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Gaming Groups => A Thousand Shattered Mirrors => Topic started by: Snakes in the Tiki Lounge on 08 September 2011, 03:37:55

Title: City of Secrets - Index and Discussion Thread
Post by: Snakes in the Tiki Lounge on 08 September 2011, 03:37:55
This thread is to be used to link together the relevent threads and posts for the setting. Currently it is all in an early Work-In-Progress state and is entirely subject to change without notice.

City of Secrets - Elements of the Triple City (
This Thread contains the main descriptions of the three cities that make up the so called 'Triple City'
  • Alashera - City of the Illithid (
    • Crime and the Law in Aleshera (;topicseen#msg7890)
  • Gunabara - City of the Yuan-Ti (
    • Crime and the Law in Gunabara (;topicseen#msg7790)
  • Zyn - City of the Drow (
    • Crime and the Law in Zyn (
    • Outside the Midnight City (

    I'm going to leave this open to replies also, so any questions or comments or discussion amongst yourselves should be posted freely below.
    This post will be updated periodically.

Title: Re: City of Secrets - Index and Discussion Thread
Post by: Dat on 08 September 2011, 12:59:17
Illithid: the last sentence was hard to understand, what were the brain things mentioned there?

Yuan-Ti: mega-corporations?

If i remember rightly, this is all on the same world? - Could you have a section for the world itself, it's history and non-colonised parts?

Title: Re: City of Secrets - Index and Discussion Thread
Post by: EvilGinger on 08 September 2011, 14:28:46
Illithids or Mind flayers one of the earliest Psionic monsters for D&D

llithids have a basically humanoid body, but their head is octopus-like. They have four tentacles around a lamprey-like mouth, and require the brains of sentient creatures as part of their diet. An illithid who snares a living creature in all four of its tentacles can extract and devour its living brain. Their eyes are pale white, and they can see perfectly well in both darkness and light. Their sense of hearing is slightly poorer than a human's; they have difficulty distinguishing between several sounds mixed together. Their skin is purplish blue to gray-green and covered in mucus, and is very sensitive to sunlight. Though sunlight does not actually harm them, they loathe it with incredible ferocity.

One of the most feared powers is the dreaded Mind Blast, where the illithid emits a cone-shaped psionic shock wave with its mind in order to incapacitate any creature for a short amount of time. Illithids also have other psionic powers, generally telepathic in nature, although their exact effects have varied over editions. Other powers include a defensive psionic shield and powers of psionic domination for controlling the minds of others.


Title: Re: City of Secrets - Index and Discussion Thread
Post by: Snakes in the Tiki Lounge on 09 September 2011, 02:18:05
Details on the world/worlds involved as well as further detail on what's already posted is to be worked in as I add and re-draft.

If the sentance in question was referring to 'Elder Brains', then that's a fair comment. The passage was originally written with the assumption that the reader would be intimately aware of the subject.

In standard Mindflayer society, the Illithid are ruled by vastly powerful entities made entirely of brain-matter, like psionic versions of 'mother brain' from the Metroid series. These vast, utterly alien intelligences mold Mindflayer society and all within it from the larval phase onwards. The basic inspiration for the Illithid described in the linked thread is the question of what might the Illithid be like without the Elder Brains.
I can, if interested, re-post some of what I talked about in the discussion that sparked the idea.

Title: Re: City of Secrets - Index and Discussion Thread
Post by: Dat on 09 September 2011, 13:39:05
You can post more if you like, i'm also interested in what the yuan-ti mega-corporations sold, - computers? toys? coffee?

Title: Re: City of Secrets - Index and Discussion Thread
Post by: EvilGinger on 09 September 2011, 14:36:30
To be honest I would be very interested on more on all parts of the city. I would also note for DAT's benefit that the mind flayer description I posted is pure 1st Ed AD&D & that the concept of them having that much of a society beyond small possibly family groups in the underdark comes I think from the 2nd Edition Spell Jammer supplement has a lot of useful stuff on this brought up to 3/3.5 which introduced elder brains to as I recall will also help here I think.


Title: Re: City of Secrets - Index and Discussion Thread
Post by: Snakes in the Tiki Lounge on 09 September 2011, 21:27:02
The below quote comes from a huge, huge thread on a D&D related forum discussing Mindflayers in general, with people arguing many ways and from the point of view of many editions and often conflicting supplementary books. I've tidied it up a bit to make it a little more readable, originally it used a series of nestable expandable spoiler-boxes to keep it from being too much of a wall of text, but the spoiler tag here functions differently so I've done what I can to keep it from being too painful.

