Hero Venue Setting
- 1 UCLA – Student Union.
- 2 Golden Gate Park
- 3 Others.
- 4 Organizations
UCLA – Student Union.
Ackerman Union is located on Westwood Plaza on the UCLA campus. This spacious modern building has high ceilings and plenty of room for students. But it’s all so mundane. At least, the parts that any normal UCLA student sees are mundane. Now, there happens to be a door in Ackerman Union. It is just off the viewpoint lounge, an unassuming door next to the office of the lounge director, unmarked, and made of solid maple. It’s a door that no one pays attention to, because it leads presumably to a store room or some janitor’s closet. But, if you were to actually go in there, it would mean someone had taken you there. Because that door is noticed and opened by no one.
The only way anyone ever finds this door is to be led there, almost always by one of many of the “student guides” the gods have employed for this task. Those guides always appear as attractive and fit and healthy students, hard to pin their age down, and easy to overlook among the masses. These student guides invariably will either find the scion, or on occasion a scion will be given their email or a phone number, but always the student guide will bring them.
On the other side of that door however lay terra incognita. While that may seem like very little protection, there is a second layer of security. If a non-scion opens that door, you see, they find only a small storage closet. But a scion finds themselves walking into a wide marble hallway, much like you might expect of a Roman or Greek temple, and out into what the locals call “the quad”. This consists of a sunken amphitheater facing the main entrance with similarly Romanesque buildings on all four sides. The entrance is singular and serves only one purpose. To the “north” (judging by the sun) and opposite the entrance across the theatre is a large building with windows and made of shimmering white marble. This is the dorm, or the dorms, and their layout is quite interesting. The building as a whole is larger on the inside than on the outside.
The Dorms are NOT private. There are rooms the scions are welcome to use, but they are two-to-a-room and there are no door locks, there is only a small locking cabinet on each side of the room for securing anything important, and you’ll have to bring your own lock. Each floor is dedicated to a pantheon, and the pantheon is very obvious by markings and the floor’s decoration and theme. On each floor at the main entrance a very dour little dwarf lady resides, the “hall mother” – and no one gets inside without her approval. Those halls are not co-ed either, to the left is girls, to the right is boys, and the twain do not enter the wrong side unless there is an emergency in which case they go with the hall mother. (She does not, in any case, have a beard.)
The floors are:
Aesir: Brown, with lots of woodwork and stone tile floors. The doors are solid iron bound oak and each room has the luxury of a window opening on the outside with thick shutters. The beds are heavy duty affairs, and chairs are solid wood and sturdy.
Amatsukami: Doors of polished teak and floors of mirror like mahogany. The rooms all have sliding doors and are set up for sleeping on the floor. The lighting Is all with paper lanterns, and there are scroll top writing desks in the rooms.
Atlantean: doesn’t yet exist here…
Aztlanti: hallways of stone with various mayan and incan designs, and floors of polished granite. The rooms are comfortable though with high ceilings and a choice of natural light or torches, and the doors are all heavy wooden things.
Devas: marble walls and sheer curtains lining them, the rooms here are brightly colored and sport any number of small embelishments. The rooms have mosaics inlaid in the floors and low beds with many cushions.
Dodekatheon: white marble and high columns along the walls, the floors are polished stone and the doors are all thick and bound in bronze. The beds are flat and usually have a raised arm on one end and there always seems to be fruit in the room…
Loa: the rooms all feel like an old plantation, with plastered walls and high casement windows in bright faded colors. The doors are either French doors or old fashioned affairs with brass knobs. Many of the lights and switches have little skeleton embellishments, and the flors are all carpeted or covered with thick rugs over hard woods.
Pesedjet: Floors are either polished alabaster or obsidian, and the walls are sandstone in most places. The lights are in brass fittings that look like braziers and there are beautiful tapestries hung in the higher hallways. The rooms all have canopy beds and the doors are all very heavy ironwood.
Shen: the floors are terra cotta and the walls mostly red or green with dragons on them. The doors are red with gold hardware and there are many scrolls hanging on the walls. The rooms have very low beds, and the lights all hang in paper lanterns and public spaces have bead curtains.
Tuatha de Danann: the walls are stone and the floors are hand scraped lumber, and there are wooden beams exposed in places with carved celtic knotwork. The doors are all stout English oak with cast iron bindings and there are copper light fixtures with a faded green patina. Beds in the rooms are all thickly cushioned and there is an actual (if small) fire place.
