m (Protected "Ethereal Prefecture" ([edit=autoconfirmed] (indefinite) [move=autoconfirmed] (indefinite)))
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This article (Ethereal Prefecture), is fan fiction and isn't automatically canon. On the other hand, no one said it isn't.
Unlike the Not Canon banner, this page is not intended to be seen as lore from Team Paradox, and is instead something from the mind of the author. It is, however, supposed to be read and enjoyed. Have fun! You should also browse the fan fiction category for more content. Maybe these will inspire you to write your own projects.
Three chambers of the Ethereal Prefecture
Paradox: Renaissance Faction
"You think you own whatever land you land on, The earth is just a dead thing you can claim. But I know every rock and tree and creature Has a life, has a spirit, has a name."
- Unknown inscription, found carved in a black stone
The Ethereal Prefecture, otherwise known as the Prefecture or simply EP is a new faction for Paradox: Renaissance. Created from the dying gasps of humanity's collective elimination of magic, the Ethereal Prefecture is a bureaucratic coalition of frightened – and dangerous – magical beings struggling against both a world that no longer believes in them as well as an inner crisis about their very existence.
The Ethereal Prefecture are symbolized by three streaks of light on a purple circular background, which represent the Chamber of the Moon, the Chamber of the Sun, and the Chamber of the Stars as a singular whole.
Throughout the ages, there had always been periods of time in which knowledge was suddenly lost, and other periods of time in which knowledge was suddenly gained. As civilizations rose and others fell, so too did new discoveries spread and other discoveries lost to war and natural destruction. What was lost may be found again in time by others, and before the advent of widespread communication it was not uncommon for several people or groups to lay claim to discovering something first at the same time. And occasionally, on a small scale, there would be a paradigm shift: the discovery of a truth so profound that it would completely change the way a society looked at themselves and their world.
When these paradigm shifts happened, however, they often left residuals of their old truths behind. Such residuals lingered under the 'old ways', but they were never widespread enough, nor powerful enough to have an effect on any more than a local area. Confronted by the new truth and reality of things, they would soon dissipate and leave the rest of the world as it was – real.
In the 15th century, mythology was still strong. Rumors, legends, folklore and stories abounded throughout the world, with every civilization having their own bestiary of monsters, hobgoblins, and faeries described and documented. Their reality was an utter non-question in the shape of things, but as the 15th century dragged on things began to change. The fall of Constantinople brought in ancient texts from Greece in the hands of refugees to the attention of the Europeans, and new and old ideas began to appear amongst the populace. Increased trade with Asia brought in new goods and new markets. Printing allowed books to become more prevalent, and suddenly the populace as a whole had more access to knowledge than they had before. And in 1483, noted scholar Giovanni Pico della Mirandola wrote a certain text known as the "Oration on the Dignity of Man". It was an explosion of philosophical and humanistic thought, and one that send waves throughout the metaideological belief system of the Old World. Suddenly, knowledge and the sciences in the decades to come would be flooded with new ideas, new theories and discoveries, and old ways would start to slowly disappear.
And, just as a new scientific revolution started to flood across the nations of the earth, there came a backlash. One by one, the magical beings of folklore and mythology began to exist.
The formative years of the mythological community before the creation of the Prefecture was one of fear and confusion. Though they had been borne into existence with memories and knowledge of what they were in their minds, the magical beings of the world that had been created from the cosmic backlash of a false reality had no idea where they were or even why they were. Fae courts intricately described in old lore and texts almost immediately broke down as subjects pleaded for answers and information from queens and rulers that knew no more than they did. Angelic hierarchies found themselves cut off from a higher deity that their memories told them had always been in existence. The Asura found themselves preparing for battles with foes that did not exist, and the kami emerged to find their shrines no longer calmed them as the spirits thought they once did. Mythologies of different cultures clashed in trading towns and ports, and panic and fear was rife. And under and above it all, humanity continued their own lives, ignorant and unseeing.
