Mechanical Paradise

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The Library of Babble
(by Belarius)

Prize WinnerLanguage is infinite. It can say any number of things, whether they be true or false. Sometimes, what is said makes no sense, but it is still said. Nowhere is this more strongly evoked than in the Library of Babble.

HEARSAY: The Library of Babble is said to contain not only every book that will ever be written, but ever book than can ever be written. It is the storehouse of infinite knowledge and infinite falsehood.

Some say it's all screed, that the library serves a purpose similar to that of Thoth's Lie-brary (see the Musée Arcane): to lure scholars into wasting their lifetimes searching for non-existent lore. But search they do, and, if the Library does indeed contain infinite wisdom then all wisdom exists already, and simply must be discovered. Those who study in the Library of Babble believe and hope this.

DESCRIPTION: From the exterior, the Library is not exceptional, except in size. Seemingly built within one of the biggest axles of Mechanus, it cannot be directly accessed. In order to enter, the most precise of teleportation spells can land a body into it's halls. Though numerous travellers have seen the great rod from the exterior, few have realised that it was hollow.

Within the axle, the 'landscape' is utterly alien. A tower of seemingly infinite height stretches as far as the eye can see, both up and down, though no part of the tower touches the walls of the axle. Without walls, the tower is simply a series of free-floating platforms, connected only by a small spiral staircase which runs, in theory, along the entire tower. The platforms, the staircase, and the furniture of the Library are seemingly immune to damage, and cannot be destroyed.

Each platform is an octagon about 40' across. On either side of the octagon are doorways, one which leads to a set of small cots and lavatories, the other leading to the spiral staircase. The centre of each octagon is dominated by two or three research tables, with uncomfortable chairs for at least six people at a time. Two orbs dimly illuminate each octagon, though not very well. The remaining six sides of the octagon are lines with a railing and are covered with narrow shelves (5 to a side), each holding 32 books.

The books themselves are very simple, written in a mysterious but efficient orthographic language of 25 characters (22 letters with no capitals, a period, a comma, and a blank space). Each book is exactly 410 pages long, with 40 lines to a page and 80 characters per line. The miracle of the library is that is (again, in theory) contains every possible combination of the letters possible. Thus, the number of books is beyond the calculation of any save the moignos, who have no name for such incredible sums (in game terms, the number exceeds 10 to the 150th power). Thus, every possible book exists, even such priceless creations as the Book of Keeping or the Factol's Manifesto. Indeed, the Factol's manifesto existed here long before it was written in Sigil.

The Library is populated by solitary scholars who spend their lives searching for knowledge in the Library. Some have children, and the birth to death ratio is just stable enough to maintain a population of about one scholar for every three or four octagons. There are a number of quasi-sects who wander the Library, each holding its own theory about the nature of the Library, but none are devout enough to qualify as full-blown sects. Their philosophies range form the destruction of all false books (because the books can easily be thrown over the railing into the infinite void) to searching for the book that explains the secret organisation of the Library.

SPECIAL PROPERTIES: First off, there is the wisdom of all knowledge in the Library, though there are very many more books of gibberish (or babble, if you will). Also, for every book that is accurate, there can be many millions of books that are subtly or blatantly false. Because Mechanus eliminates all language barriers, anyone can study in the Library (if they can get in), but there are, without a doubt, books announcing the Duke Rowan Darkwood married the Lady of Pain tomorrow, and other ridiculous lies. The idea, of course, is not that all knowledge is true, but that all things, truth and untruth, can be known.

Detect Lie and other spells that detect falsehood fail here, whether the lie is read in a book or spoken by a person. Because of this, and the relative privacy of some area, criminals often come here to negotiate. The fiends have a number of their own scholars on the Library, as do the celestials. Oddly, the modrons ignore the place, acting as if it did not exists.

Oddly, because the place exhibits no creativity because everything's already been done), there are no connections between the Library and the Infinite Staircase. One or two portals to Sigil have been mentioned, but their definitive location has never been documented.

Remember, also, that if anyone or anything goes over the railing, if will have eternity to fall. People falling over the side will die before they hit the bottom (if a bottom even exists), but the dangers of reaching for a railing while falling at terminal velocity are obvious. Still, those cast over the edge of the railing are sometimes seen again, though getting lost among the infinitely repeating octagons is disturbingly easy.

[Author's note: This idea was originally developed by Luis Borges in the short story entitled 'The Library of Babel,' and has simply been reformatted to fit the Planescape theme. Belarius says: "By the way, this library, I calculated, is at least 10 to the 143rd power light years tall. Food for thought, eh?"]

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The Tin City, Tik-Tok Town
(by Pol Jackson)

PrizewinnerCHARACTER: A busy place, considering that there's nothing alive here. The people and animals here are nothing more than clockwork constructs, and even the trees shading the streets are just brightly-painted tin. The citizens whir and click as they march stiffly through the town. A friendly place, if you can ignore the fact that the townspeople's smiles are all painted on. Or the fact that each of them has a turnkey protruding from their back, slowly winding down...

RULER: Stannia does have a Mayor, a jovial fellow with a large belly and a carefully oiled tin moustache. He goes through the motions of running the town, performing his work with (of course) clockwork precision. The town, of course, would run just fine without him. The Mayor is also in charge of the Key to the City, a large mechanical turnkey he keeps on a tin chain around his neck.

BEHIND THE THRONE: There is no force behind the throne. Everything here works in perfect (click, whir, tik) order.

DESCRIPTION: The buildings and streets here are the only things that are real, with brightly painted houses lining wide, cobbled avenues. Everything else is tin -- tin tables, tin chairs, tin beds. And the tin people, of course.

The people aren't just mindless automatons, but they're not exactly normal, either. They tend to repeat things, over and over again, as part of a routine. It is possible to have an intelligent conversation with one of them, if a basher is patient. Another oddity: no-one in the city has a name. They're simply referred to by the job they do -- the Baker, the Cobbler, the Mayor, etc.

Click, whir, tik.
'Hel-lo!' Click, whir, tok.
'Wel-come-to-Stan-ni-a!' Click, whir, tik.
'En-joy-your-stay!' Click, whir, tok.
'Good-bye!' Click, whir, tik.
'Hel-lo!' Click, whir, tok.
'Wel-come-to-Stan-ni-a!' Click, whir, tik...

