Ramon’s Guide to Realms of Order vs. Anarchy

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“Law and Chaos, two diametrically opposed sides, no one will refute this.  However, what oddities and secrets do they hold?  Why, I’m happy to show you.  While I have covered a little on Pandemonium and Acheron, it’s only fair to look at the other mostly-neutral planes of Law and Chaos… plus a few looks at other related realms, and a few returns to some less than savory burgs and blights.  But, all in the name of granting knowledge to you, fair scholar!” – An introductory speech for Ramon’s Lecture on Planes of Law and Chaos, at the Civic Festhall, in the Clerk’s Ward of Sigil

Planes of Law, rules taken physical form!  While Acheron has shown the order of war at its most harsh, there is far more to explore within the possibilities of Law.  One must account for concepts of atruism, unity, conformity and direction.  While these topics can overlap between planes; they all have their respective places.  Likewise, their inevitable counterpart is the eternal testament to disorder.  The Planes of Chaos are a lack of rules turned physical.  Chaos need not be just madness, like Pandemonium.  Plenty of free thinkers are driven by many other passions.  These don’t have to be completely selfish either.  Some people just want a good time, consequences be damned!  Others just want free reigns to express themselves, judgements be damned.  So, as these two forces butt heads, let’s take a deeper look at some overviews as well as some of my own dug up finds.  Join me as I return to the planes once again!

Author’s Note: More Planes!  This time Law vs. Chaos.  This was a fun chance to revisit my fey post from last Summer!  (Shout out to Brynvalk for partially inspiring this brief revival!) Also, yes, Augmental probably won’t see use in MOST sane campaigns, considering it’s supposed to be a blend of Phyrexia, Hellraiser and H.R. Giger art in a blender.  Though, I can hope some more tongue-in-cheek segments make up for my usual delves into grimdark.

 

 

Arcadia, the Perfect Order

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So, they call it the Plane of the Greater Good.  What is that exactly?  Well, several forces upon this plane could tell you different stories.  That isn’t say that it probably doesn’t exist to some capacity, all things do.  But, what do I know of “the greater good”?  Well, I’m not sure.  And for a plane so driven by Law, I’m not sure it does either.  But, let me stop mocking this place, lest I incur its wrath.  But, if I was truly chaotic, I would have been smitten just for lingering around here too long.

What really describes this plane?  The ideal of perfection!  Rows of perfect plants, an abundance of resources, a precise schedule allows things to operate as they were meant to, gatherings of people happen on a consistent schedule to experience organized leisure for a fair amount of time.  Even the paths and rivers run in straight lines!  Nature is perfected to civilized standards.  However, this desire for perfection has proved costly to the plane at large.  The Harmonium already get picked on a lot by me, but this historical fact is all the more worth bringing up.  There was a third layer to Arcadia, but the strict methods and extreme law of the Hardheads caused it to drop off right into Arcadia.  Quite ironic for a plane of perfection, no?  Despite this loss occurring, the two remaining layers became further built up to further create a case for their image.  After all, image is everything to some and that extends to all planes really.

Curiously, both layers of Arcadia look almost identical, even the lost third layer looked like it was produced under the same strict procedure, if sources are to be trusted.  They are essentially two sides of the same coin, two sides of law.  The first layer, Abellio, is law for the greater good… the mantra that is oft repeated here.  Here resides such sights like Mount Clangeddin, home to a self-policing dwarves, ready for defense and battle.  Ironically, they don’t see much conflict, since little comes to this plane.  However, should your cause be righteous enough, their services can be hired.  The second layer, Buxenus, is the harsher side of law, when it needs to be enacted in such a way.  As one would expect, the Harmonium reside here.  Granted, they probably had to after losing that third layer.  And with that, I promise no more mockery of them.  They are quite sensitive, you know.

What of other tributes to law and order?  The society of duty, while not a faction, could be considered one.  The Hall of Honor is a place of “Super Heroics”, a term used for people who fight crime on honorable and justice grounds to enforce law and keep peace.  The denizens adopt personas based on various beliefs in law, often exhibiting flamboyant garb that best describes these views.  For a place considerably conservative and reserved, this is quite the change of pace.  Within Buxenus, a rival to the Hardheads has emerged, if only to preserve that layer from dropping off into Mechanus as well.  The Fraternity of Joyous Devotion is a non-denominational order of paladins dedicated to keeping the spirit of order alive in goodness.  Originally, they were part of a greater order that aspired to form upon Mt. Celestia.  However, their dedication to maintaining order trumped their desire to bring good for all; thus “the greater good” became their adoptive mindset.  However, the Joyous Devotion is considerably more oriented towards goodness than the Harmonium is.  Often, the two sides may be locked in fierce debate on handling various matters in the planes.  These arguments are never hostile and often end in one side conceding to a point.  However, their presence is much appreciated on the plane regardless.  Only a few hardheads genuinely resent or hate them.

