Welcome to the Abysmal Rift
The Abysmal Rift of Vanguard and Purgatory is where things go bump in the night. The possessed, spirits, hauntings, demons and unspeakable un-named horrors come here to play. Here the land of the dead and the land of the living are just a wet piece of tissue apart and the land itself seems to play tricks on the mind and manifest fears. The Spires, and one’s devotion to them, allow for the opening of "Devil's Runs" where Pillars leave the land of the living and sane to enter a parallel domain of the dead, dying and madness. While other rifts fight off goblins and giant beasts the Pillars of the Abyss use the ghost tech of Purgatory, Salt, Iron and highly advanced technological sigilcraft to fend off that which goes bump in the night, and with little assistance from the corporations. The many corporate subsidiaries and factions fight to keep this forgotten Lost Territory alive, while keeping up with regular profit margins. Life in the Abysmal Rift is hard, damned hard, but its people and pillars believe it is something worth fighting for.
There are two main bodies that occupy the Abyss, the mobile operating base of Vanguard and the Sovereign Town of Purgatory. At first they had their shaky beginnings with one another, one functioning on militaristic principle and the other on the common towny life of unadulterated freedom from the corruption of the corporations. However, a feud over a difference in principles is difficult to uphold when the world is at stake and the world is at stake A LOT in the Abyss. Putting there quarrels aside and with the recent abandonment of greater corporate assistance to the region, the two have began the slow process of practical-everlasting cooperation. Tensions however, are still high between the two and you never know who your next enemy will be, Monster or ally.
Welcome to the Abyss. Try not to die too much, we might not be able to afford to bring you back twice.
Purgatory: A town lost to time
Originally, being deployed to Purgatory was neither the optimal choice, nor the easiest for most pillars accustomed to militaristic and corporate structure. The town is run by a human and pillar government that dictates and organizes the town without needing permission from the corporations. The government takes care of everything from resurrection costs to weapons and research and takes no money from any of the corporations. Most Pillars within the Lost Territory are either Nil-0 or low-ranking; the rank of a corporate climber means little to a Purgatorian, as they will often say, “The corps don’t mean shit.” Community first, corporation second, that’s just the Purgatory way. There are many who take great pride in their Purgatorian heritage, some to the point of zealotry. You DO NOT want to insult town traditions
The community of Purgatory finds itself comprised of three different, yet amicable, peoples: humans, pillars, and rift creatures, colloquially called “hopefuls”. Humans and pillars walk the same streets and share the same rights, and on the rare occasion a creature from The Abyss will be granted sanctuary and even citizenship.
Though pillars and humans live side-by-side, there are logistics and dividing lines between them. Pillars and humans are housed in different sections of the town, with pillar specifically designed to withstand their strength and abilities. However, should a pillar cause a major incident or destruction while in a higher tier, they will be sent to the De-Tier chamber. The chamber rapidly strips a pillar of their aether, forcing them into a lower tier. While this is a severe sentence, all residents, pillars, humans, or hopefuls, all have some level of legal protection and rights under the government’s laws.
LIMITS OF FREEDOM
Due to what is known as “Residual Influence”, a fusion of aether and emotional energy, Purgatory exists in an economic and infrastructural bubble. When someone dies, the strong emotions of that person are often affected by the exceedingly high levels of aether. If the emotions are strong enough, this residual influence can latch onto different objects near the rift, taking on special properties that can affect the denizens and byproducts of the Abyss. These “relics” are a commodity to the town as they are the foundation of Purgatory’s defensive and technological developments; however, once outside of Purgatory, the relics and technology lose all their residual influence and become inactive.
Because of this, the town has resorted to an import-only and crowdfunding economy. Purgatory cannot export any resources as they become useless once across the border. Even necessities like the resurrection chambers are crowdfunded, and oftentimes the government can only afford to bring so many people back. In Purgatory, one minute too long in the Abyss could truly be a pillar’s last. Yet, though they struggle, the government is self-sustaining and distributes its own currency. Pillars accustom to the currency of Chit will find it has a worthy competitor. People have come to accept being paid with Ticks, representing time itself. The phrase “You give time to get time” is quite literal in Purgatory, as all residents work and earn time off in the form of Ticks worth days and even years. The harder you work, the more time you earn free.
When a pillar or human reaches their ending days, or they choose to step down from their life, they engage what the citizens of Purgatory call a “Final run”. Going in alone, they will charge into the Abyss to kill as many creatures, collect as many relics, and go as deep as they can. Along the way they will leave supply packages of all they have gained, and then repeat the process until eventually vanishing into the dark.
THE OCCULT AND AETHER
Due to the overabundance of aether in Purgatory, and more so in The Abyss, supernatural and paranormal phenomena are as common as a rodent problem. Thus, the usage of talismans and sigils that have been woven into technological advances are a practical addition to everyday life, and, with possessions and demons being commonplace, the town has become a magnet for the occult and those interested. Rituals are as frequent as festivals, and sometimes they combine as cults, enthusiasts, and scholars of the mysterious flock to the Lost Territory from all over, for better or for worse.
