Transcendence

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Background

What if myth was real? What if it was the description of empires long lost, the attempts of those who did not understand looking upon an interstellar empire, vast and majestic, that the ignorant storywriters could only comprehend in bronze age terms? What if myth was science fiction?

Transcendence is inspired by fictional works such as Ilium and Olympos by Dan Simmons, as well as the game Too Human and so forth. Seeing that I am not actually some multitalented mythological scholar I will probably fuck a lot of things up here so be forgiving.

Cosmology

The Axis Mundi

The "World Pillar" is a powerful system, a mighty megastructure used to allow the gods their power to interface with the underlying fabric of reality, the machines placed there by the creation of the universe. Without the Axis Mundi, the miracles of the gods would fail, and they would be left merely with technological trappings. This layer is the root of divinity, the "godhead".

It is via the Axis Mundi that feats that the finest mundane craftsmen and scholars cannot comprehend or attempt are born out of. From the biological Dyson Sphere of Yggdrasil to Olympus Station to Fortress Kailash, these seats of power are extremely well defended by mighty fleets and servitors with powers beyond imagining... and the gods themselves.

The Underworld

The machinery which grants the gods their power also stores the minds of those who are born in the universe, keeping them accessible for later use. A very few gods and goddesses have gained the power to alter the simulations which these dead are stored in, creating paradises for the dead, or horrific punishing hells. Normally, this machinery is used merely for reincarnation of the worthy and the purification of the unworthy, but the ability to manipulate the underworld is a potent tool for those few gifted with it.

Deities

The touch of the godhead brings many benefits past the ability to call on it for miracles. Near immortality, superhuman ability in every aspect, wounds that heal quickly, and so forth. Divinities are, even with minimal enhancement save their requisite genetic augmentation and the framework cybernetics which allow them to interface with their Axis Mundi across interstellar distances, are far more powerful than even the most highly augmented supersoldiers wrought by mortal hands. Gods are some of the most powerful creatures to walk the galaxy, often equal to entire armies in war and capable of causing untold devastation or giving untold boons. The only factor which keeps them under control is the populace appeasing their desires, and the difficulty in making a new god. As much art as science, divinity cannot be granted easily.

However, deities are not immune to hubris... and the power of the gods corrupts very well.

Powers

All deities inherit the same powers. They are fantastically strong and tough, nearly immune to poison or disease, and capable of working powerful magical miracles. They can alter their body by accessing the godhead, giving them a limited form of shapeshifting that they often use to disguise themselves when they wish to walk the worlds they control. Their wounds heal quickly due to their connection, and they do not age. The godhead is as much computer and storage medium as it is a method to create miracles, giving them long-lasting memory. The fog of years does not encroach on the divine.

They are, however, not quite immortal. Deities can be slain, with great effort and powerful weapons.

Prayer

Prayer is not mere appeasement, although for some particularly cruel gods their followers only pray in fear. Prayer allows the god or goddess in question to use the energy your body creates, allowing them to work greater feats by using the godhead as a transmission medium rather than leeching power from their great but limited allowance. Due to the brittle balance between the major gods and goddesses and their petty fights, many undeclared wars and divine competitions are fought over prayer rights.

The Precepts

To keep the civilized world from descending into an orgy of mutual destruction, the pantheons have adopted a few precepts out of mutual self-interest. Most of them relate to the gods proper due to their great destructive power, and are part of the reason why they tend to use pawns rather than act directly.

Underworld Sovereignty
It is forbidden for immortals to steal souls pledged to an underworld that is not their own. These souls are used for various purposes, and "stealing" them is frowned upon, for the gods often have designs for these souls, whatever they might be. Although there is a "Soul market" for the souls of the dead, this has not stopped pantheons from participating in a little bit of subtle, or not-so-subtle, theft.

Divine Noninterference
It is not the task of an immortal to intervene in the internal affairs of a pantheon and its own issues. The Hashmalahan pantheon and the Celestial Bureaucracy of Tian may disapprove of the chaos of Hellas or Marduk and their squabbling gods, but it is not their job to interfere. Wars between gods can often cause undue collateral damage, after all, and out of the chance of losing billions of worshipers and light-years of territory from such disagreements has made the divinity at least superficially respectful of their brethren. In practice though, subtle interference is often shrugged off, and only gross acts of divine power are considered to be an abuse-the gods constantly wheel and deal to increase their followers, amongst each other and amongst themselves, weaving plots ranging from the subtle to the violent in nature. Another, slightly more troublesome precept of this is that, if a deity cuts themselves off from their Axis Mundi, and decides to conquer all of humanity, the gods are not allowed to intervene. Upheld because of ancient standards of behavior, there are numerous ways around this situation.

