Research:The Broken Lands
This is a research page for interpreting the Broken Lands in its original historical context. It is impossible to understand the Broken Lands without the Shadow World source books, as its basic premise is elaborating relationships from that world setting. However, it was also made with its own specific lore texts which were unique to GemStone III, which would be considered non-canonical in Shadow World. It becomes a matter of interpreting and guessing at the intent. The Broken Lands most likely also has more cryptic symbolic meaning relating it to the archaic death theology and mechanics of Purgatory, and should probably be interpreted as a spin-off story of The Graveyard.
The Broken Lands was introduced by GM Kygar in the I.C.E. Age in a few phases between 1992 and 1994, with the exception of the Sheruvian monastery, which was instead after the De-ICE by GM Sayzor in late 1997. What is now called the Lysierian Hills was built to be an idyllic contrast around a hidden portal to an exotic locale, which was then chosen to have an "Unlife invasion" theme, elaborating on the relationship between the servants of the Unlife with the Dark Gods in the Wars of Dominion.
Archaic GemStone III Documentation:
- A Popular History of the Broken Lands (1993)
- The Temple of Darkness Poem (1994)
- Iruaric Language Notes (1994)
The following research pages are interrelated with the subject of this one:
The world setting of GemStone III in the I.C.E. Age (Dec. 1989 - Sept. 1995) was set on Kulthea rather than Elanthia. This is the archaic Shadow World historical timeline, in contrast to the modern History of Elanthia. The story for the Broken Lands is "The Broken Land", but on the Wiki is labeled "A Popular History of the Broken Lands" (1993), and it is set in the context of Shadow World. This means the details and areas associated with the story must be interpreted in terms of the contemporary Shadow World source books. More subtly, it must be interpreted using books of an early enough date, as details first existing in later books would be apocryphal.
The Broken Lands was developed late enough for Shadow World Master Atlas, 2nd Edition (May 1992) to potentially be relevant. However, the specific Iruaric glossary that was adapted and Iloura's shrine must have been from earlier books, coming instead from Shadow World Master Atlas Addendum (1990). The Master Atlas Addendum in particular has some vestigial admixtures of the Unlife on Charôn, the moon of the Dark Gods, before that language was removed from later books. For explanations of paleo-history, crypto-history, and potential weaknesses of methodology, see Research:The Graveyard.
I.C.E. Source Books
These books are especially likely to have some degree of relevance to the story. The Uthex Kathiasas story is unique to GemStone, it does not exist in the source books.
- Shadow World Master Atlas, 1st Edition (1989)
- Shadow World Master Atlas Addendum (1990)
- Demons of the Burning Night (1989)
- Quellbourne: Land of the Silver Mist (1989)
- Creatures & Treasures II (1989)
Some information is recorded on the authorial intent of the Broken Lands, which helps constrain the range of possible interpretations. GM Kygar did an interview in the Kulthea Chronicle, Volume I Issue V, which was the September/October issue of 1994. In this he describes how the whole concept was formed before any of it was created. The Seolfar Strake is north of the High Plateau on the Quellbourne maps, unlike the post-I.C.E. Age maps which place the Lysierian Hills south of Glatoph. Kygar describes making this region as a contrast for the Monastery, and describes earlier in the interview that the Kral (Modern: Krolvin) were only added to the Seolfar Strake in 1994 because of combat mechanics needs, as opposed to the "natural-growth" approach that was used for the original parts.
"The second approach is to come up with a concept or a 'main thread' and then to allow an area and the creatures to grow up around that concept. I think of this as a 'natural-growth' design, rather than addressing some specific need. Most of the Seolfar Strake, Monastery and areas beyond the Monastery are of this design concept. Because they are 'natural-growth' design, they do not always address the needs of every character class or type. I don't see a problem with that, and make no apologies for it. If there are 'gaps' in the area or creatures, then those gaps can be filled by other areas and other creatures. When I started on the Seolfar Strake, I decided to have a natural sylvan setting in the foothills of a mountain, along with some buried ruins that contained a gate to a more remote and exotic locale. After looking at the Quellbourn map, I decided on Seolfar Strake as the location, since that was a previously untouched area of the island. Having a general idea of the setting and situation, I then had to search for a theme to justify it all. I read through a lot of background material about Kulthea, looking for a good plot to have it all revolve around. I settled on an Unlife invasion theme, but wanted to add a twist that had not yet been explored. The background material made it clear that the Unlife and the Lords of Charôn had worked together during the Wars of Dominion. I selected that as the theme." - GM Kygar; Kulthea Chronicle, Volume I Issue V (1994), page 18
This "background material" has no modern analog in the world setting of Elanthia, so the "theme" of the Broken Lands is highly archaic. In the following paragraph he describes the additional background material that is not canon in Shadow World or Rolemaster. These include the legend of Uthex Kathiasas itself, the modified Iruaric glossary (1994), and the Temple of Darkness Poem (1994). The purpose of the Monastery in preventing the servants of the Unlife from exiting the Broken Lands is particularly interesting, because the story might have been read as being hidden so that it could not be found.
"Anyone who has not read the additional background material about the Monastery and areas beyond that are in the Tomes of Kulthea should do that. The legends and information that I came up with are not official RM material, so the only place you will find them is in the Tomes. Reading those should explain the exact history and plot of the area, though it does not give you every possible detail. Only after I have written a history and background foundation for an area like this, do I actually start building. I think the effect in the Seolfar Strake works. The approach is quiet and sylvan, with nary a hint of the dark struggle that takes place within the mountain. The Monastery itself fits the historical purpose for which it was designed, and that was to guard against intrusions of the Unlife through the gate that is located there. By reading the history and then really exploring and looking at the Monastery itself you can easily get a feel for the centuries of dedicated labor that the monks served. You can understand how their increased isolation from the rest of the world made them lonely and restless. In the end, they succumbed to the very powers that they were set to guard against and became servants of the very powers that they opposed. It's a tragic tale I guess." Kygar smiled a little. "In any event, given that tale it was easy for the creatures to develop themselves. The wild creatures in the outer Strake are natural for that setting. The spectral monks and monastic liches in the Monastery are a very natural result of the history of the place. The general abilities of all these creatures are pretty natural." - GM Kygar; Kulthea Chronicle, Volume I Issue V (1994), pages 18 & 24
Kygar then went on to explain that the Broken Lands itself is designed as an extension of the Monastery story, and that there is unifying theme and purpose behind all of it. He explicitly says that there is more to it than its surface meaning, and that you have to dig into the background to understand what it all means. Though part of what he is talking about is the dome puzzle which no longer exists.
"The area beyond the Monastery is an extension of the story. It was all developed in the same way. There is a theme and tale behind all of it, and in light of that theme it all makes sense. I don't want to go into Man'Ta Pn'Tairken in too much detail because there are some (hopefully) neat things there for people to discover on their own. I can only encourage people to look beyond the surface. Dig into the Tomes and find the stories that give it all meaning. My areas and creatures are more than simple conglomerates of game mechanics. They have purpose and reason behind them, well most of them anyway, and by understanding that reason you should be better able to discover how to deal with them." He chuckled to himself. "Hmm, that was a pretty long answer." - GM Kygar; Kulthea Chronicle, Volume I Issue V (1994), page 24
Empress Kadaena is at the heart of all the hidden meaning of the Broken Lands. In the First Era of the Shadow World history, the Lords of Essaence weakened the barriers between worlds with their portals, including Portals on the moon Charôn. Many thousands of years later these dormant portals on the moon interacted with the comet Sa'kain. This was what allowed the Dark Gods to first enter, or perhaps return, to this plane of existence in the Second Era. It was also what allowed the servants of the Unlife to begin appearing on Charôn. These dark forces eventually unleash the Wars of Dominion.
The actual "name" of the Broken Lands is the Man'Ta Pn'Tairken, which is Iruaric for the "Home of Broken Lore". Iruaric was the language of Kadaena's servants, an extended family known as the K'ta'viiri or "Lords of Essaence". The monsters in the Broken Lands were originally named in Iruaric, and it is the language used in the Dark Shrine. It was also used originally in the crypt in The Graveyard.
The Wars of the Dominion and the Unlife are mentioned all the way back in The Iron Wind source book of 1980. "Empress Kadena" and the "Lords of Essence" exist in the 1984 books, but they were not wedded yet to the "K'ta'viir" of Spacemaster or a language called Iruaric. In the Shadow World Master Atlas, 1st Edition (1989) the Dark Lords of Charôn are not defined yet as a pantheon, where the moon Charôn is instead associated with servants of the Unlife. There is reference to underground caves and tunnels, but the relevant details are not given until the Master Atlas Addendum in 1990.
"Charôn is considered an evil presence by most Kultheans, who believe that the orb is a haven of strange, otherworldly beings and presences. Once again, superstition is not without a basis in fact, for Charôn is indeed a gate-world which hovers on the boundary between dimensions. Beneath the shining icy surface are myriad caves and tunnels - hiding places for the unspeakable. It is shunned by the Lords of Orhan. When Charôn passes close the inhabitants of the Great Moon are especially vigilant." - Shadow World Master Atlas, 1st Edition (1989); page 17 - Shadow World Master Atlas, 2nd Edition (1992); page 20 - Tomes of Kulthea #1046
In the Jaiman source book of 1989 these evil otherworldly beings are "servants of the Unlife." These servants were able to leave Charôn on the Night of the Third Moon in the 1989 books. It is an idiosyncratic point in the 1989 books that Kadaena, in spite of having been dead for over a hundred thousand years, is sometimes still described as the leader of the forces of Unlife in the Wars of Dominion.
"Dark cults worship Charôn. They consider the zenith to be a time of particular importance, a time when servants of the Unlife are able to leave their home on Charôn and come to the Shadow World. ... The Amulet of Charôn is listed as an NPC because it has schemes, goals, and powers of its own, and should be treated like an NPC by the GM. This device is an ancient artifact dating back to the Wars of Dominion at the end of the Second Era. It was a tool created by the servants of Kadæna as one of their many plots of subversion - the prelude to all-out war." - Jaiman: Land of Twilight (1989); page 46-47 "Dark cults worship Charôn. They consider the zenith to be a time of particular importance, a time when servants of the Unlife are able to leave their home on Charôn and come to the Shadow World." - Shadow World Master Atlas Addendum (1990); page 37 - Shadow World Master Atlas, 2nd Edition (1992); page 113
This is the vestigial text which survives in the Master Atlas Addendum, where servants of the Unlife are still associated with Charôn, whereas there is now also a pantheon known as the Dark Lords of Charôn. The Dark Lords were the ones primarily responsible for the Wars of Dominion, whereas it was the servants of the Unlife who were in the books prior to 1990. This is the context for Kygar's theme of the two factions working together in the Wars of Dominion. Of special note is that in the Master Atlas Addendum the forces of Unlife are "imprisoned" on Charôn instead of banished off-world into "the Void."
2,000 SE - First appearance of servants of the Unlife. 6,450 - 6,825 SE - Wars of Dominion. Even the Lords of Orhan come to Kulthea to join in combat against the legions of the Unlife. After centuries of strife, the dark forces are destroyed or rendered ineffective, and the the Unlife is driven back into the Void. Unfortunately, there is no way to ensure that it cannot re-enter the World at some future time. Enchanted, immortal Guardians are set at the Gates of the Void. - Shadow World Master Atlas, 1st Edition (1989); page 9 - Tomes of Kulthea #1015 - Tomes of Kulthea #1016 "Even the Lords of Orhan descend to Kulthea to combat the legions of the Darkness. The Unlife is driven back and imprisoned on Charôn, all of its powerful servants destroyed. Many valiant Loremasters and Sages are killed, however. Unfortunately, there is no way to ensure that the Unlife cannot re-enter the world at some future time. Enchanted, immortal Guardians are set at the Portals." - Shadow World Master Atlas Addendum (1990); page 13 "The Masters of Emer are revealed in their full majesty as Titans and join the forces of the Light. Even the Lords of Orhan descend to Kulthea to combat the legions of Darkness. The Dark Gods are driven back and imprisoned on Charôn, their powerful servants destroyed. Many valiant Loremasters and Sages are killed, however. Enchanted, immortal Guardians are set at the Portals." - Shadow World Master Atlas, 2nd Edition (1992); page 131
"The Void" is discussed in more detail on Research:The Graveyard. The shift to replacing it with the word "Portals" is emphasizing the origins of the gates in the Lords of Essaence.
c. -15,000 - -10,000: Althan civilization begins to evolve into a unique combination of technology and 'magic' (the Essaence power). Society also polarizes, with the Essaence aepts (mostly the K'ta'viiri) becoming a privileged upper class. A number of Portals are constructed on Kulthea (and several on Charôn); these gateways allow direct access to a selected few of the parallel dimensions. Althan scientists master techniques for opening and closing such gateways, sometimes using artifacts such as powerful crystals. c. -14,500: First reappearance of the comet Sa'kain. It returns every 1500 years, though the proximity to Kulthea varies dramatically with each pass: sometimes brighter than Orhan in the night sky, sometimes all but invisible to the unaided eye. Its presence coincides with violent Flow-storms and serious disruption of the Portals. ... c. -250 - 0: ... Indeed, large areas of Kulthea are laid waste as the Uruths destroy the remaining K'ta'viiri, using channels of raw Essaence. The backlash from this power destroys or damages many of the ancient Portals, leaving them 'open' without control. Strange creatures and destructive demons of the Void begin to enter this universe through the broken Portals. ... c. 0: The final conflict of Utha and Kadaena takes place on Kulthea. Kadaena is beheaded by Utha himself, wielding a weapon known as the Soulsword. By a last effort of Utha, the Flows of Essence are altered to imprison the intruders: by placing the 'Eyes of Utha' at the poles, he prevents further influx of the strange and hideous creatures. While it was always believed that Utha caused the Flows to shift dividing the world into hemispheres, that was merely a side-effect of the crystals which he placed at the two poles of the planet. Their real effect was to insulate Kulthea from the radiations of the interdimensional rift, and thus inhibit Demonic incursions from the Void. ... A secret cabal is formed at this time; led by none other than Utha's son Daenku, it is made up of eight surviving rebels and calls itself the Ahrenreth (Ir. "Secret Circle"). Their mission is to ensure the safety of the Eyes of Utha and to continue to close errant Portals (or 'Shadowgates'). These Portals, though severely limited by the Eyes of Utha, still allow demonic beings limited access to Kulthea. - Shadow World Master Atlas Addendum (1990); page 10-11
The comet Sa'kain returns in 1900 Second Era, interacting with those same portals on Charôn. Thus, the Dark Gods arrive in this universe through the broken ancient Lord of Essaence portals on Charôn, which were opened and closed with powerful crystals. This is highly suggestive for the Broken Lands, where a shrine of Morgu uses Iruaric, which naively makes no sense as a severe anachronism.
1900: The Comet Sa'kain returns, passing very close to Kulthea. The Third Moon (Charôn) passes through the long, fiery tail of the comet, and the Essaence of the comet's tail interacts with the gates of the moon. New creatures and beings (they are eventually called the Dark Gods) are transported into the Kulthean universe - and a presence of unspeakable evil arrives on Charôn. c. 2000: First appearance of servants of the Unlife on Kulthea. c. 4000 - 6450: The Dark Gods begin systematically gathering evil creatures into a host of darkness. c. 6450: Another close passage of the comet provides the necessary energy to open the way for hordes of demonic servants. Volcanic eruptions, flow storms, and earth tremors rock the planet, destroying fortresses and cities. The Dark Forces are ready. - Shadow World Master Atlas Addendum (1990); page 12-13
"Imprisoned" in the Third Era must be interpreted loosely, though some were more literally imprisoned. The Dark Lords are able to travel to the world below for a matter of hours every 24 days when Charôn is closest to Kulthea (page 38), though "certain gods" (unspecified) can do so during the "Night of the Third Moon", which is instead a zenith event. This may be a retcon of the vestigial language about "servants of the Unlife" on that subject on page 37. The Dark Lords may also send themselves for 10 hours through very powerful Gates, or indefinitely through a ritual summoning with continual sacrifices. What it really means is probably that at the end of the Wars of Dominion, the Lords of Orhan set "Guardians" at the major portals, so that the Dark Gods would be unable to use them without tripping a kind of alarm.
The Emer (1990) book on page 8 does not necessarily say the Dark Gods first arrived in 1900 Second Era, but rather they gained "easy access" to the world because Charôn "acquires a special access to the negative planes" (i.e. Chaos planes), and later Shadow World books have them first arriving instead in 450 Second Era which causes the Lords of Orhan to reveal themselves. Later books also refer to the souls of their followers being sent through portals on Charôn to the Pales, but this was not established early enough to be relevant, though a similar concept might be involved with older text on the Void.
Empress Kadaena was the "Queen of Evil" who invented the gogor, which were re-named "vruul" after the I.C.E. Age in GemStone III. These were one of several examples of Kadaena making malevolent artificial constructs as servants. Gogor are essentially gargoyles made of flesh. They slumbered for thousands of years in urns of foul dark fluid until dark priests woke them up in the Second Era. There is a typographical error on page 37 of the Master Atlas Addendum that says "See Parts IV & V (Demons)" for minions lurking below Charôn, but Part V is actually the section containing Kadaena's constructs.
"Once the skies were blackened with thousands of these winged beasts, but that was in the First Era, when Kadaena ruled. It was thought that those few Gogor who survived the Conflict had perished over the stretch of time, but the world is not so fortunate. Guided by hints millennia old, the dark priests searched deep in lost caverns and the ruins of ancient citadels. They found crypts, and within them row upon row of stone jars, seven feet tall, their lids sealed. Sleeping within each, submerged in a foul but nutritive fluid, was an unspeakable beast-servant of the Queen of Evil, waiting through the long years until needed again. Some did not survive the eternity of suspension, but many darken the skies of Kulthea again." - Shadow World Master Atlas (1990), Part V; page 34
Gogor are "black as midnight" with tough hides and leathery wings. They have green glowing eyes allowing them to see in complete darkness, powerful claws, and have an extremely good sense of smell. It is not included in their GemStone creature description, but they have long poisonous prehensile tails. This is depicted on the statue in the Dark Shrine, though oddly those gogor have blood red eyes.
>look relief The image is that of a dark beast with leathery wings and blood red claws. The inscription below the image is in a strange language, and reads "Marlu lyxatis kort. Thro dyar K'mur." [Lo thal ta shin.] You feel a tingling sensation run through your body and suddenly you see... [Dark Shrine, Chapel] Here, surrounded by dark frescoes presenting frightening images of terror, foul beasts and macabre rituals, confronted by the huge, ghastly statue that dominates the center of the chamber, the sense of evil is a palpable force that threatens to smother and consume all that it can. Obvious exits: northeast, northwest. >look statue The statue is large, over twelve feet tall. The central figure is a huge, hideous beast with black skin, leathery wings and large red claws. It stands atop a pile of skulls, surrounded by three smaller figures, with pointed tails, blood red eyes, and small, leathery wings.
The Dark Spirit Morgu (Modern: Marlu) looked exactly like an enormous gogor, and collected them as his favored pets, but the reason why is never explained in the source books. The invoking elements for the gateway in his shrine being Iruaric are strongly implying an ancient relationship with the Lords of Essaence. "Thro dyar K'mur" in particular is implying he was made to guard Empress Kadaena.
