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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground

    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Terra Ephemera

    Default Planes and Races of the Deeping Falls

    For an explanation of what the Deeping Falls is and an explanation of the planar cosmology of my setting of Human Existence, check here.

    Once again, as I developed this setting I wanted to make realistic some of the stranger tropes in DnD. For example:

    • There are lots small settlements of various different races, all isolated from each other in a way that makes little sense in terms of patterns of expansion.
    • There are lots and lots of different races all in one plane.
    • Most of these races are nasty, evil, twisted things that PCs like to stick swords in.
    • Every race save humanity has its own (singular!) language, and also speaks Common. For some reason, humans also speak Common. Every human, everywhere.
    • Most races have subraces, particularly evil variants.
    • There is a general disdain by certain races for humanity, despite humans being the dominant race.
    • Civilization is in a dark age, with ancient magics surpassing the modern and loads of ruins to explore.
    • And on and on and on...

    I also wanted to establish relationships between the races that would be close to what's laid out in Pathfinder, and also be very familiar to fans of Tolkein. (This might be redundant, but.) The races needed to be distinct without being "planet of hats". AND I wanted something that fit halfway-decently with fairy fables.

    Without further ado, here are some notable planes of the Deeping Falls and the races that called them home:

    (It should be noted that the Common-tongue names of the dominant (or best known) races of each plane are usually bastardizations of the name of the plane itself.)

    It is uncertain whether Leth still survives, but it is the home plane of the aboleths and their numberless creations. Ancient beyond the reckoning of most other races, the most ancient of songs detail the war between Leth and Drakka. These tales speak of Leth’s glory in discovering the means to forge artificial conduits still used to ply the planes to this date, in comprehending the life-force, and creating thousands of magnificent races . They also tell of Leth’s discovery of Drakka, its war with that plane, the increasingly dark measures Leth embraced in the war, and the curse that fell upon their plane as a consequence. Those who read between the lines and know of the Deeping Falls realize that these evil methods drew Leth lower and lower down the Falls, and the people of Leth became increasingly twisted and evil as a result. This led to Leth’s final act of greatness: the discovery of a fel ritual to freeze their plane in place, by dragging other planes down. It’s unknown whether Leth has finally been drawn into oblivion or remains among the nether realms, destroying others so that it might survive. Most descendents of the survivors retain no detailed knowledge of their ancient history. But some ancient aboleth still survive, uncorrupted and with the power of gods, moving through the planes and continuing their ancient art of exploration and conduit-forging. Aboleth conduits are typically in the form of subterranean waterways that draws the unbreathing traveler along deep currents, and thresholds that are particularly amiable to mutability and moments of transformation.

    Home plane of dragons. Drakka is fiercely territorial, strongly isolationist, downright xenophobic, and (by choice) is unconnected to any other plane by any conduit. Drakka is the most ancient surviving civilization (save perhaps Leth), and was the first to discern the nature of the Deeping Falls. (It also claims to be the first to discover the magical force, though many think Leth properly holds that claim.) Having discovered the nature of the Falls, Drakka managed to freeze itself in the current by embracing a static society devoted to absolute balance. Those who would not submit to these strictures were exiled from the plane, forced to travel through the Tides without the benefit of a conduit. As a consequence, the survivors of this Diaspora were much more arrogant, potent, and sizeable than the typical resident of Drakka. Most dragons in Human Existence are descendent from these exiles. Many are ancient enough to recall (albeit at the remove of a generation or two) their home, and desire to return in force, but lack the numbers and unity. Some dragons, however, are active agents on missions from Drakka, present to destabilize the plans of the exiles or keep nearby planes from gathering the resources to force a conduit into Drakka.

