The TownCrier Archives

Search Knowledge Base by Keyword

Xorus Has Hints on Rift Puzzles

You are here:
< Back

Professor Xorus illuminates a couple questions from an Adventurer about the Rift. He speaks of the old one-eyed dark Elf with the coffin, and the weathered metal sign with missing letters. From the Officials:

Category: Towns

Topic: Wehnimer’s Landing

Date: 06/20/2018 12:55 PM PDT
Subj: Re: Castle Anwyn and the Demon Queen
The ICE gods project is massive and I am taking a break from it until at least after Duskruin. Instead I will post this updated revision of interpreting the rooms in The Rift. Most of the Rift room painting was done by Varevice and Ursus. Talairi did the Drake’s Shrine, Castle Anwyn, and Pinefar with its surroundings. If I recall correctly Aephir did a few Rift rooms, but it was I am given to understand mostly others. The Rift is high on symbolic content. Some of it is clearly mythological. Some are surreal or dark depictions of things in the game that might not have a subtext. It was not clear what the major thread between them might be until now. The following are the low hanging fruit.

In the past I was able to identify at least some meaning on the rooms from Planes 1 through 3, which are mostly the same but laid out along different ideal geometric patterns. (Plane 1 is a triangle, Plane 2 is a square, Plane 3 is triskele or spiral.) I was not able to discern much meaning in Plane 4 in spite of its clear symbolism. When you get “rifted” you always end up in the corresponding room of the next plane over, which are in a fixed order, though Plane 2 is complicated. There are unique rooms on each of 1, 2, and 3. These map to corresponding unique rooms. Every room on Plane 4 is unique, and Plane 5 is just a heart. The Scatter is most likely irrelevant being much later.

The Point

In hindsight I should have tried to systematically look at the recurring motifs: The preponderance of integer numbers and certain objects. These objects are cups, staves, swords, and pentacles (coins.) These are the suits of Tarot decks, which fully in accord with the temporal rift premise of the Vvrael quest, is used for divination and fortune telling. There is an Arthurian thread in both tarot and the Vvrael quest. These Rift rooms are to a very great extent GemStone adaptations of the Tarot cards.

The Rider-Waite tarot deck seems to be the most immediately relevant, but there are probably things from other decks. At least a few look like they come from an Arthurian deck named “Legend”. This would have jumped out at me a lot sooner if I had either been systematic or been familiar with the cards themselves. Jessie Weston had talked about the Grail mythology in relation to the old card suits, the Grail to the Cups and Grail Sword to the Swords and so on in her book “From Ritual to Romance.”

The following list is probably incomplete but is a huge chunk of the total room count, and it is possible that prior interpretations still have validity. For example, the room I identify with Bandur Etrevion may well still be that, it would just suggest that there was a tarot influence on the Graveyard. I will not try to interpret the rooms here in terms of what they mean in terms of tarot. In this example it is the Magician card with him walking away instead of facing forward. Credit goes to Lylia for recognizing the Five of Pentacles from the Rider-Waite deck on Plane 4. We were discussing the coins on Plane 4 and how my comparative mythology approach seemed useless on that plane.

Plane 1: (Note: Some of these appear on other planes. Later planes will only reference rooms specific to that plane.)

(1) Lich #2580:
[The Rift]
The sound of hoofbeats approaches rapidly. When you whirl around, a white horse emerges from the surrounding mist with a black robed figure on its back. As the horse gallops by, the sound of a blade cutting the air fills your ears, and a burst of wind brushes your neck. The horseman quickly fades into the mist before you, a scythe the last thing you see as it disappears.
Obvious paths: northeast, east, northwest

Tarot: Death card, Major arcana.

(2) #2581:
[The Rift]
Your wandering brings you to a small clearing. The ground is dry and parched, and there are large lines scratched into the surface and coated in a red, sticky substance. Following the lines a moment, you realize they make a rune covered circle, and that you are standing in the center of it. A cold wind whips around you at that point, and you hear howls in the distance.
Obvious exits: northeast, southeast, west

Tarot: This one isn’t specifically a Tarot card, but could be twisted to mean the Ace of Pentacles.

