In which we explore most horrific occurrences and rather surreal surroundings within The City of Doors and beyond.
But, who might I be? Call me Garrick, a humble Tout at your service and former Guild of Planar Exploration member, depending who you ask. But first, let’s get away from that Hardhead speaker, yes?
You’ve given me more than a helping of jink, so if want The Chant… I can help! If you want the Real Dark of the Matter? Well, best find a cloaked alley and keep your senses about. The Cage is never a friend to its visitors, especially Prime-based folks such as yourselves. But, that’s why you have me. Call me chummer? Not so sure of that, but I owe you assistance and provide the work I shall. Particularly juicy topics, that might cost extra. But, I assure you, I have heard it all… and yet, here I am to tell you about them today. Also, cough up more jink and I’ll subdue The Cant… as best as I can. Trust me, it’ll make understanding me be a whole lot easier!
As for topics, I know plenty of things within the Cage and without. Do you want to talk Inner Planes? Perhaps planar misconceptions across various worlds? Maybe a good conspiracy or two? In all cases, I have plenty to spare. Of course, such a business takes time and time costs. You understand of course. So, let us do commerce so I can share whatever it is you might need for your journeys.
Author’s Note: This one is partially a shout-out to Mr. Welch! I have, to an extent, enjoyed Mystara. However, I never knew too much until I had the chance to delve deeper not only through carefully examining more books, but through his channel and chatting with him. One of his recent teasers for a book, exploring the Knights of Ebony, helped to inspire this return to the planes! Also, if you haven’t checked out his channel, please do! (He’s one of the few gaming channels I openly recommend.) Also, yes, I didn’t just rewrite the newer planes, I just rewrote the internal logic of the 4e universe a bit… even if that means literally killing off aspects of it. But, my focus was on making things work more for Planescape anyway… even an April Fool’s Joke from ages back. One can still sample those 4e locales and settings, but information here would supersede any conflicting details. And as always, I bring plenty of pop culture references.
Planarist Propaganda Run
The Knights of Ebony within Mystara draw the sect’s ire, becoming an intentional target. This group from Mystara consists of high power adventurers tasked by The Immortals of the world to stop planar incursions and the like. Many Planarists have supplied bait, deploying their own agents into Mystara to lure the knights into death traps. Not only that, but they use them to funnel anti-primer propaganda, encouraging prejudice and discrimination. Many factions find them especially distasteful. However, the Dark tells that The Athar are more than happy to destroy those who directly capitulate with The Immortals. Seeing a Balance within their actions, The Acts of Balance have leaked information and support to the Knights of Ebony, in effort to sabotage other planars and factions. The Knights realize that the Centrists dislike Lawful and Chaotic philosophies though, with their aid coming from selfish intentions. For once, the Doomguard simply sit back and watch the mayhem unwind, knowing that all sides lead to entropy. The Fraternity of Order seeks to sample the Knight’s actions for some new law or proposal, either helping or hindering… depending on what fits the Guvners that day. However, the Revolutionary League find them to be a wall on their path, so they’re fine with vandalizing their efforts… often violently. The Fated only sympathize with the Knights of Ebony for one reason, they hate the Planarists for their antagonism of their Factol.
Despite the factions getting involved, the Planarists have gone even further, hiring agents and proxies to survey the lands of their enemies to make sure that the Primes cause no harm. While worlds like Toril, Krynn, Oerth and even Aebrynis have been gradually seeded with these spies, Mystara lies the newest target thanks to both its Fabric Barrier and its Knights of Ebony. This has made matters worse for the Mystaran based communities of the cage. Petite Renardie and New Crystal Peaks in particular have come under threat. Given the dire situation of the latter, the dwarves and kogolar are particularly upset about current events. But, given how the Hollow World is merely conspiracy to most Mystarans and knowledge of Blackmoor has been gone for eons, the Knights of Ebony shudder at the thought of bringing them back to the Prime. At least for the Lupins of Petite Renardie, they would have a much easier time of returning to their home world, even if the Cage has made their pseudo-colony into its own culture. Speaking of factions, they have mobilized their own actions, especially against The Fated and The Harmonium. Exploiting the enemies of both factions, they have utilized them as proxies and agents to cause as much damage as possible. They’ve stepped back after the owners of a Fated-based lending house were murdered during a riot. Likewise, the riots slew several patrolling officers of Harmonium, before some Mercykillers were called in as far more brutal backup. Despite misgivings with The Acts of Balance, several Planarists are trying to coax the more extreme members from within The Boundless Cage to stage a terror attack on the Hall of Records.
