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View Full Version : Pathfinder Need a house rule to limit, but not stop, planar travel for a home brew setting



Lord of Shadows
2015-09-28, 09:18 PM
Working on a custom setting where part of the new rules were to be a limit on extra-planar travel. Originally it was just to be "no, it doesn't work," but I am looking for a more flexible mechanic that allows for a chance of success. Basically, any attempt to travel beyond the planes adjacent to the Prime should trigger this mechanic (outer planes, by most standard rule systems). I have tried something as simple as a Spellcraft check and also more complicated ideas, but just can't get something that feels right. So, if you have any ideas or suggestions, feel free to share. Questions are welcome, too.
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erradin
2015-09-28, 10:42 PM
You could make the transport require some unique conditions, like only during a special event (eclipse, emotional state, etc.)

If you want to borrow from Celtic myth and some folklore, perhaps there are no 'spells' that reach through the planes like that. Maybe the only ways were established by the extra-planar beings themselves and require you to reach a certain spot on the planet and walk a certain path around a mountain. Or perhaps they must swim into a certain cavern and weave a seaweed necklace, then hold their breath while wearing it until they drown. Then, they wake up in a bubble of air on the Plane of Water.

Another way is Incantations, from the 3.5 version of the Unearthed Arcana. You'll need to create your own Incantations before they're right' for your campaign setting, but one example they provide is Hrothgar's Journey, see below, which transports the 'casters' to one version of the Chaotic Good afterlife. Still alive, of course. The beauty of this solution, or the 'fey walk' solutions, is that players must be very careful to have return plans available to them, or they may need to search for a long time before finding their way home.

Sovelior Sage Provides the relevant Unearthed Arcana here: http://www.systemreferencedocuments.org/resources/systems/pennpaper/dnd35/soveliorsage/unearthedIncantations.html


Hrothgarís Journey
Conjuration (Teleportation)
Effective Level: 6th
Skill Check: Knowledge (arcana) DC 20, 2 successes; Perform (oratory) DC 20, 4 successes
Failure: 5d6 points of fire damage to caster
Components: V, S, M, SC, B
Casting Time: 60 minutes
Range: Touch
Target or Targets: Caster plus four to twelve other creatures
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Will negates (harmless) (DC 16 + caster's Cha modifier)
Spell Resistance: Yes (harmless)

Hrothgarís journey is an incantation based on the tale of Hrothgar, a powerful barbarian hero from ages past. When the poetic epic of Hrothgar is recited in the stifling heat of a sweat lodge during the winter solstice, the orator and his listeners receive the same final reward that Hrothgar did: a one-way trip to a mythic outer plane, where they can drink and make merry with the greatest warriors of myth.

To cast the incantation, the caster must construct a small, windowless hut in the middle of the forest, then build a bonfire in the hutís center. At least four and up to twelve others accompany the caster into the hut. Then the flames are lit and the telling of the tale of Hrothgar begins.

Because the bonfire is large and the hut is small, the atmosphere inside quickly gets stiflingly hot. This is the incantationís backlash; unlike most backlash components, it affects the incantationís other targets as well as the caster. Any creature inside the hut must make a Fortitude save every 10 minutes or suffer the effects of severe heat (as described in Heat Dangers).

Just as the tale of Hrothgar approaches its conclusion (near the end of the casting time), the bonfireís flames light the hut on fire, which creates a great deal of smoke but no additional heat or damage. If the final skill check succeeds, the flames consume the hutís roof and walls, revealing the mythic plain of legend.

Material Component: A windowless, thatched hut in a forest.

Backlash Component: Severe heat.

Extra Casters: Four required; they provide the dialogue for other characters in the epic of Hrothgar.

Campaign Use: Hrothgarís journey is well within the reach of mid-level PCs, especially bards. Of all the Outer Planes, this chaotic neutral/chaotic good plane is perhaps the most hospitable to PCs and the easiest to work into an ongoing campaign, so the incantation may be a good way to whet the playersí appetite for planar travel without opening up the entire cosmology. In the hands of NPCs, Hrothgarís journey can be an escape route for the barbarian raiders the characters have been chasing for months. Or a mischievous NPC bard can beckon the PCs into a warm hut on a cold winterís night, promising them a wondrous reward if they just listen to a taleÖ

Lord of Shadows
2015-09-29, 10:24 AM
You could make the transport require some unique conditions, like only during a special event (eclipse, emotional state, etc.)

If you want to borrow from Celtic myth and some folklore, perhaps there are no 'spells' that reach through the planes like that. Maybe the only ways were established by the extra-planar beings themselves and require you to reach a certain spot on the planet and walk a certain path around a mountain. Or perhaps they must swim into a certain cavern and weave a seaweed necklace, then hold their breath while wearing it until they drown. Then, they wake up in a bubble of air on the Plane of Water.

Another way is Incantations, from the 3.5 version of the Unearthed Arcana. You'll need to create your own Incantations before they're right' for your campaign setting, but one example they provide is Hrothgar's Journey, see below, which transports the 'casters' to one version of the Chaotic Good afterlife. Still alive, of course. The beauty of this solution, or the 'fey walk' solutions, is that players must be very careful to have return plans available to them, or they may need to search for a long time before finding their way home.

Sovelior Sage Provides the relevant Unearthed Arcana here: http://www.systemreferencedocuments.org/resources/systems/pennpaper/dnd35/soveliorsage/unearthedIncantations.html

The ritual angle sounds interesting, and the setting has an element of astronomy built into it. The playtest I ran featured an Armillary Sphere (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armillary_sphere) that was a powerful portal "open/close" artifact. Making a PC walk around a mountain doesn't sound appealing, but I remember hearing about "ancient portals " on one of those History Channel shows that were somehow activated. I don't recall how they worked, but that might be one way to go. Travel to the Inner Planes is unaffected by the block, and also unaffected is teleportation across the planet. What the original design wanted to do was keep people from popping into the Outer Planes on a whim.