Yazata: Is somewhat eclectic. The hallways and walls and floors are mostly polished smooth stone with inlaid mosaics. The doorways are all arch topped and the doors are elaborate wooden things. The rooms all have wide beds, and there are windows covered by lattice meshes in bronze and lighting is all indirect and subtle.
There is one bathroom for every two rooms which contains a shower and two sinks and two toilets (each toilet in a small room all its own). For every four rooms there is a “kitchen” outfitted with a fridge and freezer, a microwave, and vending machines for the basics. None of this has to be paid for, it is somehow always stocked, but you find fare suited to the pantheon. In a Tuatha vending machine you might find European versions of sodas and brands of snacks the average American has never heard of. In the Amatsukami vending machine you would find Asian soda brands in any number of odd flavors, a culinary adventure in food, and even underwear! That is the big bonus to the dorm: a free and easy place to crash and get a hot meal – though it’s never better than microwave fare and vending machine cuisine.
On the East end of the quad, dead ahead as one comes out of the entrance hall and past the amphitheater, is a roughly two story building that resembles the Parthenon from the outside but once more is larger on the inside. Upon entry there is a sign declaring the rules of the gym, and locker rooms on either side of the main hallway, men on the right, and women on the left. There is always enough empty lockers for the scions, and these have an easily changed combination lock that resists tampering, though children of certain trickster gods are notorious for finding ways around them.
The gym rules are:
1. Fighting / sparring is ONLY allowed in the areas clearly marked with a red floor. In these areas the laws of life and death have been suspended. Fighting anywhere outside the red areas will result in suspension of gym privileges for a lunar cycle!
2. NO co-ed locker room visits, no exceptions except for medical care providers or in an emergency.
3. Clean all your equipment and return it to its proper place after use. Report any damaged equipment promptly. There will be no penalty for equipment damaged through wear and tear but intentional damage will be paid for or repaired by the offender!
4. No horseplay outside red zoned areas.
5. The medical staff is here for your health and safety, if they give an order you will obey it or your gym privileges will be suspended for a lunar cycle. Disrespect or harassment of the staff will not be tolerated!
The gym has several floors and areas (and the rules prominently displayed on each). Basement: there is a full size Olympic pool here complete with lanes and diving platforms at 5 and 10 meters. There is also a smaller 8 foot deep pool for aerobic / low impact exercise, as well as a 20 person hot tub. (A hand lettered sign stuck on the wall near the hot tub declares “NO SEX!”) There are male and female change rooms / showers down here, as well as more lockers. Swim suits are available for use and come in a variety of sizes and styles, but nothing “sexual” in nature, and yes you have to wear a swimsuit.
Ground floor: is where the track and weight lifting equipment is. There’s a lot of equipment, various machines, and quality of the gear is exceptional. If you can use it or imagine it used for weight training it’s probably in here. The track runs all the way around the interior of the ground floor and represents a 440 meter route. 4 laps is approximately 1 mile. There’s also the basic Olympic lay out, with shotput, discus, javelin, pole vault, high jump, broad jump, et cetera - all the major track and field evolutions are here. Second floor: the first floor is tall, almost 30 feet to the roof, and the second floor is nearly as large with 20 foot ceilings. This is the martial arts and gymnastics and related skill training area. There are several different styles of “rings” here, from the classic American boxing ring to Asian style dojo layouts, this entire floor is dedicated to mastering combat. Many of these rooms have the mentioned “red floor” – upon which a scion who dies will shortly find themselves alive again as magics in the very building itself heal them. Each room is also very well prepared with a myriad of weapons for which its layout is proper. Not only that, but there is a central “combat zone” some 40 meters to a side with red floor where students can bring weapons from any of the adjacent training rooms and various styles can match wits.
There is very prominent signs here that read “NO FIREARMS!” Notices that state that stray bullets that strike someone outside the red floors are very capable of killing them. Placing someone mortally wounded outside the red floor into the red floor area WILL NOT result in the reversal of their condition. In order for the wound healing capabilities of the gym to keep you healthy and alive, you must be sparring in the appropriate areas.
The Range: behind the gym is a firing range. This is set up “Logan’s Alley” style with everything from a 1000 yard rifle range to close in pop-up and mobile targets for training to shoot pistol or carbine defensively. It is a very dynamic range that can accommodate as many as 30 or 40 shooters safely, and almost any training need, with lots of rugged targets, obstacles, berms to stop stray shots, and there is *always* a range safety officer on duty – who happens to be a very no-bullshit dwarf. (He does, for the record, have a beard.) Targets are free, and ammunition is for sale – but its very cheap here.
