5th edition Planescape Campaign

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Quickleaf
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5th edition Planescape Campaign

I am writing a Planescape mega-adventure for 5th edition, that can be used as both a complete campaign and as modular planar adventure sites. I'm not sure how it will be published yet, still a work-in-progress.

For anyone joining the thread, the premise is that the Codex of the Infinite Planes has reemerged, and a bunch of secret societies are trying to get their hands on it. The characters face a planes-spanning conspiracy that has fractured the boundaries between the planes, pitting them against fiends, power-mad mages, the Unseelie Court, dead gods, elder entities, and the shattered remnants of Tzunk. The ultimate prize: The Codex. But death is the kindest of ill fates awaiting those who would brave its damned pages.

Currently I'm aiming for the following finished products:

  • A 288-page Mega-Adventure for levels 1-20
  • An online Player's Companion with new races (bariaur, githzerai, rogue modron), new spells, and faction write-ups
  • An online DM's Supplement with odds & ends that either didn't fit in the mega-adventure, are needed to run the adventure for a DM who doesn't own the MM / DM, or just seem helpful but optional
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PDFs
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Infinite Planes Player's Companion
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0Z7ZsrO9VLBc25QX1pUTEZ3NTQ/view?usp=sharing
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Codex of the Infinite Planes
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0Z7ZsrO9VLBU3FkblkyQTh4R0U/view?usp=sharing
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Player's Guide to Planescape, 5e
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0Z7ZsrO9VLBVUtITGRDeWw4a28/view?usp=sharing
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You can find my original post in spoilers below...
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Spoiler: Highlight to view
Hi there hoi polloi! It's been a while, but it is good to see Planewalker recovering from the crash :)

I've been thinking about running a Planescape game with 5th edition rules, about how I'd convert things...

EDIT: You can find my conversion effort to date over here: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?356650-Planescape-Fantasy-Taken-to-the-Edge-(5e-conversion) So far it includes several planar races, guidelines for magic conditions on the planes, and comprehensive coverage of the factions.

EDIT: Turns out I am not the only one! Here is a great conversion of Planescape races/factions by Jacob Driscoll: http://daedaluswing.wikidot.com/start He writes up several planar races, factions as backgrounds, new class options, and has some great thoughts on Planescape campaigning.

I recall a 2012 RPG Codex interview with Monte Cook, where he said:

"Faction War was never meant to be the end of PS. There was supposed to be a follow-up adventure/sourcebook that rebuilt things. But the line was cancelled before it could come out. A real shame."
http://www.rpgcodex.net/content.php?id=8374

I know there was and is controversy about Faction War, but this quote really put it into perspective for me. Maybe tweaking the factions to make them more playable at the table is a good thing...Faction War provides a story reason to explain the change. For example, having the Mercykillers reform as Sons of Mercy makes them more friendly to a party that includes your typical rogue, and provides plot hooks about redeeming bad guys rather than killing them. Personally, I'm inclined to really change the Fated, since they always struck me as an excuse to power game and play evil characters...maybe they could be remade as the Fateless (Fatemakers, Cheaters) who oppose predestination, believe everyone can make their own happy ending, and focus on cheating prophecies, sabotaging oracles, rescuing those "fated" to a bad ending, etc.

What about you? What would you change up? New factions you would add? Or ideas for converting to 5e?

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Well none of my gaming groups

Well none of my gaming groups shows any interest in 5th edition so far, so I guess we will stick with 2nd/3.5 Ed.

The Basic Rules look interesting but as I did not follow the playtest I have no idea how the new rules actually work.

As for Faction War I always thought there should be a trilogy of adventures (rule of three). Maybe something involving Jeremo the Natterer and his helmet of the dabus or the Soulcage idea from the Mimir site http://mimir.net/musee/soulcage.html. Nevertheless I like the post-Faction War situation and think it should last at least several years before another major change occurs.

I never saw a problem with the playability of the pre-Faction War factions as I think the philosophies can be played in many different ways. Not every member of the Fated has to be the the stereotypical heartless sigilian tax collector, e.g. your Fateless idea might work well for a chaotic good, independent member of the Fated from Ysgard. But of course Faction War is a good explanation why this interpretation of the Fated philosophy might become more prominent afterwards.

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Jeremo the Natterer...just

Jeremo the Natterer...just double checked my copy of "In the Cage" and found him. Odd NPC, no background, just has a strange knack for predicting new portals, has a mysterious helmet that lets him "speak" dabus, his hands in the civil service, and plans to take control of the Ring-givers. Why that NPC?

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Thats a good question

Thats a good question actually. Maybe I just interpreted too much into the ‘Lady’s Jester’ nickname and the helm of the dabus but Jeremo always struck me as one of the most interesting NPCs. Lots of potential and lots of questions to be asked: Where does his knack to predict portals come from? Where did he find the helm of the dabus? Does the helm have additional powers and could it be used to influence the dabus on a larger scale? Why does the Lady tolerate somebody who proclaims to act as ‘her’ jester? Does the helm somehow protect Jeremo from the Lady’s wrath as she thinks him to be a dabus?
The same with the Palace of the Jester as one of the oldest buildings in Sigil: What lies below the Palace? Is there any special connection to the dabus and why do even the Ladys servants seem to exchange nervous glances within it's halls?

One of Shemeskas storyhours also features an episode below the Palace of the Jester which fits quite well with some of the questions mentioned above.

I don’t have a concrete sequence for this ‘The Ladys Jester’ scenario yet (it will probably take 10 or more years of playing till we get there anyway) but some of the elements I plan to include are:

• The helm of the dabus (maybe an attempted theft) and Jeremos paranoia of losing it
• Attempts to influence the dabus via the helm
• Exploration of the Palace of the Jester (maybe with some elements borrowed from the mentioned episode of Shemeskas storyhour)
• The phirblas, the demiplane of Inphirblau and reference to a possible origin of the dabus (there's a phirbla entry on the lomion page but I’m not sure if it’s legal to post it here)
• Fell
• A very special Mimir (actually not a real Mimir but the animated skull of Omar the anarchist who became factol of the Harmonium)
• And of course lots of barmy favors lot’s of bloods owe to barmy Jeremo

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Hmm, so it sounds like Jeremo

Hmm, so it sounds like Jeremo may have taken over the Ring-givers and established their base of operations in the Palace of the Jester?

Actually, is there a source that lists the changes in faction leadership/headquarters that Faction War wrought? I know Faction War gives little info & Dragon #339 a little, but it's all very scant.

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There was another (4th ed.)

There was another (4th ed.) article in Dragon Magazine about the Mercykillers.

The best source ist probably the Post-Faction-War Campaign Setting PDF from the folks here at Planewalker. http://mimir.planewalker.com/sites/default/files/chapter3.pdf

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It really is impressive how

It really is impressive how much work the Planewalker team put into the conversion and story writing. It's been a few years, but my hats off to them :)

Since traffic is slow here post-crash (and the bbcode is acting funny), I have started a 5th edition conversion thread over at ENWorld: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?356650-Planescape-Fantasy-Taken-to-the-Edge-(5e-conversion)

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@quickleaf - don't forget to

@quickleaf - don't forget to let them know we're back up and running. Maybe you can help lead the migration back? :)

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Absolutely! Planewalker was

Absolutely! Planewalker was always one of my favorite sites! Good luck with the recovery of the database :)

Btw, I'm sure you are aware...but I've been having trouble with bbcode on the forums.

