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Tarassein (3pp)

Description

A dozen skies, each a different color and weeping a different fluid blossom below the melting mountains. Tentacled birds pluck out suns and worry them into burning shreds that fall down and sear the undulating lands. Stones crack like eggshells and things made of briar, wire and wine and slime ooze out, stumbling with an eerie grace across the hairy marble pathway that sprouts just before each footstep. Screams become serpents, the rippling sound waves slowing in the treacle-thick air before dropping to the ground and crawling away. All this is happening in your mind. Your eyes cannot truly perceive Tarassein. The reality would be far worse, only reality is a tattered and frail thing here, in the Chaos.

Tarassein Traits

  • Subjective directional gravity: The strength of gravity on a plane with this trait is the same as on the Material Plane, but each individual chooses the direction of gravity’s pull. Such a plane has no gravity for unattended objects and nonsentient creatures. This sort of environment can be very disorienting to the newcomer, but is common on “weightless” planes. Characters on a plane with subjective directional gravity can move normally along a solid surface by imagining “down” near their feet. If suspended in midair, a character “flies” by merely choosing a “down” direction and “falling” that way. Under such a procedure, an individual “falls” 150 feet in the first round and 300 feet in each succeeding round. Movement is straight-line only. In order to stop, one has to slow one’s movement by changing the designated “down” direction (again, moving 150 feet in the new direction in the first round and 300 feet per round thereafter). It takes a DC 13 Wisdom check to set a new direction of gravity as a free action; this check can be made once per round. Any character who fails this Wisdom check in successive rounds receives advantage on subsequent checks until he or she succeeds.
  • Highly Morphic:On a plane with this trait, features of the plane change so frequently that it is difficult to keep a particular area stable. Such planes may react dramatically to specific spells, sentient thought or the force of will. Others change for no reason. This plane may respond to the will of a traveler. A character must make a Wisdom check (DC 13) to establish control or maintain control. Travelers who have already established control in the past get advantage on this check. A traveler zone of control extends for a number of feet equal to his Charisma score. Within the zone of control, the traveler can shape the raw stuff of the plane as if moulding clay, creating air, stone, metal or whatever else is desired. The appropriate Craft skills are needed to produce an item or building; however, a character can shape the contents of one five-foot cube each round. Objects created by warping chaos melt away if they move out of the traveler zone of control, if the traveler falls asleep or if taken off the plane. A traveler may make a Wisdom check with advantage (DC 15) to keep one five-foot by five-foot square from melting while he sleeps. If two travelers try to mould the same area simultaneously, they should make opposed Wisdom checks to see who wins.
  • Universal Life: There is no non-living matter in the plane. Even rocks squirm and crawl.
  • Erratic Time: Some planes have time that slows down and speeds up, so an individual may lose or gain time as he moves between the two planes. Roll on the following table to determine what effect is experienced.To the denizens of such a plane, time flows naturally and the shift is unnoticed.
    d% Time on Material Plane Time on Erratic Time Plane
    01-10 1 day 1 round
    11-40 1 day 1 hour
    41-60 1 day 1 day
    61-90 1 hour 1 day
    91-100 1 round 1 day
  • Strongly Chaotic Aligned: On planes that are strongly aligned, disadvantage applies on all Charisma-based checks made by all creatures not of the plane’s alignment. In addition, disadvantage affects all Intelligence-based and Wisdom-based checks, too.

Getting there… and Back

The fluid nature of Tarassein makes it an easy target for portals. Natural portals yawn open at the slightest provocation, while minglings are also alarmingly common. Artificial portals are also popular – chaos mages and madmen have been known to forge gates to the realm of chaos. There are also natural portals to the Astral Plane and the Vault of Stars. Portals also lead to the Questing Ground and Mal. The Malite portals are surrounded by zones of decay, where chaos acts to spawn new plagues and illnesses. The portals to the Questing Ground, on the other hand, lie near the Soulspring.

