“I hate this Ramon DeLeon, barmy liar has brought many to their dooms! My brothers feel it’s in best interest to visit the bard, as well as his monastery friends in due time. I lack the muscle of some compatriots, but I can only hope my word craft and reason is enough to get this menace to stand down. And if he doesn’t, may his long ears be ripped off his head! Now, where’s my wine?” – Gerard Claude Dupois, Renardois-folk Lupin of Petite Renardie
Where’s a primer to go to learn all there is upon the planes? Why, to Sigil of course! And where from there? Well, competition has floundered in the claws of a beast named Ramon! His biased words paint a different story of the planes, bringing glory to some and chastisement to others. But, be assured there are far stranger truths than those cooked up by some hairball hacking mutant with a knack for storytelling. And within such stories, many things are best left alone. Because of his foolish idealism, a racial war begins to boil… not unlike that of the gith. But, enough tearing of one’s fake character. It’s time to explore the planes with a tighter focus and sense of scrutiny. Dare you discover what truly happens within realities beyond? Of course you do, that’s why you’re here!
Now, who might I be? Why, the Narrator, of course! Do you think I’m like the Editor? Because you shouldn’t! I’m far more charming and more elaborate. No cryptic absurdity here, only the upfront truth and the deepest of dark you can muster. Besides, he seems to have given the city the laugh for a while. Good for him, I say. You work hard, you eventually catch a break. So, why can’t you see me? Well, disclosing such information is dangerous. Surely, you can understand this. So, let us not waste too much time. Turbulence and conflict bubble and ooze around the cage, especially in these trying times. Methinks another age of upheaval is upon us. But, whose to say? I surely can’t, I’ve moved onto other business after ages of merc blood-work. But, onto other matters then.
Author’s Note: Yup, split post. Unrest still hovers over the greatest city in the multiverse. And as one can assume, not all like the traveling bard. Some think he’s a foul swindler even! But, what other stories can be told of the planes? Plenty, I can tell you! Also, I wanted to explore an even darker look at the fey. I don’t care for Disney takes on Faeries, give me gothic style aliens any day! And yes, it overtook the post. And once again, The Evil Dead inspired something for me to work with. In addition, we have strange elementals, trade war, a sentient astral pocket and a drifting piece of New Jersey! Also, as the name might imply, one of my greatest inspirations for Planescape content is the Grimjack/Mundens/Cynosure universe. Science-fantasy hodgepodge, multiversal antics, a grim mercenary tone often used, lots of it already felt Planescape, even if it predates the setting by around a decade.
The Fair Exceptions and Typical Sylvan Encounters, Wyld Kingdom (and Beyond)
As it would turn out, much of Ramon’s detailing of the fey are filled with misinterpretation and propaganda. The fey are too alien to pigeonhole into a singular mindset. Likewise, they view Primes and even many Planars as aliens, too detached from their methods and thinking. We are the uncanny and immoral to them, thus why many react in fear to us as well. What was documented were likely exceptions willing to work with other beings or perhaps exploit them for personal gain. For starters, almost all Fae are terrifying for different reasons. Bewitching alien beauty, incomprehensible mindsets, mind shredding ugliness and madness beyond compare. These are but some things that make up the ways of the fair folk. To know more is to dig deeper. Let me be your humble guide. Of course, be careful what you hear, for a spell may be put upon you. These are forces beyond your understanding, but you may very well try anyway. Please, come with me.
Even within the relative planar safety of The Cage, the fair folk are well known for their crimes against the multiverse. Many advocates will cry out that stereotypes leads to targeted and hateful violence. Well, explain how so many kidnappings, slave markets and heinous acts of depravity often go back to them? Plus, the Unseelie has recently embedded into the deepest depths of the Cross Trade. In many ways, they were built for it. Even the Seelie and other courts have their own eldritch agendas that they bring into Sigil. The Green Mill has since inspired other businesses that are beguiling, figuratively or literally, to visitors. Often this can result in some harmless gag. Other times, a mundane or especially primer visitor will wander out not knowing who they are for several days. Perhaps they’ve been peeled of their jink pile and have been charmed into realizing nothing happened. And even for those who don’t find them peery, their whole day can be turned upside down and just on a whim. In fact, one basher who went into a sylvan abode found themselves literally walking upside down, hovering off the roads as their head just lightly lifted away from the ground.
