Uthex Kathiasas

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Uthex Kathiasas (? - 6521 Second Era) was a highly regarded Loremaster during the Wars of Dominion in the ICE Age history. As a Loremaster of Karilon, he was most likely High Elven. Uthex was one of the greatest researchers of his time, focused on finding ways of fighting the Dark Gods and the most powerful forces of Unlife. Seduced by The Dark Path, Uthex fell to ever darker magics, eventually working with forging extra-planar entities. These were all named in Iruaric, but were also known by other names, implying their origin in Lord of Essaence experiments. While this concept is esoteric, it still exists in modern demonology, as verlok demons are speculated to have begun the same way. There have been modern storylines with humanoids being transformed into extra-planar entities.

Uthex was killed by his fellows in 6521 Second Era, the same year the kingdom immediately to the south was crushed by the Ordainer Kharuugh, serving the dark conqueror Lorgalis who was a former servant of Kadaena. While these events never happened in modern Elanthian history, much of The Broken Lands would be considered non-canonical in Shadow World. A monastery of Cay (Kai) was founded to guard the portal, so servants of the Unlife would not be able to return. Eventually, these monks were corrupted by the evil texts, transforming themselves into liches. The hooded figures regained control of the gateway, and a Sheruvian Monastery was constructed a few years later. The Sheruvians are exploiting the transplanar nature of the Broken Lands with a hidden teleportation network of monoliths.

Research

His work was focused on giving "physical form" to a "new source of power", which amounts to making conscious entities out of pure energy. These were implicitly extra-planar beings who he apparently morphed into unnatural hybrids with each other. They were all trans-planar in some sense in their origins, coexisting or traveling between multiple realities, which is one of several hints that "the broken land" itself is a convergence of worlds. He had acquired access to a power draining dome in The Broken Lands that was left over from the rule of the Empress Kadaena, with ruins implying her role in the origins of the Dark Gods. This was presumably discovered by Bandur Etrevion as a result of his nightmare visions, or possibly from studying the journals of Selias Jodame when he lived at Nomikos.

His surviving works were variants of "other standard" extra-planar entities from Rolemaster, which were not demonic or necessarily malevolent but typically violent from being so alien. These were given Iruaric names based on their characteristics, with Uthex making copies or perhaps modifying existing templates. However, the implication is that these beings had their origins in Lord of Essaence experiments, providing an easy path for perverting his work toward the demonic. The vruul were awakened by the dark priests using necromancy, and the confiscated texts must have included the Ritual of Black Eternity.

Crystal Dome

The mechanism for the fashioning and telepathic control of synthetic life is the crystal dome on the jagged plain. It is implicitly a Lord of Essaence artifact left over from the First Era of the Shadow World history. In the Lovecraftian subtext it is likely based on two "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. It is reflecting the fact that Kadaena was the mother of many dark races as a consequence of her many tortured experiments, including the miscegnation of otherworldly beings, as well as the artificial manipulation of life-forms by her brethren. This was the ultimate origin of most of the races on Kulthea.

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. Similarly, the Dark Gods were speculated by some Loremasters of having originated in "failed" Lord of Essaence experiments with fashioning non-corporeal life-forms, where such an artifact could potentially form avatars of godlike power. In the most extreme case this could mean divine ascension for a "spirit born of death."

(1) Mechanism

The crystyl forest surrounding the crystal dome is 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 is a vast colony of the hoard, which are mutually self-aware across all realities. The master orb in the Sheruvian monastery happens to force 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 perhaps other more horrific temporal continuities.

[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 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 polyhedron that was artificial, and covered with strange hieroglyphs which for us correspond to the ancient form of Iruaric.

(2) Releasing Power

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 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.

(3) Shutting Off

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.

Fell Beasts

Uthex Kathiasas was concerned with giving "physical form" to a "new source of power." In effect this means using the ancient Lord of Essaence artifact to summon extra-planar entities, and apparently making unnatural hybrids of them seeking exotic properties and immunities. This work was twisted toward more dangerous forms by his associates, the hooded figures who are implicitly cultists of The Dark Path. Ultimately, Uthex himself was corrupted by the dark power of the Unlife, and his creations were unable to be destroyed. The important idea is that everything in the Broken Lands is artificial.