"Fire-demons are associated with destruction and typically serve the forces of terror. The mightiest of these creatures, the Flamesouls, are corrupted demigods in the service, whose avarice and hunger for hegemony led to their fall from grace. These vile, vengeful Demons serve Kadæna, although most were imprisoned on other planes at the end of the Wars of Dominion, or were utterly destroyed. The few survivors retreated into the depths of the underworld in order to survive until they could regain strength and exploit new opportunities. They repose like a dormant curse upon the world." - Shadow World Master Atlas: Inhabitants Guide (1989), page 34 "Fire-demons are associated with destruction and typically are summoned by the forces of evil. Their power comes from the depths of the earth and the energy of the sun; they love the day and fiery caverns. Driven by avarice for power and death, they are among the most fearsome of demons. The favored guardsmen of Kadaena, most were banished forever in the Final Conflict. But some were actually imprisoned within deep caverns, unable to return to their planes and yet unslain. They await the unwary who might free them and find death as a reward." - Shadow World Master Atlas Addendum (1990), page 18 "The citadel of Ahrenraax (Ir. the "Secret Claw") was located in the cool waters southwest of Emer. Stewardship of this volcanic island fortress was given to the Lord Ordainer Morloch (once known as Shuraax the Fire Claw, bodyguard of Kadaena)." - Emer: The Great Continent (1990); page 63
This has some precedence in other books, such as the Inhabitants Guide (1989), where she has fire demons as bodyguards. In the Emer (1990) book she had an Ordainer bodyguard. It might also pertain to the vestigial text about her followers having fashioned the first of the Great Demons, which is a holdover from older I.C.E. source books where the demonic were created artificially by the Lords of Essence.
"The coming of the Unlife, a vast power which feeds upon destruction, brought to light (and to darkness!) cults and orders dedicated to evil; Great Demons were fashioned by the most powerful of the Lords who had fallen under the influence of the Unlife, led by the Empress Kadæna. Wise but twisted in spirit, the servants of the Shadow offered knowledge beyond that which the Loremasters deigned to give such "lesser beings," and the power of the Unlife grew unfettered in the Second Era. The 300-year-long Wars of Dominion concluded the Second Era." - Demons of the Burning Night (1989); page 3 "Theories regarding the origins and creation of Demons are plentiful and contradictory, but the most commonly accepted explanation is that they were created by the Lords of Essence out of that force itself, and they exist on some other plane, waiting to be called forth. Now, most serve the Unlife. Whether Demons are intrinsically evil in nature or not is another matter open to speculation, and it is doubtful that the answer is soon forthcoming, since few users of Essence who are not already servants of the Unlife are willing to risk summoning one of these terrors." - Cloudlords of Tanara (1984); page 8
These excerpts are particularly important because the story of the Broken Lands is that Uthex Kathiasas discovered what he believed was a new source of power, and he was trying to give "physical form" to that power. In other words, the story very strongly implies that Uthex was attempting to forge entities out of the essence, and his work was corrupted under the subtle influence of forces of the Unlife. The Dark Shrine raises the question of whether the Dark Lords originated in Lord of Essaence experiments in the First Era, and were merely banished in the Final Conflict rather than first arriving in 1900 Second Era.
From the Book of Dark Tales... "Once She whispered and life was death Gogur arose, his wide wings spread Talons to tear and fangs to feed The skies were darkened with dread." Andraax SE 1782 - Shadow World Master Atlas Addendum, Part V (1990); page 31 Morgu, Cruel Master. Guard the Dark Queen. Spirit born of death. - The Temple of Darkness Poem (1994)
"Lyxatis" is most likely a glottalization of "lyx arulis", meaning "dread seer", so figuratively "Morgu lyxatis kort" means: "Morgu, gogor master." It seems highly likely that the use of "lyx", meaning "dread", is playing off the poem at the beginning of the constructs section. "Spirit born of death" would be playing off "life was death" in the lines where Empress Kadaena is implied to have made a high leader of the gogor. "Gogur" in turn is conspicuously similar to "Morgu." "Thro dyar K'mur" literally means "Guard dark Lady", which is "Dark Queen" in the poem. There is no Queen of the Dark Gods in Shadow World.
"Once Sentinels guarded all of the Dark Queen's palaces and holds, their inimical gaze unwavering as they scrutinized every being who passe their gates. Many were destroyed in the great conflict which ended the First Era, but some survived and now guard other portals to dark fortresses. These constructs are not unlike golems in some ways, fashioned out of stone or other adamantine substance, but they are more intelligent, an even possess a perverse arrogance to match their formidable powers of guardianship. For the Sentinels were designed to do one thing only: guard the entries to Kadaena's holds." - Shadow World Master Atlas Addendum, Part V (1990); page 33 (Note: This is the page and entry immediately before the Gogor section.)
Though the term "dyar K'mur" could be interpreted as "Dark Lord (of Charôn who is a woman)", which would most likely imply guarding Orgiana, it would not explain the translation of "Dark Queen" in the Temple of Darkness poem. In contrast the phrase "Dark Queen" is used for Kadaena's sentinels who guard her palaces. Unless Kadaena in death became a Dark Lord, perhaps Orgiana herself. It is worth noting that another of her constructs are called Kaeden, organized around "queens", where Kadaena herself was "high queen." Kadaena itself could arguably be translated as Iruaric for Empress.
The Dark Lords of Charôn are not really a "pantheon", they are an uneasy alliance of rivals. They were first introduced in the 1990 books as the most singularly powerful of the forces of darkness, and Unlife adjacent without actually being immediate "servants of the Unlife." The Unlife is the most corrupted degree of the Essaence, which is called Anti-Essaence, inherently contradictory to the rest of Existence. The Dark Lords are manifestations of the chaotic aspects of the Anti-Essaence, similar to how the Lords of Orhan are manifestations of the Essaence. Avatars of deities are power given physical form.
"Individually, the Dark Gods are the most intrinsically powerful of the 'evil' factions. They are not driven by one will like the Unlife, and they are not fully independent like the Dragonlords. These masters of dark power are not even life in the biological sense, but energy beings: manifestations of the chaotic power of the Anti-Essaence. Most are less than complete personalities, driven by specific needs and goals. As a result, they seem two-dimensional and are often predictable in their reactions. Vindictive, violent and wantonly destructive, their methods are most often the antithesis of the artful minions of the pure Unlife." - Shadow World Master Atlas Addendum (1990); page 7 (Note: Master Atlas, 2nd Edition (1992), changes "chaotic power of the Anti-Essaence" to "chaotic aspects of the Anti-Essaence". Research:The Graveyard details the edition changes on matters of the Unlife and demonic categories.)
The Shadow World Master Atlas Addendum (1990) further specifies that the Dark Gods originated in the Chaos planes, where the Unlife is the furthest ultimate extreme of it. However, this book also states the Dark Gods are "related" to the Demons of the Pale, which are entities of the Void. This language is retained in the Master Atlas, 2nd Edition (1992). Both imply relation to the "fallen demigod" Great Demons.
"So named because they stand for the opposite of order and Existence, the Unlife itself originates in the heart of Chaos. The Dark Gods entered the Kulthean universe from the Chaos Planes, though they are not the pure antithesis of existence that the Unlife is. ... Demons of the Essaence originate in the Chaos Planes, their form becoming more discordant the further their origins within Chaos." - Shadow World Master Atlas Addendum (1990); page 7 "These are the more familiar and lesser demons known as Outsiders. 'Outsider' is a general classification referring to all demons of the 'Planar' or 'Inner' Void. Demons of the Pale are categorized according to their home plane. Of those within the Pale, First Pale Demons are the weakest; Demons of the Sixth Pale are the strongest. These demons are related to the Dark Gods of Charôn, and serve those evil masters (when summoned from their homes in the Planes)." - Shadow World Master Atlas Addendum (1990); page 23
This is important given the premise of the Uthex Kathiasas story of giving physical form to his new source of power, which plays off the text for how Evil spells are perceived. If the crystal dome in the Broken Lands is able to fashion entities from pure energy, which is implied to be a Lord of Essaence artifact, and the Lords of Essaence fashioned "Great Demons", it stands to reason that the Dark Gods who are related to demons might have originated in the same way. This allows the idea of Morgu guarding Empress Kadaena to make sense, as the Dark Spirits are created by the Dark Lords as servants.
"4. Immortality: Unlike the greater deities, the Dark Spirits are not exactly immortal, as they are really little more than manifestations of their master's will. The destruction of their chosen mortal form (as indicated by a killing critical or other catastrophe) results in the body (though not personal items - those are left in a heap) vanishing in a ball of fire or other showy end. The 'soul' of the Dark Spirit flees to Charôn if his master wills it - and he has the energy; many Spirits are unable to make the trip and are dispersed forever. If he makes it, he will either be permitted to reform, or the angry God may dissolve him anyway." - Shadow World Master Atlas Addendum (1990); page 45
In later Shadow World books it is explicitly postulated that the Dark Gods may have originated as Lord of Essaence experiments with creating non-corporeal life, but the earliest available reference to that seems to be "Emer Atlas I: Haestra" in 1997. The Dark Grotto and Dark Shrine were introduced in GemStone III no later than early 1994. It is worth mentioning later sources because material first appearing in books of a given copyright date might have been available in some other form at earlier dates. "Haalkitaine" (1998) is the earliest available reference to 6521 Second Era being the year Lorgalis conquered Saralis with the Ordainer Kharuugh. It is one of the only specific dates mentioned for the Wars of Dominion, and it is the same year Uthex Kathiasas was killed immediately next door in the Broken Lands.
Second Era "450: First Loremaster-recorded appearance of the comet Sa’kain, a burning mass that hangs in the Kulthean sky for weeks. As it passes near the planet, it disrupts the function of the Eyes of Utha, and opens a door into a multitude of universes—including the Void. The comet returns every 1500 years. Soon after this event the Dark Gods begin to appear on Kulthea. To counter this, the Lords of Orhan create manifestations of themselves and accept followings. The origins of the Dark Gods remain unclear, though some suspect they are actually former Lords of Orhan who turned from the benign ways of their brethren. Others hold that they are early manifestations of the Unlife, or even ‘failed’ experiments by the Althans to create non-corporeal life. Perhaps only Andraax knows the truth." - Emer Atlas I: Haestra (1997); page 18 - Haalkitaine (1998); page 17 (Note: By Shadow World Master Atlas, 3rd Edition (2001), page 166, this adds a possibility of having escaped an "inter-dimensional prison.")
These happen to be the same possibilities that are likely for GemStone III. The story for the Graveyard was most likely written in a context where the Dark Lords were not defined yet, so Empress Kadaena is treated as a Lord of Orhan who was the first of them to follow the Unlife. The idea that the "Althan" scientists were attempting to forge non-corporeal life, which is to say energy beings, is consistent with the overt premise of Uthex's work and earlier Shadow World books where the Lords of Essaence artificially made demons. The demons of the Black Hel were also made as servants by those dark gods.
Iruaric is the (mostly) dead language of the Lords of Essaence, and the ancestor of most languages in the Shadow World setting. It is only understood by relatively few, though in much later books its word-parts overlap with Iylari and Kugor. The language is partly telepathic, so most races cannot speak it properly. It was first mentioned in the Shadow World Master Atlas, 1st Edition (1989), where some word parts are defined through place names. The first Iruaric glossary is in the Shadow World Master Atlas Addendum (1990), page 94, which is the one the GemStone III specific version modified.
"There are fourteen areas which might classify as true continents or continental groupings on Western Kulthea . . . These names are the ancient Lords of Essence titles (like those of the moons), and in many cases the inhabitants are unaware of the original name of their continent." "The seas of the western hemisphere were named by the Lords of Essence as follows . . . Interestingly, though the original Iruaric names have been lost to nearly all but Loremasters, the ocean names in local tongues correspond in translation in almost every case." - Shadow World Master Atlas, 1st Edition (1989); pages 10 and 14 "Iruaric: The language of the Lords of Essence. In its 'true' form, it was partially telepathic and powerful. It can be learned in a relatively innocuous form by other races. It is related to the Primal Essaence; the extent of its true power can only be guessed at." - Shadow World Master Atlas Addendum (1990); page 93
It was also defined in the Inhabitants Guide (1989), which specified the common origin of all humanoid races, along with the recurring premise that the Lords of Essence altered life into novel forms. This is a relevant theme as Kadaena herself was the creator of many monsters. These races are also often named in Iruaric. This is important because several of the Broken Lands creatures had Iruaric names.
"In some tales they are referred to as the K'ta'viiri - which means literally 'Lords of Essence' in the Iruaric tongue (K = lord, viir = essence or power, i = plural). These beings were of the original race of Kulthea, but whether they were actually native to this world is a question yet unanswered. The whole of this race was known as the Altha, a curious word which has no meaning in Iruaric or any other Kulthean language. It is important to make the distinction between the Althan peoples and the K'ta'viiri, as only the latter people became Lords of Essence. The Althans constitute all of the original humanoid inhabitants of the Shadow World during the First Era. They formed the 'raw material' if you will for the myriad races to follow, whether they evolved naturally through the course of time and the mutating effects of the Flows, or were the result of direct manipulation through K'ta'viir experimentation." - Shadow World Master Atlas: Inhabitants Guide (1989); page 44
The most important thing to understand about the use of Iruaric in the Broken Lands is that it is highly anachronistic. The Lords of Essaence were destroyed, and Empress Kadaena decapitated, in a civil war over 100,000 years before the Dark Gods arrived on Charôn. The modified Iruaric glossary made by Kygar is almost identical, except it has several paragraphs of background lore added to it. Kygar has early Iruaric being glyphical or hieroglyphic, rather than "phonetic", by which he really means alphabets. This would imply that the wording on the Dark Shrine entrance should have been written in the Second Era. That is assuming "modern day languages" frames the word "modern" for modern Iruaric, which could be interpreted very differently, referring instead to the end of the First Era. This requires speculation.
Hieroglyphics were actually "phonetic" after all and were deciphered as a result in the 19th century. What Kygar seems to be saying is that these glyphs are like ideograms, and that slight differences in the symbol conveyed many aspects of meaning, and that these variants could have very different pronunciations. In a phonetic script like our alphabet they would be rendered quite differently, because that would be encoding the way it sounds, rather than the visual similarity of the original glyphs with their common family of meaning. "Translating" ancient Iruaric into "modern" Iruaric could refer to language drift, or the incompleteness other races have with it. But Kygar seems to be speaking of converting the written forms, which is really "transliteration", not translating as if between modern English and Old English.
A Glossary of Iruaric Terms The following is a brief glossary of words and word-parts in the ancient language of the Lords of Essaence. As with nearly all languages, Iruaric is not entirely consistent and is at times contradictory. Translation of ancient Iruaric to modern day languages is difficult at best. Even translations from ancient Iruaric to modern forms of that same language will, at time, fail to represent the original ideas accurately. This is due mainly to the glyphical, or hieroglyphical form that early written Iruaric took. Often, similar symbols would represent many aspects of the same idea or word, with only minor changes in the glyph that differentiated the meanings. Often, however, these similar written forms had widely varying pronunciations. The use of phonetic representations of Iruaric as a written form are a fairly recent development, historically, and again vary widely from one culture to the next. The following list of terms is not meant to be a comprehensive dictionary of the Iruaric language. Indeed, such a work would fill many volumes of text. Instead, this list of terms represents many of the most commonly used Iruaric terms and word-parts that were employed in naming places, people and things. The representations of Iruaric terms are phonetic, and are not indicative of the language syntax. The incorporation of "is," "er" or "aer" into a verb typically converts that verb to indicate "one who does" that action instead. For example, the verb sing is "lina," singer is formed by adding "aer" to the verb. The addition of these modifiers may be as a prefix or suffix, but in most cases they are added as a suffix. Most plural forms are achieved by adding "i". In many cases, "ri" is added to make a term plural, but the form "ri" typically signifies a very large quantity or an increase, and most often signifies a total plurality such as when referring to a whole group of things. For example, the High Elves are known as "Ilyari," a pluralization of the term "Ilar." When referring to a particular chain of mountains, the term typically used would be "thosi," but when referring to all of the mountains of the world, or to mountains in general, the term typically used would be "thosri." The term "ta" is used to indicate a relationship or correlation. For example, a place that is the home to a race of giants might be referred to as "man'ta hori," home of giants. most ancient forms of the language, before the glottal stops employed in the early forms developed fully into vowels. In some later forms of the language, apostrophes are used to indicate two or more word-parts that have been incorporated into a single glyph. (Note: Italics are relatively unaltered Shadow World text, bold is Kygar original text. The truncation of the last paragraph is in all available copies, and this is very unfortunate, because that paragraph is probably very important for interpreting the intent.)
However, Kygar has the most ancient forms of the language being glottalized, meaning sounds were dropped compared to later forms. If the sound for "t" were a glottal stop, for instance, "butter" would be pronounced "buh'er." This is important because the Iruaric used in the Broken Lands drops "phonetic" letters from its words (e.g. "thro" instead of "throk"). This is implying the words or phrases originated in a First Era native speaker. The premise that apostrophe forms are indicative of later Iruaric is a retcon specific to GemStone III, in Shadow World canon the later forms instead smoothed words together.
The idea that the early spoken Iruaric had widely varying pronunciations, and that many meanings were in similar symbols that are lost in transliteration, amounts to the Iruaric in the Broken Lands having to be interpreted creatively. While "lyx" is a word part, for instance, "atis" is not. The sound "ul" is dropped in the "lug'shuk traglaakh", however, and this allows "atis" to be read as a variant pronunciation of "arulis." It is still dangerous to interpret missing letters this way, since the paragraph is truncated. It might instead reflect the Second Era phonetic system variation, and "atis" or "shuk" may involve undefined rules. But the inclusion of the premise of "translating" ancient Iruaric into "modern" Iruaric being difficult is probably framing the Dark Shrine as a case of ancient Iruaric re-expressed imprecisely into its modern form.
(1) Dark Shrine Inscription
The Dark Shrine inscription is the most conceptually important part of the Broken Lands, and interestingly was never De-ICE'd, while the creature names of the Broken Lands were stripped of their Iruaric and so was the analogous voice command puzzle in the Graveyard. "Lyxatis" is translated as "Cruel" in the Temple of Darkness poem. The possibility of "atis" encoding "arulis" through glottal stops and variant pronunciation is given earlier. Another way of parsing it is to interpret "lyxat" separately from "is", and treat that as the "-is" suffix meaning "place (noun)." The term "at" may be a letter swap for "ta", meaning "of" (similar to how Kygar modifies his made up "Ilar" for Ilyari verus Iylari), or a variant pronunciation of "az" for "dwell" or "home." It might even encode multiple meanings, like how "dyar K'mur" might.
Lyxatis could then mean something to the effect of Morgu whom in dread dwells or the personification of dread. This might be supported with the palpable, smothering feeling of evil in his shrine, which appears to be his dwelling. If this "dread" were instead taken as a verb, the "-is" modifier on verbs gives the meaning "one who does that action". This could mean Morgu he who is the act of dread. This might be translated as "cruel", as in the Temple of Darkness poem, but might also refer to the gogor "darkening the skies with dread" as in the Andraax poem. It is impossible to know the intent for certain.
