Level 157

SURVIVAL DIFFICULTY:

Class 2

  • {$one}
  • {$two}
  • Very High Entity Count


rating: +55+x

Description:

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A view of the endless checkered field.

Level 157 consists of a large, endless plain stretching out in all directions. Instead of any sort of grass or dirt, the ground of Level 157 is made up entirely of black and white checkered squares, resembling a chessboard. Each square is about three feet, or one meter, in diameter, made of smooth marble, and unable to be cracked with sharp objects. This landscape is entirely flat, with no hills, bumps, depressions, or any other changes in elevation observable. When being transported here, wanderers will find themselves in a random portion of Level 157, with at least two "rook towers" within walking distance, visible on the horizon.

Despite its uniformity, Level 157 is extensively separated into "kingdoms" by the entities that reside on Level 157. These entities are sentient, can communicate fluently with wanderers, and are modeled after modern chess pieces. There are no observable markers to signify kingdom boundaries, but all entities in the level adhere to borders and expect wanderers to do the same. Whichever kingdom a wanderer arrives in is the only one that the entities will allow the wanderer to traverse. If they spot a wanderer outside of his or her kingdom, they will consider them an enemy and attack on sight.

When arriving in Level 157, the highest priority for wanderers should be to seek out one of the rook towers on the horizon. These rook towers will always be in the limits of the wanderer's kingdom, so as long as one takes a straight path from their location to a rook tower, they should not encounter any trouble. Each rook tower varies in height, but are usually around fifty feet tall (15 meters) and either painted white or black. At the bottom of the rook towers are painted drawbridges that open when a wanderer draws near. The rook towers' insides are painted corresponding to their interior color and host three floors each, all with checkered floors and various pieces of furniture. The interior makeup of the rook towers will be detailed later in the article, under the section "Rook Towers".

The Game



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The most common starting layout for beginning players.

Upon entering the level, wanderers will become players in the ongoing "chess game" that takes place in the level. The kingdom that wanderers arrive in will contain all the "pieces" wanderers start with at the beginning of the game. The player will always invariably play black. Though almost all of the kingdoms are small and only contain two or three rook towers, there is one large kingdom containing several dozen that dominates the entirety of the level. This kingdom is called the "Triangle Kingdom" and is led by a being who simply refers to themselves as "the Triangle". The Triangle plays white, and so all human players are on the opposing side of the Triangle. Once a wanderer enters a rook tower, they will receive a handwritten letter detailing the rules and goals of the chess game. They read as follows:



Goals:


1. Capture rook towers of other kingdoms of opposing colors by challenging their pieces to a game of chess and winning.


2. Amass an army by continuing to capture rook towers and converting the opposing pieces to your side.


3. Challenge the regional army of one of the Triangle Kingdom's rook towers and win. Upon success, the ability to enter and leave at will will be granted.



Rules:


1. The player must use the initial starting pieces given to them upon entry. All players start as the black side with at least two rook towers, a king strategist, a queen assassin, two bishop runners, two knight riders, and eight infantry pawns lettered j-q.


2. Players may not leave until the game is won or lost. Upon victory, access to the chess game will be granted at any time through the opening of a special book granted to the victor. Upon defeat, players will be returned to the initial place from which they came, being permanently barred access to the chess game for the rest of their lives.


3. Friendly fire is prohibited by all means.


4. Kingdoms may challenge each other to games of chess, using any number of pieces out of those who inhabit a certain kingdom. For each game, the winner captures a rook tower of their choice from the loser. All inhabitants of that rook tower are to be doused in the paint of the victor's color and to join the victor's side as pieces of their kingdom to be used in the next battle.


5. Players lose when all of their rook towers, and consequentially all of their pieces, have been captured.


6. Joint wars are allowed between kingdoms, in which multiple kingdoms challenge one to games of chess simultaneously, forcing the challenged kingdom to split their forces. Player cooperation and joint wars are not allowed.


