The city of Eternal Grace, or Darkmyth as it is called by the peoples of the living lands above, hangs from beneath the world like a forest of stalactites neatly organized. Although believed to be not but a legend to the living the city does exist, hidden to all but the greatest of scholars, the clerics of the Eternal Lord (A TN version of Nerull, a description follows the campaign hooks) and the dead. The city has no walls for protection for it has next to no need of them. A city that no one knows of and hangs beneath the world is not going to be sacked any time soon. The majority of the population of Eternal Grace is dead, or rather, incorporeal undead. The souls of those who can not rest, are trapped between the planes or simply have been called to serve the Eternal Lord (His only title). There is a small percentage of the population that is alive and they are mostly clerics of the Eternal Lord. The city is round in shape and sits in the middle of the under face of the world amongst a sea of craggy rocks and small jagged mountains. The streets are simply a tunnel network that runs between all the buildings and has many open windows and look out spots. Visitors to Eternal Grace should beware, as the direction of gravity is the same as the world above, one wrong step and you will be plunged into a fall through the never ending void of existence. Many of the clerics either have magical items to allow flight, or memorize a levitate spell or two.
Although Eternal Grace’s physical size is that of a massive metropolis large enough for 30,000 people to inhabit it comfortably, it’s population is only 13,897. Stable population is a difficult term to use is this case as the undead exist here only as long as they are held by their punishment or until they find the guidance needed to pass over. For the living population few ever return to the upper world but they make up less than 1% of the cities inhabitants, numbering around 236. Despite the number of inhabitants the maximum gold piece limit is 3,000 gp. But then again finding someone who is willing to part with their wealth is where the difficulty begins. For the most part people come to Eternal Grace to spend their gold, to buy information from a trapped soul or in rare cases, petition for a soul to be returned to life or released to the beyond. The main religion, or rather the only religion, is the following of the Eternal Lord. It’s hard to ignore a God that sits over the city. It’s not to say that some of the lost souls don’t hold onto their beliefs from life, but they usually don’t practice. Eternal Graces alignment is LN; although death has no opinions or feelings one way or another the laws for the city are very important and inforced most seriously. All of the souls brought to Eternal Grace enter into their undead state as morally neutral, though they retain their ethical standing. As time passes and they walk the paces of mirroring their previous life some have slowly shifted to their moral codes held in life. Most of the spirits that make this change end up as evil alignment. There are a few here and there that end up as good. The followers of the Eternal Lord are almost all TN or LN. I guess you could say the power centre is quiet magical. Aside from the Eternal Lord the power centre is a counsel of clerics.
The races are devided up as follows; 37% Human, 20% Halfling, 18% Elf, 10% Dwarf, 7% Gnome, 5% Half-elf, 3% Half-Orc, 1% Other sentient creatures.
There is no recorded date of the cities original founding. Many believe it has always been here, created by the Gods as they forged the rest of the world. Some think it was an after thought by the Eternal Lord as a place to put the dead if punishment or guidance was needed. There is a small following that believe the Eternal Lord is a prisoner here, forced to govern a population of the dead in a city that is his prison, however this is a widely unpopular theory and those that preach it are usually disregarded.
The undead that reside here are not completely like those of the upper lands. They do not have an utter hatred of the living and do not seek to kill anyone. They exist and work much like they would have when they lived only it is through compulsion rather than personal desire. Eternal Grace is not a destination the dead should desire to travel to after their passing. Here they lead hollow representations of the lives they lived, and are constantly tormented and frustrated in various fashions whether they are here for punishment or not. Souls that lose their way to the beyond and end up in Eternal Grace are truly pitiable. The rare soul that comes to Eternal Grace by choice is less tormented by their existence, but it is usually because they used to be a cleric of the Eternal Lord.
The living here in the city are all clerics of the Eternal Lord save for the occasional visitor, but they either don’t stay very long or don’t survive very long. Those who do try to travel to Eternal Grace often perish on the journey. In crossing of the great oceans a ship happens upon many terrors and to venture through the underdark is to uncover many unspeakable horrors. Some have tried teleporting there but without a proper idea of the location there can be some very fatal errors. Some end up buried in stone while others fall through eternity. Clerics of the Eternal Lord are always guided by there God when traveling via the mystical routes so mishaps are quite uncommon.
The city is circular in shape and hangs underneath a flat world. The upper world has any make up the DM wishes; however there should be a large ring of ocean around the land masses. To cross the ocean to reach the edge of the world is nearly impossible and has perhaps never been accomplished. Anyone who has made it doesn’t seem to have returned to brag about it. The world is ringed with mountains as a sort of fence to keep the waters, and the beings, inside. The city is in the direct centre of the world’s radius and is shaped to be a smaller mirror image of its living counter part.
