“Those Anarchist twits, sparking more violence within The Cage. They think they’re turning the people against the factions, all of them… Not quite. It all plays into our hands. Besides, this has lead to our greatest dabbling, remote shops to distribute weapons from The Armory better! Tuck them under the Legals’ noses, give ’em the laugh at the right moment! The smell o’ fresh blood wafting along the Lower Ward smog, ain’t it just grand? Besides, nasty things are brewing in the planes, it’s best for the locals to arm themselves. Bloody shame with those pirates though, I wish they were working for us…” – From the letter of a Sinker, commenting on recent “acceleration” within Sigil
Horrible things transpire across the planes, but what do they mean? Likewise, dread things from realms unknown have found their way into The Cage. The few paranoid greybeards within The Dark point towards The Demiplane of Dread and its machinations. But, they can’t say for sure and can’t say why. Through the Prime Fabric, a version of Terra languishes at the wrath of the planes beyond too, something that should be impossible. As it is, rising tensions within Sigil point to something grim. Some figure that Factol Darkwood is up to something, but he has been on the hush since violence against any faction/non-guild has been on the rise. Even laws passed and enforced by the “lawful three” have been subverted and sometimes abolished by outside forces. The Lady, as always, has remained silent until her call to action draws near. In the meantime, both Anarchists and Indeps are getting much of the heat of the blame, alongside various Guilds of the Guildhall and Market Wards.
Author’s Note: This post is all about two themes: darker things in the planes… and war. By war, I mean urban warfare, world war, proxy war, war of ideals/words and war over technology. But also, we have more Planescape content, as well as potential “Ravenscape” material. As always, references galore! This includes some personalities in real life. Shout-out to The Foxy Bard of Renaissance Faire performance fame. I still say if you toss on a monocle, you could rock a Harkon Lukas cosplay! Mind you, Lukas was an inspiration for my character too. Also, this one is a smidge rougher based on looks at an apocalyptic Earth, as well as uproar in the Cage. Keep an eye out for many, many callbacks throughout the post. I love to self-reference.
Monstrous Horrors of The Cage
In a cityscape where fiends and celestials roam the streets, shifting beasts, the walking dead and other entities are less impressive. That said, the City of Doors grants much cover to those things often found in darker realms. But, how do they endure? How do they survive the strange sprawl and oddities of the wider multiverse? Surely, even creatures of darkness and inherent wickedness can find a kip all their own. Of course, they need to make enough nice with the ways of the cage. Or at the very least, create the facade of such. How do such creatures operate with the City of Doors? Many tales are provided to inform.
Of the Shifting Beasts
The Master Singer Conservatory was founded by a troupe of traveling bards, many of whom are Torilian in origin. However, the founders themselves speak of another place deep within Lands of the Mists. They are adverse to clarifying their origins, but inform that they hail from a similar land. However, none of the workers are actually regular humanoids, they are Wolfweres. The Master Singer is primarily a meeting place for intelligence and information gathering. Many students have been entranced and brainwashed to collect data as well. The staff engage in acts of intrigue around the cage, even getting involved with organizations of the Cross-Trade. In the end, they seek knowledge and power. How they have managed to evade the most nefarious, such as the King-of-the-Cross-Trades, is baffling. But, something about their inherent charms and natural abilities allow them to infiltrate, hide and hunt on the rare occasion. The Chant says that one of the workers has successfully joined the Guvners, in an effort to bring “relief” and “aid” to the estranged music school. There is also chant that The House of Caterwaul Prayers who complained to Guvners over harassment allegations. These have mysteriously been dropped. In reality, it is to help the wolfweres gain clout and power over the “inferior” humanoids. Likewise, their investment into musical arts has allowed them to ally with The Society of Sensation, Transcendent Order and assorted arts based guilds.
Another goal is to help hunt down and clear out any werebeasts that skulk within the city. So far, the wererats aiding Many-as-One have become targets. The seemingly nameless wolfwere Guvner has made moves against the catacombs and tunnels used by the Cranium Rat hivemind and its wererat minions. This active war isn’t unnoticed by others either. “The Us” has begun to find any dirt and tactics against the Fraternity of Order, trying to understand the extermination effort. This goes as far as trying to get the Mercykillers involved. The tavern itself has seen many damages, as many wolfweres have decided to take their agenda in shadow. The Master Singer is one violation or transgression from closure, but that won’t stop anyone there. The Ritual of the Heart has taken their interest, especially in its destruction.
The efforts of these Trickster Beasts haven’t gone unnoticed. True werebeasts from within The Cage have sought to reveal their rivals as the warped animals that they are. The wererats under Many-as-One in particular seek to eradicate the threat against them. But, for others, they seek to etch out an existence like anyone else. Two weretigers, lovers from Mythic Earth’s India, have found themselves drawn into such politics as well. One of which has aided The Harmonium and The Mercykillers in tracking down the wolfweres. While both the Hardheads and Red Death are aware of their natures, they’ve made it clear that their interests are in trading imports and exports. Both being part of The Fated, financial gain over rare trades remains their top concern beyond their safety. But, recent events might change that. Meanwhile, a cleric of Squerrik from Oerth has passed knowledge along to others about The Master Singer, in hopes they’ll accompany him to help dismantle it. He currently works alongside a Human Assassin/Cleric of Bhaal from Toril.
