5th edition Planescape Campaign

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Quickleaf
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Q&A

KnightofDecay wrote:
Ah, Umbra is one of my favorite PS adventures.

Yeah, me too. I'm thinking of having the sociable yagnoloth Inimigle (now unbound) make an appearance in the campaign. Thanks for your comments again!

Quote:
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.

I'm expanding the Daughters of the Light beyond their anti-Anarchist mandate (which became anti-faction) as described in Faction War. My interpretation has them as concerned mothers turned to witchcraft (yes, the high-ups are all female) wanting to spare the lives of their sons in war and protect the fabric of their communities. They're not all roses and puppy dogs though; folks who have no one else to protect them may turn to the Daughters in desperation, but always with fear of the Daughter's extremist paranoid values & shadow tactics.

The feel I'm going for is a creepy mystery cult, practicing witchcraft in the sense of a D&D warlock swearing an oath to a supernatural being, in this case the Maiden, Mother, Crone trifecta. Also, this nicely parallels the three-fold goddess Shekinester (who has a Court of Light...hmm, any connection to Daughters of the Light?) who appears in a later adventure, and gives me an open story hook for a night hag. A good example of what I am going for would be Macbeth and the witches, or the "Ladies" scene from this Witcher 3 gameplay video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5iAnxuTTdBw&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Q1: The Witness
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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?

Hmm, I like that idea! I'd say the Shadow Fiend wants its magic jar where it has trapped the soul of the dwarf it now possesses back, a jar stolen by the Gilded Palm dwarven thieves' guild. Maybe the body it wears has reached the end of its mortal lifespan and the Shadow Fiend needs the jar to switch to a fresh host? Maybe it simply is protecting itself from being forcibly shunted out of the dwarf it possesses and thus being revealed to its followers as a fiend? This has two story rich effects: (a) Putting the PCs in a moral quandary, and (b) giving the PCs a reason to interact with Guildmaster Tallybod & the Gilded Palm thieves' guild in Dwarven Mountain.

The question then becomes: What tips off the PCs that the shadow fiend (or its possessed dwarven form) has intel on the Tiefling and the Magic Harp?

Maybe one of the gamblers at the high-stakes table the Tiefling played at has no memory of that night (indeed an entire week of memory is missing!), a former victim of the Shadow Fiend's magic jar? Hmm, his last memory was distributing alms in the Petitioner Tent Village (where the Shadow Fiend operates from) outside the gates when a chill shadow passed over him?

Q2: The Magic Harp
Quote:
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.

Putting the Clarion Harp in Vergadain's possession does create some interesting conflict. Vergadain may have won the harp in a wager from a mighty prime bard while in disguise. He knows its purpose is to gather stories across the worlds of existence, and he knows he needs to let it go, but the treasure-loving god is a bit fascinated with the Harp. "Ok, I'll get rid of it...but so precious..." So putting it up as a wager in a high-stakes gambling game makes sense, that way Vergadain can get rid of it without consciously giving it up, but if he gets to keep it (thanks to a skilled dwarven gambler representing the god's interests) so much the better! It also gives eladrin a reason to come to the gambling tables or as emissaries, which adds a nice twisted touch of Tolkienesque elven-dwarven relations which does add depth to Vergadain.

It turns out the Clarion Harp was given a writeup in the 3e Book of Exalted Deeds, so I thought I'd present that here to inspire ideas...

Hwyrr, the Clarion Harp

Harp of charming; AL CG; Int 18, Wis 10, Cha 18; Speech, telepathy, 120 ft. darkvision, blindsense, and hearing; Ego score 14.
Languages: Celestial, Common, Draconic, Elven, Gnomish.
Harp of Charming (base item): For every 10 minutes of playing cast a suggestion in the guise of music.
Lesser Powers: Elation 3/day (gives bonus to Strength/Dexterity checks and speed & temporarily ignores fatigue penalties)), Faerinaal's Hymn at-will (cloud evil creatures' minds so they can't take opportunity attacksl), bestows 10 ranks in History
Greater Powers: Dismissal 1/day (banish extra-planar creatures), Fear 3/day (cone of fear forcing creatures to flee or cower).
Personality: The frame of this golden harp is fashioned into a handsome likeness of Faerinaal, Queen Morwel's eladrin consort. Crafted by a firre eladrin bard in Queen Morwel's court, Hwyrr serves Faerinaal as a chronicler of events on the Material Plane. As it finds its way into the hands of different adventuring bards, Hwyrr learns new tales of heroism that it will someday recount to Faerinaal when it finally returns to Queen Morwel's court. When it senses battle occurring within 60 feet, Hwyrr automatically begins playing Faerinaal's hymn and continues to do so until one of its other powers is employed. Hwyrr takes great pride in its appearance and constantly insinuates itself into conversations, recounting tales of its past owners' exploits to help its current owner deal with immediate or similar problems.



Right away, I noticed the harp was sentient! And it can speak! Which makes sense given legends of magic harps, but it does create an issue in that why wouldn't the harp just start yelling when the Tiefling tampered with it? Hmm, maybe the harp was placed under a silence effect while the Tiefling examined it, as a precautionary measure so she couldn't use its magic at the gambling tables. That makes sense.

Q3: The Evil Dwarf
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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).

Abbathor, the evil dwarven god of greed whom Geled serves, is described as having a "don't steal from other dwarves" policy, and a cold business relationship with Vergadain. It makes me wonder, what if Geled was sent to sabotage the portal to Sigil in order to force the dwarves into some kind of a deal? Cut off from its two main sources of trade (Ironridge & Sigil), Dwarven Mountain would need a quick way to establish a new trade route. For example, he might place a trap or ward on the portal. This also has the side effect of compelling PCs who might have a "forget this! I'm outta here!" mentality to deal with Geled in order to access the portal, bringing them into the wider web of villainy. Of course, there's always the question: Couldn't a god like Vergadain or the combined might of the dwarves bypass a little portal trap/ward?

Hmm, running with your idea, what if Geled instead has delayed/hampered an inbound dwarven caravan bearing barley, wheat, and other ale-making grains? Perhaps his angle is to force the dwarves to deal with him for grains grown on the blood-soaked fields of the Gray Waste? And with the Mountain in lockdown, he doesn't have to worry about any competitors except the one or two who might be trapped within the Mountain. This has to story rich effects: (a) it gives Geled a non-dwarven grain merchant target he may kill during the course of the adventure, and (b) it forces Geled to move fast cause the dwarven caravan that knows him for the traitor is only several days behind him.

Do either of these seem Planescape-y? One more interesting than the other?
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Yeah, Inimingle is a very

Yeah, Inimingle is a very cool NPC.

I like your take on the Daughters of Light. I propably would have given them more of an "We enact the Lady's will"-approach, but the idea with the Maiden, Mother, Crone trifecta is very cool.

Quote:
What tips off the PCs that the shadow fiend (or its possessed dwarven form) has intel on the Tiefling and the Magic Harp?

Maybe the shadow fiend/its possessed dwarven form was the last remaining other player besides the Tiefling and Vergadains intermediary. This would make it/him an obvious source for information about the mysterious tiefling.

Quote:
Maybe one of the gamblers at the high-stakes table the Tiefling played at has no memory of that night (indeed an entire week of memory is missing!), a former victim of the Shadow Fiend's magic jar? Hmm, his last memory was distributing alms in the Petitioner Tent Village (where the Shadow Fiend operates from) outside the gates when a chill shadow passed over him?

I like that too.

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Do either of these seem Planescape-y? One more interesting than the other?

Both ideas work quite well. I wouldn't put too much work into fleshing out this second plot for Gelden, though. Most players probably won't even recognize Gelden is up too anything anyway and too many plot hooks might make the adventure a little bit confusing.
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Daughters of Light

Knight of Decay wrote:
I like your take on the Daughters of Light. I propably would have given them more of an "We enact the Lady's will"-approach, but the idea with the Maiden, Mother, Crone trifecta is very cool.

Yeah, they certainly believe that they do. Whether that is half-crazy self-righteousness or they are being deliberately misled by some entity (night hag?) I am not sure yet. Planescape makes it pretty clear that folks like Artus, Jeremo, and the Daughters who claim to "serve the Lady" don't have the Lady's actual backing. However, as long as these "servants" don't worship her and don't act against her interests, the Lady lets them be.

One idea I've been toying with is how Factol's Manifesto described Alisohn Nilesia, the old Mercykiller Factol, as having dreams/nightmares of the Lady of Pain. Now, Alisohn was clearly a bit nuts, but what if something more sinister was at play? A hag manipulating dreams behind the scenes in which she poses as the Lady of Pain? Have such an evil creature influencing the Daughters for Light from the shadows would be a delicious connection.

EDIT: Actually, I'd been wanting to incorporate the Queen of Air & Darkness into the campaign, and this would be a great way to insinuate her into things...
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Quote:One idea I've been

Quote:
One idea I've been toying with is how Factol's Manifesto described Alisohn Nilesia, the old Mercykiller Factol, as having dreams/nightmares of the Lady of Pain. Now, Alisohn was clearly a bit nuts, but what if something more sinister was at play? A hag manipulating dreams behind the scenes in which she poses as the Lady of Pain? Have such an evil creature influencing the Daughters for Light from the shadows would be a delicious connection.

EDIT: Actually, I'd been wanting to incorporate the Queen of Air & Darkness into the campaign, and this would be a great way to insinuate her into things...


