I must say, I was quit excited when I heard that Promethean gets a Night Horrors book. Night Horrors is a great line, and it is a shame that some lines are yet to get one, while others got two and more (I’m looking at you, Requiem!). Anyway, with all the fuzz about the upcoming book, I wondered again and again about what new wonders and terrors (mostly terrors) are waiting to show up in the Tormented. Sure, I was a bit disappointed from the book’s title (all other Night Horror books as such cool names, like Spilled Blood or Wolfsbane or Enemy Action), but the promises of a new types of antagonists, lost lineages and one mystery antagonist. As such, I truly had some high expectations for this book.
But when you have such high expectations, you sometimes get disappointed.
Now, I’m not saying the book is bad- but it is a bit… cliche in some parts? I mean, the Cannibal Promethean is so cliche that I am barely sacred of it. She doesn’t have any greater motives, and twist other than the fact that she is a cannibal (sure, she tries to use stolen pyros to cover over her pain, but yeah, it is not enough to make her into an interesting character IMO). Many of the prometheans in the book were just as two dimensional, having some great potential but lacking some inner depth (again, all in my opinion. I know the writers invested a lot of love in the characters they wrote, but apparently it was not for me). Even some of the alchemists suffered from that flatness in character- in fact, the sublimati were the deepest characters in the book, giving them complicate reasons and goals as well as ways to relate to them far beyond many of the other Tormented in the book. The backstory for the clones is quit interesting, even though that the clones themselves went kinda flat, and the fact we didn’t get an explicit, interesting system for clones, as well as not getting the Bestowments of any of the Extempore in the book, just was disappointing. And perhaps the greatest problem of all was the art- again, some pieces of art were good and interesting, while other were… awkward? Yeah, let’s go with awkward.
Again, I don’t want to hurt or insult any of the writers and artists who took part in making the book- but some of the art and writeups were just not my cup of tea as they simply felt either not compelling or just childish. The cover itself was kind of uninteresting- yeah, a lot of prometheans fighting some sort of pandorans, but it felt less like “Night Horrors” and more like “War zone”. Again, some people may like it, but it was a bit “meh” IMO.
But still, we got the Jovian.
In short, if the Principle is god, then the Jovian is the devil. I must say I’m not sure why Jupiter was connected to Flux in 2e (maybe something about tin in alchemy?), but the Jovian is, more or less, Flux incarnated. Sure, it has many possible origins, such as a forsaken Lineage which escaped destruction, a spirit of Disquiet, angel of the God Machine, fallen qashmal and so on and so on, but in the end it has a single goal- to make the Pilgrimage as long and eternal as possible. Becoming Centimani does not satisfy the Jovian- it has no interest in those which abandon their Pilgrimage. In a way, you could say that its endgame is the creation of petrificati- turning the Created into automatons which are forever stuck in their Role, with no hope for a New Dawn. An ultimate despair, an eternal night, a world of darkness. It can awaken pandorans and form Flux wherever it goes. Perhaps the connection to Flux comes from Pandora’s Books being a “gift” from Jupiter- Flux is the “gift” of the Jovian, the incarnation of all evils and demons while Elpis shines faintly in the depths of the darkness.
All of that sounds a bit familiar, isn’t it?
Long time ago, I’ve worked on a project called the Awful Ice– there, I presented a new, sinister force which search to devour the Azoth of the Created and stop them from reaching the New Dawn by “freezing” their Pilgrimage. On the other hand, we have the God Machine- a force of order and the status que, it works in order to maintain a state of a sea of darkness with few points of light. All of those forces, the Jovian, the God Machine and the Ice have a reason to meddle in the Principle’s plans for the Pilgrimage of the Created and stop them from gaining a New Dawn- but, if we were to give a deeper look at the subject, we would notice that not only that there are important differences between the three, but that they have some good reasons to actually hate each other’s guts.
Most of it I’ve already established in the Awful Ice’s original writeup- the Ice has some interesting interactions with both the Machine and Flux. It causes the engines of the God Machine to degrade and break apart, while it suffers from any direct touch with Flux, as it is the essence of chaos and entropy. The Ice works toward perfection and stillness, stopping time and withholding change. It contrasts with the Principle’s nature of dynamism, with the concept of change as growth and evolution instead of freezing everything into a single point and make things stop from moving or changing. Those two forces work toward perfection in their own way, but it is simply that their visions of perfection are radically different.
The God Machine gives another twist to the whole situation. It contrasts with the Principle as instead of introducing change, it works to maintain the status que. Order, laws, systems within systems, the God Machine preforms countless amount of work, spending enormous amount of energy in order to keep the situation as is. It contrasts with the Ice as the Ice do not wish to keep the situation as is- it despise orders and laws and instead wish to bring everything into a still universe where nothing moves. In a way, the God Machine works in order to balance those two forces- it stops the Fire from changing the world too much, and it also stops the Frost from bringing everything into a single state. The God Machine is, in a way, a neutral force- it balance every spark of hope the Principle ignites with the cold despair the Ice produce. It stops the New Dawn of the world as well as the coming Ice Age, doing a lot of work without actually doing anything. As such, it is an enemy for both sides of the equation.
But what about the Jovian?
