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A dozen skies, each a different colour and weeping a different fluid blossom below the melting mountains. Tentacled birds pluck out suns and worry them into burning shreds that fall down and sear the undulating lands. Stones crack like eggshells and things made of briar, wire and wine and slime ooze out, stumbling with an eerie grace across the hairy marble pathway that sprouts just before each footstep. Screams become serpents, the rippling sound waves slowing in the treacle-thick air before dropping to the ground and crawling away.
All this is happening in your mind. Your eyes cannot truly perceive Tarassein. The reality would be far worse, only reality is a tattered and frail thing here, in the Chaos.
|Gravity||0 Normal (Subjective)|
|Time||0 Normal, but Erratic|
|Morphic||17 Highly Morphic|
|Life||+8 Universal Life|
|Weather||+10 Atmospheric Chaos|
|Law/Chaos||+8 Strongly Chaotic|
|Accessibility||15 Magically accessible|
|…to Astral||7 Coterminous|
|…to Questing Grounds||7 Coterminous|
|…to Mal||7 Coterminous|
|…to Vault of Stars||7 Coterminous|
Getting there… and Back
The fluid nature of Tarassein makes it an easy target for portals. Natural portals yawn open at the slightest provocation, while minglings are also alarmingly common. Artificial portals are also popular – chaos mages and madmen have been known to forge gates to the realm of chaos. There are also natural portals to the Astral Plane and the Vault of Stars.
Portals also lead to the Questing Ground and Mal. The Malite portals are surrounded by zones of decay, where chaos acts to spawn new plagues and illnesses. The portals to the Questing Ground, on the other hand, lie near the Soulspring.
Survival in Tarassein
Any living creature exposed to the environment of Tarassein takes 1d12 points of damage per round from constantly changing sources. Natives are usually immune to some forms of damage, and know how to evade the rest. A protection from chaos spell will guard against this damage.
The terrain of Tarassein is constantly changing and mutating. Characters can attempt to seize control of its morphing (see page 4, Planar Traits, for rules on controlling morphic zones). The random vicissitudes of the plane may produce other environmental hazards such as rivers of fire, oceans manifesting above the traveller’s head, poisonous rocks or vacuum storms which each require spells or survival techniques, but such hazards cannot be predicted.
Tarassein Damage Sources
|1||Force (invisible buffets of energy)|
|2||Fire (gouts of flame, hot spots)|
|3||Cold (freezing winds, erupting ice crystals)|
|4||Acid (rain of acid or blood, fog clouds)|
|5||Sonic (unearthly screams or thunders)|
|6||Electrical (bolts of lightning, crawling energy serpents)|
|7||Bludgeoning (falling rocks, collapsing cliffs)|
|8||Slashing (passing birds with razor feathers, rain of swords)|
|9||Piercing (thorns, darts, rain of knives)|
|10||Pure chaos (internal pain, cancers)|
The major feature of the chaos pools of Tarassein is unbridled formlessness. Things bubble out of the raw chaos, taking on rough shape and form for brief moments before lapsing back into the primordial madness. The whole plane quivers like a heat haze; nothing is certain, all is transitory. The shapes thrown up might echo existing shapes in the rest of the multiverse (cliffs that appear as castles or clouds that appear as a whale) because any shape in the shapeless lands is a thin patina of Order over elemental Chaos.
A shaped zone is an area of relative stability, formed by a traveller or native with sufficient willpower to tame the surrounding chaos and force it into some recognisable form. A shaped zone can have any appearance, but most are free of the vicious weather that is endemic to the rest of the plane. Most shaped zones are only a few feet across (a radius equal to the shaper’s Charisma score), but others are magically enhanced and enlarged, and can be the size of an island or even a small country.
Shaped zones are almost always inhabited (the rare exceptions occur when a shaped zone has permanency or a similar spell cast on it).
Decaying zones occur when a shaped zone is abandoned by its creator. Usually, the shaped area dissolves almost instantly back into formless chaos when a sentient mind ceases concentrating on it, but sometimes these regions are slower to subside. A decaying zone looks much as it did when it was being shaped, but all the lines and edges are running and smearing. Think of a limestone statue left out in acid rain for a century, or carved ice allowed to melt and refreeze over and over. Decayed zones rarely have sentient inhabitants (unless the person who originally shaped the zone is within, but is unconscious or injured), but tend to attract scuttling chaotic parasites who swallow stray bits of rotting debris.