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I am shifting gears to focus

I am shifting gears to focus on preparing my Planescape campaign for 5e, so expect more specific story ideas from here on out. This is both for my gaming group & something I would like to turn into a finished product to share with other fans.

Right now I'm writing the first adventure, since I tend to believe in the "prepare what you will play" mantra. But I do have an overarching campaign idea I'd love feedback on.

A Rift opens in the planes (a "breach" in 3e/4e speak), effecting locations on the Prime, the Outlands, Carceri, and the Astral. Astral Searchers streak from the sky and several catastrophes are associated with the Rift opening. It coincides with a transplanar "meteor shower" originating in the Astral which dates back to the time of Aoskar, who was said to guard the planes against whatever lurked in the astral storm. The true cause of the Rift, however, was an NPC using the Codex of the Infinite Planes, the Rift being a catatrophic side effect of using the Codex. The PCs are affected by the Rift, investigate its mystery, find out how to prevent it from spreading or closing it, while dealing with the conspiracy that caused the Rift.

The idea is to provide a setup which can involve both prime and planar PCs, adventures which can be linked together in a campaign by a common theme (like "Well of Worlds") or used independently, and to really explore Planescape's unique themes and diversity. The Rift idea picks up on hints throughout PS books which allude to conduits as tears in the fabric of reality, and planar boundaries being more permeable than conventionally thought.

I have more ideas, but that's the core concept... what do you think?

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Interesting idea. The concept

Interesting idea. The concept with connecting plot reminds me more of "Tales from the Infinite Staircase" than "Wells of Worlds".
How many seperate adventures do you have in mind?

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Yes, you're right, it's more

Yes, you're right, it's more along the lines of "Infinite Staircase" than "Well of Worlds." Actually I've gone back thru some of the old adventures and pulled hooks and ideas from them, including a lillend mask society & the Planewalker's Guild from the former.

I'm thinking about 12-14 adventures that cover roughly a level and a half each, and are organized into four chapters according to the "Tier of Play" concept. The idea is you can run it as an entire campaign, you can take one chapter and run it as a large adventure or mini-campaign for 4-5 levels, or you can take just one adventure to tweak it into something unique for your own campaign.

Here's a rough outline so far (though nothing is set in stone):

Chapter 1. Mystery of the Mark (levels 1-4)
In which the PCs are thrust into the midst of a planar rift which marks them, and investigate what caused the rift and what the marking means.

Chapter 2. The Lady's Key (level 5-10)
In which the PCs investigate erratic behavior of Sigil's portals - a byproduct of the rift - and seek out the mythical "Lady's Key" scattered across the planes to stabilize them.

Chapter 3. Blood of Aoskar (levels 11-16)
In which the PCs seek the dead god Aoskar who has answers about the rift, ultimately leading to a bizarre maze bridging the Ethereal and Astral Planes.

Chapter 4. A Conspiracy of Doors (levels 17-20)
In which the PCs hunt down the masterminds behind the rift, a conspiracy around the Codex of the Infinite Planes, trying to stay one step ahead of the conspirators.

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BBCode has gotten sorted now,

BBCode has gotten sorted now, so you should be seeing that working properly now.

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Sounds great.

Sounds great.
And like a lot of work.

What plans do you have for the starting adventure?
I think it might be fun to have two separate adventures (one for planars and one for primes) which converge at the beginning of the second adventure of "Mystery of the Mark". If both sides are able to bring in some "clues" from their former adventure this would make a fine reason for working together and forming an adventuring party.

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I love that idea, but IME

I love that idea, but IME very few game tables can make that sort of radical party split work. I mean, they're on completely different adventures so you either need to (a) be jumping back and forth intensely in a single session, or (b) schedule additional game times and invite each "mini-party" over separately. IME gamer groups tend not to work that way, instead you get the whole gang coming over as more-or-less a single unit.

However, I've done a lot of work on the first adventure and I'm going back over it to try and incorporate your great idea of clues unique to primes & planers that make them stronger when put together. The premise is the PCs are either in Ironridge in the Outlands (planars) or the Empyrean Temple in the mountains of their home world (primes), to watch a celestial event visible on multiple planes that looks like an astral meteor shower. I've come up with different lore for what primes and planar would know/believe about it. Something goes catastrophically wrong and a Rift tears between the planes, merging the prime temple, a site in Carceri, and the Astral with Ironridge in the Outlands. Realizing that the dwarven petitioners of the nearby Dwarven Mountain somehow had advance warning of the Rift, needing shelter from the dangers of the Rift, and a portal to Sigil (after the one in Ironridge was destroyed by the Rift), the PCs need to find a way into Dwarven Mountain where Vergadain, the dwarven god of wealth, luck, and cunning keeps a secret of the Rift the PCs want to discover.

The adventure, Mountain Specters, is meant for levels 1-2 and is divided into two parts:

1. Ironridge in Chaos - a BANG adventure starter, some low-level monsters to fight, lots to explore, clues to piece together, and a decision about how to enter Dwarven Mountain (there are at least 5 ways)

2. Strongale Hall - a mystery with a trio of hidden villains, very little fighting (except for potentially the villains), lots to explore, lots of role-playing, some hilarity (see Hangover Situation table), a high-stakes gambling game, a bit of philosophy/moral dilemma around isolationism

By the end of the adventure the PCs should have a lead to a thieves guild called the Arcane Eye which had detailed foreknowledge of the Rift's coming that Vergadain gained thru a stroke of luck at the gambling tables. The also realize they've been marked but aren't yet certain what that means. The adventure ends when they use the portal to Sigil.

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Wow, sounds like a very cool

Wow, sounds like a very cool adventure setup and an awesome start for a Planescape campaign.
Dwarves, hangover and philosophy - what more could a player want?

Will your campaign include any of the NPCs mentioned in Zeb Cooks "Plane Truth"?

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Dwarves, hangover, and philosophy

Dwarves, hangover, and philosophy. Hah, I'm so using that as my adventure pitch :)

Actually yes, I loved that short story! I'm planning on incorporating Fallendor (in the tattooed body of the paladin) as "The Painted Mage", possibly an Incantifier; he's definitely part of an ensemble of NPCs tied to the Codex. Probably will include the paladin (can't recall his name) in some way too.

