Roleplay: Ather City

"Tell me. Do you want to be a hero?"
Nick, pretty well summing up one of the game's big themes

Ather City is part of a Play-by-Post Game created by SpiritfChaos. It focuses on the titular city, and the events therein after it's devastated by a massive nuclear explosion. At the game's start, most of the city's civilians are dead, and the survivors have grouped into several factions, which are locked in a brutal gang war. Eventually, the gangs dissolve, and the focus shifts to the characters' attempts to survive in, and eventually escape, the hellhole the city has become.

The story is told in the form of a forum roleplay, or as the creator calls it, "collaborative fiction". While this format makes it vulnerable to trolls, it also means that it updates constantly, sometimes reaching almost two hundred posts in one day. Short, action-based posts are often interspersed with increasingly long walls of text, whichincreases the story's length considerably.

The game has two sequels. The first one is known as The World After or Ather City 2. This one is run by Gambi69, although SpiritfChaos was still a major figure in the production. It has now ended, and is succeeded by Tabula Rasa or Ather City 3; this one is once again run by SpiritfChaos.

It has a character sheet.


This work provides examples of:

  • All-Loving Hero: Nick. He's currently devoted his life to improving human-mutant relations, and has gone so far as to confront the Big Bad by offering him tea before fighting. His pacifist outlook helps a bit.
  • Anti-Magic: Chaos's black fire has this effect. So Lucius, how does it feel to have your supposedly indestructible magical metal soul containers reduced to ashes?
  • Anyone Can Die: Officially announced by Gambi for TWA - before the announcement, people had around three weeks and a certain number of warnings to post with a given character before they were killed off, assuming they were remembered by him before they posted; as of 19th January 2012, no warnings are given for disused characters, and the time they have to post is roughly altered to "the point at which the character cannot keep up with the game".
    • In the third game, a random player character will killed if no one posts anything for a week.
  • Applied Phlebotinum / Unobtainium: So far, brimstone (hellish substance which secretes incredibly deadly venom, is horrifically radioactive, superheated, and virtually indestructible), Orichalcum (absorbs energy and substance traits upon contact, excluding those of brimstone, which can then be used to great effect), luciferite (a metal that directly opposes brimstone, is virtually indestructible, and is saturated with a form of energy apparently only usable by a select few) and bloodsteel (corrupts other substances to turn them into more bloodsteel, and violently repels orichalcum).
    • Also, there's the pieces of unnamed Thunderbolt Iron that Chaos has been hunting down. It grants scary boosts in mutant and magic power, but drives the user horribly, horribly insane.
  • Artifact Title: The city that the series is named for no longer exists as of the end of the first gam, though it is back in the third game.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Averted by Solaris' lightbending ability, which conforms to real physics as part of the in-game power limitation agreement that everyone has. Played straight with Dominic's teleportation in the first game, as he apparently ignores gravity for a fair while after teleportation, and can seemingly control whether excess momentum is carried over between teleports or not.
  • Berserk Button: Do NOT call Void 'Tentacles'..
    • Don't threaten Riley if Dominic or Haseo are nearby, either.
    • Woe betide thee if you question Abel's calculations. Even if he has gotten something wrong.
    • Insulting or threatening Michael if Nick is anywhere within earshot is a big no-no.
  • BFS: Pharoah Osiris' sword, now in Solaris' possession - assuming an average height of 180cm, and considering the fact that it's about twice as long as him, that gives the sword a minimum length of roughly three and a half meters.
  • Bigger Bad: The True King of Hell, on account of his unimaginable form and cosmic power. If he ever made a move against the mortal realm, it's game over. Good thing he doesn't care!
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Rick's mother, Sarah. On the other hand, her Freudian Excuse gives her a fair reason to be as such... but not really. Her Moral Event Horizon is reached when she somehow resurrects herself and indirectly kills her own son.
  • Blindfolded Vision: Demonstrated by Andrus against General Monash. After being deprived of sight, he continued the whole of the rest of the battle by sensing the heat energy from his surroundings, and the energy created from attacks.
  • Blood Magic: In the sequel, two kinds are seen in several characters - a certain mutation allows the user to control and solidify their blood for use as weaponry and such, whilst actual, vampire-esque blood magic exists, having been derived from Water magic, to make the user ageless and significantly more powerful than the average human, so long as they continuously drink the blood of others for sustenance.
  • Bullet-Proof Fashion Plate: Averted with Nick. Almost every fight he's part of ends with one or both of his wings broken.
    • Played straight with Jonathan. Jonas set himself ablaze to look cool, while blatantly stating that his black leather duster was badass enough to be fireproof. Justified, since he was covered from head to toe in psionic armor, including his clothes.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Lampshaded by Lee.