Unlike elsewhere on Mechanus, Stannia has a day and a night. The 'sun', 'moon,' and 'stars' ride along gigantic tracks which stretch over the city. They're a majestic sight, but close examination will reveal that they also are powered by clockwork and made out of (you guessed it) tin.

The denizens of the city pose no obvious threat; the whole thing could even be said to be quite jolly, like some fairytale story from the Prime. The place makes some people nervous, nonetheless. People say that the Modrons don't like coming near the place; when they have to tend to a nearby gear, they seem anxious and jittery, and hurry to finish their job and go. Greybeards wonder what it is about the place that could disturb the unflappable Modrons.

MILITIA: The town guard are nothing more than overgrown toy soldiers. Their tin weapons are no match for a determined cutter with a real blade.

The town has a more subtle defence than the guard, however. Anyone performing violence against the town or citizenry of Stannia will find their attacks to be ineffective. A basher who draws his sword in anger will find it to be made of tin, while a mage might find his spell components similarly affected. (After this, most bashers have the common sense not to try and attack barehanded...) The effect usually wears off once you leave the city, but stories have been told about furious planewalkers leaving with all their weapons turned permanently to tin. Other stories have been told about people not leaving at all...

SERVICES: There's a wide range of products for sale in Stannia's shops, all for reasonable prices. Unfortunately, they're all made of tin.

Still, if it's tin a basher wants, he's come to the right place. Tin whistles, tin pans, and tin drums are all cheap and of the highest quality. A shopper lanned to the dark of things can even find tin magical items. Magical tin weapons and armour are next to useless, but a clever cutter might find magical tin amulets or talismans. And even if there's no magic to be found, high-up mages will sometimes pay good jink for quality tin objects that can hold enchantments or can be used as spell components.

You'd think a blood could make a profit by purchasing his goods using tin coin, but no such luck; the shopkeepers take gold, silver, and copper, like anywhere else. No one knows what they do with it, though, because they'll just give tin coin in change.

There is one other service a planewalker can find here. A wizened old man known as the Toymaker runs a shop off of Main Street. He's human, or at least appears to be; it doesn't appear to bother him that he's the only human in a clockwork city. The Toymaker sells clockwork timepieces, weapons, and, of course, toys. All of the clockwork is fantastically complex, and of a very high quality.

No-one's sure why, but there's a good chance that a body will find an item at the Toymaker's shop that perfectly fits his need at the time. For example, a planewalker in desperate need of a mount might find a beautiful mechanical horse, or a basher might find the perfect weapon to finally defeat his foes. The Toymaker doesn't take jink for payment, though. The only thing he wants are knickknacks, baubles, and toys from the customer's own childhood. A body bargaining with the Toymaker will find his pockets filled with things that he found precious in his youth -- bright stones, bits of string, a favourite doll, etc. Some people pay without giving it a second thought, sure that they're getting the top end of the deal. Others are peery, wondering what it is that they're really giving away... and what they're really getting.

CURRENT CHANT: Stannia's a mystery, and no mistake. No one seems to know how an entire town of clockwork people came to be in the middle of Mechanus. Some folk claim that it's a secret Modron experiment, to make mortals more 'manageable'. Other stories say that Stannia is the realm of a secretive Power of order. Most of the stories, though, tell of a town long ago where the people were terrified of death. The townspeople used a powerful /wish/ spell, wishing never to die. If this story is true, then the townspeople got what they asked for...

[Author's Note: Partial credit should go towards Stacy Vennema, whose Everway campaign inspired this entry. Thanks, Stacy!]

The Hive
(by Jon Winter)
CHARACTER: Think as one of us, and you'll be one of us. The strong prevail, and there is strength in numbers. Numbers prevail. Join your mind with us, act with us, be us. We are all one together, just as we are many. Collected wisdom and knowledge are shared with all. We are not drones, but we are not individuals either. A hybrid of one mind and many, we benefit in all ways.

THE CHANT: This Hive, as opposed to the seething pit of chaos like a boil on Sigil's skyline, is a small and fiercely independent burg deep in Mechanus. Allegedly set up by mind flayers, this community of humanoids has some disturbingly similar habits to that rather unsociable race. This falls short of devouring brains, however, visitors will be happy to note.

Locals are really rather similar. While each individual has distinct physical traits, strengths and weaknesses, and their own voice and accent, it would appear to the casual observer to stop there. In fact, all the locals of Hive share common thoughts; it's as if each and every one of them was mindlinked to all the others, permanently via the psionic power. Most likely, they are.

Actually, locals do have their own personalities, not that a cutter'd know. But since they're also hearing the thoughts of dozens of other cutters simultaneously, they all tend to be slightly detached and vague.

Hive is a burg with no secrets. Anything told to any member is instantly known by all the others, provided the local is in a one mile radius of the town's centre. This seems to be the limit of the mindlink power. For largely that reason, Hivers are very rarely found much further away from the burg -- for cutters so used to the babble of thousands of voices in their heads, it's a lonely life without it.

RULER: There's another surprising thing about Hive. One might expect all cutters in the burg to have an equal say in the running of the place, but in reality none of them do. See, the town hall has a rather deep cellar, and it's in here that the locals put the brains of their dead. In a rather horrific ritual (to outsiders, anyway), the corpse of folk who've lived and died in the burg are divested of brains and buried. The brains are added to the pool and their thoughts and memories once again shared with the inhabitants of the burg.

BEHIND THE THRONE: Nobody really knows how many ancestors are down there, but Hive has been in existence for several hundred years, so it must be a lot. The town-mind is the real ruler of the burg, and is now so powerful and wise that most powers would be afraid to tackle it. Fortunately, Hive's inhabitants do not see overly keen on expanding their little burg. In fact, it's not very obvious what they really are doing.

Psionic planewalkers report that there's a loud mental drone emanating from Hive, in a manner not dissimilar to that around Ilsensine's Caverns of Thought. Rumours as to what the brain pool is doing abound, from the simple "testing the limits of psionic powers" to the rather wilder "setting up shop for a new illithid power in Mechanus". Whatever the case, the fact is the people of Hive seem remarkably content and average, if it were not for the mind-pool they so happily live on top of.

