Out With the Old
A machine realm of perfect harmony, long ago shattered by divine war.
Long ago, Archanus was a beautiful realm, a massive world of clockwork precision ruled over by a deity of invention and intellect known as Primus, the One and Prime. Primus was one of the original architects of the Lattice of Heaven, and a pioneer in both creation and discovery of the divine and cosmic laws of the universe. Primus constructed and adapted Archanus as a sort of scale model for the Lattice of Heaven, a massive orrery detailing the arrangement and movement of the multiverse.
During the Dawn War, Archanus developed a secondary function; in addition to the creation of the Modrons who maintained the workings of Mechanus and gathered additional information about the multiverse to refine its functions and calculations, the plane also became a factor for the creation of the Inevitables, highly-intelligent sapient constructs who exist to overcome chaos and enforce divine laws. It was during this time that some craft saboteur introduced a flaw into the works.
Some say the flaw was trying to converyt Primus’ orrery into a war machine. Others say that the flaw was caused by modrons trying to model the influence of the Seed of Evil in the orrery’s function, which introduced entropy to the system. Most, however, believe that the flaw was an intentional act of sabotage by an agent of the Primordials, or perhaps the Demon Princes, of even the Chained God.
The flaw’s influence was subtle at first; a belt out of time here, or a wobbly cog there. And as these deviations were noticed, the modrons sought to correct them. But the flaw itself went undiscovered, and the side-effects only continued to multiply, spreading throughout the plane. By the time the great clock’s keepers realized the extent of the problem, it was far too late to contain it. Parts of the realm ground to a halt. Others warped, tore loose, or shattered under the awesome force of jammed cogs the size of cities and overstrained springs longer than many highways. The creation of Inevitables slowed to a trickle, and soon after, the gods began to experiment with the creation of Abominations.
Much of Archanus is ruined, loose cogs ineffectually spinning in space, fragments of old machinery juddering and ticking, and a great of it just corroded and sitting still. The plane is nigh-infinite, so there are parts of the Great Clock out in the distance that have yet to be affected, and anyone on the plane can hear the massive mechanical noise of the distant clockworks doing their jobs, but also the cacophony of the cascading reaction still destroying them. Several ruined portions of the Machine have been overrun by Formians, a sapient species of giant insects, sometimes called centaur ants. It is unclear whence the formians came, but they seem to spawn in Archanus now.
One of the still-functioning portions of the plane is known as The Life-Molds of Neumannus, one of the assembly lines where new Inevitables are constructed. As the destructive chain reaction cascaded through the plane, forward-thinking modrons \began hurriedly disconnecting parts of Archanus from the rest of the plane to keep them from being wrecked by the Great Flaw. Neumannus was one of these. But Neumannus is no longer driven by the rotation of the whole plane, and several powerful modrons and inevitables have to join forces to get the factories working even at a snail’s pace.
Another site disconnected and spared the chaos of the Flaw is Regulus, a collection of 64 city-sized cogs and smaller gears and sprockets that serve as the homeland (and manufacturing base) for the modrons. These cogs continue to turn, having been reconnected to the working parts of the plane again. The modrons and other inhabitants of the plane measure time by the slow rotation of Regulus. Modrons are occasionally produced by other portions of Archanus, but Regulus is where they gather. In the center of regulus rules the new Primus, the One and Prime, a powerful modron elevated to rulership of the plabe by Erathis and Ioun. Primus has not yet been able to “claim” Archanus as its dominion, possibly owing to the plane’s advanced and ongoing state of disrepair, or possibly due to his own lack of divine might. At present, most of Primus’ energy goes into keeping Regulus turning smoothly.
On one of the frozen wheels sits the Fortress of Disciplined Enlightenment where scholars and planar philosophers study the workings of the shattered orrery to glean some insight into the workings of the multiverse or the pattern of the original Lattice of Heaven. The scholars who study here tend to interpret things as amatter of cosmic “laws,” laws that can be appealed or debated. Another prominent settlement is Delon-Estin Oti, an egalitarian, peaceful city devoted to the principles of law and order. The citizens of Delon-Estin Oti often seem a little too placid to visitors, but if asked about it, they simply assert that visitors are just unused to seeing truly orderly lives in a truly orderly society.
The Loose Cogs, Boundary Islands of Arkhanus
The translucent color sea of Arkhanus has several cogs from the shattered plane still floating in it. Because no active divinity dwells in Arkhanus, this realm has no outsiders trying to eke out a living on these bits of planar flotsam. Still, settlers do move in, and several cogs are infested with formians. Modrons occasionally emerge from Arkhanus to settle one of these cogs, which they defend to the death. When violence or accident causes enough modrons to die on a cog, their essence suffuses the cog and draws it back though and into its rightful position in Arkhanus.
Planar archaeologists and warlords often use these cogs as a staging ground for expeditions into the plane to uncover ancient lore, valuable resources, or war machines from the Dawn War. Because they are so often fortified, these cogs are only rarely raided. Besides which, Archanus has no barrier to entry by outsiders, and far greater treasures await within.