To Chance with Hell (Planescape)
Quick navigation: Main | Races | Factions | The Planes | Sigil | Characters | NPCs | House Rules
Everything has it’s place on Mechanus. Some planes claim this out of some belief to a particular diety, others due to insanity. On Mechanus, however, not a single gear turns without serving some purpose, even if that purpose is unclear to an observer.
An example of how this plane acts: once, a Guvner tried testing out whether the concept of “luck” existed on this plane. To do so, he flipped a perfectly balanced coin a thousand times and recorded the results: 333 instances of “heads”, 333 instances of “tails”, and 333 instances where the coin came to rest on its side. The 1000th flip? The coin rolled into a mess of gears, briefly bringing them to a halt. This sudden grinding caused a build-up of pressure, sending a loose bolt to be sent shooting into the air. The coin then popped out and rolled, stopping at the Guvner’s feet. He recorded this dutifully.
Despite being thought of as being a very “mechanical” plane, many varieties of landscape exist on top of the larger gears, including fully functional cities and greenery. Of course, such things are twisted (or perhaps more accurately, straightened) by the nature of the plane; streets run in perfect grids, and vegetation grows completely evenly. And of course, this may be a lawful plane, but it is not good (nor is it evil); it is merely fulfilling a its purpose.
Alignment: Lawful Neutral
Bordered by: Acheron, Arcadia
Connected by: Automata (Outlands)
Planar features: Normal gravity, time, and magic, but traveling is made difficult as most of the plane is composed of gears.
Greetings, blood. This unit is called Mwama. It is—no, the name is not in any strange language. The first adventuring party this unit fell in with after breaking away first just referred to it as “modron with a missing arm”, and when they decided this unit needed a name, they just made an acronym of that. Since this unit had no other name, it kept it. This unit has called kip here in the Fortress of Disciplined Enlightenment for many years now, giving travelers information on Mechanus, the Clockwork Universe, in exchange for jink. It has made study of the plane its specialty, so it can certainly tell its visitors about it, if they are willing to pay its fee.
Mechanus is the plane of ultimate law, all else—including good and evil—is subordinate and unimportant. The entire plane is composed of interlocking gears of varying sizes, all turning according to a complex pattern incomprehensible to any mortal or exemplar. All of the major realms and buildings in Mechanus are constructed on the surface of one of these cogs; many gears possess environment types that are common on other planes, but there are also mounds of pipes and cables, tracts of crystal obelisks, fields of metal domes, and other unique terrain features. Each side of a cog has its own gravity, so it is possible for structures to exist on both sides and to travel from the top to the bottom—though which side is the top and which is the bottom depends on the side a basher is on. Some communities even create tunnels through a gear in order to reach the other side, either to allow for expansion or simply to facilitate travel.
Although no one has tumbled to all the laws the gears move by, their precise sequence of operation, or their ultimate purpose, there are those who have learned enough about them to be able to traverse the complex system of conduits and portals that links them together. This system is called the Labyrinthine Portal—though it is not really a single portal, nor a physical labyrinth—and it is extremely difficult for most mortals to wrap their bone-boxes around. It not only matters which portal one passes through, but also the sequence, the timing, and sometimes even the thoughts one is thinking at the time. With mastery of the Labyrinthine Portal, a cutter can quickly reach any cog on the plane. But a less well-lanned sod could find themselves wandering lost in places they really don‘t want to go. There are guides who will lead a basher through the Labyrinth, but some of them are cony-catchers who will only get a sod lost faster than he would on his own.
Please note that although Mechanus represents order, that does not mean it is uniform, for there are many diverse cultures and places of interest throughout the plane. In fact, almost anything that one imagines can be found on the plane if one knows where to look. Some cutters journey to Mechanus specifically to seek something that they have conceived of but have been unable to locate elsewhere; though the realization of this goal may not exactly match what was expected, success rates are statistically high. Unfortunately, the reasons for this have received extensive debate without attainment of a conclusive explanation. This unit theorizes that it represents the Axiom that all things have a purpose and place. A truly comprehensive system of order must accommodate, and perhaps allow, every possibility. If desired, this unit can direct you to other Guvners that specialize in this feature of Mechanus.
Those who mistakenly believe that pure law is sterile and lifeless are proven wrong by the fact that Mechanus is constantly evolving and is full of living creatures. There are, for example, the moignos, two-dimensional mathematical equations obsessed with the intricacies of the number pi. And the paraii, beings that, behind their porcelain masks, may be nothing more than balls of light that feign humanoid form with an empty black dresses, and that are devoted to turning bloods of exceptional qualities into paraii like themselves. The inevitables, too, make their home on Mechanus, powerful mechanical constructs that strictly enforce principles of death, truth, and justice.
But this unit calculates that there are three groups on Mechanus that particularly deserve mention. First, of course, there are the modrons, like this unit. The modrons exemplify law like no other creatures. They are organized into a strict hierarchy led by Primus, the One and the Prime, and comprising many other levels, down to the lowly monodrones. The modrons work as a functioning whole; each modron is aware of those of the ranks immediately above and below it, but are unable to directly perceive modrons of other ranks. If a modron is slain, a modron of the rank below is promoted to fill its position, and so forth on down, until a new monodrone is created from Primus‘s energy pool. All the modrons work in perfect unity, tending to the maintenance of Mechanus‘ gears.