I actually have a thread where I'm brainstorming ideas for Vergadain's realm (Strongale Hall) in Dwarven Mountain: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?356873-Vergadain-and-adventures-in-Dwarven-Mountain
There's an encounter table I'm putting together, a list of sites in the hall, some thoughts about dragons appropriate to Vergadain's realm & as encounters for low-level PCs, and a Hangover Situations table because...well...it's funny :)

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Campaign arc brainstorming

I was just going over my extensive notes and came away with a couple "themes" I want to incorporate in this campaign / adventure anthology:

  1. A Rift between the planes that is a persistent threat/mystery
  2. Codex of the Infinite Planes - it's recent use (by an Incantifier?) precipitated the Rift, and I always thought it should play a leading role in a Planescape adventure
  3. Aoskar, dead god of portals, and what really befell him - "Mazed with complications" - he is referred to throughout PS material and seems like he should play a critical role in the campaign
  4. Lady of Pain's control of Mazes and portals wavering - Lady's fallibility hinted at in Doors to the Unknown and In the Cage, and makes for a compelling dilemma and opportunity for PCs
  5. Spellweavers, yep those six-armed magical alien dudes, always seemed underutilized and make a terrific multiverse-scale threat to drive a campaign
  6. Queen of Air & Darkness, so much underutilized potential in evil fey, plus the A.E.Housman poem scream to have her take a prominent role in a campaign
  7. The titaness Mnemosyne escapes from Carceri, the idea of Carceri being breached is hinted at in source material and also Vortex of Madness, and "Memory" as a living entity makes for a compelling adventure hook
  8. Rakshasa Maharaja with a vast criminal empire seeking the Codex, the reincarnating rakshasa seem like superb planar masterminds and underutilized villains, plus allows ties to be made between diverse organizations governed by the rakshasa
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Hmm, is that too much going on for a level 1-20 campaign?
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Looking at this list, lots of interesting connections start to emerge. For example, in the Ecology of the Spellweaver, we know that Spellweavers seek out gems scattered across the multiverse that contain fragments of the Code of Reversion, an epic spell which can turn back the clock to before the fall of their empire. Who else on that list has a connections to gems? Well, the Queen of Air & Darkness was apparently corrupted into her current form by a Black Diamond, the titaness Mnemosyne was alluded to having ioun stones important to her in Vortex of Madness IIRC, and the Lady of Pain once used a magic gemstone as a prison for Darkwood who tried to usurp her in Faction War. What if the Queen is trying to unlock the secrets of the Black Diamond and needs ancient lore from the Spellweaver gems to do it? What if Mnemosyne remembers secrets from before recorded history, sects of the Spellweavers' fall, the Queen of Air and Darkness' true name, or where the Lady's secret vaults deep in Pandemonium are? And what if her freedom from Carceri shattered a network of ioun stones the Greek gods used to deceive her with false memories, and now fragments of what she remembers are scattered across the planes when she broke free if Carceri? What if there are other prisoners of the Lady in other gems, and an ancient Spellweaver is among them?
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Well that’s quite a lot of

Well that’s quite a lot of stuff for one campaign, but I really like it. Especially the idea about the connection between the Queen of Air and Darkness and the escaped Titan. I’d distribute the “themes” evenly between the chapters of your campaign, as too many parallel plotlines might be a bit confusing.

3. Aoskar – Maybe you could include the “Will of One” and it’s attempts to imagine Aoskar back to life. The Planar Rift might just be the sign they have waited for. Not sure if the Will of One is now a part of the Minds Eye, though.
5. Spellweavers – not sure about the spellweavers, they just don’t really appeal to me. "Secrets of the Soul Pillars" (Shackled City AP) in Dungeon 109 takes place in Spellweaver ruins.
6. Queen of Air & Darkness – maybe 4th editions Feywild/Shadowfell-related material holds some interesting adventure seeds. Here is a link to another take on the QoAaD:
http://my-realms.blogspot.de/2014/03/silver-marches-queen-of-air-darkness-0.html
7. Mnemosyne – Love it. I always wondered how to use the material in “Vortex of Madness” but that sounds like a perfect opportunity.
8. Rakshasa – I totally agree. My next sub-campaign is about the machinations of a Rakshasa and his mercenary company on Acheron.

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@KnightofDecay Thanks for

@KnightofDecay Thanks for your comments! Yeah, there might be too much, but I tend to prefer too many ideas while brainstorming and then whittle down to what is essential.

3. Aoskar - Yep, I plan to include the Will of One (and the mage Origax and dabus Fell) as a sect trying to bring back Aoskar. I also plan on including his blood (supposedly a universal gate key) as being an important McGuffin.

5. Spell weavers - DRAGON 338 had a great ecology article on them that makes them a lot more compelling as adversaries who are trying to reassemble the Code of Reversion, a spell which will rewind time to the point before their empire's collapse to a dangerous experiment (either to merge the planes OR ascend to godhood).

6. Queen of Air & Darkness - Yeah the idea of Lolth becoming (are trying to become) the Queen was something I thought about, but I'm also a little unsure about Auril, a FR goddess, having the title. The Queen seems to fit the archfey mold far better to me. Not a lot on her in 4e unfortunately, though that does give me room to make up stuff to fill in the gaps.

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Campaign outline & Ironridge sketch

Here's my work-in-progress campaign outline. It's shaping up nicely, though I'm looking for ways to increase player choices and make their choices meaningful, particularly with ways to shake up the normal adventure path format: A > B > C. I suspect 5th edition's bounded accuracy will let players attempt challenges from a broader level range with some clever thinking.

Hash tags (#) are used to denote adventures I'm not sure about yet.

Chapter 1: Mystery of the Mark


In which the PCs are thrust into the midst of a planar rift which marks them, and investigate what caused the rift and what the marking means.
  • Mountain Specters (levels 1-2) Outlands (Ironridge, Dwarven Mountain)
  • Canary in the Cage (levels 2-3) Sigil
  • The Two-Faced Sibyl (level 4) Sigil, Bytopia, Infinite Staircase
.

Chapter 2: The Lady's Key


In which the PCs investigate erratic behavior of Sigil's portals - a byproduct of the rift - and seek out the mythical "Lady's Key" scattered across the planes to stabilize them.
  • Saint of Keys (levels 5-6) Sigil, Outlands (Curst, Shekinester's Court of Light)
  • Between a Cog and a Hard Place (levels 6-7) Mechanus, Limbo
  • #A Mirror Darkly? (levels 8-9) Gehenna, #?
  • # (levels 9-10)
.

Chapter 3: Blood of Aoskar


In which the PCs seek the dead god Aoskar who has answers about the rift, ultimately leading to a bizarre maze bridging the Ethereal and Astral Planes.
  • The Leafless Tree (levels 11-12) Sigil, Plane of Faerie (Souk of the Shadow Fey, Murkroot Trade Moot), Yggdrasil
  • Shattered Portals (levels 12-13) Sigil, #Elemental Planes?, Infinite Staircase
  • Aoskar's Maze (levels 14-15) Demi-plane, Astral, Ethereal
  • Fettered Lies (levels 15-16) Sigil, Baator
.

Chapter 4: A Conspiracy of Doors


In which the PCs hunt down the masterminds behind the rift, a conspiracy around the Codex of the Infinite Planes, trying to stay one step ahead of the conspirators.
  • #The Tower Sorcerous? The Arcane Eye? (levels 17-18) 
  • #Against the Spellweavers? (levels 18-19)
  • #Codex? (level 20)

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Sound great, very promising

Sounds great, very promising adventure titles and locations.

Another way to give the PCs "where to go next?"-decisions more meaning might be sending them to planes with a different flow of time (Astral Plane, Ethereal Plane, certain Demi-Planes, maybe Primes). This puts some pressure on the PCs and they have to act tactically, as the consequences of a wrong decision might be quite serious.
I'm not quite sure how the flow of time on the various planes has changed with the different editions, though (we are using 2nd Ed. planes, with some modifications from 3rd Ed.).

Very cool picture too!

