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  1. #1
    Before Sozin's Comet (Avatar: The Last Airbender/Crossgen CYOA)

    Before Sozin's Comet (Avatar: The Last Airbender/Crossgen CYOA)

    What do you think?

    Charming enough in its own fashion, I suppose. Why here, though?

    Conflict, of course. It may seem out of the way, but my visualizations tell me that this place will play a pivotal role in the days to come. Not to mention that they are going through a... situation of their own.

    Of course. And adding my mark will add fuel to the fire. Good choice, my friend.

    And who will you mark here?

    Aren't you going to make suggestions?

    No. I think that this time the choice is best left to your instincts.

    Hmmm... What about this person?

    That will do very, very nicely. Let us begin.
    My life for your life, my death for your life, my death for your death.

  2. #2
    CROSSGEN 101
    THE BEGINNINGS

    In the beginning, there was Atlantis, the first and most perfect civilization ever born to Earth. It was an utopia in which every single denizen of the realm wielded power that made him godlike in the eyes of the most primitive humans who prowled in distant continents.


    Alas, utopia was not enough for the sons and daughters of Atlantis. They sought godhood and so conceived the means for a Transition that they hoped would take them to the realms of the divine. Except for a few hundred that decided to stay behind to steward the primitives into civilization, all the Atlanteans went ahead with their bold plan.

    The Transition was succesful, after a fashion. The Atlanteans were freed from the shackles of mortal flesh and became unto gods.


    However, Solusandra -once first among the Atlanteans- angered her peers by proclaiming that their new godhood was as limited in its own way as their former mortal condition. Solusandra claimed that even though they could will worlds into existence and write their names in the stars, true power and true understanding had eluded them.

    For her blasphemy, Solusandra was crippled, reduced to a childish state and abandoned in the Milky Way to do with its worlds as she may. One of the Atlanteans, Danik, remained behind as mentor and warden, while the rest of the ascended went to distant corners of the cosmos.

    For an aeon, Solusandra played among the stars, creating and destroying gods and worlds, until Danik's foresight warned him about some great danger to come. Troubled by this development and with his brethren deaf to his warnings, Danik decided to take matters into his own hands.

    After partially restoring Solusandra's mind, he proposed a new, greater game.

    In every world in the galaxy, she would choose one or two to bear her mark. Those so marked would gain some limited ability to tap into the cosmic energies that fueled the ascended themselves and thus become something between the mundane and the divine.


    Solusandra was deceived into believing that the conflict caused by her empowering of the mortals was the end goal, which would result in a rekindling of the cosmic energies of creation and destruction, but in truth Danik wanted the Sigil Bearers as weapons in the conflict to come.

    And so, near every man and woman gifted with power, an orange eyed stranger appeared, to guide and mentor the Sigil Bearers according to Danik's agenda.

  3. #3
    CROSSGEN 101
    THE AGE OF THE FIRST

    One of Solusandra's earliest creations was heavenly Elysia, a world she made near the core of the galaxy to serve as her playground in her days of forced infantilism. And, since an empty playground wasn't much fun, she made new beings to use as toys and playmates. These creations she made all but immortal and with the power to sunder worlds or kindle stars, so that they would not break easily in her rougher games.

    First she made Altwaal and then six others: gentle Pyrem, relentless Trenin, bold Yala, scheming Orium, wrathful Ingra, and compasionate Gannish. Many more would follow, until Solusandra grew bored with her games and left Elysia.

    The discarded toys were made to forget about their true nature and creator, except for Altwaal, and soon deluded themselves into believing that they were the creators of the universe, the makers of all. They proclaimed themselves the First and, immediately, turned against each other to see who among them was the strongest, the supreme power of the universe. Soon enough, this was revealed to be Altwaal.


    His rule was long and peaceful, but it ended in blood and death. A power-hungry faction led by Orium sought to assassinate him, but only managed to claim the life of Raamia, Altwaal's lover. The god-king then broke the chief taboo of his people and used his divine power to return her to life, which immediately sparked a war between those who still accepted him as leader and those who rejected him for one reason or another.

    In spite of Altwaal's best efforts to restore peace, the war soon spread beyond Elysia and reached distant worlds. After the total annihilation of one such world, Altwaal forced all the First to return home and, after some deliberation with his closest friends, the god-king decided to split their world between the selfish and the selfless. Then, he vanished, never to return.