Many soon crumbled into nonexistence in those early days, whether from being in isolated pockets of Mania that soon dried up or from conflicts with other mythological beings in futile searches for some meaning or reason to their existence. But the wisest of the creatures, those whose myths and folklore painted them as being wise or clever, were able to gather more of their people, and learn that despite their backgrounds they were only safe when with each other. Others among them noticed that when clustered, it was easier to stay stable, easier to avoid the slow pain that was obliteration against the shoals of a reality that now refused to incorporate them. In great groups they gathered, and when their combined presence grew too great and too crowded from refugees, the mythological groups set out on stolen ships or on the backs of giant sea creatures in the dark of night, seeking a place where they could shelter and find answers to why they were there.
They sailed west, and they sailed east. They sailed north and south, and wherever they went they found more of their kind. Soon sailors and explorers plying the waterways of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans reported seeing great fleets of ethereal ghostly figures sailing the stars and seas, spreading rumors of the ghosts of dead ships that soon rose up and joined their originators in the search for a new home. They traveled before and alongside the exploratory ships of Christopher Columbus, forced to turn back halfway through his journey after over two months trapped in a waterlogged forest of oak and pine. The great Chinese merchant fleets were forced to stay close to home, lest they become lost in a tangle of ghost lights and slippery tentacles from the deep. The Spanish conquistadors seeking to voyage into the unknown found themselves instead haunted by lost loved ones and perceived angels of sin, and returned home to absolve themselves before they could reach their intended destinations. But while European and Asiatic powers stalled in their oceanic voyages, the unquiet forms of the unreal sailed on.
Eventually, they reached a land still thick in mystery, uncharted and home to an indigenous people where the scientific revolution had not yet spread. Exiled from their myriad homelands, the mythological beings stopped and coalesced on the great unknown continent – the dark and threatening New World.
When the ghost fleets washed up on the shores of the Americas, the indigenous population of the New World was still thriving. Millions of people inhabited the great continent, and as the mythological exiles explored they came upon these people, and received a surprising reaction – acceptance. They did not deny the reality of the exiles, but accepted, implored, and feared their actions and decisions. For once in their false lives the mythological exiles were now recognized and realized, and the resulting excitement stirred something up within the masses of the beings. They took to the New World like a child finding a lost mother, and instilled their false selves into it. The forests and rivers teemed with new spirits, and the plains and pampas shook with the hoofbeats of twisted equinoids. Deserts brought relief for those cast into being upon the more arid regions of the world, while those more accustomed to the wet and moist slunk within the innards of the mighty rainforests to the south. But even as the mythological beings settled into this new world, they could feel the echoes of the old world drawing nearer.
Decades passed, and men once more took to the open oceans in search of new trade routes and new avenues of wealth. Greed and desire beat out fear, and even the threats of what lay beyond could not quench their desire to see what lay beyond the horizon. Over many years, fingers and tendrils of the old reached out to the new. And even where the natives, strengthened and immunized by their contact with the unreal, beat out the intruders still more came. Some came with guns, and they were thrust upon, but others came with trade goods and were cautiously allowed within. And as the visitations and colonies of the foreigners increased, so too did their mythological children see them...and wonder.
The leaders of the fleet came together, their actions now boosted by the power of belief and hope. While their subjects drank deep from the wellspring of the local mythology and folklore and started to incorporate elements of it into themselves, their rulers delved into the mysteries of why they existed as a group. They discovered the terrible secret of their origins – that they were only created in order to be destroyed, that reality had birthed them out of a paradoxical reflex and now sought to eradicate them once more from existence.
And as they deliberated and shared their results, there came a growing anger against the true 'reality' from the leadership of the exiles. Why should they be made only to be unmade again? Why was their reality, their fate any less valid than that of a world that did not believe they even existed anymore? And from this anger came a decision...that they would be inactive, they would be despondent no more.
If they were not to be recognized by the world, then they would make it recognize them. Through the power and leadership of the Tricameral Legislature, they would force their old homes to re-believe in them – by proof, if necessary. They would be exiles no longer.