Mundane Noninterference
In theory, the divine should not intervene in the acts of other nations. In practice, if every precept was violated as often as this one, the civilized galaxy would be a hotbed of chaos. Gods and goddesses with grudges often use other pantheons' mortals as pawns, at least as often as they use their own followers to enact such revenge. It is not unheard of, albeit rare, for gods to bless the mortals of another empire, especially if the mortal in question is particularly capable and therefore worth courting.

In Practice

In practice, the precepts tend to be violated quite often. Even without directly acting, a god can exert enormous influence via scions, lesser immortals, or his already-extant worshipers on an unaligned people, and other means of coercion. This does require them to have champions who are not bound by social more and divine law to act on their behalf, champions strong enough to change the fates of billions.

Which is where you come in. Heroes often act for the gods via proxy, accomplishing tasks the gods themselves are unwilling or incapable of doing themselves.

Paradigm

All deities share a few general abilities through the form of their Axis Mundi, but the differing designs and differing personalities and enhancements of the gods alter the form and type of miracles they can call upon. A god of life may scour a world clean of civilization still, but he or she would do it via nanoplague or genetic material breakdown, rather than calling on the brute force of planetary superstorms or outright destroying cities with nuclear-yield strategic strikes.

Lesser Spirits

The connection to the godhead and the Axis Mundi fades as generations and distance pass, but there are those who can access it for miracles which may be minor but are no less defiant of the order mortals seek to place on the universe. These lesser spirits, no matter what name they go by, can still channel some of miracle. They may not be capable of directly saving or damning worlds, but via their adventures, they can do so.

These lesser godlings are powerful in their own way, but much more on the scale of mortal man and his works. Many are lesser administrators, basking in worship and gifts and attention in exchange for keeping the weather on a planet balmy, healing the sick, or keeping a people safe from attack. Uncountable in number unlike the relative handful of greater divinities, Nymphs, Valkyries, Asuras, Devas, and so forth generally find themselves far closer to mortals and more humanized because of it.

Inherent Abilities

All lesser spirits have a handful of inherent abilities besides for their superhuman ability and connection to the Godhead.

Minor Shapeshifting: All lesser spirits can shapeshift to some extent to disguise their aspect, dependent on what they are. A Dryad might turn into a tree, while an animal spirit could possibly disguise itself as an animal, while Asuras and Devas can blend like Scions.

Minor Miracles: Dependent on their aspect, lesser spirits have the ability to constantly effect extremely minor miracles. These are basically parlor tricks-teleporting cards from one hand to another, lighting a fire without the use of flint or a lighter, being resistant to extremes of temperature, pressure, and so forth. These miracles are minor, but convenient.

Divine Fire: As creatures of divinity, lesser spirits are biologically immortal and do not suffer from many of the same problems humans do. Several types do not even need to eat or drink to survive, powered by their own exotic metabolisms.

Scions

The sons and daughters of gods and goddesses, of which there are many, inherit a weakened form of their parent's connection via their lesser framework implants. Their powers are weaker, and their divine blood not as potent, but their ability is still to be reckoned with. Roughly equivalent to moderately powerful lesser spirits, they inherit many advantages from their birth, and are often groomed to be heroes who can save worlds... or damn them.

Inherent Abilities

All Scions have several abilities they inherit from their parents.

Blending: Although the gods can shapeshift more drastically, changing size and form at a whim, Scions do not inherit such powerful ability. They can, however, change form to some extent, disguising themselves via relatively minor alterations to their form. Even gender alteration is possible, although a female Scion who transforms into a male will be a very feminine man unless she's normally a masculine woman. Although normally used for disguise, particularly flashy Scions have used it to give themselves utterly improbable combinations of hair, skin, and eye color to stand out more.

