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 after the fact 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 (Note: These are Second Era dates. There is a 100,000 year Interregnum between the First Era negative dates and these dates.)
"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.
This research page is typically speaking of Empress Kadaena as having been dead, which is to say not an active power or force of darkness, since the First Era which was over 100,000 years before the Wars of Dominion. The paradoxes of this issue go away if the Dark Gods are actually "ascended" Lords of Essaence, which would effectively mean Iruaric is still their native language, and it is written in alphabetic form in the Second Era. The difficulty is that the Shadow World context and the Lovecraft subtexts allow the issue to be resolved either with time travel or prophetic powers. It would raise the question of why Kadaena, the Dark Queen, is not mentioned in the Temple of Darkness poem. The simplest explanation for that would be to assume she is actually Orgiana, and that they are really a "dead" goddess.
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 & Treasures 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 Wars of Dominion were a 375 year conflict against civilization by the Dark Lords of Charôn and the forces of the Unlife. In the 1989 books before the former were defined, the latter were sometimes characterized as servants of (the long dead) Kadaena. It was fought against by the Loremasters, the Titans of Emer, and eventually the Lords of Orhan themselves. In the Shadow World Master Atlas Addendum (1990) it is strongly implied that the Lords of Orhan did not intervene until near the very end, though the intervention begins several decades earlier in later Shadow World books.
When taken on face value the presence of an Iruaric inscription describing the Dark Gods using a Second Era alphabet, with a place seemingly associated with Charôn or Charôn itself, would lend itself to the interpretation that "the forces of the Unlife" include surviving followers of Empress Kadaena. There are passages in the 1989 books supporting it. These would be working with the Dark Lords in the build up to the Wars of Dominion. The more complex issues come from the close reading of what the inscription means, as it is insinuating a relationship between them and Kadaena herself in the Second Era.
"Without fanfare beyond a silvery luminescence, a presence materialized between me and Scalu. Golden skin bare but for a tunic of azure, a simple youth bearing only a spear had appeared to stand before the Dark God. Before the youth ,the Jackal halted, and his mouth opened in a human exclamation of surprise. "Cay!" And even as the youth seemed to grow in size to match Scalu in height, he held aloft his his gleaming spear and spoke with a voice like music, yet it carried over the tumult: "Take heart, people of Kulthea! Orhan has joined the fray!" And I took heart, for at last the very heavens had come to our aid." "The Battle of Meagris" SE 6825 Andraax The Wars of Dominion, Vol 7 (The last days of the Second Era) - Shadow World Master Atlas Addendum (1990); page 9 (Note: The typos are in the original. Scalu really is described as the Jackal, in spite of having a hyena head in his ICE form.)
The Lords of Orhan are more powerful than the Dark Gods individually and would be able to isolate and overpower the individual Dark Gods. In the earlier Demons of the Burning Night (1989) book they intervened out of anger at the Black Hel pantheon. Some of the Black Hel gods were destroyed utterly, some banished to the Black Hel, and a few were imprisoned in meteoric eog (ora) by Iorak (Eonak).
Unfortunately, this book has that happening during the Wars of Dominion but in the year 6200 Second Era which was before the Wars of Dominion, so there is no canonical date for this event that makes sense. It is mostly important for making sense of the Temple of Darkness Poem. The stated "theme" of the Broken Lands is the Dark Gods working with the Unlife during the Wars of Dominion. So it is important to try to figure out the chronology of things in the Broken Lands. What was there in the First Era? What was there when the dark priests arrived? What was there when Uthex arrived? What was not there until after the portal was warded by the Loremasters? Is there a way for this to make sense without having to assume the kinds of time travel or prophecy implied by the Lovecraft parallels?
The Dark Path
The Dark Path is the theocracy of Empress Kadaena that was established and ruled by Bandur Etrevion of The Graveyard. This was established at some point during the early years of the Wars of Dominion, which took place between the years 6450 and 6825 Second Era. The original version of the Uthex Kathiasas story has Uthex slain by his fellow Loremasters in 6521 Second Era, which is 71 years into the 375 year war. This makes him essentially contemporary with The Dark Path in the immediately adjacent lands. This is most likely not a coincidence since both of these areas are playing off the same Lovecraft.
"The Legend of the Necropolis of Etrevion is numbered among the tales that emerged from the devastating Wars of Dominion that ended the Second Era of Kulthea. Two brothers from the eastern region of Jaiman set off to join the struggle and seek their fame and fortune in the early days of the Wars. Of undistinguished lineage, the brothers realized that the quickest means to power and wealth was to cast their lot in with the forces of the Unlife. The elder brother, Bandur Etrevion, was obsessed with the pursuit of esoteric lore and forbidden knowledge. The younger, Kestrel Etrevion, was a more practical and carefree sort, a man of action." - "The Legend of the Necropolis of Etrevion" (1990) "Man'Ta Pn'Tairken translates literally to The Home of Broken Lore. 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." - "The Broken Land" (1993) (Note: The capitalized term "Dark Path" and the phrase "new source of power" probably both come from the same paragraph of text in the Master Atlas, concerning what happens when casters begin tapping the Unlife for spells.)
Bandur Etrevion was recognized by the Loremasters of the College of Karilon for his studies which helped them in their fight in the Wars of Dominion. Given his special interest in the Empress Kadaena, and his apparent understanding of Lord of Essaence style portals in the Graveyard, it is highly likely that Bandur is the reason Uthex knew about this portal and had the "influence" to gain access to it.
"The history of the cult deserves some discussion here. Early in his servitude to the Unlife, Bandur had pledged himself to the Empress Kadaena, the first Lord of Orhan to follow the ways of the Unlife. He turned his own bondage to her into the state cult, which he called The Dark Path. Followers of The Dark Path engaged in many heinous ritual practices beneath a genteel facade of prayer. They were ostentatious in their devotions, carrying around long rosaries of modwir beads and reciting out loud the Iylari phrase "Kadaena Throk Farok." True followers of the cult of Kadaena who recited the phrase with fervor and dedication were promised everlasting existence by Bandur, and after death were transformed by him into various levels of undead creatures." - "The Legend of the Necropolis of Etrevion" (1990) "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)
While Uthex would not have been deceived by worshippers of the Dark Lords, the servants of the Unlife are typically illustrated as deceptively civilized. It is quite plausible that he would have been able to interact with cultists of the Dark Path without knowing they were evil. On the other hand, if the Broken Lands were Charôn itself, the servants of the Unlife could have originated in the Broken Lands. But this would give no explanation for how Uthex knew about the portal or used "his powerful influence" to "gain control" of it. Since it is an "Unlife invasion" theme, the hooded figures may be Dark Path cultists.
The question is how much of a continuity of intent there is between the Graveyard and the Broken Lands, since the original parts of the Graveyard were made before Kygar became a GameMaster. It is also complicated by the Graveyard story having not been designed in the context of the 1990 books. It refers to Empress Kadaena as a "Lord of Orhan", implying she became an actual death goddess who was the first to turn to the Unlife, the "guardian of the forbidden" in contrast to Eissa as Guardian of Oblivion. This is especially important since Morgu, a Dark Spirit, is implied to be the bodyguard of Kadaena.
Uthex Kathiasas was killed in the exact year 6521 Second Era in the original version of the Broken Land story. In the later Shadow World books this is the year Lorgalis conquered Saralis with an Ordainer, where the mountain range leading up through what we call the Lysierian Hills is the northern border of Saralis. There are very few events with dates in the 375 year Wars of Dominion, so it would be a bizarre coincidence for this to have happened at random. It might have been an established fact in some kind of Shadow World supplementary material, but otherwise we have to assume it is apocryphal. In the 1989 books when Lorgalis is first introduced, he is the most powerful force of the Unlife, with a modus operandi similar to the Priests Arnak. Later he is only Unlife adjacent, not one of its true followers.
This is important because Lorgalis in the 1989 books is a surviving servant of Kadaena from the First Era. In the 1990 books only his father is one of her Lord of Essaence followers, and he reluctantly works with the forces of the Unlife and the Dark Gods in the Wars of Dominion. The monastery might be interpreted as hiding it from him after he conquers the region. It is still possible the monastery was intended to guard against Dark Path or other Unlife invasions from both sides of the portal. The portal was dormant when the Monastery was introduced in 1992. The hooded figures showed up in 1993.
Lorgalis is not the only evil surviving (partial) Lord of Essaence in the Wars of Dominion. There is also the Master of Malice who was killed in 6825 Second Era, who drove Andraax insane in their final battle. Empress Kadaena's daughter ruled the theocracy of Orgiana in southwest Jaiman. But for the most part the surviving followers of Empress Kadaena are very few in numbers. It was mostly vague wording in some passages that made it sound like all the forces of the Unlife in the Second Era are servants of Kadaena. This includes the weird text with the "servants of the Shadow" line making the two sides sound descended from the Lords of Orhan. If there were Lords of Essaence in the Broken Lands in the Wars of Dominion, the Loremasters and monastery monks would not have been able to fight them.
Uthex Kathiasas would not have been working at first in the Broken Lands if Morgu was flying around with gogor. The Dark Shrine would not have been accessible prior to the lug'shuk traaglaakh (magru) dissolving away the tunnels opening up into the huge cavern. It would seem to only be plausible that the shrine was abandoned by his time, if only because the Dark Lords were gone to conquer Kulthea, but possibly since the First Era or the early Second Era. What is known is that it has been long abandoned by the present 6050 Third Era. This is implied by the running water and stalagmites in the dark cavern.
[Dark Grotto, Huge Cavern] The muted gurgle of running water is an odd intrusion into the quietude of the cavern. A weak flow of water emerges from a small crack high up on the western cavern wall and cascades down over the stone to collect in a small rivulet that runs off to the east. The stream presents no barrier to passage, being only a foot or two wide, and it is only the shallow stone channel, etched into the floor of the cavern by the flow of water over uncounted years, that keeps it from simply spreading out. Obvious exits: north, south, east, northeast, southeast, southwest. [Dark Grotto, Huge Cavern] A narrow, shallow channel filled with the lively burble of flowing water forms a small stream that winds its way through the tall stone spires, creating a twisted line that cuts across the center of the cavern from west to east. The thick moss that grows along the banks of the miniature river gives off a sweet, but slightly fetid odor. Small lizards watch you with reptilian stoicism before darting off to hide among the rocks and fungi. You also see a red myklian. Obvious exits: north, south, east, west, northwest, southwest.
In the Kulthea Chronicle newsletter it was noticed that Morgu has a special weakness for running water, and Trachten speculates that the Loremasters made the stream to keep Morgu out. This is not really logical since it is six thousand years later, and Morgu clearly enters through the windows of the Dark Shrine. What has been missed is that the huge stalagmites imply water is dripping from the cavern roof. Morgu is damaged by rainfall and flees it. This is figuratively implying that Morgu has not been around in millennia. That the magru and myklian had Iruaric names suggests they were there with Uthex.
"Weakness: Morgu dislikes running water, and rainfall is his greatest bane. Rainfall delivers hits to Morgu, 5-50 per round in a downpour." - Shadow World Master Atlas Addendum (1990); page 46 (Note: It is not plausible that the Loremasters would have known he has this weakness.)
Morgu is described as having found hundreds of gogor "hidden away in ancient crypts on Kulthea", which is the root of the modern text of Marlu delving into crypts, and "has succeeded in awakening them from their log hibernation after the Great Conflict at the end of the First Era." The text for the gogor itself has "dark priests" searching "deep in lost caverns and the ruins of ancient citadels", where they were "guided by hints millennia old", and "found crypts" with "row upon row of stone jars". The huge throne and corridor is not necessarily contemporaneous with the dark priests represented in the shrine.
The theme of the Unlife and the Dark Gods working together in the Wars of Dominion raises the question of the identity of the priests. They could specifically be Morgu cultists. They might be "forces of the Unlife", perhaps members of the Dark Path, which is a theocracy of Kadaena and may thus naturally have interest in Morgu. It is unclear if they are distinct from the hooded figure "minions" of Uthex.
[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 tapestry Dark images of sycophants, dressed in long black robes surround a low stone altar similar to the one in this room. The figure of a man, twisted and broken, lies on the surface of the stone table while another dark shape pours some foul looking fluid from a small urn out over the tortured man's body. >go tapestry [Dark Shrine, Secret Room] Row upon row of tall stone jars stand against the walls of this room. A strong odor hangs in the air, sickeningly sweet with a subtle bitter, acidic quality. The fetid odor makes your bile rise, and it is hard to breathe. Obvious exits: out. >look jar Dozens, perhaps a hundred tall stone jars stand in rows along the walls. The jars have been capped with stone disks, and sealed with a substance resembling common stone mason's mortar. (Note: "Row upon row" is a direct quote from the Gogor section of the Shadow World source material about what the dark priests found in the First Era crypts. "Hundred" comes from the line about Morgu's own collecting.) [Dark Shrine, Storage Room] Several tall stone jars lie on their sides in a heap along one wall next to a stack of heavy stone disks. Along the opposite wall is a collection of large ceramic urns, which reek with a fetid sweet odor. Obvious exits: out. >look in jar There is nothing in there. >look urn The lid of the ceramic urn has been broken, and part of it has fallen away. >look in urn In the ceramic urn you see some dark fluid. >look fluid A bitter, pungent odor rises from the dark, disgusting fluid that fills the ceramic urn. (Note: It is interesting that there are a hundred sealed jars in the secret room, but these several near the crypt of the priests are emptied of their gogor. Combined with "minor gogor" this might be hinting that these were created in the Second Era using First Era knowledge. But it might only mean these were the ones woken with the ritual.)
This allows three possibilities: Morgu himself brought the stone jars to this place in the Second Era; Morgu found the stone jars there in the Second Era and it was turned into a shrine for him; Morgu dwelled here with his gogor in the First Era and it was dark priests in the Second Era who awoke these gogor. The Iruaric invoking element on the dark cavern entrance is no older than the statue of Morgu in the Dark Shrine, and the other side is Iruaric written in an alphabetic form rather than hieroglyphs. The destruction of the library and graven images suggests the Loremasters raided this temple in 6521 Second Era.
[Dark Shrine, Library] Fire has destroyed most of this room. Charred shelves filled with ashes and the remains of countless volumes of books and scrolls line the walls. Several tall desks occupy the center of the room, like the stumps of lightning struck trees. The brass lamps suspended from the ceiling on long chains are covered with soot, and a patina of green and grey corrosion. Obvious exits: out. >look on shelves On the charred shelves you see some ashes and some burned books. >look books The books are damaged beyond recognition. "Few records of the battle against Uthex Kathiasas and his minions have survived the ages, but it is generally accepted that the Loremasters easily gained access to his secret workshop. Uthex Kathiasas was destroyed during the ensuing battle, and while the Loremasters were not able to completely destroy his experiments, they removed what records and equipment that they could, and sealed the gate leading to that location with Runes of Warding." - "The Broken Land" (1993) (Note: The alternative of the awoken gogor, probably the dark priests themselves, destroying their own things is possible but less intuitive.)
The rituals performed in the Dark Shrine are not Shadow World canon. They seem to either be the human sacrifice ritual for waking up existing gogor, or the process for making gogor out of tortured and sacrificed bodies by placing them in the jars and transforming them. If it is the latter case it might explain why they were only "minor gogor", and would imply that the library had texts pertaining to the methods Empress Kadaena used to fashion the gogor in the First Era. It seems implausible the humanoid priests could have moved the material to the Dark Shrine to make the Morgu statue themselves. It is part of the mechanism for teleporting into the huge cavern using a spoken Iruaric phrase, and the other side would be as old, so the voice aspect and relief may be older than the inscription in its Second Era alphabet.
The problem with this loophole in the anachronism is that it is a chicken and the egg problem. Without the clue to transfer yourself into the Dark Shrine, how do you know what to say in the first place to make the inscription? With the Lovecraftian subtexts it might simply be an unavoidable contradiction as a horror motif. Lord of Essaence portals are capable of reaching other times, for example, or there are various premises for seeing or reaching into the future or past. Morgu is still being described in relation with Kadaena, and then somehow, this stanza in Iruaric ends up in the Temple of Darkness after the Wars.
