Down and Dirty in the Dust

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The Burning Rocks (by Belarius)

Hearsay: Rumours tell of a large chunk of matter deep in Dust which gives off a glow strong enough to see 50 feet away (through solid dust). It's warm (though not hot), and almost indestructible. Word has it some bashers have set up shop there, but it sounds like screed to me -- the place is a bad omen, for those who venture close to it are rarely seen again!

Description: The Burning Rocks are a jumble of tightly-packed rocks clumped in a roughly spherical formation. They give off a reddish glow which seems to seep through the dust farther than light should be able to. The entire affair is huge, over a mile to the side.

The Rocks themselves are quite warm to the touch (a little warmer than skin), and as bright as a good lantern up close. Their size range from a few feet across to hundreds of yards in diameter. There are narrow spaces between the rocks, but most are narrow enough that a modron couldn't pass.

Special Conditions: The Rocks are, as the chant implies, very difficult to damage. Nothing short of disintegration even dents them, and even that spell only works at one tenth effectiveness. It is believed that the Rocks represent a very dense sort of matter which takes a very long time for Dust to break apart. The battle between Dust (to destroy) and the Rocks (to remain intact) is also thought to be the source of heat and light.

An interesting result is that Dust's normal effects (disintegration, choking dust, cobwebs, and dust devils) are not a problem deep among the rocks -- they somehow negate the disintegration. The plane's dust never quite makes it all the way to the centre of the mass, and there isn't room for a dust devil to form. That, and the plane's warmth and light make it a comfortable resting area.

The chant's right that a community exists here, but it's wrong about its nature. The Rocks, which seem to protect from the plane's nature (see above) have become a long-term resting area for those who need time to rest. The community itself is anarchistic, no group staying more than a month or two. At any time, forty or so people have tents or magical bubbles set up in different places among the Rocks. Many have no contact with the other areas.

These visitors are not the only life in the Rocks. A few strains of heat-absorbing plants (suspected of being native to Ash) have found silty soil to take root in - the wary traveller will avoid contact with them until they have been killed: they are deadly to warm-blooded animals.

The most dangerous trait of the Rocks, however, is that it contains at least three vortices to the Glowing Dunes, the border between Magma and Radiance. The Glowing Dunes cause a disease or curse which even magic cannot cure [Author's Note: It's actually radiation poisoning], and lingering near these vortices will inflict the victim with this disease. Why the Glowing Dunes and the Burning Rocks are connected remains a mystery to scholars, but the most accepted theory indicated that the Burning rocks are actually a substance which can be found in the Glowing Dunes (though no one has checked), but that Dust has rendered most of it harmless.

Current Chant: Two groups resting in the Rocks has disappeared, and a third has spread rumours of glowing many-limbed creatures lurking near the Glowing Dunes vortices. It certainly seems that something from the Dunes has found its way into the Rocks.

On a happier note, a few air elementalists have set up wind barriers in a pocket of the Rocks (which keeps out nearly everything native to the plane) and are building a campground for travellers. Word has it that they are even planning to grow food to eat (so travellers will be able to eat something other than the heat-draining plants, which are a hassle to gather).

[Author's Notes: Interestingly enough, I got the idea from the phrase 'Burning the Rocks,' a term used to describe the concept of using matter-to-energy conversion as a power source. The Burning Rocks are essentially neutronium -- and since AD&D's gravity system is not mass-specific, the Rocks aren't crushing. It does make them heavier than lodestone, tougher than tungsten, and as durable as a wall of force, though.]

The Castle of Sand (by Rip van Wormer)

The Castle of Sand is a site the dust quasielementals return to time and again; a stern fortress crafted of compressed quasielemental matter. Though the borders of Ooze lap against it and it at times it wears away almost to nothing, the slaves of the quasielementals continually build it up again as the first bastion against an invasion of ooze sprites or mephits.

The Dark: The races of Ooze have no interest in the plane of Dust, and the castle has only been useful once in its history, against a Goop Dragon disoriented by a particularly mood-altering region of the quasi-elemental plane. The judges and warlords of Dust are apparently labouring in vain, unless you listen to the rattlers who say that the Castle is actually built not for defence but for invasion.