Like the upper surface the city is ringed by mountains and has an area of flat surface. Though rather than a sea of salt water, it is silt and dust. Although no deeper than the knee of an average human no undead has been known to ever cross its half mile width. In correlating positions between the surface and the city one can find districts that represent the lands of the living. There are dense and sparse populated areas and areas of strong or weak political and economic influence. Mirroring a nations capitol or a kingdoms royal castle there are large manors and palaces occupied by the souls of political leaders and royal families. Areas of dense population are represented by cramped and compact housing. Undeveloped lands left wild and full of its natural flora and fauna even have a place in Eternal Grace. Bits of the city are raw and untouched stalactites infested with aberrations that either found there way through the Underdark and tunneled to depths beyond any Drow or Dwarf, or have been here as long, if not longer, then Eternal Grace.
The entire city is affected by a ghost touch effect that prevents the inhabitants from simply slipping between the buildings or through locked doors. However this does not mean that everything that enters the city gains the same enchantment. Likewise not all that is in the city already has the ghost touch ability; it simply affects the buildings and corridors. It’s not that some items can’t be ghost touch; just don’t expect to find a lot of items, as these are highly coveted. This city was never meant to be a desirable location to reach after ones death, though many of the clerics of the Eternal Lord are happy to spend eternity serving their God in Eternal Grace, prison and halfway home.
The sky under the city is black as any depths and with out stars for the most part. Upon the horizon there is a spattering of stars that rings the sky. Here the soul chilling darkness of the Void lightens into a deep azure blue as the upper world’s sky after the moon sets but before the sun rises. It is here that the sun waxes and wanes, although it never crosses the sky. The sun “rises” from above and drops across the star dotted section of sky known as Nights Edge. When it reaches the point in the sky where Nights Edge ends and the Void begins the sun sets. The entire process takes approximately nine minutes and simulates the conditions of dusk. It never gets very bright. Twelve hours later the event is repeated on the opposite side of the horizon, again for nine minutes, before the sun begins its day in the world above. The moon is never seen so the lighting conditions are always very poor at best.
The center of the city, the central axis of the world, is marked by a colossal chain. Each link is made of wrought iron and made of a gauge 400 feet thick. The first link is half buried into the cities core and supporting 7 others. At the end of the chain hangs a large ornate structure of immense proportions. It is called the Lords Chamber, though is actually a castle temple in the shaped of a large aspergillum.
Around this chain is the Grand Court Yard. It is a huge flat gray circular slab the chain extends out of. Unless one can stick to ceilings no one uses the court yard. One hundred yards south of the chain’s base and facing north is a hanging platform, upon which there is an altar. Among other things it is used for the end of funeral ceremonies after their main portion in the temple is complete. There are stairs from the platform up to a corridor that leads to the temple two hundred yards away; this is the only way to the altar.
There is no weather in Eternal Grace. The rain never falls, the snows never come, and the wind itself has never brushed the city in all the time it has been here. Even the temperature is always the same; a cool 50 degrees F (10 degrees C).
Arts and Culture:
The arts and culture of Eternal Grace are slow to progress as the dead exists in a state of unchange. They do not strive to create new works of poetry and fashion. Only that which souls bring with them influences the city. Everything from the dress and habits of high society to the pub songs of the lower class varies in age with each spirit. One can walk down a corridor past two hob-knobbing nobles dressed in attire separated by 4 centuries and have both be in fashion. Dress is always a permanent part of a ghost’s life as they manifest in a garb appropriate to them. Either the clothes they died in or their favorite jacket, but they will wear that outfit for eternity or until they pass on to their final rest. Works of art, from paints and sculptures to jewelry and trinkets are very rare in Eternal Grace. The artisans of the city are bound to work at creating that which they did in life but to never be able to finish a single piece. No new songs are sung, no fresh paint is laid and no marble is formed. Only the finished works one brings with knowledge are introduced into Eternal Grace. Songs and poems sung in life are performed but never will they create anew, though they are driven to try. Physical art is only brought by the few living people of Eternal Grace and highly sought by the artists and those of the high society.
The old saying “You can’t take it with you” has become a snide joke of sorts in Eternal Grace. Although nothing of the physical world travels with the soul to the city, it is possible to collect a small fortune during ones stay. Things brought in by the living clerics of the Eternal Lord or the stray adventurer are coveted by the undead. Everything from a bent sewing needle to a masterful work of art is bartered back and forth between the living and the dead as well as between the dead themselves. The undead possess knowledge that the living desire and in most cases the only way to get what one wants to know is by giving something to the spirit. Some bolder ghosts have been known to demand a specific item for particularly rare or important information, forcing the person to travel to the upper world to retrieve the item and return to Eternal Grace. So although one can not take it with them, they may be able to send someone to retrieve it. As mentioned before, items with the ghost touch ability are highly coveted. The ability triples the price of the items worth. Some clerics have had the ability put on items aside from weapons and armor, mostly jewelry and handheld items, in order to buy information from a ghost. To the right person a ragged doll could be worth more than a few gold coins.
