The Flaying Tempest
The Flaying Tempest, sometimes called the Cyclone of Blades, the Knifestorm, Razorwind, and so on, is one of the many planes of the Abyss which doesn’t even pretend to mock the shape or form of the mortal world. It has no surface and no clear boundaries, and it is lit from everywhere and nowhere with a brilliant, almost blinding, glow. (Creatures with darkvision or low-light vision will suffer a -2 to Perception checks.) There is no gravity as such. There is only the wind.
And the knives.
Imagine a million, no, ten million, more, perhaps infinite, knives, swords, axes, daggers, arrowheads, all caught up in winds which could tear apart a castle or send the strongest dragon tumbling madly through the sky. Imagine no shelter or respite, no place to hide, no walls, no barricades, no shadows. That, in short, is the Flaying Tempest.
The origin of the Flaying Tempest is difficult to guess at. The most common speculation is that it is some sort of spiritual sinkhole not for real weapons, but for the idea of weapons, for the dreams of weapons. The Abyss is shaped largely by the nightmares and fears and dark convictions of the dwellers in the mortal world. Perhaps every blade which was ever used in an act of imagined cruelty is here, made partially manifest. Or perhaps this place is simply one more bit of chaos, existing because given enough time, everything which can exist, will.
There are other ideas, though. One such is that those sages who study the Abyss, despite often being quite mad and inhuman, are still prone to thinking in very limited terms. Human, elf, dwarf, drow, mind flayer, or beholder, the scholars of the multiverse are often still locked into their own perspectives. It is possible, though not proven, that just as many abyssal layers serve as places of torment and punishment for some type of evil, so, too, does this place, but no one who has visited here has reported the usual trapped and screaming souls. Perhaps they’re looking in the wrong place.
Perhaps they ought to look at the blades.
While free-willed and sapient weapons are fairly rare, over tens of thousands of years and across uncounted worlds and realities, an awful lot of them have come into existence. Some use the trapped souls of mortal beings or demons, and those souls are freed to go where they must when the blade which holds them is destroyed. Some, though, have minds created solely for the blade, beings whose only mortal body is a knight’s sword, or an assassin’s dagger. When the sword shatters on a foe’s shield… when the dagger follows its wielder into a pit of acid… what happens, then, to the mind in the blade?
It’s hard to know for sure. It is possible, however, that the same kind of soul taint which drags the souls of organic beings into the countless realms of suffering that comprise the abyss might also have a grip on souls of metal. Among the whirling weapons, there may be spirits here, the ghosts of swords which loved the kill too much, weapons which cajoled, teased, and led their wielders to ever darker acts of depravity. Such things would spend forever here, unwielded, helpless, buffetted, battered, spun, and smashed, careening randomly as they are themselves cut, sliced, and shattered.
The Flaying Tempest is a definite backwater of the Abyss. A few attempts to "farm" it for useful weapons have failed; not only is the place hazardous to all but the strongest of demons, the weapons, once removed, crumble to black ash. As a prison, it is equally useless; a trapped soul may not be able to move on, but it will quickly be scooped up into the torrent of wind and whipped away, hard to retrieve and no fun to observe.
Survival in the Flaying Tempest is not easy. Anyone who begins a turn in the Flaying Tempest is exposed to the following:
Blades of Wind: Attack +30 vs. AC, 3d8+9 damage, and target takes 10 ongoing damage. (Save ends)
Special: It is not possible to save against the ongoing damage in the same turn that this attack hits.
Obviously, this makes any kind of rest impossible. Any craft used to travel in the Flaying Tempest must be able to resist the constant, ongoing, attacks. Something which has Resistance (Weapons) of 35 or greater is generally immune; anything less will be turn to pieces given sufficient time. Granted, craft of this nature can be manufactured at suitably high levels.
In addition to the weapons, there are the winds. Anyone who begins a turn in the Flaying Tempest is exposed to the following:
Howling Storms: Attack +28 vs. Reflex.
Hit: The target is slid 3d6 squares, -1 square for each point of Flight speed the character possesses.
Miss: The target is slid 1d4 squares, -1 square for each point of Flight speed the character possesses.
Using The Flaying Tempest
Obviously, this isn’t a vacation spot. Many of the motives for visiting other layers are lacking here, and tossing an unprepared party into this maelstrom isn’t an "interesting challenge", it’s just a quick TPK. Not that such ever used to be a problem — the original Manual Of The Planes was legendary for being filled with descriptions of places the PCs could probably not actually visit. Nonetheless, in the interests of making this article not entirely self-indulgent…
a)The souls of the greatest and most evil blades in history just may be whirling around in here. Anyone who can’t see the plot potential in that ought to consider another hobby. Given a shell of some adamantine/mithral hybrid and some sufficiently advanced magic, someone could manage to travel here long enough to locate such a thing.
b)Just because mass harvesting of the blades didn’t work, doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get some value. It may well be that some small percentage of the weapons here can survive the transition, or there may be a ritual to use. Almost any weapon which can be imagined could be in the storm, somewhere… so if a special type of blade is needed to perform some task, this is a place where it can be found. An ancient god may only be able to be killed with a knife forged in the fires of a world now long gone to ash, but perhaps an echo of that world exists here.
c)Even if you can’t visit this plane, you can still call upon its powers…
Howl Of The Whirling Knives
Wizard Attack 23
The wall between the worlds grows thin, and a small bit of the Flaying Tempest seeps into the mortal realm.
Encounter * Arcane, Implement, Zone
Standard Action; Area Burst 5 within 10 squares
Target: Each creature in burst.
Attack: Intelligence vs. Reflex
Hit: 4d6+Intelligence modifier weapon damage. If the winds blow towards the caster, pull target 2 squares. If the winds blow away from the caster, push target two squares. If the winds blow randomly, slide target 1 square.
Special: When this power is used, before any attack rolls are made, the caster must declare if the winds are blowing towards him, away from him, or randomly.
Effect: The burst creates a zone of whirling blades. Any creature that enters the zone or starts its turn there takes 2d6+Intelligence modifier weapon damage and is pushed, pulled, or slid as above.