[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. Round time: 7 sec. You lie there for a moment, trying to catch your breath. >stand You stand back up. >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." (puzzle) >touch relief You place one hand on the huge relief. >"Lo thal ta shin The room dissolves around you. You feel a tingling sensation run through your body and suddenly you see... "The Lords of Essence have created a network of Portals (or 'Gates' as they are sometimes called) linking points on the globe. These doorways allow someone who enters to instantly be transported to another location, exiting at another Portal. The manner of operation of these gateways is unknown; while some are very predictable two-way corridors between points, others seem random, transporting the unwary not only across vast distances but through time. Many take the form of crude trilithons isolated in the wilderness, while others appear as gleaming silvery ovals on ornate pedestals. Some are concealed underground, or are even disguised as normal doors in ancient structures. Some are always 'active' - meaning that should someone step through one, they will be instantly teleported to the other end of the portalway - while others must be activated by a magical phrase or item. Generally, active Portals are easily noticeable by a strange, 'substantial' darkness covering the entire opening; looking at the darkness for too long a time can cause queasiness. These also give off a barely audible thrumming sound/vibration. There is an occasional Portal, however, that appears completely normal, and is instantly activated as one walks through it." - Shadow World Master Atlas, 1st Edition (1989); page 55 - Tomes of Kulthea #1123
It is dubious to try to interpret historical chronology into scenery that is allegorical in origin, as explained in the Lovecraft section under "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath". But this stairwell makes no sense unless something of that size were present to walk down it. It makes no sense to have Iruaric named creatures without reference to the Lords of Essaence, and of course the stone jars with the gogor originated in the First Era. In theory the huge stairwell should have been "engineered" in the First Era, quite probably with controlled magru dissolving the rock. But this alphabetic script should not have pre-dated the Second Era without knowledge of the future, even though the command "thro dyar K'mur" most likely refers to Empress Kadaena. The language implies it should be a Lord of Essaence portal.
The relief should thus be as old, except that script would not exist yet. The dark priests would have needed to learn the spoken phrase, perhaps from Morgu himself, which only makes sense if the Dark Gods were present in the First Era. Other cultists must be familiar with the phrase for it to appear elsewhere in the ruins of the Temple of Darkness. That poem arguably does not make sense until after the Wars of Dominion, especially the Orgiana part, but the Morgu lines in isolation are not problematic. If the Dark Lords are avatars for the Lords of Essaence, including Kadaena, the modern script is not a problem.
The Loremasters destroyed or removed what records and equipment they could, but were not able to destroy all of Uthex's creations. This might be because the crystal dome summons or reincarnates more of them and could not be permanently shut off. The hooded figures are implied in the wording to be among these minions. The portal to the Broken Lands has to be blocked to prevent invasions by these forces of the Unlife. In the Shadow World Master Atlas it says the Loremasters tried to close the Portals at the end of the Wars of Dominion, but found that it was too dangerous and disruptive so they stopped.
"The most powerful (and dangerous) of the Portals on Kulthea serve a dual purpose: as Major Portals they exist also as passages to other worlds, dimensions, or planes. These are one method by which the forces of the Unlife gain entry to the world - though they are not the only means of access. There is usually no way to differentiate between a Major portal and a Minor one (a portal which merely transports one from one place on Kulthea to another), without careful magical analysis. Some can even change their destination. Towards the end of the Wars of Dominion, some Loremasters and other powerful users of Essence decided to attempt to close all the Major Portals. They soon found, however, that attempting to close the Gateways only disrupted the Balance of Essaence and created major Flow disturbances." - Shadow World Master Atlas, 1st Edition (1989); page 57 - Shadow World Master Atlas, 2nd Edition (1992); page 183 (Note: The italicized lines at the end of the first paragraph are only in the 2nd Edition.)
The publication date of the second edition of the Master Atlas, May 1992, might be just barely early enough to be relevant to the Monastery. It first appears as recently discovered in Kelfour Edition volume III number II dated July 1992. However, these dates are very close to each other, and the later Iruaric glossary came from the Master Atlas Addendum (1990) rather than Master Atlas, 2nd Edition. This text might be coincidental rather than intentional for Uthex taking it to be a small portal. In the Uthex Kathiasas story from 1993 the Loremasters used "Runes of Warding" so only the powerful could return.
When the Monastery was discovered in mid-1992 there was a "rune-covered stone which seems to ward off the Unlife", which is simply referring to the misty chamber being a safe room. It is not described in detail. At first there was no backstory explaining the monastery, though Kygar said he worked it all out before building. The portal did not become active with hooded figures coming through and attacking until March or April 1993 in Kelfour Edition volume III number XI. In the Master Atlas Addendum (1990) there is a special Warding spell list with a powerful Enchant Stone spell that might be relevant.
"60) Enchant Stone (F) D: P R: T Note: This spell requires special materials and a powerful ritual; Caster may only enchant one stone per day. Caster is able, through a ritual lasting one hour, to imbue one large immobile stone with a permanent Warding power. Stone must weigh at least 100 lbs and if moved from its spot the spell is broken. Warding level of the stone is equal to Caster level. Caster may link a series of stones (no more than 10' apart from each other) into a Circle no larger in diameter than 1' per Caster level. Creatures attempting to enter Circle or touch the stones must make a successful RR vs 1/2 caster level at or suffer an "A" Disruption Critical and be thrown back." - Shadow World Master Atlas Addendum (1990); page 84 - Shadow World Master Atlas, 2nd Edition (1992); page 191
Compare this to the rune-covered stone circle that is rotating around the now active portal in the misty chamber. It includes fine details like taking minor damage for touching it.
[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 >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. XXXXX points at some strange runes on a large stone. As XXXXX touches the runes, he receives a mild electrical jolt! ... 5 points of damage! Light shock to right leg. That stings! 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!
The Uthex Kathiasas story calls this a small and remote natural gate to another plane of existence. However, this fits the description of some kinds of Lord of Essaence Portals from the First Era, so the possibility has to be held that this is a Major Portal made by the Lords of Essaence or someone like Bandur Etrevion who understands their gate magic as demonstrated in the Graveyard.
"The Lords of Essence have created a network of Portals (or 'Gates' as they are sometimes called) linking points on the globe. These doorways allow someone who enters to instantly be transported to another location, exiting at another Portal. The manner of operation of these gateways is unknown; while some are very predictable two-way corridors between points, others seem random, transporting the unwary not only across vast distances but through time. Many take the form of crude trilithons isolated in the wilderness, while others appear as gleaming silvery ovals on ornate pedestals. Some are concealed underground, or are even disguised as normal doors in ancient structures. Some are always 'active' - meaning that should someone step through one, they will be instantly teleported to the other end of the portalway - while others must be activated by a magical phrase or item. Generally, active Portals are easily noticeable by a strange, 'substantial' darkness covering the entire opening; looking at the darkness for too long a time can cause queasiness. These also give off a barely audible thrumming sound/vibration. There is an occasional Portal, however, that appears completely normal, and is instantly activated as one walks through it." - Shadow World Master Atlas, 1st Edition (1989); page 55 - Tomes of Kulthea #1123
The Shadow World Master Atlas gives context to how long Uthex Kathiasas could have been out working on his own without oversight by his fellow Loremasters. They had come to suspect something was wrong, presumably from the contents (or absence) of his report to his superiors, required only once a year. They intervened under the suspicion he had gone mad and succumbed to the Unlife.
"They will not interfere directly unless to the peace and stability of the world would be jeopardized by their inaction. Almost never prominent personalities, yet so often to be found operating beneath the colorful facade of a realm's government, Loremasters are the great meddlers of the world. Lurking behind thrones and in council chambers, they whisper a word here, over hear a rumor there. Information is their trade and the substance of their lives. With the acquisition and careful dissemination of knowledge, they keep the Free Races of Kulthea alert to the scheming of the Unlife's servants. Without them the world would be a desolate planet with only small pockets of life under the cruel domination of creatures unspeakable, servants of the Unlife. Loremasters rarely take sides, unless one faction is clearly operating according to the wishes of the Unlife. He never condones aggression against other governments or peoples (unless in defence or when assaulting a Dark Realm). Loremasters operate more freely than Navigators, often not contacting superiors at Karilon more than once or twice a year. Navigators are on more of a tight reign, returning to Nexus between journeys to report. The Loremasters are in fact a fairly sophisticated organization. They are controlled by a council of twelve elder Loremasters charged with coordinating the actions of their agents around the world. All of the members of the Council are elected for life or 100 years, whichever ends first. Six are immortals, the balance being saged mortals. The only exception is Kirin Tethan, the only surviving Founder of the Order, who holds a permanent seat. The Council rarely intervenes in specific 'field' situations unless specifically asked by the Loremaster involved. This group meets in a guarded chamber atop the Tower of Winds - the highest pinnacle of the hidden citadel of Karilon." - Shadow World Master Atlas, 1st Edition (1989); page 36 - Tomes of Kulthea #1098 "The Loremasters gathered in the hills of a small island to the far north to face a new threat. They had, for some time, suspected that their fellow Loremaster, Uthex Kathiasas, had gone quite mad and succumbed to the dark power of the Unlife. Responding to increasingly frequent reports of strange happenings, powerful and mysterious hooded figures, and fell beasts, the Loremasters now prepared for the worst." - "The Broken Land" (1993)
The Monastery itself is not obviously based on anything, aside from a vaguely eastern flavor in the ki-lin and the meditation chamber. The cells and abbot are historically consistent for a western monastery. These were monks of Cay, most likely, and Orhan more generally. This is perhaps even "monk" in a similar profession sense as the Monk class in GemStone IV, except in the Shadow World setting they use the Essence realm instead of Mentalism. The monastery itself gives the flavor of their living centuries below ground, dedicated in the struggle to prevent the forces of the Unlife from invading through the portal.
The records of the existence of the monastery were lost or destroyed with time, and the monks eventually succumbed to the corruption of the Unlife. Whether this is from prolonged exposure to dark essence is unclear. It is possible some of the texts removed from the Broken Lands were kept in their own library. Kygar has them first suffering from loneliness and increasing isolation for centuries, so if there was an active "dark struggle", they may have eventually bonded with the hooded figures who in turn taught them dark magic. What is unusual about the monastic liches is the hole in their chests where they removed their own heart. This is the Ritual of Black Eternity, one of the most evil of all spells. It is from the Classic Liches in Rolemaster Companion I (1986), pages 33 and 75, a tighter fit than D&D phylacteries.
>describe lich Garbed in the tattered finery of his lost faith, this monastic lich is a decomposing humanoid of indiscernable heritage. Standing as high as a human, his distinguishing features have skin wrapped about a thin skeletal frame. Held together by nothing more than smouldering malice and some long forgotten curse, the monastic lich's flesh falls off in stinking bits as he shudders in agonizing ecstasy. In the center of his chest is a ragged hole, as if his heart had been ripped from its body. "Monastic Lich: Class VI; (-)-EN#-9; fear on sight (RR); touch delivers a "C" cold critical; touch drains 5 Con pts; Monk base spells (4xlvl PP); use Large creature critical table. Few Monks discover the rituals and spells which enable Evil Clerics, Magicians and Sorcerers to become liches, and fewer still decide to cross the threshold into the unlife. The Monks that do so become an extremely rare undead type known as the monastic lich. These men were obviously very twisted and evil in life, and appear as robed, animate skeletons in death. Monastic liches retain all of their martial arts abilities and Monk spells, and gain the claws which deliver extra slash attacks plus their cold, soul-numbing touch. A hit from one of these horrors can be devastating. They are often found in abandoned monasteries or other ruined structures." - Creatures & Treasures II (1989); page 40 (Note: Classic "Lich" monsters are Evil Clerics, Evil Mages, or Sorcerers. See page 42 of Creatures & Treasures I.)
In the 1999 edition of Creatures & Monsters on page 118, standard liches are transformed over a year with the Ritual of Twilight, while classic liches use the more rare and dangerous Ritual of Black Eternity where the organs are put into a special container and hidden. This text references them having red light in their eyes. This is not included in the monastic lich section on page 131, but is part of the ambient messaging on the monastic liches. The lich description of "fine, although unkempt and tattered, clothing or robes" is significantly closer to the GemStone description than their monastic lich entry. The important point of the monastic liches is that, as monks rather than pure spellcasters, they could only have done this by possessing texts on necromancy. This only makes sense if it came from the Dark Shrine.
There is some reason to suspect this is a later period admixture, presumably from the 1995 edition of this book, especially since the Monastery pre-dates the Describe verb by half a year. The creature description for the ki-lin on the Play.net website is inconsistent with the Rolemaster version with the glowing red horn, but it is consistent with the Rolemaster description of the ki-rin which is more consistent with the mythological qilin. It is important to be cautious with creature descriptions because they were often added later. The spectral monks are presumably the monks who failed to become liches.
"Imagine a creature with the head of a dragon, the mane of a lion, the body of a stag and the tail of an ox. Add a solitary horn upon its forehead and the form of the ki-lin is complete. Sightings of this magical and dangerous beast are very rare and thus trophy hunters are said to pay a high price for the horn of the legendary beast." - Play.net website "By day, the sun bounces from the golden fur covering a deer's body, leaps from the deeper gold of a lion's mane an an ox's tail, and gleams on the rose pearl of a unicorn's horn as the Ki-rin gallops across the heavens; the Ki-rin possesses no wings." - Creatures & Monsters (1999); page 72 (Note: The dragon head feature still has to come from mythology rather than Rolemaster. The mythological qilin has numerous variations, but these specifically match up.)
With the monastic liches still having rotting flesh in their description, rather than being purely skeletal, we might think it was only relatively recently that they fell to the Unlife. This would be consistent with the timing of the hooded figures appearing, though it puts too much weight on a possibly apocryphal creature description. In any event they would have fallen into madness first, perhaps indicated by the emotive faces above the doorways downstairs. The painting upstairs referring to the "Undead Wars" probably said "Wars of Dominion" originally. The phylacteries are most likely sealed away in the sewers under the monastery. The sewers originally had ratsnakes in them. This potentially supports interpreting the cave itself as an allegory for Lovecraft's "Snake-Den", detailed below in the Major Sub-Texts section.
The major sub-texts category addresses the parallel the Broken Lands has with H.P. Lovecraft's "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath" and possibly other related stories. The within GemStone significance of this is that the same story appears to be used in the messaging that occurs when bodies decay and need to be reincarnated by Eissa (Modern: Lorminstra). This is illustrated in Research:The Graveyard. The soul is in a limbo that was once called Purgatory. That research page argues for various reasons that the Graveyard is symbolically a dark mirror of Purgatory and the temple of Eissa in the Landing.
Instead of the Lord High Cleric, who is probably the old man on the dais, Bandur is the Lord High Sorceror. There are a number of points of commonality, and they were both built in early 1990. The throne room under the Graveyard is "a madman's travesty of a throne room in purgatory", with a throne of human bones on a dais and a tapestry covering a storage room. The huge pile of bodies next to it are thus argued to symbolically represent the souls who could not choose, and the only path was darkness, as the only exit was a result of people clawing their way up to the surface until someone finally made it.
The decay or spirit death messaging is mostly the same as it was twenty or thirty years ago, except a few lines were removed seemingly around the time of the GemStone IV conversion. The death mechanics have undergone a few forms over the years, and that was around when Death's Sting in its modern form was introduced. When the body decays into compost the world dissolves into "a grainy montage of color", and the soul experiences a timeless void between light and darkness. This is unique to GemStone as the early Shadow World books provided no description of the other side of the Gates of Oblivion.
It is accompanied by some surreal messaging about the dreams you once held, and hopelessness washing over them "like the creeping tide of doom." Eissa then spoke to you in archaic English about your right of intercession because of your deeds to her, which Research:The Graveyard argues for various reasons is likely playing off the medieval rites of homage to a liege lord. When the soul is reincarnated it describes "the world of your past" returning to your memory. These premises do not originate in the Shadow World material. They appear to be based on stories from H.P. Lovecraft's Dream Cycle.
Slowly the world begins to dissolve into a grainy montage of color... [Purgatory] You find yourself wandering amidst endless streaming light, and vast nothingness. This place feels torn between two prophecies, each vying for your loyalty. Also in the room: All the spirits of those who could not choose. Obvious exits: light and darkness. Time seems to have no meaning as you wander aimlessly amidst the uncomfortable tugging for your attention. Hopelessness washes over dreams you once held like the creeping tide of doom. In time the Goddess Lorminstra finds you wandering the endlessness of Purgatory and says, "For thy deed, my promise to intercede shall be fulfilled." Taking you by the hand, the Goddess leads you back to mortality... Suddenly you feel an intense pain scorching your very soul! The world of your past suddenly comes rushing back into your memory. You are quite bewildered by what has transpired, but alive... (Note: This is from the late 1990s. The original would have said the "Goddess Eissa".)
