The Great Modron March

The clack is some barmies think the great circle is about to disappear...
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Zeromaru X
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The Great Modron March

Post by Zeromaru X » Tue May 29, 2018 10:45 pm

I've read the 4e lore about modrons, how they born from the corpse of a primordial that craved Order instead of Chaos, and how Primus came to be. Then, the article just mentions that every 289 years the modrons march across the multiverse for some unknown purpose, and that the last march somehow was corrupted by the Orcus/Tenebrous event.

Then, the new March will happen soon, but some modrons have appeared early to combat the final 4e boss: the Abyssal Plague. Its feared that the last Great Modron March can be to wague war against the Voidharrow and its plague demons (it seems the Abyssal Plague is canon for the D&D meta-lore, but how it happened is somehow different from how it happened in the 4e novels: in the articles is mentioned that the Voidharrow was able to fully create Plaguedeep, something that was avoided in the novels).

Anyways, I understand the Modron March in the context of 4e. Can you explain to me the Modron March in the context of Planescape?

Thanks in advance :)
Last edited by Zeromaru X on Wed May 30, 2018 6:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Coronoides
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Re: The Great Modron March

Post by Coronoides » Tue May 29, 2018 11:01 pm

The idea is the subject of a adventure module I have not read but it sounds like 4e adopted some of the 2e lore.
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Re: The Great Modron March

Post by ripvanwormer » Wed May 30, 2018 1:30 am

The dead primordial isn't part of 2e or 3e lore.

The modrons survey the multiverse every 17 cycles of 17 years (because there are 17 outer planes), adding to Primus's store of knowledge and for whatever other obscure reasons they have (they don't talk about it). They travel the wheel of the Outer Planes in a path that kind of looks like a gear, beginning in Mechanus, traveling through the portal in Regulus to the gate-town of Automata in the Outlands, crossing to the gate-town of Fortitude into Arcadia, then from Arcadia to Celestia, from Celestia to the Outlands again to the gate-town of Tradegate, then into Bytopia and from there to Elysium, back to the Outlands, to the gate-town of Ecstasy to Elysium, from Elysium to the Beastlands, from the Beastlands back to the Outlands, from Sylvania to Arborea, and so on.

Tenebrous killed Primus with an ancient magic called the Last Word which he had unearthed from the sands of Pelion, then hooked himself into the Infinity Web that connected Primus to the modron collective, taking the place of Primus as the dark genius guiding the race, and forced them to begin the March early, scouring the planes for his missing wand, which Kiaransalee had hidden away. Tenebrous was only the undead remnants of Orcus, barely a god in this state, and as such the Last Word was slowly destroying him. But if he could recover the Wand of Orcus and the power he had invested in it... then he might recover his old might, and be able to wield the Last Word with impunity. And then nothing could stand against him. But time was running out. Instead of using the standard route, then, the modrons were sometimes directed to take shortcuts, including even a detour through Undermountain in the Forgotten Realms.

Note that the "17 cycles of 17 years" number was a retcon. Earlier Planescape sources had said the March happened every 17 years, and that Factol Pentar of the Doomguard had been preparing her entire career to attack it and destroy that intrusion of order in the planes. But later the designers decided that was too often, and said that it was 17 cycles, not 17 years. The Doomguard weren't mentioned in The Great Modron March, but a group affiliated with them in some way, the Tacharim, were involved. I ran an adventure where Pentar was riding with the Tacharim in disguise, unable to slaughter the modrons openly for political reasons.

After the March was complete, the modrons had failed to find the Wand, so Tenebrous simply abandoned them, their hateful lawfulness infecting his brain and threatening to afflict him with something like ethics (it didn't take, he was still chaotic evil, but I would have liked to see the idea of Tenebrous struggling with an embryonic conscience explored further).

Normally when Primus is destroyed, one of the four secundi who serve it is transformed into the new Primus, but according to Dragon #354, one secundus was infected with Tenebrous's Abyssal corruption. The other secundi went to Limbo to kill slaadi to prove their fitness to rule, while the corrupted secundus traveled instead to Bytopia and directed his army to slaughter the gnomish petitioners there. It declared victory, but the other secundi refused to accept this act as legitimate. The corrupted secundus seceded, storming out of the modron realm of Regulus into the neighboring plane of Acheron, bringing a million lesser modrons with it, pledging to build a stronger army and take Regulus by force.