    Lee: "Because, while all this is ‘fighting huge groups out for your blood’ thing is new to me, for you it’s just damn Tuesday and Sarah is only Number 152 on the list of things trying to kill you, just below ‘Generic NOS Mage Number 34’ and just above that rock over there.”
  • Captain Obvious: As seen here:
    Solaris Embarta (to self): "...sadness. That's a depressing emotion."
  • Combo Platter Powers: Lucinda could manipulate everything up to an inch away from her, including herself, which caused her to become a Flying Brick. She also glowed weakly.
    • Also, Jonathan's psion control lets him do pretty much anything from conducting electricity to crushing minds... just as long as he doesn't overexert himself. If he does...
  • Convection Schmonvection: Apparently, it is quite possible to get right up close to the Field of Black Glass without suffering too horribly, either from the heat or the radiation emanating from the pure brimstone it is composed of. Woe betide you if you actually move over it, though...
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: While not necessarily stupid, Michael tends to be rather lazy in the sequel, and spends a lot of his time either asleep or unconscious. If he wakes up, however, he will absolutely wreck your shit.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The actual fight against Colonel Howard is confined to page 93.
  • Evil Weapon: Michael's brimstone arm. It actually tries to strangle him a few times.
    • The Juuchiyosamu, or Ten Thousand Cold Nights katana, forged using dark magic. It contains brimstone and bloodsteel, two of the "evil" supermetals.
    • The Darendrake, later renamed the Apocalypse, also contains dark magic and is said to have similar powers as the sword above. But whereas the Ten Thousand Cold Nights is wielded by the protagonist Cheryl Smith, the Darendrake belongs to the Angel of Death.
  • Extra Ore Dinary: Lucius can transform his body into silvery metal.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Both Void and Solaris are capable of consuming nearly anything you could think of with no ill effects, as their stomachs break the ingested matter into its base atoms before appropriately reforming said atoms as excess cell biomass.
  • Eye Scream: Michael does this a couple times, with a harpoon and an ice shard to an ally gone berserk and a frost giant, respectively.
  • Face Palmof Doom: While not lethal, Nick's facepalms are often setups for unconsciousness and a Battleinthe Centerofthe Mind.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: Ancalagon, the Dragon of Hell.
    Cepheus: "It would seem that Ancalagon could not keep his powers from Hell intact. How unfortunate to lose such a valuable asset; his punishment when he returns to Hell shall be long and exquisite."
    • Also, having your soul absorbed by Legion.
  • Fiery Cover-Up : Giza is burned down by the NOS to cover up the murder of Osiris Ptolemy.
  • Floating Continent: Thinis, the capital of New Egypt. The 'ground' of the city is madeup of etinarg, a rock that has negative gravity compared to other substances... such as granite, for instance.
    • What's more, granite and etinarg can be combined in equal proportions to form granarg, which has exactly zero gravity if done correctly.
  • Hidden Agenda Villain: Chaos. Most of his actions seem to be For the Evulz, but recent events make his plan being that simple seem unlikely.
    • Confirmed later when he manages to open a Hell Gate.
  • Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Three of them show up as the Quirky Miniboss Squad during the fight against Cepheus; the fourth had previously caused a miniature zombie apocalypse-type scenario and subsequently been defeated and uncorrupted.
    • Less quirky, more evil. But still rather incompetent, in comparison to the mutants fighting them.
  • Hypocritical Humor: These examples are slightly detached from one another, but Void is quoted as being a "wandering whore" by Dominic, despite not enjoying how frequently others wish to have sex with him due to his age; Dominic himself, meanwhile, was merely "practising" for the last two hundred and fifty years, and is about five hundred relative years older than even the other members of the Old Guard. Perhaps not humorous, but at least somewhat hypocritical.
  • Idiot Ball: Void, you cannot reason with or fight against God. Even if you don't care whether he is or not, you should at least read his mind to check before insulting him repeatedly.
    • Or attempt to use your telepathy to alter his mindset, thereby getting out of dying at his hands.
      • No, neither can you, Solaris.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: Riley goes and fights Wallenquist herself, resulting in both their deaths. Cue Dominic destroying a huge portion of NYC.
  • Implacable Man / The Juggernaut: Pretty much anyone with any powerful defensive/self-healing ability is this. Notable examples include Dominic, Void, Matthew and Michael.
  • Ineffectual Loner: To some extent, Void in AC 1, after the Council is destroyed completely. Example: taking on War by yourself means you're going in the massive hellhole. Throwing a psychopath who happens to be your ally in that battle at him instead? Instant success!
    • On the flip-side, he does manage to kill a supposedly immortal being by himself... perhaps only through the luck of discovering his one weakness, but that's still a plus.
