The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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  1. - Top - End - #31
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    DruidGuy

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    Default Re: Weird Races and Strange Places

    Hmmm, let's give this a go.

    The Dendrani

    In the middle of the jungle there is a city that appears to be built of giant, still-living trees. The city is home to plant-creatures having squid-like bodies with tentacles like vines that contort their forms into various shapes. They often weave their limbs into arms and legs to appear humanoid if they need to make contact with others. The trees hold up stone boulders and logs to help form the "buildings" of the city as though the trees grew around them. Of course, this isn't the case. The trees simply picked them up. This is a city of the Dendrani, and what most people don't understand is that those trees are as much Dendrani as the green-vine-squid things they occasionally have dealings with.

    The Dendrani have a strange life-cycle. They are somewhat like jellyfish, producing two major forms of life - first polyps and then medusae. The living trees are the polyp stage and the smaller, more mobile entities that can assume humanoid form are the medusae. According to their own internal physiology and the cycles of nature, mature medusae sprout large blossoms on their heads when they are ready to reproduce. They gather, typically on the night of a full moon and release their pollen into the air. Some will be successfully pollinated and bear fruit - or perhaps eggs would be a more appropriate term? They plant/lay these fruit/eggs in fertile, warm soil and in time young polyps sprout. The polyps look very much like a normal tree, and do indeed take nutrients from the soil and photosynthesize.

    But once they reach about shoulder height to a human they reveal a different nature, becoming mobile and even predatory. They catch and kill insects and small vertebrates that aren't fast enough before consuming the kill through their roots, not requiring any tending to from their parent and indeed having no relationship with them. Once the polyps grow large enough - a process that can take decades depending on the nutrition and environment the polyp has access to - they produce a single medusa-stage individual from their trunks. The polyp then becomes the medusa's guardian, allowing them to return to the trunk as a joey does to it's mother's pouch. Even once mature, the medusa can return to the polyp to enter into an indefinite period of stasis should it need to. The polyp never stops growing and once the medusa is mature and can hunt or forage for themselves they also bring back fertilizer for their polyp, accelerating this growth to some degree.

    In time, the polyps grow to be so large, strong and slow that they enter long-term sedentary state. This is usually by merging into a "city" of other polyps where many Dendrani gather. The polyp does not sleep, instead remaining aware of its environs, but it can become non-responsive and should it be in this state for too long it can take considerable time to get moving, as though awakening from a coma. Both the polyp and the medusa do not die of old age, though they become deeply lethargic about five hundred years or so after reaching maturity and typically the polyp chooses to enter a state of prolonged hibernation in their polyp which remains unresponsive during this period, ending only when called by others of their kind in times of need. Should the polyp die before this, the medusa will likely die when it would have entered into this stasis - though exactly why is unclear. Should the medusa die, the polyp will still technically live but completely cease to respond, essentially shutting down until it is indistinguishable from a tree.

    The polyp and medusa do not consider themselves distinct individuals, but rather two separate bodies of the same person. While the medusa has most of the brain-power, both of them can see, hear, feel and remember. Indeed, the polyp can very efficiently store memories for the medusa, acting as a kind of personal library of lived experiences. The polyp is far less social and whether or not most even can communicate with others is an open question. The key exception being the communication between a polyp and their medusa. As long as they are within a hundred feet or so, a polyp and their medusa can communicate quickly and soundlessly. It is not known if this is a psychic connection or communication based on pheromone signals or something else. The result is that medusa frequently return to their polyp to catch up on the days events and most still choose to sleep inside their polyps trunk to share dreams with the sleepless entities. The hollow in the polyp can grow to a significant enough size that it can be furnished as any home would be.

    The medusa can use their polyp to spy on those who don't understand that with Dendrani, the trees have eyes and ears. They can also call on their polyp for aid if they are under threat. The sight of an entire Dendrani city disassembling itself and chasing after would-be raiders is an awesome and terrifying thing. Most often, the polyps of mature medusa can be seen moving when used as transportation. The Dendrani have no need of wagons or carriages when polyps serve that purpose just as well.