(by Center of All)

The one is weak. The many are strong. "I" does not exist. There is only "We". What is individuality beside the lure of ultimate law?

This strange burg sits smack in the centre of one of Mechanus' smaller gears. Its population consists mostly of petitioners, with a few modrons and one or two Guvners and Mathematicians. Don't expect to ever find just one of anything in this place, cutter; Things always come in at least pairs, more often sets of larger numbers. That includes people, and while this doesn't affect the modrons (they all look the same anyway), it can be pretty eerie to walk through a town of people with exactly the same face, talking the same way, living in exactly the same house (there are different buildings, but they look so alike one often has to count to be sure). This affects outsiders as well. After about a month (twenty five turns of the gear to be exact- some barmy fool actually went and counted it!) of staying in Plurality, a berk starts to take on aspects of the 'group features'. Whether this is regarded as a curse or a blessing depends upon the recipient.

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(by Joshua Jarvis)

Some leatherheads believe that insanity is a chaotic thing and that lawful folks can't be barmy. Those folks are wrong! Repetition is as barmy as lawful can be. This berk is located on a smaller cog, a cog that doesn't turn anymore; a cog that once had many small, sharp, teeth but has long since been worn smooth from friction with the surrounding cogs. Much like the order of this berg goes against the surrounding order.

The people of this town all have an obsessive compulsive disorder. Some of them feel they constantly have to wash dirt off their hands, others feel they must count the windows on a certain building. All the folks here are barmy in their own consistent, lawful way. The obsession with creating order where it already exists has been rumoured to have an odd effect, rumour is that some of the petitioners here have turned into modrons! Of course we know not to trust every rumour we hear don't we berk! Of course, without many worshippers some suspect that the deaths of people like this may be the source of some of Primus's modrons, petitioners have to arrived somehow, monodrone division can't explain them all, or can it?

Circular Unity
(by Belarius)
CHARACTER: Today is today, and we have our routines. Of course, we don't know what they are, we haven't decided. But we will, we do, we have. Everything is linked, you see. Free will is an illusion because the outcome of our every action is predestined. So, no matter what routine we take, the end is the same. Thus, all routines, in their infinite variety, are the same. We have our routines. We have yours, too. but our destiny is embossed in metal. There is nothing more liberating, after all, than a sense of the inevitable.

RULER: The city has no organised government or ruling body. The clearest term describing the ruler of the Circular Unity is Fate. Because it is impossible to do that which is not predetermined, no one has ever held a title of power. Fate has kept this from happening.

BEHIND THE THRONE: It's not as though people haven't tried to circumvent the fate Circular Unity has given them. On at least three occasions, the slaadi have come here and tried to lay waste to the city and enslave the population. In every case, they found themselves powerless to the force of the river of future history, as it swept them from the city. Currently, an Anarch named Zrenim (Planar / male githzerai / T7 / Anarch's Guild / N) and a Signer named Bujencci (Planar / female tiefling / M11 / Sign of One / NG) have joined forces to try to bend Circular Unity to their wills. Though without success so far, they are determined they can succeed. Zrenim wishes to bend the axle of one of Circular Unity's rings to stop the movement of the entire city. Bujencci tries in vain to affect people's choices, though magic, guile, and will. Both have actually shown some signs of progress, but this, too, was determined ahead of time. The locals, grinning, call them the town's Freedom Fighters.

DESCRIPTION: Circular Unity is, at it's simplest, sixteen interconnected flat rings which can line up to form a flat disk. The outermost ring is connected to the rest of the gears of Mechanus, and has a toothy edge, locking it in with other gears. Each ring is connected to the next smallest and next largest ring by a single spoke. Each spoke runs along a different angle, and all of the rings rotate at seemingly random speeds. In truth, this gyroscopic burg is as organised as any other. They key is that the organisation is based on the people, not the people being based on the organisation.

To clarify: most burgs in Mechanus have lots of laws, and the character of the citizens is made distinct by those laws. In this case, Circular Unity has lost of people, and the laws (and therefore the burg) are made distinct by the people. In other words, the design is from the inside out, not vice versa.

Thus, every native of Circular Unity is born with his life planned. Every surprise is known ahead of time, every pratfall can be accounted for. The funny thing is that, because it is their life to live, no citizen of Circular Unity does anything BUT live the life he is born with. A barmy is as lawful and as intelligent as any other citizen, but because it was his lot to be barmy, he behaves in a barmy manner.

Each person's plan for life is written on the Great Placard of Unity, a blank brass plaque which nearly covers the entire side of the city hall on the central ring. Each person sees the placard as the entire manuscript of their life (and thus, all see something different). The amount of time you will in Circular Unity as compared to your total life span is directly proportional to how much of your life you can see written. It's all there, but only those destined to be born and die in Circular Unity can see it all. Thus, an explorer with a lifespan of 40 years who enter Circular Unity and will leave (he has no choice in the matter) in four days will see, at random, one word out of 5,000 in his life story on the Placard. But those are only those portions spent in Circular Unity.

The most disturbing aspect of the city is that, upon entering the city, no on has any free will. Our explorer from the above example plans on spending a week in Circular Unity, but he manages to decipher from the Placard (out of sheer luck) that we will stay only four days. He can either ignore this or act based on it. If he ignores it, he sells his goods in record time, is accused of magical manipulation, and is exiled. If he acts based on this portent, he sells things over eagerly, and decided magical mani[pulation is the only way to get all of his goods sold. He charms some customers, is tried, and exiled. No matter what course he took, he would be accused of magical enchantment and exiled from Circular Unity.

Now, this is all very confusing, but bear with me. Now, only certain parts of a person's life are predestined in Circular Unity, and these cannot be changed (the exile, for example). However, those actions not specified can be pursued in any way shape or form, because the outcome is always the same. Spellcaster or not, our merchant is accused, because the accusal is written into the Placard (though he cannot see it). However, whether or not he is guilty is not written, so it doesn't matter whether he do the crime or not.

Similarly, the rings of the city always seem to meet when a person is about to step across onto another ring. They don't seem to speed up or slow down, but they are always there when they are needed. That is because every passing over the rings is assigned ahead of time. In Circular Unity's history, no one has ever been killed or injured by falling off of the edge of a ring or getting caught and crushed between rings.