Yeah, that would be a very interesting way to introduce the Queen of Air and Darkness into the campaign. I wouldn't have the QoA&D influence the whole Daughters of Light faction, though, but only some smaller splintergroup. I prefer factions to be neither right nor wrong and being manipulated by the QoA&D on such an extent would make them oviously very wrong.
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Pre-gen PCs

I'm putting together 8 pre-gen PCs for this adventure/campaign, and you can find them over here:

http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?358715-Planescape-Pregen-PCs

Althawn (m) / Althea (f) the Poet: Aasimar (prime) / Entertainer / Monk
Kekyáweth (m) / Kekyári (f) Stronghoof: Bariaur (planar) / Outlander / Ranger
Diyab (m) / Diyessa (f) Mountainguard: Dwarf (prime) / Acolyte / Druid
Saltabak (m) / Saltara (f) al-Saghir: Fire Genasi (planar) / Sailor / Paladin
Vil'dar (m) / Vil'dajh (f): Githzerai (planar) / Hermit / Wizard
Caeric (m) / Caeryn (f) Silvertongue:Half-Elf (planar) / Urchin / Warlock (The Archfey)
Damiahn (m) / Damiana (f) Jaziri: Human (prime) / Sage / Cleric (Knowledge)
Luca (m) / Lumi (f) Iordashe: Human (planar) / Guild Merchant / Rogue
If-Then: Rogue Modron (planar) / Soldier / Fighter
Esheel (m/f): Tiefling (planar) / Charlatan / Bard

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What to do with a magic harp string?

Earlier I established that Atanishan the Tiefling Gambler used sleight of hand to swap strings on Hwyrr, the Clarion Harp, an artifact in Vergadain's treasury (for now). Also established that she did this to (a) sabotage the Clarion Harp somehow, and (b) use the stolen magic string somehow.

The question is: to what end exactly?

To figure this out I looked over the properties of the Clarion Harp for inspiration, one of which might be held in the stolen string...

Suggestion in the guise of music is the main power of the harp. Certainly could be useful, but it's separated from an instrument and suggestion is low level magic hard to justify such a theft for.

Elation 3/day (gives bonus to Strength/Dexterity checks and speed & temporarily ignores fatigue penalties) doesn't seem like a suitably grand power to justify the theft. EDIT: If the Gray Waste uses the 5e exhaustion rules to simulate ennui, then elation might be extremely useful there (though there's a good chance such spells would fail on that plane).

Faerinaal's Hymn at-will (cloud evil creatures' minds so they can't take opportunity attacksl) could be interesting if it was expanded to more generally "cloud evil creatures' minds." Could be Atanishan has a job to steal from fiends coming up, or it could be she is secretly working against her Guildmaster father Old Graycloak's evil scheme.

10 ranks in History has a lot of potential. What if a specific set of stories known by the Clarion Harp is stored within each string, so that Atanishan (or her Guildmaster father) could access a story thru the string? Maybe the story held in the string describes a score the Arcane Eye thieves guild would love to get their hands on? Maybe the story describes a prime bard witnessing a similar Rift in ages past?

Dismissal 1/day (banish extra-planar creatures) could be useful if the Arcane Eye needed to reach a location/treasure guarded by a powerful guardian like a Naga, Sphinx, Per, or fiend.

Fear 3/day (cone of fear forcing creatures to flee or cower) seems like the sort of power Old Graycloak might be interested in to subdue his enemies and force their allegiance, though it could also be useful for Atanishan if she needs to keep lots of monsters at bay for an upcoming job.

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Daughters of Light & Other Power Groups

KnightofDecay wrote:
Yeah, that would be a very interesting way to introduce the Queen of Air and Darkness into the campaign. I wouldn't have the QoA&D influence the whole Daughters of Light faction, though, but only some smaller splintergroup. I prefer factions to be neither right nor wrong and being manipulated by the QoA&D on such an extent would make them oviously very wrong.

Yes, I agree. I don't think factions should be made right or wrong by virtue of being misguided since it cheapens the importance of their belief. And even though the Daughters aren't really a faction (I mean, what would they believe?), I think this should apply to most power groups.

Speaking of which, here are write-ups for 4 of the recurring power groups I'm planning on using...

Daughters of the Light are a sect of witches dedicated to protecting communities in Sigil and the Outlands thru pacts with the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone. Founded by concerned mothers faced with the corrupting influence of Anarchists and fiends in their communities, the Daughters of the Light see themselves as chosen by the Lady of Pain to watch over Sigil, protect their communities, and prevent war. Of course, the aloof Lady of Pain does not choose champions. Each coven of Daughters gains their power from a different being masquerading as "Maiden, Mother, Crone" - the Fates/Norns, the Horae, Shekinester, Baba Yaga or Cegilune, the Queen of Air and Darkness, even the vestige of the Triple Goddess that predates known deities. Mostly they operate in the shadows, guarding over planar communities without factions or means to protect themselves thru an informal protection racket. During the Faction War, the Daughters gained greater recognition as a front united against what they claimed was the "evil influence" of the factions. Some would describe the Daughters as a faction, though each coven has different beliefs and different methods according to the nature of its pact and the witch leading the coven.

The Arcane Eye is a planar thieves' guild specializing in smuggling forbidden magic (like artifacts), stealing 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 headquarters in Sigil's Lower Ward and another in Gehenna connected by portal, with smaller guild-houses in several Lower Planar gate-towns and metropolises, as well as various small time gangs they've got under their thumb, like the Plunderers and the Sarex. The guildmaster Old Graycloak is a blind Tiefling rogue/wizard of indeterminable age who was cursed by the Codex of the Infinite Planes. While Old Graycloak oversees the guild's operations, the real power behind the guild is a Rakshasa Maharajah who seeks the Codex, and for whom groups like the Tacharim, the Sarex, and the Arcane Eye are merely a means to an end.

The Incanterium (the Incantifiers, the Magicians) are a sect of spellcasters revering magic as the source of all greatness and power, believed to have been wiped out by the Lady of Pain when their ex-Factol Tivvum challenged her rule. In one night their numbers were decimated and Tivvum, along with the Tower Sorcerous that used to be the faction's headquarters, were banished to a Maze. Years later, Tivvum's apprentice Alluvius Ruskin would seek control of Sigil only to be defeated by planewalkers. Third time's a charm, as they say, and Alluvius' rebellious apprentice Enrizar Ahrevad has a bold new vision for the Incantifiers. Enrizar discovered the Tower Sorcerous was not just a physical location in Sigil but also a demi-plane of its own, and was able to overcome the wards keeping it hidden; within he found ancient writings about the Codex of the Infinite Planes. His predecessors had fallen in pursuit of conquering Sigil, but that was a pipe dream and mere child's play compared to what Enrizar planned: to find the Codex, use it to rebuild the Incantifiers, and reshape the planes in their image. Already Enrizard has accomplished his first two goals. The Codex of the Infinite Planes begins in his possession, and a cabal of loyal Incantifiers work to master its secrets.

The Cult of Aoskar is a mere shadow of what it once was in the days when every planewalker uttered a prayer to Aoskar, Keeper of Gateways, before crossing the threshold of a portal. Only a handful of beings carried on Aoskar's teachings: the fallen dabus Fell, Imendor the last priest of Aoskar to be executed (and whose skull is on the shelves of Lothar the Master of Bone), and Aoskar's fallen exarch the Two-Faces Sibyl lurking in the Infinite Staircase. However, with the fracturing of the Sign of One faction, a group calling themselves the Will of One have emerged in full force, their aim nothing less than willing a dead god back into existence. The god they've chosen to revive? Aoskar. Though their numbers are small, the cult is growing steadily, with a mix of believers, opportunists, and fallen Signers filling the ranks. Members of the cult have incredible knowledge of portals that have been untouched for centuries, though they do not wear any distinguishing symbols in Sigil, and restrict their worship of Aoskar to shrines and a temple in the Outlands. Not yet united in *how* to revive Aoskar, cultists have long sought Fell to assume leadership though the dabus prefers to advise from a distance, while others sought out the Two Faced Sibyl never to be heard from again.
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Nice stuff!

Nice stuff!

I like your pre-gen PCs. Most backgrounds seem to be planar, though. Shouldn't the pre-gen PCs include at least 50% prime characters to make the planar/prime rift-merging-theme work?

The power groups sound great too.

Quote:
10 ranks in History has a lot of potential. What if a specific set of stories known by the Clarion Harp is stored within each string, so that Atanishan (or her Guildmaster father) could access a story thru the string? Maybe the story held in the string describes a score the Arcane Eye thieves guild would love to get their hands on? Maybe the story describes a prime bard witnessing a similar Rift in ages past?

I think this fits perfectly and leaves lots of room for all kinds of creative stuff (like replaying the events of this ancient rift with a different set of characters).

I'm really impressed how much effort you put into this project!

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Thank you!

Thank you! I do want this project to have a life outside of just my gaming group, so whether publishing somehow or making a website or uploading PDFs to ENWorld...well, we'll see how far I get. Also I tend to write so that if I were DMing I would feel comfortable running the adventure, and for me that means more (relevant) detail than less. Having a little OCD helps too! Hah!

EDIT: I did some more thinking and ended up with these pregens...just finishing up writing the backgrounds...decided to go with 7 planars & 4 primes from Greyhawk...

Prime PCs include...

Althawn (m) / Althea (f) the Poet: Aasimar (prime) / Entertainer / Monk
Diyab (m) / Diyessa (f) Mountainguard: Dwarf (prime) / Acolyte / Druid
Damiahn (m) / Damiana (f) Jaziri: Human (prime) / Sage / Cleric (Knowledge)
Sukhbatar (m) / Sukhmaa (f): Human (prime) / Folk Hero / Barbarian

Planar PCs include...

Kekyáweth (m) / Kekyári (f) Stronghoof: Bariaur (planar) / Outlander / Ranger
Saltabak (m) / Saltara (f) al-Saghir: Fire Genasi (planar) / Sailor / Paladin
Vil'dar (m) / Vil'dajh (f): Githzerai (planar) / Hermit / Wizard
Caeric (m) / Caeryn (f) Silvertongue: Half-Elf (planar) / Urchin / Warlock (The Archfey)
Luca (m) / Lumi (f) Vatraska: Human (planar) / Guild Merchant / Rogue
If-Then: Rogue Modron (planar) / Soldier / Fighter
Esheel (m/f): Tiefling (planar) / Charlatan / Bard

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Re-thinking the story

I've been having second thoughts about the big picture story, and trouble getting everything to gel together...Rakshasa, Queen of Air & Darkness, Aoskar, Mnemosyne, Spellweavers, the Codex.... I would really appreciate some fresh ideas and a sounding board.