Now, does this mean that all creatures of this realm are stiff, driven by some mightier altruism or call to enforcement?  Not exactly.  The Studio of the Perfect Square is one exception.  Initially just permitted on Abellio, Precision, Daughter of Prespos, is a quirky resident.  An artist at her core, she is driven by the perfection and direction of Arcadia.  To her, it’s the ultimate inspiration for the ultimate in perfecting arts.  As one would imagine, her gallery is one of empowering pieces whose aesthetics come from a certain cleanness and completeness.  Personally, something about these works feels too sanitized, as if a calculating machine produced them.  They lack the flaws of a prime experience, but this is still appealing to many.  However, her story isn’t always one of joy.  A planewalker like her father, she sought all there was to be known about the planes beyond.  She almost met her end in Pandemonium, at the invitation of a particularly barmy bard in search of artsy victims.  Ultimately, she escaped with her mind in tact.  Perhaps Arcadia was a means to rehabilitation and spiritual completeness… especially after such a harrowing encounter.  Plus, her conversations on matters, while a bit dry, were quite enlightening in their own regard.  She likes to talk though, a human encyclopedia that could educate you on matters.  But, I must document plenty of matters for myself.  That said, she did clue me into a fascinating little dive in Limbo!

 

 

Limbo, the Amorphous Chaos

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Limbo can only be stated as enjoyable for powerful minds who have an incredible sense of creativity to you.  This is Chaos in its rawest form; not some symbol for liberty, symbol for mania, recklessness, savagery, whatever.  This is the plane of free-form thought and basic essences unbridled.  Its absolute lack of law and reason gives the Elemental realm of Primordium a run for its strangeness.  To survive the spacial randomness, one needs strong wits balanced against an inventive spirit.  Alternatively, be part of a Githzerai monastery, that should keep you safe.  But, beyond that?  Everything acts as an unstable proto-form that’s malleable against anything.  And at any moment, a surface you find could magically crumble.  So, one moment you can immortalize a caricature of your most loathed foe, and another has you falling into the void because the ground turned into porridge.  But, that fits the plane itself.  Is it Soup or Superstition?  The answer to that would probably something nonsensical.

More unpredictable than the plane itself is its natives, the Slaad.  These toad-shaped bean monsters are chaos incarnate.  If they were their own entities, own could have called them chaos elementals.  Thankfully, this is not the case.  But, do so if you seek animosity from both the Limbo natives and the mislabeled Primordiumites.  That said, Chaos Elementals are very much their own thing.  I pray I never run into one.  Now, Slaads!  Let’s talk a little of those.  These creatures often act on seemingly random impulses without a deeper calculation.  To the Clueless, they are either stupid or irrational.  However, they are quite far from either, simply too alien to process, much like the Modron are.  They exist in various forms of colors, each with their own often horrific means of breeding.  Some, such as the Blue Slaad, mutate hapless victims into Red Slaad.  However, Red Slaad can implant a tadpole that bursts into a Blue Slaad in time.  This only accounts for two kinds of them.  And even then, their own “rules” can be broken.  Try not to make too much sense of it.

On the subject of no sense, happenings within this plane are at random.  At one moment, you can find yourself on icy shelves that whirl around a nothingness, on another you’re simply hurling through chaos space as sharp needles bombard you from all sides.  Without a well trained mind, this unrefined primordial soup is extremely dangerous and acts on its own.  But, with proper focus and intellect, your chances of enduring are much greater… at least, they are for a time.  In fact, some long terms sites and settlements have cropped up within this energy soup.  Be sure to pack a breathing spell, it helps with Limbo matter too!

The Delicacy Infinitum is an establishment that caters to the daring, as a mixture of outside imports and Limbo-craft result in equally daring and impossible dishes.  Controlled by a powerful psion with a flair for the surreal, Arlo D’Strange, a Mutant Human from the planet Terra.  Adorned with a decorative (if tight) suit of his homeland, the owner fancies himself as a fine gentleman.  Despite his visible third eye and the skin texture of sandpaper, he otherwise physically resembles a human.  The building is built on multiple clashing and overlapping dimensions more than capable of madness for the ill-prepared.  And the dishes themselves?  Their flavors defy much explanation, but often hit multiple descriptors of taste, including some that only exist on various planes.  Nothing on the menu is within the realms of the mundane, as the same could be said for decor and seating situations.  I was lucky to have a floating box that kept bucking up and down slightly, rather disturbing.  Plus, having a dish that was sweet, spicy and “cosmic” at the same time was quite the experience.  It had the texture of soup, delivered a mental experience of overcoming an arduous journey and had an after sensation of consuming a flaky stuffed pastry alongside a fine wine.  Dare I say, the best meal I have ever had.  As one would expect, this establishment caters to the most wealthy of planewalkers.  Some criticize this attempt to capitalize the powers of this plane as decadent and foolish, I think its simply marvelous.  After all, several food critics of Sigil grant it highest acclaim!  Even the staff seem content with this microcosm of odd, when they aren’t busy meditating in some underground psychic chamber.  Gotta upkeep this place somehow, I suppose.  But it begs the question, when Arlo is in the dining area and staff is busy preparing and serving, who is maintaining this place?  Maybe I shouldn’t stay to find out.