Quote from: another Board, a long time ago
So, this thread has got me thinking about, well, a lot of unrelated junk mostly But it's also got me considering Mindflayer related Character Ideas and Plot Hooks/Campaigns.
So, here are some things that have struck me throughout this debate.
  • Elder Brains are unquestionably and significantly evil. It's quite possible that they are more significantly evil, even in the opinions of those who have posted condeming the Illithids in general. They are Big Bad Brains.
  • Illithids may not necessarily, depending on interpretations of wording, and which splat-books you consider canon, need to eat sentient brains to live. Depending on what you listen to, they may not even need to eat brains!
  • They are 'wrong' on a cosmic level. Either they originate in the Far Realm, the Far Future, or are in some other way just damn wrong. (In addition, they freak the Aboleth's out on account of being the one creature they don't remember 'starting'. They just appeared, fully formed, as if from no-where.)
  • Illithids reproduce via their (original?) Larval form. The Larvae are left in the Elder Brain's Briny Bath for 10 entire years, and if they are one of the (probably few) who are not eaten by the elder brain then they are implanted in a sentient creature, preferably humanoid. If the 'Far Realm' origin is the true one, likely this form is carried over from their previous, insane-outside-realm origin.  
  • Elder Brains completely and utterly dominate Illithid society. They enforce strict rules of conduct and whatever that create the 'classic' mindflayer society. They also have no compunction about lying to their illithid underlings. (Illithid's are unaware that once 'joined' with the Elder Brain, their personality DOES NOT continue. The Elder Brains jealously guard this secret, for quite obvious reasons).
  • Illithids do not go against the Elder Brain very often, if at all. Alhoon's (Illithid Liches) are about the only case of this. This is possibly due to the Elder Brain's psionic aura/dominance. The Illithid are so used to this ever-present psychic presence, or 'buzz', that when they have to be away from it, there exist items to reproduce the same sensation!
  • Illithids express a very limited range of emotions, but very strongly. However, despite being essentially rage-filled engines of spite and loathing, they have a natural tendancy to work together.
  • Depending on your sources, the Illithids once ruled a Vast multi-planar Empire. They were successful enough as a society to not only conquer a planet, but many planets across the entire multiverse. Though impressively enduring, at some point, something went wrong. Perhaps the Githyanki/Githerazi rebelion? Perhaps something that allowed the rebellion...

And all of this is just getting me thinking, suggesting things and Ideas that aren't even fully formed yet, but here's some;

What are the Elder Brains?

Elder Brains do not feel right. They just don't. They're an Iconic part of Mindflayer society, but they just don't feel like they are entirely playing for the same team.
The illithid tadpoles - Ten years in the Elder Brains tank? That's a long time. Frankly, suspiciously long. I cannot believe that they are left there purely because of how defended the location is. I do not believe that the Brain is looking out for them. It snacks on them at will! So what else could be the reason? The only one that makes sense to me, for a psionic being of 'Godlike' Intelligence, is that it is indoctrinating them, psionically, over a long period of time so that it is both subtle and enduring.
So, why would it do this, if it is merely the collective conciousness of Illithid Ancestors? It just feels wrong.

Speaking of wrong, is it only me that has difficulty with the idea that the Elder Brains are a natural part of the Illithid life-cycle? I'd agree that's a view that the Brains themselves would no doubt hope the illithid held, but i'm not convinced. The Illithid, originally, were some kind of far realm creature that started in something analgous to their larval form. Perhaps they were essentially parasitic, perhaps not. There is still a kind of logic there. They live, quite probably hunt, (which would fit on some level with their essentially predatory mindset, and their tendancy to co-operate). They live, they thrive, and then? Everything dies. But why would a creature that see's brains as a source of Food, create an 'ancestor god' of sorts that is, itself essentially a giant foodstuff? it doesn't fit. I propose that the Elder Brain must have been a later development. A matter for civilised times in their development, not the impossible primal past.

And Furthermore, I propose that they were one of two possible things.

The first option is that;

They are Immortal God-Kings

At the height of their eternal empire of the planes, Illithid society must have gotten pretty damned decadent. I see the idea of Powerful Illithid 'Emperors', having conquered pretty much everything and everyone they could find, as then turning their attention to that last enemy, the one that all things must face. Death. The 'Elder Brain', would at it's core, be an attempt to cheat Death. A way for those few, ancient evils, to exist, and rule on till the end of time. just so long as their subjects can be convinced to continue feeding them with what they require.
To hold on to their position of god-kings of the Illithids, they make themselves part of the  life-cycle of the Illithids, they make themselves ancestor gods, they deify themselves and make life without them unthinkable. Then, just to make sure? They literally crawl inside the brain of every new-spawned Illithid and quite literally worm out any possible hint or desire to even consider that possibility.

They have two or three main problems. Firstly, Illithids are powerful, essentially arrogant creatures. They sound on so many levels like the kind of 'Magnificent Bastard' types that they should be staging coup-de-etat's every couple of years. If the Elder Brain's Subjects ever really found out the unspeakable truth, their situation would become very...very dangerous.

