Tales of a Dark City
Beliefs: The Pantheon believes that Abnormals are invested with divine power and should be treated as gods.
Other Beliefs: Some in the Pantheon believe that the more people believe in their power, the greater their power becomes.
Goals: Follow their own whims and desires unhindered by responsibility to humanity.
Contradictory Goals: Increase the power of the Pantheon by promoting the idea of The Pantheon as a religion.
Practices: Members throw wildly hedonistic parties, some of them answer “prayers” in exchange for tribute in the form of cash, goods, or services, some are actively attempting to pick up where Project Utopia left off cleaning up the environment or acting during crises.
The Pantheon is the sort of organization that terrifies governments around the world. Their critics refer to them as “spoiled celebrities and sociopaths,” but the Pantheon is something more. They are self-proclaimed new gods who disdain mortal laws and restraints placed upon their abilities. They are the focus of a growing religion and they answer the prayers of their followers in an undeniable manner.
On October 31st, 2011, a previously unknown Nova named Divis Mal used his powers to broadcast a screed he called The Null Manifesto from the Azores. The broadcast was repeated several times that day, reaching every household capable of receiving the transmission.
In the broadcast, Divis Mal rejected The Zurich Accord, declaring that novas are not human and are not answerable by human law, society or government. The Null Manifesto further stated that novas are a higher species than Homo sapiens sapiens and so should be free to govern themselves until such a time a separate government is create to apply to novas.
A loose collection of Abnormals calling itself The Teragen began publicly endorsing the Null Manifesto and renounced all ties to governmental bodies. Project Utopia, religious authorities, and the governments of the world roundly condemned the members of the Teragen, especially after Abnormals with Teragen ties openly committed acts of assassination and terrorism. In 2013, after the death of popular Team Tomorrow member Jennifer “Slider” Landers, The UN was ready to declare the Teragen a terrorist organization and begin a massive hunt to bring Teragen sympathizers to justice.
Then The Project Proteus Scandal ripped through the media. During the media firestorm that followed, the Teragen launched a raid of The Bahrain Facility, and exposed the horrific conditions of the prison to the world. These blows shattered the credibility of Project Utopia, but instead of being vindicated, Project Proteus was declared to be a Teragen plot. The UN took direct control of Team Tomorrow and ordered them to capture and detain all known Teragen members and sympathizers.
Then The Avatars appeared, throwing even more chaos into the mix. Team Tomorrow fought The Avatars and were wiped out to a man, with only The Paragon reappearing in a coma some weeks later. Divis Mal vanished, too, and without their charismatic leader the Teragen fell apart. The survivors scattered or renounced their ties to the organization, and by the start of The Avatar Crisis the Teragen was effectively disbanded.
For a while.
But the philosophy never really went away.
The New Pantheon Rises
In the beginning, the Pantheon was nothing more than a loose collection of Novas made up of old Teragen members and a few younger abnormals who liked the sound of the Null Manifesto. They had no common goals or former meetings, and they didn’t even have a name for their group. The only thing they shared was a love for showing off their powers and a disdain for the Baseline world. As governments around the world began passing laws to try and restrict their Abnormal populations, these Abnormals scoffed. It’s difficult to respect authority if you can bounce their entire arsenal off your force field. For those who would become the Pantheon it was a chance to take what they wanted and let the world know there was a higher link to the food chain. Soon it would mean more.
Stephanie Crane bounced between religions and spiritual movements, trading gurus with the regularity of the moon. They never satisfied her. She dropped out of college and backpacked around the world. While in Sri Lanka, an earthquake struck the small village she was staying at. The earth swallowed Stephanie. She struggled in the darkness, terrified of being crushed, when something inside her awoke. It was like being reborn. She emerged from the earth encased in living rock; her hair was flowing granite and when she blinked she heard the sound of stone grating against stone. The earth responded to her will and she repaired the damage done to the village. Grateful villagers surrounded her and Stephanie received her first inkling of what it was like to be worshiped.
Not long after her Eruption, Stephanie received a vision. She saw a colossal well carved from marble. Silver tendrils shot up from the well, traveling around the planet. The tendrils attached themselves to people’s forehead, bestowing power to whomever they touched. Stephanie could feel the power flowing through her own tendril. That power grew stronger when the villagers gathered before her. When she awoke it was clear to her all Abnormals received their supernatural abilities from one source. The power was divine and grew stronger when people worshiped the bearer of that power. Stephanie, who now called herself Gaia, knew why she could never find a religion to suit her; she was a goddess.
