Alleissa, the protege of Midwife Mebbeth can do more than treat what ails ya and talk about the art a bit. Did you know I have some knack for fortunes and looking at possible events? Don’t just take my word for it… Gaze into this crystal ball and allow me to show you. Why are you reluctant? Despite this adorable fuzzy rodent face, I swear I won’t call ‘The Us’ to you. Between you and I, the Brain-Muncher Vampires from the Below make better friends than the Cranium Rats… at least the ones who aren’t too barmy. Anyway, divination. Sure! Let me see likely scenarios and the unlikely…
Hmm… Hmm… Oh my… All of these look rather grim. Day to day in the Cage already brings its own ample bad news. But, one always finds a way to adapt and perhaps normalize the horrors around them. On a much better note, good can always come from these bad events. After all, a mad tinker “pure blood” married I, a witch and a mutant. I already know the next of kin will be healthy. Plus, I’ve made sure many young in The Hive live and grow, in addition to seeing their own first light of day. Even the aging and old, they’ve continued better thanks to my mentor and later me. So, perhaps that’s a sign of positives among rather negative days. But, onto the readings themselves, I warn you that the foreboding you sense is warranted. Dark things lie ahead. Do you still want to hear more? Should you not want to, it’s understandable.
Author’s Note: Alleissa, the rat mutant, returns. This is just a series of scenarios based on what CAN happen with the plot hooks I set up. I don’t know if I’ll touch on them beyond this or the after effects. After all, you’re all free to use my plot hooks as you’d like. And yes, I straight up ripped off the Halo trilogy and a bit from Buckaroo Banzai! Likewise, let’s tie up some plots with the Acts of Balance. For now, I want to close the door on some Planescape metaplot. And with that, have some Sigilian nightmares this chilly season.
You maniacs, you blew it up!
A blanket of light came before Sigil as it always has. The light boys were done for the night. Afterpeak passed, day returned, Peak drew near. But what followed, no one could have predicted. In the Clerk’s Ward, there was a boom followed by a self-contained green cloud which rose up from Vrischika’s Curiosity Shoppe and nearby properties. Other small guilds found themselves trapped in radiant boxes too. As if intentionally quartered off by force walls, the explosion swirled and whirled as debris rattled within the box. But, the visuals and blasting sounds were far from cut off. It’s unknown if the Alu-Fiend was destroyed, but many suspect her fleeing. However, the charred corpse of a servant, Standish, was found close by clutching some sort of keepsake. What should have been the usual brightness of Peak was washed by a glow of calamity. Several more were penned in the book. In no time, factions took to the streets to bicker and argue, accusing of a faction war. And that was before the Young Cager’s building was destroyed too. For what it was worth, someone tipped them off to stay home, save for one brave or barmy soul. That too was wasted. The office of Dr. Frulgman P. Elbworth, a Fated consultation expert, was wrapped in the flaming container as he was violently vaporized. His role in recent labor exploitation cases was not unnoticed. The Wonder Workshop, due to many more incidents involving the consultant, made it prime grounds for total destruction. Many incredible artificer creations were subsequently lost… Even the containing field almost gave way under stress. Due to the above, only those sites were targeted.
Or this would be the case, save for Soulful Sammy revealing himself with a glowing radiant dagger in Factol Darkwood’s back. The Factol had retreated to catacombs below the Hall of Records, through secret passages known to him and a slain traitor… and now Sammy. As he emerged not far from one of the “known” stairs to UnderSigil, his latest assassin materialized in full. The power within the artifact was most unnatural, with all magic and ability sapped from the infamous Fated Duke. Energy faded from the much maligned public figure, as Sammy dragged him into public view. As he readied a public proclamation, the artifact glowed a sickly green light and wrapped around the nearly-successful revolutionary assassin. Following agonizing screams of his own, he was gone. Countless onlookers rushed to the fallen Factol. As much as he tries to brush them off, they shockingly help him. As for the ringleader of the horrors, Sammy was not mazed, for he vanished before the Lady got to him. And with him, the rest of the contraband weapons cache was gone as well. But, as he vanished, the wall that contained the radiance shattered. The deadly energy began to flood through the Clerk’s Ward, Lower Ward and into the Guildhall Ward and The Hive.
