Planes of Terror and Madness: Dark Shadows of the Wheel

Some mad scholars and greybeards speak of the Demiplane of Dread in hushed whispers. But, this is not the only accursed place to float within the Wheel. No. Other planes have been covered, including rather lightly from Ramon the Planes Chronicler. But, his information is too sparse to be helpful to many. I, a humble scribe assisting “The Narrator” shall regale you with wonders and horrors alike. Know that the planes isn’t just dangerous at times, it’s an unending nightmare.  Prepare to never wake up again and let us continue our journey.

Author’s Note: Happy Halloween from The Planes!  I figure it’s time to mix things up.  So, RavenScape madness continues as I also look at nightmares of the Great Wheel both canonical and fanon.

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Conspiracies and Terrors of Wildspace and More

I realize that my lesson started and shifted a but abruptly.  But, you seek the worst and weirdest that arcane space has to offer.  Why would I slouch on a golden opportunity to explain all that is delightfully dooming in the stars beyond?  Ah, yes.  Do stop me at any moment.  As much as I relish spreading nightmares, it could be bad for the tutoring contract.  So, young one, let us talk particular subjects involving space today.  After all, fear not when being taught by the famous Jermaine the Arcane.  I always provide means of rescue advice.

Author’s Note: Spelljammer, at last!  All the same, October kinda of usurped a bit of that.  And so with that, have some RavenJammer!  Likewise, conspiracies and mysteries within the setting too.  Also, the largest heresy to the alternate cosmologies, they’re just Crystal Spheres with Planar elements…  Don’t be mad at me!  Plus hey, I love a good conspiracy angle, the retcon fits the Great Wheel and its many mysteries to some extent.  Primers be damned!  (But, mostly Clueless.)

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In Which Calamity Reigns – More Planescape Lore

Street Riot | MTG Arena Card Library
“To the Armory, CHAAAAARGE!.”

“Those Anarchist twits, sparking more violence within The Cage.  They think they’re turning the people against the factions, all of them…  Not quite.  It all plays into our hands.  Besides, this has lead to our greatest dabbling, remote shops to distribute weapons from The Armory better!  Tuck them under the Legals’ noses, give ’em the laugh at the right moment!  The smell o’ fresh blood wafting along the Lower Ward smog, ain’t it just grand?  Besides, nasty things are brewing in the planes, it’s best for the locals to arm themselves.  Bloody shame with those pirates though, I wish they were working for us…” – From the letter of a Sinker, commenting on recent “acceleration” within Sigil

Horrible things transpire across the planes, but what do they mean?  Likewise, dread things from realms unknown have found their way into The Cage.  The few paranoid greybeards within The Dark point towards The Demiplane of Dread and its machinations.  But, they can’t say for sure and can’t say why.  Through the Prime Fabric, a version of Terra languishes at the wrath of the planes beyond too, something that should be impossible.  As it is, rising tensions within Sigil point to something grim.  Some figure that Factol Darkwood is up to something, but he has been on the hush since violence against any faction/non-guild has been on the rise.  Even laws passed and enforced by the “lawful three” have been subverted and sometimes abolished by outside forces.  The Lady, as always, has remained silent until her call to action draws near.  In the meantime, both Anarchists and Indeps are getting much of the heat of the blame, alongside various Guilds of the Guildhall and Market Wards.

Author’s Note: This post is all about two themes: darker things in the planes… and war.  By war, I mean urban warfare, world war, proxy war, war of ideals/words and war over technology.  But also, we have more Planescape content, as well as potential “Ravenscape” material.  As always, references galore!  This includes some personalities in real life.  Shout-out to The Foxy Bard of Renaissance Faire performance fame.  I still say if you toss on a monocle, you could rock a Harkon Lukas cosplay!  Mind you, Lukas was an inspiration for my character too.  Also, this one is a smidge rougher based on looks at an apocalyptic Earth, as well as uproar in the Cage.  Keep an eye out for many, many callbacks throughout the post.  I love to self-reference.