    Dendrani are an extremely reclusive and secretive people. It is unknown how many there are nor how large their cities can grow deep within the uncharted jungles. There are reports of some Dendrani being found in far away places, hiding in plain sight in woods or even by human villages by taking the place of other trees - though it is not clear how many of these reports are indeed Dendrani or a case of mistaken identity with dryads, awakened trees or treants. It is possible these Dendrani are simply curious or have a touch of wanderlust, having simply opted for a change of scenery before entering into a long stasis, but it is hard not to draw more sinister conclusions. There are some who theorize that the Dendrani were once a widespread and powerful civilization that has since fallen and on account of their unique "architecture", there are no obviously visible signs of such a society. It's possible these Dendrani found in strange places are engaging in pilgrimages to ancient holy sites or watching over something they did leave behind that humanoids don't recognize as the work of an ancient culture. For all we know, that forest may in fact be a Dendrani burial ground, where the oldest trees are in fact polyps who lost their medusae. They could also be watching and learning in preparation for their return to ascendancy.

    What little is known of Dendrani culture is entirely alien. They do not form any relationships with their offspring, the infant polyps instead being left to wander in the wilderness. If a polyp or medusa finds another Dendrani or even a city, they are driven away until they reach maturity. They maintain the capacity to quickly learn new skills and languages (like humanoid infants do) right throughout their lives and so when they are ready to integrate into society they do so quickly. Their notion of kinship seems to be more about nested levels of friendship between the medusae. There are acquaintances one has little attachment to and friends one would die for - though this does not necessarily correlate with the medusae they spend most of their time with, which seems to be a different dimension to their notion of relations. It seems they distinguish between important friends (who one values very highly) and good friends (whose company one voluntarily enjoys often). There are terms for one relates to another through this complicated network just as humans have terms for aunts, uncles and second cousins once removed. They also seem to place some value in the relationships between polyps though this seems to simply be that polyps share a space as neighbors or prefer similar soils or similar animals for consumption as fertilizers.

    The Dendrani society within a given city seems to be organized around what one might call guilds. A medusa seeking to pursue a particular skill becomes an apprentice and is gradually recognized within the guild as they prove their merit and provide their services. How one is treated in wider society depends on how that guild is treated. These guilds are not consistent across cities and each city may not even have corresponding guilds fulfilling a similar role. A medusa who is a lowly apprentice in one village may be treated as virtual royalty in another and this is not considered at odds in any way, even if they guilds in either city pursue the same skill. A medusa's polyp in no way reflects their chosen guild nor their rank. In fact it is considered extremely rude to discuss a medusa's profession within earshot of their polyp, as though that is an aspect of the polyp-medusa conglomeration specifically belongs to the medusa. Some of the most common skills one finds in Dendrani guilds are of a magical nature. Most medusae do have some measure of skill with magic.

    Dendrani do not often work with fire - as might be expected considering how flammable the polyps' wood is. They thus do not often have worked metal or ceramic. Instead they work with textiles, animal products like bone and horn as well as a not-yet-understood method for creating extremely strong and potentially sharp petrified wood. Weapons are typically made of this wood and are usually piercing weapons with barbs that tear into flesh if one tries to remove it by pulling it out. They preserve the petals of the blossoms from their heads after they plant/lay their fruit/eggs. These are then used as decorative pieces alongside other plant- and animal-based materials to make art. Unlike many other cultures which might make a painting or stature to be passively admired, the Dendrani create art that is to be moved through, interacted with and ultimately destroyed due to wear and tear. Considering their life spans and ability to store information, they do not concern themselves with maintaining or curating such works.
    According to easydamus, I'm a 4th level CG elf wizard. Str 9 - Dex 11 - Con 9 - Int 18 - Wis 14 - Cha 16.

    Homebrew setting (or part thereof): Phaunia and the Twilit Between

  2. - Top - End - #32
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Bohandas's Avatar

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    Dream Fortress

    The players have to assault a fortress in the plane of dreams from which the Quori are enacting some dastardly plan.

