PDA

View Full Version : Planescape



Tanuki Tales
2011-09-29, 07:23 PM
Would someone be so kind as to give someone completely ignorant to the setting an improptu crash course in it?

Topics
What is Planescape?
How fun is it compared to the Prime Material?
What's the deal with Sigil?
Is it just for higher level play or could you spend your entire career there?
Major movers and shakers (both individuals and factions).
Through the editions.
It's placement in the greater DnD multiverse (Greyhawk, Faerun, Dragonlance, Eberron, Dark Sun, etc).

And please feel free to turn this thread into a general discussion thread for Planescape as a whole. I did a search through for a Planescape thread and didn't find a general one that wasn't past the necromancy cut off date (though I could have missed it).

Thanks in advance!

Mark Hall
2011-09-29, 07:44 PM
Topics
What is Planescape?
How fun is it compared to the Prime Material?
What's the deal with Sigil?
Is it just for higher level play or could you spend your entire career there?
Major movers and shakers (both individuals and factions).
Through the editions.
It's placement in the greater DnD multiverse (Greyhawk, Faerun, Dragonlance, Eberron, Dark Sun, etc).



Planescape is the 2e setting that was the Outer Planes. It took the broad outline of the Manual of Planes and turned it into a campaign setting; as such, it connected directly with Faerun and Greyhawk, somewhat with Dragonlance and Dark Sun (both of which had a somewhat odd cosmology from traditional D&D). They used a lot of Cockney slang in developing the game's "style". It was designed as a ground-up setting... you could play from 1st on up there.

Sigil was the "City of Doors"... it's a place with a huge number of portals, which were natural dimensional gates that could be operated by specific keys... one gate may have a key of a piece of stone, another might require you to be thinking of Cheez wiz, and a third might only work for left-handed half-drow psionicists named Nancy.

I'm not going to go through all the factions; partially because I can't remember them, but also because later editions decided to toss them all. The big person individual is the Lady of Pain, a sort of quasi-deity who rules Sigil. She doesn't do much, except punish people who interfere with the dabus (odd creatures who speak in rebuses and maintain the city) and who worship her as a deity (she doesn't like that).

erikun
2011-09-29, 08:02 PM
What is Planescape?
There are six inner planes, sixteen outer planes, the infinite Astral plane and a multitude of demiplanes. Planescape is about exploring those planes, along with the various peoples that inhabit them.


How fun is it compared to the Prime Material?
The Prime Material is intended to be a "mundane" location. That is, a traditional fantasy setting with what we take for normal physics. Planescape is full of fantastic worlds, with a large number of "alien" races to encounter and a number of planes where the basics of time and gravity aren't always the same.

Basically, Planescape has far more fantastic settings, along with the option to visit others at 'any' time.


What's the deal with Sigil?
It is a central hub that gives characters a good reason to get from one plane to another easily. It also works as a place for the various factions/guilds of the setting to interact, and so a place for the player to run into them.


Is it just for higher level play or could you spend your entire career there?
You could theoretically spend low levels in Planescape, but you practically need some sort of elemental/planar protection to visit most locations. Probably by around fifth level a party could wander off on their own, but they'll still rely on established portals to move around planes.

There are low-level creatures wandering around, if you are worried about elementals and demons crushing characters everywhere they go.


Major movers and shakers (both individuals and factions).
The Lady of Pain isn't really a "mover and shaker", but the ruler and figurehead of Sigil. You follow the law, or she kills you. There are not exceptions.

The other big movers would be the Planescape factions, or the groups of people working towards a specific cause. There are also angels, demons, elemental lords, and others pulling strings and trying to influence Sigil politics. The link below, under "Resources", has information about specific NPCs and factions.


Through the editions.
Planescape first appeared in 2nd edition, pretty much as explained above.

Planescape was never an official 3rd edition setting, but here is the website (http://www.planewalker.com/) updating a lot of the Planescape material to 3.5e.

Planescape hasn't appeared in 4th edition, although there are a few sourcebooks about just travelling the Elemental Chaos/Astral Sea.


It's placement in the greater DnD multiverse (Greyhawk, Faerun, Dragonlance, Eberron, Dark Sun, etc).
Planescape isn't really connected to any of the above, although the default Prime Material Plane can be assumed to be Greyhawk. The original setting didn't get into the specific deities running around, if I recall, so you could use any set.

A similar but unrelated setting to Planescape was Spelljammer, which also started in 2nd edition and also only has an official 3rd edition website (http://www.spelljammer.org/). The main difference is that while Planescape deals with a number of established factions with a central setting (Sigil) and a large number of bizarre locations, Spelljammer is "ELVES IN SPAAAAACE!!!" with visiting a number of different Prime Material planes and no real central element. There isn't really anything equilivant to Sigil in Spelljammer (that I know of), and most locations you visit are expected to have standard time, standard gravity, mundane food and water, and so on.

holywhippet
2011-09-29, 08:59 PM
Technically the Lady of Pain doesn't always kill - sometimes she mazes people which is where she creates a pocket area just for someone who has annoyed her. There will be a way to escape, but it's not easy to find.

The portals that lead through parts of Sigil and to and from other planes are activated by various means - often unusual. You might need to be wearing a red cloak to activate one portal for example. Another might require you to whistle a merry tune and another again might require you to be thinking about purple unicorns.