This is mostly referring to the end of "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath" when Nyarlathotep is trying to trick the protagonist, Randolph Carter, into flying into the heart of Chaos at the center of the universe. Carter is in another dimension called the Dreamlands. When he realizes his impending doom he remembers he is only dreaming and leaps into the void between dreamlands. He experiences vast cosmic aeons pass before him, until the waking world of his own memories rushes back to him. Research:The Graveyard argues that Bandur is our analog for Nyarlathotep for mythological reasons.
"Thick though the rushing nightmare that clutched his senses, Randolph Carter could turn and move. He could move, and if he chose he could leap off the evil shantak that bore him hurtlingly doomward at the orders of Nyarlathotep. He could leap off and dare those depths of night that yawned interminably down, those depths of fear whose terrors yet could not exceed the nameless doom that lurked waiting at chaos’ core. He could turn and move and leap—he could—he would—he would— Off that vast hippocephalic abomination leaped the doomed and desperate dreamer, and down through endless voids of sentient blackness he fell. Aeons reeled, universes died and were born again, stars became nebulae and nebulae became stars, and still Randolph Carter fell through those endless voids of sentient blackness. Then in the slow creeping course of eternity the utmost cycle of the cosmos churned itself into another futile completion, and all things became again as they were unreckoned kalpas before. Matter and light were born anew as space once had known them; and comets, suns, and worlds sprang flaming into life, though nothing survived to tell that they had been and gone, been and gone, always and always, back to no first beginning." - "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath"; H.P. Lovecraft
The Shadow World tie-in is that Eissa transports souls around in an artifact called the Staff of Doom. The wording is strikingly similar, and as explained below, the Broken Lands turns out to tightly parallel an earlier section of this same Lovecraft story. The wording about the world of the past returning to you is most likely referring to the premise that Randolph Carter is returning to the world of his childhood memories. His dream-quest had turned out to be him seeking his own youthful memories of Boston. In the Graveyard this might be hinted at by recalling prayers from youth when looking at Bandur.
"And there was a firmament again, and a wind, and a glare of purple light in the eyes of the falling dreamer. There were gods and presences and wills; beauty and evil, and the shrieking of noxious night robbed of its prey. For through the unknown ultimate cycle had lived a thought and a vision of a dreamer’s boyhood, and now there were re-made a waking world and an old cherished city to body and to justify these things. Out of the void S’ngac the violet gas had pointed the way, and archaic Nodens was bellowing his guidance from unhinted deeps. Stars swelled to dawns, and dawns burst into fountains of gold, carmine, and purple, and still the dreamer fell. Cries rent the aether as ribbons of light beat back the fiends from outside. And hoary Nodens raised a howl of triumph when Nyarlathotep, close on his quarry, stopped baffled by a glare that seared his formless hunting-horrors to grey dust. Randolph Carter had indeed descended at last the wide marmoreal flights to his marvellous city, for he was come again to the fair New England world that had wrought him. So to the organ chords of morning’s myriad whistles, and dawn’s blaze thrown dazzling through purple panes by the great gold dome of the State House on the hill, Randolph Carter leaped shoutingly awake within his Boston room." - "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath"; H.P. Lovecraft
Lost to the Demonic
In the early death mechanics there were five "free deaths" at level 1, and five that had to be paid back with deeds before making level 2. It was not possible for a character under level 2 to have permanent character loss from death. Eissa would intervene to prevent it, and later the Great Spirit Vult (Modern: Voln) did as well. Generally, there was a cost of only 1 deed for a death if a cleric resurrected the body, but 2 deeds if the body decayed. If there was a spirit death it cost 2 deeds. Spirit was originally called "life levels", with instant death at zero, and weakness at thresholds. This is a supplementary mechanic from Rolemaster Companion II, page 20, not Shadow World itself. In the later years of GemStone III there was experience point loss as a result of departing or spirit death instead of damage to stat points.
In the event of a decay or spirit death, or resurrection if having zero deeds, there was originally a counter for number of death at that level, where at the next level there was a cumulative risk of statistic point loss that increased with severity with the number of deaths. This was essentially like a harsher form of Death's Sting. The Purgatory messaging was slightly different for a spirit death, as Eissa puts the tattered pieces of your soul back together. This is the variant still included in the contemporary messaging for decaying. The Sign of Hopelessness used to refer to this messaging, ripping the soul up in black flames.
>sign of hopelessness As you make the sign, the forces of darkness rip your soul from your body! You realize you have called upon your powers without due caution and have made your affiliation plainly obvious to all nearby. It seems you have died, my friend. Although you cannot do anything, you are keenly aware of what is going on around you... You mentally give a sigh of relief as you remember that the Goddess Lorminstra owes you a favor. Slowly the world begins to dissolve into a grainy montage of color... [Purgatory] You find yourself wandering amidst endless streaming light, and vast nothingness. This place feels torn between two prophecies, each vying for your loyalty. Also in the room: All the spirits of those who could not choose. Obvious exits: light and darkness. Time seems to have no meaning as you wander aimlessly amidst the uncomfortable tugging for your attention. Hopelessness washes over dreams you once held like the creeping tide of doom. In time the Goddess Lorminstra finds you wandering the endlessness of Purgatory and says, "For thy deeds, my promise to intercede shall be fulfilled." She gently reassembles the pieces of your tattered soul, and then, taking you by the hand, the Goddess leads you back to mortality... Suddenly you feel an intense pain scorching your very soul! The world of your past suddenly comes rushing back into your memory. You are quite bewildered by what has transpired, but alive... (Note: Compare the bold italics above to the bold italics in the excerpt below from "Through the Gates of the Silver Key".)
There is some indication in the Kelfour Editions, such as Kelfour Edition volume I number VII page 24, that the soul might have been destroyed utterly if this happened without deeds. That someone has "lost their soul to the demonic" might have originally only happened in this case, and if it did it is unclear if there was different messaging for it. The messaging was the same seemingly in any case later. It illustrates the soul losing its memory and sense of identity regardless of whether it chose the light or the darkness. The player was then given the option of either retiring the individual character or the whole family.
Slowly the world begins to dissolve into a grainy montage of color... [Purgatory] You find yourself wandering amidst endless streaming light, and vast nothingness. This place feels torn between two prophecies, each vying for your loyalty. Also in the room: All the spirits of those who could not choose. Obvious exits: light and darkness. Time seems to have no meaning as you wander aimlessly amidst the uncomfortable tugging for your attention. Hopelessness washes over dreams you once held like the creeping tide of doom. In time your soul finds a home, be it in the light or the darkness, but not again in the mortal world. As the last memories of your existence fade, an image of the Goddess Lorminstra, who guards the Gates of Oblivion, tempts your hindsight. [Purgatory] It appears that your mortal life has ended once and for all, and that Lorminstra shall be embracing you shortly. This Purgatory is here to provide you with information about what to expect as you move on to the next stage of your existence. Before you is The Afterlife. You will need to enter it in order to create a new character for yourself. ---> You can LOOK AT THE AFTERLIFE to get information about what to expect now that your character has died permanently. When you are ready, simply RETIRE. Obvious exits: none. DEAD>look at the afterlife DEAD> Upon entering The Afterlife you will be given two options: 1. Retire Kadaena only (keeping the K'ta'viiri family) 2. Retire the K'ta'viiri family (loosing all family fame) Selecting the first option will result in asking you for a new first name for your new character, while the second option will result in asking you for a new first and last name. In either case you can reselect your old names, but your family fame will only transfer to your new character if you select the first option. DEAD> As for up to the point of making your choices, it is the same routine as if you just started a new character. If you RETIRE the family, you will lose your character entirely. If you choose to RETIRE the first name only, You will be able to keep the same family name as well as the same first name if you wish to keep it. If you choose the same first name and family name, you must remember, when you went demonic, you lost everything except the name. You will not have any items, character fame, stats, skills, age or trainings as you did when you died, including any coins you had in the bank or on your person. In keeping the family name, you WILL still have your FAMILY fame but not the character fame. (Note: This would have said Goddess Eissa originally, the "Gates of Oblivion" is the I.C.E. term. Lorminstra guards the Ebon Gate.)
The grainy montage of color and the dissolution of identity and memory into oblivion does not come from the Shadow World material. It is probably based on Oblivion from Lovecraft's Dream Cycle stories, which is illustrated in detail in his prose poem "Ex Oblivione". Randolph Carter himself mentions it and the potion in some stories. The last line refers to waking life as the "daemon" being escaped.
When the last days were upon me, and the ugly trifles of existence began to drive me to madness like the small drops of water that torturers let fall ceaselessly upon one spot of their victim’s body, I loved the irradiate refuge of sleep. In my dreams I found a little of the beauty I had vainly sought in life, and wandered through old gardens and enchanted woods. Once when the wind was soft and scented I heard the south calling, and sailed endlessly and languorously under strange stars. Once when the gentle rain fell I glided in a barge down a sunless stream under the earth till I reached another world of purple twilight, iridescent arbours, and undying roses. And once I walked through a golden valley that led to shadowy groves and ruins, and ended in a mighty wall green with antique vines, and pierced by a little gate of bronze. Many times I walked through that valley, and longer and longer would I pause in the spectral half-light where the giant trees squirmed and twisted grotesquely, and the grey ground stretched damply from trunk to trunk, sometimes disclosing the mould-stained stones of buried temples. And always the goal of my fancies was the mighty vine-grown wall with the little gate of bronze therein. After a while, as the days of waking became less and less bearable from their greyness and sameness, I would often drift in opiate peace through the valley and the shadowy groves, and wonder how I might seize them for my eternal dwelling-place, so that I need no more crawl back to a dull world stript of interest and new colours. And as I looked upon the little gate in the mighty wall, I felt that beyond it lay a dream-country from which, once it was entered, there would be no return. So each night in sleep I strove to find the hidden latch of the gate in the ivied antique wall, though it was exceedingly well hidden. And I would tell myself that the realm beyond the wall was not more lasting merely, but more lovely and radiant as well. Then one night in the dream-city of Zakarion I found a yellowed papyrus filled with the thoughts of dream-sages who dwelt of old in that city, and who were too wise ever to be born in the waking world. Therein were written many things concerning the world of dream, and among them was lore of a golden valley and a sacred grove with temples, and a high wall pierced by a little bronze gate. When I saw this lore, I knew that it touched on the scenes I had haunted, and I therefore read long in the yellowed papyrus. Some of the dream-sages wrote gorgeously of the wonders beyond the irrepassable gate, but others told of horror and disappointment. I knew not which to believe, yet longed more and more to cross forever into the unknown land; for doubt and secrecy are the lure of lures, and no new horror can be more terrible than the daily torture of the commonplace. So when I learned of the drug which would unlock the gate and drive me through, I resolved to take it when next I awaked. Last night I swallowed the drug and floated dreamily into the golden valley and the shadowy groves; and when I came this time to the antique wall, I saw that the small gate of bronze was ajar. From beyond came a glow that weirdly lit the giant twisted trees and the tops of the buried temples, and I drifted on songfully, expectant of the glories of the land from whence I should never return. But as the gate swung wider and the sorcery of drug and dream pushed me through, I knew that all sights and glories were at an end; for in that new realm was neither land nor sea, but only the white void of unpeopled and illimitable space. So, happier than I had ever dared hoped to be, I dissolved again into that native infinity of crystal oblivion from which the daemon Life had called me for one brief and desolate hour. - "Ex Oblivione"; H.P. Lovecraft (Note: This is the full text, not an excerpt.)
Key to the Void
In the Graveyard the Empress Kadaena is represented as a death goddess, and as some rival of Eissa who is providing a "forbidden" alternative to Oblivion. The Shadow World premise for this is probably the Key of the Void, the one key to the Gates of Oblivion that is never used. This is something that presumably leads to the demonic realities associated with the Unlife. Research:The Graveyard explores this concept more deeply. For our purposes it is noteworthy that the Dark Shrine is shaped like an antique key, and the portal to the Broken Lands may come from the Randolph Carter stories of the Silver Key.
Through the Gates of the Silver Key he encounters Yog-Sothoth, the guardian and gateway of forbidden knowledge. He witnesses many other versions of himself in the timeless void beyond oblivion. This results in transforming his immaterial being into the body of an otherworldly race in the distant past. In the context of the Broken Lands this can be interpreted as a forbidden "dark path" toward reincarnating the soul into otherworldly entities including the demonic or even the Dark Gods, which gives a natural and literal interpretation to the line "spirit born of death" in the Temple of Darkness poem.
"Faced with this realisation, Randolph Carter reeled in the clutch of supreme horror—horror such as had not been hinted even at the climax of that hideous night when two had ventured into an ancient and abhorred necropolis under a waning moon and only one had emerged. No death, no doom, no anguish can arouse the surpassing despair which flows from a loss of identity. Merging with nothingness is peaceful oblivion; but to be aware of existence and yet to know that one is no longer a definite being distinguished from other beings—that one no longer has a self—that is the nameless summit of agony and dread. He knew that there had been a Randolph Carter of Boston, yet could not be sure whether he—the fragment or facet of an earthly entity beyond the Ultimate Gate—had been that one or some other. His self had been annihilated; and yet he—if indeed there could, in view of that utter nullity of individual existence, be such a thing as he—was equally aware of being in some inconceivable way a legion of selves. It was as though his body had been suddenly transformed into one of those many-limbed and many-headed effigies sculptured in Indian temples, and he contemplated the aggregation in a bewildered attempt to discern which was the original and which the additions—if indeed (supremely monstrous thought) there were any original as distinguished from other embodiments. Then, in the midst of these devastating reflections, Carter’s beyond-the-gate fragment was hurled from what had seemed the nadir of horror to black, clutching pits of a horror still more profound. This time it was largely external—a force or personality which at once confronted and surrounded and pervaded him, and which in addition to its local presence, seemed also to be a part of himself, and likewise to be coexistent with all time and coterminous with all space. There was no visual image, yet the sense of entity and the awful concept of combined localism, identity, and infinity lent a paralysing terror beyond anything which any Carter-fragment had hitherto deemed capable of existing. In the face of that awful wonder, the quasi-Carter forgot the horror of destroyed individuality. It was an All-in-One and One-in-All of limitless being and self—not merely a thing of one Space-Time continuum, but allied to the ultimate animating essence of existence’s whole unbounded sweep—the last, utter sweep which has no confines and which outreaches fancy and mathematics alike. It was perhaps that which certain secret cults of earth have whispered of as YOG-SOTHOTH, and which has been a deity under other names; that which the crustaceans of Yuggoth worship as the Beyond-One, and which the vaporous brains of the spiral nebulae know by an untranslatable Sign—yet in a flash the Carter-facet realised how slight and fractional all these conceptions are." - "Through the Gates of the Silver Key"; H.P. Lovecraft “Nor is it to be thought,” ran the text as Armitage mentally translated it, “that man is either the oldest or the last of earth’s masters, or that the common bulk of life and substance walks alone. The Old Ones were, the Old Ones are, and the Old Ones shall be. Not in the spaces we know, but between them, They walk serene and primal, undimensioned and to us unseen. Yog-Sothoth knows the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the gate. Past, present, future, all are one in Yog-Sothoth. He knows where the Old Ones broke through of old, and where They shall break through again. He knows where They have trod earth’s fields, and where They still tread them, and why no one can behold Them as They tread. By Their smell can men sometimes know Them near, but of Their semblance can no man know, saving only in the features of those They have begotten on mankind; and of those are there many sorts, differing in likeness from man’s truest eidolon to that shape without sight or substance which is Them. They walk unseen and foul in lonely places where the Words have been spoken and the Rites howled through at their Seasons. The wind gibbers with Their voices, and the earth mutters with Their consciousness. They bend the forest and crush the city, yet may not forest or city behold the hand that smites. Kadath in the cold waste hath known Them, and what man knows Kadath? The ice desert of the South and the sunken isles of Ocean hold stones whereon Their seal is engraven, but who hath seen the deep frozen city or the sealed tower long garlanded with seaweed and barnacles? Great Cthulhu is Their cousin, yet can he spy Them only dimly. Iä! Shub-Niggurath! As a foulness shall ye know Them. Their hand is at your throats, yet ye see Them not; and Their habitation is even one with your guarded threshold. Yog-Sothoth is the key to the gate, whereby the spheres meet. Man rules now where They ruled once; They shall soon rule where man rules now. After summer is winter, and after winter summer. They wait patient and potent, for here shall They reign again.” - "The Dunwich Horror"; H.P. Lovecraft (Note: Compare the bold italics to the Purgatory messaging above with the bold italics.)
