Slaan: Part 1 - Introduction to Slaan

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Slaan - City of Paraelemental Smoke


There are many ways to describe a city, glowing poetry, epic histories, great paintings, and many more, but to describe the lizard-man city in the Paraelemental Plane of Smoke a single word generally suffices, “Slaan.” At least, the lizard-men and their relatives seldom get anymore descriptive than that highly non-descriptive word. I mean really, Slaan doesn’t even mean anything, either in Planespeak or Draconic, the prevailing languages in the city. Apparently the Lizard men like it that way. Thankfully, outsiders have aspired to do the city a bit more justice. Not in poetry or such very often, here on the Inner Planes art really isn’t popular; it has a lot of trouble competing with reality see? But there are descriptive guides and such, and more fact loaded reports, such as the seminal “State of Imports and Exports in the variable markets of the City of Slaan” published by a former Mathematician. This sort of thing helps travelers to get a better idea of what the city is like. Course then they actually get there, and they always say, “This can’t be! It wasn’t described like this!” See, it’s hard to make up a description that actually fits the reality of Slaan. The place ain’t nearly as impossible as Sigil, but it comes pretty close sometimes.

Slaan is a teeming place, possibly the busiest place in all of the Inner Planes short of the City of Glass, and that’s saying a lot. It’s certainly the busiest place on the Paraelemental or Quasielemental planes, and only the city of Hoard on Mineral even comes close to matching it in mortal population and trade output. The place is busy, twenty-four hours a day, every day of the year (not that those terms really mean anything on the Inner Planes berk) kind of busy. There are things traded or made here that don’t pass through any other market in the multiverse, and all the big names in the Inner Planes, or at least their proxies, pass through here eventually.

So why Slaan? A person might ask, and unlike Sigil, where they’ll just look at you and call you a berk, the question has a decent chance of getting answered here. After all, why should a city filled with bitter Lizardmen and such be the second biggest hub of trade in a whole elemental cosmos. It does seem kind of funny at first. Well, there’s a bunch of reasons.

First, Slaan’s habitable. That’s kind of a rarity on the Inner Planes. I mean, sure on the Outer Planes you can probably put a city just about anywhere and expect the populace to still be able to breathe. Doesn’t work that way in this part of the multiverse, and there’s all sorts of other factors to consider as well. Slaan takes care of those nice and easy. The city is stable in one location (if such a thing means anything in a giant mass of smoke) with pure air and a stable water and food supply. If you can get to Slaan, you probably won’t die there, at least not from the environment anyways. The city is rather hot, and parts of it burn like the desert or are fetid as the worst swamp you’ve ever visited, but a body can deal with those problems. A body can’t always deal with the scorching heat of the City of Brass.

That leads nicely into the second point about Slaan: The Genieban. Genies, whether Djinn, Efreet, Dao, or Marid, or even Jann, aren’t allowed into the city’s confines, on pain of immediate expulsion and possibly death. They say the ban was originally formed to assert the city’s independence over battling armies of Efreet and Djinn, but got extended to all the Genie races later. No one knows quite how the residents manage to keep the ban active, since the genies have got numbers and strength on their side, and Slaan sure don’t have a Lady of Pain, but the city must have some protector, or the city would have been conquered long ago. Anyways, the ban makes it possible for other people to visit a city not blatantly dominated by the Genies, who can still send proxies and stooges in (and boy do they ever). Couple this fact with the general ambivalence of the Smoke paraelementals and you actually get a city in the Inner Planes not run by the bigshot elemental types. It makes a big difference, believe me. If you don’t, try visiting the Citadel of Ice and Steel one day.

Three: location and portals. Okay, so the Paraelemental Plane of Smoke isn’t on everyone’s top ten list of “places I need to visit,” but it is a pretty good location to have a city. Smoke’s not all that hard to move around in, and with just a little protection from toxic vapors, a traveler will be okay, so it’s really quite survivable as the Inner Planes go. The constant warring between the Djinn and Efreet makes for a good destination as well, since that conflict always brings in business, even if the genies can’t enter the city directly. Furthermore, Smoke is relatively distant from Elemental Earth and the Dao slavers. Finally, within the plane itself, Slaan has to be one of the only pieces of solid ground there is. Smoke has a serious shortage of Elemental Earth, Mineral, or Ash pockets, so there’s nothing to build upon. So if you want to stop falling forever here, Slaan makes good sense. The portals help too. There’s not that many of them, but Slaan has portals to a lot of the biggest and oldest places in the Multiverse. Some of them include, The City of Glass, Hoard, Yuhnmoag the Illithid city of Ooze, Adrift city of Steam, even the Great Dismal Delve. These portals are all old and stable, they haven’t changed or stopped functioning in eons. There’s some newer portals as well, since Slaan isn’t cut off from planar travel mechanisms, top shelf bloods have established a portal to Farer’s Freehold, and Taifun among others. So from Slaan, you can get just about anywhere, even the prime, if you want to find out where all the lizards come from.