    The selfless First of House Dexter came to be ruled by Pyrem, noblest of them all. Meanwhile, Orium the usurper led House Sinister, until he was usurped in turn by Ingra. In this fashion, Elysia gained a measure of stability that lasted many, many thousands of years.

    During this time, the First came to be worshipped as gods in many worlds across the galaxy and spawned a new generation of godlings, the Secundae, but never became aware of the existence of Solusandra or located Altwaal's hiding place. With time, most First came to believe that their old king was gone for good and allowed themselves to relax in the relative ennui that had settled over Elysia.

    This ended with the coming of the Sigil Bearers.

  4. #4
    CROSSGEN 101
    THE SIGIL BEARERS

    For five hundred years, Danik analyzed and sometimes influenced the development of a myriad worlds, always guided by his foresight, until he eventually chose the individuals best suited for his purposes. In most cases, it was simple enough to convince mind addled Solusandra of the eminent suitability of his choices.

    Thus, Giselle Villard shook hands with a stranger during the ascension of her sister Genevieve to the rank of Nouveau Guild Master. This turned the talentless socialite into a magical powerhouse and bound to her soul the seven Guild Spirits, companions of the guild masters who for centuries had ruled her world of Ciress.


    Meanwhile, in Avalon, gallant prince Ethan Heron found himself the owner of a strange new power just before a ritual duel against the prince of an enemy land. His lack of control would result in his opponent being crippled, in defiance of the rules of the duel, and spark the embers of what would turn into a world war.


    And in the pleasure world of Tanipal, Samandahl Rey, soldier of fortune, was granted a different sigil that marked him as the foreseen commander of the Sigil Bearers in the conflict to come. Upset by the death of a friend during the ambush in which he gained control over inorganic matter, Sam prompty used his newfound power to level several city blocks.


    This tale was repeated, with different actors and scenarios, in a thousand times a thousand worlds. With few exceptions, these newly empowered mortals were detected by the First, who sent agents to determine whether they ought to be destroyed as threats or turned into assets. This reaction had been predicted and accounted for.

    However, even this early in the game, things started diverging from Danik's vision.

    Demetria, a world with a toxic surface in which most of its inhabitants lived in floating islands, had been chosen as home for two Sigil Bearers. Ilahn of Cadador received the power of destruction, as predicted, but his brother Turos proved too weak and died in the marking. Ultimately, his daughter Sephie inherited his sigil and the task of opposing Ilahn with her powers of healing and preservation.

    But it was in primitive Quin that the greatest divergence occurred. Solusandra, emboldened by her seeming success in the game, decided to mark Mordath, a tyrant centuries in the grave, against Danik's warnings. The warlord was resurrected as a revenant, whose sheer evil altered the dual nature of the sigil as symbol of creation and destruction into something purely destructive.

    And Danik and Solusandra could not distract themselves with such insignificant details anymore. Their activities had drawn to themselves the baleful attention of the remaining ascended Atlanteans, who quite emphatically disapproved.

    War was coming, far earlier than expected.

  5. #5
    CROSSGEN 101
    WAR IN HEAVEN

    The Atlanteans descended upon Danik and Solusandra, expecting as easy a victory as the one they had enjoyed over Solusandra in the past. They were wrong.

    That had been an ambush against a lone victim, caught unaware by the betrayal of her peers.

    This was war against two forewarned foes, one of them the strongest of them all, who had been preparing for a great conflict for ages.

    And so, even though it was two against a thousand, Danik and Solusandra withstood the first assault and then drove back the Atlanteans, who experienced pain and failure for the first time since gaining the nirvana of godhood.

    It could not last, of course. The defeat merely enraged the Atlanteans and their second strike forced the rebels to fall back. They were hounded by their foes in their retreat and entire star systems in the path of the battling gods annihilated.



    Ultimately, the Atlanteans cornered them and were about to deliver the final strike, when Solusandra reached for power beyond the wells of cosmic energy that the ascended had learned to tap from.

    She found it. A new, almost incomprehensibly vast well of power which she used to fight back without giving thought to the consequences.

    It was chaotic, volatile power.

    And it didn't mix well with the cosmic energies used by the Atlanteans.

    The backlash caused a cataclysmic multi-dimensional explosion that devastated a vast sector of the galaxy and utterly destroyed the gathered Atlanteans.

    Solusandra and Danik should have been destroyed as well. However, Solusandra -by pure stubborn power or sheerest chance- survived in a fragmented, limited state.

    As for Danik, he had left enough of himself in the various avatars he had created to mentor the Sigil Bearers, that he was able to put himself together after some time.