Since there is a shared relation to the Purgatory subtext of "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath", and historical simultaneity in the Shadow World timeline, the Graveyard and the Broken Lands are probably related stories and both playing off the death mechanics. Since the Gates of Oblivion are located on Orhan, the moon of the light gods, this is figuratively or literally making the Lord of Essaence crystal(s) on Charôn the forbidden key to immortality. This would explain why the Loremasters were unable to destroy Uthex's creations. There is a "hooded figure" guarding the tapestry to the deed ceremony.
[Temple, Tapestry Room] A large candle burns with a steady flame in each corner of this room. Various forms of artwork adorn the walls of this chamber, each representing one of the Gods of Elanthia. One particular object, a long black tapestry, attracts your attention. A small chair sits next to the tapestry and seated in this chair is the hooded figure of a man. You also see a large acorn and a black arch. Obvious exits: none. >look tapestry The tapestry is intricately embroidered to depict a large gate. It appears to be covering a portal of some kind. >go tapestry As you approach the black velvet tapestry, the hooded figure stands and steps in front of you. In a quiet but firm voice the hooded figure says, "May Lorminstra grant you even more deeds, XXXXX." The hooded figure bows slightly and pulls back the heavy bolt of black cloth. He then motions to the corridor beyond. You respectfully acknowledge his bow and enter the temple. Immediately upon entering, two acolytes appear next to you to assist you in your consultation. There is a brilliant flash of light and a puff of smoke as a hooded figure suddenly appears! >describe figure It is hard to see much of the hooded figure because of the voluminous hooded cloak. However, the figure does appear to be that of a young human, or humanoid, male. His skin is very pale, almost an opalescent white in color and his eyes are an ominous dull grey. You can see a few locks of curly black hair streaked with stark white tufts concealed by the hood of his cloak. When he glances in your direction, you can feel his gaze almost as a physical blow. He holds himself erect, a tall and imposing figure giving evidence of great pride. "They came to face the corrupt Uthex in the Great Hall of his hidden keep. Uthex called forth the fruit of his efforts to do battle with the Loremasters, and while they were engaged with these powerful perverted beings, Uthex made his escape. The Loremasters soon defeated the hooded figures that had come to Uthex' aid, but noted the absence of the powerful Mage. A detailed search of the keep revealed the secret passage that Uthex had used to make good his escape." "Few records of the battle against Uthex Kathiasas and his minions have survived the ages, but it is generally accepted that the Loremasters easily gained access to his secret workshop. Uthex Kathiasas was destroyed during the ensuing battle, and while the Loremasters were not able to completely destroy his experiments, they removed what records and equipment that they could, and sealed the gate leading to that location with Runes of Warding." - "The Broken Land" (1993)
Notice how the hooded figures themselves are the "perverted beings", seemingly human or humanoid, not the fog beetles or other monsters. Much as Research:The Graveyard argues for a dark mirror of this in the throne room under the Graveyard, this might be symbolized in the Dark Shrine as well where the human sacrifices were done to waken or make the gogor. The cracked gong corresponds to the chimes that have to be rung to call the high priestess. The tapestry corresponds to the tapestry, and the secret room behind it to the storage room, where deed offerings are taken by the acolytes after the ritual.
[Temple, Black Altar] The smoke of scores of incense burners fills the air of this room with a thick, acrid haze. Through this haze can be seen the faint outline of a large, black altar of obsidian surrounded by a high rail. Behind the altar is an arch leading to a blackened passage. Hanging nearby is a brass tube, or chime, suspended from the ceiling by a thong of leather. Next to this chime hangs a small mallet. The two acolytes that greeted you as you entered are standing nearby. Obvious exits: out. >ring chime with mallet You strike the hollow brass chime with the small mallet and the room is filled with a rich, mellow tone. The two acolytes nod slightly and step back to a position slightly behind you. [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 gong A crack runs from the rim of the huge corroded disk to the center. >look altar The altar table is covered with dark stains, and one corner has been broken off.
These beings would be ultimately indestructible because the power draining crystal dome is implicitly reincarnating their souls. This would be the forbidden work around to Eissa, who is the only deity with that power. Their spawn messaging is suggestive of this possibility. Without a tie-in to the death theology it would make little sense for the Broken Lands and Purgatory to just happen to be referencing the same obscure H.P. Lovecraft story. It is the natural way of interpreting "giving physical form" to power in that context, along with the shared premise of Empress Kadaena and the early Wars of Dominion in the Graveyard. The Broken Lands might even be interpreted as a dark analog of purgatory, its own anachronistic dreamland in another dimension, for foul reincarnation of spirits in association with Charôn.
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 are some minor mythological elements worth noting around the Broken Lands. The most immediate is that the moon Charôn in Shadow World was named after the ferryman of the Underworld in Greek mythology, and was used as the boat driver of the river Acheron in Dante's Inferno. Since the Dark Grotto and Shrine segment pulls off the Underworld of Lovecraft's Dreamlands, and Charôn is only habitable underground, it is conceivable the use of Charôn to enter the Jagged Plain is metaphorical and a dark mirror of the River of Life on Orhan. This is incidental as there are other usages of Charôn.
(1) Iloura's Shrine
In the Shadow World Master Addendum (1990), pages 70-71, Iloura has hundreds of shrines just like the one on Lake Marliese. This is presumably the island referenced in the Uthex Kathiasas story. These are holy places which are used to make hallucinogenic incense out of "certain herbs" for a special smokestone in the altar. The worshipper of Iloura sleeps in the shrine overnight and may be granted a dream vision. In the I.C.E. Age it was common for Iloura to speak here to her followers. The shrine itself is not so much mythological as it is the release event for it may have had mythological elements.
"Iloura's shrines are always dug at lest partway into the ground, but there is usually a small roof-vent to let in a small amount of light and allow smoke to escape. Always above the entrance is the symbol of Iloura: three leaves in a branch. The altar itself a round stone with a large circular depression in the center and a small depression on either side. Set in each of the side depressions is an unusual material called smokestone. It looks like rock but is organic, and can be soaked in a liquid steeped in certain herbs. When dried, it can be lit and smolders for about eight hours before going out. (After cooling or ten or so hours, it can be lit again, and re-used in this manner almost indefinitely.) The smoke from the stones released an incense which allows one who is a follower of Iloura to have visions - should the Lady Iloura wish it. The stones are lit and the center depression is filled with fresh water. The adherent must be alone in the shrine and spend the night. Whether they have a vision or not (requires a successful Meditation roll) they will awake rested in the morning." - Shadow World Master Atlas Addendum (1990); page 71
The shrine was released at the end of the storyline that introduced the Kral (krolvin) in the next valley. It involved rescuing a girl named Marliese who shapeshifted into a puma and breaking the curse on her necklace. This involved putting crystal "tears" into the shrine, which was making the Iloura symbol, and having the light of a rare lunar conjunction shine through it. It was when Charôn is blocked from the sky by Orhan, which could only happen if Orhan (with an average orbital distance of 250,000 miles) was at its closest, and Charôn which averages 190,000 miles was at its most distant (230,000 miles).
[Lysierian Hills, Small Island] Towering pines ring the edge of this small island, their fragrance wafting about you on each wisp of a breeze. Wildflowers, their colors washed away by the greying moonlight, carpet the ground, and mingle with honeysuckle to creep up the stone walls of a small shrine that stands in the center of the circle of trees. From somewhere nearby, an owl calls out its strange song, and is answered by another deeper in the forest. You also see some shallow water along the bank of the island. Obvious paths: none >look shrine Beneath the fragrant blanket of wildflowers and honeysuckle, dark green marble, streaked with deep brown rises to a height of just ten feet or so. A carefully constructed roof of wooden slats is woven through with herbs and dark green ivy, providing shelter from the elements, and welcome to even the weariest of travelers. >go shrine [Lysierian Hills, A Small Shrine] Though there is no door to shut out the world beyond, a feeling of utter tranquility envelops you here. The soothing reminders of the forests are everywhere, wrapping you in a blanket of calm and serenity. Heavy woven rugs cover the floors, and nestle against walls lined with polished mahogany. In the center of the room, a simple stone altar rises up from the midst of a tiny garden of carefully tended, sweetly scented herbs. You also see a simple stone altar with a small carving on it, a jeweled skylight and some ancient tapestries. Obvious exits: out >look altar This altar of deep green bloodstone is set into the middle of a tiny herb garden. Light filtering through a jeweled skylight overhead gleams softly against a small carving mounted on the smooth surface. >look carving Carefully carved from forest green marble flecked with brown is the serene image of the goddess Imaera. In her right hand, she holds a tall, shifting staff, and a garland of living leaves and herbs surrounds her head. >look skylight Pale light filters through the tinted crystals and prisms that form the image of the Flower of Imaera. Brilliant light shines through three prisms at the center of the flower, illuminating the altar. >look tapestries You look at the fifth, and last tapestry in the series. Many years must have passed, for now the valley is showing signs of rejuvenation. Once more, the hills are covered with green, and a lake has begun to form around the spot where Imaera and the children stood. A few people stand just inside the doorway of a small three-sided structure, bathed in brilliant golden light. Examining the threads more closely, you see a jeweled skylight in the ceiling, with three crystal prisms set into the center. In the skies above the valley, a large moon glows with power and just barely visible behind it is a much smaller, silvery grey moon, which was probably completely obscured a few seconds before. From the grounds around the shrine, wildflowers and honeysuckle have begun to sprout and creep toward the building, as if drawn by some strange, magnetic force. (Note: This does not use the smokestone depression, but keeps the entrance symbol and is the context of the herb garden.)
This premise of the moonlight through the symbol does not come from the Shadow World material, though lunar conjunctions have special magical power, as illustrated at the top of Melgorehn's Reach. The mythological element that might be drawn from here is that shamans shapeshifting into pumas or jaguars (though other animals are also possible) is the heart of Central American folklore. These are called nahuals in the Aztec language of Nahuatl, and each day of the calendar system has an associated nahual. The Mayan version of the calendar includes a lunar cycle. Nahuals are spirit animals discovered in dreams similar to the meditation ritual for Iloura' shrines. While it is possible this mythological basis is a coincidence, the fire cat cave insinuates some human shapeshifting with its carved niches as well.
[Smokey Cave, Cavern] You are in a huge, irregularly shaped cavern. It appears as if shallow hollows have been carved from the stone walls all around the cavern. Each of the hollows is approximately 7 feet long, 4 feet high and 4 feet deep, and all appear to be empty. All surfaces are covered with a fine black grit. Obvious exits: northeast, southeast
The forest outside the Snake-Den in Lovecraft's "Silver Key" stories is likened to a fey forest with fauns and dryads. "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath" in particular is one of Lovecraft's "Dunsany" tales, written in the style of Lord Dunsany (who invented "gnolls" among other things), who wrote elven and fey stories. This influence is seen in the night-gaunts who serve the god Nodens, for example, which draw off the myth of kidnapping fairies. In the folklore it is said you can be kidnapped into the Otherworld by faeries if you fall asleep in a "faerie ring", which takes the form of a circular growth of mushrooms.
[Lysierian Hills, Clearing] You find yourself in a small open clearing. At the center of the clearing is an odd ring of multicolored mushrooms. Disturbingly, a hushed silence seems to have fallen over the entire area. You also see a path. Obvious paths: none
This is one of the original rooms of the Seolfar Strake, located near the Smokey Cave with the fire cats and fire rats. It is older than the Broken Lands and Monastery. In the Vvrael quest in late 1997, Castle Anwyn was added to the Lysierian Hills, which very directly references faerie mythology. This was made by GM Talairi and there can be no assumption of mythological continuity. Nodens is the father of Gwyn ap Nudd in Welsh mythology, the King of Anwyn who leads the Wild Hunt. Terate the Prince of Anwyn wore a shoulder satchel clasped with a ki-lin horn. This last point probably has no deeper meaning.
The ki-lin is a mythological creature from Chinese folklore, though this is a dubious point to make as many fantasy game monsters came from mythology. The ki-lin is supposed to appear with the birth or death of great sages, which might be intentional with the "Home of Broken Lore" premise with the death of Uthex Kathiasas. They are supposed to be benevolent creatures who protect the pure, which is essentially the opposite of the monastic liches in the Monastery. This symbolic use of the ki-lin would have to be derived from mythology, as this is not how they are represented in Creatures & Treasures I (1985).
The ki-lin of Rolemaster is actually evil, associated with ice, and resembles a greyhound with a stag's head. The Play.net description of the ki-lin fits the mythological version, corresponding to the ki-rin from later Rolemaster bestiaries, which is a benevolent aerial creature that avoids the land. The "describe" verb does not actually give a creature description if used on the ki-lin when they appear in GemStone.
"Imagine a creature with the head of a dragon, the mane of a lion, the body of a stag and the tail of an ox. Add a solitary horn upon its forehead and the form of the ki-lin is complete. Sightings of this magical and dangerous beast are very rare and thus trophy hunters are said to pay a high price for the horn of the legendary beast." - GemStone IV "Hints of careless seafoam, glacial ice, and serene moonlight illumine the snowy hide of the ki-lin. The fluid elegance of its greyhound's loins, limbs, and stature combines with the nobility of its stag's face to evoke chilled awe rather than wondering delight. The thin spire of a horn burns like a star from its forehead. Oft-mistaken for the unicorn, the ki-lin shares nothing of that beast's gentle virtue. A virgin who awaits the savage ki-lin's submission discovers herself bloodily rent by the starlit horn when its head bows to lie in her lap." - Creatures & Treasures I (1985); page 30 (Note: The describe verb was introduced in early 1993, and the ki-lin were in mid-1992. The hot burning horn comes from Rolemaster, though mythological qilin sometimes are described as breathing fire from their mouths.)
It is possible the association with moonlight or even dark humor about their being monks is the motivation for the ki-lin rather than mythology. However, if it was mythological in intent, the qilin first appeared to the Yellow Emperor. This is almost certainly reaching too far into both subtexts, but the yellow masked high priest not to be named in the "nameless monastery" in Lovecraft's Dreamlands is often interpreted to be Hastur, who is known as the "King in Yellow". Since his monastery is above the vaults of Zin, Uthex's abode could be read as in analogous position to the huge cavern, but this is probably unintentional.
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. Much of the terrain of the Broken Lands is scene-for-scene analogous to the Underworld of the Dreamlands. It might also be using a Randolph Carter sequel titled "Through the Gates of the Silver Key" or other stories.
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 the Dream-Quest. 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 Underworld
The mostly underground expansion from late 1993 or early 1994, which includes the Dark Grotto and Dark Shrine, strongly resembles the journey through the Underworld of the Dreamlands. The Jagged Plains might be inspired from it as well, but it is possible it refers to other locations or stories. It is less clear the whole of the Broken Lands is Underworld themed. This relates to the meaning of Charôn.
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.
Something else to consider is that in the Dream-Quest the exit of the Underworld, at the top of those huge stairs, is not a dark temple but rather the "enchanted wood" which consists of a forest covered with glowing fungi. The bas relief is at the top of the stairs instead of the bottom, and arguably the fungal forest is at the bottom instead of the top. This might suggest the lizards of the cave survive by eating the fungal growths. The relationship between the glowing myklian and the lizards is ambiguous. It is self-consciously weird that they remain, but the magru apparently stripped away all the other animals.