Many cleared out as the massive figure came to survey over the devastation. In her wake, flayed bodies had emblems of radical revolution discarded to their sides. Above and below, those serving Sammy were purged without warning. “Preserver” mages from New Tyr and others from some unknown Astral colony joined druids to tone down the foul radiance, restoring livability within 3 days. Rebuilding would likely take longer. Several Bleakers, Indeps, Sensates and Signers from the area quickly pitched in as well. Even Defiers, Takers and Godsmen pitch in; if only to prove the correctness of their own beliefs. Not all of these purifiers survived. Chaosmen try to soak up as much radiance as possible, as do some Sensates. Many of them die. The Dead gain permission to study the bodies, learning if this power can bring upon Final Death. Far from unified, several Anarchists took it upon themselves to testify innocence to the Hall of Speakers, City Court or any place that would hear them out. Other cells denounced the above as liars and posers who didn’t believe in revolution. The majority merely stayed silent and watched. While everyone knew it, the Sinkers silently celebrated the massacre. When asked, they grumbled over their lack of role in any of it. The act of arresting several factotums over suspicion of terrorism did not sit well with them.
As brightness rose to Peak, matters once again look grim. More dead are found in the rubble of the shopping outlet and the work stations. Mercykillers and Harmonium take to the streets and fend off opportunistic looters and idealistic rioters who took to the damaged for their own reasons. Even “E the Advisor” has lent his talents to both the Hardheads and the new Advisory Council. As idealogues and raiders took underground, the Temple of Tchernobog was found amidst the mayhem. However, it was completely abandoned, as was its building above. Only Sammy, Sammy’s (now dead) allied rebels and the Cabal in the temple knew of the 20th century Gothic Earth origins. The mutual disappearance is curious and disturbing, even if the revolutionaries and cabal hated each other… All published in a neat little guide soon after, somehow. How did the Narrator come upon this information? Trade-dark, that is! In the end, the documents that were uncovered from hideouts and secret caches unveiled focus against anything they deemed oppressive or wicked. This includes the guilds, the factions, the Lady of Pain herself, the primary establishments of Sigilian society, even the Revolutionary League too. But, their first target being a supposed slaver was an intentional statement. Likewise, the unleashing of radiance upon the wider city was accidental. None the less, the Day of Radiance remains infamous. What comes next is anyone’s guess? In the meantime, we must be weary, for this Samuel character cannot be reasoned with and his zealots still ready for their chance. Perhaps they can be stopped before it’s too late.
The Multiverse of Unparalleled Madness
The Mists, energies of a dark demiplane, have pushed out into reality. The Prison Realm of Dread has torn itself apart and its worst facets have spilled upon greater reality! The Time of Unparalleled Darkness was the beginning! Much like the plans of the Grand Conjunction, those who didn’t die for good were released. Fortunately, not many Darklords endured the upheaval to end all. The Waking Nightmare, more than anything, has proved to be the most powerful of foes. However, a dark irony now haunts it as the Dark Powers’ final act of revenge. It is stretched thin across the multiverse. It cannot assimilate, it cannot create. It can haunt dreams as the Nightmare Court did before, but it cannot control others through them as easily. But, it can reach across distant aeons, it can reach out to other cosmic forces to bring it aid. It is aware of eldritch deities locked in death-like slumber. It desires their aid in exchange for their own return upon the worlds and beyond. Great Old Ones, Elder Gods, it does not matter to The Waking Nightmare in the end. It seeks entropic chaos, madness unlike anything seen and a return to power to sculpt reality into a horror that one can never awaken from.
But, how does such an evil take place? How does it leap across the planes without truly touching them? 8th Dimensional Leaping! Such a theory was only pondered by polymaths, greybeards and sages of old and new alike. But, it is quite true. A recent experiment with a osculating astral cart did more than pierce planes, it pierced through heavily stubborn dimensional fabric in the prime. The result? A parallel universe resting on the prime, one linked to alternate timelines of the planes as well! And from this alteration, the Unparalleled Darkness gained power. And worse, by leaving the fabric open, the Waking Nightmare knew more than a multiverse. No, an omniverse, multiverse beyond time itself! However, such an evil is constrained in so much as it is stretched thin after taking to all reality. It remains a malignant force akin to the worst that the Dark Powers offer. But, it is far from weak. it can influence those who seek grim desires, twist their dreams, meld them into its nightmare minions. However, it needs help. The Ancient Ones can be reached by this veil. Many alone have taken slumber within a version of Terra.