The Lady of Pain is a complete enigma - there are many theories about her. She appears to be more powerful than most gods since she stops beings of power from entering Sigil. The god of portals, Aoskar, managed to get one of her Dabus to worship him so she blasted him to death with little more than a thought. Since most Gods draw power from the number and devotion of their worshippers, she is clearly not one.

Yanagi
2011-09-29, 10:26 PM
What is Planescape?

Planescape is a cosmological setting: basically, you're adventuring in the vast supernatural environment that surrounds and underpins the various Prime Material environments. The environments aren't discreet worlds--a globe with a geography--but instead pockets of infinity enclosed by thematicity...the element Fire, or the alignment Lawful Good.

The Upper Planes are interconnected with the realms of divine beings and aligned beings like devils and archons, and are effectively the Afterlife of 2e D&D. The Inner Planes embody the elements that intermingle to create the Prime Environments. The Astral and Ethereal are immense spaces that interconnect all of the different bit and pieces. All of the bits and pieces are loosely fit together into a cosmos, and there are immense intrigues and conflicts that span or ricochet across them.

How fun is it compared to the Prime Material?

It feels different than Prime settings. In Planescape all the myths, tall tales, archetypes and symbols are basically bottled together. This mash-up includes the gods, heroes, and locations of both the real world and D&D settings, and they're all striving and squabbling and intriguing. But there's also aligned cosmic powers and mere mortals running about getting involved.

The result is that adventures can have a much deeper sense of the metaphysical and philosophical to them, if one wishes to play up that element, and conflicts can have an all-effecting, cosmic component. On the other hand, cosmic sweeping events can be rendered mundane by the details: one of the charming aspects of the 2e books was how unfazed and chatty mere mortals could be about godlike beings and Armageddon-scale events.

More practically, Planescape cranks the fantastical elements of the RP up: basic physics, time, space, identity are flexible. There's are lots of extreme environments that are fundamental hostile to livings things, and a lot of planar beings are stranger and more alien.

What's the deal with Sigil?

Within the great cosmic tug-of-war I just mentioned, Sigil is neutral ground: gods can't enter, nor can super-powerful planar beings like archdevils. It's therefore a place where everyone goes to intrigue, and also a hidey-hole where the weak and the wanted can get away from the dominant forces of the Planes. It's also connected to a bunch of Prime locations, and is thus the jumping off point for Primes crossing into the planes.

Mechanically, it's where low-level characters can hang about and not be swatted by something unbeatable and/or inconceivable, and it's "City of Doors" component makes it the launch pad for adventures...*poof* you're in the location you need to be. As much as the Lady of Pain is a mystery, she's also a mechanical system that keeps Sigil neutral amongst all those super-beings that would want a piece.

Is it just for higher level play or could you spend your entire career there?


Published adventures in 2e were certainly built that way, though built into the setting is that there are more and less hostile environments.

Major movers and shakers (both individuals and factions).

Too many to list easily. Summarizing the in big clumps:

- Planar races that specifically advance an agenda related to their alignment and the (aligned) plane, such the devils of Baator or the demons of the Abyss. There's one of those for each D&D character alignment (and maybe a few extra).
-Races that dwell in the planes and have their own agendas, from the grandiose ambitious to the prosaic. Examples include the githyanki, the rakshasa, and the bladelings.
- Deities and their followers.
- Philosophical and ideological organizations that have formulated an understanding of individual conduct via their knowledge of the planes: these groups are often making quasi-religious assertions about the meaning of life and the nature of the soul, and thus have agendas colored by their particular beliefs. This in turn leads to sectarian conflicts, pursuit of knowledge that endorses one's worldview, and lots of politicking. The Factions of Sigil are the best examples, and feature prominently in many 2e adventures.
- The Lady of Pain, who keeps Sigil neutral and the ideological equivalent of minty-fresh.

Through the editions

The bulk of Planescape materials are 2e, though they reference cosmological ideas from earlier editions. There hasn't been a "Planescape" complete setting since 2e, though many fans have created materials for the setting in different mechanical systems.

The 3e Manual of the Planes rehashes the planes as laid out by Planescape. The, names, fluff, and crunch of many MM monsters--mostly those of Outsider type--derives from Planescape. The Planar Handbook revisits Sigil Factions and has PrCs related to several of them. Ideas in the Books of Exalted Deeds/Vile Darkness and the two Fiendish Codices are derived from Planescape, though not identical.

I know 4e has made some significant changes to the cosmology, but not the specifics.

It's placement in the greater DnD multiverse (Greyhawk, Faerun, Dragonlance, Eberron, Dark Sun, etc).

Basically, Planescape connected to the other settings--all of which were Prime worlds--at least theoretically. You die, or you hop a portal, and that's it.

PS materials routinely cited Forgotten Realms and Greyhawk materials; IIRC Dark Sun was somehow isolated (in canon) and not reachable by normal means. I dunno about Dragonlance.

In 3e Faerun got it's own cosmology and stopped referencing PS's planes. Eberron likewise had it's own cosmology.

Eldan
2011-09-30, 02:49 AM
Other people have answered a lot of these questions, but I'd still like to drop my opinion on you.