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons: In the sequel. The fight of the main group against a particularly rare species of dragon and that of the Jonathan group against another served no purpose in plot progression.
    • Averted in the original, where Ancalagon, the Dragon of Hell, played an important part in displaying the might of the antagonist. Said battle also armed the main party: Dominic acquiring his dragon fang sword; Victor, his dragon scale shield.
  • Ironic Echo: Hey, Void? Remember you said you wouldn't even care if Dominic were God himself...?
    • Idiot Ball: And you didn't even bother to check, either. You have telepathy. USE IT.
  • Landmarkof Lore: Stonehenge, Machu Pichu among others. They are sites from where magical energy can be obtained (simply put, one can become a mage by absorbing the magical energy of these places).
  • Large and In Charge: Matthew. He's by far the largest of the original cast, and definitely the strongest.
  • Leave No Witnesses: The NOS decides to destroy all of Giza only because, contrary to their plans, the dead body of king Osiris Ptolemy landed within the city.
  • Leave Your Quest Test: One is presented to Dominic: either he traps himself in the Mindscape, forever left to create and destroy as he sees fit; or he returns to the mortal world, and continues to defend it from threats. This being Dominic, he goes for the former option. With fair reason, of course.
    • He promptly returns, after he realises that he cannot control his own mind. And then he goes completely insane.
  • Legacy Character: A lot of characters in the sequel are in some way related to members of the cast in the original.
    • A meta-example, Spirit stepped down from the GM position after the first game, allowing Gambi to take his place.
    • The name Chaos doesn't refer to the guy from the second game, but whoever happens to wear the mask at the moment.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Michael just randomly attacks Dominic on sight in the sequel. Presumably he knew Dominic was basically a god by now, so he likely knew it would be a Curb-Stomp Battle. He does it anyway.
  • Light Is Not Good: Lucius Ferre, the current Big Bad, uses Light magic. His name is also made to resemble "Lucifer".
    • Rick's mother, Sarah, has wings, wears a long white robe (which has only been mentioned once), and is generally made to resemble an angel. She killed Rick.
  • Lost Forever: Michael's morningstar. Probably the most powerful weapon in the world, and it gets dropped into hell at the end of the first game.
  • Magikarp Power: It has been explicitly stated that Connor is pretty much worthless in combat, but since he was exposed to magic recently, that might start to change eventually. He later becomes a white mage.
  • Meaningful Name: Sarah's last name translates from Latin as 'undead'.
    • ARGUS is said by Nick to see everything, much like his namesake from Greek mythology.
    • "'Conglacior Solus' translates from Latin to English as 'Freeze Alone'."
    • "Lucius Ferre" looks a lot like Lucifer. His first and last names also refer to light and metal respectively, indicating his power over these two elements.
    • Lucinda's name is the same reference. She emits a weak glow.
    • Wu Shuang, i.e. Frost. His name in Chinese, "吴霜", literally means "Wu Frost". But it has the exact same pronunciation as the word "无双", which means "unique". "双" also means "two", indicating his dual nature (life and death powers, mutation and magic, Chinese and British heritage).
    • His cousin Wu Ming has a similar pun in his name. "吴明" means "Wu Bright", but it has the same pronunciation as "无名", or "nameless" in Chinese.
    • Arthur Mc Quietus's name consists of 'quietus', which means 'a state between life and death'. Considering how Arthur generally doesn't consider himself to be a human being, but a machine of destruction... His second form, Pictor Mortis, is Latin for 'Painter of Death'. His signature material is known as Paint.
  • Nigh Invulnerable:
    • Void has this of the regeneration variety. His grand daughter does as well.
    • Matthew is Made of Iron, with mild healing ability.
    • Marvin has both of these, and he literally can not die. He just regenerates from everything. (He's likely dead after the end of part 1, though.) He has nanomachines in his body that are actively regenerating the instant injuries occur. Nothing can kill him because there's nothing fast enough to do the job before he heals it.
    • Jonathan has his psionic armor. Usually not too indestructible, unless the dominant personality is Nathan.
    • And Lucius has his silvery metal, luciferite. It can't be destroyed by anything except Anti-Magic. It even managed to chip off a small shard of brimstone and fuse with it.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Both Nick and Lucius. Leaders of their respective factions, two of the three strongest people in the world, both rather cultured under most circumstances.
  • Offscreen Momentof Awesome: Nick and Michael's fight, which was supposedly awesome enough to spawn an entirely new universe, takes place entirely between near the end of the second game and the third.
  • Omniscient Morality License: Dominic in the sequel; being immortal, and having lived for two hundred and fifty years or so at that point in time, he honestly doesn't care what happens to the world around him any more, and has even considered ending it a few times just to end his own life.
  • Physical God: Dominic in the sequel. Immortal, teleporting, powerful mage.
