> Like a curtain?
Yes, exactly like a curtain. Buffeted by planar surges resulting in minor boundary shifts.
> The idea was that conduits are like pinholes in the multiverse, and that if enough things started to punch holes in the fabrice of the planes then something catastrophic could occur
I always thought of conduits as being part of a circulatory system. And ether gaps as what you call the pinholes in the Multiverse. I like the description of conduits being alive in some way, from being young/unstable and mature/stable to dying/collapsing conduits.
Could the titans be using agents to somehow draw conduits towards the rift? As the conduits perish, their death throes weaken the area surrounding the rift - causing the shattered planar fabric to shake loose and unravel.
Another idea about how to repair the rift is to attempt to bring Mediators back to the Outlands.
Here is the Habitat section on Mediators:
Ecology: A legend of the mediators, its origin and truth lost in the mists of time, claims that eons ago when the Outer Planes were first forming, the powers of creation divided space among them. They created planes of certain alignments as homes for the corresponding powers. Intense arguments between powers of the same alignment but slightly differing viewpoints led to the creation of 17 individual planes for the nine alignments.
When the Outlands were created, they were to be the home of the neutral powers. From there they could send out their influences to maintain balance and order. But the neutral powers bickered because they disagreed how to organize and construct the inner areas of the plane. Each tried to exert individual influence, causing the plane to become unbalanced.
When the powers of creation saw what had happened, they cast the powers of neutrality out of the Outlands, thus closing it off to all beings. They created Mechanus with its perfect harmony and giant clockwork, and sent the powers of neutrality there to live. In order that the neutrals not corrupt Mechanus as they had done with the Outlands, the powers of creation made the mediators and gave them great power and influence over balance. Three mediators were made, one for each of the Lights of Balance that shine now at the center of the Outlands.
The Mediators would be able to repair planar rifts, the question is: how will the heroes manage to bring or help create a Mediator for the Outlands?
Interesting stuff! It's one of those classic Planescape Monstrous Compendium deals where they name drop something - 3 Lights of Balance - that gets mentioned nowhere else in any of the PS books or general D&D books.
I'll give it some thought. I have a side encounter with a Translator (described as the lesser True Neutral form of mediator) in Dwarven Mountain, and Mechanus features in at least one part of the mega-adventure, so there might be a way to incorporate that.
So, I need some help locating an NPC within Pandemonium.
First off, the NPC is Ambran the Seeker, who appeared in David "Zeb" Cook's short story The Plane Truth that ran in DRAGON 203-205. He is a prime paladin who was body-swapped by an evil Mage trapped by the Codex. When the story ended he was in the mage's old body in some cave in Pandemonium. Here's a quote form the story to elaborate his fate:
"To exist and to grow, the book becomes the dreams of a prime. The slave writes what he dreams and goes where the pages take him, until eventually the slave is a useless husk. When he finally writes his own page in the dead book, the book waits for another and continues its pages."
"I've been captured by the book?"
"No, you berk, youve been snagged by the slave." The darkness gave a dry, throaty chuckle to my plight. "Sometimes the slave learns from the Codex even as its using him. He learns how to ball up his dreams and send them to some poor sod like you."
"And you become him. And he escapes the Codex’s grip even if he does have to wear his memories on his skin for the rest of his life makes for an interesting life."
I started to shiver. "What happens to me?"
The shadows swirled around me and the voice whispered in my ear. "Maybe youre destroyed. Maybe youre trapped inside your own body. What does it matter?"
I still struggle with the transformation. There are parts of Ambran left behind that press me to act against my will. I wonder how his incomplete spirit feels in that cave in Pandemonium? I wonder if he too is a slave of the Codex?
Anyhow, I'm making the magic harp string McGuffin the PCs find during levels 1-4 point to Ambran the Seeker. So it's pretty likely they will go seek him out during lower levels.
Now, initially I thought to use The Madhouse on Pandemonium's 1st layer. However, I'm already using the Gatehouse in Sigil, and so this feels redundant.
Other sites I'm using in Pandemonium include Howler's Crag (2nd layer), Unseelie Court (3rd layer), and Argathorn's Prison (4th layer). Roughly speaking, the sites on the deeper layers are for higher levels, though there can be exceptions.
Any idea where I should place Ambran the Seeker?
Here's a bunch of Pandemonium sites drawn from 2e/3e/4e: http://www.canonfire.com/wiki/index.php?title=Pandemonium#Layers
I'm imagining him as a revenant devoted to killing Fallendor but who whenever he sees himself sees Fallendor's image and so wants to destroy himself. His role in the narrative is to provide the PCs with a few pieces of information:
Hmmm, the best solution would be some site on Pandesmos as this would mean that the PCs travel to all of the four layers of Pandemonium one after another.
There arent't many official sites on Pandesmos though.
How about the center/top of a twister (similar to Lum the Mad "inside"the Vortex of Madness)?
If you want to deviate from the 1 layer/1 site concept I'd probably use the Harmonica on Cocytus.
I'm imagining him as a revenant devoted to killing Fallendor but who whenever he sees himself sees Fallendor's image and so wants to destroy himself.
This could be very interesting if combined with the Cavern of the Self.
An interesting aspect of the 5e revenant is that even if its body is destroyed (hard to do given that it regenerates unless taking fire/radiant damage), the revenant's soul inhabits and animates another corpse on the same plane after 24 hours.