Many things. Amongst others:
An attempt to connect all AD&D settings. A place where gladiators from Athas could meet wizards from Faerun. Until later in 3rd edition, all other worlds were part of it. These days, the Forgotten Realms and Eberron have their own cosmologies, but back then, they were all part of the Wheel.
However, it is also more than that. It takes the Planes, which in one form or another have been around since the early days and makes them interesting, a world to play in, instead of an origin for monsters and a place for dead people to go. You will perhaps know the planes from the DMG, the Manual of the Planes, the Book of Exalted Deeds or the Fiendish Codices. If so, you know the geography and the bare bones, but not the tone.

What then, is the tone?
What mortals believe comes true. Outside the Prime Material, Faith moves Mountains. Tales shape the World. Things come in Threes. You Reap what you Sow. Every god, every demon, every devil, every power ever thought up is out there. And they are at war. Not to kill each other, that is a side effect. Not for gold or territory, those are small resources in the grand game. They want Belief. Faith. Souls. Power.
If all mortals were to believe that Asmodeus rules the universe, deep in their hearts? He would. If all inhabitants of a village become lawful evil overnight, that village will move to Hell, quite literally. What is believed, is true. Words are more powerful than swords.
But mortals have long ago seen the same thing. And so, there are the factions. The rulers of Sigil. Fifteen organizations of philosophers (with varying ratios of "Philosophy" to "Armed thugs"), who try to convince Mortalkind of their way of seeing the world. Are the Harmonium right, and Peace is a question of organization and Unity? Or the Free League, and it would all be better if everyone stopped telling others what to do? We'll see.

What then, are Sigil and the Lady of Pain? In the Metagame, they are necessities. The planes are infinite, travel is difficult, the environment can kill you, if the inhabitants don't. And they are at war. What is necessary to make this all a setting to play in, instead of one to die in, is a neutral hub. That is Sigil, as maintained by Her Serenity.
The City of Doors is a Ring of Stone, two miles in diameter, that sits, so some say, in the middle of the Multiverse. Every door, every window, every keyhole, every bound space can become a portal elsewhere, if you have the key. From Sigil, you can go anywhere. The factions hold in an iron fist, eager to control the flow of goods and people across the planes.
But everyone wants it. If Demogorgon got his hands on Sigil, the Blood War would be over in a day. If queen Titania, or Primus, or Shiva or Imix or any other power had Sigil, they would, literally Win the Universe.
And so, there is the Lady. The Lady cares for nothing but for Balance. The Peace of Sigil will be kept. There can be crime, there can be debate, there can be murder, theft and arson. But there will be no war. No god may enter Sigil. No one may Worship Her. There can be only fifteen factions. These are her commands. Do not break them, and you can go anywhere. Break them, and die.


Now, a few notes:
The correct tone, in Planescape, can be hard to hit. I don't often manage myself. The core idea, I think, is that the mundane is magical, and the magical is mundane. On the third layer of Pandemonium, where the wind sometimes flays your flesh from your bones, the screams drive you insane and the darkness is eternal, there you will find a tavern selling watery beer. The city of brass floats on a rock above an endless lake of fire. It has cobblers complaining about the price of bread. Sigil has titans as crimelords, and Eladrin in political parties trying to ban prime material immigrants. It has a war that spans ten thousand worlds and has been going on for millions of years, and people writing trashy romance novels set in that war.

Thrawn4
2011-09-30, 09:26 AM
Step 1: Play the video game "Planescape: Torment". And again. And again.
Step 2: Go to planewalker.com
Step 3: ???
Step 4: Profit.

Yora
2011-09-30, 11:41 AM
I think one very important this about Planescape is, that it is so much more than it's parts. If you just list up what places there are and what people inhabit them, it doesn't actually sound that interesting. But as a whole, it's really unique.

Now that I think of it, it is probably what it would look like if Terry Gilliam would run a D&D campaign. :smallbiggrin:

Mark Hall
2011-09-30, 12:47 PM
I think one very important this about Planescape is, that it is so much more than it's parts. If you just list up what places there are and what people inhabit them, it doesn't actually sound that interesting. But as a whole, it's really unique.

Now that I think of it, it is probably what it would look like if Terry Gilliam would run a D&D campaign. :smallbiggrin:

Berk, yer right barmy. The Planes is what ya make of them, and no amount of rattlin' yer bonebox at some clueless Prime is gonna give him the dark 'o it.

So sod off, and leave me alone.

:smallbiggrin:

Laura Eternata
2011-09-30, 02:59 PM
Step 1: Play the video game "Planescape: Torment". And again. And again.


I'll just leave this over here... (http://www.gog.com/en/gamecard/planescape_torment)

TheCountAlucard
2011-09-30, 03:52 PM
There are six inner planes, sixteen outer planes, the infinite Astral plane and a multitude of demiplanes.Technically all the planes are infinite, and the only one that could be argued otherwise is the Astral, which might be infinitesimal. :smalleek:

Eldan
2011-09-30, 04:27 PM
There's also not six, but 18 inner planes, by proper Planescape cosmology. And you forgot the ethereal.

A Weeping Angel
2011-09-30, 05:57 PM
Just tossing in my support for the greatness of Planescape: Torment as that is what got me interested in the setting.


Transcendent Order - Namer

Chilingsworth
2011-09-30, 05:59 PM
About Planescape and Forogtten Realms: In Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark, you can get a Sigil Native as a cohort. Is NwN HotU cannon? If it is, then I guess Sigil, at least, is still connected to FR.

