Gate Town to Mechanus

Location: Outlands / The Brinklands

Rulers: The Council of Order (and the Council of Anarchy secretly)

Where the Outlands touches Mechanus, you’ll find the gate town of Automata, where order’s the word but chaos ain’t so far behind. It’s a place where the streets form a perfect grid, so even the most addle-coved berk can’t get lost. Although finding a place when everything looks the same: that’s another matter. Buildings are set at intervals so precise, a cross-trading knight could set his compass by it. But here’s the dark of it: Automata’s not just about order. 

By day, the Council of Order, led by Captain Arstimis, Juliett-314, and Serafil the priestess, rule the roost. Everything’s done strictly by the book, seemingly with laws for every blink and breath. But come nightfall, the Council of Anarchy takes over, turning the town’s morals on their head, and crime and revelry rule under the cover of darkness.

Automata’s walls are perfectly square, housing about a ten thousand souls. Inside, every block has its purpose—some are for living, others for work, and a few for government, and definitely more than a small burg like this really needs. But the town’s a puzzle, with workshops next to mansions, next to stables, next to armories. The locals say it’s the grand efficient pattern of things, but it’s a mystery to most.

A word to planewalkers. In Automata, you gotta watch your step. Laws govern everything, they’re not always obvious, but breaking ’em ain’t taken lightly. But beneath the surface, there’s another world. A network of tunnels and chambers where crime, violence, and disorder reign. Here, the petitioners of the Outlands balance the scales between law and chaos.

The militia’s split in two—one for the surface, led by Captain Arstimis, and one for the Inverse, a gang led by Leggis Scrog. The surface militia’s all about order, while the underground gang cares more about protection money than laws.

If you’re looking for services, Automata’s got it all, but you gotta know where to look. On the surface, The Divine Machine, run by Tourlac the Halfling, offers hot dinners in a clean, orderly setting. But underground, that’s where the real action is. Hokee Thridun deals in the rare and exotic, offering dangerous work for those willing to take the risk.

This burg’s a paradox, with a surface of order and an underworld of chaos, keeping it firmly rooted in the Outlands, despite the Mechanus agents trying to shift it into the realm of ultimate law.

Organisations of Automata

The Council of Order

The Council of Order stands as the ruling body of Automata above the streets, embodying the city’s devotion to order and structure. This council is made up of three leaders, each representing one Automata’s societal pillars. Their decisions shape the city’s policies, its defences, its commerce, and its spiritual well-being. In a place like Automata, where order reigns supreme, the Council of Order is the linchpin that keeps the city’s gears turning in harmony, ensuring that above the streets at least, the city functions like a well-oiled machine, in stark contrast to the chaotic underbelly that thrives in the shadows below.

First, there’s Arstimis, Captain of the town guard. As a member of the Harmonium, he’s the embodiment of law and order, a staunch defender of the city’s peace and stability. Arstimis is known for his unyielding, almost humourless demeanor. He’s the type of cutter who believes in the letter of the law, and all the punctuation of the law as well, enforcing it with a rigidity that leaves little room for flexibility. His presence on the council ensures that the city’s guard is always vigilant.

Juliett-314 was recently elected to the Council following the retirement of Pelnis the Clockmaker. Juliett-314 (don’t abbreviate it, berk!) is cheerful for a modron but has strong and unyielding opinions on most matters. They oversee commerce, and act as the supreme auditor of the burg, ensuring the merchandise produced by artisans is of regulation quality.

Lastly, Serafil, a priest of Lei Kung, represents the temples of Automata. A member of the Fraternity of Order, she is the voice of reason and law within the realm of the divine. Serafil’s ties to the temples give her perspective on the spiritual and moral guidance of the city. Her devotion to Lei Kung, the Lord of Thunder, speaks to her character – powerful, commanding, yet deeply aligned with the principles of law and unfortunately bordering on the sanctimonious. She ensures that the temples and their teachings remain an integral part of the city’s governance, balancing the mechanical precision of Automata with spiritual depth and wisdom.

Council High-Ups

  • Captain Arstimis (planar githzerai futurist [he/him] / Harmonium / LN)
  • Juliett-314 (planar octon modron [they/them] / LN)
  • Serafil (planar tiefling priest of Lei Kung [she/her] / Guvners / LN)

The Council of Anarchy

The Council of Anarchy, the stark contrast to the Council of Order, operates in the shadowy underbelly of Automata. They’re the shadow rulers of Automata, the unseen hands that guide the city’s hidden heart. They’re a necessary evil in a city where order and chaos are in constant contention, and probably the only thing that’s stopping Automata from sliding over into Mechanus. Comprised of three two unique and influential cutters, and three that are distinctly non-unique, the Council barely governs the lawlessness that simmers beneath the city’s orderly façade. Each member represents a distinct faction.