By the way, I have just written up the main campaign backstory incorporating lots of the ideas we've discussed over these past months. Warning: It is a bit long! But I'd love feedback from all you guys if you have time :)
Note that the ## represent one of the Muses who is Enrizar's beloved...I haven't settled on which Muse yet.
.The Story Thus Far.
No one knows how old the Codex of the Infinite Planes is, not even Mnemosyne, Titaness of Memory, who recalls the age before the written word and before the gods. However, ever since she learned of the Codex, Mnemosyne hated the artifact because it represented her diametric opposite. While Mnemosyne cherished memory as a way to teach wisdom and keep a living tradition passed down thru the ages, the Codex of the Infinite Planes consumed knowledge and subverted wisdom, shackling future generations to a codified truth devoid of context or humanity. With each godling or mage who thought they could master the Codex, with each fool seeking a fiend's True Name or the gate to some forgotten plane, the Codex added another slave to its pages, absorbing their knowledge and memories into itself. Before Mnemosyne could destroy the Codex, however, war broke out between the elder titans and the gods; in the aftermath, Mnemosyne was imprisoned in Carceri along with his siblings, bound in a crystalline mask forged by the gods which kept her trapped within illusions. Mnemosyne was a prisoner, but the Codex was free, beginning (or perhaps continuing) its journey across the planes.
On the world of Oerth, the High Wizard-Priest of the Isles of Woe discovered the Codex. Unearthing its secrets, he used the Codex to create an empire that spanned that world and reached into the planes beyond. In the end, however, cataclysm followed the Codex, unleashing a horde of ethereal monsters upon the isles; in desperation to save the world from his own folly, the High Wizard-Priest cast a great spell. To the rest of the world, the Isles of Woe appeared to be swallowed by the sea, but in actuality were banished to the Ethereal Plane along with the invaders. The Codex was cast adrift in those misty shores.
Centuries later the archmage Tzunk fund the Codex and it's pages bestowed him with a form of immortality that would prove horrifying. Tzunk commanded fiends with impunity, binding Garniax the Indestructible Fiend and imprisoning Demon Lord Nql. After years studying the Codex, Tzunk's own ambitions for power grew and he sought to conquer the City of Brass. Despite his power, Tzunk was no match for an army of efreet's and he was dismembered as punishment for his hubris. However, Tzunk's immortality kept him conscious and animate even after dismemberment, and so the efreet's Sultan had his body parts scattered across the planes. And so the Codex passed into the hands of the efreet.
The Codex of the Infinite Planes was the centerpiece of intrigue and backstabbing on the Plane of Fire; the efreeti Sultan, the pit fiend Schaethreth, and faction agents vied for control of the Codex. Yet it eluded them all. During this time the Codex haunted the sleep of the mage Fallendor remotely, compelling him to write new pages in his dreams. Each time Fallendor penned a page, however, he lost a bit of his soul to the Codex which was steadily killing him...or worse. Fallendor only managed to escape by writing his memories on the skin of the prime paladin Ambran the Seeker, eventually swapping bodies. While Ambran went on to meet a terrible fate in Pandemonium, Fallendor retreated to Sigil where he came to be known as the Painted Mage on account of the tattoos adorning his new body that told his tale of betrayal.
It was from Fallendor that Enrizar Ahrevad, an Incantifer, learned of the Codex. The Incanterium (its followers called Incantifers) was a dead faction which believed magic was the source of all power and sought to become magic; however, they reached too far and tried to usurp Sigil. Their Tower Sorcerous became the maze in which the Lady of Pain trapped the Incantifers, banishing them to an extradimensional prison. Only a fragmented few Inca riders remained, divided by petty ambitions. Enrizar Ahrevad was the last to receive initiation into the Incanterium before its collapse, and unlike the others he found a greater purpose, thanks to his ##, Muse of ##. Retrieving the Codex, Enrizar used it as a rallying point for the remnants of his faction. However, in his arrogance, Enrizar sought to control magic beyond mortal understanding to open a gate in the Ethereal reaching to the banished Tower Sorcerous. Amazingly, he was successful, but his hubris cost him - ## was pulled thru an ether gap into an unknown dimension. Though his heart was broken, the Codex was not finished with Enrizar.
Whispering of a way to save his beloved, the Codex led Enrizar to Mnemosyne who knew the secret of the ether gaps and how to save her daughter ##. However, Mnemosyne was imprisoned in the Tarterian Depths of Carceri. Enrizar developed a plan to break the bonds of Carceri using the Codex, but he lacked the raw magical power for such a spell. He found an unlikely ally in the Queen of Air and Darkess, a corrupted Archfey with the darkest magic. The Queen hungered forerh True Name, lost to her aeons ago when she fell from grace, and knew if any being recalled her True Name it was Mnemosyne, memory incarnate. Enrizar had the plane and the Codex. The Queen had the spell and the power. Journeying to the Astral Plane, where old memories go to die, Enrizar and the Queen fractured Carceri using the Codex and freeing Mnemosyne, her mask shattered.
However, the spell unexpectedly formed a Rift in the planes. Why exactly the Rift formed is a mystery, created thru some combination of catastrophe brought on by the Codex, boundaries between the planes already strained by other conditions, the Queen's spell akin to a magnified planar breach, and the fracturing of the unbreakable prison of Carceri. While its formation remains a mystery, the plane that seems most affected is the Outlands where the Rift appears as a shimmering curtain extending from a chasm to a tear in the sky. Initially, the Rift connects the Astral Plane, Carceri, and the Outlands; however, as the Rift worsens, new fractures form affecting new areas.