Every good school has its labs and classrooms. But for the heroes of Los Angeles, they are presented with the library to end all libraries, the Divine Archives – which they must share with and occasionally run across the demi gods and gods who have moved on to Crossroads Island. What they have to practice their trades and work out their lessons is a combination workshop, laboratory, foundry, forge, clean room, and garage.
The Lab - as it’s called is – is a little bit of everything. It’s a long low building with a main hall and a great many rooms leading off of it. It seems like no matter what you need – a chemistry lab, a medical lab, a machine shop, a tool and die foundry, a sand casting furnace, a leather tanning shop, an MRI machine – all these things and more are always here, it’s just a matter of finding them. They always happen to have just what you need, but never seem to have excessive or fancy items, forcing a hero or scion to do things the more involved ways. You may find, for instance, a machine shop – but the mills and lathes are always manual, not CNC, and this forces the scions at the lab to learn how to do things for themselves. The only time there seems to be a functional “shortcut” is when there is quite literally no other way to make some item or perform some task than to use some fancy computer operated device.
Of particular note: there is garage door in the very back of the garage workshop in the Lab. This door works only one way. There is a closed circuit camera feed next to the door that allows those in the lab to verify that a specific and very rarely used roll up door on the UCLA campus behind the shipping and receiving department is not currently in use for some reason. Once the route is known to be clear, the heroes can hit a button, and the door will roll up allowing anyone to drive in or out of Terra Incognita with a vehicle as large as a semi-tractor or perhaps a small mobile crane. The door will automatically close after five minutes (but never seems to try to close on someone coming or going). This door can never be opened from the real world side, the only way to open it is from Terra Incognita and only by a scion. Please note: This is NOT your private garage. You bring your vehicle in, do what you need too, and take it home.
Golden Gate Park
Outside the Quad but within direct line of sight of the Amphitheatre, there is a single tall standing stone, weathered and worn. This stone has a glyph on it that resembles no modern or known language, just a simple wavy line with a slash through the middle. This touchstone leads to Golden Gate Park.
When scions walk through this touchstone they emerge behind a large rock in the sprawling Golden Gate park in a quiet and fairly unassuming part of the Japanese Tea Gardens not very far from the Tea House. This is a very zen place, and often it is viewed with a sense of reverence by visiting people of Asian heritage. The Tea Garden itself is actually a marriage of Chinese and Japanese features, Shinto, Buddhist, and other subtle influences, and so it is considered very important to the Amatsukami and Shen.
There are rumors of touchstones up and down the Pacific seaboard. Puget Sound, Dutch Harbor, Cabo San Lucas have all been whispered of, but there is, as of 2016, just the one touchstone to Golden Gate Park, and the entry into the Divine Archives from the lab are in any way active and known…
A brief word on these “Fraternities”.
First, the word Fraternity and Sorority normally indicate all male and all female organizations respectively, however co-ed fraternaties and sororities do exist. At UCLA today there are “fraternities” that are co-ed such as Chi Alpha Phi, and Sigma Eta Pi. So in this instance our use of the words Fraternity and Sorority are not meant to denote any gender or exclusivity.
Second, we have chosen the Greek letters denominating these groups at random and if they coincide with a real world fraternity or sorority please do not assume there is any intended connection. In terms of “mundane” groups (i.e. the afore mentioned Chi Alpha Phi or Sigma Eta Pi for example) – we will use whatever may be online as a rough source for who or what they are. But for the four groups below any real world correlation should not be assumed. (in other words: if one of these turns out to be a real world fraternity at the University of Pretentiousness in Snodgrass, Wisconsin, don’t assume they are in any way connected in the game.)
These groups do confer some benefits. Many heroes will be entering into the war with the titans with minimal experience. They will undoubtedly have guides and advice from parents who wish to see them succeed, but How does one develop the skills of the gods?
In game terms: each group has people who can train the scions and assist them in development. As such a scion who joins a fraternity may have access to mentors and teachers with the Teaching Prodigy merit and all it entails (At ST discretion) – but there’s a price to pay. Each group has its rules and customs, it’s caveats and it’s advantages. Join and enjoy the perks, break the rules? You won’t be invited back.