For seekers of thrill, there is the Ritual of the Heart. This tavern can be found within the Entropy’s Gem sector, on Newgate. On the outside, it’s a normal place where Cagers go. But, the majority of the clients are werebeasts in their humanoid form. Often, they’ll wait for a non-therianthrope to enter, in which they often get the poor sod impossibly plastered on whatever ale they have available. From there, they lead them through a portal trap that takes them to Malar’s domain. Often, a few patrons will follow. Once in the plane of Carceri, they’ll drop all friendliness and shift into a form more suitable for hunting. Malar himself has taken note of this practice. While displeased that most of them don’t properly venerate him, he is none the less approving of their actions. After the victim vanishes, the owner will utilize the Art to disguise a regular as the victim for up to a few days, to displace suspicions. The owner, Mother Greilinia, is a fallen werebear druid and member of The Doomguard. Before journeying into the cage, she belonged to a corrupted circle who believed that Entropy was the truest form of nature and must be worshiped. Beyond magics to disguise patrons, she also holds the secrets of the portal within the tavern basement. Accessing requires willingly spilled drops of blood. Entry back in requires the ripped heart of a slain hunt victim. Should the patrons return with the victim’s heart, the tavern itself will “unexpectedly close down” for a “private party”, as Mother Greilinia enacts a ritual to replicate the heart for all to feast on. By some means of Garnish, the tavern has gone “unnoticed” by Hardheads and Guvners alike.
Not all are extremely grim or cruel. One exception is a traveling bard, not unlike Ramon DeLeon. This one prefers to spout bawdy or controversial limericks for easy antagonistic joy, but also because he greatly enjoys them. The appropriately titled “Gaudy Bard” is actually a Mystaran Werefox, who unlike other variants can be male. He is more interested in feats of trickery and mischief than actual harm. However, his ballads have sparked massive brawls more often than not. Somehow, he has emerged from tavern scraps untouched. He has assembled a group of “followers and appreciators” that are also secretly werefoxes of the same vein. They act as spies and lookouts to ensure his safety and help him find material for more songs. They love gossip and rumors to use against others. This bard is more about shocking performances than actual damage though, which often comes from followers. However, his debauchery and chaotic sense of adventure has lead to the creation of more werebeasts like him, shall we say. As it is, his followers have added ranks thanks to their own infiltration into the Society of Sensation and somehow the Xaositects. While not involved, the Athar are deeply amused by the bard’s blasphemous works.
Of Other Shapers of Skin
This has sparked a rivalry of sorts with another shapeshifter, the doppelganger. Greater and Dread Doppelgangers have been brought into the city by a charismatic force, claiming to hail from a grim misty city called “Timor”. They cited the Councilman Hemlest as their superior. However, in lieu of their home city vanishing, they have yet to find their leader. None the less, they have made the Cage their home. Only the brightest minds and obviously The Lady can see through their schemes. But for everyone else? Fair play. Over the years in Sigil, grand schemes have dulled down to petty acts of cross-trade, mostly for survival. Many have found ways of blending in the day to day, usually depending on what part of it strikes their fancy. Due to long life and impeccable ability to mimic, a doppelganger can never get bored. And even then, it’s not that hard for them to hear enough Chant or Dark to find a way into The Planes themselves.
A small network has formed around a crooked Guvner named, “E”, a Torilian Greater Doppelganger who has opened up a law consultation office. The lawyer’s actual interest is helping others like him get ahead, all while providing legitimate advice under a false cover of security. The Office of E can be found in the Clerk’s Ward, where he can be seen as a fidgety and lanky human with extremely pale skin and frayed beige hair. E makes exceptions though, for those he likes enough. He will never compromise their safety, under any conditions. However, he isn’t against trying to get them to work with doppelgangers to provide aid or help somehow. These endeavors have crossed paths with the wolfweres of the Cage. So far, the two types of shapeshifters have enacted some means of neutrality pact. The doppelgangers aren’t overly interested in hunting down true werebeasts, but they only provide services as a means of gaining allies to protect their own kind. This has lead him into pressuring wolfweres to stalk the depths of the Realm Below to hunt a deeply loathed foe of the doppelganger, one that has invaded the undersigil, the aberrant horrors Marikith. To the dismay of E, he learned that these creatures followed his kin from their lost city. Without their queen, they mostly shamble and roam until a victim draws near. But, given rising tensions across the city, E has been stuck with several causes and cases unrelated to any desirable ambitions.