Are Spellweavers a compelling villain? Or are they too alien to have pathos? Would there be a more Planescape-y villain?

Also, with the Rift forming between planes...How could that serve a villain? What might be the underlying cause?

Guess my right brain just isn't working today.

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I know that problem. So many

I know that problem. So many interesting possibilities and ideas but it's actually quite hard to make them fit together and form the big picture.

Quote:
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.

Well not all plots and villains need to be part of this above-mentioned "big picture". It might be a good idea to focus on the plot and conclusion of each tier and expand the clues as you proceed with the next tier.

Spellweavers: As I have mentioned before, I'm not a big fan of the Spellweavers (I haven't read the ecology article in Dragon) and don't consider them to be a very "Planescape". How about Gereleths/Demodands, Kamerel (The Rilmanis foreruners from Tales from the Infinite Staircase), or the evil Modrons who were created by the events in "The Great Modron March"?

Rakshasa & Mnemosyne: I really like your thoughts about these two.
Maybe the PCs will never meet Mnemosyne. You could use her to illustrate the consequences of the Rift and to show that time is moving on. On different occasions they might hear about her escape, her struggle, or stumble upon her tracks. You could also make her actions some kind of reflection of the PCs actions/path.

Aoskar:
The question is, if you really want to explain the mystery surrounding the death of Aoskar. I'd keep everything as vague as possible. This might make it easier to put everything together.

Quote:
Also, with the Rift forming between planes...How could that serve a villain? What might be the underlying cause?

Being a magic-eating Incantifier? Merging different planes (with different magicial conditions/possibilities) to create ... I actually have no clue at all!
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A New Outline: Tiers of Play

KnightofDecay wrote:
know that problem. So many interesting possibilities and ideas but it's actually quite hard to make them fit together and form the big picture.

Yeah, that's especially true for Planescape! Actually, part of the reason why I'm sharing my campaign writing process in detail is because I've heard many DMs with this complaint: "I just don't know where to start with Planescape, there's too much there."

Ive been wondering if I tighten up my theme and motif if I might get some more clarity...I've been thinking of introducing a fantasy Persian tone (with some Romani influences) to the campaign, as opposed to the normal pseudo-Victorian goth/punk vibe ascribed to Planescape...a bit more wonder and a bit less darkness...not sure if that would undermine the setting yet, though, it's just an idea...

Quote:
Well not all plots and villains need to be part of this above-mentioned "big picture". It might be a good idea to focus on the plot and conclusion of each tier and expand the clues as you proceed with the next tier.

Thanks, your help is appreciated!

OK, here's a way to connect the four tiers of play together using an ancient portal ring...

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. At the end of this chapter, a seer tells the PCs of an ancient portal ring in Sigil which will lead to the heart of the Rift once they master their marks...

CHAPTER II: The Lady's Key
In this chapter for levels 5 to 10, the PCs have uncovered the power of their marks. The Rift presents an ever increasing threat to the planes, enveloping more territory in the Outlands. It seems to exert a destabilizing effect on Sigil's portals, which are behaving erratically, permanent portals become shifting portals and gate keys change overnight. The PCs have been trying to find the portal ring the Two Faced Sibyl told them of, but in the chaos it is impossible. Only the Lady's Key can restore Sigil's portals, but the artifact has been fractured into three pieces and cast across the planes. Their journey will take them from Sigil to the Outlands, Mechanus to Limbo, the Plane of Air to the Ethereal, Feywild, and Arborea, and from bleakest Gehenna to the Shadowfell and the Plane of Mirrors. At the end of this chapter, the PCs will find the ancient portal ring, though the key needed to activate it remains unknown...

CHAPTER III: Blood of Aoskar
In this chapter for levels 11-16, several factions hunt for the fabled blood of the dead god Aoskar believed to be a key to any and all portals. The PCs seek the blood for two reasons: because it has the power to seal the Rift tearing apart the fabric of the planes, and because it can open the mysterious portal ring. During their quest they will encounter the Will of One who seek to revive the dead god Aoskar as proof of their philosophy, the Godslayers who vehemently oppose all those who would restore dead gods, the yagnoloth Inimigle who seeks and rival planewalkers working for the Arcane Eye thieves guild but having their own agenda. Their journey will take them from Sigil to the Plane of Faerie, across the roots of Yggdrasil, along the Infinite Staircase, thru the Plane of Fire, into a demi-plane bridging the Astral and Ethereal, and ultimately into the depths of the Abyss and the Nine Hells. At the end of this chapter they will discover the portal key to access the ancient portal ring leading to the heart of the Rift...

CHAPTER IV: A Conspiracy of Doors
?

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Spellweavers, or a replacement...

KnightofDecay wrote:
Spellweavers: As I have mentioned before, I'm not a big fan of the Spellweavers (I haven't read the ecology article in Dragon) and don't consider them to be a very "Planescape". How about Gereleths/Demodands, Kamerel (The Rilmanis foreruners from Tales from the Infinite Staircase), or the evil Modrons who were created by the events in "The Great Modron March"?

I have the sense you're right, that Spellweavers aren't the best fit, but the thing is they do connect things together so well... See the "Asokar, Spellweavers, and the Codex" story I wrote: http://www.planewalker.com/comment/150#comment-150

You did choose some interesting races as potential enemies! I'll have to re-read Great Modron March to jog my memory about the Kamarel and the rival Primus on Acheron. I've always wondered why Gehreleths were never given much treatment beyond "planar trolls" in the books. Thing is, none of these have the same sort of scope as a race like Spellweavers, which had a planes-spanning ancient empire, a plan for the multiverse, and a strong motivation to re-establish their empire.
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Quote:Thing is, none of these

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Thing is, none of these have the same sort of scope as a race like Spellweavers, which had a planes-spanning ancient empire, a plan for the multiverse, and a strong motivation to re-establish their empire.

How about an ancient cabal of Alhoons?

  • The Ilithids had an ancient empire
  • There are connections between them, the Githyanki and the god isles in the Astral
  • The prophecies of their dead good Maanzecorian might be a nice way to spread some clues.
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KnightofDecay wrote:How about

KnightofDecay wrote:
How about an ancient cabal of Alhoons?

Cool suggestion! I don't have much info on Alhoons. What's their connection to dead gods on the Astral? Is their empire the same as the Illithid Empire? My material suggests they hate living beholders and illithids.
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Recipe for a Rift

Rift. Conjunction. Planar Breach. Whatever it is, it is the driving force behind this campaign idea.

After reading up on "planar breaches" in the 3.5e Planar Handbook and 4e Manual of the Planes, I figured out that the Rift I'm proposing is like a planar breach to the 10th power. The Rift is a complete breach between multiple planes that isn't going away on its own and is growing. How does one cause such a Rift (whether intentionally or accidentally)? Well, here are all the ways a "normal" planar breach might form...

  • There is a site of regular/extremely potent energetic event (e.g. whirlpool or evil sacrifice)
  • A planar travel spell was repeatedly cast at a site (e.g. astral projection, etherealness, plane shift)
  • A big ritual like the 3.5e precipitate complete breach was cast, requiring a 17th+ level mage
  • The "Breaching Obelisk" planar touchstone
  • An elder evil or primordial awakening could cause a breach
  • Certain artifacts (e.g. Codex of the Infinite Planes) might have the power to create a breach

Q: Which of these - or which combination of these - do you think would make for the most dramatic breach possible? And be good adventuring hooks?
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Quote:Ive been wondering if I

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Ive been wondering if I tighten up my theme and motif if I might get some more clarity...I've been thinking of introducing a fantasy Persian tone (with some Romani influences) to the campaign, as opposed to the normal pseudo-Victorian goth/punk vibe ascribed to Planescape...a bit more wonder and a bit less darkness...not sure if that would undermine the setting yet, though, it's just an idea...

Tough question. What concrete changes do you have in mind?

Quote:
OK, here's a way to connect the four tiers of play together using an ancient portal ring...

I like that. Reminds me of the Unity of Rings comic.
http://uo-planescape.wikidot.com/gallery-continuita-degli-anelli

Quote:
Q: Which of these - or which combination of these - do you think would make for the most dramatic breach possible? And be good adventuring hooks?

I'd choose a combination between these two:

  • An elder evil or primordial awakening could cause a breach
  • Certain artifacts (e.g. Codex of the Infinite Planes) might have the power to create a breach

It was the use of the Codex of the Infinite Planes that created the original Rift and weakened the borders between the planes, but it was the escape of Mnemosyne (via the weakened border between Carzeri and the Outlands) that ripped it further apart and brought it to it's current dire state (some tragic dilemma for non-evil Mnemosyne).

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The Rift

Quote:
I like that. Reminds me of the Unity of Rings comic.
http://uo-planescape.wikidot.com/gallery-continuita-degli-anelli

Hah, I meant ancient portal ring as in a chamber with multiple portals lining its walls! But your interpretation has got me thinking now...maybe the Lady's Key could be a ring broken into three parts? I do remember that comic, enjoyed it, and wanted to include that mage-with-one-hand (Valien Loremaster) seeking a book at some point...

Quote:
It was the use of the Codex of the Infinite Planes that created the original Rift and weakened the borders between the planes, but it was the escape of Mnemosyne (via the weakened border between Carceri and the Outlands) that ripped it further apart and brought it to it's current dire state (some tragic dilemma for non-evil Mnemosyne).

Oh, that's awesome! I hadn't been thinking of Mnemosyne as an Elder Evil/Primordial, but she *is* a Greater Titan after all, the embodiment of memory. I do like the way you set it up as a dilemma for Mnemosyne!

I've been going over my notes on the Rift...
  • The Rift is a tear in the fabric of the planes.
  • The Rift is a reoccurrence of an ancient planar breach/conjunction that hasn't happened in a looooong time. This is based on the idea that the planes aren't static/fixed in location, but are in a constant flux/orbit in relation to each other.
  • The intensity of the current Rift has been magnified by certain conditions, making this breach large, permanent, and spanning multiple planes. Also, the Rift is expanding, and if given enough time could theoretically consume the planes.

That leads me to two questions about the Rift...