Mark Hall
2011-09-30, 07:11 PM
About Planescape and Forogtten Realms: In Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark, you can get a Sigil Native as a cohort. Is NwN HotU cannon? If it is, then I guess Sigil, at least, is still connected to FR.

After Planescape came out, Sigil was integrated into the core cosmology. While WotC didn't do much with it in 3.x, it was there.

Yora
2011-10-01, 03:44 AM
In Baldur's Gate 2, Her'dalis and his tiefling theatre company are from Sigil.

Thrawn4
2011-10-01, 06:31 AM
I'll just leave this over here... (http://www.gog.com/en/gamecard/planescape_torment)
Great, I didn't know of this site.

There's also patches and additional content fixes somewhere in the web, but I don't remember it right now...

Eldan
2011-10-01, 01:46 PM
After Planescape came out, Sigil was integrated into the core cosmology. While WotC didn't do much with it in 3.x, it was there.

True, but technically, FR wasn't part of the core cosmology anymore. They got their own with third edition. The Great Tree, I think? I was never good with FR lore.

stainboy
2011-10-03, 06:23 PM
If I remember right there's nothing in the new FR cosmology that isn't on the Great Wheel, Faerunians just don't know about half the planes or the wheel arrangement. You can run Planescape connected with FR without really changing anything.

Eberron uses a cosmology that doesn't map to the Great Wheel though.


About high-level play: 2e Planescape is designed as a low-level setting even though it really doesn't seem like it would be. The intro advice in the boxed set focused on how fiends were generally more powerful than you and you shouldn't pick fights with them, how you'd need to use Sigil's portals to travel the planes, and so on.

Planescape goes out of its way to keep travel spells from disrupting this mode of play, especially Plane Shift. You can't Plane Shift to Sigil, you can't Plane Shift below the first layer of a plane, and half the planes are non-Euclidean so 1d100 x 5 miles could be anywhere.

Beleriphon
2011-10-03, 07:47 PM
Planescape first appeared in 2nd edition, pretty much as explained above.

Planescape was never an official 3rd edition setting, but here is the website (http://www.planewalker.com/) updating a lot of the Planescape material to 3.5e.

Planescape hasn't appeared in 4th edition, although there are a few sourcebooks about just travelling the Elemental Chaos/Astral Sea.

Correction, 4E Sigil appears in the DMG2, complete with references to the Faction War published adventure, previous iterations of the planes and the Lady of Pain, and the current crop of factions. It also does a pretty good job explaining the idea of Planescape in 4E paralance, albiet briefly (like an entire Chapter briefly).

Eldan
2011-10-04, 03:26 AM
Eberron uses a cosmology that doesn't map to the Great Wheel though.


Not that the Planewalkers haven't made an effort.

Eberron is a plane that was closed off (similar to Dark Sun or whatever the world of Dragonlance is called) from the rest of the planes by ancient dragon dieties. Inside its crystal sphere, there are thirteen demiplanes, orbitting it like moons, simulating a real cosmology.

There is even evidence to this fact in the official Eberron books:
http://www.bossythecow.com/Streets%20of%20Sharn.jpg

The city is Sharn. And look at the top of the central tower :smalltongue:

Alleran
2011-10-04, 05:57 AM
Not that the Planewalkers haven't made an effort.

Eberron is a plane that was closed off (similar to Dark Sun or whatever the world of Dragonlance is called) from the rest of the planes by ancient dragon dieties. Inside its crystal sphere, there are thirteen demiplanes, orbitting it like moons, simulating a real cosmology.
There are still a number of doors that allow entry and egress from the Eberron crystal sphere - however, they mostly come from the World Serpent Inn (as I recall, the one used most often comes out in front of a flower shop in Aundair) rather than the standard methods.

That was a 3.5e Dragon article, though, so how well it matches up with standard Planescape (which was never updated) I'm not certain.

Aidan305
2011-10-04, 06:09 AM
There's also not six, but 18 inner planes, by proper Planescape cosmology. And you forgot the ethereal.

Don't forget the Ordial, which may or may not exist as the 3rd Transitive plane.

Eldan
2011-10-04, 06:13 AM
I didn't include hypothetical planes, but yeah.

There's also, apparently, a gate to Hyperreality on Celestia. Or so the Planewalkers tell me.

stainboy
2011-10-04, 05:13 PM
The city is Sharn. And look at the top of the central tower :smalltongue:

*boggle*

I wonder if the picture's clip art. The figures don't overlap in a particularly complex way. "Quick Bob, we need art for page 117! Shop everything in your eberron_unfinished/ folder into a generic fantasy cityscape!"

Eldan
2011-10-05, 02:19 AM
To be honest, I don't know if it's a picture from a real Eberron book. The website claims it is, but it does seem very different from Wizards' usual style. A bit simpler and more cartoonish.

NoldorForce
2011-10-05, 01:16 PM
To be honest, I don't know if it's a picture from a real Eberron book. The website claims it is, but it does seem very different from Wizards' usual style. A bit simpler and more cartoonish.It's just fanart. I don't recall it in the Eberron books I've read (all except Stormreach), and it doesn't fit the printed styles of Eberron art.

