions.

The Summoners are the true rulers of Grimoire. Neither Angel nor Demon, they begin inheriting the qualities of their servants. The Summoners are all Conductor-tier and often unique in name and desire. Their power means that the Summoners usually fight each other for their own reasons, dragging their hapless enslaved Angels and Demons along with them. Despite the order underlying Grimoire, it is a purely chaotic region shaped by a handful of individual Shadows competing for power without regulation. No Summoner can establish themselves as a power for long, but sometimes one Summoner or an alliance of Summoners nears a point of singularity where they could disrupt the Domain completely… But this has not yet happened.

Little is known about King Solomon, as to why he picks Summoners or keeps his Domain like this. Krishna theorises that unlike other Domains, Grimoire is a realm in flux, a ‘proto’ Domain that has not yet decided what it will look like, and that all of this conflict is, essentially, a method of determining the ultimate shape of that Domain.

Sometimes Shadows from the Grimoire flee and end up in other Domains. Sometimes these are freed Shadows whose Summoner Shadow has died, or else are new Summoners who wanted no part in the carnage and fled.
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Old New World Ghost March

Ruler: The Ghost Dancer
Type: Barony
Brief Description: Manifestation of Anti-Colonialist Fury
The Old New World Ghost March, known as the Ghost March for short, is an old and expansive Domain. It is a Barony, and according to Krishna, an old one at that. The Sea of Chaos is a place of emotion, and Shadows are formed from repression, and the Ghost March is a place of rawest, most brutal kind of repression: that of people forced to repress their anger, sorrow and culture, or be killed by an oppressor.

F-22 did not have many dealings with the Ghost March, according to records. The notes in the records are generally supportive of the Ghost March, ‘considering our backgrounds’. F-22 noted some of the Ghost March’s relationships, noting that they were especially hostile to the ‘imperialist’ domains of the Sea, namely Thule, Avalon and Atlantis. The Ghost March hated Thule for its nature, but hated Avalon as being “Thule with a pretty dress on”.

Sitting at the top end of the Abyss, the Ghost March was an affecting place to be, for the Shadows were drawn from the mythologies of cultures over-marked with oppression, suffering and colonialism, including many of the original nations of North and South America, Africa and Oceania. The environment of the Ghost March were modelled after the old memories of these lands before the invasions that destroyed them- a people’s memory of independence and freedom, untouched by oppression and cultural genocide. These places were beautiful, but of all the Shadows in the Sea, the Ghost March Shadows were keenly aware that their environments were memories of something lost, which filled them with sadness and rage. Yet their priority was to preserve these memories, for they were more precious than anything.

The ruler of the Ghost March, known enigmatically as the Ghost Dancer, requested that F-22 did not record his appearance or other traits, which they seem to have honoured. They have, however, included a quote from him:
“Many places now exist only in dreams and so can only belong here. But dreams are power, and one day the dream of the waking world will stir, and the Ghost March will burst into reality and wipe it clean of murderers and colonisers. But I wouldn’t worry yourselves too much about that. We’re not like those Thule wankers. We’ll stay until the time is ready, and when it is, we’ll be liberators, not conquerors.”

Pantheorepublic of Atlantis

Ruler: The Senate and People of Atlantis
Type: Shadowland
Brief Description: Divisive Decaying Greco-Roman Democracy

The Pantheorepublic of Atlantis, or Atlantis for short, is an island-continent drawing on the myths of ancient Atlantis, said variably to be the size of the Roman Empire, the Alexandrian Empire or the Mediterranean in general. It sits at the bottom end of the Shallows. In a Sea full of Domains that act in various ways, from the conceptual to metaphysical, Atlantis is infamous for being trapped in a state of agonising statism. The defining trait of Atlantis is that it acts like a human nation-state and treats all over Domains as rival nation-states. It lacks even the fey, changeable and mysterious qualities of Avalon, which is otherwise similar. Several informal notes on Atlantis summarise it as:

“A bunch of assholes… Jerking off over the CIA World Factbook”

“The sort of people who get funny feelings in their stomachs when they read about Rome conquering people”

“Ancient Greek heroes are dickheads”

“Maybe the single pettiest polity the Sea has”

Atlantis’s Shadows are drawn from the myths of ‘Classical Antiquity’, which means Greece, Rome, Etruria, Phoenicia, and some Egyptian and Mesopotamian ones. The Shadows are thus spirits like nymphs, dryads, satyrs; monsters like chimera, manticores, and gorgons; heroes and heroines like Heracles, Hercules, or Bellerophon; and gods like Hera, Juno, Zeus, Jupiter, Mars or Ares.