Interestingly, no one, not even powerful proxies or avatars, have found themselves immune to Circular Unity's effects. Maddening to gods of chaos, the city is an unsiegeable bastion of Law, even more secure in Mechanus than the modrons. This unnerving immunity leads many to point to it as a dangerous source of lawful subversion.

Ultimately, Circular Unity works like a machine It operated as one precision clockwork device with intricately complicated gear that, despite their fickle natures, always turn at exactly the right time.

MILITIA: Circular Unity has no militia. Every attack against it has failed, for reason that are perfectly reasonable. Disasters always seem to happen exactly when the shouldn't (or should, if you look at it from the city's perspective), and even the hoards of acheron have no effect on the placidly normal lives of the locals.

SERVICES: If a body can overcome the incredible annoyance of knowing every move you make in the city is planned and that there is no way you can avoid Fate, the city is actually not a bad place to stay. Sure, there are the usual risks of harm or death, but these are never 'accidental.' They are predetermined. Circular Unity created wonderful clocks which break down at a very specific time , so you know when to buy one in advance. Of course, this is lost if the clocks are taken out of the city.

Another useful enterprise is the sale of food. Though it is unclear where the money comes from, the locals always seem have just enough money to buy just what they need (unless their life is scheduled otherwise). Thus, a merchant selling food is assured of making a profit (unless, of course, Fate says otherwise).

Interestingly, there are no portals to Sigil in Circular Unity. Not a one. This is known because it is written so in the lives of those who's fate it is to search for portals to Sigil. Further, no portal from Sigil have ever been found from the Cage's end.

CURRENT CHANT: As mentioned above, the current Freedom Fighters have made some small progress toward their goals, though they have yet to change a single life. What is interesting is that Bujencci, who has lived in the burg since the age of six, can read most of her life, but has been surprised to find no mention of death. If her theory is right, she cannot die while she remains in Circular Unity. Whether this means she becomes undead against her will, accidentally becomes a prolonger (if that's even possible), or something totally different, is unknown.

[Author's note: This piece was inspired by Arthur Dent's inability to die until someone misses him with a disintegration pistol and the idea of Free Will being an illusion.]

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Music of the Gears
(by Chris Murphy)

One of the oddest burgs on the cog of Regulus is the little anthill known as the Music of the Gears. All it really is is a few shops, inns, and taverns, and the only permanent occupants are the owners of those shops. Why? Because the locals aren't too fond of the machine in the middle of town, the machine that gave the burg it's name.

What is it? Only the biggest musical instrument in the multiverse! The Music of the Gears is a towering, mechanical symphony. It has a wooden frame with cymbals, air backs that push wind through pipes, mechanical arms that beat drums, gears that gently moves chimes, and strings that are stretched between two wooden beams.

"Pretty impressive, berk, but how does it play?" I'm glad you asked. See, there's a reason why its called the Music of the Gears. Here's the chant..the movements of Mechanus's gears play the instrument. How? No one knows. Or why it's there, for that matter. As far as anyone knows, it's always been there. The town built around it, though, is another story. It was built about 150 years ago by a wandering musician named Leer. He decided to build an inn there, the Wheel Inn (which is still standing). Travellers came, Leer made a lot of jink, and other bloods got the same idea...a lot of travellers come this way, so why not set up shop here? Needless to say, Music of the Gears is a major stopping point for any travellers, whether they give a fig about music or not.

What's it sound like? got to remember, you're on Mechanus. Some say its the most beautiful sound on the planes. Others say they would rather be in Pandemonium. Anyway, the music is a constant hum, accompanied by the soft cling of the chimes, the deep voice of the strings and pipes, and the rat-tat-tat of the drums. Those with a lawful bent are sure to love, and those who are a bit more chaotic find it boring and drab.

On thing about Music of the Gears that is still dark to everyone is why the Modrons let it stay. Its not a secret that they like to keep things efficient, and the Music of the Gears isn't exactly important in the scheme of things. The only valid story as to why this is is that a Power (who? who knows?) put it there, and the Modrons can't touch it.

There are a lot of things dark about Music of the Gears, but what is known is that it is a nice surprise in a plane of stifling conformity.

The Spiral Tower
(by Belarius)
HEARSAY: Not every bit of Mechanus is gearwork. There's a few other sorts of mechanical bits that help to keep the whole place turning. One such thing it the screw. Sure, a screw's like a sideways gear. The teeth of a gear fit into the grooves along the side and the gear gets turned as the screw rotates. It's basic machinery. Well, I've seen one screw unlike all the rest in Mechanus. Only a mile or two tall, it's one of the smaller bits in Mechanus, but it's got a secret: it's hollow. On a lark I climbed to the top of the screw once, and I found a staircase down into the guts of the place (if you can give a chunk of metal guts). I let real quick, but I've heard stories since. Some say it's the forgotten hideaway of a lich or something. Others say it's just forgotten. I've even heard it's a secret fiendish weapons stash! I ain't goin' back, but I'll show you the way for a spot of garnish, if you're interested.

DESCRIPTION: The Spiral Tower is a section hollowed out inside one of Mechanus' smaller screws. It's got no windows and only one entrance at it's very top, a trap door heavy enough that it'll keep out most curiosity-seekers. If you can haul the trap door open (which requires a combined strength of 20), you'll find a simple spiral staircase down into the hollow interior of the gear.

At first, the tower lacks any sort of illumination even infravision can't pierce the darkness. Magical lights work at only 50% efficiency and no amount of metamagic can dispel the seemingly magical blackness. If a body's patient, though, they'll eventually (after a few hours on the spiral staircase) get to a brightly lit area near the centre of the screw.

Few explorers have actually returned from the illuminated depths of the Spiral Tower, but those who have describe floor after floor of laboratories, workshops, storerooms, and forges. The entire place seems empty. Occasionally, strange magical constructs resembling nothing less than mechanical animals attack intruders, but these encounters are few and far between.

Thievery is a literal impossibility in the Spiral Tower. If someone tries to take anything from the Spiral Tower, the item vanishes as soon as the thief leaves its confines. Probably because of this, rare and extravagant magics lie scattered throughout the tower, in the forms of items, scrolls, and spellbooks.