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Of Lands Beyond Castle Ravenloft – More Domains and Dread

“I must apologize for speaking to you on such short notice, my Count. Please take whatever comfort in my quarters that you require. My scheduled appointment was far later and I must thank you for willingly meet me within my own home. You are likely aware of why I’ve requested to see you. The crazed arcanist, known as ‘Azalin’, has-“

At the mention of his nemesis, Strahd twists like a gust from his seat, staring at the Burgomaster in contempt. A stare of shock and rage quickly transforms into the cool and collective grin shown to friend and foe alike. “Do understand,” Strahd calmly verbalizes, “such a name causes contention within my land. You should know that more than anyone. But, I rudely interrupted you by my reaction. Please… continue.”

His commanding words pierced the burgomaster harder than arrows or even the count’s hidden fangs could. As if he too was hit with a shocking statement, the burgomaster jerks back a bit. He sighs, trying to cover it up as the airs leaves his lips. Eyeing Strahd, the count simply raises an eyebrow after casually reclaiming his seat. After a few seconds of stammering, leading to the count’s arched eyebrow rising further, he continues with a hint of shakiness.

“-has been seeding the lands with spies to gather any information possible. He is plotting something big, but I shall rally the land to your aid. I am a patriot to Barovia first, and thus I shall heed any call to action. I know these matters cause a great deal of grief to you, but I hope to take some of the strain off of your shoulders.”

The count leans in, like a predator readied to pounce. “Yes, very fair. Now, out with it.”

The burgomaster visibly gulps his own spit while refraining from further stutter. “Several informants have reported to me, currently stationed at makeshift barracks by the village. They’re recanted some strange activity that might relate to Barovia and that other figure of contention. Fortunately, the rebellions of the subdued rival populations have been met with appropriate force. The rumors of their ruler’s return are grossly overstated, a mere distraction as an attempt to scare us.”

The Burgomaster twitches and fiddles in his seat, sweat drops gathering in more number like the growing armies he promised. The Count stares deathly upon the simple false ruler of the village, before his intrigued expression flattens into something more playful and cruel, “the active vigilance of a patriot should be rewarded. The call to action will begin soon, but first these informants of yours need my acquaintance. I must thank you for your service.” The Burgomaster shudders, while attempting to stiffen his stance in pride. Without further word, Strahd lifts himself to his feet and leaves toward the home’s wooden door. “And another thing, you would do best to find any spies and eliminate them quickly. I *shall* keep my trust in you.” As the door slowly shuts behind Strahd, the Burgomaster deflates into his seat from his received threats.

Author’s Note: Big thanks to P.N. Elrod, who inspired the intro blurb after a good rereading of “I, Strahd.” Likewise, big thanks to Ari Marmell for a reinvented version of Winding Road. Here’s my more constrained take, a pocket domain that links to Barovia… and possibly other domains as well. And a thought experiment gone wild, The Rule of Threes Cluster. One of the concepts is a call-back to a Planescape creation that felt right at home in the Mists, so here we are! As for the original Chaotic domain, Point Barmy was going to be it, but I was dissatisfied with it… and thus it was my April Fool’s post for how crazy it was. So, instead, here’s a domain inspired by the bank collapse of Florence. Also, I know I said I’d stop using Barovia, Gundarak, Darkon and Invidia… and yet here I am, haha.

Also, let me respond to a request I’ve gotten a few times. I won’t do a review of the new “Ravenloft” book for 5e; it’ll be dismissive, biased and angry. I’ve seen enough of it, I won’t enjoy it. Even pirating doesn’t feel like it’s worth my time.

