World of Darkness: Aeon

World of Darkness: Aeon / Cities / San Francisco / Places of Power / Paradise

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Paradise


Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.

-Rumi

Located at 2400 Fulton Street, next to Golden Gate Park and around the corner from Haight-Ashbury, there is a place called Paradise. One of the most prominent chantries in San Francisco, the earthbound portion of Paradise is housed within an opulent three-story home that once belonged to the band Jefferson Airplane. Currently, the building is owned and maintained by a group of Sahajiya known as the Paradise Collective. Since its purchase in 1986, the property has undergone extensive remodeling and preservation. Paradise is unmistakably a Sahajiya chantry, but they open their doors to any who would enter with an open mind and open heart. Residents and visitors partake in a vast array of mind-altering experiences, enlightened conversation and ecstatic rituals. In Paradise, serious religious devotees mingle with new agers, kinksters, club kids, activists, artists and aging hippies (among others.) All paths and passions are respected here, provided they follow the Code of Ananda.

Rules

A reproduction of the Code of Ananda, written in flowing script on a piece of parchment, hangs in the foyer near the front door, along with a framed plaque detailing the chantry's rules of conduct.

1: Only legal adults who are Awakened and Aware may enter these premises, except during designated outreach events.

2: Respect the boundaries of others.

3: Consent is paramount. No passion or experience can ever be forced upon or taken from an unwilling or unaware partner. Consent must be affirmative, enthusiastic and clear-minded, and can be rescinded at any time.

4: Responsible practices must be used at all times, even during rituals of violence or deprivation.

5: All are equal here. All are family. Do not pass judgment. Do not neglect those in need.

Open House

Every Sunday, from 10am to 10pm, the chantry hosts an Open House. During Open House, the rules of entry are lifted to allow children and open-minded Sleepers into the chantry. Activities during these times are limited to those things which are appropriate for all ages and boundary-levels. Obviously, vulgar effects and open talk of magick are not allowed. The below-ground level of the chantry is closed off during this period.


Exterior

The exterior of the house is Grecian in design: solid white with tall columns and patterned accents. Each floor has a large outdoor patio: two in back and one in front. During popular hours, people can often be found there relaxing and conversing in the sun. A tall wrought-iron fence encompasses the property. Two gates provide entrance: one at the front door and one by the garden. These gates are typically locked, except during special events, but they will open automatically for anyone who has been given access to the Chantry. The house itself takes up the majority of the property, but there is a small side yard which contains a vibrant flower garden. A dirt path winds through the garden to the back of the house. Alongside it sits a wooden bench with a small gold plaque that reads: For my Valentine.

Interior

The interior design of the house follows a predominantly Moroccan-Bohemian theme. The rooms are luxurious and colorful, with soft fabrics and plush cushions. Eclectic art pieces decorate the walls, along with music memorabilia from the 60's and 70's. Verdant houseplants with flowing tendrils occupy sunlit spaces. Fragrances of incense, tropical flowers and rich spices fill the house with a heady aroma. Activity in the Chantry fluctuates, but there are always at least a handful of residents. Visitors come and go, and parties are not infrequent. During busy times, it's not unusual to find the house packed with guests from all over the globe.

The Chantry house is laid out as follows:

Ground Floor

  • A spacious living room, plus a second smaller (more intimate) living space.
  • A well-equipped kitchen and dining area.
  • A full bathroom.
  • An office space with available computers.
  • An entertainment room with a massive in-wall TV screen, multiple gaming systems, surround sound, a couple of pin-ball machines and a pool table.
  • A sound-proof practice room and recording studio.

Second Floor

  • Five bedrooms.
  • Two large, full bathrooms.
  • An all-purpose hang-out room where pretty much anything goes.

Third Floor

  • A yoga and meditation room.
  • A library.
  • A ritual space.
  • An art studio.
  • Two bedrooms (usually locked.)
  • One full bathroom.


Underground

Visitors who limit their exploration to the above-ground portion of the Chantry will likely come away with the impression that, while certainly a nice house, there isn't much to warrant Paradise's eminent reputation. In truth, the house is merely the mundane face of the Chantry. It offers a more casual and grounded environment for the local Sahajiya, as well as an appropriate interface with the Sleeper world. It's impressive enough not to look like a front, but not so impressive that it garners enemy attention. Those who venture below-ground, however, will find something far more vast in scale.

In order to access the underground level, visitors must either come through the Horizon Realm (more on that later) or enter through a door to the side of the kitchen on the ground floor. This door appears completely normal to the senses, but it is guarded with powerful magick. Anyone who has not been granted access will find, upon opening the door, that it leads to a simple supply closet. Those who have been granted access will instead find a long stone staircase leading down. A warm glow of light at the base of the stairs and hints of intoxicating tropical scents beckon visitors forward.

