Allow me to recant and give you words of caution. Remember, only take jobs that you can verify first. If you don’t, you might find yourself bound, gagged and stuffed in a warehouse in the Lower Ward… And from there? Well, read on and find out. Take it from a personal experience, at least I got some jink from a Sensate interview out of it. But, if you are more streetwise than I, then you will ahead of whatever challenges and traps lurk behind every corner. And yes, this includes the countless wonders of Sigil, the City of Doors.
Warning bashers and berks isn’t the purpose of this little session for today. No! Rather, I’m picking up where I left off from before. I’ve continued to take notes of all sorts of wonderful places and things in the multiverse. As always, revisiting a few places while finding new ones. So, let us find old friends and seek out new ones. Off I go, to places unknown and places barely known.
Author’s Note: As always, I love adding places to Planescape and beyond. One of my creations was actually a series of notes from years ago. If I found it before, something would have been said on it in the past. But, here’s my cobbled together take on developments on top of The Slags, the most infamous part of The Hive Ward! Joining that is a return to some previous concepts that I failed to really flesh out. And as always, a few other ideas are tossed around. Enjoy! As always, reference nods usually get a tag.
The Combat Ward (or The Combat Zone of The Slags)
An unofficial term for a zone in the Hive Ward that the Harmonium has made an agreement not to interfere in. On their official documentation, it’s listed as a “demilitarized zone”. Even the Doomguard and Revolutionary League are reluctant to stay here for long. A collection of 5 streets, numerous extreme gangs, faction defectors and radicals dwell upon here. Even the gangs of the Alley of Dangerous Angles fear it. While the crux of it is upon The Slags, it made its home beyond there. Like an infection, its terror spread before being quarantined off. First, it had its way by taking bites of the Clerk’s Ward or even New Tyr. While there are fine lines as to where “denizens” can leave, several buildings beyond that stretch are still in dreadful shape. It’s really hard to define where the combat ward ends, given nearby damaged or abandoned buildings. The sad irony is this area started on good intentions. When news of “The Kadyx”, horrific creation of the Tanar’ri, had gone quiet; plenty of idealistic and opportunistic people saw a chance at rebuilding the area. The Dark of the matter is that ol’ Kadyx wanted to try more passive experiments. Tensions quickly rose and episodes of violence broke out. After a while, forces of the law simply gave up beyond keeping it from sprawling too far. Devotees of the Abyssal learned that The Kadyx was pleased by this, but failed to discover the extent of its involvement. In their words though, “it is pleased by the stench of fresh decay.” As matters grew worse, ruffians, miscreants and degenerates flocked to the area, causing it to grow. Eventually, action was taken to try to ward them off as much as possible, as attempts to make physical barriers often failed or were left unfinished. In a sense, the “Combat Zone of the Slags” or “Combat Ward” is much the same as it was before, only with more wreckage.
Plenty of Xaositects revel in the madness, even! Unlike, say, the Gatehouse Market; any illicit trades are done under the table. There is no stability for a proper market place anyway. Violence is the norm and ruffians who aren’t mazed are often pushed towards this zone. In a sense, it’s a quasi-penal colony. Anyone zoner who leaves is marked for bounty or worse, but any “lawman” who enters is as good as the deadbook quick. You’re also as likely to fall into the many pits of The Slags themselves! In fact, plenty within the Mercykillers have hauled prisoners here to let Kadyx or some barmy do the execution instead. Otherwise, even they they prefer to stay away. This is exemplified by a preserved corpse, arranged in crucifixion, hanging on display along by Founder’s Fence. That hasn’t stopped the “Incredible Demon Maze” death trap from gaining business. The only other main business is bounty hunters and jink hounds killing Combat Zoners who either get too close or Outsiders who stay inside for too long. To these cold-blooded contract killers, they’re one in the same. In time, all tolerance for this playground of mayhem will run out and it will be exterminated; either through group effort or the Lady’s gazing eye. Many of the builders and contractors that were stuck in the ward perished, but plenty of barmy-rendered survivors find themselves caught in the mess. To think, a mere 8 years ago, this was a project of hope. Now there are plans to at least bubble it off, until it can be properly destroyed. And with any hope, Kadyx along with it… if the thing actually exists.