With one quarter of the modrons gone, several formian queens took the opportunity to invade, and the inevitables began seizing modron territories in order to utilize their resources until the new Primus made a treaty with them.

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Re: The Great Modron March

Post by Zeromaru X » Wed May 30, 2018 3:13 am

ripvanwormer wrote:
Wed May 30, 2018 1:30 am
The dead primordial isn't part of 2e or 3e lore.

Normally when Primus is destroyed, one of the four secundi who serve it is transformed into the new Primus, but according to Dragon #354, one secundus was infected with Tenebrous's Abyssal corruption. The other secundi went to Limbo to kill slaadi to prove their fitness to rule, while the corrupted secundus traveled instead to Bytopia and directed his army to slaughter the gnomish petitioners there. It declared victory, but the other secundi refused to accept this act as legitimate. The corrupted secundus seceded, storming out of the modron realm of Regulus into the neighboring plane of Acheron, bringing a million lesser modrons with it, pledging to build a stronger army and take Regulus by force.

With one quarter of the modrons gone, several formian queens took the opportunity to invade, and the inevitables began seizing modron territories in order to utilize their resources until the new Primus made a treaty with them.
Well, there were no primordials before 4e, so I knew that was new for 4e. So, there are no a origins story for the modrons in Planescape?

As for Primus, the article in Dragon 414 says that eventually a secundus evolved into a new Primus and brought order to the modrons. Then, when chaos began to attack the multiverse, in the form of the Abyssal Plague, this new Primus sent the modrons to counter the Voidharrow and his minions.
Coronoides wrote:
Tue May 29, 2018 11:01 pm
The idea is the subject of a adventure module I have not read but it sounds like 4e adopted some of the 2e lore.
Despite the fact that the cosmology is different, 4e does reference a lot of stuff from Planescape.

A small bit of trivia: the last great march happened during the wars that led to the fall of Nerath...

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Re: The Great Modron March

Post by Tim Baker » Wed May 30, 2018 4:32 am

I'm not sure how relevant this is, but I believe I heard someone mention that Primus was involved with Asmodeus' "origin story" in the new Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes for 5e. You might want to check it out if you're curious to see one of the more recent additions to Modron canon.
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Re: The Great Modron March

Post by Zeromaru X » Wed May 30, 2018 6:36 am

Have you read the stuff of the Pact Primeval and the trial of Asmodeus, from 3.5? I guess, from the Fiendish Codex. It's the same. Just swamp the lawful gods for Primus as the judge in the trial.

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Re: The Great Modron March

Post by Tim Baker » Wed May 30, 2018 6:46 am

Zeromaru X wrote:
Wed May 30, 2018 6:36 am
Have you read the stuff of the Pact Primeval and the trial of Asmodeus, from 3.5? I guess, from the Fiendish Codex. It's the same. Just swamp the lawful gods for Primus as the judge in the trial.
No, I sure haven't. I didn't realize they'd channeled some 3.5 lore, there. :)
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Re: The Great Modron March

Post by ripvanwormer » Wed May 30, 2018 6:12 pm

Zeromaru X wrote:
Wed May 30, 2018 3:13 am
Well, there were no primordials before 4e, so I knew that was new for 4e. So, there are no a origins story for the modrons in Planescape?
There were a number of creatures before 4e that 4e reclassified as primordials (Akadi, Imix, Istishia, Grumbar, Olhydra, etc.) so it's conceivable that there was a similar pre-4e myth for modrons, but as it happens there wasn't. Most things didn't get definitive origins, and modrons are no exception. The closest thing is the "In the beginning, primal forces raged back and forth across the playing field of the unformed mass of Being" myth from Hellbound.

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Re: The Great Modron March

Post by Big Mac » Wed May 30, 2018 7:28 pm

Zeromaru X wrote:
Wed May 30, 2018 3:13 am
Well, there were no primordials before 4e, so I knew that was new for 4e.
In Forgotten Realms some of the primordials were just rebooted deities.

I think that could be extended to all primordials (in othe campaign settings), if you wanted to infer what primordials would have been like under earlier rules.
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