The Codex left its mark on all involved in the creation of the Rift. The Queen of Air and Darkness, overeager to reap the reward of her spell, was pulled bodily into the Rift and trapped between planes. Now she searches desperately for the Codex, the only thing which can guide her back from the void for her grand reentrance. Mnemosyne would destroy the Codex if she knew how, but her liberty was bound to its pages by the spell, a little provision the wicked Queen of Air and Darkness threw in to ensure Mnemosyne's compliance. Should the Codex be destroyed, Mnemosyne would be sent back to Carceri, and this time - without the mask - she would remember every agonizing detail. Enrizar Ahrevad hates the Codex as he blames it for costing him his love ##, and yet at the same time he is obsessed with it promising a new dawn for the Incanterium. He possesses the Codex which grants him great power...for now. The Codex of the Infinite Planes ever seeks new slaves to add to its pages, after all.
Hey Quickleaf, sounds awesome! :)
I'm really impressed how neatly all the elements of the backstory fit together (even the more "critical" and much discussed elements like the Queen)!
Thanks it took a lot of work to hammer it out, and while I'm not sure it reads like how you'd expect the background for a published adventure to read, it is a good start.
What I like about this campaign framework is that it feels like both D&D and Planescape, but it also introduces antagonists that are fresh to the game.
A lot of the push with D&D now seems to be about going back to the roots, redoing familiar enemies and adventures in new ways. This campaign pushes that further... Sure, Tzunk and the Queen are identifiable by serious D&Ders, but they've never featured in a published adventure. Same goes for Aoskar and the Incantifers with Planescape - they're recognizable names and tidbits were mentioned about them in DOORS TO THE UNKNOWN and FACTION WAR respectively, but they never got full coverage in an adventure. Mnemosyne did appear in one of the adventures in VORTEX OF MADNESS, but I am using her in a fresh way.
This is inspiring me to try writing up the back-story for what's going on in my game (that has unfortunately been on hiatus for the past month or two).
Nice, Wicke. Always happy to inspire other DMs.
So I was writing up some of the details on the Arcane Eye and Tzunk, and realized I have a bit of a dilemma. How do I differentiate Tzunk from Vecna?
I mean from a player's perspective, both have had pieces of them cut away (just Tzunk moreso). I want to make the distinction clear so players (a) don't get confused, and (b) don't blow off Tzunk as a cheap Vecna knock-off.
For example, I had been considering making the Head of Tzunk a demi-lich, but then Vecna is a lich so perhaps that's too similar to Vecna? What else could the Head of Tzunk be?
> For example, I had been considering making the Head of Tzunk a demi-lich, but then Vecna is a lich so perhaps that's too similar to Vecna? What else could the Head of Tzunk be?
To avoid Tzunk becoming too much like Vecna, here are a couple of ideas:
* Attaching / replacing parts of the lich grants abilities to the user. However, it also infects the user with a hunger to hunt down and consume the other Tzunk body parts. Only by the Tzunk-host consuming a body part does it gain dominance over the other body part. Whilst the Tzunk-host may be plagued by dreams of being eaten alive, depending on the host it is unlikely to lead to permanent insanity.
* The large exposure that Tzunk had to fiendish interactions has resulted in his body parts acquiring fiendish traits. Anyone who attaches or swaps body parts with Tzunk's remains gains certain fiendish traits and/or abilities at the cost of memories of dismemberment that unless treated will result in permanent insanity.
* Tzunk's lengthy exposure to fiends and the Codex have resulted in unusual side-effects for anyone attaching / replacing body parts with Tzunk. As well as granting the user certain (lesser Vecna like-) abilities, the body parts also when activated have a chance of opening a portal to the lower planes. The more body parts the user has, the greater the fiend that steps through and the higher the probability that the user has of recalling the Fiend name in order to try to control it.
By the way, great back-story write-up.
What defines Vecna?
- He's a god
- He's a lich
- His holy relics (hand and eye) are powerful magic items and can be used to replace missing body parts.
Ergo Tzunk shouldn't be a lich and it shouldn't be possible to graft Tzunks body parts to someones body.
Simile has a point with the corruption of Tzunks body - maybe the use of the Codex changed his form to something far removed from human, maybe the Efreeti did something to him beyond dismembering him (think of the cursed form of the Maeldur).
Personally I always envisioned Tzunk as something like a pair of enormous floating, emerald glowing hands bound with shackles meade of brass (Tomb of Tzunk's Hands).
Thanks @Simile. Actually, I'm following the same line of thinking as @KnightofDecay in that Tzunk's fractured body parts shouldn't be graft-able like Vecna's. I do, however, like your point that the Codex made him into something beyond human. For some reason, I'm picturing a Large Dr. Manhattan type figure or the Wizard of Oz face...
@KnightofDecay You know what's funny I had the exact same image of Tzunk's Hands in my mind, except the color was more of a woad blue-gree. I wonder if there is some media image we both saw influencing our conception? If not then...cool synchronicity!
As part of the adventure the PCs can go to the Tomb of Tzunk's Hands and retrieve them. Of course, the hands will have their own agenda...
So that brings me back to my original question: What is Tzunk? I mean what sort of monster? Or what sort of stats?
I'm thinking that a disembodied Head of Tzunk (floating?) should be the main center of Tzunk's consciousness, the part trying to put himself back together again, the part that craves the Codex and knows its secrets better than anyone.
