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 Words in The Mists

On Playing 'Dangerous' and Evil in D&D – Digital Ephemera

The shop has closed and the storekeeper ushers you out.  Along the way, he hands you a note though.  As you find yourself under the clammy evening following an afternoon shower, the letter seems to unfurl itself by magic.  The writing is unlike that of the scribe’s.  “For your service, allow me to provide some insight by my own eyes.  After all, any new information broker under my service should be given a proper welcoming present.  And yes, this means you.”  Lowering the letter, you notice a button materialize upon the right breast pocket of your shirt.  It’s a symbol, one swearing allegiance to Azalin.  Frantic, you continue reading.  “Now, please review this information.  It shall be relevant to your next assignment.  And please, don’t think of betraying me.  The last one who tried never made it to the domain’s border.  Now, inform yourself.  I shall test you the following evening. – A”

Welcome to Darkon.  You are from here, you have always been here, you will find your roots here and you shall always serve Azalin Rex.

Author’s Note: I forgot that I wanted to revisit Odiare. I never really liked that domain and the adventure that went with it felt too hokey. So, time to make Maligno’s existence a true nightmare. Mangiafuoco, a cruel puppet master from the original story, becomes his ultimate foil.  Big thanks to the Fraternity of Shadows forums for inspiration. Other than that, let me further rip off Thief.  Also, no one tries to get something out of the mighty lich without him getting something in return.  That said, as much as I love Azalin as a magnificent bastard, I’m done with him… save for one more thing.

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Monsters of Forbidden Realms (Raven-scape Monsters Part 1)

The Mists have spawned all manner of atrocities and abominations to traverse its foggy murk.  These creatures are usually the physical embodiment of either a darklord’s sins or the horrors of our very existential condition.  Some are merely pulled into the Demiplane of Dread and enhanced into something so much more, even replicated to bring new methods of terror to the native populace of the lands.  No matter the origin, they stand in opposition to heroes who challenge the everlasting darkness.  Whether they are pawns of the dark powers or operating on their own accord is up for debate, but their haunting presence shall be known to those unfortunate enough to encounter them.  In fact, some creatures are capable of removing you from known reality.  All the more reason a monster hunter be readied and prepared for such evils.

Author’s Note: Nightmare Fuel, Body Horror, Terrors of the Cosmic and more!  Yes, Halloween is done and plenty of real life horror may get in the way, but nothing a little pretend horror can’t distract from. So, let’s take a moment to enjoy the monsters of some chilling tales.  After all, it doesn’t matter if it’s Halloween, they always lurk and await new victims.  Here are a bundle of monsters inspired by the Planescape/Ravenloft posts, from various domains or dimensional spaces.  Also, the inclusion of the Wolfwere was done in support of the November RPG Blog Carnival, hosted by Faith of Pratfalls and Pixies.  Find more here!  Also, look out for part 2 soon.

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Blackmoor Week 2020: Blackmoor, Into the Future

https://daemonsanddeathrays.files.wordpress.com/2020/09/8b57f-blackmoorweekbanner2020.jpg

Blackmoor week celebrates the birth of Dave Arneson and his creation of the Blackmoor setting.  As the co-founder of the game and other grandfather of roleplaying games, he deserves some love as well, hence this week on the web.  You can click the image above to see more of what Blackmoor Week has to offer.  But, should you be interested in my own mad ramblings and homages to Arneson’s setting and beyond, do continue here as well!  Doc’s Laboratory awaits!

Since its inception, there have been a number of iterations of the lands of Blackmoor.  The ones most tied to Arneson were the first and last incarnations.  And to an extent, even the alteration into Mystara’s history counts.  My experience with Blackmoor started mostly with the final versions, the 3rd edition and 4th edition source books provided by Zeitgeist Games at the time.  While I knew it was put into the distant past of The Known World and beyond, I never had a chance at the Mystara friendly version of it for a while.  None the less, I favor a blend of the classic vision with the Mystaran one.  It even factored into a game friends took part in long ago.  Said game was a multiple campaign arc in Mystara, with tons of crazy time travel and other antics with reality.  The last game ended after our travels back and forth into Blackmoor’s history.  For numerous games, we were called to deal with progressively evolving threats in the kingdom-turned-empire.  However, our final threat was something we weren’t prepared for, a Blackmoor in the modern age.  Sadly, the campaign ended as we caught a glimpse of an imposing and bleak city over the horizon.  Mind you, this was during the days when many of us still thought Blackmoor would be fit in the Broken Lands, before we realized that later developments changed that.