7. In the event that a chess game is played when a kingdom only has one rook tower remaining, the objective of the game will change. Instead of checkmating the king of the opponent with one remaining rook tower, the goal will be to capture the king, upon which the king will be executed and all remaining pieces of that kingdom will swear allegiance to the winning kingdom. This will be called a king's "final game".


8. The pieces' starting positions for chess games must be as follows:
  • The front lines of both sides must start four squares apart from each other.
  • An infantry pawn may only start on the square that corresponds with their name.
  • The king and queen must attend every game and be placed on the board on the back lines.
  • The front lines must be comprised entirely of infantry pawns.
  • The board shall be split into columns and rows, with rows being numbers 1-8 and columns being lettered a-z.
  • The back lines and the front lines must be only one row thick vertically on the chess board, though they may be up to 26 spaces long.
  • The viable playing field is restricted to eight squares long vertically and and up to 26 spaces horizontally.


Other than these specific rules, the gameplay of the chess games is nearly identical to modern chess. Common rules of modern chess still apply, such as white going first and the game taking place in turns. When capturing a piece, the capturer moves to the square of the captured piece, and the captured piece moves behind the back line of their color and therefore off of the playing field. A chess game is won when the opponent's king strategist is checkmated, upon which all pieces vacate the playing field, those to be doused heading to the opponent's nearest rook tower, and those to be let free returning home to theirs.


Rook Towers


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A picture of a white rook tower.

The rook tower is an essential part of each kingdom in Level 157, and will always be painted in the color of their current kingdom. Each rook tower contains four infantry pawns, one knight rider, one bishop runner, and occasionally a king strategist and queen assassin. They are the only known structures in the level as well, as there has been no reported evidence of any other sort of building existing. As such, all facilities and resources that the entities on Level 157 use to survive are located in the rook towers. In addition, each rook tower contains a presumably infinite supply of food specifically catered towards wanderers (as the entities in Level 157 do not eat) as well as amenities for wanderers specifically.

Rook towers also contain an infinite supply of paint in the color of their kingdom to be used on Pieces transferring sides. A rook tower's paint supply is located in the paint room on the first floor. Upon the loss of a kingdom's rook tower, the entire rook tower will also be painted to match the color of its new kingdom. Many longstanding rook towers have several layers of black and white paint over one another.

Though rook towers may vary in size, they all possess identical layouts. Each rook tower's exterior is identical to a large version of a modern rook. Rook towers are usually either made of white or black marble or extremely thick colored plastic. Rook towers contain several rooms and floors that convey certain purposes. Below is a visualization of the layout of a standard rook tower.




Structure of a Rook Tower

Roof

Parapet

Top Floor

Library and game archive || Throne room || Royal Quarters || Scribe's rooms

Middle Floor

Lookout/balcony || Player's room || Knight's rooms || Living rooms

Ground Floor

Kitchen || Main hall || Entrance || Pawn's Rooms || Paint rooms




Entities


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A player discusses battle tactics with several Pieces during a mock game inside a rook tower.

There are a wide variety of entities that inhabit Level 157. There are six known types that have been discovered so far. All six of them are sentient and can communicate fluidly in virtually any spoken language despite not having any visible mouths. Five of them are physically identical to large modern plastic chess pieces, with the sixth type being the Triangle. All entities that resemble chess pieces refer to themselves as "the Pieces" collectively, and also have individual names and personalities. There is no evidence that they reproduce, eat, drink, produce waste, sleep, or do any other bodily process regular for a sentient living being. The Pieces move about in a few unique ways, due to not having hands or feet. Infantry pawns and knight riders hop from place to place, and bishop runners, queen assassins, and king strategists all slide around on flat surfaces, though they also have the ability to jump small distances. Due to the expansive nature of the level, the steady population density of entities, and the ubiquity of kingdoms, it can be assumed that there are upwards of millions of the Pieces inside Level 157.