    The fortress is built following dream logic. It is entirely larger and taller than it needs to be. The layout is both maze-like and inconsistent. The rooms are an assortment of rooms from similar locations/buildings in the "real" game world scrambled, combined, rotated, mirrored, and repeated as nauseum. Many rooms have their own stairs and second floor that doesn't let out into the corresponding floor of the rest of the building; For example, someone's sleeping quarters might have a finished basement seperate from the rest of the building. There are many rooms that aren't needed and/or don't fit the purpose of the building, although their construction and decoration generally fit the style of the rest of the building. There are also many rooms that almost fit the purpose of the building or almost fit their own purpose but are slightly off or have some other additional unrelated nature; such as an armory for swordsmen that contains only bows, or a guard post that is also a busy restaurant.

    Occupants of the fortress include quori and dream NPCs. The dream NPCs are much like regular NPCs except their behaviors are limited as appropriate for something formed from somebody's distracted thoughts. Some of the dream NPCs may be inappropriate to a fort such as this, particularly but not exclusively in rooms that don't fit (which they generally but not always do fit). Furthermore, many of the denizens of the fortress (which include both quori, and non-quori dream NPCs) look like different people or things than what they are or are supposed to be, and in the case of the dream NPCs their behavior sometimes doesn;t match either their identity OR their appearance.

    In game terms:

    The gross layout of fortress is constructed like a roguelike such as Dungeons of Dredmor, with rooms being randomly generated as they are encountered, but with two major differences from normal roguelikes: Firstly the rooms do not have to all "fit" together on the map, if a room is generated that would overlap with an existing room the result is not thrown out but the rooms do not overlap either, draw the second room elsewhere on the map and add a note that they are conmected (alternately, at the DM's discretion, sometimes encountering a second room that doesn't fit may cause the connection to the first room to "decay" (see below) provided that nobody is looking from the first room to the room that both these hypothetical rooms connect to (if any).
    Secondly, the connections between rooms gradually "decay". If a room has not been visited in a while it is struck from the map and put into a pool of used rooms. It may appear again later in a different location (see below)

    Each new room can either be a prefabricated setpiece (see below), a randomly generated generic room, or a previously visited room. First roll to select which of these the new room will be, then roll to choose from the list and/or to choose the shape and contents of a new generic room.

    There are two main types of rooms, generic rooms (choose shape, contents, occupants, etc. from a table), and setpieces. These latter rooms are predesigned and include things like major encounters (including the actual mission objective), chunks of locations from the "real" game world (including not just other dungeons but regular civilian buildings as well, especially ones that many people would be familiar enough with to dream of), weird staircases (not just escher type stuff, also stuff like fancy entryway staircases from fancy buildings*, except not necessarily in entryways), irregularly shaped and/or highly specialized rooms, specific non-euclidean/multiply commected rooms (such as the saddle-point and conic angle deficit rooms in one of my earlier posts), shops, etc.





    *For example
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  3. - Top - End - #33
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Thalassonoma

    Thalassonoma is a planet plagued by sea-level rise resulting from overuse of towers of waterwheels powered by decanters of endless water at the top. Now the entire surface is flooded, but since it's already flooded anyway they still use the towers, which are now on floats

  4. - Top - End - #34
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    The "Plane of Knives"

    Not a real plane but layer 7338 of the abyss. This is a gravity-free space filled top to bottom with daggers and other knives. Most are normal but some have special properties, the most common being the Pitspawned template (DMG2 pg278), masterwork quality, construction from silver, a curse, or some combination of the four. More rarely they may have more powerful qualities which sometimes may be very unusual. Demons with damage reduction sufficient to protect them from the knives (or the ability to become gaseous or incorporeal, or with regeneration sufficient to mitigate the damage) often come and slowly wade/swim through looking for weapons of particularly good quality. More permanent inhabitants generally fall into the aforementioned categories of being either gaseous, incorporeal, resistant to weapons, or regenerating, or else fall into a fifth category consisting of creatures small enough to fit between the loosely packed blades

    The Dark Fortress of Stranglehold

    Created by a villain who really enjoys choking people, this castle features towers sculpted to look like they are being squeezed by constrictor snakes. Hanged bodies hang from gallows jutting from the walls between the crenellations.