The brief destabilization of reality has had its ripples. An alien race that travels alongside a parallel reality has finally found the time to strike. The Clans of the Void Sift are purple-skinned humanoids with a knack for psychic illusions and being able to disguise themselves as native populations in mere seconds. They seek to gain power while stealing all information and resources possible, before leaving and continuing their process. While they have no deep admiration for the Nightmare, they owe it significant gratitude for allowing their invasion to expand…. perhaps more successfully than the nightmare itself. Out of fear, they have been capturing and manipulating powerful arcanists who might blow their cover, doing whatever they can to continue their hidden harvests. Some races that were previous victims of the Void Sift have emerged into the void as well. They are desperate to get the word out, to alert anyone who can listen. Their final mission is thus, to alert all about these 8th Dimensional invaders who shall stop at nothing and take everything. And worse, they are aided by the Waking Nightmare in a mad twist of fate. What can we do? Perhaps finding those Mist Gates could help, as long as we educate ourselves in the wickedness of this Nightmare.
The Mob Rules
Cross-Trade is inevitable, but what if it wins? Would one believe it all starts with a few cracks in the infrastructure? In the case of Dmitri Markov, brother of the infamous tavern owner, cross-trade was simple business. But, he proved a rather smart basher. In short, his methods involved pointing out the flaws in others work with the aid of animal manipulation, mist movement and other “unique talents” bestowed upon him. He is in secret, one of the undead. He is vampyr, the bloodsucking dead walking. But, few know what insidious plans he aspires towards. In the end, they moved towards teaming with other guilds and businesses, feeding on their worst impulses and anxieties and playing them off each other. Figuratively and literally, he made a killing. But, he’s no cross-trade king, just a means of paving an easier street for the real ones in charge. What came of him? Well, let’s just say that detractors realized his aversion to certain hours of Peak and his charred body sits near The Greeter of The Slags.
So, what terrible reality does he paint through shed blood? In Primer speak, crime and lots of it. Cross-trade in every faction, plenty of looking eyes, agents and fine manipulators. Every group and guild has been well seeded. Anything that goes against a Cross Trader Supreme? It ain’t happening or the cause will be rooted out. Maybe you’ll see a body floating in the pool behind the physician office. No matter the case, corruption thrives, so long as it plays nice with the Lady’s status quo. On the outside, everything operates normal. But, dig a little and the politics is far grimmer than what you could expect now. The Guvners aren’t really making the rules, the Takers aren’t keeping the records, the Hardheads aren’t the ones really policing, the Deads aren’t disposing the corpses, etc. It’s all coming from somewhere else. So, you have the means of thinking, right? Should this come to pass, either fight it before it gets too strong or just don’t question the little quirks of this new day to day life. It’s a matter of staying protected versus forces that be finding you. Should the factions fall, this dark possibility will grow more grim.
“If you hear these thoughts, turn back! The outbreak has become too powerful, leave now. The quarantine has failed! They aren’t Githyanki, they aren’t Illithid, they’re something new. Retreat, while you still can!” – Hur’Zatai, fallen Githzerai Monk
The creatures known as Dusanu or “Rot fiends” are mostly known to the Known World of Mystara and other parts of the world. Likewise, Mystaraspace has held its share of the fungaloid monsters. However, there is said to be a distant cousin that has caused much trouble in the past. Ultimately, life within a chunk of Mystaraspace was purged to suppress the evil. Or, that was supposed to be the case. The so-called “Space Dusanu” is a new breed of fungal menace, capable of hijacking hosts, mutating them heavily and bringing them into a wretched hivemind. Unlike Dusanu, the figures do not become skeletal, but their biomass is replaced by disgusted rot-colored and bloated fungal mass. A common sign of their infestation is stretching or pushing back to the head to make way for sensory stalks emerging from the host body. A central hive “rot mind” controls the wretches and feeds them information. But, beyond a hard to get to Crystal Sphere, how would it affect the planes? And more so, where does it come from?