The minions that Uthex made were named in Iruaric, except for the giant fog beetles. It is dubious that he named them. It might be their ancient Iruaric names to the crystal which presumably makes them.
- Kiskaa raax: The myklian were called "kiskaa raax", which is Iruaric for "cold/chilling claw." This is a clean translation with nothing to parse or guess. It simply refers to their cold flaring property.
- Dyar rakul: The dark vorteces were called "dyar rakul", where "rakul" must stem from a composite glyph. "Rakul" is most likely a double meaning. Morphing together "rak" and "kul" makes dyar rakul mean "dark cold shadow", referring to their coldness and appearing as a mass of shadows. "Rakul" may also be parsed as "ra kul" meaning "power shadow", which refers to their ability to drain power ("mana" in modern terms) from their victims. These might be based on the Nycorac and Blacar, as explained elsewhere, but could also be darkness elementals (like dark wisplings, now called dark vysans.)
- Lug'shuk Traglaakh: The magru were called "lug'shuk traglaakh", which is a complicated mixing of words. "Shuk" is not a word. "Shu" means "fire" or "flame", "shulu" means "wet", and "hulk" could be read as a contracted "hulkanen" for "barren" or "empty." "Laakh" is an unusual case because Kygar's modified glossary has it meaning both "lost" and "maker", whereas the canon glossary has "lavan" being the word for maker. These are right next to each other in the glossary and must be intentional. "Trag" is presumably a variant pronunciation or orthography for "trog" meaning "cave", but as will be explained elsewhere might also refer to cave dwelling extraplanar entities called Traag. The overall meaning is something to the effect of "ugly fiery-wet emptying cave makers/losers", because they are highly caustic and burn their way through the rocks. If the magru were supposed to be extraplanar entities called Absorbers, they reproduce by devouring flesh. This would explain their deep bone pit.
The modified glossary is missing the words for "pillar" and "god", where the Pillar of the Gods is related to the origins of the Lords of Orhan, but this is most likely coincidental. While the Pillar of the Gods is defined in Iruaric as Luor'ka'tai in the first edition of Master Atlas (1989), page 11, "luor" and "tai" were only added to the Iruaric glossary in the second edition of Master Atlas (1992). The term "Luor'ka'tai" was likewise omitted in the Master Atlas Addendum (1990) section for the Pillar of the Gods on page 73. Consequently the omission of those word from our modified glossary is probably meaningless. The Pillar is in legend the source of the Shadowstone, see page 57, which in theory would have absorbed Kadaena's soul when she was killed. This is a question mark for any Kadaena as goddess interpretation.
While the Lords of Essaence were responsible for mutating life forms however it suited them, such as the various hybrid races and those with Iruaric names, Empress Kadaena herself was responsible for warped travesties of life and dark races. This is in addition to the malevolent constructs she made in the futile attempt to fashion artificial life that reproduced itself. It is this (and perhaps the vestigial 1989 text regarding her surviving followers fashioning Great Demons) that gives context to a First Era artifact in the Broken Lands through which Uthex Kathiasas is making minions out of the essence itself.
"-10,000 - -6,000: Also, many peoples and creatures from other planets are brought to Kulthea and experimented with. Masters of genetics, the Lords of Essaence alter plants, animals, and races to suit their whim. These unusual races include the Krylites, the Saurkur, and the Kuluku." - Shadow World Master Atlas Addendum (1990); page 10 "Racial Origins: Unknown. Krylites may have been another of Kadaena's experiments, though they are able to reproduce themselves (unlike her constructs). They may be a perversion of a natural race, though they are a bizarre fusion of humanoid and insectile attributes. It is quite possible that their origins are extraterrestrial." "GM Note: Krylites - like the Lords of Essaence technology discussed in the Atlas Addendum book - are somewhat of a divergence from standard fantasy fare. While they differ radically from other races on Kulthea, they are just one example of the strange extraterrestrials who might have been imported by the K'ta'viiri in the First Era." - Emer: The Great Continent (1990); page 44 (Note: Contrast the krylites with Kaeden, who are organized around "queens", where Kadaena herself is "high queen.")
By implication the lugroki (orcs) and trogli originated in the Lords of Essaence in the First Era as dark races. Lugrôki is Iruaric for "ugly stupids", and trogli might be translated as "cave growths". In later books the orcs originated in Kadaena and her lieutenants interbreeding men and elves with demons of the Pales (e.g. Master Atlas, 3rd Ed. (2001); page 123), but in early books the Tolkienesque is only left cryptic, saying their origins are very different from goblins in legend. Trolls were also slaves of the Lords of Essaence, but this detail is relatively buried. Murlogi (goblins) are presumed to have originated similarly.
"The strange creations of the Lords of Essaence survived: Lugrôki, Trogli and Krylites, all capable of living underground - the only haven in a tortured world." (Interregnum) - Emer: The Great Continent (1990); page 7 "Racial Origins: The [Charn] Raiders are humanoid, but with grotesque faces and clawed hands. Some Loremaster research indicated that they are related to Lugrôki, bred by the K'ta'viir instead to survive the bright sun of the wastes, to serve some long-lost purpose. . . . Worship: The Raiders worship Morgu, a Dark Spirit of Charôn." - Emer: The Great Continent (1990); page 39 "Racial Origins: While vaguely humanoid in appearance, the Murlogi have several important differences from men (see racial description, Part III). They are likely an other mutation experiment by the Lords of Essaence from the First Era." - Emer: The Great Continent (1990); page 41 "Racial Origins: Trolls originated as slaves of the Lords of Essence, adapted for strength and endurance. They were brought to the area of Quellbourne by the Sorcerer Zenon during his overthrow of the Wizard's Council. They have since settled in the high country around Claedesbrim Bay." - Quellbourne: Land of the Silver Mist (1989); page 10
The corruption of "dark essence" or the Unlife is the context for how the servants of the Unlife were able twist the works of Uthex into more perilous forms. His sense of having discovered a new source of power is probably playing off the Master Atlas section on how spell users experience evil spell lists. This power is of a fundamentally different source, and cannot be used without corrupting the wielder.
"Children of the Moss: The Locharion are another sinister group of stalkers. Born of Dark Essence, they are mutated, sinewy creatures with the face of crying children. Locharrion move in large groups under the heavy moss of the Wyr Forest and attack by surprise, dragging their victim under the moss to suffocate him. These bandy-legged monsters have three long fingers on each limb and crawl in a low crouch under the moss. Their faces are an illusion created by Kadaena to elicit sympathy from potential victims." - Demons of the Burning Night (1990); page 9
This is sufficient for making the point that Kadaena herself made warped travesties of life, and perverted the living with dark essence or "the Unlife" as such. In the story of Uthex Kathiasas the "forces of the Unlife" were able to use subtle influence to twist Uthex down the path of their madness. Since this dark magic is of an entirely different nature, even a Loremaster would not necessarily realize the mistake they were making. Uthex may have instead conceived of it in terms of the ancient knowledge of the Lord of Essaence. But the most powerful manifestations of "anti-essence" are demons and the Dark Gods.
"In the year 6521 of the Second Era, during the early years of the Wars of Dominion, Loremaster Uthex Kathiasas was among the greatest researchers and theorists of the time. His research into what he called "a new source of power" was soon twisted and perverted into perilous forms by the subtle influence of the forces of the Unlife. Uthex Kathiasas had used his powerful influence to gain control over a small and remote natural gate leading to another plane of existence. It was in that place that the Loremaster conducted secret experiments designed to provide his new power with physical form that could serve the needs of the Loremasters in their struggle against the Unlife." - The Broken Land (1993) "There are a number of spell lists - and even entire professions - in Spell Law and the Rolemaster Companions (e.g., Sorcerer, Warlock, etc.) which some might consider to be 'evil' because of the nature of the spell lists. However, while it is possible for an 'evil' spell user to have access to these professions (or any other, for that matter), they are not by their nature 'evil' in the absolute sense. Some cultures may find them objectionable, yet they are not evil for system purposes. Most users of the Essence will not even be aware of the nature of the Evil lists, much less how to use them. Every so often, however, an ambitious apprentice may gain access to books or a tutor of uncertain motives. In the process of learning an Evil list, there should be no question that the spell caster is turning to a new power source for his energies: the Unlife. Once the first spell is cast, he starts down a Dark Path. It may take years, but eventually he will reach the end: submission to utter and complete Evil." - Shadow World Master Atlas, 1st Edition (1989); page 33 (Note: Dark Path is capitalized in the 1st & 2nd editions of the Master Atlas. It is lower case in later versions. This is the name given to Bandur Etrevion's theocracy of Kadaena, which was contemporaneous with Uthex Kathiasas in the adjacent lands.)
There is a reasonable case to be made, which will be done below, that the Iruaric named creatures are really some of the non-demonic other extraplanar entities from Creatures & Monsters II (1989). These include the Dictics (giant fog beetles), Nycorac and Blacar (dark vorteces), and Absorbers (magru). In this same vein the crystal forest would be Crystyls and the boiling sea of mud would be Hoard, though these were probably part of the crystal dome's transplanar mechanism. Traag may be implicitly relevant. Research:The Graveyard addresses the concept of "souls" of this world and others, and demons which originated as souls of this world. Twisting his works from this basis is straight forward, moving towards the demonic and even Dark Gods. Interestingly the "hooded figures" are also "perverted beings."
Curse of Kabis
The "Curse of Kabis" (1995) is an I.C.E. module considered non-canonical by Terry Amthor, the primary author of the Shadow World source books. It involves an extremely powerful manifestation of the Unlife named Kabis who was imprisoned (p.3-4), along with other servants of the Unlife, within Charôn in a "prison plane" at the end of the Wars of Dominion by the Lords of Orhan. It retcons much of the meaning of the parts of the books that concern us. While it should be too late to matter to the Broken Lands, it is important to mention it, because if it did it elaborates Empress Kadaena working on Charôn itself.
In this book the Empress Kadaena was manipulating life and making warped monsters underground in a secret laboratory. Kadaena made an artificial demi-plane that was coexistent with Charôn, a parallel Charôn in the same space and time but a different planar state, with gravity similar to Kulthea from rotating. It was formed as a hollow shell of rock from tons of material gutted from within Charôn. This is what led to the civil war which ended with her death. Over the millennia various extraplanar entities were trapped within it, and became a prison when the Lords of Orhan sealed the gate to it on Charôn.
"Kadaena's workers managed to produce a twin discorporeal Charon that coexists in the same time-space but in a different planar state. It is a forced bubble of temporal reality and law upon the lowest ethereal medium, but separated from it by a tangible, 300-mile-diameter, luminescent energy sphere. The material pulled into the new plane was splattered across the interior surface, a micro-world turned outside-in. A dim solitary point of light hangs in the center of this altered, divergent or parallel Charon, a calculated side effect of the machines that enabled the entire plan. Only one entrance exists to the plane from the physical Charon; this gate is powered by a single device that is heavily shielded and withstood the dimensional blast 112 millennia ago. According to plan, the semi-ethereal world uses the gate not only as a planar anchor but also as a polar axis. Through this gate, Kadaena's sages introduced more air, water, dirt, and rocks into the experimental plane. Plants, creatures, and other life-forms were brought in and tampered with. Kadaena's true goal was then quickly attempted before the outbreak of war." - Curse of Kabis (1995); page 23 (Note: The "true goal" was to unify essaence and machine into an intelligent inter-dimensional entity called the Shadow Hold. The plane was made to have an impenetrable laboratory closer in nature to the Essaence realm.)
This is probably not relevant to the Broken Lands because of the 1995 copyright date and the whole concept having first been worked out as early as 1992. However, it would provide a very different way of interpreting the Broken Lands, which might actually fit it remarkably well. It would be one way of resolving the paradox, for example, of seemingly being both Charôn and "another plane of existence". It would explain why the Dark Gods are not present, but servants of Unlife are, and First Era gogor. It would also make a literal interpretation of "the broken land", though a cave in below Charôn would as well.
The Black Hel is an Outer Plane where a pantheon of Dark Gods is imprisoned, as they were banished by the Lords of Orhan during the Wars of Dominion. They are ruled by the dark goddess Orgiana (Modern: Eorgina), who unlike in the modern world setting of Elanthia, is not the "Queen" or "leader" of the Dark Gods. While there is some contradictory text about Orgiana having escaped to Charôn, she was actually banished with her surviving servants in the Black Hel. These would implicitly be other Dark Lords, but Demons of the Burning Night (1989) pre-dates the Dark Lords of Charôn concept.
In other words, Orgiana is not even present in the Third Era, having only been involved in the Second Era. The author of Shadow World included her in the Dark Lords of Charôn as a retcon of the earlier book. In the Shadow World Master Atlas Addendum (1990), page 9, it is implied that the Lords of Orhan did not intervene in the Wars of Dominion until near the very end. This is all problematic for our purposes.
The theocracy of the Black Hel was ruled in the Second Era by V'rama Vair, the surviving mortal daughter of Empress Kadaena. The symbol of Orgiana in her theocracy was an image of a powerful artifact known as the Helm of Kadaena, which retains part of Kadaena's consciousness. In terms of only the 1989 books one could plausibly assume Kadaena was wearing it when she was decapitated. There is no explanation for why Orgiana helped V'rama Vair or what relationship Kadaena herself might have had with the Black Hel. Research:The Graveyard explores the issue of conflations of Orgiana and Kadaena.
Orgiana, Mother of Darkness Repose in silent waiting, With revanche to come. - Temple of Darkness Poem (1994) C. Crypt of Kadæna (V'rama's Mother). A curse is written in Low Nureti across the top of this crypt's entryway. It reads: "Who disturbeth the sleeping queen Thy luck lose, they skills fail And join thy tormentor in the Black Hel!" - Demons of the Burning Night (1989); page 46 (Fake sarcophagus of Kadaena where the Helm of Kadaena was once stored. Next to the portal to Black Hel where Orgiana imprisons you.) An inscription is marked in white letters on the face of the Heartstone. It is written in Black Nureti and reads: "By coward Utha cruelly slain She sleeps, who spurns death And awaits the hero shining-clad..." - Demons of the Burning Night (1989); page 42 (Where the Helm of Kadaena is actually kept, in the Temple of Burning Night below the idol of Orgiana.) (Note: These are the same excerpts that Research:The Graveyard argues might have been used for the crypt in the Graveyard.)
There is no guarantee that Kygar was even looking at Demons of the Burning Night (1989), but it is conceivable it is relevant, especially if it was used in the crypt of the Graveyard and if there was a spin-off or continuity intent with that story. Bonespear Tower is a memorial for Kygar. It is haunted by an I.C.E. Ordainer demon named Maleskari, who Bonespear intended on trapping within a sword. This is highly likely to be playing off the dark saw-toothed scimitar that was sold at auction, which had a slayer demon of the Black Hel embedded within it who spoke to the wielder of acquiring souls together for Maleskari.
Orgiana has the title "Mistress of the Dark" or "Goddess of Darkness". In Iruaric this would be plausibly given by the phrase "dyar K'mur", which literally means "dark Lord-female", where word-part order is not indicative of the grammar. It is possible the Dark Shrine is saying that Morgu was "born" to be the guard of the "mother" Orgiana, and when rendered in Iruaric, this is conflating Orgiana with the Dark Queen, Empress Kadaena. Aside from their similarities and cryptic relationships, Dark Spirits are manifestations of the will of Dark Lords, so it makes no sense for Morgu to be guarding Empress Kadaena. Meanwhile the Legend of the Necropolis of Etrevion (1990) speaks of Kadaena as if she were the leader of a faction of the Lords of Orhan who turned to the Unlife and frames her as a rival death goddess to Eissa.
Temple of Darkness
The Temple of Darkness Poem includes the Dark Lords of Charôn, but refers to conditions that did not exist until after the Wars of Dominion. This is implied more directly by being from "the ruins" of the "Temple of Darkness." The way several of the Dark Gods are depicted is unusual. One of these is Orgiana possibly described as if she were dead, and indeed the Black Hel deities are called "the dead gods" of Aranmor, emphasizing her waiting for revenge which is actually stated in Demons of the Burning Night (1989). What is more strange is calling her "Mother" of Darkness, given her hatred of males.
Her description in Master Atlas Addendum (1990) says "she alone escaped back to Charôn", implying these "Dark Godlings" of the Black Hel were of Charôn, but this is contradicted by Demons of the Burning Night (1989) where this is only a rumor and she is actually in the Black Hel. Later books confirmed she was actually banished in spite of retaining that escape wording. It does contain the line "rebuilding her power, and prepares for the day when she will return to the Shadow World." But silent repose is not her demeanor. Only Demons of the Burning Night (1989) states she is the ruler of the Black Hel gods.
Orgiana, Mother of Darkness Repose in silent waiting, With revanche to come. - Temple of Darkness Poem (1994) [Dark Shrine, Burial Vault] Dark skeletal figures lie in silent repose, stacked one upon the other in tiers of niches carved out of the stone walls. Their musty odor assails your senses, and adds to the oppressiveness of the chamber. A low stone slab occupies the center of the chamber, like a raised dais, but there is nothing on it except for a thick layer of dust. You also see a large bronze door. Obvious exits: none. (Note: "Silent repose" is used in the Dark Shrine itself to mean death, rather than sleeping or kept in place.)
Z'tarr (Modern: V'tull) is called a "vengeful warrior", which is perhaps consistent, given he uses his sword with "grim vengeance" in his canon description. But then Omir (Modern: Onar) is associated with "vengeance" and "righteous retribution", when he is actually emotionless. Akalatan (Modern: Amasalen) is bizarrely described as a grim reaper figure, though he has a psychopomp role in the theocracy of Klysus in later Emer books. Zania (Modern: Zelia) was originally a Dark Spirit and supposedly the chariot driver of Charôn. "We watch for your return" is probably a broader, more loaded meaning.
Akalatan, Dark Watcher Grim reaper, Gathering the tares. Morgu, Cruel Master Guard the Dark Queen, Spirit born of death. Zania, Keeper of the Moon Fair charioteer, We watch for your return. - Temple of Darkness Poem (1994) (Note: "Temple of Darkness" is suggestive of being Orgiana focused. The order of gods and spirits is not meaningful, it is the same as the source book. It does not include the Dancers of Inis, any of the Black Hel gods, or any other dark god from the 1989 modules. Later Shadow World books define other Charôn gods and spirits. The Master Atlas Addendum itself has always called its list only "a selection" of the evil entities inhabiting Charôn.)
Morgu is "wantonly cruel" in his demeanor, similar to Orgiana being "cruel beyond belief", which lends itself to "cruel master" in the poem. However, "guard the dark queen" has nothing at all to do with his canonical description, nor does "spirit born of death." Orgiana could be interpreted as dead Mother. It is possible our Morgu was banished with Orgiana. Which explains his absence if this is Charôn.