First, there’s Leggis Scrog, a master thief said to be a high-up in the Hands of Havoc, and the iron fist for the criminals in Automata. Wily and unpredictable, Leggis operates with a moral compass that often points in directions only he understands. Update: The latest chant is that Scrog was scragged and is now serving a sentence as His Primus’ leisure in a Mechanical Prison.

Aurach the Fair, an erinyes, brings the fiery charm and the ironclad order of the Nine Hells to the council. Representing the fiends, her motivations as intricate as the webs she weaves. Her presence is a reminder that even in the midst of anarchy, there’s a place for order – albeit a twisted, infernal version of it. She’s the embodiment of manipulation, using her wits and charms to sway the council’s decisions in favour of her hellish agenda.

Ravis Corcuncewl, a human petitioner, represents the vagrants of Automata’s Inverse. He’s a neutral voice among the chaos, a counterbalance to the extreme natures of Leggis and Aurach. Ravis’s story is one of tragedy and endurance, a human who’s seen too many faces of the planes and barely lived to tell the tale. He speaks for those without a voice, ensuring that the council doesn’t lose sight of the plight of the many who struggle in the shadows of the city.

Recently, a trio of rogue decaton modrons have joined / forced their way onto the Council of Anarchy. More a protection racket than politicians, these modrons delight in confusing cutters by appearing completely identical and not revealing their names. They’ve muscled into the Inverse and now demand jink in return for shielding it from the Council of Order.

Council High-Ups

  • Leggis Scrog (planar githzerai thief [he/him] / Hands of Havoc / NE) 
  • Aurach the Fair (planar erinyes baatezu [she/her / LE)
  • Ravis Corcuncewl (petitioner human [he/him] / N)
  • Modron trio (planar decaton rogue modrons [they/them] / LE)

Cutters of Automata

  • Beltha (planar githzerai zerth [she/her] / CN) – an agitator and outlaw of the Inverse
  • Geron the Mechanist (petitioner human [he/him] / Fraternity of Order / LN)
  • Heiron Lifegiver (planar half-elf wizard [he/him] / N) -accomplished if erratic wizard in hiding from the Council of Anarchy
  • Jezrene the Quickeye (prime elf wizard/thief [she/her] / NE) – a notorious enforcer thug answering to the council of Anarchy
  • Kit and Kot (planar quadrone modrons [they/them] / CN) – anarchist modrons of the Inverse
  • Kythkyr (planar red slaad [they/them] / CN) – hostile thug basher of the Inverse
  • Loctus – local explorer, notorious bubber, recently disappeared
  • Muenscaal (planar tiefling fighter [she/her] / Indeps / N) – retired planewalker and close friend of Heiron
  • Romerillo (planar tiefling spy [they/them] / CG) – seeking refuge on the Upper Planes and trying to sneak aboard the Concordant Express
  • Seven (planar modron [they/them] / LN) – something of a burg mascot, Seven has been numbered and tattooed by the locals
  • The Timekeeper (planar nonaton modron [they/them] / LN) – oversees operations in the Concord Terminus
  • Xannick (planar dwarf firestarter [he/him] / Hands of Havoc / CN) – a go-between cross-trader who frequents the Inverse and Automata proper, looking for trouble

Locations in Automata

The Mechanical Gate

The Gate to Mechanus is a sight to behold and a marvel of planar engineering. Situated in the heart of a bustling burg in the Outlands, this gate is a colossal structure, standing tall and proud in the centre of the town. It’s not just a simple archway, oh no. This gate is an elaborate construction, resembling an intricate clockwork machine, its design echoing the Plane of Law. Gears upon gears, cogs interlocking with perfect precision, the entire structure moves in a harmonious rhythm of metal and magic.

The gate’s surface is adorned with metallic patterns forming a mesmerising mosaic of order and symmetry. It’s said that the design is not just for show; the patterns are a complex language of their own, a code that speaks of the laws and the rigid structure that governs Mechanus, and are essential for aligning the realities to connect the Outlands and Mechanus.

When you approach the gate, you can hear the gentle hum and the soft clinking of its moving parts. It’s like listening to the heartbeat of a plane. Activating the gate is a spectacle in itself. When the portal opens, it’s not with a simple flash of light, but with the gears aligning, the cogs turning in a specific pattern just so, creating a harmonious convergence of mechanical and magical energies. The air shimmers, and the boundary between the Outlands and Mechanus becomes porous, a gateway between the chaotic neutrality of one and the ordered perfection of the other.