One such being as wicked and horrid as the Illithid, the Neh-Thalggu. The so-called “Brain Collectors” were once a space-faring civilization all their own within Blackmoor’s distant past. And within their clutches were incredible magics and technologies used for all means of evil experiments. Among one of them was finding ways to preserve their species for all eternity, going as far as reducing aspects of themselves to minute size and applying fungal properties. In the end, something went wrong. The specimens mutated into their own parasitic being, one capable of using hosts for its own ends. Curiously, Neh-Thalggu were immune to infection, but not against mutant hosts slaying the brain collectors by the droves. In time, the facilities were purged with only samples remaining in secretive locations. Among them? A secret underground bunker within Blackmoor, which was preserved through chronomancy. After dust settled within modern Skothar, the facility was uncovered by modern explorers who accidentally unleashed the infestation upon not only the Prime, but the Planes. Escaping Mystara’s “planes” was easy, venturing into the true Wheel was not much harder. Their points of interest were made more dangerous through the Astral Plane, where they learned of new realities to shape as their own. Their first target upon the planes? A Githyanki astral outpost. Prepared for the works of mind flayers, the Gith planar rangers were cut down in surprise… and with them, greater knowledge of the planes and their enemies swelled into the ranks of this new foe.
In the end, knowledge of such terror does not exist in the void. In fact, terrors of the Brain-Collectors span well beyond Mystara and into the Galactic Federation that accidentally encountered Blackmoor. What crashed into the world below was a survivor vessel, from a world ravaged by the horrors of their own hubris. By the lost words of Federation record, the Neh-Thalggu may have once been a separate race that belonged to the federation, mutated and warped by warfare and weaponry. And the subsequent experiment creating the fungal fiends? A way of weaponizing their own to defeat their nemesis. It worked, but far too well. The Fungal Fiend does not discriminate. For its hivemind, it is peace and it is salvation. This did not sit well with those who opposed it. However, the only way to stop it? Kill its food, organic life. Super-weapons exist for such purpose, to eradicate all organic life within several galactic radii. It’s likely that such machines exist within Mystaraspace alone, perhaps other spheres. And should they activate, all life is doomed. It’s possible that these ancient machines will need use to stop the Space Dusanu, at the cost of everything.
All that is known of them is that such possible creations were made by a Gith precursor race that existed far before the Illithid captured them in the first place. Records of heretic cults against various Gith doctrine proclaim that the proto-humans that would later become the gith were using chronomancy to guide a path towards meeting the Illithid, to obtain some of their psionic potential. However, the Fungal Fiends made it so such plans were incomplete, allowing their future kin to become enslaved. Ultimately, most of the precursors were annihilated in the activation of their super-weapons. Only a few heretic cults of Githzerai and Githyanki have discovered the hidden history. Many of them are willing to cooperate, in the name of purging a greater threat. However, much like the Gith history under the Illithid revolt, twisted authority corrupted an emerging religious order. A new hierarchy formed, with various knowledge among each rank. The Hagiarchs are the all-knowing and all-powerful. By their words, the pilgrimage to the ancient relics is not a chance at death, but ascension. And with the outbreak of Space Dusanu, the zealots are on their crusade to bring life to the ancient weapons and purge all life. But to them, it’s their divine rite into a glorious great beyond. As of yet, the contagion is still locked, but this vision shows that both the ancient order against them as well as fools who seek dark knowledge could bring this doom upon the planes.
The Faction War
I knew you sensed this one coming. It seems inevitable. Bad moods between the factions is eternal, but it’s a keg filled with that powder that the Giff pirates love. Eventually, it’ll explode. So, what happens within the Cage itself? Oh, let me recant terrible things to you. For starters, be thankful we have a ward over this here building. Plenty would have my head for this. But, it starts with one man. The Fated’s own Duke Rowan Darkwood. While problems have emerged, he has pushed them to their furthest point, their logical conclusion. But, what villainous deeds will he commit or has he committed in shadow? Nothing was really revealed until the end. Fortunately, a little divination and chronomancy got me quite far, huhuhu. But, what are the sins of the Factol? Allow me to provide context and then recite the future, as he has envisioned. I warn you, he shall doom us all and it would be impossible to end his corrupt schemes.
