Estimated Population: 10,000 (reported as less in some volumes)
The Town: The most perfect and ordered burg in the Outlands, Automata seems more like a machine than a living place. Inside its rectangular walls, the city’s laid out as clean as a cartographer’s study.
The town’s a perfect grid; it’d take a leatherhead to get lost here. The buildings look like they were stamped by the same hand, and places are made different only where needed (for example, a stable has larger entrances than a tavern). Buildings rise up one to four stories, but each story’s always 12 feet tall and carved of the same shining, grey-red stone. Bits of colour in a sign or awning liven the place up a bit, but that’s all got to be cleared by the Council of Order (see “The Hoi Polloi”).
All businesses of a like type set up on the same block. A body can’t run a tavern in a lodging block, but he can open that same tavern across the street in an entertainment block. ‘Course, this means there’s a half-dozen smithies within a hammer’s throw of each other, but a sod in a mansion might have a long walk to the nearest greengrocer.
The Gate: In the middle of the town sits the Gate to Mechanus, in a block all by itself. The gate’s a great disk on its side, a turning, toothed gear. Travellers to Mechanus hop up on the disk and disappear. Where they come out depends on the time of day, the position of the disk, and probably a lot of other arcane factors. The government’s got a whole building of accountants, calculators, and computers (the old-fashioned, humanoid type) who work at figuring out where the gate’ll drop a body at any particular time.
The gate’s surrounded by government buildings, with a wide exit spireward. This exit, Modron Way, is for the modrons who regularly spill out of the gate and start their long march around the Outlands. The march is called the Procession or the Modron March, but only Primus, the lord of the modrons, knows the true dark of it. The gate’s well guarded during the day to stop travellers and other barmies from just jumping on. To be cleared for gate travel, a body’s got to fill out stacks of forms in a number of different offices (‘course, the offices all look the same, but that’s Automata for you). Night-time, though, when the law says folks should be sleeping, only a few guards watch over the gate. That’s when most cutters try and sneak into the plane f ultimate law.
The Populace: most of the natives are either petitioners of law or folks (both planars and primes) who hope to profit from them. There are lots of humans, elves, and other mortal races, but few Halfling, hin, gnomes, or kinder. Once in a while a body’ll run across a baatezu or archon in town on business for its lord. And there are always modrons – working, exploring, and marching off here and there for their own reasons.
The petitioners in town are easy to mark. They stick to a common uniform (currently, a red-gray robe of ankle length, bound with a white sash). “One dress, one mind,” they like to say, figuring it’ll help them make Automata so lawful that it slides right into Mechanus. Other planars and some primes tend to garb themselves in flashier colours.
Smart cutters can probably guess which faction’s the strongest in town: the Fraternity of Order (or, in common chant, the Guvners). These bashers’ve got the bureaucracy of Automata in a stranglehold; they fill all low- and mid-level posts. Berks who play games with the laws of the town get marked by the Guvners, and they’ve been playing games with the laws a lot longer.
The Hoi Polloi: the high-ups in town are the three members of the Council of Order – they hold the ultimate legitimate power. The Council’s made up of Captain Arstimis, a githzerai fighter of the town guard; Pelnis the Clockmaker, a human representing the craftsmen; and Sersfil, a teifling and priestess of Lei Kung, who represents the temple districts. Officially, nothing can get done in town without their nods.
Mirroring the Council of Order is the Council of Anarchy, also with three seats. This council’s made up of a githzerai criminal named Legis Scrog, a female human vagrant named Ravis Corcuncewl, and a baatezu erinyes called Aurach the Fair. They rule the night and the mysterious Underworld (see “Local Sites”), and, without their nods, nothing illegal gets done in town.
Local Sites: Most travellers will find that Automata gives ‘em the yawn. Outside of the gate to Mechanus and its surrounding governmental offices, the town’s a collection of blocks assigned to lodging, entertainment, industry, crafts, and more government.
Things’re more interesting in the Underground. It’s a secret city of chaos lurking beneath the clean, precise streets of order. Twisted passageways, hiding hols, concealed lairs, forbidden temples – it’s got all the darkness and unrest swept down from the world above. Here the Council of Anarchy rules, and anything’s fair game. Fact is, many planars support the place. If they didn’t, Automata would be so pure that it would’ve washed into the clockwork plane long ago.
A cutter with jink to throw around can find natives who know ways to get down below. As a public service, though, one entrance is well known. The back of McGuvol’s Stabling Establishment has a cast-iron circular staircase leading downward. It’s sealed during daylight hours, but it gives the Clueless and other first-timers an easy way into the Underground. The bad news is that the stairs are watched by the proxies of Primus and other forces of law, and sods who come and go are marked.
Current Chant: A local explorer named Loctus has reported a hill to the north that just suddenly appeared, a hill he says is “growing, like a hive or a boil.” Make that said, because the bubber’s since disappeared, and the bureaucracy denies and responsibility for his fate.