"One popular account claims that Kadæna, dark mistress of the First Era, has risen again on Aranmor and prepares her resurrected armies for some final, shocking revenge." - Demons of the Burning Night (1989); page 4 "The PC enters the Black Hel in person through a door hidden in the crypt of Kadaena on the Royal Estate (part X-9-3) in Tarek Nev. Once there, he is stripped of all weapons and armor and taken before the court of the gods of the Black Hel. The Gods sit in massive black thrones and are quite horrifying. Orgiana presides. The fate of the PCs rests entirely on the humor of Orgiana. Most gods will want to enslave, torture, or kill the PCs. Orgiana tells the PCs that they are doomed to stay in the Black Hel for eternity unless they can "amuse her" by helping to destroy Kulthea. The gods of the Black Hel have a great hatred for the planet of Kulthea, but they are banished from ever returning. They offer great recompense to PCs who will work to destroy the White Essence users (Loremaster) and blacken Kulthea's heart. PCs who refuse to help Orgiana and her cronies are kept prisoner in the Black Hel until they change their minds, undergoing a daily regimen of abuse and neglect." - Demons of the Burning Night (1989); page 15
Most importantly, the Morgu stanza is present in this poem that only makes sense after the Wars of Dominion, except it is written in Iruaric on the Dark Shrine in the Broken Lands. Uthex Kathiasas was killed in 6521 Second Era, which was early in the Wars of Dominion. The Loremasters sealed the portal with Runes of Warding, and were probably the ones who destroyed the library in the Dark Shrine, whose entrance is arguably a Lord of Essaence style gateway like the crypt in the Graveyard. These pose severe chronological questions, such as when the Broken Lands is, or if Kadaena knew future events. This is relevant to Research:The Graveyard questions over Kadaena during the Wars of Dominion. The Temple of Darkness poem is itself "translated", possibly also from Iruaric, with the same timing issues.
Wars of Dominion
The Dark Path
The Broken Lands seems to have an allegorical layer of meaning that is a combination of mythology and horror stories of H.P. Lovecraft. This is the same argument made for The Graveyard and Shadow Valley. These three are all in the Shadow World setting as well, but the relative weights are different. Shadow World seems to have only minor significance to Shadow Valley. Mythology seems to be of minor relevance to the Broken Lands, though there may be some bits in the Lysierian Hills. This involves Charôn itself directly in Iloura's shrine and otherwise involves death, sleep, or the Underworld.
There is a strong case to be made that the landscape of the Broken Lands itself is based on H.P. Lovecraft's "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath". In this story the narrator Randolph Carter is a dream walker who is accessing a parallel dimension called the Dreamlands. This is a fantastic version of the Earth in another universe, along with all the other corresponding moons and planets. The terrain of the Broken Lands is essentially scene-for-scene identical to the Underworld of the Dreamlands. It might also be based on a sequel with Randolph Carter titled "Through the Gates of the Silver Key".
There is a separate argument made on Research:The Graveyard that the spirit death mechanics messaging, once called Purgatory, was also partly based on the end of this story. This was discovered first by searching Lovecraft for the wording used in it, because of the heavily Lovecraftian "throne room in purgatory" under the Graveyard. In studying the story it was discovered by accident that the Broken Lands was probably drawing from the same well. The Death section above thus argues both the Graveyard and the Broken Lands are dark mirrors of the GemStone III death mechanics and theology.
Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath
"The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath" is the story of Randolph Carter having dreams of a marvelous city, and wishing to find it by asking the gods of Earth who reside in the Dreamlands. When he prays to them he stops having dreams of it, so he sets off on a quest to find them in the dream world. They once dwelled in the mountain Ngranek, but now reside instead in Kadath. The trouble is the location of Kadath is unknown. In the story he has to find his way to Ngranek in order to see the huge forbidden face carved into the mountain, so he will be able to recognize which race of Earth's Dreamlands is most closely miscegenated with the gods. When he finally does so he is kidnapped by night-gaunts into the Underworld. This is the handful of contiguous pages which strongly mirrors the Broken Lands.
When he makes his way to unknown Kadath, beyond the plateau of Leng, he discovers they are missing. This may be important allegorically, because the Dark Gods are missing from the Broken Lands, and were not on the moon in the Wars of Dominion because they were invading the world. Nyarlathotep informs him they went to his marvelous city, which turns out to be his own childhood memories of Boston. The escape from malevolent Nyarlathotep is argued to be the basis of the spirit death messaging in Research:The Graveyard, which ends with Carter waking up and the gods imprisoned again in Kadath.
(1) The Dream Quest and the Broken Lands
Then Carter did a wicked thing, offering his guileless host so many draughts of the moon-wine which the zoogs had given him that the old man became irresponsibly talkative. Robbed of his reserve, poor Atal babbled freely of forbidden things; telling of a great image reported by travellers as carved on the solid rock of the mountain Ngranek, on the isle of Oriab in the Southern Sea, and hinting that it may be a likeness which earth’s gods once wrought of their own features in the days when they danced by moonlight on that mountain. And he hiccoughed likewise that the features of that image are very strange, so that one might easily recognise them, and that they are sure signs of the authentic race of the gods. Now the use of all this in finding the gods became at once apparent to Carter. It is known that in disguise the younger among the Great Ones often espouse the daughters of men, so that around the borders of the cold waste wherein stands Kadath the peasants must all bear their blood. This being so, the way to find that waste must be to see the stone face on Ngranek and mark the features; then, having noted them with care, to search for such features among living men. Where they are plainest and thickest, there must the gods dwell nearest; and whatever stony waste lies back of the villages in that place must be that wherein stands Kadath. - "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath"; H.P. Lovecraft
The Dark Shrine in the Broken Lands serves as the analog of Ngranek, which has a huge cave in it that is actually a hole into the Underworld. It is in the Shadow World canon for gogor that they swoop down and carry men off, just as the night-gaunts who guard Ngranek. They strongly resemble each other. The Dark Shrine has a huge throne and large corridors, with its western end being a large chamber, which Morgu and the gogor would use to enter and exit by flying. The chamber has two huge eye shaped windows. This is insinuating that there is a huge stone face on the mountain, presumably of Morgu himself, hidden from view because it is too difficult to scale the sheer vertical cliff. There is a ledge far below it where the room description says it feels like something is watching. The language appears borrowed.
He felt from the chill that he must be near the snow line, and looked up to see what glittering pinnacles might be shining in that late ruddy sunlight. Surely enough, there was the snow uncounted thousands of feet above, and below it a great beetling crag like that he had just climbed; hanging there forever in bold outline, black against the white of the frozen peak. And when he saw that crag he gasped and cried out aloud, and clutched at the jagged rock in awe; for the titan bulge had not stayed as earth’s dawn had shaped it, but gleamed red and stupendous in the sunset with the carved and polished features of a god. Stern and terrible shone that face that the sunset lit with fire. How vast it was no mind can ever measure, but Carter knew at once that man could never have fashioned it. It was a god chiselled by the hands of the gods, and it looked down haughty and majestic upon the seeker. Rumour had said it was strange and not to be mistaken, and Carter saw that it was indeed so; for those long narrow eyes and long-lobed ears, and that thin nose and pointed chin, all spoke of a race that is not of men but of gods. He clung overawed in that lofty and perilous eyrie, even though it was this which he had expected and come to find; for there is in a god’s face more of marvel than prediction can tell, and when that face is vaster than a great temple and seen looking down at sunset in the cryptic silences of that upper world from whose dark lava it was divinely hewn of old, the marvel is so strong that none may escape it. - "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath"; H.P. Lovecraft [Dark Shrine, Large Chamber] Like a huge pair of eyes, two large, round windows look out over the eerie rough terrain far below. The openings look out on a panorama of rocky desolation. Huge, jagged mountains rise up all around, snow capped peaks high above ice covered slopes, strewn with large boulders. The cold wind that blows in through the openings bears as much desolation as the view. There is no scent of green trees and running sap, no odor of wildlife rising from the slopes outside. Obvious exits: east. "But dusk was now thick, and the great carven face looked down even sterner in shadow. Perched on that ledge night found the seeker; and in the blackness he might neither go down nor go up, but only stand and cling and shiver in that narrow place till the day came, praying to keep awake lest sleep loose his hold and send him down the dizzy miles of air to the crags and sharp rocks of the accursed valley." - "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath"; H.P. Lovecraft [Jagged Plains, High Ledge] Perched here, high above the quietude of the rock and boulder strewn expanse of the jagged plains below, the stillness holds an almost palpable tension. The strained feeling of expectancy has you poised and alert, and you cannot escape the feeling that someone, or something, is watching you. Obvious exits: down >look up You can't see the sky from here.
This is followed by a description of the sheer vertical cliffs that have to be scaled to reach the hidden side of Ngranek with the forbidden face of the gods. It mentions "lava" and the "olden wrath of the Great Ones", whereas in the Broken Lands there is a boiling sea of mud and huge boulders from the Loremaster battle, but it also describes its barrenness of life as does the view from the Dark Shrine. The sheer vertical cliffs have analogous wording on the Jagged Plain. The "imperceptible foot-holds" correspond to the "featureless" cliff face, which is "clean and straight, as if cut with some gargantuan knife."
At last, in the fearsome iciness of upper space, he came round fully to the hidden side of Ngranek and saw in infinite gulfs below him the lesser crags and sterile abysses of lava which marked the olden wrath of the Great Ones. There was unfolded, too, a vast expanse of country to the south; but it was a desert land without fair fields or cottage chimneys, and seemed to have no ending. No trace of the sea was visible on this side, for Oriab is a great island. Black caverns and odd crevices were still numerous on the sheer vertical cliffs, but none of them was accessible to a climber. There now loomed aloft a great beetling mass which hampered the upward view, and Carter was for a moment shaken with doubt lest it prove impassable. Poised in windy insecurity miles above earth, with only space and death on one side and only slippery walls of rock on the other, he knew for a moment the fear that makes men shun Ngranek’s hidden side. He could not turn round, yet the sun was already low. If there were no way aloft, the night would find him crouching there still, and the dawn would not find him at all. But there was a way, and he saw it in due season. Only a very expert dreamer could have used those imperceptible foot-holds, yet to Carter they were sufficient. Surmounting now the outward-hanging rock, he found the slope above much easier than that below, since a great glacier’s melting had left a generous space with loam and ledges. To the left a precipice dropped straight from unknown heights to unknown depths, with a cave’s dark mouth just out of reach above him. Elsewhere, however, the mountain slanted back strongly, and even gave him space to lean and rest. - "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath"; H.P. Lovecraft [The Broken Lands, Jagged Plain] Huge boulders and jagged rocks are the predominant features on the vast plain that stretches out to the east. The high, sheer cliff which looms above you to the west and southwest is clean and straight, as if cut with some gargantuan knife. The cliff face is featureless, except for a small, jagged opening at the base of the cliff. Obvious paths: north, northeast, east, southeast >n > You carefully make your way through the rocks and boulders... Roundtime: 3 sec. [The Broken Lands, Jagged Plain] A vast plain of large boulders and jagged rocks stretches out to the east, as far as the eye can see. A high, sheer cliff rises up to the west, making travel in that direction impossible. The cliff follows a line curving around from the northeast, to the south, and then curving southeast farther in the distance. You also see a jumble of rocks. Obvious paths: northeast, east, southeast, south
The high ledge scene is the moment when the night-gaunts swoop down and carry Randolph Carter into the Underworld. These are all black and have no faces, unlike the gogor, who have eerie glowing green eyes. Otherwise the night-gaunts and the gogor look essentially the same as each other. They are mistakenly thought to serve Nyarlathotep, but they actually serve the real world Brythonic god Nodens.
But dusk was now thick, and the great carven face looked down even sterner in shadow. Perched on that ledge night found the seeker; and in the blackness he might neither go down nor go up, but only stand and cling and shiver in that narrow place till the day came, praying to keep awake lest sleep loose his hold and send him down the dizzy miles of air to the crags and sharp rocks of the accursed valley. The stars came out, but save for them there was only black nothingness in his eyes; nothingness leagued with death, against whose beckoning he might do no more than cling to the rocks and lean back away from an unseen brink. The last thing of earth that he saw in the gloaming was a condor soaring close to the westward precipice beside him, and darting screaming away when it came near the cave whose mouth yawned just out of reach. Suddenly, without a warning sound in the dark, Carter felt his curved scimitar drawn stealthily out of his belt by some unseen hand. Then he heard it clatter down over the rocks below. And between him and the Milky Way he thought he saw a very terrible outline of something noxiously thin and horned and tailed and bat-winged. Other things, too, had begun to blot out patches of stars west of him, as if a flock of vague entities were flapping thickly and silently out of that inaccessible cave in the face of the precipice. Then a sort of cold rubbery arm seized his neck and something else seized his feet, and he was lifted inconsiderately up and swung about in space. Another minute and the stars were gone, and Carter knew that the night-gaunts had got him. - "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath"; H.P. Lovecraft
The Underworld itself is dimly lit with a "grey phosphorescence" called death-fire, and "reeks of the primal mists of the pits at earth's core." The Jagged Plain itself is fog covered in its southern half, and the Broken Lands has a sour smell in a number of its locations. The Underworld has a whole subterranean mountain range called the Peaks of Thok, or "Throk" in other versions, which is remarkable given the use of the Iruaric "throk" rendered as "thro". This may be interpreted allegorically as implying the Broken Lands, in spite of its mountains, is located below the surface of Charôn as it must to be consistent.
They bore him breathless into that cliffside cavern and through monstrous labyrinths beyond. When he struggled, as at first he did by instinct, they tickled him with deliberation. They made no sound at all themselves, and even their membraneous wings were silent. They were frightfully cold and damp and slippery, and their paws kneaded one detestably. Soon they were plunging hideously downward through inconceivable abysses in a whirling, giddying, sickening rush of dank, tomb-like air; and Carter felt they were shooting into the ultimate vortex of shrieking and daemonic madness. He screamed again and again, but whenever he did so the black paws tickled him with greater subtlety. Then he saw a sort of grey phosphorescence about, and guessed they were coming even to that inner world of subterrene horror of which dim legends tell, and which is litten only by the pale death-fire wherewith reeks the ghoulish air and the primal mists of the pits at earth’s core. At last far below him he saw faint lines of grey and ominous pinnacles which he knew must be the fabled Peaks of Thok. Awful and sinister they stand in the haunted dusk of sunless and eternal depths; higher than man may reckon, and guarding terrible valleys where the bholes crawl and burrow nastily. But Carter preferred to look at them than at his captors, which were indeed shocking and uncouth black beings with smooth, oily, whale-like surfaces, unpleasant horns that curved inward toward each other, bat-wings whose beating made no sound, ugly prehensile paws, and barbed tails that lashed needlessly and disquietingly. And worst of all, they never spoke or laughed, and never smiled because they had no faces at all to smile with, but only a suggestive blankness where a face ought to be. All they ever did was clutch and fly and tickle; that was the way of night-gaunts. As the band flew lower the Peaks of Thok rose grey and towering on all sides, and one saw clearly that nothing lived on that austere and impassive granite of the endless twilight. At still lower levels the death-fires in the air gave out, and one met only the primal blackness of the void save aloft where the thin peaks stood out goblin-like. Soon the peaks were very far away, and nothing about but great rushing winds with the dankness of nethermost grottoes in them. Then in the end the night-gaunts landed on a floor of unseen things which felt like layers of bones, and left Carter all alone in that black valley. To bring him thither was the duty of the night-gaunts that guard Ngranek; and this done, they flapped away silently. When Carter tried to trace their flight he found he could not, since even the Peaks of Thok had faded out of sight. There was nothing anywhere but blackness and horror and silence and bones. - "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath"; H.P. Lovecraft
The night-gaunts kidnap trespassers of Ngranek and fly them down into the Underworld, leaving them to die in a vast deep bone pit called the Vale of Pnath. These are infested with huge roa'ter-like worms called bholes, similar to the dholes in the material world. The bones come from ghouls tossing them down when they finish eating. Randolph Carter has to call out to the ghouls to help by throwing down a ladder. In the Broken Lands the bone pit can be climbed out of, and is implicitly what the magru leave behind after dissolving away the flesh. There are no roa'ter type monsters in the bone pit.
Now Carter knew from a certain source that he was in the vale of Pnath, where crawl and burrow the enormous bholes; but he did not know what to expect, because no one has ever seen a bhole or even guessed what such a thing may be like. Bholes are known only by dim rumour, from the rustling they make amongst mountains of bones and the slimy touch they have when they wriggle past one. They cannot be seen because they creep only in the dark. Carter did not wish to meet a bhole, so listened intently for any sound in the unknown depths of bones about him. Even in this fearsome place he had a plan and an objective, for whispers of Pnath and its approaches were not unknown to one with whom he had talked much in the old days. In brief, it seemed fairly likely that this was the spot into which all the ghouls of the waking world cast the refuse of their feastings; and that if he but had good luck he might stumble upon that mighty crag taller even than Thok’s peaks which marks the edge of their domain. Showers of bones would tell him where to look, and once found he could call to a ghoul to let down a ladder; for strange to say, he had a very singular link with these terrible creatures. A man he had known in Boston—a painter of strange pictures with a secret studio in an ancient and unhallowed alley near a graveyard—had actually made friends with the ghouls and had taught him to understand the simpler part of their disgusting meeping and glibbering. This man had vanished at last, and Carter was not sure but that he might find him now, and use for the first time in dreamland that far-away English of his dim waking life. In any case, he felt he could persuade a ghoul to guide him out of Pnath; and it would be better to meet a ghoul, which one can see, than a bhole, which one cannot see. So Carter walked in the dark, and ran when he thought he heard something among the bones underfoot. Once he bumped into a stony slope, and knew it must be the base of one of Thok’s peaks. Then at last he heard a monstrous rattling and clatter which reached far up in the air, and became sure he had come nigh the crag of the ghouls. He was not sure he could be heard from this valley miles below, but realised that the inner world has strange laws. As he pondered he was struck by a flying bone so heavy that it must have been a skull, and therefore realising his nearness to the fateful crag he sent up as best he might that meeping cry which is the call of the ghoul. - "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath"; H.P. Lovecraft [Dark Grotto, Cavern] A broad ledge runs all the way around the edge of this cavern, circling a huge pit at the center. The ledge is smooth and even, with plenty of room for you to walk around. Obvious exits: southwest. >climb pit You carefully make your way down into the pit. [Deep Pit] A deep layer of old bones forms the floor of this deep pit. The high straight walls are rough and irregular, riddled with cracks and sharp protrusions of stone. Obvious exits: none. Roundtime: 10 sec. >look bones Bones of all sizes and shapes are collected here, ranging from the tiny skulls of common mice to huge thigh bones from some unrecognizable creature. >look wall The walls are high and straight, and riddles with shallow cracks and sharp protrusions of stone. >climb wall You carefully start to make your way up the wall, but you only manage to make it about half way up before you loose your grip and fall! You land in the midst of the bones with a crash! ... 10 points of damage! Strike to the chest breaks a rib! Roundtime: 10 sec.