And herein lies the first facet of the core problem of Atlantis. Hera is the Greek chief Goddess, and Juno is the Roman chief Goddess, but the Roman goddess is inspired and influenced by the Greek one and is much the same, with a few differences, and in turn were influenced by Mesopotamian and Hindu deities. Mars and Ares are both war gods, but the Roman Mars is a more dignified entity whilst Ares is more vicious. Yet in Atlantis, each of these is their own entity rather than being amalgamated into one. But many of these are boastful, jealous and do not brook comparison. The end result is that you have an entity highly similar in many ways to another entity… But to differentiate themselves, have become masters of emphasising their differences.

The second facet is the Atlantean political system, which is broadly confusing and full of laws and contradictions, but comes down to the following:

• All occupants of Atlantis are either citizens, freedmen or slaves.
• Citizens can vote. Freedmen can become citizens through different ways. Slaves can free themselves by making money.
• The Senate- the actual ruling power of Atlantis- is made up of the greatest figures of each pantheon, with the gods permanently seating in the Senate and the great heroes changing periodically.
• Every year, Atlantis elects two rulers, usually a Roman and a Greek, known either as ‘Consuls’ (for Roman spirits) or ‘Archons’ (for Greek ones). These are invariably two forms of the same deity- for example, if Mars is a consul, then Ares will be archon. The consuls organise ‘foreign policy’, the ‘economy’ and the ‘military’. At the end of the year, a Shadow cannot be elected to be Consul/Archon for another ten years.

Sounds simple enough, but here are some problems:

• Everyone tries to emphasise their differences.
• The two consuls/archons can veto each other, and frequently do, even though they broadly want the same things.
• No one knows how long a year is except the seasonal deities, but they quibble over minor differences, and so years are entirely arbitrary.
• The following laws do not change: Who can be consul/archon, how voting is conducted, the rights of a citizen, the permanent members of the Senate.
• Every other law changes within literal hours of a new consul/archon change. A slave who can free themselves with money under the Consulate of Hermes and Mercury can now only free themselves with gladiator sports under Mars and Ares. Who can serve in the military changes depending on whether it’s Jupiter/Zeus or Hades/Pluto in charge… So on and so forth.

Atlantean society is extremely developed at finding petty reasons to be better than the people most like you.

On very few occasions, a consul/archon will be chosen that aren’t the same deity (eg. Athena and Hera, or Mars and Mercury). In these occasions, invariably, Atlantis transforms into a unified, aligned state where genuine differences actually exist and can be debated about properly. Whenever this happens, Atlantis’s vast but disharmonious resources can be marshalled towards single goals, and their power is immense, enough to challenge the Shadow Market or Avalon on their own terms. But this happens so rarely as to almost be a myth in itself.

One of the few constants to Atlantis is that it is continually trying to expand its influence by forming alliances, protectorates and occupations of other Domains, much to the agitation of its neighbours.

Penglai

Ruler: The Eight Immortals
Type: Shadowland
Brief Description: Immortal Land run by Immortals and trapped in an Immortal Power Struggle
Penglai is a Domain that F-22 visited on numerous occasions, with mixed results. Penglai is a Domain in the Wholeness whose roots and many of its Shadows are drawn from East Asian legend- primarily Chinese, but also Vietnamese, Mongolian, Korean and Japanese- but in reality, the Shadows of the domain are defined by ideology moreso than culture, and so a mix of Shadows from various backgrounds reside here. That ideology is eternal life and eternal power. It is a vast realm, larger than the Shadow Market. Estimates put it between the size of Australia to the size of Russia.

The rulers of Penglai are the Eight Immortals, eight individuals who in Chinese legend were humans who found ways to transcend their human limits and live forever, whilst gaining special powers. That said, their rule is symbolic. The Eight Immortals do not involve themselves in Penglai’s affairs and, in fact, no one even knows where they are or what they’re doing. Instead, the actual administration of Penglai falls to an organisation known as the Ministry of Immortality.

Earlier it is noted that ideology of Penglai is eternal life and eternal power, and that is what defines the Shadows of Penglai- all of them wish to seek immortality. In fact, Penglai’s society is divided between the elite immortal caste of Shadows and the lesser mortal Shadows. How immortality is gained is a mystery, but Shadows that gain immortality in Penglai become powerful. They become freed from many needs, such as ‘eating’ or reaffirming their identity. They can be killed, but another Immortal can use a bit of their power to revive a dead Immortal, although the dead Immortal will be weaker than they used to be.