The Cage is a keg of smokepowder, doomed to ignite some day. And here… it does. Over the years, idealism became fanaticism, as the mind toxin of idealism often does. Many factions prepared for conflict. The Free League was visited by the Revolutionary League, with advice of preparing for the end. Likewise, the Harmonium and Mercykillers met with each other, anticipating an eventual attack. Noticing the Harmonium, the Doomguard too began to prepare. All of that grew far worse when Pentar, Factol of the Doomguard, vanished. The Doomguard accuse both the Harmonium and the Society of Sensation of foul play and demand comeuppance. The Harmonium demands that the Doomguard relinquish the Armory from what they perceive as a threat of war. It also starts with Darkwood’s loose alliance to the Factol of the Mercykillers, Nilesia. The two were to be married and Duke Darkwood was to be trusted power within the Mercykillers. The Mercykillers quickly fracture, not long after their true factol also vanishes. The Harmonium and Doomguard alike begin to prepare for the inevitable, as a cold war occurs with stockpiling weapons and gathering allies. Factols continue to vanish as sides were formed with the Enemies of Peace and the Oppressors of Sigil. The Xaositects join the former after the Harmonium get involved in their trauma, as assassination claims the Hardhead Factol. Retaliation strikes the Anarchists as even the Sensates are attacked for considering the Harmonium in the first place. The splintered Mercykillers return to the Sons of Mercy and Sodkillers, who jump between the oppressors and enemies respectively. It doesn’t help that the Chaosmen kill the Factol of the Guvners.
The first of several battles take place in the Cage as all is torn asunder! The Battle for the Armory is a shock to many, but not a surprise. The Hardheads were planning this for a while, so it was a bomb ready to boom. The Oppressors push through Enemies barricades and other defenses in attempt to take what they feel was already theirs. The Enemies were defeated as Sinker weapons brought ruin to the Armory. The Fraternity of Order, Believers of the Source and the Sign of One join the Oppressors; The Athar join the Enemies. A counter attack on the Civil Festhall ensues, as the Hardheads, Sensates and joining Martyrs had received words of this. A defense continues in the Lower Ward, until an incursion of the Tanar’ri breaks and degenerates matters rapidly. Baatezu soon joined the growing cluster of madness, causing no decided victor of the conflict. Only Tanar’ri and Sodkillers claimed an ensuing massacre of those holed up in the Festhall. They ain’t the only Planars interested in this. Modrons investigating matters in Sigil had turned their attention to destroy both Slaad and Fey present in the city. The Unseelie-owned Simmering Cauldron is evaporated by a powerful artifact of Mechanus as the fey trapped inside are brought to final death in an instant. Werebeasts, the Nosferatu and various other horrors take their chance to claw down the order figures of Sigil. However, the Strigoi, Wyldfolk and Rustic Sphere Team try to appease the law by aiding them. Meanwhile, Signers invaded and destroyed the Shattered Temple of The Lost, only to be driven back and weakened. Another powder keg, ironically, was from a sect gaining momentum into a faction, “The Acts of Balance” or The Centrists. The Mortal Vessel of their factor was obliterated in crossfire from both the Oppressors and Enemies. Boundless Cage was a neutral shelter, with a dark ulterior motive. The Shadows of UnderSigil was harvesting these innocents for food and shock troops. However, their plans were accelerated from the attack. Numerous campus buildings were razed as violence poured in. From the corpse of the Factol, a great shadow emerged and a new war began. All in the faction were immediately murdered and converted, save for a factor who fled the city well before. The dark forces of these creatures assembled and began to tear through the city, slaying the living and building an unliving army. Assembled clerics of the Lady’s Ward, undeterred by the Faction War, joined in brief moment to help end this new destruction. However, they didn’t stop the shades from slaying factioneers by the droves. Fortunately, the shadow faction’s objective to bring in the Entropic Gloom to enact Mist Gates upon Sigil fails, but for only one reason… And just like that, matters grew worse before they got better.
