Annwn (Otherworld)

To Geography
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Arnold Boecklin: Island of the Dead, Third Version (1883) Arnold Boecklin: Island of the Dead, Third Version (1883)

In the Otherworld, geography mirrors the coexistent mundane world. To many mortals, Near Faerie is a strange, magical, and exaggerated reflection of Terra—to many fey, on the other hand, the Fleeting Realms are benighted, desolate, and muted aspects of Annwn. A portal from Terra to Annwn generally goes to the same place, and distance is more or less constant between the two layers. However, certain sites shift into Ladinion, and some paths are quite variable in distance much like that deeper layer; travelers can use a series of such backroads to make a trek in Annwn seem much shorter than a parallel trip in Terra.

The Badlands: Expanses of empty space in the Fleeting Realms are regions called the Badlands in Annwn. Instead of true vacuum, the Badlands are extreme environments of a more worldly sort. Some parts are tundras of unearthly cold; some are deserts of impossible heat; still others are unbelievably stormy oceans (often also lethally cold or hot) concealing depths of destroying pressure. One can reach the Badlands from the planetary regions of Annwn by choosing a random direction and walking that way for a time—in a short while, one is at the edge of the Badlands and can possibly traverse them to regions of the Otherworld coexistent with different worlds.

Avalon

The Court of the Undying Season

 

The Harbingers of the Undying Season have their stronghold in a freezing tundra region of the Badlands. Here, secret redoubts hold chilling gardens of exquisite and lifeless beauty. Alluring fey vampires rest here between trips to tempt or devour hapless mortals or foolish fey. This is the only part of Faerie which contains a significant population of undead.

Chicomoztoc

Peristan

Although not well-connected, a few hot regions of the Badlands are known collectively as Peristan because they are inhabited by a surprising number of peris, fey of scent who are born from extraplanar spirits that became permanently integrated into the Mortal Coil. The regions of Peristan are centered around three cities: Amberabad, Gauherabad, and Shadukam. These are trade cities which succeed largely because their portals are unusually stable and produce little distortion in time when used—visitors usually lose no more than twice the time they experience passing.

Like all fey cities, those of Peristan are built as outgrowths of the natural beauty surrounding them. Living stone is carved, as if by wind, into countless unique alcoves perfect for habitation or shopkeeping with a few light touches. Paths meander but are broad enough to rarely be packed. Rainbows and auroras provide soft light like twilight to gently illuminate the night. Steam vents provide heat in the desert night and profusely overgrown springs provide water and shade in the searing day. The buildings and markets are verdant and impossible to distinguish from the oases at the heart of each city. Some are even built on living or mobile materials (including large, sleep-prone creatures) and may move around in unexpected ways. Although these are trade cities, most fey see little worth in coins except as worked metal, and so rarely wish to trade for large quantities of it. Barter for valuable items or services are the more common modes of trade in these places. Adventurers are advised to bring interesting magic items, unique art objects, or the willingness to spend time on potentially dangerous missions to pay for their purchases here. These places all sell exotic, magical flora and fauna, but amused mortals should be cafeful they do not purchase something beyond their skill to handle.

Amberabad: Amberabad has perhaps the highest concentration of peris in existence, though the majority of its population are other races of fey (primarily fey related to animals and plants). It is likely the most cosmopolitan city in Faerie and is the most common route for the fey of Ladinion to take time to become familiar with the outside Cosmos. Its population is fairly transient; few residents live in the city for extended periods of time. Visitors include notable numbers of humanoids, giants, and dragons. Amberabad is built around natural portals to the Land of Dreams and Sea of Thought and also has portals to several mortal worlds, other planes, and a few fey realms including Shadukam. Buyers come through for a wide assortment of things. Its reputation as the biggest exporter of perfume on the planes has earned it the nickname “City of Ambergris”. The exquisite work of fey craftsmen often sell here for vast sums. Services are also sold here; musicians and courtesans do well, sages offer valuable information, and even Seelie healers and Unseelie assassins work for the highest bidders in the Old City. The Old City, said to have been built by fallen angels called the Voyeurs, has an infrastructure composed mostly of creeping trees and mangroves clinging to massive skeletons. The titanic plants draw minerals from the bone to produce tubes large enough to serve as aquaducts and support balcony-like, rock-hard leaves. The bones are said to be the remnants of a pod of astral whales that fell into the Badlands through the rift from the Sea of Thought.

