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Rilmani paragons

Posted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 3:43 am
by ripvanwormer
The Gray Lords

The Gray Lords are a council of argenachs. They are the highest-up rilmani even the greatest of mortal champions of the Balance are likely to meet, and, if they have anything to say about it, the highest-up they will even be aware of.

When tides of great evil or unremitting good seem ready to conquer a world, great heroes and villains will occasionally turn to the Balance for aid. This is where the Gray Lords come in. The Gray Lords feign weakness and an overwillingness to compromise with unbalancing forces, helping to create an illusion of rilmani uselessness. They murmur sorrowfully to one another. "Maybe if we give the Abyss a few more Prime worlds, they'll be satisfied..." they'll say. Of course, if the rilmani didn't have the utmost confidence in their supplicants' abilities, they wouldn't get to see the Gray Lords at all. And if they need a little help from polymorphed rilmani working in secret, that could be arranged, too.

They dwell in a misty valley at the base of a spire so tall it disappears in the mist. This is not, of course, the Spire, but it is impressive enough to fool the Clueless.

Gongsun, Master-of-All, the Yellow Emperor

If the rilmani have an ultimate leader, it is Gongsun. It is he whose cleverness and art defeated the kamarel. It is he who has remained aurumach for all the ages since, refusing to succumb to the temptation of merging with the Spire or retiring as a plumach, who has avoided assassins from his race and all others for Turns uncountable.

Because he is a rilmani, he will not admit to being any kind of leader at all. "The aurumachs are a council of equals," he says sagely. "Our authority is in perfect balance, each checking and complimenting the others. If one among us spoke louder than the rest, he would have become a destabilizing influence, and would therefore be sent to join the plumachs, to learn subtlety isolated from those not rilmani."

Every rilmani knows better. There is no one else in all the planes so masterful in doing by not doing, controlling by not controlling, barking orders by saying nothing. There are no others so subtle, so sly. No one else could turn the mirror-magic of the kamarel against them, or transform the basic nature of the Spire in a place where no one could have any powers at all. The other aurumachs are puppets dancing on Gongsun's strings, and through them he manipulates the celestials and fiends, the hordes of anarchy and the wheels of order, shadow and ether, the scions of the elements, the Astral, and the Prime.

He is master of the multiverse because he is master of no one. To the lowliest plumach or the freshest abiorach he bows and kowtows, and yet his merest whim his made reality. He tells no one what to do; therefore they do it.

He cannot be fathomed. His methods cannot be traced. He cannot be stopped. The Balance will be served. The Balance will be served.

Great Wheel, Wanderer-of-All, Servant-of-All

The most active of the aurumachs, the rilmani known as Great Wheel represents others of her kind far from the Spire. Great Wheel wanders the planes, visiting each in their turn, supervising the activities of lesser rilmani and acting as a reminder of rilmani power to those powers capable of sensing her. When she returns to the aurumach council, she is the loudest voice and the most eloquent speaker. To any non-rilmani observer, it would appear that Great Wheel is their leader, or at least their dominant voice. In reality Great Wheel is the lowliest among them, the one most often stuck doing the bidding of the others far from the Balance she calls home. Yet, in lowliness is there not strength? Is Great Wheel not an essential part of the council's balance? Surely she knows this, and plays her role knowing how indispensible she really is. Perhaps, in a way, she is truly the power she appears to be.


If the rilmani have a rebellion, then Center-of-All is its leader. He is their Mordred, their Judas, their Lucifer, their Takhisis. He is all this, yet he has a seat in the innermost circles of the aurumachs. They listen to him gravely as he speaks words that threaten to tear the heart out of the rilmani race, and they do nothing. Sometimes they politely applaud. To crudely cast him from their ranks as the archons did to Triel, as the eladrins did to Salafin, as the modrons did to the Secondus of Rempha, as the guardinals did to Mowatt Ke'Mahn, as the baernaloths did to Apomps, as the tanar'ri did to J'sald Xerix, or as the baatezu did to Moloch is not the rilmani way. Instead they counter him, they corral him, they keep him in check. Yet with each move he makes his goals come closer to fruition.

