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.

Continue reading “Of Lands Beyond Castle Ravenloft – More Domains and Dread”

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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More Misty Rumors

Thief 3: Deadly Shadows", full walkthrough + 100% loot, Mission 1 -  Checking Inn, Cashing out - YouTube

 

“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!

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The Gathering of Unholy Fire – A Confrontation in The Mists

Ravenloft: Prisoners of the Mist - About the World

The Mists choke figuratively and literally, standing as an ever oppressive and overbearing force.  But, what are they?  This is a mystery that will continue for all time.  What is known are the more tangible entities that haunt the endless realms of this demiplane space.  Many of these are tragic figures who fell from grace, while others are condemned for absolute wickedness.  As I have already uncovered, many places in the Prime Material have either fallen victim or been alleviated of their worst…  This depends on your perspective. What is certain is that those removed have become the things of myth and legend in their home world.  But here, they are forever trapped.  The few who have escaped are anomalies, truly lucTalon Dunning - Deathky.  Of course, this could be just weavings of The Mists.  After all, tales tell of Vecna’s paradoxical victory and failure.  But, what could foil a demigod?As for me?  Not certain.  Beyond some vague words and promises, it would seem that I should seek out Darkon.  However, it would appear that The Mists have other places to “distract” me with.  Or at the very least, slow me down.  Either way, I continue through the clouding vapors, until I see sites anew.  I still mull over the fact that I wasn’t taken this time by some trap of the Powers.  No, instead of going back to Gloomwrought, I found myself a prisoner of Azalin’s very contemplations.  But, again, why would his own minions be found in the Prime or even the Planes beyond?  It baffles the mind.  What has stuck with me is the tarot card given to me prior to the ritual.  It is a symbol of Death.  But, why is that significant?  I have heard of the pocket realm caused by Azalin known as “Necropolis”.  Is “Death” somehow involved too?  So many mysteries, so many questions.  In time, I hope I will find some answer or be consumed trying to understand.  Let us hope for the former, shall we?  And with that, we venture onwards.

Author’s Note:  One more trek into the demiplane of dread, at least for Halloween.  Also, I wanted to think of a possible outcome for yet another mad plan of Azalin…  Or rather, a plot made by outside help.  In addition to a look at more core domains, I made two cluster contributions originating from Mystara (including the Hollow World).  Plus, even a tribute to Planescape makes its way here.  There is an homage to the “Set Wands to Warpdrive” game I played in, back before this blog made it over to WordPress.  A heavily abridged version of that is noted in the darklord story, but that might appear in a future post instead.  Also, enjoy a reveal that pays homage to the Gazetteer series.  Of course, I might say that.  Also, I realize the picture I used for Darkon is from Night of the Walking Dead.  I couldn’t find proper art… oh well.

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The Editor’s Expansive Sigil Expose – Part 1

The Factol's Manifesto | Forgotten Realms Wiki | Fandom

Greetings, reader.  There is no Ramon to worry about this time around.  He is fine, my cohorts have seen to that.  However, his journal is just too valuable to fall into the clutches of some grabby faction or offended primer.  By all means, let me contribute!  For the purposes of this document, this is an addendum to a magnificent tome that will damn you just by thinking about it.  I speak of the most infamous tome in Sigil and maybe beyond, The Factol’s Manifesto!  The pages within, adorned with flavour and flare by yours truly, describe the deeper details and dim dark on the factions that populate the Cage!  Read no further, lest a basilisk of the mind take you!  Once you go in, your mind will never go out.

Good, you’re still with me.  Let us speak more of the infamous Factols’ Manifesto!  The following pages are but supplements to inform you on some background groups attempting to politic and tinker with the workings of wider society all the same.  I sense that you’ll ask a question, “Editor, how do I know you’re from Sigil when you don’t speak in Cant?”  Well, my scrutinizing friend, one can choose to take a break from such slang terminology.  Doing so can allow even the most oblivious of Primers to comprehend forbidden things that could either save them or… well… see above.  So, take heed that all you see before puts your life on the line much like it does my own!  With that dire warning, continue and be educated!

Author’s Note: Writing in the style of the Factols’ Manifesto, what fun!  I’ve made a number of sects and the like over the years, also playing with other ideas.  Plus, here’s a chance to spill the rest of the beans on the Acts of Balance “Faction” I’ve been teasing for a while.

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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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Ramon’s Guide to the Outlands and Beyond

The Outlands (Planescape) | Fantasy map, Dungeons and dragons ...

I have touched upon The Outlands, yes.  But, there is still more to see.  The Concordant Opposition, a name with more than one meaning.  To some, it’s the center point where all things converge.  To some as well, it is the force fighting all planes at once.  At least, this is what that Acts of Balance sect/faction proclaim.  Beyond them, there are many more sights and sounds to observe within the center ring within the Wheel.  With such a variety of experiences alone, a Sensate could spend a lifetime here.

Author’s Note: I enjoy doing these.  As such, I have to return to this!  Now, thanks to the Torment conversions and some of my own, that takes care of a number of monsters at least.  The one bit from the Elemental post felt a bit tacked on, but it only made me wanting to do more.  It begs the question, what happens when I run out of planes?  Well, I’ve been making plans for another project.

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Ramon’s Guide to Positive Energy Planes

Libertad's Planar Revision Project

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.

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Creatures of Law and Chaos

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Law, Chaos, diametrically opposed forces!  Is it not splendid?  To me, this is the true clash in the end.  People speak of the everlasting fight of Good vs. Evil, but just look at The Blood War!  It is multiple ideologies of badness competing for supremacy!  Simply fascinating!  But, of places less outwardly malicious, what of them?  Well, I would be happy to pop up this nice bestiary, which can be yours for simply a handful of jink-jink, chummer! – Gilbert Marazmus, Gnome scribe and former ghostwriter

The multiverse as plenty of mysterious forces, the forces of darkness and the light have already been discussed at length.  The means of order, disorder and everything in between.  These things can be quite concrete but also vague in other areas.  Here’s a sampling of monsters that exemplify the planes (and demiplanes) they call home.

Author’s Note: I know everything is taking a long time, I’ll do what I can to get back on track.  Recent times haven’t been easy.  That said, I hope many of you have found ways to still play from a distance.  Even if it’s through a digital space, doing things with people matter.  Stay connected and stay cool!

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Ramon’s Guide to Realms of Order vs. Anarchy

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“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.

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