Q1: Why, from a metagame sense, does the Rift connect to the Astral, Prime, Outlands, Carceri, and the Plane of Air? Why does the campaign need those planes?

Astral (?): Because timelessness and general Astral weirdness open up cool story space, and give a logical way the Rift can threaten all the Outer Planes since the Astral touches the first layer of all Outer Planes.
Prime (?): Because I want a way for prime PCs to get involved in the adventure. Not sure yet if I should include multiple connection points to multiple Prime worlds, or just pick one...My idea is to use places high in haunted mountains which are "closer" to the Astral Plane metaphysically speaking... Crystalmists OR Griff Mountains (GREYHAWK)? Yehimal Mountains/World Pillar Mountains/Jibal al-Akbas/Wu Pit Te Shao (FORGOTTEN REALMS/AL-QADIM/ORIENTAL ADVENTURES)?
Outlands (Ironridge/Dwarven Mountain): Because the Outlands are a good introduction point for PCs. Ironridge/Dwarven Mountain are not totally alien and will help players unfamiliar with the planes ease in.
Carceri (Mount Chrystos): Because Mnemosyne (Memory) being freed plays an important part in the story. I'm not sure what her role is exactly, but I'm thinking it has to do with helping a villain remember who they are or recounting the sins of a guilty Powerful Being...
Plane of Air (?): Because I want the Rift to be a threat to the Inner Planes too, not just Prime & Outer Planes. The Plane of Air is also more hospitable than other Inner Planes, and the Jabal Turab (a smoldering volcano at the edge of Air & Fire where efreeti raid thru) makes a great story hook to foreshadow efreeti involvement searching for the Codex. EDIT: I may switch this to the Ethereal Plane...not sure yet if that makes more sense...

Q2: Why, from an in-game story sense, does the Rift connect to the Astral, Prime, Outlands, Carceri, and the Plane of Air? What is the justification/rationale for it opening to these specific planes?

This is the trickier question, and my thoughts are much more tentative...ranging from someone deliberately "targeting" certain sites to some kind of mystical connection between five sites of ruins from the Ancient Empire (Spellweaver, Illithid, etc).

Astral (?): Maybe the Codex was used on the Astral to precipitate the Rift? Thus, the Astral is its origin? Also, there was an adventure in Planes of Chaos featuring the githzerai of Shrak'kt'lor using a magical "cordon" to channel conduits carrying githyanki into a killing room, and the "cordon" was destabilizing the network of astral conduits...could be a cool tie in there?
Prime (?): Maybe certain mountainous places on the Prime become "nearer" to the Astral as planes orbit? Maybe a villain has a vendetta against Prime world and is "targeting" it with Rift?
Outlands (Ironridge/Dwarven Mountain): Maybe the Outlands itself brought the Rift to its skies as a way to concordantly oppose what was happening? Alternately, maybe something buried in Dwarven Mountain attracted energies of Rift? Alternately, maybe it was Gzemnid and Ilsensine's realm that was targeted (for knowledge?) but "targeting system" of Rift is inherently imprecise?
Carceri (Mount Chrystos): Maybe a villain wanted Mnemosyne free to gain her wisdom, to restore his memory, or to reveal the sins of a Powerful Being? Thus, Carceri is specifically "targeted"?
Plane of Air: No clue.
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BBEGs

Big Bad Evil Guys (BBEGs) are an expected part of a D&D campaign. Players love a good antagonist to hate. At the same time, Planescape lends itself to more esoteric internal conflicts with antagonists in varying shades of grey. I'm trying to incorporate both these modes into my campaign.

How do the following villains look?

1. The Rift-Touched NPC: The Rift is a bit like an origin story - it brings the PCs together and changes them. What if an NPC from the Prime Material Plane is also touched by the Rift, but in a different way, given some kind of Rift Sorcery? The idea is that this previously obscure NPC would evolve according to the decisions the PCs make with each adventure, gradually becoming more and more antagonistic - an evolving antithesis, if you will. Maybe they swear to save their home world from the Rift, the planes be damned; later on the NPC might team up with a like minded group from their world (e.g. Lords of the Gloaming in GREYHAWK).

2. The Incantifier: Enrizar Ahrevad (and his cabal of reborn Incantifiers) seeks to unlock the secrets of the Codex of the Infinite Planes to gain power, yes, but even more to find his beloved who was lost in space and time (perhaps thru an ether gap?). Obsessed in his quest, he sees creation of the Rift as a necessary evil.

3. The Deathless Rakshasa: A Dustman Rakshasa Manarajah who seeks liberation from the karmic cycle of endless reincarnation which curses him and his great celestial foe to endlessly be reborn. Somehow he seeks to use the Rift as a way to destroy/freeze the Karmic Wheel of Rebirth. Of course, he does this out of desire to maintain his current persona/status than any real guilt or "spiritual weariness", and has plans to kill his celestial foe for good while the Rakshasa stays immortal.

4. Queen of Air and Darkness: The Queen sees the Rift as her window into finding the source of the Black Diamond which she intends to use to corrupt faerie-kind. Subconsciously it may be wistfulness or yearning for the innocence she once had but lost.

5. Ancient Empire: Spellweavers? Alhoon (undead illithids)? Githyanki?

Other Potential Antagonists: Mnemosyne (and/or followers), Arcane Eye thieves' guild (serve Rakshasa Maharajah), Cult of Aoskar, Daughters of the Light

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1. The Rift-Touched NPC:

1. The Rift-Touched NPC:
I’m not sure about that one. It’s an interesting idea, but within a story with so many interesting plots, NPCs and villains, the “mysterious stranger” sounds a little bit stereotypical. It’s probably a very interesting one-time encounter, but I wouldn’t use the rift-touched NPC as a major antagonist.

2. The Incantifier:
That’s pretty cool. Interesting background for Ahrevad. Didn’t you plan to use Fallendor and the other NPCs from Zeb Cooks story?

3. The Deathless Rakshasa:
No concrete thoughts about the Rakshasa right now.

4. Queen of Air and Darkness:
What do you have planned for her? I’d probably have her lure the PCs to the Unseelie Court.

5. Ancient Empire:
Do you have any preferences yet? I’d choose something rather exotic (but "planescape-y"), like the tainted Modrons or the Kamerel.

Other Potential Antagonists:
These are my favorite “antagonists” so far.
- Mnemosyne: As I mentioned in another post, I’d mirror the actions of the PCs in the struggle and moral dilemma of Mnemosyne. The PCs hear reports of the Titan but do not meet her until a later part of the campaign.
- Cult of Aoskar and the Daughters of Light: I really like these two. I would not “overuse” them, though (maybe as antagonists for one or two tiers)
- Arcane Eye: Perfect antagonists for the first low–level tier.

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Q&A

Quote:
1. The Rift-Touched NPC:
I’m not sure about that one. It’s an interesting idea, but within a story with so many interesting plots, NPCs and villains, the “mysterious stranger” sounds a little bit stereotypical. It’s probably a very interesting one-time encounter, but I wouldn’t use the rift-touched NPC as a major antagonist.

Ah, you misunderstand or I miscommunicate. It's NOT "mysterious stranger." It's more like "the evil you know that creeps up on you." Let me clarify: In D&D you rarely see an evolving/changing villain (let alone an NPC who changes). It's a cornerstone of stories in other medium but in D&D villains tend to Exist; they are cut whole cloth in a one-dimensional, meant-to-be-killed sort of way. Their background, how they became a villain, is something the players probably won't learn or interact with significantly.

What I'm interested in is an NPC the PCs know from early on who has a minor role, either neutral or allied. Gradually, with each iteration the PCs interact with said NPC, they notice him being less forthcoming, not giving aid as readily, making alliances they don't agree with, and so on, the PC-NPC dynamic becoming increasingly adversarial. So the players see him becoming a villain in slow-mo and they have a good sense of why he has become this way.

Quote:
2. The Incantifier: 
That’s pretty cool. Interesting background for Ahrevad. Didn’t you plan to use Fallendor and the other NPCs from Zeb Cooks story?

Ahrevad...Yeah, using a cursed artifact and creating a rift in the planes are pretty extreme, so I need an equally extreme way for Ahrevad's beloved to have been lost.

Yes, I plan to use Fallendor (and to a lesser extent the paladin). At the end of David Zeb Cook's story, it seemed like Fallendor was haunted by what he'd done and still haunted by the Codex. I'm thinking he could point/guide the PCs toward the Incantifiers and the Codex. He strikes me as a good fit for the Duplicitous Guide or Self-Interested Sage archetype.

Quote:
4. Queen of Air and Darkness: 
What do you have planned for her? I’d probably have her lure the PCs to the Unseelie Court.

Nothing concrete yet, and she needs a stronger connection to the Rift, but I have a couple ideas...
  • What if the "Queen of Air and Darkness" has become a title that is passed on to a particularly sinister fey who proves herself to the Unseelie Court by giving mortals their comeuppance in a suitably impressive way? A Regime Change always brings about conflict, and even moreso when the Byzantine rules & politics of the fey are involved. I could see some sort of contest among the fey, perhaps "whoever finds the source of the Black Diamond first..
  • What if the Queen is making a bid to expand her influence? I could see her getting into conflict with Yan-C-Bin and/or Chan (Archmentals of Evil and Good, respectively) while vying for influence in the Inner Planes to control the Rift there. Also, as I mentioned, I see her as influencing one coven of the Daughters of the Light, and at least on covey of hags too.
  • What if the Seelie-Unseelie conflict was renewed and more overt? Could it even bleed into the Blood War? The Queen & her Unseelie fight for passion and self-interest against duty and honor, for adaptation and change against security and stasis, and for mob rule against the aristocratic hierarchy of the Seelie and their strict control over magic resources.
  • What if someone could find the Queen's lost true name? Would it be enough to "bring her back to the light? Or, as I'm imagining, did the Black Diamond only reveal the envy and malice already lurking in her heart? Perhaps the Queen sees herself as the hero bringing needed change to fey society?

Quote:
5. Ancient Empire: 
Do you have any preferences yet? I’d choose something rather exotic (but "planescape-y"), like the tainted Modrons or the Kamerel.