Castle Staubenfest (by Jens)

The Castle Staubenfest can be found in some remote part of the plane. It is the domain of a peculiar creature, presumably a dust mephit with an attitude. His castle is made of dust and sand, constantly collapsing, constantly rebuild by an army of sandlings and dust devils, but it is a hopeless struggle against the nature of the plane.

The Count suffers from great emotional fluctuations, between euphoria and gloomy depression. Depending on his current mental state, he might be friendly (though arrogant) towards visitors, or harass them with nonsense, or just ignore them. Asked who he is, he might answer like this:

"Please allow me to introduce myself, I'm a man of tragedy, experience. I am the essence, I am the sand. To you I am the harbinger of grief, I mean a suffering eternal. My name is not important, but you may call me by my name, the Count Udolf von Stauben. The light of day is alien to me, my time is always only shades. Nourish me and quench my thirst, for I do long for this bubbling blood that runs through your veins. Oh, wait, the rhymes didn't fit, I have to start over all again. Please, excuse me now."

Sometimes, he invites travellers to his Castle, to have a rest in its dusty halls, have a dry dinner, or just cheer him up with chatter. He doesn't seem very dangerous, just a bit barmy and out-of-touch with reality. People who have met other dust mephits may think that he's just pretending, a fool, no more harmful to them than any other of his pathetic kind.

But in fact, he is a creature of the negative, part mephit, part something-else, and a real vampire, including all the powers of one. As a dust mephit, however, he can drink elemental essence as easy as blood, so he doesn't have to drink the blood of guests. As long as they behave friendly and talkative, he is polite, too.

The Cathedral of Cobwebs (by Jon Winter)

On the Prime, rooms which are neglected long enough to be dusty are usually full of cobwebs too. Some cutters believe these cobwebs are made by spiders, who use them to catch food. Natives of Dust know better.

Some cobwebs are spun by spiders, for certain, but not all. Long before the ten-legged beasties ever existed, say the legends, the Cathedral of Cobwebs has stood in one of the deepest areas of Dust, ever-growing. The place now is immense, spanning many many miles indeed, composed of countless chambers, halls, web tunnels and mazeworks of silken threads. In parts, the webs are strong enough for your average planewalker to climb across, shimmy down, and hold onto for support. In other places, the webstrands are deceptively weak, and a careless cutter can easily fall, become horribly entangled and suffocate or even be strangled. That is, assuming he's not eaten by the natives first...

Oh sure, not all webs are spun by spiders, but spiders do love webs whatever their origin. The Cathedral of Cobwebs has become something of a utopia for the creatures, and some of the halls and passageways are infested with them, small, giant and truly gargantuan. Phase spiders also seem to love the Cathedral, though they tend to defend their sections very viciously from less-magically endowed relatives. And while the spider-natives do add to and extend the Cathedral with their spinnerettes, sages reckon they did not create the place.

Who did, then? Nobody really knows for sure, but graybeards point the finger at Lolth for one. The drow goddess is known for her love of all things arachnid, and the Cathedral may be a summer home for the scheming power, a respite from the horrors of the Abyss.

Other wise bloods scoff at this idea, reckoning that the Cathedral is far older than the elven race itself. Instead they claim a long-dead power started the spinning, and it's since attracted enough spiders to continue growing despite the entropic fingers of Dust fraying the edges. The legend goes that this power of webs jealously kept the secret of constructing spirals of gossamer thread to itself, but in time this dark was discovered by a mythical figure known in arachnid lore as the First Spinner.

Before this time, spiderkind used reflexes and poison venom to catch its prey. Then the First Spinner stumbled across the Cathedral of Cobwebs and tricked the resident power of webs into revealing the secret of their construction. When the Spinner returned to its home and shared its discover with other spiders, some scoffed and ignored it, while others learned the strange art for themselves. Eventually the race of spiders adapted; some became web spinners and some continued to use the old methods to catch food. Either way, the power of webs lost his portfolio and is probably some forgotten husk on the Astral.