The Ethereal Prefecture do not really exist as far as the regular world is concerned – they are made of and powered by a false reality that allows for their existence, one that is created and spread when more and more of these 'magical' beings come together and collectively agree that they are actually real. These areas are strange and often hostile places compared to inhabitants of true reality, where things don't work quite as they should and other things are not always as they appear. This is known as Mania, and enemy units in Mania are less effective due to being on even more unfamiliar ground than usual.
Unfortunately for the Prefecture, being outside of Mania means having their reality slowly fade over time, and as such they are less powerful when outside of it. Lesser Beings depend on the substantiation given by Mania so much that they will steadily lose health when outside of it, eventually obliterating them in time. Fortunately, however, all Prefecture buildings and some units can spread Mania on the field.
When in Mania, enemy units are not only at the mercy of the strange landscape and Prefecture defenders, but also of themselves. When killed within a patch of Mania, enemy units will turn into several lesser Beings, the exact type depending on which type of unit the destroyed one was. This can turn what was previously a successful charge into a failed route, so enemy generals should prepare for Possession when assaulting Prefecture strongholds.
The main focus of any Prefecture presence on the battlefield, The Pyramid of the Three Chambers is a mighty building that provides its own stores of Labor and Supply for the Prefecture to use, as well as generates constant Mania around itself. If destroyed, it unleashes a devastating Mania Storm that can totally wipe out all forces and buildings near it. However, additional banding and materials can be bought to increase health and labor supplied.
There are many Mounds scattered throughout Prefecture encampments, and each Mound is dedicated towards summoning one or two different types of Being – the weakest and most numerous type of Prefecture 'soldier' - into battle. They require few Supplies to be made, but are especially vulnerable to Siege Engines and other weaponry.
Representing the Chamber of the Sun, the Solar Ziggaraut is the staging ground for the Revenant forces of the Prefecture: offensive-oriented beasts that excel at damaging the enemy or assisting their lesser brethren with combat but are more exposed and vulnerable to counter-fire.
Representing the Chamber of the Moon, the Lunar Cenotaph is the focal point for the Horrors of the Prefecture: defensive-minded spirits that are skilled in defending themselves and protecting smaller and weaker friendly fighters, but whose armoured bulk slows them down and prevents them from quickly entering or existing combat.
Representing the Chamber of the Stars, the Astral Monolith is the gathering area for the Phantasm troops of the Prefecture: supportive and fleet-footed creatures who can move quickly about the battlefield, but are only lightly armed and unskilled in true combat.
Built upon specially treated unhallowed ground, the Shrine is constantly maintained by several Observers who both stabilize the unreality of Prefecture forces to heal their 'wounds', and pacify the spirits needed to inhabit the mighty Pillars.
Temple of Sacrifice
Within this ominous edifice, channels run thick with Mania and blood while the high priestess of the Prefecture meditates within. Once the time is right, it will open up to reveal the powerful Champion Ixcuina.
Superior Weapon: An enormous jet black stone, the Obsidian Egg will, with time and Mania, eventually hatch into something greater...
Sub-Unit: Quetzalcoatl – The coalesced hopes, dreams, and nightmares of the Prefecture formed into a physical god, the great Winged Serpent believes itself to be on a holy path of vengeance against the defilers of 'its' people, and acts accordingly. Any nearby units are guaranteed to be destroyed through teeth or magical winds, the landscape scoured and broken, and even Prefecture forces are sucked up and dashed against the howling false reality that forms it. Eventually, however, the sheer force of Quetzalcoatl's existence will cause it to burn itself out and return back to the formless void from whence it came.
Enormous black dogs made from midnight and Mania that hunt in packs of three, the Barghest stalk enemy infantry and rip them apart with spectral teeth and claws. Their residual instincts still allow them to act as effective scouts, and their disembodied nature lowers the morale of enemy cavalry and infantry near them.
Mindless spirits born from the fog of Mania, Spriggans exist only to play and wreak havoc and are thus deemed easily expendable by the Tricameral Legislature. Summoned into solidarity in packs of six, they are easily destroyed and poorly armed but in great enough numbers can bring down enemy warriors by tearing into their minds with intangible claws. When in a field of Mania, Spriggans can teleport to any other patch of Mania on the field.