E isn’t the only shapeshifting force of terror within city limits. Madame Joleyne is a high society socialite with much attention her way. She often uses it to invest in business she favors, attempt to wrangle a piece of the city for her control and flaunt her clan’s affluence. In truth, she is a Dread Doppelganger who made the jump from the city of Timor. Before it’s collapse, she was part of the urban elite that helped financially drain the city dry. And in fact, they were were Dread Doppelgangers. Unlike the majority of her cohorts that were either lost or died with the city’s fall, her interests are far more self-centered and vain. Her attention has been brought to the King-of-the-Crosstrades, who she hopes to swing to her side somehow. The glaring similarities between the two end beyond personalities and self-indulgence. Joleyne is largely disinterested in politics or business management, even if she totes much of Timor’s wealth with her. Doppelgangers serving her clan often wriggle their way into guilds and factions to ensure that the flow of lovely jink continues to fuel the decadent lifestyle of their Matriarch. The lady of the household prefers to enjoy large cage-style dresses, sometimes with flowing trains upon them. Her hair is often done up in fantastical shapes and arrangements, changing length or shape by her command. While she’s one to mix up her look, it’s consistent enough to be recognizable, making her an easy to point out celebrity within Sigil. She revels in the irony of her obvious looks, despite hiding in plain sight as a doppelganger.
Children of the Night
As should surprise very few, vampires have found residence within The Cage as well. In fact, beyond kips, many have found a good deal of jink too. Two establishments have been a godsend to the vampires. The Coagulated Corpse Tavern in the Lower Ward is a brooding and gothic establishment, the colors of rust and blood. Its owner, the “Great Lord Vladek”, proclaims to be a disgraced nobleman deposed of his throne. Disappearances nearby the locale have been the cause of much chagrin and blame, causing more Lawful factions to try to crack down and investigate. Yet, somehow the Corpse remains open. Another controversial site is the Black Casket of the Lady’s Ward. Not to be confused with the Dustmen hangout, this “watering hole” focuses on dishes and drinks made with blood… at least according to the Chant. The owners, the Ilsa and Yorik, are direct rivals of Vladek and are likely part of the reasons behind his toils. In truth, they are victims of the Markov family clan who actively oppressed the lands in their Prime home. Vladek was once a prince of said clan. The two forces have sent affiliates to mess with each respective establishment. So far, nothing has escalated more than petty theft or cheap vandalism. But, both places know deep down that there can’t be peace while the other is in the city. Only once the other is run out can they continue to operate with less tension.
Another type of vampire somehow made its way out of The Mists, the Cerebral Vampire. These vampires gained strange psychic boons from consuming from the skulls of the dread illithid of Bluetspur. But, by sheer chance, they have been taken to the Astral Plane. For much time, they found themselves looking for any exit. It came in the form of a temporary portal to the Gatehouse of Sigil’s Hive Ward. Many were already barmy, but the rest fled deep below. Some seek to expand a control over great psychic power, while others seek either a cure for their vampire strain or a way to harness it. The woes of the cranium rats were bad enough with shapeshifters after them, but the Cerebral Vampires have made it worse. They find the intelligent hiveminds to be a deranged delicacy. While they have fended off other exterminators, these hunters have begun to instill absolute terror and dread. Images of their brood being shamelessly feasted upon frightens even the mightiest of the Cranium Rat hiveminds. Given the increased defenses that cerebral vampires have gained from both boons and feasting, “The Us” rightfully refers to this strain of vampirism as “The Extinction”. And unlike doppelgangers and wolfweres, this strain intentionally seeks the rats out. But, not all is lost.
The Cranium Rat has found an unlikely ally through another strain, called Nosferatu. These vampires are born of ugliness, remote places and seclusion from a more beautiful world. They find an odd kinship with these psionic beasts. And for that, they are happy to provide protection. An emerging schism of the vampires seems inevitable. The Strigoi (as the typical vampires are called) of the upper city and the Nosferatu were already at some odds, but the cerebral strain has further complicated things. This has grown all the more complicated as Jiangshi have found themselves escaping the so-called Far Western Lands in Oerth and entering Sigil. Though, the hopping vampires often find themselves in hiding until after-peak draws more near. For the kindred who wish to avoid the bubbling conflict in the city, the Dead District of the Hive seems more than ideal. It helps that the Dead Pact against violence protects them from much conflict with the Dustmen. However, the Dusties remain passive aggressive with any vampire that moves in there. But, for many vampires, such a place is simply too dull for the more decadent and lavish. This is especially the case for ambitious Strigoi. The ones who stay are often less fortunate spawns of more powerful vampires, forced to beg and pay for blood to avoid direct conflict. Some bleakers have even taken pity on them, securing and supplying blood to the sad souls of The Hive. But, not all is sorrow.