Within the Cathedral of Cobwebs lies a small burg called Loom. Unless you've got arachnid blood, it's best to avoid it -- you're more than likely to become the next special on the local tavern's menu. And believe me, if you've never seen a burg entirely populated by spiders, red widows and renegade bebilith, you are really not missing out on much. However, it's widely known that the silks and web-fabric of Loom are the finest in the Multiverse. If your business is high fashion, you're trying to find a cloth to enchant, or you want to make Factol Erin Montgomery a blouse she'll really thank you for, you may have no other choice... 

The Centrifuge (by Rip van Wormer)

The Centrifuge is a device built by some Guvner associates of mine that's supposed to filter out particularly useful dusts from the rest of the plane. So far, they haven't had much in the way of results, though we've occasionally caught an angry quasielemental or silt weird.

The Dark: It's powered by mephit slaves. They are angry. The real danger, however, are the quasielementals, who dislike this sort of interference in the plane greatly. Still, my associates believe the potential reward is worth the risk.

The Choking Cloud (by Jon Winter)

Users of the spell airy dust be warned! The region of Dust known as Choking Cloud, kills many travellers dead. Observable only as a thinning of the Dust and a lightening of its colour, the Choking Cloud is made of fragments of dust that are poisonous to almost all non-elemental life forms.

Basically, if a basher has blood or ichor, and eats or breathes this dust (even as an airy dust spell), he must make a save versus poison or die instantly in considerable discomfort. A successful save indicates 2d20 points of damage (no further saves are required until the area is left and re-entered).

There's a thriving black market in this stuff (so called because the victim gasps for breath before the skin turns blue and death occurs) as enterprising (and foolhardy) cutters travel to Choking Dust to gather the poison. It's especially popular with assassins because (apparently) it tastes like salt, and is therefore almost certain not to be detected in food until it's too late. Despite being strictly illegal in most civilised places, it's not that hard to get hold of.

However, it has come to the attention of quasielemental spirits of Dust that more and more of their precious plane is being stolen, and a group of them have decided to take matters into their own dusty fingers. Thieves using no breath spells or similar magic to protect themselves have been hit by dispel magics, physical attacks from angry dust denizens, and barricades on the better known portals near the region.

Doom Keeper's Heart (by Lucas Berghaus)

This town appears to travellers as a calm surrounded in an endless dusty storm. It is made up of dry, brown huts, drab in decoration and unspectacular. The town surrounds a great hill, atop which Jeraq has built the Crumbling Palace. Anyone in the burg for a few days suffers from depression. Save vs. spell each day (apply Magical Defences modifier or suffer -1 Wisdom when on the Plane of Dust) Many Dust Mephits live here, all serving Jeraq. The Crumbling Palace has six towers of sandstone, but the mostly abandoned towers remain a mystery to the inhabitants.

Ruler: The Doomlord of Decay; Master of Dust; and Lord of this town - the High Master of All Dust Mephits Jeraq Al Dor (Planar / male dust mephit / Doomguard ? NE) Jeraq oversees the town of Doom Keeper's Heart. Planted along a dusty plain, this town is the burial ground of the Inner Planes. Mostly, Jeraq makes the others loyal with his Master Ring of Wizardry. The ring gives Jeraq the ability of a twelfth-level mage. It contains the spirit of an ancient wizard, who occasionally contests Jeraq's will. When the spirit masters Jeraq the mephit locks himself in the highest chamber of the palace. Jeraq has destroyed other mephits as they interrupt him, so now they all live in terror. Jeraq's orders are to accumulate as many corpses as possible.

Behind the Throne: The Gravekeeper. (Planar / male tiefling? / Fighter 11 / NE) This man takes it upon himself to bury all the corpses. He keeps the town from being captured by quasielementals or undead. He quietly speaks with any visitors that threaten the town -- invariably they leave apologetically. He is feared the mephits that populate the town, and is said perhaps to be a proxy of Hades.

