I’ve been in chats with the fine creators at Mistfactor Press, a group effort to properly update the Ravenloft Campaign Setting for the D&D 5th Edition DM’s Guild. Despite my misgivings towards the current edition, they’ve done a fantastic job and are more than deserving of a look over. They’ve even made 400 page volumes examining said domains in great detail. By all means, consider at least the digital copies. You can find more on their user page, looking under Van Richten’s Encyclopedia of Darklords and Domains.
And with the project leader’s permission, I’m also helping to launch an effort to convert mechanics to 2nd and 3rd Editions. This will only cover things not found in each respective edition, not the entirety of the books (as much of Volume 1 alone can be found in each respective edition). Furthermore, this project will not include any lore that isn’t tied into the mechanics somehow (such as the Darklord’s curses). And as a slight disclaimer, this project is not meant to take away energy or success from Mistfactor, but only help to spread interest and attention by opening the gates to classic fans who might not otherwise be interested in 5th Edition. Stay tuned as always, including for Threshold Mystara Magazine #29. This too will involve Ravenloft.
“Don’t worry, I have more to offer. After all, this trade appeases my true master. So, just as before, present your trade.”
Rustling into your pockets, you feel crumpled pieces of parchment, a cold sweat drips from your fingers to nearly stain the hidden papers. You realize what else you can offer, things far more taboo than prior offerings. Hesitant, you remove your clenched hand to reveal more documents. The scribe taps his fingers, quietly chortling to himself in dark glee. “Ah, now there we go. I’m a man of my word. When you deliver good content, I will supply far more. Ready yourself, more things we prepare for here within our great Darkon.”
Author’s Note: My first set of rumors and happenings were enjoyed, let me craft some more. For the time being, there is no marked time on the Barovian Calendar. As an aside, this isn’t my first reference to the Prisoners of the Mist server for Neverwinter Nights. My hints of Gundarakite rebellion took notes from there too. I should really get back into that, it was good fun!
Well met, primers! Oh, I mean, friends. When in Sigil, do as the Cagers do. You’ll have to forgive such tone, being a long time resident, myself. I’ll spare you little in The Cant, the strange dialect of the city. But please, blame me not if a bit of it leaks into my mannerisms and speech. You see, Sigil is a place unlike many others. The anomalous city hovers inside of a ring-like formation that floats just above the peak of the Outlands Spire. While the spire is quiet dangerous, especially to forces of the supernatural; these threats don’t necessarily affect those who make it here. But, these are replaced by a trove of new potential dangers. After all, this is the meeting place of the multiverse. So, let us take our journey into that wondrous center of countless realities. I speak of none other than Sigil, the City of Doors.
It has been far too long since I’ve actively returned home. Too much has happened, including the scrambling of reality itself! Thanks to that strange man in the machine cart, I’m here now though. With any luck, that fading city found its peace too. In the meantime, I’ve found mine. Of course, both dangers and delights line the streets, so one must always stay aware of their surroundings. And if you are from the Prime, do your best to not look too lost. Too many prey on “The Clueless”, whether through scams or more direct means.
Author’s Note: Good old City of Doors! Few things have inspired me more within the realm of D&D than Planescape. That setting has affected me when I tinker with other systems too! And by all means, Sigil is a center of that. So, here are a number of ideas that have come up either through various games or just ideas of my own. And, it was from said games that the Gamma World/Planescape crossover ideas spawned. Also, please pardon the fact that a tropical storm knocked out my power for a few days. My data wouldn’t even let me use my phone to edit things. Time to save up for a generator, right?
The Inner Planes provides a host of habitats, sites and niches; all teaming with all means of elemental lifeforms… and not-so-lifeforms. These creatures exist to feed, fight and survive in their respect realms; some on a level more intelligent than others. Among these more intelligent organisms, alien parallels to society exist within their respective home planes; drawn from the motifs and energies of the equally respective plane. Some thrive from mixtures of the elements; some are new creations, while emerge from calamities that clear the way for something new. From what I understand, natural scholars refer to this as a “secondary succession” of sorts.