Travelers who step through the gate often speak of a feeling of transition, not just in space but in mindset. On one side, the relative freedom and unpredictability of the Outlands; on the other, the absolute order and predictability of Mechanus. It’s like stepping from a world of shades and hues into a realm of moral black and white, stark and unyielding.

Concord Terminus

Attached to the rear of the Mechanus Gate, the Concord Terminus is a station for the plane-travelling clockwork locomotive run by modrons that regularly arrives through the gate. You can set your sundial by the regularity of the service; in living memory, it has always run on time.

Gate Travel Administration

This perfectly square building is where a cutter will first see the full scale of the bureaucratic machinery of the modron hierarchy. Anyone wishing to travel to Mechanus requires the correct permit for travel, which requires passing a background check, which requires application forms in triplicate. There’s a queue for application forms, and of course a check for eligibility to receive an application form, which itself has a queue. A berk will need to draw upon the patience of all the saints to get through the process, which they won’t be surprised is the inspiration for the term ‘modron headache‘. Allow at least 26 hours for all of the paperwork. Bring a bag of holding to carry it all. In the meantime, you might want to consider getting a room at the Divine Machine, where if you ask nicely, the prorietors might even help you with the forms…

Automata Crossbows

This workshop, run by Geron the Mechanist, creates some of the most sought-after weapons this side of the Great Ring. More details here.

The Divine Machine


Tourlac (petitioner halfling [he/him] / N) — Tourlac is friendly and apologetic, especially if patrons are of a tall persuasion.

Belda Beanfoot (planar halfling [she/her] / LN) — Belda is fussy and businesslike, quite the opposite of Tourlac.

Now here’s a spot in Automata you don’t wanna miss, especially if you’re a bit on the short side. This inn’s a perfect mirror of Automata’s love for symmetry, but mind you, it’s all halfling-sized. So, if you’re a towering giant, you might find yourself feeling like a bumbling ogre in a gnome’s garden.

The place is always bustling, a hive of activity. The inn’s run by this friendly halfling couple called Tourlac and Belda. Tourlac is a chap with a heart as big as the Plane of Water and a smile that could light up even the dreariest corner of the Gray Waste. His knack for hospitality’s second to none, and he makes sure every guest, no matter their stature, feels right at home. He recently married Belda, whose shrewd business brain-box has turned the Inn into a more profitable establishment, particularly by renting out rooms to cutters waiting for their travel papers to be authorised by the Mechanus authorities.

Now, let’s talk scran. The dinners at The Divine Machine, they’re something else. Hot, hearty, and served up in generous portions that could satisfy even that bumbling ogre, let alone a famished halfling. You’ve got your stews that bubble like a wizard’s cauldron, breads that’d make a baker weep with joy, and ales that dance on the tongue like a team of sprightly pixies. The furnishings, they’re a treat! Tiny chairs, pint-sized tables, everything so meticulously crafted you’d think they were made by the finest gnome artisans.

The Inn has also branched out from bub into coffee, imported from Gehenna and guaranteed to wake you up. Belda has a team of monodrones serving the stuff but the process is a little complex for them and Tourlac ends up doing most of the work anyway.

The Divine Machine is a slice of halfling hospitality in the midst of Automata’s rigid order. So, next time you find yourself wandering those too-perfect streets, do yourself a favour and pop in for an exquisite bite to eat and a coffee of variable quality.

Pelnis the Clockmaker

Pelnis the Clockmaker is a name well-known in both Automata and Sigil. This berk’s not a run-of-the-mill tinker; he’s an artisan whose craft has perfected the melding of gears and springs. Pelnis is a true master of the mechanical, creating tiny, ornate clockwork pets that are marvels of artistry and engineering.

His shop, nestled in one of the orderly and precise streets of Automata, is a hidden trove of wonder. Step inside, and you’re greeted by the gentle ticking and soft whirring of countless tiny mechanical creations. The air is filled with the musical clinking of metal. The walls are lined with shelves, each one home to rows of meticulously crafted clockwork creatures – songbirds that sing melodies sweet as flesh-and-blood bird, guppies that swim in glass bowls without needing a drop of water, insects that buzz and flutter with delicate wings, and rodents that scurry with lifelike agility.

Each piece is a work of art, crafted with a precision that would make a modron ticktock in approval. The clockwork pets are not just mere replicas; they’re infused with such intricate details and personality that you’d swear they were alive. Pelnis’s creations are particularly popular in Sigil’s Lady’s Ward, where the high and mighty seek unique and exotic pets to showcase their status and wealth and amuse their children. 

Pelnis himself is as intriguing as his creations. He’s a petitioner, and some say he’s as old as the cogs and gears he works with. Chant goes he got lost in a world of tiny springs and sprockets and forgot he was sent here to ascend. His eyes, magnified by thick spectacles, miss no detail, and his fingers work with a deftness that belies their age. He’s a quiet cutter, more at home amongst his mechanical menagerie than with flesh-and-blood folk. But get him talking about his craft, and his face lights up like a lantern, revealing a passion that’s as fiery as any forge.