I had selected Demi-Lich as a close approximation, but maybe I need to write up a unique stat block for Tzunk...
I wonder if there is some media image we both saw influencing our conception? If not then...cool synchronicity!
I'm thinking of something like this:
The brass "iron maiden" is an intriguing idea.
An individualized demi-lich is probably a good starting point. The ideas you've mentioned sound fitting too. How about including the dyophs (whatever they might be)? Here's a link to a discussion about the nature of the dyophs and Tzunks beast on Canonfire which also features Rip van Wormer/Rasgon who has contributed lot's of stuff here on Planewalker.
If you want to talk floating heads, go to the original.
I dare you to look it up and get past Sean Connery's costume
Oh man, just saw the video "Zardoz Speaks" and that was, uh, shocking. "The gun is good..."
I just re-watched a clip from the film and had forgotten that the "exterminators" wear two-faced Janus helmets too. So there is that another tie-in to the random ideas that have been suggested for this adventure
Hilarious! I had completely forgotten the great Zardoz.
There you go! a floating stone/brass head shouting "TZUNK!"
Power Word: Tzunk? What does it do, create an anagram of a body's name? :)
"The Codex is good..." ;)
Actually the Tzunk anagram even has some meaning:
Kuntz is a surname common in German-speaking countries and derives from a nickname for the first name Konrad ("bold counselor" kuon = bold, rath = counsel).
I don't know what one could do with this but "Kuntz" is so close to "Kurtz" who was the character in "Heart of Darkness"/"Apocalypse Now" who went into the "savage jungle" and through force of personality set himself up as a god to be worshipped by the natives
Hmmm, I fear surname anagramms won't lead us anywhere for the campaign.
(The surname Kurtz is a variant spelling og kurz, which means "short" in German.)
Ok, enough with anagrams! :)
Thought I'd share the Sigil Encounter Table from Chapter 2...
Sigil Encounters (2d10)
2. A deva or planetar.
3. 2d4 dabus trimming razorvine, repairing or dismantling buildings, or floating by silently.
4. A cranium rat swarm (50%) or a maliciously intelligent swarm of ravens (50%).
5. Clueless prime wandering around lost or in the process of being conned (50%), or a whining mephit deliver a message, an insult, or a "gift." (50%)
6. 1d4 bariaur trading or enjoying a rowdy good time,
7. 1d4 githzerai monks (50%) or 1d4 githyanki warriors (50%).
8. Worse weather than usual; hard rains and thick fog heavily obscure the streets and limit visibility to 60 feet or less for 2d6 hours.
9. A merchant, tradesperson, or laborer.
10. The characters have an encounter unique to the ward they're currently in; roll on the corresponding table below.
11. The characters have an encounter unique to the ward they're currently in; roll on the corresponding table below.
12. The characters have an encounter unique to the ward they're currently in; roll on the corresponding table below.
13. Beggars (50%) or 2d4 wererats disguised as beggars (50%).
14. A smarmy tiefling spy running a con.
15. A crazed veteran or mage suffering madness from travels across the planes, ranting of other worlds that defy reason, rivers of dead, and horrible music.
16. A company of mercenaries which may include cambions, half-ogres, hobgoblins, ogres, and veterans.
17. A slaad driving philosophers mad with its nonsensical discourse (50%), or a company of modrons analyzing a phenomenon in Sigil (50%).
18. A demon (50%h or devil (50%).
19. A yugoloth (50%), or night hag (50%).
20. The Lady of Pain makes her presence known. This might be a trail of flayed bodies of those who worshipped her. It may be a cold shadow passing over which silences everyone and makes merchants close their shops. Or it may be an area of the city warped and cast off into her Mazes with old buildings torn away as new ones seem to grow to take their place.
Clerk's Ward Encounters (1d8)
1. Faction agent, either of the Fated (collecting a debt), Sensates (giving a public artistic performance), or Signers (engaged in debate).
2. 2d4 guards patrol the streets, arresting drunks and vagrants accused of "unruliness, loitering, and conspiracy."
3. A noble, transported by pony carriage or sedans chair carried by slaves, with a pair of veteran bodyguards.
4. Young boy or girl with a lantern staff (colloquially known as "light boys") offers to light the characters' way and provide guide services for 1 silver piece per hour.
5. Harried clerk carrying a pile of scrolls going to or from the Hall of Information.
6. Distraught trades person facing overwhelming debt and loss of his or her home to moneylenders.
7. Public debate about a proposed act or a spontaneous duel of words between bards.
8. Courier or messenger dove, possibly with magic mouth or animal messenger cast upon it.
Guildhall and Market Ward (1d8)
1. Faction agent, either an Indep (brokering a deal or playing tout) or a Cipher (mediating a dispute or training new recruits).
2. 2d4 guards patrol the market, enforcing market regulations and arresting thieves.
3. A bariaur offers his or her services as a tout (guide) for 5 silver pieces a day.
4. Merchant offering unusual items for trade. Some possibilities include Baatorian green steel weapons (which bypass damage resistance of demons), Abyssal red steel weapons (which bypass damage resistance of devils), never-melting ice of Ocanthys, catoblepas death cheese, or spell components.
5. A member of the Doorsnoops Guild cataloging portals, and willing to pay the characters for reliable information on previously unknown portals.