Author’s Note: I wanted to do a fair number of things, since it’s been a while. I haven’t done much in terms of mechanics, even beyond D&D 5th Edition and onto other games. I’ve been rereading Cyberpunk 2020, in part because it somehow feels more relevant in some ways than it did all those years ago. Granted, there’s enough 3rd party and custom stuff from a 25 Yr.+ range to never warrant me making my own things. Anyway, I’d rather keep these little blips pertaining to the page itself rather than personal gripes and issues.
If the Positive Energy Planes were a delight, then surely the Negative Energy Planes will be just as delightful… But really, one cannot describe the planes without a fuller picture. So, keep your life sources handy, as this is a place devoid of them.
Author’s Note: Okay, that about wraps things up. With that, I’m gonna try to tackle some monsters! I would have made a list for the Upper Planes, but I’ve already tackled a fair number of celestials. Also, I might just convert all of the Guardinals later, perhaps for a DM’s Guild related thing. Though, I want to port over my take on the Gehreleths/Demodands too… Maybe at some point?
We have discussed all of this talk about fusion planes, however we have neglected two very influential and prominent parts of the Inner Planes, the Positive and Negative planes; forces of literal life and death. And, as you’d expect, they too have their own alterations of the various planes beyond. Travel forth if you dare, to witness lively and deathly versions of the elemental planes you know so well.
Author’s Note: I had to push things back. I was gonna do a huge list of elemental things, and probably have a bunch of monsters by now. But, I haven’t had the extra energy in me. Plus, I’ve already referenced plenty of canon and custom monsters in previous posts, so that helps. At the very least, with this one finished, I can create a bunch of cool elemental/inner planes themed monsters! My own Planescape Monstrous Appendix III of sorts, if you will! One last note, I have Negative Energy stuff split off into another post too. Don’t worry, I’ll pop up a few days later. I just needed to break things up… It might prove to be a better format, to be honest. And as always, classical and popular culture are mined and bastardized for idea fodder.
The search for all that the elements have to offer continues. To put things simply, the elemental planes converge into their own realms of sorts. These fusions act as elemental planes in their own rights, the para-elemental as they are known. In addition, I can’t help but research some hypothetical planar fusions that come up in various lectures and notes across the planes. Someone’s idea of a practical joke? A sinister piece of the chant? Who knows? Either way, there is knowledge to find!
Author’s Note: The Inner Planes. Yeah, you gotta stretch the imagination a bit. All the same, I hope this thought exercise proves you can mold something out of a tough template. Hopefully, you’ll find some inspiration too. Though, not necessarily references to say /tg/ classic lore, DOOM or Warhammer or many other things either. Also, shout out to The Pathology Guy, whose take on the Inner Planes has been a large inspiration for me.
Circling the prime are realms where natural life is abundant, even the opposite is present too! This is the circle of the Inner Planes. Looping forms of elements dancing endlessly, the fabric of natural matter locked in a glorious display. So, why not explore them? A novel idea, and what better host for such an adventure? If I do say so, myself. Follow my mad scribblings and even madder musings as we quest to see the workings of the Inner Planes, uncovering many secrets and hidden goodies along the way.
A word of warning, many of the inner planes are truly primal. You feared the forces of the Outer Planes, but many of these are broken into base primordial essences. And no, I don’t mean like Primordium; such a strange place is still rather dangerous in its own right. I talk of the place that gave the inspiration to build Primordium in the first place! It’s amazing how something so simple can be so awe inducing. To me, those are the Elemental Planes. Let us not dally. Admittedly, my venture to the Upper Planes lasted quite a while, the better part of many primer yearly calendars. So, do stay close and protect yourself against the correct force, one of many elemental vortexes are just a jump away!