Beleriphon
2011-10-05, 02:37 PM
It's just fanart. I don't recall it in the Eberron books I've read (all except Stormreach), and it doesn't fit the printed styles of Eberron art.

Its a fan art of Dane, Lei and Pierce from Keith Baker's City of Towers novel.

Eldan
2011-10-05, 02:38 PM
Ah. Thought it was real since it was on Baker's site.

Tanuki Tales
2011-10-07, 04:07 PM
Aw, so there isn't really any evidence of Eberron being connected to the other DnD multiverses aside from one Dragon article? (Which I would appreciate being given the number of.)

And thanks to everyone who's given their bits and pieces to this thread thus far, I've found them all quite enjoyable. ^_^

Now, since it was linked and I've read and seen so much about it, I was thinking of purchasing Planescape: Torment. But how is it as a game and how does it compare to the original NWN games?

Eldan
2011-10-07, 04:29 PM
Well.

It's a fantastic game. Regularly in the top of "best games ever" lists. That said, not everyone enjoys it.

The bad news first:

The system. Someone who appreciates the combat of other D&D games like the Baldur's gate series or NWN will perhaps be a bit disappointed here. There's really not too much tactics involved. It's AD&D, and a simplified version of that, too. There's less than two dozen spells, three (well, kinda four) classes, and every character has exactly one kind of weapon.

The Protagonist. Your character is an amnesiac, and starts a human fighter. No choice at all there, though you can take it in very different directions from there on.

Text. Walls and walls of text. If you don't like reading, this is not the game for you.


Now the good:

The story. Wow. It starts with an amnesiac waking up in a mortuary. Then it goes places you wouldn't have remotely expected, and they are all very, very good.

The setting. It's Planescape. But not just Planescape. It shows Planescape better than anything else shows Planescape, really. The quirks. The philosphy. The people. The slang. The city.

The characters. Your first party member is a floating, wise-cracking skull who fights by biting people and insulting them. He is in many aspects the most "normal" person you meet.

The graphics. It's isometric, with a locked camera and a low resolution. And parts of it are still absolutely gorgeous.

The music. Listen. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfEjKBPZNYU&feature=related) To. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gQKNflgdqU&feature=related) These. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZOuy4YM0AI)

And finally...
The mood. It's dark. It's morbid. It's sad. It's evil. The mood is so dense, it almost turns solid.

Edit: and the voice actors. It has a Modron (cube-shaped robot of pure law) voiced by Homer Simpson, an angel voiced by Q, a skull voiced by Pinky/Yakko Warner, Jennifer Hale (about half of all game females ever) as a Succubus and a Ghost and Judge Frollo/Shere Khan as... someone.

Aidan305
2011-10-07, 05:00 PM
Jennifer Hale (about half of all game females ever) as a Succubus
A chaste LG succubus at that, with one of so, so many heartbreaking stories.

Torment is, in many ways, a game about stories. Almost everyone you meet has one, and some have several, and every single one has been polished to near perfection. Who can forget the tale of the Crier of Es-Anon, Mourns-for-Trees, Reekwind or, gods grant her rest, Deionarra. And they're (mostly) just minor characters.

Mr.Silver
2011-10-07, 05:33 PM
A chaste LG succubus at that, with one of so, so many heartbreaking stories.

LN actually. Morte is the only companion who isn't Neutral.

But yeah, Torment is awesome and Planescape is far and away the best and most interesting thing ever to come out of D&D.

Beleriphon
2011-10-07, 07:11 PM
Now, since it was linked and I've read and seen so much about it, I was thinking of purchasing Planescape: Torment. But how is it as a game and how does it compare to the original NWN games?

It's a modified version of the Baldur's Gate 2 engine, in that it has a much closer view of the characters. As far as game play, it is most similar to BG1 and BG2, others have expounded on the pecularities (don't take that as a bad thing) far better than I can.

Alleran
2011-10-07, 08:13 PM
Who can forget the tale of the Crier of Es-Anon, Mourns-for-Trees, Reekwind or, gods grant her rest, Deionarra. And they're (mostly) just minor characters.
Deionarra's story always makes me feel terrible as the Nameless One. Even if it's not really my fault per se.

I think the First Incarnation, and what it was that he did to set all this off, will forever be one of those mysteries. Is there actually anything hinting at what it might have been other than being so terribly evil that a thousand lives of sainthood couldn't even begin to repair the damage?

Eldan
2011-10-08, 04:57 AM
No, they very carefully avoided that.

Also, spoilers.

Mark Hall
2011-10-08, 10:54 AM
Now, since it was linked and I've read and seen so much about it, I was thinking of purchasing Planescape: Torment. But how is it as a game and how does it compare to the original NWN games?

It really doesn't... NWN isn't even in the same league.

You know how in the 1st NWN, your character is just sorta there? Whatever your race, whatever your class, you go through the game the exact same way, because your PC is stand in for Protagonist Man? You don't have any family, you never really run into old friends (until expansion, when you run into NPCs)... you're just the "Insert Character Here."

In Planescape: Torment... one of the NPCs you encounter is someone you bullied years ago. You find the son of a man you killed. One of the cPCs* is a skull you pulled from the Pillar of Skulls in the Nine Hells. Another is an undead Mercykiller you trapped in a sewer. And then there's your former apprentice, and your former slave. You meet the ghost of the woman you loved before... and her father. You are not just the protagonist, you are part of the game world.

