Clockwork Universe, Gear Plane, Nirvana, Plane of Ultimate Law

Welcome to the Machine

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 of Mechanus does not have layers per se, but instead is constructed from an infinite number of gears and cogs, in turn connected by an ever-turning array of 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 they first clap eyes on Mechanus.

Where the caretakers of the machine are less vigilant, nearer the edges of Mechanus (as much as any infinite area can have edges) the grinding intensified, and 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 either 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 they 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

Physical Conditions of Mechanus

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 surprises many travellers. 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 seek to return to water as quickly as possible. The air varied from fresh and crisp in the regions where the cogs are well-spaced, to smoggy and oily or polluted and grimy in the depths of the machine.

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. 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’ve made themselves responsible for cleaning and maintaining the delicate structure of the plane. Of course, the Fraternity of Order is drawn to the plane like a moth to dancing lights, but there’s a local sect called the Mathematicians too. The humanoid axiomites may be rare, but their history is closely entwined with that of the other races. Their offspring, the Inevitables, are mighty enforcers of societal law on Mechanus and beyond. Fewer cutters know of the other locals; the gear spirit petitioners who protect the machinery with a dryad’s fanaticism, or the moigno, mathematical extrapolations come alive. The most mysterious of all are the Aeons, weird creatures that protect the physical laws of the multiverse itself, who may or may not be emanations of the plane itself. Many sages have studied the ecology of Mechanus, but few can admit to understand the intricacies of the highly complex 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 they can talk, they 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, an ask a graybeard.

THE LAWS—On the plane of Ultimate Law, a cutter had better watch their step. As any cross-trader can tell you, there’s nothing stricter than Mechanical law-enforcement, be they Guvner, inevitable 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.

Locations of Mechanus

  • 1st Sector (site)
  • 9th Sector (site)
  • Anu’s Way (realm of Anu)
  • Axis (city of the axiomites)†
  • Centre, the (site)
  • Delon-Estin-Oti (independent burg)
  • Disc of Day and Night, the (realm of Ahau Kin)
  • Doomcourt (realm of Hoar)
  • Everwatch (realm of Helm and Mystra)
  • Focus of Energy (realm of Rudra)
  • Fortress of Disciplined Enlightenment (Guvner citadel)
    • Catalogues of Enlightenment
    • Office of the Sub-Bursar
  • Garden of Practicality and the House of Teaching, the (realm of Itzamna and Ix Chel)
  • Gleaming Spire, the (realm of Avani)
  • Great Library (site)
  • Haven (independent burg)
  • Jade Palace (realm of Shang-ti)
  • Keep of the Eternal Sun (realm of Amaunator; abandoned)
  • Labyrinthine Portal (planar pathway)
  • Nemausus / Menausus (unstable region)
  • Neumannus (site)
    • Life Molds of Neumannus
  • Mictlan (realm of the Aztec pantheon)
  • Mycelia (realm of Psilofyr)
    • Palace of Psilofyr (site)
  • Mythenosca (myconid burg)
  • Path of Law, the (realm of Pholtus)
  • Plurality (independent burg)
  • Regulus (modron realm)
    • Central Office for the Punishment of Offenders (site)
    • Central Office of Processing and Requests (site)
    • Great Modron Cathedral (site)
    • Great Orrery(site)
    • Primus’ Tower (realm of Primus)
  • Right to Rule (burg of the Legislate sect)‡
  • River Hister (planar pathway)
  • Sector 112 (site)
  • Shaking Land, the (realm of Nai No Kami)
  • Vigilant Eye, the (realm of Varuna)
  • Waterwheel, the (realm of Enki; abandoned)
  • Wheel of Time, the (realm of Lendor)
  • Yamasadena (realm of Yama)
    • Vaitarani (river)

Powers of Mechanus

  • Ahau Kin (Maya power of the sun)‡
  • Amaunator (power of the sun, rulership; dead)
  • Anu (Babylonian power of the sky, pantheon leader)
  • Avani (Cerilian power of the Sun)
  • Aztec pantheon
  • Enki (Sumerian power of water; dead)
  • Hoar (Faerunian power of revenge and retribution)
  • Helm (Faerunian power of guardians and protection)
  • Itzamna (Maya power of writing and teaching)‡
  • Ix Chel (Maya power of childbirth and medicine)‡
  • Lendor (Oerdian power of time)
  • Nai No Kami (Japanese power of earthquakes)
  • Pholtus (Oerdian power of light and law)
  • Primus (the primal modron)
  • Psilofyr (myconid power of community and healing)
  • Rudra (Vedic power of storms and disease)
  • Shang-ti (Chinese power of nobles, pantheon leader)
  • Varuna (Vedic power of cosmic order and dharma)
  • Yama (Vedic power of judgement of the dead)

Philosophies of Mechanus

More details to follow!

Source: Jon Winter-Holt,

Canonical References: See also the excellent Planes of Law boxed set for more details on Mechanus. Canonwatch: Entries are from D&D canon unless otherwise marked, although when the canon is sparse I’ve got creative with the details; † adapted from a 3rd party publication; ‡ homebrew.

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