Land of the Lotus Eaters
"Sleep -- sleep as my Master sleeps, lie in an endless dream between life and death. Dream peacefully. Dream beautifully. This is my final gift to you, children of a doomed world."
LAND OF THE LOTUS-EATERS was a special event on Battle Fantasia MUSH that ran through the second half of June 2018.
Magical girls have been absorbed, body, mind and spirit, into the fully unleashed Book of Darkness, who claims to be granting her Master's final wish by giving them all the gift of eternal peace: an endless, perfect dream, surrounded by their friends and loved ones.
A fantasy where no one is missing -- no one is lost.
And everything is fine...
Over the next two weeks, magical girls will explore their own, personal fantasy worlds, complete with idealized versions of their family and friends, enemies and allies -- and know temptation. Eventually they will encounter one another, not as each other's fantasies, but as fellow prisoners, and must search for the truth at the heart of the lie. And they will have to decide for themselves whether or not the ugly reality outside is really worth fighting for -- given who and what they'll have to leave behind.
Meanwhile, in the real world, the Book of Darkness is beginning to run rampant. She threw a vastly powerful Barrier across Tokyo, shifting the initial violence caused by her simple presence over by one dimension, but it won't be strong enough to stop NachtWal from destroying the Earth. In the meantime, those magical girls who weren't trapped in the Book must contend with a Tokyo fast transforming into an unfamiliar hellscape of grinding pillars of stone and howling pillars of magma. And the Barrier is far from perfect -- millions may have become hundreds, but there are still ordinary people trapped in there with them, too... all too vulnerable.
As magical girls escape from their dreams and into a waking nightmare, they will join their allies outside in doing what they can to protect what's left of Tokyo.
The Three Phases
There are there phases to the Land of the Lotus-Eaters plot:
- The Fantasy World
- The Shared Dream
- The Waking Nightmare
Players who absolutely want to opt-out of having a character absorbed by the Book can proceed directly to the third phase, 'The Waking Nightmare', where they will be gradually joined by Book of Darkness escapees.
Everyone else wakes up inside The Fantasy World!
The Fantasy World
Anyone who wants their character to have been absorbed into the Book of Darkness (and this is highly, highly encouraged) is welcome to assume they were there on the margins of the magical girl army that witnessed her rebirth, and should read the contents of What Lies Beneath 18 and consider it IC knowledge.
Characters absorbed by the Book awaken in not only their own bed but the /ultimate/ bed, the bed that most feels like home, a bed that may have been lost forever or even one that has never existed. They are safe and surrounded by the ones they love most, who are eager to comfort them from the nightmare they just experienced, and help them adjust back to 'reality', in a lovely, peaceful world.
Constructing a character's fantasy world is an opportunity to:
- Bring back dead characters, returning them to living, happy selves.
- Reimagine living characters through the lens of your character's fantasy; enemies could become allies, crushes could become romances, broken friendships mended, lost souls saved.
- Rewrite history wholesale, if things went off the rails years ago and your character might awaken in an extremely different life than the one they had.
- Ultimately, explore the ways in which the real world is better than the fantasy one. If Fate Testarossa hadn't had a broken family, she never would have met Nanoha Takamachi. In what ways have the trials of the real world made it worth saving?
It is not an opportunity to:
- Create a Candy Land where all the buildings are made out of choco parfait and takoyaki, NAGISA MISUMI. >:|
- In more seriousness, these dreams are powerful simulations driven by the characters' memories and desires, but they do fundamentally simulate the character's ideal /world/, as in a recognizable Earth, and furthermore, unless it is absolutely unworkable, their ideal Tokyo (for reasons that will become obvious).
- Unfortunately for those who were eager to get into trippy dream logic, it is NOT obviously a dream; the fantasy world has verisimilitude in terms of being a real place filled with real people, even if everything else feels impossible. Impossibly wonderful, that is.
Players are encouraged to introduce their character's fantasy world through a cutscene of their characters first awakening and discovering that everything up until this point has 'all been a bad dream,' posted to the wiki with the following format: YYYY-MM-DD - LOTUS AWAKENING: Character Name. (They can of course also put it on the MUSH bulletin boards if they like.) These cutscenes, besides being an opportunity to really pull on the heartstrings, are useful worldbuilding that can be referenced by other players, because:
During the first phase, any given scene can only exist in a single character's dream. All other participants are invited and encouraged to discuss NPCing special, important characters featured prominently in the main character's fantasy (such as dead family members), but can, alternatively, play the fantasy version of their own character, as envisioned deep in the heart of the main character.