No preferences yet. I do want something that old players will recognize, but haven't had the opportunity to face much in previous D&D adventures. Haven't found the right monster yet. Maybe githyanki (or an OGL stand-in)?

I do like the idea of the Kamerel as the humans who eventually transformed into the Rilmani thru alchemy in pursuit of self-perfection. But Kamerel & Rilmani are pretty niche.

Quote:
Other Potential Antagonists: These are my favorite “antagonists” so far.
- Mnemosyne: As I mentioned in another post, I’d mirror the actions of the PCs in the struggle and moral dilemma of Mnemosyne. The PCs hear reports of the Titan but do not meet her until a later part of the campaign.

Before they meet Mnemosyne, I want the PCs to experience some buildup...
  • Finding broken false-memory crystals once used by Zeus (?) to bind her
  • Running into initiates of her mystery cult
  • Visiting the abandoned/ruined Mount Chrystos in Carceri for clues
  • Finding/purifying her sacred memory-restoring pool in Hades.

Quote:
- Cult of Aoskar and the Daughters of Light: I really like these two. I would not “overuse” them, though (maybe as antagonists for one or two tiers)

The Cult of Aoskar figures primarily in the third tier (levels 11-16), during which the PCs seek his blood. Depending on player choices, the Cult can be ally, neutral, enemy, or some combination thereof.

The Daughters of the Light are in the background of several interspersed adventures as one of several rival factions/sects. Depending on individual covens (and player choices) they can be ally, neutral, or enemy.

Quote:
- Arcane Eye: Perfect antagonists for the first low–level tier.

Yes. The basic idea was the PCs would deal with thugs, Atanishan, and other agents (tier 1) > Old Graycloak and Boss Uvúrik (tier 2) > the Rakshasa Maharajah behind the scenes (tiers 3/4)
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Yeah, I misinterpreted the

Yeah, I misinterpreted the "previously obscure NPC".

Quote:
What if someone could find the Queen's lost true name? Would it be enough to "bring her back to the light? Or, as I'm imagining, did the Black Diamond only reveal the envy and malice already lurking in her heart? Perhaps the Queen sees herself as the hero bringing needed change to fey society?

I like this idea. It fits my interpretation of the Queens self-image quite well.

Quote:
Before they meet Mnemosyne, I want the PCs to experience some buildup...

Finding broken false-memory crystals once used by Zeus (?) to bind her
Running into initiates of her mystery cult
Visiting the abandoned/ruined Mount Chrystos in Carceri for clues
Finding/purifying her sacred memory-restoring pool in Hades.


Sounds great!

(Sorry, I'm too tired right now, to make a more extensive post ;) )

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Queen of Air & Darkness

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(Sorry, I'm too tired right now, to make a more extensive post ;) )

No need to apologize! Your feedback has been great :) Actually, despite lots of views, you're the only one to reply at all!

Quote:
I like this idea. It fits my interpretation of the Queens self-image quite well.

I see the Queen as a conflicted figure: she wants the innocence, love, and position she lost, but is driven to destroy all traces of her past out of pain and hate. A couple more thoughts on the Queen of Air and Darkness...

What is lost can never be found
What if the Queen sought to wipe her memory at some point? This opens up potential connections to Mnemosyne, pursuing lost memories she herself abandoned in a Unity of the Rings cycle. It also makes for a juicy dilemma: the Queen can never completely know herself (for power or enlightenment) without her True Name, yet knowing her True Name might make her revert to the fey princess she once was (sacrificing power and her evolution).

I am tempted to introduce some kind of abstract thief NPC who unearths the Queen's True Name. Like ancient Words of Power, it would be neat if her True Name has unforeseen consequences, perhaps changing the thief NPC?

Secrets in the halls of madness
The Unseelie Court is described as occupying the sparsely populated 3rd layer of Pandemonium, and I always wondered if the Queen knew of the Lady of Pain's secret enemies trapped on the 4th layer Agathoin. Gaining secrets from these prisoners could tie the Queen more to the setting and give her secret inroads to Sigil. She thus might have knowledge of the Lady's Key or Aoskar that the PCs need to acquire.

The rift as dark mirror of the soul
What is the Rift to the Queen of Air and Darkness? Maybe gazing into the Rift the Queen has seen multiple versions of herself - her archetype - cast throughout the cosmos and is fighting the tides of Fate. Maybe her True Name (or the thief knowing her True Name) fell into the Rift and the Queen is in desperate pursuit. Maybe the Black Diamond fell into the Rift, spinning toward its source...whether that is indeed Tharzidun (like the source material hints) or something else, the Queen does not know, but must find out.

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Quote:What if the Queen

Quote:
What if the Queen sought to wipe her memory at some point? This opens up potential connections to Mnemosyne, pursuing lost memories she herself abandoned in a Unity of the Rings cycle. It also makes for a juicy dilemma: the Queen can never completely know herself (for power or enlightenment) without her True Name, yet knowing her True Name might make her revert to the fey princess she once was (sacrificing power and her evolution).

Sounds great! The connection between the Queen and Mnemosyne is an awesome idea.

Quote:
I am tempted to introduce some kind of abstract thief NPC who unearths the Queen's True Name. Like ancient Words of Power, it would be neat if her True Name has unforeseen consequences, perhaps changing the thief NPC?

Maybe her Truename was unknowingly recorded as a memory on Hwyrr the Clarion Harp? This brings a lot of plot elements together and the Eladrin-Unseelie combination should work quite well too.
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EDIT: DUPLICATE POST, DELETE.

EDIT: DUPLICATE POST, DELETE.

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Queen of Air and Darkness

Quote:
Maybe her Truename was unknowingly recorded as a memory on Hwyrr the Clarion Harp? This brings a lot of plot elements together and the Eladrin-Unseelie combination should work quite well too.

Nice! I like it!
I sat down and got all my thoughts organized about the Queen of Air and Darkness...The part about "Goals, Escalation & Endgame" is inspired by DUNGEON WORLD's fronts, and is meant to describe what would happen without PC intervention.

............

Queen of Air and Darkness

Archfey, Pandemonium, Unseelie Court, Black Diamond, Lost Truename, The False Queen

BACKSTORY
The Queen of Air and Darkness yearns to learn her Truename, and so she conspired to create a Rift in the planes which could pierce even the prison of Carceri where Mnemosyne, the one who could restore her memories was trapped. However, in her eagerness the Queen strayed too close to the Rift and was pulled in. She now exists halfway in the planes, and halfway elsewhere, a phantom touching whatever planes the Rift touches, ever hungering, searching. Until her full return to the planes, one of her proxies has claimed her title (see the False Queen).

GOALS, ESCALATION & ENDGAME

Goal: Discover (or destroy) her Truename. The Queen can never completely know herself, can never taste absolute power, without her Truename, yet knowing her Truename might make her revert to the fey princess she once was.

  1. The Queen reaches thru the Rift, tempting several mortal agents
  2. The False Queen consolidates power in Unseelie Court and tentative alliance with Rakshasa
  3. Unseelie Court finds Mnemosyne who is forced to flee her new lair
  4. The Queen returns and the False Queen suffers
  5. The Queen hunts down Mnemosyne
Endgame: Mnemosyne hesitates in revealing the Queen's Truename is known to the Clarion Harp of Faerinaal, 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.

CONNECTIONS

Aoskar & the Lady of Pain: The Queen found the black dragon Argathorn, ex-proxy of Chronepsis, in the vaults on Agathion (4th layer of Pandemonium), and learned his mad vision of the Lady, Sigil, Aoskar, and the planes. Thus she knows of the Lady's Key and what really befell Aoskar.

Daughters of the Light: The Queen is the patron of one unwitting coven which she manipulates to spread murder, evil, and darkness, especially among rivals seeking the Queen's Truename or to otherwise weaken her.

Incanterium: The Queen made an alliance of convenience with the Incantifiers to free Mnemosyne from Carceri. Otherwise she scoffs at the pretensions of the mortal magic-users, not realizing they have designs on her Black Diamond.

Mnemosyne: The Queen sought Mnemosyne long ago to help her forget her Truename. Now she seeks to remember, even if it means breaking the walls of Carceri, even if it means forcing an unwilling Mnemosyne.

Rakshasa Maharajah: The False Queen once killed the Rakshasa long ago, and they've had a love-hate relationship since then, both drawn to and repulsed by each other.

THE UNSEELIE COURT
Unseelie Fey: Baobhan Sith "black sprite" (1/2), banshrae (4), hag (2-5), quickling (2), spriggan (3)
Dark Riders: Undead, corrupted elves/drow, nightmare (3), yeth hound (3)
Controlled Daesmosians: (Pandemonium representative species)
The False Queen: Lady Shalizeh Windshadow (Px/f ghaele eladrin/CR 12/CN(E) in her mortal seeming was a veteran of the Greyhawk Wars during which she felt betrayed by Faerinaal and Morwel and turned to the dark side.

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Sounds good!

Sounds good!
All the small pieces are coming together. :)

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Incanterium

Quote:
Sounds good!
All the small pieces are coming together. :)

Yep, thanks, love it when that happens. :)
............

Incanterium


Dead Faction Reborn, Tower Sorcerous, Codex of the Infinite Planes, Lost Beloved, Ex-Factol Tivvum

BACKSTORY
The Incanterium (Incantifiers, Magicians, Wanters) was originally a cabal of mages formed by emigrants to the planes seeking to give mortals magic to travel the planes and to defend against the otherworldly forces arrayed against them. Most of Sigil and the factions came to rely on Inantifier magics - wands of light, sensory stones, and portal traps just some of their creations that can be found today. The Incantifiers realized that magic was the path to true power and began transforming themselves into beings sustained by magic, thirsting for ever greater magic, even Sigil itself. However, they reached too high and the Lady destroyed them. Since their exile by the Lady of Pain, the Incantifiers have been a fractured shadow. Ahrevad Enrizar is the leader they've been waiting for. The former apprentice of Tivuum, Ahrevad has a greater vision than just his own appetite for magic, a vision of a restored Incanterium perfecting its transformative magic rites. What if the worthy had no need for food or sleep? What if the worthy could travel the planes with but a thought? What if all mortal races were united as Incantifiers, providing the worthy with transformation into a greater existence? What if we could shed our mortality?