The Big Points of the Matter is that the Fae are raw chaos, just not as we understand it. Try to scrag ’em, they’ll just give you the laugh and flutter away. Try to reason and price juggle, you’ll get a deal unlike any other or the worst stairway robbery you’ve ever seen! Scholars of their ilk are barmy, absolutely! And those who visit them? They’ll often get the sanitized version, with lingering glamor and hexes upon them to use as unwitting servants. Accidental emissaries appear in the droves, those enamored by sylvan charms and weavings of the art. The weird bastards can’t always affect the masses. Cold Iron not only chops up their being, it can alter their abilities. It’s no reason that they loathe that so-called “bathysphere” that was plunked down into the Lower Ward one nice day. Between you and I, they might send a proxy thanks to the “revolution” barmies from a similar world. And from there? BOOOM! Blow the bloody thing up! They fey hate technology, arcane or not, but if it can be used to advance their goals… Well, they turn eye and whistle of course! Frank-Frank the two headed wonder better duck out of sight, if he knows what’s good for him though. Plenty of the overgrown bugs and abominations know when to play their cards though, the Docker’s Catch has succeeded as a way point to Faeriespace as it is.
But, I spoke too much on The Cage. It’s home, it’s the center and you primer berks better respect it! But, what of elsewhere. Tons to speak of. The Unseelie Court is the place of true nightmares. Many victims who wander in are usually slain by The Queen of Air and Darkness personally, that or made into her minions. Those who escape suffer almost as dearly. Even the Seelie have a dark side to them, as many critics cite them as advocates for genocide across the planes… unlike anything ever seen, worse than a spilled over Blood War! Even the unaligned courts have their bad touches. Antorek was a collaboration between a hate-filled lord of dragons and mad fey who want to make victims into their wild play things. Loathsome fair giants aren’t against smearing rivals’ innards across the lands to both warn and create a brutal aesthetic. Dreams are held in the balance by two maniacal mind powers who could consume all sleepers should they defeat their other.
Enough generalities. You seek specifics! You seek the deepest dark to throw the hottest sips upon the deserving. Oh, fear not, basher! You have found good company. Miss Marshy Maw sounds like a children’s fable character. Oh how wrong you are. She’s a foul sylvan ogre who jumps from the Autumn faerie realms into almost any swamp in the Prime Material with the snap of her fingers. She loves impersonating, if not mentally controlling, all sorts of boggy beasts. In the end, it’s an effort to wear her prey out before she grabs them, drags them off plane and cooks them up for supper. Within the Wyld Kingdom, she is ironically a renowned cook known for working in “exotic meats”. I’ve witnessed good chums get captured by her, only to follow her back to witness a banquet of horrors. She isn’t the only foul fey I’ve seen in travel.
Radiance Resplendence is a creature that associates with the Seelie Court, with behavior at times befitting the Unseelie. They are decadent and self-absorbed, always worrying if their appearance and abilities are good enough. Should they see an outsider, they’ll ask if they look good. Depending on their mood, they’ll grasp the outsider and flood them with burning light. As the poor addle-cove is vaporized, this will prove that Radiance still has it after all and they go about their day magically uplifted. However, this one has a weakness. Ignoring the glowing creature will at first spark anger, but ultimately they are doomed to leave you alone. As has been said before, the methods and motives of the fey are truly confounding to and incompatible with the minds of primers and even most planars. But, this Radiance does not try to be malicious with its murderous mayhem, it’s simply a creature of chaotic accidents.
Mother of the Ground is a fey who has embraced the deepest corruptions of nature itself. She was a devotee to the would-be dragon god who fell from grace and ultimately fell into The Mists. Mother of the Ground is just as loyal as she was when her heretical leader traveled the planes. However, disconnect with her obsession has left her progressively more disturbing. She has since become interested in making “her own nature”, a mind-twisting disfigurement that pushes the natural into pseudo-natural eldritch horror. For the time being, she has been confined by a mixture of Seelie and Wyld Fey into The Abyss. However, the Unseelie is truly inspired by her work and seeks to free her. Few understand the abominations and atrocities she would be responsible for if let out.