This isn’t the only issue in their eyes. Even Primers who have adjusted are held in contempt. But, there are few that are as shunned as the owners of The Rustic Sphere in the Lower Ward. Originally from a grim incarnation of Terra, the owners are eccentric to say the least. The two-headed Frank-Frank is something a conjoined twin, with two separate minds. The burly grey mutants are hardy but good in humor. But, their history of underground sales of potentially powerful technological weaponry has arisen concern. Even worse is another primer getting their hands on this gear, a Krynnish Minoi named Algoridth-Morkand-Fingsk. The device in question was the foundations for a portal device, which was broken at the time. The Minoi did all in his gnomish ability to tinker with it, something Frank-Frank figured would be harmless. The end result, thankfully beyond the Cage (not that it would work from within), was almost unleashing The Body Luminous upon the world of Krynn itself! This celestial orbiting mass is a nucleus of chalky stone hurtling through the Ethereal, containing bits of long dead worlds. It is said to be a fragment of a future apocalypse that was hurtled back into the far past. Upon hearing of its existence, the gnome was curious on sampling a piece for experiments with the help of his gateway. It didn’t work as planned, as the cosmic death rock almost entered Krynnish space. The machine thankfully gave out, from all the modifications of the tinkerer. Needless to say, he returned to The Rustic Sphere with complaints. The Planarists decided turning the mad crafter into a bloody smear was the best option soon after, if to send a message to the curious vendor as well. Now, Frank-Frank find themselves terrified, with not even the law providing aid in this time. However, more corrupt Planarists have offered to lighten up in exchange for heavy discounts on various arms and armory.
Odd Crimes of The Cage
A prowling robber has come to Sigil, but her thefts are most unusual. She is an emotional vampire who gains sustenance from draining emotions from others, leaving victims in a blase and weary state. Her means of robbery are often discreet, where she will observe people invested in some matter, swoop near some hidden area and siphon without their notice. A bounty has been placed on her by some angry Hardheads, after her drains went too far. Caught in the moment of an officer’s fury upon apprehending a brutish criminal, she ultimately caused the factotum brain damage, while the criminal escaped. Said officer is still in deep recovery, wondering how this state happened to him in the first place. They aren’t the only ones looking for her, legions of similar “vampires” have emerged in Sigil to hunt her down. They have learned of her reckless behavior and risk exposure because of her. She is known under the alias of Mirta, but the Harmonium will much appreciate any information available. She’s easy to spot on her own, as her presence is very annoying and draining on its own. Listening to her talk is hypnotic and painful at the same time, often because it involves irrelevant, upsetting or bland topics.
The Hitman of Time and Memory, a contract killer of a very specific sort. Cross-trades always turn a direction in The Cage, but this case is something out there. The Chant tells of a hired brute who specializes in particular hits. The eponymous name spells it out, blood, he kills off a victim’s time and memory. That moment isn’t just taken, it’s destroyed. The Hitman has been hired to not so much erase targets, but evidence of matters. While there are plenty of enchanter mages and psions to walk the streets, this sneaking slayer is far more quiet and quite hard to detect. Some say that he’s actually a coverup for something else entirely. The Dark of the matter is that not only is he real, he sells to the highest bidder. His favorite freelance employer is none other than The King of the Cross-Trades, to keep issues involving her at an all-time low.
There’s a new big jink powder, uhh, narcotic that has hit The Lady’s Ward and it goes for a premium. It’s Metal Tear, a powerful gas that has its origins in the horrifying demiplane of Augmental. From a sector known as the Caustic Windpipes, an awful gas flows and is emitted through flexible air sacks and rusted looking pipes, both of which surrounded by dried acidic looking crust. The gas itself induces a mental sensation that enacts both pleasure and terror. It has become a go-to pursuit by wealthy thrill seekers. However, true its origins, it can induce damage on the victim’s lungs and is extremely addictive. Peddlers range from escaped Augmental horrors to crazed adventurers out for a quick sale. Bootlegged strains have appeared in other wards, but their side effects on all accounts are far more dangerous. For all the faults of the Hardheads, they’ve done all in their power to help crack down on this potential drug epidemic.
