The Cluster Sphere: Spelljammer… in the Mists?

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Fantastical Space would be one of the last things people associate the Demiplane of Dread with, but it exists even there.  The recently discovered “Castle Darkspace” is a testament to that.  While T’laan stews and broods in nihilistic apathy, he knows that it’s possible to break the veil into greater space.  But, this is but a facade meant to give false hope.  And by all means, others who have touched a Spelljammer have fallen to the Dark Powers.  Even the maligned and much ignored “Port Barmy” has its roots in a Spelljammer ship.  Save for the latter domain, all things Spelljammer have found their way into a unique “Cluster” or rather “Mist Sphere”.  The Mist Sphere works much like a Crystal Sphere, complete with Wildspace connecting the worlds.  However, there is no true world, solely the domain and lands trailing off into mists.  However, they can be accessed by spelljamming.

Be warned though, for those who sail their incredible ships in this sphere cannot leave normally.  Trying to seek the Phlogistan has disastrous results.  Consistently, a spelljammer will explode upon impact.  Likewise, entering other domains and clusters beyond this one spells doom.  Doom already comes for all who dare to trifle with the mists.  As of 740, even arcane space (excluding the phlogiston beyond) was not immune.  Tower Darkspace was taken into the mists.  By 743, Rogerport and Gnomonia had joined.  Primordium Station was taken in 748 and The Chariot fell in 757.  By 758, these were no longer islands of terror.  The Mists unveiled that the spelljamming days of yore had returned, but with a dark twist.  A new Sphere of sorts revealed itself, but those within were very much trapped.  And worse, new locales and minor domains continued to appear, such as the Sparkling Halls in 759.  Perhaps the Arcane Space is doomed to fall to the Dark Powers in due time?

Author’s Note: Spelljammer in the Mists! They said it couldn’t be done, but I proved them wrong! Ahahahahah!  I know Ravenspace has been a thing for years, but here is my own take on a cluster in the style of a Crystal Sphere.  Also, there is plenty of opportunity to reference bits of space horror, such as System Shock!  Also, more Eberron crossover!  And even more crazy, Returned Blackmoor makes a cameo as a domain all its own.  Is it canon for my Threshold series?  Hard to say, but it’s certainly a possible ending for it!  Also, Port Barmy remains a joke.  I have no plans to do much else with it, maybe I’ll add it to here one day.

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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 the Astral and the Sylvan – More Planescape Lore

Domovoi – Solntsa Roshcha

All of you look so shocked.  Why?  You see something out of place in this bookstore?  Ah, yes.  You see, Boskov have new task!  Offering you many pieces of lore, some from bardic employer!  No feelings of animosity towards him, he only does what he always does.  But fear not, Boskov has been given permission to share secrets to keep one safe.  Excerpts from books, yes, you shall have them.  Boskov offers tales of the Astral and of the Fair Folk, remember the Fair Folk?

Author’s Note: Once again, things were cut… so long ago!  Here are some things involving the fey that weren’t included before.  Needless to say, I think I’ve done enough fey stuff for a while.  Time for other things!  And once again, huge salute and thanks to Mr. Welch for helping to push the fey into something even cooler.  If you haven’t already, please subscribe to his channel on YouTube.  Likewise, the Astral Plane really needs more love.  So with that, another instance of plane-stranded Athasians and some other curiosities of the astral.  So, this one is about 1/2 Fey, 1/2 Astral.  Also, stick around for a reference to a fun episode of the D&D cartoon.  Enjoy.

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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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Quiet Ramblings and Sinister Tidings – A Return to Planescape

ThePlanarDM on Twitter: "#DND #Planescape Image of the Day Sure your PCs  have won battles and tournaments, but have they ever won a debate contest?  Let them wage a war with words
The Harmonium will always get their word out, making sure that you listen.

In which we explore most horrific occurrences and rather surreal surroundings within The City of Doors and beyond. 

But, who might I be?  Call me Garrick, a humble Tout at your service and former Guild of Planar Exploration member, depending who you ask.  But first, let’s get away from that Hardhead speaker, yes?

You’ve given me more than a helping of jink, so if want The Chant…  I can help!  If you want the Real Dark of the Matter?  Well, best find a cloaked alley and keep your senses about.  The Cage is never a friend to its visitors, especially Prime-based folks such as yourselves.  But, that’s why you have me.  Call me chummer?  Not so sure of that, but I owe you assistance and provide the work I shall.  Particularly juicy topics, that might cost extra.  But, I assure you, I have heard it all… and yet, here I am to tell you about them today.  Also, cough up more jink and I’ll subdue The Cant… as best as I can.  Trust me, it’ll make understanding me be a whole lot easier!

As for topics, I know plenty of things within the Cage and without.  Do you want to talk Inner Planes?  Perhaps planar misconceptions across various worlds?  Maybe a good conspiracy or two?  In all cases, I have plenty to spare.  Of course, such a business takes time and time costs.  You understand of course.  So, let us do commerce so I can share whatever it is you might need for your journeys.

