Shemeska's Planescape Storyhour - (Updated 09November2022)

Tsuga C

Adventurer
You make the 'loths very easy to oppose philosophically by peeling back the glamour of evil and showing them as they truly are: sadistic, self-indulgent, and nihilistic.
 

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Coroc

Hero
I'm glad that you think that I do them justice!

And as for showing them as they truly are: Oh, you 'aint seen nothing yet.
Now i am curious, will this be resolved within the story hour? Is there some part of lore which goes much further than the many things we read so far?
 

Shemeska

Adventurer
Now i am curious, will this be resolved within the story hour? Is there some part of lore which goes much further than the many things we read so far?

It'll be resolved within this storyhour. I'm thinking of a few specific incidents involving some specific 'loths being very true to their nature.
 


Shemeska

Adventurer
Hey Shemi, is there going to be an explanation as to why the Baerns wanted that move on Athas world?

Athas was a means to an end.

There are already hints as to why and what for. There are suggestions that Daru's box is similar in some capacity to Ghyris Vast's "Divinity Leech" and that both were designed by Lazarius ibn Shartalan, The Architect. Now one of those was clearly operating on behalf of the Baern while the other was being run by Shylara the Manged at the behest of the Oinoloth. So on some level they're working with the same stuff, the siphoned power of gods, but precisely to what end remains to be seen. And at the same time, Cilret Leobtav did something similar with the imprisoned god of the Gautiere in the Outlands. So three different parties working with divine essence. How that all plays together and who is planning what is the big question.
 

Karsten

Villager
Thnx Shemi,

So there are clearly 3 agendas over more or less the same purpose...or is there 1 agenda split into 3 different "working groups"??lol...

I was also wondering, now that we learnt that "the Ebon" means "Hubris", how far down the road is his true identity going to be revealed?

Last but not least...I'm looking forward to see when and how the Upper Planes are going to get involved in this, as I cannot imagine that they will be simply observers.

Having read the story thus far, I have to congratulate you from my side too! You've built a splendid web of plot(s). Kudos!
 

Shemeska

Adventurer
Thnx Shemi,

So there are clearly 3 agendas over more or less the same purpose...or is there 1 agenda split into 3 different "working groups"??lol...

I was also wondering, now that we learnt that "the Ebon" means "Hubris", how far down the road is his true identity going to be revealed?

Last but not least...I'm looking forward to see when and how the Upper Planes are going to get involved in this, as I cannot imagine that they will be simply observers.

Having read the story thus far, I have to congratulate you from my side too! You've built a splendid web of plot(s). Kudos!
You can imagine a circle of 'loths repeatedly stabbing one another, with each of them laughing and going, "Hahaha I'm brilliant! Look at how much those fools are getting hurt!"

Relatively late on a full and open tell-all on Vorkannis. There will be repeated hints prior to that.

The seeming absence of the Upper Planes thus far seems conspicuous yes. But it's for a reason that hasn't remotely been explained yet. There will be a plot arc that explores this. They will eventually have a bigger role, but again, late.

And I forgot one bit. It's not just 3 groups or 3 agendas. It's 4. Chorazin ibn Shartalan, the Thrice-Damned. They've been mentioned once so far in passing and we haven't met them. We will and we'll get a deep dive into yugoloth pre-history.
 

Coroc

Hero
You can imagine a circle of 'loths repeatedly stabbing one another, with each of them laughing and going, "Hahaha I'm brilliant! Look at how much those fools are getting hurt!"

Relatively late on a full and open tell-all on Vorkannis. There will be repeated hints prior to that.

The seeming absence of the Upper Planes thus far seems conspicuous yes. But it's for a reason that hasn't remotely been explained yet. There will be a plot arc that explores this. They will eventually have a bigger role, but again, late.