The laws of reality become blurry below-ground. In truth, the area is far larger than it ever could be if created through purely mundane means, and a number of the rooms seem to be lit by a magickal source that mimics sunlight. One can find many things in this area. Visitors might explore for hours and still not uncover every possibility. Yet no one ever gets lost (unless they wish to!) and everyone always seems to find exactly what they need. Some notable highlights include:

  • A luxurious bathhouse.
  • Multiple ritual and meditation rooms, each with a different mood/theme.
  • A massive multi-story library.
  • A hallway featuring an assortment of fully-stocked playrooms, from vanilla to extreme.
  • Fully equipped athletic and martial arts facilities.
  • Multiple grow-rooms and a state of the art drug lab.
  • A banquet hall.
  • A hookah lounge.
  • A more intimate cafe and eating space.
  • Multiple fully-stocked bars.
  • A large, multi-story night-club.
  • A sprawling botanic garden, at the center of which lies the Node.
  • A screening room.
  • Multiple performance spaces.
  • Lots of places to sit and socialize or take in the atmosphere.

Many of the visitors to this part of the Chantry come from far away places. One can usually find an eclectic mix of locals and well-traveled guests.


Library

The smaller, above-ground library (located on the third floor of the house) is a casual, welcoming space accessible to all visitors. Books here can be read by anyone, and while some of them may push boundaries (and possibly stir readers toward greater awareness,) there's nothing that might garner Paradox, reveal closely-guarded secrets or harm an unenlightened mind.

The main library, located below-ground, contains a vast treasure of written and recorded works. Mages can find anything from first-edition novels to rare poetry to colorful philosophical treatises to powerful arcane tomes. Only Chantry members and invited visitors may access this library. The rarest, most dangerous and powerful books, including three magickal Grimoires, are all contained within heavily warded and locked rooms. These require special permission from the Chantry librarian to access.

Books from these libraries cannot be taken off-premises, except with special permission (and under notable circumstances.) The total Library rating for the Chantry is 8. However, most will not have access to the full extent of its resources. The following is a breakdown of the different levels of access:

Casual Visitors: Library 2

Members and Approved Guests: Library 5

Senior Members: Library 8

As mentioned above, members and visitors can be granted temporary access to greater resources, under the right circumstances. 


Node

At the center of the Chantry's underground botanic garden lies a powerful Node. The Node is located in an open area with a clear view of the ceiling, which has been magickally enchanted so that it appears to be open sky. The illusion is completely real to the senses: sight, sound, scent... even the flow of air movement feels like being outdoors. The experience changes with local time and weather, though the view is more of an idealized image: when it's sunny, the sky is bright and clear (no signs of pollution,) and at night the stars are unobstructed. Even the rain is replicated, though the wetness vanishes from the skin upon leaving the garden.

The Node begins as a wide, still pool of dark water. At the center of this pool sits a 35 foot tall stone statue of a nude woman seated in a lotus position. Wide cracks in the stone separate to reveal a golden burst of light from some inner source of power. A scattering of lotus flowers drift across the surface of the pool, each one glowing at the center with the same power that lights the statue.

A row of silk meditation cushions surround the edge of the pool, and a couple of stone benches are kept stocked with clean towels for those who wish to enter the water. The depth of the pool descends from 1 foot at the edge to 10 feet at the center. The temperature of the water is subjective to each encounter. Those in need of invigoration will find it chilly, while those looking for relaxation will find it pleasantly warm.

All visitors to the below-ground portion of the Chantry are allowed to spend time at the Node. Whether or not they can withdraw Quintessence and/or Tass is up to the Node's guardian. Generally speaking, these resources are reserved for local Chantry members, though visitors can acquire permission if the need is great. Under ordinary circumstances, members will be allowed to take up to 3 Quintessence and/or Tass per week. In instances where more is required, the guardian may offer more (depending on circumstances and available resources.)

Rating: 7

Quintessence: 70 per week (10 per day.) 50 of this is free Quintessence, while the other 20 is channeled into Tass (lotus flowers.)

Resonance: Opening / Expanding

Casting Modifier: -3 anywhere in the underground portion of the chantry, -2 above ground, -1 anywhere within a one-block radius.


Horizon Realm

The Sahajiya have spent the past 20 years building this Horizon Realm, and it is this place that truly inspires the name: Paradise.

The Gate to the Realm does not appear as one might expect. For one thing, it isn't stationary. Rather, it moves throughout the lower portion of the Chantry, appearing only when needed. Visitors will find that they need only wish to enter the Realm, and their next step takes them there. It needn't only be a conscious desire: subconscious thoughts can summon the Gate as well. This occasionally results in a surprise journey, though most find it a welcome one. The Gate itself does not have an obvious appearance, though sensitive individuals and those who look with magickal senses will be able to detect it. To mundane sight, it looks like a subtle ripple in the surface of reality. The Gate can (and does) appear anywhere, including walls, floors, beds and pools of water. Experienced travelers find it very intuitive, but it takes a bit of getting used to.