These might all be replenished directly by the power draining dome itself, considering the story held that his creatures could not all be destroyed. With the hooded figures this is implied by the spawn messaging. It might similarly be true for the fog beetles, but they might be laying eggs. However, the magru might be replicating in the manner of the Absorbers, dividing when eating sufficient flesh. The dark voreteces may be subject to a death and rebirth cycle involving the hazy tenebrous orbs, considering they dissipate in the huge cavern and the orbs collect in a nest in the magru tunnels.

(1) Known Works

Creature Iruaric Rolemaster Other Information
Hooded figures None None Surviving members of The Dark Path. "Spirits born of death" may imply the creatures were all sacrificed souls. The entities would all be a form of high necromancy. These seem reincarnated from pure spirit in more or less their original human form by the crystal dome which is ordinarily only possible through Lorminstra.
Giant fog beetles None Dictics Variants on Teras Isle, Foggy Valley, Shadow Valley. Dust beetles. Spirit or mind transference theme. Too unintelligent for communication. Only summoned accidentally with something else. Wander through open portals wherever they find them. Subtextually these are probably cultists transferred into alien bodies.
Magru Lug'shuk traglaakh Absorbers Other forms in multiple colors sleeping as ponds, streams, puddles in Shadow Valley. Cannot be summoned or controlled. Too alien for communication. Given the Shadow Valley form there might be a cross with the Hoard which also feed on flesh. Natural Absorbers are bluish-purple not black.
Myklian Kiskaa raax None Anagram of "many ilk". Spectrum ordered power with purple color greatest. No apparent Rolemaster entity basis. May be the only unique creation. These are presumably "abominations" made from changing the properties of lizards and bred naturally. Subtext suggests the magru may mind control them.
Dark vortece Dyar rakul Nycorac, Blacar Hazy tenebrous orbs probably a "spirit born of death" situation. Probably a hybrid of Nycorac and Blacar. Cannot be summoned or controlled. Too alien for communication. Mentalist in nature. These are presumably a result of merging two templates, though apocryphally voidlings have identical properties.
None None Crystyl Crystal forest on the Jagged Plain. Possibly part of the crystal dome scrying mechanism across worlds. Cannot be summoned or controlled. Mentalist in nature. Trans-planar in presence. Vast repositories of knowledge. Should stab with crystal shards when feeling threatened. Natural Crystyls can teleport away.
None None Hoard Boiling sea of mud on the Jagged Plain. Possibly a shoggoth-like hybrid with Absorbers to form magru. Cannot be summoned or controlled. Trans-planar awareness. Possess the ability to "phase" hundreds of feet. Manifests in the form of suddenly rains of boiling mud. Natural Hoard are not boiling.

The precise way his work was conducted requires some speculation. It might be that the crystal dome summons things from other realities and transmogrifies them, but more likely it is that the crystyls possess vast information of otherworldly beings for templates and the entities are fabricated from absorbed power. In the elaborated form of the Rolemaster Construct Companion source book, this would reflect spells such as "simulacrum matrix" or "study original", which is a mental attack on a target combined with a "spell store" kind of effect. This is similar in principle to the old Spell Store spell.

It would be possible to manipulate this pattern with "warp matrix" spells or "change" the inherent properties of the abominations undergoing unnatural breeding. In this sense the creatures in the Broken Lands might represent several different methodologies. While the vruul may have been found from ancient times, it is possible they were grown as simulacra in the urns using store life essence jars. The ritual is depicted in the Dark Shrine. The tapestry, gong, hooded figures, and store room are anti-parallel to the deed ceremony, where the same blasphemous symbolism is in the throne room of The Graveyard.

(2) Possible Works

Creature Iruaric Rolemaster Other Information
None Trag Traag Huge thigh bones in the bone pit of the Dark Grotto, essentially huge black panthers. Summoned demons. Eaten by the magru. Cannot be summoned or controlled. Venomous. Their existence is implied by the Iruaric name for the magru while being part of the same Rolemaster category.
None None Blacar Hazy tenebrous orbs, sphere piles in the Dark Grotto. Possibly hybridized with Nycorac to form Dark Vorteces. Cannot be summoned or controlled. Mentalist in nature. It is possible Uthex was working with these and Nycorac separately. The shadows and cold damage would come from the Blacar.
None None Xaastyl The Xaastyl may be the mortal race Kesh'ta'kai (Fash'lo'nae) ascended from using the magical methods of the dome, though this is probably unintentional and there is little to suggest their relevance to the Broken Lands. They are world wanderers with the greatest knowledge of the arcane in existence.
Vruul Gogor, Vruul Gogor The "fell beasts" from the story, if following the Tolkien convention. Ordinarily these are found in ancient crypts. It is possible that Uthex helped construct these ones using methods left in references originating in Kadaena herself. The ritual depictions seem less ancient than the Dark Shrine itself.