Bear in mind that everyone understands that there are always possibly extenuating circumstances, so every situation is different but they are weighed on a case by case basis. Exceptional performances in the face of adversity may reap rewards, missteps made under stress may be forgiven, and egregious mistakes may result in ejection from a Fraternity – those are all part and parcel of the road the scions walk leading to godhood. With luck, they will forge friendships along the way and bolster the war against the Titans.
Alpha Delta Alpha (A∆A)
This group is the home for many of the physical, the assertive, the strong and the nimble, the dexterous and long winded. These are the men and women among the scions who are being gathered to fight and compete, whose talents run toward the pugilistic and the violent and the physically demanding. These are the weight lifters, the college football players, the wrestlers, the track and field stars, these are the people for whom the challenge is all and overcoming themselves is paramount – and if you happen to get to kick a little ass and take a few names in the process it’s just icing on the cake.
A∆A has a motto: lead by example. This Fraternity may reek of jock douche bags at first impression but few things could be further from the reality. A∆A is very focused on growing strong through discipline, building stamina through hardship, and gaining dexterity through practice – but not if the cost is one’s humanity and nobility. A∆A does not tolerate bullies, douchebags, violent criminals, thugs, arrogant elitists, or the general kinds of people who would beat up a nerd and stuff him in a locker for his lunch money. In other words: you are expected to earn the right to the name “hero” if you wish to be one of these people. The A∆A Fraternity has plans and programs to assist with all manner of training. Melee, brawl, athletics, dodge, and firearms are just the beginning, and Strength, Dexterity, and Stamina may all be aided by training with this group – but get caught presenting a public image that hurts the A∆A reputation and a scion will be evicted very, very quickly.
The triumvirate of Immortals leading A∆A is amusingly juxtaposed.
Raif, the Alfar, who is unlike most of his race in that he is modest, soft spoken, and while very beautiful, also very unassuming. He is the go-to for learning all things acrobatic and dexterous, and he is a very wise and gentle adviser.
Drogan, the Dwarf, is a stone. If the river is unyielding, Drogan is the stone that forces the waters to part. Like most of his kind he is gruff, but he lacks the rude edge most of his kind have. He makes up for that by being blunt as a hammer to the face – but you should never doubt his honesty. If he says you’re being soft? You’re being soft, the only question is “by who’s standards?” He is the go-to for all things brute force and powerful in application.
Liv, the Pixie, is a very amusing little Gal. She’s a full 12 inches tall, and that’s very tall for a pixie. She lost her wings at some point in the past and has a new pair that resemble those of a Monarch butterfly, but she rarely discusses the event that led to this situation. She’s bold, outspoken, with a sharp tongue and a very kind heart, but she does not suffer laziness. She is the go-to for all things endurance and hardiness, and she tends to be the voice of passion, surprisingly, among the trio.
These three make up the “elders” among the A∆A – if you irritate them? Odds are you will not be joining or staying within the Fraternity.
Sigma Tau Delta (ΣΤΔ)
This Sorority is a mental powerhouse. The scientists, the bean counters, the doctors, the lawyers, all these and more tend to find their home with ΣΤΔ. It is important to note that this group pushes a strong ethics policy. A scientist who builds a potential weapon is watched very closely, a doctor’s experiments monitored to be sure they are not inhumane, and a budding lawyer’s performance watched closely for signs of immorality. These people love to flex mental muscle, they may not be as sexy as the athlete, but they have a way of inspiring all their own, and they are at home doing the sometimes tedious work that moves all of mankind forward, but woe be unto he who abuses people out of greed or hubris.
ΣΤΔ has a motto: do no harm. The members of this Sorority are watched very, very closely as they explore and research and practice their trades. The members of this Sorority are painfully aware of the image of the cold uncaring doctor, the cut-throat lawyer, the intellectual researcher with no morality, these things are all something the ΣΤΔ seeks to avoid. Gods may be capricious and petty and vindictive, but the members of this Sorority seek to deprive the Titans of the seeds of hatred with which to sow rebellion against the gods by ensuring that as many of the new scions entering the war for the world do so by bringing support among humanity with them. Any scion who uses their intellectual prowess for predatory gain faces swift and thorough censure.
