I have never played Dungeons and Dragons. I know friends who had played several games, and they enjoyed themselves immensely, though I never had any inclination to play any of the RPGs myself. Recently, that has changed. What I once viewed as a board game surrounded by sweaty, greasy fat men, has transformed itself into an expansive fantasy realm of mysticism and high adventure. Though, I suppose, the sweaty greasy fat men would still be around.
Why the change in opinion? Well, I happened to come across a certain Dungeons and Dragons character known as the Lady of Pain, who is so interesting, intriguing and idiosyncratic that I was compelled to research her setting and story in great depth. And that, ladies and gentlemen, rarely happens.
So, let us start with the basics. She resides in the Outlands, a metaphysical reality of concrete abstracts. Effectively, it’s the crossroads of all religions. Deities reside in differing parts of the Outlands, and socialise amongst one another whilst blessing/smiting mortals. Potentially, you can meet Thor. Then get horrifically smashed by his mighty hammer. For those of you thinking you wouldn’t mind Chris Hemsworth smashing you with his ‘hammer’, I can assure you that it would be astoundingly painful.
You see, the Outlands is shaped like a massive wheel. On each part of the wheel are areas which correspond to the moral alignments of the Gods – so there would be areas for the lawful good, lawful evil, chaotic good, and the chaotic evil. And this wheel is absolutely massive. Like, mind-bogglingly, incomprehensively huge. So good luck walking to wherever you wish to go, because it will literally take you forever.
That is because the Outlands place a significant emphasis on the concept of infinity. In a way, the existence of the Outlands is inescapably intertwined with the concept of infinity, because there is a huge reliance on certain fixed events to remain infinite. If any of these events break apart, Hell would literally break loose. Science tells us that we don’t want this.
A good example of this is the Blood War, which consists of demons and devils locked in eternal combat between each other. One side pours from the Abyss (aligned with chaotic evil), while the other side dispenses its troops from the 9 Hells (lawful evil). If the combat is ever broken, or swung to one side, then the Outlands are doomed, since the army can then claim the Outlands for their own through bloody, violent force.
Oh, and the concept of infinity would cease to be. Try wrapping your head around that. Or, for an insight into what the D&D creation process probably looked like, watch noted sweaty, greasy fat man Louis CK grapple with similar themes and lose horribly.
But I digress. Let us turn back to the Lady of Pain herself.
The lady resides in a city called Sigil. It lies within a torus, circling around and back into itself as it floats above a mountain. Hopefully, the image below would explain it better than I can.
The city itself floats above a mountain which is an asymptote, meaning it’s a cliff face that is infinitely high. So, on top of an infinitely tall mountain floats a donut-shaped city. Yeah, it’s pretty surreal, but it’s a damn cool concept too. You may wonder how you would scale an infinitely high mountain. Well, you can simply enter through a door, of course!
That is because Sigil is also known as the City of Doors. Some doors inevitably lead to Sigil itself, which is, understandably, useful. But every other door leads to something completely random. And I must emphasise this: anything you can think of, you can walk through a door and see it. So, some lead to differing dimensions, some to ancient cities long gone, and some lead to the pitted pits of Tartarus. Oh, and of course, some can lead to Satan. That’s right, straight to the big daddy himself. We consulted Science again and it confirmed that this is apparently a bad thing.
And guess who controls these doors? Yep, The Lady of Pain. You’d think they’d have realised that was an objectively terrible decision. She has the word Pain in her name. Her title is literally Pain. Never put that person in charge of anything, least of all your entire public transport system.
Now, this would be a good time to provide an example to illustrate her ridiculous power-level. Naturally, many Gods want to use the portals within Sigil to capture other worlds, and claim them as their own. After all, Sigil would be the perfect stepping stone towards universal domination. However, they cannot enter the City. Let me emphasise this: GODS cannot enter the city of Sigil. Why? Because the Lady of Pain doesn’t let them. Why? Who knows. But, for whatever reason, she has the power to deny GODS entrance to her city. I mean wow. Just, wow. When your state segregation includes deities then you know you’re a big deal. And don’t even get her started on disabled access.
A hint for this fictional universe – if you were walking across the city of Sigil and you happened to see her floating above you, do not disturb her. Ever. If you were foolish enough to do so, two things can happen:
If you were lucky, you would die. It wouldn’t be quick, and it wouldn’t be easy. You would become a misshapen lump of writhing flesh and bone, left to rot until you release your ghost. Science would like to say that it cannot reiterate strongly enough how hazardous that is to one’s health.
Alternatively, you could be ‘mazed’. This is when you are placed within a pocket dimension, comprised of a massive maze with many, many atrocities and horrors blocking your path. You can feel no fatigue, no hunger, and no thirst. But you are doomed to trek through her maze until you find your way out. Unfortunately for you, that task can take millions upon millions of years. Imagine that. Millions of years of fighting and fighting, hoping to find a way out of your eternal nightmare.
So yes, that means you could be trapped in a near infinitely long series of mazes for a near infinite period of time after being transferred from a city that’s on top of an infinitely high cliff and has doors to an infinite number of places. And all that is on a near infinitely long wheel shaped region that is, wait for it, defined by infinites. Got that?
In conclusion, though she may sound like some kind of kinky 50 Shades of Gray dominatrix, you really shouldn’t fuck with the Lady. At all. Ever.