The Bottle and Jug has found new money thanks to a gang in The Hive. The Brawling Bastards are thugs whose master stole the martial arts from a troop of monks stranded in The Cage. Through incredible psychic powers, he infused some of their gifts, which they fused with dirty street fighting of their own. The Brawlers previous caused trouble all around the ward, but have caught the attention of the bar’s owner. Through a deal, they gain exclusive goods from the pub in exchange for them facing challengers in the ring. So far, only a few brawlers are defeated, none killed… The same can’t be said for challengers. And thus, The Bastards Brawl becomes a popular event. But, surely this isn’t a crime? A bunch of berks, bloods and bashers create a sport instead of taking to the streets? About that… For one, it’s often unsanctioned, like much of the Bottle and Jug events. For two, their cut of the money helps fuel efforts to continue crime while the ‘Jug owner turns a blind eye. In fact, in the off-chance that one of their own does lose, their affiliates aren’t against tracking down the victory and “teaching a lesson”.
The last tale of night only tangentially involves Sigil. There have been a series of heists throughout the wards, all with a focus on dark artifacts and means of liberation. Even the Temple of the Abyss has been hit by these mystery thieves. But, little of it makes sense to most thinkers, save for those who know their Tanar’ri… err, Demon history. Deep within the Abyss, there is the layer of Mal Arundak, the Bastion of Confusion. It is here that an abyssal entity was betrayed by their own kind. In a once-in-all-existence situation, Devas… umm, Angels were called upon to help the Abyssal horrors in locking something so foul, not even they could stand it. Or so, that’s the version told. In truth, this prison was a two-fold trap. The first part was to capture a rising power that other Tanar’ri Lords were getting tired of, with the second part being tricking a bunch of Celestials to be slowly corrupted mutual prisoners. It very much worked, with the former Celestials unaware that they’ve not only fallen, but become “demons” in their own right. It would seem that a bunch of barmies want this unknown entity to be free to pursue whatever mad destruction suits their fancy. As such, they’ve assembled a list of needed goods from across the city. Some have been purchased fairly, while the rest were taken either through cunning thievery or by force. But, what cult wants to do this and who is this foe?
Of Darkness & Dread
The Cult of Gryphon Hill
Early in the years of “The Mists”, the Original Sinner briefly escaped for another test. Quite simply, he was tasked with facing his darkest side. An apparatus was being made to splinter his good nature from his evil. Tales say that he somehow succeeded in his escape and began to live his existence anew. This is false. Strahd, even split from the Apparatus, was still desperate and far from goodly. The split was merely a test, one which was ultimately sabotaged by his far stronger evil nature and the dealings of outsider adventurers. This resulted in some of Mordentshire’s lands being dragged with the returned “Complete Strahd” into the Mists. In due time, this would result in the domain of Mordent, as well as Arkendale among others. With that backstory out of the way, what exists there now? How does it relate to The Planes? The Manor itself and its grounds act as a tethered one-way gateway to the Demiplane of Dread. And from it, The Cult of Gryphon Hill has emerged. Are they tied to the Cabal that hunted The Bard? Some of this Bleak Cabal and related groups could have a connection, but I don’t see a major one. They are secretive, rarely operating far beyond the lowly manor of Prime Material Mordentshire. As such, not too much is known on them.
Some assume they seek returned power to Vecna, but that’s not entirely true. They seem to be aware of his supposed return to Oerth. Any interest in him is only somewhat related. What of another Lich, Azalin? Not so much either. But, they do blame him for the fate of not only Count Strahd Von Zarovich, but also Lord Wilfred Godefroy. They do have a strong attachment to all things Mists, seeing any manifestation as holy. But, those who disturb them quickly go missing, sacrifices to The Dark Powers. How the forces of the Demiplane of Dread haven’t taken them away is a mystery onto itself. Somehow, the powers rebuke them, as if to keep them as an easy entryway for others to enter their vile home. But, Material Mordentshire’s cult has expanded its sights and horizons, including into a strange City on the edge of Midnight. They have slowly expanded their base to here in hopes of gaining an easier foothold to and from The Mists.