Finally, there’s the primary inhabitants. Okay, okay, not everybody likes lizard men, and lots of people like Khaasta, troglodytes, and kobolds even less, to say nothing of the strange other races that reside here. Thing is though, they don’t seem to have a problem with all the visitors that come through, and they even take steps to enforce a set of laws and to keep commerce in some semblance of order. Sure they keep some of the levels of the city to themselves, but they provide employment for outsiders doing things like patrolling the water supply, or investigating the runes on the outer walls. They also run basic crafts and are willing to export food they grow, something almost nobody else does. All in all, the lizard man population, relatively uninterested in outsiders as it is, exerts a stabilizing influence much like the Dabus in Sigil, they keep the city from falling apart, even if people are leery of them.

Describing Slaan

This gets pretty tricky. See, Slaan’s not nearly as impossible as some cities out there in the Multiverse, like Sigil, Malsheem, or Regulus, but it might be more complicated in structure than just about anywhere else. The chant goes something like this, Slaan’s a shell, made of Mineral, with most of the outer walls sliced off and replaced with glass. Sound complicated? It is. Most people looking at the city for the first time can’t quite figure it out.

Recent studies have worked to quantify exactly how Slaan’s built, and they actually managed to shed some light on it. Slaan is shaped precisely like a spiraling shell, specifically a cerith shell, some Anatomists even went so far as to say the city is in the exact shell shape of a White Cerith, Rhinoclavis something or other, whatever that means, by the powers. Anyway, the city is shaped like this animal, except the Mineral part of the shell is only on the inside. On the outside edge everything’s been replaced by glass. Of course, the glass has long since been stained black by soot and smoke, but it’s still glass. Albeit extremely hard and thick glass that is almost impossible to break through. The city is organized into six levels, ones that do not necessarily correspond with the swirls of the spiral. Their inhabitants and their climate characterize these levels. Generally the climate becomes more temperate as you move up from the endless portal to the Elemental Plane of Water at the bottom, though there are exceptions.

Within the levels Slaan is organized in a helter-skelter fashion, with buildings arranged every which way. There is some system to it all, at least in the lower levels, but the dynamics of the city’s nature and the lizard man mindset create a chaos that makes little sense even to permanent residents. Buildings pile up on each other everywhere, as the city’s highly vertical nature causes multiple levels of construction and catwalks everywhere. The water content of a number of levels is quite high, and soil packed onto the mineral base creates literal bogs, especially as no water can drain downward (indeed is channeled upward through capillary pipes in the spiral structure).

The easiest way to conceptualize Slaan is to try and unwrap it, so that the city generally lines up around a single central thoroughfare, called Spiral Road. While this tends to break down in the bottom levels, especially the Warrens, the rest of the city lines up reasonably. Of course the top section, the “Mouth” is organized in a mad fashion due to its extremely odd structure, complete with airship ports and floating factories.

Outside of Slaan’s sootbaked glass walls lies a veritable maze of cables, lines, and wires, all festooned with unusual creatures. This is the aerial farm of Slaan, where reacting with the smoke, which will be discussed in more detail later, its food source is produced.

The layers of Slaan will be discussed in more detail later, but the quick rundown looks like this. The first layer’s called the Depths, and it’s completely flooded by an upwelling from an ever-open portal to the Elemental Plane of Water. Nothing lives here and the place is kept clean as its the city’s water supply. Level two is the Warrens, a maze of piled earth and tunnels filled with troglodytes and kobolds, which occupy the lowest rungs on the city’s hierarchy. The third and fourth levels, the Marsh and the Bogs respectively, are the home of the lizard men and Khaasta. The Marsh is mostly residence, while the Bogs is the industrial and administrative center of the city. Level five is a strange, super hot realm called the Desert, and serves as a home for Firenewts and the Burning Desert lizard races, in all their variation. The final level is not really a level exactly, but the Mouth of the great shell shape, and is called the Mouth, appropriately. This is Slaan’s center of commerce and the realm where outsiders hold sway.

The Nature of Slaan

Now, Slaan is a weird place in a weird plane, and this results in all sorts of strange situations cropping up. For those who find themselves in the city these things tend to be discovered pretty readily, but here’s the setup anyway.