"In the tunnels of that twisted wood, whose low prodigious oaks twine groping boughs and shine dim with the phosphorescence of strange fungi, dwell the furtive and secretive zoogs; who know many obscure secrets of the dream-world and a few of the waking world, since the wood at two places touches the lands of men, though it would be disastrous to say where. Certain unexplained rumours, events, and vanishments occur among men where the zoogs have access, and it is well that they cannot travel far outside the world of dream. But over the nearer parts of the dream-world they pass freely, flitting small and brown and unseen and bearing back piquant tales to beguile the hours around their hearths in the forest they love. Most of them live in burrows, but some inhabit the trunks of the great trees; and although they live mostly on fungi it is muttered that they have also a slight taste for meat, either physical or spiritual, for certainly many dreamers have entered that wood who have not come out. Carter, however, had no fear; for he was an old dreamer and had learnt their fluttering language and made many a treaty with them; having found through their help the splendid city of Celephaïs in Ooth-Nargai beyond the Tanarian Hills, where reigns half the year the great King Kuranes, a man he had known by another name in life. Kuranes was the one soul who had been to the star-gulfs and returned free from madness. Threading now the low phosphorescent aisles between those gigantic trunks, Carter made fluttering sounds in the manner of the zoogs, and listened now and then for responses. He remembered one particular village of the creatures near the centre of the wood, where a circle of great mossy stones in what was once a clearing tells of older and more terrible dwellers long forgotten, and toward this spot he hastened. He traced his way by the grotesque fungi, which always seem better nourished as one approaches the dread circle where elder beings danced and sacrificed. Finally the greater light of those thicker fungi revealed a sinister green and grey vastness pushing up through the roof of the forest and out of sight. This was the nearest of the great ring of stones, and Carter knew he was close to the zoog village. Renewing his fluttering sound, he waited patiently; and was at length rewarded by an impression of many eyes watching him. It was the zoogs, for one sees their weird eyes long before one can discern their small, slippery brown outlines." - "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath"; H.P. Lovecraft [Dark Grotto, Huge Cavern] Making your way among the spires of stone that rise from the cavern floor is like traveling through a strange and exotic forest. Instead of vines and bushes, long growths of stringy moss and huge mushrooms and toadstools provide an undergrowth that chokes the way. The small creatures of a sylvan setting, mice, squirrels and other small furry beasts are not present. Instead, the pale bulging eyes of small lizards blink at you silently before the owners scurry away through the growths of fungi. Obvious exits: north, east, west, northeast.
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.
This has to be regarded in a contingent and hypothetical way. Without an extensive parallel these only provide possible points of reference or inspiration. This poses the difficulty of being indistinguishable from coincidence even if it was intentional. The signal is down in the noise. On the other hand, however, these stores are thematically linked. They involve the same concepts, names, and entities as each other.
(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. When the narrator first regains his consciousness after the ancient telepath vacates his body, he experiences the ability to remember things that have not happened yet, similar to Randolph Carter in the Silver Key stories. This section is of particular note for the Broken Lands because it speaks of remembering the far off consequences of a great war, and the inability to distinguish what is simultaneous or the sequence of events.
"I began work with the February, 1914, term, and kept at it just a year. By that time I realised how badly my experience had shaken me. Though perfectly sane—I hoped—and with no flaw in my original personality, I had not the nervous energy of the old days. Vague dreams and queer ideas continually haunted me, and when the outbreak of the world war turned my mind to history I found myself thinking of periods and events in the oddest possible fashion. My conception of time—my ability to distinguish between consecutiveness and simultaneousness—seemed subtly disordered; so that I formed chimerical notions about living in one age and casting one’s mind all over eternity for knowledge of past and future ages. The war gave me strange impressions of remembering some of its far-off consequences—as if I knew how it was coming out and could look back upon it in the light of future information. All such quasi-memories were attended with much pain, and with a feeling that some artificial psychological barrier was set against them. When I diffidently hinted to others about my impressions I met with varied responses. Some persons looked uncomfortably at me, but men in the mathematics department spoke of new developments in those theories of relativity—then discussed only in learned circles—which were later to become so famous. Dr. Albert Einstein, they said, was rapidly reducing time to the status of a mere dimension." - "The Shadow out of Time"; H.P. Lovecraft (Note: One subtle oddity about the Broken Lands is that the crystal amulet thought net is suppressed in it.)
(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".
(5) The Haunter of the Dark
"The Haunter of the Dark" is another Nyarlathotep centered story, and has its own "seeming sphere" called the Shining Trapezohedron. The Shining Trapezohedron is an ancient artifact fashioned on dark Yuggoth, summoning a malevolent presence into the world from outside time and space, which is one of the avatars of Nyarlathotep. Its shape might explain the multi-faceted sides of the crystal dome in the Broken Lands. The artifact is a "window on all time and space" which summons the entity, for whom horrible sacrifices are given in exchange for arcane and cosmic knowledge of other worlds.
"It was in June that Blake’s diary told of his victory over the cryptogram. The text was, he found, in the dark Aklo language used by certain cults of evil antiquity, and known to him in a halting way through previous researches. The diary is strangely reticent about what Blake deciphered, but he was patently awed and disconcerted by his results. There are references to a Haunter of the Dark awaked by gazing into the Shining Trapezohedron, and insane conjectures about the black gulfs of chaos from which it was called. The being is spoken of as holding all knowledge, and demanding monstrous sacrifices. Some of Blake’s entries shew fear lest the thing, which he seemed to regard as summoned, stalk abroad; though he adds that the street-lights form a bulwark which cannot be crossed. Of the Shining Trapezohedron he speaks often, calling it a window on all time and space, and tracing its history from the days it was fashioned on dark Yuggoth, before ever the Old Ones brought it to earth. It was treasured and placed in its curious box by the crinoid things of Antarctica, salvaged from their ruins by the serpent-men of Valusia, and peered at aeons later in Lemuria by the first human beings. It crossed strange lands and stranger seas, and sank with Atlantis before a Minoan fisher meshed it in his net and sold it to swarthy merchants from nighted Khem. The Pharaoh Nephren-Ka built around it a temple with a windowless crypt, and did that which caused his name to be stricken from all monuments and records. Then it slept in the ruins of that evil fane which the priests and the new Pharaoh destroyed, till the delver’s spade once more brought it forth to curse mankind." - "The Haunter in the Dark"; H.P. Lovecraft >prep 416 You gesture and invoke the powers of the elements for the Piercing Gaze spell... Your spell is ready. >cast dome You gesture at a large crystal dome. The surface of the crystal dome shimmers in your vision, its reflective planes become insubstantial, and you can now see inside. Peering closer you see flashes of swirling elemental energy. Surely this dome must hold an immense amount of mana.
It was once possessed by the Elder Things mentioned above, and the story references the Vale of Pnath. There is also a rebuttal story where horror writer Robert Bloch has the character surviving being possessed by Nyarlathotep, as Bloch and Lovecraft were writing stories killing off characters based on each other. The story provides possible roots for the "hooded figures" and the dark vorteces.
"As Blake grew accustomed to the feeble light he noticed odd bas-reliefs on the strange open box of yellowish metal. Approaching, he tried to clear the dust away with his hands and handkerchief, and saw that the figurings were of a monstrous and utterly alien kind; depicting entities which, though seemingly alive, resembled no known life-form ever evolved on this planet. The four-inch seeming sphere turned out to be a nearly black, red-striated polyhedron with many irregular flat surfaces; either a very remarkable crystal of some sort, or an artificial object of carved and highly polished mineral matter. It did not touch the bottom of the box, but was held suspended by means of a metal band around its centre, with seven queerly designed supports extending horizontally to angles of the box’s inner wall near the top. This stone, once exposed, exerted upon Blake an almost alarming fascination. He could scarcely tear his eyes from it, and as he looked at its glistening surfaces he almost fancied it was transparent, with half-formed worlds of wonder within. Into his mind floated pictures of alien orbs with great stone towers, and other orbs with titan mountains and no mark of life, and still remoter spaces where only a stirring in vague blacknesses told of the presence of consciousness and will." "Before he realised it, he was looking at the stone again, and letting its curious influence call up a nebulous pageantry in his mind. He saw processions of robed, hooded figures whose outlines were not human, and looked on endless leagues of desert lined with carved, sky-reaching monoliths. He saw towers and walls in nighted depths under the sea, and vortices of space where wisps of black mist floated before thin shimmerings of cold purple haze. And beyond all else he glimpsed an infinite gulf of darkness, where solid and semi-solid forms were known only by their windy stirrings, and cloudy patterns of force seemed to superimpose order on chaos and hold forth a key to all the paradoxes and arcana of the worlds we know. Then all at once the spell was broken by an access of gnawing, indeterminate panic fear. Blake choked and turned away from the stone, conscious of some formless alien presence close to him and watching him with horrible intentness. He felt entangled with something—something which was not in the stone, but which had looked through it at him—something which would ceaselessly follow him with a cognition that was not physical sight. Plainly, the place was getting on his nerves—as well it might in view of his gruesome find. The light was waning, too, and since he had no illuminant with him he knew he would have to be leaving soon. It was then, in the gathering twilight, that he thought he saw a faint trace of luminosity in the crazily angled stone. He had tried to look away from it, but some obscure compulsion drew his eyes back. Was there a subtle phosphorescence of radio-activity about the thing? What was it that the dead man’s notes had said concerning a Shining Trapezohedron? What, anyway, was this abandoned lair of cosmic evil? What had been done here, and what might still be lurking in the bird-shunned shadows? It seemed now as if an elusive touch of foetor had arisen somewhere close by, though its source was not apparent. Blake seized the cover of the long-open box and snapped it down. It moved easily on its alien hinges, and closed completely over the unmistakably glowing stone." - "The Haunter in the Dark"; 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 Church of Starry Wisdom is a cult that worships Nyarlathotep and gives him sacrifices to have limitless knowledge of the universe through the Shining Trapezohedron. Their occult texts were already "disintegrating" and might have been destroyed after the central character of the story dies from possession by Nyarlathotep. The Shining Trapezohedron itself was thrown in the bay. This could be relevant to the brutal ritual images in the Dark Shrine, possibly representing the creation of vruul (gogor) from human sacrifices, as well as the destruction of the libraries in the Broken Lands by the Loremasters.
"In a rear vestry room beside the apse Blake found a rotting desk and ceiling-high shelves of mildewed, disintegrating books. Here for the first time he received a positive shock of objective horror, for the titles of those books told him much. They were the black, forbidden things which most sane people have never even heard of, or have heard of only in furtive, timorous whispers; the banned and dreaded repositories of equivocal secrets and immemorial formulae which have trickled down the stream of time from the days of man’s youth, and the dim, fabulous days before man was. He had himself read many of them—a Latin version of the abhorred Necronomicon, the sinister Liber Ivonis, the infamous Cultes des Goules of Comte d’Erlette, the Unaussprechlichen Kulten of von Junzt, and old Ludvig Prinn’s hellish De Vermis Mysteriis. But there were others he had known merely by reputation or not at all—the Pnakotic Manuscripts, the Book of Dzyan, and a crumbling volume in wholly unidentifiable characters yet with certain symbols and diagrams shudderingly recognisable to the occult student. Clearly, the lingering local rumours had not lied. This place had once been the seat of an evil older than mankind and wider than the known universe. In the ruined desk was a small leather-bound record-book filled with entries in some odd cryptographic medium. The manuscript writing consisted of the common traditional symbols used today in astronomy and anciently in alchemy, astrology, and other dubious arts—the devices of the sun, moon, planets, aspects, and zodiacal signs—here massed in solid pages of text, with divisions and paragraphings suggesting that each symbol answered to some alphabetical letter. In the hope of later solving the cryptogram, Blake bore off this volume in his coat pocket. Many of the great tomes on the shelves fascinated him unutterably, and he felt tempted to borrow them at some later time. He wondered how they could have remained undisturbed so long. Was he the first to conquer the clutching, pervasive fear which had for nearly sixty years protected this deserted place from visitors?" - "The Haunter of the Dark"; H.P. Lovecraft [Dark Shrine, Vestry] Time has worked its worst on the large wooden trunk and larger wooden cabinet that stand against the east wall. The wood has deteriorated badly, suffering from dry rot and the ravages of worms. Metal hooks are mounted every foot or so at eye level around the room. Obvious exits: out. [Dark Shrine, Library] Fire has destroyed most of this room. Charred shelves filled with ashes and the remains of countless volumes of books and scrolls line the walls. Several tall desks occupy the center of the room, like the stumps of lightning struck trees. The brass lamps suspended from the ceiling on long chains are covered with soot, and a patina of green and grey corrosion. Obvious exits: out. >look on shelves On the charred shelves you see some ashes and some burned books. >look books The books are damaged beyond recognition. [The Broken Lands, Library] The tall shelves of this once-magnificent library are now completely bare. A large globe stands in one corner, covered with a thick layer of dust. Even though all of the books and scrolls are long gone, the room still carries the odor of old paper and ink. Obvious exits: southwest.
Also of subtextual interest is that when the protagonist is driven mad by "the haunter of the dark", he is raving on Azathoth and the black wings, as well as mentioning the world Yaddith which was destroyed by dholes in "Through the Gates of the Silver Key". (The versions of the Dream-Quest with "Peaks of Throk" also changes "bholes" to "dholes"). It ends with him calling upon Yog-Sothoth to save him.
“Lights still out—must be five minutes now. Everything depends on lightning. Yaddith grant it will keep up! . . . Some influence seems beating through it. . . . Rain and thunder and wind deafen. . . . The thing is taking hold of my mind. . . . “Trouble with memory. I see things I never knew before. Other worlds and other galaxies . . . Dark . . . The lightning seems dark and the darkness seems light. . . . “It cannot be the real hill and church that I see in the pitch-darkness. Must be retinal impression left by flashes. Heaven grant the Italians are out with their candles if the lightning stops! “What am I afraid of? Is it not an avatar of Nyarlathotep, who in antique and shadowy Khem even took the form of man? I remember Yuggoth, and more distant Shaggai, and the ultimate void of the black planets. . . . “The long, winging flight through the void . . . cannot cross the universe of light . . . re-created by the thoughts caught in the Shining Trapezohedron . . . send it through the horrible abysses of radiance. . . . “My name is Blake—Robert Harrison Blake of 620 East Knapp Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. . . . I am on this planet. . . . “Azathoth have mercy!—the lightning no longer flashes—horrible—I can see everything with a monstrous sense that is not sight—light is dark and dark is light . . . those people on the hill . . . guard . . . candles and charms . . . their priests. . . . “Sense of distance gone—far is near and near is far. No light—no glass—see that steeple—that tower—window—can hear—Roderick Usher—am mad or going mad—the thing is stirring and fumbling in the tower—I am it and it is I—I want to get out . . . must get out and unify the forces. . . . It knows where I am. . . . “I am Robert Blake, but I see the tower in the dark. There is a monstrous odour . . . senses transfigured . . . boarding at that tower window cracking and giving way. . . . Iä . . . ngai . . . ygg. . . . “I see it—coming here—hell-wind—titan blur—black wings—Yog-Sothoth save me—the three-lobed burning eye. . . .” - "The Haunter of the Dark"; H.P. Lovecraft
(6) At the Mountains of Madness
"At the Mountains of Madness" is more of a science fiction horror story than the dream vision and esoteric knowledge stories. The Elder Things first arrived on the very ancient Earth before life had evolved, and artificially made the shoggoths to serve them. There are hints that all life on the planet evolved from those cells. It is also depicting re-engineered life forms such as blind six foot tall penguins. This is potentially relevant because the magru resemble shoggoths, actually described in this story, and the ancient Lords of Essaence manipulating life is the Shadow World background context of it all.
"It was under the sea, at first for food and later for other purposes, that they first created earth-life—using available substances according to long-known methods. The more elaborate experiments came after the annihilation of various cosmic enemies. They had done the same thing on other planets; having manufactured not only necessary foods, but certain multicellular protoplasmic masses capable of moulding their tissues into all sorts of temporary organs under hypnotic influence and thereby forming ideal slaves to perform the heavy work of the community. These viscous masses were without doubt what Abdul Alhazred whispered about as the “shoggoths” in his frightful Necronomicon, though even that mad Arab had not hinted that any existed on earth except in the dreams of those who had chewed a certain alkaloidal herb. When the star-headed Old Ones on this planet had synthesised their simple food forms and bred a good supply of shoggoths, they allowed other cell-groups to develop into other forms of animal and vegetable life for sundry purposes; extirpating any whose presence became troublesome." "But we were not on a station platform. We were on the track ahead as the nightmare plastic column of foetid black iridescence oozed tightly onward through its fifteen-foot sinus; gathering unholy speed and driving before it a spiral, re-thickening cloud of the pallid abyss-vapour. It was a terrible, indescribable thing vaster than any subway train—a shapeless congeries of protoplasmic bubbles, faintly self-luminous, and with myriads of temporary eyes forming and unforming as pustules of greenish light all over the tunnel-filling front that bore down upon us, crushing the frantic penguins and slithering over the glistening floor that it and its kind had swept so evilly free of all litter. Still came that eldritch, mocking cry—“Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!” And at last we remembered that the daemoniac shoggoths—given life, thought, and plastic organ patterns solely by the Old Ones, and having no language save that which the dot-groups expressed—had likewise no voice save the imitated accents of their bygone masters." "At the Mountains of Madness"; H.P. Lovecraft
Antarctica in this story is also the material world location of Kadath, and possibly the plateau of Leng, which is described as not having a single definable location. Tsathoggua is another Great Old One, like Nyarlathotep and Cthulhu, who resembles a toad and has some association with shoggoths. In "The Mound" he and the shoggoths are related to the material world Vaults of Zin deep under the Earth.
