[ Bytopia ] [ Dothion | Shurrock ]


The Twin Paradises, Land of Just Rewards

Themes of the Layer: Industriousness, competition, an honest day’s work

All Work and no Play makes Bytopia a Dull Plane.

Don’t think that for a single second, cutter! You only have to meet a gnome to see that they love to work and play hard. Bytopia is about reaping the profits from your work, but not in the Arcadian agricultural way—Bytopia is harsher and wilder. Bytopians love a challenge whether it be labour, riddle or sport.

They’re totally committed to the common good, in fact they’re totally committed to whatever they do. There’s no room for laziness on Bytopia, in fact in some parts of the plane not pulling your weight is downright illegal. The petitioners here dedicate their life to trying to better themselves. Just look at the terrain: Only someone totally committed to work would try and farm a piece of rock, let alone two end to end.

The Lay of the Land

Now you’d better believe that Bytopia is a uniquely weird plane in the Great Ring. If you’re a green prime just wanderin’ in, first thing you’ll notice is how everything in Bytopia’s doubled up. Two layers, Dothion and Shurrock, lookin’ at each other like long-lost twins. it’s like some barmy god flipped over the second layer and sandwiched it on top of the first, upside down! Yes cutter, the two layers are stacked so they face each other across the sky, Dothion at the bottom and Shurrock upside down on top. Or is that the other way around? Well, the Astral connects to Dothion so most graybeards reckon that makes it the first layer. How does Shurrock stay up there without falling down? Turns out some of the taller mountains of the two layers are actually high enough to touch each other, forming columns that literally hold up the sky. How’s that for community eh?

The largest of these connected mountains is called Centrespire, and it’s a major thoroughfare route to get from one layer to the other. Wide spiral steps are carved up and down the spire, because Bytopia is a plane that wants to see you make an effort to get around it. Unlike pretty much any other plane, it’s possible literally walk from one layer to the next—or perhaps I should say climb. Like anything on Bytopia it’s hard work. You just need to watch out for the middle part, where gravity gets a bit wobbly—but must planewalkers get used to that eventually. There are some portals, sure but intra-planar doorways and gates are much rarer than on other planes.

There’s no sun or moon here, but there is day and night. The sky between the layers glows like daylight, and then turns dark at night. There aren’t stars, but you can see the campfires and cooking fires from the other layer when the skies are clear. Since there are many more cutters living on hospitable Dothion compares with rugged Shurrock, that means the skies of Dothion are largely dark at night, while in Shurrock they’re studded with beautiful lights in clusters where there are burgs. Well—when it’s not raining in Shurrock, that is. And it usually is, because the weather, and just about everything really, is much more challenging in Shurrock. It’s where Bytopia pulls off its gloves and says, ‘alright cutter, let’s see what you’re made of’.

Pray for a good harvest, but keep plowing

—Bytopian saying

There’s Stubborn, and there’s a Bytopian

Its strange landscape aside, Bytopia is the plane of hard work and just desserts. This place is the embodiment of cooperation; fair trade, fair wages, and a fair community—if a body pulls their weight, that is. Though folks of Bytopia won’t let a sod starve, they also begrudge charity, expecting berks to work for what they get. Oh yes; a cutter’s going to have to make an effort for anything here, but the rewards they’ll reap will be worth it. Deals made in Bytopia tend to be mutually beneficial. Or so the Bytopians claim. 

If a Bytopian says they’re going to do something then they’ll make sure it’ll get done or they’ll die trying. That’s what is so unique about them: They’re stubborn. “That ain’t unique!” I hear you cry. But it is: They’re stubborn in an especially stubborn way. Unlike the Hardheads who’re just stubborn about how you should think, or the Guvners who’re stubborn about how you and the multiverse should act—Bytopians are just plain Stubborn.

Some cutters reckon they’ve got too much Earth in their blood—Bytopia’s about the only place you’ll find Earth genasi comfortable on the Outer Planes. The Bytopians seem to be encouraging the growth of Stone Champions by nurturing discontent individuals then sending them on their way.

The Game’s the Thing

Don’t be mistaken and think it’s all just a cycle of work. The Bytopians hold regular sporting competitions famous throughout the Upper Planes (it’s rumoured that even the Olympians are a little jealous of their reputation). To even be considered for entry is a mark of respect. Aasimon come from over the Upper Planes to compete against Bytopia’s natives and petitioners, as do planars. There are no prizes other than success itself but pretty much every Bytopian aims at being able to participate in the games.