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Adventure design principles

Cool idea about different time flows! Thanks for the feedback @KnightofDecay :)

I've become more comfortable with thinking of this as an adventure path and not a sandbox That said, it's not going to be strictly linear and I'm planning on oroviding lots of flexibly to players within the adventures as to which challenges they engage and how they handle them. I have also settled on some main design goals:

  • Capture the PLANESCAPE feel, but don't be afraid to deviate from the source material. For example, two-faced Janusean Angels of Bytopia. They will be a thing in my adventures, but I'm not going to imply they need to make an overwhelming appearance or ram them down a DM's throat; I will use new stuff when is seems like the best tool for the job.
  • Allow for significant player agency while still having a strong overarching story that connects everything. At all times they should feel like they have a strong party direction, but never should feel like they can't deviate from that for a while or that they have no say in the resolution. Provide meaningful choices, multiple approaches being able to solve the problem, and opportunity for players to see how they change the planes up close.
  • Use some of the lesser known PLANESCAPE monsters, planes/sites, and sects (from the CRPG too!). And when necessary sexy them up. For example, see what WotC is doing with the Elemental Planes as having border regions where they contact the Prime Material Planes.
  • Go big with the themes and consequences of adventures! Really let them reshape the planes. Don't be afraid to answer Planescape mysteries when necessary (though leave out the setting-defining ones like the Lady of Pain and the Center of the Multiverse). Aoskar, the secret history of the gautierre race, and the origin of the Codex of Infinite Planes are all fair game, however.
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Mystery of the Mark

One element that I want to play up is that the PCs are marked by their contact with the Rift. This is primarily a non-physical marking, an impression that powerful plane-ripping astral energies have left upon them. Over the course of the first 4 levels of adventure they'll learn more about what this means, each gaining a unique minor ability related to how the Rift has marked them. I could use some help figuring out what this means.

So far, I'm thinking of creating 7-8 types of mark, archetypes of a sort, which the players can choose from once they consult the Two-Faced Sibyl at level 4 or thereabouts. Each mark will provide a minor ability, describe how the Rift impacted the character, and also serve as a story que for the DM. The marks I've come up with so far include:

The Astral Guardian
The Conduit
The Gatecrasher
The Plane Seer
The Portal Key
The Rift Shaper

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Hmmm, thinking of Zeb Cooks

Hmmm, thinking of Zeb Cooks description of the Codex of the Infinite Planes and the "pictures" it paints in Fallendors dreams it would seem logical to me, that the marks assigns each of the PCs to a certain "picture" in the Codex, thus creating a corresponding event/place/time/reality.
All of the marks have very pictoral namens and refer to different planar concepts, so this should work quite well.

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Further thoughts on marks

Another interesting idea! That suggests that each mark might be tied to some kind of a specialized trap in the Codex as well as being tied to a unique planar touchstone site. I will have to think more about it, but I like the idea. So far, at least, I know that each mark gives a minor power, so Portal Key actually turns the character into a gate key for a certain secret portal (or perhaps even lets the PC attune to a portal they possess the gate key for, *becoming* the new gate key him or herself!). Or the Gatecrasher gains the ability to erect a gate ward or gate seal on a portal. On both powers there will probably be a once per day (long rest) limit.

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1st adventure: Mountain Specters

I'm going to get into the nitty gritty of designing the first adventure tentatively called "Mountain Specters". It takes place in the Outlands, Ironridge & Dwarven Mountain to be specific. I've already been working on it, including designing part of Dwarven Mountain as a distinctly PLANAR site as opposed to just another dwarf stronghold. So I'll focus on areas where I'm stumped or need help with answering a story question.

So here's my first dilemma/question:

The Tiefling played at the high-stakes gambling tables in Vergadain's Strongale Hall and was on the cusp of winning a treasure from Vergadain's Treasury. Her victory seemed assured, and the treasure was brought out from the vaults for her to examine. However, at the last moment her luck took a dive and she lost it all. This was all part of her ruse to get access to the treasure and tamper with it... To what end? And what was the treasure?

Other relevant details:

  • The Tiefling Atanishan (Pl/female Tiefling/rogue 6 [arcane trickster]/N or NE/Fateless) is a member of the Arcane Eye Thieves Guild based out of Sigil and is secretly the daughter of the guildmaster Old Graycloak. She is a femme fatale, has a gypsy vibe, is loyal to the guild but has her own agenda, and is skilled at spellslinging with dual wands. She does not appear in this adventure directly, but the fallout of her scheming foreshadows her appearance in the 2nd adventure.
  • The Tiefling knew about the Rift in advance, and warned the dwarves of the approximate day it would happen (albeit in vague terms). She did this not out of good will but to manipulate the dwarves into sealing the Mountain to allow her accomplice Geleg Cragsveld, a dwarven priest of Abbathor & guild ally, to commit some evil act of sabotage/leverage in Dwarven Mountain.
  • The dwarves suspected the Tiefling of cheating and having ulterior motives and tried to keep her in the Mountain until they could figure out the truth of the matter. However, the 25,000 good coins the Tiefling brought with her turned out to be sedated creeping coins / lock lurkers which caused chaos when they awakened. Coupled with inteligence from her accomplice, this allowed the Tiefling to escape to Sigil.
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Trademark Infringement

This is off-topic; but, I do have to point out that I penned the "Tiefling-With-No-Name" name on this thread about the Outlands
http://mimir.planewalker.com/forum/wild-west-planes

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Maybe she wanted to have a

Maybe she wanted to

  • have a look at it (photagraphic memory) and have the the treasure sealed away again, so no one would recognize its importance.
  • exchanged one object with a forgery.
  • manipulated an object which will become important later in the campaign (thus sending the PCs into the waiting arms of the Arcane Eye).
  • didn't actually steal but added something to the treasure.
  • she only wants to create the impression that she actually did something to the treasure, forcing the dwarves to open their vault again to a later point.
  • help the church of Abbathor in some plan to destabilize the dwarven mountain.

Just some thoughts.
The main question is, what ist the ultimate goal of the Arcane Eye? Do you already know what the Arcane Eye adventure in Chapter 4 will be about?

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Apologies! Apologies! & Chapter 4 Arcane Eye

@Palomides Ack! Didn't even realize you had written that! Sorry, probably had snuck its way into my brain; I was trying to avoid saying "Nameless" since I recalled that as both a Tiefling NPC in one of the game books and also evocative of the Nameless One. I think I'll just write her as "The Tiefling" from the perspective of the dwarves cause she didn't give her name (and tieflings are rare in Dwarven Mountain).

@KnightofDecay
Those are great ideas, thanks! I'm going to mull them over and see what I come up with.

The Arcane Eye specializes in smuggling forbidden magic, stealing artifacts & abstract things (e.g. name, shadow, soul), procuring vile spell components, trading in rare enslaved magic species, and getting wizards in debt to them. Probably deal in some kind of addictive wizard stimulant drug too. They have a HQ in Sigil's Lower Ward and another HQ in Gehenna connected by portal. The guildmaster Old Graycloak (a blind Tiefling rogue/wizard...possibly cursed by the Codex) is the leader, overseeing the guild's operations, but the real power behind the guild is a Rakshasa Maharajah.

