The Iron Fist
The Abyss, also known as The Iron Fist, controls all the planes of darkness. The government system is a direct military dictatorship. However, for the most part, planes under the control of the Abyss are left to their own devices. As long as they continue to pay tribute and provide supplies for the Abyssal army, the government could care less what they do. There is no formal law code, as the Abyss follows the basic principle that "The strong control the weak." The only thing directly regulated by the Abyssal government is farming. Food production in the harsh environs of the Abyss and the Nexus is so difficult that without direct support of the military starvation is a serious issue.
- 1 Symbol
- 2 Planes Controlled
- 3 Relations with Neutrals
- 4 Economy
- 5 Cultural Notes
- 6 Military Might
- 7 History
The symbol most commonly associated with the Abyss is a clenched black fist on a red field. This symbol dates from the times that the Abyss was still controlled by Drow matriarchs, and is one of the reasons that the Abyss is often referred to as the "The Iron Fist." A representation of the flag is shown below.
Relations with Neutrals
Indigo is the only major plane that could be said to have good relations with the Abyss, though there is still some lingering resentment of actions taken by The Führer in the past. In general, neutral planes fear the Abyss and would prefer to not be taken over by them.
The Abyss has a very interesting economic set up that bears note. First, it should be mentioned that all transactions in the Abyss are typically conducted in the Abyssal credit. The credit exists only electronically, in the form of a credit card, which is controlled by the government.
The Abyssal government does need money. If they just took everything that they needed, there would be insufficient incentive for people to continue to produce such goods. However, the tax system accomplishes this in a round-about way. When the Abyss needs money for something, say, 300,000 credits for replacement suits of mail for an infantry unit, the request is sent to the tax computer. The tax computer contains a database of all citizens of the Abyss and its subsidiary planes, and any accounts with the Abyssal credit system by non-citizens. The computer randomly selects accounts and drains them completely until it reaches 300,000 credits. There are a very small number of exceptions. Some top-level members of government are able to place themselves on the special exemption list, as well as some other influential types.
As a result of this system, saving money in the Abyss is almost unheard of. As soon as someone receives a payment, they spend all of it. Inflation would be a problem except that the typical Abyssal can barely afford enough food and other basic essentials to continue living. "Rich" citizens that are unable to have themselves placed on the exception list usually invest in goods, such as expensive furniture, weapons, large blocks of gold, jewelry, etc, or into capital goods and land.
Among cultures that have been long dominated by the Iron Fist, there are several common trends.
Morality in the Iron Fist can be summarized as a pure meritocracy: one must earn everything they are given. Any favor or benefit should be the result of extreme industriousness, and any wrongdoing is punished appropriately.
Thus an action can be considered moral or immoral based on whether or not the person being acted upon did something to earn their treatment. Or, alternatively, whether the person didn't do something to prevent their treatment.
- If a person fears for their own life and so increases the pay of their guards, that person has committed an immoral act: the guard is being paid more for doing an inferior job.
- If a woman walks alone at night, it is moral for a man to force himself upon her: she should have a method to prevent the assault. If she does and the man is killed or mutilated, the man is considered to have deserved it, and the woman committed no infraction (and may be seen in a positive light).
- A teacher sees that his student is struggling so volunteers some helpful advice. The teacher is considered a poor teacher: he should let the ones who struggle fail and focus on those who take their own initiative and approach him with questions.
- A woman is offered a promotion but she does not feel she deserves it, so she turns it down. She is thought of very highly, whereas her superior loses respect for picking an inapropriate candidate.
- A man steals money from his workplace, isn't caught, and brags about it to his friends. His friends think highly of him for his skillful theft, and then promptly turn him in for a reward: he should know better than to brag.
An important part of a moral person in the Iron Fist relies on initiative. If a person's superior is not vetting out proper rewards, then it is up to that person to take the initiative and try to undermine his superior so that he can be replaced. It is quite common for inferiors to watch their superior carefully for errors, then report such errors to his superior. Elaborate fabricated evidence, setting up your superior to fail, and, less frequently, assassination are all also culturally accepted methods of deposing the person above you so you advance.