Exemplar: Scions look like they're the top of the heap. They rarely have any imperfections, any scars they possess will generally be cosmetic, they don't need any makeup or preening to look their best, and so on. There are Scions with incredible ugliness, but they generally inherit that from their parents and are normally fairly rare.

Divine Fire: Scions are almost immune to disease, poison, and age. They are biologically immortal, do not suffer as much in hot or cold climates, fatigue far slower than humans of equivalent physical ability, have near-infinite memory capacity, and other minor beneficial traits with no explicit game-mechanical support but are useful nonetheless.

Worlds

Hellas

Hellas is a loose confederation of varied city-states which is ruled over by a fractured, squabbling pantheon of gods and goddesses. Although more apt to interfere in the works of mortals than the deities of other factions, this has not proven to notably increase standards of living, as the gods and goddesses of Hellas are poor caretakers and spend much of their time with petty squabbles. Similarly, the confederation is often divided and indecisive, and Hellas, although wealthy, advanced, and powerful, fails to become a dominant superpower due to its internal divisions.

Hellas originally went to war with the TITANs, inscrutable machine intellects, but has mostly won the war against them, pushing the enemy back to the resource-poor Tartarus Sector. This relative peace has allowed the gods to split into constant feuding, and the loose structure of the confederation does little to keep the gods from playing favorites.

Athenai

According to its citizens, Athenai is the most advanced and enlightened state in Hellas. According to its critics, Athens is the most mysogynistic and dysfunctional state in the confederation. Both are entirely correct. At once, Athenai is a leader in research and development, a wealthy nation with an excellent educational system which has been responsible for many legendary scholars, and heavily regressive, giving women few rights and suffering greatly from its system of direct democracy. Its citizens are jingoistic and nationalistic, despite (or perhaps because) of their educations. Athenai is extremely powerful, although not as famed for warriors as some of its cousins, and uses its immense economic might to feed its expansionistic policies, raising large and mighty armies and navies.

Lacedaemon

Also known as Sparta, Lacedaemon is a highly militarized survivalist state that holds together via strength of arms and a genetic tier system which rates persons from 'Spartiates' (full citizens) to the 'helots', who have minimal freedoms and few rights. Spartan citizens all undergo intensive military training and genetic therapy from youth, making them the best warriors and soldiers known in the lands of Hellas.

The Spartan military is a brittle instrument though, due to its intensive standards, and is only very carefully applied.

Amazon Worlds

The Amazon civilisation at its height occupied about a dozen worlds, however those days are past. Now, following a series of wars with the Dorian these worlds are under occupation by large Hellenic armies. Resistance has not ceased however and despite their high technology and warrior ethic the Greeks suffer a steady stream of causalities.

Thermodon

Once the capital world of the Amazons, Thermodon is home to Themescria the former capital. Subsequent to Theseus's abduction of Hippolyta and the battle with Hercules much of the city was ruined, both by the results of the battle and then by greek aerospace strikes in the war that followed. The city is now used as an administrative capital for the occupation army, and is slowly being restored by the greeks and local populations who have either submitted or been enslaved.

All is not well even in the capital however, and Greek patrols even in the city suffer frequent ambushes and bomb attacks.

Other areas of Thermodon are also under occupation, but there has been a degree of squabbling among the various Greek contingents and continued resistance by guerrilla bands makes this occupation a tentative thing, especially in the hinterlands.

Scythae

One of the most populous Amazon worlds, large areas of Scythae remain outside the control of Hellenic forces due to lack of troops and difficulty matching the amazons' mobility. The Dorian have so far been content to control major population centres and extract goods from the local population, though at times political imperatives and the need to prevent missile strikes or attack guerrilla bases drives them out into the wilds. Amazon forces have also been known to raid city garrisons. This has led to occasional fierce clashes.

It is believed that the amazons still have some quantity of old military equipment stashed out in the wilds, and there are repeated, though unsubstantiated reports of gunships supporting the guerrillas

Kosala

Kosala is a unified empire which occasionally sees attacks, whether direct, informational, or unconventional, by the Nagas. With the gods primarily occupied dealing with the threat, lesser immortals in Kosala have an unusually wide purview and extreme freedom to act, making mortal-Deva or mortal-Asura interactions rather common, as compared to in other powers. To secure its territory, Kosala has a large fleet to defeat Naga incursions and to deal with local uprisings or other crises.