Up and Down
Well, most of the Inner Planes has no gravity, and this can make building and moving about in cities something of a problem for those who can’t fly. Slaan, however, does have established gravity. No one quite knows how it’s accomplished, but gravity always pulls down along the axis of the shell, towards the waterspout at the very bottom tip. This means that everything generally works out as it would on a “normal” world.

Course, there’s no gravity outside of Slaan, and it has gates in many places. Cutters passing through those gates should be very careful to approach one with ground or structure beneath it, or be prepared to fall under gravity’s cold influence.

Outside in the mass of floating feeders, there’s no gravity, but the concentration of mass is thick enough that it’s like moving about in water, always pushing off and through some medium. That’s if a cutter’s not squeamish about having the stuff touch ‘em. The lizard men herders haven’t got any problems with it at all.

Day and Night
Now here’s a funny thing. On a plane that’s dark all of the time except when a body creates a light, Slaan’s never truly dark. Coming from the Mineral itself there’s always at least a dim red light. This dimness persists for about fourteen hours, and then grows brighter for ten, gradually peaking at the middle of Slaan’s “day.” It never gets really bright though, and the city has no other major light source. The lizard men and others, used to dank bogs or underground, have no problems with it, but primes and many planars don’t like it, since the light never gets above about a third of a sunny day on the prime. As a result of this short “day” Slaan operates late into the “night” and many residents don’t bother to care about the light level. It’s standard practice to supply other light sources to work by whenever needed.

This is an artificial environment; see, in an infinite expanse of Smoke. It doesn’t have anything that could be considered weather. That being said, the Lizard Men tend to make it a practice to flood certain areas of the third and fourth layers, and the desert like fifth layer occasionally swarms with violent swirls of sand because of the air currents there.

The city is always hot, everywhere, and generally moreso towards the top. The Mouth’s temperature is somewhat moderated by the baking heat of the fifth level, thankfully, or the place would be entirely unsuited for humans and many other races.

Building Materials
Slaan has nothing to build internal structures with. It may have had such things at one time, made of the mineral the place was carved from, but it doesn’t anymore. So everything has to be imported. The generally philosophy along these lines is why pay too much. So the city is actually made heavily of mud. Not ordinary mud, admittedly, mostly transplanted portions of the Paraelemental Plane of Ooze baked hard by exposure to the smoke to form a sort of black brick or adobe. The buildings are built according to lizard man style, which generally means small round structures as personal homes, or according to the taste of the builders for large objects. Many of the architectural styles draw heavily from the efreet or djinn in this aspect, though others are modeled after the cinders of the Belkers or other strange beings.

The Warrens layer, just above the water, is organized quite differently. Aside from Spiral Road, the whole level is filled in with Earth, which the troglodytes and kobolds tunnel into, creating a vibrant cavern system, parts of which occasionally collapse and have to be replaced by new diggings. The desert level also lacks many large buildings, with the many stacked dwellings of the desert lizard races packed against the glass walls tightly. Building there is almost exclusively of baked ooze, though that whole level is lined with cinder to increase the temperature and create black sand to cover everything.

The Races of Slaan, and Their Roles

Slaan has many races in residence, but its reptilian inhabitants dominate the city. They are the ones who truly run the city, and accepting special cases, the only ones properly welcome beyond the Mouth. Each race can be considered to have its own role within the city, though the lizard men fill many responsibilities, as they are the largest demographic present in the city, and may be equal to almost half the city’s total population. None of the races really trust the others fully, though most acknowledge the dominance of the lizard men, and that there’s no malice from the leaders. While all races can be found in the Mouth, most otherwise stick to specific levels of the city.

Lizard Races
The reptilian peoples are the most at home in Slaan, and the only ones welcomed without question beyond the Mouth. The city, despite its openness and trade purposes, is their home, and they consider it accordingly.

Lizard Men
The most common and prevalent race in the city, it is the Lizard Men who truly run Slaan. The citizens of Slaan might be the most intelligent lizard men in the multiverse, or at least that’s how they think. No less wise than any other sentient race, these lizard men have curbed many of the impulses found elsewhere among their people. Lizard Men hold positions as herders, crafters, businessmen, traders, and essentially all positions of civic authority within Slaan. They run the city, though they leave drudgework to others. Their great strength and stamina, and tolerance for the hot and wet environment present throughout the city make them ideal here. It was the Lizard Men that settled Slaan before any other race, though many credit the Desert Lizard races for helping them achieve their current intelligence. Despite their relative civility, Lizard men are still a violent people, and Slaan reflects this in its laws and disputes. The city is rough and tumble, and often crude, but that fits the free-trading image and is considered by many travelers to be a benefit. Golden Lord types are neither needed nor wanted on the Inner Planes.