    "The Flowerpot"

    The flowerpot is the colloquial name of a particular crystal sphere with almost all the planetary material packed into one end like this
    Code:
      ______
     /      \
    /        \
    |        |
    |        |
    \********/
     \******/
      ______
    It has a sun which each day passes into the sphere through a large portal and out through another portal

    Three DayGlo/fluroscent moons circle around slightly above the altitude reached by the sun, absorbing its light and rereleasing it at night

    High above the planetary surface, sun, and moons, there are dozens of little asteroid sized flame worlds that hang in the sky, adding another type of star to the fixed stars (lights on the crystal sphere), distant stars (other spheres' suns), and suns common to typical crystal spheres

  5. - Top - End - #35
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Wizard_Lizard's Avatar

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    Default Re: Weird Races and Strange Places

    LE dystopian gnomes
    They are slowly eradicating all kobolds.
    Use tgeir advanced technology for murder andd torture.
    Fly around on steampunk hover platforms.
    Current characters:
    Drakirr (Blue Dragonborn Warlock)
    Alyfyldyr Hyalythki (Rock Gnome Wizard)
    Harilidir (Half-elf Bard)
    Kazaharad Akaztkl (Goliath Barbarian)
    Luft (air-genasi druid)
    And of course Lizard Wizard (Lizardfolk Sorcerer)

  6. - Top - End - #36
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    The Mists Hotel

    This is a large building, over a dozen stories high, and always shroided in fog, which held up 100 feet above the sandy ground beneath it by tall wooden supports. Access to the first floor is by a very long staircase (that only has two turns in it, rather than being the highrise-style stairwell that might be expected for a stairway going up 100 feet high)




    The Juncture of Eternity (or "A Stitch in Time")

    In an advanced civilization where wormhole creation has been mastered, distinctions of time and space break down. Different places and different times have been stitched together by a massive network of wormholes. By navigating a few miles through the correct sequence of wormholes one can reach any place and any time in a massive interplanetary empire. As such the entire empire, including rural areas and areas on different planets, is functionally a single sprawling meteoplex. Furthermore, since wormholes have a tendency to not lead to the same time on both ends, travel to different times is possible with almost equal ease. As such, time in the Junction of Eternity is, in many ways, just another location, and one time is largely like another. People from one time period intermingle with people from other time periods, and anything that eventually gets invented can be shipped to an earlier time-period (as can the directions for making it).

    Due to this control over time and the Novikov Self-Consistency Principle, people in the Juncture tend to have extremes of luck; most major negative events would be trivial to go back and change if they happened, and therefore they can't happen because they wpuld lead to an inconsistent timeline. The only exceptions are when a person is unwilling to go back and change bad things if they happen, and when the amount of coincidences required to prevent a negative event is truly huge, in which case events instead conspire to cause the effort to correct things to fail. In practice, all attempts to go back and change things fail, because the misfortunes that could be changed didn't happen in the first place; it is necessary, however, to try to change them anyway, or else the other misfortunes not happening would no longer be inconsistent.

  7. - Top - End - #37
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    HalflingPirate

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    Chiroscuro City

    On the border between the Prime Material Plane and the Plane of Shadow lies a city under endless moonlight. Colors turn gray, and shadows distort every shape.

    It is inhabited by shadow versions of normal people, with creatures of shadow among them.

    Old and decadent cities often overlap it at twilight.

  8. - Top - End - #38
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Land of the Furious Sun

    Abyssal layer 775 is a the inner surface of an enormous sphere of craggy rock. At the center of the sphere lives Leagaten, an angry sentient red dwarf star. Leagaten is perpetually angry and constantly shouts invectives. The din of his shouting is audible throughout the layer.

    Leagaten smites inhabitants of the layer who draw his ire,, (which is largely the same as drawing his attention), with gouts of flame shot from his body, which hit the ground one round later with the effect of a level 20 flamestrike spell. He can also attack any being on the surface of the layer with searing light. As a result of this happening frequently, much of the landscape is barren and scorched with very little plant life, although some plants do grow, as the surface of the layer is extremely vast and Legaten can't attack everyone and everywhere at once. Even though he cannot directly attack more than a tiny portion of the surface at once he is inappropriately close to that surface, seperated from it by only one or two times his diameter, so the layer is dangerously hot and dazzlingly bright. Most of the little plant life that does grow is of a sort resistent to dehydration and whose lifecycle includes being occasionally burned down.