Surely, those who have taken the manor are suspicious to the population as a whole? Not entirely. Many maintain day-to-day lives as simple tradesmen. More hardy cultists have infiltrated militias and guard posts, acting as defenders. When the world is ready for the final unity of The Mists with the Material, they will unveil themselves. They saw The Grand Conjunction as a test for their faith, the start of something greater. In time, they will triumph over the Dread Lich, who ruined Mordent, the Conjunction and so much more. Their pledged aid to the Entropic Gloom was only inevitable, even if they secretly harbor a great dislike for Azalin Rex. To them, it’s only a step towards the next conjunction.
The City of Midnight, Gloomwrought, is known by many as a darker alternative to Sigil for many reasons. For starters, it started as the work of a tribe of refugee Shadow Fey who called themselves “Shadar Kai”. These Shadow Fey, known to themselves as Arak, still carried the darkness and tainted magics of Gwydion the Sorcerer-Fiend upon them, despite liberating themselves. And yet, a deep angst hung over them, knowing that their kin are still lost. Still, they infused much of these dread magics into their demiplane space, pulling from the Demiplane of Shadows, Negative Energy Plane, Divine Rites of now lost gods, The Demiplane of Dread, The Good Kingdom and more. But, a strange sickness caused by outsiders ultimately made their numbers dwindle until they simply abandoned the city, retreating to the Demiplane of Shadows. To this day “Fell’s Despair” lingers as an integral part of the city. But, was the disease brought over intentionally or was it just a natural progression of this grim burg? It’s hard to say, but my bet goes on the latter. The magics and forces within Gloomwrought have seemed to progress on their own, at a certain point. What was left was a strange city of overcasting gloom, but this didn’t stop many from finding the strange place to be home. The city is malleable, the buildings shift and warp, even the faces on the City Gates vanish and appear as the openings shift about. This Dark City is one where memories fail and artificial ones seem to pop up. This lead to all sorts of darker planar creatures calling this place their kip, err, home. Even the mysterious Keepers have found great use out of the city. In fact, the Arak have made their impact on the place through their Changelings. These creatures are merely clones of a person’s shadows and piece of soul, nearly mindless except in their ability to do a single task. This is usually the result of Arak being impressed by a mortal “donor’s” abilities. As such, their taken souls have become a perfect copy of that ability, whether or not the original shadow owner survives. But, there is more to its sordid history and present than even The Bard embellished on. For example, its “Shattered Islands” was once a place filled with backstabbing nobles out to get Prince Rolan. As if by his hand, the changing city shoved the block into the bay and lead the area to rapid ruin. Now it exists in mostly squalor, but a few “islands” remain, with some remnants of houses licking their wounds and plotting revenge. Negative emotion bursting from an emotionless state is common in Gloomwrought, due to its strange demiplane magics. In fact, these strong negative reactions have been the downfall of many. A district known as “Drago-town” carried some kind of humanoid draconic creatures, until enough prejudice and reactionary hate lead to its destruction. Likewise, “Ashmodai”, was another targeted district due to being primarily Asmodean-touched humanoids. For all there is about the city being a dark safe haven, these two races almost met their last stand and into extinction. But, there is more than just radical outbursts when it comes to getting ahead.