    Most importantly, the blind spot in his vision that had long hidden the nature of the coming threat had been lifted during the battle.

  6. #6
    CROSSGEN 101
    A THREAT REVEALED

    As it turned out, the blind spot in Danik's vision was his own fault and doing. Unlike the rest of his brethren, upon transforming into a quasi-omnipotent being, he looked back towards the place of his birth.

    And he found to his horror that the energies unleashed by the Transition had seemingly devastated Atlantis, destroying its civilization and killing most of those who had chosen to remain behind.

    Horrified by the discovery, too ashamed to consider helping, Danik walked away and did his best to forget his mortal existence. And, as a result, his subconscious blinded him to the happenings of Earth.

    He missed the slow, faltering steps that eventually led to the rise of Earth's second human civilization.

    He missed how, forty thousand years after the Transition, an archeologist called Robert Charon discovered the sunken ruins of Atlantis, as well as records of the great experiment that had transformed men into gods.

    He missed how a brilliant but demented scientist, Nathaniel Appolyon, was recruited for a project that sought to replicate the Transition.

    He missed how Appolyon tinkered with his own subtly flawed reproduction of the Transition mechanism to stop the handful of powerful men who sponsored his project from hoarding the ultimate power for themselves.

    And he missed how most of humanity was simultaneously ascended to a higher state of being and transported to a different universe by the unstable, chaotic energies released by the first attempt to experiment with the Transition machinery.

    This dimensional translocation was of such frightful intensity that most of the partially ascended humanity was rendered comatose. Only Appolyon and Charon escaped this fate. They had been the closest to the machine when it was activated and as a result obtained the greatest power, both the equal of any of the ascended Atlanteans.

    But even they hadn't escaped unscathed.

    The experience drove Appolyon sane, but Charon... Charon was driven to the brink of madness. Neither realized that they were in a new universe and assumed instead that their experiments had altered the very nature of reality.

    Initially, they collaborated, seeking a solution for the plight of humanity, but eventually Charon -frustrated with the changing laws of physics and their general lack of success- was pushed beyond sanity. Looking for clarity of mind, he expulsed from his mind his every hesitation, his every fear and anything that might make him doubt himself.

    These discarded thoughts and emotions reacted unexpectedly with the cosmic energies of the new universe and Charon's own godly might. The dark corners of Charon's soul were given flesh and power to match the First.

    Thus were born the ultimate abominations, the Lawbringers.


    Appolyon was horrified and sought to destroy the creatures, but Charon shielded his children. He was certain now that to find a solution to humanity's condition would require bringing order to a chaotic universe.

    Charon intended to be that order. He would conquer the universe, using his creatures as the enforcers of His Law.

    Alas, there was no place for Appolyon in this new order and he was forced to flee.

    Over the following millennia, Charon would conquer first a star system, then a galaxy and ultimately the entire universe. He found a cure for the catatonic humanity and, in gratitude, the humans joined in his effort to subjugate the cosmos.

    This universal empire came to be officially known as the Negation, as a denial of the chaos before Charon.

    As for Appolyon, he managed to hide for a time, but he was ultimately tracked down and defeated by Charon, who banished him to a hellish pocket dimension. There, he returned to his former madness and started planning his revenge against the Negation and, particularly, its God Emperor.


    This state of things lasted for a long time, until one day Charon felt a strange power reaching from beyond and taking power from his own well of power.

    That foreign power was none other than Solusandra defending herself against the host of the Atlanteans.

    Her action taught Charon how to peer beyond the walls of the universe he ruled. He realized then that the Transition had not altered the entire universe, but rather taken him to a new one.

    No matter. As he had brought order to the Negation's universe, he would also bring law and order to the universe of his birth. All the worlds in existence would enjoy the benefits of His enlightened rule.

    Even if they had to be dragged into the fold kicking and screaming.

  7. #7
    THE WOLD BEFORE SOZIN'S COMET

    Avatar World Map

    It is the Year of the Rabbit, fifty sixth of the reign of Firelord Sozin the Second, twentieth of the reign of Earth King Ba Ling, eleventh since the end of the Roku Era.

    Ten months ago, the Fire Nation closed its ports and skies to all foreign visitors and currently all its international trade is being carried out through the outposts it has created over the last decade in the western coast of the Earth Kingdom, particularly the fast growing colony of Yu Dao.

    The official explanation for these actions is protection against the pirates that have plagued the waters between both kingdoms for many years now. The same justification has been used to fortify and garrison the outposts, which has caused some concern among the governors and petty kings of the western Earth Kingdom.