Services: Dust Mephits drag corpses from anywhere to here. Jeraq knows that the special properties of Doom Keeper's Heart make resurrection impossible for anyone buried here. The body decays to mere dust within hours. The Doomguard send corpses of enemies here when they can -- it brings swift Entropy. The mephits will bury any corpses or sell shoddy equipment to any visitors. They will tolerate visitors unless the Gravekeeper or Jeraq takes

Secrets: The Gravekeeper indeed serves Hades. Hades wants access to this plane, so he is creating a gate to the Underworld from Doom Keeper's Heart. The souls of those buried here will be bound to serve Hades forever if the gate is completed. Jeraq's Ring really contains a long dead wizard from the Underworld. Hades has promised him release from torment if the mage can open a magical gate. The ring allows him to possess Jeraq for brief periods.

The burg was originally founded by the Doomguard, but after the Gravekeeper arrived they agreed he could manage the town. He gave the control of the town, and the prized ring, to the greedy Jeraq. Jeraq is blind to the ring's growing influence. Hades has granted the Gravekeeper the ability to cast any wizard spell of 6th-level or less at will. He also regenerates at 1/round, and is 45% magic resistant. He keeps natives at bay with charm monster.

Drum Murti (by Rip van Wormer)

Drum Murti are twelve mysterious statues near an abandoned and crumbling city in Core Dust. They continually thrum with a vivid beat, pounding along with the dance of matter's destruction. Wild-eyed and pot-bellied, they seem to shine with the ghastly radiance of a lich. Occasionally quasielementals will come and dance along. While dancing, the spirits do not pay attention to their surroundings, and can be ambushed. The murti don't seem to mind this, and may have been built with this in mind. Perhaps they fuel themselves with the elementals' dying screams. Alternatively, maybe they are relics of a quasielemental city and are built with a purpose. Or perhaps some day, when they gain enough of Dust's essence, they will come to life, and rebuild an empire on a plane that resists empires.

Dust to Dust (by Joshua Jarvis)

Unlike the research done in Ashes to Ashes, this is a burg where Dustmen rebels go to indulge in dimmed, subtle (compared to non-Dustmen), emotionally subdued expressions of emotion. The burg in this building composed of fossilised sandstone is a home of Dead philosophers who dispute different ideas on the nature of being dead, artists who paint in sombre colours, and poets whose prose is that of death. Many of the Dead dislike this, claiming they are too much like Bleakers to be Dustmen, others ignore it, after all it's just a phase of they're death they are going through (or so they believe) because after all, what use are emotions to the dead?

The Footprints (by Jon Winter)

Imagine, if you will, a vast cavern filled with air in the far-flung regions of Dust. An elemental bubble, of sorts. Despite being many miles across, there are no permanent settlers in the whole cavern. Most bashers are surprised by this, for after all, it would see the perfect place to build a burg. However, wise bloods know to look further. Chant goes the cavern is haunted by spirits, and BIG ones too!

The cavern has a crude gravity, such that there's a constant trickle of dust from the cracks in the vaulted roof of the cavern to the floor, covering all who rest here for long in a thin layer of fine silt. Presumably, the roof of the cavern then grows upwards, for the hollow's not getting any smaller.

The reason so few travellers who come here actually stay is figured out by most bashers when they arrive. Dotted around the cavern are deep footprints clawed, webbed, toed and worse, each dozens of feet long. These fill in fairly rapidly as the silt trickles down, but there are always fresh prints appearing. The tricky thing is, no basher's ever seen or heard what makes them...or if they have, they've not survived to tell the tale. Judging by the size and depth of the footprints the beast(s) must be hundreds of feet long, and heavy to boot.

Giant's Sandpit (by Jens)

Watched from the distance, the part of Dust known as the Giants' Sandpit appears like another fata morgana. Shapes that rise from the wastes, shapes that change.

Entering the region, rising towers and proud cities dot the landscape, complete with motionless vehicles and interiors. Other times, a traveller finds himself surrounded by endless, mumbling forests, at cloud-topped mountains, or at the coast of some lake. Half-material shapes or creatures move around, they seem to be alive, and some even try to communicate, although no sound can be heard.