(3) #2583:
[The Rift]
A jagged chasm opens up nearly beneath your feet. Before you can step into it, a sharp barking sound startles you, catching your attention and bringing you to a halt. Looking down, you see a small skeletal dog at your feet. He dances nimbly before you, halting your forward progress into the pit. Blinking, you look again, and both the dog and the chasm are gone.
Obvious paths: east, southeast, southwest, west

Tarot: The Fool, Major arcana. (This makes you The Fool.)

(4) #2584:
[The Rift]
Mist swirls and flows around a small monument here. A man lies on the ground face down, quite dead. There are ten longswords protruding from his back, from the tip of the neck to the back of the knees. Small rivulets of blood have dried as they left the body, forming an unusual pattern in the dirt.
Obvious paths: east, southwest

Tarot: The Ten of Swords, Minor arcana.

(5) #2585:
[The Rift]
Chains creak and strain under the load they are holding in the center of this stone-walled room. Eight rolaren chains reach up, entangle, and reach down to the ground on the opposite side of the large shadowy mass hovering just above the floor. It shifts and moves, as if alive and seeking an escape from the bindings. The chains glow slightly in the dim light, throwing unusual shadows on the walls while keeping the mass from growing too much.
Obvious paths: northeast, east, southwest, northwest

Tarot: Eight of Swords, Minor arcana. (This one is misleading as there are no swords in it.)

(6) #2588:
[The Rift]
In the distance walks a tall man. His robe is grey and tattered, but the frame beneath it remains strong. Above his head floats the symbol of infinity, black and tarnished as the path he walks. No matter how rapidly you proceed towards him, you cannot seem to catch him, although he moves no faster than a saunter.
Obvious exits: northeast, southeast, west

Tarot: The Magician. Major arcana. (This is the one I have identified with Bandur Etrevion and his “The Dark Path”. The Graveyard path over his head forms an infinity symbol, and the center of it used to be non-scryable/non-teleportable for entering. Creatures used to not wander into it. There is a Merlin version of this card where he is walking away on a path.)

(7) #2589:
[The Rift]
An immense structure stands before you, built of now-ruined white marble columns. In the center sits a crumbling throne, flanked by two pillars. Each may have had a symbol at one time, but ages of decay have erased any decoration. Upon the throne sits a rotting zombie. Her sightless eyes stare out into nothingness, and her feet have fallen into the bowl of the stone crescent at the base of her seat.
Obvious exits: west, northwest

Tarot: The High Priestess, Major arcana.

(8) #2595:
[The Rift]
A long field stretches before you, covered by dark clouds. The field is lined with rows and rows of long metal poles, each of which is situated near a stone door. While you look over the field, lightning flashes down from the clouds and strikes one of the poles. As the pole absorbs the burst of energy, the door nearest to it slowly swings open, revealing a black stone passage behind. The door stays open a few seconds, then slowly swings closed again.
Obvious paths: east, west

Tarot: This one isn’t necessarily Tarot related, but the many poles could be the staves suit. The infinite hallway of doors is recognizable from things like “Donald Duck in Mathemagic Land” (old enough) and “The Matrix Reloaded (2)” (not old enough). If there is a more specific source it is not clear yet.

(9) #2598:
[The Rift]
A throne sits in the middle of an open field. Dead and dried flower bushes grow over it, lacing thistles through the hair and bones of the half-rotted woman sitting within it. Enough flesh remains to identify her gender, but the rest is gone, devoured by the plants and elements.
Obvious exits: east, west

Tarot: The Empress, Major arcana. (In the Rider-Waite version she’s in a field that way.)

(10) #2603:
[The Rift]
Crimson veins run through the black marble of the walls of the throne room. The streaks seem to pulse, as if it they were not streamers of red lacing the black stone, but actual arteries carrying blood through the rock. Upon a massive, corroded silver throne sits a man whose eyes are pools of black essence. They seem to pull the light into themselves, allowing no spark of brightness or hope to escape. “Slaughter them,” he is saying. “Kill them all and leave their corpses for the maggots.”
Obvious exits: north, east, west

Tarot: The Emperor, Major arcana. (In the Rider-Waite version there are vertical red streaks on the wall.)