Now, what of other people here? Plenty of brutes, thugs, bandits and more like to hang in the area. How they manage to sneak in or out is anyone’s guess? Gortone “Crescent Chin” Maldicone was a crosstrade father worthy of an epic tale. His long chin gave him the nickname of the “Smiling Moon”, given his penchant to crack a joke at his victims’ expense. A former alchemist with an expertise in narcotics, his drug empire became a menace for The Cage. A mixture of thugs and outsiders ultimately stormed the compound and proved to be his last stand. Let it be known, this proves one of the rare times a group of outsiders dared to venture into the combat zone. They chant suggests that The King of the Crosstrades got involved with stopping a powerful rival. Sadly, his recipes are still known by his many living henchman and trusted associates. The twist in all of this was that this kingpin had the dirt chant on a Fated member who got a “revolutionary” proposal to deal with the trash of the ward. In lieu of a recent sickness stirring in The Cage, those who are tested positive and not immediately “removed” are dumped into the combat zone. The “nameless” taker, according to whispered talk, wants sickness to wipe out the zone, rather than using direct violence or intervention. A small cabal hopes to work with the Guvners to rebrand the area into a quarantine zone, with little in treating the combat warders or undesirable infected. To speak of the Crosstrader King very lightly, an associate is rumored to stow away here. Somewhere in the scaffolding, debris and carnage is a spurned arcanaloth that associated with the infamous Shemeshka at some point. Tales tell of the bad fiend’s zealotry and desire to court Her Frightfulness… Don’t tell anyone I called her that. Details are sparse, but the mad yugoloth was strung along until sent on a suicide mission into the once-rebuild Slags, where he remains to this day. Should you find Yulx’zukath, don’t tell him that “Shemmy sent you.”
On the subject of people, how did I wind up here? The long and short, after finding myself in a warehouse building, a bunch of thugs recognized me and realized they could make major deals on a ransom. After they went afoul, they took me to a blown out manor-like building as they plotted once more. Needless to say, an army of barmy raiders got the jump on them, and that was it for me. My rescuer was a Mercykiller agent with a peculiar helmet, with a distinct dark glass visor. His focus was a block war between two buildings. After massacring much of the miscreants, he questioned my intent, scanned me with magic and hauled me away like I was to be kidnapped yet again. But this time, by it’s by the hands of justice! Needless to say, one misunderstanding later, I was freed after a day in a cell. As for my captor, he only called himself “The Dread Lawman”. Further information was classified. So be it.
Garckle’s Infinite Storehouse
I have a reason to dislike such locations, but something draws me here. For one, the Outer Planes Fey Realms deserved more visiting. For two, I needed a reason to find a way out of The Cage. The Garden settlement’s portal to the Faerie Lands proved most useful. It is likely the charming magics that entice wanderers to see what’s inside. In fact, much to the befuddlement of first time visitors, the converted warehouse is very much bigger on the inside. It seems to stretch for distances immeasurable. The eponymous Garckle is a goblin of the infamous unseelie burg of The Goblin Market. While the whole region feels sinister and rife with nasty goblin magic, this play is eerily inviting. But, one can assume this is a trap. On the contrary, Garckle is one of the least malevolent hosts within the realm. His primary interest is spending you to ruination, which could be considered a cruel aim in some cases. But, his prices are more than fair! His monetary venture can be found within the district of Lorkurglorb, the “innovative” section of the goblin lands. This all started when several goblin spies were sent to sabotage Tinkerhold, land of Gnomes. After causing untold devastation and destruction, the greedy gremlins found themselves ironically interested in the devices they crumbled. Later, they began to test and create, expanding a small collective into a whole district in just a few years. Plus, the huge boom was only a boon to Goblin Market and friends. Garckle is one of the beneficiaries of such a boom, but he’s more a salesman than a crafter.
Should you question where he procures his wares from, he’ll just say he has sellers and suppliers from across the wide multiverse. Should he be questioned about the Cage, he’ll try to shy away from this. In his words, “such places provide too much thrill for me, plus much aggressive competition.” He must be aware of the vendors and warehouses already… And, despite his attempts to create a friendly and pleasing expression, his muscles seem to always contort into something uncanny or threatening. Perhaps it’s his nature or some means of strange magic, but a good effort shouldn’t be decried. Despite being off-putting to outsiders, he’ll still find a way to keep you interested. Through absurdly cut discounts to impossible finds to convincing bootlegs, Garckle claims to carry it all. Don’t accuse him of running a pawn shop. With the limited magic he does have, you’ll often find yourself within the worst slums of Goblin Market seconds later to discover what a real pawn shop in the land is like. Of course, this assumes you’ll survive the thugs and syndicates that love to attack outsiders. But, respect him and you’ll learn a lot. Plus, you’ll leave with a lot. Once you buy one cheaply priced item, you often feel a sensation come over you. “Buy more.” And just like that, another enticing item will magically come into your view. Most customers who don’t leave empty-handed usually leave the opposite. And by all means, even basic goods can be acquired. All of it will be acquired.