Many have climbed their way into inner circles and dark-level social clubs, in the name of status and a new kind of hunt. These vampires have even established a small shrine in the Lady’s Ward, dedicated to an infamous Lord of Vampires found in the Abyss. His name? Kanchelsis. His cult above is The Society of the Rake. They often mix rituals with fine parties, well secured and trapped to prevent victims from escape. For the Nosferatu though, they have made their own division, the Cult of the Blood Beast. Their methods of devotion and worship are far cruder and usually amount to kidnapping those above and dragging them far below. One overly ambitious cultist used magic to sweep up a whole eatery of well-fed customers. Said sod was mazed for going a bit far at once, but said building remains in the Realm Below and not in The Guildhall Ward. Though, Dabus were barmy enough to replicate it. Likewise, they have disposed of the victim’s corpses down below to prevent a mass wave of Nosferatu.
The Other Living Dead
The living dead have existed in the Cage as long as undeath itself has permitted their strange existence. The Dead Nation below Sigil is something of a struggling independent colony. In the ongoing war against the Cranium Rats, the Wolfweres have found them to be a useful asset. The vampires also have their stake in the city. But, they are but one of many. Legions of both corporeal and incorporeal living death have made their kip to some degree. For the more successful? Integration. For the less? Either protected by the Dustmen or forced to squeeze into whatever pockets of darkness will welcome them.
The nefarious shadow has also made its home within the city proper. The most obvious is within the new faction of The Acts of Balance, due to the Dark that they run it from behind the scenes. But, Boundless Cage University isn’t the only place they lurk. But, having secret portals to the Demiplane of Shadow and the Negative Energy Plane within the campus will help immensely. The Realm Below, or UnderSigil, is a particular hot spot for them to gather. The Vortex of Black is a place well haunted by shadows, as well as other types of spectral undead. A Shade Nethermancer occupies this circular room as their own dominion, conversing with the dreadful things that gather. From this spot, they can examine the city above. It is said that the mage is not a Shade, but a transformed Shadow itself. Rather than just feed on the denizens as the light fades, the shadows seek to gather what they can through information and sometimes stolen goods. They’ve slowly carved their own niche within the cross-trade, especially as information brokers. To do this, many will find “safer” points within the Below and disguise themselves, as if to appear as animated objects or something else entirely. Thanks to their mage leader, they’ve been able to puppet bodies of victims to use to gradually increasing success.
Another UnderSigil denizen is the proto-ghoul, living berks on their way into being true ghouls. In the meantime, they’re quasi-undead who happen to have traits of a true one. These quasi-undead are not affected by the wards of priests. Likewise, they must still eat and drink normally or eventually perish… only to rise as true ghouls. Ghouls themselves, even awakened ones, have a tough time in the cage. The only home beyond the Dead district is in Rage Picker’s Square, a dirty mess that wouldn’t pay them much mind… even if they consume one of many expendable robed wanderers. In fact, many ghouls have been seized as a security measure. Anyone foolish enough to investigate the grounds for long enough will meet one of many hungry undead monsters instead. This is to say nothing of the ghouls loosely aligned with the Dead Nation down Below as well.
The Mist Gates of the Prime Material & Beyond
Azalin’s plan only somewhat backfired. If anything, it gave the Dark Powers a new tool to use upon other lands. Misty formations appeared around the many worlds of the prime material, following the folly of the grand mist device. Even upon the planes, new entrances to the dark demiplane formed in key locales. The one in Sigil fully solidified as an active one-way portal, for example. Likewise, the portals in the Demiplane of Shadows and in Gloomwrought solidified as well. Not even Azalin’s estranged agents were aware when they activated several portals. In the end, this was a victory for the Dark Powers, or at least by mortal comprehension. By all means, this could have been a crushing blow. Though any truth to that would only be revealed later.
Within the world of Abeir-Toril, there are numerous entrances into the dark realm. The only one known to the public is within the nation of Cormyr. Within the lower part of Central Arabel, one can accidentally activate a portal through the simplest of means, opening a door at night. But, not just any door, the abandoned tavern known as The Dozing Steed. The tavern was the site of a brutal murder-suicide, in which the owner took the lives of her staff and then herself in a pact with Bhaal, Lord of Murder, in the year 1358 DR. Following the disappearances in the abandoned building, guards actively suppress attempts to further investigate. They also fear the cursed state of the vile building. While they are unaware as to why others have vanished, they are still fearful of others going into a dangerous area. Those who enact this portal often find themselves in either Kartakass or Forlorn. One found in Maztica and into Anchorome is much less concrete, opened by simply burning a mix of meat and leaves in the sky of a new moon. A nearby gate opens by the ritual. It can otherwise appear anywhere within a large swath of land. Often, visitors will find themselves deposited in Kartakass or Valachan after using this doorway.