The areas around what used to be Massachusetts were known for their paranormal mystique. However, what people didn’t know was how real it was; a long time before the watershed, a tear appeared. Small, unnoticeable, this tear led to a small trickle of spirits and entities to cross into our world. When the watershed occurred, something pressed against the tear and it began to open. Ignored by the authorities, due to size and the insignificance of the area, the tear eventually become a rift in 2018. When the rift fully opened, violently, the residents and area were thrown into a time distortion; the area locked itself within the expanse of the Abyss and into a time nearly twenty years in the future.
While most of the world was overtaken by the mega-corporations, Purgatory existed outside their normal time, and people could not leave or enter. For years, they were trapped. Ten years ago, the people of Purgatory found protective glyphs and talismans sufficient enough to shield those who enter or leave the Lost Territory. Since then, more pillars are deployed to the town as either punishment or as an asset for the cause. Despite it all, Purgatory stands as both an uncontrollable asset and resource sink-hole to the corporations, but they’re a necessity to keep ever looming rift at bay. For generations, the people of Purgatory have fought back, and even now in 2150P, their war drums still ring.
VANGUARD: THE SECOND WAVE
“Life’s pretty good. We’ve eliminated the colorless, the Monochrome is sealed off, and everything seems pretty alright with the world. Then we get the memo that ISTO has ordered not only you, but almost every asset and nil-0 pillar from Dunwich to haul their ass to some ISTO mobile base! And now you and I are stuck in this armored transfer vehicle, smelling like sweat, going to spires-knows where. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s called ‘Vanguard’. I hope their mess hall is better than Dunwich.”
-Jackson Firefly, A-2 Ōkami
After the re-emergence of Purgatory it didn’t take time for ISTO to reinforce the protections against the Abyss and soon established the forward mobile operations base Vanguard. A small but dedicated military base, Vanguard was meant to bring some “civility” to the “under-prepared and out-of-touch” Town of Purgatory. “With enough assistance, safety protocol Salt and Iron will prevent mass casualty and potential breach of the time distortion by rift threats. If all goes according to plan, pillars are expected to be stationed at Camp Vanguard for missions into previously unexplored areas surrounding the rift and give much needed aid to the near defenseless denizens of Purgatory!” Was the familiar briefing announcement in favor of the camp. What they didn’t know is how advanced Purgatory actually was and how outmatched, outgunned, ill-trained and un-prepared they were to face the new threats of the Abyss. Those who survived these first encounters with the Abysmal threats emerged from the fog of war as heroes… damaged and changed they were. Little in number, they were. Spent, tired and grizzled they had become, but heroes none the less. It is said that those stationed at Vanguard are a glimpse into the past for Purgatorian citizens, for the feel and look of the motley crew of Pillars in the base just a stone’s throw away from their home, are the spitting image of the town’s founding generation.
THE CORPORATE LIFE
Corporations have lent some of their Asset pillars to Camp Vanguard on order of ISTO. Nil-0s, too, have been brought to Camp Vanguard with the prospect of safe housing, ISTO employment, and a better life. Then again, many Nil-0s don’t have much of a choice considering the low amount of resources in Shattered Hayven. Camp Vanguard does not offer an easy life, but it offers a survivable life for many. While Camp Vanguard has no official corp affiliation, corporate pillars are not without their corporations. The Hollow, a small but growing market off-base, is outfitted with small shops and corp-sponsored attractions to offers their pillars a small taste of home. Bock Haben delicacies, a NO WAY! hoverbike track, and other corp products can be found in the Hollow. Rumor has it that the Kandi Kids have managed to root themselves in the Hollow, hidden right under the nose of ISTO.
THE ABANDONED SOLDIERS
Recently, the mega-corporations have began pulling resources to Vanguard as an advertising ploy. While looking at the recent polling numbers from the region’s viewership they noticed a large number of people preferred the early days of the camp when things were harder and anytime the camp interacted with Purgatorian Pillars. Calling it “Project Survival” the corps entered a joint venture, stalling all food and water supplies to the region, forcing the pillars and subsidiaries to fend for themselves. Now with the time barrier of Purgatory shifting and the Abyss growing stronger, Camp Vanguard officially has entered into a new age of the Abyss. Now within the boundaries of their neighbors, and the territories of the Abyss larger than ever before, no one knows what is going to crawl out of the rift next and no one knows if they will be able to survive.
THE EXPANDING ABYSS
Including Purgatory and the newly engulfed Vanguard the territories of this expanding hellscape only get larger and more numerous. Even though the bubble doesn’t seem to be getting bigger from the outside, the inside appears to be expanding. New threats are beginning to mobilize and what was a small isolated world has both gotten smaller and yet physically bigger for the people of the Abyss. The Insubordination Rebels and the Children of Light are fighting against the government and preaching Pro-Pillar/Monster propaganda while torturing and kidnapping the human population. An ever evolving hive-mind of nightmarish Synth are but one of the many new threats on the horizon. For what was once peaceful north east America has lost this first fight…
The Age of the Abyss, has begun.