Infantry Pawns


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A picture of a white infantry pawn.

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Standard pawn movement.

By far the most common entity type in Level 157, the infantry pawns are short, sluggish entities that resemble a modern chess pawn. All infantry pawns are named according to a certain system: any letter from a-z, the row on which they are played (2 for white and 7 for black) and the name of the kingdom that they originated from. For example, a white infantry pawn originating in the kingdom of Alesia that plays on the g column would be named G2 Alesia.

Infantry pawns move identically to pawns in modern chess. They may move one square forwards and capture one square diagonally forwards. The first time they move in a game, they may also choose to move two squares forwards. Upon reaching the end the opponent's side of the board, they may promote themselves, that is, transform themselves into a knight, bishop, king, or queen. A rook may not be chosen because a rook is not a playing piece in Level 157, instead comprising the castles where the other pieces live. Upon the end of each chess match, infantry pawns that promote during the game are transformed back into their previous form.

Outside of chess games, infantry pawns perform menial tasks around the rook towers. They often act as servants, cooks, cleaners, lookouts, and other miscellaneous roles. Due to their slow speed, they often perform tasks that do not require a lot of physical ability. Many infantry pawns form social groups between integrated pawns of different kingdoms that play the same column or file. For example, three infantry pawns from different, previously conquered kingdoms may form a social group if they all are played on the G2 square and the G file on the chessboard. Infantry pawns who have been promoted in games retain a certain sort of prestige among their peers due to being able to make it all the way across the board. These infantry pawns are considered "veterans" and often have higher priority in being played during chess games over other, less-experienced pawns of the same square in their kingdom.


Knight Riders


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A picture of a white knight rider.

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Standard knight movement.

Knight riders are the second most common entity residing in Level 157, though they are much less common than infantry pawns. They resemble a modern chess knight. One peculiar thing about knight riders is that despite being called knights, it is the horse that is sentient, with no human riding atop it to be found. Instead, the horses themselves are considered both the knights and the riders. Knight riders are named similarly to pawns, except they are numbered based on order of acquisition and not according to their starting square, as that is variable and up to the player to decide each game.

Each new player in Level 157 starts out with two knight riders, which will be named "Knight One (Kingdom Name)" and "Knight Two (Kingdom Name)" respectively. Unlike infantry pawns, which will retain their names for their entire existences, knight riders will change their name to match the kingdom that they join upon being integrated. For example, Knight Twenty-Seven Juno, upon losing to the Kingdom of Alesia, would change their name to fit with Alesia's order of knights. If Knight Twenty-Seven Juno becomes Alesia's seventy-fifth knight rider, they will don the name "Knight Seventy-Five Alesia".

Knight riders in chess move identically to knights in modern chess. They may only move in an "l-shape", meaning that they may, on their side's turn, move one square up, down, left, or right, and then move two squares perpendicular to their initial movement. Knight riders, like modern knights, may "jump over" or pass through both enemy and allied pieces that are in its path, a quality that no other piece possesses.

In the peacetime between games, knight riders act as supervisors over the many infantry pawns that inhabit the kingdoms. A knight rider will be in charge of an average of around four infantry pawns, ensuring that they are assigned jobs and complete them on time. Knight riders also serve as emergency bodyguards of the king strategist, as there are multiple recorded instances of queen assassins attempting to assassinate king strategists of opposing kingdoms.


Bishop Runners


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A picture of a white bishop runner.

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Standard bishop movement.

Bishop runners are the third most common entity residing in Level 157, only slightly less common than knight riders. Bishop runners resemble the modern bishop. Other than the queen assassin, the bishop runner is considered the fastest and most nimble of the Pieces. Therefore, bishop runners are the couriers and messengers of the kingdoms. Bishop runners are named using identical naming customs as the knight riders, with names such as "Bishop Eighty-Two Triangle" and "Bishop Four Wallenheim". Like knight riders, bishop runners will change their name according to their place in their new kingdom after being defeated in chess games.

