The Far Realm of the Tarosir setting is vast, perhaps even larger than the Astral Plane, and it is filled with all sorts of strange, bizarre, and often twisted things. The Citadel of Eternity is sort of one such thing, but the most twisted aspect of it is how extremely normal it is. As you approach it in the Far Realm, the refreshing normality of it is sufficient to help allay the oppressive insanity-inducing effect of the deep Far Realm1. In contrast to the bizarre geometry and impossible structures of the normal Far Realm, the Citadel of Eternity is a very normal-looking castle set atop a perfectly ordinary grass-covered hill, but from outside it is a little blurred and indistinct, as though seen through a haze.
The Citadel of Eternity lies well beyond the point where ordinary mortals can travel without succumbing the the Far Realm’s corrupting influence. Without some kind of cheat, such as the Crystal Orb of Pure Thought, any mortal would inevitably be reduced to a gibbering pseudonatural wreck long before they got anywhere near the Citadel. The Citadel lies so deep within the Far Realm that magic does not even work – not mortal magic, not mythic magic, not even the divine power of the deities. Psionic powers and supernatural abilities are also blocked, though extraordinary abilities do continue to work. Its exact location is not well recorded, but most sources agree that it’s at least 17,000 miles from the inner border of the Far Realm, which is 100 miles beyond the point where divine powers of rank 20 cease to function.
The only magic that continues to function in the depths of the Far Realm around the Citadel of Eternity is the magic of Imagination – that is, the power of the creator, Cosmeon, or otherworldly beings like her (such as the Tuatha dé Danaan of Genesis: the Seven Pillars).
The Citadel of Eternity is actually a coterminous demiplane as well as a detached2 divine demesne. No-one knows how it was created way out in a place where even divine magic does not function; even the Great Planar Library of Mechanicus does not have any information on this topic. There are ancient, almost-forgotten legends that claim the citadel to be Cosmeon’s divine demesne.
Once you step across the boundary, your view of the tower instantly becomes sharp, and normal gravity takes hold, dragging you down to the grassy hillside. (The Far Realm normally has no gravity.) On the hillside, time seems to flow normally, though an hour here is equivalent to one year on the Material Plane. Sufficient light suffuses the space that any race can easily see, yet not enough that subterranean races will be dazzled by it. The light comes from no clear source; it’s simply there.
Though the hill is mainly covered in grass, around the back of the castle you can find some fruit trees and other edible plant life. Using these, you could probably live here for a period of time, if you were so inclined. There is no way to build a shelter, but you don’t really need it anyway - the weather never changes here.
The castle itself has countless towers, and the single entrance lies about halfway up the castle, with a long stairway leading up to it. Each tower is a little different, but not in the grating way that Far Realm geometry is. From outside, there is nothing untoward about the castle.
The stairs are wide enough for ten humans to walk abreast, and each step is itself large enough for a member of any of the giant races to stand on it. They start at the side of the castle and wind around to the front, meaning that you cannot see both ends of the stairway at the same time.
The moment you set foot upon the bottom step, time and space become linked. You can no longer turn back, and time moves forward only when you move upward. As long as you remain on the same step, however, you can wait for other party members to join you from the previous step (or if you’re on the bottom step, others from the hill), as long as they don’t dawdle too much – there is very a brief window in which they can join you, after which they are effectively time-frozen from your perspective.
There is a strange time dilation effect over the entire stairway. In the time it takes for you to climb ten steps upwards, anyone who began on the step below you can only progress by a single step. As a result, the only way for a group to enter the Citadel together is to climb in tandem, which from the width of the stairway might seem to limit it to ten humans (more if some belong to smaller races, such as hobbits or gnomes).
However, there is a second complication limiting this even further. You leave the Citadel at the exact same moment that you set foot upon the bottom step. As a result of this time-twisting, you need to pass yourself halfway up the stairs. Thus, if you are all human, you can only fit about five through together, maybe six if you’re careful. You will never end up on the same step as your future counterpart – at the same moment you step up onto their step, they step down onto the step you just vacated.
Due to the time dilation effect, you cannot communicate verbally, visually (ie, via sign language), or telepathically with anyone on a different step from you. The only possible way to communicate would be to leave a written note on your step that they can then pick up when they reach that step. This also means that you cannot communicate with anyone ahead of you travelling in the same direction.
Sometimes, however, you will not pass yourself on the way up. If this happens, you can never leave the Citadel through the front door; it will be barred to you. If you’re in a party, it’s also possible to pass just a subset of your party on the way up, in which case only those you passed can pass back through the front door and leave the Citadel. If this happens, it could mean one of two things – either someone died while in the Citadel (which is unlikely, as it could only be from unnatural causes), or they found a different way out.
