Yuranspace: A Glimpse Into Beholder Dominated Space

I, Beholder by Silverblade the Enchanter. Copyright (c) 2009. Used by permission.

In the most general terms, there are only two types of spheres located within Beholder Dominated Space: Those that are fully under the control of one Beholder Hive, and those that are battlegrounds between two or more Beholder Hives. The specifics vary; but all spheres that are dominated by beholders would fall into one of these two groups. None of these spheres have ever been documented before; to that end, I present Yuranspace, a sample of the latter type of sphere, generated primarily with the random charts in the Spelljammer Campaign Setting boxed set. This sphere is lightly detailed in order to better fit into any particular campaign. I encourage those interested in further developing the spheres, worlds, and cultures mentioned in this article to do so, and grant permission for those details to be submitted and published here on the blog.

Yuranspace is not a particularly large sphere, only about 2800 million miles across. It is fairly typical as spheres go; the crystal shell has neither special properties nor an unusual appearance. There are no fixed portals in the sphere wall, but portal-creating magic operates normally. The stars seen from the the planets within the sphere are constellates (see MC09, Spelljammer Monstrous Compendium Appendix II); most are in the forms of humanoids and animals, although the names and exact description varies from world to world. Unfortunately for the inhabitants of Yuranspace, their sphere became connected to two spheres completely dominated by different beholder hives within the last 5 centuries.

(Primary; Spherical Earth Body; Size D (2400 mile diameter); Day 24 hours; Year N/A, Seasons N/A)
Yuran is about 60% land, and not particularly volcanically active. Eruptions and earthquakes are rare, as are high mountains. Most of the world is well watered, consisting of rolling hills and plains, all quite fertile. The largest ocean is in the southern hemisphere, surrounding the smallest continent. Humans make up the majority of the native intelligent life, with an original population of approximately 100 million total. Normal and giant animals are common, with versions of the normal expected types, slightly different in appearance but otherwise as one would expect. The few other intelligent creatures inhabit areas generally hostile to humans, such as the high mountains or the depths of the earth. Yeti and quaggoths make the majority of the non-human intelligent social creature, but are outnumbered by humans nearly 1000 to 1. There are small numbers of faerie creatures, such as brownies and dryads, but these are nearly legendary. There are no monsters larger than manticores, and all are considered rare at best.

Yuran once had a vast, peaceful agrarian human society, but an invasion by beholders ended all that approximately 500 years ago. Since then, the humans have been enslaved and are kept as food and labor, living in dense, sprawling hovel-cities surrounding the spire-towers of the beholder enclaves. The original beholders were all members of the Kreshnats Hive, from nearby Albidspace. However, 130 years ago, beholders of the Ilxarq Hive, from Moporospace discovered Yuranspace, and initiated a genocidal war against the Kreshnats Hive. In the intervening years, half the spire-cities were destroyed, with the rest being claimed and reclaimed by one side or the other. However, in the last ten years, the Kreshnats Hive has manage to re-assert their power, and has taken back all but ten spire-cities on a small continent in the southern hemisphere. The ongoing war has allowed some of the humans on the world, mostly survivors of destroyed spire-cities, to escape slavery and attempt to fight back against the beholders, although their previous peaceful life has ill-prepared them for resistance.

(Spherical Air Body; Size E (6200 mile diameter); Day 30 hours; Year 5 months; Seasons Yes (extreme); Orbit 80 million miles)
Gothar is an air world with layers of swirling clouds. The topmost layer, about 10 miles thick, is fraught with storms and gale force winds; weather here is rarely better than blustery, and rolls on the Weather Conditions chart are made with a +4 modifier. Below this is a calm layer, about 100 miles thick, filled with floating vegetation; these plants are solid enough to land on and are usually in masses of 100 feet to 5000 feet in diameter. The plants are full of cave like structures that collect water and contain edible pollen and fruit-like seeds; unfortunately, half of all such plants are carnivorous, and it is virtually impossible to distinguish between the two. Animal life on the world consists of birds, bats, and insects, with urds and giant eagles being the dominant intelligent life. Beholders of both hives have small colonies on the world, but have found little of use and the urds and eagles are too quick to easily enslave or annihilate. Below this layer is a thick stormy layer; what lies within and beyond is unknown.