Hunched over and gnarled, the grotesque Trasgo are larger and bulkier variants of Spriggans, summoned into the field in packs of five. Grasping long roots fashioned into crude ropes and nooses to fell mounts and strangle their riders, they can overwhelm even the strongest cavalry with enough numerical superiority, though on an individual scale are easily killed. They can strip trees to nothing but stumps in order to improve their weapons and temporarily increase damage dealt.
A collection of madmen, prophets, native shamans, and New World priests that have pledged themselves to the Prefecture's cause, Witches are human enough to take over enemy buildings and yet unearthly enough to repair those of their own side. Though unarmed and unarmored, they can perform a Ritual to spread or create patches of Mania.
Skeletal black colts covered in thorny vines and bleeding from phantom brands, the wild Pooka stampede into existence in herds of four, serving as riderless and untamed light cavalry. In great enough numbers their hooves and teeth can smash apart infantry standing in their way, and individual Pooka can hook themselves to enemy packed Siege Engines and move them out of alignment or into friendly lines of fire.
With a broad build and four pairs of legs, Sleipnir are bulkier and more disciplined variants of the Pooka with only a single goal – to assist in the destruction of enemy forces by transporting weaker infantry to the battle lines. Up to eight infantry may hang onto the sides of the Sleipnir as it rushes quickly into battle, after which it will shake them off violently and return to the encampment for more infantry.
Water-preferring scaled humanoids bedecked with algae and seaweed, Kappa are highly exposed and vulnerable on land but more powerful in the water, bashing against the hulls of ships and attacking their crews to slowly sink them over time. Summoned in packs of five, they may dive to the bottom of riverbeds and seafloors when in the water, hiding themselves unseen while they wait for prey to pass by.
Monstrous winged beings with felinesque heads and thick muscular arms, the bestial Gargoyles are keen-eyed scavengers that in large enough flocks can tear apart aircraft and even destroy Siege Engines and other defenses. Arriving in flocks of three, their stony skin gives them the ability to fly to the ground and curl up, becoming immobile but much more resistant to damage.
High Priestess of the Tricameral Legislature, Ixcuina strikes a commanding figure with her flowing ceremonial robes, concealing gold headdress, and ornate sacrificial knife. Heavily steeped in the false reality of the Prefecture, she freely manipulates the 'winds' of magic to rip apart everything from the toughest of warriors to the fastest of cavalry or the most mighty of war machines. By whispering to the dead, she may trap enemy units with the hands and corpses of those fallen in battle, leaving them helpless against her oncoming onslaught.
From out of the New World the Wendigo lopes, with the head of a deer, oversized limbs, and an enormous obsidian blade. It can cleave through infantry in a radius in front of it and scale sheer cliffs and walls, as well as pick up and wear the skin of an infantry corpse to disguise itself to enemy warriors.
Coming from the mysterious East, the tiger-headed Rakshasa uses its imposing bulk and fierce strength not to fight up close, but to wield and fire the enormous reflex bow it carries with it at all times. It can take down cavalry from afar though infantry are harder to hit, and by sacrificing part of its own stability warp its bow into the Narayanastra that fires several flights of arrows at once.
Appearing as a massive group of intertwined rats linked via hive mind to each other, the Rattenkonig is easily destroyed by ranged weaponry, but has an innate resistance to melee attacks. They can cover infantry or cavalry to continually damage them until shot or hacked off, or they can choose to cover friendly infantry and drive them into a frenzied rage, further increasing their movement and damage.
Riding on knotted stags with obsidian horns, the riders of the Wild Hunt lash out at enemy infantry with black sickles, and inflict and receive more damage with every person they kill. They can choose to sacrifice lesser Beings in order to bolster the stability of their mounts, granting them temporarily faster speed.
With leonine bodies and the heads of fearsome raptors, Hieracosphinxes are ever-watchful predators that excel at ripping apart cavalry with their talon claws. Burning with internal fire, they can periodically douse the area in front of them with a massive gout of flame, and when destroyed tend to erupt in a magnificent localized explosion.
