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Podcast / Metamor City

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A fiction series produced as a podcast since September 2007. A spinoff from the shared story universe Metamor Keep, Metamor City takes the high fantasy setting of the original and projects the timeline forward 1300 years. The result is part Urban Fantasy, part Cyberpunk, part City Noir, and part Shining City. Yes, all in one place.

Metamor City is the capital of the Empire of Metamor, a mostly-benevolent superpower ruled by the Genius Loci of the valley where the city is built. The constraints of geography and the power of magitek resulted in a Mega City where "moving up in the world" is a literal reality: the wealthy inhabit the highest levels of the massive skyscraper towers, while the ground level is a haven for criminals, feral monsters and those too poor to escape further up. Laying over the entire city is The Curse, an ancient enchantment that will randomly transform the body of anyone who stays around more than a few days, unless appropriate protective magic is used.

The series falls somewhere in the middle of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Grey-and-Gray Morality is a common theme, and while there are plenty of Reasonable Authority Figures, they're unable to solve many of the city's systemic problems.

The series so far consists of three novels and a number of shorter stories ranging in length from flash fiction to novellas. The stories do not focus on a single ongoing plot, but characters from one story often pop up later in others as their interests coincide or run into conflict with each other. The head author states that there is an over-arching metaplot that will reveal itself as the series continues.

There is a Character Page, but it needs lots of fleshing out, because this series has numerous characters.

Provides examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Malcolm ard'Valos, the vampire prince who rules The Syndicate in Metamor City.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Averted with most creatures, including vampires and succubae. Not that the characters always realize this...
  • The Archmage: Artax plays with this trope to such extremes that at the end of the day it's hard to tell if he's a genuine example of the trope, a subversion, a parody, or all three at once. He is one of the oldest and most powerful wizards in the setting, and he can usually be relied upon to provide aid and guidance to the story protagonists... yet he spends most of his time running a tacky magic shop called "Spells 4 U" and getting into petty arguments with customers and anyone else he happens to encounter. The rest of the world vary wildly in their opinions on whether he should be feared and respected, treated as a pesky nuisance that's best avoided, or written off as a total joke... and it's more than hinted that this confusing reputation is something he has deliberately and carefully cultivated over the years.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: Danni in Making the Cut is the most prominent on-screen example, though thanks to the original intention of the Curse, all androgynes tend to make for this (and have the increased libido to match).
  • Badass Family: The Sommers Cell. At the start of Making the Cut, this polyamorous family includes three retired Super Soldiers and a seer. By the end they've added a psychic healer who is also a Lightning Bruiser in hand-to-hand combat, and a Badass Adorable teenage girl who is, possibly, the most powerful telepath on the planet. So, yeah ... don't mess with their kids.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Inverted by the Leanan Sidhe in Whispers in the Wood. Melodia is impossibly beautiful, and so glorious to look upon that she makes Abbey fall to her knees and weep ... and she is an amoral monster who feels no compunctions about killing and torturing mortals for the sake of "art".
  • Bigger on the Inside: Kyia's Citadel, which houses more than a million people. Given that the outside is a mile high, the mind boggles at how impossibly huge the inside is...
  • Born Lucky: Callie Linder, whose supernatural heritage warps the laws of probability in her favor.
  • Broken Bird: Fiona in Making the Cut, though even she isn't aware of how she got "broken". (She finds out near the end of the story.)
  • Canon Discontinuity: Due to some discrepancies between the writing staff of Metamor Keep and Metamor City, the latter is not canon to the former. Most of it has been resolved and series creator Chris Lester never really intended for Metamor City to be canon, though a new series based on the future of Metamor Keep is now in the works and can be found here.
  • The Chessmaster: Malcolm ard'Valos.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Artax has traces of (and certainly a reputation for) this; he seems overly fond of turning men into pretty women either as a joke or a lesson, but he never actually tries anything with them, and is reliable when push comes to shove.
  • The City Narrows: The Street, which takes up virtually all the space at ground level.
  • Coincidence Magnet: Callie Linder — the result of her unconscious, probability-altering powers bleeding over to affect the people around her.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment:
    • In Make Believe Artax (temporarily) transfigures giant pink bunny ears, to match the newly pink uniform, onto an MCPD officer who tried to force Artax away from a police operation.
    • Artax has also threatened to turn people into Lutins a time or two, but it's never been seen to happen in a story.