Found in the Warren primarily, the Troglodyte population of Slaan is far from insignificant. In the city they abide by the rules, at least as set down by the Lizard Men, but they are more than likely to simply attack and eat anyone who wanders into their territory. Though troglodytes live in Slaan they do not necessarily live well. As mostly crude laborers and holders of low skill jobs they make little money and form a great portion of the city’s poor. In Slaan’s environment this means that they will often target other members of the poor, and humans without a home in Slaan must be wary of Troglodytes that try to eat them in the night. Still, many are productive, if lower class members of the city and the Lizard Men are certainly not quick to forget it. Troglodytes are equal under the law here with any other race.

These tiny creatures are hardly reptilian at all, by some perceptions. And they get jobs accordingly. The only reason Kobolds are allowed in Slaan at all is their usefulness as vermin catchers and crawlers about in cramped quarters. The best position for a kobold in the city is as a pipe runner, one of the critical contingent that keeps the city’s in-place water system running. For the great majority not members of this lucky few there is only a torrid existence in the Warren and the back alleys, struggling for wasted food, garbage, and anything small and squirmy they can catch. The kobolds are always hungry though, and Slaan stays reasonably clean as a result. They will sometimes group together and try and strike at something vulnerable, or serve as messengers for troglodytes and lizard men in highly vertical areas, where they can crawl quickly over the scaffolding and catwalks.

Brutish, cruel, and followers of a strange code of honor amongst themselves, Khaasta, strangely enough, serve as the police in Slaan. They work to keep the peace and insure the streets are safe, mostly by their hulking presence and their long sharp halberds. They also pay out bounties for finding criminals, and keep trophies amongst themselves, which makes them awfully eager to catch people. Khaasta also serve as mercenaries, private guards, and even heavy laborers in Slaan. They are much feared, often hated, and rarely given respect, but they do the job. Though corruptible, it’s in a soldiery way, and a person trying to bribe the Khaasta to look the other way had better be prepared to bribe the whole contingent. Otherwise they’ll just take your money and drag you in. They live mainly in the third and fourth layers, but most work in the Mouth and many have semi-permanent residences there as well. Khaasta officers form the heart of Slaan’s militia when it must be called together.

Even more hateful and biting than the Khaasta, there are few Firenewts in Slaan. The desert lizards with which they share the fifth layer don’t like them very much, and let them have little land. Firenewts serve best for their immunity to vapors and fire, and they city employs most of them to clear cinders away from the city when it threatens the “crop.” The work does not pay well, and the Firenewts hate kowtowing to others, but most of their members in Slaan are outcastes or refugees, with nowhere else to go. They take out their anger on the Belkers that try to make it near the city hidden among the cinders.

The Burning Desert Lizards
This is a cadre of strange lizard races, found primarily in the fifth level of Slaan, though sometimes coming up to the Mouth that all collectively originated in the same prime world. That world, an arid, desert place, never evolved mammalian life. As such these lizard peoples have rather a different view than most. Still, the people in Slaan are mostly native to the city or migrants from colonies in the Quasielemental plane of Dust or Ethereal Demiplanes. These races apparently arrived in Slaan closely on the heels of the lizard men. Though each race forms only a small quotient of the city’s population, they control the Desert, and therefore passage from the Mouth to all other layers, so they have great influence. These races are surprisingly “civilized” from a human point of view, and many have their activities in the Mouth and throughout the Inner Planes that makes them important contacts for planewalkers.

The Dact resemble humanoid desert geckoes, stony and pebbly, with great big eyes. Able to climb walls with ease, and move about in all sorts of places unseen, the inquisitive Dact have a tendency for thievery. In Slaan they serve as couriers, spies, artists, surveyors, and many more positions. They are courteous but distant towards non-reptilians, always observing before taking action.

Fierce creatures that appear as tall, upright alligator lizards, the Elgar consider themselves glorious fighters. Many of them serve in Slaan’s small standing army. Others work alongside the Khaasta, with whom they share a mindset. Elgar also form a great portion of the mechanism for gladiatorial combats and duels within Slaan, participating, managing, and more. Elgar craftsmen are excellent makers of large, two-handed blades. Elgar and Mon’Varan do not get along, and the two races duel in the gladiatorial arenas quite often.

The poisonous gila people, the Helod are as spiteful as their coloration. Great arguers and intimidators, Helod hold many of the discussions with Efreet and Djinn representatives, as nothing intimidates them. Helod do not seem like good merchants or negotiators, but actually display some talent for both, especially with smoke mephitis and belkers, who are often present in Slaan. The Helod are also exquisite makers of poisons, antidotes, and herbal remedies. Helod medicine, while generally painful, is renowned in much of the Inner Panes. Helod also enjoy shocking and testing the mettle of mammalian visitors to their city, and like to have a good laugh at the expense of primes who can’t make head or tail of Slaan.