Penglai’s Shadow population are mostly mortal, but the Immortals hold all of the power and sway, and they seek to accumulate more power, either by subordinating mortals or taking it from other immortals. And this is the crux of Penglai: few of the immortal Shadows of Penglai sought immortality for its own sake, rather seeking it out of a desire for power; and so the needs of the immortals are so far removed from the mortals that the only threats they have are other immortals. Thus, the immortals are all absorbed in a game of competition against the other immortals, in which mortal Shadows are pawns.

Nonetheless, the allure of immortality draws huge numbers of Shadows to Penglai, giving Penglai a massive population. The Ministry of Immortality’s main duties are to manage the mortal population and to try to curate the spread of immortality- the immortal class hardly wanting competition. By and large the Ministry tries its best to keep the population looked after, if only because they know that should the population unify and rebel, then they would destroy the immortals all too easily.

Penglai is caught in an eternal power struggle between the Immortals, the chief of whom is known as the Prime Minister. All Immortals seem to aspire to become Prime Minister and gain absolute power. The Immortals all compete with one another, and eventually one will accumulate enough power to challenge the Prime Minister. When this happens, the Ministry of Immortality collapses and fragments into a handful of rival ministries, which ends only when one ministry has completely annihilated all overs. For a time, the new Ministry and Prime Minister spread and dominate Penglai, but eventually they realise that Penglai is too huge and populous to be managed without expansion of the Ministry. However, mortal Shadows aren’t powerful enough to be good ministers, thus the new members must be Immortals, many of whom will be old, dead immortals that are revived. Eventually the Ministry’s expansion leads to a dilution in power, and the Prime Minister’s power is defined by their ability to impose their will on the Immortal caste. Eventually, however, power spreads thin, the Prime Minister grows weak, and the Ministry fragments again.

Mortal ‘rebel’ movements spring up in Penglai but rarely go far. The Immortals are powerful enough to crush most small rebellions by themselves, and immortality is a powerful weapon. Those mortals who amass enough allies to threaten the elite will simply be offered immortality, and most abandon their followers to take it. In this way, any real threats to Penglai’s society are simply absorbed into the immortal caste. On a few occasions, however, rebel leaders have refused this, and true mortal revolutions have taken place, destroying the Ministry of Immortality. However, whenever this happens, the new rulers soon realise that managing Penglai without the power of the Immortals is practically impossible, and soon seek out that power, and become a new Ministry.

Zerzura

Ruler: Scheherazade
Type: Shadowland
Brief Description: ‘Fictopolis’, a place where stories are the topology; haven for polytheistic deities pushed out by monotheists
Zerzura is not a place that F-22 visited often, although they visited enough to meet some of the denizens and understood the nature of the place. Its actual physical scale was both unknown and also considered irrelevant.

Shadows are repressed and unwanted thoughts, emotions and memories, seen through the lens of human cultural experience, which compresses them into a certain icon or shape- hence why Shadows take on the forms of mythological beings. However, as culture changes, the nature of those shapes changes with the times. A Shadow in the form of a Mesopotamian spirit will have a very different meaning if that Shadow was created when those spirits were worshipped as gods than when they were demonised by the monotheists who supplanted them. However, Shadows are not mindless beings, and whilst some might allow themselves to change, many prefer to stay true to their original identities.

The Shadows whose identities are derived from ancient polytheistic or early monotheistic beliefs were hit especially hard by this. Whilst the deities of Greece, Rome, Egypt and Germania were preserved either in active belief or as secular touchstones, the ancient deities of western Asia- Mesopotamian, Levantine, Iranian gods- were heavily affected. Many were literally demonised by the monotheistic religions that came after them, especially Christianity and Islam, whilst just as many were simply forgotten about by most.

Zerzura exists as a haven for these Shadows. On arriving, Zerzura seems to be an endless plain of shifting desert sands with no landmarks at all. You can walk for a year and the very terrain will shift around you to ensure you end up where you started. To navigate Zerzura, you need to know the stories that make up that place. Every Shadow that resides in Zerzura has a story. If you learn the story, and recite it, you will finally start to see the hidden markers that tell you how to find that Shadow and their home. A story might reveal certain stars, by whose light you will be inevitably drawn a certain way, or blow dust out at a certain point allowing you to pass, slowly set the sun against a rain shower, creating a rainbow to follow. You cannot lose yourself if you follow the story, and there you will find the Shadow’s dwelling.