He climbs for hours until being pulled over the edge of the crag by a ghoul. He emerges on a dim-litten plain strewn with boulders, which may correspond to the boulder strewn Jagged Plain, where most every room looks the same in all directions. The ghouls bring him to his artist friend Pickman, who was in another Lovecraft story, and became a ghoul in the Dreamlands after death. When he follows them he has to crawl through tunnels of mold, which is akin to the Dark Grotto. The relative positions of these analogous features are swapped around somewhat in the Broken Lands. The Jagged Plain was released earlier.
For hours he climbed with aching arms and blistered hands, seeing again the grey death-fire and Thok’s uncomfortable pinnacles. At last he discerned above him the projecting edge of the great crag of the ghouls, whose vertical side he could not glimpse; and hours later he saw a curious face peering over it as a gargoyle peers over a parapet of Notre Dame. This almost made him lose his hold through faintness, but a moment later he was himself again; for his vanished friend Richard Pickman had once introduced him to a ghoul, and he knew well their canine faces and slumping forms and unmentionable idiosyncrasies. So he had himself well under control when that hideous thing pulled him out of the dizzy emptiness over the edge of the crag, and did not scream at the partly consumed refuse heaped at one side or at the squatting circles of ghouls who gnawed and watched curiously. He was now on a dim-litten plain whose sole topographical features were great boulders and the entrances of burrows. The ghouls were in general respectful, even if one did attempt to pinch him while several others eyed his leanness speculatively. Through patient glibbering he made inquiries regarding his vanished friend, and found he had become a ghoul of some prominence in abysses nearer the waking world. A greenish elderly ghoul offered to conduct him to Pickman’s present habitation, so despite a natural loathing he followed the creature into a capacious burrow and crawled after him for hours in the blackness of rank mould. - "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath"; H.P. Lovecraft >sw You are going to have to crawl to go in that direction. >kneel You kneel down. >sw [Dark Grotto, Small Tunnel] The tunnel twists and turns, undulating through the surrounding rock. The floor, walls and low ceiling are irregular but smooth, as if something had passed this way many times to wear away any jagged edges. The dim green light given off by patches of glowing lichen shrouds the tunnel in odd shadows that dance and waver before your eyes. Obvious exits: north, northeast, southwest. >sw [Dark Grotto, Cavern] A sour, fetid odor fills this cavern, stinging your eyes and making breathing difficult. A strange, gritty substance covers the floor of the cavern which crunches when it is walked upon. At first sight it appeared to be simply a layer of dirt, but closer examination shows it to be some kind of finely pulverized stone. The grey-white caps of mushrooms poke up in small clusters dotted around on the surface of the grit. Obvious exits: northeast, northwest.
This is further reinforced by the exit back to the Jagged Plain. Glowing fungus or lichen is a Lovecraftian motif often used in the game for lighting.
>search After a careful search of the area, you discover a narrow crack, which looks promising. Roundtime: 5 secs. >go crack [Dark Grotto, Small Tunnel] The tunnel is small and cramped. It is wider than it is tall, and the floor, walls and ceiling are fairly smooth. Patches of lichen dotting the area give off an eerie, dim light that casts a green hue over everything. A subdued, slightly bitter odor nags at your senses. Though not strong, it is pervasive and seems to irritate your eyes. You also see a narrow crack. Obvious exits: southeast.
Randolph Carter wishes to travel to the enchanted woods on the surface, but the way is through a forbidden trap door in the city of the gugs, huge beasts who worship Nyarlathotep past the ghasts in the terrible vaults of Zin. Pickman advises him against it. He wants Carter to travel up to the plateau of Leng, or wake up, but Carter does not know the way from Leng and could forget the face and the race he is seeking if he wakes up. Carter convinces them to travel through the gug kingdom while they are sleeping, and make their way to the trap door which the gugs are forbidden to cross by the Great Ones.
After much persuasion the ghoul consented to guide his guest inside the great wall of the gugs’ kingdom. There was one chance that Carter might be able to steal through that twilight realm of circular stone towers at an hour when the giants would be all gorged and snoring indoors, and reach the central tower with the sign of Koth upon it, which has the stairs leading up to that stone trap-door in the enchanted wood. Pickman even consented to lend three ghouls to help with a tombstone lever in raising the stone door; for of ghouls the gugs are somewhat afraid, and they often flee from their own colossal graveyards when they see feasting there. He also advised Carter to disguise as a ghoul himself; shaving the beard he had allowed to grow (for ghouls have none), wallowing naked in the mould to get the correct surface, and loping in the usual slumping way, with his clothing carried in a bundle as if it were a choice morsel from a tomb. They would reach the city of the gugs—which is coterminous with the whole kingdom—through the proper burrows, emerging in a cemetery not far from the stair-containing Tower of Koth. They must beware, however, of a large cave near the cemetery; for this is the mouth of the vaults of Zin, and the vindictive ghasts are always on watch there murderously for those denizens of the upper abyss who hunt and prey on them. The ghasts try to come out when the gugs sleep, and they attack ghouls as readily as gugs, for they cannot discriminate. They are very primitive, and eat one another. The gugs have a sentry at a narrow place in the vaults of Zin, but he is often drowsy and is sometimes surprised by a party of ghasts. Though ghasts cannot live in real light, they can endure the grey twilight of the abyss for hours. - "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath"; H.P. Lovecraft (Note: The gogor [vruul] have messaging where they "lope" between rooms.)
The huge bones in the bone pit do not correspond to existing creatures in the Broken Lands, and quite probably allegorically refer to the gugs. The huge cavern with the myklian corresponds to the mouth of the vaults of Zin. It is at the base of huge, enormous stairs leading up the Tower of Koth, with its forbidding sign. These stairs are so large, made for the gait of the gugs, that they must be climbed over. This corresponds to the huge stairs in the cavern leading up to the Dark Shrine. The "vast lichened monoliths", acting as gravestones of the gugs, correspond to the lichen covered stalagmites.
So at length Carter crawled through endless burrows with three helpful ghouls bearing the slate gravestone of Col. Nehemiah Derby, obiit 1719, from the Charter Street Burying Ground in Salem. When they came again into open twilight they were in a forest of vast lichened monoliths reaching nearly as high as the eye could see and forming the modest gravestones of the gugs. On the right of the hole out of which they wriggled, and seen through aisles of monoliths, was a stupendous vista of Cyclopean round towers mounting up illimitable into the grey air of inner earth. This was the great city of the gugs, whose doorways are thirty feet high. Ghouls come here often, for a buried gug will feed a community for almost a year, and even with the added peril it is better to burrow for gugs than to bother with the graves of men. Carter now understood the occasional titan bones he had felt beneath him in the vale of Pnath. Straight ahead, and just outside the cemetery, rose a sheer perpendicular cliff at whose base an immense and forbidding cavern yawned. This the ghouls told Carter to avoid as much as possible, since it was the entrance to the unhallowed vaults of Zin where gugs hunt ghasts in the darkness. - "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath"; H.P. Lovecraft [Dark Grotto, Cavern] Every sound that you make is amplified by the high domed ceiling of this oblong cavern. One end of the cavern has been hollowed out, forming a kind of amphitheater with four broad, terraced ledges forming a semicircle around a stone platform. The cavern could not be a natural formation, but there are no tool marks from where the stone might have been carved or worked by hand, no telltale joints where stones have been fitted together. Deep niches line the walls of the cavern. Obvious exits: southeast, southwest. >search After a careful search of the area, you discover a wide crack at the back of one of the niches, which looks promising. Roundtime: 5 sec. >stand You stand back up. >go crack [Dark Grotto, Huge Cavern] The huge cavern that stretches out to the northeast presents an eerie, other-worldly vista, filled with tall spires of stone and crystal, and dotted with growths of giant mushrooms and huge fans of lichen. Somewhere high overhead, the ceiling of the cavern lies out of sight, shrouded in darkness. Many varieties of mold, moss, lichen and fungi fill the underground landscape, some of them glowing with pale unearthly light that fills the cavern with dim, shadowy illumination. Obvious exits: east, northeast.
Carter and the ghouls then watch the ghasts swarm upon and attack the gug sentry to the vaults of Zin. When the noise of that recedes into the blackness, they move forward, until reaching the Tower of Koth. The entrance is marked by a bas relief of the symbol of Koth, which corresponds to the bas relief at the entrance of the Dark Shrine. This has Iruaric that makes one shudder without knowing its meaning.
Then the most alert of the ghouls gave the signal for all to advance, and Carter followed the loping three out of the forest of monoliths and into the dark noisome streets of that awful city whose rounded towers of Cyclopean stone soared up beyond the sight. Silently they shambled over that rough rock pavement, hearing with disgust the abominable muffled snortings from great black doorways which marked the slumber of the gugs. Apprehensive of the ending of the rest hour, the ghouls set a somewhat rapid pace; but even so the journey was no brief one, for distances in that town of giants are on a great scale. At last, however, they came to a somewhat open space before a tower even vaster than the rest, above whose colossal doorway was fixed a monstrous symbol in bas-relief which made one shudder without knowing its meaning. This was the central tower with the sign of Koth, and those huge stone steps just visible through the dusk within were the beginning of the great flight leading to upper dreamland and the enchanted wood. - "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath"; H.P. Lovecraft "Then he noticed a small door at the farther end of the room, and calmed himself enough to approach it and examine the crude sign chiselled above. It was only a symbol, but it filled him with vague spiritual dread; for a morbid, dreaming friend of his had once drawn it on paper and told him a few of the things it means in the dark abyss of sleep. It was the sign of Koth, that dreamers see fixed above the archway of a certain black tower standing alone in twilight—and Willett did not like what his friend Randolph Carter had said of its powers." - "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward"; H.P. Lovecraft >go tunnel [Dark Grotto, Dark Cavern] Age seeps from the walls of this huge chamber, smothering everything with a dust laden blanket of silence. There is a huge relief carved into the wall at the end of the long chamber, opposite the opening to the south. Obvious exits: south. >look relief The image is that of a dark beast with leathery wings and blood red claws. The inscription below the image is in a strange language, and reads "Marlu lyxatis kort. Thro dyar K'mur."
In the Dream-Quest the stairs are climbed to reach a trap-door rather than the relief with the horrible symbol without knowing its meaning. These stairs are enormous, gug sized, and are struggled over. They have to kill a ghast which comes up the stairway after them, and its body later falls down making noise, ending the intent of the ghouls to return the same way. They manage to pry open the trap door before gugs can rush up the stairs after them out of the darkness, and that is the end of being in the Underworld. Almost the whole text of Carter in the Underworld has been included. Most places match up.
There now began a climb of interminable length in utter blackness; made almost impossible by the monstrous size of the steps, which were fashioned for gugs, and were therefore nearly a yard high. Of their number Carter could form no just estimate, for he soon became so worn out that the tireless and elastic ghouls were forced to aid him. All through the endless climb there lurked the peril of detection and pursuit; for though no gug dares lift the stone door to the forest because of the Great Ones’ curse, there are no such restraints concerning the tower and the steps, and escaped ghasts are often chased even to the very top. So sharp are the ears of gugs, that the bare feet and hands of the climbers might readily be heard when the city awoke; and it would of course take but little time for the striding giants, accustomed from their ghast-hunts in the vaults of Zin to seeing without light, to overtake their smaller and slower quarry on those Cyclopean steps. It was very depressing to reflect that the silent pursuing gugs would not be heard at all, but would come very suddenly and shockingly in the dark upon the climbers. ... Suddenly their desperation was magnified a thousandfold by a sound on the steps below them. It was only the thumping and rattling of the slain ghast’s hooved body as it rolled down to lower levels; but of all the possible causes of that body’s dislodgment and rolling, none was in the least reassuring. Therefore, knowing the ways of gugs, the ghouls set to with something of a frenzy; and in a surprisingly short time had the door so high that they were able to hold it still whilst Carter turned the slab and left a generous opening. They now helped Carter through, letting him climb up to their rubbery shoulders and later guiding his feet as he clutched at the blessed soil of the upper dreamland outside. Another second and they were through themselves, knocking away the gravestone and closing the great trap-door while a panting became audible beneath. Because of the Great Ones’ curse no gug might ever emerge from that portal, so with a deep relief and sense of repose Carter lay quietly on the thick grotesque fungi of the enchanted wood while his guides squatted near in the manner that ghouls rest. - "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath"; H.P. Lovecraft >go stair [Dark Grotto, Long Stairway] The gargantuan stairway rises from the landing here, reaching up along the wall of the cavern farther than you can see. The stair is a marvel, an engineering feat of unparalleled proportions. The broad steps are more than twenty feet wide, some seven or eight feet deep, and about three feet high. You also see a huge cavern that spreads out to the south in an eerie, other-worldly vista of tall stone spires and giant fungi. Obvious exits: up. >climb up You struggle to climb up over several of the huge steps. [Dark Grotto, Long Stairway] Huge steps have been carved into the stone wall of the cavern forming a stairway of gigantic proportions. No creature that you have ever seen has had the size or length of leg to negotiate stairs of this size. The floor of the cavern is far below, and anyone who fell over the unprotected edge of the stairway would surely die in the fall. Obvious exits: up, down. Round time: 7 sec. You lie there for a moment, trying to catch your breath. [Dark Grotto, Long Stairway] Huge steps have been carved into the stone wall of the cavern forming a stairway of gigantic proportions. No creature that you have ever seen has had the size or length of leg to negotiate stairs of this size. Looking out over the cavern far below, you can see tall spires of stone that look like small splinters of rock from this distance. Obvious exits: up, down. [Dark Grotto, Long Stairway] Huge steps have been carved into the stone wall of the cavern forming a stairway of gigantic proportions. No creature that you have ever seen has had the size or length of leg to negotiate stairs of this size. Details of the cavern floor far below are lost in the shadowy distance. Obvious exits: up, down. [Dark Grotto, Long Stairway] A gargantuan stairway descends from the landing here, reaching down along a solid stone wall into a huge cavern, farther than you can see. The stair is a marvel, an engineering feat of unparalleled proportions. The broad steps are more than twenty feet wide, some seven or eight feet deep, and about three feet high. The floor of the huge cavern lies so far below that all detail is lost in the distance. A large, dark tunnel has been bored into the stone wall. Obvious exits: down. (Note: This is where vruul [gogor] and dark vorteces begin. Though the dark vorteces can wander into the cavern and dissipate gradually. The other side at the top is a "ghastly" statue of Morgu.)
(2) The Dreamlands
These gods or otherworldly "daemonic" horrors, such as Nyarlathotep and Azathoth, are not limited to the waking world or the Dreamlands. When Morgu is imagined as a Lovecraftian horror, and GM Varevice once said "The Call of Cthulhu" is the right way to interpret Marlu, the gogor (vruul) are sleep themed and may be considered the analog of the night-gaunts. Randolph Carter is sleeping in the waking world throughout the quest, as time runs at a different speed in the Dreamlands. Those who die there really die, but those who die in the waking world can continue to live there, including as monstrous races like the ghouls. The Dreamlands often has its own version of places that exist in the material world in other Lovecraft stories. This allows interpretations like transplanar coexistence or isles of transfer effects.
There may be pieces from other parts of the story that were also used in the Broken Lands, but most of the terrain comes from a contiguous section of pages. In the dream quest Randolph Carter is brought to the moon as a slave at one point, which is controlled by moon-beasts, which are horrible toad-like things who worship Nyarlathotep. This may be the root of the myklian and toad brazier in the Dark Shrine. The Men of Leng are the miscegenated race that Carter recognizes from carved face on Ngranek, having disguised themselves as traders earlier, who are enslaved by moon beasts and serve Nyarlathotep.
There are also hemispherical domes on the plateau of Leng when Carter flies over it with night-gaunts, who follow him up the huge stairwell of Kadath with its "vortices of cold wind." There is a Nameless Monastery with a hooded and masked figure, the High Priest Not To Be Named, next to the plateau of Leng and directly over the vaults of Zin. These are all potential references also in the Broken Lands.
"At dusk they reached the jagged grey peaks that form the barrier of Inganok, and hovered about those strange caves near the summits which Carter recalled as so frightful to the shantaks. At the insistent meeping of the ghoulish leaders there issued forth from each lofty burrow a stream of horned black flyers; with which the ghouls and night-gaunts of the party conferred at length by means of ugly gestures. It soon became clear that the best course would be that over the cold waste north of Inganok, for Leng’s northward reaches are full of unseen pitfalls that even the night-gaunts dislike; abysmal influences centring in certain white hemispherical buildings on curious knolls, which common folklore associates unpleasantly with the Other Gods and their crawling chaos Nyarlathotep." - "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath"; H.P. Lovecraft [The Broken Lands, Jagged Plain] A large crystal dome rises above the jumble of huge boulders and jagged rocks, breaking the monotony of the terrain. There is no question in your mind that the dome is man-made and not a natural feature of the area. A dense fog swirls around the base of the dome, and generally obscures your vision. Obvious paths: north, northeast, east, southeast, south, southwest, west, northwest The crystal dome pulses with a dim, multicolored light. >look dome The crystal dome is about 12 feet tall, and some 15 to 20 feet across. The multi-faceted surface is highly polished, and the reflective planes make it impossible to see into the crystal.
The case for other parts of the Dreamlands mattering to the Broken Lands is generally weaker than the Underworld parallel. The trouble is that when you can cherry-pick language from wherever in a lot of text, it increases the likelihood that an influence is only coincidental. But given the strength of the Underworld parallel, it is still highly plausible that the rest of the story may matter in various ways, as well as other Dream Cycle stories and those of Randolph Carter especially. The Graveyard story may or may not lean into any given Lovecraft story, but the Broken Lands clearly does lean into the Dream-Quest.
"The slant-eyed merchant had now prodded Carter into a great domed space whose walls were carved in shocking bas-reliefs, and whose centre held a gaping circular pit surrounded by six malignly stained stone altars in a ring. There was no light in this vast and evil-smelling crypt, and the small lamp of the sinister merchant shone so feebly that one could grasp details only little by little. At the farther end was a high stone dais reached by five steps; and there on a golden throne sat a lumpish figure robed in yellow silk figured with red and having a yellow silken mask over its face. To this being the slant-eyed man made certain signs with his hands, and the lurker in the dark replied by raising a disgustingly carven flute of ivory in silk-covered paws and blowing certain loathsome sounds from beneath its flowing yellow mask. This colloquy went on for some time, and to Carter there was something sickeningly familiar in the sound of that flute and the stench of the malodorous place. It made him think of a frightful red-litten city and of the revolting procession that once filed through it; of that, and of an awful climb through lunar countryside beyond, before the rescuing rush of earth’s friendly cats. He knew that the creature on the dais was without doubt the high-priest not to be described, of which legend whispers such fiendish and abnormal possibilities, but he feared to think just what that abhorred high-priest might be. Then the figured silk slipped a trifle from one of the greyish-white paws, and Carter knew what the noisome high-priest was. And in that hideous second stark fear drove him to something his reason would never have dared to attempt, for in all his shaken consciousness there was room only for one frantic will to escape from what squatted on that golden throne. He knew that hopeless labyrinths of stone lay betwixt him and the cold table-land outside, and that even on that table-land the noxious shantak still waited; yet in spite of all this there was in his mind only the instant need to get away from that wriggling, silk-robed monstrosity. The slant-eyed man had set his curious lamp upon one of the high and wickedly stained altar-stones by the pit, and had moved forward somewhat to talk to the high-priest with his hands. Carter, hitherto wholly passive, now gave that man a terrific push with all the wild strength of fear, so that the victim toppled at once into that gaping well which rumour holds to reach down to the hellish Vaults of Zin where gugs hunt ghasts in the dark. In almost the same second he seized the lamp from the altar and darted out into the frescoed labyrinths, racing this way and that as chance determined and trying not to think of the stealthy padding of shapeless paws on the stones behind him, or of the silent wrigglings and crawlings which must be going on back there in lightless corridors." - "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath"; H.P. Lovecraft [Dark Grotto, Cavern] A broad ledge runs all the way around the edge of this cavern, circling a huge pit at the center. The ledge is smooth and even, with plenty of room for you to walk around. Obvious exits: southwest.
