The Setting – The Liminal Zone

Characters from every setting are invited to the Wellspring Inn, a place located in a distant nether-realm which has been termed, by those who first arrived there, the Liminal Zone. The Liminal Zone (“the LZ”) is more akin to the Bermuda Triangle than a ‘nexus’ of universes like Sigil. Characters are more likely to arrive through confusing or mysterious circumstances than to do so intentionally, although the latter is not unheard of.

Conditions within the LZ differ depending on who arrives first. In this instance travellers will arrive on a ship in the middle of a seemingly endless and relatively placid ocean, Panthalassa. Sunrise and sunset in the LZ occur on a similar schedule to the equatorial Pacific Time Zone during the same time period, and the weather is always crisply cool and dry with a light breeze.

The Wellspring Inn

The Wellspring Inn is located at the center of a forest of white oak on the flat upper deck of a large ship. Autumn colors have stained the forest a brilliant spectacle of red and white leaves. A well beaten trail runs underneath an ivy-covered wooden trellis then up to the front of the inn. It is typical for characters to arrive underneath the trellis, the Ivy Gate. They may also arrive elsewhere in the forest or even be dumped into the ocean, although anyone who drifts too far away from the ship will find themselves back at the Ivy Gate in short order.

The Inn itself is a roughly circular wooden structure with a couple rectangular expansions off the first floor. The smaller second story rests atop the first in the middle of a gently sloped roof of wooden tiles, and is capped by a conic roof with a weather vane. A large brick chimney hugs the edge of the second story and pierces the roof over the first floor. While the inn looks traditional enough from a distance, from up close there are some obviously modern anachronisms present, such as a plastic rain collector, covered outlets, and a green garden hose connected to a faucet.

On the first floor (#Multiverse) there is a large circular island in the center of the room, the back half of of the island are the stairs leading to the second floor and the front half is a semicircular bar area. There are stools at the bar, booths against the outer wall, and tables throughout the room. To the left is a large circular fireplace, free standing in the middle of the room, which may be of use in escaping the somewhat chilly fall air. The inn itself is centrally heated.

The bar features a beer tap with a selection of 4 different craft beers from North Carolina, an espresso machine, and most of the middle and top-shelf liquors one would find in the United States in the 21st century. Aside from a few well-known tavern staples, the menu is similarly Anglocentric. The bartender appears from a distance to be an elven woman, but on closer examination is some manner of animated doll. She seems relatively inept and unused to having customers, and is especially terrible as a barista.

The entire establishment is electrically lit with low-wattage incandescent fixtures at a color temperature of 2700K, which is a little cooler than the deep yellow hue of candlelight. North American Type B power sockets are available in various locations throughout, and especially along the outer wall and bar. There is 4G/5G cellular service and wifi, but, obviously, no connection to external networks. There are flush speakers mounted at various inconspicuous points in the walls, but they mostly lay silent.

Other Rooms Inside The Inn

Upstairs, patrons may find a more quiet and cozy setting (#Multiverse-Upstairs) appropriate for more intimate conversations. A dumbwaiter there leads down to the bar on the first floor and the kitchen in the ‘basement.’ There is also another fireplace, against the wall, sharing a chimney with the one on the first floor.

On the first floor, there is a set of swinging doors in the back which contains the Orrery (#Multiverse-Orrery), a few tables and chairs, and a small stage. The Orrery allows patrons to view and comment upon the adventures taking place elsewhere in the Liminal Zone. The stage in the Orrery room may also be used for skits, shows, and so on.

In a corridor off of the first floor to the right are a small selection of classical inn-style rooms. All currencies are accepted. A door at the end of this hall is a portal to the conning tower, in which there is a floor of additional hotel-style rooms. The rooms provided here are roughly equivalent to a three-star hotel, and some of them offer a nice view of the whole setting or the Panthalassic Ocean to starboard, depending on their position around the ring.

There are also bathrooms of an entirely modern sort, in separate rooms to the left and right off the main floor. The symbols for male and female adorning the two entrances are presumed to be comprehensible across dimensions. The Inn staff will occasionally refer to them as heads. They even have bidets. The bathrooms do not have a channel of their own.

Outside The Inn

On the left hand side, there is a glass door leading to a wooden deck (#Multiverse-Patio) which opens to the forest (#Multiverse-Forest). A stream passes behind the inn here, a few paces away from the deck, flowing with clear and pure springwater over a sandy bed. This water is, oddly, of a markedly superior taste and quality than what is available from the Inn proper, which is almost certainly desalinated seawater. Though the stream can be easily stepped over, there is a small arched bridge with wooden hand rails.

Even a short walk in any direction will confront the walker with one of three sights: a piece of plywood with a matte painting on it of a forest background, the edge of the upper deck opening to the featureless ocean Panthalassa 60 feet below, or a giant metallic building rising directly from the moss of the forest green. Characters from Earth may recognize the apparently crewless ghost ship as the USS Enterprise (CVN-80), or at least an aircraft carrier of some stripe, with its flight deck hosting a fantastical inn and surroundings in lieu of aircraft. Sailors or others with a nautical bent may estimate the speed of the ship at 20 knots based on the wake. The wind over the forest on deck is intermittent, variable, and vastly less than it should be based on the ship speed, and it remains that way for so long that it couldn’t simply be due to the ship sailing with the wind. An American flag flying high over the conning tower doesn’t seem to be subject to this mysterious wind-barrier.

There is a well-beaten path that rings around the whole of the deck. In the foredeck, before the deck tapers to where the catapults would be, is a small pond. Atop the afterdeck is a bald and rocky mound with an unobstructed viewpoint of the whole world as it is: the extent of the forest, the matte paintings on the port rail, the Wellspring Inn, and the looming conning tower. Observers searching for land will always be disappointed, even though the ship is moving continually forward.

A freshwater spring on the side of the rocky mound (“the hill”) empties into a stream which runs the length of the ship and empties into the pond. From there the stream runs off the edge of the ship to port, although the matte painting there shows it continuing in the distance. After winding around the rocky mound, the path continues back to the Inn amidships. Aside from the mound and the depression of the pond, the topography of the whole forest is generally level and resembling a floodplain. Astute observers will understand there is a two foot drop in elevation from stern to bow, and a slight upward bias outboard along the edges.

The Patio opens to the side without the matte-paintings, and as such the ocean is visible through the tree line. The gray conning tower is also visible from here, off to the right.

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