    Home of the goblinoid races. Ergobsi was once populated by skilled and clever goblin craftsmen, a chivalrous hobgoblin nobility, and a deeply spiritual bugbear priesthood. Though it was never formally part of the Fae’ri confederacy, it had close and friendly cultural and economic ties. Its sudden, spontaneous plunge down the Tides has never been satisfactorily explained, but the goblinoid races were twisted into evil things and then burst forth onto the planes as a bloodthirsty, invading horde. As they overtook each plane, the blood and slaughter dragged those planes down to oblivion as well. The resulting Goblin Wars lasted almost a millennium, long after the loss of Ergobsi itself, before the hordes ran out of momentum, and were in large part responsible for the shattering of Fae’rin. Modern goblinoids races have lost most of their history and are largely ignorant of their origins, though some hints of forgotten nobility remain within their character. The last great goblinoid polity in Human Existence was shattered almost three centuries ago, but countless tribes, clans, and warbands still remain scattered across the world. Ergobsi-forged conduits are easiest-accessed while focused on goals, desires, and purpose.

    Not properly a plane itself, Fae’rin is the greatest civilization in known history. At its height it had a membership of almost eighty planes, footholds in at least a hundred more, and several hundred beyond that within its sphere of influence. It was ruled by a Court that migrated from member plane to member plane every few subjective months, with the Court headed by the hosting plane. The Court never really had the ability to issue decrees or pass laws; political unification across even a single plane was rare in Fae’rin. The Court’s true power was much more subtle. It set the standard for courtesy, chivalry, codes of war, manners, etiquette, mores, even fashion… and in so doing, created a framework for coexistence amongst all the diverse Fae’ri races.

    Though the Goblin Wars wracked Fae’rin, dragging several of its planes down to oblivion and twisting dozens more, the confederacy survived the onslaught. However, many fey worlds were twisted by the wars, and this in turn led to alienation amongst the previously-unified cultures. Not long after the goblinoid offensives ended, a faction of Fae’ri made a bid to “unify” the confederacy under their control with a more central government. Other Fae’ri resisted, and the entire matter spun out of control into civil war. The original cause bellum was soon forgotten as the civil war turned into a battle between the good and evil Fae’ri, with many choosing to secede rather than take sides. The isolation of different alignments of fey into particular planes caused these planes to rise or fall accordingly, and the enforced distance finally caused the war to grind to a halt. Three separate confederacies were the result, each claiming to be what’s left of the original Fae’rin. This civil war was called the Undoing, and it left its scars on the fey. Modern Fae’ri are loathe to engage in violent conflict with each other, and will typically default to the old, courtly rules (which humans typically find alien and nonsensical) to settle disputes and establish dominance.

    Fae’ri conduits are among the best-preserved and most numerous artificial conduits in the Deeping Falls, and travel through them is very safe. These conduits usually take the form of a sylvan path or road. For some, the entrances are populated by mushrooms whose spores place the traveler in a dream-like state ideal for the initial transition through the ethereal plane. Others are accessed by suffusing oneself in an activity, craft, art, or emotional state.

    It should be noted that humans are largely ignorant of which races were or weren’t officially part of Fae’rin, and are prone to consider those who were just closely affiliated with the confederacy to be Fae’ri. As the generations have ground on, many humans have even forgotten that the term once referred to citizens of a particular nation, and have taken to calling all races of extra-planar origin Fae’ri or Fae’ir folk.

    Though not technically fey, the pint-sized Hofel became part of the core nation of Fae'rin, rather than remain as loose associates. A rural, cosmopolitan, and orderly people from a realm that was higher and more idyllic than most, the Hofellings (or Halflings in Common) were the sort to stay home farming and holding festivals rather than go out looking for trouble. The exceptions were usually ostracized and exiled, and halflings on other planes (including Human Existence) tend to be the descendents of these expatriated misfits, with appropriately colorful personalities. Exile halflings tend to be curious and adventurous, with a tendency to stick their noses where they don't belong and get in over their heads. Halflings never forged their own conduits, but instead used Fae'ri conduits extensively.

