"Labyrinth that appears during the Dark Hour, brimming with Shadows. Perhaps some answer lies deep inside..."
Tartarus (タルタロス, Tarutarosu)? is a part of the Thanatos Tower in Megami Ibunroku Persona and a massive tower that mysteriously appears each night at Gekkoukan High School during the Dark Hour in Persona 3.
In Persona 3, SEES is formed in an attempt to discover the true nature of the tower and defeat the Shadows. This location is the only place where the player can fight Shadows, except when they appear in outside locations during a Full Moon Operation.
Because it "grows" out of the ground every night, the layout of the tower is assembled randomly, except for certain key floors that never change. The tower consists of 6 blocks divided into subsections, at the end of which there are Arcana Guardians blocking the path to the next subsection. The aforementioned subsection divisions also have controllable teleport terminals that allows one to access the lobby and other previously unlocked subsection terminals in an instant unlike the one-way teleport devices found in random floors.
The stairs that connect to the next block will be totally inaccessible until the corresponding Major Shadow is defeated during each full moon phase, making it impossible to reach the top in one attempt.
There are 264 floors in total, including the roof and excluding the optional Monad Depths underground dungeon which consists of 10 floors.
According to the ancient Greek poet Hesiod's Theogony,is both the name of the third primordial deity that represents deep darkness, as well as a location described as being far below the earth. It is a deep abyss - even far below Hades - where divine beings that pose a threat to the gods of Olympus (ie. the Titans) were imprisoned. It further served as a dungeon of torment for mortal souls, as divine punishment for their wicked deeds in life.
- Megami Ibunroku Persona / Persona
- Persona 3 / FES / Portable
- Persona 4 Arena Ultimax
- Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth
- Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth
Megami Ibunroku PersonaEdit
Tartarus is a small part of the bigger dungeon Tower of Thanatos in the Snow Queen Quest. There, it is required to access Tartarus, which is in the floor 2F of the tower, to gain back the Persona that was taken away from the protagonist or Yukino Mayuzumi depending on a certain choice at the entrance of the Tower of Thanatos. The Personas can also be taken from whichever character if he or she is KO'd in battle, meaning that since the character in question lacks his/her Persona they are weaker and thus easier to be KO'd since the Persona stats, obviously, are absent. The Personas will take shape of their user until they return to them.
Though little information is there to start with, the senior members of SEES identifies Tartarus as a nest for Shadows. Akihiko even goes as far as to consider it a "training ground" of sorts.
The first exploration of Tartarus by SEES is a simple test run, where the newer members were given light briefing and real-time battle advice by Mitsuru, the only member able to perform outside support. With Ikutsuki's blessing, SEES ventures further up the tower with the protagonist as the exploration leader, retaining the position even after Akihiko fully recovers. As SEES progresses to higher levels, Mitsuru's ability to support the party slowly starts to wane. The rescue of Fuuka Yamagishi later on was a significant boon, since she had better range for support given that her Persona can sense shadow types and movements even without the help of special electronic devices. With Fuuka taking over the support role, Mitsuru returns to the front line of the exploration movement.
Exploring Tartarus is imperative and must be performed regularly in order for SEES to become strong enough to defeat the powerful shadows that appear during Full Moon Operations.
Though the schedule and frequency of exploration is generally decided by the protagonist, overdoing it will cause him or the other members to become sick or tired, and in turn under-perform. Additionally, access to Tartarus is barred during certain major events, academic or otherwise (either through natural phenomena, the protagonist's own monitoring or supervision by his seniors) and some members might be unavailable to participate with the exploration due to various reasons. After each successful Full Moon Operation, the seal for the current highest level will weaken and allow access to new floors or the next block, although they cannot be explored immediately due to fatigue.
It is later revealed that Tartarus, which was also known as the "Tower Of Demise," serves as an edifice to summon Nyx once all twelve shadows were subdued and reunited as Death. Ikutsuki manipulated the SEES members to do so, as he also shared the destructive sentiments of the former head of the Kirijo Group.