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Of Lands Beyond Castle Ravenloft – Gundarak

“Ah, there you are” chimes a snide and sneering scribe, “I was hoping you weren’t too distraught from your assignments.  As it turns out, something of a thorn in the side of His Highest’s rival has resurfaced.  You know of whom I speak, the Devil Strahd of the County Barovia.  Tales tell of an enemy, Duke Gundar, that he has returned in revenge.”  The scribe lays out an assortment of maps, parchments and sealed documents.  “Be a good adventurer, by the master’s decree and look into it.  I suspect someone is imitating that bumbling lord who gave The Devil Strahd a hard time.”  The mysterious scribe rubs his hands, giggling madly as you are supernaturally compelled to gather the supplies and head out.  For some reason, you can’t remember what lead to your arrival at that building, save for that you were returning to Darkon.  You were always returning to Darkon.  But, what matters now is another land.  What matters is Gundarak.

Author’s Note:  Behold, more details to the underdeveloped Gundarakites, Gundarak and Duke Gundar.   My plan was to have plenty of things involving other domains, as well as a Planescape-inspired Cluster to build off of Reality’s End.  Anyway, that will be another post.  My stuff on Gundarak took over.  Also, once again a huge shout out to the Prisoners of the Mist community!  A minor character in this whole mess has its roots from there.  But, hopefully this will be my last post on that domain, so I can focus on other things?   Also, why was Jacques Renier never really brought up in canon after the Realm of Terror boxed set?

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Bloody Dark across the Planes – The Editor’s Grim Findings

Dear reader, I admire your dedication to my works.  But take heed, such dedication also puts your life in danger.  No doubt, when these scrambled notes become an elaborate codex, such books will see ban in no time.  You wouldn’t believe the among of jink offered to hack my head and serve it on a Lady’s grade platter.    As always, their hunt continues.  Mine continues in the expanse of knowledge.  Plenty of conflict bubbles and oozes beyond your surface.  Ready and prepare, the safety of the multiverse always hangs in the balance.  Let me serenade you with many tales.  But, these aren’t tales of joy or triumph, no!  Tales of woe await you.

Author’s Note: “The Editor” is back, not content with simply The Factol’s Manifesto!  Plenty of things going on, the fall and rise of deities, more on the fey, dark conspiracies of intrigue, a look at my old table’s post-2008 take on the Forgotten Realms, a further looks at my zany Ravenloft-Planescape crossover and more!  And of course, Baby Vecna!  And as always, The Editor proves an ever unreliable narrator, as some details might be fabricated or stretched for his convenience.

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The Gate of the Mist Lure – Machinations of Darkon

Frankenstein, Vats | Mad scientist lab, Environment concept art, Mad  scientist

A prisoner of Azalin, how could this be?  And worst of all, the darklord is eerily happy about this.  He has been quite dour towards other “guests”, but I’m different.  He knows I’m the “Mist Lure” for his gate device.  But, this begs the question, what horrors await once he breaks free with his Entropic Gloom cult?  What horrors will the planes face?  I can’t think of a way to stop him, not now at least.  In the meantime, I’m simply one man against the forces of an all-powerful lich.

Author’s Note: I’ve been holding onto this idea for a year now! Ever since Ramon “escaped” Gothic Earth, I wanted to toy with something that popped into my head. I already had a “metaplot” of sorts bubbling in my head, with Azalin once again trying something. I figure this is a way to wrap this all together. Also, as to a previous reference to “Set Wands to Warpdrive”? That came before, but I wanted to tie it all together.  Hell, I’ve been teasing and referencing these ideas for a while.  And with that, let’s end this crossover of Planescape and Ravenloft with a domain that’s a literal crossover.  But, with the truth finally out on Ramon, what to do with him next?  Should he be doomed to The Mists with a successor taking over for The Planes and Wildspace?  Or will he be released once more, living with a horrible guilt of his dark truth?  Perhaps I should leave that to all of you.  In the meantime, look out for at least one more 5th ed monster post soon!

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Ramon’s Guide to More Elemental Planes

Cloud Elemental ∙ Magic: The Gathering ∙ R. MICHELSON GALLERIES

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.