In the wake of the Avatar Crisis, a Nova proclaiming herself to be a God got immediate attention from world authorities. Tensions between Gaia and the Sri Lankan government grew toxic, and the President sent in military troops to remove “the Goddess” from power. This attempt proved less successful than hoped, and so Vangaurd was called in to resolve the crisis. Gaia was able to escape, though. And from there, she wandered, preaching her ideas to any abnormal who would listen.
Most abnormals found Gaia’s theory of the origin of super powers insane, but she found a willing audience in the group soon to be known as the Pantheon. She organized the Pantheon the best she could, convincing them that even if they didn’t believe in her ideas there was still safety in numbers. Nations would think twice before confronting a small army of Abnormals. The small number of Novas who accepted their divinity disappointed Gaia, but she knew more would join her as she grew in strength.
The Pantheon announced their existence by answering the prayer of a girl who claimed her father was a political prisoner held by the United States. Three Pantheon members assaulted the prison holding the girl’s father. After a brief, bloody battle the Pantheon reunited the girl with her father. The Pantheon broadcasted the girl’s prayer with video footage of the rescue along with a simple message: “Worship us and your prayers will be answered.” The response was immediate; people around the world downloaded the video despite the U.S. attempts to suppress it. Soon the prayers began to arrive.
People who wish to beseech the Pantheon have several options. First, they can call the Pantheon’s prayer hotline. Operators are there to take down the callers’ personal information and record their prayers. The Pantheon can also be reached through their church website. Finally a few churches have been built by the Pantheon and they have sent missionaries out to spread the word and to take down prayers.
The Pantheon receives millions of prayers. They have acknowledged the impossibility of answering them all. They offer results, not omnipotence. Once a prayer is chosen the supplicant is contacted. The god answering the prayer demands sacrifice. Often this involves a tribute of money—the Pantheon members live expensive lifestyles that must be supported. However, the Pantheon has been known to ask for other sacrifices, such as servitude for a year and a day. The Pantheon’s website and prayer hotline are run by the faithful paying off their sacrifice. A few gods have asked for first-born children, which has led to the rumor that the Pantheon eat babies.
The Pantheon has made many enemies. Followers of established religions are offended by the Pantheon’s claims of godhood and the crass nature of the bartering for and with believers. The Pantheon does not acknowledge national borders and the concentration of so many abnormals make nations nervous—especially after the attack on the U.S. prison.
The Pantheon is run like a commune for the super powered. The individual members don’t try to tell the others what to do because none of them acknowledge any higher authority than themselves. Any decision the Pantheon must make is decided by a simple vote. All members are expected follow the outcome regardless of whether they attended the vote or not. Those who fail to follow this rule are the only examples of the Pantheon policing itself, which they do forcefully.
Pantheon members have few duties. They are expected to come to the aid of a fellow god. Fear of retribution has kept many paragons safe as they trample laws around the world. Members are not required to answer the prayers of the faithful, but they are encouraged to do so.
Bases of Operations
A small, 500 square mile island called Hearthstone serves as the Pantheon base of operation. The island is located just south of Sri Lanka in international waters. Hearthstone serves as a display of the Pantheon’s power. The group raised the island from the ocean floor slowly over the course of several days, terraforming it into the lush paradise it is today. The island’s rise caused tidal waves to wreak havoc on nearby coastlines.
All abnormals are welcome to visit Hearthstone regardless of their allegiance, but normal humans are forbidden from doing so, with the exception of the faithful taken into servitude as part of their tribute.
The Pantheon has established a few churches around the world. These institutions are a means to draw more worshipers to the fold, increasing the Pantheons power.
Their power is the Pantheon’s greatest resource. The faction’s philosophy attracts the powerful and those who enjoy exercising their abilities. When they work together the members of the Pantheon have the ability to keep themselves, their staff, and Hearthstone well-supplied with everything they need to survive, and then some. However, many members prefer not to contribute because it’s too much like real work. Most members use their powers to answer the prayers of the faithful, living off their tribute.
