The Stone Doorway
Ancient HistoryLong ago, there was a race called Nergy , little lizard beings about 3 feet tall. They were amazingly advanced from a technological standpoint, and had more money and power than common sense. They were also under a curse, or perhaps a genetic predisposition depending on your viewpoint. They would utterly destroy themselves every aeon or so, leaving only a handful to survive and rebuild society. They would then re-advance their civilization to its prior glory, only to have the cycle repeat itself.
Several millenia ago, the Nergys took it upon themselves to build a petting zoo. A really big petting zoo. So they designed a world that was actually a ring of solid matter around a sun, with an atmosphere. They convinced a hivemind of ant-creatures (later called Sand-kings) that it’d be a great idea to build it using Nergys technology, leveraging the Sand-kings’ civil warlike tendencies by threatening to give rival colony queens the technology and leaving the others bereft. Construction of the petting zoo would mean destroying the Sand-kings’ home planet and other planets in the solar system for use as raw materials – and even “importing” planets from other solar system for this! – but the Sand-kings were pressed into service.
The ring-world has the approximate surface area of 6.3×10^8 Earth-sized planets. It can be “flown” using its magnetic field and the gravitational pull of the sun, and it can also pull plumes of gas from the sun to be focused into a precise weapon – all without disturbing any life forms on the surface. The Sand-kings also used the Nergys’ teleportation technology to open gates to other worlds, for the purpose of importing all the exotic creatures the Nergys wished to house on this “petting zoo”.
All went relatively smoothly…until the Sand-kings decided they weren’t inclined to simply hand over control of this immense world THEY had just created. All the colony queens, having been convinced to work in concert instead of fighting amongst themselves, realized that the Nergys were no match for them in military prowess – especially since this vast world they had just built was also an equally vast BATTLESHIP. The Nergys had a vast empire at this point, and cession of a mere petting zoo might seem an obvious choice to other races, but the Nergys refused to accept the loss of “face” that would come with it, and they devoted all their imperial resources to winning back the ring-world from the Sand-kings.
So the Nergys built another planet. This planet had 516 discrete layers of impenetrable material – not unlike an onion, but with living space on the “insides” of each layer. The material was impenetrable because it is literally stretched atomic bonds. A small black hole resided in the center to provide things like gravity and magnetic forces and other types of power. They put a generally terraformed surface on the top, then went back to the Sand-kings with floriloquent words of defeat, and “begged” the Sand-kings for permission to bring this new world (Tuteck) into orbit just outside the ring-world. In this way, they said, they and their children could still behold the magnificence of the Sand-kings’ work.
And the Sand-kings bought it.
Unbeknownst to the ant-creatures, the 516 inner layers of Tuteck were actually factories, cranking out large ships and implements of war. After a time of “laying low” building up defenses, the Nergys chose their moment to strike.
The other thing that Tuteck as a planet was able to do was generate “worm-holes” – even one large enough for both Tuteck AND the ring-world to pass through. And the first thing the Nergys did was immediately generate such a thing, moving the ring-world to someplace that could not be easily found by Sand-king allies. The Sand-kings, figuring it was merely a single planet, decide to blast it with the gas-plume “laser” they’ve built into the ring-world. They destroyed the terraformed outer surface, but not the 516 layers inside.
Then the war began.
Then, a frighteningly short time later, the war was over – because everyone, Nergys and Sand-king alike, was dead. The only things that could remotely could have considered to have “survived” were some biologically-engineered weapons that had evolved/mutated to the point of being able to breed independent of outside intervention.
There are rumors of surviving Nergys, though the odds of three surviving in sufficient proximity to find each other and mate are slim. There were also a few Sand-king eggs that later hatched, but without any surviving colony queens from whom to inherit any memory of the war, the new batch of Sand-kings simply went on to their old lives of building small colonies and fighting with other queens.
The real fun lies in the fact that the Nergys teleportation gates still functioned on the ring-world even after the great War. In the aeons since then, plenty of interesting creatures wandered in by chance or choice, and chose to stay.
Modern TuteckModern Tuteck is a remainder of the last time that the ring-world’s “laser” was actually fired on anything. The civilization of 1000 years ago, called the Imperium, was very advanced in both technology and magic, and was led by a powerful necromancer who called herself Ms. Tuteck. Some of Ms. Tuteck’s lich-king viziers began rebelling against her. Aghast that the lich-kings did not adequately respect death, Ms. Tuteck then merged herself with the planet, and used that connection to activate the ring-world’s “laser” in order to “teach them a lesson”. Naturally, she now regrets her tremendously rash decision.
The outer surface of Tuteck is now ruled by a coalition led by Sherilyn, known to some as the Childless Queen. Much of Tuteck’s surface is desert-like, and its technological level is roughly that of the Middle Ages. The planet is still reeling from the biological devastation that Ms. Tuteck leveled against it.
There used to be trade/commerce among the different levels of Tuteck, and between Tuteck and the ring-world, but this is no more because the different civilizations simply do not possess the means to reach each other at this time. None of the gates had been built with the intent of trade transportation – many of them were one-way devices to “capture” creatures who blundered through. Even those which allowed for two-way travel led to worlds far away from both Tuteck and the ring-world, and most of them were turned off before the End of the Imperium. The only known exception is one two-way gate found on Champion Island, which leads to the Arbor of the Tree of Life.
The plant life remaining on Tuteck is exceptionally hardy, and some specimens have taken the notion of survival to a new extreme, becoming predatory creatures. While there are still plenty of beasts (and no small number of humans) who blundered in through some of the one-way gates, many of the currently extant lifeforms evolved from pets that had been saved from the Imperium. The dwarves survived because they hid away in the deepest layers of the planet. Jack, the god of the Callix, also survived because he was in fact indestructible.
Topographical maps of Tuteck show land masses on only one hemisphere – this is because the laser struck the other hemisphere. The largest such land mass is only about the size of India on modern-day earth; there are two others not much larger than Greenland, and many are merely oversized islands. The soil on these islands is similar to what is found on volcanic islands on modern-day Earth, but there are no actual volcanoes – it’s a consequence of the laser.
Because the geological material only ran a mile deep, and then a significant chunk was obliterated, metal is exceedingly rare. Currency usually takes the form of glass, as do many of the tools and other implements used on Tuteck. The Star Sisters, elves of some renown, are particularly known for their glass swords.