Secondly, they are not Liches. They aren't even Undead. They can, if cared for properly, live forever. But they are bodiless monstrosities, soft, vulnerable. They need constant care and endlessly vigilant protection. A creature, no matter how powerful, that doesn't even have skin, is going to get a bit paranoid, really, don't you think? It would help make sense of the Elder Brain's Aversion to Illithid Liches, perhaps. If something did go wrong with Mindflayer Society, wouldn't it make sense that the emergence of these self-proclaimed 'god kings' could have been the cause? An initial uprising of Illithids, or even just the inevitable lapses of quality of judgement that would arise from a lack of fresh blood, fresh ideas, at the head of their empire. In the instability that followed, it would make any slave-uprising that much more likely both to happen, and to succeed.

The Second Option is that;
The Elder Brains come from an external source.

They are not, perhaps, Illithid in nature at all. Think about it for a moment. They certainly do not act like they are part of Illithid Society. They do not, really, act like they have Illithid wellbeing as their main concern. They act, rather, like they are either the Slave-masters to the Illithid, or the Cookoo children of. They dominate, they stifle and rule absolutely, with a tenuous thread of lies and misdirection as their only protection. What cosmic horror would be capable of infiltrating and subverting Illithid Society at it's height, so completely? So Utterly? it's an intruiging question, you've got to admit. Like the previous possibility, this event would make a perfectly disruptive calamity in the Mindflayer Empire to destablise it enough for the Rebelion to succeed.

Character Concept, and/or Adventure Hook

Imagine the consequences of revealing either of the above possibilities, (or even those few facts as we know are definate already) to Mindflayer Society. I do not see the 'masters of the universe' reacting very well to the idea that, far from joining an ancestral hive-mind with their memory and personality in tact, they essentially merely become food, with any kind of decorum or philosophical moderation.

Imagine, perhaps, that the revelation is given to a mindflayer (Or, for instant mindflayer adventuring party, a mindflayer inquisition...) whilst on an errand for their elder-brain outside of it's influence.  Just imagine, for a moment.

I cannot see them reaching any decision other than for the pressing and complete need to return to their lair, set the Elder Brain's plans to the torch and feast on it's treacherous (Yet delicious!) brainy mass. Cue a campaign of mindflayer-on-mindflayer guerrilla terrorism, sedition and outright assault, culminating in them storming their own lair, kicking their own doors down and eating their own hideous god.

Food for thought.

As for the Yuan-Ti mega corps, I have yet to develop them in any detail. However, as I understand and intend the concept, think multi-national super-corporation style, owning dozens of independantly large businesses.
Or just watch this (
They would basically between however many mega-corps I settle on, run 95% or above of everything other than the Central Government/Administration. Including computers, toys, coffee and much, much more.

Title: Re: City of Secrets - Index and Discussion Thread
Post by: EvilGinger on 10 September 2011, 18:51:48
Interesting very definite food for thought if a bit difficult to read even when cleaned up.


Title: Re: City of Secrets - Index and Discussion Thread
Post by: Snakes in the Tiki Lounge on 14 September 2011, 17:41:52
First draft of the Drow City is now up. It doesn't cover half of it, but it's a start.

Title: Re: City of Secrets - Index and Discussion Thread
Post by: Snakes in the Tiki Lounge on 22 December 2011, 16:07:07
Crime in the Drow City of Zyn and Gunabara are now in place, at least to the standard of the rest of it. So any and all of it could change at short notice, but it will do for now.

Title: Re: City of Secrets - Index and Discussion Thread
Post by: EvilGinger on 26 December 2011, 21:28:22
Very interesting will have to finish off the article I am writing


Title: Re: City of Secrets - Index and Discussion Thread
Post by: Snakes in the Tiki Lounge on 13 January 2012, 03:02:03
And that completes the set, Aleshera is up.

Title: Re: City of Secrets - Index and Discussion Thread
Post by: EvilGinger on 13 January 2012, 23:40:51
Good this is getting rather interesting


Title: Re: City of Secrets - Index and Discussion Thread
Post by: Snakes in the Tiki Lounge on 19 January 2012, 04:34:40
Next Up I'm probably going to put together some stuff regarding the general region that the Drow City is located in, and the various locations, geography and the various other factions resident in or native to the setting that complicate life in the midnight city.

As soon as I have the mental energy, anyway.

Title: Re: City of Secrets - Index and Discussion Thread
Post by: EvilGinger on 25 January 2012, 20:57:01
As soon as I have the mental energy, anyway.

I know what you mean there I need mine recharging quite urgently.


Title: Re: City of Secrets - Index and Discussion Thread
Post by: Snakes in the Tiki Lounge on 26 January 2012, 21:10:15
I got there. A breif rundown of the Drow's local neighborhood and a few of their remaining neighbors.