In terms of the Rolemaster Alchemy Companion, which is old enough to be immediately relevant to the Broken Lands, this kind of work belongs to the Evil Alchemist or Adept professions. These involve spell lists that suppress magical items, effects, or absorb them in a given radius. They are concerned with making artificial constructs, various forms of the unliving, and imbedding the demonic or other properties into things. The vruul are constructs in a sense more like dybbuks than golems. In this case they are unliving things of tremendous evil, but seemingly animated with the souls of unholy priests.

The Dark Gods

The Loremasters had conflicting theories on the origins of the Dark Gods, who were not known to exist until early in the Second Era as a result of the comet Sa'kain disrupting portals on Charon (Lornon). Some believed they had a similar origin as the Lords of Orhan (Liabo) or had somehow escaped from some interdimensional prison. There was no clear documentation of the role the gods may have had in the First Era cataclysm, and some believed the moon deities may actually be Lords of Essaence portraying themselves as gods. However, others believed the Dark Lords were the result of "failed" Lord of Essaence experiments with creating non-corporeal life, fashioned of more chaotic essence associated with the corruptive power of The Unlife. Similarly, the surviving former followers of the Empress Kadaena (specifically Lorgalis and the Master of Malice) were wielding demonic armies with Ordainers, which were essentially fallen demi-gods with some thought to have been fashioned artificially.

In the Wars of Dominion it was impossible to directly fight beings of such innate might, forming the need for countervailing powers of similar scale and inexhaustibility. In this context Uthex Kathiasas was attempting to provide the means for forming armies of beings with various immunities out of thin air, possibly up to the scale of godlike power while nevertheless being controlled by an artifact. However, the fundamentally alien nature of dark essence from ordinary magic would have misled Uthex into corrupting himself, and his hosts were able to seduce him into pursuing more malevolent and ultimately demonic manifestations of his work. His fellows realized something was horribly wrong when the region was under siege by Lorgalis and they discovered his secret work was too dangerous to exist.

The inscription on the Dark Shrine would have implied to Uthex that Morgu (Marlu) was made by the Empress Kadaena, and that by extension of the wording and nature of the Dark Spirits she must be Orgiana (Eorgina). In other words, the Dark Gods were the ascended immortalized forms of the high servants of the Unlife, and that this dome was the means of ascending to godhood. It would involve transferring mind into a non-corporeal avatar of pure energy. This is consistent with The Dark Path theology where Bandur Etrevion represented himself symbolically in death as an Ordainer. It is even possible that the plane of existence and "the broken land" itself was artificial, having been formed by the Empress Kadaena as a parallel reality of the dark side of the moon to conduct secret experiments.

It is important to keep in mind that the Dark God presence does not at all imply that this place exists on the moon. The story itself called it another plane of existence, and the surface contradicts the known properties of Charon. The Temple of Darkness Poem which is necessary for solving the Dark Shrine puzzle actually implies things about the Dark Gods that was not consistent with their standard theology, and even alludes to conditions that did not exist until longer after the death of Uthex Kathiasas. There are subtle temporal paradoxes involved which only make sense if there is an ability to see across time, or still more specifically, if the Empress Kadaena had profound powers of prophecy or trans-temporal telepathy. The confusion is invited by Charon being on the bas-relief puzzle leading out to the Jagged Plain.

The Sheruvian Monastery

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 exploiting the trans-planar nature of the Broken Lands to form a teleportation network throughout Elanith, which would allow them to move around and execute invasions at will. This would have allowed the greater vruul to migrate, where they used to appear in the Dark Shrine. It explains 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.

Master Orb

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 planes of existence (hence "summoning chamber".) 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 the historicity that probably explains why vaalin became the metal for the most expensive lockpicks.

Monoliths

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.