The other aurumachs look toward their Yellow Emperor, desperation in their eyes but unwilling to make the fatal error of voicing their concerns aloud for fear of tipping the delicate Balance the wrong way. Gongsun, of course, bows in respect for his colleagues but says nothing. What is his game? they wonder. How will he save us? The Spire, of course, was Gongsun's creation. Perhaps not the physical rock or its properties, but its position of importance as the center of cosmic Balance and the rilmani race was his idea. He showed the others how to reach it despite the illusions of the kamarel and the power-hungry suction of the structure itself. He showed them how to use it to transform and create others of their kind in a place the Powers themselves could never touch.

Ages and ages have passed. The planes and their chief arcana have been rearranged many times over, the Balance always being restored. Now Center-of-All, the rogue agent, emerges as an aurumach without making the pilgrimage to the Spire such a metamorphosis requires, without passing the tests the other aurumachs have set. Absurd, they think. Impossible, inconceivable. But they keep their council to themselves, imitating their master. Aloud they welcome the new member of what they thought was an exclusive fraternity, and expand their circle by another seat. And Center-of-All begins to tell them openly what he wants to do and what he seeks to accomplish. Among the aurumachs, this is not done. They could not have been more shocked if he had pulled out a weapon and began slaughtering every one of them.

"The multiverse is not what you think it is," says Center-of-All. "It is not a series of rings circling a central hub. It is not Law balanced by Chaos and Evil by Good. It is not matter countered by ideals. It is not Possibility countered by a final Void.

"The Balance is everywhere, between everything. The balance between two neighboring trees is as crucial as the one betwen baatezu and tanar'ri. Nothing is unimportant. Nothing is unworthy of our attention.

"And the Spire is no more significant than anything else: the planes have no center."

It was the last statement that caused the uncomfortable shifting and rigid smiles that for aurumachs qualifies as an uproar. Those were the words that branded Center-of-All as the enemy of all his kind. He would make the Spire itself redundant, and with his strange ascension he had proven he had found the power to do so.

Across the worlds, Center-of-All has recruited lesser rilmani to advance his cause. On Mount Olympus and green Yggdrasil, in the shadow of the Mound of Skulls in Avernus and in a tiny village on the world of Oerth (Certhis, pop. 230), Center-of-All has created new axises mundi, new places for rilmani to be born and grow. Even plumachs have come to live in these new rilmani capitals, emerging in mass from the Corelands for the first time since their caste was created by the Yellow Emperor so long ago.

Center-of-All's hands are in a variety of strange projects that mainstream rilmani thought rejects. Who else would put so much effort into grooming a cambion to be obsessed with the Rule of Threes, or convincing a deva to found a sect based on the Unity of Rings principle?

The other aurumachs fear that Center-of-All is weakening the unity of their race, and do what they can to subtly destroy these new places and bring their inhabitants back to the fold. Yet Center-of-All has outsmarted them at every turn. In the planes, those few entities aware of the division in the rilmani collective psyche (and there are less than a handful so cognizant, considering the aurumachs do not speak of their disagreement even among themselves) contemplate ways to turn the situation to their own advantage. Center-of-All does not worry; he knows he is making his people stronger. And Gongsun says nothing.

Omphalos, Eldest-of-All

The very first of the rilmani, the founder of the race. Creator of Gongsun and so many others. It is said that when first Good met Evil and Chaos met Law, Omphalos was there, created from the dissonance in their auras or their fevered copulation. There are others among the aurumach elite who believe that Omphalos actually created the other alignments for reasons only the Eldest-of-All understands, giving birth to the primal creators of the guardinals even as the baernaloths tore their way from the progenitor's flesh, causing the great toad-serpents who would degenerate into slaadi to rise from chaos' muck even as she wove the Infinity Web that would give rise to the One and Prime.

Only a few of the truly enlightened, such as the Yellow Emperor, Great Wheel, and Center-of-All, know that both of these myths are true, and neither of them. Omphalos is the eldest of the rilmani race, the creator of Balance and Unbalance alike, and yet she is also the very youngest. Every time the Balance shifts, every time a gate-town slides, every time a sentient being makes a choice between Balance and one of its component alignments, the Eldest-of-All is reborn, recreated, reconfigured. She is the living incarnation of the Balance as it is from moment to moment, and she is never the same,

Omphalos, therefore, is constantly changing in appearance. Most commonly, the Eldest-of-All resembles an abiorach with her youthful features, her mercurial, shifting flesh, and the millions of colors that continually flash across its surface. Yet abiorachs rarely have such a place of honor at the aurumach council, or have words and actions examined so closely for clues as to the state of the multiverse at large.