    Nyoomics (or Gnomes) also hail from a High Fae'rin realm. Though not technically fey from a taxological standpoint, they are closely related and were regarded as such politically. Gnomes were one of the founding races of the Fae'rin confederacy and both highly regarded and greatly interested in other worlds and their affairs. Gnomes believe, as do many fey, that a higher state of being is to be accomplished through a lighter spirit, that emotional levity can literally levitate a plane through the Deeps and emotional gravity can literally cause it to sink. Though gnomes caught in Human Existence by the darkening of the Twilight tend not to remember the reason for doing so, they retain a cultural desire to bring humor and joy to the entire world. They even refer to the plane (and, specifically, its rocks and mountains) as Old Stoneface, and believe the world will transcend when the gnomes find a prank or joke so hilarious that even Old Stoneface is amused and the mountains themselves laugh. Gnomes also have a strong oral history supplemented by innate illusionary magics, and are more likely to remember their otherworldly roots than most races. Nyoom fell down the Deeping Falls a ways during the Goblin Wars and the Undoing, and the (less-light-hearted) gnomes which now emerge from the conduits linked to that plane are consequently called Deep Gnomes. Gnomes in Human Existence maintain quite a few more independent communities than Halflings, but a majority of them have also been absorbed into human civilization. Gnomes did not forge their own conduits, but used Fae’ri conduits extensively.

    Du Warv:
    Known in their tongue as Inner (Warv) Light (Du), the dwarves hail from this plane. Unlike most planes which could look out upon the night sky and see other planes glowing as distant stars in the black sea of the Twilight, Du Warv had an inner sun that shined eternally upon an outer shell of habitable, mountainous rock. Though most regions were high jungle, the lower one travels the colder it got, and glaciers were known to form below the dozenth canopy. Dwarves tended to make their homes in these low places, delving ever-deeper into the cold earth, and it is through these subterranean paths that they "surfaced" into other planes. Though dwarves did work out the basic necessities of alignment towards the salvation of their worlds, they never worked out the truth of planar travel, and the common dwarf regards himself as coming from a world inside the world, colonizing the surface, and treating with surface-dwellers. Dwarves encountered in Human Existence have been cut off from their home plane by the goblin wars, and the ultimate fate of Du Warv is unknown. However, the way in which twisted races keep emerging from the old dwarven tunnels is... not promising. The old dwarven religious requirement that every dwarf make a pilgrimage to Du Warv by or about his or her hundredth birthday has been reinterpreted in light of this harsh reality. Du Warv has taken on a spiritual meaning, the light and strength inside each dwarf's soul, and the pilgrimage has transformed into an inner, meditative journey to find one's own truth, strength, and virtue. Dwarves still speak of Du Warv, but now it is a personal beacon inside the heart of each dwarf. The ethereal interface of conduits to Du Warv can be accessed through focusing on and embracing one's inner determination, strength, courage, or endurance. Orcs and giants hail from planes neighboring Du Warv and typically reached Human Existence by way of that plane, and those who made the transition through dwarven conduits also put high value on determination, strength, courage, and endurance. In human existence, most dwarves dwell in great cities built into tall mountains, or in ancillary villages.

    The elves native to Al'Vlin never created a unified interplanar empire. However, they did field afar, forming small colonies on planes too numerous to count even before the formation of Fae’rin. Though they paid little attention to the larger world of each plane they colonized, they lavished attention on their small pockets of reality, turning them into paradises devoted to perfection within a narrow range of interest. Thus one elven colony might be made up of towering spires and be devoted to the study of arcane magic, and another be a forest glade naturally formed into a small city and devoted to the study of nature. Though these colonies were never unified, the elves maintained an astounding network of safe paths through the Twilight, and travel, trade, and relocation between colonies was the norm, with most also forming close ties with Fae'ria.