(11) #2605:
[The Rift]
The path is flanked on both sides by black water, thick and sluggish with salt. A tiny boat is beached on the shore, but the waves and tide still reach beyond its bow. As the waves break around it, the dinghy rocks slightly and shifts in the swirling, bubbling sand. Two people relax in the boat, a young man and woman, talking and laughing. While they sit, however, the boat lurches sickeningly and begins to take on water. They look sad, and stare into each other’s eyes as the sea claims them.
Obvious exits: east, west

Tarot: Low confidence. Could be crossing The Lovers (Major arcana) or the Two of Cups with the Six of Swords.

(12) #2608:
[The Rift]
The immense cathedral is dark. The candles have melted to their holders in deformed blobs, and the torches have long since burned out. At the pulpit kneels a high man of the church. He faces the splintered and destroyed pews, the desecrated place of worship, and weeps brokenheartedly, staff on the ground before him.
Obvious paths: east, west

Tarot: Low confidence. Nothing specific is jumping out at me with what I know, but the cathedral and weeping with the staff on the ground increases the likelihood.

(13) #2611:
[The Rift]
A giant hangs on an elaborate set of poles and straps here. Two thick poles set crossing each other are framed by two vertical and two horizontal ones. Violet eyes shrouded in shadow float near the giant’s head, watching the expressions that pass there with great interest. A pair of winged snakes hover near the giant, flying idly about and occasionally striking him.
Obvious paths: east, west

Tarot: This might be a cross reference of mythological stuff with Tarot stuff. The crossed poles would be referring to the Ten of Wands, which symbolizes taking on excessive burden. The scene itself might be a cross reference to Prometheus and Loki who are both tricksters. I’ve speculated before that the violet eyes shrouded in shadow refers to Kadaena, the Empress/”Shadow” that in GemStone was worshipped as a forbidden knowledge goddess by the Dark Path.

(14) #2613:
[The Rift]
The sky boils with dark black clouds. Lightning flashes across the sky, and wind howls across the barren landscape. Within the clouds, you can see the form of a man, standing in the center of the tempest. He stares down upon the ruins of an old shrine, where a man and woman huddle in a corner, cleaving to each other for comfort.
Obvious paths: east, southwest, west

Tarot: Judgement (Major arcana) possibly crossed with others like The Lovers. (There is also a rare ambient in the Rift with a winged figure in the sky.)

(15) #2614:
[The Rift]
A huge cliff looms before you, stretching far into the sky above. About halfway up the face an immense red-skinned man rides the air currents, flapping his leathery wings to hold his position. On the wall next to him are crude columns made of bodies impaled to the wall, each column topped off with a different type of weapon resting on rough hooks.
Obvious paths: southeast, west

Tarot: Low confidence. Might be a cross of The Devil (Major arcana) with something like the Four of Wands.

(16) #2615:
[The Rift]
Rows of cages line the walkways, bars rusting away in the damp air. Within each is a deformed and horrible creature, stalking behind the metal grills. The cage in the center contains a three-headed lion, frothing and drooling in snarling rage. A woman stands within it, desperately attempting to hold the maws of the lion’s heads shut, but her chances look slim at best.
Obvious exits: west, northwest

Tarot: Strength (Major arcana)

(17) #2620:
[The Rift]
A chariot sits in the center of the path. The horses pulling it run hard, sweat and foam flying off their bodies as their hooves churn. The driver whips them on, leaning into the wind. He occasionally glances over his shoulder, as if watching for some threat from behind. Despite the running horses or windblown driver, the chariot is going nowhere, simply spinning its wheels in the middle of the road.
Obvious exits: east, west

Tarot: The Chariot. (Major arcana)

(18) #2628:
[The Rift]
Mountains rise on either side of you, black peaks reaching for an angry red sky. The ground beneath your feet is broken and rocky, making you stumble uncomfortably. On the western side of the path stands a skeleton at least thirty feet tall. His bony hands clutch a staff from which hangs a lantern, filled with odd stones that glow in the dim light. The ripped remains of a black robe hang from the bones, fluttering in a slight breeze.
Obvious exits: east, south, west

Tarot: The Hermit, Major Arcana. (I had previously speculated this could also refer to Maleskari, the Bonespear Tower skeleton demon lord. Usually the Hermit is depicted as an old man with a beard.)