If you somehow fall off the edge of the stairs on the way up before rounding the corner and seeing your future self, you will fall to the ground below and can try again. After you’ve seen your future self, there is an invisible barrier preventing you from falling off, and when you’re descending the stairs, this barrier is still in effect until you’ve passed your past self. Viewed from the hillside, the stairs are always empty; even if you fall off, once you’re off the stairs, you can no longer see any companions who were on the same step as you. Even if they jumped off to join you, they would not appear until another hour or two had passed.
Once you enter the Citadel itself, time stands still. This inner portion of the demiplane has the timeless trait, meaning that no time passes no matter how long you stay there - you will never grow hungry, thirsty, or tired, and you will not age; however, if you are afflicted by anything like poison or disease, it will continue to take effect, and natural healing will also continue to work normally.
The interior also has the dead magic trait, meaning that mortal magic does not work, though mythic magic or low-ranking divine power has a chance to succeed, and high-ranking divine powers (above rank 15) work normally.
The Citadel of Eternity is filled with thousands upon thousands of crystal balls, magic mirrors, still pools, sacred flames, and other scrying devices. Each device is labelled in tiny writing in the Old Eternal language, which uses a complex cuneiform script.
Each of the countless scrying devices in the Citadel shows a specific area of a specific plane during a specific time period. The devices normally flash through notable scenes of that time and place, eventually looping back around. Since there are so many scrying devices, it’s very likely that, given enough searching, anyone who visits the Citadel of Eternity will find some that show familiar places, whether it be due to personal experience, heroic tales, or ancient myths. However, some of the devices also show time periods that the viewer would describe as possible futures. It is also possible to take some measure of control over a device, pointing it to a specific time and place within its assigned area and period. The method of doing this depends on the form of the device.
The Central Chamber
Not far from the main entrance hall, just down one flight of steps leading inward, there is a single large chamber that does not contain any scrying devices. Instead, it holds only a massive, ancient black portal and, next to it, a black monolith covered in writing in the Old Eternal language. To those that can read it, the writing describes how to operate the portal device.
Using the black monolith3, it is possible to connect the portal to any imaginable time and place within the world of Tarosir - the past, present, and future are all equally accessible. Once a destination is input on the monolith, the portal can be activated, and you can pass through it to the chosen destination. If the coordinates entered on the monolith are invalid, as they are when you first enter the Citadel, then the portal will not open. Unless you can read the Old Eternal inscriptions, the best you can do is to enter random coordinates and hope one of them works. Of course, this has risks too – in particular, if you’re not careful in activating the portal, it might suck you through rather than allowing you to step through at your own leisure.
The Citadel’s portal punches through any and all magical effects intended to prevent teleportation (for example, the Dimensional Lock spell) - even divine power cannot prevent a person from taking the portal to the time and place they desire, though if you exit into a deity’s devine demesne, they could instantly expel you to the border. The portal is one-way - once you pass through, there is no return. The teleportation cannot be detected by any non-divine means at the destination point, and even divine means can only detect it once someone’s in the process of passing through.
It’s also possible to jam up the portal4 and prevent it from functioning. Of course, in principle this can also be undone5, but if the party does not have the skill to do it, then they will be unable to use the portal and will have to leave by the door. However, by the time the next people enter the citadel, even if they were travelling directly behind the previous set, the portal will already be reset to normal functioning status, with any entered coordinates cleared.
The Deep Dungeon
If you work your way down from the entrance of the Citadel, taking stairs downwards into the depths, eventually you will come upon one other room that is empty of scrying devices. There is writing in Old Eternal on the door; if you can read it, it’s a warning not to enter. If you enter anyway, you find a small, bare room with another black monolith in the centre. This monolith is covered in arcane runes, similar to the Fuþark writing used by the dwarves, but they do not represent any known language. There is also some writing on the wall in Old Eternal.
This monolith is in fact one of several keys to the seal on Morgoth’s prison that are scattered around the world. Unless you know the sequence of incantations to unlock it, there is no chance of accidentally weakening the seal; incantations in all of the planer languages are required to unlock it, and any mistake, even just a mispronunciation, requires starting over from the beginning. And even if you did unlock it, that does not mean Morgoth could escape – all the other keys would need to be unlocked too, each in a different way. Furthermore, even if all the keys were unlocked and the seal released, the prison itself is also deep in the Far Realm where no divine powers function, and nowhere near the Citadel of Eternity; so even if Morgoth attempted to take advantage of the released seal, he would still need to traverse many miles of the hostile Far Realms while susceptible to its corrupting effects.