This is the "nameless monastery" on the edge of the plateau of Leng, where the sinister hemispherical buildings associated with Nyarlathotep are, as well as the miscegenated Men of Leng who hide their horns under turbans. It is not known who the High Priest Not To Be Named is for certain. Some think it is the Yellow King, others think it is a manifestation of Nyarlathotep. The monastery is located high above the Vaults of Zin. The entrance to the deep bone pit in the Dark Grotto, rather than the bone pit itself, resembles this hole more than the Vale of Pnath. The Dark Shrine has hideous "frescoes" as well.
"The solid rock now gave place to the giant foundations of the monstrous castle, and it seemed that the speed of the party was somewhat abated. Vast walls shot up, and there was a glimpse of a great gate through which the voyagers were swept. All was night in the titan courtyard, and then came the deeper blackness of inmost things as a huge arched portal engulfed the column. Vortices of cold wind surged dankly through sightless labyrinths of onyx, and Carter could never tell what Cyclopean stairs and corridors lay silent along the route of his endless aërial twisting. Always upward led the terrible plunge in darkness, and never a sound, touch, or glimpse broke the dense pall of mystery. Large as the army of ghouls and night-gaunts was, it was lost in the prodigious voids of that more than earthly castle. And when at last there suddenly dawned around him the lurid light of that single tower room whose lofty window had served as a beacon, it took Carter long to discern the far walls and high, distant ceiling, and to realise that he was indeed not again in the boundless air outside. Randolph Carter had hoped to come into the throne-room of the Great Ones with poise and dignity, flanked and followed by impressive lines of ghouls in ceremonial order, and offering his prayer as a free and potent master among dreamers. He had known that the Great Ones themselves are not beyond a mortal’s power to cope with, and had trusted to luck that the Other Gods and their crawling chaos Nyarlathotep would not happen to come to their aid at the crucial moment, as they had so often done before when men sought out earth’s gods in their home or on their mountains. And with his hideous escort he had half hoped to defy even the Other Gods if need were, knowing as he did that ghouls have no masters, and that night-gaunts own not Nyarlathotep but only archaick Nodens for their lord. But now he saw that supernal Kadath in its cold waste is indeed girt with dark wonders and nameless sentinels, and that the Other Gods are of a surety vigilant in guarding the mild, feeble gods of earth. Void as they are of lordship over ghouls and night-gaunts, the mindless, shapeless blasphemies of outer space can yet control them when they must; so that it was not in state as a free and potent master of dreamers that Randolph Carter came into the Great Ones’ throne-room with his ghouls. Swept and herded by nightmare tempests from the stars, and dogged by unseen horrors of the northern waste, all that army floated captive and helpless in the lurid light, dropping numbly to the onyx floor when by some voiceless order the winds of fright dissolved." - "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath"; H.P. Lovecraft [Dark Shrine, Chapel] In long ages past, some dark, evil priest once sat upon the large stone chair that occupies this part of the chamber like a throne. Or perhaps one of the Dark Lords themselves, or one of their dark servants, presided over the evil that was performed here. Obvious exits: southeast, southwest.
When Randolph Carter reaches the castle of the Great One's, earth's gods, on Kadath he expected to be able to leverage them with his army that did not answer to them or the Outer Gods and Nyarlathotep. But this turns out to be folly, and his army is instantly powerless. He discovers that the gods are not there at all. His forces suddenly disappear on him and a "daemonic" procession appears in Kadath, where Nyarlathotep arrives in his human guise as a pharaoh. Nyarlathotep then explains that the gods abandoned the dreamlands for Carter's marvelous city, from his own childhood memories, and he feigns to spare Carter for his forbidden trespassing because only he can exile the gods back to Kadath. Nyarlathotep is trying to trick him into going to the ultimate chaos at the center of the universe - the daemon-sultan Azathoth, which for us could be considered the analog of the Unlife - but Carter leaps into void to escape and in the process of waking up Nyarlathotep has once again imprisoned the earth gods.
"Before no golden dais had Randolph Carter come, nor was there any august circle of crowned and haloed beings with narrow eyes, long-lobed ears, thin nose, and pointed chin whose kinship to the carven face on Ngranek might stamp them as those to whom a dreamer might pray. Save for that one tower room the onyx castle atop Kadath was dark, and the masters were not there. Carter had come to unknown Kadath in the cold waste, but he had not found the gods. Yet still the lurid light glowed in that one tower room whose size was so little less than that of all outdoors, and whose distant walls and roof were so nearly lost to sight in thin, curling mists. Earth’s gods were not there, it was true, but of subtler and less visible presences there could be no lack. Where the mild gods are absent, the Other Gods are not unrepresented; and certainly, the onyx castle of castles was far from tenantless. In what outrageous form or forms terror would next reveal itself, Carter could by no means imagine. He felt that his visit had been expected, and wondered how close a watch had all along been kept upon him by the crawling chaos Nyarlathotep. It is Nyarlathotep, horror of infinite shapes and dread soul and messenger of the Other Gods, that the fungous moon-beasts serve; and Carter thought of the black galley that had vanished when the tide of battle turned against the toad-like abnormalities on the jagged rock in the sea. Reflecting upon these things, he was staggering to his feet in the midst of his nightmare company when there rang without warning through that pale-litten and limitless chamber the hideous blast of a daemon trumpet. Three times pealed that frightful brazen scream, and when the echoes of the third blast had died chucklingly away Randolph Carter saw that he was alone. Whither, why, and how the ghouls and night-gaunts had been snatched from sight was not for him to divine. He knew only that he was suddenly alone, and that whatever unseen powers lurked mockingly around him were no powers of earth’s friendly dreamland." - "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath"; H.P. Lovecraft [Dark Shrine, Chapel] Here, surrounded by dark frescoes presenting frightening images of terror, foul beasts and macabre rituals, confronted by the huge, ghastly statue that dominates the center of the chamber, the sense of evil is a palpable force that threatens to smother and consume all that it can. Obvious exits: northeast, northwest. [Dark Shrine, Altar] The low stone altar is covered with dark stains. One corner of the altar has been broken off, and several of the hideous faces and figures carved into the stone walls have been smashed. Large iron braziers, covered with rust and corrosion, stand at each end of the altar table. A cracked brass gong hangs from a wooden brace along the north wall, facing an ancient tapestry which hangs directly opposite. Obvious exits: west. >look brazier The brazier has been fashioned in the shape of a huge toad, face upturned with mouth wide open to form the basin of the brazier. >desc myklian The myklian is a fearsome beast, some form of large lizard or amphibian that usually travels on four legs, but sometimes stands upright on two legs. It has a short, stubby tail which is triangular in shape and covered with a luminescent, chitinous plate. Hard scales cover the rest of the beast's body, except for the soft underbelly. Bony spikes and knobs guard the beast's joints. The coloration of the myklian species ranges the entire spectrum, red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.
Through the Gates of the Silver Key
"The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath" was chronologically the earliest Randolph Carter story, though not in the order they were written and published. When Carter is a bit older he loses his ability to dream vividly, due to the dulling effects of logic and reason, replacing the fantastical with irony and satire and allegory. In "The Silver Key" he has spent decades trying to partially recover his youthful imagination, until he is finally able to recall his grandfather telling him about an antique silver key in his family estate with occult properties. When he brings this into a cave called the Snake-Den he is somehow returned in time to his youth. Now young again, Randolph Carter does not wholly remember his old life as such, but has a gift of prophecy where he has a way of remembering things that have not happened yet.
This is important because of the timeline issues with the Iruaric in the Dark Shrine and the Wars of Dominion. It is worth noting that the Dark Shrine itself is shaped like a skeleton key. This is obscured on the Tsoran map, which arbitrarily places a "go arch" on a north wall, when it is probably intended to be the south wall. It is possible the waterfall and the series of caves ending in the misty chamber is based on the Snake-Den. It would not explain the monastery itself, only the hidden deep cave leading to a natural gateway. Fortifed cave monasteries such as Vardzia exist historically, but it might not be allegorical.
"Then, when he was free, he felt in his blouse pocket for the key; and being reassured, skipped off across the orchard to the rise beyond, where the wooded hill climbed again to heights above even the treeless knoll. The floor of the forest was mossy and mysterious, and great lichened rocks rose vaguely here and there in the dim light like Druid monoliths among the swollen and twisted trunks of a sacred grove. Once in his ascent Randolph crossed a rushing stream whose falls a little way off sang runic incantations to the lurking fauns and aegipans and dryads. Then he came to the strange cave in the forest slope, the dreaded “snake-den” which country folk shunned, and away from which Benijah had warned him again and again. It was deep; far deeper than anyone but Randolph suspected, for the boy had found a fissure in the farthermost black corner that led to a loftier grotto beyond—a haunting sepulchral place whose granite walls held a curious illusion of conscious artifice. On this occasion he crawled in as usual, lighting his way with matches filched from the sitting-room match-safe, and edging through the final crevice with an eagerness hard to explain even to himself. He could not tell why he approached the farther wall so confidently, or why he instinctively drew forth the great silver key as he did so. But on he went, and when he danced back to the house that night he offered no excuses for his lateness, nor heeded in the least the reproofs he gained for ignoring the noontide dinner-horn altogether. Now it is agreed by all the distant relatives of Randolph Carter that something occurred to heighten his imagination in his tenth year. His cousin, Ernest B. Aspinwall, Esq., of Chicago, is fully ten years his senior; and distinctly recalls a change in the boy after the autumn of 1883. Randolph had looked on scenes of fantasy that few others can ever have beheld, and stranger still were some of the qualities which he shewed in relation to very mundane things. He seemed, in fine, to have picked up an odd gift of prophecy; and reacted unusually to things which, though at the time without meaning, were later found to justify the singular impressions. In subsequent decades as new inventions, new names, and new events appeared one by one in the book of history, people would now and then recall wonderingly how Carter had years before let fall some careless word of undoubted connexion with what was then far in the future. He did not himself understand these words, or know why certain things made him feel certain emotions; but fancied that some unremembered dream must be responsible. It was as early as 1897 that he turned pale when some traveller mentioned the French town of Belloy-en-Santerre, and friends remembered it when he was almost mortally wounded there in 1916, while serving with the Foreign Legion in the Great War." - "The Silver Key"; H.P. Lovecraft
This story ends with Carter, once again an adult, having gone to the cave and disappeared. The family is then wondering about dividing up his estate, which is the setting of its sequel. In "Through the Gates of the Silver Key" he has gone to the Snake-Den with the silver key and vanished in thin air into a higher reality. This is how the portal to the Broken Lands works when the runes of warding are overpowered.
"Next morning he was up early, and out through the twisted-boughed apple orchard to the upper timber-lot where the mouth of the Snake-Den lurked black and forbidding amongst grotesque, overnourished oaks. A nameless expectancy was upon him, and he did not even notice the loss of his handkerchief as he fumbled in his blouse pocket to see if the queer Silver Key was safe. He crawled through the dark orifice with tense, adventurous assurance, lighting his way with matches taken from the sitting-room. In another moment he had wriggled through the root-choked fissure at the farther end, and was in the vast, unknown inner grotto whose ultimate rock wall seemed half like a monstrous and consciously shapen pylon. Before that dank, dripping wall he stood silent and awestruck, lighting one match after another as he gazed. Was that stony bulge above the keystone of the imagined arch really a gigantic sculptured hand? Then he drew forth the Silver Key, and made motions and intonations whose source he could only dimly remember. Was anything forgotten? He knew only that he wished to cross the barrier to the untrammelled land of his dreams and the gulfs where all dimensions dissolve in the absolute. III. What happened then is scarcely to be described in words. It is full of those paradoxes, contradictions, and anomalies which have no place in waking life, but which fill our more fantastic dreams, and are taken as matters of course till we return to our narrow, rigid, objective world of limited causation and tri-dimensional logic. As the Hindoo continued his tale, he had difficulty in avoiding what seemed—even more than the notion of a man transferred through the years to boyhood—an air of trivial, puerile extravagance. Mr. Aspinwall, in disgust, gave an apoplectic snort and virtually stopped listening. For the rite of the Silver Key, as practiced by Randolph Carter in that black, haunted cave within a cave, did not prove unavailing. From the first gesture and syllable an aura of strange, awesome mutation was apparent—a sense of incalculable disturbance and confusion in time and space, yet one which held no hint of what we recognise as motion and duration. Imperceptibly, such things as age and location ceased to have any significance whatever. The day before, Randolph Carter had miraculously leaped a gulf of years. Now there was no distinction between boy and man. There was only the entity Randolph Carter, with a certain store of images which had lost all connexion with terrestrial scenes and circumstances of acquisition. A moment before, there had been an inner cave with vague suggestions of a monstrous arch and gigantic sculptured hand on the farther wall. Now there was neither cave nor absence of cave; neither wall nor absence of wall. There was only a flux of impressions not so much visual as cerebral, amidst which the entity that was Randolph Carter experienced perceptions or registrations of all that his mind revolved on, yet without any clear consciousness of the way in which he received them." - "Through the Gates of the Silver Key"; H.P. Lovecraft >go hidden opening [Monastery, Misty Chamber] A damp mist seems to seep from the very walls of this vast chamber casting the walls in an eerie green pallor. A large round stone stands upright in the center of the room, rotating like a coin that has been stood on edge and spun. The opening at the center of the stone is pitch black and odd runes are engraved around the edge. A low steady hum emanates from the stone, and the sound soothes your tired nerves. You also see a puddle of water. Obvious exits: out >read runes You stand before the runes, open your arms wide in a gesture of invocation, and concentrate on them. After a moment, the room begins to spin, and you suddenly feel disoriented. [The Broken Lands, Chamber] A damp mist seems to seep from the very walls of this vast chamber, casting the walls in an eerie green pallor. A large, round stone stands upright in the center of the room, rotating like a coin that has been stood on edge and spun. The opening at the center of the stone is pitch black and odd runes are engraved around the edge. A low, steady hum emanates from the stone and the sound soothes your tired nerves. Obvious exits: out (Note: This can be interpreted as the exact same room coexistent on another plane of existence. The line about soothing your tired nerves might also refer to Randolph Carter. He is told to not follow down the stairs of a crypt in "The Statement of Randolph Carter" because of having "frail nerves" and being "a bag of nerves".)
Contrast this the other messaging from invoking the runes of warding on the spinning stone, which causes you to gesture and mutter words (but not in the first person view) before disappearing.
XXXXX stands in front of the spinning stone with his arms spread wide. He mutters a few words under his breath and suddenly disappears! There is a high-pitched hum from the stone, and XXXXX suddenly appears in the room! >read rune You focus hard on the runes, but without the proper skill, they soon become a maddening, writhing jumble of markings! You struggle to tear your eyes away, and fall back into a heap on the floor as you do! Roundtime: 5 sec. XXXXX focuses hard on the runes. A look of sheer panic suddenly spreads over her face and she struggles to turn away from them! With a gasp, she falls to the floor, looking rather shaken! >look stone The stone is made from a strange dark rock that you have not seen before. There are runes carved on the stone all around the center opening. The opening is pitch black and you cannot see through it to the other side. >look runes You see nothing unusual. Perhaps you should try reading them.
The Monastery region does not in general lend itself to allegorical interpretation. It is possible there is some other story being referenced with it. The mountain lake outside has a couple of potential hints (other than the waterfall) of reference to "The Silver Key", where Carter is an old man searching for the cave, and "Through the Gates of the Silver Key" where it looks like a "gigantic sculptured hand" points to the gateway. The "tired feet" line may link up with "tired nerves" in the Misty Chamber. See the note above about "The Statement of Randolph Carter" with his frail nerves when he is older and a war veteran.
[Lysierian Hills, Lake Shore] A high cliff runs from east to west, forming the southern edge of the lake. The surrounding forest grows down to within a few feet of the lake shore at this point. There is even one old willow that grows at the very edge of the lake; the gnarled roots of the old tree dipping into the water, reminding you of an old man attempting to cool his tired feet. Obvious paths: north [Lysierian Hills, Forest Trail] The trail here used to split in three directions, but a rockfall blocks what was the southeast path; there appears to be no way around it. A large boulder standing just west of the fork in the trail looks somewhat like a large hand pointing a single finger at the southwest leg of the trail. Obvious paths: northeast, southwest (Note: Near the "root-choked" fissure to the Snake-Den the trees are twisted and grotesque.)
The silver key itself was marked with cryptical arabesques and came out of a fiendish aromatic wooden box with an old parchment containing similar hieroglyph markings. What it does is bring the corporeal body outside of a given space and time into the dimensional extension of Earth. This ultimately leads Carter to a quasi-sphere called the Ultimate Gate, which takes him beyond space and time entirely to encounter a form of the Outer God Yog-Sothoth, the gateway and guardian of forbidden knowledge. Research:The Graveyard suggests Yog-Sothoth as a possible premise for "Kadaena Throk Farok".
"By the time the rite was over Carter knew that he was in no region whose place could be told by earth’s geographers, and in no age whose date history could fix. For the nature of what was happening was not wholly unfamiliar to him. There were hints of it in the cryptical Pnakotic fragments, and a whole chapter in the forbidden Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred had taken on significance when he had deciphered the designs graven on the Silver Key. A gate had been unlocked—not indeed the Ultimate Gate, but one leading from earth and time to that extension of earth which is outside time, and from which in turn the Ultimate Gate leads fearsomely and perilously to the Last Void which is outside all earths, all universes, and all matter." - "Through the Gates of the Silver Key"; H.P. Lovecraft
With the Ultimate Gate as well the Silver Key causes the wielder to instinctively gesture through an unlearned ritual, much as what happens with the Broken Lands portal which corresponds instead to the First Gate. The "quasi-sphere" that acts as the Ultimate Gate is reminiscent of the pulsing crystal dome on the jagged plain. It is not possible to enter this dome any longer without incinerating yourself as the puzzle for turning it off has been removed. The dome is also reminiscent of the hemispheres of the plateau of Leng in the Dreamlands, and Yian-Ho refers to "The Maker of Moons" by Robert Chambers.