- For example: Fate Testarossa, Nanoha Takamachi and Vita want to have a Fantasy World scene. They decide to let Fate be the main character. Nanoha volunteers to NPC Alicia Testarossa, and Vita appears as a version of herself that Fate dreams of being friends with. (Fate and Nanoha discuss OOCly who the fantasy Alicia Testarossa is, her role within the dream; Fate and Vita do the same about fantasy Vita. Players are encouraged to be flexible about conforming to the fantasies of the main character, as roleplaying (admittedly often somewhat Stepford) alternative versions of themselves, as wished for by another character, is a pretty unique gameplay opportunity. Fantasizing players are expected to keep it classy, as is always the case on Battle Fantasia.)
Many characters will be unable to break out of their fantasy without intervention by another. The Shared Dream begins when Fate Testarossa confronts the truth that her dream is not and cannot be real, and that she wants to leave it behind -- and discovers the World Tree at the heart of her dream. She can then use it to transport herself into someone else's dream, replacing her dream double.
Once this happens (it will be flagged both via bbpost and on this wiki page), all of The Fantasy Worlds begin to merge into The Shared Dream. During phase two, The Shared Dream, characters are now wandering through each others' fantasies, in a single, larger fantasy. Given that most characters want to live blissfully in a Tokyo-like location, this is often seamless, but not always. Still, the power of the Book of Darkness is very strong, and the Land of the Lotus-Eaters is very seductive; even as prisoners are able to meet one another and speculate as to what's going on, the Book tends to keep mortal enemies apart, unless reuniting with one another is a deeper level of their fantasy. The Shared Dream is still a beautiful dream -- many beautiful dreams, fading into one another.
- For example: Fate Testarossa, Steven Universe and Saki Hyuuga want to have a scene in The Shared Dream. Fate is already fully awake, and replaces her dream double; the world of this scene is is a blend of Steven and Saki's ideal worlds. As this is a shared dream, Fate and Steven can encounter Saki's fantasy version of Michiru Kiryuu, or Fate and Saki can encounter Steven's fantasy version of Rose Quartz, or both...
It is worth noting, however, that the 'idealized' PCs and NPCs within their fantasy are also aware that this is only a dream; they want to keep their main character safe and happy within the dream, but are also willing to grant them absolution to leave them behind and depart into the real world. This is a rare opportunity for closure, though not required.
Players are strongly encouraged to allow others (whether 'awakened' PCs, or idealized but actively posed PCs and NPCs) to help them find the strength to leave the Land of the Lotus-Eaters, as it should not be easy or trivial to be willing to depart; the journey of accepting and embracing a more painful reality is far better undertaken as an interactive scene rather than as a cutscene alone. However, for those who prefer it, cutscenes are also welcome. In either case, logs/cutscenes involving this turning point in any character's arc should be named under the following scheme: YYYY-MM-DD - LOTUS INCEPTION: Character Name(s)
Once fully awakened and accepting of reality, characters can stay in The Shared Dream to help free their friends, or escape the Book of Darkness via the World Tree, which exists at the heart of all of their dreams, and will return them to the shattered deadwood corpse of the real Tree in Tokyo.
This begins the third phase: The Waking Nightmare.
The Waking Nightmare
A generation ago, the magical girls of Earth were decimated trying to contain and defeat the Book of Darkness; it was the most significant magical event of the new millennium, until the Long Dark Night in 2013. It is widely understood IC knowledge that Signum, Vita, Shamal and Zafira, aka the Wolkenritter, aka the Cloud Knights, have been ambushing magical girls and draining their magic into the Book of Darkness in order to fill all of its pages -- at which point the Book of Darkness will basically go supernova in a world-ending-threat-level event.
Apparently the first stage of 'supernova' was the Book transforming into a scary woman who calls herself the Tome of the Night Sky. The first thing she did was suck every magical girl she could sense into the Book of Darkness' Fantasy World. The second thing she did was spread a Barrier across Tokyo.
A 'Barrier', in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha terms, is a particular class of magical spell: a wide-area field that shifts everything within that field about half a dimension to the left, metaphysically metaphorically speaking. The chief effect that it has is to remove all noncombatants and other non-magical people from the area it encompasses, which allows magical combat to continue with only minimal risk of collateral damage.
The Book of Darkness' barrier won't protect the world from ending when the automated defense program within her being known as NachtWal goes berserk, since that blast is far greater than her barrier can contain.