  • Curse: It was intended as a Forced Transformation by the Evil Wizard, in three different forms. Metamor's defenders were able to modify it but could not remove it once it took hold of a person. It has become a Genetic Curse that affects people over a long range, and is centered on the Citadel of Metamor City.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: In Make Believe it is implied that Artax has one of these.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Jenna in Troubled Minds. Despite her obviously demonic heritage and her supernatural hunger for sexual energy, she tries to be as good and moral of a person as she can be. Ms. Fallon as well.
  • Death of the Old Gods: In Chris Lester's version of the Metamor Keep universe Merai was created by the Aedra as a means of siphoning off the Daedra's power. But she had a vision of the monotheistic god Eli and decided to channel the power of both pantheons into herself and Kyia, dragging both Daedra and Aedra down to the physical plane and rendering them semi-mortal. Most of the old gods are still alive, but they can be killed and their power claimed by mortals, Lilith was usurped by the Vampire Queen while Rickkter has taken over as god of war from Dokorath.
  • Driven to Suicide: Subverted with the newly-vampirised Miriam, who plans it both as the only way to escape their situation and because they know that they'll be used against the Psi Collective otherwise. However, this is subverted when their new superior promptly forbids them from carrying it out. But then it's subverted again at the end of the story when they try it again, this time triple subverting it by being put in stasis until Braddock eventually dies and she can't be given orders.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Most of the protagonists in the series. Daniel has to take this to almost ludicrous extremes in Making the Cut.
  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex: The setting quite often plays on the erotic, and several of the groups and societies in the city are very sexual the Psi Collective devote their society to breeding, the androgynes have very high sex drives thanks to the Curse of Metamor, succubi and incubi live openly in the city, and the Church of Hedonism is... well, the name says it all. For the most part, there's not a very big stigma around sex, especially since there are magic spells to hinder unwanted pregnancies and STDs, and the major religions seem to be generally sex-positive too. So people are, if not encouraged to have a lot of sex, at least not discouraged from it.
  • Evil Plan: 'Making the Cut' is the most famous, conducted by The vampire prince Malcolm ard'Valos. Malcolm has his underling turn an Elder of the Psi Collective into a mole for his crime syndicate. He uses her for months to feed disinformation to the Collective. At this point it becomes a Xanatos Gambit. Malcolm sends her to capture the telepaths who were responsible for leading a successful attack on his organization earlier in the story. No matter what happens, Malcolm wins: either Miriam succeeds and he gets two more powerful telepaths under his control, or she fails and the Collective loses one of its most powerful Elders.
  • The Fair Folk:
    • The Leanan Sidhe in Whispers in the Wood.
    • There have been references to "Sidhe partisans" conducting terrorist attacks in various parts of the Empire.
    • Janus Starson has ... issues with the Sidhe Lord who embodies the concept of Santa Claus (who has also been referred to as the Holly King and St. Nicholas).
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: Morgan Drauling.
  • Gender Bender: One of three versions of the Curse of Metamor, noted to be the most common one, and highlighted in stories such as Making the Cut and Anniversary.
  • Genius Loci: Majestrix Kyia, the chief of state for the Empire, is actually the spirit of the Citadel that stands at the heart of the city.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Janus Starson and the Lothanasi.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Examples seen so far include half-celestials, half-fiends, half-Elves, and half-lutins (called Breed).
  • Have You Seen My God?: Maybe the Creator is still around, but more subtle than He used to be. Maybe he's broken into pieces. Maybe the God the theists worship is real and still around, but is more of a Dimension Lord and not the actual creator of all things. Something is powering the Ecclesiasts' divine magic, but maybe it's just the power of faith being fueled by The Force.
  • Healing Hands: Daniel in Making the Cut has this ability as a psychic power.
  • Heroic Lineage: A number of Metamor's major houses are descended from the ancient heroes of Metamor Keep, such as Clan Matthias, House Brightleaf, the Starsons are also Semi-Divine as their ancestor Merai is practically a Physical God.
  • Hive Mind: The members of the Psi Collective form psychic "gestalts" for group decision-making.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: Back when all the stories on the podcasts were full-cast recordings, several episodes contained segments with the actors flubbing their lines.
  • I Know Your True Name:
    • Whispers in the Wood: The Leanan Sidhe (a powerful faery) tries to get Abbey Preston to trade her name for information. Another character made a similar bargain with the faery, and it didn't end well for them.
  • I See Dead People: Abbey Preston, after the events of Making the Cut.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: Elemacil, the holy sword used by Janus.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Fiona in Making the Cut, who has no idea where her extreme fear of being helpless comes from. It turns out that's because someone erased her memory to cover up their involvement in her mother's death.