Author’s Note: This one is partially a shout-out to Mr. Welch!  I have, to an extent, enjoyed Mystara.  However, I never knew too much until I had the chance to delve deeper not only through carefully examining more books, but through his channel and chatting with him.  One of his recent teasers for a book, exploring the Knights of Ebony, helped to inspire this return to the planes!  Also, if you haven’t checked out his channel, please do!  (He’s one of the few gaming channels I openly recommend.)   Also, yes, I didn’t just rewrite the newer planes, I just rewrote the internal logic of the 4e universe a bit… even if that means literally killing off aspects of it.  But, my focus was on making things work more for Planescape anyway… even an April Fool’s Joke from ages back.  One can still sample those 4e locales and settings, but information here would supersede any conflicting details.  And as always, I bring plenty of pop culture references.

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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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Ramon’s Guide to Negative Energy Planes

The Negative Energy Plane by Wyldsoul on DeviantArt

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?

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Ramon’s Guide to the Lower Planes

Just… do as she says.  Fewer people get hurt that way.  Also, please don’t bring up Gehenna!  Other ‘loths anger her.  She won’t say why!

“The multiverse, she is a cruel mistress.  For much time, things have looked up for me.  But for so long, my luck is rather dreadful.  While my poems and records will be the stuff of legends, a break from this figurative and literal hells would be quite nice too!  I preferred my luck with just the King of the Cross-Trade in Sigil.” – Ramon DeLeon, Planar Traveling Bard

 

Of Bards and Bad Places

While I assure you that not all planes are mortifying and deadly, I tend to have rather bad luck.  This luck has sunk even lower, finding myself in the dark planes of the fiends.  Races of creatures built from pure literal evil, formed into physical manifestations.  Only the most noble and just and survive a trek into these wretched places.  As I can assure that I’m not, I have my work truly cut out for me.

Let us discuss The Lower Planes of the Great Wheel.  This is a place for not just creatures made of evil, but the most equally evil souls that find themselves punished or harvested for the creation of more fiends.  The most worthy petitioners even gain the chance to become fiends of their own!  To make matters more hostile, each plane has its own challenges within the environments themselves.  Acidic air, dueling erupting fissures, grey murk and more await the most intrepid and foolish of explorers.

Now, where do I fit into this?  A valid question!  An attempted escape from strange realities proved rather flawed.  My grasp on the planes is quite good, within my rules of reality.  Parallel versions of the Wheel has all sorts of alterations, to say the least.  With some level of luck, this is the “true reality”, however escaping the Lower Planes proves to be far harder than expected.  Even any portals and keys that should work mysteriously fail.  Well, through narrowly dodging fiends and escaping hostile environments, I’ve found my way across the Planes Below.  Impossible as it may be, I find myself not too damaged by this.  But, a Planeswalker has already seen a lot, no?

Author’s Note: I’ve been feeling a little down, so things have slowed a bit as a result.  Plus, I junked a previous post that I couldn’t find myself completing, which slowed things down more.  My apologies.  Anyway, here is something I have been sitting on for a while.  My Look at the Planes have focused too much on Ramon flailing about and finding danger, rather than describing locations and happenings in the planes, with Ramon as your guide.  Let me change that.  Also, I figure I may as well toss out a reference to the recent adventure.  In addition, plenty of references to classic D&D lore, as well as my own mad musings.

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Adventure Conversion – Alterations (Greyhawk 2000)

Alterations

This isn’t the dreaded “Gothic Earth”, but something almost as odd.  It feels like the world of Oerth, known as “The World of Greyhawk” to many.  However, it changed.  It evolved.  The technologies here, while magical somehow, feel quite close to the wondrous artifice of Gothic Terra.  However, I can’t help but wonder how all of this came about.  None the less, I’ll take this place over the forces of The Mists or The Red Death any day!  I feel I’m not done with either though. – Ramon DeLeon, planes traveling bard

Oerth.  But, not the Oerth I remember.  This is one of a distant future.  Just as there are new hopes, there are new fears.  The evils of yesteryear are supplanted by the evils of today.  News of a new abomination of mad science and magic has made its way throughout New Greyhawk City.  A creature similar to the dread mouther, but created through artificial means.  The news does its best to cover up details, but the truth is far more twisted and will only be spoken of in hushed whispers.  The terror of the Millexium Mouther rests, for now.

Author’s Note: Dungeon Magazine #83 gets referenced once again!  The last time was the Faranth, a one-off aberration that has sadly never appeared in official form again.  This time, I’m referencing both Greyhawk 2000 and its tie-in adventure, Alterations.  It’s sad that GH2000 only got attention here, never again in Oerth canon.  D20 Modern would have been the perfect place to continue it.  Eh.  Whatever.  Here’s a quick conversion of the NPCs and monsters found in it.  Plus, the Millexium Mouther is a new monster to play with!  While I won’t encourage piracy, back issues of Dungeon Magazine have long since gone out of print.  You can find a copy of this issue via Archive.org.

 

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Eerie and Sinister Monsters – Creatures of Dark Realms

Image result for grim reaper art
“Come on baby, don’t fear the reaper”

Many creatures were described in my previous travels.  It would be only fair to elaborate on them slightly.  Ready yourself for those who lurk in darkness and dread, friends!  Allow this small bestiary to inform you on the powers and potentials of these morbid friends and foes.  Or should this fall into more diabolic hands, beware of the heinous horrors that you so choose to wield.  Righteous comeuppance will likely find its way.

Author’s Note:  A companion piece to Ramon’s explorations!  Here are some monsters referenced in the post or in their respective planes and dimensions.  Enjoy!

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