When it is deemed necessary by the council, Omphalos is brought to an examining room and dissected - or, as it is sometimes phrased, inhumed - for every one of her internal organs reflects some aspect of the total Balance. Despite this torture, the Eldest-of-All cannot die. Omphalos is the Balance, and will live as long as there is still hope for equilibrium on the planes.

The Great Scales of Balance

Somewhere, deep in the Central Outlands, the rilmani constructed a magnificent city. Only a rumor outside the metal-skinned race, the city is said to be one of the sacred meeting places for the Concordanach, the meeting the rilmani hold to determine the future of the Balance. Nobody except the rilmani has reported actually seeing this city.

The city is well-hidden and well-protected by the exemplars who call it home. The chant says that this city holds an artifact of balance that the rilmani use to aid in their analysis of the multiverse and their direction of the Balance itself. Those who have heard of this artifact call it the Great Scales of Balance.

The Great Scales are said to be a massive construction, reaching almost two hundred feet in the air and spanning over two hundred yards. As the name suggests, it resembles a giant scale, but it has eight weighing bowls rather than the standard two. While each bowl is, to the normal observer, always empty, the bowls often tip as if weights had been placed inside. Anyone who even remotely comprehends the rilmani and their purpose would understand what the Scales represent. Each of the eight weighing bowls represents one of the extremes in alignment, running the gamut from chaotic to lawful, good to evil.

It is said that the Scales are made of metal, mostly of gold, but certain components are forged of silver, lead, copper, iron, and even solidified mercury. How the rilmani are able to capture and maintain mercury in solid form so close to the Spire remains a mystery to anyone who has ever heard of the site. The base of the Scales is hollow. Inside, a set of golden and silver stairs wind their way up to the apex of the base, the crux where suspensions of the weighing bowls joins. There is a grand chamber where the rilmani are said to sometimes hold their Concordanach. The chamber offers a clear view of each weighing bowl as it tips and rises in favor or against each alignment.

Argenach and aurumach philosophers and observers continually record the movements of the Scales, tracking the tilt of the Balance as it changes. Some believe that these recorders and observers are able to interpret the Scales’ tilt and determine the best courses of action by the simple rise and fall of the weighing bowls. The aurumach leaders receive the counsel of these observers at Concordanach, and then decide which means are the most appropriate to correct the flaws in the Balance.

How the Scales were built and attuned to the alignments remains a mystery to those who have heard of this marvelous structure. Some say that it contains the souls of deceased rilmani, essences so in tune with the Balance that they are sensitive to the changes in the Balance’s movements. Some claim that rather than rilmani souls, the rilmani used the souls of exemplars of each alignment when creating the weighing bowls. As the Balance shifts toward one extreme, the soul of that alignment becomes heavier and tilts the Scales toward it. Some believe that the Scales are given this mysterious ability simply as a natural function of the Outlands. Most proponents of this theory believe that the Scales were actually carved from a great rock or mountain – or perhaps from pieces of the Spire itself – and converted into a scale by plumach architects. All of this is mere conjecture, though, as no one who isn’t rilmani has ever been able to (honestly) claim to have seen these Scales.

Rilmani Factions – Overview

Though the Balance remains the focal point of the mind of every rilmani, the favored method to maintain that Balance differs within the race. One could compare this difference to the differences in methods of worship within a church to the same deity, such as the Christian Church. All worshipers nominally worship the same God, but their beliefs about that God and the paths to salvation differ from faction to faction. In much the same way, all of the rilmani have the same end in mind: the support and maintenance of the Balance. However, the means to that end differ within the rilmani society. Unlike a religious difference, these philosophical differences are not strong enough to cause a schism within the rilmani race. The rilmani are a strongly unified race. It would seem that the aurumach leaders understand how to use these different views of achieving Balance to further strengthen the unity of the race, rather than allowing the race to fall apart.

The Rilmani Factions At a Glance

Some of these factions have philosophies that are quite similar. Others believe in means that work well with the ideals of one or more other factions. Regardless of any similarities, though, a rilmani in one of these factions believes most strongly in the course that his faction philosophy dictates.