Mamut is a mummy from the Pesedjet pantheon and a former doctor. "Doctor" as in Mamut was a physician in Egypt roughly 2800 years ago. He was such a beloved man that he was blessed upon death with an unusually powerful mummification, and has since served the Pesedjet. Within the last decade, by using powerful charms, he has moved to the mortal world and began studying the miracles and nuances of modern medicine. Mamut is the acknowledged master of analytical intelligence and the sciences.
Valerie is an Alfar, and she is the epitome of the lawyer who is a humanitarian. Known for her appearance in skirts and heels, she is coldly calculating, but those who know her find her to be a very generous, if sometimes distant. She is a practicing lawyer and has been known to take some very challenging and morally righteous cases pro bono because they needed to be tried. She is the master of thinking on one’s feet and all things legal and business oriented.
Uriel is a raven, a servant of Odin himself and rewarded for his loyalty by giving him his choice of duty. Uriel as a result took to the task of teaching skills of observation and academics, mental exercises, and similar topics that revolve around “thought experiments” - after all, ravens are some of the most intelligent birds there are.
These three tend to be very animated when debating additions or removals of persons from the Sorority, so when they eject someone, it usually means the person did something very clearly outside of acceptable behavior.
Alpha Delta Omega (AΔΩ)
This group (which refers to itself as both Sorority and Fraternity at times) is a social network like few others where the scions who are known for their force of personality, presence, and their ability to captivate and motivate people tend to accumulate. Though it is obviously far harder to decide when someone’s fame and popularity is selfish or altruistic, this group still has a fairly straight forward policy: building people up is far preferable to tearing people down. This group is not a popularity contest though, AΔΩ rather is about helping scions to learn how to handle their new abilities without causing headaches for the gods and hampering the war with the Titans; after all, humanity needs to know the scions' legends without fearing or hating them, and the people of AΔΩ wind up being the “public relations” people very often.
AΔΩ doesn’t have a motto or slogan, though they are often quoted as saying things like “don’t confuse success with sex appeal” and similar. They are very keen on the idea of using social impetus for good, on supporting positive changes, and on growing power for positive ends. While political clout and social presence are valuable, these are people who disdain corrupt politics and miscarriages of justice and media bias. These people, more than any others, play in gray areas of morality, so when someone crosses the line quite obviously, the backlash is usually swift and severe.
Tris is a Nymph. Her real name is Tirisiphae, and she is a transplanted nymph from northern Greece. She resided in an oak tree for most of her life, but when the tree finally succumbed to entropy in 2015 at the ripe old age of 1207, she was plucked up by the Gods and moved to the UCLA Terra Incognita. Tris is absolutely beautiful and has an understanding of sensuality and how to make people weak in the knees, and as such she’s an excellent teacher. She even wears clothing when she is interacting with the scions… though not much.
Miko is a kitsune, a Japanese fox immortal, and she is a very lovable creature at that. She’s several hundred years old but normally looks like either a very shapely woman with a fox's head or a very beautiful Oriental woman with a trio of fox tails, and occasionally if she’s in a mood, as a slightly larger-than-normal red fox. Miko is vivacious, bubbly, polite, positive, friendly – she is everything we all like in a friend. She’s always looking for a silver lining, but she’s not annoyingly cute. Rather, she’s just plain old friendly to a fault. She is the master of getting people to like her, a sincere confidant, and everyone turns to her to learn how to be more personable.
Hector is a Satyr. He is both very pretty and very sly. Hector is an interesting person - ponder how one handles relationships when everything from the waist down is that of a goat and you have horns: handsome suddenly is irrelevant when you have the *ahem* hardware of another species. As a result Hector is one of the most silver-tongued people you will ever meet. He is also a person who has made a great many mistakes in his many years, and broken more than one heart. Hector, however, is unique: he has a big heart, and a bigger sense of morality. Of all the immortals on the island, he is perhaps the least likely to harm anyone intentionally, and yet probably one of, if not the, least trusted by others.
This group is the most dysfunctional leadership of the thee Fraternities at the UCLA Terra Incognita. These three rarely censure someone because the use of one’s social attributes for selfish and not altruistic reasons is so hard to discern and nail down. One thing is sure: if you get ejected from AΔΩ - you did something very clearly wrong.
There are rumors of groups entrenched in the UCLA structure, Fraternities, Sororities, clubs, that are loyal to Titans, looking for hard proof of the scions’ and god’s existence, and making problems for creation on local scales. As of the gods decision to implement the new Terra Incognita on the West Coast, there are suspicions that these groups exist – but there is no hard and fast proof.