The adventure in Chapter 4 will be about this Rakshasa Maharajah and his (or possibly her?) lifelong quest for the Codex of the Infinite Planes. I'm probably going to make him (or her?) the mastermind behind various planar conspiracies like the Illuminated (The Eternal Boundary), the Sarex (PSCS), and the Tacharim (Great Modron March). It may involve the PCs realizing the true power behind the Arcane Eye after dealing several blows to that thieves guild, and competing with the top agents of the guild when the Tower Sorcerous (of the Incantifiers) reappears somewhere...probably not Sigil.

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Story: Aoskar, the Spellweavers, and the Codex

Continuing to work on the Big Picture and interweaving those 8 core themes I posted...

A big part of Chapter 3 is discovering who the god Aoskar was, what befell him, and getting his "help" (as he's not strictly conscious). Here's what I'm thinking so far...

Aoskar, the revered hero, fought against the Spellweaver Empire. He was a symbol of the power of people interconnected across worlds and planes to find their destinies together, of the wonders of planar travel rather than the cold cruel "science" of the Spellweavers. Aoskar had a cadre of allies including a Janusean Angel mentor (hinting at why Aoskar is depicted as two-faced), a githvyrik sorcerer of great power (alluding to Vhostym from Dawn of Night), and a blind archer (alluding to the mysterious NPC who once accompanied the Nameless One in PS:T). Possibly also a lover. Some of these could be encountered by the PCs as powerful beings at higher levels. I'm going to imply that the destruction of the Spellweavers Nodes was no accident, but an act of sabotage by Aoskar and his party. Aoskar sacrificed himself to take down the Nodes, bringing the Spellweavers to their knees, and in the process became a demi-god whose power would grow in time.

Aoskar, the god, hunted the Codex. Eventually Aoskar (as a full-fledged god) established a network of portals that criss-crossed the planes and all planewalkers murmured a prayer to him before crossing thru. In those days few portals required gate keys, such was Aoskar's beneficence. However, there was one thing that Aoskar hated above all else. The Codex of the Infinite Planes. Whether it was a creation of the Spellweavers or not he couldn't be certain, but he had seen them "gift" it to wizards only to cause doom of cataclysmic portions. Like the Unity of the Rings, somehow the Codex always made it back thru it's meanderings to the hands of the Spellweavers who would give it to another generation of foolish wizards who had forgotten the lessons of the past. Though Aoskar disdained the Lady of Pain as an oppressor of mortals who guarded the secrets of her portals like an old hag, she was not his enemy. Time and again the Codex would come thru Sigil, and Aoskar would be one step behind it. The Codex was his antithesis. It was only when the Codex was brought to Sigil and another catastrophe was imminent that Aoskar caught up with it and made his fateful decision.

Aoskar entered Sigil and demanded the Codex, challenging the Lady of Pain for Sigil when she would not yield the demands of a god. The Lady attempted to flay him and exile him to a Maze. As a two-faced god who had been imploded across the planes by Spellweavers magic before, Aoskar divided himself into multiple aspects in defense. The Lady's power proved too great even for Aoskar, but her victory was not complete. The dying Aoskar merged with the Maze the Lady created for him, his various spiritual aspects becoming the different parts of the Maze and causing the Maze to exist in both the Ethereal (where demiplanes belong) and the Astral (where dead gods belong)!

Aoskar, the Maze, holds the secret to mending the Rift and stopping the Codex. Aoskar's blood is not just believed to be a universal portal key, but also ancient texts tell it is a way to stop a planar breach (like the Rift). Though I know the Rift is opened as a result of a villain using the Codex of the Infinite Planes, I am not sure whether what made the Rift truly possible (or perhaps caused similar breaches in the past, though not as severe) is the paradoxical existence of Aoskar in both the Ethereal & Astral, or a result of the fracturing of the Spellweaver Nodes caused by Aoskar. Either way Aoskar will "feel" a responsibility to mend the Rift.

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Just Kidding

@Quickleaf - no need to apologize, I didn't think the name was so unique that you plagiarized it. I just thought it was a funny coincidence. (Also, I liked the Outlands/Wild West thread)

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The funny thing is I remember

The funny thing is I remember reading that Outlands thread way back when and loving it, so I am actually quite certain I subconsciously plagiarized!

Man, re-reading it now and you had some very evocative ideas. Maybe I would have pushed less of the overt Western feel and tried to retain more D&D, but that would make a great PRP to pick back up again at some point. Well...so would a lot of the planes! Almost was starting to remind me of Dogs in the Vineyard with the way you were talking about Harmonium Lawmen and White Knights of Hieronyous. Good stuff.

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Why do the PCs care? Why team up?

I'm still mulling over the ideas you had about the Tiefling's motives and the nature of the Treasure, @KnightofDecay.

While I'm figuring that out, I thought I'd explain how the adventure opening works. Unlike a lot of DM advice to talk with your players in advanc and let them figure out how their characters know each other, Mountain Specters assumes no such forethought is given to the group. It includes the "meet and greet" typical of level 1 play as part of the adventure with hard scene framing: BANG! The Rift happens! You're all in this town delaing with the fallout. What do you do?

Now some groups will do fine with just that, and find some way to contrive their group getting together. But others need more guidance than just that.

The adventure drives the PCs together in a couple ways, the aggregate of which is they need to (and probably want to) form an adventuring party:

  • They all survived the Rift and are outsiders in Ironridge, meaning they're viewed with suspicion. What plane are they really from? Could they have caused the Rift? The locals can't be sure. This may drive the PCs together since they are in the same boat.
  • When a detect magic spell is cast (or a certain NPC examines them), the PCs discover they've all been magically marked in a similar way. What does it mean? They don't know yet. Maybe together they can find out?
  • The Rift is unleashing hazards upon Ironridge and the PCs (along with the townsfolk) need to find sanctuary in Dwarven Mountain. Since a small group is more likely to gain entry than a town of thousands beating on the dwarven gates, the PCs may form an alliance out of necessity.
  • Evidence indicates that the dwarves somehow knew about the Rift in advance, but the rest of the town seems complacent about it, shrugging it off as dwarven superstition. Only the PCs (as outsiders) get that something is amiss, and it's going to take diverse skills to dig out the truth in Dwarven Mountain.
  • The Ironridge portal to Sigil was destroyed by crystals falling from the sky/Astral. However, Dwarven Mountain has a heavily regulated portal to Sigil in its depths. With the right contacts and some help from each other, the PCs can gain access to this portal.
.
So those are the reasons for the PCs to team up and care what happens baked into the adventure. Hopefully they're compelling enough to make a group of players want their PCs to stick together without the "adventuring party" feeling like a conceit of convenience.
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The Treasure in Vergadain's Vault: a Harp!

After some thought... What about a magical musical instrument? I was looking back over an old Dragon magazine and saw a depiction of Vergadain with a harp (or perhaps a lyre):

I haven't figured out the details or powers of the Magic Harp yet (generally they're seen in legends to soothe or charm, right?), but it does allow me to incorporate a couple different ideas:

The Tiefling can replace one of its strings with a forgery, allowing her to slip away with a magic string.

The Tiefling's switcheroo tampering may sabotage the Magic Harp's functioning the next time it is used.

The Tiefling or her guild, the Arcane Eye, may have plans for that magic string.

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Sounds awesome!

Sounds awesome!
I love the harp/lyre idea as it is not an instrument usually associated with dwarves (which is kinda strange, as Thorin Oakenshield uses a harp in "The Hobbit").