Onto better things, I present The Free Project of Al’Yept-Mmie, a name I can’t properly pronounce.  This commune of pacifist anarchists was built by a collaborate of lucky Athasians who managed to pierce the reality veil and planewalkers, many of which grew tired of Sigil.  The commune’s aesthetics and general principles tend to be a reflection of both of these collided realities, figuratively and literally.  Cager studies blend with the Psionics Schools of the World under a Red Sun, Principles of survival against impossible odds join the streetwise of The Hive Ward.  All in all, these people are a hardy group, many interbreeding between the two groups of ethnic mixes.  While they don’t keep their enclave a secret, knowledge of it is still barely spread.  But to those who do make it, they offer free courses on expanding the mind through psychic power.  For more offensive techniques though, students are asked to safely practice outside of the commune.  On that point, to their mild dismay, their powerful belief has left an impact on visitors.  Save for the most powerful beings immune to charms, all creatures become docile and indifferent to law while within the commune.  As to why the residents are unnerved by this?  They feel this change is forced, as if propelled by law rather than granted through chaos.  All the same, it aligns with their own views, so they don’t openly grumble.  Likewise, while there is a point where the commune ends and Limbo takes over, they don’t truly believe in borders.  Visitors can come and go as they please.  Likewise, the same goes for residents.  T’lc-T’lc Zrk, a Thri-Kreen scholar, attests that life here is an idyllic break from the pains of their own respective origin lands, a project that has proved successful so far.

Arlo isn’t the only Terran curiosity to be found in Limbo.  The Union of Egoists is one of the puzzling though.  Sitting on a decently sized orb is a series of linked buildings, all with outlandish angles and jagged designs that would make a Dabus shocked.  All orbit around a rock-like formation that appears to look like a brain of sorts.  This would imply some level of academia, but it goes a little deeper than that.  Inside is a center of philosophy based on Egoism.  Many of these “egoists” aren’t exactly friendly and are critical of your “spooked” perspectives; ideas which they think are “specters built by society”.  Thoroughly confusing and even individually baffling, one wonders how they even work together, as they too will decry various ideas brought up as these “constructions of the mind” and “fictitious hauntings”.  While they embolden the power of their own egos, their own wills; they also posture their own to an extent too.  While this burg feels very true to Limbo itself, I have quickly found it frustrating to dwell in.  For the record, much of the own research holds true and is bound in fact.  Spooked?  Such nerve!  It begs the question, are there genuine ghosts there?  Perhaps the creator of their philosophy dwells there, wouldn’t that be an irony?  Once again, I do not care to find out.

The fearsome Death Slaad are the ultimate corruption of Slaadi existence.  Even their own kind greatly fear them, and for good reason, as they have been bonded with an essence of evil.  However, a balance to this, in true Slaad fashion, was created by accident.  This was done by an ancient slaad stolen away to the Prime by powerful mages in an attempt to conquer a priestly abbey of great importance.  Their attempts failed and the priests, baffled by this creature, did what they could to repel it.  Their divine prayers and arts accidentally fused with the entity, turning it into the antithesis of the Death Slaad, the Life Slaad.  These abominations touched by good continued to manifest on Limbo, often finding ways to isolate from the rest of their kind.  For what it’s worth, they are better off than “corrupted Slaad” that turn Neutral or Lawful.  A Life Slaad layer is still just as dangerous as the rest of the plane, but precautions are often made to protect the Slaad rather than attack anything at random.  Also, their reproduction comes from a target “accepting” their gift.  However, the Slaad way with words makes them deceptive and manipulative.  Only one has been known to directly interact with others, a “Reformed Slaadi” Priest of the Cosmos by the name Tumult-of-Blessings.  Their layer carries a hint of the divine, as if the supernatural chaos essence carries some blessing of some distant deity.  Sometimes though, Tumult-of-Blessings will request assimilation in exchange for their prayers.  It is said that inter-planar portals allow access to the Upper Planes within these spaces, as well as an vortex into the Positive Energy Plane.  So, should one evade a Life Slaad’s defenses, there is a potential opportunity for escape.  But, given how Slaad and Limbo typically operate?  Maybe not.

Personally, I wasn’t about to find too much about the Life Slaad’s own habits.  Rather, blowing much in time at one of many Githzerai monasteries was a better alternative.  If I had more money, Delicacy Infinitum would have been preferable…  One day, I shall reunite with such unfathomable cooking bliss!

 

 

Mechanus, the Clockwork Nirvana

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If you want order truly perfected, look no further.  Opposite to Limbo, this is as regimented and organized as you can get.  Things literally operate in clockwork.  The whole plane is a machine of sorts!  Everything is broken down by numbers and orders, in complex formulas and equations.  And best of all, the plane is governed over by walking shapes!  Yes, the curious and quirky Modrons.  These creatures are devoid of emotion or almost anything outside of their greater purpose to the order of Primus.  They speak as a unified entity, but given their operations, it only makes sense.  Speaking of places where everything must make sense, let us observe more of Mechanus, shall we?