This isn’t the end of Returned Blackmoor, just it in active campaign form.  Years and years passed, before the Mystara Reborn Facebook group became the encouragement I needed to give life back into this new Blackmoor.  With old notes in hand and scrambled bits from the rest of the old table, I cobbled together an image of what a Blackmoor might look like if it used time powers to survive its doom in the Mystaran world.  It turns out, having your land rotated into a frigid wasteland can massively throw one off.  This, combined with plague and political instability lead to a trusted member of the military staging a coupe and establishing a harsh dictatorship.  While the arcane-infused high technology of Blackmoor recovered and developed anew, the culture became far more stagnant and stale, as leadership forbid it to develop further.  As the decades passed since it leapt into the near-present, the leader began to lose a grip on reality as well as physical health.  Ultimately, he would become something of a quasi-undead cyborg, a major campaign reveal.  (A brain-in-a-jar piloting a robot body, a staple science fiction trope.)   Meanwhile, movements arise in the shadows to oppose him, some more extreme than others.  Other forces stir, many of which driven by wicked ends.  All sorts of enemies roam this new Blackmoor: wasteland raiders, rogue robots, mutant animalmen, atomic undead, acolytes of new dark Immortals or even the slumbering Egg of Coot!  Those are only a few examples.

Now, how does this involve the players?  Well, many games could involve them in the mayhem and wonder of this forbidden land.  For starters, they could help shape an uprising against the corrupt usurper state.  Heroes may choose to help remnants of the old ways help restore classic order within the realm.  They might consider radical change instead, favoring one of several other factions, ranging from reformists to new potential overlords.  They might even earn the trust of the regime and become ambassadors to the greater world.  Over time, the current ways of Blackmoor may become less extreme in their own way.  For the more Arneson approved old school experience, there are a number of dungeons both classic and infused with gonzo science-fantasy, even Castle Blackmoor has received modifications over the eons.  It seems with time that many of the kinks that caused Blackmoorian tech to go haywire are more properly ironed out too.  Or at least, more attention to potential sabotage.  Potential for larger plots exist too:  Blackmoor trying to integrate safely into the greater world, the Immortals having none of it and punting the land into the Hollow World (alongside the Blacklore Elves), a massive war risking a Greater Rain of Fire, the rise of a new Blackmoor Empire and much more.

To dive more into Returned Blackmoor, check out Threshold Magazine!  Issues 20, 22 and 26 (edited) have articles by me.

Ramon’s Continued Notes on the Multiverse

Means of transport in Sigil by Deusuum on DeviantArt

Allow me to recant and give you words of caution.  Remember, only take jobs that you can verify first.  If you don’t, you might find yourself bound, gagged and stuffed in a warehouse in the Lower Ward…  And from there?  Well, read on and find out.  Take it from a personal experience, at least I got some jink from a Sensate interview out of it.  But, if you are more streetwise than I, then you will ahead of whatever challenges and traps lurk behind every corner.  And yes, this includes the countless wonders of Sigil, the City of Doors.

Warning bashers and berks isn’t the purpose of this little session for today.  No!  Rather, I’m picking up where I left off from before.  I’ve continued to take notes of all sorts of wonderful places and things in the multiverse.  As always, revisiting a few places while finding new ones.  So, let us find old friends and seek out new ones.  Off I go, to places unknown and places barely known.

Author’s Note:  As always, I love adding places to Planescape and beyond.  One of my creations was actually a series of notes from years ago.  If I found it before, something would have been said on it in the past.  But, here’s my cobbled together take on developments on top of The Slags, the most infamous part of The Hive Ward!  Joining that is a return to some previous concepts that I failed to really flesh out.  And as always, a few other ideas are tossed around.  Enjoy!  As always, reference nods usually get a tag.

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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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Defense-Unit 78’s Guide to Dimensional Convergence

The Void

Convergent.  This is described as multiple facets of something coming together, usually to form something completely new.

You might inquire the relevance of this definition.  This is simple.  Reality as properly defined by both The Ancients and the Scholars of Gamma Terra is crumbling.  And not only that, a possible new dimension, known to many as “Void Space” has opened up.  Sensors detect that other possible realities have indeed converged upon this meeting point within space and time.  Even stranger, these fragments of reality have merged together at points, making rather alarming hybridizations between worlds.  Gardens with wires and machines growing instead of plants, octagonal platforms and hallways turned into castle-like labyrinths of stone and wood, whole buildings breaking off into floating land chunks in the cosmic soup.  Completely unrelated confines and compounds have blended alongside others.  A piece of a cabin has become tethered to a segment of an industrial warehouse, linking to a medieval dungeon.  This dimensional space does not operate on principles of mundane logic.  Data does indicate that these pieces are fused to instill stability between realities.  This alternate world acts in a manner of coping mechanism.  More information is required to properly analyze.  Deployment is requested.

Author’s Note: What sort of mad crossover nonsense is this?  Well, exactly that.  Thanks to a long finished game, as well as the BLOOM mod for Doom 2, I’ve worked up some level of inspiration to cobble all means of absurd mash-ups.  Also, I’ve been weaving some mythos-horror content into Planescape for a while.  For the few people that played in crossover games with me, many of these games are directly referenced here.  Set Wands to Warpdrive, in particular, literally broke realities.  (It’s probably archived on my old tumblr page.)  Technically, this exists outside of typical Planescape, but I’ve always pondered a nexus space between realities.  It kind of worked for RIFTS already, why not in other things?  Ramon is a background character as well. 

As for crunch related stuff?  I’ll get around to something.  As I’ve already stated, I’d rather use a different gaming system, honestly.

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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 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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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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