The Immortal Game
We need to clarify just a bit, when we say Realm what we really mean is The Titan itself.
The vast immaterial plain that makes up all ideas and purpose of that aspect.
For example Soki-no-kumi isn’t just dark and scary place, its the far side of the moon, the darkness of midnight, the inky black abysses of the ocean, the darkness that cloaks the monster under a child’s bed. It is the metaphorical darkness of your heart, as well as the literal darkness of your unexposed chest cavity. No light, figurative nor literal, exists in Soki-no-kumi.
The Greater Titan Akhetaten is a realm of eternal brightness crossing infinite variations of landscape. It encompasses the blinding fields of pure white snow (far more common before Ymir’s demise), the unfiltered crispness of light on a mountain’s summit, the relentless heat of the desert, the burning focus of a laser, the dancing light from bonfires and the glaring flame of an acetylene torch. Akhetaten’s interior is bare of life except near where the avatar Aten holds court. Anything more would threaten Aten’s unquestioned command of the Greater Titan’s realm in the Overworld.
This desolation often requires that visitors to Akhetaten endure weeks of varied terrain, blasted by light in all its forms, before encountering any entity of consequence. When they encounter a creature in this realm, it means they’re nearing Aten. It doesn’t mean the challenge is over, just that the challenge is changing. Any creature who does not already belong to Aten (such as raiding Gods) is brought before him in supplication.
How visitors deal with that is up to them.
The Drowning Road
No ocean’s depths have ever crushed as the Drowned Road does. It embodies all that is deep, suffocating and isolating about the ocean. A fraction of Akhetaten’s fury trickles into the Drowned Road’s deep waters; the ocean glimmers with light only to the monstrous inhabitants of the Greater Titan that are otherwise blind. To most, it is darker than the jungle on a cloudy night.
The Drowned Road’s depths are without end, and the pressure all inhabitants feel is incomparable, much greater than anything in the World. Bubbles of air might float upward, whichever direction that is, but the pressure crushes them to the point of being so infinitesimal that no one sees them. Only Scions with Epic Perception can detect the any changes in the constant, crushing pressure. That sensation changes gradually and unpredictably enough that swimming consistently “up” is impossible—a result of Brownian motion at work within the Greater Titan.
There is no ocean floor to rest one’s feet upon; there is no surface to break through and take that needed breath. Respite from the eternal pressure can be found only by leaving the Titan’s realm. Eddies and pressure changes brush or push swimmers, often making them think there might be something approaching from an unwatched direction. Everything is undertow, and a fierce current can sweep an intruder half a mile away before his companions know he’s gone. Vast shadows swim just out of sight in the dim light, tricks of the water or submarine behemoths looking for a snack.
This Greater Titan represents the first home of every Scion: the World. There is no easy way to symbolize something as vast and varied as Earth and its mundane heavens, so Terra doesn’t. It simply isthem. The realm renders every natural aspect of the World. Unliving aspects are identical and to scale. Even when bound away, Terra maintained an unbreakable link with its creation and always represented it without flaw.
The difference between the two locations is the focus on nature. Nature is strong enough in Terra to exclude all else. Therefore, the Titan realm lacks people and all things made by them. No mortals wander its plains, and no cities dot its rivers and valleys. The signsof humanity are there, though. Mining causes deepening holes in mountains. Large, barren plains lie where cities should sit. Brown arteries cross nations where roads and rails are in the World proper.
Apart from Terra’s refusal to acknowledge the World’s mortal inhabitants, its portrayal of Earth’s landscape is accurate. Where natural animals reign in the World, in this Greater Titan they dominate. Where Earth’s flora and fauna possess bastions against intrusion, such as the rainforests and deep jungles, Terra possesses fortresses
Muspelheim is a different sort of hot than Akhetaten The Titan of Light is a dry, constant heat that bears down on the inhabitants without respite until they wither away into dust. In contrast, Muspelheim is a raging chaotic heat. If the omnipresent fires let up for one moment, it’s only to redouble their fury in the next.
Fire composes this Greater Titan. Everything is aflame, seeking more fuel to consume. Anything that isn’t burning smolders with restrained combustion Volcanoes dribble streams of lava that combine into rivers, bridged by structures of smoking coal Muspelheim’s clouds are vast accumulations of smoke through which a single star is sometimes visible. Ash falls from the sky like snow. Coal, coke, sodium and slow-burning powders make up most of the realm’s earthworks, including the roads and buildings where fire giants live. Despite the burning, such structures never diminish and serve as ideal construction materials.
As fire is at the root of much invention, Muspelheim is an industrialized realm. Engines fed with coal drive heavy machines that simplify the inhabitants’ lives and magnify their efficiency many times. War machines roll through the coal fields, moving up to join the forces besieging Asgard. Unlike industrial technology in the World, Muspelheim uses smoke and the Legend, rather than steam, to build up pressure and run its engines. This obviates the need for water, an element that disappears quickly on the rare occasions someone introduces it to the realm. In addition to the tanks and cannon the smoke engines make available to the military, they also power mining drills, lava pumps and the black-iron trains that run on a strict schedule between cities and military bases. These developments are all new since the Titans’ first imprisonment and the inhabitants attribute their great success to a brilliant fire giant called Forge-Cunning.