The Jovian is an agent of Flux- which is entropy, chaos, and multitude of states. Entropy, however, also means stability- increasing the entropy of a system would make it more favorable to the world. The Principle negates entropy by preforming work- it takes a large amount of energy, and directs it toward a single process, toward pushing each promethean toward a New Dawn, humans toward Alchemy and alchemists toward Godhood. The God Machine negates entropy by maintaining a system in status que- the universe is not naturally balanced, and as such the Machine keeps on working in order to create a metastable situation where even the slight fluctuation in the calculations could cause some unexpected consequences. Everything must go according to the plan, everything must progress carefully, and increasing entropy without check would only bring destruction to the plans of the Machine. The Ice negate entropy by pushing everything to a single state- zero temperature, no movement, no change, nothing but endless cold with no sense of time or space.
The Jovian, on the other hand, is entropy- it is fire going out of control, a uniform pain and suffering which defies the laws of flesh and logic. The “stasis” that Flux produce is not truly stasis- it is stability. Nothing moves because everything keeps on disintegrating, rotting to the most basic units of existence. Under maximal entropy, everything would look the same, so there will be no difference between arms and legs, or arms and heads. Flux burns, because it is hot- but it is heat which could never produce any work, the lost amount of energy which will never, ever, be useful again. Flux is the inherit chaos of the universe, the death of everything and the suffering of all which exists. Things don’t stop moving- it is simply that their movement makes no difference. Pandorans fall to their dormancy because they are stable, and it is the Fire which destabilize them. The petrificati are stuck in a single role, unable to change and grow, because they reached the point where they are stable in their Role. The Jovian is about stability- the stability of an endless Pilgrimage in a night which knows no end. It is simply that, unlike many people think, stability is not stasis. Stasis is the least stable thing in the world, something which, according to modern science, has never been accomplished. But when things are stable, concepts like space, time and identity fall apart and become meaningless, simply because everything is the same.
That’s why the Jovian works against the Principle, the Machine and the Ice. It reduce the amount of energy which could be used, and as such reduce the ability of the three other powers from influencing the world. While that answers what the Jovian wants, and how it is different from the other alchemical Powers that Be, one question is left open- what the Jovian actually is? As I said before, Tormented gives a number of possible origins for that demonic being, and while some of those may sound interesting, I think I have another answer for that question.
An answer I knew even before I even asked the question.
Long time ago, as I’ve started working on the foundations of what would be my CofD cosmology, I proposed the concept of Flux being governed by a different being than the Principle- sure, the Principle was the Divine Fire, and as such had parts of both Elpis and Flux, as shown in the choirs of the qashmalim, but as some heat could still be converted back to work it is not that weird that the Principle could utilize Flux to some degree. However, many of the creations of Flux fall from outside of the Principle’s control- pandorans, petrificati, Jovian Athanors, etc. Those things are failed products, creations which could never be redeemed, beings which are not only trapped in the night, but are also a part of it. Those things, those failures, are mockeries to the creations of the Fire- and as such, the power to govern those creatures was called as the Mockery.
My idea for the Mockery, a.k.a Pandora, a.k.a the Jovian, is pretty simple- all Prometheans are driven toward reaching a New Dawn. One of the milestones required to achieve a New Dawn is the creation of another in their image- just like how God create Adam, Adam created Eve, and the Maharal from Prague created the Golem. Now, most of the Powers that be could be treated as the collection of the process used by the beings they govern- for example, the God Machine is the collective of all Command and Control Infrastructures around the world. As such, the Principle would be the collection of every spark of Divine Fire upon the face of earth. More than that, just as every Created walks a Pilgrimage toward a New Dawn, the Principle would have a Pilgrimage of its own- one which is, in fact, made from all of the Pilgrimages recorded within the Azothic Memory, meaning that the Azothic Memory is, by essence, the Pilgrimage of the Principle itself. Now, that also means that if the Principle wish to reach a New Dawn, it also needs to make another on his own image, isn’t it?
But what if the Principle has already tried that before?
Worse, what if it tried- only to miserably fail?
The outcome of such attempt would be the cosmic equivalent to a pandoran- something which devours pyros and convert it to Flux, a being of entropy and chaos which delights in the suffering of its maker. A being which tries to cover the world with darkness, blaming the one to give it life for the suffering it goes through on a daily basis. A devil to God, a Lilith to Eve- a failure, a Mockery. As all Pilgrimages are recorded with the Memory, so are the failures, which forever marked the existence of that terrible god-monster into the Pilgrimage of every Promethean in the world. The Principle tried to reach New Dawn, but it wasn’t ready at the time- and as a result, Flux went out of control, and the Jovian was created.
Did the Principle tried at creating something in its own image once more? Maybe it didn’t, as it wish to make sure that the next time it tried to preform the Great Work no other Jovian will be birthed by the failure. Perhaps it did, forming an ancient god which was destroyed, or went to hide, or achieved New Dawn by its own right, forming a lineage of divinities which keeps moving the world forward. Maybe the Principle we know is not the first, but the last in a long line of ever burning angels? Maybe the next attempt of the Principle was at creating a human instead of a god, forming the first promethean, which is why the Principle’s own Pilgrimage is so dependent on that of the Created. And maybe, just maybe, the Principle did created a single, new deity, and is still stuck in the search of a New Dawn, leaving that deity behind. And perhaps that god, all alone and without purpose, strayed away from the Pilgrimage in search for its own evolution and growth. Perhaps it got Stuck, unable to grow and change. Perhaps it knowingly chose Flux over Elpis, and became a Centimani. Perhaps that false idol, which is unable or doesn’t wish to change and achieve a New Dawn, is how the God Machine itself came to be.
And with that note, we will finish this week’s blog. Hope you liked it, and see you next time!