The highly morphic nature of Tarassein makes it a prime target for ambitious planewrights seeking to carve out a demiplane or pocket plane for themselves. This is by no means an easy task – the plane can easily be crafted, but bringing the Law trait up and the Morphic trait down infuriates the creatures of chaos, so the planewright must expend a great deal of energy keeping his nascent plane clear of trespassers.
Numerous pocket planes are known to float within the pools of chaos, notably the domains of the Orodro and the Daughters of Bedlam (see below).
Scarab Cascades (CR6)
Chaos scarabs are the simplest possible creature that can endure in the Tarassein. They are little knots of chitin and muscle, studded with rudimentary eyes and clenching mandibles. A swarm of scarabs has the same stats as a locust swarm (see SRD), with one important difference – the swarms instinctively shape chaos into more of themselves. Every 1d4 rounds, the number of scarab swarms doubles. The scarabs have a +10 racial bonus to Wisdom checks for warping chaos; a character who can warp chaos may make an opposed check to prevent any swarms within range from reproducing themselves.
The whole of Tarassein would dissolve into scarabs if it were not for eruptions and especially violent weather patterns, which punch through the scarabs’ weak control over the stuff of chaos and sweep the insect hordes away.
An eruption is the generic term given to the phenomenon of chaos vomiting up something unusually dangerous – the surrounding terrain turns into boiling acid, a giant mouth, full of teeth, a zone of negative energy or something even less pleasant. If the travellers are moving through unformed chaos, they may make a Reflex save (DC 18) to dodge out of the way and avoid being caught in the eruption. The eruption deals 3d6 + 8 points of damage per round, and continues to grow. A character can scramble out of the way and stay ahead of the expanding eruption by making a run or double move action, but characters trying to fight or do anything else other than escape must keep making Reflex saves to avoid the damage. Most eruptions last for 2d6 rounds.
It is said that souls are born in the heart of chaos. This is, of course, untrue – how can a plane as mercurial as Tarassein have a heart? Still, there is truth here, and all the souls of mortal beings come from chaos.
The Soulspring is a region where a tendril of Positive Energy has been caught in Tarassein, so creativity merges with the life force to produce new souls. It is a dangerous region – until the souls slip away through gates or are collected by the Tenders of Souls, any traveller in the Soulspring not protected by a mind blank or protection from chaos must make a Will save each round (DC equal to the number of rounds since the character entered the Soulspring) or be possessed. As the new souls are without reason or memory, the character acts as if confused for 1d10 rounds.
The Tenders of Souls are imposing outsiders; each one stands as tall as a storm giant, but has a pair of feathery wings and the head of a sea-bird. They gather souls into their white bundles before travelling to other planes to disperse them. Occasionally, a Tender will be called upon to find an especially potent soul when it is time for a hero to be born.
The Asylum is a pocket plane controlled by the insane Daughters of Bedlam. It is a nightmarish madhouse, a hospice for those whose minds were broken by the Daughters. They have no intention of curing their victims – instead, the Daughters divine the future by listening to the screaming and gibbering of the insane.
Asylum is a labyrinth of grey prison cells, stained cloth and iron bars. Thrice in the last millennium, the forces of the Firmament have descended into Asylum to rescue the souls held in bondage there. Twice, they were successful – they healed wounded minds and brought the essences of the dead to the Afterworld.
On the last occasion, the Captain of the Host was driven mad by a trio of elder Daughters, and his foolish commands led the angels to disaster. Thirty-seven angels and celestials of varying standing and potency are now denizens of the Asylum.
Variant forms of almost any creature can be encountered in Tarassein; the chaos throws up creatures that echo existing shapes in order. These malformed echoes rarely survive for long before being subsumed back into the wrack of chaos. Chaos beasts swim through Tarassein like sharks, as do phasms and gibbering mouthers.