    True, they authorized the Fire Lord to create those outposts, but that was when they were sure that Sozin would not dare to ignore Avatar Roku's legendary rebuke, even with the Avatar recently dead. However, Roku has been dead for many years now and the Avatar who will name the new Era has yet to be revealed, yet to be trained. He'll be a non-entity for several more years, at the least.

    What few reports come out of the Fire archipelago through smugglers and spies speak of a great military buildup, in a scale far beyond any conceivable amount of force that could be needed to put an end to the pirate threat. Also, it hasn't escaped notice that firebenders seem to be an overwhelming majority among the 'pirates'.

    The signs are obvious, the conclusion inescapable.

    War, as the world has not known it in many an age, is coming.

    But war against whom? That is the unanswered question.

    Not against the Earth Kingdom, certainly. Above and beyond the Avatar's ban, the strength of the Fire Nation rests in its command of the seas, which would be about useless beyond the shoreline. The almost boundless territory of the Earth Kingdom and its titanic population is something that the Fire Nation, for all its power, cannot hope to overcome, not even in a hundred years.

    Since Fire Lord Sozin is not such a fool as to embark in an unwinnable conflict, he must be planning against a different target.

    Those best informed think that the Fire Lord plans to strike against the Water Tribes, which will certainly pose a great challenge for anyone who must cross the seas to reach their territory, but not one as great as the unyielding walls of the Earth Kingdom.

    Most agree that the territories of the Air Nomads cannot be Sozin's target. Their lands are poor, their people few and no force they could muster would justify a buildup as great as what's being reported. Moreover, anything that could be won through military conquest could be extorted at lesser cost and effort through diplomacy, seeing that in the case of invasion the nomads will retreat to their temples, which all conventional military wisdom considers utterly impregnable for non-airbenders.

    Still, the Fathers and Mothers Superior worry. They are aware of all this and Afiko of the Southern Temple, who was ambassador to the Fire Nation, is certain that the Fire Lord is no threat, but they worry. They dread that proud Sozin might be planning the ultimate blasphemy, to avenge his old humiliation and strike against Roku's reincarnation.

    The object of their worries is currently in the Earth Kingdom city of Omashu, as part of a delegation that will be returning home in a couple of months. As in previous visits to the other nations, the young monk has been making friends and engaging in stupidly dangerous activities for fun, driving his caretaker up the wall with amusing regularity.

    And, in his palace, the Fire Lord looks at the night sky and counts the days left. Years ago, he learned from the Fire Sages of the comet that every hundred years passes close enough to the world that its fire turns firebenders into gods. For many years now, this comet has featured prominently in his plans. The few hours of extraordinary power that it will grant his subjects shall be the beginning of a new age.

    And the world will be a better place for it.
    Last edited by Estrecca; 02-15-2015 at 06:11 PM.

  8. #8
    MAP OF TAKU


    With a population of approximately one hundred and fifty five thousand souls, Taku is the ninth largest city in the world and the greatest hub of civilization to be found in a radius of five hundred kilometers. Strategically located in the confluence of the Brown River and the land route that connects the Great Western Peninsula with the rest of the Earth Kingdom, Taku has a long, rich and remarkably turbulent history.

    In spite of this, Taku has long been a flourishing center of trade that has generally prospered, regardless of its masters of the day, for most of the petty kings and princes who sought to control the city knew better than to strangle the chickencat that lays golden eggs.

    Currently, not even the partial collapse of the Great Bridge during the winter floods has managed to put an end to the good times. The bridge will be rebuilt as soon as Ba Sing Se coughs up the money (which the governor is sure will happen soon, considering that he delivered the customary bribes to the senior under-secretaries along with his request) and meanwhile there is a perfectly functional ferry service.

    Main roads in red, yellow for the posh part of the city, grey for the low income/docks area, purple for constructions done in the last sixty years. In the opposite shore we have an overgrown fisherman village that is not considered part of Taku proper and north of the city walls, the blue and white circle would be the Taku Insitute of Herbology, perhaps the finest medical institution this side of Ba Sing Se.

  9. #9
    You have chosen a) [x] Pre-generated non-canon character; b) [x] 9.

    Processing...