Everything is made of dust, fine sand, or simply dusty air and unreal colours. Shapes rise from nothing, and to nothing they fall apart. Nothing is stable, nothing stays for long. Travellers lose their orientation within hours or less, and some never find their way out. In fact, some do not want to. See, if you stay too long here, you're infected by what is called the Dhirst by the Guvners, a mental disease that causes delusions and wrong perceptions. Those infected believe that their surroundings are true, are reality. Of course, these poor sods die soon after, usually from starvation.

Disturbingly, their corpses turn to dust within minutes, then rise again, now made from dust, as changeable as their environment, now part of the Giant's Sandpit, enslaved for eternity.

It is noteworthy that several of the shapes -- if not all -- resemble real locations or creatures, and it is possible to gain knowledge on their counterparts. Say, for example, if you'd find a duplicate of the Sinkers' Armoury (not very likely), you could enter and explore its interior. Of course, details are sketchy at best, since most details like writings and textures, magical effects, and delicate moving parts aren't reproduced, but the duplicate is good enough to draw a good map of the ground plan and find out the main purpose of specific rooms.

Of course, you never know when your environment changes again, some shapes are stable only a few seconds, other stay for days or longer. Hint: spells like wall of force, or transmute dust to stone could possibly extend that duration.

The aforementioned dangers hold true for the outer parts of the Giants' Sandpit, a region of some hundred miles in diameter. It is not known what is found in the inner parts, since no explorer has returned so far. Perhaps powerful monsters lair here, such as brass dragons, renegade githzerai with Anarchs' powers, or even packs of skriaxiats.

The outer regions are far from boring. For example, it is rumoured that a secret guild of assassins (sponsored by the sinkers) hold their exams here, and any witness is put in the dead-book, too.

The Glyphs of Blooddust (by Rip van Wormer)

Glyphs of Blooddust are a series of runes carved on miraculously intact islands of stone throughout the plane. Those who might know better'n me say that they can act as valuable guides, if you know their dark. Those who might know better'n them claim that any meaning they might've had is long gone, dispersed into greater dust. Now they're just meaningless symbols, white noise on the informational landscape.

The Library of Dust (by Jens)

Deep within the waste lands of the Plane is a strange place. It is the remains of a building, dozens of storeys high, but the walls have all turned to dust long ago. Shelves is all that remained, large, endless shelves full of parchments, books, and journals. This must have been a very famous library, and it still contains the knowledge of an ancient civilisation. However, the pages are brittle and delicate, and any touch will destroy a whole book instantly, turning it to a pile of fine, useless dust. Other books are protected by magic, such as explosive runes and glyphs, and the destruction of those books may trigger the spells.

Worse, it is rumoured that the library is still haunted by the barmy ghosts of the deceased librarians, who are still dutifully protecting their dear books against people who don't have proper membership cards.

The Guvners are looking for canny bloods who might be able to recover a few books intact, perhaps through magical means. So far, none have been successful.

Mote (by Jon Winter)

Near the borders of Dust and Vacuum, Mote is a place of sparkling fragments of stuff, from shattered crystals to chunks of rock. Rare on the Lower Inner Planes, Mote is a place of great beauty. But berk, don't think that means it ain't just as deadly as the uglier parts of the plane!

As the dust thins out into nothingness, tiny shards of matter float in the darkness of the plane. When a light source is brought near them, however, the crystalline fragments catch and scatter the light, reflecting a thousand thousand times in the almost-empty space. The result is a hauntingly beautiful sight on a par with the beauty of the borders of the plane of Radiance, claim some.

Mote is a small community of artists, meditators and bubbers struck by the wonder of the clouds of dust around the burg. Located on an ever-crumbling boulder the size of a small village, Mote is little more than a collection of meagre houses, a tavern or two and some shrines to powers of decay and beauty. Dwelling in the burg are cutters like Evira Nevermore ( Planar / female dust mephit / N ), a self-styled dust and light sculptress who was inspired by the sight of Mote when she found the place and her stone of continual light worked its wonders. Unusually for a dust mephit, Evira isn't a morbid hag of a creature, having instead the look of bedazzled wonderment in her eyes normally seen only in the greenest of primes.