In the world of Mystara, several domains pull from their home world pretty heavily. The ruins of Ahmed’s house, deep within the deserts of Ylaruam, act as a giant gateway to the domain of Ylar. The cursed Norwald dominion of Nebligtod is largely avoided by the populace, even the mighty mages of Alphatia are reluctant to go there. Simply casting a spell that isn’t known by the Darklord is enough to whisk everyone in the area into the domain. A final one can be accessed, of all places, through the elevator to the top of the Atruighin Plateau. Simply thinking too hard on betrayal or murder while on the elevator can have one taken away to the domain of Acotlaza, sometimes even to the Darklord’s personal residence. An eternally active Mist Gate in Skothar needs no special means of activation, merely surviving the trek to it. This is the Mist Gate that is the land surrounding Blackmoor. This cursed place, has in reality been taken to the Demiplane of Dread. It suffers in a stagnation similar to the Blacklore Elves in the Hollow World. In the material, it is a misty barrier surrounded by an irradiated frozen wasteland.
For other worlds, it is more than possible to meet total doom. Within the world of Krynn, it’s possible to open a Mist Gate by carving the emblem of Vlad’s war band, the Talons of the Falcon, into the ground. This only works within random areas of Thenol, within the lands of Taladas. Those who dare find themselves taken to Falkovnia, to pay dearly for their deeds. Meanwhile, the Prime home of Barovia still suffers from dark secrets and conspiracies. Despite the surviving Queen reviving her husband and restoring peace, the Grand Conjunction also brought some lingering darkness. The Cult of the Pact Master’s Tome formed around the enigmatic Inajira, a figure that the secret cult worships in private quarters. Through their belief in the fiend as a divine icon, they can manifest one way portals into the Demiplane of Dread. This only occurs during a midnight ceremony, by offering a blood sacrifice and praying to an effigy in the Arcanaloth’s likeliness. Most of the cultists from outside the area masquerade as visiting tourists. They have rented space in Vallaki for an extended period of time. Likewise, the Cabin of Doctor Nelsby is a cursed sinkhole of dread. The entire property has a chance at random to bring a trespasser into the Cabin Within the Woods, a pocket domain within Dawnsveil.
Across the planes themselves, the corrupted gateways have formed as well. The Pseudo-Elemental Plane of Vapor is quite possibly born from it! There is proof of another Dukkar, a thankfully failed one. This Mist Gate is actually a broken Domain within the Demiplane, partially connected to the Elemental Plane as well. Beyond there, another grim gates arise. The original Citadel Cavitius still exists in the Negative Energy Plane, however fragmented and broken it may be. It can still take one to the paradox-ridden nightmare of the Burning Peaks, a twin domain cluster fortunately blocked off from the others by a cosmic cordon. Nestled in the deepest grey murk of Hades the Grey Wastes is a gate observed and protected by the Night Hags that gather nearby. To them, it is a sacred thing that can benefit them some day. Portals have likewise appeared within the Abyss and Baator for limited amounts of time, occasionally pulling fiends in as well.
The Rust War
The Machine Cyst has become aware of Augmental and wants it exterminated. The feeling is mutual from their adversaries. Cross-dimensional warfare has begun, as both sides test both meddle and metal. Some scholars would cite this as the next Blood War, but that isn’t true. In fact, the fighting is contained to both technologically inclined demiplanes. Does this mean that it affects only those two? Not at all. Both sides, much like the Blood War, have begun to reach into the wider multiverse for aid. Some approaches are less direct and range from taking bits of gear to kidnapping planars for experiments and weaponizing. Some are more direct, with creating propaganda campaigns to sway others to their side. But, let’s go to the battlefield itself and survey the ways of war.
The first conflicts happened simultaneously, with both sides too busy defending to lend their respective forces more troops. The Battles of the Oil Farm and the Tether Hive started the savage conflicts of machinery. Refineries of Chaotic Oil were bombed out, as the cables that empower the tethered hive were severed. Attempts to stop either were limited at best, resulting massive damage to both respective side. Campaigns have ranged from tactical annihilation of high priority targets to all-out war in attempt to destroy as much of the enemy plane as possible. To continue the Blood War analogy, both sides are well stacked against each other for different reasons. While the Machine Cyst is filled with unflinching logic and direct methodology, they are capable of analyzing matters in seconds and coming to the most rational conclusion. However, Augmental is an unpredictable realm where malfunctions are part of the average process. Nothing works as intended, especially the demiplane’s soldiers. Thus, the Sheen fighters are pushed to compute even further to try to match the strangeness and randomness.
The Blood War was brought up, but it shouldn’t be of great shock that it is involved. Both Baatezu and Tanar’ri respect evil forces of Law and Chaos vying for dominance. As such, the fiends naturally got involved. Many found themselves willfully upgraded by their representing teams’ forms of technology. Of course, their interest is merely a philosophical one at that. In the end, their aid is a means to an end. Plus, many have received all means of techno-magical goods to assist in their own native conflicts. Even Modron and Slaad who have fallen under the influence of evil have been recruited. In the case of the Modron, they see the Rust War as a step towards a “final solution” against the multiverse; total omnicide of anything that faintly clashes with Modron Law, beyond even the Great Modron March. Unlike the Blood War, Rust incursions have happened on other planes and even into the prime, as not enough care has been placed to contain it to the degree as their Lower Planes parallel. Likewise, these demiplanes are otherwise pretty detached from each other.