In fact, a handful of factions have made themselves well known. The first is an elite mercenary group known as the “Crimson Sashes”. The red cloth garments upon each member are the easiest way to identify the group. It is said that they are responsible for driving invading forces countless years ago, earning them much acclaim. The second are the Hooded Lanterns. These cultists revere various gods of light, such as Lathander or Pelor. Seen as either harmless or mad, the city dwellers often try to avoid them if possible, but the cultists do what they can to seek recognition and do good by the populace. As has been written, most of the deities within the city cater to more macabre and dour subjects. In truth, the cult believes that these deities of light and sun are one half of a duality; that these gods are half of other gods, those belonging to shadows, death, darkness and more. Of course, belief in this is absolutely heretical to most faiths. However, they have been given refuge here, rather than suffer dearly elsewhere. The House of the Eye are power players and information brokers. The Dark about their love of secrets? Majority are cultists of Vecna, or they were until calamity has caused his own followers to either spiral out or break away. Their current mission, in addition to the business they do, is to fully restore their divine focus to pre-Paradox state. Their first goal is to locate “The Secret Keeper made Flesh” or the reincarnation of him, said to be lost in a “World of Mist”. Many of these cultists hail from the world of Oerth, well aware of dimensional spots linked to Vecna. They also hold keys to a dimensional nexus within the land of Knurl, meaning they are also aware of Azalin. This is to say nothing of another religion that lives to worship a destroyed or possibly non-existent deity called “Raven Queen”. To those who acknowledge the dark reality about her, they see the religion as more of a metaphor than a literal worship of a deity. But, those who join in this worship rarely become permanent members of a church. Often they find themselves moving to another church with an actual representative. Ironically, many flock to Wee Jas, despite the conspiracy that this Queen was slain by her. More mysteriously, the Archfey of the Winter Court took the name “Queen of Ravens” not long after the olden temple was destroyed. Strangely, Wee Jas has never commented on this. The destruction of cathedral known as the Raven’s Eyrie strongly signals that the conspiracy is likely true. The Veil Alliance exists in a weird duality, almost like the Hooded Lanterns. In their cause, they are known to operate all means of illicit entertainment and extorting business. All the same, they are experts in diplomacy and courier service. While some find them distrustful, they can’t deny their multitude of great talents. Of course, House Harskel has been brought up before. The House continues to be an important facet of the city and to the Prince himself.
But, what of the demiplane? Some say that it was a dimensional space that breached the Dimensional Fabric. From what I have observed, Nerath’s world might not even exist anymore, which was why the Barrier in the Prime Material sealed it. Perhaps true. After all, it is said to belong to the worlds kept behind the Points of Light barrier, home to Nerath. It’s possible that the “World upon the Axis” is just a Primer falsehood and Gloomwrought came about the Ethereal by its own means. The last one is the story I shall go with, as it’s the most sensible. One of life’s many mysteries, perhaps one day we’ll all figure it out. By all means, not the only mystery that ties into the realms of dread.
The Bard truly lives?
To the shock of many, a catman from within the Sylvan dominion of Antorek claims that he is Ramon, the missing Chronicler of Sigil. For those unaware, the mysterious collector of lore was previously seen around Sigil not too long ago, before vanishing on an expedition. And back then, he didn’t look like animalistic. And yet, this upright cat creature claims to be him, he certainly has the same talents in the musical and arcane. Not only is he skilled in bardic talents, he speaks of priesthood with Obad-Hai, God of Nature from Flan. He claims to have taken five sylvan years to raise a family too. It has been some time that has passed, but this is purely an alternate timeline at work. Not only this, but his dreams tell of things that “other versions have witnessed”. There are dreams of The Mists of some far off realm. And stranger, scenes of himself breaking apart at the hands of a Mad Cosmic King. Before disappearance, he was last seen risking himself upon The Hall of Speakers, bringing alert to a planar threat. While the speech resonated to a slight degree, the public noted a distinct chill when bringing up a cabal of entropy followed by an unknown gang known as “Kargatane”. Not soon after leaving the halls, he was gone. But, that was quite the while ago. As if through impossible magic, he has returned, but different. Despite the flopping ears and tail, he still carries the same glowing personality, recognizable demeanor and sharp dialect. He has had to retrain for some time to be happy with his now feline sounding singing voice though.
