It occurs to me that before I can talk meaningfully about any of the initial quest lines in Atma, I should give a bit of background involving the layout of the game’s world. There are seven capitals scattered around the map in which most of Atma’s character interactions take place. Due to the flow of the elemental forces through the planet, there are various hot-spots of activity for each of the seven basic elements we’ve discussed in the past. Each of the locations I’ll shortly describe is in the proximity of one of these spots, giving each region a focus on a specific element–it’s actually this close relationship with the elements that allows these capitals to “prosper” in what is otherwise a hostile environment. While Atma does take place in a world that’s been wiped of nearly all human civilization, our story picks up after humanity has had several decades to rebuild itself. The world we’re interacting with is therefore one composed of many small settlements, connected to the rest of the world via these capital cities. Join me, as we tour seven locations that form civilization’s backbone in the reconstructed world:
The first stop on our tour of Atma’s world is the waterside village, Turchin. Established where the elemental force of water begins to breach the world’s surface, Turchin is composed of a vast array of small huts and hovels built on a series of streams and canals. The village draws its welfare from the water, with fishmongers and farmers driving the economy, watermills allowing for textile production, and an intricate system of waterways allowing for easy transportation of people and goods. It is a relatively peaceful place, in a land unspoiled by any recent conflict, and its population is generally rather laid back.
Our second stop is the skytown, Lila. Perched in the peaks of a southern mountain range, Lila was founded by a group of explorers seeking to escape a constant struggle with the fierce wildlife on the world’s surface. The town is composed of many dwellings carved into the mountain faces, connected to one another via an expansive series of “skybridges”. The elemental force of air is powerful in this region, and as a result, Lila is able to thrive by harnessing the power of the wind. Given a source of dependable energy, and ready access to the vast metal and mineral deposits in the mountains themselves, the town has become the world’s capital for technological advancement. It is through research and invention that the town continues to succeed, despite the constant risks associated with its precarious location.
The third place we’ll take a look at is the walled city, Odu. Standing firm as a solitary refuge from countless miles of harsh, unforgiving desert, Odu’s walls are composed of the very sand that surrounds them. Built where the elemental force of earth is strong, the city serves as an oasis for travelers through the desert. Odu is in a central location on its continent, which makes it a popular area for commercial activity despite its treacherous surroundings, as traders and traveling merchants are constantly passing through. This fact means that Odu plays the role of a commerce capital in the newly emerging civilization. Its marketplaces and bazaars lend it a unique fast-paced “bustling” quality.
Fourth on our list of destinations is the forest settlement, Roen. Located at the border of a grasslands and massive forest, where the element of wood is quite powerful, Roen prospers greatly as a result of its proximity to a force of growth and life. The settlement’s chief exports are livestock and lumber; the nearby grasslands make for excellent grazing, while the bordering forest offers both timber and, arguably a more important resource, protection. Perhaps more than any of the other capitals, Roen is a triumph of man’s coexistence with nature. The settlers raise and protect their livestock from the wild beasts, and the land offers them security and sustenance.
On the other side of the world is our fifth stop, the moonlit temple, Belyj. Where the previous capitals we’ve discussed have focused on more tangible exports, Belyj’s status as a world capital is the result of religion. In the perpetually snowbound northern regions, where days are short and nights are long, a magnificent temple was erected in dedication to the gods. As pilgrims gathered at this holy place, a city grew around the temple, until eventually the holy city Belyj was formed, with the temple as its centerpiece. The city features a dazzling array of mirrors and jewels laid out carefully in tribute to the gods; at night, the moon’s glow is amplified to a cloak of brilliant light by reflection, making Belyj almost as bright as day. Its strong relationship with the force of light, which has power over the region, makes this perpetual brightness all the more fitting.
The sixth location on this scenic journey is the twilight metropolis, Svartskodde. Far south of Belyj, in the midst of a gloomy swamp, Svartskodde is everything that the holy city is not: it is gritty, it is grim, and it is dark. The force of darkness presides over this region, and this is evident in both the perpetually overcast sky above, and the seedy population within. A place where men act out their sins and vices, Svartskodde is the entertainment capital of the world. With the clouds constantly blocking out the sunlight, Svartskodde is constantly shrouded in darkness; it’s fortunate, then, that the city has such an active nightlife. It has everything from pubs to brothels to casinos–Svartskodde is truly a place for hedonists and villains alike to gather and make merry, despite the dismal surroundings.
Our seventh and final stop on this tour is the Grand Dojo, Gosai. Where the other capitals may have originally formed due to convenience or a sense of camaraderie, Gosai was uniquely forged from the instinct for survival. A military nation in every sense of the word, it is held together by a sense of strict discipline, honor, and tradition. Erected where the elemental force of fire has its influence, the harsh surrounding climate breeds fierce warriors to fend off the equally fierce wildlife. Gosai’s walls were originally raised for no purpose other than defense from the outside world, but the fervent pride this nation’s people take in their martial lifestyle has lent itself over the years to the cultivation of a unique ornamental quality in the dojo’s fortifications.