If plain material goods aren’t what you need, the man is a bit of an information broker as well. Of course, you’ll have to follow him to a more “secure” part of his sprawling landscape. Want to go from the Seasonal Courts to Tir Na Og? He can arrange something. Want to dig the deepest dark on the Factions of Sigil? He’ll give you Starters and tell you to find “The Editor” of The Factol’s Manifesto while giving a hardy laugh. He’s resourceful, but no addle-cove. Even far away from The Cage, he’s reluctant to do some things without having a good reason or without a close friendship. He ain’t dying for some random out-lander. In the way of portals, Garckle has literally wrangled a number into his service, shifting one side to a portal into his warehouse. Should he like you, he’ll give you a ways to numerous planes and places; a Blood War barracks in the Grey Wastes, the cursed ruins of Dargaard Keep in Krynn, the city of Boston in Gothic Terra, the Rock of Bral in Wildspace and an undetermined place within The Mists. As for the last one? All who have made their way in haven’t come out, causing Garckle to only save that one for enemies. He can’t say where specifically it leads.
True to tricky fey nature, the building itself has plenty of elaborate ruses and gags of its own. One can be lead down corridors that abruptly end, only for the way back to vanish and for the way ahead to be the hall you came from. This is to say nothing of the strange humor of Garckle’s associates. One recent invested business partner is a helmet-wearing monk named “Zam’Dul”. What is he? I’m not certain, but he enjoys talking in archaic format and loves to inject subtle puns and quips too. He claims to be the primary traveling salesman of the multiverse. Though, many who take their business through Sigil and beyond say the same. None the less, Garckle has forged a lasting friendship that remains shrouded in much mystery. Another is an example of goblin tinkering gone right. A bulking human-sized war-machine called “Pulp Maker” looks like a Warforged of Eberron modified for maximized pain. However, the creature’s “passion” lies in crushing trash found around the Market into incredible works of art. Their gallery within the sales house is permanent, after much intimidation. Likewise, they are exceedingly sensitive to criticism, to the point of switching back into their likely original purpose. Careful, lest you become part of an exhibit. Garckle has worked alongside Pulp Maker to make a museum of sorts, with only a meager admission fee and a shop for those interested in their own arts for home. The Pulp Museum can be found to the right of the building’s entryway, opposite from Garckle’s offices. The rest of the building ranges from workshops, shipping warehouses, various broken up item departments and private storing chambers. And has been said before, it seems to go on forever.
The Dread Law District of Evernight
You didn’t think the Tribunal did everything, right? Of course not! As it turns out, a lot of bureaucratic duty is punted off to “lessers”. Often, these are specially selected devotees to the city and the council. They usually comb over governing documents for error, help to propose new concepts and handle particularly confusing legal cases. Many aspire to ascend in the ranks to the Council itself. In fact, this method has proved successful in such. I, myself, am here to help solve a discrepancy between me and a certain mage from some time back. Apparently, there were things to go over. Who knew tight order existed in this place after all? Though, it seems to operate in shadow, acting when it needs too and using most of its power to strike fear instead. Typical for a land one would call “Evil”, no? But, look upon the domain itself, does it not speak oppressive and cruel?
The aesthetic of this space is built with a regal look in mind, but in its most oppressive and overbearing forms. Grand manors and apartments jut and seemingly leer and stare down upon visitors. The windows give a glaring gaze, as the walls blots much in the way of vision. General aesthetics carry a mixture of wealth and power. Faded yet beautiful colors and ornate decor juxtapose clean and spartan angles that suggest a militaristic side. Some of the decorative architecture merges the two, with spikes and fencing more suitable of a general’s uniform than a building. A propaganda slogan of “Power makes Law” is commonly seen on arranged signs throughout the sector. But, should you ask any willing undead creature or denizen, they’ll tell you that they know very few “laws”. All the same, the district and the Tribunal are symbols of fear and commanding authority, so all they say are heeded all the same.