The church of the Eternal Lord is the only widely practiced religion in Eternal Grace. Although some of the spirits in the city hold to their beliefs from life it has become less than a third rate hobby for most. Except for the living clerics of the Eternal Lord and those few who serve him after death there are no other clerics, or spirits there of, living in Eternal Grace.
There is very little the followers of the Eternal Lord practice in the way of rituals. They have daily prayers for spells as all clerics do and they, of course, have a grand ritual they perform if one of their numbers dies while staying in Eternal Grace. They do not however hold regular congregations or celebrate public festivals. Life is sober in Eternal Grace and the clerics do what they can to enforce it among themselves. The undead already have that part down pat.
There are actually two separate rituals that can be performed for a deceased member of the Eternal Lords order. The first is a standard funeral right that guides the soul to the restful after life in the beyond to spend eternity with loved ones already passed. It lasts for twelve hours through the “day” time of Eternal Grace, starting with the first sun rise in the west and ending with the second sun set in the east. At the end the body is released into the void wrapped in a funeral shroud and blessed with holy incense and oils.
The second ritual runs the same as the first until the second setting of the sun in the east when a pyre is ignited and the body cremated. It is burned hot and fast so that at “midnight” (when the sun above the spot were the Chamber hangs below the world) the ashes will be collected and an urn is taken to the Lords Chamber and sealed in a holy mausoleum. Twelve hours later (“noon”) the incorporeal spirit of the cleric will appear in the lower observatory of the Chamber and have to make its way to the upper observatory and then to the city itself.
Eternal Grace has the distinct privilege of being watched over by a God. In the primary temple room the worship of the Eternal Lord has it official home. Mostly used for the occasional funeral or legal trial, both preceded with a mass, there is very little regular congregation in the temple. This same building becomes the living quarters for the current head of the cities clerical order and mayor. Although Eternal Grace is said to be ruled over by the Eternal Lord, it is the clerics that act as the body of government. Every position from Mayor to City guard is filled by the clerics who watch over the city in the name of their God and generally live as first class citizens. The seven clerics that over see trials, matters of city law or other decisions concerning the city are called the Twilight Counsel. Some of the undead though have taken to calling them the Nooses Knot in referral to the seven loops around the hangman’s noose, though that is not the actual reason for there being seven counsel members.
Eons before the first soul was brought to the city the laws were created and left in the temple for all to view and know. In the temple of the Eternal Lord, south from the chain in the grand court yard, the main foyer is a large circular room with relief carvings on every surface of the one continuous wall. This is known as Nights Womb for it is here that the apparitions of Eternal Grace arrive to their (hopefully) temporary home. The doors stay sealed and impassable until the new citizen has viewed the laws.
No words or symbols are engraved anywhere in the room, only carvings depicting scenes of life. All simplistic in design to allow people of all cultures, languages and level of education can understand the laws of Eternal Grace. Each scene is framed to separate it from those that surround it and allow it to be viewed without confusion. Directly across from any one scene is its opposite interpretation. Where one block shows a translucent form draining the life from a living man with its touch, the opposite block represents the same two forms existing side by side in harmony. One shows the do’s while the other the don’ts. Although it’s up to the viewer to figure out which block represents do and which is don’t, no one has ever been known to misinterpret a law.
There are four laws that begin the foundation of law in Eternal Grace. They are as follows;
- No undead shall harm or kill a living being.
- No cleric shall turn or rebuke an undead.
- All clerics must live a life of abstinence while in Eternal Grace, no cleric shall bear child.
- No undead shall travel outside of the city ring.
Although no records show the forth law ever being broken there have been times the other three were disregarded. The punishments were severe, or believed to be. Should an undead harm or kill a living being it is summoned to the Lords Chamber and never heard from again. No one knows what happens to it once there but there are stories that speak of nightmarish moans and wails drifting from the Chamber through the black windless sky. A cleric found to have turned or rebuked an undead inhabitant of Eternal Grace is striped of his clerical abilities and status in the church. He or she is then sent out of Eternal Grace via a random teleport spell, which always takes its target to a safe place upon the upper world. He or she is giving only a ragged peasant’s outfit, two copper coins, one days trail rations and an iron dagger. The one time two clerics were heard of to be expectant of a child they were striped of status and clerical ability and sent to the upper world in the same fashion as a cleric which turned or rebuked an undead in Eternal Grace. The in case of both laws the souls of those clerics were then called to Eternal Grace upon the end their natural life. The child is forbidden to ever join the order but not from become a cleric of another God. Although the last law has never been broken the punishment is the same as the first law but what exactly that is, is unknown to all souls, living or undead.