Therefore many people in the Iron Fist, out of a healthy sense of self-preservation, will find a way to promote ambitious underlings. This is considered proper. Some people purposefully cripple or kill their ambitious underlings. This too is considered proper.
To the eyes of someone from The Golden Sun, the bizantine intrigue of an Iron Fist workplace is terrifying. Citizens of the Iron Fist are used to it, and think they're stronger for it. After all, everyone is getting what they deserve.
The worship of any god besides the Dark Crystal is forbidden in the Iron Fist. Military officials are frequently instructed to brutally crush any "cults" they find. Even so, all the gods are worshiped in The Iron Fist, though some are more popular than others.
War worshipers are the most common in the empire at large. Iron Fist culture is normally prone to fierce competition as well as outright fighting, making a fertile bed for converts to War.
Somewhat surprisingly, the King of Fire Elementals is among the most common of the gods worshiped in the Iron Fist, especially in theAbyss. One of the goals of the King of Fire is to make planes more hospitable to fire elements. In the case of the Abyss, this means warming the place up a bit. Almost all of Abyssal residents are intensely in favor of this. Prayers of "Oh please, king of fire, make my fire actually hot" are commonly whispered out of earshot of the local military presence.
The drow in exile on the Abyss particularly favor the King of Fire. Many matriarchs view making their environment more hospitable in exchange for burning people and things as a very beneficial exchange. Drow clans with an excess of slave labor often forbid the enslavement of elementals for the explicit reason of garnering the favor of the King of Fire. Ritual sacrifices involving the burning of wizards who abused elementals alive as a sacrifice to the King of Fire are not unheard of.
As previously mentioned, the government of the Abyss is completely controlled by the military. However, since the Abyss doesn't exercise much regulatory control on planes it controls, the administration of a plane is usually handled by a small detachment in charge of maintaining the local tax computer, and the farmer's union. Other than this, the military's administrative efforts are focused on the organizational and logistical efforts required to run a large military.
The military in the Abyss is organized in a cell structure. Each member only knows those that are in his unit, their immediate superior, and their immediate subordinates. This system offers excellent control for Bael, and prevents large groups from rising up and attempting a military coup. The system is also designed to resist information gathering efforts by Solarin agents using truth spells.
The key quality that the Abyss typically uses to their advantage against Solaris is quantity. They will usually have a much greater number of troops in the field, and rely greatly on overwhelming the opposition with sheer numbers. This doesn't mean that they don't use strategy and tactics, but any given unit of Abyssal soldiers is likely to be inferiorly equipped and trained in comparison to their Solarin opposite, while retaining a significant numerical advantage.
The key to the Abyss's military might lies with its army, specifically, the vast number of light and medium infantry units that it controls. These units consist mostly of human "grunts" equipped with the barest minimum of Shlén-hide armor and weaponry. Typically, each battalion will have a low to medium strength wizard assigned to it to protect the troops from their Solarin counterparts. The army also possesses a large number of heavy infantry units. These consist of better-equipped soldiers with much more training and discipline. The army has a number of other special units:
Heavy Orc Infantry
One of the exceptions to the general rule of quantity over quality, the orc infantry units under the control of the Abyss are feared for their brutality and effectiveness. Orcs are so physically powerful and robust in comparison to most other races that the fact that they are often using clubs and rocks is more than made up for. Their key drawback is that orcs are often subject to bloodlust and are difficult to control. There are not very many full size units of Orcs since they tend to suffer very high casualties.
Ogre Attack Squads
A very small number of orcs with the knowledge of Ogre herding have come into the service of the Abyss over the years. They use their skills to direct the actions of small numbers of ogres in battle. However, ogres are so violent and brutal that the only way they can be stopped once they are unleashed is to slay them. They also tend to attack friendly units.
Goblins serve as the Abyss's combat engineers. The typical unit breakdown is a supervising officer, a detachment of human or orc grunts for defense, and a large number of lightly armored goblin workers.
The Abyss often has to deal with flying opponents. Archers require too much training, so there are usually some crossbows distributed to each unit. Certain members of an infantry group will be the unit's designated crossbowmen. There are a small number of dedicated units whose only task is to provide support with crossbows.
