|#1gray_richardsonJun 25, 2004 21:53:18||I have always had a problem with Carceri being on the chaotic side of the evil axis. (Even back when it was called Tarterus and the Great Wheel was square.) To my mind a whole plane devoted to imprisonment is the ultimate expression of the imposition of law on transgressors. Heck, in some ways it strikes me as a concept to be a more fitting occupant of the LE corner than Baator itself. But it should at the very least be located near the LE corner.|
Gehenna I feel also has aspects that make it more appropriate to occupy the slot next to the Abyss.
I have always felt that Gygax got it wrong somewhat, that he plopped Tarterus down without really thinking it through and it's been stuck that way ever since.
What do you think? Should Carceri and Gehenna be flipped?
|#2Shemeska_the_MarauderJun 25, 2004 23:21:21||Nope, because Carceri isn't a prison in the sense of being jailed and living a structured, ordered, rigid existence. Most people there are there because of their own actions, their own betrayels, and their inability to let go of the chains of their own making.|
Gehenna on the other hand is where only one thing exists: will. The strong have it, the weak suffer in their shadow. Personal strength can bring you up out of the suffering to some extent (though you'll never benefit from it much unless you're a fiend. It's the Yugoloth's playground, perhaps even more so then in the Waste because they're utterly open about their grip on power in the Fourfold Furnace while in the Waste they're content to relax and allow others to think the Hags have some power when in truth they control the Waste on the most primal level.)
The people in Carceri are trapped by lies, betrayels, paranoia, etc. Except for beings such as the Titans of Othrys, it's not an imposed condition. For many their existence in Carceri is less a prison then a hellish refuge or a place of exile. That's certainly the case for Apomps and his children the Gehreleths/Demodands.
Now that you've heard about the place, might I interest you in a vacation for two to the plane of conflict of your choice? Boat trips down the Styx? Sightseeing of lava rivers in Gehenna? Random 'leth attacks in Carceri? Fun for the entire family!
|#3bob_the_efreetJun 25, 2004 23:55:09|
Originally posted by Shemeska the Marauder
I think every visitor to Gehenna should try wading through the rivers of lava. It's quite invigorating. And the local yugoloths are so accomodating to the travellers. You just need the 'right kind' of jink.
|#4sarig_the_genieJun 26, 2004 1:34:27||"Ah yes, Gehenna! My Djinn servants never will accompany me there, for some reason, but travelling alone is just as fine, if you know the right cutters, or know who to avoid at least."|
"I'll agree with the Efreet, lava vading is a lot of fun, as long as the stream is not too strong. Watch out for some of the regulars though, they're devils at playing dice! (pun intended)"
|#5gray_richardsonJun 26, 2004 10:18:18|
Carceri isn't a prison in the sense of being jailed and living a structured, ordered, rigid existence. Most people there are there because of their own actions, their own betrayels, and their inability to let go of the chains of their own making.
Well, you're kind of making my case for me. "Will" is the defining characteristic of Limbo, the one thing that brings form to the place. "Do whatever you want if you have the power" is certainly the credo of the Tanar'ri and chaotic beings in general. Precisely because Gehenna embodies the ideals of free will and lawlessness, it seems philosophically closer to the Abyss and should be located there.
For many their existence in Carceri is less a prison then a hellish refuge or a place of exile.
You said it yourself, Carceri is "hellish" ;) the whole place reaks of "order" and as such should occupy the philosophical coordinates next to Baator.
I agree that the imprisonment may be more internally imposed than any external application of law. But if people are consigning themselves to Carceri out of their own strong sense of transgression, how is this any less an imposition of law?
If anything it says that the self-imposed petitioners owe fealty to the lawful side of their natures and although they may have deviated from their personal code in life they view law as important and feel guilty for having violated it and so choose to impose order on their afterlife. Is this not the the exact opposite of Gehenna's free will philosophy?
Gehenna because of its free will, might-makes-right, guiltless attitude should definitely be flipped with Carceri whose downtrodden, should'a-would'a-could'a petitioners are burdenned with guilt from a life marked by imperfect adherence to whatever lawful code they subscribed to. Because the petitioners to Carceri choose not to exercise free will and rather impose a punishment on themselves for violating their ethical code, it makes Carceri a philosophical complement of Baator and should be located next to it on the lawful side of evil.
|#6ripvanwormerJun 26, 2004 10:24:04|
Originally posted by Gray Richardson
To be fair, Gygax didn't detail the planes - he just came up with the names, alignments, and some of their inhabitants. Occasionally he would throw in an adjective here and there to indicate that the planes would have been very different if he had developed them himself. For example, Pandemonium is referred to as the "ever-changing planes of Pandemonium" in the World of Greyhawk boxed set, indicating he saw it as a highly morphic realm. Hades would have been night-black instead of gray, Acheron would have been a place of flat iron plains instead of cubes, and Gehenna probably would have been completely on fire instead of variously volcanic.