Saltador, Gentleman of the Ball, is perhaps one of the most heinous. He always materializes as a friendly and well dressed dandy, always greeting someone at their lowest point. This can also be when their chosen target is already a victim of the fey. From there, he invites them to shake his hand, binding part of a contract. This leads to him offering an escape from sorrow into joy, as he opens a portal into a vibrant masquerade. Saltador then whisks the victim into a musical fantasy, whether or not they join him in dance. However, as this ends, he brings them to a beautiful room. Should they enter, they become another of his “loves”. All of them are trapped, ageless and devoid of the need to eat, drink or sleep. However, all they can do is be watched by The Gentleman as he commands them to dance for him one more time. Your only release is offering a hand in marriage, in which you are by his side at almost all times. Your mind is gone, your soul is gone, you are just there and you are with him. His following entourage tends to reflect this, zombie-like and either gazing at him or off into the void.
Papillon Obsidian is not a single being, but a hivemind. While not a necromancer, they take a morbid delight in hijacking and overtaking corpses to do its bidding. The Papillon materializes with a number of shimmering black butterflies. These seek and and attack to dead bodies, before merging into them and possessing them. Like demons or necromantic spells, their zombies rise. However, the butterflies sample memories and can act intelligently with their hijacked body. Often, they’ll use memories to taunt and abuse victims as they use their host to deal supernaturally powered attacks. Strength and speed in the host also increase, in addition to the unnatural intellect brought to the dead. However, make no mistake, any wit and charm is from the fey parasite itself. Sometimes, they’ll just have their zombie host body act erratically, displaying impossible and magical feats to shock and scare victims of their choice. While it has great trouble, it’s possible for a butterfly to takeover a living creature, turning it into another papillon puppet.
Foul Rift, Ethereal Demiplane
Foul Rift was the name of an unincorporated community beside a plot of land called “White, New Jersey” in the nation of The United States of America. Severe floods ultimately devastated the first incarnation in the earliest years of the 21st century. Attempts to rebuild only came to fruition well after the apocalypse in the dimensional timeline known as “Gamma Gothica”. Among settlements, Foul Rift was one that received very little change from its older incarnation. Classic traditions throughout the 19th and 20th century maintained themselves alongside new wonders and horrors of the 21st into 22nd centuries. Riverside agriculture resurfaced, as the people of the land adapted to supernatural horrors attempting to prey on the clusters of cottages. The River Mayor Tavern, in particular, became something of a safe shelter. Consecrated by a priest and the site of the eponymous “mayor’s” grand speech about a “last stand” amidst World War III, the place is a mysterious sacred site. Things of pure evil cannot enter the establishment, even if it sells “the devil’s juice” or alcohol. Or should that not work, one could easily take to the river tunnels below in search of quick and dark shelter. An unofficial night market has emerged there, a means of sharing all means of strange and illicit acquisitions. In the end, these problems made the residents want to truly be left along, to be among their own and not worry about a changing world either.
The Radiant Evil, dark force that surveys this grim parody of Earth, was happy to oblige the plans of this community. But, rather than giving them an easy way out, the entity thought it would be more fun to encapsulate the settlement and shove it off into the Ethereal plane to flounder in panic as its own demiplane. Lost and alone, the community was sent into panic. The chunk of land surrounding the town was magically lifted away, as a large body of water now surrounds it as an island that gives way to the ethereal beyond. While they had the glories of enchanted 22nd century dark technology, it could only sustain them so long in the alien reality. Caught within a pocket of reality, seclusion gives way to true horror. Dreadful things that travel this strange reality have found their way into the once quiet town. Poorly equipped and out of their league, it’s only a matter of time till the oddly named community falls like many before it. Of course, should a planewalker stumble upon the anachronistic demiplane, they might be of good use to the confused citizens of Foul Rift. On the bright side, this dimensional pocket was not fully consumed by the Demiplane of Dread at least. Or at least, not yet, as no dark champion has stepped forth.
The Thinking Dominion of Lord Brainstorm, Astral Plane
A terrible name for a brilliant mage’s hideaway. This astral secret holds a repository of knowledge. However, its means of doing so is a little odd. You see, the mage that became Brainstorm was once a human. However, age made him concerned about mortality. And so, he began to magically experiment on himself. While he had no desire to become an undead creature, like the vile Lich, he did desire some form of immortality. Something either way extremely wrong or all too right, as his body crumbled away and a magically preserved brain traveled into the Astral Plane. This mad experiment did not end there, for the energies of the plane continued this augmentation process. As it siphoned more knowledge from the planes, it began to grow. The Brain used various tether points it could find in the domain and even regain a sense of consciousness and awareness. Even without eyes, it can sense all around it for what an astral traveler might call “knots” or some other wildly inaccurate term. The massive brain, the size of massive meteoric chunks in wildspace, bobs and hovers. But, it knows you’re there. This living brain is aware of visitors coming far away.