Wandering iguana-like people the Ipsosaur are a relatively pleasant folk that enjoy watching the interactions of others, though they are high minded and try to prevent violence, sometimes by using force of their own. Ipsosaurs commonly scout out the environs about Slaan, or guide others into smoke or through the lower regions of the city. Most other reptilian races are fairly tolerant of the Ipsosaurs, who stand up for themselves even if they are considered too generous, which makes them excellent mediators, translators, and guides.

These beings have the unfortunate trait of appearing as thorny devil lizards, which makes many confuse them for the Baatezu. The Moloch’Phryn are touchy about this, but otherwise quiet and contemplative, possessed of a sage wisdom. No other race knows the currents of wind, water and smoke in Slaan so well as they. Despite a lack of interest in making things or building, Moloch’Phryn are often called upon to consult on projects or initiatives. Many Moloch’Phryn have a taste for sculpture, and though they create strange abstract creations, their art is most sought after by some. Among these, unfortunately, are the Baatezu, though the Moloch’Phryn have been known to refuse sales to such beings.

Monitor derived, the Mon’Varan are warriors true, runners of long distances, they call themselves the burning wind, and shout the battle cry of “Varan!” supposedly a great hero of their people who chased a thousand Elgar a thousand leagues and slew them all in the race. For all their violence, however, the Mon’Varan are not cruel or malevolent, they simply enjoy the rush of combat and honor the blasting power of the desert wind. The crafters among their people manufacture incredible traveling equipment, resistant to sun, sand, water, and wear. It is known that many Abiorach Rilmani purchase gear from Mon’Varan merchants. Many Mon’Varan also adventure in Smoke, as they hunger to travel and to fight. They are easily hired to undertake expeditions.

The religious Pogdrac, the dragon lizard people, are strange ones. Quiet, timid, and in tune with the land, they serve as the conscience of Slaan, and many serve in the courts or as arbiters of trade disputes. The Pogdrac are also arbiters between the various races within the city, for though they are little respected by the more violent lizard types, all see their religious wisdom, and fear the wrath of nature they are capable of summoning. It is the Pogdrac who help breed and monitor the food sources of the city, and without them the city would quickly starve.

Militant, but more professional about it than any other lizard race, the spiny Scel serve both as members of Slaan’s armies, and as guards and investigators. In any job that requires an armored presence for security and not intimidation they are the ones chosen. Scel are slow to act, but when they move, the axe head of their actions is inexorable. Scel are possessed of great stamina, and often undertake dangerous tasks of heavy labor. They are also the lizard race most inclined to smithing, though they rarely make weapons, preferring armor and more serviceable devices. Scel are also excellent ceramics crafters, and can create incredible things from the mud of ooze.

Bizarre, alien, mysterious, and almost always silent, the night lizard Xantu are a reminder of the alien-ness of Slaan. They have few visible homes and hold few visible jobs, but their presence is never far from the mind. The Xantu serve in the underworld of Slaan, and indeed many would say that they secretly control it, though no one ever seems to know whom one works for. Ultimately this race keeps its own council, though they are believed to be linked closely to the rulers of Slaan. When a Xantu knife strikes in the shadows their presence is made known, otherwise they are invisible.

Other Races
The domination of the reptilian population of Slaan has landed everyone else together with surprising equality. The cities other races generally consider each other from the same perspective. Some are of course more common than others, but all are found generally only in the “Mouth.” The following races are common enough in Slaan to have a stable permanent population.

It is impossible to travel somewhere in the multiverse and not find humans, so they are here, and like their presence in all other places, they are impossible to quantify. Humans may hold any role in the city’s structure, though most are active in the trading spheres. Much of the economic wealth of Slaan passes through human hands, and they can exercise considerable clout if they unite. However, the humans of Slaan come from so many backgrounds, factions, and sects that they never seem to agree on anything in large numbers, and the city continues to be property of the lizard men.

The most common planetouched in Slaan are the Genasi, mostly Air, Fire, Smoke, and Steam breeds. Tieflings, Aasimar, and others are not unknown, but they are scattered individuals, and do not have any sort of stable presence. The Genasi on the other hand, tend to fall into two camps: Those who are agents for the Djinn or Efreet, and those who are free souls. The agents are a subversive presence, always trying to leverage influence over the city for their masters, but they are also a tremendous source of funds. Slaan is one of the few sources for weapons forged in smoke, and other critical military supplies. Likewise, agents of the Genie races are constantly offering staggering sums for mercenaries. Genasi who do not serve other masters are prized for their abilities to voyage about the planes, and for their willingness to talk back to intimidating lizard masters. Many a Genasi is active in the city’s dueling enterprise, while others run specialized businesses. Smoke Genasi seem to have regular problems with Helods for some reason, however, and the two races just generally do not get along.