Ahrevad's beloved Entelisse was his muse, inspiring the new factol to greatness. However, like Icarus, Ahrevad reached too high, attempting to master a new form of planar trial in the Ethereal, and Entelisse was lost in an ether gap. Since then Ahrevad became obsessed with the Codex of the Infinite Planes as both a means to realize the Incanterium's goals and his personal quest to find his beloved. After many years searching, Ahrevad and his cabal recovered the Codex and unlocked its powers, creating a Rift in the planes like they never could have imagined.

GOALS, ESCALATION, AND ENDGAME
Goal 1: Unlock the powers of the Codex for infinite supply of magic "food" for Incantifiers and to make 
Goal 2: Ahrevad seeks his lost beloved Entelisse who fell thru an ether gap into the unknown.

  1. Incantifier agents sabotage several oracles to hide their creation of the Rift, including Varuna's realm in Mechanus and the realm of the Norns in the Outlands.
  2. A
  3. A
  4. Hungry for transformation, Valerian betrays Ahrevad to the efreeti who attack for the Codex, and though they do not find it they leave the Tower Sorcerous in a state of collapse. Surviving Incantifiers flee to the Outlands.
  5. A
Endgame 1: Unlocking the Codex turns the new Incantifiers to evil and paranoia, and causes the Rift to magnify twofold.
Endgame 2: Ahrevad finds Entelisse at last, but she has changed into something terrible after prolonged contact with the Far Realm.

CONNECTIONS

Aoskar & the Lady of Pain: One of Aoskar's adventuring companions founded the Incanterium, and their Tower Sorcerous contains ancient references to Aoskar that can help the PCs' quest.

Arcane Eye: The Incantifiers have a two-sided relationship with the Arcane Eye thieves' guild. On the one hand, the Incantifiers rely on the vile components and forbidden magics the thieves provide, but on the other hand the "Wizard's spice" peddled by the thieves is anathema to the Incantifiers' goals. There is the sense on both sides of an uneasy truce that could erupt with sufficient provocation.

Codex of the Infinite Planes: The Incantifiers recovered the Codex from the Plane of Fire and it has become central to their goals of finding an unlimited source of magical energy for their magical transmutations.

Daughters of the Light: The Incanterium's original goal of protecting mortal communities on the planes is similar to the Daughters. However, the Incantifiers see the Daughters as clinging to untrustworthy brings which ultimately seek to diminish mortal-kind's power. For the arcane enlightenment that Ahrevad preaches to come about, the superstitious Daughters must fall by the wayside.

Efreeti: Sayeeda Zefeera al-Mustuk, the efreeti Sultan's greatest knight, seeks to recover the Codex of the Infinite Planes to regain her sultan's trust, and this has put the Incanterium in her path as an enemy.

Mnemosyne: Ahrevad freed Mnemosyne from Carceri, seeking the titaness' ancient secrets of ether gaps. While Mnemosyne did not have (or would not give) exactly what he sought, she did provide Ahrevad with leads dealing with what lies between/beyond the planes.

Queen of Air and Darkness: Ahrevad was at a desperate low when he was contacted by the Queen, and they forged a temporary alliance in order to create the Rift - Ahrevad had the Codex and know-how, while the Queen had the raw power. Enrizar played upon the Queen's self-destructive tendencies, tricking her into the Rift. His dealing with the Queen goes against the guidelines of the reborn Incanterium, however, and Ahrevad's followers would be disgusted if they learned the truth.

Rilmani: Once, the Rilmani were humans who attempted alchemical perfection and obtained it. They watch the Incantifiers very closely and believe what Ahrevad is attempting goes against the Balance. However, a minority sect within the Rilmani believe the Incantifiers will be successful in engineering a massive evolutionary leap and provide covert support.

AGENTS OF THE INCANTERIUM
Incantifiers: Ahrevad Enrizar (Pl/m human, Incantifier/wizard [transmuter] 16, legendary/LE), ## (Pr/f human, Incantifier/wizard [abjurer] 12/LN), ## (Pl/m githyanki, Incantifier/fighter [eldritch knight] 12/LE), Valerian Loremaster (Pl/m human/wizard [diviner] 12/N), Incantifier initiates 9th level conjurers/evokers (6)
Servants: Invisible stalkers (6), golems clay/stone (9/10)
Independent/Fallen Incantifiers: Ex-Factol Tivvum (Pl/m human, Incantifier/wizard [conjurer] 18/NE), Alluvius Ruskin (Pl/f tiefling, Incantifier/sorcerer [wild magic] 14/NE), arcane abominations (7)
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How do you plan to include

How do you plan to include the Rilmani and the Efreeti?
It might get a bit confusing (especially for rather unexperienced DMs) to deal with that many groups/parties and so many connections between them.

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Too much going on?

Quote:
It might get a bit confusing (especially for rather unexperienced DMs) to deal with that many groups/parties and so many connections between them.

Counterpoint: How long does it take a DM to run a game from level 1 to 20? Because that's what I'm designing for. Just how many different types of adversaries does a typical party face in a level 1-20 campaign? My hunch is "a lot."

I am using some organizational tools (relationship maps, organization briefs) to help mitigate this, but generally my philosophy is to design to the "higher common denominator." By this I mean make intelligent adventures for smart DMs to run for smart parties. Many adventures sadly are designed for an imaginary "least common denominator" (a marginally competent DM and ADD power-gaming players) and not only do the players stomp over them but they are actually *harder* for the DM to run! Why? Because they lack relevant detail, have major plot holes, have static environments, assume stupid villain plans/motives, and don't account for the gamut of PC options & ingenuity. The DM ends up having to add all that stuff.

Ah... I'll get off my soapbox now :)

Quote:
How do you plan to include the Rilmani and the Efreeti?

Efreeti may crop up in one or two other places as foreshadowing, but mainly in the adventure in the City of Brass.
Rilmani similarly have a single adventure they feature in, but also are foreshadowed and hinted earlier.
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Quote:Counterpoint: How long

Quote:
Counterpoint: How long does it take a DM to run a game from level 1 to 20? Because that's what I'm designing for. Just how many different types of adversaries does a typical party face in a level 1-20 campaign? My hunch is "a lot."

Hah, true! We are playing our current campaign for 7 years by now and we haven't made it past level 13. Lots of time for many different villains.

Quote:
Ah... I'll get off my soapbox now :)

Chapeau!

Quote:
Efreeti may crop up in one or two other places as foreshadowing, but mainly in the adventure in the City of Brass.
Rilmani similarly have a single adventure they feature in, but also are foreshadowed and hinted earlier.

Cool! I'm looking forward to hear more details.
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The Shadow Sorcelled Key

Chapeau! to you too :)

I just tumbled to an awesome connection between the Lady's Key and the Shadow Sorcelled Key mentioned in Planescape: Torment...thought I'd share the relevant bit from the game...

Planescape: Torment wrote:
I asked, "Why is it called the Lower Ward?" He let out a short laugh and shrugged his shoulders.

"That depends on your point of view, cutter. The rich say it's because this is the home of the common or *lower* classes. If you ask those who live here it's because of the portals... and the incident."

"The incident?" I echoed.

"Yes..." He frowned as he paused to think. "A long time ago this was known as the Prime Ward. People new to the city were placed here and not allowed access to all of Sigil. There were many other restrictions placed upon them as well... Some berk took offense to that and decided to form a rebellion. It went nowhere, of course, until he made a fascinating discovery..."

"You see, there are a lot of portals in this area of the city and most of them open onto the Lower Planes. Well, that barmy berk found a way to open them all at once. He allowed *anything* that wanted to come through the portals into the city. It became quite bloody; a terrible war ensued. Anyway, that's why this is known as the *lower* ward. Because of the portals."

"Sebastion, how did this person open all the gates?"

"He used an item that he either had commissioned or made himself. What was it called..." He paused to think for a moment. "Ah, I remember, the Shadow-Sorcelled Key..." At the mention of the key I began to feel dizzy, the world around me froze, and everything turned gray. I sensed a past memory trying to force it's way into my consciousness. I relaxed, and let it come.

The world around me faded and I found myself in the darkened streets of Sigil. My heart was pounding, trying to break free from my chest; my breath came in ragged gasps. I had been running for hours it seemed, and yet I could not stop...

I turned a corner and entered an alley, finally slowing my flight. I felt my strength fade as I leaned against a nearby wall and tried to catch my breath. I became aware of something hard pressed into the palm of my hand. Glancing down I opened my clenched fist to stare at the gem embedded in the flesh.

My body sagged toward the wall until my forehead touched its cold, damp surface. My eyes closed and I forced myself to take slow deep breaths. Just as I felt my strength returning I heard a faint noise and instantly snapped to full awareness. I turned to look toward the alley mouth.

At first I saw nothing, just ghost visions caused by the shadows of the night. I was about to turn away when a slight movement caught my eye. Slowly, a female form glided around the corner, paused, and then turned to face me. My eyes travelled from her slender waist toward her full bosom, and then her blade-enshrouded face. Even in the darkness I could see her cold, emotionless eyes...

The memory faded and my normal vision returned. I was standing before Sebastion in the market. He was looking at me with some concern, but this passed when he saw that I was all right. "Thought I lost you for a moment there, cutter."

"What became of this Shadow-Sorcelled Key?"

"No one knows. The key has been lost for some time now. Many believe the Lady of Pain took the key to prevent it ever being used again."

"So, what was the outcome of the rebellion?" He thought for a moment.

"Well... Everyone, except the leader, was given pages in the dead-book. The leader and the creatures just up and vanished one day, surely the Lady's work. The survivors fled the ward. The fumes of the Lower Planes had polluted the air, you see. Anyway, the ward remained deserted until the Foundry was eventually built."

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I'm a little modron

Was brushing up my character sketching doing concepts for some NPCs and this little guy came out. Dang I'm rusty!