  • Playing with Fire: Victor (and his great^X grandson Andrus) can control fire.
  • Power Makes Your Voice Deep: Applicable to Isis Ptolemy. Her voice grows heavy and 'demonic' when she taps into her inner potency.
  • Precision F-Strike: Two by Nick in the sequel.
    Nick(after Lucius accused Michael of causing the events of the first game): "That wasn't Michael's fault, motherfucker."
    "If those kids don't kill you, just know that I can. Now get the fuck out of my city."
  • Put on a Bus: Dominic in the sequel; see Leave Your Quest Test above.
    • Promptly gets off the bus and walks back into the game after only a short while. Then he goes mad.
  • Ret Gone: Jonathan and Jennifer are whisked from the Atherverse by two immensely powerful beings from a game of their controller's own creation without ever meeting the main group; one Phaeus "Shade" Eclipsion was also completely destroyed by one of these beings.
  • Shout-Out: Several.
    • Both Nick and Alex have used Mega Man (Classic)-esque Arm Cannons.
    • Nick references Homestuck a few times during his fight against Wallenquist.
    • One of the most blatant examples in the sequel comes when Void and his bedfellows are shown playing Mortal Kombat and Halo. The issue with the Xbox logging out all players on a console when a single one does so is even referenced.
    • "Atuhor's Nose: 'Conglacior Solus' translates from Latin to English as 'Freeze Alone'."
    • The entirety of Lucinda's character or pretty much any addition to the story by her author is a reference to something.
    • Nick's weapon of choice in the Mindscape is a giant key reminiscent of a Keyblade.
    • Cheryl Smith can apparently use Fire Release ninjutsu and has a zanpakutou that is basically a fusion between Senbonzakura and Ryuujin Jakka. Her "zanpakutou" also has several attacks that are blatant expies of Byakuya's techniques.
    • Lee channels Ulfric Stormcloak during his speech on why he fights the NUO.
  • Someone Has to Die: In the end, Dominic sacrifices himself in order to prevent the world from being engulfed by the expanding hellhole. Somebody has to die in order to close it.
    • Of course, with Dominic's escape five earth years later, he has gained immortality and general powerful magery skills to go with his teleportation... not a bad reward for surviving five (or, you know, five hundred) years of torture against The True King.
  • Swiss Army Appendage: Michael's shapeshifting arm.
  • Telepathy: Too many to count; most notably, Void has some powerful telepathic techniques which will start injuring him as though he were a human being if used too much. Jonathan has this too, which can be used in hundreds of different ways. It also seems to be a prerequisite for becoming the Big Bad in either game, as seen with Cepheus and Lucius.
  • Sword Fight: Occurs frequently. In the original, barring other smaller (but no less important) sword fights, the fight against Cepheus is noteworthy.
  • Tempting Fate:
    German NUO Soldier: [moments before his soul is absorbed into Legion] "Oh, come on! What could be worse than death at the hands of whatever that is?"
  • The Battle Didn't Count: When Nick broke into Lucius's Mindscape, at first it seemed that Nick totally curb-stomped Lucius. But that turned out to be not the real Lucius himself but a presumably much weaker psychic stand-in.
  • The Lost Lenore: The deaths of Riley in both the original and the sequel are an ongoing source of grief and turmoil for Dominic.
  • There Was a Door: Matthew's entrance into the Speedster's hideout, charging in with a strike that did some damage to a group of mutants.
  • White Magician Girl: A rare male example, Connor has been training to use White Magic, complete with Thou Shalt Not Kill ultimatum.
  • The Worf Barrage: The sandworms in the deserts between Cairo and Giza specifically target Solaris, only to fail to do lasting damage due to her abilities.
    • Runihura in Thinis unleashes one of his most powerful attacks on same character with identical results.
  • Ultimate Evil: The True King of Hell, whose eye alone is fifteen thousand miles in diameter.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Nick and Michael's past hostility seems to completely disappear if anyone else insults them. Thus we have Nick completely curb stomping Lucius.
  • Weapon Tombstone: Not a weapon per se, but Nick's goggles are hanging from the grave Sarah dug for him before the start of TWA.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Wu Ming, one of the main NOS members, was killed off before his character was elaborated upon.
    • Same with Phaeus "Shade" Eclipsion, evil grandson of Eclipsis, who was meant to be encountered by the main characters in England.
  • What Could Have Been: One of Luke's dreams in the third game shows what could've been the epic final battle of the second game if it wasn't Cut Short.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Connor's bug-whispering. It has been used exactly once, and for something completely unnecessary.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Marvin, upon realising that he can never die, becomes cripplingly depressed for several decades, extending right through the first game to its end.
    • Dominic expresses hatred for his immortality, wishing to meet his mother and sisters in this universe's equivalent of Heaven. He's forever banned from it, unfortunately, because of his exposure to the True King.
    • This trope is averted with Void, although unlike the other two, he actually can (and does) die in the sequel.