    The layer is a popular meeting spot and mustering ground for conspirators against darkness and/or undeath themed demons and abyssal lords - as well as a popular hiding spot for those on the run from darkness depending beings - , as the proximity of the sun and eternal day put their night-dependent enemies at extreme disadvantage.

    The layer is self-contained. Digging down more than a mile or so brings one back out onto the surface under(?) the opposite side of the sun.

  9. - Top - End - #39
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    DuctTapeKatar's Avatar

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    Twist on elves:

    Elves have a limited number of souls -- they can only have children/get pregnant if another elf has died.

    Half-elves only have a part of an elf's soul. Since full-blooded elves can only be born with a full-soul, many elves despise half-breeds and hunt them down.

    Dark elves are decendants of an old race of elves who were eradicated by High-elves who sought to raise new elves by slaying other elvish clans. Their soldiers were almost all slain, forcing the civilians to move elsewhere and repopulate by breeding with orcs, resulting in their dark skin, red eyes and sharpened canines. They were able to recover some of the souls from after those old battles, but many are fragmented and dispersed throughout the dark-elf bloodline, and cannot even imagine ways to recover the souls they have lost without going to war.
    "My new favorite spell is Ice Knife, because it is a throwing knife made from ice, and a grenade."

  10. - Top - End - #40
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Beautiful Corpse

    The beautiful corpse is a bardic version of a lich. The ritual to become one must be completed during an individual's 27th year of life, during which they must ritualistically commit suicide by injecting themselves with several toxic reagents and then throwing themselves from a moving vehicle. They gain blinding beauty (as per the nymph ability) in place of the standard lich's fear aura.


    No-Kill Meat Ranch

    This is a ranch that's devised an ingenious method of getting beef without actually having to slaughter any animals. Instead the animals are provided with opportunities to accidentally kill themselves a la the pit sequence of "The Pit and the Pendulum"

  11. - Top - End - #41
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    HalflingPirate

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    Polychromia, The City Of Rainbows

    On The Plane Of Light, opposite of The Plane Of Shadows, is the dazzling city of Polychromia, ruled by Irid, The Queen Of Rainbows.

    It is never dark in Polychromia because every surface glows in intense, blinding colors. Instead, the lights phase from deep, rich tones to pale pastels to create its day/night cycle.

    The city is inhabited by Luminals: beings of light of which material plane beings are pale reflections. Indeed, they are the opposite of shadow-folk in a complex interaction in which material beings cast shadows which are warped images of the material beings, which are themselves warped images of luminals which are concentrated images cast by the interaction of shadow on the material plane.

    Material Plane beings appear to be colorless shadows in Polychromia.

    Evil is rare in Polychromia, and it excels in hiding in plain sight. Queen Irid is ruthless in her persecution of evil. At the same time, she is easily decieved by appearances, so smart evil beings can do well if they play the game.

  12. - Top - End - #42
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Plutonarut

    Plutonuts are inevitables shaped like clockwork dwarves made of bronze and gold components with crystalline lenses for eyes. They are in charge of maintaining the value of gold, gems, and other precious substances, and fixing prices throughout the multiverse. They act to reduce supply when there is a surplus and to increase supply when there is a shortage. To this end they are able to planeshift items to a facility on Mechanus, and also remotely retrieve them from this facility. They can also shrink items down and store them in a compartment in their body. They also have a reservoir of aqua regia which can dissolve metals and can also be sprayed out in self-defense. To supply things that are in scarcity they are also skilled crafters and can magically fabricate objects. They are also charged with suppressing magic and technology that could upset the economic balance, to this end they can remotely erase writing and can crush items like nightshades and can modify the memories of creatures.