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Quote:I just tumbled to an

Quote:
I just tumbled to an awesome connection between the Lady's Key and the Shadow Sorcelled Key mentioned in Planescape: Torment...thought I'd share the relevant bit from the game...

Great connection! This sound like the kind of dream the Codex might send.
Can't wait till Torment Numenera comes out - If it's only half as good as Planescape: Torment I'll be overjoyed.

Quote:
Was brushing up my character sketching doing concepts for some NPCs and this little guy came out. Dang I'm rusty!

Looks great! As I've mentioned before, you should definitely include your sketches and drawings in the final adventure.
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Table of contents (rough)

Just put together a work-in-progress table of contents with guesstimated page counts...

1-4 Title, Credits/Legal/Thanks, Contents, Preface
5-9 Introduction*
     Synopsis by Tier, Planescape, Heroic Bonds, Rift Marks, Adapting the Campaign, (NPC Abbreviation), (Website)
10-20 Sigil, City of Doors*
     Overview, Lady's Ward, Lower Ward, Hive Ward, Clerk's Ward, Guildhall and Market Wards, (The Factions)
21-77 Chapter I: Mystery of the Mark (~56)*
     1-2. Mountain Specters
     2-3. Canary in the Cage
     4. Two Faced Sibyl
78-162 Chapter II: The Lady's Key (~84)*
     5-6. Saint of Keys
     6-7. Between a Cog and a Hard Place
     8-9. Secrets of the Fading Palace
     9-10. A Mirror Darkly
163-247 Chapter III: Blood of Aoskar (~84)*
     11-12. The Leafless Tree
     12-13. Shattered Portals
     14-15. Aoskar's Maze
     15-16. 
256-304 Chapter IV: A Conspiracy of Doors (~56)*
     17-18.
     18-19.
     20.
305-306 Appendix A: Portals & Pathways
307-310 Appendix B: Rift Marks
     The Alchemist, The Astral Guardian, The Conduit, The Dreamer, The Etherfarer, The Gatecrasher, The Plane Seer, The Portal Key
311-312 Appendix C: Spells
     Gate Ward, Warp Sense
313-316 Appendix D: Magic Items & Artifacts
     Mimir, Portal Trap, Sensory Stone, Hwyrr the Clarion Harp, Codex of the Infinite Planes
317 Appendix E: Glossary & Cant
318 Index of NPCs
319 Index of Planar Sites
320 Playtest Quotes & Website Link (Player's Primer, Pregen PCs, Handouts/Maps)

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Saint of Keys (levels 5-6), Chp II

CHAPTER II: The Lady's Key

In this chapter for levels 5 to 10, the PCs have uncovered the power of their marks. The Rift presents an ever increasing threat to the planes, enveloping more territory in the Outlands. It seems to exert a destabilizing effect on Sigil's portals, which are behaving erratically, permanent portals become shifting portals and gate keys change overnight. The PCs have been trying to find the portal ring the Two Faced Sibyl told them of, but in the chaos it is impossible. Only the Lady's Key can restore Sigil's portals, but the artifact has been fractured into three pieces and cast across the planes. Their journey will take them from Sigil to the Outlands, Mechanus to Limbo, the Plane of Air to the Ethereal, Feywild, and Arborea, and from bleakest Gehenna to the Shadowfell and the Plane of Mirrors. At the end of this chapter, the PCs will find the ancient portal ring, though the key needed to activate it remains unknown...

5-6. Saint of Keys
Searching for information on the Lady's Key, the PCs are tipped off to an old asylum worker in the Gatehouse named Artus said to be the last living guardian of the Lady's Key; he explains that it was an artifact as old as the Lady herself which fractured into three pieces which were cast thru random portals when it was last used. While Artus doesn't know where its parts ended up, he does know a cross-trader named the Saint of Keys stole his notes about the Lady's Key; the Saint of Keys is a cambion key broker living in Curst descended from Parrafaire (naga trickster demi-god) blessed with the ability to find any key described to him. The portal from Sigil is unreliable, however, depositing them in a rilmani village a couple days from Curst. Moreover, the portal shifts shortly after the PCs pass thru, meaning they'll have to find a new way back to Sigil.

Once in Curst, the PCs learn the Saint of Keys is hosting an auction to unsavory sorts to sell his piece of the Lady's Key to the highest bidder, and treachery and underhanded deals abound. Three parties are interested in the piece the Saint of Keys has: First, the devil Crooked Nell, serving her master Dispater. Second, the shadow demon Vaorta possessing a warrior, serving either the Arcane Eye thieves' guild or a mysterious demonic patron. Third, the succubus Quarinah serving the ancient hag Mag Morae and possibly the Queen of Air and Darkness herself. The PCs will need to navigate treachery and underhanded deals. Further complicating matters is that the Saint of Keys has hidden his piece of the Lady's Key in his mind thru a trick he learned from Shekinester, and only exposure to the flame at the Court of Light will free the piece of the Lady's Key. 

Thus, the PCs must take the Saint of Keys to the Court of Light, dealing with his trickery and the tests Shekinester places before them. In the Loom of the Weaver, the PCs face a labyrinthine forest of thorns filled with nagas threatening to divide the PCs, the only way thru to forget where you've been and where you hope to go. In the Hall of Tests, illusions of the PCs' greatest attachments, secret regrets, and lingering resentments blur the line between reality and fantasy, and fiends the PCs encountered in the past are summoned. At the Arching Flame, a grand chamber filled with entranced bone nagas and skeletons, there is one final test to extract the piece of the Lady's Key: a PC must enter the flame with the Saint of Keys, risking obliteration or purification. The PCs can learn the location of the other two pieces of the Key from the Saint of Keys, by casting a divination on the piece they do have, or by returning the piece to Artus.

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A thought on the Lady's Key

In chapter II the main goal is to retrieve the three pieces of the Lady's Key and put it back together to restabilize Sigil's portals. I've connected this to the Shadow Sorcelled Key from PS:T already, but I have another idea...

Notice how the Bleak Cabal, Fated, Sensate, and to a lesser extent Athar symbols depict bladed crowns/helms?

That makes me think the Lady's Key should look like a bladed crown to allude to how old it is and suggest its influence throughout the history of the planes. I like this cause I can readily be divided into these three parts: circlet, headpiece, and diadem. I also like it because later a PC might need to wear it to acivate something magic, and there can be some fun tension there not knowing what it will do to them for sure. I'm even thinking the diadem can be the Shadow Sorcelled Key (a dark gem) that the Nameless One had fashioned / fashioned himself.

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The Lady's Key sounds great!

The Lady's Key sounds great!
Especially the part about the Court of Light and how you include Artus.
The Saint of Keys is a pretty cool villain too.

Quote:
That makes me think the Lady's Key should look like a bladed crown to allude to how old it is and suggest its influence throughout the history of the planes.

I'm not sure about shape of the Lady's Key, though. A bladed headdress is a little bit to straightforward/obvious for my taste.
Maybe the Key could be comprised of words (something defining existence itself) or recognition of the three major principles of the Multiverse (rule of three, center of all, unity of rings), the "Items" being nothing more than decoys.
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KnightofDecay wrote:The Lady

KnightofDecay wrote:
The Lady's Key sounds great!
Especially the part about the Court of Light and how you include Artus.
The Saint of Keys is a pretty cool villain too.

Thanks! The way I derived Artus makes it seem like he *must* be the quest-giver, and that's actually not true. I design all my adventures so there are multiple hooks/points of entry into the adventure. Artus is just one of those, though he is a fun kooky NPC as I've written him.

The Saint of Keys is a villain from my old campaign reimagined. Cambion half-naga with divine ancestry. I'll be sketching him up one of these days.

KnightofDecay wrote:
I'm not sure about shape of the Lady's Key, though. A bladed headdress is a little bit to straightforward/obvious for my taste.
Maybe the Key could be comprised of words (something defining existence itself) or recognition of the three major principles of the Multiverse (rule of three, center of all, unity of rings), the "Items" being nothing more than decoys.

I do like this idea, I'm just hard pressed to implement it. Any ideas?

What I have now are pieces of the Key tied into the sites/NPCs where they are found. For example, the Saint of Keys has a "halo" (the "circlet" part of the Key) that has psychically bonded to him, becoming inseparable save thru very specific measure (ergo the Arcing Flame in the Court of Light). I suppose a circlet IS representative of Unity of Rings.
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Between a Cog and a Hard Place (levels 6-7), Chp II

6-7. Between a Cog and Hard Place
The second piece of the Lady's Key is held by a mimir trapped on Mechanus. Since portals are unreliable, the PCs are assumed to travel to the gate-town Automata overland, seeking to use the Gate to Mechanus. Only problem is exact calculations are needed to time the jump to end up at the site where the mimir is (the Coglock), and no two sages agree as the presence of the Rift disrupts their calculations. Moreover, the Council of Order requires an approved set of calculations to use the gate. Thus, four ways into Mechanus present themselves: 1) The PCs can sneak into the gate and take their chances with a faulty calculation (where do they end up?). 2) The Fraternity of Order and modrons have a plan to root out the Council of Anarchy, thus tipping the gate-town over the edge, but need the help of planewalkers. 3) Leggis Scrog of the Council of Anarchy knows a calculation which leads right to the mimir, but it risks irreperably damaging the Gate; in return he asks their help digging up dirt on the ruling Council of Order. 4) A moigno in town could solve their calculation dilemma thru the traditional channels, but the moigno was tricked into the service of the erinyes Aurach the Fair.

The mimir is at a site come to be known as the Coglock. Used by modrons as a stopgap measure to prevent a disaster, the mimir has been wedged between two intelligent enormous cogs that help maintain the Clockwork Universe of Mechanus. One cog believes in order thru perfection, the other in order thru control. Exacerbating the philosophical divide is acid damage to both cogs of unknown origin, either a manifestation of the conflict or sabotage. Without the mimir (or a similarly indestructible and diplomatic magic item), the cogs would come apart destroying the nearby Vigilant Eye, the astrologer's paradise of Varuna - Indian god of cosmic order, oaths, and the celestial ocean - who can provide the PCs with insight into the Rift. After decades of separation from its creator, the mimir has developed its own sentience and wants to be free, though it feigns being a simple magic item to the modrons. The mimir asks for the PCs' help to free it from the crushing weight of Law, but in order to reveal its piece of the Lady's Key, the mimir requires its command word to be uttered. Sadly, the mimir does not know the command word, so the PCs need to find its creator K'vrech Chaos-shaper, a githzerai petitioner of Mechanus who fled and returned to his racial home-plane of Limbo. 