Die, Terra, Die!
A version of the planet known as Terra has been sent into a doomed frenzy. Things of the multiverse have successfully pierced the particularly strong Dimensional Fabric that shields this world. This version has another name, due to a collision of elements… “Gamma Gothica”, due to its similarities to both Gothic Earth and Gamma Terra. This world would continue to fall into ruination for another century, before it was rebuilt in a strange new image. The current year within the Gothic Calendar of the New Terra is 2217 AD. It is a world reborn of savagery, sorcery and super – science.
In the year 2019 AD, all reality was sentenced to damnation. World War III broke out on November 20th. Only 6 weeks later on January 1st at 1:00, after bloody fights were held both on and off land, matters grew from bad to apocalyptic. A rip in space emerged over Beijing, promptly unleashing a vaporizing beam that cost millions of lives in only seconds. Said rift grew, creating a gateway to a horrible dimension known as the “Negative Energy Plane”, also giving way to another known as the “Pseudo-Elemental Plane of Radiation”. Nearby nations suffered immensely, as the other world funneled lethal power across everything and created blighted landscapes of death… and worse, blighted living dead. It began to move west and south, before swerving into India and across the ocean into the eastern coast of Africa. Only a day after this cosmic abomination emerged, the rift moved over to the Northeastern coast of Canada, causing the same for much of the nation and into the United States. New York City became a grim ghost town of death and suffering in a matter of 1 hour. Likewise, the surrounding areas of the Atlantic Ocean became unusable and extremely dangerous. It soon traveled west, bringing ruin into the Heartland and beyond before ending on the northwestern tip of Mexico. In 3 days, the rifts ceased and WWIII was put into ceasefire due to the “cosmic anomalies” that have wiped out countless millions into billions across the world. However, the remainder of Chinese, Mongolian, Indian, Omani, Somalian, Canadian and American governments demand reparations, pointing blame for the initial nuclear anomaly that devastated the nations.
Sheffield finds its doom from the Cult of Grandma Maggie. After her disappearance, they prepared for 50 years in revenge. As strange energies and vortexes began to manifest around England, they knew the time to strike. On February 2022 AD, they launched an all out assault. First, the struck the villages around the area and then invaded Sheffield. The descendant of the officer responsible for the raid moved there, in hopes of a new life away from her father’s law enforcement career. She was tracked down and held hostage, while the rest of the city was overrun and taken over. From there, the cult drew power from mass sacrifice before moving southward to take more of Britain and later into France. Resistance was met by a secret order in service to the great wizard, Merlin. As England begins to rapidly deteriorate, the order of Merlin bravely battles in hopes of containing the mad cult from taking hold of Europe. Agents of Maggie have already branched off to subvert and bring harm to other lands though.
It would seem that amidst his betrayal, Vlad Drakov does not in fact die amidst the Time of Unparalleled Darkness. His betrayal only left him wounded, needy for an escape. He found the unlikely ally with a vengeful hag within Darkon, Styrix. A technologically-savvy planewalker noted a story logged onto a Terran device. It tells of a city named “Seattle” being brought to its knees by the warlord. Curiously, his technology is far more antiquated than anything this territory should have. It is likely that outside help joined in this conquest in the form of the dread hag, another being who claims to have a mutual enemy in the nation of Darkon. Thanks to a mixture of factors, they became a bolstered war machine of their own. The fall of military forces even lead to Drakov’s forces being supplied with far better technologies. One poignant image of Drakov standing beside the ruins of a “Seattle Space Needle” speaks for itself. Given the shoddy work of the image, it was likely taken by a soldier who did not understand the complexities of a camera. Now he seeks to take hold of the rest of this “Washington” and move outwards, into other parts of the United States and Canada. He does not care for the Scorched Lands. The year was 2030 AD.
Other oddities and atrocities fell upon the world leading up to the “current” age. Astral rifts allowed legions of Githyanki to descend all around Spain and France, beheading all who tried to stop them. Funnels of dark energy allowed demons to break free upon an already ill prepared Australia, allowing the horrors to overrun with great ease. And most curiously, computer networks were struck by a life energy, that pulled out various viruses and bugs and turned them into physical entities. The ensuing living viruses began to enact mass havoc on both machine and living creature alike. Most of this hasn’t been completely solved in the two centuries since the calamity started.