Instead, they evolved slowly as Dragon Magazine and various adventures detailed a few of them, and finally in 1987 Jeff Grubb wrote the Manual of the Planes which basically fixed the cosmology as we know it today, although Planescape revised it somewhat and they dropped a few inner planes in the 3rd edition.
But I agree with Shemeska. Carceri is plane of treachery and betrayal, primal chaos constrained by its own untrustworthiness into something more limited than the Abyss but more full of lies and fury than the Waste. Its spheres are like the circles made when dogs bite their masters' hands, like plans undone by their plotters' own treachery. It fits. Gehenna is a plane of deliberate, considered acts and surgical torments, where rivers of lava are channeled according to their masters' will. Of course the pyroclastic desplays and acid snow is more chaotic than you'll find in Phlegethon or Cania, but nothing like the wilds of the Abyss or the savage jungles of Carceri.
|#7ripvanwormerJun 26, 2004 10:44:39|
Originally posted by Gray Richardson
Actually, Gehenna is the opposite of that. The Planes of Conflict boxed set says the dark of Gehenna is that "free will is an illusion. There's only the will of the strong and the will of the weak. The weak are low, while the strong rule."
It's a plane of predestination, where people are born to their power and nothing can change that. It's a plane where petitioners have no hope of becoming more than living scrolls stacked in orderly rows by the arcanaloths, or food-stock of the barghests. It's a plane of divine right and rigid castes.
Yes, will is important there, but it exists as a fixed quality, and nothing can change it.
In a real sense, Gehenna is the exact evil equivalent of Bytopia. Bytopia is the plane of cooperation, where everyone works together for the common good, each making up for the others' shortcomings to form a greater whole. Gehenna is the plane of exploitation, where those of lesser station work for the "good" of their superiors, gaining nothing for themselves. Bytopia is the plane of perfect capitalism, while Gehenna is capitalism at its worst.
But if people are consigning themselves to Carceri out of their own strong sense of transgression, how is this any less an imposition of law?
The people of Carceri have no sense of transgression. They are amoral and wild. The oldest inhabitants may be the titans and the gehreleths, and these cutters far predate morality or any other system of order in the planes - they predate the shape of the Great Ring itself. The titans, particularly, are the primal chaos that existed before the gods. They care nothing for laws or guilt. The gehreleths, though more neutral because of their origins in the Gray Waste, are also savage beings of confusion and slaughter.
Carceri is also home of the gods of the fomorians, those chaotic elder beings displaced by the Tuatha de Danaan who now rule in the Outlands, and the home of the savage, barbarous gods of the hill giants. It's the home of Malar, god of beasts. In a very real way, Carceri is the evil side of the Beastlands, a place where bestial rage and mindless killing holds sway in place of the Beastlands' noble and necessary circle of life.
The Carcerians are incarcerated not by any sense that what they've done is wrong, but because Carceri is the plane of betrayal incarnate, and it thus betrays every plan they may have to leave. The titans betrayed their children, Apomps betrayed his fellow baernaloths, and in turn the titans were betrayed by their children, Apomps by his associates. Carceri is where betrayal feeds betrayal feeds betrayal, and endless circle, a perfect sphere masking more treacheries within, endless layers of duplicity leading to a hollow, honorless core.
Imprisonment is not the key word in Carceri - treachery is. And treachery always ensnares those who live by it exclusively in their own nets. If Carceri was more lawful, the incarcerated could use the stability of those laws to leave, but there is no solid ground in this chaotic plane for them to grip (figuratively speaking). Every step they make slips from beneath them as soon as it gets a better offer. Carceri is the opposite of Gehenna, where a high-up can count on his underlings to say beneath him. In Carceri all are equal in treachery, kings can become servants and servants can become kings in the unending circle of duplicity, and ultimately no one ends up on top.
|#8zombiegleemaxJul 05, 2004 19:24:48||You're absolutely right, Gray. Tartarus is a plane of punishment and that derives from Law. It is a plane of imprisonment, wherein the new gods banished the old gods; Law binding ancient Chaos. It could be lawful neutral or lawful evil.|
Gehenna is somewhat trickier because in mythology the references to Gehenna are slim and poetic at best. Nothing about Blake's description of Gehenna tells you what its "alignment" might be, other than 'Black Gehenna' being an aspect of (Christian) Hell. Originally this had a Jewish meaning as a valley.