Other than a constant stream of bizarre, beautiful, valuable, (but realistically useless) objets d'art, the community of Mote contributes little to the economy of Dust. Still, on a plane as bland and unrelentingly horrid as this one, the sight of something so uncharacteristically dazzling strikes most planewalkers as incredible. Visitors are warned, however, that the dust clouds around Mote are as deathly chilly as the rest of the plane. Furthermore, hanging around in the dusty clouds can be hazardous to one's health. On first viewing, and after each subsequent hour spent gazing at the motes out-of-town necessitates a saving throw versus petrification. Failure indicates the unlucky gazer has been hypnotised by the dazzling reflections, and will remain in place and continue to watch until bodily removed from the dust clouds. For solitary travellers or groups unfortunate enough to be affected at once, the prospect of death by chill, surprise attack by planar predators or starvation is very real. Extinguishing the light source is not a cure for the hypnotism, for the reflective properties of the clouds are such that light continues to echo and scintillate for many hours or days, slowly becoming dimmer.

Psionic Dust (by Rip van Wormer)

Psionic dust echoes in regions of Core Dust near the Storm of Annihilation, where even the borders between minds begin to break down. In such areas, it's impossible to keep one's thoughts private; they leak at varying volumes to everyone in the vicinity. Psionic attacks in the regions affect everyone, including their originators. Psionic defences benefit everyone, too, so that can be a benefit.

Plistit is a mind flayer who a tiny tribe of sandmen discovered, mindwiped beside its victim. They have kept it as a mascot, and they catch brains for it. Although the illithid hasn't moved for several years, except to eat in an automatic sort of way, some wonder exactly who serves who.

Red Dust (by Rip van Wormer)

Red Dust is vivid oxidised dust near the Tumbling Rocks. Red Dust is stinging and painful, inflicting 1d2 damage per unprotected turn. The quasielementals here are infused with the essence of war and raid neighbouring regions in parties as large as practical. Local sandmen carry iron swords that they get from the corpses of pech, and they are fairly famed in their proficiency (+1 to attack).

The Rock (by Philippe McFadden)

Now everybody knows that the plane of Dust is one place the Dustmen like. It's the accumulation of their philosophy. So of course they try to use this place as a berg. Now not even a dustman is dumb enough to settle close to the powers of the realms. So they found the best way to do that. The rock. It's main function is a place for retired dustmen to sit down watch the world as it will eventually be until they in their own time turn to dust also. Now the berg is a special place it resembles some sort of asteroid in the middle of dust usually the only way to find it is to find first the trail behind it. The trail is about a mile long and it's composed of chunks of the asteroid that falls of because of the enveloping dust. Only small pebbles at first but then rocks the size of a fist are seen floating in the dust. The asteroid is moving at a steady pace. The rumours say it orbits around some powerful entity but no one who has investigated these rumours have found anything or never came back. Frankly the dustmen don't care. The burg is a quality resort, for dustman that is. The asteroid has many conduits leading to the inner cavern where the dustmen live and the undead continue. The conduits keep air in and dust out with some sort of invisible field placed there aeons ago by some mage or power unknown who probably is dust that surrounds this place. Water is provided by a well with a decanter of endless water. Food is brought from Sigil through the only portal that leads there from the mortuary which opens once every week at anti-peak. Every other time it leads to the negative energy plane. The cutter who runs the place is Artemius Rundus a planar dustman who keeps the food coming and the undead out of the city proper. There are not many services on The Rock except that sometimes old folks are prone to know something about the past or have some key knowledge that might be helpful to the person who needs it.

Sirocco (by Andrew Wyatt)
by Elias Crackbone, Amateur Planar Scholar and Tiefling Drinking Champion

Several centuries ago, in a Prime land known as Zakhara, there lived a sorcerer named Avojim. Little is known of him, save what can be inferred from the legacy he left behind. Though he was ostensibly a student of elemental earth and fire, Avojim was evidently also a kindred spirit of the Doomguard. He was obsessed with understanding and harnessing the forces of entropy, and eventually became as comfortable with the undead as he was among elementals.