The adventure seeds created by the theft/exchange of the string sound very cool too.

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Further thoughts on the Magic Harp/Lyre

Nice, thanks! Good call about Thorin! And I like what it sets up for later adventures too.

Of course, I still need to define the Magic Harp/Lyre because the PCs might interact with it during the adventure and discover the Tiefling's tampering. Since it is a divine realm, I imagine the god Vergadain is aware of the Tiefling's actions and he is (a) grudgingly impressed and wants to see how her luck plays out, and (b) working a "long con" where he hopes to use the sabotaged harp/lure or stolen magic string against the Arcane Eye thieves' guild.

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Strongale Hall write-up (in progress)

I have been going thru the sites of the town-sized Strongale Hall and writing them up one by one over here:

http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?356873-Vergadain-and-adventures-in-Dwarven-Mountain

Currently on #12: The Wishing Well
Next: #13: Clan Silverhelm Trading House

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Song-Riddles: clues about the Rift

There is an element of mystery to "Mountain Specters". What is the Rift? What caused it? How did Vergadain (and by extension the dwarves) know about it in advance? What does being marked mean? While the big answers aren't in Dwarven Mountain, there are important smaller answers there that point them toward further adventures.

I'm thinking that originally when the Tiefling played the gaming tables only a handful of dwarves were on hand to hear the "Tiefling's Secret" (her forfeit for losing), this secret being her pronouncement about the Rift. Perhaps the rumor would have been kept by a few dwarves hoping to exploit the Rift to their business advantage, but the god Vergadain hears and sees all in his realm. Vergadain confirmed thru divination that *something* ominous would occur at roughly the same time the tiefling indicated, that the planes would tear asunder above the Outlands and strange beings would walk among the Outlanders as if they belonged...but they most definitely would not belong.

True to his description, Vergadain warned the dwarves thru 3 scattered songs of the coming of the Rift; however, to prevent a panic, he spread these 3 songs throughout his realm so that any given dwarf would only hear pieces of the truth, but it would be enough to guide them to safety (and maybe fortune!). And on top of that the songs were also riddles whose answers revealed details of the Rift.

So, the PCs are going to learn about the song-riddles...somehow. And maybe there are clues to follow about where to find them...or it may be a given and the trick is getting the song-riddles to reveal themselves.... And naturally, I need to write up the 3 song-riddles based around bits of information about the Rift the PCs can learn.

Right now, I plan to have (1) song-riddle known by a caryatid column "Divine Alewife" in the Esplanade of Divine Alewives, who the PCs need to figure out how to "activate" to learn the song, (2) song-riddle known by campestri (singing mushrooms) in the Songhearth, which need to have a certain song started for them in order to remember it, and (3) uh...somewhere else?

All of this leads to my question:

How do the PCs learn about the song-riddles in the first place? Should they learn about the location of the song-riddles (so the challenge is accessing the riddle)? Or should finding the location of each song-riddle require deductive reasoning or extensive exploration?

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Love your stuff over at

Love your stuff over at enworld. Your sketchbook looks awesome!
You should definitely include some of these sketches in the final PDF.

How about a (3) a notorious dwarven drunkard who gets the song-riddle as a prophetic vision/inspiration from Vergadain? When asked what his strange song was about, he probably can't even remember to have sung at all, but maybe his drunken ramblings include some clues where to find the other song-riddles "Coz I sing lota better than ya prissy mushhhroomers, ya know??!". I wouldn't make the search too hard, though. The mainfocus should be on accessing them and pieceing the clues together.

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Song-Riddle 1 (rough)

Thanks for the encouragement, @KnightofDecay ! And I totally will use your dwarven drunkard visionary, that's perfect!

Here's my first attempt at writing up a song-riddle. This one is told by the caryatid column Ingrimar in the Esplanade of Divine Alewives. It is meant to warn of an influx of refugees with some of them being (a) possessed by astral searchers, or (b) enemies of the Mountain. It isn't exactly a riddle though, so I may need to rework it.

Ever apart our mighty Halls, behind a stony wall
Yet at the doorstep of our gods, human feet shall fall;
Backs bent, pleading, yelling, down on bended knee,
In a fortnight hence shall unfold this tragedy.

What then shall we do when in crowds they team
Like stampeding Guttar to frighten dwarven dreams?
What shall they do when they see the gold that gleams,
And among them are those who are not what they seem?

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I like it. I'm curious about

I like it. I'm curious about the other two song-riddles.

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Song-Riddle 2 (rough)

I'll come back and rework that first one a bit, but thanks!

Here is the second song-riddle, this one learnable from the campestri (singing mushrooms) in the Songhearth, learnable by singing a bit of either of the song-riddles there, at which the campestri will spring into D&D: The Musical ;) They probably will sing each line and wait for the PCs to sing it back to them as a chorus/call-and-response with eager looking faces. It is a bit silly, but just the sort of roleplaying that some players love (and repetition will help the players remember!). This song-riddle is meant to reveal (a) the 4 planes touched by the Rift, (b) the importance of the memory crystals, and (c) the mark on the PCs plus one unknown NPC.

Four planes align, four planes overlap
To form a rift, a growing gap;
One plane the Prime, and one of mind,
One our home, and one of lies.
It leaves a mark upon the land:
Fallen crystals, in high demand.
It leaves a mark upon (six)* souls,
By Fate or Luck, one never knows.

*Replace (six) with a number equal to the number of PCs plus 1.

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Song-Riddle 3 (rough)

Here's my rough pass at the 3rd song-riddle, this one learned when the PCs talk with the dwarven drunkard Harar Caskmaker who received the cautionary song from Vergadain while in a trance. He can be found at the Drunken Guttar Inn & Stables most of the time. To get Harar back into the trance they need to get him drunk, and to do that a PC will need to get drunk with him (or pretend to do so).

This song-riddle warns that in a fortnight disaster will strike Ironridge, cautioning dwarves to return to the Mountain to wait it out, warning of enemies and possessed victims (those possessed by astral searchers), and hints at opportunity for great treasure (memory crystals and astral drift metal).

Raise a cup, raise a cup, for torn asunder is the sky
And those who live by edge of iron, will fill the night with cries.
In a fortnight all shall see the truth in my drunken song,
For iron it is weak, but dwarven steel is strong.

Beware, beware, the ghostly claws that reach and grasp,
Stealing every mind, pouring lies into their cask.
Beware, beware, oh my dwarven kin,
The lies all around us, the enemy within.

So return unto the Mountain, return to your true home,
And leave behind those wretched ones to care for their own.
Lock your doors, bar your gates, and venture not forthwith,
But wait till fortune follows, a boon for every smith.

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This is my favourite song

This is my favourite song-riddle of the three.
It has all the relevant clues and captures the isolationistic and otherwordly atmosphere of the Dwarven Mountain quite well.

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The Villains

Thanks @KnightofDecay! I'll revise the other two later to give them the same sort of atmosphere as the 3rd song-riddle.

I realized I haven't posted about the Villains of the 1st adventure, so here goes...

The Tiefling working for the Arcane Eye thieves' guild isn't present in this adventure (though her actions are surely felt and her appearance in the next adventure foreshadowed). Instead, there are 3 villains working against Dwarven Mountain, loosely connected by varying degrees of affiliation to the Arcane Eye.