    Zouze

    The planet Zouze is occupied by two intelligent races. The first is a tiny, good, and naive race of rodentfolk. The other is a scheming race of bipedal cats who abuse the rodents' naievety to portray themselves as benificent godlike beings while actually harvesting the rodents for food and magical components. The rodents live in several isolated populations that the cats prevent from interacting with or being meaningfully aware of each other. These populations go through unsynchronized cycles of dark/primitive age, golden age, and then collapse back into dark age; these cycles are managed by the cats. After a population of rodents has lived in primitive squalor/idyll long enough to sufficiently forget the cats and the last golden age, the cats make contact with that population, offering advanced technologies and assistance. This slowly causes a population boom and also allows the cats to gain the rodents' trust and insinuate themselves into their society. This insinuation into the rodents' society, combined with the natural naiveity of the mousefolk and also the size difference between the two races, allows the cats to easily abduct mice to be slaughtered (the audience in a theater may simply disappear for example, the theater having been secretly designed for the seating area to be slid out of the theater and a new identical one slid in) and to stage seemingly accidental disasters and walk away with the bodies. When a mouse population becomes too big or advanced, the cats arrange for its catastrophic collapse (while making sure to save the most obliviously trusting from that population to start the next cycke with). In addition to eating the mousefolk the cats also export them to the planet Yearl, whose black-magic based economy uses their blood as a power source.




    The Shared Underworld/Plutonic Space

    Plutonic space is a subterranean connection between all planets. Contrary to what one might assume based on the size of a planet, there is actually no limit to how deeply one may dig other than the integrity of the tunnel or mineshaft. One may delve down hundreds or thousand times the diameter of the planet and never hit the other side of the planet. You may, however, eventually emerge on the surface of a completely different planet. This is because below their crust all planets connect to the same underworld. The planets might be imagined as wormholes connecting the underworld to the sky. The wormhole is spherical on both ends, which is why you can never reach the other side of the planet; Viewed from the sky a planet as a sphere of rock, viewed by someone who could somehow see through the rock of the underworld the planet would appear as a sphere of void. On the underworld end of the wormhole, the other side of the planet is on the other side of the sphere of void and by digging further you are traveling away from that side.

    The upshot of all this is that a civilization that was sufficiently good at digging could travel to other planets without having to deal with space.

  13. - Top - End - #43
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    HalflingPirate

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    Long ago a forgotten world was shattered by magics which rivaled that of the gods. With its inner fire spewed into the void and its crust scattered like crumbs around its sun, the gods gave up on it and went elsewhere.

    But it was not wholly abandoned. Minor deities whose power was insignificant in the presence of powerful wizards and great gods discovered that they could accomplish a lot absent the constant meddling of the great powers.

    Remnant survivors were nurtured, caverns became nurseries and farms, even whole cities perched on slabs of floating rocks were preserved. Bit by bit the survivors of the catastrophe became founders of new civilizations, and the minor deities grew in power as a result.

    Opposing the growth of this new regiem are the undead, which crawl through abandoned segmenys of the world seeking life so they can drain its power for their own insane purposes. They have no need of air or food, but are driven by hate of the living and their lust for power.

    Thus the World Of A Thousand Shards has come into being, and now thrives as great ships sail on the night bringing commerce and new ideas to the most remote Shards of the system.

  14. - Top - End - #44
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    For halloween coming up I've got several lower planes locations:

    The Offices of Disopolis Center for Disease Compliance

    In Hell, in the city of Dis, most misfortunes occur by mandate rather than by happenstance. The ruling devils may, for example, declare that there is a shortage of a certain raw material and confiscate incoming shipments of that material and lock them away, they may declare that there is a riot and conscript a few hundred souls to march through the street in an orderly fashion - possibly in formation - throwing bricks through windows before finally being beaten by other government agents, or they may declare that there is a plague spreading through the city or that certain things are unhealthy. This last one is where the center for disease compliance comes in. The job of the workers in this bureaucratic facility is to serve notices to those who come in contact with "unclean" objects or persons, declaring that they are now unwell and must display the appropriate symptoms for a mandated period of time. Those that fail to comply are taken the office's dungeon to have more permanent symptoms inflicted.

    The office itself is shaped like a giant myovirus, with a spiral staircase leading up from the ground into the baseplate. This staircase also leads downward into a network of subterranean tunnels through which the office's agents can reach most of the city. The capsid of the virus contains the dungeon torture chambers, as well as the monitoring stations capable of scrying on all currently "infected" objects. The tube of the phage contains bureaucratic offices.

