Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

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Quickleaf
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Planar Renovation Project: Gehenna

I remember really enjoying following the conversations about the Planar Renovation Project, so I thought I would revive one from last year...Gehenna.

Wicke wrote:
I gotta say, after having read back through the canonical description of Gehenna in Planes of Conflict, what you guys have come up with here is a heck of a lot more evocative.

Floating "asteroids" filled with the ruins of lost/displaced locations from across the planes and primes, filled with secrets and treasure for those willing to brave the venture. Seedy cities filled with gangsters, Blood War troops and work-a-day petitioners, sporting an air somewhere between the Prohibition and Casablanca (ie. that of uneasy truces and looking the other way). Outside the cities, a blasted landscape running with rivers of lava and industrial waste.

This renovated Gehenna feels like a place that's just thick with adventure potential.

Some great clearly defined unique themes came out of this: Exploitation. Libertarian dystopia. Organized crime. Illusion of free will. Plane of scoundrels & illusion. Stealing everything, including land from other planes/worlds. Ecological devastation and savage landscape between towns.

One poster brought up that the Rakshasa make a great fit for this interpretation of Gehenna, and could definitely see them as being architects behind the current face of the plane...Also, I've always wondered about the rakshasa / raavasta (arcanoloth) connection...

What if the "asteroids" and other bits of stolen planes/worlds were part of an experiment that ravaged Gehenna? Sounds like the sort of thing yugoloths would be involved with, an ancient Plane Breaker spell or artifact, stealing bits of worlds to stem the decay of Gehenna due to over-exploitation of its resources.

Wicke
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Just so people have a point

Just so people have a point of reference, here's a link to the original thread (well, the mirrored copy of the original):

http://mimir.planewalker.com/forum/planar-renovation-project-gehenna

Quickleaf
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Thanks Wicke. Also, if folks

Thanks Wicke. Also, if folks feel Gehenna is already sufficiently renovated, then we could always tackle a different plane...Bytopia seemed to get a partial but not full renovation, for example. Hopefully this can start to bring some traffic back to Planewalker. :)

Gehenna was re-imagined as a libertarian dystopia, with Exploitation the main theme.

With its inverse plane being Bytopia (a realm of honest free-willed hard work and spiritual commerce where every interaction benefits boths parties), Gehenna was re-imagined as a nexus of slavery and industrial exploitation. "It's nothing personal, just business" and "honor among thieves" tend to be catch phrases petitioners use. Some described the petitioners as mafia underlings, and emphasized crooked businesses/enterprises as a common theme.

With its mirror plane being the Beastlands, Gehenna was re-imagined as a polluted apocalyptic nightmare where petitioners are self-absorbed and distanced from nature. A series of ecological disasters happened on Gehenna and will continue to happen, making the existing resources harder and deadlier to extract. Mining, smelting, forging, liquid pain extraction, slave markets, sinister lotteries, gambling halls, black markets, and even some kind of geothermal power were among the potential enterprises discussed. "Survival of the fittest" is a common catchword.

It all makes me think the Rakshasa should have a stronger presence on this plane. The old 2e MM entry for rakshasa said their Maharajahs dwell mostly on the Outer Planes. I would suggest that Gehenna is their plane of preference or perhaps origin. The old "Ecology of the Rakshasas" article in Dragon doesn't mention the Outer Planes at all, so as far as I know the only official material linking rakshasa to a plane is the Planes of Law boxed set which gives one of the maharajahs a cube on Acheron. However, D&D rakshasa aren't about never ending pointless conflic...they are about exploitation, slavery, grinding people's spirits to dust before devouring them, maintaining a facade of civility while evil lurks beneath the surface, and organized crime. That screams Gehenna to me.

Wicke
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I'll add more, but I've been

I'll add more, but I've been without an internet connection for the past week. Just wanting to keep this alive and whatnot.

Quickleaf
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No worries. I'm trying to let

No worries. I'm trying to let folks over at ENWorld know that the forums are back up here. Probably will take several months before folks start trickling back in.

In keeping with the theme of organized crime and exploitation that seems to fit Gehenna, I am basing a thieves guild in my campaign there. I'm imagining the guild has a headquarters in Sigil's Lower Ward, an old blind tiefling Guildmaster named Old Graycloak, and lots of thieves working for its smuggling, racketeering, and slaving rings, with an emphasis on the thieves stealing abstract things (e.g. Lady Kindernis' shadow) or magical things (e.g. horn of a Baku) rather than normal goods. I imagine them as operating child sweatshops in Gehenna which are connected to Sigil via portals, circumventing any laws against such things. I also imagine them trading in nymphs trapped in glass cylinder enchanted with continual darkness, and other creatures who could be used in fiendish rituals, magic experiments, or as slaves. While Old Graycloak is the nominal master, the true power behind the guild is a rakshasi maharani (female version of maharajah) named Virushya who also controls the remnants of the Tacharim (from Great Modron March) and the Sarex of Bedlam (the shadow fiend Hrava being one of her agents), and manipulates behind the scenes of the Sodkillers.

I'm re-examining the barghests for how to use them in my campaign and make them a more compelling aspect of Gehenna. Their PSCS entry has very little on their habitat/society in regards to what they actually *do* on Gehenna...just that the ones that do return from feeding on the Prime have 12 HD and become lords of valley rifts living in isolation.
I guess they hunt petitioners, fued with (or get exploited by) yugoloths and/or rakshasa, and raid divine realms or planar settlements?
I remember some lore holds the barghest as an expression of mankind's own sin, so that might be an interesting link between the barghest strongholds and the planar communities of Gehenna?