Gothar moves quickly on the orbital chart, traversing a space every eight days. It should be noted that the relative position of Gothar to Arsh determines the season, rather than axial tilt, and leads to quite extreme seasons. Winter highs rarely rise above freezing and summer temperatures tend to stay between 100F and 110F. Luckily for the inhabitants, the floating plants are great insulators, meaning interior temperatures tend to stay 30 degrees cooler in summer and 30 degrees warmer in winter. Gothar is surrounded by a broad earthen ring that rains small stones into the atmosphere on the three days when the world is closes to Arsh, this is treated as a continuous hail storm. The earth ring is relatively uninteresting otherwise, as none of the material is larger than about 30 feet in diameter. However, it has become a haven of astereaters, the eyestalk-less beholderkin that appear as rocky spheres, as well as the much rarer gravislayers and argos. All such creatures hide here to escape destruction by the beholders.

(Spherical Fire Body; Size G (72,000 mile diameter); Day 6 hours; Year N/A; Seasons N/A; Orbit 120 million miles)
Arsh is the system’s sun. Unlike most of the other worlds, its position in the sphere is fixed, and it does not orbit the primary (fixed in the tenth position on the orbital track). Because of this lack of movement, the primary Yuran has no seasons, with every day being the equivalent of a late spring/early summer day, and snow is only ever found on the highest mountains. Arsh is completely uninhabited, but it does sport a cluster of asteroids that slowly orbits it (around 30 individual planetoids); these asteroids are no more than ten miles in diameter, but the abundant light has made them quite fertile, and the Kreshnats Hive transported a number of humans to these for farming and mining purposes. The Ilxarq Hive has yet to mount any attacks against these beholders, however, focusing on the more strategic locales in the sphere, especially major points in the Diamond Band and Yuran itself. The beholders here are particularly lazy, and the humans on these asteroids are allowed to operate with an ample degree of autonomy, compared to the other humans in the sphere at least. Unfortunately for the humans, resistance does little good, for they can’t get off these small worlds on their own.

The Diamond Band
(Earth and Ice Belt; largest objects Size C (150 mile diameter); Day Varies; Year 24 Months; Seasons yes, extreme; Orbit 200 million miles)
The Diamond Band is a thick belt of rocky and icy worldlets that are generally very inhospitable. The Band is so named because the ice causes them to glitter like sparkling diamonds when viewed from the night sky of Yuran. Over 90% of the planetoids are uninhabitable, being either too cold for life or voidworlds. Of the remaining worlds, only about a dozen would be considered temperate and comfortable. Regardless of how hospitable the worldlets are, most have become outposts of beholders of the competing hives; although a small few have become the home renegade beholder groups, mutants, and beholderkin. One group of renegades has built a small temple dedicated to Gzemnid, the Gas Giant; half the group has opted to blind their central eye and learn illusionist magic. They have used their powers to hide their lair from the other beholders, although it seems likely it is just a matter of time before they are discovered. The only truly neutral ground in the whole sphere is found in the Diamond Band as well. Due to the nature of the conflict, the Arcane have set up a shipyard to supply the Tyrant Scouts and Ships each side desperately needs. To avoid conflict, the Arcane allow only one beholder ship to dock at a time, and deliver their constructed vessels to pre designated locations. They are also very strict about not allowing any battles to break out near their shipyard, and embargo whichever side initiated an attack. Because of the Arcane’s presence in the sphere, there is a modicum of safety for foreign vessels travelling within it; beholders of both sides are reluctant to attack without first determining if they are an agent of the Arcane. Of course, should a vessel attack first, they will assume the ship is not an agent of the Arcane. Mutants, kin, and exiles do not have these same constraints, however; in fact, many may worry that agents of the Arcane will reveal their presence to the two warring hives.