    ---------------------------------------------

    The Cursed Cauldron Tavern

    The Cursed Cauldron is a sports bar in the ekolid city in the 663rd layer of the abyss. Like most buildings in the city is built from body parts pasted together with resin; in this case, the building is made entirely out of severed heads, except for the door (which is a humanoid skin stretched over a metal frame) (see illustration). The bar specializes in hard liquor and hard drugs.

    They have an open mic stage for singers. But it serves mainly as a means of facilitating fights in which patrons end up beating each other with gold violins

    The centerpiece of the bar is the eponymous cursed cauldron, a scrying device which can only show scenes of violence. The cauldron is filled with clean water, and when the water is poured out it has become dirty and contaminated but the desired location is visible in the curtain of falling liquid (see illustration). The cauldron is used to follow battles of the Blood War for the entertainment of the tavern patrons, who treat the conflict as a sporting event

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    ---------------------------------------------

    Chiralia

    Chiralia is a finite and self-contained layer of the abyss which takes the form of an enormous hall of mirrors. The curved funhouse-style mirrors gradually, yet painfully, warp the creatures reflected in them to match their distorted reflections; visitors who linger too long in front of the same mirror are eventually killed by being twisted into shapes that cannot support life.

    The layer itself is twisted up as well, into a non-orientable surface equivalent to a projective plane or steiner's roman surface. In layman's terms this means that the boundries of the layer are joined to themselves as in the diagram below; A to A, B to B, 1 to 1, 2 to 2, 3 to 3, etc. (the + signs are just empty space/the landscape of the layer, and the Xs are just placeholders)

    X123456X
    A++++++F
    B++++++E
    C++++++D
    D++++++C
    E++++++B
    F++++++A
    X654321X

    Traveling the entire distance of the layer once mirror reverses a creature or object, which - for material creatures (but not the native demons) - may make non-mirror-reversed food indigestible. Traversing the length of the layer again undoes the mirror reversal

    In addition to all this, many mirrors are portals to other mirrors and/or are mirrors of opposition. In the case of ones that are both, the double appears on the opposite side of the portal.

    ---------------------------------------------
    EDIT:

    Bingeatory

    The plane of Bingeatory is the first stop in the afterlives of souls that are almost - BUT NOT QUITE - bad enough to go to Hell. There they are allowed to indulge in various vices until their souls are stained dark enough to enter the lower planes.
    Last edited by Bohandas; 2019-10-03 at 01:20 PM. Reason: Fixed links to go directly to full versions of pictures

  15. - Top - End - #45
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Wizard_Lizard's Avatar

    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    The material plane (duh?)
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Weird Races and Strange Places

    The Astor
    A race of interstellar beings that exist between worlds. They are able to manifest physical bodies through willpower, despite being wholly incorporeal.
    Current characters:
    Drakirr (Blue Dragonborn Warlock)
    Alyfyldyr Hyalythki (Rock Gnome Wizard)
    Harilidir (Half-elf Bard)
    Kazaharad Akaztkl (Goliath Barbarian)
    Luft (air-genasi druid)
    And of course Lizard Wizard (Lizardfolk Sorcerer)

  16. - Top - End - #46
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Devil

    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Over there!
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Weird Races and Strange Places

    A bit less strange than some of the others here, but plucked from real world myth.

    Cynocephs {PEACH welcome}

    Note: this name is not their own, which cannot be transcribed as it lacks a spoken form and does not use a familiar alphabet.

    Travellers on the wide grassy plains of Kyrea often tell tales of the travelling bands and isolated farmsteads of the Cynocephs, the men with dog heads. Distrustful of outsiders and skilled at living in thin and wild places few have spent much time with these peculiar people.