Aside from these four laws there are others very much similar to those of the lands of the living and with them they carry similar penalties. For all laws it is the Twilight Counsel that oversees the punishments are implemented. Because the clerics of Eternal Grace are not allowed to turn or rebuke the undead citizens of the city they use ghost touch manacles with ghost touch weapons and armor.
It may seem that the laws have harsher penalties for the undead than the living but when life is not a resource held there is little recall. When it comes to the living of Eternal Grace, death is never
a punishment. The Eternal Lord is a God of natural death; of a cycle ending and that should never be a disciplinary action.
The Lords Chamber mirrors the highest mountain peak from the upper world. The palace has eight sides and is domed both on top and bottom. Each side of the Chamber meets another at a large tower that extend in both directions past the seven main floors; spires four stories deep descend, while crenellated parapets top the towers equally tall, totaling 15 floors for each tower. The upper half of each spire is covered with windows to allow one to gaze upward to the city, thought the lower halves don’t have a single opening. The main structure has seven floors with the upper and lower most being the domed sections, observatories both. The lower observatory has a large 40 foot glass floor in its centre that gives one an unobstructed view of the Void. The city, the mountains and the Lords Chamber are all behind the viewer from this point and nothing is all that is left to see. A select few of the living clerics of the Eternal Lord have had the privilege to stand within this room to view the Void. Many of those chosen went mad from the experience, some even taking there own lives. The upper observatory is covered in a lattice work of iron as beautiful as it is terrible. The crying faces of dead men, women and children screaming a silent litany of nightmares while surrounded by the shadows that lead them to their final place in eternity adorned the base of the dome. The eight main supports resemble two skeletal arms each, reaching for the apex and supporting it. The apex is a round disc, three feet thick and 40 feet across. Upon the under side is an etching of the upper world in excruciatingly perfect detail. Between the arms creating the main body of the art work is wisp like swirls of iron, shapeless and flowing. During the two sun rises and sun sets, as the light plays upon the lattice, an observer could almost believe that these fanciful bits move and sway as if they were smoke trying to escape the dome. The rest of the castle temple is fairly straight forward in design. It has all the rooms and locations one would expect for any castle. A large throne room is one the floor directly below the upper observatory. It is as ornate as the rest of the Lords Chamber and twice as eerie. It is always a little colder in the Lords Chamber than the rest of the city and even more so in the throne room, 32 degrees F (0 degrees C).
Within Eternal Grace there are two obvious and distinct groups. The living and the undead. For the most part the undead inhabitants are not unruly about being governed by a counsel of the living especially when they are viewed more as representitives or figure heads rather than actually power weilders. The living inforce the laws that preceeded them and were written for them but they do not make new ones or rewrite the old. They can not redesign the punishments for laws transgressed. The Eternal Lord alone has the authority to change a law though it has never been known to happen. However, there are a few of the clerics who beleve it is not right for mortals to stand as the voice of a God and that the counsel must be removed. Very few of the undead in the city have fallen in line with this view as they have a more or less over all fearful respect for the Eternal Lord. Those that do work with these clerics, the secret orginization known as the Umbral Dawn, are cautious beyond all else. To be caught in such a scandal as one of the clerics would mean banishment and removal of all clerical abilities but as an undead, the punishment would be a summons to the Lords Chamber.
1) A historic scholar hires the party to make contact with a man in a distant and remote city to obtain some information on the history of an ancient conflict. He presents the party with a centuries old portrait and says that it is the payment for the man, a noble by the name of Korrinald Thederfest, for the information. What he does not inform the party is that Sir Korrinald Thederfest is the man in the painting and that he has been dead for as long as the painting has been around; the artist killed Thederfest for skimping on the payment. He also “forgets” to mention that the city is a city of the undead. He supplies the party with a small gold backed mirror that when peered into shows an hour glass as the sands round down. He tells the group that the gate home will open when the sands run out. He then gates them to the city.
2) One of the party members is contacted by an old mentor. He has a friend from what seems like million years ago who needs help. This friend is a counsel member for a city that is having problems with an orginization that wishes to rid the city of its current government and install a new power structure. After one quick teleport spell to Eternal Grace introduce the counsel and instruct them to ferret out the Umbral Dawn so that the proper punishments can be implemented.
The Eternal Lord
Domains: Death, Repose, Darkness
Portfolio: The souls of the dead, the undead, the Void
Symbol: An aspergillum hung from a chain with a black circle around it and stars around the circle.
I’ve always had a problem with death being evil. Death is not a malicious entity hunting down all life; it is the natural conclusion to existence. It doesn’t play favorites or have a dislike of one religion, race or moral standing. I always play with the Eternal Lord replacing Nerull.