No explorer has discovered the true purpose of the tower, however. It is the secret home of the 'Tenth Tertian.' Like the nine modron armies that act as reserve forces around Primus' tower, an additional tertian exists, largely independently, where it produces magical items for the modron hierarchy, researches law-related spells, and experiments with non-natives to try and understand greater intricacies of the aspect of Law. It has the full support of the screw's gear spirit, which calls itself 'Latch.'

It is unclear whether or not the Tenth Tertian is a rogue or not. Rogues who believe themselves not to be rogues retain control over lower-ranking modrons, and the known terians, secundi, and Primus himself do not leave Regulus. Thus, though he works for the good of the modrons, the Tenth Tertian may be a rogue. On the Other hand, it may just be a trump card in Primus' hand, a factor which those planning against the modrons cannot consider in their plans. If this is the case, there is nothing unlawful about it. Remember, "Just because it's the law don't mean it has to make sense, berk!"

Humanoid Settlement #1347-b
(by James Sinks)

Humanoid Settlement #1347-b (or as the natives call it, "Hope") has been around for the past three hundred tears or so. From the outside Hope appears much like any other town in mechanus, its appearance having been dictated by Settlement code 1.4.5-b (Appearance and construction of humanoid settlements, agrarian). And from within the borders Hope appears much like any other town -with one exception, there is no visible law enforcement. While Hope does have a code of laws (in accordance with Settlement code 4.5.2-b -Laws and law enforcement in humanoid settlements, agrarian), it also has some very unique laws. According to Hope's charter, every member of the town is a full fledged constable, militia member, and judge. As such the citizens are empowered to deal with any law breakers as they see fit (and amazingly this power is almost never abused).

Hope is a small settlement of 560 people that makes its living from farming. There is no trade with other villages, there is no effective economy, people don't really understand the concept of money, they simply barter for what they need. People here are unusually friendly and open, even with strangers (a very rare occurrence).

Hope is something of a planar myth, there are currently stories circulating in the anarchist underground about a "city of freedom, right under the Modron's noses!" If the anarchists ever came to Hope they would be sorely disappointed, rather than the bastion of resistance that the stories make it out to be, it is actually full of people who would never dream of trying to force their views on someone else.

Hope is a very hard burg to find; it's said that no one knows just where the gate to Hope is, and if someone does know, they aren't telling. Touts on the street have recently started selling 'gate keys to Hope, guaranteed' but these are invariably fakes. The 'loths have refused to say anything about hope (leading to some interesting rumours), as have the celestials. The Modrons on the other hand are more than willing to help people find Hope; as long as they fill out forms (Basic information), (directional assistance request),* (Plane of origin form, replace * with appropriate plane abbreviation), (Destination plane form, Mechanus), (Destination in mechanus form, humanoid settlement, agrarian), and (Information request form, directional, Mechanus, humanoid settlement, agrarian) in triplicate. Needless to say, no one has ever gotten help from the Modrons.

Hope is dark and will probably stay dark, it is so unlike the 'city of freedom' that even if the anarchists found it they would undoubtedly pass it up.

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The Black Cogs
(by Andrew Griffiths)

Mechanus is a plane on pure law, where good and evil are held in check by the rigid rules of the plane. However, if enough evil people go to Mechanus, and their aren't enough good people to neutralise it, the plane might be tipped into the lower planes. The Mechanus Mediators are supposed to make sure that doesn't happen, but what if they can't, or don't?

Recently a group of adventures found a large cog made of a hard black metal. It didn't require magic to realise that it was evil, they could feel the evil emanating from it. For some reason the Mechanus Mediators, Modrons, and powers have done nothing. That cog was just the beginning. Another cog adjacent to recently turned black. Many sages are saying that their should be white cogs elsewhere in Mechanus but none have been found. Either the cogs of good are well hidden, or this is a sign that Mechanus is starting to slip into the lower planes, which would be catastrophic.

If Mechanus reverted to lawful evil, its denizens would also become lawful evil. The now evil Modrons would no doubt join forces with the Baatezu, which would mean the Tanar'ri would be forced into a defensive battle. Of course the Tanar'ri might start thinking about tipping Limbo in their favour... The people of Limbo, even the Slaad, aren't happy about that idea.

Because of the problems Mechanus' slip into the lower planes could cause, their are many good aligned people, and many Githzerai, going to Mechanus to try to destroy the black cogs. Unfortunately none of the local powers, or other people of importance (Modrons, Parai, gear spirits, petitioners) are saying anything, quickly changing the subject when asked or just ignoring the question. The Athar are having a field day with this, saying that if the powers of Mechanus were gods, they would get rid of the black cogs.

DESCRIPTION: The first black cog is about 3000 feet across and the second is about 2000 feet across. They are both made of a black metal which resembles obsidian. No one has been able to brake, crack, or even scratch the cogs, which has many people worried.

The cogs are completely bare on the outside, but their are a few tunnel openings on the surface which lead to a network of caves. A group of adventures went into the smaller of the two cogs and reported that they had found many rouge quadrones. One of the fighters had been captured and when he was found he was strapped onto a table being tortured by a kocrachon. No one has gone into the other cog yet.

THE DARK OF THE COGS: The Black Cogs are a manifestation of the evil in Mechanus, whether the DM wants their to be good cogs elsewhere is up to the DM. The Black Cogs are also inhabited by evil Modrons. Most of them a quadrones, pentadrones, and decatons. Their are also a few kocrachons and hamatula, proving that the Baatezu are involved. Their ruler is a hexton, but he is taking commands from a higher, fiendish, source.

Any Modron of septon rank or lower which comes within 200 feet on the Black Cogs must make an intelligence check and check their magic resistance. If they fail both of them they revert to lawful evil and enter the cogs to join the ranks of evil Modrons. For some reason their are no monodrones, duodrones, or tridrones in the cogs, but people have reported seeing them enter the cogs. It is up to the DM to decide their fate.

An interesting effect of the cogs (or maybe their purpose) is its effect of the fabric of the plane. The cogs are wearing away at the boundary between Mechanus and its neighbour, Acheron. When it rips, a huge portal will be opened between Mechanus and Acheron, spilling the warring factions into the plane. This could be very interesting if you are playing with white (good) cogs. As the portal to Acheron opens another would have to open to Arcadia, allowing forces of good to come in as well as evil. Remember, the denizens of Mechanus want to be lawful good about as much as they want to lawful evil.