    Standing half a foot taller than men with lean bodies and skin of a pale brown the most famously striking aspect of a Cynoceph's appearance is their head, which broadly resembles that of a wolf or a hound, although the exact shape matches no other species. Their heads range from the deepest of muddy browns to the palest of ashen greys, with the fur reaching their shoulders and, in the case of males, along down the upper part of their backs. Aside from these features it would take a skilled physician to diferentiate them from humans, but of note are the facts that their bones are longer and thinner and their bodies carry less fat, and do so more uniformly. Their stomachs, lungs and livers are larger but their intestines are less developed, making them less efficient at digesting vegetation.

    The common stereotype, dating back to the time of the Kyrean Empire, is that they are wild animals in human shape, incapable of civilised behaviour or rational thought. The more recent records of their behaviour often do little to dissuade others of these notions, for travelling bands will scatter to avoid others and approaching a farmstead typically results in aggression. Those who having considered the Kyrean Empire's attitude towards them however have re-evaluated this notion and have come to the conclusion, for the empire saw them as ideal slave fodder.

    Those who have managed to gain the trust of the Cynocephs report that the old stories are true, at least in part, and that as a species they do lack the capacity for speech, at least as humans would understand it. They can make vocalisations but only in the broad range of those made by wolves and while they do have a spoken language it is only used for emergency signalling and basic long range communication. In person Cynocephs augment it with a range of hand gestures and body language, but even this is limited. Their true communication written, possessing a complex written language that even the most dedicated of scholars struggle with the intricacies of. For their own part they can understand human speak and language perfectly well, but often lament its lack of terms and ideas seen as central to Cynoceph life. Even those introduced to elven consider the language lacking, overly elaborate in places and indelicate and clumsy in others. Despite this reliance on writing much of it is transitory, scratched into dirt or hides and then forgotten. Homesteads do keep records more long term on fired clay or parchment and what few trade arrangements have been successful with Cynocephs are usually for paper.

    While the canine head may rob them of human language it grants them extraordinary facility with scent, hearing and sight that result in an understanding of the world far different from man. While more than capable of industry and agriculture (both animals and a range of plants like potatoes and maze that, when thoroughly cooked, are palatable to their stomachs) they often shun these approaches for simpler ideas. While they can, and in places where the weather requires it and they wish to place a homestead do, built wooden or even stone buildings they prefer tents and grass huts that can be dis-asembled and relocated. They are capable of working both cloth and metal, but rarely wear more than a simple loincloth and shoes as their environment doesn't require more and, while they may make decorations and art as a leisure activity these are typically of bone or wood found on their journeys. What metal they do make is reserves for hunting weapons, if needed at all.

    Homesteads are the residences of the elderly, the very young and their mothers, the sick and those who have the skills to attend to their needs. Some observers mistake these signs of industry and the storage of resources here as an indicator of status, but in truth the only Cynocephs who willingly stay at homesteads are healers and those skilled in animal husbandry, and many of those travel in bands for part of the year, moving to different homesteads.

    The travelling bands are the mainstay of Cynoceph society, they travel wide territories often accompanied by semi-domesticated wolves (who are the basis of a number of unfair and unsavoury folk beliefs regarding them) and sometimes pack animals, hunting and gathering natural resources, much of which are left at homesteads or seasonal camps to be worked into what few advanced materials their society values.

    It is hard to determine at present to what extent Cynocephs have concepts of nations or tribes, for they will regard each homestead or travelling band as a distinct unit, to which certain obligations are expected, but transit between them is fluid and unregulated and internal conflict almost invariably results in the group splitting, rather than violence. That said, when violence does occur it can escalate quickly, with the instigator often being driven off. More complex disputes are often settled by a disinterested 3rd party, selected for their neutrality. Some scholars studying Cynocephs have in fact been approached for thus purpose, being presented with a pair of conflicting essays to critique and decide between (some universities have kept these, which are considered irrelevant once the matter is settled, and they more than almost anything else have changed common opinion on the capacity for Cynocephs to use logic and reason). Occasionally mediation will fail, in which case widespread violence is the common result, as those who have read the arguments will take sides with their chosen party, particularly if the mediator's explanation of their decision was poor or unconvincing. More typically the parties will accept the mediation and the losing party will often arrange to leave for other groups shortly thereafter.
    Last edited by Evil DM Mark3; 2019-10-09 at 04:29 AM.
    GNU Terry Pratchett

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