Retelling these stories is a way of memorialising and paying tribute to the origins of the Shadow, thus making it easier for them to maintain their core identities, whilst also protecting them from the disrespectful. However, these stories each refer to the stories of other Shadows, thus providing hints and allowing you to uncover the city of Zerzura through its community of stories.

This ‘road map of story’ is organised such that the most fragile and forgotten Shadows are the stories one hears first, and thus are the most popular stories. The more powerful and secure the Shadow, the less well known their story is. In fact, many of them are designed so that their stories begin only when told by someone within an existing story… Meaning you cannot see them without first paying story tribute to a lesser Shadow first. And since these powerful Shadows are sought out, the ‘traffic’ they bring empowers the Shadows whose stories ‘gatekeep’ their own.

No one knows the true shape of Zerzura, for none know all the stories, save its elusive Ruler, Scheherazade, the Storyteller.

Zerzura has little to do with the other Domains directly, although it probably has the most to do with the Shadow Market, as the crossover between memory trading and storytelling is obvious.

The Inevitable Machine

Ruler: Laplace’s Demon
Type: Unknown
Brief Description: Deterministic Nightmare Machine

The Inevitable Machine is a Domain that precious little is known about. Any Shadow with sense avoids the place. Indeed, although the Machine does not attack other Domains or engage in any of the mischief of, say, Avalon or Thule, of all the Domains in the Sea, the Inevitable Machine is the most feared. No Shadow who enters the Machine ever leaves, for it is impossible to escape from the Machine if it wishes to keep you there. The only exception, perhaps, are Evokers, but F-22 never tried, instead taking information from Krishna and others, which itself may still be inaccurate.

According to such reports, each Shadow lives within a small factory. Here they focus on producing goods or performing services, of which they do not understand the purpose. Their lives are unsatisfying, the work endless, and their overseers exhaust them. The least efficient is liquidated, and the most efficient is given a little extra privilege. Escape is thought of, but considered essentially impossible- yet some attempt it nonetheless. Most fail, but a rare few manage to escape. Those who do escape realise that the only chance of success lies in knowing when and how to sacrifice those around themselves, and to do so without letting the group as a whole realise what’s going on.

After emerging, they find that their factory is part of a larger network of factories and areas, all based around the product their factory produced, or similar to it. Now fugitives, the escapees must now work with fellow fugitives and corrupt overseers to gather the resources in order to escape this new, broader reality.

What they aren’t aware of is that this second, larger area is designed around the idea that some factory workers would escape. All of their attempts to escape are just in service of the Machine.

And so it continues. For each escape only leads to a larger, more complex area, yet one where one’s every move is subordinated to the Machine’s needs, for the Machine is inevitable and everything in it is also inevitable- and so can be predicted for.

Finally, the ultimate shape of the Machine is that of a wheel, with eight districts, each district dividing and dividing until finally one reaches the endless tiny factories. Even if someone does something unexpected or escapes a segment where they shouldn’t, this simply gives the Machine extra data to refine itself and improve. In this way, even the greatest of chaos, even mass destruction, simply allows the Machine to refine itself. In fact, it is believed that this escape protocol is also how the Machine recruits administrators and overseers- and that some, perhaps many, still believe they’re escaping, even though they’re now responsible for managing huge swathes of the very Machine they’re trying to escape. F-22 records that Atlantis once tried to invade the Machine, and the entire invasion was wiped out, never seen again, and although damage was inflicted, it was easily rebuilt and the design improved on.

Any Shadow that arrives at the Machine is subordinated into its needs. Some Domains thus use the Machine as a prison, exiling unwanted Shadows to it. Thus a great mismatch and melange of Shadows dwells within the Machine, although reports of ‘native’ Shadows suggests Shadows tied to fortune telling or prediction. This itself ties into the rumoured Ruler of the Machine, an intelligence known as Laplace’s Demon, which is named after a theoretical construct by Pierre-Simon Laplace, who posited that if a sufficiently vast intelligence were aware of the precise location and momentum of every atom in the universe, it could calculate the past and future configurations of those atoms, allowing it to predict with perfect certainly the entire past and future.

The Library of Endlings

Archetypes, Dream Theatres, Heeds

The Nature of Personas

The Velvet Room

Miasma and What to Do About It

Sea Rumours

Contacts

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