(19) #2629:
[The Rift]
A shoreline stretches before you, the sea dark and thick with salt. Just a small way up the beach, an unusual sight catches your eye. A small child walks the beach, holding hands with a large winged humanoid. One of its reddish wings is wrapped protectively around the child, and her small hand is tightly clutching one of his large fingers. She appears to be talking, although what she is saying is too difficult to understand to any except her unusual companion.
Obvious paths: east, south, west

Tarot: Low confidence. Could be the Devil card crossed with something else.

(20) #2631:
[The Rift]
A marble wall stretches for some distance to either side of you. In the center of the wall hangs a golden scale, with a small shelf on either side of it. On each of the shelves lies a shiny razor and a white towel. The bowls of the scales are spotless, although they have a slight coppery odor.
Obvious exits: east, south, west

Tarot: Justice, Major Arcana. Possibly crossed with Two of Cups.

(21) #2633:
[The Rift]
A line of people empties out of a pass to the north, too clogged for you to use as a route away. They all await their turn at spinning a wheel, at least twenty feet across and lying flat on the ground. Upon the wheel stand various figures: a reaper with a scythe, a being made entirely of light, and other oddities. Each person spins the wheel in turn, and each in turn receives their fate according to the figure chosen on the wheel.
Obvious paths: west

Tarot: Wheel of Fortune, Major arcana. (I previously pointed this out as Fortuna’s Wheel.)

Plane 2:

(22) #2619:
[The Rift]
The courtroom is packed with shambling corpses, filling the jury box and judge seat. A living person sits in the spot reserved for the defendant, chained to the desk with thick irons. He looks nervous, glancing around at the dead surrounding him with a wild look in his eyes. At the back of the courtroom hangs a blindfolded woman, head lolling grotesquely to the side as if the noose had broken her neck. Her dead fingers clutch a set of balance scales.
Obvious paths: east, southeast, west, northwest

Tarot: Judgement.

(23) #12100:
[The Rift]
A line of women walks through here, moaning and weeping softly to themselves as they dip the jugs they carry into the waters of the river to the east. As they walk back to the well south of you their jars begin to leak, water streaming onto the ground until there is none left in the containers. Still the women trudge on, going through the motions of pouring the liquid into the well before returning to the river for a refill.
Obvious exits: west

Tarot: The Star, Major arcana.

(24) #12107:
[The Rift]
An immense moon the color of drying blood dominates the sky. It sheds ruddy crimson light over the broken world, seeming to swallow every other color in its red glow. Horrible beasts crawl over the ground, looking like giant lobsters which raise their claws in tribute to the lunar glow, while man-wolves raise their eerie voices in a primal tribute.
Obvious exits: southwest, northwest

Tarot: The Moon, Major arcana. (I associated this previously with the Broken Lands with its fog beetles and the red moon Lornon thing.)

(25) #12113:
[The Rift]
The sounds of battle cut through the air. Melee rages around you, threatening to draw you in. People, dressed only in shreds of clothing, beat each other into the ground, climbing over the bodies of their fallen comrades in an attempt to reach a pile of gold and gems at the far side of the field. From this distance, the pile seems to be shaped like a mocking horned head, looking on at the destruction with evil glee.
Obvious exits: southwest, northwest

Tarot: Low confidence. Could be a cross of the Devil with the Five of Wands and a pentacles/coins card.

(26) #12154:
[The Rift]
A herd of horses plays in the dead grass of the meadow. They frolic in the thin light that filters through the clouds, bending their heads to graze or simply standing with their herdmates. Upon the back of the leader sits a small child whose giggles seem to brighten the day. With a second look, the skin melts from the horses to leave nothing more than equine skeletons playing in the sun.
Obvious paths: northeast, southeast

Tarot: The Sun, Major arcana. (Previously associated this as possibly Shadow Valley related.)

(27) #2634:
[The Rift]
The path you travel upon winds its way through the scrubby ground. Amid the bushes hangs a man, suspended from his ankle. His face is a purple crimson from the blood pooled within, and his eyes have rolled back into his head. While this is not uncommon, perhaps more remarkable is the fact that the rope is anchored in the ground, and the man hangs upwards.
Obvious exits: southwest, northwest

Tarot: The Hanged Man, Major arcana. (Previously noted this with Merlin’s impossible death prophecy. There is an Arthurian version with the Castle Perilous.)