On the cogs around the black cogs (but not on any directly touching them) many base camps are being put up. Sages, wizards, and adventuring parties are living here while they investigate the portal. A portal to Sigil was recently opened and a few people are coming in and trying to sell things to the berks in the camps. Most of them are selling food and basic things but one, Caron Smith (Pl/male human/F2/Fa/N) (Charisma 16) has recently set up a tent and is selling weapons. He has most weapons for 100-150% of the listed price but loves to barter. If the player has a higher charisma or they role play very well they could get what they wanted for half price. If he doesn't have what the PCS want, he can order it for an extra 5-10 gold pieces.

Unknown to the people on the cogs. The Yugoloth have set up a base inside one of the cogs. It is extremely important to them that they stop the Baatezu's plans. They wouldn't tell anyone, but they worried that the Baatezu slipped this through them. They are starting to get nervous, and wouldn't mind if a group of adventures would be willing to see what is happening inside the cogs.

The effects of the black cog could be relatively minor to catastrophic. IT could be that a few cogs shift into Acheron, and that it all (for now). Or the entire plane could slip into the lower planes. If the DM chooses something closer to the latter, they should make a lot of preparation beforehand because this would alter all the planes in one way or another, because their wouldn't be a Lawful Neutral plane anymore.

ADVENTURE IDEAS: These may be placed separately, they were originally one large adventure, and are show in their former order:

  • Sarjor (Planar / male bariaur / P13 / Athar / CN), Char'trith (Planar / male githzerai / W8 / Xaositect / CN), Marzia (Planar / female half-elf / W(In)10 / Xaositect / CN), and 'Red Hammer' (Planar / male dwarf / F10 / Xaositect / CN) have recently joined together and formed the 'Saviors of Chaos' adventuring party whose only goal is to destroy the Black Cogs. The recently went into the larger cog and where captured by the rouge modron living their. Sarjor was the only one who managed to escape. He is willing to give the PCs a mace of disruption +2 if they help him save his friends. He does not know the powers of the mace, but he does know it is powerful. Sarjor prefers his intelligent claymore +3.
  • A quinton and twelve pentadrones come to investigate the Black Cogs, this is the first time the Modrons have been seen investigating the Black Cogs. As the group nears their destination 10 of the pentadrones suddenly turn on the quinton. The PCS are the only ones close enough to save the quinton. If saved he might answer some questions about the Black Cogs, he knows very little except that the evil modron leader is a hexton.
  • While the PCS are investigating the cogs a large group of hobgoblins suddenly appear on the larger of the two one. They appear stunned for a minute, staring at the equally stunned people around the cogs. Then they scramble into the cog and join forces with the Modrons and Baatezu. The problem isn't the hobgoblins, its the portal. A group of wizards quickly set up wards and seal the portal, but the entire area will soon rip open and let the armies of Acheron in (see 'The Dark of the Cogs'). This could lead to quests for spell components for the wizards to seal the entire area off going to the other side of the budding portal and clearing out the area so the wizards can seal the portal from both sides Or, if all else fails, mustering an army and waiting for the portal to open.

Long Silent City
(by Monte Lin)

A legendary place on the plane, a poet (apparently) trapped once in this burg called it the Long Silent City. She began her imprisonment in a bright white multi-level complex with no doors or windows, and no way out. There was no sound. She found very few other beings, all similarly imprisoned. After some time, she saw, in the corner of her eye, a mirror or window floating in the air. With some experimentation, she would see, never in direct view, and exact copy of the city, but in a darker grey, and with people slowly moving in perfect lines.

She soon found more mirrors like that one, that showed a different view of the City. The most important, was the one that revealed that the walls were made of petitioners, dead spirits of this burg, only moving a very slow speed, almost in a different time zone. Using this mirror, she was able to communicate to the spirits, and they parted the wall, and allowed her to escape to the outside world of Mechanus.

Halirand: City of Lawful Chaotics
(by Jason Black)

Among the many gears of Mechanus, there is one which is somewhat different then all the others. A gear which lies away from the reach of the modrons. On this gear there is a city. This city, Halirand, is like most cities on Mechanus laid out in perfect order by lawful minds. It's even ruled by a lawful government. There is one aspect of Halirand which makes it unique: the people actually invite chaos into their city. That's right, this kingdom of law invites chaos into their own perfect society. The reason is an interesting one, but first, a closer look at the kingdom itself is needed.

The cog which Halirand lies upon is exactly seventeen miles in diameter. On the centre point of the cog lies the Chancellor's Hall. This large building is where the Lord Chancellor Mirkel (Planar / male human / W(C)17 / Fraternity of Order / LN) and the rest of the bureaucrats run the city. The government has a pretty tight grip on almost all aspects of Halirand, which just happens to hold some 9000 inhabitants on average. The Lord Chancellor keep things under control with the aid of the guard captain Drerek Montlem (Planar / male human / F17 / Fraternity of Order / LN). Drerek is a strict kind of fellow, like most people on Mechanus. He is a famous hero to the town, as he helped establish it almost an entire cycle ago. Despite his old age, Drerek looks as though he's in his mid forties. The chant is that he has access to some mighty powerful youth magics provided by the Chancellor whom he serves.

Among the common affairs of the city is the aspect which makes Halirand special. The Lord Chancellor of the city is also the head of a none-too-secret organisation known as the Tamers of Chaos. It's quite a boastful name for any group, but somehow they pull it off. The Tamers, as they are known, are a sect of some one-hundred odd conjurers, warriors, and psionicists who study the nature of chaos. In three laboratories around the Chancellor's Hall the conjurers and psionicists dare to summon chaos into the perfect order of Mechanus. In one laboratory the slaad and other children of chaos are summoned, ensnared, and studied. In another many objects, mundane and magic, which are of a chaotic nature are studied. In the third laboratory are several very powerful containment units which are used to hold the very chaos stuff which composes limbo.