Visions

It is possible the orbs were loosely based on the Ilarsiri, "the eyes of far vision", which were the Shadow World analog of the Palantiri from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Melgorehn's Reach contains a number of allusions to The Hobbit, and the orb vision of the burning of the tree in Town Square Central would by analogy refer to the burning of the white tree of Gondor. 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, where one is in a stone monolith and the other 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.

Behind the Scenes

There is a subtle trans-temporal theme to The Broken Lands that does not translate outside of its I.C.E. Age background. The inscription on the Dark Shrine is an anomaly in that it refers to a multiplicity of times in an impossible combination. It was implicitly written at a time when Iruaric should have been hieroglyphic, speaking of an ancient relationship in a modern phonetic form of the language, which unbeknownst to Uthex was a couplet from a poem addressing conditions that would not exist until centuries after his death. This "hieroglyphic" nature of ancient Iruaric was invented for this story.

The Shadow Valley story is most likely a spin-off of the Broken Lands story, involving some of the same themes and underlying subtexts, and to some extent using the same entities at a different time in history while set in very nearly the same location. The Broken Lands story is unambiguously a spin-off of the Graveyard story, with its various Nyarlathotep allusions corresponding to Bandur Etrevion. The Hoard and Crystyl forest are omniscient and omnipresent respectively, which combined with the implicit coexistences of the plane, symbolize Yog-Sothoth who corresponds to Kadaena "Throk Farok."

(A) Lornon

Sage Uthex was retconned to be a member of the Order of Lorekeepers for the release of Miracle (Spell 350) in 5107 Modern Era. The Broken Lands was treated as the surface of Lornon for the story, but it was originally written to be another plane of existence, possibly one of the parallel material planes which were almost impossible to access. These are not necessarily self-contradictory possibilities, as there was a source book (though published in 1995) that said the Lord of Essaence war began when Kadaena was performing extreme planar and transmogrification experiments on Charon (Lornon), forming a coexistent dual of it on an artificial prison plane of existence that was much more habitable than the actual moon. It was infested with various extra-planar entities over the millennia, which is consistent with The Broken Lands. There was supposed to only be one surviving portal to that forgotten place, though on the moon of Charon itself, which was sealed by the Lords of Orhan (Liabo).

This interpretation of the Broken Lands originates in the non-canonical "Curse of Kabis" source book of Shadow World. Kabis was an immensely powerful Void demon of shadows, who the light and dark gods imprisoned inside this artificial demi-plane at the end of the Wars of Dominion. While this thread would be a convenient basis for modernizing the story, possibly replacing Kabis with Althedeus, the Broken Lands is much more likely based on the Loremaster theory that the Dark Gods escaped from some unknown inter-dimensional prison upon arriving in our world. The portal to the Broken Lands was a Lord of Essaence style gate, like those on Charon (Lornon), which were "naturally" unsealed by the comet releasing the Dark Lords. This would explain why the story refers to the portal as a "natural" gateway in spite of clearly being Lord of Essaence in origin. This portal is set in a round stone of "strange dark rock that you have not seen before", engraved with "odd runes", which is a typical Lovecraft motif where something falsely seems natural but was made by great ancients. It is unclear if Morgu (Marlu) used his Dark Shrine in the Second Era, but The Dark Path may have served Orgiana.

The surrounding hills were intended by GM Kygar as an idyllic contrast to the dark struggle being waged in the mountain, which was due to the impossibility of destroying his foul experiments. The monks would have been fighting the hooded figures for centuries, who implicitly were probably being reincarnated by the crystal dome. Incarnating spirit to corporeal being is the distinguishing power of Eissa (Lorminstra), which is the most immediate meaning of "spirit born of death." That Uthex was incarnating extra-planar beings from pure energy implies his work could have been twisted toward fashioning demons and dark gods. The Shar story line would later refer to the Broken Lands as "The Arkati Workshop", part of her quest to ascend herself to godhood. (Shar herself was a dark goddess of the underworld in Dungeons & Dragons.) The Monastery makes only very opaque allusions if any at all, but the ki-lin of eastern mythology appeared with the birth and death of immortal sages.