The statement of him being shattered? Likely true. He spoke of another in his travels, a woman from Barovia. Through raiding the castle of the Barovian count, he learned that the breaking and loss of an incredible woman lead to the curse upon the both Leader and Prisoner of the realm. And like Ramon, this Tatyana Federovna was broken by strange tragedy. Pieces of her soul escaped Barovia and into other realms, such as “Anna” within the city of Waterdeep, leading to confused and terrified incarnations. In the case of the bard, it seems he is just as confused; minds muddled over contradictory pasts and presents, mixtures of events that could have never happened. But, his twisted reality is the fault of another, Azalin Rex. At some point in his career, The Mists pulled Ramon into their grasp as he emerged in Darkon, current domicile of the infamous Azalin. He was quickly captured by the Darklord and interrogated intensely. After he was found to be useful, the bard was used for a variety of tests. This culminated in the creation of a clone. However, the bard himself broke free and was lucky to catch wind of a rebel strike force sent to the headquarters of the Dread Lich, Castle Avernus. While Azalin was allegedly defeated, his phylactery was never found. The mad lich found himself infuriated over his defeat. And worse, the powerful adventurers all hailed from a much hated land, Barovia. In truth, Azalin pretended to be defeated, in an effort to use his cohorts and networks to learn more of these would be assassins… all while using his allies to ensure that he can never be destroyed. But, through this happening, the original Ramon vanished and was “lost to the mists”. Perhaps the original was kept and what we see is just a fragment of a broken soul. Of course, all of this could be a cruel joke. What do I know of the Prison Demiplane of Horrors? Quite little, a bit less than a well seasoned greybeard who claims to have seen much. And how should a tale of a broken soul reach me? After all, this version is clueless of this fact. But, from what I do know? I probably shouldn’t, but yet… I do! Don’t pay it too much mind. You’ll be happier that way.
But, what of the man now? Well, he is back to business. He’ll go on about his many adventures across the planes. Though, it seems as though he has somewhat retired to raise a family. In fact, the attractive sights of Sigil caused his family to regain a nice kip… err home around The Clerk’s Ward and Guildhall Ward. While not wealthy enough for the Lady’s Ward, he still has fair coin. But, his quirks are at times worrying. Amidst a performance, he might repeat a note or a syllable in sudden stutter. Sometimes, he might experience traumatic shock, muttering something about a lich and a machine. When asked, he won’t exactly know, save for hazy visions and memories. What he does know is that there is something wrong with his soul, like he’s somehow broken on the inside. He has recently learned that a world that carries a mythic device that can restore his soul to complete once more. He knows it dwells upon an old manor, atop a Gryphon Hill. Mind you, he is not comfortable with making the voyage on his own and worries for the safety of his family, even leaving quite the will for them. This isn’t to say that his wife, Tiyeri, is helpless. In Antorek, she was a well respected enchanter and sylvan scribe. The family lives on top of a bookstore within the Guildhall Ward, in between the areas of Sitelow Road and Ritman Street, The Well-Read Beast. It is owned by Tiyeri primarily. But, the curious pull of The Cage ultimately won the family over, with a homesick Ramon somehow recalling details of that old life. Given closeness to the “Hired Nurses Guild”, an Solar-blooded Aasimar caretaker by the name of Gereilisse stops by every couple of days to help with care for the children. In addition to commissioning written works, they sell almost every work written by Ramon. Some documents remain on other shelves and many are lost to the Demiplane of Dread. However, some rival competition recently folded and merged with them, Boskov’s Books. The House Spirit was unable to keep up with the newcomer. He begrudgingly helps this current establishment, due to losing the previous one under other legal means too. It turns out that the true owner changed the House Spirit’s name in an act of fraudulent crime. Boskov the House Spirit, betrayed, does not bring this up. While not getting along well with Ramon, he respects Tiyeri and to a lesser extent her children. Boskov considers Ramon a troubling adventurer Tiyeri is however a businesswoman and mother over an adventurer, even if a talented mage. She’d sooner hire mercenaries or other adventurers in her place.