The Damned is a collection of undead forces operated by most of the Abyss's necromancers. The numbers in this special unit vary widely from an enormous horde to a small contingent of zombies, depending on recent engagements and corpse availability. This unit usually works at night since dark magic undead operate most effectively in the dark. However, a night strike by The Damned has often been the turning point of a battle.
The Abyss has access to the finest in techno-wizardry based flying tanks from Indigo. These vehicles are very fast and powerful, and their pilots are atypically trained (that is, they are given a great deal of training) in their use. Unfortunately for the Abyss, these tanks are very expensive to build and operate. Consequently, they have a small number of them (only a few hundred).
The Abyss's navy was developed rapidly to counter Solaris's use of naval vessels at the beginning of the Abyssal War. The pressure of the oncoming Solarin attacks meant that not much time could be devoted to experimentation and research for vessels. Early navy ships were simply small shells enclosing large bombs piloted by goblins into attacking Solaris battleships.
Since then, the Abyss has had ample time to build a navy consisting of proper flying attack vessels. The defense spell primarily available to dark wizards is Void, which offers very incomplete protection when compared to Wall and Reflect. Because of all this, smaller more maneuverable ships are the best choice for the Abyssal navy. The Abyss possesses very few ships larger than 20 feet in length since they rely on evasion over absorption. Since to survive combat Abyssal ships must be small, Abyssal design methodology is focused mostly on firepower. A small Abyss ship will usually have the same attacking power as a Solarin ship many times its size, since little or no power is allotted for defense.
More recently, the Abyss has been working on a system to gain better parity with Solaris's battleships in the field. Void has a 50% chance of blocking any given attack, but there is no physical limit to the number of layers of void that can be placed in the way of an attack. To provide effective protection, many layers are needed. Most Abyssal ships do not have the power systems to handle more than one layer of void. Recently systems have been designed with the required power levels to project multiple layers (up to 10) of void in addition to the heavy weapons requirements. These ships are much larger (approaching the size of a Solarin destroyer) than traditional Abyss ship, and so far, only one (Bael's flagship) has been completed.
The Special Forces embodies a large number of specialty units. It is an umbrella containing all of the Abyss's most elite units. Most magic users of greater than moderate power are recruited into one branch or another of the Special Forces. Special task forces are usually assembled from combinations of specialties to perform a specific task or carry out a high-risk strike. The Special Forces operates under the most rigorous form of the 'pyramid' organization described previously.
The Knights consists of all of the Abyss's Hellforge Knights that survive training in the Dark School Of Magic. The typical Knight is physically very powerful with low to medium magical power. They are the Abyss's elite heavy infantry. Hellforge Knights will sometimes operate without support from other specialties.
Unlike the weaker wizards assigned to be battalion wizards in the army, or operating wizards in the navy, Special Forces wizards are much more powerful. They also typically have taken some advanced study and chosen a specialty.
A small number of human and drow archers comprise this branch of the Special Forces. They have trained extensively with their bows and use small amounts of magic to augment their skills and produce various effects like explosive or poison arrows.
When Evil dragons were still around, they would sometimes allow their shed skin to be made into armor. This armor was specially treated to be almost indestructible in addition to the magic resist that it grants the wearer. A dozen of these suits still exist. Each Abyss Dragoon wears one of these suits and is equipped with a Dragon Lance made from Evil dragon fangs. They use magic to accelerate themselves through the air at very high velocities and slam into their targets from above.
Contained within the Dark School of Magic is the Dojo of the ninja. Here students learn to infuse monk skills with dark magic and become ninja. Ninja are feared throughout the planar system for their abilities. Some monks serving the Abyss choose to pursue a more traditional monk training regimen, but most choose to become ninja so very few normal monks are available. Ninja will seldom work with other specialties.
The most advanced ninja are recruited into the palace guard. Their sole duty is to protect Bael, though they are sometimes released on special assignment. Palace guards have advanced to the point that they are no longer considered wholly human (if they started out human). They are also special in that they are a ninja-hellforge knight hybrid. They all wear a cape made out of very fine fibers with razor edges that they use for concealment and shredding their opponents.
The Abyss's intelligence service is the only area where the Abyss is unquestionably superior to their Solarin equivalent. The Abyss has no trouble finding agents willing to use the most unscrupulous and evil tactics to gather information from their enemies. They also have access to ninja, who are able to sneak into even the most secure installations and steal documents, or observe secret meetings.