(B) Lovecraft

There are numerous allusions to "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath" in The Broken Lands. This novella was also alluded to below The Graveyard and Purgatory, which is based on the prose poem "Ex Oblivione" as well, with Uthex Kathiasas likely being a portmanteau of "Utha Kadaena" with "Ex" and "Kadath." The end of the novella might also be referenced by the exit of Shadow Valley. The plateau of Leng was similarly a place whose location could not be identified from the convergence of realities, and was next to the monastery of the wicked pharaoh demon Nyarlathotep. The globe lamps, Dark Shrine windows, telepathy suppression, and temporal anomalies come instead from "The Shadow out of Time", which explains Empress Kadaena being served now long after her death. The implication is that the Lords of Essaence were fashioning the Dark Gods or Ordainers as avatars to continue their own ascended existence following their deaths for which they had foresight.

The crystal dome is partially a reference to the Shining Trapezohedron with its evil cult and hooded figures from "The Haunter of the Dark", which ends with possession by Nyarlathotep and refers to the Poe character Roderick Usher. When using the artifact Nyarlathotep would be felt as a conscious "formless alien presence", which is reflected by room messaging of feeling watched by something. It may also refer to the "hemispherical buildings" on the plateau of Leng that even the night-gaunts fear for their association with Nyarlathotep, who the night-gaunts nominally opposed and were dreaded by the shantaks and old gods of earth. The Dark Grotto with its narrow cracks is "At the Mountains of Madness", which refers to Kadath and the destroyers from "Shadow", with the magru as shoggoths and the bone pit as the excavation. In the context of the Dream-Quest the Dark Grotto refers to the dreamlands manifestation of the Vaults of Zin and the Enchanted Wood, with the bone pit as the Vale of Pnoth and the pond as the shoggoth lake below the peaks of Throk. It might also refer to the Great Abyss of Nodens along with Ngranek, the Tower of Koth, and the Gate of Deeper Slumber.

Kadath was a cold waste of mountains with a desolate castle at its peak where the "Great Ones" lived, who were the ancient gods of earth, where climbing the mountains would lead to madness and none knew what lay beyond. These gods would correspond to the Lords of Essaence in the Shadow World history. However, the "feeble" gods of earth were actually guarded by the hidden Other Ones, who resided beyond this world in incomprehensible horror. The mountains that are seen from the windows of the Dark Shrine correspond to the "jagged peaks" of the fungous "blasphemous plateau" of the almost humans and toad-things of the dark side of the moon, and possibly the mountain of Hatheg-Kla where reality warps at night under the unnatural eclipse, which would be impossible to exist on Charon in the Shadow World source material. This is keeping with the numerous allusions to Lovecraft stories in The Graveyard. The emphasis is the great demonic "gods of the outer hells."

The Dark Shrine's eye shaped windows refer to the "dread seer" quality of the vruul, along with the mountain sized heads in the night-gaunt flight to unknown Kadath. Of special interest is that when the quest seeker reaches unknown Kadath, the gods are replaced with a malevolent presence, having gone to the physical world as the Dark Gods did in the Wars of Dominion. In particular the material world of Charon was only the size of an asteroid, whereas the Dark Lords were extra-planar entities, and so The Broken Lands may reflect the moon of the dreamlands. In this way it is possible for the cold wasteland to be both the moon of the dark gods as well as another plane of existence, which justifies through subtext the presence of the Sheruvian monastery that was built later by GM Sayzor. The dreamlands are a parallel universe to our own. There were also trans-temporal extensions of our world in higher dimensions that were reached by physically vanishing into a kind of astral projection resembling Oblivion.

Lastly, the crystal dome is most directly an allusion to the "almost sphere" of "Through the Gates of the Silver Key", where the Dream-Quest protagonist transfers his mind into a future and utterly foreign body in much the same way as the Yithians from the "Shadow out of Time". His forbidden key was derived from the secrets of Hyperborea with its Tsathoggua worship, which helps motivate the toad idols in the Dark Shrine, but his method is useless for transforming back out of the other corporeal form without a parchment of R'lyeh. This form is a Yaddithian from before the roa'ter-like bholes destroyed their world, whose dreamworld ancestors reside in the Vale of Pnoth corresponding to the bone pit in the Dark Grotto. This sphere is spoken of amidst reference to the city of Yian-Ho on the plateau of Leng, which refers to Yian from "The Maker of Moons", where an oriental sorcerer warps the bodies of a submerged race who control dragon-like lizards as appendages. This would explain why the magru have left only the lizards and devoured everything else. As a masked Yaddithian on earth he pretends to be a Hindu swami, possibly linking the Vedic myth behind Shadow Valley.