1. Vaorta (Pl / shadow demon / CR 4 / CE)
Vaorta is imbedded in the Petitioner Tent Village outside the gates into Dwarven Mountain, a sort of dwarven limbo for thieves, merchants, craftsmen, and miners who skirted the edges of morality. Those who wait patiently and live according to the code of their respective deity (Vergadain, Dugmaren Brightmantle, or Dumathoin) will eventually gain admittance to the Mountain. However, those who give into their evil urges are transferred to Abbathor's realm in the Gray Waste. Via its magic jar ability, Vaorta possessed the body of the dwarven adventurer Tarholt and set itself up as a king of the cross-trade between Dwarven Mountain and the rest of the planes. Roguish dwarven petitioners in the Tent Village treat Vaorta as their leader. Vaorta, a close ally of the Arcane Eye, is principally interested in acquiring gems from Dwarven Mountain suitable for use as soul gems. As a trusted trader with the spirits of the Mountain, Tarholt has a Key of Vergadain which Vaorta is considering using to aid Korteel and/or Geleg.

DM Note: Vaorta is probably too powerful for 1st or 2nd level PCs to take on in combat, and the shadow demon is used in the adventure as a non-combat challenge.

2. Korteel (Pl / male human / fighter 4 / LE / Sodkiller)
The charismatic Korteel leads the Minder's Guild in Ironridge, a bodyguard-for-hire service that serves as a front for the vicious Sodkiller faction which believes that violence is the solution to all conflicts. He has long watched cunning dwarven merchants and cross-traders take advantage of the people of Ironridge; despite his penchant for force, Korteel sees himself as the town's protector, fighting a losing battle to protect Ironridge against demonic kidnappers, Hinterlands bandits, raiding Slaadi, and dwarven thieves. Just as he failed to protect his younger brother on Sigil's cold streets against dwarven thugs. When the Tiefling passed thru town, she spoke to Korteel about a more effective way to protect Ironridge, to go on the offensive against the dwarves, to take the Mountain by force. She also revealed Korteel's brother was alive and working with the Arcane Eye in Sigil and agreed to reunite them; in exchange, Korteel made plans to agitate the townsfolk against the dwarves, hoping to ignite a conflict which will end in the townsfolk gaining entry to Dwarven Mountain by force.

3. Geled Cragsveld (Pe / male dwarf / cleric 4 [Abbathor] / NE)
A supremely greedy dwarven petitioner of the Gray Waste, Geled is being tested for proxy-hood by his deity Abbathor. His mission is both personal and political, to lure or abduct the souls of his parents from Strongale Hall to Glitterhell in the Gray Waste. To this end, Geleg has come to the mountain under the auspices of a gem trade between the two realms. Two souls would not be worth a batted eye of a power, but Geleg's parents were high-ranking Hurndor (specialty priests of Vergadain) in life and know several "trade secrets" such as how to create anondars, spells unique to Vergadain, etc.

Q: What is so important about the petitioner Geleg's dead parents that Abbathor would send him on a mission which could potentially end with Geleg getting killed and not being absorbed by Abbathor?

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Mystery of the Mark, the first chapter

Taking a moment to "zoom out", here is a more detailed trajectory for the first chapter of the campaign... As always, any critique or feedback is welcome :)

CHAPTER I: Mystery of the Mark

In this opening chapter for levels 1-4, the PCs are marked by a Rift between the planes and seek to understand the mysteries of the mark. Their adventures will require them to define their beliefs, to make sense of the cosmic forces at work around them, and to fight against the insidious Arcane Eye thieves' guild which knows more about the Rift then they're telling. The PCs' journey will lead them thru the Outlands and Sigil, to Bytopia and the Infinite Staircase where they will find the answers they seek...as well as new questions.


1-2. Mountain Specters


A Rift opens above the Outlands trading town of Ironridge, and the PCs find themselves in the midst of a disaster with astral searchers possessing townsfolk. Marked by the Rift, the PCs must seek shelter in Dwarven Mountain where they hope to find answers as to how the dwarves were forewarned of the Rift. Their investigation uncovers a plot against the dwarves by agents the Arcane Eye thieves' guild: a vicious warrior, a shadow demon, a dwarven cleric of Abbathor, as well as a tiefling gambler long gone. The PCs discover the Arcane Eye has secret knowledge about the Rift. The adventure ends when the PCs step thru a portal to Sigil to solve the mystery of their marks.


2-3. Canary in the Cage


The Arcane Eye thieves' guild dominates smuggling in Sigil, but there is much more to the guild than meets the eye. Tracking down the tiefling gambler Atanishan who stole a string from Vergadain's magic harp, the PCs learn that Atanishan - daughter of the guild master Old Graycloak - has her own plans. Meanwhile, the PCs find themselves hunted by a mysterious sect called the Daughters of Light who believe the marks on the PCs herald disaster. The dabus Fell, on the other hand, views the PCs almost reverently, offering small bits of aid, and thru his tattoo magic can reveal the physical representation of each PC's mark. They can cut a deal with either Atanishan or Old Graycloak to learn what secrets the guild knows about the Rift and the marks afflicting the PCs, or they can betray both and spark a conflict between the guild and the Daughters of Light. Regardless of their approach, the PCs learn the Arcane Eye has found the Two-Faced Sibyl of Bytopia who prophesied the Rift, and the thieves intend to reach the Sibyl first.


4. The Two Faced Sibyl


It's murder most foul, and the trail leads to...the Twin Paradises of Bytopia! While tracking down a portal in Sigil, the PCs discover their gnomish doorsnoop contact dead. Poisoned by the venom of a rare Bytopian blossom. And someone stole a gate key to Bytopia from the shop. The doorsnoop's lover provides the portal information they need in exchange for the PCs helping to bring the killer to justice. Once on Bytopia, the PCs find themselves in competition with Atanishan to discover the whereabouts of the Two Faced Sibyl, a celestial living in self-imposed exile. The competition involves solving an enigmatic seraphim's quest while traversing the Twin Paradises, during which time the PCs can investigate the doorsnoop's death, even meeting the petitioner spirit of the doorsnoop. Both the murder investigation and the hunt for the Two Faced Sibyl lead to the Infinite Staircase, where roguish rivals, disorienting puzzles, spiritual temptation, and a surprising discovery about the nature of their marks await the PCs. The Two Faced Sibyl also tells them of a secret portal ring in Sigil which is connected to each of their marks, warning them only to use the portal ring when they are prepared to meet the heart of the Rift.
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Sounds great! (As all of your

Sounds great! (As all of your stuff so far!)

The villains are very interesting and distinct from each other. Are there stats for the shadow demon/fiend in the 5th Ed. Monster Manual?

Mountain Specters
How will the PCs learn about the stolen string?
Atanishan and her father somehow remind me of Annah and Pharod from Torment.

Canary in the Cage
It's pretty cool that you plan to use the Daughters of Light!
You should also include some encounters with Post-Faction War factions (Sodkillers,Minds Eye, maybe the Ring-Givers) to further set the campaign apart from Pre-Faction War adventures.

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Questions answered...

KnightofDecay wrote:
Sounds great! (As all of your stuff so far!)

The villains are very interesting and distinct from each other. Are there stats for the shadow demon/fiend in the 5th Ed. Monster Manual?


