Carceri


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Carceri
Rune of Carceri
Alignment Neutral (Chaotic) Evil
Number of layers 6
Associated Faction Revolutionary League
Gate-Town Curst
Inhabitants of Carceri
Previous
Abyss
Next
Grey Waste

Though renown for being one of the tightest prisons in the planes, for being the exiled home of the Olympian titans, the Tartarean Depths of Carceri are far more than that. In Bytopia, the opposing plane of Carceri, hard work is its own reward. In Carceri, however, hard work gets you power. Fight your way to the top, sneak into systems and topple them from the inside. Overturn order through struggle one way or another, even if it's with the purest of intentions. In the Abyss people listen to the man at the top out of fear; in Carceri, they do it out of respect, for she wouldn't be at the top if she didn't deserve to be.

Physical Conditions

As said above, while Carceri is often thought of as a prison, and in fact is commonly known as the Red Prison, this isn't quite the case. It is true that nearly all portals leading to Carceri are one-way, that the only easy way out of the plane is via the River Styx. And it is true that those exiled to the plane cannot simply escape even via these means. However, they can escape, should they fulfill one condition — if they become stronger than that which exiled them. This strength can take all manner of forms; purely physical, yes, but intelligence, cleverness, subterfuge, any manner of strength can do. It is this that truly encompasses the plane; only the strong deserve success. Not because they can beat everyone beneath them, but because they have beat everyone above them. Thus, if someone cannot leave Carceri, it is solely because they do not yet deserve to. And indeed, though some constantly struggle to escape Carceri and overcome their weakness, others have no desire to leave Carceri, even making a life for themselves there. The Revolutionary League is among the latter, with Carceri holding the only major safe house for the faction as a whole; though the Anarchists have little influence in Carceri, they do occasionally recruit from the plane, holding one of the few reliable portals from Othrys to Sigil.

Reflecting its base nature, Carceri is a harsh and unforgiving land. Shared between all the layers, just about the only light in Carceri is the dull red glow from the void between orbs, casting everything in a ruddy shade. In the higher layers, the orbs themselves provide a bit of extra light to see by, but the deeper one travels and the more distant the adjacent orbs are, the less light one has to see by. Distinct between them, though, each realm has its own unique ways at threatening its inhabitants, while still "encouraging" them to reach the point where its conditions become no threat at all. In each layer, after having spent enough time dealing with its hazards — though this is years upon years in most cases — one has proven that they have nothing to fear from the conditions, that they have beaten them. Thus, they will enjoy some form of relief that allows them to ignore it entirely. In Cathrys, for example, those petitioners that live amongst the horridly acidic jungle trees for long enough gain a slimy coating that renders them immune to its touch.

Each layer of Carceri is devoted to its own distinct variation of treachery, its petitioners a representation of that layer's theme. Othrys holds those that betray their country, claiming false allegiance. Cathrys holds those that betray their humanity and descend to their pure, barbarous animal instincts. Minethys holds those that betray their trade, forsaking their job for the sake of money or politics. Colothys holds those that betray trust, the liars and cheaters. Porphatys holds those that betray their social bonds, turning away from the downtrodden in favor of their own self-interest. And Agathys holds those that betray their personal bonds, that made false claims of family or friendship only to turn in the end. While of course these do have much overlap, in each layer the theme can be perceived both in the physical manifestation, and in the sorts of interactions one can expect from its petitioners.