Revolution in the Cage
The mad berks that are the Revolutionary League are finally getting their wish. Recent conflicts, squabbles and growing prejudice has turned much of the Cagers themselves against the factions. While factions remain a staple and essential part of various city services, the public has begun to favor taking matters into their own hands. The foundation of the Sigil Advisory Council is an attempt for lawful and educated civilians to wrangle some claim away from the Lawful Three factions, with much mixed reception and headbutting from them. Some faction members aren’t against jumping ship and joining the council though, including Factol Rhys of the Transcendent Order. Many spurring the aggression and anger forth are deserters that once belonged to one of the current groups. Many are former Guvners, Hardheads or Red Death who became disillusioned with the glaring flaws that are ingrained within each of them. Within 23 daily cycles ago, a cager was captured for sparking damaging riots in the Great Bazaar. It was revealed that he was once a respected officer of the Harmonium, reduced to a blood-hungry barmy lashing against society itself.
Not to mention, many have made a profit off the growing disdain. The infamous King-of-the-Crosstrades has secured power within joint pact effort between other merchant powers, in the event things go sour for the factions. The Planar Trades Consortium has adopted the name of Mutual Trade Association, under the joined leadership of Shemeshka, alongside the likes of Estavan and Zadara. The three of them often bicker, but maintain composure to keep this new power shift operating amidst the turbulence. In the shocking words of Zadara, it’s a mutual means of security in trying times. Furthermore, greater enemies exist beyond trade rivals, best to keep said rivals close by. Others, such as the Gaudy Bard, have been great jink from selling offensive ballads to be weaponized by the right people. After all, the tongue is the deadliest among weapons! Even a far less evil Bard has made his own fare, through the cataloging and selling of books. After all, history must be documented and kept safe. Though, Ramon has only sold to trustworthy sources.
Jink isn’t good enough for some, the dead-book is what many wish upon others. The evil intentions behind the Acts of Balance have started to truly show beyond the Dark. Their University has come under investigation after a “serial murderer” has been kidnapping students belonging to other factions, only for their corpses to be found in The Ditch of the Hive Ward. These events have caused Aileen, University/Centrists’ Dean of Public Relations, to vanish from the public eye entirely. Some suspect her of the murders, others think she’s a victim, most likely she simply fled the faction in fear. Likewise, more shadow creatures have been spotted, especially in the catacombs below. Some of the creatures have tried to influence other incorporeal undead that lurk there. Their first victims, which ultimately spurred the Council onward, were the majority of the Hall of Hunters. The amateur vigilante justice cause had several agents suspecting something deeply wrong about The Centrists, but those secrets were now taken to the grave. Curiously, the Red Death and Hardheads aren’t exceptionally sad about this loss, even if they are busy investigating. As for the faction itself, the Centrists’ actions are hidden behind Chant and then some.
There is one recent case causing much damage now. However, in the case of a defector from The Fated and Scro Rogue named Bo Malgorgarak, her actions were clear. The former Heartless was lost after coming to hate Factol Darkwood and her faction outright. However, clever manipulation allowed her access to Sigil’s secret Spelljammer club. For months, she traveled Wildspace and found more about the life of her ancestors, ultimately landing herself in the company of many pirates. Ultimately, she desired revenge, goading rival pirate crews to funnel into the Dockers’ Catch and through the portal into Sigil. While their raids were short lived, the pirates did much damage and destruction to several faction headquarters, especially The Hall of Records. Bo, herself, was thankfully mazed before carrying out more acts of treachery against the city. The bands of Giff, Humans, Dwarves, Neogi and Scro descended around the city. The portal was locked from the Spelljammer Dock side by dying mages, savagely beaten by the marauders. The pirates were either taken by the Lady’s blades or scattered to the underground. Given how this occurred two daily cycles ago, the pirates are at large and the Spelljammer club is now held in contempt. Worse, evidence shows that the pirates have been helping trapped thugs and brutes of the Combat Ward escape into The Hive to cause more havoc. The Doomguard-backed weapons stations have been sacked and raided efficiently by the blood mongering outlanders. As to why most of them haven’t been mazed yet is a curiosity. However, the Sinkers aren’t too sad about these events, so says the Chant.
This isn’t to say all the conflict is in the name of just “a good time”. Samuel “Soulful Sammy” Pitch, a Primer from Terra, sees this as an opportunity for proper revolution. To him, the factions and institutional powers have grown complacent with a broken system. While he too has had his bands raid weapons caches, he almost always distributes his findings out to poorer residents of the Lower and Hive Wards. Likewise, he has intentionally sought out several Anarchists in hopes that they’d help his cause. Many have outright turned stag from their cells to join Pitch’s movement for what they consider justice. His methods and calls to action are something not really seen within Sigil, due to his history as a miner within the land of Oklahoma during early 20th Century AD. As such, secured caches of smokepowder have been formed into blocks of dynamite and bombs, which have been readied against “wicked establishments”, alongside his uprising. Oddly enough, some of their largest critics are the Young Cage Organizers for Democracy, who prefer less drastic means for revolution. Other conflict comes in the form of other chaotic factions, revelers and those obsessed with raw destruction especially. Samuel and those with him despise the Doomguard and the non-goodly among the Revolutionary League in particular. What has been learned of The Fated, The Acts of Balance and the “Lawful Three” hasn’t been pleasing either. Despite being a primer, he has strangely gained clout quickly and hasn’t been mazed yet somehow. Perhaps people like him help put the factions and emerging guilds to the test first? It helps that he’s bidding his time to spread his message first. However, recent securing of “radiant weaponry” after a daring break into The Prison has put the group on high alert.