Survival in Tarassein

Any living creature exposed to the environment of Tarassein takes 1d12 points of damage per round from constantly changing sources. Natives are usually immune to some forms of damage, and know how to evade the rest. A protection from chaos spell will guard against this damage. The terrain of Tarassein is constantly changing and mutating. Characters can attempt to seize control of its morphing (see page 4, Planar Traits, for rules on controlling morphic zones). The random vicissitudes of the plane may produce other environmental hazards such as rivers of fire, oceans manifesting above the traveller’s head, poisonous rocks or vacuum storms which each require spells or survival techniques, but such hazards cannot be predicted.

Tarassein Damage Sources

1d10 Damage Type
1 Force (invisible buffets of energy)
2 Fire (gouts of flame, hot spots)
3 Cold (freezing winds, erupting ice crystals)
4 Acid (rain of acid or blood, fog clouds)
5 Sonic (unearthly screams or thunders)
6 Electrical (bolts of lightning, crawling energy serpents)
7 Bludgeoning (falling rocks, collapsing cliffs)
8 Slashing (passing birds with razor feathers, rain of swords)
9 Piercing (thorns, darts, rain of knives)
10 Pure chaos (internal pain, cancers)

Features

The major feature of the chaos pools of Tarassein is unbridled formlessness. Things bubble out of the raw chaos, taking on rough shape and form for brief moments before lapsing back into the primordial madness. The whole plane quivers like a heat haze; nothing is certain, all is transitory. The shapes thrown up might echo existing shapes in the rest of the multiverse (cliffs that appear as castles or clouds that appear as a whale) because any shape in the shapeless lands is a thin patina of Order over elemental Chaos.

Shaped Zones

A shaped zone is an area of relative stability, formed by a traveller or native with sufficient willpower to tame the surrounding chaos and force it into some recognisable form. A shaped zone can have any appearance, but most are free of the vicious weather that is endemic to the rest of the plane. Most shaped zones are only a few feet across (a radius equal to the shaper’s Charisma score), but others are magically enhanced and enlarged, and can be the size of an island or even a small country. Shaped zones are almost always inhabited (the rare exceptions occur when a shaped zone has permanency or a similar spell cast on it).

Decaying Zones

Decaying zones occur when a shaped zone is abandoned by its creator. Usually, the shaped area dissolves almost instantly back into formless chaos when a sentient mind ceases concentrating on it, but sometimes these regions are slower to subside. A decaying zone looks much as it did when it was being shaped, but all the lines and edges are running and smearing. Think of a limestone statue left out in acid rain for a century, or carved ice allowed to melt and refreeze over and over. Decayed zones rarely have sentient inhabitants (unless the person who originally shaped the zone is within, but is unconscious or injured), but tend to attract scuttling chaotic parasites who swallow stray bits of rotting debris.

Pocket Planes

The highly morphic nature of Tarassein makes it a prime target for ambitious planewrights seeking to carve out a demiplane or pocket plane for themselves. This is by no means an easy task – the plane can easily be crafted, but bringing the Law trait up and the Morphic trait down infuriates the creatures of chaos, so the planewright must expend a great deal of energy keeping his nascent plane clear of trespassers. Numerous pocket planes are known to float within the pools of chaos, notably the domains of the Orodro and the Daughters of Bedlam (see below).

Hazards

Scarab Cascades (CR6)

Chaos scarabs are the simplest possible creature that can endure in the Tarassein. They are little knots of chitin and muscle, studded with rudimentary eyes and clenching mandibles. A swarm of scarabs has the same stats as a swarm of wasps, with one important difference – the swarms instinctively shape chaos into more of themselves. Every 1d4 rounds, the number of scarab swarms doubles. The scarabs have a +10 bonus to Wisdom checks for warping chaos; a character who can warp chaos may make an opposed check to prevent any swarms within range from reproducing themselves. The whole of Tarassein would dissolve into scarabs if it were not for eruptions and especially violent weather patterns, which punch through the scarabs’ weak control over the stuff of chaos and sweep the insect hordes away.