"There was indeed something hauntingly Roerich-like about this whole unearthly continent of mountainous mystery. I had felt it in October when we first caught sight of Victoria Land, and I felt it afresh now. I felt, too, another wave of uneasy consciousness of Archaean mythical resemblances; of how disturbingly this lethal realm corresponded to the evilly famed plateau of Leng in the primal writings. Mythologists have placed Leng in Central Asia; but the racial memory of man—or of his predecessors—is long, and it may well be that certain tales have come down from lands and mountains and temples of horror earlier than Asia and earlier than any human world we know. A few daring mystics have hinted at a pre-Pleistocene origin for the fragmentary Pnakotic Manuscripts, and have suggested that the devotees of Tsathoggua were as alien to mankind as Tsathoggua itself. Leng, wherever in space or time it might brood, was not a region I would care to be in or near; nor did I relish the proximity of a world that had ever bred such ambiguous and Archaean monstrosities as those Lake had just mentioned. At the moment I felt sorry that I had ever read the abhorred Necronomicon, or talked so much with that unpleasantly erudite folklorist Wilmarth at the university." "For this far violet line could be nothing else than the terrible mountains of the forbidden land—highest of earth’s peaks and focus of earth’s evil; harbourers of nameless horrors and Archaean secrets; shunned and prayed to by those who feared to carve their meaning; untrodden by any living thing of earth, but visited by the sinister lightnings and sending strange beams across the plains in the polar night—beyond doubt the unknown archetype of that dreaded Kadath in the Cold Waste beyond abhorrent Leng, whereof unholy primal legends hint evasively. We were the first human beings ever to see them—and I hope to God we may be the last." "Certainly, we were in one of the strangest, weirdest, and most terrible of all the corners of earth’s globe. Of all existing lands it was infinitely the most ancient; and the conviction grew upon us that this hideous upland must indeed be the fabled nightmare plateau of Leng which even the mad author of the Necronomicon was reluctant to discuss." - "At the Mountains of Madness"; H.P. Lovecraft
(7) The Call of Cthulhu
"The Call of Cthulhu" might be relevant because Cthulhu is depicted as only having "rudimentary wings" and the minor gogor, unlike in the Shadow World canon, are described as having wings that look too small to capable of flight. This might be nothing more than an explanation for why they had no flying mechanics. But if it is tapping into the sleeping death theme of Cthulhu, the cults receive knowledge from Cthultu through dreams, allowing cults in very different places and times with no connection between them to know the same phrases. This could be relevant to the timeline issues with the Dark Shrine.
"Above these apparent hieroglyphics was a figure of evidently pictorial intent, though its impressionistic execution forbade a very clear idea of its nature. It seemed to be a sort of monster, or symbol representing a monster, of a form which only a diseased fancy could conceive. If I say that my somewhat extravagant imagination yielded simultaneous pictures of an octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature, I shall not be unfaithful to the spirit of the thing. A pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary wings; but it was the general outline of the whole which made it most shockingly frightful. Behind the figure was a vague suggestion of a Cyclopean architectural background." "The figure, which was finally passed slowly from man to man for close and careful study, was between seven and eight inches in height, and of exquisitely artistic workmanship. It represented a monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore feet, and long, narrow wings behind. This thing, which seemed instinct with a fearsome and unnatural malignancy, was of a somewhat bloated corpulence, and squatted evilly on a rectangular block or pedestal covered with undecipherable characters." - "The Call of Cthulhu"; H.P. Lovecraft The lesser vruul has tough, leathery hide, as black as midnight. Bat-like wings sprout from its back, but they do not look large or strong enough to support its weight in flight. The vruul's claws are long, sharp and appear to be stained with the blood of many victims. Its eyes are eerie, solid green orbs that seem to glow with an inner power.
Given the implicit sleep theme of the gogor and their urns, and the Temple of Darkness poem being from another time and place, calling Morgu "spirit born of death" can easily be read this way.
"No book had ever really hinted of it, though the deathless Chinamen said that there were double meanings in the Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred which the initiated might read as they chose, especially the much-discussed couplet: “That is not dead which can eternal lie, And with strange aeons even death may die.” What, in substance, both the Esquimau wizards and the Louisiana swamp-priests had chanted to their kindred idols was something very like this—the word-divisions being guessed at from traditional breaks in the phrase as chanted aloud: “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.” Legrasse had one point in advance of Professor Webb, for several among his mongrel prisoners had repeated to him what older celebrants had told them the words meant. This text, as given, ran something like this: “In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.” - "The Call of Cthulhu"; H.P. Lovecraft Morgu, Cruel Master. Guard the Dark Queen. Spirit born of death. - The Temple of Darkness Poem (1994)
(8) The Evil Clergyman
"The Evil Clergyman" is adapted from a dream where evil priests mysteriously appear and burn a library. There are low odds of this having any relevance, because there is only the one point of connection. But it is a tighter fit for the burning of the Dark Shrine library than the raid on the vestry in "The Haunter of the Dark". If this were the allegorical intent it would be implying the dark priests burned their own library, perhaps after transferring or transforming themselves into the gogor. This would not be intuitive without the hidden reference, but it would thereby also explain the smashed faces and altar.
"The newcomer was a thin, dark man of medium height attired in the clerical garb of the Anglican church. He was apparently about thirty years old, with a sallow, olive complexion and fairly good features, but an abnormally high forehead. His black hair was well cut and neatly brushed, and he was clean-shaven though blue-chinned with a heavy growth of beard. He wore rimless spectacles with steel bows. His build and lower facial features were like other clergymen I had seen, but he had a vastly higher forehead, and was darker and more intelligent-looking—also more subtly and concealedly evil-looking. At the present moment—having just lighted a faint oil lamp—he looked nervous, and before I knew it he was casting all his magical books into a fireplace on the window side of the room (where the wall slanted sharply) which I had not noticed before. The flames devoured the volumes greedily—leaping up in strange colours and emitting indescribably hideous odours as the strangely hieroglyphed leaves and wormy bindings succumbed to the devastating element. All at once I saw there were others in the room—grave-looking men in clerical costume, one of whom wore the bands and knee-breeches of a bishop. Though I could hear nothing, I could see that they were bringing a decision of vast import to the first-comer. They seemed to hate and fear him at the same time, and he seemed to return these sentiments. His face set itself into a grim expression, but I could see his right hand shaking as he tried to grip the back of a chair. The bishop pointed to the empty case and to the fireplace (where the flames had died down amidst a charred, non-committal mass), and seemed filled with a peculiar loathing. The first-comer then gave a wry smile and reached out with his left hand toward the small object on the table. Everyone then seemed frightened. The procession of clerics began filing down the steep stairs through the trap-door in the floor, turning and making menacing gestures as they left. The bishop was last to go." - "The Evil Clergyman"; H.P. Lovecraft [Dark Shrine, Library] Fire has destroyed most of this room. Charred shelves filled with ashes and the remains of countless volumes of books and scrolls line the walls. Several tall desks occupy the center of the room, like the stumps of lightning struck trees. The brass lamps suspended from the ceiling on long chains are covered with soot, and a patina of green and grey corrosion. Obvious exits: out. >look on shelves On the charred shelves you see some ashes and some burned books. >look books The books are damaged beyond recognition. >look lamp The lamp is covored with soot and a fine patina of corrosion.
This would allow the events of the Dark Shrine to be of another time period from the Loremasters entirely. Though in the story they were able to sense the presence of portals from a long distance through a mountain. The story makes clear that they made it onto the "barren" plain which then became a jagged plain after the meteor swarm. But it does not reference the Dark Grotto and Dark Shrine, which were not released until later. If the cultists found the gogor in the Third Era, the Temple of Darkness Poem might not be an anachronism, but it loses the theme of working with the Dark Gods in the Wars of Dominion.
(9) The Devotee of Evil
"The Devotee of Evil" in contrast is a Clark Ashton Smith story, the horror author from whom Lovecraft took Tsathoggua the toad daemon. This story is based on a gong apparatus for manifesting cosmic evil, which then takes the form of columns of shadow. Witnessing the pure evil transforms a character into a black statue with analogy to Medusa and Lucifer frozen in Inferno. This might provide inspiration for the cracked gong, the dark vorteces, and the black Morgu statue in the room with the suffocating consuming evil. The premise is that the gongs cancel out the frequencies of everything except pure evil.
"While I was trying to digest this difficult idea, I noticed a partial dimming of the light above the tripod and its weird apparatus. A vertical shaft of faint shadow, surrounded by a still fainter penumbra, was forming in the air. The tripod itself, and the wires, gongs and hammers, were now a trifle indistinct, as if seen through some obscuring veil. The central shaft and its penumbra seemed to widen; and looking down at the flood, where the outer adumbration, conforming to the room's outline, crept toward the walls, I saw that Averaud and myself were now within its ghostly triangle." - "The Devotee of Evil"; Clark Ashton Smith "Like a dreamer who forces himself to awaken, he began to move away from me. I seemed to lose sight of him for a moment in the cloud of nameless, immaterial horrors that threatened to take on the further horror of substance. Then I realized that Averaud had turned off the switch, and that the oscillating hammers had ceased to beat on those infernal gongs. The double shaft of shadow faded in mid-air, the burden of terror and despair lifted from my nerves and I no longer felt the damnable hallucination of nether space and descent. "My God!" I cried. "What was it?" Averaud's look was full of a ghastly, gloating exultation as he turned to me. "You saw and felt it, then?" he queried — "that vague, imperfect manifestation of the perfect evil which exists somewhere in the cosmos? I shall yet call it forth in its entirety, and know the black, infinite, reverse raptures which attend its epiphany." - "The Devotee of Evil"; Clark Ashton Smith "Again the soul-congealing hideousness, the sense of eternal falling, of myriad harpy-like incumbent horrors, rushed upon me as I looked and saw. Vaster and stronger than before, a double column of triangular shadow had materialized and was becoming more and more distinct. It swelled, it darkened, it enveloped the gong-apparatus and towered to the ceiling. The double column grew solid and opaque as ebony; and the face of Averaud, who was standing well within the broad penumbral shadow, became dim as if seen through a film of Stygian water." - "The Devotee of Evil"; Clark Ashton Smith [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 gong A crack runs from the rim of the huge corroded disk to the center. >look altar The altar table is covered with dark stains, and one corner has been broken off. A dark vortece shoots a shaft of pure darkness at you! A dark vortece extends forth a multitude of branching shadowy tendrils, scattering elongated umbrae across the floor. A dark vortece emits a low hum.
The inventor of the apparatus, upon manifesting the pure cosmic evil, is frozen in the form of a black statue compared to Lucifer. In the Shadow World context pure, cosmic evil is the Unlife itself. In the Master Atlas Addendum the Dark Gods are manifestations of the dark energy where the Unlife is its purest form. This is also of subtextual interest given the Inferno and Nyarlathotep parallel in the Graveyard.
"As one who re-emerges from a swoon, I saw the fading of the dual pillar, till the light was no longer sullied by any tinge of that satanic radiation. And where it had been, Averaud still stood beside the baleful instrument he had designed. Erect and rigid he stood, in a strange immobility; and I felt an incredulous horror, a chill awe, as I went forward and touched him with a faltering hand. For that which I saw and touched was no longer a human being but an ebon statue, whose face and brow and fingers were black as the Faust-like raiment or the sullen curtains. Charred as by sable fire, or frozen by black cold, the features bore the eternal ecstasy and pain of Lucifer in his ultimate hell of ice. For an instant, the supreme evil which Averaud had worshipped so madly, which he had summoned from the vaults of incalculable space, had made him one with itself; and passing, it had left him petrified into an image of its own essence. The form that I touched was harder than marble; and I knew that it would endure to all time as a testimony of the infinite Medusean power that is death and corruption and darkness. Fifine had now thrown herself at the feet of the image and was clasping its insensible knees. With her frightful muted moaning in my ears, I went forth for the last time from that chamber and from that mansion. Vainly, through delirious months and madness-ridden years, I have tried to shake off the infrangible obsession of my memories. But there is a fatal numbness in my brain as if it too had been charred and blackened a little in that moment of overpowering nearness to the dark ray of the black statue that was Jean Averaud, the impress of awful and forbidden things has been set like an everlasting seal." - "The Devotee of Evil"; Clark Ashton Smith [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.
(10) The Last Test
"The Last Test" is one of the more obscure Lovecraft stories mentioning Yog-Sothoth. This story mentions Nyarlathotep as well, and was his first story mentioning Shub-Niggurath. It was one of the stories he wrote that was a revision of a story written by another author. There is some reason to suspect the 1989 "The Horror in the Museum and Other Revisions" compilation was used in the Graveyard.
“Humanity! What the deuce is humanity? Science! Dolts! Just individuals over and over again! Humanity is made for preachers to whom it means the blindly credulous. Humanity is made for the predatory rich to whom it speaks in terms of dollars and cents. Humanity is made for the politician to whom it signifies collective power to be used to his advantage. What is humanity? Nothing! Thank God that crude illusion doesn’t last! What a grown man worships is truth—knowledge—science—light—the rending of the veil and the pushing back of the shadow. Knowledge, the juggernaut! There is death in our own ritual. We must kill—dissect—destroy—and all for the sake of discovery—the worship of the ineffable light. The goddess Science demands it. We test a doubtful poison by killing. How else? No thought for self—just knowledge—the effect must be known.” His voice trailed off in a kind of temporary exhaustion, and Georgina shuddered slightly. “But this is horrible, Al! You shouldn’t think of it that way!” Clarendon cackled sardonically, in a manner which stirred odd and repugnant associations in his sister’s mind. “Horrible? You think what I say is horrible? You ought to hear Surama! I tell you, things were known to the priests of Atlantis that would have you drop dead of fright if you heard a hint of them. Knowledge was knowledge a hundred thousand years ago, when our especial forbears were shambling about Asia as speechless semi-apes! They know something of it in the Hoggar region—there are rumours in the farther uplands of Thibet—and once I heard an old man in China calling on Yog-Sothoth—“ - "The Last Test"; H.P. Lovecraft
The very thin potential relevance for us is the use of the word "juggernaut" in the context of the glowing crystal dome. It is the messaging that happens when the dome explodes with power, unleashing a destructive wave of energy that is highly lethal. The story uses Nyarlathotep's epithet "the crawling chaos." "The Crawling Chaos" story does not actually feature Nyarlathotep, but features dream visions from opium, and depicts the world being destroyed in an apocalypse. These two stories both appear in "The Horror in the Museum and Other Revisions", along with "The Mound" for Shadow Valley.
Suddenly a hot wave of pure energy rushes out of the crystal dome, rolling forth like an apocalyptic juggernaut. The heat of the wave burns your flesh! ... 35 points of damage! Flame sets your head alight like a torch. Burned beyond recognition.
(11) The Colour Out of Space
It is most likely not an intentional allusion, but the meteor swarm cast in the Uthex Kathiasas story might have been inspired by "The Colour Out of Space", which has an otherworldly horror arrive by a meteor impact. If it is relevant at all it is one of the more minor stories. It is worth mentioning here because Research:Shadow Valley argues that "The Colour Out of Space" may be a relatively strong influence on Shadow Valley, and there are some details in common between the two places. This is another Lovecraft story with sinister mists that could have influenced the use of fog in the Broken Lands.
(12) The Mound and the Whisperer in Darkness
"The Whisperer in Darkness" is a story under H.P. Lovecraft's own name that refers to the underground realms of K'n-yan, Yoth, and N'kai where the last is a dwelling place of Tsathoggua the bat-toad thing. This realm is instead explored in detail in a different story, "The Mound", which was ghost written by Lovecraft. "The Whisperer in Darkness" is set on Yuggoth after Lovecraft had associated it with the newly discovered (now former) planet of Pluto. Yuggoth is the source of the Shining Trapezohedron, which was at one time possessed by the serpent men of Valusia, according to "The Haunter of the Dark".