Old Primordium Habits
Older Elemental Politics
Despite being a haven of sorts from olden style Inner Planes politics, they still find their way inside the somewhat more cosmopolitan mix of the elements. Even the more closed elemental societies have found themselves somehow attracted to this spectacle. The Brazen Bazaar of the Efreeti is one such outside visitor. Formed by the cabal of The Golden Hearth, these fiery genie kind hail from the City of Brass, despite considering themselves an “independent mobile state”. They have been contested for both definition and proof of this, which are both shrugged off somehow. Despite the pinnacle of merchant princes being efreet, there are others throughout various other ranks and stations. Azers, Fire Giants and Salamanders make up plenty within this cabal. But, what of the interior of the bazaar? The caravans of the bazaar are rarely united in their full splendor, save for special events and political diplomacy. Otherwise, groups of the cabal typically branch out to cover the furthest distance. One of their means of extending travel and providing safety to their vendors is through enchantments that produce a solid smoke. This acts as both a bridge for travel and a hub space for dealing with customers. Curiously, the wagons, caravans and other vehicles themselves have extra-dimensional space that is far larger on the inside than on the outside. For extended visits, a massive cosmic canvas is erected to help shield the rest of the traveling cabal from any dangers of the outside world. Beyond protective enchantments and travel methods, the Golden Hearth has access to several portals to the City of Brass, as the group are still aligned with many of the city’s principles. Likewise, slaves made of non-fire elemental creatures aren’t uncommon. Despite being from the Plane of Fire, and their connection to the City of Brass, they have become a welcome sight throughout most of Primordium. They are smart to avoid Gloamnull, due to strong anti-fire rhetoric.
Ranging the size of a national territory, Irdoc Morda is an incredible “installation” of the Primordium. Some ways down the River of Melted Iron, one can find a bowl of jagged peaks and steel towers housing a seemingly endless resource of various metals. It is here where many Primordial Guardians dwell, long without purpose or meaning. In archaic times, these guardians took part in the rebellion against the main forces of the elements by forging weaponry and other feats of incredible metalwork. In its glory days, it was rich in iron and rarer metal resources, as well as the birth place of metallic elementals. In time, its resources became less useful and valuable after the rebellion was crushed. The Guardians have since turned to mercenary work, buying and selling their creations to highest bidder across the planes. Metallic elementals, trying not to interfere with this work, still feel much proprietorship here and thus do their best to maintain it well. They prove far less aggressive and unfriendly than the Guardians. Thanks to their trades with the Brazen Bazaar, they have a number of slaves (usually elemental blooded) that they use for various projects around the reflective bowl. Due to neglectful nature and behaviors, it’s not uncommon that these unfortunate people do not last for too long. That said, the masters of this place are more than willing to take on commission projects or be recruited for mercenary jobs, but they fiercely loathe any elemental creature that has ties to the powers that put down the ancient rebellion. Projects of note range around the stations of Irdoc Morda. The Hollow Grounds are the flat middle that makes of the majority of the space, currently used for iron-hulled reinforcements for Spelljammers of unfathomable proportions. Why Spelljammers? Some suspect that they wish to help spark a new rebellion upon Wildspace and Beyond, rather than just The Planes. Within the three jutting Watchtowers, security is kept through enchanted fortress spires through divination magics. The Veins are terms of well-protected and hidden mines throughout the area, guarded to prevent exploitation from happening again. While they still respect and revere the elemental gods and masters that revolted against the establishment, they still deeply hate this.
It isn’t just the Efreeti who have sparked major conflict among the elements. Elemental Princes of Evil has been further pushing racial tension, to bring all within their element under their banner. Meanwhile, the Archomentals on the side of good have been trying in vein to keep the peace. Many fear that Primordium will be transformed into an elemental battleground as it is, Gloamnull is already heavily racist against any creatures of fire. Many fear it’s only a matter of time until they propel that racism outwards. As it is, various corrupt elemental syndicates have hired out mercenaries and adventurers to pursue rival and hated groups. Proxy battles and minor skirmishes have happened outside of proper settlements and cities, but the aggression is not unknown. Activism and attempts to ease the tensions have only helped so much at the moment, while some have been outright co opted either in the names of personal gain or acceleration. While the majority of Primordium intentionally left those notions of racial division behind, they don’t know if they can survive an all out assault motivated by them.
Listen further and endanger yourself!