    This changed with the fall of Ergobsi and the unleashing of the goblin hordes upon the planes. Al'vlin was a primary target of the hobgoblins, and though the elves won almost every battle outside of a complete mismatch, the relative fecundity proved disastrous. Goblinkind established several footholds and spread, eventually conquering two of three continents and causing Al'vlin to sink further and further down the Deeping Falls. Refugees escaping to other colonies increasingly came in variations that were warped and twisted by the standards of high elves, and the colonies reluctantly closed the paths from Al'vlin. Those elves confined to Al'vlin became the drow, and eventually forged their own paths free of their doomed world. It is also believed in Elven Fable that the hero-king of the elves, Be'ledel, carved the sacred island Al'vir clear of the plane, saving it from the Fall and relocating it to the Outer Planes; Be'ledel and his court are now worshiped as the elven pantheon.

    The Darkening of the Twilight has since made traveling between colonies much more dangerous, and the scattered communities of elvenkind are increasingly isolated from one another. Elven conduits tend to be aquatic in nature, with travel by barge or ship over a glossy black starlit sea or lake, and they often speak of their homeland sinking beneath the waves. As travel between the worlds becomes rare and living experience with the Deeping Falls fades, younger generations of elves increasingly take this metaphor as a literal truth. Ethereal access is granted through self-improvement and seeking perfection, usually in an area of interest particular to the conduit. (This is often confused with the fae'ri act of losing oneself in a craft or art, but the two are not the same. One is about engaging in a thing with the whole of your soul regardless of the quality of outcome, and the other is about achieving perfection regardless of personal intensity.) In human existence, Elves typically live in their isolated, secluded colonies, content to leave the world alone if it will leave them alone, and those who won't leave them alone often meet with a violent reception. The earth itself has typically been imbued with magics and a sort of territorial sentience over the millennia, and to attempt an invasion of elven lands is little short of suicide.

    Human Existence:
    When first discovered by Elven (and later Fae’ri and Dwarven) explorers, Human Existence was a young, idyllic world with its inhabitants existing in a blissful, natural state. The elves and dwarves established their colonies and dismissed humanity as barbarians, while Fae’rin traded extensively with primitive tribes for native spices and woods, to the point where most of humanity adopted Fae’ri Common as a world-wide language. Human Existence remained in a fairly primitive state until the Goblin Wars.

    While only a very small portion of the goblin offensive fell on Human Existence, relatively speaking, that was still enough to enslave large portions of humanity. As more monsters and twisted races crept out of the conduits to planes despoiled by the goblinoids, the lot of humans worsened even further. With the end of the Goblin Wars and the beginning of the Undoing, the Fae’ri largely withdrew to attend to their own concerns, and with them took any hope the humans had of salvation. Human Existence looked to be a final victim of the goblin wars.

    Instead came the Twins, two human heroes who dual-handedly inspired humanity to cast off its chains, embrace civilization, and drive their oppressors to the ends of the world. By the time the Twins died, they had founded a human civilization that would eventually stretch across half the plane, and humanity’s worship of them elevated them to godhood.
    That empire has now collapsed under the weight of its own bureaucracy, but human civilization in the form of successor states is still expanding by leaps and bounds. Human religion focuses on the good of humanity (with no concern for other races beyond enlightened self-interest). Halflings and gnomes trapped on the plane by the Darkening of the Twilight have largely been absorbed into human society in a symbiotic relationship, and the dwarves, while separate, are common allies against the savage races. Elves remain separate and aloof, still isolated to their colonies. However, as travel between these colonies is increasingly difficult through the Twilight, many elves traveling overland are forced to confront the reality that humans are no longer as barbarous as they once were.
    I'm not an evil GM! Honest!

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Bugbear in the Playground
    Omeganaut's Avatar

    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Plane of Science

    Default Re: Planes and Races of the Deeping Falls

    I really like what you have so far, and I want to hear more about it. Keep going!
    I have returned, and plan on focusing on world-building. Issues are being dealt with.

    Quote Originally Posted by MesiDoomstalker View Post
    Thread won! I don't think I have the authority to do that but whatever

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