From these various research centres the Lord Chancellor hopes to find the law in chaos, and learn to bend it to his will. Of course, even with all the guards and wizards around the experiments don't always stay under control. The experiments sometimes get out of control more often then the bureaucracy would care for. At least once every 'year' a slaadi horde or some great unleashing of chaos matter causes havoc across Halirand. But after every incident the city guards clean up the mess and the citizens rebuild, simple as that. The Lord Chancellor, however, has been growing disturbed as of late. It seems the Tamers progress over the chaotic matter is progressing far too slow for his liking. He's gone to hiring out of town help.

This new bunch of hirelings seem to be getting the job done much smoother and speedily, but they aren't exactly fitting in with the locals. They're causing for trouble then they're worth, in the locals views anyway. Just within the past week the city guard captured an anarchist or was trying to get the citizens to revolt against the chancellor. Not all is well is the city, and the Lord Chancellor knows it.

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The Planar Architects' Guild
(by Aaron Infante-Levy)

Located on a cog barely visible from Yama's palace, the Planar Architect's Guild is an impressive cathedral-like fortress with vaulted gothic roofs, flying buttresses, and daunting stained glass windows depicting the rotation of the gears. Within its hallowed halls, the great traditions of architecture throughout the planes are carried on in perfect imitation of how they once were. Scholars pour over tome in the library verifying each statue, every angle, all designs, making sure that the work is in line with the prevailing knowledge.

The students here face harsh treatment (those who are particularly disappointing are sent on a "pilgrimage" to Yamasenda, the realm of judgment), but they are some of the most well-lanned, if overly regimented, architects on the planes. Truth is, they are often so skilled that their creations can pass as true innovation when in fact they are simple calculations, incorporating the proper combinations of baroque, mediaeval, gothic, modronic, devanic, and Stygian traditions, mixing part vaulted arches with part metal gear domes decorated sparsely with swaying blades. Opponents of the Planar Architect's Guild are often outspoken, defying the rigid definitions that the high-ups on the cog of architects would impose; none ever remains loud for long, as they sink into poverty, run over by the monolithic dominator, their careers, indeed their dreams crushed.

Far more hear the praises of the Planar Architect's Guild, how Yulindus Pratri was commissioned to design the Sensate's embassy in Sylvania, how the deceased Tol Evon completed the restoration of the Great Sphinx in Heliopolis, and how, recently, If-Then the Expatriate discovered a new planar metal -- conditionalium, a substance unique to certain remote cogs in Mechanus. Though much controversy has risen regarding If-Then's history as a rogue modron member of the Athar faction, none can deny the potential of conditionalium; it responds to smelting in a very interesting manner, by folding in on itself when heated, and unfolding when cooled, forcing smiths to learn special crafting techniques to forge items of conditionalium. Chant is that it responds to every situation in a certain preset manner (who set these conditional, "if-then" statements, as If-Then likes to call them is unknown), and that the Planar Architect's Guild is working to uncover its secrets.  The future of the guild could very well lie in conditionalium, and of late, few have heard of what progress has been made on the research.

SERVICES: Architects for hire, price dependent upon the desired structure, building, statue, or grounds; however, don't expect anything innovative, all designs are made according to rote and tradition.

The Cog that Doesn't Spin
(by Matias Frosterus)
HEARSAY: Somewhere deep in the Mechanus there resides one cog that doesn't seem to follow the laws of the Plane of Absolute Law. It looks normal enough but it has strange effects on time as well as being totally still. There is rumoured to be barmy Guvner somewhere on it but he seems to be very hard to spot from the outside, so in order to be sure, one should set his feet (or appendages or what ever) onto the surface of the cog.

DESCRIPTION: Pressed tightly against two other normal, spinning cogs is an abomination as far as Mechanus is concerned, The Cog That Doesn't Spin. Its edges are set against the centres of the other two cogs, so they don't make it move. It itself looks very ordinary, dark metal and all. Its about 400 metres across and about 30 metres thick.

Somehow though one can't make out any details out of the surface when not standing on the cog itself suggesting that it'd be barren of features. Once a basher steps onto the cog, however, he can make out a medium sized building standing in the centre. This building is a forge and houses Fernaz (Planar / male human / F5 / Fraternity of Order / LN), a Guvner fighter with serious brains. He is quite sagely, although the chain mail and halberd he normally carries with him take away something from graybeard-look. Nobody knows if modrons ever come here.

SPECIAL CONDITIONS: First of all one can't see anything but a featureless cog unless under the effect of the cog. This effect extends five metres from the surface of the cog, but if a cutter is standing on some other cog, he is safe from the time warp. This warping effect follows the following pattern:

1st through 5th day of the cycle time flows at only half speed (so if you spend one day on the cog and then leave, two days have passed in the outside world) 6th through 10th day of the cycle time flows at one quarter speed 11th through 12th it flows at double speed

Fernaz has studied this effect for years and is a great believer in the theory that the cogs of Mechanus make time tick. He also has suggested that perhaps the seemingly lawless appearance of events on the cog (when compared to the rest of the cogs of Mechanus) might mean that it isn't a real Mechanus cog but an artificial construct but by whom and why is anybody's guess.

RECENT HAPPENINGS: Fernaz has promised a reward of 100 gp to the brave berk who will willingly undergo an experiment. All the poor sod has to do, is to be supported in the air over the non-spinning cog so that half of him is in the effect range and the other half on normal speed. Fernaz is unwilling to try this, since he knows all kinds of stuff from medicine also and he thinks that if liver, heart and lungs don't sync, it might cause some quite interesting effects

The Sanctuary
(by Julien Gauthier and Martin Bourassa)

Somewhere in the infinite void of mechanus, seemingly isolated from the other gears of the plane, stands a single gear on a enormous axle. From the face of the cog rise a gigantic mountain covered by vegetation of huge proportions. Nothing extraordinary there: the mountain is smaller than mount Olympus. However this place as gained some measure of notoriety in certain circles.