But, unlike most creatures, it isn’t completely hostile. In fact, the brain wants to learn all it can from anything that comes close enough. Even without a mouth, strange psychic developments allow it substitute out movements, speech and components with other manifestations to allow it to cast various spells. While initially friendly, the brain cannot stand rudeness or even an unwillingness to cooperate. Its namesake comes in the form of psychic lightning when angered. To the brain, refusal to cooperate is an attempt to stall the exchange of knowledge and therefore a deep sin. Those who do what the brain asks can possibly be freed a moment later or kept as subjects to mine for as much information as possible. As a quasi-immortal being, it has no concept of time or basic needs. More than once, the brain has caused a captive to waste away without intending to. Any connection to humanity is long since gone, even the magic’s original name.
Now, why would you ever want to visit a barmy giant brain? Well, it holds a vast amount of secrets thought lost to the multiverse. Even details on forbidden and taboo things, it can offer to share. Likewise, should one want to learn of a civilization thought lost, the brain can help. Of course, to exchange for this, one must put up with the tasks it gives out. Often this comes from having one endlessly ramble about any facts and opinions that the hovering astral horror may not already know. Often, it is not aware of when its “collection” is unhappy due to the aforementioned severing of humanity, including empathy and many essential aspects of the soul. What is left is this cold and rational organ that only sees its goals and little else. Everything else is a distraction, everything else isn’t worth the time… the endless time.
Great Planar Trade Conflict
Lots of guilds, companies, ventures and monetary projects exist on the planes. Trade has spread to Inner and Outer planes alike. There is no place that capital can’t touch. Marvelous, isn’t it? Only the most addle-coved would not be inclined to agree, as coin is king and the subject has much power through it! Balking ideologues and jealous rioters protest against this wonder of the multiverse. All the same, many are quick to point out that there is no such unity through the coin, but disjointed fracture. Well, why should we blame jink and then some for raw squabbles that have always existed and emerged throughout history. It’s just the nature of civilization and its children since the first huts popped up on the Prime or beyond. But, we are not here to focus on the naysayers or praise the joys of trade. Rather, we’re here to examine the many groups who do not get along. After all, why should rivals enjoy each others’ company? To assume peace between venues and dealers is to ignore history in countless other situations. But enough talk, conflict speaks instead!
Gnomish craft guilds of high artifice and wonder, it’s a shame that they can’t all get along. Among those who don’t get along are the Iron Coil Team and Steam Craft Enterprise. Through use of both spelljammer and modified “planejammer”, each attempt to out compete each other across reality. Some have relied on both mercenaries and pirates to either raid or destroy rival caches. While none aspire to literally kill competition, they seek to simply impede or sabotage it. But, should a few heads roll, it’ll be written off as an unfortunate incident and not be given too much attention. While color pools exist in the Astral and elemental vortexes can be used as well, the Lightning Conduit is a phenomenon for those who have adjusted. And for those in the know, it’s something of a Phlogiston for Inner Planes travelers looking quick access between the Inner Planes and even The Prime. Known as The Road of Zeus, magical chariots and fortified planejammers have used it as a rapid speed means of travel to and from portals. In fact, some have made detours through the Lightning plane for this purpose. As the Steam plane does not have this boon, the Steam Craft team is green with envy, both pushing their own research to the limit and finding ways to make lightning-savvy vehicles malfunction. More than once, a jammer or planes craft has exploded from their tampering. Likewise, the steam machines have overheated and exploded from just the right wedged foil in the cog work. Things need not be this destructive even. Acts of hired mercenaries and pirates have lead to stolen and destroyed goods. Sometimes, retrieved goods grant their thugs reimbursement. The rival powers’ motives? Why stealing designs and reverse engineering for their own side, of course!