"“But remember—that dark world of fungoid gardens and windowless cities isn’t really terrible. It is only to us that it would seem so. Probably this world seemed just as terrible to the beings when they first explored it in the primal age. You know they were here long before the fabulous epoch of Cthulhu was over, and remember all about sunken R’lyeh when it was above the waters. They’ve been inside the earth, too—there are openings which human beings know nothing of—some of them in these very Vermont hills—and great worlds of unknown life down there; blue-litten K’n-yan, red-litten Yoth, and black, lightless N’kai. It’s from N’kai that frightful Tsathoggua came—you know, the amorphous, toad-like god-creature mentioned in the Pnakotic Manuscripts and the Necronomicon and the Commoriom myth-cycle preserved by the Atlantean high-priest Klarkash-Ton." - "The Whisperer in Darkness"; H.P. Lovecraft
"The Mound" is argued on Research:Shadow Valley to be relatively likely to be an influence on the Shadow Valley story. These realms and races do not seem relevant, but they can oddly be relevant to the Broken Lands, assuming the Underworld parallel to "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath" was intentional. In this story lightless N'kai is actually located under the "waking world" version of the Vaults of Zin, which possesses reptilian quadrupeds which were somehow debased from its former intelligent population. Subtextual interconnections or "meta-references" are very treacherous, but it is seductive to link the myklians and toad brazier to Tsathoggua through the vaults of Zin, and it provides a natural link between the magru and the shoggoths. In this way it is possible to explain both the magru and myklian at once, however dubiously, without having to appeal to separate stories like "At the Mountains of Madness". In the broader Cthulhu Mythos the former race of Yoth in question was the serpent men of Valusia.
"There was one object along the route which Gll’-Hthaa-Ynn exhibited on his own initiative, even though it involved a detour of about a mile along a vine-tangled side path. This was a squat, plain temple of black basalt blocks without a single carving, and containing only a vacant onyx pedestal. The remarkable thing about it was its story, for it was a link with a fabled elder world compared to which even cryptic Yoth was a thing of yesterday. It had been built in imitation of certain temples depicted in the vaults of Zin, to house a very terrible black toad-idol found in the red-litten world and called Tsathoggua in the Yothic manuscripts. It had been a potent and widely worshipped god, and after its adoption by the people of K’n-yan had lent its name to the city which was later to become dominant in that region. Yothic legend said that it had come from a mysterious inner realm beneath the red-litten world—a black realm of peculiar-sensed beings which had no light at all, but which had had great civilisations and mighty gods before ever the reptilian quadrupeds of Yoth had come into being. Many images of Tsathoggua existed in Yoth, all of which were alleged to have come from the black inner realm, and which were supposed by Yothic archaeologists to represent the aeon-extinct race of that realm. The black realm called N’kai in the Yothic manuscripts had been explored as thoroughly as possible by these archaeologists, and singular stone troughs or burrows had excited infinite speculation. When the men of K’n-yan discovered the red-litten world and deciphered its strange manuscripts, they took over the Tsathoggua cult and brought all the frightful toad images up to the land of blue light—housing them in shrines of Yoth-quarried basalt like the one Zamacona now saw. The cult flourished until it almost rivalled the ancient cults of Yig and Tulu, and one branch of the race even took it to the outer world, where the smallest of the images eventually found a shrine at Olathoë, in the land of Lomar near the earth’s north pole. It was rumoured that this outer-world cult survived even after the great ice-sheet and the hairy Gnophkehs destroyed Lomar, but of such matters not much was definitely known in K’n-yan. In that world of blue light the cult came to an abrupt end, even though the name of Tsath was suffered to remain. What ended the cult was the partial exploration of the black realm of N’kai beneath the red-litten world of Yoth. According to the Yothic manuscripts, there was no surviving life in N’kai, but something must have happened in the aeons between the days of Yoth and the coming of men to the earth; something perhaps not unconnected with the end of Yoth. Probably it had been an earthquake, opening up lower chambers of the lightless world which had been closed against the Yothic archaeologists; or perhaps some more frightful juxtaposition of energy and electrons, wholly inconceivable to any sort of vertebrate minds, had taken place. At any rate, when the men of K’n-yan went down into N’kai’s black abyss with their great atom-power searchlights they found living things—living things that oozed along stone channels and worshipped onyx and basalt images of Tsathoggua. But they were not toads like Tsathoggua himself. Far worse—they were amorphous lumps of viscous black slime that took temporary shapes for various purposes. The explorers of K’n-yan did not pause for detailed observations, and those who escaped alive sealed the passage leading from red-litten Yoth down into the gulfs of nether horror. Then all the images of Tsathoggua in the land of K’n-yan were dissolved into the ether by disintegrating rays, and the cult was abolished forever. Aeons later, when naive fears were outgrown and supplanted by scientific curiosity, the old legends of Tsathoggua and N’kai were recalled, and a suitably armed and equipped exploring party went down to Yoth to find the closed gate of the black abyss and see what might still lie beneath. But they could not find the gate, nor could any man ever do so in all the ages that followed. Nowadays there were those who doubted that any abyss had ever existed, but the few scholars who could still decipher the Yothic manuscripts believed that the evidence for such a thing was adequate, even though the middle records of K’n-yan, with accounts of the one frightful expedition into N’kai, were more open to question. Some of the later religious cults tried to suppress remembrance of N’kai’s existence, and attached severe penalties to its mention; but these had not begun to be taken seriously at the time of Zamacona’s advent to K’n-yan." - "The Mound"; H.P. Lovecraft
The theme of the Broken Lands is the Dark Gods and the forces of the Unlife working together in the Wars of Dominion. The more specific theme is the relationship between the servants of Kadaena, which is the forces of the Unlife, and the Dark Lords of Charôn. The story is working with the historical context of the Lords of Essaence having manipulated life to suit their needs. Most of the difficulty in interpretation is instead the question of when and where things happened, and what the Temple of Darkness poem and Dark Shrine are implying about the origin of the Dark Gods and their relation to Empress Kadaena.
There is a rumor that the title "Broken Lands" was inspired by the Broken Land Parkway, which was not far from the Maryland office of Simutronics. This would need to be verified from someone who heard it directly or nearly so from the creator, as there is no way to judge whether that kind of easter egg is intentional. The title of the Uthex Kathiasas story, notably, was "The Broken Land" singular not plural.
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 most likely in some way 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 a 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.
"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)
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. It is worth considering that it might actually be the point that the Broken Lands cannot be clearly located or sequenced historically. This is a motif in the Lovecraft stories, including nominally contradictory places.
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. 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.
It is possible that the confusion over terrain consistency with Charôn is actually a case of things being intentionally backwards. The Research:The Graveyard and Research:Shadow Valley pages argue that The Graveyard and Shadow Valley make various kinds of parallels but then the details are all backwards. In the case of Shadow Valley, for example, the "Shadow Valley" is identical to the "Secluded Valley" as a parallel dimension, except the details are flipped. Loud on one side is silent on the other, and vice versa, grey becomes black and black becomes grey. Shadow Valley may be a more explicit "dreamlands" premise than the Broken Lands. This may explain the oddity of Morgu's cavern being filled with a stream and stalagmites, formed by water dripping from the ceiling, when he hates rain and running water.
With the Broken Lands it would similarly be a parallel dimension of Charôn where it is all backwards. Instead of the underground volcanism creating habitable caverns with almost no gravity and a surface covered with ice and no atmosphere, it is surface volcanism with an atmosphere and boiling mud from melted ice and normal gravity. Instead of the Dark Gods imprisoned there, the Dark Gods are totally absent. The fungal forest and horrible bas relief are on flipped ends of the huge stairwell relative to "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath". The Peaks of Throk are not being represented underground.
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.
In the Shar storyline there was a struggle between the Sheruvians and Shar over the power draining dome and an artifact called the Sphere of Midnight. Shar wished to control them for accessing "the Arkati Workshop" in her quest for godhood. Players were referring to the Broken Lands as "the moon", and the Arkati Workshop as being some place that is everywhere and nowhere, but it is conceivable the Arkati Workshop was related to the Broken Lands itself. If this was the case players may have been confusing the point with "the moon". There are insufficient logs for discerning the meaning of these terms.
The "minions" of Uthex Kathiasas in the Broken Lands are likely to be partly allegorical, referring to sources such as H.P. Lovecraft stories, but were probably also adapted from a class of non-demonic "other" standard extra-planar entities from Rolemaster. In Creatures & Treasures II (1989) these entities appear between pages 32 and 35. This includes not only the monsters which can be hunted in the game, but also in one or two cases features of the terrain. The crystal forest and most likely the boiling sea of mud, with the crystal and mud objects in each room, were part of the puzzle turning off the crystal dome.
The basic relevance of the creatures actually being these extra-planar entities is that it means Uthex was giving physical form out of energy and thereby making these entities from raw power. The crystyls and hoard as part of the crystal dome mechanism may effectively be a vast library of other worlds. With the ability to fashion non-demonic extra-planar entities, it follows that the perilous influence of the forces of the Unlife twisted this towards the demonic or even the avatars of Dark Gods. As a matter of subtext with Research:The Graveyard it might be putting souls into them or reincarnating souls in these forms.
The giant fog beetles were not named in Iruaric. The Iruaric premise of "Man'Ta Pn'Tairken" was present in the Uthex Kathiasas story, but the Iruaric glossary was probably not until the Dark Grotto and Shrine expansion. They might be an allegorical reference to the beetle race after the fall of man in Lovecraft's "The Shadow out of Time". They also resemble D&D extra-planar beetles such as "bonespears", though this is probably not an inspiration, as the earliest publication of bonespears may have been pages 18-19 of Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix II which has a publication date of October 1995.
In the Rolemaster context they are probably supposed to be wandering extra-planar insect vermin known as Dictics. The Dictics come in a number of varieties, but a given place will have all the same kind. Their dense chitinous shell is as strong as steel, which explains why the fog beetles were made to be immune to punctures. They wander between planes through portals that are left open or accidentally through summons of other entities. The primary difference is that the Dictics are only 6" long, though capable of lifting 300 pounds, and the giant fog beetles are "giant" insects. The fog aspect would not come from this, nor would the lobster tail and claws, which do not have clear inspiration. It could refer to the lobster in The Moon major arcana card from Tarot decks but this is most likely only coincidental.
"The giant fog beetle appears to be some sort of giant insect. It looks a little like some misshapen scorpion, but the tail on it is not as long as a scorpion's would be, and it flares like the tail of a lobster rather than ending in a poison sting. The segmented body is wide, supported by six short multi-jointed legs. A dull red chitinous shell covers most of its body, and a broad carapace protects its head. Two massive claws provide the creature with formidable weapons."
Less intuitive are the Crystyls, which are large crystal formations. This is the crystal forest that "grows" all around the Jagged Plain. When the puzzle for turning off the crystal dome still existed, it is said that part of it involved casting the old Sorcerer spell Forget (703) at each crystal cluster. Each Crystyl is 10 to 20 feet in diameter. The crystyls move very slowly unless they are attacking. They exist in multiple places or even on multiple planes of existence simultaneously, making them tremendous sources of information if contacted through mental spells. This is the sense of casting Forget (703) on them.
[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.
Hoard are extra-planar mud monsters which are actually a vast colony of cells. Hoard are able to take on humanoid form, and split themselves in half up to two times, making up to four Hoard humanoids. They are also capable of teleporting themselves around 100 feet. The Hoard are collectively aware of all other Hoard. This is irrespective of distance, including other planes of existence. Thus, similar to the Crystyls, they have transplanar awareness and information. They have an innate ability to sense dimensional warps and thus seek out portals to other realities. They cannot be summoned and wander between many planes of existence with no home world. In the context of the crystal dome puzzle some spell likely had to be cast at each instance of "mud" along the southern side of the Jagged Plain.
[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.
Given that the text associates touching them with being stunned, and their ability to cast the Sorcerer "Major Pain" on page 34 of Creatures & Treasures II, if the boiling sea of mud was meant to be based on Hoard it might have involved casting Mind Jolt (706) or Major Pain (708) on the mud to disrupt the colonies. As of February 25, 1994, the Sorcerer Base list had been implemented through level 10.
Absorbers are 5 or 6 foot blobs which secrete acid all over themselves. They replicate themselves by devouring flesh, splitting themselves in two with equal mass. Their main form of attack is to assault their victims with acid, where touching them burns the flesh. The weapon is also likely to get the worst of it when attacking them, which might explain why the magru are immune to many weapon types. Absorbers are "very anxious" to get to other planes to acquire more food, as their tendency is to strip bare the planes where they exist. They will try to come through in great numbers if they come across a portal.
The magru appears to be a huge, gelatinous red lump that pulses, swelling and shrinking slightly with a hypnotic rhythm. Its skin glistens with a dark, disgusting ooze. You swing your pink vultite maul at the magru, but when the weapon slices through the magru's flesh, the wound closes instantly leaving no trace that the magru was injured! The surface of the magru suddenly pulsates, forming a long blunt appendage! A magru pounds at you with its fist! AS: +210 vs DS: +290 with AvD: +42 + d100 roll: +80 = +42 A clean miss. A magru pulsates violently and a stream of dark fluid shoots out in your direction! You try to dodge out of the way but you are struck by the stream of fluid! Hit for 5 concussion points. ... 22 points of damage! Acid dissolves the skin on the neck exposing the windpipe! You are stunned for 6 rounds! You reach out to search the magru. As soon as you make contact with it, you feel an intense burning sensation! You are injured! You find a white opal, a large black pearl and a turquoise stone concealed in the disgusting pile of jelly! The remains of a magru evaporate away. (Note: Absorbers are described as bluish-purple, the magru are described as red.)
The Nycorac is a mysterious invisible entity which can move between planes at will, with a tendency to show up by accident during summonings. They give a sense of feeling watched. It is composed of an unknown energy and gives its victims "chills", grappling them with "tendrils", and detection spells reveal only darkness. This combined with the Blacar is likely to be the Rolemaster basis of the dark vorteces, where the Blacar provide the cold criticals and the hazy tenebrous orbs. Blacar are 1'-1.5' floating black spheres which swoop through their targets doing cold damage and draining stat points.
A dark vortece flickers momentarily, attempting to blend into the shadows. A dark vortece draws itself toward its center, giving it the appearance of an amorphous cloud of shadows. A dark vortece extends forth a multitude of branching shadowy tendrils, scattering elongated umbrae across the floor.
The dark vorteces have some strange life cycle where they dissipate out of existence, leaving behind hazy tenebrous orbs. When the dark vorteces wander into the huge cavern, too far from the Dark Shrine, they naturally begin decaying until they disappear entirely. The myklian do not appear to be based on a creature from this section, and may be aberrations grown from the reptiles of the huge cavern.
A dark vortece seems to shrink, losing some of its intensity. A dark vortece drifts smoothly north, leaving a shadowy haze in its wake. A dark vortece seems to shrink, losing some of its intensity. The dark vortece collapses in on itself. You feel an icy chill as the dark form seems to recede into nothingness.
These tenebrous orbs might explain the strange pile of large round stones, that are all about 10 inches in size, nested in the Dark Grotto.
[Dark Grotto, Cavern] The floor of this small round cavern dips suddenly down, forming a kind of bowl with the lowest point at the center of the cavern. Large round stones, all of them roughly the same size and shape, lie scattered around the cavern, but for the most part are heaped in a loose pile at the center of the cavern. Obvious exits: north >look stone The stones are fairly uniform in size, shape and color. They are all dark grey balls of smooth stone, about ten inches in diameter. >take orb You pick up a hazy tenebrous orb. >look orb A dark grey mist appears trapped within the glass-like orb. Despite its lifelike resemblance to a ball of early morning fog, the thick mist remains unmoving, maintaining its perfect nebulous form. Twisted shadows linger within the orb where the ambient light is unable to penetrate the heavy grey haze.
Traag are an anomalous case because they are not actually present in the Broken Lands. The question is why the lug'shuk traglaakh, the magru, are pronounced as "trag" when "trog" is used in the puzzle for exiting the Dark Shrine. This may be a play on words between Traag and the Iruaric for "cave", given the Traag in this entities category. They are essentially cave dwelling large extra-planar panthers with venomous claws, double rows of teeth, and who summon demons. Lug'shuk traglaakh may be insinuating there used to be traag but the magru ate them all. The unrecognizable huge thigh bones in the deep pit are probably allegorical, alluding to the bones of the gugs in the Vale of Pnath in "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath", but it does imply something used to exist in the caves that no longer exists.
