View Full Version : Old School Planescape: Who's it good for?

2016-10-31, 04:44 PM
Outer planes are supposed to be idealized universes of alignments, where laws of physics are mere guidelines for alignments to manifest themselves and populated by beings of solidified alignment with alien mindsets wholly dedicated to their ideals. They should be awesome but theyíre not because of acute and chronic lamery and unimagination on part of old TSR writers. Also alignment is a bad thing in general, just look at any alignment discussion anywhere ever for proof.

Letís imagine for a second that alignment is a useful tool for abstracted gameplay and not a goddamn blackhole of idiocy in general. Planes of planescape still suck balls. Thereís absolutely no difference between almost all the upper planes, every single one is the idyllic land of pastoral bliss like your great great grandpa lived in combined with disney forests that city dwelling romantic muppets think nature is actually like. Celestia and Bytopia are the only ones that have a slight identity because the romanticized pastoral bliss is laid on one astronomical mountain and one astronomical mirror instead of a sheet of paper. Whereas if all lower planes were just regions of one big plane of evil nobody would ever notice, every single other lower planes might as well be just more layers of the Abyss.

This is bull**** and is the reason why weíre here in this thread. Fixing alignment isnít gonna be happening anytime soon but fixing outer planes just might happen. For this exercise, weíll assume trashing it all like 4E did isnít the best solution (even if it is). Weíre gonna find ways to fix the planes of Planescape so each one is going to be distinct with an actual identity that at least somewhat corresponds to its alignment. Weíll do fixing instead of trashing because Planescape is cool and we like Planescape.

Therefore, I want yíall to shoot me with ideas to make the planes great again. Ok, maybe not again as planes have never ever been that great. Though Iím sure you all understand perfectly why having every damn upper plane being the same damn thing is dumb and that only one of them (namely Beastlands) should be a disney forest. Also ideas that make the lower planes things that canít simply be another layer of the Abyss are needed because even Baator is just 9 floors of generic hellscape.
If you donít know regular planes of Planescape, wikipedia does. So does a bunch of other places. Anyone has cool ideas to make them not identical to others (creature X lives in plane Y is dumb and doesnít count, critters arenít planes despite what TSR claimed), chime in.

Hereís me starting with Arborea, the plane of chaotic good. Iím picking a general theme and making up special yet edition independant rules so it has a unique feel and will presumably be distinct from all the others. I know the name has connotations of nature and whatnot but screw that (I donít want to change its name because of tradition, even tho I really should name this place Arcadia). Iíll also try to come up with at least 2 gameable things about the plane, preferably name stolen from some official Planescape source.

Chaotic Good
The Plane of Friendship, Comfort and Creativity

Arborea is the heaven of artists. Itís an infinite space full of nothing yet anybody can create almost everything they desire. Every sentient being inside Arborea gains the ability to create any nonliving matter out of nothing with a simple thought, an ability thatís usually only reserved for powerful deities. The result is countless tiny worlds floating in the space, tailored to the tastes of the beings who created them (less Limbo, more Little Prince). Anything can be created in Arborea just by imagining it, from a simple ham sandwitch to palaces of marble and gold, from magic potions of curing all ailments to artifacts granting invincibility to the ravages of time. The essential requirements of sustenance are comfortably bypassed with a secondís thought and the meaninglessness of material wealth is magnified in its abundance, leaving those with an artistic bent unburdened by the necessities of living, with all the time in multiverse to perfect their skills and produce the great works theyíve always wanted to. Nothing created by imagination in Arborea can be taken out of it, everything immediately disappears if taken through a portal or another planar pathway but otherwise they stay permanently even if their creator leaves Arborea, untouched by age or wear. This requires interplanar trade to happen and thereís a lot of it for unimaginary materials from outside so Arborean artists can craft things that can be enjoyed by other peoples of the planes (usually paid with information, great performances of arts or instruction on crafts, for anything material from Arborea cannot be taken outside). Some of the finest works of art and greatest masters of crafts in the multiverse originate from Arborea, where the native eladrin have had millenia to perfect their vocations just for the joy of it and might spend just as long on an individual piece of work.