(28) #12137:
[The Rift]
You stand at the base of an immense tower. The spire seeks to pierce the heart of the heavens, reaching into the center of a horrible lightning storm. Bolts play over the black stone surface, illuminating it with a blinding blue light. Winds howl about the structure, and the screams of those it throws from the top of the tower barely rise above the sound of the tempest. Rain pours from the sky, as if the world wept at the wound created by the stabbing spire.
Obvious paths: northeast, southeast, northwest

Tarot: The Tower, Major arcana.

(29) #12112:
[The Rift]
Headstones of grey marble seem to grow from the ground, placed in neat rows. A pall of silence hangs over the graveyard, and not even a breath of wind disturbs the serenity. Set slightly apart from the rest of the graves is a large black tomb. Carved upon the face of the stone, in the place reserved for the identity of the departed, is the name “Elanthia.”
Obvious exits: north, southeast, south

Tarot: The World, Major arcana.

(30) #12109:
[The Rift]
A woman stands at the head of the huge cavern. The right half of her is perhaps the most beautiful woman you have seen. Her skin is the color of milk, and blonde hair streams down over one feathered wing. The other half of her body is the opposite. The skin is rough, with matted hair tangled with a wing like leather. In her right hand she holds a staff of light, with which she gestures towards a field of surpassing beauty. Her left bears a scythe, pointing towards a pit of angry flames.
Obvious paths: east, west

Tarot: Low confidence. Could be a cross of things like the Devil and a winged one such as Temperance, the Lovers, or more likely in context Judgement. (Previously speculated this could be an early Gosaena/Kadaena cross reference, though the current Gosaena form had not been released yet.)

(31) #12182:
[The Rift]
The battlefield is carpeted in bodies, littering the rolling hills and making it nearly impossible to walk. Still the battle rages on, with men in bloodstained black plate mail battling against a struggling band of warriors in silver. Waves of the dark knights ride over the field on immense ebon steeds, herding the argent-clad fighters into certain death. A feeling of hopelessness permeates the area as those in shining armor forever fight a battle they cannot win.
Obvious exits: north, south

Tarot: Low confidence. Possibly one of the knight cards, such as the Knight of Swords, crossed with a struggle card such as the Five or Seven of Wands.

Plane 4

(32) #12153:
[The Rift]
The garden about you is dead, as dead as the rubble of the castle it sits behind. Dead branches overhang the paths, their bark scorched and marred by deep gashes. Flowerbeds contain dried blossoms, trampled beneath a multitude of uncaring booted feet. Upon a cracked and battered pedestal resting in one of the flowerbeds rests a gold coin, still strangely bright.
Obvious paths: northeast, southeast

Tarot: Ace of Pentacles/Coins, Minor arcana.

(33) #12119:
[The Rift]
A knight in black armor rides through a crowd, his black steed prancing with ringing steps. In his hand he holds a staff, topped with the head of a vanquished foe. Five footsoldiers march beside him, holding similarly adorned staves. Despite the hard and cruel expression on the knight’s face, the crowd seems to adore him, cheering and throwing dead roses in his path.
Obvious exits: southeast, northwest

Tarot: Six of Wands, Minor arcana. (In between the two struggle cards, wreathed rider.)

(34) #12122:
[The Rift]
A white bier rests in the center of a copse of dead trees. Four swords stand about it, one at each corner. Resting upon the cold stone bed is a man. His grey hair is held back by a golden crown, and his beard flows down his broad chest. Upon the side of the stone is carved a set of characters. Most of the letters have been lost to time, leaving only “—r, K–g of -h- -od-.”
Obvious exits: southeast, northwest

Tarot: Four of Swords.

(35) #12146:
[The Rift]
Two crippled men, limbs horribly deformed and faces covered in pox, hobble past a grand cathedral. All about them the street is littered with the dead and dying, moaning and writhing in pain as the epidemic wracks their bodies. Glittering from the eaves of the church are five gold coins, casting golden motes of light upon the diseased men as if mocking their tortured existence.
Obvious exits: southwest, northwest

Tarot: Five of Pentacles/Coins.