The Abyss uses information gathered by ninja to help determine what key officials they might be able to compromise. They will attempt to bribe these officials, and sometimes even go so far as to do things like kidnapping their families and holding them ransom. They use these bought officials to aid them in inserting undercover operatives into the ranks of Solarin agencies, including even relatively high ranked positions in the military. These deep cover agents will lay in wait for years before acting to totally screw over important Solarin missions.
The hardest thing for Abyssal agents to avoid are the routine Truth spell tests conducted on officials and military officers. Several techniques exist to counter the effects of the truth spell, but none of them are 100% fool-proof. Through this method, Solaris captures many agents and uncovers a fair amount of plots.
Creation to Present (dates are approximate)
- The Mythos High Council takes over the government from the Dark Crystal, appointing the eldest of their number Emperor.
- The Drugor are enslaved.
- The Nexus is discovered and conquered. The Drow are forced into slavery under the Mythos.
- Numerous minor planes, including the home plane of most of the Orcs and Goblins are found and conquered. Inhabitants are enslaved.
- Earth is discovered.
- The Earth War begins.
- Resources of both sides are depleted, and a 'ceasefire' is agreed on.
- The Abyss violates the ceasefire.
- The Second Earth War begins.
- The Abyss pushes Solarin forces off Earth and attacks Solaris.
- Dragons appear on Earth. Dark dragons attack everything; light dragons attack only dark dragons and the Mythos.
- The First Dragon War begins. (The Second Earth War became this)
- Aether magic is discovered and employed by both sides.
- Both sides are nearly annihilated.
- The Earth Treaty and Ultima Ban pacts are signed. The Abyss has continued to honor both these treaties.
- Intense destruction on both sides results in a dark age. Civilization slides back considerably.
- Indigo is discovered.
- The Abyss attacks Indigo.
- The mages make contact with the Abyss through the Nexus. The Mythos' racial feud with the mages begins.
- The Abyss attacks Gond.
- Solaris appears on Indigo and forces the Abyss to focus on Indigo.
- The Abyss is repelled from Gond by the newly formed Oligarchy of Gond.
- The Abyss is repelled from Indigo. The bugrom are pleased.
- The bugrom give the location of the Nexus to Solaris.
- The 3000 Year War begins. Solaris attacks the Nexus.
- The Mythos, fed up with running the Abyss, abdicate the throne.
- The drow clans fight each other for control.
- The first drow matriarch becomes Empress after a terrible, many-sided civil war. The Empress officially names the Empire for the first time (The Mythos weren't big on names). It is called The Iron Fist after the name of her clan (which incidentally had gained control of the Legendary Weapon of the same name).
- Starting now there is a period of great turmoil in the Abyss. There is constant plotting and intrigue within the palace. The Empress is assassinated and replaced many times.
- Even while being attacked mercilessly on their 'home' ground, the drow continue to feud. During this time, there are 173 Empresses. None die a natural death. Failed plots on the throne usually result in entire clans of drow being executed. It is unknown exactly how many times this occurred, but at least 23 drow clans were destroyed. All the while, the army is consistently losing ground in the Nexus.
- The drow general, Greis, leads an unsuccessful military coup. Her unit of the army is executed, as well as her clan. Solaris gains a lot of ground in the Nexus.
- The great human general, Dredthan, leads a successful military coup and crowns himself Emperor. Dredthan is the only full human in the history of the Abyss to become Emperor.
- Using weapons purchased from Gond, Dredthan is able to push the Solarin army completely off the Nexus for the first time in 3360 years.
- Dredthan agrees to a ceasefire, marking the end to the 3000 years war.
- The Dark School of Magic is founded.
- An aging Dredthan is assassinated and a drow matriarch takes his place.
- The relative peace enforced by Dredthan's regime is shattered, and the drow fighting for the throne resumes.
- Some new minor planes are added, and occasional raids on Indigo are launched, but for the most part the Abyss's resources are spent on in-fighting. There are nine Empresses in this time period.
- King Lothander The First of Solaris leads an all out assault on the Nexus.