Let’s explore a conspiracy that directly ties into The Primordium. This is the world housing Nerath, their confusion in regards to cosmology and much more. I’ve touched upon them in my examination of Gloomwrought, but it goes far deeper. Why has the Reality Fabric Barrier of the Prime Material sealed them off? It’s very much the fault of the Primordium. When the war against it heated up, fighting spilled over into an early manifestation of the Prime Material. The forces of this rebel world saw this chunk of the prime as primary locale to help build themselves up. In the end, their losses were still known. However, the damage they dealt was significant, drastically altering the World upon the Axis as a whole. To prevent further tampering, as well as ensuring that information of this is kept secret, the Powers over the world took the Barrier used for other worlds to wrap this one. This didn’t stop both the propaganda of these powers from mixing with the Cluelessness of Primers. Thus, scholars drafted The World Axis Cosmology, with names like Primordials and Elemental Chaos reflecting the Elemental Rebellion of the Primordium. Likewise, the Powers affecting those in this bubble have made the planes resemble this map, to further enforce their view. Curiously, the Axis/Points of Light World has its own equivalent to the Knights of Ebony. But, they seek to ensure “planar harmony” continues, which amounts to making sure that the Gods’ plan for the universe continues. In fairness, their plan does ensure stability and the rebel elementals were indifferent to the suffering they caused upon the prime at the time. One could argue that the steps to prevent this from happening again go too far. But, what of the essences of the rebels trapped in this bubble? Their pocket realm is a twisted and perverted parody of what they had striven for, seeing a realm of nonsensical elementalism that breaks down their own beliefs and rites. More than anything, these eldritch lords seek escape from this universal prison, rather than continuing to damage it. To the realm of The Primordium proper, they are considered lost or dead. Seeing as they cannot pierce the reality fabric’s barriers, they may as well be to greater reality. More curiously, other lies have been forged by these closed powers. They likewise say that “Mirror Planes” exist for both forces of Fey and Shadow. This is of course a farce to further assume control. It is said that many forces of their respective “plane” are likewise imprisoned there. Now that you know, remember that you are barred from the World upon the Axis, as forbidden knowledge is yours. And now you know a lie that would shatter an entire chunk of reality, one stuck in virtual reality. It helps to not be Clueless.
This last one is know how that can get one killed just as quickly… maybe more so, as we return to Primordium for something exceptionally important. The Pillars of Creation, doesn’t it sound special? That’s because it’s the Core of the Plane itself! While most of the planes and its beings have moved on and have long since stopped caring about the Primordium, there are still those who would prefer to have its every essence destroyed. Elemental Terrorism has had its sights on this core for some time, as security has ramped up accordingly. Even stepping near the dominion of the pillars is punishable by death or worse. But, what are the Pillars themselves? Let me inform what is known…. the Obelisk of Ice, the Raging Storm, and the Torrent of Magma are the three foundational pillars of energy; with smaller “sub-pillars” surrounding them. These incredible fonts of energy are very much the life breath of the plane. From what has been dug up in history, the pillars were meant to be a temporary means of empowering and fueling the plane. However, the ensuing war crushed most hopes to replace the Pillars. Many of these eldritch elemental lords were destroyed or suppressed… and thus the secrets of making a successor Core Source were lost. Now it stands as an ancient majesty that the denizens are thankful for. Only the most trusted and powerful are given the privilege of protecting it, with no major issue so far. And while the means of making a new one are lost, the means of keeping these pillars functioning is not. Some say that the three major pillars are eldritch elemental lords who sacrificed themselves during the civil war.
Now, before you start asking questions of who I really am? Just know this, sometimes a great author gets tired of merely penning down great works and seeks to tell the world first. One more thing, should you look for anything, I happen to have a shop. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? And if you haven’t, you will in good time. Come and I will reveal more, even bring pleasant conversation. I’m also in the service of book editing. In fact, you can find a book on the fey in my shop. It’s more extensive than The Bard’s, if I do say so myself! So long, friends. (Ed.’s Note: You’ve found me out! Am I really that obvious?)
IMAGE CREDITS: Tony DiTerlizzi – Harmonium Speaker, City Guards; Alaborn Zealot – David Horne; Jeff Easley – Apparatus of Gryphon Hill; Tyler Jacobson – Gloomwrought; Elder Scrolls Reddit – Floppa Khajit meme; Christopher Stevens – Exalted 2nd Elementals; WotC Team – World Axis Cosmology