The only thing Arborea doesnít let you create is company, youíre gonna have to get it the old fashioned way (which is the point). And since nobody has any needs you can force or bribe them with, youíre gonna have to be personable, pleasant, charming or entertaining if you want other people to hang out with you. Arborea wants you to be nice and friendly, so it nudges you to become that by removing anything that might prevent you. Of course, itís entirely possible to be a recluse who avoids contact with everyone else, but what are you gonna do with your slice of infinity? Even the most curmudgeonly or antisocial guy starts to get bored after a few decades of absolute comfort in solitude.
Arborea isnít full of just peaceful hippies and joyful artists either. Itís the perfect location for R&R for the soldiers of Good who ceaselessly fight against the Evils of lower planes, so thereís plenty of encampments of warriors from Celestia or Arcadia on leave, where they can enjoy the sorts of things that could get frowned upon in their much stricter home planes but are par for the course in CGland. These militant celestials are usually pretty quick to respond to any disturbance near their facilities. However native eladrin of Arborea donít need their protection, as they have plenty among their numbers dedicated to arts of warfare and combat (whoíre just as skilled at their chosen professions as their artists), nor do they appreciate the ďorderĒ archons and devas are trying to bring where itís not wanted. This friction rarely boils into actual conflict (as the most aggressive and hotheaded of celestials usually hang out in Asgard instead) but itís known to happen.

Despite the relaxed nature of its inhabitants, Arborea is well protected. Not only are the warrior eladrin some of the best fighters in the multiverse, any inhabitant of Arborea is able to create formidable defenses in seconds, from armies of animated objects to most powerful of weapons. Moreover Arborea seems to have a mind of its own during crises, as the things created by invaders or evildoers disappear and they lose the creation ability Arborea grants to all sentients within it. This doesnít happen for lone individuals or small groups with evil intent, but it reliably prevents any large scale attack from outside ever being successful.

Overall, Arborea is a great place to exist in. It can get rather boring if you canít get along with predominantly CG inhabitants, but thereís no other place where you can be as lazy while living nearly as comfortable.

Gameable1: The Great WheelThe biggest casino of the planes is located here, which seems a strange place for it due to the complete meaninglessness of wealth in Arborea at first. However it quickly becomes apparent that gambling here is mostly for show and itís simply a place for people who have a love of games of chance to socialize and bond. Itís loud and garish and full of revellers and chronic gamblers. The city is full of servants of the goddess of good luck, who considers the massive casino city to be her divine domain. Created by Tymora herself long ago, the massive circular city with its colorfully painted streets and too bright magical lights looks much like a wheel of fortune from above. Squares and streets are full of beings gambling with cards, coins, dice or other doodads, and others who watch those games and wager on their outcomes. Buildings house more complicated engines of gambling, from simple roulette wheels to strange coin powered wager machines, usually operated by servants of Tymora. All creatures are welcome in the Great Wheel so long as theyíve come to play, even fiendish creatures or undead are allowed if they behave themselves.

The creative power Arborea grants to all sentients is blocked by Tymoraís divine will inside the city, with the notable exception of money. The fickle goddess gets a strange joy out of her servants ripping off visitors with ridiculous prices for anything and everything, while letting all of her visitors create infinite money at will. Nobody understands the point of this, though Tymorans offer various explanations and they go along with it, charging thousands of coins for the most basic of amenities (that theyíre allowed to create for free). Once every day, Tymoraís servants pile up all the money they got from the visitors in the giant depression in the middle of the Wheel (this is usually measurable with metric tons) and perform a ceremony of sacrifice. Millions of coins melt down and become a pool of gold, then evaporate, followed quickly by a warm rain of gold. The daily ritual is called Undone Purse Strings.

