Mechanus: Plane of Law

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Mechanus Vista


Mechanus. The very name draws a picture, using set square and protractor, of the Plane of Ultimate Law. A more rational and ordered place you'll not find, but unless you can tumble to the logic behind it, the plane can be even more unfathomable than the chaotic soup of Limbo.

The perfect synthesis of world and machine, the plane is constructed of an infinite number of gears and cogs, connected by an ever-turning array crankshafts, axles and rotors. Where the machine is kept oiled and greased it runs smooth and quiet, with only the gentle creak of metal rubbing against metal and the pungent smell of mechanical lubricant to remind a cutter he's anywhere odd. Oh, and the view -- even a hardened planewalker draws a sharp breath when he first claps eyes on Mechanus.

Where the modrons are less vigilant, nearer the edges of Mechanus (as much as any infinite area can have edges) the grinding can be almost unbearably shrill. It's said that these parts of Mechanus are haunted by unquiet gear spirits, or Mathematicians driven barmy by the manyfold paradoxes of the plane.

A traveller must remember, of course, that Mechanus is far more three-dimensional than many planes. Gears and cogs can be orientated at any angle, but are usually all horizontal or perpendicular to each other (the occasional cog can be found at other angles but these usually have complex connection mechanisms to ensure the motion of the plane is transmitted). Unlike many more "prime-like" Outer Planes, where most of the realms and burgs are found on the surface, there are burgs on Mechanus not only next to one another but stacked above and below, and at right angles. Some large cities can spill over several adjoining cogs, and the rotating bridges that engineers have made to cope with this are a sight to behold!

A number of useful facts about the plane are detailed below, but above all, a visitor should be warned to find out as much about the local laws as she can and stick to them rigidly. On Mechanus, Crime Doesn't Pay.

"The sentence should be light.
All I did was walk on the wrong side of the street."

-- The (late) mage Fiwex to a companion,
while in a Mechanus courtroom.


THE SKY -- Mechanus doesn't have a sky, as such, because the cogs and gears are endless in all directions. Mechanical locations can be found "above" or "below" as well, which makes mapping the place a sodding sight more difficult. The atmosphere of the plane is breathable for any creature -- a fact that's not often remembered. Water-breathing creatures can exist quite happily out of water (assuming they have the correct limbs to move around, that is), although most feel terribly uncomfortable with the idea and will seek to return to water as quickly as possible.

THE GROUND -- Although it's mostly cog and gear, the whole plane's not metal. Much of the hard-wearing framework of Mechanus is steel, iron, or tungsten, but many cogs have soil and vegetation growing atop them. Sure, the trees and flowers are organised in neat rows of ascending height, similar colour and species, but that's what passes for Natural on this perfect plane. Some cogs are actually made of stone, usually a hard granite or millstone grit, but planewalkers report cogs made from wood, slate, chalk, flint (watch out for the sparks!), glassteel, and even (allegedly) ice!

THE LIGHT -- Mechanus is lit by an ambient glow that radiates from the space between the gears, apparently. Some cogs have glowing mosses, pools of lava, continual light spells or burning flames which cast additional shadows, but otherwise the plane is equally light all over. The glow fluctuates regularly across the whole plane, but never to be particularly bright or dark. 'Days' last exactly twelve hours, and 'nights' the same, but lighting conditions vary between an overcast day on Arborea (or a bright one in Sigil!) and dusky twilight.

THE LOCALS -- Even a clueless prime knows Mechanus is the home of the modrons, the clockwork creatures who're responsible for cleaning and maintaining the delicate structure of the plane. Fewer cutters know of the other locals; the gear spirits who protect the machinery with a dryad's fanaticism, or the moigno, mathematical extrapolations come alive. Many sages have studied the ecology of Mechanus, but few can admit to understand the intricacies of the system. While everything that occurs on the plane is theoretically predictable, in practise there are so many variables that creating a working theory becomes humanly impossible. Of course, creatures like the moigno are rather more than mere humans, and many of them try to achieve just this...

THE LANGUAGE -- Curiously enough, all spoken languages can be understood on Mechanus by all cutters. No matter how stupid a basher is, as long as he can talk, he can communicate with any other berk on Mechanus. Unfortunately, this savvy does not extend to the written word, so a basher hoping to use Mechanus' linguistical gift to read an obscure piece of text will have to do it the old-fashioned way...

THE LAWS -- On the plane of Ultimate Law, a cutter had better watch his step. As any cross-trader can tell you, there's nothing stricter than Mechanical law-enforcement, be they modronic, Guvner or just local planar burg dwellers. A thief on this plane had better be good, or have a quick getaway plan, because once caught, there ain't a court in the land that can be fast-talked. However, canny knights of the post have been able to fool Mechanical juries by invoking obscure laws and technicalities. It's a difficult game to play, for nobody understands Law better than these folks, but apparently it's possible. Fail and you're dead, however.



Being a selection of the burgs that have sprung from the infinite cogs and gears of the plane


Being an exploration of several realms of the many powers who call themselves Gods dwelling on the Plane of Gears

PATHWAYS OF THE LAND [coming later]

Being a survey of the planar pathways that forge their way across the Plane of Gears

THE MODRONS [coming later]

Being a glimpse at a society ruled by proxy, and the most detailed chain of command on the planes


Being a compendium of native sons and daughters of Mechanus; creatures of the plane of Cogs


Being a gathering of mortals with ties that bind them to the Plane of Gears


Being a survey of the factions and sects that dwell and thrive between the cogs and gears


Being a calculated guess at the latest chant from this level-headed sect


Being a study of a Mechanical burg which is also the headquarters of an isolated hierarchical sect


Being a modron's-eye view of the glory of the gears


Being a small gallery of artwork of, concerning and inspired by Mechanus


Being a collection of stories told by travellers to the plane

MUSICAL INDUSTRY [coming later]

Being a musical piece inspired by the plane by the rogue modron artist Modrian


Being a place for things that simply refuse to fit in neat little boxes
Gear divider
Copyright 1998 by Jon Winter, gearwork by Belarius, gear spirit by Jeremiah Golden

Congratulations to competition winners: Belarius, Pol Jackson, Joshua Jarvis and Naysayer.
Special thanks to: Jeremiah Golden, James Bronaugh, Jim Barrett, and Martin Bourassa, and indeed all the bloods who sent in chant.

Thanks to everyone who entered the Mechanus competition. I hope you'll agree that this collection of darks on the plane was well worth the effort and a credit to everyone who submitted a piece. Cheers! Jon

Consult the Mimir Again