And I forgot one bit. It's not just 3 groups or 3 agendas. It's 4. Chorazin ibn Shartalan, the Thrice-Damned. They've been mentioned once so far in passing and we haven't met them. We will and we'll get a deep dive into yugoloth pre-history.
i cannot await it, i so hope you have much time for your update postings. You really could make a book out of it, i would gladly buy it.
 

Karsten

Villager
The seeming absence of the Upper Planes thus far seems conspicuous yes. But it's for a reason that hasn't remotely been explained yet. There will be a plot arc that explores this. They will eventually have a bigger role, but again, late.

Indeed it seems conspicuous and odd.
Truth is that ever since Belierin "incident" we did not get the slightest glimpse of anything that might be "brewing" on the Uppers.
So, I merely ask, is that "reason" so strong/serious that you chose not to divulge anything over this? (I assume your answer would be yes, but maybe you can explain it a bit...)

It's not just 3 groups or 3 agendas. It's 4. Chorazin ibn Shartalan, the Thrice-Damned.
True that. It was my mistake. ;)
 


carborundum

Adventurer
Peak is a timekeeping term used in Sigil. It is equivalent to mid-day, the time of day that the light in the Burg is at its brightest, or its peak. It's opposite, anti-peak is equivalent to midnight, when the night is at its darkest and fartherst away from its brightest. Time in Sigil is counted in hours away from one of these two times. For instance, early afternoon is generally from peak to five-after-peak and night is from six-after-peak until six-before-peak. Late night is three-before-anti-peak until five-after-anti-peak.

(Quick dash to planewalker.com)
 

Shemeska

Adventurer
Peak is a timekeeping term used in Sigil. It is equivalent to mid-day, the time of day that the light in the Burg is at its brightest, or its peak. It's opposite, anti-peak is equivalent to midnight, when the night is at its darkest and fartherst away from its brightest. Time in Sigil is counted in hours away from one of these two times. For instance, early afternoon is generally from peak to five-after-peak and night is from six-after-peak until six-before-peak. Late night is three-before-anti-peak until five-after-anti-peak.

(Quick dash to planewalker.com)
Thank you for answering that one for me!

I would have actually explained something else because I didn't get the question was about the meaning of antipeak. I was going to address what Shemeska was obliquely referring to: that people she whips with razorvine, and draws blood from, the razorvine from her crown can apparently absorb memories and knowledge from them and she sift through them later. What's going on there is something that will eventually be explored, but not for a long while still.
 

carborundum

Adventurer
Woah. I'd been collecting info on Sigil for my own game and jumped to a conclusion. The question you answered is much more interesting
 





Shemeska

Adventurer
Their faces were decidedly unhappy as they walked up the steps into the eerily silent courtyard of Dubai’s Obscure Woe. They’d sought, they’d found, and their morally dubious success had netted them only another place to go and an answer to a question that they hadn’t even asked. Frustration in various degrees played across their faces as they stepped into the open air, a multitude of soft gasps echoing about the silence as several of them had held their breath when walking out of the baernaloth’s lair, finding the air in the Gehenna-influenced region of the Outlands that surrounded the gatetown of Torch to be infinitively more palatable.

None of them said a word until they’d left the grounds of the baernaloth’s ruined estate.

“Hubris?” Toras asked, referring to the transliteration of Vorkannis the Ebon’s name.

“It fits.” Fyrehowl smirked, “It absolutely fits him.”

Several of the others nodded in agreement, but it was clear as they stepped into the margins of the blood swamp surrounding torch, the iron-rich mud stinking of organic decay and buzzing with insects, that the literal meaning wasn’t the only connection they’d made based on the baernaloth’s almost bragging release of that information.

“We’re all thinking it.” Clueless remarked, glancing at the others, “We’ve seen that name before, we just couldn’t make the connection.”

“HUBRIS.” Tristol said, his tail bristling in response.

At the statement of the name, they all collectively paused, standing atop a crag of rock rising up over the edge of the swamp.

“Twice.” Clueless remarked, “Twice we came across it.”