The Destroyers – The Destroyer faction could almost be kin to the Doomguard. Members of the Destroyer faction believe that the Balance of the multiverse is best achieved by simply eliminating and destroying all that causes imbalance.

The Twins of Light and Darkness are, together, the leaders of the Destroyer faction. They are both aurumachs; one dresses in white, the other in black. Other than that, they are identical in both looks and personality, though it is believed that the black-garbed twin is the more aggressive of the two. It's perfectly possible, however, that they exchange wardrobes depending on the mood they happen to be in.

The Veiled – The Veiled seek to work the Balance through extremely subtle means. To them, the rilmani should take an active role in the multiverse, but should do so from behind the scenes.

Teresias of the Veil is the most visible of the Veiled Ones, which isn't saying much. Teresias is almost never seen, except for a pair of golden eyes swathed in cloaks of invisibility. At the council of the aurumachs, Teresias says nothing, but is seen to nod, almost imperceptibly but not quite, while this or that aurumach pauses during a speech. The Veiled apparently take their inspiration from the Yellow Emperor, but the Master-of-All himself has nothing to do with the factions and schisms of his kind. At least, not as far as anyone knows.

The Minglers – Often called the Meddlers, the Mingler faction believes that the Balance should best be achieved by mingling with the other races, either as a rilmani or as one of that other race.

Ukhukh Half-Caste is believed to be a rare half-rilmani, a crossbreed between an aurumach and a human being. Although not part of the aurumach council, Ukhukh is a tireless advocate of the Mingler cause, and due to his mastery of disguise and espionage many rilmani respect his judgement.

The Defenders – Often considered the antithesis of the Destroyers, the Defenders believe that the multiverse must be preserved in order for the Balance to be maintained.

The Red Hand is a symbol left by agents in the service of a powerful rilmani of unknown caste. A feared conquerer will be slain by assassins, or defeated in battle by a ferrumach legion, or outsmarted by abiorachs, and the symbol of the Red Hand will be left to show everyone - especially other rilmani - who was responsible. Across the multiverse, destructive and wasteful powers are eliminated by agents of the Hand. Is there truly one rilmani orchestrating the whole movement, or are a number of associated beings acting as one? The mystery remains unsolved.

Saint-of-Sinners is apparently an abiorach. It travels the multiverse, giving aid to minions of evil who have no hope of receiving it from their own.

The Saboteurs – Sometimes mistaken for the Destroyers, though the Saboteurs do not believe in complete destruction. Rather, they believe one must undermine the efforts of the strongest side to create the equilibrium that the Balance desires.

A cuprilach identifying herself as Typhoeus is the apparent ringleader of the Saboteurs. who were formally under the sway of the Twins of Light and Darkness before a public split tore the faction apart. Some among the Defenders whisper that beneath her cloak, Typhoeus wears a bloody, hand-shaped scar that refuses to heal.The Saboteurs remain by far the smaller group, though most aurumachs unaligned with the Twins are sympathetic to it, and offer secret support.

Re: Rilmani paragons

Posted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 11:42 am
by Sturm
Wonderful NPCs. Are some of them mentioned in canon or they are entirely your creations? I am familiar with the description in the Monstrous Commpendium but I do not recall much else in other Planescape products, unless is one I never read..

Re: Rilmani paragons

Posted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 4:19 pm
by ripvanwormer
Center-of-All is mentioned in canon (in Uncaged: Faces of Sigil) as a rumour, as a third NPC personifying Planescape's rules along with Unity-of-Rings and Rule-of-Three, but I invented everything about him apart from him being a rilmani leader. The others aren't canon. Gongsun is inspired by Chinese legend, the Gray Lords from Michael Moorcock.

Re: Rilmani paragons

Posted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 4:28 pm
by Sturm
Great work, praises! :)

Re: Rilmani paragons

Posted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 8:17 pm
by willpell
I really like the idea of Gongsun, I'm sure I recognize Omphalos from somewhere, and the name "The Scales of Balance" definitely excites me, though I don't know whether I'm actually on board with them.

Re: Rilmani paragons

Posted: Sat Sep 09, 2017 9:08 pm
by Havard
fascinating concepts! :)


Re: Rilmani paragons

Posted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 9:56 am
by apotheot
Once again, Rip creates steal-worthy lore! Awesome job, mate!