Traveling around and between the layers of Carceri holds its own unique challenge as well, due to their strange configuration; a popular theory amongst metaphysicists is that such travel is purposefully difficult in part to ensure people meant for one layer don't easily drift to others. Each layer is composed of a seemingly infinite chain of orbs, stretching off endlessly in both directions. The true number of orbs is unknown, with some that say Carceri holds more orbs than the Abyss holds layers. The only means of travel between these orbs is flight, though those that cannot do so with their own natural abilities or spells have a number of local options provided — spinnerets are a popular means, as are ferrous sleds and skin balloons. The space between orbs is filled with breathable atmosphere, though fetid, with the underlying stench of rot and corruption saturating the void. Managing the spheres of influence of each orb can be tricky, though; once one draws closer to an orb than its highest point, no matter where that highest point faces, that orb's gravity takes hold, and for those orbs with single tremendous peaks one must be very careful when traveling near to avoid unexpectedly being drawn to its surface. To pass to a lower layer, one must descend deep below the surface level of an orb, looking for tunnels at the lowest points, while to rise above, one must seek tunnel entrances at the highest peaks; as always, this can be quite treacherous, as more than one unlucky sod has mistaken a gehreleth lair for a layer passage. The end result following the transit takes many first-time visitors to Carceri by surprise, as one emerges upon one of the orbs of the next layer, still visible a chain of orbs stretching off into the void.

Of the void itself, there's little to say. As far as is known, it's utterly empty but for the rare snatch of a soft, almost imperceptible music, a quiet tinkling of out-of-tune bells that resounds with its listener's soul. This music, according to the one known survivor of its effects — a now-retired adventurer, Vyaki Laisamen — is said to promise, almost beseechingly, a person's deepest desire. However, this claim is entirely false, instead leading its victim deeper and deeper into the void, never to be seen again. According to Laisamen, far away from the orbs, perhaps even the source of this music, are great, monstrous creatures. Ancient beings seemingly not of this multiverse, perhaps even originating from the Far Realm, exiles from far before even the Titans were born. While none but Laisamen have ever reported such beings, few wish to take the chance of verifying her claims. Fewer still seek to contemplate the question — if they are exiles, who was it that exiled them?

As for exiting Carceri, there are few means even for non-natives. As said before, the River Styx works, though it is risky. There are very rare portals out as well. But the only easily-accessible method (comparatively speaking) are the obsidian gates in Othrys. Found only on every fifth orb, these massive slabs take the form of giant obelisks covered with carvings of the faces of pitiable humanoids and vicious monsters. Though unusable by any forcibly sent to Carceri by any means, these gates are still known to the locals, who often decide to fight off any attempts at using them out of pure cantankerousness or jealousy. To those that do reach a gate, it's claimed by locals that one can determine which plane a given gate connects to by observing the dimensions of the obelisk. Those taller than wide bring one to the Gray Waste, those wider than tall to the Abyss, and those of equal height and width to the Outlands.

Magical Conditions

Abjuration No change
Conjuration Conjuration spells summon creatures as normal, but the creature summoned has no special allegiance to the caster, nor can they be dismissed. As such, depending on the creature, some sort of bribe or other extortion might be necessary to cause them to obey the caster.
Divination As Carceri is a plane of treachery, divinations — spells which allow for the revelation of truth — can only take place with an act of betrayal. Specifically, with the unwanted and unexpected shedding of a friend or ally's blood to serve as a scrying pool. As the strength of the divination increases, more blood is required; the most powerful divinations cannot function without murder under most circumstances. As such, diviners are especially loathed in Carceri, with the art for the most part forbidden.
Enchantment No change
Evocation No change
Illusion No change
Necromancy Due to the oppressive nature of Carceri, spells which channel positive energy are impeded, while spells which channel negative energy are maximized.
Transmutation Transmutation spells are transformed to manifest in the most hostile way possible, whether it be purely aesthetic or an actual distortion of the spell. When possible, the spell will take effect in a dark and evil manner.
Elemental Elemental spells are impeded or enhanced — heightened by 1 — in Carceri according to the nature of the layer; for example, air is enhanced on Minethys, and fire is impeded within Agathys.

Spell Keys

Tartarean spell keys almost always take the form of either a personal sacrifice or a substance or item very rare within Carceri. Divination spells, for example, can function with far less efficiency with the caster's own blood, while the spell key for a transmutation spell might be a cold iron necklace wrapped about the wrist.

Layers

Powers

References

  • Manual of the Planes, 3rd edition, pp.104-108
  • On Hallowed Ground, pp.172-182
  • Planes of Conflict - Liber Malevolentiae, pp.6-23
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