A conduit leads from the Coglock to K'vrech's self-imagined afterlife in Limbo - the Paradise of One Sky - made of the chaos matter itself, an idyllic scene of what life may have been like for his progenitors before enslavement to the mind flayers. K'vrech vaguely recalls the mimir but his mind has become clouded by the presence of "three interlopers" in his paradise, preventing him from remembering the command word. These "interlopers" appear as different NPCs in his imagined paradise: First, Xorlgast, a green slaad intent on harvesting K'vrech's soul to turn it into a slaad tadpole. Second, Azemnon, a zelekhut inevitable sent by Varuna to return the githzerai petitioner to Mechanus, for as a Lawful soul who drowned he belongs in Varuna's realm. Third, Pah'zel Githom-vaas, a githyanki knight sent to extract a secret of the githzerai (the guidon artifact K'vrech helped install in the Floating City). The PCs can unmask the interlopers for K'vrech or side with one of them to get the command word from K'vrech. 

When they return to Mechanus and free the mimir, not only do the PCs get the second piece of the Lady's Key from the mimir, but they also discover the gears were sabotaged by a mage as a deliberate attack on the Vigilant Eye. Visiting Varuna's realm - easy if they sided with the Zelekhut, harder if they did not - the PCs can learn several secrets about the Rift: that a mighty "planar breach" ritual was cast on the Astral using the Codex of the Infinite Planes as fulfillment of an oath.

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Quote:I do like this idea, I

Quote:
I do like this idea, I'm just hard pressed to implement it. Any ideas?

Hmm, lets see
Rule-of-Three: Everything happens in threes.
This one is obvious, three principles, three keys.

Unity of Rings: Everything comes back to where it started.
Maybe the PC already possessed the key in the beginning of the campaign (this might be an item or an abstract idea/motivation like "joining together to decipher the mystery of the rift and the true meaning of the multiverse") and gave it away.

Center of All: There is a center of everything — or, rather, wherever a person happens to be is the center of the multiverse.
There is no "lock" for this key. Wherever a blood finds the the true meaning of the multiverse all ways will open for him, as he becomes the key.

Quote:
6-7. Between a Cog and Hard Place

Great stuff!
The Vigilant Eye sound a bit similar to the Arcane Eye.
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KnightofDecay wrote:The

KnightofDecay wrote:
The Vigilant Eye sound a bit similar to the Arcane Eye.

True. I was using the realm name verbatim from On Hallowed Ground. Perhaps I'll just call it the Vigilant Realm of Varuna.

One of my concerns is what happens with petitioner memories, as the adventure hinges on learning a command word from the petitioner K'vrech for a magic time he possessed in life.
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Howler's Crag (Pandemonium) - thoughts?

Wow, so I just ran across this juicy tidbit about a site on Pandemonium called Howler's Crag...

Planes of Chaos pg. 95 wrote:
The Crag's built on the grave of a power whose followers once ruled the planes, a power of travelers, portals, and planewalkers. The power was a phoenix, and the chant goes that it and its followers were not immortal but controlled the secrets of reincarnation. The other powers grew so jealous of this nameless one that they cast it into Pandemonium, and destroyed its followers and petitioners. When it died it became the Crag, and the remnants of its divine spark give the stone its magic.

An Aoskar like figure, a nameless dead god, secrets of reincarnation... That's perfect! I've got to use this!

Any ideas if this is a reference to some old bit of D&D lore? Or ideas about how to integrate it into my other story elements?

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You should check out

You should check out Shemeskas Storyhour over at ENworld (not sure how much of it was posted here at Planewalker). There's a rather long episode about a mysterious killing spree at an archaeological excavation on Howler's Crag, which includes lot's of interesting and inspiring details (the past of the Gautiere, forgotten languages written everywhere...).

http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?77613-Shemeska-s-Planescape-Storyhour-%28Updated-29-Jan-2014%29/page187

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Re: Howler's Crag

I love Shemeska's story hour. Stopped reading it in 2013, but I did read several pages that you suggested, the whole Howler's Crag murder mystery and crossing over into the Outlands. It is a great story! However, it doesn't get into the real secrets of Howler's Crag...

Tentatively, I figure it would be fitting to have some connection to Aoskar (by virtue of the identical portfolios) & some connection to the Rakshasa Maharajah trying to destroy the Wheel of Rebirth (by virtue of the secrets of reincarnation).

EDIT: Actually, it's looking like one adventure will be largely based in Pandemonium...or at least Pandemonium will be a recurring feature. Sites on Pandemonium apropos to the story include: Howler's Crag, The Unseelie Court, and a vault on Agathion (either with Argathorn or some secret of the Lady).

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Chp II - The Lady's Key story arc planning

In Chapter II the PCs hunt down three pieces of a sundered artifact. I need to pin down just what this artifact is, whether it's something physical, or intangible, or a bit of both. For example, three physical pieces representing the three planar principles could be cool: Center of the Multiverse, Rule of Threes, Unity of Rings. Also, I'd like for each piece of the artifact to be connected to the theme/setting of each adventure. With that in mind, the adventures, loosely, are...

Saint of Keys: The PCs learn about the Lady's Key and hunt down a legendary fiendish half-naga key broker in the Outlands for the first piece. This piece of the Key is apropos to the Unity of Rings since the "saint's" deals/logic are circular, getting the key from the "saint" requires taking him back to his grandmother Shekinester, and this marks the debarkation point for the PCs on their quest to unify a shattered artifact... a circlet or annulus, a golden ring (like the web comic), a naga holy symbol representing cycles of birth/life/death, the burnt remains of the "saint" after immersing him in the Arcing Flame of Shekinester's Court, some secret wisdom held in the "saint's" brain-box (needs more detail)...

...alternately could be Rule of Threes reflecting the three-faced goddess Shekinester's role, as well as the three evil groups after this piece of the key.

Begween a Cog and a Hard Place: The PCs seek the second piece of the Key held in a mimir trapped in Mechanus, requiring a trip to its deceased githzerai creator's paradise in Limbo. This piece of the Key is a good fit for the Center of the Multiverse with Mechanus as the unchanging underlying order of all & Limbo as the ever changing fundamental chaos, with the githzerai petitioner in the center... a meditation focus once used by the githzerai, a secret word/teaching of the githzerai, the mimir itself, the golden heart of Aoskar, a fragment of the Spire, a dying star trapped in a magical glass sphere...

...alternately could be Rule of Threes for the idea that there's a third option to resolving the githzerai petitioner's dilemma rather than the Mechanus / Limbo polarization, also linked to the "three interlopers" infilitrating the githzerai's paradise.

...alternately could be Unity of Rings for the idea of transmigration of the soul, that this isn't the first time the githzerai petitioner has passed thru the realms of spirit, that he lived in Limbo and returns to Limbo as his rightful afterlife OR that his rightful afterlife is Mechanus, he fled to Limbo in fear, but returns to Mechanus.

Secrets of the Fading Palace: The PCs seek the third piece of the Key guarded by a sphinx in the fading palace once imagined by ancient Signer Factol Gaelan that spans the Plane of Air, the Ethereal, and the Feywild/Prime. I'm envisioning the palace as a place where Gaelan taught his three elite students (Yemeth/Nameless One? Tuerney? and...?) the art of imagining. This piece of the Key is a good candidate for the Rule of Threes...a triskelion, an obsidian gehreleth triangle, a gem with three facets, a three-bladed crown, three things gathered from each of Gaelan's students...

...alternately could be Center of the Multiverse as the golden heart of Aoskar is a magic item from DRAGON which was created by Signers of the Will of One, and the various philosophies of "wind is the source of creation", "all matter springs for from the Ethereal first", "the Prime is the center of the multiverse."

KnightOfDecay
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I like your suggestions for

I like your suggestions for
Saint of Keys - Unity of Rings
Between a Cog and a Hard Place - Center of All
Secrets of the Fading Palace - Rule of Three

The Heart of Aoskar is a pretty cool item. I used it in my campaign too. The PCs acquired possession of it after foiling the Plans of the Will of One to resurrect Aoskar in the Astral Plane. It later merged (chaos magic gone awry) with the PCs Nautiloid ship.

Quickleaf
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Thanks! I'll go with those.

Thanks! I'll go with those.

Out of curiosity, why did your PCs oppose the Will of One? Was Aoskar a bad guy in your campaign?

KnightOfDecay
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The PCs didn't know to much

The PCs didn't know much about Aoskar, besides the fact that he, his cult and his temple were destroyed by the Lady of Pain and it was forbidden to openly speak his name in Sigil. Originally they were approached by both, the Will of One (to recover certain old artifacts of Aoskar needed as a focus for their ritual) as well as the Athar (who needed someone to unobtrusively sabotage the plans of the Will of One).
After some trouble with both groups (and Anarchists trying to stir further dissent between the factions), the party decided that the Athar were simply complete morons, while the Will of One's plans endangered the balance and the safety of the Multiverse itself. So they chose to actively work against the plans of both factions and became a third side in the conflict.
The ressurection of Aoskar was finally prevented by the actions of the PCs, an Athar assault and the active resistance of the Guardian of Dead Gods.

To this day the Sign of One is considered to be the most dangerous of all factions by some of my players.

Quickleaf
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Fiendish half-nagas, oh my!

KnightofDecay wrote:
To this day the Sign of One is considered to be the most dangerous of all factions by some of my players.

Awesome story :)

I've got another crude sketch to share, this one of the Saint of Keys.

He needs a longer neck, isn't meant to be so squat, and needs more key accoutrements, but it's a start! I decided to lean more on the 2e cambion than the 5e cambion.

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