Eruptions (CR8)

An eruption is the generic term given to the phenomenon of chaos vomiting up something unusually dangerous – the surrounding terrain turns into boiling acid, a giant mouth, full of teeth, a zone of negative energy or something even less pleasant. If the travellers are moving through unformed chaos, they may make a Dexterity save (DC 14) to dodge out of the way and avoid being caught in the eruption. The eruption deals 3d6 + 8 points of damage per round, and continues to grow. A character can scramble out of the way and stay ahead of the expanding eruption by making a run or double move action, but characters trying to fight or do anything else other than escape must keep making Dexterity saves to avoid the damage. Most eruptions last for 2d6 rounds.

Locations

The Soulspring

It is said that souls are born in the heart of chaos. This is, of course, untrue – how can a plane as mercurial as Tarassein have a heart? Still, there is truth here, and all the souls of mortal beings come from chaos. The Soulspring is a region where a tendril of Positive Energy has been caught in Tarassein, so creativity merges with the life force to produce new souls. It is a dangerous region – until the souls slip away through gates or are collected by the Tenders of Souls, any traveller in the Soulspring not protected by a mind blank or protection from chaos must make a Wisdom save each round (DC equal to one half times the number of rounds since the character entered the Soulspring) or be possessed. As the new souls are without reason or memory, the character acts as if confused for 1d10 rounds. The Tenders of Souls are imposing outsiders; each one stands as tall as a storm giant, but has a pair of feathery wings and the head of a sea-bird. They gather souls into their white bundles before travelling to other planes to disperse them. Occasionally, a Tender will be called upon to find an especially potent soul when it is time for a hero to be born.

Asylum

The Asylum is a pocket plane controlled by the insane Daughters of Bedlam. It is a nightmarish madhouse, a hospice for those whose minds were broken by the Daughters. They have no intention of curing their victims – instead, the Daughters divine the future by listening to the screaming and gibbering of the insane. Asylum is a labyrinth of grey prison cells, stained cloth and iron bars. Thrice in the last millennium, the forces of the Firmament have descended into Asylum to rescue the souls held in bondage there. Twice, they were successful – they healed wounded minds and brought the essences of the dead to the Afterworld. On the last occasion, the Captain of the Host was driven mad by a trio of elder Daughters, and his foolish commands led the angels to disaster. Thirtyseven angels and celestials of varying standing and potency are now denizens of the Asylum.

Denizens

Variant forms of almost any creature can be encountered in Tarassein; the chaos throws up creatures that echo existing shapes in order. These malformed echoes rarely survive for long before being subsumed back into the wrack of chaos. Chaos beasts swim through Tarassein like sharks, as do phasms and gibbering mouthers.

Orodro

This entity is a geyser of black slime that spouts constantly from the ground. Shapes – limbs, faces, body parts and stranger, less discernible objects – form and dissolve as the slime rushes up and flows down the slick flanks of this pillar of ooze. The only constant feature is the cluster of eyes near the top of the pillar, although the faces, organs, hands and other housings that contain these eyes change constantly. Orodro are sentient geysers of chaos. They are referred to as ‘Limbfountains’ in some texts, as most of the matter they throw up from inside themselves is organic, and looks like dismembered chunks of a humanoid body. Despite their off-putting – even vile – appearance, Orodro can be quite pleasant, although some have no compunctions about chopping humans up for aesthetic reasons. The realm of the Orodro is a very alarming plane indeed; their magics have merely slowed the endless churn of Tarassein, not stopped it. Walls shift and twist, buildings coil and writhe; the very laws are mutable. The Orodro consider Allmother Chaos to be a goddess eternally in the process of birthing itself, and have ties to various chaos or apocalypse cults. The race as a whole is not hostile, but some seek to drag everything back into primal formlessness. Orodro rarely leave their home plane, except when hired as assassins or aiding a chaos cult. The Orodro can consciously slow their own changes, selecting the right random body parts that swell up from within them to build a surprisingly good patchwork humanoid body. They use this ability to infiltrate other planes in disguise. Orodro are frightening foes; they are extremely agile and fluid combatants, slipping through the defences of enemies and rapidly adapting to their enemy’s actions.
Black Pudding Variant: Orodro
An orodro has the following changes:
  • Type Aberration
  • Armor Class 15
  • Speed 40 ft., climb 40 ft.
  • Stats Dexterity 20 (+5), Intelligence 14 (+2), Charisma 14 (+2)
  • Damage Immunities lightning, slashing
  • Adaptability: Whenever an orodro is struck by a weapon or damage type, it gains resistance against that attack form for the next six rounds. If struck by the same damage type while it has resistance it gains immunity. An orodro may only gain one new immunity in this fashion.
  • Weapon Use: An Orodro is instinctively proficient in any melee weapons it holds. They delight in disarming their opponents and using their weapons against them.
  • Shapeshifter: Orodro may disguise themselves as if they had a disguise kit without actually owning one. They gain proficiency with disguise kits, may use it as an action, and have advantage with it.