Death manifests itself as Ryoji Mochizuki, who enrolls at Gekkoukan High School as a transfer student. His memories were still not clear even after fully developing, but a fateful encounter with Aigis at the Moonlight Bridge made him remember that he was the Death shadow developed by the Kirijo Group ten years ago to serve as the Appriser that would summon the maternal being Nyx and bring about The Fall. However, During the time he spent sealed inside the protagonist's body, his outlook has greatly changed, and while he knows fully well that Nyx cannot be defeated, he nonetheless presents SEES with two choices: To kill him and delay the advent of the Fall, or to let him live and confront Nyx. If Ryoji dies, the memories of the SEES members will be erased, and they would go about their daily lives like nothing ever happened, blissfully unaware of when the Fall will occur. If Ryoji is allowed to live, his purpose as Nyx's Appriser will be fulfilled and the SEES members will be forced to fight a battle where the chances of victory are close to nil.
If the protagonist opts not to kill Ryoji, the SEES members all agree to face the impossible odds, and will come to be known as the Nyx Annihilation Team. Their bond grows stronger the closer they get to the true peak of Tartarus, awaiting the promised day when Nyx would descend. Ryoji would meet them at the top when the time comes, having fully manifested his form as the Nyx Avatar. Even if the Nyx Annihilation Team succeeds in defeating all of his Arcana forms, he merely shrugs, lamenting that the righteous will of a few is not sufficient enough to quell the nihilism inherent in the majority of human hearts.
Nyx would soon appear, and her imposing presence would render everyone paralyzed. The protagonist will be summoned to the Velvet Room, where Igor tells him that the bonds he has formed might make a difference towards a being considered impossible to defeat. The Universe Arcana is forged from the combined feelings of friendship and love, giving the protagonist the means to change the fate of the world. With the power of his bonds encapsulated in the card and the spiritual support of the Nyx Annihilation Team, the protagonist fights the sorrow, depression, and apathy of humankind, and uses the Great Seal to finally imprison Nyx.
With Nyx gone, the Dark Hour disappears, and Tartarus reverts to its original form as the Gekkoukan High School building, never to emerge ever again.
In the Persona 3 epilogue, The Answer, it is revealed that the creation of Tartarus also made a dimensional cove below Port Island, known as the Abyss of Time. The Abyss of Time extended itself underneath the Iwatodai dorm, attracted by the grief and depression of the SEES members after the protagonist passed away in his sleep.
The site of Tartarus was originally that of a research facility on Port Island owned and sponsored by the Kirijo Group. Their main focus was performing experiments to harness the power of shadows after learning of their existence from analyzing the Plume of Dusk that had come into the possession of Kouetsu Kirijo. It was soon discovered that shadows can be used to influence time and space, so the research eventually leaned toward creating a time manipulation device. The discovery of The Fall, or the end of the world, was to be the ultimate result of their efforts. Following their employer's nihilistic wishes, the scientists worked on developing the Death Arcana shadow to serve as the harbinger of the phenomenon, believing that it was for the good of mankind.
However, the Fall was thwarted by Eiichiro Takeba, one of the senior researchers who opposed the move. While Death was in an incomplete state, he interrupted the experiment and dispersed Death into twelve parts before they could consume each other. The fragmented shadows went berserk, destroying the lab and everyone within it. This soon brought about a series of time-rending events: Tartarus was formed, and in turn brought about the advent of the Dark Hour.
Chaos reigns on the surrounding areas as blood pools form on the surface mirroring the color of nearby bodies of water, many people turn into coffins, and all electrical devices grind to a sudden halt. One of the incomplete manifestations of Death would later escape from the ruins of the lab, pursued by an Anti-Shadow Weapon created by the Kirijo Group. Unable to defeat the shadow, the weapon seals it inside the mind of a young child who was the only survivor of a car crash on the Moonlight Bridge.
To cover up the incident, the Kirijo Group rebuilds the ruined facility into Gekkoukan High School. Though mainly imprisoned during the normal time frame, shadows can still escape during the Dark Hour whenever Tartarus reforms, preying on human minds who are unprotected by coffin seals. The affliction in which the human victims of shadows can no longer talk, think or feel was identified by the media as Apathy Syndrome; Insiders of the Kirijo Group tag them as "The Lost."
Now led by Takeharu Kirijo, the group worked clandestinely during the phenomenon to find out how it can be stopped. They eventually discovered that people who can summon a Persona are the only ones who can effectively fight against the shadows. At the time however, Takeharu's young daughter Mitsuru was the only one known to possess this ability and they were hard-pressed to get other people with the same rare potential.
