The Phantom Pleasure Guide
Characters, Setting, and Terms
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404EVER: THE SAGA OF THE AUTO-SAVIOUR Story and Art by Lordess Foudre
Info Guide Last Updated on 02-16-2024 (new terms, locations, art)
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GEO-CITY ONE: The fallen, ancient subterranean civilization where our story takes place. It’s primarily made up of 6 Epocholiths, which are stalactite super-structures stretching down towards the core of the planet. Recently, a mysterious area called The GOGG Republic has revealed itself, growing like a small tumor beneath Epocholith 6. The city’s environments are constructed out of an autonomous synthetic material known as ‘Bio-Techtite’, and as far as anyone can tell, the city’s been procedurally generating itself for thousands of years. To help guide the process, sentient relics known as Polycoms take an active role. They silently maintain life support systems, nutrient and water supplies, Spawn Points, community guidelines; everything. Though, despite their best (and utterly ruthless) efforts, GEO-CITY ONE is dying. Environment errors, the Fragmentation genetic malfunction, violence and self-deletion are the primary cause of the decay. Currently, G-C1’s active user population has fallen to 17%, leaving most of its massive levels empty. With very little reason to travel, users will typically scroll and die within a hundred kiloblocks of where they spawned. And since most private sites are password protected, many users just create makeshift homes in the Public Access Zone. The few open domains tend to be membership-only chat clubs, and are savagely moderated by gangs and raiding parties.
Gogg Republic of People (AKA Epocholith 07, The GRP): Breakaway civilization and the oldest known location in Geo-City One. In terms of stability, it’s the best site to log into (if outside users were allowed to). Halo Lan, Colin Atari, Suze-An, D:Arc (among others) originally spawned in the Gogg Republic. Unique features include a functioning Empathy Score-based economy, an artificial Day/Night cycle, and many other unique Polycoms. Private Domains are plentiful and available to People with average and above Em-Pass scores. The GRP (as well as the rest of Geo-City One) is secretly moderated by the Seven Templates; a private forum of leaders from an ancient precursor civilization. Based on hidden images from an obsolete era embedded in The Tellus Forum, the GOGG Republic was once known as The Merkaval Ark.
THE ENCRYPT: Operating System Temple located far outside of the Geo-City One structure. This is the heavily guarded dwelling place of the SYSAD Belkira. This highly secret site can only be accessed via a restricted Downloader in the Gogg Republic of People. The existence of this temple is known only to the Tellus Forum and Vice Moderator Colin Atari.
EPOCHOLITH 6: While most of it is abandoned, it still has the densest active population in all of Geo-City One. Contains a vast network of linkways, shortcuts, public and private domains, chat clubs, and more. The Public Access Zone is where most users congregate, and it’s where Echo ended up after getting kicked from the secret Debug Levels. Epocholith 6 is a chaotic and capricious environment. Some users scroll their entire lives without encountering another living being, while others spawn in high population, hardcore difficulty areas and get immediately mobbed/scammed/griefed/recruited by gangs. Power and status is totally unofficial, a user is judged only by their skills, kills, and content.
Tellus Forum: A private discussion forum hosted by The Seven Templates, located in a temple on the exterior surface of the Gogg Republic. While the 7 members of this secret forum have very little control over Geo-City One, they do possess ancient, occulted knowledge which gives them an advantage over users and People. Suze-An (Prime Moderator of the Gogg Republic) became the 8th member of the Tellus Forum when she inadvertently reactivated it; also restoring life support functions to The Seven Templates. The Tellus Forum is primarily concerned with obtaining the BIOSpear Memory Card.
404EVER: The Saga of the Auto-Savior: The text file relic containing the story from which this comic is derived.
CB Field (COMA BERENICES FIELD): Invisible barrier that blocks access to one’s subconscious. The CB Field becomes more dense the higher you move towards the planet’s surface within Geo-City One. FURTHER INFO ON THIS TOPIC IS CURRENTLY RESTRICTED.
BIOSpear: An ancient memory card containing the original Geo-City One save file. This Polycom device would allow an approved user to format, edit, and reload the world to their specifications. Suze-An, the Tellus Forum, Colin Atari and others are desperately trying to get their hands on this relic before the Year Zero Error resets and potentially destroys Geo-City One.
Content: Whatever a user has to offer. Physical services, unique skills, plug-ins, pixels, acquired items, weapons, Private Domain passwords and more. Users typically trade or sell their content (and their dignity) to survive.
Duplicates: When a Spawn Point produces two identical users with the same base stats, these perfect copies are called duplicates. There’s some debate as to whether this is a product of random generation chance or a glitch.
Downloaders and Uploaders: Out-of-use elevator systems from an earlier version of the city. They were probably used to quickly move between the various Epocholiths and levels of Geo-City One. They’re believed to be very ancient Polycoms, as no active user can remember a time when they functioned.
Em-Pass: Personal empathic currency storage device. Appears as the two mechanical beads embedded in the foreheads of those who spawn in the Gogg Republic. These Polycoms help to regulate the empathy-based economy within the GRP. The rare few with extremely high Empathy Score are able to purchase luxury goods and Private Domains, and rise in the social hierarchy. They are treated like celebrity saints by poor People with low Em-Pass scores. Strange though it may seem to an outsider, these low class People know that their personal struggles inflict heavy emotional damage on their empathic social superiors. Because these celebrity saints have to shoulder the collective burden of the poor, they must be respected and exalted. Everyone receives a randomized Empathy Stat when they spawn, but the score can be increased through slow training and education, or outright fraud (like in the case with Halo Lan). While Halo is the only known Person to successfully hack an Em-Pass, Suze-An is the only one who knows how to remove the Polycom altogether.