6. Laborers transporting some massive creature on a magical floating disk for sale at market. This creature might be a giant squid encased in a spec of water or a cortelestial which has a maw that acts as a portal.
7. Open-air cafe serving coffee, tea, cider, wine, ambrosia, and stranger fare while patrons enjoy games of dice, cards, and chess.
8. A portal flares to life! The DM decides who or what steps thru and where it leads.
Hive Encounters (1d10)
1. Faction agent, either a Bleaker (tending to the mentally ill), a Dustman (presiding over funerary rites), or a Xaositect (painting a bizarre mural...or whatever strikes the Xaositect's fancy at the moment).
2. 2d4 bandits, "Collectors" who gather dead bodies in a wagon for delivery to the Mortuary; they are not above looting corpses or finishing off a dying creature.
3. 2d4 vargouilles from the Slags (night) or a trail of dead bodies (day).
4. 2d4 crazed thugs from a gang with an outlandish name like "Slurring Shivs."
5. 2d4 guild rogues engaged in organized crime like smuggling or racketeering.
6. Group of tiefling children begging, and one of them secretly casts enthrall (DC 12 Wisdom save) on the characters so the rest have a better chance of picking their pockets unnoticed. A DC 15 Wisdom (Insight) or Wisdom (Perception) check catches the little scoundrels in the act.
7. A crazed veteran or mage suffering madness from travels across the planes, ranting of other worlds that defy reason, rivers of dead, and horrible music.
8. A puddle of water emits a faint amber glow, visible from only a few feet away; it is actually a portal to the "Plane of Ooze" (the boundary between the Planes of Earth and Water). Mud mephitis occasionally reach thru the portal to drag creatures in. When a creature comes into contact with the ooze portal, it is grappled and must make a DC 13 Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check to escape, otherwise it's body elongates and softens like clay as they're dragged thru the portal. The victim's friends have one round to rescue the victim before the victim is pulled into the "Plane of Ooze." When the ooze portal grapples a creature, a noxious brownish gas spews forth, replicating a stinking cloud spell (DC 12 Constitution save).
9. A tangle of crooked ramshackle buildings form a labyrinth that requires a DC 15 Intelligence (Investigation) check to navigate without getting lost. A character with the Urchin background or who is able to get an aerial view from 50 feet up can also figure a way out. Lost characters end up in an unexpected and dangerous part of the Hives (e.g. The Slags).
10. Scratch-marked house. See the description of the various scratches in the Hive ward description in this chapter.
The Lady's Ward Encounters (1d6)
1. Faction agent, either of the Doomguard (watching a plan to further entropy play out), Fraternity of Order (debating loopholes in the rules of the planes), Harmonium (brokering a truce), or Mercykillers (dispensing justice).
2. 2d4 guards patrol the streets and arrest drunks and vagrants accused of "unruliness, loitering, and conspiracy."
3. A noble, transported by pony carriage or sedan chair carried by slaves, with a pair of veteran bodyguards.
4. A priest reaching (50%), or a proxy of one of the gods (50%).
5. Tumbrel bearing prisoners to execution at Petitioner's Square, escorted by 2d4 guards.
6. Group of judges discussing the particulars of a court case and likely sentencing, possibly accompanied by a dabus.
Lower Ward Encounters (1d8)
1. Faction agent, either of the Athar (preaching against gods), Believers in the Source (testing recruits), Doomguard (picking up a shipment of weapons), or Dustmen (attending to funerary rites).
2. 2d4 guards patrol the streets, guarding warehouses, catching escape indentured servants, and dealing with monsters coming thru the many portals to the Lower Planes.
3. A mage who crafts magic items interested in hiring adventurers to acquire rare components in dangerous places.
4. Stubborn crafts person who is secretive about family crafting knowledge (50%), or a group of drunken commoners on a pub crawl (50%).
5. 2d4 guild rogues engages in organized crimes like smuggling or racketeering.
6. 1d4 wererats working for Lothar, the Master of Bones, to retrieve skulls.
7. Particularly sickening smog cloud blankets the ward's streets, acting as a stinking cloud (DC 13 Constitution save); any characters who fail their save also suffer disadvantage to Constitution checks to maintain concentration. The smog endures 2d6 hours.
8. A portal to the Lower Planes, possibly guarded by a maelephant, or with other fiends nearby.
Undersigil Encounters (2d8)
2. A collapsed ancient street buried by time, with some of the original buildings still intact. However, it is difficult to navigate, requiring a DC 15 Intelligence (Investigation) check to avoid getting lost.
3. 2d4 gricks with a 50% chance of a grick alpha among them.
4. An otyugh (50%) or an albino giant crocodile (50%).
5. 1d4 carrion crawlers.
6. 1d4 ghouls.
7. 2d10 larvae (see DMG Chapter 3 description of Hades).
8. 2d4 vargouilles.
9. A corpse mostly picked clean by scavengers, but it may have one of the following items: club of nettles, 1d6 copper coins, Dustmen robes, faction symbol of the Athar, healer's kit, incomplete map, necklace of cranium rat tails, rusty dagger, silver earring, or a wererat skull.
10. 1 cranium rat swarm.
11. 1d4 wererats on their way to or from the Wererat Kingdom. If they're heading to the kingdom, they may have captives or loot.
12. A group of "darkens" - criminals, madmen, and pariahs dwelling beneath Sigil's streets who survive by scavenging, they fear light and are suspicious of "Sigil Above." They include 2d6 thugs led by a guilt rogue or veteran.