“Howler’s Crag was the first one that comes to mind.” Tristol nodded, “HUBRIS lies not dead but waiting… though the hidden hands of fate dictates action and not greed or envy.”

The words had been scrawled across the ancient stone, the meaning opaque prior to the present.

“Then we came across it in UnderSigil.” Toras added, remembering the phrase they’d seen inscribed in a wide and elaborate circle surrounding a statue or golem they’d found miles below the streets of Sigil. “In silence, in solitude, entombed here in the depths of Her Serenity’s vaults I wait, patient as the Great Spire and fearing none, for I see where others do not. Only by our Lady’s Will does darkness cloud my eyes as I wait for HUBRIS to shake the Heavens and Hells.”

“Why can’t anyone ever write warnings or prophecies or whatever with great importance in plain language?” Florian scowled, “I can’t make heads or tails of it. If I’d known what Vorkannis meant in ancient f*cking baernaloth a year ago it might have served as a decent spooky warning but still…”

Nisha gave a soft chuckle, trailing off before she thought of something with a blink and a brief rattle of the bell at the tip of her tail, “Hey Tristol!”

The aasimar glanced over.

“Do you think he can listen in on any conversations if you say his name? Like how Elminster or Khelben or the Simbul or Storm or…”

Tristol put a hand over her mouth, “I have no idea but please don’t get me in trouble with those others because we haven’t even met.”

“So no speaking the Oinoloth’s proper name, in baern or otherwise.” Fyrehowl took a breath, “Got you.”

“Enough about him though,” Clueless looked to Tristol, “Is everyone ready for the next leg of this prolonged bad idea of a scavenger hunt?”

“Yes but not really,” Toras grumbled looking off into the distance where the portal to Gehenna loomed like a livid eye above the volcanoes of Torch, “A large part of my brain says that we shouldn’t do this.”

“We don’t have much of a choice.” Clueless shrugged, “But in the long term I think that the benefits outweigh the moral grey muck that we’re knee deep in at the moment.”

“If you say so.” The fighter grimaced, “But yeah, let’s get on with this. The demiplane of time it is.”

And so it was/would be/again.





****​





They didn’t directly gate into the Demiplane of Time. Such was its fearsome reputation regarding transit into and through it that instead the party manifested, by intent, on the demiplane’s border in the swirling depths of the deep ethereal. There they consulted with a wizard known as the Sapphire Mage whose tower drifted at the demiplane’s periphery, allowing him to study it. Unused to -but more than welcoming- of visitors, they consulted with him for several hours before proceeding further.

Unsurprisingly, the Sapphire Mage wasn’t aware of anything lodged –within– the Demiplane of Time like some malign nucleolus buried at its heart, but he knew enough to guide them safely inside and to avoid the worst of the temporal storms that often raged within. And there, at the demiplane’s border, armed with his advice and warnings in mind was where they stood.

Around them swirled the semi-solid fog of the deep ethereal, distant shapes muddied and distorted by the movements of the metaphysical fog banks that moved to the tune of vast, immaterial currents of manifest potential. Behind them the Sapphire Mage’s tower loomed, its gravity well keeping them locked in place where they hovered, and the magical lights that surrounded its crown shedding a brilliant blue radiance into the fog like a lighthouse to a fleet of strange, planar ships or a lantern hung in the window of a solitary cabin in a dark and dangerous wood.

“Give me a few minutes here,” Tristol glanced at the others as he lifted one hand, a solitary finger limned in a flicker of silverfire as he drew a complicated progression of symbols in the air, “I should be able to get us damn close to the Clockwork Gap or however its maker wants to call it.”

“So…” Florian wrinkled her face, “Why even is there a baernaloth in the Demiplane of Time? It’s absolutely distant to their native plane, and I would assume that they’re even more bound to the plane in terms of their power than the ‘loths are!”

“Why was there one in Torch in the Outlands?” Toras shrugged.