Daughters of Bedlam

The creature is a humanoid female, with long flowing multicoloured hair. You would assume she was a rather odd human, if it were not for her unnaturally long fingernails, which have been used to tear at the flesh of her bare arms and neck. Alarmingly, she seems to have also used them to claw out her own eyes. The Daughters of Bedlam are either elemental spirits of chaos who are dedicated to spreading madness across the planes, or else are the souls of those who died in insanity and have learned to draw new power from chaos. All of the Daughters are physically similar; rake-thin human females with flowing hair that shimmers in multiple colours. They dress in shapeless shifts or rags. The Daughters desire only to drive other creatures insane. They can be bound and compacted for projects that will cause madness. Their pocket plane in Tarassein is known as the Asylum, and is exactly what it sounds like – if anyone claimed by the Daughters dies while insane, their soul is trapped in the Asylum forever. The Daughters prefer to avoid physical combat, although they can be surprisingly agile foes. They are often accompanied by succubi or axiomatic harpies, both of whom are often of like minds to the Daughters.
Succubus Variant: Daughter of Bedlam
A daughter of bedlam has the following changes:
  • Alignment: Chaotic evil
  • Gaze of Madness: The Daughter has a constantly active Gaze attack with a range of 30 feet. Anyone caught in the gaze must make a Wisdom save (DC 14) or be confused (as the spell) for one round. The save DC is Charisma-based.
  • Intuition: The Daughters have an instinctive intuition of the flows of chaos, which gives them an edge in combat. In any round, as a bonus action, a Daughter may gain advantage on any one attack roll or skill check, or may increase her Armour Class by +2 until the start of her next turn.
  • Aura of Madness: The Daughter’s mere presence is unsettling. Anyone within 30 feet of her suffers a disadvantage on all rolls. Also, they have a +10 bonus to Wisdom checks for warping chaos, but only when using the chaotic landscape to create mocking or false constructs to drive others insane.
  • Insanity Plunge: Anyone who fails a Wisdom save within range of the Daughter’s Aura of Madness suffers a further -1 cumulative penalty to all Wisdom saves until they move out of range of the Aura. Anyone reduced to a Wisdom save of -5 or more is driven insane and falls into a catatonic coma and can only be cured with remove curse, break enchantment or heal.

Adventure Seeds

Tarassein is a rather unfriendly plane, but its chaos does offer some opportunities for adventure. Any scenarios about planecrafting will usually include a trip to gather a chaos infusion or two, as the flexibility of the chaotic medium is very useful to planewrights. The endless wastes of chaos are also an excellent place for a troubled party to establish a refuge.
  • A trio of Daughters of Bedlam are summoned by an ambitious courtier to drive the king insane. The characters must uncover the plot and stop all three. If they fail, they must travel to the Asylum to rescue the king’s soul so he can be raised.
  • An artist discovers that creativity can be distilled from raw chaos. Together with a mage friend of hers, she discovers where this fount of inspiration lies. However, it inspires the mage to create thousands of new spells. Unless the mage is stopped, he will soon create a spell that will spill chaos across all the worlds. The characters must help the artist reach her friend before unbridled creativity spells disaster.