The Old Eternal Language
Throughout the Citadel of Eternity, you can find writing in the Old Eternal language, a language which is long extinct. Though the Eternal language is still extant and is spoken by neutral outsiders and used by many neutral clerics for their incantations, Old Eternal is not comprehensible to even a fluent speaker of Eternal. At most, someone fluent in Eternal would be able to pick out a few words here and there. They do both use the same cuneiform writing system, which helps.
Since there is no limit to how long you may stay in the Citadel of Eternity, it is possible to work at deciphering the language from first principles6 – even lacking any knowledge of Eternal, though such knowledge would help. The scrying devices can greatly help with this – if you take the time to examine many of them and compare the scenes they depict to their textual labels, this can be a great help in deciphering the script7.
Of course, if you already know the Old Eternal language for some reason, then you would be able to read all the labels without any difficulty. There is still a problem with this, however. First of all, there are almost no references to the Old Eternal language in any known writings, even in the Great Library of Mechanicus; while you might be able to find a few references there or even some fragments of actual text, it won’t be enough to learn the language. The other problem is that, most likely, you will have no idea that you might need the language until you actually end up in the Citadel. While the overdeities of Tarosir do know the Old Eternal language, and it might be possible to convince one of them to teach you, once you’re in the Citadel, no magic works, and thus deities cannot be contacted. The only exception is Cosmeon, of course, but she rarely responds to contact.
The Citadel of Eternity has the following planar traits:
- Gravity: Normal
- Time: Timeless and Flowing
- Within the castle itself, the timeless trait holds and no time passes.
- Outside the castle, one hour is equivalent to one year in the Material Plane
- The boundary between the two (the stairway) is fuzzy; see text for details
- Shape and Size: Finite bounded
- Morphicity: Alterable
- Affinities: No elemental or energy traits
- Alignment: Mildly neutral-aligned
- Magic: Dead
Any alterations to anything within the Citadel (except the key to Morgoth’s seal) will persist only as long as a given group of people remain within the Citadel; once they leave, the alterations are immediately undone, allowing the next group to always come to a pristine Citadel. However, any items left behind will remain there to be found by the next group.
As long as you are in sight of the Citadel of Eternity (and close enough to identify it as a castle), you get a +5 circumstance bonus to Will checks to resist the Far Realm’s insanity. You do not get any bonus on the Fortitude checks to avoid becoming pseudonatural, however. ↩
Detached here means it’s not directly associated with any specific deity – whatever deity created it has detached themselves from it and probably moved on to build a new demesne elsewhere. ↩
Using the portal requires two checks – one to enter the coordinates on the monolith, the other to activate the portal. Both can be accomplished by succeeding on either a DC 60 Use Magic Device check or a DC 40 Spellcraft check. You get a +5 circumstance bonus on both checks if you’re able to read the writing on the monolith. Failure at the monolith simply results in the portal not opening, usually because the coordinates were invalid or incomplete. Failure at the portal has no effect if the coordinates are invalid; however, if you have managed to enter valid coordinates but then fail by less than 10 on activating the portal, it will momentarily activate and suck through the person who activated it and anyone within 20 feet, then shut down again. ↩
This requires a DC 70 Disable Device check and a DC 40 Spellcraft check. ↩
A DC 50 Spellcraft check allows you to undo any tampering with the portal. ↩
You can attempt a DC 70 Decipher Script check to get a clue to the meaning of any Old Eternal inscription. Fluency (and literacy) in Eternal grants you a +15 circumstance bonus on the check; a cleric who knows the language as their automatic class language only gets a +10 circumstance bonus. Knowledge of Eternal also allows you to get more than just a clue if you pass the test, while on failure you get the clue that someone with no knowledge of Eternal would have gotten on a successful check. ↩
If you examine 100 devices, of which no more than 5 can be depictions of futures, and succeed on a DC 30 Knowledge check for each one, you can begin to decipher the script more easily. The Knowledge check may be for history, geography, or the planes, depending on the time and place depicted in each scrying device; in other words, it’s best if you have knowledge of all three subjects. Once you’ve succeeded on the check for 100 devices, success on a DC 30 Decipher Script check allows you to understand the writings – you can now read and write Old Eternal, though you cannot speak or understand it when spoken. Any knowledge of Eternal grants a +10 circumstance bonus on this check. If you fail, you’ll need to start over with 100 different devices. The writing in the dungeon and the central portal chamber cannot aid in the deciphering. ↩