Despair eventually eroded Avojim's sanity, and he hatched a truly barmy plan. He laboured to open up a direct portal to the Negative Energy Plane on his world, which he hoped would devour everything in an entropic maelstrom. Perhaps fortunately for the residents of his world, Avojim's methods were flawed, and his enchantments failed. Apparently, the portal collapsed as soon as it was formed, and somehow drew his citadel into the Quasiplane of Dust. Instead of being disintegrated by the plane, however, the citadel brought a bit of the Prime's stability with it, and it stands near the border of the Wasting Place to this day.

The Quasiplane of Dust being such a hostile place, Inner Planar travellers quickly stumbled to the abandoned citadel and transformed it into a proper little burg. Nowadays folks call it Sirocco. The swirling motes of the plane can't seem to penetrate past the citadel's walls, and every greybeard who's laid eyes on the place is at a loss to explain exactly how such a thing can be so. The whole structure radiates magic, but whatever enchantments have enabled it to resist Dust's touch apparently can't be altered or affected in any way. Some say that Avojim's elemental earth magic "tainted" the Negative Energy portal just as it imploded, and somehow crystallised the reality on the Prime side for all time. Most sages laugh at such a prospect -- how can Negative Energy be tainted?

The whole burg is located inside the citadel, and the structure's an enormous place. The place resembles an inverted funnel cloud in shape. With no portals of its own, Sirocco's definitely a remote location. Still, folks somehow manage to find it in the endless choking winds of Dust. The berks who keep their kip here are mostly humanoid planars, although there is a healthy population of elemental beings and undead. The place is an alternative gathering point to Citadel Alluvius, and it isn't a coincidence that the bashers who turn up here usually aren't cosy with the Doomguard.

For all its alien atmosphere, most of the goods and services offered in Sirocco are fairly mundane. The town has its compliment of smithies, tailors, dry goods stores, apothecaries and the like. Elemental planewalkers enjoy the hospitality of the Wailing Chasm, a surprisingly neat little inn run by an outcast dao. There are a few fabulous items to be had in Sirocco's darker corridors. Elemental homunculi for travelling in Dust are sold in several shops for outrageous prices. It's rumoured that a cabal of Dustmen in Sirocco will teach a mysterious and unorthodox version of necromancy to willing students, provided they can offer something in return and they can find the Dead in the first place.

There's no real authority in Sirocco, but the citizens respect the wisdom of two powerful residents. One is a scholarly lich known as Tariq min Hiyal, who supposedly hails from Avojim's homeworld. The other is an inexplicably lawful dust quasielemental known simply as Sift. The unlikely pair are usually civil towards one another, and their word is regarded as final in most local matters of justice. Periods of tension sweep through the burg when the two happen to disagree. For the most part, however, Sirocco is a peaceful place, if a bit sinister for most folks. Still, if a berk's trapped in Dust and not on good terms with the Doomguard, he doesn't have many options.

Strangely, the greatest mystery behind Sirocco is not the burg's existence, but the whereabouts of its original owner. Avojim himself has never been located. Some berks say that he still lurks around Sirocco somewhere, watching carefully from the shadows. Another popular story has it that the deranged sorcerer popped out into the Ethereal Plane instead of Dust, where he floats to this day.