At least, things usually work that way. Every once in a while, however, some modron obtains a spark of individuality and becomes aware of itself as a separate entity. These modrons are known as rogues, and are hunted down and destroyed in order to prevent them from corrupting the whole society. Some escape, though it is not be easy—this unit lost its arm in its own escape from the modron hierarchy. The chant is a new system has been put in place to allow the peaceful exodus of such deviants, but that cannot be easily confirmed and may be so much screed. Regardless, even rogues cannot completely free themselves of the modron mindset. This unit, for example, has managed to learn what is called planar cant—though it has been told that it uses cant words somewhat awkwardly and unnaturally—but does not feel right using certain pronouns. It understands, intellectually, what is meant by words like “I” and “you”, but the underlying concepts are too alien to its thought for it to feel comfortable using such words itself.
Another important group of Mechanus is the Fraternity of Order, the faction of which this unit is a member. Of course the visitors know of the Fraternity of Order, since they are currently visiting this unit within the faction‘s headquarters. This faction is devoted to discovering all the hidden laws underlying the multiverse, the links of cause and effect by which everything works—so, of course, what better place to do that than Mechanus, the plane of pure law? The Guvners have greatly expanded their numbers in Mechanus and its neighboring planes since banishment from Sigil, and members can be found here in the Fortress of Disciplined Enlightenment or beyond exploring all facets of reality.
Last, there are the formians, originally from Arcadia, but who have recently overtaken much of the plane. This unit understands that the formians were originally peaceful, but those that have spread to Mechanus and elsewhere are set only on expanding their territory, and conquering anyone in the way. The hives of these centaur-ants are all over Mechanus, the largest being on a huge cog that is simply called the Center. Some people think it is called that because it is the center of the plane of Mechanus, but this unit knows that is screed. If Mechanus has a center, it is Regulus, the realm of the modrons.
Some chant says the formians have been able to take territory from the modrons because the modrons were weakened by recent events. Not long ago a Modron March was launched ahead of schedule, during which the modron displayed many bizarre behaviors. The modron have not yet returned completely to normal, and it is because of this, they say, that the modrons have been unable to stop the formians‘ advances. Others theorize that the modrons are allowing themselves to be replaced, accepting that their time has passed. This unit does not believe that is true. This unit believes the modrons have been busy in preparation for some plan to oppose the formians. The modrons and the formians have not yet come into direct conflict, and when they do it is not obvious to this unit that the formians will win.
It may appear that Mechanus possesses its share of disparate elements either with no relation or completely at odds with one another. But causality and fate connect all things into a single whole; one event leads to another to another until everything in Mechanus and all the multiverse feels the repercussions and reacts in kind. Only the powers are capable of perceiving the grand design, but most of Mechanus‘ inhabitants follow personal and social codes of behavior with the utmost rigor both because it is conducive to a productive and untroubled lives and because it makes it easier to control the consequences of one‘s actions. Likewise, lawmakers of a burg tend to thoroughly consider the intent and effectiveness of the rules that govern their land; though they may seem arbitrary to outsiders, every law exists to bring about some specific end. Visitors—this unit speaks generally, not just of the visitors who are talking to it right now—are expected to follow the laws with the same rectitude, and punishments for violations can be very severe. This unit strongly advises anyone planning to visit anywhere on the plane to learn the laws of the place they are visiting before going there.
Of course, there are still criminals who deliberately flout the laws of the land, either berks from the other side of the Great Wheel who want to sow a little chaos or those who have no apprehensions about exploiting the system for their own ends. Transgressors are pursued relentlessly, though perhaps without much passion. Enlightened minds recognize that even such deviants are important elements of an orderly system. Chaos and lawlessness, while anathema to the ideals of Mechanus, in small amounts can challenge a society to become stronger and more adaptable just as violence and war destroy what currently exists to make room for something vibrant and new.
A thought has just occurred to this unit. Perhaps the modrons and the formians will both put each other in the dead-book, and leave room for a third race better suited to exemplifying law in the current era to come in and fill the void. Hmm. That…would be interesting.
Automata (Outlands Gate-Town)
By Marila Tendershoot
Automata is loaded with two things: red tape and nifty mechanical oddities. The one, in my experience, tends to outweigh the other. This is the gate-town to the plane of absolute order, and it certainly looks the part. The entire city is laid out on a strict grid of streets and blocks, and lodged firmly in the center of the outline of a small wheel. Shops of similar trades are located all along the same block, while a hundred other laws dictate codes of conduct and means of doing business. Outside the city walls you‘ll find a few perfectly straight roads cutting through fairly bland fields on their way to Rigus and Courage.
The city has swollen in recent years with the influx of Guvners and other refugees from the Faction War in Sigil. With the new population growth, the gate-town has experienced an economic boom and is becoming ever more attractive to the interests of traders and merchant houses. Luckily, the influx of people has brought with it a varied lot, so the town has yet to slip over the edge into Mechanus. Chant is the local government has hired mercenaries from Rigus to keep all immigrants firmly in line and put a halt to any fights between visiting modrons and formians, though I haven‘t seen any need for that.