Thanks! Yep, shadow demons are in the 5e MM, which has them as CR 4 creatures.

Quote:
Mountain Specters
How will the PCs learn about the stolen string?
Atanishan and her father somehow remind me of Annah and Pharod from Torment.

The magic string is part of the main story investigation in Mountain Specters tied to opposing the three villains. I'll post more detail next.

And echoing Anna/Pharod from PS:T was intentional. I'm including lots of NPCs from various sources (Bloodwars card game, PS:T, old "Umbra" adventure from Dungeon magazine, etc) and using the Unity of Rings to make everything feel vaguely familiar to old Planescape players. The feel I'm going for is "could this all have happened before?" There is a bit of a HeroQuest reliving the myth vibe, especially when it comes to Aoskar and his companions.

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Canary in the Cage
It's pretty cool that you plan to use the Daughters of Light!
You should also include some encounters with Post-Faction War factions (Sodkillers,Minds Eye, maybe the Ring-Givers) to further set the campaign apart from Pre-Faction War adventures.

I always saw the Daughters of Light as cultish cult-breakers dedicated to keeping Sigil "safe" from the big threats: Invading fiends, warring factions, would-be conquerors like the Incantifiers, big bad mojo, etc. Since the Rift is screwing with Sigil's portals, and the PCs bear the mark of the Rift, well it seemed natural the Daughters would be antagonists.

I plan on using a variety of factions, both pre-/post- Faction War, long dead factions, as well as entirely new ones I'm creating just for this campaign... so far I've written bits for the Sons of Mercy, Eschaton, Ring-givers, Incantifiers, Dustmen, Athar, and the Fateless (a new one). For example, a reborn Incantifier faction has the Codex of the Infinite Planes and their Factol is partly responsible for the Rift. Another example, the Fading Palace was imagined by an ancient Signer on the Plane of Air, but is gradually fading into mists since the death of its Signer creator.
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A Magic Harp, an Evil Dwarf, and a Secret Plot

Right now my villains are a bit scattered and the details on just what the PCs are doing inside Dwarven Mountain are nebulous. So I'm going to brainstorm some ideas to clarify and to forge more interconnections between my various story elements.

The PCs enter Dwarven Mountain with three objectives:

  1. Seek sanctuary from the Rift. Depending on the PCs' motives this may also include helping other refugees from Ironridge, opposing Korteel inspiring townsfolk to force entry into the Mountain, and/or preventing astral searcher-possessed refugees from running amok in the Mountain.
  2. Learn how the dwarves knew about the Rift in advance. Several dwarven NPCs can tip them off about the song-riddles sent by Vergadain warning of the Rift, and PCs exploring the Gambler's Paradise will hear rumors about the Tiefling Gambler who almost won the Magic Harp but gave up secret knowledge about the Rift instead when she lost instead.
  3. Access the portal to Sigil. All the dwarves know the portal is in the Clan Silverhelm Trading House, but the trick is that Clan Silverhelm maintains tight control of the portal. PCs can gain entry by stealth, force, trickery (the head of the house frequents Gambler's Paradise), brokering a trade deal with visitors from Sigil, or performing a favor for Clan Silverhelm (rigging a gambling match).

I'm thinking they learn of the stolen/swapped string from the Magic Harp while investigating these leads. I have a couple thoughts here...

First, that the Tiefling wore the replacement string disguised as a piece of jewelry like a bracelet or necklace. Two different NPCs who interacted with her before and after she stole the magic string may have noticed subtle differences in her necklace...maybe a bead held together the fake string and she dropped it when swapping the fake string for the magic string? These would hav to be NPCs who interacted closely with the Tiefling or were supremely observant since it's such a such a small detail.

Second, she performed sleight of hand in a crowded gambling hall, so there must have been a witness. This would have to be someone who didn't want to draw attention to himself (perhaps another cheater?), someone who had it in for the dwarves or was exceptionally mercenary-minded, or a being which normally lacks a means of communication (e.g. caryatid column, gambler who lost his voice, Wizard's intelligent familiar without ability to speak, etc).

Third, the keepers of Vergadain's Treasury (an ancient copper dragon & dwarven rogue proxy) probably could tell something was done to the harp, but are keeping it to themselves since Vergadain is interested to see what the Tiefling's planning and he is always eager to pick up new thieving tricks. PCs may interact with the keepers if they go to the Treasury to examine the Magic Harp in hopes of learning why the Tiefling was after it. Maybe even casting identify would reveal it has been tampered with? I'm thinking not.

Hmm, that leads me to three crucial questions...

Q1: Who witnessed the Tiefling swap strings on the Magic Harp?

Q2: What is the Magic Harp? And what does sabotaging it do? Is it the harp from "Jack and the Beanstalk"? Is it Hwyrr, the Clarion Harp of Faaerinal? Is it a Harp of Planar Passage, a story item needed to defeat the fey guardian of a portal/site of interest? Is it a Harp of Summoning, a story item to summon a Marraenoloth or other planar navigator to take the PCs along a planar pathway? Is it some other harp artifact or magic item from D&D lore I've forgotten about?

Q3: What is the evil dwarf Geled Cragsveld's involvement? How does the Mountain being in lockdown (protection against the Rift) aid Geled Cragsveld's goals? Maybe his goals should have a bigger scope than abducting his parents' spirits?
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Ah, Umbra is one of my

Ah, Umbra is one of my favorite PS adventures.
I swear this oath to Sigil’s guard;
Lord of all She gazes;
I pledge my life to Her the one
Who spares us from the Mazes.

Nice! I’m pretty curious about your take on the Daughters of Light. I was thinking about using them some time in the future too, but could not find the time for any concrete thoughts yet.

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Q1: Who witnessed the Tiefling swap strings on the Magic Harp?

Maybe the shadow fiend? It's knowledge might force the PCs to interact with this stronger adversary without coming to blows. The question is, what does it want in exchange?

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Q2: What is the Magic Harp? And what does sabotaging it do? Is it the harp from "Jack and the Beanstalk"? Is it Hwyrr, the Clarion Harp of Faaerinal? Is it a Harp of Planar Passage, a story item needed to defeat the fey guardian of a portal/site of interest? Is it a Harp of Summoning, a story item to summon a Marraenoloth or other planar navigator to take the PCs along a planar pathway? Is it some other harp artifact or magic item from D&D lore I've forgotten about?

I like the idea of the magic harp being Hwyrr, the Clarion Harp of Faaerinal. Maybe it was a gift, maybe a token? It adds some depth to Vergadain and as a device of “creation/chronicling” mirrors one of the aspects of the Codex of the Infinite Planes.
What does sabotaging it do? It changes a certain aspect of the stories told by the harp, or maybe a certain harpist could actually “create/change” something by playing that string.

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Q3: What is the evil dwarf Geled Cragsveld's involvement? How does the Mountain being in lockdown (protection against the Rift) aid Geled Cragsveld's goals? Maybe his goals should have a bigger scope than abducting his parents' spirits?

Hmmh, tough question. The lockdown of the mountain probably leads to a certain halt in trading and financial transactions. Maybe it delays one of the caravans or shipments long enough to enable Geled to manipulate it/drug a certain trader about to leave (possible a connection to Clan Silverhelm here).

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