The mistake some people here are making is to use published RPG material as support for their arguments. That's circular reasoning. If the basic premise of the planes as described in PS is wrong, then all subsequent descriptions will be wrong, and hence cannot be used as supporting evidence. It's akin (no pun intended) to quoting the Bible to prove that God exists.
That said, there's really not that much reason for making the planes into whatever you want in a fantasy setting, especially for places that are poorly described at best in traditional mythology.
|#9gray_richardsonJul 05, 2004 20:32:54||The word "Gehenna" is the Greek corruption of the Hebrew name for the Valley of Ge Hinnom, which lay just outside the walls of ancient Jerusalem and was used as a garbage dump. Waste of all kinds was frequently burned in the valley which also served as a pauper's grave for the bodies of criminals and dead animals. The stench and filth and flames came to be associated metaphorically and later more litterally with the name of the underworld.|
It's ironic that the valley serves today as a rather pleasant public park.
Carceri is the italian plural form of Carcere which means jail or dungeon. (Same latin root as the word incarcerate.) I assume the name used to replace Gygax's original name for the plane of Tarterus was taken from the works of Giovanni Battista Piranesi the 18th century italian artist famous for many intensely detailed architectural engravings of fantastic dungeons. Try googling the words Piranesi & Carceri to find links to his amazing art.
Despite the mythological origins of the names Carceri/Tarterus and Gehenna, they are really just names, and their origins in Earth's mythology are unimportant as long as they are used consistently within the context of the great wheel.
Yes, it would have probably been better had they not chosen names from Earth's mythology at all and rather created new names (such as Baator) or generic words (like the Abyss) so as not to evoke unintended connotations. To me Carceri does still unfortunately connote imprisonment and would suggest alignment closer to the law axis. But I am satisfied by Rip's explanation above and he has made me more comfortable with the names as used in planescape.
In fact Rip's desription of Carceri is so intriguing it's got my imagination flowing and left me wondering how I can work it in to my own campaign somehow.
|#10MephitJamesJul 06, 2004 16:19:56||I'm of the opinion that Carceri is fine as it is for two major reasons. The first is that the plane isn't so much of a prison as it is a sodding hard place to get out of. It's not ordered into cells and policed by guards, it's just a bunch of spheres that berks are sent to as punishment. The prisons of the baatezu, where they keep the lemures and other slaves, are examples of lawful evil prison locations: they are strict and ordered, every prisoner has their place. Carceri, on the other hand, is full of wretched bloods with no one to watch them. They just sort of simmer in their own crimes, without anyone watching them and without any order to the whole "prison." If anything it's a plane that bullies it's "prisoners" into staying put, a sort of of might-makes-imprisoned mentality.|
Also, planes are only loosely defined by their appearance, they're mostly defined by who lives there. You said it yourself, Gray, Carceri is the place where all the berks who've broken whatever code of laws is acceptable and are sent to the Prison to think about what they've done. They're therefore chaotic and evil because they maliciously break the law. A plane full of chaotic evil bashers equals a chaotic evil plane, pure and simple.
|#11gray_richardsonJul 06, 2004 19:03:14|
A plane full of chaotic evil bashers equals a chaotic evil plane, pure and simple.
That's a good point. You have convinced me!
Heck maybe time was it didn't start out over there. It could have been created as a prison plane back in the before time, in the long, long ago. But because it got filled up with chaotic evil inmates, the very force of their philosophical alignment slid the plane right across the ethical axis to where it resides today, butting right up against the Abyss.
Sounds good to me.
|#12MephitJamesJul 06, 2004 23:31:20||Definitely, Gray. I'm of the opinion that all the Outer Planes formed that way. Everything was neutral until knots of bashers started hanging out together and ripped away chunks like Plague-Mort to coallesce into planes. They're all pretty much the same, if you ask this mephit. I've seen water elementals flash to steam on Fire and magmins freeze to statues on Ice; I know the Inner Planes are opposing forces. The Outer Planes, though... modrons can swim through Limbo with only a few gopped joints to worry over. Hell's they do it regularly on that bloody march of theirs!|