*Computer Player Characters... the ones you get to haul around with you, but aren't your main PC.

TheCountAlucard
2011-10-08, 11:27 AM
Don't forget the person you can create, and then afterward remove from the universe. :smallamused:

Tanuki Tales
2011-10-08, 05:55 PM
I meant gameplay, not storyline.

How do the game controls compare and everything?

Eldan
2011-10-08, 06:12 PM
Controls? Between horrible and meh. It's not what you play the game for.

The good news is, for 90% of the game, you only need "walk", "talk to" and "select answer".

The bad news is, you'll probably have ot pause in combat just to find your spells.

All but two, I think, fights in the game can be avoided. By running, by talking, by bribery... usually you als oget more XP that way.

Thrawn4
2011-10-08, 06:47 PM
It really doesn't... NWN isn't even in the same league.

In Planescape: Torment...

Spoiling is a very bad thing!

Mark Hall
2011-10-08, 07:09 PM
Spoiling is a very bad thing!

The game is twelve years old. Someone who was born when it was released could play it and enjoy it.

I regret nothing.

huttj509
2011-10-09, 01:54 AM
I think one aspect in how it handles the character's past involvement in the world is that, unlike many DnD-based RPGs I see, you can't create just any character.

In NWN, for example, when making your character, you can say "this is Lord Nicely the good, kind to all unless they attack first." This restricts the game from easily saying "here's someone you bullied," "but Lord Nicely wouldn't do that!"

P:T says "too bad, you did it anyway, now why would you do something like that, you jerk," because it has the story element to have done some very different things in the past of the main character.

I feel that by locking the main character in more firmly, the game gives itself more flexibility in saying "this is who the character was", while many Paper and Pencil based RPG games leave that a blank slate for the player to fill in, which restricts some story elements in favor of the "make your own hero" idea.

BTW, anyone else find the protagonist voiced by the actor who played the main character on "The Pretender" (Are you a doctor? I am today.) rather...fitting?

Balain
2011-10-09, 04:30 AM
Well I assume the OP was talking about the Pen and paper version so...

Most people have answered lots very well. I'll just say I love Planescape. Been awhile since I played or DMed in Planscape, Reading this I so want to get back into PLanescape. Maybe I'll work it into the 4th edition campaign we have going when they go epic. I


If you have a chance to play planescape, do it! :)

The computer version is also excellent and you should go play it if you get a chance.

Gadora
2011-10-10, 08:44 AM
There are still a number of doors that allow entry and egress from the Eberron crystal sphere - however, they mostly come from the World Serpent Inn (as I recall, the one used most often comes out in front of a flower shop in Aundair) rather than the standard methods.

That was a 3.5e Dragon article, though, so how well it matches up with standard Planescape (which was never updated) I'm not certain.


Aw, so there isn't really any evidence of Eberron being connected to the other DnD multiverses aside from one Dragon article? (Which I would appreciate being given the number of.)

Unless there's more than one issue that covers the World Serpent Inn, Alleran is talking about issue 351, one of the dozen or so issues I actually have a copy of. Unfortunately, while issue 351 does cover the location of the World Serpent Inn in seven settings, Eberron is not one of the settings it appears in.

Paseo H
2011-10-10, 02:53 PM
Original Poster: Baccano! is awesome.

As for Planescape, I wonder...why does everyone gloss over the fact of how terrible the Harmonium is? They committed genocide against the chaotic races on their planet. Sure, it was probably the Lawful Evils (the orcs and the beholders) who pursued it most fervently, but surely the Lawful Neutrals were fine with it, and the Lawful Good must have at the very least knowingly allowed it to happen.

As of second edition, we have the leader being a really overbearing jackhole of a paladin, who actually came from their home planet, so surely he knew of the ethnic cleansing that was committed.

So then, given all that, can we PLEASE be considered morally justified to distrust lawfulness?

Eldan
2011-10-10, 03:12 PM
At least according to the Ortho project on Planeswalker (I'm AFB right now) that was a long, long time ago and they kinda prefer pretending it didn't happen. They rarely do anything like that anymore.

Certain events in Torment are pretty clearly non-canon.

Yora
2011-10-10, 03:12 PM
Everyone in Planescape is terrible to some degree. Harmonium is really not the worst. They only have the claim of being good while not being it.

Tvtyrant
2011-10-10, 03:24 PM
Planescape is like an uber Eberron in that it incorporates anything and everything. It plays nice with almost all of the settings, and you can transition from it to another and back easily. The only one that I have a hard time getting it to work with in an actual game is Spelljammer, due to their having similar over-roles to the settings.

NichG
2011-10-10, 04:06 PM
Despite taking place in realms where good and evil are actual cosmic forces, have physical personifications, and are absolute, Planescape is very much not about good and evil.

Or more to the point, Planescape is the take on D&D cosmology where things of absolute good and evil are just like Bob the neighborhood butcher. They're entities that should have alien psychology but because of their origin are exaggeratedly human instead, and they go to the corner store for a jug of milk from a toothless old man, have tea while overlooking the spires of the city, etc like anyone else.

So a lot of what makes Planescape unique is the natural ennui about good and evil that comes from living among them (and seeing good creatures do really mean things in the name of good, and knowing evil creatures that while they could gut you and use your skin for parchment, they chat and do business like genteel individuals and save the parchment-making for hapless primes or people who are stupid enough to mess with them).