13. 1d4 dabus on their way to or from their warrens. The dabus are under the effects of pass without trace and mislead spells cast at 9th level. Though they usually ignore other creatures, the dabus will offer the characters directions on a route back to the surface.
14. A secret society meeting in a warded dimly lit chamber. They may be faction agents of the Anarchists or Athar, Aoskarites, or fanatic cultists of a demon lord.
15. A talking stone face in the wall which seeks the characters' help to end its suffering by changing it back into a human being or by giving it the one thing it needs to join the stone (and end it's consciousness). It tells helpful characters the location of a treasure or a site they seek in Undersigil.
16. Family crypts containing several small treasures, but guarded by one or more of the following: a curse, traps, 1d4 direguard skeletons, or 1d4 ghasts.
My favourite is definitely the merchant selling catoblepas death cheese. :)
Thanks! Haha, yeah that was from some DRAGON article IIRC.
The tables are a mash up of the PSCS, Faction War section on Sigil, PSMCA2's Sigil encounter table, ward descriptions from IN THE CAGE, a few touches of PS:TORMENT (especially for Undersigil), and a bit of my own imagination. I have geared them to focus on challenges for characters levels 1-5 (since Sigil is billed as the equivalent of the low-level village starting area in the PSCS), but with the option for the DM to increase difficulty in some cases.
And if anyone sees a way to improve these tables or just specific entries, feel free to throw them at me!
How does this sound?
So you're the Efreeti Sultan and you want to get rid of this irksome archmage named Tzunk who just tried to lay siege to the City of Brass. The mage was large and had glowing turquoise skin, the Codex of the Infinite Planes carried before him unleashing cataclysmic destruction, but in the end the efreeti won. Naturally, you have your servants dismember him. Except he just won't die. So then you take each part of his body and you bind it in brass and send each part to a different plane or world. His hands, for example, are shackled in enchanted brass chains and placed in a tomb in the Barrens of Oerth that is trapped to high heaven.
But what about the seat of the mage's consciousness? What to do with his head? You seal it permanently in a brass mask (more like a full head enclosure), and then sink it in the River Styx. Tzunk will thus live out the remainder of his days in cold watery depths not remembering who he is. The enchantment of the brass mask reminds Tzunk everyday that he is being punished by the Sultan of the Efreet for hubris (a Sultan's gotta gloat, right?), but that is all he will know.
While he's down in the depths, something about his need to reunite his fragmented self and his lifelong quest for secrets and power via the Codex attracts lost memories and secrets to him. One of the ways he receives this knowledge is from the darklores which are mysteriously drawn to him. Perhaps his brass head becomes a prized piece of a shadowdrake's (styx dragon) hoard?
Then, centuries later, a fiend finds his head and lifts it from the depths. This fiend is a rakshasa maharajah who runs the conspiracy behind the Arcane Eye and seeks the Codex of the Infinite Planes. Gradually, Tzunk's head begins to remember things, but not yet his true identity, simply helping the fiends with their plan. However, as he recalls more, begins to suspect his true identity, Tzunk begins seizing control of the Arcane Eye behind the backs of the fiends. At last, he is ready to make his bid for power...
Tzunk establishes a demiplane lair. He has control over the fiends and thieves guild comprising the Arcane Eye. He has darklores at his command. He may even enslave the shadowdrake (Styx dragon) that kept him in its hoard. Tzunk seeks vengeance on the efreet, seeks to recover his fragmented self starting with his hands, and above all seeks the Codex which he yearns to master.
Nice! The Rakshasa thinks he can use Tzunks head as a somehow advanced mimir, but in truth Tzunk is manipulating him.
Thats also a great way to include the darklores! Imho this fits them better than a connection with Mnemosyne.
Edit: Maybe you should rethink/modify the crystalline(?) mask of Mnemosyne. Otherwise this might be too much focus on masks/faces (lillendi masks, janusian angel etc.).
Hmm, good point.
My original thinking with Mnemosyne being forcibly made to wear a crystalline mask had a couple things going on:
This is all fantastic material and fits really nicely together. The challenge is... how do the adventurers discover this information without being told? In other words, can you show what is happening through the actions of the heroes?
Yes, I can!
Let's take Tzunk as an example.
How do the PCs learn of Tzunk? While they investigate the Codex, they can come across books (e.g. in the Fortress of Disciplined Enlightenment, one of the adventure sites) that Tzunk used the Codex to lay siege to the City of Brass and failed. Alternately, if they pursue a quest to the City of Brass, any of the locals can tell them the story of how what is today the racetrack was created by the invader Tzunk who wielded the Codex.
But how do the PCs learn that Tzunk is back? It's a gradual reveal. During Chapter 4 (the adventure chapters are 3, 4, 5, and 6) the PCs discover the fiends behind the Arcane Eye were trawling the River Styx for Tzunk's head during their adventures in Pandemonium and/or Gehenna. They can also journey to the tomb of Tzunk's Hands to gain his hands and use them to find the Codex (this can happen during Chapter 4 or Chapter 5). In Chapter 5 they can confront the Rakshasa Maharajah who raised Tzunk's head directly, or witness inter-faction fighting in the Arcane Eye as Tzunk wrests control from the Rakhsasa. They can also journey to the lair of the Styx dragon that held Tzunk's head in its treasure hoard and to the City of Brass to learn of Tzunk's vulnerabilities.