(Spherical Earth Body; Size E (6120 mile diameter); Day 140 hours; Year N/A; Seasons N/A; Orbit 300 million miles)
Qord does not move through space and is fixed at a point fully 180 degrees around the primary from Arsh. Because of this, the sunlight on Qord is always eclipsed by Yuran, although enough sunlight leaks around the edge of Yuran’s disc to leave the daylight hours as perpetual twilight. Qord is a stark, rocky landscape with little water, but the stones are rich in a wide variety of common and precious metals, particularly iron. What water does exist tends to be either very acidic or very alkaline; the only water suitable for drinking exists as a large lake in the obsidian bowl of an ancient volcano. Lichens and mosses make up the whole range of plant life, and assorted oozes and slimes commonly feed on them. However, much more common are a variety of creatures composed entirely of rock. Such creatures feed on the stones and minerals that make up the planet, as well as each other. These creatures all have six limbs, with those that feed on other rock creatures tending to only use the rear two pairs for locomotion, with the forelimbs being grasping arms. The overall appearance of these creatures is much like wide, flat lizards made of various types of stone. In addition, there are two types of insect life found on the world: rust monsters, which feed on the abundant iron ores, and burburs, which feed on the various slimes and oozes. Deep beneath the surface can be found denzelians and horgar, but not in any large numbers. The only native intelligent life on the world are the liquid metal beings known as living steel, whose greatest predators are the rust monsters. Because of this threat, the living steel has adopted a community lifestyle not found elsewhere, with many creatures living in large pools found in caverns accessible only from small cracks in the rock walls. They utilize simple stone weaponry when they must confront rust monsters.

Other intelligent life has found its way to Qord as well, primarily xorn and galeb duhr from the Elemental Plane of Earth. In addition, beholders of both hives have set up mining operations to help pay for the Tyrant Ships they use, but the human slaves they bring in from Yuran suffer greatly due to the inhospitable conditions.

Qord has four moons that maintain orbits perpendicular to the plane of the ecliptic, and as such are often fully exposed to the life-giving rays of Arsh. The first moon, Ora, is an air world with half the diameter of Qord (Size D: 3000 mile diameter; 35,000 mile orbit). It has no solid land masses; all creatures living within the world sleep in such a manner that they either glide on the winds or fall in an orbit around the center point of the world. A variety of birds, bats, and insects fly on the gentle winds. Plants that float about on the winds resemble dandelions, and while most are not particularly tasty, they are all edible and quite nutritious, and serve as the basis of the ecosystem on Ora. Ora’s orbital plane is perfectly aligned with Arsh, so it regularly passes into Qord’s shadow every 22 days. The second moon, Mielle, is a typical earth world (Size C: 900 mile diameter; 60,000 mile orbit) covered in lush forests, mountains, rivers, and small oceans. Before the arrival of the beholders, the planet was home to a variety of normal animals and a race of intelligent deer-like creatures; unfortunately, the size of the world made it quite easy for the beholders to assert their dominance, and finding the deer-creatures not suited to slavery, they wiped them out entirely. Now the world is a major outpost and slave-breeding world using humans taken from Yuran, with many eventually being sent on to Qord. Mielle has an orbit that exposes it to Arsh at all times, giving it a normal day/night cycle, but no seasons. The third moon is a water world called Zallara (Size D: 1500 mile diameter, 100,000 mile orbit). Zallara is a very cold world at the surface, with ice up to one mile thick. Below this, it warms up considerably, getting close to the boiling point near the semi-molten rocky core, which is around 50 miles in diameter. Between these zones, however, the water is quite comfortable, and home to a variety of aquatic life. Large mollusks, some up to one mile in length, drift through these seas, filtering out the abundant plankton and serving as solid ground for many creatures. Besides a wide range of fishes, arthropods, and invertebrates, the common intelligent life includes locathah, ixitxachitl, merrow, and koalinths. The thick ice layer has kept them safe from, and ignorant of, the beholder domination of the rest of the sphere. The final moon orbiting Qord is a small planetoid called Armas (Size B: 68 mile diameter, 150,000 mile orbit). Armas is, to all appearances, a single giant, spherical tree. Whether there is a core of soil at the center of the woody sphere is unknown. The spherical surface is covered in branches of varying sizes, covering the whole range of terrestrial trees from sapling to enormous redwood. Gentle rains are common, and there are many places where rivulets form in the bark, leading to pools in natural depressions in the woody surface. There are also holes in the surface that lead into the interior, but more often than not, these are occupied by native creatures. All manner of tree-dwelling animals, birds, and insects can be found on the planetoid; sizes are generally as one would expect of terrestrial varieties, there are some rare species that get considerably larger (treat as double to quadrupal the normal or giant sized creature, as appropriate for the encounter). Giant termites, woodpeckers, and hunting cats are amongst the most dangerous of these enormous creatures. The only intelligent life found on the world are bipedal squirrel-folk known as Kercpa. The dense foliage on the world, and lack of obvious civilization has kept from the notice of the beholders.