Pulled into battle by two horses composed of fire and stone, the Solar Chariot is a Siege Engine that when mobile leaves a path of burning flames in its wake, as well as damaging units that get too near with its scythed wheels. When full unpacked, it can feed Beings into itself and launch them at enemy lines as now-burning projectiles.
An enormous water-dwelling serpent with plumed crest and mirrored coils, the Avanyu creates miniature whirlpools around ships to sink them to the bottom of the ocean, being able to affect several ships at the same time. By rising up and spinning the water around itself, it may create a shorter-ranged cyclone that can take to land and is destructive to buildings and terrain alike.
Appearing as a cross between a tropical bird and an enormous botanical bird of prey, the Fenghuang raises the temperature of the area with every beat of its wings, damaging air and ground units normally and setting patches of the ground on fire when in groups of three or more. They can also self-immolate themselves, diving into the ground and causing an explosion at the expense of it's own 'life'.
Sturdy short humanoids with glowing white eyes and coal-black skin, the Dwerrow are renowned in the Tricameral Legislature as builders and craftsmen of the highest degree. Their masterwork obsidian pickaxes are adequate for cutting through infantry, but their true skill comes in taking down structures and defenses. When in Mania they can create Combustion Orbs that explode with devastating force when destroyed, though they must be well-protected as enemies can prematurely detonate it while the Dwerrow is hauling it.
Large and squat, the horned and frog-like Yaoguai are very tough as well as resistant to fire due to their slime-secreting bodies. Their obsidian guan dao cleaves through cavalry with moderate ease but their slow speed hinders them, though they can select a group of lesser Beings and form them into a palanquin to increase its own speed.
Draped in mossy robes and crowned with thorns, Liches are surprisingly tough despite the skeletal appearance of their forms. Rather than harming enemies directly, they may instead tie their life force to multiple units one at a time, granting them increased resistance to damage and minor regeneration even outside of the Mania Field. Beware, however, for should the Liche itself be killed all other units 'linked' will fall as well. The Liche may also choose to prematurely destroy its linked units with explosive force directly, if the opportunity arises...
Heavily armoured cavalry clad in bone and wood, Dullahan are headless horsemen who rely on their long sinewy whips to damage and trip up infantry, preventing them from running away. Head-shaped gourds at their sides may be thrown at hostile units in order to scar and frighten them, temporarily making them unable to fire.
A sloth-like creature standing more than nine feet tall from head to feet, the Mapinguari normally prefer to stay within seclusion deep within forests but can, with persuasion, be called upon by the Tricameral Legislature to war. Their large claws and imposing stature make them excel at frightening and tearing apart cavalry, and their roars can break down enemy armor, causing them to temporarily take more damage from other attacks.
Lurking in webs spun from nightmares and unreality, the Anansi are spidery beings with far too many eyes and three pairs of constantly clicking mandibles. They spray areas of mildly acidic web over terrain and enemy units, slowing any who cross and slowly degrading them over time due to their corrosive contents. Stealthed in terrain, they have the ability to also create a pool of highly toxic liquid and fluids that strips flesh from bone in seconds and is hard to detect to the naked eye as well.
Formed in the shape of a ship-sized turtle, the Ao has no weaponry of its own, but is very well protected against enemy attacks and can carry several smaller Beings inside its heavy shell. Beings transported within the shell can use their own attacks in close quarters against other ships, however.
Burning with an inner fire, the snake-headed winged humanoids known as Seraphim swing long chained braziers lit with jungle incense and fuming with chemical smoke. Enemies that have the braziers swung over them are disoriented, attacking slower and doing less damage as a result. It may also be used to swing a small amount of fire at a targeted location, setting fire to any unit or terrain struck.
Though the deceptive Changeling has no true form, it most often appears as a caricature of a human being whose appearance and features are terribly off up close. Insatiably curious about the people they impersonate, they can disguise themselves as any friendly or enemy infantry, or use their powers of glamor to make an enemy be seen as a targetable Prefecture unit to their teammates.
