The Curse of the Abyss

This page is part of my fan-made FATE setting for the anime Made in Abyss. The master document can be found here.

Though the Abyss holds many dangers for the unprepared, the greatest challenge facing any delver is the ascent back to Orth. This is due to a phenomenon called the Curse of the Abyss. Any ascension of greater than 10-20 seems to bring about a series of symptoms that strain the mind and body of any and all explorers. It affects all living things, and to this date no method has been found to circumvent it. Through physical and mental training, experienced delvers can resist the effects. The deeper a delver goes, the more severe the effects become as they attempt to return home from the Abyss.

During play, the party will take Will-based stress, but make certain to describe the physical effects of the Curse during this time to allow them to roleplay being affected. Characters who have physical or mental weakness in one of their Aspects could be compelled to do something stupid with regards to the Curse.

Ascension from the First Layer, the Edge of the Abyss, induces light dizziness and nausea that may induce vomiting. Symptoms generally pass within a few minutes, and no long-term danger is expected for any except the young and frail. Will challenge at a set value of +3 to resist damage when ascending more than 10 metres. Add +3 for each layer of the Abyss (+6 for Second Layer, +9 for Third Layer, etc.)

Ascension from the Second Layer, the Forest of Temptation, is known to cause a mixture of headaches, severe nausea, and reduction or loss of feeling in the extremities. These strains of ascension rarely last longer than an hour or two, although they can be highly unpleasant to those of a weaker constitution.

Ascension from the Third Layer, the Great Fault, generally causes severe vertigo along with a complex of auditory and visual hallucinations. Due to the other dangers present in this layer, these symptoms can be fatal to delvers acting alone or without experience. While the hallucinations and vertigo pass within a few minutes, the physical and mental aftereffects can persist for hours or days.

Ascension from the Fourth Layer, the Goblet of Giants, induces intense full-body pain and varying amounts of internal and external bleeding across the body. The most dramatic effect of the Curse at this level is certainly the bleeding from all orifices, which is survivable but can have a significant impact on a delving team’s morale. This loss of blood can cause health issues for days or weeks after the ascension, and attempting to delve solo in the Fourth Layer is suicide for all but the greatest of Delvers.

Ascension from the Fifth Layer, the Sea of Corpses, causes a complete deprivation of the senses and severe confusion, which often leads to self-harming behaviour in delvers who have become disorientated and ungrounded. With the dangers of this layer, the loss of sensory input is frequently fatal for explorers, and great preparations must be taken in advance in order to survive the ascent. The impacts of this curse can be lifelong for delvers, as such a disruption to one’s perception of the world is not easily tolerated.

Ascension from the Sixth Layer, the Capital of the Unreturned, is considered to be impossible, as it always leads to complete loss of humanity or death. However, high-level delvers running dark experiments have discovered a work-around. Only Legendary-rank delving teams have ever entered this layer, and it is through their sacrifice that we have any knowledge at all about this place. For all the town of Orth knows, they are still down there, unable to return.

No one has ever returned from the Seventh Layer, the Final Maelstrom, and no information has ever come back from teams that may have reached it. Reports from the Sixth Layer speak of seeing a ring, like the jaws of a beast, surrounding the entrance of this layer. It can be assumed that ascent is impossible.

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