I considered not writing this post at all and leaving aspects of Weirworld somewhat mysterious. Specifically the origins of His Radiant Highnes, Burden and the gate to madness Herrick opened. That said, I reconsidered. Having the full story allows a game master to manipulate their plots with a sense of organization and consistency if they know the true motivations behind the powerful forces at work. To be clear, this post is a massive spoiler for Weirworld and I suggest that players stop reading here. You are warned.
Of all the things in The Strange, planetovores exist on a continuum beyond comprehending of all other creatures. Less creature and more destructive forces of nature, these immortal, powerful entities haunt The Strange waiting for a naive society to ping the network and satisfy their endless hunger. Ravenous hunger does not encourage sharing among planetovores, so in rare instances these immensely powerful being wage war on each other.
One such war took place long ago, between two ancient beings. Dnarl, a foul cloud of pure energy and Xrt a sentient AI born of a crystal and steel. Both sought to devour a new civilization and neither would give ground. A war began that lasted centuries. Energies beyond comprehension burned worlds and damaged huge sections of The Strange. Finally, in a masterstroke of strategy, Xrt manifested a crystal that grew based on the psychic energy channeled into it and cast it into the cloud that was Dnarl. Dnarl assumed it was a weapon and attacked it with all his might. In a single instant a crystalline cage formed around the vastness of Dnarl, sealing him in forever. Though at the last moment, Dnarl lashed out with a primitive physical attack, chipping an ever so tiny bit of the crystal cage off and casting it into The Strange.
Xrt, victorious, moved on and left the defeated Dnarl trapped in a crystal cage. But Xrt was cautious and left a fragment of himself within the crystal matrix. This “Warden” had a single purpose; to keep Dnarl trapped for all time. Dnarl raged and battered against his cage, but only made it stronger for his efforts. Escape was impossible, but…the tiny crystal fragment floated through the void and finally impacted high in the mountains of an insignificant world named Krollis. There it lay as the geology raised a mountain around it and encased it deep in a glacier.
Here is where Herrick found it and began using its power. Godlight is in fact the residual energy Dnarl unwittingly used during his prison’s creation. Every time someone uses Burden on Krollis they are pulling a tiny, insignificant portion of that energy from the prison and dispersing it. The Warden of Dnarl’s prison did not notice the drain as the cage was immense and powerful. It would be like a human noticing an ant stealing a grain of sugar from a pile the size of Mount Everest. Until the day Herrick completed his tower and Dnarl sensed his opportunity. As the Emperor raised his city into the sky, Dnarl struck, pouring all of his energy into the tiny, fragile point that was the tower, far from the Warden and the reinforcing energies of the full crystal prison, Dnarl cracked his cage so very slightly and poured himself on to Krollis.
The Warden, detecting the breach, collected his energies and followed Dnarl’s invasive miasma to the surface of Krollis. He (it?) arrived just as Zil and the Iwa began their final assault on the tower. As Zil approached the tower, the warden, in his true form of a glowing crystal of blue light arrived through the breach. The Warden is an AI of the highest order, so it quickly analyzed the situation. It needed to close the breach before more of Dnarl escaped. He destroyed the tower.
Zil and his brave Iwa charged across the field and died in the ensuing explosion. They never reached their goal or even understood what they were seeing. The Warden, however, had another problem. His solution, while effective, spread the crystal across the world and gathering it was impossible even for the powerful Warden. Local knowledge gathered from the dead minds of Zil and his companions provided a solution. The cage’s remnants would naturally gather in the bodies of sentients, drawn to their minimal psychic power. So the Warden formed a body from the corpses at his feet and His Radiant Highness strode Krollis for the first time and the slow process of gathering all the Burden and rebuilding Dnarl’s prison began.
Dnarl though would not be denied. Enough of his essence infested Krollis to work to free himself from his crystal cage. The Black Jungle is the physical manifestation of Dnarl, constantly attacking the High City working to defeat the Warden and his minions. This is just part of Dnarl’s plan because those that draw too much power from his cage (ie roll badly on their intellect check after using a cypher) risk touching Dnarl himself and becoming an instrument of his goals. Gatelords are pawns twisted by a dark power to defeat the Warden and use as much Godlight as possible. It is a race as each time someone uses Burden, Dnarl’s cage weakens slightly. The Warden knows this and discourages those outside the church from using this precious energy. That said, he knows that some Burden must be used or his minions will never defeat those that would help Dnarl escape. Gatelords.
This is the truth of Krollis. The villain is an unfathomable evil bent on escape aand devouring Krollis and the savior of Krollis is using the people for a means to an end. If exterminating Krollis would help the Warden’s cause, he would do so with no hesitation. There are no heroes on Krollis, save the dead.
This is the end of my Weirworld recursion posts and I hope you can make use of the ideas in your home campaign. Drop me a line if you have any questions or if you use any of this in your campaign.
Trask, The Last Tyromancer