Midgard

Midgard is a monarchy ruled by the Aesir and Vanir from Asgard Station. Originally two disunited empires, the two united after the tragedies and losses of the Aesir-Vanir war. Midgard itself is currently in a Cold War situation with the Jotun, and has stockpiled a significant strategic arsenal in the event that relations with the Jotun degrade into open war. The Aesir are heavily militarized and have banded together into a functional royal court due to the external pressure, but only time will tell if this is sufficient for victory in a potential apocalyptic war.

The people of Midgard, on the other hand, are relatively ignorant of the situation and of the predictions of Case RAGNAROK, and go about their business as their ancestors did-trading, exploring, and occasionally raiding and conquering nearby worlds.

Valhalla Station

Valhalla Station is heavily connected to the Underworld, in that it stores the souls of the heroic dead for use in Case RAGNAROK. Here, the uncountable souls of the worthy dead are reborn in ageless, tireless machine bodies, fighting day and night in VR drill and relaxing when mortal men would need sleep via various entertainments from the refined to the debauched. These warriors are extreme veterans, often with decades of combat experience and centuries of drill experience, honing warfare to an art form. Their bodies are the most advanced non-divine technology the Aesir can provide, high-grade militarized combat chassis with few equals.

Valhalla orbits the beautiful vacation planet of Glasir, which is famed for its golden-leafed trees. Travel between the planet and the station is facilitated by the Prism Space Elevator, a shaft of super-duty crystal that carries cars across the great distance.

Jotunheim

The home of the Giants, Jotunheim can be considered to share territory with Midgard, though it's a seperate nation. Jotun planets are extremely hostile, their environments unsuited to most life. Only the synthetic Giants can survive there without heavy-duty equipment and safeguards.

Marduk

Marduk considers itself one of the oldest civilizations in the galaxy, and considers the other empires mere successors at best. It is true, the other powers are successors to Marduk's glories, for the empire itself is not growing as fast as the others and has not been for centuries. The insular gods and goddesses of Marduk's pantheon rule over a small empire of their own with the humans as subservient near-slaves, and although trade and cooperation exist, the situation is such that the rulers of Marduk can see their glory declining and are desperate to hold on. Raids by the resurrected Tiamat entity do not help manners either.

Marduk invests especially heavily in its scions and heroes, hoping that they may be able to work the miracles that will catapult their decadent empire-in-decline back into an unassailable position of strength.

Tian

The Empire of Tian is a unified bureaucratic state, with all of its provinces reporting to a heavenly bureaucracy answerable to the Jade Emperor. Large yet unified, the Empire of Tian is still recovering from a war with hostile forces which penetrated all the way to Kun-Lun and nearly shattered the empire, and the gods spend much of their time administrating the recovery.

However, for all that it is damaged, its unity and size give it incredible potential and its neighbors look warily at the heavenly bureaucracy and any potential expansionist moves it might make.

The 108 Schools

Magic Kung Fu Monasteries!

The Jade Emperor

The Jade Emperor resides in the Kun-Lun Axis Mundi as a wise and benevolent emperor of all. Uncomfortable rumors, though, exist that he was never a man, just a figurehead, and his existence is solely as a Chinese Room-he does not truly exist, his actions created solely from the grinding of the gears of the heavenly bureaucracy. Few have seen his august personage, and those who have are keeping their lips sealed about the situation.

Hashmalah

A world of exotic mystery and exotic peoples, facing down the threat of annihilation against Ahriman. The lord of its pantheon, Ormazd, is a non-human-originating artificial intellect, like its brother system Ahriman. Although it speaks little about its origins and the goals of its AI brethren, it has found itself remarkably resistant to the corruptive ability of its nigh-unlimited power and has kept the Yazata from the gross abuses of their brothers and sisters.

Hashmalah is remarkably prosperous and open for a empire under siege because of it, where the gods are granted worship out of more respect than fear, more gratitude than obligation. However, universal conscription and the constant encouragement of subliminal propaganda are grim reminders that whereas most other powers only must deal with occasional raids by barbarians and machine life, Hashmalah is faced with an enemy bent on their destruction.