Many assume that Evernight is a crypto-theocracy, this is a lie that is used by the government. In reality, Orcus’ hold is looser than the public knows. In fact, Orcus’ interest in the city has waned. Rather than fearing for another Moil, he sees its operations and leaves it to its devices. However, should enough heresy arrive, he might take action. In the meantime, he keeps a slight distance. Other Powers over Undeath, Fire and several others have some influence within the city, to no retaliation at this time. Oddly enough, religion is mostly excluded from the Law District, despite existing close to the Tribunal’s main quarters and all. While the powers of Orcus and others are important to this dark enclave of the undead, these glorified tethered servants have a job to accomplish. The whole idea that they are the power is just a facade, they exist as slaves to the Tribunal. Their willingness to cooperate is measured by their zealotry to the cause. Fortunately for this council, most of them suffer a radical devotion and are willing to accept such a burden. However, the privileges that they are granted grant the ability to come across as a mighty force. These deeds usually amount of heinous acts of brutality to even the most mundane of bullying. When not chained to their office work, they help act as thuggish enforcers on the streets. In many guards, they’re both legal advisers and the closest things to constables. Unless called to other districts, Dread Law is where they’re mostly found.
The Ore People
Not long ago, I documented the existence of strange mineral people within the Quasi-Elemental Plane of Mineral. Due to their harshly xenophobic ways and alien mindset, studying them was a chore. However, methods have been found! Much of it comes down to study from afar and manipulating various bits of magic. But from these tricky actions, we gain a greater sense of understanding. With that, I have a variety of notes to help bridge the gap between two worlds. At least for starters, there were some things we already gathered from previous observations. Within this pocket of Mineral is a thriving society built upon the splendor and radiance of the ore person. Roles and structure are very much built on it. But, due to a collective thought process, denizens resign themselves to these assigned lifestyles. They can manifest all means of tools on a whim, which would explain the rapid growth of their land.
Now, onto new matters. The Mineral People indeed have a religion. However, they do not understand Immortals or Gods, as their take on life far differs too. Instead, they revere forces of natures, much like various druidic circles. However, the force of Rising Earth is the primary god-like force that governs over all. In a sense, it is akin to the deities and powers under the Power known as Brahman. Or rather, this matches the description told by one scholar from Terra. I do hope he was correct. No matter… All other forces help one understand the Rising Earth. To them, the others act as saints of sorts, they help with one’s belief and focus. But ultimately, the aspects help one attune to the one true power. From this belief, they understand something akin to death. Like us, they one day return to the earth that birthed them. However, they willingly perish when their duty has been fulfilled, as their body crumbles and merges with the elemental plane. But to them, this final moment is a cause for celebration of a life cycle completed. To help usher people along life, elaborate clergies attend impressive temples that ascend to the peaks of this seemingly infinite space. The real wonder of these temples are the lower floors, seeing as true divinity comes from “the core” of the plane. As such, progressively more influential clergy dwell on deeper and deeper levels.
We understand some bits of basic society and faith, what of politics? Curiously, the government is a rotating station handled by members of the highest class. Often, a new representative will join a parliament like group with a cause. Upon completion, they will step down. Do to the like-mindedness of these people, there is little in debate as arguments resolve quickly. However, this also results in a mostly stagnant culture where little changes at any pace. Any reform or alteration is barely noticeable in our lifetime, if documentation in the ways of glyphs upon specialized crystal are to be believed. Considering that these beings seem to live for centuries of our own timeline, it’s doubtful that anything truly different will emerge for ages. But, that is fine enough for them, given their seemingly neutral reactions to almost everything around them. After a few days of seemingly tricking them into acceptance, they gave us a task. It is simple, to go forth into the plane and ward off interlopers! As established before, they’re terribly xenophobic of creatures unlike them. It seems it has developed into a fully fledged racial hatred in fact. Perhaps this is as good of any time to exit. Maybe some day, we’ll find a way to return. And in time, maybe we can bridge the animosity gap to some extent. We shall see.
Let us close on that. With any hope, these discoveries will only lead to positive things. As you wander the planes, always ponder and always wonder. But, stay real with yourself and the new plane you uncover.
IMAGE CREDIT: Deusuum – Means of Transport; Public Domain – 255th Infantry Regiment in Waldenburg; Matthieu Place/Thomas Reynaud – Warehouse Restoration; Andrew Kelley – Eldritch Cathedral; Patricia Allin – Crystal City