Large Outsider (Chaotic)
Hit Dice: 4d8+12 (30 hp)
Initiative: +5 (Dex)
Armour Class: 25 (+5 Dex, -1 Size, +12 natural),touch 14, flat-footed 21
Base Attack Bonus/Grapple: +3/+11
Attack: Two slaws +1 melee (1d6+4) or bite +6 melee (1d4+6 plus engulf) or by weapon
Full Attack: Two claws +1 melee (1d6+4) and bite +2 melee (1d4+4 plus engulf) or by weapon
Space/Reach: 10-ft. /10-ft.
Special Attacks: Clutch, Engulf
Special Qualities: Immune to Critical Hits and Flanking, Adaptable, Weapon Use
Saves: Fort +7, Ref +9, Will +6
Abilities: Str 18, Dex 20, Con 16, Int 14, Wis 14, Cha 14
Skills: Balance +20*, Bluff +10, Climb +10, Disguise +15*, Hide +6, Intimidate +7, Knowledge (the planes) +7, Listen +9, Move Silently +12, Sense Motive +7, Spot +10, Tumble +12
Feats: Combat Expertise, Improved Disarm
Organisation: Solitary or Shower (9-12)
Challenge Rating: 4
Alignment: Always any chaotic
Advancement: 5-10 HD (Large), 11-15 HD (Huge)
This entity is a geyser of black slime that spouts constantly from the ground. Shapes – limbs, faces, body parts and stranger, less discernible objects – form and dissolve as the slime rushes up and flows down the slick flanks of this pillar of ooze. The only constant feature is the cluster of eyes near the top of the pillar, although the faces, organs, hands and other housings that contain these eyes change constantly.
Orodro are sentient geysers of chaos. They are referred to as ‘Limbfountains’ in some texts, as most of the matter they throw up from inside themselves is organic, and looks like dismembered chunks of a humanoid body. Despite their off-putting – even vile – appearance, Orodro can be quite pleasant, although some have no compunctions about chopping humans up for aesthetic reasons.
The realm of the Orodro is a very alarming plane indeed; their magics have merely slowed the endless churn of Tarassein, not stopped it. Walls shift and twist, buildings coil and writhe; the very laws are mutable. The Orodro consider Allmother Chaos to be a goddess eternally in the process of birthing itself, and have ties to various chaos or apocalypse cults. The race as a whole is not hostile, but some seek to drag everything back into primal formlessness. Orodro rarely leave their home plane, except when hired as assassins or aiding a chaos cult.
The Orodro can consciously slow their own changes, selecting the right random body parts that swell up from within them to build a surprisingly good patchwork humanoid body. They use this ability to infiltrate other planes in disguise.
Orodro are frightening foes; they are extremely agile and fluid combatants, slipping through the defences of enemies and rapidly adapting to their enemy’s actions.
Clutch (Ex): If a Orodro hits with both claw attacks, it may make a free bite attack at its full attack bonus.
Engulf (Ex): An Orodro who hits with its bite attack may attempt to flow over a Medium-size or smaller opponent. This requires a Grapple check; if the Orodro wins, it envelops the foe. The foe begins to drown, and any attacks that strike the Orodro must also be applied against the enveloped foe (for example, if a character makes an attack on the Orodro that hits Armour Class 20 and deals 10 points of damage, an enveloped enemy would also take 10 damage if his Armour Class was 20 or less). A character can escape from being engulfed by making a successful Grapple check against the Orodro.
Adaptability (Su): Whenever an orodro is struck by a weapon or energy type, it gains Damage Reduction 2 against that attack form for the next six rounds, to a maximum of DR10.
Weapon Use (Su): An Orodro is instinctively proficient in any melee weapons it holds. They delight in disarming their opponents and using their weapons against them.
Skills: Orodro have a +8 racial bonus to Balance and Disguise checks. They may disguise themselves as Medium creatures.
Daughters of Bedlam
Medium Outsider (Chaotic, Extraplanar, Evil)
Hit Dice: 7d8 (31 hp)
Initiative: +2 (Dex)
Armour Class: 15 (+2 Dex, +3 natural), touch 12, flat-footed 13
Base Attack Bonus/Grapple: +4/+6
Attack: Fingernails +6 melee (1d4+3 plus poison)
Full Attack: Fingernails +6 melee (1d4+3 plus poison)
Space/Reach: 5-ft. /5-ft.