One of the most important and famous properties of the Great Wheel is its defenses against cheating, Tymoraís power makes certain no being can cheat in any game played in her divine realm. Any being who tries to cheat is immediately banished outside, leaving everything they have behind (including clothing). Cheaters are forbidden from entry for a long period of time and their belongings are all forfeit. Other than banishing cheaters, Tymora doesnít interfere with the visitors and her servants are not allowed to gamble themselves.

Of course, itís not all fun and games in the Great Wheel. Or rather itís all fun and games in the Great Wheel (because Tymora), but things might turn ugly outside. All manner of creatures come here to gamble and especially sore losers can cause trouble to the ones who beat them once outside her protection. Itís also a place of gambling for real stakes, itís well known some folks come to play using real wealth from outside Arborea in uncheatable games, especially demons who rarely, if ever, trust other demons to play fair elsewhere. Many a demonic battle has started from the tables of Tymoraís realm and itís not at all uncommon for unwise gamblers to ruin their lives (because Beshaba does like to visit her twin every once in a while).

Gameable 2: Temple of Perfection Despite its name, Temple of Perfection isnít a place for gods. Itís a place for science, where the only thing being worshipped is an ideal, the eternal dream of defeating death. The Temple is a massive building that would be called a hospital if hospitals were ever that big, with hundreds of operation theaters, patient rooms, laboratories, libraries, foundries, mortuaries, storage rooms and workshops. The surgeons and wizards and surgeon-wizards of Perfection are researching and experimenting to perfect the flawed bodies of mortals, chasing endless life through magical and medical procedures. Becoming a horrific decomposing monster inimical to all life is clearly not life, so all those liches and vampires are clearly doing it wrong. Neither is this becoming an outsider after death method, with the key words ďafter deathĒ in it. Trying to replace essential body functions with magic is also a folly, as ongoing magical effects are far too easy to disrupt. No, those are all wrong. Perfectionists will do it right. They will enhance their mortal bodies, replace bits and pieces with better working ones (that donít depend on magic to continue functioning), invent ways of eliminating all dangers to mortal bodies and attain endless, real life.

Surgeon-wizards of Perfection have developed many augmentations usable on many mortal races. They have created artifical hearts that donít get attacks, nerves that can heal and treatments that strengthen muscles and bones, thanks to the creative qualities of Arborea allowing them to perform medical and industrial feats literally impossible anywhere else. Not that theyíre anywhere near beating death, thereís still thousands of ways for a mortal body to die, the Perfectionists havenít beaten death but they certainly gave it a bloody nose. The only slight problem is that theyíre stuck in Arborea, as trying to leave would leave them with a severe lack of hearts, nervous systems and other bits. Also the processes required to craft many of the items required for Perfectionist treatments arenít possible outside of Arborea, so thereís no chance of replacing such body parts with unimagined copies made outside.

The few beings who know much about Perfectionists point out that living in Arborea is already endless life. And since Perfectionists donít seem like theyíll be able to leave anytime soon, there isnít much of a point to their endeavors. But Arborea is the plane of the obsessive artists and craftsmen, no reason why it canít be the plane of obsessive scientists too. Besides, if Arborea didnít like what they were doing, it wouldíve stopped them.

For most others, Perfectionists are sick sickos who pervert the power of Arborea with endlessly creating dead bodies to desecrate in a mad quest for knowledge. But as a result of their depravity, they know a whole lot about these things they call biology and medicine and information is the true wealth in Arborea. Theyíve also created some few medicines that can be created and used outside, saving a small but noticable number of mortal lives. Eladrin would just love to kick the Perfectionists out but thatíd be equal to executing them, so they grudgingly let them be. Thereís also all manner of beings out in the planes who would love to get their appendages on Perfectionist knowledge for the endless ways it can be weaponized, so eladrin figure itís better to keep Perfectionists where they can at least protect the information. Perfectionists themselves have a lust for information too and are known to employ all sorts of beings to experiment upon or bring them information they canít get themselves. Temple of Perfection is a busy place with many opportunities for profit for the brave and the unsqueamish.