Consistency, structure, operation.  Essentially, how Mechanus works.  Hmm, that made more sense in my head.  As evident, I am neither a native nor a petitioner of this plane.  But, it doesn’t take a local regular to observe the spinning gears and constant rotations that move the plane around.  If Arcadia runs on a timed clock, Mechanus is the timed clock.  So, how does Mechanus embody all that is lawful and orderly?  It is unquestioning obedience to order, regardless if it would serve good or bad.  It is meticulous detail within a larger, unified collective.  It is all things broken down in complex mathematics and logical equations.  Many of the cogs themselves hold their own small realities of order, each turning while obeying law as they best see fit.  However, some cogs contend with quite the conflict.  For example, Nemausus, the former layer of Arcadia, has many who seek to bring it back to a more Good-plane.  Naturally, the Modrons resist this, as they see it as a rightful addition to Mechanus.  And in the middle of this are the Hardheads that I pick on so much with these notes.  Surely, an edited version will audit most of this.  I may be no stranger to conflict on the planes, but bringing it into the Cage is probably irresponsible.

One cog is home to an ancient construct from some long lost civilization.  In fact, the construct intentionally erased knowledge and traces of it.  What information it does relinquish is that this massive city of an entity is built for commerce.  The name of this being, and the cog land by proxy, is “Counter”.  In particular, it can just the proper value of any currency in the multiverse.  Even more so, it can properly equate and convert a currency in real time.  However, it will only do so if the money pulled from another point can be done so legally.  How Counter can manage to get this accomplished?  There are several theories, but Counter brings all focus back to their namesake of counting, as well as converting.  Should one approach Counter without any intent on conducting business, they will receive a warning and five seconds to turn away.  Failure to do so or any negative reaction will result in the construct teleporting them off the gear.  This can result in falling onto another gear or plummeting to their demise.  Regardless of what happens, Counter cares about a few things and adheres to these standards and rules.  If other topics are brought up or attempts at conversation are made, they will simply cease activity and wait for the traveler to return to talking money.  However, Counter will not wait on tangents for more than five minutes, in which an ultimatum is delivered to return to business or leave.  Despite this single track mind, Counter is very intelligent… at least in the one subject that is obsessed over.  For what it’s worth, I’m done with this one.  And should you not care about counting coins or trading coins, please avoid this one.  You’ll either be flung off the edge or terribly bored.

For those familiar with the tale of Ancient Blackmoor and the F.S.S. Beagle, the story ends with the Great Rain of Fire.  However, there is a branch in this tale that forks off.  Many of crew from the alien starship sought to leave, seeing as their original mission was long compromised.  Their attempts to utilize arcana were flawed, but firm.  Ultimately, several mutinous crews attempted an experiment in planar dimensions.  A temporary gate was established to a realm of prestige clockwork order.  Now, you may ask, how can that be?  And a good question!  After all most of the crew were killed while in suspended animation.  Recall how Returned Blackmoor came to be through temporal alterations?  The same happened here, ultimately granting many of those crew a second chance within Mechanus.  The Colony of New Beagle Republic has endured for long enough to establish themselves in some capacity.  To keep in line with Mechanus, their olden codes and prime directives are enforced and maintained harshly.  While plenty of outsiders are capable of visiting them, they’ll only attempt to interact with or do commerce with civilizations deemed advanced.  Otherwise, they’ll rebuke them by any means necessary.  Fortunately for them, the former is far more common.  A far jump from their original missions of exploration and diplomacy, it remains an accidental extension of their great Galactic Federation…. wherever it may be.

While it is no hidden secret, one bit of shame that befalls Mechanus isn’t too dissimilar to corrupted Slaad, rogue Modrons!  You see, the modron are all part of a bigger circle.  When one splits off into its own much smaller circle, it subverts the central focus and purpose of the modron.  To them, this is unacceptable.  My own experience with Rogue Modrons is limited, as surveillance troops have been through Sigil in search of “defective pieces”.  …  But, what makes a Modron go rogue?  Some theorize that even Modrons experience stress and wear, like any machine.  When tested too far, they break down.  The Great Modron March is certainly such a case, a fabled event when they traverse the planes to catalogue all that would subvert their order.  From there, the plan is often to purge these undesirable elements.  As one would expect, many of Primus’ chosen snap.  Lesser extents come from experiments done in the name of understanding either Order through a deeper extent or just reality as a whole.  A research team of Modron attempted to comprehend dungeons, by making a versatile labyrinth in the plane of Limbo.  This went as well as you would expect.  A particularly karmic example involved gathering and replicating Creation Forges found upon Khorvaire and beyond.  Considering Khorvaire is detached by the dimensional fabric, an impressive feat!  Ultimately, these modron became more interested in creating an army over aiding Mechanus, dragging them into Acheron as nothing more than fallen war machines.  For another, a tethered demiplane between Pandemonium and Arcadia attempted to understand the role of music within reality.  The end result was a trio of rather well dressed rogue modron bards who fled from the project, in search of acceptance through music.  I believe they went by Brain, Hare and Null.  Lovely bunch, really!  I saw them in Sigil!  But, I digress…  Perhaps the example I hesitate to bring up is a dominion I’ve barely touched upon, Augmental.  Not even the Powers could fix whoever got stuck there, if they still live.

But, enough dwelling on that place for now.  In fact, talking about it within Mechanus is a big no-no, but more on that later.  My tour of the plane mostly amounted to spinning on the cogs in awe, while observing powers of order far beyond me.  I can assume anxiously shuffling around counts as “proper” behavior?