  • Layered Metropolis: The City is "built like a wedding cake" with four skyways above the streets.
  • Light Is Not Good: In Broken Angel we learn about the devas — beautiful celestial beings that are basically soulless killing machines. While they were bred for Demon Slaying, there are plenty of folks with demonic blood in Metamor who are not actually evil ... and the devas don't worry much about the distinction.
  • The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday: Artax's store becomes one after Imperial intelligence tries to arrest him in Things Unseen. It usually appears in malls, where shops appear and vanish all the time anyways.
  • Magic or Psychic?: Mages have existed for millennia and the number of people with the inherent gift to become a mage has remained more-or-less constant. Psis, on the other hand, appeared within the last century and their numbers are increasing, in no small part due to the Psi Collective's breeding project.
  • Master of Your Domain: Egoist-type Psis.
    • Miriam in particular was able to is able to convincingly fake being alive even after she's been turned by a vampire by willing her heart to beat and her skin to warm up past room temperature.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: The Psi Collective, with their huge focus on breeding, have a version of this as an official policy: Child-bearing women are the most important members and are to be protected and treasured. Since one man can impregnate many women, men are expendable — powerful male psis are highly desirable in order to spread their genes, but men who have some form of genetic defect or just aren't exceptionally powerful are seen as having lesser worth and are usually ostracized and shoved aside. The trope isn't played completely straight, as women who either can't or won't bear children for the Collective tend to be similarly ignored or ostracized.
  • Mind Rape: Natalie explicitly compares Priestess Illura's vampiric domination of her as seeming like rape.
  • My Eyes Are Up Here: In "Welcome to the City" Kate reminds Michael of this with a couple illusions of her eyes.
  • Nanomachines: "Nanopixies", microscopic techno-magical constructs, are introduced in Making the Cut as a form of synthetic synapses for Victor, preventing other Psis from reading his thoughts. The Lost and the Least establishes that vampires run on a different variety of nanopixie.
  • No Bisexuals: The Psi Collective enforces aversions for female members of breeding cells to foster good relationships.
  • Not Growing Up Sucks: One of three versions of the Curse of Metamor.
  • Occult Detective: Abbey Normal Preston.
  • Our Dragons Are Different:
    • Patrol: The dragon known as Guerra takes a perverse delight in hunting the aeromancers who patrol the border between Metamor Valley and the Dragon Mountains. Fortunately, he seems to be satisfied with disabling their aerofighters and then lowering them to earth, rather than killing them outright.
    • The Case of the Golden Egg: A dragon is living in Metamor City in human form, posing as a member of the nobility. She is vain (of course), arrogant (of course), uses mortals as her pawns (of course), and is driven into a homicidal rage when someone dares to steal what belongs to her.
  • Our Gods Are Different: First, there's the Creator God of the the Earth (aka Eli/Ilúvatar), who may or may not still be around. Then there's the group of Sufficiently Advanced Aliens who had set themselves up as Physical Gods (aka the old pantheon, Fallen Gods). Then there's the Elders, who were the Dimension Lords who made the Sufficiently Advanced Aliens in the first place — gods to the gods themselves.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: The lutins are a short, hardy, green-skinned race with a deep animistic spiritual tradition. They're also superstitious and greedy and tend to end up at the bottom rungs of Metamor society.
  • Our Souls Are Different: It is often said within the series that the "mortal soul" is what makes humans (and other mortal creatures) capable of exercising free will.
  • Our Vampires Are Different:
    • The vampires run The Syndicate, are bound to each other in unbreakable ties of dominance and submission, and form psychic links with the people they feed on (which can lead to insanity in those who feed too recklessly and to getting the psychic tables turned on them if they're dumb enough to feed on a telepath).
    • They do cast reflections but hate mirrors, due to a nasty feedback loop caused by looking into their own Hypnotic Eyes.
    • Vampires were created by one of the Fallen Gods, Lilith, from the Elves, to be the ultimate predator to challenge Humans and Elves.
  • Physical God: Lots of them, thanks to a Screw Destiny maneuver by The Chosen One. The gods of the old pantheon (aka the Fallen Gods) were left in physical bodies with only a fraction of their former power. They gain power from the energy of mortal souls (in a Gods Need Prayer Badly way), and there are some who are stronger than others even after their fall.
  • Pieces of God: This is the Universalists' explanation for why there are so many uber-powerful-but-not-actually-omnipotent beings running around the cosmos. (Mortals are Pieces of God, too, in this view — just smaller ones.)