In chess games, bishop runners will act similarly to modern bishops in chess. They have the ability to move diagonally, and only diagonally, in any direction. They can move an unlimited amount of space in one direction each turn until they either hit the end of the board, capture an opponent's piece, or are blocked by one of their own.

Bishop runners play a key role in the functions of the kingdom. They are the scribes and secretaries, and are the backbone of communication between kingdoms. Every challenge issued between kingdoms is written and delivered by a bishop runner. Additionally, despite the fact that all entities in Level 147 can fluidly speak and spoken language, bishop runners are the only member of the Pieces that exhibits the capacity to learn how to read and write. It does not seem like any other Piece is capable of learning how. Bishop runners are able to write by inserting pens through the mouth-like divot on their upper body. This makes bishop runners invaluable to the documentation of chess games, as bishop runners will document the events of every chess game played by their kingdom move by move using SAN (Standard Algebraic Notation) and archive them in the libraries of the rook towers. By accessing a kingdom's archive, a new player in Level 157 can potentially learn strategies and patterns of play.


Queen Assassins


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A picture of a white queen assassin.

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Standard queen movement.

Queen assassins are among the rarest of the entities that reside in Level 157. They resemble the modern chess queen. They are the fastest, deadliest, and most powerful members of the Pieces. A kingdom will have, on average, one to two queen assassins, with only a few exceeding that number. Unlike bishops, knights, and pawns, queen assassins are given individual names instead of being numbered or lettered. They take on English naming customs, with one first name and one surname. Surnames are unique to the individual and are not shared among any others, as due to lack of reproduction, families do not seem to exist between entities. Each queen also carries the title of Queen, and are usually referred to as "Queen (Surname)".

Queen assassins are the only member of the Pieces that are physically capable of causing great harm to other pieces and to humans. The top of their head is serrated, and combined with their extreme speed, they have the ability to break apart other Pieces by ramming them with the edges, killing them. When aggravated, a queen assassin may also use this strategy to harm humans, though this is only theoretical, and no attacks have been recorded as of the time of writing. Because of their power, queen assassins also act as executioners for other queen assassins and for kings of utterly defeated kingdoms.

In chess games, queen assassins are the most valuable piece besides the king strategist. They function identically to modern queens in chess, but due to the larger board, their potency is significantly increased compared to standard chess. A queen assassin may move diagonally and normally in any direction for an unlimited number of squares until they reach the end of the board, capture a piece, or are blocked by one of their own.

In peacetime, queen assassins serve as elite bodyguards to king strategists. Because of queen assassins' immense power in comparison to all the other Pieces, an assassination attempt made by an opposing kingdom's queen assassin can usually only be stopped by another queen assassin. A kingdom's queen assassin(s) will attend to the king strategist and accompany him throughout all periods of the day. However, not all queen assassins obey this rule. Some choose to leave the rook tower and make attempts on other enemy kings' lives. A king strategist may also order the assassination of another king. Very rarely do these plots succeed, but on the event that they do and the enemy king strategist is killed, his kingdom shall be considered defeated and all members of that kingdom shall join the queen assassin's. However, upon failure, the queen assassin will be executed by opposing queen assassins or killed during the attempt. Without a queen assassin to play in regular chess matches, a kingdom can be put at a severe disadvantage and may lose their kingdom instead.


King Strategists


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A picture of a white king strategist.

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Standard king movement.

King strategists are the rarest entity found in Level 157. They resemble modern chess kings and act as rulers of their specific kingdom. There will only be one king strategist per kingdom. King strategists have authority over all other Pieces, though they will still obey players' commands. King strategists are instrumental to the stability of their respective kingdom. Upon their death, the kingdom is considered fallen, regardless of the status of the player. King strategists are named identically to queen assassins, bearing the title of "King" while also possessing first names and surnames. King strategists are usually only seen within the throne room of rook towers, or at games. The vast majority of them do not choose to venture to other places in fear of being assassinated.