Special Attacks: Poison, Gaze of Madness, Spells
Special Qualities: Intuition, Aura of Madness, Insanity Plunge
Saves: Fort +5, Ref +7, Will +2
Abilities: Str 14, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 12, Wis 5, Cha 20
Skills: Bluff +15, Concentration +10, Diplomacy +15, Disguise +15, Gather Information +15, Knowledge (the planes) +11, Listen +7, Move Silently +12, Sense Motive +7
Feats: Negotiator, Dodge, Mobility
Organisation: Solitary or trio
Challenge Rating: 6
Treasure: Double standard
Alignment: Always chaotic evil
Advancement: By class, only as sorcerers
The creature is a humanoid female, with long flowing multicoloured hair. You would assume she was a rather odd human, if it were not for her unnaturally long fingernails, which have been used to tear at the flesh of her bare arms and neck. Alarmingly, she seems to have also used them to claw out her own eyes.
The Daughters of Bedlam are either elemental spirits of chaos who are dedicated to spreading madness across the planes, or else are the souls of those who died in insanity and have learned to draw new power from chaos. All of the Daughters are physically similar; rake-thin human females with flowing hair that shimmers in multiple colours. They dress in shapeless shifts or rags.
The Daughters desire only to drive other creatures insane. They can be bound and compacted for projects that will cause madness. Their pocket plane in Tarassein is known as the Asylum, and is exactly what it sounds like – if anyone claimed by the Daughters dies while insane, their soul is trapped in the Asylum forever.
The Daughters prefer to avoid physical combat, although they can be surprisingly agile foes. They are often accompanied by succubi or axiomatic harpies, both of whom are often of like minds to the Daughters.
Poison (Ex): The Daughters dip their fingernails in a brew made from ergot and certain other fungi. This has the same properties as striped toadstool poison (see Core Rulebook II), save that it works by injury. Anyone scratched by this attack must make a Fortitude save (DC 11) or suffer one point of temporary Wisdom damage. The secondary damage from the attack is 2d6 Wisdom and 1d4 Intelligence.
Gaze of Madness (Su): The Daughter has a constantly active Gaze attack with a range of 30 feet. Anyone caught in the gaze must make a Will save (DC 19) or be confused (as the spell) for one round. The save DC is Charisma-based.
Intuition (Su): The Daughters have an instinctive intuition of the flows of chaos, which gives them an edge in combat. In any round, as a free action, a Daughter may gain a +4 insight bonus to any one attack roll or skill check, or may increase her Armour Class by +4.
Aura of Madness (Su): The Daughter’s mere presence is unsettling. Anyone within 30 feet of her suffers a -2 penalty to all rolls. Also, they have a +20 insight bonus to Wisdom checks for warping chaos, but only when using the chaotic landscape to create mocking or false constructs to drive others insane.
Insanity Plunge (Su): Anyone who fails a Will save within range of the Daughter’s Aura of Madness suffers a further -1 cumulative penalty to all Will saves until they move out of range of the Aura. Anyone reduced to a Will save of -5 or more is driven insane and falls into a catatonic coma and can only be cured with remove curse, break enchantment or heal.
Spells: All Daughters have the spellcasting abilities of a 5th level sorcerer. The usual spells used are as follows: (6/8/5, Save DC 15 + spell level): 0th – daze, ghost sound, message, open/close, detect magic, ray of frost; 1st – mage armour, charm person, hypnotism, burning hands; 2nd – mirror image, hideous laughter.
Tarassein is a rather unfriendly plane, but its chaos does offer some opportunities for adventure. Any scenarios about planecrafting will usually include a trip to gather a chaos infusion or two, as the flexibility of the chaotic medium is very useful to planewrights. The endless wastes of chaos are also an excellent place for a troubled party to establish a refuge.
† A trio of Daughters of Bedlam are summoned by an ambitious courtier to drive the king insane. The characters must uncover the plot and stop all three. If they fail, they must travel to the Asylum to rescue the king’s soul so he can be raised.
† An artist discovers that creativity can be distilled from raw chaos. Together with a mage friend of hers, she discovers where this fount of inspiration lies. However, it inspires the mage to create thousands of new spells. Unless the mage is stopped, he will soon create a spell that will spill chaos across all the worlds. The characters must help the artist reach her friend before unbridled creativity spells disaster.