“For the latter?” Fyrehowl mused, “I assume that it’s a more opportune place to suckle on misery and pull on puppet strings. There’s less foot traffic in the middle of nowhere in the Waste.”

“Ugh…” Toras frowned, realizing that the celestial was correct.

Minutes then passed in relative silence, the group distracted from unsettling thoughts by the wondrous visual appearance of the actual Demiplane of Time. By comparison to the Sapphire Mage’s tower that drifted in orbit about it, the Demiplane of Time was gargantuan, dwarfing even the spherical ethereal footprint of Athas when they’d encountered it not long before. Unlike the black, featureless void that it had been, the Demiplane of Time swirled with internal lights that spread the entirety of the spectrum, but with a preponderance of silver. Within its swirling interior they could see fleeting images, or reflections of images, of places that were, had been, or would be.

“It’s pretty.” Nisha chirped, smiling in a moment of tranquility that had been notably absent in recent events.

She didn’t get much opportunity to sight see however as Tristol finished his magical preparations.

“Everyone get your sightseeing finished up because we’re about to jump inside.” Tristol called out, and then with a eruption of silverfire about the temporary gateway between plane and demiplane, it was ready for them.

Clueless took a deep breath and stepped into the gate, “I have a genuinely bad idea about this.”

How right he was.





****​





“The water trembles at approaching footsteps, the soft pitter-patter not of boots, not of charging horses, not the padded paws of a slavering predator, oh no no not them.”

The voice was thin and ragged, the result of vocal chords almost atrophied to an extent from prolonged silence. Hands drifted, feeling, clasping, fingertips brushing across surfaces like an artist as the speaker pulled upon a set of glistening, ephemeral cords: timelines pulled from the Demiplane of Time itself. Without words but with a wet, sickly chuckle it stared forward, milky white eyes reflected back at it from the surface of the great device rising up above the swirling vortex at the chamber’s heart, the nightmarish, hircine visage that stared back at it unblinking and sightless.

“The little ants come marching, one by one, ignorant of the world above them, following a chemical trail of hints, rumors, and lies to feast upon a poisoned sugared treat. Everything is as we have foretold. Everything is as –I– have foretold. Everything.”

The unnaturally elongated fingers of one hand left the silvery timelines and reached down the floor, ragged and unkempt claws sketched equations into the dust, a thumb rubbing some out just as soon as they’d been solved.

“This timeline they survive, others lost in the storm never to be…” The speaker tilted its head to the side, clucking its tongue, “Ah now that one is amusing but alas it is not to be. Not this time. Not in this cycle moving forward to the next. I’ve had my fun and tinkered and what-is-to-be is now restored now to the principal. One can swirl a whirlpool in the river once, twice, thrice, a hundred-thousand-fold marching moments to moments diverted in the blink of an eye for my amusement before such petty visages evaporate like so many illusory fantasies resume their forward flow with the river’s currents, stillborn realities never to be as the timeline marches forwards.”

Belying the blindness of its eyes, the living nightmare burst into a frenzy of action, ambulating with a staggered, awkward ferocity, the motion of its limbs erratic and uncanny, born of it moving not in accordance with its eyes but the internally memorized map of its home. It danced about the periphery of the swirling ether gap above which was centered the probes and razor sharp crystalline points of the fiend’s great device, a thing of collaboration with the same ungodly mind which had wrought the Divinity Leach.

Hands manipulated levers and alien controls just as much as a glance, a whisper, or a motion manipulated currents of less physical nature to shift the great device’s function moment by moment to some desired outcome. Extending one hand, a spherical illusion appeared cusped in the ur-fiend’s claws showing the mortals where they stood at the periphery of the Clockwork Gap, ghostly afterimages of various shades of consistency appeared as well, depicting a myriad of possible split timelines of fates-that-could-be.