KAF Construct

The KAF Construct is the home of the Djinn, the City of Brass and Flame. The city is a gigantic Dyson Sphere, seemingly made entirely of polished brass. The inner surface is completely covered by city-scape, massive bronze skyscrapers rising towards the red sun that beats down mercilessly on the reflective structures. Humans and other creatures without natural resistances must wear protective encounter suits to survive outside of specially-moderated environmental domes, which either consist of giant Immigrant Districts or special sections of the most wealthy citizen's homes.

Most residents of KAF are Djinns, though many possessed mortal indentured, and there are several kinds of being that find their way into the fiery construct. The city is heavily libertarian, with individual enterprise a religion - the only order that isn't private security forces are the Sultan's Guard, who enforce district borders and prevent severe damage to the city. The Sultan, a Djinn of fantastic power, rules the city with the assistance of thousands of minor spirits and intelligences bound to his massive palace, the core server of the mainframe. Augmented reality permeates the city, with all information available at a thought to the magical residents, and every bizarre desire can be filled if one has money or services to trade, and one can survive.

Vistula

Vistula is a vast area of space, inhabited by many tribes and small nations, but few empires of meaningful size; there is no central authority that would command the scattered Veneti people, and the gods have accepted this state of affairs, being content to remain mostly distant from the daily affairs of their worshippers.

The Veneti inhabiting it are commonly viewed as raiders, and there is a lot of truth in it; the most common system of government is war democracy, rule by the warriors and their chosen chieftain, who would much rather try to take the many riches of Hellas, Marduk or Tian than work to create their own. Well-equipped and battle-hardened Veneti warbands are widely considered a blight in the other regions of space – when they aren’t warring against each other, at least.

Nevertheless, for all their inner conflicts and disunity, the many people of Vistula do self-identify as the Veneti and share a common culture; two warriors fighting against each other will usually worship the same gods, observe the same customs and wage war the same way. Occasionally, a particularly powerful chieftain can carve out an larger nation for himself and his descendants, though it’s rare for them to consist of more than a couple planets at most, and yet rarer for them to survive the death of their ruler. Out of those, two used to be the most powerful – the nations of Polans and Rus. By now, however, the two have fragmented and descended into civil war, turning into over a dozen separate states each, closer to being power and tribal blocks than genuine star-nations nowadays.

The Polans

While they cover a fairly small territory, especially compared to the gigantic Rus, their planets are usually very well-developed by Veneti standards, with many grads, strong garrisons and developed infrastructure. Even now that the country has fallen apart, its leftover states are powerful in their own right, and managed to prove to many a punitive expedition sent by the victims of their raids that they should not be underestimated.

They are also those who have deployed the now-infamous Hussar orbital cavalry armor for the first time before the rest of the Veneti followed suit with their own versions, and to this day Polan chieftains maintain significant forces of them in their druzhinas.

The Rus

The Rus tribes and successor nations cover a very large area of space; the result of an exceptionally skilled and capable ruler, who managed to create a unified Rus nation. However, it, too, eventually shattered, succession issues having tore it apart.

While it would be incorrect to say that the Rus successor states are truly weaker than those of the Polans, they are usually more thinly spread, with less developed individual worlds and smaller, though more numerous, garrisons, forced to cover larger territories. Because of this, the Rus tend to use large numbers of fast and light ships and troops, capable of rapid deployment and launching lighting-fast attacks, unlike the more heavy unit-focused combat doctrine of the Polans, making them some of the most fearsome and capable raiders in all of Vistula.

Interesingly enough, they are on surprisingly good terms with Midgard, one of the old and most successful Rus kings being a former Midgard hero that fell in love with a Rus princess and settled down. While not all Rus successor states honor this, it is still the safest area for Gotarling traders in all of Vistula, a fact that they frequently make good use of.

Glossary of common Vistulan terms

Grad – a highly fortified city; some indeed resemble fortresses more than urban centres. They are the centres of life and industry in Vistula, protecting their citizens with numerous anti-orbital and anti-air weapons and sheltering whole garrisons. Virtually every tribe or nation has at least one, even if a small one.

Druzhina – a detachment of specially selected, veteran troops, serving as personal bodyguards of the ruler and the core of his army; the elite of Veneti military forces. The strenght of a druzhina is usually a good indication of the status, power and wealth of its chieftain.

Corab – a local name for a starship; it refers to both civilian and military ships.