(36) #12252:
[The Rift]
Walls comprised of stacked skulls rise into the starless black sky. The ground below seems to cradle you as you move, and a quick glance downward explains the reason. Skeletal hands make up the floor, reflexively clutching and releasing as the weight they carry shifts. In the center of the room stand three staves of tall femurs, bound together by still-bloody veins.
Obvious paths: east, southwest, northwest

Tarot: Low confidence. Could be the Three of Wands crossed with the Ten of Wands, or possibly the Three of Swords.

(37) #12157:
[The Rift]
A woman in a tattered shift, bound by strips of cloth and blindfolded tightly, staggers wearily up the beach. She walks a path lined by swords, four on each side. With each step she trips and fumbles, bouncing against the blades and cutting herself badly. Still she staggers on, seemingly unable to find her way out of the deadly steel trail.
Obvious paths: southwest, west, northwest

Tarot: Eight of Swords, more literal than the rolaren chains room.

(38) #12138:
[The Rift]
The dining hall is full of shadows, lit only dimly by guttering candles. Around the table sit nine skeletons, each holding a golden cup. The undead seem to be chatting, drinking from their chalices only to have the liquid flow out and over their ribcages. With a wave of disgust, you realize that the skeletons are drinking blood.
Obvious exits: northeast, southeast

Tarot: Presumably the Nine of Cups, which is about indulging in getting what you think you want.

(39) #12103:
[The Rift]
The wedding revel is in full swing. Men and women clad in bright attire swirl over the floor in a breathless dance beneath fluttering ribbons and sweet smelling flowers. Foods with mouthwatering aromas line the walls, served by smiling butlers in finely tailored clothing. At the head of the table sit the bride and groom, holding a golden cup to each other’s lips. By the advanced stages of decay, you estimate that the happy couple has been dead for several hundred years.
Obvious exits: northeast, southeast

Tarot: Two of Cups, Minor arcana.

(40) #12145:
[The Rift]
A fair-haired boy stands upon the battleground. His wounds are grievous, coating him in blood and gore. In his hands he holds a staff, fighting valiantly to hold off six men also armed with sharply pointed sticks. In a sweeping movement he overextends, falling to the ground with a cry of pain and frustration. As the first staff descends upon his head the scene fades, leaving you alone upon the field of war.
Obvious exits: northeast, southeast

Tarot: Seven of Wands, Minor arcana.

(41) #12248:
[The Rift]
The camp slumbers. All the soldiers rest soundly in their tents, and even the night sentries have dozed off, chins resting against their chests. As the seven guardsmen sleep, a man clad in a cloak bearing the symbol of the slumbering army creeps outside the camp, bearing the seven swords of the watchmen. He gives a nod towards a copse of trees, and out rides a raiding party, thundering into the unprotected camp.
Obvious paths: east, southwest, northwest

Tarot: Seven of Swords, Minor arcana.

(42) #12156:
[The Rift]
A stone basin sits in the center of the castle courtyard. Standing within it is a man, badly wounded, up to his knees in blood. The crimson liquid pours from his cuts, trickling into the pool with a happy sound reminiscent of a burbling fountain. He holds his hands above his head, as if bound by an invisible cord, although his face registers no emotion at all.
Obvious paths: northeast, west

Tarot: Low confidence. This could be the Hanging Man again.

(43) #12152:
[The Rift]
Rain pours from the molten lead sky, and winds whip the ocean into a froth of vicious foam. The waves crash against the rocky shore, upon which rest two immense harps. Entrails take the place of strings, and with each crash of the waves, the harps sing out in a wail of anguish and pain.
Obvious exits: southwest, west, northwest

Tarot: This one is not obvious. There is apparently an Arthurian deck where the Nine of Spears (Wands) shows two harps on either side of a rocky gorge.


I will not re-work all of the numbers. But the room I identified as Cerunnos has a tarot card in the Arthurian “Legend” deck. Other rooms will likely crack open looking at this and possibly other decks.

(44) Plane 1
[The Rift]
A wide stretch of forest opens before you, the huge border of trees giving the impression of stoic guards protecting their land and secrets. Packs of ghostly dogs run toward you at the will of a huge, antlered man commanding them at the forest border. His bony finger points to you, and the dark gleam in his eye tells you he will not allow passage further into the woods.
Obvious paths: east, south, west

Tarot: The Devil card analog in the “Legend” deck. The person writing this page does not know the Anwyn / Wild Hunt tie-in with Arthurian legend.