After passing through the Gate, travelers will find themselves in a sprawling landscape of lush natural beauty. The Umbral side of the Gate works just as the Earth side does (appearing wherever it's needed) so visitors might end up in any number of different areas. The climate is predominantly tropical, with a long, winding ocean coastline to the South. To the North, a snow-capped Mountain range reaches high into the clouds, while to the East, a desert unfolds into the horizon. The rest of the land is composed of wild jungles, verdant hills, picturesque waterfalls, welcoming villas and awe-inspiring monuments.

At the center of the Realm lies the ashram, a spiritual place of community where Sahajiya gather to practice their Arts, follow their Passions and seek Enlightenment. The ashram houses a large, open air pavilion where people can gather. Winding stone and dirt trails lead visitors through a beautiful, gardened landscape dotted with moss-covered statues and private huts. Through the center of the ashram, a brilliant turquoise estuary cuts through the landscape on its way to the ocean.

At first glance, one might mistake the Realm for an Earthly paradise, but there is far more magick here than meets the eye. The laws of reality are incredibly intuitive, adapting to the moods of its inhabitants. A mage who chooses to take a calming stroll along a mountain trail will find the sounds and scents to be soft, clear and meditative. Enacting a violent ritual will stir up stormy winds and rough waves. A pair of lovers meeting in the jungle will cause flowers to bloom and drip with nectar. The landscape changes to suit the traveler. If one seeks something, it will often appear (though not always in the form one might expect.) Time and distance are relatively meaningless. If a traveler wishes to be somewhere quickly, they will arrive quickly. If they wish to take their time, the trail will be long and rambling. A visitor can spend what feels like weeks in the Realm and return to find they've only been gone a few hours.

A vast array of flora and fauna exist in the Realm, from the relatively mundane to the fantastical. While these entities are sensitive to mages' moods, many of them have minds and feelings of their own. As such, their level of cooperation is variable. However, it is often the case that mages tend to draw those beings most suited to them. Someone itching for a fight might find themselves confronting a fire elemental, while a person filled with childlike wonder might attract a family of tiny fairies.

Many parts of the Realm are designed to stimulate the senses. Sights, sounds, scents, tastes and sensations are incredibly vivid. It is recommended that visitors be mindful not to over-indulge. For those in need of a respite, peaceful meditation spots are plentiful.

The Paradise Horizon Realm has Earthly access points in a number of Sahajiya Chantries across the globe. Among the Tradition, it is a shared sacred place. Mages can visit other Chantries from the Realm, but this typically requires an invitation. Attempting to travel through a foreign Chantry's Gate without permission may result in failure or harm, depending on the Chantry's defenses.


Accessibility and Defense

The perimeter of the Chantry grounds is guarded by a Mind 2 effect that causes anyone passing by to feel disinclined to trespass on the property or cause it harm. This effect does not repel visitors. Rather, it inspires respect. While Sleepers are the primary target, it affects everyone who gets within ten feet of the fence.

No key or code is required to open the front gates or the doors to the house. All entrances are magickally enchanted to open for Chantry members (and no one else.) Other visitors must be allowed in by a member.

Similarly, the entrance to the below-ground portion of the Chantry will only appear for Chantry members. Beyond that point, access to most areas are open to everyone, with the exception of a few private rooms (which are well-hidden) and the Library. The entrance to the Library will open only for Chantry members. In this case, visitors will not be allowed entry unless the Librarian grants them access (though she is generally reasonable.) As for the Horizon Realm, only those Awakened individuals of compatible mindset will be able to find the Gate. Mages with ulterior motives, who are hostile towards the Sahajiya paradigm, or who simply aren't prepared to handle the experience, will find that the Gate does not appear for them. (Is it possible to trick the magick that controls the Gate? No one knows, but it hasn't happened yet.)

All areas of the Chantry, particularly the Node and the Library, are guarded by powerful magick. The architects of these effects were careful to cover their signatures. As such, only a select few individuals are aware of the full extent of these defenses. Many things are allowed in Paradise, but the few restrictions they do have are firmly enforced. Painting on the wall or breaking a vase are not going to result in any mystical retribution. Attempting to break into the building, steal an artifact, damage the Node, or commit an act of violation on Chantry grounds, however, will almost certainly prove difficult.

Additionally, Chantry members rotate duties guarding the Chantry, the Library and the Node, and providing (sober) assistance to those who need it. It isn't their nature to be intimidating or obtrusive, so they aren't always easy to spot. More often than not, their primary duties involve helping people enjoy themselves safely. However, in the event of danger they are capable of defending the Chantry and its visitors.

Anyone whose character attempts to go up against the Chantry's defenses should contact the ST.


Notable NPCs

Deacon: Cleopatra Lal

Librarian: Zara Martinique

Pharmacist: Angel Ocean

Healer: Camila Flores

Chef: Jaxon Kalawai'a

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