Anyone wants to take a shot at another plane? Cos I don't really have ideas for all 16 of them (there's no Outlands, **** Outlands, Outlands is dumb). Even if you're not doing a full writeup, post your ideas. Locations within Arborea, or your own concepts for other planes are fine. So long as you're not posting what can be summed as disney forest (that's not Beastlands), you're good. In fact, you can post a better Arborea if you got it. I need more good ideas and am not averse to moving this concept to another plane.

2016-11-02, 02:32 PM
Not a single idea in the whole subforum? I knew you were all hacks >_>

Neutral Evil
The Plane of Corruption and Degradation

Hades is the corruptive hell. It pushes all who enter towards selfishness, the most fundamental evil, attempting to persuade even the noblest souls to start thinking that maybe they should be looking after number one first. The Gray Wasting is its method of corruption, a horrible disease that immediately afflicts every being within its borders and cannot be removed or suppressed by any means (other than leaving or direct divine intervention). Even undead or constructs arenít immune to Hadesí degradation. Gray Wasting starts hurting immediately, causing every creature in Hades to take constant damage (hp and physical stats) as their bodies visibly rot and weaken, causing great pain and also preventing any and all forms of natural or magical form of healing or recovery. The only way to stop the pain and reverse the rotting inside Hades is causing pain to other beings, be it pyhsical or psychological. Hades (or at least the Gray Wasting) seems to have a mind of its own and can sense the precise intent behind harming of others and rewards the afflicted with healing proportional to the amount of their enjoyment of the evil they do. Someone who reluctantly hurts another is given mere seconds of respite and tiny bit of healing (1 hp), whereas an evil being who enjoys harming others and would do it for fun even if it didnít have to gets healed and restored fully. And Hades provides plenty of victims for all of its dwellers in the form of soul larvae, the souls of evil mortals that come to Hades after they die and transform into tiny and helpless beings that can do nothing but squirm and eternally feel the rotting pain of the Gray Wasting. Soul larvae are absolutely everywhere inside Hades, making it extremely hard to resist the urge to simply grab one and hurt it a little to make your own pain stop (their disgusting appearance isn't doing them any favors either).

The true deviousness of Hades comes from the Gray Wastingís inability to kill or completely disable however, none of its victims will ever be rendered too weak to hurt a nearby soul larva to make their pain stop (damage stops at 1 hp and 1 str/dex/con, though not the pain). Coupled with the fact that anything thatís destroyed inside Hades is immediately transformed into a helpless soul larva (even larvae themselves or the elemental spirit animating a construct) and respawns somewhere else in the infinite gray desolation, means that Hades has a very good conversion rate for the good aligned beings unlucky enough to get stuck inside. After all, what kind of idiot would choose an eternity of inescapable horrible pain over just hurting a few evil (and fugly) souls who probably deserves it anyway? And why not enjoy yourself a little to hasten your recovery, since youíd just have to hurt a larger number of larvae to regain your strength if you were too reluctant about it? (DM is free to add in some save to not grab the nearest larva mechanic with endlessly increasing DCs at 1 hp)

As a result of these conditions, Hades is a heaven for evil fiends. Itís also the main battleground for the Blood War despite the incredible difficulty of killing any evil exemplar within it, since this one of the most reliable places to get rid of a demon or a devil in the multiverse for good, whoíd all simply respawn back in their home plane if killed anywhere else. The same conditions make it the most dangerous and horrifying plane for mortals and/or beings of good alignment.