The Frag: (Fragmentation Error): Mysterious genetic disease that’s been spreading through the Spawn Points for over a thousand years. No one knows how it started, and most users today regard it as a natural flaw in the system. When users spawn, they are given a randomized set of stats and abilities. Fragmentation manifests from ‘Q Traits’, which are unrecognized character stats that have somehow made their way into the genetic database. The results are unpredictable, causing a range of mental and physical anomalies. Some of these bizarre mutations can be beneficial (like boosted stats or growing polycoms out of your own body) but almost always result in an early death. The GOGG Republic is conducting research into the origins of The Frag, but for what purpose?
Instant Death Drops: Large breaks in the environment can easily be found all throughout Geo-City One. Many despondent and clumsy doom scrollers discover these self-deletion pits on a regular basis. Most users assume they’ll fall for thousands of kiloblocks before splattering against a lower level surface, however this is not the case. Out of view, far below the surface of Geo-City One, there are tentacle-like Polycoms that suck up falling bodies, so that Materializers can collect nearly 100% of a user’s biological content and deliver it to a nearby Spawn Point.
METAPHANIM: Beings depicted on an encrypted mural in the Tellus Forum site. ALL INFO ON THIS TOPIC IS CURRENTLY RESTRICTED.
Nyx: Echo’s one-of-a-kind, custom Synth Suit. Unlike the typical softwear outfits you see around here, Nyx comes from a more advanced, obsolete era of GEO-CITY ONE. While every Synth Suit can respond to a user’s preferences, they are always read-only. As far as Echo knows, Nyx is the single softwear unit with an Emotion Engine. This rare Polycom allows Nyx to send private messages to and from Echo, albeit in a janky and confusing manner. Because of this emotional exchange, Echo is never quite sure who’s wearing who. While Echo hates being manipulated and is often tempted to abandon Nyx, it’s just too valuable to unequip. From sloppy chat clubs to dangerous random encounters, Nyx can modify itself to fit any situation. It’s also incredibly fast compared to other Synth Suits, and can even pull loose elements from the environment to provide extra armor and power. If a user has high enough charisma stat to pass her check, Echo might tell the story of how she came into possession of Nyx. It’s a really strange episode, if true.
Orphic Throne: Empty, egg-like chamber surrounded by The Seven Templates at the center of the Tellus Forum. Was used by Suze-An to restore her dying lover, D:Arc to health when he was injured in the escape from the Gogg Republic. This unknown revival process also restored life support functions to The Seven Templates, the ancient founding members of the Tellus Forum. An empty memory card slot is built into the base of the Orphic Throne, awaiting the return of the BIOSpear. FURTHER INFO ON THIS TOPIC IS CURRENTLY RESTRICTED.
Phantom Pleasure Syndrome: The term Echo came up with to describe the visions she began to have in her sleep after she got perma-kicked down into the Public Access Zone. These visions began as low resolution/high impact replays of her better life in the Debug Levels. But lately, the mental glitch has begun to evolve in a bad way, infecting her sleep with bizarre visual and emotional errors. It’s as if this ‘phantom pleasure syndrome’ established a connection to another life, world, time; who knows. Not one to chat about vulnerabilities, Echo keeps this condition to herself. And as far as she’s aware, she’s the only one who’s got it.
Pixels: Dominant form of currency in Geo-City One. Pixels are non-physical tokens that users send and receive via Personal Inventory Terminal Systems (PITS). While they are just numbers on a screen, pixels do allow users (who still have their PITS equipped) to buy content from each other in Geo-City One.
Plug-Ins: Mind, mood, and ability altering substances. Some will temporarily increase or decrease certain stats like agility, intelligence, strength; but most just make a user feel better and die faster. Many chat club gangs concoct their own custom blend of plug-ins to sell for clout, pixels, and content. Currently, the chat club METEO has a reputation for creating the most potent plug-ins.
Polycoms: Ancient, sentient relics which actively maintain the stability of Geo-City One. Most Polycoms are outwardly simple machines, producing basic essentials like lighting and oxygen, medicine and nutrients, accessories and armor, weapons and tools. Internally, they are complete black boxes, no living user is able to open, edit or modify them. And considering the harsh restrictions against damaging Geo-City One firmware, messing around with Polycoms is a good way to speedrun your life straight to a bad ending. Lately, new Polycoms from the GOGG Republic have begun to embed themselves in the linkways and chat clubs in the Public Access Zone. They pop up everywhere, blocking your way, incessantly playing looped advertisements for GOGG Republic culture and lifestyles.
Synth Suits: Common, sentient softwear equipped by most users in Geo-City One. Synth Suits can read a user’s personal preferences and alter their structure in response. Not that any slumbag knows/cares, but they are made out of an unholy fusion of Bio-Techtite, mercury, high purity Caesium-133, neuro-optic fibers; among other materials found in Geo-City One. While they can provide a cosmetic stat boost, extra muscle, limbs, or even weapons; it’s important to remember that they react and update extremely slowly. The linkways are littered with the corpses of users who’s mouths were quicker than their softwear…
Year Zero Reset: (AKA The Great Update, Year 9999 Error): Unconfirmed rumor that, due to an ancient bug, the entire Geo-City system will reset and update at the end of the 9999th year. If true, this error will shutdown the Polycoms in Geo-City One, effectively killing every single user. Any approved user with the BIOSpear memory card and access to The Orphic Throne would theoretically be able to prevent this catastrophic crash and reset the world system to their own specifications.