Thanks for the ideas!
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Mark Hall
2015-09-29, 11:34 AM
I like the idea of astronomical conjunctions being necessary. You might also borrow from Dark Sun, which was surrounded by an enveloping plane known as "The Grey". You could do planar travel to the Grey fairly easily, and there was an adjacent "The Black" what was doable, but reaching further than that required you to know where you were going. The inner planes were somewhat accessible, but the Outer Planes required a lot of effort, and more or less needed a map to happen.

Aergoth
2015-09-29, 01:24 PM
Removing elements like plane shift and so on entirely and allowing traffic between the planes at certain points or at certain times is pretty easy to do. The one thing you want to consider is why these places aren't a free-for-all of creatures trying to get through (or maybe they are) on some kind of extraplanar vacation, or in search of food (depending on what kind of creature you're dealing with) and why they haven't been exploited.

The easiest way is to tie the place and time together, you might have a smaller gold rush effect, particularly if there's a portal to the elemental plane of earth that opens every once in a blue moon. This can be mitigated by a lack of adventuring types in your world (not always the best plan), but that's not a perfect fix.
The last thing to do is to make it known that the locations of these portals aren't fixed. There might be places where they're more likely to open, or where someone with the right know-how and tools could pressure them into opening if they do the right things at the right time.

Lord of Shadows
2015-09-29, 02:25 PM
The one thing you want to consider is why these places aren't a free-for-all of creatures trying to get through (or maybe they are) on some kind of extraplanar vacation, or in search of food (depending on what kind of creature you're dealing with) and why they haven't been exploited.

Actually, that was part of the most recent play test I ran. The Fey were trying to break through the barrier (they had done so before in the distant past) and the party had to stop them. Actually, it was just one faction of Fey, who had a prophecy that they would one day rule the universe.


The easiest way is to tie the place and time together, you might have a smaller gold rush effect, particularly if there's a portal to the elemental plane of earth that opens every once in a blue moon. This can be mitigated by a lack of adventuring types in your world (not always the best plan), but that's not a perfect fix.

The last thing to do is to make it known that the locations of these portals aren't fixed. There might be places where they're more likely to open, or where someone with the right know-how and tools could pressure them into opening if they do the right things at the right time.

I am working toward there being a mixture of fixed and "mobile" (i.e., spells/items) portals. Travel to the Inner planes has both ways. Fixed portals are guarded by dragons in this setting, and the world is "protected" from the dragons by Giants. Or at least that is what the legends say.
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Lord of Shadows
2015-09-29, 04:35 PM
I am curious if anyone has put together a "Guide to Planar Travel" or something similar. The only spell in the Core Rules this mechanic would seem to affect is Plane Shift, and possibly Gate if used to create a portal. The description of Gate provides an out, however: "Deities and other beings who rule a planar realm can prevent a gate from opening in their presence or personal demesnes if they so desire." Astral Projection is a strange one, it is Necromancy.

Edit - and magic items Cubic Gate, Amulet of the Planes, and Well of Many Worlds

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Qwertystop
2015-09-29, 09:53 PM
I like the Astral Caravan effect 3.5 Psions get. Basically, you have to walk there, it's a long way, and there's neither landmarks nor forage on the way.

Lord of Shadows
2015-10-04, 11:39 AM
As kind of a follow up to this, what are some things that could happen on a failed attempt? (Other than the obvious "sent to different plane")

Thanks
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erradin
2015-10-04, 11:59 AM
It depends on the route you go. The invocation I lested earlier has a natural drawnback- if it fails, you're stuck in a burning hut and choking on smoke.

But if you wanted to get fun, you could have the group accidentally punch a hole in the universe instead of transporting themselves. Properties of the target plane begin leaking through as the hole slowly closes. It's not large enough for everyone to get through, but it IS large enough for a gout of flame, say, or geyser of water to shoot through for a few rounds.

They could also arrive at their target plane anyway, but 100 feet in the air. OR transported to a random spot on the material plane. They might even find themselves on the astral or ethereal planes, only half-way to their destination.

Or, if they fail badly, something from the other side usurps their spell and enters their plane instead.

Eldan
2015-10-04, 12:15 PM
How about tying it to symbolic locations? I.e. to get to Hades, you need the slopes of a volcano, for Celestia, a holy mountain, to get to Arborea, a deep forest grove, etc. So finding the locations is a mini-adventure in itself.

Then you could also make something out of the astral travel to those places.

Nifft
2015-10-04, 12:23 PM
You could make the transport require some unique conditions, like only during a special event (eclipse, emotional state, etc.)

I did that, and it worked great.

The teleport spell required sunrise or sunset: it only worked when cast at those times, and you'd always arrive right at the current or next sunrise or sunset (which might be immediately, but you probably don't want to teleport to the North Pole unless you have a very good grasp on the polar calendar).

Plane shift worked by star rise, and some planes weren't available during part of the year (unless you were clever enough to know about the other hemisphere). The planar access bias meant that civilizations on the other hemisphere would develop differently for inherent environmental reasons.

If I wanted to restrict planar travel more, I'd do something like... one week per year, you do not have to expend the expensive and plane-specific planar tuning fork as a material component. The other 51 weeks, you can cast plane shift, but it will be expensive. Maybe during some special events like an eclipse (solar or lunar) you can also travel for free, I dunno.