    Name: Lifen.
    Background: Eldest daughter of Niu and Chen, sister of two, resident healers of Fujiang, a village in the north-western Earth Kingdom. Currently learning the trade at the reputed Taku Institute of Herbology
    Nationality: Earth Kingdom.
    Gender: Female.
    Age: 22.
    Physical description: Slightly taller than average (5' 4'', 1.63m) and kind of spindly (102 pd, 46kg). Distinctly average in looks, neither ugly, nor particularly pretty. Green eyes. Moderately long brown hair, braided.
    Skills: Thoroughly knowledgeable about plantlife and its uses in medicine. Competent in basic healing. Novice in the field of surgery. Pretty experienced in animal husbandry and sewing. Decent cook. Also has a pretty nice singing voice.
    Personality: Great work ethic. Very outspoken. Self-conscious to the point that she has trouble recognizing her own accomplishments. Mean temper when frustrated.
    Bender (Y/N): Earthbender, slightly above average power/skill, no combat training.
    Sigil Power shall be defined through initial in-quest choices.

  10. #10
    0.1 A WHITE DAY

    A stomp causes a rock pillar to erupt from the ground, thrice as tall as a man and broad as a barrel.

    You are Lifen, apprentice healer, and most days you are pretty content with your lot in life. You have always had enough food, you have never lost a friend or close relative to violence or plague, you have had the opportunity to learn a honorable trade in a prestigious school.

    Today is not most days, however.

    A punch sends a rock the size of a pumpkin flying against the pillar. Others follow, as swiftly as your tiring arms allow.

    It was a foregone conclusion, according to your instructors.

    Shuchun had been living in borrowed time for years. There was a foulness in her body that even the most learned doctors in the realm could not heal. Even continual healing sessions performed by a waterbender had failed her. They had alleviated the symptons and made her final days bearable, but her spirit had been left exhausted.

    The end, when it came, was swift and almost gentle.

    After the northerner, Akna, had admitted her inability to help any further, Shuchun had bid her family a tearful farewell. Then, she had called for you and your master, and requested a poppy draught. You... can take some small measure of comfort in knowing that the concoction you prepared did its job perfectly.

    Deep, dreamless sleep had claimed the petite woman in minutes. Death followed shortly after.

    The bombardment lasts minutes and when it ends the rock pillar has been eroded down to half its original size. You double over, unused to this degree of effort, as pants mixed with sobs rack your body.

    Then, that witch Akna... the bitch... She had had the unmitigated gall to blame "the barbaric practices" of Earth Kingdom doctors for the death. Only sheer shock and the hand of Master Ping upon your shoulder had stopped you from tearing into the waterbender.

    You punch the ground with both hands and the pillar shatters. With an act of will, you force yourself to breath deeply and then start smoothing the ground, hiding the signs of your loss of control. Fortunately, there is no great need of leaving this small quarry, owned by the Institute and used by you and other attending earthbenders for practice, in pristine condition.

    All the same, your heart is in turmoil.

    You cannot forget the thoughtful look in the face of Shuchun's husband, the merchant Yong, when he asked all strangers to leave, so that the family may prepare for the funeral.

    You fear that Yong may take to heart Akna's libel, that he may decide to end his generous patronage of the Institute and, more pointedly, that Yong may soon cease to be your sponsor. Shuchun, a distant relative of one of your uncles, was instrumental in getting you her husband's support.

    And now she is gone and soon you may be without a future.

    And... you have to decide what you want to do with the rest of your day. Master Ping gave you the day off after seeing the state you were in and there are better things to do than to keep moving rocks.

    [ ] You can go to the docks. Tribal visitors usually stay in that area and you are pretty sure that you can find Akna asking around. You won't go looking for a fight, but even a shouting match with that harpy will do your frustrations a world of good. And... who knows? Maybe she will give you an excuse. This leads us towards powers inherently focused around confrontation, attack or detection.

    [ ] You can go to the Institute and dress up in white for Shuchun's funeral. Whether Yong will allow you to join the ceremony, you don't know, and it is possible that your presumption will irritate him if you try. All the same, you owe Shuchun a great debt of gratitude that can never be repaid. Attending the funeral is the very least you can do. This leads us towards powers that are "neutral" in the sense that their primary use is neither offensive, nor defensive.

    [ ] You can try to move on and bury these raw feelings under the emotion of trying new things or the dullness of routine. You can certainly find something new or interesting in this great city. And, if you are not in the mood for that, there is always work of one kind or another to do at the Institute. A confrontation would be useless and miring yourself in recollection can bring only further pain. This leads us towards powers connected primarily to the concepts of avoidance, evasion and defense.

    [ ] Write in.

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