At the opposite end of Amberabad is the Dream Ward, built around the rift to the Land of Dreams. Its walls and spires hang with countless dreamcatchers kept by dream brokers, who trade in harvested sensations. Between the Old City and the Dream Ward is the central oasis, which blooms with exotic and aromatic plants used for making perfumes. Among them are chronolilies, Dreamnative plants used for scrying across time which attract soothsayers and mystics from far and wide. Some fey, especially agents for smaller faerie courts, work here as recruiters for mortal adventurers, whom they send on quests the court needs fulfilled outside Faerie. However, Amberabad is cautious about whom it admits; only traders who are not considered dangerous after close scrutiny may do business here. It has had problems in the past with githyanki raids, which have been at least reduced thanks to the influence of a powerful red dragon who has recently taken up residence and threatens peri dominance of the incense trade.

Gauherabad: Known as the City of Jewels, Gauherabad stands on a huge volcanic mountain rising from a boiling sea. Inhabitants soar under their own power, using mounts, or on skin kites from cliff-face districts to palaces that float on rising volcanic smoke. Visitors enter from several stable vortexes to the Elemental Realities and other portals. These vortexes pour out such intense energy that it is difficult for much to live here outside the shelter of the fey oasis. In fact, Gauherabad is said to be built on a world born dead, whose raw elements refused to be tamed enough for life to take root. The land seethed and roiled, burned and drowned, and was blown away as dust before the sun quickly burned itself out. After the world fell lifeless—not even a planet is left in Terra near its darkened star—a Seelie Knight who witnessed the tragedy founded Gauherabad in Annwn amid elemental extremes little better than that which killed the world. She hoped encouraging communication between fey and elementals would prevent something similar from happening again, and at least the fey trade and dialogue with elemental beings here. Consequently, the city serves as an unofficial meeting-place for the Gatekeepers of Essence. It is now ruled by a peri pasha hailing from the Reality of Mineral. Gauherabad’s population includes large numbers of magical beasts and jann as well as terrain and weather fey. Many fey courts use Gauherabad to find and hire elementals or others to do jobs for them in Terra and the Elemental Realities. Others trade fey craftwork and elemental raw materials. In addition to the vortexes, Gauherabad has notable portals to cities in three of the four major Elemental Realities: the City of Brass in Fire, the Citadel of Ice and Steel in Air, and the Great Dismal Delve in Earth. There was once a portal to the Citadel of Ten Thousand Pearls in Water, but it was destroyed.

Shadukam: Shadukam, called the City of Desire, holds several gates to the Realms Beyond and is a neutral ground for the Princes of Passion. The population, aside from peris and emotion fey, include many magical beasts and an infestation of pseudodragons and faerie dragons, all of whom are ruled by a peri pasha who was born of an azata. This is a site of commerce between quite a few fey groups and their spiritual allies, including night hags, titans, azatas, agathions, and occasionally formians, rakshasas, or demons. There are also gates to Amberabad and a few other Faerie sites. The gates bring in many allies and servants who protect fey interests (usually where fey are weak, especially in the Realms Beyond) as well as allowing some spirits to hire fey aid. There are surprising numbers of outsider sages here, where the fey can take advantage of their differing perspectives for the right price.

Most of the trade in Shadukam is of services, but magic items are also important to its economy; many fey adore magic items in general, undead slayers like to trade for holy and disruption weapons from the celestial gates, and vile weapons from the Hag’s Gate are popular amongst certain Unseelie factions. The Hag’s Gate, main thoroughfare to the Realms Below, unfortunately opens to a place much disputed in Hades and is assaulted by divs with some regularity. At such times, the peri defenders are forced to fight and often call on powerful Faerie Knights or mortal adventurers to help, especially on the Hades side of the portal.

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