I wanted to offer a quick look back at my design process, and then look forward to what's next.
Until now I've been iterating back and forth between 3 things:
Here's a more detailed/redesigned pencil sketch of the Saint of Keys, a half-naga cambion who appears in the adventure. He is the son of Parrafaire, naga trickster demigod of puzzles and guardianship of underground things. Also known as the Claviger, since he is based in Curst and a great many creatures and Planewalkers in Carceri rely on his keys to escape the Red Prison.
You can see the wing-less original here: http://www.planewalker.com/comment/509#comment-509
In the adventure, he holds a piece of the Lady's Key inside him which he plans to sell to the highest bidder. Of course, some fiends with less inclination to pay think they might cut it out of him. Little does the Claviger realize to free the piece of the Lady's Key inside him he must be immersed in the Arching Flame on Shekinester's Court of Light! What becomes of the Claviger if the PCs do force him to enter the Arcing Flame? It depends on the PC's actions in the adventure!
Nice! I really like the NPC and his role in the story. Especially the part with the Arching Flame.
Why did you choose to add wings?
Parrafaire has couatl-like wings. Succubi have wings. Since both parents have wings it just kind of made sense...you'll notice the wings are sort of a hybrid between the bat-like fiendish kind of a succubus and the more feathery kind of a couatl.
Also, the fact that he can fly makes for an interesting complication for PCs trying to forcibly bring him to the Arcing Flame. Do they bind his wings? Put him on a leash? Trust in their smooth talking negotiations? I'm also devising a point in the Court of Light where the (presumably captive) Saint can try to turn the tables on the PCs...I'm thinking triggering some hazard that a flying creature can easily avoid.
I'm thinking he uses alter self (3/day) to assume a more inconspicuous tiefling guise as the "Claviger" a simple gate key trader specializing in keys needed to leave Carceri. After all, his special ability (locating any key described to him) would make him something of a feather in the cap of any fiendish commander who abducted him, so the Saint prefers to be hidden.
Hey, now that my writing is well underway, I am interested in getting feedback on some of my work thus far on The Codex of the Infinite Planes (name may change).
Would anyone be interested in reviewing parts of what I've written? There's no way to upload here, but I could email it to you in PDF format, create a GoogleDoc, or possibly upload at ENWorld.
The sections I have written so far include:
Introduction (The Story Thus Far, Using This Book, Antagonists, Factions)
Appendix A: Monster & NPCs
I'm not looking for fine proof reading or editing, just overall impressions and any constructive criticism that comes to mind. The only part where I am looking specifically for 5e mechanical feedback is the Appendix A, everything else is more about story, flow, layout, etc.
Sure, I'd be glad to help.
I don't know much about 5E mechanics, though.
Cool, thanks! Here is the shareable GoogleDocs link to the PDF:
Let me know if it doesn't work you.
Beware that it's kind of chaotic now, so only the sections that I've mentioned (Intro, Ironridge, Dwarves Mountain, Appendix A) are really coherent. There are cool little tidbits tucked away in the rest of it, but my brain was still in "primary process" creative mode so there's lots of placeholders or idea fragments.
I'll take a look at it at the weekend.
I really like the layout, the fonts, the general structure and the overall look of the pdf. Very orderly and neatly arranged.
So far there seem to be no maps included. As some of the locations are very hard to describe, maps would be very useful (personally I never liked encounter-/battle-maps, though).
Do you plan to use some kind of encounter format? Probably not, as all stats will be found in the appendix. I definitely prefer that compared to the encounter format used in late 3rd/4th edition which imho made it very hard to read through the adventures. Don’t know how other players feel about that.
There are several time jumps regarding Pre/Post Faction War. For example the Factions are presented as before the Faction War, while it is mentioned that Alluvius Ruskin got thrashed in the events of Faction War, Korteel is mentioned to be a Sodkiller…
It would probably be best to write everything Pre Faction War and include conversion notes in the Player’s Companion. Otherwise this might be a little bit confusing for DMs who don’t know that much about Planescape.
The marks look very interesting. How often will the special abilities come into play? Some of them (the imperious archmage, the unbound fiend) look a little bit weaker than the others as I can’t see many opportunities for using these abilities.
Mnemosyne’s Mask – Hmmh I’d opt for the crystalline firmament instead.
Arcane Eye motto: “I spy with my arcane eye…”
Do you plan to use the harp/string or the skull of Immendor? Why not both? The string might have been the original loot, but the skull looked promising too (on the other hand the skull might, again, create a too strong focus on heads/faces: Tzunk, the mimir, the Sybill…).
At some points you mix up the name of the dwarven prophet Garmundi as Garamundi or Garabaldi.
Endgame: Mnemosyne hesitates in revealing the Queen’s True Name is known to the codex, and in a passion the Queen of Air and Darkness plunges her into the River Styx and curses her to never remember. Many secrets are lost with Mnemosyne, including critical clues about sealing the Rift.
I really like that. Nothing better than a tragic ending/fate (but who knows…) for such a great character as Mnemosyne.
I would not include adventure-specific descriptions of locations/adventure sites (like the Abode of the Painted Mage) in the Introduction description of Sigil’s Wards. This is rather confusing as, at that point, you don’t know yet what to do with all the information and later - when your're actually playing this part - you will have to browse back to find the location.
You should definitely add a description of the flair and style of the Wards. Something like this:Lived in by Sigil's very rich upper class, the Lady's Ward is the vicious playground of the Cage's most powerful players.