 

 

Ysgard, The Heroic Campaigns

If Acheron is war made depersonalized and horrific; this is conflict in the name of glory, honor and heroism.  The clash happy leatherheads smash against each other in the name of either sportsmanship or righteous pursuit.  And when one would pop over dead, they usually come back somewhere else.  There’s an almost jolly merriment for the reckless behavior, as if it’s all one big party for the smash happy locals.  To an extent, this is the ideal plane for the adventuring party.  To the outsider looking inward, the process could be seen as either horrifying or potentially fun.  I’ve never been the sort for too much violence, personally.  Surely, I shouldn’t stay long.

Ysgard is made of its earthbergs filled with their own mini realities of sorts.  Earthquakes are pretty common from the clashes, but many don’t seem to mind too much here.  Think of it like the “fun” version of cubes from Acheron.  And after a long day, petitioner and slain hero alike can find themselves in Valhalla.  With the right permissions, it might be possible for worthy adventurers to meet with the pantheon too.  But, most come here to drink, party and fight with little consequence… under the assumption that all of this is done without malice.  In fact, all welcomed guests find themselves completely fine the next day.  Some forget their day’s worth of lighthearted sacking and smacking, while others share their tales of glory for all to hear.  Beyond some barmy petitioners, you’re bound to bump into the native mortals, the Bariaur here.  Plenty of Eladrin looking to blow off some steam aren’t above dropping by either, they’ll even tell you a little good-natured rough housing can be quite helpful for the soul.

The flying city of The Twin Brothers is a curiosity on the first layer of Ysgard.  This glorified tourist attraction is filled with alehouses, arenas and other places built for a good time.  Among the most famous is the “Brother Versus Brother”, a tavern surrounding a circled coliseum where audiences can cheer combatants onward to glory.  This establishment is not only the centerpiece of the city, it’s the literal core of it, from hence everything was built around.  Those more interested in indulging themselves with a little more structure than normal find themselves wandering into the city.  While the services are far from as enticing as the Nordic pantheon and the battlefields aren’t as fresh as the rest of the plane itself, its atmosphere is more than appealing to many.  In fact, the first couple of daily customers for their main arena get free choice of battle weapons at no additional charge!

The Crossover Pacts of Ysgard are a fascinating development.  Due to the many mysteries of the planes, there have been several glorified gangs in the lower levels of the plane; all are mixtures of the Fire Giants of Muspelheim and the Dwarves and Gnomes of Nidavellir.  Both sides have made neutrality truces to their respective allies in exchange for helping hands.  Few of these agreements are formal and are more about a beneficial self-interest over long-term friendship.  Though, stranger things have happened.  Usually, the equally readied and prepared gangs thwart each other and force things to start from the beginning.  All in all, this hasn’t really solved anything, save for easing up animosity between the second and third layers of Ysgard.  So in a sense, it accidentally promoted some good.  Plus it opened some fiery forges above as well as some rich minerals below in terms of trade.  The united efforts have also spurred forward fantastic works of battle artifice, creations that armies of Acheron wish they could get their hands on.  Particularly daring adventurers have intentionally dove into these lower layers in hopes of getting their hands on these sweet treasures, whether legitimately or from some stealthy handiwork.  Too much of this, plus the most genuinely selfish of the pacts, may risk those involved being whisked away into another plane.  Some particularly unstable gnomes are attempting to accelerate this, in hopes of living on the plane of Limbo or even Pandemonium instead.

 

Demiplanes and Distant Dimensions

Revisiting The Good Kingdom

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The Coasts of the Red Eyed Cewri

The Coasts of the Red Eyed Cewri are a frightening land of the Good Folk.  While not inherently evil, these giants prove to be quite aggressive and territorial against smaller “lesser” creatures that dare to impede upon the beaches, inland glades and fields they call their own.  Oddly enough, there are no visible homes here.  In truth, they dwell in spacial pockets at various points within their turf.  It’s not uncommon for one of these giants to seemingly materialize out of nowhere, a truly frightful sight!  Often this is because you have trespassed on their domain and your time to explain yourself is limited.  They don’t take kindly to ignorance, wishing all to know their name and fear their lands.  This tide was turned when a hero king from the Prime Material gained further title and glory after slaying a powerful chieftain of these red eyed giants.  Ever since, the tribes that dwell here remain far more pragmatic and careful when contending with enemies on all sides.

For those who truly seek to go to war against these mighty giants, first ask yourself a question… Why?  Not only do they possess a knowledge of pocket dimensions that surpasses brilliant Cagers, but their home turf advantage makes a deadly combatant even worse.  But, what would provoke such a fight?  Once in a while, the tribes get confident in their old abilities and forget about their enemies.  As such, they find themselves raiding a nearby realm, whether out of a want for new supplies or just for randomness.  Given these acts, retaliation is understandable.  But, to prepare, you must know the ways of these tricky giants.  And even then, the fight still won’t be fought fairly.  If you too desire to be a legendary hero king in your own right, it’s your early grave.