You could just have a setting where everyone is 'seen that, done that, bored now', and it'd be pretty awful. But instead, people in Planescape have replaced those things with their own particular views of how the universe works. They've seen good and evil, angels and demons, while still alive. A random beggar in Sigil might know more about the different types of angels than a priest from the prime. So since they're all in the know, they think they know what's 'really' going on behind the scenes of the universe, and those beliefs make up a complex inconsistent patchwork that's made even more messy by the fact that their belief gives those ideas some measure of power.

As such, there aren't really good guys and bad guys, or even necessarily 'us' and 'them' (though that does happen between a few of the factions like the Anarchists vs everyone else but the Xaositects). Those factions that are strongly alignment-based (Harmonium, Guvners, Mercykillers) tend to exaggerate some element of that alignment rather than going all over the board with it. The Harmonium, for example, don't care about cosmic Law so much as they just think that everyone would be better off if they ran things. They wouldn't prosecute a lich for living past his time, and might throw any Maruts that come to end him in the clink for assault and breach of the peace.

Eldan
2011-10-10, 04:15 PM
But instead, people in Planescape have replaced those things with their own particular views of how the universe works. They've seen good and evil, angels and demons, while still alive. A random beggar in Sigil might know more about the different types of angels than a priest from the prime.
e.

I've had some fun with that.
Like, Knowledge checks.
The party hears about "Balors".

The Prime Wizard makes his knowledge check. He gets this picture:
http://www.wizards.com/dnd/images/alumni_balor.jpg
He also knows about the history of demon summoning in the Doromag Empire, elemental resistances, hit dice, attacks and 99 reasons why Pelorite priests condemn Balors.

The Sigilite Rogue, instead, gets this picture:
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_J9PlRvGGXS8/SywoNYra8kI/AAAAAAAACqA/F2M-geSv6N0/s400/balor.jpg
He once had a balor neighbour. He knows what music they like to listen to (at three hours past antipeak, damn berks), that they have to have their houses custom-built so they don't burn, what they like to eat and that they rip off your head for pulling "funny" pranks with cold iron.

Yora
2011-10-10, 04:21 PM
I think an important theme of Planescape is, that nothing is as it seems. At least for people who are new to Sigil.
Good and Evil alignment exist and have very real effects, but at the same time, they don't matter at all. It may even offend Lawful Good visitors, but people in Sigil generally don't care if someone is good or evil. Everyone does what they want until someone else decides they want to stop them. But if you mange to not directly piss off someone who could be dangerous to you, you can get away with almost anything.

Ideology is a really major thing for the factions, but for everyone else, it doesn't matter what kind of creature you are or what you believe in. Unsurprisingly, this makes Sigil a giant rathole. There are some factions that impose some kind of order and justice, but usually its their very own brand of order and justice that you might not want to help you when you feel wronged. Otherwise, you are completely on your own. The only thing that keeps you safe is being feared, or having powerful friends, but it won't help you in any way if you think you've been wronged. Tough luck, that's your own problem.

Why is it that the greatest fantasy settings of the last two decades are so morally ambigious? Is it because clear good and evil poles are a bad idea to begin with, or is it just something that goes against the zeitgeist of the 21st century?

NichG
2011-10-10, 07:17 PM
Why is it that the greatest fantasy settings of the last two decades are so morally ambigious? Is it because clear good and evil poles are a bad idea to begin with, or is it just something that goes against the zeitgeist of the 21st century?

There's probably an element of both. Ambiguity makes you in some sense think about who to root for, sympathize with, etc, and can make for interesting discussion on that end of things. On the other hand, even if you have clear good and evil poles there can be things to discuss (any alignment debate is proof of that).

I'd liken it to two styles of mystery story. One style of mystery flat out tells you the culprit and circumstances of the crime up front, and then the story is about the investigator proving what you as the audience already know (perhaps with the investigator also having dramatic tension with superiors who don't believe him, etc, etc). Another style of mystery doesn't tell you anything the investigator hasn't seen, and as you read you can try to solve the mystery. (There's a third style where its impossible to solve the mystery as a reader, and at the end new information is introduced that the investigator kept secret, which would correspond to a sort of 'its evil because I say so!' sort of story).

So I'd say that the support of morally ambiguous settings is that it means that you as the reader/player/GM/etc can think about the morality, make your own decisions, and become invested that way (and can be emotionally effected when you're confronted with the little bit of any side that isn't quite like you want things to be).

Parra
2011-10-11, 02:25 AM
As for Planescape, I wonder...why does everyone gloss over the fact of how terrible the Harmonium is? They committed genocide against the chaotic races on their planet. Sure, it was probably the Lawful Evils (the orcs and the beholders) who pursued it most fervently, but surely the Lawful Neutrals were fine with it, and the Lawful Good must have at the very least knowingly allowed it to happen.


While I dont doubt they dabbled in a little casual geoncide, I saw what happend on the Harmoniums home world as more of a conversion of the Chaotic's to Lawfuls and less of a total genocide of the non-Lawfuls. So the traditionally Chaotic Evils on the Harmoniums home world were converted to Lawful Evils

Eldan
2011-10-11, 02:37 AM
Genocide of an elven nation is mentioned. But that was way back when, and the circumstances aren't exactly discussed, from what I remember.