A horrific amphibious creature with the bill of a duck, clawed webbed hands and feet, and poisoned spines, the Bunyip is fiercely territorial and fleet-footed. It's spines can be flung several feet at unwary opponents to poison them, with horses and other mounts being particularly susceptible to the toxins, and when pressed it can dissolve itself into a pool of visually placid water to hide from foes.
The grim Kentauros are fast moving cavalry that combine rider and mount in one being, with the bodies of swift horses and the upper section of a humanoid man. They are fast as well as armed with atlatls that can send spears through even the thickest of armour, doing light but equal damage to enemy infantry and cavalry alike. They may choose to enter a Bacchanalia when in woods or other terrain pieces, sending them into a frenzy that lets them trample infantry but will also cause them to attack other Prefecture units.
Though distinctly proportionally humanoid, the equine Tikbalang still acts and runs similarly to a horse and is thus treated as cavalry rather than infantry. Their elongated limbs allow them to move surprisingly quickly over open ground, hills, and walls alike, thus allowing them to get into range to kick and throw around infantry, disrupting their movement and potentially tossing them within range of other Prefecture units. They can use their speed to jump directly up to the tops of trees, becoming hidden and capable of scouting the nearby area for enemies both open and hidden.
Famished creatures riding on horse-sized hyenas, the heavily wrapped Ghouls originate from the sands of the world's deserts, and sand still clings to their frames as they lope to war. They do not directly use weaponry, but instead crash head-long into opposing cavalry in order to grapple and claw directly with them, immobilizing both for as long as their fight lasts. When injured, they may feed on the flesh of a downed unit to replenish their own stability.
Appearing as an enormous, scaled earthworm, the Dilong is a surprisingly nimble melee oriented Siege Engine, being able to bludgeon apart walls or buildings from the under the ground at short range. When mobile, it leaves short-lived holes for other Prefecture units to use, though they will eventually crumble in on themselves over time.
Appearing as a weary green mare with weed-strewn horse, loose skin hanging off bone, and blank staring eyes, Kelpie are vicious water-dwelling horses that prey on the various hippcampi that inhabit Prefecture waters. Incredibly fast in the water, they may freely pick off infantry riding in transports one at a time, or sacrifice themselves to completely disable any kind of ship for a long period of time.
The spectral shroud of the Banshee floats upon nonexistent winds, drawn to battle by the scent of those about to die. It does not attack directly itself, but those who die around it will cause it to screech, damaging those who landed the killing blow. To avoid against enemy retaliation, Banshees may swoop down and inhabit the forms of other Prefecture units, retaining its screech ability but hidden to normal view.
The smoking Pillar of Flames is constantly on fire, radiating an area of extreme heat around it as it floats on invisible smoke that damages all who get too near to it. Once they are dug into the nearby landscape, they gain the ability to focus and unleash intense blasts of flame at nearby enemy units that can blacken skin and burn them into cinders in seconds.
Pillar of Stones
The solid Pillar of Stones creeps across the ground on tendrils of nothing, increasing the physical substance of everything near it and making nearby units far more resistant to damage as a result. When it stabilizes itself into the earth, it lets out a signal that draws nearby ranged enemy fire into itself and greatly diminishes the power of enemy melee weapons, allowing nearby Prefecture units to better defend themselves.
Pillar of Waves
The eerily calm Pillar of Waves seems to ride on unseen waters as it makes its way across the battlefield, pouring both water and stability into the nearby terrain and slowly healing any infantry next to it. When it finally settles into the ground, it may churn underground reservoirs and send water periodically shooting up from the ground around it, greatly healing Prefecture units and throwing aside enemy units in their path.
Pillar of Currents
The howling Pillar of Currents acts as a well-protected repository of Mania, constantly spreading a cloud of Mania around itself at all times. Normally buoyant on ethereal winds, the Pillar may spear itself into the ground to unleash it's warping power on the nearby landscape, creating a larger permanent radius of Mania around it and allowing new structures to be erected around it.