The natives of Hades are the shapeshifting hags, more commonly called succubi or incubi depending on their chosen appearance for the day by ignorant mortals. As probably the weakest of fiendish races, theyíre marginalized to a great degree in their own home as legions of demons and devils battle for supremacy, trying to prove their evil as the correct type. Even daemons of Gehenna have colonized large parts of Hades for the incredible ease with which to find souls of evil mortals here compared to all other lower planes. Exterminating and enslaving hags in great numbers has become a favored activity of these invaders. Hags donít seem to mind this too much for some reason and, even while enslaved, they manage to thrive as spies, soldiers, tempters and consorts for other fiends. Thereís always the odd hag that dreams of rebellion but most have embraced their role as catspaws and servants for the stronger fiendish races, finding it easier to go with the flow and comfortably get the leftovers rather than fighting a hard battle before getting enslaved anyway. Some of them even approve, claiming their easy and comfortably decadent lifestyle in the best plane ever (from fiendish viewpoint) had already led to stagnation and ruin, causing their relative weakness and attracting the invaders. These hags serve willingly and eagerly, claiming their slavery and oppression at the claws of other fiends will ultimately strengthen them enough to recover the might their previously blissful existence cost them.

Despite looking like an endless gray desert, thereís plenty of sustenance to be found in Hades even for mortals. The soul larvae are universally nutritious for every being in the planes and while they taste like pain, they also act like healing potions when consumed in Hades (strength of the healing effect depends on the eaterís eagerness as always). Of course, thereís nothing to feed on if youíre not evil, Hades has no natural flora or fauna, but who'd rather starve to become a larva instead of gobbling up a couple? Soul larvae provide a complete diet for their consumers, even when outside Hades, no matter what their actual diet consists of. However a larva consumed outside Hades is gone for good, which is one of the extremely few ways of completely annihilating a soul.

Overall, Hades is a heaven for evil beings who enjoy hurting others and a horrific, corruptive hell for anything else. Itís a melting pot of evil, where every race of fiend can be found engaging in various evils. And not all fiends are of the fiendish races either, there's plenty of nonfiend creatures who've grown a taste for the Hadean lifestyle and could easily give any fiend a run for its money on evilness.

Ok, this one is admittedly lacking gameables. But it's so easy to put something fiendish in it, I don't see a need to do it myself. However, you are free to do so. Put a twist on good ol Wasting Tower or Roots of Ygddrasil or Base of Celestia using these simple concepts, c'mon.

Or give me ideas for other planes. That's also cool. I already told you I don't have enough ideas for all, you can't just wait for me to finish it myself.

2016-11-02, 03:11 PM
Not a single idea in the whole subforum? I knew you were all hacks >_>

It hadn't even been 24 hours, but with that tone no one's going to want to help you now.

Also you're kind of reinventing the wheel. A lot of this was already in Planescape. The planes were never as same-y as you seem to misconstrue them.

2016-11-06, 11:00 AM
The core system of Planescape is good at it is because there is no other common points shared by all creatures than alignment. Planescape is my favorite campaign because you can integrate any campaigns and it has unique fluff not duplicated anywhere else. (i use the D&D 2nd edition of Planescape as reference.).
Since the mechanisms of the planes is well thought, there is nothing to change (mechanically-wise) unlike some classes (which need fixes to become balanced) .

Now all you are complaining about is just the fluff so obviously nobody else will care, because it is just your point of view about the design/description of the Outer Planes. Some like how it is, others (like you) don't.

The Outlands and Sigil are (to me) even the best pieces of the Outer Planes (of course the authors could put some more efforts on the fluff) but the concept is awesome.

I owned all the Planescape boxes & supplements, and i wish you good luck to re-fluff them all (planes, realms, creatures, factions, NPC, etc...); it will take you years.