All portals stop working, all are trapped in the cage. Fiends were furious about their ensnarement, making the streets even more terrifying. Meanwhile, supplies dwindle as combatant and civilian alike consider taking their own lives. Civilian militias form with a faction extermination policy, petitioning the Dabus for the end of factions. All the while, guerilla warfare is enabled to murder anyone suspected of Faction involvement. Many acknowledge the doom of their city, seeing this as a last ditch effort. Many guilds use their limited resources to aid and sponsor the militias, as factions consider surrender to avoid further violence against them. Likewise, Venom Tongue copycats capture their same style and methods, even though the original killer was never caught. The Transcendent Order, who had gone into hiding resurface and immediately surrender while offering any help they can. Likewise, the Bleak Cabal attempts to help restore order as the Dustmen try to rid the many dead. One final act of damage helps to tip the scales, as Anarchists enraged that The Mad would stay neutral decide to release most inmates of the Gatehouse. Many supplies are destroyed as militias return to their attacks until all factions stand down and sign a truce. In the end, it shall not matter. The Lady of Pain makes a final decree in response to all of this. Through the dabus, there is this ultimatum: “This city tolerates your faction no longer. Abandon it or die.”
But, this goes a bit deeper. For starters, the Factol Rowan Darkwood is likely involved with an ancient wizard who promises him control of the city in exchange for removing competition and the Lady herself. Seduced by power, surely he shall take up the deal. No one knows what happened to him, but many have ideas. Some say he merged with the wizard and became a powerful being, ultimately mazed by the Lady of Pain and grabbed by The Dark Powers. Some say he continued his mad conspiracy in a parallel timeline/reality, all while this one recovers. Perhaps he was even assassinated by Cirily of the Planarists. In the case of the last one, this growing guild claims that they helped restore peace by removing the Primer element and that Clueless started all of this. Her blatant xenophobia has become more popular within the city, with the new forces of law often playing crimes more casually when they occur against a Primer. Likewise, Primers are targeted more too. Many other guilds and orders yearn for the days of the factions, likewise taking their wrath out on primers. Travel from prime worlds to Sigil lessons, as sheer bigotry becomes the mainstream.
In terms of everyone not in the fight, several factioneers just want out, but the only out they’ll get is a quick one or the dead book. It looks like that damned bard stayed around, only to see his own livelihood and family lost tragically. Poor berk. I see another example coming in clearly… An Indep safe house squeeled out by traitors to the Oppressors of Sigil. A raid is conducted, overrunning the place and killing a mass of unarmed faction deserters who weren’t interested in the conflict. Rolando Lordren… a friend, oh no, he’s there too! I’ve seen enough. He’s a basher who prefers to be called “Lanky”, good blood. In the end, it doesn’t look to matter. The Factions were considered too hostile by the Lady and they were forced to drop all philosophical pretense or leave the city. And by all means, that was it. The Guilds, which were starting to gain prominence and power, become truly supreme following the end of factions. But, old ugly politics rears its head and problems will begin anew. Please wait here, I need to visit a good friend. Or come with me, perhaps it’s best if we all meet up and escape this wretched city. My husband has charted several points of egress, for that matter. Let’s hope this vision isn’t from the near future. Regardless of your decision, I must go now. Should all go well, there are several safe-houses upon the planes and beyond where you might find me. Please, seek me out should all transpire down this path. The worst part of it all? This looks more than inevitable. I am deeply certain of it… Dammit, Lanky, I’ll find you!
The protege flees from her makeshift midwife’s hut, leaving a dying fire to fade on its own. Several pages in her books for divining are turned to mythical artifacts, as well as several names. Among them is “The Editor”, with notes revealing hints about him. The scrambled sprawl points to him associating with the Friendly Fiend, but little else.. However, another series examines “The Narrator”. Alleissa suspects it to be none other than Factol Tomas Kjulgolor, of The Acts of Balance. Likewise, that he is tied to a strange cabal interested in strange dimensional activity. There is no time to ponder these conspiracies too deeply, at least not yet. Now is the time for action.
IMAGE CREDIT: Toni DiTerlizzi – Wererat; Otomo – Akira panel; Jacob Probelski – Arcanaloth; Timi Honkanen – Flood combat form; Zdzislaw Beksinski – landscape image; TSR Inc – Faction War cover