Mechane is a sub-realm inside Muspelheim just on the board of terra, often Muspelheim and Terra factions wage war over the raw power of Machina but to date there is no clear winner in these skirmishes but so far the Fire Giants and Cyclops are the only ones that have managed to figure out how to work the forge.
Captured within the underworld, Soku-no-Kumi is no longer a direct threat to the Gods. Nonetheless, avatars within this Greater Titan still influence the war through those of its followers and titanspawn who remain free of imprisonment. Further, Scions may still travel to Soku-no-Kumi through Atlantis.The interior of the Greater Titan of Darkness is oppressive. It’s more than a lack of light, it’s an absence of sight. Seeing does not function here, even with the benefit of Boons for seeing in the dark.
In Soku-no-Kumi, all people are blind. Navigation occurs through hearing, touch and smell. Even then, sounds are dampened. The echoes are weak. A perceptual gulf occupies the space between each feature of the terrain and the next, making movement uncertain and dangerous.
Natives to Soku-no-Kumi navigate perfectly, using senses unknown to mortals or Gods. The lungs of some inhabitants serves as their trophies; when consumed, they allow a person to breathe the same awareness of Soku-no-Kumi as the natives do. The sixth sense that trophy bestows is unlike sight, but precise enough for accurate navigation and to negate the penalties that being in Soku-no-Kumi levies on combatants.
Traveling within Soku-no-Kumi without consuming the lungs of particular inhabitants is difficult. The terrain is rough and irregular, making attempts to navigate based on the reasonable placement or shape of things doomed to fail. Leading one’s steps with the tapping of a stick or crawling on one’s belly like a worm is safe, but it’s far from heroic. Tossing stones or uttering clicks and navigating based on the echoes that return is more fantastic, but also sometimes fails (see “Chasms of Void”). Creative Scions are sure to come up with yet more methods for getting around Soku-no-Kumi without tripping over pebbles or falling into holes.
The landscape in Soku-no-Kumi consists of all things concealed and hidden in darkness. Caverns and tunnels that have never seen daylight make up much of the Greater Titan. Blind creatures grow to monstrous sizes here: monstrous moles burrow through the ground, and blind deep-sea fish inhabit inky underground lakes. Even away from the eponymous forest (see below), organs sprout from the roots of white mushrooms that grow upward from the ground or pierce downward from cavern ceilings. Rivers of oil and veins of ore are everywhere. Voids interrupt the landscape periodically, always infinitely deep yet circumnavigable.
The Greater Titan of Sky is a hurricane stronger and larger than any seen on Earth. As a metaphysical realm, the eternal storm occupies greater volume than the entire globe, all without a speck of solid land. Possessing or borrowing flight Boons is necessary for any visitors who cannot fly naturally. Mechanical substitutes, such as hang gliders, suffice in the hands of a skilled user (a Scion of the Dodekatheon with several dots of relevant Arete might do) but are still terribly risky.
Vast bands of hurricane-speed winds make up Ehekatoyaatl, like thousands of the World’s jet streams but wider, faster and full of smaller streams. Each is several miles wide and has its own path through the Greater Titan, never ending but merging with other streams or splitting into multiples, like a series of freeways made from wind. All together, these jet streams are a Gordian Knot of passages many times more complex than the most fiendish mortal cloverleaf.
Eyes dot the storm-realm, bastions of calm air created for the Titan’s avatars or their titanspawn. Clouds form palaces and fortresses here, made firm with solid wind, providing respite for weary fliers. They also serve as mustering grounds for the avatars’ war on the Atzlánti, or on each other. Hundreds of miles of jet streams connect these redoubts, making them necessary stops for any creature without much Epic Stamina.
To the Tuatha and their children, Crom Cruach is everything ill and foul in the world. In many ways, he represents the polar opposite of the Tuatha: He is the World in winter, the earth as a place of death and stagnation without any life save that which promotes rot. This Titan is the madness of the dark and of isolation, a place in which all that is bright is extinguished and made soiled. The Morrigan’s wintery aspects are of fertility past its prime or the points in time between cycles of fecundity; the barrenness of Crom Cruach, on the other hand, is all-encompassing and eternal.
Crom Cruach is called the Maggot God because the creeping, squirming things beneath the earth are born of him. The old tribes were cautious when digging in the earth because they knew that, if they dug deep enough, they would find the pale whiteness of Crom Cruach waiting there. Though Crom Cruach is a fallow force, he has many servants. These are not birthed in the way that other Titans create their spawn. Crom Cruach prefers to corrupt where he can, sucking away fecundity and creativity the way a sponge soaks up water and leaving only dry hate and contempt for the living things.
