Planes of Power
Welcome to the Planes
So much to cover in such a short time, so let’s dive in.
- PC creation guidelines can be found here.
- My rules can be found here.
- Setting specific variants are here.
- The various Planes and other locations can be found here.
- PCs will know each other (or know of each other) at campaign start. This can be worked out ahead of time or during the first session.
- Information on the various Factions can be found here.
- Be sure to read about Belief, because in the Planes, Belief has Power.
On to a bit about the game itself… allow me to share an explanation about Planescape I found on the web:
So, what’s appealing about Planescape? If I was to sell this to the average Dungeons & Dragons player and tell them what Planescape may offer them as a unique campaign setting, I might say that three major selling points of Planescape could include…
Fantasy Taken to the Edge: Planescape is not traditional fantasy. It is extreme and hyperbolic. When at its most iconic, it is not about elves and dwarves and hobbits and dragons and wizards, it is about Truth and Justice and Utopia and big, unanswerable, infinite questions like “What is the best way to live?” or “What is true in this subjective world?” or “Is War Good?” Its spellpunk grit and limitless potential variety serve this by simultaneously allowing for a high level of wahoo weirdness, but putting it in context as exploring those big questions. You, too, can play a free-willed intelligent sword strapped to the back of a particularly loyal golden retriever as a player character, if you want, but you play that character in context as seeking to answer the unanswerable questions that might arise from their life – what is good? What is bad? What is truth? What is the right way to be? Even the weirdest characters are pushed beyond their extremes in Planescape.
Infinite Perspectives: Planescape, when it is at its most iconic, is not a setting about Good Guys vs. Bad Guys. Instead, it is about the individual struggle of every person to make sense of their place in the infinite. Rather than simplistic “red lasers vs. blue lasers,” a Planescape story is a story whose conflict is as internal as it is external, with the characters forced to make a choice between reasonable enemies and unreasonable allies, where the constant question is “What SHOULD happen here?” Because of element 1, this includes demons with a heart of gold and selfishness and angels who push too far. It is a conflict among the good and the thoughtful, a conflict where the “good ending” is far from clear. Because of this, it is a setting about what each character believes, what each character wants the world to be like after they’ve left it. It is a setting with infinite shades of grey, where your ideals matter more than what cosmic team you’re wearing the jerseys of. Every angel is hiding a shadow, your demons are thoughtful, and your main antagonists are other mortal beings…and your own doubts.
You Shape Reality: While there are many games about small, local characters in small, local events that have major effects on individual lives, the most iconic Planescape games empower players to fundamentally alter the entire cosmos, according to their own vision. This fight might be long, and the struggle will certainly involve confronting those invested in another reality altogether, but the power to shake the heavens and twist the hells lies squarely with your characters. Your perspective has the possibility of becoming the objective truth, a reality defined by your own dreams and wishes. Of course, dreams can turn into nightmares, and some wishes are better off not being granted, so you will also need to face your own ideas run rampant, but when you emerge from this crucible, the very fabric of the multiverse will be forever changed by your hand. Your existence sends ripples through the world. That power – that responsibility – is yours to use as you can. It is also your enemies’.
For the Planewalker, a basic understanding of cosmology is crucial. After all, customs aren’t the only thing that change from place to place. Indeed, physical laws, gravity, magic (and magical items) and even the abilities of priests can change from place to place. So, to get around in the multiverse, you need to know three principles governing it all. Understanding these ideas is key (no pun intended) to getting around the Planes. They are: the Rule-of-Three, the Unity of Rings, and the Center of the Multiverse.
The first principle, the Rule-of-Three, says simply that things tend to happen in threes. The principles which govern the planes are themselves subject to this rule. Many folks say, “Good things come in threes.” (Bleakers point out that bad things do, too.) Maybe its true. After all, you have Good, Evil, Neutrality. Law, Chaos, Neutrality. Prime, Inner, Outer Planes. So… see two things and ask, “Where’s the Third?”
Unity of Rings
The second principle is the Unity of Rings, and notes that many things on the planes are circular, coming back around to where they started. This is true geographically as well as philosophically. What’s more, a ring is a thing without beginning or end – infinite, just like the Planes themselves. And there are rings everywhere: Sigil is a ring, the Outlands has many rings, the Outer Planes form the Great Ring. Even the Elemental Planes have a ring.
Center of All
The third principle (fitting neatly into the Rule-of-Three above) is the Center of All, and states that there is a center of everything — or, rather, wherever a person happens to be is the center of the multiverse… from their own perspective, at least. As most planes are functionally infinite, disproving anyone’s centricity would be impossible. In Planescape, this is meant philosophically just as much as it is meant in terms of multiversal geography.
The fact that anywhere could be the center of the multiverse in this view also implies that nowhere can be said to be the de facto true and only center. This sparks a lot of arguments and violence since some people believe the City of Doors to be the center due to its uncommon number of portals to other planes and position in the Outlands and some factions also claim different centers, each with their own significance.
All that leads to the next question… how do we get around? The easiest way to travel is via portal. Here’s a dark most Primes haven’t tumbled to: the Planes are lousy with doors to other places. So long as you have the right gate keys, your wits and some strength, you can get from anywhere to anywhere. That said, portals are bounded by pre-existing openings (usually doors and arches); the portal is destroyed when the opening is (i.e., if you destroy the archway, the portal in it vanishes [FYI, this is somewhat verboten in the Cage]). Portals also require portal keys to open; a key is usually a physical object, but it can also be an action or a state of being. Naturally occurring portals will often appear at random (a common occurrence in the city of Sigil (the City of Doors); some portals only exist for a brief period of time, or shift from one location to another.
Other methods of travel include the Astral and Ethereal planes as well as conduits, color pools, and gates. A conduit is typically an opening on a prime material plane which touches another plane. Think centers of tornados and volcanos. Traveling via Conduit can be dangerous. Gates are portals that are not bounded by physical apertures; gates are rare, and usually appear as a result of magical spells and rare planar phenomena.
Finally, when in the Outer Planes, one can walk from gate town to gate town.
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