 

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Forgotten Souls: A Tomb of Annihilation + Dark Souls mashup

https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/darksouls/images/6/64/Darkrootforest.jpg/revision/latest/scale-to-width-down/1000?cb=20130126091047
The so-called Death Curse seemed like a contradiction at first… we were robbed of our ability to die! Oh, how wrong we were! – A tattered letter from Camp Righteous

A dark shroud has enveloped fair Toril, it is not of this world. A powerful force of raw necrotic energy has made its way into this world. What was once a mere Lich is slowly becoming something more, in part from his Death Curse. Worse yet, a powerful artifact is making the effects of this hex far greater and far more widespread too. But, for what purpose? Perhaps to empower him or possibly provide an endless font to create feats of magic locked away from even the gods! Adventurers are needed, as always. Many have fallen to the madness of the curse, becoming little more than empty husks who attack anything with a semblance of life force left. Go forth and bring life back to this world and don’t you dare go hollow on me!

The world of Abeir-Toril is fairing poorly against a strange incursion by a powerful entity known as “Acererak”. Stories travel around other prime material planes. These stories tell of foul magic, undeath and annihilation. Not long after the monster’s arrival, people found themselves somehow alive when they should have been dead. At first, people rejoiced! But soon, they caught on. Their hearts had stopped, their complexion faded, they began to look more like walking corpses. Many lost their mind, aimlessly attacking those who still show some signs of life. Some fear that this Acererak is not alone, aided by a far more malevolent force.

Author’s Note: Sure, the new adventure is coming soon or whatever. That said, here’s an idea I’ve been bouncing around for a while! What if, instead of merely wasting away from the Death Curse, victims would lose themselves to a slowly spreading and corrupting undeath. Then it hit me, this is Dark Souls! So, I mashed the two together in a sense. Below are a retooling of my Curse of Undeath as well as how to mesh it with Tomb of Annihilation. View the original here. Also, find more content for Chult here.

One final thing. This article contains major spoilers for much of the module. Do not read on if you plan on playing this module!

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Planarsoldaten – A Dimensional Menace for D&D 5th Edition

File:Space m2.jpg
That’s right, Moon Nazis…

“Their initial strikes have left us vastly crippled.  We never saw them coming, legions of men fitted with advanced armor and weaponry; adorned with the symbols of a diabolic looking empire.  They eliminated our troops quickly and many of our civilians even quicker.  There is little hope for our world.” – A letter found in a burnt down house

The planes hold countless universes and endless possibilities.  Among them is a dystopian world where a brutal regime managed to take hold of the world.  However, one planet proved to be not enough for them.  Their empire was forged on persecution and bloodshed; hatred and genocide.  Their global domination campaign cost the lives of billions, causing irreparable damage upon the world as a result.  Unsatisfied with controlling the entire world for many years, they eventually turned their cleansing campaign towards the planes beyond.  Thanks to their high tech moonbase experiments, they were able to rip open a portal within the fabric of reality itself.  Achieving planar transport, waves of these augmented super-soldiers unleashed hell upon anything unlike them.

Countless realities did their best to hold back the waves of soldiers and generals, armed with strange technologies.  Some succeeded in pushing their evil back from hence it came.  Others were conquered and their resources exploited until only dirt and death remained.  Some realms were enslaved and only the worthy preserved… or recruited.  With an ever present grip, those who manage to slip through the cracks continue to hide in fear, well aware that their attempts at sabotage or spying aren’t enough.  Many of these realities require a hero now more than ever, a rebellion to turn the tides against a dystopian cancer that seeks to infect all walks of life.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I wanted to revive my Wolfenstein themed post because the first version needed a touch up, plus I promised I’d come back to it.  Plus, I love the of Iron Sky…  Alien invasion plus an alternate-history nazi menace.  So, what if the horrors of Wolfenstein invaded the worlds of D&D?  Well, in the name of over-the-top pulp science fiction, I give you the chance to find out!  Also, as I had done with the previous post, I’d like to apologize for poorly translated German.

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