Now that the great Crom Cruach is no longer imprisoned in the deep places of the Underworld, he has risen and laid siege to Tír na nÓg. His terrible bulk stinks of caustic, chemical fumes antithetical to growing things. The very soil becomes sandy and chalky and produces only horrors that hate the Children of Danu
Over the millennia, the Celestial Bureaucracy has faced and fought many Titans. Their greatest battle came when Gonggong broke the sky: The Gods fought the Black Dragon of Soku-no-Kumi, the floods of the Drowned Road, the monstrous beasts of Terra and the fires of Muspelheim all at once — and won. The Chinese Gods do not fear these Titans. But who gave Gonggong, formerly a minor God, the power to rend Pangu’s handiwork and open the way to these Titans’ forces? Only Hundun, whom the Shen call the first Titan, the blind lord of the chaos from whence all things came, and who seeks to draw all things back into its formless abyss.
The Gods themselves can explain Hundun only through metaphor. Some Gods describe Hundun as a faceless giant, blind, deaf and mute, fumbling at the walls of reality in search of a crack with which to tear them apart. Others call Hundun a black, storm-tossed ocean without a shore. Such poetic fancies fail to capture the truth of Hundun, whose defining feature is its lack of defining features. There is one way to see Hundun directly, though: Ask a God of Chaos to become The Void. That mind-shattering view into everything and nothing is a window on Hundun.
To the extent that Hundun wants anything, it wants to unmake Pangu’s creation. The sages of Heaven believe Hundun even wants to unmake the other Titans, though it may help them enter the shaped Worlds as a way to weaken the Gods. After all, most Titans define themselves quite narrowly: Akhetaten is Light, Ehekatoyaatl is Air and so on, with minimal admixture of other elements and principles. Hundun is all of these, and none. The only powers that seem beyond the reach of Hundun and its servants are Prophecy for asserting an inevitable progression of time and causality; Justice for asserting a moral and social order; and Guardian for asserting a trustworthy connection between oneself and other creatures.
Other pantheons find Titans physically encroaching on their Godrealms, absorbing their substance while giants and monsters emerge from the Titan’s body to attack them. The Celestial Bureaucracy face only minor threats of this sort. It doesn’t matter. Hundun doesn’t operate that way. The Elder Chaos gibbers in the Gods’ dreams and whispers in their hearts when they argue. Hundun is the mad impulse, the word you wish you hadn’t said, the desire you barely dare to acknowledge. Without words, the Titan speaks to the angry, the obsessive and everyone who hates the World for being itself instead of an extension of their will. Hundun promises Gods and Scions that they can make the World a mirror that reflects only themselves.
That’s a big temptation for a God. Wielding such power, it can be hard to accept that you still need to get along with other Gods. But… what if you had truly ultimatepower? No more rules to follow, no more fear of consequences, no more crap from other Gods. Just submit to Hundun, become its vessel and break the World.
In the minds and hearts of the Devas, nothing is more deadly to everything they hold true than Vritra. Where they are the first swallow of water after a long battle, he is the last gasp of empty lungs from a dying warrior. The Devas effuse life like the Ganges River itself and Vritra greedily drinks life until there is nothing left. Vritra is never sated.
This Titan is the desiccated shell of a long-dead beetle, the baking sun on a cracked, dried riverbed. Nothing escapes its sight, nothing escapes its thirst. Kali represents rebirth through destruction—the beneficial rebirth that the Devas adhere to. Vritra represents an end to life that operates outside of this order—the reduction of everything into a cavernous, gluttonous stomach.
Vritra is known as the Great Thirst because it represents all that are wanting: greed, self-preservation, destruction. Wise mortals did not venture far into the desert because they knew the madness that such thirst brings—an all-consuming and unquenchable thirst that trumps all other feelings and turns a man into a shadow of himself. Life cannot exist in such an environment for long Whatever Vritra comes in contact diminishes both physically and spiritual from its mere presence, such is the extent of the Enveloper’s greed for life. An undeniable force, Vritra was never truly imprisoned like many other Titans. Instead it retreated into itself, its mountain sized body diminishing after being defeated and retreating into a form so small it escaped the notice of the Gods themselves. Burrowing deep back within the earth, Vritra inevitably begins its feeding ritual again as the land above replenishes from its previous gorging.
The Devas are just beginning to hear tidings of his return: increased sightings of rakhashas, a terrible drought in an unusual place and sacred trees beginning to whither and die. Wherever Vritra’s vast body slithers its blood, the extracted and polluted excrement of whatever he consumes, oozes out of its body and sometimes turns into an offspring, the only “creation” of Vritra.
Not every Titan is a dangerous entity. While not actively trying to destroy the world, they still can’t be call friendly either, and certainly aren’t siding with the gods.
The titan of order is strange beast. Order is no free thought, only homogenized prosperity. Everything has a place, rigidly set into place. Order has no waste, order has no variance, and order has no conflict.
Logos is a steel city built on flat concrete. The streets are all even numbered for East-West streets while North-South streets are odd numbered. Every Block has one building that stretches up 42 stories. every floor is exactly 8 feet tall, 10 without the drop ceiling. All buildings have no windows. All lights are a neutral white. The city of logos also has no birds, no children playing and no traffic. It is quiet, productive city, never ceasing in its endless, clockwork labor.