All this rivalry can go too far, Bytopians can be fiercely competitive and think of devious ways to improve themselves. This ain’t exactly Mount Celestia and they don’t mind bending the odd rule here or there. Even close friends can be temporarily driven apart by differing goals, but at the end of the day they’ll get back together. After a day’s works done, the Bytopians get together to celebrate their achievements – whether it be by drinking, tales round a hearth, riddle contests or joking.

All in all the Bytopians are a tolerant lot – it’s not who you are that count’s it’s what you do. They’re not arrogant either, but show a patient understanding enough to drive a cutter barmy. They’ll easily forgive minor wrongs done in the day and make sure that when they go to bed that no ill feeling remains.

Fancy an Honest Day’s Work, Cutter?

A useful tip, this: Bytopia’s a good place for an impoverished plane-walker to stop off for a bit, as you can often get a good feed and kip for a days hard work. The Bytopians are always willing to put you up, as long as you can put up with them. It ain’t all easy pickings though; the Bytopians are a sly and secretive lot. They’ve got a set of rules that if you break you’ll be in trouble.

Unfortunately, they deem it fun to let you find out what these rules are. As a general rule, if you don’t shirk or loiter you should be all right. They’re hospitable though and as long as you don’t overstay your welcome, you’ll eat more than you ever thought you could. The Bytopians encourage visitors to work with them and are even setting up work camps where travellers can work for a longer time. “Encourages betterment of self”, they say. Too much like hard work if you ask me.

The Darks Going Down

Just because the inhabitants of Bytopia work a lot doesn’t mean that there’s no dark there. People say that there’s no native races (like Celestia’s archons or Baator’s baatezu) because everyone’s too busy to evolve into them. I heard in the Hive from a barmy gnome that there actually are native races on Bytopia but they’re occupied with working some monumental task on the Inner Planes. Not likely, I reckon. After all, what could they be doing…building Prime worlds? Subduing the earth? If they are out there trying something, it’s a cert that they’ll be there until they succeed.

Another rumour about that I heard is that the Bytopians are attempting to encourage the Mercykillers to send prisoners to their plane to work. I’ve heard of hard labour on the Lower Planes, but hard labour and attempted reformation in the ‘Twin Paradises’—what a terrible thought!

One last warning: Don’t try to cross a Bytopian. They can get fanatical about justice. If you’ve heard of the blood-feuds of Al-Qadim you’re on the right track. Scary thought having homicidal gnomes chasing you? It should be.

A bard wove me an old tale about two Bytopians who were trying to gain favour with donations—one was a farmer of gems and the other a miner of gold. Thing is the one thought the other had cheated and spilt his blood on sacred soil. Supposedly there’s a tree there now that the murderer was changed into. You’ll swing from it if you cross them and their secret laws.

Dothion — Layer the First

Dothion, the pretty one of the Bytopian twins, as some might say. Picture rolling fields, far as the eye can see, like the meadows of Abellio, except the flowers aren’t organised by colours in neat rows. Oh, and like some insane giant threw dozens of columnar mountains at the plane, piercing it. And then squished Buxenus upside down on top. Scratch that, it’s nothing at all like Arcadia really, is it? There are rivers and lakes, hills and mountains, swamps and forests, just like most prime worlds. But the mountains are taller and steeper, often more like pillars, or smaller versions of the Spire of the Outlands. Some of them are so tall that they cross the centre point of the plane, the gap of sky between the two layers like the filling in a rather disappointing sandwich. Centrespire is an example of one of these, but there are countless more dotted throughout the plane, helping to keep the layers apart.

Find more chant on Dothion here…

Shurrock — Layer the Second

Shurrock is all about surviving through grit and guile. While Dothion prizes cooperation, Shurrock reckons strength, whether of mind or muscle, should determine your lot. The folk here live by the maxim, “Earn or Burn”—either you earn your keep, or you get burned by someone or something tougher or smarter than you. Not so much an evil place, but a place where good’s got a set of sharp teeth and ain’t afraid to use ’em.

Shurrock also represents the endless battle to reap the bounty of an untamed natural world. The layer is riddled with mines, which yield the purest metal ores, quarries which product the best rocks, and forests of hardwood trees which are simply unbeatable for building—although this bounty is hard won in the harsh climate here. The raw materials are carried to Dothion for the artisan workshops there, in a trade that is beneficial for cutters of both layers.

Find more chant on Shurrock here…

More details to follow!

Source: Paul Nasrat and Jon Winter-Holt,

Canonical References: See also the excellent Planes of Conflict boxed set for more details on Bytopia.

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