I generally dislike the Harmonium, but I have to admit that the War of Iron showed some massive balls.

Mr.Silver
2011-10-11, 06:35 AM
Why is it that the greatest fantasy settings of the last two decades are so morally ambigious? Is it because clear good and evil poles are a bad idea to begin with, or is it just something that goes against the zeitgeist of the 21st century?
Which 'greatest fantasy settings' are we talking about here? :smalltongue:

My reasoning for this is that it might be closer to the first suggestion than the second, but not quite so clear-cut a matter. In terms of actualy story clear good vs. evil can work (if handled well) where it creates a strong conflict to base a narrative around. The problem with a good setting though is that for an interesting world you don't need a narrative, you need depth.
The problem with straight good vs. evil is that it's pretty clear-cut who's in the right and, as a consequence, it tends to preclude any real moral dillemmas since one side is always going to be the wrong one (or, in the case of Evil-v-Evil, the worse one; Good-v-Good seldom if ever happens outisde of misunderstandings). It also means that various factions are going to be sorted along the good-evil spectrum. Sure, the evil spectrum guys may claim to be doing the right thing, but we all know they're the bad guys so at best they're just deluding themselves. It's good for escapism, but the lack of ambiguity limits room for interpretation and can potentially be less relatable.

Carry2
2011-10-12, 05:13 PM
The problem with straight good vs. evil is that it's pretty clear-cut who's in the right and, as a consequence, it tends to preclude any real moral dillemmas...
The problem is more fundamental than that. The trouble with extremely clear-cut good and evil- i.e, the-thing-you-should-obviously-do vs. the-thing-you-should-obviously-not-do- is that it reveals very little about the characters' personalities. If a given situation or scenario makes the correct decision clear- i.e, 'anybody would do it'- then arriving at that decision tells you nothing about that specific individual.

The only way you can really demonstrate a character's commitment to X is to stick them in a situation where picking X will cost them Y- some other thing that might be considered valuable or desirable. And if you've got a tradeoff between two things the character might consider 'good', that tends to come off as moral ambiguity.

And to be fair, although the large-scale setup of, say, Tolkien's world has some fairly sharp good/evil divisions, the specific sequence of events does present the characters with moral quandaries. Should Frodo join the fellowship, despite his inexperience, or stay in Rivendell? Do you stand by Gandalf on the bridge of Khazad-Dum or run for your lives? Boromir has to choose between trying to defend his kingdom by seizing the ring or keeping faith with the fellowship. Then Frodo has to choose between staying with the party or striking out on his own. Then Sam has to choose whether to follow him, or try to defend/rescue Pip and Merry- as does Boromir, and Aragorn and Co.

These are all situations where the 'right' response is not entirely clear- at least from the characters' perspectives. Consequently, they tell you something about their relative loyalties or emotional values, and/or the kinds of choices or moral qualities that can work out well or badly under particular circumstances.

Eldan
2011-10-12, 05:18 PM
And, in the context of roleplaying, if there is an obvious good and evil, there is also, normally, an obvious good and an obvious bad choice. Which means that there is basically no choice for the character.

Carry2
2011-10-17, 11:35 AM
...Cripes, people, I'm not gonna eat ya.

Look, the point I'm making is that good vs. evil doesn't inherently make the setting more interesting or make the setting less interesting. If your group is essentially into PowerChess against a steady tide of oncoming dispensible mooks, then good vs. evil is handy for ensuring a ready supply of the latter that you can slaughter without feeling bad about it. (Heck, there's plenty of this in Tolkien, so you're in good company.)

If you want to focus on character development, then good vs. evil might either help you or hinder you- handled badly, it can obliterate nuance and subtlety, but it can also raise the stakes of other moral/ethical conflicts- e.g, "the free individual vs. the impartial law" can be interesting in itself, but that kind of decision-point is particularly tense if it might impact your kingdom's ability to fend off hordes of ravening undead.

You can also argue that extremely clear-cut good/evil isn't entirely realistic, in the sense that it rarely turns up in our world, but this *is* fantasy we're talking about, so a supernatural plot device or two can be excused there.


I guess the reason why the Planescape setting feels peculiarly amoral despite being ostensibly smack-dab in the middle of an epic conflict between polarised moral extremes is precisely because there are elaborate mechanisms in place to prevent any serious dust-up between the opposing teams. As long as Spire and the Lady of Pain are around, real good/evil conflict is simply not allowed to materialise. The demons have to maintain at least a modicum of surface civility, and the angels have to pursue their agendas in a roundabout, manipulative way.

.

Tvtyrant
2011-10-17, 03:10 PM
I still want to make a campaign where Mechanus goes to war with Limbo and restarts the Law-Chaos axis war, which trumps the Good-Evil axis war and the blood war.

Eldan
2011-10-17, 03:25 PM
The war never stopped. The Blood war is it's continuation by proxy, really. It says so several times. The celestials don't really want either side to win, but they all know which side they'd rather see win. The Archons help the hells, the Eladrin the Abyss, if only in the vaguest sense. Slaad and Modrons a bit more openly.

Parra
2011-10-18, 02:38 AM
Pretty much. Most of the Planescape setting is about the Law-Chaos divide (war) and is hidden by various proxy conflicts, not least of which is the Blood War