2016-11-12, 11:07 PM
For what it counts, I love the idea of reimagining the planes. I don't have a write up, as I'm on mobile and working, but a few things come to mind:

There is one thing that comes to mind with Hell, sin. We all know that the lords of hell are based on the Inferno, but at least I haven't seen a lot of differentiation between them. Why not focus on a token sin for each? & get that this is assumed, but I don't feel as though it's played up to its full potential. Belial, for example, is the lord of lies, so it would be fitting I feel for a grand court to be on his layer. Devils and petitioners wheeling and dealing a constant racket of persecution.
Mammon is widely regarded as the lord of greed, so his domain would be filled to the brim(stone) with merchants constantly trying to rip each other off. Soul trade would be prevalent here.

I'll post more ideas as I think of them!

2016-11-13, 10:19 AM
For this exercise, weíll assume trashing it all like 4E did isnít the best solution (even if it is).

How about trashing it all like Eberron did?

Or trashing it all like Dark Sun did?

Or trashing it all like ... etc.

- - -

But seriously, look at what Eberron did. Very much NOT the Great Circle cosmology, but also very much a viable cosmology which has interesting implications that are applicable to a lot of games.

Alternately, I could tell you about what I did in one game, which was to subvert the Great Circle into a river-based journey through various planes, kinda like the 4e Astral Sea (except way before 4e). Basically, the Great Cycle was about energy flowing from the silver sea of Celestia through the upper planes, until it passed through Faerie (which took the place of Limbo because Limbo is boring), after which the silvery river was supposed to pass through Mechanus, and from there back up to the silver sea.

Unfortunately, the ancient stories say that the Faeries made a bad deal at some point in the past, and now they owe Hell a tithe. This cracked the foundations of Faerie and now every time the great river of metaphysical energy passes through Faerie, a portion is siphoned off.

This portion flows through Pandemonium and into the Abyss, where the formerly life-giving energy is corrupted to produce the endless variety of horrors that spawn therein. It's speculated that the number of layers of the Abyss is unbounded and growing precisely because of this liquid power that the Abyss consumes.

Outward from the Abyss there is also a river of energy, but it's not particularly life-giving. Polluted by the excretions of the demonic denizens, the river Styx that flows from the Abyss is not at all a nice place to swim. This dark and foul river winds its way through the lower planes, over volcanic ash-planes and under sepulchral mists, accumulating effluvia and sin, until it finally ends its torturous journey at the gates of Hell. The river Styx cascades through all nine layers, eventually pooling like tar in the depths of the deepest Pit, where Asmodeus hoards whatever scraps of power or value remain.

Acheron is a desert, hulks of rusting metaphysical metal eternally frozen mid-errosion.

Mechanus lives on borrowed time, and borrowed water.

Each year, the silver sea is lower than before.

Originally, the river Oceanus flowed from Faerie to Acheron, which was a dumping ground for obsolete gods & concepts. The chaos-filled waters would break the concepts and god-corpses down into raw energy, and return them to the eternal cyclic flow. Mechanus would pull the broken-down raw metaphysical energy from the flow to construct new concepts. Celestia was nothing more than a reservoir for this energy.

Then the Abyss came into existence. This was not due to faeries making a bad deal -- rather, it was mortals making war on each other. Demons are bio-weapons created by one ancient, decadent mortal empire to utterly destroy another mortal empire. It worked -- a little too well, as the demons also destroyed their creators. Then they went on to corrupt & consume new mortal races, as the races matured and reached out for the planes.

Once the Abyss existed, the various celestials took up their positions along the remnants of the river Oceanus to do what they thought right. Those of more conservative bent (the Lawful Goods) built a great mountainous citadel to guard the reservoir. Those of a more free-thinking bent (the Chaotic Goods) patrol the length of the river.

Mortal magic created the siphon that causes so many problems, and mortal magic can repair it -- therefore the PCs are super-important and can actually fix the setting if they figure out what is going on. But if they don't, oh well, the multiverse probably has a few billion years left.

2016-11-14, 09:58 AM
Have you actually read any Planescape products? And the vast amount of fan-made stuff?
Because I don't see much new stuff, if any.

2016-11-14, 10:52 AM
That's what I thought, yeah.