Slaan contains at least one and probably more stable portals to Mineral, and from that Geode come half-dragon refugees and exiles. These beings are not the high and potent bloods commonly expected of those touched by the blood of dragons, but unfortunates who offended the wrong person or failed in some critical task. Indeed, many are ronin, outcast dragon samurai who failed the dragon clans of Mineral and fled into exile rather than sacrifice their lives in pointless causes. The half-dragons of Slaan are neither cohesive nor numerous, and work many odd jobs throughout the city. Of course, since most of them are fighting types or spellcasters, they tend to sign up as mercenaries, especially for battles against the Dao. Others often serve as taskmasters for troglodyte and kobold work teams, where they are feared for their dragon blood. Khaasta even sometimes let them join in the city patrols.

These diminutive natives of the Ethereal are surprising creatures. The population dwelling in Slaan is quite small, essentially a group of Etherfarer traders, but important. These Nathri have links to the balance of their people, and to foodstuffs stolen from demiplanes of the Ethereal. These strange luxuries are in high demand among the rich, and so the Nathri do a brisk business. They also keep watch for the Etherfarers and serve as a refuge for members of that Sect.

Are they Reptillian? Most people can’t tell, but the lizard man answer is apparently no. They dislike the Xill, and barely tolerate the presence of such creatures in their city at all. Others wonder what the Xill are doing here as well; the race does not have a very good reputation. The Xill seem to do little in the city except live here, their small population minds its own business and occasionally hires messengers to carry documents and small items to exotic locations. There is suspicion from the Nathri that the Xill are targeting Ethereal travelers for ambush. No evidence exists for this, but heated words and the occasional duel are not uncommon.

Abiorach Rilmani
Mysterious, inscrutable, these servants of the balance count Slaan among perhaps half-dozen places where they have permanent residences. Well, perhaps residences is a bit strong, mostly the Rilmani just gather together to exchange news, consider how to marshal their energies, and to change bands. The Rilmani here are different from those encountered on the Outer Planes. The Abiorachs know that the Inner Planes are the lowest priority and that they’re the least powerful, but they consider the danger to the balance just as great. Cut off from reinforcements or the aid they consider their due, many Abiorachs are rather embittered, and often attempt to trick or force others into serving the balance. In Slaan they apparently have some arrangement with the city’s leadership to stay and not pay taxes. A number wander the city openly, and more certainly hide among the populace as humans. While the Rilmani prefer not to interfere in the city’s affairs (or at least not be seen to) the Pogdrac judges consider them wise and may call upon them to aid in judgment or serve as witnesses.

Common Visitors
Many other races can regularly be found staying in or passing through Slaan, though not living there in any great numbers. These include, but are not limited to: Githyanki, Githzerai, Most Demihumans, Salmanders, Azer, Mephits, Pech, Arcane, Yuan-ti, Ophidians, Dragon-kin, and Nagas.

The Origins of Slaan
By the Anatomist Thelon Arad
Poet’s and the like are fond of saying the origins of a city are “shrouded in mystery” or “spawned of mad god’s dreams.” Such talk is obscuring and irritating. Thankfully, in Slaan’s case we have most recently been able to shed some light on its formerly mysterious origins. Slaan is formed of Mineral shaped into the form of a Cerith shell, specifically a mollusk of the genus Rhinoclavis. Initial theories considered that a mass of Mineral this large must simply have been an extremely rare pocket that was shaped by the hands of powerful magic and labor. We now know that this is not the case. Analysis of its structure has indicated with certainty that Slaan is not a Mineral pocket, but a tremendous chunk of Mineral itself. It was carved prior to its transportation to Smoke. The power necessary to transport a mass of this size across so many planes, and Mineral is separated from Smoke by the entirety of the Quasielemental plane of Radiance, is staggering and a feat that cannot be achieved by any known means. Furthermore, the city must have been transported directly, as there is no evidence of any passage through intervening planes.