Xaastyl are flying squid entities who are the ultimate masters of arcane knowledge, with a vast library of extra-planar knowledge put together from their wanderings. In much later Shadow World books Kesh'ta'kai's tentacle monster avatar looks almost exactly like them. These are most likely not relevant to the Broken Lands, but would be a sensible origin for Kesh'ta'kai if that thread were pulled.
The crystal dome is implicitly a Lord of Essaence artifact, which means it should be from the First Era of the Shadow World history. The Dark Shrine reinforces this theme with the gogor. This is the only sense in the monsters of the Broken Lands having originally been named in Iruaric, as the Lords of Essaence were responsible for artificially mutating and fashioning other life forms. The work of Uthex Kathiasas was giving a "physical form" to his "new source of power", and the only obvious way of interpreting that is the crystal dome itself, which drains and concentrates tremendous amounts of power. The other possibility is that the Dark Gods themselves are surviving Lord of Essaence followers of Empress Kadaena who returned to this universe in the Second Era after being banished in the Final Conflict.
The Major Sub-Texts section explores possible inspirations in two of Lovecraft's "almost spheres", the Shining Trapezohedron and the "Ultimate Gate" of the Last Void. The former is "a window on all time and space" while the latter allows the transformation of beings into profoundly different physical incarnations. The implication is that the dome is able to summon extra-planar entities from other realities, possibly as a template or act of recycling, using the power it absorbs to incarnate their physical being from pure energy. It would allow control over beings that ordinarily could not be summoned.
The extension of this idea is that the souls of the hooded figures can be endlessly reincarnated, without the aid of Eissa (Lorminstra), even transmogrified into otherworldly or demonic manifestations. In the early I.C.E. source books, such as the Cloudlords of Tanara (1984) or even vestigially in the "whirlwind" history synopses of the 1989 adventure modules, the Lords of Essence were thought to have made the Demons of the Pale artificially out of the essence itself. In the later Shadow World books some Loremasters speculated the Dark Gods, who are related to the Demons of the Pale, originated in "failed" Lord of Essaence experiments with creating non-corporeal life forms. These ideas might be mixed into an ascension to godhood concept for Kadaena's surviving followers in the phrase "spirit born of death."
The crystyl forest surrounding the crystal dome is argued above to probably be a special kind of trans-planar entity that would provide the means of simultaneously viewing and drawing upon an almost limitless amount of such information. Similarly, the boiling mud sea would be a vast colony of the hoard, which are mutually self-aware across all realities. The master orb in the Sheruvian monastery also forces visions into the minds of those present, allowing transportation to vastly distant places on our plane of existence, and representing potential futures of our world or more horrific alternate timelines.
[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. R>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. R>prep [most spells] >cast dome You gesture at a large crystal dome. The energies of your spell seem to get sucked into the dome in a great rush. A bright flash lights up the area and as your eyes adjust you notice that the dome absorbs all the energy without a sound. R>prep 416 You gesture and invoke the powers of the elements for the Piercing Gaze spell... Your spell is ready. >cast dome You gesture at a large crystal dome. The surface of the crystal dome shimmers in your vision, its reflective planes become insubstantial, and you can now see inside. Peering closer you see flashes of swirling elemental energy. Surely this dome must hold an immense amount of mana.
The dome is a concentrator of great deals of magical power, which would otherwise spill out in violent bursts. Teleportation spells and devices fail in its vicinity, and it suppresses the ability to "reach out with your senses" in communicating telepathically. This is relevant because a number of his entities (if the above is correct) were actually mentalist in nature, and were named in the partially telepathic language Iruaric. The Shining Trapezohedron was a "seeming sphere" that turned out to be a "highly polished" polyhedron that was artificial, and covered with strange hieroglyphs, similar to ancient Iruaric for us.
While the Sorcerer spell Phase (704) will cause a violent release of energy, the dome can only naturally hold so much power at a single time without backlashing on its own. It is based on the actual quantity of mana absorbed, whether spells cast or mana sent in a given interval of time. Casting phase does not release energy from the dome in terms of game mechanics, but the backlash from excess power absorption immediately resets it. The inside of the crystal dome does not appear differently with Piercing Gaze (416) under changes of energy concentration, with no other apparent consequences.
>prep 704 You begin drawing a faint, twisting symbol while softly intoning the words for Phase... Your spell is ready. >cast dome You gesture at a large crystal dome. Suddenly you notice the crystal dome's form dim slightly as it becomes insubstantial. The interior of the dome begins to flash and spark as whatever was contained inside now has an easier way out. As you begin to pass into the dome, a wave of pure energy gushes forth, burning you with its intense heat! ... 45 points of damage! Left arm incinerated. Unfortunate. You are stunned for 10 rounds! The surface of the dome returns to normal as if nothing happened. >think Hello world You concentrate on projecting your thoughts but something seems to be blocking them. R>esp who local You strain your senses outward, but something seems to be blocking them. >turn ring You turn the ring on your finger, but the pulse you feel is extremely weak...as if the magic is being inhibited by someone or something in the room. >incant 130 (sometimes) *** Nothing happens. *** - This may be erroneous. Spells are not auto-released when casting at the dome, causing Incant to self-cast the wrong spell.
The crystal dome will overheat if it is agitated too much in a given time interval. In the event it is made to absorb more than 2,000 mana without being allowed to cool down, it will backlash in what is essentially a major elemental wave. This has the effect of resetting the dome to its baseline status. The process would have involved more than one character profession, and allegedly the old Sorcerer spell Forget.
>send [#] dome You face the crystal dome, close your eyes and begin chanting. A bolt of hot, pulsing energy arcs between you and the dome! You begin to shudder violently as all your mana rushes into the crystal dome, and soon you collapse on the ground stunned. (after approximately 1,000 mana) The crystal dome shimmers brightly. >cast dome (energy absorption message; after approximately 1,750 mana) The crystal dome flares hotly. >cast dome (energy absorption message; after approximately 2,000 mana) Suddenly a hot wave of pure energy rushes out of the crystal dome, rolling forth like an apocalyptic juggernaut. The heat of the wave burns your flesh! ... 35 points of damage! Flame sets your head alight like a torch. Burned beyond recognition. (The dome cools off at a rate of 100 mana per whole mana pulse.)
The crystal dome will drain a random amount of mana (up to one off-node pulse) every three to ten minutes. The effect was originally strongest at the dome, weakening with distance. Shutting off the mana drain is considered an in-game puzzle. The puzzle itself was broken for many years before a GM realized that a spell update had made it impossible to be solved and brought it back up to date. However, beyond the mechanisms for absorbing spells and mana, all the dome does now is explode when it overheats. Whatever else was originally involved with the puzzle has been removed entirely.
Unfortunately, without the ability to shut down the crystal dome any longer (GMs have looked under the hood and found no mechanisms for it other than those given above), it is not possible to cast Phase (704) at it when it is turned off. It is not clear now what would have happened if a sorcerer walked inside the dome after the dome was shut down. If this was a control room for the dome or had any information at all on the works of Uthex, or even an indication of the location or history of the dome or how it works, that information could have been very important to correctly interpreting the Broken Lands.
The Sheruvian Monastery is a later addition to the Broken Lands and not part of the original story of Uthex Kathiasas. However, it is implied that the Sheruvian cultists are working with the hooded figures, and they possess their own dangerous artifacts. They are using the Broken Lands to form a teleportation network throughout Elanith, which would allow them to move around and execute invasions at will. This was what allowed the greater vruul to leave the monastery, where they used to wander from here into the Dark Shrine. It might explain how the harbingers suddenly appear with nightmare steeds.
The mist-shrouded krodera orb with veil-iron veins on the vaalin stand is the master orb. In the past it allowed teleportation to any number of rooms possessing monoliths with their own access orbs, typically places of power such as Darkstone Castle or Melgorehn's Reach. These monoliths in turn provided one-way transport to other rooms. The tapestries in the Summoning Chamber seem to be an anti-parallel concept to the Voln Monastery tapestry, which itself has a parchment that makes little sense in modern history. The monastery possesses some archaisms such as having a dead Sabrar in the kitchen.
[Kitchen, Cold Storage] The floor, ceiling and walls of this room have all been covered with iron plating to keep this room at a very frigid temperature. Large chunks of ice litter the floor with crates of goods stacked between them. Large flanks of meat hang from heavy iron hooks along the walls of the room. As you look closer at the flanks, you notice that one of them is an ice-covered body. You also see a heavy iron door. Obvious exits: none >glance body You glance at an ice-covered body. >look body The body appears to have once been an elf. From the trappings on his armor and equipment, it would seem he was once a member of the Sabrar. At the moment, however, he is frozen solid. His hands are bound behind his back and his eyes and mouth are wide open, as if he spent his last moments screaming in agony from the very large hook imbedded in his back. (Note: This may have made sense in 1997, but does not make sense with later Vaalor documentation.)
The Sheruvian monastery was opened by Draezir around December 1997. It was involved in the Shar storyline, where they struggled for control. The few accounts that exist of this story involve accessing "the Arkati Workshop", which is everywhere and nowhere, using the Sphere of Midnight which shut off the crystal dome at one point. Shar wanted to control the power draining dome, and Draezir at one point shut off the runes in the Misty Chamber. It is unclear now if the Summoning Chamber orb is the Sphere of Midnight, as well as whether the Arkati Workshop had something to do with the Broken Lands itself.
The master orb is no longer functional. It would give visions of target rooms in the material world, which amounts to both seeing and traveling across worlds, or planes of existence if the Broken Lands is interpreted that way. These krodera and veil-iron orbs are deeply anti-magical artifacts. They will almost always rip off your spells, steal your mana, and inflict severe nerve damages if you test them.
[Monastery, Summoning Chamber] Wisps of smoke waft up from a black vaalin censer mounted on one richly panelled wall, filling the room with a sweet, sulfurous scent. The walls are hung with ancient tapestries depicting the magical arts, and low cabinets along the walls hold a variety of phials, bottles, and leather tomes behind securely latched glaes panels. A single incandescent globe is suspended from the ceiling, illuminating the room with its eerie glow. You also see some carved haon double doors, an ancient hand-woven tapestry and a long vaalin worktable with a mist-shrouded krodera orb on it. Obvious exits: none >look orb Resting atop an intricate vaalin filigree stand is a large, krodera orb covered with veins of pure veil iron. The filigree work on the stand portrays hordes of daemon clutching at the orb. The daemon's hands extend up from the base, their claws digging into the surface of the orb, securing it in place. The orb pulses rhythmically with a dull red glow. The veil iron veins seem to writhe as the opposing magics caress them and tap their power. A swirling mist surrounds the orb as if protecting it. There is a small, gem-shaped, indentation in the stand which is empty. >touch orb You reach up to touch the orb. The smooth cold surface seems solid enough, but when you tentatively move your hand towards it, some force begins to pull you forward! You pull your hand back in alarm, glancing warily at the orb. >rub orb You rub the orb, which gives you a slight shock. You succeed in upsetting the mist, but nothing more. A large brown rat bolts out from under the worktable quickly followed by a hissing black cat, spitting its annoyance at the rat for its intrusion. As they enter the crimson vaalin summoning circle on the floor, pale blue bolts of lightning arc out from the krodera orb, engulfing both of them! When the smoke clears, nothing remains of either of them except for the lingering stench of burnt hair and a small splotch on the floor just inside of the circle. You notice a tiny spider begin to work its way up the intricate vaalin stand. As the spider's legs touch the surface of the orb, it flares with a sickly green light. As your vision clears, you notice that nothing remains of the spider.
The Sheruvian monastery is older than the current materials documentation. The most recent lore at the time it was created was the Shadow World metals information, where the I.C.E. Age analogs of krodera, veil iron, and vaalin were the rarest metals known to exist. Krodera and veil iron were extremely expensive alloys. Vaalin was an extremely rare pure metal used for weapons, unusually lethal to the living, only known to exist on the moon of the Dark Gods. Only cultists should have it. This is probably the context that explains why vaalin became the metal for the most expensive lockpicks.
The monoliths are hidden in the background of rooms scattered throughout the older parts of GemStone, but they cannot be found with the search command. Some can be looked or glanced at regardless. These no longer work. It was possible to charge them up and use them to teleport to another fixed monolith room, sometimes allowing relatively easy access or escape from difficult spots.
[Melgorehn's Reach, Lost in the Fog] You are in a dense fog bank and can see absolutely nothing. You realize that you can probably back out of here easily enough. Possible paths: out XXX glances at an ancient granite monolith. >look monolith Twisting runes and carvings along the face of the monolith dance in your vision causing you to sway uneasily. You can't seem to keep a clear focus on them long enough to decipher what they mean. Imbedded into the monolith is a large, krodera orb covered with veins of pure veil iron. The detailed stonework around the orb portrays hordes of daemon clutching at the orb. The daemon's arms extend toward the orb, their claws digging into the its surface and securing it in place. The orb pulses rhythmically with a dull red glow. The veil iron veins seem to writhe as the opposing magics caress them and tap their power, and a swirling mist surrounds the monolith as if protecting it. There is a small, gem-shaped, indentation just above the orb which is empty.
The following are known rooms that have (or should have) monoliths or possibly some other equivalent mechanism. Darkstone Castle has its own internal monolith network.
|Area||Room||Lich #||Other Information|
|Broken Lands||[Monastery, Summoning Chamber]||6665||The hidden monolith in this room should lead to the Reading Room outside it.|
|Broken Lands||[Monastery, Reading Room]||6663||This is inaccessible or some other object name. It should go to the Dark Shrine.|
|Broken Lands||[Dark Shrine, Secret Room]||19265||Uncertain where this one heads next.|
|Broken Lands||[Sheruvian Monastery, Chapel]||6653||There should be something in this room. It might be the runes on the altar.|
|Melgorehn's Reach||[Melgorehn's Reach, Lost in the Fog]||N/A||This should lead to Lake Eonak at the base of the mountain.|
(*) This list is very incomplete. There would also be something in Darkstone and under Wehnimer's Landing.
The orbs are probably not loosely based on the Ilarsiri, "the eyes of far vision", the Shadow World analog of the Palantiri from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. But it is worth mentioning. Melgorehn's Reach is likely loosely inspired by The Hobbit, and the orb vision of the burning of the tree in Town Square Central could be analogous to the burning of the white tree of Gondor. This is a stretch. The Ilarsiri had capabilities variable "depending on the mental prowess of the wielder." At the least they allowed the user to "see across great distances, and even gulfs of time. There is some evidence that they could be used for darker purposes as well, a capability unintended by their maker." They were set in pedestals of stone or wrought metal formed like a many-branched tree. Ours are in a stone monolith and a vaalin filigree stand.
The orb on the worktable pulses once with a deep crimson light. You feel its power reaching out to you, and you are unable to tear your eyes from it! The power of the orb begins to overwhelm you, and you feel disoriented as your mind fills with the image of another place... [Town Square Central] This is the heart of the main square of Wehnimer's Landing. The impromptu shops of the bazaar are clustered around this central gathering place, where townsfolk, travellers, and adventurers meet to talk, conspire or raise expeditions to the far-flung reaches of Elanith. At the north end, an old well, with moss-covered stones and a craggy roof, is shaded from the moonlight by a strong, robust tree. The oak is tall and straight, and it is apparent that the roots run deep. You also see an herbal remedy donation bin and some stone benches with some stuff on it. Obvious paths: northeast, east, southeast, southwest, west, northwest Flames are rapidly consuming the tree as the clerics and empaths gathered attempt to attend to the wounded and dying. Every person in the square is covered with burns, and you can almost hear the screams of suffering in your mind. The vision fades as quickly as it came, and you collapse to the ground in horror. The faint smell of burning flesh lingers in the air.
This concept of a vision orb in the summoning chamber is consistent with the idea that the crystal dome is partly inspired by the Shining Trapezohedron. When Sheruvian bodies disappear they do so with a crimson aura, which is the same color thrown off by the teleportation orbs. This might be coincidental mood coloring or it might imply a reincarnation method in the same way as the hooded figures. It is also consistent with the Lovecraft subtexts to have a monastery to the dark god of insanity and nightmares, though Sheru was not a god of madness until the "intermediate" period gods documentation. He still had a hyena head when the monastery was built. But it is dubious to try to read such continuity into the Sheruvian Monastery, which is likely supposed to represent Lornon rather than anything more exotic.