Not everyone wants to bash a skull or make a killing (figuratively or literally). While the newly formed council holds the factions in contempt, it wants to defeat them when they commit wrongs and act illegally, including with the Lawful Three. The council wants stability for The Cage and wants to prevent the escalating commotions around the wards. Likewise, a shadow branch of the Mercykillers seeks to secretly hearken back to their goodly roots. These so-called “Sons of Mercy” have worked with council members in secret to ensure that city action, outside of the factions, keeps the peace. Some fed up Harmonium have even pitched in the effort, after stumbling upon it. The Young Cage Organizers for Democracy have thrown support and aid to the Council, especially in lieu of the mass murders of a vigilante group in the Clerk’s Ward. Not all within the Council are noble. Many are an active part of the Planarists, pinning the misfortune and outbreaks of violence on the influx of Primers. Bands of pirates, bomb-throwing revolutionaries and more have played well into their agenda. And while a dangerous member of The Ritual of the Heart, one whistleblower by the name of Grandmother Grimcloak has supplied visions and fortunes in regards to a Faction War, making the current squabbles the least of her worries. Her seer-like talents speak of such calamity happening within the next 10 years of “her sister’s calendar”. This refers to the calendar of Toril, used by Greilinia. The captured werepanther admitted as such to authorities after admitting to the crimes of the tavern. While freed, she has been forced to work with a citizen’s watch members from Petite Renardie to help bust the tavern members.
IMAGE CREDIT: Tomasz Jedruszek – Street Riot; Svetlin Velinov – Howlpack Alpha; Alix Branwyn – Doppelganger; Z-GrimV – V20 Dark Ages Nosferatu; Nic Klein – Evernight Shade; Lee Avison – Creepy Gateway at Night in Fog; Lee Smith – Blackmoor Age of the Wolf; Boali Dash – Seattle Post-Apocalypse; Ryan Pancoast – Unruly Mob
2 thoughts on “In Which Calamity Reigns – More Planescape Lore”
Oh God, what is happening!?
The ripples of the ToUD are felt throughout all of space and time. New portals have been established and the growing amount of denizens of dread in the cage shows that not all these portals are one-way. Luka’s children get to visit his childhood home in Cormyr, and are expanding the family business. And it seems a few of Alfred Timothy’s cultists have infiltrated the Ritual of the Heart if there stilted reverence of Malar is anything to go by.
The Dopplegangers find mixed success in the cage, with the help of the Riddler, er, Mr E.
Vampires war and rats scream in the Hive Ward. Honestly, the only good news on that front is A: The cerebral vampires seem to be able to consume psychic plagues and B: The nosferatu get adorable rat buddies to tell their problems to.
As for all the shades, shadows, and other horrors, I’m convinced they’re all a Fraternity of Shadows plot. Cause seriously, those guys are like the Osiris Club from Hellboy, they’re always somewhere.
The Rust War is ramping up and triggers an industrial revolution in the lower planes. Asmodeus now has laser beams and the imps learn to code, while the Abyss waits for Tetsuo the Ironman to take the stage. God knows what will happen once the DPs get their claws into it.
Oh, horror of horrors, The Dark Powers now have Nuclear Powers! Forget the Red Death and the Jade Horror, all will fear the Radiant Evil! Strix abandonds Vlad here, just as a final middle finger to Azalin, and the man finds his inner Immortan Joe and begins to conquer America. Still, this land opens up a new realm of references. Planet of the Apes, Snowpiercer, Zardoz. Gamma Gothic has potential.
Ending again in the Cage, pirates, revolutionaries, and Union activists with nuclear weaponry, oh my!
The multiverse is going mad, the Mists are spreading, and the worst horrors are unleashed upon unsuspecting worlds. And these worlds need heroes! And if one certain vampire’s better nature one out, they may yet have one.
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I assure you that many mist-displaced monsters are anomalies, hiccups caused by the Mist Gate fiasco and relating anomalies. Exiting is as rare as Planar Travel to/from Athas. Though, I’ve had a number of Athasians sucked into the Great Wheel anyway… It’s more so the fault of the Kargatane than the Fraternity of Shadows, but other nasties have found their ways out too (assuming that they aren’t Darklords).
As for the Shades? It’s just The Acts of Balance getting real. They caught wind of the mad seer talking about The Faction War and they’re getting ready!
Also, Gamma Gothic was 80% inspired by Sci-Fi Channel’s underrated cult gem, Blood Drive, legit.