They aren’t the only ones. Tons of Planars are getting tired of the rising overlap with arcane space based merchants and sales, the rush of exotic goods from this chunk of the prime has cut into other businesses. Many are more than willing to do something about it. Some under the vision and under the table dealings have begun in response, thanks to sponsorship from the Planarists. The Intrusion Specialist Corps are trained planars readied to contend with a wayward band from Wildspace and beyond. They’ve taken to use forms of magic and magical technologies built around “anti air offense”. Many of these techniques and methods can make many a spelljammer and the like plummet to a splintering crash. While the corps is deadly and well trained, they are not numerous and do not have roving eyes upon the planes. But, when they appear, those sailing have a short window to turn back and escape. Some have taken more cautious methods, in an effort to seize cargo and dispose of other evidence. Many of these agents are interested in contraband, having gone rogue. In fact, many of the spoils have leaked onto black markets across plane and prime alike. The more audacious have taken to arcane space itself to sell off their trophies. Despite the trouble that the Docker’s Catch has gotten into many occasion, they claim to be in the right when it comes to tracking down the killers and thieves.
Elemental Oddities, Inner Planes
Six-Armed Billy is an Earth elemental with an affinity for outlanders. One of their strengths in molding and expanding space around the endless ground mass throughout the plane. More than anything, they enjoy rescuing and aiding adventurers found upon the plane. Is this an act of friendship? Not entirely, more so an act of curiosity and obsession. To Billy, primers and non-elemental planars are fancy animals to play with and treat nicely. In some instances, Billy will coax adventurers to follow them into a larger lair, in hopes that the outlanders will stay as pets of sorts. Rejection is not taken lightly, as the elemental will try to suppress and impede the escapees… but not too hard. However, should immense pain be put upon the fleeing guest, the elemental will feel deep regret and let their captive go. If asked about their name, Billy will point out that they have six arms and that “Billy is I”. The origin of the name Bill is unknown, perhaps a name given by another adventurer.
In the plane of water, an aquatic abomination seeks to be the epitome of water life. The Aquatic Convergence is an elemental creature that seeks to harvest any watery creature and add their features to it. Such a massive thing is hard to describe and terrifying to look at, describable as an eldritch horror. However, it is non-interested in life that isn’t remotely aquatic. To the Convergence, it is a distraction to hopefully ignore. For things of a more damp nature, it will view them as something to collect, pull apart and take inspiration from. The Convergence views itself as an artist of sorts, augmenting and perfecting a gradually more beautiful form. However, any conveyance and portrayal or beauty is absolutely alien from monster standards. Likewise, facing this elemental being is a deadly and quickly overwhelming task.
The Spiraling Serpent is a creature that could be a coatl, but it isn’t… It very much isn’t. Instead it is a crazed air elemental that envies the celestial being. In fact, the serpent hates other elemental creatures of air to an extent of ludicrous racism. The creature isolates itself in whatever pockets it can form through other drifting samples of other elements. Having gone mad from self-loathing and isolation, it often lashes out against visitors. However, those who exude a certain celestial quality to them gain its favor. Often this won’t end too well, as the taint of evil has seeped into the creature after being so driven by hatred and wrath. While it is still neutral, this will not last for long unless aided. And should this happen, the serpent’s next encounter with a celestial may be the last.
The Void Belly Beast isn’t the only abnormality to visit the Plane of Fire. The Infernal Invoker, while not a creature of the layers of hell, is still at terrifying enigma to haunt the plane of fire. It is said that this vaguely humanoid entity originated from Sigil. A well established pyromancer, he one day discovered one beyond even his abilities. This infamous character was none other than the macabre mascot of the Smoldering Corpse Bar, Ignus. The sheer rush and joy seen on this charred body carried as a conduit through the Plane of Fire inspired the seemingly nameless mage. He desired that and more. Taking to a hidden Ethereal enclave, he experimented with dimensional binding and harnessing raw elemental force. In the end, he accidentally channeled an Astral Color Pool. Something backfired, horribly. He was sucked in and bonded with the energies of the plane itself as he exploded and fused with raw elemental essence. The pain and masochistic euphoria reshaped the soul of the maniacal mage into an entity of raw flame and madness. Meanwhile, his body crumbled into nothing but ashes. While bound to the plane itself, the Invoker shuffles and hovers its way to any non-fire based creature to share his epiphany into the depths of madness. More often than not, his victims die horribly.
IMAGE CREDIT: John Ostrander – Mundens/Grimjack; Artur Mósca – Scary Fairy; BlooM Team – BlooM Demo; The Brain from Planet Arous – The Great Brain; 20000 Leagues Above the Clouds – Concept Work; Unknown – Fiery Skull