Foolish wanderers who seek out these mighty giants often meet their end, not expecting surprise attacks or finding themselves abducted into the giant’s own home space.  As for myself, some superior persuasion as well as several offerings of the “tiny folk” that appealed to various giant fancies allowed me some safe passage, plus a variety of folk tales to share another day.  While these coastal reaches provide many natural wonders, particularly ornate crafts of non giant kind, as well as types of large (to our perspective) plants are quite appealing to the residents of this sylvan expanse.  A mere bug compared to a balled fist, they still treated me with enough respect or at least entertained the thought of dealing with me.  The punching brews of giantfolk, as well as their magnificent tales of wonder filled a magnificent evening… day?  I don’t know, I was out for so long I couldn’t tell you for certain.  However, my sloshing travels did lead me back to a place I didn’t really get to appreciate the first time, and with good reason.

Return to Antorek

Antorek is a notoriously chaotic realm of moving plants and talking beasts, a neutral mirror of the Beastlands. While an environment of almost any type can exist here, few things exist in the ways of civilization.  But, for those that do?  The results are equal parts breathtaking and panic inducing.  Massive buildings are built of living bone, muscle and plant matter.  In fact, the city of Rewyld exhibits this well.  A rib-like archway entry hangs over two bone disc-like sconces holding avian leg-like magical torches.  And in the distance, cottages and castles with similar aesthetics, with plenty of vegetation to balance it out.  I’ll leave the rest of the place to imagination, it’s probably right.  Organic architecture and arcane technology might be unnerving to some, rightfully so.  That said, for a traveler looking to observe the ways of beastly and plant kinds, this is one of the better places to visit.  Quirks of instinct and bestial methods blend with creativity and sentience.  Here exists varieties of arts and cultures incapable of existing elsewhere, despite the planar layer’s own follies.  While I can’t fully appreciate these styles and views, there’s something that keeps me wanting to learn more.  Many of the residents are nice enough, insisting I stay and join them… Right.

I would normally enjoy such a place, complete with ward’s against Antorek’s powerful forces.  But, life isn’t so kind.  A roving pack of bandits eager to “collect” me for glory found me first.  Some magical deer beast stripped my protective spells, as I felt the wyld creep into my very being.  It seems they weren’t alone, as this group of ideological thugs was jumped by another batch of brigands who broke out into street war.  One particularly magical fox bloke seemed to drain the literal life out of that blasted deer through a bite, blood and all!  Marvelous…  Time to faint.  By the time my senses came to, no longer was I in some twisted alleyway made of bone and vines, but a constructed room.  My greeters were plantmen and beastmen, who warned not to panic before showing a mirror.  The yowling cat man looking back at me preferred to disagree!  If I’m lucky, I could always fit in with the Rakasta of Myoshima for the time being.  The ring leader of the rescue party goes by the name of a Rowan T. Jammerson, former outlaw of a primer frontier, a hardy wolf man; alongside Vinessa, a tree woman native to the Good Kingdom.  That fox fellow showed up too!  They and others comprise the “Broken Wylds Coalition”, formerly the Broken Beasts, a group dedicated to aiding the changed and saving those who aren’t too late… which thankfully includes yours truly.  Or at least, I’ll only be stuck like this for a month…  I can find ways to avoid trouble.

Good Kingdom Ruins

The group informs me that Antorek superseded a rather old domain, a remaining piece which they operate out of.  Their base of operations is within a partially buried citadel made of fine earth spirit stone craft.  To dwarven scholars, this place might denote some ancient ancestor, should that not contradict theological lore.  As it turns out, while space is at no premium with the faerie folk, they aren’t above evicting old spaces out for new ones.  From what they have gathered, the leadership was disposed of and its people scattered after a harsh civil war divided these primordial fey between exploring the stars and remaining a kingdom whole.  Ultimately, the deserters prevailed in a destabilizing blow.  Some say they interbred with Dwarven ancestors, creating new clans all their own.  Others say that they became the dwarves, in an ultimate defiance to classical dwarven dogma!  I warn you, traveler.  Do not bring up such “blasphemies” to the Dwarven courts of the planes.  Some will get mad, many will become beyond infuriated.  And for such reasons, they dare not say!

Some ruins of The Good Kingdom range from the subtle and blended to the overt.  Many of the former were likely part of a previous Seasonal Court establishment.  Over time, members of the court either grew tired of a previous dwelling or it sustains too much damage for them to maintain interest.  Thus, it’s either scrapped or incorporated/salvaged into something new.  Plenty of traces of these olden traditional domiciles can be found in these newer buildings, especially if a Court higher up grants you the right tout! Truly, this matches the eclectic styles and methods associated with the fey.  Some even see it as an embracing of tradition with an acceptance of tomorrow.  Another great example is an archival of time within the Autumn Court, The Eternal House of Ever Time.  This chaotic building is a hodgepodge of styles and fashions from countless eons, blending into hap-hazardous harmony.  In its avoidance of an aesthetic, it somehow creates its own.