Author’s Note: Before we continue, because I don’t say it enough, a big thanks to Todd Stewart for being a huge inspiration. His work in pathfinder’s planar content gets a nod from me partially because of it! While I doubt I’ll ever really jump back to Paizo, I can appreciate the work the some of the people over there are doing. Besides, I’m more so feeling Cyberpunk 2020 or one of many other seemingly relevant dystopian games for this day and age… Anyway, jokes and other topics aside, the Inner Planes always felt like they needed more to them. The Inner Planes book itself jokes about this while giving some neat suggestions, but I want to add my own touch. Hell, it calls out the people who aren’t imaginative enough to make those planes work. I’ve seen too many silly complaints about the Inner Planes too, in part because it puts your mind in a challenge… Anyway, here are the results of my own elemental plane challenge. Well, part of them. I have much more where this came from!
“Law and Chaos, two diametrically opposed sides, no one will refute this. However, what oddities and secrets do they hold? Why, I’m happy to show you. While I have covered a little on Pandemonium and Acheron, it’s only fair to look at the other mostly-neutral planes of Law and Chaos… plus a few looks at other related realms, and a few returns to some less than savory burgs and blights. But, all in the name of granting knowledge to you, fair scholar!” – An introductory speech for Ramon’s Lecture on Planes of Law and Chaos, at the Civic Festhall, in the Clerk’s Ward of Sigil
Planes of Law, rules taken physical form! While Acheron has shown the order of war at its most harsh, there is far more to explore within the possibilities of Law. One must account for concepts of atruism, unity, conformity and direction. While these topics can overlap between planes; they all have their respective places. Likewise, their inevitable counterpart is the eternal testament to disorder. The Planes of Chaos are a lack of rules turned physical. Chaos need not be just madness, like Pandemonium. Plenty of free thinkers are driven by many other passions. These don’t have to be completely selfish either. Some people just want a good time, consequences be damned! Others just want free reigns to express themselves, judgements be damned. So, as these two forces butt heads, let’s take a deeper look at some overviews as well as some of my own dug up finds. Join me as I return to the planes once again!
Author’s Note: More Planes! This time Law vs. Chaos. This was a fun chance to revisit my fey post from last Summer! (Shout out to Brynvalk for partially inspiring this brief revival!) Also, yes, Augmental probably won’t see use in MOST sane campaigns, considering it’s supposed to be a blend of Phyrexia, Hellraiser and H.R. Giger art in a blender. Though, I can hope some more tongue-in-cheek segments make up for my usual delves into grimdark.
The living dead. What brings about such perversions of life? Rituals derived from dark sorceries imbue a dreadful force into corpses, creating a puppet bound in necromantic power. These zombies are crafted by the spells and rituals of adept necromancers, aiming to create a slave or build an army. Plagues created by the most vile of creatures corrupt and sicken victims, eventually overwhelming them and turning them into walking diseases of their own right. These are often accidents, potentially prevented by proper preparation rather than giving into hysterical campaigns. Even alien horrors have their means of parasitically bonding to a host, creating their own version of zombie. Some of these victims aren’t just alive, they have some level of consciousness. However, not all origins are evil. Some were created as punishment at the hands of powerful spiritual priests. However, the zombie created by necromancy is by far the most common sight.
No matter their sources, the terror of the zombie is a known one. Shuffling corpses, either confused by their existence or enraged by it, find themselves at odds with the living. Some of these abominations are at the whims of a mad master. Others are distorted by outside forces, left to rampage against all in their wake. And even worse, the zombie will never give up. While it is devoid of emotion or any ideology, the zombie is relentless until it’s impossible for it to continue. Some will fight until literally falling apart. Converted into killing machines, these mockeries of life are a blight to all who are haunted by their presence.
Author’s Note: I’m back. Pardon these disappearances. Things have been a little rough, I’ll spare the details. In addition, I haven’t been happy with a lot of things, hobbies included. That’s made it a little harder to work on these posts. Admittedly, one of things keeping me going is created content for settings that WotC has forgotten. The people deserve to learn at least a little about these cool places! Anyway, here’s my updated take on some variant zombies! Ooooh, spooky! Also, to the one of my friends who wanted me to tack on a tacky coronavirus reference on this? You’re welcome.