Financially the Pantheon is poor, the organization does not receive a percentage of paid tributes, but its needs are few. Expenses, such as the day to day maintenance of Hearthstone are picked up by the group’s wealthier members.
The Pantheon has little interest in material or intellectual pursuits, although individual member’s attitudes vary greatly; with some members accruing as much material wealth as they can while others pursue philosophical, theological, or scientific mysteries to the exclusion of almost everything else.
The Pantheon cares little about the morality of the prayers they answer. They often clash with authorities as they reap death and destruction for the faithful. They take any attempt to stop their godly acts seriously as they believe failure to answer an acknowledged prayer weakens the link to their faithful which ultimately weakens their connection to what they believe is the source of their power.
The Pantheon is like fire, providing benefit to those who know how to use them (by worshiping), but to everyone else they’re a considerable danger. At their best, they help people achieve their desires, preaching a philosophy of personal freedom. At their worst they’re powerful rogue element in a fragile world.
The Pantheon is interested in power. They only answer prayers because they believe it will make them stronger. How they use their power depends on the individual member, some of whom are better than others, but the group as a whole has a negative reputation.
The Pantheon is the largest concentration of Abnormals in the world, a fact that makes a lot of people nervous. The group doesn’t keep records of its membership and considers any abnormal to be a member, whether they’ve “joined” or not. The number of abnormals that actively participate with the group fluctuates, but approximately fifty Novas consider themselves part of the core Pantheon. A third of that number belongs to Gaia’s religious faction.
Pantheon members share a common belief that their powers set them above the rest of the human race. The Pantheon rejects the findings that state there are no genetic difference between paragons and normal humans.
Gaia — Gaia still leads the Pantheon and is recognized as one of the more powerful abnormals alive. It’s unknown whether she’s a Nova or an Imbued, since she has never submitted to any tests and considers them beneath her.
Enchanter — A young man with the power to manipulate emotions, Enchanter doesn’t believe he’s a god as such, but he doesn’t mind being worshiped as one. Enchanter treats the world as one big party with him at the center of attention. He is often involved in scandal and is popular with the tabloid press.
Epicurius — Epicurius is a abnormal socialite who travels in the same circles as the rich and famous. His real name, and the source of his wealth, is unknown. Epicurius is rumored to have some sort of pheromone-based ability that induces a sense of euphoria in others. His very presence at a party or event ensures those present will have the time of their lives, hence his overwhelming popularity with both hosts and guests. he doesn’t seem to buy in to the whole God thing the rest of the Pantheon has going, but likes answering “prayers” that involve him having some sort of good time.
Wrath — When the faithful pray for death and destruction to befall their enemies, they pray to Wrath. He is a barely contained psychopath who can generate a blue flame he refers to as “godfire.” He is loyal to Gaia and a true believer in her theories.
Sea Dragon — Sea Dragon was a marine biologist before his Eruption. He gained powers over aquatic life, and claimed the Great Barrier Reef as his personal domain. He’s attacked several ships which he claimed were coming too close to the endangered habitat. He claims to be the father of a new race and can purportedly give those who seek a life in his service the ability to breathe in and live under the ocean.
Adam Forge — A super-human genius with the power to create incredibly detailed objects with the power of his mind, Adam Forge is one of the Pantheon’s most secretive members. He rarely leaves Hearthstone, preferring to work on his designs in privacy and safety. He invented the illusion generating staves the Pantheon’s missionaries carry.
Proteus — Proteus is a shape-shifting paranormal terrorist associated with the Pantheon. No one can claim to have seen Proteus’ “true” appearance. It might be the silvery, near-featureless humanoid form he often adopts, but that might be a disguise as well. Some even believe Proteus isn’t actually human. Proteus’ behavior is odd and somewhat unpredictable. He doesn’t seem motivated by wealth, power, or allegiance to any organization. Even his involvement with the Pantheon is largely inspirational. It’s difficult to tell at any given time just what he’ll do.
The Pantheon missionaries are people who have, in exchange for their prayers being answered, devoted a part of their life to increasing the number of those who are faithful to the Pantheon religion. They carry a high-tech staff capable of generating complex audio and visual illusions, using them to draw attention and deliver messages from the Pantheon gods. They are the chosen of the Pantheon and fall under the group’s protection. Those who accost a Pantheon missionary risk attracting the retribution of the group.