In the case of the latter, these haunted ruins are literal ghosts of a bygone era.  Maybe not literally, as there is a cosmic debate on whether or not the fair folk actually have souls.  Many believe that they don’t…  No matter!  While the Sidhe and their blood are effectively immortal, plenty of things can fall into the endless void.  Sunderheart Peak is littered with the ruins of Val’Gandrekk’s once mighty future, now just a moral warning about pushing boundaries too far.  The only creature still fully loyal to him is a mad hag overtaken by love and grief.  One of my favorite tales is one of hubris, rather than tragic romance.  One of the sylvan kind had the overconfidence to create a protective realm built from cold iron.  Ultimately, this became the mad chief’s own trap.  Rival forces began to recruit outside forces to sack the land for all it was worth.  Now, a cold and desolate plays filled with cold iron rests in slumber.  It’s a secret guarded well by the fae, lest an outsider make anti-fae weapons within their own realm!  Well, that tour of sylvan history was rather thrilling, but I’m once again human.  Pity, I was starting to get used to licking myself.  Hairballs are rather disgusting though.  And no, I won’t elaborate on the rest of that month.

Regulate, City of Timely Order

Hohenzollern Castle

A stark looking, but efficient looking city on the planes.  Just as its layout is grey, so its its skyline.  If one didn’t see the obvious adherence to law, one would assume this was the Grey Wastes of Hades.  Tethered to Mechanus and Arcadia, the demiplane seeks to be ever vigilant in its adherence to order.  However, in its fundamentalist rigidity, it will ironically never join either desired plane.  No, Regulate is more at home in Acheron or Baator…  Despite the propaganda and shining emblems of prosperity and unity, this city is order through the lens of dystopia.  All one could imagine for a state of radical policing and omnipresent surveillance is present here.  What makes this metropolis rather eerie is that any agenda beyond the surface level for the governance is a mystery.  However, conspiracies and thoughts of conspiracies are strictly illegal.

The order of Regulate always runs on a system, much like the Clockwork Nirvana of Mechanus.  However, this city employs the methods of both ancient empires as well as new “progressive” approaches.  This can be reflected in the brutally efficient architecture styles that build up the powerful looking city.  Large and simple shapes create imposing shadows, as if intimidating buildings themselves stare upon you.  For them, their namesake must come in to ensure a commerce they deem appropriate.  Likewise, they must enforce a zealous pride in their nation state.  However, the Outsider is met with scorch and its own length of unrelenting propaganda.  Through my own luck, my audience with some lower rank state heads gave me the rank of “Neutral”, an honor among any outsider.  However, as an onlooker, I lacked any and all “rights”, something capable of achievement through enough service to the Regulate state.  But, to them the power of the “free mind” means that choosing the “empowering struggle” of their agenda makes them a true citizen, while the opposite rightfully brandishes them as a would be enemy.

On the subject of Acheron, several military forces of the city campaign for conquest and superiority within the plane.  Inevitably, this fails or is undone.  However, this cycle remains eternal, with the city always assembling a new task force to face the impossible.  Likewise, any Baatezu who can “behave” themselves enough is granted access to a no-man’s land to discuss matters of “lawful discourse”.  Often this means leadership finds new ways to be cruel to dissenters.  In the rare chance that they gain the favor of Mechanus, both sides will attempt to discuss law within its role in the planes.  Of course, Regulate differs from the methods of their idol plane.

While a secret in many regards, several of the factions have still caught wind of this fabled city.  For the Harmonium, this place is a land of beauty and the ideal dream.  Many former Harmonium have “retired” to this burg, as an envisioned paradise.  For them, this break from The Cage is a well earned retreat.  From there, they provide aid in politics however they are able.  The Mercykillers find that the punishments for the crimes of the city go above and beyond what is necessary, subverting justice in the name of an indulgent and likely corrupt regime.  However, they will raise no hand against them, as there is a secret admiration for their methods.  Both the Revolutionary League and Xaositects are mortified by this city’s existence, seeing the burg as an abomination.  While the Free League finds it offensive, they have done all to ignore it, should they learn of it.

How this place hasn’t been destroyed from revolution and revolt is a curious tragedy, as an insane amount of overlapping wards and protections have been put in place.  In fact, these factors have been the undoing of many powerful officials.  The moment a flaw or disagreeable factor of their own is exposed is the moment they seemingly vanish from existence.  To be rather blunt, I have my doubts that any world on the prime would want to endure such a truly dreadful place.  Sure, some societies fall to harsh despair, but this one is truly a unique case.  However, it suffers from an irony of stagnation and self-defeat.  The rulers are their own worst enemies.  It begs the question, did I accidentally stumble back into the Demiplane of Dread?  This feels like its own Domain…

 

 

Return to Augmental

YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE

“YOU ARE NOW ENTERING: YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE!”

Another plane of body horror.  Antorek wasn’t enough, it would seem.  With my luck, vivisection by insane constructs is my next fate.  But, let us talk of the lowly Augmental.  Corruption of artifice and technology is no new idea to the planes.  Baatezu craft infernal warmachines, the Tanar’ri cannibalize forge secrets to create mind rending chaos tech, The Machine Cyst unleashes the evils of the Sheens and several other examples.  But, none are as genuinely alien as the tragedy of Augmental.  In all fairness, it is the chaotic counterpart to the Machine Cysts.  Once an experiment of Mechanus, all fell into its lowly state in a short amount of time.  Augmental realized that it was little more than a sick coterie of Modron data gone wrong.  The demiplane rebelled against the disapproving and disappointed Mechanus masters.  A cabal of organo-constructs seized the very energies of machine order, turning them profane with visions of revolution, loathing and desire.  Not only were the minds of these creatures changed, but their bodies were racked with horrors ranging from subtle and uncanny to incomprehensible and perverse.  The bio-mechanical denizens were changed into atrocities, living in eternal misery and fascination.  They live in a state of irony, they seek to be both like the Organic creatures of the material and beyond them.  All the same, their obsession with the Organic gives way to immense hatred and jealousy.