(Spherical Water Body; Size E (6780 mile diameter); Day 20 hours; Year 72 years; Seasons Yes; Orbit 700 million miles)
Losa is the last major planet in Yuranspace before the edge of the Crystal Shell. It is a sphere of pure blue, being water down to its core with no solid land at all, and surrounded by a wide, glittering, multicolored ring of ice and dust. Upon entering the atmosphere, the vast ocean appears dotted by thousands of tiny islands; careful study will reveal that they move slowly across the waves. In fact, these islands are the exposed shells of zaratani, enormous sea turtles that are so large that their shells gather soil and plant life, and serve as generally stable platforms for terrestrial life. A wide variety of animals, particularly birds and small primates, live on these small islands, eating the abundant flowering plant life (most plants bear fruit every few months) and catching the fish that tend to stay close to the zaratani. In addition, about thirty percent of these large turtles are home to small populations of humanoids, who either attack or trade with humanoids on zaratani islands that they meet, depending on their individual natures. The humanoid population of Losa consists of aarakocra, harpies, selkies, sirines, and thri-kreen. About once every 1000 years, the zaratani seek out others of their species to mate with, which causes considerable upheaval and tremendous damage for creatures living on their shells.

One side effect discovered on the world is that most non-native humanoids with standard respiratory systems are rather allergic to the abundant pollen in the air, suffering severe, but not life-threatening hay fever about 80% of the time. Unfortunately for beholders, they react quite differently to this pollen. When first inhaling a significant amount of pollen (by coming within 100 feet of the plant life on the back of a zaratan), they must make a saving throw vs. polymorph or undergo a slow mutation. Ninety percent of the time it is a cosmetic difference, but this is enough for other beholders to turn on them. The remaining 10% of the time they become an eye of the deep, a gauth, an astereater, an argos, or a death kiss. Of course, beholders changed in such a manner believe that all *other* beholders they once knew have changed. Even should a beholder make their save, their next offspring will be a mutant (with the same chances as above). Hive mothers, orbii, elder orbs, and eyes of the deep are immune to these changes, but other types of beholder-kin are not. Beholders who are not mutated by the pollen are also immune to future mutations, but their offspring are not. Due to these effects, considered especially dire by the xenophobic beholders, they avoid the world almost entirely now, although it has become a sort of haven for individual mutations. In fact, the oceans around the zaratani now hold a considerable population of eyes of the deep, and astereaters can be found throughout the planet’s icy ring. It should be noted that this world’s pollen is the cause of a significant number of the beholder-kin in the sphere, although it should be noted that the majority of such mutants are still killed before they can escape their former hive-mates.


One comment on “Yuranspace: A Glimpse Into Beholder Dominated Space

  1. a cool sphere for space tourism! there is great potential here… players are surely not agree, but a “free slave” campaign is very challenging in that kind of system.

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