Years later, a researcher named Shuji Ikutsuki was given the task of seeking out and gathering youths who can summon a Persona. Unfortunately, the search proved fruitless. Because of this, he secretly began conducting experiments geared towards creating artificial Persona-users in the hope that Tartarus may be formally explored. Out of the thousands of youths abducted and summarily subjected to it, only three survived. However, they were mentally unstable and required constant doses of suppressants to keep their artificially-summoned Personas from killing them. Whether or not they were used in an exploration mission is unknown, but the three youths eventually escaped from Ikutsuki's control.
Now in high school, Mitsuru took it upon herself to help in the search for those with potential, and was able to recruit Akihiko Sanada and Shinjiro Aragaki. The Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad (SEES) came into being as a result. Ikutsuki was put in the Gekkoukan School Board and designated as the chairman and adviser of the group, officially listing it as a school club. A school-owned dormitory in Iwatodai became the SEES home base, outfitted with special equipment that can remain functional even within the Dark Hour.
However, during an encounter with a wayward shadow in the back alley of Port Island, Shinjiro lost control of his Persona and a civilian casualty was incurred. He left the group ridden with guilt, resolving never to use his power again. SEES would become inactive until Yukari Takeba comes along, led to Port Island by a letter she got from her late father. She reluctantly joins the group when it was found that she also had the potential, but the exploration of Tartarus would not formally start until the protagonist and Junpei Iori were added to the ranks. Possessing the unique ability to summon multiple Personas, the former is temporarily designated as the leader while Mitsuru handles outside support and Akihiko recuperates from recent injuries sustained from the first major shadow attack.
Tartarus is divided into multiple "blocks," each of which has its own unique architecture. With the exception of Monad, the name of each block is taken from the seven worlds of the Quabalah.
- Thebel Block: Floors 2-16
- Arqa Block: Floors 17-64
- Yabbashah Block: Floors 65-114
- Tziah Block: Floors 115-164
- Harabah Block: Floors 165-214
- Adamah Block: Floors 215-263
- Monad Depths: Optional Block which consists of 10 floors.
Because of Tartarus' unpredictable nature, it is not only the structure that changes shape with each expedition. Sometimes, random anomalies occur that can be either beneficial or detrimental to the party.
- Party members will emerge in separate locations after climbing a floor.
- No shadows are present within the floor. The amount of obtainable items might increase, but the time for The Reaper to appear will also decrease.
- There are a lot of Shadows present within the floor area. The kinds of shadows differ depending on the situation:
- All kinds of shadows may appear, and in greater numbers. Experience gain will increase, but the time for The Reaper to appear will also decrease.
- Glowing red shadows only. Experience gain will increase, but the time for The Reaper to appear will also decrease. In P3P, this change is specified and all useful Shuffle Time Cards such as an experience bonus will be cursed.
- Rare Shadows only. The time for The Reaper to appear will decrease. This change is specified in P3P, and will also include cursed Shuffle Time Cards.
- Experience gain will increase within the floor. (Portable only)
- Enemy item drops will increase within the floor. (Portable only)
- The floor will become dark, and auto-map assistance is temporarily disabled. (Portable only)
- The floor is not as hard to scan, and will instantly be fully mapped by Mitsuru/Fuuka. (Portable only)
Persona 4 Arena UltimaxEdit
The entrance of Tartarus appears as one of the new stages in the sequel to Persona 4 Arena. Instead of appearing in Port Island like before, it's now appearing in Inaba.
- A page of a researcher's document can be found at certain floors near sealed stairways. These are actually journal excerpts of a scientist who survived the lab's destruction and now runs an antique store in Paulownia Mall. Some of Elizabeth/Theo's requests involve obtaining these documents before a set deadline.
- In FES and P3P, the background music in Tartarus can be altered when Fuuka Yamagishi takes over outside support. The options consist of remixed tracks from past Persona games.
- Tartarus must be entered at least once for the first 10 days since it is introduced. If the player doesn't, Mitsuru will scold them for slacking off and force them in for that day.
- In P3P, Elizabeth/Theo will ask the protagonist to rescue people trapped in Tartarus. Rewards can be gained from accomplishing these missions courtesy of Officer Kurosawa at the Police Box in Paulownia Mall. In some instances, non-party Social Links will find themselves trapped in Tartarus. They will succumb to Apathy Syndrome if not rescued in time and the status of the S.Link will be permanently reversed for the rest of the game.