The Battlegrounds (3.5e Location)
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In the beginning, before good and evil even was, there was chaos. The boiling Chaos spawned many things wild and varied, only to swallow them up again as quickly as they formed, until one eon it spawned the concept of Law. Unlike the others, Law did not get reabsorbed and instead spread, stabilizing the environment around it and making it logical, orderly, normal. This abomination to Chaos confused it and its spawn, as they could not understand why Law would desire such a stagnent world. Conflict was inevitable, but Law and Chaos had no means to fight. In this world before time and matter, all that existed was concepts. It is believed that in order to survive, Law forged the concept of warfare, and the concept took the form of a mighty sword and creatures known as Aphanacts. Chaos adapted quickly with weapons of its own known as the Pelions and Oberyths, and thus war began. It is said that during the battles of Law and Chaos, the entity of Law pierced Chaos with its blade, stabilizing it but causing the entity to perish and spread throughout the planes. And here the blade remains, the fragments of Chaos forming layers which reflect the continuing battles between the aspects.
If this is the true nature of the plane of Mrityulok's creation, no one can be sure, but it what is known that even if it is not the fight of the first battle, it had definitely become the site of many major conflicts since. When planes clash not every battle occurs in their territory. Instead they come here, a ravaged neutral ground devoid of giant magic-sapping spires or innocent mortals whose deaths would draw ire of the gods that protect them. Here good and evil, law and chaos, or simply differing planar nations make war.
The Battlegrounds is the "top" layer of the plane of Mrityulok which, much like the Abyss, is fragmented into countless micro-planes and realms of its own. It is refered to the top, for here is one end of Durandel, the cosmic sword which pierces all layers of Mrityulok. Its blade and hilt are massive, the size of a small city. Indeed a city of its own has sprung up around the blade because beyond being a legendary wonder of the universe, it serves as the bridge between this layer and all others, as well as planar visitors shifting from afar through portals and deep shadow or ethereal alike.
Where the other end of the cosmic blade Durandel ends, no one can be quite sure. It has never been found, though it is said one fiendish creature did find it and in doing so discovered a terrible secret which ended up in the entity banished into the Wells of Darkness on the Abyss.
- Gravity: Normal Gravity.
- Time: Normal Time.
- Size: Self-Contained. The battlegrounds are vast, the size of a continent. Along the edges it fades into mists, which eventually end up on the other side of the continent.
- Morphic: Alterable Morphic.
Elemental, Energy, Alignment and Magic Traits
- Elemental Dominance: No Elemental Dominance.
- Energy Dominance: No Energy Dominance.
- Alignment Traits: Mildly-Neutral Aligned.
- Magic Traits: Normal Magic.
The Battlegrounds connects to the Astral Plane, and possesses its own Ethereal and Shadow Planes. Some gates exist between certain outer planes, notably Acheron and Ysgard, both known for their love of battle, and to the city of Sigil. Access is typically done by passing through the Infinite Blade Fields accessible by stepping into the body of the cosmic sword Durandel. Other layers typically have links between themselves both through the shard of Durandel piercing them all, and unique links and portals each layer might possess. Typically layers link to other related layers, such as a link between the metallic and steady Golem Heart layer and Stone Dragon layers.
Those that live on The Battlegrounds are a varied lot, consisting of martial masters who have come for training, traders who have come for opportunity, and armies who have come for war. Occasional warcamps of various aligned forces can be found, treating the plane as a midway point between their home plane and the one they fight against. Fights are common all over The Battlegrounds, everwhere except for the City of Mars where the majority of the population lives. The city is vast and varies, its population always changing with the influx of new creatures and the departure, or deaths, of the old. The peace of the city is retained by the Peacekeeper Organization and by common agreement.
Various discipline-related creatures, wild animals, and beasts can be found. All animals are either advanced or dire forms of themselves, for only the toughest can endure here. There is no known outsider native to the land as one would associate angels, devils, or demons with their plane. However some deities of war and battle have been known to set up shop on various layers of Mrityulok. Because the top layer is not divinely morphic, they are not found in the Battlegrounds, only deeper.
Because not many deities exist in Mrityulok, mortal souls drawn to Mrityulok primarily arrive based on philosophy, living a life of battle without strong alignment ties, instead basing their fights on political, social, or other differing viewpoints. They appear from Durandel as most planar travelers do, first as weakened shades who become more solid, more scarred, and more gritty as time goes on. They usually live in small communities on layers which are most comforting, and within the edge of the City of Mars in clusters of like-minded individuals. They often become smiths, crafting weapons and armor to continue the fight for future generations.
Movement and Combat
The Battlegrounds itself does not present any worse penalty to movement than any Prime Material plains or wasteland. Trees, forests, and other normal features exist sparsely, mountains usually no larger than hills and terrain neither too hot nor too cold, too wet nor too dry. The Battlegrounds do not present any inherent benefit or penalty to combat, though this may not apply to other layers.
Features of The Battlegrounds
The Battlegrounds is a large place, but most of it is barren battlefields and wastelands. Of note are four locations on the layer:
City of Mars: Built in an oval around the hilt of Durandel, Mars serves as both an entry point for visitors from the plane and as a massive trading city. Those who seek weapons and armor best trade here, for they can be found in the Martian markets. It is policed by a group of powerful warriors known as the Peacekeepers who maintain law and order between often vigorously opposed sides while in the city. Duels and battles are common, and heavily ritualized. Those who die in combat are seen as honorable, a fate better than falling to old age.
Necropolis of Kyöpelinvuori: A massive graveyard exists in the wastes, build around the fossilized bodies of some unknown dead god whose mountainous form remains charged with energy. The ghosts of dead heroes and villains of war haunt here, offering secret and lost knowledge, but also threatening the living with terrible violent death. It is haunted by a particularly powerful spirit known as the Black Warrior, who some say is an incarnation of death itself.
Sea of Sunken Ships: A large body of water known as the sea of sunken ships spreads across 1/3rd of the landscape, linking into the cosmic waters from which both the River Styx and River Oceanus flow into. Small islands dot the edge of shore, eventually becoming smaller and smaller and fading into the mists. The bottom is littered with sunken and lost ships which seem to have vanished from other worlds and ended up here. Tales of ghost ships are common, and ships appearing from other spaces and other times. One might run into a small craft of primitive men, or an future aircraft carrier which slips from your view and vanishes once more.
Victory Tower: On the edge of the shore of an island within the sea of sunken ships, the victory tower stands glowing like a light house. The insides are filled with powerful and violent monsters which seem to boil from some source deep below and unexplored. However what interests most is the light on top. It is said that the light grants enlightenment on how to be victorious in all things. However those who are not strong enough of spirit, and those who stare into the light too long face a terrible fate as their bodies fight against its own cells, slaying the victim. It is said only one man has ever survived this process, reborn from a single dominate cell who then immediately ascended to godhood and vanished. All others who try have failed or become monsters of their own...
Using The Battlegrounds
As the battlefield for many ancient wars between opposing planar forces, Mrityulok is rich for finding ancient relics lost in those times, or seeking out legendary swords and other McGuffians for your games. Perhaps a massive war actually breaks out in your campaign, taking place on the battleground here. It can also serve as a place similar to Sigil, a neutral ground where all beings can meet and either take their differences outside the city to handle them, or met them out with the Peacekeepers as a third party to ensure peaceful negotiations.