“March forward little ants.” The speaker commanded, “Follow this trail of sweet and pungent lies, bit by bit, fed scraps and crumbs of truth from the table of titans. Everything is foreseen. Everything is certain. Everything is constructed, contrived, moment to moment concatenated, a masterwork of misery painted by the flicker of a butterfly’s wings, nudged to and fro, batted aside, or erased from existence as needed to raise the coming hurricane. Soon.”

Standing at the edge of the swirling crevasse the room’s second occupant, silent and contemptuous, gave an ephemeral smirk.





****​





From the relatively placid depths of the Deep Ethereal, once they stepped through Tristol’s gate and into the Demiplane of Time, they emerged into something wholly different. They drifted in a void that seemed to stretch out beyond sight, swirling with distant storms of blue and silver, tangled things like moving, writhing tangles of metallic thread. The air felt heavily and odd, and with every motion they made, thin wisps of energetic, temporal potential wafted off of them, like the vapor of dry ice evaporating under a noonday sun.

Distantly a pale, dull-grey, curiously mottled and somehow… moving… marble of another demiplane, the Clockwork Gap was visible, beckoning in the alien void.

“Ok, we need to move quickly.” Tristol instructed them. “Just will yourself forward, and if any of those storms comes close, or if you start seeing your own timeline start to manifest like a silver chord in the Astral, stay away from it. Leave it alone or you’ll risk mucking with your own timeline.”

“That would be bad.” Toras deadpanned.

“Yes, that would be bad.” Tristol confirmed, “Very bad. And mucking with your timeline here isn’t the worst that could happen.”

“Not the worst thing?...” Clueless left the question dangling.

“What?” Florian gave the aasimar a startled glance.

“Yeah, this place isn’t uninhabited.” Tristol explained, “It has guardians.”

Nisha preempted his fiancé’s explanation, “Please nobody get us in trouble with the Time Police.”

“It’s not the Time Police it… please don’t touch anything Nisha, or anyone else.” Tristol’s ears were flat against his head, “Let’s not play with the surroundings and just get to where we need to be and leave it at that.”

Fyrehowl’s fur bristled, and she glanced about, a look of supernatural concern in her eyes. “We shouldn’t be here.” She said, “The Cadence of the Planes… it’s wrong here. Unsettled.”

The nature of the demiplane then made itself more apparent.

Emerging out of the raw, featureless temporal winds of the demiplane itself, a silvery-blue chord manifested out of the void for each of them. Spiraling and twisting of their own accord, bursting apart into multiple, interwoven lines before weaving themselves back together again, they emerged from the bodies of each of the companions and spun off into the distance, vanishing abruptly at the periphery of the Clockwork Gap, and looking back behind them, they spiraled off into the distance before vanishing into the stormy haze.

That was when they saw it.

Erupting from where Clueless’s timeline was swallowed by the Clockwork Gap’s boundary, a shadowy image of the bladesinger erupted from the chord, clambering its way along its length like a drowning, desperate sailor gone overboard and pulling upon a rope tossed from a passing ship. Soundlessly the shadow Clueless opened his mouth, screaming some warning that could not be heard and too far distant to read his lips.

Horrified at what they saw, they could only watch in silence as Clueless’s temporal doppelganger seemed to fight against the draw of the chord-like manifest timeline, fighting to race back to warn his past selves of something. Desperately waving his hands in warning, screaming, with his eyes wild with horror, they could only watch as the Clueless of a potential alternate future was suddenly grasped by dozens of clawed, grasping hands from out of his own timeline. Taking hold of the might-be bladesinger, they violently took hold of him and dragged him back from when he might have come.

Clueless’s timeline stabilized once more and continued its wriggling, twisting course both fore and backwards. Whatever fate might await him, and whatever warning that some possible-self of his might have sought to provide remained unknown.

“What the f*ck was that?” Toras blurted out, speaking what was on everyone’s mind.



****​
 

Karsten

Villager
What the f*** was that indeed!!!
Wondering if that would spring yet another memory also...

On another note, please remind me, if and where they learnt about the Sapphire Mage...
 

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