Other Stuff

Possibly a small Egypt land (Amen?) and various barbarian worlds.

Vaguely Antagonistlike Groups

The enemies of the gods, such that they are "enemies", are not so much hostile as they are under a state of diplomatic breakdown. Fights break out, but total war is generally not an immediate threat. The difference between them and the gods is generally that they aren't as human.

The TITANs

The mystery of where the TITANs went is finally solved. Firewall can rest easy!

Yes, the Total Information Tactical Awareness Network exists. No, nobody knows what they are save for that. All everyone knows is that they're related but not the administrators of the godhead (if they were, they wouldn't have lost). Their access to the godhead though is equal to that of the gods, and although the deities networked to Mount Olympus won their original skirmish with them, they have stayed rather quiet past that.

Nobody has seen the TITANs take physical form. Divine scholars have considered that they may be a hypothetical networked, or possibly even post-physical, intelligence.

The Weapons of the TITANs

The TITANs as a distributed swarm intelligence use a variety of drones, humanoid, nonhumanoid, and completely odd, in their battles. Examples include Hekatonchires-class fractal bushbots, Karkinos-variant combat arachnids, and apparently semi-unique weapons systems such as the Hydra, the Nemean Lion, and the two battlestations Scylla and Charybdis.

The Giants

The Fire and Frost Giants are another machine race which dwells in incredibly hostile environments. The gods of Midgard have, in their latest strategic projection, Case RAGNAROK, predicted that in the event of war without foreign assistance on either side, approximately 99.5% of all assets, mundane and divine, will be annihilated in the conflict. Needless to say, very few of them want this case to come to pass. The relation between the Jotun and the Aesir have warmed in the centuries since their last conflicts, and now they are at relative peace, although tensions are still elevated.

Giant Minions

The giants themselves are large, easily avatar-sized for the largest and with even the smallest towering significantly over the tallest of heroes. With this difficulty in navigating human-built environments, they use small drones which have been given various names, evocative of their status. The largest of these drones, the goblins, range from 1.5 to 2.5 meters tall and are armed with claws, minimissiles, and energy weapons, as well as protected by alloy shells and internal shielding.

Loki

Loki is not technically a giant anymore. The Fire Giant, Loge, that was captured by Odin was destroyed and its body used as an experiment, where the god used his tremendous understanding of the Godhead to enact the process to create a new god - using its body. The process was tremendously draining and collapsed a star to fuel it, but it was successful. And so Loge became Loki.

Loki is a god, but not quite. His body is a biomechanical fusion of divine flesh and Giant components. This has also affected his mind; he has a bizarre and twisted take on reality, an irreverent and sometimes amoral worldview. He's also kept the Giant protocols for creating drones, which has translated into a simple desire to create living things. He is responsible for the creation of the Orbital Dreadnought Jorgumandr, the war machine Fenrir, and the pseudo-goddess Hel. Loki's power also extends to the Underworld, allowing him to manipulate the souls stored there. Finally, he has retained his Giant resilience, making him immune to all but the worst damage - and making it all the harder to stop his dangerous whims.

Orbital Dreadnought Jörmungandr

The Orbital Dreadnought Jörmungandr is probably the most baffling weapon in the known universe. This is not because it is long enough to encircle a planet, forming an orbiting, unbroken ring around all but the most gigantic of worlds. It's not because it can swallow fleets, or attack even gods directly. It's not because it can't be controlled by anyone, despite Thor's repeated attempts to tame it.

No, it is most baffling because it was created, not out of necessity or a desire for military supremacy, but as a joke.

Loki created The Orbital Dreadnought Jörmungandr with no intention of using it to conquer or attack anyone. He never intended to command the long, amorphous ship, bristling with guns capable of glassing cities. He only wanted to create it to see if it could be done, and then give it autonomy to see what it would do.

The massive serpent-ship is semi-sentient, commanded by a specialized AI construct designed for military thought. However, it will accept no command, either through godhead protocols or violence. It attacks anything that gets in its way, going dormant for long stretches of time to awaken with no regularity, only to head for the nearest planet (or the one its orbiting) and blast it to glass.

The Nagas

The empire of Kosala has to face these serpentine machines in battle more often than not. The Nagas are large, serpentlike AI warships, which pry the skies and have smaller serpentlike forms which can do combat with avatars or fight in cities.