(C) Coexistences

While the Shadow Valley story was more explicit about the land shifting in space and time, probably rooted in the isles of transfer phenomenon, The Broken Lands symbolizes various Lovecraft mythos locations which coexisted in more than one plane of existence simultaneously. The myklian as moon-beast analogs relate to the Sarnath allusions below The Graveyard and the Coastal Cliffs. The title "the broken land" may refer to being a pastiche of convergent realities rather than the meteors, whether or not the Kabis premise of a hollow sphere made out of the inner-rock of Charon is relevant.

There are only a few locations being referenced that happen to exist in both the material world and the dreamlands: the Plateau of Leng, Vaults of Zin, Vale of Pnath (Pnoth), Throk (Thok), and Kadath. In spite of the name it is possible to enter the Dreamlands physically in some places, where time runs at a different rate and dreamers may become permanent residents after their physical deaths.

The Broken Lands Lovecraft Mythos Analog Coexistences Other Information (*)
Uthex' Abode The Nameless Monastery Adjacent to Plateau of Leng, Vaults of Zin Northern Dreamlands. Nyarlathotep residence. The Vaults of Zin are in the underworld beneath it.
Jagged Plain Plateau of Leng Dreamlands earth; Central Asia; Antarctica near material world Kadath Adjacent to Nameless Monastery, connected to dreamlands Vaults of Zin. Ominous hemispheres. Shantaks. Yian-Ho. Crystal dome as Ultimate Gateway to Yog-Sothoth, in parallel with Kadaena as Guardian of the Forbidden. Silver Key / Key to the Void.
Dark Grotto Material world Throk (Yuggoth) Dreamlands Throk; (Other: Antarctica near material world Kadath) Shoggoths of the Elder Things; Shoggoths below dreamland Peaks of Throk. Night-gaunts.
Bone Pit Vale of Pnoth Yaddith; (Other: Fossil quarry in Antarctica near material world Kadath) Dreamlands underworld, Adjacent to dreamland Peaks of Throk. Night-gaunts. Bholes/dholes would have been roa'ter-like creatures, or possibly the Clostoph of Rolemaster, a transplanar worm-like entity thought to be a plane unto itself which punches holes like rift crawlers.
Huge Cavern Vaults of Zin Dreamland/material Vaults of Zin; (Other: dreamland Enchanted Wood; Dreamland Dark Abyss) Enchanted Wood on wrong end of stairwell (you descend a big stairway to the fungi woods when entering the dreamlands); Forest outside The Graveyard; Material vaults tied to Tsathoggua shoggoths / Shadow Valley. Night-gaunts. Connect to Leng, Nameless Monastery.
Massive Stairs Stairs of Kadath Dreamland Kadath; Dreamland Tower of Koth; Dreamland Seven Hundred Steps of Deeper Slumber; Dreamland spiral stairs to Ngranek Nyarlathotep residence. Night-gaunts. These "coexistences" refer only to the Broken Lands version of the stairs being cross-references. These stairs are not coexistent in the Lovecraft dream-cycle, but they are all in the dreamlands.
Dark Shrine Dreamland Kadath Material world Kadath; (Other: Material Vaults of Zin, Ngranek) Eye-shaped windows, brass gong from House of Usher; Tsathoggua / Hyperborea. Nyarlathotep residence. Night-gaunts. Former residence of the gods of earth. Ngranek related to Black Sands of Coastal Cliffs. The huge eye windows correspond to the huge heads with mountain sized bodies witnessed in the night-gaunt and ghoul army flight toward unknown Kadath (whose independence is simply vanished by Nyarlathotep.) Far northern Dreamland. The material Kadath is by the South Pole, as was Kadaena's headless body.

(* - It is not as messy as it seems on the surface. The bottom line is that Uthex's abode, the crystal dome, and the Dark Shrine correspond to the places Nyarlathotep physically appeared.)

While this is complicated on the surface from multi-referencing, the landscape itself is actually a simple one-to-one correspondence to the Underworld of the Dreamlands, which is signified by the Charon (Lornon) puzzle to make it onto the jagged plain. Shadow Valley and Castle Anwyn are also subtextually underworld themed and associated with the Lysierian Hills. Anwyn is the Welsh word for the Celtic Otherworld, which is related to fairy mythology. Lovecraft's Dreamlands was based on the same folklore. The night-gaunts were said to serve the god Nodens, who was the father of the King of Anwyn.

See Also