Troublesome Timelines in Sigil and Beyond

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Gather quickly, my free time is limited. I have dire and gruesome fortunes to unearth.

Alleissa, the protege of Midwife Mebbeth can do more than treat what ails ya and talk about the art a bit.  Did you know I have some knack for fortunes and looking at possible events?  Don’t just take my word for it…  Gaze into this crystal ball and allow me to show you.  Why are you reluctant?  Despite this adorable fuzzy rodent face, I swear I won’t call ‘The Us’ to you.  Between you and I, the Brain-Muncher Vampires from the Below make better friends than the Cranium Rats… at least the ones who aren’t too barmy.  Anyway, divination.  Sure!  Let me see likely scenarios and the unlikely… 

Hmm…  Hmm…  Oh my… All of these look rather grim.  Day to day in the Cage already brings its own ample bad news.  But, one always finds a way to adapt and perhaps normalize the horrors around them.  On a much better note, good can always come from these bad events.  After all, a mad tinker “pure blood” married I, a witch and a mutant.  I already know the next of kin will be healthy.  Plus, I’ve made sure many young in The Hive live and grow, in addition to seeing their own first light of day.  Even the aging and old, they’ve continued better thanks to my mentor and later me.  So, perhaps that’s a sign of positives among rather negative days.  But, onto the readings themselves, I warn you that the foreboding you sense is warranted.  Dark things lie ahead.  Do you still want to hear more?  Should you not want to, it’s understandable.  

Author’s Note:  Alleissa, the rat mutant, returns.  This is just a series of scenarios based on what CAN happen with the plot hooks I set up.  I don’t know if I’ll touch on them beyond this or the after effects.  After all, you’re all free to use my plot hooks as you’d like.  And yes, I straight up ripped off the Halo trilogy and a bit from Buckaroo Banzai!  Likewise, let’s tie up some plots with the Acts of Balance.  For now, I want to close the door on some Planescape metaplot.  And with that, have some Sigilian nightmares this chilly season.

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Spelljammer’s Steamspace – Always Weirder Pastures

What Really Happened at Roswell? - HISTORY

“So, what you’re trying to tell me is that you’re not an elf?”

-“No, sir.”

“And this isn’t the North Pole?”

-“It could be!”

“So… Sargent, have you been trying to mess with my goddamn mind this whole time?”

*”I’m in the fog as much as you are, Major!  This ain’t Earth, it’s aliens.  Roswell and all!  Aliens!”

“Get a grip of yourself.  This, err, non-elf can help us.  Now, isn’t that right?”

Author’s Note: Two instances of New Jersey in the multiverse.  Why?  Because it ain’t as bad as everyone likes to say!  Also, it’s a little smaller this time.  Look out for next time, it’s a big one!

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Spelljammer’s Steamspace – Light and Dark

Take heed, mighty explorer!  Danger is afoot!  Always prepare!

Free D&D playtest hints that Spelljammer reboot is on the way - Polygon

You are among the brave few, those who readied themselves for the great journey into a breathtaking new world, one of many that swarm around the very source of much great power.  The Steam Titan, as many call it, as a colossal body that anchors the many sites we aim to use for our cause.  Far from alone, there are others like us who remain friendly for now.  Likewise, other beings have existed on the micro worlds far before us.  Tread lightly and with caution.  For the environments beyond and their lifeforms?  Steady and prepare.  A carefree adventurer is a dead adventurer.  The Queen’s Voyage Adventure Charter will explain more.  Please report to them post-haste.

Author’s Note: Obligatory Victorian steampunk, almost arbitrary…  Likewise, far more grimdark steampunk, because that’s really the only way I like the genre.  Though, not enough look at over industrialization, to complete “Victorian High Tech, Low Life”.  Well, here’s a continuation of my mess.  Why am I tying all of these things into Spelljammer?  I’m not sure.  At least steampunk isn’t super trendy anymore, if I wanna be all hipster about it.

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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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Planar Explorations, by [REDACTED] or “The Narrator”

“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.

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Grim Rumors Eternal – More Ravenloft Plots and Places

The Darkness lasts forever!  Don’t think the Light is still your friend though.

Author’s Note: Mystaran homage, more lands based on Philippine folklore, more on the undead of Rockbaecche and a native of Kalidnay experiencing Abaddon.  Also, two more references to the excellent Prisoners of the Mist server for Neverwinter Nights.  If you love the Campaign Setting, it’s one of the best sources that keeps it alive.  Also, I’m aware that referencing Abrahamic religion in D&D is controversial, but thanks to Prisoners of the Mist, it could be a fascinating thing to examine in brief.  I should really pick that up again, it was good fun.

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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 – Of Awe and Contempt

Horrific Facts About Bedlam, History's Most Notorious Mental Institution

“I tell you, we are prisoners!  There is no such hope for us!  The governor holds us in an endless war against an eternal foe.  There can be no salvation in this doomed colony!  There is no hope and the divine has abandoned us!  Lock me up all you wish, in time you all will know the grim reality that you suffer from!  May the rats eat your eyes!  I am now lost to your cause, the darkness comes!  IT WILL DAMN US ALL!!” – Eustace L. Flanagan, Scholar within the colony of Dawnsveil, upon being sent to  Trinity’s Passing Hospital for the Mentally Ailing.

The Demiplane of Dread is a grim place, but its darkest secrets are indeed hidden for the better.  Even the doomed and imprisoned are largely unaware of the full details.  And those who are?  They are drawn into madness and obsession, in hopes of escaping or destroying the demiplane as a whole.  However, there is something to be said for ignorance being bliss.  While life in the Lands of the Mists is hard, those who don’t know full truth exist within their own lives and internal dramas.  But, what is known is that the strange and supernatural lurk just beyond reach.  And from those places, eyes stare back at you.  Dare you stare too long, you might see even more eyes.

Author’s Note: I’ve been thinking about ideas for the future, but I always do that.  If I get ambitious enough, maybe I’ll get around to making an OSR bootleg of some “Dominions of Darkness” or something.  I wonder what that would be?  But for now, just mad musings.  In the meantime, I give you more gothic goodies to greatly enjoy, including my own take on new ideas.  By the way, Dawnsveil is a custom domain.  Check the Doc’s Multiverse tab above for more.  Also, more looks into the future of the Time of Unparalleled Darkness, as potential plot hooks in time are fun.  Also, I was waiting to squeeze a reference to Eternal Darkness somewhere.

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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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Ramon’s Guide to The Chant of Sigil

2016 366 Project #153: Sigil, City of Doors — Elisa Shigehiro Art

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?

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