"Gradually and mistily it became apparent that the Most Ancient One was holding something—some object clutched in the outflung folds of his robe as if for the sight, or what answered for sight, of the cloaked Companions. It was a large sphere or apparent sphere of some obscurely iridescent metal, and as the Guide put it forward a low, pervasive half-impression of sound began to rise and fall in intervals which seemed to be rhythmic even though they followed no rhythm of earth. There was a suggestion of chanting—or what human imagination might interpret as chanting. Presently the quasi-sphere began to grow luminous, and as it gleamed up into a cold, pulsating light of unassignable colour Carter saw that its flickerings conformed to the alien rhythm of the chant. Then all the mitred, sceptre-bearing Shapes on the pedestals commenced a slight, curious swaying in the same inexplicable rhythm, while nimbuses of unclassifiable light—resembling that of the quasi-sphere—played round their shrouded heads. The Hindoo paused in his tale and looked curiously at the tall, coffin-shaped clock with the four hands and hieroglyphed dial, whose crazy ticking followed no known rhythm of earth. “You, Mr. de Marigny,” he suddenly said to his learned host, “do not need to be told the particular alien rhythm to which those cowled Shapes on the hexagonal pillars chanted and nodded. You are the only one else—in America—who has had a taste of the Outer Extension. That clock—I suppose it was sent you by the Yogi poor Harley Warren used to talk about—the seer who said that he alone of living men had been to Yian-Ho, the hidden legacy of sinister, aeon-old Leng, and had borne certain things away from that dreadful and forbidden city. I wonder how many of its subtler properties you know? If my dreams and readings be correct, it was made by those who knew much of the First Gateway. But let me go on with my tale.” At last, continued the Swami, the swaying and the suggestion of chanting ceased, the lambent nimbuses around the now drooping and motionless heads faded away, while the cloaked Shapes slumped curiously on their pedestals. The quasi-sphere, however, continued to pulsate with inexplicable light. Carter felt that the Ancient Ones were sleeping as they had been when he first saw them, and he wondered out of what cosmic dreams his coming had wakened them. Slowly there filtered into his mind the truth that this strange chanting ritual had been one of instruction, and that the Companions had been chanted by the Most Ancient One into a new and peculiar kind of sleep, in order that their dreams might open the Ultimate Gate to which the Silver Key was a passport. He knew that in the profundity of this deep sleep they were contemplating unplumbed vastnesses of utter and absolute Outsideness with which the earth had nothing to do, and that they were to accomplish that which his presence had demanded." - "Through the Gates of the Silver Key"; H.P. Lovecraft [The Broken Lands, Jagged Plain] A large crystal dome rises above the jumble of huge boulders and jagged rocks, breaking the monotony of the terrain. There is no question in your mind that the dome is man-made and not a natural feature of the area. A dense fog swirls around the base of the dome, and generally obscures your vision. Obvious paths: north, northeast, east, southeast, south, southwest, west, northwest The crystal dome pulses with a dim, multicolored light. >look dome The crystal dome is about 12 feet tall, and some 15 to 20 feet across. The multi-faceted surface is highly polished, and the reflective planes make it impossible to see into the crystal. (Note: It glows brighter and hotter the more mana the crystal dome has absorbed.)
The ultimate point is that the Swami at this family estate hearing is really Randolph Carter himself, but he has to disguise himself because he is no longer human. By travelling through the Ultimate Gate and encountering Yog-Sothoth, he is transferred into another individual of his same person archetype outside of time and space, and brought back through to the planet Yaddith in the distant past. In the process he has possessed the body of a member of a long extinct alien species, and while he has the Silver Key, he does not know the rites or have the writings to send himself back to regain his human form. The alien is a "wizard" and they loathe each other, struggling for consciousness over the body. Eventually Carter keeps him subdued artificially and brings them to the Earth of his own time with the Silver Key.
The relevance this may have for the Broken Lands is thus not only a way of dealing with the time paradoxes, but the issue of fashioning extra-planar entities out of energy and Morgu as "spirit born of death." Research:The Graveyard points out the similarity of part of the spirit death messaging to the description of Carter seeing many other forms of himself in the timeless void. In the context of the death mechanics allegory this could be interpreted as converting "souls" into other kinds of entities. This would be a forbidden "Key of the Void", in Shadow World terms, going around Eissa and Orhan for reincarnation.
There may be other stories with some degree of influence on the Broken Lands, but the evidence for them is more thin than the Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath. Other H.P. Lovecraft stories are an obvious place to search for possibilities. In particular the seemingly impossible combination of time periods in the Dark Shrine poem is itself a Lovecraftian motif. He uses impossibly old things in anachronistic settings sometimes, or with information that should not have been known to the creator, as a twist in a number of stories. So-called "Lovecraft Circle" authors, such as Clark Ashton Smith, might also be relevant.
(1) The Statement of Randolph Carter
"The Statement of Randolph Carter" is the first published Randolph Carter story, but is set when he is middle aged, prior to the events of "The Silver Key". Like "The Silver Key" and "Through the Gates of the Silver Key" it mentions "oblivion", a peaceful afterlife of nothingness in Lovecraft's Dream Cycle, which is illustrated in his prose poem "Ex Oblivione". Research:The Graveyard argues Lovecraft's Oblivion is the basis of the old "lost to the demonic" messaging, playing off the Gates of Oblivion of Eissa located in her forest-garden on Orhan. The Broken Lands may be making a dark mirror out of Charôn.
The removal of the slab revealed a black aperture, from which rushed an effluence of miasmal gases so nauseous that we started back in horror. After an interval, however, we approached the pit again, and found the exhalations less unbearable. Our lanterns disclosed the top of a flight of stone steps, dripping with some detestable ichor of the inner earth, and bordered by moist walls encrusted with nitre. And now for the first time my memory records verbal discourse, Warren addressing me at length in his mellow tenor voice; a voice singularly unperturbed by our awesome surroundings. “I’m sorry to have to ask you to stay on the surface,” he said, “but it would be a crime to let anyone with your frail nerves go down there. You can’t imagine, even from what you have read and from what I’ve told you, the things I shall have to see and do. It’s fiendish work, Carter, and I doubt if any man without ironclad sensibilities could ever see it through and come up alive and sane. I don’t wish to offend you, and heaven knows I’d be glad enough to have you with me; but the responsibility is in a certain sense mine, and I couldn’t drag a bundle of nerves like you down to probable death or madness. I tell you, you can’t imagine what the thing is really like! But I promise to keep you informed over the telephone of every move—you see I’ve enough wire here to reach to the centre of the earth and back!” I can still hear, in memory, those coolly spoken words; and I can still remember my remonstrances. I seemed desperately anxious to accompany my friend into those sepulchral depths, yet he proved inflexibly obdurate. At one time he threatened to abandon the expedition if I remained insistent; a threat which proved effective, since he alone held the key to the thing. All this I can still remember, though I no longer know what manner of thing we sought. After he had secured my reluctant acquiescence in his design, Warren picked up the reel of wire and adjusted the instruments. At his nod I took one of the latter and seated myself upon an aged, discoloured gravestone close by the newly uncovered aperture. Then he shook my hand, shouldered the coil of wire, and disappeared within that indescribable ossuary. For a moment I kept sight of the glow of his lantern, and heard the rustle of the wire as he laid it down after him; but the glow soon disappeared abruptly, as if a turn in the stone staircase had been encountered, and the sound died away almost as quickly. I was alone, yet bound to the unknown depths by those magic strands whose insulated surface lay green beneath the struggling beams of that waning crescent moon. - "The Statement of Randolph Carter"; H.P. Lovecraft
This is Harley Warren warning Randolph Carter to not follow him down a sepulcher in an ancient cemetery. It might be an inspiration for the hidden spiral stone stairs in the Monastery, which leads to the deeper monastery. Through the hidden opening is the misty chamber, which is described as soothing your tired nerves. These are conceivably both taken from the same part of this Carter story.
[Monastery, Spiral Stair] A spiral stair has been carved from the stone here. You cannot see very far down the stair since the sharp curve of the steps quickly leads down and around, out of the line of sight. The walls are smooth and featureless, and the steps are narrow and deep. A light sheen of moisture covers everything here, making the stairs look somewhat risky. You also see a door. Obvious exits: down [Monastery, Landing] A steep spiral stair rises from the landing here, the steps slick with moisture that has condensed there. Opposite the stair, a broad low arch opens onto a larger chamber to the south. The stones surrounding the arch have been carved with symbols and images significant to the followers of Kai. Obvious exits: south, up [Monastery, Misty Chamber] A damp mist seems to seep from the very walls of this vast chamber casting the walls in an eerie green pallor. A large round stone stands upright in the center of the room, rotating like a coin that has been stood on edge and spun. The opening at the center of the stone is pitch black and odd runes are engraved around the edge. A low steady hum emanates from the stone, and the sound soothes your tired nerves. You also see a puddle of water. Obvious exits: out
(2) The Dreams in the Witch House
"The Dreams in the Witch House" is outside the Dream Cycle and not a Randolph Carter story, but it is a dream walking story into other dimensions and worlds. With "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath" it shares the premise of Nyarlathotep himself appearing, though not in his pharaoh manifestation, and threatening to bring the protagonist to the ultimate Chaos of Azathoth at the center of the universe.
"The dreams were meanwhile getting to be atrocious. In the lighter preliminary phase the evil old woman was now of fiendish distinctness, and Gilman knew she was the one who had frightened him in the slums. Her bent back, long nose, and shrivelled chin were unmistakable, and her shapeless brown garments were like those he remembered. The expression on her face was one of hideous malevolence and exultation, and when he awaked he could recall a croaking voice that persuaded and threatened. He must meet the Black Man, and go with them all to the throne of Azathoth at the centre of ultimate Chaos. That was what she said. He must sign in his own blood the book of Azathoth and take a new secret name now that his independent delvings had gone so far. What kept him from going with her and Brown Jenkin and the other to the throne of Chaos where the thin flutes pipe mindlessly was the fact that he had seen the name “Azathoth” in the Necronomicon, and knew it stood for a primal evil too horrible for description." - "The Dreams in the Witch House"; H.P. Lovecraft
This story is a possible Lovecraft root for other terrain and entity features which are poorly accounted for by the Randolph Carter stories. The crystal forest, swirling fog, and mud might come from it.
"During the night of April 19–20 the new development occurred. Gilman was half-involuntarily moving about in the twilight abysses with the bubble-mass and the small polyhedron floating ahead, when he noticed the peculiarly regular angles formed by the edges of some gigantic neighbouring prism-clusters. In another second he was out of the abyss and standing tremulously on a rocky hillside bathed in intense, diffused green light. He was barefooted and in his night-clothes, and when he tried to walk discovered that he could scarcely lift his feet. A swirling vapour hid everything but the immediate sloping terrain from sight, and he shrank from the thought of the sounds that might surge out of that vapour." - "The Dreams in the Witch House"; H.P. Lovecraft >e You carefully make your way through the rocks and boulders... Roundtime: 3 sec. [The Broken Lands, Jagged Plain] The dense tangle of wildly growing crystals to the east presents a formidable barrier. While travel through the rocks and boulders of the jagged plains is difficult, trying to make your way through the sharp outcroppings of the crystal forest would be deadly. Obvious paths: south, west, northwest, southwest. [The Broken Lands, Jagged Plain] A large crystal dome rises above the jumble of huge boulders and jagged rocks, breaking the monotony of the terrain. There is no question in your mind that the dome is man-made and not a natural feature of the area. A dense fog swirls around the base of the dome, and generally obscures your vision. Obvious paths: north, northeast, east, southeast, south, southwest, west, northwest
If this story was used it might provide a better candidate than the "vortices of cold wind" on Kadath for the "dark vorteces" or "dyar rakul." Here the ultimate Chaos where Carter was being brought at the end of the Dream-Quest is said to be made up of "spiral black vortices". This is exactly what a dark vortece looks like, more so than a Nycorac or a Blacar from Rolemaster. This section also mentions Gilman visiting a city of the Elder Things, which are features in stories such as "At The Mountains Of Madness", where Antarctica is supposed to have material world versions of Kadath and the plateau of Leng.
"In his dream-delirium Gilman heard the hellish, alien-rhythmed chant of the Sabbat coming from an infinite distance, and knew the black man must be there. Confused memories mixed themselves with his mathematics, and he believed his subconscious mind held the angles which he needed to guide him back to the normal world—alone and unaided for the first time. He felt sure he was in the immemorially sealed loft above his own room, but whether he could ever escape through the slanting floor or the long-stopped egress he doubted greatly. Besides, would not an escape from a dream-loft bring him merely into a dream-house—an abnormal projection of the actual place he sought? He was wholly bewildered as to the relation betwixt dream and reality in all his experiences. The passage through the vague abysses would be frightful, for the Walpurgis-rhythm would be vibrating, and at last he would have to hear that hitherto veiled cosmic pulsing which he so mortally dreaded. Even now he could detect a low, monstrous shaking whose tempo he suspected all too well. At Sabbat-time it always mounted and reached through to the worlds to summon the initiate to nameless rites. Half the chants of the Sabbat were patterned on this faintly overheard pulsing which no earthly ear could endure in its unveiled spatial fulness. Gilman wondered, too, whether he could trust his instinct to take him back to the right part of space. How could he be sure he would not land on that green-litten hillside of a far planet, on the tessellated terrace above the city of tentacled monsters somewhere beyond the galaxy, or in the spiral black vortices of that ultimate void of Chaos wherein reigns the mindless daemon-sultan Azathoth? Just before he made the plunge the violet light went out and left him in utter blackness. The witch—old Keziah—Nahab—that must have meant her death. And mixed with the distant chant of the Sabbat and the whimpers of Brown Jenkin in the gulf below he thought he heard another and wilder whine from unknown depths. Joe Mazurewicz—the prayers against the Crawling Chaos now turning to an inexplicably triumphant shriek—worlds of sardonic actuality impinging on vortices of febrile dream—Iä! Shub-Niggurath! The Goat with a Thousand Young." - "The Dreams in the Witch House"; H.P. Lovecraft
Brown Jenkins is a "rat-like" familiar of the witch who serves "the black man" Nyarlathotep. This might explain allegorically why there are mice bones in the Deep Pit of the Dark Grotto. The story might also provide in this section a basis for the sea of mud, which is arguably consistent with interpreting it as Hoard (transdimensional mud monsters who can merge and split themselves) in Rolemaster terms.
"Ahead was the robed black man he had seen in the peaked space in the other dream, while from a lesser distance the old woman was beckoning and grimacing imperiously. Brown Jenkin was rubbing itself with a kind of affectionate playfulness around the ankles of the black man, which the deep mud largely concealed. There was a dark open doorway on the right, to which the black man silently pointed. Into this the grimacing crone started, dragging Gilman after her by his pajama sleeve. There were evil-smelling staircases which creaked ominously, and on which the old woman seemed to radiate a faint violet light; and finally a door leading off a landing. The crone fumbled with the latch and pushed the door open, motioning to Gilman to wait and disappearing inside the black aperture. The youth’s oversensitive ears caught a hideous strangled cry, and presently the beldame came out of the room bearing a small, senseless form which she thrust at the dreamer as if ordering him to carry it. The sight of this form, and the expression on its face, broke the spell. Still too dazed to cry out, he plunged recklessly down the noisome staircase and into the mud outside; halting only when seized and choked by the waiting black man. As consciousness departed he heard the faint, shrill tittering of the fanged, rat-like abnormality. On the morning of the 29th Gilman awaked into a maelstrom of horror. The instant he opened his eyes he knew something was terribly wrong, for he was back in his old garret room with the slanting wall and ceiling, sprawled on the now unmade bed. His throat was aching inexplicably, and as he struggled to a sitting posture he saw with growing fright that his feet and pajama-bottoms were brown with caked mud. For the moment his recollections were hopelessly hazy, but he knew at least that he must have been sleep-walking. Elwood had been lost too deeply in slumber to hear and stop him. On the floor were confused muddy prints, but oddly enough they did not extend all the way to the door. The more Gilman looked at them, the more peculiar they seemed; for in addition to those he could recognise as his there were some smaller, almost round markings—such as the legs of a large chair or table might make, except that most of them tended to be divided into halves. There were also some curious muddy rat-tracks leading out of a fresh hole and back into it again. Utter bewilderment and the fear of madness racked Gilman as he staggered to the door and saw that there were no muddy prints outside. The more he remembered of his hideous dream the more terrified he felt, and it added to his desperation to hear Joe Mazurewicz chanting mournfully two floors below." - "The Dreams in the Witch House"; H.P. Lovecraft [The Broken Lands, Jagged Plain] A huge sea of boiling mud stretches out to the south and east. Steam rises off the churning mass, choking the air with a dense, malodorous fog. Obvious paths: north, west, northwest, southwest.
(3) The Shadow out of Time
"The Shadow out of Time" is not a Randolph Carter or Dream Cycle story, but Research:The Graveyard argues the behavior of Bandur Etrevion may come from it. Similar to "Through the Gates of the Silver Key" it involves the minds of alien races occupying bodies at very distant points of time and remembering events that have not happened yet. The twist in this story is that the narrator explores ruins that are millions of years old and discovers text written in his own language and handwriting. This is potentially relevant to the seemingly impossible combination of time periods in the Dark Shrine inscription.
"I have said that the awful truth behind my tortured years of dreaming hinges absolutely upon the actuality of what I thought I saw in those Cyclopean buried ruins. It has been hard for me literally to set down the crucial revelation, though no reader can have failed to guess it. Of course it lay in that book within the metal case—the case which I pried out of its forgotten lair amidst the undisturbed dust of a million centuries. No eye had seen, no hand had touched that book since the advent of man to this planet. And yet, when I flashed my torch upon it in that frightful megalithic abyss, I saw that the queerly pigmented letters on the brittle, aeon-browned cellulose pages were not indeed any nameless hieroglyphs of earth’s youth. They were, instead, the letters of our familiar alphabet, spelling out the words of the English language in my own handwriting." - "The Shadow out of Time"; H.P. Lovecraft
More specifically, it involves the ancient and highly advanced telepathic race (like the Lords of Essaence in that way) who created the Pnakotic Manuscripts, which is able to escape its own death by swapping its consciousness with members of other races who do not exist yet. One of these is a civilization of beetles that will rule after the fall of mankind. This is possibly a root for the giant fog beetles.
"What was hinted in the speech of post-human entities of the fate of mankind produced such an effect on me that I will not set it down here. After man there would be the mighty beetle civilisation, the bodies of whose members the cream of the Great Race would seize when the monstrous doom overtook the elder world. Later, as the earth’s span closed, the transferred minds would again migrate through time and space—to another stopping-place in the bodies of the bulbous vegetable entities of Mercury. But there would be races after them, clinging pathetically to the cold planet and burrowing to its horror-filled core, before the utter end." "It was evident that the coming doom so desperately feared by the Great Race—the doom that was one day to send millions of keen minds across the chasm of time to strange bodies in the safer future—had to do with a final successful irruption of the Elder Beings. Mental projections down the ages had clearly foretold such a horror, and the Great Race had resolved that none who could escape should face it. That the foray would be a matter of vengeance, rather than an attempt to reoccupy the outer world, they knew from the planet’s later history—for their projections shewed the coming and going of subsequent races untroubled by the monstrous entities. Perhaps these entities had come to prefer earth’s inner abysses to the variable, storm-ravaged surface, since light meant nothing to them. Perhaps, too, they were slowly weakening with the aeons. Indeed, it was known that they would be quite dead in the time of the post-human beetle race which the fleeing minds would tenant. Meanwhile the Great Race maintained its cautious vigilance, with potent weapons ceaselessly ready despite the horrified banishing of the subject from common speech and visible records. And always the shadow of nameless fear hung about the sealed trap-doors and the dark, windowless elder towers." - "The Shadow out of Time"; H.P. Lovecraft
This is the Great Race of Yith. The doom they are escaping involves the Elder Things from "At The Mountains Of Madness", who were themselves destroyed by the shoggoths they created.