Legends of Slaan have tended to focus on the Mind Flayers, correctly known as Illithids, as the city’s creators. This stems from similarities in shape between the city and Illithid spelljamming vessels. In this case, however, all evidence indicates that this is the correct hypothesis. The current theory has evolved in the following fashion, based primarily on ancient historical records obtained from the Dragon Clans of Mineral and the vestiges of Ullitharid Qualith writing that yet remain on Slaan’s soot baked outer shell. Slaan was originally created sometime during the height of the ancient Illithid Empire (please see the Illithiad for details) at a period greater than 25,000 years in the past. At some point during that empire, a massive attack was staged on the Quasielemental Plane of Mineral. While that attack was beaten back by the psionically resistant Tsnng, the Dragon Clans, and the formation of an alliance of Mineral Quasielementals, the Illithids established many fortresses in Mineral during the war period. It is believed that Slaan was designed as the capstone of this fortress network, and it was intended to be fully mobile and able to auger through the plane. However, the city was never completed. Evidence now indicates that the incredibly powerful psionic engines intended for the city’s motion were burnt to a cinder in the desperate transition of the city away from Mineral in the face of wrathful Tsnng (several places on the walls of Slaan show the characteristic damage pattern caused by Tsnng Mineral Blast spells). It also seems that, regardless of where the Illithids intended to take their city, the Paraelemental plane of Smoke was not their intended destination (since the glass walls are rendered rather pointless on the plane).

It seems evident that some of the Illithids, at least, survived the transition, and secured the city against the hazards of Smoke by creating the city’s membranous gates. What happened later is less well known. There are no records whatsoever of Lizard Men arriving in Slaan, though they were certainly the first race to reach this place. No evidence can be determined for the lizard men taking the city by force, and the complete and total lack of all Illithid artifacts in the city when they arrived indicates that they were likely already gone. It is quite possible that the Illithid survivors were forced out of their city by the Efreet and Djinn, who had far less mutual hatred at that time, and never received the chance to take the city back before their empire crumbled (relative dating indicates that the Illithid Empire collapsed within several centuries of the failed attack on Mineral). However, this theory runs counter to the Genieban. If the genies took the city from the Illithids, why did they not hold it? It would be an almost ideal fortress in the Paraelemental plane.

My personal conclusion is that the Genies did not drive the Illithids from Slaan, but that instead they were forcibly removed from the city by another force (it is inconceivable that they would abandon the city on their own while the Empire lasted). There are two decent candidates for the removing force. The first is the Dragon Gods. The draconic pantheon, much stronger in those days, may have acted to secure Slaan for their races, especially the Burning Desert lizards, which have a tendency to worship them. The dragons of Mineral could also have pushed for such an action. Unfortunately, the only way to have these questions answered would be to ask the draconic powers, and they are difficult to contact. The second likely option is that the city was cleared by the Rilmani, who did not wish to allow Smoke to become corrupted by the presence of the evil Illithids. This follows reasonably well, as the Rilmani seem to have an arrangement with Slaan’s rulers, and the neutral lizard peoples are just the kind of settlers the Rilmani would have supported in Slaan. Unfortunately, those Abiorachs I have been able to approach with this question will not answer one way or the other. They may in fact be too young to actually know the answer, and it will be necessary to attempt to secure the data from higher-ranking Rilmani (which seems unlikely to occur at the current time).

Clueless's picture
Joined: 2008-06-30
Re: Slaan: Part 1 - Introduction to Slaan

This looks to be an awesome city to work with as a home base for an Inner Planes campaign Smiling

sciborg2's picture
Joined: 2005-07-26
Re: Slaan: Part 1 - Introduction to Slaan


Well detailed, tying into the greater landscape of the planes, with wonder and mystery all its own.

Very well presented, hope to see more about the city.


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evolutionary's picture
Joined: 2009-10-18
Re: Slaan: Part 1 - Introduction to Slaan

Fascinating and nicely presented.

Considering the assortment of scaly races in Slaan, it might be interesting to have a few relatively more active Sarrukh around to surreptitiously manipulate events, and as a way to explain the reptilian immigration to the city.

Mechalich's picture
Joined: 2004-05-16
Re: Slaan: Part 1 - Introduction to Slaan

This was actually originally written prior to Serpent Kingdoms, so there were no Sarrukh to incorporate even if I wished to. However, I doubt I would want to much. Sarrukh are largely a Faerunian phenomenon, and exist within the altered planar cosmology of Toril (unfortunately). The races that present the majority of Slaan are not Sarrukh creations for the most part and are generally of a more Saurian than Serpentine character.

Also, it's clear in the second and third parts of Slaan that Yuan-ti and their allies are at best disliked and at worst outright enemies of the city. Any Sarrukh present are more likely to be working to the city's overthrow than anything else.

evolutionary's picture
Joined: 2009-10-18
Re: Slaan: Part 1 - Introduction to Slaan

Mechalich wrote:
Sarrukh are largely a Faerunian phenomenon

I'm not sure how unorthodox my view is, but as I see it, the many sourcebooks released subsequent to the 'grand unification' of Planescape do have an important upshot, even at the cost of tossing dissonance into the mix, namely that one has a tremendous array of resources to borrow from nowadays.