A valley of artificial tumor-like valves and pouches line the entryway of unfortunate travelers.  These artificial pustules and growths upon the land pulsate as if they were both unsightly blemish and industrial machine.  Erratic, jutting piping shoots from these chrome tumors and in all means of directions that at times inhibit travel, as if purposefully blocking outsiders.  In a sense, these function almost like blinding vines that twist around all they can touch.  The sickly juices from these fields are transported to unknown destinations within the dominion.  Some of the most degenerate machine people dwell in these makeshift hilly bumps, acting in random and often destructive demeanor.  For the technologically inclined Xaositect, this sector would be a paradise.  There are few cohesive structures or layouts within the demiplane, mostly just biomechanical mockeries of buildings and creatures.  However, some nightmares still come to mind.

Even in a godless hell, they have still embraced religion, or at least a disgusting rendition of it.  For creatures of artificial origin, they have an obsession with the process of organic creation, something they will never fully achieve.  Blasphemous temples are adorned with perverted imagery of the machines’ understandings of creating spawn.  Active recreations of organs feverishly whir and screech in mind numbing horror to prepare their “creation chambers” for more of their kind being produced. Much has already been said on these rituals, so no more need be.  The acolytes themselves are of a top caste, close to human.  However, their forms are sundered, torn and mutilated in the name of understanding a deeper pleasure.  Disfigured and scarred, these are the supreme clergy of the order.  Their parody of creation isn’t the worst part of this orthodoxy, no…  A dark discovery is much worse, in fact!  A planewalker from beyond the dimensional veil was lured to a horrible end within the unholy halls of the Augmental cathedral.  But, from their victim, they learned of a dreadful oil that would allow them to theoretically rebuild the multiverse.  This would invalidate the need for their creation chambers, as all life becomes a creation chamber.  As for who the basher they took?  Some metallic man called “Sad Rusty”, who claimed to be part of some all metal demiplane overwhelmed by evil oil.  A sad story I’ll have to research into, if only to prevent something potentially apocalyptic.  And no, the wicked ways of these defiled beings don’t end there.

And just as with a fascination with ways of flesh, these machine people seek to understand the organics’ habits of violence.  Another church is forged in dedication to wanton slaughter and unending carnage.  While they hold no connection to the Abyss, their actions here particularly reflect the Tanar’ri.  However, their pursuit of unrestrained violence is out of a quest for knowledge.  To them, this behavior is acceptable, as it mimics the ways of the organics.  The Pyramid of Gore is a ziggurat like installation of calculating machinery slabs, with sinister red lights traveling along jagged paths throughout the installation.  Upon the top altar is a consistent amount of both machine person and organic remains, decorated around this sanctuary in eldritch horror.  It is here where offerings to the idea of violence are brought up in all manner of awful ways.

How or why was I brought back?  Perhaps a spark of madness.  I saw only a brief moment last time.  But, while I catalogue for the sake of understanding all to the planes; they do so as a dark mirror to beings they’ll never understand.  But, to them, they are merely the Organic, taken to the edge!  In some ways, they are right.  But in most ways, they will forever be wrong.  And by their curse, they will exist in squalor, pitiful creatures of ignorance.  To their discredit, they were forged by beings who operated on a narrow view of the multiverse.  From the beginning, Augmental was destined to be a graphic, self-loathing parody.  Either way, I found myself once again fighting with an entire realm in order to pursue my mad quest for knowledge.  So many heinous creatures, such a tragic waste of innovation.  Oh, I forgot to mention that this knowledge is taboo, very taboo!  The denizens of mechanus actively hunt down those who know about this place… at least once they discover that you know.  So, let’s keep this one on the quiet.

 

ecstasy_by_Jeff_Laubenstein

For what it’s worth, those are the only notes I have compiled for now.  Perhaps this could expand into another lecture, such as my orated treatise on the fey.  That was rather fun, more fun than simply publishing a tome of course.  Until next time, may you stay safe upon the planes.

 

 

IMAGE CREDITS: Tony Di’Terlizzi – Planar Cosmology; Leigh Ann Innskeep-Simpson – Symmetrical Garden; Aleksi Briclot – Limbo; Black Isles Studios/Wizards of the Coast – Mechanus Cannon; Lemuren – Valhalla; Stock Photography – Hohenzollern Castle; James Johnson – Kingdoms of Alamur Reckoning Concept; WB Interactive/Midway Games – YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE!; Jeff Laubenstein – Gatetown of Ecstasy

Planescape and various pieces are owned by Wizards of the Coast; assorted artists credited thusly; all other creations, such as Ramon DeLeon, are made and owned by Doctor Necrotic Media.

4 thoughts on “Ramon’s Guide to Realms of Order vs. Anarchy

  1. Pingback: Come where may – Codex Anathema

  2. Pingback: Come where may – Codex Anathema

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