  • Polyamory: The Psi Collective is built around "breeding cells", which usually have one man and three to five women, all of whom have romantic relationships with each other. The Sommers Cell in Making the Cut shows both the advantages and disadvantages of this arrangement.
  • Prophecy Twist: In Make Believe Artax looks into the future of Jon Tunstall, an angry and powerful young mage, and sees the young man trying to rally a group of young wizards with criminal histories, sees Tunstall standing in a room full of terrified people with power flowing from his hands as the walls crumble down around them, and lastly he sees Tunstall standing over his, Artax's, very still and prone body. Later in the story Artax gets independent confirmation of Tunstall attempting to rally the other students and realizes that his vision is already coming to pass. Turns out that Tunstall was attempting to rally the students to join him in helping Artax to face the current threat; the power that Artax saw coming from Tunstall's hands was holding the walls and ceiling up long enough for the people in the collapsing room to get out; and when Artax can't redirect all of the energy that the Big Bad hurls against him and collapses, it's Tunstall who takes care of the rest, and then sees to Artax after the confrontation.
  • Psychic Powers: Many types of psychic characters have appeared, including teeps (telepathy), teeks (telekinesis), espers (clairvoyance/precognition), pyros (pyrokinesis), sparkies (fulgurkinesis), and egoists (biopsychokinesis). Most psis have no more than two of these abilities.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Ms Fallon, the succubus who runs the Serenity Arms Apartment Complex. Many other immortals fall into this category, as well.
  • Robe and Wizard Hat: Mostly averted, but Artax plays up this stereotype to the hilt . . . that is unless he has to go into battle, at which point his wardrobe is pure practicality.
  • Second Law of Gender-Bending: Danni in Making the Cut. Subverted when it turns out that she was Brainwashed into feeling that way by Jared.
  • Sex Shifter: Androgynes, unlike in the original Metamor Keep where they were stuck in the opposite gender of their birth and could just control the size of their "endowments".
  • Shout-Out:
    • The SPELLS 4 U magic shop, an homage to the Spells R Us shared story universe.
    • Early in Making the Cut the characters pull a heist at Docking Bay 94
    • "Runners" are probably a reference to Shadowrun.
  • Shut Up, Kirk!: No actual battle ensues, at least not a physical one, but Janus gets one from Ms Fallon and Kate in The Sentinel.
  • The Sociopath: Victor in Making the Cut.
  • The Soulsaver: Abbey Preston in Whispers in the Wood.
  • Split Personality: Many androgynes have this, including Evan/Eva and Daniel/Danni in Making the Cut.
  • Split-Personality Merge: Sasha and Abbey at the end of Making the Cut.
  • Succubus in Love: John, Kate's incubus boyfriend, starts to go from a casual sex relationship with her to something more romantic in The Lost and the Least while she's on psychiatric leave and she starts leaning on him for support. His boss, who tends to think of mortals as playthings and sustenance, sees his growing affections for her as a meaningless distraction.
  • Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: People can earn degrees in "manology" to understand the theoretical underpinnings of magic, regardless of whether they have any magical aptitude themselves.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Fiona in Making the Cut.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Miriam pulls one of these on Malcolm and Braddock at the end of Making the Cut: not only does she deny them the mole that they went to such trouble to obtain, but she arranges things so that her thralls will get their freedom and take a large chunk of money with them when they go.
  • Touch Telepathy: When telepaths make skin contact with another person they start to involuntarily form a gestalt. When they have sex it goes so deep that the gestalt becomes permanent unless both are telepaths who can piece themselves together afterwards.
  • Unanthropomorphic Transformation: Like in the source material, theriomorphs can transform into feral forms at will. Due to the changes to the Curse they can also become fully human for limited periods, but have to spend an equal amount of time in feral form at some point afterwards.
  • Unequal Rites: Wizards (highly skilled, book-smart magic users) and sorcerers (highly talented and powerful, intuitive magic users) tend to look down on each other. Wizards outnumber sorcerers by at least twenty to one, so the overall magical community tends to be biased against sorcery.
  • Unfazed Everyman: Will Kerenson in The Muse.
  • Warrior Monk: The Lothanasi Order.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Janus and Ms Fallon both come close to this in The Sentinel, but in opposite directions — Janus for the cause of order, Ms Fallon for the cause of freedom.
  • A Wizard Did It: Artax keeps a sign in his shop that reads: "Because I'm a wizard, that's how" and often simply points to it when people wonder how he knows so much.
  • Wizards Live Longer: Artax is at least a couple of centuries old, and doesn't show signs of kicking it anytime soon.