And, because Tokyo is so huge and there are so many people in it, neither is it totally successful at keeping all the noncombatants out. A small handful of noncombatants, usually either already-magical people or people closely connected to magical people, such as friends and family, have found themselves drawn inside... and Tokyo, on the other side of the barrier, is an ugly place.
(This is strictly optional. There are a handful of people stranded in Battlefield Tokyo for exactly two reasons, narratively: first, to have people to rescue on general principles, and second, for characters who want to be OUTTED to a normal friend or family member to have a dramatic opportunity to do so, in rescuing them (Recognition Inhibition is still 'on', but this is a good reason for it to fail if someone wants it to fail in order to tell their story). If you've wanted your parents to find out what you do, or want your long-misled best friend in on the secret, this is a good time for that!)
The Waking Nightmare is yellow-and-black-skied, with a great deal of purple lightning. It is filled with eerily empty streets and skyscrapers, punctuated here and there with jagged stone spires and immense geysers of magma, created by the seismic instabilities already beginning to engulf the world as the Book of Darkness' power unfolds.
- The Book of Darkness herself, if engaged, will immediately suck combatants into the Fantasy World, which is another way of saying DON'T.
- Fleeing from her, finding allies, protecting civilians and lamenting the state of things is more the order of the day.
- There is also some pathos to be had wandering through the creepily empty, shattered cityscape.
When everyone has escaped the Shared Dream and regrouped to confront the Book of Darkness, we will be at the true finale of What Lies Beneath.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I wasn't at What Lies Beneath 17-18, can I still have been sucked into the Book of Darkness?
A: Yes! It is safe to assume your character was on the margins of those events; the Book of Darkness cast a very wide net when she absorbed everyone in.
Q: What's the approximate OOC timeline here?
A: Since there's a lot of pathos to go around, we expect to spend around a week in The Fantasy World and a week in The Shared Dream, with maybe each of those being a bit less than a week to make some space for The Waking Nightmare (though it is the least important of the three for participants of the entire plot, since its experience will in most senses be covered by the plot's actual finale).
A2: Individuals can go at their own pace, if they want to spend more time in The Fantasy World after Fate's escape initiates The Shared Dream. Time is all very relative right now, anyway.
Q: I need someone to NPC my dead parents! What should I do?
A: Ask! The staff will be on hand to provide NPC support, but the playerbase is also very strongly encouraged to volunteer.
Please add yourself and a one-sentence description of the core concept of your character's dream world to the list.
- Fate Testarossa is living happily with her mother, sister, and teacher.
- Niramo Umokeshi has a family who is always there for her, and is the leader of the magical protectors of Earth, the Stardust Champions.
- Nori Ankou is in a storm-wracked and gothic Tokyo, where everyone is gorgeous, especially the precious ones.
- Fuu Hououji is a regular schoolgirl, her adventures as a Magic Knight now the province of a tabletop RPG campaign.
- Mai Tokiha is a carefree teenager with a pet bird, independent of magical trouble, Ohtori weirdness, or anyone depending on her.
- Eri Shimanouchi is an average middle schooler, free of contracts and obligations, living her best life with her family and friends.
- Inori Yamabuki is brimming with confidence and getting her happiness as a normal girl.
- Lera Camry is back on Midchilda, with her mother... and father, who is alive and well.
- Mikoto Minagi and her beloved family deal with monstrous threats from their shrine on Mount Moto, so that the world of Tokyo below can remain peaceful and happy.
- Steven Universe is just a human with his mother, Rose Quartz back. Beach City has wholly relocated to Tokyo, and all Gems get along with humans!
- Kasagami Araki is the King of Tokyo, fighting the Darkmoon Empire alongside a royal court of valued allies and enemies.
- Kimiko Akane is just a regular teenager with a normal family consisting of her mother, younger sister and father.
- Nanoha Takamachi is a normal, happy and carefree kid surrounded by many friends and her loving family.
- Setsuna Meioh is a magical girl in a Tokyo that never suffers world-ending threats, which leaves plenty of time for beach trips with Small Lady.
- Setsuna Higashi lives with her father Moebius outside Clover Town, representatives of advanced Labyrinth here to meet and help Earth people.
- Takeo Akamizu lives a life of racing for fun, going to school, and actually sleeping at night. He spends time with his healthy sister, his best friend, and his ... other best friend, all while taking care of his pet rabbit Merlin.
Please include 'LOTUS' in the title of all of your logs and cutscenes, and they'll automatically appear here.