The Inverse

The Inverse, also called the Automata Underground, is a place that’s as shadowy as the darkest corners of Sigil’s Hive, yet buzzing with as much life as the Great Bazaar. Hidden right beneath those too-perfect, orderly streets of Automata, it’s a world of its own, a sharp mirror contrast to the discipline above.

First thing you’ll notice is the gravity. The tunnels under Automata’s streets aren’t only chaotic, they’re upside down! Relative to the surface streets at least—once a cutter has descended thirty feet and undergone the stomach-churning gravity flip, everything seems the right way up again.

The second thing you’ll notice is the air, thick with the scents of a thousand spices and the smoky whispers of clandestine deals. The Inverse a labyrinth of machinery, gantries and open bridges, stalls and cloaked figures, where the line between the lawful and the forbidden blurs. The market’s alive at all hours, but it truly comes to life when the streets above go dark.

Cutters who know the dark of things will seek out Hokee Thridun (planar tiefling wizard [he/him] / Dustmen / LE), who sells the rarest and most exotic goods for a select clientele. Hokee’s stall is a gem hidden amongst thorns. Surrounded by a haze of otherworldly incense, his place is a trove of forbidden knowledge. He’s got things on display that would make a Guvner’s eyes pop out. Artifacts that hum with arcane energy, scrolls etched with ancient mathematical spells smuggled out of Mechanus. And oh, the clockwork creatures he has in cages! Mechanical beasts from all across the cogs of the Plane of Law.

But mind you, dealing with Hokee ain’t for the faint-hearted. He’s as cunning as an osyluth and as charming as an erinyes, a combination that could charm the coins right out of your pouch. His wares, while tempting, often come with a price higher than gold.

The Inverse itself is a maze, a chaotic tangle of alleys and dead ends, teeming with traders and thieves, poets and pickpockets. You’ll find things here that you can’t buy above ground without a handful of permits, or things that are out and out banned. 

So, if you ever find yourself wandering the clockwork streets of Automata and stumble upon a well-hidden stairway leading down into the underbelly of the city, tread carefully, ad hold on to your lunch when you hit the gravity plane. The Inverse is a place of wonders and perils alike, so always keep one hand on your coin pouch and the other on your blade. You never know what might lurk around the next shadowy corner.

Hall of Order

The seat of government of the Council of Order. And ironically, also of the Council of Anarchy, who run a mockery of the whole establishment in their Hall of Disorder, in forgotten cellars deep beneath the Hall’s foundations.

McGuvol’s Stabling Establishment

Providing warm housing and hay for flesh horses (2 sp/night), and dry and secure housing for clockwork steeds (1 sp/night).

Thandol’s Smoked Meats

Proprietor: Thandol (petitioner human [he/him] / LN) – a lively elderly man who, like the preserved meats that he sells, smells of smoke and paprika.

Canonical Sources:

The best sources on Automata are:

  • The Great Modron March [2e] p4-22 (adventure set in Automata),4,7-8,32-33,114,123 (other brief mentions)
  • Player’s Primer to the Outlands [2e] p8-9 (two page description & map), 23 (mention)
  • Planescape Campaign Setting: Sigil & Beyond [2e] p28-29 (burg description)
  • Sigil & the Outlands [5e] p62-63 (burg description)
  • Turn of Fortune’s Wheel [5e] p36-39 (chapter set in the burg, especially the Inverse)

Other mentions:

  • Fires of Dis [2e] p44 (brief mention of scholars from Automata)
  • Factol’s Manifesto [2e] p47 (mentioned as part of Doomguard plot)
  • Faction War [2e] p24 & In the Cage [2e] p70 (mention clockwork pets from Automata)
  • Keys from the Golden Vault [5e] p160-175 (an adventure set aboard the Concordant Express)
  • Planescape Monstrous Compendium Vol. 2 [2e] p22 (slang term about demarax)
  • Manual of the Planes [3e] p149 (mentioned in table of ‘portal towns’)
  • Planes of Law: Mechanus [2e] p4 (details on the gate to Mechanus)
  • Planewalker’s Handbook [2e] p10 (brief mention), 13 (map)

Source: Jon Winter-Holt. I blended the 2e and 5e visions of Automata together, retiring Pelnis from the Council of Order and adding the other new characters from Sigil & Beyond. Scrog has been scragged. Belda is a new addition to the Divine Machine and has been shaking up the place. The Underground has been renamed to the Inverse in 5e, which I think I prefer.

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