Wicke
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How about examining potential

How about examining potential resentment coming from the barghests/rakshasa towards the 'loths? The natives were probably the relatively top dogs of Gehenna until the 'loths decided to move in and probably don't like losing their position of power and control. This leaves open the chance for all sorts of subversive/clandestine adventures, with characters working for individuals or groups and not knowing which ones are plants or fronts for other players, or when the players will be betrayed by somebody they thought of as an ally. It fits in with this notion we've developed of Gehenna as a plane of uneasy truces and alliances.

Palomides
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Carry On

I don't have anything new to contribute (that wasn't said on the earlier thread); but I am glad that someone at least partially agrees with me.
While I love the 'loths; I always thought that there needed to be more diversification of other residents on the plane in order to generate interesting conflicts to draw the PCs in.
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I like the idea of yugloths as an occupying regime that is precariously holding on to its control while various "local" factions secretly work to undermine them (and each other). Admittedly, the vibe feels more appropriate (at least to me) to Carceri; but I definitely encourage you to run with it. It gives the PCs a reason to visit (i.e. to stop some master plan of the 'loths) but can also raise moral dilemmas (e.g. if we help the rakshasa take down the 'loths; are we helping promote a worse evil?) So interesting possibilities

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Yes, the rakshasa and

Yes, the rakshasa and barghests trying to supplant the non-indigenous yugoloths sounds great.

Thanks for the feedback. After retreading the whole original thread, and your recent comment @Palomides, maybe we should pick another plane to renovate instead? My vote is for Bytopia, since it was unfinished in the original Planar Renovation Project, because a lot of people seemed to have lampooned it as "pointless", and because the original version just doesn't scream "Adventure here!" It's more like "stop for gnomish cider here and buy some handicrafts." ;-)

Palomides
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One-Stop

I'd be happy to re-visit Bytopia or any other plane. For convenience, here is a link to the links to the various renovation projects that have been attempted:
http://mimir.planewalker.com/forum/planar-renovation-project-list

Vaevictis Asmadi
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Interesting thread!

While I'm not comfortable with rewriting the structure or theme of the plane in a fundamental way, I like the mafia and slavery ideas suggested here as additions to the canonical Gehenna. I think keeping the "layers" finite is best -- that way, on Gehenna real estate is literally a "zero sum game." There just isn't enough (useable land, resources, food, whatever) to go around, so to get anything you MUST rip it away from somebody else.

The ecological devastation and exploitation angle doesn't seem suited to Gehenna's own landscapes, though, because it doesn't really have an ecology to ruin or damage. It has mineral resources and real estate to run out of, but not ecosystems.

What if the ruination of ecosystems is expressed through the "theft" of lands from other planes (usually prime worlds)? Sometimes when callous exploitation and greed ruins the land so thoroughly that the natural balance is not just tipped but utterly broken beyond repair, when the evil that destroys it becomes as callous as the fiends' own, or when the natives of Gehenna or the plane itself reach(es) out (somehow) to steal more real estate, a landscape can slide into Gehenna.

Sometimes stolen land appears as an "asteroid" in the sky, sometimes it's pasted on to the slopes of a mountain, and sometimes it falls out of the sky like a meteorite. The influx of new land replaces that which is eroded or knocked off into the infinite void. Every sighting of a new meteor or landmass sets off a land rush/gold rush as everyone who can races to rape and pillage it before everyone else. Even if the stolen landscape arrives physically intact (doesn't blow up in a crater), it's doomed to the utter obliteration of its ecosystems and cultures, the extinction of native life-forms, and the enslavement or corruption of whatever mortals once called it home. Any hope for recovery and healing is crushed. (Unless through some heroic effort somebody made a piece of Gehenna slide into the Outlands. In a neutral Multiverse, Lower Planes have to lose land exactly as often as the Upper Planes.)

Thus, there are ruins of lost civilizations, fossils (and maybe undead mockeries) of extinct species, remnants of natural resources in the process of being sucked dry, and communities of mortals descended from the unfortunate survivors of land theft, whose culture and self-determination were also robbed from them by the Rakshasas, Yugoloths, or Barghests -- not out of a Baatezu-like desire to rule, nor a militant desire to convert "heathens," nor even for fun as the Tanar'ri might do it -- but only by a hostile environment and the ruthless calculus of greed and business that sees every soul, living and dead, as just another resource.

Any society that survives does so by adapting to the ethos of the plane, falling to corruption and allowing themselves to be co-opted into the power politics of the mobs or slaving rings, or becoming lower-level parasites who prey on those even more desperate and weak than themselves for resources and space.

Not that many of them were likely shining utopias to begin with. Many civilizations that slide damned themselves through their own misuse of nature, much as the Gautiere damned themselves to Carceri through betrayal. But of course plenty of such civilizations bring victims of colonization or enslavement along for the "ride." As for their descendants, well, if they aren't strong enough to rise above their birth, they deserve whatever happens to them (so the natives would say).

Wicke
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I love revisiting these

I love revisiting these renovation threads.

Re: Gehenna's ecological devastation - In my mind at least, it more depicts the final aftermath of an environment whose needs are entirely subsumed to industrial pursuit and exploitation. Gehenna is the world that results after the mountain has been strip-mined down to nothing, all the wealth removed and nothing but the waste left. It's the wasteland that comes after the apocalypse. It's a plane-wide superfund site. On the flip side, you could also see it as the world that came before life emerged. Young Earth, pummeled by asteroids, with ever active volcanoes and rivers lava, and fissures that open up to expel clouds of toxic gasses or spew geysers of molten rock.