Thanat-am-Suel, home of refugees (by Rip van Wormer)

Okies are poverty-stricken bands of refugees driven from their homelands. The Plane of Dust has an inordinate amount of Okies, mainly from the Plane of Earth, caught too near the Tumbling Rocks region and falling in. Occasionally whole elemental kingdoms have crumbled to Dust, leaving their inhabitants stranded. Okie Suel are refugees from the Rain of Colourless Fire on the world of Oerth, over a thousand years ago. The majority of witnesses to this world-shattering calamity were lucky and died as the vast Suloise Imperium crumbled to dust and ash. A few unfortunates were caught in desperate countermagicks or mythal-like magic fluctuations and transformed into okie genasi in the quasielemental planes. To this day, travellers in the Wasting Place are accosted and normally executed by the xenophobic Suel descendants, paranoid peoples certain that their ancient Baklunish foes are still plotting to finish them off. These Okies prove their man- or womanhood by long solo walkabouts through the planes of Dust or Ash, coming back with the still-pulsing hearts of powerful quasielemental creatures, preserved in specially treated skins. The two genders are treated fairly equally, and anyone of the appropriate bloodlines can become a shaman.

The Dark of Thanat-am-Suel: The Okie Suel worship an amoebic entity they call the Dust Mother. The Dust Mother could be related to the Dhour, the Cold Woman of Nehwon, or even quasielementals. It feeds on hate and sacrifice, and seems to remind its "children" of something their ancestors used long ago, at home.

The Tower of Bable (by John Hanson)
Ceth, the planewalking avatar of Insanity

Down in the plane of Dust, there's a massive structure. Legend calls it the Tower of Bable. And berk, it's big.

First time I saw it, I thought I must have found another Spire. Course, the tower itself may infinite, and it's the tallest thing I've seen this side of the Outlands. The tower is tall. I climbed as high as I possibly could, and I counted 560 separate floors. There are probably more. It's hard to find, and you'll need to use a teleport without error spell to find it.

Physically, it's made of a red, grainy type of block. Probably sandstone, though it was too strong for that. It is situated on a stable pocket of Earth. The dust storms aren't so bad near it, and you won't find yourself turning into dust while you're on it.

As the tale goes, a people of a prime world named Terra tried to build a tower to reach to Heaven. Of course, that ain't possible, but they tried it anyway. The Overpower of that prime world obviously got a bit angered by their attempts. So, he cast the structure to the plane of dust, and cast a very powerful spell on the tower.

Anyone who enters the tower's front door will find themselves under the influence of a confuse languages spell. (No saving throw.) The spell cannot be removed while in the tower, but once outside, a simple translation spell can undo all that.

Now, as you're probably wondering, why would you want to go there? Other than the fact that you won't be turned into dust, there are a lot of reasons. First off, you'll find that this place has as many portals to prime worlds and the elemental planes as Sigil has to the Outer Ring.

Each level has a different one. Here are some I found or have heard of that are worth the look:


  • 13 - Krynn
  • 15 - Toril
  • 57 - Oerth
  • 106 - Athas
  • 111 - Ooze
  • 134 - The Positive energy plane
  • 146 - The Negative energy plane
  • 157 - Vacuum
  • 201 - Electromagnetism (Demiplane)
  • 203 - Air
  • 206 - Water
  • 208 - Fire
  • 221 - Ash
  • 243 - Salt
  • 256 - Radiance

I also encountered a large portal, similar to all the others, on level 453 leading to a plane like that I've never seen before. It was like the Ethereal, and the Astral, except combined in a mix of colours. I was unsure as to what this was, but I suspect it may have been a portal to an unknown plane, perhaps the Ordial Plane that Magnum Opus speaks of.

No creatures live here. Dust mephits avoid the place as if it was the ninth layer of Baator. That's all the chant on the place that I know. I'm planning a mission back, but until I can get some funding...

[Further Dark: There is a portal to one of the higher layers of Mount Celestia on the 604th level of the tower. Ceth obviously did not get this high up, so thus it is not mentioned]

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Inner Planes

Here's something I can't praise enough. This tome explores not only Dust, but all eighteen Inner Planes, describing the hazards, physical conditions, powerful residents and most famous sites of each.

Just because I like you, I'm going to make you an offer. You want to learn more about the Inner Planes? You got the right jink? Why didn't you say before? It's a deal!

Find out more about the Inner Planes book here, or order it here, at a generous discount from the RRP of US$20: [ US$ | UK£ ]

Copyright 1999, text by Jon Winter,
graphics by Jon Winter and Jeremiah Golden

Consult the Mimir Again