Faerun and its crystal sphere is a big fish so far as primes go but it would be surprising to learn that there only exist Sarrukh there. The story animating the Sarrukh is an interesting one, especially insofar as their eugenics program (I don't think that's too harsh a term given the description provided) is alleged to be responsible for a good number of the scaly humanoid species. The particularly attractive part of the account is that the Sarrukh more or less intended that asabis, lizardfolk, etc, be as they are and directed that, as opposed, e.g., to the process that produced Drow Elves in the same region, where to process was remarkably effective but mostly a product of natural selection.

So their history on Faerun seems to me distinct from interests that the Sarrukh might have across the planes and what they would direct from the primes where they still lurk in the shadows.

and exist within the altered planar cosmology of Toril (unfortunately).

I once felt as you do, but I grew contented over time. In a way, the grand unification seems rather boring in retrospect. Sure, it takes a bit of work to spell out how these universes are connected, but I think that's part of the fun of it. So I've gone from someone who hated the parochialism of different cosmologies to someone who now takes the view that the pluralism is genuinely a good thing.

Also, it's clear in the second and third parts of Slaan that Yuan-ti and their allies are at best disliked and at worst outright enemies of the city. Any Sarrukh present are more likely to be working to the city's overthrow than anything else.

We agree on this. I'm sure that their intent is subversive, if shadowy.

Mechalich's picture
Joined: 2004-05-16
Re: Slaan: Part 1 - Introduction to Slaan

The more general point I was trying to make regarding the Sarrukh's links to Faerun deals more with the logistics of writing gaming material than any real preference. The Sarrukh were created specifically for the 3e version of the Forgotten Realms and all the material regarding them addresses their role in the specific reality of the Realms. This is different from the origin stories of say, Githyanki, Aboleth, or other races that are written from a generalized 'any or all prime worlds' perspective.

Therefore modifying the Sarrukh for use in the linked Planescape multiverse requires a whole bag of questions to be answered. For example: if the Sarrukh exist on many worlds are they the ultimate progenitors of Lizardfolk, Nagas, etc. or only of some? And if not progenitors of all, why were these races created multiple times? When did these creation events take place in relation to the greater Planescape timeline (ex. before or after the fall of the Illithid Empire, etc.)? If the Sarrukh exist do the other creator races still linger on the Planes somewhere? Did they have a similar dominance progression as they did on Faerun? How do these ancient race's exploits relate to the Exemplars and their early history?

I could go on for a while, but I think you get the idea. The history of Planescape is deliberately far more vague than that of the Forgotten Realms (since that is a single contained world as opposed to a vast improbably multiverse). It is very difficult to import a campaign-specific monster of great importance as anything more than a random encounter into another setting. Powerful Yuan-ti fit perfectly into Planescape and can play a similar role to the Sarrukh without raising these complex questions.

On a personal opinion, mechanics related note: Manipulate Form is a game-breaking monstrosity (see pun pun), and by itself a good reason to stay away from the Sarrukh.

evolutionary's picture
Joined: 2009-10-18
Re: Slaan: Part 1 - Introduction to Slaan

I recognize your point. A lot of writing about the whole multiverse, or even multiverses, must feel like the problem of onion peeling. And I think that the options lie on a spectrum. Either they are tell-all and resolve nearly all open questions raised (but still only seem to represent one take on the issue), or they are dodgy and operate piecemeal.

Anyhow, I think that this is the kind of standard issue that planar talk has to deal with, and although it's more difficult than on any given prime, it's also in principle doable. Even on the planes, there are very few, if any, ultimate answers known or even disclosed.

As for the mechanics point, that's an interesting one. Still, you know the DM/Supreme Ayatollah rule. Eye-wink

AlexanderDrake's picture
Joined: 2008-11-25
Slaan: Part 1 - Introduction to Slaan

I think someone played way to much Warhammer Fantasy. Not that I am knocking what you have done, you have done a good job. Heck I am useing Eldar material about craftworlds for material for the astral plane.....

Mechalich's picture
Joined: 2004-05-16
Re: Slaan: Part 1 - Introduction to Slaan

Actually, I've never played an ounce of Warhammer in my life.

Nor is Slaan entirely original idea, the entire article is based on a one-sentence mention in The Inner Planes: 'Slaan, a glass-covered lizardman burg in the paraelemental plane of smoke (chant says it was built by something other than lizard men, but no one knows what)'

The format is derived from the layout used in the Sigil chapter in the original Planescape boxed set.

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