While the streets of the Lady's Ward are dark, clean, and forboding, the Ward's inns are the most elegant and expensive in all of Sigil. Such eateries as Fortune's Wheel cater to the tastes of the posh bloods who live and play in the highup political games of the city - the more abundant lower classes much prefer the more friendly and affordable eateries of the neighboring Market Ward.http://www.mimir.net/psmush/wards.shtml
I’d include a explanation for the portal table on page 42 (when/why to use it).
The chapter headlines should include information about the tiers/levels of the adventure(s).
It might be comfortable to include a time table for some of the adventures to give the DM a better conception of the expected flow of events.
e.g. Dwarven Mountain1st Day
Atanishan steals the string of the Clarion Harp
The PCs enter the Dwarven Mountain and can explore Strongale Hall…2nd Day
The PCs are are contacted by the shadowfiend Vaortha
The portal is reopened - The PCs are free to leave for Sigil
Looks really, really good so far! I'm very impressed!
Thanks, mate! Very helpful feedback :)
Anyhow, here's my thinking: I want to create something maximally useful to groups new to Planescape, old-timers who dislike Faction War, and those who embraced Faction War. Also, I want players familiar with Torment to think "yeah, I recognize this as Planescape."
Outright ignoring Faction War, as you suggest, would appeal to old-timers like myself. However, it ignores the D&D continuity where it is confirmed the Faction War happened in several 3e and 4e books that describe Sigil (e.g. Planar Handbook, Manual of the Planes). For players unfamiliar with Planescape but who are familiar with those 3e or 4e books might be confused if the Sigil writeup ignores that stuff.
I guess I've gone for a hybrid approach that presents the factions in their purest form without explicitly linking them to the civil government of Sigil or mentioning their factors by name. I didn't get hung up on the Sons of Mercy / Sodkillers split or the Godsmen / Signer merger, figuring that those didn't involve the entirety of the faction across the planes, just the faction members in Sigil. I've also presented a more flattering view of the Harmonium and Mercykillers, which were pretty well demonized in the original books.
I probably should remove mention of the Sodkillers, though.
I would not include adventure-specific descriptions of locations/adventure sites (like the Abode of the Painted Mage) in the Introduction description of Sigil’s Wards. This is rather confusing as, at that point, you don’t know yet what to do with all the information and later - when your're actually playing this part - you will have to browse back to find the location.
On the other hand, I want to include Sigil site descriptions under the Sigil chapter because that encourages a more "sandboxy" style of gaming; a DM who has the PCs running amok in Sigil can scroll thru the chapter and think "oh, cool, a wererat kingdom is in Sigil and about my party's level!" That kind of easy flexibility is lost when the Sigil site descriptions are scattered throughout the book.
Time tables in adventures are a double-edged sword. You're absolutely right they can help to clarify things for a DM, but they can also feel constraining when the PCs do something unexpected. For your example "1st Day The PCs enter the Dwarves Mountain and can explore Strongale Hall", what if they hole up in Ironridge and don't go to Dwarves Mountain until several days later? That would then throw off anything in the time table assuming, for example, on Day 2 the PCs encounter something in Dwarven Mountain.
I just uploaded my rough draft of the Infinite Planes Player's Guide over here: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?356650-Planescape-Fantasy-Taken-to-the-Edge-(5e-conversion)/page6&p=6623757#post6623757
The faction write-ups are in Chapter 3.
Yes, it's a bit of an ambiguous middle ground. I actually did this very intentionally. Maybe it doesn't work?
I'm torn on this point. On one hand, I get your point.
It's not self-evident? It's a random table for the DM to use however he/she sees fit, basically. What did you have in mind?
That would then throw off anything in the time table assuming, for example, on Day 2 the PCs encounter something in Dwarven Mountain.
Are the faction abilities based on the 3.5 faction affiliations? We've used them over several years in our campaign but I can't remember where I found them or who originally created them.
The faction abilities are based on every source I had, so yes including some of the 3e conversions in DRAGON, but mainly from the 2e FACTOL'S MANIFESTO which provided faction characters with scaling abilities.
Occasionally I had to improversive a new ability to get them to make sense with 5e mechanics as well as narratively. I think this was most notable with the Fated.
Hey Quickleaf, any news regarding the campaign?
Unfortunately, WotC hasn't released any sort of game license for 5e, so publishers now are stuck using the d20 OGL and cunning legal acrobatics.
Which is great.
But Planescape is really WotC's baby in terms of copyright law, and I just don't see it possible to extricate the various Intellectual Properties (Lady of Pain, Sigil, Blood War, the Great Wheel of the Outer Planes, etc) from the setting.
So doing it as a sellable project is a no go right now.
My gaming group decided to do some traditional pseudo-medieval D&D gaming, and so I haven't had a reason to pursue it for my own gaming group.
Coupled with the demands of my doctorate program, doing it as a personal project is a no go currently.
*Maybe* if I had a great team, but doing it on my lonesome is just too much work.
At some point I hope to come back to this project, so I'm saving my files and backing them up on GoogleDrive, but for now it's on the back burner.
Yeah, the nonexistent game license is a huge problem indeed.
And as for real life... well it's a real pity one can't spend his whole time workin on crazy Planescape stuff but sometimes you have to set priorities! ;)
Good luck with your doctorate programme!
I really enjoyed discussing the campaign with you. Hopefully you'll be able to get back to it at some point in the future.