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Roleplay / Ather City

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"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.

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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.

Ather City started at the end of 2010, and the series ran for two years before being abandoned during Tabula Rasa.


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The Ather City series 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 be killed if no one posts anything for a week.
  • Applied Phlebotinum:
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    • 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).
    • 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 game, 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.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence:
    • Dominic after his torture, Nick after training in the Mindscape for ten years. That's without accounting for that time goes more slowly in the Mindscape. Nick even uses the word ascended to describe Dominic and himself, but it's actually a reference to Homestuck rather than this trope.
    • The term 'godsoul' has been officially adopted as the term for characters with power on a deific scale. Other than Nick and Dominic, the only other ascended characters in existence are the Phases, and the TKoH.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Several:
    • Victor and Andrus Sonic.
    • Dominic Nabokov.
    • Michael Bolt.
    • Everyone named in the Eclipsion family.
  • Badass Transplant: Michael. Twice. The first transplant occurs when he loses his arm and Cepheus gives him one made of brimstone; he is then given a mechanical arm from Nick after the brimstone arm is torn from the roots. Granted, he kicked ass before either transplant, but after that, it's made clear he could probably beat anyone in the series in a fight if he wanted to.
  • Bait-and-Switch Boss: Wallenquist is set up to be the Big Bad of TWA... and is then killed off by Riley in an unseen battle ending in both their deaths.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. Turns out she's lying, and then 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
    • Every single fight Dominic engages in in the sequel. Every. Single. One. With the exception of his fight against Chaos. That was a spectacular (if somewhat feinted) loss for Dominic.
    • Subverted in the battle against Sarah. She gets beaten up by Solaris, and is just taking punches from her for no reason, then when Lee goes to stab her she bursts into life and kickstarts the battle again.
  • Deader Than Dead:
    • Achieved by Dominic against Void; after essentially being disembowelled, the latter's body is impaled hundreds of times beneath the neck, then crushed between two slabs of rock on his left and right, leaving only his head behind. His head is promptly incinerated, too. Ouch.
    • The trope also applies to elementals in the second game, in a very literal sense indeed - because they have no souls which can be sent to Heaven or Hell, their consciousness evaporates when their magic does.
  • Deadly Upgrade: Lucius gives one to Isis Ptolemy in Thinis. Lucius has a shard of brimstone stored in his body, ready to be assimilated at any time. Said shard also acts as a Hell Gate. In fact, Isis's upgrade seemed to have been obtained from this Hell Gate in the first place.
  • Doomed Hometown:
    • Paris, in case of Andrus. Its destruction is what set him off on his journey in the first place.
    • The City of the Dying, where Solaris originates from, is also destroyed, with her only learning of it a looong time afterwards.
  • Downer Ending: The ending of TWA. Lucius wakes up the True King of Hell, who proceeds to destroy the whole universe and everyone in it, save for a few survivors who manages to escape to other universes.
  • Escaped from Hell:
    • This is why Dominic is still alive after the timeskip; he broke out of Hell. In fact, he's managed it twice.
    • Void also escaped from Hell after being thrown into the hellhole by War.
  • 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.
  • Fiery Coverup: 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 made up 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.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: 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!
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Manipulation of everything up to one inch away from yourself? That thing has no range! Until you notice you're always in range, and that there seems to be no other cap whatsoever. Get your flesh to never come apart when hit, never bruise, never catch fire. Fly into enemies, counting your speed in Mach numbers. Lucinda, the owner of the above, was requested to be depowered as a result.
  • 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.
  • Hypocritical Humor: 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.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: Riley goes and fights Wallenquist herself, resulting in both their deaths. Cue Dominic destroying a huge portion of NYC.
  • Ineffectual Loner: To some extent, Void in Assassin's Creed I, 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...?
  • 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. 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.
    • 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.
  • The Lost Lenore: The deaths of Riley in both the original and the sequel are an ongoing source of grief and turmoil for Dominic.
  • 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 McQuietus'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.
  • Mundane Utility: Jennifer Lorenz has the power to heal or destroy biological matter. Among other things, she uses this power to trim her fingernails, keep her skin flawless, and regrow a piece of half-eaten steak. She even wears leather clothes because they can be repaired by her ability.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Here's a few things Dominic has managed so far: defeated the ruler of hell in single combat; survived unimaginable torture at the hands of an Eldritch Abomination; possessed Matthew's body, which is mechanical and should not be able to contain a soul; learned how to flash-step after fighting Chaos for a couple of minutes; learned and mastered the Mindscape spell (which only Nick can do without training) after talking to Nick for a few minutes; destroyed a person and absorbed both their bodily mass and their soul; and expanded his own soul to cover the entire planet.
  • 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 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.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You: This applies to Void and Solaris in equal measure, since both have tentacles and regeneration to absorb the impact. Void frequently uses this to his advantage when travelling in Assassin's Creed I; Solaris also uses it, but not very often.
  • 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.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted big time.
    • There are a lot of Michaels running around.
    • Sol and Solaris have very similar names; they even have respective relatives named Lune and Eclipsis. Then Solaris gets a baby dragon who she names Solus.
    • There are three Sarahs. One is Rick's now-dead mother, one is Nick's nigh-immortal necromancer assistant, and the last is Sara Sylvestria Wright, Lucius's daughter.
    • The name Argus is shared by both the mutant Void meets at the start of TWA, and Nick's AI system. Distinguished by the way their names are capitalised - Argus the mutant to ARGUS the AI.
  • Opposites Attract: Michael and Nick were best friends before the events of the first game. One is an Ax-Crazy Boisterous Bruiser who has a sword made out of one of his victims. The other is an introverted Gadgeteer Genius who has killed two people in his 250+ years of life, neither time intentional.
  • 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. Promptly gets off the bus and walks back into the game after only a short while. Then he goes mad.
  • Really 700 Years Old:
    • Any given character who survived the timeskip. Justified in that all of them except Michael have some form of Immortality working for them, while Michael's cell death rate was slowed to about 1/25th its usual rate due to his exposure to the Hell arm.
    • Dominic plays the trope completely straight by actually being seven hundred years old, due to the severely stretched passage of time within Hell.
  • 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 hundred years of torture against The True King.
  • Swiss-Army Superpower:
  • Sword Fight: Occurs frequently. In the original, barring other smaller (but no less important) sword fights, the fight against Cepheus is noteworthy.
  • 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.
  • 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. Then his corpse was reanimated by his cousin Frost.
    • Phaeus "Shade" Eclipsion, evil grandson of Eclipsis, who was meant to be encountered by the main characters in England.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Connor's bug-whispering. It has been used exactly once, and for something completely unnecessary.
  • White Magician Girl: A rare male example, Connor has been training to use White Magic, complete with Thou Shalt Not Kill ultimatum.
  • 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.
  • 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 the same character with identical results.

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