- The Abyssal War begins
- The Solarin military makes the first use of naval vessels.
- The Nexus falls to Lothander.
- The siege of the Abyss begins.
- A powerful group of wizards summon the Demon Lord Bael. One of the wizards is possessed by the demon.
- The Lord Bael assassinates the drow matriarch and proclaims himself Emperor.
- Bael rallies the tattered Abyssal forces and forces Solaris out of the Abyss, and the Nexus.
- Bael agrees to a ceasefire, marking the end of the Abyssal War.
- Bael must reorder Abyssal society and get the drow to stop killing each other so much.
- The credit system is implemented in its earliest form.
- The farmers' union is created.
- Bael engineers the creation of the first Reich and installs the Führer as leader in Indigo.
- The Führer begins the slaughter of all bugrom, with the secret aid of the Abyss.
- The Führer takes full control of Indigo, the Reich becomes known as Indigo.
- Solaris declares war on the Führer.
- The Second Dragon War begins.
- Gond refuses troop passage to Solaris, but grants it to the Abyss.
- Dragons are integrated into both sides' armies. Clashes between dragons often result in massive collateral damage and enormous casualties.
- The armies of both the Abyss and Solaris are shattered and cannot continue the war.
- The Second Dragon War ends.
- A new dark age results from the destruction and loss of life and industry.
- The Führer, now unopposed, continues the slaughter of bugrom.
- The Führer completes the near extermination of Bugrom and begins the conversion of Indigo into its modern form.
- There is a relative peace as most planes are too devastated to do anything.
- Bael attacks Almazan through Gond.
- The Last Dragon War begins.
- The light dragons, disgusted with the destruction caused by their fighting, retreat to their plane and seal themselves there.
- The dark dragons run rampant, seeking a challenging fight.
- The dark dragons break the treaty of Earth and use Earth's portal to attack Solaris directly.
- King Lothander the 1st single handedly repels assaults by dragons over and over again, but is eventually slain.
- The dark dragons, having destroyed most of Solaris and its greatest champion, become bored. They leave to their own plane and seal themselves in, vowing to return should the light dragons return.
- This marks the end of the Last Dragon War.
- There is an uneasy peace between the Abyss and Solaris.
- Just as the Abyss is prepared to assault the weakened Solaris, the Führer betrays Bael in an attempt to snap up Solarin domains for himself.
- Indigo conquers many minor planes surrounding it that formerly belonged to Solaris and the Abyss.
- The loss of Indigan support hampers the Abyss's effort to conquer most of the planar system, but many neutral minor planes begin falling.
- Pallis leaves the Golden Sun and declares itself neutral.
- Lord Mael appears on Almazan and takes it over. He renames the plane after himself and declares it to be neutral. He sets up a communist type economic system.
- Wizards discover that the Grey in fact has more portals than Khoel. Khoel's status diminishes and the Grey is upgraded to a major plane.
- Gond is mysteriously destroyed. All portals to Gond stop working, and the portal on the Nexus that used to go there now leads to Mael.
- The Abyss blames Solaris and vice versa. The mages remain silent as to the cause of the disaster.
- The Scion Corps is founded on Indigo and quickly becomes the major transporter of people throughout the planes.
- The Bloody War begins. All out war rages throughout the planar system. Mael, Indigo, and Pallis attempt to remain neutral but are largely powerless to stop the major powers from forcing their way through.
- Bael quickly conquers all the planes of the former Oligarchy of Gond that can still be reached.
- Div'echs becomes the head of the School of Dark Magic in the Abyss.
- The Abyss declares war on Indigo and begins conquest of the Indigan controlled planes.
- Bael tires of the Indigan government's insolence and obstructionism. He arranges for the Führer to be assassinated and has a new one installed that favors him better. Indigo stops fighting back against the Abyss and grants them full troop passage, though not an outright alliance.
Bael leads and unsuccessful invasion of Mael. Lord Mael reluctantly grants Bael conditional troop passage.
The Abyss and Solaris fight to a stand still on Pallis, devastating much of the city before pulling out. Indigo's Führer once again refuses troop passage through Indigo proper, souring relations.
The Abyss and Solaris mysteriously declare a ceasefire.