Tiamat

Unidentified Superobject #2042 TIAMAT was engaged and believed destroyed by the god Marduk (From which the empire takes its name) untold millenia ago. An AI warship the size of a small moon, capable of immense devastation and with an internal factory that could create deadly weapons of every shape and form. Defeated, its technology was salvaged and used to cement Marduk's power, giving him significant and nearly unqestionable authority over his empire. That should have been the end of her story. However, such is not the case.

Recently, AI combat units with similarity to known Tiamat drone designs have performed multiple raids in force on Marduk territory. Scouting reports have confirmed the existence of some "thing" lurking amongst the stars, approximately the right size and outline to be Tiamat, but it is unknown how a dead warship has been resurrected, nor is it known who did it and why. Due to the possibility of Tiamat having undergone extensive upgrades, it is unlikely that any previous intelligence will be accurate.

Ahriman

Some sort of destructive machine intelligence. Currently held in check by the Hashmalan forces. Ahriman's minions are as varied as they are destructive, corrupted monsters with the appearance and power of lesser immortals-in fact, as Ormazd's corrupt twin, Ahriman has a pantheon of its own, a dark shadow of gods, demigods, and cultist-like followers. Ahriman itself is a relative unknown but known to be actively malevolent, and it is only the bickering of the gods which keep a coalition from forming to destroy it. Its numbers of lesser weapons are uncountable, and it constantly launches assaults with units of various stripe.

Fortunately for what it's worth, the mediating influence of Ormazd and the threat of Ahriman have forced the Yazata to become far more united in their cause and purpose than any other pantheon, and so they are much more capable of holding the opposition off.

Chernobog, the Black God

One of the many mysteries of the cosmos, nobody is really quite certain what Chernobog is, beyond its nature as a dark matter entity, or where it came from – it appeared in Vistula one day, and from then on, continued to occupy the attention of the entire local pantheon.

Because it is a creature of dark matter, it can only interact with the material world in a limited manner; for all its immense power, it would be of little significance. However, that was not to be; in its apparent quest for the destruction of all life, Chernobog somehow managed to find a way to fight its war.

Chernobog can somehow manipulate the machinery of the Underworld, looking for certain patterns within human souls and then twisting them into its servants. Those of the Veneti who died violent deaths, who suffered terribly in life, commited suicide, the damned – those are the ones that Chernobog recruits from, forming an army of warped monsters, formerly human, yet no more, pushed on by their artificially-induced grief and resentment to bring misery to the living, worshipping their new creator as a new, terrible god.

While the Vistula gods do attempt to stop Chernobog from doing this, it is only partially successful, and by now, there are already many hidden factories producing robotic bodies for Chernobog’s armies of corrupted souls, freeing them from having to rely on hijacked divine equipment.

While the situation is still contained, the gods do not know how long it will stay that way – for now, however, the Veneti encounter Chernobog’s monsters only occasionally; they’re not counted amongst the military juggernauts that oppose the gods in other regions, such as the Giants or the TITANs. Whether this will prove a fatal mistake or not, none can say.

Chernobog’s Armies

The beings that form the backbone of Chernobog’s forces used to be humans – however, they all died miserable deaths, and their despair was turned into hatred by their master, mass-produced armoured combat drones becoming their new bodies. They are the flying, multi-formed Strigas, the shapeshifting, ethereal Zmoras, the sadistic Lady Middays, the bizarre Vodyanoy, the twisted Klobuks called the Stillborn, the vampires – some of them resembling humans, some of them with forms so twisted that merely looking at them is sickening. Many of them crave human blood, even if there is no reason why a machine would do so; most consider it simply yet another act of mindless malevolence of the kind that Chernobog’s servants so delight in.

The worst of them, however, are the Chorts, the horned devils – Chernobog’s own children, partially robots, partially dark matter entities, more suited to this world and capable of interacting with the it where their father can’t; the generals of its armies. Their power is considerable, both in terms of powerful weapons and shields of their machine bodies and their ability to manipulate gravity.

Technology

Transcendence Technology

Game Mechanics

Transcendence Character Game Mechanics
Transcendenceberrant

Nation Stuff

May be vaguely Sphere-inspired. Probably should be significantly lighter in design though.