In chess games, the king strategist functions identically to the modern king. As such, they are able to move one square in any direction, provided it is not blocked or moves them into threat of capture on the next turn. The king is a unique piece in that, unless it is a king's final game, it cannot move to squares that would lead them to be captured on the next turn. The status of the king in chess dictates the status of the game, as the objective of each chess game is to checkmate the king.

To checkmate the king, one must end their turn with all possible spaces the enemy king can move to in line of sight of one's allied pieces, including the space that the enemy king is currently on. This will leave the enemy king with no square to go to without risking capture, while also threatening capture on the next turn if the king does not move. Upon fulfilling these conditions, the king is considered checkmated and the game is won. The only exception to this is a king's final game, in which the king in question is currently playing a chess game to decide the fate of their final remaining rook tower. If defeat would leave a kingdom with no remaining rook towers, it is considered a king's final game and the game will not end with checkmate. Instead, the game will end when the enemy king is captured, upon which the opposing kingdom will be considered utterly defeated and the captured king will be executed.

During chess games, the king strategist may advise their player on strategies and possible moves. The king strategist may also remind players of the rules if they forget or forgo them. King strategists possess vast knowledge of the game and retain a profound amount of experience. They may also formulate plans and scenarios in times of peace, have executive power over all other pieces, and ensure that all members of the kingdom are organized and fully functional, a task that is assisted by bishop runners.


The Triangle


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Depiction of the Triangle.

The Triangle is a singular entity that resides in Level 157. It is currently unknown if the Triangle is a human being or an entity, but it seems to be the latter due to their oddly-shaped head. Their head takes the form of a Penrose triangle, often known as an "impossible triangle". No matter what angle one views the Triangle's head at, their head will always appear to be a three-dimensional representation of a Penrose triangle at a certain angle where all three vertices are visible, rotating itself to always face wanderers in this manner. They are only seen wearing a black-and-white suit. The Triangle is incredibly intelligent and capable of fluidly speaking, reading, and writing in any language. Their voice has been described as "robotic" and "androgynous".

The Triangle is the player behind the Kingdom of Triangle, also known as the Triangle Kingdom. The Triangle Kingdom is by far the largest and most powerful kingdom in Level 157, and is ever-present in the form of isolated offshoots in all known locations in Level 157. Wanderers who enter Level 157 are only permitted to leave once they win a chess game against the Triangle Kingdom, upon which the Triangle will immediately manifest, personally greeting and congratulating the victor. The Triangle will then give the wanderer a unique black book with the symbol of a pawn on its cover. The book contains a leather seal that keeps the book closed until it is opened intentionally. Upon opening the book, wanderers will immediately be transported back to Level 157. Then, the Triangle will transport wanderers back into the level from which they initially came from, usually a habitable one.

It seems as if the Triangle is near-omniscient and in full control of Level 157. Not only do they have the ability to manipulate objects and reality at will, but they also can teleport freely to any location. It appears that the Triangle is the original creator of the Pieces and the game of Level 157. Their motives remain unknown, but they seem to take great joy in seeing wanderers choose to return to Level 157 after completing their initial challenge.


Exits/Entrances


Level 157 can most commonly be entered from Level 5, Level 13, and Level 86. The method to enter Level 157 remains the same for all three levels. Finding a room with two chairs, a table between them, and a wooden chess board and touching the chess board will transport wanderers to Level 157. Once a wanderer has initially completed the challenge, they can enter at will via opening the Triangle's black book.

Level 157 can only be exited once the initial challenge is completed or failed. If a wanderer enters Level 157 after completing the challenge, they can also exit at will by also opening the black book. Wanderers who fail the challenge will be immediately transported out. Upon exiting Level 157, wanderers will be returned to the level that they departed from in the same location they were in when they left.


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