(4) Fungi from Yuggoth
"Fungi from Yuggoth" is a sequence of a few dozen sonnets that Lovecraft wrote which mentions elements from other stories that clearly do matter to the Broken Lands. It is a man who finds a strange book and accesses parallel realities and other worlds with it using his mind. The first point of interest is the night-gaunts section, which describes their practice of swooping down over the Peaks of Thok. What is interesting here is that we see a "foul lake" with shoggoths splashing in them. Shoggoths were not mentioned in the Dream-Quest, but they are blob monsters who basically resemble the magru.
XX. Night-Gaunts Out of what crypt they crawl, I cannot tell, But every night I see the rubbery things, Black, horned, and slender, with membraneous wings, And tails that bear the bifid barb of hell. They come in legions on the north wind’s swell, With obscene clutch that titillates and stings, Snatching me off on monstrous voyagings To grey worlds hidden deep in nightmare’s well. Over the jagged peaks of Thok they sweep, Heedless of all the cries I try to make, And down the nether pits to that foul lake Where the puffed shoggoths splash in doubtful sleep. But oh! If only they would make some sound, Or wear a face where faces should be found! - "Fungi from Yuggoth"; H.P. Lovecraft [Dark Grotto, Cavern] A single huge stalactite descends from the ceiling at the center of this small cavern. The uneven walls of the cavern have been worn smooth, as have the walls of the small tunnels leading into the cavern. Every minute or so, the intense quiet of the cavern is shattered by the sound of a single drop of water, falling from the tip of the stalactite into a small pool that has collected in a depression at the center of the cavern. Obvious exits: northwest, southeast, southwest. >look pool The small pool lies in the center of the cavern, a few feet below the tip of the huge stalactite that descends from the ceiling of the cavern. >l stalactite The stalactite is formed from grey stone with pink and orange striations. The stone has an almost translucent quality with a waxy appearance. >look in pool In the small pool you see some water. >l water The water is clear, with a slightly sulfurous odor.
Yuggoth is taken to be Lovecraft's name for Pluto because of "The Whisperer in the Darkness", which in his time had no discovered moons. It is said that these "peaks of Thok" are actually in the material world on a moon of Yuggoth, though Lovecraft is arguably only feeling free to be inconsistent between stories. In the time the Broken Lands was made the only known moon of Pluto was Charon. However, this is probably a coincidence, reading too much into it. The poem follows the thread to have Nyarlathotep guide the narrator to the daemon-sultan Azathoth, possibly motivating vruul with dark vorteces.
XXI. Nyarlathotep And at the last from inner Egypt came The strange dark One to whom the fellahs bowed; Silent and lean and cryptically proud, And wrapped in fabrics red as sunset flame. Throngs pressed around, frantic for his commands, But leaving, could not tell what they had heard; While through the nations spread the awestruck word That wild beasts followed him and licked his hands. Soon from the sea a noxious birth began; Forgotten lands with weedy spires of gold; The ground was cleft, and mad auroras rolled Down on the quaking citadels of man. Then, crushing what he chanced to mould in play, The idiot Chaos blew Earth’s dust away. XXII. Azathoth Out in the mindless void the daemon bore me, Past the bright clusters of dimensioned space, Till neither time nor matter stretched before me, But only Chaos, without form or place. Here the vast Lord of All in darkness muttered Things he had dreamed but could not understand, While near him shapeless bat-things flopped and fluttered In idiot vortices that ray-streams fanned. They danced insanely to the high, thin whining Of a cracked flute clutched in a monstrous paw, Whence flow the aimless waves whose chance combining Gives each frail cosmos its eternal law. “I am His Messenger,” the daemon said, As in contempt he struck his Master’s head.
This provides a much more direct explanation than the moon-beasts for the Dark Shrine's altar room with the toad brazier and cracked gong.
XXV. St. Toad’s “Beware St. Toad’s cracked chimes!” I heard him scream As I plunged into those mad lanes that wind In labyrinths obscure and undefined South of the river where old centuries dream. He was a furtive figure, bent and ragged, And in a flash had staggered out of sight, So still I burrowed onward in the night Toward where more roof-lines rose, malign and jagged. No guide-book told of what was lurking here— But now I heard another old man shriek: “Beware St.Toad’s cracked chimes!” And growing weak, I paused, when a third greybeard croaked in fear: “Beware St. Toad’s cracked chimes!” Aghast, I fled— Till suddenly that black spire loomed ahead. - "Fungi from Yuggoth"; H.P. Lovecraft [Dark Shrine, Altar] The low stone altar is covered with dark stains. One corner of the altar has been broken off, and several of the hideous faces and figures carved into the stone walls have been smashed. Large iron braziers, covered with rust and corrosion, stand at each end of the altar table. A cracked brass gong hangs from a wooden brace along the north wall, facing an ancient tapestry which hangs directly opposite. Obvious exits: west. >look brazier The brazier has been fashioned in the shape of a huge toad, face upturned with mouth wide open to form the basin of the brazier.
Sonnet XII refers to "The Dreams in the Witch House", Sonnet XV refers to the city of the Elder Things in "At The Mountains Of Madness", Sonnet XXVI refers to "The Dunwich Horror", and Sonnet XXVII refers to the High Priest Not To Be Named on the plateau of Leng. He is the last living "Elder One" in the sonnet, sometimes interpreted to be Hastur from Robert Chambers' "The King in Yellow".
While the Broken Lands is commonly taken to be "The Moon" of the Dark Gods for some obvious reasons, this is somewhat dubious and seemingly contradicted by the Uthex Kathiasas story itself. It might be interpreted as a huge underground cavern of Charôn with a subterranean mountain range, or it might be interpreted as one of the parallel worlds that was accessed from the Charôn portals, perhaps even Charôn as it exists in another reality. Charôn is a gate-world hovering on the boundary of other realities. There are several possibilities that could be considered plausible and it is not obvious which is right.
"The Moon" is the most likely location because of parsimony. Charôn is most likely a large asteroid that was captured long ago, similar in size to the largest ones in the real world asteroid belt. It is a little more than half the size of Pluto's moon Charon, which is named after the mythological ferryman of the Greek Underworld. This is the rest of the text from the first edition of the Master Atlas. It implies that there would be very little gravity, but does not actually say it. The other text includes the premise that beneath "the shining icy surface are myriad caves and tunnels - hiding places for the unspeakable."
"Charôn circles Kulthea at 190,000 miles (note that it is also inside the orbit of Orhan) and is quite small: 350 miles in diameter. It is a featureless rock ball with a silvery grey appearance. An interesting aspect of Charôn is its polar orbit. This is quite an unusual situation and suggests that Charôn was not always a satellite of Kulthea. It may have once been a large, stray asteroid caught in the Shadow World's gravity well, or some body from outside the system. Because of Charôn's unusual orbit, it and Orhan rarely conjunct; fortunate considering the tidal and meteorological disruptions, and the strange and bizarre Essence aberrations which occur during those periods." - Shadow World Master Atlas, 1st Edition (1989); page 17 - Shadow World Master Atlas, 2nd Edition (1992); page 20 - Tomes of Kulthea #1046
The Master Atlas Addendum (1990) elaborates this further. The surface of Charôn is covered in thick ice and has no atmosphere whatsoever. There is so little gravity that there is "almost no perceptible 'up' or 'down'" when underground. This violently contradicts the idea that the Broken Lands is the surface of Charôn. The internal volcanic heating creating a "(barely) livable environment" in the caves and tunnels, whether from tidal heating or some aberration of its nature, is potentially consistent with the Broken Lands being underground. This might be implied by the Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath parallel.
However, this would require the existence of abnormal gravity, whether through aberrant magical reasons or artificially, since the Lords of Essaence were extremely technologically advanced. It is possible this may have been explained once by the crystal dome puzzle, especially if there was a control room when phased into while powered off. But on face value the gravity and air are serious inconsistencies.
"The surface of Charôn is a frozen waste; there is no atmosphere, and the exterior is encased in a solid coating of ice which Kulthean Astrologers think to be as much as hundreds of feet thick. But under that coating of ice, Charôn is heated from within by volcanic forces, creating a (barely) livable environment in the thousands of caves and tunnels. It is here that the Dark Gods survive. The Third Moon is a sphere 350 miles in diameter. Even though it has a massive core, it only has enough gravity to barely maintain a small hold on objects. Thus, the caverns and warrens have the added disorientation of there being almost no perceptible 'up' or 'down'. Any poor unfortunates who are transported suddenly to Charôn will find themselves in a totally alien world. The caverns of Charôn are populated by all manner of monstrous creatures, awful travesties of life summoned to guard the passages of the Third Moon. GM Note: See Parts IV & V (Demons) for details of lesser creatures who might be lurking in the corridors of Charôn." - Shadow World Master Atlas Addendum (1990); page 37 (Note: The Master Atlas, 2nd Edition (1992), page 113, adds that the frozen ice might be carbon dioxide, and changes the GM note at the end to "See Demons of the Pale for details of lesser creatures who might be lurking in the corridors of Charôn." This edits out the typo where Part V is Kadaena's constructs, which was probably supposed to be Parts III & IV, the Demons of the Essaence and Void. It is specified on page 76 that they are "related" to the Dark Lords of Charôn, which is on page 23 of the Master Atlas Addendum. This is somewhat strange because both books, page 7 in the Addendum and page 29 on the Atlas 2nd Edition, have the Dark Gods originating in the essaence Chaos planes rather than the Void. Meanwhile the Demons of the Essaence from the Chaos Planes are left unmentioned.)
The repeated use of stalactites and stalagmites in the Broken Lands indicates the melting of ice by volcanic heat. This is very directly implied by the boiling sea of mud which is prone to geyser eruptions next to the ice slopes. However, the mountain range is depicted from the Dark Shrine as snow covered, which is still strange for a place without weather. It is presumably supposed to be precipitated steam. The crystal dome itself may be reference to the "powerful crystals" used by the Lords of Essaence to open and close portals on Charôn in the First Era. It is almost certainly supposed to be a Lord of Essaence artifact. It may even be a Lord of Essaence "speaking crystal", essentially, an Iruaric voice interface for a deep underground vault, with the surrounding crystals being the major part of its mechanism.
[Dark Shrine, Large Chamber] Like a huge pair of eyes, two large, round windows look out over the eerie rough terrain far below. The openings look out on a panorama of rocky desolation. Huge, jagged mountains rise up all around, snow capped peaks high above ice covered slopes, strewn with large boulders. The cold wind that blows in through the openings bears as much desolation as the view. There is no scent of green trees and running sap, no odor of wildlife rising from the slopes outside. Obvious exits: east.
The terrain seems inconsistent with the canon description of Charôn for the Broken Lands to be a vault covering part of the surface of Charôn. If this were the intent, the meteor swarm by Loremaster Kulfair would have exposed the interior, allowing the air to escape into the vacuum. One might conjecture a force field went into effect to patch the hole, but rocks still fall from above onto the jagged plain below. This makes more sense as an occasional rock falling from a damaged cavern roof than regular meteors strikes. However, GemStone III is still its own instance, and it may simply be non-canonical in this way.
You hear a loud rushing sound from the sky above you, and you look up just in time to see a huge chunk of rock hurtling toward you at incredible speed! You try to dodge out of the way, but before you can move more than a few inches, the massive stone crashes into you, knocking you to the ground and causing serious injury! ... 10 points of damage! Bones in left arm crack. A huge geyser of boilng water and mud erupts from the sea of mud nearby! Before you can react, a torrent of the steaming sludge comes raining down on you! You are injured by the boiling hot sludge! ... 10 points of damage! Burst of flames to right leg burns skin bright red. A torrent of thick sludge suddenly comes raining down on you! After a brief moment of surprise, you realize that the stuff is boiling hot! You are injured by the boiling hot sludge! ... 5 points of damage! Minor burns to right leg. That hurts a bit. >look up You can't see the sky from here. (Note: If this were a huge dome on the surface of Charôn, the hundreds of feet of ice would presumably be melted by surface volcanism, making the boiling sea of mud. Ignoring whether this is actually plausible for an asteroid. But Kygar would be ignoring Master Atlas, 2nd Edition (1992), which says it is "possibly" frozen carbon dioxide.)
The primary appeal of interpreting the Broken Lands as Charôn is the existence of the Dark Shrine and the use of Charôn in the puzzle to reach the jagged plain. Naively, we would expect the Dark Shrine to have been used by Morgu himself in the Second Era, along with the servants of the Unlife who reside under Charôn. The huge rubble on the jagged plain would be from a cave in of the roof caused by the meteor swarm. But this is not as obvious as it sounds. The Dark Shrine is playing at a relationship Morgu had with the Lords of Essaence, even Kadaena herself, over one hundred thousand years ago.
They first appeared on Charôn in the Second Era through ancient Lord of Essaence portals to other planes of existence, so the mere association of Dark Gods or Charôn is insufficient for assuming it actually is Charôn. There are obvious questions to be asked, such as if this is Charôn in the Third Era, where are the Dark Gods? Where is Morgu? Why is there no "Guardian" at this portal established by the Lords of Orhan? The most serious issue of all is that the Uthex story calls it a natural gate to another plane of existence. Interpreting the Broken Lands as Charôn requires bending over backwards, trying to read that as Uthex misinterpreted it as such or was misled to that effect, but only until later when he made the secret passageway to the jagged plain and somehow not knowing anything about the Dark Shrine at first.
The strongest point in favor of interpreting the Broken Lands as another plane of existence is that the background history for it called it "a small and remote natural gate leading to another plane of existence." This contradicts the idea that it is a Lord of Essaence style Portal on Charôn itself. In the Shadow World context the sense in this is that the Dark Gods came to this universe from other planes in the Second Era. If it is indeed merely some Charôn associated realm, but not Charôn itself, the absence of the Dark Gods is self-explanatory. They were banished to Charôn, the Black Hel, or otherwise imprisoned.
In the allegorical sense this is supported by interpreting the misty chamber portal messaging as a reference to the cave of the silver key in Lovecraft's "Through the Gates of the Silver Key". Rather than interpret the parallel to the Underworld of "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath" as a metaphor for being below Charôn, it takes the allusion more literally, being an associated "dreamland" plane that may even be Charôn as it exists in one of the parallel material realities. If this interpretation were taken even further (e.g. with the vaults of Zin or plateau of Leng) it may overlap or "coexist" with Charôn.
The entities of the Broken Lands, including the crystal forest and the sea of mud, may be Rolemaster non-demonic other standard extraplanar entities. This class is notorious for either wandering between realities at will, or existing simultaneously in multiple places and realities or even times. This is consistent with a "coexistent" or isles of transfer kind of interpretation, where the "broken land" would be a convergence of worlds not unlike the Elemental Confluence in the post-ICE setting. But the presence of extraplanar entities wandering through gateways is also consistent with subterranean Charôn. They are mutually consistent with the Curse of Kabis interpretation of a "prison plane" coexistent with Charôn. This last case would similarly explain the absence of the Dark Gods, but raises different question marks.
The Sheruvian Monastery was introduced after the I.C.E. Age by a different GM, and does not necessarily have any continuity with the original concept. Its use of vaalin, krodera, and veil iron are probably leaning on the Shadow World lore that those were the most rare alloys, since the contemporary metals documentation did not exist until 2001. Vaalin in particular was materially important, because vaanum was only known to exist on Charôn, so it is probably meant to imply Lornon. There was some early intent on developing other areas there related to the Dark Gods in what would have been Lornon.
In the release event for the Cleric self-resurrection spell Miracle (350), Uthex "Kalthiasas" was retconned to be a Sage of the Order of Lorekeepers. The Broken Lands was treated as being Lornon in that story. Self-resurrection is not entirely inconsistent with the argument in the Death section. But there was no pantheon of neutrality originally, and Dark Gods could not channel resurrection spells.
Sage Uthex's Studies Lead To Miracles Posted on 12/09/2007 04:07 PM CST by the Webstaff Sage Uthex Kalthiasas was a powerful and dangerous man, his works both feared and respected. When fellow Sages discovered how corrupt his strange studies on the distant moon became, they realized that he must be stopped. An expedition was led to bring to wayward, misguided Sage back to the Order so that his workings could harm none, but when they arrived upon the Broken Lands, he had slipped away. His studies, tomes, scattered notes, and wild diagrams were confiscated and scattered among the various houses of the Order of the Lorekeepers until a time could come when their purposes could be discerned, and their ability to harm could be either exposed or destroyed. Unfortunately, Sage Uthex did not survive long enough to share any of the knowledge that he had left half written and encoded within his studies. Years later, half the globe apart from each other, two colleagues of the Order of the Lorekeepers began a correspondence regarding some of Sage Uthex’s work. Knowing it only by the name Miracle, the two delved deep into his studies to try to find the promise only briefly mentioned in the Sage’s works. Traveling from Nydds with the ritual needs close at hand, Sage Estrello journeyed through the empire and to the seaport of Solhaven. He searched of those that would support him in his quest to obtain details of the Broken Lands and those strong enough to accomplish the ritual. Simultaneously, his colleague Sureshi ventured forth from Atan Irith into the Elven Nations where she tried desperately to translate the final passage of one of Sage Uthex’s tomes. In her travels she gathered lore from the locals and searched to find what information she could about the Broken Lands. Both Sages requested the aid of all clerics that could help them, but greatly cautioned that others not alert the Sheruvians. They explained that the Sheruvians had been hiding a secret chamber in hopes of releasing the mysterious magic for themselves, but upon finding that they couldn’t had sealed it away from all other’s use. On the seventh day of Eorgaen, the Sages each performed the last leg of their journey and met for the first time face to face in the Landing, their volunteers gathered around them. They spoke briefly, but hurried to the Sheruvian Monastery in the Broken Lands and wandered the area for a time searching for the proper location of the hidden chamber. As soon as the Sheruvians discovered what their goal was, they began to attack the party at every turn. The chambers were found, each with pools lined in hues to match the three pantheons of the Arkati--grey, black, and white. Clerics were urged to step forward and take their place within the pools and instantly they became linked to the pools they stepped in. The requirements were met by the three pantheons and mana was infused into the pools where it quickly spiraled to the glaes dome above. All around the chamber, battle broke out and several rose to the occasion to help stave off the attackers. Eventually, the magic was fed enough mana to release the spell and clerics across the globe felt a sudden deep understanding to their calling. The joy was short lived as the magic released by the dome caused it to shatter and the chamber began to fall around the Sages and their volunteers. Fighting their way clear of the chamber, several fell but the power of the Miracle was discovered by those clerics that were strong enough to tap into it. Sage Sureshi was among those that fell, and when she beseeched the divine for aid they answered her by drawing her back into life. The ritual was a success.