See, one of the most confusing maze the planes as ever seen extends to the bottom of the cog. It's tunnels slithering endlessly through the earth in an apparently senseless manner. The dimension of the maze is the only thing that attract attention upon this otherwise ordinary (by planar standard) site. There is nothing there to be found except a lonely death lost deep beneath the surface. There is no rumour of treasure to find, monsters to slay or knowledge to discover. This what as kept curious adventurers away. There is nothing farther from the truth. The upper section of the maze (most of it, anyway) consist of simple tunnels bore into the soft earth. Often, roots are apparent on the walls. Once in a while there is a mouldy stone slab set into the wall and carved with ancient symbols. Lower, inside the cog, the earthy tunnels make place to more elaborate, stone tunnels. There the roots doesn't reach, and bones litter the floor. The temperature inside the maze varies depending how deep you are. Near the top there is unbearable heat and humidity, and at some place dense vegetation crawls into the tunnels. It gets colder (and drier) as you get deeper, and In the stone tunnels it is literally freezing.

THE SANCTUARY: The tunnels does have an end and a use. This end is the sanctuary. The sanctuary is a cathedral like place found at the deepest place of the mountain. One tunnel abruptly finishes into a volley of crude stone stairs that lead to a kind of hallway made of some sort of solid sand who sometimes falls into lumps of dirt.The temperature is warmer there and a light comes out of nowhere. A multitude of holes (burrow-like) marks the walls and ceilings. Across the hall there is a magnificent heavy bronze door. Beyond the door there is a grandiose (and gigantic) domed room, supported by three huge columns disposed around an even bigger pillar.

The pillar is carved with symbolic scripture undecipherable by any mundane means. At the base of the pillar statues of horrible winged creatures stand crouched. Their faces, while bestial, look wise. Before each statue there is a stone altar. The very existence of the bleak sanctuary is know by no one.

Here, where nobody can see, the keepers (PSMC Appendix II) meet and report. The keepers seems to take a certain pleasure into socialising with other keepers or just stand there without moving an inch just thinking. The keepers also seem to use this place as a shelter and it's the only known keeper meeting place where they trade information and organise their searches for information. On each sides of the room, tarnished gold stair cases circle the room to meet on a balcony. There a golden door emblazoned with the symbol of the Fraternity of Order. Both the door and the room beyond are apparently more recently constructed than the rest of the sanctuary. The room beyond the door is a library filled with dusty books and old grimoires collected by keepers.

At a certain moment in their life, keepers bring back a notebook filled with information about any subjects and are put on the library's shelves waiting for another keeper to consult them. Keeper have certain function: At certain time in their life, they must report to the heavy entrance door at a certain moment in their life and assume their position until a substitute arrive. The function of great librarian is occupied by the oldest keeper. He must watch over the books and burn them in the case of an invasion. Above the balcony there's a big, heavy silver door that is almost permanently closed.

THE MAZE: In all the maze and the sanctuary there is an odour of rot and corruption. The maze is inhabited by some sort of insectile creature. They are two feet tall if they stood upright, but their long arms favour a stance on all-four. They look like chitinous humanoid moles. Their chitinous body is of varying colour, depending where they are. In the coldness of the stone tunnels it assumes a grey-green tone. Their arms end in clawed paws and help them burrow in stone and earth alike. Their hind legs are short and bent.

Guardians of the Sanctuary

Climate/Terrain: Mechanus, underground
Frequency: Very rare
Organisation: Hive
Activity cycle: Any
Diet: Special
Intelligence: Undetermined
Treasure: None
Alignment: Lawful Neutral

No appearing : 2d10
Armour class: 2
Movement: 9 (Br 12)
Hit dice: 3+3
THAC0: 17
Number of attacks: 3
Damage/attack: 1d6/1d6 1d4
Special attacks: Paralysis
Special defence: See below
Magic resistance: 10%
Size: S (2 feet tall)
Morale: Steady (11-12)
XP value: 175

They seem to derive nourishment directly from the soil. Their mouth looks like a beak with chiton fangs. A long, thin tongue lashes out of there mouth. Their eyes are white orbs: they are blind, but their sense of smell replace their sight. The smell of creatures other than Keepers annoys them, and they seek to eliminate them. They have a reaction that is similar to cruel detachment when faced with other living being, and will rip a berk apart just because they're curious. To them, they are the only sentient beings. The level of intelligence is unknown.

In combat, they swarm their opponent and claw for 1d6 of damage and bite for 1d4 of damage. They can replace their bite with a lash of their tongue, which is coated with a paralysing saliva.

The victim must save versus poison or be unable to move or attack for 2d6 round if hit with the tongue. It is unknown why they leave the keepers alone. Maybe they're used to them, or maybe it's something else.

It's no use trying magic to get to the sanctuary because it's a maze even to spells. So a mage trying to teleport will get stuck in the blinds instead of in the sanctuary, for example. The sill of the sanctuary is magically warded(as death runes) against living beings other than keepers. The nameless creatures nest in the hallway before the sanctuary and they'll drop from the holes on anybody that crosses.

The strangest thing about the sanctuary is that there's more keepers that leave the place than go in.

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The Modron Toyshop
(by Randir)

Everyone loves gizmos, especially the kind with rapidly twirling blades. In the clockwork halls of Mechanus, there exists a lonely toyshop, which holds wonders no one dares play with. Who makes these toys? That's a story for another time...


Highly ornate mechanized chicks, they hop around and peck at anything that gets close to them. A small key fits into a slot in the back which when turned 5 times, winds the springs so that the chickee can run for up to 1 hour.

The Chickees however stand 6 feet tall, and have razor shap beaks. Designed as war machines for a rather odd giant, (rumour has it he paid for them with eggs of gold), they are banned in Sigil, due to the large amount of damage one could do when unleashed on the common citizenry.

AC: 2; HD: 3; Attacks: 1 beak; THAC0: 15; Movement: 6; Dmg: 1d8; Hit Points: 25

Crunching Frogs:

These heavy set atomatons, are shaped as large green tree frogs. Designed as tanks for the slaadi, the Crunching Frogs have four powerful hydrolic limbs, which can propell them through the air for long distances. The only form of offense that the Crunching Frog offers is the damage done by having a giant metal object fall on you.

The Crunching Frogs can hold up to 3 small slaadi, and were to be used primarily as defensive weapons. However, the slaadi had refused to pay for them in the end, so all they have done is gather rust.

AC: 0; Movement: 48; Hit Points: 200; Attacks: 1 crush; THAC0: N/A; Damage: Save vs wands or die.

Copyright 1998 by Jon Winter and credited authors,
gearwork by Belarius, gear spirit and monodrone by Jeremiah Golden

Consult the Mimir Again